Friday, February 27, 2009

Dreaming

Two nights ago, I woke myself up singing in my sleep. In case you were wondering, it was the David Cook single, whatever it is called, which I hate. I was singing a song I hate as I slept. How I knew the words, I don't know. I think it speaks for the amount of bad radio in my area.

I sing often in my dreams. Usually I am cast in a musical of some time, told at the last minute, and thrown out on stage to perform songs I don't know. If not that, I go out on stage and decide to ad lib, only to discover that everyone loves what I do onstage, no matter what it is. That kind of dream ends with me breaking out in spontaneous ballet or flight.

But last night I had the kind of dream I get that haunts me throughout the next day (today). In this dream all of the horrible things I think about myself or think that other people think about me come true and are acknowledged by those I love and trust. In this kind of dream, Dad tries to kill me, or Mom decides I am a horrible daughter and says mean things about me to other people. Everyone decides they don't want me in their lives anymore, and I have no where else to go because everybody in the dream that I know hates me and wouldn't take me in.

These types of dreams end with someone killing me, or with me crying in the dream, unable to stop and wondering where the people are that usually come and soothe me in real life when I am upset about something.

But last night, things took a different spin.

I was at home, but we had to move for some reason. So I was packing, and I was pretty happy, the dream's way of tricking me into security. Okay, my subconscious' way of tricking me. Whatever.

The problem was Myst, my cat.

We rescued Myst from a pretty horrible situation when she was a kitten. We didn't even know if she was a boy or a girl when we got her, because she was half wild and wouldn't let us get anywhere near her. Maybe not the best pet choice, but we fall in love first and reap the consequences later in my family.

The first day she was home with us, she fled from our care into the brush. I knew we would never find her if she ran too far and she was just a kitten, so I tried to catch her, running through poison ivy and catching her as she ran up a tree and paused at my eye level. She then clawed the heck out of my arms as I carried her back toward my family. And we figured out she was a girl.

Myst and I now have a special bond. From the time I accidentally slashed my own wrist opening a can of her cat food to the time that the screen door slammed as I was holding her in one arm and coffee in a Styrofoam cup in the other (causing the cat to leap out of my arms in fear and me to, resulting from Myst's springing from my arm, throw the cup of scalding coffee into my face and open eyes, we have been special buddies. Myst never left me all through the time I was recovering from both surgeries. She comes only when I call her. She presents me with her prey, usually still alive and eager to run around the house as I try to catch it, including a baby wood duck, chipmunk(s), squirrels, mice, and a toad.

But in my dream, my special little kitty friend hated me. She didn't just avoid me the way my animals do in my dreams when they hate me. She pursued me with the intent of causing me bodily harm. She slashed my hands and arms, bit my legs, yowled at me with rage. I finally caught her and tried to calm her down. She bit me repeatedly and tried to get to my face so she could do more damage.

When I put her in the only place I could restrain her, a purse of my mom's from ages past, I discovered the zipper was broken. I still held it shut though, and my hands were slashed and bitten as I did so.

What a horrible dream. Where did this come from? Before I went to sleep, she was following me around purring and rubbing against me, trying to get me to carry her around with her. I found her a nice place to sleep (she likes soft blankets in little corners where she can be hidden and still see everything around her), then petted her while she got settled. When I woke up, she was right back on my lap. And I picked her up and hugged her, hoping to get rid of the nastiness my dream had left behind.

It didn't work.

I am still down. My cat loves me, right? This wasn't some kind of way for my subconscious to tell me she doesn't? No. It couldn't be that. But if it wasn't, where did it come from? Anyone know anything about dream analysis?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thanks, Morris, whoever you are.

Yeah, I stole some wireless today. But since I really don't like to take without asking, I thought I would at least say thank you.

There is this service that I use when I need TV that the networks decided I shouldn't have anymore, and that service needs green smiley faces. I don't really know why, or how it works in general, but everywhere I go I can only get yellow smiley faces, which are okay but not good. that means I need to reset something complicated that I wouldn't understand if the program creator himself stopped by, knocked on my car window, and explained it to me in the municipal parking lot in downtown Wabash, which is where I have been all afternoon.

You see, although the wireless in Roann is awesome, the thing I was trying to do would still have taken me three or more hours to accomplish if I had done it there, due to the yellow smileys. This cramps my style, because I don't usually sit in one place for that long, at least not without eating something.

So I went back to the car, and drove out to Wabash, back to the Parking Lot of Green Smileys. This is a happy place where, though I have less wireless bars than I do in an abundance of places, I get green smileys. I have never seen them anywhere else.

This meant that I accomplished one task, then I started work on another. This "work" is me watching a number ticker while I knit in a parking lot, by myself, wearing a coat so I don't have to keep the car running that whole time. Then my battery died.

Now, to understand what this means, you have to know that my computer is possessed, like on The Exorcist, only with a computer as the victim and not a person (unless you count my strife). With a cross (from Italy, blessed by priests, that I picked up at St. Francis' old house) and some water I figured would do for holy water since I am an Anabaptist and we don't have holy water at all, just the stuff from the faucet, I approached my computer in its first week home from Best Buy and managed to cordon the demon off inside the battery. I could just replace the battery now, but those things cost money, and I don't have it. Just the Yarn Budget--and I don't tap into that unless I'm getting wool.

Battery death plagues me, it is a pox on my otherwise flawless computer's life. The battery likes to hate me, my pain is its true fuel. As I cry out, alone in a coffee shop without the power cord, it laughs and stores that strength for later, to accomplish its own dark deeds like bringing up the Freaky Blue Screen or the Scary Window Seizure. Then it, alone in the heart of my laptop, laughs at me with a dark, cruel laugh like that monster made of black oil on Star Trek TNG, in the episode where Tasha dies. That's how evil the battery in my laptop is. So evil, not even the crew of the Enterprise can take it down without casualties.

I then went to the Wabash Library, where my computer refused to load any web page, anywhere, despite the fact that I was connected, well, to the internet. I had many, many bars. Battery. I mean, what else would cause that kind of cruelty?

I ran crazy diagnostics, more than I did last night at the coffee shop when I was pretty sure my computer wasn't to blame for the horror of not getting online, at all, even though I had brought my computer from home for that purpose alone.

For no reason whatsoever, the problem solved itself and I was able to look on Ravelry while the battery charged, or fueled its rage, whatever you believe. So I wrote a bit, looked at the new posts on some of the blogs I read (James, get with the program, man. We miss you out here). And, when I had reached a battery level that was acceptable, I unplugged and packed up.

So I went back to my parking lot.

Where I sit at this moment, thanking Mr. Morris and his green smileys and wondering what people would think if they saw me out here, knitting alone with a computer sitting in the passenger seat.

The only thing that could make this better would be some lunch.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Number One Reason My Life is Better Today Than It Was Yesterday

I don't own a printer. Okay, that isn't the reason, but it is true, and it often takes me out of the house to various libraries in order to print knitting patterns, writing, and so forth.

Today, I had to drive over to the Roann Public Library, which is a tiny little library with very few resources. They do have computers, high speed internet, a printer, and a fax machine (helpful) though at times some of these things don't work with each other or at all.

I printed off my $3.80 worth of documents, and then I walked out. Something caught my eye as I grabbed the door. A little green square, that said "Wi-Fi Hot Spot."

Free. Wireless. Five. Minute. Drive.

I think that says it all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What Is That.--Smell?!

At first I thought I was hallucinating the smell. I was sitting on Jennifer's couch, downloading something from the internet, and I noticed a whiff of something unpleasant.

It would come and go. Jen and I were talking about Slutty Coffee Shop Girl, whose life is at least a hundred times worse than either of ours put together, and all by her own doing. Then I would knit some more and smell it again, lift my knitting and smell it--nothing--and go back to talking.

This went on for over two hours.

Looking back, I now know where the smell was coming from. Here it is: my laptop.

Yes, my laptop somehow, though it was across the house from my dog and all sources of odor, has picked up the eau de skunk. Isn't that just fantastic?

It has been well over a week since the tragedy struck our home, Darcy rubbing her eyes against the snow, late night vet emergency calls. But there it is, like a green cloud in an old cartoon, following all of us, everywhere we go.

The house smells great now, it never held on to the odor, but random objects absorb the scent. Here are a few of mine: my laptop, the inside of my purse (though no object in the purse has the scent of skunk, just the purse's inside), and the thumb of one of my mittens.

Explain that to me. How can skunk odor leap from one part of the house, one source, to another that the dog had no tactile contact with whatsoever, in her lifetime. My dog has never touched my laptop. Ever.

So today I dedicated myself to attacking what was once the source. I de-skunked Darcy's face and neck four times throughout the day and will follow it up with a few more de-skunkings when I get back from where I am now, Paul's dorm. The smell will go away. The smell must go away.

Until it does, I will wipe down the keys of the laptop with a cleaner thing. I will wash my gloves, do what I can with my purse, and chant voodoo blessings each time I open my purse, driving out the evil spirit that has taken up residence there. Soon, if all is well, I will not have to stop in my tracks, or lift my leg up to my face to smell the cuff of my jeans in a yoga-type move that surprised and impressed Jennifer.

Soon I will be free.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Friday Night is Family Night

This Friday was unusual for my family, because everyone was home at the same time. We decided to make it a little special, and since nothing was playing at the movies (the only special thing within fifty miles) we thought of movie night at home.

