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« September 2006 | Main | November 2006 »

17 posts from October 2006

October 28, 2006

People! What is UP? You don’t write fast enough. I went through my bloglines and read everything (you know how to do that, right? Click where it says the number of feeds you have, and they all fill in – make sure you have either the time to read them all or else the stomach for skimming) and now everything is cleared out and you aren’t WRITING. What is up? You have something better to do on Saturday night? Besides keeping me entertained while I’m at work, working not twelve hours, but thirteen because of the stupid time change? Out gallivanting? Huh? Huh?

I suppose I understand. Fun-havers, all of you. 

But now that I’m thinking about fun, and because I care, I will now share with you:

THE BEST, FUNNIEST BOOK I HAVE READ IN AGES. 

The Yes Man, by Danny Wallace

It is so good that I finished it on the airplane coming back from Europe, didn’t have another one on me because apparently I had no brain cells at ALL, and just started reading it again from the beginning.

Funny? Oh, my GOD, is it funny. A Londoner, Danny Wallace is living in a funk after a breakup, hiding under his covers and not going out. A guy on a bus tells him to say yes more, and it’s A Revelation. He says yes to EVERYTHING after that for an entire year. Everything. Not some things. But everything. It’s amazing where in the world one can end up if one says yes to every question posed.

Also, he’s just a good guy. A nice, funny, sweet, bumbling, enthusiastic goofball – the kind that I’d shoot darts with in a bar and end up taking him home and making him spaghetti. (By that I mean spaghetti, you dirty-minded Saturday-night fun-having people.) 

And it’s more than just a funny read. Might just change the way you look at the world. It’s a happy, hopeful, wonderful read, and you will love it. I mean it.

BUT THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: 

Do NOT read the back of the damn book. The publisher placed, like, the WORST spoiler ever on the back. If you read the back of the book, you will learn something big, something that you should NOT know until the last few pages. On my copy, I’ve blacked out the offending phrase. If you buy the book, put a cover on it if you can’t help stealing peeks. It’s important, I swear. I don’t read backs of books, so I didn’t know, but Lala did, and she was sad about it. Simon Spotlight Publishers, take note. That sucks.

(Oh my god, I originally linked to Powells, because it’s independent, but they have the same spoiler! Don’t read it! So I linked to Amazon, but you should really call your local bookstore, instead. Yes, that’s it. Then have THEM sharpie out the text on the back for you. I’m not kidding. Plus, having worked in a bookstore for years, I would have loved to do that.)

Be GoodOctober 26, 2006

I like making people do things that are good for them. I like prodding Lala to go to the gym, my mother to go to the doctor, my sisters to take this vitamin or read that book. It must make me very annoying.

That said, I have a list of things You Should Do.

You should save a life, save your country, and save your knitting.

Ready?

    * Go give blood and join Martha's blood drive. Martha's mom has lymphoma and almost couldn't get the blood she needed. Go save a life -- that's really what you're doing. Isn't that cool? I know it's been too long since I did. I'm going on Monday.

    * VOTE. For the love of pete, vote. Don't let this year go by without voting. I know you're too smart to wake up that day and not be able to find time, or your voter packet, or your car keys. Pretty much, I feel this way: If you are a citizen of this country and don't vote, you're a bad citizen. Sometimes when I find out that friends haven't voted, I actually feel let down, disappointed in them, and I'm not used to ever feeling that, because I have fabulous friends. Like you. You won't let me down, right?

    * When knitting, SSK this way: slip one knitwise, then slip one purlwise, knit 2 tog off right hand needle. I bet everyone knows this, right? Everyone? Really? Why didn't I know this? Knitting through both back loops didn't look right, SSK with both slipped knitwise didn't look right, but you know me, I don't care if it won't be noticed from a trotting horse. But this way is so PURDY. Did you know about this? Knitting for 29 years and I just found this out. Dude.

Now, go be good! Mwah!

Oh WOW. Laura in Alameda just left this comment and I think it's wonderful.

You know, as a nurse, I have hung blood (meaning administered it) many, many times. It is never a mundane moment. On the outside of the bag, along with the id number, the type of blood, ( A, B, O, pos or neg), the familiar Red Cross symbol, there is a phrase that never fails to send a good chill down my spine: volunteer donor, and the region it came from. People who get blood are usually very, very sick. Sometimes, it is the only thing that will save them. I picture answering the personal questions asked of blood donors, standing in line, rolling up their sleeve, wincing for the needle stick- giving the life of their own body to someone who needs it keep going. It's like the image of lighting one candle off another- it doesn't diminish the first flame to have lit the next. So, go forth and get stuck, and if I am the nurse who hangs your blood, I will send a silent prayer/tribute winging up to you.

