Saturday, January 31, 2009

We Can't Believe Our Eyes.

I knew it was a red letter day when I accidentally slept until 1:30. That's P.M. ladies and gentlemen.

The excitement of finding out my brother had been brave enough to even talk to girls (increasing my chances of someday becoming Auntie Laura for real) coupled with the completion of my Firestarter socks had led to my staying up until three. That's plenty early, much more so than is normal for me. I like to be in bed by midnight at least, but on weeknights usually bedtime is eleven. I was mocked through my teenage years, called an "old lady" at 16. I never cared. Still, there are times when a bit of caffeine causes me to lose the chance to sleep at night, and that was last night.

The problem I have with "catching up" on sleep usually makes me feel sick all day long, as if I was walking around while still comatose. Today, though, I shook off the haze of over-sleep in an instant as I overheard my brother asking my mom on the phone if he should just take the car and go back to campus without me.

There are several problems with this. One of them is that it would leave me, alone, without food, and bored out of my mind with network television all day long while Paul sat at MC with the ability to drive around, get food, and have fun. That being said, Paul would have let the car sit in the student lot until he ended up with the fourth parking ticket of this academic year. He would staunchly refuse to come home to get me later in the day, citing "work" even though he's a full-time student whose classes haven't started for the Spring semester yet. The work would be, in fact, a raid in World of Warcraft, which I could care less about. It would, however, prevent me from having a life at all this Saturday, and I deserve a bit better.

So I threw myself together and drove Paul to campus, stopping for him to pick up his Coronary Pizza (the meat-lovers kind with more grease on it than a pig at a fair) and dropping him off at his dorm with its occasional windows (they get broken a lot).

It was on the way back to 114 from MC that I noticed it. Some strange, indefinable thing that nonetheless left me unsettled, convinced of the wrongness of it. However, I was driving the speed limit on 2nd street--slow, but not slow enough to make out fine detail. So I turned around.

I could not possibly have seen what I thought I had. This is North Manchester. I can count the number of murders within the city limits during my lifetime on one hand--and I'm sure the number of murders through all time wouldn't take up the second. The population is only a few thousand (if that) and it drops considerably when MC lets out for the summer. There are more churches than gas stations, and most of them are Anabaptist--that means pacifists. Lots of them.

Here it is.

I know what you're thinking. I was going by faster than you are though, you get to sit there and stare right at it. I was moving. And I have watched many, many hours of Criminal Minds, not to mention reading Helter Skelter and all those evenings when there were only reruns of CSI and Law and Order to knit by.

Needless to say, my overactive imagination led my to envision myself featured on America's Most Wanted, then I pictured signing the release form that would allow my story to be reproduced on the small screen at least. Within a few weeks, I would be consulting on the screenplay detailing my small life, because when you're a writer, you need a stroke of luck, family connections, or God on your side to get a job in your skill set. Since I have none of those things, my best chance is to find a corpse, headless, limbless, and propped up against a trash bin in a rural area.

This retelling is, naturally, overlooking the obvious side effect of my finding a corpse. If that had really been what happened to me, I would have to kiss my writing career goodbye on my way to the institution where I would live out the remainder of my life. I'd have my meltdown long before reporters could interview me, let alone get a picture of me that didn't make me look like I have an unnaturally long neck, deep rings under my eyes, and no color but the blue of my blood vessels shown through my skin.

I would look like the murderer, and that picture would end up on every Indiana television network by nightfall, then the national news because whenever something happens in Indiana, it automatically makes The Today Show just so it looks like all the states get the same air time.

So I made my turn, parked along the side of the street, and walked over to the mannequin torso that awaited me. It was headless, limbless, covered in dried red paint and bashed in on one side. Instantly the imagined future of me, cared for throughout my life and with a cushy room to boot dissolved into years of flipping hamburgers and self-published novels. I sighed and took some pictures. I knew my family would never believe me without them, and really, where does something like this belong if not immortalized on the Internet.

So I drove home, confident that others would at least be amused at my story, if not reduced to the same hysterical laughter I was.

I called Mom, Dad answered.

My parents were at Grandpa and Grandma's, that's Dad's side. That meant they were most likely sitting across from each other, staring at each other, wishing there was something to talk about, and slowly falling asleep.

I was right. The phone (that's me) was passed around to each of the four adults, and I was forced to retell the story again and again and again and again.

Mom was on the Internet, hoping to find some kind of entertainment in the form of a NOVA special she had seen featuring the topic of a horrible book Dad is using to inflict deep emotional wounds upon himself. She looked for video online, but found you had to order a DVD to see it again. I told her to go to YouTube and see if it had been posted.

She did.

I got a phone call moments later. Mom had gone to YouTube, she said. And it was porn. She was horrified, momentarily blinded, and in her shock had unplugged the computer from the wall in order to shut it down more quickly.

This is not the first time Mom has unwittingly discovered Internet porn. She's stumbled across spyware which infected our old computer, making random windows pop up at any given time with unspeakable content. Then there was the Christmas when she wanted to order snorkeling equipment for Paul, and thought she would check Dick's sporting goods. Naturally, she typed into the web browser, and you can guess what greeted her when the site loaded. Yep.

