Friday, February 27, 2009

I Refuse To Change The Leopardies' Spots....


Okay, so I wanted to knit some more house socks.

The reason I love to knit house socks is because I need many pairs--- and new ones often--- since I'm hard on them and wear them out quickly. I wear them all the time, both around the house as true house socks, and also as boot socks with my Bass Pro Shop knee-high rubber boots.

I've made several different types of pairs lately, but I wanted to make this particular pair "leopardy".

(Is 'leopardy' a word???)

So anyhoo, I graphed out the best leopardy graph I could manage, and I knitted what I thought was a leopardy sock. And I was pretty happy with it...

...until Blaine said that it "didn't look leopardy to him".


Okay, so I knitted the Second Sock--- and on this one I re-arranged the colors to see if I could get things to look more leopardy.
(And since I never make matching socks anyway, these Leopardies will fit right in with the rest of the hapless, un-matching socks in my sock drawer...)

But even after seeing the Second Sock--- and both together--- Blaine STILL doesn't think they look leopardy.

WELL again...

So I took a family poll and emailed pictures of the Leopardies to his family. And today I got the answers. Blaine's brother and sister-in-law DO think they look leopardy. But Blaine's sister opined that they'd "look more leopardy if I had knitted the top bands the color black."

Knitted the top bands black? But wouldn't that be more "cougary" than leopardy?

To tell you the truth, I really like the stupid things. They're thick, and I knitted them "high top" style---tall--- to fit comfortably when I wear them with boots. And they're warm. And they also make my clogs fit better when I wear them with the clogs if I so choose.

God, I'm on a total house sock binge lately. I'm knitting these silly things like crazy and I don't know why. I guess I just plain enjoy knitting them, maybe because they are fast knits (being knit out of worsted yarn) and I have fun trying to come up with new and different ones in crazy colors.

And I've decided that I don't give a flip if idgity Blaine doesn't think they look leopardy. In my own mind's eye they look leopardy. (Wait till he sees the next ones I've got on the needles--- HEH!--- they are totally BIZARRE--- even to me!--- and they're called "Stripes Mania". )

(I wonder if my idol Castiel would think my socks looked leopardy?...)

(I'd love to knit Castiel a pair of socks....)

(He always looks so brooding and intense, wearing that baggy duster coat all the time--- with that tie--- and I'll bet that he only wears plain black socks, although you'd think that an "angel" would wear white, right?...)


Oh yeah, the Leopardies. Sigh..... I'm forever going to wonder if they "really" look leopardy or not.


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Truth Is Out There....But Probably Not At Blaine and Bo's House

When Good Debaters Go Bad


Conversations Blaine and I Would Never Admit That We Actually Had...


Setting: Just another evening at home in front of the television, watching the History Channel while the lazy cats, Leonard and Little Baby, alternated between either staring rudely at us, sleeping, or waiting plaintively by their saucers in hopes of tuna. The TV documentary is posing yet another theory about what "really" happened at Roswell, New Mexico. Blaine is reclining on the couch--- and I am knitting on yet another pair of house socks--- some funky, picot-topped "boots" called The Leopardies...

Blaine (ever the open minded one, innocently threw out a query): "I wonder if it's really true that a space ship containing four aliens crashed in the Roswell area in the 50's?"

Me (after thinking a minute): "Nope. The known facts don't add up. I don't think it really happened."

Blaine (always loving a good debate): "But how can you be so sure? Surely you don't think that our earth holds the only intelligent life in this vast universe?"

Me (always willing to rise to the challenge of a good debate): "It's not that I think we're the only intelligent life in the universe--- it's just that I don't think that a lone space ship only large enough to hold four little aliens could have crashed in the open desert without further alien involvement. For example, if one did crash out there, where was its 'mothership'?"

Blaine: "Mothership? What makes you think there would have been a mothership?"

Me (sighing and rolling my eyes): "Think about it. Such a small craft as the one they claim was found simply couldn't have stored enough fuel and supplies necessary to travel millions of light years from another galaxy to earth. It would have had to be a utility type shuttlecraft--- one which belonged to some larger transport, like a huge mothership. But no evidence of a mothership was ever found."

Blaine: "Maybe there WAS a mothership and it just wasn't seen--- and it flew away."

