Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mr. Asshole Halloween

Every year stupid Halloween sneaks up on me in an annoying and predictable way.

I usually decide sometime in the middle of the summer, during a random moment of inspiration, what I'm going be for Halloween. Then I'll scream "That's it!" from the couch (I'm usually lying on the couch when this happens) and will repeat it over and over until Bubba gives up and asks me what is "it". At which point I will laugh mysteriously and tell him that I know what I'm going to be for Halloween as though it were the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, which it is not. Then he will go back to what he was doing like I'd said nothing at all, meanwhile pretending that I am the normal wife he once fantasized that I was even though it's pretty obvious to everyone that I'm a kook.

I'll admit, the fact that I have these yearly exclamations is kind of weird since I really don't like Halloween that much aside from the Mad Candy Eating and then the In Between Trick or Treaters Candy Eating and then Leftover Candy Eating and eating a hundred cupcakes at work because they have orange frosting that you can only get at Halloween, hello!

Anyway, this summer when I was watching Rob & Big (which, have you seen this show because if you have not, please go look at this right now and then come back and laugh with me because it is my favorite and you should love it, too.) I had my Halloween epiphany during a Wendy's commercial.

Hazah! I will be a Wendy's person! Not, "I will be Wendy" herself, but a Wendy's person - someone who is "Wendy's - That's Right!" which you know they are because they suddenly appear with the Wendy hair while everyone else remains normal.

Oh yes, this is the perfect costume. I get to wear all my normal clothes and makeup (meaning no super uncomfortable shoes, ill-fitting or weather inappropriate outfit or probably poisonous makeup) AND I get to wear a wig which is the only thing in the Halloween store I'm ever interested in. Just find me a fun wig and I'll be happy. I'll build my whole costume around it - except I don't have to because it IS the costume.


See, now you know why I had to exclaim it so dramatically. Because it is obviously the most awesome costume ever. The perfect combo of great, timely character AND super low maintenance and comfortable costume.

I am/was a genius.

Then I had an unfortunate run-in with reality.

I ordered the wig way back at the beginning of October when I thought that "geez, I have SO much time before Halloween gets here I'm going to be super prepared and NOT scramble around in the broken bin at that Halloween store at the 11th hour by getting everything squared away way in advance."

It was a great moment that I was very proud of and made me feel like I beat Halloween at its own evil game for once.

Not so.

As soon as I clicked "buy" I got an email that said "out of stock". Touche, Halloween. Touche.

But then I got a message that said, "Will arrive by 10/22". Ha! Score one for me.

And then 10/26 rolled around and I called the wig place who told me, "Sorry, back-ordered again. Oh, and so sorry we didn't call you. We weren't sure you needed it for Halloween."


A bright red, "Clown Red" to be specific, wig with bangs and braided pig tails with ribbon ties? Is this what all those balding men seeking wigs are buying these days to cover their shiny noggins? Because it looks so natural? Just stop your lying.

Anyways - in case you lost count there - that was the match point in Halloween's court. And I'm sorry if that doesn't make any sense as I'm not a fan of tennis but whatever it means that Halloween beat me again and there I was back at zero with five days until Halloween at the most Halloween celebratingest company in the whole wide world -DAMN.

But, ho HO, Mr. Asshole Halloween - I had a backup costume lurking in the depths of my evil genius mind. And all I needed was a red with white polka dots bandanna which I'd seen at Michael's so far back in the day that I knew it wouldn't be there anymore but I still raced over there just in case and it was gone. Boo.

No worries though, I found it on Saturday at Asshole Hancock Fabrics while I was there buying all of their cheap and fabulous fleece despite all the mean store clerks yelling at me and now I'm properly outfitted to Halloween enough of my ass off at work so that I appear acceptably excited about a holiday I believe should be reserved only for children under the age of ten.

And, no, I'm not dressing up my dog for Halloween. Just in case you were about to be the one hundredth person to ask me that while simultaneously making gaw-gaw noises at Jada and trying to feed her chocolate cupcakes. She will only be wearing her normal backpack filled with enough candy to get me through the day so that I don't kill anyone or their shameful Chihuahua dressed as a hotdog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


You might remember my hot date with the dudes at the fly fishing store.

It was spicy - Gore-tex, sticky rubber, straps, laces...they told me how small and rare a creature I was. They were excited to dress me. It was all very self-serving yet awesome and I bought a lot of high-end special for women fishing gear with my "oh, you're too kind" voice.

Then I went home and pined for it. It all had to be ordered from the far off fishing land where women cast actively alongside their mens rather than here where women apparently just stay home and nag their husbands about all the "Damn fishing" they're doing instead of spending time with their families or whatever.

This was something of a conversation piece for them and the reason, as they tell it, one guy doesn't have a girlfriend and the other guy never gets to fish even though he runs a fishing shop.

Tortured lives.

Anyhoo, my waders and boots arrived a few short (long) weeks later and, despite the near 3-digit temps and lack of AC in my way-old house, I immediately came home from the shop and put on my whole rig so that I could pretend I was fishing in my living room while attempting to also sweat through Gore-tex from the inside out.

Yes. I agree. My life is verrrrrrrrrrry glamorous.

Then, sadly, I realized that my calendar was booked solid for about two months and I wasn't going to be able to put on my waders for anything more meaningful than the mandatory fashion show for Bubba any time soon.


All the fabulous lady-specific fishing gear and not a single free day to put it on and go stand in a river. *Sad* I felt like a big loser taking my brand new and extra fancy gear out to the garage just to fold it up and put in the fishing tote for future use. Like getting a new convertible and just parking it in the garage because it's raining out. I believe I said goodnight to my waders three times before I finally shut the lid.

That was two months ago.

This weekend was the first time I was actually able to break the seal on my new boots and waders in a setting that did not involve hardwood floors or pretend casting over the back of the couch.

Out on the river I went! Fully rigged and ready to catch some shrubs and sunken tree trunks!

