Tuesday, November 29, 2005

om shanti

Wow... I hope this doesn't come out sounding corny. It wasn't corny.

I had what I guess was a religious experience at yoga class tonight. (Get your scoffs out now, folks - I'm about to get deep on you now). It happens sometimes during deep relaxation at the end of class, when I'm in that semi-conscious state that is definitely not sleep, feeling wonderfully relaxed. It hasn't happened in a long time, but occasionally during deep relaxation I will get some kind of Overwhelming Sensation. Sometimes it's just pulsating energy, or pure joy, and once it was the very real smell and color of tall grass, cool against my face. It's a neat thing - you leave class all blissed out and goofy afterwards.

So tonight, I had a relatively lackluster yoga class, partly because there was a new teacher who had never actually taught a public class before, and you know, it could have been better. But she was quite nice. Anyhow, towards the end of class we did a sitting twist where you look over your shoulder at the wall behind you, and at this particular yoga studio there are a lot of excellent psychedelic pictures of saints on the walls to look at. I looked at Buddha, who was meditating and radiating colorfully from the picture. I like Buddha a lot. I was thinking about how Buddha is the embodiment of compassion, and of love. Not love in the romantic or the filial sense, though those are included, but LOVE, the force that guides us towards goodness and compassion. I don't exactly believe in "God," per se, but this pretty much sums up my particular cosmology - love.

So then we flopped on the floor for deep meditation. We got the eye pillows. Megan put on the music with the lovely voice singing breathy, melodic Om's over and over. That picture of the Buddha stuck in my mind. "God is love!" I was thinking happily, as if it was some kind of revelation. The image of Buddha from the wall was still bright in my mind's eye. Then the Buddha picture in my mind suddenly started radiating bright red, warm glowing LOVE from the middle of the chest, I mean really really sending out bright red love rays, 100 times more vibrant than the psychedelic picture on the wall. My whole body was vibrating. My teeth were buzzing with the om sounds. (Try it, if you've never done this before: say "om," drawing out the M. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Isn't it cool how your teeth vibrate?).

Tears were streaming down my face and I was smiling like a lunatic. I really hope I didn't scare Megan, the nice new yoga teacher. I was having a religious experience in the middle of her very first class, my body humming along with the Universal Love Vibration. It felt great! I wish I had a picture of it... but it's not like a crying Mary statue or something. It's all inside the mind's eye. Yet so real!

I wish I could have remained in that place a lot longer, vibrating and contemplating love like that. But my analytical brain quickly takes over and the tears dry up (though the smile remains, hours later). I started thinking about how would I explain this to someone else, like HWWLLB's father, who is super-duper-analytical and always wanting to talk religion with anyone who will bite? And how would I draw the Buddha picture? And could I knit a sweater that showed the Universal Love Vibration radiating out of the wearer's chest? And how weird would that be? (Answer: It would be pretty weird). So the Overwhelming Sensation didn't last very long before the Analysis Impulse took over, but hey, it was great while it lasted.

Now the sweater... I was thinking Manos del Uruguay, purplish-bluish, with this big bright red sunburst blasting out of the chest area. And yellow or maybe orange edges, trim I guess. Does this sound totally hideous? Maybe it would be so ugly that it was spiritually ugly. A religious experience for the wearer. But I guess it also means color knitting. Argh! Well, it's not good religious art without suffering, right?

Monday, November 28, 2005

work ADD

Oh man, I have a mean case of ADD at work today. Do you hate days like this? I wish I could learn to embrace my unfocused-ness and do something useful like improve the feng shui of my office or tidy up the 4,378 duplicate work-related bookmarks on my browser or SOMETHING. But instead I start a new project, work on it for 3.4 seconds, get distracted, work on something else, visit my friend Gwen's cool new blog, order some sock yarn from KnitPicks, start another new project, decide I need caffeine, make tea, start another new project, forget I boiled water, and so on.

This wouldn't be so frustrating if I didn't have so much actual work to get done this week. At the end of the year I am generally crushed in grant reports due, piles of paperwork, number-crunching and budget forecasting, program evaluation, planning, and so on, which really isn't bad because I like to be busy and buckle down to a good day's work. But for reals... it's the holidays! I just want to knit socks for my family and bake cookies and write loving letters to my dear far-away friends.