Paul, Mom, and I went to get provisions to see us through this venture at the local Super-Walmart, in Wabash. Since we were cooking dinner, we had a little discussion. Mom decided she wanted fish and chips, English style. Paul was all for it. Dad, we all knew, would eat anything that stayed still long enough for him to fork, because he "kills his food before he eats it," a process involving a fork and the prayer that family members are far enough away to retain all necessary limbs.

I wanted soup, like the Soup Lady makes at KenapocoMocha. I thought I would make cream of potato, and I would make it special by using the ricotta cheese she uses to thicken her soup and make it creamy and nice.

For movie options, we headed over to electronics and ended up with the hilarious snapshot of the eighties: Romancing the Stone as a bonus, we bought the sequel too (Jewel of the Nile).

But no one was hungry when we got home, so we all sat on the couch and were bored until we decided to start cooking. Mom made her fish and chips, a quick process, and I began the long and involved task of making potato soup from scratch. Well, almost. I used stock in a box.

I cooked my garnish, bacon, first. This involved several burns. Then I set it aside, forcing my father to take only one piece. The man has a heart condition, and he eats bacon like some people eat chocolate. It is his candy.

Then I proceeded to peel and boil potatoes, cook onions and garlic, make a roux, thicken milk and chicken stock, all while my mother cooked the fish in the fryer, and dispersed it to the guys.

Within minutes, they began to come back into the kitchen with plates of uneaten fish. It was soggy, they said, it tasted wrong, and they wondered how long it had sat on the pier before being packaged, frozen, and shipped to landlocked Walmarts throughout the world. I condoled with them. Mom trashed the fish.

Meanwhile, my potatoes were finished cooking. I drained them and almost poured them straight into my soup-to-be, when I noticed there was something wrong with them.

My perfect potatoes had brown spots. Not all of them, but some of them. I was then forced to sort through and toss half of them, because there was something not quite right with at least two of the spuds I had peeled and diced. Something wrong that was not visible to the naked eye. You needed special equipment for this problem.

I added in the good potatoes, and stirred in the ricotta, slowly so that it dissolved. I had turned off the heat just in case, but now (apparently) I turned the burner back on so that the ricotta could melt. Of course, I had it on low.

At this point, Mom walked into the kitchen and commented that my soup looked mighty good. That was because my soup was mighty good, worthy of the KenapocoMocha. I had minced herbs for this soup, people. Fresh herbs. Really.

We both got bowls of it, garnished with cheddar cheese (freshly shredded, again my doing) and with bacon pieces. I drove my father away from the bacon and told him if he ate it, there wouldn't be enough for everyone to have some with their soup in the future.

Then we watched the movie. I ate my yummy soup. Ladies and gentlemen, that soup was very, very tasty. The potatoes were tender but not mushy, the creamy broth was thick but light enough not to make you feel like you were drinking straight heavy cream. This was fancy, yummy soup. My best, perhaps, for a long time. The soup was blessed, sent from above in the guise of soup to bring joy to humanity.

But its perfection could not remain unmarred, in this the least-perfect of worlds.

Dad had walked into the kitchen, presumably to steal bacon from me, when he mentioned that the soup was still on, and did I know? Shocked, I lept up, heading to rescue my lovely. Dad then said, "Wow, Laura, I don't think you can use this, there's a lot of stuff stuck to the bottom."

I strode into the kitchen and proclaimed confidently: "Everything can be saved! ...Except this."

Crushed, I looked down at my once-beautiful creation. The cheese, of course, had separated when the soup go too hot, leaving a clumpy, oily mixture behind. This was, of course, in addition to the numerable potatoes and onions (and other) adhered to the bottom of the pan.

I was miserable; I wanted to cry. All that work, for nothing. All I wanted, the only thing, was a good cookie to make me feel better. The good cookies are the pepperidge farms sausalito ones, the milk chocolate macadamia nut ones. I had eaten the last of them the night before and had refused Mom's offer to buy me more in Walmart earlier that day.

My father and brother proceeded to mock me mercilessly throughout the night, coming up behind me to say, "Everything can be saved! Except this!" and "Laura, you may not have soup, but you do have a quote we will remember forever."

This only made me more depressed and more in need of the nonexistent cookies. Oh, how I needed those cookies! I tried to give myself solace by feeding the bacon to my Darcy girl, something that made her, at least, a bit happier.

Before the movie had ended, I had thrown out my former masterpiece, Dad was in bed, and I was depressed with nothing to knit and no cookies. How's that for family night?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

How To Make Lasagna

Recently, I decided it would be more cost-effective for me to make my own lasagna instead of driving to Kokomo's Olive Garden every time I wanted some. Here are the steps you should take if you wish to duplicate my results.

1. Go to the grocery store on behalf of your mother, purchase the items she desires, then field calls from other family members who want other things. Circle the Super Walmart multiple times.

2. Buy flat-leafed Italian parsley, ricotta cheese (the large tub), Parmesan cheese (a piece you have to shred yourself--it melts), a ball of fresh mozzarella, crushed tomatoes (again, a large can), mild Italian sausage, garlic, and the kind of lasagna noodles you don't need to pre-cook.

3. Answer your phone, and meet your father, who has decided to visit you during your grocery shopping. As you are using a basket and not a cart, you are now straining under the weight of many groceries. Hand the basket to your father, because he is a guy and because he owes you for all the things you do for him (like taking his apple cores off the bookshelves and throwing them away instead of attracting household vermin with them, as he would do otherwise). Wander around the store until your frozen foods become soggy, then force him to carry the bags out to the car and load them into the trunk.

4. Drive your father to his car (he has been fasting for a blood test). Then drop him off and drive yourself home.

5. Cook the sausage in a skillet. Drain it, set aside.

6. Shred the mozzarella. Place a dampened coffee filter into a small strainer over a bowl. Then place the cheese in the filter and cover it with a piece of plastic wrap. Then, weight the cheese by placing a bowl on top of the cheese. Fill the bowl with coins. Leave the assembly for about an hour, until you have liquid accumulation in the bowl. This helps the cheese melt nicely without pooling liquid.

7. Thank God you did not need olive oil, as you forgot to buy it. Use about 2T of EVOO in a skillet to coat the pan as it heats. Then, add in about 3 cloves of garlic. When the garlic has cooked a little and is no longer raw-looking, pour in the can of crushed tomatoes.

8. Thank God again that you have oregano around; add this to the tomato mixture, then put in some pepper too. If the mixture is too tart, add in some sugar a little at a time until it is less violent. Allow the sauce to cook for a few minutes, maybe ten, but not thicken. You will need the extra moisture to let the noodles cook later.

9. Mince the parsley.

10. Shred tons of Parmesan.

11. Empty the tub of ricotta into a large bowl. Put in a cup or so of Parmesan and mix it together. Then add in some parsley, enough that it looks like there is parsley in there, but not too much. You will know when you have added too much. But then it will be too late.

12. Thank God you still have one egg. Try to crack the egg, fail, try again, and thank God you catch the yolk as it falls. Hold the inside of the egg in one hand as you drop the shell into the sink. Realize you have no exit strategy, attempt to separate the white from the yolk by moving the egg from hand to hand. Then, when you have dropped the white into the sink and broken the yolk in your hand, drop the yolk into a bowl and whisk it together. Add it to the cheese and mix it well.

13. Realize you don't have a pan to cook your lasagna in. Find a large, roundish pottery pan that will potentially work.

14. Place some sauce in the bottom of your pan.

15. Layer some noodles, two side by side, then notice you have no way to keep the noodles and sauce together as you add them in. Hope this will not end up a tragedy.

16. Layer cheese, noodles, sauce and meat, noodles and so forth until you have run out of vertical space, then top with mozzarella. Use remaining noodles to wedge the stacked lasagna in place.

17. Put your oven on 350 degrees F, then pop the lasagna in, since you cannot preheat the oven. Put the timer on for forty minutes instead of thirty to make up for this. Because you don't have any foil, grab your purse and keys.

18. Buy foil, and the requested candy bars your family wants.

19. Arrive at home, find that there is a peculiar smell coming from your oven.

20. Discover you have accidentally placed the lasagna in the oven and turned on the broiler. Now your wedge-noodles and cheese have been...browned. Remove the lasagna and place on top of oven. Then rub some olive oil on foil to cover the lasagna since it no longer needs to brown. At the last minute add in some extra liquid out of fear that you have dehydrated the lasagna beyond repair.

21. Let the lasagna cook until the timer runs out. Notice it is too soupy. Allow it to cook longer. Then notice it is still too soupy. Then let it cook longer. After an additional half hour, remove it from oven.

22. Place it on top of the stove, allow it to rest for an additional half hour. Now you are very hungry and also concerned you have destroyed hours of work. Decide you turned on the broiler because it gets turned on by cranking the dial in the same direction you do if you are setting the temperature. Thank God again that you are only somewhat, not completely, stupid.

23. Systematically consume your entire pan of lasagna yourself, over several days.

Friday, February 20, 2009

So What If It Doesn't Match?

Now is the time to show you what became of the glorious Malabrigo Worsted skein (Pollen colorway) I bought from The Shuttle Shop.



Here is my favorite pretty thing, which goes with me everywhere though nothing I have matches it.



