August 29, 2008

Auntie Em! Auntie Em!

[Picture-heavy post, Dear Readers.]

How I know, relationship-wise, that I’m not in Kansas anymore:

Yesterday morning I was here, wrapping up a four-day mini-vacation in this cabin on Vashon Island, including prancing around in the hot tub in just my skivvies (me, the Queen of Prudes! In my skivvies! In a hot tub!)...

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...and that night, not 24 hours after the skivvy incident and a mere six hours after leaving the cabin, I was here, at a Seattle Storm game:

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Whu-huh?! What happened to the life I'm used to, my comfort zone, where I stayed home and did absolutely nothing?

But, wait, there’s more! Apparently my future also includes rooting for a co-worker at his black-belt test, a bonfire party at a local beach, a koffee klatch, a movie night, dancing, a hike, a dye party, a trip to Oregon Flock and Fiber, the cruise, and a trip to my sister’s. I repeat: Whu-huh?! Nope, de-finitely not in Kansas anymore.

More about the mini-vacation:

Vashon was…green. Lush. Green and lush. Lush and green. And, thanks to the current weather, wonderfully, romantically stormy, windy and moody (not that the romantic part did me any good, but it’s still the best way to describe it). Our hosts at the cabin were Larry, Gordon, Scarlet, and Walker—Homo sapiens, Canis lupus familiaris, Felis catus, and Felis catus, respectively.

Here, the view from the front yard, with Scarlet parading around:

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The same view from inside the cozy cabin (note infamous hot tub):

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My courage heart, which I brought with me and hung up somewhere very visible to remind me that the dark world is easily one unguarded moment away:

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The plan was just to slob around, knit, read and Kindle. We tried, we really tried to just slob around but we accidently also engaged in “retail therapy,” wandered the beaches, flew kites, talked, sightsaw, watched the Democratic Convention, watched “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” and Elaine and I played many hands of cutthroat cribbage (think the Jets and the Sharks from West Side Story). Granted, I won a couple of more games than Elaine did but she brought me to my knees with this (cribbage aficionados, count this baby up):

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And the food? Good Lord! Elaine the Miracle Worker, with some careful pre-planning, managed to make things like this herbed cheese-and-potato torte with poached eggs using only a sad, two-burner hot-plate.

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Leslie, flying a kite. I love this photo:

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The one thing I wanted to see on the island was this but we weren’t able to find it, despite our best efforts. So, we settled for the poor man’s version, a red tricycle someone had stuck up in a tree:

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(The islanders apparently try to capitalize as much as possible on the only interesting thing on the island, since the next day we found yet another red bicycle stuck up in another tree.)

How I knew I was home after the cabin trip. Guess who in my just-emptied cooler:

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Knitting did happen, cross my heart. Both the front and the back plus half a sleeve of the Fishermen’s Sweater are done. Here are some pictures of the back from last week :

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The yoke, masquerading as a complicated and fancy stitch, is actually just a two-by-two checkerboard. Fun, easy, gives a lot of bang for the buck, especially in this pattern. Can’t wait to finish this puppy. It’s been a kick!

Posted by Ryan at 01:59 PM | Comments (13)

August 20, 2008

Ramblings of a Muddled Mind

I pride myself on being somewhat inter-generational, old enough to remember Woodstock but hep enough to understand, albeit nominally, the modern young person’s with-it, high-tech world (even if I don’t have cable, an iPod or an iPhone). However, I recently ran head-first into my Waterloo: FaceBook.

My prodigal pal Anne (hi, Anne!!!) “friended” me on FaceBook so I created a profile and friended her back (because I’d figured out that much, at least), and then other friends found me and friended me, so I friended them back...and then after a few days things settled down and the friending mania stopped.