Debunked! October 25, 2006

Thanks to Lala (who said, Darn) and a couple of dear readers (thank you!), the vegemite myth has been debunked. Vegemite is still legal. We can all breathe easier. And tastier.

And thank you ALL for your wonderful compliments on Pumpkin Spook. Yay!

Pumpkin SpookOctober 24, 2006

A new finished object (or two)! I swear, I can't finish a sock to save my life lately, but the sweaters are falling off the needles.

Wait! Let's set the mood. In honor of spookiness, with Halloween just around the corner, does THIS scare you?

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No? You want more light? Okay, I get that. A rather blurry Rachael:

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Specs:
Pattern: None, just used Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting without Tears, using her seamless hybrid suggestions (Brooklyn Tweed reminded me of this sweater with his fantastic version). I threw in a cable I found in a book somewhere (I think it was Walker, but I can't swear to this) on the sleeves, and ran them up the middle. I planned on steeking it and making a cardie, which I might still, but right now I like it like this.
Gauge: 4st/inch
Needles: 5US
Yarn: Mega Stoppino Fuso 603 (darker) and Mega Stoppino 208 (the lighter orange) by Lana Grossa. Probably used about 10 balls total, 900 metres.

I LOVE the color. Here's a pretty true shot of the color:

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I also learned that our new camera has this cool 10-shot function where you can set the self-timer and get a lot of shots, fast. Very fun. Led to some silliness.

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I kind of lost my mind when I did the back neck -- I should have continued the cable, and actually did, but it bunched, so I ripped back (ack! I don't do that!) and put stockinette in the middle portion). It's kind of six of one, but I think the cable would have looked nice all the way across. But oh well! Ain't rippin' now.

I love the neckline. The hole ended up rather square, which I liked, so I just picked up, knit about three rows, wrapped and turned, and then cast off loosely purl-side facing.

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And look at this graceful SEAMLESS goodness (god bless EZ):

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Happy wandering cables:

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AND, well, I finished another one about two weeks ago. I think I mentioned I botched a sweater? I made a Debbie Bliss Lara with this yarn I picked up in Venice. But it turned out toooooo small. Not incredibly small, but annoyingly so. So I added a bottom band, and I'm going to put in a zipper, so that it will just go tightly over a tank top. Throw-on-and-go beater sweater, it will never be. But it's cute-ish. Must put in that zip.

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Blogging takes a long time with this many pics! Gotta go! I still haven't watched The Amazing Race yet! Bye!

US Bans VegemiteOctober 22, 2006

Really. Here's the article.

THE United States has slapped a ban on Vegemite, outraging Australian expatriates there.

The bizarre crackdown was prompted because Vegemite contains folate, which in the US can be added only to breads and cereals.

Expatriates say that enforcement of the ban has been stepped up recently and is ruining lifelong traditions of having Vegemite on toast for breakfast.

Former Geelong man Daniel Fogarty, who now lives in Calgary, Canada, said he was stunned when searched while crossing the US border recently.

"The border guard asked us if we were carrying any Vegemite," Mr Fogarty said.

"I was flabbergasted." Paul Watkins, who owns a store called About Australia in San Antonio, Texas, said he had been forced to stop importing Vegemite six months ago.

"We have completely stopped bringing it in," he said.

"(US authorities) have made a stance and there is nothing that can be done about it."

I'm DEVastated. My mom is a Kiwi, and that stuff is gold, baby. GOLD.

Word CountOctober 20, 2006

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
    Annie Dillard

That quote has both inspired and scared me for years. I've been thinking about it a lot lately, as I've been finishing up some little things, completing a small writing project prior to the Big November Challenge.

You know, sometimes I wonder if I'm really a writer. This isn't the place to pop into the comment box and give me a pat on the shoulder; I'm not looking for that, but thanks. It's just me talking.

I answer 911 to pay the bills. I drive dogs around. I vacuum. I watch Project Runway. Is that how I'm spending my life? Do I write? I babble here, and I publish random articles in random magazines, but really, writing? What I call myself, do I deserve to give myself that label?

But I was futzing around online -- I want to write and store my NaNoWriMo novel somewhere online, so I can access it from wherever I am -- and I was playing with applications. I used older documents to test the apps out. I happened to check word counts.

