Syndactyl Salutations

Thoughts on writing, knitting, and the world around me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Why am I not in the Bahamas?

Or anywhere else warm, or at least not here? I have had this week off every year for the past five years and I have never done anything with it. I'm not sure why, I guess I feel like I can't afford it around the holidays.

Yesterday was semi-productive, today even less so. Laundry, looking over a short story...yeah, that's about it.

I'm still trying to decide whether I actually want to leave the house for a couple of hours. I probably should, even if it's just to go sit at Borders with my knitting and possibly a notebook.

What was that I said the other day about not wasting the resource?

Monday, December 27, 2004

100 Things About Me

Here it is...
1. I'm a very un-Leo-like Leo.
2. I'm the eldest of three girls.
3. I love green in all of its forms.
4. I don't hike as much as I should in warm weather, mostly because of my irrational fear of all things snake.
5. I've been knitting consistently for about a year, I took a twenty-four-year break.
6. I still have my original US 8 aluminum needles, and had the original skein of seafoam green acrylic until a year or so ago.
7. I want to make a sweater, but I'm afraid of screwing it up.
8. My self-confidence is inadequate in most areas of my life.
9. But I just realized I can knit basic socks in a darkened movie theater with minimal errors while keeping track of what's happening onscreen.
10. Go me!
11. I'm prohibitively shy.
12. Which does nothing to explain why I've worked with the public consistently for nearly five years.
13. I'm not using my English degree.
14. I've been minimally published, but not for years, and I don't write nearly as much as I used to or want to.
15. I have three first-draft novels on my hard drive.
16. I think I'm afraid to sit down and get into the editing process.
17. I "won" NaNoWriMo two years in a row, but this year I broke 10,000 in week one and stopped.
18. I was too close to the subject matter this year.
19. I had two nephews, but they died in April.
20. My baby sister suffered severe post-partum psychosis.
21. I think about all of them every day.
22. I'm close to my family, but I don't feel the need to talk to them very often, they are the same.
23. I live with my boyfriend.
24. My relationship with him is the best pairing I have ever been in.
25. He wrote and recorded a song for me for our anniversary this year.
26. He apparently finds me "really, truly, hot hot hot".
27. This surprises me.
28. I have four fingers on each hand, and three toes on each foot.
29. I resist immature urges to "ooga-booga" when people stare at my hands in public places.
30. I can't wear standard gloves, I'm hoping to eventually design a custom pair for myself.
31. I've not yet knit regular gloves or mittens.
32. I weighed 102 lb. At my wedding ten years ago. I'm 5'4".
33. Now, when I look at the photos, I look tired and too thin.
34. I didn't make a good Army wife.
35. I loved living in Germany.
36. My vacation back to Germany 4 years ago was a disaster.
37. I didn't see enough of Europe when I lived there.
38. I spent my 27th birthday in Paris.
39. I've been "back from Germany" for 7 years.
40. I was born in Santa Cruz, California.
41. I've been back once: for two weeks when I turned 16.
42. I keep saying I want to go again, but I never do.
43. My aunt who lives there has the same birthday as me, but she's 11 years older.
44. She's the one I look most like in my extended family.
45. My boyfriend has three children; we have two of them every weekend.
46. I will, more than likely, never have children of my own.
47. I occasionally feel guilty about this choice.
48. I want to be an archivist or a librarian when I grow up.
49. The prospect of taking the GREs paralyzes my brain.
50. My grades in college weren't as good as they could have been.
51. I'm afraid of that happening again with grad school.
52. I've taken a 12 year educational break.
53. I take decent photographs but I haven't taken any for a while.
54. I'm not good at making friends.
55. I usually don't have a problem with that.
56. Sometimes I get lonely, then not having friends is a problem.
57. My dad was ridiculously impressed with my first pair of socks.
58. I don't think they knew what to expect from my life.
59. My middle sister is more successful than I am.
60. I'm not entirely sure of how I define success.
61. I'd like to be more organized, I try occasionally.
62. I'm not very good at housework, I don't think I care enough.
63. Clutter is the major obstacle there.
64. My boyfriend does most of the cooking.
65. I readily acknowledge his superiority in that arena.
66. Food is rarely at the front of my mind.
67. I'm nearly 30 lb. heavier than I was 10 years ago, this bothers me sometimes.
68. I've begun exercising regularly again.
69. I do it after work because I can't get myself up early enough to do it before.
70. I need a decent amount of sleep.
71. I prefer independent movies.
72. I read a lot, fiction and nonfiction.
73. I enjoy sociological works -- Fast Food Nation and Nickel and Dimed come to mind.
74. I have a cell phone because of a prolonged errand last year.
75. I rarely use it, but it has come in handy.
76. I don't have cable; we don't want to pay for TV.
77. I watch too much TV with our three channels.
78. I miss PBS most of all.
79. I'm beginning to love TV shows on DVD.
80. I never know what gifts to get people.
81. I love giving things to people.
82. I don't knit fast enough to give people handknits
83. I want someone to take me in hand and show me how to dress and make myself presentable.
84. I hate shopping, especially clothes shopping.
85. I wish I had a space in the house just for myself.
86. I've only lived by myself for one three-year period.
87. I get anxious in groups of people, even if I know them.
88. Knitting is my current anti-anxiety remedy.
89. I'm not religious, but I try to be spiritual.
90. I am careful not to judge people by physical appearance.
91. I've done things of which I'm not proud.
92. I've tried to get beyond them and be a better person.
93. I tried to be a literacy tutor, but I was too shy to be able to convince my student that doing his homework himself would be the best way to learn.
94. I still have literacy materials that should be returned.
95. I am a master procrastinator.
96. Misplaced apostrophes drive me nuts.
97. "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash gives me goose bumps, so does "Oh, Death" by Ralph Stanley. 98. I cry at fictional situations and others' misfortunes at the drop of a hat, but less quickly at my own.
99. I wish the world were more peaceful.
100. This is slightly less depressing than my first attempt.

