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21 posts from March 2005

Taken Care OfMarch 31, 2005

Tummy is better. Thanks for asking. It really wasn't that bad for that long. Just violent. Whew.

I got up this afternoon (finally managed to get some good day sleep!) and found the new Vogue Knitting magazine on my coffee table. The knitting elves have been very, very good to me. This will make my night at work tonight so much better. I usually save knitting magazines a) for work, when I need to escape in my mind the room that I physically can't leave for 10-14 hours and b) the bathtub, if on my weekend. There ain't NOTHIN' like lying in that tub until the water runs cold, reading about knitting. Unless you're me, and it's within the last two weeks, and you're reading about spinning. But you know what I mean.

[I just got an email from Lala, responding to my thanks for the magazine and she says: "I'm glad you like the magazine. I try to be a good provider. At least of the necessities."]

Yesterday I dyed my hair with a punky teenage Loreal color called Funky Cherry -- came in a mousse can in a metallic package, and it was cheap, and I gotta say, if you're gonna dye your hair, there is no better method than mousse. I don't know why they all don't come this way. It was thick and gloppy and I just pushed it into my hair and there were no drips, none at all. I did accidentally fling the can behind the toilet, spattering the back wall with blood-like drops, but I washed most of them off, and since the only time anyone will notice will be when the toilet is moved out of the way, I'm sure the person noticing the stains will have bigger problems.

And I curled my hair. I'm loving this longer haired thing -- takes more time, but it's fun. Here:

Cherryhair

Okay. I'm going running now. And then back home to bathe, quickly, and then to spin again. I'm a woman possessed. I talk about it so much perhaps I don't really have that much time to do it. Yesterday, I grabbed exactly 20 minutes to spin. Today I might get an hour or TWO before work, and that's very exciting. Must run. Mwah!

Volcano RachaelMarch 30, 2005

You know what you really, really shouldn't do? Eat a bunch of vitamins, and then ten minutes later eat some salt'n'vinegar chips. Five minutes later, feel really sick and bolt for the bathroom, hand over mouth, scaring co-workers. Find out only after scare that the vitamins were in a base of sodium bicarbonate.

Yes, I mixed vinegar and baking soda in my tummy. This clears drains, people. It was not fun. But the Exploratorium has a good bomb for you to try with the kids or when you're up at four in the morning with nothing to do but mess around with kitchen supplies and listen to Dinah Washington. Or whatever. Not like I'd do that in my kitchen sink for fun. What do you take me for? 

Burp. Excuse me.

EggedMarch 29, 2005

I'm having a hard time getting and staying online lately, something to do with my phone service. Normal people call the phone company when this happens, I suppose. Me? I was glad to have the time to spin. (Yes, I will write. But right NOW is for spinning.)

Seriously, it's getting to be addictive. I slept three hours in a total of sixty over the weekend, mostly because the four hour slot I was supposed to sleep on Saturday night (extra shift on Easter) was used up with fiber insomnia. What if I hold the wool like this? What if I adjusted the band just this way? What would it be like to spin alpaca? The question was raised why I just didn't get up and spin a little while, and the answer was: I was too MAD about being awake. So I just kept my eyes squinched shut, willing myself to sleep, watching the wheel spin 'round in my head.

Is this how crazy starts? It might be.

Now, when I think of MDSW, I'm thinking about roving and combed top, not yarn and cute little sheepdogs (yes, we're going! Woot!). (Also: When I think of MDSW, I think of what my friend Monica heard when I said it out loud: "Maryland Sheep and Wolf Festival." She was horrified. Let's all call it that, shall we?)

And before I run back to the wheel (o lovely lovely wool), I must show you what I got over the weekend, in addition to the best homemade enchiladas ever.

I got some Cadbury Creme Eggs.

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Forty-eight, to be exact. (Lala bought fifty-two, actually, but her brother got some along the way, as is right and good.) She just kept pulling them out of bags, and then more bags. Boxes and boxes of happiness. Sheer chocolate goodness. Come on over. I have plenty.

