Dixie Peach: October 2006

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just to Make You Scream

Yes, it's about knitting. I know how to scare the pants off y'all with little effort. Still it's the end of Socktoberfest and so what better time show you what I finished today? Think of it as a Halloween fright.

The first of my saffron socks made from the yarn Belinda at Wool Bunny made for me.

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It's hand painted, 100% merino wool knit with 2.75mm (US #2) double pointed needles. I'm sort of sorry now for only making a 1.5 inch 2x2 ribbed cuff intead of the 2 inches I normally knit but I got bored to death with knitting that cuff. The larger than normal needles and slightly looser gauge means that the sock fits me without the normal extra stitches that I add at the cuff and decrease later but it also means that it'll probably wear out faster. Eh. I usually wear my hand knit socks only indoors anyway.

And can I just take this moment to say that the toe on that sock in brilliant? It's perfection! Look at it! That's one ass kicking toe!

I will knit its mate sometime next month or maybe even December. There's a pair of socks I need to knit for Darling Mollie and a pair for B that I cast on for this afternoon that is going to take priority. I really just wanted to knit this one sock now and get a photo of it so Belinda can use it on the Wool Bunny website to show off her yarn dying abilities. She makes some pretty yarn doesn't she?

Okay. Scary stuff over. You can stop peeking through your fingers now.

Monday, October 30, 2006

But Only Because I'm Too Lazy to Walk

Folks, if there's a bandwagon out there, chances are I'm going to jump on it and ride, ride, ride. Take the chance that others out there are having fun with something and I'm left out? Not on your life!

About a month ago I had said to B that I wanted to take a self imposed break from my computer, mostly to make sure I'm not too far behind on must-be-done-by-Christmas knitting but also to see if I could take a week's break from the computer world. Since 1994 I don't believe I've been away from using a computer for more than maybe five days in a row. That just doesn't seem right and I thought perhaps a break would perhaps serve me well. The week of Thanksgiving seemed like a fine time to do it so that's what I'd set my sights on.

That was until NaBloPoMo came along.

NaBloPoMo, dreamed up by the ever clever Mrs. Kennedy, takes the concept behind NaNoWriMo and sets it in the blogging world. It's pretty simple - post on your blog every day for the thirty days of November. And if you just don't think you can handle it but want to supoort those who are participating, read blogs that have signed up for NaBloPoMo or your own favorites and make comments on them.

That, my friends, is a bandwagon and by golly scoot over because I'm jumping on. I ain't going to miss this and then later see all the fun and frolick and drinking and dancing and making out in the corner while I curse myself for skipping the party so I could stay home and study algebra.

Still there will be those who crash the party. Those who just won't get what the whole thing is about just like they never get what NaNoWriMo any other blog posting exercise is about. Instead of participating and putting in any effort on their own they'll rummage through the participants' blogs only to pick things apart, criticize and make fun of others. They make fun of the whole idea of posting every day and don't get or don't want to get that it's an excercise to make better writers and discover blogs you never knew exsisted. There always has to be an asshole around to throw up in the front yard.

So go over and sign up - there's still time. All the cool kids will be there.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Caffeine and Rain

Last night I broke my normally strict no-caffeine-after-supper rule and downed a bottle of Coke Zero as I ate popcorn and watched three episodes of Babylon 5 with B. Three o'clock AM - - and I'm speaking of after the clocks were turned back so it was really like four o'clock AM - found me lying in bed trying to fall alseep and listening to the rain beat on the windows.

When I'm having trouble transitioning from merely resting to actually falling asleep I try to think of pleasant things in an effor to soothe myself to sleep. I was thinking that I'm quite content with my current life - really happy in fact - and I tried to think back to when the last time was that I was this content with my life. To the time when I felt very comfortable with being me.

My mind drifted back over the years - my working life, my first marriage, college, high school, on and on and the last time I felt pretty well in my own skin was when I was in the fourth grade. I thought a little more about my life as a ten year old and decided that I wasn't quite right with my life then. That was the year I had those horrible teachers that made us scrub down the classroom every week and the year my math teacher pronounced that I was a complete idiot at math and would never learn it. I thought back further in my life, discarding years due to one reason or another until I reached the time I was in Kindergarten. That was it. That was a perfect year in my life. I loved being that age and loved going to school for the first time. I loved my classmates and my teacher and I felt smart and accomplished and like I fit in perfectly.

What about the thirty-nine years after that? Well, we'll just say thirty years because I've been in Germany for nine of that thirty-nine. I think back on it all and see time after time after time where I made bad choices, wrong turns, taken the paths that lead me to some place I didn't want to be. I wasn't miserable all this time - I have many wonderful memories from my life - but there were enough errors made along the way to make me slap my forehead and ask myself what in the hell I was thinking when I made this or that decision. Not studying properly, not learning self discipline, hanging around people who only wanted to use me for their own advantage, letting my lack of self esteem direct my decision making, not taking good enough care of myself, staying in crap jobs too long, not claiming my independence from the oppressive influence of my parents - especially my mother, not using money wisely and worst of all, marrying a person I should have never even started dating.

They say that a person should learn from mistakes but never regret making them because those paths we choose have lead us to be in the place we are now. Is that true? Am I happy now and content with my life because ten years ago I had a terrible job and twenty years ago I married the wrong person for me and twenty five years ago I was a lazy college student and thirty five year ago I hung around certain girls only to seem popular? I suppose we can make the argument that I learned from these mistakes and learning brought me to the place where I'm happy but I am skeptical. It wasn't until I was content and could look back over the times leading up until now that I could recognize the bad paths I was on. Maybe I did learn lessons but I feel like I kept screwing up until I walked away and completely started my life anew.

Maybe I'm looking back over my life and seeing all the rocks and pitfalls and wrong turns I made over the years and they stick out so clearly because I did end up in a place where I am once again comfortable and content, just like I was in Kindergarten. It's when you have it so good that you can recognize better when you had it so bad.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Short Bursts Edition

There's not much of note happening around here so let's just hit the highlights:

~ Look! New sock pictures! Oh don't whine. I don't whine when you show photos of your beautiful children, do I?

