We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming after the holiday weekend. In the meantime, here's a little quiz.

A literary meme, taken from Eliza:

Apparently most people will have only read 6 of the 100 in this list. I find that hard to believe. Well, maybe not so hard, but I don't think that I know "most people".


1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Underline those you intend to read.
3) Italicise the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 and force books upon them.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (see 35.)
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (A great revisiting of the traditional boarding school novel. If you like these, I highly recommend Stalky & Co. by Rudyard Kipling.)
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (When I read this in high school, my English teacher told me that he envied me the ability to read it for the first time. Now I understand.)
6. The Bible (I went to parochial school, but the whole thing? no.)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte(Read it for an English Lit class in college and found that I prefer Austen to Bronte.)
8.Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (This book made me cry.)
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (blurg)
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (Complete? no. How many people have really read Timon of Athens? I do really love Henry IV, pt.1, a great riff on St. Augustine's story, one of the basic themes of Western literature.)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (I also recommd the Hitchcock adaptation. The cinematography alone makes it a classic!)
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (Wants to be Proust. Isn't.)
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (Isn't this everyone's favorite American novel? Strangely, few people read it as an adult. It has much more depth if you re-read it once you've done a bit of living.)
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck Meh.
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (I couldn't believe that Oprah put this on her book list. The pacing makes Pasternak look like a Reader's Digest Condensed Book.)
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (I loved these books when I was a kid, until I caught on to the blatant Christian imagery.)
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins (I just read this. Very engrossing. Apparently one of the first books to use multiple narrators in Western literature.)
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (I'm a big Montgomery fan)
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan (The end of this novel is absolutely heartbreaking.)
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (If you meet any Colonel Brandons, please send them my way.)
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (Not as good as its rep would lead you to believe, sadly.)
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt (I found the ending of this novel unsatisfying.)
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (Incredible narration.)
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (in English and French. I'm an overachiever.)
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac (I agree with Truman Capote: "That's not writing. That's typing.")
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy (I'd recommend the Mayor of Casterbridge before this.)
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (started)
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (This novel was hugely popular during the American Civil War)

I've read an improbable 50% of this list. Apparently, all I did was read when I was a kid. That probably accounts for my total lack of coordination. Other books that I recommend without reservation:

* The Portrait of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. Wit beyond measure, in rare prose form. Thank God Wilde wrote in English.
* The Song of the Lark, by Willa Cather. Not her usual dreck about Scandinavian immigrants fighting it out on the dusty plains. This novel deals with the emotional and artistic development of a young artist, which leads her away from home towards greatness.
* I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith. The development of the narrator's voice in this novel is nothing short of incredible. Possibly the best first person limited I've read.
* Einstein's Dreams, by Alan Lightman. I read this book in college and it changed my life. I cannot tell you how many times I have given this as a gift.
* Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor. Possibly the best researched romance novel ever, it is the classiest trash. A real page turner good for transatlantic flights, rainy weekends, and trips to the beach. Often compared to Gone With the Wind for scope and sauciness.
* All of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I adored these books when I was a kid, and I thought it was the coolest thing that one of my mom's quilting books was written by her daughter. Full of great anecdotes like the ox putting its foot through the top of their dugout house and the infamous fight with Nellie in the creek full of leeches. Nellie clearly needed to be taken down a peg or two.
* Time and Again and From Time to Time, by Jack Finney. Time travel similar to the movie Somewhere in Time. I should re-read these again soon....
* The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy. Epic, multi-generational love affairs and scandal within the august Forsyte family. It's a thick book, but quickly draws the reader in. My mother recently told me that there are more books following the Forsytes, which I intend to look for the next time I'm at Powell's.
* Maus, by Art Spiegelman. Yes, it's a graphic novel about the Second World War using cars and mice, but that's just the surface. Beautiful layout and art as well as an incredible story.
* Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. A distinctive voice and vivid design used to describe the Islamic Revolution from the viewpoint of a teenage girl.
* A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway. One of the few Hemingway books I really love (please everyone stop recommending The Sun Also Rises), this is an autobiographical treatment of his early years in Paris. If for nothing else, read for the anecdote involving Zelda Fitzgerald telling F. Scott Fitzgerald he has a small penis.

If you copy this meme, please drop me a link in the comments. I'm always interested in good book recommendations!


