Friday, December 29, 2006

Give Me a Break (and a Broom!)

Have you read news articles such as this one about a recent study showing that doing housework decreases the risk of breast cancer?

Give me a fucking break!

Okay, so the point of the study is that regular moderate exercise is better than more strenous, less frequent exercise. Point taken. But, the headlines scream HOUSEWORK! Not, MODERATE EXERCISE.

So...great! In our dimwitted cultural imagination, this will become simply another reason to blame a woman for her cancer! You know, if you hadn't let those dishes pile up and your floor go unswept, maybe we wouldn't have to chop off your breasts and shoot you full of poison. This'll teach you to take better care of your house and husband and children.

I like a tidy house, so maybe I'll avoid the breast cancer plague. But what about women who work 3 jobs and don't have time to clean their houses (or apartments or the place that they found to sleep for the night) or participate in other regular moderate exercise?

Also, is it really all about the exercise, or might it be the clean living space that helps avoid cancer? Just what the hell is in our dust? Pollutants, maybe? Maybe we could talk about more stringent environmental regulations? No way, because then the blame could not be pinned to individual women.

To certain news writers, I say, take this broom and shove it.

[Also, don't get me started on how women will now be encouraged to clean house instead of participate in sports or other regular non-cleaning exercise.]

A Few Last Slugs

2006 is still trying to pack in more horribleness.

Recently, I learned that one of my school's fixtures, a woman in her 90s who graduated from here back in the day and continued coming to the school on a near-daily basis to hang out, passed away this week. Surprising to me, as she was still stopping by for coffee every afternoon last week.

Also, I learned that my sister's fiance is back in a hospital. Apparently, his other recent stay was not self-motivated as I was led to believe, but came about after he was found wondering Atlanta breaking windows (actually, just one window...with a stick). During our visit to my parents', it was quite obvious that he is still delusional. I hope a breakthrough of some sort happens this time. I also hope my sister seeks counseling or a support group, because she is shouldering a huge responsibility. This makes my soul hurt.

2006, kiss my ass. Hate you.

Forward
Porkchop and I intend on going to Rooster for breakfast tomorrow morning. Yay! Crêpes!

I wonder if I should tell them that "dessert" is misspelled on their website. How embarrassing. Although....maybe I just don't know what "desert crêpes" are.

Marbles is having 24 hours of yoga on New Year's Eve and Day. I might want to go, but they haven't posted the class schedule yet. I don't like surprises...I'd like to map out my schedule well beforehand.

The Yarn Sale
I haven't been to the Knitorious yarn sale, and I probably won't go, because I can't get there before the store closes in the evening. How sad! But, also maybe a good thing.

On second thought, it's just sad. Before, I thought we might go to Madison this weekend, so I was saving for a trip to the BEST YARN STORE EVER, Lakeside Fibers. I still have two Lakeside punchcards...I swear I will earn another $20 off at some point.

Anyway...now no Madison, no yarn trip. Murrrr.

Ah well, Lakeside is probably closed this weekend anyway. As I recall, they close at the drop of a hat.

Someday, my pretty precious Lakeside, someday.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Something that Makes Me Happy

Regina Spektor's albums stream for free from her website. I especially enjoy playing and replaying Fidelity and On the Radio off of Begin to Hope.

Cheers!

Hyperbolic Crochet

This looks and sounds intriguing, eh?

I like to imagine mathematicians busily crocheting away. Also, I love that there's an organization called The Institute For Figuring. Because, when I was younger, my grandpa was always figuring things. But in a different sense. "Well, the way I figured it, that cow was going to be stuck in that fence."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Afterthoughts

I've been feeling like an afterthought lately...an idea that one might entertain for a moment and then dismiss with a wave of the hand.

Porkchop tried cheering me up by serenading me with her new iKaraoke (which actually kind of works!), but I still feel glum.

Murrrr.

Present Weekend
Porkchop and I went to see my family in northeast Arkansas for an exhausting weekend. My sister and parents were all keyed up and played off each other's respective quirks and foibles. There was nary a moment of silence.

This is how I spent most of my time:

knitknitknit

Trying to finish that darned cabled scarf! Thankfully, it is done and given. Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have of it. Perhaps the owner could take a shot of the cabling and send it to me?

I took a breath from knitting to open some of these:

present explosion

These are two of my favorite gifts received (even if they are from Anthropologie):

little guys

I gave these to my mom and sister:

bags outside

Here are the insides, courtesy of Porkchop and her sewing skills:

bags inside

Here are my sister and dad demonstrating an alternate use of the bags (a use that I do not condone):

hats!

My Favorite
My favorite present is a knitting needle case that Porkchop made out of scraps! So pretty! And nearly finished!

The Next Holiday
I hope the next weekend speeds by quickly. I haven't had good luck with past New Year's Eves, making it my least favorite holiday EVER.

The only good thing is time off of work. Oh yeah, and we get to kick 2006's ass out the door.

2006 was the suckiest year for so many of my family, friends, and acquaintances. Yeah! Get the hell of here, 2006! Scram!

With our hastily made plans canceled for this year's holiday, I think I'll barricade myself in our apartment, teach myself some crochet, and get to bed early. Of course, if I plan this, our apartment will probably catch fire or all of my crochet hooks will mysteriously disappear.

Glum glum glum.

Friday, December 22, 2006

No Red Ink Left

It's the afternoon before the holiday weekend, and I'm stuck reviewing a 75-page area statement. I'm only halfway through it, but I really want to stab my eye with a pen or another sharp object.

Although I'm going out of my mind, I've been convinced that I'm an A-1 writer. Thank you, Ph.D. student-who-shall-remain-nameless!

Sweet Jesus, someone teach this student how to write a well-constructed sentence. From there, we can move to paragraphs. Although chapters are a long way off, we'll get there some day. Some day.

Ah well, have a nice weekend!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

More with the Shibori

Remember how I wrote about shibori a couple of times maybe two months ago? The main thing that kept me from starting a shibori scarf was the amount of time it would take to knit a long, fine-gauge scarf. Well, I just checked out the non-pattern content of Knitty and saw this article about using old sweaters for a shibori scarf.

What a wonderful idea! And, why didn't I think about that?!

I'm not too keen on the "winter garden" scarf featured in the article, but some sort of felted embellishment would be nice. Oh! What if it was needle felted?! That would cover two recent fancies at once!

Meanwhile...

I'm at work, but I have absolutely no motivation to format working papers or do planning for an upcoming conference. Why? Because no one else is in the office! Well, my student worker is, but she doesn't count.

So...I'm posting two recipes. One is for a biscotti that is our very favorite. It's rare that Porkchop and I adore the same baked item (Porkchop isn't a huge chocolate fan while I am a dark chocolate fool), but we both love this biscotti. I recently realized that I've been making this biscotti for 7 years now! Crazy! The other recipe is for a shortbread that is a new favorite.

Before recipe posting, has anyone out there tried needle felting? I think it looks intriguing....maybe after I learn the ins and outs of crocheting.

ORANGE-CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp finely grated orange peel
1 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
2 cups flour
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate miniships
2/3 cup shelled lightly salted pistachio nuts

Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.

In a large bowl with mixer on high speed, beat butter, 1 cup sugar, the peel, and baking powder until well blended. Beat in 3 eggs. On low speed, beat in flour just until blended. Stir in chips and nuts.

Turn dough out on a well-floured surface. Divide dough into quarters. Roll each portion into a 9-inch long rectangular log (use your own judgment about width and height - I think I usually do a few inches across and an inch or so high, but I never measure those).

Place logs 3 inches apart (logs will spread) on prepared baking sheet. Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with a fork. Brush egg on logs, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar.

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack 5 minutes. Loosen with a spatula and remove to a cutting board. Wipe off cookie sheet.

With a long, sharp knife, cut each log diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange slices upright on cookie sheet.

Bake 15-17 minutes longer until crisp. Remove to wire rack to cool (cookies will become even more crisp). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks (but they won't last that long, believe me!).

CREDIT: From an old Woman's Day cookie insert. It's a long story...how I came to possess said cookie insert.

**************

ALMOND-ORANGE SHORTBREAD

1 cup butter, unsalted, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
grated zest of 1 orange (or about 2 tsp)
3/4 cup sliced almonds

In a mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, almond extract, and salt until smooth. With mixer on low speed, add flour and orange zest; mix just until a dough forms. With a wooden spoon, rubber spatula, or your hands, gently mix in almonds.

On a piece of wax paper, form dough into a rectangular log, 12 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Wrap log in the paper and freeze until firm (at least 1 hour and up to 3 months). If freezing longer than 1 day, wrap log again in plastic wrap.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Remove dough from freezer (if dough has been in freezer for a long time and is frozen solid, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to avoid crumbling).

