Saturday, December 27, 2008

My New Year's Resolutions.....really.....

We twa hae run about the braes,

And pu'd the gowans fine,

But we've wander'd mony a weary fit

Sin auld lang syne.

("Auld Lang Syne", Robert Burns)

Folks, Christmas Day was a fabulous, blessed day--- yeah buddy!

As you know, Blaine and I attended his large family's Christmas Day dinner, and it was a wonderful, albeit raucous, good time. It was a beautiful white Christmas, the food was good, we all ate too much, the numerous teenagers were noisy (but fun), the various dogs and cats provided amusement, and we all exchanged fabulous gifts.

And, oh hallelujah.....the purple Regia Jacquard socks were a hit with Blaine's sister-in-law! Phew! I'm sincerely hoping that her very positive reception of them means that I'm on my way back to her good graces since she acted extremely friendly and gracious towards me from the first minute. She even text-messaged her mother about getting the socks from me. I think she is an extremely decent person to forgive me my past transgressions.

But now, alas, Christmas is over and I must get back to my normal routine, which means putting away all the holiday decorations, throwing out remaining leftover food, cleaning the house, and preparing for the New Year. I have tons of things to do.

One of the things I do each year at this time is to make a few New Year's resolutions. And it was in this mindset that I came to the conclusion that I am long overdue on addressing my negative attitudes toward my beloved Blaine's aggravating idiosyncrasies. Thus, I have decided to develop what I'm going to call Bo's New Attitude of Tolerance.

Tolerance of those habits of Blaine's that drive me absolutely insane.

Now, don't get me wrong. Blaine is a wonderful guy, really he is. In fact, he has many really great qualities that I should list here:

1. He does all our laundry, voluntarily and uncomplainingly. And he does it well. (He even folds most of the time.)

2. He cheerfully cleans bathtubs. (Which I hate to do.)

3. He makes wonderful loaves of homemade bread. (Even Italian bread, which takes two days.)

4. He endures watching things I watch on the television--- programs he considers boring like "The Wizard of Oz", "The Sound of Music", "Supernatural", the Crime Channel, and Bible stuff on the History Channel.

5. He can fix anything broken.

But most importantly, he makes me laugh.

Now, about the laughing thing. To me, someone who can make me laugh is gold. I adore people who can make me laugh. Hell, if you can make me laugh I will love you forever.

The problem is that Blaine has a most strange, boyish sense of humor---in fact, sometimes it's just downright dumb and dumber. In fact, many times I know I shouldn't laugh at his lame antics because it only encourages him in further sophomoric behavior. But Blaine knows my weakness for irreverent hilarity even when it comes at the cost of my dignity.

For example, one of his favorite, most dastardly things to do is to wait until we are in a grocery store, surrounded by dour, stern-faced, unsuspecting shoppers.....

And then he'll fart....LOUD and LONG... like a Louis Armstrong trumpet solo... and then exclaim in feigned shock: "BO! How rude!"

This horrifying scenario, while mortifying to most, never fails to cause me to dissolve into helpless peals of cackling laughter--- which then totally convinces any nearby shoppers that it was, indeed, me who was the guilty party.

Now, lest you think that I should do more to defend my innocence, please believe me when I tell you that I have tried. Truly I have. But I have found, to my unfortunate chagrin, that a loud, dueling debate of nasty "I did not!" and "you did, too!" declarations in the middle of the canned goods aisle does not do very much to improve the situation.

Basically, I'm danged if I do and danged if I don't, you know what I mean?

One time I became so exasperated at him during just such an adventure that (after I finished laughing) I involuntarily blurted out "Now dammit, Blaine-- how would you like it if I farted and then blamed it on YOU, huh?!"----which caused the whole congregation of nearby witnesses to stop dead in their tracks and pause expectantly....waiting for ME to summon further bodily noises, I'm sure----but don't worry, I didn't do it.

Where was I?

Oh yes, Blaine's good traits....

Oh hey, I started a new sweater. It's what I call "Joker's Wild" style where I use up leftover yarns and make random fair-isle patterns as I go, on a solid color background, the wilder the better. I don't worry about graph numbers, the "color wheel", or "centering" the patterns---I just put 'em in and use up stash yarn. It's going to be a cropped cardigan, knit in the round with cut steeks for the front and sleeves.

I'm also continuing my work on the (ho hum) "maybe shawl". This is a portable plain vanilla project for doctors' waiting rooms and the like. (In fact, I'm going to the dentist tomorrow and I'll take it with me.)

But for all his good traits, Blaine does some things that absolutely drive me nuts--- and I mean PLUMB NUTS. And my impatient frustration with those undesirable traits is what I am determined to overcome in 2009.

For instance, one of his rituals that gives me the urge to dangle myself by a hangman's noose from the living room ceiling fan is his endless fiddling with the clicker every single time we start a movie on the DVD player. He claims that he's trying "to get the best picture and color quality". But this perpetual fiddling drives me absolutely bonkers---AAARRGH!!

Because he'll sit there and take up the entire first twenty minutes of the dadgum movie as he zooms the picture in and out--- forwards and reverses it a hundred dang times--- changes the hue back and forth from different tones of reddish or greenish---messes with the pixels or whatnot---until I absolutely want to throw that stupid clicker out the gol-darn window!

(My mother actually did that once. She got so mad at my father's constant channel-surfing that she grabbed the clicker right out of his hand and threw it out their second-floor window. The next day my father simply purchased an additional clicker so that they could each have their own, which started The Great Clicker Battle of '98....oh, never mind.)

Anyway, that's a trait of Blaine's that drives me crazy. But there's worse.....

He constantly loses things.

Hardly a week passes in our household whereby he doesn't lose something which I think should never be lost---like his car keys, work ID, or wallet. But it isn't just his losing the things that bugs me so much----it's that he asks me "where I put" the lost item---like it was MY FAULT!

"Honey, where did you put my car keys?" he'll ask plaintively, always at the last minute, which usually causes us to arrive late for whatever engagement we're going to because he took twenty minutes to search high and low for his stupid keys.

