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September 29, 2005

BBQ in the Valley, ya'll!

Since Wednesday I've been taking a training seminar in Woodland Hills, which rocks because I haven't had to commute the million hours to downtown Los Angeles. Yay me! Only... it kind of sucks a little because OH YEAH, THE VALLEY IS ON FIRE.

fire-big.jpg


Since I was already in Woodland Hills, and since the wind appeared to be blowing west, I decided to drive up Topanga and get a view of the fire. I am crazy this way. Lots of folks have the desire to LEAVE imminent danger, I like to photograph it and also complain about how people seem to have no damn manners because HELLO, CANNOT THESE OTHER DRIVERS SEE I NEED TO PHOTOGRAPH WHILE I DRIVE?

They were maybe not so happy with me.

fire-driving.jpg

fire-midday-sun.jpg

fire-windshield.jpg


Interestingly enough, there wasn't really much traffic in the canyon. Maybe because of the scary dry brush, gusting Santa Ana winds, and crazy camera ladies?

fire-topanga1.jpg

fire-crazy-cameralady1.jpg

fire-crazy-cameralady2.jpg

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It started to get... HOT. Really hot. And dark. The wind shifted back toward the Valley and I got the hell out of dodge. Encino is about ten miles from the fire, so I stopped at the grocery store to stock up on the essentials. (I don't know why my first impulse was to stock up on wine when fire is RAPIDLY APPROACHING, but there you go. THIS IS WHAT I DO.) When I got back to my car ten minutes later, it was covered in ash. Everything was dark and smoky and COVERED IN ASH and I started to kind of... FREAK THE HELL OUT.


fire-ash-car.jpg


Then I went home, and ya'll... there is heavy smoke and ash in Encino, everywhere, it's ... scary. You can see the fire from my house.

fire-my-house.jpg

Isn't the roof of my house so cute? If you listen closely you can hear my house saying, "Holy shit! It's smoky out here! If only I were a trailer I could escape!"

Posted by laurie at 8:45 PM

September 28, 2005

Cats on my stuff.

For a month people have been sending me emails with a link to this site, Stuff On My Cat, and seriously, ya'll? Why do you immediately think of ME when you see the words "STUFF" and "CATS" in the same web address?

Oh, yeah.
Anyway. Moving along!

But really, even though there is occassionally stuff on my cats, there is more often than not a cat (or two) on my stuff. So I present to you ... some cats on my stuff. It's pretty exciting out here on the Internets today, no?


cats on my stuff

cats on my stuff

cats on my stuff

cats on my stuff

cats on my stuff

cats on my stuff

cats on my stuff


And there you have it... possibly the one photo essay that ensures I will never again have a date. Which is a lucky break, if you think about it, since my clothes are covered in cat hair and all my shoes are being used as kitty beds. Next stop: the secret life of a sock drawer, coming soon to an Internets near you! Live from Chez Spinster, where the hijinks just keep 'a comin'!

Posted by laurie at 8:31 AM

September 27, 2005

What are you looking at?

roy-casts-on.jpg

Posted by laurie at 2:56 PM

September 26, 2005

Three whole days with no work -- just science.

In the end, I got to take Friday off -- a vacation day!! -- without having to come down with food poisoning or get a knee aneurysm.

Honesty is always the best policy. It went something like this:

"Honestly, I am thisclose to moving to Canada and becoming an alpaca farmer. Also, I haven't slept in weeks AND I THINK ELVIS IS TALKING TO ME."

"I see."

"The good news is that I have no more clean business-appropriate clothes, so tomorrow I'm going to come in wearing an Elvis T-shirt and flip flops, and I might demand that everyone call me Priscilla and also, I sort of think I'll be TAKIN 'CARE OF BIDNESS, dontyouthinkso?"

"Right. Maybe you should take a day off!"

And so I did, and it was good.

For three days I did the following: shopped (bad), ate (bad), drank (good), watched TV (debatable), knitted (good, except the part where I had to rip out a bunch of rows on bootie #3, bad) and cleaned my house. I vacuumed up enough cat hair to make a new kitten, in fact there was enough hair to make a KITTENZILLA. I downloaded music, and checked my mail at the P.O. Box and I had SO MUCH MAIL, and I will take pictures and show ya'll all of this MAIL, the bounty of which has built up over about a five week period and I LOVE YA'LL, mail senders!

Since about the last week of July, I've been working insane 12- and 14-hour days and working weekends with no time to go shopping or do anything fun or check my mail or go anywhere outside The Cubicle of Despair. And I realize that I've been in this bubble, this frenzy, this zombie state of tiredness, but when I went out on Saturday to do some shopping I saw CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS. In the STORE. In SEPTEMBER. Did they pass some law while I was busy working? Was there some announcement that I missed? Did I not get the memo that they moved Christmas up a few months?

Ya'll. I'm not ready for Christmas. I'M NOT READY, OK? I have barely recovered from last year's Christmas. I AM NOT READY. I am just now sending out the Voodoo stuff I promised people back in APRIL. I can't do Christmas yet. MAKE IT STOP.

Please?

In other, more SCIENTIFIC news, I made some observations over the weekend, some feline reconnaissance studies, and the results are disturbing. Really. I mean... this is science. So you may be turned off, I'm just warning some of ya'll with more, you know, delicate and particular constitutions.

Scientific Study DuPurl, Case # 327765

The scene: My house

The place: My bathroom

The study concerns: The Pavlovian feline response to ME having the unbridled NERVE to shut the bathroom door.

The result: Scratch, scratch, scratchscratchscratch and also MEOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW. Did you hear me? I said MEOOOOWWW and scratch scratch. Scratchscratchscratch hate you scratch scratch let me in scratch MEOOOOOWWWW scratchscratchscratch .....

Duration: This will go on ... FOREVER.

Until you open the door.

And let the Sobakowa in the bathroom. And the Bob. And the Frankie and Roy and YES THANK YOU, I NEEDED YOUR HELP TO PEE PROPERLY.

