30 October 2005

Changing My World... One Can of Spray Paint at a Time

So I decided to do a little bit of changing on ye olde blog. The other template was just too dark for my bright and shining personality. *snicker, snicker* Anyway, no, mom, the wedding cake isn't suggestive of anything at all. This is just a free template that I'm trying out and I will eventually change that top graphic as soon as my brain can handle tackling a techy adventure. If only getting a good date was as easy as getting a new blog template!


Since the weather was gorgeous here this weekend, I finally decided to paint the ugly yellow furniture. I've had this stuff for three years now and have been waiting for the stars to align so I can get around to painting it. The chairs and table base are metal and when I bought it, the ex lectured me about the need to clean it all up, sand off the paint that was starting to chip, completely take apart the chairs, blah, blah, blah. Yes, he lectured and didn't offer to lift a finger to help. Typical. Anyway, I kept telling myself I was too busy to tackle the project, didn't want to have to do the sanding, and of course, if you can't do it right, best not do it at all. This, of course, is my logic for everything.

Nevermind that the set cost me a whopping $15 in the first place and they're going into an apartment where a large portion of the furniture has been snagged from my neighbor's trash. Don't do it if it's not perfect.

Well, screw that. Yesterday I ripped off the foam seats that were molding, grabbed whatever black spray paint I had in the craft room, and went at it. I couldn't get the screws off the seats so I'm just going to cover the whole base and not worry about doing it perfectly. Too often I get frozen by wanting to do something "the right way" and I end up procrastinating until everything is just perfect before I even begin. I don't read an article because I can't take notes while I work or I don't fix dinner because maybe I've only got time for a veggie burger instead of a full meal.

It's hard to admit that I'm not perfect, or maybe it's just hard to admit that I don't always give a hoot about being perfect. I didn't want to sand chairs. So there. Take that, Martha Stewart. I probably missed a few spots on my paint job. And I can guarantee my seat cushions won't fit exactly right. And my quilt seams are uneven, my knitted sweater sleeves are generally not the same length, and my dissertation has some bad grammar.

Sometimes it's nice to be just so-so.

1. Diss: Glory be, I have an argument for the chapter. No previews until I know that it will work. Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise!
2. Diet: This has been pretty spotty lately. (Isn't it always?) But I did lose three pounds when I weighed the other day.
3. Organization: Chairs painted. A big first step toward getting that project off my "to do" list.

24 October 2005

Inching Out

I think I just signed up for a scarf exchange... a real, live, knitting exchange...

I've been hesitant to really try and publicize my blog thanks to that darn Chronicle article about not blogging while on the job market. Yes, I see the logic in not putting your blog on your CV, especially if you're blogging about your fetish for doing nasty things with pickled pigs feet or ridiculing your co-workers for their idiot ways. But why should I be ashamed of the fact that I like to knit when I'm not working on my dissertation or my classes?

When I started teaching, I received the following advice: "You can't be a good teacher if you're not being a good person." Although Peter Elbow's philosophy of comp has completely vanished from my head, this has stuck with me, primarily because it rings true. I get so frustrated when academia expects people to cut off their life outside their research. Yes, I'm passionate about the Victorian novel, but there's more to life than Dickens. *shrieking heard from English departments around the world*

So, I'm going to try sticking my nose into a few little knitting groups, try this exchange, maybe even try the Samus knitalong since I have the yarn now. There is something thrilling when you meet someone who knows what you do and shares your interest. A few weeks ago when I did my first fiber fest and knitting roadtrip, I enjoyed talking with the girls who were also thinking of knitting Rogue and who were into the Knitty patterns. I know that I enjoy sewing primarily because in my family it's a group activity. We're all making the same quilts or going shopping together, even doing the actual sewing together when we're all in the same state.

Now comes the fun part of thinking what scarf pattern I'd like to try...

I also received teaching advice to "embrace your inner nerd." This one also sticks. Probably because I'm a big nerd.

The real message was about letting your students see you get excited about Wordsworth's poetry if that's what trips your trigger because your excitement will spread to them (hopefully). It works. I won't tell you how dorky I look when teaching Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach," but let's just say there was some inner nerd on display that day.

