November 16, 2016


Posted by Ryan at 11:04 PM | Comments (4)

My boss at Acorn Street encourages us to teach classes. Since teaching runs a close second to knitting as one of my all-time favorite things to do*, I cobbled together a class called “Demystifying Socks” and ran it up the flagpole. Somehow—perhaps because all the other classes are three or so hours in length—I decided I could teach my students how to knit socks in three hours. Starting from scratch. With time to look at sample socks and sock yarns. With time for demos. With time for questions. With time for a break. With time for actually knitting socks. What the what?!

Only AFTER the class was announced in the calendar did I ask my knitting peeps how long their sock classes had been and Diana, who had taken one just prior said, oh, we met a few hours every week for three weeks.


So there I was, committed to teaching people how to knit socks in a good, oh, nine hours fewer than required. But while prepping for the class, I took a long, analytical look at a sock and noticed…


Which, when translated into the requirements of the class, meant:


…and I started to think I just might get away with it. First, based on what I’d sussed out about socks, I knit a “Frankensock" which consisted almost entirely of the "important" bits:


Then I combined the Frankensock with specific class requirements (e.g., students had to already know how to use dpns); a step-by-step but bird’s-eye view of how to knit a sock, to keep us on track; and detailed post-class materials…and the class was a success! Granted, there were only two students and, also granted, it could’ve been half an hour longer (I gave the Kitchener stitch short shrift) but the Frankensock and I, we’ll take it!

*I've been weirdly blessed with no fear of snakes, insects, spiders, heights, or—more relevant to this posting—speaking in public. Try to get me on a plane, though, and I’ll leave claw marks all along the fuselage.

September 15, 2016


Posted by Ryan at 02:57 PM | Comments (12)

Partly because of the “Ack! I’m mortal! If I die, people will come into my house!” realization that comes with cancer, partly because I’m no longer the proverbial spring chicken, partly because—although I don’t subscribe to the Gratitude way of being—I want to better appreciate the unbroken, unchipped, and unstained things I do have rather than mindlessly buy more, I’ve entered a phase where I get more satisfaction out of deep-sixing crap than acquiring it. I’m not taking it to what I consider the emotionally frigid Marie Kondo/KonMari extreme; I’m more in the “Do you really need six colanders, a set of kitchen knives that bend when you use them, eight moth-eaten t-shirts, and an 80's dress with big shoulder pads?” camp. With the collateral result that lately I’ve been avoiding buying anything that smacks of “tchotchke.” However…

Many years ago, the ex- bought a new overstuffed armchair. I made the mistake of sitting in it the “wrong” way: sideways, my back against one armrest, my legs dangling over the other. There was much and immediate scolding, finger waving, clutching of pearls, and insistence that the chair was now going to crumble into dust at our feet. (It didn’t.) Fast forward a few years: I acquire a new overstuffed armchair. From that day forward, I make it a firm policy that any friend who comes to the house for the first time has to spend at least a little while sitting sideways in the armchair. (The armchair has acquired quite a bit of good juju that way, not to mention the great satisfaction I've acquired out of giving the ex- the virtual finger.)

Further, friends, family, and Dear Readers who know me to any extent know that I go a little mad around books, so much so that, a few years ago, I went to our local library sale—which is so vast it takes up an entire warehouse—and came home with 70 books. Seventy. Seven followed by a zero. (Also one of the reasons I’m simplifying. While most of my life I subscribed to my mother’s theory that books are somehow hallowed, over the years that feeling has greatly diminished. True, I have the one Bookshelf of Sacrosanct Books but the other mumblemumblehundred books started to feel simply burdensome and were trundled back to the library for another go-round.)

Lastly, there are these two goofballs, the loves of my life:


To put together all these fragmented pieces—tchotchkes, overstuffed chairs, a neurotic ex-, books, and cats—I present a recent acquisition which powered right through my new “no tchotchke” firewall:


I know, right?!

Plus, every time I look at it, another virtual finger goes wafting my ex-‘s way.

July 21, 2016

Black and White and Bed All Over

Posted by Ryan at 10:59 PM | Comments (2)

I know that some of you Dear Readers are friends with me on Facebook and have seen these photos but for those of you who aren’t and are also fans of that goofball, Benny—I present his latest.

You may recall that in February I cobbled together a more livable guest bedroom for Big Sister’s visit and that the cats did what the cats do.