And I am posting this information because one day you, too, may come to my house. And you may want to spend some private time alone in the bathroom. And you will be SADLY MISTAKEN if you think you can go into that tiny room and close the door and EXCLUDE the cats. Even if you're takin' care of bidness. Even if it's Christmas. Even if you have a knee aneurysm ... they do not care. They want IN IN IN THE ROOM WITH THE CLOSED DOOR.

And that, my friends, is a scientific FACT.

roy-puke.jpg


Posted by laurie at 7:38 AM

September 22, 2005

Well ... they're still LOST. And so am I.

In a few minutes, I'm going to reveal ACTUAL PLOT POINTS from last night's episode of LOST, and as I am deeply sensitive to those people who will send me EVIL HATE MAIL about revealing the plot, because these hate-mailers TIVOd it and did not watch it like EVERYONE ELSE on the planet, I will now provide them with time and plenty of warning to go away and come back later.

La la la. Cat pictures.


soba-fridge.jpg

bob-longarms.jpg

Now that they've gone (they = those crazy people who can delay gratification and watch TV at their leisure instead of being a slave to it like me), can someone please tell me why SOME GUY with a shag haircut and POOR TASTE IN MUSIC is living underground with a record player and industrial-modern furniture and a computer from like 1989 and he's INJECTING SOMETHING and has a blender and Kate, hi! Newsflash! When a creepy baldheaded guy offers to lower you down into a spooky dark tunnel? On an island? Where there are scary things happening? SAY NO THANK YOU.

Oh, and another tip: Shannon! When you're tired and hungry and lost on a big jungle island that contains polar bears and maybe ghosts? RESIST THE URGE to run out into said jungle at night, alone, looking for a dog who is smarter than you and WILL COME BACK eventually, because everyone knows the cardinal rule of TV is DO NOT KILL THE DOG.

And Walt? With the creepy voice? WHAT DID HE SAY ya'll? Tell me! Please for the love of all that is good and kind tell me what he said. Please?

And Sayid? You're doing a good job, man, you're still hot, and that's what's important.

And me? Totally addicted to this TV show, so much that last night the phone rang DURING LOST, no, I am not kidding and yes, I know I have Tivo, but the phone rang and I picked it up and said I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE BUT KATE IS ABOUT TO GO INTO THE HATCH CALLBACKLATER BYE!

P.S. My parents are going to read this and think their daughter has turned into one of those sad girls who dresses her cats up in costumes and thinks people on the teevee are real life friends, and these friends are EXCITING and it's totally normal to talk about them to STRANGERS.

P.P.S. But let me assure you, I would never dress my cats in costumes. Geez!

Posted by laurie at 7:07 AM

September 21, 2005

An Etiquette Lesson

Since I would never write on my website about my job, because that would be wrong and unethical, I thought I would write something about ... um. Someone else's job? Just from an etiquette perspective. Because what the world needs now is manners, good manners. It's the only thing that really matters.

Five Easy Pieces:

1.When someone at your workplace just spent their weekend plus 14 hours on Monday and another 14 on Tuesday busting their heiney on a project, and then you see said project, maybe it would be good to review Robert's Rules of Order PRIOR TO SENDING FEEDBACK.

For example:

Dear valued worker bee,
I really enjoyed your email telling me this project had been completed. However, I am now going to nitpick at things that will drive you insane. In conclusion, great sweater!
Love,
Person giving feedback

You know, a positive comment followed by a negative comment, concluded with a positive. Yes, I can thank sorority life for exactly two things: learning the proper way to throw up while wearing a toga, and a familiarity with Robert's Rules of Order.


2. Oh there's more. When someone requests a vacation day, because they are maybe about to LOSE IT with all the working and maybe they have started BEGGING God or whoever to please stop with the stupid hurricanes for a while and instead send us a little teetiny non-fatal earthquake so that work will be closed for a few days (and by the way, I know it's WRONG, and I know ya'll will blame all earthquakes on me, but I NEED A VACATION DAY) and anyway, when that request for one single day off has been approved, YOU CANNOT RESCIND IT. Not unless the worker bee in question is a CIA operative or something vital to world events.


3. When you walk up to someone's desk unannounced when they are obviously busy, VERY BUSY, and you walk up right behind them real quiet and sneakylike and maybe kind of SCARE THE SHIT OUT OF THEM, and then you laugh because you think this is funny? And then you get all defensive when the scare-ee gets MAD and tries to STAPLE YOUR HAND TO THE DESK? Yes. Well. Stop sneaking up on people. It's rude, and one day my aim will improve and you'll end up stapled to something.


4. Can we please please spread the word about the value of the spacer stall? I realize that you may like to be real close to those who potty at your place of work, but in a room of five empty stalls and one occupied stall, WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH would you choose the stall direcly next to the one occupied stall? Why? WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE, PEOPLE. Choose to use a spacer stall. Some of us have potty privacy issues. OK?

5. And while we're at it, let's bring back the courtesy flush. Because even though I have strategically placed myself five stalls from you, YOU STILL NEED TO COURTESY FLUSH.


That concludes today's brief, yet necessary, etiquette lesson. The world would be a better place if only everyone followed Robert's Rules of Order, washed their hands a lot, was aware of Public Potty Rules and made sure their toga sheet was not in the bushes prior to upchucking. All that ... and a vacation day.

That's what the world needs. Especially the vacation day.

Posted by laurie at 10:32 AM

September 19, 2005

Bob The Cat Vs. The Thing He Once Fell Into While Drinking Illicit Water

bob-flushmonster.jpg

Posted by laurie at 8:41 AM

September 17, 2005

My bootie is shaped all wrong.

Is it a plot? Do they deliberately make patterns complicated so that remedial knitters like myself WILL GET MAD AND WANT TO QUIT KNITTING thereby freeing up the good yarn for those of you who have the time, patience and perhaps know-how to de-code a pattern?

First, you go read this pattern. Then come back and tell me if you, being a normal human without an advanced degree in Applied Bootie Making & Pattern Decoding, would do as I did. Or don't tell me, because maybe I am the only dumbass in the room.

I started with the "To begin..." portion and then moved right into the "Next" portion.

