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June 29, 2005

Judge Wapner, I needed you.

So, hi! I'm not divorced!

As it turns out, today's court date was a hearing. About money. Which I do not have and also, coincidentally, will not receive. I really should have married for money since the love thing DID NOT WORK OUT.

However, I'm thinking of charging money for entrance into my own personal freakshow, which includes but is not limited to the following:

1. One husband who is divorcing me who shaved off his goatee after I made fun of it in the Drunk Dial to end all Drunk Dials.

2. One blemish the size of a small pumpkin growing out of the side of my face.


Posted by laurie at 1:42 PM

Just your average Wednesday in CRAZYVILLE.

Do you see the SIZE of this thing?

The photo does not truly convey the horror or the enormity -- and yet it is still clearly visible even with seventeen pounds of cover-up, foundation and powder on it. I am so SCREWED.

Every ten minutes I have to make a furtive status check in my compact mirror to see if the Big Divorce Zit has faded. (Let me assure you IT HAS NOT.) So far this morning, I've managed to work blemish patrol in with my frantic work schedule -- all preparation for being out of the office tomorrow for the first of what may be many court dates. (Untying this damn knot is going to be a lengthy and untidy process.) If anything, the Big Divorce Zit has gotten BIGGER, so I suspect that me and my boil are partners to the bitter end.

Of course I named her. Since we're going to court together an all. Zelda. Zelda the Zit. Love you, Zelda!

One would think this would be the extent of my physical deterioration prior to court. ONE WOULD BE WRONG.

At about half past early thirty I went into the ladies room and caught a glimpse of myself in the big floor-to-ceiling mirror, and people, I was -- unbeknownst to myself, busy as I was with work and meetings and flurries of phone calls and crazy emails and inspecting my face in my compact mirror -- I was unconsciously scratching my own ass.

Well, not my ass ASS per se, more like the left hip, sort of up and to the side, which is almost, pretty much, your ASS.

Then I realized I was not just scratching, I WAS ITCHING. In the general upper hip/thigh/ass region. Ergo, the scratching was not purely recreational, it was because SOMETHING HAD ATTACKED ME.

Once inside the stall, I dropped trou and immediately began to inspect my itchy side of hip (almost-ass), whereupon I discovered not ONE, not TWO, but indeed THREE BUG BITES that may or may not be fatal.

For people like me, who cannot multi-task with their craziness due to the large volume of NEUROSES and WORRY and also TALKING that has to occur at any given moment, there is the crucial dilemma of which particular worry to concentrate on primarily. For example:

1. Where the HELL was I hanging out, geographically speaking, that I could be bitten by a bug that had time to snack on my entire left thigh/butt? Like a smorgasbord of butt-biting? Where on EARTH did this attack occur? Work? Car? In bed while I was asleep like a little angel of Jesus? On the patio while I was smoking like a little minion of satan? where? WHERE?

2. What the HELL was this bug? Mosquito? Spider? Scabies? Perhaps some unnamed paramecium with teeth living in my drains? Gnome bugs? Good Lord have mercy on me and do not let it be a big scabies!

3. Which particular disease do I now have from unnamed mystery bug? West Nile? Monkeypox? Ebola? And why the hell is Web M.D. blocked by the firewall, do they not KNOW I HAVE ISSUES? And, possibly, EBOLA?

4. And is it indeed true that I have been scratching my ass all morning without being cognizant of said ass-scratching?

So, as you can see, I have a very busy rest of my day ahead of me. I have to somehow live through the torment that has been cursed upon me, with the bugs and the evil biting and the itching, and also try to stop looking in the mirror every three seconds, and also try to get ahead on my to-do list for work because they do not pay me to scratch my heinie, oddly enough, and then after work I have to go find something to wear in court that will distract from both the size of my aforementioned (possibly west nile) backside and also my large pimplenator.

Ya'll can see what Zelda and I are struggling with. We are just worn out from it all.

(Attempts to hide Zelda with hair somewhat successful.)

Posted by laurie at 9:01 AM

June 28, 2005

Easy Roll-Brim Knit Hat Recipe

Right. Clearly I am not the only hat addict out there who has had a run-in with Big Hat, Mushroom Hat, Teeny Hat and Bad Lumpy Lopsided Hat. I got a lot of email asking for the pattern to make my roll-brim hat that (finally!) fits. Here you go!

- - - - - - - -


I am a super-beginner knitter. Also, I hate The Math. But man, I love to make hats. Love you, hats! Perhaps if I had read a beginner hat tutorial, I wouldn't have frogged all my hats forty-seven times to get them right. (Well, I probably would have. So what. Moving on.)

Anyway, in the spirit of Me Being A Cautionary Tale, here is a pattern for a peaceful EASY feelin' roll-brim hat.

This hat is a combination of multiple patterns. I started with a free online pattern from Needle Beetle (pattern here) but I was scared off by starting with double-pointed needles. So I worked off a pattern from Teen Knitting Club, but my yarn and gauge were different, and I had a lot more decreasing, so then I got an impromptu Knitted Hat Math Lesson from Michelle of Fickleknitter, and Laura of JenLa, who explained decreases to me in plain English. Thanks, Michelle! Thanks, La!

The best part? Once you get The Formula, you can make hats all the time with ANY yarn and NO PATTERN. This is my dream come true. Now if the naked-rich-man-who-does-dishes dream would come true, I could die happy.


I am using:
1 skein Crystal Palace Iceland wool in orange
1 skein Crystal Palace Iceland wool in pink for a stripe
Size 11 circular needles, 16" long
Size 11 double-pointed needles (dpns) SCARY!!!
Robert Mondavi Shiraz from Ralph's
NOTE: My gauge swatch gave me about 3 1/2 stitches per inch.

Goal: Make a hat from any yarn without a pattern.

Easy Roll-Brim Hat

Start with a formula (WARNING!!! This is MATH!!) to get your cast on going:

1. Measure the circumference of your head
2. Swatch your yarn
3. Measure swatch to find stitches per inch
4. Multiply stitches per inch by head measurement

My gauge = 3.5 stitches/inch
Shannon's head = 21 inches
Ergo, 3.5 x 21 = 73.5

NOTE: I went with 72 as my amount of cast on stitches instead of 73 or 74. This was because 72 is a number I know how to divide easily (for the decreases) and also, I'm tired of making gigantorhats.

5. Cast on stitches from The Formula. I am using 72 stitches (on circular needles).

6. Place a stitch marker on your needle at the end of the last cast-on stitch. I use the heart-shaped ring my parents got me when I was 15.

The first time I knitted "in the round," I couldn't visualize how on earth the stitch marker worked. Was it knitted into the hat? How do you get it out of the stitches? Yes, I am a dumbass.

But the stitch marker just gets scooted from one needle to the other as you knit around -- you've completed a row when you're back at your marker. Then you scoot it again, from one needle to the other. Use a ring, a piece of string, a rubber band, whatever you want as a stitch marker.

(!!!) This is where they always say MAKE SURE your stitches are not twisted!! That means the knotty-looking part of the stitches are hanging downward and nothing is twisty on your needles.

7. Join the stitches together. Hold the needle with your last cast-on stitch (stitch # 72, for me) in the right hand. Hold the needle with the very first cast-on stitch in the left hand. Knit into that first cast-on stitch, and pull the yarn snug so there's no gap. This forms a circle. Let the circle be unbroken! By and by Lord, by and by!

Note to the OCD-Type-A Knitters: My join always looks sloppy. Hopefully I'll get better at this as time goes by, but look, this is a roll-brim hat. No one will ever see it. MOVE ON.

8. Oh. Hah hah. Here's a tip. Hold your needles toward you. The plastic part (the plastic tubing that makes them "circular") should be sticking out AWAY from you.

Because, me? Cautionary Tale Girl? I found out that if you hold the plastic in front, you will be knitting the whole project inside out. Yup. I have no idea how this works either. Magic! Gnomes! I do not know. And even though I REALIZE this is a problem for me, knitting inside-out, I still accidentally do it. Whoops! It's no biggy. Just turn it right-side once you have a few rows. Who cares, it's just yarn! It loves you!

9. Is this the longest pattern you have ever read or what?

10. Knit every row until you have about 6-7 inches of knitting, depending on how much roll you want in the brim.

Lay your hat on a table, smooth down the rolling brim and measure from the cast-on edge up to your most recent stitch. Actually, just try it on. It will make sense.


STRIPE STUFF: At some point in the 5- or 6-inch portion, you can switch yarns and make a stripe. Just start knitting with another color at the beginning of a row and knit until you got a big fat stripe. Or skinny stripe. Or whatever floats your stripe boat.

11. Now, you're gonna start decreasing. Also, you may want to have some wine or beer handy since the double-pointed needles are coming. I'm just saying, is all.

12. Begin Decreasing.

Dear Aunt Purl: HUH??? Decreasing? How? When? Why?

Dear Decrease Scaredy: I know. There is Math.

Decreasing is pretty simple. You just knit a certain number of stitches, la la la knitting normal, then knit two stitches together, and repeat.

To figure out how and when to decrease, you have to do The Evil Math! But it's easy. Just find a small-ish numer that divides easily into your cast on stitches number.

Me: I cast on 72 stitches
72 is divisible by 12
Now: Math.

Here is the scary genius part of the knitting. YOU DO NOT EVEN REALLY HAVE TO KNOW MATH. Pretend the stitches are shoes. You know all the shoes you cast on (72) are easily divided into groups of 12.

Then, you want to get rid of one pair of shoes by knitting two shoes together. But you're wondering WHICH TWO SHOES you knit together, right?

Subtract 2(shoes) from 12(shoes).

12 - 2 = 10

VOILA!!! You knit ten stitches, then knit two together. Continue all the way on the round (knitting 10 and then K2TOG), and you're decreasing!!! No stitches get left out in the cold. All the shoes have mates!

(I have no idea either! But it works! I swear!)

For this hat, however, I made a quick decrease because I MADE THE BODY OF THE HAT ALMOST 8 INCHES LONG. Whoops! So, 72 is also divisible by 9!

Ergo, I have 9 (stitches/shoes) - 2 (stitches/shoes) = 7. So I knit 7 stitches, then knit 2 together, knit 7, K2TOG and so on. Perfecto. Anything is better if you equate it with shoes.

13. Knit the next round of decreases. So, if you started out by knitting 10, knit 2 together ... then you now knit 9, knit 2 together.

14. And so on. If the previous row was knit 9, knit 2 together ... now you decrease by knitting 8, then knit 2 together.

15. This pattern, the SIMPLE roll-brim hat? We're on step 15 already. HAH HAH.

16. Here they come. The DPNS ofD -- double pointed needles of death.

Deep breath. Sigh with the weight of the world. Begin switching to three double-pointed needles.

Me? I'm a big fat weenie and not a super-advanced knitter (yet!) so here's how I first made the transition from circs to double-pointed needles (dpns). My first few times with the DPNS, I slipped the stitches off my circs and onto my double-points without knitting them, evenly distributing stitches over the three dpns.

It's just a transition step. That way I didn't have to combine decreasing and counting with knitting onto the dpns and cussing and sipping wine and trying to get a cat off my lap all at the same time. It may take a few minutes more in the long run, but at this point we're on Step # 16 and what is a few more minutes? Really now?

OR, alternately: You can knit the stutches off your circulars with your double-points. This is what I do now, but it took me six hats and much wine to get comfortable with it.

17. Now everything is on the double-pointed needles. Your pack of dpns should either have four or five needles. You're only using three in the hat stitches. So, with the left-over double-pointed needle, begin knitting off the double-points. Basically you knit as if with straight needles, taking the stitches off a full double-point and onto an empty double-pointed needle*.

* Also, I am not explaining this very well. Sorry. It's hard. Here's a picture.


18. Keep on with the decreasing until you cannot stand it anymore. I usually decrease down until I only have about 10-12 stitches on my needles.

19. Cut your yarn, leaving about 8 inches of yarn tail for pulling the whole thing together. Thread the tail through a yarn needle and pull it through all the remaining stitches like so:


Make a knot. Weave in all ends by weaving them across the stitches on the inside part of your hat.

FINALLY.... STEP 20!! Easy Hat!! HAH HAH!! Embellish with a pom-pom if desired. Drink wine and feel happy as pie. Imagine you are a superior knitter, with superior hat-making skills. Avoid all news channels that tell you it will be one thousand degrees this weekend in the Valley, negating presence of wool hat.


Posted by laurie at 6:57 AM

June 27, 2005

Weekend Recap: A pound of fabric, a pound of flesh.

This is why I love the San Fernando Valley. It's full of surprises.


I love you, Encino California. Even though you are sometimes one hundred twenty-eleven degrees outside.

- - - - - - - - -

On Saturday, Faith and Sara and I met at the Farmer's Market for breakfast, hearty sustenance for the day ahead. Nothing makes weekends more weekend-y than eating breakfast out. Food tastes better when someone else cooks it and serves it and clears your plates, but this is somehow doubly true for bacon and eggs and toast. And coffee. Mmmmm, coffee.

First stop post-breakfast was Ellen's yard sale. I was so excited about the vintage Tupperware and lucite that I forgot to take pictures!! That is truly a shame since Ellen's studio is a magnificent space, with all her paintings and photos and ya'll, she is NOT MESSING AROUND with the yarn stash. There was more yarn in her studio -- color coded in plastic sealed containers -- than in most yarn stores.

When it comes to stash, the bar has been set high. EIGHT FEET HIGH. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

After the yard sale, Faith and Sara and I piled in the car and drove to downtown Los Angeles for my virgin trip to Michael Levine's Loft.

Eight city blocks in Los Angeles are known as the textile district, full of nothing but fabric stores and notions and beading and foam and feather boas and street vendors making bacon-wrapped hotdogs with fried onions. It's a glorious place.