Everything's Fine

I apparently needed to have a fiber related freak out. Well, a couple of knitting related ones. The Malabrigo is fine. Wet Malabrigo smells remarkably like wet cat. Winston had to investigate the matter and ended up making a little nest for himself near the drying yarn. It is now unkinked. Having compared it to two recently wound skeins of Malabrigo, I have decided that it will knit to gauge. Maybe I can even go down a needle size. There will definitely be swatches in its future.

I spent at least an hour looking for buttons online this evening. Buying buttons online is far from ideal. The project in need of buttons should go to the shop selling notions for the fiber equivalent of speed dating. Holding the yarn up to my monitor is not the same. Still, I squinted away. I have three projects that must have buttons before xmas, and no suitable buttons in the button jar. That thought made me realize that I had no idea where the amazing ceramic buttons that I bought from Jennie the Potter were. The safe place strikes again! They were located in less than fifteen minutes, in a stack of mail. Must have made sense at the time. While searching for them, I found other buttons that had been assumed missing or lost, including a set that I bought from Jennie at the first YarnCon. Those rediscovered buttons look smashing with the revitalized Malabrigo! So, the next time that I decide to put something in a "safe place", I've got to stop myself and put it in a sensible place. Otherwise, I will keep St. Anthony very, very busy.

According to the sign in front of a local firehouse, Thanksgiving has the most fires of any day out of the year. Hmmm...booze, relatives, and questionable cooking? I can see how that might start a few fires. My Grandmother and I were discussing deep-fat frying turkeys. Apparently, both my dad and uncle somehow acquired a device that allows you to deep fat fry a turkey on a grill. This must have been invented by one of those guys who lights a fire in a grill with rocket fuel (no shit, there's a video somewhere on the web. I vaguely recall a bet and NASA employees involved) or some woman who had had enough of her husband wrecking the kitchen. Potential for burning down the house, or at least singeing off arm hair: high. Please be safe this Thanksgiving. Don't drive drunk, burn down any houses, or aggravate more conservative relatives with your Obama love. Perhaps you will be thankful that these big family holidays come but twice a year.


Random Thoughts:

When will Blogger learn the word Obama? I know it doesn't like proper nouns, but come on!

The song in the ads for the new Dido CD is the only good one on the CD.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is such a delightful movie that it made me want to read the book. How often does that happen?

My grandfather tells me that it takes 3-5 years to get a car from the drawing board to production. Three years ago, Detroit was selling heaps of SUVs and other gas guzzlers, so there was no economic incentive to design smaller, more fuel efficient cars (which would be available now). There should have been a bigger push to get people to give up larger vehicles to decrease our dependence on foreign oil when the War on Terror(ism) began. We haven't been asked to sacrifice anything here on the homefront. Maybe members of the Bush administration were asleep during the "guns or butter" discussion in econ, because we've been stuck with shitty guns* and margarine.

My friends list on Facebook has become somewhat unmanageable, and I know people whose lists are larger than mine by a power of ten.

I like cover albums.

I once saw a defaced Dido poster on the subway in New York. They had simply added an L. So brilliant I remember it years later.

Etsy is a sponsor of NPR. I didn't think it was possible to love etsy more until I heard that.

I never catch the first half of The Play's The Thing. It's like the opposite of my evenings at the opera.

I'm getting more annoying calls since I renewed my enrollment on the Do Not Call Registry than I did before. They're all robocalls, so there's no one to tell to remove me from their list.

I think that my Malabrigo is dead. It isn't recommended to wind yarn into balls until you're ready to use it. I know this. I have advised people of this many times. That is what I did. I wound three skeins of Malabrigo into balls a while ago and never got around to making the intended project. No biggie, except the balls were wound really tight. I must have been in a hurry at the time, and cranked the hell out of the ball winder. The Malabrigo was co-opted for the Liesl marathon, because somehow three skeins is enough for an adult sweater in that pattern. Well, I cast on this evening and noticed that the yarn wasn't as cushy as usual. It was far more compact and kind of kinky, as though I had frogged a project, and looked more like DK than worsted weight. So, I decided to take drastic measures, reskeining the yarn by hand over a couple of kitchen chairs. But that wasn't enough. I proceeded to give the yarn a bath, with a liberal dose of Soak wash thrown in to help relax the fiber. Whether or not this works remains to be seen. The skeins are laid out to dry on the bed now, atop a pile of towels and blankets. Fiber revival is my hope, though if it doesn't recover, it won't be the end of the world. Disappointing, yes.