BUT THAT IS WHERE THE TRICKERY LIES. I HATE YOU AND YOUR EVIL TOMFOOLERY, PATTERN. I HATE YOU.

Because look closely. See that "next" part? It says... Rows 11-18, knit the odd rows, purl the even rows. Like it's basically saying, "I'm giving you a helpful hint here, we're doing stockinette while shaping!" And then it goes right into the new rows, rows that do not start with #19, no, no, that would be easy. Sequential numbering is too easy for people! Must make it hard! So the pattern starts back at #1! Making you (me) assume we just start knitting the next numbered row.

BUT THAT IS A LIE! A TRICK!

Because this pattern wants you to hate yourself. Those row numbers are not correct. There are not just TWO portions to this bootie of despair. No. There are THREE PORTIONS.

And here's a hint: "Next" is not a good heading for what should be called "Step 2 of 3" or "The middle" or anything besides "NEXT..."

I would like to say here, on the record, that if you write patterns and you want only smart people to use them, put a disclaimer on it, won't you? Because dumb people like knitting too. And some of us knit on the bus, where we do not have the coffee and/or wine needed (depending on time of day) to read your poorly numbered rows and say, "Oh! What Secret Pattern Code Writer REALLY wants us to do is knit rows 11-18 in stockinette, and then rows 19-31 in stockinette with shaping, then rows 32-33 in knit fuzzy yarn, and then bind off. Even though all the rows are mis-numbered from the gitgo. Cool!"

No. Instead, the pattern writer uses crazy numbering and fancy tomfoolery to keep my bootie misshapen. And I have big bootie, people.

I know that this is happening because I am a Remedial Knitter, and I'm probably being punished because I once spit into the wind, and because of that time I said that thing about the girl with cameltoe. But is it too much to ask that knitting patterns are written out in normal words? Is it?

Honestly, what purpose does it serve to write EVERYTHING in mysteriously organized shorthand that has to be meticulously de-coded? And then the shorthand keeps changing! YF means yarn over! SKP means slip-stitch-pass-slipped-stitch-over, which other patterns abbreviate as PSSO. Ya'll, I can barely remember my own phone number. How can I be expected to remember 37 different ways of saying yarn over? How?

Advanced Knitters who know the Secret DaVinci Code of Knitting Patterns are thinking I'm just lazy.

YOU'RE RIGHT. I am LAZY. And TIRED. And life is so hard, why does a knitting pattern have to be hard, too? Are we knitting in code because spies are listening in on our pattern transmissions? Are we trying to make sure the commies can't knit up some Ugg booties? Are we curing cancer here? Can't we all just get along?

Well then.

Of course I had already finished and seamed said misshapen bootie before discovering my error. And of course I'm going to plod through and make two new booties using the de-coded pattern. And at the end of this I will have one lonely, squat Ugg bootie left. Maybe I'll give it away online. Free! One bootie! For your amusement!

Because Lord knows, if there's a good place to get free bootie, it's the internets.

Posted by laurie at 10:53 AM

September 16, 2005

Shake your bootie.

Candi Jensen was on "Knitty Gritty" last season demonstrating how to make the CUTEST DAMN BABY ITEMS EVER... hand-knitted suede Ugg booties.

[ click here for the pattern ]

I know that ya'll hate Uggs and think they are the ugliest thing since shoulder pads. But I am here to tell you, I live in the Valley and I wear my Uggs (which is shorthand for "UGliest shoe on God's green earth") loud and proud. And I am not alone. The weather has been surprisingly cold here lately -- yesterday it only got up to about 80 degrees downtown! -- and this morning it was even OVERCAST (gasp! how on earth with the little Los Angelenos survive? will there be price-gouging on Starbucks and fizz-control hair gel? Will women in spaghetti-strap tank tops have to wrap 8-foot long skinny scarves around their necks? Will the world stop spinning on its axis?) but anyway, the point is that Ugg boots have been spotted already on the streets of Los Angeles.

It's the age-old question: which comes first -- the fall weather or the Ugg boots? Do people get so desperate to wear their Uggs and skinny scarves that they collectively bring on the Fall weather? Or does Fall bring out the Uggs?

We may never know the answer. It's a chicken-and-egg debate, really, best left to the great minds of paradoxical philosophy.

Me? I'm just over here contemplating your bootie. I've been, in fact, feeling on your bootie. Since that show aired, I have been dying for someone around me to get knocked up so I could make them, and finally (finally!) a girl at work fell into the family way and I started tapping that bootie.

Except ... well, I have READ and CAREFULLY FOLLOWED the pattern. And I really have enjoyed making my first bootie call. But so far my bootie looks REALLY different than the picture on the DIY website. It looks, maybe ... not so much like something that would hold a foot at all.

The Knitty Gritty version:

diy-ugg-booties.gif


The Girl Who Says Porn Inappropriately Version:

my-ugg-booties.jpg

Posted by laurie at 9:27 AM

September 15, 2005

Make it stop.

OH God.

I just gave THE WORST PRESENTATION EVER IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND. I was so nervous, I talked too fast, and my voice was all shaky,and all I could think of was "Whatever you do, don't say PORN, don't say porn, don't say porn, DONTSAYPORN!!!!"

My presentation was worse than bad. It was... painful. I was one of those horrible train-wreck public speakers that you can't take your eyes off because THEY SUCK SO BAD. You're afraid if you look away for one second, you'll miss the part where they EAT THEIR OWN TONGUE.

Of course, the upside is that I'll never have to present to a room of high-level executives again.

Because yes, friends, I said it.

PORN.

pornpornpornpornporn.

Arggghhhhh.
Send wine.

Posted by laurie at 1:48 PM

September 14, 2005

WWLGD?

About six months ago, a friend (who shall remain unnamed) (because this is kind of an embarrassing story) called me up with a dilemma about her love life. But I was well and good into my divorce and in no position to give advice, so I decided we should do the next best thing.

Improvise.

And so I asked her: When faced with this exact same dilemma, What Would Lorelai Gilmore Do?

Granted, living your life based upon the witticism and self-confidence of a fictional TV character may not seem like a great idea, but IT WAS THE BEST I COULD DO AT THE TIME. And it worked well enough. After all, with my history, who'd take relationship advice from me?