So... speaking of dear friends in faraway places, this is April, who is in Berlin. Today she sent a really sweet email all about what the future holds (including a visit at Xmas - yay!), and this adorable picture:

April is so cute. She has bought a mug at the Xmas Market. Who knit your hat, April?

Now how can you write reports when you have emails to answer from someone as adorable as that? I tell you, it's just not right. While walking to work this morning HWWLLB and I were talking about how nice it would be to really jam on all our end-of-the-year work and then take some short days and extra days off for the holiday time. Ha! At this rate I'll be hanging our Xmas stockings on my office door and writing 2005 grant reports in my retirement.

So... any of you have suggestions for battling the deadly work ADD? Several cups of tea and a slice of pumkin cheesecake didn't do it.

sugar high

Hey there friends. This is a Monday morning quickie post to wake you up from the post-Thanksgiving food stupor with some sugary holiday cheer.

To those of you who live in western NC this is probably old hat, but I was delighted this weekend to see the National Gingerbread House competition at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville! Naturally I forgot a camera, so I can only describe the amazing feats of baking on display at this place. The Grove Park Inn hasn't posted their winners photos yet, but the Asheville Citizen-Times has some shots on their website.

A Miss Bobbie Jinright of Troy Alabama won the grand prize with a Santa's Workshop gingerbread house. It's about the size of my desk at work, and what I really want to know is HOW in the heck do they glue all those little candies on straight??? They claim to only use edible substances, but I bet she took a hot glue gun to that sucker. Bobbie's house was awfully nice, but I actually think it was blown away by the 1st place "adult" category winner (that isn't naughty like it sounds), Nancy Kyzer of Indianapolis, who did the ENTIRE St. Basil's cathedral (you know, the onion dome thing in Moscow), out of gingerbread and candy. That sucker was amazing - I think it was probably even to scale. It made me want to eat it, and also to go to Moscow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

many colors

Okay, you color nuts, I'm doing it. I'm knitting little beer cozies with more than one color. I hope you're happy. They're wild little suckers - all blue and pink and black and stripey. I do like the his & hers set, though I'm knitting them on straight needles and sewing them up - that colors in the round stuff is crazy.

This experience has me fixing to design a big sweater inspired by the many colors of Niagara Falls at night. Kaffe Fasset, watch out!

This is a real live picture of N.F. taken by my new friend Hilton. Can't you just see it in a sweater? You can't? Maybe you're not trying hard enough.

While I'm working away on insanely-colored little projects, our cats are busy avoiding each other at all costs. Jackie is all through with her antibiotics, and the bandages are off, so it's time for her and Simon to meet and become best friends. Here she is in the kitchen after raiding his food dish.

And here is Simon staying in bed all day to avoid bumping into her. I'm sure they'll be thick as thieves in no time...
It really is amazing how Jackie is basically good as new after her gut-wrenching injuries. You can see the hind foot in this picture - the one that was all mangled. Other than the hair still growing in, it looks fine! She doesn't drag it anymore or hardly limp at all, except when she's running (because it's time to eat) or going up the stairs (in search of food). She never even needed to wear the little sock I knitted for her with Cascade Fixation. I guess I'll be forced to use the leftovers to knit myself some little socklets. Oh dear.

Monday, November 21, 2005

vegas falls

Not too long ago HWWLLB and I took a wonderful trip to Maine, and at the Portland Museum of Art saw an exhibit of paintings by the early 20th century American Artist Rockwell Kent, including a stunning view of a wild and majestic Niagara Falls. So I was very very excited to visit the falls during my trip to Buffalo - and the conference organizers were nice enough to arrange a bus trip to the falls Saturday night. I couldn't wait to be awed and humbled by a massive natural wonder.

But, um... it wasn't quite like that. In fact, it was less majestic than tacky, not unlike a very cold Dollywood, but, you know, with a big waterfall. I'm sure the falls are actually prety amazing, but the overall feeling I got was dissapointment. The falls were tarted up with multicolored lights (look - it's green! now it's blue! now it's red!) and dwarfed by the twenty-story casinos and hotels rising above it on the Canadian side.

This picture I swiped off the web makes Niagara Falls at night look kind of classy. It wasn't.