Then I found myself thinking, “Now what?” I’m on FaceBook, I have a profile, I’ve been friended, I’m totally phat, I have homies, I'm part of a posse, and now—seriously—what? I’m stumped. What do people do on FaceBook? It’s not as if I don’t understand the social-networking concept since I’m all ovuh Ravelry, but this is different. Take away the commonality of knitting, and I’m left lost and kornfused. Perhaps I should do what I always do: Go home and ask my washing machine. It’ll know what to do.*

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The t-shirt for my co-workers grandson is going well, if by “going well,” I mean, “I knitted on it for two consecutive days without casting on for something else.” I’m using Dale Baby Ull, which for some reason this time around has an extraordinarily lovely feel to it: cottony, silky, springy. I don’t know what’s making the difference but even other knitters have asked, “Oh, my gosh, what yarn is this?!,” expecting me to say, a rare blend of angora, pashmina, qiviut, vicuña, yak, and the undercoat of a baby snow leopard, and this is the only ball of it in the world, and it’s all mine, neener, neener—and have been astonished by the real answer, which is just some old crappy workhorse of a yarn. All of which is to say, between the great pattern and the great yarn, I’m having a blast, and remembering for the first time in a long time why I like to knit.

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It’s been a long time since I posted any Kooky Krafts but this one just cries out be posted. This is more sculpture/art than a kraft but it is definitely kooky, and definitely remarkable, if a little macabre. This artist creates the skeletons that he imagines cartoon characters would have inside them. It’s worth clicking through all the pictures.

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Before I wrap up for the day, I want to send a shout out to Vaire. Vaire has been one of the most loyal Dear Readers, reading Mossy Cottage almost from the beginning, and I was so tickled to see a comment from her on my last entry. And lest you think I don’t get attached to my commenters, I still remember, to this day, five+ years later, many commenters who have come and gone, like Barb from Texas and MysteryBookLover (Debra). If any of you guys are still out there, mwah!!

*My sentient washing machine now has a name, “Bill.” I’m reading a marvelous, don’t-want-it-to-end sci-fi book called “Chindi.” In the book, all the space ships are run by a very human-like AI computer, but to prevent confusion when a captain switches from one space ship to another, all the AI computers on all the ships are called “Bill.” So “Bill” it is. Although last night my washing machine informed me it would rather be called “William.” A washing machine with 'tude. Great. Next thing you know, it will have a FaceBook profile and will be friending Mr. Washie.

Posted by Ryan at 11:26 AM | Comments (27)

August 18, 2008

Sleuthing

This is not a good sign.

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Let’s see if my hunch is right.

Walking through the living room…

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Walking up the spiral stair case…

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Walking into the loft…

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…and sure enough. This drawer, which was closed when I left for work, is now…

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Which explains:

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So, is the drawer full of:

A. Acrylic which I hope bionic moths discover and eat?

B. Balls of half-used yarn that are of absolutely no value to me but that I keep anyway because.....I don’t know why?

C. My all-time favorite sock yarns that I love with a stalker-ish love and which I've carefully stored away in anticipation of years of knitting delight? (Imagine flashing marquis lights, a large red arrow pointing left, also flashing, and the sound "Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!" here.)

But all in all, I shouldn’t be surprised, since this morning the cats were making such a racket that I shut them out of the bedroom...and Benny let himself back in. He turned the (slippery round) doorknob and sashayed back in. I now live with a clothes washer and two cats who are smarter than I am. And I hear that some of the skeins of yarn are taking their GEDs, so they’re not far behind.

Of course, when the cats sense I’m less than pleased with them, they run to the couch and do this...

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I can’t win.

Posted by Ryan at 09:32 AM | Comments (28)

August 13, 2008

Spider: 1; Benny: 0

spider2.bmpWe Northwesterners are very familiar with the huge (non-poisonous) house spiders that lumber through our homes. If people who live elsewhere see a spider this size even once, it becomes a tale they tell their grandchildren:“Why, sonny, I remember the time I walked to school ten miles, barefoot, in the snow, and when I got to school, there was this spider…” For us, it’s more “Move your foot; here comes another one.” Last night, however, Benny found the largest of these spiders that I’ve ever seen. You know how in Jurassic Park you can tell the T. rex is coming because you can see the vibrations in the puddle? That big. Benny proceeded to beat the crap out of the spider, bowling it across the rug, squashing it, raking it with his claws, poking it vigorously with his nose. When Benny was done (well, not done; he was unceremoniously thrown into the bedroom so he wouldn’t eat the spider. Or, more accurately, so that I didn’t have to watch him eat it, because it’s all about me), the spider, now known as Mr. Machismo, got up and walked away, unscathed. (And was then scooped up in my patented cup-and-paper Scoopinator and dumped outside.) I am very impressed by that spider and the Hand that wrought it.

