31 July 2005

Avoid the "del"

So yesterday I was writing along on that D thing I do with most of my time, and horror of horrors… I was typing forward but my laptop was going backward. The more I typed, the more it ate. There it went, just whirring across the screen… into nowhere. My laptop was sucking my dissertation into its rusty innards.

Yes, there was screaming. There was panic. There was pleading with a machine. There was random punching of buttons. Finally, I realized that the pesky little “del” button was stuck. Really, it’s surprising this doesn’t happen more often since this little gem of a machine has suffered much abuse and does owe me a few revenges. I didn’t mean to dump a glass of orange juice on it, promise. And all those times it got banged around in the car, not intentional. And I’m so, so, so sorry for staring at it with horrible expressions while I write. I’m just in pain because every word is being pulled from my fingers with the grace of using hot pliers to rip off a fingernail. Anyway, there was a kiss and make-up session and all seems to be working… for now.

Sometimes you just have to threaten these things by going on the Internet and looking for deals on new laptops.

Kinda like shopping for new boys… not that I’d do that or anything.

Anyway, before my week gets sucked into thin air like my dissertation, I should do the blog update. It’s been a busy one, folks.

Knit Knight

Ah, the knitting… it can only be improved with ice cream, which Laurie, Rachel and I consumed at exactly the same time since we learned that ice cream must be a group affair at Laurie’s. Not that we’re complaining… I mean, yeah, when you get out the chocolate ice cream I’m gonna join you. Rachel was gauge swatching (such a good little knitter), Laurie was working on a gorgeous scarf for a colleague (unless I steal it first), and I was doing a dish cloth for a housewarming present. (I forgot to take pictures before giving them away so I’ll have to do pattern updates later.)

We Are the Champions
You know it’s going to be a long night when after the first batter, the ump takes the girls’ favorite blue bat and gives it a toss as an illegal bat. Okay, I understand there are rules and all, but c’mon, you’re going to toss out the girls’ bat. Yeah, because we’re all hitting it out of the park. And the bat in question… a little league bat. It’s tiny, meant for 8 year olds. What damage are we going to do with that?

Curley demonstrates our exasperation.

Anyway, it was an epic battle for the coveted title of Thursday night co-rec champion, but the Mighty Marmosets pulled out ahead.

The Monkey Mojo was flowing.

Look out, Monday Night Champs. These chimps are coming for you!

AJ, This One’s For You
After the team celebrating, I attended a very different sort of celebration… a going-away party. Why they call these affairs “parties,” I just do not know. Unless you’re happy to be rid of some pesky sorts, why do we celebrate that our friends are packed into ten square feet of a truck to go off to new adventures?

Sure, I’m happy that AJ will have the chance to follow her heart and make lots of money as a big-wig lawyer, but I’m selfishly sad that I won’t be able to call her for pudding and Sprite when I get the stomach flu nor will we get together to play charades or go on rummage sale hunts. (Yes, I honestly enjoyed the charades. I know, I’m lame.)

I suppose that’s life. People leave. We have some drinks and enjoy some memories. We get a little sad that we aren’t the ones packing up our own U-haul (or horse trailer, take your pick). And then we go to house-warmings, a celebration of new living rooms to decorate with our sweeties.

Hilda’s House
Well, she lets Joe live there too as long as he remembers to put the seat down.

We inaugurated some new digs with a little paaaar-taaaay. Don’t worry, Maya, there was no 80’s breakdance jamboree nor were there any drag queens (at least that we know of). There was, however, an ode to bosoms composed (on the fridge) by the duo set to rival Shakespeare and Jonson, our own Rachel and Matthew.

And that, my friends, has been my week, aside from the countless hours at the library, in my office and the gym. No one needs to hear about the thrills of finding more damn articles to read or the joys of doing another round on the treadmill.

25 July 2005

A Little Geography Lesson

Do you ever have one of those conversations where you leave thinking the person must've been pulling your leg because, really, no one can be that stupid?

This afternoon I was leaving the mall after making some returns (buying the wrong size at Victoria's Secret, talk about being stupid...) and a man and woman approached me with the seemingly innocent question, "Is there a mall around here?"

Dumbfounded reply, "Um, well, there's this one," pointing to the large structure about 100 feet away. "And then there's one in Amherst."