And then there was the town of Niagara Falls, Ontario's annual Festival of Lights. Hoo boy! What a showstopper. As we drove the traffic-clogged road along the Niagara River, falls to the left, all along the right were 8-foot high displays such as this Beauty and the Beast tribute in the "Enchantment of Disney" section. Our bus driver/tour guide (who knew in detail the story of everyone who has ever gone over the falls, whether daredevil or suicide, including exactly what kind of cocktails they'd had before jumping in, and their shoe sizes, bless her heart) accidentally turned into the Dufferin Nature Park, a U-shaped traffic jam disguised as a light show.

The nature park was a horseshoe drive about 1/2 mile long, circling a small pond. On the banks of the pond, and all across the water, stood more or less "nature" themed animated light displays, including a beaver chewing down a tree, Bambi and Thumper scampering around each other, two rams bashing heads between pine trees, complete with "ouch" marks radiating from their heads on impact, and this sacred show of Noah releasing the dove from his ark:

This photo shows the path of the animated dove from Noah's hand to where it disappears off-stage.

The half-mile drive should have taken all of two minutes, but instead we spent about 30 minutes in a line of cars who must have driven miles from all across southern Canada to gawk at the light show. Look kids! It's a deer!

Back at the conference, I was making excellent progress on the secret xmas project, despite frogging large sections twice (I didn't gauge swatch. why? WHY???!), upside-down cables and one or two backwards cable twists. All in all, it's coming along nicely. I love the staghorn cable - knitting it makes me feel so traditional and celtic. This is a quick peek at a tiny piece of the project, because, you know, it's top secret and all. But I can't resist showing off my natural-born celtic cabling skills, not to mention the pretty pretty super natural Peace Fleece yarn:

Sunday, November 20, 2005

greetings from the dystemperate zone!

I have to tell you the truth: I was afraid. I was afraid of the cold in Buffalo. Dreading the wind and snow like the thin-skinned southern peach I've become. It didn't help that as we flew in on the plane from Charlotte, when we began our descent and broke through the cloud cover, you could suddenly see that the ground below was covered in snow. Half the people on the plane yelled out, "NO!" A man behind me yelled "Disgusting!"

When I was ten, I would have been yelling, "YES!" Even when I was twenty. But it's true what they say about being thirty... I am a grown-up boring flabby slob who can't even tolerate a little snowstorm. That's what they say, right?

Anyhow, it was dang cold in Buffalo, and for the first two days I bundled myself pathetically in a parka and sprinted the block from the hotel to the conference center every time I had to go outside. But Friday it snowed, a beautiful heavy snow that didn't seem to slow the city down at all. They plowed, they sanded, they went about their business like nothing had happened. The last time we had snow in Raleigh, we got a quarter-inch dusting, and in a mass panic that actually made national news, the city SHUT DOWN. School buses were stuck on the road for upwards of four hours. Several hundred children and teachers actually spent the night at school. People who commute twenty minutes home spent three or four hours and many ran out of gas on the highway, sitting in gridlock. All because of 1/4 inch of snow in the middle of the day! Relatives from New Jersey called to jeer us for several days afterwards, and they had every right to. It was embarrassing. So this ease with beautiful, snowy weather made me envious. I wanted to be like that.

By Friday night, the cold didn't seem so cutting. Saturday during breaks from the conference, I discovered how refreshing it was to go outside and take a brisk walk with a light fleece jacket on. The cold could feel GOOD! (Of course, after sitting for three days in 8-hour-a-day-straight meetings, almost anything else felt pretty good).

Sadly, I had no free time to find yarn stores or SnB's, but I got plenty of secret Xmas knitting done during the many hours of sitting still in a conference room. I also got to take a toxic tour of the neighborhood surrounded by Buffalo's many chemical plants (more on that another time), and I got to see Niagara Falls. Which will be the subject of another post, because there is just oh! so! much! to say. It's nice to be home, where my 62 degree house feels a little chilly.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

he was injured... injured bad.

Yesterday while visiting over at Flems' office, she showed me this hi-larious internet movie thing which made me fall down on the floor laughing (it's G-rated, I promise, but it does have audio, cube dwellers).

Not having the teevee at our house, I often miss out on this kind of stuff. Thank g*d for random email forwards!

