Wednesday, January 31, 2007

In a holding pattern

It is hard to believe but I only have one project (shhh, it's a surprise) on the needles right now. It feels odd to be so monogamous with my knitting, it's really not my nature. Really there are a ton of things I want to get started. A better handband thingy for TGF, she really could have used one today when we at the park. Calorimetry seems just perfect and simple from reports on the web. Just need to dig around in the stash. Also she could use some fingerless glove-like items.

Way up on the top of the list of things I want to make is another surprise project - socks! Using sock yarn, you know the thin stuff. One issue is I'm already using fingering weight yarn on the first surprise project and I am yearning for something quick and easy. The project on the needles is fairly simple but progress can only go so fast with that weight. Many moons ago I found a pattern that I copied from an old, hang on...Vogue Winter 1997. Yes, you read that right, the pattern is even by Todd Oldham, remember him? It's a simple chunky garter stitch cropped turtle neck sweater. I think I have yarn that would work, but have I pull it from my closet to check? No. The other issue is I can't decide on a pattern. I want to do toe-up style, thinking about double points as I don't have two circulars that right size but dread the second sock syndrome.

I suppose if I would just get that damn ethics paper out of the way I would feel like there was breathing room, or permission or something and I could move forward. Yeah, that would certainly help. Anyone want to write it for me? Yeah, I didn't think so especially since it's about the formulation of my ethical stance. Okay, okay, I promise tomorrow a lot of reading that you won't have to read.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another one bites the dust - in a good way

I just mentioned feeling a bit spent and TGF replied said I had worked hard today. Yeah, for a few hours. Doing what you might ask. I finished my second paper for Relationship and Family Interventions. Hee-freaking-haw! Really. The professor even said he would try to read it in time for finishing my course evaluation. So cool! Yeah, I still owe the second paper for Ethics but damn, I did it.

This semester has been a real season of progress for me. Throughout the "more semesters than I want to acknowledge" experience of graduate school I have struggled mightily with a deep paralysis when it came to writing papers. Some of the papers were really not hard I thought as I sat at the computer when they were done, wondering what I was so scared of, what made up my fear. Granted I haven't loved every paper I produced but I wrote and wrote and wrote. Someone wondered why I would have a blog with all that is going on in my world, but I think it helped. While it is true that I have turned a few select blog entries into assignments (obviously the less academically rigorous ones), and even turned assignments into blog postings, I think the act of writing anything at all has helped. But perhaps more importantly to inducing the change has been some of what I have written about - my work struggles, procrastination, relationships, a place to vent my frustration at my school work performance- it freed something. As I wrote on my blog's first birthday this outlet has helped me focus all areas of creativity: writing, photography, and knitting, even cooking though not as frequently.

One more paper and maybe an assignment or two and I will take a few days off. Not the way that I have done for the past 29 months (yes that's 2 years and 5 month) where I do not do schoolwork but even if I kind of give me self some kind of permission not to (like out of town guests) do work, I am constantly thinking I be should working. After a full day having fun I sit in my living room at 10:20pm calculating how if I stay up for 3 more hours I could get X amount of work done. Yeah, that's healthy. No, if all goes well starting on TGF's birthday I am officially, and without punishing thoughts, giving myself at least 5 days where the goal is to not work on school AT ALL. It is not an option. Nope, not once. Yes, it will be hard because damn I am not sure I know how not to think I ought to be doing school work. Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tagged by Lousiana Swamp Rat!

I do not get tagged often to participate in the "memes" that prosper like tribbles in blogsphere. The fact that the misappropriation of the term meme rankles me probably forms a firewall as it were from people volunteering me to this sport too often.

Meme was a new word to me quite sometime ago and since reading Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihali (which I will have to reread since I never wrote the damned paper) I find it hard to have the word misrepresented because that's just how I roll. It's not that I am deeply attached to Mihaly's work, though check back with me in early March, my opinion may have changed. I cannot recall how I processed the role and definition of memes but I clearly remember that calling all these fun but often inane quiz like creations was heresy (favorite word thing). In doing a quick search I did come up with discussions here and here that do seem to lend some air of credibility to this blog culture phenomena though it still seems like watching F*x show rather than PBS to suggest that what happens in the blog world really has any relation to the essential place of memes as a cultural gene.

But you know it's good to come down from on high once and awhile, thus I present a list of five things you might not know about me.

