Wednesday, March 28, 2007

cover me, darling please

Remember this dress? I was going to knit Elspeth from Rowan 37 to go along with it? It's been so long that I'm now having second thoughts. I'm not sure Elspeth is right for this dress, and having seen so many otherwise brilliant knitters having trouble with the fit, I'm concerned. Knowning how much crochet I'd have to do around the border has me more concerned. Spending time knitting and seaming and crocheting, and then finding it doesn't fit? That could very well break my will to knit, so fragile lately anyway. I've barely recovered from the Bella unravel. I can't go through that again.

So what should I do? I don't want a shawl because I don't want to have to hold it in place or tie all of that material at the front. I don't want just a shrug, because I have pretty broad shoulders, so shrugs don't usually fit the way I'd want. They ride up in my armpits, and they create the illusion of this vast expanse of skin across my upper chest and collar -- let's just say it, they make me look like a zaftig milkmaid. Not quite the look I'm going for here, so I settled on bolero. I have something like twenty-four balls of Baby Silk in this salmon color, and an equal number in seashell pink. I need a bolero or cropped sweater that will look good with this dress.

I'm open to anything, really. Lace, cables, loads and loads of stockinette, free pattern or one where I have to buy the book, whatever. Nothing where I have to look at a chart for every row, though. I'm done with that for a while. (I bound off the second front of Starsky last night.)

Please also consider that this is going to be worn to a June wedding. In Tulare, California. If Hell had a dry sauna, the damned of Tulare would walk into it and scoff, "Thermostat broken or something? It's chilly in here!" In other words, no suggestions where the pattern begins "knit with four strands of yarn held together."

Let's make this interesting. If you leave a comment for this post between now and midnight on April 4th, you get entered into a drawing to win one skein of Mountain Colors Weaver's Wool Quarters (350 yards of sport weight wool) in Ruby River, already wound into a neat little cake.

Please help, dear readers. Don't make me tie that friggin' shawl around my shoulders again.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Yeah, I got nothin'. I'm still knitting Starsky, and I'm a few inches away from the armhole shaping on the first front, and it's really boring to blog about, and it's the only thing I'm working on because I'm in that "knit until it's DONE" mode, and blah blah blah. I told Accountant Boy that I wanted it done and seamed by March 31st, because I want to wear it next weekend. We'll see how that works out.

Meanwhile, enjoy someone else's cats! These are my parents' cats, Romulus and Maggie. He's the big guy with the grey eyes, and she's the calico.

We didn't have cats when I was growing up, because back when they were newlyweds, my mom caught my dad's cat Smokey licking the butter out of the butter dish on the counter, and it convinced her that cats were wayward butter-lickers. As a result, we never had cats, and I never wanted one until I met Buddy the Cat. But that's another story.

(It ought to be a novel, the Woman. I'm endlessly fascinating. -- BtC)

Anyway, more than thirty years after the butter incident, my parents' neighbors moved and abandoned their two kittens, figuring that the little guys would fend for themselves. The kittens started hanging out on my parents' front porch, and my mom couldn't resist feeding them. This quickly turned into an hour-long evening ritual, where she'd feed them and sit on the porch and pet them. She named them Romulus and Remus. Remus was the scrapper of the two, and ended up losing an eye to an infection after a fight. He soldiered on for several years after that, but he failed to show for dinner a couple of years ago, and so then there was just Romulus on the porch. He gradually became more than a porch cat, spending a couple of hours a day skittishly wandering around in the house, learning how to be an indoor cat, learning to trust my parents to let him outside when he'd had enough of it.

I started hearing about another cat, a female that my parents called Rocky for her tendency to go into a boxing stance when playing. Rocky was another neighbor's cat, neglected but not completely abandoned. The neighbor didn't see the need to have Rocky spayed, so of course Rocky had kittens. Only one stuck around. My dad named her Maggie, after the character in 'Million Dollar Baby'. I hear Maggie stories every time I called home. My dad adores her. "Where's my girl?" he says every morning when he walks into the kitchen. She jumps up in the chair as he's sitting down, and he almost sits on her. "Get outta my chair, now. C'mon!" Then he tries to sit in another chair, and she jumps into that one before he can sit all the way back. It's a game they play.

Romulus and Maggie became fast friends, and that first picture is how they spend about a third of their day - alternately wrestling and sleeping in the dining chairs. They spend another third of the day curled up on my mom's bed, and the final third roaming the back yard. We should all be so lucky.