Dude.

NaNoWriMo's goal is a novel of 50,000 words completed in 30 days. That's a short novel, to be sure. But that's what they've defined their novel to be.

The two documents I pulled up? One is the Long Work, that's been in the pipes for years now. That one was 149,000 words (it's been THIS close to being finished for so long). The Short Thing I've been playing with for a little while now, that was already at 38,000 words. So in terms of the NaNo word-count, that's about three and a half novels. Sure, neither are done, and neither are published, and I'm not sure either ever will be. Doesn't really matter that much, honestly.

It's really that they're there, you know? That these two alternate worlds are in my computer (and backed up, yes) and in my head, that I can drop into them, and it's like they exist. I can picture my character's living rooms. Their hair in the mornings. What they order at the coffee-shop. Who they miss.

That's writing. I guess I've been writing. I'm happy about that. It's kind of strange how much better seeing word-counts made me feel. Writing doesn't weigh much in your hands. It certainly doesn't pay. It's hard to prove. But word-counts don't lie. I guess I have been writing. Yay.

Big NewsOctober 17, 2006

The Whoreshoes new album, Get Lucky, is available NOW!

Now really, the first album which was more like a demo, it was good. Cute. I would have liked it, had I heard it without knowing the band.

But this second one, and I mean this, is objectively awesome. If you like bluegrass/honky-tonk/old-time/country, you'll love it. I would love this album even if I weren't married to the banjo/lap-steel player (but I am, and thank goodness). Lala wrote two songs on the album, Race to the Bottom, which is a sad, sad story about drinkin' (can you imagine?) and Blue Skies, which is always getting stuck in my head, which is unfortunate because then I sing it out loud, and apparently I don't sing it right. But anyway. I love those songs.

And Camilla wrote one called New Men in My Life that has arguably the best line of any drinkin' song out there today. You'll know the one I mean.

So go on over to CDBaby and click on a couple of the samples if you need any more convincing. And tell 'em I sent you.

*And they get a plug from Maia! Yay!

Whistle ThisOctober 14, 2006

My brain is full of a lot of things tonight. I'm thinking about the NaNoWriMo, and what I'll write (I have no idea). And about someone who drives me INSANE and not in a good way, but I'm dealing with that. Remind me to tell you about my revelation about complaining that I had recently -- it IS true that the things that bug you most about a person are really your own problems. I'd always heard it, but in this case I knew it couldn't be true. Yeah, um, it is.

But more on that at another time, when I am more awake. What I am wondering at this moment is why the heck is it such an intimate thing to whistle with another person? Hmmm? Think about it. Well, I guess you won't know, unless you're a whistler. But if you are, you'll agree, I'm sure.

I'm one of those whistlers who can't stop doing it. If there's a song on in the background, I'll be whistling, and usually I don't even realize it. I don't realize it until I notice that someone else is also unconsciously whistling. Then there's that awkward moment when you both realize what's happening and you either both stop, or one bows out, and the other maintains the tune politely for a few notes, as if in thanks for the concession, and then she'll stop whistling, too. And then ten minutes later, you both do it all over again.

The exception to this is when you're in a store, around people you don't know from Adam, and two actively-whistling whistlers collide in an aisle. They just might have a few bars of competition, and the louder one usually wins. But I do harmony better than most, I must say. Oh, the weirdness of harmonizing with a stranger. It's almost unbearable, the strange intimacy. Rather unpleasant, actually. But interesting, no?

Forty more minutes and I'm on my way home for a good day-sleep. Then a walk with the dogs and the wife, and then another shift, and then the weekend. Couldn't come at a better time.

List! October 13, 2006

  • Come to The Whoreshoes CD release party this Saturday night in San Francisco!  All the cool kids will be there. Which is why I'll be at work. But you should go,    anyway. Seriously, it's a great album, and it'll be a great party.
  • I signed up for NaNoWriMo. Woot! You should, too.
  • I finished that Debbie Bliss Lara made from pink and purple Italian yarn, bought in Venice. It is too SMALL. O, it is to weep. I've added a bottom ribbing, which makes it long enough, and I've ordered a zipper, because then maybe it'll be okay, stretched over a simple tee-shirt. I am NOT ripping, and I am NOT giving it away, because it is, as I've said, Venetian. And I have a little problem worshiping the Venice, you know. I'll show you when the zipper's in.
  • I am now working a simple cardie and got out a stitch counter that I've never used before, just bought it the other day because I was running low on them. You know the kind, hangs from your needle. But get this: It turns the wrong way -- the single digit counter is on the inside wheel. It makes my brain hurt.