With a sharp knife, cut dough into 1/4-inch slices; place on ungreased baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake until edges just begin to turn golden, 20-25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet; transfer cookies to rack to cool.

CREDIT: From an Everyday Food issue. Yay for Martha Stewart and her empire!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Time for a Meme (and Other Things)

Yay! I was recently tagged for the very first time!

To celebrate, I am taking time out of my work to recount 6 Weird Things about myself.

Here are THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.' People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged' in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

My Things
  1. Some people already know this, some don't. My right eye squeaks whenever I have the slightest sinus issue. This isn't a little squeak, either. It's LOUD. If the sinus issue is big enough, my eye squeaks on its own, no help from me necessary. GROSS!


  2. I once took apart a desiccated corpse for a summer forensic anthropology project. Not only was it old and dried up, the police found it in a Shriner's Halloween fun house! The poor guy was painted glow-in-the-dark green and had electric eyes in his orbits.


  3. Thanks to the project mentioned previously, I have done the following: ripped a guy's throat out (quite literally), held a guy's dried up organs in my hands, and leaked embalming fluid onto my clothes (it seemed it pooled in the joints - and, no, I don't think it was synovial fluid). I also have the smell of old, dried up flesh being melted by friction from a stryker saw permanently burned into my sensory bank. Yum!


  4. I can get a lot of mileage out of that summer project. I also helped bury the guy's bones on one of my university's test farms. The idea was that a future forensics class would dig up the bones, treating it like a crime scene, and conduct analyses. Given that my professor and everyone else with any knowledge of the burial has since left the univerity, I don't think this will happen. I think it will be found during expansion on the farm, and some poor person will be stuck trying to figure out why a dismembered body is buried on the farm, along with some discharged bullets, a few cigarettes, and a "suspicious" powdered substance. P.S. We decided on this burial, rather than deal with the various guidelines for disposing of human skeletal remains.


  5. I am compulsive about some things. If an object isn't positioned quite exactly how I think it should be, I have to move it. I have to start climbing stairs with my right foot first. Same for stepping across cracks in the sidewalk. These are tendencies that I fight daily. I also have a difficult time not mentally typing everything I say or think. Somewhat related, I sometimes forget to breathe when I knit. Also when I type. I'm lucky I'm still alive.


  6. You might not guess it by talking to me, but part of my family is, well, questionable. Growing up, I thought it was quite normal to have con artists for uncles and a grandfather who burned down his family's house for insurance money....twice.

Now you know!

I am tagging Porkchop and s00zi. Also ken, who could change the topic to "6 Weird Things that Annoy Me." And Kathy, who could modify it to "6 Things that Chileans find Weird About Me." I can't make the six people count, but if you, dear reader, want to participate, feel free to list weird things in the comments section.

OTHER THINGS
Look, here's my hat:

pretty hat!

That photo was taken Monday night. I came home totally exhausted and gross feeling, so I took a long, hot shower and rushed into my pajamas. Nice!

I can't wait for some down-time! It has been sweatshop-like at our house (except we can take all the bathroom breaks we want). I knitknitknit while Porkchop sewsewsews. Then we cook and wrapwrapwrap presents and try to pack in time with everyone. It's fun! And, exhausting!

Unfortunately, I'm starting to lose feeling in my left hand from knitting! It's been tingling all day today, which is just a bit scary mainly because I HAVE A SCARF TO FINISH! I don't have time to lose this hand! On a related note, I woke up at 6:00 am Sunday morning on Target's sidewalk and COULD NOT MOVE MY LEFT HAND AT ALL. That, my friends, was super-freaky. I think I had been sleeping on it, but it took quite some time for me to regain movement.

Speaking of Sunday morning, staying all night on the Target sidwalk wasn't so bad at all. Our neighbors were quite amusing, and everyone in the core 15 was quite pleasant. Porkchop and I even managed to sleep 2-3 hours. We were nice and toasty in our sleeping bags while others were shivering under little blankets.

Back to pictures.

Here's a nice shot of the pretzel rods that we made Monday night. Okay, we didn't make the pretzels...we just dipped them in chocolate and added various toppings. This year, we used toffee bits, coconut, pistachios, and peanuts. Easy! and pretty!

pretzels

So far, this is one of the best shots of our tree. It's so hard to capture!

tree

And, finally, here's the 2005 Sonic snowglobe. Tacky, eh?

tacky!

Tonight we're going to the Bach Society's Christmas candlelight concert. I am so excited! I haven't been to a Christmas concert since high school. When I was a kid, we always went to so many....between school band concerts and the piano parties that my teacher held and the random concerts in town. Anyway, I've really missed a good ol' Christmas concert, so I persauded Porkchop to go to one with me.

Yay!

Have a great Wednesday!

P.S. We exchanged presents with Suzi and her mom last night. Among other things, I received the Happy Hooker. I can't wait to start hooking!

Monday, December 18, 2006

With the Sidewalk for a Pillow

Hi! Sorry for more broken promises of pictures!

The weekend was both long and short. It held super-packed busy-ness and hours to just sit and do nothing but watch the minutes tick by.

Saturday was busybusybusy. Sunday was an abbreviated day.

Starting Saturday night at 10:30, Porkchop and I were in line at a Target to (hopefully) purchase a Nintendo Wii for her younger brother (who is giving it to his girlfriend's kids). Yay! We were two of the lucky fifteen who received vouchers at 7:00 Sunday morning!

The other Wii is on eBay. Some say eBay scalpers are greedy, while others say that they (we?) are doing a good deed by making Wiis more widely available. I'm just hoping I get enough extra money to buy a plane ticket for our vacation in April.

More on our adventure later! Promise to keep this promise!

Wii Update
Our extra console went for about $125 more than what we paid for it. Not a plane ticket, but it could be a nice dinner at Niche. I hear they have a 7-course tasting menu now.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Post #101

Just realized my previous post was my 100th. What a miserable subject for a milestone post!

This post will be more cheerful! Yet rushed! And without pictures!

It sucks to never be home during natural-light hours during the week. I promise pictures this weekend...pictures of snowglobes and stockings and a cabled hat!

My new cabled hat (made with this pattern) is so pretty! I love it so freakin' much! As I was telling CJ last night, I like to just sit and look at it and touch it. Then, I put it on and admire it in a mirror. Yes, I might be a bit obsessive.

Currently, I'm working on a cabled scarf that will be a present for someone. It's also pretty....that's all I can say. I also have felted bags to line; Porkchop will be assisting with sewing.

Short on time....here are highlights of the past week:
  • Ate at Il Vicino last Friday. Yum! Great pizza and calzones!

  • Went to a kid's 6th birthday on Saturday. Sounds not fun, perhaps, eh? But, it was! The theme was "Safety Heroes," and the parents arranged for the fire department to come out and give the kids a tour of a fire truck and safety tips.

  • Went to Suzi's for knitting night. Her cat continues to amaze/horrify us by doing things like playing with candles and burning both front paws. Seriously, the cat is not the least bit intimidated by fire. Courageous or not-so-smart?

  • We made orange-chocolate-pistachio biscotti and orange-almond shortbread this week. Recipes to follow later!

  • We bathed Keetah last night. Actually, Porkchop did most of the work while I handed her things. It's always disgusting to see the amount of dirt that comes off of Keetah.



Hmmmm....I thought there were more highlights. What a paltry list.

My work is busy! Must go!

Look for photos this weekend! Promise!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Is Wednesday the 13th the New Friday the 13th?

I have had such a bad morning, and it's not yet 9:00. And, actually, everything happened before it was even 8:00.

On my way to the bus stop, I stepped in dog poop...the only poop on our sidewalk, and I had to step in it. So, I had to rush home, change shoes, and hurry back to the bus stop. I was fairly certain that I had missed any bus that would get me to the metro stop before 8:11, but I decided to try anyway.

Wrong decision.

A drunk guy at the bus stop sang a rap song to me, to which I smiled and nodded politely. Then he said, with a drunken slur, "What? Did you forget to shave this morning? You have more whiskers than me."

My peach fuzz is the one thing I'm sensitive about. I've got blond hair and super fair skin that burns to a crisp...I need a bit of fuzz covering to protect me from skin cancer! After years of teasing in elementary school, I came to accept my fuzzy lot in life. (And, no, hair removal beyond waxing my eyebrows is so not for me.)

But this drunk asshole had to bring it all back up. Thanks!

So, I replied to the guy, "That's not a very polite thing to say to someone." This caused him to trespass into my personal space and yell at me! The alcohol fumes nearly had me drunk!

I was like, what are you doing? Go away.

He sat down on the bench but continued to pester me. My favorite was when he asked for a dollar or 50 cents, to which I asked, "After you've been mean to me? What do you think?" It was so grade school.

