Friday, September 28, 2007

The Great-ish Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Dear Donk,


I saw that article in Sunset and thought of you and all the misbehaving fun we had on our New Mexico trip, too. What WERE we thinking running across that bridge in the pouring rain? In our flip flops and skirts, you know. Then it snowed and we got out right in it because, oh, I *had* to have a photo of our flip flopped feet in the snow.

Don't you think everyone thought we were locals?

And, hello, are all these magazine publishers, like, reading our minds/blogs or what? Trips to New Mexico, pumpkin EVERYTHING, bias tape sewing patterns and - what is this? - "In Stitches"? Coincidence? Hmmm? Dunno. But, I am clearly very modest and humble.

Meanwhile, I know what you mean about Monster Stewart Living - I'm letting my subscription run out. In my opinion, it's jumped the shark. I mean, do we need a whole section dedicated to copper pots? Neow.

I also do not need to see photos or read long boring ass articles about Martha moving house. As though *she*, herself, is actually doing any of the moving. Um, right. I don't need lectures on properly bubble wrapping creamware (do real people own this shit even?) from someone I doubt has unpacked a box in recent memory. It's all gotten very "No, really, I'm still a real person who loads the dishwasher! Seeeeeeeeee?" over there and, frankly, I'm not buying it. Plus the layout and photos seem dreary and ugly lately which just makes it harder to gloss over the boringness of it all.

I won't lie. I like pretty pictures.

And, while we're on the subject, I will also be letting my Shape, InStyle and Domino magazines run out because they are redundant, ridiculously full of stinky ads and dangerous vacation suggestions and clearly designed for people with decorating taste different than my own, respectively.

I'm sorry, but any magazine that presents renting a scooter in Rome as a viable transportation option for leisurely tourist shopping is just plain out of touch with reality. And I'm frankly doubtful that whomever penned the article has ever been to Rome, because if they had, they'd realize what an inane idea it would be for a tourist, or sane human being really, to rent a scooter with the intention of riding it through the narrow, crowded and lawless cobblestone streets of Rome, especially if they've just touched down at Leonardo da Vinci from some far off land that probably has driving laws. Having ridden in cars through those same streets and seeing the recklessness with which all drivers; automobile, motorino (scooter) and bicycle alike, conduct themselves - I wouldn't get involved with a scooter unless I was a single woman, the scooter was manned by a fabulously sexy Italian man, we both had helmets and it was the last day I expected to live. Which it would be, because I'd be getting on a scooter for a ride around Rome.

Anyway, there are a million other reasons that InStyle has been on the bubble with me, but this article tears it. Diss.

Shape is just the same information paired with different pictures of the same models doing the same exercises with different equipment in every issue. I'm also sure I don't need to be reminded, again, to drink lots of water, there's no real cure for cellulite and if you eat more calories than you burn then you will gain weight. This is truly one of those, if you've seen it once, you've seen it all, kind of things. Diss.

Domino is, well, not my gig. While I thought it was, during one brief flipping session during a boring and poorly attended "all-hands" meeting, it has turned out to be little more than a showcase of a lot of ugly crap I don't want in my house/on my body. Every now and then they hit on something vaguely groovy and the concept of the magazine seems cool, something about living with style with an undercurrent of "don't buy all your housewares from Potterybarn", but the execution always leaves me thinking, "If I ever see a room that looks like this, I will definitely throw up." Diss.

In the mean time, I will be keeping my subscriptions to Sunset and Craftzine and will be considering a subscription to Real Simple, even though I have proof that their subscription department is manned by retarded monkeys. Something to do with a gift subscription for my grandma that went terribly and inexplicably awry. I'll tell you later.

When did this turn into my Fall Magazine Review? I'm sorry - that is your department. But I'm glad you feel the same way. I was just starting to think that I was the only one jumping off the Martha bandwagon. But, nuh-uh.

