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.