In other matters, I am about to take a trip to Buffalo, NY to go to a meeting. I'm not terribly excited about the predicted snow showers and 40 degreees high temps, being as how it's still 70 and sunny here in the Cackalack, but I am VERY excited about seeing Niagara Falls for the first time! And also, the local knitting scene... anyone have any tips on yarn shops or Stitch & Bitch'es I should drop in on while in Buffalo? I imagine knitting would be big in a place where you can wear wool all year round, am I right?

Note also that, according to the vintage postcard at left, Niagara Falls is the home of Shredded Wheat. Now I'm really excited - I can get some early Xmas shopping done! High-fiber gifts for everyone on my list!

Monday, November 14, 2005

one color only

Okay, you knew it was coming... there may be instances for which the Magic Loop is not manna from heaven. I know, I know, the disappointment is almost unbearable. Tonight as I was whipping up another beer cozy, pondering the black and hot pink Cascade 220 leftovers in my stash, it hit me. What about an hilarious and charming "His" and "Hers" beer cozy set? With hearts! And stars! Yes! I am genius... and who doesn't love drawing on graph paper? With the Magic Loop on my side, what could go wrong?

Let me say up front, I really hate color knitting. I like a clean, simple look and more than one color is often more than I can handle. There was also that Knit-O-Graf incident back in '04 involving 7 balls of yarn and me crying and cursing eBay and vowing never, ever again to knit from a graph... but that's a story for another evening. So but, two colors - big deal, right? But on such a small little item - only 32 stitches! And with the loop sticking out, and the yarn ends, and the twisting, and the turning, and the loop-de-loop action... the tangle action was mounting by the minute, and I bit the bullet and frogged that sucker after only 9 or so rows, while the going was good. F* that sh*t, dog. One color only, that's my new mantra.

In other news, I took an amazing internet quiz that revelaed my innermost self. I am a bamboo knitting needle! How do these internet genies know everything about us? (And how did they know I'd have cozy trouble???)

You are bamboo.
Warm, cozy, and thoughtful, you take your time and
enjoy how things feel, smell, and taste. You
love the craft and beauty of traditional
things, and you value the comfort and
experience of knitting as much as the results.
But while you are reveling in your warm cozies,
don't get stuck. Warm is wonderful, but so is
the whole wide world!

What kind of knitting needles are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, November 13, 2005

legwarmer mantra :: consumption advisory

Golly, could this November be any prettier? All day long it's sunny and breezy and not cool at all, crisp and bright in the morning and just cold enough at night to make you want to cook soup and drink red wine. So mostly I've been drinking red wine, but tonight I made a big old pot of vegetable soup to celebrate the completion of the legwarmers! Huzzah! I really like them. I like them so much it's going to be hard for me to give them away for the SnB fashion show/fundraiser, but as the Buddah teaches us, it's not good to be hung up on material stuff, so away we go. I also crocheted a flower lapel pin to go with them, but don't ask me for the pattern because I have no idea how I did it. Theoretically I don't even know how to crochet. My cousin's husband taught me how to make granny squares last Xmas, which I promptly forgot, but the knowledge seems to be slowly seeping back into my head. How does that work? Maybe it's that crocheting is SO EASY that you don't even have to know how to do it to do it. Crocheters? Any thoughts?

I know you want a legwarmer picture, but it's tough, really tough, to take a decent-looking picture of legwarmers while wearing them. Plus it's dark out now... but to placate you, here's a picture of Simon posing with one of the dozen or so beer cozies I'm knitting with the Magic Loop technique... I know, I couldn't stop myself. Everyone else was having so much fun without their double-pointed needles, I just had to join in. Plus I find the risk of ocular injury greatly decreased this way. Long live Magic Loop!

So anyhow, on Saturday HWWLLB and I went for a nice long stroll around Crabtree Lake. While we were walking, we startled a great blue heron, who made a noise like a pterydactyl/angry muppet as he flew off. They are such elegant-looking yet crazy-sounding birds. Last week there was an article in the paper that made me cry, about a guy rescuing a juvenile bald eagle at Crabtree Lake. This guy was amazing! The eagle was caught in fishing line and drowning and the guy actually swam out into the lake to save it! He took it to the Piedmont Wildlife Center who doctored it up, and it will be released back at the lake in a couple of weeks. It was a very moving article. Plus I cry at everything. Nothing like that happened while we were there Saturday, but don't think I didn't have my eyes peeled for dramatic wildlife action.

