Saturday, October 25, 2008

DisKnit: Chapter 1 (DC) Two Islands

From 2008 10

He cursed the 30 bus line again. Joel knew he shouldn't have been tempted by the chance to have a garden and live near Whole Foods for under $1,500. It meant giving up living near a metro stop and instead having to depend each day on the erratic bus service. John Catoe could say all he want about improving performance, but it still seemed like every day three buses came at the same time and it was worse odds than the DC lottery to figure out which one might get him to the cubicle on K street faster. And then once on, he had to decide whether to force one of the priveleged kids to get up so he could sit by the window. The chances were always better with young women that they might move over to let him sit down, but they might also want to chat. He knew he was just what most of these bright young women wanted: handsome, dressed in a suit, wearing the requisite blackberry on the belt and under 40. But, he didn't want them and indeed after 15 years in DC, he'd lost patience for having the encouraging conversations about their futures while subtly making sure they understood he was gay.

Nevertheless, with his Ipod plugged in, and his hand carrying the blackberry, he figured it was worth the risk. He went up to one of the blondes, nodded at the seat by the window, and watched her sigh and move over. He nodded thanks. He kept his eyes on the scrolling blackberry screen while he thought about his latest conversation with Jackson. Jackson, a state department worker, was both married and in the closet. And he lived in the Virginia suburbs and pretended to be a republican when the republicans were in control. It was such the DC cliche that Joel even thought about him. After dating Navy officers, Republican Hill Rats, committed non-profit activists who couldn't ever pay for dinner, he should have just stopped talking to Jackson once he came clean. But in contrast to all those others, Jackson was different in one way crucial way: he wasn't an idiot.

Joel, like most people who stay and live in DC longer than five years, had come firmly to the conclusion that most people who want to work in DC are foolish. In addition, he knew most of them would leave. Like other DC residents, most of his best friends had moved other places. Those who loved the outdoors were in one of the Portlands depending upon the predilections. Others got lured to Chicago for some job in the arts where the MacArthur money was dependable and they didn't have to work for the feds. The straight ones didn't necessarily move out of the time zone, they just set up their houses in the suburbs that required a car to get to and then produced the requisite duet of children. Joel found himself turning down most of their invitations.

As the bus finally freed itself from the traffic disaster of the mall known as Georgetown, Joel realized it was time to focus on work. He was going to make it just in time for the latest meeting with the marketing team that was doing pro-bono work for the non-profit, Save Our Generation, where Joel had worked for the last five years doing membership development. He knew they were going to suggest a new name. SOG just didn't work as an acronym and the effort to use SaveOG or S-Our-G had all brought nothing but endless mocking within the organization. After the finance department head had been convicted of skimming money, the non-profit bloggers were going wild on the name. Joel thought for a second about life without the web and got off the bus.

DisKnit: Two Islands: A Novel?

So I was thinking that since KBrow and I both live on/in islands and because we both like to make up stories, that we should collaborate on a novel in short chapters about two characters: one in Hawaii and one in DC. Naturally (I mean it), the characters will have nothing to do with us -- no history/grant types on my side, no teachers on her side. Yet, both characters will participate in the highly particularized behavior of island-dwellers. And perhaps we will confuse our readers by making such insider references that they will be forced to comment. And then we may abandon the project at any moment (since KBrow doesn't even know about it yet), further frustrating our few but loyal readers. The hope would be to distract us all from the real world with fictional meanderings. Since I made this up, I will begin.

From 2008 Knitting

p.s. I was going to spend valuable writing time creating a book cover, but for now, here is a sliver of a picture that could be part of the cover. I imagine words like discover the real life of Island Dwellers, Power and Paradise Together, etc, etc. We'll see.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

k-brow: blogless michelle's FO, and a bad chattaranga

Fall is come to Nuuanu, as evidenced by the new slick coating of moss on my steps and patio. High winds at night have Ella in a state of angst, and she's hitting the Rescue Remedy hard. I am drinking milky coffee and eating a superb Ba-Le almond croissant from the farmers market. Hoping that the combination of caffeine and marzipan will pull me out of my grogginess.

