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February 28, 2006

I See Wet People.

While the rain has all but stopped, traffic in the city is still suffering post-traumatic driving disorder. And when you spend so much time in traffic, you maybe begin to scrutinize your knitting. And the slight "I don't love this stitch" feeling you had about your little scarf intensifies, and before long you think, "I am going to be trapped on this bus forever and I don't know what stitch I want to use and I am HUNGRY and also... eeeeew. The bus smells."

So, well into hour numero dos of my bus ride yesterday evening, I decided to test out a new stitch pattern on my other skein of this lovely Blue Sky bulky yarn (do you think I keep ripping and re-knitting because I love the yarn so much and don't want it to end? Good thing March starts tomorrow, and with a new month the yarn budget begins anew. Amen.)

But... there was just a slight hitch in my giddyup. I was not carrying my normal knitting bag full of normal knitting gear, and I had only my yarn and my one pair of needles. In possibly my proudest knitting moment to date, I channeled MacGyver and created what may be the butt ugliest stitch holder consisting of one red felt tip pen and two mismatched hair clips:

Hey. Whatever works.

The pattern I was using to knit the scarf up until then was a basic cast on eight, knit the very first and very last stitch of each row, and in between do a yarnover, knit two together. That stitch worked great on a recent scarf I made, but I think I just had a different idea for how I wanted this scarf to look, less poufy and more nubby (um, those are technical terms. Poufy and nubby.) Plus, I'm planning to wear this one in Paris (it's going to be COLD! and even if it isn't cold by European standards, I have prissy Los Angeles weather coldness standards. Ya'll know.) and I wanted a less airy fabric.

So, now I am using a modified seed stitch, a pattern Ellen showed me several months ago, and I like it because it's basically a modified Magic Scarf. I cast on ten stitches, then: knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2, knit 2.

On the next row you do the opposite: purl 2, knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2. So you have two rows of magic-scarf-ish looking stockinette chunks, or at this point it could even become a ribbed scarf. But on the next two rows, I mix it up with a: purl 2, knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2 ... and then knit 2, purl 2 blah blah blah and you get this:


I am not a fast knitter by any means, so you know traffic is bad when I get home with a scarf that's already knitted through one whole skein of yarn!


I'm really happy with it now, I think the color of the yarn looks good with the texture of the stitch. I'm thinking when it's done I'll block it like no tomorrow and then add some long fringe. Hello, my name is Laurie and I am a scarf knitter. And re-knitter. And, um, re-re-knitter!


Posted by laurie at 9:57 AM

February 27, 2006

Somewhere in Los Angeles, someone is calling in sick because of the weather.


Will Starbucks have to open the patio umbrellas before noon? Will there be a run on anti-frizz hair products? Will cars be ravaged by droplets of water? Will Laurel Canyon be closed? Will it pre-empt Oprah for breaking news? Will I be stuck in traffic for eleventeen hours this evening?

It's all anyone can talk about. "I thought I saw a few raindrops!" "Is it going to rain?" "Have you heard if it's going to rain tonight or during rush hour?" "Maybe I should cut out early today." "I can't believe it looks like it might rain!"

Los Angeles = crazy.

The rain out here is like a personal insult, as if a cruel, naturally-frizz-free God were only out to ruin your shoes, your perfect blow-dry or the wax job on your car. If you commute, then you believe the rain is a personal affront to your livelihood and you're so pissed off about it that you drive even worse than usual. I tell ya'll these things, so that you understand Los Angeles isn't all sunshine and movie stars. We have our hardships.

Today's rain is big news -- even though technically it's just overcast with 15 seconds of sprinkles somewhere on the Westside. No matter! All the networks will start their news with "Storm Watch 2006" and traffic will be insane. If I ever decide to assimilate to the Los Angeles Borg and write a screenplay, my script will be a horror movie based in L.A. called "Sig Alert." Nobody I know can define "sig alert" and I'm not sure what one is either, but if you hear there's one on the 405 that means "hang out at Starbucks for an hour until it goes away." If it's raining, a sig alert means "go home and lock the doors."

On the upside, this would be a great day to visit Disneyland. That is, if you make it there intact.

In non-storm-related news:

On Saturday night, Faith hosted a small gathering at her place in West Hollywood. It was one of the best nights I've had in a long time! When I first learned to knit, it was simply because I needed an activity to keep me busy and focused on not becoming batshit crazy or drunk dialing you-know-who. I had no idea it would lead to a whole new group of friends, women who I adore, women who are smart and funny and who, at a Wine 'n Twine night such as this, talk about the following topics in no specific order:

Hippie communes
Panty selection at Target
Places we may move and form a compound of coolness
Real estate
Knitting shops
The effect of internet porn on men's unrealistic expectations for women and for themselves
The Wizard of Bras
The overt effects of media on young women
Logan's Run
Made-for-TV movies of the 1980s
Afterschool specials
... and so much more.

Truly, how can you not love women with such a broad mix of conversation topics? Faith made The. Most. Amazing food ever, all bite-sized finger foods right out of a 1950s Perfect Hostess book, and we drank wine and knitted and talked and it was a perfect evening.

Plus, Justin came to the party to give 15-minute chair massages to us lucky ladies, and I am here to tell you ... if you have a party and you want to make every invitee VERY HAPPY, invite Justin and his massage chair. He's an amazing massuese (masseur? I have no idea) and I think I proposed to him and tried to sexually harrass him. Twice.

[click for larger pics]
Faith makes the mini-cheesecakes that were AMAZING.
I ate many mini cheesecakes.

L-R: Allison, who owns Super Crafty, and Shannita from
A Mano Yarns talk shop. Jane smiles pretty for the camera.

Sarah looks so happy! Allison and Justin check out Faith's
pattern in the new Stitch 'n Bitch crochet book. Go Faith!!

I started a scarf at the party out of some snuggly soft Blue Sky Bulky yarn (50% alpaca, 50% wool) and I actually got a fair amount knitted, which is not normal for me when I'm at a party since I tend to spend all my time visiting. But I ended up ripping the whole thing out on the bus this morning because it was too wide and I was going to run out of yarn before I finished. I have two skeins of this yarn and I can't justify buying another skein because at $16.60 a hank, this is already quite a splurge for a scarf. Maybe one day when I am stinking rich and rolling naked in money, I will be less spendthrifty. Maybe.

Anyway! Here we have still life with beginning (again) of scarf and Rainy Los Angeles... with no rain! No rain yet. But I'm sure doom is on its way. I feel the frizz coming on.

[click for larger pics]

Posted by laurie at 10:04 AM

February 25, 2006

Wine and late nights and writing do not mix.

Tonight I went to the grocery store after work, it was a long day, a long week, everything moving so fast at my job and all around me, almost like I'm stuck in time or molasses trying to catch up with the whole world. Everyone just a step ahead.

The Trader Joe's parking lot was packed, but I got a spot as soon as I pulled in (I have good parking karma to make up for my distinct lack of actual driving karma. Carma?) I had the windows down on the Jeep even though it wasn't hot, because I just do that sometimes. The wind is so good when the music is loud.

And I bought blackberries, they looked ripe and fresh, and stuff for a quick dinner then one last-minute purchase: cabernet. I haven't been drinking much at all, but tonight...? It just looked good. I rationalized the price, "It's organic wine." I pulled my buggy up in line with all the other eleventeen hundred Los Angeles people at the store on a Friday night (no one but me says "buggy," though.) I saw him, I mean I saw him even before we got in line, because we were standing in the frozen foods aisle at the same time and he turned just so and looked at me, caught me right in the eye (even though I prefer to look away).

So when I got in line, I knew it was him behind me even before he asked me, "Have you tried that wine before? Is it any good?" Like he was interested. In the wine.

But when I get nervous, my accent gets real thick, I hate it. Then he says "Where are you from?" It sounds like such a teeny question but it's loaded. People from out here have all these ideas about where I'm from, and besides I've lived here longer than any other one place. And it puts me just a little on the defensive, because this is why I tried real hard to lose my accent to begin with. Except, now that I'm trying to be very honest about who I am (and who I am not) it's pointless to hide it and also, why am I feeling on the defensive? Probably just nerves. I got so used to being rejected by my own husband that having someone follow me to the checkout lane is making me feel ... ? Suspicious, I think. And a little anxious, and secretly happy because he's cute and buying vitamins.

I'm putting the bag into my car and he walks up to me and hands me his business card, or something, and he says, "if you ever wanted to... or, I mean, if you're not... married? I'm Scott..." and I just stood there, like an idiot, and I was baffled. It wasn't until I got home that I realized I had dropped the card in the parking lot, because I was so unhinged, maybe? And then anyway, it was so strange, because he went back inside the store. I guess to finish shopping.

I have no idea how to handle myself now. Single is hard after married. I want to be good at it, but I'm awkward and scared. Like I'm just one step behind everyone else. Stuck in time or molasses.

Posted by laurie at 12:08 AM

February 24, 2006

May the circle be unbroken.

A reader recently asked for some information on knitting in the round. With all the emotional binge-purge going on around this here website, knitting in the round seems like a perfect topic to cap off a week of budgeting, reviling 80s fashion, daydreaming about music, bad poetry, technology gone wrong, then right, and generally surprising myself with what appears to be some repressed anger at a certain ex-husband. What could possibly be next besides knitting? Really!

