28 December 2007

number 51

Dude, I had 50 posts and didn't even know it. Duuuude.

Coffee-shopping it with Laura, "working from home," on my first latte and third caffeinated beverage of the day, the first being a pot of black tea ... feeling glad I knit myself fingerless mitts last winter with desperation. This winter I think I'll knit myself some in alpaca, because it's warmer than wool, and because I wear these things to pieces.

Off tonight to 'Appy Hour and Sweeney Todd. Yup.

I have misplaced an entire bag of whole wheat flour. The possibility that I used it all exists, but only in a small way; it's far more likely I lost it. Other things I have lost: a pair of jeans one summer; several watches; three-inch blade pocket knives, to airport security and the general universe; an Israeli bracelet from Noah in Paintbrush Canyon in the Tetons (I had it on when I went in, but not when I came out the next day); several pairs of dress shoes and 'real' earrings one summer in college; a favorite black cotton shirt ... so really, it isn't that weird to have lost a bag of flour, except my kitchen is not large, and where else would I put a bag of flour?

I wish I didn't get so cold so easy. I'm in the mood for an early winter camping trip. I used to go on one annually with my dad and brother; they'd put me in between them to sleep in our two-person tent, in my own 20-degree bag with another one spread out on top of me. I kind of was warm enough. But that was Missouri, and it wasn't 20 degrees on those trips, not like here.

Also, I'm ready to go vegetarian. I've been thinking this for a while, and the only worry is that vegetarianism seems like veganism with significant cheating to me, and milk products suck for me because I have more than enough mucus already ... but I can't afford the meat I want to eat (free-range and organic) and not the cheese and milk products either ... but good lord Crane Alley makes an excellent burger with portabellas, onions, and gorgonzola that made me rethink this whole thing.

So what I'm really thinking is I like/d being vegetarian, and that it always makes me want to go vegan, except vegan is hard to pull off. I might do it anyway.

And I might not. Last time I was vegetarian hardcore, not like the two years I spent afraid of cafeteria food but the real no-meat six months of my life, I also stopped eating rich foods (think fried, along with eggs) and sugar/s. I dropped weight like crazy. I also lost muscle like crazy, culminating in a sudden inability to lift heavy things (like toolboxes) -- quite different from the months before, when I would lift fifty pound bags of dry clay and not blink. All this changed when I realized that not only was I not eating meat, but I wasn't eating ... and I started longing for lunch meat ... and I ended my vegetarianism. Yeah, for lunch meat.

Veganism is cool, though. But I'd eat honey.

Okay, now my thumb is aching randomly and I'm going to leave.

22 December 2007

The problem with traveling is ...

how much yarn do I take with me? Thankfully my needles are easily condensed.

Things to finish knitting before Christmas morning:
--one arm, two legs, one tail, and two ears for a knitted cat doll in shocking pink
--one floppy dog ear on one psychedelic purple hat for oldest niece
--two other indiscriminate ears for other hat for younger niece
--a lot of the Apple IIE hat we're fashioning for our cube-headed niece (oh, there will be pictures)

That list is so much shorter than it was a few days ago. Goodness.

After we buy one book at the store, our shopping is DONE. My present for Noah is even wrapped; he's still asleep, which makes the subterfuge easy.

To knit before Jan. 8:
--one scarf for one man I love very much, in a Fibonacci-derived stripe sequence, in charcoal grey and burnt orange alpaca yarn

To knit before I leave stl if it's possible:
--a small soft thing for a dear friend of whom I am very proud

And then it's time I start some socks for myself, people. I may pay Birgitte to teach me, even. I may just read on Knitty and go to it, too. I've decided the only way I want to learn to knit socks, and thus, the only way I want to knit them, is toe-up on two circular needles. I think I'll split my yarn into two balls when I ball it, too, so I know exactly how tall they can be. I love tall socks. Like knee-high.

I think I got a cold yesterday. YESTERDAY. We started heading to bed, I started a combination dry/wet cough, and now I'm all sore inside, my sinuses hurt as per usual, I'm worried about the babies in Saint Louis ... so it goes, I suppose. It is winter, after all. I have my antibacterial lotion, which I will wield with great force.

So yeah, we're leaving today. We are not packed, Noah is still asleep, I am not dressed -- but we are leaving. Sometime.

Produce in the fridge I wish we'd eaten already, instead of falling asleep on the cough nearly every night this week:
--two bunches of watercress with roots attached
--beautiful celery hearts
--one pear (I think we can handle that)
--tasty dates and figs (well, I can get rid of those ... with my belly)
--six zested lemons, and a bunch of other lemons and limes
--white potatoes and sweet potatoes

Maybe I'll bring some of it with us. It's a short drive, relatively.

21 December 2007

GoodReads sent me a Poem of the Month

by Lorna Johnson

Still Mouths

This is about the way things breathe
in my absence. About the sound
of things breathing that are supposed to be
silent. About the way I can almost catch
a chair filling with air, a wooden spoon
left near an open window, opening its small mouth.

Mouth the secret of these still things who
breathe in, out,
spoon the air from window ledges,
sound like tambourines or flames crackling.
Catch something breathing.
Be quiet.

Be still. The clock advances like a
mouth speaking strict lines.
Catch the sound of tense lips that cannot open to
breathe (even the
sound of death can soothe. The chair. The
spoon.) Certain among us are beyond this fear, and simply

spoon air into invisible lungs.
Be still, and know that I am
sound. That you are
Breathe in.
Catch the same breath leaving.

Catch god taking his air with a
spoon. What gods eat we cannot even
breathe, let alone
be. And still my
mouth waters, thinking of the
sound of spatulas, the

sound of saucepans when they
catch a ray of air, open a small
mouth to it,
spoon it in. When I enter, they will of course
be silent. But they will still

In my kitchen, it is the things who breathe. Though I cannot catch
them at it, I think I would like the sound. Just now, a spoon
shifted in a drawer. Trying to be quiet, opening its mouth.

18 December 2007

daydreamy day

I have a great idea for handmade Christmas cards. Like really great. Super-great, even. I need watercolor paper (I may have some already), I need a silver pen or glitter maybe and maybe not, I need brown paint, but really I need TIME.

things left to do:
--finish one knitted cat doll
--finish the dog ears on one knit hat
--finish other knit hat with animal ears
--record myself reading to my niece who is fascinated by my voice
--decide to make another baby hat, or not; get yarn, or don't
--finish one knit cuff bracelet
--decide on two more presents
--purchase two (now one) decided-on presents
--wrap them all

If I want several small boxes for wrapping things ... can I get them somewhere? Like small shirt boxes and jewelery-size boxes? I've never thought of buying this before, but I bet I could buy them indeed.

17 December 2007

Handwashing etiquette, people!

Okay, I have not always been the most stringent handwasher. Nor have I historically been interested in hygiene ... I've never been dirty beyond belief, but there have been periods of time during which showering, teeth-brushing, shaving, hairbrushing, and general concerns of appearance and smelliness have been my last priority. I'm much cleaner now. I'm not considering dreadlocks anymore.

Insert montage here of me eating food off the ground -- as in, the forest floor, pulling my fingers through my hair and finding more snags than hair, including one unintentional dread in the back, a friend's boyfriend telling me I smell ...