Neither one has tried to jump on the counter and lick the butter.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Strange Public Lives of Birds

Where I grew up, there wasn't much in the way of wildlife. I was born and raised in a town surrounded by heavily farmed land. We didn't have squirrels because there weren't enough trees clustered in one spot to support them. We didn't have ducks or geese flying overhead because we were dozens of miles from any natural wetlands. When you fly over the Central Valley and look down and see the fields all laid out like a patchwork quilt, and there doesn't seem to be any ungroomed land, that's pretty much correct. There's no wildlife because there's no wilderness.

Having grown up this way, I'm especially prone to irrational glee at the sight of squirrels, raccoons, and wild birds. "Honey, LOOK! Squirrel on a telephone wire!!!" Accountant Boy loves it when I shout like that when he's driving.

I can't help it. I've been late to meetings in the other building because I've stopped in the courtyard to listen to the geese honk as they fly overhead. Maybe it's this joyous wonderment that makes me pay more attention than most of the people around me, too much attention. Because lately, y'all? The birds have gone weird.

Exhibit A: Our office park has two resident wild turkeys. Perhaps the better term for them would be half-wild turkeys, because they're not exactly living the rugged, hardscrabble life. A woman from the first floor of my old building feeds them. She stands on the sidewalk and throws kashi at them, and they happily peck it up. Here's where it gets awkward. When the wild turkeys do, you know, what wild turkeys with a high-fiber diet do, she coos her congratulations to them. "Good turkey! Good poopies! Krrrrooowowowowoodle... (Strange cooing sound that she must think is comforting to them.) GOOD poopies!" They stare up at her, waiting for more kashi. I back away slowly.

Exhibit B: I was startled by the sound of ambulance sirens on the way into the office last week. We're right below a hospital, so it's not uncommon to hear sirens, but these were really loud. I guess the little sparrow in the nearby tree got startled, too. He flew right in front of me, and right into a window. "Dude!" I exclaimed, because I couldn't think of anything better to say, "Are you O.K.?" Like the bird understood me. But in a way, it was like he did, like he was saying, "Yeah, I'm an idiot. What the hell did I just do?". He fluttered a little bit in mid-flight, almost like he was walking off the hit, then turned and flew back to his perch in the tree. "Alright then," I said as I walked past. "You be more careful next time, 'kay?"

Exhibit C: Driving to work a few days ago, I kept pace with a couple of Canada geese, flying straight up the freeway. Not across the freeway, but directly above it, like they were commuting with me.

Exhibit D: Driving to work a couple of days ago, stopped at a light on Treat Boulevard, I saw a man riding a bicycle down the sidewalk. He turned to look back, and I swear it looked like he was making sure that his pet duck was following him, because there was a mallard coming up fast behind him.

Exhibit E: This morning at the Crow Canyon offramp, right out in the triangle of dirt between the ramps, two crows f&%king.

It's been a weird few weeks in avian observation. Human observation, too.

In other news, I'm still knitting, although I've slowed down a bit. I haven't figured out how to position my keyboard tray in my new cubicle. I realized this morning that my fingers hurt because I'm curling my wrists backward when I type. As a result, my hands are really sore, but I'm not going to let a little thing like that stop me. I finished the back of Starsky, and now I'm on to the fronts. I want to be done by April.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Six of Nine

This was my daytime home for six years. Six years. Most people don't stay with the same company for that long anymore, let alone in the same cubicle. Most of the people in my department were here when we moved into this space.

"Remember when we moved in here, and raided the upstairs floor for cubicle parts because we all wanted those cool accessory panels? I still have to have a coat hook over the side of one wall so that it'll stay in place."

"Remember when we set spring-loaded confetti traps in that office so that confetti would shoot out every time our old boss opened the door? Wish I'd know that was going to be my office when he left..."

"Remember when we stole all those desk lamps? It's amazing. We've been using them for six year and none of the bulbs burned out. Good lamps. I'm moving mine myself. I don't want anyone to steal it."

We've been a happy team for a long time. I've been with the company for almost nine years. That's today's gratitude. If I haven't said it before, here it is.

Gratitude: I'm grateful for my job and the people who work with me. They're an important part of my life.

But now, with a week and a half's distance between us, I'm happy to say that I don't feel that way about that cubicle. It looks pretty crappy with everything stripped out of it. If I were being honest about it, it didn't look much less crappy before I vacated it. I thought I was going to miss it, and I didn't want to move to the new floor, with the high-walled workspaces and no windows visible from my chair. I was wrong. My new workspace kicks ass.

The picture doesn't do its awesomeness justice, but trust me. It's awesome. This is easily the best space they've ever put us in. I have room to hang artwork, and I have this cool little space for my fountain.

It's all good. I need to get a little tray for my tea and water area, and then the decorating will be complete.
Even the boys have a place of pride on the bookshelf.

Oh, and I stole a schefflera from the old floor. Maybe six years from now, we'll be saying, "Hey, remember when we moved down here, and we stole all of those potted plants from the old floor, and you rolled that gigantic ficus across the courtyard on an office chair?"

Remember when I said that I thought there was a conspiracy afoot to keep me from enjoying a crisp, cold Coca-Cola? This is the reason, this monster of plastic and steel. It decides, seemingly at random, whether or not what you really need is a Diet 7up. You press the Coke button, it's a 50/50 shot that you'll get a Diet 7up. You press the Diet Dr. Pepper button, same thing. The guy in the next cube put a dollar in the machine once and, without pressing ANY buttons, got a Diet 7up. "It just shot it at me and spit out my change. I swear I didn't press anything. I think it's possessed."

Luckily, the movers gave us the machines from the other lunch room. How do I know? Don't they all look the same? I know, because I heard this from the team across the lobby from us. "I think that machine's trying to tell me I have a fat ass! I pressed the button for Pepsi, and it gave me a Diet 7up!"

Monday, March 05, 2007


Lucy waiting for us to remember that we resolved to make 2007 "Lucy's Year of Fitness".

It happens every year. The gym fills up right after Christmas with people we've never seen before. It's like it's a different gym. Sure, we still nod hello to the guy who looks like a short, buff version of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. I still get the pleasure of watching the soccer guy in the knee socks and headband run drills on the treadmill next to mine. When I can get a treadmill, that is. During January, it's not an easy task. The gym is overcrowded with these new people. Resolvers, I call them.

They come at it hard. Resolvers get on the elliptical trainers and pump their legs like they're trying to generate power for the city of Chicago, and they'll keep at it for a long, long time, longer than they're supposed to be on the cardio machines during peak hours. Resolvers take up all of the treadmills, speed-walking in their bright white cross trainers. They ride the stationary bikes like the devil himself is chasing them. "Well, I guess it's the rowing machine for me. Dammit. Resolvers on the rowing machines, too." The only area of the gym that isn't overcrowded is the free weight room, because I guess the racks of dumbbells scare them. For about five weeks out of every year, that's where you'll find Accountant Boy, Buff Lion and I. Soccer Guy? He's outside, running laps around the parking lot. No, there's no track around the perimeter of the lot. He's running in the lot, and drivers are swerving to avoid him when they come around the corner. He's a dedicated man, Soccer Guy.

Nothing against the Resolvers. I think it's great when people make an effort to change themselves, and these people are making one hell of an effort. They work really hard, I guess is what I'm saying. Too hard. Here's what happens every year. Come February, especially true this year when it happened exactly on February 1st, they give up. The gym returns to its normal state. I walked in on the first day of February this year and found every treadmill free. My favorite elliptical machines were standing idle. Nobody was doing anything misguided on the weight machines, like allowing the lat pulldown bar to hoist them up to the ceiling because they were lifting too many plates. Soccer Guy, with his terrycloth headband firmly in place, was stretching happily on the uncrowded floor behind the Stairmasters. Buff Lion and I nodded knowingly at each other at the drinking fountain. Resolver season had ended.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I am a Resolver. I made a lot of resolutions earlier this year, and seems to me that I haven't said anything about them in weeks. I've almost forgotten what they were. Funny. Looking back through my blog entries, it looks like my last resolution update was January 30th, one day before all of those enthusiastic new gym members said, "Screw it. I'm too tired. I'm going home tonight, but maybe tomorrow..."

I crashed hard in early February. "I can't keep up with all of this stuff that I said I was going to do. I wish I could just take today off from all of it." So I did. And then the next day, too, and the next after that. So I had too many balls in the air to juggle, and instead of letting one of them go so that I could easily manage the rest, I dropped all of them and walked away to have a beer. Ah, well. Never too late to pick them back up and try again.


1. Fitness - I've stuck with this, with a week off here and there. Haven't lost any weight, and I'm not sure my body fat has gone down, but it's still early in the year. I keep telling myself that it might take months to see the difference. Daisy and I have started swimming together.

2. Programming - I hit a plateau, one which I created for myself. I've learned just enough to do what I need to do, and then my ambition stalled out. I'm hoping that by writing about it here, I'll goose myself back into action. My annual review is this afternoon. That ought to help motivate me.

