June 04, 2015

Turning 55: A Story, A Gift

Posted by Ryan at 04:14 PM | Comments (8)

My BFF Ken and I have February birthdays only two or three days apart so the weekend after I turned 55 and he 54, he, his wonderful wife and children, and I went to Snoqualmie Falls Lodge which puts on a grand brunch spread. As part of the celebration, and because they know I’m a self-styled princess, they gave me a twinkly tiara which I immediately slapped on my head.

After brunch, I went into the bathroom wearing the tiara and a perky, pretty young millennial joined me in line and, since perky young millennials are innately drawn to sparkly things, asked what the tiara was for. I told her it was my birthday and she immediately exclaimed, “Oh! I have to find you a gift!,” and proceeded to root frantically around in her purse to find something, anything, to give me, muttering to herself, “I have to find you something. I have to find you something.” My haul: A half-used pack of chewing gum, a can of Diet Coke, a bottle of half-used glittery silver nail polish, and a piece of gum wrapper ripped off and on which was scrawled, “Happy Birthday! See you on the red carpet!” (I have no idea what that means but I greatly appreciate the underlying enthusiastic sentiment.)

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. On a deeper level, I learned how little it can take to make someone’s day. As for the haul? Chewed the gum, drank the Coke, and with the nail polish, which you might logically assume to be the most useless of the gifts, given the chewed state of my nails... I've been marking cables so I stop trying to jam them in upside-down. (The biggest one with just the dab on it is the one I did first; the other two came after I discovered how much fun it was to paint cables with sparkly silver nail polish.)

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Good gifts, Ms. Millenial, good gifts.

May 30, 2015

Dragon Couture

Posted by Ryan at 05:48 PM | Comments (6)

We are now officially up to four dragons: Kit the First, Kit the Second, Ms. Drag On (“Draggie”) and the latest acquisition, Hilbert (“Bert”). And since they are all owned by knitters (or husbands of knitters—Bert), knitting has been happening.

First, something you never thought you’d see—a dragon enjoying a fine spring day in her handspun bikini top:

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Here, perhaps comparatively not as odd—you decide—Bert wearing a crocheted fez. Yes, those are earholes. Adorbs, no?

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So, anyone interested in owning your own dragon? Whoa, whoa; not so fast. It comes with three caveats: (1) You have to name it. (2) You have to knit or crochet something for it. (3) You have to tell me the name and send me a photo of it wearing the "something" so I can post it on the blog. If you're interested, leave a comment (or email me at ryanmorr at yahoo dot com or get ahold of me through Facebook if you're not the commenting type) and I'll do a random pick in a coupla weeks (to allow for stragglers). The dragon is already in hand. Photo with Joon in her boudoir as proof:

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May 27, 2015

Lo, The Mighty Hunter!

Posted by Ryan at 05:26 PM | Comments (3)

In this entry, I whinged on about the unpleasant Attack of the Moths. The problem is, see, as long-time readers know, I can’t kill them, can’t squash them, can’t bung infested yarn into the freezer, can’t do any of the recommended mothicidal things. The moths aren’t doing anything wrong; they’re just being moths, just following some internal Moth Law and trying to survive. And on some teeny-weeny, speck-of-a-brain, not-understandable-to-us, moth-y level, they are sentient. And while I’m not in any sense a follower of the Buddhist tradition, this “sentience” thing has been a part of my being since I was very young and understood what death meant. I knew even then in the deepest cell in the deepest part of my heart that I didn’t have the right to kill them, that no Supreme Being ever pointed a gigantic finger at me and said, “Hey, you! Because you’re bigger (definitely)/smarter (suspect)/more sentient (maybe), you have the right to decide whether this other living thing gets to live or die.” And once that concept wormed its way into my brain, I was done for.