And in fact, I have the Last Egg in Oakland. We hit the stores yesterday, looking for sales, but all we could find was this one, which Lala found abandoned at the bottom of a cart full of scary sugary baskets.

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Yes, that's Koigu. No, I didn't set up the purse to highlight the wool -- if I had, I now realize it would have been good form to have moved the pad. Oh, wells.

Now. Back to spinning and eggs and the imminent but welcome sugar crash.

Kakapo!March 27, 2005

This makes me happy. Thanks to Quantum Tea for the link.

TechnicalitiesMarch 25, 2005

I've got some questions, yo. These are about spinning, so if your eyes glaze over, scroll to the bottom where I'll post a picture of something. Not sure what yet. Oooh! A surprise! Even to me!

So: Dear Janine taught me the long-draw method, using the folded over bunch of staple-length fiber held like an egg in my hand. I've been doing it like this: Pulling out five or ten such little bundles and lining them up on the couch, grabbing them as I go. It works well, even though as yet I'm only able to make a consistent worsted-weight-thickness single. I can't seem to go any lighter-weight than this, which kind of precludes any kind of plying, since with my gauge, I could never work with bulky weight yarn. I'd get 3 stitches per football field or something.

And somehow, even though this is quite silly, I have a yen to hold the whole mess of top in my lap and spin right off it. I see that the Yarn Harlot (let me just say that she is my hero. Yours too. I know) has a fab tutorial that somehow I missed because I wasn't spinning and must have glazed right through, as you're doing if you don't spin. (I'm telling you, skip to the bottom.) Her method seems brilliant. And she explains it well: If you do it this way, you get good yarn. But but but... But. I'm whiny. That seems like so much WORK. But I'm planning on trying it. Maybe this afternoon. I should totally go for a run, but the wheel is sitting there, calling me with its siren songs, daring me to crash on the slubby rocks.

Okay, this: How do you spin? What's your fave method? The more descriptive you are, the more I'll gape in admiration and appreciation. Fave links? I've been to Joy of Handspinning, and I know I need to buy Spin Off mag (anyone in the Bay Area have any old copies they'd like to offload or lend?). What's your favorite trick? In other words: HELP!

Thanks. So here you go:

(This actually means I leave this page and go to my picture file and decide which old photo to lay on you today, since I ain't got nothin' new.)

(I'm back. And you lucked out -- I took it way back, to last May when I was back east.)

Tulips in Central Park:

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Bethany in Central Park:

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Em (in Rosedale), Cari, Sadie, and Diego. I *love* this shot. Alison was there in spirit that night, too.

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And finally, me wigging out at the Happiest Place on Earth, MDSW:

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Don't forget to stock up on Cadbury Creme Eggs this weekend! And on Monday, when they go on sale! Unless you live in Oakland, of course. Then you're totally not allowed to buy more than three. I've got needs.

Happy weekend!

I Can't Bear It

You know when you're thinking something, and you know it's a bad thing, and you hope no one thinks the same thing, so you keep doing what you're doing and keep hoping no one will notice? Yeah, you know what I mean. You just keep plugging along, thinking, Oh, hell. No. You're wrong. No one will say that. I'm just crazy.

And then your coworker says, "That sweater makes me want a Big Mac. You gonna wear a Ronald McDonald red wig with that? Maybe you should go on down there and tell 'em you want a job." And later, when I was actually ON my way to McDonald's, "Hey! You forgot your sweater! You could get a discount!"

I got all pissy. I called her names. I think I might have flipped her off. I acted like I hadn't been thinking it all along.

And then I talked myself into thinking it was funny. Like it would endear me to the sweater. Won't it be great to have a Fast Food Cardi? Everyone will want one. That is, they'll want one when they come back from their food run that they suddenly had to make -- they haven't had a cheeseburger in years, but just sitting near me made the visions of 2-pickles-onions-lettuce dance in their heads.