3. Knit from Stash - This one's still going really well. I knit the Three/Five/Seven Day sweater from my oldest yarn. The big project on my needles at the moment is Starsky, which is also being knit with stash yarn. I needed a portable project, so I pulled this yarn from my stash and started making a scarf.

Will I have enough to make the scarf long enough? I don't know, because I didn't measure, and I don't care. I have two skeins of it, so it's going to be as long as two skeins will allow it to be. My secret pal Purly gave me this yarn last year. I'm just happy to see it knit up.

4. Meet other knitters - I went to that knitting group two times, then found excuses, legitimate or not, to miss it every Wednesday since then (illness, depression, frogging madness, Stitches, catch-up gym time, "don't want to miss 'Most Shocking' on CourtTV"). We'll leave this one in negative status for now.

5. Call/E-mail/Write - Also a negative, because we STILL haven't made contact with our college friends.

The roundup - two resolutions positive, one somewhat neutral depending on how I spend this afternoon and the rest of my work week, two negative. That's not too bad, considering. I'm going to keep at it.

What about you? If you've resolved to do something this year, how's it going? Tell me a success story. Not going well? Unless your resolution was "Do (x) in the first two months of 2007 or miss your chance FOREVER", it's not too late.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

(K)Nights of the Old Republic

Hello, dear readers. It is I, Buddy the Cat. I just thought I'd drop in and chat with you for a moment. Oh, how I've missed you.

Straight off, I'd like to clear something up. It has come to my attention that the Woman has been discussing my gastric issues with the public. Yes, I have been a bit unstable in that area over the past year. Yes, perhaps I have done more than my usual share of regurgitating on the dark purple furniture, by the front door, under the kitchen table, and at the top of the stairs. I should be allowed to explain.

I am a creature of habit, dear readers. I like my days and nights to follow a rigid pattern. I'm quite intractable. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.

I am especially used to reclining on the chaise next to the Woman while we watch television, with one of my arms hanging over the edge so that I might lovingly caress the dog's ox-like flank as she lumbers past. It doesn't have to happen every night, but by that same token, it shouldn't be stopped abruptly and completely for weeks at a time.

Here is the crux of the issue. The Woman and the Man recently rediscovered 'Knights of the Old Republic' on the XBox. They spent hours playing, with either the man perched on the edge of the chaise, or the woman sitting further back but still managing to make my own reclining enjoyment impossible. God knows I tried to work with them. I tried curling up on behind the Man, but the fear of him leaning back and crushing me was too great for me to bear. I tried laying on the other couch, but it isn't as soft, and I always felt that I was sliding off of the front of it. When I tried to get a better hold on it, the Woman invariably commented on the extraordinary length of my claws and threatened to come at me with scissors. I could not win.

After several days, I could bear it no more. I attempted to tell the Woman and the Man that I was unhappy. I stood in front of them and howled my rage and anguish, but they ignored my cries of protest. By 'ignored', I of course mean 'yelled at me to "shut my pie-hole", then returned to their game'. I threw things at them -- car keys, pens, knitting supplies -- but they simply complimented me on the accuracy of my slap-shot, suggested that I join the NHL, and then returned to their game. Nothing worked.

Finally, I was forced to use the last weapon in my arsenal, the one thing I knew they wouldn't be able to ignore. "Dude...that meow only means one thing. Get the garage towels! HURRY!" Yes, 'dude'. You've pushed me beyond my limits. You, and the Wookie, and Jolee Bindo, and the Woman's computer boyfriend Carth Onasi, and your ridiculous obsession with that game. But I will not be ignored!

So, Buddy? You're telling everyone that you've been throwing up on the floor because we played a little too much KOTOR?

I've said I'm not proud of it, the Woman. But yes, that's the reason.

Doesn't have anything to do with the fact that sometimes you eat your food a little too quickly...

Because you starve me! I eat quickly for fear that you won't feed me again for days at a time! your food, which we feed to you every three hours, a little too quickly and can't keep it down, or that you're turning 15 this month?

Oh, I don't know, the Woman. Why don't you spend another three weeks playing video games, then go out of town for five days, and we'll see what happens, hmmm?

Remember when you used to kill and eat your own food, and you slept in the hollowed out base of a tree stump in the back yard? You were rugged. What happened to that cat?

You happened to him, the Woman. You saved him from that dangerous, cold, raccoon-filled life. Though he complains, your Buddy loves you, the Woman.

Oh, Buddy! I love you, too, you noisy, grumpy old fella.

Sorry about your shoes.