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October 31, 2005

Spooky! And hot. And people will be unable to drive in the dark.

All the cats have their costumes on for Halloween...

Roy is Elvis, of course:

Sobakowa is the Unabomber:

Bob is going as Drew's cat, Chandler:

And Frankie is an orange cat dressed up as a black cat:

It's going to be almost one hundred degrees today in the Valley. On October 31st. ONE HUNDRED DEGREES. Hello, hell, meet witch's tittie! It's hotter than both of ya'll over here!

Mystery Bird migrated north -- two houses north. The neighbors managed to catch Bird and now he has a nice home with some non-crackhead types on my street. Aside from the fact that the neighbors probably refer to me now as "the crazy spinster who holds conversations with strange parakeets on the patio" ... all is well that ends well.

And because today is the first workday of non-daylight-savings time, nobody in Los Angeles will be able to drive and it will take us all approximately 3.25 billion hours to get home. Luckily, I have fuzzyfeet knitting to keep me occupied. So far, I have completed a whopping two inches of the cuff. Some folks in the knitalong are ALREADY DONE. To these folks I say: Come to my house and bring your over-achieverness! We have lots of things for you to do with your free time here at Chez Spinster! Like... mopping! Plus, you get to hang out with Elvis, the Unabomber, Drew's cat and a schizo calico. AND ... you'll lose at least three pounds from sweltering in the heat. What more could you ask for?

But leave early if you're driving. Ya'll know.

Posted by laurie at 9:57 AM

October 30, 2005

New words and new birds

I think I found a new word. A descriptive word. For... people. That maybe I know.

Retrosexual (adj., n) One who reminisces about the time, waaaaay back in the bloom of her youth, when she actually had sex.

In other news, today I discovered a small blue parakeet on my patio. I have named him Bird. I keep asking him questions like, "Hey Bird, what's your name? Where are you from? Did you escape? Did they let you go? Want to live here with me? Do you like cats?" and so on.

I have no idea what to do with Bird, since I can't put him in a cage inside my house (four cats, 'nuff said.) But he doesn't have the good sense God gave an acorn. For one thing, he was pecking at the bird seed on the ground, instead of hopping up on the bird feeder like all the other wildlife. At first I thought this was because his wings were clipped or something, but indeed he can fly -- he's just not used to being in the wild. (If you can call Encino, California "the wild.") And all this time on the ground can be dangerous for a bright-blue bird, especially with the amount of feral Valley cats that roam the neighborhood looking for KFC scraps and/or bright-blue birds for dinner.

So, I'm worried that he'll get eaten by a feral cat. Or that the other birds will be jealous of him and attack him. Or worse ... talk about him behind his back. He was pretty zen today, just sitting there on the patio while I asked him 21 Questions and tried to get him to eat birdseed from a bowl.

What do I do? Do any of ya'll want a slightly-used bright blue bird? I could maybe catch him and put him in a cage or something. I have no idea. I'm not a bird person. I feed all the outdoor birds with seed because my cats like to watch them from the windows and envision a day when they have opposable thumbs and can unlatch screens, and eat all the birds. It's "Bird TV" for my cats.

But I like Bird, and I don't want him to get eaten. He seems a little lonely, like me, the retrosexual. I'm waiting for the right moment to tell him I'm an almost-divorced person ... I was kind of dishonest with him this morning. Didn't tell him the whole story. Just birdseed and wholesome family talk.

Wait 'til he finds out I'm a spinster with four cats. Poor guy. Talk about rough landings!

Posted by laurie at 1:23 AM

October 29, 2005

Like this will surprise anyone

Your Linguistic Profile:

50% Dixie
50% General American English
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern
0% Yankee
Take the free quiz: What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Last time I took this I was depressed, I thought I got 65% Dixie. Apparently I was wrong, and I am just a mere 50% Redneck. Either I have become more edumacated or I was drankin' last time I tested my linguistic profile.

Posted by laurie at 12:40 PM

October 28, 2005

Fuzzy Feetalong ... film footage at eleven!

Breaking news! This just in from the Associated Press! Knitters may single-handedly solve the energy crisis of 2005-2006!

The Department Of Fossil Fuels And Stuff has just gotten word that a renegade band of knitters will be making fuzzy feet, bringing demand for winter heating fuel to an all-time low and toppling the oil industry! Tens of tens of knitters will rule the world! AND have fuzzy feet!

Just think -- you, too, can be a part of the solution.

Anmiryan of Gromit Knits has built a website for the fuzzyfeetalong and you can find it right here:


Honestly, I have no idea what you do in a knitalong. I am bad at team sports ... if I hit one of ya'll in the eye with a dpn, the phrase "I told you so" should come to mind. Also, I apologize in advance for probably mooning someone when I need to score a touchdown on heel flaps. But I am very excited to have some felted fuzzy slippers for my mom for Christmas!

My mom, on the other hand, is probably not swooning with happiness because I spent the greater part of my formative years making my parents "artsy" stuff like:

• Age 3-5: macaroni-encrusted pencil holders, macaroni collages, macaroni anything (It was the '70s, folks.)
• Age 6-7: lumpy ashtrays (for my family of nonsmokers)
• Age 8: one nature collage made of poison ivy, poison oak and sumac. Boy was that one a hit. Especially when I was lying in a calamine lotion bath all summer.
• Age 9-13: random stuff made at 4-H camp, a.k.a. "the lanyard years"
• Age 13-17: paintings of teenage angst
• Age 18-present: Things I refer to as "kitschy" to mask their awfulness

So anyway, I'm sure she is just waiting with baited breath for my newest creation which she IS OBLIGATED TO WEAR everytime she sees me until they mysteriously get eaten by giant Florida moths or swept away by a freak HMC* vortex.

[ *HMC = Homemade Crap ]

Don't be scared by the sock-like qualities of fuzzy feet. Theresa, the creator of the pattern has generously offered to answer questions when we have them and besides.... You felt this project! Felting hides all sins. Love the felting. And if that isn't enough to lure you... how 'bout a shiny button?


Posted by laurie at 9:54 AM

October 27, 2005

List of completely unrelated items.

Quitting coffee has been harder than quitting smoking. Sometimes I slip. Like today. I'm tired. Needed the coffee. NEED. COFFEE. And I really have nothing to say. Hi!

Just lists.

One (I): This morning on the bus I looked out the window and wondered about all the things I could have done differently to save my marriage. Do you think some things just are not meant to be saved? And why is it that these things sneak up on me at the weirdest times? Tiny cracks in the facade of my new life. The new life is good, but the old one peeks through a lot.

Two (II): Annie left today to return to the east coast, and I am sorry to say that the sun barely came out during her entire stay. This was not the Sunny California she may have been expecting -- the weather has been cool and foggy. Leads to introspection and wine drinking. (Well, what doesn't? Really?)

Last night she presented me with the best hostess gifts ever, one of which is this amazing handheld steamer:


Annie travels with her steamer, and now I know why. At the party on Saturday night she gave us a demonstration of the AMAZING and SPECTACULAR effect steaming can have both on knitted garments and my dirty oven. This steamer will provide me with hours of amusement, enjoyment, and OCD pleasure. Plus, all my many hats and scarves will be blocked to perfection! Thanks, Annie!

Three (III): Jennifer and I are going to take a trip. We've fantasized about going to Moscow over Christmas, but Moscow is expensive and neither of us have the money, or anyone to babysit our Army of Cats over the holidays, and I can't get off work during that time, and Chechens are blowing stuff up, and did I mention we're poor?

So we're going to save our pennies and dimes and go somewhere more affordable next spring. I'm both excited and nervous. The only traveling I've done has been with Mr. X -- we loved to travel together and did exceedingly well. I saw so much of the world, and when we split up I was just as sad about the loss of my travel companion as I was about the failure of my marriage. For all our faults and flaws, we had some great trips.

I was scared that upon divorcing my life would become very small, and I wouldn't see the world the way I used to. The truth is -- I won't see the world the way I used to! I think Jennifer will help me see the world in a new way, with new eyes, and she has an adventurous soul and palate ... which means we can eat something other than pizza on the trip. Amen and dig in.

I'll be with my best friend in some great city, and we can shop and eat and drink and flirt with cute guys and try on shoes and go to yarn shops and I won't feel bad about buying anything I want. Shoes and yarn and chocolate. She and I will laugh and take pictures of everything and I can be the crazy tourist again. The best part is that it's an exciting thing to look forward to and a great reason to save money and I'm sure all ya'll will have to hear about this trip ad nauseum once we pick a location, so I'll stop now.

Four (IV): Consider this your fair warning: The Fuzzy Feetalong is about to begin! The lovely Anmiryam of Gromit Knits generously offered to host the knit-along blog because I am not so much good at organizing things. Details and link coming tomorrow!

