Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Past

The back of this picture says that it was taken in 1978. Really? 1978?
I guess it makes sense. The pepper tree replaced a couple of liquid amber trees in the front yard when I was in 2nd grade, so yeah, that's about right. It just seemed like we were younger. I'll confess, I have no idea how old kids are by looking at them. Tell me your little boy's twelve, but he's really seven? I won't know the difference. I wouldn't have guessed that my brother, hereafter known as The Engineer, was ten years old in this picture.
We didn't have a whole lot of money when we were growing up. My parents did a fantastic job of hiding this from us. We always thought that they were holding back on buying us new toys or fancy costumes because they were trying to make us appreciate what we already had, or be more creative. It worked. By the time I was eight, when this picture was taken, I wouldn't have even thought about getting a costume at the store. You make your costume out of what you have around. That's just how it was done.
So I give you these costumes -- The Engineer becomes a vampire for the price of false teeth, a cape my mom probably made, and some face paint. I become a hobo clown with a thrift store blazer and tie, some fabric remnants, a cheap hat and a plastic flower. I won't count face paint toward the total cost, because obviously The Engineer and I shared it. I'm also not counting the red paint, because that was an old tube of my mom's lipstick.
I remember loving this costume, and having a grand time trick-or-treating that year. I don't remember being sorry that I didn't get the princess costume from the store.
Bravo, Mom. Bravo.
Oh, yeah. Note that the bowler doesn't go any further down on my head than that. My voluminous hair, and yes it's my own hair and not a clown wig, held the hat in place. Even as a child? Great big head.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Man, I wish it were still summer. It's going to be 85 degrees today, but nature isn't fooled. Nature knows that it's late October. The light's too thin for anything to keep growing. The dayflowers have died back to the ground. The canna behind the gargoyle is withering. This summer was too long and too hot, but I miss it just the same.

I've made progress on the Simple Knitted Bodice, but I don't have pictures yet. I'm making it more form-fitting than any of the completed ones I've seen. I've been trying it on as I go, making subtle changes to the fit, measuring every other garment I own against it, trying to keep in mind the growth potential of silk. I may be the first knitter to make this thing too small. I'll have pictures of it up tonight.

The next episode of "Cooking With Stupid" is coming. It only gets stupider.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Finger

Cooking with Stupid
The secret ingredient is Terror!

I don't know if you've been in many car wrecks, and more specifically, if you've been the cause of most of them. I have, due to poor depth perception and a late-blooming ability to compensate for it, rammed the front of my car into the back of another car at least four separate times in my driving life. I've hit an El Camino, the back of a Chevy van, and the bumper of my aunt's mother-in-law's Cadillac. There were others, but they're kind of a blur. Today, if you look in your rearview mirror and see a silver Volkswagen stopped a good fifty yards behind you, and you turn to shout "You know you could move up a car length or five, dipshit...", well, hello friend! That's me back there. Compensating.

The thing about those car wrecks is that there was a moment, very brief, where it was obvious that there wasn't a way to avoid them. A moment where the inevitability of the situation became perfectly clear. "Huh. Well, O.K. Here we go." I wasn't panicky or scared. I was just there, calm in that moment, watching, waiting for the impact.

I thought about that reaction the other day while I was working in the kitchen, trying to slice through a sweet potato with my chef's knife. The sweet potato wasn't cooperating with me, and it rocked under the knife, slipping toward the sink. I reached out to stop it from falling down the disposer, wrapping my hand around both the vegetable and the knife. I knew what I'd done before my fingers had finished curling into the grasp, but too late to pull them away. "Huh. Well, O.K." Three of my fingers started to sting. I put the knife and the potato, still fused together, on the counter and looked at my hand. As implausible as it seemed, nothing was bleeding. Maybe I'd just brushed the fingers without actually slicing into them. A second later, a thin, pink line appeared on my middle finger, and a second after that, blood.

I ran my finger under water for a couple of seconds, tried to see how deep the cut was, but at that point it was bleeding freely. "What am I supposed to do about this, again? Direct pressure for ten minutes? But then how am I going to finish dinner?" I needed to keep working, so I concluded that a really tight Bandaid would work just as well as me sitting there with a Kleenex pressed against my finger.