*Shitty guns? Well, more like overpriced supplies due to bad DoD contracts, and a scarcity of armor and gear.


Today was not my day for transportation. The lights were turned on downtown for the holiday season, with much fuss and crowds, so I decided to take the train in. Except the train still hadn't left the depot ten minutes after it was supposed to have arrived at the station. The announcement offered no hints as to when it might arrive, so I decided to drive in instead and stash the bug in one of my secret parking lots. Cheap parking never puts you near where you're going, so I had to take the bus to the theatre. I waited half an hour for a bus, which meant that I had to run through the crowds of people wandering aimlessly after the parade to get there before the curtain.
On the way home, I was nearly broadsided by a panel van who didn't see me changing lanes. We must have decided to get into that lane at the same time from its neighboring lanes. I was doing seventy at the time, which made things exciting. The van driver never saw me, because he didn't try to avoid hitting me. Thank god for my desire to live and well-engineered car!

Where was I so determined to go, despite all of these obstacles? A Lar Lubovitch dance concert, which was incredible. Amazing. Difficult to describe. I have decided that I love Lar Lubovitch. Well, I love his work; I've never met him. His choreography, his company, the incredibly strong male dancing, all of the lifts were riveting. There was an all male piece in the program that blew me away. Even the fog was sublime, which is difficult. It hung over the stage at the beginning of the piece and the movement of the dancers drew it into the dancing space. It was so well done that I wasn't distracted by technical thoughts, which are hard for me to turn off.
The seat was a surprise. I don't remember it being so close to the stage when I bought my tickets for the year. I prefer to sit near where the tech table sits in the house: about half to two thirds of the way back. Better sight lines. My seat this evening was in the third row, between a man who looked uncannily like one of my female college professors and an older woman whose elbow poked me throughout the entire evening. I should have known she would be trouble when she and her husband made no effort to move when I wanted to get to my seat, as though I could just levitate into it. The change in perspective was interesting. There were times when I wish that I could have taken in the whole stage more easily, but there was so much more detail. I could hear their feet on the stage, see the texture of the costumes and the musculature in the dancers' legs. There was even a brief moment when I met eyes with one of the dancers during an intense solo, which was electrifying. Isn't that we want in every performance, as an audience member?

On the knitting front, I am still working on Liesl #2, which I am calling Raspberry Truffle on Ravelry. I happened upon one of the tags for the yarn since my last post and realized that I am using Big Blue instead of BFL Chunky. Either way, it is cushy and rich and a delight to knit. The color distribution in the skeins worked out well, with no noticeable pooling. The lace isn't as prominent a feature as it was in Liesl #1, but this one has much more depth to it. Maybe when I'm out from under all of this xmas knitting, I'll have a chance to put up some pics.


I Spent Twelve Hours Outside the House Yesterday

See, I'm not really a shut-in. I hit the road at an hour usually devoted to sleep to get a start on a very long day. I planned all of my errands and appointments in the city for the same day, to be more efficient in my movements. So, I had a doctor's appointment, my standing appointment, a hair appointment (the back was getting a little mullet-y), and swung by the Weimar Republic. A very full day.

I may have discovered the only place in the world where hot air does not rise. Yes, the Lyric Opera's top balcony defies the laws of physics. I subscribed this year, but missed the first two operas in my series due to scheduling conflicts. I was pleasantly surprised by my seat for the season, which is at the front of its section. I'd expected something in the last row, like the first year that my mother subscribed. By chance, I made the difficult opera of the season my first of the year. Lulu was something I'd looked forward to seeing. I love the Weimar aesthetic, and one of the sopranos featured in Fliedermaus two seasons back was starring. She was excellent, and the design was spot-on. However, I can only suffer so much for art. This may seem like hyperbole, but I felt warmer standing under the lamps on an exposed El platform than I did in my seat at the opera house. So, I've seen the first act of yet another opera. The next time I go, I will have to bring at least one shawl.

I seem to be in a Feather and Fan period. That easiest of lace patterns continually flows from my needles. It began with a quick scarf in Colinette Tagliatelli, which my cat has adopted as a blanket for his nest. He only likes the good yarn. Then, I began a series of four Liesl cardigans. The first was knit in RYC Soft Tweed, which I definitely recommend for anyone else interested in making this sweater. It's soft, shows off the lace well, and has just enough visual texture to keep things interesting without overpowering the pattern. The second one is in progress, in Fleece Artist BFL Aran. It's not as lofty as the Soft Tweed, so it has a different look. The other two will be knit in Malabrigo Worsted. It will be an excellent illustration in how yarn choice can make a pattern turn out differently.