All of this has just gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. And while it may sound like a deep moral/metaphysical/philosophical issue, what it really is is nothing more than a plebeian pain in the ass because…moths. And yarn. So last year, around the time of the first post, I just let the little bassers have the run of the house; I didn’t know what else to do. And the cats sucked—sucked, I tell you—at what they’re paid to do: catch and eat things when I’m not looking. (To quote from this earlier posting, “Apparently my personal Prime Directive is a little elastic. I can't do the dirty work myself but I can hire a contract killer.”) This year I planned on doing the same…until I went into my local Dollar Store and found this…

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…a $1 Moral-Dilemma Solver, disguised as a butterfly net. So now I sit on the couch, watching TV, with this close at hand and when one of those little interlopers comes winging through, whoosh! It doesn’t work terribly well because, although you whoosh and the moth gets gulped into the net, as soon as there's no more whooshing and no more air pressure, it blithely flies right out again, refusing to recognize the Law of Whoosh. So, between the flying in and the flying out, I try to gently but quickly, quickly gather the top of the net together without squashing the moth. So far, so good. Five moths have been ushered out of the house (although, granted, one was missing a leg when all was said and done). I don't really count them as "five;" I count them as "all the eggs they didn't lay." All I can say is God had damn well better be watching so I get credit for this after I die.

May 09, 2015

Chat Chateau (or just Chat-eau!)

Posted by Ryan at 08:58 PM | Comments (3)

Some Dear Readers may remember this entry in which I convinced myself I could make a working sun room for the cats out of a small greenhouse.

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Yeah, not so much. Despite my clamping everything heavy I could find—logs, rocks, bricks, planters full of dirt—around the loose base of the plastic cover, Joon managed to oil her way out and into the yard every time. So that idea got scrapped instanter, Joon and I had a discussion about how she’s an indoor cat, and the greenhouse went back to being a greenhouse.

Fast forward two years and I’m tooling around the store I call “The Place Where Goodwill Items Go To Die.” It’s near the office where my BFF Ken works so when we do lunch, I always make a point of dropping by this place. It is a Goodwill store but they make no pretense about cleanliness, about the quality of the goods they sell, or about it being a real store with, say, shelving, cabinets, racks, display cases, or signs. Everything, literally everything, is dumped into massive, gray, wheeled bins—approximately 12’ long by 4’ wide—all higgledy-piggledy. The bins are somewhat sorted by contents—the Massive Bin Of Clothes, the Massive Bin Of Books, the Massive Bin Of Baskets, the Massive Bin Of Toys—but that’s it*.

Despite this, unless you’re a germaphobe, this store has its place in the Universe. I’ve gone there when I’ve actually been in the market for something ratty like a laundry basket. It was going to live out in the garage so what did I care? I found one in the Massive Bin of Grody Plastic Containers, threw some Pine-Sol and water at it when I got home, and was good to go. And books. I can find the occasional book. The last time I went, however, which was about a couple of weeks ago, I scored. I came across a two-tiered, dusty, used cat cage, the real kind, not something cobbled together from a greenhouse. But…wait for it…it was $15, people. It was missing its original padded shelves but they can be procured. Needless to say, I heard heavenly music, saw golden light, and was sure I saw a cherubim or two flitting about the store. I immediately grabbed a measuring tape from a clerk to see if the cage would fit in Crazy Ivan and saw that with a little reconfiguring of his seats, it would. (While I was very obviously measuring the cage—which, to me, screams, “I strongly intend to buy this object! It has been symbolically peed on!”—another shopper came up and tried to muscle her way in. Hello, Post-Breast-Cancer-Assertiveness! I don’t know who this new personality is but I like her. A lot. I’d date her if she weren’t, you know, me. I very quickly sent the intruder on her way.)

I hauled my prize home, again, threw some Pine-Sol and water at it, cobbled together a bottom support out of some old linoleum and a piece of squooshy foam, cobbled together a shelf, threw in some blankets and shoved the cage against the kitchen door. Oddly, it’s taking a long time for the cats to adjust to it. They ask to be let out every morning but then they sneak cautiously into the cage as if it’s new. And they have yet to sleep in it although yesterday, for the first time, Benny finally put his head down. Some pictures:

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But, like everything else, and because I am a Princess, in the end this is All About Me. I can now leave the kitchen door open during the hotter days of the summer and let the cross-breeze in. It’s always, always All About Me.

*The last visit I was also treated to The Slow Parade of Massive Bins. To this day I don’t know why they did this but it seems to be a Thing. All the other customers seemed nonplussed by it but I was all, WTF?