Michael Levine's is a big fabric retailer and their new upstairs "loft" space is a fabric-by-the-pound gluttony of goodness. If you sew, you must come here. Let me say it again: FABRIC BY THE POUND.

Inside the insanity: textiles of all kinds, $2/pound.

[ click images below for big pics ]
Faith digs for treasure; Sara finds shiny Millennium fabric; Faith with camo pattern double-knit featuring sporadic red roses and a glitter finish. So damn Klassy.

After hours and hours of this:
"Sara! Look! It's blue fun fur! It's Cookie Monster!"
"Laurie, was this the stretch snakeskin you wanted?"
"Faith, did you call that the hide of the Naugha?"

... we left the Loft and drove all the way across the city to Burbank for a spontaneous Ikea fix.

Give us your tired, your poor, your hungry masses. And we will give them sofas, magazine holders, cheap meatballs and soda.

[ click images below for big pics ]
Chillin' on the morgestkleptumblotwhatever; Sara is at home; the stranger we coerced into photographing us at Ikea. Hi! You're on the Internets!

Faith drives us back to Los Angeles; I play tourist from the backseat of the car.

It was a perfect day. I arrived home tired and dirty and sweaty and my face hurt from laughing so much!

- - - - -

On Sunday, Jennifer and I went to Unwind -- my gift certificate from Shannon and Karman was burning a hole in my pocket and Jen needed more scarf yarn and bigger needles.

I don't know what they think of me at Unwind. I'm kind of dorky, and I sniff the yarn. This can't be fun for the staff, to see some weird girl huffing fiber. But they are so nice all the same, and ya'll they are open on Sundays! Also, did I photograph any of this? No.

After Unwind, Jen and I drove over to Shannon & Karman's place for a good-bye party. Our favorite Amy is moving to Idaho for the rest of the summer doing artsy-fartsy film girl stuff and we will sorely miss her. Also, we told her she is not allowed to make new friends and cheat on us.

Before the party really started, it was just me, Jen, Shannon, Karman and Amy. Sitting around talking ... and somehow it got on marriage, and divorce and after breaking Birthday Resolution #17 ("Stop saying bitter stuff about marriage"), someone was talking about divorce and all the sudden I burst into tears. BECAUSE I AM CRAZY.

So I am at a party, a fun event in which people do not normally CRY, and I am in a STATE, so I get up off the couch and run away ... to the balcony. Upon which I discovered we were on the second floor and there was no escape from the balcony and I would have to one day, eventually, perhaps when I was old and grey and hunched over from living on the 3' x 8' overhang, return to the party where I had just made an embarrassing mess of things and cried like a baby.


So there I am, knowing I'm maybe a little BATSHIT CRAZY, and also have just moved way down on the Party Guests We Must Invite To Stuff list, and it was starting to get kind of boring out there on the balcony, and I was hungry, and the cake was indoors, and there really was no escape even though I considered hoisting myself down on the neighbor's balcony just below all Mission Impossible style, but I had on a skirt (and I was out of the clean, normal panties and so it was thong-up-the-butt day and ya'll know, that would not have been pretty), and finally there was nothing left to do but smoke a cigarette, and Jen came out to assure me that there was no escape and she still loved me. And also they kind of needed the balcony for making the hotdogs. So could I please come inside and stop being crazy until everyone ate?

So I came out from hiding and then we ate hot dogs and tried to pretend nothing happened.

And that was my weekend. A good running start, but flummoxed at the end by the reappearance of Mentally Incompetent McGee. That's me in case ya'll wondered. Someone please tell me the inappropriate blubbering stops eventually. Lie to me if you have to. Because I am about tired of this crying shit, and damn tired of myself, and I am ready for a return to the fabled and magic land of mascara and eye shadow. Ya'll know. I could care less about ever having a man in my life again, BUT I NEED MY MASCARA. Good Lord. Help me.

Posted by laurie at 11:23 AM

June 24, 2005

Stitch n' Bitch 'n Pantyhose 'n Lawyers, and one good hat!


This morning:

I broke a sweat pulling on my pantyhose. You could look at this two ways:

One: Go for a jog.
Two: Don't wear pantyhose.

After flopping on the bed and exercising my most colorful and unladylike vocabulary, I selected option Number Two.

The pantyhose were intended to make a positive showing at the lawyer's office. All that would have shown, however, was some telltale control top ugliness around my knees, what with me hobbling to keep the crotch from rolling down to my ankles. Classy!

And here's a funny thing. Turns out that lawyers have these things called "billable hours." Ya'll, I am SO in the wrong vocation. I can't bill people for jackshit. Plus, on June 30th? I thought I'd walk out of the couthouse divorced. But no. Marriage? It's like trouble -- easy to fall into, hard to get out of. You can hitch your wagon to any old Joe in under an hour but getting un-hitched takes an act of Congress and several months of billable hours. Fascinating.

Coincidentally: For sale by owner, several lovely and RARE cats, GREAT source of free poop! Your miles may vary. $1700/per cat OBO.

Last Night:
We had some very special guests at Stitch 'n Bitch this week! Jennifer's mom came with us! And Shannon attended for the very first time. AND I learned to crochet from Ellen! I have never been so excited!

Now I realize that if I were to meet a hot guy, say, on the street (because this is such a likely scenario, but work with me folks) and anyway, if I met said hot guy and we were chitchatting and so on, then he asked me what exciting things were happening in my life, and I told him, "Well, my best friend's mom is here in town helping her feed her cat, because Ethel has been so sick! And anyway, Jen's mom is coming to Stitch 'n Bitch and I could just die! I am so excited! We get to knit and chitchat and maybe I will even learn to crochet! And Shannon's attending and her mohair is to die for!"

Anyway, surely he'd be flinging his clothes off right there and begging to buy me diamonds, being that I am creature like no other he has ever met, full of CHARM and EXCITEMENT.

Coincidentally, Carrie happily announced at Stitch 'n Bitch "I HAVE DONE IT!! I HAVE PICKED UP STITCHES!! I FIGURED IT OUT!!" and then, after a moment's pause, she said, "Do you think men will ever understand the exciting moment I just shared here?"

Carrie. A woman after my own heart.

There was cake and wine and happiness. It was a good way to end the week. Lately the not-sleeping has returned with a vengeance and I was so tired and half-wrung out that I took only unflattering pictures, made bizarre small-talk about yarn and rain (sorry, Mary-Heather, please excuse the zombie! whoops!) and also, perhaps, held onto Shannon like she was my life raft.





Oh, that last row, the middle picture? That's Sara's beautiful crocheted shrug. Sara is amazing, she also made a knitted handbag that I fondled last night, and she made the gorgeous boho chic skirt she was wearing. I need to dig out my sewing machine and make some summer clothes, Sara is a total craftygirl inspiration.

And FINALLY! Success! I finally made a hat that fits! This is the orange/pink hat redux, since the first one I made was a wee bit on the large side. Laina was kind enough to claim it fit her, but it was still too big. Hi Laina! Miss you!

hat-again1.jpg   hat-again2.jpg   hat-again3.jpg
(sorry, no big pics. I'm tahred.)


It has only taken five hats and eleven hundred froggings, but I may have figured out the secret to gauge at last. Surprisingly enough it DEFINITELY DOES NOT involve wine. Funny how the drinking and the math do not mix. Now if I could figure out a way to do a gauge swatch on my circs without having to knit entire rounds, that would be ideal. Got any suggestions?

Every single hat I make must be knit up on size 11s. My one pair of Addi Turbos are size 11, 16" circular needles, you see. Then it occurred to me in a flash of BRILLIANCE that mayhaps these fabled Addi needles come in other sizes! I can't wait to go to Unwind this weekend and get another pair of needles, Shannon and Karman got me an Unwind gift certificate for my birthday! And I'm going to make my dad a hat with ribbing and now I can do it up right, with a smaller Addi Crack Cocaine Needle on the 2x2 ribbing and switch to a larger size for the body of the hat like a REAL KNITTER!

Me: Hey, I need you to measure Dad's head.

My mom: I see.
My mom: Is this something that has to be done on the sly while he's sleeping?

Me: Um, well, if that's what floats your boat. But I kind of don't want to hear about it. Geez. Gross.

My mom: I'm going to act like I did not just hear that.

Me: So, I need you to measure your head too.

My mom: I don't THINK so, miss!

Me: Oh please, it's not some weird science experiment! I'm making ya'll some hats!

My mom: I see. Well in that case, we'll measure our heads.

(My dad, muffled in background: you said we're doing WHAT?)

My mom: Your daughter wants me to measure your head.

My dad: No one comes near the noggin.

Mom: She's making you a hat.

Dad: Is this going on the internet?

Mom: What do you think?

My mom is a wise woman.


Posted by laurie at 2:03 PM

June 23, 2005

Hypothetically speaking ...


1. Hi Shannon! Hi Jennifer! Really sorry I made ya'll listen to crazy Mexican love songs for hours and also, really apologize that I sang them in my TWANG and also, maybe, acted them out with jazz hands and air guitar on my patio! Whoops!

2. Hi! Me again! With the whole apology thing? Can we just extend that to the entire evening? Thanks for surprising me and coming over and not letting me stew in my own pity! Love ya'll!

3. To anyone I may have emailed last night and misspelled things because I had to type with one eye shut? Real sorry! Love you! Will make it up to you!

4. Hey cats! Remember when I tried to make ya'll sign a document with your paw print declaring you would never leave me? Yeah! I was just joking, really! I mean, PLEASE. Everyone knows we'd need a notary public present.

5. Also, God, thank you for inventing pizza! And Tylenol! And coffee!


P.S. Hypothetically speaking, if you maybe possibly picked up the phone after some crying and drinking and maudlin craziness on your birthday, and maybe possibly drunk dialed a certain someone, IN THE VERY WORST SENSE OF THE PHRASE, would you:

A. Pretend it never happened.

B. Chalk it up to the end of a bad day, a bad year, and decide maybe you ought to start walking in the evenings instead of drinking.

C. Convince yourself that perhaps this moment, a true low of lows, was a catharsis in which you closed the door on a bad chapter and yes, made a fool of yourself, but occassionally foolishness happens.

D. Say to yourself, THANK GOD I got that out of the way! It was bound to happen! Now I can cross that one off the list!

E. Blame it on Karl Rove.

Just hypothetically speaking, OF COURSE.

Posted by laurie at 9:53 AM

June 22, 2005

The mystery ... the intrigue ... the poop.


With their rigorous sleeping schedule, I'm perplexed how the cats manage to poop all day long, 24 hours a day.

The only possible explanation is that they have divided the workday into shifts. Each cat puts in six hours of pooping, with one hour off for napping. They probably rotate box duty during nap times. I must observe them more carefully to determine who has the graveyard shift, because that particular cat is REALLY NOT KIDDING with the pooping.

This is just the sort of gripping, edge-of-your-seat action happening every day here at Chez Spinster, all conveyed to you in REAL TIME through the magic of the Internets.

Before I run off and start the drankin' and the cake eating ... or, rather, before I run off and go to WORK and do some WORKING on a day I had requested off months and months ago (notice how I slip the bitterness in real quicklike) I wanted to share something. It's kind of a poem, but not really. It's more of a song. That way it's more acceptable to my limited intellectual palate.

Because ya'll don't tell anybody, but ... I sort of hate poetry.

I know you're supposed to respect and also appreciate poetry and feel connected to it on both a soulful and cerebral level. I know this. I do. But I don't like poetry and I can't help it.

This is because I am country.

Country people like to tell stories, and all these stories involve what you wore, what the other party wore, what ya'll ate, who said what to whom, who is related to whom, and also did you have the recipe for that potato salad made by so-and-so, too?

Poetry, on the other hand, never fully addresses these valuable questions. BOOOOOOOO-ring.

In college, I took plenty of literature classes (or litterchure, since I went to school in Tennessee) and can appreciate good Octavio Paz and William Carlos Williams. Yes. But mostly I like funny poems (which I learned in college are called "limericks" and it's not considered educated to like limericks). Also, I love rhyming, and I like really dorky haiku, which does not amuse poetry lovers. They think I'm making fun of poetry. I'm not! Mostly I just want to know what shoes the main character was wearing, dammit.

So no. I don't really appreciate poetry properly.

But songs? LOVE YOU SONGS! And this particular song, the first time I heard it, I knew it was poetry. The good kind. And I put this song on a mixed tape waybackwhen for a certain soon-to-be-ex-husband. I listened to it for years and years, and then... stopped. Just a few weeks ago I heard it again and lo and behold, it had a whole different meaning to me. About living out loud and honest.

At this point in my life by Tracy Chapman

At this point in my life, I've done so many things wrong I don't know if I can do right.
If you put your trust in me, I hope I won't let you down.
If you give me a chance, I'll try.

You see it's been a hard road, the road I'm traveling on, and if I take your hand I might lead you down the path to ruin.
I've had a hard life
I'm just saying so you'll understand that right now,
right now
I'm doing the best I can.

At this point in my life, although I've mostly walked in the shadows,
I'm still searching for light.
Won't you put your faith in me?
We both know that's what matters.
If you give me a chance, I'll try.

You see, I've been climbing stairs,
but mostly stumbling down.
I've been reaching high,
but mostly losing ground.

You see I've conquered hills ... but I still have mountains to climb
And right now, right now, I'm doing the best I can (at this point in my life).

Before we take a step, before we walk down that path, before I make any promises, before you have regrets, before we talk commitment, let me tell you of my past - all I've seen and all I've done, the things I'd like to forget ...

At this point in my life, I'd like to live as if only love mattered, as if redemption was in sight, as if the search to live honestly is all that anyone needs, no matter if you find it.

You see when I've touched the sky,
the earth's gravity has pulled me down.
But now I've reconciled that in this world,
birds and angels get the wings to fly.

If you can believe in this heart of mine, if you can give it a try, then I'll reach inside and find and give you all the sweetness that I have.

