Friday, January 26, 2007

Shaking my tiny fist at the yarn gods.

First, let me say that this little beanie hat that I'm working on for myself right now has knitted up rather nicely, stops and starts notwithstanding. It's got a nice diagonal-swirls effect that I rather like, and I think it will turn out to be a very nice hat indeed.

I have this problem all the time. I seem to be running short on yarn. I choose a project, I order just exactly the amount of yarn they (the yarn gods) tell me to, and somehow, inevitably, I end up here. Cursing the yarn gods because they tricked me again. I am looking at this tiny little ball of yarn in the palm of my hand, thinking, "There is no way this little bit of yarn is going to finish the top of my hat."
The pattern (meaning the yarn gods) told me that I should take care to not leave too long of a tail when casting on because this is a one-skein project, and it would use up exactly one skein of this particular (Shine Sport, from Knit Picks, if you care) yarn. So no waste, people! I cast on perfectly, leaving only a few inches of tail. And let me tell you, I've had many projects where I've underestimated (misunderestimated?) the yarn I needed and ended up with a 10-inch tail (ha, ha, very funny) dangling.
How does this happen? Maybe I accidentally knitted an extra couple of rows in the pattern (this is where Mara would cast me a knowing look and say "Well, DUH, didn't I TELL you you should get a row counter?"), using precious extra amounts of yarn, of which--MAY I REMIND YOU--we have none to spare.

Or maybe? (and this is really the story I'm sticking with) The yarn gods are out to get me. They will not be satisfied until I have pulled each individual hair out of my own eyebrows in frustration because I seem to run out of yarn on every freaking project I knit.
I admit, there have been cases (e.g. the First Poncho) where my math was probably just off. Because, you know, I'm a writer. Math is not my forte. Sometimes I choose a pattern, and then I pick a different yarn than what the pattern (read: the yarn gods) want me to use, and that requires calculation. And really, in these circumstances, I should consult a math-friendly friend (e.g. my husband) to make sure I did it right.
But this? This is ridiculous. I bought the exact yarn and the exact amount that the pattern (yarn gods) told me to buy, and I am still going to run out.
Oh.... maybe it was those extra four mystery stitches that I ended up with at the end of the round. They were not kidding when they said that no waste would be tolerated.
So now I have two options, and only one of them is truly feasible. I could:
a) unravel the whole hat, back to the beginning, do another perfect cast-on, eliminate the extra four mystery stitches, and use a row counter to be sure that my counting is flawless... because apparently, I don't only have problems with calculating, but also counting to seventeen.
b) order another damn skein of yarn.
Is it obvious to you what I am being forced to do now? Anyone who wishes to buy me gift certificates to may do so at any time.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My Pie is Better Than Your Pie

First, let me say that I was a domestic goddess the night before last. Arlo and his daddy were in bed around 8:00 (Ted's in the snow-removal business this time of year, so he's been working some very long and very early hours) and I spent my evening making pies and knitting.

Making pies and knitting.

Judging from some of my favorite activities, it almost seems like I should be wearing shin-length, pleated-front denim skirts and appliqued sweatshirts. And that I should have waist-length gray hair worn in a very simple braid down the middle of my back. (Okay, really, that part doesn't sound so bad. But NEVER let me wear pleated front-anythings. Are we clear?) And really big, really ugly plastic eyeglasses.

But that's not the case. As you can see from my previous post, I do not wear ugly glasses. I wear awesome glasses.

Here's the thing. My dorky habits are making me feel pretty cool this week, because:

a) I WON A PIE-MAKING CONTEST. We held our annual staff pie (and chili) cook-off yesterday, and my banana cream pie won first place. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing that would make you burst your buttons, but really? I haven't been this proud in a long time. I won a cash prize, a certificate (which is now displayed in the window of my cubicle), and the admiration of my coworkers.

b) The Cutest Poncho EVAR is nearing completion. All I have to do is finish up the hood and add some fringe, and it'll be done! Can't wait to see Ava (daughter of Leah and Mark) wearing it!