So, about that sweater pattern, I could say I love it or even LURVE it, but I'm not sure that would properly convey my truest emotion. I have a crush on it - already after only a few minutes of looking at it. Where do I find this pattern? I have to copy you because I like it that much. I want it on my bod-ay! Anyway, totally pass on the Lion yarn, but the pattern is fab. Let us both knit one and then we can wear them together like idiots. It'll be grand.

And, sadly, I haven't started my project yet either. I don't know what it is, but I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I haven't had a single weekend moment free since godonlyknowswhen to contemplate something that involves both patchwork and hand-stitching. Did you know this pattern had both? I did not. Anyway, I'll let you know when I start down this scary winding road with patchwork. Yipes.

Hey, before I end this really long post email to you, check out my wicked big-ish pumpkin:

She was supposed to be a hundred-pounder, according to the super optimistic folks at Burpee, but Bubba thinks she's probably only around 25 lbs or so. Having lifted her from the wheelbarrow onto these 2x4s (under the roof cover so as not to get wet and moldy before Halloween, you know) I can say she's definitely a heavy one and I personally think she's much heavier than 25 lbs. I had to grunt to pick her up is how I know.

So, I'm not holding a grudge, even though she's only a quarter of the estimated weight of normal Big Max pumpkins, because she was the only pumpkin to emerge from the patch this year after having sucked the ever loving life out of the rest of the little pumpkins on the plant. Hogitha!

In sum, I agree that our trip was fab, magazines are semi-sucking, the sweater pattern is IWANTITSOBAD and the project is on the to-do list.

Hey, are you dressing up for Halloween? Anyone? I need inspiration. We take Halloween dressing up seriously at work and I don't want to be shamed by my coworkers. I am trying to wear another bridesmaid's dress this year (the only way I can think of to re-wear these expensive POSs), so any ideas along these lines would be fab. In the past I have been a Stepford Wife (pink bridesmaid's dress) and The Drunk Bridesmaid (red bridesmaid's dress). I also have a celery green full length thing and an orange strapless knee length thing. Oh and a gold one that is so heinous I don't want to wear it ever and I think I gave it away, nevermind.

Ideas, people!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Running Update: Remnant Injuries

When we left for Hawaii, back in the day, I was up to 11 miles in my oh-so-technical half marathon training schedule.

Not 11 glorious, graceful, fast miles - but 11 miles nonetheless.

Then we went on vacation. Before which I decided that I would not run. No, I would take a break and "let my body rest" in preparation for The Race. And also because running, or routine exercising in general, while on vacation is for losers. Something which I reminded many losers about (from the comfort and safety of my rolled down car window) while vacationing. It would appear that I am the only person in the whole wide fit world that thinks that vacationing is for binge drinking, lazing about, eating and cavorting.

Who are these losers out in the humid Hawaii heat in their running shoes and visors sweating away their misbehaving vacation hours?

I mean, shit, I can run at home - why not instead burn my excess calories (and oh, I do gather some excess calories on vacation, letmetellyou) doing stuff I can't do at home. Like kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, improperly boogie boarding and staggering around on the beach looking for the pool bar.

These are things you do on vacation in my world.

Running? No. Running is for when you're home with access to all your gear and close to your primary care physician.

Despite all my vacation resting, I still managed to injure myself. Which, frankly, is not all that surprising since I made my way through the better part of a bottle of gin while also spending most of my waking hours in the ocean.

To quote a wise man, "Late night swimming and alcohol: it's a winning combination!"

Either way, during one of my many turtle stalking snorkel outings I got a vicious evil cramp in my shin meat, which I initially ignored because I wasn't ready to go in yet. I guess I'm still, like, 10 years old or something. By the time I made it to shore and hobbled up to the deck, I thought I was in the clear. The cramp was gone.

I was AOK.

Nuh huh.

Woke up the next day with sore SORE shin meat. Like reliving the shin splints of my youth, I'll tell you. Not pleasant. But it was vacation in my world, so I made a cocktail and let the soothing powers of gin heal my wounds.