Five (V): Question from Mavis: Did you see any legwarmers at Bloomies?
Well, now that I think about it, I did not! But they were probably in the hoisery section, and I didn't make it there on account of the people in smocks trying to arrest me over in the scarf aisle. Whoops.

Six (VI): Question from Maggie B.: Remember when you were pretending to non-knitters that blocks were really complex to knit?
Ha! You think I stopped that charade? As if! When I showed my coworkers the Ugg Booties, I milked that for all it was worth. About threw myself a tickertape parade. You'd think I was campaigning for office or something.

Seven (VII): Both Nancy France and Alisha asked how I get the kitties to participate in the serious photojournalism that goes on around Chez Cat Hair. The answer is simple: I threaten them. I like to recite recipes that would be so yummy, like Big Bob Pie, and Frankie a'la mode, and Sobalasagnia, and Roy Burgers. Works like a charm!


(Funny how I have nothing to say and I managed to say it in 20,000 words or less...)

Posted by laurie at 8:30 AM

October 26, 2005

For this I almost went to Bloomingdales Jail.

In this time of post-war, nothing screams, "I am a big fat terrorist!" like furtively photographing the goods ... even if those goods are Betsey Johnson hats and scarves. People in black smocks will maybe come and question you, and you will have to look at them with a totally straight face and say you're taking pictures for your imaginary sister, who is in the hospital with a rare viral disorder, possibly the Yarn Flu, and nothing will make her well except a hand-knitted accessory from Bloomies. And if you sniffle a little, and look sweet and innocent, and ask where the Estee Lauder counter is, you will have fought the law BUT THE LAW WILL NOT WIN.

Now, one day when I am very, very rich (Notice! I am currently accepting applications for sugar daddies!) I imagine I will just loll around naked in a big pile of money while wearing this knitted hat:


And one would have to be of the lolling-rich persuasion, because did you notice the price tag on that little hat?


Bloomies had some cute scarves, too, by Aqua. Stripes and pom poms! I love love love scarves that end in pom poms, I think they're so cute and cheerful. I'm making a cable-knit scarf right now from the "Just Scarves" book and I'm going to trim it with tons of dorky pom poms. Of course with the cables and all, the scarf will likely be completed by June of 2007, so there's that. In the meantime, cuteness:


The next illegal pic is for Jennifer. She and I were talking recently about that little ridge of color you get on the backside of a stripe, and how we didn't remember scarves from J Crew and the Gap having "the ridge" on the back. So when I saw these fancy schmancy Bloomies scarves in stripey colors, I had to check the back:


Looks like they did not escape the ridge either.

And finally:

Posted by laurie at 10:01 AM

October 25, 2005

Welcome to Carjackistan ... or "Happy Anniversary, Baby, I Got You On My Mind."

Today is my wedding anniversary. Le divorce isn't final for a few more months, so I am still officially married. Coincidentally, I am officially going to be quite soused in exactly 8.25 hours.

Today is also the anniversary of my Jeep's grand adventure with a convicted felon, a period of my life fondly known as "My car got jacked, taken on a high speed chase in Hollywood, and all I got was this stupid police report!"

Yes, it is true. Last year my beloved red Jeep was stolen ON MY WEDDING ANNIVERSARY. The first wedding anniversary that I celebrated sans husband, as Mr. X had left me and the cats just a month before. I left work that day, morose and schlumpy, caught the red line home to Studio City, walked out to the parking lot and ... nothing. The entire Jeep had disappeared. And it was dark. And scary. AND MY WHOLE CAR WAS MISSING.

A prison parolee stole my Jeep, and then he participated in a high-speed chase in Hollywood IN MY VEHICLE. ON MY ANNIVERSARY. Just two days after all this excitement, I got a hand-delivered letter from my landlord letting me know the condo was being sold and I would have to move.

Ya'll. It was not a good week.

In fact, I was a total zombie. I cried A LOT. I often burst into wailing tears at inappropriate times... like, for example, during staff meetings. And when putting on my socks. My husband and my condo and my beloved Jeep had abandoned me. All seemed lost.

But I think the famous writer William Shakespeare said it best:

If you love something, set it free.

If it doesn't come back to you, then it's probably a piece of selfish, insensitive, cheating, lying CRAP and you're better off without it.

If it comes back to you, it's your true love forever.

(I may be paraphrasing a bit, and also it may not be William Shakespeare.)

I am here to tell you that this ancient proverb is quite true. My heart was broken. My life was in pieces. I was without transportation. I was soon to be without lodging. I was wearing stripes with plaid. I had visible panty lines.

But my beloved came back to me.
My true love returned.

I love, you, Jeep. Happy Anniversary, baby! Thanks for coming back to me! We make a wonderful couple, you and me. Amen.

Posted by laurie at 1:09 PM

October 24, 2005

There was much tomfoolery and carrying on and I did not mop, which caused great heartbreak for my mom.

I didn't mop. Let's just get that out of the way right now. My mom had to pour a cocktail when I told (confessed) this fact to her, and she sighed. The sigh which clearly conveyed HAD SHE TAUGHT ME NOTHING? WHERE IN THE UPBRINGING HAD IT ALL GONE WRONG? After all, a Very Important Guest from the East Coast had come out here to stay with me and I DID NOT MOP. What on earth could I have been doing that would take precedence over this crucial step to houseguesting?

Well, let me tell you. It's so exciting! And also, magic!

You see, I discovered Magic Erasers, the miracle cleaning product. They are these little white eraser things that you dampen and they remove anything -- ANYTHING -- on the walls or doors or countertops. Scuffs! Mystery marks! Schmook*! Gone! And I was so thrilled and also excited by the Magic, that I Magic Erasered spots both real and imagined on every surface of my house except the kitchen floor. For hours. Whoops!

(*This was a different word. It meant something bad. I am maybe not very smart. I changed it. Moving on.)

Then I had to clean about ten feet of ash off every surface of the patio for The Big Party, and there was much housecleaning and laundry-doing and, also, perhaps shopping, so I guess they'll have to revoke my Southern Belle card because not only did I neglect the crucial mopping, I CANNOT EVEN FIND MY MOP.

But! I did find my houseguest, the very lovely and funny and warm Annie Modesitt, who is out here in Los Angeles teaching classes and doing book signings for her latest, a collection of essays called "Cheaper Than Therapy." We met at the Yarn Garden in Studio City on Friday night, where she signed books and knitted and chitchatted and we saw Debra and Gaby there. And I met the lovely Yarn Garden owner, Tiffany, and her mom Cherie who is an AMAZING maker of knitted things, and Tiffany's daughter (who at three years old is a better knitter than I am. Really.)

Annie signed some books and told us some great stories, and we all sat on the patio at the shop and chatted. At some point, someone figured out that I was the Jack-Daniels-in-a-coffee-cup cat lady from the book, and after SO MUCH ARM TWISTING (ha!) I got to sign MY VERY FIRST BOOK EVER and it was so exciting, and thrilling, and I loved it! In fact, I loved it so much that I offered to sign all books! ALL books! I don't care who wrote them! In fact, I might just start asking people on the bus, "Hey! What are you reading? Hand it to me! I'll sign it!"

Send me anything, I'll sign it! Me, Tiffany and Annie with Tiffany's blanket; Cherie, with a gorgeous shawl of her own design.

Debra and Gaby; Girls Gone Wild; Inside the cozy Yarn Garden.

After we left the shop, Annie and I went to visit her friend James, who has an amazing house in Sherman Oaks that I kind of want to move into. With clear oak floors and huge built-in cabinets and a granite kitchen island. Then we went back to my house (which is no so much the granite island kind of place) and I drank wine and talked Annie's ear off, and she was very sweet even though you know she was about to fall over from tiredness.

On Saturday, I hosted a little gathering of knitters and friends at my house to meet Annie and have dinner. In fact, I called this gathering a "dinner party." All the elements were in place to make very fancy chicken kebabs and Jasmine rice with toasted almonds and so on. All the elements except... maybe someone to cut and marinate the chicken, and slice all the vegetables, and marinate those, and then clean the grill and light the grill and make the kebabs and toast the almonds and so on. That person was... missing? Not me? Tired? Perhaps drinking wine and visiting with Faith on the patio?

So, instead I made my guests a very fancy and delicious meal of the Italian persuasion:

But everyone seemed to forgive me, and I got them liquored up and before long we were Knitting Under The Influence:

Party at my house, ya'll! Bring... something to eat. Because apparently the cook is on strike. Again.

Click for big images:

All in all, a lovely weekend and so much fun. Especially if you were the hostess who didn't have to clean a single plate after the party. In fact, I may never cook for a party again, it's much easier for a nice man to bring you food in a warm box. Then you can sit back with your red cheeks and big red wine and offer to sign people's paper plates. Don't you agree?

