January 12, 2017
I'm One of the Pod People
The ultimate in first-world problems: I didn’t get Benny or Joon any Christmas gifts this year. (This may ease your mind about my mental state—I didn’t get them gifts because I was too preoccupied with getting gifts for humans.) However, my sister came through with plastic ornaments full of toys that caused the cats to pronk around the house plus—the ultimate combination of my two loves, cats and knittinga felted cat bed, what I’ve been referring to as a “pod.” It’s quite beautiful—a bright aqua around the entrance and darker shade of sea blue for the rest:
Joon has taken to the pod quite well. To protect her from Benny’s occasional violent ambushes, she sleeps in the bedroom with me and, whereas she normally curls up between my legs, forcing me to lie with legs splayed like a frog pinned on a dissection tray, she now quite happily sleeps in the pod. She understands the pod; she gets how it works.
Benny, not so much. His handiwork:
Occasionally he leads Joon down the primrose path:
As for me, while I'm tickled by this gift, I am also tempted to buy some white felt and red markers and make it look like this:
December 28, 2016
A Christmas Gift 50 Years in the Making, AKA I Win
As some of you may have read in this blog entry, my mother had no patience for childish spats, or for children, for that matter. Yonks ago, when we kids started bickering over the single Cap’n Crunch iron-on decal in a box of cereal, she promptly ironed the decal onto her own shirt. I’m pretty sure this is why both Big Sister and I have had to go into therapy as adults.
Fast forward, oh, approximately 50+ years. As I have for the last few years, I spent a warm and joyful Christmas with my BFF Ken, his wife Beth, children Stephanie and Robert, and mother-in-law Kay. My last gift was a rectangular box that had a tag on it that said, “To: Ryan, From: A Blog Reader” and that alone made me tilt my head. Add to that the fact that the box made the oddest noise—dry, crunchy, rattly—and I was completely baffled. Even opening the box didn't solve the mystery because it was a box of Cap'n Crunch. (???) But attached to the box was a small envelope and inside was…this, courtesy of Beth:
I practically fell off my chair I laughed so hard. A big, loooooong belly laugh with tears pouring down my cheeks--the best laugh I've had in years. There was so much wrapped up in this gift: Great humor, certainly, but creativity, cleverness, thoughtfulness, warmth, and a moment where everything—childhood, adulthood, life, love, loss, family, friendship—came full circle. And the second part of the gift was being able to call Big Sister in California—with everyone listening—and give her the biggest neener-neener-neener-neener-neener ever (brother is long gone but I floated a neener-neener out to him, too; you know I did). I don’t know if anyone is ever supposed to actually win the war called Sibling Rivalry but, thanks to Beth’s help, I did. Technically, I’m supposed to send Cata one of the decals but the jury’s still out on that.
December 21, 2016
A Meditation on Control
Proof that control is an illusion...
Project: Wrap the Christmas gifts in time to send them to Sissy and family in San Diego.
Plan: Put the gifts on the dining-room table, get out the wrapping paper, tape, scissors, ribbon, labels, markers, have a little true-crime TV droning on in the background, be done in an hour or two.
What really happened:
And finally this:
Project: Make a nice home-made Christmas gift for BFF Ken's mother-in-law.
Plan: Knit one dishcloth and wrap it up with a pleasantly scented, boutique dish-washing liquid.
What really happened:
At this point, I started blaming the uncontrollable, Tribble-like proliferation of dishcloths on how much I was enjoying the brightly colored Ty-Dy Cotton yarn I was using, but then this happened…in a completely different yarn:
Tomorrow The Plan is to make dessert sauces as another gift for Ken and family. I predict I will end up with a spinach quiche instead. Pray for me?
November 16, 2016
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
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.