When I got home (and sobered up) I went for a short run, thinking my soreness would melt away when I hit the pavement.


I planned to run five miles, but ran closer to four. The last mile of which I completed with tears in my eyes. Ouch. Sore shin meat strikes again.

I hobbled all last week. I took it way easy this weekend - getting new insoles for all my shoes (hello! I'm gellin'!) and I think I'm on the road to recovery. Finally.

Chuh! And only two weeks later. Geez man.

So, update is this: I have been resting for practically three whole weeks with only a few short runs to my name during this time and I just got my race packet for the race which is in, like, TWO WEEKS.

Holy crap. I think I just threw up a little bit.


And I don't think I'll be completing that 12 mile run I added to the schedule, despite my fear that I won't be able to go beyond the 11 mile mark having never seen myself do it in real life.

And I don't think I'll be resuming a regular training schedule because I would have to immediately scrap it for the ever important Taper.

And I think I'll be arriving at Race Day with little more than my *hopefully* fully recovered bod and 11 miles under my belt.

And I've stopped carrying my iPod with me because I can't manage the technical difficulties while I'm sweating like a wild hog and dodging traffic. So, I'll be doing this race tunes-free. (Never thought I'd say that)

Will I be able to man-up and run the race without keeling the hell over? Mmm, we'll see.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Two ways w/ Pashmina Cowl

The worst feeling ever is when I'm suddenly struck with creative inspiration (read: actual desire to work on a project rather than guilt or pending birthdays) to start a new project and find that the pattern I've carefully chosen after twelve hours of hemming and hawing at my craft bookshelf has no matching yarn in my stash.

How is this even possible? I have two buckets full of nice yarn (and one bucket of acrylic yarn that feels like prickly doody). How can there be NOTHING AT ALL in there that will work? Plus, what is all this pink wool and how high was I when I bought it? It defies logic.

So disenchanting, this feeling. Like when you (I) get all excited thinking tonight is pizza night and "woo I don't have to cook" and then you (I) realize that it's actually Thursday, or worse Tuesday, and pizza night is day(s) away and crap I have to figure out what the hell to make for dinner and WHOOPS I haven't gone grocery shopping in half a year so we have no food.

Like letting all the air out of my inner balloon, that's what this feels like.

Last week I got to the crescendo of this feeling. I stood with my Last Minute Knitted Gifts in one hand, turned to the fabulous Pashmina Cowl on page 95, and the other hand rifling angrily through my, assumed, thorough stash hunting for something, anything that I could use to make another cowl for my chilly cold neck.

I came up empty. Nothing, NOTHING I had in my stash, save for the remnant yarn from the last Pashmina Cowl I made, was the right gauge. WTF? I thought I bought this crap in bulk! Where did all my pashmina yarn go? Apparently I made things from it and either A. gave them away like a fool or B. haven't unearthed them from the winter clothes pile yet.

Ugh, whatever.

At this point I faced, for the one kazillionth time, the painful question of how does one figure out how to make something from a different yarn than is suggested in the actual pattern.

Because of the obvious math involved, you can see why, until now (yes, there's a solution in this post somewhere I promise) I just tossed the evil unmatching yarns back in their buckets and huffed off to the shop to find the oh so special perfect exact stupid yarn that the pattern called for just so that I didn't end up with some useless wrong sized cowl or whatever from having used the yarn I really wanted even though the pattern called for something else altogether.

It's been a problem for a while.

But then I gave up. Literally threw hands into air (which scared dog and cat - they are so skittish around me when I start yelling and throwing things, why?) and said, "Fuck it. I give up. I'll do math."

For those of you who aren't familiar with my particular brand of complete and total math hatred, this is a big BIG concession for me to make. Be impressed, ok.

But even in my math compromising, I still searched high and low for the solution that would limit my Time With Math to the teensiest amount possible. Like, literally almost no math at all. But I definitely used a calculator because that is the kind of retard that I am. So there.

The Almost No Math Solution:

First I found my pattern, which was easy because I was already holding it and sweating with rage onto the pattern on page 95.

