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16 posts from May 2006

ProofMay 31, 2006

As proof that spinning is sexy, this happened Monday night: Friends were over with their two young boys. Eli is about five, I think. He wanted to know how the spinning wheel worked, so we went in my yarn room and I showed him. He immediately, intuitively knew how the wheels and gears worked together, how the drive band worked, and why the flyer wasn't spinning when the yarn leader wasn't threaded through the orifice. Five-year old boy, people. Things I still don't get unless I think very hard.

Suddenly, he was threading a pair of my underwear onto the wheel, under the drive band. (Clean ones from the laundry, I will state for the record.)

See? Cogs, gears, wheels, and panties. Boys think spinning is sexy. (And so do girls, thank goodness.)

Spinning is SexyMay 29, 2006

You know it's true. See?

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Look at her cute SHOES! The new Cafepress Store is here.

(I like best the switchplates, I think.)

WeekendMay 28, 2006

In pictures. (Jeez. And a lot of words. I just finished this post. I meant to do only pics. Oh, well.)

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Taking the train, I've learned, is ridiculously beautiful this time of year on the Central Coast (the folks live near Pismo Beach, south of San Luis Obispo, and I live in Oakland, and it's the best trip in the world to make by train, I'm convinced).

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The Little Mama is hardcore when it comes to having fun. If it means adding water after each stop (and it does), she will.

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Tell me you don't want to spin that hair.

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On the drive to Solvang, you might run into an ostrich farm. Do pull over, because for five bucks you'll get two buckets of grain, with which you can do THIS:

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This is what it looks like up close:

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Hold on tight, 'cause they're strong and hungry.

On to Solvang, where we're on the way to the Village Spinning and Weaving Shop. This is a lovely store, run by two lovely people who confirmed what I've suspected: Alpaca farming is a pyramid scheme. I'm sure this isn't true in ALL cases, and certainly not in YOURS, but dude, people who raise alpacas don't seem to know that the fiber is worth anything. I asked the owner of spinning shop if there were any good farms around to visit. She told me of two, but said they'd just done their shearing and most of it had been thrown away if it hadn't been sorted immediately by volunteers. Apparently the tax advisors for these farms tell people that the fiber isn't important and is just too much work. Ack!

So Mom and I head out again, fortified by a good Solvang lunch, to look for alpaca. We take back roads into Los Olivos, a trek I couldn't make again if I tried (we went down a "No Outlet - Not a Through Street" street, and found that it did indeed rejoin the highway on the other side. They lied! Maybe all those signs are lies! Just something to keep in mind, drivers). We don't find the first place we'd been told about, so we head back in the direction of home.

Enroute, we see the Firestone Winery and remember that the woman at the store had mentioned alpacas in the same breath as this place. So we pull off and explore. We find the very location of a pivotal moment in the movie Sideways, fields of grapes behind us, the valley floor in front, and we find the winery FULL of people discovering the same thing, but no alpaci. Anywhere.

We give up. We're driving out, bereft and alpaca-less, when I spy a small sign: Alpacas of West Ranch.

Alpacas! Everywhere! We ask the nice woman if we can look at them and she says yes, have at it. (I ask about fiber and she says they don't have any, that they just throw it out, but they're thinking of changing that sometime.....) So we wander.

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Well, hello! You know how when you approach an alpaca field, they shy away? (You don't? You should!) One field of  reacted that way but this one certainly didn't. As we approached this back pasture, they ALL crowded the fence, headed straight at us. They sniffed our hands, and I touched this gal's head several times:

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She didn't like that much and HMMPHED at me when I did it. Then I was cheeky and petted her back, and she stamped her feet at me. But she didn't move away much, either.

We even saw a baby albino alpaca. It is to kvell.

