July 23, 2009

The Semantics of Goal Setting

How could I have forgotten to mention this? A few weekends ago—me ‘n’ blogging, knitting, world-traveling, alpaca-owning veterinarian Mel, in the flesh, sittin’ across the table from each other, yakkin’ up a storm. I never tire of the magic of meeting people through the blog; however, it's undeniably bizarre how you can launch into in-depth, personal conversation as if you’ve known the person for a long time, and yet You’ve Never Met. Kewl but weird; weird but kewl. Sort of Pollyanna meets the Twilight Zone.

Smooches to ya’, Mel. I had a really nice time with you and your friends.


I’m all about Goals this year since otherwise getting out of bed isn’t particularly enticing so, as a neophyte gardener who didn't want to overwhelm herself, I limited my gardening goals to growing:

1. Lettuce
2. Cucumbers
3. Heirloom tomatoes

The lettuce—can’t eat it or give it away fast enough. You know what requires a lot of lettuce? A chef salad. Chef salads demand a big pillow of lettuce to get the right look. You know what requires even more lettuce? A chef salad made in an especially deep bowl. Made one of those the other night in the deepest bowl I could find, practically denuded the lettuce bed in the process…and this is how the bed looks today:


So, with confidence, I can say:

1. Lettuce
2. Cucumbers
3. Heirloom tomatoes

The cucumbers turned out to be a bit of a burr under my saddle. (Hah. Almost wrote, “burr under my salad,” which would've been pretty damn funny.). I did my bit: I bought a healthy, beefy cucumber start, planted it in the soil equivalent of Godiva chocolate, and watered it regularly, even grubbing deeply around in the dirt to make sure the water got to the roots.

The cucumber plant, it grew, oh, how it grew. For months. It earnestly became tall and viny, made lots of luscious leaves, and extruded adorable little tendrils that reached out and wrapped around things. And it produced flowers, volumes of petite, yellow promises of a profuse future harvest. I checked excitedly and expectantly for cucumbers every day, for anything long, green, and cylinder-shaped but, no, just more damn leaves, more damn yellow flowers, more damn adorable tendrils.

That was as of yesterday. Today…I triumphantly present The Completion of Goal #2:


How big is it, you ask? Um, yeah, well… (pardon the dirty fingers but they are come by honestly):


(If I thought for a minute they'd post a picture of a vegetable, I'd submit this to Cute Overload, it's that adorable.)

So the list stood at:

1. Lettuce
2. Cucumbers
3. Heirloom tomatoes

As for the heirloom-tomato goal, much like Clinton’s definition of “sex,” apparently the definitions of "grow," "heirloom tomatoes" and even of "goal" can be twisted to suit your needs.

Detailed goal the first:

Find a tomato start that has “heirloom” on the label and plant it. If it grows at all, even an inch, Bob’s your uncle.

Found three starts—Black Brandywine, English Yellow Perfection and the recently renamed Crows Stole the Label—and planted them, and in a few weeks Bob was very much my uncle (and was, in fact, getting weirdly handsy). Finding myself oddly unsatisfied, I continued the grand experiment to see what else there was to be had. All three plants not only grew but produced tomatoes, so I retroactively expanded the goal to:

Find a tomato start that has “heirloom” on the label, plant it, and get tomatoes to grow on it.

Emboldened by the apparent plasticity of goals, I then further expanded the goal to:

Find a tomato start that has “heirloom” on the label, plant it, get tomatoes to grow on it, and have them ripen.

Got one! Or am at least headed in that direction, as evidenced by this proof of an English Yellow Perfection on its way to becoming yeller:


This yellowness—did it satisfy me? Not in the least. What gives, I thought? The manager in me protested to the universe: I had a clear, well-defined, achievable goal; I met multiple objectives, milestones and timelines, and yet…?

The mystery was solved when today I stumbled across this on Crows Stole the Label:


This, now this tomato filled me with a met-my-goal joy so, apparently, I didn’t want to grow an heirloom tomato as much as I wanted to grow a tomato that was wrinkly and funny shaped, for me the essence of the heirloom look. So, the final goal:

Find a tomato start that has “heirloom” on the label (done), plant it (done), grow a wrinkly, funny-shaped tomato (done), which ripens (screech of brakes).

So, since I have a smooth, round tomato (boo!) that is ripening (yay!) and a wrinkly, funny-shaped tomato (yay!) that is not ripe (boo!), the goal list stands at:

1. Lettuce
2. Cucumbers
3. Heirloom tomatoes (so close I can, pardon the pun, almost taste it)

We have a month of summer (by Seattle standards) to go—and some insanely hot weather expected over the next few days—so stay tuned.

Posted by Ryan at 11:30 PM | Comments (14)

July 17, 2009

Of Prickly Heat and Alien Genitalia

There has been some definite horizontal growth in the Often Good Enough, Sometimes Merely Tolerable Gansey project. I present Sleeve #1, Iteration #5:


I’m actually quite pleased with this sleeve, considering that this is my first adult sweater, I'm designing the thing on the fly, and the truth is I haven't a ding-dang clue what I'm doing. On iteration #4, I decreased every 5 stitches and ended up with a cuff-end that would’ve choked a pygmy marmoset. So rip, rip, rip—you know the drill—and on the next version decreased every 8 and I think it fits perfectly...but I’m not sure. Since it’s a hellacious 90 degrees here, I slapped the sweater on, waved my arm around in front of a mirror, and yanked the sweater off, all in one nanosecond, and then frantically rubbed all the grody, prickly, sweaty itch away, panting like a pug with a bad head cold. There could indeed have been a pygmy marmoset hidden in the sleeve and I would never have noticed, I was so desperate to get that thing off.


I’m particularly pleased with how the pick-up around the armhole came out. I purled the first row which gave a tailored, invisible seam. In the picture below, the first vertical row on the right is where the pick-up is. I think any residual wonkiness will work itself out when I block. ("Residual wonkiness"--I think that's what I'll name my next blog.)


And now the challenge is how/when to finish the damn things since, lately, whenever I wake up in the morning I can’t feel either hand. That can’t be good. Anyone remember the Carol Burnett skit in which Tim Conway stabs himself in the thigh with the Novocain needle? My hands behave like his leg for the first five minutes of the day. My compromise—finish the sweater and then take a longish break from knitting, at least an hour.


The Alien Genitalia have ripened and one is well on its way to turning red, which I find odd for a Hungarian Yellow Wax pepper, but whatevuh. This is all so fascinating.


Posted by Ryan at 10:50 PM | Comments (19)

July 09, 2009


Yesterday—stepped on a rake and hit myself in the face with the handle. Seriously; who really does that?


Posted by Ryan at 12:10 PM | Comments (20)

July 07, 2009

Catching Up...

When Databases Go Bad...
A few months ago I joined “43 Things,” a fun and low-key online site for keeping track of personal goals. 43 Things is technically a social-networking site but only mildly so. It certainly doesn’t weave people together the way, say, Ravelry does. It does have a slight wiki bent to it as well in that, in an effort to better align people’s goals, users can point out goals that seem the same but are written differently, for example, they can suggest that “Learn how to ride a horse” is similar to “Go horseback riding.” I recently stumbled across this:


Seriously; on what planet is “join an intentional community” even infinitesimally similar to “teach chickens to hypnotize” (a phrase which has its own set of problems but never mind)?!

Der Knitting
The Good Enough Gansey, which then became the Merely Tolerable Gansey, has now become the Good-Enough Gansey with the Merely Tolerable Sleeves The First One of Which I Have Now Knit Four Times.

Follow-Ups to Earlier Posts
The carrot I harvested in this post is a type called a Half Danvers which, as the name suggests, is a half-length carrot, so it was only about 3.5 inches long, a coupla good-sized mouthfuls. To be honest, it was exciting to harvest, meh to eat. Had sort of a turpentine taste to it. As did the second carrot. And the third. Which is where I stopped since I only have 10 carrots total, now 7, and how much turpentine does a girl want to eat anyway? Oh, and while on the subject, who knew there was a World Carrot Museum?

I did some research on the spectacular yellow and orange rose in this entry and I believe it is a type called Oranges and Lemons. Or at least I certainly hope it is since I just ordered one from here. Come to find out I didn’t have to sell my soul, just give them some magic numbers from a little plastic card.

Not having learned his lesson, last night Benny jumped on the refrigerator again, only this time he hunkered down half on the freezer door and half on the top of the refrigerator. Unaware (cross my heart), I flung open the freezer door and...well, you know the footage on America's Funniest Home Videos where someone has one foot on land and one foot on a rowboat which is rapidly drifting away and they do a spectacular splitz? Yeah, like that, only somehow the four legs instead of two made it funnier. I larfed and larfed...and then immediately put my butter away somewhere safe just in case.

A Little Favor?
As some of you may know, now that he has left Mongolia, the Father of Dulaan, Cuzzin Tom, is saying “au revoir” to his blog, so I’d love it if you swung on by and gave him a big Mossy Cottage send off between now and 7/9 when he will shut down the comment function. Personally, I have always enjoyed his humor and his erudition and will miss his blog mucho.

Posted by Ryan at 09:55 AM | Comments (12)