Then I told the nice gauge converting instructions, out loud, that I would not be knitting any stupid swatch and would just use the gauge that the yarn tag said because, hello, they know these things.

Then I located the stitch gauge on the pattern (ex: 26 stitches/4").

Then I located the stitch gauge on the yarn (ex: 15 stitches/4").

Then I divided (with the calculator, not my pee brain) the yarn stitch gauge by the pattern stitch gauge (15/26) to get .57.

A decimal?? WTF?? *Deep breath*

Then I found the number of cast-on stitches the pattern calls for (130).

Then I multiplied the cast-on stitches number (130) by my new stitch gauge number (.57 - which I won't give a fancy name because that just confuses things).

This gave me the number of stitches (75) to cast on with my doesn't-match-the-pattern yarn so that I'd still be able to use the pattern but not be confined to the painfully rigid world of whateverthefuck yarn they called for that I didn't have.

Then I cast on, knitted feverishly with this fabulous Beetlejuicey yarn (Adrienne Vittadini Nadia 800) that my sister gave me for my birthday, while listening to/vaguely watching Serendipity (John Cusak, wuv you) on TBS for a few hours until I had, in my very hands, an FO.

Holy friggen crap, man. I CAN actually knit. Well, I'll be.

And, hey, the conversion thingee totally worked because this cowl looks like a cowl and not at all like a mangled piece of shit. Huh. Maybe math is not evil after all? No, that can't be it. I must be a genius! Yes. Much more like it.

I was even more stunned when I found (much digging involved here) my original Pashmina Cowl and laid it side by side with my new Pashmina Cowl and they were, shocker of all shockers, the same diameter and everything. But made from different yarns - one skinny and sleek, one bulky and wonky. Will miracles never cease?

Seriously, my mind boggled.

Anyway, it all worked. And my hope for the ever growing stash is momentarily renewed. Maybe I *can* do something with all that nice yarn. Maybe I *won't* have to light it all on fire during a spastic rampage when I can't find any good patterns for it.

What if?

That is too big a question for today's minds, I'm sure. But the good news (for me, you, whomever) is that patterns can be knit from random yarn as long as you can do the following equation with or without (WITH) a calculator:

Stitch gauge of your random ass yarn / Stitch gauge of pattern's yarn
# of suggested cast-on stitches
# of stitches to cast on with your random ass yarn

Don't tell me your mind isn't boggling, too.

I will quickly say, because I know some super annoying know-it-all smartie pants is about to comment on this, that this kind of calculation is only going to take you so far. It was all I needed for this simple pattern since it's just your standard tube. Basically, just cast on and go until it's as long as you want it to be (I clearly thought it should be longer than my last one). But, if your pattern is really complicated with lots of increases and decreases and jacked up cabling and what not, you're going to need to do some pretty fancy math footwork on which I am not qualified to advise.

However, if you like to knit tubes and straight flat things, as it appears I almost exclusively do, this conversion will work pretty friggen well and then you can get through your stash without tears, lots of new swears and scared pets.

I'm imagining lots of leg warmers, cowls, scarves, fingerless gloves and hats. Because they are all easy tube-like things that take well to my who gives a crap freestyle knitting style.

And thank you to the nice people at Pine Ridge Knit & Sew for this almost math-free solution for adjusting yarn gauges. Wuv you!

When the wool dries (yeeeeeeeeew! wet wool) I will perhaps model this fabulous cowl for you all so that you might also be inclined to join my world of All Tube Knitting.

The End

Here I am modeling the blocked and dried cowl. It is warm. It is fuzzy. I had to take it off quickly because, *sigh*, the weather has warmed up again even though it rained all the live long day last Saturday and pretended to be Fall/Winter for almost 48 hours.

Lying seasons.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Probably doomed

I had to make the sad choice to put on slippers last night instead of my flip-flops. It appears that fall may be upon us.