Mom had typed in YouTube this time, but she didn't know that YouTube was spelled YouTube, she thought it was UTube, and she found something horrid.

I informed her that only people who secretly wanted to see porn actually typed web addresses into the browser. Everybody else uses a search engine. That way, you know what you're getting.

Disgruntled, she opened Yahoo and gave it a try. This time, she made it to YouTube, only to find that Google Ads had a massive advertisement for some kind of sexy dating service overwhelming half the screen. She asked me repeatedly if this was really the place where Paul and I found all those funny videos we showed her.

I assured her that it was, then warned her to be wary of innuendo as she typed in her NOVA search, because I didn't want to get blamed for anything else. The last thing I needed was a mother struck blind by dirty videos involving Disney characters or clips of old television shows put together to make actors seem involved in something unsavory. Sorry, Mom, that's really out there.

Then I took my dog, Darcy, for a walk. We found something amazing. Two bald eagles, perched on a sycamore branch at the edge of our property. They took flight as we got closer, and we walked across the field behind my neighbor's house to get a closer look.

There was a male and a female, and if we're lucky, we'll have a nesting pair. This is amazing considering that through most of my life there have been no eagles in our state, let alone in our backyard.

My cat will have to be careful.

I leave you today with the first image of the day, something that I feel is pretty enough to wipe the porn from my mother's eyes.

For Jennifer, Yet Again.

Paul met me as I came home this evening with a smile, then turned to my mom and said, "Dating at Manchester is a lost cause. "

Okay, I paraphrased a bit for readability. All the memoir writers do it.

I had discovered this horrifying tidbit of information during my tenure at MC too. As, I must add, has my friend Jen (Hi, Jen!). We have talked at length about the subject, and since we each have now graduated, we talk a lot about how dating in about fifty miles in any direction from our homes is also a lost cause. This is because most of that is farmland. And cows.

Paul had, during his discussion, divided the girls at MC into "several separate but equally important groups." Thank you Law and Order (Yes I watch too much TV. I was just telling you why. The dating thing, remember?). The fact that Paul had taken the step to organize girls into groups amused me. Apparently, he had thought this through far more than I gave him credit for. I was impressed.

However, when I mentioned that boys had groups too, he seemed to think this was less important than his idea, the groups of girls. Sorry, Paul, you are so wrong. Just saying.

He seemed to think the fact that I am single was related more to my personality--which I acknowledge. I will be the first to tell you that I am single because I expect boys to disappoint me and feel vindicated when they do. But it is not my fault. The dating pool is a bit shallow around here, and there are all kind of farm chemicals in it that have given its inhabitants third eyes, not to mention mullets, ex-wives, and drinking problems.

Paul had grouped girls into these (although there are certainly more) categories, which he summarized for me and I reproduce here:

The "Girlfriends"

These girls spend every waking moment together. They braid each other's hair, chew bubble gum and have never left the seventh grade. When you manage to break one of these young women away from the herd of cud-chewing manicured perfume-ad models, you notice that you have not quite broken her away so much as you have joined the herd. Your "girlfriend" will convey messages through The Others, including what you have done wrong (so you can fix it).

Reportedly, they also use their friends as a tool during your inevitable break-up (you will never live up to the demands of the group). Apparently, Paul had a friend report to him that the friend's girlfriend, Ms. X, had asked her friends to make him break up with her, since it was too painful for her to engineer herself. Ms. X's girlfriend then found the boyfriend's car, his second love, and took out her vicarious rage on it in the form of a short keen-edged blade. Yes, she slashed all his tires, perhaps hoping that he would think his girlfriend had, instead of hers.

The Shy Ones

These will never approach you, and you will always assume their quiet demeanor and lack of eye contact to be a non-verbal request to get the hell away from them, right now. If you manage to break through to a Shy One, you had better not be shy yourself, or your dates will involve the two of you pretending not to pay attention to each other until the humiliation of each other's company drives you apart.


Some of these girls are merely unattainable. They met Mr. Right in the first grade, in the hand-washing line after Finger Painting 101. They smile, they talk, they exude the kind of confidence that only comes from knowing they already have someone they will share a burial plot with.

Others in this group are far more nefarious. They don't display the ring, no, they smile, chat, exude confidence, and flirt with every guy that comes their way. Then, when the poor, defenseless man attempts to schedule a date, they flash the before-unseen diamond, which they only take out on special occasions. They would be happy to keep up the flirtation, but inform you calmly that their fiance has begun to take umbrage at your close relationship. He has purchased a flight into town, the sole purpose of which is to liberate your teeth from your jaw. She then smiles, tosses her hair, and goes back to her chemistry equation

The "Oh, you're so funny!" Girls

These, my brother says, are the worst of the bunch.

They are the girls who laugh at your jokes, confide in you, seek out your company, and would date you in a heartbeat.

Except for that little problem. You aren't an Abercrombie & Fitch model. So, you see, they're going to hold out for the guy that's exactly like you in every way, but prettier, so that their children look like they fell from heaven and had to have their wings removed so they wouldn't get made fun of at recess.