It is lovely, and I miss it though it is only a few feet away.



It is the Meret (mystery beret) pattern from Ravelry's Wormhead Hats group. It's a free pattern, and is so lovely! Here is a close-up of the decrease...



So don't be shocked if you see me walking around with a beret that doesn't match my clothing. I don't buy yellow, usually. It mostly makes me look like Emily Dickinson right before the end (in the pictures her sister didn't have touched up), after years of hiding in my house. At least, that's what my school pictures always made me think. I don't know if it has anything to do with the yellow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mom and the Frisbee

It occurred to me last night that, while I mock Dad both on the blog and to his face (we have an interesting and jovial relationship too complicated for your average psychologist to explain without charging us extra); I rarely subject Mom to the public humiliation of writing about her here. This is something I should fix; Mom is hilarious in more ways than I can name.

My family often calls her "Snow White" because animals and small children flock to her, like in Enchanted when Amy Adams throws open the window of a New York apartment, singing and attracting all the local wildlife. But she also has a hilarious evil streak no one can see from the outside, resulting in her letting me, as a small child, lick the cake batter off her finger and ending the experience by thrusting her batter covered finger up my nose. I smelled vanilla for days.

Here is a note to illustrate Mom's style, which she sent me on Ravelry:

hi luv, i’m writting with one hand holding the key board up to the monitor light because i can’t find any light bulbs. i may be in the dark now but you sure light up my life. love you mom

It is unchanged from the original note, I copied and pasted. My mom really does send me sweet little notes. And she holds the keyboard up to the monitor for light to type by, resulting in hilarious misspellings (like what I do for a "living"). She used to slip little things like that into my backpack on the way to school, especially when she knew I'd had a rough week.

Allow me to illustrate what Mom does to make me laugh.

We went to Warsaw today. Mom needed to go to the knit shop and before that we had to eat lunch, at Steak and Shake. Captain Awesome was there again, this is a young man who asks us questions. When we answer in a positive way, he responds with "Awesome." I really like that guy. So, I nicknamed him, using the hilarious name of the sister's boyfriend in Chuck.

Together, we tried to figure out the tip. At first, I just did the math as I do, taking 10% of the bill and doubling it for a 20% tip, which is the easiest for me. it came out to $2.60. The bill was just over $13, and Mom kept saying she could give the full tip if she just rounded up to $15. I kept saying that she was wrong, that would be much less than $2. I ended up being right. I discovered something new on my cell that would have aided me much over the past two years, a calculator, and began to work out the math. Mom read numbers too fast for me, we got confused, and she just insisted that she would figure it out on her own up at the register. I exclaimed, "No! Then you'll have to do math, with numbers!" attracting the attention of many patrons who wondered why the special needs girl with the funny hat had been given leave from the hospital to eat dinner out.

Okay, so that was kind of a me story, but it is somewhat funny to think of two adult women sitting in a booth for ten minutes arguing about basic addition.

Then we went to the grocery store, Marsh. Randomly, some farm dudes were giving out free bread and pencils. So we both got some, since the guy said he had to give out all the bread and pencils before he could go home. Since they were in the grocery store rather than going door to door or just standing on a street corner (and we are in central Indiana, where there is hardly any crime except making meth, taking meth, giving meth to children, living in the church where you work and making meth in its attic while the congregation sings downstairs and lights lots of candles, or getting violent because you've taken too much meth) we took some and went home.

Hours later as she headed to bed, Mom walked into the kitchen holding her new pencil and commented to me that it had a good eraser. This is important due to the amount of use the eraser gets during the solving of sudoku puzzles.

I was taking my sudafed so I could sleep while still breathing at the same time (it's not so good when you do the first thing without the second, sometimes you die). I noticed Mom walking over to our Junk Drawer, where spare screws and exhausted batteries and flashlights and garbage bag ties go to die. As I watched, Mom took a box cutter, a new shiny and presumably sharp one, over to the trash can.

She then proceeded to use this box cutter to sharpen her pencil, despite the many sharpeners we have scattered throughout the house. This is a woman who once nearly severed a finger, wrapped it in a towel, and waited for me to come home from college so that I would look at it for her. This is a woman who has sustained three second degree burns in the last two months alone, a woman who once threw a stick for my dog and had it stick to her glove and come around to knock her unconscious in the driveway. She has fallen into the river reaching for my dog's frisbee many times, and has damaged herself in other ways while playing with Darcy's all-time favorite toy as well. Not to mention the whole passing out on a walk in an empty field thing that happened a couple weeks ago. All the horrific and amusing injuries I have had in my life are nothing when held up to my mother's track record, which has spanned decades.

I stood, looking on in shock and awe, as my mother used this box cutter to sharpen her pencil, then took her sudoku book and went to bed.

Mom was still working on her sudoku puzzle as I came in to say goodnight. We oohed and ahhed over the dog and discussed plans to combat her skunk-related stink issues and then Mom said, "Look at this!" She showed me her puzzle in frustration. "Eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine," she proclaimed. We have previously discussed this issue in sudoku puzzles, because we spend so much time together and when two people do that, these kind of things come up. I informed her that she could just put either number in the boxes when something like that comes up, and she responded by dropping the book onto the ground, shortly followed by the pencil.

I had walked to the door and was about to leave as I noticed her straining to reach the switch on her bedside lamp. It was one of those lamps with the little wheel clicker on the cord, so it seemed to move further from her with each time she reached for it. She kept stretching out her arm, but not lifting it up toward her head, only continued flailing it out to the side, grunting slightly with the strain as she attempted to grab the cord that was inches behind her hand. I began to laugh, and this was her response:

"What? I can't move my arm up...It's an old frisbee injury."

Appeasement

I checked my e-mail fifteen minutes ago, hoping for some late-breaking news regarding Malabrigo sock yarn...nothing yet. Instead I found a friendly little note from Ed Krall, the Station Manager of WSJV, otherwise known as Fox 28.

That's right. The Station Manager. I am capitalizing the title because he sent me a nice note. Yes, he wants to help me, poor Fringe-less Laura out here in the middle of several cornfields.

And you know, it made me feel much, much better. That is all it took. I still don't have Fox on my television, but it hurts a little less, because Ed Krall cared enough to send me a little note and brighten up my day. He acknowledged my issue and offered his help. It was a nice little thing, nothing huge, just a small note.

I have found, in my life, that's usually all it takes to defuse my seething rage. I appreciate people taking a small step to tell me I matter at least a little bit. I feel like I matter.

But even if it's all for not, Rachael had some ideas I could maybe use...


Update....

I just got another note from Ed Krall. I am outside the viewing area. So, it isn't going to happen for me. I am still not angry, but now I am disappointed, which I wasn't before.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Notes From You Guys

As a little something extra, I wanted to add a bit of a response to the comments from yesterday's posts.

Jen and Rachael:

Thanks for being so sweet to me! It's nice to know that you don't want me writhing on the floor in rage and agony, screaming incoherently and hurling various objects at the television and converter box. It's kind of a relief to think I have other options than hurling my television and The Box into the trunk of my car, driving to the FCC headquarters (where are they again) and flinging the set through a plate glass window with a note attached: "Meanies, stop being so mean. Give me back my knitting time!"

I won't have to ask either of you to come visit me in the asylum (where I will undoubtedly end up at some point in my life, it's just a matter of putting it off for as long as possible). You are both great people, and I will be happy to steal internet at your places of residence (evil laughter).

Laura

Un-Coupled

Valentine's day can be boring for those of us without significant others, or even others. So last Saturday, Jen and I decided to be pro-active and go to concert at the KenapocoMocha instead of sitting at Jennifer's apartment and watching television, which is what we do every Saturday night when we don't have anything else to do.




Kira and Zach Lace Hawkins sang some awesome folk music, we had some fantastic soup, and I had a great time.




Not to mention the hot chocolate.

The only problem was a little thing, something that shouldn't have been a problem at all. Of the people at the coffee shop, there were only a handful of well behaved children, including a very cute little baby who shared our table. She kept giving Jen these big gorgeous grins--adorable!

No, the problem, or should I say problems, are right here:






Recognize the MC prof? Hmm. So did I. These are the Talkers. The people who sat in the shop, drinking coffee and supposedly came to listen to the music. But they didn't do much listening. Because the moment they set foot in the door and noticed all the people they knew, crammed in wall to wall (we were at fire capacity)...they forgot all about the music, and enjoyed their class reunions, or running in to former professors, as there were many.

Those of you (I know at least three) who read this blog and are former/current MC students, will remember Monday morning Convos. At ten in the morning, once a week, MC students have (now had) to walk over to the auditorium like some mass migration and sit in assigned seating in order to listen to whatever scheduled lesson set for that day.

We had one day when a woman came, talking about how Hello Kitty and Godzilla were the natural progression of post-WWII Japan's national psyche. Another speaker was a Native American activist who came to MC with a stack of transparencies of cartoons from newspapers around the country. One by one, he slapped them down and told us which were derogatory and which weren't. Most were. We had people who talked long beyond their 50 minute time limit. We had people who thought they were way more interesting than they were. We had people who wanted more than anything in the world to have student interaction, interaction that wasn't going to happen when half their audience was already asleep before they came out on stage. Then there were the annual ones, the Honor's convo, the one for Brethren Volunteer Services where random people I had never heard of got awards for doing things I can now no longer remember.