And oh the childish glee and excitement that comes from freely and, without fear of bone-chilling dampness, striding out into a rushing stream/river without worrying "OMG are my pants getting wet" because HA HA you are wearing waterproof pants that go up to your armpits. I had a brief moment of "what am I doing" when I first stepped out into the water, trying not to splash and all, but that quickly gave way to "hey! look at me! I can walk way out until the water's all the way up here and wait a minute this river is moving kinda fast and SHIT I better walk back toward the shore a bit", etc.

In sum, it was kick ass.

But I'll save you the suspense; I didn't catch anything - technically. I did get a couple bites - but because I am a novice loser, I wasn't fast enough to set the fish and, therefore ended up landing nothing more than a very annoying log which I eventually marched over to (thank you waders for going all the way up to my armpits) and relocated to a faraway place so far downstream that I wouldn't possibly be able to cast to it.

See, sometimes it pays to be lame.

My big glory moment came when I got a fish on hook and yanked part of the way out of the water. Then it got wise to my beginner-esque shenanigans and hopped back into the river from whence it came. I spent the rest of the day trying to lure him (or, really, any other fish retarded enough to approach my fly) back out so that I could go home not feeling like a very overdressed swimmer, but it was not to be.

However, I'm holding on to that one shiny moment (I remember *exactly* what that fish's silver belly looks like) as justification for buying the extra fanciest gear because *obviously* I need it for my very professional level fishing exploits. You can't just be barely catching fish all day in run-of-the-mill waders and low-end boots without the stickiest rubber soles can you?

No. No you cannot.

And you can't really be tripping over your own stupid feet (and a big pointy rock) in sub-par gear before you dive backward into the river trying desperately not to get your sleeves wet per orders from your experienced fisherfriend if you're not wearing the best of the best. That would be silly.

So, that's that. I went for a nice swim in my waders (for the record though - no water got IN the waders, so I consider that a success) this weekend for the very first time and it was fab. Next time I hope to reel in an actual fish so that I have a photo of me with a fish rather than me with the car.

When I am wearing waders I feel happy.
(FYI: I have hair, but it's a ponytail under my hat where I can't catch it with my very talented casting.)

Monday, October 22, 2007


When I was in Italy last, a good portion of a fun side-trip to the mountains revolved around finding castagne - chestnuts.

It was fall, we were in the mountains, we had access to an open fire so, of course, why wouldn't we want to roast some chestnuts on it? You see.

We went on a trek. An epic and unfulfilling trek where I learned that produce delivery days vary from town to small Italian town and trying to find produce as seasonal and bizarre as chestnuts on an off-day was a laughable idea. This was evidenced by the looks of sarcastic disbelief on the faces of store clerks when we asked them if they had any chestnuts, on this the day of no produce.

This is also when I learned the word, "Giovedi". As in, "No! Non abbiamo castagne! E' Giovedi!" As in, "No! We don't have chestnuts! It's Thursday!"

Oh, well obviously. How silly of us. Forgetting that Thursdays are the international holiday of No Chestnuts.

Anyway, their tone implied that we must be out of our damn minds to:

A. Think they'd have chestnuts on a Thursday, and

B. Not know that in this minuscule mountain town produce day was, perhaps, Friday, and they'd be out of everything on a Thursday, obviously you idiots.

I would have just taken this as another intricacy of the Italian world and their sarcastic tones as an affront to my obvious American know-nothingness, except that my fabulous native hosts were just as taken aback by the whole thing. Like, how are we to know that there's no produce on Giovedi in this teensy town? What, do we all have countrywide produce schedules in our back pocket at all times?

To quote my wise Italian friend, "Boh."

Anyway, we ended up sans chestnuts but in the presence of a Brontosaurus steak and a lot of wine and bizarre liquor of an origin I can't recall, so it all worked out and none of us went blind.

And I told you all of that to tell you this, I went fishing on Saturday and on my hike up from the stream, encountered my very first productive chestnut tree. Well, actually, Bubba first found the chestnuts by picking up something big and bulbous off the ground and going, "Dude. What the hell is THAT do you think?"

To which I said, very knowledgeably thankyouverymuch, "That, my love, is a chestnut."

And it was! (I was actually not 100% sure. But, like, what else could it have been, right?)

It wasn't long before I was grabbing them off the trees and ever-so-satisfyingly peeling back their bumpy skins from the shiny nut inside. Really, so fun. I thought about it a lot as I stood in the river up to my waist and caught not a damn thing all day long.

The trees are a little Dr. Seuss-ish with their long gangly nekkid branches dangling these big pear-shaped whatthehellarethoses. I didn't laugh right at the trees, but they were a little silly compared to the Regal Chestnut Tree picture I've had in my head since elementary school. Something about the circumstances of every chestnut tree in my Scholastic Reading library had them pegged as these big mythical Sycamore-esque beings rather than these squat, awkward pear danglers.

Again, whatever, it was a fun surprise and I picked half a sack full (see, those grocery totes come in handy even when I'm not fighting with the cashier at Safeway) to do something with when I got home. I didn't know *what* that something would be until I got home and flipped open this month's issue of Sunset and found this recipe for chestnut soup right in there.


Yes. I plan these things. I am in sync with the earth's rhythms. I find mystifying produce (note: it was NOT Thursday) and the world provides a recipe.

Woooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeooooooooo ~ mysterious.

I'm just glad the recipe cropped up since I was worried I was going to have to explain what half a bag of chestnuts were doing in my car in two weeks when they started to go bad and Bubba was back there looking for a bottle of water or something.

Um...that's nothing. The dog did it.

And anyway, can chestnuts even go bad? I'm not sure. Either way, I think I'm going to attempt to make this soup even though I basically just met a chestnut two days ago and am not totally sure if they're ripe or ready to cook or about to give us the poisoning of our lives or whatever.



I'm pretty retarded.

So, I went home and made this soup. I peeled the nuts. I chopped all the vegs. I did the bit with the immersion blender. It really looked very good and nice all in the bowl with the sour cream and parsley fresh from the garden on top.