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My saffron sock just after picking up the heel stitches. So far it's going well but I'm having trouble with getting ladders down the side where I do right decreases. That's happened on the last three pair of socks I've knitted and I think it may have to do the extra stitch I've been picking up in the corner. I'm going to have to try something different on the next sock.

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Look at that gorgeous colorway Belinda created! It reminds me of the Dalai Lama's robes.

~ While out walking today I saw an ancient woman walking her dog and shrieking at the dog "Stop! Stop pulling me along so hard!". She was walking a long haired chihuahua. I had to laugh at the idea of this woman feeling dragged along by what amounted to a rat on a string.

~ This afternoon while at a stoplight I saw the car ahead of me painted to advertise Die Singende Klofrau (The Singing Toilet Attendent Lady). I was so disappointed upon looking at her website to find that she's an entertainer and not an actual restroom attendent that sings. I'd happily fork out a couple euro to use the restroom if a floor show were included.

~ My friend, Laura, left me some magazines when she was here for a visit and I'm just now getting around to reading them. One is a celeb gossip magazine and I found myself flipping through the pages and too often saying "Who in the hell is that?". I've officially been out of the US long enough that I don't know who passes these days for a celebrity in the States. And I have this feeling that people in the US and perhaps these celebs themselves think they're famous all around the world but that ain't the case. If I haven't heard of you, then there's a good chance no one in Europe gives a damn about you either.

Know who is world famous? Bixente, the iPod. Well, maybe not world famous himself but his extended family is. Time to shuffle.
  1. And It Stoned Me - Van Morrison
  2. Down In Mary's Land - Mary Chapin Carpenter
  3. Love Is Like Oxygen - Sweet
  4. Brass In Pocket - The Pretenders
  5. Ordinary Day - Great Big Sea
  6. Atlantic City - Bruce Springsteen
  7. I Know You're Married - Rodney Crowell
  8. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
  9. London Skies - Jamie Cullum
  10. Within You Without You - The Beatles
Have a good weekend. Become famous or at least sing in the restroom.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Don't Hold It Against Me

I'm not feeling very put together these days so all I've got for y'all is the random and disjointed.

~ It seems a UTI has seen fit to take up residence in me so I'm literally feeling all pissy and cranky. And it didn't help that I had to stroll over to the doctor's office at 6:45 this morning so I could wee in a cup and get some medication. I generally only acknowledge one 6:45 per day and that wasn't the one.

~ Lately I've had a ridiculous urge to go to Scotland. Scotland in late fall. Gah - that's got to be a cold, damp experience. Then again if you're jacked up in a Scottish pub then maybe you don't give a damn about what's going on outside.

~ My jonesing for anything that even remotely Scottish-ish made me look up this last night. I haven't heard that song in years but the minute I saw the video I remembered waiting hour after hour for that particular song to come on MTV because I loved it. Yeah, occasionally my taste in music is not at all refined but a little crap music never hurt anyone.

~ I have decided that the merino sock yarn in the Gryffindor colorway I bought from Belinda at Wool Bunny needs a name change. First, I have another pair of maroon and gold socks that I already call my Gryffindor socks. Second, this maroon in this colorway isn't exactly maroon but not brown or red either and the gold is a deeper, more orangy gold. I shall now call this colorway Saffron because the maroon is very close to saffron stamens and the gold is close to the color of saffron rice. It knits up quite nice and I'll take a picture when I have more of the leg done. Yeah, yeah...I know. Can you at least pretend to be excited over more sock photos?

~ There's something wrong with me because I'm all excited about starting to watch the third season of my Babylon 5 box set, isn't there?

~ Uh oh. I have just admitted that I am becoming a sci-fi geek, take joy in music of questionable taste, want to hang out in Scottish pubs and have sweated over the nobody-cares-but-you name of a sock yarn colorway. No wonder I have a UTI. I was probably spoiling for it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cora Belle

Yesterday was the seventy-fifth birthday of my beloved aunt, Cora Belle. There was a nice luncheon at my sister's home and I was able to talk to them all on the phone while they celebrated. My sister got her an ice cream cake and said it reminded her of Aunt Cora - pink and pretty and sweet and a little nutty.

Yesterday was the anniversary of another sort. It was the seventy-fifth anniversary of the death of my grandmother, Cora Belle.

I know very little about my fraternal grandmother other than she died giving birth to my aunt. I don't even know the circumstaces surrounding her death except to guess that if you're in your 40s giving birth in rural northeast Mississippi in 1931 and something goes wrong your chances of survival are slim to none. I've always assumed that my grandfather must have thought a lot of her to name his last daughter after her.

It wasn't until just a couple years ago that I ever saw a photo of her. The picture I saw showed her with my grandfather - I never knew him either - and five of their eight children. My father was a few years away from being born and Aunt Cora would arrive nearly six years after him and we speculate that she may have been pregnant with my uncle Carroll - someone I didn't even know exsisted until I was an adult as he died from blood poisoning when he was around twelve years old. Another death of which no one spoke. Maybe there was really nothing to say. I like the picture though. I like the no nonsense look on my grandmother's face. She seems like she was the practical type, just like my father turned out to be.

As a child my grandmother was just a name to me. I knew she died in childbirth and that Aunt Cora was named after her. I never asked any of my father's older siblings about her. I never asked my father about any memories of her. There seemed to be a sadness surrounding her death and I never wanted to stir up bad feelings. My father never mentioned her. It's possible that it made him sad to do so but perhaps he only had hazy memories of her as she died about a month before he turned six years old.

Now that I've passed the age my grandmother was when she died, I wonder about her more. I wonder about what her life was like. How did it feel to have a child die before he had the chance to grow up? What was her life like with her big family? Why are there some big gaps between the births of some of her children? Did other children die before they had a chance to be born? I think about what sort of personality she may have had. I once met a woman who was a very close friend of my grandmother's. I met her about twenty-five years ago and at that time she was over ninety years old. I always found it humorous that my father was supposedly named after a man named Harris Dalton. The woman that I met was the person Harris Dalton was courting at the time my father was born and my grandmother had said that she couldn't think up a name for a baby boy so they named her after this woman's gentleman friend. The story this woman told gave me the impression that my grandmother had a funny streak in her. I'd like to think I got my sense of humor from her.

