Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Wilderness, Knitting, Making a CD, and Other Crap

Labor Day weekend. It's about time.

As most of you know, I HATE summer with a passion unless I have a huge pool in which to lounge, swim, lounge, swim, tan, smoke, have a few drinky-poos, swim, and finally crawl out of when the sun goes down. While it's true that we have the puddle here, it's just not the same. I can't seem to swim in a straight line without whacking my face into the wall. It's also not very deep - something which goes against my self-imposed pool rules. It got so damned hot last week, though, that I finally had to go in. For some reason, the pool people didn't do their job right, and the thing was a lovely shade of light green. I didn't care, though. I had reached my heat limit. So in I went and, to my surprise, encountered warm water. That was a huge plus.

I told Hubster that should I go in the water before autumn came, I wanted to see if Emma would swim. Since bullies aren't known for their swimming ability, I was going to hold her under her tummy and sort of cruise her around the shallow end. She was certainly excited about the whole thing, running around the edge, peering in the pool, barking, and running around in circles. So Hubster picked her up, handed her down, and I grabbed her around the middle just in time. Those stubby little legs and enormous paws were churning up a storm almost before I could get a good grip on her. It was hilarious. I could feel her sinking a bit, but she didn't seem to care. Her head was held high, water was splashing all over the place, and her tongue was sticking out. In short, she had a ball and ran around wet in order to stay cool. It worked like a charm.

Just so you get some sort of idea of what my old pool looked like, I offer this photo. Bear in mind that it's tucked in the corner of the yard (which was an acre), it's winter and raining like a bitch, the huge sky is dark in the middle of the day, the wind is whipping up waves, and it's an all-around lousy picture. But it's one of the few I have of my beloved watering hole, so I cherish it. You're only looking at half the width of the thing - it held close to 60,000 gallons. Yep. Big.


Yes, that's all water behind our fence. We were told that was a "greenbelt". It turns out that it was a flood plain. I loved it - watching the water get higher, the water birds coming in for the night, the eagles and hawks sitting in the huge oak tree... everything. I got in an argument with Hubster last night, began crying, and sobbed that I wanted to go home. Sigh. Some things don't get better with the passage of time.

Anyway, the puddle episode here went extremely well, and we're supposed to have another heat wave this week. It looks like we might have Indian Summer this year, which is NOT what the state (or I) need. It's just been an all-around shitty summer. I'll be absolutely delighted if it pours all winter long.

The CD process is coming along well. Hubster and I compiled a list of notes on the two discs for Mac to peruse. I'm not sure what he does after this - I think Don (the sound dude) will then either correct the problems or get rid of the tracks (or parts of them) altogether, but we certainly have enough material to fill up a commercial CD. We're under a huge time crunch, so the faster we could get these notes to Mac, the better. I'm sure it won't be the last time we speak about it - there's still a lot to do. It would be terrible if I have to drive down there before the concert to attend to some business. You know... like laying in the hammock with a cold one. Following are some more cabin pictures, but these are of the residents who were bold enough to come up on the porch while I sat there smoking.


Here come the two weary warriors after a day of shopping and merrymaking.


The squirrel who took to waiting for me in the morning for his peanuts. He was hilarious - he beat on the railing with his little front paws as if he were banging on a drum and scolded me loudly if I was late.


The same squirrel, who had become a ham and wasn't afraid of the camera.


Mr. Squirrel's friend, Mr. Chipmunk - also not afraid of us or the camera.


This is obviously Mrs. Squirrel.


One of the squirrel family on the last day of our stay, finally realizing that I had the peanuts and wasn't going to hurt him/her.


Squirrel Jr. running away with the coveted peanut I threw to him.


The hammock I fell asleep in (and out of).


One last shot of Emma enjoying herself on the couch with two of her stuffies.

That should do it for my vacation photos. I promise not to bore you until I get home from the concert at the end of October.

I've been on a knitting frenzy for the past week, working on a new pair of socks (with a new pattern, even). The yarn is "Toasty" by numma numma in "Whiny Butt" (I didn't name it); the pattern is "Which Way Socks" by Wildhorse Farms. For some reason, I love their patterns and have made several of them. Maybe this time, I'll remember to take a picture of the finished pair before they disappear. It's a simple pattern, easy to follow, easy to memorize (even for me), and the yarn isn't so variegated that it hides the stitch pattern. I'm into texture lately - not cables, but stitch definition and complicated (or simple) combinations. Unfortunately, patterns like that call for tonal yarns, of which I have precious few. That means I have to go shopping. Oh crap. (snort)

So this week, my mother is having surgery to fix some prolapsed female parts, I have to go to the dentist, I'm having lunch with a dear friend whom I haven't seen in a while, I have to do something about the mess in this house, and I'll be working on the shop. I'm hoping that once Labor Day is history, all the knitters will hunker down and begin their annual knitting season. I hope.

Otherwise, I'm going back to visit the squirrels and chipmunks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

47 Hours of Childbirth Felt Better Than This

I'm sick. I'm so sick that blinking hurts. It began on Sunday, the day we were coming home from vacation. I suppose I should be thankful - it could have hit on Saturday, the day I was doing the recording for the CD. But I'm not that sort of person - the "let's find the good in the bad!" kind of stupid bitch. Nope. I hurt and everybody is going to hear about it. I pity them.