And it tasted like a horses ass.

Know why?

Those are not chestnuts. They are buckeye nuts.

Best part is that buckeye nuts are, in fact, POISONOUS TO HUMANS, as I found out as I searched the web for "how do I know when chestnuts are ripe" and found photos of chestnuts that looked nothing like the pear shaped dandies you seen above. I was starting to doubt the legitimacy of my chestnuts. They had been very bitter and much unlike the chestnuts I'd tasted in Italy only one year ago.

I started to wonder if I had perhaps stumbled upon some lost variety of California chestnut. What a find! But no, I had, in fact, stumbled upon a buckeye tree in full fruit-mode and had been charmed by a lustrous nut poking out from behind a smooth husk rather than the much referred to spiny husk mentioned in all the chestnut articles.


Well, if it isn't a chestnut, I wondered, what could it be? I searched my fingers to the bone looking for "smooth husked chestnut" and a variety of other nonsensical terms and somehow I managed to come upon an article about horse chestnuts with a tiny mention of the buckeye nut and its poisonousness.

At that moment I knew. It HAD to be a buckeye nut. Because that is the kind of person I am. The kind that gets all excited about "oh I'm going to live off the land and make dinner from found vegetation!" and then dies at the dining room table from an overdose of bitter almond cake or buckeye nut soup.

You may (or may not as the case may be) glad to know that Bubba and I only needed one small taste of the soup to know that it was 100% inedible despite the pleasing aroma and how nice it looked in the bowl. We dumped it and the leftie over part still in the pot and made for the remains of the Sunday night dinner I prepared without any death defying ingredients.

And then I went to the Internet. Why, oh why, I take chances with random found nuts rather than just go five feet down the hall to the office to look it up on The Internets is really beyond me. Bubba says it's adventure. I say it's at least mainstream stupidity.

Either way, we're alive, not hungry (wuv you left over pot roast and old soup from last week) and better educated on what IS and IS NOT a chestnut and buckeye tree.

On the bright side, my whimsical imaginings of The Regal Chestnut Tree have been restored since it looks like this in real life and not like the tree you see above.

See, I know some things aren't right when I see them. I'll just endeavor to keep my deciding skills to my eyeballs rather than my tastebuds. That way we don't have to go out and get purple sheets and matching Nikes.

What? Too soon?

Friday, October 19, 2007

The best timing...so far

Baby Bolero
Yarn: Blue Sky Organic Cotton Yarn, Sage
Needles: US 8 circular, Tapestry needle
Pattern in OneSkein, Leigh Radford

I started a Baby Bolero sweater from the OneSkein book a few weeks ago when I realized that everyone I knew was pregnant.

I figured I'd get started on a project that I could hopefully replicate in different colors fast enough to keep time with all the babies showing up.

So far I'm on track to keep up with at least the babies currently brewing. Although it appears there will be more babies and I'll fall behind my baby sweater making schedule since every single day someone new tells me they are pregnant or "trying" or implies some other forthcoming baby situation that requires hand knit recognition.

Sure, I could go to their registries for gifts, but I don't know what any of that crap is and feel weird ordering boob cup attachments for breast pumps that are going to be touching my friend's naked tatas.

I'd rather knit.

Maybe they'll hate me because I'm doing that ignoring of the ever-precious registry thing that everyone gets all pissed off about (not that I bitched about this a lot when I got married and people gave us ugly vases instead of the white plates I'd registered for or anything - I'm just saying) but the only things that ring any bells on there are car seats and Butt Paste (obviously awesome) and most of the time these things are either wicked pricey or already taken, respectively.

Sidenote: I did come across a friend's registry recently that had both of these items miraculously unpurchased so, probably due to the initial shock, got both and tried not to look directly at the nippley gadgets in the category above the Butt Paste. Really, people, what happens to your boobs and asses? Nevermind. Let's not discuss this.

Anyway, screw your weird registries of plastic shapes I don't recognize - I'm making baby sweaters. That's not bad, right? I mean, I assume babies do not like being cold any more than I do (one could argue that my Ugly Librarian Sweater is just a huge fugly adult version of these sweaters with a zipper) and a sweater would be a practical gift for the hundreds of people having babies in the winter months.

And, apparently my No Rest for the Childfree knitting schedule is working because I got an invite to a good friend's out of state shower happening this weekend and had, TAH-DOW, a freshly hand-knit and adequately blocked Baby Bolero ready to wrap and send.

Oh yes. It was a grand moment in my life of searching for efficiency and uniqueness. Usually I settle for being one or the other: showing up well-rested with a store-bought gift OR showing up with yarn in my hair and bags under my eyes from staying up most of the night to finish the very cute and personal hooded baby blanket (or whatever) craftily wrapped in tissue and ribbon with cute Care Instructions on recycled paper pinned to the corner.

It is a rare and glorious day when I get to give a handmade gift that doesn't try to kill me in the process. And aside from the puny eyelet pattern that I had to rip out 10 times (really, at least 10) because I refused to stop drinking my wine long enough to decode the not-hard seven line pattern, this was a pretty fast and easy little sweater.

We will not be talking about the one hundred ends I had to weave in after assembling all the parts because I think we all know that sucks so I don't need to rehash it even though I have plenty of swears I could use to describe the process of thinking one is done "weaving in ends" when one is, in fact, only halfway there. And I love that it just says something like, "BO. Weave in ends." like it takes five seconds when in fact it takes like two hours, but you know.