Paul has a point about most of these things. He missed the Man-Haters, but you wouldn't really want to date them anyway, so they don't really fit on this list. I have seen them all, since I am a Shy One. I have the whole disappointment/vindication problem too, but I am at heart, a Shy One. Shy Ones have a gift, for, though we remain alone and, to some extent, unhappy, we get to see all the other groups move around us.

We also get to observe the guys, since we're too afraid to talk to them unless we consider them totally non-threatening. This is why all my guy friends were decidedly younger than me or interested in girls that were my polar opposite in appearance, if not personality. I hesitate to describe each group. There are so many, and I know that Jen would end up having so much to add to my list that I may as well wait to write it when I am with her. But since she is probably asleep by now (I had a little caffeine), I will try to do something a bit different. I will give the reasons given to me, usually months or years after the fact, why I have been overlooked in lieu of other, prettier girls.

Buddy Speak

This is not a quote, no, it goes unnoticed for too long to have any given catchphrase. Girls don't know it's happened until it is too late, until the time has passed, and the boy you've become such friends with no longer sees you as a girl at all.

You have become gender neutral.

He knows you aren't a guy. He (usually) refrains from emitting gastric noises in your presence; he doesn't scratch private areas or talk about the body parts of girls he likes or has liked (I repeat, usually). Naturally, his inhibitions erode more and more with each passing hour of being his--gasp--buddy.

You spend so much time together and know him so well that he has had to compartmentalize his brain in order to survive. If any girl ever had the cunning ploy of getting to know a man as a friend so she could date him later, know that this will backfire. These men are your genuine friends. Finding out you may as well be a cactus or favorite pet is only thrown in your face later, something to remind you of how utterly undesirable you are in general. Your relationship with him is fun until you have a bout of low self-esteem. Then you take your guy friend as proof that you always be alone. And you cry.

But in their defense, most of these men are kind and supportive at the right moments. But it would help if they would stop calling you "dude."

The Model Citizen

This guy is much like the "Oh, You're So Funny!" girl. They are counterparts. These are guys who want only women with perfect bodies, bleached-blond hair (no, I promise, it isn't natural), and large breasts. And I will state now and for the record to all men who are reading this: if a woman is a size zero; she can't be a DD at the same time unless her plastic surgeon is on speed dial right next to your number. Be warned.

These guys are nice; they like spending time with you.

This is because they consider you asexual. Yep, just like they were your buddy, except you don't have the friendship to fall back on. Just an overwhelming urge to stop eating, find some cream to clear up your skin that actually works, and buy a push-up bra. Only then, you think, will you be pretty.

What we as women must realize is--THESE GUYS AREN'T ACTUALLY NICE. No, though they may treat you kindly, smile at you, or share a snack with you, deep down they think women are slabs of meat they are born to haggle over like discriminating chefs at market. If they flirt with you (well, me) it is because they are practicing their lines on you to see if it will work on the real girls.

They are after your pretty friends. If you like your friends at all, ignore them. These men are too chauvinistic to deserve their company.

"I wanted to ask you out, but I thought you'd say no, so I asked her (him--ouch) instead."

These are the most infuriating of the bunch, because the guy usually waits until the week before you or he moves out of the state, country, or hemisphere. Or the month before his wedding, or, more rarely in the Bible Belt, after he discovers that his hesitancy to date is because he is, in fact, gay.

They are your friends, your co-stars in plays (you know who you are), your partners in group assignments, the person you tease, your first real crush. They are the person that would be perfect for you, only they don't know it, or you are too shy to give them the encouragement they need.

They tell you this as you sit at a picnic table, remembering the fun you used to have. You are rediscovering why you liked them in the first place, thinking about how good it is that they have returned to your life, how you could actually force yourself to make the first move this time. And then they drop the bombshell. As you reel in the aftermath, they inform you that they are totally over whatever once existed, then smile and walk away, leaving you with the knowledge that you were the reason it didn't happen in the first place. Because they just told you.

That's why I think they say it. They're feeling good about their lives, accomplished, self-actualized, and they want you to know that you missed out on it all. For whatever reason, your distance from them, your implied rejection, was the catalyst they needed to turn their lives around and make the changes they needed. And now, now that they are more desirable and know it, they want you know what you missed out on.

What else could it be? They couldn't want anything else, or they would be saying--"Hey, I wanted to ask you out, didn't have the guts, and left. But now I'm here, better than ever, and I want you in my life. Can we be more than friends?" Instead, they're breaking up with you, even though you were never together in the first place.

There are guys in the world that don't fit into these molds.

There are the Shy Ones, there are the guys that think they are the center of gravity in the universe and that all should orbit around them in reverence to their glory and wisdom. There are the guys that can't handle breaking away from their video games, sports, etc to fill time with other company. There are guys who wait for girls to ask them out. There are guys who feel the need to get girls drunk before they ask them out, which backfires because they are by that point, drunk as well. There are even guys who attempt to ask girls out, date them, and break up with them all by using Internet social sites like Facebook (I've known some of them too).