The real action over at Crabtree is what you can't see, because the lake is being poisoned by a steady trickle of PCB's from the old Ward Transformer site near the RDU airport. It's a Superfund site, except there isn't any more Superfund money to clean it up, since the republicans axed the tax on chemical plants that used to fund it, back in the old days when here in the US we did things like make the chemical companies pay for their own toxic clean-ups. So there are signs all around Crabtree saying how you can't fish there because the fish are full of PCB's. Unfortunately the eagles and the herons can't read those little signs, so they just keep on recklessly eating the fish from the lake. Someone should warn them.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

oh oh oh... it's magic!

Here at SnB Raleigh we are ALL ABOUT the Magic Loop. Everyone's doing it. At least, last night everyone was. Well, okay two people. But it's so dang cool.

Flems is doing it with her hot hot Hot Lava cardigan (notice the young yet drool-worthy sleeve):

Saun's doing it with her Socktober socks:

Why am I not doing it? Where's my hot lava? Patience, my pretties... one day I'll let myself buy some more yarn. I love me some Stitch n' Bitch. Nothing could be finer than a glass of Crane Lake merlot ("Hi, I'll have the cheap red, please?"), some cute little baristas and a mellllllow DJ mixin it up with the knitting crew. Did I mention the truffle? Gotta have a truffle. Oh, what a way to get through the mid-week hump. Witness the transformative power of SnB:

Dave is trying to cast on. He has hardly knitted at all yet. See how frustrated? He is only pretending to smile. After a few minutes of successful Knitting With Pals, Dave is so happy! See how he smiles so genuinely?

Friends, you too can be this easily entertained. But listen, even though I know I've now posted the Magic Loop link twice on this here blog, those were only for reference purposes. Don't be thinking you should learn how to do this off the internets. Go down to the LYS or better yet go to Stitch n' Bitch and ask someone to show you how it's done. Part of the magic inherent in the Magic Loop is that it cannot be conveyed by language - only by in-person demonstration. The demonstration is a talisman passed on to you by a sage and carried forever in your knitting bag. Keep it sacred!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

swappin' good time!

Thrifty Tip: Shop for clothes in your friends' closets!

Every fall and spring or so, a bunch of friends get together and trade clothes. We started this up in college. I think the first one was on the lawn in front of a dorm where several friends lived, where I recall Mary scandalously trying on clothes right in front of passers-by, and ultimately leaving with a pair of cherry-red pants that I had brought, and that she wore almost daily for quite a while afterwards. I got some Brooks Brothers pinstriped linen dress pants from Jessica, which I still wear quite often.

Last night was the Mother of All Clothes Swaps at Nicole & Les's place - boys included! Finally, HWWLLB got in on the communal goodness. He got rid of a few shirts and brought home something he's intending to rip up and use for a quilt.

Look! A man! And he's swapping clothes!

And Oh My Gawd, Nicole made banana puddin!!! I was in heaven. And I got some new clothes.

So here's how you make one of these swappy-things. Invite over a bunch of friends. Ask them to bring some cute clothes they don't want anymore, and some snacks & drinks. Invite a DJ. Then put all the pants in the pants pile, all the skirts in the skirts pile, all the sweaters in the sweater pile... you following me? Then get to swappin! Somebody has to agree to take the leftovers to the thrift store, and voila! You got yourself a clothes swap!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

god bless jon bon jovi

I love living in North Carolina, and I sure do love southern culture (mostly). But when I tell people I come from New Jersey, they act like I can't be redneck enough to live here. No really, SOUTH Jersey! It's the south of the north! I swear!

So thank you Robyn for sending around the southern heritage email today, with this glorious anthropological evidence PROVING once and for all that southerners really do come from New Jersey, because its traditional hairstyles are so deeply rooted here. I am honored to stand at this cultural intersection with my own big hair testifying for me - I AM REDNECK! HEAR ME BELCH, Y'ALL! (or 'yous guys,' depending on who's reading). Now I'm gonna celebrate with some banana puddin.

Monday, November 07, 2005

send safety goggles!