Here it is. Camera phone shot, but believe me -- this is the classic red/orange married with brilliant yellow of all your childhood happy-meal dreams.

Ronald

I was gonna put more yellow around the vee-neck and the button bands, but I don't think I can now. I tried it on and just stood there, thinking. I love red and yellow. I adore them together. But this..... Even if I did stick to my guns and finish it, every single time I put it on, I would think about Ronald. Every time I got out of the car, I would wonder if people thought I was on break from taking orders (not that there's anything wrong with that, god forbid. I just don't want something I make to look like a fast-food uniform). No matter what I tell myself, it's just not going to happen.

I think I might rip the yellow out and add black rolled bands instead. Oooh! Or attached i-cord! Or white, as a summery contrast. Or hell, orange.

Sigh. Now I want a bacon-egg-n-cheese biscuit....

Oh, man. I was kinda kidding when I said that. But now I'm not.

Who Loves the Chocolate? March 23, 2005

Jen just made me very happy. Dancing Cadbury Creme  Eggs.

Back at Work

Can you believe it? It's terrible. Awful. Seventeen days of vacay over, just like that. Bam. It's a tragedy, surely. Why Lala hasn't won the lottery yet is beyond me. It's like she doesn't even try. Y'all need to tell her to do better at picking those numbers, okay? A woman has needs, that's all I'm saying. And those needs do NOT correspond to working midnight shift. They correspond to long lazy days with nothing to do but spin yarn and knit sweaters and eat chocolate and drink beer and go to movies and travel to exotic locations. And other things we won't mention. Working all night, surely not.

So, yeah. She needs to get on it (winning the lottery, I mean! Quit it). But I will have you know that when I was sick last week, she brought me sushi and beer. That counts for a lot, people. Also, women give her their phone numbers on BART. And that's hot. I've received unsolicited phone numbers before, but they were from men, and I'm sure none of them were from men I really ended up liking or I would remember that. Or maybe I wouldn't, given my atrocious memory. So those last two sentences were a waste of your time. Sorry about that.

Also you should know that I've finally found a combination of things that my iron stomach does not like. Usually I have no trouble, none at all. But Taco Bell followed by three Cadbury Creme Eggs followed by an Indian dinner of sag paneer and bhindi masala and garlic naan -- this makes for a very sorry Rachael. All better now, but I do not like tummy woes. I remember that. Next time I'll only eat two Cadbury Creme Eggs.

March 22, 2005

Happy Birthday, darling Em! Whew. Almost missed getting a post in on your birthday. (Of course, I called her last WEEK and sang to her, one of my goofy songs, "Oh, baybeeee, it's your BIRTHDAY, and you're so great, and you look good too, and we all LOOOOVVVVEEE you, happy birthdaaaayyyyy......" She called me back and said, "Thanks, babe. It's next Tuesday." Whoops. But at least I got to talk to her, which was Divine.

And damn, go look at what Lala made with those cables that she never believed would be so easy....

AndMarch 21, 2005

And you know who's laughing hardest at me, finally giving in to the SpinBug? Claudia, over at her new house. Go and wish her happy new blog plot, and if you get close enough, steal her Sheepy Sweater for me. I really, really, really want it. Really.

Spinning!

Oh, my goodness. There's something about it, isn't there? Janine gave me BEST lesson, ever. She taught me history and technique, and she was patient, and she made me feel like I was doing great, even though it was obvious that I wasn't -- I couldn't even get the wheel to go only one direction -- it kept turning and unspinning/tangling the yarn into great lumpen messes.

Oh, but it's fun. She loaned me her Ashford Traditional (made in my mother's NZ hometown, Ashburton) as well as a book, and the oil, and the little picker-thing that I know has a real name, and a Lazy Kate, and she showed me what to do with it all!

Busyangelmom asked in a comment:   What is behind this recent motivation that keeps   cropping up in all the serious knitting blogs?