I wish I had thought more about my grandmother when my father was still alive. While growing up I didn't give much thought that my father had lost his mother by the time he turned six. He had older sisters and they took over doing mother-type things for him and Aunt Cora but that can't be the same as having a mother around. I wonder now how much it played into my father being somewhat distant from his own children. I don't know why I didn't think when I was growing up about the effect my grandmother's death would have had on my father. I wish I'd asked him about her. I wish I'd asked his older siblings about her. They're all gone now. The time to ask has passed.

There's a very old cemetary by a church five or six miles outside of my hometown. Two of my aunts are buried there. My great-great grandparents are buried there. My father is buried there. My grandmother Cora Belle is buried there. When I go there to visit my father's grave I see her own a few rows away and it makes me sad to look at it. It makes me sad to see that the date of death matches the date of birth of my favorite aunt. I feel sad for her family and sad that she never got to meet someone who turned out to be a wonderful, loving woman. I'd like to think that Aunt Cora got more from her mother than just her name. I'd like to think that they're just alike.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

It's Sunday - It's Socktoberfest!

So I've got less than ten days left in October and so far I haven't finished a pair of socks yet. I had planned on getting two pair finished this month but unless the second pair is for a toddler, that ain't happening.

Darling Mollie's sunflower socks are nearing completion though. I'm half finished with the foot on the second sock so I'm hoping that by late Monday or early Tuesday I can cast on for a new pair. I'm wanting to show off Belinda's sock yarn dying abilities for her Wool Bunny business so my next pair will be from the Gryffindor colorway I bought from her. Pictures will be taken so they can be put on Wool Bunny's website.

I had planned on knitting socks for my sister as part of her Christmas gift but I don't think that's going to happen now. I have all of November to knit but I want to get the Gryffindors done and knit one more pair for Darling Mollie out of the pale pink Regia Silk so that can be sent together with the sunflower socks before the holidays and then there's the pair I've promised B for Christmas and that chews up all my pre-holiday knitting time. Looks like Sister gets socks for her birthday in January!

And that sets up my newly found sock knitting guilt. I love knitting socks. I swear, I've lost interest in knitting anything else right now and I had high hopes of knitting me a scarf and two pair of handwarmers this winter. I just don't have the burning desire to knit them - socks are all that's got my attention right now. Getting the desire and drive to knit socks isn't the's the sheer volume of what I need to get done that's got me down. I've gotten lots of requests for socks and I am thrilled that people want me to knit socks for them. I'm excited to do it. I really want to do it. And I will do it. But I hope folks understand that they're going to have to wait for them. I'm not blowing off anyone's desire for Dixie knit socks. They'll get done. It's just that they may have to wait until the tulips are up and the cherry trees are back in bloom before I can fulfill their requests. I don't even have a good way to set the list of who gets socks from me first except the way I've currently been handling the situation (aside from socks destined to be holiday gifts) which is: I have sock yarn already assigned to certain people. When I finish with one pair, I will pick the next pair by my desire to knit that particular yarn/colorway. If it's your assigned colorway, you get socks. If it's not, you just have to wait until I want to knit that yarn. There's no favoritism - it's all determined by what yarn strikes my fancy and has nothing to do with the person that's getting them socks. And as ever, Darling Mollie gets one pair for every pair I knit for someone else. I don't dare break the Darling Mollie agreement. She's way taller than me and isn't afraid to use it to her advantage.

Thank goodness I don't have any real pressing dilemmas in my life. My problem solving abilities are only good up to a certain level of importance.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Overcast With a Spot of Sun Edition

This hasn't be a stellar week in the Peach household. It's not been horrible or traumatic but things haven't been going swimmingly. B's had a persistent stomach ache for nearly two weeks now that's connected to his physiology. People with spinal cord injuries can be healthy but since their nervous system doesn't work like normal it can create problems with how their body works - temperature regulation, circulation, digestion, etc. I don't think it's something serious - yet! - but he's been very uncomfortable and I worry about him. It's made him sleep poorly which makes me sleep poorly and that makes for two people feeling very, very sluggish.

Today was more of the same - him with a crampy stomach and me with a sharp headache that my normal headache medication wasn't touching plus I cut my right index fingertip while feeding the dog. I couldn't motivate myself today to do more than the bare necessities. I needed to go grocery shopping but instead opted to go up the street to Karstadt to pick up stuff to get me through until tomorrow. You know it's bad when you opt to do your grocery shopping in a department store. The weather today reflected our moods - heavy, gray, cloudy skies with bouts of pissy rain.

But like the sun that finally broke through in the afternoon there was one bright spot in my day. I was out walking Bonnie and saw a man on a bicycle with the most magnificent mullet I believe I've ever seen. Didn't matter that this guy is fifteen years out of style - this hairdo was incredible. This was a guy who has made up his mind to wear the hairstyle of his choice and since he made that commitment, he's determined to do it right. It wasn't one of those half-assed mullets that those who just can't get the mullet monkey off their back sometimes sport. Those "This? It's not a mullet! My hair's just a little longer in the back. That's all!" mullets. No, this guy's hair was the real deal - short and fluffy on the top, long and flowing in the back. It absolutely made my day. Not just to see a perfect mullet, which is sort of like seeing a dinosaur walking down Fifth Avenue, but to see that streak of defiance in this guy. Sure, he's out of style and has a laughable hairdo but damn if he's not being his own man!

Time to shuffle.
  1. Take Me To The River - Talking Heads
  2. Knoxville Girl - The Lemonheads (such a cheery pick for the day)
  3. Tonight, Tonight - Smashing Pumpkins
  4. Girl All The Bad Guys Want - Bowling For Soup
  5. The State I Am In - Belle & Sebastian
  6. Cruel To Be Kind - Nick Lowe
  7. Girls Talk - Dave Edmunds
  8. Fill My Little World - The Feeling
  9. Volare - Dean Martin
  10. Tall, Tall Trees - Alan Jackson
Bixente the iPod seems to be his own man too.

