Friday, December 21, 2007

Frosty Likes to Watch

I, uh, I dunno. I came home from work, and this was waiting for me as I strolled up the walk. I don't know who did this, and I don't know why. All I know is that it was awesome.

Best. Neighbors. EVER.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Aunt Karen: "Weren't you wearing something different at the wedding?"

SuzannaBanana: "Well, yeah, but we don't get out much. If I don't change dresses every three hours, I won't ever get a chance to wear half of them."

Aunt Karen: "How many dresses do you have?"

SuzannaBanana: "Two. So now, you know, problem solved! See? I'm all about the solution-oriented approach. I made this little shrug, too. Finished it five minutes ago. I deliver on my deadlines."

Aunt Karen: "What? You looking for a job or something?"

SuzannaBanana: "It never hurts to practice the lingo."

This is the two-tone shrug from Fitted Knits, rendered in a single, lovely alizarin tone. We didn't have a good camera with us that night, so this is the only halfway decent photo of me wearing it that I have.

Easy Details Section:

Pattern: Two-Tone Shrug from Fitted Knits.

Yarn: Berroco Softwist in Alizarin - a few grams more than four skeins.

Needles: Brittany birch straight #6 for the body, Addi Turbo #2 for the sleeve ribbing, Crystal Palace bamboo #3 for the body ribbing.

Size: The fourth size from the left - I think that's the 16". It's the same size as the sample at FashionKnit, which fit like a dream, so I figured I couldn't go too wrong with knitting mine in that size.

Time: I started knitting it on Sunday, December 2nd. I finished it at 4:55 p.m. on December 8th, exactly five minutes before my parents' wedding reception started. That's when I pulled it over my shoulders and turned down the collar. Technically, I didn't finish it until December 14th, when I wove in all of the ends. On the night of the party, I only had time to put it on and shove all of the tails back up into my sleeves.

Modifications: None. I might be missing a row or two at the very edge of the ribbing, but I was working under a time crunch, and I knew I didn't have twenty more minutes to work another two rounds. So, while it might be an eighth of an inch missing from the body, there are no intentional mods. I bound off in the ribbing pattern, which I don't think was a part of the instructions.

I know there have been some questions about how to measure for this pattern. I know because I had these questions myself, and when I went traipsing about the Internet for the answers, nobody had a definitive one. I measured from the outer tip of one shoulder to the outer tip of the other. If you press your finger against your shoulder and find the bony edge, that's what I'm talking about. I measured across the front, because the position of my arms threw off the measurements when I tried to measure across the back. I was measuring without the aid of an assistant that night. When three out of four measuring attempts got me the same number, and that number matched the size of the finished shrug that I'd tried on, I figured I was good to go.

I love how Softwist makes a more dressy garment without too much effort. I know it's a splitty yarn, but I'm a fairly loose knitter, so I didn't have a problem getting the needles all the way under the stitches.

What'd I learn from it? I learned how deep I like the armholes to be on top-down sweaters. I always screw up this part because I second-guess my measurements at the try-on point. In this case, I figured I didn't have time to go back and fix a mistake anyway, so I divided for the arms when the pattern told me to, and I just went for it. I'll be able to use this shrug as a guide for future sweaters.

This was a fun knit. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been in such a hurry to complete it. Someone out there in cyberspace said that knitting the ribbing was a demoralizing experience, and I'd tend to agree. I finished the body and the sleeves in only a few hours, lulling me into a false sense of confidence. I thought I'd be done well before the party. I didn't imagine that I'd be shouting, "Hold on! I have to bind off fifty more stitches!" as Accountant Boy tried to drag me to the car.

Will I wear it again? I knit it to go with a black velvet dress, but it'd look just as good over a summer tank with jeans. It did look so cute that night. Unfortunately, I'd had the flu for the two weeks prior, and I'd lost several pounds as a result of not eating and taking hefty amounts of Sudafed. The minute the cold went away, I put the weight back on. It's not so cute at the moment. It is not a garment for the fat of back.

Still, it's done and it's lovely and I'm proud of it.

I've been on a real tear lately with the knitting. I've finished Sienna as well, but that's a story for another day.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


My parents were married last weekend in a lovely little ceremony in one of Tulare, California's two Catholic churches. Yes, they were married already, but not in the eyes of the Church, a point that has lately become vitally important to my dad. He wanted this so badly, so earnestly, that The Engineer and I even refrained from making cracks about the burden of growing up in a small town as bastards. This was no small feat, holding back the quips. The Engineer and I are legendary smartasses.

It was a lovely, ceremony, custom-made for my mom, who is still not Catholic, and my dad, who can no longer kneel on command. Father Rick did a wonderful job of accommodating them and making all of us - Catholics, Methodists and atheists, gay and not gay, young and old - feel welcome and included. Our family beamed proudly from the pews as The Engineer, Big Guy and I stood up for our parents and saw them married.

And then this happened.