For me, it's something I've always, always been drawn to, ever since I was a kid. I used to open the vitamin bottles and remove the cotton balls and spin them into thread. I would sit on the couch for HOURS doing this, never doing anything with the thread, just wanting to spin. Maybe it IS the New Zealand sheep-farm blood coming to the top, but ever since I saw a woman spinning on her Traveller at a bluegrass festival ten years ago, it's been something I haven't been able to let go of.

What I was scared of was buying a wheel and realizing belatedly that I hated spinning. Janine kind of laughed at that, I think. She was right. I love it. I'm thinking about the Traveller, myself, since I could take it to, say, bluegrass festivals. Or Lala's house. Or, you know. Just the fact that it folds. That's way cool. I like foldie-things.

It's like learning anything else, though. I'm impatient. I'm frustrated when I'm not great at it right NOW. I'm getting better, and the learning curve is steep, as everyone says. But when someone tells me a learning curve is steep, I think: Great! I'll be a master at it and spinning gossamer moonlight by Wednesday. Instead, my spinning isn't that clumpy anymore. That's the best that can be said. But look. I'll show you.

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That first ugly white thing was supposed to be yarn. I swear. Stop laughing. The second skein is a little better. The third, not any better than the second (all from Correidale top).

In the bedroom I have three little skeins of better stuff hanging drying right nowDscn82951 :

See? That almost looks like the real thing, don't you think?

I was so excited this afternoon that my first skeins were finally dry and ready to be wound into (teeny-weeny) balls.

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And then I had to:

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It'll eventually be a scrappy little scarf. I have to tell you, it's surprisingly soft.

I'm in love. Dude. Love.

Spam PoemMarch 18, 2005

I don't notice spam much, as yahoo does a pretty good job of filtering it right to Bulk, where I just delete it without looking. But today one slipped by, and I found its text  interesting. I actually left it open and read it a couple of times. An excerpt:

i ve got the solution - visit the tundra spend a month or two you ll be longing to hear the sound of other humans! the signal is soliciting me not to testify to the us government about the activity of soviet spy rings on the freshwater pearls  and other earthy materials.

What crazy person wrote that? It's almost poetry, but really bad poetry which is the only kind I like anyway, so I enjoyed it.

Feeling better. Thanks for asking. I think I kicked its ass. Yeah.

And we got a raise! Kind of amazing, when you consider how broke our city is, but we were 19% below top-step dispatcher salary for our county, and now we're starting to close that gap. It's just impossible to hire good dispatchers when they can go somewhere, anywhere, else and make way more money, which is why we're always short and worn thin working fourteen hour days.

Also: Just finished the BEST book I've read in a long time. I was in the airport with Bethany waiting for Mom and Christy to arrive from Paris, and their plane was delayed for an hour and a half. So we wandered into the bookshop, and Bethany put a book in my hands, saying, "You should totally read this. It was great. I loved it." I looked at the jacket and said, "Okay."

Her jaw dropped. "What?"

"I said, okay, I'll buy it."

"No one EVER buys what I tell them to."

And she was right, it was wonderful. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Not great literature, sure, but fun as hell. It's kind of meta-noir, a thriller novel about a thriller novel, set in Barcelona, and written thickly, all foggy and shrouded. Oh, lovely. (But if you buy it, please buy it at an independent bookstore or Booksense, which is as easy as Amazon and makes you feel lots better about yourself.) Tell 'em Bethany told you to buy it.

Okay. I have lots to do today, including a spinning lesson! I can't quite believe that I'm going to learn, or going to be able to figure out what to do with my hands/feet, but Janine has been lovely enough to offer her help, and I'm so excited. More to follow. Happy weekend, y'all.

Apparently Title Ideas Have Left Me For GoodMarch 16, 2005

This is a very weird sickness. Off and on, in a matter of minutes sometimes. I feel fine! Whee! Up to make a cup of tea! And whump. Ick again. Quite, quite annoying. But I'm resting. Really, I am.