I had fallen off the yoga wagon since summer, and have just crawled back on. This new class is not as hard as the old Death By Vinyasa, but it's a new kind of hard. Sort of a Slow Death By Vinyasa. This one has us holding poses for longer, while the instructor talks on...and on... Good yoga practice, actually, but work. It has me feeling a little sore in the mornings. The new class is in Kailua, at that ymca, with a teacher that my friend Noni raved on and on about. Turns out this teacher is named after an ice cream confection with a cherry on top. And she is good. But a weird little thing happened in class last week. Mid class, she asked; "Who has a good chattaranga?" and a lady raised her hand. She asked her to demonstrate, and indeed, her chattaranga was very good. Then she went around and asked to see everyone else's. Various incarnations of the pose were demonstrated and corrected. My own was deemed "It's okay, that's where you are at the moment" or in frank terms "man, your chattaranga sucks!" People, I am weak in the arms and shoulders, where this pose takes power. So... moving on through the vinyasas, everytime Ice Cream Lady would call out "chattaranga" she would giggle. This went on through like 6 repetitions of the sun salutation. Whose chattaranga was causing such amusement? Likely it was mine, since I wasn't getting my chest down low, and was, too often, modifying by doing it on my knees. But was it that damn funny? She wasn't laughing when she mentioned any other poses! Weird.

Last week, or rather, the week before last, my dear Blogless Michelle finally completed her WIP. I give you the lovely and amazing Maximilian!
Doesn't Miche look radiant? I have yet to see this adorable babe in person, but I love this pic; he's become part of my laptop desktop slideshow. I suppose the baby knitting should commence.

We went to the Big Island of Hawaii for a few days last week. P was working, so I took advantage of the junket to go and enjoy Hilo. Went birding on Hakalau Forest Reserve with some of his coworkers and saw lots of rare and endangered Hawaiian birds, and generally enjoyed a day in a beautiful old growth ohia and koa forest. I also took myself on a drive up the Hamakua coast.

Hilo itself was a pleasure. I did make it to the Sig Zane sale, and bought a dress that was a relative bargain. Then I went thrift shopping and found a shirt, as well! Later, we went up to the Volcano, hiked around in the voggy park. Halemaumau crater is spewing great clouds of smoke, and the whole day was very grey.

Home again, I'm knitting sporadically on Icarus, a project which does not take kindly to sporadic, as the progress isn't easily revealed on smaller needles and lots of stitches. Ah well... it's report card week and parent conference week and my energies are elsewhere. I did make it to Knit Night, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Acornbud brought her knitted kitties (scroll down to see the cats) to deliver to their new owner, and they received much admiration. The woman is a ringing endorsement for the benefits of retirement, as she produces a steady stream of charming creations. I also, unintentionally, I might add, provoked a bit of political discussion, as sometimes happens when Lilikoi and I sit together. Apparently, though, folks were enjoying their politics-free knitting time. Meh. Times like these, I miss living inside that Washington Beltway.

The marzipan and caffeine aren't doing all they could be doing, so it's time to give caffeine another chance.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

k-brow: staycation update

I can find ways to waste time that you never dreamed of. A manga avatar!

5 days into vacation, today, I actually went to work. Upon arrival, I saw how very much work there was to be done, promptly rearranged my room and then, after visiting with my 4th grade teacher teammate, left. Came home, ate lunch, took an hour long nap, and met with the dogsitter for the weekend.

Truth is, I just don't want to go through the next 3 weeks of my life... report cards, grading, and parent-teacher conferences. And a big state test; the HSA, in which my students have to do a hands-on science experiment and then write it up. Ugh. It's all perfectly do-able, but I don't like it, not even one little bit. ugh. I shouldn't begrudge away weeks of my life, I realize. I'll just bite the bullet and do it, and be glad when it's over. But I want to stay on vacation forever. Just whiling away the days with a bit of housework, a few errands, some reading and some knitting.

I finished, a few days back, a fantastic book, for all you dog lovers out there - Reya, DisKnit, Blogless Michelle, Acornbud..."Merle's Door" by Ted Kerasote, which is basically the tale of Kerasote's relationship with his dog Merle, whom he finds in the desert in Utah. He tells the tale of bringing this dog home, and of their ongoing dialogue of walks, conversations, adventures and tiny moments, all the while weaving in anecdotes of animal behavior and canine history. This book comes with a huge Kleenex warning, though. Like all dog stories, it ends too soon, though I really admire Kerasote's commitment to NOT micromanage his dog. Spoken from a very dedicated micromanager of her canines, and of course urban Nuuanu is a far cry from Merle's home in Jackson Hole, but he's given me something to think about, anyway. The ending is just perfect, respectful and loving, and in the final resolution, very pagan in the telling. I kept reading the last 2 pages, over and over, crying and completely unable to put it down. It really has me wanting to read more of his writing about the wilderness, hunting and how we handle our relationship to Nature. I wonder if he will get another dog?