Thanks for the comments on my previous pity party post. I feel much better about the whole thing now, possibly because I sold the yarn shortly after I wrote it. Ravelry will provide. I've had a few good trades through Ravelry: snagging a sweater's worth of Tagliatelli, some Madelinetosh, and a skein of Kureyon sock. My destash sales have gone well and relatively quickly. I even found a Colinette book (for the Tagliatelli) for $2. You can't beat that. Yes, there are some bossy knitters who like to throw in their $5 on Ravelry, but that's no different than the knitting klatch at most LYSes.


Mo-om! All the other kids are being mean to me!

It is hard to determine tone on the internet. This probably leads to a lot of unnecessary flame wars. I'm not in one, but I am frustrated and my feelings are a little hurt. I should explain. I am trying to sell some unloved yarn from my stash, fourteen skeins of alpaca that just don't interest me anymore. So, I posted them on Ravelry for $50, which is the wholesale price. Shortly afterward, a new member wrote a post saying that the price was "the problem". Seems critical, eh? I explained that the price I am asking is a 50% discount, at which point other people tried to "help" me understand. I understand that the economy is in the shitter. One of the reasons that I am selling the yarn is that I need the money! I know that a lot of people are losing their jobs (like me) and can't afford my asking price. I wrote a post saying that I am willing to give the criticizing poster the benefit of the doubt, which apparently only encouraged her to belabor the point. Ugh. Being the bigger person so rarely pays off. Now, I just want to take my marbles and go home. Maybe someone will buy my yarn, or maybe they won't.


The past couple of days have gone really well. I've gotten a lot accomplished: made a trip to an LYS, knit most of a sweater, made baked goods, went to a dinner party, and finally got to the post office while it was open. Woot!

My mother and I spent the weekend together. I let the cat out of the bag about her xmas present (matching sweaters-- she was appropriately speechless), leading to an hour long teleconference about yarn. Finally, we decided to meet at Chix With Stix to investigate their wall of Malabrigo. They're also my favorite Jitterbug pushers. They're not pushy, but that yarn is crazy addictive. Maybe the wool is plied with heroin. An appropriate shade of pink Malabrigo was chosen, and we set off to wind and strategize.

I promised to bring a dessert to a dinner party without any idea of what I would bring. Unfortunately, everyone already knew that I could cook, having eaten my red velvet cake, so replating something from Whole Foods was out of the question. My mom pulled a recipe for lemon bars out the Joy of Cooking for me. I am embarrassed to admit that I still need some adult supervision in the kitchen. I'm not going to burn the house down (knock on wood), but I planned to peel the lemon in one long continuous strip, as though I was garnishing a $20 martini. No, it was time for the old knuckle grater instead. My mother managed not to laugh while explaining the zest-making process. Basically, you just go to town on a lemon with a grater. As lemons are much larger than nutmegs (which I grate at least once a year. Must have freshly grated nutmeg), there was no additional protein in the lemon bars.

While planning and cooking, my mother popped in her current selection from Netflix: the first season of Slings and Arrows. I'd heard many good things about the show, but had also noticed that an alarming number of its fans are assholes. Fearing that it was an asshole magnet, and that liking it might make me an asshole, I had avoided it. Well, we watched it. It was good. Neither of us are assholes as a result. I have a love/hate relationship with backstage dramas. Either they're in the Judy Garland/Andy Rooney vein, putting on a show in a borrowed barn through the magic of a snappy montage, or so realistic as to feel like work, making them too painful to watch. Slings and Arrows manages to be neither, perhaps because it is Canadian. Realistic without being horrid, clever, well written and acted. I've bumped the second season up to the top of my Netflix list.

On the knitting front: I was a little too cocky about my progress on the first Liesl sweater. I knit half of it in one day, which is always impressive. You may recall from physics class that small deviations in initial conditions can cause wild divergences in eventual outcome. There was probably a diagram involving a a crazy looking, almost Fibonacci spiral in the book to illustrate this theory. Well, that is definitely true of feather and fan lace. I made an extra increase under the arm that quickly became seven extra stitches. If only I had caught it sooner, I might not have had to rip out five inches of work. Perhaps I will have to institute a lace knitting curfew. My mother used to tell me about the time of day that quilters put down their needles, which has more to do with the availability of natural light. Maybe there's a time when my mind just stops following lace.