I love knitting in the round because you can get perfect, pretty stockinette stitches with just the knit stitch. Yes, you can. I would not lie to you. And I love it because I can do it while hanging out with my friend Tivo without messing up (much). Just knit, knit, knit! Plus, the cats aren't sitting around ready to pounce on the ends of circular needles like they do with straight needles.

To knit in the round, you need to have a set of double-pointed needles OR use circular knitting needles. Circulars are the needles that look like midget knitting needles attached to each other by an umbilical cord of plastic, or sometimes the cord is metal.


With circular needles you will see two measurements on the package, one is needle size (for example, a size 10 knitting needle) and the other measurement is inches, telling you the length of the cord that connects your needles. [Correction! The measurement tells you how long the whole circular needle contraption is from tip-to-tip. Thanks Margot!]

Double-pointed needles are like mini javelins, pointed on both sides. The concept is the same for both types of needle. But ya'll. Really. If you're starting a "knit in the round" project for the first time, start with the circulars! So. much. easier.

Let's assume you're going to make a knitted Easy Roll-Brim Hat. In just... uh, 20 simple steps. Heh.

You want to start with circular needles, and you'll change to double points once the hat starts narrowing towards the finish line. You need the shortest length of plastic cord attaching the two midget needles, right? Because hats are not supposed to be 300 inches wide. A 16" needle will be perfect for casting on the brim of your hat.

Cord length is confusing and tricky sometimes, because you may have to switch to longer needles or shorter ones depending on projects you may be knitting, but there's lots of great information on the web about stuff like magic loops and probably gnomes, too. But since I'm a simple girl, with barely the basics for Remedial Knitting 101, I'm sticking with my circular needle for most of the hat and switching to duoble pointed needles (called dpns) when the hat gets smaller. I think it's good practice for using dpns, and I kind of like them, they make me feel like I'm doing Extreme Knitting.

If you use a circular needle whose cord is too long for your project, it can stretch the yarn in wonky ways.

The yarn I'm using for this little photo shoot is Cascade Yarns "Magnum" (hee... Magnum!) in color #9478, a.k.a. "Pepto." It's a super-bulky 100% Peruvian Highland wool and the fine folks at Stitch Cafe wound it up for me into the world's largest yarn cake, which I was apparently dorkified and obsessed about showing ya'll.

(click for bigger images):

The first time I knitted in the round I had all kinds of issues. So of course, this is the perfect place for a list!

1) Is casting on different?
No, not really. You cast on using one of the midgety ends of your circular (ya'll, I am so getting hate mail for using the word "midget" like eleventeen times, whoops!) and just try to be careful when casting on that you do it loosely. Loose women cast on to midget needles! Film footage at ten!



2) How do you join the yarn? What the hell is joining anyway? Where do you place a marker? Does the marker get knitted in?

Ha! My questions exactly! (No, really. These are my own questions.) I really wondered when I first started knitting in the round, does the stitch marker get knitted in? Scary!

But it's not scary really. No, the stitch marker does not get knitted in. And starting is easy. You just cast on your stitches like normal, then when you are all done casting on, you hold the needle with the very first stitch you cast on in your LEFT hand.

The needle with the very last cast-on stitch (and the yarn tail leading to your ball of yarn) goes in your RIGHT hand.

Still with me?

The plastic cord thing should be sticking out away from you, not toward your chest. Look down at all your stitches, make sure they are all nice and even with the knot part hanging down (this is what they mean when they say "make sure your stitches are not twisted). Put a stitch marker on your right-hand needle, just hanging there. It gets scooted from one needle to another on the next round. Finally, stick the right-hand needle tip into that stitch on your left hand needle and knit on. That joins the whole mess.




3) The join looks sloppy, what can I do to make it nicer?
I hope lots of ya'll post answers to this one, because I got some good advice in the past on this -- my joins always look sloppy -- but then my email crashed and everything has been erased prior to like December 21, and so, really. I know ya'll have nicer joins than me. And you want to post here and tell us all how to do it. Right? Carry on!

4) Why does it matter which way the plastic cord thing sticks out?
Glad you asked! (I'm now talking to myself, not a good sign.)
Hold the needles with the plastic cord away from you. If you hold it the other way, with the needles away from you and the cord near your boobage, you'll be knitting inside out. Which I have done many a time. Luckily, it's an easy fix on a hat ... after you knit a few rows, you turn it rightside out. It happens.

5) What do they mean when they say "do not twist your stitches"? Why is this a big deal?
Ah, that damn U.S. Department of They. Always telling us what to do. But the thing is, if your stitches are wrapping around the plastic tube all twisty, your knitted item will be twisty and you will have to rip. It's ugly. Take it from me, A Cautionary Tale.

6) Should I start with any particular brand of circular needle?
I'm about to tell ya'll something that will have me crucified in knitland, but I actually prefer my cheapy bamboo clover circs (see how we go with the knitting lingo? circs? as if I were down with the knitting YO YO) (help me) anyway! focus! I prefer the bamboo needles to the mucho expensivo Addi turbo metal ones. Why? Am I nuts? Perhaps.

You see, I knit on the bus and those Addis are so slippery! Plus, I am a very tight knitter, with my stitches way down on the tips of my needles, and with the Addis the stitches just seem to jump right off every time we hit a pot hole on the freeway. And this is Los Angeles, our entire freeway system is held together with pot holes.

So, hopefully that's just enough to get you over the scary "circular knitting sounds complicated" hump. (I said 'hump' and 'midget' and 'magnum' in this column, so right about now we send out a hearty welcome to all ya'll who are here wondering where the porn is. Hi! No porn! Hope you like yarn!) Knitting in the round is really not that complicated, because I can do it with a cat on my lap and while simultaneously drooling over Sayeed, or Jack, or Sawyer or whoever is available at the time.

Just don't drool on woool. It felts.


Posted by laurie at 8:37 AM

February 23, 2006

Rhyming never goes out of style.

One boss hopping mad,
One cat sick, I'm sad.
One ipod broken (again)
and one zit on my skin.

Technology hating on me,
Nothing new, ya'll will agree.
I can break damn near anything.
Also, I cannot sing.

Had my headphones on my ears
(not with broken pod, so sad, much tears)
Listening to a little groove,
My boss caught me busting a move.

I still prefer limericks to poetry
That's how I roll, ghetto me.
Found some place I'd rather be
Paris, at night, 360 degrees!


Posted by laurie at 12:21 PM

We lied.

This Living Out Loud Thing was a new concept for me, a girl full of secrets, ashamed of being poor as a kid, with a checkered background, too much imagination. You just want to be so normal when you've had a crazy life. When I first met Mr. X, he lied about his age. It was the beginning, you know, of lies and secrets and all of it.

Lying is so powerful, it's so easy, you can slip into it easy as that. Trim a few years off your age, add a few dollar signs to your income, say you're not married.

He did. And then I did, too.

He made it so easy. I don't blame him. I need to tell you that when you're hiding from yourself, you say the untruths. You lie. It takes no encouragement. Finding a willing partner just adds fuel to the fire.

I'm walking a fine line these days, Living Out Loud is so much easier and harder than I expected. Someone emails me, and instead of telling them some bullshit story about... my hair? I tell them, no uncertainty, about the day when I was 13 and alone with angst, painting in my bedroom. Calling in to a radio station, it's a story that involves teenage awkwardness and joy division. Painful honesty. Or I tell ya'll what it feels like every day to be more divorced by the minute. I stop lying about my age, the smoking, and yeah I got four cats what of it? I write in curse words and talk about my love affair with wine, which some of ya'll think is addiction, but I know it's sadness and boredom because to live out loud is to say "I self-medicate, I eat, I drink wine. I am alive." I am not an addict, but I do love a good hearty cabernet with my whine. You can have a love affair with anything.

Hard-won truth.

I do not know who I married. He hid himself from me, the woman who slept beside him for a decade. When a man leaves his wife with no explanation, some bullshit, 'I need to get my creativity back,' it strips you of your value. Because he's saying "Anything would be better than you. You suck the life out of me. I want anything that isn't this." Well, fuck you. I want something better, too.

Advice: Men, if you leave your wives, tell them it was for another woman, a man, a career, a dream. Give a reason. We can explain away a reason, a woman, "Oh, he must like dark-haired women, flat chested, he's gay, God only knows. But he wanted this one other thing..." because lying to me, leaving me like this, made me question every goddamn thing about myself. It stole my self-esteem. And I am well and very pissed off about it.

Living Out Loud is hard. But it's worth it, because if you stop lying ("He left." Do you know how hard it is to say those words? To admit failure? To be flawed?) you can sigh, you can shrug, you can know that one true thing is good enough, that you're honest and it's enough. You have four cats. You drink wine. You fail and pick up the pieces. You love with abandon, honest love. You're hurt, but you're not bitter. Bitter implies a life without truth, and you live out loud. It's harder and yet easier than you ever imagined.

You keep on keeping on.

Posted by laurie at 12:04 AM

February 22, 2006

An Open Letter

Dear Higher Power,

If you're out there, please hear my prayer. I beg of you, don't let the 1980s come back in style.