1. In fifth grade I played a pilot in some sort of school play skit thing. Given my propensity to melt into a puddle of shy this was quite the feat. I have no recollection of how I managed to even think about it let alone get on the stage at P.S. 29's auditorium. I think I had one line.

2. The second and last time I submitted a poem for consideration for an anthology collection I received a hand written note on the form letter saying "thanks but no" from Leslea Newman saying she liked my work but it didn't quite fit the overall theme.

3. For a brief period of time I lived in a convent. Yes, a radical lesbian buddhist jew in a convent. It was, what you might describe as, decommissioned. The school and the church were still functional - Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church. The chapel inside the convent was the television room littered with a few leftover pews - the rest of the pews were in the basement. It was here that I first saw MTV where a corn-fed red haired young woman proclaimed her undying love for Michael Jackson. This is one of the tamer memories I have of this place.

4. Though I finished my coursework for my undergrad degree in just over four years it took, er, another 5 or so years before I filed for my degree because I was sure I didn't have everything I needed. With the helpful and incredible leg work of my sister who lived in NYC while I was in Massachusetts, courses were renumbered, credits distributed across the forms, papers were signed. On record I have a dual major in comparative religion and women studies, off the record I had a minor in psychology and almost enough credits for another minor in what was then called Black & Puerto Rican Studies. It is apparently now titled "Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies. Now that is a mouthful!
As usual my fear and procrastination were all for naught all was fine and I finally officially had a BA in a relatively useless assortment of topics.

5. Years ago a client told me I had a zen approach to food because I shared that every so often I try foods I do not like to see if my taste has changed. The fact that I didn't like squash five years ago does not mean I will not like it now. Because of this approach I no longer claim to hate olives, beets, squash, or sweet potatoes. None of these foods are great loves, though I do make a great spiced squash soup that TGF won't touch, but Jennie found tasty. The other day at my school conference I ate my first over easy egg, maybe ever. Just the idea of a runny yolk, {shivers}. It was okay, I needed protein, there was toast and such to help balance out the texture and taste. I survived but I don't think I will be ordering them any time soon however it makes huevos rancheros an option when getting breakfast out.

So there's five more things about me. If you enjoyed this post, or were utterly bored please blame my dear friend Swamp Girl. Actually this was a good exercise. Hm, I may have to rethink my position on this meme thing.

Oh yeah, I am supposed to tag some folks because that's how this things blooms, grows, takes a life of it own and all that.
1. Bitter Betty, love ya hon! You owe me drinks next time you're in town
Breena, I really have to catch up on your blog.
3. Jbeeky, because I am sure, as in totally positive, you have some good ones.
4. Rabbitch because ditto
5. Susie Bright because wouldn't that be a trip if she read my blog and did the meme!?!?! Can't you just see Susie and me being friendly like that? No? Shoot.

Friday, January 26, 2007

In which our heroine has misplaced her mojo

My ten loyal readers will have noticed that entries have been sparse for the last, hm, at least two weeks now. Perhaps it is merely that I have gotten out of the habit of writing, that process of calling up the bl*gger dashboard and just typing, because really that's how the bulk of my entries seem to be built.

I have ideas that swirl and than dissipate before I sit down. For weeks now there's a topic that's been brewing but apart from focus and time, I suspect there are others in blogsphere that would do it justice much better then I would. Yes, it is that lack of confidence you hear and I think it is hijacking my mojo. I was on a roll and then things happened, I lost track of the effort and the fire, and sense of ability faded. So here I sit sharing my lack of creativity with you, conjuring you to read this lackluster plea to the universe to help me find my way back to the blank slate that does not intimidate.

I do appreciate that TGF did not hassle me to update (see the comment from yesterday) but I also read that comment as her enjoyment in my writing, which I suspect is really because she believes blogging saves her from ranting that she otherwise would have to be the only audience to, blogging saves her ears for her IPod and other adventures.

A colleague in school reminded me of his mantra, "writing is a muscle", meaning of course that you must exercise it regularly or atrophies. My writing has often atrophied to nothingness, much like the current state of my gluteus maximus though in that particular case means it is large but unbelievably squishy. But I digress. Writing is something I have done for a very long time, the first real thing I remember writing was a poem that had oranges in the title in fifth grade. The loss of that piece of paper haunted me for for over a decade. Seriously. I started a journal at fourteen and wrote quite regularly in various little books for about a decade. After having a partner who would read my old journals while I was at school, leaving me to come home to rages about cavortings that happened before I ever met her seriously dampened my journaling. Oh I tried, I started various little books for a very long time afterwards.

