January 27, 2009

The Ultimate in Miscellanea

In comparison to the days of wackadoo trips to a sunny Caribbean and an icy San Diego, life has become so quiet that I have very little to blog about, hence the frequent radio silence. But I’ve discovered that, much like a human Katamari ball, just by rambling around, I eventually pick up enough small thoughts and small events to cobble together a posting. So here goes sumthin’ out of nuthin’ (except the first item which is definitely not nuthin’) for this week:

heartcropped.bmp• Please send healing thoughts out to Big Sister who had Big Surgery yesterday. And to Brother-In-Law and the Kiddos who have to make do—and will do a splendid job, I know—until very capable Wife-and-Mother is back on her feet in a few weeks. Love you, Big Sister!! Remember what I said about the Tired Beyond Tired.

• For those of you who were excited about Squirrel Appreciation Day, it should completely blow your everlovin’ mind that yesterday was Bubble-Wrap Appreciation Day. Will the excitement never end?! Oh, and for those of you who follow this sort of thing, this coming Sunday is Super International Pajama Day. If I didn’t have to go to my support group, I would so be The Pajama Kween! (Thank you to Erika for the heads up.)

• Hugs and smooches to the very mysterious “fan” who left one of the most flattering comments ever on the last posting. Thank you so much. After almost six years of blogging, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that people actually read this damn thing. Voluntarily! No gun to the head, no kidnapped family members, nothing!

• With the economy being in the crapper, and my decision despite this to stay in the market for the long haul, I try desperately hard not to listen to the Dow Jones reports during my commute. I switch off the radio the instant I hear, “The Dow Jones Industrial average…” Only I’ve become so anxious and twitchy, I’m turning it off faster and faster. I’ve gotten it down to “The Dow Jo…” and hope in the near future, with some carb-loading and Olympic-level intensive training, to turn the radio off at “The D…” Stay tuned (pun intended).

• Question to Erika any techie types out there: Can you IM between a Mac and PC? If so, what IM app do you need?

• While I enjoy being a very small-time knit designer, I never take any of my designs very seriously. I just crank ‘em out, post ‘em, and let the universe do what it may with them. But recently, thanks to reader Sally who directed me to Amanda France’s blog Joli House, I found this:

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I am so selfishly tickled by this lovely photo which makes my Dublin Bay sock pattern look almost…real! Almost grown up! (Notice the beautiful picots—not part of the pattern—added for extra oomph.) And the kicker? This was knit by Lily, Amanda’s 11-year-old daughter.

(If you are unmoved by socks in general and Dublin Bay in particular, I urge you to visit Joli House anyway; the photography is really lovely.)

• Shazay-um! I actually finished a knitting project his week before Benny could wolf it down! However, it was in the mail and winging its way across the continent and up to Canada before I remembered to snap a piccy. But I would like to give a promo for the apparently not-very-well-known yarn I used for the project: Cascade 109 Tweed. All wool, but soft and squishy, the kind of wool that makes muggles say, “Really? This is wool?! But I thought wool… Really? This is wool?” Lovely earthy, woodsy colors with just enough contrasting flecks. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed knitting with a yarn so much. 109 yards was enough to make a reasonable watch cap—maybe 1/2 an inch too short but that wasn’t worth breaking out another skein for.

• Lastly, due to very poor timing on Benny’s part, he spent part of this morning wandering around with toothpaste spit on his head.

Ta-dah! A blog entry fashioned out of bupkus. How does Norma post every day?

P.S. If you were able to follow this rambling entry without experiencing at least a small explosion in your brain, I bow down to you.

Posted by Ryan at 04:07 PM | Comments (19)

January 21, 2009

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day, Dear Readers! First, Inauguration Day and now this. The excitement is just too much.

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coffee3.gifFor those of you who know me well, this will come a shock: Ryan is now a regular coffee drinker. Yah, I know! Weird, huh? But it’s all thanks to these crappy meds. Coffee has become my morning dezombifier. And I've needed it so often I brought my dusty, heretofore-pretty-much-unused coffee maker* from home and set it up at work (for myself and for my work peeps because we have no coffee in our new digs on the second floor, not even the putrid, oily, bitter state coffee we have to pay for). This does not mean, however, that I’ve gotten any better at making coffee.