From the time I was allowed to date until the time I got married, I spent approximately three hours single. I was one of those girls who had a boyfriend or a massive all-encompassing boy crush that dwarfed the sun AT ALL TIMES. Getting married was blah blah blah THE NADIR OF MY EXISTENCE.

Except that ... it wasn't, really. We had some good times, we had some bad times, and then it ended. Kind of abruptly. During the past year, I have traveled through the following phases of divorce:

August - October, 2004: Please don't go; Please put me out of my misery; Please pass the wine and cheetos; I hate you.

November 2004 - January 2005: Please make the holidays go away; Please come back; Please drop dead; Please pass the wine and oreos; I hate everyone.

February - March 2005: Please pass the wine and yarn; Please shut up; Please go screw yourself; Wow it really feels good to hang up on your sorry ass!

April - May 2005: There is a yarn shop in Burbank! And one in Encino! And two on Ventura! Please pass the circular needles; Please hand me that wine glass; Please help me find a lawyer; HA HA YOU HAVE A GOATEE.

June 2005: Birhday whining interlude. Followed by "Divorce Court: A Tragedy."

July - August 2005: Work is hard, wine is good, yarn is better. Scant free time leads to yearning for hermit-like solitude. Hard-earned solitude is spent pondering navel. Navel is happy.

And now it's September, exactly one year since Mr. X left me and the cats forever, and ... color me shitshocked, but I'm pretty happy! True, I can't fit into any of my cute jeans and my job is trying to possibly kill me to death, and I NEED A VACATION DAY, but overall I whine less and ... I'm pretty happy.

Me! Happy! -ish!

Last night, however, my best friend TeeVee told me that Lorelai is getting married. And even though me and Lorelai are kind of moving in different directions and all, we're still cool. Because for the first time in my entire life I am perfectly happy being alone. While she's off proposing to Luke, I'm over here discovering that I don't want a boyfriend. At all.

I haven't turned burning-bed-man-hater on everyone, but this is the only time in the past seventeen years I have been completely FREE to OD on estrogen. I can do whatever I want, with no concern about whether it makes me seem cute to some guy. I don't have to fake rapt attention to any conversation pertaining to computer games, sports, motorcycles, sports, supermodels with no cellulite, cars, or sports. My opinions are all mine. I don't do anyone else's dirty dishes or dirty laundry. I can be 100% totally myself without worrying if he'll still like me, or think I'm pretty.

It's the most liberating thing that has ever happened to me.

And aside from my obvious TV-induced psychosis, in which I am giving advice based upon fictional television characters, I think Lorelai Gilmore would be proud. Especially if she were real. Which of course she's not.

Mostly.

laurie-lorelai.jpg

Posted by laurie at 9:57 AM

September 13, 2005

SWF not LFL w/ FUBARs

From the time I was allowed to date until the time I got married, I had spent approximately three hours single. I was always one of those girls who had a boyfriend or who had a massive all-encompassing boy crush that dwarfed the sun. Marriage was blah blah blah THE NADIR OF MY EXISTENCE.

Except that ... it wasn't, really. We had some good times, we had some bad times, but overall it wasn't the end-all-be-all defining element in my life. We all know this because the marriage ENDED and yet I am still BREATHING.

So far I have traveled through the following phases of divorce:

August - October, 2004: Please don't go; Please put me out of my misery; Please pass the wine and cheetos; I hate you.

November 2004 - January 2005: Please make the holidays go away; Please come back; Please drop dead; Please pass the wine and oreos; I hate everyone.

February - March 2005: Please pass the wine and yarn; Please shut up; Please go screw yourself; Wow it really feels good to hang up on your sorry ass!

April - May 2005: There is a yarn shop in Burbank! And one in Encino! And two on Ventura! Please pass the circular needles; Please hand me that wine glass; Please help me find a lawyer; HA HA YOU HAVE A GOATEE.

June 2005: Birhday whining interlude. Followed by "Divorce Court: A Tragedy."

July - August 2005: Work is hard, wine is good, yarn is better. Scant free time leads to yearning for hermit-like solitude. Hard-earned solitude is spent pondering navel. Navel is happy.

And now it's September, exactly one year since Mr. X left me and the cats forever, and ... color me shitshocked, but I'm pretty happy! True, I can't fit into any of my cute jeans and my job is trying to possibly kill me to death, and I NEED A VACATION DAY, but overall I whine less and ... I'm pretty happy.

Me! Happy! -ish!


I don't have any desire to go man up and find a boyfriend. I used to pretend to be somewhat interested in sports.


... DRUMROLL HERE: I am not looking for love anywhere but yarn shops.

I haven't turned all burning bed on everyone, and I'm not a man-hater. I just like being alone right now. I like figuring this part out. I'm not even remotely interested in a relationship ... for the first time in 17 years I am FREEEEEEEEE. Feels good. Don't plan on ruining it.

Posted by laurie at 12:31 PM

When in doubt, post a cat picture.

bob-water-issues.jpg

Posted by laurie at 8:47 AM

September 12, 2005

Breaking news! The power is back on! Looting limited to the office supply cabinet!

Yes, you have heard by now... the power went off in Los Angeles. Normal cities would probably manage to live without power for many, many hours, but here in Los Angeles we like to panic immediately and cause big traffic gridlock in intersections, all the while honking and gesturing and talking on our cell phones.

As soon as the power went out, the backup generators in my building kicked on. A security guard used the intercom to FREAK US ALL OUT, because dude sounded FRANTIC, and frankly up until then none of realized the power was out anyway. I was... uh, you know, working. And maybe researching Rowan Summer Tweed patterns. Maybe. My computer never even flickered.

But after Frantic Security Guard let us know THE POWER IS OUT and WE'RE ON BACKUP and STAY CALM STAY IN YOUR SEAT DO NOT PANIC, I kind of panicked, so I took my opportunity to use backup power and elevatored my way out of the building.