Welp. October 12, 2006

When I feel like I'm behind in everything (when DO people find time to clean under the couch and vacuum the car and mow the lawn and save money for retirement and change the oil?), why is it that I get a wild craving to do NaNoWriMo? (In which one writes a novel during the month of November.)

So. Are you behind in things? What?
Wanna do NaNoWriMo?
Talk to me.

Happy ThingsOctober 8, 2006

Hey, know what? I have the best knit-ring ever. You're in it. That's one of the reasons why I've deleted all rings from my blog in the past few months -- I now have the best one ever. Requires no code and no membership and no queue and no stressed-out admin. It's just you and me and a bunch of other terrific people, and it includes all the people I like and the people who like me. And really, I don't know anyone else, because I don't keep people in my life whom I don't love and enjoy. Sounds easy, and isn't. But it's worth it.

With that said, and my heartfelt thanks for being part of my knitting/writing world, I give you New Things:

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From the back:

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And a rather blurry shot of the FABYOOOLUS buttons I bought in Venice, y'all. I knitted most of this on the trip, and I was able to walk into a notions store that Lala spotted and bring out a front piece to try them against.

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SPECS:
Pattern: Interweave Knits, Fall 2006, Sienna Cardigan by Ann E. Smith
Yarn: 100% Cashmere, from School Products, their heavyweight coned stuff. Mmm.
Needles: 4US
Gauge: 16st/4in (loose knitter, the loosest)
Mods: None. Great pattern.

I love this sweater. It's a little boxy but I find I'm liking that. I have enough totally form-fitting sweaters that this one makes a nice change.

And before I forget, here's the shawl I made Christy:

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And a detail:

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It's just like the wedding stole I made (scroll down in Finito), same fit, although it uses different side panels.

Formula: Pick yarn you like (this is Karabella's silk/cashmere blend, can't remember the name), pick two designs you like (I chose the Twin Leaf Panel and Totem Pole, Barbara Walker Second Treasury, p.235 and 254, respectively). Cast on enough stitches to support the panels plus a 4st-garter border, with 4 purl stitches between the panels. Then I usually do about a 8 row garter-stitch border. Go for as long as you like or until you run out of yarn (I usually use 4-ish skeins), and then do 8 more garter-stitch rows and cast off. Voila.

I run off now to pick up the little mama, who is in town. We're doing pasta and old Lost episodes tonight. Woot!

yay!October 7, 2006

Lala blogged. Not about Europe, but about the Chicago airport, which, really, is kind of the same thing, right?

Also, Bay Area Knitters, don't forget about tomorrow's (Sunday's) really cool Knit and Crochet Fall Fashion Event, happening at Artfibers in San Francisco, 4-7pm. Basically, it's a new pattern line that they're displaying at a nice little shindig. You  should go. The sneak pattern preview, seen on their website is awesome, and done by our own Kira. Really, it's exciting.

Friday NightOctober 6, 2006

Okay, even if you're not sick, go read those comments from my last post. They will make you want to get on the couch and Be Comforted. Seriously, just reading them warms my heart. For a moment I forgot I wasn't the sick one. Lala is. But she's much better now, thanks for the good thoughts.

Me, I'm going into Alleve territory, and girls, I think you know what I mean. Only naproxen helps, and unfortunately, driving to work, I realized I had forgotten to bring ANY ONE of the no less than five bottles in our medicine cabinet. This is why we have so many bottles -- I always forget to bring them when I need them. I pulled over at the Sevey (7-Eleven) and bought another seventy-three dollar (or thereabouts) emergency bottle. Gonna be a long night.

But I'm now prepared. One of the good things about working 911 on midnight shift is sometimes you're fully staffed and it's slow. Which means you get to knit. I've been knitting up a storm, yo. I'm about to finish another Debbie Bliss Lara (with yarn from Venice), and I've finished the second green cardie this month (will show you soon) and I finished earlier this week a red silk/cashmere (Karabella) stole for my sister who's going to be a maid-of-honor and therefore needs something gorgeous for her pain. I mean, really. We chose to have no one stand up with us when we got married, because I didn't want the Drama of the Bridesmaid's Dress. Screw that. We just wanted people to come and have a good time. But if a bride wants the big fandangle, then bless her. And the maid-of-honor should have a nice stole. Yep.