"No, I mean, like a plaza, with shops around a parking lot."

"Oh, you want the outlet mall in Niagara Falls."

"Is it in America?" [Believe it or not, this isn't the stupid part yet.]

"Yes, it's on the American side. Just take this highway here and you'll see signs for the exit."

"Okay, see, I remember being there once and I could see the ocean."

Yeah, okay, for clarity, there is absolutely no way to see the ocean from the Gap Outlet in Niagara Falls. We're nowhere near the ocean. A big lake or two, but no ocean. Big, big difference.

I mean, c'mon, I slept through Coach Gourd's geography class every single day of sophomore year and I know that. [Yeah, I know, stellar student that I am, but hey, I sat with the football team and when the football team slept, so did I. I was sleepy after band. At least I know that the ocean is far, far away. I also knew that if I whispered the right answer to Cory, Coach would stop bugging us with his attempt at teaching and let us go back to sleeping. Hey, I'm no dummy.]

"Well, sir, you may be able to see the Falls in Niagara Falls, but no ocean. And the Falls are quite a ways from the mall."

"Okay, well, are there black people there?"

"Yes, they're surfing the waves in the ocean."

Okay, even I couldn't be that sarcastic. Granted, Buffalo has its racial problems, but I felt like telling the poor fella that he'd likely have more problems at Calvin Klein due to his barely clad woman friend than his skin color.

So after assuring the man that segregation has in fact been defeated and he can shop at the strip mall by the ocean, I went along my way wondering if the whole thing was an illusion caused by impending heat stroke. Maybe I'll go for a swim tonight instead of the treadmill...

24 July 2005

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Even grad students need to get out sometimes. Here are the girls in all our Saturday night glory: Maya, Hilda, Susannah, Rachel and I.

There was drinking. There was dancing. There was Cyndi Lauper music.

And since this was Club Marcella, there were drag queens. There was a former student doing a little underage drinking. And there were sequins... lots and lots of sequins.

After all, girls (and guys that want to be girls) know that sometimes a sequined Saturday night can cure all that ails you. Well, make that sequins and a few drinks.

Now back to your regular scheduled life. But maybe writing would be a little more fun if we wore sequins while we were all alone in our offices?

Hey, if that 50-year-old shoe salesman can boogie it up in a bad wig, leopard-print stretch dress from the 80s and fishnets, I think we could do a little bit of glitter eye shadow in the library, right?

12 July 2005

This post is brought to you by the letter S… for sweat

Dear MLA job gods,

Please, oh please, don’t make me move to the South to get a job. I’ll sweat to death in Atlanta. Or Mississippi. Or Texas. Can’t you arrange a job somewhere nice and chilly where I can wear hand-knit sweaters in July? Or heck, anywhere where I can wear normal clothes in July and not get sweat stains in unsightly places. No one in the world needs to see that the backs of my thighs are sweating when I get up from an evening of writing on my back porch. Really, a girl should be able to sit on her porch in the evening and enjoy some time alone with her main squeeze (i.e. the Retro Laptop Roy) without getting sweaty thighs. If I’m going to get sweaty thighs on my back porch… Oh, wait, mom reads this.

Anyway, can’t you arrange for a position teaching Victorian literature to Eskimos? I’d be very happy to be a wee bit chilled at the moment.

Thanks. My knitting habit will appreciate it.


Aside from the sweaty thighs problem, spent the afternoon commiserating with Erica about our poor, jobless selves stuck in the B-Lo. We swam, we sunned, and we sweat. Summer in the city… it’s a stinky affair.

10 July 2005

Some Crafting Content

Lest you think that we only shopped while in Missouri, I thought I’d start off with some actual results. Yep, hard to believe it, but I actually finished a project or two. First, I have these two watches to display. In engaging in one of my many bad habits, scouring the clearance aisle at Joann’s, I found these two kits for beading. It was pretty much a done deal at that point… a craft kit for a craft I’d never tried and on sale to boot. All I can say is MUST RESIST BEADING. These were rather simple projects and I’m generally pleased with the results. I think they’re both a little bit too loose and I wish the beading was a little tighter on the wires, but not bad for a first attempt. I ended up with extra wire and beads so I’m sure I’ll have to pick up some clasps eventually to make some matching bracelets or something.