Let me warn you that this post is VERY picture-heavy (for me). Hubster went crazy with the picture-taking finger and got pictures of everything from the cabin to the squirrels to the chipmunks to the road to the boulders to the ... well, you be the judge.

We left VERY late last Wednesday (I won't even tell you what time - I'm embarrassed by it), so we didn't arrive in Idyllwild until 3:30 a.m. Bear in mind that this tiny, charming little town is in the San Jacinto Mountains east of LA (and between LA and San Diego) at roughly 6,000-7,000 feet. Not only did we have to find the right turnoffs, we had to climb those mountains (one lane each way and straight up) in the type of darkness you only get in the wilderness. By the time we rolled up to the office where we were to pick up our keys, we were exhausted. Then we had to find the house, which entailed reading the map and instructions under a tiny light while I aimed a huge flashlight at the street signs through the windshield (and right in Hubster's eyes at one point when I swung around to answer a question, forgetting about the monster in my hand). We finally found the correct street but drove right past the house because we were looking for a driveway. I had a sickening feeling that the lights dimly shining through the trees WAY down the slope was where we were headed, but I kept hoping I was wrong. I wasn't.



Fortunately for me, I'm married to a man who believes that women shouldn't have to do the heavy work - especially when that woman is severely limited in what she can do anyway - so I explored around the cabin while he made several trips up and down those stairs bringing all our shit inside. As usual, we had packed way too much stuff, but you know how that goes. In any event, he finally finished, plopped down, and had himself a well-deserved rest.

The cabin we rented was absolutely charming and so well-stocked that it made my house truly look like a shithole. It was also spotless - no mean feat when you're smack in the middle of the forest. Here are some pictures of the inside of our home away from home.


My knitting niche.


Our kitchen, with the back door leading out to the deck in back of the house (and more property); the deck runs all the way around the house. There's also a small deck outside one of the upstairs bedrooms right above the deck in front of the house.

Sitting in the sun

Emma wondering why we're not going outside to look for peanuts dropped by the scrub jays or chipmunks. She had an absolute ball, and I'm thrilled that we were able to bring her. She doesn't feel good, either; she's teething again.


Part of the front room and fireplace. They left us firewood, kindling, and matches in case we wanted a fire; it was too fucking hot for that. There was an outdoor fireplace as well on the deck in front of the house, but we never seemed to have enough time to light it. Besides, the fire danger was so high that we were a little afraid to light it.


Standing next to the stairs (to the extreme left) looking towards the front door across the living room. You can see part of the deck outside along with the hammock. Those garbage cans by the door? One is for pine cones; the other came filled with peanuts for the squirrels and chipmunks.


The "Log Room", one of the two upstairs bedrooms. There's also a half-bath off this room and a sitting area out of the camera's range.


The "Balcony Room", the other upstairs bedroom. True to its' name, this is the room with the small deck in front of the house. It's accessed by a slider. This room is smaller than the other one and also didn't have a ceiling fan like the others did.

There was also another bedroom downstairs with a wrought-iron bed and a full bath next to that. While there was no A/C, each room had a built-in wall unit for heat (I'd never seen anything like it before). Across from the full bath was a closet with a washer and dryer; right across from the dining area (next to the kitchen) was another closet with a vacuum, an ironing board and iron, and some other small appliances. There was also room for you to hang up your clothes after washing them if you so desired.

I debated about whether or not to show you these next few pictures but finally decided that you'd get something of a kick out of them. This is me (and Emma) knitting.


Then Emma got too hot to be where she was and moved to her final resting position for my knitting session that evening.


At least you can see that I was indeed knitting at some point. Actually, I think that I took out my needles, plopped the yarn into my Knit Witch yarn bowl when Emma came crawling up to cradle in my arms, and promptly fell asleep. I barely remember Hubster waking me up.

That's it for the pictures today. My next post (hopefully tomorrow) will show you the outdoor pictures, including the squirrel who took to waiting for me on the railing and scolding me if I came outside without peanuts. She also took a peanut from my hand, which Hubster caught on film.

Mac (the man with whom I recorded) took me shopping on Friday (Thursday was for exploring and resting). Idyllwild is an absolutely charming town with lots of cool little shops to look at. I managed to keep my spending under control (how, I don't know). Then it was back to the cabin for dinner and to do a sound check with the flutes to see which ones we were going to use in the studio the next day. It took us a few hours to select about 20 pairs of flutes, but once we had it all down, the job was done. Mac left, I knitted and began to freak out about the following day, and finally got a few hours of sleep much later that night. When I woke up at 7 a.m., I just stayed up. I had missed my alarm the day before, so I wasn't about to miss it on recording day.

At the appointed time, Mac picked me up (he had loaded all the flutes, drums, and rattles into the van the night before), we both sucked down some smokes, and headed over to the recording studio. It turns out that the studio was built behind and to the side of the sound engineer's house. It was absolutely lovely - there was a Steinway concert grand in the middle of the room, guitars hanging on the back wall, an organ against the back wall, and an enormous mixing board in a soundproof room off to the side. We took our places, got miked, put the headphones on, and began to record.