At what must’ve been a known, pre-arranged time, a large number of workers came in through one set of large double doors and slowly and ponderously wheeled all the massive bins away. Simultaneously, through a second set of large double doors, more workers slowly and ponderously wheeled in new bins. I had trouble reconciling the stately solemnity of the procession with the fact that the workers were pushing bins full of crap. It was like a really, really bad Easter Parade with ugly floats.

What made it all the more bizarre was that there were white marks on the floor indicating where the bins were supposed to go and the customers who were accustomed to this weird changing of the guard stood around the marks waiting for the new bins to be wheeled in. So, between when one set of bins went out and the second set arrived, it looked very surreal. If you were an alien who was there between bins, as it were, you would’ve seen a couple of hundred silent, blank-faced Earthlings standing around large rectangles on a cement floor and nothing more. God only knows what you would have reported to your superiors on the home planet.

April 30, 2015

Knitting Subversion

Posted by Ryan at 04:55 PM | Comments (11)

I refer you to the posting of February 25 in which I admitted to having bought this sock yarn:

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This yarn has become one of my all-time favorites but not because of hand, sheen, drape, lack of splitting, yardage, durability, fiber blend, cost—none of these. It’s one of my all-time favorites because it’s magic! I know, right?! Its special magical power is that it makes all social niceties disappear—poof!—making usually sensitive and kind knitters say astonishingly detestable things. (In their defense, once they say whatever it is, they clap their hands over their mouths and look at me in horror but, two seconds later, we’re shrieking with laughter, tears pouring down our faces.)

Up until now, I’ve encountered two levels of yarn approbation:

1. Unequivocal, Drooling-Slightly-From-The-Corners-of-the-Mouth Approval

With Unequivocal Approval, knitters turn visibly pale, go weak at the knees, develop a slight tremor in their hands, grab, squeeze and caress the yarn, maybe bury their noses in it or rub it languidly on their cheeks. Frequently they giggle, bat their eyelashes and say cutely coy things like:

“Don’t turn your back on that yarn. It might just disappear!” [ha, ha, ha, bat, bat, bat].

Or “Guess who’s my new BFF?” [ha, ha, ha, bat, bat, bat]

Or “I could really use a pair of socks out of just that yarn.” [ha, ha, ha, bat, bat, bat]

Or they hide it in their bras*, armpits, purses, or knitting totes, knowing full well you’re watching. [ha, ha, ha, bat, bat, bat]

2. Guarded Approval

With Guarded Approval, knitters perhaps like the yarn but don’t like the color or vice versa, or find both slightly distasteful. Still, they try to behave themselves and say half-assedly nice things like:

“Didn’t they have that in another color?”

“Nice yarn but sorry. Can’t touch it; I’m allergic.”

“I can see how you would like that.”

“My grandmother used to have some of that. She loved it. We threw it out when she died.”

With the Fluormania, however, knitters lose all politesse. I’ve gotten tsks-tsks, raised eyebrows, snickers, disdainful laughter, gasps of disapproval, and the knitters have said, and I quote:

“Ew.”

“That’s the ugliest yarn I’ve ever seen.”

“What were you thinking when you bought that?”

“Seriously?!!”

“I…can’t…I…don’t…why?”

“Could you hide that?” (Said to me by a good knitting friend at a little knit-in at a local donut shop, when another knitter, unknown to us, came to the table).

The knit-in eventually disintegrated into a game I call “Let’s See How Much We Can Insult Ryan’s Yarn and Get Away With It.” Apparently they could get away with a lot because I was On The Floor. It just got better and better by the minute. And now I invite you to join the game of Insult Ryan’s Yarn. Have at in the comments!

(But, in the end, I win. How much will it lift my spirits the next gloomy Seattle winter to look down and see this peeking out from under my jeans?

neonsock.JPG)

* Any time a knitter tries to hide yarn in her bra, it’s a larf. Either she’s so well-endowed that the ball of yarn disappears (cough…me) or she’s so flat-chested that she ends up with a very obvious large pooch between her bazoombas.