There were ballet performances once a year, one year we had an Indian dancer who told stories with her hands and feet that she deciphered for us before each dance. I loved those. Sometimes the choir would sing (thanks to Jen and Rachael), other times we had acting groups come in. One year Ralph Nader came, and so did Indiana's current governor, Mitch Daniels. Those were good ones too.

I once attended a Convo where a Southern Baptist minister gave an empowered lecture on civil rights. However, I was so high on my post-wisdom tooth extraction medication that I thought he was yelling at me for all the bad things that I had done. I burst into tears; I was just so sorry. I had never meant to hurt his feelings.

Then I realized I probably shouldn't have driven to campus that day. After the speech, I called Mom and asked her to drive me home, just to be safe.

The point of this tangent is that each and every MC professor I ever had spent at least five minutes if not whole class sessions lecturing us on how to behave during a performance. We were to sit quietly, paying attention to the speaker, not reading or talking or listening to music or talking on cell phones or playing video games or studying or rustling papers or--gasp--showing any other kind of disrespect.

Well, at the KenapocoMocha the other night, that's exactly what all those MC professors were doing, not to mention the host of other Distractors that made it hard for me to hear the music and impossible to hear what Zach and Kira said between each song.

If you are talking, and there is music, and you feel that the music is drowning out your conversation, the solution is not to raise your voice over the singing. If you are narcissistic enough to believe that your conversation is more important than live music at a concert, there isn't much I can do to help you. But I think, and this is just off the top of my head, it might be a good idea for you to step outside or find a quiet place for your chat. Please.

I am tempted to out each and every MC professor I caught doing this. There were three. Other professors were there, but well-behaved. They were good examples.

If I were the KenapocoMocha, I would do this: Make a sign that says "Quiet, live performance" or something to that effect, since people aren't grown-up enough to catch on without one. Also, it is OKAY to ask people to shut up, or leave if they cannot, in order to keep the quiet going on. The movie theaters do it all the time.

That won't happen at such a casual place, I know. But I thought that writing this blog would be a good foundation for the next time I am at the coffee shop and this happens. When I stand up and start telling people to be quiet or get out, and they drag me off in a police car (or ambulance) then try me for whatever crimes I may or may not commit, I will have the beginnings of a good legal defense.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Convert or Die

Well, gentlefolk, this is February 17, the unoffical date of digital conversion. The government pushed back the deadline, but since we don't follow that law and order nonsense here on the outer edge of civilization, our local stations (by local I mean a two and a bit hour drive, of course).

Did you know Africa, as a continent, has better access to high speed internet than we do in the continental United States?

We now receive all the stations we used to, but no Fox affiliate. We actually get two of all the stations we used to, one of PBS, and still no Fox affiliate. Not from South Bend or Fort Wayne.

So tonight marked the first Tuesday I couldn't watch Fringe. I now know (because I looked it up) that there was no Fringe on tonight. But still. It is a symbolic thing. I also will never be able to watch any of the fun trash I used to fill the empty parts of my day with, like Hell's Kitchen and The Simpsons. Nor can I watch the good stuff, like House, perhaps Dollhouse, we'll never know on that count, and Fringe (did I mention Fringe?.

Why not just watch the online video, you ask? Because I would have to drive a half-hour and then sit at any location with wireless internet in order to watch the online episodes. That is a bigger inconvenience than it sounds. Imagine going to a library to watch television. There is some kind of social pressure not to do that. And I could go to Paul's dorm, but then I would want to laugh with Paul and watch Soccer Death Accidents, Funny on YouTube (not UTube).

I just e-mailed Fox 28 for help. Their online advice included changing antennas or changing converter boxes.

Let's do the math, shall we?

Digital converter boxes, without the coupons, cost upwards of $30. With the coupon, you get $20 off that cost, a $10. box. But the government is out of coupons, so if you go out and buy one now, you will pay $30. If you buy the one Fox 28 recommends in order to get their signal (oh, yes, it matters) you will pay more than that.

Now, in order for me to watch my VCR or DVD player without unscrewing the co-ax cable every blasted time, I need a switcher box, costing $24. Since Mom and Dad need one too, that is another $24. Assuming the average family in the US has at least two televisions, that is $48.

However, in order to use the switcher, we all need RFU adapters, and if you don't already have one, you will need to know the price of those for our little math project. Walmart had them at $20. Since we at our house would need two, that's $40.

Assuming you don't need a new antenna, those of us out here most likely will end up having to buy one, you have an overall price tag of $148. Even though we didn't pay $40. of that, the government did. So on our household alone, the companies that make all this junk (which we already had, so why did we need more of them?) have made a lot of money off all of us.

Over the last month, the cable companies have started advertising like crazy for us to switch over to them, because they will take care of all the problems of switching over to digital for us with their cable guy and his receiver. The TV stations are saying that we can go out and buy boxes without the government coupons.

Now, these are South Bend stations. In their viewing area is Elkhart, with its 15% unemployment. The largest in the country, gentlefolk. These people, on unemployment right now, are being told by their television stations to: 1) pay another bill, to the cable company, when they are worried about food and housing, not to mention medical expenses. 2) buy a new television. 3) buy a new antenna. 4) buy a converter box on their own, the cheapest option, but still upwards of $40 that could go to gas or food, or paying the mortgage.

That is sleazy. TV has always been free. Free to all of us, as long as you had the big heavy box that you watch it on. Now not only can we country folk not play on the internet like you people in your populated areas, we can't have television either. That's pretty sick, mean, cruel. We are being used while people make money off us. And, as usual, this does not affect the wealthy, who purchase new televisions and have cable already.

No, this hurts the poor.

This hurts the poor who were given more time to convert by the federal government, but refused it by local television stations that didn't feel like listening. They were upset that they had to keep two broadcasts going at the same time, and they did what businesses do. They chose to make their business happy, regardless of the people they claim to serve.

I could accept it as a part of my life if I could watch the same TV I used to have. At least with the same channels, I could be content. I don't need more, just the same. But since I have been refused that, too, I can only cry out to whomever will hear me in hope that Fox 28 will increase their signal and guarantee it beyond a 15 mile radius. That would be nice.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Darcy's Day

When I woke up, I reached over to the nightstand and grabbed my Crabtree and Evelyn Rosewater Room Spray. I then sprayed my room repeatedly with the hope that it would defeat the growing scent of Dog V. Skunk.

Although there was nothing in my house that had been touched by the skunk spray, it did not matter. The scrubbing of my poor dog, which had taken place in our basement, was enough. We couldn't wash Darcy outside because it was below freezing, dark, and there was no way we could carry enough water outside to make it happen.

Darcy had two baths last night, enough to keep the stench from killing us. Then she slept in the basement for the first time in her puppy life. When Dad woke up, she was crying down there. Mom took her outside for a bit, then started on the baths again. She had a "shower" which consisted of Mom, fully clothed, holding her up and letting the water rinse away all the doggie shampoo.

Poor Darcy still smelled a bit after all that. You had to lean in and smell her fur up close, but there it was: Skunk. So I grabbed some money and drove in to Wabash's local pet store with the intention of buying the best De-Skunker they had. As I did this, Dad called me.

Dad likes to call me when something is going wrong for him that is out of my control with the implication that I should fix this wrong thing though I cannot and will never be able to, at all, ever. Today he called because he had noticed he smelled a bit like a skunk. He wanted to tell me that I did, too, even though I was miles away from him and he had not smelled me. Even if he was right (How could I tell? The scent was on me!), you do not call a girl just to tell her she smells. That is what you call a no-go. If you want the girl to stay happy, to like you, and not to secretly (or vocally, in my case) wish you were dead. You, as a guy, ought to tell the girl that, though the skunk smell is a setback to the world as a whole, she is still lovely, smart, kind, and you are filled with joy that she has devoted the last day and night to correcting the problem.

You should not call someone on the phone, tell them they stink, and that you do and you've just finished telling all your friends about it. You also should not call the person later to find out what they have done about the problem, unless you also are working endlessly to combat the stink.

Instead of going to get food, I decided to keep myself sequestered from the general population. Just in case Dad, miles away, had been right about the aroma issue. Curse him. I bought the Skunk Stuff, then drove back home. Then I cried, because I am a girl who was called by a guy and told that she smelled. And, let's face it, that wasn't very nice.

By the time I got home, I was mad at Dad for being a mean, vicious, smell-accuser. Punk. So I scrubbed my dog with De-Skunker and ended the skunk's reign of terror.

Meanwhile, the house didn't smell like Dad was saying it did. Nope. And Darcy was cured.

Before I go to sleep tonight, I have to wash her one last time, to get the De-Skunker out of her fur. Then, life can go back to normal.

I hope.

Fan-freakin'-tastic.

I had about an inch and a bit of ribbing done with the Malabrigo Worsted (about to be a pretty hat) when Mom asked me to take Darcy, our dog, for her night walk

We always walk Darcy to the tulip tree at the end of our property and back, so she can have the opportunity to handle any pressing business before we all go to sleep. The familiarity of this routine has caused me to need no flashlight as I walk across the property, I know where all the branches are. It has also led to the development of a little song I sing to her, or myself, as we walk.

