31 December, 2007

Like a Kid at Christmas

This is my mother's cat, Waffles.

He is built like a boxer and has more personality than most people I know. If he were a human, I think he'd be a Hell's Angel with a Heart of Gold - the kind of guy who scares away the baddies and passes out presents at Christmas to poor orphans. Speaking of Christmas, you may have noticed that he's sitting on an open present. It's a box. Here's a picture for scale:

That's a big, honkin' box, as my mom would (did) say. And what's inside? Spinning batts from the sheep who live next door! My mom asked our neighbor for their fleeces (they're usually just thrown away [Gah!]) and sent them off to be processed. There's still a bit of VM in the batts, but nothing a pair of hand carders can't fix. It's two fleeces-worth of creamy, beautiful wool, and it's aaaaallllll mine! Hurrah!

The batts have made me even more anxious for my wheel to arrive. I ordered it on Christmas Day and have been slightly twitchy ever since. I hoped for Friday, but settled for today when the UPS man didn't knock on my door. I know, I know, the delivery date is set for the second, but wouldn't it be nice of UPS to deliver early? Just this once? No dice. So I've been watching my "track this" link in agony, waiting for an update. In vain.
Stupid UPS! Argh! Please don't lose my wheel or I will cry. Do you want me to cry? I didn't think so.

As far as knitting, I'm down to the foot of my brother's (second) first Charade sock. Yes, I'm re-knitting these as well since apparently I have a talent for losing my pattern notes in addition to losing my half-finished knitting (mom's Faina Shawl has gone AWOL). So I tried something different: a crochet cast-on, 2" of k2p2 ribbing, then I took off the crochet chain and used a sewn bind-off for the cuff. Very tidy and even though it's more work initially, I like it a whole big much-a-lot. There will be more cuffs like this in my future. And more notes.

In other news, I am a bad dieter. Lord help me if I ever need to lose serious weight! I completely lost my head this weekend with my mom at the yarn store because I found A Yarn I Love. It's another one of those "if I couldn't use anything else ever" yarns, and I forsee it holding a secondary place in my heart next to Interlacements Tokyo. It's Elsabeth Lavold's Silky Wool in a colorway that apparently doesn't exist on any shade card. It's a lovely rusty cranberry red, and I got enough to make a sweater:

And a bunch of Mission Falls 1824 in a true cranberry for a pair of Fetching mitts, a hat and a scarf. Woot!

I also picked up some roving from Pigeonroof Studios and Crazy Monkey. Because with the wheel on the way, how could I resist? And speaking of which, since it's not here I think I'll go play with my drop spindle to assuage my agony.

Tonight ManCandy and I are headed to Kate's house for her infamous Salmon Risotto, some BSG:Razor and champagne, followed by bed and brunch in the morning. What a great way to spend New Year's Eve!

Oh, P.S. - my uncle Roger is a wonderful man for many reasons, but one of them is that he got bored at work one day and decided that instead of slogging away, he would go to the St. George Distillery in Alameda and stand in a 3-hour line for some of this:

The first domestic and legal absinthe in the US since 1912. We drank it at Late Christmas Dinner, and even ManCandy liked it. I'm not a fan of strong anise flavors, but poured over a spoon with a sugar cube into a bit of icy water was a treat and a half. Thanks, Uncle Roger! Next time I'll be right there with you in line.

25 December, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all get the things you like and have the guts to re-gift the things you don't! Erick's mom sent each of us a "stocking," which goes in quotes because they came in huge gift bags, as a real stocking would have ripped at the seams. I got some lovely things, but I must admit that my heart is jumping up and down a little mostly because this morning I ordered this little beauty with many thanks and hugs to my mom, papa, ManCandy's parents, and ManCandy himself:

Kromski Sonata Traveling Wheel

Who says combination birthday/Christmas presents are a problem?? Not I! My Sonata will have the walnut finish; the one the the picture is clear. I'm bouncing up and down and praying it arrives before we go to my mother's house on Friday night. I think I'm going to go practice on my drop spindle now - it's not the same, but it's still spinning!

Merry Christmas!

24 December, 2007

The Nature of Forgiveness

A long time ago, there was a Girl who met a Matchstick Man. Their love was as turbulent as the class 5 rapids in the nearby river and pulled them down to the depths of despair only slightly more often than it sent them to the heights of delight. The Matchstick Man had a Matchstick Heart that had been splintered before, and although the Girl could not see the real reason for his pain, for the Matchstick Man hid his truths behind glassy blue eyes, she bore the brunt of his anger and hurt. The Girl was trusting and allowed her naive heart to blind her sense of Self. In the process, her own heart shattered, and soon she was just as fragile as the Matchstick Man. She thought things would work - after all, were they not now the same? But Matchstick People cannot be together; all the slivers work their way under the skin and cause festering pain that leads only to more pain and no love. The Matchstick Pair went up in the flames of passion and anger, and the Matchstick Girl ran away to try to salve her heart.

The Matchstick Man tried to apologize, but the Matchstick Girl did not believe him. Although she was no good at holding grudges, this one time she had bound her heart together with iron bands of anger and pride. Time after time, way after way, the Matchstick Man tried to make his apology felt, but it was no good. Eventually he gave up, but the Matchstick Girl did not care. Years slipped by and the Matchstick People (for they were a pair no longer) saw each other occasionally, but were very careful not to speak beyond the pleasantries required by Regular Folk. Seven years passed, and the Matchstick Girl looked at her heart one day, only to realize that the bands of iron she had so carefully wrapped her heart in had dissipated into the ether. She couldn't put her finger on the moment they had evaporated, but in their place was a simple silk ribbon the color of the sky before the morning has truly arrived.

Forgiveness is a slate grey blue. A color that is undefinable, uplifting and sad. I don't know when I stopped being furious, and I know even less when I stopped being hurt. It happened as slowly as scars begin an angry red and fade to a nearly-indiscernible tone; that is, one day you look and realize you can't see it anymore. By then, it becomes trite to say "I forgive you," just as it was redundant to say "I hate you" before the fading. So instead, I'll say this: our Matchstick Year helped me become the person I am. The water under our bridge may have once been tinted the blue of tears, but it's just water now, and I forgave you without even knowing it, long ago.

23 December, 2007

Creaking Leather is the Sound of the Season

I don't carry a wallet, but if I did it would be groaning right now. There was a sale at Webs, and one on Schaefer at Little Knits. Schaefer is the bane of my Yarn Diet existence. I don't know what it is about their color sense, but I want desperately to bathe in the colors of every skein I see. It's completely inspiring and more than a little disturbing, especially because Schaefer is not cheap.

Oh well. One of my 101 in 1001 goals is to knit from my stash for an entire year. With the 5000 yards of sweater-weight yarn I bought at Webs (neutral colored sweater yarn for $7.50/lb helped), the Anne and Trenna from Little Knits, and the 4200 yards of light gray Brown Sheep fingering weight yarn my mom bought at a garage sale for $5, I think maybe this year is my year. But I'm only cautiously optimistic; Stitches West is in February, after all.

Speaking of my 101 in 1001, I went through it and updated the things I finished. Not really surprisingly, most of the things I completed are knitting-related. Some of them don't even really factor in anymore and I'll have to re-work them in the next week or two. But overall, it's a nice reminder that even after not looking for an entire year (there's goal #1 to re-start!) I'm still accomplishing some things on the list.

Christmas Eve is tomorrow. Jer, Elizabeth and I are going to two parties tonight: one at Meredith's and one at the Van Over's. ManCandy's flight got cancelled this morning - conveniently before he had to haul himself to the airport - so he's coming home tomorrow morning instead. He'll miss the parties, but since he's not so much down with the planned events I don't think he's too broken up about it. There's a tension between us on this point, because he feels that planned events are tiring and boring and he tends to be very quiet and sit alone during them, while I enjoy being social and meeting the occasional new person. When I invited him to the Van Over's party tonight, his first reaction was "Hell no. I don't know any of those people. There's no way I'd go to that party." It hurt that he refused to even entertain the idea of meeting people I've known for nearly 10 years now, who are only around once or twice per year, and who - in the case of a couple of them - have had major impact on my life. Today, it feels like he doesn't care to meet people who are important to me. Tomorrow, I will have mellowed and probably won't be as upset. Or at least I hope so, but I'd like to think that if our situation was reversed, I'd be willing to at least stop in and meet people for a few minutes before going home to crash.

I'm really ready for this entire holiday season to be over. Next week we've got a gathering on Thursday and we're heading to my mom's on Friday; and I expect I'll have to smooth things over for at least Thursday night as well. *sigh* Relationships are hard; I suppose if they were easy, they wouldn't be worth much. Aaaaand I'm going to stop venting now.

Look! Pretty yarn! (Pictures from Little Knits)

Schaefer Anne - Cranberry Liquor

Schaefer Trenna - Blue Cruise at Sunset

Schaefer Trenna - Plum Golden Harvest

Honestly, how could I have been expected to resist those?! The Anne will become a Bee Fields Shawl and the other two I'll have to think about for a bit. Please excuse me - I'm off to finish my bloody Christmas knitting while watching Angel. Something about ordering eight thousand yards of yarn (that's 4.5 MILES! Oh my god.) makes me feel like finishing things; I can't put my finger on why.

19 December, 2007

What Was New is New Again

Let's make one thing quite clear: I am a shambles at Christmas knitting. Worse, I may be the knitting equivalent of the random detritus found on the floor after cleaning up a shambles. It's that bad, people.