She's Home!October 4, 2006

And she's propped up in bed, looking at teh intarwebs, having eaten a burrito for breakfast. I can't fathom it, but she looked happy. She's sick as I've ever seen her, whooping bronchially and blowing her nose in between, so we're going to the doctor this afternoon.

Last night I made her a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, and we watched Finding Nemo, and she smiled for the first time in two days. Everyone has their comfort traditions, don't they? Mine is egg salad sandwich and 7-up, while (as an adult) watching Sex and the City. Come to think of it, before the age of choice, instead of TV, I preferred reading Harlequin romances. So that's kinda JUST like Sex and the City. What's your comfort tradition?

October 3, 2006

But I suppose it's good she didn't fly out last night. Reader Sara sent me this link:

What They Call Weather Out There.

Now, I'm off to the airport, to see if Lala really will land, 3:30pm, almost 24 hours after originally planned, more than 48 hours after she left Belgium... Poor sick thing. Will keep you posted.

Chicago BlowsOctober 2, 2006

I am sure that title is completely unoriginal, but it is new to me, therefore mildly amusing. It would be better were I not so mad.

Chicago, give it a rest, will you? I got up at 4am today to work an off-day -- I was excited ALL day because Lala was coming home at 5:15pm. We were going to get burritos. Then the flight got delayed. Until 8pm. Then 11pm. Then 1am. Then she sat ON THE RUNWAY for three hours, watching the rain, before they unloaded them again.

Her flight is now cancelled, nothing leaving until 2pm tomorrow! And the hotels are now full, so they've given her a cot. I could barely hear her for the blaring announcements, so I'm sure she'll rest well there.

She's sick as a dog. When she called, I didn't recognize her voice, it's so far gone. She rarely gets sick, and when she does, she's SICK, so this is awful.

All because Chicago is having something called "weather." What, you can't fly in the rain? Come on, don't go all L.A. on us here. You people are supposed to know what to do in "weather."

And I know my rights. I went to the Weather Channel to see if a hurricane had hit, and sure enough, there was RAIN listed with 16mph winds. Sixteen. Okey-dokey. So I clicked on further info, for Warnings and Watches, and I was only told, "No warnings in affect for this location."

Effect, Chicago. It's effect. Buy the right vowel, okay?

Actually, it's not even Chicago's fault, when it comes right down to it. It's American Airlines janky-assed attempt at running an airline. If I pay $875 for a ticket, and you charge me $5 for a dry turkey sandwich, with no apologies? You get me home on time. All I'm saying.

BruggeOctober 1, 2006

I’m at work, and while I would love to finish up the Venice Chronicles, I don’t have the technology to do so, the pictures being at home. But I DO have the pictures from the end of my trip.

So here’s what we’ll do. I’m all PMS-y and prone to wild bursts of organization and lists, so you’ll get a very small dose here.

Chapters of Lala’s and Rachael’s European Tour 

  1. Brussels (blogged, check)

  2. Venice (you saw some, not all, but really, that might be enough)

  3. Back to Belgium, where we join The Whoreshoes (will blog when Lala is home with that camera and its pictures)

  4. More Belgium, in which Rachael is alone

So I’m skipping ahead to number four. Just watch me!

See, I thought it would be an adventure, me in Europe with no camera. One of the things I love best about travel is not only BEING there, but SEEING differently. I see it once with my eyes, and then again with through the camera lens. Framing things makes them different, doesn’t it? I can sit in a square that I’ve spent hours in before, and then I hold the camera up and see something that I never noticed.

I left Lala and our jointly-owned camera in the band house, everyone still asleep. I had a full day extra, having pushed back my ticket a day, and I wasn’t going to hang with the band anymore. I saw their first gig in Europe. I can see as many shows as I like while at home. But I was in Belgium, for the first time ever and I intended to see more of it. By myself. I love traveling by myself.

I left the house, trundling my suitcase, my backpack on my back. I walked in the direction that Ludo, the girls’ driver and soundman, had pointed when I asked about a bus that could take me to the train station. Oooh! Really, I was just out and about in a small Belgian town (Herentals), and it wasn’t very exotic at all, just people driving to work and wheeling prams, but to me it felt so foreign and exciting.

I found the bus and waited for it, trying to blend in, failing miserably. I can fake it in Italian, to a certain extent. I can’t fake ANYTHING in Flemish or French. I know how to apologize, though, and isn’t that the most important part of communicating in a foreign language?