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After much fun, I got on the Coast Starlight (which was ON TIME, imagine) and came home. I loved, loved, loved it. It's my new favorite thing to do. This is an excerpt from ramblings I made while rolling the rails:

The happiness coming from looking INTO so many houses, so many backyard-lives, does it come from the sense that anything seems possible?  A broad overview which then moves to a bird's eye view of our own lives? The feeling of safety not found in cars or buses -- being sturdily strapped to a rail, with nothing left to do, nowhere to run or turn, just able to go in one straight line. Airplanes are much the same but have a greater feeling of risk. Although we know that trains can crash and topple, we don't really think it happens with great regularity -- it's not something I worry about when I sit down on a train -- will we stay on the tracks? like I do with airplanes, worrying about whether this box with metal wings will stay up in the air when its nature is to fall. Trains just roll. Period. Adding music to it with the iPod adds instant emotion, instant back-road, blue highway pathos to it. Especially if a fiddle is involved. Then not only is every filling station passed imbued with romance, but surely that man leaning on the pump has a spark of a travel-dream in his deep blue eye -- you can see it in his wink as your flashing eyes meet through the glass.

But really, what it comes down to is this: For cheaper than it would be to rent a car and buy gas, I am on the train. There is cold beer in the lounge car along with a young fella named Aaron who takes huge and warranted pleasure in making the snack-car  announcements sound like a big-budget movie trailer. He seriously made me buy the M&Ms just by the way he said "choco-laaaaaht." With my headphones in, the windows are the best movie ever. I have my feet up on my legrest, and I'm in the lower deck, with the older folk who don't run around and scream like the young-uns upstairs. We're going as fast as the traffic on the freeway where I would normally be, and it doesn't slow down, let alone stop, when I have to take a bathroom break. If I chose to have dinner and polite conversation with strangers, I'm sure it would be delightful, but I'm deliberately quiet and mysterious on this train ride. At least, that's the way I feel. In my imagination, I have smoky eyes and I'm wearing black, and you can see the smudges of ink on my hands. In reality, I'm wearing my fire department work sweatshirt and red pants that on anyone else would be capris but on me are just floods. My shoes are vintage and interesting, at least. I cling to that.

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I read magazines (Runners World, Spin-Off) and the new Susan Orlean in paperback and drank a couple of beers and watched the world flash by. I claimed a seat in the Observation Car, and behind me sat three Koreans, drunk on Bud Light, who sang happy Korean songs for about two hours.

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Stealth photography

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I'm home now, and I just cleaned the house. Lala and are going out to see X-Men 3 tonight, and I couldn't be happier to be home. Sure was a nice away-time, though.

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UpdateMay 26, 2006

Ack! Sorry, Brandi Carlile apparently has no "s" in her last name, and even then it's been reported to me that she's hard to find, so search in iTunes for "Brandi" and "Hallelujah" and it should come up.

HallelujahMay 25, 2006

Do you have 99 cents in your pocket? Can you go spend it at iTunes, please? I bought Brandi Carlisle's Hallelujah (the live one, recorded at a radio station) and I am astonished by the fact that I think I love this version of the Leonard Cohen song even more than Rufus Wainwright's. Rufus will break your heart with sugar, his voice candy-coating the words that will like-to-kill you if you even read them written on paper. Brandi's version just SLAYS you. I love being dead like that.

I'm at the 'rents on the Central Coast right now, spending time with the little mama. I rode the Amtrak train-slash-bus connection down here, and I'm taking the Coast Starlight home on Saturday. I felt so.... techie on the trip down. While on the train I listened to my iPod nano while watching the view flash by, and then when the bus hit the boring part of 101, Gilroy, King City areas, I broke out the PowerBook and watched Netflixed Gilmore Girls (season three, and like, Jes is SO cute) while knitting. Way more fun than driving, and with gas prices, cheaper, too.

The internet connection here is a little slow, however -- they have a new computer that's running on dial-up at 28.8 Kbps. I can run faster than that, yo. So forgive me if I'm behind in email -- I'll catch up next week. And go buy that song if you want to be dead. You know what I mean.

FitDayMay 22, 2006

So Lala found this really cool site. I loves a good graph, and this site does it all -- it charts what foods you eat, how many calories you're burning doing whatever it is you do all day. There are charts to watch how much you're moving, how many miles you're running, how much gardening you're doing. It's kind of heartening to see that I'm actually doing more than I thought I was, actually. I was tempted for a moment to lie about my profession and put in my occupation as "Carrying heavy loads, such as bricks," or "Forestry, ax chopping, fast" or even, "Steel mill, removing slag." But no, I'm more of the "typing, electric, manual or computer" type and that just doesn't burn the same amount of calories. Imagine.