Me: "No, the mothership wouldn't have left its crewmembers to die on a foreign planet. If there was a mothership, they would have wanted the aliens' bodies back--- to give them a military funeral or a burial at space or ... or whatever it is that their culture would require."

Blaine (now sighing and rolling his own eyes, doggedly attempting to play the devil's advocate): "What makes you think the little craft--- if there was one--- came from so far away? Maybe a craft that small COULD have had the means to fly here by itself because it came from a nearby planet--- one here in the Milky Way."

Me (leveling a stern glance at Blaine): "If intelligent life with the capability of flying space ships to earth was as close as the Milky Way, then I would think that their friends---or superiors--- would surely have come after them when they didn't return. And also, if they truly were that close, then their communication signals would have been detected. No, there was no mothership; thus, no little space ship with aliens."

Blaine (lustily defending his position): "Maybe there WAS a mothership, but it had to HIDE itself--- because it couldn't allow itself to be detected due to the 'Prime Directive', which prohibits them from interfering with local intelligent life."

Me (still analyzing the logistics, as my mind saw them...): "For God's sake, Blaine, this isn't 'Star Trek'. And besides, even if there were a mothership-- and they DID have a 'Prime Directive'-- then that stupid little shuttlecraft sure as hell wasn't doing a very good job of hiding itself by flying recklessly over the open spaces of New Mexico in broad daylight!"

Blaine (suddenly getting an epiphany): "Or... perhaps we couldn't see the mothership because their technology is so much more advanced than ours that... well... they were able to move back and forth through wormholes... or time warps!"

Me: "Hah! If their technology was so great, then how come their stupid little shuttlecraft crashed in the desert on a bright sunny day, for God's sakes? Hell, there weren't even any thunderstorms..... or fog!"

Blaine (stubbornly): "Maybe their instruments failed because of magnetic forces or something..."

Me (sighing patiently): "Roswell isn't the Bermuda Triangle, Blaine."

(The argument goes no further because it's dinner time. But after dinner both of us return to the living room and resume the evening--- Blaine re-claiming his perch on the couch to continue watching the History Channel (which was now showing a program about the search for the Holy Grail), and me grabbing my laptop to surf 'Ravelry' , to look at all the pretty knitted things....)

Blaine: "Say, that TV show, 'NCIS'--- the one with your hero, Jethro Gibbs--- is coming on after this Holy Grail documentary. I suppose you'll want to watch it, so that you can slobber over him like you usually do."

Me: "Don't be ridiculous---I am soooo over him. I don't idolize him anymore."

Blaine: "Well thank God you've grown out of that stupid phase..."

(I neglect to tell him that the reason I don't idolize Leroy Jethro Gibbs anymore is because I have moved on.... Now, I idolize Castiel, the melancholy angel on the TV show 'Supernatural'.)

( I think Castiel's wings are sooooo dreamy.....)

(And I'm not quite certain... but I might have noticed.... at least, I think I noticed.... that Leonard rolled HIS stupid eyes.....)


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mardi Gras Socks...


Every year for Carnival time,

We make a new suit,

Red, yellow, green, purple or blue,

We make a new suit...

("New Suit", The Wild Magnolias)


* Okay, I'm half French Cajun, so I always get into a good mood around Mardi Gras time.

It's in my blood, chers!

So yesterday I made up a pattern for some very quick-knit Mardi Gras socks, and you're welcome to the pattern if you'd like to knit some, too. Mind that the camera didn't catch the "true" coloring of the yarns--in real life they're more purple, gold and green than they look in the pictures. They knit up very quickly--- both socks could probably be knit in a day. They are a woman's medium, but the pattern could be adapted for a larger foot/ankle by simply increasing the numbers by a multiple of 8. The graphs are at the end.

These are pretty thick socks made with worsted weight yarn, and so they're really warm. I will use them as boot socks or around-the-house socks to keep my perennially cold feet warm!

Bo's Mardi Gras Socks

(Note: the colors in the pattern chart are for the above sock--- but you can switch the colors around any way you like, as I did on the sock to the left at the top of the page.)

