Tuesday, January 12, 2010

ten things

Got the inspiration for this post from Lolly and decided to give it a try.

1. I am prone to insomnia, and have always been a little protective of my sleep; I get headachy and a bit crazy really quickly, upon sleep deprivation. My summer and entire early fall was affected by irregular sleep patterns, and I'm only just now getting back on trac. This year, in 2010, I am making a serious effort to get 7.5 hours per night. I'm about a week into Project Z, as I'm calling it, and it's going well, except for having to fight the temptation to stay up watching late night tv, and hanging out with my husband, who remains a confirmed night owl. I'm following the experiment going on over at Mason-Dixon Knitting, as Ann tries the same thing. Mostly I'm noticing that I DO have more energy in the morning, I haven't had a migraine in a week, and that I'm waking up several times a night and remembering dreams; I must be awakening upon the end of REM cycles? Going to bed early is complicated, though, and involves some planning. Last night, I totally thought I'd blown it, because I got sucked into watching a show on tv about Hoarding, and didn't go to bed til 11. So I re-set my alarm for 7am, and got roughly a good night's sleep... oh yeah, my computer isn't allowed to be in the bedroom after 8pm. I am usually (if a week's worth of sleep practice can be counted as usual) on my bed by 9:45, now.

2. I am fascinated by, and a little afraid of colorwork, in knitting. My knitting resolution this year (besides that monogamy thing) is to try to knit some colorwork. I've got Fake Isle and
Selbu Modern queued up to try, later this winter, and hope to cut my colorwork teeth on some cute hats. My knitting group is kicking around the idea of doing a colorwork knit along in the coming months.

3. I'm a bit of a phone phobe, and would rather email than call people. The huge exception to this rule is with my sister. We text some, but talk a couple times a week; long rambling conversations that usually take place when we're multitasking. Of late, we've been discussing knitting, a lot, and domestic challenges. Last night's random ramble took place in the grocery store, as I was desperately searching for Boboli crusts. Probably I would have been more efficient at finding them, had I not been involved in this babbling on the phone.

4. I adore cooked greens. Seriously, my favorite food, and I think the frequency of them in my diet compensates, somehow, for some of the sugar, animal fats and alcohol that also appear in there. Bitter greens just make me happy. Stir-fried with garlic and red pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice or mojo sauce, tossed in pasta, scrambled into eggs...yum. I think I might have weirded my family out a wee bit, when I served them on Christmas day. I've got a huge bag of collards in the fridge as we speak, just waiting to be cooked up with some black-eyed peas and cornbread. I'd say it's my Southern heritage coming out, but I didn't really grow up eating them in any huge amount, but it is definitely a passion in my kitchen.

5. After years of owning dogs (nearly 12!) and my readers know what a fervent dog geek I am, I have to say, I don't care for dog parks. Part of it is having a dog who is stressed out and snarky with other dogs his size, and who frankly regards little dogs as prey items, but another part of it is just that I see too many irresponsible owners, fights happening (or waiting to happen) and they are not for me, nor my dogs, both of whom went to dog parks regularly, in their time. I occasionally will take Ella, who enjoys a walk-through and meeting and greeting other dogs, though she does not play with them, usually, and still obsesses over frisbees more than her own species. I have also used them to work with Cricket on training issues, just outside their perimeter, or even in the park on a longline, but by and large, I avoid them.

6. I love thrift shopping, but dislike the smell of the thrift store. My finds get immediately washed and rinsed with a liberal dose of lavender oil, upon arrival home. I have not done as much thrifting in Atlanta as I would have liked to, thus far, and need to rectify that situation. Maybe today...

7. Yoga has made me more conscientious about pedicures, even if I give them to myself. The time spent looking at my feet has made me appreciate a nicely polished toenail. In decidedly non-yogic fashion, a topic of conversation in my current yoga class, these days, is comparing various toenail polishes. I didn't start it, honestly. Not sure what B.K.S. Iyengar would have to say about it.

8. Ella sleeps in our bed with us, but she always, always waits for us to give the "go hup" command to jump up on the bed. Cricket doesn't sleep in the bed at night, though he is allowed to lounge on the bed until bedtime. He's too big, is a complete space hog, snores loudly, and his presence provokes too much middle-of-the-night growling and grumbling, and watchdogginess from the cranky Ella who needs her beauty sleep. He cheerfully goes to his crate after the last trip outside, and is rewarded with a biscuit. I grew up sleeping with dogs in the bed, so it seems a normal thing.

