March 31, 2006


The Vampire put his Fritos in the refrigerator. On purpose. ???


The bones in my skull have overlapped a bit more or something, and I now have a ridge down the center of my skull. So. Should I be learning Klingon and shaving my head?

Or should I just be worrying about brain shrinkage? Maybe I should stop putting my head in the dryer when I'm looking for missing socks...


Who was God's role model?


When I was little and we were visiting my grandparents, I used to pretend I was asleep when my folks came to get us ready to leave, just so that they would pick me up and hold me for those few seconds while they carried me downstairs. I'm unsure whether that is sweet, shamelessly manipulative, or just sad.


I felt bad when the Vampire got too big for me to be physically able to carry him when he asked. I held him as long and as often as I could until then.


I used to feel guilty when the Vampire got sick, because I always rather liked it when he was all dragged out; it was the only time in his life (including infancy) that he wanted to cuddle.


The Vampire and I always race to be first to get to those thin skims of ice that form over puddles. We each want to be the one to break the ice... even though we are both as likely as not going to end up ankle-deep in muddy icy water, and then squelching through the rest of the day in one soaked shoe and sock.

The Vampire is faster, but I am sneakier, and more treacherous. I lure him towards the deeper puddles.


I made a big deal about The Cat being the Pirate's pet, and giving her to him as a Father's Day present. The predictable result is that the cat clearly sees herself as primarily my companion, but guess who changes the litter box?


There wasn't any real point to this blog entry at all, but you still read it. Why?

March 30, 2006

Forward, Brave Froggers

The Pirate originally was doggedly knitting away on a 36-stitch garter stitch scarf, but after knitting nearly two inches of woolly goodness, he got very frustrated with the number of mistakes he was making.

Lesser Mortals would have decided to give up (the Vampire, for instance, did exactly that a few years back), but although the Pirate decided to frog the entire project, he did not do this with Giving Up in mind. No, the Pirate is made of sterner stuff. He merely frogged the project in order to start over, his goal being that of perfecting his product and his design - he had decided on a slightly narrower and longer scarf.

He has improved, in a few short days, both in speed and in decreasing his number of errors, so that in two days he has knit past the point of frogged yarn and is now knitting up entirely virgin yarn. Woohoo!

Now, I know that you would like to see a pic of his progress, and I promise to encourage him to offer up examples as he goes along. But he still is at that beginning stage in which much of his time is spent in frustration with his own inability to live up to his perfectionistic standards, and he doesn't feel that a two-inch-long sample is something worth bragging about. I would argue the point, but I've known the Pirate for long enough to recognize when he's set his booted heels into the ground... he's not going to budge on this one. We'll have to wait for a while.

On the bright side, while he is still unnecessarily harsh on himself as a student knitter, the Pirate *has* volunteered that he has caught brief flashing glimpses of what we knitters see in the process: "I can sort of see that Zen thing you talk about..."

I think that's Progress, don't you?

March 28, 2006

In Stitches

The Pirate has my undying admiration (yes, that's a pun, go ahead and groan - we've obviously been spending too much time with hand-painted yarn around here).

Having struggled through a somewhat truncated gauge swatch of sorts, he has now embarked upon the official Knitting Of the Scarf. Without any pressure from me (other than my apparently annoying optimism and chirpiness on the subject of how well he is doing, when he is determined to gloomily reflect on every tiny flaw as being a glaring example of his total inadequacy as a knitter) he has been doggedly *and voluntarily* taking up his pointy sticks every day and adding a row or two. His speed has increased markedly in just a week, and his only real struggle so far has been the occasional accidental knit-in-the-stitch-below.

Which I think is pretty darned impressive. But he won't take my word for it.

So knitters and experienced observers of knitters: Am I leading the Pirate down the garden path, and is he right in thinking that having trouble with a stitch or two every other row is a sure sign of Knitting Doom? Or do you agree with me, and think that he's doing a great job for a first-week knitter?

March 27, 2006

Home From Foreign Shores

... Or, to be more exact, home from a few miles across town.