Size: medium woman's (approx 9" around sock)

Gauge: (in stockinette, fair-isle stitching) 4.5 sts to 1 inch

Materials: Thick-ish worsted weight yarn in purple, gold, and green; 4 size 5 dpns (or size to get gauge); stitch holder; yarn needle;

With purple, cast on 36 st, (12-12-12)

Do k2, p2 ribbing for 14 rounds

Next round: *(K 9, M1), repeat from * to end, (40 sts.)

Then knit chart 1 with purple and gold (see diagram).

Then knit chart 2, first with green and gold, then switching to purple and gold at the divider line (see diagram).

Then knit chart 3 with green and gold (see diagram).

Then knit chart 4 with purple and gold (see diagram).

Then knit THREE rounds of chart 5 with green and gold. (Or, for a variation, you can turn the area upside down and do instead 3 rounds of chart 5 or 6, and then chart 4.)

To Divide for Heel:

Needle 1: Knit in pattern for the first ten stitches, place the next 20 (Instep) stitches on a holder, then place the last 10 stitches onto Needle 1 and these 20 stitches will be knitted back and forth as the heel flap.

Cut green and gold.

In purple:

rd 1: (WS) sl 1, p to end.

rd 2: (RS) *(sl 1, k 1), repeat from * to end.

Repeat the above rounds FOUR more times.

Repeat round 1.

Turn Heel:

rd 1- sl 1, k 10, ssk, k1, turn.

rd 2- sl 1, p 3, p 2 tog, p 1, turn.

rd 3-sl 1, k 4, ssk, k1, turn.

rd 4- sl 1, p 5, p 2 tog, p 1, turn.

rd 5sl 1, k 6, ssk, k1, turn.

rd 6- sl 1, p 7, p 2 tog, p 1, turn.

rd 7sl 1, k 8, ssk, k1.

rd 8- sl 1, p 9, p 2 tog, p 1.

rd 9- sl 1, k across. (12 sts)

Cut purple.

Gusset Pick-Up Section:

With green, take a needle (N 1) and pick up and knit 10 sts along first edge of heel flap, take a needle (N 2) and knit across 20 Instep stitches, take a needle (N 3) and pick up and knit 10 stitches along next edge of heel flap -- then knit the first 6 stitches of the heel flap, mark the beginning of the round with a marker, and place the next 6 stitches of the heel flap onto N 1. You'll have 16-20-16.

Gusset Decrease Rounds:

Rd 1: N1--k to last 3 sts, k2 tog, k1; N2--knit across; N3--k 1, ssk, k to end.

Rd 2: knit around.

Repeat the above two rounds FIVE MORE times. (40 sts, placed 10-20-10.)


Knit 2 more rounds plain with the green.

Cut green.

With purple and gold, knit chart 3 again, switching the purple for the green from the first time chart 3 was knitted. (see diagram.)

Cut purple and gold.

With green, knit plain to until 3 1/4 " away from the desired total foot length.

Cut green, knit FOUR rounds of chart 6 with purple and gold .

Cut gold.

Continuing with purple, begin Toe.

round 1: N1--knit to last 3 sts, k2 tog, k1; N2--k 1, ssk, k to last 3 sts, k 2 tog, k1; N3--k 1, ssk, k to end.

round 2: Knit plain.

Repeat above two rounds SIX MORE times.

Next round: N1--k 2 tog, k1; N2--k 1, ssk, k2 tog, k1; N3--K 1, ssk.

Then: knit the 2 sts on N3 onto N1.

You will then have two needles with four sts facing each other.

Graft using the kitchener method, or else do 3-needle bind off. (I did the 3-needle bind off.)

Weave in all ends.

Laissez les bon temps roulez, chers!


Monday, February 16, 2009

The Young And The Chestless

(.... serious-sounding organ music here...)

Will Blaine lose his job at Sprint?

Will the New Owner of Blaine and Bo's duplex raise their rent to an unholy amount?

Will Bo's snooty therapist, Fred, ever do something undignified... like accidentally fart out loud or something?

Will Bo ever knit some damn socks that match?

Will Bo go to her dentist appointment tomorrow?

* *

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?

Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?

Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains?

Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

("Color of the Wind", Stephen Schwartz)

* Onwards I knit....

I'm a little churlish lately---and the neighbors are now even more certain than ever before that I'm insane.

It all started when I locked myself out of the house yesterday.

