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10 posts from April 2007

Sheep PoodlesApril 26, 2007

Why doesn't THIS happen to me?


   I is snoozin.

First, THANK YOU for your lovely, wonderful comments about Digit. A lot of them made me laugh, and some of them made me cry. The image of the limping coyote will always be with me (I saw one this morning on my way to work, just around the corner from the house, and I checked his legs for limps -- he was fine, so he wasn't The One). Your comments meant the world to me, thank you.

But you want more pictures, right? That's why you're really here. That's why I would be.

Because I'm working a lot this week, and possibly all this weekend, and the kittens couldn't come home with me until the night before I started back to work, I wanted a safe, secure place for them to be when we weren't home. I wasn't about to leave the two kittens with either: 1- our three curious dogs (although I'm sure Clara would have them reading Tolstoy by the afternoon), or 2- my yarn room.

So I bought a big ole crate in which to make this little nest, where they'll stay for the next week or so while we're not home and they get JUST a bit bigger and more confident:


Yes, people, that is a cashmere sweater inside the carrier. A cashmere sweater that Clara ate the sleeve from, but cashmere, nonetheless. A wool sweater that suffered the same fate is next to it, then a bit of carpet, and their litter box (they're very well trained) and their food and water.

But the part I like it best is the hanging scratcher you can't really see that I hung in the back, so they can climb, and that weird hammock looking thing hanging from the top. It was an impulse buy -- I found it in the hamster section of the pet-product store -- and it's awesome. This is what they do A LOT:


There are two kittens in that picture. One is just sleeping and smushed.



This is Willie Joe. Willie for Shakespeare (rescued on WS's birth and death day), and Joe for the Race That Knows Joseph (an Anne of Green Gables-ism for kindred spirits). He's a little more timid, and will always have bed-head, I think. He's not officially long-haired -- he just has SOME long-hairs.


This is _______________ . Lala, being the best wife ever, let me bring home TWO kittens on a day we hadn't even planned on getting one, so she gets to name this one. You can give her ideas, but please, for the love of god, let them be good ones. I didn't know I would be a control freak about the name, but apparently I have strong opinions about it.


Willie, chillin'



See how fluffy Willie is? And No-Name (Lala? Noname? Like the sushi?) is just a big spaz -- confident and a little purrbox. I have yet to get Willie to purr. It's my goal. I love them.

In other news, last night it is reported that I said in my sleep, "They were just spiteful Canadians, anyway." THAT IS SO FUNNY TO ME. I love sleep-talkers, and I love the fact that I am one, sometimes, and HELLO! There ARE no spiteful Canadians, so I'm proud of my sleep creativity!

RIP, and a SurpriseApril 23, 2007

I was blue today. Been fighting the blues for weeks now, and I guess I'll tell you why, even though I don't want to.

I lost Digit about six weeks ago. I think a coyote got him, and I hope that's true, because thinking of him dying by way of a car or a kid with a .22, that's no way for a fighter like Digit to go. Before anyone lectures me on the merits and morals of keeping your cats indoors, know this: That cat HAD to go outside -- he almost died when I kept him inside, he grieved so much. He came to me eleven years ago as a four-week old rambler who had to suck milk from a rag, and he was a son-of-a-bitch every minute of the day, and he loved me more than anything, and I loved him more than I ever knew was possible. Dammit. He had eleventeen lives, and he used the last one, I guess. My little polydactyl transgendered guy (crystals, you know) grumpy tough guy who still sucked on my clothes and held my hand as we slept (he always slept in front of my face as I slept on my side, one paw curled into mine). He kept the dogs in line, and Lala and my mother shared second-place in his affections.


He was the cat of my heart. and yes, before you ask (please don't), I did everything, put up the fliers, visited the shelters, kept visiting them, went through the death files (good times). My sister Christy did the nicest thing you can do for someone who's lost their beloved -- she went to some of the shelters FOR me. I knew it was hopeless, though. I've known since day one of his being gone. He's been gone for more than a week before, and I always knew he was fine. This time, I just knew he wasn't. (Once, he had been gone a day or two, and I knew he was hurt, so I went hunting for him in the hills, and after calling a long time, I heard him crying for me -- he was lying on a hillside, unable to move after a major catfight. I carried him home and he slept a day and then was fine.) I've always just known with him. Adah knew too -- since that first night when he didn't come home (a not-uncommon occurrence -- sometimes he just didn't want to sleep indoors), she's been clingy and needy. Lonely. Yeah, me too, Adah-pie.

I didn't want to write about it. Didn't want someone to ask had I had him micro-chipped, didn't want someone to think I was a bad cat mother for letting him go outside. We live above a creek, on a culdesac dead-end. In terms of cat country, this is as good as Oakland gets, safer than other places he's lived. But there I go, justifying again, and that makes me feel like a bad mom again, so I won't do that.

Lala's been great -- letting me cry, and letting me Not Talk about it, because really, I can't talk about it. Do. Not. Want. To. Talk. About. It. She told me I could get another cat whenever I wanted to, which, from a cat-allergic person, is a nice thing to say. Of course, I couldn't do that.

But today, dude. Last night we saw a coyote near our house, and I started thinking that was the way I'm going to think about Digit passing. A hell of a fight, that's what he would have wanted. And then today, still feeling horribly down, DMV pissed me off by throwing me attitude when I wanted to update my wife's registration (your what? My wife. Your WHAT? My WIFE.) I swear, I wanted to hit that lady. I left without hitting anyone and without what I came for, and only made it out to the car before I started crying. I told Lala I was near the SPCA, and she said maybe I wanted a kitten.

The SPCA was closed. As was the Oakland Shelter, the Alameda Shelter, and the Milo Foundation. So I took that as a sign and went and fondled paper products at Target. That always helps. I bought Ultra-Fine Sharpies for me, and a squirrel for Clara. Then I remembered that the Fairmont Shelter was right around the corner. And it was open.


I'm bringing those two 11-week old brothers home tomorrow. In honor of our fallen comrade. No one, nothing, can ever replace my One True Cat. But it'll be fun for these guys to try.

Saturday Already? April 21, 2007

Well, hello!

I am at work, and it's 7:30am, and it's Saturday, and the scary thing is that I've already been up for three hours. And I'm awake. Very awake. That hyper-awake thing you get when you're tired, right before you get sleepy. Yawn.

Last night I had one of those very unsatisfactory falling-to-sleep experiences where you're lying there, knowing you can't sleep, having lots of busy thoughts, knowing that you only have six hours to sleep. Now you only have five. Now you only have four and a half, and you'd like to grump to your wife about it who's only just now coming to bed because she has a normal schedule, and she has lots of good suggestions, and tries to turn the clock around so you can't stare at it, but you grump at her no matter what she says or how she tries to help.

Then at 4:30am, when the alarm goes off, oh, yes, I am asleep. Very asleep.

So now I'm awake but spacey. What was I going to tell you?

Oh, yes. I started a pair of socks from the TOP DOWN. I am firmly in the toe-up camp, having done a couple of pair top-down years ago and then realizing that toe-up, short-row heeled socks rock and are just plain easier. I always have three or four in progress.

But then I saw Stephanie on Knitty Gritty this week, and she made top-down socks look like fun. So I'm whipping into one now, and I'll let you know how it goes. I have this idea that after watching her that once I'll just try to remember her instructions, her recipe, as she called it, without looking it up, and see what comes out. I believe, because of this fact, I might be bored with toe-up. If I think winging top down socks is a hoot -- that might be a sign. But you understand.

But really, that show, while fun, was weird in that during the 23 minutes Stephanie was in front of the camera, she never fell over laughing, not once. I've never seen her go that long -- I believe it might be impossible, in fact. She told me that they edited those parts out, which made me feel better, because otherwise I'd have been worried about knit-body-snatching. (There'd be money in that.)

But why did the show do that? I have to say, even though these last few weeks have been chock-full of friends and cool people being the Hosted Designer, I can still barely watch that show. How do you suck the SOUL right out of knitting like that? (You darling Hosted Designers didn't do it, don't worry. You all were lovely and perfect. It's the set and the set-uppers, I'm thinking.)

But it's like the L Word (Showtime's lesbian soap opera), in a way. I have to watch, because it is the Representation of My People. I used to have to watch Knitty Gritty because I'd never seen anything about knitting on TV.  Now I have to watch because cool people show up and do some cool things. Hello, moebius! Hello, nice socks! Hello, dying sock yarn right on TV! Then, of course, they show some things that we won't talk about because of that whole if you can't say something nice rule.

How's that for a half-assed rant? It's too early in the morning for a real rant, I think. How 'bout a cute girls picture? Okay? Okay.


Oh, and go say hello to the decidedly blogless no-blog-Rachel. Who now has a blog. Heh. Another one bites the dust. 

Flaming FishApril 16, 2007


Just to show you that Lala and I have traded hair colors.

Yesterday was nice. It was a day off for both of us, and we had nothing we HAD to do. We wanted to meet up with our dogwalkers, Woofwalks, who hold a monthly group walk at Pt. Isabel with their clients. We went, and Clara ran her ass off, trying to avoid an intact male Retriever who had the hots for her. Good exercise, I say.

Then we shopped at Costco, the making or the breaking of a relationship, and we marvelled at the consumer culture we live in. People roll cheese and LazyBoy chairs out in their carts. That's wild and scary to me, but they have really, really good cheap toilet paper, so what are you going to do?

We bought some cushions while we were there, too. The couch throw cushions are so dog-smelly that I had recently taken to hiding them when company came over, so we got rid of them yesterday and bought two red ones, and two furry ones. I forgot that Clara's favorite toys are her plush furry animals (oh my god, especially the duck. She loves her stuffed duck). So I put the new pillows on our couch, the big couch. Clara sits on the little sofa, and eats her frozen kongs there. I keep it covered with a sheet over its slipcover, so it stay clean, but she certainly doesn't get to have pillows on her couch.


This is what we found ten minutes after I had put out the pillows. She had moved them to her couch, and more than that, she had ARRANGED them. These are not callously thrown, they are not being lain upon and chewed up, they are just thoughtfully and artfully placed.

Last night, we barbequed to the sounds of our neighbor's party. They had a boomin' stereo playing mariachi and it sounded like they'd set up an amp and a mike, so we heard impromptu karaoke that got progressively wilder, louder, and drunker as the night went on. The funniest part was at 10:59 pm -- we were lying in bed, just about to finally get annoyed that it STILL sounded as if it were in the room with us -- when the music was shut off. It was like Mom said, "It's eleven, no more. You're done." The men then went into the driveway and sang along with the car stereo, but it was totally ear-plug manageable by then, and it was pretty damn cute.

Also cute, and I have to tell you this -- we caught the fish on fire last night. We have these cedar bbq planks (from Costco) that have been sitting in the rain, so they are already wet. The instructions say to soak one in water for at least 20 minutes, so we do. Then we cook the lovely salmon steak on top of it in the grill. We go inside for a minute, and come back out to flames coming out from under the grill lid. I run inside to get something to put the fire, and Lala lifts the lid, and uses the spatula to hold up the flaming plank, topped by our flaming fish. She's yelling something, and I finally hear that she's yelling, "Get a plate! Get a PLATE!"

I think, wow, she must have one interesting way to put out flames -- she's going to SMOTHER the fire with the plate! I never would have thought of that. So I bring her the plate, and she puts the flaming board back down on the grill and rescues our fish onto the plate. Then she just looks at me. She's done her part. So I run back in, grab the baking soda, and douse the fire.

I totally love that she saved the fish. I saw flames, I thought of extinguishing the same (might be a byproduct of my job). She saw flames, she thought, oh shit, dinner! And the fish was wonderful, by the way. Just a little charred on the outside edges, perfectly done inside. Yep.

That is all, I think. For now.

Square Footing ItApril 11, 2007

So Lala got a jones to square foot garden. It's a phrase I've heard all my life -- my father being one of the first on the bandwagon back in the DAY. So we read the website and got the book (get the new one, not the old one) and talked about it. She had a very good point. We have a nice-sized front yard and a better than nice-sized backyard, and to the right of the back deck, we have a HELL of a lot of concrete. Someday we'd like to take that all out. That day, however, is not today, and we don't know when it will be, so why not garden on top of the concrete?

Of course, she came up with this solution in the fall, so we waited, and then I woke up yesterday with the need to DO IT ALL RIGHT NOW as I am wont to do.

And I gotta tell you, it was easy. Three and a half hours, from beginning to end, and that includes an hour and half of shopping at the hardware store and the Big Longs (o, how I love thee, biggest Longs in America). At home I finished the construction, soil mixing, and planting in two hours.

Read his site for answers (I certainly don't have them) but here's basically what I did:

Had the lumber store cut 2 eight foot 1X6s in half, so I had four four-foot pieces. I also bought deck nails, framing nails, and wooden lathes (six four-foot lengths) for the grid (essential in the Square Foot Bible - do NOT leave off the grid).

I used my drill (and I remembered to buy a bit for the deck nails, hooray!) to assemble the lumber (I am so butch).

    Lovely concrete, before


    A square! (Kinda.)

    I put weed cloth down so those cracks don't bother us.


The mixing of the perfect soil is the hard part. The website and book explain it, but basically, you're making an even mixture of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. That last is hard to find in the right quantities (I bought eight bags of it) and it is IMPOSSIBLE to remember its name. I kept thinking vermicelli. Verisimilitude. Vermiculite would NOT stick in my head.

So you dump eight cubic feet, total, onto a huge tarp (and you should really wear the mask -- I didn't think that would be so necessary, but that stuff is dusty and stinky) and then you drag the short end of the tarp to the other short end, rolling that heavy, heavy mass back and forth inside the tarp until it's all mixed up. Above, you can see it's almost mixed. That was hard work.

Then you add it to the box! That's hard, but fun. I dragged the tarp over, tucked the end over into the box, and rolled all the soil in. I had just the right amount, a little bit left over.

I was happy about that.


Then you add the grid, which just took nailing (and my sheep measuring tape), and was very fun to do.


Then I got out my seeds and decided what I wanted to go where. The goal is to have no adjoining boxes have the same plant. I think I put thirteen different things in the sixteen boxes, and I drew myself a map (thank god, because I would have forgotten by now). I know I put in spinach, edamame, several kinds of bush beans, bush cucumber, some habanero, basil, two kinds of beets, ummmm. I can't remember the rest. But I know at least some will come up. I hope.


Isn't that the coolest?

This is now what it looks like from the deck:


And today I'm home sick from work, so I can sit out there and look at it. It rained this morning, and that can only help, too.

I'm fighting a migraine that knocked me out last night and part of this morning -- any good remedies? I'm desperate. Right now I feel a little better, but it's as if there's a big gorilla next to me, and he has a vice-grip on the base of my neck, and if I get out of line, he'll hit me again. The migraines are hormonal, but I can't go on the pill, and I react really badly to even plant-based progesterone products. I've been doing acupuncture, which helped, but not totally. I've given up coffee completely. Fi0ricet works on the pain, but I'm pretty useless when on it. The Relpax/Imitrex/Maxalt triptan family of drugs don't do a thing. Anything else you can recommend? Thanks, man.

Chickami Madness! April 10, 2007

New Class at Knit-One-One!


You all probably know how much I love the Fabulous Bonne-Marie's pattern, Chickami. Welp, now I'm teaching a class on it. Dress it up or down as much as you life: we'll work through designing your own. Add a lace panel? Why not? How 'bout some cables? Learn to cable without a needle? Okay! Bring 500-1000 yards of your favorite DK-to-worsted weight yarn (cotton is good for summer, Rowan Calmer is dreamy), a 24inch circular needle that allows you to get 5st/inch in YOUR GAUGE, and you're good to go.