Thanks, Y'allMay 20, 2006

for the fantastic comments. I do love that sweater. I love mostly how it's acrylic and I didn't overheat in it as much as I do in wool or cashmere or alpaca, my favorite fibers. And it's cute! It doesn't show things that I don't want to show, which with knitting, you're never that sure of until you put the garment on. That was an awkward sentence. But you get what I mean.

Anyway. I'm in the middle of a 70-hour work week, and I'm strung out on coffee and chocolate. Apparently I'm too lazy right now to make myself a sandwich, so dark chocolate-covered pretzels and Trader Joe's Cheddar Cheese Squares seem to be working for me. Don't mind me if I'm quiet for a bit. Conserving brain cells for 911 calls featuring people who don't know where they are (KNOW WHERE YOU ARE, PEOPLE! All the time!), driving (on roads filled with people who don't know where they are -- at least know the HIGHWAY you're driving on), and clicking the TiVo button. Now me, I know EXACTLY where those buttons are...... Shhhhhhh.....

Roman SnugglyMay 18, 2006

See what patience gets you? A coupla photos or three.

Ecco la:

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    The Double-Barrelled Em. (click for big)

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    The Oh Jayzus I Hate Back Pics Pose

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    The I'm Seriously Out Of Good Ideas - I'm A Little Teapot Pose.

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My camera is giving up the ghost, finally, but you can see more of the detail here. Also, you can see the coffee-table, where I'm deciding what to make now! That's the best kind of decision making. Usually I have tons of things lined up to make, and right now I don't. I got to flip through all my books and mags, and have decided on the Corset Pullover from IK of yore (Spring 2003, to be exact). More to follow as I go.

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Specs:
Pattern: Vogue 2006 Spring Summer, from Roman Holiday section. Watch the chart, it's kinda ballsed-up in a few places. Use common sense.
Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly. Don't laugh. It's washable and cool, yo.
Size: Largest size, 44 bust I think. I've forgotten already and I'm too lazy to check.
Needles: 4US
Mods: I didn't add that twee little collar, because while on twiggy there in the mag it looked great, my cleavage needs no further attention drawn to it.

Conclusion: I love it! It's lightweight, comfy, and cute. I'm gonna get a lot of mileage out of this one.


Clearing BloglinesMay 17, 2006

You know what is freeing in this blogland of ours? Going to your bloglines account, clicking on that underlined number of feeds on the left side, and watching them ALL clear and fill in on the right. Then you skim all the blogs in your seriously-more-than-a-thousand unread posts, and your eyes are free to land on what's really important -- pictures of new knitting, announcements of impending marriage or babies, someone being REALLY funny.

Then it's clear and that weird small guilt is gone. I have, it's true, recovered from most of my blog guilt. I used to think that people would be mad at me if I didn't comment. Isn't that stupid? Yeah, I know it is. Then I realized the truth -- when people I adore comment on my blog, I'm thrilled to hear from them! Yay! But when they don't, it never crosses my mind that they didn't. I don't sit around and wonder why Blogger A and Blogger B haven't commented in a while, so I finally figured out the truth -- no one else does, either.

Which is good, because I'm a crap commenter. If I've EVER commented on your blog, it's probably in my bloglines. (If you don't have an RSS feed, I probably don't read you, sadly, because my brain is completely and totally unable to remember things like that on its own.) And if it's in my bloglines, I read you (okay, sometimes I skim. But I get the highlights).

Then, at least three or four times a week while I'm reading, this happens: I'm moved by something someone says, I open the comment box, I have something vaguely in mind to say, something that will be both pithily trenchant and achingly witty, I start to type, and then I go, eh. I shrug. Close the box. Wonder about my motivation. Then I get annoyed by my wondering. I move on to the next blog.

That's okay, really. I don't comment much. I get behind in blogdom. But you know that I LOVE being here. My blog passport is well stamped. It's an amazing, loving place to be, and I'm glad.

And dude, I finished that blue sweater! It looks great! Lala likes it, which means it's maybe a little form-fitting, and she said I have to blog it ASAP, but that means taking photos and posing and I've been LAZY about things like that lately. I have one day off this week, and that's it. And on that one day, I'm not doing much of anything. I will definitely try to get you a pic, though. I'm proud of this one.

Now We're CookingMay 14, 2006

It has come down to this: I am a fancy cooker. Lala is the good cook -- she cooks everything well. Not well-done, mind you, but done well. She knows how to make things taste good, using their natural tastes and herbs and spices and things like that.

