Thursday, May 31, 2007


First, a note to anyone who might be feeling bad about laughing at the last post -- please laugh. It became funny about twenty seconds after the explosion, like Saturday-morning-cartoon-funny. I'm fine, even though my frayed eyelashes are still getting hung up when I blink. "Your eyes are fine. Your eyelashes did their job, alright," said my optometrist. "Oh my GOD!" said the girl at the Lancome counter. "I'll take a tube of that lash conditioner, please," said I.

"Who keeps doing that? Guys? Who keeps filling the friggin' candy jar by the coffee pot with those little Baby Ruths? Smith, is that your doing? STOP IT! How many times must I tell you to put stuff in there that I DON'T LIKE? Would it kill you to buy Almond Joys once in a while???"

Damned candy bars. I was just going over there to get a spoon for my very healthy, sensible yogurt, and I happened to open the jar. Now I feel all sugary and ashamed.

On the plus side, the damned candy bars are sitting on a sleeve of Cobweb, about three centimeters away from the start of the cap shaping. I realized the other day that I really don't have as much time as I thought I did before the wedding, so I'm throwing all of my knitting time into this one project until it's done. I'm still loving the lace pattern and the yarn. Putting the Baby Ruths on it showed me that it's going to look good with all kinds of colors, not just coppery earthtones. I think it'd be really nice over something blue.

I also realized that I like seeing knitters' works-in-progress at all stages, and that by saying things like "still knitting (x), but it's too boring to show you", I was doing exactly the opposite. So no more "I'm knitting the sleeve, but who the Hell wants to see a picture of a half-finished sleeve, anyway?" posts. I know I'd want to see a picture of a half-finished sleeve. I love pictures.

Accountant Boy and I were in San Francisco on Sunday. We had coffee at Caffe Puccini. The couple on the other side of the window sat down, had some pie, and then fell fast asleep. His head is tilted as far back as it can go, and his mouth is wide open. You can't see the woman in this picture, but she's face-down on the table. It looks like someone came by and blackjacked the both of them.

My toe got worse, but I still maintain that the nail isn't going to fall off. The force of my will is going to hold it in place. I think. It's not at all pretty, but it's holding its own. On the off chance that you're reading this while enjoying a fine meal, I've made the picture quite small. You're welcome.

Sunday evening, lying in bed, unable to sleep after my ordeal, I complained bitterly to Accountant Boy. "You know, between my gangrenous toe, and my knee, and my crispy hair, and the burn on my arm," because the blast also took the hair off of my forearm, the one I always burn when cooking, "I might as well just admit that I'm turning into a hideous caricature of a person. I'm going to end up wearing an eye patch, rolling around in a wheelchair with a peg leg and a HOOK for a HAND! And my tooth hurts, so I might as well tell Dr. Alves to put a big, metal cap on it, on ALL of my teeth while he's in there. I'll roll into the office tomorrow in my armor-plated wheelchair with my burnt, bald head and my metal teeth and my eye patch, while Buddy squirms in my lap as I try to pet him with my HOOK HAND LIKE A VILLAIN FROM A JAMES BOND FILM AND..."

"...the brakes on your wheelchair will squeak."

"You're an asshole, A.B."


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Yosemite Sam and the Powder Keg

From: SuzannaBanana
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 8:53 AM
To: Bosses
Subject: Out'll never believe it

O.K., so I know I've come up with some daffy reasons for missing a day of work now and then, and you guys are very good-natured about accepting them as true, which they always are. I'm just not sure you're going to believe this one, so I've attached pictures.

Say it's Memorial Day, and you're looking for something to do. Your beloved is diligently working on your finances, because your beloved has watched too many hours of the Suze Orman Show. You stroll into your home office, bored and hoping to find something to occupy your time. "Hey," you think to yourself, "maybe I'll finally catch up on that filing and shredding."

You put a piece of paper in the shredder, but the shredder does not activate. You look down to see that the shredder is plugged in, that it's turned on. "Hmmm. I wonder what's wrong with this damn shredder," you think to yourself. "Is it really not working?" You lean in closer to make sure.


