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September 2006
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November 2006

les chapeaux para los ninos

In honor of Stuff on my Cat:


Trout with one of the charity baby caps. There are three ready to go: one is above, one is white and one is green. The sentimental fool in me (and there is one who is just screaming to get out) wants to note that the white yarn is from the Diva's most recent scarf and the green is from the Dude's blankie, which makes me feel that some small part of my knittin' love will keep yet another kid warm. Aw.

While I have plenty of odd balls still lying about in the odd ball box, I think I've scratched my current baby cap itch and will move on. I may be sentimental but I'm starting to get a little tired of the tiny toques and will get these bad boys in the mail tout de suite.

And I'd like to offer a formal apology to both French and Spanish speakers right now. Yes, I know what I'm doing to your language. Sorry.

In the Shameless Self-Promotion Dept., I offer this review from the Oklahoman. While any publicity is great, this particular piece leaves me wondering which book the reviewer read, because I'm not overly certain it was mine.

In the Foodies Are Nifty Dept., Ruhlman amuses himself with testicles -- because, seriously , what is more amusing than a testicle?

In the Things That Make Me Miss Austin Dept., this new show from the Rude Mechs makes me want to hop a plane and come on down. As much as I love Oneonta, the theatre here leaves a bit to be desired.

In the Black Dog Dept., the past day or two have not been great ones. The weekend was a lively one, full of friends and kids and chaos -- but in a good way. Monday just sucked, tho, for a variety of reasons that involving my extended family and the minutia of life and a kid who's not sleeping well for undetermined reasons. Today, frankly, wasn't shaping up much better and would end with schlepping children around to beg for candy.  I had this gloomy, woe-filled post draft in my head about how the black dog feels remarkable close right now and how the damn dog is always there and I'm just so tired of it and want to sob and gnash my teeth but since that all takes far too much energy, I'm just going to curl up in a little ball on the bed and wait for it all to go away -- not that any of what is in my life is all that hard to handle but I'm just not feeling well equipped to deal with it right now.

And then my doorbell rang, just as I was sitting down to type about how I could really stand something pleasant right now just as a reassurance from the universe that this, too, shall pass. At my door was a woman with a bag full of cleaning supplies who was here to spend two hours in my house doing whatever I'd like (that, of course, involved the cleaning supplies). For free, because Creative Cleaning Concepts, who are my go-to gals whenever I have lots of money and no time (around here lately I've had the inverse problem, which is, I suspect, part of the cause of the blue mood), was running a promotion for its past customers.

The place now smells of Pine-sol and all I have left to do is clean the bathrooms. Then, for a few brief moments, my grandmother would be proud of my nice, tidy house. It's amazing how much that alone can buck up your spirits and how the universe helps you out every now and again.

Which isn't to say that I'm now feeling fabulous but I'm at least rediscovering some sense of perspective. And that's enough.

worst. mother. ever.

I realized this morning that we never carved a pumpkin in honor of the Halloween.

There have been other projects, of course, like the Hallowig and the monster wreath -- but no actual pumpkin. In addition, my attempts at costuming have been lame, at best. I believe the Dude will be wearing one of the Diva's old costumes and the Diva will be wearing one of her many princess dresses. Still, lame.

Here's the wacky part -- I feel guilty about this. I may actually scout around and see if there are pumpkins to be had, despite the facts that a) I hate carving pumpkins with a white-hot passion and b) don't really have time and the will to deal with it tonight.

Still, I don't want the niblets to feel deprived, even though they probably won't remember any of it 48 hours after Halloween.

It is days like this when I really wonder if I should be allowed to have children. I don't wonder this because I might be depriving them of a frickin' Jack-o-Lantern but because I feel insanely guilty about the alleged deprivation even thought no one has said word one about carving a pumpkin.


I think when our society reached a point where we no longer had to be consumed with stress and guilt about getting the kids fed and free of life threatening disease, we had to channel all of that energy into worrying about trivial crap like pumpkins and preschools and play groups. It's like Newton's little known Fourth Law -- worry about the kids can neither be destroyed nor created.


"You're entitled to the work, not the reward."
-- August Wilson, playwright and Pittsburgher, and lifted from The Amateur Gourmet

It's something to keep in mind, yes? Especially when one wants to sell billions of books and reap billions of awards?

I have done my work. I am entitled to no more. Anything else that might happen will be gravy.

Still, one of them genius grant thingies would be lovely, if you wondered what I'd like for Christmas.

(Parenthetically -- does anyone else always confuse August Wilson with Lanford Wilson? No? Nevermind.)

making the donuts

Loose ends, in more ways than you might think.

Firstly, for thems who care (and I'm looking at you grandparents), Cory had his 15 month check-up a couple of days back and all is well. We did learn, however, that he is 25.5 pounds and 33 inches tall. Which means that he is utterly average in terms of weight and taller than 95 percent of his peers. This also confirms that he will soon be taller than the Diva, who is 3 years older and only a couple of inches taller. Good thing she has started growing again, otherwise the power dynamic was about to get really, um, dynamic.