You see, Higher Power, a few weeks ago, my friend Drew forwarded me an email from some designery-fashiony email list he's on, and apparently the editors of Vogue declared the 1980s "Back In Business!"

I promptly ignored it.

But lately I have noticed a disturbing trend in my fashion magazines, where it appears as if the blue eyeshadow, flat hair and sad fashion of the 1980s is coming back. It's very disconcerting (except for the blue eyeshadow ... love me some blue eyeshadow!) because that decade of horrifying, flammable style, if it can be called style, happened only a few years ago! A mere blip on the fashion timeline. If we let the 80s come back now, it will set a terrible precedent for fashion revival -- we'll have to re-live the 90s grunge period in just three years. And who wants to start wearing flannel again? I mean REALLY.

I know you are a kind and benevolent Higher Power, and you will understand how awful I look in perms and power suits ... especially if you're a female, which I'm banking on here. Bringing back the fashion of the eighties is a mistake for more reasons than I can comfortably list in a simple prayer, but let me try:

Those blouses that tie at the neck. Ruffles. The pouf skirt. Parachute pants. Acid wash. The BeDazzler. Multiple belts from Rave and rubber bracelets. Big ol' dangly earrings that stretch out your earlobes and get caught in your hair. Members Only jackets. The unfortunate combination of pink and lime green. Tucking jeans into your socks. Stretch lace. The mullet. Super-short haircuts encrusted in mousse. Airbrushed T-shirts. Michael Jackson's rhinestoned glove. Collars that stand up. Chaka Khan's hair, for God's sake! (Sorry about the name in vain thing. Whoops.) Have mercy on us all!

Clearly, I'm just one mortal and I can't tell you what to do, O Higher Power. But if you could see to it, in your divine wisdom, that the fashion of the 1980s is not resurrected, you would be saving humankind from acid wash jeans and muscle shirts! Together we can ensure a world safe for children, with no fear of gaucho pants or jumpsuits. Please, I beg of you! We're just not ready to resurrect the eighties. It could send shockwaves of disgust reverberating throughout the world of popular fashion for seasons to come. And, frankly, I just don't look good in shoulder pads. Will you consider it?

The One Who Hasn't Been To Confession In 16 Years

Posted by laurie at 10:32 AM

February 21, 2006

Dead Presidents Day

Bob is unaware that the budget calls for cutbacks in poopage.

Last week, Oprah did a show all about Americans and debt. According to the experts on her program, 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck (meaning you have no more than two weeks of money saved up at any given time).

Seventy percent is a lot of Americans.

So Oprah challenged people to go on a Debt Diet (here's a link to the Debt Diet on her website), and I was really excited about this show from seeing the promos, and I Tivod the episode and watched it while walking to nowhere on my treadmill (a treadmill which I admit I bought with a charge card. Whoops.) (But! Best purchase ever!)

Ya'll know I've written before about money, and my challenges with budgeting. (Here's my List Of Stuff I've Learned So Far and also, the original post in which I unveil The Budget.)

Money is a particularly loaded subject for women because we have been socialized to believe that we need a man, someone to provide for us and take care of us, a general subconscious notion that we are secondary. Taking charge of your financial destiny does not appear as a liner note in Cinderella or Snow White. Though, seriously, if Cinderella had gone out and gotten a J-O-B instead of sweeping up after the evil stepsisters and talking to the woodland birds, she could have been living in her own apartment and had a credit card or two of her own. I'm just saying.

Mr. X did some rather shady moving around of money before he announced he was leaving, and he put a significant amount of debt in my name before he bothered to inform me of the impending doom. After the ink was dry and things were final, I could have complained or cried or ignored my massive debt. I have done that in the past. But I have to tell ya'll, maybe my proudest moment of all this divorce stuff was making a decision to take hold of my money and do it right. I made that budget and I was sticking to it come hell or high water or car repairs. Making a plan to attack my debt and live my life was freedom. It felt like ownership, like honesty, like a future. I am very proud of that. (I am not proud of drunk dialing him on my own birthday or of the night I told my life story to a clerk at 7-11. Ya'll know. It happens.)

When I was in college, I got two credit cards (DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER) and in my teeny, sorority-infused brain, plastic was just like a present. Free! For me! Before long I was knee-deep in debt and I was horribly irresponsible. (Dad. Hi! Please stop reading now. I'm about to say things that will scare you. Bye! Thank you!)

My debt got to a place where I... just did not pay it. I would... maybe throw away statements. Yes. I THREW AWAY STATEMENTS. As if that would make them go away. Ha! Before long, there were phone calls. And after a while, it's sort of comforting, and also really fucking pathetic, when you are on a first name basis with Enrique from Discover.

Enrique: Hi, Laurie! It's Enrique from Discover. I see you had a birthday last week. Happy Birthday!

Me: Hi Enrique, thanks! How's your mama and them?

So yes, taking charge of your money is HUGE. According to the experts on this episode of the Oprah show, the first step is to find out what you owe. Put it all on paper and add it up. Then begin a plan to reduce your debt. Finally, cut your spending. I know I can do a lot better in the "cut your spending" department (Whole Foods, I love you. But damn you are expensive.) and this trip to Paris is not exactly a prudent budgetary move.

But overall, I am making serious progress on my finances and I'm telling you this because just a year and a half ago, I had NO IDEA where my money was going. I let my husband do all the money managing (and you see how well that worked out.) I was oblivious to my cell phone plan, my cable bill, how high the interest rates were on my credit cards. I couldn't have told you diddlysquat about my financial future. I owed Peter, Paul, Mary, K-Ci and JoJo. I was one of the 70% of Americans who were a paycheck away from me and the cats and all my shoes living in a brokedown Jeep. Cozy!

It isn't easy. I had to give up a few things, cut some corners. But it is SO WORTH IT. If I can do this, believe me -- anyone can get a handle on their money. I'm putting a link to The Budget spreadsheet in the sidebar, not because it's the best tool online for managing your money, and, uh, not because it's a knitting pattern, but because it's simple and it's pink and you have a line item for yarn. I can't tell you how happy and grown-up and satisfied I felt when I watched that Oprah show and realized I was doing the very things the experts on TV recommended. I know exactly what I make and what I owe, I know where every dime goes, I bring my lunch to work, I cut my spending, yes I bought a treadmill on a credit card, but I paid for it within a month. I still have big debts, but I'm whittling them down each paycheck with a plan I can live with.

When my husband left, I thought I would break in two. Instead, I somehow managed to keep on keeping on... and in there somewhere I became a girl who is financially self-supporting, who knows how to handle her money. I'm not perfect, I do still occassionally buy a large piece of exercise equipment on credit, but overall I'm the one running this show instead of any man, whether it's Mr. Ex or Enrique from Discover.

Not too shabby!

Posted by laurie at 10:31 AM

February 17, 2006

Cats Gone Wild


So, the cats are very and well pissed off at a certain human. Who is me. Let's start with Roy because he is the most obvious and also most full of hatred of all the cats.

Roy hates medication. He wants to hide from it, but this is a small house and the hiding places are limited. How an 11-year-old (or maybe older, we do not know) cat managed to shimmy ALL THE WAY up the window screen to the very ceiling of my house is a mystery. Yet, that Roy. He managed.

He fully and with renewed strength gives me all kinds of terror when I try to medicate him twice a day. Because, ya'll, this cat will probably cost me a million dollars to keep alive and I have permanent scars from the scratching, but by God he is one-quarter of my divorce settlement and HE WILL LIVE FOREVER. Whoops, sorry for the bitter. So, anyway, he has really discovered how strong he is and likes to show me as we spray pink medicine across the bathroom floor twice a day.

Why wasn't I born a dog person? Dogs seem easier. You can put them in the yard.

But the most fun of all is when Roy gets me back for all the torture he must endure. Which is when I am sleeping. He seems to know exactly when I have just fallen off to sleep, finally, and chooses this very moment to exercise his PSYCHOSIS, by the following:

1) meowing. a lot.
2) playing trampoline on my stomach
3) nipping at my exposed arm with his one fang in manner of friendly sabretooth tiger
4) snorting loudly in my ear
5) headbutting me to get under the covers
6) when under the covers, making biscuits on any available exposed part of my body, which IS NOT COMFORTABLE
7) leaping out from under covers like the surprise guest in the middle of a cake

And generally driving me insane. All night.

So I made all the cats leave the room.
And I shut the door.

And apparently this did the following:

Convinced Roy that I am evil and must be destroyed. Or at least my shoes must be destroyed. He is So. Mad. At. Me. And also apparently mad at one lone sequined flip-flip which is now naked of all but six sequins.

The Great Door Closing Of 2006 was also endured with much suffering by Frankie, who whined outside the door forEVER. Which in turn made Bob very nervous. Which pissed off Sobakowa and she gave one of them the beat down to end all beat downs and then someone knocked over a lamp.

Ya'll. I need a vacation from these animals. March? Arrive soon. Please.

Posted by laurie at 10:23 AM

February 16, 2006

It's got a good beat and you can dance to it.