...there it was.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas to All Who Celebrated

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a good one yesterday. And if you don't I hope you had a lovely, relaxing weekend.

My Christmas was good, though we did things Friday, Saturday, and today, so it seemed to go on forever. I never really got in the spirit this year. It's been a tough year, and knowing that my sister is in the situation she is in didn't make it any easier. She called my parents' on Christmas day, and that was really time there was an uncomfortable lull in conversation.

We are not religious, but we were raised in the tradition, so we do gifts and use the time to get together with family. As nice as it can be, I almost wish we could just spread the giving and the visiting throughout the year and sort of let go of the Christmas frenzy. Not that I got terribly frenzied, but I did get stressed out by it all the same.

We can't let go of it, though, he has nine, eleven, and sixteen-year-olds who most definitely still expect Christmas. I would feel differently if there were also still a three and a one-year-old around, but the fact that there are those kid-shaped holes is what makes me want to ditch the whole thing.


I finished the cabled scarf and gave it to him yesterday. He wore it all evening and when we went out today.

I finally made a hat out of the hand-spun from my secret pal (who deserves many thanks for the Christmas card and lovely bookmark she sent -- Thanks, Julie!); I used the pattern for the Sparkle Hat from Stitch 'N Bitch, but without the sparkle (I'm just not a sequin kind of girl). It was a quick knit, but because I didn't swatch, it came out a bit smaller than the original. It's more of a beanie than a full-coverage hat, but it keeps my head warm and I like it a lot. It has been dubbed the pickle hat, however, because of the bright green color and bumpy texture.

The Sophie is finished and in use. I am going to make another for my sister in the same colorway, since I have enough yarn left. I wanted to gauge her reaction to it first. My father is constantly surprised and amazed and delighted by what I come up with in my knitting. On one hand, it's nice, but on the other it does make me wonder what exactly he thinks my limitations are.

I do not have to go back to work until January third. This makes me happy, and I know how lucky I am to get this time off, paid, without having to sacrificing any accrued vacation time. I'm not sure how I will be spending the days this year, other than a daily trip to the gym, of course. I should try to get some writing or editing done, I'll do some knitting, and I should really do some hardcore house cleaning. Maybe I'll actually get my 100 Things typed and posted, but I'm not counting on it. I just hope I don't sleep until 10 and stare off into space all day for the next week, that'd be a waste of the resource. I'll try to keep you posted.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Christmas is in a week???

I'm not prepared. I've done some shopping, but not much.

Part of the problem is that one of my two busiest times of year at work happens during the beginning of December. This week was the last week of the semester, so I've been playing hurry-up-and-wait with grades and schedules. We are completely closed the week between Christmas and New Year's and I make it a point to get grades and schedules out to students before I have my week off. As a result, I have spent nearly four hours more at work than normal over the past three days. I rarely put in overtime, so even an extra hour-and-a-half at the end of a day makes me feel as though I'm living at work. I'm pathetic, I know, but it's a job, not my life.

The only knit gift I've made is the Hallowig, which is now being worn by a styrofoam head, with a gold elastic from a box of holiday chocolate as a hairband. I found a new battery for my camera this evening, if I can find film, I'll take a photo of it tomorrow before I wrap it up to give it away.