The past couple of days have been pretty mundane. I'm doing exciting things like getting a new widget, topping off the coolant in the bug in the rain, looking at paperwork, going to the bank, and staying up too late. Oh, and using the Oxford comma. Resistance is futile, grammar contrarians!

In the throes of terrible boredom, I came across a European Pez website. They have other flavors of Pez there. Some of them aren't even fruit flavors! When I saw a multipack of Pez at Walgreens with an unfamiliar flavor, I pounced. Naturally, I forgot what I'd gone in for, but I found raspberry Pez. Raspberry Pez are gross. They don't taste like Pez, but like real raspberries. Normally, that would be good, but I have clear expectations of Pez, and realistic flavor isn't one of them.

I'm on to another knitting project now, in the big countdown to xmas. It's a feather and fan scarf, knit out of a wonderful wool tape made by Colinette on big needles. The lace pattern is one of the simplest ones around, but it always manages to trip me up. I mess up the initial math for it, or forget that the decreases are directional. Sometimes, I purl a knit row. It's really not that hard, but it is at three in the morning. So, no more lace in the wee hours. The project was also started on the wrong needles. Wool tape on Bryspun needles? No. It dragged big time, leading me to give the side eye to the bag of the same yarn I'd just gotten in a trade on Ravelry. It's not the yarn's fault! Fortunately, Tyler just lent me a pair of Addis in the appropriate size. They are long and shiny and slick. The scarf is moving along lickety-split now, and the yarn has been redeemed.


A picture poached from the BBC. Go hug a veteran.


Wow, someone's already voted that they don't like the blog redesign. Awesome!

I slept for twelve hours and woke up tired. Either I slept too much or not enough. Since I'm working off a sleep deficit rivaling that of the national debt, I think that I could use a nap. Maybe I'll have a soak in the tub and go to bed early. Yes, I have the usual post-closing funk. I didn't expect it to kick in until Thursday, the first time that I will have a phantom show twitch. Sigh.

Today has not been the most productive day. That is okay. People seem overly concerned with productivity these days. At least, the status updates of my friends on Facebook seem to mention being productive a lot. Being productive, wanting to feel productive, not being productive. Maybe it's the economy bearing down on everyone, or the basic need we have to create. Today, I put my test skein of Malabrigo sock up for trade on Ravelry and proceeded to watch the pot not boil. There is something about the internet that creates expectations of immediate results.

I did a bit of knitting, too, while watching Gossip Girl. I was really surprised to see Wallace Shawn as one of the guest stars. He's a genius of the theatre, but somehow always ends up in roles like the unwanted set-up for Candace Bergen on Sex and the City. The parents' plot lines don't get a lot of time on the show (a mistake), but I hope to see him in a few more episodes.


Daily Blogging? Fail!

Experts say that it takes a month of doing something for it to become a habit. I'd assume that excludes hard drugs. Well, I couldn't make it a week with the daily blogging. In my defense, the last two days felt like one, as I only got a three hour nap between them. Yes, I was busy. Busy doing interesting things, like seething at the CTA again, closing my show, drinking Jack Daniels out of a paper cup, and taking both the late and the early train.

The CTA is such an easy target. It's dirty and lousy and we're lucky to have anything. But I was especially pissed when my train (to catch the last commuter train of the night) came to a stop due to single track schemes for what seemed like an eternity. Actually, I have no idea how long it sat there, because I bailed, fearing a missed connection with my other train. So, in addition to paying $1.75 not to get where I was going, I had to take a $9 cab ride. Service was still shitty today. The blue line moved with a rapidity that would have been impressive during the Lincoln administration. It made noises like it was dragging a muffler behind it and was perhaps held together with metal hangers from the dry cleaners.

I'd made a deal with myself that I could sleep on the commuter train, which was a lie. I've slept on Metra once. I was sick as a dog and jet lagged at the time. One of my biggest fears is missing my stop, as they're fairly far apart, so I try very hard to stay awake on the way home. The way there seems perfectly safe, but is always somehow impossible. The Bears were playing a home game today, so there were plenty of obnoxious fans on the train. Still drunk at eight? Well, that happens. But already drunk at eight am and working your way through a suitcase of Icehouse? Impressive. If that describes you, please do not attempt eye contact or any other forms of flirtation with me. Cary Grant is more my type.