Here's the thing. If you put me a room with a bunch of loonies, I'll naturally become the straight woman. Nothing I like better than standing back and making wry observations about people as they make asses of themselves. I like it when events have something that makes them memorable. When it seems like there's no chance of that happening, when everything seems like it's going to be staid and, well, ordinary, it triggers something in me.

When yet another group was gathering behind my flash-addled parents, that something fired. "Oh for God's sake! Why don't we ALL get in the picture at the same time? You don't like how you look in pictures? I'll fix it so that nobody's looking at you, then. Problem solved!"

I come by this trait honestly, and through a woman who had been dead some fifty years when I was born. Guess which one of these women is my grandmother? Yes, that would be her on the right, Miss Grace Loinaz. For the longest time, this was the only picture of her that we had.

A couple of years ago, we found my grandfather's photo album and came across this picture. My dad's sister Madeleine is pretty sure that this is also Grace. Wearing a man's clothes. Backwards.

My father and Aunt Matt weren't old enough when she died to remember anything about her. Anyone else who might have known her has long since passed beyond the vale. These pictures of Grace are all that we have of her.

I think I would have liked her. I hope she would have liked me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Haps

Behold the 'Mo!

Ah, yeah. It's coming along nicely.

We're at the halfway mark, which means there's still plenty of time to get in on the action. It's tax deductible, and it's an important cause, both for the research and for the education. If you don't have a few bucks to give, please at least give the men in your life a little nudge to get tested for it. I had a guy come up to me at work yesterday and ask me what a prostate was. He wasn't kidding. "Would I know if I had one?" Oh, dude. I can't even explain it to you without getting sent to HR, but yes, you most likely have a prostate. Maybe I'm more aware of the issue because my grandfather died from prostate cancer, and my dad's dying from prostate cancer, and so many other men I know have had it. It's amazing to me that it's not something that every man knows about and gets tested for.

I'm almost done with the first front of Sienna, although I'm pretty sure I managed to screw up my improvised shaping. I'm going with it anyway because, like Big Guy, I'm all about moving forward. I don't have pictures of it yet.

So many fascinating things happening in Bananaland! We moved onto the friendliest street in Contra Costa County. Our new neighbors sold us one of their keg refrigerators, so now we have beer on tap in our garage.

My parents are getting remarried in three weeks and we're inviting two hundred people to the wedding. I've now found a reason to get back into a physical training regime. I'm planning on wearing a dress that absolutely does not fit me as of this moment.

I took the train down to see them last week, and my mom lost track of what time I was supposed to arrive, so I sat at the Hanford train station for two hours. I met some lovely people and learned valuable life lessons. I learned that, while "I'm black and you're white, and we get along fine, right?", it's just not possible for blacks and whites to get along with Latinos because, in the words of my new friend Anthony, "wetbacks won't ever give you a dollar, man." I also learned that I have something called "woman ways", and if I'd really needed another dollar to call my mom from the payphone, I could have used said "ways" to get it. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of Anthony, Miss Budweiser-in-a-Big-Gulp or the Latino gentleman who denied Anthony his very reasonable request for money, because I didn't want to take out my camera in front of them.

Instead, please content yourself with this lovely shot of Mount Diablo, taken from my very own bedroom window just this morning. Sure, the keg refrigerator and the bonfires in the courtyard are nice, but this is really why we moved.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

MoVember Update - Day Eight

The Australians are questioning Accountant Boy's manliness!

Obviously, this displeases him.

He's lost his lead to an e-commerce guy. "I call shenanigans! Isn't it kind of suspicious that he's pulled ahead? The guy who does web-based marketing? Huh? HUH???"

"Uh, no. It kind of makes sense, actually..."


It's not his fault that he's competing with public-facing sales guys and he's stuck in the back office. They used to call him The Rock, but now they've started calling him The Pebble.

If you, dear readers, or anyone you know is so inclined to give to a worthy, tax-deductible cause, please follow the linky. Let's' show the Aussies how we do things in the U-S-of-A!

In other news, look what I've been doing! Knitting! I think it's going to be the Sienna cardigan from last fall's Interweave Knits, but I can't decide if I want to do something different at the fronts. More on this later, as it becomes more than just ribbing.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007



I'd never heard of it, either. Accountant Boy's merry band of Australian coworkers challenged him to join them this year, and he's throwing himself into it with glee. Yes, he's growing a moustache. For charity.

This year's USA Movember cause is prostate cancer research, an issue close to the heart of the FamilyBanana. We're all touched that A.B. is stepping up to the plate on this one.

I'll admit that I am more than a little concerned about the nascent moustache. I like A.B. with a beard, sure, for a few days maybe. It's rugged and manly. But a moustache alone? All bushy and Tom Selleck-y and requiring grooming tools? For the whole month? What if he goes all Gunther on me? Our marriage might not recover. So far, it's still in the realm of good taste, not crossing the border into Pornoland. Then again, the month is still young.