Which means that I can no longer deny the changing of seasons because it's hard for me to say, "Nuh-huh, Bubba - it's totally still summer," with my teeth chattering. I tried to tuck my feet in between the couch cushions for a while, thinking maybe it was a temporary chill that could be taken care of by a few minutes smooshed in microsuede, but no.

Then I blamed the chill on a mysterious secret open window and its resulting draft.

Then I gave up story hour and just snatched the blanket from the arm of the sofa in a very dramatic display meant to reinforce my post-vacation Winter is Here and I'm OK With It promise by announcing to the room that, "See! I have to use the blanket. That must mean that fall is here and I'm giving up and aren't you all so happy."

My theatrics were only vaguely acknowledged. I don't think Bubba was buying my bullcrap because, at the time, I was wearing a tank top and drinking iced tea.

Granted, it's only, like 50 degrees out, but for me and my supreme wimpiness, it might as well be below zero and I might as well be naked. And I'm not giving up my tank tops until the last minute. Even if I have to wear them under the Ugly Librarian Sweater which I promise to feature in a future post so you can all marvel at its utter hideousness.

I pouted a little bit. And I whined. And then I announced that since it was winter now (even though, really, it's probably only fall or perhaps the tail end of summer, yes.) I was going to put the winter comforter on the bed and stow all the fans in the garage because what do we need these warm weather contraptions for when geez it's practically snowing.

The look of sadness and horror on Bubba's face was, I suspect, the look I've had on my face since the "You're going to have to let go of summer sometime" speeches started.

He's not such a big fan of summer, dontchaknow.

Meanwhile it dawned on me that since it's not as hot out, perhaps I could approach my lovely yarn stash with something other than prickly dread.

I tried this summer, during a moment of sheer sweaty lunacy, to pull out the wool and start on a somethingorother that never turned into more than a few rows of nothingmuch because, ew, it was hot out and what in the world was I doing touching wool. Yack.

It was all wrong. The wool was scritch-scratching at my legs because I was wearing shorts, my sunscreen was making my hands slippery so I was dropping the needles. It was a bad scene.

But now, hey, I'm shielded from the wool by my trusty jeans (and blanket), I'm inside where I don't have to wear four layers of sunscreen and it all makes so much more sense.

Too bad I can't get going on a knitting project to save my life.

I think I've fallen into a nasty trap of indecision meets short attention span meets I only have an hour before I'm going to fall asleep and I want to get something done and this isn't going to do it meets why don't skeins of yarn come pre-wound meets I don't have the right size needle and why are yarn specs so different from one hank to the next so I can never find a pattern that works.

It's messy.

I have started and ripped out more projects than I've completed this year and I'm starting to doubt that Finny can actually Knit anymore. But I have all this great new yarn thanks to nice friends of mine who travel and buy me gifts like possum yarn (weird but pretty!) and designer yarn and other yarn that is soft and nice and made from normal things like angora and alpaca.

And I'm ready to make more leg warmers and fingerless gloves and cowls and hooded cowls and shawls and wraps and anything else I can think of to shield any bare skin from the perceived chilly friggedness of a NorCal winter.

The big problem here, though, is that I have some nice patterns and I have some nice yarn and none of it matches. So, rather than do math (obviously) I am going to try one of those online gauge converters that tells you what to do with a pattern that calls for X stitches/inch on X needles when what you have is a yarn that says it's Y stitches/inch on Y needles.

Why is it always so hard?

Any yarn that doesn't have these details on the tag will be given a stern talking to and burned at the stake.

Wish me luck and if you all have secret ways that you do yarn trickery like this, do let me know. It will save me a lot of time and swearing.

Monday, September 17, 2007

It turns out I lied

When Bubba and I were leaving for our vacation I told him, as a way to justify my SUMMER RULES WINTER DROOLS bitching, that I would have myself a little summer send-off party in Hawaii and when we got back I would fully resign myself to the Fall Season and quit parading around like it's still summer.