From a note I wrote in my diary at the busstop:

The weather is perfect. It’s that dry, autumnal windy warmth, the kind that always makes my blood stir, to write, to move, to love. If I were at home in this weather, I’d want to be someplace like this, somewhere, traveling in a foreign land, so it’s good I’m here.

I got the bus, then got the train, and then got another train and ended up in Brugge. It had taken longer than I had thought it would to get there, almost three hours, not the simple hour and a half, and while I’d enjoyed the travel immensely, knitting and staring out the windows, listening to music, watching the green unroll, when I stepped off the train, I was suddenly very, very tired.

I was SO tired. I was suddenly sad that I was so far from Lala, in this far-away country, and maybe I should have stayed with her, and it looked like it might rain, and what did Brugge really have, anyway?

I made the decision that I would just move my feet. I would put my suitcase in a luggage locker, go find a square and have a coffee, and then maybe I would just get on the train and head back to Brussels. Give up on this new city. Too much, too many hours of traveling, had all added up.

So I walked. I got to a square and with jaded eyes, I got out the map that I was given at the Tourist Info Center. No point, really.

I got out the slip of paper upon which I written the name of the only yarn store in town that I could find info about online. I found its address on my map. Yes, of course. The train station was at the very south of town. The yarn shop was at the very north tip of town. As far apart as they could be.

Sigh.

How important was yarn, really? I mean, come on.

Well, I suppose I could take a cab.....

That was it! I’d flag down a cab. I’d seen a bunch of them flying around town. I would cop out and catch a cab, look at yarn, and get the hell out of dodge.

I started walking.

You can guess the rest, right?

No cab anywhere, none to be had. I saw the whole damn city on foot, and it was glorious. Such a gorgeous old lady of a city, all cobblestones and canals (strange, how they smelled so much like the Venetian ones, that smell that I love).

Oh, yes. I almost forgot to say: I lasted approximately fifteen minutes there before I marched into a store and bought a disposable camera. Click for bigness.

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Look at that sky!
 

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I love windows.

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You can take the bus, or the horse.

And of course, Stikkestek (Walweinstraat 3. Tel: (050) 34 03 45.)

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Such a nice owner, and I came out with all SORTS of goodies. Well, okay, only two different kinds (can't remember which, since I'm at work and can't go run to the yarn room to check) but have since seen BOTH yarns at my LYS. Damn. Oh, well, they were way cheaper there.

Then I left the yarn store, rambled out, and took a strange little side alley that looked promising. (I learned that from my mother. Who is not, as it sounds, a hooker; she is just adventurous that way.) And DUDE, did it pay off. The little alley led into a wider alley, and then into a tiny pocket-sized park with THIS in the middle:

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Strangest thing ever. Really, it was a park, with benches and trash cans and families playing and a woman strolling through looking like she was on her way to work, and SHEEP in the middle. I believe all parks should have this. And free yarn, while we're at it.

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Imagine that strange, warm, dry wind while you look at the above picture. Those leaves were scrit-scritching as they swirled.

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Good window.

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Good water.

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Me, happy as hell I went to Brugge.

And quickly, because I've written enough already, the end of the trip: I left Brugge and trained to Brussels, got a hotel room with a BATHTUB and then got tired-of-travel again. I almost took a bath and went to bed, knowing I'd have to get up early to catch another train to the plane.

But I made myself move. No copping out. I went to the gay district (north-west of Grand Place), and had pasta on a sidewalk outside a leather-bear bar. I was joined by a group of kids who were loud and crazy and nice. One of the guys introduced me to another girl who walked up, and I understood enough French to know she said, "How do you say bon apetit in English?" I said, "Bon apetit." She laughed and said, "Bon apetit!" I raised my fork to her.

I left, and trolled the streets looking for a girl-bar. Doesn't that sound bad? But honestly, trolling for girl-bars in Brussels is like looking for an apple in the library. Kind of hard to find, but someone has one somewhere, and it's pretty darn innocent. When I saw the girl crying out front on the steps, another cradling her head and whispering things in her ear, brushing the hair out of her tear-streaked face, I knew I'd found the place. I had a beer with my people and just watched. I just liked being there. The only person I spoke to was a straight guy who offered me a cigarette. I walked back through the square, where groups of people sat on the ground, singing and eating and hanging out.

It's good to push past that Don't Wanna part of yourself, isn't it? Proven again.
Thus endeth my Belgium-alone section.