Hmmm, wait. I have to correct myself. The Cutest Poncho EVAR would probably have to be the one that Mara knitted this Christmas for the stuffed kitten which she also knitted ... made even cuter by the fact that the kitten's poncho matched the real-kid poncho that she knitted for her niece. If that doesn't make you barf rainbows, you have no soul.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Specs, Y'all!

Thank you, Michael Moore.

An open letter to W from Michael Moore:

Dear Mr. President,

Thanks for your address to the nation. It's good to know you still want to talk to us after how we behaved in November.

Listen, can I be frank? Sending in 20,000 more troops just ain't gonna do the job. That will only bring the troop level back up to what it was last year. And we were losing the war last year! We've already had over a million troops serve some time in Iraq since 2003. Another few thousand is simply not enough to find those weapons of mass destruction! Er, I mean... bringing those responsible for 9/11 to justice! Um, scratch that. Try this -- BRING DEMOCRACY TO THE MIDDLE EAST! YES!!!

You've got to show some courage, dude! You've got to win this one! C'mon, you got Saddam! You hung 'im high! I loved watching the video of that -- just like the old wild west! The bad guy wore black! The hangmen were as crazy as the hangee! Lynch mobs rule!!!

Look, I have to admit I feel very sorry for the predicament you're in. As Ricky Bobby said, "If you're not first, you're last." And you being humiliated in front of the whole world does NONE of us Americans any good.

Sir, listen to me. You have to send in MILLIONS of troops to Iraq, not thousands! The only way to lick this thing now is to flood Iraq with millions of us! I know that you're out of combat-ready soldiers -- so you have to look elsewhere! The only way you are going to beat a nation of 27 million -- Iraq -- is to send in at least 28 million! Here's how it would work:
The first 27 million Americans go in and kill one Iraqi each. That will quickly take care of any insurgency. The other one million of us will stay and rebuild the country. Simple.

Now, I know you're saying, where will I find 28 million Americans to go to Iraq? Here are some suggestions:

1. More than 62,000,000 Americans voted for you in the last election (the one that took place a year and half into a war we already knew we were losing). I am confident that at least a third of them would want to put their body where there vote was and sign up to volunteer. I know many of these people and, while we may disagree politically, I know that they don't believe someone else should have to go and fight their fight for them -- while they hide here in America.

2. Start a "Kill an Iraqi" Meet-Up group in cities across the country. I know this idea is so early-21st century, but I once went to a Lou Dobbs Meet-Up and, I swear, some of the best ideas happen after the third mojito. I'm sure you'll get another five million or so enlistees from this effort.

3. Send over all members of the mainstream media. After all, they were your collaborators in bringing us this war -- and many of them are already trained from having been "embedded!" If that doesn't bring the total to 28 million, then draft all viewers of the FOX News channel.
Mr. Bush, do not give up! Now is not the time to pull your punch! Don't be a weenie by sending in a few over-tired troops. Get your people behind you and YOU lead them in like a true commander in chief! Leave no conservative behind! Full speed ahead!

We promise to write. Go get 'em W!
Michael Moore

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Dear Elvis,
I did not forget your birthday yesterday. I know, I know, I didn't do the usual "sing-Burnin'-Love-at-the-top-of-my-lungs-in-the-car-on-my-way-to-work" ritual that you so look forward to every year, but I was observing your day a different way.
I abstained from blogging yesterday in honor of your birthday, Elvis. It was kind of like the Sabbath, you know? A holy day of rest.
Happy Birthday, sweetheart. Had you lived, today would've been the first day of your 73rd year. That means that, more than likely, we'd also be celebrating the anniversary of our marriage (the day back in 1994, when, at 18, I would have become your eighth--and final--young trophy bride).
Miss you.
Love, Jen

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Other Jen wrote back

A conversation with a friend this weekend reminded me that I never did post an update here about the Other Jen and Arlo.

