Thursday, April 26, 2007

Germander Sage

Pretty #3: Mmmmmm...Artyarns Regal Silk. The color variations aren't in the yarn. They're due to the reflected light from my kitchen window. I don't know what this is going to be yet, but whatever it is will shimmer like nobody's business.

Don't look at me like that. I couldn't help but buy it. Yes, it's an addition to my stash, and yes, I said I wouldn't do that. But eleven dollars a skein! C'mon, now. How was I supposed to say no to that?

Know what we haven't done in a while? Resolution update! Wheeee!

--Still exercising, although I'm starting to resent how it's cutting into my relaxation time. I swam a mile yesterday, and it didn't utterly destroy me. That's a big accomplishment for me. I love the water, but I'm not a distance swimmer. What I mean is, I'm not yet a natural at it, but I'm getting there. That gets me thinking about what I say about myself, what I think about myself. I've always thought of myself as 'not an athlete'. "Everybody's going hiking? I'll hang out at the tent with our stuff. I'm not a hiker." What that means is "I'm afraid I won't be able to keep up, and I'm afraid I'll slip on the rocks, and I'm afraid I'm not good enough..." It's like a delusion of grandeur in reverse. And it's a load of crap, but after this much time, my whole sentient life, it's the way I think. If you watched 'Dead Like Me' on Showtime, it's like George's narration over the episode where she joins Dolores' bowling league. "Why was I so afraid..." By the way, if you haven't seen 'Dead Like Me', it's a gem, and it's available on Netflix.

I told Accountant Boy about my hiking fears, and he replied, "Your balance is better than mine, and you're not going to have any trouble keeping up. You just need to believe it." That's my new mini resolution. Believe it.

--Be a Better Programmer - still working on it. I'm actually starting to believe that I AM a programmer, not someone who accidentally fell into the job and hasn't been found out yet. Other people apparently already think of me as the former, but I'm convinced that I've duped them. One of us is wrong, them or me. It's probably me. Same mini resolution as above. Believe it.

--Knit from stash - yes! I love how Cobweb is knitting up in my second-oldest cache of stash yarn. I'd show pictures, but I've decided to knit all of the beaded portions first, and there's already a nice picture of beads and yarn in a previous post. Pictures when I get to the lace, I promise. I've only added that Regal Silk to the stash since the cataloging.

--Meet knitters - I suck. More specifically, my fitness regime is taking priority over knitting group. That mile in the water took more than an hour last night, after which I went home and collapsed on the couch. Technically, I DID meet some knitters. It's just been a long, long while since I did it. Does that count as a complete resolution?

--E-mail friends - Our friends? The ones we never respond to? They sent us a birth announcement for their baby the other day. So now we have a fresh, new reason to respond to them. We're on it, distant college friends! In a tragic technological turn, the computer that held all of our addresses and phone numbers suffered a catastrophic hard drive failure a few weeks ago. We have to rebuild from scratch, because we don't have any contact information backed up anywhere else. In a hilarious twist, this means that the only people for whom we have contact info are our distant college friends, because we've got their address from the birth announcement envelope. Looks like this resolution's getting new focus, whether we like it or not.

Even I'm bored by the resolution posts, but they're keeping me honest. It's the end of April, and I still know what they are. That's an accomplishment in itself.

Hey, know what all of that bark, the nitrogenated black bark that I shoveled for seven hours, those tons and tons of bark did for the garden? Everything's gone wild. The nitrogen is already seeping into the soil.

Gratitude: Every evening when I come home from work, this is the first thing I see when I open my car door.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Auburn Sunset

The swatch for Cobweb, caught in the last warm rays of an April sunset.

I decided not to go with two bead colors, so I'm replacing the lighter beads with a purl stitch. I think it's going to add a neat textural component to the piece. Besides, the beads are just slightly too tight for a needle and the yarn to go through, so I'm having to twist the end of the yarn up with wax and thread it through them that way. No way am I doing that for twice the number of beads.

Yes, I have finished Starsky and I've worn it twice. I just don't have a picture of it yet. We have such grand plans for the photo essay. If they don't come to fruition by the end of the week, I'll take some standard FO pictures of it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

snippet of a conversation

"...I have a free ticket on Southwest that we can use, and we can stay at that really nice hotel I was telling you about with the world class spa."

"Uh huh..."

"...and, AND it's a weekend, so we wouldn't have to take time off of work."

"Why don't we see if it's going to be somewhere closer later in the summer?"

"But it WON'T be! It's going to be back in New York in July, and it doesn't ever come this far west, not ever!"