But people! HANDWASHING. It is simple, it is effective, and it even feels nice -- warm water, decent soap, that "so fresh and so clean clean" feeling. COME ON. And especially if, perhaps, you work in an office building where 50 people or so use the same bathroom, and those 50 people bring between 1 and 10 people's germs with them to work, and perhaps some of us have the crappiest immune systems ever -- WASH YOUR HANDS.

For 15 seconds. Count them.

I am terrified to touch the faucet handles in the bathroom now. I am usually far more into conserving water, but I think I've been forced into 15 seconds of washing with the water on, then towel-drying my hands, then turning off the water. I'll find other ways to conserve water.

Martha's January issue has a section on how to eat to fight colds. I think I need to buy this issue, even though I already know all her tips. I can post it on my fridge and ask myself, Self, when did you last eat kale? Let's eat some kale.

Things I'm thankful for lately: a kind husband who offers to drive me to work in the snow; friends who give us their produce before leaving town (oh the organic fruit and vegetables!); friends in general; a brain that still works; good modern medicine. Decongestant can father my children any day.

Let's start thinking food for the holidays, too. What food equals holiday? I missed out on latkes. I'll probably make a kugel anyway.

13 December 2007

a catalouge of events

Much has happened.

Noah's mom passed away last week in her sleep after a 17-year fight with Huntington's disease. We had a great memorial service; her body has been donated to science; seeing his family was awesome; and in the end, we ate far too much lasange. I never imagined I would get sick of lasange. Maybe I just want mine, with all the sausage, onions, wine, and broiled eggplant.

Officemate Kyle and I have been moved into a new office. It has big windows, is a corner office, gets way more solar gain, and we share it with another person. She telecommutes most days, so we haven't seen her yet. We have room for a Christmas tree ...

My parents have been married thirty years. We had lasange with them Sunday. Srsly, more lasange.

I am hell-bent on knitting more than I have ever knit before. It helps me sleep, it helps me think, and I want to be a professional knitter. I want to start dyeing yarn today. I want to design patterns.

I may be taking Noah's mom's weaving loom, though I don't know how to weave. Can it be that hard?

Can it, really?

06 December 2007

some things I believe about winter:

1.) The only way to survive winter in the Midwest is to apply as much skin-penetrating oil as possible, as often as possible, to all parts of your body. I mean lip balm like you wouldn't believe (and I already have three splits in my lower lip), I mean sugar scrub everyday, I mean those tiny little cuts you get on your knuckles when the skin cracks open.

The best things I have found to combat this issue of winter:
-- Kiehl's lip balm. In terms of healing, it's better than Burt's. And it magically works on cold sores. I have no clue how.
-- sugar scrub. 1/2 c. oil (olive, vitamin E, sweet almond, whatever), 1 c. sugar, 5 drops essential oil if you want it. Use on damp skin, rinse lightly, blot dry. Be careful not to fall in the shower.
-- baths and showers that aren't too hot. This is hard for me: I am chronically cold, and hot water immersion is when I get warm. But too hot = dry skin forever. So I turn up the heat in my house, have a robe ready, so on.
-- Neutrogena's Norweigan Hand Cream. It is nearly straight petrolatum, yes, but dude, it goes on your hands and doesn't come off when you wash them, or work in a kitchen, or throw pots all winter because you thought having your hands immersed in watery clay would be a great thing to do -- in WINTER, when it is cold already.

I'm liking this Bath and Body Works anti-bacterial lotion. It's okay so far. Hasn't cured my sinusitis.

2.) Cold begets cold. This has many meanings.
-- If you get a cold, you will get another, sooner than you'd like.
-- If you ARE cold, you will not get warm quickly. Go into overdrive: think hats, blankets, down booties, fingerless mitts, scarves -- all on top of your sweater, underlayer, thick pants, legwarmers, and wool socks -- and all when you're inside. If all else fails, either get into a not too hot bath or into a down sleeping bag. I spent a winter in Iowa in my down sleeping bag. A whole winter. I mean until April.

3.) Humidifiers are not an option. They are a necessity. I think I'm getting a new one for the first time in my life soon. The old one is so covered in scale that I'm not sure it puts out steam, but more like calcified chlorine in a gas state. If that's possible.

4.) Notice IT'S NOT WINTER YET. You live in the Midwest. Winter starts by Halloween and can go until after Easter. Make a note to yourself not to move any farther north than you are already.

5.) Good boots. Not dress boots. Good hiking boots with tread and steel toes and ankle support.

6.) Some places in the Midwest don't use ice melting salt. Like Iowa. They only use sand. I thought my ruin was certain when I moved there and saw no salt, just sand. I thought, what good can this do? Then I saw six months of snow and ice melting a little, then refreezing at night, over and over, and understood -- traction is the goal; this ice will never melt.

7.) Cold is exhilarating? Your breath looks cool? It humbles us? I don't believe these things. I'm too busy conserving heat.

05 December 2007

what happens when I can't get a song out of my head

is I post the lyrics, folks. Here's Regina Spektor's "Samson":


You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first, I loved you first
Beneath the sheets of paper lies my truth
I have to go, I have to go
Your hair was long when we first met

Samson went back to bed
Not much hair left on his head
He ate a slice of wonder bread and went right back to bed
And history books forgot about us and the bible didn't mention us
And the bible didn't mention us, not even once

You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first, I loved you first
Beneath the stars came fallin' on our heads
But they're just old light, they're just old light
Your hair was long when we first met

Samson came to my bed
Told me that my hair was red
Told me I was beautiful and came into my bed
Oh I cut his hair myself one night
A pair of dull scissors in the yellow light
And he told me that I'd done alright
And kissed me 'til the mornin' light, the mornin' light
And he kissed me 'til the mornin' light

Samson went back to bed
Not much hair left on his head
Ate a slice of wonderbread and went right back to bed
Oh, we couldn't bring the columns down
Yeah we couldn't destroy a single one
And history books forgot about us
And the bible didn't mention us, not even once

You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first

First night of Hanukkah. Got two candles lit. I need a new box if we're to get through the eight days ... no olive oil lamps for us ... This year, I learned that the reason cheese is associated with Hanukkah, along with deliciously fried things, has to do with Judith, who is somehow associated with the same uprising as the Hanukkah folks, and who, most importantly, used cheese to get the enemy general thirsty enough so that he'd get drunk and let himself be seduced and ultimately beheaded.

Thanks, Judith, for blintzes at Hanukkah.

Changing track: What would happen if I was honest all the time? Honest to myself, honest to others, honest in general? My dad jokingly told me a few months ago that he and I are the shit-disturbers.

What if I really am a shit-disturber? I'm not convinced about that one. But I will consider the idea that maybe, honesty isn't as threatening to me as I think it would be. Maybe not much would change at all; other things would flip, of course.

Well, in the spirit of Garcia and Hunter's "Ramblin' Rose," you can take the rose out of the ramble, but not the ramble out of the rose: "Did you say your name was / (dun dun) Ramblin' Rose ... Ramble on baby / Settle down easy / Ramblin' Rose"

03 December 2007

Being a maker is, apparently, a cold-handed business. It also seems like it would need to be a self-employed business, hopefully for-profit, with a home office. Maybe someday Noah and I could rent an apartment big enough for all the rooms we'd like -- living room, bedroom, good kitchen and eating space, bathroom, office, maybe another office for me. He doesn't need much office room, but I would like his office to hold the elliptical machine ... and mine to hold more room for me. Mostly that would come down to my desk, a big table for cutting/stamping/sketching, a movable/foldable writer's/editor's desk, a good chair with ottoman ... a million shelves ...