Posted by laurie at 11:10 AM

October 20, 2005

And on the sixth day she said, "You shall have fuzzy feet!"

As usual, I am late to the party. Very Important Research on the internets let me know that everyone and their brother and their second-cousin-twice-removed knitted up some adorable Fuzzy Feet last year (click here for free pattern). I was still crying and drinking alone on the patio of my old house and repeatedly playing that song "F*** it, I Don't Want You Back" REALLY REALLY LOUDLY this time last year, so that's my excuse.

But now I'm at the party, people! I am here and I will make my fuzzy feet rite of passage!! I brought wine!

If all goes well, my mom will be HIGH STYLIN' in her fuzzy feet for Christmas. This project looks suspiciously like sock knitting, though, so I plan to use some Patons Up Country from my (rather sizable) stash as a prototype before making the gift feet. My folks in Florida need winter knits about as much as we do here in Los Angeles... but fuzzy feet! A necessity! They can insulate and keep the bottles of Chivas from harm during hurricane season, too. (Because my parents? their hurricane kit? Is Chivas Regal. I come by it honestly, people.)

And so begins my first step (ha! STEP! get it!!) toward my holiday knitting. I'm going to pretend that all pictures of holiday hand-knits posted on this here website require a special decoder ring to view, and my friends and family do not have said decoder ring and, ergo, will be COMPLETELY SURPRISED and AWED by their SURPRISE gifts. I cannot go three months without posting about knitting, OK?

Unless of course that knitting is ... the Ugly Mystery Knitted Cat Thingamajig which I may or may not finish this lifetime. It's all knitted, now it just requires a handsaw and some seaming and some hot glue. All things normal knitters use in their handmade projects.

Oh, did I mention that fuzzy feet look like socks? I did? And did I mention socks are kind of fancy knitting? And do you know what a pain in the ass I can be about fancy knitting stuff? With the whining and the blaming and the hissing? And then... the embarrassing pleas for help? And the slurring?

It's a sad, vicious cycle. Once I break free of the long rectangle (a.k.a. "scarf") or simple circle (kitty pi, hats) I'm pretty much screaming in pain the whole way. UNTIL I figure it out, that is, which is when I go from hating the knitting to feeling like I am THE SMARTEST HUMAN BEING ON THE PLANET AND POSSIBLY MARS. That inspires me. Gives me false courage. Which lasts until I take on my next knitting project, always way above my skill level, and I repeat the cry/whine/hate-knitting/someone-helps-me/things-work-out/I-conquer the-yarn cycle.

Maybe I can convince someone to knit fuzzy feet with me? Please? Anyone? You know you want to. Seriously. And then when things go horribly awry I can blame ... maybe you. Until things go right. Which is where I win! I win!

Posted by laurie at 12:06 PM

October 19, 2005

And none of the Flintstone-Rubbles were in the DAR.

Me: Hi Dad!

Dad: Hi there! Where are you?

Me: I'm on my cellphone, waiting for the bus.

Dad: Well, don't talk to strangers. So. Have you ever met anyone named Wilma? A real person named Wilma?

Me: No...?

Dad: The only person named Wilma is that Flintstones woman. Or was she the other one?

This is where my mom, who is in the other room but can hear half my dad's conversation, starts hollering in the background about the annotated family tree of the Flintstones and Rubbles, and where I also do THE EXACT SAME THING.

Me: The other one is Betty, wife of Barney, of the family Rubble!

My mom (hollering in backgound): Betty! The other woman was Betty Rubble! Her husband is Barney Rubble! The Rubble Family!!

Me: (getting louder) OH YEAH well, Wilma Flintstone is wife of Fred Flintstone and they had one daughter, Pebbles Flintstone!

Dad: Pebbles, huh? (I believe he said this to flame the competitive fire among the womenfolk, who now think they are on Jeopardy, and Dad is apparently Alex Trebek, and if we just yell the answers LOUDER at the teevee/dad, we will WIN WIN WIN.)

My mom (in background): PEBBLES! That's the daughter! And the son of Barney and Betty is...
Me: Bam Bam!!
Mom: Bam Bam!!

My Dad: Ya'll are crazy.

Me: Yeah well I can beat all ya'll! The dog's name was DINO!!


Me: Dad, how is it that I know the entire geneology of the Flintstones and their neighbors but I do not remember what I had for breakfast this morning?

Dad: It's a cruel trick of age.

My mom (in background): And they had a dog!!! Dino!!

So, ya'll know, just keep my parents in mind this weekend when Wilma Flintstone is visiting their house. The mother and father of The Family Crazy live right on the water, just north of Tampa.

And I really never have met anyone in real life named Wilma, so I wonder if the fine folks at the Department Of Naming Hurricanes were just perpetrating a little tomfoolery at the bottom of the list?

"Hey, George, we'll never make it all the way down to the W name, so let's go buckwild crazy on this one!"

"Sure, Bob, let's name it ... WootWoot! Or Waterloo! Or Willy Wonka!"

"How about Wilma? Like that hot chick on the Flintstones!"

"That was Betty!"

"No, it was Wilma! Wilma Flintstone! Wife of Fred, mother of Pebbles..."

Posted by laurie at 10:52 AM

October 18, 2005

Five idiosyncrasies

Jennifer gave me one of those question and answer things that I usually forget to answer (is it performance anxiety? do they have meme viagra?) but since she is my STEND, I will do my best. It's still raining, by the way. I love the rain for many reasons, but to be perfectly honest ... the best thing about the rain? I get to wear the UGLIEST yet MOST COMFORTABLE shoes on the planet:


The topic for the tagging thing ("List five of your personal idiosyncrasies") was hard for me because as all ya'll know by now, I AM COMPLETELY IDIOSYNCRASY FREE.


So I strained and I pondered and I looked back over the many months and years and also, minutes, and here is what I have to tell you:

There might be maybe one idiosyncrasy.

So, idiosyncrasy #1:
I cannot poop at work.

I know that Freud had many theories about people and their potty habits and he would need a sturdy couch and about twelve years with me and my inner child before finally unravelling my nueroses to the core. But let me save you and Freud the trouble and we'll just blame all this on my parents. Because isn't that what parents are for? To love us and comfort us and also to be the prime source of blame in our lives? (Just kidding ya'll. Your parenting skills were awesome. Look how GREAT I turned out. Love you!)

And that is all I have to say about pooping.

Which brings me to a maybe rather insignificant but still worth-mentioning idiosyncrasy #2:

I am bad at small talk. When I talk to you, it's like I have had a conversation going in my head for ten minutes before opening my mouth, and so when I do finally say something to you? We have moved beyond small talk and right into Very Large Talk. Or Inappropriate Talk, for example "poop" or "divorce." It's best if I just remain quiet and do not speak at all. Yeah. Like that will ever happen.

Oh. OK. There may be one more. Idiosyncrasy #3:
I have a routine in the mornings, before going to work, and if I do not follow the routine and accidentally skip a step, the DAY IS RUINED. Well, not ruined for me so much as those who have to be around The Girl Who Skipped A Step And Then Forgot Deodorant.

The Routine is crucial to the day, because if I don't do The Routine, the chain of command will be broken and the world may stop spinning on its axis. Because of my little insomnia issue, I tend to wake up veerrrry early sometimes and I can lay in bed and snuggle with the Roy or lay on the sofa and watch TV as long as I want, but upon standing upright I have to commence with The Routine.

Which is: feed cats, water cats, scoop catboxes, wash hands. Put in contacts, brush teeth, take shower. (There's also a shower sub-routine but I won't bore you with that.) (Like this isn't boring enough.) Then: dry off, moisturize, DEODORANT, get dressed except shoes, comb hair. Turn off all lights, fans, appliances, stuff, check the oven AGAIN like the OCD freakazoid I am, check back door is locked, put on shoes, get purse and knitting bag and stuff, leave and lock door.

If any part of this goes awry, I will inevitably forget something and someone will either be without Meow Mix, or without deodorant, or without socks. The worst case is always when I forget to check the stove or some appliance, like curling inplements*, and then I have to return to the house. Even if I am already at the park 'n ride and standing in line for the bus, I must return. If not I will spend ALL DAY worrying that the house is on fire or all the doors are flapping open because I forgot to lock them.

But not in a weird way. Geez.

* curling implements... ah, that is perhaps idiosyncrasy #4. I STILL USE HOT CURLERS ON OCCASION. I am Southern and it is MY BIRTHRIGHT, DAMMIT. In my defense, I have VERY straight hair. No natural wave AT ALL. And a little hot roller never hurt no one!

I am so ready for the big hair and hot roller heaven of the 80s to come back. One day I will tell ya'll exactly how long it used to take me every morning to get ready to attend my high school. My country ass high school full of farm kids and stoners. You can safely assume it was HOURS. There was so much hairspray that flies were stuck in mid-flight in my bathroom. It was an EVENT.

But I digress.

Because there may also be a little issue I have with time, hours and minutes and so on, which could be considered idiosyncrasy #5.

If it is 2 p.m., and I have to be somewhere at 6 p.m., to figure out how much time I have to fart around between now and then I will count the hours up. Only I do it in the following manner:

"Two-to-three o'clock, three-to-four o'clock, four-to-five o'clock, five-to-six o'clock." And I tick them out on my fingers. I COUNT WITH MY FINGERS. Because although I can compose a full five paragraph theme in my head, with footnotes, I cannot add up the amount of hours between two and six. I am possibly slightly retarded.

I also set the alarm clock for odd intervals ... 5:37 a.m. Or 6:12 a.m. Why do I do this? It's not like I'm superstitious about the hour and minute numbers, it's ... just a thing I do. When using the microwave oven (which I still refer to as "the microwave oven" because as previously mentioned, I am slightly retarded) I set the heating timer for weird numbers, too. Like two minutes and two seconds. Or one minute, twenty-one seconds. WHY DO I DO THIS? Is anyone out there a therapist? Can you please lie to me and tell me this is all my parents' fault?

So, aside from those things listed above and maybe six or fourteen or thirty-seven other things, I am totally idiosyncrasy free. As I am sure you suspected.

Posted by laurie at 10:04 AM

October 17, 2005

There is WATER falling from the SKY.



Finally! We have weather other than Fiery Pit Of Inferno Heat. Rain! Coolness!

I love Los Angeles in the rain. I love that the lead story on every single newscast is STORM WATCH 2005!!! WE'RE ALL GOING TO PERISH!!! And ... it's sprinkling.

There has been thunder, though, that was exciting! And traffic was... really exciting! I got on the bus at 7:15 this morning. I arrived at my office -- 19.7 miles away -- exactly two hours and ten minutes later. Love you, Los Angeles drivers!

But the rain is lovely, and the sky is grey, and it's finally cooled off. Perfect scarf weather at last. And I REALLY wanted to wear my new Noro scarf today, but... OK. Listen. I was afraid it would get wet. Because what happens then? Does it scrunch back to its original shape? How does blocking work, exactly? Is it permanent?

Now that I have blocked my beautimous scarf, will it stay that shape or do I have to re-block it each time it gets wet? Or even damp? Because while I enjoyed my successful foray into blocking, I don't really want to do it every single day. Ya'll know. I love the Noro. I will protect the Noro. But I may not love anything enough to block it all winter long.

And winter has started! It's really cold here. It's ONLY SIXTY EIGHT DEGREES!! So sad for the lonely rooftop pool at the Downtown Standard:


Posted by laurie at 11:42 AM

October 15, 2005

Dear Noro, I Love You.

Today I'm going to tell ya'll all about a trip I took to the Stitch Cafe and where I met my true love, Noro Transitions, and this trip happened... exactly one week ago. I'm writing about events that happened last weekend because this weekend I'm trapped at home, cleaning like a madwoman. I'm going to have a Very Famous Visitor next week, and I want everything to be as sparkly clean and cat-hair free as possible.

Of course, if we're REALLY being honest here, the deep cleaning of Chez Cat Hair is a dire necessity. In the past two months of frantic working and late nights and long hours on Big Scary Project, my house has reverted back to its natural wild state and there are no clean forks. This is sad because I have no dishwasher. I really, really want a dishwasher. Named... Sergei. Who wears red bikini pants and brings me cocktails and does my dishes and speaks to me only in Russian.

So, where were we? Oh. Yes! Last weekend! When I actually did some fun things and totally ignored housework for yet another day. Gwen and I went to the Stitch Cafe and that is where I found MY TRUE LOVE WHO I WANT TO KISS AND HUG ALL DAY AND NIGHT, Noro Transitions:


This yarn is so beautiful, you want to make sweet love to it and call it kissy names. It's self-striping, but in that soft Noro way, and it not only changes color... it changes FIBER. From wool to camel to alpaca to angora, and I think there's some silk in there or maybe cashmere, I do not know, I only know I have once again been sucked in by the lure of Noro. After my nine-foot-long kureyon scarf (click to see it), I took a Noro breather. But now I want Eisaku Noro to adopt me. Please?

I did not intend to buy a hank of $25 yarn (!!!) from Stitch Cafe. I intended only to go there with Gwen and see the beanie from the cabled beanie pattern we got in our Stitch Cafe newsletters.


We've both come down with a burning case of Cable Fever and want to Cable All The Time, so we're making the exact same beanie out of the exact same yarn. People will probably mistake us for twins. That's what I kept telling her, anyway. Repeatedly. Because I am five.

She endured me with a smile:


The folks at Stitch Cafe were very nice and super helpful. I've only been there once or twice before, and I think this was the first time it wasn't crazy crowded, so we got to browse and smell the yarn and linger.


When I got home (this was still last weekend, mind you, when I should have been pre-cleaning the house) I couldn't put down the Noro. At $25 (!!!) a hank, I could only afford one -- enough for a scarf. Ellen recently showed us a modified seed stitch at Stitch 'n Bitch, where you knit two, purl two for two rows and then switch it up so it's like regular moss stitch, only bigger. This was perhaps divine intervention on behalf of the Stitch Gods, and the Ellen was a good teacher, and the stitch was good, and I used it for the Noro.

So I knit. And knit. And by Sunday morning I was done! Scarf! Noro! Oh so pretty. But it was a little scrunched up, since I am a crazy tight knitter. I have no idea why I knit this way. It's like I am grasping the yarn with a death grip or something. The scarf needed blocking to open up the pattern a little.

But, ah ... I haven't actually blocked anything besides the kitty pi. I intend to block a lot of things, but I never do. Also, I thought blocking might be a myth, a rumor, just a thing people say they do but don't really do ... ya'll know how I can be.

But for the Noro, I would do anything. With about 30 gazillion pins and a large sheet spread over the guest bed, I began the blocking process. And I had SO MUCH HELP.


[click for big Bob]

Blocking is NO JOKE, ya'll. It works like magic! I stretched the scarf out to its maximum possible width and length, pinned like crazy, sprayed with warm water and let dry overnight. I think it gave this piece a more professional finish, and it's the first thing I've made that looks like it came from Bloomies. The yarn is the superstar, of course. This is officially the first thing I have made just for me. I love it sooo much. I want to wear it, flaunt it. Perhaps when the weather isn't ONE HUNDRED FREAKING DEGREES, I will. Until then, I photograph it:


Fast forward to today, Saturday, and what I REALLY want to do is go back to Stitch Cafe and do whatever it takes -- sell the cats on eBay, sell plasma, beg, whatever -- and buy ALL THE NORO and come home and knit and hermitize and drink wine.


Instead I'm going to do dishes. And vaccuum. And dream that when Eisaku Noro adopts me there is a houseboy named Sergei who will become my personal man-slave and I can knit him little Noro outfits for our mutual pleasure.


Posted by laurie at 11:04 AM

October 14, 2005

I hope Anderson Cooper got his flu shot.


By now, you already know that we're all living on borrowed time. I hope you're living it up. Buying that yarn you really, really want. Eating that Halloween candy like it's medicine.

Because apparently we're all about to die.

Some kind of chicken flu is going to kill all humans at an unspecified time. Even though it hasn't really gotten out of hand yet, the news folks still have to tell us we're about to die on a daily basis. Faith is annoyed at all the newscasters right now, not for their scariness, but because they cannot say Avian Flu properly. They keep calling in the Evian Flu. Not as deadly as Perrier Flu but a whole lot cheaper than Pelligrino Flu?

Now, I live in Los Angeles, a diverse city of many colorful and diseased individuals. I work downtown, in a building surrounded by humans who have suspect hygiene. I take mass transportation. I have no protective plastic bubble.

In conclusion, there isn't enough anti-bacterial soap in the world for the amount of hand-washing I probably need to do. And yet... something is not right. Something is broken.

Something in OCD Land is amiss. Because I am not freaking out about this one.

My mom and I were talking on the phone the other day and when I brought up the Bird Flu she sighed. A deep, sad sigh. The sentiment of a woman whose kid is a nutjob with a handbag full of wet wipes.

Me: blah blah blah flu pandemic, I guess everyone's going to die?

My mom: (deep sigh) I was afraid to even mention this to you. Do you already have it?

Me: Surprisingly, no. In fact, I believe I am immune to this Evian Flu.

My mom: (possibly falls over from shock) ... what? I'm sorry. Did you just say you are immune from the bird flu? Aren't you the same girl who was sure monkeypox was all around you? And West Nile? Didn't you tell your boss he might have West Nile?

Me: Yes. But for some reason this one doesn't scare me. I don't believe in it. Therefore I'm fine.

My mom: ... oh. (silence) OK. (silence) Well then. (silence) Are you feeling OK?

And the really creepy thing is that ... it's true. I'm fine. I could care less about the Evian Flu. And now I suspect I may have been bodysnatched by aliens and replaced with a non-OCD version of me. Because this is all very unlike me. After careful evaluation, and two glasses of wine, I have concluded that the OCD may be subsiding. A little.

Coincidentally, my OCD issues have declined in direct proportion to how bad my case of divorce has been (I like to think of my divorce as an illness, something that came on real sudden, made me very sick, and now I'm in the long recovery period. I still have relapses of divorce, but for the most part I'm getting better.)

Back in my pre-DivorcePox days, I was what one might call "a little freakishly OCD." As I got older it seemed to get more intense. When people would meet me, and spend any amount of time with me, they seemed to go through a three-step process of dealing with my OCD.

Stage One: Discovery. Upon getting to know me, they begin to notice little oddities. Like the look of pain that comes across my face when a wet sneezer passes next to me and expels all his/her germs. In this phase, the OCD is funny. Quirky. People are indulgently tolerant.

Stage Two: Realization. Over time, they begin to realize that these little quirks once considered so amusing are in fact real issues. Not made-up witticisms. Maybe not funny at all. Slowly, it sinks in. The OCD is not a joke, and the hands cannot actually touch the door handles. The quirks are no longer endearing, they're downright annoying.

Stage Three: Acceptance. People begin to accept the quirks as just another part of the personality package. There is rationalization. "Well, some people do that snot-sucking noise with their nose... she just happens to be an OCD freak who doesn't touch door handles. Everyone has a quirk. It's better than the snot thing!" In the Acceptance stage, folks begin to ignore the quirks. Much like parents who can somehow NOT HEAR THEIR OWN KID SCREAMING IN PUBLIC. But I digress.

Occasionally there's even a Phase Four: OCD Transference. Wherein the friend begins to see the logic of my ways, and goes from asking for a wet wipe to carrying their own wet wipes. It happens.

So, anyway, somewhere during my battle with this nasty case of DivorcePox, the OCD calmed down. A little. Door handles are still a problem. And wet sneezers are still horrifying. But lately I've been pressing elevator buttons without a barrier kleenex. I didn't wet-wipe-disinfect the table at Starbucks last weekend. I just let it go.

As for the Evian flu, I think I'll sit this one out. Ya'll let me know how it goes. I'll be over here with the yarn of my dreams and some fun-size Halloween candy ... right after I wash my hands.

Just for good measure.

Posted by laurie at 11:22 AM

October 13, 2005

The Anti-Tech Strikes Again

There is anti-virus, anti-war, anti-freeze, anti-christ, anti-pasta, and now... anti-tech. Hello, nice to meet ya'll.

I am the Anti Tech.

With my amazing superpowers and wave of my lipstick wand, I can break any or all of the following items IN ONE SINGLE MORNING:

1) One (probably expensive) voice-over IP telephone provided to me by Large Corporation, Inc.

2) Three ethernet cables

3) One 21" computer monitor that used to have lots of pretty colors and now displays only black and white. YES, BLACK AND WHITE. Because I am all about graphic design a'la 1952. Retro is so cool.

4) One multimedia player that cost seven bazillion dollars -- and this is the truly exciting part! -- it is not even located near me and my fantastic anti-tech physical presence. No. It is located in Bunker Hill, many blocks away from my Downtown Batcave Of Evil. WHO KNEW my superpowers could extend over the internets and fry a computer in an entirely different building? YA'LL I AM STRONGER THAN EVEN I COULD HAVE IMAGINED.

5) The coffee machine. I was just getting hot water from the spigoty thing on the side. You know? I wasn't even touching the buttons! But then it made a noise? Like in the pump?

The coffee machine story is a funny one, actually, in that I ALMOST DIED. Let me set the scene for you.

It is early in the morning here at Corporate Job, Incorporated. So early, in fact, that it's still probably the night before. At that hour, you have two types of people wandering around the corporate hallways:

1) People Who Are Chipper
2) People Who Hate You And Want To Kill You

One of the hating-type people was standing in front of the coffee machine, zombiefied and quiet, his glazed eyes fixated on the brewing pot of coffee while he clutched a suspiciously crusty mug in his mean little paw.

Then the Anti-Tech arrived.

Of course, it was still early and I was not fully awake and therefore unaware that I had transitioned seamlessly from Art Director to Grim Reaper of Technology, because it doesn't really correspond to the phases of the moon or anything. So, you know, I wasn't expecting to BREAK THE COFFEE.

Yet I don't know my own strength, apparently. I simply placed a low-tech teabag into a low-tech cup, and lifted the lever-thingy for the hot water and the pump made a bad sound, a gurgly klunk-blump sound, and then... died.

The water stopped running. Somehow. And also stopped dripping into the coffee. And the horrible creature waiting for the coffee turned to me and tried to eat my head. So I ran...

... to my desk, and tried to hide, and that's when I discovered that it was going to be One Of Those Days in which I break stuff and no one is sympathetic and there is no wine at work. AGAIN. Because as soon as I turned on my monitor, the beautiful old school CRT monitor with perfect calibration, it... did a little wobble thing. Like it... shuddered. As if it had just had amazing sex with the powerstrip and now needed a cigarette. And then it went all black and white, with a pretty little stripey pattern.

At which point I sighed, and picked up the phone to call tech services, who all hate me and my powers, MY SUPER POWERS, and the phone maybe moved ONE FREAKING CENTIMETER out of its comfort zone and ... it died.

Which set off a chain reaction of events in which I threw the phone in a tantrum and tried to give it cancer with my mind, and then threatened everyone in the building that if they did not stop talking to me THISVERYMINUTE I would go to their desks when the moon was high and fondle all their electronic devices.

Then I sat under my little black cloud and ate a fun-size snickers, which wasn't even really that fun, and then I whined a little. Which brings you pretty much up-to-the minute in my life. How are you? Got any electronic devices you'd like me to lay hands upon?

And maybe later I'll come to your house and eat all your carbs, in my efforts to move from Anti Tech to Anti Pasta.

It's worth a shot.

Posted by laurie at 11:50 AM

October 12, 2005

Buttonhole Bag

Since this is going to be my first holiday season as A Knitter Of Unusual Shape And Size, everyone I like is getting a knitted gift. People who I do not like but am forced to pretend to like and still have to follow social conventions and provide them with gifts will be getting not handmade items. Is this punishment for them or for my loved ones? Hard to say.

For the next few months I am just going to pretend my friends and family don't read this website and I will post pictures of knitted things, maybe knitted gift things, and if you know me in real life and see something I've made that you REALLY WANT as your Christmas gift, be sure you email me and let me know.

Conversely, if you know me in real life and are on my Christmas list
and you see something on this website that you REALLY REALLY DO NOT WANT and if, in fact, you are saying, "Please Higher Power, please do not let that be for me...." then I suggest you email me that as well. You know. Just in case.

Posted by laurie at 12:02 PM

Big bootie girl: an update

Yes, as you may have noticed I finished the Ugg baby booties. There are three -- two pretty cute booties and one flat, unattractive bootie. This is the first time in my life that I have ever had a flat bootie. Usually I got waaaaaay too much going on in the bootie department.

(Oh! Thanks ya'll for the suggestions on what to do with my misshapen bootie ... I may indeed stuff that sucker with catnip and let the fashionable felines here at Chez Spinster have at it. Perfect idea! What California kitty can be without an Ugg catnip toy? Especially VALLEY Cats!)

So, after spending hours on what was supposed to be a "quick and easy" project, I now... want to keep these little Uggs. Maybe I just have an Ugg addiction. Or maybe it's true that I don't even LIKE the coworker who's knocked up, I just wanted to make this little knitted cuteness, OK? THERE. I ADMITTED IT. Anyway.

Moving on.

... or not.

You see, it's not that I want to keep them for myself, per se, more that I want them to be adored for their true CUTENESS and also HILARITY and also KNITTERLY MAD SKILLZ. Maybe I should save them for a knitter friend who gets in a family way, since I don't think a non-knitter could appreciate the amount of cussing that went into these. Peggy is engaged and soon-to-be-married, and Gwen is all serious with her boyfriend... so maybe I should pit them together in a race to become knocked up. The prize: These amazing Ugg booties!! Oh, yeah, and a baby. Of your own making.

Really Exciting Diatribe On Making These Uggs:
After my initial knit pas, I copied the pattern into a word doc and re-wrote the whole thing for my limited abilities here at La Knitterie Dumbasserie. I used Annie's tip to count the stitches and put the number at the end of each row (all that increasing and decreasing makes for tricky counting, but whatever. I had reached The Obsessed Place. Some of you may know it?)

