Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let the Birthday Games Begin

Best Quote I Heard All Day
What a drag it is getting old--Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "Mother' s Little Helper"

So the Glimmer Twins wrote that song when they were 25? And now the two are going to be 66 this year. 

It's early, it's my birthday, Jerry's still sleeping, and I'm out on the porch writing. A bit chilly but the weather is going to heat up to the high 80s today. Yeah, thank ya Jeeeeezus. 

The celebration started yesterday when I walked into work and found that my coworkers had decorated my desk.

Yes, that's a Nerf gun on my laptop. We do occasionally have shootouts at the Okey-Dokey corral. They sprinkled my desk with little birthday cutouts. Our team has five birthdays this week alone, so we're having a group party next week.

And then Jerry came up last night, with these in hand:

Plus a card that I can't display. Suffice it to say that I laughed my ass off when I read it after midnight. He was jonesin' for me to read it but I wouldn't, until it was officially my birthday. I know he has a present for me, but he's still cuttin' ZZZZZZZZZs.

My beloved gay brother, Joe, sent me this:

I love the colors! Damn him! Now I want to wind the skeins and start designing a pair of men's socks. One of my colleagues, Bobby, who's a sweetheart and young enough to be my son, loves what he calls "Funky Man Socks" so I think that's a perfect name.

And finally, here's what I'm doing right now, out on the porch, with coffee and Cleo at my side.

I had to laugh yesterday. My cell phone goes off and it's Liz. "Happy Birthday, Gram!" Um, Liz, it's tomorrow. She got so upset that she got it wrong, I had to calm her down over the phone. And then we laughed. Liz just got her first job, so she's up to her earballs.  But getting an "I love ya, Gram" was a fine pre-birthday present, for sure.

Tomorrow is grandson Ian's 12th birthday. Ian, aka Birthday Present, because he came damned close to being born on his Gram's birthday. So it's a big fambly get-together down at Corinne's house, with ganze Familia attending. Cake, coffee, and schmoozing. I'm so lucky to have such a fabulous family. We all love each other. And everyone is rare and handy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's All Relative. Mommy, Daddy, Baby, President

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.-- Albert Einstein

When my youngest daughter Corinne was tiny, she would identify her family as "Mommy. Daddy. Baby. President." I was never quite sure whether she was the Baby or the President. Perhaps her sister can clarify. But I doubt it. There's nothing better than a child's imagination. God knows both my children had imaginations that ran rampant, particularly Jenn.

Which is why I've decided that I will become even more childish than I am now. It's the only way to survive.

Happy belated birthday to my Sissyboo, Ms. Scrappy. She was my 12th birthday present. The gift that keeps on giving, as they say. 

Here's why Kar and Mar are glad that Mammy had them in April.

This picture was taken at Branch Brook Park this past Sunday, a county park in Newark/Belleville, NJ, that rivals DC with its cherry blossoms. Jerry and I were out and about, wanting to enjoy the sunshine, so he drove over and we cruised through the park. 

And then the weekend before, we drove along the Delaware River.

It's fucking 41 degrees and raining out, as I write this. Feh.

Obligatory Knitting (and Spinning) Shit
Well, almost one sleeve done on Jerry's sweater. As you can see, Cleo does not understand the concept of being nonplussed. She decided to step into the photo, something she never does. Little attention whore. 

If that isn't a look of disdain, I don't know what it is. Cleo is such a non-feline, I'm ashamed to call her a cat. I sat with my spindle last night, twirling it in front of her. She turned her back and walked away. No interest in yarn, no interest in cat toys, eats catnip and immediately falls asleep. Jesus. 

I've been fucking around with my Comet spindle again, this time using some Romney that I found in the fiber storage bin.
 It's actually spinning up nicely and I'm now satisfied that I can spindle. I still prefer a wheel, howsome ever. 

Panera Posse
I managed to make it to the Mt. Olive Panera last Wednesday for the knitting get-together. Only five of us showed up: Me, BJ, Linda, Jeanne, and later, Crystal. But I did take a picture of their gruesomenesses.

From left, it's Linda, Beej, and Jeanne. Crystal showed up after the photo shoot. I did admire Jeanne's bag that she made herself, of fabric called "Knitmare on Main Street." My favorite motif is the skeleton slumped in the armchair with the knitting. That's how I feel, most nights.

It's funny. I've never been much for groups, never joined much of anything other than orchestra in high school, dropped out of Girl Scouts because I was bored and the girls in the troop, other than Dottie, were annoying. But I enjoy going to this group when I can muster up the energy on Wednesday nights to make the 70-mile roundtrip after work. 

MD Not Cheap and Wool
Well, I'm ready. Got my pennies together, although I still haven't decided if I want to get the Ladybug. I am not usually so pussified when making a decision but the little schizo voice in my head keeps saying, "Do you REALLY need another wheel?" The schizo voice obviously mimicks my mother quite well. 

I'm bringing Jerry with me and my gut thoughts run to "do you really want him to know what you spend on this shit?" Of course, given fiber shoved into my eyeballs, Jerry will vanish for a brief time. You know he won't be any kind of shopping deterrent.

I finally started using Twitter more often and stuck it into the sidebar the other night. As I was reading in e-Week, Twitter and FaceBook are now known as "mini-blogs." With Twitter limited to 140 characters, I'd say that was past "mini" but probably just enough for anyone's blather, including mine. 