I never lose my own keys because I always lay them down on the same table every time I come in the door--- which is what I think he should do. But nooooo, not him--- he always lays them down in random places like on the stove top, in the bathroom, on the piano, or wherever. He's even left them in the mailbox key lock halfway up the street before. And so he can never find them when he needs them, which results in him asking ME what I did with them----which results in me sniping back with such irritable diatribes such as: "I didn't do a dang thing with YOUR keys---why would I know where YOUR keys are?!"

Then one day I tried a new tactic. I decided to answer these inevitable questions in a different fashion.

"Honey, what did you do with my wallet?" he asked one day while dressing for work.

"I put it in the linen closet," I replied with a straight face.

"What the hell?" he muttered.

"Yeah, honey," I continued innocently. "It's in there under that tablecloth your Aunt Agatha crocheted---right next to the hand towels."

I had high hopes of shaming Blaine into curing the problem, but the subsequent dark scowls on his face as he stomped around looking for the wallet caused me to conclude that perhaps this ....uh... unorthodox method wasn't really the most optimal solution...


I continue to knit on the Molly Weasley's Amazing Technicolor Housecoat---and my apologies to the author of the pattern, Alison Hansel, for my totally changing up the pattern of the body. (And my apologies, also, for the poor quality of this snapshot, because this camera somehow turned the scarlet and blue yarn colors into a flaming neon, which they are not in real life.)

(Wait a sec....just let me adjust the color tone and hue on the camera menu.....oh hell, where's Blaine when I need him?...)

Anyway, it's really the crocheted, multi-colored ruffled sleeves that gives the garment its whimsy and fun, and I'm working like crazy on those right now.

Another thing about Blaine that causes me frequent consternation is his absolute fearlessness and disregard about Kansas weather.

As everybody knows, Kansas is smack dab in the middle of tornado country. And tornadoes are extremely fearsome events which cause a lot of destruction and terror in this part of the country. And so we Kansans take weather warnings very seriously --- because nobody in their right mind wants to be caught unprepared if their home is in danger of being smashed up or carried off its foundations by a vicious cyclone.

I once lived with my parents in a registered historical monument in Texas--- and I once witnessed a tornado completely uprooting a gigantic hundred-year old oak tree right next to it. And a previous tornado had carried off the building's second-floor cupola. So I'm understandably terrified of tornadoes.

But no weather-warning has ever caused idgity Blaine even one iota of concern.

One grey Sunday Blaine was on the back deck happily using his beloved "BBQ-Pro" barbecue to grill hamburgers while I sat in the living room watching a Chiefs football game. Gradually the weather worsened. It began to drizzle and I could hear some distant thunder approaching. But I wasn't too concerned until the skies suddenly darkened even more, the thunder came even closer, and the drizzle turned into a downpour.

Throughout my growing apprehension Blaine had ignored the weather and continued grilling his hamburgers. But then--- the rain turned to a battering hail. I saw some streaks of lightning and the sky turned an ominous yellow color.

And then sure enough, it happened....

The city's tornado sirens began blaring. And let me tell you, Kansas' famous tornado sirens sound exactly the same as those which would warn of an impending nuclear attack---very loud and frightening with a clear message: TAKE COVER!

When the sirens began I automatically jumped off my perch on the couch and ran for the stairs leading to the basement. As I scrambled, I heard local police cars begin careening around the neighborhood, adding their own sirens' cacophany to the din of the tornado sirens--- another signal to take immediate shelter. Simultaneously, I heard a television weather announcer interrupt the football game to give an emergency weather alert, strongly advising anybody within listening distance to take immediate cover in their basement (or bathroom if they didn't have a basement).

"Blaine!" I screamed maniacally as I snatched up a nearby cat. "It's a tornado!"

"What does the television say?" I heard him ask calmly while skillfully flipping burgers like flapjacks, stubbornly ignoring the fact that hailstones as large as pigeons' eggs had now begun raining down upon his head and precious BBQ-Pro's grill surface.

"He said to take cover!" I screamed in response, vainly trying to herd another hapless cat towards the basement stairs while the cat in my hand performed mad gymnastic contortions in an attempt to free itself from my strangling grasp.

"I didn't mean the weather man," he retorted as he twirled his metal spatula like a cowboy's six-shooter. "I meant the football game--- did the Chiefs score?"

But despite his lack of concern for life & limb in a tornado, Blaine is very fastidious and fretful in other areas of his life. For instance, he is extremely particular about the way he does laundry.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm extremely grateful that Blaine does the tiresome chore of our laundry. But the manner in which he does it causes him to be involved in the task literally around the clock----because his method is extremely fussy and involved, with what I think are ridiculously unnecessary steps.

I mean, for God's sakes, Blaine has a brand new Frigidaire washing machine---a highly computerized, super capacity, heavy duty, front-loading, tumbler-cycle monstrosity which is so dang complicated that it takes a person a full fifteen minutes to "program" it for just one damn load of wash. I hate the dang machine and avoid using it as much as possible.

For gosh sakes, its LED display menu actually forces you to push five different push-keys to designate which type of "soil" you're washing and how many "extra" rinse cycles you need (as if you need more than one...)

What ever happened to simply turning a big knob and then pulling it out?

Anyway, Blaine loves the thing. In fact, he handles it with great reverence--- like it's some kind of laundry shrine to be worshipped at daily. But do you think that having this behemoth would make his laundry duties any easier? NO WAY! It has only made his job more difficult!

He continually opines about the fact that, in his opinion, the machine "doesn't quite rinse well enough". No matter how squeaky clean it washes the clothes, he's absolutely POSITIVE that his eagle eye can detect a microscopic, miniscule amount of soap residue in the freshly laundered items.

And so..... in addition to programming the machine to perform umpteen extra rinse cycles---- he actually ADDS AN EXTRA BUCKET OF HOT WATER to the last rinse cycle!!

He really does.