And I discovered during bootie #1 that when doing this shaping stuff, it's easier for me to have each row written out (line by line) so I can check them off when completed. I do most of my knitting on the bus and there's no way I can remember at 6 p.m. where I left off that morning at 6 a.m. Hours have passed. Brain cells have fallen asleep. Grumpiness is all around. I need checkmarks, people. (I do have a row counter but we tend to make screeching stops on the bus, and the row counter has gone flying more than once...)

Primary knitting of all booties was completed on the bus, during traffic. Later, I sewed everything up with a glass of wine and some CSI Miami on Tivo. (I want to BE Calleigh Duquesne, by the way. When Jennifer cautioned me about my cat-lady-with-a-gun idea, I immediately said, "But Jennifer! Calliegh Duquesne loves guns!") (I maybe have a wee problem with watching too much TV.)

And, because this is the internets, the original home of the free bootie, here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure ... warning: THESE ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN. Just babies. Heh.

Before Photo: Flat bootie!!

During Photo: Bootie trouble!!
soba messed with my bootie

After Photo: Round fine-lookin' bootie beauty!!

Tania somehow managed to re-write the pattern to knit in the round, but I'm not a crazy mad knitting superstar like she is, so I did it the straight-seam way.

After all my complaining about this tricky pattern lingo, I have to say, it's BRILLIANT how the designer calculated a way to make a whole toe area out of increases and decreases! How do they do that? How do knits and purls make a whole bootie? It's magic! Gnomes!

And I definitely like the part where you knit across seven stitches, and then purl back on the same stitches, all the while decreasing and shaping, that part was so cool. I wasn't sure if you were supposed to slip stitches knitwise or purlwise (the pattern didn't say) (OF COURSE) so I just did them all purlwise.

I love the way these came out, so cute! So Ugg-like! Maybe I'll knit another bootie the wrong way, so I have a pair of flat ones and I can send those off to knocked-up coworker. Then I can send Cute Uggs to someone who would truly appreciate them. Is that mean? Evil?

So, in conclusion, bootie is in the eye of the beholder. Bootie is only skein deep. Yes, I have lost my DAMN MIND. Blame it on... Bootie and the beast?


Posted by laurie at 10:08 AM

October 11, 2005

Someone ... alert PETA.

cats gone wild

cats gone wild

cats gone wild

cats gone wild

Posted by laurie at 9:28 AM

October 8, 2005

Perhaps it is true that the only place I ever shop is Target. Perhaps.

Even though it's October here in the home of swimming pools and movie stars, it's still a hunnerdmillion degrees oustide. We had a couple of fall-ish mornings a few weeks ago before the Santa Ana winds kicked in, but lately it's been all heat all the time. I find it hard to get motivated to knit up a fabulous wool scarf when your own nose is melting off your face from the heat.

But my good friend Target? What a giver. Target gave me back the will to knit. After seeing all the cute knitted scarves and hats and all the new Fall stuff, it made me want to go home and crank up the A/C and make magic -- the keep-your-panties-on kind of magic. If you know what I mean. And I think you do. It's good to get started now on fall knitting projects because one day we'll wake up and it will be Very Suddenly Winter, which is serious business here in the Los Angeles area. We have to wrap 9-foot long skinny scarves around us all during the winter months so that our tank tops don't get cold.

The new "Knit This!" kits are in at Tar-jay.
[ Click for bigger pics ]

Convertible mittens -- I assume these are knitted
flat and then seamed because there were no dpns;
A purse and capelet. Heh...you said "capelet."

Fuzzy pink slippers on the left; Baby blanket/booties kit,
and knit hat, mittens and scarf combo for only $20. Not bad!

Then in the accessories aisle, there were so many cute knitted and crocheted scarves and hats and mittens! My favorite was a long, red scarf that had loop stitch pattern at the ends, then different patterns like rib and cables separated by blocks of garter stitch. It was really cool, although I have no idea how they managed to do both rib and cables without the fabric pulling in several inches (which it didn't -- the whole thing was about the same width all the way through.)


Other scarves and hats, click for big:

The last thing I ran across was ... well, it was like Zen meets Chocolate meets Knitting. It was like ... coming home. That's right, ya'll. The circle has been completed!! I may be a child of the '80s with zero fashion sense and an inexplicable love of Whitesnake, but it appears I HAVE WON THE CULTURAL WAR, because my campaign to single-handedly bring back the short-lived legwarmers trend of 1987 HAS SUCCEEDED!!!



Fame! I'm gonna live forever! I'm gonna learn how to FLY ... HIGH... in my legwarmers... forever....

Posted by laurie at 11:30 AM

October 7, 2005

Stitch 'n Bitch 'n ... Uma Freaking Thurman.

No, Uma Thurman did not attend Stitch 'n Bitch. But I attended Stitch'n Bitch, and as you'll see later on in about 37,000 words and comma splices, I am practically exactly the same as Uma Thurman. Really. It's ... very philosophical.

I don't do any actual stitching at Stitch 'n Bitch, in fact I think I completed the grand total of ONE ROW of knitting last night, but then again I hadn't been to SnB in a loooong time and there was so much catching up to do. And who can both catch and knit at the same time?

Click for bigger pics. L-R: The group; Tami hides behind her gorgeous cotton cabled knitting; Peggy is so cute you want to cover her in chocolate and take her home.. here she teaches Faith intarsia.

Click for bigger pics. L-R: New peeps at SnB! Darcy really loves her yarn, and I mean that in the deepest sense of the word; Faith learns intarsia!!

I arrived late to SnB (thanks, job!) but I stayed late, too, since I HAVE A VACATION DAY TODAY. Yes. You heard that right. I am taking a much-needed break from my job. Me! So! Happy!

It was so nice seeing everyone last night!

And since today is A Vacation Day and therefore I AM NOT WORKING OH HELLO LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU WORLD! I was plenty able to meet up with Faith first thing this morning for breakfast at Marmalade. After eating 546,000 carbohydrates, I was determined to go home and begin the long, arduous task of getting my house back in shape from weeks of neglect. So, immediately after breakfast I talked Faith into going shopping. To trick the housework into thinking I was coming home. And maybe it would do itself?

Click for bigger pics. L-R: I get attacked by Xmas decor; Faith Falls at Michael's. HAH HAH ...get it? FALLs? Oh boy was I cracking myself up. Then I sniffed a gourd to see if it was plastic. Good times.

After shopping and picture-taking, I finally came home with every intention of cleaning my house and getting some control over the pile of shoes collecting by my front door, and the laundry, and the dishes, but instead I ... watched TV. Which must have been Buddha's plan for me today. And let me tell you why.

As I walked in the door, and stumbled over the shoe pile, and grabbed a beer (AT 3 IN THE AFTERNOON, HELLO VACATION DAY!) Oprah was on TV and her guest today was Uma Thurman (Yes, I am about to write about an epiphany I got from THE OPRAH SHOW. Got a dictionary? Look up "spinster crazy person." See my picture? so cute?) and within five minutes of the show starting, Uma was holding back tears and I was crying into a fresh beer.

Because it never occurred to me that any one person out there could go through what I'm going through, and there is Uma Freaking Thurman on the TV, all tall and skinny and rich and gorgeous... and she is thisclose to crying, because divorce is hard, ya'll, it's hard, and we do make strides, we do make it through each day somehow, and have good moments, and meet new people, and have hope, and we sometimes... we sometimes are doing JUST FINE.

We're FINE. Really, everything is GREAT.

So, being now GREAT and FINE, you make a meager attempt to get back on track, and off the sofa, and having quit smoking and so on, one day (a perfectly normal, fine day) you decide that maybe it's time to do that crazy newfangled exercise thing.

And so you go for a walk.

And on this walk, the first time you maybe have done any walking-exercise in over a year, you pet a dog in the neighborhood. And another one. And you laugh, because dogs! So cute! And then all the sudden you remember how every single night you were married you used to go out in your old neighborhood and go for a walk and when you got home your husband would say, "Did you have a good walk?" and you'd say, "It was great!" and he'd ask, "Did you pet any dogs?" and it was... a thing ya'll did. A tiny thing. A little insignificant part of your day that until THIS VERY MOMENT you had forgotten.

And now you really, really wish you could have kept forgetting it.

But all over again you feel like someone, someone maybe very fat, is standing on your chest and you can't breathe and you know you must go home immediately and drink wine and have a cigarette.

Except that you quit smoking two months ago.

So you just keep walking. And thinking you kind of need to wash your hands from petting on strange dogs. And that you are a thirty-four-year-old-woman who is going to walk back home, alone, and tell nobody that you're home, and probably have a glass of wine, and probably be just fine, and in fact you're better off in the long run THANKYOUVERYMUCH, but still. You don't feel whole.

You feel maybe... broken.

And it's weird to hear a celebrity, a complete stranger, say these same things. ON OPRAH. But it's also kind of comforting. And yes, I saw Jennifer Aniston on Oprah a few weeks ago saying she was FINE, I AM SO FINE! LIFE IS GREAT! I AM GREAT! and maybe she was great. Maybe being divorced made her soooo damn happy!

But seeing Uma Thurman on TV saying, "I don't even know what it means, moving on, what does that mean?" it was like she was channeling me, my sadness, my inability to trust anyone or trust in the future, my little pieces of heartbreak here and there, my awful self-esteem, my clever ways of making it all unbearable and then bearable again.

For some reason, this made me feel better. In fact, I felt... UNDERSTOOD. NORMAL. For the first time in a long, long time. Because if we've learned nothing from being raised here in America, Land Of The Free Home Of The Brave, it's that you're normal and right as long as you're doing exactly what the celebrities are doing.

And Uma and I are doing the same exact thing! Except that I am not a skinny, 8-foot-tall glamazon who is rich and famous and in movies.

But that's OK. I'm normal. Like a celebrity. On the teevee!

And that's pretty good learnin' for a Vacation Day. Right?

Posted by laurie at 4:29 PM

October 6, 2005

LOST recap! With visual aids!!

Here is a not-very-accurate recap of last night's LOST episode, in which my cats act out a few key scenes. They're such big fans of the show, even though Sobakowa is always yammering on and on about how the HELL does Kate look so fine and perfect when it's been 48 days without a shower or tweezers. She's just being catty. That is her way.

To complement this STUNNING visual re-enactment, might I also suggest a visit to Chase's website, where he provides richly textured stick figure recaplets as well.

LOST: The Cat Version

LOST: The Cat Version

LOST: The Cat Version

LOST: The Cat Version

LOST: The Cat Version

Posted by laurie at 12:57 PM

October 5, 2005

More Reader Q & A. Then I have some Q, OK?

Reader Q: What happened to the blue sparkly hat you were making for Laina?

My A: Uh, I finished it. I sort of didn't count my gauge right, though and the hat? That's supposed to fit a human person? Could fit Giagantisaurus. So... the sparkle hat has been in a ziploc bag marinating in itself. I should probably rip it out but mohair is such a pain in the butt to rip. And it's not just mohair, it's mohair that I stranded with some fancy eyelash stuff. Perhaps some man-slave would like to come to my house and rip this out for me? And then maybe do the dishes?

Also, I'd like to take a moment here to personally say OH MY GOD LAINA I am SO SORRY that I am the lamest email corresponder ever, and that since this heinous project began at work I have done nothing but work, making me totally dull and boring, and also as previously mentioned, A HORRIBLE EMAILER. But I do miss you! Miss you! Much!



Q: Speaking of EMAIL, who is Mystery Email Person and did you meet online and why did you not tell me all the details TELL TELL TELL MUST KNOW NOW.

A, Part 1: Hi! Hello! More cowbell? Please?
It's nothing, really. Just ... I got an email that made me realize I had never used this particular form of communication in any capaicty other than the following:
1) work
2) complaining to Jennifer about work
3) being the unwilling recipient of chain letters.

I had not realized there were even MORE ways of the techmology complicating my life. I thought for sure I'd reached the apex of complication when I had to program my TiVo.

A, part 2: Actually, I don't believe in Online Dating. Or really in dating at all (see: bitter shell of a human) but Online Dating just seems... not so much something that's for me. I know it works for some people, but I have to meet someone in person first, then critique their grammar later. (And also, for the record, me? Have you not met me? FOUR CATS. DIVORCED. KNITTING. DRINKS A LOT. Can you imagine my online dating ad? The veritable stampede of emails? Yeah. Right. Say it with me again: FOUR CATS.)

- - -

Q: Are you really in a book somewhere?

A: Annie Modesitt, knitting goddess and all-around superstar, recently published a book of essays called "Cheaper Than Therapy" and yes, I am now officially A PUBLISHED AUTHOR, and therefore MY HEAD IS SO BIG I CAN BARELY STAND MYSELF, in fact my ego has to ride shotgun, because me! In a book! A real book! I hope you'll buy many copies of Annie's book and give them to ... Oprah. Annie needs to be on Oprah and be the first ever knitting person to be book of the month, and also maybe she could jump on the couch and proclaim her love for Patons Up Country and they would bring it back. (Yes, I am still bitter and mad that Patons discontinued Up Country yarn. EVIL YARN MARKETING PEOPLE.) Does one have to convert to Scientology to keep the good yarn around? Or marry Katie Homes?

- - -

Q: Did you really quit smoking?

A: Yep. I quit cold turkey the day that Peter Jennings died. Haven't smoked since! As of October 3rd, that's two whole months smoke free. Unless you count the Valley being on fire and inhaling 20,000 acres of smoke.

- - -

Q: Shouldn't you change the tagline of your webpage since you're divorced now?

A: Ah. the cruel laws of California. I won't be officially divorced until sometime in December, so technically I am still married. That's right, married! Except my husband is ... maybe invisible. And evil. Moving on!

- - -

Q: I would love to hear your thoughts on Cracker Barrel and/or Southern food in general. Also, you are having a dinner party and can invite any seven people (living or dead), who would be on your guest list? -- Jenna from Ohio

A: I once drove all the way from Los Angeles to Yuma, Arizona to eat at a Cracker Barrel. I wish I were kidding you ... but I am dead serious. FROM LOS ANGELES TO YUMA ARIZONA. But I love the hashbrown casserole, what can I say? I love food, Southern fried food. I love it. And if the closest I can get is Cracker Barrel, and the closest Cracker Barrel is Yuma, Arizona, then sometimes these are the steps we have to take... HASHBROWN CASSEROLE YA'LL.

Seven people to a dinner party, eh? Sounds lame, but I'm kind of homesick for my family, and we could fill a table for 14. Oh! And can we do it at a Cracker Barrel? I know it's like the McDonald's of Southern food, but please? Anyone? Hashbrown casserole?

- - -

Last minute addional Q: Did you know someone on the Washington Post chat was copying your writing and using it in the chat as their own? Seen here. Posted by someone calling themselves "Neurotic Too." -- from Paula

A: Uh... I don't know. That wasn't me. That's weird. Whoever you are, please stop doing that... Jen is a lawyer almost. SHE WILL CUT YOU WITH HER LAWYER-LIKE SKILLS. Yo yo. Word to your mother.

- - -

And now I have some questions for you. Ok, really just one question. Do ya'll ever listen to podcasts? Or watch videos and stuff online? Or video podcasts? What kinds of things -- knitting-ish things -- would entice and enthrall ya'll enough to actually download a podcast thingy or audio file or video file? Do people really do that or is it just a big lie from techmology writers, like laserdisc and the metric system?

Just curious. Ahem.

Posted by laurie at 9:17 AM

October 4, 2005

Email Standard Time

Someone, please, for the love of God TAKE THE TECHMOLOGY AWAY FROM ME.

And the fact that I call it "the techmology" should tell you... I have issues.

Back when I was a single girl -- before I got married and had my soul sucked out and withered to a bitter shell of a human -- I used to go on dates. Like normal girls. And in this chess game we called "dating" there were rules about the telephone and when you could call, or expect a call, that were intricate and varied and full of loopholes. Kind of like tax law.

Being of good Southern stock, and having been schooled in the ways and means of Making Him Wait, Making Him Want More and (of course) Making Him Think It's Over But Really You're Just Making Yourself Unattainable So He Will Want To Attain You More, I knew how to use (or not use) the telephone properly.

And then I got married, and now I am about to disclose to you a teetiny factoid that will make you realize I am old, very old, and withered and my ovaries are practically petrified with age, ya'll. Because I was married before email became a well-accepted method of interpersonal communication. When I was a person who went on dates, THERE WAS NO EMAIL. And also, NO INTERNETS. They may have had internets in some places, maybe in cities, but I lived in the country and we had fishing nets, fishnets, and interbreeding. No internets.

So the ENTIRE time I have been acquainted with this thing we call The Email, I have been a Married Emailer. And, unlike my husband, I did not use email to find dates and flirt with members of the opposite sex, so I was unaware that there were Rules and also Regulations in Co-ed Email Correspondence, and now I am really kind of screwed because I CANNOT DO EMAIL TIMESTAMP MATH FOR COED EMAILING.

At work I try to answer the 37,342 emails I get each day in a timely fashion. When it comes to personal email correspondence, however, I kind of suck. There are some impediments to my personal email, such as:
1) my personal email is often blocked by the firewall at work
2) spam spamspamspam spam
3) I forget
4) I just answered 37, 339 emails at my job, and I am tired.
5) spam spam spam

And so in my life, email has been an annoying neccesity, kind of like voicemail or health insurance or tampons.