I want to wear a fancy apron and do a little dance with the cocktail shaker. That's the way it goes. We got a LOT of gifts for the wedding that support me in that.

Wedding gifts I've used in the past two days:

Cowboy print apron with pink pleats and yellow fringe.
Kitchen-Aide mixer for mixin' brownies (from SCRATCH).
Food processor for chopping up strawberries
Red blender for mixing cream and sugar
Ice cream maker for freezing cream and said strawberries
Electric ice cream SCOOP for scooping out ice cream (did you ever? I never did).

That's my kind of cookin', baby. Lala made a lovely mahi-mahi and potatoes. I made caprese, with real buffalo mozzarella, basil, roma tomatoes, and olives. Lala cooked. I threw together, my lipstick matching the wine's blush. That's the point, y'see.

Thoughts on CleaningMay 12, 2006

Have I mentioned my Dyson before? Do you have ANY idea how much I love my Dyson? Seriously, if I wasn't married to Lala, I marry it. (That's just around the corner, you know. If they make gay marriage legal, what next? It's pretty reasonable to think that people will be marrying their vacuum cleaners next. I know I would.)

Not to go all product placement on you, but seriously, that thing works. (I just have the low-end yellow one.) It sucks EVERYTHING up, all this hair and white dust-skin-looking stuff and things you wish you didn't know about. It WHOOOSHES up into the clear bucket, and sometimes I stop myself from looking at it while I'm vacuuming, just to save the thrill for the very end. I take the canister out and run at Lala: Look! Dude, check all this sh*t OUT! That's from US! I like the squawk she makes when I do that.

Earlier, while I was vacuuming under the bed (yes, it's still a new-to-us house), I vacuumed up a kleenex. Now, that's power. Nothing like it.

I do think, however, that I killed the bathtub in my eagerness. It's been looking dingy, and there's always been a crack in the bottom that looks EXACTLY like a spider. So I went at it with SOS (the box SAID I could), and everywhere I rubbed turned a grimy grey. I think they must have done that tub refinishing paint stuff on it, and I think we need to do re-do it. I hate looking at it, though. It looks dirty, when it's perfectly clean. Ew.

I do like to clean the house. I love that feeling after you clean and after you shower, when you walk the floors in bare feet and you pick up nothing at all.

Bleah. I have a weird tummy-thing going on recently. I'm going to relax now. I just made some Moosewood Cookbook (the new one) brownies, and Lala's in charge of dinner, so I'm going to go watch Oprah. I took some pics of the tub, but pics of a tub are really, truly boring, so here's some of my recent knitting:

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    Note the tongue.

It's a sleeve from the newest Vogue Knitting (the green one in the Roman Holiday series, done in blue Sirdal Snuggly, I kid you not). And you know what? I'm working the last sleeve, and it seems a little small. Oh, wells. It'll fit someone, right?

And this is how Harriet helps:

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Okay. Oprah now. Have a good weekend, all!

Quickly, A Nice ThingMay 10, 2006

Yesterday, when I was driving home, I passed one of those road signs -- the big light-up kind where they can print sentences telling you when to merge and what to watch out for.

The one I passed just said:
YES.

May 8, 2006

Lesbians' brains react differently!

Lesbians' brains reacted somewhat, though not completely, like those of heterosexual men, a team of Swedish researchers said in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A year ago, the same group reported findings for gay men that showed their brain response to hormones was similar to that of heterosexual women.

In both cases the findings add weight to the idea that homosexuality has a physical basis and is not learned behavior.

Well, dur. Lesbians' brains different? No! Still, anything that pushes a little nature-not-nurture out there in the news is fine by me.

But hey, this may explain why neither of us can remember a birthday to save our lives.... (Seriously, that's one of the reasons why we got married on April 1st -- so that if we DO forget an anniversary, we can "April Fools!" our way right out of it. "Ha! Gotcha! Betcha thought I forgot! No, I got you this, this, errrrr....  ballpoint pen! See? Barely used! Happy Anniversary, babe!")

We're Here!May 7, 2006

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Lala and I are having the BEST time EVER! Maryland Sheep and Wool rocks! I've been hanging out with all my friends, and spinning and knitting, and cleaning out all the vendors of all the fiber they brought. I'm so glad we're here! This afternoon I plan to eat a lamb gyro followed by cotton candy followed by a fried Twinkie. Yay, us.