Okay, the gratitude scarf is done, so I can resume those legwarmers... or start the socks for my grannies for Xmas... or clean out the stash and work on some kids' hats for Xmas... or get to work on the super-secret fancy surprise project for someone who might be reading this right now... or that sweater I'm dying to make for myself (note the yummy off-white Kathmandu Aran in the pile that I impulse bought/broke the bank on while on vacation last month... slobber slobber)... or get that baby bolero done... or or or or...

Help me! I'm having frantic yarn paralysis! I swear it wasn't impulse buying! I swear I have a real live project in mind for every single one of those bags of yarn in the closet! I swear I want to make them all, I... just... can't... choose...

Fat needles! Skinny needles! Cabling needles! I actually stuck myself in the eye with a DPN in my frantic project-switching the other night (no injuries ensued, but it was rather humiliating as HWWLLB was sitting right there and managed to stifle his laughter admirably). For the love of God, and the protection of my own eyeballs, I need to CALM DOWN and just plug through ONE project at a time. Just as soon as I buy the giant circular needle and the skeins of Manos del Uruguay I've been coveting so that I can finally learn the Magic Loop technique and make myself one of those cute little hot lava cardigans...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

gratitude scarf

This is the scarf I'm making as a minute token of gratitude for our friend & neighbor & veterinarian, Dr. D. Dr. D. saved our cat's life recently, because she is compassionate and generous and a big dang softie for animals (she is also extremely cute and very good at yoga - she can do the Advanced Pigeon where you pull your foot up with both arms to touch the back of your head and look like Yogi Mama). [Attention knitters: scarf details come later. Just scroll down if you want to skip the cat story.]

Okay, well, it wasn't really our cat, at least not then. It was our landlady's cat. You see, this is the Saga of Jackie.

Jackie is a semi-wild orange tabby cat, extremely canny and very sweet, but VERY wary of humans. My landlady, to whom I will hereafter refer as "Flakette," had 8 or 9 cats. One of them was so old its tongue didn't work anymore and Flakette had to give it water through an eyedropper. She's a big dang animal softie too, but not so much the good kind. Anyhow, 3 years ago when she moved to New England and we moved into the house, she couldn't catch the wild Jackie, and so she just left her here with a few cans of cat food. She tried a couple more times after that to catch her, but no dice - Jackie was too dang smart.

Since then we've been feeding Jackie and slowly making friends with her. She always loved to be scratched & petted, but she couldn't stand it for very long and would dash off before any emotional bonds could be formed - or so she thought. (Does she sound like the unlucky heroine in a Harlequin romance yet?)

Last June we hadn't seen Jackie for a while. It wasn't unusual for her to disappear for a week and come back hungry, but it went on too long. By the middle of summer, we figured that something terrible had happened to her, and we were pretty sad. Then HWWLLB came up with the idea that maybe Flakette had actually caught her and taken her away to live in New England. We decided that must be the answer, but we didn't call Flakette because we really didn't want to know.

Fast forward to October: I'm in the kitchen cooking a dinner for 20 people, and Simon (our indoor cat) is standing on his hind legs at the back door, staring out at something. Then we hear meowing. Jackie! Holy cow, it's Jackie! And holy cow... Jackie looks like she dragged herself home from a demilitarized zone. I went outside to feed her and freaked out when I saw her little hind leg just dragging behind her, useless. She was filthy and skinny and frantic for food. Her hair was falling out all over and every little rib and bone showed through her skin. When I petted her I could feel every vertebrae. She sucked down a whole can of cat food, and then staggered over to the little outdoor fireplace, climbed inside, curled up and went to sleep. Yes, the cat slept in a chimeneo, and I have to say it was really cute. Sad, but cute.

chimeneo / erstwhile cat bed

So I called Dr. D., who came right over the next morning, stuck Jackie in a carrier and whisked her off to the clinic. Keep in mind that this was basically a feral cat who had hardly been handled in her life, but she was just too weak to fight. So off to the vet she went, spent the day at the spa being de-parasitized, cleaned up, X-rayed, bandaged, poked, prodded and fussed over by a half-dozen vet techs with their motherly instincts cranked up to full throttle, and came home that night looking like a new woman. A really skinny, worn-out woman, but way cleaner, and on the mend already.