In under five minutes, people were stranded in the middle of intersections, police sirens were blaring, fire trucks were all over the place, and most importantly of all, THERE WAS AN IN-N-OUT TRUCK ACROSS THE STREET!!! I have never been so happy to see gridlock, because I crossed Flower Street in the middle of traffic, without having to wait for any stupid pedestrian signals, and since people were busy being panicky and worried about terrorism, I was able to get a cheeseburger and coke in under five minutes!!

And ya'll know you need your protein and caffeine to be able to survive terrorism/power grid failure/gridlock.

Just thought you might like this breaking news right from the front lines of the action. No cellphones were harmed. One cheeseburger is resting in peace. The power appears to be back on. Traffic is still bad. Moths still roam the Valley looking for victims. All is well.

Posted by laurie at 2:22 PM

No need for a guard dog here at Chez Wino.

When you live in a completely unnatural place like Los Angeles, you tend to forget that nature is all around us and even though we do our best to get rid of it, it is just waiting for its chance to sneak up on a person and EAT YOUR EYES. And then, EAT YOUR STASH.

And I know people who claim to like camping and hiking and other invigorating pursuits that take place outside the car, but I do not trust nature (it is trying to kill me) and frankly, I find that if I sit on my patio long enough with a glass of wine, nature will come crawling to me, or flying to me, and it will SCARE ME HALF TO DEATH, and yet I will be compelled to photograph it. I brave the nature, pretending I am working for National Geographic and my images will be the definitive work, the exposé, on the wildlife of the Encino patio region. And of course I can only do this while I am on the phone with Jennifer, because one can never EVER venture into nature alone, or dingos will eat your baby.

Me: OH MY GOD IT'S ... BIGGER THAN MY HEAD

Jen: What is?

Me: I don't know... it's ... a moth? A beast? Jeff Goldblum finally fully morphed into The Fly?

Jen: Where is it?

Me: In the rafters of the patio, oh oh oh I have GOT TO TAKE ITS PICTURE.

Jen: Are you outside with it?

Me: ... yes?

Jen: This can't be good.

mothbeast

mothbeast

mothbeast

mothbeast


This is what I get for hoarding all the Up Country. Someone must have circulated a memo to nature, detailing the specifics of one very large, very tasty stash of pure 100% wool. Now there are huge, yarnivorous moths with eerie eyes hanging out on my patio, trying to chew their way indoors. Crazy moth beasts! In the wild badlands of Encino!!

And ya'll wonder why I refuse to go camping.

Posted by laurie at 9:06 AM

September 9, 2005

Can someone call a doctor? I think I caught a nasty case of bad intarsia.

The clapotis bug was going around for a while, but it seems I have caught a case of intarsia. Bad intarsia. My Red Heart hurts from all the bad intarsia.

But first -- can I please PLEASE beg someone out there to make up a book of knitting all done in swatch format? I know some folks like to make a whole sweater from the gitgo, but I need swatches. A swatch is like ... having a TV crush. You don't have to commit a lot of time, but it's entertaining. You can love it episodically, you can be done with it in under a half hour, you can learn something new, and then you can move on.

I love me a swatch. Maybe this is because I have Adult Deficit Disorder Knitting Syndrome. I do not know. So if you could just PLEASE write a book with every stitch technique written up in swatch patterns, I would love you and feed you cake. OK?


me-firstknits.jpg


I bought this book because all the sections (knit, purl, work with color) begin with swatches for practicing. Only ... the authors must have been tired of writing when they made it to the colorwork section.

The color section is kind of like ... "So, just add color, here's a chart, buh bye!"


badintarsia-1.jpg


Yet I started knitting the diamond intarsia pattern anyway. You knit 6 rows in stockinette and then when you get to the design, the pattern offers this stellar piece of instruction:

"Work chart in the intarsia method."

THANKS.

Care to... uh, you know. ELABORATE? Please?

But no, they do not care to share the secrets of intarsia with you. They don't tell you if you need to cut the yarn or make bobbins or anything from the main color, and ya'll I need details, I need really remedial details, OK? I need the kind of details a child -- a very SLOW child -- could understand.

So I wasn't sure what to do with the main color, and YES, YES I DO WANT TO WORK THE CHART IN INTARSIA METHOD, but someone please tell me what the method is? Just a hint? Pretty please?

On the facing page, the authors detail the "stranding" or Fair Isle method of colorwork, not to be confused with intarsia, so after some pondering I figure out that intarsia means "don't strand across the back." Instead, do intarsia IN THE INTARSIA METHOD. Which is still... a mystery. Like Stonehenge.

Do I use cut the main thread and re-attach on the other side? Weave the ends under the contrast color? HELP ME, CREATORS OF STONEHENGE. I want to know your mysterious ways. Send your gnomes... and please, send some decent instructions....

Time passed.

No gnomes appeared.

I decided to weave the not-in-use yarn under the in-use yarn, like I do when want to lock in the yarn tails of any project. But this created a denser intarsia design (since the white yarn was being caught under each pink stitch, on the wrong side of the work.)

badintarsia-2.jpg

Also, I don't think you're supposed to do it that way.

Also? PAIN IN THE ASS WHEN PURLING.

So I decided to stop that madness, and drop the white yarn when not in use. Only ... when I needed it again, it was waaaaaay the hell over on the other side of the design. Too many stitches away for stranding. Which apparently you aren't supposed to do anyway.

badintarsia-3.jpg

So I cut it, YES I CUT THE YARN ... but then you're working with 37 million yarn tails, and is this even close to being right? How do you keep your tension even when adding new yarn every few stitches?

badintarsia-4.jpg


Eventually I finished my swatch, my first piece of... maybe intarsia. Maybe not. I do not know because the book refused to tell me. IT IS STILL A MYSTERY.

Just like Stonehenge.

Posted by laurie at 8:54 AM

September 8, 2005

A day in which drunk dialing was finally harnessed for the power of GOOD, instead of EVIL.

Mark the day, ya'll, a day which shall live forever in infamy, a day in which finally I made a fool of myself AND helped ease suffering at the same time. And also caused suffering, a little, but only on the road to greater EASING of suffering.

And that day was ... day before yesterday.