On the other end of the spectrum, Joon: 4, moths: 0. Woot! Only I haven’t the vaguest idea where the moths are coming from. This concerns me. But according to my personal Prime Directive, I can’t kill them, even if they decimate every yard of yarn I own. If the cat eats them, that’s another matter altogether because that’s, you know, “nature.” Although, in one of my less finer moments, I might possibly have shown her where one was. Apparently my personal Prime Directive is a little elastic. I can't do the dirty work myself but I can hire a contract killer.

Lastly, the only thing worse than waking up to a cat face 1” away from your nose, is opening up your eyes to the other end, just as nearby.

On the knitting front, uncharacteristically, I’m just piling up the UFO’s left and right. The bomber jacket is still on the needles because I'm not convinced I have enough yarn, I’m picking away at three pairs of socks and not caring much if they get done or not, Elmira is still languishing, and I started a Fisherman T-Shirt (my fave baby-sweater pattern) in Dale Baby Ull. This is just not me. Help!

P.S. Do you think it’s a bad thing that, lately, whenever I see a newborn baby, I’ve been yelling at it under my breath, “Go back in! Go back in! It’s not safe out here!”

Posted by Ryan at 10:14 AM | Comments (23)

August 11, 2008

A Moment

Sunday morning.

It’s a little cool out for summer, but the sun is shining.

A plate of crisp, warm, buttery cinnamon toast rests on my lap.

A flowered mug of hot, sweet, milky tea sits on the side table.

Both cats are curled up on the couch, tails over noses.

For an instant I think…

“Life is good.”

And then it’s gone.

It’s not much.

But it’s a start.

Thank you all for this gift.

Posted by Ryan at 09:21 AM | Comments (28)

August 07, 2008

Cruisin'!

This:

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Has turned into this:

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Metaphor for life? Discuss.

(In answer to the three unspoken questions: The color in the first photo is more accurate; Fleece Artist Trail Socks; and a supremely generic pattern out of my head.)

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Cat tale o’ the day (my apologies for the frequency of these, but since I don’t have contact with my beloved Frankie anymore, I make do with what I’ve got, and what I’ve got is catz).

My sister sent me a remarkable gift the other day: a blue felt heart with a little metal adornment on it that simply says “Courage.” Needless to say, I bawled, right there, outside, in front of my mailbox. The word, the concept of “courage” was not one I had thought of, and yet it was perfect and inspiring, and slipstreams perfectly into what I’m having to do right now. When I was done bawling, I immediately hung the heart high up on the wall in my bedroom so it would be the first thing I would see every morning and last thing I would see every night.

By the time I came home from work the next day, the heart was gone, having succumbed to the fate of the hair trap. I hunted the heart down and rehung it, but later that night it was gone again. Rehung. Gone by this morning. Rehung. Gone by the time I got out of the bathroom. Rehung. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “having your heart toyed with.”

Oh, and last night I spent ten minutes wandering around the yard in nothing but a t-shirt, looking for a black cat at night. Finally retrieved my little escape artist (Joon) and then went back and shut the window that I had cracked open because it was hellaciously hot and I was sure the window was too heavy for them to open further. Wrong. (I will now go set up an altar to the man who invented the flashlight and the god who made sure Joon had at least some white on her.)

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ship.bmpSo, I did it: I reserved a spot on the cruise. Only what was at first a relatively inexpensive cruise to Mexico in October has now become a horrendously expensive trip to the Caribbean in November, because my primary goal is to be nowhere near the city of Seattle, or even, apparently, the West coast of either North or South America, during Thanksgiving. I think Fort Lauderdale, Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Netherland Antilles and the Bahamas should just about do it. Besides, me and 1800 other women, on a cruise ship, in the Caribbean? Sunning, snorkeling, swimming, dancing, eating, soaking in hot tubs, taking spa treatments, and that all-important activity—doing nothing but knitting? Worth it, even if I have to eat mac and cheese for the next two years. On the even more positive side, I got a two-fer which means I either get the stateroom to myself, or get to take someone with me for quarter price. Hmmmm…

(Notice that for my clipart I found a picture of a ship which, curiously, seems to have a ball of yarn in it. I’m sure the artist thinks it’s an abstract rendering of waves, symbolic of adventures on the high seas, but you and I know better.)