It was when I went out to roll the trash bin from the garage to the curb for pick-up. I had gone outside in my stocking feet without a jacket, even though it was freezing cold outside. Upon returning to the house I found, to my horror, that I'd closed the front door tightly---and it was locked.

And Blaine wasn't home to unlock the door and let me in.

So I flipped out on the front porch for awhile, hopping up and down in the bitter cold, cursing the cosmos and panicking--- but I calmed down when I remembered that there is a little computer keypad on the garage door for just such occasions as these. The keypad allows one to punch in a numerical code which causes the garage door to open, allowing one to gain access to the house through an interior door.

Quickly, I scampered over to the garage sidewall where the keypad is mounted and happily punched in my log-in number while yelling loudly: "Open Sesame!"

Nothing happened.

And to my utter mortification, it dawned on me that I wasn't really sure of my secret code.... a fact confirmed when my second log-in attempt was met again by a non-opening garage door and the keypad's LED display screen flashing the impolite message:

"Invalid Code. Please Try Again."

And so I began punching out every number sequence I could think of....

Oh, how I punched and punched on that stupid thing... madly jabbing out numbers on the keypad till my cold fingers became increasingly stiff, blue, and numb--- while loudly hollering increasingly creative and ugly curse words in ever-growing frustration as that damn garage door refused to open, time after time again.

The colder I got, the harder I pushed my brain to remember that code---vainly going over and over in my mind which numbers I would have given to Blaine on the day he had programmed the stupid thing.

I knew that I would have picked easy-to-remember numbers. Was it the numbers of my birthday? Was it Blaine's birthday? Was it our street address? Lotto numbers we always use? The last four digits of my social security number?

My bra size?

The cat's birthday???

DADGUMMIT! None of the numbers I tried worked! And the stupid LED display kept mocking me with its refusal of entry---over and over---till I wanted to rip the dratted thing completely off the garage's wall. I was at its mercy!!

Finally, as I stood there shivering and babbling incoherently to myself in the bitter cold, I couldn't help myself any longer...

"Open the Pod Bay doors, HAL!" I screamed at the top of my lungs.

And I punched out yet another numerical sequence onto the keypad, my fingers dancing over the keypad with a maniacal flourish....

And, like magic, the garage finally door opened --- and then I bellowed with glee "TAH-DAH!"

And my subsequent indignant stomping into the garage would have been a very triumphant ending to this whole sorry story.... if only I hadn't noticed that our next door neighbor, a Russian language professor, was standing stock-still in his own driveway, silently watching my pathetic meltdown with a horrified look on his face....

Oh fooey on him, I thought to myself. Like he's never locked himself out of the house and been the victim of a cruel computer keypad before...

And ... uh... no, I didn't vengefully disconnect the stupid garage door computer's circuits, although it certainly deserved such....

Onwards I knit...

I definitely do take out my frustrations on my knitting. I guess Fred is correct when he says that I use my knitting as a "coping skill". And ever since Fred made the infamous statement of his belief that my penchant for knitting wildly colored, non-matching, gaudy items is a mental "symptom", I now feel even more entitled than ever to pursue my "art" no matter what anybody else thinks.

Hey, I can't help myself--right?

How I love knitting crazy, brightly colored things--- it is so liberating! My motto is: Show me two colors which don't match---and I'll knit them right next to each other. And if Blaine ever shakes his head at my unorthodox color choices, I simply write him off by blithely declaring: "Leave me alone--- Fred says it's okay because I'm crazy."

I am working steadily on the Pinwheel Sweater, and I'm mixing colors with wanton abandon. I've also added some bobbles into a few rounds, and I started an aran-colored round with some fat cables spreading from the center outwards.

The bobbles and cables help break up the monotony of going endlessly around the circle over and over---and they're just plain fun to knit. I've got the sleeve hole stitches on a holder, and the rounds are getting longer and longer.......

And I finally steeked the front buttonband and sleeves on the Joker's Wild Cardigan---and then I knitted the facings. I sewed the facings down over the raw steeked edges and gently blocked them a little to make them lay flat. Then I picked up and knitted some colorful non-matching fair-isle button panels, onto which I will later crochet a picot edging with button loops. I'm hoping I've sized this thing correctly so that it's slightly oversized, as is my preference for cardigans.