But, usually, these are the men who ignore me to the extent that I don't even notice their rejection or, sometimes, their existence. So, I will allow others to write blog posts about them. And if you're reading this and thinking, "Wow, she's given this a lot of thought," you're right. I've talked this through a hundred times with every woman I'm on good terms with. It's what we single girls do out here where there's no Barnes & Nobles, yarn stores, or Starbucks at which to drown our sorrows.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday night in the midwest...

The Firestarter socks are progressing rapidly, especially because I am so excited to see them finished. I spent the better part of the morning knitting up the gusset, then the afternoon and early evening getting rid of it again (I took a break to make the chili). Now I have finished the first cable repeat following the gusset and am about to switch to the instep ribbing.

This means two, I said two, socks knittied to the same place and there is still yarn left over (much to my joy as I will not be left with Firestarter anklets). I am thrilled with them.

Knitting the Firestarter has done something marvelous. It has allowed me to master all the skills I kept telling myself I didn't need to master (truly, I didn't as I had knitted La Digitessa and Spina Di Pesce without much trouble). Things like the short row toe and heel, that I had never tried before and was getting the hang of. The lovely Firestarter has a much neater toe and heel and I was able to tackle them confidently.

This means, folks, that I will be able to take on the complicated charts of La Digitessa (which aren't that bad, if you're thinking of giving it a go, they just look rough at first) without having to worry about learning the short row thing (how did I not know that?) and the magic loop method I had also never tried.

I will have pictures tomorrow when there is better light for it.

Also, and this is completely irrelevent to all of you but very important to me, I had discovered last weekend that I was missing the end of the Criminal Minds episode "Minimal Loss" on the wimpy little VHS tape I had made. Sadly, the end of "Minimal Loss" (the best episode this season) was also the best part of the story, a touching interchange between Agent Prentiss and Dr. Reid.

It was gone, eaten by the beginning of the next episode of the season. But, since Criminal Minds loves me as a unit, as a whole (I hope), the decision came down from on high to replay "Minimal Loss" today, right now, so I could get the end on tape while I wait for the DVD of season four to come out in the fall.

Thank you, Criminal Minds. Thank you CBS.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Guess what!

I figured out how to fix the Blogger Toolbar problem!

So here:

And go here to see the others!

Making Chili

I decided, since we had so much snow, we ought to have chili for dinner. I wrote out a list of ingredients, handed it off to my mother (who was on her way to the store) and went back to cleaning the house. On the list was a lovely jar of ground coriander seed.

Apparently, this was a problem.

Now, I had never considered coriander to be a rare spice, never thought that men with camels had to load each ounce into heavy sacks only to trek through the desert on there way to the nearest port. I thought, perhaps wrongly, that this was a common sort of thing, found in many dishes.

But I must be wrong. Because a grocery store, especially the only grocery store within thirty minutes from any other grocery store, would carry a common spice like cinnamon or salt (yeah, out here that's a "spice" not a heart attack; we're in denial). Mom could only find the seeds themselves.

An average family would have laughed and said, "Too bad, no chili tonight," but my family is different like that so Mom bought it.

We don't have a spice grinder or anything.

So we broke out the food processor, nothing. We added a little olive oil to make them stick together and not just bounce around. Then Mom read the bottle and mentioned that we needed to toast them. So we did.

We don't have a spice grinder or anything.

So Mom told me a story about almost buying me a mortar and pestle the last time she was down in southern Indiana, a story that gave us no assistance whatsoever since the spice grinder was never purchased and remained a three hour drive away from us. I took out the cutting board and the meat pounder thing and started trying to grind the seeds. Mom took a different route and put some in a little bowl and began using the handle of a fork to mash them. That failed too, because:

We don't have a spice grinder or anything.

The whole process took us about an hour. So I looked at Mom, looked at the seeds, grabbed the keys, and drove the half-hour to the next town, bought the last jar (how rare is this stuff) of *ground* coriander seed, stopped at Culvers for dinner, and then drove a second half-hour home.

We're having chili tomorrow night.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More Snow...

Fortunately, we have (I hope) been spared the horror of a second ice storm and the mess of power outages, fallen tree limbs, and no running water. We will have snow on the roads, but we can cope with that out here.

My hands remain constantly numb from the cold. We have had no temperatures above freezing in an age. It is a cold, cold place, and the bald eagle is searching for open water that we don't have outside anymore. Since there is nothing that could draw me outdoors, I have been knitting.

There would be a picture right there, if the picture thing was working today, but it isn't. So imagine a Firestarter sock worked to about an inch above the end of the gusset. The pattern is about to ask me to move up a needle size, but I am debating this. I have wimpy calves (not really) and the added space will make these socks (perhaps) fall down. The real reason I am on the fence is that the pattern calls for a size smaller needle than I am using--my yarn is thicker and I want it to look pretty. If I move up, I will do it a little later, where my calf actually begins.

So, I am considering the best path, and I have decided to break the yarn, knit the other foot, then split the remaining yarn to use every possible inch of it. I want these socks as tall as they will go without looking stupid. The stupid option doesn't really exist...I don't have that much yarn, which you know if you remember the cause of the Frogging of Spina Di Pesce.