And because it's my birthday, I had every intention of giving the song to you as a gift (totally illegally of course) for download, but then a wise friend cautioned me that really, with my history, do I need to bring trouble upon myself when I stumble into it so well on my own? Good call, there, Jennifer.

Now, go eat cake! Or go off and work, or poop, or whatever floats your boat on this beautiful sunny Los Angeles day in which we all cross our fingers that nothing near me catches on fire or gets arrested. Heh.

Posted by laurie at 9:09 AM

June 21, 2005

Birthday Resolutions

Hi! Yes, you in the frown! Please stop taking pictures of your woe-is-me face and get back to work!

Yesterday. Memo. Boss to staff: Due to Issues, everyone must cancel all vacation plans between now and July 1st. Which means tomorrow? On my birthday? I'll be at work.


With coworkers and work and such.

And right about now is when I fess up and tell ya'll the truth, the deep, dark lurking truth that I have kept secret from ya'll in hopes that the secret-keeping would make the truth -- the hateful, mean, spiteful truth -- go away and poof! Like it never existed.


My Birthday always kicks me and makes me cry. I'm not sure I should go into great detail about the many ways and hows my birthday has been hateful to me, but here is a small list:

1) Attended a funeral on my sweet 16
2) Age 22: my celebration attire includes a plaster cast with pins holding my leg together
3) Brought home a stowaway from summer camp, age 9, poison ivy. ALL OVER.
4) My parents leaving me alone in big, scary California, age... uh, well, a little to old to be crying about my parents leaving me in California with my husband. Heh.
5) Chicken pox.

This is just a very small list. Oh get me a glass for this bottle of whine and get me started and I will not stop with the stories because 1) I am a talker and 2) My Birthday hates me.

I thought that throwing myself a big Spoiled Girl Birthday Party might change things this time around, but the part I didn't tell ya'll about the party is the moment -- that MOMENT -- when the door closed and the last guest left and you've drunk 3000 bottles of wine and smoked 70,000 cigarettes and you are still, after all the talking and carrying on, totally 100% alone with your four cats and your looming divorce date.

That was the part I left out yesterday. Because you know, it wasn't pertinent. Since I was in DENIAL about the HATRED this day has for me.

But that moment, post-party, is kind of when I started to suspect my birthday was not one bit fooled by the conviviality and still hates me much as ever and also was going to sneak up on me and so I made Plans. Big, evil-thwarting Plans, since we all know the only way to ward off evil is with deodorant and also Good Planning.

Here's what I had planned for my birthday:

I reserved a vacation day MONTHS in advance. Shannon, one of my oldest and dearest friends, was going to spend all day with me, going to the hootchie mall up in Panorama City and going to the ghetto Wal-Mart and then we'd eat lunch at Rincon Taurino which has my favorite tacos and I get to order in Spanish (because that's all you speak at the Rincon), and then Shan and I were going to see the Sisterhood of the Traveling seat-of-your Pants and then do the celebrating later with wine on my patio.

Which I know sounds small, but to me it was a plan for The Perfect Day.

Now? Me? With my three-hour commute and loooong workday? Yes. Drinking alone has never looked so promising. For whatever reason, maybe because I am a spoiled, melodramatic panties-in-a-wad girl, my birthday is out to get me. And good.


Other people have mentioned to me that birthdays are stressful for them, so maybe I'm not alone with the Drama and Doom. The expectation of having a great day is impossible to live up to (like New Year's Eve, ya'll ever notice that? You always feel like you should be somewhere better, partying it up? And maybe nekkid? Covered in glitter and rum?)

In addition, I do not much care for the pondering and the reflection and, um, the aging that birthdays bring to mind. It's like all at once the AGING is upon me. Not so much the physical aging, I don't care about that. Years ago I realized that physical beauty is a short-lived fugitive (I was REALLY HOT and full of perkiness in all body parts for about a day and a half when I was in high school, and then you know, it peaked. And all went south.)

No, the AGING of my nightmares is the spiritual kind. Sounds poetic on paper, right? But here's what it sounds like in my head, "Holy fuck you're going to be THIRTY FOUR YEARS OLD and you are ALL ALONE and still you have not learned how to cook, play the guitar, speak French and your dreams? goals? writerly ambitions? YOU WORK AT A BANK. You are getting old. Time, ticking. Tick tock. Before long you will be OLD and life will have passed you BY and all the chances you ever had to make something of yourself will be LONG GONE old old old...."

Yeah. So, hi! Melodrama! Neurotic! Pass the Prozac!

One thing I always do to make my birthday a little less stinky is make a list. Because nothing, I tell you NOTHING, makes you feel better than a list. And, ya'll know, that means Birthday Resolutions, which are way more important to me than New Year's Resolutions. Because even if your Birthday hates you, you have a list in hand for ways to make the other 364 days a little better.

My Birthday Resolutions For June 2005:

1. Be Buddha-like, without the tummy, all zen and more accepting of things like having to WORK on your birthday VACATION DAY and not cuss about it to everyone, except on the internets which is like really cheap therapy and probably very healthy in the long run.

2. Stop justifying your bad behavior, like you did in list item # 1 (above).


4. Wear some colors other than black.

5. Do some form of exercise aside from complaining

5. Channel Emerson. Be the Self-reliance. Or, you know, pretend.

6. Live out Loud. Tell people the truth, even when the truth is embarrassing or something I don't want people to know. (Except I can still lie to people at work about my age. Ya'll know.)

7. Be a better listener.

8. Write. More, better, something.

9. Stop with the perfectionism.

10. Finish the kitty thingamajig.

11. Eat vegetables. That aren't fried.

12. Really make an effort to cut back on the smoking.

13. And drinking.

14. And carrying on.

15. Finally put the cat scratcher tree together.

16. Finally unpack the office. It's only been six months after all. UNPACK.

17. Stop telling everyone that marriage is a soul-sucking sham. Marriage works for some people. They don't want to hear about the sham and the soul-suckage. Keep bitterness to self.

18. After the divorce is final, open a 401(k) at work

19. Stop calling Bob "scabies."

20. Scan in old pics of my family.

21. Repay my parents for the lawyer $$

22 -24. (private)

25. Be kind.

So there's my list so far. It grows as time and wine progresses. I have no idea why I am this way, ya'll, with the whining. But you know. It could be worse. Like it could be warts. Or gnomes. No I don't even know what I'm saying ... the birthday madness has already descended upon me, clearly. I'm going to ferret myself away in a conference room at luchtime and knit and pretend I'm on a beach somewhere reading a trashy novel while a man named Ricardo, or maybe Esteban, wearing little red bikini pants brings me drinks with umbrellas in them.

Also, because My Birthday always brings surprises, like flat tires or maybe the bus will by hijacked by banditos or maybe we'll have a tornado or probably stuff will break, and leak and also detain me for long periods of time, I made a Survival Kit. Because you know how I am.


So screw you, birthday. I have Cheetos and refreshments and all sorts of things not even pictured here stuffed in my handbag ready for The Doom. Bring on the banditos!

Posted by laurie at 9:26 AM

June 20, 2005

Birthday Party, Post-Mortem

There is absolutely no drankin' goin on around here, nosir. Slur. Slosh.

So, the birthday party. Which by the way was not on the date of my actual birthday, because that is coming up on Wednesday (and ya'll still have days of birthday carrying on to look forward to here, mostly me whining about getting on up in years etc., etc.), but The Party was on Saturday and let me tell you, when it comes to the partying, this group is not dillydallying around.

Also, me? With the party preparation? All I can say is that the key to party success is to invite Ellen and Audrey because the amazing grown-up food they brought SAVED the party. There was salad and ambrosia and grilled eggplant and cheese platters and grapes -- none of which was provided by me, the hostess. Love ya'll! Want to come by for dinner? Every night?

(click for bigger images)
Larry and Jeff show off the food; Audrey shoots; Ellen and some red-faced girl.

Top ten party comicality:

1) At 3 p.m., one hour before the party officially begins, I have to make an emergency run to the grocery store -- not even the 7-11, the REAL grocery store -- for dip, ice and last-minute supplies.

2) Apparently some dumbass at the store forgot to put the bag containing the dip and salsa in my buggy and I left the store with no chip accoutrements whatsoever.

3) No one realized this fact until 4:15.

4) When my first guests arrived, I was still in the shower. Hi Carrie! Hi Gwen! I have to go get dressed now!

5) Carrie graciously offered to go run up to the store and re-purchase the dip and salsa I HAD ALREADY PURCHASED that somehow never made it home with me. Thank you, Carrie. Also, sorry about the stricken look of panic and the cussing that ensued once I discovered the missing dip. Whoops!

6) At some point, very late in the evening, a little group of merry makers and I were circled around on the patio and I shouted, in my most country rodeo queen of voices, "I declare! Let the ugly drunkenness begin!" Then I said it two more times for good measure, because apparently the ugly drunkenness had already begun.

7) As the evening wore on, there was a moment when we all sat around talking about how bad smoking is for you and how glad we'd all quit ... and we toasted to this by SMOKING. Everyone. I kid you not.

8) Oh the things people say. Karman: "This wine is INCREDIBLE. Apparently I have only had bad wine up until THIS VERY MOMENT. I love THIS WINE." Sara: "I knew we were at the right place when I saw the crackhouse!" Ellen: "I can't get him to leave ... you would think Larry is the Jewish one!" Me: "Faith is allergic to cats, so she and I can never make out." A very large potted plant got knocked over and someone shouted, "No more water for the plant! The plant is cut off!" Me: "Ya'll are all invited to my divorce!"

9) As people were leaving, I insisted that Karman and Carrie each take a bag of key limes, which I had purchased for the party and had no use for whatsoever.

10) I am not a singer. Some people have great singing voices. I am not one of those people. Did this stop me? What do ya'll think? All I can say is some inebriated blonde, red-cheeked girl stood up and sang, "The only two things in life that make it worth livin' are guitars tuned good and firm-feelin women! I don't need my name in the marquee lights... got my song, got you with me tonight!"

I'm just saying is all.

Amber, so pretty! Amy, here I go with the camera again; Amy turns the other cheek.

Audrey, photojournalist; Rebecca smile pretty! Carrie the dip-saviour.

Jennifer made me a cake! Regina brought cake! Sara made brownies! mmmmmm.

Ellen and I simul-shoot; chitchatting; Audrey's Jeff is so nice!

More chitchatting, Jen will hate me for this; meeting Mr. Ellen, a.k.a. Larry, was such a treat! He's a valley guy!

Jen brings Drew to the party; the merry band of party friends; Smile!

I love my patio! Regina and her mom, who I loved meeting; Regina's shoes.

I hope everyone had a good time. I was so anxious about the hostessing early on that I didn't break out my camera right away, and so I missed Sara and her husband, Gwen and Faith on camera. I also forgot that my home printer is out of ink and so no pictures of ya'll got printed out and flung around the party (with the ugly drunkenness, perhaps that's a good thing!) I only tried to hide from the party once. Ok, maybe twice.

The food was great and the gifts were amazing and the conversation was hilarious and I had a party! My very first birthday party since the 7th Grade! I'm not kidding, I have not had a big birthday party of people (other than family) since I was 13 years old. And we weren't allowed to get rowdy intoxicated or smoke or cuss back then, so this was a definite improvement over junior high.

Sure, I'm a little more OCD now than when I was 13, like perhaps maybe I refused to put birthday candles on the cake because when you blow out candles you could possibly get spit on the cake, and ya'll know, that's gross, so anyway, I improvised and blew out a voodoo candle instead. All in all a great day and good start to a whole new year. Happy Birthday Party!

---edited to add ----

P.S. Thanks Ellen for sending me your pictures! I didn't really have any good images of the food, thank you!!


Posted by laurie at 11:28 AM

June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day!


This is my favorite picture of me and my dad.

Of course, the photos from graduation and birthdays and spontaneous summer moments rank high on the list, but in this snapshot I am happy and free and knee-high to a grasshopper, and with one big hug I am saying to the whole world this is MY DADDY and I LOVE HIM YA'LL! Until the day I draw my last breath, I will be the little girl you see in that photograph, so proud and happy that this is my dad.

Oh, yes, I am a daddy's girl. To me, my dad is all the good parts of life: honest, and strong, and dedicated and funny. And he is the center of our entire family -- a big far-flung group of colorful and hard-headed Southerners. My father is the one everyone comes to for advice, for honesty, for help, because he is the one that holds us all together.

My dad can cook like no other human on the planet, he is a gourmet in the kitchen. He is also, much to his dismay, a short-order cook for the family since I don't eat eggs, Eric doesn't eat onions or mushrooms, and Guy won't eat anything yellow (or he didn't when we were kids, that may have changed now that Guy's little boy is a picky eater. Ha! revenge!) But you know, my dad has never once complained about his nutty kids who all have to get three separate meals. He just thinks we're a bunch of characters.

His sense of humor sneaks up on you. I became a vegetarian in college, because ya'll know, that's what you do in college, and one day out of the blue he asked me, "Well, do you eat meat at school and then just come home being vegetarian to torture me?" And he saw the look on my face, and then we both laughed in the kitchen. My family is crazy. We know it. We love it.

My dad understands me, and is kind to me, and surprises me and makes me laugh and he is the only person in my life who has known me since the day I was born and cared for me every day of that time.

When my husband moved out, my dad and mom and brother got on a plane and flew to California to spend Thanksgiving with me. And my father, who is not a fan of cats, spent almost a week at my condo with FOUR furballs, who apparently never got the memo that he's not a cat person. Oh no. THEY LOVED MY DAD. Sobakowa? Who is off writing her manifesto? LOVED my dad, and would sit at his feet each day. Oh yes. And because my father loves me, he just looked at my cats and sighed. His grandcats.