For those of you about to take yarn to needle for this pattern, I will share a few of my personal shortcutting notes:
  • Changing from size 8 - 9 needles at random intervals per the pattern instructions seemed like a tedious waste of time and I did not do it. My sweater does not look any different from those who have done it this way and I now feel vindicated in my rebellion. I encourage the same descention.
  • Despite what others have told me, this pattern did not leave enough yarn left over from the One Skein to make a baby hat. I've decided these people are all liars and that my decision not to change needles had no impact on the amount of leftover yarn and I do not care to hear otherwise.
  • "Provisional cast-on", as is indicated in the first line of the pattern, is, I decided, a made up method of casting on that I ignored in lieu of my normal casting on method because figuring it out was going to mean digging out my Vogue Knitting book that was all the way in the office and I didn't have that kind of time nor did I want to be separated from my beloved couch. It may very well be a real thing, but I still haven't looked it up because my normal casting on method (maybe it's a provisional cast-on? Who knows?) worked fine and I was able to retrieve the "waste yarn" they speak of without incident. So, feel free to blow it off, too, if you like to live on the edge or also don't like to leave your couch unsat upon.
That's about all the wisdom I can impart on such a small and simple pattern, but if you want to read more of my ramblings, find me on ravelry and this pattern in my Projects.

I'll probably post photos of a few more of these sweaters since I have another one in the works right now (started and finished the body last night - woo fast!) and another skein waiting in the bin.

So, ya'll, if you're pregnant right now, my friend and having a baby in any month other than July or August, expect a sweater similar to the one pictured above. And for godssake, take care of your T&A and don't tell me about it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

InStitches September/October: Done+


It is a good thing that all forces conspired for me to sit down and work on this bag because OMG there was a lot of tedious BS that went into it and had I had even one other thing I could have been doing, I probably would have abandoned this project in the bin and just let you all call me a big loser.

For one thing there was all the quilting. I have never used so much thread to make such a small project. I must have used miles of it. And some of it in the form of useful stitches! So much just gets ripped out and wadded up on the floor or left clinging to an inappropriate place on my clothes (thread pasties, anyone?). It is a sad but amusing waste that keeps Bubba entertained while I yell swears at the sewing machine/pattern/rotary cutter.

And oh, COME ON, how many pages of instructions were there? Um, so many. I almost passed away when I turned the page a second time only to find out there were a full two pages of instructions left in the pattern. What tha? Are we sewing housing complex onto this bag or something? So, so many words.

And, oh, last but not least, all the hand-sewing in all the land just waiting all quietly at the end of the pattern like some feral cat ready to spring out and attack your face and infect you with gnarly kitty cat germs. Real nice, people. Go to the trouble of writing ten pages of friggen pattern instructions only to leave attaching the liner to you and your trusty hand-sewing needle. I will put this out there one more time:

This is work a machine should be doing.


Thank you. That is all I ask.

Ironically, I think this is the nicest thing I've ever sewn. Have I said that before? I can't remember. Either way, I'm resetting the clock now because, despite the full-blown hassling of this pattern, the bag turned out pretty nice. Like, to the point where I'm not ashamed to show you pictures of it from all angles, not just the angle that doesn't reveal all my measuring and cutting and sewing mistakes.

Oh, what? Like you just randomly pick an angle from which to shoot your projects because OH they're all so perfect? I don't believe you. No, I choose to believe that everyone, like myself, finds the one angle from which it appears you made zero mistakes instead of showcasing the part of the whatever where the seams don't line up and, damn it, why is the quilt batting sticking out right there?

So, for the first time ever, shots from every angle of this, my most satisfyingly not heinous project to date: (Meanwhile, please don't make mean jokes about the fabric matching. That is not my strength and I readily admit to sucking at it.)

Side 1: Notice the normal rectangular shape.

Side 2: Notice again, the normal rectangular shape.

Side 3: Notice that the zipper seams to be 100% attached with no uneven stitching or errant thread dangling this way or that.
Side 4: Notice again how it all looks according to pattern without any alarming bulges.This is the same as Side 1 and is just a glory shot. Nothing looks fucked up! Woo!

Now, I know that there is a rather obvious lack of patchwork on my Patchwork Bag, but I assure you that I did as much patchworking as is physically possible for me without turning out a big pile of patchworked crap. Ok. I'm just not good at matching fabrics, measuring or cutting to size. I didn't even get to sewing together the original (fugly) patchwork pieces due to the horrible derailment of the project by that point, but I know it would have been awful and just gone on to prove how ill-equipped I am at the patchworking business.

Anyway, since I'm so enlightened about my own lack of talent with patchworking, I decided to simplify the whole thing and take to heart the part in the pattern where she says something to the effect of, "Create your patchwork pattern in whatever way that suits you as long as the final piece measures whatever X whatever."

So I did. I sewed five strips of fabric together and called it patchworking. Call me a loser, but I'm more pleased with this than I was with the patchwork business I tried to create before.

And I did, for the record, sit down and hand-sew (loathe) the lining into the bag. But I set that part aside to do later in the evening while I was desperately searching for a way to distract myself from the pending race. It did the trick for sure - I focused intently on making straight even stitches instead of agonizing over the looming 13 mile run.

Now that this thing is finished and I'm more than mildly pleased with it, I've decided that I can make it, and its awkwardly long and boxy shape, into a perfect something for a birthday coming up in December. The idea came to me as I was stitching in the lining (by hand, remember the pain and sorrow) and trying to figure out for what this bag's bizarre proportions could possibly be used. Bubba suggested I use it with my other fabric shopping bags and just present it at the grocery store as "The Bread Bag and please don't squeeze the bread when you put it in its proper case right here, thank you."

I have decided to go in another direction. When I've created it, I will revisit the topic here and I promise it will be a shorter post.

Anyway, Donk, thank you for talking me through this project (Finny - you will love it, I'm sure of it!), my race (Finny - Stop freaking out - you are going to rock it!) and just life in general.

Wuv you!


P.S. I have an idea for the November/December project.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Well then, I ran and I finished. Not as fast as I originally planned (unfortunately I added my predicted finish time when I was running 10 minute miles OH so long ago and before injury), but I'm not hurt or blistered or all that hobbly today.

It's a nice feeling, you know, to not die from doing something you signed your own self up for.

To quote a wise man (Bubba), "This was your big stupid idea."