I just have to say quickly: There's a certain type of motorbike, and I'm not sure which kind, that makes a noise when it's alone on the freeway in the middle of the night that sound JUST like the disaster sirens that are placed throughout the city. At four in the morning, I woke last night, listening to the long whoop and fall of what I thought was the siren and thought, oh, hell. What a disheartening sound. Nuclear attack? Biohazard spill? The end of the world as we know it? Nope, a motorcycle. The relief is great. But the heartbeat is not easily slowed. And I'm not even a very Worried Person.

Now, a bath. I'm having the laziest vacation in the history of the world. (Then I have get up and go to a union meeting/salary vote at work -- that bites, does it not? A raise is a good idea, but today? Sheesh. But at least I don't have to wear a uniform. I don't even know where my uniform is, for that matter.)

But I'm watching Miyazaki tonight (my first) at Lala's brother's house (he's married to the sweetest nicest girl that has ever lived, by the way. Seriously. You have no idea.) And knitting. Lots of knitting. (I just typed lot's of knitting. The horror!)

March 15, 2005

I was just watching Four Weddings and a Funeral -- don't laugh too hard. Everyone knows Andie McDowell can't act her way out of a speeding ticket. But I wanted something sappy to play in the background while I wove in ends on the cotton sweater I'm making. (Dude, Sugar'n'Cream in red, buck fifty a skein, and I'm doing a top-down cardie -- just finished the sleeves, and I've miles of stockinette to go to get to the bottom. Good, brainless knitting. But I do like to weave ends in when I attach the sleeves, so that the final finish is a triumphant WOOT! and not an ohshit NOW I've got a lot to do.)

That was a long aside. What I meant to say was this: I'd forgotten how good that movie was in terms of showing gay marriage without sermons or moral judgments, without an agenda. Simon Callow and John Hannah are the only truly happily married people in the movie, and it's never addressed directly because it didn't need to be. They were just together. It was refreshing and sweet and lovely.

And we've gone backwards since 1994, haven't we? In November, 11 states declined to think of people like me as people who deserve the same right as all Americans.  But a judge in California has the right idea. A proud moment for us. But it's kind of exhausting, isn't it? It's still going to be such a battle, and the fight is ON in the city, people yelling and waving signs for both sides, and nothing will be truly decided for years and years. But one can hope.

And one can make some noise. Or at least a statement. I don't know where y'all live out there, but I know you live a lot of different places, and you live near people with a lot of different ideas. Say something, will you? The next time you hear that guy talk about fags like that, shoot him a look. The kid behind you in the grocery store who calls his friend gay for dropping the gum on the floor -- say something. Shake 'em up.

And those friends of yours who are all about saving the country money? The Congressional Budget Office predicted last year that allowing gay marriage would save the federal government almost one BILLION dollars a year. Don't the right-wingers want that? Isn't that enticing? That would totally be way more money to throw at the Don't Ask Don't Tell program that the government has spent 200 million on in the last ten years.

Anywho. I found some cool bumper stickers. (Why is iTunes skipping? I hate that.)  I liked this one and this one, and this one is wrong, but it's hella funny.

Enough rant. I feel sick and tired, and it's not just politically motivated. Still fighting the sick fight -- still haven't succumbed, but I feel myself weakening. Bah. I want to go to Lala's when she calls after band practice, but I have those hot eyes, and they're not the good ones. You know the ones. A little feverish. Just a little. A REAL little. Take THAT, flu. Put 'em up. I'm going to go read a book in the tub. That cures all. Mwah.

Monday, Still on VacationMarch 14, 2005

The cats are romping and sounding like a million cats instead of just the two that they are. Digit still sleeps on the top cabinet in the kitchen while the dogs are here, so he's happy to get down and run around when they're gone. He clobbers Adah with a polydactyl backhand, and she comes back for more, so I let 'em. It's a companionable house-trashing noise.

The whole magic of Dogs On The Bed keeping away the most annoying cat in the whole world (Adah) has worn off, however. Even people who love that cat admit that she is, in fact, the most annoying. She's a rescue, and very literally neurotic about being petted. She must be touched, at ALL times, including the middle of the night, and will pat your nose (with claws out sometimes) over and over and over, no matter how many times you fling her off the bed, hoping that you might pet her little head just a bit.