It has not been a way to... you know. Get to know someone better.

It just never occurred to me. See? Since there was no electronic writing component of my dating years. Now, in this crazy modern world with all the techmology, let's say you meet someone. And you don't just swap phone numbers. No. You share email addresses, too. And then there is some email, and then you realize ya'll are maybe not emailing just because it is the most expedient method of communication but that ya'll are GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER and there are probably rules, because Lord knows men cannot handle a Woman Who Emails Too Much (Note to self: check self-help aisle for email issues books).

So you -- not me of course -- YOU call your best friend, who is younger and cuter and a better emailer, and your best friend schools you in Email Standard Time Rules & Regulations, and you listen, you do! But then you kind of think rules are stupid and you go off and reply immediately, like a ... like a ... YANKEE or something. (Sorry. No! Really, that was wrong. I had run out of similes. Send hate mail to yankees-do-email-better@crazyauntpurl.com.)

Just how on earth do people handle all the pressure to NOT respond to an email immediately when maybe it was the first email all day that did not involve one or more of the following: some part of your project breaking, some SVP asking for more cowbell, an intern who is an Accounting major offering you (the Art Director) some "helpful color suggestions" for a logo or -- my personal favorite -- someone needing a whole website design in the next 15 minutes. Maybe the Good Email From The Opposite Sex Person was the only message out of 37,342 that made you not want to eat your own hand. Maybe having to wait the amount of time elapsed since he responded to your last email before you can respond makes you want to staple things to your coworkers. Maybe you DO NOT HAVE THE PATIENCE TO PLAY THIS STUPID GAME.

Or maybe you have issues, and you should back slowly away from the keyboard.


Posted by laurie at 12:39 PM

October 3, 2005

October 2005 Hor-O-Scopes!

Mmmmmm.... fun size snickers. I love October. Except... HOLY CRAP IT'S OCTOBER ALREADY. I'm still kind of stuck back in July. Snickers, anyone?

- - - -

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 - Feb. 18)
Yes, it's true. It's October ALREADY. Luckily for you there are a bunch of really technical things going on in your chart that I won't bore you with. But they're Good Things, as Martha would say. Travel things. Telephone things. Exciting things. You think that time is speeding up, and we're traveling too quickly toward some unknown destination. But really, all the phone calls and possibilities of this month -- now and forever known to you as ROCKTOBER!!! -- are going to make you very happy and pleased with yourself by month's end. Accept all invitations, and be gregarious. And can I say it just one more time? ROCKTOBER!!!!

PISCES (Feb. 19 - March 20)
My cousin Angie worked on a chicken farm for waaaaay too many years. And she told me many chicken stories, all of which were too boring and gross to repeat here. Anyway, she worked at ye olde feather palace for one reason: MONEY. Needless to say, Angie is not a Pisces. You Pisces are way too artsy and creative to take a job JUST for the money, it hurts your little heart too much. The past few months have been kind of on the lean side, financially speaking, but the planets and stars are now aligning in the House of Dead Presidents and October is Pisces' month for green. Green! No chickens will be involved, either. You can take that to the bank and smoke it.

ARIES (March 21- April 19)
Confession time. I totally hate writing the Aries hor-o-scope each month because of Mr. X, an infamous Aries. Each month, I secretly hope to look at the charts and see that Aries will be involved in a freak monkeypox epidemic, TOO BAD SO SAD. But I'm trying really hard to turn my bitter psychic frown upside down, so I will start October by 1) making the aforementioned confession and 2) assuming that Mr. X, being an alien, is not really an Aries after all and ergo 3) I can now tell you your forecast without the monkeypox element. Here goes: You have two big eclipses this month, both are super lucky and bode well for luck, happiness and relationships. Lots of smiling! Lots of happiness! Good things all around you! Except for Mr. X. WHO IS EXCLUDED FROM THE GOODNESS. Ok?

TAURUS (April 20 - May 20)
October is sort of the trailer-trash month of the year, when black cats are spooky and black fishnets are tres chic. You don't need to be over-cautious this year -- what you went through last fall is absolutely not going to repeat itself unless you allow it. Yes, I am totally psychic, OK? See, history teaches us things. Like how people can be stupid and make bad decisions and haunted houses are fake. Fake I tell you! That plate of squishy stuff is not brains! The real brains are in your head, where your desion-making skills are. And you now make good decisions, and you will be rewarded for this in the next four weeks. Fishnets optional.

GEMINI (May 21 - June 21)
Have you ever wondered why we paint our cars such drab colors -- tan, mauve, khaki, maroon? It's all blah blah blah. Very un-Gemini. If you were a car, you'd be driving through October as BRIGHT NEON MAGENTA or maybe smooth cosmic orange. You'd have as many colors as there are trendy martini names, and you're so HOT PINK all month, no one can resist your charms. Everyone wants a look at Gemini. You're ON FIRE all of October, which is kind of nice, right? Unless you're a real car, and then being on fire would be maybe not so good.

CANCER (June 22 - July 22)
FINALLY. The stars and planets and the moon and all that other junk swirling around our cosmos is aligning just so, making October a really neat-o-fragilistic month for Cancerians. We'll be pretty, and happy, and -- say it isn't so! -- we'll be tentatively optimistic. I don't know about ya'll, but I'm already feeling better, even though I'm sort of pissed off that it's October already and I'm not yet prepared for Fall, and holidays, and so on. The little frisson of discontentment with time rapidly marching over me is just a teeny blip on the radar of a pretty damn good month. I AM SO READY FOR A GOOD MONTH. And I said to the universe "Give us happiness! We need it!" and the universe responded with, "All right! Stop your whining! Happy! Happy! Happy it is!"

LEO (July 23 - August 22)
Healthy self-expression and obsessive exhibitionism are two entirely different things. Don't get carried away with flaunting your backside now that you have this sudden infusion of self-confidence. Your influence and power grows exponentially when infused with self-restraint. No need to bulldoze over the rest of us in the zodiac just because you're feeling particularly brilliant. Better to let us learn from your genius ways than despise your bossy pointers.

VIRGO (August 23 - Sept. 22)
There was a young Virgo who lived in a shoe, she liked to go shopping and so do you. Beware of Visa, and MasterCard, too, overcharging right now is the worst thing to do! Save your receipts and keep an eye on your cash, and you'll be happy once October has passed. But if you go shopping and spending and buying, within a few weeks you'll be moaning and crying. And although this rhyme was really pathetic, by October's end you'll completely forget it.

LIBRA (Sept. 23 - Oct. 23)
Never underestimate the power of creative slouching. Slouch well, and slouch often, that's my motto. But no loafing, or dull dissection of every boring day-to-day detail. You've been wearing the creativity condom for far too long, better to just be done with it, rip it off! Let yourself be impregnated with vitality! And music and painting and dancing and singing! By the way, we're talking in metaphors here, so don't go getting frisky without proper protection ... you're also kind of virile this month. Hey, don't blame the messenger... I just call it as I read it. Also, thank God neither of my parents is a Libra, and they'll totally never read this somewhat risque astrological forecast. Whew.

SCORPIO (Oct. 24 - Nov. 21)
Depression is interesting only because it's such a powerfully artistic experience. It can be a way for you to figure some serious stuff out, like who you are, and why you ponder your navel as you do. It's not always fun to be the serious one, but I think this weighty, ponderous Scorpio stuff can be really sexy, especially around the holidays. In October, indulge your sweet tooth with copious Halloween candy and just pretend to be in the mood. November kicks off a new Scorpio cycle, and all this gloom and doom stuff will wrap up by month's end. November is just the beginning of the Scorpio ME Decade, albeit a decade that lasts only about a year.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21)
This whole cycle of procrastinating and readying yourself and waiting for your life to begin needs to stop, and stop right now. IT IS TIME. There won't be another tomorrow that's better than today, so do something with your life! Make a list of ten things you have been dreading (like calling for a dentist appointment or getting your oil changed). Make a commitment to get all ten things crossed off during the month of October. Then reward yourself with one big fat selfish day where you indulge your every whim, preferably on the 30th.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19)
If you don't go out and have at least one wild night of hedonism and fun this month, I'll just give up on you. Stop feeling so self-conscious and in control, it's all a sham and we can all see through it, so there. We like you because you're smart and funny and real. So stop trying to know everything. You can't possibly know it all, take it from me -- I KNOW IT ALL ALREADY. I suggest mini-golf, with lots of cheating. Or silly hats. Or Jell-O for breakfast. This is October -- Halloween! Have some fun, why don't you? Fun! Have fun fun fun 'til your daddy takes the T-bird away!

Posted by laurie at 4:28 PM