Here is the direct link to my man's 'mo sponsorship page. Click and give!

Yes, I will be posting updates as the month goes along. He's only a couple of days away from it being distinguishable from his normal stubble. I shudder to think...

Monday, October 29, 2007


This is it - the first picture ever taken of me.

I was born somewhere around two and a half months early. I weighed a little more than two pounds. It was 1970, and it was a small-town hospital, and I was so tiny that all of the doctors and most of the nurses thought I would die within hours. They gently told my mom to go home and wait for the call.

She did get a call, but it wasn't the one she was expecting. One of the nurses phoned and said, "I drew the short straw to call you, but I don't think this is right. I can tell that she wants to live!" Through some clandestine manueuvers, the two of them worked to get me transferred to the larger hospital in the next town.

I spent the next two months in an incubator, not because there was anything wrong with my lungs, or because I wasn't well. I was just small, and they didn't know what else to do with me.

This is the first picture that I have where I'm not behind plastic. I have no idea how old I am here. Maybe four months? My dad looks like a giant holding me in his enormous hands. I'm taller than he is now, but his hands still envelope mine completely.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Classic

How I Get From There to Here - Moving Edition

My brother Big Guy's truck. Oh, where to start?

Big Guy lent us his truck for the next couple of months so that we can move supplies and boxes to our new house. The truck, a GMC Sierra Classic stepside, has already helped us out by allowing us to purchase and move a dishwasher, six sheets of drywall, a ladder and a few boxes. We plan to load it up again tonight and move some smaller furniture over so that we don't have to cram it into the 24' truck on Saturday. The Classic? Proving its worth.

On the downside, The Classic has little-to-no weatherstripping around the windows. That incident with the ankle socks in the window a couple of weeks ago? Yep, that was in The Classic. The rear window is limo-tinted, and because this means you can't see out of it anyway, there's been no hurry to replace the rearview mirror. The doors have to be slammed shut with great force, throwing the side mirrors out of alignment. You cannot roll down the windows to adjust them, because the windows will not necessarily roll back up again. Open door, fix mirror, close door, knock mirror to an angle where all you can see is the door handle or the ground. The result is that, most of the time, Accountant Boy is driving blind. We asked Big Guy about these things, and he said, "I'm all about looking ahead. I don't look back, man." He chuckled good-naturedly, only half-kidding.

Why is A.B. the only one driving The Classic? That'd be on account of the steering, which is, let's euphemistically say, liberal. "It's like I'm pretend driving, like a Fisher-Price car!" he said as he turned the wheel twenty degrees in either direction while rolling straight down the road. "By the way, honey, you cannot EVER drive this truck. I love you too much to let you do it."

It also spews noxious exhaust fumes, long after the engine is turned off. We parked it in the garage to unload some stuff without disturbing our neighbors, and I went inside for a few minutes. When I opened the utility room door, I was assaulted by the smell.

"Honey, the garage door!"


"OPEN the garage door and MOVE THE TRUCK before you inadvertently kill yourself!"


For all of its faults, The Classic really has been great this week. Without it, we'd be struggling to rent the Home Depot trucks, or coordinating deliveries of every single thing that we've bought that can't be shoved through the rear door of our 2002 VW Passats. It has a new stereo, and when we're driving slowly enough to hear it over the wind noise, it's a rockin' system. We only keep one CD in it - a disc Big Guy labeled 'Pete's Mix'. Of everyone we know, only my brothers and his own family call Accountant Boy 'Pete'. Nobody else does, just like nobody ever shortens my name to Sue. He never corrects them, maybe because he doesn't want to upset the sense of brotherly camaraderie. Anyway, 'Pete's Mix' - it's got some old Black Sabbath, a Godsmack song, and Rush's '2112'.

"I think he got confused when we were burning CD's. This one's his."

"Oh, c'mon, Pete. You know you love Geddy Lee. Sing along! 'Weee aaahrre the prieests...'"

"I can't. I might pull something important and dear to me."

FamilyBanana's going through a rough patch right now. DaddyBanana isn't doing well, and Big Guy's taking it pretty hard. I like to think that A.B. and I taking The Classic on an extended road trip makes him happy when he thinks about it.

On that topic, we've got a lot going on in SuzannaBananaLand right now. We're moving for the first time in almost a decade, DaddyBanana's health is failing, my job is...weird, and I feel like everything in my life has been thrown into disarray, like a deck of cards hurled into the air. There is more than a slight possibility that I'll miss some blogstalk posts over the next couple of months. We'll see how the cards fall.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Everything Zen

Remember how I was going to work on something really easy after finishing my Disasterous July sweaters? Remember how, in a fit of rage and disgust, I decided to knit something made entirely of stockinette? And it was going to be Coachella? And it was going to take me approximately four days? Yeah, so that didn't work out too well. There's nothing to show for it, because I frogged it. Too slippery, too open, too much of my back showing. I'd wanted to have at least one top done this summer, one little top that I could wear proudly while exclaiming, "I made this!" That dream was fading fast.