Though all those years, starting in high school I continued writing poems, many quite bad now that age and attending perspective have set in, though I haven't written anything like poem since...{grin} Since TGF and I stayed at Woodfin in July 2004. Not that I have that time etched in my memory or anything. Okay, yes, I do. It was fantastic, magical, and confirmed our amazing sexual chemistry
love for each other. I wonder where those pieces of paper are. Now there are school papers and this for my writing. School papers, well I'd rather not discuss those as many still hang over my head. Talk about the intimidating blank slate! At least here the choices are cheerful commentary from my ten readers or silence, papers have the potential of harsh criticisms. So blogging will continue to happen as it is some of the most rewarding writing I have ever done. When I'm ready to wallow in the self absorption I will pull down that pretty box in the closet and cringe at the yellowed pages of my youth.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

In which our heroine returns

Last night I arrived home from an exciting and exhausting time at my residential conference for school. Most of the nights I stayed up far later than is reasonable, made some nice connections with colleagues, caught up with friends.

There were various times when something was said or a thought flitted through my head and I was sure it would be turned into a blog entry. Of course the reality is by the time I got to my room I was way past spent and about half the days I did not even pay for internet access because it would have been a waste of money. Did I jot a note about those wondrous and potentially profound threads that wove their way around my gray cells for to turn into a tantalizing post for you to ponder, to be amused by, or fodder for your dinner conversation? Absolutely not. Not one word was written and now it is gone, gone I tell you. Any insight that passed my veil of thought has moved onto the next open soul. I hope you never find their blog.

Random Tidbits (that which I can actually recall)

- Listening to the vaguely Jimmy Durante-style voice of Albert Ellis talking about Rational Emotive Therapy coaching a woman away from feeling like a "worm" and dispersing her sense of guilt. The voice is annoying and compelling, really.

- Watching a new student so drunk the first night that he bounced off some walls, literally and then disappeared down the rabbit hole. I mean we had no idea where he went to, he was there and then gone. He will forever be Harvey Wallbanger to me. Yes, I did learn his real name two nights later when he was not quite as drunk as the first night.

- Watching my buddy Steve dance with "Freak out Girl". She got that name via a friend of mine who stayed out way too late with her during the last conference, talking her down from too much alcohol and grief. It fits, trust me.

- Hearing another drunken colleague (only in the sense that we both go to the same school) refer to Transpersonal Psychology, as "Transportational". My naming friend dubbed her "Cuckoo" or more commonly "Kook". Again, it works. Really.

- Pondering a Mormon enrolling in this school. Talk about challenging yourself. Dang.

- The folly of bringing way more knitting than I could realistically expect to ever need in five days of academics and partying.

- Subtly telling Theopia that I want her to be my reader for my masters project.

- The best roommate on the planet, my friend Jennifer!

- A short but wonderful visit from TGF

- Finally convincing Debbie and Tracey to join the lobby party

- Scott's glow after going to his yoga dance rave thing

- Discovering that Haley's Structural Family work is probably not going to be a favorite modality of mine.

- Seeing Jheri after a really long absence. She has one of the most open and positive hearts of anyone I have ever met. We shared some of the best hugs ever.

There's more, somewhere in my brain, but I am still a bit fried. It's been really nice to have the last 24 hours at home, hanging with my girl, seeing my animals, sleeping in, taking a real nap. Somewhere in there I actually even wrote a couple of sentences on my paper. Tomorrow it's back to serious work on papers. And of course more regular blogging should follow as well, I will try make them more amusing or interesting than this one.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The boy and I are getting excited

Okay maybe not the Boy, aka Wyatt, aka Puppyman because I just told him mommy, aka TGF was coming home and he just looked at me with this blase look in his eye. Sure this time he doesn't understand English! Probably better for me because if he did, he would surely be pacing and whining until he saw her.

I just checked the flight status and looks like she should be getting on time, in fact a few minutes earlier than scheduled. Really I'm pretty good being here alone, but now that it is mere hours until her arrival home I am getting all jittery - in a good way. It will be so nice to cuddle next to someone other than the dog and cats at night though I hope it warms up soon. Of course the downside to this is I leave to Millbrae for my school conference tomorrow night until Wednesday. I will bat my eyes from afar to try to convince her to visit at least once. Don't laugh! It works. She always visits me. Okay partially it's because there is often a crew of my colleagues that hound me asking when she will visit so she is appeasing me as well as the hordes of admirers.