It is my steadfast opinion that the true root of this issue lies in the "dialing" and not the "drunk" portion. This theorom of mine has been proven time and time again, including (but not limited to) the following research scenarios:


  • One Kappa Alpha who shall never be named
  • One adjunct History professor
  • "Tell her she had cameltoe in those green pants!"
  • Birthdays and ex-husbands
  • The time I tried to join the Jaycees

But then Oprah intervened. No, seriously. Oprah really does change people's lives. It starts with the right bra, ya'll, and then everything falls into place.

See, I've been watching news obsessively and now I have trouble sleeping, even more than usual. I close my eyes and I see every single face from the TV, every inch of water and I can't breathe. So I thought I should start watching better TV before bedtime, and maybe up the dosage of wine so I would have a little sleep so that the thing that happened at work on Tuesday* wouldn't happen ever again.

[ * someone may have accidentally shown up to work without the following: ID badge, keys to desk, cellphone, matching socks, sense of humor, bagless under-eye area, etc.]

Right. So ... Oprah. Now, I Tivo Oprah (shutup yes I do) and so I went to watch me some "How not to get wrinkles!" kind of TV, but it turns out this was the first non-rerun Oprah show in months, and she was down south with Nate and Jamie Foxx and Dr. Mehmet Oz, too, who I just adore.

And there was a lot of wine and a lot of crying, and then I drunk-dialed Jennifer, and cried to her, because the guy who wouldn't leave his dog? OH MY GOD. And the little boy who rescued his T-ball trophies, so someone would know he'd once been a somebody? HYSTERICS DESCENDED. And then I vowed to watch something less upsetting so I could get some sleep, but of course by then all I could think of was the guy and the dog and the little boy with his trophies and then there was some drunk donating, in which I cried on the phone and talked about the Oprah show, and (in a really helpful move) also made the nice lady on the other end of the phone cry. Me = really fucking helpful. Sorry phone lady!

Oh, and yesterday on the way home from work, I remembered why I don't sleep on the bus. Even if I am REALY REALLY TIRED. You just never can tell where your head will loll. Or who will be there to capture the lolling forever on camera.

sleepyheads-bus.jpg

Then I got home and noticed that, coincidentally enough, there were two guys falling asleep right in my very own home and one of them had already lolled right onto the other:

sleepyheads-sofa2.jpg


And if ya'll get liquored up tonight and need to drunk-dial-donate money, call the Humane Society for a good time ... 1-888-259-5431. And for God's sake be carefull where your head lolls!

Posted by laurie at 10:28 AM

September 7, 2005

Let them eat bacon.

Roy The Cat


Roy The Cat


Roy The Cat


Roy The Cat


Roy The Cat

Posted by laurie at 9:24 AM

September 6, 2005

Hor-O-Scopes: September, 2005

Hi ya'll! Astrology out of thin air!

So, Jupiter and Pluto are hanging out and having a little planet party on the 17th, and that's right before the full moon, see? And ya'll know how planets can be. Only these guys are like... the party planets. So, some stuff will really suck this month, but the planets will hold a press conference to say it's all getting better and then Uranus or someone will get a DUI and before long, you've got FoxNews trying to tell you that DUIs are good for the economy.

Whatever! The point is, September is here. Labor Day is gone. Whites are safely stored away for another year. Planets are hooking up. Hilarity ensues. Etc. etc.


AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 - Feb. 18)
Back in the old days, during ceremonial precessions people of very high rank were mounted upon horses, presumably to let people know they were the poop. Hence the birth of the delightfully snotty term "up on your high horse." The interesting thing about people who are all superior and arrogant is that they sit on the toilet just like everyone else. My father says it a bit more delicately.. "They take their pants off one leg at a time just like you and me." Trust my dad, he knows what he's talking about. The point? Don't allow someone to intimidate you just because they're way up high in the parade. You have the power here -- you can decide whether or not you'll be wooed by their apparent importance or whether you'll choose to see your own greatness in context. And if that doesn't help you assuage your feelings of intimidation, remember what I said about the toilet.


PISCES (Feb. 19 - March 20)
John Morton defined a prodigy as a "child who plays the piano when he ought to be in bed." Surely, he was speaking of the prodigal nature of Pisces, creative and driven, passionate and prone to insomnia. Of course he said nothing about that habit you have of constantly changing streams like a little fishy with ADD, never being able to decide which passion it is that you want to pursue. And he cleverly left out the part where you take on three or four or five different passions at once until you're so burned out you can do nothing but stare aimlessly into the walls wondering why nothing ever gets accomplished. But that's ok. You're a prodigy. Now get some sleep.



ARIES (March 21- April 19)
Remember the old "I'm going on a camping trip..." word game? It goes something like this: I'm going on a camping trip, and I'm bringing Aries, bravado, candor, dogma, effigy, fighting and gossip. But I'm also bringing along hanky-panky, imagination, a journal, know-how, love and magic. Some camping trip, eh? Round out the list with your own campside necessities.... you have a little bit of everything in your bag, Aries, and often it's simply a matter of choosing which parts of yourself you're happy taking along for the trip.


TAURUS (April 20 - May 20)
I have a very good friend that once failed her first drug test. She toked the merry weed on graduation night, not realizing that the job market for new liberal arts grads was humiliatingly dim, and she might be forced to apply for a job at State Farm Insurance. Her parents pressured her to fill out an application at the local insurance agency, and a life of secretary spread and 15-minute coffee breaks seemed inevitable. But she failed the required drug test. FAILED. After the humiliation simmered down, she packed her bags and took a writing job in a town 300 miles away. It altered forever the course of her personal history, and she is now a writer and successful editor. Moral of the story: even when you pee in a cup and fail, your life can change for the better.


GEMINI (May 21 - June 21)
Like sands from the hourglass, these are the maddening days of our lives. It's the whole white-after-Labor-Day paradox (what? You didn't know there was a paradox? For shame!) I can't go into depth on the paradox here, since that needs wine and ya'll! It's not even 9 a.m.! But let's just say you're feeling fresh as a daisy one day and tired like a faded head of lettuce the next. This is completely understandable in a month that is usually hotter than a witch's tittie, and yet, hello! You can't wear white! The good news: your daisy days will far outweigh the wilted lettuce days this September. Just please put away the white handbags and shoes. For shame!


