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actual knitting content, 2

I am always amazed at how quickly this:


Can become this:



Actually, it is all for the best. The mistake that the more eagle-eyed can see in the top photo was the sort that would drive me nutty by the time I got the blanket done. And, yes, it is an apple green baby blanket for the child-in-utero we call Nemo.

The whole ripping thing was made less painful by the fact that I finished a project that I am dead pleased with -- but can't show you a picture of because I know the person it is for reads the blog and it is for her birthday. Until then, please content yourself with an elephant tush...


and so we are back

Actually, we returned yesterday -- but it is only now that there's been a minute to actually post. Weird how that happens. I seem to spend more time preparing and recovering from a trip than I spend actually on the trip. Something is just wrong with that.

As much as I enjoy leaving the big city, simply because I get so tired of simply handing out money every 30 seconds for things that I've been conditioned to believe should be free, like, you know, courtesy, there's just something about NYC that is addictive. I miss it, a wee bit. And I've rediscovered how much I love Grand Central. The painted ceiling. The marble. The shops. Even the signage. Grand Central just always feels full of possibilities and of movement, but of permanence as well. I could spend a morning, I think, wandering about and watching the people and the place. Weird, I know.

It is also a huge terrorist target but I'd just as soon be killed there as anywhere else in the City, if that makes sense. Grand Central already feels like a wonderfully transitional place, as if any state is within the realm of possibility. It makes me feel hopeful, even if it could be the scene of a messy death.


A brief plug -- go see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It is simply charming, in a completely unsaccharine way. I mean, any show that has a catchy little number about an erection can't take itself too seriously, you know?

Another brief plug -- I am now a local newspaper columnist. I'll write one monthly and, I hope, manage to generate at least one piece of hate mail per column. Hey, a girl's got to have goals.

And a link that proves that Tom Cruise is completely out of his fucking mind. I'd like to tell him where to stick his vitamins...

black hole of slack

I am once again proving a cliche. "They" say that if you want something done, you should give it to a busy person. Now that I'm not busy, I can't seem to get off of the couch. Classes are done. The book is done. All of my freelance things for this month are done. On Monday, I actually cleaned the house. And, now, I can't seem to motivate myself to do more than watch tennis and knit. Not that these are bad things, mind, just that blogging will be slight when the computer is sooooo faaaaar away. (It's like a whopping ten feet but still.)

Also, blogging will be slight because the Hub and I are going to the Big City tomorrow for a work/fun trip. The laptop will come with me, but I make no promises that I'll actually write anything. We are going to see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I shall report back.

Oh, and on the tennis front, now is the time for the glorious red clay. Sadly, Andre Agassi is out in the first round. Sucky way to go, too, what with the numbing pain and all. The press conference afterwards was amazingly respectful and his answers were heartfelt. This exchange stuck with me:

Q. So many players reach into their 30s. They really don't have a viable alternative to life after tennis. You have so many options: a growing charity, a family. When you weigh what you could do as a full‑time parent and husband against being on tour, what is still the upside of playing? You don't have anything to prove, you've won all four Slams.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's what I do. I mean, it's what I do until I don't do it any more, you know. And it's given me a lot. You know, I'll assess the necessary components at the end of the year. But I can't afford to pollute the potential of my winning matches or tournaments with sitting on the fence, with where I am, what I'm doing, why I'm doing it. You know, some things you have to question; other things you have to not question. You have to just put your head down and work.

Words to live by, really, professional athlete or no.

fundamental differences

Interesting dream last night. In it, my mom and I were lying in bed, in the bedroom of the first apartment we lived in in Pittsburgh. (No need to page Dr. Freud. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, kids.) The door was closed and, every now and again, a random strange noise would come from the other side of it. I wouldn't say that it was an immediately bad noise, nor was it good. Just odd. It was late -- like 3 or 4 a.m. -- so things seemed much more threatening than they might in broad daylight. I woke my mom up and made her stay awake until she heard it. When she did, her only action was to get up and make sure the door was secure, then she went right back to sleep. This seems like the right behavior for my mom, and the dream did that weird thing where the scene and tone shifted suddenly. And, no, I don't really remember to what.

But in the shower this morning -- yes, I do some of my best work in the shower, mostly because it's quiet, I'm only sort-of awake and no one is in immediate need of anything -- I realized that this was one of the fundamental differences between my mom and I. I would have opened the damn door, if only to see if it was a ravenous bugbladder beast or Ed McMahon, both of whom make some mighty strange noises in the middle of the night, I suspect. While there is some risk, you can't deal with the situation unless you can see what the heck you're dealing with. That's me, tho. I'm not sure either response is the "right" one.

Here endeth today's psychoanalysis. Carry on.

because I can

One of the most irritating things about moving to a new town is finding great places to eat. Every place has at least one -- but it always takes forever to find it, especially if your local newspaper doesn't run reviews of local establishments. Two years (ish) ago, we moved to Oneonta, NY, which is near Cooperstown, which is where the Baseball Hall of Fame is. Oneonta, home to both a SUNY campus and Hartwick college, is a happening little place in its own right and is full of neat little shops, a nifty downtown, a thriving Farmer's Market and walkable neighborhoods. Also here is, for what it's worth, the Soccer Hall of Fame. No, I've not been.

We do have a local newspaper. (Disclaimer: I worked for them last summer and currently write for them.) Like all papers, it has things that work well and things that do not. Given how wee (in terms of numbers, not spirit) the editorial staff is, it is amazing that it is as good as it is. But one thing it doesn't have is restaurant reviews. I did pitch a column dedicated to the same when we first moved here. It was shot down for a variety of reasons, all of which are very sound. The most resounding of which is that restaurant reviews tend to piss off advertisers, which I know firsthand from my days at the Pulse. Any review, it seemed, no matter how stunning, always caused the restaurant in question to pull its ads. And if we reviewed a non-advertising place, they always vowed to never, ever advertise with us. While it would be nice to say that that sort of thing doesn't play into editorial decisions, it does. Welcome to the world.