Y'all have a weekend filled with bright spots.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Jump Start

Two lovely, lovely friends. Two new online businesses.

Poppy - She's got an Etsy shop - Poppymom's Home Eccentricities - that's got some tasty, tasty stuff going on. Need a yummy gift for a co-worker or a teacher or a neighbor who did something nice for you? Poppy's got it. Or get some for yourself and make your mouth feel loved. You know I'm all over the Missouri white peach jam.

Belinda - She's got yummy stuff too but not the edible kind. She's got satisfying yarn in scruptious colorways at her newly launched website, Wool Bunny. Hand painted yarns! Quality stuff! I have bought from her and I can tell you she makes some purty, purty yarn. The Jungle Boogie colorway? Tell me it's not perfect for knitting a pair of socks for Mardi Gras! Need a custom dye job? Belinda does that too. And she ships worldwide.

Both Poppy and Belinda are just getting started with their businesses so go back lots to see the new stuff they'll be adding in the coming weeks and months!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Skin Deep

I have always had a fascination with cosmetics. From the time I knew what they were, I wanted to have them. I don't get this from my mother. She never was more than a powder and lipstick sort of lady - maybe a little rouge if it was a special occasion (by the way, at what point did we stop calling it rouge and start calling it blush?). I don't get it from my sister either. She took after my mom and seldom wore anything but lipstick until she got into her 30s. The person who gave me my love of makeup is my Aunt Cora. When I was little I loved to sit and watch her make up her face. Foundation, powder, eye liner and mascara, rouge and ending it all with the deep red lipstick she favored back in the 60s. I loved her collection of makeup and creams and lotions and perfumes and wanted them for myself. All those tubes and bottles and jars that would transform you into something gorgeous. They seemed like magic potions to me.

When I was thirteen and in the seventh grade I began to experiment with makeup myself. I didn't think my mother would let me wear it yet so I didn't even ask her for it but instead began borrowing makeup from friends in school. Lip gloss and eyeshadow - nothing that couldn't be washed off quickly as soon as I got home from school. This went on for a few month and then one day my mother came home from shopping and surprised me with makeup for my own. I remember very clearly what she gave me. Revlon Touch-And-Glow liquid foundation, a pot of Max Factor periwinkle blue cream eyeshadow, some Bonne Bell Lip Smackers lipgloss and a tube of Max Factor mascara. No powder and no blush but pretty soon I added those to my stash and I began pouring over copies of Seventeen magazine to learn what was new and how to put on makeup in the right way.

I soon became one of those girls who didn't go anywhere without wearing makeup. Pretty much the only activities I did makeup free were swimming and sleeping and if I could have worn makeup while swimming I would have. I remember my late 70s look - painfully thin eyebrows, eyeshadow to match my eyes, meaning only blue, heavy blush and really glossy lips. Lips so glossy it looked like I'd just finished eating an extremely greasy pizza.

By the time I reached college I had my makeup application routine down to a science and could slap on a full face in under ten minutes. Not such a unique trick at my small Southern university where girls were known to put on full makeup and set their hair in hot rollers before going to do their laundry. You just never knew who might have the washer next to yours.

When I entered the working world it was the early 80s and my makeup matched. Glossy lips were replaced by strong matte lipsticks and making the smokey, smoldering eyes look was my specialty. I look at pictures of me from back then and am amazed at the amount of eyeliner that I wore. It was the time of big hair and you had to have the big makeup to match.

By the time I left work for good and moved to Germany my makeup had toned down to match the times and I had to make another change. I went from going to a job each day to staying home every day and it seemed unnecessary and even a bit wasteful to wear a full compliment of makeup. I'd also reached the age where too much makeup makes one look like one is trying too hard to look like a teenager. I then went on my quest to find just the right makeup for me and it's taken me years to find what I like. I've finally whittled down my makeup routine to just using a light powder foundation, eyebrown pencil, eyeliner pencil, mascara and lipstick. If I'm going somewhere I'll add blush and eyeshadow as well. I don't have to do this. I could probably get along fine without any makeup at all since most days I don't venture off any farther than the end of my block. And while B likes my makeup, he likes me without it as well and leaves the question of whether or not to use it completely up to me.

But I can't break the habit. I love the routine of putting on each cosmetic. I love how I feel brighter and cheerier if I'm made up. It makes me feel connected to my other friends who adore makeup as much as I do and don't find it a bit strange that I can't seem to pass a collection of lipsticks without buying one. It makes me feel like I wanted to feel all those years ago when I would watch Aunt Cora transform herself with just a few little bottles and jars of magic potions. It doesn't make me a better person or more worthy. That sort of thing takes more than just makeup. All it does is give me a bit of frivolous happiness and feeling happy is worthwhile.

Aunt Cora turns seventy-five this weekend. She's still beautiful and she still loves all the girly-girl cosmetics. In fact that's what I sent her for her birthday - beautiful, fragrant lotions and creams. More magic.


I've spent two hours trying to write a blog entry. I was nearly finished when Blogger decided to act an ass and devour it.

I'm way too pissed off to try to rewrite it tonight.

So I get punished by my frustration and you get punished by having nothing here good to read. And somewhere deep in the bowels of Blogger, some poor bastard's laughing at the both of us.

He'll get his someday.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Forever and Ever

I could live to be 100 and I'll still think this is hilarious.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


To non-knitters the title of this post probably means nothing. To most knitters it means Second Sock Syndrome, a condition where a sock knitter finishes the first sock of a pair only to cast on for a completely different pair of socks because the knitter is itching to get at a different yarn. This may make for a less twitchy knitter but it does make for a lot of unmated socks. This condition is so common that I read about one charity that has sprung up to collect lone socks from knitters with Second Sock Syndrome so they can be donated to amputees.

However, while I do itch to get to my next skein of sock yarn, I do not indulge myself in Second Sock Syndrome. Some would say I have great willpower. I say I have a husband who's amazing at making me feel guilty for wasting time and yarn if I don't finish a pair of socks.