Now I gotta get busy on the sleeves....

And then I finally finished my pet project, the "Un-Matching Checkerdy Smock-Sox". I knitted these socks smocked so that they would be stretchy and cushiony (is 'cushiony' a word?)--- and these socks are thick, so they can be worn either as boot socks or house socks. Warmth is needed around here because it is DANG cold in Kansas right now.

In fact, it's so cold outside that you could freeze an egg on the sidewalk...

Onwards I knit...

The landlord must have finalized the deal for selling our duplex because the New Owner invited Blaine out "for drinks" tonight....

Get that---he invited Blaine.

Not me


To cut to the chase---I know that, of course, the New Owner wants to make money on his investment. He plans to live in the other side of the duplex while collecting rent from this half.

And on the matter of not including me in the drinks invitation tonight.... hmmm again.... I wonder if perchance the New Owner is one of those canny guys who knows that it might be a wise move to separate a man from his woman when it comes to a dickering about the price of something?


Which causes me to wonder if mayhaps the New Owner has sized me up and has come to the conclusion that I might be a formidable foe in a bargaining session?

Because it's true. I would most definitely be a formidable bargaining foe if given the chance....

But every time we talk about it, Blaine strongly reminds me that of course the New Owner will raise the price of rent here because the rent hasn't been changed here in 14 years--- an unheard of thing around this neighborhood--- which means that Blaine is paying a ridiculously low rent for this spacious two-story duplex, which is situated in a fairly pricey area of Johnson County, Kansas-- an area known for high rents and expensive real estate.

But I just as quickly remind Blaine right back that if the New Owner were to raise the rent to an uncomfortably high level---let's say, to a price which would "hurt"-- then I would think that it would behoove Blaine to politely and prudently "hint" at what I think would be a reasonable counter-offer request after 14 years---that the carpet be replaced.

I mean, after all, the carpet is over fourteen years old--- and it's dingy, worn, and stained in many places throughout the house. And it was cheap carpet to begin with, sitting on a layer of useless, paper-thin padding.

But then Blaine countered this idea by declaring worriedly that "we are NOT in a bargaining position"--- because he might lose his job at Sprint and we dread the cost of furniture movers should we be required to move elsewhere.

But then I counter-countered his paranoia by telling him that I think we're probably in more of a bargaining position than he thinks. Because I think the New Owner would have to spend a hell of a lot more money than for just new carpet if he had to attract completely new, notoriously picky Overland Park renters--- because then he'd also have to replace the refrigerator (the one here is ours), probably need to replace old kitchen appliances, paint the entire place (the paint job, too, is over 14 years old), and fix multiple plumbing leaks on various sinks, water fixtures, and around tub seals.

Another positive thing about having Blaine and me as renters is that Blaine has always done all the repairs around here himself. (Blaine is very handy.) And Blaine only charges for the parts---never the labor involved, unlike contractors who charge hefty per-hour wages.

Thus -- I think it would be infinitely cheaper to keep Blaine and me happy here than dress this place up for prospective new renters---am I right or am I right?

But Blaine has a soft, non-confrontational heart. And he's the one going out "for drinks" with the New Owner tonight--- not me. So we shall see what transpires.

Onwards I knit....

You know, I was raised to be a formidable bargainer. It's one of the few things I'm good at.

My mother always loved shopping for beautiful antiques or good deals at second-hand shops, and she is a skilled bargainer. And she taught my sister and me well. I can haggle over a price swiftly and ruthlessly in any situation where I think it might serve my pocketbook.

And I don't limit myself to bargaining at antique stores or second-hand shops. I once walked into a Hobby Lobby near here and successfully bargained to pay only one fourth the asking price for a beautiful cedar chest, simply because I had noticed an unnoticeable crack on the inside.

But my sister is the best bargainer. She once argued with a wizened old Portuguese pottery vendor over the price of some little clay teacups---and she finally got him to bring the price of a prettily painted, thimble-sized, demi tass teacup down to a single penny. But, amazingly, she continued to bargain with the astonished man! He finally sighed and handed the cunning little thing to her, remarking sardonically: "Here--take the damn thing for free."

And she actually took the dang thing!

Where was I?

Oh yes, I'm feeling churlish and knitting onwards...