For a while the dogs were a godsend. She slept in the living room and all was peace. But now, she lets herself in* and gets up on the bed. You'll see that she's not scared of dogs anymore.

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Damn it.

Ah well.

I'm feeling better, I think. I go through stages where I just feel like utter crap, and then I'm fine again after a couple of ibuprofen. I feel like I'm fighting and winning, so THERE. Poor Christy is STILL sick and miserable. This one just knocked her out, but it could have been the jetlag from the Paris trip with Mom....

Last night I had a house full of people watching the L Word and knitting. I tell you what, there's nothing like entertaining on a small scale, in a small house, to make you feel good. And Lala learned how to cable in between programs. It was great to watch her move from disbelief to faith. Cabling is just one of those things: no matter how many times you tell someone, "No, I'm serious, it's SO easy. You can't believe how easy it is," she still looks at you with that "You've made a bajillion sweaters so of course YOU think it's easy but just shut up and show me how EASY this little trick is, you crazy knitter" look. And then you show her how to do it, in one sentence and one demo, and she says, "That's IT?" Oh, yeah. It's magic, baby. (I'll let her tell you what she's making. Tres cute.)

And a gratuitous yarn shot:

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* There isn't a door in the house that Adah can't open except for the outside doors, and I've caught her hanging from those, her paws wrapped around the knob, swinging back and forth. She'll get it someday.

March 11, 2005

Ain't nothing like complaining about the diamonds on the soles of your shoes, but it's hot. Really. Hot. Okay, it's only 78 degrees, but it's almost 6pm. This is not why I live in Oakland. I like Oakland to be foggy and cool.

I'm also fighting HARD against a particularly nasty strain of flu that had sister Bethany down for two weeks, and sister Christy's nurse told her it was a good three-weeker. I'm going to win, by the way. I will NOT be sick during my vacation. But I feel crappy and sweaty and gross and feverish and uncomfortable. I'm actually drinking iced water and wearing a wet tee-shirt AND lying under my fan to try to cool off.

Cry me a river. I know y'all are getting snow'n'stuff. Would you consider a house-swap, perhaps? Please don't mind the germs.

Stay warm (and cool) and knit (or don't), but love someone up on the weekend, okay?

March 9, 2005

At the risk of becoming too personal (hey, it's my blog, right?), I'll tell you that being a woman can be a pain in the ass. Let's put it this way: I ain't pregnant (oh, god! Not that I was trying! I'm just being cute! I should erase this paragraph. I have cramps, that's all). Erg. Quite miserable, but made happier by reading out on the porch, something I actually hadn't done since I moved here. It's really damn loud out there, with the freeway right in front of it, and I wasn't sure how it would work. Then I realized that it doesn't really need to be quiet in order to read. Dur. I planted some flowers (in pots) a couple of weeks ago, and I went out to keep the tomatoes and jasmine company. Oh, heaven. It's sunny but not too hot (sorry, Claudia), and I read myself into a state of bliss. Still rather sun-struck.

Now I'm in the house, listening to iTunes Party Shuffle on my new speakers, running through my new external hard drive. (With PMS comes that frantic Must Scrub Behind The Toilet Oh Must Go To CompUSA NOW manic thing. Do you get that?) I hadn't realized how nervous I'd been about keeping all my photos and writing and music on my laptop until I dumped it all into an 80gig metal box and breathed a deep sigh of relief. I do keep my writing in online storage, also, and I have the important photos on CD backup. But otherwise, I'm terrible at backing things up, and I'd HATE to lose all my music. I only have two days worth on my iTunes, but it's good stuff, man.

Short attention span today. Have you been to Iris's blog recently? Her Moscow posts have been awesome.

And to Greta's new pose to match her fabby new sweater, The Greta. I'm so going to do this on the next sweater. Remind me, okay?