"Hey, I remember the last little summer top I made, and it was pretty easy! I could make another one of those. I've even got the recommended yarn for it!"

Look what I've gotten myself into now. What I hadn't accounted for was the differences between yarns. The first one I made was knit in a wool/silk blend. This yarn, Berroco Zen, is not so smooth and luxurious on the hands. It is horrible to work with. I'm lucky to get one cable repeat done every two days, because I get tired from working with it and give up. I don't mean that I get bored or frustrated. My hands literally lose strength after seven or eight rounds, and I have to put the project down. Maybe it'll get easier after the separation for the front and back. I'm halfway there.

It's going to be pretty when it's done, which is the only reason that I keep working on it. I'm trying to get it done by Saturday, the last day of summer.

The Falling Beam

Lately, I've been thinking about what makes us who we are. When people are asked, "Who are you?", as we're being asked with this week's blogstalk assignment, they'll usually answer with things like their age, their marital status, their professions, and their hobbies. I haven't answered the question yet because, in my usual way, I've overthought it.

See, I'm a frequent watcher of 'America's Most Wanted'. I used to say, "Now, hold on. If they're saying that the guy has a blond mohawk and drinks Lone Star beer with a fish sauce chaser while dancing the hornpipe, usually in the bar of an Applebee's, how can you expect to find him? Surely, the fugitive will dye his hair, start hanging out at Chili's and switch to Budweiser." Five shows later, they're hauling the guy out of an Applebee's with fish sauce on his shirt. There are things, core things, that people can't change about themselves. It's Hammett's falling beam.

I've been thinking about this with regard to my own identity. I can say that I'm a programmer, that I'm a wife, that I'm thirty-seven years old, that I like pumpkin spice lattes, that I've lived in California for my whole life, that I love animals, that I knit. But if I went on the run for some reason, tried to change everything about myself, what would give me away? What is so intrinsic to me that I can't shake it off?

Would I become a waitress in a small town in the middle of Kentucky, living in obscurity for a decade, only to be found out because I flew into a howling rage after a long day of listening to Celine Dion and late-era Sting over the restaurant's sound system? It'd end up in the 'Oddly Enough' section of Yahoo! News, and I'd be done for. "We knew it was her," several people in Moraga, California would say. "She once quit a reception job because she couldn't stand listening to KOIT's "light rock, less talk" that we piped into the lobby."

What would be my tell? Would it be my hair, which has, for very brief periods over the last decade, been styled differently, but always ends up becoming the patented Execu-Bob Shoulder Length Blunt? Would it be my tidy, unpainted fingernails? I try to change, to be more girly, to remember to paint my nails, buy new handbags, pay attention to whether or not I'm wearing lipstick. These campaigns usually last about a week, and then I'm back to, well, being me. "We knew it was her. She always wore pants, and her lips always looked dry."

Would it be something about my personality, like my inability to keep my mouth shut in a checkout line? Unless I'm absolutely exhausted, I'm likely to catch the eye of someone in the queue around me and strike up a conversation. I'm chatty with strangers. Could I stop doing that? "I knew it was her. She complimented me on my choice of Hostess fruit pies. I didn't know her from Eve, and here she was talking about cherry versus apple! So I called AMW immediately..."

No, it wouldn't be any of those things. There's no point in changing them. You know what would get me caught? "We knew immediately that it was her," said Trooper Jones. "When we saw the gym socks shoved into the window frame in place of weatherstripping, we said to each other, 'That's Suzanne. Any normal person would've stopped and bought a roll of duct tape.'" There's something that I can't change about myself. No matter how much money I have, I'm always going to be the kind of woman who thinks, "Why buy tape, when I have a suitcase full of weatherstripping right here?"

(By the by, if you haven't read 'The Maltese Falcon', I must insist that you go out and buy a copy of it right now and read it. It's an excellent novel. No, the movie is not a substitute for it. The movie is, dare I say, vastly inferior to the novel. I can't believe it's never been remade.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bohemian Like You

While the world waits patiently for my next completed project, let's take a look back at the early work.

This is the Fiesta 'Famous Shawl', knit with about 280 yards of Fiesta La Boheme. I knit it back in 2003 on size 17 needles. It was the first thing I knit that wasn't a scarf. Well, actually, I did knit a whole sweater back in 1994, but hadn't touched knitting needles since then. I'd forgotten everything other than how to hold the yarn and knit, and how to do a long tail cast-on. I didn't know how to do any other cast-on, just the long tail, which is one of the hardest. At this point, I still didn't remember how to purl. Naturally, this meant that my second project of my second knitting era should be in a slippery, unforgiving, expensive mohair-boucle blend.

I remember cutting the fringe pieces and tying them on while watching "Wings of Desire" on IFC. I was happy with how it turned out, and then I picked it up and wrapped it around my shoulders. It turned into an shimmering, irridescent net. It drapes down to my knees.