I began my new job as a nanny on Monday afternoon. My little girl picked out a nickname for herself among several choices; she is now and forever more Little Bella. Her father has a touch of the harmlessly crazy due to consistent alcohol consumption and her mother works out of town for a month or two on end; I feel like I'm in The Nanny Diaries a little bit. Bella is a precocious child (I can spell 'phenomenal!') and has a Schedule. It's not completely packed like some of my kids at The Tutor Place used to be - third grade children who have "activities" from 6am until they fall into bed at midnight, only to rinse and repeat 5 days/week - and it's manageable. Or it will be once I get my new car and am not freaked about highway driving in the poor Saturn. I feel like a coach at a hospital's Terminal Ward: "Three more weeks, baby. Just stay with me for three more weeks, you know you can do it!" So far, the last two days have been fun. Her dad gave us permission to blow off Tae Kwon Do last evening, so we went to downtown Los Altos where we met up with Nadia and Cat and drank hot chocolate and coffee. Then we skipped - literally - over to Uncommon Threads and plopped down at their table, where Bella asked me to teach her to knit. Whether I had an ulterior motive for taking her to the yarn shop, I shall never divulge. Cashmere/alpaca couldn't drag it out of me.

So we sat down after oooing and aaaahing over all the lovely colors. And in less time than it takes me to write this, the little imp had mastered and was repeating "in through the front, around the tip, under the front, and off!" Within another 3 minutes, the only part I still had in the process is wrapping the yarn around the needle (Tomorrow will you teach me to do it myself? I like to be self-sufficient.) Then we bought her some Plymouth Worsted and some size 8 needles (The numbers must be how big they are. See, the 5's are smaller than the 8's!) and headed home, where her dad made us omelettes and told her there are "more useful things in the world than knitting!" I countered that knitting would be good for her math skills and her dexterity, so we'll see how that little battle turns out. Friday she's promised to help me pick out a Christmas tree since ManCandy is leaving for an early home Christmas tomorrow morning.

And back to the Christmas knitting shambles detritus that is my knitting basket. I have about 95% of one Dashing done, one Charade sock that according to the recipient needs more ribbing at the cuff of a cuff-down sock - dammit! - so will soon be zero Charade socks, and almost half of a Faina shawl. That's two boys and Mother Ship down; I think the rest will have to wait. I'm working with a lack of knitting mojo right now because school ended yesterday and I'm pretty spent in terms of Things I'd Like To Do. Maybe I'll drive up and meet Nadia in Tahoe tomorrow instead of work. A couple of days with nothing to do but knit by a fire sounds just about like heaven.

16 December, 2007

A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes

Picture heavy today. I'm finally catching up from the Thanksgiving trip to Mexico and the birthday trip to Disneyland. First, Mexico! It was warm and beautiful and relaxing and I'm stoked to go again next year. Here's the view, mostly from my balcony:

The fam at a *fabulous* dinner of shrimp, ceviche and more shrimp, with some aguacates and gambas:

Gabe and I found some Tasty Diabetics at Wal-Mart:

And here is the Grand Mayan at night. Totally worth the trip.

Aaaaand Disneyland. Well, it's Disneyland. I get tired and irritated and I hurt my knees walking so I had to get one of those electric stroller things, but it was a blast.
We had fun on the way there:

Called some 'Toons:

Found my sister's dressing room (she's officially cooler than I am now and I hate her a lot):
And generally had a great time. It was really bright in the morning:

But quite pretty at night:
Alexander met Merlin from The Sword in the Stone:

And got a very fine hat (geekflag):

He posed with some losers:

and saw Santa:

Gabe and I had a fanTAStic time at Disney on Sunday night. We rode Indy twice in a row, hit Space Mountain a bunch of times and did the Matterhorn and Mr. Toad. Oh, and took this:

All in all? I'd do it again to see this face:

Totally worth it.

04 December, 2007

Oh, dear...

It's the last week of classes for Fall '07. This semester hasn't been the be-all-end-all of crappy semesters, but it hasn't been a picnic either. However, up until about 2 minutes ago, I still Cared. Those of you still in college, or who have ever attended college, probably know the feeling. There I was, trucking along on everything that needed to get done by finals, and then, BAM! No Caring. That doesn't mean I won't get things done. On the contrary, I'm more likely to work quicker and churn out papers like meat in my mom's nifty new grinder when I Don't Care. The meat quality, to overuse the analogy, will simply be less filet mignon and more sirloin steak. But if sirloin will help me pass, bring it on - I gave up on Pristine Grades back in middle school.

I am nearly done casting off the Victorian Lace Shawl, but I have yet to write the accompanying 1200-word paper (due Thursday).

In other news, I have pictures of Mexico that I'll put up when I have a Break From Finals. And this weekend I'll be jetting off to Disneyland to take Brother Number 6 for the first time - should be fun! More pictures there, of course.

Oh, and I turn 29 this week. TWENTY-NINE. Next year, I'll be thirty. Or maybe I'll just be 29 again - I haven't decided yet.