Fast forward a few days. Big Sister was heading her way back to San Diego and I undid the guest room and folded up the rollaway bed. But, if you think Benny was done with the bed, you have another think coming. I present as evidence:





And my favorite—I had just given him a long skrootch on the chin and he was completely zonked.


June 28, 2016

The “Cap’n Crunch Dishcloth”

Posted by Ryan at 03:18 PM | Comments (1)

Even though she bore three children, our mother was not much of a one for offspring. Oil and water, really. So she was certainly not much of a one for childish arguments. Add to that the fact that she was not a proponent of sugar or desserts and the occasional box of Cap’n Crunch became A Big Deal. One particular box came with a prize—a Cap’n Crunch iron-on decal. One decal. Three kids. The fight was on. Rather than involve herself in our spat, while the argument raged and while no one was paying attention, Mom quietly took the decal and ironed it on her own shirt. Problem solved. (While Mom was quite proud of herself (she wore the shirt for many years), we children remained semi-comatose for days in the face of this unquestionably genius parental betrayal. Indeed, my sister and I, who are now both “women of a certain age,” still remember this as clearly as if it were yesterday.)

As we all adjust to my being out of the house more, Joon has developed a new game—taking small balls of leftover cotton yarn and unrolling them all over the house, specifically around and over and under chairs and chair rungs. And I kept picking them up, day after day, rerolling them and, admittedly, doing a not particularly good job of putting them away. Until the day I decided I was done, so done, with the new game, took all the balls—unrelated in weight or color—doubled them and knit them into a dishcloth. I have no need for a dishcloth—any more than Mom had a need for a decal on her shirt—but…child-rearing problem quickly and sneakily solved, in a way that cannot be undone*. I am my mother’s daughter.

Trigger warning: Picture of remarkably ugly dishcloth ahead (because it’s an arbitrary combination of mercerized and non-mercerized cottons, white Sugar 'n Cream, blue variegated Sugar 'n Cream, and something shiny and purple but still cotton… Plus, as I just realized, literally as I took the photograph, half-way through, I forgot I was doing seed stitch.*)


*At least, not in the absence of opposable thumbs.

*The doubling of the yarn was simply so that I could nyah-nyah-nyah in Joon's face as quickly as possible but I may also inadvertently have become a convert. Doubling the yarn increases its scrubby quotient considerably.

June 26, 2016

An Image

Posted by Ryan at 09:43 PM | Comments (3)

(To clarify, because a friend was concerned, I am fine. This was just some gentle musings on living with day-to-day depression that I wanted to write and express, in case there were other people who could relate, and the thoughts just sort of...ended up on the blog.)

Although I live with it every day, give or take an hour here or there—or a whole day, if the stars are aligned—this morning I had strong visual of what living with depression is like, what trying to do something, anything, is like when you feel this way. (I really struggle with this new Way of Being because I didn’t grow up depressed. Sure, I had a couple of episodes, but this fucker—I'm sorry, but there's just no other word for it—came on strong eight years ago and has never left.) So, the visual: It’s like being asked to make something without being given any of the necessary materials.

Life: Hey, I need you to make a dress.

Sure, no problem, Life! I’ll make a dress. That sounds like fun! Where’s the cloth?

Life: Oh, no, sorry, you can’t have any cloth.

You: Oh, okay. I’ll try to find another way to get some cloth. No problem. What about some thread?

Life: Nope, no thread. Fresh out.

You: Um, okay… I might have a few pieces of thread around here; I’ll look. A sewing machine?

Life: Nope. And the thread you thought you had? I found it and threw it away.

You: All righty-y, then. Scissors?

Life: Nope.



You: A needle?

Life: Nope.

You: Ooooookay. So now what?

Life: I dunno. But you still need to make a dress.

You: (silence)



Life: Hey, you need to get up and out and do something.

You: Sure, no problem, Life! I’ll do something. That sounds like fun. Where’s the energy?

Life: Oh, no, sorry, you can’t have any energy.

You: Oh, okay. I’ll try to find another way to get some energy. No problem. What about some motivation?

Life: Nope, no motivation. Fresh out.

You: Um, okay… I might have some motivation around here; I’ll look. Effective medication?

Life: Nope. And the motivation you thought you had? I found it and threw it away.

You: All right-y, then. How about a good hit of caffeine, then?

Life: Nope.

A good night’s sleep?

Life: Nope.

You: Just a general uplifting of spirits for no reason?

Life: Nope.

You: Ooooookay. So now what?

Life: I dunno. But you still need to get up and out and do something.

You: (silence)