Nevertheless, the pattern was really easy, and I latched onto it and wouldn't let go. I went out and bought some different yarn, based only on liking the color, and knit up another one. This one turned out to be more practical, with the wool holding the shape of the garter stitch.

Here's a good close-up example of the difference between the two yarns. They were knit on the same needles, because I only had the one pair. They were knit within weeks of each other, so it's not a gauge-varying-over-time issue. But notice the lovely mesh of La Boheme...

...and the springy thickness of Filatura di Crosa 'College'. I liked this one so much that I went out and bought even more College and made yet a third triangle shawl in a shade that they called 'Black', and I lovingly renamed 'Guano'. Maybe pictures of that later.

What did I learn from these projects? I learned that yarn content matters. I learned how to do a backward loop cast-on. I learned that size 17 needles probably aren't right for La Boheme. I wouldn't go past a 10.5. This is the most important thing I learned, as I have bunches of La Boheme in my stash.

I was surprised to see Buddy climb up and sit on the shawls, but even more surprised a few minutes later when he stepped off of them and curled up on the only section of the chaise that was free of them.

The Woman, you should know by now that I have quite an aversion to mohair. Why have you not made a cashmere throw for your Buddy? I am deprived. -- Buddy the Cat

In case anyone is concerned, I picked Buddy up a few minutes ago and determined that he is far from deprived. A little deprivation might be good for him at this point. It's like he ate his own food, another cat's share of food, and possibly another cat. He must be tipping the scale at sixteen pounds.

You see what I go through? Help me, readers! Send albacore packed in oil! -- BtC

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


So I haven't said much about the new house. It's somewhat like what I do with knitting. "I'll take a picture of my progress. Well, maybe I'd better finish the sleeve first. O.K., now I'll talk about it. On second thought, maybe I'll wait to post about it until after I've seamed the body."

I'm doing the same thing with the house. I didn't want to put up any pictures before we were in escrow, because they might not have accepted our offer. I didn't want to put up any pictures before the home inspection, because we might have been so horrified by the home inspection that we didn't take the house. At this point, there are very few things that could stop us. I don't think it's going to hurt to post a picture or two.

The picture above is obviously the view into the kitchen. It's not the Award Winning Kitchen, but it's bright and pleasant, and I think with a little paint and some time to re-learn how to use electric appliances, we'll be just fine.

Here are three of the seven raccoons that wandered along the fence during the home inspection. They looked like a happy troupe. What's not clear in this picture is that there is a drainage culvert below the fence, and several feet of terraced hillside between the culvert and the decks. I had this vision of Lucy racing madly toward the fence to chase the wild creatures, falling off the terraces and breaking her leg in the cement drainage ditch. We'll have to fence in the upper part of the yard for her. Also, my often imperiled compost worms are going to be put in jeapardy once more. I'm hoping a fifteen pound barbell weight on the lid of their bin will keep them safe.

There are more pictures, but I think I'm going to hold them back for now. Don't want to jinx it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Beyond Thunderdome

EDITOR'S NOTE: Lucy's fine. She's entertaining herself by rolling around on the carpet. If she were less busy, she'd thank you for your concern. This is not a sad post.

Yes, there's knitting content coming. Yes, there's house news. I'll get to it this weekend.

You know what's more important? That we stop and take a minute to acknowledge and be thankful for groups like BadRap.

Several years ago, one of my co-workers sent out an e-mail asking for help. I probably still have it somewhere in my archives. The gist of it was, "Please help! There's a sweet dog at the shelter, and she doesn't have much time. I'll find another home for her if someone will just get her out of the shelter!"

I'm a sucker, so of course I called him. "Tim, how much time are we talking about?"

"You'd have to decide by the end of today. She's only got a few hours. Do you have time to drive up there right now?"

"Well, I'm at work, so it might be kind of tough. What kind of dog?"

"Lab-pit mix. C'mon. Nobody will miss you. Meet me in the parking lot!"

We drove twenty-five miles up to the Martinez animal shelter. I knew the moment I saw that gaping smile that I couldn't let her take that long, last walk. I called Accountant Boy when I got back to my desk.

"You're not really asking me in a way that lets me say 'no', are you?"

"Awwwwww honey! We can't let her DIE!" It came out of my mouth as a distinctly Lucy Ricardo wail. That's how she got her name, by the way.

"Do I have time to at least meet this dog before we bring it home?" It turned out that he didn't. I ended up adopting a dog that he'd never seen before.

Still, I was concerned. The Engineer and Big Guy had both owned pit bulls, and both dogs had been more than a little cat-aggressive. There'd been tragedies. "We'll save her, but Tim, you MUST find someplace else for her. We won't risk Buddy's safety. We made him a promise. We're giving you a chance to find her a permanent home."