A Little of This and ThatMarch 8, 2005

I have just discovered the most amazing thing! Did you know your computer has a headphone jack? Really. There's a good chance that it does. Of course, you, like everyone else, probably already knew that. I didn't. But did you know that your iPod Shuffle's earbud thingies fit into it? So that you can Party Shuffle yourself right off to Buffalo. Dude. This is great.

Had a good weekend doing the Travel Thing with Lala and the dogs. You think having a five pound dog attracts attention? Try carrying one that's wearing an E-collar. One lady yesterday almost passed out, she was laughing so hard. Another woman came up and asked, "What happened?" I wanted to say defensively, "She's just SMALL," before I realized she was referencing the collar, which I'd forgotten about.

Also: Lala brought her banjo, thinking she'd have some time to play with my dad, but instead the only real playing she did was at the wedding we attended. Gaynelle and Don had a bluegrass band and Dad encouraged her to come up and help. There they are in the back row:

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Tell me I wasn't all dang proud and all.

Man. I'm all distracted, listening to music.

I wrote twenty pages today! I'm exhausted. But good, brain-dead exhaustion.

There. I had to turn the music off. My brain has been too busy today, and listening to Hawksley Workman and blogging at the same time was confusing me.

New duds Tuesday!

Here's a little something I made out of Wool-Ease, can you believe it? Like twenty bucks for the whole thing.

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Pardon the hair, we've just cleaned the house. I added some hearts to the sleeve, since that's where I've been wearing mine lately:

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Ooh, almost forgot:
Specs:
Pattern: Retro Prep, Interweave Knits, Fall 2002
Yarn: Wool-Ease, pink and some kind of tan/gray, 3 skeins each (with some left over)
Needles: 5US, to gauge

And I wanted to show you my new shirt, from the Y(e)arn Store.

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What, you think it's tacky to wear a black bra with a white tank? Okay. It is. But you can rock it if you try. Oh, yeah.

(relaxing) Mwah!

VacayMarch 4, 2005

Wah-HAH!

That's a happy sound, iffen you didn't know it. This is also a happy sound, said quickly and low: Wocka.

Know why I'm happy? Because I'm on VACATION! For seventeen days! Hoo boy! It's actually a week off using both overtime and a lot of help from my coworkers, and then a week on vacay, but it adds up to a glorious carefree seventeen days OFF.

Did I mention off? Like, no work? I did? Oh. Okay.

So posting might be sparse 'round these here parts (Deadwood starts on Sunday, don't forget -- ooooh -- I loved what the New Yorker said about the writer David Milch, how he shows a hell of a lot of darkness, knowing that just being able to see is the joy. Milch also sounds a little crazy, writing without ever touching a keyboard, hiring others to do that for him).

I'm going down south to Arroyo Grande this weekend for a wedding, taking m'girl and her dogs -- we're going to look at the ocean that runs along my hometown. And eat clam chowder. Sigh. Happy about that. After that, I really have no plans. I don't have the money to go anywhere else, even though I spent a little time online researching Last Minute Deals To Italy. It is not to be. Perhaps I'll just cook Italian. Or even better, I'll just drink some Italian wine. And listen to Italian pop. Er somethin'.

Okay, I'll admit, I do have one plan. And I'll tell you about it, so perhaps I'll shame myself into actually following through on it: I'm going to write. A lot. That's all I'll say. But I'm going to chain myself to a chair for a while. I will also catch up on my TiVo stash, while hopefully burning through some other stash at the same time (a retro-prep is almost done, and I'm hoping to perhaps design an aran cardie next). But I WILL write.

This is for our Cari: urban poppies on a city median, shot yesterday morning while I was stopped at a light at 7am, headed home, holding the cell phone/camera out the car window.

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Look, they hadn't even woken up all the way yet.... I love them when they're like that.

Okey doke. I'm going to celebrate sloth. And write, yeah, yeah, whatever. But Laziness is the order of the day.

(Vacation) MWAH!