I am, therefore, eating chocolate next to the gas fireplace and knitting until my hands cramp up.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Flickr Solved, Repetative Burns, and the Firestarter

I spent some time on Flickr's website, doing what I do, which is trying to solve problems. I tried the last possible option, the Flickr Uploader download thing. It actually works--very well. I managed to upload not one picture in thirty minutes but three--and not in thirty minutes but in twenty. That's pretty great. it might not always be awesome, but the fact that it has corrected the problem somewhat makes my life much better than it's been in ages.

However, since my life is what it is, something else had to go wrong, and that is this. I mean, this page, this one right here. See, usually there is a little Java thing that gives me a toolbar and automatically saves what I'm working on. However, today, there is an "Error on page" that makes there be no toolbar, no auto-save, no help for me at all. So the pictures I uploaded? I can't put them here, even with html, since I can't get to that either. So I sit here, watching 24 and hating every second of it (because that show is the same every season and that means bad since even the first season was horrid). I'm waiting for them to make me watch torture again. But it's this, 2.5 Men, or The Last Templar (Mom said that stunk too; since the lead girl grabbed this lance thing and jousted with some knight and won, even though she had spagetti arms).

So, instead of posting all these great pictures of my awesome socks, you'll have to go here to Ravelry and look up Darcybear and see, since I can't even link to that. Great.

My knitting was slowed today with the accumulation of many minor burns all over my fingers, caused by the grilling of Reuben sandwiches for my parents' dinners. However, since Mom's plans to tidy our kitchen so I could get out the electric griddle were laid waste as she pulled her back, effectively crippling herself, I was forced to use the stovetop and a tiny (crappy) skillet. Mom, meanwhile, has been sitting in the same chair ever since.

The little skillet got too hot for the sandwiches, and I burned four peices of bread before giving up and serving Dad the fifth and sixth with his sandwich. The seventh and eighth turned out perfectly, because I turned off the burner and let the residual heat toast the bread. However, by that point I had injured myself (there was nowhere to put the hot metal implements I used, nor was there anywhere to put the lid, nor was there enough room to lift out the sandwiches without hitting the sides of the pan with my bare flesh) so badly, I began to cry because I'm a girl and that's what I do when I hurt myself and get angry (even at the ripe age of 24). It was that or start swearing.

Dad said his sandwich tasted better because of the addition of my charred flesh. I said Mom's was better because it was seasoned with the salt of my tears.

This makes it highly difficult to knit the gusset of my new project, the Firestarter socks by Yarnissima. I began these socks when I found that they needed less yardage than the other two Yarnissima patterns I had begun and had to frog (I am including Digitessa even though it sits hibernating right now; I will have to frog it but am putting it off for the present). I am using the Monet colorway of my Christmas Jitterbug yarn.

Marjan Hammink is a wonder. I know I have never met her, but I love her. She is a creative genius and statues should be erected in her honor. I love Firestarter regardless of its simple design, simply because I know this is where the magic began. It seems fitting that my first pair of completed Yarnissima patterns would be the first she published.

Here is a peek at the Firestarter...

And here is the hibernating Cablenet...

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Brother's Mushroom...

Paul took Algae, Plants, and Fungi last semester, and he inspired me to knit him yet another useless novelty object. The last one was a knitted bacterium (after Microbiology). It was gram negative.

I used a modified version of this pattern which I found in a few minutes on Ravelry. It took an evening to knit up the cap and stem, though I had to do two caps because I forgot one skein of red worsted I had was superwash. Yeah.

I put them together to snap this picture right before I went to sleep:

And in the morning, I sewed them together (next time, I will be using the hot-glue gun; it won't make a difference).

Since I didn't have a felting needle (nor could I drive to any yarn store and buy one without devoting an entire day to the two hour drive there, the two hour drive back, and the questions: "Will Stitches and Scones be open when I get there?" and "Does Stitches and Scones even have a felting needle?"

So I went to the local Wal-mart and had another fragment of my soul sucked out as I purchased buttons that were tiny and white, the right color for this specific species of mushroom.

So there you are. Now it is sitting in my brother's filthy dorm room, amidst the dust, which is where other species of fungi are growing right now. This is more colorful, though.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In which there is a change of venue

After the tragic frogging of Spina Di Pesce, I was without a sock to knit (especially since I will have to frog Digitessa since it has the same problem with yarn scarcity. Digitessa would not work with stripes).

I spent the evening toying with a few different ideas, then settled down to knit this. It is Cablenet, designed by Ariel Barton for Knitty a few years ago. It is a lovely sock, I think.

However, since I cannot knit anything without changing it somehow, I am knitting the knit stitches through the back loop as an homage to the socks this yarn might have been. I find it makes cables pop nicely. I like it.

I am knitting the small size with size two needles (because my gauge is too tight for size one needles. Funny how me and my narrow feet have to knit like I have wide, wide feet).

I will have pictures when the pattern has developed far enough to be visible.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An open letter to my internet provider...