I read somewhere that a bad habit can be broken in three weeks. What happens during week #4? Does the bad habit return doubly re-energized from its vacation? Or does another Bad Habit begin to set up house and sleep in my bed?

This morning, I left my house for work when it was still dark and the moon was out. Wrong, so wrong. But I accomplished somewhere between .0002% and .0005% of my to-do list yesterday, and I have a software fix-it guy arriving in half an hour and yet the list! Keeps! Growing! (My to-do list is about 65 feet long, single spaced. In ten point type.)

So of course I am procrastinating by writing down complaints about said to-do list and making nostalgic playlists for my ipod. About half an hour ago, I pulled out a CD by the quintessential college band, Poi Dog Pondering. (I'm ripping CDs. Not on the to-do list.) Their music is generally upbeat and hippie-esque, and they wrote songs with catchy little titles like "Spending the day in the shirt you wore..." and "Living with the Dreaming Body." I listened to them reverently during the university years -- I even went to a few concerts where I was appropriately grungy and self-aware. The grunge time was not my favorite phase, since I have an overwhelming love of hair care products and a biological need to MasterCard, and often. I felt like I was a closet yuppie, hiding my trips to the mall like some kind of fetish. Anyway, I'm amazed how music is able to draw you right back to the past, to where you were when you used to listen to that same song, again and again.

Some people think your first music purchases say something about your personality. My first record was a 45, and it was technically a gift from my older brother. I think I was about 7 years old, and he gave me the single "Take This Job and Shove It," by Johnny Paycheck. If that isn't serendipity, I don't know what is. I believe that song marked my life, and I'm thinking of suing my brother. But I digress.

The first actual record I bought was also a 45 single, "I Love Rock & Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. The first album I ever bought... John Cougar. Jack & Diane, baby! My first casette tape... Midnight Starr (no parking on the dance floor, yo) but I soon redeemed myself for all the glitter eyeshadow by going on a U2 binge. I was convinced that if I could just meet Bono he'd fall in love with me and we could sing profound songs about racial inequity together. That is ... until I discovered Prince. My social consciousness went right out the window, and in came lip gloss and the tightest pair of Calvin Kleins in the neighborhood. Seems I have a curious addiction to funk, and there is no known cure.

Since I have no musical ability and have never even picked up an instrument (well, one time I picked up a guitar and handed it to its owner), I just don't exhibit signs of musical snobbery. Although that's pretty obvious, now that you know about the Midnight Starr thing ...

The software guy is here. Maybe I'll greet him with "I'll be your freak-a-zoid, c'mon and wind me up..."

Posted by laurie at 7:16 AM

February 15, 2006

More Reader Q&A (or "Yes, I am finally reading my email.")

(Part 37 in an ongoing series)

I promise this is not turning into some weird email-driven website, but I'm still in the happy-happy phase of having my email back and so on. If you emailed me something prior to... well, prior to probably last week and you never heard back, feel free to give me a holla (there I go with the ghetto slang! yo yo!) and please include your website address!! I have like two brain cells and can't remember my own website half the time.

It's rare that I actually ever catch up on anything, especially email, but I'm trying. (It would probably be easier and faster to actually write people back than to create all these damn links and picture-pop-ups, so uh. yeah. I may try that from now on.) I suck at basically all forms of correspondence, as I am a hermit in every sense of the word, however I am working on it and some time by the year 2017 I will be the penpal you can never get rid of. I will be blowin' up the email fo sho. (Also, keep in mind that this ghetto slang problem? Creeping into my daily lexicon. That's how I roll. SO WRONG.)


Dear Crazy Aunt Purl,
Happy Valentine's Day from thatfarmgirl and Henry!

[click pic for bigger]

Dear Farm Girl and Henry,
I need a dog!!

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Dear Crazy Aunt Purl,
You have inspired me to try the Magic Scarf. I just learned how to knit in January and I am OB-SESSED. I even have knitting dreams . . . dog has to go out, I say, “One more row.” And she pees on the floor. Anyhoo . . . I bought the Noro yarn (love it! I want to nuzzle it!) and I have a question. Did it really take just two skeins to knit nine feet of scarf? I don’t have any cool yarn stores in my area, so I order my yarn online. Small towns. *AND* did you use a row counter to keep track of your knitting? Am I that brain dead that I can’t keep track?

Thanks for the help. I need all I can get!

Hi Melissa!
I used Noro Big Kureyon for that nine-foot long monstrosity (that I foisted upon Drew when he was here visiting, hi Drew!). But for the other normal-sized scarf, in black regular Kureyon, it took me two skeins and it's perfect. I didn't use a row counter, I just guestimated after a while. I tried to be a real perfectionist with the knitting when I started, now I'm kind of like... eh. "It's handmade, part of its charm!" heh heh

Can't wait to see pics of your completed Magic Scarf!!

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Dear Aunt Purl,
I have a Knitting Question for you. I'm knitting in the round on DPN's (first stab at a sock). I'm doing K2 P2 ribbing, and while the stitches on what will be the outside of the sock look lovely, the knit stitches on the INSIDE of the sock are twisted. IE: as you look down the column of knitted stitches, the legs of each one twist to make the column of stitches look braided. Not an unpleasant look...but given that I am a sick and demented perfectionist, it bothers me. Can you tell me where I'm going wrong? It has to be something to do with the way I'm making my purl stitches when I do the P2 part of my K2P2 ribbing, right? I think that I'm just
generally purling wrong, because when I knit flat in stockinette, I have the same problem...all the stitches that I do on the purl row show up twisted. It's driving me bonkers!!

Take care,

Hi Shelby!
I have no idea on this one, but hopefully a reader can help you out. My guess is that if you have the same problem in flat stockinette knitting, there is something amiss with your purls. My favorite website for help on the fly is KnittingHelp.com, they have videos that show you how to do the fancy knitting. Check out the purling page for a look.

And hopefully someone will have insight they can post in the comments for you. Also, way to go on the sock knitting!!

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Ca va Crazy Aunt Purl!
I have a knitting question. I have just made a hat - and it's too damn big for my head! I don't get it. Do you know of anyway to shrink alpaca without felting it? I really love this stupid thing and want it to fit - but it won't be good all felted. Help?


Hi Mellie!
Unfortunately, I only know how to stretch stuff out, or felt it. But hopefully someone here can help you... I remember staring at the huge mushroom-head hat I made a while back and thinking, "Maybe I could sew it up?" but finally I just ripped it out and started again. So, so sad.

But alpaca! Yummy!

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Dear Laurie,
This is a picture of my house from the end of my driveway about 10 minutes ago. My DH must love me, since he painted my house Simply Coral with Cincinnatian Hotel Blue trim. And no, it's not blurry, it was blowing about 30 mph with snow. Also attached is the view from my house.
Trixie from Alaska

[click for bigger view!]

Dear Trixie,
I love your pink house!! The snow is scaring me a little bit, but that view is unbelievable. When can I come visit? (P.S. I am writing you back privately with the other info you asked for.)

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Hey Laurie, I've been lurking on your blog since last summer and I love it! This is actually a shameless plug/plea for help. Project "BUNDLE UP NEW ORLEANS" is collecting knit and crochet items for hurricane survivors here in New Orleans, and I was hoping that you could plug it on your blog. I live in New Orleans, and we could really use the help.


Kat Waller

Hi Kat!
No problemmo... I hope you get lots of happy homemade goodies for everyone. By the way, I had a dream the other night about crawfish etoufee and have not been able to get it out of my mind since!

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Dear Crazy Aunt Purl,
Thanks for your blog - It's good humor therapy for me. Because you say you can't resist a good pet photo - I've attached one. Also, if you or any of your readers want to send me a photo of their pet wearing a handknit - I would love to post them.
Kristi and Otis


Dear Kristi,
I support the Pets In Handknits movement! And I agree, more bloggers should post pictures of animals in handknits on a regular basis! Your Otis is so cute I could eat him up. Thanks for sharing!

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Hi Laurie,
I was hoping I could ask you for some travel advice. I've decided that I'll be using this years tax refund to travel abroad for the first time. I'm still undecided on the destination, but Ireland and France are both front runners. Could you recommend what websites are best to find cheap airfare and lodgings? Any other international travel suggestions? Thank you so much, I look forward to seeing what you recommend.

Dear Vanessa,
I am so glad you asked this!! I just recently discovered a travel search engine that I love love love. It's called Kayak.com, and you can do a regular travel fare search on their website OR you can do a Frappr-ized map-like search, where you basically say, "Hello, I have $500 and want to go somewhere in the world."

Try it:

Basic Kayak.com fare search
Fare Buzz: Cool Frappr-map-like travel search (So cool!)

Now, I don't think Kayak.com has the lowest fares, but it's a great place to poke around and the new map feature is awesome.

For really low fares, my favorite sites (in order of most-fav to least-fav) are:

1) CheapTickets.com
I buy from them more often than any other online ticketing agency. The site used to be more robust (I hated their last redesign) but they have great prices -- and you see the REAL price, including taxes and fees. You can also customize the homepage to display price alerts (I love that feature.)

2) Expedia.com
Easy-to-use, competitive prices, good service. I have used them many times with no problems. They also show the REAL price, which includes taxes and fees.