True to my pattern I have not completed all the work I had hoped to this semester however I keep telling myself I have done more this semester than probably all the other semesters combined which is a huge improvement. I mean, sheesh, I actually wrote papers this semester. I completed missing work for two old classes, am only two papers behind for live classes of this semester versus my usual four or more.

As I ready to head to my conference I am planning knitting to take with me but right now I only have the next mystery project on the needles and just barely at that! I have casted on twice now, and last night I ripped back to the cast on. However I got through 8 rows before my eyeballs completely fell out. I caught a glimpse of Jennie's Cozy project and am tempted but I don't have the yarn for that project. I may bring the requirements for another pair of Fetchings, maybe for me (!) if the hotel is chilly. Or bring the wool-ease I have for a largish scarf, so simple pattern, or the yarn to make Le Slouch which appeals to me. If can ever decide what pattern to do I may also bring the yarn I have (Regia Surf in Purple) to start for someone who also can't be named. So much to do before I leave, including a "trio" appointment at Benefits in 30 minutes, picking up TGF at about 12:30, 2:00 dog park meet up, a haircut at 3:30, a board meeting at 6:00pm. Again, I ask you how and when did my days get so packed?

The last few days

Have been very busy somehow. Usually when left to my own devices I tend to stay home a lot and play up my hermit tendencies but somehow that hasn't happened during TGF's absence. TGF left very early Wednesday morning, after which I spent way too many hours untangling yarn until Friday night as recounted in the last entry. But aside from that what I have been doing? Darn good question. At this point I cannot remember much about Wednesday other than fighting with fiber, staying up way too late, and taking Wyatt to the dog park. Oh, yes at the dog park we met up with another pal of Wyatt's, Rue - a perfectly adorable vizsla and had a great chat with her owner, Kurt. In fact Wyatt met up with a number of his favorite females - Cece, Remy (I think that's her name), and Cassie as well.

Thursday I once again had to get up at an ungodly hour, well for me anyway, since I had to be in 45 miles east of home at 8:30 a.m. for a meeting involving my client. Of course there was a trip to the dog park. Later, group supervision up in Richmond. Needless to say I was a bit done in by that point so no hopping over to the bar.

In a quest to stop using vaguely illicit means to garner asthma meds, and to put Sunny's mind at ease (you try having a mother who is a bit of a hypochondriac and see how well she handles the information that you have no provider, haven't had a physical in a couple of years, and using less than legal practices to get medications) I had an appointment to do an intake for sliding scale medical care. From there I had to pick up my laptop baby, Lotus. I'm sure there was more, oh yes, the dog park (see a theme here?). Followed by more meditations with yarn.

Saturday I had an unexpected visit with someone from my GLBT knit list. For some reason I thought Sally's visit was next month but lo and behold it was this past weekend. She was visiting from Virginia with her good friend and housemate Amanda. We met up at Lacis which is an incredible place. I went there once soon after moving here and was overwhelmed with the books, needles, buttons, beads, displays, just everything. Unfortunately their website conveys NOTHING of the magic of this place. If you have have the vaguest interest in after fiber crafts (especially tatting), costume design, or a million other things visit this place. Really. Of course I wandered off to the knitting books and there were an armful of books I could have walked off had I the cash and bookshelf space. Of course I had to purchase something. Right? It is the cutest book, Monkeysuits: Sweaters & More to Knit for Kids. Really cute, clever patterns with great names like "Shrinking Violet", "Stripe it Rich", and "Tweedy Pie". A number of these are likely to find there way to T'Mane's closet.

From there we caught a bit to eat and had the most wonderful chat over yummy food. Sally was lovely and gracious, Amanda just so sweet! In addition to wonderful company Sally gifted me with some yarn - so unexpected. Almost right after I got home, or so it seemed, it was time to meet Ruth at the dog park where we had a lovely sunset walk. Nestled back at home I thought I had a quiet, silent night at home when there was a knock at the door and surprise it was Jennie with Graham on their way to Target. So I had a chance to offer her one of the hanks of yarn I received from Sally and a lovely spontaneous visit and shopping trip.

Sunday was a big day for Jennie's family as it was Graham's baptism day. So off to Alameda I cruised for the church service and then a number of us went out to eat some brunch. The baptism service was really lovely though I found the sermon itself a little off, somehow missing the peaks that could have been there. Lunch was great fun as I spent a lot of time chatting with new acquaintances Susan and Linda. However the high point may have been watching Kyle (Jennie's sweetie) teach Katie, who is 7 years old, and the rest of us the finer points of blowing the paper off of straws. Can you guess what I did next? Oh come on, of course you can! Yes, I went to the dog park with Ruth and Piccolo.