(An aside: a German restaurant in Knoxville pulled its ads because, in an otherwise gleamingly positive review, I called the food "beige." I did not assign a value judgment to the word beige, nor imply that beige is in anyway less desirable, just that German food, generally, is beige. People are weird.)

I have, however, been bemoaning the lack of solid info about local eateries that a newcomer could make decisions from. And it dawned on me in the shower this morning -- why not just do it myself? After all, the blog has no advertisers, no overhead, no payroll and no mercy. It also has virtually no readers, so the repercussions will be few. If nothing else, it will give me something to look at in my dotage, to remind myself that I used to do things that didn't involve knitting toilet paper roll covers.

And if I can save one person from a bad meal or steer them to a better one, then my work here will be done. Which doesn't mean I'll shut up, of course, just that I'll be finally able to sleep the blissful sleep of the righteous.

Today's entry: Renee's Crossing. (In theory, I've set up a category called "Oneonta-area eats". If you click on the link at the bottom of the post, you should be able to call all of these reviews up. We'll see how this works in practice.)

The best thing that Renee's Crossing has going for it is its location. The restaurant itself is in an old train dining car that is now set up on a bluff overlooking the still-functional freight tracks. The car is a quant throwback, complete with luxuriously upholstered seats and old-fashioned luggage on the racks. During the meal, we (the Hub and I, with our equally foodie friends, the Grillmaster and the Pie Goddess) got to watch a train thread its way through the valley, which is just greening up. Spring comes late, here.

Sad to say, however, that the ambience (and the company, natch) were the best part of the meal. The service was dreadful. While our waitress was well-intentioned and eager to please, she didn't really seem to know what she was doing. Little things -- like refilling water glasses and clearing empty plates -- added up. She was cheerful, certainly, and would do anything (well, not anything) that you asked of her. But you always had to ask for crazy stuff like butter and the check.

But inexperienced service wouldn't be a dealbreaker if the food were good. It wasn't. It wasn't awful, certainly, but at $14-$20 per entree, my expectations were higher than, say, what they would be at Applebee's. Frankly, Applebee's is much, much tastier. My crab cakes were dry and bland, and no amount of remoulade or lemon could bring out much flavor. The Hub's seafood platter, while covered with various fruits of the sea, was unevenly cooked and not seasoned much at all. The Pie Goddess' shrimp scampi lacked garlic and the twice-baked potato required a good tablespoon of added butter to make it edible. The Grillmaster's steak, however, was cooked to perfection and my sweet bourbon mashed potatoes [which should be more properly called "bourbon mashed sweet potatoes," fyi] were lovely.

Desserts -- a chocolate mousse concoction and apple pie a la mode -- were clearly made off premises a couple of days earlier and the pie, at least, tasted of refrigerator. We would have been much better served to drive to the nearby Pie in the Sky (which I unhesitatingly recommend for ice cream) for a scoop or two of their fresh, homemade treats. Live, learn.

Part of me wonders if the whole experience was so very eh because it was a Wednesday evening and the B-team was working. But that same part of me gets a little pissed at the suggestion. We were still paying Saturday prices and should expect Saturday food and service, yes?

So the question that should be answered at the end of any restaurant review: Will we go back. In a word, no. Not even on a weekend. Not even in a box. Not even with a fox. It wasn't bad, really, just not worth the money and time.

Questions? Suggestions? Please comment...

quote of the day

From Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, which I suggest everyone read, even if they don't think they care for the subject matter, which is the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley and despite the fact that Vowell seems to believe that knitting and crocheting are the same, which they are not. (And that loud thump you heard was my eight-grade grammar teacher fainting when she saw the preceding sentence.)

The McKinley museum displays the silk bag where Ida kept her yarn and knitting needles, complete with a photograph of her dead husband affixed inside. That is how she passed her widowhood. She sewed a picture of her murdered spouse into her knitting bag and then spent the rest of her life in a rocking chair, crocheting four thousand pairs of bedroom slippers, seeing her dead husband's face staring up at her every time she reached for a new ball of yarn.
I think about Ida, the constant looping of her hook through the yarn, every time I play with my souvenir from the museum that I keep on my desk -- the McKinley Memorial yo-yo. It is the only yo-yo I've ever seen decorated with the picture of a mausoleum.

Shameless self promotion, 205 in a series

New column up at This one is about my Hub's hussy, whom he shares with about nine million men in America. Let me make it clear that there are about a billion things that I do that drive him batty -- I mean, just for starters, let's just look at all of the yarn and the books -- but he is a very good guy and speaks not of them. I am not so kind, it appears. Which may also drive him batty, come to think of it, but not enough to start the divorce proceedings.

We can, however, never actually get divorced while Mooch is still alive, since we made a pact long ago that the one who started the whole legal nastiness would be forced to become his single parent. It is an amazingly defective deterrent. (Well, Mooch and the fact that we genuinely like each other and are well suited, irritating habits aside.)


My sinus/chest/phlegmy ick is back. This time, it means business. The problem, I think, is that the docs are hesitant (and rightfully so) to give me any good, strong antibiotics given my delicate condition. So what keeps happening is that the germs are merely wounded, the weak ones are killed, and the ones that remain are pissed. This, in a word, sucks. And I seem to have pulled some muscles in my ribs while coughing last night. Add that to the general pregnancy woes and, well, I wouldn't come over to our place unless you want to be whined at. I'm going to give it another day, then call my doc again.