Really tight Bandaid in place, I went back into the kitchen to continue making soup, red pepper with sweet potato. At this point, I was irrationally angry with the root vegetable. "F*&king unsliceable sweet potato. F*&king bruisy tips of the f*&king unsliceable sweet potato. Down the disposer with you!" I pressed the disposer button and heard the satisfying growl of the blades as they chopped the potato ends. I threw in the section surrounding the knife as well, in case it had residual bits of my finger on it. "Ha HA! Screw you, tuber!" As I watched, water backed up out of the disposer and into the sink. It did not drain back down.

I may be foolhardy in the kitchen, but there's one thing I don't ever mess around with, and that's a plugged in garbage disposer. I reached under the sink and unplugged it. I have no problem whatsoever messing around with an unplugged disposer. My left hand out of contention because of the cut, I shoved my uninjured right hand directly into the watery disposer barrel and felt around for any obstructions. I couldn't feel anything in there except the grinding blades and a half gallon of starchy water.

"Maybe it just needs to run for a few seconds more", I thought. I don't know why I thought this. If there's nothing in there to pulverize, why would it need to run? Anyway, I plugged it back in, stared down into the black maw, and pressed the button. Bits of sweet potato shot up in a fountain of starchy water, covering the counter, the floor, and my face. "Good thing I'm wearing this Bandaid. I'd hate to get whatever was in the water in that cut." That was the first thing I thought, not that I'd just covered my kitchen with makeshift paste, or that I'd somehow clogged the plumbing, or that I still hadn't made much progress on dinner. I picked the tiny pieces of sweet potato out of my hair and paused for a moment, thinking about my next move.

"Oh, that's right. Dinner. I should finish the soup before I do much else." Here's why I thought that. If I could get the soup on the stove, I could put the lid on the stock pot and then I wouldn't have to worry about fallout from another eruption from the roiling Kitchenaid caldera. I know myself, which is how I knew that I wouldn't be able to stop myself from trying to run the disposer again, even though it didn't work the last time I tried it. There would be splatter.

The thing that makes red pepper soup especially good is the addition of a couple of hot peppers, usually red jalapenos, which are easy to seed with a little spoon. But Safeway didn't have red jalapenos that day. They didn't have much at all in the way of spicy peppers. I happened to have a couple of pepper plants in the back yard, but their tags had long since been broken and blown away. "At least they're red. I guess about six of these equals one jalapeno. They're probably not that hot."

But these peppers are tiny, and have to be seeded by hand instead of with a spoon. Apparently, while sloshing around in the disposer, I made tiny slashes all over my right hand. Moments into cutting and seeding the peppers, my skin started to burn...

Read the second half of our exciting story, "Cooking with Stupid: Blender of the Damned", later this week.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why Accountant Boy Loves Me

Ahhh. That's better. I don't look like any of these gals in real life, either. At least they're all women. Wait, what? Oh, yeah. Sorry about that, Billy. I guess it's that pretty, pouty mouth of yours.

Why I Love Accountant Boy, Part 2

Holy crap, dude! I look like Helmut Schmidt and Val Kilmer's love child, but Accountant Boy looks like these guys? Sure, there is Moby in there as the outlier, but there's nothing wrong with him that a juicy Fatburger and fries wouldn't fix.

See, ladies? There's always hope. If a guy who looks like Sean Bean can marry a dame who looks like Sigrid Undset, anything's possible.


See what happens when you frown?

I'd love it it there was any reason to assume that I actually looked like Polly Walker, but let's be honest here, folks. I'm Helmut Schmidt reborn. Wait, what? He's not dead? O.K., maybe not, then. Oh, and I know that I read and hated 'Kristin Lavransdatter', but I don't remember a thing about it, so sorry Sigrid. You're not lighting my fire, either. I'm ignoring Barrymore and Wahlberg, and we're not going to talk about that shrieking banshee Morissette. I guess it's a toss-up between Lee Young-ae and Val Kilmer, and although I haven't seen any of her movies, I have to give the advantage to Lee because I have to assume she hasn't appeared both perpetually sweaty and bloated in every film she's made since 1994, and she's a woman. We'll get past that whole Korean/Basque-Scottish thing.