I think the time is nearing. The time of me actually writing down a yarn budget. I don't need a drawing budget, or a fabric budget, or a budget for button-buying; I don't do a lot of those things. But yarn ... yarn.

The time of me unraveling sweaters and dyeing yarn is also near.

I am a hat-knitting fool. I finished a simple beanie out of Malabrigo worsted, oh so lovely. I finished the BAYBLES chemo cap, too. On size 3's, on a splitty yarn, with apparently another case of the loose gauge. Since when am I a looser knitter than the standard knitter?! I hate checking for gauge! But unless I want to keep making hats for toddlers that fit me, and chemo caps that come down to my CHIN (but do fold nicely, but still hide the prettiest cables) ... gauge time.

I am also a thinker who thinks about future possibilities a bit much. A bit over-thought. For example, maybe just thinking "Hey having my own office at home would be nice" can just stay there, rather than becoming "But when we raise kids I'm sure my office would be the one to go and isn't that just like the world? Trading children for making? What a stupid world! I don't want to trade anything!" blah blah blah. Let's get to that when it's in arms' reach. Not today.

I might want a different job. I might. Suggestions welcome. I have many criteria, however. And still, however, those criteria are dwindling.

Things I'm thinking of making today:
-- serious bread, of Peter Reinhart's lineage
-- Christmas cookies, specifically Swedish almond and spice/molasses
-- garlic/chickpea/spinach soup
-- schwabische spaetzle with cheese galore

-- my own wrapping paper
-- my own stamps
-- my own gift bags
-- my own gift boxes
-- my own book covers (like for binders) -- think cardboard with center cut-outs and designed paper wrapping them all, and maybe with inner liners, too

-- bulky alpaca double-knit scarves
-- some tighter and warmer fingerless mitts
-- a sweater. yeah. I want to make a sweater, I think, for me.

-- lightly cabled cuffs in kidsilk haze with beading wire for structure

um? Sounds like a full enough plate to me.

30 November 2007

upsetting and yet unimportant things

I mean unimportant in terms of being upset about them -- these things have available solutions, unlike world hunger or the AIDS epidemic or war:

1.) mold infestation in my apartment. Am I serious? I think so. My coffee pot grows mold (that's more my fault that the pot's). My trash can just recently sprouted a 3" x 6" area of gray fuzzy mold in some rotting vegetable liquid. The tile grout behind my toilet tank, the caulk around the bathtub, the seals on my fridge -- all black mold. Is it real black mold, or just mold which is black? Do I want to know?

And are Noah and I both allergic to mold? Yes, yes indeed. Folks, I grew up in a house that could grow mold on bell peppers in the FREEZER. I have no idea how that one happened. But this seems even worse.

2.) Noah and sleep disorders. They keep getting worse, and the doctor we saw today was so uninterested and unhelpful. He said, go back to the $1400-a-night sleep lab; we said, we are poor and we don't know if we still get 100% charity assistance from them; the doctor said, in sum, go see them anyway.

3.) Kyle and I are being moved to a different office with a woman who probably hates Kyle. We hear it's warmer. Grrr.

27 November 2007

oh yeah, I made legwarmers

and I did NOT knit them. I cut the feet off a pair of my mom's old double-knit socks. Double-knit in flame red and navy snowflakes, above the knee, full of holes. But man they keep me warm. In a way I did not think possible.

new illness list:
super-inflamed sinuses
super dry nasal passages (oh neti and humidifier, be my salvation)
uh, general malaise
coughing junk from the lungs and the postnasal drip together.

Keep your babies and old people away from me. And wash your hands, please.

I like the course of leeches idea. I like the idea of sitting in a sauna, too, but I don't have one. Maybe I'll make my bathroom into one; it's small. But not hot enough.

I hear that yoga and massages are bad to get when you're sick, what with all the moving lymph system junk around. I also hear that raw garlic is the key to staying well.

I'm back on my drugs (allergy and killer decongestant), out of sick days, remember, and it's only just now getting cold.

In other news, any recommendations for hard-to-kill, hanging-friendly, not-needing-too-much-sun houseplants? My five-year-old aloe is dead. Post the splitting it up and giving it new soil. I just kind of forgot sunlight and enough water.

I'm thinking philodendron. They work for me.

26 November 2007

the many loci and foci of my musical heritage

So my dad and I had this talk about Memphis, and how when I heard an American Roots episode all about Memphis, I could belt out every song they played, and I always forget I have this real country background, not just a rock/country background in k.d. lang and Lyle Lovett with a dash of Willie.

These were the other foci of my musical heritage:
Mississippi Delta
Chicago, when the blues moved north
San Francisco

Yes, David Bromberg, the Grateful Dead, Aretha, Muddy Waters, John Hartford, k.d. lang, Lyle, Willie, Los Lobos, zydeco, on and on. The basic elements: it has a beat; it encourages movement; it has a voice.

"Lula Lula Lula
Oh don't you go to bingo
You're gonna lose your money
You're gonna lose your honey" ...

21 November 2007

My dreams are all about legwarmers

I dreamt last night of, well I don't really know, but the dream featured, as one of the passerby, a young woman wearing some kind of long cardigan or coat, black capri tights, tall-shaft black boots, and little legwarmers that closed the gap between the tights and boots.

I am a genius, no?

Today's to-do list:
-- roast the biggest, ugliest, promised-to-be-tasty pumpkin for pies, etc.
-- do work from home
-- pack for Thanksgiving in St. Louis
-- stay warm! leave at 5!

The other important question is what knitting to pack. I think I've already decided -- one-year-old nieces will not have Christmas spoiled if I let them see the presents I'm making them. They won't remember. They will remember being able to pull on my long, dangly earrings, however. But not if I don't give them the chance.

I've been looking at the Anthropologie catalog -- bad idea, bad idea -- but at least right now it's fueling a desire for making snowflakes, hanging them from our ceiling ... using slightly shiny paper, something silvery too ... and making them three-dimensional. I guess to do that, you just make four or six at once, fold the vertical diameter, and attach them to each other that way? I guess?

In my head, in a few weeks before friends start leaving town for break, I'm hosting a holiday party. Snowflakes hanging down, mulled wine and cider on the stove, cookies and little things to nosh. Not a dinner, not even a cocktail party, but something cozy. Maybe not cookies, even, but cake. Cakes are faster to make, you know. Well, I think so.

I pulled out my 1982 first-print run of Martha's ENTERTAINING, looking at pie recipes. Man, that Martha. Always able to convince me I could be a caterer and host a wedding reception for 250 at my home. If I had her home, of course. You just boil 100 lobsters one day, 100 the next, and so on ...

This is the first break I have that has no work accompanying my vaca. No work at all. Knitting only. I think I might freak out. No job search, no homework, no grading?! No syllabi-writing? No plagiarists to track down?!

For all these reasons I'm bringing knitting to both Thanksgiving dinners. Yes.

19 November 2007

Chicago again, buying less things this time, eating out more, and helping a dear friend move out of her studio apartment and into her boyfriend's place for real.