While desperately trying to stay awake on the ride home this evening, I paged through the new Vanity Fair. I wasn't impressed with the Belle du Jour inspired photo spread with Kate Winslet. There was the unexpected delight of Jon Hamm in the new Gap holiday campaign (pictured above). It is sort of strange to seen him in modern clothes instead of his chic Mad Men suits. Still, very handsome. I wish that AMC would order longer seasons of Mad Men. Sure, 30 Rock has new episodes now, so it's not a total television wasteland, but it's not really the same. Kind of like carob and chocolate.


I had a fairly busy day today, including a wake up call from my mom, lunch with Tyler, a regular appointment, the show, a visit to Zoe at work, and a call to the police.

I realize that it is not unreasonable to think someone might be awake at ten A.M., however, the someone was me. I was not, but I'd decided the night before that I wanted to wake up around that time. The previous night (well, very early this morning), I'd sent my mom an email asking her advice. The house next door has been vacant for a while and is now clearly abandoned. At first, there was a sign in the window and the grass in the yard was mown. Now, no signs, the back gate hanging at a drunken angle from its hinge, and the front door standing wide open. I'd assumed there was an agent in the house when I first saw the door ajar, but when it was still open at midnight two days later, I became concerned. I don't want to live next to a crack house. Most people don't. But I didn't know who to contact. Well, the police were happy to take care of it. I called their non-emergency line (which I had to look up. When I was a kid, they made us memorize the emergency and non-emergency numbers in Girl Scouts. Obviously, pre-911) and an officer showed up ten or fifteen minutes later. The door was closed when I came home tonight.

Winston alerted me to the police presence. Or maybe it was the mailman, who arrived at the same time. The sock patterns that I ordered from Blue Moon were waiting in a cardboard mailer between the doors. You can see how that would distract me from being a nosy neighbor. Since I have, as my mother put it, all of the sock yarn in the world, I've been looking for good sock patterns. Blue Moon has some really fabulous ones, including a couple that were just released from sock club exclusivity. When I'm done with all of my xmas knitting and have made a couple of warm sweaters, I plan to make the Cedar Creek Socks and Lenore, designed by the Yarn Harlot. How incredibly nerdy and fabulous are socks inspired by Edgar Allen Poe?

I'd hoped to catch Mamablue's etsy update this afternoon, but I was on the go. I even took my heavy old laptop with me to try to catch some free wi-fi. Since I don't *need* any more yarn, it's just as well that I missed it. I was hanging out with Zoe instead, and all of the wifi networks near her store required a key. When I checked after the show, everything had already been sold! Crazy. The Squid and Ink kit had piqued my interest, but I guess I'll just have to wait until they're released separately in 2009. And keep my fingers crossed that I can get them. The pattern, from what I can surmise while squinting intently at my monitor, looks like it would also work well from Malabrigo sock. I've had a skein of it sitting on my kitchen table for ages. It's just not my color, so I haven't been inspired, even though it is heavenly Malabrigo. I tried giving it to Tyler when I first got it, since he like manly colors like deep rust, but he doesn't do knitted socks and gave it back. Maybe I'll put it up for trade on Ravelry.



The title says it all. I don't know what we'll talk about at work now, since the election has been our most popular topic of conversation. I got a text message from an octogenarian friend in England about Obama's victory, which charmed me to no end. Maybe texts are still a novelty to her, or she just didn't want to type out his name, but she called him Mr. B.O. I had to laugh. I've never smelled our president-elect, but I imagine he smells very nice. He seems like a sandalwood and lime peel man. My stepmother also sent out a celebratory email. She grew up in Hawaii and remembers all the excitement when the islands became a state. Who could have imagined that less than fifty years later there would be a Hawaiian in the White House? Of course, we like to think of him as one of our own in Chicago. It's really incredible how many people identify with Obama and claim his as one of their own. I'm missing out on part of the celebration. I know that his election is incredibly important to African-Americans. Obama's race is a bit of a non-issue for me, which is probably a sign of something much larger happening in American society.

I've decided not to rub salt in the wounds of the few McCain supporters that I know. I called to talk to my Grandmother about it yesterday, and she seemed upbeat, hopeful about the outcome. She also told me that my Grandfather has decided not to comment on it. I can only imagine how this seems to them. The next president is younger than their children. Obama is my generation's Kennedy and I think that my grandparents liked Ike.