After I saw him pull out his huge jug of alcohol and take a few swigs, I decided I had had enough for the morning and walked home to get my car.

Of course, on the walk home, I started crying because I can only take so much before 8:00. I had also had a horrible dream this morning that caused me to wake up crying and put me into an already-fragile state.

If I could take my sick days, I so would have called in this morning. Unfortunately, I'm still waiting out my 6-month probation period (grumble!).

Yesterday, I had so much love for the bus. A guy gave me his seat on my evening commute, and I talked about knitting with another rider. This morning...I hate the bus! And drunk mean people!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dilemma

My path between the Skinker train station and my building takes me across a grassy area. The walk is usually uneventful, but today, it has caused my moral compass to spin.

While traversing the grassy area, I spied an object that the non-knitter might identify as a tampon or suppository case. The initiated, however, can identify it as a Clover Chibi case for tapestry needles. My thought was not, "Score!," but "Oh! The poor knitter who lost this!" and "Poor little muddy Chibi!" I scooped it up and nestled it in my hands.

Once in my building, I washed off the mud and checked its contents. Yep, 3 needles in various sizes.

What do I do?

I don't feel right keeping it, but how on earth will I find its owner? Should I throw it back in the grassy area and hope that the owner goes looking for it? I don't want a non-knitter to pick it up and then discard it once he or she finds that it is not a drug case.

Or, is this a sign of some sort? Like, I am following the right path as a knitter?

Poor little Chibi...it's an older one, like this:

old chibi

So, dear readers, what should I do?

Longer post later, in which I will fill you in on our encounter with a fire truck, my new beautiful cabled hat, and my sore hands and wrists. Also, recipes!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Sockless

Hi y'all!

So....I wasn't feeling the sock love, which made me rip out my one inch of ribbing and switch to a hat. I don't know why I can't jump on the sock wagon. Perhaps it's because I'm very particular about my socks. If it's not Smartwool, I usually don't want anything to do with it. I know....wool is wool, right? Wrong!

I could not go gently into sock knitting knowing that I would never let the socks touch my feet.

At least I'm getting a cool hat out of it: the first Winter Femme Hat in this pattern set. I think the second one looks super-fun as well. (P.S. The same person designed the pattern that I'm using for a cabled scarf. I guess I really like her designs!)

What else....

I had a haircut Tuesday night. After my stylist left Verve (and apparently was not allowed to contact her clients!), I had a disappointing cut with another stylist. Since I prefer to not suffer from haircuts in which the only texturizing is provided with blocking scissors, I decided to try Salon St. Louis. I'm quite pleased with my decision. My stylist spent nearly 10 minutes discussing what I wanted and what I definitely don't like (e.g., blocking scissors!). The shampoo/conditioning session included a scalp massage with warm oils, a hot towel on the neck during conditioning, and a free hand paraffin treatment (I love hot wax!). The cut itself took nearly 40 minutes, as the stylist did a careful point cut job. Yay! No blocking scissors!

At my last appointment at Verve, the stylist didn't really pay attention to me or my hair, acted bored, and sped through the cut. No point cutting, just blocking scissors at the end. Blech! Not happy!

My stylist at Salon St. Louis was such a deal at only $31. I am happy. And, no, the salon did not pay me to write this. Oh, one more thing. Salon St. Louis gives you free touch-ups in between scheduled haircuts. So, in 3 weeks, I'll go to the salon and my stylist will clean up my neck and whatnot for free. The salon I went to in Iowa City also provided this service, but I've never heard of it elsewhere.

The only painful part of the haircut was listening to a customer explaining to another stylist what blogs are. Painful.

Last night, Porkchop and I made a super-yummy dinner: chicken with a creamy dill sauce and buttermilk mashed potatoes. Yum! Tonight, we have navrattan korma scheduled. Double-yum!

Have a great Thursday!

Also, if you are in St. Louis, be sure to go to the Independent Art Market this weekend!

Just One More Thing
Maybe St. Louis actually deserves its Most Dangerous City title if people are killed over warm Stag beer. Of course, maybe it wasn't the warmth...maybe it was the Stag part (yuck!). Or maybe it was the lack of electricity. And, yes! Many people still do not have power!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sometimes

Sometimes, one can feel so sad upon hearing news about someone who one does not even know.

I had been keeping up on the Kim family (website being hit hard and not always available) after reading about their disappearance on the A Bird in the Hand blog. When the mother and children were found, there was so much hope that the father also survived. Alas, the father's body was recently found.

How horrible that a wrong turn can lead to such devestation!

This definitely makes me reconsider taking little roads that barely warrant a faint line on maps.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Channeling My Mother

Porkchop wanted me to title this post "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," but I think that's too obvious (sorry, P-chop!).

As Suzi and I were browsing greenery last night, I told her about how I keep seeing these tall, often wire, conical tree-shaped decorations everywhere and how I secretly want some (not so secretly now). Tree-shaped decorations, greenery, an urge to buy a poinsettia...I am channeling my mother.

My mom usually isn't one of those knick-knacky people with tons of useless crap cluttering every available space in the house. I grew up with minimalism, which I really appreciate. But come Christmas, my mom, in her advanced years, has taken to bringing out the crap. Okay, so maybe I was used to having 2-3 Christmas trees in our house growing up (one of which was a plastic cactus....don't ask), but she has taken recent holiday decorating to new heights.

When we go to their house in December now, there are at least 2 dozen Santa Clauses displayed on their stairs, the fireplace mantel, windowsills...anywhere you can put a Santa Claus, there is one.

It's crazy.

This year, in honor of the Western-themed Christmas tree (not to be confused with the vacation-souvenir-decorated aluminum tree), my mom brought out their John Wayne stand-up cut-out. Holding a rifle and wearing a bandanna, John Wayne protects the precious "turquoise"-garlanded tree under the eyes of the cowboy Santa Clauses perched in the windowsill. It is a sight to behold.

But back to our apartment.

In my opinion, the mantel in our living room is quite tastefully done with evergreen cuttings, pinecones, and a pretty little pre-made centerpiece with different types of cuttings and little blue berry things.

Our tree, on the other hand, looks like a bad acid trip (or what I imagine a bad acid trip would be). Don't get my wrong, I love it! It's delightfully gaudy with crazy shiny electric-colored decorations. It's a nice break from our usually sedate rainbow-lit tree with simple red, silver, and white ball ornaments. With our current tree, my eyes can't focus, it's a blur of glitter and bright Mardi Gras colors. I will post pictures later.

Also in a break with tradition, we decided to bring all of our snow globes out from storage and set them on top of the entertainment unit (which is also adorned with greenery). Porkchop and I used to enjoy buying and asking friends to buy snowglobes from different cities (the saddest: NYC with the World Trade Center), so we have quite a few. Additionally, my mom sends us a Sonic snow globe each year, which always registers high on the tacky meter.

So, all in all, our living room looks a bit tackalicious. And, it's great!

On Another Subject
Earlier, I was reading an article on the Post-Dispatch website. When asked about the current outages, one of the Ameren VPs said, "blah blah blah...Ice storms are crazy." What?! That sounds like something I would say! If my power has been out for 4 days (as it was this summer), I want to hear serious, official, jargon-loaded explanations, not "Ice storms are crazy." No shit!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Score!

It looks like we were going to have Ted Drewes frozen custard as a dessert at our staff retreat on Friday....because the faculty services office was just giving away a big cooler load of it.

I am now enjoying a heath bar concrete.

Yum!

The Long Weekend

Last week, my school had a staff retreat scheduled for all day on Friday. On Thursday, with inclement weather in sight, we received an email that effectively stated: "The retreat will take place even if the weather conditions suck. We don't care if you don't have power or need to take care of your kids who are at home because every single freakin' school canceled. It is obviously more important to talk about strategies and innovations. We will only cancel if the university cancels classes."

So, Friday morning, here I am at 7:45, leaving for the bus stop:

Off to work

Luckily, Porkchop called me before I reached the bus stop and told me that the trains weren't running! WTF?! Being the trooper that I am, I drove to the retreat, arriving 10 minutes early.

Of course, I was the only one there. The school librarian arrived shortly thereafter; after placing a couple of phone calls, she learned that our school had canceled all events for the day, including the staff retreat. Not only was that canceled, our office was closed! Yay! Here, let me clarify that the university did not cancel classes - our school made an autonomous decision to cancel events and non-essential offices. This, of course, caused confusion to me, the school librarian, and the other staff who were arriving as I was leaving.

Although a bit pissed off about driving out to the retreat for nothing, I was also happy. A snow day! How novel! It was my first since junior high school. Unfortunately, I wasted a good portion of it with a 2-hour nap.