Well. Okay. We can't have ALL the fun this year -- we have to leave some for the other people, I suppose (although I firmly believe there's always enough fun to go around). Photo carefully transferred in from last year, when we WERE there. Or I could have brought in the year before that when Bethany and I were there:

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So, nope. Oh, well.  I'm at work today. Lala's digging holes in the garden, probably. I'm wishing I were at the Sheep and Wolf Festival, but mama really does need a new pair of shoes (or at least her boots need new soles, fer real, I walked 'em OFF in Canada), so here I am.

Savin' money. Yep. Hoo-ray. Isn't this fun? Not buying new, happy, bright fiber. Not dropping spindles. Not finding secret spots behind market stalls to make out with my girl. Not driving to New York to show off my purchases.

Small sigh. A very, very small sigh, one that I'm rather ashamed of. It's a long day, and I have cramps, and I'm fighting off a migraine that ate my head last week and is still lingering and I'm just vaguely grumpy. Grump.

Isn't that dumb? That's dumb. And I'm dumb for feeling bad about feeling grumpy.
Dumb.
Grump.
There's something rather satisfying and cheerful about putting those two words together. Grump dumb.

I'm gonna knit. Sheesh.

Well, That Was DisgustingMay 4, 2006

There is, in American suburbia (which is I suppose where we live, albeit with occasional gunfire mixed with the firecrackers), a marriage legend that all subscribe to: The little housewife, making the fancy dish for her man. And then, tragedy: the flan flops, the roast wrecks, the fish flounders. There are tearful apologies, but then he chucks the little woman under the chin and tells her he loves her for SO many other things. Years later, in the glow of candlelight and a perfect souffle they laugh about those years and burnt casseroles gone by, while the grandkids chuckle underfoot.

Yeah. Okay.

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I had high hopes. Spanish Chicken and Rice Casserole (recipe here). I was going to impress Lala when she got home from work (I had also worked a 12 hour shift, but that was behind the point. (That was a typo: I meant beside, but I think I really like behind instead)). I would whip out this little taste treat, and she'd fall at my knees.

'Course, Lala doesn't like chicken. So I bought ground turkey, because that's all my market had. And she doesn't like peas, so I bought green beans. (She's really not that picky -- those things are all I really have to avoid -- pity they were BOTH in my Recipe for Romance.)

Then I couldn't find quick-cooking brown rice (WTF?), so I bought short brown rice. Short equals quick, right?

And then I FORGOT the big ole 14 ounce can of stewed tomatoes, so I substituted tomato sauce.

Cooked it all up, for about 50 minutes, and know what? The RICE didn't COOK. So we had a fine meal, nice and tasty, or it would have been, had it not been filled with CRUNCHY RICE.

Thankfully, I made a nice caprese (tomatoes, basil, olives, fresh mozarella, drizzled with olive oil and salt), which Lala LOVED because she'd never actually been exposed to real, fresh mozarella (wait till it's buffalo!), so that was all right.

There's ice cream for dessert, so I suppose the little woman made out all right in this chapter, but yes, I know I'll be laughed at for this for years. It's a curse to be married to a good cook, I tell ya. Hey, it's been a month already, can you believe that?

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Pick that rice up, baby, you're gonna need it later....

An Important Fire TipMay 2, 2006

On a Sunday afternoon, when you smell smoke, and your brain panics, and you think wildly to yourself, "It smells like burning flesh! Oh, quick, for the love of cashmere, call 911, and scream about the burning!" I'm going to suggest that you take a moment and a breath. I know it's been months, perhaps decades, since the sun's been out, but that smell? It's something known as a barbeque, and it's not threatening you in any way, unless your brother is out there playing with the lighter fluid, in which case I suggest that you keep the phone handy.

(Last week our next-door neighbor was having a barbeque, and the smoke was drifting across the porch. I placed myself on the swing, right in the smoke's way, on purpse. I LOVE the smell of it so much I wanted to trap it on my clothes, my hair. Yum.)

Lala and I have been enjoying this blog about doing up a Victorian in nearby Alameda, and she just sent me this page: Crimes Against Victorians. Enjoy.