Each time he does laundry he actually trudges to the kitchen sink to fill a large plastic bucket with hot water--- and then totes it downstairs to the laundry rooom whereby he then interrupts the last (of many) rinse cycles to pour in the extra hot water.

Sigh, again.

I could go on and on.

And I really don't mean to be merciless here, but.....then there was the morning when he got irritated with an icy cold draft which was coming down the chimney despite his having closed the flue. It was right after I'd purchased new living room drapes at a JC Penney's sale, which I thought looked rather fetching with our new carpet and matching throw pillows.

I had arisen after Blaine had already gotten up. I staggered sleepily down the stairs, looking forward to a nice quiet morning cup of freshly brewed coffee in our tastefully decorated living room.... but I almost fainted onto the floor in shocked disbelief when I beheld the decor-ruining thing he had done to remedy the cold draft.

He'd used shiny grey metallic electrical tape to cover the entire opening of the fireplace with old newspapers.

"I fixed that draft problem but GOOD," he announced with satisfaction.

"Oh. My. God." was the only weak response I could manage...

Another quirk of Blaine's is that he is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am a complete "nervous Nelly". Basically, I'm a light sleeper and frequently hear "bumps in the night". But Blaine refuses to believe that I've ever heard anything of significance---he always thinks I'm imagining things. If I ever poke him in the middle of the night to complain that I've "heard something strange", he gets totally irritated and snaps something like: "Oh for God's sakes, Bo, it's nothing. Probably just the dog next door."

One dark night I heard a weird noise that sounded like metal grinding and whirling. I listened to it nervously for a few minutes and thought seriously about awakening Blaine. But I was tired of getting scolded about this issue so I turned over and went back to sleep, congratulating myself on my fearlessness and self control.

The next morning I discovered that my truck's brand new car stereo had been stolen by clever thieves who had power-drilled right through the passenger door's key lock.

Sigh yet again.

Okay.... and finally.... here's the last "negative" personality trait of Blaine's for which I'm determined to improve my "tolerance". And it is his absolute, unwavering, blunt honesty.

I know, I know---you'd think there could be no criticism for a trait like honesty. And I really appreciate his honesty--- trust me, I really do. But nevertheless, I need to add this last little bit onto the list of resolutions---- in fact, I'll start writing it right now... that I need to remember this very important thing...

that no matter how much I'm tempted otherwise...

no matter how much I'm dying to know ....

no matter WHAT mitigating circumstances there might be or where I'm going...

...that I will NEVER AGAIN ask Blaine whether or not a particular new pair of jeans makes me look fat. *

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve at Bo and Blaine's...

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,

Just like the ones I used to know.....
("I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas")


Okay, so I made my annual wish on the Christmas tree. I can't tell you what I wished for or it won't come true, but I'll give you a hint----it comes on skeins or hanks and you knit with it. Did you make your Christmas tree wish yet?

Mostly what I'm doing today is hanging out at the house knitting, cooking, and watching Christmas stuff on the television. If you haven't seen the movie "Ernest Saves Christmas" you are really missing out. (I mean it---that dang movie is just plain ole heartwarming.) (You think I'm joking but I'm not---I watch it every year.)

And, of course, I'm waiting for Santa---know what I mean?......

While I wait for Santa I'm knitting. I'm experimenting with some multi-colored fingering yarn in my attempt to learn triangular shawl construction. I'm doing it in stockinette stitch and throwing in a row of eyelets every 20 rows. If I manage to knit this thing up to shawl-size without having a giant yarn-over disaster, I'll try to put a simple lace border on it and call it a shawl.

And I'm still knitting red pieces of what will ultimately be my "Molly Weasley's Amazing Technicolor Housecoat" from "Charmed Knits". I decided to put bobbles and cables in it. I put some stripes on the back. (No, I didn't put stripes in the front---that would be the "normal" thing to do.) (Wait till you see the sleeves....)

I'm anxiously awaiting Blaine's promised "great Christmas Eve dinner". He's going to make lobster tails. He bought them while he was out yesterday Christmas shopping with his brother-in-law, Emmie. He brought them home in a big bag of ice, dripping ice and lobster juice all over the place. And I haven't eaten all day in order to save my appetite--- because I swear those lobster tails are each as big as one of our cats....

So anyway.... now dash away, dash away, Donner and Blitzen...(and all the rest of the reindeer).... and Merry Christmas again----

And don't forget to make your Christmas tree wish!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

And so I'm offering this simple phrase,

To kids from one to ninety-two,

Although its been said many times, many ways,

Merry Christmas... to you!

("The Christmas Song")


Now THAT'S the kind of Christmas tree I like to see, heh! (And I'm so bad that I'm hoping to get even more yarn by the time the holiday is all over....)

It's freezing cold here in Kansas. And as my raggedy store-bought house socks continue to disintegrate, I've been trying to knit some replacement "house boots" for myself. But I've lagged behind since I've mostly been trying to finish up my Christmas-gift-knitting. So far I've only got 3/4 of one finished so far.

I did finally finish the purple Regia Jacquard socks for the sister-in-law (that sister-in-law I once wronged)---and they blocked out nicely. Lord, I hope she likes them and that it helps me get back into her good graces...

In the family's annual Christmas gift name-drawing, I drew another sister-in-law's name. And so I asked her hubby what she wanted for Christmas and he said she needs a scarf for when they go to New York for New Year's Eve--- since they plan on going downtown to the big celebration and the weather is going to be freezing cold. So I hurried up and knitted her a scarf but I really think it turned out pretty dull and plain-looking. Oh well, too late to re-knit. So I bought her some Bass Pro Shops thermal gloves and a knitted watch cap to go with the scarf. She won't be glamorous but at least she'll be warm--- I hope.

Blaine and I are getting ready for the big family holiday dinner, and I'm really looking forward to it. My dinner-contribution "assignment" is to make the same things I always get assigned to make--- my green-bean casserole and southern style banana pudding. I'm going to give you my recipes here, in case you'd like to try them. I do them the way my ancestors have always done them and they're usually well liked--maybe because I use the "secret" inredients? (The ingredients may not be so secret, but my family swears they "add" magic to these age-old recipes....)