Maybe I'm churlish because I have to go to the dentist tomorrow.

Yes....I'm really going to go.


Maybe I'll wear my lucky Checkerdy Smock Sox...and take my lucky My Little Pony figurine to place on the dental instrument table for courage...


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Waiting For Rain....

People, this hurt I feel inside,

words could never explain...

I just wish it would rain,

(Oh, how I wish that it would rain...)
("I Wish It Would Rain", The Temptations)


It rained once, but the weather forecast says it will rain again...

And since I am one of those odd people who prefer bad weather to good, I sincerely hope the rain and thunder get here soon--- because I definitely need some cheering up.

Because it's official -- we're worried.

The short story is that Blaine works for Sprint. Yes, the same Sprint who recently announced that they are going to lay off 8,000 employees....

Blaine has worked for Sprint for about 11 years, and he was already layed off once a few years ago. Then he was hired back as a contractor---and then he was re-hired back full time. And since then he has always survived separate rounds of personnel lay-offs.

But he doesn't think he'll survive this latest round of lay-offs. And so... we are on a very strict budget to try and cut expenses as much as we can --- to prepare for the worst.

For Blaine, I try to buoy his spirits up by being positive and cheerful--- while also keeping a pleasant house so that he can relax from his stress when he gets home, even though watching the evening news on the television is an exercise in depression (what with the state of the country's current economy, ya know? And we know that we are not the only ones in this precarious financial boat---there are thousands--- millions--- of others....)

I always try to have a nice dinner waiting for him---so tonight we're having one of my specialties in comfort foods, Portuguese Chicken and Rice, a dish I loved as a child during the years I lived in Portugal.

Blaine has tons of other worries as well as his job--- his mother just had a mastectomy, his step-father has been told he needs more medical tests on his failing heart, and the owner of this duplex has sold the dang thing. And we don't know whether the new owner will raise our rent or not....


Although it says somewhere in the Bible that the Lord never gives you more burdens than you can bear, I have been known to engage in long and vigorous arguments with the Lord about our differences concerning what He thinks is "more than I can bear" and what I think is "more than I can bear"....

Um.... okay, I have even been known to... er.... shake my fist at the sky.... (just to make a point--- surely you can understand...)

Anyway, to save money I have been packing Blaine sack-lunches to carry with him to work in order to save the $5.00 or so it costs to eat lunch in the Sprint eatery. (He likes it when I include a couple of sugar cookies in a Baggie---and we re-use the Baggie, of course.)

But it's the waiting that's the worst.

Blaine says he figures the Sprint ax will fall --- and thus he'll know for sure --- in the next 3 or 4 weeks....

...the next 3 or 4 weeks.....

For my own spirits, I just keep on knitting. I started a Pinwheel Sweater to satisfy my need to combine wild color combo's and use up stash yarn. (Isn't that the neatest pattern?) (The Pinwheel Sweater pattern, I mean---not my particular version, as I know my color choices aren't everybody's cup of tea, heh!...)

And I remind myself often of Elizabeth Zimmermann's motto.....

"Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises."

Yes, that helps -- but it does bring a little sneak of a tear to my eye...

(Hmmmm... doesn't look like Little Baby is doing all that much worrying...)

(OH, EXCUUUSE ME, Little Baby! Didn't realize I so rudely interrupted your nice little dream of The Neverending Tuna Fountain....)


Anyhoo....and for anybody else who is going through problems like we are, I'm going to say it once again--

"Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises...."



Thursday, February 05, 2009

Fear & Cowardice in Kansas....

I can't stand to fly,
I'm not that naive,
I'm just out to find,
The better part of me...

("Superman", Five For Fighting)

Well I've done it again---and I feel very guilty about it.

I've cancelled my dentist appointment--- for the third dang time.

To say I have a "phobia" about the dentist is mild---it's more like a full-fledged terror. But I don't know why I bother cancelling the stupid appointment because they simply re-schedule me for another day. I'm only putting off the inevitable. I'm really stressed out about this issue--- especially since Blaine is sure to gripe his head off at me once he finds out I've cancelled the appointment yet again.

Blaine's not afraid to go to the dentist. That idgit actually likes to go--- regularly and eagerly--- and afterwards he skips home triumphantly clutching little sample bags containing the latest brand of dental floss, an ergonomically-designed toothbrush, and an embossed card on which his next appointment is written neatly in pretty handwriting.