Before falling into the sleep that would not end, I threw bird seed out onto our back deck. Before the finches and some other unidentified birds flew in, this big guy hung out for a while:

Bird!

Also, before Porkchop left for work (yes, she actually went in for her afternoon stint!), she took these pics.

Here's the tree in our front yard:

Gumballs

And here's our street, with Tower Grove park in the background:

Arsenal

The poor park! It has taken quite a beating this year!

Friday night, Porkchop, Suzi, two of her friends, and I dined at Schlafly's Bottleworks. Yum! Smoked gouda potato gratin! Sticky toffee pudding! Also, I *heart* their Coffee Stout! (Here, I would like to note that they use Kaldi's coffee that has been brewed using the cold toddy method. Just to further demonstrate my point that cold brewing is the way to go for cold or iced coffee.) I can't wait for February when they brew their Chocolate Porter.

Saturday
Busy!

After stopping by Suzi's house, she and I hit Knitorious. Yay! Yarn! I also picked up a pattern for a felted pot and a felted vase. Awesome.

Next, Suzi treated me and some other ladies to lunch at the Pitted Olive. So much yum! I had the hot chicken and goat cheese sandwich with a side of roasted potato salad. The Pitted Olive is my new favorite. It reminds of Relish in Madison. Except, while I always felt slightly ripped off by Relish's prices, I didn't at all at the Pitted Olive...probably because the sandwiches included a substantial side.

After lunch, we went for pedicures. Yes, I got a pedicure! My feet look nice, but I felt rather uncomfortable...my internal social critique engine wouldn't stop as the shop was staffed mostly by Vietnamese women (the manager was a man, as was one or two manicurists). I don't even know where to begin.

After getting our feet scrubbed, nails trimmed, and cuticles cut back (ow!), Suzi and I had a sock-knitting lesson from Suzi's neighbor, who is also a teacher at Knitorious. I guess I'm making a pair of socks. So far, I only have an inch of ribbing, but I think I'll continue. I can kind of see how sock knitting can be addictive.

Suzi's neighbor gave me one very invaluable tip about knitting on dpns. Although not always, I am sometimes left with loose ladders where the dpns cross over. The solution: keep the needles you're working with on top! Ah ha! My books never told me this! Previously, when knitting on dpns, I went at it with my working needle coming up from below.

I had to leave the lesson early because Porkchop's niece was coming over to spend the night at our apartment. So, my night was filled with cookie baking and knitting (I knitted while Porkchop and her niece played hockey in the basement and did other activities).

Here we are making chocolate crinkle cookies (my favorite!):

Cookies!

Sunday
Also busy with an excursion out to Midrivers Mall (I think that's the name) to watch the Blues practice. Porkchop was so happy. Later, I poked around the mall while Porkchop and her niece skated.

After the mall, we went to Hancock Fabrics and Jay International Foods. I stayed at home while Porkchop returned her niece to Illinois. So, I was finally able to finish the hardwarmers I started last weekend. Yay!

Speaking of knitting, I also finally finished my other bag - just have to felt it now and then it's ready for lining (of course, I still have to figure out the sewing part). I also finished the zigzag diagonal drop stitch scarf that I was working on. Here it is:

Zigzag scarf

Pretty!

Tonight
Porkchop, Suzi, and I are going shopping for live greenery. I can smell it now!

Have a great week!

P.S.
I can't say how relieved I was/am that our power stayed on the whole time during the ice storm. As for those half million people who lost power....how horrible! Why can't Ameren get their shit together?!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Crash

Don't you hate it when your file server has to be restarted, and everything you need to work on is conveniently located on said file server? Hmmmm....what to do during the restart time.

Today has been a good day, weather aside (which is a tad nasty). For lunch, I had $2 chicken matzah ball soup cooked up by the Jewish student group. This afternoon, I enjoyed a free cup of coffee (half-caf) by wearing a white ribbon (for adoption month) to our building's coffee shop.

I'm considering making this scarf for someone as a present. Unfortunately, the thought of knitting a scarf 48 stitches across on size 5 needles makes me want to cry. So....I'm thinking about using a bigger yarn, size 10 needles, and decreasing the pattern to 24 stitches across. Will this lead to disaster? I hope not. But if you think that's a stupid idea, do drop me a line.

Have a good night!

File server is back up (grumble!).

Smooth Operator

My train conductor this morning had such a nice voice, and he knew it. When most conductors approach the Forest Park stop, they say something like, "Transfer to Lambert Airport at Forest Park." Not this guy....he said something like, "Any passengers wishing to continue their travels to Laaaammmmbert Aiiirport should disembark the train at Forrrrest Paaark. Simply step onto the platform and catch the next westbound train to the Laaaammmmbert Aiiirport termmmmminal. Again, any passengers...."

And, he started this spiel before the Central West End station, so he had lots of time to repeat it.

It made me smile. Also, it reminded me of how Porkchop would probably announce things if she was a train conductor.

Last Night
We scheduled Knitting Night for Suzi's house. In our haste to squeeze in some grocery shopping beforehand, I forgot my knitting bag. Murrr!!! However, that meant I was able to enjoy watching Prairie Home Companion unencumbered.

Today
People are grating on my nerves with their panicking over the predicted snow and ice. Everyone in the office is wringing their hands and talking about how bad it's going to be tomorrow. Unless it starts blizzarding or we get like 4 inches of frozen rain, I don't believe it.

STOP FREAKING OUT, PEOPLE! And NO, the university WILL NOT be closed tomorrow.

We will survive.

Last night, Porchop and I reminisced about how awesome the snowplow teams were in Madison. Our landlord even owned his own snowplow, so our parking lot and driveway were always nice and clean before 7:30 a.m. when it snowed. Which it did, a lot. So don't talk to me about the measly 5-8 inches predicted tonight. Because I will SCOFF in your face and tell you stories about snow in Wisconsin and Iowa.

At least we don't live in Memphis. Or maybe that would be preferable, as the university actually would shut down. Right, V?

This Weekend
I think a trip to the yarn store is in order. This makes me feel tingly.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Making Cranes

Hello!

I just read this post on Yarnboy. How fun!

Who wants to knit cranes with me?

P.S. I went to bed at 8:30 last night, and I feel fabulous today!

P.P.S. For ken and ebuz: I don't think there are any Sonics in New England. Too bad for you! Cherry limeades (when made properly) are the best!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Exhuastion

The past week has been really draining. For lots of folks.

I'm currently sitting still...for the first time in a while.

Wednesday
I took a half day off of work and went to Suzi's house to help clean. We accomplished A LOT, and it felt really nice. I was glad that we could assist in making the house feel like a home again.

Thursday
Suzi and her mom invited us to take part in their Thanksgiving dinner. Since Suzi's brother works at an Italian restaurant and is marrying into an Italian family, he cooked us an Italian-style dinner. Everything was yummy....especially the bruschetta and the triple-chocolate cheesecake. Also, we finally met Suzi's uncles (on her mom's side), both of whom are very nice and gay (yay!).

After crashing at home in a carb- and sugar-induced nap, Porkchop and I tried to make some wintry decorations for the apartment. Everything came out horribly, and we decided we should stop. It was Craft Gone Bad. So bad.

Friday
The service for Suzi's dad was really touching; his pastor made it very personal and Suzi read a most moving eulogy that she wrote the week before. After the graveside peace, we helped transport plants, flowers, and food back to Suzi's and visited for a bit.

Unfortunately, we had to leave Suzi's early so that we could start our trip to my parents' house. Instead of taking 67 down through Poplar Bluff, we drove down I-55 for a change. Since I hadn't driven through Kennett in perhaps 5 years, I decided to take that route in order to pass by my old house.

Kennett was so freaking depressing. I can't believe I grew up there. Now, I can almost view it through a first-time vistor's eyes. It's an ugly sight. Blech.

The big news when we reached my parents' was that my sister and her boyfriend are now engaged. Even though I'm not a big proponent of marriage, good for them.

My sister told me about a plan that she and a lawyer friend have hatched. My sister said that she and her friend (female) want to get married in Massachusetts. Then, they'll return to Georgia and each marry a man. Next, they'll publicize said marriages and entice the state of Georgia to charge them with bigamy. If that happened, Georgia would then be recognizing the validity of same-sex marriage.

Sounds like a plan.

Also, we met my sister's boyfriend's mom, who was also staying at my parents' for Thanksgiving. She was super-nice, and I really enjoyed talking to her.

Saturday
The day started with a group yoga session at a studio in Jonesboro. Yes, Jonesboro has a yoga studio, and it's really nice! One of my dad's friends is a yoga instructor, and she offered to give us a private session since the studio was closed. So, my dad, sister, sister's fiance, fiance's mom, and I had a nice little session.