In happier news, there is the upcoming trip, tomorrow eve, to the Big Island, for the getaway with my absentee boy, P. Nice to get off this rock, even if it is just to another rock. To shop Hilo's swanky farmer's market, to eat the Two Ladies' Mochi treats, to go to Sig Zane and admire what one man does with fiber, botany and art. There's a sale on, but I won't actually be able to shop it til Saturday, (I'm tied up with a field trip with P - an experience in itself) which means that all the good stuff will be gone... long have I craved a piece of affordable Sig Zane wear, as I love his scientific illustration/culturally significant/hula-lifically correct spin on aloha wear. So say a little shopping prayer for me... Even without a lucky score at a sale, I'm happy to go to Hilo, anyway. One thing I'm not really feeling, is the need to shop for yarn. A perusal of my stash and my pipeline of "to be knitted" reveals an overload that should keep me busy for months to come. No need to add stash, not even the desire. I want for naught.

It is late, and I'm not even the least bit sleepy. I think I'll do some laundry and clean the kitchen.

Monday, October 06, 2008

swag and a full disclosure

Since I didn't make it to the East Coast, and more specifically, to DisKnit's doorstep last week, she sent a little Crafty Bastards swag my way.

Jumping for joy, here.

That's Woolarina handpainted superwash merino. I do love the Woolarina; in fact, a careful inspection of my stash reveals that it might just be the most common "brand name" therein, in terms of the variety of yarns. If you don't count Noro. (Noro doesn't count as stash, does it?) Anyway, the yarn was accompanied by a swell temporary tattoo and this year's Crafty Bastard satchel. This pretty yarn is destined to become another Forest Canopy shoulder shawl, I think. Last week, when I cast on for a sock, the whole sock thing felt like too much trouble, whereas, for some reason, lace doesn't feel troublesome right now. go figure.

Oh yeah. I am still on the nettle brew.

I'm on vacation, too, this week. Much needed, and relaxing in the extreme. Mostly devoted to housework and knitting on the long-neglected Icarus shawl, which, in spite of the effort and time I've given it, is damn slow and completely unchanging. Nevertheless, I am determined to whittle down my UFO pile, which, in the spirit of full disclosure, consists of:

- Must Have Cardigan minus 2 sleeves. Waiting on mojo, which has returned for lace knitting but not cables.

- Stockinette scarf of some chunky textural yarn from last year's Crafty Bastards. Cast on as an impulse (much like the purchase of the yarn) and going really fast, due to mindless stockinette.

- "Yo! Drop-it!" scarf of some vareigated red ribbon yarn from the days of yore. I think I cast on this thing when I was still living in Virginia...

- Fathom Harvill's "Coachella" top, in GGH Velour. Even if I finish this, I don't think I have the muscle tone to pull off wearing it. But I like it, and love the yarn, and thought it would be a fun knit.

- Icarus, about halfway through the endless repetition of chart 1's stockinette. Pretty laceweight merino, bought for me by my mom last year at the Virginia Fall Fiber Festival.

- Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, in some repurposed Koigu.

Not too bad a pile of UFO, I realize. Plenty of variety for the stitching rotation and to suit my whims. Trying really hard not to start anything new right now, and so am staying away from my Ravelry queue for the moment, though I've found an idea for a bag of Jo Sharp Silkroad DK that I've had marinating for some months, now. But that's for a later date.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

DisKnit: Before and After

I was thinking while I took a nice hike with Curtis through Rock Creek Park in our great fall weather about how it is hard to work well with other people. I'm having some office drama lately but more noticeably is around my condo where I and few others have cajoled, forced, manipulated the other owners into a "improve the looks of the exterior and get rid of the rat holes" project. Living in a Condo means that all owners have a proportional vote based on the size of their unit. My unit happens to be the biggest, but I also just chose to be the driving force behind this project. It has not always been smooth. It involved lots of time getting permits, which was another kind of attempting to cooperate in DC where all things are not very logical. (The tree removal permit is issued in one place, but you can't pay for it there. Fortunately, there is a way to get it in the same place you pay for it, but the person who has to do it treated me like it was both a burden and a huge favor to do it.)

Yes, all you tree huggers out there, this project involved the removal of one large holly and the severe pruning of another. Since this Condo has not done well on maintenance, both trees were severely overgrown. So now the front of our place looks very sparse. But since it was impossible to get consensus on what to replace things with, the front will likely remain that way for a year.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to get everyone to join in paying for the replacement of the back fence which was partially destroyed when an adjoining wall mysteriously fell. We could wait for that mystery to be solved by the owner who doesn't answer phone calls or just replace the fence. Unfortunately, my neighbors don't all want to trust the current contractor's quote. And I have refused (for now) to spend more of my personal time on the project getting other quotes.

I guess what it comes dwn is that it is hard to feel like you are doing more work than others, yet in most cases somebody has to do more work to get things done. I'm often one to be willing to do more work, but I do get whiny about it all.

Still, Curtis turned into a puppy play machine once he'd gone swimming in the creek and it was a lovely day, and I rather like our new sparse front yard. Here's some before and after pictures: