February 23, 2016

15 Years and Counting...

On a lesbian social group on Meetup, I posted an invitation for a knitting get-together, making it clear that all levels of knitting skill were welcome. (I don’t know why I keep doing this. The women are always bordering on psychotic (not exaggerating here. One woman at the last meet-up I hosted…holy frickin’ moly), are boring, overly political, argumentative, or are baby-dyke snotty and self-absorbed, or the group disintegrates after, oh, two or three attempts at meeting. Sigh...this community can be lonely for someone who is essentially mainstream and comparatively conservative. (Huh. maybe my 'tude explains why I’m still single after eight years.) But I hold out hope that I can one day form a good and lasting group, ideally a group of men and women.)

Aaaaaanyway, after those few moments of woe-is-me navel-gazing, back to my story. A woman who is interested in attending asked if she could come even if she doesn’t know how to knit. I said, heck, yeah!, and that I would be happy to bring practice materials for her and get her started.

I was thinking about what I would say to her and thought, to encourage patience, I could say that knitting is like chess—the basic moves are straightforward and easy to learn but you can spend the rest of your life learning new things*. And today, as I was finishing this sock, I realized how true that analogy is, especially given my 15 years of knitting experience:


To underscore my experience with sock-knitting specifically and knitting in general, take a gander at this:


That large basket is entirely filled with socks I have knit. And I have given away as many more. And quite a few are in the laundry. And one pair is on my feet. So you do the math.

I knit socks without patterns; if I’m bored, I just throw in some stitch or pattern to liven things up a skosh. In the case of the blue sock, for the cuff I decided to use double-moss/double-seed/double-rice stitch—whatever you want to call it:



When I finished the cuff, I went to test it on my foot…and was thoroughly double-take confused by the amount of stretch. Wait…was that stitch behaving like ribbing? Ribbing doesn’t have to look like ribbing? It just has to be some form of regular, juxtaposed, columnar knits and pearls?! More importantly, why didn't I know this? Aaaaaand checkmate.

*I have found other similarities: They have both been around for a long time, involve (or can involve) two colors, are mathematically based, can be done by machines, require you to move things from one place to another, sometimes straight up and down, sometimes diagonally, sometimes by jumping over two things, they can both take a long time, and someone always wins, says neener-neener and does some kind of inna-you-face, fist-pump jig. Oh, wait; that’s not right.

Posted by Ryan at 05:23 PM | Comments (1)

February 19, 2016

The Birthday Fairy is Real

Last year I posted about a quirky birthday during which a young woman—a stranger to me— fêted me and my birthday in a restroom. I wrote, “I am passionate about moments when stories or adventures appear out of the blue and this was inarguably one of those. Not only did I love her youthful, spontaneous and generous spirit and the 'gifts' she managed to produce out of thin air, but I love most of all that she gave me a story to tell about the time I turned 55 and a complete stranger had an entire birthday party for me--complete with gifts, food and a card--in ten minutes in a line in a restroom.” Ironically, this year’s birthday wasn’t much different—a celebration with a stranger in an unexpected place.

As I mentioned in my last posting, my sister Cata and nephew Michael were up recently for a slightly belated birthday celebration. The day after they arrived, we went for a loop-de-loop on the Seattle waterfront Ferris wheel. As we were waiting to get into our gondola, Cata overheard the ticket-taker say to the person behind us, “One passenger?” and, ever gregarious, she immediately turned around and invited the person—who turned out to be an astoundingly beautiful young black woman (her ethnicity is somewhat germane to the story)—to join us in our gondola. She gladly accepted, and the birthday celebration was ON!

It turned out that the woman was Senegalese, was living in Dubai, and was a stewardess for Emirates airlines. We immediately bonded over the shared experience of lives spent living and growing up overseas, sometimes thousands of miles away from parents and siblings, and soon after—because my tiara was a dead giveaway—I found myself being sung "happy birthday" to in, of all languages, Wolof, the native language of Senegal. How does that happen, people? How do you start out having a perfectly ordinary day (bolstered, granted, by the presence of family) and end up sitting in a Ferris wheel, 175 feet above the ground, being sung to in Wolof by a Senegalese stewardess?! And then we all sang "happy birthday" in French and then Portuguese and then English, followed by lots more talking and laughing as the wheel went around three more times and then the ride was over and we each got a lovely cosmopolitan kiss-on-both-cheeks goodbye, and she disappeared down the wharf, as any good birthday fairy should. Afterwards we were all, like, “What the hell just happened there?” Followed by, “How cool was that?” Half a block later, however, we passed by a store that sold Bigfoot souvenirs, including Bigfoot “poop,” and some of the glamour and magic immediately wore off.

Our beautiful birthday fairy:


The view straight down from the top of the Ferris wheel:


This was about when we stopped moving, the gondola started rocking in the wind, and poor Cata got green around the gills. But she braved it out, and we made it safely back down to the ground*:


* For those of you who might be wondering, my t-shirt—a birthday gift from Cata—says, “Editor. Because Freakin’ Miracle Worker Isn’t a Job Title.” I'm wearing it again as I write this.

Posted by Ryan at 09:45 PM | Comments (3)

February 18, 2016


The last time my sister and nephew came to visit, he slept upstairs in the loft and she slept in the den on a deep, full-sized, blow-up mattress. We agreed that this was reasonable since my sister is a hardy outdoorswoman; she has hiked, camped and slept in severe heat as well as in snow. (For her approach to the outdoors, I refer you to this “little neighborhood walk.”) However, nothing prepared her for the February cold that seeped up from the cement slab my house is built on. The cold made its way through the first layer of plastic and fake suede, the more than one foot of insulating air, and the second layer of plastic and fake suede to her back. Brrrrrr. She solved the problem by cocooning herself in more blankets; however, I love giving my sister a relaxed, cozy and comfortable vacation escape from the stressors of San Diego and, in my mind, a freezing bed did not a good hostess make so Project Snug as a Bug kicked into high gear.

The project first involved cleaning out the den which is my “Monica’s Closet.” It’s where I throw boxes I’m too lazy to break down; things I run out of time to put away before guests come over; filing; the ribbon, plastic and yarn I rescue from Benny; and things I don’t want to think about. Then I got rid of a bookcase-ful of books to make more room. Lastly, I bought a twin-sized rollaway bed, flannel bed linens, a quilt, a comforter, a memory foam topper, and pillows, and set the whole shebang up a couple of weeks before she arrived this time. Five minutes later—in fact, as the picture shows, before I had even put away the bags the linens came in—it looked like this:


They tell me they just needed to make sure the bed was warm. I think it passed the test. Much more importantly—although the cats heartily disagree—my sister slept well last week.

Posted by Ryan at 04:48 PM | Comments (1)