Monday morning I had a prenatal visit (no, not for me!) with my clients over in Montclair Village, in which resides a yarn shop (isn't the lamest website, I really don't see the point) so yes a visit ensued. Somehow three small balls of wool found their way into my arms - two in a deep purple and one in an off white, perhaps to be used together. They were, of course, on sale. Since all I had consumed up to this point was some coffee and it was now 1pm, needless to say some sustenance had to be put into this body immediately if not sooner. After which, yes, another trip to the dog park but today, just to break things up we went to Albany even though usually we reserve that place the weekend but the reality is I was cranky, tired and in no mood to go any further than absolutely necessary. Wyatt had a good romp, especially early on but found no one to play with despite various attempts on his part or other dogs approaching him. Nothing clicked for him, poor baby.

I thought I might nap but instead headed to the laptop to surf and write. The phone rang a little later with a call from a friend from out of town asking to get together. Sure I had intended to finish my paper but it is rare that I get to see her as she lives on the other coast. What a treat! Actually when I said to here that it was a treat to see her, she informed that me that I was quite gracious since she invited herself over up through spending the night. We stayed up quite late talking and she slipped out terribly early this morning without waking me at all.

So if you've been wondering where I've been and why there have been almost no posts here's part of the answer. I hope to do better but I cannot make any promises since TGF gets home tomorrow (YEAH!) but Thursday I go to my residential conference for school for several days. See y'all later.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Being One With The Yarn

I tried, I really tried to be one with the yarn, you have no idea how I struggled. Maybe I should start at the beginning. It's another mystery project as the giftee may or may not read the blog.

Many moons ago I decided I wanted to make something for a friend because this person has such a big heart and has been very generous to our family. Instantly I knew the type of item I wanted to make and the arduous search began all over the internet to find the perfect representation for said item. Finally after hours, and yes I mean HOURS over a period of weeks of searching, debating, saving and deleting links to possibilities the perfect item appeared. The yarn that the pattern called for beautiful, there is no doubt and since then I have heard praise from on high for this material. However aside from a hefty price tag none of the colourways were anything like what I visioned. Nothing was appropriate. So another expedition was launched that took our Bodhisattva of Yarn on a wide ranging journey back and forth across the nation via the internet, as well as overseas through the same vehicle, with stops in actual yarn stores on both the west and east coasts.

After much debate a yarn decision was made, but funds were tight so waiting ensued. Still our fearless Bodhisattva flipped back and forth comparing the chosen yarn to make sure there truly was nothing better. The day arrived when budget be damned the fiber had to purchased. A few days later gratification was meant via a small priority mail box waiting on the porch. With much anticipation and excitement the box was carefully carved open along it's seams. A crestfallen expression came over my face as I lifted up beautiful yarn that bore little resemblance to the image on the computer screen. Really the yarn was beautiful, stunning even with a lovely feel but it was the wrong colour, absolutely wrong. Reaching in the depths of that which is THE dharma, (versus the Dharma that is I) I thought about using it because maybe the universe knew something I did not.

Lo, the universe intervened yet again shortly after the arrival of the yarn via the glbt knit list I am on (did I mention I spend way too many hours on my laptop, otherwise know as the Lotus?) where someone mentioned a little fiber business that calls itself Fearless Fibers. There it was, the colour I had envisioned for all these months. Deb, the owner, is delightful to work with and very responsive. But there was the matter of that other yarn, which sat in it's box, alone and bereft. I thought about keeping it, but really I could not think of who the colours would be good for, or what to do with it as I had attached such purpose to the yarn I had trouble reinventing it's image. With a bit of remorse I contacted Simply Socks Yarn and explained the situation. They were lovely about the dilemma and I would not hesitate to purchase from them again - the yarn interestingly enough was, a merino yarn, by yes that's right, Fleece Artist which is also HandMaiden. Confused? Me too, but it does seem that they are both really the same company.

Again the wait for the yarn was begun but this time, oh my, this yarn is everything I had imagined all those months ago. This is Fearless Fibers superwash merino wool sock yarn - why the superwash? Because she had the colourway I wanted in stock and it's the weight I wanted. Superwash I figure is a bonus. Thanks to Grumperina I make sure to smell my yarn frequently and I have to say this stuff, wow, what a lovely scent. I am sure it will fade but in the meanwhile every once and again I take a nice inhale of the wool.