And because I have no shame (think the Andrews Sisters):

Don't go sniffing the tulip tree
With anyone else but me,
Anyone else but me,
Anyone else but me.
Don't go sniffing the tulip tree
With anyone else but me,
Til we go romping home.

Believe it or not, there are several other verses.

Well, Darcy likes to run ahead, explore the area by the river, then come back to me and walk up to the house. Tonight I called her at the tulip tree, and she didn't come. It was unusual, but I just walked up to the house.

Then I heard a funny noise. Again, this is not unusual. Darcy sometimes freaks out possum, the occasional raccoon, large herons that make sounds that convince you someone has just been stabbed, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, and other animals. She likes to run up and bump them with her nose, as if to herd them. We are used to it. She herds me every day. Apparently I belong in the front room by the gas fireplace.

I got to the top of our little hill and saw Darcy rolling in the snow. It took a moment for me to realize something was wrong, she kept rubbing her face with her paws. She loves a good roll, but the face rub was weird.

Ladies and gentlemen, my dog had been skunked.

This is a first for us, and we have lived here for 22 years, almost always with pets. Most of them have run around outdoors almost freely, as there is no one around us for miles and the people near enough to notice wouldn't care.

Not only had Darcy been hit with the spray, she was hit full in the face, in her eyes, mouth, nose...you get the picture. It was like doggie mace, and it was unpleasant. We spent the last hour and a half calling vets and scrubbing her and searching the net for help. Now my poor girl is asleep in the basement; she cannot come upstairs because she--well, you know. It is not as bad as it was, but it is still aromatic, pungent, obscene (if odors could be that, this certainly is).

Strangely, it does not smell the same as when someone hits a skunk with their car. Still very nasty, but different. And not the worst scent in the world. That was when Darcy rolled in the spill from when we had the septic tank pumped. Then she came tearing into the house as my brother, who had opened the door, looked on in horror.

It took a lot of cleaning to fix that.

So guess how I'll be spending tomorrow? Poor pup!


Friday, February 13, 2009

The Latest Near Death Experience

I know I promised this yesterday, but I wanted to give it the attention it was due, to capture the moment with the clarity that comes only from reflection over time.

Yeah. I just kept forgetting.

Indeed, it is Saturday, time for me to tell you what I did Wednesday night!

In case you have forgotten, I went to KenapocoMocha that night with the intention of visiting the knitting group that meets there. Rachael and I wanted to scope it out and see if it was our cup of tea/coffee/chocolate. We had experienced several days of unseasonably warm weather prior to that day, but storm clouds had rolled in, accompanied by wind. The cold front coming in, I think.

We had a touch of rain, nothing too serious, and the thaw had caused the river to rise a bit. It wasn't serious either, it hadn't reached our steps yet (these lead down from our house to the bank; we use them to gauge flooding. The closest it has managed to come to the house was the third step down). We hadn't had to cap the little pipe that keeps our basement from flooding. We were golden.

I was late, and Rachael called to say she was too, so I sighed with relief and set off. I drove the way I usually go when heading to North Manchester. There is less traffic and less stops along the way; I rarely have to deal with slow drivers I can't pass or waiting for traffic so I can turn. But, though there was no warning as I set off down the road, I found multiple patches of flooding that covered the road completely. The first was shallow (I could see the bottom), and I drove through. As I did this, I thought that I ought to have turned around as I didn't know how many more flooded parts there were.

They tell you on the news never to drive through flooded road bits because there is no way to tell how flooded it really is. For me, this was not an issue--I had driven on this road so many times that I knew each bump and curve. The worry was that the road had washed out underneath the water. That happens a lot around here, the roads are hardly ever repaired or maintained in any way. Chip and Seal, that's all we get. That is when they take tar and smear it all over the road when it's nice and hot outside (midsummer--they pick a dry and usually windy day). Then they pour dusty fine pieces of gravel all over the hot tar to cover it. The wind will force the dust from the road into the air so you choke on it, and, failing that, the car in front of you will toss up the dust to cover your car (and make you choke on it if you are like me and have to drive around with your windows down as "air conditioning").

If you are very lucky, a hunk of gravel will get thrown up into the air by the car in front of you and smack into your windshield. This will be pebble sized, but the speed at which these things travel is enough to fool you. If your luck holds, it will chip your windshield. This has happened to my family at least twice in my life. With our kind of luck, the little spiderweb cracks come out of it and end up slashing through right where you look through as you drive.

I could, potentially, have hit a part of the road where there was no road. But I didn't even suspect this, since there wasn't enough water to make a current, and the current usually washes out the road.

So the near-death thing wasn't really on the way there. But I count it because it makes me seem like I have the kind of skills to evade my inevitable demise. You then think I am the kind of driver they use in car commercials because I can do crazy things with no risk. I was that person, racing through the puddles on the road and looking cool in my late model American-made sedan. Yeah, I am cool. I know it. Why else would at least twenty people in my area be driving the exact same car in the same color? They want to be like me.

Or it's a popular car, because where we live we buy American-made or get relentlessly harassed by our friends and neighbors. Kind of like when you were in elementary school, and everyone had that one brand of shoe and you were the most unpopular person around for not having them. My real car is a Honda. With a big, nasty dent in the hood from where a deer lept onto it at high speed. And it rains on the inside. My car doesn't beep when you leave your lights on and the battery dies so often I never leave the house without jumper cables and my cell phone. My car is so worthless, they blew it (one like it) up in the Criminal Minds episode "Identity" in season 3. I watch it over and over. So if anyone wants to be like someone in my family, it would be my mom. The Taurus is her car.

The near-death came on the way home. It was dark, the wind had picked up, and it was rainin' sideways. The stars were covered by the thick storm clouds, so the only light came from people's headlights and most other drivers didn't bother turning off their brights because it was just too dark to see otherwise. Wind was pushing me all over the road.

I took the "safe" way home this time, and half of my drive I was getting pushed toward the other lane of traffic. Luckily, the other lane's drivers were being pushed toward the ditch, so no collision hazards. No, the trouble came on the second half of my drive. I was being pushed forward, to the extent that I couldn't stop at my turn. Nope, just kept right on going. I needed to turn around. Normally, I would just use someones driveway like everyone does. That is what I tried.

I spotted a driveway, and as I was now driving slowly, started the turn.

It wasn't a driveway. Not even a road. It was just another chunk of road leading into a ditch. Now my car was across two lanes of traffic on a pitch-black roadway with wind and rain making it impossible for other drivers to see me until it was too late for them to stop.

There's the near death. See?

So I tried, as quickly as possible, to back up and go on before the headlights approaching in the left lane were all I could see. I made it. Then I found a road to use as I cut down toward home and back toward the road I wanted, so I was using a road with two lanes and no flooding.

Caught Me

Since I am a solitary person for the next few days, I am trying to kill time in the best ways possible, ways that do not involve watching television for hours on end or plugging my television into the converter box, which I plan to do in the morning on the day of the conversion in order to preserve the most time with a working VCR as possible

I drove to Warsaw this morning and took care of some errands, then I went to The Shuttle Shop again, my LYS, in order to better police the Malabrigo and monitor the arrival of various sock yarns. I also wanted to show Kathy the lace weight Malabrigo I got yesterday, to share the joy and show her what I was making from Knitted Lace of Estonia.

I plan on knitting a hybrid scarf. I have done the math, and I found that I only need to add one stitch and decrease one between both ends of the scarf, making life easy for me. I hope to cast on sometime tonight, after the Test-itessa photo shoot.

When I had finished chatting with Kathy and buying my new Interweave Knits (I should just subscribe, but they mess up magazines through the mail and I like them pretty), I drove back toward home, stopping for a late lunch of goooood sooooop....mmmm......at the KenapocoMocha. Laughing a bit at Jennifer's misfortune of yesterday, sorry Jen, it was funny, I ate my lunch.

But I can't come here without getting hot chocolate. It is just too good here; it isn't right. If I didn't have to walk Darcy, I would balloon to the size of a house, filling my car with my bulk and causing it to sink drastically as I sat inside, bottoming out on bumpy roads. I went back to the counter and ordered some, and then came back, thinking I would covertly take some pictures of my lace yarn outside of the house. I did, and just as I snapped the first picture, my hot chocolate was delivered to my table. The poor girl was looking at me, wondering (I could tell) what kind of freak photographs yarn she owns in public places.

This kind of freak does that.

I looked up, smiled guiltily, and said, "You've caught me photographing yarn!" Yeah, I'm sure she hadn't noticed. Then, I made it all better by saying, "I've been caught doing worse in public."

Now, that is frankly not true. Plus, for people who don't know me--like the KenapocoMocha girl--it can be downright horrifying. What worse thing did this strange patron get caught doing? Drugs? Was she doing shots of some one's body? How weird is this girl? Was she crouching like Bigfoot at the side of the road? Could you be arrested for what she was doing?

I was joking, I swear. I have never been caught doing something bad, just innocent, quirky, freakish, and downright funny. I have been seen falling down stairs, standing up, and falling down again when I was too dizzy to remain on my feet. I have been caught singing loudly in Walmart. I often knit, count stitches, or do math out loud so I don't screw it up. As if saying "add three" will make it any easier for me. But I don't do the kind of things that would make the KenapocoMocha girl justified in giving me a quick look and darting back to the counter.

Why do I say things like that? I am really not even that amusing; I just watch Bonnie Hunt and think I could be. And I'm not.

