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August 2010
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October 2010

opinions plus some yarn

First - it is raining like heck here, which means that my hair is rebelling more than usual.


Second - I have been crocheting ...


... and got that cross stitch framed so that I can have all four seasons done and let my inner compulsive rest.


The pinky-red one in the bottom right isn't as pinky-red in real life. 

Third - I have opinions.

I do. I have lots of them. And some of them are about politics. I think George W. Bush was a whistleass. Sarah Palin makes me want to cut my ears off every time she opens her mouth. I think McCain's blind ambition and impulsiveness is what cost him the presidency -- and I'm glad he didn't win it. I don't know that Obama will be the best president ever but think that he's a damn site better than what we had or could have had.

I also think that the way in which we run our government vis a vis campaigning is deeply flawed. I think that we should find the person who wants the power the least and make him/her president. How bad could it be, really? It's not like the president can get a whole lot done even when he wants to.

You probably disagree with me. Go for it. That is totally your right. That's one of the cornerstones of how democracy works.

I wrote a book that is mostly about knitting. In the 60,000 words in the book, 200ish are about my political opinion, which means that .003 percent of the book is about how I view the political landscape. And yet that seems to be a huge point of contention, not only on blogs but in the Amazon and Good Reads reviews as well.

And that's fine. You are more than welcome to not like my book. There are aspects of it I don't like either, like the fact that I misspelled the names of a couple of important knitters, included the almighty Zimmermann*. That I do feel shitty about and will correct it when the opportunity presents itself.

What gets under my skin, though, is the assertion that my opinions don't belong in my book about knitting. Should I not have included any opinions at all, like, say my dislike for acrylic yarns or fondness for the works of Terry Pratchett? Or am I just not allowed to talk about anything that might be controversial?

Again - you are more than welcome to disagree with me. Lots of people do. You are more than welcome to not like my book. Again, there are many in that club. You can throw it in the trash or set it on fire. Knock yourself out.  But saying that the entire thing is about politics and/or I  shouldn't be allowed to express an opinion you disagree with is a little disingenuous, no?


* who called herself "the Opinionated Knitter," btw.

** I'd like a list of kosher topics, in that case. And for the record, like Chris Rock, I think anyone should be able to own a gun but bullets should cost $5000 each. I think the drinking age should be 16 and the driving age 21.  I am pro-choice but want better sex ed and birth control access so that the choice won't come up nearly as often. I also prefer cats over dogs. I have no opinion about the designated hitter.

many things make a post

* On athletes and mental illness.

* The beginnings of proof of what I've long suspected about massage.

* For the Jon Stewart fans.

* Scott Miller and Patty Griffin? I squee.

* Om nom nom.

* I might have to take the kids to see this.

* Sing it, Maureen. Sing. It. (Also related.)

* Our Doula K is keeping a blog about her family's year in Prague. 

* Tugboat Printshop hits all of my I-want-it-on-my-wall buttons. This might not be good.

* Technically literacy and home schooling.

* I think my husband needs one of these but I don't know if he'd ever wear it. Do they make 'em in flannel?

* A parenting reality check.

on apple cake

Usually on Mondays, I post pitcures from some fabulous adventure that we had over the weekend. This weekend, we had no adventures, fabulous or otherwise because, frankly, we are all a little adventured out. On Saturday, the Boy didn't even make it out of his jammies, which was totally fine. His entry into the kindergarten pool has not gone smoothly - mostly he seems to object to doing what is asked of him when it is asked of him, which has long been a driving force of the Boy's character since birth - and he needed a day to not be pushed. And we needed a day to not have to push him.

And so a weekend of not much. Scott and a rented undergrad resealed the driveway in preparation for the winter. I made bread. I also made apple cake, which is what I wanted to tell you about. There may be a picture here if I can find a decent one on my camera. (The pictures were universally bad. Do your best to imagine the cake.)

I've gotten into the habit of buying a half-bushel of apples every fall then using them to make apple butter, apple sauce, apple cake and, um, apples (for eating without any intervention.) This fall's batch of Cortlands was especially nummy and have been great for cooking with.

I screw around with the recipes for all of the other apple things but I always make the same cake.

And now I'm going to have to back up.

In college, six or eight of us lived in the same house. Technically, the boys lived on one side and the girls lived on the other. The kitchen on the girls' side was where we'd all hang out.

One day I came home to find a cake on the counter. It smelled like fall should smell, apples and cinnamon and brown sugar. When the chemistry major roommate wandered in - I'll call her Peace Corps because that is what she's doing right now - she mentioned that her mom brought it up with some other random stuff and would I like a slice?

Reader, it was heaven on a plate.

Peace Corps was the same roommate who spent a weekend playing with a stovetop espresso machine - this was long before Starbucks had made it out of Seattle - and getting us all teeth-rattingly wired for 48 hours. But that is another story.

I knew Peace Corps' mom could cook. I'd been lucky enough to stay at her house on numerous occasions and always left full to the eyeballs. But that cake was in another realm of good.