3) Orbitz
I like the Deal Detector, which can email you when prices are in the range you want -- you can also get this info displayed on the homepage when you log in. Best thing about Orbitz-- you can choose different departing and returning flights easier on this site than on others.

4) Travelocity -- Dream Maps area only
I'm not a huge fan of Travelocity (even though they have a traveling gnome) because the prices in your search don't reflect the REAL price (with taxes and fees) and also, I have never been able to successfully book their lowest advertised fare to anywhere. You get all through the process and suddenly "fares are not available." But I love their Dream Maps feature (which is buried deep in the site, a shame) because it's a visual representation of what's on sale. Love it!

Finally, here are some lesser-known travel search sites that I love using to contrast/compare prices and airlines:

And, finally, I never book a seat on a plane before checking with SeatGuru.com! Hope this helps, and have a fantastic time on your vacation!

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Dear Laurie,
Can I ask a pompom-related question? How did you make the cute floofy
pompom in this hat? I've just learned how to do cables, and made a cute cabled hat, and that pompom would only add to the cuteness...
Mary Ellen

Hi Mary Ellen!
Ok, keep in mind that I was still smoking at the time I made that hat. And I was on the bus and did not have a pom-pom maker. So, I wrapped the yarn around the pack of cigs (so. classy.) round and round. Then I slid the yarn off the package and tied a loose piece of yarn around the middle of the pile. In theory, you would snip the loopy ends off the yarn and fluff to make a pom-pom. But I liked the loopy look of it so much, I didn't trim the ends and it became one of my favorite pom-poms ever!

You could always use a piece of cardboard instead of a pack of cigs. Or, I also used my Susan Bates gauge measurer thingymajig recently, and it worked great for wrapping the yarn. Hope this helps!

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Reader Cathy asks: I just got a kitty and would love to crochet a Kitty Pi! Any word on a pattern yet? I've searched the web far-and-wide! Thanks for the great blog!

Hi Cathy! Laura posted her directions for a crocheted kitty pi in the comments section of this post (where her crocheted/felted kitty pi is pictured.)

Hope that helps! -- Laurie

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Question: OK, shopping at the Persian market is fun, but grocery stores are where guys practice some of their best pickup lines. Whatcha been hearin' at the Q Market?
-- From Tom. [Ed. note: Tom, please get a webpage.]

Glad you asked!
The Q Market, unbeknownst to me, turns into a disco or something at night, with really loud music. I only know this because I got off work late a few nights ago and planned to make a quickie detour to the Persian market for hummus and salad.

Much to my surprise, I pull into the parking lot and loud Persian disco-ish music is pouring out of the attached bookstore/record store. I was afraid to go in. I stood in the parking lot for a few minutes trying to envision a grocery store dance club. That was when a man who may or may not have been in the Persian Mafia asked me if I like to dance. "Well," I said, "the olives here are really good, but I didn't bring my dancing shoes."

He looked at me like I had grown a second head.
I went home.

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Question: I am starting a blog. Got any advice?

Answer: I'm not sure I am qualified to give advice when I don't actually write any of this -- Sobakowa The Cat is the mastermind here. But my advice would be to post lots of pictures! Because I am nosy and want to see your desk. And also, I would say if there were one cardinal rule of Writing Stuff Down, it would be ... write what you know. Which is apparently why I write about drunkenness and cat poop.

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Ok, this is long enough and I am officially exhausted. As is Franklin Delano Rosencat, who is worn out from the picture taking.


Posted by laurie at 10:01 AM

February 14, 2006

A day celebrating pink cannot be all bad.


By now you know my theory on Valentine's Day. Yes, I suspect other people are out getting lucky while I myself will be making sweet love to my Tivo. But I have somehow convinced myself that any holiday which chooses pink as it's primary color and chocolate as its official food is OK in my book.

Sure, a part of you suspects that everyone on the face of the earth except you is having steamy sex involving complicated lingerie and jazz music, but that's a small price to pay for aisles and aisles of pink velvet hearts with little pieces of Godiva inside.

And the possibility exists that in the next 364 days you might also find yourself shopping for unmentionables and stocking up on John Coltraine CDs. It could happen. Oh! Remind me to tell ya'll the funny story of my very first ever purchase of complicated lingerie and how my boyfriend had to literally cut me out of it because after several glasses of wine and maybe some jello shooters at the club (college... need I say more?) neither of us could figure out how to get the thing off, and then before long I was making funny voices and saying, "Well, I declare! She gone and died in her fancy panties! Her fancy panties up and attacked her while she was being sexy!" and of course it wasn't sexy at all by that point, but we managed somehow to laugh ourselves silly then accidentally set something on fire when we knocked over a candle while cutting off $60 of very, very complicated lingerie.

Of course, I can't tell ya'll about that here because my parents read this here website and would be horrified, and also maybe shaking their heads because as much as they do not want to picture me in a complicated get-up in a compromising position with my college boyfriend, they can absolutely see in their mind's eye their incredibly classy daughter being cut out of something from Frederick's and making a big Blanche Dubois moment of the whole thing. "Why I do declare, we should rely on the kindness of strangers to free me from this here pantyhose contraption with bustier and for the love of God, do you have scissors? The exertion of all this sexiness has left me parched! More wine!"

So, no, of course we cannot discuss it here. But next time you see me, be sure to ask me about it. And pass the jello shooters!


Posted by laurie at 8:57 AM

February 13, 2006

Movie Night, a.k.a. 'Glad ya'll liked the shrimp, sorry about the drunk picture-taking!'

This weekend I hosted a little get-together for the girls who are going to Paris so we could eat French cheese and drink French wine and watch some French movies. (Can ya'll tell we are excited about this trip?) Shannon couldn't make it, and we were very sad, but we soldiered on and before long the wine was opened and cheeks were pinkened and all was well. But we did miss you, Shannon!

Jennifer and Gloria and Amber came over, and we commenced with the merrymaking, bonjour beaujoulais! The last time I had even a drop of alcohol was on Shannon's birthday, so needless to say cheeks were pink here at chez wino in no time flat. Although this was allegedly a wine and cheese party, as a Southerner I have trouble serving only cheese for dinner and at the last minute I marinated some shrimp for kebabs. An excellent choice because I got to use my new grill! I do love my new baby grill, which is propane and little and cute as a button. AND IT COST ME $19.95. No lie. I understand why the rest of the nation is in love with Wal-Mart, because even though I had to drive all the way to Panorama City for this little grill, it was well worth it.

[click images for a bigger view]

Prepping in the kitchen, man do I love to take pictures of food.

The cutest grill, my patio at night, shrimp!

Some crazy pink-cheeked lady under intense flash with (from L-R): Amber, Gloria and Jennifer.

Also, I have the worst post-party anxiety. Does everyone do this or is it another fine Neurotic Girl trait? You know, the party ends, people leave (or you leave, if it was hosted elsewhere) and you smack your forehead for all the dumb things you said. You wake up the next morning vowing once and for all (again) to shut the hell up next time and refrain from A) talking about the bird flu and B) Telling everyone how in love you are with Dr. Andrew Weil and C) Showing everyone pictures of said doctor to which they say things like, "Oh." and "He'd make a good Santa Claus." and D)THE TALKING.

But there is nothing better in all this world than the company of your closest girlfriends, and hopefully they will forgive me for the talking, and also the drunk photography that I somehow always mange to force people into when we look our worst. Love you! Can't wait for Paris! And maybe next time on Movie Night we'll actually watch a movie, whoops!

Bob has party anxiety, too


Posted by laurie at 7:36 AM

February 10, 2006

Upon nothing, really.

Jennifer and I are on the phone. I'm waiting for the evening bus, and everyone is in their own world, talking on their individual cell phones, the collective sigh at the end of a week.

We're discussing our mojo, as much as one can discuss mojo surrounded by strangers on a city street at nightfall, and our individual attempts to connect with it. ('It' being mojo, of course.)

"Am I getting it back?" I ask her. "Today after my morning meeting, I was walking back to the building and I crossed Flower Street. This guy was walking toward me, in the crosswalk, a suit-and-tie guy, but anyway, he checked me out. Smiled at me and said hello. And then I said hello back. That counts, right? Progress?"

Because in the past so many months, since Mr. Ex announced over spaghetti that he was moving out, pass the parmesean cheese, I have buried and mourned my mojo, tipped a forty out for my homie. Gone, but not forgotten, rest in peace dear mystical mojo. I crossed Flower Street every day for months, my eyes on the ground, avoiding eye contact. Withrawn into myself, painfully shy around strangers to the point where I managed to exude a Go Away sign, a biochemical essence of isolation (my mom would call it "poor posture.")

Every night spent alone, and it's nothing to complain about, at the time being alone was a full-time job (why didn't you leave sooner I don't even know you, who are you? who did I love?) every night curled up on the sofa, a cat stretched out beside me. I broke the clock when I couldn't stand it ticking any longer.

During the hot months, last spring and summer, nights alone reduced to silence or sometimes crying or do nothing, tucked into a patio chair all night long, nothing visible in the dark but the lit end of a smoke, one glass of wine in my hand, but before long it's 1 a.m. and no way are you sleeping tonight. Might as well bring the bottle outside.

Being alone was a full-time job.