Looking Like the LocalsMarch 2, 2005

I just answered Mary and took too long to do it, so you get her answer, too. Now I'm missing Italy....

She asked:

Dear Rachael; I'll be going to Tuscany for 7 nights(Montecatini) and Rome for 2 nights at the end of our tour.  I'm going with a tour group from Pleasanton, Ca (near Oakland) and would like your idea on what to wear so i don't look so touristi on our free days.  I consider myself a young 53. What shouldn't I wear as well, i already know shorts and white tennies are a no, but since i'm leaving on Nov. 2, 2005 that won't be a part of my luggage anyway.  I'm told by others that it will probably rain and be on the cold side. Are a nice pair of jeans appropriate?Thankyou for taking the time to answer.  Sincerely, Mary

Oh, you lucky, lucky, LUCKY woman. And it's a great question.

Go get yourself the darkest black pair of jeans you can find. Black like you can't tell they're jeans. They'll fade later, after the trip, and you won't care. Get a nice black water-resistant jacket, lined for warmth, with pockets inside and out for lots of stuff, but it should be sleek and shouldn't LOOK like it has lots of pockets. I like it to fall to at least my thighs, and I like it to have a zip-off hidden hood. I have a great London Fog one that I got at Mervyn's, I think.....

Then, get some V-neck black tees, three or four of them (you can wash clothes every night and hang them over the radiator which you WILL have in your room, and they'll be dry by morning, even jeans -- you can totally get away with bringing only three pair underwear and socks, three tee shirts (including the sleeping one), one dark wool sweater, one pair jeans, and two pair of shoes (one boot and one nice pair if you bring a skirt)). And when you get there, buy two or three different colors of those fake pashmina shawls that they sell in stands everywhere. Don't pay more than 20euro. Wearing all black with a splash of color at the neck will make you fit in. Italians approach me all the time for directions while in Italy. Yay! That's my favorite part.... Then I open my mouth, and the jig is up. Best to keep your mouth shut and run the other way. Then they'll never know.

(Good black boots are great to wear -- Mephisto or even Birkenstock has a wonderful black boot that is water-repellant.)

Also important in the Non-Identification is what you carry -- I try to carry very little, except for bags holding things I've bought (the locals are holding those, too). If you hate ripping up books, buy two of your favorite travel guides, and when you get to a city, rip out the pages that you'll need while there, and keep them in one of your pockets. Get a good digital camera (with LOADS of memory -- most important part, expensive but worth it -- I usually take enough memory to take about 100 pics/day at highest resolution) that will fit in another pocket. Reserve an inside pocket for your driver's license and debit/credit card. Never ever use a different pocket. Yet another pocket should carry all your day money (easily obtained from any of the bajillion ATMs, just make sure you have a four digit passcode to get money out). Leave the passport at the hotel (the desk clerk may have asked to keep it for you, as they are allowed to do -- don't be scared, you'll get it back). If you want to carry a journal, I like those small Moleskines and a tiny pen, which fit easily into another pocket.

There! Now the only thing that will identify you is your tour group! Leave 'em in the dust, says I. And go sit in a cafe and watch the people scurry past, drink Prosecco at noon, and dream.

Sigh. Don't you want to go?

BonjourMarch 1, 2005

Not much bloggin' going on here  -- the little mama's in town! She and Christy arrived last night from Paris (I'd say it in French, just for fun, but I cain't even fake that French accent, not even in typing). Look, she just showed me her transit card that she got while there:

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She says she looks startled, but I think she just looks tres Parisienne. (She did say that she lost count of the times that people asked her for directions, and she actually speaks enough French to fake it, or at least explain that she wasn't from the area.)

And today we're shopping because she's the matron of honor in her best friend's wedding on Saturday, so I much splash into the bath now while Mom catches up on TiVoed Oscars (bah). Adah would like you to know that she's still annoying. And Digit would like you to know that he's still fat.

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And Lala would like you to know that Spam comes in many flavors.

Spamwcheese