We were in the studio for five hours with both of us making a few substantial mistakes. All in all, however, it was an outstanding session. Mac was picking up the rough edit in the morning and sending a copy home with me so I could listen to it and make notes. It would have been much simpler if I could have come back up, but it's an awfully long drive. It also doesn't help that Labor Day is this weekend, so we'll do the best we can. I'll make a note of the track and what time the blip occurs, write down my thoughts, and send it off to him via email. We don't have a lot of time to get this done - the concert is at the end of October. To be honest, I can't believe that's me playing on there. Mac thinks it will be good enough to be nominated for a NAMMY (the Native American equivalent of the Grammys). We'll have to see how it sounds after everything has been cleaned up and all the effects put in. We have about 90 minutes of music, so that affords us the opportunity to actually delete songs if we so choose. We each did three solos; the rest of the songs are duets. I haven't sat down to listen to it yet because of this stupid illness thing. I slept for most of the drive home and got REALLY sick on Monday. I have a feeling that this one is going to hang around for a while.

The vacation was everything we hoped it would be, the recording session was outrageous, and I wish I owned a cabin up there for a get-away home (you should see some of these places). If we had the money (and a permanent house), it would be something I'd seriously consider. I guess a lot of Angelenos keep homes there for weekend trips. I can't say as I blame them. There are a lot closer places around here, but there's something about this idyllic place tucked away in the middle of the mountains. To give you an idea of the views you're blessed with as you're driving up or down, here are a few closing pictures.


About halfway up the mountain.


Another breathtaking view. There are "scenic view" turnouts all the way up (or down) the mountain so you can pull over and take pictures like this.


I'm not sure what this valley is called, but it's home to the Morongo Indians and their casino.


About halfway up the mountain. We drove all this at 3:00 a.m., so we missed all the sheer granite walls and the beauty of the surroundings. Because of that, these were all taken on the way home.

So now I'm going to go plop my big ass in my big-ass chair, pick up my knitting (I've cast on for a new pair of socks and managed to swatch for another pair), and work on that for the rest of the evening. Maybe later on tonight, if I feel up to it, I'll get some work done on the shop. I'm caught up (YAY!); however, I got three new vendors in the mail while we were gone, so Hubster has to take pictures of all the goodies those boxes contain. With the opening of knitting season coming up fast (I consider it open right after Labor Day), I want the shop to be well-stocked with goodies.

Until then... I think I'm going to barf.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On The Eve of a Great Adventure

Well, kids, it's here. I still have a million things to do, but I'm tired. I need to pack up my flutes, my knitting bags, and our luggage. It can all wait until tomorrow. So what have I accomplished today?

It doesn't seem like much, but I'm finally caught up on the shop update (and have sent out a newsletter letting everyone know about it). Not only are there lots of new vendors, but several vendors have updated their inventories. The alpaca lady (Fiber Co-Op) is there, as well as roving, yarn, stitch markers, earrings, notecards, etc., and a new color selection of the needle gauge jewelry from Debra's Garden. It took me all evening, but I wanted to get it done before we left. I still have to put up that one vendor, but that will wait until we get home. My main focus was to get all the vendors up and running, and that I've done.

So in the true tradition of me and Hubster, we'll wait until the minute before we're due to walk out the door to pack our luggage, my flutes and drums and rattles and medicine bags, my knitting bags, Emma's food and toys (her new bed and carrier are out in the car already), and all the other shit we always drag along with us. I checked the map to see where the street we're going to is, and it appears to back up into nothingness. How lovely! I told Hubster he'll have to be careful walking the sausage at night unless we bring the MagLight. I got that flashlight when I was in high school from my best friend's dad; it's still in the same shape it was in all those decades ago. It's a weapon, too, which is why I want him to take it. I know there are lots of critters out there at night who might take kindly to eating Emma. It's going to be an adventure for all of us, that's for sure. My idea of roughing it is having to get out of bed to reach the phone in order to call down for food and have my bath drawn (with rose petals sprinkled in the bath water). Think I'm kidding? Ask Hubster - he'll tell you.

I want to thank all of you who wrote, left comments here, and otherwise have shown your love and support. I'm getting nervous now that the day for us to leave has come. It's going to be hot down there, so I'm beginning to wonder if we should have put Emma in a kennel. But then again, it feels strange when she's not with us, so I think we're doing the right thing. The cabin is shaded from all the trees surrounding it and there are five ceiling fans, so I'm hoping it stays somewhat cool. We'll open it up at night. With any luck, Hubster will find a creek for the sausage to romp in during the day. That would be awesome.

Me? I'm going to do NOTHING except knit and relax on the deck. We have a gas BBQ, and they provide us with a propane tank as well as wood for the fireplaces. We might light the outdoor one at night; otherwise, we'll just relax and try to stay cool. I'm going for rehearsal Friday night, and then the recording session is at 11:00 a.m. Saturday. Nervous!!

So I'm off to knit for a while and probably fall asleep in my chair. No, strike that... I have two skeins to wind into balls first. I'm taking four knitting projects so I can switch off should I get bored (or really screw one of them up). I really have no plans for the time outside of practicing and in the studio. I think this will be good for all of us.

I'll have the notebook with me in case anybody needs to get in touch. The shop will also be open during our absence, but nothing will get shipped until next Tuesday. Have fun browsing in it (and hopefully finding something you love); remember that you can email me with question, problems, or just to say hello. :)

Screw knitting. I'm going to sleep. See you next week!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fame and Fortune Await Me... Yeah, Right

Well gang, it's finally happened. I got the phone call.