We are finally back (again) from sitting the Folks' Little Dawg, and the Folks are home safely from their rushed packing up of my grandmother's Chicago household. We now have:

~A couple hours' recording of the World Poker Tour

~5 hours' recording of STNG

~Two end tables

~A basket of dishes... no, two. Make that three (a matched and largely unbroken dining set! Woohoo! Wait... what are these? Fruit bowls? Egg cups???!!!! TWO matching teapots! Hmmm, starting to realize I got my 'collecting stuff' gene from *both* sides of the family).

~Note that included in that last para are several baskets (if you are a knitter, you know why baskets would be desirable... although now The Basket may take vengeance on me, if it decides to indulge in a territorial showdown of some sort)

~Stainless silverware, and theoretically more to come.

~Some photos and other small memorabilia

And a whole lot of things to be done around the house that we weren't doing while playing with the dawgie and watching cable channels and attending various dramatic functions and visiting nursing homes and running errands and buying stuff at IKEA.

The first thing we did when we got home was unearth the Chicken Wings of Doom that had lodged cleverly in a bottom corner of the fridge and had been lurking invisibly behind a number of innocent-looking condiment jars, producing the most nasty pong imaginable. After that we replaced the Vampire's ages-old mattress with a new foam one from IKEA (it unfortunately has turned out to be several inches shorter than his bed, but he really likes the comfort, so he may just decide to put up with the length deficit).

The next thing we did was sit on the floor and put together the little teeny desk-on-casters from which I am now typing as we speak. The Pirate and I were very pleased with ourselves, indeed - we actually got it done correctly, without snarling at each other, without *too* much swearing, AND THE PIRATE READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. And it didn't even truly put a serious dent in his self-concept as a Man (or, more importantly, as a Guy).

You'd think we were Grown Ups, or something.

Which of course was a bit scary, so we made up for it by playing video games and watching a couple episodes of 'Monk'.

All better now....

March 22, 2006

Progress, Slow But Steady

The Pirate learned a little bit about reading knit fabric yesterday, and can reliably identify a knit stitch and a purl stitch. When he asked about garter stitch and stockinette stitch he got a bit confused... I had trouble explaining adequately that we might call it 'stitch', but what we mean is stitch pattern.

We hope to get to the mechanics of actually producing a knit stitch today, and hopefully that will help to clear things up somewhat.


The house is full of smoke right now, but that's a good thing, because it is the by-product of the Pirate's activities in the kitchen: he fried up some very nice extra thick bacon that was just the right combination of chewy and crispy, he sauteed up a bunch of onion and garlic and mushrooms and other mixed veg, he added the veg mix to some nice eggs, added cheese, stuffed the results into a batch of tortillas, and is currently frying them up nice and crispy. Topped with our favorite salsa (or barbeque sauce, if one is the Vampire) and sour cream, this is Heaven, and Heaven is smokey. Live with it.

March 21, 2006

A Report On Our Progress In Taking Over The World

... starting where Charity starts. That is: At Home.

The Pirate was reluctantly dragged through the nearest local yarn store this past Sunday. So first of all we want to acknowledge his courage in facing a store full of arcane items of dubious purpose and women wielding pointy sticks.

Further, he not only resisted his Inner Cheapskate in choosing yarn (Malabrigo... hey, great taste, PirateDear!), but also eyed the thrifty grey plastic needles AND THEN CHOSE THE PRETTY LAUREL HILL PALMWOOD NEEDLES, even though they cost twice as much.

Don't get me wrong. He complained bitterly about the cost afterwards and threatened to return everything. He would never complain about it if I bought these things for myself, mind you... it's the realization that *he* had indulged himself so unnecessarily that brought on this fit of ricidivistic penny pinching. But in spite of his doubts, he has reluctantly agreed to stick to his guns and use the items originally purchased. I think it's something about my repeated paeans on the 'sensual' pleasures of knitting that got him... he's such a *guy*!

So here we are, poised on the brink of casting on, pointy sticks in hand. He is determined... not to *like* knitting, he doesn't promise that, but to at least give it enough of a go that he can at dimly understand a bit of what I'm talking about when I start to rant on ad nauseum about whatever I'm struggling over on my Addi Turbo's.

What brought him to this pass? Well you might ask!

Two things:

One is that last year I took out two (count them, two!) books about Football, and tried to memorize enough of the contents to understand something of what was happening on the Tube every Sunday and Monday night during The Season. The Pirate is nothing if not fair, and he appreciated my efforts.

The other is Brenda Dayne and her charming knitting podcast, Cast-On. Every Saturday night I leave the computer wheezing over the downloading of the latest episode, and every Sunday morning as the Pirate works away at his World Famous Omelletes Du Jour, I cheerfully play Cast-On at full blast while fiddling away at either my knitting or my email. Evidently it's nearly impossible to listen to Brenda without being infected with a desperate urge to fiddle with sticks and wool. I think it's the new sound-effect for Addi Turbo's that finally pushed him over the edge, although the Pirate insists it's the music.

Either way, we're on the way. The whole Gauge Swatch concept promises to be a hurdle - he's already muttering darkly about frogs and devious women - but I am told that in the next two days he feels he will be ready to take wool in hand.

I'm very proud of him.

One more convert on the road to World Domination. You're next...

Inadequate Thanks

Oh, oh, oh... I just opened a mysterious package I found waiting for me on the porch, and I WISH I could post a pic or at least a few gushing descriptions of what I found nestled within that box!

Unfortunately, to do so would probably ruin the surprise for two other people who are likely to read this blog, so I must heroically resist the temptation for the moment.

But I must say that they are two lucky gals, to be looking forward to such spectacular goodies... Chris is the best Easter Bunny ever!!

Thanks Uber Muchly, Sister-In-Pointy-Sticks! That is a real Day Brightener... I feel I have the energy now to face the rest of the week! :D

March 18, 2006

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That...

Yee Gawds (don't you love the way I use spelling to inadequately 'disguise' the fact that I am either a blasphemer or a heathen pagan wretch? you guess which...), but my car is UGLY! Being parked on a busy street during a major Meltdown is NOT a good idea. Obviously they salted my street... and since they knew that this snow/ice was all going to melt fast, I am taking that nice coating of sodium as a personal assault.

Not only that, but someone took a bit of Private Time in the Target parking lot in order to thoughtfully slam a few more dents in the tissue-paper-like sides of my car. I really appreciate that. You know, it's not like I *need* it to be Car Shaped. A little geometric randomness is probably good for the eyesight, or creativity, or something. It makes my car a little more Organic looking. Which is probably why that guy ran the red light in order to nearly kill me and the Vampire as we crossed Snelling the other day... he thought we were a big purple cabbage, and was seized with a craving for cole slaw.

I don't need that coating of paint, anyway. Rust is more environmentally friendly, I'm sure.


Really, I'm not entirely sure why the house and its current inhabitants are still in existance. From the sheer mass of dust I keep finding (well, 'finding' might not be the term I'm looking for... 'being ambushed by' might be more accurate, but even that doesn't fully convey the sort of Buried By Avalanche experience I've been having lately; I'm starting to identify my vacuum cleaner when asked if we store any weapons in our home), I can't help but wonder that there's anything *left* to make dust out of. Surely we should have been able to build a new planet out of the dust bu... err, dust elephants that I've been capturing and ejecting from the house over the past year or so. Is it just recycled? Is it sneaking back in under the door at night? If I left little offerings of food and blankets and maybe a space heater, would it all stay outside in the fresh air and leave us alone?


I've got something Mrs. Pao doesn't have. But she will, sometime soon. Hee...


Looking at teenaged girls from the other side of the fence, so to speak, I want to apologize to every guy in the world. I'm really, really sorry. Really. I've tried to make up for it by not producing any more of them. I know it's an inadequate gesture, but it's the best I can do.


Podcasts Rock. Knitting Podcasts Rule.

March 17, 2006

Oooo, What A Little Sunshine Can Doooo...


So. A little more snow, a little more sun, and this is what we've got.

That was then...

This is now.


Weird Parental Moments

The Vampire was the highest soprano in the large Minnesota Boychoir during his two-and-a-half-year stint there, so it was a huge shock to his system when he quite suddenly became a low baritone on his 11th birthday (more or less). He still hasn't entirely recovered his full octave spread, struggling with what is largely a psychological block regarding his upper range... still, his voice is quite pleasant and a bit unusual, and has a lovely timbre in the lower baritone/bass notes. At nearly sixteen, he's had five years to come to terms with the new voice, even though he says he hears something more like a highish tenor in his head.

We had the first read-through/sing-through for "Little Shop of Horrors" this past week, and to my surprise nearly the entire roomful of jaws dropped when the Vampire sang "Audrey vs. Audrey". A lot of the parents/staff turned wide eyes to me and mouthed "Oh. My. Gawd..." And afterwards several nice middle aged ladies slipped up to me and said, "We'd never thought of him as *sexy* before..."

Okay, there's a Weird Parental Moment!


Evidently people look at the Vampire, they hear what he *says*... and never notice The Voice.

Well, I suppose people get distracted by the kid himself - he's one of your geeky, sweet, theatrically silly, easy-going sorts of teens (probably not all that common, actually), rather than one of your smoldering, athletic, moody, James Dean types. You know; the kind of Nice Boy that parents like a lot more than the girls usually do. Like Earth, the Vampire can be easily labeled "Mostly Harmless".

But now at this rehearsal they were listening instead of watching, because they knew that in the play he is going to be backstage, singing into a microphone. As he stepped up to the piano they were imagining the Plant instead of the Vampire.

What they heard was a combination of Luther Vandross, Barry White, and... I don't know, something angry, Morrison, perhaps. Smooth, coaxing, seductive, then forceful, then murderous... ending with the kid's favorite, his Specialty: the gloating, threatening, insane laughter.

It's the Vampire's dream to play Sweeney Todd, or Jekyll & Hyde.

Of course, to me it's still My Boy. He sounds like he always sounds when he's singing in his room. Of course he sounds good, he always sounds good. I'm simultaneously proud, surprised, and a bit taken aback by the reaction of the rest of the cast and crew, the parents. I am, perhaps, indulging in my own type of blindness - as a mother it's easy to think of my child as talented, and clever (and lazy, and disorganized...). It's no great stretch to notice that he has a great voice.

But sexy?

Maybe I'd better plug my ears when he starts actually performing behind the curtain.

La la la la la...

March 16, 2006

Toona Face

Today I got the mayo out first. It didn't matter. As soon as the mayo came out, there she was, with the "I want my tuna can NOW!!!!!" voice firmly in evidence.

Yup, it's Tuna Face...


Life Without Internet Access

I've been living without Internet access and without Pirate access for quite a while, and... well, I'm sure it's not quite as bad as having one's limbs cut off, but one certainly does feel isolated!

And it may happen again at the end of this week, as I have to go back to the folks' place to sit the dog and watch the house again. I hope you will be patient with me, and not feel neglected enough to desert me entirely. Believe me, I am truly missing you all!!

Here's some pics to show you what we've been up
to in MN - these were taken on Tuesday, when much of Sunday/Monday's snowfall had already melted. It's been snowing all Wednesday night and so far today it is still falling at a pretty good pace, so tomorrow I'll try to give you some comparison photos.... although it's warm, so this stuff will probably melt quickly. The snow is very wet, so although it doesn't look that thick, it's very heavy:

This is my folks' front yard, with our car in the driveway. That blob there is *not* a bush, it's a tree that has been bent double by the weight of the snow.

These are some trees in my folks' front yard. They are huge. Aren't they pretty?

This is the folks' back yard. The tree on the left actually split from the weight on that branch. That big branch on the right is also broken from the snow-weight, although it's still hanging from the tree. If you look closely, you can see a smaller branch that broke off early in the snowstorm (there was a lot of wind for part of it) and then got buried.

Here's our car right now, on my street. The snowflakes are too small and fast to register on my camera, but believe me, it's still coming down.

That ends our tour for now.

We will update tomorrow!

March 09, 2006

Life, Interrupted

Entries are going to be spotty for a while, and I beg my Gentle Readers' pardon both in advance and otherwise, and ask for your indulgence. This is due to several sets of circumstances converging inconveniently, among which are:

The Vampire's schedule has suddenly become exceedingly busy and driving-intensive. Along with Fencing, Voice, Economics and Composition classes, he also has Schools On Stage (an excellent month-long program through the Guthrie) and rehearsals for the musical "Little Shop of Horrors", in which show he is performing as the voice of Audrey II, the cannibalistic plant/alien. As well as serving as general factotum and chauffeur, I have volunteered in several capacities for the production, and will be kept pretty darned busy both during and outside of rehearsal.

My grandmother, who currently resides in Chicago, will have to be moved to Minnesota and set up in a nursing home at the beginning of next week. This process will be both physically and emotionally taxing for her, as her health is exceedingly frail and her understanding largely unreliable at this point. There are various responsibilities that I hope to fulfill during this process, both here and in Chicago, which I expect will be time consuming and will take me away from home (and computer access) for extended periods of time.

I have to do our taxes.

We've been dealing with delicate life/emotional issues that have cropped up in the Vampire's life in the last couple weeks, and this has required a significant investment of emotional energy and of time. I'd like to add that the Vampire has handled these issues with a fair amount of grace and maturity, and I am proud to be his mother.

Hopefully these issues will resolve in part during the course of the next month, although "Little Shop of Horrors" will no doubt become more and more time consuming as Performance Time draws near. It's going to be great, though. If you live in the Twin Cities, keep an eye on the Theatrix link in my sidebar - you should definitely attend!

March 06, 2006

100 Things About Me Part III

51. My great-grandmother, my grandmother, and two of my cousins share with me the same mole in the same place, under the same earlobe.

52. My favorite dish is one that hardly anybody else would eat if they knew what was in it.

53. I sometimes bring it to Pot Lucks, and it's usually the first thing to disappear.

54. This generally makes me feel pretty smug.

55. I am insane about Christmas, as is my mom, and we've built up so many 'fun traditions' around it that doing them all takes up nearly the entire month of December. We're starting to have trouble scheduling them all in. But we try really hard. Because, you know, it's Christmas.

56. We've gone to the Dayton's Christmas display thingie every year since the very first one (that's over 40 years), and finished our trip with lunch at the Oak Room. My mom missed a couple when she was living in the wilds of Northern Scotland, but I haven't missed a single one. I cried this past winter when they started positing that new owner Macy's might stop providing one or the other or both. I'm REALLY attached to my Christmas traditions.

57. I have Scheuermann's Kyphosis.

58. And arthritis. If you've been paying attention so far, yeah, physically I'm a mess.

59. Mostly it doesn't bother me too much - you can adjust to more than you'd think, really. And there are certain gifts that come with not knowing how much more 'functional' time you've got. You tend to appreciate the time you have *now* more.

60. People amaze me on a constant basis. There are quiet heroes all around us, walking around looking perfectly normal - but if we knew most people's stories, we'd be amazed and impressed by nearly everyone we met.

61. You'd probably amaze me, too.

62. My taste in music is even more eclectic than my taste in books. But I don't like Rap or Heavy Metal or that dissonant sort of orchestral stuff.

63. For the most part, I don't like abstract art, either.

64. I adore museums of almost any sort.

65. Which makes sense, since they are great big collections of Stuff that I don't have to find shelving space or box space for.

66. Informational Stuff as well as Physical Object Stuff. I love it all. Museums Rock.

67. At one point or another, I've learned at least a small amount of French, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese.

68. The only thing I've retained is a small amount of French, the words to Havah Nagilah, the words of blessing "Boruch ato adonoi eloheinu melech ho-olam", and how to say 'please', 'thank you', 'hello' and 'goodbye' in everything.

69. In spite of being foreign-language-impaired, I've been paid to translate French and Japanese into English. Go figure.

70. I grew up Catholic.

71. My beliefs are unorthodox and highly individual now.

72. That doesn't surprise you, does it?

73. I didn't think so.

74. I hate extremism, and in response to an extreme statement of any sort I will frequently run out to the opposite end of an argument and jump up and down on it as emphatically as possible, even if I don't believe in it at all. I'm a stinker that way.

75. As I get older I give in to that impulse less often, because in reality it's a waste of time - extremists are rarely good listeners or deep thinkers. For some reason they rarely thank me for (publicly) trashing/forcing them to defend the foundations of their assumptions. Go figure.

March 03, 2006

100 Things About Me Part II

26. I've taken lessons in Tap, Ballet, Folk, Ballroom, and Belly dancing.

27. I am on the map. Literally. "Lost Girl Trail" That's me!

28. Although I earned the Title early on, I have continued to improve on my Getting Lost skills, and will probably do so until I can no longer propel myself independently. I expect that the last thing I do in life will be to disappear altogether while heading for the nearest bathroom. Nobody will be surprised.