As everyone other than the two of us knew, we were her last chance. As the weeks went by, it became apparent that Tim wasn't going to find another sucker to take a hyperactive, burly black pitbull off our hands. Problem was, every time we tried to bring her in from the back yard, she went after Buddy. She had a lot of territory issues, and God knows what else from her life before meeting us. "She's a good dog, and she's trying so hard, but we CAN'T KEEP HER!" Much weeping and hand wringing followed. "Maybe there's some pitbull rescue that can take her."

Enter BadRap. We called them, hoping they'd just, I don't know, sweep in and take her somewhere else. Naive, sure, but we didn't know any better. We didn't know how overtaxed their extensive volunteer and foster care system was, didn't think that if Lucy was already in a good home, she was infinitely better off than the dogs that they were still valiantly trying to pluck from the shelters. As much as they wanted to help, they didn't have a foster home for her.

"Are you sure you can't keep her? She sounds like a real sweetheart."

"We tried to introduce her to our cat, and she tried to EAT HIM! It was HORRIBLE!"

"How did you introduce them?"

"We had her on a leash, and we let him out of the bedroom, and..." We basically described the second half of 'Beyond Thunderdome'. Two pets enter, one pet leaves. "...yeah, I guess I can see where that'd go wrong..."

There was laughter on the other end of the line. I was then gently and good-naturedly informed that we hadn't done the introductions right at all, and that we should give it another try, this time with a crate and a little more control. We followed her recommendations, and you know the rest of the story.

So since then, I've been a big cheerleader for BadRap. It gives me great pleasure to link to this news article. Look at how, even in the middle of such horror, there can be good.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Glass Table Gator

"You guys? Hey, you guys? You know what I really like? I like you, and I like Buddy, even though he wants to claw my face off, and I like my rope, and I like you, and I really like El Pollo Loco, so I was thinking that maybe you could drop some chicken under the table, you know, if you wanted to do that, because that would make me really, really happy. By the way, this is Lucy. Umm...hi!"

Oh, such bad, bad habits we've stopped actively discouraging in her this summer. She does this thing where she gets as flat onto the floor as she possibly can be, then follows our movements with just her eyes. "Aww, but look at her! She's so cute! And she has cancer! Give her half of your dinner, just this once. We'll start making her obey again tomorrow."

Nothing new on the house front, except that the trouble in the mortgage market is holding us up. If a high tide raises all boats, the inverse is also true. This current ebb is stranding the whole fleet. Without going too far into it, I'll just say that if Accountant Boy and I can't get a reasonable rate on a home loan right now, nobody can.

I'm only an hour away from finishing the chimera that was once Shaped Lace Tee/Krista/Bella. All that's left is weaving in the ends. More on this later.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Inner Monologues

From left to right:




"That fill flash is going to make me look like Satan. Wait a tick. Maybe I AM Satan. Who's to say I'm not? I wonder if any of these people know that they're in my presence. Glowing red eyes, supremely bad attitude, distrust of any food that can be prefaced with the phrase "spicy buffalo-style", that doesn't make me Satan. That makes me French. I wonder if any of these people know I'm French?"

* * * * *

The routine, she is blown all to Hell and gone.

Accountant Boy and I have decided that, as beautiful as our little house has become over the past few years, we're never going to stop referring to it as our "little" house. Deciding that we were, in fact, living in a charming starter home, and that we could afford to live in a home that doesn't need qualifiers like "starter" or "little", we launched a home search.

On our first weekend out, we fell hard for a multi-level contemporary house with a view of the valley. There's a long story about it being snatched from under our noses and then subsequently becoming available, only to then not hold up to our scrutiny and criticism. Let's just say she was pretty in the club lighting, not so pretty in the daylight. I've already bought a house with water damage, sewer problems and a stove that spills gas into the kitchen, thank you very much. I'm not falling for that shit twice. Anyway, the take-away from that story is that we spent a lot of time looking over the property report from old Coyote Ugly there, and it made us realize that we had some work to do on our own home before having it appraised or, God forbid, put on the market.

Work. That's what we've been doing for the last two weeks. Work. Trimming, patching, sanding, painting, grouting, pruning, scraping and cleaning. No knitting. No long cardio sessions at the gym. Very little cooking. Too many burritos. Not enough couch time with Buddy. (I am displeased, the Woman. Severely displeased. --BtC) Like I said, routine shot right to Hell. Now that the appraiser has come through, and it's looking somewhat likely that Daisy and Falstaff will be renting our current house once we move into a new one, some of the pressure is off. We can get back into the good routine we had going during the early months of summer, with the gym, good dinners, and a little relaxation every once in a while.

I hope to get back into some knitting sometime soon, maybe once I regain the use of my right thumb.

* * * * *

The guy just to the left of me in the above picture? That's my cousin. We'll call him Scooby, because when we were all very young, he loved to imitate Scooby-Doo. He's also my real estate agent. We love him, because he isn't trying to sell us a bill of goods along with a home. He gives us an honest opinion. "You think this place smells like cat piss?" "I don't know, Scoob. I think it just smells like closed-up, overly warm house." "Nah. This place is a cat-pisser. Onward!"

