Thursday, February 28, 2008

Soon, My Lovely


Monday, February 25, 2008

Clever Phrases Elude Me

On Winston, knitting and fitness --

Yes, we changed young Bug's name. He's as cute as a bug, which is probably how the name came about in the shelter, but the name just wasn't working, in part because 'Bug' is too close to 'Buddy', but in larger part because I've never understood the phrase 'cute as a bug'. I find insects and arachnids fascinating and somewhat alien, but not cute.

We bandied about names for a few days, briefly considering Kojak because of a perceived resemblance to Telly Savalas, and rejecting several other names outright. "You know, when he gets that inquisitive, thoughtful look on his face, he reminds me of Winston Churchill."

The Woman! How could you? I thought that I was your Churchill! I must now despise this usurper!

We call him Win for short, because he's a WINNER.

So angry. So very, very angry. And I don't like that he tries to sniff me in personal places. Dog never tried to do that. She respected my privacy. He needs boundaries, the Woman.

It's a sign of friendliness and affection, Buddy.

In a shady side-street bath house, perhaps. You do know that I still remember how to, how shall I delicately put this, demarcate my limits, yes?


This one's smart. He caught on to 'easy' after about five tries. He will not lunge for that ball, no matter how enticingly we wave it in front of his muzzle. We have to constantly modify the order of commands we give him when we're practicing our obedience lessons. He learns them like they're pieces of a dance routine. "Sit - down - sit - look - down. Got it. I don't even need the hand signals."

Here he is with his friend, Miss Josie Kat, his neighbor at Pit Bull Hall. We took him out there a week ago to play with her. We're hoping that she finds a home in the East Bay, maybe on this side of the hills, so that we can get them together for play dates. (We'd settle for her just finding a home ANYWHERE. She's been at the Hall for a long time.) That's another big difference between Winston and Lucy. Win likes playing with other dogs, something that was just too hard for Lou.

With everything that's happened in the last month, I haven't really had quiet time to think about my old girl. I'm only starting to do that now, to miss her. I miss the howls of joy when we'd ask her if she wanted to go for a walk. I miss her peculiar, goofy preference for hot concrete over cool, soft lawn. I miss her intense concentration when we'd give her strange commands like "out of the kitchen" or "let the cat drink from the water bowl first". I miss the way that she'd quiver from nose to tail when we had her in a sit-stay, barely able to contain her ever-present glee. The staff at VMS sent us a lovely book with condolences in the end pages a couple of weeks ago, and one of the notes in it said something like "Lucy was a joy, because she was so happy to BE."

We've been saying that Winston's smarter than Lucy was, but I think that's a misrepresentation of her intellect. She was smart in her own way - as smart as she needed to be to make us happy - and maybe more willful than we knew. She knew all of the commands. She also knew that staring blankly at us for long enough meant that we'd give up and let her get away with not obeying them.

I've been thinking about this a lot recently, because I want to reassure myself. I want to feel that I'm not trying to replace her, to make light of the loss of her by comparing her unfavorably to the newer, and in some ways 'better' dog. I emerge from these frequent reveries with the same conclusions. It wasn't too soon, because Win needed us and we needed something bright in our lives after those weeks of darkness. He's not a replacement dog, because Lou was irreplaceable. He's not even a better dog, because that'd mean that we were judging them by the same standards, and that's not fair to either of them. He's simply a different dog.

He's also not a perfect dog. See how little progress I've made on my fluffy angora sweater? Guess who wants that angora in his mouth? (Hint: Buddy loathes angora.) I spent two hours untangling and rewinding 100 yards of it the other night. We keep reminding ourselves that he's barely more than a puppy, just a year old, and that he's a little mouthy as a result. It's just that he's got such a big mouth.

It's about seven inches down from the back of the neck now, with about an inch to go for it the armscyes to be deep enough for layering a shirt underneath. I'm pretty close to the point where I'll separate the sleeves, and also fairly close to closing up the v-neck. It should fly off the needles at that point, and in a good way, not because half the stitches and a ninety-yard ball are in a pit bull's mouth.

I'm in the early stages of my annual fitness restart. I ran on Saturday, and Accountant Boy and I lifted weights yesterday. My goal for this week is to make it to the gym just two more times. More would be super, but I'm trying not to set my expectations too high. Next week's goal is to feel good enough about my progress to call my trainer and schedule an appointment. My last call to her, a voicemail message, went something like this:

"Yeah, uh, Amazon? It's me. Hey, I'm not going to make it to my session tomorrow, because my dad suddenly, uh, died. And I'm O.K., so don't worry about me, but the funeral's tomorrow and I'm standing by the bathrooms at Costco in a business suit with a cart full of liquor because it's my job to get everyone drunk and keep them drunk. Did you know that they'll open a checkstand for you if you walk up in a suit? Weird, huh? I think it's because A.B. and I look like FBI agents. So, yeah, not training tomorrow. Look, I gotta go because I hate people who talk on cell phones in stores, and now I'm one of those douchebags. Talk to you soon, O.K.?"