Bo's green bean casserole:

2 cans of Del Monte french cut green beans

1 can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup

1 big can of French's french fried onions

Secret Ingredient: 2 (or more) tsps black pepper

Combine all the ingredients together in a glass casserole dish except a small amount of the french fried onions to put on later as a topping. Don't forget the pepper---and be liberal with it. There's something about the pepper that totally brings out the flavor---I've made it without and there was definitely something "missing". When you're ready to have the casserole put it in a 350 oven for half an hour, then sprinkle with the remaining french fried onions.

Bo's southern style banana pudding:

2 (large) packages of Jello-O brand "Cook & Serve" vanilla pudding

6 cups half & half (or 4 if you use the small packages of pudding)

Nilla brand vanilla wafers (and crush some of them into crumbs for topping)


Secret Ingredient: 1/4 plus 1/8 tsp of almond extract

Layer the bottom of a big round bowl with sliced bananas and then some vanilla wafers---make sure the wafers are the top layer. Cook the pudding, add the almond extract, then pour some of the boiling hot pudding over this first layer of stuff---make sure it's still boiling hot when you pour it over. (The boiling hot pudding softens the wafers, making them "cake like"---so that's why they have to be on top of the bananas.) Then put another layer of sliced bananas and then wafers--- and pour more pudding over that layer. Make as many layers as you like. Top by sprinkling with crushed vanilla wafer crumbs. Put into the refrigerator overnight because it tastes better the next day.

There you go---that's how I do it. The banana pudding is fattening, but it's not made very often so hey, live a little, right?

Anyhoo, I gotta go and continue our holiday preparations, but I'd like to say, from all of us--- myself, Blaine, Leonard-the-cat, and Little Baby-the-cat (who is still waiting on top of her dish for turkey)---that we'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

And also: happy knitting and see ya after the big family Christmas dinner!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Was Raggedy When Raggedy Wasn't Cool...



Man, our neighborhood is totally buried under snow---and somehow the city forgot to plow our street. And the next-door neighbors and our landlord are the only people who shoveled driveways. But I don't blame the ones who didn't.

Bless his heart, our landlord shoveled our driveway when he shoveled his side (he lives in the other side of our duplex)---because I certainly couldn't do it. I tried yesterday but gave up after only a few feet---it's backbreaking! I had to take two Motrin after I threw the snow-shovel across the porch in aggravation and came back inside...defeated.

Anyway, it's cold---which means my feet are colder than they usually are. And my current house socks are plumb wore out---shamefully so. And I confess.... they are not my own hand-knitted socks. They're cheap Wally-World socks I bought awhile ago when I wasn't in a sock-knitting mood. And I have finally wore them out beyond any repairability. Blaine chided me last night, asking rudely why in the world somebody who knits socks all the time would wear store-bought socks, especialy ones with ugly holes in the heels. I sassily replied that I could wear them holey because, as usual, I had another pair of socks on underneath them, thank you very much.

(Plus the fact that I'm not one to worry about my frequently-raggedy appearance, as I've mentioned before.....)

(Sometimes, especially when I wear my hair in braids, that idgity Blaine sarcastically calls me Pippi Longstocking. He thinks calling me that is an insult regarding my habit of wearing crazy, non-matching, "raggedy" style clothing. But what he doesn't realize is that I have always admired the way she dresses.)

Anyway, so (duly chided) I finally cast on to knit myself some of my own house socks. I've got the time---I'm almost done with my Christmas knitting since all I've got left to do is knit the toes onto the purple Regia socks.

I'm knitting while cooking up a pot of leftover turkey soup. I basically stuck the turkey in the pot and am going to boil it up, de-bone the meat, and then toss the meat back in with some celery, carrots, sage, noodles, and whatever else in the frig I can throw in that Blaine won't realize is "leftovers". (He only grudgingly agreed to me using the leftover turkey for dinner tonight, but only because I would throw a fit over wasting perfectly good, expensive turkey.)

(Blaine absolutely hates leftovers. I once pureed some leftover green beans and included them in the meatloaf---and he NEVER KNEW IT, HAH!)

(He'd DIE if he knew that, so don't tell him.)

And I'm making the soup in my favorite old pot that only has one handle. I have no idea when the other handle broke off. (See? Even my cookware is raggedy!!)

(I have decent cookware, I swear. But I just love this good ole cooking pot---I've had it forever and it just feels....well, comfortable....)

It makes the house smell turkey-soup-ish, which I like on a cold day. *

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hey Birds! "South" is THE OTHER Way!


Gollee Moses---it's snowing like crazy outside!!!!!

And what's with all those birds swarming around the bushes??? Are they looking for the way south to escape this snow?

I'm jazzed this morning because Blaine's mother sent me a Christmas card with some money in it---and when I called her to say thank you I told her I was going to spend it at the yarn store, heh! (I really am.) I'm already planning what knitting to take with me to New York when I go.

Poor Blaine cussed his way to the curb when he took the trash out this morning because he had spilled coffee grounds in the kitchen. But I'm glad he made the coffee because I'm going to sit here and drink it all day while I knit and watch the snow.

I've got to finish that other "go-to-the-hospital-bedboot"..... *

Monday, December 15, 2008

All I Want For Christmas Is Four More Hands...

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the bells will start,
And the thing that will make them ring
is the carol that you sing
right within your heart....
("It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas", Perry Como)

Oh geez---it's getting closer and closer to Christmas and I'm definitely running out of knitting time. Blaine and I are going to try and get a box mailed to his parents in New York by the Wednesday Christmas shipping deadline---but it's going to be tight. I

It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't added a couple more knitting items to my ever-burdgeoning knitted Christmas gift checklist....

Like some "Go-To-The-Hospital-Bed-Boots" for Mary, Blaine's mother. Mary is going to have surgery on January 6 and she wants the "bed-boots" to keep her feetsies warm in the hospital---and she wants them in colors to match her new robe.