Dear internet provider (I don't want to get sued here),

I realize you are a small company, and I know I should be greatful you exist. Such a rural area as mine is fortunate to have any internet provider available at all. I thank you, then, for having been founded and managed in my locale.

However, I am chafing under the brutal hold of dial-up internet. Today I posted a blog that contained several pictures, posting it took four hours. Not only does that show my dedication to a bit, it also gives me an excuse for any future psychotic behavior.

I watch television from South Bend, IN. Every day, many, many internet providers spend millions of dollars to try to win my business. They offer to provide me with fast, fast internet for the same price my family pays every month and try to convince me to downgrade to dial up for half of the price we pay. I have called all these companies, e-mailed them, written them letters via the good old fashioned U.S. Postal Service begging them to take my money. Universally, I have been refused.

Here is the reason why.

Apparently, in order for City Folk to pay the low, low price they pay every month for internet that lets them click "buy now" on iTunes one second and listen to their music the next, others of us must wait four or more hours for the same peice of music only to discover flaws in the download because our connection was interrupted so many times.

So, I remain your customer. I appreciate the service you provide, really. I just wanted to take this opportunity, though, to ask you to widen your horizons a little. Instead of adding on to your network in towns like Kokomo, Fort Wayne, Warsaw, or Huntington, who already have access to internet at speeds that allow them to watch videos on You Tube and utilize social networking sites that imbed video and read the news which has to download the whole page all at once instead of one part at a time, so the whole page can't load at all instead of just the pictures like it used to be--Gasp--you could add on to your broadband network out here, in the middle of nowhere.

Out here, you would have a monopoly, which the government would say is a bad thing if they were paying any attention to us out here (which they aren't). You would make tons of money, because you would be able to charge anything you want, and I promise you, people would pay it. I know my brother would get a part time job solely to pay the bill your company would give us. Seriously.

I would sell blood plasma. Or eggs.

Come on, you can do it! You only have to expand your network a couple of miles. Really. Or if you don't feel like running wires, expand the wireless network. I will give you my first born child.

Thank you for your time,

A Frustrated Customer

Pulling Off Band-Aids

"If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well/It were done quickly." [Macbeth 1.7.1-2]

I did it last night. No, I didn't kill Dad; though if I had, I'm sure he would have deserved it.

It had become clear that there was no other option, no possible recourse.

At least the cat had fun.

(I did Spina Di Pesce; I didn't have the heart to frog Digitessa. One project is enough for one day. And, I will tell you, the wool is GREEN with flecks of red, for some reason, no matter what I do--and I am armed with Photoshop--I cannot get the color to show up correctly. I will keep working.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A good day.

Anyone who watches television today knows that this is an awesome day to be alive.

I am a West Wing fan, and from the moment I started voting, I wanted a president like Bartlett. In the fifth season, he walked down the street, meeting people as he walked to the Hill. And I thought, "Wow. Imagine having someone like that in the White House." I was able to vote in the 2004 election, and I wished I could have a candidate I was passionate about the way Bartlett's staff believed in him. I didn't get my wish for that election. I remember watching now-President Obama speak as a junior senator at my grandmother's house outside Chicago. We talked about his speech and agreed that one day he would be president.

When he decided to run, I knew who I would vote for. I volunteered on the campain, knocking on doors. I waged a sign war, replacing the yard signs stolen from our house faithfully until the election. This is a cool day for me, and I am thrilled to think that other people feel the same way. He is our Bartlett, the real-life Bartlett. And, even if he doesn't manage to fix all our country's problems, he can string two words together without sounding like a high-school dropout, and that means something. We can all work together to accomplish the rest.

Remember where you are today, what you do, how you feel. Your children and grandchildren will want to know all about it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

This is an attempt...

I thought you all should see what it took to upload a picture onto this blog. Let's give it a whirl, here. This is using the blog, not Flickr, because I was wondering if it would be any faster.

We are now up to ten minutes. The green bar is full, but nothing is happening.

Twenty minutes. Green bar full. Nothing happening.

Twenty-five minutes. I'm hungry. I want to go make a sandwich, but if I leave, it might fail and then I will have all the time I was assembling my BLT lost and the image will still be stuck on my computer.

It worked, at a painful, but not record breaking length of time: 45 minutes.

This is my dog, Darcy. She rescued the bone from the cat, who had walked too close to it for its safety. She started chewing her bone and then fell asleep. She's too cute.

Do I Have To?

There's a little problem happening with the socks.

I'm a pretty smart girl, but math is not my forte. Not at all. And the rapidly shrinking ball of yarn at my side caused me to, a few days ago, break my yarn, string sock one of Spina di Pesce onto waste yarn, and cast on for the second so that one sock would not end up significantly longer than the other.

Now, if I lived in a town, I would show you a picture of where we are right now. Instead, since it takes me a delicious three to four hours to upload one picture onto the internet (when it works at all), picture a sock knitted from the toe up, a neatly turned heel, gusset decrease, and about an inch or so of leg sitting to one side and on the other a toe and the start of one gussett.