That afternoon, I started knitting more hand mitts from Weekend Knitting. I can't stop! They're such great stashbusters and make nice gifts.

To celebrate the engagement, we and some of my parents' friends went out to Jonesboro's nicest restaurant. Dinner exceeded my expectations...I actually enjoyed the food and the company. Of course, the wine and champagne helped some.

Sunday
We had to leave my parents' earlier than I wanted so that we could make it back to the St. Louis area for dinner at Porkchop's older brother's. Since Porkchop and I were driving through Corning, we dropped off some things at my parents' Sonic and picked up a free lunch (oh! The life of Sonic owners! Fried food! Slushies!).

Dinner was much better than lunch, however. Super delicious turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, and pie. Yum.

We made it back home around 10:30, and Keetah wouldn't stop meowing until nearly 1:00.

Today
So busy with the work! Busy! Tired!

Not enough knitting time!

Also, Porkchop's parents are spending the night here tonight because her dad has a doctor's appointment tomorrow. Porkchop's 1-month follow up is also tomorrow.

Tomorrow
Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Work, of course. Knitting, hopefully. And sleep....sleep would be nice.

Have a nice week!

A Note
In my last post, I grumbled about the switch to Blogger's Beta version. It's really not that bad. A copy of your old template is retained, but moving over certain items is tedious. If you've customized things like your side bar with extra bits of code and whatnot (knit-along buttons, for example) they're not automatically incorporated into the new template. You have to fool around with Blogger's new widgets and stuff.

It's not so bad, I just don't like fiddling around with things sometimes....especially when I already have things set like I want.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Change

Grumble, grumble. I switched to Blogger's beta version yesterday and was displeased to find that things like my stat counter code were not copied over automatically.

I guess I will gradually reassemble my sidebar. Or, just redo everything.

Book Bit
I quite enjoyed this brief review of various transgender memoir book covers. I often forget about the existence of Bookslut, so when I rediscover it, I'm always amused.

Sidenote...wow, do I ever hate Blogger's WYSIWYG composer. Back to HTML for me!

Knitting Bit
I am so bored with the scarf and bag that I'm knitting. Knit, knit, knit...snoozers!

After this mess, I'm totally going to try my needles at entrelac using this tutorial and this one.

Oh yeah, and at some point, I still have to do a stinkin' Shibori scarf. Porkchop found a nice substitution for glass marbles...river rocks! No two are alike!

All for now. Have a nice Tuesday afternoon!

Monday, November 20, 2006

My heart and thoughts go out to Suzi and her family.

I can't express how much I admire Suzi for her strength and perseverance. But even more than that, I can't express how much I wish there was no reason for me to write these words.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Some Might Call Me Creepy

So, I recently finished my first recreational reading book, Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, and left to my own devices as I received no recommendations from any readers, I decided to continue picking out my own books.

During lunch, I went to the very bottom level of the main library and had to move numerous bookshelves in order to get to my next selections: Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.

This way, I can read about the stages of human decay (it's been awhile since my forensic pathology class, so I can use a refresher (ha! refresher!)) and then consider the changes that meat goes through as it's cooking.

Next up on my list: Elizabeth Royte's Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash.

P.S. My trip to the library was made worthwhile when the checkout girl laughed at the Roach book and said it looked fun.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bus to Crazy Town

So, I thought this post might go a little something like this....

Hello, readers.

This evening, I putzed around enough in the office to miss the 5:08 train, meaning I had to wait for the 5:18 train. This should have put me at the Grand bus stop a little bit before the 5:30 bus arrived. However, the bus driver on the 5:30 bus apparently decided to not wait for us poor suckers.

I might have caught the bus if my run up the stairs hadn't been impeded by two guys drinking 40s. I lost valuable seconds pushing my way past them.

In any case, I wanted to be like the people who, stepping off the elevator to see the bus just gone, swore up a blue streak. Instead, I did it in my head.

So, I waited and waited for the next bus. Here is where my post takes an unexpected turn (as I had already composed a post about hating bus drivers who don't wait for train riders).

Boarding the bus took FOREVER. Luckily, there were a few seats left at the front of the bus. I hesitated to sit down because the two guys who I would be sandwiched between looked a bit sketchy. But when the bus driver yelled, PLEASE MOVE TO THE BACK OF THE BUS. I HAVE OTHER RIDERS BOARDING, PEOPLE, I decided to avoid the uncharted back of the bus territory because you can never really tell if there's an available seat.

So I sat down.

And, of course, one guy (who, in his defense, wasn't as sketchy looking as the other, this guy was almost grandfatherly) says, "My, you have really pretty eyes. Are you a student." No. "Oh....where do you work." I have a hard time being mean, so I say, in administration at Wash U. "Oh, you don't look old enough to be an administrator." I'm not a top-level administrator. "Oh."

Then the super-awkward part starts.

"That girl over there is selling candy for $1.00. You should buy something."

I hate buying candy from strangers, even if it's probably for a good cause. So I say, Oh, maybe, if I have a $1.00. The guy could sense my reluctance, so he said, "If you have 50 cents, I'll match it."

So I get out my wallet - I only had $5s. But luckily, the guy "owns a restaurant, so I have a lot of $1s."

The guy changes my money for me, and when the bus pauses, I get up to give the girl a $1 for some peanut M&Ms.

While completing the transaction, the bus lurched. Now, this might seem impossible to some, but I can actually mantain my balance on a lurching bus in my 3-inch heeled boots. At least, it seemed impossible to the 2 sketch-os because they both REACHED OUT AND GRABBED MY JACKET AND POSSIBLY MY ASS.

THANK YOU. That was A BIG HELP.

Also, GET YOUR DAMN DIRTY HANDS OFF OF MY NEW JACKET. NOW.

But what are you going to do. Both sketchies were like, wow, that was really close. The dirtier one saying, "See, I had you near your center of gravity. I'm not fresh or anything."

Grandfather guy deboarded shortly thereafter, but not before he asked my name (I gave my middle name as my last name because I'm not that stupid).

Meanwhile, dirty started talking to himself. Or maybe to me. Hard to tell. Something about going to pick up his clean clothes and identification.

Anyway, dirty somehow started talking to a woman across the aisle. He told her his plan....something about HUNTING PIRATE TREASURE.

The woman made fun of him for the rest of the time.

But here's the great conclusion....as I was leaving the bus, dirty said, THAT'S A GREAT SWEATER WITH YOUR THUMBS STICKING OUT.

He was talking about my Fetching mitts.

So, there you go folks, Fetching mitts have universal appeal. Fellow knitters, co-workers, crazies on the bus.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bus Buddies

I now have two bus/train commuter pals: one is a counselor at the campus counseling center and the other is a staff member in an academic program across campus.

With the first one, I talk about the Women's Center at Mizzou, house-hunting, and other such topics.

With the second, I talk about technical writing, our campus's growing relationship with Chinese universities, the church on our street, the St. Louis sewer system, and, of course, reliquaries.

This morning, my second buddy and I sat across from each other on the bus. I was talking about traveling to Jonesboro for Thanksgiving when another bus rider piped up and started on a rant about the water quality of Jonesboro and surrounding towns. According to this bus rider, the water in Marion once gave him the runs (his words). After departing the bus at the metrolink stop, my buddy and I started talking about the history of the St. Louis sewer system. This, naturally, took a turn towards discussing European reliquaries. Of course, the conversation then drifted over towards This American Life.

I like the random nature of such conversations, but I don't know if I could sustain it much longer than the duration of our commute. In fact, I plan on catching the later train this evening so that I don't have to come up with a brilliant chaser to this morning's conversation.

If I am to keep up on such discussions, I'm going to have start doing more random reading.

Tonight
Knitting Night has been called off so that Soozi can spend more time with her Da. To say the least, these are tough times. Please keep our little knitting pal Soozi and her family in your thoughts.

Next Week
Porkchop and I are going to Jonesboro to visit and cook for my family (mom, dad, brother, sister, sister's boyfriend, and sister's boyfriend's mom). Dinner should be delicious: roasted turkey with sage dressing, honey baked ham, buttermilk mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, maple glazed squash, my mom's favorite fruit salad, some sort of cranberry dish, and my mom's pumpkin and chocolate-meringue pies. The day after Thanksgiving, I think we're all going to the Bill Clinton Library in Little Rock.

Porkchop and I are a bit concerned about being around my sister's boyfriend. What are appropriate questions and conversations after someone has gone a little bit crazy but is now making their way back to normalcy (however one defines "normal")?

Anyway....have a wonderful Wednesday.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Are You a Feminist?

Hey, no need to hurt your pretty little head thinking about complex subjects, because now there's a quiz for you!

Are you a feminist?
Your Result: You are a full blooded feminist!