So in my case, the S.S.S. stands for Sunday Socktoberfest Stuff. That's where I update my fellow Socktoberfest participants and anyone else I've suckered into reading my blog when I write of sock knitting on what's going on in my double pointed needle world.

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That's the current pair of socks I'm knitting for Darling Mollie. I call them the Sunflower Socks because the yellow is like the petals of a sunflower and the cream stripe with the dark gray speckles reminds me of sunflower seeds in their shell. They're being knit from Opal Prisma on 2.5mm dpns - just a plain stockinette pattern with an eye of partridge flap heel. I realize that I just described this sock like one would describe a race car or a computer. I finished the first one last night at 3am while watching an episode of Babylon 5 and as you see I have cast on for the second sock already. S.S.S. averted!

Now for something a bit decadent. My current sock yarn stash.

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Each one of those balls or skeins represents a pair of socks for me to knit. The ten skeins on the left side of the stash is all my Regia yarn. I think I have a skein or two more not in the picture tucked away somewhere and when I find it it'll be like finding a fivver in a forgotten jacket pocket. Lana Grossa Cotton Maya and Cotton Fondo are the three big skeins in the middle. I'd like to say that represents three pair of socks but in reality I have doubles of each color so it's really six pair of socks. Two big skeins of Gedifra Sock Color is in the upper right and the rest below it make up skeins and balls of yarn I got from Poppy, Belinda and Kara. And I'd like to take this opportunity to pat myself on the back because three of the Regia colorways were bought at 50% off regular price. I don't exactly sniff out bargans but when one plants itself directly under my nose, I take heed.

That's nineteen skeins/balls of yarn there. That represents nineteen pairs of socks plus three skeins have doubles so now we're up to me having enough yarn to knit twenty-two pairs of socks - if I don't find my misplaced Regia colorways, that is. My life currently allows me enough knitting time for me to complete a pair of socks every two weeks and that's if I don't knit anything except socks. I have knitting lined up for forty-four weeks. If I don't buy a single skein of yarn more I can keep knitting socks until...what? July? August?

I don't need more yarn. What I need is more time. And more needles.

I think more hands would be a wish outside the realm of reality.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Friday the 13th Edition

I'm not normally one who believes that bad things happen on Friday the 13th but damn if today hasn't proved me wrong. The weather is horrible, someone put a sales flyer on my car and the rain made the nice shiny paper stick to the windshield, I've had a roaring headache all day, B's had a stomach ache for days, I got my ass into a misunderstanding among my extended in-law family and have only myself to blame for my contribution to it, and Bonnie threw up on my freshy washed bathroom rug (no evidence of tick consumption though).

And yet there are always some lovely bright spots in an otherwise crap day.

First, the postman came to my door - the hot one with the really good legs - and brought me a package from Poppy. Poppy has tried to learn to knit socks and she's just not taken to it so we worked out an arrangment where she sends me the yarn and I send her back socks. Very win-win because I love to knit socks for others and get to play with fun yarn but I don't have to pay for the yarn. She not only sent me yarn to be rearranged into socks but sent me some amazing cobweb weight kid mohair blend that will make an incredible shawl even if I do chance losing my mind while knitting it. And perhaps it was the identical cousin thing working between us but she also sent me her bamboo double pointed needles and one set was exactly what I've been needing. Needles over here are in millimeters - whole and half - and in the the smaller sizes they don't always exactly correspond to US sizes. To be able to tweak my sock gauge a bit better I've been wanting non-exsistant 2.75mm needles and since the needles Poppy sent were US sized, I got my 2.75 mm. Touch me! Add to it that Poppy sent me a bunch of great tea, which is just what my sour mood called for, and I was seeing some silver lining around this day's dark clouds. I have been heaped with affection this week and I am grateful for my lovely friends.

Now that the good stuff has conquered the crap of the day, let's shuffle.
  1. In A Big Country - Big Country
  2. A Million Ways - OK Go
  3. Hands - The Raconteurs
  4. Because Of You - The Mavericks
  5. Crazy Love - Poco
  6. Under A Violet Moon - Blackmore's Night
  7. In My Place - Coldplay
  8. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
  9. Try Again - Keane
  10. Do You Want To Know A Secret? - The Beatles
A shuffle reflecting the extremes of my Friday the 13th. Bixente the iPod always knows.

Hope your weekend is extremely good.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Identical Cousins

Poppy and I have joked for years that she and I are identical cousins, a la The Patty Duke Show We do have a passing resemblence to each other and I fancy myself to be Cathy while Poppy always seemed like the Patty type to me. I happen to know that Poppy loves to rock 'n roll and a hot dog makes her lose control, especially if green tomatoes are involved.

It seems that there's a chance that Poppy's dog, Murphy, and my dog, Bonnie, may also be identical cousins - as much as two dogs of undeterminable breed living on different continents can be.

I got Bonnie from an animal shelter five years ago. Bonnie is a friendly dog who likes people and loves to be petted but she's very skittish about anyone doing anything to her body other than innocent petting. I believe this stems from the time before she was in dog jail when someone else had her and had cut her tail off to a very small stump. This means that when Bonnie's got something wrong with her, it's virtually impossible to examine the problem or relieve her of whatever's ailing her.

Bonnie had a tick on her snout. We dread ticks because Bonnie absolutely refuses to let us pull them off of her. It's not so bad if one is on her doggy torso because one can usually sneak up and snatch off the tick but if the tick is on her head, it's usually there to stay. Try to pull it off and Bonnie's happy to lop of your fingers for your effort. It's as if Bonnie considers these parasites to be her friends - and really, who hasn't had a parasite as a friend at one time or another? B and I have even taken to making jokes about it, calling her blood sucking friends "Ticky". Bonnie and Ticky. Sort of like a Martin and Lewis of the animal kingdom but without the copious amounts of cigarette smoking and light comedic banter. We noticed the new Ticky yesterday and our feeble attempts to dislodge Bonnie's buddy was greeted with growls and snapping teeth. Today Ticky had blown up to gigantic proportions and we believed that a trip to the vet was in order. We dread trips to the vet as they usually turn into a major fiasco.