CANCER (June 22 - July 22)
Little crabs walk side to side, when they get scared they scoot and hide. With their shells soft underneath, crabs are sweet and good to eat. Beware of sharks and big bad bears, and scary flights of run-down stairs. I like to rhyme with little Cancers, but all they want are some straight answers. Here's a hint, you fellow crabs.... don't mix your stripes with your plaids. Eat your fruits and grains and greens and don't get mad, just get mean. Toughen up that little shell and sometimes say "What the hell..." Take a chance, a risk, a wager and start living now instead of later. My last advice for you to take is to give yourself a worry-break. Oh-- and I promise I'm all through with silly, stinky rhymes for you. Heh. No, really, I am! (Green eggs and ham.) Whoops.


LEO (July 23 - August 22)
Imagine your house is your own personal game show. When everyone seems defiantly challenging you to fail, you have choices: Behind door number one is pure despondency -- you can fail miserably by not even trying. Hiding behind door number two is your sneaky sense of fear and self doubt -- you half-heartedly move forward expecting to fail, but you blame it on everyone else and are secretly satisfied that you gave 'em what they wanted. OR! Knock knock on door number three ... where you decide once and for all (again) to ignore those who don't have your best interest at heart. You know who I'm talking about, and it's time to show them door number four -- the one that leads out of your life. And make sure you tell them not to let the door hit 'em on the ass on the way out.


VIRGO (August 23 - Sept. 22)
There are some thrills that seem particularly death defying. Like, for instance, riding the giant old roller coaster which sits on the state line between California and Nevada. The rickety ride is enormous, with loops and twists and turns and plunges. You really feel like you're having the thrill of a lifetime by riding that old rollercoaster -- and, in fact, it's so poorly maintained, you suspect you are actually taking your life into your own hands when you ride it. Your thrills for the next few weeks will be marked with this same sense of endorphin gratification -- enjoy it! The ups and downs this month will be a welcome change from the cavernous pit you've been in. It's bumpy, but a wild ride!


LIBRA (Sept. 23 - Oct. 23)
Ever been so lost you had to call the operator just to get a 911 on your location? Ah, then you'll be well prepared for this fall. You're about to embark on a three month cycle of emotional binge and purge, alternately craving attention and hating everyone in sight. While I'm sure there is an astrological term for this cycle, I think I'll call it PMS-on-acid. I'd give you some tips on how to handle this malady, but by now you're already tired of me and I'm getting on your nerves. Now you feel kinda bad about it. But that annoys you too. See what I mean?



SCORPIO (Oct. 24 - Nov. 21)
Some guy out in Nebraska had a dream. He looked out upon the cornfields and prairies of Middle America and thought, "This would be the perfect place to build a replica of Stonehenge using CARS instead of ROCKS!" And so he did. He called it CARHENGE, and you can visit it just outside Alliance, Nebraska. I smell a Scorpio here, ya'll. You Scorps are dreamers, but your real talent is being able to make a buck off it. I don't expect you to go off and build a replica of Easter Island using Coke cans and marbles, but I do see a few months ahead of creativity and -- yes -- money. To get your hands on the green stuff make sure you don't keep your ideas all to yourself, and you'll be rolling in the dough, Scorpio.



SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21)
This is your captain speaking. Get your passport, buy your tickets and hold on tight to your Pepto-Bismol, ya'll are in for a trip down memory lane when someone from your past makes an unexpected visit to your present. With summer over and winter looming ahead of you, it would be easy to fall back into your old ways. Keep your eyes on the road and remind yourself that this is merely a detour -- perhaps a scenic drive -- on the way to your final destination. If all else fails, look at where you've been... you know you don't want to go backwards, now, do you? (In fact, this is good advice for Cancers, too, but I was busy Busta Rhymin' up there. Ah well.)

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19)
If the Olympics had a category for Zodiac superstars, I have no doubt you'd win the gold medal for Long-Distance Courage. You might even grab the silver medal for the 300-meter Loyalty Dash, edged out of the gold medal only by a tenacious Cancerian or a fiery Scorpio. One of your greatest strengths is your commitment to the finish line. But when it comes to changing courses during the downhill events or cutting corners on the balance beam you need a little practice. Keep in mind that if you want to reach your dreams, you have to be flexible enough to jump for them and willing to make some changes in your dismount.


Posted by laurie at 9:37 AM

September 5, 2005

Gangs of gun-toting women ... coming soon to a city near you!

Just a few things real quicklike on today, a Monday, possibly my first day not at work in weeks, and also ... I am going to really, finally Do It.

(It = laundry.)

Up 'til now I have been using the paleolithic method of laundry, where the heat and pressure from the top of the pile cleans the clothes at the bottom of the pile. No diamonds emerged, but the socks did band together and try to stage an insurrection.

Scary times here at Mount St. Washmore.

Then yesterday I broke hermitdom for a meeting of the Forces That Be -- Shannon, Karman and Jennifer came over to watch obsessive news coverage of the situation down south, drink beer in the middle of the day and formulate a disaster plan of our own.

Now, ya'll know that I'm a fan of disaster preparation (I have an earthquake kit of really startling proportions) and I have all these far-fetched plans about how to get me and the cats out of this city in a caravan of crazy cat ladies and fellow knitters should something bad go down.

But when the New Orleans situation became dangerous, and those folks down in three states were left without food or water or protection for five days, I started to think what would happen... what would really happen if some big catastrophe shook the Los Angeles area, which is pretty much teetering on lawlessness even on a good day.

Anyway, you can kind of see where this is going, with me and Shannon being the girliest of girly girls, and also possibly OCD and CRAZY, so here we are talking about owning GUNS and how we will be just like Brenda Lee Johnson from The Closer (I LOVE THAT SHOW, SHE TALKS JUST LIKE I DO) or that movie with Drew Barrymore where she plays the outlaw/hooker/cowgirl and none of us could remember if that movie had a happy ending, but we are sure it probably did.