But I won't lie and say it was super easy. I mean, it's still 13.1 miles of running. Let's not kid ourselves about that. Running, for any distance, is never just easy like Sunday morning. I have just discovered that when considering distance running, there are different activities that coincide with the mile markers.

Like, miles 1-3 always suck ass. In an "I don't understand how I'm supposed to go on for 13 miles if I can barely barely breathe without snarfling or set a pace that feels right" kind of way. But I knew this. I have never gone on a run where the first 2-3 miles weren't just a total pain in the ass. This is when I always doubt that running beyond 3 miles is actually possible or going to happen.

Miles 4-6 are usually my best. I tend to check my watch a lot at the beginning of any run waiting to pass the 30 min mark because I know that beyond that, for at least a few miles, I'll be in my comfort zone where I breathe in a regular way while still running at normal speed (read: not running in that super slow way where bystanders are thinking, "She knows she's not running right? Because that is not running.") I also spend this time trying to situate myself in a pack of not-gross people so that in later miles I won't spend my extra energy hating their American flag shorts, being grossed out by their inexplicably bare cellulite or baffled by their protruding beer bellies - all while we run the same speed and I wonder how I got lumped in with all the weirdos. And, also, what is wrong with me (has my ass jiggling increased to the point where I can only belong with the other gelatinous runners?) and I should be ashamed of myself for thinking mean thoughts about people who are at least as equipped to run this race as I am.

Miles 7-10 are my slow and steady miles. This is when my speed (however minimal in the first place) takes a nose dive. I settle into my "survival" pace. I start to pick landmarks in the distance to focus on. I do a lot of checking in with my parts to make sure that there's no blistering, aching or stabbing pain going on. I look longingly for the "Sports Drink Ahead" signs and I make up names for other runners to keep myself entertained.

Miles 10-12 are when I put those perfectly appropriate names to good use. This is where I came to know (and avoid) "Farmer-Blow", "Big Farts", "Someone Give That Woman a Tshirt", "Bitch Who Talks on the Cell Phone", "Walks and Sprints But Don't Worry Because I Always End Up Ahead of Her", "Flag Shorts" (yes, he was there) and "Nice Dreads". I have to occupy myself so that I don't think about the fact that my legs each weigh two hundred pounds and if I stop or slow down even more (not possible) that I'll probably never start running again and will get to the finish line dead last.

The last mile. The mile between exhaustion and relief. It is a gloriously desperate mile. It is the mile where I stop seeing "Farmer Blow" and start imagining the finish line banner everywhere I look. There are more spectators over the last mile and, thank god, because this is where I'm most likely to bring shame upon myself by collapsing in a gooey heap of giving-up, which I will not do with so many people watching.

It is an interesting method of self-preservation, my vanity. At the end of the day, I'm a very self-involved and vein individual that prefers solitude when behaving disgracefully and will continue to behave appropriately as long as there are people watching.

Meanwhile, I ignore the much faster runners who are long since finished and strolling lazily along the sidelines with their finishers medals, wearing flip-flops looking all, "Hey, we already finished and don't you wish you didn't slow down at mile 7 because you could be me right now eating a plain bagel and trying not to vomit."

It is an emotional mile and one where I'm acutely aware of the look on my face and my posture because now is when I know spectators are looking for the tortured faces of people who never should have tried to run a half marathon. I'm determined to look like I meant to do this. I put on my best, "I'm totally loving this and living in the glory of the moment!" face while I try to figure out which of my internal organs is shutting down.

13.1. And, btw, when did a tenth of a mile hurt so bad? Geez man. Seeing that big 13 mile marker and then realizing that I had to turn a corner and hit the gas for .1 miles to the finish line really tried to kill me. I was determined to do The Big Finish to the finish line but I'm sure it didn't look like a Big Finish to anyone but me. I'm sure it looked more like a "Hey, she's still breathing, that's something..." kind of finish to most spectators, but inside I felt like I was sprinting. While dragging tugboats behind me.

Crossing that finish line was the best feeling ever. Well, not as good as *walking* around aimlessly looking for an orange wedge and a bottle of water with my wobbly legs, but pretty fucking good. Also very good was managing to see Bubba and The Dog at the starting line, Mile 4, Mile 10 and the finish line cheering and wagging, respectively since I know that they probably traveled as far as I did just to make that happen.

And then I had Celebratory Cheeseburger and Race Fries to restore my salt balance and allow me to properly absorb the water in my Sprite.

See, I'm very technical.

P.S. I am signed up for another, albeit shorter, race.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Running update: Knitting instead

Baby Bolero
Yarn: Blue Sky Organic Cotton Yarn, Sage
Needles: US 8 circular, Tapestry needle
Pattern in OneSkein, Leigh Radford

I'm trying not to think (read: stress the hell out) about the race on Sunday by doing some first class procrastinating. Apparently my life has turned into one big Do Whatever You're Not Supposed To Be Doing fest.

I should have been working on my InStitches project; quilting its many sides (who knew rectangles had one hundred sides?), patchworking its many pieces, handsewing its stupid lining, etc. But I'm not. Because I can't sit on the couch and sew, and couch sitting has been my priority during Taper Week.

So, instead of sewing, I've been knitting Baby Bolero sweaters for all my pregnant friends. The pattern is fine, despite its annoying CO With Waste Yarn this and Remove to Stitch Holder that going on every four fricken lines. I think I just have unrealistic expectations of every pattern in the OneSkein book and those expectations always lead to disappointment. Specifically, I expect that any pattern that uses only one skein or less of yarn should take, like, no time at all, which is obviously not true since I've been working on this sweater for most of the week and it still has no sleeves.

This pattern has taken me the better part of my evening couch sitting this week and I haven't even sewn on the dumb sleeves yet. And it's not like the time is being spent knitting feverishly an enormous torso or big ass sleeves or a king size duvet or anything. I mean, the sweater is positively tiny. It's for a newborn, so, you know, it's real small.