Guess it's time to embrace my inner knitting nerd...

23 October 2005

Flash Your Trash

There’s this meme traveling around the knitting blog world where you “Flash Your Stash.” You all know that were I to take pictures of all my yarn, or all my fabric, or all my crafty supplies, poor Mom’s computer would fry on its trusty dial-up connection. It’s an illness. (My stuff, not dial-up, although that’s debatable…) So, in the spirit of the meme, but working with this goal of organizing and eliminating, I’m going to offer you some pics of my worst offenders as I unearth them and send them packing. Again, a bonus point offered to anyone who remembers the rummage sale where I purchased these “treasures.”

Yes, it’s a green bottle covered with melted crayons. I don’t get it either. I’m pretty sure this was from my “granola days.” You know, those phases one goes through while attending a liberal arts university. You wake up one morning and decide to wear your Birkenstocks with a long, flowing skirt, tie a bandana around your head, and slouch all day. You read the Beats in public and study outside under a tree. Then one day you realize that you really shouldn’t shower if you’re going to do granola days right and ewww, you're not really a no-shower kinda girl. Sso you clean yourself up and pull out the nicely ironed khaki pants from The Gap and so much for that whole routine. Yes, I was there. I recovered. I’m pretty sure there are even pictures to prove it.

Anyway, I suppose at some point I thought this was the perfect candlestick.

All I can say now is craft gone bad, craft gone very, very bad.

1. Diss: 5 pages: woo woo; still no thesis to this chapter, but that's nothing new.

2. Diet: no snacking??? not sure how that happened, but it did. huh... who knew writing could keep me out of the kitchen.

3. Organization: green bottle, in the trash; more lace, packed off to Amvets. Yes, I got a lot of lace, enough to make rugs for every room in my apartment. I don't understand it either. Just imagine how gross it would be if I'd never left my granola days and I had this much junk. It would be stinky junk... ewwwww... and it would probably be packed into the back of a VW minibus. Thank god for Gap khakis...

22 October 2005

Don't Judge a Boy by his Dog Collar

So I promised the tale of Jimmy the Tattooed Texan. Again, the story starts, this one time, at horsey camp… Why is it my mother always gets me into these adventures?

Horsey camp with Allison starts by a trip to the cafeteria… to check out the cowboys. Trust me, we weren’t there looking at the way the jell-o jiggled. This particular year it was a pretty sorry offering. Nerd dad and his crew were starting to look appealing until we actually saw some guys under the age of 50 saunter into the feast. From afar, there was promise.

Up close, there was a dog collar. What’s a cowgirl to do?

Well, being Al, who’s quite used to being hit on by every male in the country, you strike up a conversation. And those of us who know and love Al know that her conversations aren’t for the faint of heart. She talked. Jimmy flirted. She talked. Jimmy got confused. She talked. Jimmy left for a smoke. She talked. Jimmy made our camp fire. She talked. Jimmy had a beer. She talked. Jimmy passed out. She kept talking.

(Love you, Al. Hope Wade is ready for you!)

Anyway, Sandy, being the good mother who has probably earned a grey hair or two worrying about what trouble Al and I were getting into, started pondering Jimmy’s fashion sense. The longhorn tattooed around his bicep? Well, maybe that’s a little odd, but he’s from Texas and shoot, Leslie has a flower on her toe so maybe tattoos aren’t bad. But she got a little hung up on the studded dog collar. Do you blame her? Do you want your daughter dating a man with metal spikes around his neck?

So Sandy started asking questions. Hmm, wonder where Al gets it? She started by asking us what we thought about that thing he wore. We hypothesized. We dreamt up excuses. We laughed. We may have even made a mean joke or two.

And then we heard the truth. Seems Jimmy had been in a car accident and nearly had his head taken off. When he took off the dog collar, he had a large scar that circled the front of his neck.

Turns out Jimmy was a shy guy who was self-conscious. Never would have guessed the semi-pro football lineman with a dog collar could be so self-conscious.

