Not being able to communicate is really irritating me. I went to lunch with my mother yesterday and wrote in a notebook to talk to her. Apparently I don't write fast enough, because she kept trying to guess at the end of sentences. Sigh.

I got a postcard in the mail from my actually local LYS and decided to go check it out. Sale, new Noro, and a remodel? I'm there. I was there for a big disappointment. They'd cut their space in half, as well as their stock. They must be having hard times like everyone else in the industry. I went in the mood to buy, but there wasn't a garment worth of any of the yarns that I liked (which has long been a complaint about the store in question). Oh, and one of the customers recognized me from work and called me out on it. I must have seemed really standoffish because I couldn't chat, but I was so disappointed that I didn't care. I wish the ladies who run the store the best, but I doubt that I will shop there again.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my new ipod? I do. I am downright smug about it. I fell asleep listening to it last night and forgot to put the sleep timer on. It still had a full battery sign when I woke up this morning (ok, almost afternoon. Obviously, I need my rest.), which would never have happened with the old one. The batteries have improved so much in the past couple of generations of ipods.

I watched a bit of Saturday Night Live last night, since it was a new episode. SNL hasn't been on my to-do list in a long time, but I figured they'd have some good material after being away for months. The news update was excellent, especially Tina Fey's commentary on Hillary Clinton, "Bitches get things done". It's true, and that's what I like about Mme. Clinton. It's hard to be a Clinton supporter in Chicago, which is quite Obama-centric.

I also read this morning that Nader is joining the fray. NO. Please stop ruining elections. In the 2000 presidential election, I kicked one of his campaign signs every day and my love for Ralph Nader has not grown in the intervening years. We have enough fringe candidates already, like Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. I'm tired of this ridiculous shit. I try to keep up with current events, stay informed, but lately it's been too much. What next? If only the economy weren't in the toilet, I could do what I did in 2004 and leave the country for a month. It was so nice getting away from it all then, even if I did have to listen to people in a tiny pub in Scotland tell me why Bush would get back in. Grrrrr. I'm suffering from election coverage fatigue.



I have been sick as a dog this week. Miserable. Called names by coworkers like "typhoid mary". I don't know where I picked up this virus, but it seems to be making the rounds in Chicago. I got sick despite my recent clementine binge. Thanks a lot, Linus Pauling. It started as a ridiculously painful sinus infection, fever, chills, and general ick. Now that has cleared up, I have no voice. This may actually be worse for morale than the sinus infection. Naturally, I would like nothing better than a long, gossipy phone call to my grandmother.

My mother advised me to speak to no one, so that my throat and vocal cords can rest, but I cannot resist cooing over Winston. He has been quite the chum while I have been sick, a reassuring presence slowly taking up more and more space on the bed. My coworker Megan refers to this as "pillow Manifest Destiny". Winston has also been amused by the humidifier. He first regards the initial flumes of vapor rising from the machine, then hovers closer to hungrily swallow gulps of warm, moist air. Maybe he's a little under the weather too.

Normally, this sort of thing would provide me with hours of guilt free knitting in front of the television. A fever does not do good things for cognitive function. I taught my fair isle cardigan class on Wednesday and spent the entire class wrestling with my yoke. I was determined, though, and it seemed unwise to curse and angrily throw it in the corner as I would at home in front of students.

Other than that, there is really nothing interesting going on. Everyone seems to drag in February in Chicago. It's hard to work up much energy or enthusiasm. It's too damn cold. Zoe and I finally had dinner together last night at the Hack. We'd hoped to have a talky catch up session, but there wasn't much to say. We're tired and we want spring.


No big plans for me. I actually turned down the chance to have drinks with a couple of co-workers so that I could go to Whole Foods to buy a crate of clementines. Sad, I know. Lately, I've been leading a pretty dull existence. I've been busy doing boring things, like trying to make my new ipod talk to my mac. My firewire cable will charge but not sync it, so I have to tie up a precious usb port instead. I feel that there must be a trick to this, but hope that it does not involve buying a new cable.

I listened to a story on NPR the other day about classical music on Youtube. It would never have occurred to me to look for classical music there, but there is a real treasure trove of clips, like Rostropovich playing a Bach bouree and Toscanini conducting. A great way to spend the important midnight to three am designated internet trolling hours. I may be falling in love with NPR again. Lately, it's been a sort of background noise and I've been more interested in the Beeb and CBC. The local NPR station has had great stories, though, and is reeling me back in. When I woke up this morning, they were doing a piece about the Valentine's Day Massacre "for the single listeners". How could you not love that?

Oh--the new ipod. Love it! I had to sync it over night to get my library on it, but it all fits. I say all, but I still have dozens of cds that I never uploaded. I've even watched a video on it already, which was very exciting. I'm one of those people now, who needs to be entertained at all times.