Of course, I did spend one evening after a dinner consisting mostly of four glasses of wine, knitting and frogging and knitting and frogging a hundred times the stupid seven (7) line eyelet pattern for the back of this thing because I couldn't get it to look like the picture. And let me just say that this eyelet pattern is really not hard at all. It's like a couple of YOs and you're done. Except that mine looked like crap about 10 times and I was getting woozy trying to YO and sit up straight on the couch.

Funny how when I returned to the scene the next night I was able to rip through the Scary Eyelet Pattern in, like, a flash and Blah-DOW it was done. Oh.

Note for futures: Awesome Cabernet and Easy Eyelet Pattern do not mix. Perhaps that is why this pattern does not include a cup holder. Who knows?

Anyway, I'm glad that I can blame the repeated failure (but eventual success, yay) on the wine because I was going to have a hard time going on with this whole Finny "Knits" thing if I couldn't manage a friggen seven line eyelet. I will just go ahead and say it, I'd much rather be called a drunk than a bad knitter.

During a moment of shiny optimism I went online and ordered two more skeins of this nice yarn so that I could continue torturing myself with two more boleros. Because if picking up 67 stitches while carefully removing waste yarn and then 20 more from the stitch holder and 1200 more from the BO edges doesn't make you crazy the first time, doing it two more times will definitely seal the crazy juices right in.

Tomorrow I will be tackling the remaining 600 steps in the Patchwork Handbag pattern while I sit on my dead ass and REST as I've been so instructed by my personal running coach. And, at this moment, I may or may not be taking in my pre-race carbs in the form of Nutella on a toasted hot dog bun.

Don't you judge me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cleaning Lady

I was going to blog about my Should I Hire a Cleaning Lady dilemma a couple weeks ago but was ashamed that I was going to hire a lady to clean my house.

It made me feel like a failure and lazy and like a big spoiled bitch who doesn't want to mop, which is what I am.

And I didn't want that leaking out onto the blog because what would you all think of me sitting up on my high horse with someone else cleaning my floors while I went on and on about the fabulous pedicure socks I just made for myself?

You would hate me and think mean things about me and it would tarnish this spotless image I've created in my own head of the Woman Who Can Do All Things while also maintaining a spotless house that isn't covered in animal or human hair.

Then I gave in to the dilemma and said, "Look, the house is all covered in hair and you can't do all the things you think you can AND keep the house hair-free so just call the nice Cleaning Lady and solve all your problems because I can't stand you or the hair anymore."

For a brief moment, I sighed with relief. The Cleaning Lady was going to come save me. Save me from the hairs. Save me from the evil evil mopping. Save me from throwing myself headlong into Bay Area traffic.

I was momentarily hopeful that I wouldn't suffocate myself with a Swiffer cloth during my third Swiffering of the day.

That hope has since dissolved. And do you know why? It isn't because I found peace in a bottle of Windex and the cleaning of my own house, let me assure you.

As it turns out, it is not the hiring of a Cleaning Lady that I have to be ashamed of - it's my inability to effectively hire a Cleaning Lady. Because, apparently, Cleaning Ladies lead some pretty fast-paced and irretrievably busy lives where they are unreachable 23 hours of the day despite having multiple phone lines which they never answer.

They're goddamned elusive. I call, I contend with bad connections, random hang-ups, not-so-good command of the language, bizarre schedules, answering machines with no outgoing message, voicemail systems that haven't been set up, the inability to return calls, etc. The list goes on. It's a communication nightmare.

I should have given up by now.

I should have decided that having a Cleaning Lady who can't even return a phone call would be a bad person to rely on for any services, much less those which require unsupervised house visits.

I should have come to terms with the squirty bottles under my sink and started scrubbing.

I should have been inspired by The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home book that I ordered as a gift for a friend.

But no.

No, it turns out that I really want to not clean so bad that I'm still trying to find the Cleaning Lady and get on her schedule because the thought of mopping a floor or Swiffering a hair or dusting a lamp or scrubbing the shower one. more. time. makes me want to throw up and then die.

I am harboring this very unhealthy dream that if I can just get a hold of The Cleaning Lady ONE SOLID TIME I will be able to set up an arrangement that will satisfy me for all time and result in a clean house forever. And then I can resume normal sleep patterns that don't include dreams about being trapped in a soapscummy shower.

So go ahead and be ashamed of me. I don't care anymore. I've lost my will to self-protect. I am an young able-bodied woman with no children who lives in a tiny ass house and, yet still, can't manage to live life and keep the house perfectly clean without seeking unreliable outside help that will no doubt cause more problems than it will solve.

I am prepared to be judged as the indulgent non-mopper that I yearn to be.

Note: For those of you about to comment on your Wonder Womanness -No one wants to hear about how you have a hundred kids and a petting zoo in your living room while you work full time and do air traffic control for Dullus while maintaining a sparkling clean house. I'll save you the time right now by reminding you that you are lying and can stow it.


I think I bitched loud enough for The Cleaning Lady to hear me (either that or the idle threat I left on her one functioning voicemail was more sincere sounding than I thought) because she left me two messages yesterday (that's right! I have a hundred phone numbers, too!) and then called me early this morning on my cell with a lot of important things to say. Specifically that she's sorry she's been hard to get a hold of (I'm paraphrasing, it was not that succinct) and that she definitely wants to come by and work out an arrangement and can she please OH PRETTY PLEASE come by on this Sunday afternoon to just look around and then set things up.

Um, ok. I suppooooooooooooose, that will be fine. I mean, I'll probably be hobbling since I will have just finished running 13.1 miles, but that will make my DIRE NEED for cleaning seem more genuine since I obviously wouldn't be able to push a mop in my condition.

Plus, if I seem ill at ease, she might understand why I've let the herds of hairballs alone to fight for dominance in every corner of my house.

P.S. You are all very awesome for taking my side and also not reminding me of what a failure I am for not ever wanting to clean our teensy tiny house when I'd rather be watching football, knitting anything, running amok or Flah Feeshin' with Bubba.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Running update: Counting down w/ mouth full

Injuring myself and having to rest the last two weeks of my training rather than do the 12 mile long run I was supposed to is not all it's cracked up to be.