Wandering around downtown today, calling my grandma, I learned my (older and second) cousin Keith has severe pneumonia and a recent heart attack. Dear friend Karen's dad has chest pain and is in the hospital in Austrailia, v. far away. Chests, I implore you to loosen and calm yourselves. Loosen and calm.

I think winter might be here. Or on its way. Autumn, at least. Not that you Midwesterners didn't know that already.

16 November 2007

more on the Doty

Doty talked about Stanley Kunitz, and read his poem "Heaven for Stanley," and talked about how really old people seem like they're always about to die and then they don't. Sounds like my great-grandmother Nana. She died at 98 1/2.

Anyway, about Kunitz: he said Kunitz wrote his best poems in his 70s (true), and wondered aloud, How does a poet get better? How do we become more vulnerable? More open to experiencing the world, better at describing it, better at letting our feelings be real and be open?

I am walking around wondering, now, how do I become vulnerable in the first place?

sickness and fashion and Mark Doty

All those things do combine in Mark Doty. I drove with Laura and Christy to see him read last night in Indianapolis, despite being certain I would vomit in her car a block from my house. Dramamine was helpful; no vomiting occurred.

Oh Mark Doty, Mark Doty. The reading was perfect.

So for me and sickness, it's still around, but mutating, maybe? Noah says I should be less negative and not assume it's mono or pneumonia, and maybe instead eat soup and drink tea and think well thoughts, basically. So I worked from home yesterday, used my "get your immune system in gear" sugar scrub (rosemary, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and sugar itself has antibacterial properties, and vitamin E oil), did the Neti thing, and drank a pot of black tea and a pot of echinacea tea.

Today, more Neti, more water, at work, wearing my warmest red wool cardigan with the high neck and the double-knit cuffs. My boss just told me I look good in red. I just told my other boss her vest is spectacular; she told me she thought I'd like it. And on Wednesday, before the imminent vomiting, my favorite stylish coworker told me I could pull off the things no one else can.

Me, fashion? I'm just trying to stay warm and a little funky. I can't help wearing scarves and wool. And colored socks and funny shoes and .. jewelery .. yeah.

I think I need to start wearing my mom's really old and beat-up royal blue leather gloves. And to knit myself some fingerless mitts to wear exclusively over the gloves. The gloves are windproof and provide dexterity, but they stop right at my wrist bones. Way too short to keep me warm. So I need some wool action. Maybe with the teal/blue thick and thin. Maybe with the royal blue bulky. Haven't decided.

Knitting, you can go on forever. Fashion, you too. And Mark Doty, leave us with some sequins:

by Mark Doty


Peony silks,
in wax-light:
that petal-sheen,

gold or apricot or rose
candled into-
what to call it,

lumina, aurora, aureole?
About gowns,
the Old Masters,

were they ever wrong?
This penitent Magdalen's
wrapped in a yellow

so voluptuous
she seems to wear
all she's renounced;

this boy angel
isn't touching the ground,
but his billow

of yardage refers
not to heaven
but to pleasure's

textures, the tactile
sheers and voiles
and tulles

which weren't made
to adorn the soul.
Eternity's plainly nude;

the naked here and now
longs for a little
dressing up. And though

they seem to prefer
the invisible, every saint
in the gallery

flaunts an improbable
tumble of drapery,
a nearly audible liquidity

(bright brass embroidery,
satin's violin-sheen)
raveled around the body's

plain prose; exquisite
(dis?)guises; poetry,
music, clothes.


Nothing needs to be this lavish.
Even the words I'd choose
for these leaves;

intricate, stippled, foxed,
tortoise, mottled, splotched
-jeweled adjectives

for a forest by Fabergé,
all cloisonné and enamel,
a yellow grove golden

in its gleaming couture,
brass buttons
tumbling to the floor.

Who's it for?
Who's the audience
for this bravura?

Maybe the world's
just trompe l'oeil,
appearances laid out

to dazzle the eye;
who could see through this
to any world beyond forms?

Maybe the costume's
the whole show,
all of revelation

we'll be offered.
So? Show me what's not
a world of appearances.

Autumn's a grand old drag
in torched and tumbled chiffon
striking her weary pose.

Talk about your mellow
fruitfulness! Smoky alto,
thou hast thy music,

too; unforgettable,
those October damasks,
the dazzling kimono

worn, dishabille,
uncountable curtain calls
in these footlights'

dusky, flattering rose.
The world's made fabulous
by fabulous clothes.

From Atlantis by Mark Doty, published by Harper Perennial. Copyright © 1995 by Mark Doty. Used by permission of the author.

14 November 2007

A new kind of sick, really?

Despite Adam's advice that I can decide not to be sick if I only choose it, I am sick again.


This time, though, it's swollen belly, chills of course, aching body, chest soreness, ear soreness, super-fatigue (the kind that shows up and you suddenly can't hardly walk), and that kind of nausea that isn't just nausea ... more like imminent vomiting. I haven't yet, but I wish I would. Oh and no appetite. And swollen lymph nodes, which could be anything, from the scratches I have from my cat to a deathly disease. Oh and I'm coughing regularly, as opposed to my big, deep, postnasal drip coughs that make everyone think I've sneezed. I get blessed a lot. No, this is one of those frequent, mucus-producing coughs.

Mono, anyone? Mono? I've never had mono. The flu?

Pneumonia? I had pneumonia when I was 10; we thought it was an ear infection. My pediatrician listened to my chest and said, Hey, you have pneumonia. I remember just resting and maybe taking antibiotics.

Maybe I should have a doctor check me out. I do have a good one. She likes to press on my sinuses really hard when they're inflamed; maybe she'll beat me on my chest like my last good doctor did when I had a sinus-bronchial infection. That was a blast.

Dr: [pressing hard on random area of chest] Does that hurt?
me: Ow! Yes!
Dr: [pressing somewhere else] And there?
me: Yes! OW!
(continues for ten minutes)

Well, it's me and the kitten so far. Me, the kitten, knitting, freelance editing, work to do, on and on. I can't figure out what to eat, so I'm not eating. Water's okay. My thermometer says my temperature is 97.7, which is what it always says, except for earlier today when it said 97.0. This makes me suspicious.

Chest soreness? Weak leg feeling? Burny eyes?

Shouldn't someone take me out behind a barn and put me out of my misery?! Or at least change out all my blood or something.

13 November 2007

I want my own Thanksgiving.

Not that the two family dinners I'll attend with Noah, on the same day no less, are sub-par. They are exquisite. One is on a farm in Grubville, Missouri; the other in one of the Cohen homes in Saint Louis. All delicious, traditional foods.

But lately I'm feeling like my friends here are my family, too. Not in a replacement way. More in an add-on way. I'm from a big extended family, so I'm always expecting huge parties with everyone I care about.

I think I need one of those here in Urbana. And I think I need it to be vegetarian.

I'm just not feeling the meat lately. Not enough of an anti-meat feeling to make it official, but still, enough to choose what I want to eat. And to recognize that the list does not include meat.

Ideas for a veg Thanksgiving shebang:

--stuffed squash. Either another pumpkin, or stuffed butternut, or acorn squash.
(The non-veg idea prevailing is cornish hens. Because Lord knows I am not making a turkey.)
--three sisters stew: Native American mythology names squash, corn and beans the "three sisters." Sounds tasty!
--roasted celery or fennel
--mashed potatoes with chives, garlic, and goat cheese
--apple cranberry tart or crisp
--pecan pie, if I can get that far

I do love that pecan pie.