29. When I go to any family gathering, the first thing they ALWAYS say is, "Did you find us okay? Did you get lost?" They usually say this with concern in their voices. This all comes from having had long experience of me.

30. I am head driver and navigator for my family.

31. I went to Europe for 3 months and always knew exactly where we were, where we were going, and how to get there, even though I rarely used maps.

32. I dropped out of high school on principle.

33. I was accepted by the University of Minnesota without my having graduated from high school or gotten my GED.

34. I once waited on a 3-person table at a pizza place and made them wait for an hour, dropped their first pizza on the floor, gave them the wrong pizza afterwards, spilled beer on one of them... and they gave me a $20 tip.

35. The first thing I ever said to my husband: "Good God, you're completely illiterate!"

36. I love seafood.

37. Except oysters.

38. But I love Oyster Stew.

39. I am allergic to the sun.

40. And possibly myself.

41. I've had a poltergeist (or something similar) since I was 20.

42. We went through a couple years where we hardly ever got our phone calls, because it loved to turn off the phone ringer. We tried three different phones, but it didn't help. It stopped when we moved... but then it just found new amusements.

43. The current amusement is dropping random small items loudly onto the floor just after someone leaves the room. Often the item dropped was not in that room in the first place.

44. This doesn't even seem weird any more.

45. I would think I was hallucinating about this, but several roommates have experienced it - including the Pirate, who is not in the least prone to flights of imagination.

46. I laughed at the end of "Love Story"

47. I think Baked Beans smell great, but I think they are awful. I think it's the texture.

48. I hate Summer.

49. I love fireflies.

50. When my husband broke his arm and was tranked up in the hospital, prepped for surgery and completely helpless, I played 'This Little Piggy' on his toes.

March 01, 2006

100 Things About Me Part I

I have finished the one sock, and put it on... and decided that I love the yarn but hate the sock. I'm going to frog the entire thing and do something else with the yarn. Because I can. So there.

I don't know if I will be able to accomplish this meme, so I'm going to take it a bit at a time. Maybe I'm too boring to have 100 things to tell?

Here goes!

100 Things About Me

1. I am a collector. I collect stuff.

2. I also collect hobbies.

3. I collect Useless Bits of Knowledge, too.

4. Basically, if I were rich I'd build something like House On the Rock.

5. I love House on the Rock.

6. I had cancer during my pregnancy with the Vampire, and was pretty much house/bed-bound during much of the pregnancy.

7. I had 5 miscarriages after that, the last of which was in the beginning of the 2nd trimester. After that we decided we must have done it right the first time.

8. I'm a really good cook, even though I don't particularly enjoy cooking.

9. I do, however, enjoy reading recipes and collecting cook books.

10. I am incredibly picky.

11. I'm pretty much a pain in the ass about that, actually.

12. I'm okay with being a pain in the ass.

13. I homeschool the Vampire.

14. I have really wide feet. Really wide. Reeeeally w-i-d-e.

15. I have a knitting book that is worth $250 if you 'buy it now' on eBay. It's huge and I rarely use it, but I seem to be unable to bring myself to get rid of it. What if I need it later?

16. I have a copy of 'Lord of the Rings' that is worth nearly $1,000. Priceless in sentimental value. I'm keeping it.

17. I have in my lifetime had cats, gerbils, hamsters, turtles, fish of various sorts, snakes, and rats as pets. I've never had a dog.

18. I used to have a beautiful lute. The owner of the store that was selling it on consignment stole it when he sold the store.

19. I actually knew how to play the lute at one time, but not terribly well.

20. I also know how to play the flute, recorder, oboe, piccolo, and djembe (African drum).

21. I have no clue how to play the piano.

22. I am double jointed.

23. I once got a toy rabbit for the Vampire, then put it on a shelf and didn't give it to him because it was too cute to let him get it all grubby.

24. It's still sitting there.

25. I have Benign/Familial Tremor in my hands, and it's gradually getting worse. I drop things a lot. It keeps me from doing the arts/crafts that I used to do. It sucks. But I can still knit.

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