I needed a simple knitting project for the plane and the only thing I had on wooden needles was my Irish Hiking Scarf. I’d started this last fall on our way to North Carolina for the Science and Lit conference and tossed it into a basket shortly thereafter. It was a simple project for the most part, but I did make a few mistakes here and there since I wasn’t always paying strict attention to what row I was on. I think the yarn is Lion Brand Wool-Ease, but I’m not sure since I’ve lost the bands long ago. I’m pretty sure the scarf took 2 ½ skeins, but again, didn’t keep track. I’m pretty pleased with this one and have since started wrist warmers and a hat to match. I’ll give all the pattern details when I finish the set.

Since I was almost finished with the cable scarf, I needed a change of pace for the place ride back and I wanted to make something as a thank you for Enabler Marcy. I’d been wanting to try Branching Out from the Spring issue of Knitty so I found some Bernat Cotton Tot yarn and gave it a try. I didn’t use the entire skein since the scarf seemed long enough although I think in the future I’d make mine a little longer. I just prefer longer scarves to wrap around several times. The pattern wasn’t too hard although there are mistakes along the way. I enjoyed using the yarn and it didn’t make my hands hurt on the bamboo needles. (I’ve had problems with cotton yarn on metal needles.) I’d definitely use this yarn again although I’m not sure how well it will hold up for an adult sweater. Overall, good project and very fast (I did almost all of this scarf on the return trip to Buffalo).

Project: Branching Out from Knitty.com
Yarn: Bernat Cotton Tots in Little Boy Blue; almost one full skein
Needles: Size 8 bamboo dpns
Started: 4 July 2005 Finished 6 July 2005
Recipient: Marcy Hamilton, the Quilt Camp Diva/Fabric Stash Enabler

Now, before anyone gives me a hard time, let me show you how I spent the bulk of my weekend.

Yes, folks, that would be the handy dandy notebook (laptop) from college graduation. In other words, it's really old. Despite the gorgeous Buffalo weather, my hiney, coffee cup and books spent the days on the back deck listening to the classy neighbors beat their annoying kids while I pounded away on the diss. The good times just don't die.

Points for anyone who can identify my makeshift outdoor desk.

08 July 2005

Missouri Mayhem

What, you mean you actually want me to write on this here blog? I’m shocked! Well, lest you think I’ve crawled into a hole with some big Jane Austen book the past few weeks, I’ll try to do some updating.

Now, I know you’re dying to hear stories of fried genitalia (Maya) and other assorted Missouri oddities, but I’m sorry/relieved to report that the Midwest vacation only offered up pretty typical fare. Well, I did determine that despite being raised by wolves, I seem to have a genetic predisposition to buy those infamous fat quarters, but more on that later.

Let Them Eat Cake!
Shouldn’t every vacation begin with a party? And what better kind of party than a first birthday party? Actually, every vacation should begin with Mexican food and shopping, which of course we did. Ahhh, real enchiladas and empanadas topped off with a mango margarita… let the festivities begin! Anyway, post-Mexican-gorging, we threw quite a fete for the newest addition to the clan, little Drewbie. He got the usual menagerie of noisy toys and even politely showed interest in new clothes. We were really all just waiting for the messy cake diving. There was a little bit of blue icing under the chin, but overall, the kid is just too neat. I was slightly concerned until Miss Hot Pants Mikayla told me she had “plans” for Drew and was going to teach him to make a mess. Can’t wait to see the kids’ table at Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t worry, Sarah, we won’t let him learn too many bad habits… yet.

The main event was followed by swimming at the farm and the usual Graff family pool party. The pool was full. The kitchen table was fuller. Gotta refuel after all that strenuous standing in the shallow and watching the kids splash, right? We followed the “if you can see it, you can eat it” rule, which had nearly everyone digging in the pantry and fridge for assorted treats. Forget fancy party planning around my family. Just pass the chicken salad without green things and hope that the chips aren’t stale.