You believe in women's rights all the way and continue to be unhappy with the way things are right now and wish for more change. You are willing to take part in marches, boycotts and meetings that involve the amelioration of women's issues. You realize that society views feminists negatively but still are proud to call yourself one. You are appalled to see women who don't have a clue that "gender" is simply a term which the definition is 100% man made. If you feel a comment is sexist or makes you uncomfortable you speak up on it! You are always aiming to help others become aware of how much further women need to go and how society restricts them and predetermines their roles. You hate that feminists are so devided in themselves and believe that only if they are unified can they make a difference. We need more of you!

There is a strong feminist inside you! Let it out!
You are being held back by society's constrictions
Are you a misogynist!?
Are you a feminist?


I am disturbed by a few things here:
  • The heteronormativity implicit in the quiz, complete with the occasional lesbian-baiting.

  • The misspellings and typos. Are we to believe feminists don't know how to use spell check?

  • My test result spit this out: "You hate that feminists are so devided [sic] in themselves [sic] and believe that only if they are unified can they make a difference." Because unification is so easy! Gosh, y'all...colonization, imperialism, globalization...why can't we just be unified!

  • My test result also says: "There is a strong feminist inside you! Let it out!" Screw you, quiz writer. My feminist is out!


Grumble, grumble!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Going With It

I spent a lot of time today just going with it. Doing things that I woudn't normally do if I was by myself. Yep, I was totally removed from my Saturday routine, and glad to be so, as this was the first weekend that I spent with Porkchop in St. Louis.

Crazy, eh?

Stupid Six Flags.

When Porkchop and I woke up at 6:40, I didn't put up any protest when Porkchop suggested that we get up, grab breakfast on the road, and truck out to the antiques mall that I've been fantasizing about for so long.

But before broaching the subject of the antiques mall, the picture below shows you what I was greeted with in our backyard this morning. Yesterday, when Porkchop told me that all of the leaves from the backyard tree had fallen off, she wasn't kidding. Here it is....autumnal sadness:

Autumnal Sadness

So, anyway, we had a greasy breakfast on the way to the antiques mall. On previous trips to Chicago, I had spied the mall on the roadside, but I could never remember exactly where it was. We were just driving, hoping that it wasn't too far away. And it wasn't.

Here is why this particular antiques mall is so great:

Tall Man in Shorts

And this:

Pink Elephant

There are other elephants and giant men.

The contents of the antiques mall were just so-so. Nothing astounding. But I found a postcard that made it all worthwhile. It's a fancy postcard from 1908 with a raised bouquet of flowers and "Best Wishes" on it. The inscription is so great...it reads something like, "Received your letter Saturday. Hope all are well. We are usually well. This is really hard to write on. Will write a letter soon."

Love it! This is really hard to write on. Because it would be, what with the raised bouquet of flowers. Porkchop and I couldn't stop laughing in the mall.

We are easily amused.

I might give it to my dad to add to his amusing postcard collection. He has one from a daughter to a mother....a mere 3 lines, one of which reads, "I have not played the gramophone." My dad loves to speculate about what that line means exactly. Why hadn't she played the gramophone? And he now includes it in his cards to me. I received one just 3 days ago with the line "We have not played the gramophone."

After antiquing, we drove through Collinsville, home of this giant bottle of catsup:

Catsup!

Go here for the official catsup bottle website and fan club.

Design Feature or Design Flaw?
On the way to and back from the antiques mall, I was working on a scarf for Porkchop's younger brother's girlfriend. I had decided on a diagonal drop stitch scarf, and things were going quite well. After the mall, however, I distractedly starting increasing and decreasing in the opposite direction.

I showed my goof-up to Porkchop, who said to just go with it. So I'm now making a diagonal drop stitch zigzag scarf. I'm quite pleased with it...much more interesting this way. Here's a little snapshot of it....you can't really see the zigzagginess of it in this pic, but I will post another when completed:

Design Flaw or Feature?

Speaking of knitted items, we stopped by Knitorious last night, and no less than 3 people commented on my Fetching mitts (calling them by name!). I was a bit embarrassed because I didn't weave in one of the ends very well, so it was kind of hanging out of the fingerless part. I think the reaction to the Fetching mitts has been quite crazy. Yet understandable because the pattern is so great. Here are mine (loose end hidden from the camera):

Fetching Mitts

Also, here is my finished felted bag. The colors are darker in person, there's a bit of glare from the hazy sunlight:

Another Felted Bag

I'm working on another one...same yarn, same pattern (from Hello Yarn), but it also has pink stripes in it. Picture to be posted later.

New Clothes
Porkchop and I visited 2 TJ Maxx stores tonight. Yes, we are crazy, but I found some really great clothes. I can't tell you how happy I am about this....because my work wardrobe really needs a boost. My finds included new trousers (a great dark brown/light blue windowpane pattern), 2 brown knit shirts (one boatneck, one a zip cardigan), and a totally awesome black/gray zipped jacket. I LOVE this jacket!! The lines are so nice and clean with simple, well made detailing. And it was $100 less than original price. I tried on a matching skirt, but wasn't so excited about. But the jacket....I nearly got sick in the store just thinking about it. Because I wanted it so much, but I really hate spending money on clothing....especially if it's over $30.

Luckily, Porkchop convinced me that I should buy it.

I can't wait to wear it. It's sharp.

Tomorrow
We're going to Indian buffet with Soozi, checking out an anniversary sale at Knitorious, and going grocery shopping. Should be a good day.

I will not be getting up at 6:40.

Good night!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Escape

Looks like I've escaped being an election scapegoat.

Hurrah! Missouri is Talent-less!

Now if we could only turn back time and somehow prevent the births of Ashcroft and Limbaugh.

And Now, a Word on Knitting
Last night, I started a new bag to felt. Perhaps after payday I can purchase some lace-weight yarn for a Shibori scarf.

This message brought to you by Cascade 220 yarn.

My name is Carrie, and I approve this message.

Favorite thing about the elections...the ads will stop.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day Blues

Today reminds me of this installment of Making Fiends.

"Vote vote vote. Vote vote vote. Unless you are a doughnut, cause doughnuts don't vote."

Only, the lyrics should instead read, "...Unless you are Carrie, cause Carrie didn't make the voter registration deadline."

Seriously! I totally didn't realize that Missouri had a voter registration deadline until it was too late. You see, in Wisconsin, you could register at the polling place the day of the election. And when I moved to Iowa, I registered right after moving because I had time to do things like that.

So, if Jim Talent remains a senator, you can blame me! The minimum wage remains a meager $5 something an hour, blame me! Amendment 2 voted down, blame me!

I'm the premade scapegoat.

On a more somber note, I am very disappointed about this. This election has so much stuff in it, I really wanted to vote.

Murrrr.

P.S. I also really enjoyed today's Get Fuzzy. I love Satchel and his Green Party ways.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Hand Mitt Blowout

Hi y'all.

This weekend I finished my pair of Fetching hand mitts (see Knitty) and the pair of hand mitts in Weekend Knitting. [BTW, why do I call these hand mitts? I think maybe our friend CJ in Madison gave them that moniker?]

I should be happy, right?

Unfortunately, I am cursed with a touch of mediocrity and mistakes. Murrrr!

For the Fetching mitts, I had to dip into my second skein of cashmerino aran, meaning that I didn't make gauge. Maybe the hand mitts are a bit not-so-snug, or maybe it's mind games! Aaaaa! In one of my dreams last night, a horribly rude person (who bore a striking resemblance to an Iowa professor with the initials E.L.) kept on insulting my hand mitts as being too loose and a disgrace.

But, I think they will be okay. I wore them out today and they did not fall off of my hands.

I might try the pattern again in a different color and smaller needles (meaning 4s or 5s, ick!) because I am perhaps obsessive.

Last night, I decided to whip up a pair of the WK hand mitts for an individual who has frequently admired my pair (knitted by CJ, thanks! they still work!). I began maybe around 11:30 last night. [Because when Porkchop is gone and it's just me and Keetah in the apartment, I have to stay up as late as possible so that I can fall asleep right away. Otherwise, I freak myself out with imagining noises. Because we live in St. Louis, the most dangerous city in all of our great United States.]

Anyway, I nearly finished the first mitt last night, but I had to turn in around 1:30. I finished it this morning, and when I tried it out, I found it quite snug. Much snugger than the pair I made for K last year.

"Uh," I thought. Perhaps I had overcompensated on my apparent loose knitting in the Fetching mitts?

I started on the mitt's mate this afternoon, after sending off my deadline-extended grad school papers (yippee!). After knitting the first set of 10 rows and the first short row, I felt a sinking sensation in my stomach.

I suddenly realized why the first mitt was so snug.

In my sleepiness, I had skipped the second set of 10 rows + short row!! Damn! Why didn't I count the garter ridges like Melanie suggested??!!