Okay, so I made Blaine take me to the store--- to fight the Christmas sale-shopping crowds, yikes!---in order to get some yarn for the bedboots. And I have since been knitting as fast as my fingers can go.

I knitted the first one yesterday. I made them in soft, worsted yarn---but I did them on small needles for a tight gauge so they'll be warm. I was knitting so fast that my needles made a couple of wrong turns at Albequerque, but I don't have any time for frogging---Mary will never notice anyway (hopefully).

Now I've got to knit the second one----hopefully I can get it done quickly so that I can get these socks out in the mail. I am going to New York to help Mary after her surgery but I won't get there till after she returns home from the hospital after the surgery---thus the need to get these in the mail now so that she can have them when she enters the hospital.

Hey, I'm going to take the Amtrak train to New York in January, yeehah!!!

Anyway, I also took on yet another last-minute knitted project, a long blue scarf, for one of Blaine's sisters. I've got the scarf finished but now I am pondering what to put on the ends---fringe or a big tassle?

And I've still got to wash and block Blaine's step-father's socks, and then I've got to finish the purple Regia socks (on those dratted size O needles) for that "Make Peace" gift for the other sister-in-law (the one I wronged a few years ago).

So far they're turning out okay---no wrong needle turns at Albequerque--- but give me time.....

The weather is gray and bitterly cold---powdery snow blows every now and then. It's about 14 degrees out there and I feel a cold draft coming out of the fireplace even though the flue is closed---and that REALLY COLD draft aims right where I sit and knit.

My toes are icy and so I put on extra socks---and I'm carrying my coffee cup around with both hands so that I can warm myself on it. P

Poor idgity Blaine forgot his cell phone today, so I know he's irked. He must have been running late because I saw the evidence of a hurried exit---his shaving cream can was knocked askew on the sink, his commode was running because he forgot to "jiggle" the handle, and his pajamas were flung onto the center of the bedroom floor.

(Okay, so Blaine probably wouldn't appreciate me talking publically about such personal issues as his bathroom commode, but it's just that he's usually extremely religious about jiggling that dang faulty handle so that it doesn't run all day long and cause our water bill to skyrocket....)

When I saw the forlorn phone still sitting there on its charger this morning I immediately called him to inform him that he had forgotten it---and then I became confused when the cell phone on the floor started ringing. I had called the darn cell phone.....DUH! So I regained my senses and called his desk phone to leave a message---then realized that he probably didn't need me to call his desk phone to let him know he'd forgotten his cell.....okay I was just trying to be helpful, ya know? And another idgit, Little Baby, is---YES, she is--- still waiting at her saucer for turkey. Lord, that cat is persistent. So I finally relented and decided to oblige the poor little thing by roasting a nice turkey breast for dinner tonight. So now I've got to interrupt my knitting time to thaw the dang thing. (Little Baby is lucky the turkey breasts were on sale at the grocery store.)

So anyway, I gotta go for now----so I can keep knitting like a fiend......

(Blaine just called on the land-line telephone, lamenting the fact that he'd forgotten his cell phone. Like a smart-aleck, I replied: "Did your brain take a wrong turn at Albequerque?")

(I just love saying that.....)

(I wonder if I have time to knit another scarf for Blaine's step-father?......)


Thursday, December 11, 2008


Last night there was a beautiful sunset over our little cul-de-sac. Thought I'd grab a pic of it for you.
I noticed it through the living room window as I was knitting along---I finished the socks for my ex's step-father. I really hope they fit---and that the mistakes in the fair-isle patterning on one of them don't show very much, heh. What a sloppy knitter I am!
Although (in my humble opinion) no other sunsets in the country can really compare with Texas' spectacular ranch-country sunsets, Kansas does occasionally oblige me, usually when I am feeling my most melancholy---as if God is feeling benevolent and has decided to award me a beautiful little "present" to help me hang on. (He does that sometimes....)
It's just that I am trying to get up the nerve to tell you the story of Odelia, my nanny who I talked about in my last post. It has been weighing on my mind---actually, it has haunted me for my entire life. I have spent untold hours trying to find her but I have never been successful.
To this day I have no idea what happened to her after my family left Portugal those many years ago....

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I'm Knitting As Fast As I Can.....