One Day at Quilt Camp…
Yes, the joke that never seems to die… Anyway, despite umpteen trips to stock up on more fat quarters, we made it to quilt camp. Okay, since my mother is outing me, I’ll give the full count in public for all to see. I’d even show pics if I thought to take them but I left the newly acquired stash in Missouri… far, far away so as not to distract me from that dissertation thing I’m supposed to be doing. Ahem, so, without further adieu, the results of my shopping. First stop: Mexico Wal-Mart… The locusts descended upon the fancy fringe aisle because we just had to make some more of those cute mesh bags. Sick, sick, sick. I managed to get two yards of fabric for bags, which of course is much, much more fabric that I actually needed for the one purse I was planning to make as a gift, but who ever gets just what they need to make one birthday present, right? I mean, that would be just silly… a wasted trip to the cutting table. So, two yards of fabric and 4 yards of fringe beads later… I find the fat quarter section. *cue ominous music*

It was SueAnn’s fault, really, it was. She did one of her, “Oooh, isn’t this cute?” moves and before I knew it, she was handing me four bundles of fat quarters and thinking how cute they would be in a quilt. She basically threw them in my cart. I resisted, I did. I screamed and tried to defend my cart from the evil forces, but who can resist SueAnn? And I have absolutely no idea how two sets of fat quarters for the infamous Turning Twenty beast found my cart. I plead the fifth.

If you laugh, you can’t snuggle under the two quilts I’m planning to make with cool shiny fabric with embroidered designs. So there…

Stop Two: Mexico sewing store… I think it’s called the Sticky Wicket. (I’m sure I’ll get hits on the blog from people searching for porn with that one. I’m not sure what a wicket is exactly, but I think a sticky one probably warrants a trip to the doctor. Ewwww.) I was a bit concerned when my mother began pulling on her brass knuckles and preparing for a throw down as we pulled up. Lesson to the world, don’t ever give Nonie a hard time about her discount store sewing machine. She’ll do very mean things with both her long and short shank. She isn’t MomMom’s daughter for nothing. Thankfully the sewing store ladies (a.k.a. crack dealers) saw an easy target when we walked in the door and piled on the charm, hoping to unload mass quantities of yardage. I managed to escape their siren song with a stash of zippers and some elastic with a drawstring. I know you’re thinking, “What on God’s green earth is she going to do with zippers and elastic?” The answer (say it with me)… “I’m gonna make something out of it!” The zippers are for the cutest little zipper pouches ever seen and the elastic is for the top of my knitted tube top.

Stop right now… No, you can’t get cute little zippered pouches just like this for $1 at Wal-Mart and yes, I will actually wear a knitted tube top in public. Maybe. We’ll see when I get it done.

We stayed in the car for a little bit before yet another fabric fix. Everyone needs to go to two Wal-Marts in a matter of hours, right? Just because I needed to get another set of fat quarters to round out the sets since I’d polished off the stock in Mexico… I don’t have a problem. And then you know I had to get an extra bundle in case I mess up a set. Yes, I hear you snickering. I think this was my only crafty purchase the first round. More later…

Now I get to brag a bit. We headed to the Hickory Stick, a place known for its evil allure, and I came out empty-handed. I’ll wait while you pick yourself up off the floor. No cute Amy Butler fabric. No charming prints with London things. No nothing. Good girl. I even left and went in search of yarn and came back empty handed. Granted, this is only because the store was closed, but still, I survived downtown Hannibal with no purchases. A momentous day…

Believe it or not, we actually made it to camp, set up shop and used some of our supplies. There was actual making something out of all the crap we brought! Unfortunately I can’t get into details yet as I was working on a super secret surprise present, but there was sewing. It was good.

I was feeling rather virtuous in fact, until Marcy the Enabler walked through the door. Sure, she pretends to be a sweet quilter, but I see through that guise. I knew what she was up to when she so sweetly hands me an innocent-looking yard of hip and happening fabric. The twinkle was in her eyes, the evil thoughts brewing. And yes, I fell for it. I got excited. I started planning a purse. I even thought about a gym bag. But who would do something practical like that? Not this chicadee! I knew it was going to happen… plans for another quilt. Like I need plans for more quilts to make… Geez, I gotta stay away from these people. They’re all evil, I tell you, evil.

So quilt camp was quilt camp. We ate too much and laughed too much and sewed too much. Oh wait, I forgot, you can’t do too much of any of those things when you’re at quilt camp. And birthday cake doesn’t count as calories, especially when it has your name on it. After years of abuse, I finally scored my own cake, three of them, in fact. I’ve always liked that I shared my birthday with my grandfather and now I also share it with my nephew. But, this means that my cakes usually read “Happy Father’s Day and Birthday, BobBob… and Leslie.” (That “and Leslie” part is usually scrawled on the very edge with different color icing when someone realized, “Oh shit, we forgot that other one. Is she going to be home for the party this year?”) So I whined and bitched and had more cake than anyone should.