Nothing shakes you to the core, makes you feel more bereft of self-esteem than having the one who said "I do" leave you. There's no good way to phrase it, there's no cushion to make it softer. You can blame the other person, or the situation, but deep inside you're shaken and you break, or you wonder why you haven't broken, disintigrated, given up and gotten behind the wheel and driven all night to nowhere. Even smoking becomes exhausting. You pull way inside. You become quiet. You become alone in all these ways.

It would have been easy enough to take another road (he did) and buy new clothes, smile brightly, go out with new people. You can brush your hair and slide on a pair of high heels and sit on a barstool at Cozy's while your friends play pool and you accept free drinks from strangers.

Instead, I stayed home. It's just the difference in our bones, the way we live through the end of a thing. For me: nights without sleeping, months of never closing my eyes sinking into a bed feeling safe or warm or even tethered to this world, chain-smoking, writing it all down. Inside me everything was ugly.

Confidence has always been tied to my successes, so a failure of such magnitude surely must mean I am worthless? Unloved. Unwanted. Ugly. (Nothing makes you feel uglier than goodbye.) So you do what you have to, work these things out, wrap your mind around them. It takes its slow sweet time coming around.

But it comes around, eventually.

"He smiled and said hello and you said hi back, that's good progress!" said Jennifer.

"Yeah. It is? Before ... I would have avoided eyes. Looking down. But what a waste, right? Seventeen months of looking down? What a waste of time."

And it is a waste of time. Unless... unless you count all the time you sat on that patio, alone, and thought about even the smallest detail, remembered the day you walked down the aisle, the day you signed the divorce papers, and every single day in between. You were in there, somewhere. No one tells you the day you slide a ring on your finger that you need to hang on to you, keep a little piece just for yourself.

Eventually you sift through it and find a place to rest, it's not the place you may have envisioned for yourself when you were nineteen, or twenty-three, but it's all yours, and that's something. And one day you look up, instead of looking down, and someone smiles at you.

Success is not always about achievement. Sometimes it's about endurance.

Beyond hello, I'm still not ready, still locked mostly inside, but I know my mojo is there inside me, too. The things I blocked out are seeping in through the cracks of my finely constructed life raft. My future is an unwritten book: the way it feels to have someone whisper in your ear, or the night you stand at the sink in your sock feet and you're washing a dish when he hugs you from behind so unexpected, or the warm perfectly content feeling you get when he takes your hand in his and holds it, or the very first time you kiss (always the best).

It's in there.

Posted by laurie at 10:16 PM

Knitterly niceness, if you are so inclined...

A few days ago, I posted an email from M.A. who sent me a link to a great column in the Daily News about knitting. As a follow up, M.A. forwarded me some correspondence she'd had from the Director of the Noontime Knitting Club program:

[The program] always needs yarn, but more importantly, we need needles. The kids take them home, and we have new knitters every week. We have been buying the inexpensive needles from Target, JoAnns, and Michaels. Sizes 11 and up and short in length seem to be the best ones for beginning hands.

It is a diverse group, with volunteer adults who are either helping the kids learn or helping them feel better by struggling to learn with them. It is a heart-warming experience for all of us.

We are at:
Sepulveda Middle School Magnet
15330 Plummer Street
North Hills, CA 91343

We would love any support!

Judy Plouff

I wanted to post this in case any of ya'll have extras in your needle collection, especially size 11 and up. I know firsthand that there are no bigger hearts on this planet than a bunch of knitters. Maybe it's from all that Red Heart we all have piled in our stashes!

My boss is calling. Ya'll have a great Friday!


Posted by laurie at 9:01 AM

February 9, 2006

Pink Ladies Love Cool James

After three (or was it sixteen?) hours of the Grammy Awards last night, all I have to say is: why OH WHY was LL Cool J so covered up? Where is the love? Shouldn't there be a law he must be sans shirt at all times? (Look! There I go with the French words! and I have not even been hitting the sauce.)

Mariah didn't win on camera, I know she may not have a lot of time for reading knitting and cat and divorce blogs, but Mariah girl I was pulling for you. I've been through a bad break up and a meltdown myself, and We Belong Together.

If ya'll missed the Grammys, or even if you didn't but you're into celeb gossip, or let's face it... you're bored at work and thanking your stars for the T1 connection ... I suggest you do your catching up at Trent's site, Pink Is The New Blog. Personally, I have a limited amount of time in this world, and yes I could be catching up on my Henry James or learning a piano concerto or doing long division in my head, but ya'll I have my priorities. So I get all my celebrity gossip fresh each morning from Trent, who I love and want to marry (he's in line right after my hairdresser, Drew, and a shirtless LL Cool J.)

All afternoon I could see the limos lining up outside the Downtown standard, and traffic was CRAZY with the awards just down the block. But the blimp was out!

View from my window at work.


Now we do the non-segue-way in which I announce to you, the world, that I am finally unstuck from my techmology morass and amen, dig in, because I have feel I have finally re-entered the human race. And for this I thank the color pink.

(ALL embracing of new technology in my life has resulted from appealing design... by that I mean I AM A SUCKER FOR THE COLOR PINK. My first home computer purchase? A pink imac. My first cellphone? A pink Nokia thing. My first mp3 player? Pink ipod. My first personal battery operated device? Pink and sparkly. NEED I SAY MORE?)

See, when you get hitched to a guy who is a lot older than you are, and he has old-man habits (which are endearing when you're in love and stifling when you're not), you may find that you begin to stagnate. It starts small, it's infinitesimal really, little things like your husband is too tired after dinner for a movie, and you stay in. Watch TV. Or maybe it's just age, but eventually you stop listening to current music and one day you wake up and you realize your entire musical knowledge base halted at Raspberry Beret. Or George Jones. Or Ja Rule. And people talk about crazy newfangled things like "ringtones" and you're in the dark, you've never bluetoothed, and you find yourself calling things "newfangled."

It's sad, really. Because although part of you wants to listen to nothing but 80s music and Classic Country, you find yourself Not Yet Ready for the Sansabelt slacks and the 8 p.m. bedtime. You're young! You're smart enough to figure this out! Right? So why are you suddenly feeling like the world fast-forwarded and left you one betamax tape behind?

My little breakthrough started with my summer intern, who was literally NINETEEN YEARS OLD. (Gotta love my hiring tastes in summer interns. Really.) He offered to help me straighten out my ipod, which I had somehow messed up. Because if you need high-end technology fixed, ask a teenager. Ya'll know. Then recently I got this penpal who started sending me cool-kid music, so I was listening to something besides "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

Then there is the matter of my cell phone. I have had my low-tech cell phone for four years. Maybe five. And Mr. Ex has still been paying for it (!) since we had the family plan (Dear Mr. Ex, please define the word "family" and use it in a sentence...) and the worst part, the worst: my phone number was quite unfortunately the exact same as the Veteran's Administration appointment hotline. With one minor detail. They have a 1-800 number, and I had a 1-818 number. OH MY GOD the wrong calls I would get... EVERY DAY. In time, I started to avoid answering my phone and exasperated everyone I knew. "Why bother even having a cell phone?" they asked. "Because... I need one ... for emergencies?" It was Not. Good.

So. Fast forward to Tuesday night. I'm on the treadmill, watching Gilmore Girls when I see a commercial for a HOT PINK CELLPHONE. Hello! "For a limited time only... just in time for Valentine's Day... surprise her with a pink Motorola Razr phone.."

Ooooh, I can be my own Valentine! I want to show myself this Valentine's love! With a pink phone! Come to mama!

Yesterday morning I walked into work and announced, "I must have a pink razr phone or I will die. Where is the nearest cellphone store?" and my coworkers, SO TIRED from hearing me talk to misdialed veterans all day, said, "We will escort you, thank the technology gods!"

And I went home last night with a valentine to me me me:


I love it. I have already figured out how to take pictures, and enter phone book stuff, and I am now about to climb the ringtone mountain. Especially if ya'll will take pity on me and tell me how to add ringtones to this phone (I bought this cord that can hook your phone to your computer but I have no idea. And my next summer intern won't arrive until May ...)

But with my newfangled pink technology, I feel ten year younger! Like I am no longer in line for Sansabelt slacks and blueblockers. I have a Valentine, and it is pink, and says "Hello Moto!"

But the best part? When I emailed Mr. Ex to tell him I had gotten a new phone and he could cancel my line... I did NOT give him my new number. I did NOT put his number in my new pink phone. I said, au revoir old man!

Because pink is the future! Just ask Trent. He knows.

Posted by laurie at 9:43 AM

February 8, 2006

Reader Q & A ... or "Do you think this Email thing will catch on?"

In honor of finally being able to open my email, and also that I am going to tell you right now I am fully incapable of wading through 1500 pieces of email, some of it apparently from a guy who really wants me to enlarge a part of the body I do not even have, I decided to do some reader mail Q & A. In here you will find one knitted roadkill, two adorable cats, a dog, a lawsuit, several interesting knitting dilemmas and much overusage of commas. ( I do love to make a comma splice!)

It's Wednesday! Humpday! Hump wisely and well.