I received two large hanks of yarn, each about 500 yards of lovely fiber waiting to be balled. As luck would have it TGF gifted me with a ball winder for the holidays. Having used Jennie's a couple of times I was looking forward to winding my yarn and casting as fast as possible. However first I had to finish the scarf for TGF's mom, and she was leaving at the "butt crack of dawn" on Wednesday so in true "working on not procrastinating too much" fashion I casted off Tuesday morning and blocked. Tuesday was a crazy day in that I was blocking, TGF was packing, the day before the Purple Beast (my car) started choking which terrified me for many reasons key among them our other car is a stick which I don't really know how to drive and the Lotus caught spider mites or something and had to go in for treatment (part of why I haven't written much lately). As any other appropriately stressed adult woman would do I called my mother to whine. It actually helped which was good, because as my anxiety level decreased as TGF's rose.

Later that day I decided to reward myself by winding the yarn with the goal of casting on that evening. Ha! It was going along rather well for a bit and then (cue the doom music) I thought, if I turn the hank this way it will unravel with greater ease. Greater ease my fat arse! In mere seconds I had a disaster of epic proportions. How larger you ask? I'll tell you, it took me until Thursday night to finish winding that first hank. Hours upon hours of untangling, taking the core off the winder to weave through the knots from both sides, essentially using everything I could think of to do. I was carefully proceeding, loathe to make a cut when in mere seconds, Marcel who had barely appeared by my side, bit through the yarn.

Given the amount of time to that a minor adjustment in handling the yarn made I took a deep breath and started the second hank, chanting a mantra of patience, of following the direction the yarn chose, and not intervening in the great plan. Even with my chanting the yarn did mysterious twist of it's own volition and voila! again a tangled mess lay in my hands. For a number of hours between then and late last night (or was it early this morning?) I sat with the yarn, asked it for direction, followed it twists, unraveled knots, and tried very hard not to curse. About three quarters of the hank were finally balled during which time I shoo'ed away Marcel, Atticus, Saana, and Joia from the tempting wavering, dangling threads, yet despite my attempts, pleas, and offerings to the gods, Marcel once again bit through the yarn. It is quite apparent the universe believes these hanks should not be one ball a piece.

Right before bed I casted on 97 stitches and did the first two rows, already being a stitch short on row 2. I am a humbled grasshopper.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunset walks & Contemplation

As I mentioned in a recent post we walk at dusk one day on the weekend because the light shifts are just too mesmerizing. Yesterday was one of those days.

Here's is but one tiny example of why I am addicted to this time of day.

After the walk yesterday we went to dinner with Ruth. We tried to go to this place, but it was closed much to my chagrin. Another attempt to eat here will be made, I assure you, I mean Laotian and Southern? Wow. Odd as it sounds, aren't you just a bit curious about a dessert titled "white potato pie"? Even just a little? We wound up eating at Boran, which is reasonably priced, and the food was decent. Not orgasmic but tasty, particularly the pad thai - my standard on which to judge all such restaurants. Actually the pad thai was rather addicting in flavor. A little sweeter and a different tangy than others I've had.

The rest of our evening was taken up by going to see "The Pursuit of Happyness", which I thought was a misspelling at the ticket booth's signage but actually inside the theater saw that misspelling was intentional. TGF said she was sure academy nominations would follow because it had three things that Hollyw**d loves: true story base, a happy ending, and a cute kid. No doubt that kid is beautiful but unlike many movies that have a really cute kid Jaden does not steal any moments but is a nice compliment to Will. Will Smith does an incredible job in several places in this movie, especially at the end where all his acting is in his facial expressions - breathtaking.

I had gathered a very rough idea of the premise before seeing it as it's not too hard to guess from the advertising on television but I was not prepared for the grittiness of it. Smith's character, Chris Gardner, is beyond down and out at several points in this film, the ache of desperation and hopelessness was incredibly palpable, for me anyway. At the same moment I was feeling the pain of his situation, another part of my head was churning away - did he really not know anyone who could help out, nowhere at all to turn? No friends or family, save his son, were portrayed in the movie. For me, maybe because of my starving student persona of the moment I kept putting myself in his shoes just a bit, breathing a little harder thinking what could happen that would put me where Chris was, how long would it take to sink that far. Unlike the story I have friends and family who would do their damndest to prevent me from falling that far. Would I ask though, if it meant a choice between a shelter and asking for help, could I let people know I was down that far? I would like to think so, but even more before that I would hope I would figure something out before having to ask.