I have mentioned on quite a few occasions that I hate sewing but love fabric. Designers like Amy Butler tick me off. How gorgeous are her new fabrics? How fabulous are her new designs? How fraught with angst would be my even imagining buying the fabric and starting one of these designs. You can see the dilemma.

Lois McMaster Bujold, who we love, is blogging over at Eos. How am I supposed to get anything done?

Speaking of things we loves -- downloaded the new Firefox and it is very, very good. As soon as I get all of my silly bookmarks rearranged, it'll be very, very, very good.

Speaking of rearranging -- after years of denial, I've finally realized that my first sweater ever (and, not coincidentally, my most elderly unfinished object) should be recycled and the yarn repurposed. It is a great leap in maturity that I am able to forget that I worked for hours and hours and hours on something that will only make me look larger and lumpier than I am, which is large and lumpy enough, thanks. So during the course of last night's America's Next Top Model (Brooke? Really?) I ripped and ripped some more. Now to soak. As usual, pictures and plans will follow.

Now to make the donuts, which for me is grading the exams and the papers, which is far, far less satisfying than making donuts.

more book fest

Darnell Arnoult knows every writer who has ever lived below the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Mighty Mississippi. I am not kidding.

We share an editor, Arnoult and I, and Leslie (our shared editor) and Leslie's assistant Andy hooked us up with copies of each other's books by way of introduction. I got a good chunk of Darnell's Sufficient Grace read on the plane and it is gorgeous and lush and wonderful.

But that isn't my point of this post. Still, you should read it. And I say that not as someone trying to make my imprint some money -- dude, my imprint has Dr. Phil so it doesn't need me to pimp for it -- but as a reader.


In the span of the 45 minutes or so that Ms A and I had coffee on Sunday morning at the Southern Festival of Books, I got to meet a very bewlidered Kaye Gibbons (there was a story w/r/t her bewilderment that involved no sleep, a sick kid and too many planes), shared coffee and cream cheese with Margaret Sartor, who I totally want to have take my picture, and met Tennessean columnist Gloria Ballard and Dove-nominated songwriter Belinda Smith, who happens to be Arnoult's cousin.

And if there was a writer who walked past who Arnoult may not have known personally, she had a lovely story about them, like her tale of John Hope Franklin's humility and humanity. I have a suspicion that she is the hub of the Southern Writer wheel, if a hub who very low-key and social. It is a working hypothesis, anyway, and I dare you to offer up another that is as satisfying.

Among our many conversations was one that involved Amazon and how addictive it can be for writers to continually check, simply because you want some sort of feedback even if you knwo that feedback is faulty. I am guilty of this and have been known to get a little blue whenever my number is higher than I would like. The best idea would be to ignore it entirely.

You can't see me, but I'm laughing myself silly just imagining *not* checking it. As if.

As we were leaving, Arnoult asked me two questions.

"Are Scott Miller and your husband Scott the same person?"

Perhaps I was simply giddy from all of the coffee. It took me a bit to recollect myself.

"If Miller and I got married it would end like some Appalachian murder ballad," I explained, once I stopped giggling. "I love him to pieces but there would be lots of drinking and someone would get drowned. Or maybe shot, come to think of it."

Her second question is one that I hope gets asked frequently:

"What was with all the knitters in your reading?"

the Hallowig and the PINK scarf

As promised, the Hallowig, as worn in my downstairs bathroom:


It is an amazingly clever pattern, one that I would knit again, should I ever need another Hallowig. What are the odds?

As much as I tried to get a picture of it in glow-in-the-dark mode -- I failed miserably. It does glow, however, and I'll see if I can't get a better picture outdoors on Tricks and Treats Day.

Oh -- and I am in no way responsible for the wallpaper in my downstairs bathroom. In fact, I'd like it to be known that I am in no way responsible for the downstairs bathroom in general.

I also finished up the Diva's new winter scarf, made with yarn from my Austin trip:


It's the Debbie Bliss design from Pam Allen's Scarf Style, done in DB cotton angora.


The Diva approves. It's a good thing I got it done, too. It snowed (but didn't stick) yesterday. I suspect it's going to be one of those coat-under-costume Halloweens.

Further proof that it's getting cold:


Mooch has taken up his winter position. That is a heating vent under him, btw. His girth makes the image hard to interpret.

LogoThere is:
person with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I am unsurprised by this result but it is still good to know. Stolen from Snarkapuss, whose wedding was beautiful and who is also about to be an aunt.

Also stolen from my sidebar is this Creating Text(iles) post about her kitties and their havoc. I feel her pain. Mooch, while I was away, spent the better part of a day sitting outside the sliding glass door with a mouse in his mouth. Then he started tossing it in the air, so as to better enjoy its dead mousiness. Maddy, in a fit of her usual verbal flair, explained that "some cats kill mice" and then wanted to go out and touch it. I feel all icky just thinking about it.

Hopefully, tho, we will not see another repeat of the Heating Vent Incident, simply because the pointed stick seems to have gotten lost.