I broke down and bought the anniversary issue of the New Yorker. I was going into snarky cartoon withdrawal and needed a fix. Still haven't made much progress in the Jane Austen compendium. I've got some sort of literary startitis now. I bought Julia Child's autobiography the other day (amazing! Every page leaves me hungry!) and some other book that I don't remember but must have seemed very interesting at the time. Add to that The Tea House Fires, a novel about the opening of Japan to the West, and a collection of short stories called My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead. I apparently think that I have a lot of time to read, but until I can figure out how to knit and read at the same time or drive and read (bad, bad idea), that will not be the case. The last book that I read, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, was a bit of a letdown. I'm not sure what I thought it was going to be, but the noir style really didn't it cut it for me. I like the idea of pulp, but Austen and I Capture the Castle are more my speed. Hell, one of my favorite books is a Willa Cather novel.


I have been trying to entertain myself by writing fake headlines in the style of The Onion about things that have happened to me recently. A few examples:

*Local Wendy's Officially Does Not Give A Shit
*Woman Shouting Obscenities Demonstrates Little Knowledge of Grammar Basics
*Potholes Inconvenient
*Religious Devotion Cut Back to Short Reading on Train, Creeping Out Other Commuters
*Itunes Store Recommends Yet Another Shitty Album Just For You

Don't worry, I don't plan to make a career of this. This weekend left me feeling like a real misanthrope, as the above headlines suggest. Sometimes, I'd really like to hole up in my house and not deal with anyone. Sadly, my house does not feature things that I like to have on a regular basis, like cheap magazines, chai lattes, and an almost endless supply of pens (except dead ones).

An informal poll of customers, students, and friends has revealed an unintended effect of the Writers' Strike: lots of downloaded entertainment. That's a kicker, considering that they were working so hard for residuals from digital media. The itunes store must be making out like a bandit, since downloading tv shows is so much more appealing now than what is currently being broadcast. I recently downloaded the first season of Weeds, a show that my friend Willie recently hooked me on. He and I watched about half of the current season on demand, so I decided to start at the beginning. I'd hoped that the first season might shed some light on how Nancy started dealing, but that was not the case. Still quite enjoyable.

After declaring my intent not to bring home any more yarn or start any new projects, a couple of boxes arrived at work from Fleece Artist and Handmaiden in Canada. This is the equivalent of sending an envelope full of cocaine to someone in rehab. I'd like to think that I purchased wisely: a sweater kit, in the same colors as the Yarn Harlot's sweater (not that I stalking her or her sweater. We just like the same colors.), and beautiful, beautiful sock yarn. Meg came to check out the new wares and encouraged me to untwist the skeins to see all of the color variations. She's smart, that Meg.

My issues of the New Yorker seem to be going astray. When I emailed them about this, I received no response. As sure as I go out and buy a copy of the Anniversary Issue, one will arrive in the mail. If I do not, it won't, and I will have to read it at the library. I like to savor reading the magazine, so the library is a less than ideal setting for me to read it. When I was in college, I would lie in bed reading it from cover to cover the afternoon that it arrived. Even the gallery listings. I'm not sure how I had the attention span and the time to do this, but I was focussed!

It was my intent to start on the sweater kit tonight after work (or read the New Yorker, ha), but I conveniently left the pattern on the counter at the store. Saved from an attack of startitis. Instead, I am soaking my foot and reading an excellent autobiography of Julia Child. She was quite a character.

Next post--a round up of recent reads.


February, you make me so cranky. Everything seems so much harder in your lousy weather. Like getting out of my own driveway. Driving near or over the speed limit. Parking. You make me wonder why people decided to settle in Chicago. Those early pioneers must have come in the spring. My ancestors were from Scandinavia, so I am hypothetically made for this weather, but my dry skin and numerous hangnails suggest otherwise.

On the skin front, I've decided to take the homeopathic route. My hangnails always get infected, which stinks because people look at my hands a lot at work. So, I went to Whole Foods and plunked down $10 on a bottle of lavender essential oil. It really works. I had somehow forgotten that it also stings like hell "to promote healing". It also promotes calm moods (like sleep), which doesn't hurt.

On the knitting front: my first knitting class started on Wednesday, while sleet and snow swirled outside. I am teaching two classes this session, Basic Fairisle and Magic Loop. I am really enjoying the project for the fairisle class, the Fairly Easy Fairisle Cardigan from Stitch n Bitch Nation. It's a great beginning project that doesn't look like a beginner's project. In the second class, I am working on an adaptation of Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts. I'd hoped to have the first one finished by the first class tomorrow, but that seems unlikely. I'm a regular knitting machine, but there's only so much that I can accomplish at seven stitches to the inch. And instead of working on it this morning, I've been looking at Ravelry. I just did my first yarn swap on Ravelry for a skein of STR Flower Power, one of the club colors from last year that hasn't been released to the public yet. Woot! The yarn is really beautiful in person and arrived quite quickly. I am very pleased.