Also, um, dad? Remember that time I sneaked the guy with the blue hair and earring up to my room? I'm sorry about that. And the time I came home late and maybe slightly intoxicated and read song lyrics to you from The Smiths? yeah, BOY AM I SORRY about that one. And also, that time I got the mini-mohawk on the side of my head? Well, I still think I was pretty cool, but I'm sorry you about had a heart attack. I really am! But come on, you thought I was a little bit cool, right?

Oh, Dad. Thank you for always being my one best thing in life. I hope I can make you proud and maybe cut down on some of the swear words on this website. You're my favorite, my inspiration, the only person I know who is always there for me and always has been. I love you! More than anything.

And so do your grandcats!

Posted by laurie at 1:33 PM

June 17, 2005

Preparation is the key to success.

Study this photo carefully, there will be a test later.


My friends tease me because I maybe, possibly, kind-of-sort-of have a tee tiny problem with hoarding. This comes from growing up poor, or being a Cancer, or maybe just having a keen sense of never EVER wanting to run out out toilet paper. I do not know.

In my life, toilet paper always comes in packages of 12 or 24 or, better yet, three hundred. Ya'll know ... the big Costco stuff. Paper towels? It is a TRAVESTY to purchase merely one or two rolls of Brawny at a time. Good grief. Buy it on sale, at Target, 12 rolls at a time. It's value! It's abundance! It's preparation in the face of a possible paper-goods shortage, which may be looming on the horizon and we would never know! Until it's too late!

This same philosophy applies to Kleenex, Tide, garbage bags, ziplocs, tin foil, and anything else that can be bought on sale and hoarded away so that you never, ever run out of necessities.

While this is a source of much amusement for my friends, they will be climbing over charred metal and wading through pools of toxic sludge to get to my house when The Big One hits. Because ya'll, I am not afraid to tell you I have the Earthquake Kit to end all earthquake kits. And the earthquake kit does not get tampered with, because the moment you use up the stuff in the kit, you must replace it, IMMEDIATELY, or superstitiously enough that is when the Big One will hit. And we have to be vigilant, and superstitious, because since Sunday we have had FOUR major earthquakes in California. FOUR big'uns.

Earthquake Situation:

Earthquake 1: Sunday morning, 8:30 a.m., Uncle Truman calls me. "I heard there was an earthquake. Is my favorite niece OK?" "Yes, Uncle Truman I am fine, honestly I just thought it was a cat jumping on the bed." "Well, you may need to move from California, the liberals are probably causing the earthquakes." "Bye Uncle Truman, thanks for calling! Love you!"

Recap: A magnitude-5.2 quake hits Riverside County on Sunday, I mistake it for a cat jumping on the bed, Uncle Truman is a Republican.

Earthquake 2: Tuesday night. One slightly inebriated Aunt Purl is on the phone with one slightly intoxicated Miss Jennifer.

Jen: Holy SHIT there is a Tsunami warning for Los Angeles.
Me: Shutup. There is not.
Jen: YES there IS, I saw it on TV.
Me: I'm looking it up on the internets. You're drunk.
Jen: So are you!
Me: HOLY SHIT there is a tsunami warning!

Recap: A magnitude-7.2 quake hit Tuesday under the ocean off Northern California. Purl and Jen simul-drinking. Tsunami never arrives.

Earthquake 3: Yesterday. Drew calls me. "Hi Drew! We just had an earthquake! I'm fine of course. Also, Ethel, Jennifer's cat? Is constipated. Apparently. Hi! How are you?"

Recap: A 4.9 (originally a 5.2, ahem) hits around Yucaipa, rocks all of SoCal. Ethel the cat gets a kitty colonic.

Earthquake 4: Last night, a 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit about 125 miles off the coast of Eureka.
Recap: I did not feel a thing but this is FREAKING ME OUT. And will I be stuck in downtown Los Angeles on the 19th floor of a high rise when it hits?


When the next quake hits, and let me tell you I am a little nervous from all the ground shaking of late, I hope to God I am at home because that is where all the PREPARATION is. And let me tell you, I am PREAPARED. I am READY. Smite me, oh smiter, but only at home because I have my earthquake kit ready!!

Crazy Aunt Purl's Earthquake Kit:


  • water

  • first-aid kit

  • batteries

  • battery-operated radio

  • candles, flashlights, matches

  • cat food

  • rubber gloves, garbage bags

  • charcoal, newspaper, matches for grill

  • food/drink (see below)

(Things my friends tease me about but will happily partake in once they arrive for the disaster party)

  • Tin camfire-type cooking set

  • pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked oysters

  • crackers, Trader Joe's tuna fillet, cracked pepper

  • jiffy-pop (in the silver foil package)

  • marshmallows

  • assorted chocolate, candy, etc.

  • assorted canned foods, can openers, etc.

  • Tang and vodka

  • Red wine, white wine and bottle opener

  • All alcoholic beverages? Packaged in BUBBLE WRAP. I am not kidding around with the preparation here.

  • Cokes, diet cokes, vanilla cokes.

  • Toilet paper.

  • Cards, assorted small games.

  • cigarettes

Yes, so those items you saw in the picture at the beginning of this novel? Those things -- cat food, fresh batteries, TP -- all picked up yesterday to replenish the earthquake kit.

But what about the key limes, you ask?

Ah yes. Those.

That is my ONE NOD to party preparation thus far.

Party? Happening on Saturday which is TOMORROW for chrissakes and I have nothing made, bought or prepared. The earthquake? The one I am all prepared for? Happening MAYBE NEVER and yet I have all the gourmet fixins' for the party of a lifetime because me? I AM PREPARED. For disaster. And no, we cannot break into the Earthquake Kit, because that is Wrong, and also, Tempts Fate.

I am ready for disaster. I have bubble-wrapped the wine. However, parties? That's so not something I am prepared to prepare for. But key limes seem like a great start, don't you think?


Posted by laurie at 10:13 AM

June 16, 2005

Really, it was funny.

I had this funny story here all written up about this funny thing that happened that one time, when we were at that place, and then the computer flipped me off and died and when it came back to life the goodness was all gone.

Too exhausted to re-type, and also maybe mad, and kind of hating the techmology, I refuse to redo the whole thing, so here's a little conversation. Me and my dad on the phone.

My dad: They found a CIVIL WAR cannonball right HERE in Hernando Beach. Isn't THAT something? (Author's note: Everyone in my family has this way of talking in ALL CAPS for emphasis. Genetics or something.)

Me: They found a cannonball in Florida? Because, um, since when was the Civil War fought in FLORIDA?

Dad: (insert here a sigh of deep sadness that me, his college-educated child, has to be explained the STILL RELEVANT TO THIS DAY history of the War Of Northern Agression.) Well, as you should know, the Northerners, the, you know... the Yankees ... had taken up residence at Pine Island. Illegally, of course. And the Southern soldiers, as you should know, our people, shot at them from ships in the gulf. But, ah, they missed. A little. Because a cannonball was found here in Hernando Beach.

Me: Well you know they were my people, then! They missed! Like, "I'm gonna shoot you Pine Island, Florida and kill you! But, whoops, looky there... we missed! Hello, Europe! Sorry 'bout the cannonball. How's it going?"

Dad: So, they found a CIVIL WAR cannonball right HERE in Hernando Beach. Isn't THAT something?

(Also, my dad totally has selective hearing. He hears what he wants, when he want. Love you, dad! Just kidding! Don't disown me! Hi!)

Me: Where exactly did they find the cannonball? In someone's yard?

Dad: No, no, it was near the road, you know, the main road. In the ditch. They were doing some roadside cleanup.

Me: No one had cleaned the roadside since the Civil War? And they just finally sent some people in orange vests out? And hot damn, ya'll, it's a cannonball?

Dad: (patiently) No, of course they clean the roads. We pay taxes. But these things are covered up sometimes. Conditions change.

Me: Conditions change? Like trash pickup day, finally, since 1862? (torturing my very patient father is challenging, but I sometimes succeed) (because I am a horrible, evil child.)

Dad: I have to go make the cornbread. Do you want to speak to anyone else?


Oh! There's more. While I was cleaning house (ha! more like "when I was thumbing through old photos and pretending to dust...") I found this baby picture of my little Sobakowa from when she was just a wee kitten. That's her real name, I just I call her Chairman Meow because even though she is a little bitty thing she is mean as sin and rules the house with an iron paw.


Seeing this tiny picture of the soon-to-be Chairman Meow all helful up on my sketch pad made me want another baby so badly (if by "baby" ya'll know I mean "kitten") but they grow up so fast. Then you're stuck with a bunch of pooping cats. So anyway, it's a good thing I have pictures of kittens, since I cannot under any circumstances get another animal. They'd have to call the Jaws of Life to pry me out from under the cat hair.

In the comments section here once I wrote up the story of Soba, but ya'll know. It's too good not to share.

Right after we got married, Mr. X and I went in to a shelter place -- that was HORRIBLE and in a mall and later the lady who ran it was in the paper for being CRUEL and went to jail -- and anyway we didn't know all that yet, but we wanted to rescue one older cat.

So we found Roy, all sad and caged up and missing clumps of hair, and had decided on him immediately. I mean, no way was Roy spending another night with anyone but ME. The end.

Then as we were filling out the paperwork, someone at the shelter handed me this little handful of matted ugly fur and said, "No one will take this one. It's too ugly. All the others in its litter got adopted right away." It was covered in food and it snuggled up under my hair and kind of smelled. A little.

And so ya'll know. I immediately said I WILL TAKE THIS UGLY PIECE OF FUR YOU CALL A CAT. I will love it and love it all day long.

And that is the story of Soba, who we named after an infomercial, and also who I think is the prettiest thing ever. And mean as shit. Love you, Chairman Meow!


Not bad for a "Hell no I will not type anymore on this damn computer" entry. Heh.

Posted by laurie at 12:16 AM

June 15, 2005

So pretty. You are all so pretty.

1) Do you know how hard it is to type with your furry little asses right in my face and please stop walking on the keyboard? 33hjkshcajbdvjib;wiasdjbc i????

2) Wouldn't it be great if we could get paid for the things we are best at? Like me! Complaining. I AM A COMPLAINING GODDESS. Someone? Pay me?

3) Thanks, Drew.

Yesterday on the phone Drew gave me some party tips. He's completely the Entertaining Guru, the wet dream of dinner parties. Here's what he says:

"First, you need a theme. If your theme is barbecue, you'll want to ... you know... maybe not drop the hamburgers again." Ok, cool!! Because I was unsure about that part! HAH HAH Oh God, please help me. I am so screwed. Why did I decide to have a party???

But Drew rescues me... "I know you're nervous, but just give everyone a job, like, 'Hi, Regina, you're in charge of dessert!'" My God that man is brilliant. Aside from being the Crochet Dude, he is also BRILLIANT because he says that when you spread out the jobs, you spread out the work and ergo, the stress. This makes so much sense!! Drew, I adore you. Please come to my party. Also, Regina? You are so in charge of desserts. Karman? You are in charge of music. Amy? You are in charge of ... um, plying me with alcohol. Jennifer? You are in charge of making sure people have fun. Ellen? You are in charge of bringing the one man (your husband) to the party. NO PRESSURE, HERE, MR. ELLEN! Faith? you are in charge of not going into an allergic reaction to my cats. Carrie? You are responsible for wine. Fill often and fill wisely.

4) Speaking of Drew, HOLY CRAP! He is getting interviewed for Bust Magazine! Also, when we were chitchatting yesterday he told me the cutest thing. Said he'd shaved his goatee in solidarity of me, since Mr. X grew a goatee and left me alone with four cats and my failure issues and he SHAVED the GOATEE. Is there anything better in this world than a man who shaves his goatee in solidarity? By the way, don't ya'll think Drew is the Isaac Mizrahi of crochet? He's supercute, and smart, and fun, and never drops the food. Please come to my party and be the host! I am so nervous I could die! You're better at this than I am! Thank you for being my friend and listening to The Weirdness of The Bad Hostess.

5) Annie.
Ya'll. Annie Modesitt sent me a pattern for her amazing corset and even wrote me an email pep talk about how I could really make something pretty, and usable, and wearable, because she is SNOWED into thinking I am a real knitter. Which I want to be and WILL BE one day. Also, Annie? Move to California. Please!

6) Work killing me. Send wine.

7) Oh looky! Got wine! Whoops! My bad.

8) Jennifer. With the Ethel? I love you.

9) Notice the wine kicking in? See how I LUUUURVE everyone?

10) Wednesday is coming. Like, when you read this, it will BE Wednesday. And me? With the housecleaning and party prep schedule and so on? Such a hermit! All I can do is drink wine and smoke on the patio!! Because me? LAME. and also, BAD HOSTESS. My parents take party planning seriously. They repaint and hire contractors and put Corian in the kitchen and me? I think having guests over means cleaning the catbox and showering. GAH!!!!!

11) Not supposed to be an eleven on top ten lists.

12) But wine, whatever.

13) There was a tsunami alert for Los Angeles county and me? I have the bad tidal wave nightmares? All I could think was, "GREAT. How the fuck am I going to get all four cats in the carriers and drive to "higher ground" without getting a DUI and does DUI count if you are in a tidal wave?

14) Screw Mr. X and June 30th and Saturn and all of it. Will I really be divorced when the court date is over? Also, I am fat and wasn't he supposed to see me skinny like Kate Moss and wearing... um, like, Prada or something? Instead I will be in some lame black pants and lame shirt and not Kate Moss and SCREW HIM! Hate you, divorcing man. SO NOT INVITED to my party.

15) Also, now the cats pooped and the office is too smelly to type so time to say goodbye. Hotdamn it stinks in here.


Posted by laurie at 1:18 AM

June 14, 2005

Ya'll vs. y'all vs. all yall. Dammit.

"Grammar? I don't even know her!"