On the knitting front-- I'm plugging away at the xmas presents. I am especially pleased with the wrist warmers currently on the needles. Just look at that thumb gusset, in established rib pattern. Ill! I designed it myself. I feel confident about my progress, even though I have a couple of big projects left to knit.



I just had my date with destiny. It couldn't have been a lovelier day for it, either. Most years, the first week of November is wickedly cold in Chicago, but this year it is sweater weather, sunny, and has just enough of a breeze to make the leaves crinkle on the ground. I happily strolled through them on my way to the polling place, a smile on my face. This is the most important election of my life thus far, and I just voted. Now, I have to wait and see what the rest of the country does. I've backed a couple of losing horses in the past (okay, all of the people 'til now), but I am optimistic. I have confidence that a lot of like-minded people will go to the polls today.

So, I'm over the pity party for now. After whining about not getting any knitting done, I finished a pair of socks and cast on for a pair of wrist warmers. They are also being made up in Claudia Handpainted Sport. I really love this yarn. It was supposed to make a pair of socks for my mom, but one of them was in my old car when it was stolen. One skein won't make a pair of socks, so one beloved relative is in luck!

I will probably post again later, but I'm going to take a nap now. I could hardly sleep last night. Part of that was excitement about the election, and part of it was princess and the pea syndrome. I'd spread out most of my stash on the bed to plan out the xmas presents and it wasn't as cozy as you would think. Not even that giant bale of Manos.


In honor of NaBloPoMo, I am making an effort to blog more often. Every day might be a little unrealistic, but I think that I can write something worthwhile more than twice a month. I'm listening to jazz now, waiting for the words to come. This is the time of year for jazz. There's probably jazz appropriate to each season, but I am currently on an introspective jazz kick: Bill Evans and Miles Davis. Something cerebral, quiet, and a little lonely, like me. I listened to Kind of Blue as I drove to work the other day and it was perfect. The weather has been warm enough to take in an autumnal breeze through the moonroof and the trees are at the height of their beauty.

I haven't gotten as much knitting done as I'd like. Part of that has to do with not taking the train as often, and part of that has to do with my emotional landscape. I've got the blahs. Similar to the blues, but with different letters. Some of it has to do with my show closing this weekend. I really like the people that I work with, and I will miss them. I like having some human interaction and some shape to my week. There are also some other things that don't really have anything to do with me, but still bring tears to my eyes. I've been a weepy drunk lately, which is a relatively new development. Alcohol is like other drugs in that respect: mysteriously influenced by your underlying state. And lately, that hasn't been too fun. No one wants to be the crying drunk girl.

I took an amazing bath on Halloween, when I was feeling low. The water was deep purple, with silver glitter, as though I were soaking in the night sky. It was the last Black Purl that I had in my stash. I hadn't been saving it, exactly, and Halloween seemed perfect. I didn't wear a costume this year or hand out candy, but I didn't hide with the lights out either. A work friend and I went out for a drink in Wicker Park, where we got in some excellent people watching. Casey observed that Halloween is the time for men to dress as women and women to dress as whores, which was pretty accurate. I was impressed by the dedication involved in some of the costumes we saw. These people didn't buy something at Walgreens or throw together a costume at the last minute. We saw a Duff Man, a package of baloney, several Jokers, an amazing Fifth Element costume (she must have been relieved that it was warm!), and a couple of good Sarah Palins. Another of my coworkers had a brilliant team costume: he dressed as the Joker and his girlfriend as Palin, with Joker/Palin 08 buttons. There were also several women who were either dressed as whores or actual whores. It was kind of hard to tell. Good, low effort fun.

It's November now, which means I really need to get my ass in gear making xmas presents. I imagine that I'll get in some quality knitting time watching the election returns tomorrow. When I'm not drunk or crying. Those are election night traditions, though I hope to be crying tears of joy this year. So far, I have finished one pair of socks and a scarf. I'm more than halfway finished on the second sock of a second pair, but I also want to knit two shrugs, two sweaters, and a hat. Maybe some armwarmers too if I don't kill my wrists. No, I'm not smoking crack, but I have eaten a lot of Smarties. Well...less typing and more knitting!

Don't plan an intervention; those are Smarties on the album cover.

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