From that point on, every fall, Peace Corps' mom would bring a cake or two. And then we all graduated and scattered to the winds.

Scott and I moved to Texas, which was a kick in the head for a number of reasons. For the purpose of this story, let's focus on Austin's lack of seasons. Fall is one day in February when wind blows the dead leaves off of the trees. Winter is usually the next day. Spring is the day after that. And then summer starts again.

I was a little down during my first October in Austin. My life wasn't working out as I'd hoped - I was working long hours in a shitty Crate and Barrel knock-off in the mall for Pete's sake - and, additionally, it was still 100 degrees. Peace Corps' mom, after hearing how miserable I was, overnighted an apple cake to us. It arrived in pieces and we consumed every last crumb.

The next fall, I asked if maybe she could send the recipe? Which she did and Peace Corps let me know that the recipe was only a guideline and that, to the best of her knowledge,  like snowflakes, no two cakes were ever identical. But they each were delish in their own ways.

And every fall since I have made an apple cake using that recipe as a guide. Sometimes two or three cakes in a season, depending on how long the apples hold out. Mine, of course, haven't quite lived up to my Proustian ideal. But, really, what does? It's a very good cake even when it's not the best cake ever. I make the cake because one day the sorta-orphaned friend of one of my kid's will want to have one mailed to her because they remind her of happier times. 

I make the cake because it is time to make the cake.

(For the record, however. This weekend's cake was seriously meh. I think I have one more in me before winter comes.)

ETA: the recipe, such as it is, is in the comments.

qotd, writing advice

"The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love). The other thing to realize is that all writers think they suck. When I was writing “Eat, Pray, Love”, I had just as a strong a mantra of THIS SUCKS ringing through my head as anyone does when they write anything. But I had a clarion moment of truth during the process of that book. One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: “That’s actually not my problem.” The point I realized was this – I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows."

- Elizabeth Gilbert

actual knitting content, sorta

Here's what I have been working on:


While I was at Natural Stitches, I picked up the yarn for a Greenway blanket. There have been a few false starts, largely the result of my not knowing how to read and my lack of knowledge about crochet. I'm on a roll now, though - and will have to go back, pull out and re-crochet the first beige row because it's all puckery. That shouldn't be hard, right?

And here's the sock on deck:


The yarn (Spunky Eclectic sock yarn in Lobster) happened to fall out of Quinn's hands and into mine when she was last here and I loves it. The pattern is from Twist. We'll see how long it takes me to cast on. Care to place a bet?

felted nuts

I haven't been knitting all that much lately. 

I know. I'm a little surprised, too. 

But the projects I had been working on were simply pissing me off and have been put in the time out closet. I have a sock project all bagged up and ready to go. I want to work on it, since I think it will be lovely but can't take the time to start it, since it looks like it will require the use of my brain. And by the end of the day, my brain is done.

What I have been doing is crochet. 

I know. I'm a little surprised, too.

But I'm not quite ready to show that in progress yet.  But I can show you what the Diva (and friends) and I (and friend) made on Sunday.


There was fiber involved.


And warm water.


And friction.

Eventually, we wound up with balls.


Which, with the Pie Goddess' matching skillz and my hot glue gun magic, grew into little acorns.


It's not knitting. But I still dig it.

many things make a post

* Product not selling as well? Simply change its name!

* My next tattoo. (No. Not really. But still.)

* A student from my alma mater takes on the 100-mile diet for her senior thesis.

* I ought not be as amused by this as I am.  

* I would like to go to Cupcake Camp, please.

* Weep for the privileged class!

* Another winner from Hyperbole and a Half.

* What it's like to live with our cat Barney.

* I wish I had the patience and skill to make gyoza, for they are one of my favorite foods in the universe. Sadly, I have neither patience or skill or, sadly, a good place to buy gyoza nearby. 

* On "proofiness."

* From my Dad: How to spot quantum quackery.

* How did I not know that Karen Joy Fowler has a new short story collection out? I worry about my ability to pay attention. Also, The Pelican Bar, included in this collection, is an amazing, harrowing story that is so good I can't bring myself to read it again. And if that makes sense to you, you've already read it.

* I need another craft project about as much as I need to have steel sock needles jammed into my eyes and yet I find myself looking at Tolovana and Fjord Ponies and muttering "my precccccioussssss." I might have a problem.

in praise of the harvest. with bonus weiner

On Saturday, we went en familia to the Harvest Festival at the Farmer's Museum

The kids wanted to spend the bulk of the time milking the "cow:"


While the Hub did what men have done since the dawn of time, which is hold a lady's purse:


I checked out the prize -winning heirloom carrots:

I was not, however, allowed to take a bite out of one. The temptation was great.

For a change, Maddy was the one wielding my camera while they were playing on some hay bales. I think she did a great job:



I call this one Blue Steel.

Turnabout is fair play, of course.


In short, it was a fine time, tho we should have left about 30 minutes before we did, if only because everyone was a little too tired and cranky to get to the car without tears. But had we left earlier, we would have missed this:


Which is an entire wedding party, minister included, coming out of the church in order to greet the Weinermobile.