I have been working on knitting dog sweaters that are fast and easy. My Yorkie is my current model (see photo.) Once happy with the prototype, I can do them up in fun and fab yarns and donate to the Tucson Humane Society fundraiser. It gives me a chance to polish my pattern-making skills and help others. Everybody wins.

Anyhoo, I have a pattern from a book that is easy to make but it requires making two separate pieces and then seaming them together.

I would prefer to do it all in one piece -- much faster. I have a template sweater in the works on circular needles. The only part that stumps me is making ample room for the dog's front legs. It is no problem to bind off several stitches in a row to create an opening for each of the legs (lengthwise)... but I also want the leg openings to span several rows for some height. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Naples, Florida

Dear Pickette,
Hi! That dog is so darn cute you just want to eat him up!! I have no idea how to solve your knitting problem, but I know someone on these innernets will know. Ya'll help a Florida girl out, and I just want to dognap that puppy... too cute!!

Pickette's Puppy! [click on the picture for a bigger view]

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Rachel asks, "When you go to Paris will you take pictures of some strange French food for us?"

Dear Rachel,
HELL YEAH! I plan to show ya'll some snails crawling across a plate if I can figure out the video settings on my camera. Oooh la la!

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My name is Amanda and I have just started browsing through your blog in the past few weeks. I took up knitting around that time and somehow found your site. OH MY GOD, this shit is addicting!!! It is so fun. I actually prefer crocheting to regular knitting but I just bought a Knifty Knitter loom set and thought before I spent hours going through your site to see if you have ever used one, that I would just email you directly. I figured seeing that you know a fair amount about this addicting sport ( :) ) that you might have some info or know someone who has tried these things. I was looking for patterns online but sometimes it is nicer to just ask people directly. Also, if you know some really good sites for free patterns for stuff, I'd be interested in checking them out. It would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Amanda!!
Thanks for your patience and for re-sending the email. I really have technological issues, ya'll, also I am such a hermit and I really do have a hard time with correspondence. I will put that on my never-ending list of things to change about myself. Anyway! Less about my neuroses, more about your email!

I have not used a Knifty Knitter, but it sounds cool. If anyone here can help Amanda out, that would be awesome. And I agree, knitting is addictive!


REVISED TO ADD: Shannon from TechyGeekGirl Knits has used the Knifty Knitter and has pictures of her finished pieces on her website! Check it out here: http://techygeekgirlknits.blogspot.com/

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Reader Laura, who is temporarily webpage-less but is an amazing crocheter, made a kitty pi using crochet instead of knitting. No, I have no idea how she did it, but maybe if she is reading today she will post the pattern in the comments. But! Look how cute! She added some flower details on the side, and frankly the kitty pi filling is as cute as can be, thanks, Laura, for these pics!

Reader Laura's kitty pi PRE-FELTING:

Laura's kitty pi AFTER-FELTING:

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Reader David, who also did not leave me a webpage link (ya'll! help a girl out!) sent me possibly the most disturbing link ever. Normal humans would not foist this upon their friends, but by now you have given up any notion of my normalcy.


Well, David. That is a whole new way to use yarn. Also, may I mention that I do love a surprise hello email, and am so pleased that I was the first person who crossed your mind when you saw that link. Heh.

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I still read the L.A. Daily News just to keep up with MY SFV. I was just checking out Dennis McCarthy and read this article:
This sounds like a great program doesn’t it? And what a positive image for us knitters!


Dear M.A.
I loved it! I used to work at the Daily News a hunnerd years ago, and I emailed Dennis to tell him that he has some new knitter fans now. He has not responded, presumably because being stalked by a newly-divorced woman with four cats is not high on his list? Anyway! I loved the article, too, thanks, M.A.!

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Reader Mona from Minneapolis sent me a link to the L.A. Times story that talks about the West Hollywood Stitch 'n Bitch group. Thanks Mona! The story features our very own Miss Kendra quoted prominently!

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Speaking of Stitching and Bitching, Readers Nikola and Sonia wanted to know where to find the WeHo S'nB. Well! Glad you asked! Thursday evenings at the Farmer's Market at the Grove... you know The Grove, right, the shopping mall? Well, they have a cute Farmer's Market out at the side, on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax. You park in the open lots outside the Farmer's Market, walk in and you'll see all the food vendors and little open-air shops. They also have places to buy booze, whoo hoo! Then look for the stairs (by the Argentine meat place) that lead up to the second-floor seating area. Folks meet up there starting around 7 p.m.-ish and going strong until at least 9 p.m. You gotta join in! I haven't been in a while, but I plan to return haunting them soon. Consider yourselves warned!

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Oh, and while we are on the subject of stitchin' and bitchin' ... got this from reader Jackie:

Dear Crazy Aunt Purl,

I am a regular reader of your blog, and I love it. I don't know how much you know about it, but Sew Fast, Sew Easy, a sewing company in New York, is trying to use legal bullying tactics to shut down Stitch & Bitch Groups. They claim they own the trademark for the term 'Stitch & Bitch' (which they don't, they are one applicant for the trademark for the term, Debbie Stoller is the applicant also for the TM on Stitch & Bitch), they also claim that they invented the term Stitch & Bitch in 1997. They are doing their best to get people not affiliated with Sew Fast Sew Easy to not be able to use the term. This situation has a lot of knitters very angry and upset.

You can read a lot about this at:
http://Craftster.org (on the knitting forum)

I was wondering if you could post about this on your blog and it would help get the word out about the boycott.

The funniest thing about this is that 99% of the knitters I've chatted with about this had never heard about the Sew Fast Sew Easy company before they send infringement notices to the yahoo groups.

Jackie D.

Dear Jackie,
I am so glad you sent me this! I had heard a little about this, but had no idea it was a big legal stink. Good Lord, people. The earth is warming, people are getting poorer, we're at war, and some company is out making people who want to knit and crochet flee from the law? PEOPLE. Time to come to Jesus, as my Uncle Truman would say. Good grief.

Thanks Jackie!

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This is getting long... I'm sorry I am so behind in my techmology. Also, apologize that I call it "the techmology." But I love the email and especially the cute pet pictures!!

Speaking of cute pet pictures...


Posted by laurie at 1:39 PM

February 7, 2006

The pain reflected in this song ain't even half of what I'm feeling inside ...

Top Ten Tuesday Things:

1) I have been listening to "The Emancipation of Mimi" obsessively for like two weeks straight. I need an intervention. This is even worse than my ghetto slang obsession. Fo reals.

I can't sleep at night when you are on my mind
Bobby Womack's on the radio
Singing to me ... 'If you think you're lonely now'
Wait a minute, this is too deep, too deep
I gotta change the station
So I turn the dial, trying to catch a break
And then I hear Babyface ... I only think of you...

2) But just the same, I hope Mariah wins some stuff tomorrow night at the Grammy Awards. I know ya'll. I know she's probably buckwild crazy, the kind of crazy that wears a bra on her head. But that is why I love her. And for people who say she's fat? PUT A SNICKERS WHERE THE SUN DON'T SHINE.

3) Speaking of fat. We're leaving for Paris in like, what? Six weeks? And you know... Three of these kids belong together, three of these kids are kind of the same. But one of these kids is doing her own thing ...now it's time to play our game...it's time to play our game!


The moral of this story is: I really have to find some larger friends. I love these skinny ladies, and it's great because I'm guaranteed not to have a 7-foot-tall smelly seatmate on the airplane, but honestly ya'll. My left boob is bigger than some of my friends.

4) Speaking of boobs! Not really. Psyche! But I did read this interesting piece on a blog I love all about this thing called Healthism, which is basically when normal people go crazy with the health stuff. That is so me! Sometimes I am just over the edge. Right now is one of those times. I'm only eating organic stuff when possible and I'm taking a bazillion vitamins and ... I'm maybe a little bizonkers about it.

But it makes me feel better about myself, and I get this feeling of control from it, like ... although I watched that Oprah all about the Bird Flu, and terrorists are probably about to smuggle nukes into Long Beach, and also no one knows why my cat keeps getting sick, and there's a strange smell in the breakroom ... I AM TAKING MY OMEGA 3 SUPPLEMENTS!! This way to crazytown. Population: me.

5) My email is fixed!! For now, anyway. In the past two months, my email has worked maybe ten days. But a very nice man named Arden spent hours (hours!) on the problem and called me back with a resolution and I wanted to hug him through the phone. Note to self: In the future, when dating, choose men who can help you with computer things. They will be well-hugged.

6) I don't just need a musical intervention, I need a Fashion Emergency, too. Since I got sick I've been real... pasty. White. The phrase "death on a cracker" comes to mind. So I thought I needed... a little color. Today I am wearing a loud, striped polyester blend shirt with a glitter thread in it. I dug this out of my closet and am actually wearing it to work. Ya'll. I. Am. So. Tacky. In fact, I'm a walking Glamour magazine "Don't." Also... notice how weird a person's head and arms can look in a poorly taken picture. Is it me? Or is it the medication talking?

Thought this was a good idea. Blame CODEINE.

Seriously. My arms? Are actually normal-length.
I am, however, that pale.

My parents are looking at that picture right now where my arms look two inches long and making a joke about another family member of mine who has much-remarked-upon short arms. (We're cruel. But we're funny.)

What number am I on?