Before you go asking, "What the hell do you mean, you got the phone call?", let me give you a little background.

Most of you know that I played in a benefit concert last year for the Kumeyaai-Ipai tribe in Poway. It wasn't only my first time performing in the concert - it was my first time performing in ANY concert. At intermission, I went out into the lobby to check out the items many people had brought to sell and was accosted by several people complimenting me on my performance, asking if I was going to be appearing anywhere else (including the concert the following year), and if I was going to record a CD.

Recording a CD had always been a nebulous sort of thing, but we began taking names of people who wanted to buy one. I spoke about it periodically with Mac, the man who organizes the concert every year and books all the performers. He often calls just to chat, so when I got a call from him the other day telling me to call him immediately, I figured he had something he wanted to run by me.

He did indeed.

The upshot of the call is that I'll be leaving Wednesday for Los Angeles (we're renting a cabin in the San Jacinto mountains - it's lovely - and Hubster and Emma are coming), and turning all this into a mini-vacation. The cabin has a hot tub under the stars. It's going to be heavenly. So why in the hell am I going to Los Angeles?

Because next Saturday, I'll be in the recording studio RECORDING MY FIRST CD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll be playing the Native American flute.

(I'm not excited about this one little bit.)

I was going to drive myself, but I drove today for the first time in months - and just to my mother's house, 15 minutes away - and when I got home, I slept all evening. I didn't wake up until well after midnight and haven't eaten a thing since Friday. I had such great plans for last night, too - finishing up on the shop, frying chicken to take over to Mom's house today, blah blah blah - but that got shot in the ass. After seeing how tired just a quick drive made me, Hubster decided that he was going with me, bringing his computer and working from the cabin while I knit and practice, and bringing Emma along so she can romp around in the forest (on a leash, of course - I would die if anything happened to my little sausage). I'll take myself to the studio on Saturday (and we'll both go over to Mac's house on Friday so I can practice; we'll all eat dinner together that night at Mac's); and then we'll head for home on Sunday. Since the cabin has a fully-equipped kitchen, I'm hoping they'll come over for an evening at "our place", too. All in all, it should take us about eight hours to drive down there, since Mac actually lives in the mountains east of LA (and in-between LA and San Diego), and Hubster is worried that I would be too exhausted to navigate the mountain roads, even if I broke up the trip into a two-day voyage. I'm secretly glad he's going. The idea of driving by myself was a great one, but realistically, I just can't do it anymore. That bums me out. At least I got to drive today with the top down (we finally took off the hardtop - it's the first time since I bought the car in 2003 that it's been off), and my first time driving a convertible. It was awesome.

So I had to cancel prison day because I just have too much to do to get ready for all this. I have to find all the flutes he wants me to bring (there's about eight of them), get my rattles (including the ones my boys made me), my drum, and everything else I need for the session. I'll be in the studio for eight hours recording duets, solo performances, and performances with a backup group. I'm already getting nervous about this, but I'm also really looking forward to it. As for the concert (I've probably already told you this), they've pared down the number of performers due to budget cuts. I'm cheap - I don't take payment for my performance, don't accept money for lodging or food, and just go for the sheer love of playing. The Elders love me. :) Carlos Nakai (for those of you who are familiar with the artists in this genre of music) is the star attraction of the concert, and I'm one of two performers opening for him. My boys are telling me to not just open for him, but to embarrass him. I don't know about that, but I'll do my best.

I'll try to post one more time before we leave, and I'll also have my laptop with me so I can post from the deck of the cabin as well as attend to shop matters. We'll also be bringing our camera. Emma will miss her puppy class on Wednesday, but that's okay - we'll do a makeup. She's so smart that she picks up the new commands after two tries.

As for the shop, we'll be open for business, but all orders placed Wednesday through Sunday of this week won't be processed until a week from Tuesday. I'll need a day to recuperate before I can wrap anything up. I have several new vendors listed already and will get as many more listed in the next three days as I can. I also have some updates which will be done. I'd like to get Creatively Dyed listed before we go, but that's the last thing on my list.

Think good thoughts about me this coming Saturday at 10 a.m. PDT and send those vibes my way.

I'm going to need them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This, That, and the Other Thing

First of all, may I direct your attention to the sidebar and all those buttons. If you look at the button right above the "You Make My Day" award, you'll see a new one called "Knit and Crochet Giveaway", or something closely approximating that. I'm encouraging you to click on that button and subscribe to the site. Just do it. I'll wait.

Done? Okay - back to our regularly scheduled programming.

First for the bitchfest.