So it's been three weeks now, with Jackie quarantined in our guest room (she can't be around Simon til she finishes 28 days of antibiotics), gaining weight by the minute. She must have been surviving on crickets the last 5 months - she was down to 4 pounds when they weighed her at the vet. Apparently she was hit by a car some time over the summer, and her pelvis was broken, and the sciatic nerve in the hind leg damaged - that's why she drags it. We still don't know whether she'll have to have her leg amputated - it depends on whether it can heal back over despite the dragging (she had a gnarly wound that I won't describe here, because you might be eating while you read this).

Dr. D. has been over here every few days checking on Jackie - changing her bandages, giving her mini-exams, and basically acting as if she were her own beloved cat. So this hardly expresses the gratitude that HWWLLB and I both feel, but I'm knitting her a pretty fall scarf out of Crystal Palace Musique. I love the colorway - it reminds me of apples - and how light and lofty it is. I hope she likes it. But even if she doesn't, I reckon it will make a pretty good Xmas re-gift.

So you may be wondering, "Where is Flakette in all of this?" Or maybe even, "Shouldn't Flakette be covering at least part of these vet bills?" Well, we're wondering those things, too. Seems her phone has been disconnected, and she's not answering our emails. AWOL landlady. No scarf for her!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

extraordinary machine

Jessica is right. The new Fiona Apple album is amazing.

Does anyone else think of Nina Simone when you're listening to the song where she sings "and all I see is red, red, red, red, red..."? I am really enjoying this album.

work on the road

Fall is so beautiful! I love the fall in North Carolina. It comes on so slowly, just a nip in the air in the evenings and then suddenly the crisp, clear days come on with gorgeous color, and still it's warm enough to run around in a T-shirt in the afternoons.

On Thursday I took a work trip out to the northeastern corner of the state, a beautiful and somewhat forgotten (by the rest of the state) area full of wetlands, historic homes and old fishing and farming communities. Northeastern NC certainly isn't without its problems (part of why I was going out there), but it sure is purty, 'specially right now. Here's a photo I took at Edenton Bay on Thursday. It was about 70 degrees outside.

It was a fun trip. A colleague and I met with a bunch of community folks, gave a presentation on Thursday night and then spent the night at the home of one of my board members, MJ, who lives in the big 1920's country home she grew up in, with her family and all their hilarious pets. They have a big sweet cuddly boxer and his new best friend, a 6 month-old kitten who turned up in their driveway in the middle of a rainstorm last spring as a teeny baby, and she's now the queen of the estate. She loves to hide behind corners and ambush the dog as he comes around the corner, box his ears a few times and then dash off like a madwoman. The dog hardly seems to notice. There are a mess of cats outside too, and another kitten who just showed up, that they're trying to find a home for. (Free kitten! Cute! Email me!)

I like traveling for work, basically because I like traveling and this way work foots the bill. It's not like I get to go to Hawaii or anything (later this month I get to go to Buffalo - ooh mama!), but it's always a thrill for me to see something new, like Edenton Bay.

One of the things that I like best, though, is working from public libraries. I love to drag my laptop into the public library and plug in and work away quietly all day with no distractions other than what is usually very high-quality people-watching.

So let me put in this plug for the Pasquotank-Camden Library. I really liked the warm, small-town feel of the facility and the very helpful staff, and the fact that they let non-cardholders use the computers (for a whole hour!). I stuck a comment in the suggestion box requesting that they provide wireless internet access, but I'd probably have to join the Friends of the Library to get something like that done. Also, props to Muddy Waters Coffee and the wine shop/deli where I had a lovely vegetarian sandwich for lunch. Mmmwah! Kisses from the middle of the state, Northeastern NC! Now let's see what we can do to stop those landfills...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

merino therapy

Okay y'all, I know I was just getting self-righteous about how knitting won't change the world or prevent a right-wing nutball from being sent to the Supreme Court, but it sure does make me feel better in turbulent times. True to my questionable fashion tendencies, I'm knitting some legwarmers (and they are DAMN cute, I must say) from some lovely Debbie Bliss merino aran that I got from Beverly at the craft swap last year.

It is not easy to take a picture of your own leg in a legwarmer, so I'm going to have to get some help with this, but here's a tantalizing preview:

Impress your friends with snazzy horseshoe cables!

These are super-easy and many of you knitting geniuses could surely figure out how to make them just by staring at these poorly-composed pictures for a few minutes, but I think I'll post my pattern for them when I'm done, if there's some interest.