The correct spelling of yawl is, I think, y'all, seeing as it's a contraction of "you all." But where I'm from we still read "litterchure" and say things like "I need to get some brisket out of the freezer to unthaw." (Unthawing is what you do when you want it to not be frozen. Ya'll'd know this if you read your litterchure.)

So, I spell it ya'll. Because in my mind, I hear "yawl" and it just seems right to write it that way. It's wrong, of course, but the word itself isn't exactly the Queen's English, so I have dealt with my spelling idiosyncracy and moved on.

Where I'm from, the plural of ya'll is "all ya'll." Where you're from it may be "ya'll all." Or "Your mama 'n them." I do not know.

When my Uncle Dayton got sick last year, I spent more time in Texas than I had since I was a kid. And all these years of living away from the South and refining my California-sounding dialect and trying to rid myself of the Southern accent was erased in 15 minutes upon landing in Longview, Texas.

Well, correction. I didn't exactly land in Longview. I flew to Shreveport and then took a tin can with a propeller on it to Longview and as soon as I freed myself from the sardine can of death, I promptly threw up. I tell you what. It would have been cheaper, and probably safer, to build a dugout and hire an Indian guide and ford some river passes than to fly to Longview, Texas.

So my parents and my Uncle Truman and Aunt Ruth Ann and my Uncle Ronnel and well, pretty much every cousin and kin and neighbor and the entire Great Stet Of Texas conspired to have me sounding just as country as ever in under fifteen minutes flat. And when I flew back to Los Angeles, Jennifer was around me for two seconds and the South began to take her, too, by proxy. It's just that way. The drawl is a powerful thing.

That time in Texas with my family was also sort of the beginning of the end, the end of my illusions of who I wanted to be, illusions and lies and aspirations for a life I don't think was right for me, ever. It's hard and painful to watch someone you love die. It shakes you to the very core and melts away all your carefully arranged exterior, and leaves you with just your real self, and the love you have for your family, and the knowledge that only living true and trying to be happy and honest makes a damn bit of sense.



We called him Uncle Mouse. He played the guitar (the "gi-tar") and he sang and had the ability to make everyone fall apart laughing, always. I loved him so much. He was the warmest, kindest man you'll ever meet. And FUNNY. Even when I see a picture of him just sitting, all quiet, I smile from ear to ear. That's the kind of life I want to live, too. A smiling life. A funny, honest life.

At his funeral, I got cornered by my Great Aunt Francis-Allen and my Great Aunt Mary-Annette, both of whom were relations I never knew existed. They are from a certain generation of Southern woman, and they are about eleven hundred years old and live together (having both buried husbands and children) and they talk about the past as if it still lived on. And on. AND ON.

They somehow got me in a corner and started quizzing me. "Who do you belong to, young lady?" "Are your people the ones from up in Florida?" (Mind you, Florida? Directionally south of Texas. But old Texans? Think everything is up north.) Then I got to hear the story of Mary-Annette's husband, the first one, who was captured during the war and his people went back to the days of Sam Houston himself and did I know whether I was from the Beams side of the family?

Before long I was getting a history lesson about the War of Northern Aggression and I had to do some frantic math in my head because Mary-Annette, her husband? No way he could have fought in the Civil War, right? But man she's old. Like, she could be in a bonnet with a wagon train kind of old. Churn her own butter kind of old. And she just said "Appomatix" in a sentence. OH SOMEONE PLEASE COME RESCUE ME FROM THE TALKING.

And my family? My loving mom and dad and brothers and Uncle Truman? They perched right there in the sitting room and pointed at me, who was pinned in a corner by two grand old Southern dames in long swishing skirts, and they laughed at me. Laughed at me at the wake.

That's my family. God love 'em all. And all ya'll. And y'all, too.

Posted by laurie at 9:17 AM

June 13, 2005

Take a picture, it'll last longer


Saturday, June 11
6:35 a.m. Wake up to Frankie meowing on my chest. This is either the "Pet me, I'm lonely" meow or the "Feed me, so so hungry" meow. Neither of which are appreciated at the butt crack of dawn on a Saturday.

6:37 a.m. Contemplate selling all four cats on eBay.

7:10 a.m. Wonder what I was smoking when I thought it would be a great idea to rent a tiller and dig up the back yard for a garden. Wonder where on earth to find a tiller in Los Angeles. Must have coffee to fully understand error of ways.

8:07 a.m. Decide Tomorrow Is Another Day, and probably a better day for the Great Tiller Adventure.

8:09 a.m. Remember I have to go to Post Office. Then, sadly, remember payday is not for three more days. Must conserve all necessary resources until payday.

8:22 a.m. Wonder if I can accept sugar daddy applications online.

8:48 a.m. Remember that I am going to Ellen's Saturday knitting group at the Farmer's Market and feel completely freed of all other obligations, because Knitting Comes First.

Pictures (click for big):

Ellen in her amazing Serafina shawl, which is so pretty and perfectly matched her outfit:


You would not believe it until you saw it, but yes, Ellen crocheted a set of headrest covers for her car!! I call them seat cozies because I think everything knitted or crocheted is essentially a cozy. Don't you? A hat is a head cozy. A shrug is a shoulder cozy. A tank top is a boob cozy. Socks are foot cozies. You get the picture. And I about died with love when I saw these headrest cozies:


After Saturday SNB, Jennifer and I went to Target for the essentials (which in my world seems to be cat litter because OH WITH THE POOPING. You have never seen cats poop so much. In fact, they poop more than I feed them, like somehow they are manufacturing poop in their little furry behinds and if I could find a way to power a vehicle with cat poop, I'd be the richest woman alive and never need a sugar daddy. No sir.)

At Target, we have to wander up and down every aisle in order (which means start at the front of the store and walk all the way around the perimeter, then do the middle) because if not, I feel like I am missing Target and I complain, loudly, that we are MISSING all the TARGET and the GOODNESS. This is how my mind works. Like I managed to conquer my spastic synapses and sensory overload tendencies by applying a grid to the Target. But it works! I never miss the good stuff!

We found the summertime essentials aisle and spent a fair twenty minutes debating which kind of pool I should buy for the party* and Jennifer was kind enough to try them out for quality control purposes only:


I did not purchase a pool (see "payday" above) but I'm also not sure I need a mosquito-breeding habitat in the backyard, what with our West Nile issue and all. Ya'll know how I am with Nature. Nature wants to kill me -- I don't want to add fuel to the fire.

*The Party Footnote
I am actually throwing myself a birthday party, which is BIZARRE since I hate to draw attention to my birthday and never celebrate it, not really. Because birthdays stress me out. But you know. New year. New me. No husband to wake me up and say Happy Birthday. You have to make your own happiness in this world, I think, instead of waiting for someone to bring it to you. Plant your own garden. (Well, unless you're me and are immobilized by the thought of renting a tiller.) (But, really, plant your own garden. The metaphorical kind.) Also: longest freaking footnote ever. Love Mondays!

Finally, The Hat. (Again.)

My current hat obsession has led to several key insights.

1) I have gauge issues
2) I cannot count
3) When talking, do not attempt to also do decrease rows

Laina's perfectly nice scarf which morphed into a hat (thank you, OCD!) was coming along just fine until I realized I had once again created a very, very large mushroom. This is not because I am a bad knitter, as I previously suspected. This is in fact because I am brain dead at The Math and cannot even count. Therefore, my gauge (which I usually "guestimate") is always wrong. You can see why I also have issues with the cooking.

Yet, not all is lost. I plan to fix this hat by adding a fluffy off-white faux-fur-ish lining. I'm thinking I'll just knit another hat and seam them together. Right now, Laina is thinking, THANK GOD I MOVED TO BOSTON where I don't have to see CRAZY OLD PURL and wear her crazy FUNKIFIED HAT. And you thought moving to Boston would be just for grad school. Here it's saved you embarrassment and ridicule. But you know I expect a picture of you in this hat!


Giant Godzilla hat prepares to eat tiny Los Angeles.

Posted by laurie at 10:21 AM

June 10, 2005

Is this week over yet?

Our lead story: Hooray! It's Friday!

Jen and I went to the West Hollywood Stitch 'n Bitch last night. Many of our regular folks were missing, but it was still a relaxing evening, the highlight of my week. One of the nice things about having a smaller group is that you get to talk more in depth with people. (Well, you get to do this if some people, who shall be talked about later on, would ever SHUT UP.)

And it's so good to meet people this way, picking up more pieces of their life story at a time. I got to chat up Faith, who I ADORE, and learn more about her trip to Alaska. Just as I was about to invite her to my house for a knit-on-the patio session, she mentioned she was deathly allergic to pets. Frankly, I wear a fine layer of cat hair everywhere I go, so I'm surprised she didn't fly into an asthma attack just sitting by me. But I'm improvising a way to get her to my house without her falling over dead on the sofa, and it involves Saran Wrap. I'll let ya'll know what I come up with.

Carrie was there, looking sparkly and smiling. And I got to talk to Crystal more, who is a surprise around every corner, just a great lady with a quiet sense of humor that sneaks up on you. She made Jennifer happy as could be by asking about Ethel the Cat (who is doing better, gradually). And I met Beth, who made a gorgeous red cable-knit sweater, and everyone had a nice low-key knit night.

So that was very, very good.

But then. There was THE TALKER. And you know who it was.

It's been a long week and yesterday was a long day (but tiredness is no excuse, this happens all the time) because oh man, THE THINGS THAT COME OUT OF MY MOUTH. It's like I was born without the critical filtering mechanism that keeps normal, well-bred folks from doing any or all of the following:

1) Shouting out in a STRIDENT and also somewhat BITTER way that I no longer believe in marriage and think it's all a sham.

2) After said tirade, discover Beth is about to be married in one month. Congratulate her. Then KEEP ON WITH THE BITTERNESS. Because I am a DUMBASS.

3) Give a big overshare to the group about my personal life (or, rather, total lack thereof.)

4) Try to persuade Faith to go in with me on raising Icelandic sheep in my backyard. In ENCINO.

4) Tell Crystal she's crazy as I INSIST upon winding her mohair yarn for her.

5) Accidentally tell Audrey how glad I am to see her crocheting. Audrey is knitting. I stare right at her knitting needles. Then immediately recovered from this weird moment by looking off blankly into space.

6) Which prompted Carrie and Faith to ask me if I was OK and needed a glass of wine.

7) Which I declined, since I was tired and had to drive home, but then I said out loud that I planned to go home and basically hook myself up to a wine IV.

8) Again, I talk about the Hello Kitty vibrator. Next stop: Porn. We all know it's coming.

9) Smelling everyone's yarn.

10) Asking everyone, repeatedly, what the singular of "sheep" is.

Really, it's amazing I haven't been committed. My only saving grace is that people out here know I am Southern, so they think I'm just colorful. Like this verbal meltdown is a quirk or something shared by all people who drink sweet tea. And I'm real sorry to all the Southerners out there who can never come to California now because I have spoiled it for ya'll, by proliferating the sheep-obsessed, porn-talking, bitter old craggy southern lady image. Whoops!

Audrey smiles in the group; Beth with gorgeous sweater

Darcy with magic scarf; Carrie (L) and Faith (R) stitchin' and bitchin'

Jen and Crystal chat with Toni, Natalie is so HOT!

Me and Jen, peas and carrots.

In other news...

I just got off the phone with my parents to find out if they were battening down the hatches for Tropical Storm Arlene. My folks live right on the water on the Gulf side of Florida. Here it is only ten days into June and already there's crap swirling around on the radar. NOT GOOD.

Me: Hi! Just calling to see if ya'll are boarding up the windows and hoarding the wonder bread in anticiaption of Arlene!

My mom: Oh, hi! No, no. This one is just a tropical storm. I'm on my way to meet your dad at Red Lobster, only I'm so sad because I can't have a Lobsterita! We're driving later down to meet Chris and Don.

Me: Ya'll are going ..? where?

My mom: Oh! We're going to meet Chris and Don in the motorhome!

Me: ... in a tropical storm?

My mom: I know! Isn't this funny! We're going camping* in a tropical storm! It will fun. Heck, it's going to rain all over us here in the Gret Stet of Florida so it might as well be raining on us someplace fun!

[* Note: When my parents say "camping" they mean going out in the motorhome which is nicer than my house and has a washer and dryer in it. I kid you not. And ya'll wonder why I am spoiled and won't pee in the woods? SEE EXHIBIT A: My Family.]

Me: Well, be careful! Drive safe! Sorry about the Lobsterita!

My mom: Oh! Me, too. Maybe I can get one to go!

And finally...
Drew, our favorite Crochet Dude, was featured in an article for Talking Crochet And I called him today because in addition to having a crazy family and an inability to censor myself, I am also a stalker! Hi Drew! What's for dinner? How's Chandler? Want to come over? For cake? It is Friday, after all!

Posted by laurie at 3:52 PM

June 9, 2005

A loot 'n a holler

This morning I was driving to work at the armpit of a.m. and I was thinking about the different packages and cards and surprises I have received in the past few weeks. I had plenty of time to reminisce, what with everyone and their uncle banging into each other on the 101 freeway and creating quite the parking lot.

In "Jane" magazine a few months ago, one of the reporters was describing Los Angeles traffic. She said that if you want to feel the L.A. driving experience, go sit in your car wearing a pair of Ugg boots and idle your engine in the driveway for an hour or so.

That was the best description EVER of our roads. Wish I would have thought it up myself.

All cities have traffic, but ask any New Yorker or Bostonite or Chicagoan (Chicagoan? Chicago-ite? Chican?) who has expatriated to Los Angeles if their traffic back home was worse than L.A. Go ahead, ask them. After the laughing and indignation and maybe swearing dies down, you'll be informed that we do indeed have the worst freeways and gridlock in the nation, and there are about ninety bazillion studies to back it up factually. Also, we are perversely proud of telling people about our traffic. It's like we survived something, each and every day. I'm just saying, is all.