I hate summer. I know there are those of you who cavort through vacations, enjoy having your kids home from school, going through family outings, blah blah blah. Me? I sit here and pine away for that which is lost, drip sweat, sleep, stare at the pool and wish the water were warmer so I could actually use it, sleep, drip sweat, get really cranky and nasty (tonight I told Hubster to put rat poison in my coffee so I could just get it over and done with), and when it gets really hot like it was today and will be tomorrow, I'm really fucking miserable. Part of it is the disease; the other part are the meds. Emma doesn't fair well with the heat, either. Bullies just don't do heat - it can kill them quite easily. I keep an eagle eye on her and have fans blowing, ice cubes in her water, and a frozen milk carton in front of the fan to act as a mini-A/C. It's going to be in the 90's here tomorrow, and that's just too damn hot. I think I'll try taking her in the pool (she loves water) to see if that cools her down. Bullies sink like a stone, so I'll have to hold her up by her belly and let her little stubby legs paddle away. It'll cool me down, too, and I wish I could have been in there every day like I was in the Sac pool. I miss having that deep mahogany tan. Sigh. Since I swim nude, I normally have an all-over tan; right now, I look like the belly of a dead fish. It just doesn't get hot enough... well, I've sung that song before, so I'll try to shut up. I just don't understand why this house doesn't cool off at night. The windows and doors are all open, the fans are set up to draw the cool air in... I just don't know. These old houses are built differently than the new ones (obviously), and they're great in the winter because they retain the heat. I honestly don't remember feeling this horrible when I was a kid. Maybe it's that global warming thing, or maybe it's because I'm an old, cranky bitch now.

So today, we had to take the queen to the vet for the rest of her puppy shots and her rabies shot. Not a problem. We got in the truck, she wiggled all over the back seat (she loves car trips), and off we went. As we drew closer to Livermore, I looked at the temperature gauge in the truck. It said 104. What??? Oh shiiiiiiiit. Sure enough, when we got to the vet, it was hotter than hell. I carried her inside because the pavement is just too hot for tender Bullie paws. No, she's not spoiled. Nope. Not one little bit.

So the vet came in, examined her, and noticed a little patch of skin that didn't have hair on it. Then she found a few other patches. After scraping one of the lesions (as she called them), she looked at the slide under the microscope, came back, and told us that my little one has mites. WHAT? I asked her how in the hell Emma got mites, and she said they come from the mother. The unfortunate news is that most dogs just shake it off with no intervention; Emma apparently has a comprised immune system (just like her human mama) and can't get rid of them herself. As a result, they're all over her body. We have to give her Ivermectin before meals and ramp up the dosage daily. I guess this shit tastes like shit and gives them the shits (oh happy happy joy joy), so we have to give it to her with food to avoid an upset tummy. She had enough trauma today, so we're starting it tomorrow. At least they gave us a syringe to squirt it in her mouth. We also got her Sentinel (they gave her one today, so she starts on that next month), and then we patiently waited for the medication to be mixed up. Then they gave us the bill. That little fart cost us $360. I damn near fell over and realized that we're not going to have enough money to make it through the next three weeks. Sigh. Hubster has figured out a way for us to get out of this mess (or at least to help us), so I'm resting a little easier.

After the ordeal at the vet's, we went over to my jeweler's (he's pretty much across the street) so I could get my ring checked and cleaned. When I fell outside of the dentist's office a couple of weeks ago and went surfing across the parking lot on my bare calf, I also scratched up the bottom of the band. I was afraid that I might have loosened some of the stones and really wanted to get it checked. Hubster and Emma stayed in the truck with the A/C blasting while I went inside. None of the diamonds were loose (as I was falling, the first thing I thought was, "Don't hit the ring!" and protected it accordingly), he fixed the scratches, and it took a half-hour to get out of there (I can't just walk in; we have to reminisce about what happened 20 years ago). Then it was back in the truck to get to Emma's puppy class.

I barely made it out of the truck when I noticed this enormous man standing there waiting for me. He was covered in paint and was obviously a construction guy. He immediately walked up to me, bent down, and began cuddling a very happy Emma. Then he told me that he had one at home (a few months older than her) and loved her to death. His little girl is named Bulldozer - Dozie for short. It was so endearing to see this monster of a man who could rip your head from your body speaking baby talk to a little wriggling sausage. She ate it up, of course, and gave him her best soulful eyes. He told me that he would never be without a Bullie again. I agreed with him and dragged a very reluctant Emma off to her class.

You have to picture this: A 28-lb. sausage-shaped creature with the chest of a bull, the head of a bowling ball, and the strength of a small horse trolling the isles of Petsmart (one of her favorite places in the world), totally ignoring her lessons and dragging Mama along like I weighed nothing. She knows that she can meet other dogs, get lots of love from the staff (who also all love her), and get to play with the puppies in her class. She also knows that class means treats, and no matter how bad she felt from all the shots, food takes precedence (she IS a bulldog, after all). She learned her new commands after two tries, got lots of loves from the trainer and a new guy who sat in on the class, and generally had a roaring good time. We came straight home today instead of going to Mom's; it was just too hot, and we were all drained and tired. No sooner had we all sat down at home than we fell asleep. Needless to say, I haven't gotten any work done tonight, but I'll be working on it through the wee hours of the morning.

Lest you think that I'm going to let you all off the hook, here are my gratuitous Emma pictures for tonight:

Waking Up

Her Majesty consenting to a picture while she lounges on the couch.

Back to sleep

Her Majesty is tired of posing for pictures and is sliding back into slumber.

See? I didn't bore you too much.

So now it's time to go back to work and try to get one vendor listed. All the spreadsheet work is done, so now I just have to fill out a form for every item before I can upload the picture. I'll be doing the alpaca tomorrow; wait until you get a load of this stuff. She sent me 100 items, and that's all I'm going to say.

I'm too hot to say anything.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lucky Day? Who Says?