Sigh. Here's the yarn:








Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today, in short

Ugh! I was going to give you a detailed and amusing account of how I nearly died last night in a courageous trek to and from the knitting group held at KenapocoMocha Wednesday night. But time has run out, and I am sleepy (as it is now midnight) so instead you get an account of my day, such as it was.

I was in the car today for 6+ hours. I drove just over three of those, and by myself. Mom drove part because she was grateful that I was taking her and because she just plain sympathetic to my cause.

Mom wanted to go up to her dad's house in Griffith so that she could plug in the converter box to his television set, for the digital conversion that the government pushed back until July-ish, even though everyone has decided to convert anyway, leaving me without a television with its friendly VCR companion. My TV and VCR are having a trial separation. I hope very much that they can reconcile.

It's the TV's fault. He's cheating on my VCR with another box. The box is slick and sleek and smooth; it has no tapes for programs, it just knows. It's shows come from the air, or God, or both. I don't know, no one has explained it to me in words I can understand. They said something about signals, though I don't know what kind. Hopefully not the kind that make your teeth glow in the dark. But I bet all ours do already.

Anyway, I had to drive Mom because my car has been in the hospital with a Mystery Noise for a few weeks, getting Car Surgery. I think it is having a belt transplant. I may have to buy special anti-rejection oil. I hope my car place carries that. I will have to ask next time I buy windshield sealant to keep the car from letting rain in on my lap. I seal it every year, though it lasts only about three or four weeks. Instead of being left at home with no car for days on end, I thought I would drive her there (3-ish hours) and then drive home (3-ish hours), wait until Saturday morning and then drive back (3-ish hours) then home with her (3-ish hours, more if we stop at the mall).

I am trying to get Dad to volunteer, in a gesture of Valentines-inspired romance, to drive up to get Mom, then come home with her. This would allow me to not end up having been in the car for a combined 12 hours (or perhaps 13). I know he won't do it, because it would make me happy. Making me happy would cause something in Dad to rupture, spilling out anti-matter from the core of his being. As this anti-matter leaks out, striking the matter of Dad's being, the combination of negative and positive will result in an explosion that will blow a crater in the earth, enough to toss the planet out of orbit. Then, the moon, now also thrown out of orbit, will be drawn into Earth's gravitational pull, killing those of us that are left alive after the first explosion. Of course, I will be dead already, because the initial explosion, so near to my being, will kill me instantly without the long wait the rest of you will have. Sorry.

Mom and I stopped at Sheep's Clothing in Valpo, which is one of my favorite yarn stores, something I would rather not have blown up. I ended up leaving with two skeins of Malabrigo (I have a thing going on with this yarn right now, I need to go on Celebrity Rehab or something, only not for celebrities. As I am clearly not one). I got lace-weight this time so that I can knit something from my new book, my final Christmas present. It was back ordered; I ended up getting it Tuesday. I am patient if I am holding yarn.





Then we picked up a pizza at Rosati's, the best pizza I have had outside of Italy. We took it to Grandpa's and he asked us why the heck we brought pizza, as he had already had pizza earlier in the week. Then he ate some with us. We asked him if he liked it, and he said, "it's okay," which is close to yes while still remaining close to no. But he ate it. I took the rest home, to eat for my next three meals or so, if I can keep it from Dad. He always eats the food I want.


I then tried to find free wireless internet so I could download something on iTunes for the ride home. I did so, then drove my last 3-ish hours through heavy traffic in the dark, although this time I did not nearly die.


And when I came home, Dad was nearly unconscious from exhaustion (but he stayed awake to see me) and my dog and cat were so happy that they both curled up on the sofa with me, Darcy with her head leaned against my legs and Myst curled up on my lap. I felt loved. They endured physical proximity to each other for a full 20 minutes while I finished my Test-itessa, the lone Digitessa sock made of sucky yarn.




I remembered I hadn't done a blog, and I wrote this over the last half-hour, stopping for a moment to call Paul only to discover that I have all the bars my phone can have if I sit in this chair, right in my family room. Not at the window, in fact, a long way from the window, and at the window I only have two bars, or three if I'm lucky. How about that! It's really a big deal.

Pictures of yarn, the near-death blog, and another trip to Warsaw for tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

KenapocoMocha Again

Okay, so this post is mostly for Jennifer, because I know she will love this. She made some comments on the post before this that proves my point.

Wednesday nights are the nights when the knitting group really meets at KenapocoMocha. So I visited.

If you haven't been to KenapocoMocha, it is a coffee shop with a bakery and a soup chef that creates the closest thing I have seen to heaven on earth. Jennifer knows this. And I have mentioned it before. Their soups are so delicious, I think of the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld--only the soup chef lady is nice. Soup for everyone.

She invents these amazing recipes that are totally different from anything I have ever had. So today I was chatting with the girl who was making my hot chocolate (they melt chocolate for this--no powder involved--and steam milk) and she mentioned their website. After the knitting group broke up, I went home and checked it out. Here is the best thing to happen in my life in an age: there are recipes for soup.

In other news, I nearly died again. But I'll save that story for later.

I Have a New Ringtone! Or, Reasons Why My Cell Phone Makes Me Crazy.

Dad has been pouting for about two or three weeks. He keeps complaining that his phone has no signal, none anywhere. In his basement office at church, he can't get calls. Since the church can't have anything but dial-up like at our house, he is "unreachable" at work.

To make you understand the full depth of Dad's phobia of being "unreachable," I have to explain that Dad is a pastor. He also is on calls 24 hours a day, all year long, and probably more than that, if they need pastors in the afterlife.

Dad is so wrapped up in being available to his congregation that he works on his days off; he preaches on Sunday after a week of being in Guatemala, or Haiti, or Colorado, or even after the week when his dad had heart surgery and Dad was driving back and forth from Elkhart all week long. He is so dedicated to availability that after his heart attack, while he lay in bed, he noticed a member of the church walking down the hallway outside his door and was back "on." He disconnected his heart monitor, got out of bed, and in his flappy hospital gown, he pursued the church member down the hallway, determined that someone from our church was having surgery, and left the floor to go to the church member's bedside.

Mom was at home with me at the time, caring for me after my own major health problem and corresponding surgery. I had only been home from the hospital a day or so. She wanted to be in both places, taking care of us both, so she sat down and called Dad's room to see how he was. Dad didn't answer, so Mom got the nurses station instead and dispatched a nurse to his room. Discovering her patient missing, the nurse conducted a search for Dad, while Mom worried at home. When the hospital staff located Dad, they escorted him back to his room. He then was yelled at by everyone involved in the search and responsible for his care, then also by Mom.

If I hadn't been high as a kite on the same drug Dr. Gregory House eats like candy on every episode of House MD, I would have thought it was as hilarious then as I do right now.

Dad's discovery that his phone did not function as it should alit in him a frenzy of pastoral terror.

He needed to get his phone fixed, to protect his job and his congregation. I had discovered the true depth of the problem when I held his phone next to mine and walked around the house, gauging the level of difference in signal between the two phones. Dad had at least one, if not more than one, less bar than me at all times. We have the same phone, purchased at the same time, from the same wireless carrier.

So Dad went to Centennial Wireless. He showed them his telephone and they told him his problem may stem from the fact he never turns his phone off for any reason, and when you turn your phone off and on again, at some point in there it gets updated. I think I remember Andy telling me something like that at some point, which I took as proof that it was okay for me to let my battery die and my phone sit at the bottom of my bag for weeks in between charging it. It seems to work just fine for me.

The Centennial Guy plugged Dad's phone in and updated it, then told him that if it failed to work, he should return. Mom then asked Centennial Guy how people got ring tones on their phones. New ones. The guy grabbed Dad's phone and pressed the little blue globe thing, and they were on the internet.

Now, I have done that like fifty times. Really. And it always, always fails to connect to anything. Mom knew that and mentioned that it failed to work for us. And Centennial Guy said "oh, you might need something downloaded to your phone, but it should work. Try again."

Mom Called me and told me to do this. I, cynically, maintained that it would not work. So, sitting in McDonald's, I pressed the blue globe. And I was on the intenet. It was the Centennial internet but it was internet and it worked.

So I got a new ring tone, for fun. It took three tries, but it didn't matter. I didn't know most of the music they had, but I recognized a song Ellen likes to dance to, and I got that because it makes me happy.

And I realized as I did this: I have had the internet, some of it, on my phone for over two years and never used it, not even once. This proves again that I have the inability to understand my phone. This is not the first time my phone and I have had problems. I have held it, pressed buttons, and I still don't know how to set speed dial or voice dialing, or anything other than taking of pictures and making phone calls.

The phone is a mystery. The two of us are physically incapable of working together. We can't do it. I hate this phone. I have hated it for two miserable years and I have to wait another six months before I can do anything about it. It's a good thing I got that ring tone so the rage building up within me would not bubble over every time I got a call. I would mutter and seethe as I walked to the front window, the only place our cell phones work, answering the phone as a duty, no matter who was calling.

Dad got a new phone, the same make as our old ones. This to me is insane. Who would ask for more suffering? Granted, he could easily use his old one even though he couldn't get mine to work any easier than me, but still--he is flirting with disaster.