The snow's comin' down,
I'm watchin' it fall,
("Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)", P. Spector & E. Greenwich) *
Look! It's snowing like heck outside! (I know, the camera can't really catch a good enough pic, but you can kind of see it blowing out there...)
I'm waiting for Blaine to come home and take me to my regular appointment with the psychiatrist. (Yes, I see a psychiatrist---you didn't think I was crazy enough to go through life without SOME supervision of my nuttiness, did you?)
(That poor doctor, bless his heart---he never knows whether I'm telling him my insane thoughts in all seriousness or if I'm just pulling his leg---which I do sometimes to amuse myself, heh!)
("Why, you know, sir....I thought my knitting yarn was talking to me the other day. It was the Regia---and it was saying 'knit me first!'")
(Incidentally, for some reason the good doctor told me not to admit on my blog that I see him---he said "They don't need to know that---nor do they need to know that you think your yarn is talking to you...." )
Anyway, my regular ride to the doctor cancelled because of the snow, and so Blaine's going to take me instead. And I'm knitting while I wait. I love to knit while it's snowing outside. Sit me down with a good movie, a good cup of coffee, and the curtains thrown open so I can see the snow---and I'm good for the day. But all I've done all week is argue with my irksome knitting yarn and double-pointed knitting needles, desperately attempting to make some progress on my intended Christmas gifts while the Christmas countdown keeps ticking closer and closer to its deadline.....
The problem is that I am an extremely "sloppy" and haphazard knitter, according to some people, and so I tend to run into problems. But I can't help it---I have always been a rebel. The things I knit are usually somewhat quirky--and not always "perfect"--- but that's just the way I knit. I think I'm like Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter movies---I just love the things she knits.
Being a rebel can be a good thing sometimes, freeing me up to be myself. For instance, it means that I am not bound by fashion rules (see my post on the disastrous trip to Bass Pro Shops.) I can wear any bizarre thing I want and nobody says a word to me. They might whisper behind my back but I'm used to that.
Also, whenever I am caught talking to myself in public nobody thinks a thing about it. "You know how SHE is...." they say to each other. Because I always talk to myself in public. I even argue with myself in public. And I have no problem asking innocent passerby's for their opinion on my inner arguments---and they usually give it to me.
I once asked a passing shopper if she thought I should get some on-sale underwear briefs for my 2nd-to-last husband---they were in a bargain bin in a grocery store and I was hesitant to buy underwear in a grocery store versus a clothing store. "Go ahead," she replied. "It's 6 pairs for five bucks---a great deal. Wrap them in a nice box and he'll never know you bought them in a grocery store."
"My thoughts exactly," I commented as I tossed them into my cart along with some spaghetti sauce, a package of pasta, and a can of mushroom pieces. "I'll let him think I bought them at Dillards..."
Where was I?
Oh yes, it's snowing and I'm having trouble knitting some Christmas gifts.
I have unconventional knitting habits. I think part of it is because of the way I was taught to knit.
I was taught to knit by my beloved nanny. My parents worked for the US government and I was raised in foreign countries. And when I was about 11 years old we lived in Lisbon, Portugal, where I had a wonderful nanny named Odelia. (I saved her life one time---maybe I'll tell you that frightening story some day---and perhaps I'll tell you where my parents left her when we were transferred to another still haunts me....)
Anyway, Odelia was the one who taught me to crochet and knit.
I bless Odelia every day of my life for introducing me to a craft which has brought me untold joy, comfort, and relaxation.
Knitting and crocheting is one of the main ways I stay sober these days---it is my method of relaxing from my inborn constant anxiety. I've even knitted during AA meetings.
But Odelia taught me to knit and crochet in the European method, which is where girls are taught to shape and design their knitting (and crocheting) on their own, out of their heads, without the benefit of written directions. She taught me to memorize stitch patterns or make up my own stitch patterns---and then forge ahead, while incorporating and blending whatever knowledge I had learned from her into my own designs. And she taught me to "fit" the knitted garments to the intended individual as I went, tailoring and sizing as I progressed, while using my own intiative and minds eye.
Over the years I have expanded on this habit, knitting from those childhood memories of the skills I learned from Odelia and other European knitters---as well as continually gathering new knowledge and skills from knitting books, magazines, and the advice of other knitters. Odelia always knitted beautiful, wondrous things---but my own knitting creativity ended up going down a slightly different path....
My knitting is a hodgepodge of that childhood learning---and it is driven by my innate rebelliousness and constant desire to "experiment", especially with colors---which usually deviates wildly from what "normal" knitters do. My knitting does not always look "normal"---it frequently looks somewhat quirky. Oh well---I always maintain that the act of knitting, in itself, is still a pleasant and relaxing activity for me---especially when it's snowing outside--- whether or not whatever I'm knitting comes out "normal" or not, you know what I mean?
I'll never forget this wonderful German lady who owned a knitting supply store in Austin, Texas. I would go buy yarns and needles from her and she'd show me all the latest knitting magazines with their interesting new patterns and techniques----and then I'd oblige her by buying the patterns.... but then inform her that I wanted to substitute yarns, change colors, and rearrange the entire stitch patterning in some crazy idea that I "wanted to try".