With all the hype about this being a lucky day, I thought maybe I'd have a chance at some luck, too. Maybe I should have gone to a casino. Maybe I should have gone to the ocean. Maybe...

But no. I decided to work on my socks.

I've never done a short-row heel, and these socks have one. Okay, I thought, not a problem. The directions were written clearly. I had no problem with the leg of the sock, made out of a gorgeous merino/silk blend in a tone-on-tone green. I'd been saving this particular skein for something special, especially since it had 600 yards of luscious softness. The pattern called for 500 yards, so I figured that would be just right, since I always need more than what the pattern calls for.

So I began the short rows. Easy. No problems at all. But when I got to the point where I turned the heel, the directions weren't quite as clear. They instructed me to pick up the wrap along with the stitch and knit or purl them together. Okay. I managed that one just fine. Then it said to double-wrap the next stitch. Huh? Okay. I did another wrap on it - yarn forward, slip stitch, yarn back, slip stitch back on left needle. Still not a problem. In fact, the problem didn't come until a row later.

"Pick up both wraps along with the stitch and knit/purl them together, then wrap the next stitch, turn, and work until you reach the next double-wrap. Repeat."

This is sweet, I thought, as I merrily knitted my way across the row. What a great pattern. Look at that cute little heel already forming. Look at...

Uh... where the hell is the double-wrapped stitch?

It seems that the yarn I'm using makes it difficult to see some of the stitch formations. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out where the double-wrap was, which parts of the stitch I was supposed to pick up, and how in the hell I was supposed to get the needle into three knit stitches, two of which were lying across the bottom of the stitch and forming a bar like a purl. Oh shit.

So I gave it my best effort, got the wraps on the needle, and knit them all together. Hm. They didn't look bad. There was no hole at the bottom. I guess I did it right! Yay! So I wrapped the next stitch again and began on the purl side. It was then that I totally, completely, absolutely lost any hope of having good luck today.

I couldn't find the fucking wraps to save my soul.

Once again, I gave it my best guess, but I guessed wrong. Not only did it look like shit, there was a big honking hole at the bottom and a rather ugly bulge on the front of the sock.

Normally, I would throw the shitbag away at this point, but I decided to try and save it. I took stitches off. I worked backwards. I redid stitches. I did everything I could think of, and all that happened is that the whole thing looked uglier and uglier. So then I got the bright idea of picking up the row of stitches just above the last pattern repeat so I could rip out the heel and put in a heel flap. That went just great until my needle slipped. The stitches I was trying to pick up were just fine. It was the 20 stitches at the top which went flying off the needle from the sudden motion of my hands.

(Did anybody ever tell you how slippery silk really is?)

I looked at it in total despair. It wasn't fixable at this point. It was ruined. All that work. All that yarn. All that everything. So I wrapped it up, put it aside, and am pondering what to do with it. I could unravel the whole thing; I could unravel it down to the pattern repeat and try to pick up the stitches again; I could throw it all away and swear a lot. But I love the yarn, so I think I'll try to unravel it down to the pattern repeat first. If that doesn't work, then I can always unravel the whole sock and let the yarn rest before I use it again. I will not be defeated by a stupid pattern. I've been knitting for 48 years. I will get this done and get it done correctly.

If it kills me.

I'm working hard on the update and hope to have it finished by Sunday night. One of the new vendors is the alpaca lady I told you about before. She has a LOT of items which I think you'll go nuts for. There are batts, yarn, cards, etc., all of them soft (except for the cards), dreamy, and in beautiful colors. There are yarn vendors, stitch markers, and all sorts of goodies. I have a new shipment of Debra's Garden needle gauges in new colors - those might not make it into this update, but I'm going to try. I have Hide and Sheep stitch markers to add. There are new additions to existing vendors. It's a riot of color, texture, and beauty. I hope you enjoy it. And don't forget: Creatively Dyed yarn is all $12 a skein, and I think most of it is Seacell.

In closing, here's the picture I promised you a few days ago, the Chapstick holder which my SP12 pal made for me:


Lucky day. Suck my dick.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thank God I'm Too Old For More Kids

Kids. Who needs them?

I see pictures of everybody's new babies, and they're all adorable: soft, sweet-smelling, tiny little feet and hands, truly bundles of joy. You have such hopes and dreams for your children, and they're your pride and joy. You watch them grow up, gain independence, find friends, find boy/girlfriends, have one crisis after another, think the world is going to end, talk to you for hours on end about how horrible that new boy/girl at school is, find another boy/girlfriend, go to the prom, learn to drive... all the things that alert you to the fact that your baby isn't a baby anymore.

And then they go to college, get the dream job, get their own apartment, move in with friends, earn their degree, become doctors or lawyers or professional football players or...

They drive dentures from the lab to the dentist's office.

I guess someone has to do it, but why my kid?

I'm absolutely exhausted. I've just spent the past three hours at puppy class and yelling at the thing that emerged from my snatch 30 years ago.

(I knew I'd work "snatch" in there somehow.)