Anyway, point taken. Frowning bad.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Suzanne and Suzanne: A Conversation

Suzanne1: "Suzanne? Don't you want to show off your pretty, new sweater to the bloggy world?"

Suzanne2: "No."

S1: "You worked really hard on it, and it turned out so well. Don't you want people to see? It might be fun..."

S2 wrinkles lower lip and stares at S1.

S1: "Well, what about the Tilly Thomas yarn, and the couple of inches of progress you've made on the SKB? You could tell the story of how you had to stop knitting for a week because you almost cut off your fingertip."

S2 pouts.

S1: "You had all sorts of funny things to say when you left work. Everybody likes your stories. Why don't you tell everyone about your weekend?"

S2: "No."

S1: "You could do one of your blog stalk assignments. You're behind, but it's not too late to catch up."

S2 walks into next room and sits down in front of television.

S1: "Maybe you could go to the gym? You like the gym, remember?"

S2 scans the channels, finds 'Die Hard' on Starz.

S1: "Okay, then. Maybe tomorrow."

When I was a little girl, I was a phenomenal sulker, and incredibly stubborn. When I was four, maybe five years old, my mother told me to go clean the floor of my room, which was almost always covered with so many toys and books that it wasn't navigable. "Why don't you go straighten up your room?" I stared up at her. "Don't you want your room to be clean?" Stared some more. "Go clean your room." Continued to stare. I couldn't have been more than three feet tall, but I tilted my head back and glared at her as best as I could. It went on for several minutes, but I'm sure that both of us felt like it was hours. "Now!"

I finally broke her, I guess, because she reached down and smacked me on the thigh. It wasn't a hard slap, just sharp enough to not be mistaken for a light push in the direction of the messy room. It was the first time she had ever struck me, and the only time. I turned on my heel and marched into my room, closing the door behind me. When she came in to tell me that dinner was ready, five hours later, I was sitting in a tiny clearing on the floor, having not touched a single item around me except to push it aside to make room for myself. Night had fallen, but I wasn't tall enough to reach the light switch without the aid of my trusty rubber kitchen spatula, and I didn't have the spatula with me when I stomped away from her, so I was sitting on the cold linoleum in the dark. I would have stayed there all night just to prove my point.

I'm not sure what my point was, maybe that I wouldn't relent, even if relenting was the right choice, the choice that would make me happy. I would have been happy to have my room clean, to be able to find all of my books, to not be sitting in the dark in a room that I was convinced was haunted by shadowy creatures that crept in through the crawl space in my closet floor. I would have been happy if I'd just taken her up on her suggestion. I don't know why I didn't do that.

The problem is that now that I'm an adult, I have those same conversations with myself. Why haven't I been keeping up with the blogging? Why am I not going to the gym? Why am I spending days avoiding tasks at work that would take me five minutes to complete, that would make me so happy if they were finished?

"Why don't you..."

"...because you want me to."

Here's a little clearer picture of the sweater above. It's Licorice Whip from BlueAlvarez. I had a great time knitting it for a while, then I got tired of knitting with the Rowan Cotton Rope, and then I had a horrible time knitting it. I went through 14 balls of Cotton Rope, which I think amounts to about 900 yards. It was going to be the XXS, but I made it a little broader. It measures out to be more like the XS. After seeing KnottyGnome's version, I thought I'd like mine to be a little bit cropped. I'm glad I did that.

This was a fun knit, and I'd like to do it again, but next time in wool, or at least a springier yarn. Those cross-stitches are a bitch in aran cotton.

Oh, and in that first picture, it's not the sweater that's making me frown. I'm just in that mood. The sweater is really comfortable, and I've worn it on three of the four days since completing it. I do, however, wish I'd taken a second to pull the hem down so it didn't bunch up at my armpits.