Your shredder explodes with a blinding, white-hot flash of light that blasts you right in the face. You spring up and away from the shredder without thinking. The next four thoughts in your head are, in this order, "Holy S&%T!", "It smells like burnt hair!", "Yep, both my eyes still work," and "Holy S&%T!". Your beloved runs in to see what happened, and immediately afterwards grabs the camera.

"Can I wash my face???"

"No! We need to document this."

"Ah, dammit..."

So, ummm, yeah. I can't come in to work today because my shredder exploded, taking out a good portion of one of my eyebrows, half the length of the eyelashes on my right eye, and about half an inch of hair around my forehead. My carefully sculpted eyebrow still looks its full length in the full-face picture, because I hadn't yet absently rubbed my thumb across it, then watched in disgust as it cascaded down onto the bathroom floor. You know how cartoon characters look after a bomb explodes in their faces? I had no idea that it actually happened like that. I did not push my hair up and away from my face like that. It was all from the blast

Normally, this wouldn't keep me away from work, because I'm hard-core. If I'm not contagious, I'm dragging myself into the office, on only two limbs if necessary. However, my right eye feels dry and scratchy, and my vision's a little hazy out of it, so I'm going to my optometrist to have him check out my cornea. I don't mess around with the vision. I was going to have to leave at two to get to the dentist anyway, so it all works out, except for the part where a seemingly harmless piece of office equipment blew up in my face and ruined my day off.

Totally O.K. to laugh. I'll see you tomorrow.


Thursday, May 24, 2007


Well, I'll be damned. Here I am, ambulating around on my two bruised feet like a sucker, when all I had to do was rent myself a Scoot-a-Long? Boy, do I feel stupid. Go read that article. It'll make you weep into your hands.

What you might not be able to see in the picture above, taken in front of the lovely meditation area of my expansive work cubicle, is that my second toenail is not the same healthy pink of those around it. It's a sort of dusky lavendar. The shiny bit at the base of it is trying hard to be a blister, and I'm trying equally hard to stop it. I don't think the toenail's going to turn darker or, even worse, fall off. I think, and those around me who've seen it agree, that it's just bruised.

What the hell did I do to myself, you ask? I ran, O.K. mostly speed-walked, the Bay to Breakers 12K without doing any pre-race training. That's the damage done by shoving my toes into the fronts of my shoes with every stride for better than seven miles.

"I don't want to have to wash a spoon. Besides, this is how the athletes do it."

This was the line to get to the starting line. We didn't cross the actual starting line until sixteen minutes into the race. The lead runners had already crested the Hayes Street Hill, while we were standing on Spear Street, getting pelted in the back by corn tortillas.

Here's me at the top of the hill at about the 45-minute mark. I'm smiling because it's a steep hill and I'm looking down the other side of it.

Also, I'm smiling while looking down at this throng of humanity. Here's a question for you. Say you're planning to run, or at least briskly walk, several miles through San Francisco. You'd bring some water, maybe a protein bar. You put on your good walking shoes. You might think to wear a hat. I didn't, and the part in my hair is sunburned as a result, but most people would think to do it. You shove your supplies in your backpack. After all of that planning, would you think, "Ah, screw my running clothes. I'll go naked," throw your pack over your shoulders and march on out? Me neither. It takes a special kind of person, and usually it's a guy, to think that thought and then carry it through.

I call that guy 'Bunsey'.

An eternity, or maybe only two hours later, we crossed the finish line. I hate how I look in this picture, but Accountant Boy loves it, and it does show the finish line. It doesn't even look like I'm running, which I most certainly am doing here. When we rounded the corner and hit the Great Highway, we decided to finish big.

You know what'd be a great idea? Have people run a race, then put the festival at the end of the race another mile and a half beyond the finish line. That's smart thinkin' there. But I'm smiling anyway, in spite of the extra walking, both to get to the starting line and to get to Footstock, because we did it. I figured out how much actual walking we did that day, and it's about eleven miles, including the walk to the start, the race, the walk to Footstock, and the walk from the park up into the Sunset to catch the Muni to get back downtown.