(Feel bad enough, Mom? Should I whine some more? I’m kidding. And I know I’m pushing my limit. Next year I’ll probably get a cake in the face.)

After our usual reverie, the question was posed as to how Ashley and I managed to come out fairly normal, considering our mothers. It’s something we’ve often wondered ourselves. I mean, after the matching cowgirl dresses and bad perms, you’d think we’d need even more therapy than we do. The real answer came out. Our mothers were lost in the fabric section looking for cheap-o remnants to make more ruffles for the bottoms of our hand-me-down jeans and while we were outside in the playpen getting pooped on by the birds we were adopted by wolves who saw that an intervention was necessary. The wolves only sent us back when they thought we could do some good and civilize them. I’m afraid we’re failing horribly.

So, quilts were flying out of our machines, projects were being moved into the “done” pile at an alarming rate, when we were called out of our euphoria with the call of the wild. “Anyone need to go to Wal-Mart?” The drooling began. Granted, it was 36 hours into quilt camp and there was a real need for more supplies. I mean, a desperate need. I was out of fabric! Kind of out of fabric… Basically, I finished a quilt, changed my mind and had to make another quilt. I won’t get into details, but let’s just say quilt #1 is a present which had to be completed by a deadline. I met the deadline and was doing just fine on the completing projects assignment when I decided I needed another challenge and had to get fabric for quilt #2.

Results of late night trip to Wal-Mart: Another set of fat quarters and fabric to complete the gift quilt, 3 fat quarters from the clearance bin, a quilt book, 6 yards of fabric for the new quilt inspired by Marcy, and 2 skeins of yarn. I’m not proud. I’ll admit to my addictions. The yarn and clearance fabric doesn’t count because it was clearance. Really, none of it counts because it was all on sale. The fabric for the pop art/comic book quilt was only $2 a yard, which means I had to buy it because at that price, you just have to buy it. I honestly don’t have quilt books and I’m sure I’ll find some inspiration in there for future quilts. Yeah, why am I justifying? I bought crafty supplies. So there.

And the entertainment while collecting all these supplies? You know some high times are to be had when you’re mixing with Hannibal, Missouri’s finest rednecks in the middle of the night In case we run out of inspiration for our quilts, we got some tips from the locals that are ready for debut on HGTV. I’m pretty sure these locals are ready for their own decorating show, really. He had waist-length greasy grey hair, a wife beater tank top with a confederate flag proudly marching across his chest and the look of champions, cut off acid-washed Wranglers to display his spindly legs coming out of his high top sneakers and tube socks. I know, girls, it was hard to hold myself back. Well, it was difficult until I saw his woman and was scared… very, very scared. Mademoiselle Missouri Redneck was sporting her finest John Deere cap with a bun neatly coming out the back, glasses nearly as big as her face and coordinating cut offs which highlighted her hiking boots and tube socks. I wanted to tell her that even L.L. Bean models look stupid with their shorts and hiking boots, but who am I to ruin her wardrobe? Now I know you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for the tip of the month from the cut-off couple. Get out your sketchbook kids because everyone’s going to want to make their own high end work of art. When you have a basement door that’s unsightly, it’s an easy fix. Just head to Wal-Mart and find your own little version of Picasso. Our decorators supreme recommend a Southwest motif, especially when it’s on the clearance rack as well. (No, there’s no relation between my clearance bin obsession and theirs… none at all.) The project is easy. Just tack up a couple of yards of ugly, ugly, ugly fabric and no one will be able to find your basement door. No one will even think to ask if you’ve got your meth lab hidden behind Pocahontas. Not a friend in the world will hit your stash of Natty Light behind Chief Ugly Material. Of course, it helps to have friends that are missing some teeth and also wear high tops from the early 80s.

Whew, still with me? See why I was exhausted when I returned to Buffalo?

Lest you think this was all of my fabric gluttony, I’ll warn you that Ashley and I closed both Hobby Lobby and JoAnn’s. We made our mothers proud. But more on that later…