"Please? PLEASE???"

You'd think I was talking about some traveling show, and you'd be right. More on this later.

Spring Flower Flash

O.K., so I have knitting content, I finished Starsky, and I have updates on every little thing, but forget about that now. I'm busy with my seething frustration and rage toward every project on my desk.

Here. Stare at the Transvaal daisies.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You Load Sixteen Tons

Look at the pretty!

Why are we staring so intently at the unbelievably vivid carnations today? We are feeling reflective. We are trying to find our calm, our serene center. We are trying to look inward to see ourselves, to see what moves us, what drives us...

...why in the blue blazes of Hell we don't ask other people to do any work for us. Why, when we decided that both yards needed new mulch, we didn't even consider asking for help, paid or otherwise. I don't know why I don't think to do it. Maybe I'm too stubbornly self-reliant. Maybe I'm afraid people will say no, or if they say yes, that they'll disappoint me. We've had that before, where people have offered to help, then didn't show up when it counted. It'd be better if they just said no in the first place. So maybe that's it. Maybe I don't want to put anyone in that position.

"So why don't you hire people to do it?" This one's easy. Accountant Boy says that it's because he's from New Jersey, and that means he doesn't trust anybody. It's nonsensical. Just go with it.

"I'm not letting that guy in my house! What if he's casing it so he can come back later and rob us?"

"Babe, he's the alarm installer."

"Which means he'd know which windows are wired. That makes me doubly suspicious..."

So when the truck from MacAlvey's pulled up with thirteen yards of wet, black bark, we knew what we had to do, and we knew we were on our own in doing it.

"I'll grab the flat-nose shovel."

A.B. worked on the bender board in the front yard, and I started moving the bark. He's better at that detailed work, so I figured I'd do the brute labor for an hour or so, then hand the shovel over to him.

I don't know what happened next, how I got into the groove of it, but I didn't put down the shovel. I worked at it for six and a half hours straight. Fill the wheelbarrow, push the wheelbarrow, dump the bark, kneel down and push the bark around the trees and shrubs, repeat. For six and a half hours.

My neighbor from across the street offered to help, but I declined his offer. "Up to this point, every shovel of bark off of this pile has been scooped by me. I kinda want to see how far I can go."

In order to transport landscape materials without half of it blowing away on the freeway, you have to spray it down. This stuff showed up sopping wet. In addition to making it very, very heavy, the water made it very, very messy. My gloves, the heels of my hands under my gloves, and the legs of my jeans turned black. I had fingerprints on my face from my attempts to brush my hair out of my eyes.

What might not be apparent is that the pile started off at more than four feet tall, ten feet long and eight feet wide. I took down more than half of it by myself. I don't know by weight how much of it I moved. Each wheelbarrow load felt like it weighed about eighty pounds.

Accountant Boy, with the help of our neighbor Mr. Wolf, finished the bender board, finished turning the petanque court into a grape arbor/lounge area, and cleaned and reorganized the side yard. I kept shoveling. "Honey, stop. I can take over now."

"No! Still working! If I stop, I won't be able to start again! Still good to shovel!"

"And that's why you should stop now, while you're still standing. Besides, you're making me look bad in front of the neighbors."

"But I worked so hard on it by myself..."

"How about if we take your picture with the pile so we can remember how much you did?"

"Can I climb it?"

"Of course."

"Did you see how much I did??? I'm like SUPERGIRL!"

We kept working for hours after that, because that's what we do. A.B. brought loads of bark to the back yard and I spread them out around the roses and the lavendar bushes. We finished in the dark.

"This is kind of like the old days, huh?"

"If it were like the old days, we would have brought out the shop lights and worked until two in the morning."

I don't have a good picture of the back yard yet, but here's the front. I did all of this myself -- about twenty-five wheelbarrows worth of it.

I had to use a pumice based foot scrub on my hands and arms to get the black film off of them. As I leaned over in the shower to try to get the hot water to spray right on my lower back, I noticed that my knees were also coal black. It took forever to get all of that stuff off. I still have a couple of streaks on the backs of my arms. My hands were so sore on Sunday that I couldn't pick up a can of pineapple.

I think it was all worth it, though. I'm glad we did it instead of paying someone to do it for us.

This is the other carnation. It's less shockingly fuschia. Look at it grow! It's going to be a good year out in the garden.

What of Starksy, you ask? I'm still, STILL at least a foot away from being done with the belt. Now that the muscles in my forearms don't feel like they're on fire, I should be able to finish it off.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Winner, Winner!