My day was already not on the best track. I'd spent the entire morning in my gynecologist's office and regardless of how old I get, it still feels strange to me to get that intimate with someone when there isn't dinner and a movie attached to the event. And since I just can't get enough doctor loving, I was looking forward to the montly visit from our regular doctor in the afternoon.

It was a full house in my apartment this afternoon when Dr. K arrived. My MIL was there as well since Dr. K treats her and B and me all at the same time in one visit. With Dr. K was her new assistant physician. Physicians in Germany wanting to go into private practice must do a year as an assistant with a practicing physician and Dr. K brought Dr. Whatever-Her-Name-Is on her regular Thursday afternoon housecalls. Bonnie loves Dr. K, loves new visitors and was running around acting a complete ass when they arrived. No report on Ticky how he feels about new visitors.

While Dr. Whatever was giving B a flu shot and Dr. K was taking my blood pressure and my MIL was fetching coffee and cake (we always serve Dr. K coffee and cake on her visits to us), I noticed that Bonnie was lapping something into her mouth, rolling it around and then spitting it out. Lap. Roll. Spit. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Friendships come to an end and such was the case of Bonnie and Ticky. Evidently Ticky had gorged himself to his limit and had falled off of Bonnie's snout much in the way a turkey stuffed husband flops over on the sofa after Thanksgiving dinner and turns on the Lions game. I don't know if Bonnie just didn't recongize Ticky and was picking him up out of curiosity (" this just some junk on the carpet or a leftover bit of doggy treat that fell out of my mouth yesterday?") or if she was wanting to take their relationship to a more intimate level but she continued the lapping and rolling and spitting. I called for my MIL to come get Ticky away from Bonnie but Bonnie was having none of that. My MIL would reach down and Bonnie would slurp up Ticky and run away only to come back and spit him out again. Finally Bonnie either was tired of the lapping, rolling and spitting or she thought the time was ripe but she finally swallowed Ticky. Well, that solved that little problem. Disgusting, but probably no worse than dogs who eat crap out of cat boxes.

Dr. Whatever had just given me my flu shot as was preparing to give my MIL hers. Dr. K was sitting and writing up our records. All seemed to be fine until we heard "WRRREEAAAAGGGHHHH" and Bonnie doing some deep gagging. Up came Ticky but not in his original form. There was no sign of the Ticky we once knew but instead Bonnie urped up a river of slime. Bloody smeared slime. It was like a vampire had exploded inside of her and in a way one did.

I know Murphy would be so proud.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The postman came around 2pm to give me a package. Kara had already told me she was sending me some sock yarn that was nice but wasn't in a colorway she really liked. I would never say no to free sock yarn so I said for her to send 'er on. The package arrived and I could tell it had the added heft of a jar of Hellmann's mayonnaise within its depths - Kara's one of my Hellmann's dealers. Just then B's physiotherapist arrived and I had to put the package aside to be opened later.

Just after the physiotherapist left the postman returned to deliver another package. I could tell it was from Amazon in Canada and thought that was strange since I hadn't ordered anything from Amazon anywhere but there was always the possibility that B had done it. We're forever ordering from Amazon and if Amazon in Germany doesn't have it, we're not beyond ordering from the UK or the US or Canada.

I asked him about it and he claimed ignorance so I became even more puzzled. Once the strands of packing tape had been sliced open I found that my sweet friend in Toronto, Carolyn, had send me this CD. She knew that I was digging Great Big Sea the mostest and she wanted to be the one to start me on my GBS CD collection. I couldn't help it. I got all teary. And then I put the CD in the player and dance around wildly. I am a GBS virgin no more.

Later after a wild dancing induced nap I remembered that I hadn't opened Kara's package to me yet. Armed with a carpet knife I hacked through the tape and I was floored. Sure, there was the promised sock yarn (Regia, to be exact and I like this colorway. Very springlike.) and the suspected Hellmann's but added to it were sugar-free strawberry Twizzlers. Oh yeah. I squealed when I saw those tasty packages of red love. But what really made my eyes bug out was what was taking up the rest of the package. It was yarn. And not just some ordinary stuff. People, it was baby alpaca. Three balls of a celery green baby alpaca. Baby alpaca that's so soft and fuzzy that you want to snuggle up and whisper loving words to it. Baby alpaca that's going to make a really great wrap and I just may snuggle up and whisper loving words to it. Was that all? Of course not. This package must have been sponsored by the letter A because there was more alpaca. Two big balls of a 50% alpaca, 50% wool blend that's in a really happy multicolored colorway that's going to make a really gorgeous scarf and maybe even something more. Damn if I didn't get all teary again.

I'll admit that it's probably a little silly and maybe a lot overdramatic to get teary over a CD and some yarn and mayonnaise and licorice. While I love those things, the reason I got all teary wasn't because I loved the things I received today. The reason I got all teary is because once again I was reminded of how much people really do care about me. That there are people out there who get happy because they made me happy. I'm thousands of miles away from my homeland and my family and most of my friends but I am not alone. People who are nearly on the other side of the planet from me still think of me and reach out to me and do little acts of kindness for me. That's why just the mere thought of these people makes tears spring to my eyes. The goodness and generosity of my friends never fails to choke me up.

I'm terribly, terribly spoiled. And undeserving. But I am very happy and very, very grateful. And I am very blessed to have such kind, generous friends.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

By Zeus!

I found this today and suddenly remembered my brother, Joe, running through the house with a baby blanket tied around him and him suddenly pulling my mother's high school class ring out of his underpants, jamming it on his finger and hollering "Olympiaaaaaaaa!!".

Scroll down the linked page and watch a whole Hercules cartoon, especially the theme song sung by Johnny "I Can See Clearly Now" Nash. Why is it I can't remember shit from college but I can still sing this song without missing a word?

