27 March, 2008

Aaaaaand, scene.

Why is it that just when I've gotten settled into a break, it ends? Sigh. Someday I'll graduate from college, and then I won't feel guilty when I slack off at home. Which I'm doing right this moment, by the way. Colleges should offer a degree - or at least a class - in Advanced Procrastination; that's the only way I'd graduate with a 4.0, I'm telling you!

I spent Friday and much of last night watching season 2 of Dexter with Jasmin and the Minions. This is a huge step for me because I hadn't finished season 1; in case you hadn't noticed, I'm a bit OCD about doing things in order. I've watched roughly half of season 1, and I was totally delighted to see my friend Sam show up in episode 5. Seeing my friends on TV is always a kick, and Dexter is a delightful show. ManCandy and I are negotiating getting Showtime added to our TV lineup, but I think I'll wait until I've seen The Tudors before I make a decision. I'm the one who pays the bill, after all. During Dexter I managed to finish the Black Magic roving. I'm quite proud of it, and it's my first spinning that I'd like to knit up into something wearable.

80/20 merino/tussah from Pigeonroof Studios, 383 yards
The roving seems to have gotten a little full of itself, however. It doesn't seem to want to co-star with anything else in the stash, so I'll have to see what I can dig up for this diva skein.

The weekend on The Farm was awesome. I rested and spun and knitted until I was ready to come home, and came up with some fun pictures as well. My lovely mother sewed buttons on the Egyptian Jungle Cardigan, and we promptly decided to torture Pierre:

He is clearly unamused. We, on the other hand, thought we were hilarious. Maybe because of the

Mmm. Wine. And because I can't think of anything else to say (perhaps the procrastination is getting to me?), I'll leave you with this:

Sound asleep.

23 March, 2008

Spring Break, wooo!

I finished my last (online) test today, so Spring Break has officially begun. Unfortunately for me, I let myself get so behind on papers that I'll have to work on them over the holiday. But at least as long as I keep up with my schedule I won't fall any farther behind!

I also finished the Zombie socks. Truthfully I finished them on the 19th, but I'm just getting aroudn to blogging about them today because I've been enjoying the stellar weather up at my mom's farm. Anyway, the Zombies are donedonedone!

Zombie Socks - Lorna's Laces "Red Rover"

I've lost some of my knitting mojo, I think. I worked steadily on sleeve #2 of my Tangled Yoke Cardigan on the way up here, but between waiting for Round 2 of Sock Madness to begin and waiting for the yarn for my friend's wedding shawl to arrive from Colourmart, I can't bring myself to really knit much. Plus I've had a good time spinning some of the Pigeonroof Studios superwash. I brought my wheel up to show my mother and aunt - since they helped contribute birthday/Christmas money to buy it - and I've actually plowed through about 1/2 of my 4 oz of Pigeonroof's "Quietude" roving. Jasmin 2008 and I were bemoaning the fact that it's now nearly impossible to pick and choose the roving we want at PRS updates since they sell out so fast. It's great for her, and I guess it just means I'll have to put in a special order one of these days. When I have money and latitude to buy roving!

Quietude roving, Pigeonroof Studios SW Merino
That's from Friday night - I've added significantly to the bobbin since then. My mom has misplaced her kitchen scale, so I may end up just putting all 4oz on this bobbin then spinning up 4 more from another order and plying them together. This is the moment that, despite the 16oz of roving I brought with me to give myself options, I wish I'd brought more. Tough life I lead, huh??

ManCandy left for home today and I'm hoping everything is all right there. We left the Aliens alone over the weekend as usual, but I began the process of changing their diet from Iams to Royal Canin on Thursday before I recalled that I wouldn't be there all weekend to monitor them. Apparently Iams is full of terrible things and owned by a rotten company, so we're making the switch provided the kitt-os are okay. Panza will probably be fine, but Mr. Darcy is a finicky eater with a picky stomach. We're giving them RC's Maine Coon food mixed with their Special 33 for tender kitty tummies, and mixing those with the old food to ease the transition. I have to give credit to the guy at Petfood Express - when he told me about the RC food, he also gave me both full-sized bags for free so that if the kittehs didn't like it, I didn't feel obligated to use it all. And on top of that, the food is buy 3, get 1 free. Granted, it's more expensive than Iams, but if it extends the health and happiness of my boys, I'm okay with that.

Mr. Darcy likes free kitty food too. It's almost like the food on his home planet!