Accountant Boy steps out in front of the camera. The race might actually have been harder for him than it was for me, because he had to keep slowing himself down so that I could keep up with him. He says I kept him fron going stupid-fast and burning out before the race was over. That's one more reason that I love Accountant Boy.

Next year, we're going to break the two-hour boundary. We're going to start training for it tomorrow, or as soon as my toenail reverts back to its normal color.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Blog Post 101

So that last, angst-filled post was my 100th post? Man, that sucks. This one's going to be SO much better. Thank you guys for the sympathy. It perked me right up.

Batty, no yarn therapy for me. I'm sitting on an enormous stash, and there are so many bundles of yarn in there with potential to be beautiful, that the one thing I'm NOT thinking about doing is buying more. I've replaced yarn therapy with extravagant clothing and shoe purchases at Ann Taylor Loft, where they very kindly made all of their clothes in exactly the right sizes and proportions this season, and even more kindly gave me a stylish new credit card with which to purchase said clothes. Dammit.

Jo, those crows are diving down the side of a strip mall holding a Starbucks, a sandwich place and a bank. Obviously, the artist hasn't ever been menaced by a flock of seagulls after dropping a bag of Fritos on the beach in Cayucos. That kind of thing'll scar you for life, man. Twenty-two years, and I'm still not over it. I still hear their ravenous cries and feel the frenzied beating of their wings against my neck. Sometimes, just the smell of corn chips brings it all back to me. I throw my arms up over my head and whimper. It makes team lunches at Quiznos interesting and emotionally perilous. But I digress.

Bobbi, thanks for the tag. Of course I'll answer it, because there's nothing I love more than talking about myself.

Seven Random Things About Me:

1. Every time I watch 'Independence Day', I cry during the scene where Jasmine and Dylan are running into the side chamber of that tunnel and their dog Boomer is still by their car. I don't know why, seeing as how I know Boomer lives and I've seen the scene several dozen times. When Jasmine calls, "Boomer!" and Boomer turns his doggy head in slo-mo, I get that lump in my throat, and I feel my face getting hot. "Dude! Are you really crying?" Daisy thinks it's funny.

2. I can cross my eyes and, while holding one of them in place, roll the other one around in all different directions. I can do this with either eye.

3. I'm a Coke drinker, and will go without a beverage if the only one offered is a Pepsi.

4. I dream in full, cinematic color. My dreams have panning shots and close-ups, cut scenes, and occasionally have original musical scores.

5. I don't have a middle name. When I was a little girl, I used to wish that my middle name was Michelle.

6. I have a celebrity crush on Makoto Nagano, the second man to achieve total victory by reaching the top of Mount Midoriyama and earning the title of Ninja Warrior.

7. I love 'COPS', especially episodes where the perps say, "I got no reason to lie to you, sir. I admit I was just lyin' to you. I'm bein' truthfull about that. Why're you handcuffin' me? SIR?!?" Oh, perps. How your drug-addled capers amuse me.

I'm tagging KnottyGnome, Jo, Ceallach, Batty and Ruth. If any of you have either already been tagged or just want to bow out, no hard feelings.

In knitting news, here's the back of Cobweb. I'm working on the sleeves now. It's amazing how much better this is going now that I've figured out what the hell is going on with the lace. As with Starsky, I had to take the instructions and translate them into a pattern that maybe only makes sense to me. Cobweb's charted lace pattern became "this is the row where I close up all the triangles" and "this is the row where everything stays the same". It also occured to me, post-ripping last week, that the increases and decreases had to be paired, and that on "close up the triangles" row", the closed triangle had to be flanked by two yarnovers to keep the stitch count even. Prior to realizing that, I'd knit along until I got to the end of the row, and if I didn't have enough stitches left to do the full increase/decrease pair, I'd do half of it. Then stitches would go askew, and I'd spend an hour trying to figure out why. Much better now that I've learned how to read my knitting.

"Yeah, that's great and all, but what about Bay to Breakers? Did you sleep through it, like you slept through the Bridge to Bridge Run last year?"