I mean, yes, sitting on my ass is really fun. I am not in pain, the TV is close by and I don't have to dodge traffic. What's not to love? And when Bubba is home to entertain me from my prone position on the couch - all the better.

But he was out of town until Saturday and I was no longer in pain, so I ran. A short little who-gives-a-crap six mile run. A run that should have been like, "Meh, so I'll go for a little run and it'll be no biggie because, boh, it's only six stupid miles."

I have such a big mind mouth.

The run itself was fine. I mean, no pain anywhere (the miraculousness of which kept me entertained for nearly a mile), no resurfacing of my former choking/gasping for air breathing techniques of yore, no toothy dogs or malfunctioning iPods.

But oh, the strange sensation in my limbs about two hours later. Why are my legs so tired? Why are my hips sort of sore? DO MY FEET HURT?

"OMG. I've fallen out of shape."

"All that time I was training - waste."

"I might as well just forget about those double digit mile runs - they're gone now!"

"I am going to die."

I thought all of these thoughts at that moment and have been thinking them noisily ever since and it's very hard to sleep with all this noise. Case in point - I was up at 2:30am batting around the idea of going for a test run.

Yes, in the middle of the night I was thinking about getting up, putting on my running shoes and going for a Test Half Marathon just so I'd know, come race day, that I could do it.

I think another side effect of resting injured parts is a case of mild and sneaky insanity.

That little part of my mind that makes me see things to believe them is getting bigger and bigger. It says rude things like, "Well, if you haven't SEEN yourself run 13 miles, how do you KNOW you can do it? You don't. Sucka."

See? Rude.

So I am spending this week Tapering (read: eating carbs and not running a lot - so basically getting fat just in time to put on my stretchy pants) and crossing my fingers and barely sleeping and stressing out about the possible shame I am about to bring upon myself.

Let's not even get into the "predicted finish time" I put down back when I had just run a fluke 10 minute mile pace. I'm nervous that my whole corral is going to look at me and go, "Um, don't you belong in the Not a Chance corral with the other slow ass losers?"

Seriously, I think the hardest part of this race might be the mental stress stewing in my head. Forget ice packs after the race, I'm going to need a counselor.

Meanwhile I made Hot Dog Dinner last night to distract me from my upcoming demise. Because, really, if you're going to be a shameful loser, you should eat for the part.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pedicure socks and my secretive ways

Pedicure Socks
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, Teal
Needles: US 6 DPNs, Tapestry needle
Pattern on Knitty

Notice something different? That is me putting two rare things in the same post; photo of a finished knitted object (trying to stay truer to that whole Finny knits thing and all) AND I actually put the details of the project right there with the photo.

You know, because when I'm on someone's blog and I see photos of glorious projects that I suddenly MUST DO OMG THEY ARE SO AWESOME and then can't find the name of the project or what pattern it came from or geez man give me a hint about the yarn at least (!) - it pisses me straight off.

Meanwhile, I'm over here just willy nilly posting pictures of shit I knitted or sewed or whatever and never saying a peep about where it came from or if I even know what yarn I used and whathaveyou. All secretive like.

Um, I annoy myself.

But it's not like I realized this altruistically when I was sitting cross-legged on a sea cliff pondering my existence and thinking of ways I could bring my life into balance or anything. No. It was when I finally got off my dead ass and logged into Ravelry with the intent of actually
using it (more on this in a minute - I'm on a roll here) that I realized the lackluster and vague knitting existence I had been leading so far AND how awesome it is when you see pictures of things you want to make right now and HEY can actually click on the pretty pictures and get details with which you can make that whatever thing right now.

*Big moment of clarity and mild arousal*

Now, before I derail off into a HOW FUCKING AWESOME IS RAVELRY tirade, let us first contemplate the beauty of the finished pedicure socks.

And let's please also ignore the fact that although I'm wearing pedicure socks, I clearly haven't just come from getting a pedicure because oh my god how long have I been wearing this pink polish or what is left of it? Just, I know, so let's move on.

So, like I was saying last time, I've had this knitting project hanging around taunting me with its unfinishedness for over a year. One sock got done in a moment of productivity prior to my trip to Italy (where I did no knitting whatsoever despite my original sober intentions) and then the yarn/needles/sock/crumpled yarn band/old kleenex/sticky earplugs got dumped into the yarn bucket when I got home to await a future moment of ambition.

One year later, there I was - all ambitious. This was on Monday. By Tuesday evening I had finished the second pedicure sock (although we will not be comparing the two side by side because you know why) and ripped them onto my semi-chilly toes to get a look at how hot my feet were going to look coming home from the salon.

Then, obviously, I recoiled in horror when I saw my toenails and the fact they were still wearing the same polish from before our trip to Hawaii that was
three weeks ago. Shame.

Oh well, I guess I'm all primed and ready for a pedi for which I will bring my socks so that after they're done with all the mean scrubbing and clipping and buffing with a chainsaw, I can slide these babies on and walk out of the salon without cold winter feets. Sweet.

Now, to discuss Ravelry.

People, are you on this thing? I think you probably should be. It's pretty fancy. I totally can not do it justice in my own words because no swears accurately describe its awesomeness, but it's like this: (After requesting/receiving your invitation) You go there and organize your stash, tools, patterns, projects and
the best part: you can find new stashes, tools, patterns and projects that other people are doing in this great little collaborative environ. And, answer to my screaming prayers, I can search for patterns that use the exact yarn I have in my hot little hands.




For instance, I have two skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash, but OH WHAT WILL I MAKE FROM IT? Mmhhmm - I just type in Cascade 220 and ta da (!) there are 442 projects from which I can choose. Filter at will, too! Do I want to make a hat, sweater, something naughty (that's really a filter)?

Dude, huge.