9. What started me on the path to knitting, was the purely emotional purchase of a big bag of old knitting needles, at a yard sale in Davis, CA. My friends' housemate was moving to back Denmark and he was getting rid of all his stuff. I was perusing through the tables of his worldly goods, and saw that he was selling his deceased mother's knitting supplies. Mostly needles, and a few skeins of yarn. It made me really sad to think that this part of her legacy in life was just going to some stranger... though I didn't know her. The needles were the old Susan Bates colored aluminum straight needles, in different sizes, and I was thrilled by how pretty they were. The yarn was nondescript, acrylic mostly, with a ball of grey wool. I bought it all for about a dollar, and promptly stashed it off in my house, not to be touched for 3 years or so. Later, my friend Nora and I decided we'd teach ourselves to knit. I broke out the needles; big long pink #8's, and the ball of dark grey wool, which reminded me of Ella's fur so much that I used to pretend that it had been spun from her clippings. I don't use those needles much anymore; I prefer my Denise circulars, or the Lantern Moon straights, so I passed some of them on to my sis, when she was teaching herself to knit. I kept the dpns, though, and the stitch holders, and sometimes think of that Danish lady who used them so long ago to knit her son's sweaters.

10. In 5th grade, I had a kind of mean teacher. I used to ask a lot of questions about what we were going to do next, why things were the way they were, how things worked, etc. One day, she said "Kim, you're really nosy." in front of the class. I was only a little embarrassed, because I'd heard from my grandma that being nosy was kind of rude, and I knew I DID ask a lot of questions... but later, at a parent-teacher conference, she told my mom that I was "really inquisitive" and spun it out as kind of a neutral thing, if not a downright good trait. I never liked her much and felt sorry for her daughter, who was my age, for having to deal with such a snappish mom. A wall of orchids at the Atlanta Botanical Garden (the botgard, as we call it) which has a big orchid show going on at the moment.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

monogamy and continued cold snap

It's crackly, crispy cold outside. Temps ranging from early morning teens up to the high 20's the past few days. Cold for which I am entirely unprepared. Needless to say, my mom's Christmas gift of silk thermal underwear was a gloriously timely thing, and I'm layering like crazy. I had convinced myself that this is an unusual phenomenon in GA, but apparently we get a really cold snap every year or so, and people just seem to suffer bad amnesia or something. Nevertheless, the sunshine remains encouraging.

And, and, and...it snowed Thursday! Off and on all day, and into the night, all told, about an inch. Dramatic ice on the roads and sidewalks. My camera battery has died and I haven't taken any pics, so you'll have to take my word for it. Best of all, we got a snow day from school!! For an inch of snow? This is a crazy new world, but hey, I do not complain about impromptu days off, ever.

Knitting continues apace...I knit a few smalls, around Christmas: the Star Crossed Slouchy Beret, which I didn't make so slouchy, and don't have a pic of thus far. But it's getting heavy wear. This is a pattern that seems to be viral; I was first made aware of it by my sis, and then my knitter Jenn has been rocking it hard this winter, as well. You know how I am for viral knits. I also knit Toasty, out of my fetishized stash of Noro Cash Iroha.
They are very warm, but I fear they're taking a beating...funny, I've knit a few sets of fingerless mitts, and ended up giving them all way. Toasty is for me. There's also a pattern on that site for Toast, a simple stockinette armwarmer, which I've been tempted to knit, in some luxe cozy yarn, say something long that runs from wrist to bicep, so I could simply continue wearing my uniform of short sleeved t-shirt through these bitter months... I love the Toasty!!