My coffee-making education started with my mewling pathetically at one of my employees, “Pleeeeeeze show me how to make coffee.” He obliged, only to have me show up at his office again the next morning for more mewling. Day Three, yet more mewling. Day Four, the big solo.

But it’s just not working for me (can you hear the whiiiiiiiiiine?). Normal people just swoop in and make coffee as if it’s something they do…well, every day. But me, I get overwhelmed by all those bits and bobs. There’s the actual coffee maker, the glass carafe, the lid for the carafe, the cone-shaped plastic thingie, the filter, the water, the grounds, the buttons...and apparently everything has to be done in a certain order. It’s just too much for this dyed-in-the-wool tea drinker. So far I’ve managed to forget to plug in the coffee maker; forget to turn on the power strip that the cord goes to; forget to turn on the coffee maker; forget to set up the filter; forget to put the coffee in; forget the water altogether; remember the water, only to have most of it pour out, hot and spitting all over the hot plate; make the coffee too weak; make the coffee too strong. And you wonder why I don’t cook.


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Easy come, easy go.

Monday morning: How much I saved at the grocery store by using my supermarket card and coupons: $35.

Monday night: How much money I spent on yarn: $35.

Sigh.

ssockcomp3.jpgOh, and the answer to the question about the sock yarn is: Red Heart Heart & Sole. High-five to Elizabeth D. for being right on the money!

When I was in San Diego, Big Sister and I went to Michael’s to take advantage of some spiffy 50% off coupons she had burning a hole in her car console. Perusing what they had at Michael’s—which is, as we know, no bastion of qiviut—I was startled to find (a) sock yarn, (b) nice sock yarn, (c) with aloe in it at (d) a good price. With the coupon, I scooped up two balls (what you need for a pair) for a total of $8. Score!

I have been surprisingly pleased with it, especially for so little coin. It’s a little stiff but the fiber content is right on, and the colors are good. I think my knitting peeps are getting a little tired of my playing the annoying game of “Guess What Yarn This Is? No, Go Ahead. Guess! Guess! Guess!,” while I flap the finished sock and the remaining ball inches from their faces.

*This coffee maker has beaucoup sentimental value since I inherited it when my brother died. He lived in San Francisco; I live in Seattle. As much as I love how the coffee maker makes me think of him (and it does, in a quiet, sentimental way), I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how it came about that we decided to ship a tiny four-cup coffee maker all the way from There to Here.

Posted by Ryan at 02:06 PM | Comments (20)

January 14, 2009

Tootsies

One of the Christmas gifts I was given by extended-extended-extended family was a nice electric candle warmer. The idea is that instead of burning the candle, you place it on the warmer and let the wafting commence (and I lerv me some wafting). The warmer consists of a round, flat heating surface, an on/off button, and an electrical cord. That’s it: Surface. Button. Cord. C’est tout. Which is what makes it all the more astonishing that it came with (1) a long set of instructions and (2) a 21-item warning list.

I suppose I should’ve stopped being surprised when my washing machine came with an instructional DVD. God help me getting my converter box in place.

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A knitting quiz:

See this sock? Nice yarn, no? Functional wool and nylon blend; sharp, clear colors; kicky striping.

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Now the quiz: Guess the manufacturer. (Locals and San Diegans who know the answer not allowed to participate on pain of...well, nothing.)

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Word of advice for the day: If you eat a lot at your desk, do not, I repeat, do not pick up your keyboard , turn it over and shake it. Many unidentifiable things will fall out. Many. I think I found Jimmy Hoffa.

Lastly, for no reason:

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Posted by Ryan at 10:06 AM | Comments (27)

January 09, 2009

As Usual, Longish and Pointless and Only Slightly About Knitting

Despite everyone’s urging, and despite the last vestiges of crud in my head, I’m still holding out on the Neti Pot. Actually, it’s more a squirty-bottle knockoff than a real Neti Pot but still…I just don’t think I could look at myself in the mirror again knowing I had poured water in one nostril and out the other. In fact, if I could travel in time, I would immediately go back to before I learned that there was hole in the middle of my head, and take a new and different space-time-continuum path that would prevent me from ever learning it. Shudder.

What really got me laughing, though, is that no one, not one person asked, “Why don’t you want to go to Las Vegas?” The Neti Pot everyone seems to have strong but differing opinions on but the Las Vegas thing they get. Too funny.

And then there’s this, Neti Pot jokes crafted by my BFF Ken…who really needs to get out more:

What do people who sell Neti Pots claim on their taxes?
Neti-income

Did you hear about the crime show the network executives didn't run last year?
Dragneti

Do you know what food service people use to contain nostril hair?
A hair-neti

Do you know that there is a world-wide computer system that allows people to find out any fact they need to know about sinuses?
It's called the Interneti

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As much as I love stumbling across real-life “O. Henry” dramas, the challenge always becomes doing the stories justice if/when you write them down so I’ll just give this one a stab and see how it goes.

The setting: The interior of a jet, busy with anxious, slightly territorial people (you know how we get) stowing their luggage and finding their seats.

The players: The man sitting next to me (Sitting Man), a man standing in the row ahead of us (Nasty Standing Man) and a man standing in the aisle, trying to find a place to put his suitcase (Suitcase Man).

How it played out:

Nasty Standing Man won’t sit down, has his elbows out, is standing half in and out of his row, and is tall enough to block the overhead bin. Suitcase Man wants to put his suitcase in the overhead bin but Nasty Standing Man is in his way.

Sitting Man, the only one who can observe the whole tableau, and sees other passengers starting to bunch up in the aisle, says politely to Nasty Standing Man, “Sir? Would you mind sitting down?”

Nasty Standing Man shoots back instantly, in a loud, sneering, aggressive, testosterone-riddled voice (because, you know, there’s no other way to speak to people), “Why the hell should I? I’m not in anyone’s way!”

Sitting Man, refusing to be cowed, “Actually, this man (pointing at Suitcase Man) wants to put his suitcase in the overhead bin.”

Nasty Standing Man says, thinking he's being too-too clever, “It’s none of your f***ing business! I’ll move when he learns to speak for himself.” With this, Nasty Standing Man, thinking he has cast a wide net of intimidation, watches with petty satisfaction as Suitcase Man says nothing and puts his suitcase elsewhere.

The rest of the story:

As his seat-mates, Standing Man and I soon learn that Suitcase man is deaf-mute, which means he didn't speak because he couldn't, not because Nasty Standing Man bullied him, and was unfazed by anything Nasty Standing Man said because he didn't hear him. In the end, Nasty Standing Man, for all of his posturing, is left looking clueless, insensitive, and unclever. And my oh-so-grown-up mind immediately thinks, on Suitcase Man's behalf, "I'm rubber and you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you." With a little "Neener-neener" thrown in, of course.

(I also loved this: Being an innate fixer and calmer-of-waters, and assuming the exchange had caused as much anxiety in him as it had in me, I say to Sitting Man, “You get all kinds of brownie points for your efforts. What a jerk.” Sitting Man waves a dismissive hand at Standing Nasty Man, and says, “Oh, him? An amateur.” That has become my new catchphrase for any and all things that cow me.)

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Despite my best efforts, which have been considerably ramped up, my knitting got Bennified again today. Sigh.

When I sleep curled up on my side, one cat curls up against my stomach and the other behind my knees, effectively turning me into the filling in a kitty sandwich and making me sweat like a pig, so I throw them out of the room for the last couple of hours of the night. Which compels Benny to get revenge, despite my attempts to keep my yarn away from him and him away from my yarn. So this morning I woke up to my current Plastic Bag O’ Miscellaneous Projects now sporting a big ragged hole, and the ball of Jamieson Spindrift that was in it now twenty feet away, thoroughly knotted and mangled. But then I stared at the bag, gasped, and exclaimed in horror, as the world spun around me, “There was Koigu in that bag!”