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Me: "I still can't believe that Donatella is moving to Palos Verdes."

Daisy: "I know. It's weird."

Me: "It's been a weird summer. My shredder exploded in my face, and then my toenail fell off, and then my dog got the dog cancer, and now Donatella's leaving us. Everything's strange. I am displeased."

Daisy: "I think if you purchased that bag of yarn from the bargain bin, you'd feel better."

Me: "You think?"

Daisy: "Put it up to your face."

Me: "You know how well that works as a deterrent." I put the yarn up to my face for the color test. It brushed against the underside of my chin. "Oh, God. It's merino and silk."

Daisy: "Don't you feel better already?"

Me: "I don't know. I still feel unsettled and discontented. What do you think about this little bag of Berroco Zen? I could make a tank top out of the six balls in here."

Daisy: "I think you've had a hard summer, and you deserve a treat."

Me: "How hard do you think my summer has been? 'Cause there are eight skeins of Tartelette in this bag at $28. Ooh, look! The silvery band is actually iridescent lavender and blue!"

Daisy: "I have no idea why you're even asking me. You know my answer is going to be 'yes'."

Do I still knit? Not as often or as prolifically as I'd want. You know what I do more frequently and with more success? Buy beautiful yarn.

In other news, The Engineer is in China for two weeks. Lucy is currently in full remission and is looking fit and trim. My nemesis, the haunted soda machine, has returned. All I wanted was a damn Coke, you bastard! Why? WHY???

Son of a BITCH!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Turtle Power

For many years now, Accountant Boy has affectionately referred to me as Turtle. I think it stemmed from my need to have a good, solid shell around me into which I can retreat, and also my willingness to push forward with the weight of the entire world on my back. In many ways, I'm more like a hermit crab, but Turtle sounds cuter than Crab, so Turtle stuck.

He's to the right of me here, saying, "Paddle! Use your turtle powers!"

So we went camping this weekend. We put up our tent, referred to as "Tent Mahal", "The Chateau", "The Biltmore", "Pickfair", and "Huge-Ass Tent", unpacked our stuff, arranged everything in the shell just the way I liked it. We bought the tent on sale from In our defense, we'd never seen it in person. We had no idea it'd be this big. When we realized what we'd done, we decided to roll with it, really make it ridiculous. Note the tassles on either side of the doorway. What you can't see, because I didn't take pictures of the interior of the back room, are the silk comforter and pillows, the battery-operated ceiling fan and light, and the queen-sized inflatable mattress that doesn't take up even half of the floor. Last year, because I didn't go on the trip, A.B. stayed in the tent by himself, which made its extravagances even more obscene.

Look at it in comparison to the other tents. Accountant Boy is more than six feet tall. He can stand without stooping in this tent.

Breakfast on the morning of the hike. I took this picture to illustrate how huge the guy next to A.B. is.

The hike consisted of a three mile climb up a moderately steep fire road, followed by a short descent to the river. The river portion alternated between short swims across slow-moving pools, and miles and miles of climbing across exposed river rocks. In previous years, there had been more water in the river. I was given to believe that there would be more floating downstream. Instead, there was this.

I know I've mentioned my frightening lack of depth perception before. Here's where it really becomes a handicap. "Honey, just pick your line and WALK. You're going to be way more tired if you hover over each rock before you step on it." When I tried to follow A.B.'s advice, I'd invariably badly overreach and end up stretched out between two boulders, or completely miss my next step. It didn't occur to me until the next day that the root of the problem was my eyesight. I tried to pick my line and walk it, but I just couldn't tell how far away the next step was going to be.

Most of the way, A.B. helped me by actually holding my hand as I hopped tentatively from boulder to boulder. There are no pictures of this, as we two were alone for most of the hike. Soon after this shot, we lost sight of everyone else and didn't catch up again. I know he would have been up with the front group if he hadn't stayed back to help me. I love him for this.

Some of it was a lot of fun. There were watery points, and features that wouldn't have been visible if the river had been higher. Take this slide for example. I'm told that last year, it was completely submerged.

We weren't an outdoorsy family when I was young. I think this might have been the second time in my life that I'd been in a river. I kept looking down as I was pulling forward, exclaiming, "Look, honey! There's FISH!" Then, I'd turn back and find that I was a good thirty yards ahead of him. I have a strong, fast stroke. I loved the water. I wish there had been more of it.

What did I learn on this trip? I learned that I might actually like camping, maybe with a little less in the way of camping equipment. I know it's car camping, but that doesn't mean we have to fill the car with half the contents of our house, and a tent that's roughly half the size of our kitchen and dining room. Everyone at the campsite did this, to some extent. Yes, our tent was the biggest, but everyone had an embarrassingly large collection of supplies.