(And because I know ya'll want some of these casually cited "studies" I'm just throwing off the cuff, here is the Travel Time Index table, in PDF format, by the Urban Mobility Study. And for those of ya'll who are complete nerds like me and want to read the whole study, like I did, you can get the full 2005 Urban Mobility Report here. It's crazy. I mean it. Makes you want to up and move to Wyoming.)

So there I was, with all my friends on the freeway, thinking about the very first package I received, which was from Kellie and Lynne. I received it on a Tuesday and I saved it. I didn't open it for a few days, and then I got another package from Kristy (krickit) and I saved it too. How did I manage to have such self-control? I knew what was coming in my week, and I knew I'd need a little Christmas-style package opening to get me through. On Friday, that particular Friday a few weeks ago, I handed a scandalously large check to a lawyer to help move along the dissolutioning. It was a sad day, and a poor day. Then I came home, poured a wine the size of my head, and opened up presents and laughed and ate tim-tams and tried to speak Aussie and put post-it notes all over my house.

[click on any small images for big ones.]

Lynne and Kellie sent me the motherload of all goodness: chocolate, Australian Cheetos, kitschy postcards, yarn, you name it!! Lynne, did you hand-dye that yarn yourself? Lynne is very crafty that way. Go read her blog. Kristy sent this beautiful box with yarn that she said had been taunting her, and I plan to make one hell of a hat with it. And that's a close-up of the post-its, which I thought were hee-larious.

Also, Kellie and Lynne included some cat toys for the furballs and I wish you could have seen how Frankie pounced on the red mouse and even endured a beat-down from the Sobakowa to retain all mouse ownership:

The following week, Anmiryam of Gromit Knits and Janis, who owns a yarn shop in northern California (and I plan to just show up one day on both their doorsteps, Hi Janis! or Hi! Anmiryam! It's me! Can I live here?) sent me some fiber goodies, too. Some of the most beautiful yarn, just luscious, and Janis how did you know I would sniff it first thing? hah hah I sniffed all this yarn, I'll have you know. I was practically high off the beauty of it.
You do realize that you're just feeding my hat habit here, right? And that this yarn will be on my head before long? I smelled it, and it said, "hat! hat!"

Ashley sent me some of the prettiest stitch markers I have ever seen, and notice she addressed the card to Raurie!! Got a kick out of that one. Oh, Ashley? The Chocolate Margarita candybar you sent? I ate it. All of it. It went great with some white wine. That was the best dinner I had in several days.

And Dani, who knows about my drinking and knitting problem, sent me some stitch markers made just for me, with the funniest little drink doodads on them, so cute!


Jane went to Maryland Sheep & Wool and brought me back a surprise!! Look! Yarn and a hat and a card that looks just like Bob, and coincidentally Bob happened to be in the vicinity, so you know. Spooky! Like he knew an orange-cat card was in the mail. (Also: confession. I wore this hat to Trader Joe's this weekend in hopes someone would ask me if I am a sheep farmer.) (No one did.)

Goodies from Jane... and Jane, please tell Peggy that I have something in the package I'm sending you that's for her, too. Hope Edward is feeling better!!

Jennifer sent me a couple of hat patterns, thank you!!! You know how I am with the hat madness. And look!! The cutest ever tape measure, it's a camel and the furry tail pulls out into a tape measure, which I think is too funny for words. How do people think these things up? I love it. And look! Cards! Cards and postcards and these are now adorning my fridge, so everytime I reach in there for the consolation wine, I feel happy because someone on the Internets sent me a card. I love ya'll. Thanks to Madeleine, Dean, and Lisa. Thank you!!

(Um, this is probably going to really embarrass me...)
Here's one I can't quite figure out. Maybe I have killed off the vital brain cells that connect memory to reality, but for the life of me I have no idea who sent this and it is DRIVING ME CRAZY because I love LOVE David Sedaris!! And this is like the mecca of David Sedaris books ON TAPE!! So I can knit and also get my brain expanded, all at the same time. The return label was from Massachussets. But the newspaper inside the box was from Indiana. HOW? How can that be? Are ya'll just trying to mess with me? Cause it is working! How can I properly thank you and grovel at your Sedaris-loving feet when I have no clue who you are?


In April, Laura and Jen of the world-famous JenLa participated in the Revlon Run/Walk and raised money both in real life and on the internets. (Also, Laura is a girl after my own heart because she brought a coke as her replenishment for this run/walk event. Us sporty types have to stick together.) Anywho, Wendy, who runs the site Zibibbo, offered to do a drawing for anyone who would pimp out and sponsor the JenLa team. Then Wendy would pull a name out of a hat and voila! Insta-love. Good karma. And guess what! I was the girl whose name got pulled from the hat!!!

Now this is so good on so many levels, because I am here to tell you I have never once, NEVER, won anything in my entire life. My dad used to tell me that if it weren't for bad luck I wouldn't have any luck at all. The way things were going this past year, I was even afraid to play the Lotto, because with my luck I'd somehow manage to break it and I'd owe them money.

But THINGS CHANGE. I am here to tell you. Your husband may leave you to get his creativity back, and you might be sad and get your car stolen (on your wedding anniversary no less) and you might have a whole variety of very bad things happen one right after another. Because sometimes things suck. And they will just keep sucking until they stop. But they do stop! Eventually! (Am I being profound right now or what? I'm getting all philosophical up in your business while using the word "sucking." There goes my chance of a Pulitzer.)

So your old aunt purl was the winner and Wendy sent me this gorgeous Italian cotton tape and some amazing coffee that smelled up my whole kitchen, in the good way, where you walk in and think, "Mmmmm, damn my kitchen is yummy!"


So much good stuff! I thank you so so much! Thank you! I'll tell you the truth .. all the good that has come into my life lately is all right here, on this knitting internets. I'm glad I found the good internets instead of the bad one with the child molesters on it. (My mom watched this episode of Primetime Live once and called me to ask if I knew how all the Internets were full of pedophiles. It's scary out there, I tell you.) Thank you so much. (If I missed your website address, please email it to me for linkage!)

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Oh! And last night I was fiddling with the packages I'm sending, assembling some things together. And I have a few goodies that I am sending to dogs, because ya'll know how I am. And anyway, last weekend I bought these rawhide bones to put in the packages (because I'm the crazy girl who sends mail to dogs) and I had opened up the rawhide bones from the plastic bag and set them in an open box with some tissue paper and ribbon and stuff. Just gathering supplies, you know.

On Monday morning I woke up and I was walking to the kitchen to feed the cats and I tripped over a rawhide bone in the middle of the living room floor.

"Damn," I said to myself. "How much wine did I have last night? I must have left stuff in the living room right on the floor! Sheesh."

So I picked it up, put it on the table and went about my day.

Came home Monday night. There was a rawhide bone in the hallway. Tuesday morning I wake up and damn if there isn't a rawhide bone in the bed with me. Now, I may not be a master of the obvious, but I'm beginning to suspect one of the following:

1) My house is being haunted by the ghost of a dog.
2) Some burgler is breaking in and rearranging the dog bones.
3) One of my cats is very confused.

And of course, it's Bob. The "special" cat. The one who stares at his own paw for long periods of time.

I told this story to someone at work, about the puppy cat and the rawhide bones, and I'm thinking it's just funny and (okay) maybe a tee-tiny bit weird. But Coworker says, "Well, can't that make him SICK? Is that GOOD for him?" Which got me worried. So I had to call the vet and ask, over their peals of laughter, if my catdog could get sick and die from rawhide bones. You have never heard a trained professional doctor laugh so hard. "Is he a guard cat?" "Do you call him? Here puppy cat!" and "Maybe you can make him sic... sic, get it? Not SICK, but sic...hahahahah."

Yeah, real funny. Thanks. Damn vet humor. This is my puppycat and I'm proud of it, SO THERE.

(Also, all ya'll internet dogs will be getting new, not pre-chewed rawhide bones in your packages. Promise.)



Posted by laurie at 2:15 PM

June 8, 2005

A day late and a dollar short

Of course, I am about 72 days and thousands of dollars short, but you get the general idea. I am behind in everything. EVERYTHING. Here is a brief list, with a longer more detailed description to follow.

• I am behind schedule on my diet

• I am waaaay late planting my garden. Hi, it's JUNE.

• I am weeks behind in email answering, blogstalking and general internets tomfoolery.

• I am one poor pathetic excuse of a mail-receiver and mail-sender.

• I am behind on holidays.

• I am woefully behind on writing.

• I am totally late to the draw with every kind of family obligation.

• I am behind on the seasons.

• I am behind on my knitting.

• I am behind on world events, news, politics, etc. (but I am totally caught up on gossip, thank you Star magazine and US weekly! I sure got my priorities straight!)

Ok, so here we go. Got some coffee? This is long.

1. Diet
My fridge currently has all manner of peppers, cauliflower, broccoli and other ass-diminishing foods still sitting in the plastic. Hard to eat them when they are just sitting there, unwashed, uncut and uncooked. At this point their only purpose is to separate the beer from the diet Coke.

2. Garden
When the hell did it get to be June already? I have yet to break ground in my backyard for a garden or plant any of the two bazillion seed packets I bought. My parents told me this weekend I'd be better off eating the seeds. THANKS, YA'LL.

3. Internets
I am one poor correspondent, I've been too (too) hard to find. But I just can't seem to get you off my mind. And when I get home at night, do I turn on the computer and answer email and do all the responsible, geeklike things I truly want and need to do? No. I come home, feed the cats, clean the catbox, and have just enough time before bed for a glass of wine on the patio. If I start getting home any later or getting up any earlier, I'll just be going to bed when the alarm goes off. Woe the fuck is me.

4. Mail
Ok, we're going to save this one for last. Because it's long, detailed, and VERY IMPORTANT.

5. Holidays
My mom's Mother's Day gift? Still sitting here making California a better place to be. How can she love a child who is incapable of sending anything on time? And Father's Day? It's next weekend. Have I found a good Dad present yet? HAH HAH HAH.

6. Writing
I want to write a piece for Annie, knit goddess and object of all my affection. But have I completed it? No. Why? because I want it to be PERFECT and also, I want it to NOT SUCK. Here's where I get into real trouble. For more on this, see "mail" below.

7. Family obligations
In addition to holidays (see above) I have also got a birthday and graduation card here for my nephew who graduated and ate birthday cake a month ago. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME? Perhaps these gifts and cards needed to age. We may never know. Also, my Uncle Truman? Calls my parents once a day to tell them that me, Their Bad Daughter, has not called. Again.

8. Seasons

9. Knitting
Mystery Knitted Cat Thingamajig? From, like, February? Still only half-done. Self-hatred sets in.

10. World Events, etc.
Perhaps I haven't had time to read any news or watch any news or do anything remotely brain-expanding, but let me guess: Politics still sucks, we're still at war, the economy is still weird, the globe is still warming, the rich are still rich and the poor are still poor. Am I close?

Now. Let's get back to #4: MAIL.

This one is important because it explains a lot about me, and really has less to do with my currently insane workload than it does with my always insane self. The fact is, I have a problem. Well, two problems, really.

Perfectionism and Procrastination.

My two closest companions. Perhaps you may have seen them before? Do they look familiar to you, too? Please say yes. Don't leave me here all alone with them.

And what does this have to do with mail? Well, ya'll know I love mail. I mean LOVE it. This comes from spending most of my life in some rural chickenscratch town where the mail was the one surprise every day. Except Sundays, and those were dreaded interminable endless days, spent in too-tight dress shoes and on hard church pews. No surprises there. But mail? You just never could tell what might show up in the big metal mailbox.

When you live out on the Rural Route 99 and your mailbox is down half a mile at the foot of the drive, you also get the feeling that you're traveling long and far to get your surprise. I used to wait each day for three o'clock to roll around so I could take the dogs with me and walk down to the end of the long, winding dirt trail we called a "driveway" and pick up the mail and afternoon paper. In Comfort, Texas and all the little towns of my childhood, one thing stayed the same: meandering to the mailbox, wondering where the stamps would be from, getting dust on my toes as I went to fetch the mail.


So I do love mail. At age seven I got my first pen-pal, and she was from a fabled and far-away place called "Manitoba." I looked up Manitoba on the Time-Life Atlas and decided it must be very, very exciting there. I don't know what became of my pen-pal, but to this day, the word Manitoba still makes me think of snowglobes and pretty stamps.

I also love to send mail. LOVE it. I love the packaging, the addressing, the careful contemplation of every piece, like a little treasure hunt in a box. But, ah, here's where my twin theives of suckage, perfectionim and procrastination, come into play. I can't just mail something. Oh no. I have to make it AN EVENT. Which is retarded. I mean, just put the pieces together in a box and mail it.


I am the person who insists upon making my own holiday cards every year and EVERY YEAR fails to mail them on time, or mail them at all, because they must be PERFECT. And if they are not perfect, I cannot send them.

I have a long, long list of ways that the two Ps affect my life and ya'll, it is not for the positive. Let's take email for example. I can't just send off a one-line reply, or jot a quick "Thanks! Talk to you soon!" as Lynne has discovered. No. Instead, I will appear to be ignoring all your little notes for a week when suddenly you get the War & Peace of emails in your inbox. (Drew, you know, too. I'm sorry. I'll try to write postcard emails from now on. How's your eyestrain, by the way?)

And now I need to do a little apologizing. I LOVE the mail, and each piece makes me so happy and I laugh and feel like it's Christmas and I am appreciative, in fact I am floored that anyone would send me anything, and yet, have I let anyone know this?


So, this is the mail I have received in the past two weeks:

And this is the mail I have yet to send:

Notice the carefully designed box labels, the uniformity of the box size, the padded envelopes, the tissue paper and bubble wrap. And imagine inside a handmade card, perhaps a little voodoo, a surprise or two. Now imagine I meant to send this all weeks ago but I am here, STUCK IN MY RUT OF PERFECTIONIST PROCRASTINATION trying to make you the best ever T-shirt, card, or CD, something that will knock your socks off.