When to do all this? Next Wednesday? I don't know. Still working on that part.

12 November 2007

My company prorates sick time. Since I started after July 1, I was given 20 hours of sick time.

I've used 24. It's not December yet. I am due for a million more colds.

Any ideas on how to not get sick? Some kinds of sick I can't control much, but the other kinds ... what to do.

-- sleep more, and regularly
-- keep drinking 3-4 liters of water a day
-- keep eating lots of vegetables and fruits
-- keep taking vitamins
-- keep using the Neti pot
-- keep drinking echinacea tea

What else, what else? Wash my hands every ten minutes? I do wash them often and well. I did work in food service; I know what the hand washing is all about.

As for allergy flare-ups ... I guess I can attack dust and mold a bit more vehemently. I guess? I guess so.

-- start using my humidifier at night
-- wash all linens once a week
-- purchase and use mattress cover and pillow covers

Migraines, well, I really can only sleep regularly and not get stressed. Sounds fine to me. A bit complicated, though, by living.

-- exercise more?
-- lower my levels of chronic fatigue and cortisol?

Out of options. I am a sick girl. I am sad about all this and a bit confused. Please lend me your ideas, friends. Please.

09 November 2007

I wish I could sew well.

Because I can sew; it would be inaccurate to say I can't do it at all. But my seams, they are not straight, and the machine, it scares me, and my handstitching looks fun and funky to me because I usually use contrasting thread and make a big mess.

I am not one of those neat seamstresses. I may not be one of those neat knitters, either. I can't decide on that one.

Some talk of knitting is going to have to start being discussing in "mystery code language." I am knitting for (perhaps) some of my readers. And you will not have your surprise ruined! No no no.

Things I am dreaming of knitting for myself:
-- socks with the exquisite yarn from Christy (thank you thank you thank you!)
-- a scarf in black bulky alpaca, 100% alpaca, folks -- I will be warm
-- fingerless mitts a la Weekend Knitting -- the kind that will fit over leather gloves, but add warmth, without destroying dexterity
-- bulky mittens, for the days when nothing else will do and I might as well be wearing a white fur muff (which I had as a child, briefly)
-- legwarmers with anything I can find
-- a cuff bracelet with buffalo yarn
-- maybe an iPod cozy ...
-- maybe a cowl out of Rowan Kidsilk Haze and a wool/silk blend I do not yet own ... could viscose work? Or tripled linen and silk? I do have that silk ... Hmm.

Back to work to work, then to Karen to Karen!

08 November 2007


I always sing that in my head. With lots of bravado.

I'll arrive to see Karen, the goo-faced katchu herself, w/out her mom's meatball curry (sad! Hi to mom in Australia!), around 9:30pm Friday and leave her at 9am Sunday morning. What to do, what to do ... we usually seek out good wine, lots of food (we eat a lot together unabashedly, as good friends should), chocolate, chic and cheap clothes (hello H&M), maybe some makeup and fragrance. Last time I visited her I ended up with a free clinical skin analysis. It's like that.

This time I'm wearing my new boots, very warm sweaters and coats (oh wind in the City), maybe multiple scarves. As in more than one at once.

So if you see Noah this weekend, ask him if he's brushed his teeth and how he's sleeping. He's planning on going to a dress-like-a-video-game-character party, and studying, I think. I'm planning on lounging in pj's and doing my nails with Karen. Then returning to Urbana and doing some freelance editing.

Also of note: two good shows next week in town. The Mountain Goats. AND The Rocket Summer. In a row. Man. Put your party clothes on.

07 November 2007

06 November 2007

trying something new, i.e. manicotti

Not a manicotti recipe yet; that's on the way. Thanks to Adam for the shout-out.

Okay -- here it is in brief (that didn't take long, did it?):

several manicotti tubes (maybe 12? maybe one box full? I overestimated with 1.5 boxes)
a 9x13 pan, greased
freshly made marinara, heavy on the onions, 2 cans diced tomatoes with a T. of tomato paste

to stuff:
2 c. ricotta
handful mozzarella
handful parmesan
two eggs

And oh my lord. Cook the shells, make the sauce, stuff the shells, cover them with sauce, bake for 20 minutes or more at 350. And die of delight.

Sad news and happy news comes together, doesn't it? One friend let me know today she's been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, at 24. Another friend let me know she's quit a job she hates (and I hate in kind). And it's fall, and it's beautiful, and my nose will not be warm until April.

Also, for your future notes, deciding to fight winter weather with fashion is not going to leave you on the winning side. I do love the over-the-knee red and navy snowflake-patterned socks I wore today, with boots and a denim non-mini, but oh my. Socks will not save me from winter. They might save my toes. But it's time for pants, and underlayers of pants, too. Maybe I'll get some of those leggings and thigh-high socks that seem so chic.

Let's knit some socks, eh?

01 November 2007

sharing a poem

Though I am not hungover, not even close, not even imbibing much these days, I do love this poem as much as ever. I want to share.

My horoscope today said, "Feed yourself well today." I'm taking that and running with it. Somehow that means, to me, that I should post one of my favorite poems for yall.

Also, I'm sleeping a ton more than I was. Think four hours a night becoming nearly 8. Man. The effect on one's mood ... oh sleep, you are precious. So is James Wright, "suicidally beautiful" as he is.


James Wright's “Two Hangovers”

(From The Branch Will Not Break, 1963)

Number One
I slouch in bed.
Beyond the streaked trees of my window,
All groves are bare.
Locusts and poplars change to unmarried women
Sorting slate from anthracite
Between railroad ties:
The yellow-bearded winter of the depression
Is still alive somewhere, an old man
Counting his collection of bottle caps
In a tarpaper shack under the cold trees
Of my grave.

I still feel half drunk,
And all those old women beyond my window
Are hunching toward the graveyard.

Drunk, mumbling Hungarian,
The sun staggers in,
And his big stupid face pitches
Into the stove.
For two hours I have been dreaming
Of green butterflies searching for diamonds
In coal seams;
And children chasing each other for a game
Through the hills of fresh graves.
But the sun has come home drunk from the sea,
And a sparrow outside
Sings of the Hanna Coal Co. and the dead moon.
The filaments of cold light bulbs tremble
In music like delicate birds.
Ah, turn it off.

Number Two:
I Try to Waken and Greet the World Once Again

In a pine tree,
A few yards away from my window sill,
A brilliant blue jay is springing up and down, up and down,
On a branch.
I laugh, as I see him abandon himself
To entire delight, for he knows as well as I do
That the branch will not break.

31 October 2007

Whoa, cool clothes and outfits

Man oh man. The things I stumble upon: Free People can dress me any time. I feel like an assortment of these things are already in my closet, but since those items have (individually, maybe collectively) been named "ugly" by different folks throughout the years, they remain unworn ...

I avow. I avow to be more funky. I am funky, man. Funky as a suburban white girl with a desk job can be, anyway. And no money to give to Free People.

And look at all the scarves and hats those ladies are wearing! I feel so justified for knitting up a storm.

30 October 2007

on being, not doing

I do a lot.