I remember learning about stream-of-consciousness writing when I was a freshman in high school and thinking that it was a very cool way to write. I seem to recall that I tried my hand at it, possibly for a homework assignment. In fact, this blog is plenty stream of consciousness, when you come right down to it. I rarely think much of it through until I'm typing. I may take pictures, may use 'em, may not. 

So consider this true WYSIWYG kind of crap.

Hippo Bird-day
Friday will be my last day of being in my 50s because, as my mother so kindly reminded me yesterday, Saturday will be the first day of my 60s. I think she's enjoying the fact. Considering that she will be 86 in August but looks and acts like she's in her 60s, I figure I'm about 35 or so, really. What my mother knits would put a lot of knitters half her age to shame. She just finished the Mari Dembrow cardigan that I've been working on. And started another lace shawl. 

While I spent some time last week feeling a bit sorry for myself because damn it, I'm getting to be an old lady, I rallied and decided, fuck it. I'll never lose my attitude. Mammy hasn't, my grandmother didn't, I won't either. And I've passed this along to Jenn and Corinne, with Liz being the rarest and handiest budding curmudgeon of them all. It's all relative.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Maaaaac Attack!

Best Quote I Heard All Day

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith.—Steve Jobs

As a geek and a very early Mac user—I began with one of the very first 512K Mac Plus models in 1984, right after the Lisa—my segue into the land of Billy Gates and PCs was an event over which I had no control. In 2000, when I left the land of magazine publishing where Macs reigned supreme and went over to the Dark Side to become a tech writer, I was tossed kicking and screaming into a PC world.

As I journeyed through the tech world, I found that I wasn’t alone in my disdain for Microsoft—most developers really hate Windows, despise Vista, and love the Mac operating system or Open Source. Linux is big, too. (Of course, being a SharePoint administrator and architect does rather tie me to Billy. But SP is arguably the best thing that ever came out of Microsoft.)

I caved and bought a Dell desktop and laptop, sadly dumping my old Mac G3. It’s been almost seven years since I’ve touched a Mac. Well, huzzah. I bought a MacBook. It’s almost better than sex. I did this entry on the Mac and while it's a bit fucked up, I'll get back into the swing of OS X soon enough.

Blog Redesign

My boss Rick, who as the Web Team Leader, gets to use a Mac, showed me how to use my Mac to redesign my blog.

After almost 7 years, I’ve about had it with Blogger. Because I use Blogger for the page layout and other stuff but I publish my entries to my own domain,, Blogger won’t allow me to use widgets. And I have to hard-code anything I want to change on the template.

So over the course of the next month or so, I’ll be working on a completely new look. I’m thinking I’ll debut it on the blog’s 7th anniversary.

Book Acquisitions

I’ve been on a binge lately. Well, for me. I am so incredibly sick of seeing the shitload of how-to-knit books (I’m tempted to do a count of how many how-tos are in print), it’s always a pleasure to find some good books that presume you know your shit to some degree.

There’s been four additions to my library lately: Cheryl Oberle’s Knitted Jackets, The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques, French Girl Knits, and Pretty in Punk. You know who'll benefit from the last title. All were worth every penny but The Essential Guide is unquestionably the most comprehensive book on the subject that I've ever read. It covers all color knitting, including working with hand-dyed yarns. That discussion alone is worth buying the book.

I have an extensive library but few how-to reference books. My preferred books for that category is the Vogue Knitting book and all of Maggie Righetti’s books. I own Principles of Knitting but never use it. It’s a ponderous tome and frankly, grossly overwritten and opinionated. I understand that June Hiatt has been updating it but I’ve heard that rumor for three years now.

Need to Know

I’ve managed to muddle along for years using four cast-ons: long tail, provisional, cable, and knitted-on. I don’t feel I need to learn yet another cast-on. The Double SwitchBack Rustic Arcadian cast-on ain't in my playbook. These four fill the bill.

Decreases? Well, those are actually more limited in the number of methods than increases. I never decrease on the edge of anything. But you know that, don’t you.

In lacework, I will make a judgment call on how I decrease. Still, decreases are always variations that are worked within the same number of stitches—if you have to decrease 2 sts in a lace pattern, you can either slip 1, knit 2 together and then pass the slipped stitch over, knit 3 together, or knit 2 together, knit 1 and pass the 2 into 1 dec’d stitches over it. With decreases, it’s always a matter of how the finished decrease looks that will determine your choice. You don’t have to use what the designer has chosen if you prefer another method. I often change my decrease methods to improve the look.

Increases are another story. I collect 'em. Depending upon the stitch pattern, you often must use a specific increase method. This is driven by the way the stitch pattern is formed and how the increase is blended into the pattern.

Bind-offs? I have a couple up my sleeve, as it were.

The sum total of my knowledge could fill a short book. Which is why I would never bother writing a how-to. It's getting tiresome to see yet another of these appear on the scene. I trashed my how-to book three years ago because I didn't want to waste my time or anyone else's by rehashing the same old shit.

My Writing Shit

Speaking of books, mine continue apace. I've put Rock Sox to one side because the other book has become far more meaningful to me. Suffice it to say that I am following advice Shannon Okey gave me awhile back, advice that I put aside and then reconsidered. I will be asking the Punk Princess to do the cover. Liz is a talented artist and the one person I can be sure will come through for me.

Most of my friends have seen this picture and are probably sick of looking at it, but this is Liz at her induction into the National Art Honor Society last December, with one of her pieces in back of her. She was almost 10 when I first started writing this blog and long-time readers have watched her grow up on these here pages. She's her Gangsta Gram's girl, for sure. Rare, handy, with a wicked sense of humor.