March 22, 2016

Wait...Whut?

Posted by Ryan at 08:50 PM | Comments (10)

Here is something I don’t understand: People who can actually answer the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” For me, the last five years—couldn’t have planned for them worth a damn. And things just took yet another unexpected—but this time more positive—turn. I now work here:

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This place has always held a special place in my heart because it is was my first LYS*. I distinctly remember stepping through its doors 15 years ago and suddenly feeling calm, content, at home. Granted, over the years I’ve learned that I feel that way in all yarn shops but, still, this was my first. I also distinctly remember picking up a ball of yarn that was so soft and light that I literally checked my hand again to confirm that I was holding something. (And so began the slippery slope into yarn snobbery. However, it was also during the eyelash-yarn craze so I could just as easily have gone screaming from the store, never to return.)

A couple of years ago, the shop was sold and underwent a top-to-bottom renovation. Gone was the looming, dark shelving; gone were the cramped aisles; gone were the chairs placed awkwardly and inconveniently in front of the books; gone were the stained, tattered binders of patterns; gone was the dusty, musty feeling (none of which I noticed. Heck, it was my LYS!). However, the new store is markedly lighter, brighter, cleaner, more welcoming, and has a large table where you can sit and knit:

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About a month ago, I was in the store and met the new owner, Fenella Raymond. And all of a sudden I heard a voice—it couldn’t have been mine. I’m extroverted, yes; forward, no—asking her, “Are you hiring?” Surprisingly, her answer was “yes” so I sent her some information about my work history, we had a lovely, informal interview that was more like girl-chat over tea and cookies, and the next Monday, there I was, working part-time in a yarn shop! What the…? My head is still spinning. (“Spinning”—see what I did there?)

Fenella has been extremely patient with me because on Day One, a truly over-the-top episode of anxiety kicked in—the medicine-induced insomnia is wreaking havoc with my endurance; I haven’t worked in a couple of years; I’ve never worked in retail; and I practically faint at the thought of making newbie mistakes—but things have improved over the couple of days I’ve worked there and I’m determined to do well.

My hat is newly off to cashiers. Who knew it could be so complicated? Cash transactions; regular credit-card transactions; microchipped credit-card transactions; debit cards versus credit cards; returns; discounts; processing gift cards; tracking rewards points; applying rewards points; sometimes many events in one transaction. And the other employees make it look so easy! That being said, a picture I never imagined I would post, the view from behind the cashier counter:

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But the most important thing I’ve learned? Don’t stand too close to the cash drawer because when it flies open, it squashes the hell out of the “girls” and sends both me and the drawer staggering back a fair bit. The laughter the first time that happened!! My nemesis:

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Locals, ex-Dulaaners, come on by the store and see its new incarnation and fresh, new yarns! (I promise the eyelash yarn has been banished to the basement. I poked it myself with a stick the other day and it didn’t respond. Good sign.) I currently work Monday mornings and Fridays and would love to see you!

* Local Yarn Store

February 23, 2016

15 Years and Counting...

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

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:

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

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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:

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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.

February 19, 2016

The Birthday Fairy is Real

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

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:

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

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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*:

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* 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.

February 18, 2016

Fur-rozen!

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

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:

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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.

January 25, 2016

Peek-a-boo!

Posted by Ryan at 01:18 PM | Comments (9)

Hello, everyone! Miss you, miss the blog. So much. But life has been indescribably uneventful (read, unblogworthy) for the last however long, mostly because I and my cancer medication—which is designed to stave off a cancer that is known to be an aggressive and opportunistic little sucker—do not get along. It causes so much exhaustion and confusion and dizziness and depression and topsy-turvy sleep that I do…nothing. I sleep not at all…or I sleep for a solid 48 hours. To kill time, I play the online game World of Warcraft. Lots of World of Warcraft. Hours every day because it’s entertaining and distracting and mildly challenging and I don’t have the energy to do anything else. (Side note: I am working on all these problems, believe you me.)

Speaking of aggressive and opportunistic little suckers, World of Warcraft players are primarily teenage boys and young men (although many girls and women play as well) and, over time, I discovered that, with very few exceptions, the male players are astoundingly abusive little bastards, so much so that recently I walked away from the game cold turkey…and quickly found myself pacing restlessly around the house thinking, what to do, what to do? How to fill the hours? Finally, I flopped in front of the TV to watch true crime of some sort. Then I espied some size 10.5 circular needles an arm’s length away in one direction and a skein of (not particularly pretty but whatevs) pink Plymouth Encore an arm’s length away in the other. I grabbed both, frantically cast on literally “a bunch of” stitches—whatever would fit on the circular needles—joined, lost myself in the familiar rhythm…and this happened.

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I didn’t believe for a minute that I would be able to stay away from World of Warcraft but it’s been two weeks and, in the meantime, this has also happened:

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These welted, knit-long, easy-peasy, any yarn, any needle scarves are the potato chip of knitting. I see many more of these in my future.