I guess we're all a little like Jimmy, hiding scars underneath some pretty mean and prickly exteriors.

We were going to exchange email addresses but Jimmy confessed to not being able to read very well so that was that. Hope he’s happy making campfires somewhere.

1. Diss: 4 pages. Not nearly enough. This is so hard.
2. Diet: Even harder than writing. I did manage to make a decent meal today so I'll have some leftovers rather than peanut butter and jelly.
3. Organization: Started my Christmas gifts list. There's a slight chance I may be able to finish all my gifts on time this year, maybe.

21 October 2005

The Family Motto

Some families have crests painted above the fireplace in their country manor. Other families choose to go to horsey camp wearing coordinating tie dye muu muus. Yes, ‘tis a sad fact but true. This one time… at horsey camp… there was a large group of socially challenged individuals who came to the dining hall sporting their best duds to do their home schooling craft time. It was sad, sad, sad. And no we didn’t make fun of them at all. Would my mother and I do such a thing? I’m sure I didn’t say a mean word at all when I returned from having to square dance with nerd dad. Yes, I alternated between nerd dad and Jimmy, the tattooed Texan*, all night. I’m such a lucky girl it gives me shivers.

Anyway, my family is severely lacking in the crest and muu muu department.

However, give us time. Because we all know what’s coming when the genetic glimmer starts in our eyes and our fingers start to twitch… Say it with me… “I can make something out of that!”

I’m pretty sure I’m actually the illegitimate child of Martha Stewart and MacGyver because I can think of no better challenge than hearing I had to make a prom dress out of an orange juice carton, an old tire and duck tape. And you know you’re all reading this imagining how you too could turn garbage into couture.

This is a wonderful trait and has pretty much been the basis of my personal philosophy for my entire life. Really, I’m planning to have it engraved on my headstone. Who knows, maybe I’ll take up stove carving and do it myself.

But the problem here is that this little dictum prevents me from throwing away anything. Coffee grounds… could be used in antiquing a quilt or something. Old newspapers… did somebody say “origami”?

Part of my three-part mission to finish the diss, become a skinny mini and be as organized as a German minimalist on uppers is seriously thwarted by my complete compulsion to craft. Let me demonstrate with evidence:

Case Number 1: What, you mean you don’t have a giant glass globe full of lace balls? It’s all the vogue, really. This is the product of a going-out-of-business auction where I meant to buy their yarn supply and came home with an entire trunk full of sewing notions. I’ve already unloaded 43 sets of bra straps from this little find. And no, I’m not exaggerating. There was a brief moment where I considered making 43 new bras, but an alien invaded and told me this was absolutely ridiculous. (I only saved 5 sets, just in case I think of something to make with them.)

Anyway, the lace… It has actually been used. See?

In one of my crafting fits, I crocheted a lace rug to put at the edge of my bed so I have a little something to put my toes on when it’s oh-so-cold in the morning. Cute, but there’s a problem. The stupid thing slides on my floor. No, you shouldn’t imagine me crawling out of bed in the o’dark thirty hours of the day and busting my ass because my bed rug went flying across the room. It wasn’t funny, I promise.

Really, I don’t like rugs. They’re hard to keep clean. They always scoot around. And we all know that they’re a health hazard. We all remember the injuries from THE RUGS IN THE HALL. How many times did the family yell as we zipped down the hall at MomMom and BobBob’s? Don’t run. Yet, we ran. Well, sometimes we stopped and that’s when trouble started. Imagine the physics here. 5 snot-nosed grandkids busting down the perfect, long runway, until the voices from the living room caused us actually to behave for once. So we stopped. The rugs, they didn’t stop. There was a train wreck of giant proportions. It really is a wonder Chris wasn’t suffocated in the pile-up. Yes, rugs are a bad, bad thing.

So what in the hell do you do with all this lace? Trust me, I’ve spent many a morning commute pondering the deeper philosophy of lace crafting. I gots a whole lotta nothin’. Yet the lace stays.

Or it stayed.