And now for a topic that has never been dear to my heart... monogamy. Gosh, I love that old '80's video of George Michael's "I Want Your Sex" where he, in all his bisexual gorgeousness, writes "MONOGAMY" across the sleeping lover's back in red lipstick. Don't tell me you can resist George in that fleeting moment... but monogamy? Always a toughie for me. Either I wasn't or my boyfriend of the moment wasn't, and it varied, back in the day. Till I took those wedding vows, and now it's a non-issue. I am a monogamous woman. But as a knitter? Never has happened. I have always knit all over the place, on a dozen different projects. But lately, it has seemed, through the knitting of the smalls, and the good examples of friends, who seem to knit monogamously on one project ongoing, and finish lots of stuff on a regular basis, that monogamy is the way to go... So for 2010, I am experimenting with knitting monogamy. Of course this means that upon completing Star-Crossed and Toasty, that I return to my girlfriend, Pink Ariann. So it's all Ariann, all the time. I'm halfway through sleeve #2, now, and intend to be joining that sleeve and finishing this sweater up in the near future, because there are NO DISTRACTIONS on the horizon, if you can believe that. I put the Central Park Hoodie away, and frogged the damn Simple Yet Dullsville shawl, and have started to attend to my Ravelry queue a little more conscientiously. My plan is to finish Ariann, then work on CPH feverishly, til the Olympics. Then, I actually am going to cheat a bit, as I'm planning Talia for Ravelympics. I'm knitting on Team Middle Earth, from the Lord of the Rings Fan Forum on Ravelry, and I figured a vest was both a reasonable and useful project. I'm making it in the recommended Lamb's Pride yarn, which I love.

So, knitting monogamy... just an experiment, but still, stranger things have happened. I leave you with a blog recommendation: Use Real Butter, which I've been cooking from and enjoying for a couple of months now, and a couple of pics from my walk with Ella last weekend, before the snow grabbed us: Doesn't this pine bark look like bricks?
This same Nandina bush has appeared earlier this fall in this blog. It's got a decidedly Holiday feel to it, now, though.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Hail the new, ye lads and lasses...

Thanks for the compliment on Swallowtail. I didn't even realize I'd blogged it. I was trying to, but the entry wasn't showing upon blogger when I was in the process of doing it. Flickr and Blogger don't want me to know that they're secretly friends, I think. Hmmmm...

Happy New Year. A merciless cold has set in here in north Georgia. Temperatures in the 20's, teens and single digits by night, and suddenly my enjoyment of winter is coming to a screeching standstill. Mercifully, the biting, crackling cold is accompanied by brilliant sunshine, and a cessation of the endless mud and rain that had so plagued my days in 2009. So while I'm wearing long underwear and lots of clothes, I'm also not mired hopelessly in my own weather-related depression.

I've joined the working world, at last, with my math teaching gig starting up yesterday. I'm off Tuesdays, a situation I hope to remedy by subbing in local public schools, but am still completing the background checking, fingerprinting, etc. I went in to the math gig yesterday, for a faculty meeting and to look at some student work. It looks doable, though again with the mixed feelings about the culture of private vs public schools and where I want to put my energies in the long run. But a 2010 resolution is to spend less time in the winding halls of my head, and more time in the present, so I'm putting those angsts away for the moment and working to enjoy the kids, the math and the paychecks that will be rolling my way with happy regularity.

A few loose ends pictured here:

The first Christmas tree I've had in years! We never bought them in HI, because imported evergreens are a major source of insect and organism pests in the islands. I realized I'd left all my lights back at my old job, so I had to go out and buy new ones. I wanted all blue, but found the last pack of blue lights at Target, and felt the tree needed more lighting, so hence the colored lights. All the ornaments are old; collected over the years, gifts from students or from my childhood trees... The star is one that I bought in Sacramento, on a special ornament mission with DisKnit. It was really nice to sit in the living room with the lights off and enjoy the reflections and shapes the lights and ornaments made.

Remember the Christmas cactus I repotted for my mom last year? The one that had been in my family for seventy-odd years? Well, this fall, I brought it here, as my dear mom is not a coddler of houseplants. I kept it outside til November, and then brought it in to its current place under our skylight, where it proceeded to bloom for the first time in years, and earlier than it usually does! It was normally, in years past, a Valentine's bloomer, but the conditions and coddling with Miracle-Gro spurred it into action. A happy surprise, especially since I've been too lazy to force any amaryllis or narcissus bulbs to bloom indoors this year.

Also in the unfinished business category of things finally getting done, I spun, washed and skeined up the last of the blue and brown Romney roving. Got about 100 yards of worsted weight for my troubles. I think I'll do a felted project with it; as it's too scratchy to consider making something to wear. I had hoped washing it with hair conditioner might soften it up a little, but no go. Still, it IS pretty.

Ella appreciating my handiwork.

A goal for the new year is to take more pictures and to blog more regularly. Any progress is progress, I'd say.