I keep getting this feeling that there are so many things I want to knit, and learn about knitting, that it could go on forever and ever. I do not doubt this feeling. It could go on forever. Things left for me to learn: modular; fair isle; entrelac; colorwork; socks. Crochet, I guess. And "ssk" -- that awful slip two stiches, knit them together maneuver. Why not just knit two together, I ask again and again.

So, I do a lot, for sure.

I think it's time to make bread again. Make mobiles. Make pinch pots. Fingerpainting with black fingerpaint on really big paper sounds good, too. Touching, like that article's title that Maria Schutt gave me years ago: "everything we touch is touching us."

I learned to throw clay in the fall, five years ago. Maybe it's the cold and dry weather that keeps getting me. I'm ready for the skin on my knuckles to split open, to wear Patagonia fleece only -- because the cuffs are elasticized well, and I could shove them up to my elbows, while keeping a bit of core body heat. To wear one pair of pants for a month until they're so covered in slip, I could probably fire them and get a shell shaped like cordoroy.

And the hum of that standing kick wheel. How my hiking boots were made for the kick, how the millstone bottom would spin forever, how the throwing platform had concentric circles to help with sizing, and that perfect middle, where the post was that connected to the millstone, where the platform went concave for a minute. Where my fingers always found the center of the lump and pulled it open.

Don't even give me a kiln, maybe. Just start me with clay.

Besides, what good would an electric kiln that fires to cone 10 do me, when all I want is reduction firing and the copper hazes it makes? Or at least raku? I could build a raku kiln, I guess, if I had a gas line. Or I could ... no, I wouldn't really want to use an electric, open it up when it was super-hot, and throw pots into metal garbage cans full of newspaper and leaves and feathers and horsehair. Not a top-loading kiln, at least. That sounds terrifically dangerous and full of imminent burns.

Could I make burnished terra cotta pots, smoke fire them? I feel like one would need a lot of wood and space to make a fire hot enough to smoke fire pots. But those would be cool. Super-black and smoky. Good for mugs, maybe.

Let's start with breath and sleep and balanced meals. Let's start with a late lunch.

29 October 2007

Kilns are expensive.

And so are wheels for throwing clay. Hmm. I just absent-mindedly checked it out, and trust me, it's not happening. I could buy another used car, or a wheel and a kiln. Yeah.

I hear there's good clay on the shore of Clinton Lake. The bank? The beach? Do lakes have shores, banks, or beaches? I know rivers have banks ... but maybe they have beaches too.

I think today is a day for the shaking of the head and the sighing. Things will lift, little girl. They have to.

"Txt of the Living Dead"

This is a good idea. Transient graffiti, cell phones, viewer-integrated projects ... good ideas.

Let's start a big old knitting deal, where everybody walks up and knits on it, whether or not they know how. Like a big blanket. Yeah, a blanket. I'd let people crochet, too. Or knot things together by hand.

I don't know what use that blanket would have ...

If I want to work with clay, real clay not polymer clay, and I don't have much (I have a little bit at home, oddly enough, with no studio or kiln), ... how will I get some? Digging it seems like the best option. All I need is a subdivision development with a lot of cuts in the hills. Wait, Illinois has no hills.

Maybe Missouri red clay is the answer. That stuff is tricky, though. But if I'm not firing it, and not trying to make anything usable at all, that shouldn't be a problem. It does come with huge chunks of white churt in it. I did dry it out and screen the stuff, before. But I guess I wouldn't have to do that now. Or else I could anyway, with a window screen, a hose ... that big plastic under-bed storage tub I have that's empty now ...

or I could just not screen it.

And hey, if I started making mobiles, would I have any takers? I'm thinking they'd be molded white sheer cotton. Kind of crumpled and horizontal, then stacked on each other. And of course Calder's mobiles are the best, especially the really one-sided mobiles.

Anyone have good manicotti recipes? Or anything traditionally Italian that comes stuffed with cheese?

26 October 2007

"Breasts Like Martinis" by Jill McDonough

(This came to me courtesy of my dad, down there at the bottom of the folks he works with. He's a literary fellow indeed. And this came to him from Slate.com.)


The bartender at Caesar's tells jokes we've heard a hundred times.
A shoelace walks into a bar, for example. I whisper
Sarah Evers told me that joke in sixth grade and Josey says
My brother Steve, 1982. A whore, a midget, a Chinaman,
nothing we haven't heard. Then a customer asks
Why are breasts like martinis? and they both start laughing.
They know this one, everybody knows this one, except
us. They don't even bother with the punch line. The bartender just says
Yeah, but I always said there should be a third one, on the back,
for dancing, dancing with the woman-shaped air behind the bar, his hand
on the breast on her back. So we figure three is too many,
one's not enough. Okay; we can do better than that. I like my breasts
like I like my martinis, we say: Small and bruised or big and dry.
Overflowing. Reeking of juniper, spilling all over the bar.
When I have a migraine and she reaches for me, I say
Josey, my breasts are like martinis. She nods, solemn:
People should keep their goddamn hands off yours. How
could we tell these jokes to the bartender? We can't. He'll never know.
I say it after scrubbing the kitchen cabinets, and she gets it:
dirty and wet. Walking in the wind, Josey says My breasts
are like martinis and I hail a cab, know she means shaking, ice cold.

How hard the Old 97's rock:

"We galloped through the buroughs like a pair of horny thoroughbreds
until when I said 'stop the car Doreen'
you can roll your eyes and nod, but I swear that I saw God
in the moonlight on a side street in the wreckage we call Queens ... "

and ...

"I've been reading books when no one's lookin"


So far that's all I have to add today. I like this migraine med I have, because it works, but an unfortunate side effect of what it does -- constrict the blood vessels in my brain that are setting off pain receptors by their swelling for whatever reason -- is that it constricts ALL my blood vessels, making me feel kind of tight and panicky.

So, on to deep breaths, cheap oatmeal in the office caf, a little less coffee maybe, a little more water.

I started knitting this last night. I want to have it done on Saturday.

25 October 2007

It's raining?!

How did I miss that? I work facing my window these days.

Fun tidbit: this is a friend from college's portfolio site. Best pen and ink artist I know. Maybe she can make a tattoo template for me.

In knitting news ... I think I need an alpaca sweater. It's seven times warmer than wool. And yesterday evening, when it was 66 degrees in my apartment and about 45 outside, I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, a fleece hoodie, wool socks, jeans, down booties, fingerless mitts, a quilt over all of that, and a heated body wrap.

I'm cold, folks. This is why I freak out when I get hot -- I have no idea what to do.

And, post-Christmas, I am going to start knitting socks for myself. Out of washable merino wool. In colors I love. In patterns I love. I am a freak for socks. They keep me alive ... I sleep in socks from September to May. Or down booties. Let's not discuss how many blankets I had last night. And my apartment is really well-insulated, being half-underground/garden level, with good windows, and a good heater.

So yes alpaca is expensive, but I am cold. The end.

23 October 2007

I got my engraved door nameplate today. Been here three months. Haven't been fired yet.

I really am that pessimistic. I'm going to leave now and try to get a little snapped out of it.

22 October 2007

One more thing:


I had to stop and take a moment when I heard that number. I'd been guessing it was low, but I try not to pay too close attention to those tragic details. But 24%. 24. Which leaves 76% of a nation. And to embody Colbert, those 24% are mostly backwash.