Because I am cursed by mediocrity and mistakes. Gah!

I went ahead and finished the mitt in the manner set forth by the first mitt. If they don't fit the intended recipient, I will keep them. And enjoy their snugness.

I will post pictures of the Fetching mitts when Porkchop returns with the camera.

More Disturbing Dreams
In the same dream with the hand mitt insults, I also dreamt that there was a huge pig on our back deck. Huge as in the size of our deck...roughly 10x16. I think this image appeared because Porkchop called yesterday, asking for one of our porkchop recipes. She said that she and her mom were going to triple the recipe and make 15 porckhops (they ended up making 24! yikes!) for their family. I think, in my mixed up dream state, this translated into a really huge pig.

P.S. I might also be disturbed that, having transitioned out of vegetarianism after 9 years, I found that I really enjoy porkchops. And I call Amanda "Porkchop." Even though that started when I was a veggie-head, I still find it disturbing.

Non-Meat Things (sort of)
To complement the porkchops left over from Friday's dinner (yeah, it's just a regular porkchop parade around here!), I made the cranberry-almond pilaf that I've written about before.

I really love this pilaf. It's buttery bulgur goodness. So here's the recipe (thanks again, Martha!):

1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 T butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup medium-grain bulgur
14.5 ounces broth (veggie or chicken)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup dried cranberries.

Toast the almonds (in a skillet or the oven).

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown. Add bulgur and stir to coat.

Add broth, season. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, covering saucepan and simmering until liquid has evaporated and bulgur is tender (15-20 minutes, be sure to test the bulgur for tenderness!).

Remove from heat. Sprinkle bulgur with cranberries. Cover and let steam for 5 minutes. Before serving, add almonds and fluff with a fork.

More Knitting Things
I might start another felted bag this week because I have enough yarn left from my sister's bag (will also post a picture of that).

And I really want to start on the shibori scarf.

To address one question about the shibori tutorial, I had also wondered about glass marbles getting knocked around in the washing machine. The author of the tutorial doesn't caution against broken glass, but I thought about perhaps trying to find some little plastic spheres instead of glass marbles. Because that seems a bit dangerous.

In Conclusion
Have a good week!

Also, I am now free to start recreational reading. So, if you have suggestions, let me know. Because I am totally out of the lit loop.

P.S.
Nearly forgot this anecdote! At work on Friday, I was compiling a list of certain board members for a grant proposal. The list had to include the board members' titles at their respective companies. Well, one member is head of a certain stuffed-bear-building store chain headquartered here in St. Louis. This particular company likes to include the word bear in all titles.

So, for this very official grant proposal list, I had to include the phrase "Corporate Executive Bear."

This amused me endlessly, and I found myself snickering throughout the day.

It still makes me laugh.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Settled

I know that I will be happy in a city when I find a good Indian buffet.

Today, Soozi and I returned to Tandoori Hut to check out the buffet. Good stuff. Very good stuff, indeed. All the necessities, and you can choose from TWO kinds of rice pudding.

I can't wait to go back.

In Columbia, I frequented India Palace (or IP, as my friends and I called it). When it closed, I switched to Rasoi, which was also pretty good (but missing the IP ambience and friendly host). In Madison, there was Maharaja (on the West and the East side for your convenience). I have many fond memories of dining at Maharaja with all sorts of different friends and co-workers (including the Night of the Masala Dosa, remember that, K?).

In Iowa City, there were two Indian restuarants, but they both sucked. You might be asking, "But, Carrie, how can an Indian restaurant suck?" I don't know! All I know is that they sucked! So much! Porkchop and I tried the one voted "Best Ethnic Restaurant" (or something like that), and we were sorely displeased. The food was tasteless and overly greasy. Ick.

That really sums up Iowa City. Tasteless and greasy. Don't get me started on how the "Best Sushi" place burned my spider roll! And served their edamame cold (not just cold, nearly frozen)!

Anyway, if a city doesn't have a good Indian buffet, I'm out of there.

Totally.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Shibori Excitement

My student office helper walked in this morning wearing a scarf made by this artist. Before I knew that the scarf probably cost around $600, I couldn't stop touching it and examining how it was made.

Shibori! I had never heard of this technique. I must be behind the times because it seems lots of folks are talking about.

I can't wait to make a scarf using this tutorial. So exciting!!!

I wish I could leave right now and start!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Chug-A-Chug

Back on the coffee train.

Sort of, anyway.

Since last week, I've been having half-caf coffee. But, today, the student-run coffee kiosk in my building wasn't brewing decaf, so I had full caf (with plenty of soy creamer).

I've already crashed. And my urine reeks of coffee (too much information? too bad!).

Blech.

I need for it to be 4:30, but it's only 3:30. Stupid standard time.

On to more important things...

bell hooks
bell hooks spoke on campus today as part of the assembly speakers series. I went, even though most people in my office wouldn't think of taking an hour and a half out of the work day to hear an amazing feminist scholar. People here work so much, they forget to connect to the outside world....which always seems a bit strange to me. Of course, they probably don't blog while at work, either. Hmmmm.

Anyway, bell hooks was great, as expected. Here are some things that I enjoyed, and one thing that I didn't:
  • hooks's point that Women's Studies and Black Studies departments have drifted away from their radical roots. Point being that it's nearly impossible to remain radical and dissident when you rely upon funding from imperialist, patriarchalist, white supremacist sources (e.g., the academy). Not a new point by any means, but always good to hear. Unfortunately, I felt a bit shortchanged when, responding to a question on this point, hooks said that, in order to remain radical and dissident and stay in the academy, we have to work extra hard AND work within mainstream and radical channels. Yeah, that's probably realistic...but I don't like that answer.

  • hooks's point that phrases like "double" or "triple jeopardy" don't adequately describe the oppression and degradation that Black women experience everyday from all sides. Totally. You can't quantify experiences in phrases that suggest mathematic simplicity and certainty.

  • "Black capitalism does not mean Black self-determination." While money can certainly aid things, it does not necessarily equal freedom. We shouldn't confuse consumerism with self-determination.

  • Cultural minstrel shows. hooks brought up books like On the Down Low and some of Nelly's videos as examples of cultural images that use certain social constructs of Black men and women for capitalistic, self-serving purposes. Her point being that such displays do nothing to uplift the general masses of Black people (hooks also focused on DuBois's ideas of uplift during her lecture).

  • Decolonizing ourselves by being mindful of what we consume. One of my favorite parts of the lecture! hooks was talking about seeing some Black sitcoms while at a hotel and being appalled at the content of the shows. This can be applied to anyone...we are what we watch! Be aware of uncritical consumption!

  • Urban poor people don't have access to good grocery stores. I felt like standing up and cheering when hooks made this point...because y'all know I've complained about this so many times. This relates to hooks's current work connecting ecofeminism to consumption patterns in urban Blacks. Her major point is that the diseases that most urban poor people (hooks's mainly focused on Blacks, but I think this point can be extended to the urban poor in general) suffer from have roots in the food choices available in an urban setting. You know, when your grocery store is the corner 7-11, nothing good can come of that.


The End
That's the conclusion of my report.

Oh, also, hooks addressed how some scholars have downplayed or criticized her work on love as unscholarly. To those naysayers, hooks says that practicing love is the most radical and dissident action of all.

So there.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

St. Louis....Not so Dangerous

Hi everyone!

Porkchop is doing much better...she's up and about and recently galavanted across the river with her younger brother and other family members.

So I can write about other things.

I haven't cooked or knitted much, but I have heard about the recent study that named St. Louis the most dangerous city in all of the United States.

Fwah! is what I say to that!

The folks who did the study didn't take into account metropolitan areas. St. Louis proper (where Porkchop and I reside) is an urban core of roughly 330,000 people. Mainly poor people and fancy city loft dwellers, but I think the poor people outnumber the loft dwellers. You've got North St. Louis, an area left to rot. The scary Vandeventer corridor...not yet gentrified. And the Compton Heights and Tower Grove Heights (our neighborhood) areas. These are remarkable for pockets of splendor (fancy old mansions, many still resplendent and many recently restored) next to pockets of remarkable shabbiness. There are many other areas like this in the city...I could go on.

But my point is....the urban core of St. Louis had been neglected for DECADES as folks flocked out to the county. What do you expect happens when people are made to fester in run down homes, made to attend shoddy schools (whose superintendent actually makes the church rounds the week before school starts to assure parents that the school will be open and staffed with teachers!), and don't have businesses or industry nearby where jobs can be had without riding the bus for a couple of hours?

I'll tell you what happens....poverty, desperation, crime.

If these crime study people had taken into account St. Louis's fancy-schmancy suburbs of Ladue, Town & Country, Chesterfield, and so forth, we would have fallen down below the 100 mark. That's what city officials keep saying, anyway.