Oh just go ahead and sound the dorky yarnmarm horn but I wish Ravelry were a real thing so I could hug it and twist its naughty nipples. It's rad.

It has inspired me with his greatness to go ahead and organize my stash (usually I'm such an orgo nerd, why is this so hard for me?) and then also to get moving on my WIPs and meanwhile try not to be too worked up about the fact that everyone in the whole wide Ravelry world seems to be doing a hundred complicated projects at once while all I am doing are tubes.

What can I say? I like tube-y things. And if you like tube-y things, or are doing the InStitches along with Kelli and I or knit things or crochet things or like to look at other people's stuff or join online fiber-type groups or just like to organize things, you might want to force your way into Ravelry.

If you get in there and want to find me or the InStitches group you can search for "finnyknits" and/or "institches", respectively.

I officially like it in there and yes, I said rad.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Updates across the board

Bubba is out of town again (sad) and it appears that his absence is making me extra productive since I don't have someone around grabbing my ass and entertaining me with hilariously accurate impressions of the Not-Nice Neighbors.

So today is chock full of updates on shit I managed to get accomplished with my ungrabbed ass (sad).

[Running Update]

I went for a run this weekend (with my fingers crossed, mind you) to test out the tenderness of my shin meat. I thought about it all week and was frankly a little stressed out about running and, potentially, finding out that my shin meat was not healed and, perhaps, even more painful than before. This would have been Big Scary since my race is in two weeks.


Thankfully my run went fine, all short 6 miles of it (I was planning to be on a 12 miler, but no), and I got home from an hour on the pavement without even a hint of sassiness in my shin meat.


Unfortunately, my knee took that as a sign that it should act up instead, so I enjoyed a few miles of mild tweaky stabbing that I'm sure will be a real joy when I'm trying to pound out 13.1 miles during the race. And since there's just not a lot I can do about that other than take it easy and not run a ton between now and the race, I'm going to try not to freak all out about it like I really want to.

Oh, and I bought new insoles for my running shoes since Zappos has chosen this one moment in time to stop fulfilling all my wildest online shopping fantasies (normally, I bow down to them as though they are the lord) and not have my size in my running shoes. Boo. However, the Triad insoles I got to compensate for the not-so-much-squishiness-left-in-my-shoes issue seems to have done at least part of the trick. No ankle pain, no shin meat pain, muted knee pain.

Good enough. I've resigned to being happy with the 11 mile run I completed before vacation and not focus on the fact that my knee may explode during the race.


[Garden update]

It is some spooky shit out there in the garden right now because the big crazy looking spiders have moved in and have built big webs that could catch the dog.

I'm glad they're there, because it means the environment in the garden is just that healthy and full-circle-ish and all, but reaching into the plants for late season tomatoes has gotten a little creepy for my tastes so I'm letting any fruit that isn't hanging outside the cages (ie not anywhere near the spiders/webs/things that could be construed as spiders or webs) get as ripe as it wants without me disturbing it.

I like to think that I'm "respecting the spider's right to build webs and sustain themselves in a safe environment" but really I don't want to feel their tiny prickly legs on my fingers when I think I'm picking a tomato.

Yyyyyyyyyyessssssssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Big shiver right there.

[InStitches update]

There was a short time (about an hour or so) when I thought I'd actually do the patchwork required for this project. I pretended, as I often do, that I could perform many of the tasks involved in patchwork even though I know I have ZERO actual talent or skill for it. Specifically, choosing appealing combinations of fabric and accurately cutting them out to form a cohesive and properly sized item.

I was not surprised when my optimism proved unfounded. First of all, let us check out how horrible these fabrics look together.

Wow. That's impressive even for me.

I'm almost glad that I can't measure and cut out patchwork pieces worth a damn because that would have been a shitshow of a patchwork piece if I'd managed to piece it all together. I think the world is safer having this piece never see the fully sewn light of day.

Let us now marvel at how horribly awry my measuring/cutting of clearly marked patchwork pieces went. Granted, I knew it was going to be a *little off* when I was cutting them out with scissors instead of using my rotary cutter (um, why does the blade get dull so fast? I hate this.), but this is just impressive. Even for me.

I won't lie - I threw it all out. Like, I knew it probably wouldn't work, and that I'd end up with a mess, but this was beyond even my own powers of imagination. And frankly, I was a little relieved. Giving up after the first side proved to be impossible meant that I wouldn't have to suffer through trying to piece together the other side of the pattern. Thus saving me a lot of screaming swears and throwing scissors.

Now the big challenge will be trying to find a fabric that complements the exterior fabric I've chosen for this project. And since we know how good I am at matching fabrics, we could still have a good laugh/cringe in our futures.


[Knitting update]

What? You're surprised there is one? We knit here on Finnyknits? What?

Yes, people, I actually have a future FO waiting in the wings. Without Bubba to make lewd comments and coax G&T out of my nose in front of the TV, I'm actually knitting something. And, *gasp*, I'm almost done with it.

I predict that tonight will be that special time when I say, "WOO! It's done! After all this time!"

This is actually a project I started, all optimistic-like, about a year ago when I was flying to Rome and had a 12 hour flight ahead of me. At the time (I'm trying not to laugh right now) I thought, "Hey, I'll make a couple pairs of these things and gift them at Christmas! I bet I can finish at least two pairs on the outbound flight alone!"

I am so funny.

Then I got on the plane, had a G&T with an Ambien back and passed out while trying to decode the complicated storyline of "The Devil Wears Prada". No knitting got done, needless to say. And, of course, no knitting happened in Rome since I was there with two of my favorite people in the whole wide world PLUS a lot of wine and the best food ever. And then I did an instant replay of my outbound trip when I got on the plane to come home, so the knitting stayed stowed in my carry-on bag taking up priceless space I could have used to hold important things like extra earplugs (when is there going to be an airline for newborn babies?).

I'll post pictures of the future FO knitting project soon, but you have to promise not to laugh when you see how small it is and how long it took me to finish, ok?