We're gonna die, folks. Eat your chocolate as fast as possible.

What is the deal with cupcakes.

Yes, I mean that sentence to end with a period; poets from my former workshops can be annoyed at me all they want, but I don't always mean questions as questions. It's like this: WHAT IS THE DEAL. End-stop.

So cupcakes are delicious. They're cute. They're tres chic. They're a great way to enjoy a high-calorie, really-bad-for-you thing in a very small portion -- until you eat more than one. And if you ever drop by Magnolia Bakery in NYC and you think, Well, I could get one or I could get a dozen, and eat them all, because look at how delicious they are -- you can't be eating just one.

Regardless of my former infactuation with cupcakes, I am saying NO MORE. At least to gourmet cupcakes. Normal, soon-to-be-outlawed cupcakes have a special place in my heart forever. But lately, when I want chocolate, I want chocolate for real. Not three hours from now. Like a hunk of dark chocolate with cacao nibs. Or brownies from a box. Or Nigella's honey chocolate cake -- which is a wow.

And if I don't want chocolate ... and I want butter and sugar instead ... then why not have shortbread? Or a muffin? Or a whole-grain muffin with flaxseed and canola instead of butter? Or a piece of toast with jam? Or lavender shortbread?

All I'm sayin, yall, is that I plan to be a bit more picky about my "gourmet" endeavors. Butter is butter, and chocolate, chocolate, and neither one needs to be a big ol cupcake.

Maybe that rant makes way more sense to me than you. It probably does. We're running quite low on sleep here. And coffee. Oh, coffee.

19 October 2007

more on knitting

Okay. Work is freaking me out right now. Let's think knitting and nieces in no particular order.

Niece one: Amelia. Sweater from crocus-colored cotton. Super-soft. 1 year old.

Niece two: Selah. Blanket? Hat? Jumper? She's almost 3.

Niece three: Tikvah. Blanket, crib-sized? Whatever it is, make it washable! She's a drooler. 1 year old. Yeah, blanket for sure.

Niece four: Liora. Maybe the Apple 2E style hat? She has a cube-shaped head. Maybe ... a soft merino wool hat? Or a superfast lacy baby cardigan? She's about 6 months.

a million ideas about knitting

Why not try that lovely thick and thin blue/green Malabrigo as a capelet? Or a cowl? There isn't much of it, but it could be dramatic and lovely. On 15's. In stockinette. Maybe in that easy-loopy lace pattern.

And the faded blue handspun from New York ... will you be mittens? I think you should be a hat for me. A beautiful light blue cabled hat.

And you, 3-ply varigated green merino/mohair/silk mix ... you should be mittens for Anna. "Open palm mittens," if you will.

And ... I started a blanket for one of four nieces last night. Let us use up the acrylic! Acrylic boucle is perfect for babies who drool a lot! And so is "fringe" yarn. I hate the stuff, but it's colorful, and washable I think, and I have a lot. It's a nice touch with pale yellow and pink boucle. I want to make a million blanket squares of it, with garter borders and stockinette middles, seam them together, and make four massive tassels for each corner. Yes. Drapey and not too warm.

Let us note that no one has blown us up yet, and no tornadoes have touched down in my town. Yet.

18 October 2007

Kiss your loved ones goodbye ...

Consider, friends:

China's angry with us because Bush gave the Dalai Lama a medal.

Russia's angry with us for being in Iraq.

We're mad at us, I'm guessing Iraq isn't so happy with us, and neither is Iran, or a host of other people ... with big missiles.

All I'm saying is ... don't be surprised if our country isn't around for much longer. You know? We're really good at bad decisions, it seems.

This is what happens to me when I listen to NPR at all. But especially every day for a week. I see the world ending, oh, say, tomorrow.

17 October 2007

How does one get rid of chills?

Besides blankets and bundling, of course.

I think it's time to pull out my sweaters. Get ready for me in wool, yall. Multiple layers of wool, fleece, silk, cotton, on and on.

If anyone ever needed an alpaca sweater -- which is seven times warmer than wool -- it's me. Donations to the yarn needed accepted.

16 October 2007

Charles Lamb, the Aquarian Essayist

When my father was getting his B.S. in General Sciences (a BS in GS, if you will), he wrote an essay for a literature class about Charles Lamb. Who was born in February. Like my father, an Aquarian.

The rest of this story has to do with my mother's reaction to his essay's title. "But you never explain this title," she said, years ago. "But he's an Aquarian," my father replied.

This argument has continued for decades. Now that I've taught freshman composition, my mother wants me on her side. It is a bad, bad title, yes, but a funny one.

Anyway, read his "dissertation upon a roast pig." Enjoy.


making messy art

I want to be drawing with charcoal. I need big new sheets of paper for this. I think I want to draw a field of bluebonnets for my grandma. Let us all recall how much I like my art-making to be dirty. Dirty as can be. This is why my favorite ways to "draw" are either with charcoal, or with watery clay slip (Missouri red clay is really good for this), or carving designs into batik fabric. Messy messy.

ETA for Bukharan stuffed pumpkin: Thursday evening. 2 hours it simmers in a water bath in the oven. Oh my.

When teaching someone how to knit ... does it make more sense to use worsted weight yarn, bulky yarn, or super-bulky thick and thin yarn? Do you go with whatever the recipient/student finds prettiest? Since really, some days, it's only the yarn that keeps me knitting. I kind of mutter over and over, "this yarn is pretty, it's pretty, it will be pretty, keep knitting." I'm really only deciding between Malabrigo water-colored yarn on 8's, or Malabrigo thick and thin on, say, 15's.

15's! Man, if I had started knitting on 15's, I would have definitely finished my first scarf in less than two years. Which I'm wearing today, horrible gauge, holes and all. The fringe on it is my favorite part.

Last thing: I could make something like this and sell it for $75 - $90, right?

15 October 2007

Apparently, if you send yourself an email from one of those forms that are meant to go to your friends, and use "me" as your name ...

This Epicurious.com recipe:

has been sent to you from me

me wants you to know:

You can view the complete recipe online at: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/23412

The pumpkin hasn't been stuffed yet, but I have a cabbage leaf all ready to prevent its skin from burning. So it can go pan + leaf + pumpkin + water bath.

Noah and I recently decided to start eating way healthier than we have been. This hasn't quite gone into effect yet, but I am starting to dream of whole grains. Always a good sign.

12 October 2007

Weekend plans, anyone?

Mine involve a certain Farmer's Market. I want at least two pie pumpkins, three butternut squash, some goat cheese from Prairie Fruit Farm, maybe more wildflower honey, and a million apples. Oh and sweet potatoes and rhubarb, if there's still rhubarb, and eggplant for the best lasange ever. I really want to make apple-y things this weekend, like applesauce, and can it all, so that I can have fresh applesauce for Hannukah and Latke-fest 2007. And can give applesauce to Noah's million siblings and siblings-in-law as Hannukah presents! Yum.

I also plan to bake a whole stuffed pumpkin. I somehow missed Sukkot, my favorite Jewish holiday, and the opportunity to make this Bukharan stuffed pumpkin ... I'll just make it anyway. It gets stuffed with brown rice, dried cranberries, turmeric, onion, garlic, on and on. Oh my, oh my. And then you bake the whole thing in a water bath, and then you either slice it or kind of scoop it out. Imagine warm, steamed fresh pumpkin and a delicious pilaf. Yes yes yes.