Today, I took what may be a small step for a normal human, but really is a giant leap for compulsive crafters everywhere. The lace, she has been shipped out. Maybe someone will find her and love her.

I've heard rumors that the "gonna make something out of that" theme is contagious. Last night, when I admitted to cutting up old shirts for quilts in one of my more Amish moments, Laurie told me about a certain suitcase full of her grandmother's dresses. What a kindred spirit...

*The Jimmy tale is a good one. Maybe tomorrow you’ll hear why it’s best not to judge a guy by his dog collar.

Diss: Nada, Friday tends to be a bad writing day. Must make up for it tomorrow.
Diet: I’m not even acknowledging this has started… until tomorrow.
Ditching the Stuff: may the lace and all the rugs she was destined to be rest in peace.

19 October 2005

Three a Day

It’s October 2005 and my lunch of Slim Fast cheddar chive potato powdered nasty no flavor soup expired in April… of 2004.* I don’t even think they make this stuff any more, but I figured since it was the color of Tang it could withstand Armageddon and be safe for consumption. I guess I’m my father’s daughter. The man ate spoiled dog food because it was the only thing in the fridge. Of course, we should probably ask about why my mother, the professional food person in the family, is putting spoiled dog food in the fridge…

Yes, you may hire her to cater your wedding, but her family eats rotten dog food and powdered soup.

The astute among you would say that this is because she spoils us by doing the cooking, but my theory is that I deserve spoiling since I eat powdered soup. Yes, it may be circular logic, but shoot, this is my blog, not my dissertation so I can be illogical so long as it leads to a good meal in the end. By the way, mom, I’ll be sending along my requests for my Thanksgiving visit in time for you to hit the grocery store.

Anyway, I guess I’m a little behind in life, although I did go to the grocery store tonight. I was able to have my dinner of Fruity Pebbles with fresh milk as opposed to the expired stuff that I poured down the drain when I came home. I seem to always be a little close to the expiration date, a little too close to the edge. We can all laugh about my uncanny ability to polish off those little things in life (graduation speeches, wedding presents, conferences papers) at the very last second, but it’s starting to get to me. Running behind leads to a messy apartment, a kitchen full of dirty dishes and no time to make a real dinner so I grab junk food and go. I get swamped and skip the gym, skip the laundry, skip the things I enjoy doing because there’s just so much work to get done, or to try and slip past the radar that told the world the work should’ve been done a long, long time ago. So, I’m going to try adding a little feature on here to help me keep things away from spoiled dog food territory.

It’s a little early for resolutions (or maybe I’m just really, really late again), but I always seem to have three goals.

1. Finish the dissertation.
2. Lose weight.
3. Get organized.

Generally, these three don’t get along. If I take the time to write, the apartment turns into stacks and stacks of books and I sit on my butt at the computer. If I focus on working out, the laundry fills with stinky clothes and I forget what my dissertation is all about. If I try to get organized, um, yeah, that only leaves me making more of a mess because I drag out my yarn collection or my dish collection or my sweaters from junior high collection and can’t figure out how to put it back nicely. So, I’m going to try posting every day with a bit of progress on these three things. Yes, it may be boring, but eh, life is kinda boring sometimes.

After all, a boring turkey sandwich is much, much better than powdered soup or rotten dog food.

1. Pages written today: 2, got a little closer to figuring out my argument
2. Started a food journal and started a Wednesday Weigh-In. I’m not about to post my starting weight but hopefully you’ll get to see some “pounds lost” marks up here soon.
3. crossed off a few things from the “to do” list and did general apartment cleaning

Maybe tomorrow I’ll post good things about knitting night… there will be homemade pumpkin pie. So much for that diet!

*I may have another blog entry that starts the same way. I remember thinking I should blog about it the last time I discovered my lunch was over a year past its expiration date. Bet eating all that bad food is making my memory go.

16 October 2005


Now that my camera and computer seem to be getting along again, I can finally tell you about the fiber festival deflowering. While all the knitting world seems to be at Rhinebeck this weekend, my own little first timer experience in East Aurora was quite tame. But next year... oh, next year there will be Rhinebeck shopping galore! This could be very, very bad...