And he has four bars at the window, and he can talk on the phone all over the house, in his basement office at church. That isn't right. You can't just talk on a cell phone without pressing your face against the glass of the picture window. It isn't possible. I have the psychological torture device stapled to my side, and he can just stroll around and chat.

I want a new phone. Now.

Maybe I'll just get another ring tone, for the joy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Color of My World

The snow has melted; the temperture having peaked to above -15 F. It is merciful, the cold being so torturous to us.

The ice began to melt over the weekend, and Sunday evening before the Grammy Awards, the thicker ice from upstream broke free and swept downstream, with a crash and churn of water. We walked outside to watch it. The peices would slip underneath each other and pop back out. Others crowded along the bank only to be lifted over the edge by the rising water.

When we woke up the next morning we found piles of ice at the river's edge.







However, it has turned the world to the color it reaches as we near the spring, the bland grays and browns of March before the grass grows.









Everywhere I walk, the ground squelches as if I stood on a sodden sponge. It is unpleasant.





There is the footprint of Darcy, my dog, and a racoon left much earlier.

I had wanted the Malabrigo so much, and my need for color was so great, that I went to Warsaw today and grabbed a skein as quickly as I could. Pausing only for it to be wound into a ball, I left.







Here is the sun.





And now I feel better.

Digitessa Dilemma

Dear goodness.

I think it took some time for the full gravity of what happened to me in the last 24 hours to hit me.

Do you realize that I ripped back my sock, one Digitessa sock, at least six times for no reason?!

That is shocking, just shocking. I am sitting here, looking at the sad little half-sock of the first, pretty Digitessa I took of the needles for its own protection and holding the Digitessa made of crap yarn I could rip back a billion times and never care about and---

All of it was unnecessary. I can't believe I didn't give up on this mess. I can't believe I didn't log on to Ravelry and buy a shot glass with their logo and "Frogged" written across it. I would have bought two. Then I would have gone outside and filled each with some kind of liquor, whatever we have in the house. If nothing, I would have gotten a little bottle of something elitist from the liquor store, because La Digitessa is an elitist sort of sock. Listen to the description taken from the pattern by Yarnissima: "She is demanding. She certainly has a will of her own. She is elegance in person." Yep. Digitessa is the popular girl that wouldn't look at me, at all, even when she spoke to me (asking for homework help). That's her. Only prettier.

Then, I would have taken the sock and placed it next to one of the glasses. Take in mind that this is the Digitessa made of the crap yarn; I have spent more time with this one. I would have saluted the sock, taken my shot, coughed repeatedly, gasped for air, wiped my watering eyes, perhaps I would have run for water or lay on the floor, grasping my burning throat. When I had finished, I would have poured out the shot onto the ground in front of my sock. Or onto my sock, depending on how mad I really was at it. If I poured it onto the ground, I would have gotten some wood, soaked it in water overnight, then I would have dipped the sock in kerosene and placed it on top of the wood. I would have placed the sock and wood into the water, then lit the sock afire. Singing a dirge, or something, I would have watched the burning sock go down the river like the Vikings of old.

If I poured the alcohol on the sock, I would have stood over it, moving my hands over the flame to encourage its growth. Like a rock star who had just lit his guitar on fire after slamming it on the ground and breaking it into pieces.

I know it sounds like I have really thought this through.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Look!

I found this on Ravelry, in a knit along group dedicated to Yarnissima patterns.

Here is a quote:

"For anyone who is wondering about the front…

Because the central front pattern is a different number of repeats from the side cables, your front section may not line up as per the chart 6. Mine doesn’t. No big deal…by the time you have reached that far, you should have the hang of the diagonal cables. Just continue the front pattern as it goes and carefully run the diagonal cables across it.

You will notice that on CHART 6 for the front foot cross, there are a couple of increase stitches on the left side of the pattern and a decrease on the right. These increase/decreases are necessary as the diagonals are not centered with the front panel pattern. The increases/decrease will help to center the diagonals. You don’t have to be on the exact same center pattern repeat in order to do them. Just place them directly inside the diagonal cables as per the pattern and on the same row number as indicated on Chart 6 and all will be well."


This was advice from Knitpickin on Ravelry. Knitpickin is my hero.

La Digitessa, Laura's Bane

I don't know what the heck is the matter with me.

I have been knitting this pattern, ripping it back, knitting some more, ripping it back, switching yarns, ripping, knitting, ripping, knitting--you get the picture. I have been doing this systematicly, observing what my issue was and taking notes in order to prevent a repeat of the disaster. I finally thought, as I mentioned in earlier posts, that I had figured out my problem.

I hadn't.

You see, when the knitting gets to a specific point (the end of the gusset) there is no mention for what row of the main cable pattern one should be on. In fact, there is no mention of what row one should be on before starting the gusset. The side, lesser cables that evolve to become the gusset should be on the fourth row, but other than that? Nothing.

I had in the past had problems ending up on the right row of the lesser cables because I had never knit a toe-up sock and was making the same newbie mistake again and again, causing me to laugh and tear out the gusset. However, I was sure that once I had conquered this mistake, I would have been able to knit until the end of the sock, the cuff, without much trouble.

However, I realized that even though I was on the "right" row all the way up to the end of the gusset (on the main cable pattern) I had big problems when knitting chart 6, the front of the leg. This section has a section of travelling stitches that wrap from the gusset, crossing in the back, around to the front where it meets in the middle of the front, bringing an end to the main cable pattern.

I would give you pictures, but I don't have a nice, completed sock. I have a pile of frogged yarn (again) all crinkly on my floor.

I do not suck as a knitter. I am an awesome knitter. I have knit fancy lace. I have knit complicated cables. I have knit sweaters, socks (more than I will admit), gloves, mittens, scarves, hats, microbes, whistle cases, i-pod sleeves, cell phone cases, purses, and fungus. I have knit it all, designed a bunch, and I have never had problems like this.

That is because I am reasonably smart. I know how to figure out a knitting pattern and I know how to say to myself: "this isn't me, maybe there is a pattern error." And when I say that, I jump online and check it out. That lets me fix the issues I have, like with my cardigan (I love my cardigan) that had an issue with its pattern. It wasn't me. And even the patterns of some of my socks, most of which I caught and corrected by myself. I am Smart.

Several weeks ago, when I ran into this Chart 6 pattern problem for the first time, I went online and checked for errors. There were none. I am Dumb.

I am Very Dumb, because when most people would go for help, ask questions, post a topic on Ravelry...and I didn't. Instead, I switched yarn so I could figure it out myself without causing permanent damage to the sock yarn I care about. I can waste the bad yarn and work on the good yarn when I had it figured out. Good idea, yeah. But I was still Supremely Dumb because even as I read the pattern for the billionth time, I failed to recognize my problem, which is a big one.

Now as I sit in the mass of frogged yarn, I realize the error of my ways as I consider counting back rows so that I end up on the right repeat for sure. That is Galactically Dumb. The kind of Dumb that leads to a girl getting caught in a garage door in the Scream movies (Which were bad, especially because they led the way to the Serial Killer Training Videos we see advertised every day).

I am checking Ravelry again. Not for errors, but to check and see if someone has posted a "Hey, just in case you want to know, I was on Row X of Chart Y when I started the gusset!"

I won't find that.

When I have finally fixed my issues, I will frame the solitary sock I have knit out of The Crap Yarn that has lived in my drawer that holds the random bits of yarn. It was the only skein big enough to knit from that I had never worked with. I hate this yarn, it feels like sandpaper. But it will not tear the skin from my legs if it is framed above my bed where I can look at it and smile, knowing I have conquered this pattern. I will conquer this pattern.

In case you want to see the sock, you may take a peek at it here.

I am concentrating on not going insane. I am focused on that singular goal. I affirm that having a problem with a pattern does NOT make me a bad knitter. And even if I were a bad knitter, that would not reflect on me. I can be a good person and a bad knitter at the same time. That wouldn't matter to me, though. Because I am still a good knitter.

This is a challenging pattern.

It says so in the instructions.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What Hurley Said.

Saturday was another one of those days when I looked death in the face and said, "Whatever, man."

I was driving to Jen's apartment, as I do on Saturday evenings when we have nothing better to do, which is nearly every Saturday. I stopped at a light, one of those lights that has a little green arrow for those of us turning left in the left turning lane. So, you see, I was doing what I should where I should. Because I am a good driver. Yep. A very, very good and safe driver.

Another driver, the person in the right lane who still had a red light, was pulling up to the light. Pulling up without the intention of stopping. Even though he had a red light. Not stopping, I could tell. So I stayed in the lane I had no intention of staying in, the left lane. I wanted to be in the right lane. I had a turn to make, at the next light. A right turn. But I did what I had to do. I stayed in the left lane.

But, unfortunately, so did the crazy turning guy. He widened his turn, entering my driving zone and missing me by a few inches. He would have rammed me. Like in Star Trek.

I did the only thing anyone can do in those situations. I slammed the palm of my hand into the horn and held it down until I felt good and vindicated. As I did this I muttered profanity. Then I went into the lane I had wanted to be in, and I went to Jen's, walking in the door and saying, as Hurley said when he found the van and fixed it and took Charlie for a ride in it: "Sometimes you have to look Death in the face and say, "Whatever, man.'"

And for me, that was Saturday night.

[For my computer, it was moments ago, when it randomly showed me this freaky blue screen, all zoomed in. It had writing on it that said there was a critical error of some kind. I have to take it to the doctor. Best Buy, here I come.]