And there's more. More ways I fuck up with the perfectionism. See, when I received each little mailbox surprise, I should have just emailed a quick "Thank you! love it!" but I did not do so. Instead, I thought, "Oh, they'll love it so much more if I send something unique and small and funny!" Or, in other words, perfect. And while I am having all this perfection happening in my mind, ya'll are out there thinking I have no good sense and I have bad manners because I never write, never call. When I'm just trying to find the perfect way to thank you.

I must stop this. I have to change. And now.

One of my Birthday Resolutions, coming soon to an Internets near you in mid-June, is to STOP WITH THE PERFECTIONISM. Especially when all the (imperfect, but still fun) outbound mail is stalled at home. Not in the mail. Or in your mailbox. Or anywhere near Manitoba.

So. Tomorrow is Thursday. I will wake up a few hours early to do some much needed email maintenance and print some things out. Friday night I will finish assembling the goodness, and Saturday it's off to the Post Office, even if nothing is perfectly perfect. NO MATTER WHAT.

Also, tomorrow I will give you the detailed low-down on THE LOOT!!! With pictures! I've received such cool packages and nice notes and postcards and all manner of goodness. And, please, bear with me. I've had 33 years to entrench myself in My Issues, it may take me a few weeks to work out all the kinks.

But I thank you :) I do I do I do.

P.S. I just need to say it one more time. MANITOBA. Love that word.

Posted by laurie at 8:40 AM

June 7, 2005

Look up "obsessed" in the dictionary. Hi! That's me!

I am crazy. As if you did not already know this.

The hat thing has become not merely a project, not just a new notch on my knitting belt, no. No, ya'll. It has moved beyond quest and right into the realm of the OBSESSED and also, CRAZY.


I think I might be channeling my work stress and also looming-court-date stress into hatmaking. (Could be worse, I could be a glue-sniffing carjacker with visible panty lines. You know.) Work is hard, and also long, and there is so much Work involved these days. I thought this place was just where the free coffee and network connection was located. My mistake! And June 30th? Looming. But let us talk about HATS. Because that is THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE OF ALL OUR LIVES.

Green ribbed hat.

Just the facts, ma'am: Lion Brand Wool-Ease chunky in green (Willow 173). Size 11 Addi Turbo circs, 16" long. I swatched, because I love to swatch. Makes me feel like I am a real knitter (ha! I really just do it because it's a mini-scarf!) Got my gauge. Made this hat for a 21- to 22-inch head. Cast on 72 stitches.

Let the ribbing begin.

There were some issues along the way with this hat, because have I ever made a hat without a serious need for therapy and wine? No. Yet I persevere. Because I SHALL CONQUER THE HAT. I will be the freakin' Napolean Bonaparte of hats ya'll. So, here are some things I would have done differently in retrospect.

1. I would have used a smaller needle for the ribbing, to make the ribbing a little more snug.

2. I would have made the hat longer by about one inch.

3. I would someohow magically know how to decrease so I don't get those little "points" where the decrease starts. HOW do I do this? HELP ME. Or is this just normal? Or am I being a perfectionistic freak?

4. I would have resisted the urge to cast on two more stitches than The Math (but I wanted to make it a number divisible by 12! I can do 12!) In the future, I will find some way to learn math and divide up numbers that are not multiples of 12. Pass the wine.

Click thumbnails for bigger images.

With the green ribby hat all completed, I needed a new project for the morning bus ride. I picked up the mohair blend and ribbon combo I had planned to scarf up for Laina, and I started my swatch/scarf. But ya'll know. I couldn't resist the urge to see -- just see -- how it looked in stockinette. So pretty! Really, much better than some old garter stitch. And wouldn't this make a pretty (if somewhat shiny) hat? Wouldn't it? You know, a blue hat. A pretty hat. A HAT HAT HAT.

So, um, Laina! Hi! Hope you want another hat! Please email me your head measurement again! Are you in Boston yet? Miss you! Hat!

Click for big. Fuzzy is Lana Grossa "Fumo," ribbon is Plymouth "Electra."

The green hat, certainly more of a success than the Orange Mushroom Hat, and the new blue sparkly hat to come have inspired me in a way that will warm your heart and make you believe in knitting again, because folks, I have found a way to fool myself. I have decided that if I convince myself the Ugly Mystery Knitted Cat Thingamajig is actually ONE BIG HAT (which it is not, but whatever) then I will finish it. This weekend.


Posted by laurie at 10:39 AM

June 6, 2005

Magic Scarf -- a better recipe


The sun is out today, so let's talk about knitting. Because summertime and sunshine, ya'll that's scarf weather! People on the bus probably think I have gone buckwild crazy, knitting in summer. But yarn is a higher calling, and it calls to me even on sunny days.

I have had more emails than I can count about the scarf with the fancy schmancy pattern, modeled by one Roy The Cat. The basketweave/checkerboard scarf is probably my all-time favorite because it's easy and it looks great and I was so sure I was making crazy advanced knitting strides -- although, really, it's just knit and purl. It's so easy! Even though it looks complex! (I totally lied and told non-knitting friends this pattern was VERY complex and DIFFICULT knitting. Ha! Forget living out loud!)

The first time I posted about making my Magic Scarf (as Drew calls it), I may have been a bit vague and also, me giving directions? So sad. "Turn left where the old truck used to be. Then go up the road a ways... and you know where they once planned to build the Home Depot but didn't? Turn right a little before that."

So here is a better scarf recipe. The kind ladies at A Major Knitwork patiently showed me how to make this pattern. Thanks to Heidi for asking the right questions and to Drew for showing us all how edging is really done!

Hah hah has anyone gotten the irony here of me, gaugeless girl who also cannot cook, posting a knitting recipe?

Magic Scarf
You'll need:

  • yarn

  • knitting needles

The recipe:
(Vary as needed for taste)

  • Cast on 20 stitches

  • Knit 5 stitches. Purl 5. Knit 5. Purl 5.

  • Repeat for ten rows.

  • Magic time! On row 11, Begin the row with PURL 5, then knit 5, purl 5, knit 5.

  • Repeat for ten rows.

  • Go back to knit 5, purl 5. Knit 5. Purl 5 for ten rows.

  • On and on. I did this for nine feet. I am crazy.

  • Bind off! Love! Enjoy!

Can it get any easier?

The concept behind the scarf is so cool. You're making little blocks of stockinette stitch. Some blocks are stockinette, and some are reverse stockinette, and it makes a checkerboard!



Alterations to the recipe:

  • Knit three rows of garter stitch at the beginning and end of the scarf to keep it nice and flat.

  • Knit 3 stitches of garter stitch on the edges (like Drew's scarf).

  • Add fringe.

  • Add stripes (I did all mine in self-striping wool and they look so pretty! If I do say so myself.) (And I do.)

Links to magic scarf stuff:

Let me know if you made something, too, and want your link on the list! I still think it's magic the way knits and purls make art. Magic! Or maybe yarn gnomes! Either way, love you, knitting.

No gnomes were harmed in the making of this Magic Scarf.

Posted by laurie at 1:52 PM

June 5, 2005

June Gloom

I blame it on the weather.

Los Angeles, notoriously bright, glittery hard Los Angeles, suffers each year under several weeks of heavy coastal cloud cover, making the entire city a grey, gloomy place. The dreary overcast skies arrive each June, hence the name. June Gloom.

(For those of ya'll still covered in snow, are you crying into your morning coffee for the plight of the poor, sad little Los Angelenos who are depressed by an overcast morning?)

But June Gloom is a powerful thing for people who see sunshine 335 days a year and twice on Sundays. Apparently I have forgotten the grumpy, monsoonal Southern weather of my youth and I have fully acclimated to this California paradise, and now I'm a little gloomy gus myself thanks to the marine layer.

Last night a few girls stopped by for a sandwich and some libation, and before night's end I was crying into my wineglass, not so much out of missing him, exactly, as missing the human contact. Little small things, holding hands, getting your head patted, human touch that you want but don't realize you need, like air or water. And this morning I just couldn't sleep, so I got up at six, and drove up to the store for coffee and a Sunday paper, and the air was dense (even humidity is a rarity here) and the sky was grey and wrinkled like Freud's underpants, and I don't have the good sense God gave a mule because I put on some James Taylor and put the windows down on my Jeep and drove on the near-empty streets thinking of every grey sky I had ever shared with him, in Poland and Switzerland and Prague and driving through Denmark, while eating crackers in Iceland, wandering back roads of Norway, while listening to James Taylor in a diesel-powered Volkswagon in Belgium, while on my very first trip anywhere, which was of course with him.

And we traveled so much because it was the only time I had him all to myself -- trapped with me in a car in a foriegn country -- the only time we were happy. But you can't travel all the time. You can't keep charging things on credit cards trying to buy a little time, a little attention, a little love trapped in a Volkswagon. And yesterday my mail brought a court date, which I was sure DID NOT bother me one bit, me! who's Moving On, and living out loud, and not crying into the jack daniels coffee cup anymore, me! the one who goes out and meets strangers. I was sure I was just past all this nonsense.

But ya'll know. It comes and goes.

And people have a unique realtaionship to the weather, it can take you to places you had forgotten you'd ever been to. The smell of fall reminds you of school and new notebooks. The first cold night is football season, or hot spiced tea. The first warm, balmy night is Tracy Chapman songs and cold beer. I think I moved away from the South because the lushness, the denseness of the humidity and the green and the rain and the heat were too passionate, too ardent, dangerous to a young girl with a vivid imagination who wants, endlessly, the wanting and the wanting to inhale life, to breathe it.

Los Angeles suits me most of the time, dry and hot and cluttered. But the June Gloom makes you a little pensive. It's a weather pause between Winter (also known as "It's 59 degrees, where are my Uggs?") and Summer (a.k.a. "Road Construction.") When we have real weather, it comes as such a shock, a surprise that anything but sun can occur day in and day out. The wind is an event, the rain makes national headlines, even fire and mud are weather out here, all big, all dramatic, all something that gets strangers talking to each other at Starbucks. The Gloom, however, is subtle. You forget about it and then it sneaks up on you, blankets the city in grey and quiet.

As I get older, and more divorced with each passing day, and also now that I have all this time on my hands to contemplate my navel (and develop theories about weather for chrissakes), I think I want some rain. Some snow. Some lightening. Something lush, or harsh, or fresh, or wide open with no traffic and no smog and no sadness. Something.

In truth, I have no idea what I want. Maybe I just want the sun to come back out, and the whole damn thing to be over with, and also I want it never to be over with, because it never will be, will it? There will always be a song, a smell, a moment that reminds you, won't there? There will always be a day or a passing glance or some shared moment that makes you miss something, and makes you have to pull your car over on the side of the road because you're crying too hard, and you miss it and you feel nostalgic for what you had, even if it wasn't that great at the time.

And this I blame, for now, entirely on the weather.

Posted by laurie at 10:34 AM

June 3, 2005

Let Us Never Speak Of This Again.

Hey! Guess what I learned today! I learned that when you have had no coffee and it is 5:30 in the a.m. and you're on the bus to downtown Los Angeles, whatever you do ... NEVER EVER try to pick up your knitting in the middle of a decrease row because guess what! You will be still half-asleep and dreaming of donuts and you'll just knit, knit, knit and completely forget you're supposed to be decreasing!

And then guess what I learned! NEVER EVER remove your row marker while attempting to fix the mess, even though you think you'll slip it back on in just a sec because you? Still dreaming of donuts, remember? And you? Not really using the thinking part of the brain. AND YOU WILL FORGET THAT MARKER. And then all that amazing knitting you did yesterday in bad traffic on the 101 where you made almost a whole hat? It will be really really screwed up!



So, anyway, I don't want to talk about my hat.

And I have software training again all day which means I can't just go hole up in a conference room with my hat-mess and some coffee and fix it, even though you know I will be obsessing over this hat problem ALL DAY ("Huh? Me? Oh right. Hi, yes. The new software. Yes. Excellent. No decrease rows. Love it!") I blame all of this on Karl Rove. No, I don't know exactly how he's responsible, I just know that he is responsible. We'll work out the details later, after all, we're Democrats! Go with me on this, folks.

Also, let's talk about some other things that are better left unsaid.

Yesterday I defrosted half a cow from my freezer and I was so damn excited to come home and make some steak and maybe serve it with a ... I don't know... a broccoli spear or something, and complete a Healthy and also Totally Not Fried day. I would be so skinny just from eating one day of low carbs. I was convinced. (Also, if you have some suspect real estate to sell, I'm your gal! Can't you just see the blinking neon GULLIBLE MORON sign on my forehead?) (Told ya'll I had a big forehead.)

Except, me? With the steak? The one I defrosted and looked forward to eating? Well, it seemed a little odd to fire up the charcoal grill just for one steak, no matter how huge a steak it may be, even though ya'll know I do love to barbecue. As my Uncle Truman says, "Show me a Southern girl who cannot barbecue and I will show you an orphan!"

And I believe this to be the God's Honest Truth because even those Southern belles who claim they cannot barbecue would be able to whip up some dinner on an open flame if they had to. I have seen it with my own eyes at 4-H camp. Us delicate little Southern girls just pretend we don't know how to barbecue because, really, nothing looks hotter than a man cooking some meat over a fire. But as soon as Guy Who Thinks He Can Barbecue goes inside to get a beer, we're over at the grill turning the meat THE RIGHT WAY.

But I digress.

So there I was, alone in my kitchen with a side of beef, and I felt silly making a big barbecue just for me, and I peppered and seasoned that cow and put it in a foil pan and stuck it under the broiler.