Hercules and the annoying but faithful Newt. Clutch Cargo with the creepy human lips. Warner Brothers cartoons from the 40s and 50s that were at times amazingly adult in content. The very cult Mighty Mouse (the Krakatoa Katie episode being my personal favorite). The Flintstones, especially the episodes where a Hollywood star like Ann-Margrock would show up. Schoolhouse Rock that taught all of us who were in grade school in the early 70s how to multiply and what the different parts of speech are. The trippy H.R. Pufnstuf and the Bugaloos and Land of the Lost.

It would take virtually no effort at all to get me to watch that stuff all over again.

Monday, October 09, 2006

My Weekend in One Big Sentence.

Knit, shop, watch soccer, knit, talk to my sister, make chili, watch new Gilmore Girls DVDs, knit, read knitting magazines, hang new magnet board in kitchen without gouging out my eye, knit, do laundry, go see all the commotion a couple blocks away where they found an old bomb from World War II, marvel at the amount of ambulances standing by, knit, nap, watch NASCAR, walk dog, play online game with B, knit, make blueberry muffins, wish longingly for this, wonder why they don't sell 'em online, answer email, neglect to call mother, knit.

Not necessarily in that order.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Socktoberfest Stuff

Oh you know I can't go too long before I start talking about handknitted footware! I'd disappoint y'all too much if I did that.

Okay. If you're not a knitty type you're excused from reading. Scroll down and marvel my Friday Shuffle some more.

Some questions from the Socktoberfest knitalong:

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

I knit my first pair of socks just a couple months ago in July. With the help of this book and with the generous advice of other sock knitters I was able get over my sock knitting phobia and teach myself how to do it. Some of y'all are regretting that move.

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?

My first pair was just a basic pair of socks - 2 inch 2x2 rib cuff and stockinette stitch leg and foot knit on 3mm double pointed needles with Regia jacquard 4-ply sock yarn. Oh they're holding up alright. They'll probably hold up forever since I would never wear them. They're souvenir socks that I'll always keep because they were my first.

What would you have done differently?

Well I wouldn't have knitted them on those 3mm needles - those socks are huge! They look like something that should be hanging on the fireplace come December 24. I also know better about picking up the heel stitches and closing up those big ass gaping holes around the gussett. You can stick your little finger through some of those holes in that pair of socks.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?

Regia sock yarn is always nice to knit up. Doesn't get all splitty and annoying and the patterns on the self striping stuff is terrific. I have knit two pair from 100% handpainted merino wool from Sunshine Yarns. That stuff is a joy to knit with. Easy on your hands and the yarn makes the finished socks just beautiful. See?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I've currently knitting with Lana Grossa Cotton Spirit and that's very nice. Very soft easy to knit.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?

I knit my socks as I can't do more with a crochet hook than pick up dropped stitches. I have knit all of my completed socks on double pointed needles and currently I'm knitting my first sock on two circulars. I have to say that while I liked it at first, after I picked up the heel stitches and started on the gusset I started to not like it so well. I don't like doing the decreases in the middle of the row and they're not symetrical. I have attempted to learn Magic Loop but so far it's about as effective for me as eating lo mein with one chopstick.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)

All of my heels have been flap heels and with the exception of the first two pair of socks I knit, I always do an eye of partridge heel (or as my husband calls it, the "Partridge Family Heel"). I'd like to learn to knit a short row heel as I really don't like picking up heel stitches. That's the worst part of sock knitting for me.

How many pairs have you made?

So far I've completed five pairs of socks and I'm almost done with the first sock of another pair. And like most sock knitters, I'm itching to cast on for another pair but I'm determined to finish this pair on circulars first.

Questions over. You non-knitters can open your eyes now. There now. That didn't hurt too much, did it?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Lotto Fever Edition

Tomorrow in Germany the lotto drawing will be for the biggest jackpot in its history - at least 35 million euro (about 44.5 million US dollars). Everywhere lotto tickets are sold there are long lines of people willing to hitch their dreams to a line of numbers on a piece of paper.

I am no different.

Normally we never play the lottery. My MIL has been playing her same numbers for over twenty years now and so we've sort of let her take care of it because really when she wins, B and I win. But this grand jackpot seems to call us to make a greater effort and so this morning I dropped by a kiosk and played.

I got home, showed B the ticket and said "Know what this is?"

"Thirty-five million euro?"

"Damn right."

As we ate breakfast we talked about what we'd do with our winnings. We're notoriously stingy conservative with our money and naturally we decided that the vast amount of our winnings would be put into investments so that we could live comfortably on the interest alone. We then talked about where else we'd spend the money. A new home was an immediate choice and we had a discussion about whether we'd have a custom built home or we'd just have a big ass apartment. Both have their advantages, the biggest one for the house being that we could have German Shepherds. B loves German Shepherds. We'd get a new car for me and a big van that B can drive his wheelchair straight into so I could drive us around whenever the mood strikes.

B and I talked about how we'd be able to travel with him with so much more ease. With all that money it's no problem to fly first class and hire someone to come with us to help get him from Point A to Point B. Australia, America, around Europe - it would suddenly be within reach.

We then talked about to whom we'd give money. Our moms are a given - we'd give his mom a lump sum for her to spend as she pleases and afterwards we'd simply buy her whatever she wants. She's a simple woman with simple wants and while she'd likely live in a fancier home, she's not the type to go out and buy jewelry or a new car or round-the-world vacations. We'd put my mother in the finest care facility we can find once she's no longer able to live on her own and of course we'd spoil her with all the fancy things she may want. We'd give money to B's cousins in Australia and their four kids. We'd give money to my brothers and sister and their kids. We'd buy a car for some friends and others we'd help get out of debt so they can get a fresh start in life. Others we may treat to a new kitchen or a downpayment on a home.

In short if you've ever extended a helping hand to us, your willingness to make our lives easier now would be repaid in a way to make your life easier.

We talked about charities to which we'd make generous contributions - things ranging from help for others with spinal cord injuries to animal rescue organizations to charities working towards cure and help for those with Alzheimer's disease and cancer.

And we talked about the relief it would bring us to never have to worry about how we'll take care of B once we're both older. We'll be alright in any case but to never have to worry about having someone to take care of B should I be unable to care for him would be a blessing.