You may remember that I experienced a bit of an identity crisis when I discovered that there was another woman named Jen out there (Providence, R.I., to be precise) whose toddler/preschool son was named Arlo. It threw me for a loop. I agonized over whether I should contact Other Jen, or if that would just be weird.

Well, of course I e-mailed her.

Here's what I got back:

Hello Other

Thanks for taking the time to write. I guess we shouldn't be too surprised, having the Most Popular Girl Name of 1960-whatever to 1970-whatever with sons with an Up-n-coming Boy Name (I know of at least 10 Arlos under 8yrs old). Thank GOODNESS our husbands have different names, or that would be really weird. But for what it's worth, my husband goes to Iowa frequently because his business partner is in Ames.

As for me, I am a designer and an author of web design books for O'Reilly Media. Arlo goes to daycare 30 hours a week which is when I get to work and do everything else in my life that isn't Mommying. Oh, and if you look closely, you'll see that (est. 2001) has been updated, like, 4 times since Arlo was born. I'm hoping to do better next year when I'm done with all this book writing! Never enough time.

It's no surprise that there's a link to my site from Mightygirl and Dooce since they are both friends of mine (Maggie is one of my dearests; I can't wait for her to be a Mom too). It's funny all the people the web site (and Liam's videos in particular) have caused me to cross paths with. I'm sorry that I don't have a Uncle Liam DVD to spare, but all of the videos on it are available on Liam's podcast, Lynchland. Go to Apple iTunes Store and search the podcasts section, or go to the link at

The kid's videos are sprinkled in between all the other weirdness that my brother creates.

Take good care of yourself and little Arlo!


So there you go. Other Jen apparently doesn't engage in self-indulgent dramatics the way that I do. I have to admit, I was a bit taken aback by her nonchalance and steadfast refusal to be surprised. I mean, her response (as you can see) is warm and friendly, genial as all get out, but for Chrissake, woman, freak out a little. Right?

No, probably not. That's probably just me. It was very nice of Other Jen to write back, and I do appreciate that she didn't treat me like an idiot or a freak or a stalker. I am none of those things. Except maybe all of those things, each on its own separate occasion. But I digress.

Anyway. I want to know what kind of strange hippie artsy-fartsy outpost Providence is, with all those little Arlos running around.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Things You Left Behind

Thanks to everyone who came to our New Year's Eve party on Sunday night!

In spite of the fact that Arlo had a delicious tantrum for the first forty minutes of the party--and that a sizeable contingent of party people staggered in about an hour late (lucky, lucky, lucky late people!), we had a splendid time. The good news is, the prime rib wasn't ready to eat until all of those latecomers arrived anyway (nay, even way after that), and Arlo did calm down and decide to eat a decent dinner: dark chocolate Hershey's kisses, Ritz crackers, and sour cream ranch dip intended as carrot dip but in practice licked from the sticky little fingers.

I would also like to report that:

a) I have been voted the Drunkest Girl at the Party, a distinction I wear with great pride and dignity.

b) Drunk as I was, my friends still trusted me with an incredible inventory of Things Left Behind.

I am publishing the following list for two reasons. First, because though I know who owns many of these items, I could use some help sorting them out. Second, because it's funny. I cannot believe how much detritus this party generated, and I have no idea how long it will take me to return all of it. Please feel free to stop by my house to claim any of the following:

2 dish towels
2 hot pads
silver platter
silver candy dish
pizza pan
white ceramic platter
9x13 metal pan
9x13 casserole dish
wooden serving tray
Cover Girl powder foundation and Great Lash mascara
multicolor scarf
box of dog biscuits
glass dip bowl
2 small green spreading knives
small black mug
10 beers
2 bottles of champagne
1 unopened bag of baby carrots
18 wine glasses
cell phone charger
and this plate:

You can see more party photoes on my flickr page and on Mara's too.