Also I would stop giving the evil eye (and sly naughty finger) to anyone mentioning the words, "fall", "autumn", "winter", "The Holidays" or the much-hated, "Christmas". Which I'm sure came of significant relief to him as I've been rudely avoiding our neighbors because they keep announcing their anxiety about "getting the new roof on before winter" as though it's about to snow at any moment. Annoying.

Well, I went to Target today to restock our empty ass house with all the necessary sizes of Ziploc bags and the spray-on sunscreen I like (we used so much - I'm proud) and I totally bailed on my big promises.

The moment I saw the gigantor Halloween display of orange and black bullcrap I nearly barfed. I at least broke out into a cold sweat. And I definitely said some bad words.

I'm not going to go on a big rant as to how much I hate the celebrating of all holidays, contrived or genuine, with all manner of tacky, wasteful and UGLY color coded knick-knackery or that I just don't understand why we must start its celebration so soon before even the month of said holiday is upon us, but it does get me all riled up and that is when I start flipping the bird and wielding my big red shopping cart with the intent of knocking over jack-o-lantern displays.

Meanwhile the changing color on the trees has me staring and smiling. Because I like fall. I like leaves changing colors and piling up on our grass. I like eating in-season squash and making smoky bacon chili without sweating my ass off in the kitchen. I like watching football every Sunday and fishing in a river surrounded by yellow birch trees.

I just don't like driving home from the river and seeing tacky Christmas lights draped haphazardly from apartment balconies illuminating the rusty Smokey Joe bbq and piles of housewares they couldn't find room for inside. It brings questions to mind to which I never have an answer.

Example: When taking the time to purchase and install Christmas lights on ones rickety ass apartment balcony, does one not contemplate the area which one will be illuminating with said Christmas lights and then recoil in horror at the tag sale shitshow one's balcony has become?

Clearly the answer to this is, "No, one does not", but I still ask it (albeit quietly and to myself) about one thousand times every year. And this Q&A session gets tiresome and redundant and makes for some long car rides where I have to close my eyes, therefore losing every game of "Hay".

But anyway, I have resigned myself to behaving as though fall is here and I'm OK with it even though my behavior is mostly a sham to disguise the seething scrooge loitering just below the surface. And to be fair, I'll try to parlay my sham onto the blog so that you don't have to suffer my incessant bitching about the fading of my meek tan, my neighbor's blinking wreath or all the "boo"-ing paper ghosts hanging from my other neighbor's tree.

I'll try. Don't get greedy.

Meanwhile, Hawaii was kick ass and I swam around with this turtle:

Friday, September 07, 2007

InStitches September/October: Patchwork handbag

Dear Donk,

I'm just not sure what you're referring to when you say "handbag problem". There is no such thing. Handbags, like shoes, are innocent items to covet, collect and then shove your husband's clothes out of the way to store in the closet.

Which is why I think the September/October project is a lovely choice. And not one that will lead to marital discord or anything.

I have actually been meaning to try one of these bags since we got the book because my favorite makeup bag is roughly the same shape (sexy rectangular shape I love you), but without the handy handles and with a super HELLO I WAS FREE Lancome zipper pull.


Because, dudes, they are always foisting these gifts with purchase on me when I buy my mascara (Difinicils? Anyone?) and when I see the lip gloss in there I can't resist. Then the Lady in the Black Coat gets all pissed when I take the whole mess apart and leave everything except the lip gloss on the counter. You know, for the next person to pick through.

Is the GWP display not a self-service buffet?

News to me.

Anyhoo, I like the project and I like the fun new choice. I am a fan of the Choose Your Own Adventure concept (even though the act of *choosing* your adventure was always much more adventurous than your actual *adventure* which was really just filler so that they could have a platform for their *choosing of adventure* idea. You know.) and in this case, I will choose the Taking My Sweet Ass Time adventure because the next two months are scary full.

Come on people, how many baby showers can one woman attend? Not this many. Not this many.