Well, bully for him!!

Because I, on the other hand, will do almost anything to get out of going to the dentist. Just the word "dentist" fills me with dread. And I have become the queen of missed-appointment excuses. In fact, if giving excuses was an Olympic sport, I would stand alone on the winner's pedestal--- holding the Bronze, the Silver, and the Gold.

And I think it' so unfair that I have this personal weakness, because in many other ways I'm neither chicken-hearted nor wimpy at all---in fact, I think I'm pretty brave about some things.

For example, during the years I was married to Blaine, I worked as a road nurse here along the Kansas/Missouri state lines--- and my particular territory was the east side of the city, which is known locally as being heavy gang territory. Those were dangerous years; even the local police called the few road nurses who were willing to go into that area "foolhardy".

(Actually, some of them said we were "nuts", but I hate to present Kansas City's Finest in an unflattering light....)

The area is, indeed, very dangerous. In fact, I was once almost hit by gunfire there while standing on the front porch of a home while waving goodbye to a patient. Suddenly, a "drive-by" shooting occurred. The shooter missed his target--- and also narrowly missed my own head by a mere 5 inches.

To this day I remember that after the shots rang out from the double-barreled shotgun, I had frozen in my tracks---while gazing stupidly at the two grey smoke-rings that had emerged from the shotgun and then wafted lazily by my head.

One day while at home, I was startled to notice that the television show "Cops" was filming in my own road nurse territory---even in the same apartment complexes where many of my patients lived. But nonetheless, those years were very rewarding to me, and it never occurred to me or my fellow road nurses to be frightened of anything----except maybe a rise in gasoline prices.

(One time while working in east Kansas City, I noticed that a bedraggled, starving stray cat had deposited a litter of kittens in a bush. I knew it was doubtful that they'd survive. And so I couldn't help but rescue one---a tiny, white, flea-bitten kitten no more than three inches long---and I took the weak little thing home in my pocket. I wasn't sure she would live. But she is now a fat, healthy, spoiled-rotten fluff who goes by the name of Little Baby--- and spends the majority of her time waiting by her saucer for her tuna...)

(...or else attempting to steal poor Leonard's tuna...)

(Blaine rescued Leonard from an animal shelter, where he'd been deposited after being found injured and alone in some rubble after a tornado.)

Where was I?

Oh yes---cancelling my dang dentist appointment.

The following are actual excuses I've used when canceling my dentist appointments in the last two months:

-- We're moving. (It's not a lie---the landlord is trying to sell this duplex. And so we might have to move eventually.)

-- I have a sore throat. (This isn't a lie---I have seasonal allergies which sometimes cause me to have respiratory irritation.)

-- I have a family emergency. (This isn't a lie---I've always got some sort of "emergency" around here... like sending a perfectly good sock to the frog pond.)

The poor sock.

After it frustrated me for the umpteenth time, I ripped it unmercifully--- and then felt terrible. Because when I saw the pitiful thing disintegrate into a sad pool of yarn cur-lee-cues, I suddenly realized that watching it unravel reminded me of the same childhood heartbreak I felt when somebody read to me how Frosty The Snowman had melted in the middle of the street.

And so right then I sanctimoniously declared to Blaine that I'd never frog a sock again. I told him that henceforth I would simply cut the yarn and leave unfinished sock remnants on a shelf somewhere, to live out their lives with the rest of my stash. But then I changed my mind after Blaine sarcastically remarked: "Oh, you mean you're going to make a sock graveyard?"

The horror!

Sigh, I've also got UFO knitting to tend to. The neglected Joker's Wild Cardigan needs steeking badly---and the sleeves begun. I try to tell myself that configuring free-form fair-isle patterns while also shaping the sleeves won't really be all that difficult.....

I also frogged this poor thing, which had been destined to become a top-down raglan cardigan, but will now instead go sit in the UFO holding area, awaiting one of my next knitting whims....

Oh yes---back to the excuses I've used for cancelling my dentist appointment :

-- I'm having transportation difficulties. (It could happen---sometimes I hear Blaine's truck backfiring....)