My Sophie is coming along, I've bound off the edges and am probably a third into the first length of i-cord. Even if it takes until tomorrow evening to finish, it'll still be the quickest knit I've done so far. It's been fun, and I already know I plan to make at least one more, probably with some Patons merino from West Earl Woolen Mill, though I'll need to make sure it's not superwash, I suppose.

Okay, for those of you who have cats: Do your cats chase their tails? I know it's fairly normal feline activity, but my younger cat makes it strange. The only time she really chases her tail is when she is perched on the back of my desk chair. The reason I bring it up is that she's doing it right now; my chair keeps lurching slightly as her weight shifts. I'll have to try to get a photo of her in action sometime soon.

I just finished reading Madras on Rainy Days by Samina Ali. I enjoyed it, not only for the engaging storytelling, but also for the peek into a culture with which I am totally unfamiliar. The main character, Layla, is an Indian Muslim who has grown up alternately in India and the US and finds herself in an arranged marriage in India. It wasn't quite as emotionally engaging as some books I have read, but the cultural differences were interesting enough to keep me interested in Layla's world and situation.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Am I Knitting?

Sort of. I am knitting, it just seems to be going slowly. I started a Sophie Saturday evening using Noro Kureyon #74. I'm still nearly twenty rows short of the i-cord stage, just goes to show you just how slowly I knit, but I don't mind terribly. This is why I'm not knitting gifts, possibly ever. I like how it's striping and I like the feel of the yarn, but but balls I have used so far have had breaks and/or knots fairly early on, so I have more ends than I would have expected. Other than that, I'm enjoying my first Noro experience.

I'm still working on a sock, I need to start another baby blanket square, and I need to finish the cable scarf.

I visited another local yarn shop, the West Earl Woolen Mill, on Saturday. They have mostly Red Heart and Sugar and Cream stuff, but there is also quite a bit of fairly inexpensive Patons merino ($4.55 or so for 100g balls) and Boye needles. I was good and only bought a couple of balls of sock yarn to eventually make my parents socks and needles I needed for that and my Sophie. The new sock needles are US 3 bright orange Boye dpns, very festive -- I see why Harlot likes them so much.

Now that I know for sure that she got my last package, I can say that the recipient of my Secret Pal gifts was Kim. I enjoyed spoiling her a little and getting to know more about her.

I have been working out fairly regularly, but I've also been consuming way too much vendor-sponsored chocolate at work. I'm hoping to break even at my next measurement session.

Oh, I've done a 100 list, but I haven't had time to sit and type it up, I'll get it here soon, really.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fear of Yarn

Have I mentioned that I have ordered and received enough yarn from Elann to make an entire sweater? Have I also mentioned that I'm pretty much terrified to get started on it? I've never made a sweater. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to, but I lack the confidence to just dive in, it's pathetic, I realize this. Part of the problem is that I know I'll have to go up in needle size to get gauge and I don't have the needles yet.

I have major confidence problems in so many areas of my life, why does it have to seep into my knitting as well? Knitting is mostly about relaxation and process to me. I don't worry that I don't knit terribly fast, but I don't want to be so paralyzed by self-doubt that I can't even start a big project.

Meanwhile...I got to the end of the cuff of the sock I'm working on, but that's the only knitting I've done for a couple of days, I'm not sure what my problem is. I'm starting to feel more comfortable with dpns now, I'm happy about that.

Hmm, not sure what the point of this post was in the first place, but there you go.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Another Grey Monday

...wherein I went to work, watched low, fairly uninteresting clouds move across the sky, accomplished a few things, and took up space. No knitting so far today, maybe I'll try for a cable repeat on my scarf before I turn in. That's all the knitting I got done yesterday, actually. Just sort of moody and uninspired.

I did a bit of writing, about knitting, this evening. Spurred loosely by this article in the new knitty. I've come to the conclusion, sort of, that my hesitancy to give knits to others is as much about a deep, unrelenting, fear of rejection as it is about the snail-in-winter speed of output I have thus far achieved. I'll leave it at that and you may extrapolate whatever you wish about my personality.

Speaking about writing about knitting, have you seen this moving homage to Clapotis? I was pretty sure I wanted to make one anyway, now I want to include it in a work of fiction as well. Photography, literature, and knitting, it's enough to make a girl swoon, I tell you.

I guess it's time to feed the kitty minions and toddle off to bed and book, I'm trying to get myself up a bit earlier so that I can get one or two things accomplished before work in the morning.

Enjoy the rest of your evening, all.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

What Would Have Been

Today would have been my tenth wedding anniversary. I do not regret not making it that far, but I do regret not having enough clarity and forethought to have seen before we got married that it was not the correct thing for me to have done. I never imagined that I would be divorced, but to be perfectly honest, I am more happy now, in a relationship that has already outlasted my marriage, than I ever was as a married woman. I do not plan to marry again, no matter how happy I may be.