What makes me steamed, however, is that city officials keep downplaying the crime that does happen in St. Louis. And the crime I'm talking about is the abuse and negligence incurred by City residents. Let's talk about the need for better schools, work programs, and so forth. Instead of wringing our hands about the unfair methodology and pooh-poohing the report, why don't we address the real injustices?

Yeah, St. Louis has crime. Now what are we going to do about it?

Friday, October 27, 2006

YAY!

My creative juices aren't quite flowing right now, so that's the title of my post.

YAY! for Porkchop making it home today! YAY! for Porkchop drinking half of a strawberry smoothie and eating a few prunes. YAY! for Porkchop sleeping in a chair across from me.

Yesterday
Thursday was pretty rough, folks. Porkchop was feeling super-groggy and super-frustrated. The transplant surgeon was trying to kick her out, but y'all, she was still feeling rough, having a hard time getting around, and throwing up. Blech.

I definitely understood her frustration. I hate not having full control over my body, not being able to get comfortable in any position, and not being able to easily do things like scoot myself up in bed.

She took a Vicodin around 7:00 last night and totally conked out. She even turned off the World Series game! Yikes!

Today
Porkchop's mom and I arrived at the hospital at 8:00. Porkchop was already awake and had been walking around the floor.

She seemed tons better. No traces of grogginess or nausea. And, she was ready to come home.

The only sucky thing is the gas pains. She was pumped up with air during the surgery, and the air hasn't left her body yet! And, it moves around, settling into her shoulder and collarbone area, for example. Gas pains are the major discomfort, not the incision sites.

I read on the Kidney Foundation website that a heating pad really helps. But, if any of y'all have any other advice, please let us know!

My main mission now is to make sure that Porkchop drinks plenty of liquids and eats things high in fiber. This will not be easy, as she's not the biggest water-drinker, and her appetite is still non-existent.

Thanks
Thanks again for everyone's encouragement, visits, phone calls, and presents! Porkchop is so fortunate to have so much support!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Worst is Over

Hi y'all!

Kidney Day is officially OVER!!! Yay!

To read my update for Porkchop's kidney blog, go here. There is so much more to say than I could write tonight, but maybe one day we can fully express today's experiences.

Super-Friend Awards
These go to BD and Soozi.

To BD for coming over from Columbia and sticking out the whole day with me. For listening to me ramble and watching me knit a washcloth. For buying my lunch when I thought I left my wallet in my coat in a waiting room but actually had it in my back pocket. For making Porkchop some super-nifty kidney-illustrated scrubs. And for just being so wonderful overall.

To Soozi for going to dinner and visiting at the hospital even though it was her dad's birthday. For looking out for our monkey and demanding cepacol. For making a super-great care package. And for always being there and being terrific.

Finally
I finally left myself cry when I got home. I had been waiting to cry since 8:30 this morning. Feels good.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Disgust-o-Rama

So....I was just sitting here in my office, having a cup of 7/8 decaf - 1/8 caf coffee and eating an oatcake.

Out of the corner of my eye, I think I spy an oatcake crumb moving on the napkin. I look again...all crumbs appear stationary.

I think I spy movement again. No way, I think, I must seriously be losing it.

I look more closely.

It is moving!!!

The crumb is, in fact, some sort of little grub worm.

I spit out the rest of the oatcake out and dispose of the remaining one.

Don't Get Me Wrong
I'm not one to get grossed out by the thought of eating creepy-crawlies (unless you're talking about eating live cockroaches - 'cause that's nasty). When I was 12, my sister and I set traps to catch snails and other crawly things, inspired by recipes for crawly things in some cooking magazine that she had. [In case you're wondering, we didn't catch anything...to the delight of our mom, I'm sure.]

But, you see, I did not set out to eat worms today! That was not on the agenda!

Ah well, at least it provided a brief distraction from thinking about Kidney Day.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

My Weekend in Pictures

I don't have a picture for everything I did this weekend, but I have a few to share.

Friday Evening
Went yarn shopping with Soozi. Bought Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran to make the "Fetching" hand mitts recently featured in Knitty. I've written about these a couple of times before. So pretty.

After yarn shopping we ate at the Tandoori Hut. What a great name! It's an Indian restaurant in what used to be a Pizza Hut.

Upon arriving home, I realized that I don't have the correct dpns to make the hand mitts. I knew this, but I always convince myself that I have size 6 dpns. I don't (well, I didn't), much to my chagrin. So, Friday night, I worked on finishing my sister's bag. It's nearly ready to be felted. Here's the status:

Stripes!

Saturday
Saturday morning was busy with my usual routine: exercise, clean, do laundry, shower, eat lunch. I have fallen into such a rut.

After the usual activities, I went to the Harvest Festival across the street in Tower Grove park. Oh, there were so many yummy looking goodies! I settled on a package of mocha meringues...an excellent choice. I hope they have the festival again next year - I'll be prepared to eat lunch there instead of just snacking!

After the festival, I got my oil changed (oh, the excitement). Then, I went back to Knitorious to pick up a set of size 6 dpns. As the owner walked by me, she said, "You know, I think there's a limit of the number of times you can come here in a week." Once I thought about it, I realized that was my third time that week.

Oh well.

After working on my history paper, I got down to serious hand mitt knitting. I've nearly finished the first one; here it is:

Cables!

Today
I slept later than I meant to, but I think I needed the sleep. After lazily getting myself prepared for the day, I went to the office for a few hours because I have to make up the time I'm taking off for the kidney surgery.

A couple of weeks ago, one reader requested photos of Keetah. Before leaving for work, I snapped these of Keetah basking in the sun. Here's the first one:

Yes, I am always this beautiful.

And here I've captured what Keetah does immediately after being in the pose featured in the previous picture:

Life is So Difficult

If you make one comment about Keetah being a big cat, you are no longer my friend.

Right Now
I'm roasting some butternut squash and garlic for a pasta sauce. I'm going to serve it over cheese ravioli and sprinkled with toasted walnuts.

I'm really looking forward to dinner. I *heart* roasted squash.

Have a good week!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Broken Flowers Like Broken Promises

Wednesday night was knitting night. It was also edamame and corn chowder night (yum!) and the 6th game of the NLCS.

The chowder came off without a hitch and was enjoyed by all - the one good thing of the evening. A strong wind brewed up powerful gusts that knocked our precious pretty mums off the front steps and into the yard. Kind of like how, at Shea Stadium, the Mets knocked the Cardinals off their series lead.

A dark cloud of gloom settled over our apartment, and the air was pregnant with a sense of betrayal. Some were sad about the broken mums, some sad about the promises perceived to be broken by La Russa and his players. Some wanted to kick the wind in its head, some wanted to kick a few baseball players in the head.

Thursday morning, we all shed a tear for the mum blossoms strewn about the yard and felt distraught about the upcoming Game 7. And, when the airline called to tell Porkchop that her Friday morning flight to Houston had been canceled, we shook our fists (well, one individual beat the steering wheel of the other individual's car and cursed while the latter individual bit her tongue and stayed silent).

Some things work out

The Cardinals were able to win the NLCS. (YAY! Molina is the best!) Porkchop was given a later, yet still early, flight with a different airline, so she had some extra sleep and I didn't have to get up at 4:30 to drop her off at the metro station.

Some things don't work out

The mums are still broken. Murrrr!

Next Week
Crazy time is approaching! Kidney Day is this Wednesday!! Aaaaaaaaaa!!!

I am so nervous, and I'm not even the one going under the knife. Luckily, I will get to sit with Porkchop before cutting time. And, our friend B is driving over from Columbia to sit with me the rest of the time.

We have to arrive at the hospital at 6:00 am, and Porkchop's portion of the surgery starts around 9:00. Her part will require about 3 hours. I think her dad will take longer, but I'm not sure.

Do y'all know that they will leave her dad's non-functioning kidneys in him?! Isn't that weird?! I think it's kind of freaky to have two non-functioning organs just hanging out.

My family has been sending Porkchop some weird packages. My mom sent a robe, which is a very nice thought. Unfortunately, the robe selection must be quite limited in Jonesboro because Porkchop received a pink robe with an appliqued rabbit and an embroidered slogan that reads "Let's Focus on Me!" The good thing is that the robe is super-soft. Seriously, I've never felt a softer robe.

Yesterday, Porkchop received a FedEx package from my sister. It was full of crazy socks! At least 10 pairs! And a sudoku book and a funny card.

Anyway, they are nice thoughts.

So...
After this weekend, I might be posting even less. At least until I feel like Porkchop does not require all of my attention.

Please think good thoughts! Not just about the Cardinals beating Detroit and winning the World Series, but also about Porkchop and her dad!