The ball, though, is shrinking too quickly. Much too quickly. So quickly that I have been forced to do the math. I have 320 yards of my Digitessa yarn and 320 yards of my Spina di Pesce yarn. Two balls, two very different colors, two very different patterns. The original yarn specification, Wollmeise Sockenwolle, has 575 yards. I thought, originally, that my normal needs for a pair of socks would reflect the needs of the pattern and that I would (if I used the Sockenwolle) have a huge chunk left over. But now I don't think so. And when I did the math...that's...255 yards of difference.

255 yards. Wow. That is a lot of yarn. And that would be why I am rapidly approaching the situation of...two nice anklets. Two anklets instead of the glory of beautiful Yarnissima socks. I have been knitting almost all my life, Knitting for two years or so, and I should know better than to screw this up so royally.

I may, and I say may, because I am knitting until the yarn runs out just to see what it looks like, end up frogging both these delicious socks and use the yarn for a normal sock pattern. But I really don't want to.

These are beautiful socks, the kind that come across your needles once in a lifetime. I want to wear these socks, especially because I have already messed around with fixing the gauge problems and working out needles sizes, and all the horror of learning to circular magic loop the whole thing...I have invested a lot in these socks, a lot. I have been working on both of them throughout the Christmas holidays and say goodbye after all the work I put into them...I don't know if I can take it.

I may just have to let them sit in a basket half-finished until I cast on with enough yarn to make it happen right. But we aren't there yet. I may just have slightly shorter pairs of each of these socks, and that is okay. I just don't want to have them be ankle socks, not with all the strain that I have put into them.

I want to be able to pull up the leg of my jeans in order to show unsuspecting strangers what I do with all my spare time (simultaneously explaining why it is that I am still single) and show them the glory of these socks. I want to do this without having to remove shoes. I have noticed, if you do that, people tend to inch away from you, or walk away, or run, thinking something is wrong deep within your fractured psyche. And since I would then be without shoes or shoe, I can't really run after them without messing up the socks.

I have thought that out far, far too much.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cramping My Style, Part Two

Christmas money jingling in my pockets, I went to Walmart to rectify my situation.

I looked at all the bright, shiny DVD players, lined up in a row, and noticed there were far fewer than I had hoped for. Most, I saw, were DVRs and were more expensive that I had wanted to spend. But there were some super-cheap ones, the kind I was looking for.

But then, I had an Idea. It was a brilliant Idea, one that could solve all of my problems. Right next to the super cheap DVD players were the combined DVD/VCRs and I thought--hey, I could do away with half my wires and end up (potentially) letting me record the new digital television! That, I thought, would make life better than it would have been otherwise.

I bought the one that would allow my wildest dreams to come true, and the life I had once longed for was finally within my grasp.

My room, now cleansed and purged from all the disarray that had consumed it, was ready for the entry of the new DVD player, my savior from the druggery that was my horrible life, the life that was empty of all joy. Well, maybe not all joy. There was some. Just not as much.

I plugged in the DVD player with the Digital box, and found that without some kind of divine intervention (Geek Squad) I would never be able to use the two together.

This was a setback. But I thought, not a terrible one. I figured that I would be able to cross that bridge when I came to it, when the digital conversion ruins our lives out here and those of us with three stations end up with none.

You see, the nasty people who made the choice to switch us didn't realize that there are some of us out here that only get TV with a touch of snow. Static, haze, ghosting, and all that. I watched all of Star Trek: Voyager that way, and that was all PBS had to offer. When the transition comes to pass, these stations will either come in or not, there will be no middle ground. Therefore, I will lose Fox (Fringe, House, ect.) and I will have to travel to North Manchester and watch on the internet like freaks of nature do.

They want us to get cable, but basic cable doesn't have "local" channels at all, only the ones I don't want. It doesn't even have Sci-Fi, which would be fun too. And, where I live, you can't get fast internet with any kind of cable. So there's that too.

My goal, therefore, was simply to make life better in the short term in hope of forgetting how awful it will be in the long term. So I programmed the VCR for recording. I tested the DVD player. And it worked.

Then, I put a tape in to test the recording prowess of my VCR. And nothing happened. I tried to press play, nothing. I tried pressing stop, eject, fast-forward, rewind; I tried to switch over to the DVD again. Nothing.

I unplugged the unit. Then I plugged it in again, and I managed to get the tape out. Luckily, the tape was a bad one I didn't need for anything, so I thought I would see what was going to happen if I put a tape in again. Would it play?

It wouldn't even go inside. But it did go far enough in that I had to use my fingernails to pry it back out. Then I looked inside. The whole inside was a mess. The place that holds the tapes had collapsed and fallen to one side, and the little wheel that holds the tape had fallen off.

So, one tape was too much for it. It had broken. And it went right back to Walmart. And now, here I am, writing and watching Wuthering Heights, wishing all my effort had been for something greater than naught. And now, instead of going out and buying a new one, again, I will have to wait for it until I know that whatever I buy will work.

I just can't take another disappointment. And my style, is officially, cramped.

Cramping My Style, Part One

I like to watch television when I knit. I turn on the tube to one of my three stations (NBC, CBS, and Fox) and sit back, letting the television play on while I fix dropped stitches, twist cables, cast on, and bind off. I love to knit, and having something to listen to while I plug away at the new socks in progress or repeat a lace pattern for the zillionth time.