I learned that I'm a really strong swimmer and paddler. A.B. suggested that I might like rafting or kayaking. "Would I have to climb over two miles of algae-slick rocks with the boat on my back?" "Not usually, no." "Well, then. I think I'll love it."

We were the first two people to reach the bridge at the top of the trail. We stood side-by-side and stepped onto it together.

I love Accountant Boy. I didn't have to learn that on the camping trip. I already knew.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Stepping Back

The Arosa sleeve that I thought was too big? I didn't just think it was too big. It's too damn big. The other sleeve's cap shaping is going to be too square. Therefore, Arosa has gone underground for a couple of days/weeks/months/years until I can come to grips with reknitting that sleeve, and reshaping the other sleeve cap so that it's more round. It should have been so simple. I just can't look at in anymore. I can't.

Unfortunately, this has also temporarily soured me on Kristabella, which still only needs sleeves and a little neckline detail. This means that I'm stepping away from both of my works-in-progress. Desperately grumpy, I turned to Accountant Boy last night and bleated, "I'm not a craftswoman! I SUCK!" He suggested that I take a break for a few days, but that will never do. I need a new project. Further, I need a project unlike my current projects. No seaming, no sleeves, try on as you go, that kind of thing. I have the perfect thing in mind.

A couple of months ago, while planning for the camping trip we're going to take this weekend, I was browsing the Sierra Trading Post website. I needed a sleeping bag, and maybe a deeply discounted workout top. Quite by accident, I happened upon a long, flowing skirt with velvet applique. I did not need this skirt. I justified its purchase by saying that it pushed me over the free shipping limit, and that it would probably be too small for me. It's one of the dumbest financial things I do - buying more than I'd planned so that the shipping will be free. "Ah, I'll probably end up sending it back, anyway..."

Turns out that it isn't too small. I love it. Unfortunately, I don't have anything to wear with it. What's a girl to do? This girl took that skirt in hand, marched off to her second-closest yarn store and bought some perfectly matched, fairly expensive yarn with which to make a companion top for her bargain skirt. Yes, if I use all six cones of it, my little top will cost a whopping $96 plus tax, bringing the total of my 'bargain' outfit to about $147. And all I needed was a sleeping bag.

I'm going camping for the first time in my life this weekend, and I'm taking my six little cones of Anny Blatt Victoria with me for the car ride. It's going to turn into Coachella. Let me be more clear. It's going to turn into a wearable, appropriately sized Coachella. Or my cries of rage and anguish will be heard around the globe.

Ooh! I have exciting news and I haven't shared it yet. I have a Boyd Ultimate Sweater Machine! I traded one of my swifts and some yarn for it, in an excellent exchange with Megera from the Knittyboard. This is especially exciting because, given my recent woes, I've been muttering to myself, "Maybe I should just knit big-ass rectangles and stitch them together. Maybe that's all I'm capable of doing anymore. Knitted sack with arm and neck holes. Damned knitting..." Now I can knit all of the big-ass rectangles I want! I'm looking forward to using it. It's making me think about my hobby in a whole new way. Do I knit because I enjoy knitting, or because I want the finished product? If I attain some level of proficiency with the USM, will I ever knit a stockinette sweater by hand again?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sleevie Blunder

So how are things going with the Arosa pullover? Hmmm. That's a tough one to answer. On the one hand, it's been described as 'sloppy', and the sleeves still aren't done. Who dared call my handiwork sloppy? I did. Who agreed with me? Accountant Boy. The neckline is too loose, and I can't bring myself to rip it out and tighten it up. On the other hand, there's still hope for it. I think I can tighten up the neckline by changing where I've seamed the insert to the main part of the body. The sleeves, well, that's a different story. I tried a cap sleeve, but it was out of proportion with the rest of the sweater.

I then knit a 3/4 sleeve, which started out as a full-length sleeve but got demoted because I did some weird shaping at the wrist and decided the weird shaping would look less weird if it were at my elbow. I did all sorts of fancy shaping on the cap, but it looked crappy combined with the shaping on the body of the sweater, so I frogged it and reknit it. I then knit the other sleeve. In an expected turn of events, I've screwed up and knit the second sleeve about an inch wider than the first. I'm so tired of knitting it now that I don't plan to reknit the bigger sleeve to be smaller, or the smaller sleeve to be bigger. Yes, I took copious notes and yes, I followed them, except for the part where I noted how many stitches to cast on.

You might think this has soured me on the project. Wrong-o, dear readers. I'm looking forward to putting it all together tonight. It's got a sort of mid-century vibe to it, with a tailored look to the shoulder and a curvy front. It's very late-series 'Perry Mason' murderess/tennis star.

Lucy's been hanging out with me while I knit. Here she is, at my feet on the concrete patio, a couple of yards away from her very comfortable, cushioned bench. Like I said about this time last year, she's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I reached down to pet her after I took this picture. This caused her to sigh, haul herself to her feet, and wander back behind the barbecue.

I like it back here because it smells like delicious, and I like delicious. -- Lucy the Dog