Posted by Ryan at 09:28 AM | Comments (11)

August 04, 2008

The Joys of Motherhood

Guess what time I go to bed? 11:00 p.m. Guess what time the cats wake up? 11:00 p.m.

Last night, while I was wrapping things up on the laptop, odd things were happening behind me:

Rattleclack—A bottle of pills hitting the floor

Rattlerattlerattlerattlerattlerattlerattlerattlerattlerattlerattlerattlerattle—The bottle of pills being propelled merrily along, four-legged-Beckham style

Rattlescrape (silence)—The bottle of pills disappearing into the small gap under the couch, from whence I had to retrieve it since it was a Very Important Bottle of Pills

Kathump—A book hitting the floor

Gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw—The cover of the book biting the dust

Grubcracklegrubcracklegrubgrubcracklecrackle—Joon, one leg stuck in armpit deep, rooting around in my knapsack, which had a crackly supermarket bag in it

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh—A long piece of yarn being pulled out of my knitting bag

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Ping!—Four wooden knitting needles and one metal one hitting the tile floor

Stuffstuffstuffstuffstuff. Thump! Slam! Scrape.—Me cramming all the knitting items back in a bag, throwing the bag in a cabinet, shutting the cabinet, and sitting down at the laptop again.

Licklicklicklicklicklicklick—Benny on the stove, licking a spoon

Thunk…thunk…thunk…thunk—Joon trying unsuccessfully to open the under-sink kitchen cabinet.

Pick…pick…pick…pick…PICK…PICK…PICK…PICK…PICKPICKPICKPICKPICK: Benny trying, also unsuccessfully, to pull the hair trap, which I forgot to put away, out of the shower drain.

Thwack!—Both of them knocking over a plastic laundry rack.

Mrow?—Benny trying to figure out how to get unstuck from underneath the laundry rack.

Rooooooooooooooooooowwwwr. Roooooooooooooooooowwwwr. Rooooooooooooooooooowwwwr. Roooooooooooooooooowwwwr.—Benny telling Joon she’s a buttface for laughing at him while he was stuck under the laundry rack, and he’s going to pound her good. Joon saying, “You and who’s army?” Benny telling Joon she’s a stupid brat sister and he wished she’d never been born. Joon calling Benny a sissy boy who has no balls. Benny has no comeback to this because (a) it’s true and (b) saying, “Oh, yeah? Well, you have no uterus.,” doesn’t have the same impact.

POW!!!!!—My head exploding.

Oh, and there’s this, the first cat-related, knitting-related casualty:

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As much as I’d like to blame this on a cat, I can’t.

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Knitters, please explain to me how a whole strand of yarn can be inserted into a small hole between the plies of another section of the same ball of yarn, effectively making the yarn double back on itself, between itself? Based on my limited understanding of physics, the only way this can be done is if the free end of the yarn is physically passed between the plies, like, with a Chibi. But what if there is no free end to the yarn? In my case, one end is occupied by the ball of yarn and the other by a sock, both too large to pass between the small hole in the plies. And yet... Knots I understand, but this, not so much. At any rate, the above is the result of my trying to fix this problem by unrolling the ball of yarn and pulling the end back out between the plies, and not being smart enough to roll it back into a ball as I went along.

Any knitting successes lately? Well, there’s this:

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I’m using some wonderfully kickass-bright yarn dyed by Janine, and my low-key Dublin Bay sock pattern since, despite being kickass bright, the sock still needed something. The only bad thing about using your own pattern is if you make a mistake you have no one to blame but yourself on all levels.

Posted by Ryan at 10:38 AM | Comments (21)