I know some people like audio books, but I think they get in the way of the imagination (face it, I'm a book type of girl--I like something I can hold in my hand and pages I can turn). So I channel surf and, usually, come up empty.

My friend Jennifer has things easy. She has cable. She can't tell me with any certainty how many channels she really has, and that's without the on demand movies and tv. To me, that's just cheating. The whole point of television is to wait all week for a new episode of something or other only to be disappointed when that show is cancelled for the Billy Graham special or interrupted for more sports or talking about sports or off season sports.

There has been only one recourse. I set up my happy little DVD player next to my VCR, using my sad little antenna cable and an RFU adapter and my at-home voodoo kit to get my little 19inch television to play.

The best part of living is the invention of the Complete Season on DVD. With one of those, I can actually watch Monk, or Lost, or the old episodes of shows that should never have been cancelled, like Keen Eddie, Serenity, or The Pretender. I can even watch shows from years gone by, like The X-Files and The West Wing. But what could easily be best is the joy of sitting down to re-runs of my current favorites. On demand.

Right now, I'm on a Criminal Minds kick. I have always been a psychology buff, and with a bit of deduction thrown in (along with Dr. Spencer Reid and the Dream Sweater I must knit at all costs)...I am a happy girl.

[In the interest of giving credit where credit is due, I will tell you how this picture came to be so I am not drug away to a dark, cold cell somewhere and pelted with things or alternately put on the naughty list by the network that makes the show I love. I did a print screen thing on my laptop to capture this picture from the DVD I have of Season Two of Criminal Minds. The episode this is taken from is Empty Planet, Criminal Minds is on CBS on Wednesdays...the actors are Mandy Patinkin and Matthew Gray Gubler (who is wearing the sweater). I hope that is all I needed to say in my image citation... Now, back to the blog.]

But they have started doing something they didn't do at first with DVD Seasons. They now wait until the week or two prior to the season premiere of a show, release the season, then give you one marathon week of TV watching to get caught up and one of actual pleasure before the new season starts, sucking the joy right out of my new season and into the newer one.

Couldn't they just give me a month? Or two? Enough to get tired of the old episodes and want new ones? I mean, it's not like they play reruns on television anymore or anything. No, we need a 30th season of Big Brother or to watch the extremely overweight be screamed at on The Biggest Loser. So I spend my weeks wishing for good television and having none, all summer long. But the seasons see me through the hardest times, like the misery of the mid-season break or football season.

But the going has gotten tougher lately. Not only have we lost PBS, the cursed Digital Transition has come to be, and I will never, not even on a good day, be able to get that box hooked in with my DVD or VCR. Nope, not going to happen.

Nor is my almost-unemployed self able to upgrade my television set to a digital one to save myself some misery. I'm going to have many, many sit-ins at the Geek Squad counter to figure out a solution. If I can. That's forgetting the fact that I may well never be able to record a TV show I'm going to miss. Since we only get dial-up torture where I live, I'll have to go to the library to watch something I've missed. And the horror of it all was brought to further fruition, when I discovered the most horrible possibility of all had come to pass.

My DVD player died. And I don't mean a little skipping, it died completely, totally, and left me helpless in the face of three channels of nothing.

That was a week before Thanksgiving. Since then, my laptop has played personal DVD player, and it isn't playing the role very well. Not only have I given up playing a show before I fall asleep at night, I have given up watching TV in my room altogether. My Christmas Wish of a new DVD player didn't come true, either. Probably because I didn't sit on the lap of a festively-dressed gin-soaked pediphile and pledge my desire to obtain one.

It's a sad, sad world for Laura.

Verily, I am in distress.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yarnissima, A New Obsession...

I confess, I had been getting tired of sock knitting.

It had nothing to do with the socks, or the knitting, or the yarn, or the act of knitting socks. It was all about the patterns.

I was used to finding patterns via the many great sock books out there, or even from issues of magazines. But lately, I'd noticed that many of them utilize similar lace or cable repeats--basically, I was discovering many new patterns resembled socks I'd already knit. Then, I tried looking online. Using a dial-up internet connection, which is all we can get out here in hell. Indiana. Well, you get the picture.

It didn't work too well. Then, to my joy, I discovered that I had been using the Ravelry search engine all wrong, and that I could search by the highest rated sock patterns.


This is La Digitessa and it is glorious. I'm also in the midst of knitting Spina di Pesce. Both designed by Yarnissima, and are awesome, totally different patterns.

They are knit from the toe up, which I had never attempted before, use a short row toe and heel, and are knit on a long circular needle using the magic loop method. All of those are new for me. That, added to the awesome cable designs, makes life awesome. I'm knitting them both out of Jitterbug sock yarn.

Jitterbug is my current favorite sock yarn. It doesn't have the same pooling issues many yarns have and is slightly heavier than many sock yarns. I love this, because it doesn't leave me with a super fine yarn as I knit with my horribly tight gauge.

At first I had a hard time getting gauge, simply because of the whole tight knitting issue, but I worked it out.