Because broilers? They are located in the Kitchen, which gives me hives. And broilers? They are powerful and maybe EVIL things, just waiting to catch shit on FIRE and if you just for even a little teeny minute go out on your patio to maybe have a glass of wine and talk on the phone, the broiler will CHAR and DESTROY everything in its path.



So, I don't want to talk about that either. Because you know I ended up having a wine the size of my head and a piece of pizza for dinner.

OK, I have to go now, off to the training lab, and ya'll I won't get to blogstalk anyone (again) or email (again) and all I will be able to do is pretend I'm not sitting there in the lab, still thinking of donuts, and trying to count stitches in my head.

But ya'll have a Happy Friday! And don't go near the broiler!

Posted by laurie at 7:50 AM

June 2, 2005

Many Significant Realizations

Nothing very interesting here, just what I could write up in five minutes while eating my lunch at my desk on a Thursday while hoping we'll have a fire drill or something that can get me off my chair and out of this building.

Fire drill. Please?

Significant Lunch-Time Realization #1: If my diet karma could talk it would say, "HAHA you want to eat healthy? Sure, go ahead! But every commercial on the teevee will be for cheesy nummy Pizza Hut from now on! I am Fate and I shall Tempt you!!!"

What I wanted to eat yesterday:

  • One Lil' Debbie snack cake

  • One bacon-bacon cheeseburger from Jack-in-the-Box
    with curly fries and a coke

  • Ooooh, Jack-in-the-Box? Oh man I could have
    an Oreo shake.

  • One time I had Oreo Cookie pie. mmmm. Pie.

  • My grandma made amazing pie.
    Chocolate pie. I could totally eat chocolate pie, a whole one, this very
    second even though I have not wanted pie in three years!! But today on
    a diet, I want to eat an entire chocolate pie!!

  • And I hate meringue.

  • Ooooh, but I love moon pies.

  • And Big Red.

  • And all chips. In fact, I will eat anything fried. I would
    even eat a Brussels Sprout if you fried it.

  • With ranch dressing on the side.

  • What was the casserole with the velveeta?
    I want that.

  • And ... uh, tacos.

What I actually ate yesterday:

1. Coffee (not food, but necessary for the Talking and Brain Functioning to begin).

2. Low-fat granola cereal, no milk, because apparently, I am still five years old and want to walk around eating cheerios out of a ziploc bag all day.

3. One big salad with all kinds of good stuff in it. I forget that I like salad, as long as it has something more exciting than lettuce in it. I had baby spinach mixed with baby greens and added chopped-up ham cold cuts, sun-dried tomatoes, slivered almonds and parmesean cheese. And it was good! And it wasn't fried!

4. Dinner wasn't really a stellar moment. A bowl of easy-mac and ONE glass of red wine. One LARGE glass. But I was tired and no one is perfect and work is trying to kill me with all the working and working and working I must do. (We're getting started on the Big Ginormous Project Of Summer, and the wine shall still flow all summer long, that I promise you.)


Significant Lunch-Time Realization #2: It's rewarding to use the Internets for the powers of GOOD instead of the powers of EVIL. Jennifer was so happy and cheered up by all the well wishes yesterday. I know Ethel will be appreciative, too, when she returns home to her normal place of lying on Jen's keyboard all day. Thank you all.


Significant Lunch-Time Realization #3: Dear G-D, I LOVE KNITTING.

[Did ya'll see how I put the hyphen in between the G and the D? I learned that from DDJ, who says it's a typically Jewish way of showing respect to G-D in writing. And I do respect the Almighty, my cussing and boozing and non-Jewishness aside, because every time I look at a blade of grass in my yard or a whisker on one of my cats I'm reminded of how there is Something Bigger Than Me -- Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, whatever you name it -- and also, I sort of think She's a woman, with unpredictable PMS and a really warped sense of humor. Don't ya'll think?]

So, I love the Knitting, and now I am finally (perhaps) making an amazing hat with actual ribbing and actual shaping and even though The Devil tried to make me cast on way too many stitches (as is The Devil's way), I stuck to The Math and only cast on 72 stitches. But you know I felt the lure of 89 stitches. Ya'll know how I am. Never trusting the math.

Traffic yesterday was heinous. So I cast on for this green hat while on the crosstown bus, worked up my first-ever ribbing, and had it all slipping and sliding over my brand-new Addi Turbos:


Significant (And Final) Lunch-Time Realization #4: Need More Hours, Also Need More Pi
I can't go to Stitch 'n Bitch tonight because I am being held prisoner here at this place they call "work" where there are "tasks" and also "big projects" and everyone needs it all done "rightnow" or "twominutesago." But it's cool. I have this zen-like, buddha-like thing going where I look at people and nod in an all-knowing fashion, very agreeable, and what I'm really thinking is, "Little Debbie Snack Cake. Mmmm. Snack Cake."

Also, I think the time may be upon us for more pi. My furballs need a new pi for staying well, and Jen's Ethel may need a kitty pi for getting well. Don't you agree?




Posted by laurie at 1:27 PM

June 1, 2005

This is the story of Ethel The Cat.

This is Ethel the Cat.


Jennifer, who ya'll know I love and adore, had to take Ethel into the kitty hospital this morning for an indefinite amount of time. Ethel has to get a kittycat IV and X-rays and tests, and then the doctors will hopefully know what's wrong. We have a great veterinary clinic -- Shannon and Karman and I all take our pets there, too -- and Jen, she's just so damn sad, feeling like she was a bad kitty mom, blaming herself as we all do even when there was nothing, nothing on this planet, we could have done differently.

There's a love we have for our pets that's so simple, so completely emotionally driven, it's one of the most rewarding relationships you can ever have. People who don't like animals scare me. The way a person treats an animal says a lot about their character. The love of a pet, the appreciation for a dog or a cat or a bird or a fish, the amazement that this little creature has a heart and a circulatory system and a brain and thoughts all its own ... it's just a miracle. A pure love. A respect for life and a little piece of happy that you just can't describe.

When I think of unconditional love, I think of my pets.

But our pets can't talk to us and tell us when they feel bad. Jen loves those little furballs, Fred and Ethel, and she's a great cat-mom. I know she's home right now, with one kitty in the hospital, not knowing what comes next, just blaming herself. Ya'll, I'd be doing the same thing. But the truth is: she has no fault in this. It's Ethel's liver. How could Jen have known that? Ethel didn't tell her. It's not her fault.

So, ya'll, go visit Jennifer's website and give her some comment love and karma and tell her how Ethel is the prettiest, strongest, most loved cat on the Internets today.

And she is. We love you, Ethel. Come home soon!

Posted by laurie at 12:54 PM

Hor-O-Scopes: June 2005

June. Astrology. I still haven't decided about Hor-O-Scopes and their place in knitting, crazy cat lady stuff, whining, wine, and the general poor grammar of my personal manifesto here. But I like doing hor-o-scopes for now and I'm so damn excited about Saturn leaving on July 16 I could just pee my pants. Saturn has tried to kick my ass, along with the collective asses of Sag and Gemini and Capricorns, too, and I really think I'm going to hold a little Bon Voyage & Thanks For All The Crap! party at my house come mid-July.

Not that I have any bitterness. Damn planet of hellfire and brimstone. Mumble mumble.

And, you know, don't let your babies grow up to be astrologers. Don't let 'em light candles and write their own stuff, let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 - Feb. 18)
Imagine you're a novel. Part romance, part mystery, part B-list horror. If you want to increase the number of steamy pages between your covers, you'll need to start making your own plotlines and conjure up some serious dialogue this summer. Start small, by picking out a love interest. Oh, wait. You're already one step ahead of me! June is the month to get your butt in the car for a little road trip so the novel of your life contains some travel and adventure, too.

PISCES (Feb. 19 - March 20)
Pisces esta en la casa. Yes, that's right, Pisces is in the house this month! And in the closet, the garage, the bathroom and the kitchen. Every time you turn around you'll see your humble abode as one big Trading Spaces Marathon. Rather than focusing on the imperfections of your home and getting bogged down in detail, show your annoying inner critic the door and change the locks while you're at it. If you loosen up the perfectionism a bit, you will free your artistic side -- or at least channel Bob Vila from time to time.

ARIES (March 21- April 19)
If you put up with anymore shit this month I'm seriously going to suggest you invest in a big pair of rubber boots and start calling yourself a pig farmer. What is it with people lately and their obsession with mud-slinging crapfests? Until your name is on the Presidential ballot, declare your life a rumor-free zone. If people want to take potshots at you, tell them to do it to your face or get a new hobby. Then take a well-deserved vacation mid-summer and to hell with 'em.

TAURUS (April 20 - May 20)
Have you ever heard of the literary term "the hole in the narrative?" It's the description of a piece of literature that has a missing piece -- the narrator or the main character or the plot itself is simply missing. And you have to fill it in. Your life for the past few months has had a hole in the narrative. Until now, you weren't sure what thread held all the pieces together, because it was the one element totally hidden from you. The bad news is that I don't know what's missing either. The good news is that you'll have no trouble finding it yourself by July 28, even though you may discover someone in your inner circle isn't quite the person your thought they were. More good news: Money money money. Money! Neptune is in your corner and your bank account will enjoy it!

GEMINI (May 21 - June 21)
The famous and rather ill-fated Southern writer Ambrose Bierce once said that beauty is "the power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband." Ya'll know all mysteriously dead Southern writers are telling the truth about beauty. That is a fact. Attraction could launch a thousand ships, stop a clock and at the same time drive a person mad. This has always fascinated me. Everyone within a ten-mile reach of a Gemini this month will get a taste of attraction, since you have the charm and beauty planets aligning in your favor. You'll also benefit from Saturn leaving my sign -- Cancer -- and you'll have more opportunity for throwing money at your beauty bag by mid-July.

CANCER (June 22 - July 22)
Dear Diary, I'm about tired of this Saturn shit. Saturn has been screwing up my life for almost two years now and I have had ENOUGH. I am so ready for my new boyfriend, Mars. Mars is coming to make sweet love to my house of success starting June 11. And Saturn? Yeah he's trying to stick around. Like the smell of old fish. But come hell or high water, Saturn will leave my house on July 16th and I am throwing a party, FAREWELL BASTARD SATURN!! As usual, us Cancers are looking forward to our birthdays, too, so we can make lists of all the things we need to be and do and have in the coming year. Diary, Birthday Resolutions are so much more powerful than New Year's Resolutions. Don't you agree?

LEO (July 23 - August 22)
Your forecast is actually quite simple, not only for the month of June but for the whole damn rest of the year -- stop spending so much time in your own head. Sing out loud, ask questions, say "Yes" when you mean YES and "No" when you mean NO. Work will be a heavy hitter in your life this month and maybe even a little stressful, so when you need to talk ... don't wait for the phone to ring. Instead, try this really ancient Chinese secret: pick up the phone yourself and make the call. Ask for what you need. All this self-analysis and soul-searching really boils down to one thing: We can't read your mind!! We're just a bunch of regular zodiac joes, and you have to be patient with us. Thanks! We really do appreciate it!

VIRGO (August 23 - Sept. 22)
Some people get really fixated on little things, like dust mites. Small, not able to be seen with the naked eye, but ever present and totally annoying. Sound familiar? Your fixations and anxiety are your choice -- don't while away your time and energy this month trying to eliminate a million tiny worries. Instead try this: Pick one big worry, and choose five minutes a day to consciously worry about it. Really concentrate. When your five minutes are up, let it go. (Well, hey, it's worth a try!) With two perfectly aligned full moons in the next six weeks, you're going to have more exciting offers than you can shake a stick at, all career- and job-related and all pretty good. Unless you treat them like dust mites and worry worry worry them to death.

LIBRA (Sept. 23 - Oct. 23)
If I had to associate you with a summer movie right now, we'd probably be showing a cross between National Lampoon's Vacation and Jaws 3 (in 3-D no less!) I'm not suggesting you'll be attacked by a shark driving a station wagon, I'm just saying that you'll have your fair share of travel and adventure before summer is out ... if you don't let your fear of mishaps and near-disasters keep you from getting out of the house. There will be some challenges to your plans that may lead to a slight June Gloom, but by mid-July you will be able to look back and laugh it all off (in 3-D, no less!)

SCORPIO (Oct. 24 - Nov. 21)
Count up your nickels and dimes, ya'll, because the mantra this month is "money." Or, rather, the total lack thereof. Don't even bother looking through that catalogue -- and put the mouse down right now! Bad eBay, bad! Relegate your credit cards to the underwear drawer for all of June or you'll be crying in your generic brand Cheerios come July. Cheer up, summer is one of the few times it's easy to be broke -- the great outdoors is calling, and it requires fewer clothes. Plus, Mars is moving on in and making you feel all healthy and energetic so the money crunch won't feel like a complete vise grip.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21)
You know that strategy you've developed for dealing with your life when it seems peculiarly murky and incomprehensible? The one where you lock yourself up in your room with the covers pulled up to your head and watch reruns of "Divorce Court" while groaning from time to time? I hate to be the one to tell you, but your plan won't work this month. The reason? Saturn. Saturn is finally, finally about to leave and you need to be alive and kicking to see it go! Crawl out of hiding, grab a notebook and a pen and plant yourself somewhere outdoors this month for serious contemplate-your-navel time. Don't miss the opportunity to soak in what you think you're missing. Saturn is leaving! By July 16th you won't even remember "Divorce Court." Really!

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19)
Any little change will make you feel slightly out-of-step this month, and that's a very, very good thing. All these little quirks that upset your daily routine will just illuminate a hidden gem of your Capricorn Personality To-Do List that you've either checked off or made serious strides on achieving. What I'm saying here is that you've changed a lot more than you give yourself credit for, and when Saturn leaves us (bye Saturn! Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out!) you'll be able to clearly take stock of where you are and where you need to go. More semi-good-news: Another full moon in Capricorn in July will finally wrap up that one nagging situation you just can't seem to control.

Posted by laurie at 12:31 PM