The character and I intersect in that he infrequently asks, and when he does so, it's forced, awkward and lacking any context. I think I try to put in the context when I have been in the position to ask, but more often I probably try to bury my shame in having to ask in convoluted statements about how I cannot believe I got myself in this mess, that this is not who I really am, I am not this aberration of myself.

We are always ourselves, even in our most imperfect and unrecognizable. It is possible that in those vastly horrid times, when we do not see the person we know we really are, that we are made stronger, an improved version of the self we long to embrace without interruption. Without the interruption however, how would we know our true resilience. If we are never tested how could we trust ourselves enough to know that we can get through those times when we slog through, with no end in sight, the misery we are steeped in. How else do we have the faith to know there is the other side if we have never proven it to ourselves during a test of our fortitude where we do not recognize ourselves.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Fiber Productivity

(this will be a photo heavy post, beware!)

Unfortunately I did not remember to take photos of the totally adorable hats I made for Rebecca's more than adorable sons (the second born November 25!) before bringing them to the board meeting about two weeks ago. Both
were made from Patons Merino Wool in the Harvest colourway. The first was this one, the other came from the 2006 Knitting Pattern a Day calendar. The cable and seed stitch hat was my first attempt at cables which turn out to be fairly easy. Knitted on size 3 dpns, it formed beautiful colour blocks. The second pattern, if you have the calendar is the Beehive Hat, August 28th but I have not been able to locate a photo, I just did! Here it is. Done on size 9 needles there was just a swirl of colour, no blocks at all. Fascinating! I have asked for photos of the boys in the hats but suspect it will be a long time in coming.

Using Lion's Brand Wool, in Midnight Blue I started a hat for my father using one pattern (at this point I don't remember which one!) but adapted to this one. TGF thinks this is a perfect colour for my father and I agree! It will be going in the mail shortly, with the Liesel scarf for his sweetie. This was a very quick project. I believe I used size 8 needles.

Intrigued by people's addiction to Rowan Crack Silk Haze but unwilling to pay the price I found Trendsetter has an version with the identical content and I found a good colour on sale for less than $10! I purchased one ball of Blush, with the intention of making a scarf Jennie had successfully produced from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. True to the book's claim, this is a very quick and easy project resulting in a delightful and delicate neck decoration. I have more than enough yarn left over to make another or a different project if can think of something for it. Again, this one is ready to be packaged up and sent to my sister.

Finally, and after two horrible incidents of tangling (as in HOURS of unknotting), the mystery item is finished. It too needs to be sent to it's recipient. Unfortunately I have about a ball and a half of this stuff and no desire to use it. Ever. Again. But it does make for interesting photo ops.

Once again you will notice our star model has been brought out of semi-retirement. It is he wearing the beanie hat in the above photo as well.

Next up is a quick project that I made a
s a gift for my friend who lives in an uninsulated Victorian and spends hours on her laptop playing Zuma (hi sweetie!). is right about this being a satisfying project. Any guesses? Fetching of course! True to the advertising I casted on late one Friday night, did a ton of other things like sleep, eat, walk my dog, even knit on other projects and they were done by late Sunday night, just before midnight thus counting as yet another finished object for 2006.

I was able to convince TGF to model said fingerless beauties, appropriately enough with her hands braced against a laptop! The yarn used is Cascade 220 in colour 9474. Based on the pattern notes I am confident I have enough yarn for another pair, or some other small project.

After struggling mightily to understand a pattern from I consulted with the GLBT-Knit list and had a major "Duh!" moment, then quickly whipped out a hat for the MIL. The pattern is from Creative Knitting and is shown in horrid colours, as in nausea producing. Here, I'll show you. Fair warning, a bucket near by may be a good thing.

The hat is done and the scarf is in progress. Much more subtle colours. Again the y
arn is Cascade 220 in Charcoal Gray (#8400) and Cascade Heathers in Mallard (#2448). Some time ago I was sure I would never understand how to read pattern charts. Then I made Liesel which was charted and found a new skill. The scarf pattern is written out and drove me nuts, so I constructed my own chart using an assortment of symbols. So much easier and made it possible for me to memorize the chart, only glancing at the chart for reminders.