As a matter of fact, we did it, and we finished. More on that later.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Murder of Crows

I'm making great progress on Arosa, even though I'm only working on it at work. I'm up to the middle of the armhole shaping on the back. Yeah, it's not so interesting to talk about, but it's refreshingly simple to work on, soothingly meditative. I take it out to my car on my lunch hour and work on it while listening to 90s-at-noon on Live105. It's the best part of my workday. This yarn has a great drape. I also bought a bag of it in black/silver, and I'm thinking of remaking the IK Greek Pullover with it.

Cobweb was going well as well, and I'd hoped to have a finished picture of the back by today, but then I noticed that I'd screwed up the first and last repeats of the lace several rows earlier, and then I tried to drop the stitches and fix it, and then there was weeping and much gnashing of teeth. One hour later, I'd ripped back to where I was on Tuesday, and I think I got all of the stitches back on the needle, but I wisely decided to put it down for the evening and go to sleep.

That's all the knitting news.

I'm slacking on the gym. I'm blaming it on my knee being kind of tight and sore, but that's just an excuse. I'm burning out on work, on my fitness regime, on a lot of things.

Last night, Daisy noticed that Lucy has rubbed all of the fur off under her collar. I looked down at my newly baldnecked dog, looked up at Daisy, got teary-eyed and whispered, "That's horrible. I'm horrible. How did I let this happen? My poor, poor Lucy!"

"It happens. It's just HAIR. Calm down. It will grow back."

"Will it? Will it really?" My lip trembled.

"Dude! What's WRONG with you?!?"

"I need mashed potatoes and gravy, and I don't have the will to move off of this couch."

We were wallowing in our ennui last night, what with Daisy's freelancing job at the chocolate factory coming to an unexpectedly sudden end and my job/cars/finances/knees/pets/statuary seemingly slipping out of my control. I've stopped e-mailing people, stopped commenting on blogs, kind of stopped caring if anyone calls. Daisy's in the same boat. I think we're both a tad depressed. Hell, the only reason we're still keeping in touch is that we live next door to each other. Held down in our morass of apathy by our ill-defined malaise, we couldn't pull ourselves out of it enough to even find food. Falstaff saved us by driving to El Pollo Loco and buying us chicken dinners.

Today's looking a little better. I made an appointment for Lucy to see the vet about her obsessive licking and chewing. A.B. thinks she might be allergic to the bark, which would really suck, but I think it's probably more likely that she's allergic to the grass. She's been doing this for way longer than we've had the new bark. Anyway, I made the appointment for her, so that's checked off the long list. A.B. and I are run/walking Bay to Breakers on Sunday, probably way more walking than running, but we're going to do it. I've got Arosa in my bag and the weather's looking nice for a lunchtime knitting session. It's a good day.

On my way to work today, I saw my favorite outdoor jogger. I call him Superguy. He wears what I can only imagine are his only clothes suitable for exercise -- bright purple gym shorts, a shade of purple not normally found in men's sportswear, and a grungy white tanktop with the Superman logo emblazened across his big, round belly. I'm pretty sure the tank isn't supposed to fit him that way, that it's meant for a much taller man but it's the size he needed to cover his gut. He's a heavier gentleman, is what I'm trying to say. Oh, and it has a tear near one of the shoulders, making it look like it had been in the rag pile at some point before receiving a second chance. I like to imagine Superguy pawing through the laundry basket, shouting in to his wife, "Hey, where's my tank top?" "I use it to polish the furniture. I've used it to polish the furniture for five years now. It's a RAG." "Ah, man!" He pulls it out of a basket of stained, torn cloth napkins and towels, holds it up to the light, sees the rip in the shoulder but notes that it's still technically wearable. "It still fits!" What I like most about him, about the idea of him, is that I've seen him every few days for a few weeks now. He didn't just try it once, then give up. Damned if I don't find that inspiring.

I know it's called Crow Canyon Place. I know it's not supposed to be ominous and scary. And yet...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Smoke on the Water

I'm at work, and as usual, things are going more than a little wrong. At least nothing caught on fire this morning, so we're doing better than yesterday. I'm not talking 'on fire' as in 'hot, hot project'. I'm talking 'on fire' as in 'uninterruptable power supply smouldering on the data center floor'. We're all going to be here until midnight or later tonight, just like last week. We're all also going to be unable to do any work because of various data and network issues, which brings us to the real meat of this post.