I want Malabrigo!

Sometimes I am very spoiled.

It usually stems from the desire to knit something and to knit that something right at the moment the whim strikes me.

I want, more than anything in the world, to knit something (anything, really) with the new Malabrigo yarn at the Shuttle Shop in Warsaw.

As a rule, I don't buy yarn when I have no plan for it. I must have a pattern or at least an idea of a pattern before I buy sweater yarn. I must have sock patterns in my Queue on Ravelry before I will allow myself to buy sock yarn (okay, that is just a lie. I pretend that's what I do). Today, when I dropped by the Shuttle Shop, I saw the Malabrigo yarn for the first time, felt it, and decided I must have some.

However, I have no idea of what to use it for. So I resisted temptation. I looked at the pretty yellow and reminded myself it would be idiotic to buy it, as I look hideous in yellow, like Emily Dickenson right before she dropped dead. At least, what I imagine she must have looked like before death. And we're talking the real photo of her, not the one her sister retouched to make her prettier. In short, I look pale, sickly, and with the dark circles under my eyes and my dark brown hair longer than it has ever been before, I do look like I have slid out of my own casket before leaving the house. Trust me, fans of Stephanie Meyer, if people really looked like the vampires she describes, they would look like me and that ain't pretty. You can see the blood vessels right through my pasty skin, and that makes me look tinged with blue. Not good. Not even a little.

Tan, you ask? My skin doesn't tan. It turns yellow. Which, when combined with the blue tinge, makes my coloring vary from yellow to sick green. Mmmm. That's bringin' sexy back. I long to fly to England every summer, to be with my own kind. In England, I wasn't the palest person at the beach. That feels good.

But I digress. The fact was, the yarn I wanted had no purpose, so I left it on the shelf instead of letting it sit in the yarn bowl (where pretty unknit yarn lives to liven up my room).

The store is supposed to have Malabrigo sock yarn, at a time that remains unspecified and at the whim of the UPS or Fed-Ex guy. I want that yarn. I have decided that is the yarn for me. I have a billion sock pattern queued. Fine, a little less than that, but a lot. And I must knit them with the Malabrigo, in a pretty semi-solid that will work for the Digitessa, because I think I have my problem with that figured out, finally.

So it must come, and it must come soon. I cannot live another week without it. I need it, like drug addicts need their crack. I must have that sock yarn, wound into a little ball of happiness and waiting for me to cast on.

I'm a little obsessive.

I will now distract you from my oddities with this:





It is a hat I knit for our recent cold spell.





See, now doesn't that just make you forget all the freakish things I just said? The kind of things that make you want to call a judge and get me declared non compis mentis so you can have me committed against my will? I hope so. Although, the idea of sitting around in a sunny dayroom, knitting with wooden needles while supervised so I don't harm myself or others sounds kind of nice.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Got Nothing

Yep...

Huh.

I made a goal a month or so ago to write a blog every day, and take the weekends off. Last weekend, I was so filled with ideas that I wrote on Saturday and Sunday too. So today I will share a series of unconnected events that have thus far failed to mesh into a cohesive idea or narrative format.

Today, Mom took Darcy for a walk, got dizzy, and blacked out several times on her way back home. She abandoned her jacket in a tree by the creek because it was too heavy, and thought about leaving her shoes as well. Now, she's fine. What do you call that?

Dad spent the evening playing his whistle in his room. The phone rang, and though he was feet from it, he failed to answer it. This may be because he is deaf. DEAF! (I shouted that last one so he could hear me.) I walked into Paul's room, which hasn't has any overhead light since the bulbs burnt out over a year ago. Mom wouldn't change them, because Paul can reach the bulbs from the bed, and she has to drag in a step ladder and drag it back out. Turns out Dad is a lot like Paul, because when HIS call was over, he left the phone on the floor behind a chair in the dark so others would have to struggle repeatedly for each call. Thanks.

I went to the grocery store today with a list. Then I called to see if we needed hot dog buns. After that, Dad called me back to edit the list, and I ended up walking around the Walmart grocery section three or four times, switching the kind of chips I was buying to the kind he likes, and adding in some relish, because "he didn't have enough." Curse his name. Then I drove home, and he ate his hot dogs like a duck, swallowing them in three bites without chewing. Real attractive.

Has anyone else noticed how Valentine's Day has degraded from the meaningless greeting-card holiday it once was and become solely about sex? Television talk shows are almost exclusively featuring people talking about sex, how they have it, with who, with what, and why they hate the people they used to have it with. The infamous fourth hour of the Today Show with Hoda and Kathie Lee (shudder) is enough to make me go deaf on a good day, but today, it almost made me go blind. They featured a pair of underwear designed to have two occupants. The box this garment came in had a picture of its intended use. Yep. Thanks for that. Then, to make matters worse, Kathie Lee (that harpy, spawned of Regis' evil) took them out of their containment and announced that they had been previously worn. She then exposed the inner crotch of the panties to the camera and repeated her assertion, accusing a member of the crew of having done so. There are reasons every day that the two of them should be loaded onto a rocket by NASA scientists and blasted into the sun, but NASA doesn't take my phone calls anymore.

I had to rip out the gusset of my Digitessa practice sock because I think I have the issue I had with the first attempt figured out. I think a bit of clarification could have been left out of the pattern...leading to my stupid mistake. Mistakes. My stupid, repetitive mistakes.

And there you go. My day. Wow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

This is fantastic!

I was reading Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Twitter posts (this is the Yarn Harlot for all you non-knitting Muggles) and I saw that she mentioned a certain web page.

It was this one: What is Stephen Harper Reading. Now, if you are not Canadian or choose not to concern yourself with the politics of surrounding countries (that's a mistake, Mexico's chaotic drug war is crossing our border and has already caused at least one kidnapping within our country, not to mention what happens to people in Mexico, which is much worse). Canada's Prime Minister, although maybe not for much longer, is Stephen Harper.

The page I linked to is managed by an author who sends Mr. Harper a book every two weeks. The books are selected for their ability to impart a sense of peace on the reader, with the hope that reading them will bring him stillness. For good reason, if you know anything about Mr. Harper and his positions (especially regarding the arts, which got my favorite knitting celebrity in a tither).

The reading list alone is amazing, I recommend most of the books on it (the ones I don't I haven't read--yet).

Yann Martel started the web page, selecting each book and writing a note and an inscription before sending them off to the Prime Minister. In case you don't know, Martel wrote The Life of Pi--which one the Booker Prize (That is a big deal). I will let him explain his motivation; I hope you all read it.

The point of this post; though, is not to congratulate Yann Martel for the awesome reading list, nor to point a finger at any political figure beyond the borders of the USA--we have had our own massive problems of late in that department.

My point is to ask: "Why didn't someone try that with President George W. Bush?"

So I typed the question, "What is George W. Bush Reading" into Google.

I found many references to an interview Karl Rove gave, describing the former president's reading habits. However, I didn't find any projects like Martel's.

I wondered why. President Bush was mocked, deservedly, for his demeanor. Quotes taken from his speeches were made into "Bushisms" and published, repeatedly. He was called uninformed, uneducated. And that was just by me. Then it hit me. There were several good reasons no one tried to give him a reading list. He is married to a (former) librarian. Laura Bush could have given him any number of good books. Alternately, Cheney would have tried to ban any controversial/against message books that crossed the desk of the president. I presume. And he already had one. At least in 2006.

No matter what Bush read or didn't read during his time in the White House, he stayed the same man. Meaning either his book list wasn't one that led to self-improvement, or his books confirmed his core belief system.

When we read, no matter what our book choices are, we ought to keep an open mind, approach each novel with the goal of hearing the author's message and learning what we can from it. This was why I read the Twilight series even though I wanted to tear my eyes out through all four novels. I learned how to write a good hook from those novels. I also learned that, if you want to read Wuthering Heights, you should just read it. Don't buy a series of novels that are disguised as a different story but actually are, simply, longer versions of Wuthering Heights. With more vampires. And werewolves.

I'm sorry no one thought to provide our former president with good, insightful books. Even if nothing he read changed him or showed him the value of the arts in our country, it would have been a nice way to reach out to someone so many flaming liberal artists (that would be me, again) disagreed with so passionately.

I've read through this post again and have to say, it could have been planned better. Usually I try to end with a bit of a conclusion. But there isn't one, in this case. Just a recommendation: Read a good book, once and a while. Put down the magazines and read a good book. There is a table in every large bookstore marked "noteworthy paperbacks." Just grab something that looks interesting and give it a try. You might not like what you read but try to keep an open mind. Look at how the writer composes his sentences. Look at descriptions, imagery. Try to picture each character in your mind. Examine their similarities and differences to other characters, and how they grow through the book. And as you turn the last pages, think about the why behind the novel. What was the reason the author sat down to write the story he/she wrote.

Then, when someone talks about slashing library budgets, taking books out of school libraries, or cutting funding for the arts, ask yourself if your favorite book could have been written without those grants. Ask if you would be the same if you hadn't been able to go to a library as a child. Ask what would happen to you, how your life would change, if you couldn't afford to buy books. Ask if the world we live in would be improved, really improved, if the arts were abandoned the way so many politicians advocate in times of economic turmoil.

Oh well, thanks for listening.
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