And the irony is that here we have two lesbians, one southern fried divorcee and one Northern-Cali law student (who is opposed to the gun ownership issue, but agreed to take a gun safety class with us just in case) and we're going to be toting guns and forming a ... a gang, a militia of sorts, to protect our:

1. Cats
Which are NUMEROUS, since Shannon and Karman have 4 cats, I have 4 cats, and Jen has 2 cats. No math needed here. Us = one big herd of felines.

2. Yarn
NO PATONS UP COUNTRY WILL BE HARMED. BACK AWAY FROM THE YARN OR I WILL SHOOT.

3. Wine
See point #2, substitute "pinot noir" for "patons up country."

4. Dignity
Listen, no one is coming near this cookie without buying me a nice dinner and probably bringing me flowers. So I'll be damned if you're getting some just because we're having a natural disaster. BACK AWAY FROM THE COOCHIE OR SUFFER OUR WRATH.

So! Recap: If there's ever a disaster in Los Angeles, me and the girls will be holing up here at Chez Uterus with 10 cats, all the wine and water and chocolate one can store, and wearing our guns in hand-knitted holsters (of course mine will be felted as it is made of 100% wool Patons Up Country from my massive Yarn Survival Kit). We're still having an ongoing debate about whether or not cigs can go in the Disaster Readiness Supply Kit. But we will be armed, and dangerous, and willing to exercise our right to the second amendment and if ya'll don't believe us, we have a girl soon-to-be-lawyer here to INFORM YOUR ASS.

Because we! are prepared!

And maybe just a tee tiny bit CRAZY.

P.S. Also, when Did Anderson Cooper become SO HOT?

Posted by laurie at 1:44 PM

September 1, 2005

State of Affairs; Chez Spinster Turns One Year Old

All the tragedy on the news, all the work, all the dirty laundry, the need for astrology, all of it. Eclipsed the anniversary.

Yes! Anniversary! Of sorts.

September 1 was the one year mark since you-know-who packed up and hauled ass out. Left me and the cats wondering. he left, in fact, and did not call me or make any contact for a week, while I was alone for the first time in a decade and during the same weekend my parents weathered out one of four hurricanes that hit them last season. It was for the best really that he was such an ass right up front, because it spared me having any sweet feelings left for him. He moved out on a Thursday and by Saturday at noon I knew -- knew he'd never be back in my life. Like a lot of people, you can shit on me to an extent... but if you show a blatant disregard for my family I WILL CUT YOU.

I mean, i may cry first, but I WILL CUT YOU.

All this tragedy in the news totally focused me. Ya'll, these cats and my family and my friends and my own two feet are here with me, fuck all those who leave us. My Uncle Truman is a Republican, but I love him all the same.

Posted by laurie at 10:15 PM

Ain't no funny here.

katrina-gas.jpg

Ya'll know it's a bad sign when you're stopping in to get gas and the price is rising before your very eyes. In the ten minutes I was at this filling station, gas went up thirty cents.

But whatever! I take the bus, I'm dry and got plenty of food and wine, and I hugged my cats all night (even though Bob is at that age where he's embarrassed of his mom) (ya'll know).

Listen, I've tried to keep it funny and light for the past few days, slipping in a little reference here and there to the news, but I'm all out of funny. I've got desperate frustration in my bones. All the hours at my job seem pointless, i.e. "I'm making another logo for blah blah blah ... WHO CARES and WHY AM I HERE?"

AND I STILL HAVE NOT DONE LAUNDRY.

It was like this after 9/11, too, I wanted to quit my job and run off and join the Red Cross or volunteer for FEMA or the humane society. (By the way, my laundry has nothing to do with disasters, unless you consider all of it being DIRTY and possibly SMELLY a disaster) (which I do not) but anyway, all I can think of is how I want to wear khaki and save people! It's a restless, awful feeling like this is my country, dammit and I need to help out my people. Add that to my whole Southern thing, and right now I am a terrible mess. Terrible.

I don't know where Pete is, I know he stayed and weathered out the storm in his New Orleans home, south of the river. Stephanie is unsure if her house is gone, if her job is gone, but she's safe in Dallas with her family and she and her daughter are OK... but what? No job? No livelihood? No house? No ... anything? For months? How does one cope with nothingness for weeks and months? And where the hell is Peter?

I have called my parents every night, essentially the same phone call: Ya'll PROMISE ME you will evacuate next time one of these things comes, PROMISE ME. They know I will pack up these four cats and drive down to Florida and drag them out myself. The sheer humiliation of having their crazy, divorced, hung-over-and-covered-in-cat-hair daughter drag them out of the state may be enough to keep them on their toes, but I find it effective to threaten them all the same.

My whole childhood is wrapped up in that part of the country, I spent my 19th birthday in Biloxi with my folks, and now the hotel we stayed at is a pile of bricks. Not a stick standing. By the way, you newscasters: IT IS PRONOUNCED buh-LUCKS-see. Not 'buh-LOCK-see.' I'm just sayin' is all.

So! Anyway! Enough of the pronounciation lesson. I know it's tough times everywhere, what with gas reaching forty dollars a gallon and all, but if you can give just five dollars, and if 100 people give that five dollars ... well, I may not know math, but we're on our way to helping out a family, or a knitter who lost her house, a grandma who lost everything, or a kitten with no mom or dad, or a puppy all alone and shivering with no Alpo and no place to sleep.

Just five dollars.

It may not buy you a gallon of gas, but it could buy something else for folks who got nothing left.


American Red Cross
I may run off and join these folks any day now, so be sure to give a dollar if you can.


North Shore Animal League of America
Read here about their mission to rescue dogs and cats from flooded shelters in Alabama. Donate money here.


Network for Good
A wide variety of links to all different charities, from Petsmart's charity to the United Way, to the Mennonite Disaster Services. Pets and the Amish, all in one place! All kinds of things there you can donate five dollars to!

Please donate!


Please donate!


Please donate!


Please donate!


Please donate!


Please donate!

Posted by laurie at 9:49 AM