You will shop, oh yes, you will shop.

How could I resist the alpaca?

By the way, these are the cutest little critters I've ever seen. Mom, feel like raising alpaca? I'm sure they'd get along with Ruby and Easy.

Although we were a bit disappointed that the event was a little on the small side, we still managed to find yarn that just had to make it home with us.

Laurie and her credit card made friends with some of our favorite Brown Sheep stock. They were seconds, a huge bargain... practically free! (This is for you, Timm... the yarn was free, I tell ya!) So, yes, we cleaned them out. Laurie and I make a bad, bad, bad shopping pair. Enabling was the theme of the day.

The llamas were less than impressed with anything but the grass.

Anyway, so the important stuff, the haul... {Pictures will be coming. I need to take them tomorrow when I have daylight.}

1. Enough of the Brown Sheep (free) yarn for about three sweaters... or a large felted bag... or something like that. There's a lot of it. It's safely in the stash marinating until I decide what to make of it. And yes, there will be a road trip planned to visit Pollywogs in the future.

2. Handspun from the Knox Farm. Yummmmmy... although a bit on the au naturel side for me. I like my knitting without the hey, thank you very much. And the lanolin made the needles sticky... yes say it with me, ewwww. And I won't admit to casting on for a scarf immediately upon returning home. See the pics tomorrow.

3. 3 skeins of handspun alpaca from a local farm. Oh. My. God. It's a good thing I realize it's absolutely ridiculous to pay $40 for a scarf or I would've been completely insane and spent a gazillion dolars on enough of this for a blanket. Of course, if I had a blanket out of alpaca, I'd never leave the house... ever.

Yes, this knitting thing has become quite the obsession. I suppose I'm about as successful with the yarn diet as I am with the food diet. But who can resist an oreo or some alpaca, really?

Anyway, time to actually knit. Will post more pictures tomorrow.

10 October 2005

Taking Stock

So, since the chill is in the air and we’ve officially entered cold weather, it’s time to do some evaluation of my knitting/quilting plans. For those of you keeping track, this is my top ten list as it stands:

Wedding Present #1: Erica and Rob hitched, quilt gifted.
Wedding Present #2: Sara and Scott visited, quilt gifted.
The Pink Blob: abandoned. I haven’t frogged this one yet, but I think it’s coming. This was a trendy project of the moment that wasn’t taking minutes. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Shelby’s Hat: Keeper, to be worked on.
Irish Hiking Set: arm warmers finished, hat to finish at the next Thursday night with the girls as soon as I find my size 8 dpns… grrr, this is why I should never clean.
Ribbi Dibbi Cardi: Working on the sleeves now. Can’t wait to wear this one! Should start shopping for a 2-way zipper.
Vive le Bag: Must. Clean. Sewing. Machine. On hold… still.
Terrific Teal T: one more sleeve, one more sleeve…
Beaded Scarf: Meh, it’s sat this long, what’s a little longer? Just not feeling this one right now.
Design Your Own Diva: Went so far as to take it off the needle to finish #8. It’ll sit for awhile.

Now, from this list, I’ve got some top priorities: Terrific Teal; 2 hats; Ribbi Cardi. Not too bad, if I do say so myself, especially considering that since I started the list, I also threw in a hat for Kelly’s mom and the cheater scarf that just jumped on my needles. Nonetheless, I do solemnly swear that nothing will be started until these are finished. But what next, what next?

I’ve ordered yarn for either Kepler or Samus and I may just dive right in when that gets here. I’ve also got the fair isle purse class coming up very soon so I’ll need to make time so I can keep up with that once it starts. And then there’s Rogue… and mittens to match the herringbone scarf… and a big felted bag… and the Lara sweater… and the hoodie from Stitch ‘n Bitch… and…

And then there’s Christmas crafting to be done… ay yi yi.

Gosh, it’s a good thing I’m independently wealthy, already have 4 PhDs and have nothing to do all day but sit and be crafty… hardy har har.