-- I forgot to take my antibiotic. (Now this REALLY isn't a lie---because I usually lose my antibiotic bottle on a side table among pads of knitter's graph paper, skeins of scrap yarn, and my favorite knicknack, my lucky My-Little-Pony figurine.)

I guess since I'm doing "true confessions" here I might as well admit to you that I even discussed this whole dental issue with my shrink, Fred. Last Thursday I told Fred the whole story of how I'd been repeatedly cancelling my dental appointment.

And so we had discussed it.

Hey, why not discuss it with Fred? He thinks he's so smart---and it gives him something to do. Our appointments always consist of him repeatedly asking me "serious questions" while he then madly scribbles my answers (or God knows what) on a little notepad.

I mean, this guy acts like he's Sigmund Freud. Frankly, I think somebody should analyze HIM. Although I totally appreciate his services, it's like he's on some sort of psychiatric crusade. For instance, after almost every session he gives me written handouts describing his "diagnoses" for me to take home and "study".

He also makes me fill out a daily, numerical, "mood scale" paper--- at the top of which is typed in bold print: "If you are feeling higher than a 'plus 2' or lower than a 'minus 2', CALL IMMEDIATELY!"

Hell, if I called every time my stupid "mood" shifted outside the plus-or-minus-two scale, I might as well be connected to them by closed-circuit television and a walkie talkie....

Fred always has a Freudian solution for everything. He even analyzes my knitting, calling it a "coping skill". And it cracks me up no end that he even has a "theory" on why I prefer knitting (and wearing) "loud, brightly colored, non-matching, unorthodox garments".

(A theory which, interestingly enough, he developed soon after I finished knitting the "Molly Weasley's Amazing Technicolor Housecoat"--go figure...)

One time he asked me how I had "related" to my trauma patients during the years I worked in hospital emergency rooms. I had answered: "Do what? I have no idea--- I just did the best I could to calm their fears and diminish their physical pain while we treated their injuries."

But he persisted. "I mean---what particular method did you use when TALKING to them?"

And when I continued to deny having any particular talking "method", he revealed--- with a slightly self-satisfied smile--- that he uses his "therapeutic voice" on me.

Therapeutic voice??? What the hell?

"Therapeutic voice?" I squawked. "What the hell is that all about? Do you mean like the Bene Gesserit Voice used by Paul Atreides in the movie 'Dune'?"

(I knew that would irk him. Fred's very particular about what he watches in entertainment. Once I told him that I love old, fanciful movies like "Mary Poppins" and "Lost Horizon", and he snootily replied that he only watches "strictly educational channels" on the TV--- except not Animal Planet "because they're abusive to animals".)

Eventually Fred gave up bugging me about "relating" to patients and then declared that he was going to teach me a "relaxation technique" which I could use to help me decrease my nervousness about the dentist. He then instructed that once a day I should lie down, close my eyes, and relax--- and then visualize myself going to the dentist while "talking myself through" each step in the process.

He then demonstrated how he wanted me to do it, relaxing in his chair and chanting with his Voice:

"Bo, just say to yourself: 'I am now in the truck going to the dentist'..." he began slowly, "and then proceed to the next step, calmly telling yourself that you're now walking through the dentist's front door...."

"Okay," I murmured, while settling into my own chair, trying to be cooperative...

Fred continued...

"And then tell yourself that you're walking over to the dentist chair.....feeling safe....and then you're allowing the assistant to put the paper bib on you.....feeling safe....and then the helpful dentist approaches you with a smile on his face..."

And suddenly I couldn't help myself...

"Use the force, Luke!" I blurted, "Use the FORCE!!!"

Fred didn't laugh.

Fred never laughs at my jokes.


Okay, okay, eventually I did try Fred's "relaxation" exercise here at home. But I gave up because I simply can't do the damn thing right. I mean, I can lay down, relax, and try to "talk myself" through the process all I want--- but I found that there's simply no way to talk myself CALMLY through the part where ..

....the part where I rip that bib off my chest, vault out of the chair while knocking over the instrument table---and then shove past the hapless dental assistant...

... and then run screaming like a maniac out the door and down the street...


I have another appointment with Fred next Tuesday.


(Do you think the dentist would mind if I set my lucky My-Little-Pony figurine on the instrument table while he was working on me?)