Puppy class was fine. Emma has now realized that the little creatures who are 1/16th her size are her classmates and available for her to head-butt and play with. What's amazing is that all the little creatures have lost their fear and are now snarling and biting at Emma. Then this hideous creature who belongs to the people who sit next to us (this beast snapped at Em last week) tried to hump her face. I was less than pleased, and poor Em was confused. Personally, I think she should have opened her enormous mouth and bitten off his dingle. But she's far too sweet for that. We worked on walking on a leash today, and she did wonderfully. Then we weighed all the dogs, and she came in at 28 pounds. My little baby is a big sausage. However, a past student came into class with her baby, a nine-month old English Mastiff. This thing is close to four feet high at the shoulder and weighs 135 pounds. When she's grown up, she'll be about eight feet tall when she stands on her back feet and weigh 200 pounds. I guess Emma isn't as large a sausage as I thought.

After class, we had to go through all the people who wanted to lavish love on Em (she gobbles this shit up), talk to the staff who think Em is the cutest thing they've ever seen (they have exquisite taste), and make our way out to the car. I told Hubster to drive over to Mom's to see if the thing was there. I wanted to rip her a new one if she was. Unfortunately for her, she was out in front with the kids, so Hubster sort of blocked her car with the truck, and we all piled out. Beast wasn't too pleased to see us, although she did play with Em (Em doesn't know her history, nor does she care; all she knows is that Beast has two hands to pet her with). No sooner had we walked onto the lawn and I handed Em over to Hubster, I launched into a tirade.

Lest you think that I'm a horrible mother and/or person. let me say that Beast has been doing things to us and the rest of the family since she was in high school. She runs off with the first guy she dates; she totaled her brand-new car we bought her for Christmas; she got married to a total loser on the trip where she totaled her car (in Reno - she hit a patch of ice in February and hit a taxi with a cop in it); but worst of all, she has completely neglected her children. She barely gives my mom any money toward their support; she sees them for an hour a day and thinks that's enough; she thinks that Hubster and I should be buying their clothes and anything else they need - in other words, she likes being a mom in name only. I know that I've ranted about her before, but I'm so disgusted that I had to say something.

The face-off didn't go well. It was pretty much the usual bullshit, but after yelling at her for almost an hour, she finally broke down and switched tactics. She wants to sit down with me, mother and daughter together, and just talk without yelling. I told her fine; if she wants to talk, pick up the phone, call us to set aside a day, and come over. I know what will happen. Either she really will call and we'll talk (probably ending up in yelling like we always do), or she said that to shut me up and get away from the problem. I told her in no uncertain terms that this time, I've had it, that she's a horrible mother, that I simply can't believe I spawned a creature like her, and that we'll take her to court to take the kids away from her. I don't really want to do that, because I don't think I have the energy to take care of two rambunctious four-year olds. However, I also can't stand by and see them neglected by her. They have a happy home with mom and grandma, but that isn't going to last much longer. My mother is past 70 and has to have surgery very soon, and my grandma can't walk anymore. We're going to wind up with them one way or the other, and I won't have her using them as pawns against the family. She's self-centered, self-absorbed, selfish, disrespectful, nasty, and doesn't care about anything or anybody except herself - and that includes her children. So what did she do last weekend? She moved out of mom's into a house with three other girls so she could be closer to the boyfriend - and this in a town about 30 minutes away. The child who doesn't have any money to begin with has now taken on another debt which she can't afford. Mom always said she would throw her out, but there's a double-standard at work here. If I had done even half of what Beast has done, I would have been tossed out on my ass. But since Beast is mom's granddaughter, she goes easy on her. I don't think mom has done her any favors. In fact, I think she's made matters worse.

As I said, I've told you about my... my... child (shudder) before, but I'm just so damned mad that I had to rant or I would have exploded. I'm so disappointed, so hurt, so... so... so. I'm truly embarrassed to let people know she's my child. Of course, if you met her, you'd think she was a delightful and well-mannered person. But it's the act she's polished over the years. She's soulless and empty. It's such a waste.

I think I'm going to have a cuppa, work on the shop, and go cry in the corner. Because I couldn't let her see me cry. That would mean she had gotten to me, and that's a mark of victory to her.

It burns a hole in my soul every time this happens, and my soul can't take much more.

Secret Pal 12 Question

Here is this week's SP12 question:

Have you ever entered your knitting (or anything else) in the fair? Would you ever consider it?

Yes. In 1999, I entered my baklava in the Pastry Division for Baking, as well as a king-sized bed hand-pieced sampler quilt, in the California State Fair. I took first place with the quilt (which was later auctioned off for Habitat for Humanity at a black-tie dinner - my best friend had organized the event), and also took first place, Best of Class, and Best of Division with the baklava. I would have taken Best of Show, too, but I lost out to a chocolate pie. When I received my score sheet, I had a score of 100 and the comment, "Perfect!". That must have been one hell of a pie. I think that traditionally, pies win Best of Show in pastry. That's okay - I got a shitload of ribbons and the rosette I had been coveting. One day, I'll enter my knitting or crocheting or spinning - if I can get my shop update done, that is.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Some Weeks I Can Do Without


You know how some weeks start out badly, giving you a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach because you just know that things are going to get worse? Well...

We've stopped going to Folsom the night before prison day for two reasons: we can't afford spending $100 every other week for a hotel room, and we don't like the idea of leaving Emma home alone for that long. We decided that taking her with us to a hotel isn't feasible right now. Even though she's potty trained, she still has accidents; I don't want her to pee on the bed during the night. We also take her out every four hours or so to go potty (and to allow her to roll in the grass), which is kind of difficult to do when you're in a hotel. Anyway, it's turned out to be easier leaving the same morning as I'll be in the prison, and Emma does just fine in her playpen for the day.