Way back in April, after I finished Tigger from, I cast on the next project for T'Mane (The Most Adorable Niece Ever). The spring/summer 2006 issue of Knit It! had the cute outfit but in horrible colours (seeing a theme here?). White with bright bubble gum pink trim. A white outfit for a toddler? I think not. While the first pieces of the kimono styled top went quickly it stalled because it was rather dull knitting. I chose a yarn with the same gauge, Sirdar Snuggley DK in khaki (#378) as the base colour and lavender trim. I am very pleased overall with the finished pro
duct but I cannot say that I have been thrilled with the performance of the yarn. Realistically I know I am not the world's most consistent knitter in term of tension but I am better than this yarn shows.

In order to seam the pants, no it was not an "in the round" pattern (if I am ever crazed enough to knit pants it will be a different construction), I learned mattress seaming. Unfortunately I should have done the front of the crotch first rather than the rear.
Oh well. Live and learn, right? I do not think others will judge it as harshly as I do.

Today I created a new photo folder to keep track of my finished objects for 2006 and was please to see it shows some reasonable production on my part. I have a rough count of 27 items, most small stuff but I tried to work with different patterns, yarns, etc. Not too shabby. First sock like items, first mitten/glove things, learned to do cables and mattress seaming.

12 hats 6 scarves.
1 cat bed 1 pair of anklet socks
2 toddler sweaters 1 pair of toddler pants
1 pair of mittens 1 pair of fingerless gloves
1 small shawl 1 blanket square

Whew. This post took quite some time to put together. Off to go do some rows on that blue and gray scarf. TGF flies to Ohio at the "butt crack of dawn" (Hi Andrea!) Wednesday and it has to be done by then.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Haunted by amorphous anxiety

It could be the change of the calendar, another year gone and all that.
It could be aggregating of months without happy pills.
It could be that the end of the semester is close at hand.
It could be impending breaking point with my client.

On and off for several days my stomach has been in knots, I feel like my breath is constrained and I am paralyzed, unable to do school work that is looming like a stream train while I lie on the tracks.

Dramatic? Moi? Okay maybe once in awhile.

I keep trying to focus on the positives.
- The gifts are ready to go, not in the mail yet however they are not expected so it's really fine.
- The newsletter for BirthWays is the closet to on time for the first time in several issues.
- My progress notes for work - all caught up.
- School is actually really good, for me. Today in fact I sent in the last paper for an old class. Once that's reviewed and my work evaluated I will have completed another course! Which will make two courses finished, and just some more work (some work? Jeez, a lot of work) and another three will be done. If I can crank out one other paper than that would be six course down this semester.
- I had a really productive few weeks of knitting and only have a scarf to finish before TGF goes home next Wednesday morning. Of course I am itching to get other things on the needles but I can't yet.

Through all of that the sense of impending doom sits on my chest, twists my guts, and generally makes me miserable to live with, so send some love to TGF because she does live with me and you dear readers only have to read about it.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The last walk of the year

A few weeks ago, because of a timing snafu that involved some ridiculous errand or something, we met Ruth very late for our almost daily dog walking date. As a result we discovered that walking by the bay near dusk is incredibly beautiful - sometimes soft like an impressionist painting, sometimes almost haunting with gray tones draping over San Francisco's skyline.

The other day I received an invite to join some friends for a matinée kung fu movie on Sunday, the offer suggesting that things would end early enough so people could still do their New Year's Eve partying. As if, we had no plans at all for the evening. I responded that we would be taking our last sunset dog walk of the year, implying that this plan could be seen as a bit sad. Sad as in we are such boring folks we would be walking with our dog rather than a spur of the moment movie. My friend replied that is wasn't sad at all, and she was right. It is a lovely thing these late afternoon walks.

Yesterday was rather gray all day while Saturday had been beautiful and I was feeling that perhaps we chose the wrong day to do our sunset walk. By the time 4:00 p.m. rolled around, the sky had brightened just before calling it a day. The colours were muted with the last shafts of mid-winter light slicing through and hitting buildings, random locations on the water creating jewel-like sparkles. We strolled, talking about random topics when Ruth said she wasn't going to be sorry to see 2006 end. I am not good at summing up the calendar year but there were things to be happy about, beginnings, endings, and cycles of the year that are comfortable in their consistency, seasons shift, holidays and birthdays appear. Softly but with strength TGF stated that 2006 was first full year {as in calendar} we had been together, just us, as a couple. A very brief pause settled over us, I could find no words to express the love I felt in that sentence. Ruth quietly said that that certainly marked 2006 very differently and was a good thing about the year.

I have to agree.