Now this lady was known throughout the Austin knitting community for being extremely opinionated about what her customers bought and knitted with---in fact, some customers used to get really intimidated by her insistence that customers use whichever yarns SHE thought were appropriate---and she'd flip out and have a fit over my strange ideas, swearing up and down to me that to perform any substitutions for my own nutty preferences would be disastrous.
Sometimes she was right, but sometimes she was wrong. I'd knit things however I wanted to anyway--- and then take the finished items back to her in order to "prove" that my ideas had been sound. And I never used normal colors---I had always picked bizarre, psychedelic combinations which I nervously believed would cause her to have a cardiac arrest. But one time, to my astonishment, she looked at what I knitted and smiled, saying in her beautiful German accent: "You should haf been German---you are brave wiz zee colors!"
I get great ideas out of knitting books, magazines, and on the internet---I learn important fiber, technique, stitch patterns, and guaging information from them---but ultimately I cast on my stitches and barge forward, knitting madly along without the benefit of a written pattern, come what may....
Sometimes I have "successes"---and sometimes I have "disasters". Currently I'm knitting 3 pairs of socks for Christmas gifts. And my knitting score is 2--to--1 in favor of the successes.
Here's a success---some purple Regia Jacquards (using purple Opal for the contrast color) for a sister-in-law for whom I need a "make peace" gift (don't ask---it happened ten years ago when I was "under the influence"--- and since she has invited me to her house for the big family Christmas celebration while telling me her shoe-size, I figure she's finally ready to "forgive and forget"):
It's my first attempt at a short-row heel, using Lucy Neatby's percentage garter-stitch method, which confuses me as I knit back and forth (all that "slipping" and "wrapping"), but I think I've finally gotten the hang of it. And they're being knitted on size 0's, which makes the progress somewhat slow...
And then here's a disaster:
No, the disaster isn't the fact that they don't "match", the heel flap looks funny, and the base color is a somewhat weird neon-glowing mass of blues, rust and greens. (I frequently, and deliberately, make "non-matching fair-isle" socks in wild colors---I'm too impatient to follow a fair-isle chart and I like to use "easy" little patterns so that I can do them absent-mindedly while watching television.)
The disaster part is that they're slightly too loose---thus too big. Like an idiot, I waited to try them on my ex for a "fitting" when I had already knitted down to the foot. WHY DID I WAIT??? I'm too rebellious to frog them back and fix the sizing---I'd have to re-knit the whole dang things. They're too far along to frog, I say.
And so I'm going to finish them in my own foot-length, for myself. My feet are always cold and I usually wear multiple pairs of socks at once around the house. So I'll use these as the top pair. I like wearing baggy "house socks"---might as well use these.
So I cast on to make another pair for the guy---and this time I got the size correct. And I decided to make them "match" in their fair-isle-ish-ness. (Is "fair-isle-ish-ness" a word?) But, unfortunately, I knitted them while watching really exciting movies on television----and subsequently made some mistakes in the fair-isle patterning.
But nope---I'm not frogging them. (Told you I was rebellious.) (Oh well again....)
Lastly, here's a pic of the back of something I started for myself. It's one of those items that I saw in a knitting book and just HAD TO HAVE!!!! It's so ME!!!
When I saw the below picture while perusing the knitting books in "Borders" bookstore, I startled a nearby shopper by showing her the picture and loudly asking her: "Isn't this the COOLEST AND MOST FABULOUS THING YOU EVER SAW???"
The hapless lady didn't answer---she just politely nodded in confusion and stealthily inched away towards another shelf.
Fooey on her---anyway, it's the "Molly's Amazing Technicolor Housecoat" in the book "Charmed Knits, Projects for Fans of Harry Potter" by Alison Hansel. And again, I LOVE THIS THING!!!
I love it so much that I began knitting it, using red for the body (instead of pink, as the pattern directs----remember, I'm brave wiz zee colors....) and I have actually been trying to follow the pattern fairly close to what Ms. Hansel recommends, even though I had to change the numbers for my size as I'm smaller than the smallest size in the directions---and...well....I threw in some stripes that aren't in Ms. Hansel's original pattern..... and.... I....uh... added a seed stitch border on the bottom. But I'm sure Ms. Hansel won't mind. Here's a link to her wonderful blog.
Again, I love this pattern so much that I even watched the DVD "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" all over again just to see Molly Weasley wearing this sweater. When she appeared in it I "paused" the DVD during her scene and began shouting for Blaine: "Look! She's wearing the Amazing Technicolor Housecoat! Do ya see it? That's what I'm knitting!"
Poor Blaine was nonplussed. And I saw that look on his face which means he is thinking to himself: "You know how she is..."
It says in Ms. Hansel's book that this sweater "requires both a strong personality to wear and an advanced knowledge of crochet techniques to make". I think I have both (the knitting and crochet skills thanks to Odelia.) (And I really want this one to turn out okay and not be a disaster---so I'm buckling under and trying not to be rebellious as I knit.)
(I'll let you know about my progress--but for now I've put it aside as I've got to finish all these dang socks.)
(I always think of Odelia when I knit.....) *