I wish my ex all the best and hope that he finds a similar happiness, whether or not it comes with another marriage certificate.

Squirrels, Bees, and Weird Mail

Okay, the squirrel in the stairwell story, sorry I'm later with it than possibly implied. I park on the upper level of a three level parking garage when I'm at work. Wednesday when I was climbing the steps to get to my car I heard a strange noise, which I thought was coming from the light at the top of the stairwell -- they have a habit of operating erratically. The light was working fine, but there was a squirrel perched on top of it, six inches from the ceiling. He chittered while I walked up the steps, but when I got what he seemed to think was too close, he jumped to the windowsill of the top segment of the wall of windows at the front of the stairwell. He only stayed there a second or two before he leapt headfirst down the windows to the second level landing. He looked like he was debating coming back up the steps from there, but went over the edge and down to the first level. I didn't hear any screams, but I imagine he startled the next person coming into the garage.

There was a repeat performance the next day, but I didn't see him yesterday. I hope he got out, but I think I'm going to take the number of animal control with me on Monday, I don't know how long a squirrel can survive on blown leaves and cigarette butts.

(Yes, that was the single most boring account of an event I have ever had the misfortune to put here, I apologize.)

I finished reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd last night. I've been trying to get my hands on a copy so that I could read it for a year, and I have to say it was worth the wait. I got drawn deeply into the story, the writing creates an authentic sense of place and emotional resonance. (read: I kept bursting into tears toward the end of the book.)

Everyone on the planet knows that AT&T Wireless and Cingular Wireless have merged, right? Well, today I got a mailing that was basically a wedding announcement for the two companies -- heavy stock paper, my mailing address in "calligraphy", artistic torn edge on the card, and vellum slip over the printing on the invitation. So very, very strange is the advertising industry.

I finally got my hair cut again this afternoon, another wedged bob, a little shorter again than I got it in August, and she blew it dry with a round brush, so it's all straight and face-framing. In case I hadn't mentioned this before, I am the essence of the wash-and-go girl, so I wasn't quite sure whether it was flattering. I have since been informed that it is, and that maybe blowdrying my hair isn't such a bad thing. I'm going to take it strictly as the compliment it was intended to be, and I don't know if I'll be getting a blowdryer, I wouldn't actually be able to duplicate the results anyway, I'm just no good at it.

I worked on my sock cuff while waiting for my turn in the stylist's chair, I'm just about done with the ribbing, but I kept having to pick up stitches because I'd pull too hard on the dpn and drop a bunch of them. I finished the second baby blanket square yesterday, but I still haven't blocked the striped blanket.

Enough is enough, enjoy your evenings.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Short Update

It's a good thing I haven't gotten around to submitting my blog to the knitting webring, I'd never be approved. I always mean to post at least once a week, but I don't post at work and many times I just don't feel like getting online at home in the evening. Enough whining.

I got my final Secret Pal box on Monday, and she made me socks! Black with bright primary colors, very cozy and they fit. I wore them to work yesterday, a little whimsy with an otherwise dignified outfit. She also sent a pair of green and purple bead earrings, a blank book (I have a thing for pretty blank books, especially in green), and a nice card, revealing herself as Julie. Thanks again for being such a great secret pal, you made my first experience with this sort of thing a lot of fun. If I ever get a new battery and film for my camera I'll take photos of my loot.

I sent my last secret pal box out on Tuesday, I'll wait until I know my pal has received it before I reveal who I was a pal to. I hope I was as good to my pal as mine was to me.

Thanksgiving was nice and relaxing, my fears of strangeness were for naught. We did shrink the turkey and end up without gravy, but other than that, it was practically hitchless. It's been a hard year, but I am thankful that my family has been able to pull together, rather than shatter, through all of it. It was nice to spend an afternoon hanging out with my parents, and they were very appreciative of getting to eat and not having to host or cook. My mother did provide an apple pie and chocolate chip cookies, but she was happy to stick with dessert.

The project I was keeping a secret is no longer a secret, and it's finished. I made a Hallowig in lime green Red Heart Kids. I hate acrylic as a rule, but this didn't set my teeth on edge. I'm not planning on becoming a habitual user or anything, but it wasn't as awful as it could have been. Of course, why my first hat had to be this one, I'll never know. I'm hoping it'll be a hit at the white elephant party, I think I'll get a Styrofoam head to display it on in the box, it'll up the kitsch factor and help with the presentation.

I guess that's it for this evening, remind me to tell you about the squirrel in the stairwell next time, okay?