So yesterday, we headed out at about 5:15 a.m.. Traffic was light; I managed to stay awake for the entire trip; the weather was lovely. We got there, I got my crap out of the truck, and Hubster took off. After I got up to the guard shack, I saw that Bill wasn't there. I called him and found out that something was wrong in the cellblock - nobody was on the yard, and there were guards prowling about. Bill said he would try to find out what was going on and would come get me. In the meantime, I sat on a bench and waited.

When he came to get me, he had bad news. Something had happened (although none of the guards would tell him exactly what), and the block appeared to be on lockdown. He suggested that I call Hubster and have him pick me up. That would have been fine except for two reasons: I couldn't remember his phone number, and his phone didn't have any bars showing; hence, no power. I was stuck at the prison for two hours with no ciggies, no shade, no nothing. Bill bought me breakfast, said goodbye, and I was on my own.

I sat out in the sun wondering how in the hell I was going to survive for two hours until Hubster came back; I was craving a ciggie something horrible. In fact, I asked everybody who walked past me if they were a smoker (nobody was). Then I found out how I was going to spend the time. A great deal of it was spent falling asleep and catching myself as I rocked forward on the bench. Then it happened, and right in front of a group of inmates who were tending the grounds.

I fell flat on my face.

Apparently, I fell asleep, rocked forward, and didn't wake up in time to catch myself. What made matters worse is that I had a sundress on. All I know is that I was being lifted in the air by five inmates, all of whom looked really concerned. They sat me back on the bench and crowded around, asking if I was okay and if I needed anything (yeah, I needed a ciggie, but I don't think any of them were holding). Then a guard came charging down the walkway, yelling at the inmates to get away from me and asking if they had molested me. I calmed Rambo down, thanked the men, and noted (thankfully) that it was almost 11:00 a.m. Then Hubster FINALLY showed up, and we headed for home. I lasted as long as it took to get to the gas station; then I don't remember a thing until Hubster said we were home. Emma was beside herself with happiness when we walked in the door. I'll have some pictures to bore you with in a little while.

I've been trying to get an update for the shop done for a week now, but I keep falling asleep or being so weak that I can't move. I have high hopes for tonight, even though I already feel sleepy. I also hurt. Why?

I fell flat on my face. Again.

This time, it happened out in front of the dentist's office. I went today to get that damned bottom partial adjusted so I can wear it. Hubster went outside about halfway through the appointment; when it was over, I headed out to the truck. I was walking next to the truck on one of those raised cement curb bumpers when my ankle folded in half. I tried to catch myself, but when you weigh as much as I do, it's difficult to do. I went down on the curb and hit the parking lot, scraping up my left calf pretty good. I also scratched up my ring (sigh); back to Lance's to have him buff it out and check the setting. I began banging on the truck because Hubster didn't come right out. It turns out that he was snoring away, but he finally heard my screaming and banging and ran outside. After picking me up, he stuffed me in the seat, looked at my leg oozing blood, and took off for the gas station to get me something to drink (if I'm drinking, I'm not crying). Then he cleaned it up when we got home. Now my teeth and leg hurt. Shit.

As many of you know, I'm participating in the Secret Pal 12 swap. I got a package from my pal the other day full of goodies. One in particular uh... stood out. Our camera just died, so I won't have a picture of it until later. She made it for me after making sure that I wouldn't be offended (me? I make obscene phone callers weep). No, it's not a cock pillow, but close. I'll post the whole bunch of gifts later, too. She's a doll - I couldn't have asked for a better pal.

OK... time to bore you with Emma.


Emma in her bed with her toys.


Emma on the couch.


Emma sneaking up on Mommy.


What Mommy saw when she looked down from her knitting (that white thing at the bottom of the picture is Mommy's white leg).

The other lovely thing that happened is that I was making a swap gift for another swap pal when I fell asleep (this was last night, shortly after I looked down and saw those little fangs). When I woke up this morning, about half of the stitches had dropped off the needle. Bear in mind that I was using Addis - large Addis (size 10-1/2) - which I'm not used to using (I use size 1 in wood these days), so I had forgotten how slippery they are. I looked, horrified, at the mess which was formerly a difficult sequence of stitches per row. It took well over an hour just to sort the thing out and another hour to put it all back together again. Sigh.

So tonight, I'll be using Bento (the new program which has a cool spreadsheet) to log in all the new vendors which I hope to include in the shop update in the next day or two. I had hoped to have this done a week ago, but as I said earlier... Let's hope that everything goes well.

Oh... I have a comment to make. One of my vendors, Drooling Over Yarn, had another fiber artist call her work "a hobby". She was deeply hurt by this, as Laura takes her work very seriously and does an outstanding job on her yarn. In fact, she was chummed by L&V today. I have a large amount of her yarn in my shop and am proud to carry it. So to this fiber artist (I don't know who it is), maybe you should think about how you would feel if someone looked at your work and said, "That's a nice little hobby you have". I doubt that you'd be very happy about it.

I have now done my Public Service Announcement for the week.

Signing off.