I should maybe call her back.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Winging It

I've got a swatch, no pattern, 1200 yards of yarn, and approximately a month and a half before the weather turns too warm to wear an angora sweater. This ought to be fun.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Fuzzy Furrow

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I've had this yarn for almost two years. I bought it at Stitches in 2006, and it's almost Stitches time again, so yeah, two years. I've been trying to put my finger on why I was so drawn to it, and I finally figured it out the other day. The colors remind me of the city of Mongo from 'Flash Gordon'.

I know what you're probably all thinking, especially Cristi. Just hear me out on this one.

Back when I was a kid, cable television was a revolutionary thing. Prior to getting it, we had to watch whatever we could find on the dial, and it was literally a DIAL that one cranked around until a broadcast channel came up on the screen. There weren't fifteen separate channels for the premium stations, either. There was one HBO, one Cinemax, one Showtime. And when we first got cable, those three channels had apparently latched on to 'Flash Gordon' as their go-to midday program. We probably watched it a hundred times. I loved the colors. I loved the action. I loved the music, even though I'll admit that it's not one of Queen's crowning achievments. I loved Timothy Dalton in his green tights. If it was on, I was watching it.

A new movie supplanted it on the schedule, probably 'Return of the Jedi' or something similarly big, and I didn't see my beloved 'Flash Gordon' again for more than two decades. It only briefly came out on DVD before going out of print. I forgot about it.

Then, a magical thing happened. Encore or Starz or one of those channels found a copy, dusted it off, and threw it onto one of their secondary channels. It was as wonderful and cheesy as I'd remembered. If anything, it might actually be better with a little aging. Aside from Dale's Earth clothes, it doesn't look dated. Sure, the special effects are bad, but they're not supposed to be anything other than what they are. It's a live-action comic book, not cinéma-vérité. The DVD was still in print in Brazil, so I paid a premium and got a copy of it, not realizing that it would be rereleased for the 25th anniversary. Oh, well. It may not have the extras, but my copy has the option of Portuguese subtitles.

The four balls of yarn I used for this project reminded me of all of the colors of Mongo - the reds of the guards' uniforms, the gold curtains around Dale's bedchamber, the violet clouds and the oranges of the lightning field. There's even a little bit of hot pink every so often, like Princess Aura's shiny catsuit. Needless to say, it's impossible to photograph with accurate color, because of all of that red. Trust me on this one - it's gorgeous in real life.


Dr. Zarkov: "Get your toothbrush and whatever!" (The Pattern)

Clapotis from Knitty, Fall 2004

Hedonia: "It has no name. Many brave men died to bring it here from the Galaxy of Pleasure." (The Yarn)

Interlacements Dyer's Choice from a bin at Stitches. It was probably meant to be Toasty Toes, but it didn't have enough twist. Each skein had about 185 yards, and I used a little less than four skeins. It's another stash-reduction project, which makes me very, very happy.

Flash: "Where are the weapons?" Arborian: "Feel one." (The Needles)

Brittany Birch, size 6 US. I routinely start flat knitting projects with needles two sizes smaller than the pattern calls for, and more often than not, it works out. See? I can be taught.

Dale Arden: "Flash! Flash, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!" (The Time)

I think I started it on January 9th, and I bound off and wove in the ends on January 24th.

Voltan: "Flying blind on a rocket cycle?" (The Modifications)

I left off one increase section, so it's not quite as wide as the pattern. Also, I had no idea how much it would grow once I dropped all of the stitches, so I kept thinking it was too short. Instead of thirteen straight sections, I had twenty. It's long, stretching about an inch below the hem of my coat on both sides when hung straight around my neck. I like it this way. It makes it easier to drape it around my shoulders.

Robot: "Long live Flash. You've saved your Earth. Have a nice day." (Conclusions)

I'd forgotten how boring the last, oh, two thirds of a project like this can be. I think I chased the 'just want to do something mindless' urge out of my system.

I bought this yarn for this project, and I'm glad that I stuck with that plan. I think the rippling of the dropped stitches shows off the colors beautifully.

I've worn my new Clapotis quite a bit since finishing it. It was cold down at my parents' house, sunny but barely above freezing during my dad's funeral. My mom likes to turn off the heater at night, so I slept with my freshly completed project around my neck at least twice while I was there. It's warm and comfortable, and not one bit itchy. It's perfect.

In other news, Buddy's decided to stop me from pursuing further education in systems analysis. Last night, he stomped over to my spot on the couch, rammed the book off of my lap with his head, then promptly laid on it. "Buddy! Dammit, guy! I'm already a week behind because of the funeral and everything. Give me a break!" He was not swayed. He arched his back and somehow managed to scoot himself even farther onto the opened book.