19 March, 2008

Five Years Ago Today...

...the war in Iraq began. I remain unimpressed by our administration's refusal to take responsibility for its own flaws. I remain unimpressed by a government interested in revenge or retaliation instead of what is right. In truth, "unimpressed" is not the right word for the feeling of revulsion I get in my gut, my heart and my throat every time I hear more about the Iraq War. My brother went to Afghanistan after the attacks on the World Trade Towers. Then he went to Iraq. He didn't believe he should have been there, but he went. And now he deals with the deaths he caused and the deaths of his friends every day. For what? I honestly don't know.

I support Barack Obama for president because I like being spoken to as if I weren't an uneducated peon who simply can't understand the workings of government. I like his style, his attitude, and his heart. I think Hillary is less charismatic, and I believe that we need a charismatic and earnest leader to help the country hold her head up again. Senator Obama made this speech five years ago. It's time for a change.

"Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don't oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain.

I don't oppose all wars. After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income - to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear - I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the President today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use
the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in
our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own
people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and
mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education,
without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil,
through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and
Mobil. Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that
we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and
greed. Poverty and despair.

The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not -- we will not -- travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain."

18 March, 2008

Playing Hooky

Occasionally - okay, about once every 2 weeks - I blow off school and stay home. Usually I'm pretty productive around the apartment, doing laundry and such. Every once in awhile I even get a paper or two written. Sometimes I clean up projects or even just clean up (don't laugh!). Today I woke up in time for school but simply couldn't drag myself there. I don't know why exactly, but it probably has something to do with Spring Break beginning on Friday. I'm going to try to write a paper for my Northern Renaissance class this afternoon, and perhaps even begin my Archaeology synthesis paper, but I haven't totally decided yet. Anyway, enough about my academic trials and tribulations.

I've been avoiding something for a few days. This weekend, I finished spinning and plying my BFL Rhubarb singles. Since I crammed all 4 ounces onto one bobbin, I decided that another yarn cake would work just fine. Hah. I made the critical error of leaving the yarn cake out over night, and when I got up in the morning, the cats had performed a miracle: what was once one yarn cake was now two! After I finished kicking myself for stupidity, I plied up the least tangled portions and will probably felt the rest into what will become the softest cat toys on the face of the planet. Maybe I'll felt them with some catnip inside, but I'm not sure the little monsters deserve it. Anyway.
Since I finished plying, I've simply left the yarn on the bobbin, as if the task of winding it off were a monstrous time sink. But today, in the Spirit of Hooky, I finally turned it into a skein - in all of about 15 minutes, including pictures. I think maybe I was worried that it would be a tiny little worthless hank, but I ended up with a respectable skein:

Rhubarb 2-ply, 202 yds.

That means, for those keeping track (just me), that this would probably have been my thinnest yarn to date. Go me. It's not the tidiest yarn ever, but it's really soft and actually has some smoosh factor to it.

These colors are pretty accurate.

ManCandy and I are going up to visit the Mother Ship this weekend, and since Bella and I are on the same spring break I'll be staying at the farm until Wednesday. I'm taking my as-yet unnamed wheel, my laptop, and my knitting, but not my credit card. See how smart I am?!?

14 March, 2008

Sock Madness and A Tale of Woe

Bella and I are getting along better now. We've established some ground rules and she's more comfortable now that she knows what they are. She's never had rules before - something I've been told over and over isn't good for a child. She's largely stopped crying about little things like being told to sit up and eat her dinner and started crying about the things that really hurt her bruised little heart.

A few days ago, we arrived at her house and I sent her to do her homework. She sat down at her desk for a few moments, then I came into the room.

"Bella, come here," I said, pointing to the spot directly in front of me. She came over slowly and stood on the spot (progress! Obedience without questioning!), looking up at me curiously. "WHERE," I demanded, "is my big hug for the day??" She smiled and jumped into my arms - all 38.5 pounds of her, the tiny thing - and koala'd me.
"You didn't remind me!" she laughingly accused when she was done with her hug.
"I have to remind you now? You don't want to hug me on your own?" I wailed. She laughed and tickled me, and we giggled together. Then: "Bella!" I cried in mock sadness, with big grin on my face, "don't you loooove me anymore?"
"Of course I do!" she yelled, and buried her face in my neck.
"I love you too, button," I chuckled. Then I realized she hadn't moved her face, and that her little frame was shaking. "Baby, what's wrong?"
"You - you - you thought I didn't loooooove you!!" she sobbed. I was shocked. Somewhere my brain was chiding me for not remembering her utter and total lack of a sense of humor, but the rest of me went into instant Big Sister mode. I kicked off my shoes and carried her to the bed, letting her curl up against my chest and sob.
"Sweetheart," I explained, "I'm so sorry. I was making a bad joke, but I didn't think it would hurt your feelings! I know you love me, baby, and I love you too. Shhhh." And then it struck me. "Bella, honey, do you sometimes feel like people lie to you when they say they love you?"
She looked up at me with huge, watery brown eyes and nodded, still sobbing. "Who?" I asked. Seconds ticked by while she tried to call up a feeling she doesn't examine very often.
"My mommy - sniffle - my mommy never comes home even if she's not working, and she never does what she says."