Here's the start of Arosa. I'm at 3 1/4 inches on the back. Despite it being kind of crunchy and not exactly silky on the ball, I'm really enjoying knitting with Arosa. It's not at all hard on the hands, and it's so, so shimmery. The contrast yarn came from my big estate sale haul from a couple of years ago. I think it's Lang 'San Remo'. San Remo and Arosa. Resort towns. Maybe this pullover's trying to tell me I need a vacation.

I'm going to knit during every moment that I'm unable to do productive, paid work today. I'll post a quick update tonight when I finally leave. I'm aiming for finishing the back and maybe one of the sleeves. "But Suzanne! Surely you won't have THAT much time!" Oh, you'd be surprised.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Mayor of Shark City

Today is The Engineer's birthday.


You know that scene in 'Jaws', the one where the shark's just eaten the boater, and Brody's kid's in the hospital in shock, and Mayor Vaughn's wandering around muttering, "...August...we can still save August...", and Brody says, "August? Look around you, Larry! You're the mayor of shark city!", but it's clear that Vaughn's mind isn't operating completely on this plain of consciousness, and that he's obsessing over the details of an unobtainable goal, so much so that his words seem like non-sequiters? I've turned into Mayor Vaughn, or a combination of Mayor Vaughn, the Hybrid from 'Battlestar Galactic' and Donatella with her pashminas.

I've got this huge thing coming up at work, big thing, has to be done by the end of the week or the labors of the entire company will be for naught. I don't have the sole power to make this thing work, but I'm solely responsible if it doesn't. It's a lot of pressure.

So last night, Accountant Boy comes home late from work and asks me what I had for dinner. I mutter, "...toast...I had...yeah, toast..."

"Did you eat anything else?"

"...have to get the warranty information for the car..."

"Honey? Shouldn't you eat something else?"

"...trail mix...they have trail mix in the training room up on four...have to remember to get my favorite workout socks from the dryer...prepaid interest from HUD line 802...gotta figure out how to get to HUD 802 from the summary table...left join...water the poppies..."

Later, when he asked me if I wanted to watch more television, or if maybe we should just go to bed, I stared at the coffee table for twenty seconds, then murmured, "...the gargoyle's splitting open..."

"Yeah, honey. That's been happening for a long time."

I looked up at him, and I almost started crying. "It HAS? Ah, man! When did that happen?!?" Because now, you see, I have to add 'Find and purchase replacement gargoyle' to my list. Sadly for A.B. and I, this was the most connected, coherent conversation we had yesterday. And it reminded me of that moment where Brody's yelling at Vaughn and pressuring him to sign the contract to hire Quint, and you think Vaughn's totally out of it, but then he says, "Martin! My kids were in that water, too," and that's the moment you realize that he wasn't out of it at all, that his mind was just racing with all of the things he was juggling, so full and racing that he couldn't even stop from thinking out loud, and it all made sense to him and only him.

I know how ankle socks, trail mix, HUD 802, Mother's Day, the decaying gargoyle statue, my poppy seedlings, Accountant Boy's car, Accountant Boy's nephew's car, the Engineer's birthday, my malfunctioning robot vacuum, peep-toe shoes and a dinner consisting of a plate of toast are related. They're all balls in the air and I'm trying to juggle them, and I'm unable to put any of them down. And in my mind, I'm thinking that if I can just get through this month and June, it'll all slow down. No, that's not right. July's going to be a mess, too.

"...August...we can still save August..."

I'm the mayor of Shark City.

In other news:

--I opened my desk drawer the other day and found a mouse eating my oatmeal. I made my manager clean out the drawer, citing the "Girly Fear of Jumping Rodents" clause in my employee handbook. Then, because it's the kind of thing that's expected of me here at work, I named the mouse Freddy.

--I started the lace sections of Cobweb. Daisy says, "That? My favorite thing you've ever knit." I don't know if I should be delighted or insulted by this. Pictures soon.