Of course the chances of us winning this grand jackpot are very small. We know that the odds aren't with us but talking about what we'd do if we should win is fun. It's nice to dream and it's even more fun to dream big. And you never know. Our chances to win are a good as the next guy's and maybe the instinct I used to pick the numbers was spot on.

Time to shuffle. And Bixente, my darling iPod, we'll keep you even after we're millionaires. You always give me your riches.
  1. Zieh Die Schue Aus - Roger Cicero (Swooooooon!)
  2. A Hard Day's Night - The Beatles
  3. She's A Rebel - Green Day
  4. King Of New Orleans - Better Than Ezra
  5. Metal Guru - Marc Bolan and T. Rex
  6. When Will I Be Loved - Everly Brothers (I'm gussing after I'm 35 million euros richer)
  7. There Goes My Heart - The Mavericks
  8. Ballroom Blitz - Sweet
  9. Five O'Clock World - The Vogues
  10. Where You Lead - Carole King
Have a weekend filled with all the riches in life.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Because I'm Addle Brained

I just ate a whole package of salt and honey covered peanuts and cashews. The whole package. The whole salt and honey and fat laden package.

I don't feel so good. The last time I felt this lousy after ingesting something it involved tequila and getting accidentally locked in the bathroom in a hotel in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I was thinking today about the music teacher in my elementary school. She was in her twenties at that time (although she could have been older - I'm notoriously bad at guessing ages) and wore mini-skirts - the only teacher in our school to do that - and taught us to sing by eschewing normal kid songs in favor of pop songs. I know the lyrics to Quinn The Eskimo not because I heard it a lot on the radio but because we sang it in music class. She also had three choruses - one each for the fourth, fifth and sixth grades, imaginatively named the Do, Re and Mi choruses - and virtually every kid wanted to participate if for no other reason than it got you out of school for one hour every Monday for chorus practice.

Mrs. A also had high ambitions for her choruses. Nothing ordinary for us - our repertoire included songs from Hair and Godspell and if that wasn't enough, you haven't lived until you've heard ten year olds sing I Don't Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar. As I remember the mother of one boy objected to him singing that song and during any performance it was featured he stood with his mouth closed. We also showed our civil rights awareness by singing songs like Black which features lyrics such as "Black is our color and we wanna be free!". Slightly ironic considering that our school had maybe ten black kids in total and only one black girl in my age in chorus. I often wonder if she felt empowered or embarrassed to be singing that song while stuck in a sea of whitey-white kids.

But Mrs. A's ambitions didn't stop there. If she could have three choruses then the next step would obviously be to select the cream of the singing crop for the special chorus and name it...Special Chorus! Special chorus was indeed special. Being a part of it meant that not only could you carry a tune better than average but it also meant that you'd get to participate in the yearly spring musical.

The first musical Mrs. A put on was The Mikado. Not too difficult. Back then Special Chorus was still small and managable. The next production was Oliver! and became a grander production with more elaborate scenery - or as grand a production as one can get with having a mini-skirt clad music teacher providing all the music with a solitary piano. The cast of Oliver! consists of a lot of kids anyway so it wasn't a reach for those cast as Fagin's urchins but our acting and production abilities were stretched to the limit with the musical we put on when I was in the sixth grade and proud member of the Mi and Special Choruses. That's the year we put on Fiddler On The Roof. We went all out that year. That's the year we had two instruments in the "orchestra" - Mrs. A on the piano and the assistant music teacher (and Do chorus leader) on the clarinet. Three if you count the few times the assistant music teacher had to play the violin to provide the fiddle music for the Fiddler when it was appropriate. Oh it was a sight to behold. Really, you can't fully appreciate a production of Fiddler On The Roof - any production of it - until you've seen eleven and twelve year old girls having to play the men in group scenes because eleven and twelve year old girls tend to be taller than eleven and twelve year old boys. They also object strongly to having false beards glued on to their tender pre-pubescent faces. Over thirty years have passed since that production and I imagine there is still lingering resentment from the girls assigned to play "papas" towards the girls still petite enough to be cast as "mamas" or "daughters".

No, I am not going to just get over it. That fucking beard hurt like a bitch when the moms who volunteered for make-up duty would rip it off our faces using Sea Breeze spray and a wooden popsicle stick to break down the glue.

The year after I left elementary school I know they put on a production of 1776 and it seemed like the end of grand designs. It's a step backwards after having had WASPy kids play Russian Jews to have WASPy kids play WASPy old colonial men.

I lost track of what Mrs. A did after that. She left the school not long thereafter, likely burned out from having to bang out all that music on that shitty spinet piano that belonged to the school and trying to teach kids to sing even sort of on pitch. She changed our lives though. Even though we probably weren't very good in terms of performance we did pick up an appreciation for music and theatre and life that went beyond the confines of our little community. And for knowing all the words to Good Morning, Starshine.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Linky Love

It's a holiday in Germany today and evidently Muse has taken the day off. A fancy way of saying that I have had a quieter than normal weekend and unless you want to hear more about me wrangling some yarn until it turns into a pair of socks, I ain't got nuttin' of my own for you.

But there are people out there with some good stuff so go check it all out.

Want some homemade gourmet treats made by a real gourmet? Poppy's got it for you. Folks she went to school to learn to do groovy cooking things so head on over to her brand-spankin'-new-we-ain't-even-scuffed-the-floors-yet Etsy shop and see what she's got to offer. And go back often because she'll be adding even more delectable goodies in the coming weeks.

I blame praise my friend, Carolyn, in Toronto for turning me on to Great Big Sea. Where have I been that I haven't been digging on these guys before? Oh yeah. In Germany where good music seems to get sucked into a black hole. I can hardly keep my butt off of YouTube for all my groovin' with these guys. And Alan Doyle is my new boyfriend.

Dear Fellow Sock Knitters (I didn't say that I wouldn't mention socks...just that I wouldn't mention my socks): This made my head explode into tiny, messy pieces. If you learn how to do this and show me proof that you did it, I'll send you a nickel and a PopTart.

If you're not reading Mimi Smartypants, you're missing out on great writing.

Click. Read. Listen. Watch. Marvel. Buy.