And I want to make whole grain, flax seed muffins with dark chocolate, and I want to sleep a lot, and knit a lot. Anyone interested in any of those things is welcome at my apartment! Expect me in pyjamas, eating pumpkin.

11 October 2007

"hey, nyquil driver ... watch out for that sign"

So maybe I don't usually like things that do more to my body than I want them to -- I like taking my decongestant and pain meds separately, convenience be damned, because at least I know what I'm taking. I feel the same way about soap, and deodorant, and shampoo, and toothpaste, and mouthwash -- sodium laureth sulfate what? Sudsing agent what? And this applies to food, too -- if I'm eating apple pancakes fried in bacon grease, I at least want to know that's why it's the most delicious breakfast food I've ever eaten. And same with fried chicken, and gravy, and biscuits ... on and on. Maybe it's a control thing. Maybe it's a purity of ingredients thing. Maybe a functional thing?

All this makes me distrust Nyquil and Dayquil. What the hell are in these things? Why are they bright teal, or bright orange? What makes a gel cap a "gel cap"? (I'm guessing gelatin, folks.)

But in my hours of desperation yesterday, after leaving work sick, after putting hot and cold compresses on my head, then hot ones for longer, then breathing steam with eucalyptus oil in it ... it was time for Nyquil.

And I slept nine and a half hours, and I can breathe. My teeth don't hurt for the first time in three days. Sinus pressure, consider yourself banished.

I am taking They Might Be Giants to heart, though -- this is a sign that I like sleepy-making things a bit too much.

10 October 2007

make your own sinus mask

Great for kids and parties!


me and the "baybles"

Oh my, throbbing sinus pain. Quickly moving to the back of the head, and the shoulders, and the bones of the face, and the teeth, and the lungs that feel a bit too crackly and tight. Come on, sinuses: I thought we had a treaty going. You wanted me to use my rosemary eucalyptus lemongrass sugar scrub in the shower this morning; and I did -- you wanted me to give you a saline nasal wash, Claritin, decongestant, and Advil -- and I did.

Enough of that. Any knitters out there ever start using a yarn only to discover you hate it with every stitch? That's me and Rowan Damask. In the blue/sea green colorway. It is beautiful, but man. I tried knitting it on 8's, then 5's, and it was awful, and so was the lace pattern (KNIT 4 TOGETHER = impossible). But on 3's -- the low end of the recommended gauge -- it is so much nicer. And now I'm using it to make a chemo cap for a friend's mom, in a crazy awesome cable pattern. And know, friends, that after two beers, when knitting "baby" (as in tiny) cables, get ready to call them "baybles."

Fall is here, and so far, it's painful. Cold, brisk, and painful.

09 October 2007


I think that the next time I have an urge to stay up all night reading, writing, knitting, and cooking chicken stock, I should follow that urge. That urge appears as a polite way to tell me I'm not going to sleep well anyway, apparently, and would be better off doing things I like than laying awake in bed.

At least it's finally cooler outside.

Also note the tiny edit to my Roethke epigraph: joy, not job. Job only in my head. Not in his poem "The Abyss." I do like "job," though, a bit better than joy. But accuracy is important.

I started knitting a lightweight hat last night on size 3 needles. This could be torture. Or this could be the hard thing I knit when I can't sleep. And, and, I can wimp out on the pattern and just make it flat stockinette, which I like too -- that option. It will be soft and lovely either way.

Anybody have ideas to combat insomnia that don't involve drugs? I have some drugs, but they scare me during the weeknights. I also have a million bath-things and lavender things. And wine, and bourbon, and beer, and so on. So ... other ideas?

08 October 2007

television, knitting, and nausea

If there can be anything good in this world, it comes to me in the form of Honeyed Ginger Beverage, a powdered hot drink mix sold in various Asian grocers. It is exactly what it sounds like, and when my perpetual nausea kicks in for whatever reason, it saves me. It warms and soothes. And being powdered, there's no brew time like tea would require, which somehow convinces me to make it more often than peppermint tea or ginger root tea.

I ran out last night. Must buy like five boxes of twenty packets this time so I can't run out for a long, long time.

And television helps with nausea too, because my eyes can unfocus and I can lay flat or crumpled or whatever. The dumber TV the better, which leads us to ... Star Trek: Enterprise. Yes, the one starring Scott Bakula. He has just as many "aw shucks" moments as he did on Quantum Leap, but now he's the captain of the first starship with a warp 5.5 engine, and he gets quite cocky.

Choice quotes:
"How can I be human if I lose my humanity?"
"Perhaps someday, all these species will be united ... in some kind of ... federation ... "
"Perhaps someday, there will be some kind of guideline for first contact ... some kind of ... Prime Directive ... "

The list goes on, but it's so uninteresting that I shouldn't waste space on it. Season 3 looked promising for five episodes, but now we're back to the same episodic format that leaves the season's moderately okay plot behind. And there are Western shoot-outs, and zombie Vulcans. They attack people with pipes. Seriously. Those episodes are almost worth it.

And knitting? I finished the cat bed, which now needs felting, which required a pillow protector, which I don't have. I worked on Lara's legwarmers drunkenly, but thank God those things are just 3x1 rib with two increases every twelve rows. I unraveled something, and got angry at mohair, and started planning a basic pattern for fingerless mitts in a thick and thin bulky green/blue wool -- I'm thinking rib with a thick cable running up the outer aspect of the top of the hand. They will go to my friend Anna, the photographer who just started an MFA in SCOTLAND. Where it must be damp and cold all the time.

That leaves my flickering flames lace scarf in gorgeous DK weight wool/mohair/silk. And the tank top I had to frog, which I haven't started again. And the throw pillow cases knit from strips of old jeans I haven't started. And a hat, and a cuff bracelet.

And I maybe just took on a new freelance editing job that I offered to review for free at first. I don't know what happens to me when I'm running on only a skim latte, but it's selfless, I guess, and doesn't earn me money. Do I need meals in me to think about making money? Perhaps, someday, there will be some kind of guideline .. some .. food pyramid.

07 October 2007

a blessing on this blog

How lovely is the technology that will allow me to think out loud, keep track of my own projects, and bring about discourse among friends. A blessing on this blog, indeed. Let us ask for it.

So far today I haven't been hungover, haven't showered, but have thought of seven new projects:
1) buy a 7-drawer craft cart and put all my yarn, beads, and sewing and knitting supplies inside
2) save up for a good rotary cutter and mat (if I can't stop dreaming of them, maybe buying them is the answer)
3) make quilts with cyanotype trials from yesteryear, after a few wash and dry tests
4) knit a heart-shaped pillow for my Gram, who's 80 now, in denim and with bluebonnets either embroidered (lazy way) or colorworked in (scratching brain for long time way)
5) sell pre-beaded bulky hand-dyed yarn with 100 or so beads already attached in scarf kits of maybe 400 yards
6) make my cracked tile pieces (also from yesteryear) into smaller pieces and
a) sell them in bulk on etsy.com
b) consider making a mosaic for myself with the pieces, to place on my coffee table's top, thus avoiding the rickety slats of that top now, which annoy me, especially when drinking from wine glass, and since that won't stop, the table should change
7) start a blog :)

So hi, everyone, and just me, too. Here we are.