I had to whip up this sample version this week, since the old pictures of me workin' this tank show me with some crazy old haircuts. (Back to dark -- I like this new haircolor (Loreal Feria 51) much better.)

And oh, my god, I'm in love (again) with Rowan Calmer. This stuff is all right for lace, but PERFECT for cables.




I think you should totally take the class with me. But if you don't live here, then you should go buy the pattern, if you haven't already, and then throw in your own touches. And then tell me about what you did with it!


Oakland RoolzApril 8, 2007

It's Easter night and I worked 12 hours and Lala is cooking Thai spicy curry with tofu and green onions and squash and all sorts of other good things.

A moment ago, I was sitting on the deck with a glass of wine, and ohmygod, I could hear a fiesta with a real, live, full mariachi band. It wasn't your two-guitar-one-trumpet combo -- no, this band had at least three trumpets, and maybe twelve other pieces, as well as the four male singers in high harmony, with the listeners ai-yi-yi-ing in ALL the right places.

They're still out there, I think, and dinner is almost ready, so I'm going back out to the back porch, but I had to tell you about it, because I adore you just that much. What a gorgeous night.

Secret GardenApril 6, 2007

It was always one of my most favorite books in the whole world. I think I've mentioned to you our secret garden, but if I haven't, indulge me. If you go through the back yard, down to the back fence, there's a gate under the trees. If you open the gate, there is a rather surprising shallow flight of wide wooden stairs, dropping five or six feet into another little garden area.

We keep the gate shut, because the back of the secret garden is city-fenced, and the fence has a large dog-sized hole in it. Clara has expressed interest in it in the past, and I need to repair it before letting her down there without supervision. The last thing we need is a border collie crashing through a ripped fence and falling into the creek below.


Yes, the creek. It is the NEATEST thing to have back there. Unfortunately, this year it just hasn't rained enough, so the water level is still low, and will remain low all summer. But it's so shady and green and ivy-filled back there, and there's nothing on the other side but the high school track, which is barely visible through the trees (I never knew I would love the sound of kids playing so much. Really, the sound of games and races are so awesome to hear).

I want to do something with it, but I don't know what. I have a romantic vision -- I am sitting in a comfortable chair, with a low slung table in front of me -- I am writing while my tea steeps in the pot. Of course, I am wearing something soft and flowing and lovely. I might have long, curly locks in the vision, but we won't talk about that.


But in reality, there are issues.

Ivy, everywhere. I know enough about ivy to know that where there's ivy, there are rats. Ew.

Black widows. Twice, I've gone down the stairs and broken strong, non-sticky webs, that when pulled off and balled up, give off that peculiar black widow web stink. Did you know about that smell? You probably didn't want to know about it, but now you do. Luckily, black widows don't want to meet me anymore than I want to meet them, and they stay pretty hidden in dark spaces, but ack.

Furniture. Right now we have two plastic chairs back there, and they get pretty damn gross. I think I've only sat in them a couple of times, and that was only to sit and think, how nice it is back here, we should do something with this, and then I get up and go back up to the back yard proper and forget its existence again.


So, ideas? Wooden furniture would be nice, but I'd be worried about spidies all the time. Pulling ivy? Should we plant something? It's really compact clay back there, shaded almost all the time, a relatively high level of moisture due to the creek just below. It would be very hard to dig up, and I am essentially lazy.

I spent fifteen minutes down there the other day, just sitting on one of the steps, listening to my iPod, resting after furious garden exertion on the other side of the fence. Clara was sad that she was left out.


Right after I took this shot, Miss Idaho strolled right under the gap under the gate, giving Clara a pitying look as she came to sit with me.

We've all got gardens on the brain, don't we? I spent hours this week working in the front and back yards -- put in TONS of flowers, some tomatoes, some herbs. I even mowed the lawns, which left me with this:


This was an empty green waste bin, and is quite a bit bigger than our regular-sized trash can. My muscles ache today. Victory!