--"It's not just a goal for the summer. It's a LIFE goal." What was I talking about? Fantastic museum exhibit? The Boston Pops on the Fourth of July? Machu Picchu? Oh, readers. You ought to know me better than that by now. Click here and find out. It's better if you have the sound up on your computer.

--I broke my yarn buying freeze, but it was for a good reason. Here's the reason.

It's the free pattern that came with a full-bag purchase of Schoeller Stahl 'Arosa'. I've already swatched for it, and I'm a'knittin' it up during the times when I'm too distracted to work on the lace of Cobweb. It's knit on relatively large needles. This makes me happier than you can imagine. Yes, I probably have yarn I could have used for it in my stash, but in order to get the pattern, I had to buy the new yarn, you see. So it was unavoidable. Dammit.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Head Case

Fragments from the worst detective novel ever written --

...working a case, like any other day. Sun shining, birds singing, happy world. That's how it's supposed to be, every day a garden party.

Keeping it that way, that's our job. Every day, we go out into it. We turn over the rocks and see the grubs. We look under the bushes and into the dark corners at the back of the old shed. We're...

...wasn't expecting to find this. Poor stiff was buried up to his neck and spray painted with bright green Krylon...

..."into the trees", she'd said. "Into the trees." I didn't know what she'd meant, until I saw it hanging up in the high branches, like some beautiful, horrible treasure sack...

"...oxblood flowers. Funny, that term. They don't look the color of oxblood at all."

"I wouldn't know, ma'am. My bloody ox experience doesn't go beyond watching 'Apocalypse Now'.

Then she said something interesting, something that flicked a switch in my mind. Suddenly, it was all...

...partner was unconsolable. I guess in this job you see some things that are too much to get past...

...and like I said, that's our job. Turning over stones, poking sticks in the snake hole. Whatever it takes to keep the flowers in bloom and the bees buzzing. Some garden party...

The Details:

Pattern: Starsky, knit in the small size.

Yarn: Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in Venetian. 14.5 balls, including the swatch, which comes out to 1350 yards. That puts it to the medium in yardage, but that's probably about right when you consider that I knit a little looser than gauge as I went along, and I made it longer. We'll get to that in a minute.

Needles: I used Brittany #10(US) for the body, and an Addi Turbo 12" circular #9(US) for the arms. The belt was done on a #9 bamboo double-point.

Time: Whooo...boy. Let's see. I started it right after the pattern came out, put it down after two repeats on the back, and didn't pick it back up again until right after Frog-Fest 2007. So, technically, more than a year to knit. More accurately, it took about two months.

I only deviated from the pattern once. I decided it would be easier to tell where to stop for the armhole shaping if it ended at the beginning of the chart. That worked great because it meant that the shaping ended up at the same point on all three pieces. It also meant that each of the body pieces ended up about an inch too long. Other than that, I stuck to the pattern as written.

One thing that really helped me, not being much of a chart reader, was rewriting the written instructions in a way that I'd understand. I renamed some of the cable labels. For example, '2-st LPC' became 'FPP', short for front-purl-purl. All of the cable cross abbreviations got that treatment. It really helped me to write it out in my own words. I had that piece of steno paper with me for every row of the body.

I love this sweater. I've worn it several times since finishing it a couple of weeks ago. It came out a little large after washing and blocking, large enough that I wasn't quite comfortable in it. I saw its future ahead of it, a future of being tried on, and then folded and placed back in the closet. No way was I taking it apart and reknitting it, so when it was about due for another wash n' block, I did the scariest thing one can do to woolen knitwear. I threw it in the dryer and walked away. But look what happened! It's perfect now.

I couldn't be happier with it. As much as I bellyached about the cabling and the fact that I had to concentrate through the whole thing, I really did have a fun time with it. If I were to knit another one, and I probably will, although maybe with a simpler cable pattern instead of the banana leaf, I'd add a little waist shaping. I think it'd be cute with a slightly sleeker, more feminine shape. I've even got what I think will be the perfect stash yarn for it.

So, all in all, great experience knitting Starsky. It boosted my confidence in my knitting again, and I got a comfortable, attractive sweater out of the deal. I'm glad I didn't look at the six inches of the back and decide to frog it with the rest of my WIPs back in February.