Let’s see if I can translate this for the non-knitters, with a few substitutions: "There was a Fabergé egg in that bag!" Or "There was a bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild in that bag!” Or “There was a tin of beluga caviar in that bag!” Or “There was a diamond-encrusted Rolex in that bag!” Or, “There was a Lamborghini in that bag!” Not that Koigu is that expensive or rare but it is beautiful enough to make make most knitters I know go, “Ooooooo,” and feel slightly faint and slightly covetous, and I was damned if I was going to lose a skein to a no-good guttersnipe of a loser cat (who promptly got served a large helping of nummy breakfast, so he paid no price for his ill manners, for those who might be worried).

I did find the beautiful saffron-yellow Koigu, only slightly the worse for the wear (untwisted and slightly chewed on) in another room. Tonight I shall remember not only to put the bag back in my knapsack but to zip up the knapsack as well. That seems to be the key. Who knew?

To you, Benny, I say, “Amateur!

Posted by Ryan at 03:09 PM | Comments (20)

January 05, 2009

Kwikkie Wrap-Up of the Year

Having lived quite successfully, if a little lethargically, the last eight weeks without it, I’ve decided that oxygen is highly over-rated. I don't know what you humans whinge on about; we don’t need no stinkin’ oxygen! But after three naso-bronchial events piled pell-mell one on top of the other, with nary a chance to, as it were, catch my breath betwixt, I finally gave up getting better on my own and now have a large pile of horse pills to take, and instructions to do obscenely gross things to my nose. Over the years, I’ve made two strict Life Vows: (1) Never go to Las Vegas. (2) Never use a Neti Pot or any nasal lavage system. Ever. Well, I’ve still never been to Las Vegas. (Teeeeechnically, I’m still holding steady on Vow #2. My doctor-mandated and newly acquired Neti Pot and I held a staring contest for a while last night and I then opted instead for breathing in the steam from a bowl of hot water. The fact that I covered my head with a blanket during the process concerned the cats greatly. Meeeeeep? Meeeeeep? Meeeeeep? Brrrow? Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Swat. Brrrow?)

I spent Christmas with Sistah and Fambly and Extended Fambly in San Diego. (And I mean e-x-t-e-n-d-e-d. One of the children was related to me thusly: Sister’s husband’s (late) sister’s daughter’s daughter.) Lest you Seattle-ites who struggled in the nightmarish weather we had up here feel envious, the morning that I left SD, it wa 35 degrees. San Frickin’ Diego, 35 frickin’ degrees. Brother-in-law had frost on his windshield, I kid you not.

Christmas was mostly quiet because see “oxygen” above, and there was primarily holiday shoppin’ and preppin’ to do. The highlights were, though, a plateful of nummy scrambled eggs made for me spontaneously one morning by 10-year-old Nephew; a sparkly stocking made for me by Niece; a shopping trip to my newly discovered BFF store, HomeGoods, where my sister and I indulged in a little bit of girlish, “I’ll buy that for you if you buy that for me.;” and being covered with a fleecy blanket by brother-in-law when I was feeling particularly kuh-rappy. Those are the things that make Christmas Christmas.

New Year's Eve was seriously pathetic. I forgot what night it was, and completely forgot to keep track of the time, which meant that from 11:59 p.m. to 12:01 a.m., I was crouched down in the bathroom cleaning kitty litter. Because, you know, it needed to be done. God only knows what that portends for 2009.

In the meantime, despite the bedevilment of the carpal tunnel, knitting has been happening: one sock in Noro Silk Garden (yes, one), one sock in a really-not-too-bad-all-things-considered Red Heart sock yarn (yes, one, again), and a short scarf that I challenged myself to churn out overnight for a friend I was seeing the next day--which I completed successfully, only to not have her show up where she was supposed to be. Heck, I had oodles of time to churn that baby out.

Posted by Ryan at 04:30 PM | Comments (24)