(Also and a complete non-sequitur, but I have to mention it -- while listening to NPR this morning, the radio announcer said Crucification. She was using it as a noun, and while I don't normally trip on an unreal word accidentally used, it was way too close to my accidental confisticate. I have no idea when or where I became convinced that confiscate had an extra syllable, but I did, and once I said it out loud, in polite, smart company, and I almost died. I feel so badly for that announcer, dude. That's blush-for-a-day-worthy.)

Legal AnniversaryApril 3, 2007


So we're sitting in the hotel restaurant that overlooks the ocean. It's just sunset, and as we are seated, the hostess says "Happy Anniversary." It isn't until we've settled in and gaped at the view that we really look at the two women seated at the corner window, right next to us. I would guess they're in their late fifties, or early sixties, and they're watching the sunset, just finishing their dinner.

Lala and I look at each other. Are they together? Are they sisters? We don't want to make any assumptions.... Then one leaves for a moment, and when she comes back, she rests her hands on the other woman's shoulders as they stare out to sea. As they leave, one of the women kind of stops, and turns, and says to us, "Have a good night," and smiles. I instantly regret not having asked them what they were celebrating (they have the same ribbons on their table, the ribbons that cued our hostess to wish us Happy Anniversary). They are together, and it makes us happy.

Then we have the most amazing meal. We share a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and I have steak, she has swordfish. From time to time, Lala whispers that the couple behind us is being super sweet -- an older man and woman are holding each others' hands and laughing. That makes us happy.

When THAT couple leaves, the woman touches my shoulder and says, "How long have you been together?" One year, we tell her. "Congratulations, I remember our first year." She smiles at her husband, "This is our thirtieth." A few more pleasantries are exchanged, and they leave.

I am almost in tears. I feel like those two couples, sitting on either side of us, have blessed us, much like Mandy's Zak did last year, when he doubled back to say that Mandy was his best friend, and that he hoped we felt about each other they way they did. But intead of crying, I eat the creme brulee and we toast each other.

It was the BEST.

And look! Today, the 3rd, is our second first anniversary -- this is the legal one, one year since the day that we got really truly married in Canada. And to celebrate, Lala's gone to work, and I'm sitting here in my pajama pants and a tee shirt, trying to decide what to do with my day. I have some unpleasant things I simply HAVE to do, so instead, I'll show you some pictures, shall I?



There is a great toy store in Mendocino. I did not come home with this guy, although, there is a great yarn shop, also, and I might have come home with a couple of unmade socks. Maybe. I'll never tell. (There is also a great music shop, and neither of us came home with another instrument. We are very proud.)


Honestly, holy hell, has no one told them? The only way this sign would be right is if the store in question was celebrating an un-named something belonging to ONE season, but Lala noticed it was a store full of all four seasons' stuff (note how I mark possession? Hmmm?), so it's just wrong. We loved it. (Oh, I just found their website, which I will not link, out of courtesy, and the possessive apostrophes are there sometimes, and not there other times. Wow.)


Hey, good lookin'. That's my wife, standing on OUR DECK at the hotel. If you can swing it, someday you MUST stay at the Albion River Inn, five miles south of Mendocino. True, one night runs the price of three nights anywhere else, but it is worth every penny (especially when you book it as soon as you get your tax refund, and then you forget that they charged you back then, so when you get there, it's as if it is free! Yay!).

We stayed in room 20, which is the best room, I think. It's on the end, a little cottage right on the cliff edge. They left us a bottle of wine in our room, and provided things like robes and binoculars.

They also provided my favorite feature:


That cliff is private and fenced off -- no one, not even guests can walk on it, so no one is going to walk in front of your bath. We watched hawks wheel right in front of the window. It was a.maze.ing.

    In front of the restaurant.

    Our view at breakfast.

    What the ocean saw.

And here's to many more. It's been the most amazing year, if crazy-busy, and for our second year, we wish for health, happiness, enough money to pay the bills, and enough time to cut the grass and then watch it grow. Love is good.