We have a winner! Congratulations, Jo! You've got some Mountain Colors headed your way. Send your mailing info to [redacted, because I have an unusual surname], and I'll get it into the mail Monday.

I think I've picked...and of course it's not the easiest pattern. I'm going to give Cobweb from Rowan 40 a try, possibly even with the flowers. I have this vision of them sort of matching the flowers in the embroidery band of the dress, and that'd be cool. I love all of the patterns, so when I give up on Cobweb in a fit of rage and despair, I'll have plenty of runners-up to choose from. This is also really helpful because I have a lot of dresses, due to a brief three-way love affair with eBay and Betsey Johnson, and I haven't worn them because I don't have anything to wear with them. This Spring's going to be the Season of the Bolero.

I'd say more about them, and how much I appreciate all of the suggestions, but I've got to run outside and secure some tarps to my driveway before MacAlvey's Nursery dumps thirteen cubic yards of bark there. Sometimes Accountant Boy and I go a little crazy with the home improvements. There'll be pictures later, if we survive the day.

Monday, April 02, 2007


First off, thanks to everyone giving suggestions so far on the future shrug-o-lero. I've had a great time seeing so many patterns that I hadn't come across before. I'm putting all names in the big hat at 11:59 on Wednesday night and drawing out a winner for the Mountain Colors. There's still time to enter, and I'm still undecided on the pattern, so don't be shy.

Oh, so many things happening, no new pictures.

Accountant Boy and I got it in our heads that we should finish landscaping the yards this year, so we've spent the last three weekends working outside. We also got it in our heads that Daisy and Falstaff's yard would be easy to landscape if we applied some principles of xeriscaping to it, so we've actually been working in three yards simultaneously. My main jobs were bark shoveling and sprinkler line maintenance. My ankles ache from all of the time spent sitting on my heels to adjust the drip manifolds. The pain wakes me up at night. Note to self: give up dream of being an MLB catcher.

Starsky's almost done! Just the belt left, now. The boring, boring belt. No, I won't call it done and take pictures and be all proud of it without the belt, because it's not completely done, and if I'm allowed to pretend like it is at this point, it never will be. Note to self: knitted belts suck.

Buddy's old owner swung by yesterday while we were toiling in the yard and asked if he could see him. Buddy has now been with us longer than he was with them and, with all of the time and money and love we've poured over him in our eight years, I don't think there's any doubt that he's our cat now. I know the old owner just wanted to say hello to him. Old owner's a sentimental guy. He still owns the house he grew up in on the other side of our back fence. He still has Buddy's mom after fifteen years, along with a few new cats that they adopted to keep her company. They're a big-hearted family, and he's a good man. When I brought Buddy to the door, he didn't quite recognize the booming voice of his old owner and he pushed back against my shoulder. I felt kind of bad about it, because I could see that the old owner's feelings were a little hurt by it. "You guys should come by when you have a few minutes to sit down inside. He doesn't understand why I'm holding him in the open doorway. He'll come right up to you if you're sitting on the couch..." We said that, and we meant it, but still. Note to self: formulate plan for spiriting Buddy away in the dead of night and living on the run with him, should his old owners decide to reclaim him.

Resolutions? Oh, yeah. Those friggin' things. Well, the exercise part's going well, and it's been three weeks since I had a Casper's chili cheese dog. I swam fifty laps in a row last Thursday without using the kickboard, and I felt like I finally understood how to breathe and swim at the same time. Knit from stash is still on track since I've been knitting the same damn sweater for the past four months, and it's out of stash yarn. Be a better programmer is hit-and-miss. I have some days where I feel really good about it, and some days where I don't know what I'm doing, in both the literal and figurative senses. Oh, and we're the crappiest friends in the world, because we STILL haven't written to any of our long-lost pals. So I'm still three for five on the resolutions, but at least it hasn't gotten worse.

Gripey as this sounded, I'm actually in a great mood. My yards are going to be lovely this year, and Daisy and Falstaff's front yard will be, too. The peach tree might actually produce peaches for the first time. I'm almost done with a really involved sweater, just in time for lighter, simpler Spring knitting. I'm getting stronger and sleaker. My ankles hurt, uh, less? Yeah, that's a good thing. My ankles hurt less today than they did last night.

Oh, and since I'm throwing everything but the kitchen sink in this post, here's a gratitude. I'm grateful for this lovely April day, and that I'm less than two hours away from stepping out into it. Maybe I'll go home and take some pictures.