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It's 11 O'Clock---Do You Know Where Your Cat Is??

Everybody wants to be a cat,
because a cat's the only cat
who knows where it's at.
("Everybody Wants to be a Cat", Disney Lyrics)
Blaine has really done it now.

He gave one of our cats some turkey on Thanksgiving. And now that damn cat is hooked.

Who understands cats?? I certainly don't. And yet I try in vain, day after day, to reason with these stubborn creatures.

Currently I'm having a problem with one of our cats, named "Little Baby" ----a cat so completely obstinate that I almost can't comprehend it. I warned Blaine not to give her "people food". Oh, how I warned him. I told him that giving her real food instead of cat food would "surely ruin her". But does Blaine ever listen to me? Nooooooooooo. So he did it anyway, giving Little Baby some nice juicy turkey meat on Thanksgiving, placing a big handful into her saucer while declaring generously that "cats should have Thanksgiving, too".
And he created a turkey-addicted monster.
Because, immediately, that idgit Little Baby promptly decided she adored turkey meat so enormously that she wanted some more RIGHT NOW. To my chagrin, it appears that she is craving it all the time, even to the point of rejecting her expensive brands of wet and dry cat food while insisting we give her turkey instead. In fact, ever since she tasted that stupid turkey she has been constantly meowing and meowing at us while pointing at her saucer whenever we go into the kitchen---telling us in cat language that she wants some more damn turkey.
But the simple fact of life is this: she simply CAN'T HAVE turkey every day, just like I told Blaine in the first place. And I most certainly haven't put anymore in her saucer since those fateful tidbits on Thanksgiving. But that fact has not deterred Little Baby one bit. And she has become so irate at not getting any more turkey that she has taken to persistently sitting by her saucer in defiance, around the clock, almost in an act of rebellion---as if to demonstrate that if we don't put turkey in there she will simply SIT THERE UNTIL WE DO.
You should see this idiot cat. Ever since that first morsel of turkey touched her delicate little cat lips she has insisted on sitting by that stupid saucer, hour by hour, day after day, morning--noon--night, hoping against hope that she can break our will and force us to put more turkey in that saucer.
Sometimes she sits so damn close to that saucer that she is almost LAYING IN IT.
I've even found her SLEEPING there, as if she doesn't want to leave for fear she'll miss the one time we put more turkey in there.
"Look what you did!" I exclaim to Blaine each time I walk into the kitchen and see that stupid cat sitting there. "I told you not to feed her turkey. Now she thinks she can force us to do her bidding. It's been 5 days since Thanksgiving and she still hasn't moved from that dish. What does she think this is? The 60's--- where you could plop yourself down on the ground in a 'sit-in' as a sign of protest? Why... I ought to handcuff her and hawl her off to cat jail for illegal loitering in a public place."
"Just explain to her that we won't have any more turkey until probably Christmas," Blaine suggests calmly, as if that would solve the problem. "Or take her to one of your AA meetings and have her introduce herself as a turkey-holic, heh!!!"
And then--- like an obliging fool --- I'll stand there and try to reason with Little Baby. But it does no good. I can explain things to her until I'm blue in the face and the cows come home, vainly explaining over and over that THERE IS NO MORE TURKEY---but she refuses to budge. In fact, SHE IS STILL SITTING THERE AS WE SPEAK.
In fact, it never does me any good to explain ANY DADGUM THING to Little Baby---or our other cat Leonard--- or any OTHER cat I've ever had, for that matter. They are too stubborn to listen to me. And I should know---I've raised a lot of cats.
Here are some of the observations I've made about these frustrating animals during my cat-raising history:
1. They are just plain RUDE. Have you ever tried reasoning with one? They don't even have the common decency to look you in the eyeballs while you're speaking to them---and sometimes they'll even pointedly turn their head away, as if you're BOTHERING them.
2. They are STUBBORN AS MULES. (See pictures of Little Baby sitting by the saucer, waiting earnestly till frigging doomsday for some more turkey to magically rain down from the heavens.)
3. They will NEVER, EVER play with any toy that is given to them for that purpose---nay, they will ONLY play with some object they are not supposed to have, like my knitting yarn, my house plants, or Blaine's cigarrette lighters (which they amuse themselves by shoving under the couch on purpose so that he can't find them.)
4. If you sacrifice a ball of yarn for them to play with, hoping against hope that this will divert their attention, causing them to leave your other yarn alone---it DOES NOT fool them one single bit. No, they will stop playing with it the very minute they realize they are "allowed" to have this ball of yarn--- and will then commence to playing with the forbidden objects once again.
5. They actually LOOK FOR WAYS to annoy the hell out of you. For example, they will sleep quietly all day long---but then the minute you want peace and quiet as you lay your head down to sleep at night, they will then begin noisily playing with the window blinds in order to disturb your sleep. And if you lock them out of the bedroom, they will LOUDLY PAW AT THE DOOR, over and over, no matter how much you yell at them to stop it--- until you think you're going mad.
6. Whenever you scold one they will gaze at you with a completely insolent expression on their face, almost like a sassy teenager remarking "WHATEVER!"
7. If they are messing with something they're not supposed to play with, like your best houseplant or a dried flower arrangement, you can holler "No!" a hundred times from your comfortable position on the couch----but they will not actually stop playing with it until you are FORCED TO GET UP from your comfortable position to come swat at them---and ONLY THEN will they stop what they're doing and run from you while staying just out of swat-reach. (Oh yes indeed, they knew EXACTLY how comfortable you were and that you didn't want to have to get up yet again....)
8. They think they should be the ones to run the world---and that I am the main obstacle to them achieving their ultimate goal of declaring a cat monarchy. Their plan is to eliminate me by driving me so insane that I am permanently committed to an asylum, whereby they can then live in bliss while being waited on hand and foot by Blaine. (Yes, I've even seen Blaine showing them TWO flavors of canned cat food, asking them "to pick" whichever is their fancy at the moment.)
9. And if you ever attempt to get them INSIDE something----like, say, a cat-carrier for a trip to the vet---they will NOT COME TO YOU. Even if you tempt them with an entire opened can of tuna fish, they will not come near you and you will exhaust yourself trying to catch them. Sweet words and honey-dripping talk from your smiling lips will not convince them one iota. (And gritting your teeth while angrily muttering something like "Come here you little asshole!" definitely doesn't work either, trust me.)
10. And if cats see you approaching their vicinity, they will immediately and deliberately move right into your direct PATHWAY so that you TRIP over them, nearly killing yourself.
11. They will figure out where you want to sit---and then they'll sit THERE. If you ask them to move they will regard you with wide-eyed horror, as if you had just asked them to eat crushed glass or something. (They have the nerve to act like it's YOU who is the rude one.)
12. And lastly, they are horribly SNEAKY. If they know that you are keeping a particular room's door closed in order that they not enter and mess things up in there (like your yarn stash), they will hang around in the distance quietly, looking innocent, until you open that door for some reason--- and then they'll suddenly streak between your legs into that room----and you will NEVER get them out.
Only once did I ever win a battle with a cat. It was a few years ago, when I was still legally married to Blaine. It was in this exact house. (And I may have told you this story before---if I did, forgive me.)
It was right after Halloween and I had come home from work early. But just before I entered the house I remembered my recent battle with the cats about the dining room table. Of all the places in the house that the cats drape their royal selves over, I draw the line at the dining room table----I believe that any furniture which is meant for food consumption should be free of cat hair and cat paw prints.
I allow them sit anywhere else but the dining room table, okay?
So on this day I wanted to see if they were following my dictates---or if they were being naughty, as my cats are frequently wont to do when they think I'm not around.
So I very quietly and surreptitiously turned the key in the front door's lock---and then, like an avenging cat-terrorist SWAT team, I BURST INTO THE LIVING ROOM BY SURPRISE.
And yes....just as I suspected----THERE SHE WAS. One of our cats was sitting her fat little self right on the dining room table, big as you please, content in the knowledge that I was supposed to be at work and therefore wouldn't witness this transgression.
But she didn't count on me coming home from work early in a surprise attack.
"Ah HAH!!!!" I screamed maniacally. "I CAUGHT YOU RED-PAWED you little butt-head! GET YOURSELF OFF THAT DANG TABLE RIGHT THIS MINUTE!"
But she deliberately hesitated, leveling an unconcerned, arrogant gaze towards me as if to say she would jolly well sit wherever the hell she liked--- "WHATEVER!" ----and SHE DIDN'T MOVE.
And then by pure reflex, blinded by righteous fury, I noticed the nearby leftover Halloween candy dish. And before I realized what I was doing, I scooped up a stray Three Musketeers mini-candy bar and then hurled it towards the startled, ill-mannered cat--- bonking her neatly on the top of her head with it!
And then she ran, by golly, mortified, I'm sure, that I had made such a skillful bulls-eye on her self-righteous noggin---and probably mad as hell that I'd figured out a way to get her off the table without having to run myself breathless chasing her--- and also completely indignant that I had made her look foolish in front of our other cat.
Now, please understand that I normally don't recommend cat-abuse, name-calling, or throwing Halloween candy for dealing with cat misbehavior--- but on that nerve-frazzled day, my poor self-control and handy Three Musketeers candy bar definitely solved the problem. None of our cats have ever sat on the dining room table since, and my dinners are now served on a clean, cat-hair-free surface.
I think Little Baby is sitting by her saucer again. I suppose that's alright....