I'm thinking about buying a new ipod. Not one of the new Touch ones, which I would clearly break the first week that I had it, but the 80 gig Classic. I have a hand-me-down ipod mini with a 4 gig drive. Everytime that I want to put new music on, I have to take something off. I took off a Beatles album to add Cat Power this week. That hurts. So does the price tag, even though they've really come down since the last time I bought one. My 20 gig cost me the same amount that the 80 gig costs now. Sigh. Is an ipod strictly necessary? No. Am I tired of Sophie's Choice everytime I want to update my library? Yes.


OMIGOD! Two snow plows just came down my street! I didn't think they'd come around until Monday! They must have come because I shoveled the driveway.

pink suede shoes

I like to think that I am a real Chicagoan. I drove my car through all sorts of snow related madness with nary an incident this week. I waded through shin deep snow drifts. Yet I don't feel like going out today. Friday is my errands day, so I had quite the mental list of things to do today. Frankly, I don't feel like doing anything that requires leaving the house. My plan to sleep in this morning was foiled by my internal clock. I now naturally wake up around 8am. After reading for a while, I threw on a couple of layers to go out and shovel. I really didn't need so many layers, because I worked up quite the sweat moving all of that dense, heavy snow with an old fashioned non-ergonomic shovel. I went inside and threw myself on the bed. The cat, sensing my defenselessness and prone position, came and lay on my chest. All of my will to go out quickly ebbed away. So, I am staying home today to play on the computer aimlessly and whine about my aching back. I might knit a little and watch tv. I've already had a long soak in the tub.

Last night, I soldiered my way through the weather to go pay my bill at Macy's (I know, I know). While there, I had to pay a little visit to Lush. I ended up going home with a dozen Holiday Slices, for many a spicy bubble bath. My plan was to only buy four and try to make them last through the rest of the year, but the other eight were thrown in free. So, if you smell a spicy carnation scent and hand-dyed yarn, odds are it's me. There weren't many other people out and the conditions were slick enough that the bus driver actually dropped people at their destinations instead of regular stops. I have never, ever seen this happen before.

Here's an arbitrary list of things I could be knitting now instead of typing:
* The TOFUtsies Two Tone Baby Cardigan. I'm making a pair of them for Lisa's twins.
* My Gruesa cardigan. I worked on it over the weekend, but am afraid I might run out of yarn before I run out of project.
* The Endpaper Mitts that I'm teaching in my magic loop class.
* A pair of Tracy Ullman house slippers. The soles are done, I just have to knit the uppers and felt them. This is good slipper weather.

The trip to Iowa went well. I had really forgotten what the Midwest is like outside of Chicago. Chicago may be in the Midwest on a map, but it's another animal entirely. People in Iowa drive under the speed limit, for starters. Willie and I went people watching at the mall. I cannot remember the last time that I went to a mall. They're pretty redundant/irrelevant in Chicago. I saw bad hair, questionable sweater choices, and lots of flannel. It was like the 90s.

The trip to the mall wasn't just anthropology; we went to see Sweeney Todd there. A strange place to see it, I know. There was nervous laughter in the theater at all of the gore that I don't think I would have heard in the city, but it's hard to say. I had a few initial misgivings about the film. Helena Bonham Carter? Really? Well, she had a hard time putting Angela Lansbury's Mrs. Lovett performance out of my mind, but she was a good match for Johnny Depp's Sweeney Todd. Overall, I loved it. I will admit, I covered my eyes during much of the Grand Guignol. Even though Meghan warned me that it was gory, I was unprepared for the arterial spray in the Judge Turpin scene. Yikes! Alan Rickman was fantastic as the judge, with such an air of studied debauchery and sleeze. His diction while singing was a little hard to understand, but he has a nice voice.

We also went to a casino. Not a riverboat casino, since we were inland. Willie's son works as a chef in one of their restaurants, so we decided to pay him a visit and play the slots. I ate red gravy. That is how the menu described marinara sauce. Red gravy. I mentally blogged while eating it. We managed to find some actual one-armed bandits and played the slots for an hour. I'd like to say that I won a nice chunk of change, but I did leave with a cash out of $0.47.

I can't wait for this weather to end. I have a new pair of shoes that I want to wear, but I don't want to ruin them in all the slush or loose them in a snowdrift. A couple of weeks ago, Kiki and I were discussing our love of Dansko clogs at work when one of our customers chimed in. She bought a suede pair online that turned out to be too narrow, even after being stretched by a cobbler. She brought them in this week and gave them to me for free to have them out of the house. They are pink suede, a sophisticated ashes of roses shade, and fit me like a glove. I wore them for the rest of the day at the store, then sensibly stowed them in a bag to go home.

My car has recovered from the latest bout of old car-itis. The reason that it was acting so poky and unresponsive to my gentle administration of gas? It was firing on two cylinders. That would do it. The car needed a tune-up, new spark plugs and spark plug wires (just like you said, Dad), exhaust pipe, and ignition coil. When I expressed surprise at the last item, the mechanic observed that it's not that hard to turn over two cylinders. As public transportation is scant in my area, I was glad to have the car back before the snow. It's quite tempting to drive all the time in this weather, but I decided to do the responsible thing (fiscally and environmentally) and bought a monthly train ticket.

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