I'd love to be all proactive and creative and endeavour to make a bunch and then give them as gifts for you-know-what-but-I'm-not-ready-to-say-the-words-because-in-my-world-it's-still-summer, but I am a realist. And this realist knows that there are only so many weekends in September and they are all 100% booked. And then I have a race in October and a lot of lingering plans threatening to become permanent weekend suckers, so if I'm lucky I'll have time to make this bag once. And with any luck the patchwork won't come out looking all jacked like it does every time I do any piecing forcing me to come back to the blog with shreds of my one unfinished project to shamefully share with the rest of the class as My Most Amazing Failure.

The drama today? Sheesh. I must need a vacation!

Oh wait, that's right. I leave for Hawaii tomorrow.


I need to pack.

Good call on the project, theme and bag lusting.

Back in a week.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I am so a Frontierswoman.

I went pretty far off my nut on Sunday.

This happened as I stood in my yard under the meek shade of my sombrero (dudes, I do not mess around with sunshine on my nude skin regardless of my thick sunscreen sheen) and stared at the still more-red-than-green tomato shrubs.

How, I pondered, was it possible to give away over 8 lbs of big perfect tomatoes on Friday and 10 lbs of tomatoes on Saturday and YET STILL have over 10 lbs of ripe-n-ready tomatoes hanging right there from the plant for all to see on Sunday?


Well, avoiding all computation (no math no math no math), the answer came simply: The plants are ALSO off their nut (convenient). They are also happy, healthy and producing at a rate one must not underestimate or believe can be managed through simple redistribution alone.

No, one must make compromises and exceptions in proportion to the tremendous bounty.

Basically, it was time for the big guns. And time to pay for the ease with which I came to know the fear and sleepless nights that come with having two (TWO ONLY) tomato plants producing like twenty.

I had to can.

And it was, oh, like 95 degrees out. AND we have no A/C. AND Bubba was trying to work in the office which shares a (hot) wall with our kitchen. AND it was hot. Well, that was my main issue. The hotness.

It was Hotness vs. Tomato Waste and in that particular situation, I can stand the heat, be in the kitchen and still stave off insanity. If only for one sweaty afternoon.

And it was sweaty alright.

Stupid canning always happens right when it's the hottest. Not when it's chilly and I'm wearing my librarian sweater (which I promise to feature in a future post on Ugly Things I Own) over all my clothes and socks with my slippers and my nose is still red and icy.


Canning only happens when I'm wearing the least I can get away with without incurring a neighborly call to the bobbies and yet it's still somehow so hot that I'm rocking impressive boob sweat and my hair is tied up in an unflattering ponytail/bun thing under my orange doorag.

I know you're thinking, the weather isn't the only thing that's hot. Yes, I am very hot indeed in these warm weather getups.

This past Sunday, my hot getup and I went out to the garden and picked 12.5 lbs of tomatoes.

In the blazing mid-day heat of late summer.

Then, back in the kitchen, I fired up the giant canning pot to boil and proceeded to sweat until the tank top boob sweat became tank top torso sweat and then just Sweaty Tank Top.

Don't worry though, the canning process was very sanitary.

After boiling/peeling/halving 12.5 lbs of tomatoes, boiling/sanitizing 12 pint jars/lids/rings, packing 10 pints jars with the tomatoes (shocker, I ran out of tomatoes) and then two rounds of 50 minute sessions in the canning pot, I am sure I had dropped at least two pounds of water weight.

Not bad.

Best thing ever was that they all sealed properly and I didn't have to then scurry to eat two jars of piping hot not-quite-canned tomatoes because the lids didn't seal and what if they go bad and I have to deal with the sadness of Tomato Waste.

So, I had 10 lovely jars of my tomatoes to stow in my cabinet for a wintry day when I'm wearing my librarian sweater over all my clothes and thinking, "Hey, you know what would be gooooooood after the football game (because in winter I am almost always watching football and thinking about what is for dinner)? Lasagna with homemade sauce or Creamy tomato and basil soup or meatballs with homemade sauce or stuffed peppers with homemade sauce or a big spoon with homemade sauce.