Other rabid fans of America's Next Top Model will enjoy this. (I think Melrose will take it this cycle. You?)

This morning in the shower I suddenly figured out what to do with all of the odd balls of yarn I have in the odd ball box. (Yes, I have an odd ball box. Say nothing.) I will be knitting baby hats, which isn't all that remarkable, really.

But while I was online at the Interweave site, where I found a place to donate said hats, I also clapped eyes on the preview of the upcoming issue. Holy mother of yarn! I must have the cover sweater. I'm pretty sure I have some yarn that I can use for it, too, even if I make the sleeves full length and the body just a scootch longer. Oh, you will be mine Nantucket Jacket. You will be mine.

(And if you and my yarn don't match well -- you will be mine Arwen's Cardigan. You will be mine.)

The Hallowig is done, btw. Pictures on the morrow.

a revelation

I used to hate flying.

"Hate" isn't the right word, really. I need one of those German cognates that denotes hate/knee-bending terror/extreme irrational thought.

Yes, I know how the physics of wings works. Yes, I know that I'm more likely to be killed driving to the airport. And, yet, that German cognate.

My only answer for a long, long time was to swallow a fistful of Xanax and hope for the best. Shortly after Maddy was born, tho, the fear of flying was replaced by so many other fears that it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Let me say that I'm still not a fan. A day when I am not in the air is a good day indeed.

But I don't mind it, really. Even better -- I've just come to find it ridiculous and annoying in equal measures. This has only been confirmed by the recent war on liquids.

What's helped, too, is a new ability to block out everything and get real reading done on flights. This past trip I tore through Robert Charles Wilson's Blind Lake and only read it on airplanes. A stewardess, in fact, was horrified by the cover. "What are you reading?" she said, with the lip curl of someone being attacked by turtle poop.

Little things like that make it all OK, somehow. And other little things like the ravenous trash bin beasts in Atlanta. Or the view of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan as you come into the hellhole that is Newark. Or the sense of limitless possibility of destination, where I could choose to fly to Toronto or East Timor if I can work out the cash and customs issues. Or the civic pride that's blazingly evident in the Cleveland airport, which does, indeed, rock.

In airports, I can usually feed my Starbucks addiction. On my way back from Memphis, I discovered that it was once again Pumpkin Spice Latte season, which is one of the many reasons I love fall. While drinking it, I hatched my latest brilliant scheme, whereby I leave signed copies of my book in airports across the country and let people see if they can find them, scavenger hunt style. The fact that most airport bookshops don't carry my book is a non-starter. I shall carry copies with me and put them on the appropriate shelf, faced-out if I can arrange it.

Mostly, tho, I think the German cognate has let up a bit because I love seeing other places. I can't really call myself a traveler -- I want my other places to have real beds and real showers -- but I can admit that I do love to just be other places.

Of course, now that I've admitted this, I'll have a series of terrifying flights and be right back where I started. I hope not, mind, but the fates hate it when you say these sorts of things out loud. Still, it's nice while it lasts.

quote of the day + shameless self promotion (2)

Q: "Do you think society is getting better in its attitude toward and understanding of depression?"

A: "I don't know. I would like to say that all of the world has become like Brooke Shields, 'Yes. Mental illness exists.' But my suspicion is that it's more like the Tom Cruise response where the feeling is that it's just the pharmaceutical companies selling medication and that there's really nothing wrong with you. 'If you try Scientology, you'll feel much better.' Or, 'try whatever brand of Christianity.' I think it's getting better, but we're not there yet.

"Depression and mental illness have always been labeled a women's issue. I don't think the numbers bear that out, but I think that's how it's viewed. The general societal response is, 'Suck it up girlie, and do as you're told.' I don't think larger reactions to mental illness will change until that attitude changes.

-- From an interview of Yrs Trly by Jerry Miller in the San Diego Reader.

Blunt, irreverent and probably offensive to legions, Martini always makes her point. Here, it is simply that, as she finds out, most new mothers "are responsible, reasonable adults who need to be less ashamed to admit that we struggle sometimes."

In asking for help, she sees that she did the mature thing - thereby stopping a runaway train, bringing some order out of chaos and realizing that, with treatment, there are "unseen benefits of losing your mind."

What is striking here is Martini's level of candor, sparing no secrets, her own or her family's or Appalachia's, and all the while maintaining a certain dignity for everyone concerned.

-- Review of Gothic by Karen Brady in the Buffalo News.

my compulsive wheelhouse

Curse you Apple Computers for providing the interface with which I can track both the status of my poor laptop and its progress across the country! I'm not generally obsessive nor compulsive but this ability to log in and see this sort of info is too tempting. Curse you!

And, for thems that care -- said newly-repaired laptop was in Wilmington, OH at 2:30 a.m. Allegedly, it will be back in my arms today. *sigh*

Oh -- and while I'm cursing things -- Curse you Today Show for spoiling who won Project Runway! I'm still going to watch the finale that I have on the DVR but, man, I hate knowing how it all turns out. I fart in your general direction, Today Show.

Anyone you'd like to curse today?