I have never been kicked in the gut, but I can tell you exactly what it feels like. I think I stopped breathing for a moment. My family's not perfect, and we've had our altercations, but there has never in my whole life been a single second that I seriously considered that my family - all 12 of them - didn't love me. The idea that a little girl could have reason to question the very foundation of the word "family" breaks my heart. 

Poor little dear. Thank god it's Friday.


I woke up early yesterday so I could print out the first pattern for Sock Madness, but it wasn't out yet. Another reason in my long list never to get up early if I can help it! It wasn't a big deal - I had no knitting time in those classes anyway. I swung by the school print shop between classes 2 and 3 to get the pattern. By the time class 3 was over, I had the ribbing and a few rows of the pattern done.

Originally I kicked myself for forgetting a set of smaller needles, but since the pattern grows organically out of the ribbing, it worked out okay. Last night I finished just over 1/2 of the first heel flap stitches and went to bed - probably good, since I have to look up my HPSS3 pal's foot size. The Zombie pattern is wicked stretchy, so I'm not too worried about the leg. Here it is so far:

Zombie Socks by Sheryl Ball

It also just occurred to me that this is the first time in awhile I've had any knitting pictures to show off. Sleeve 1 of the Tangled Yoke Cardi continues apace. As Brie hoped, my length gauge and I found each other; I've got about an inch or 2 of plain knitting to go and the sleeve will be done. Then only one more to go and Tangled Yoke becomes at-home knitting, as it'll be too unwieldy to carry around to classes.

I think it's time for more tea and some Angel, season 4. And some Zombies.

07 March, 2008

A Weekly Endeavor

Apparently my blog is going to become mostly a weekly thing. Fridays have become My Day since ManCandy is at work and I'm out of classes. Sometimes I clean, sometimes I play video games, and sometimes I just read the internet all day. I rarely leave the house if I can avoid it, and now that it's spring I open all the windows and let the place air out all afternoon. It's wonderful.

My knitting monogamy makes for boring knit-blogging. I've finished the body of my Tangled Yoke Cardigan and am doing mathematical gymnastics on the first sleeve. You see, I have stick-arms. More specifically, I have tiny little wrists and I like Nice Sweaters (as opposed to hoodies, etc) to fit prettily around my narrow bits as there seem to be fewer of them as I get older, new working-out regime notwithstanding. The sleeves for my body size are definitely too big around. The small size, ditto. So I did some fancy calculations and came up with a decrease rate that pleases me, and wrote it down. Don't look so shocked.

But then came the girls in the leotards with their weird "I win!" hands-in-the-air poses and ribbon dances and the gymnastics began for real. (Did I carry that analogy too far?) Personally, I find sleeves that hit me right at the wrist to be unsightly; I am "long-limbed" and things that hit me just at my wrists (or ankles) look too short. So I chose a good length shirt and measured the arm at the wrist-to-armpit seam. Twenty-two inches - and thus, the problem. The small measurement on the pattern is 17 inches. Let the games begin! I think I may throw my back out.

Project Monogamy is not, it seems my deal. I've been reading A Gathering of Lace almost nightly trying to find a lace pattern for the Sea Silk from Stitches. I planned to use it for a Print o' the Wave stole, but that calls for 800 yards and I want to use all 1300, so it's back to the planning stages. Maybe something with beads! Maybe I'll find one more skein of the red and make the Moroccan Days shawl... Ahem. Clearly this yarn and I haven't spent enough time together. It's afraid to tell me what it wants to be.

In the meantime, I know it's spring in San Jose because a tree outside my window burst into bloom this morning. Yesterday it was bare, today it looks like this:

Happy Spring, everyone!