It will justify all the sweating I have just done. The making of wintertime sauce from summertime tomatoes. MY tomatoes.

I will be a satisfied, if slightly chilly, football fan on the verge of a great sauce. I will also have satisfied my inner Frontierswoman by going full circle on the plant seeds/grow crops/harvest crops/can crops/use canned crops in winter when we're all hunkered down for winter due to the terrible storms outside even though I live in Northern CA where it hardly gets below 40 degrees.

We'll save my fascination with being a frontierswoman for another day. But I bet they all wear big librarian sweaters and get boob sweat in summertime while they can tomatoes from their big frontier gardens.

That is the dream.

Monday, September 03, 2007

InStitches: August

Dear Donk,

I want to talk seriously about something here: Masking tape.

Masking tape and its unending usefulness in this month's project. When the pattern called for masking tape to mark out the quilting lines I shrugged my shoulders, gave the whale eye to the book and marched off to the garage thinking to myself, "Well, when it looks fucked up, I'll just say the book told me to do it."

I like to place blame elsewhere whenever possible.

When I sat down at the machine with the makings for two potholders (why can't I just make one? why make it hard?) and my roll of masking tape I did not have high hopes. But I also didn't have to spend one hundred years measuring and marking dumb lines on the fabric with my semi-broken marking pen, so I was willing to take a shortcut, if only because the book toldmeso.

Well, HELLO, it totally friggen works so much better! At first I was leery. Maybe the tape would fail me. Maybe it would somehow stop working and making straight guiding lines as I moved across the fabric. Maybe it would clog up my machine somehow (remember, vinyl? I'm still afraid). Maybe the adhesive would rub off on the fabric and then it would catch all manner of funk and become hideously ugly before I was even ready to put on the bias tape. Maybe the sky would fall.

And you know what? None of these horrible scenarios befell me or the potholders. The tape was a genius plan. GENIUS!

I made straight, evenly spaced quilting lines. Oh que milagro.

Do you know what is not genius? The marking and measuring and using of the half-broken fabric pen backintheday when we were making the Quilted Sleeping Mask. Do you know how much time this would have saved me?

So much time.

It was at this moment, when I realized how inefficient my first quilting project had been, that I got that icky creepy sneaky feeling that one gets as a child when one feels that they have been hoodwinked into doing something *fun* that turns out to be something *educational*.

You know.

Like playing a video game only to find out that, HEY! Why does the goose have to go from one room to the next making sure to get only the exact amount of eggs in her basket (My first computer was a Commodore 64, people, there weren't a lot of games)? This isn't right. They're making me do math here! Abort!

I was told there would be no math.

Anyway, that is the exact feeling that I got when I thought, "Hmmm...I wonder why we didn't use this method for the quilting mask. That would have made it wicked easy. I would not have hated that project oh so much. It would have been rad."

And then, "Damnit. I bet she was trying to make me learn. Damn."

So, whatever. I suppose I had to learn how to make dumb quilting lines the *proper* way, by using a big awkward quilting ruler on my too-small table with my broken (have I mentioned it's broken, because it is.) fabric pen leaving blobs of ink everywhere.

But now I know. And in the future I will be using only the Masking Tape Method for quilting. Because it's easy, I'm lazy and it involves ZERO math.

Ta da.

Also, let's talk big fancy winner of the month: Elemental Stitches

Because, come on, that is a fabulous fabric combination and an excellent execution. Plus, PLUS she had the balls to use contrasting thread to sew on the bias tape. Whoa - that is life on the edge, folks.

So, Ms Elemental Stitches, would you please send me your name and home address to finnyknits AT gmail DOT com so that I may send you your prize? Yes, thank you.

And, Donk, now that you're home from your travels, you can choose our September project. I plan to work on it while watching football because I will be watching football night and day thanks to the fact that we now have the Sports Package in HD and I can see every single NFL game (including stupid pre-season) AND every single MLB game.

Oh yes. It is ON.

Miss you,