7) Since I only had two balls of the Lana Grossa yarn in that olive-green color, I decided to take ya'lls advice, rip the little bit I'd knitted and start fresh with less stitches. And bigger needles -- now I'm using size 13 Lantern Moon purty needles and I'm doing three knit stitches on each edge. I like it, and once it's done I plan to block the heck out of it. Mmmm. Blocking. Anyway. Pictures tomorrow. I may have broken the camera with that shirt.

8) Also, stuff is on fire again in Southern California. I do not remember a string of red-flag fire warnings in the first week of February, but the globe... it is a'warming.

9) One day I will make a Top Ten list that reaches ten. Today is not that day. Cat picture!

bob is so cute I want to bite him

Posted by laurie at 9:17 AM

February 6, 2006

Upon Self Esteem

Jennifer and I are on the phone, discussing our mojo.

"Am I getting my mojo back?" I pondered it. As much pondering of mojo as one can do on the evening bus, surrounded by people. "Well. Today after my morning meeting, I was walking back to the building and I crossed Flower Street. This guy was walking toward me, in the crosswalk, he was tall and a suit-and-tie guy, but anyway, he checked me out. Smiled. Said hello. And then I said hello back. That counts, right?"

Because in the past so many months, since Mr. Ex announced over spaghetti that he was moving out, pass the parmesean cheese, I have buried and mourned my mojo, tipped a forty out for my homie. Gone, but not forgotten. Crossed Flower Street once a week, eyes on the ground, made no eye contact.

Every night, alone, and it's nothing to complain about, at the time being alone was a full-time job (why didn't you leave sooner I don't even know you, who are you? who did I love?) every night curled up on the sofa. During the hot months, last spring and summer, nights alone reduced to silence or sometimes you cry or do nothing, tucked into a patio chair all night long, nothing visible in the dark but the lit end of a smoke, one glass of wine in my hand, but before long it's 1 a.m. and no way are you sleeping tonight. Might as well bring the bottle outside.

Being alone was a full-time job.

Nothing shakes you to the core, makes you feel more bereft of self-esteem than having the one who said "I do" leave you. There's no good way to phrase it, there's no way to make it softer. You can blame it on the other person, or on the situation, but deep inside you're shaken and you break, or you wonder why you haven't broken, disintigrated into formless shape, even smoking becomes exhausting.

The one who doesn't rush out to fill the empty spot in the bed becomes quieter maybe, deflated, the slow and gradual sanding down of your self-esteem (a quality I didn't have in spades even before the split). It would have been easy enough to take another road (he did) and buy new clothes, smile brightly, go out with new people. You can brush your hair and put on a pair of high heels and sit on a barstool at Cozy's while your friends play pool and you accept free drinks from strangers. But I stayed home. Just the difference in our bones, the way we live through the end of a thing. For me: nights without sleeping, months of never closingmy eyes sinking into a bed feeling safe or warm or even tethered to this world, chain-smoking, writing it all down. Inside me everything was ugly.

Confidence has always been tied to my successes, so a failure of such magnitude surely must mean I am worthless? Unloved. Unwanted. Ugly. (Nothing makes you feel uglier than "goodbye.") So you do what you have to, work these things out, wrap your mind around them. It takes its slow sweet time coming around.

"He smiled and said hello and you said hi back, that's good progress!" said Jennifer.

"Yeah. It is? Before ... I would have avoided eyes. Looking down. But what a waste, right? Seventeen months of looking down? What a waste of time..."

And it is a waste of time. Unless... unless you count all the time you sat on that patio, alone, and thought about even the smallest detail, remembered the day you walked down the aisle, the day you signed the divorce papers, and every single day in between. Eventually you find a place to rest, it's not the place you may have envisioned for yourself when you were nineteen, or twenty-three, but it's all yours, and that's something. And one day you look up, instead of looking down, and someone smiles at you.

Success is not always about achievement. Sometimes it's about endurance.

Beyond hello, I'm still not ready, but I know my mojo is in there, inside me, the things I blocked out are seeping in through the cracks of my finely constructed life raft, my future is an unwritten book: the way it feels to have someone whisper in your ear, the night you stand at the sink in your sock feet and you're washing a dish when he hugs you from behind so unexpected, the warm perfectly content feeling you get when he takes your hand in his and holds it, or the very first time you kiss (always the best).

It's in there. Somewhere.

Posted by laurie at 6:26 PM

The Co-Worker Scarf

Exhibit A: Morning Medicating Ritual

I haven't written about knitting lately because I haven't actually knitted lately. At all.

This is what my life has been like for about two weeks: blur, blur, cough. Work work cough. Listen Roy you're taking the same medicine that I am. And yet the vet charges me five times as much. Isn't that something. Cough. Blurry. Sleep. Take your vitamins. Please George Clooney come take me away. Sniffle. Rinse and repeat.

So, anyway! Very exciting. No knitting. Then last night I woke up in the middle of the night actually dreaming that I was knitting. My subconscious must have really been missing the crack cocaine known as "wool."

I'm calling this one "The Co-Worker Scarf" because my co-worker Jennifer showed me a scarf she had made using these stitches (an idea which she got from her sister-in-law) and I already know too many Jennifers so I am no longer accepting friends named Jennifer, but I do have plenty of openings for Elizabeths, Emilys and Rachels. Hi! This makes no sense as I am stoned on cough syrup! Moving on.

The Co-Worker Scarf


I am using Lana Grossa Colore Print in color #005, this is 100% virgin wool, so soft I want to hug it. (Also, totally unnecessary as it is February and OVER EIGHTY FRICKIN' DEGREES here.) My co-worker Jennifer used an off-white Red Heart acrylic and it looked fantastic using this pattern, so any yarn will do.

My needle size is 11. These are plain ol' bamboo from clover. One of my Lantern Moon size 11s has disappeared, probably gnomes. I decided to use a needle size just a teeny bit larger than you normally would for this yarn, to make the yarnovers nice and airy.



Here's what I'm doing, though I may need ya'lls opinion if you think the edges are too wide, and maybe the whole scarf is a bit too wide. It looked good on my co-worker's Red Heart, but that yarn is way smaller than this bulky wool.

1) Cast on 20 stitches.

2) Knit five rows of garter stitch, which is when you knit every stitch (no purling.) You can knit more or less than five rows depending on how big you'd like the ends of the scarf to be.

3) See how easy this is so far? We're just knitting!

4) On the sixth row, and every row for the rest of the scarf (until you get to the other end, and do the final 5 rows of plain knitting garter stitch) you follow this pattern:

Knit 5 stitches.
Then, for the next 10 stitches, do this:
    Yarn over, knit two stitches together.
    Yarn over, knit 2 together.
    Yarn over, knit 2 together.
    Yarn over, knit 2 together. (see? so easy!)
    Yarn over, knit 2 together.

Then knit the final five stitches of the row.

So. You have a scarf that looks like this:

5) And that's it. Just repeat the knit 5 / YO-knit2together for ten stitches / knit 5 pattern until you make the scarf as long as you want. Finish with the same amount of garter stitch edging you started with. Wear, be happy, smile at coworkers! (Smiling optional.)


So this is mine in bulky wool. But what do you think, are the sides (the five garter stitches on each edge) too much? Should I frog and go with three per side?

Another view. Just so you can see the lacy part in the middle.

Can't remember what the heck a yarnover is?

Yarnovering is so easy. I thought it would be really hard and I would do it all wrong, turns out that I was yarnovering a lot when I first started knitting -- only I was doing it unintentionally, and that's why my first scarf had a few holes. Whoops!

You use yarnovers to make holes in the knitted fabric, or to make drop stitches (like the drop stitch explanation here.)

Yarn Over is just what it sounds like -- you wrap the yarn over the needle. It creates a false stitch, it's just this little loop sitting on your needle. The reason you often follow a yarnover with "knit two together" is that you don't want to increase your stitches, right? Especially not in a rectangular scarf. If you just yarn-overed without knitting the next two stitches together, you'd end up with 30 stitches in this scarf.

yarnover drop stitch
(This picture is from this entry.)

Knitting two stitches together after a yarnover makes a nice little bookend to the hole created by the YO. (Also, YO YO... that's the abbreviation for yarn over. I know you figured that out, but I wanted to say yo yo! That is how I roll!) (For the love of God someone please make me stop the geeky faux-ironic ghetto slang.)

This scarf is the perfect way to get familiar with the yarn over, you do ten of them in each row! Of course every now and then you may want to check the stitches on your needle, and count that you have 20 stitches and have not accidentally increased like maybe some people we know who were stoned on cough medicine while knitting. You got to check yourself before you wreck yourself. OH MAKE THE SLANG STOP. Please.

Also, I have to leave you with probably the funniest thing I have read in a long time. Abby, of The Knitlette, told me, "I think you may be interested to learn that I have found a new knitting-related use for wine - and it is this: 'I must get drunk so that I cannot leave the house so that I cannot buy more yarn.'"

Now that is a girl after my own heart!

Posted by laurie at 11:19 AM

February 2, 2006

February 2006 Hor-O-Scopes

February is funky.

You may think it's because we're in the doldrums of winter, or because February contains Valentine's Day (a.k.a. "the day when I can only assume the rest of the free world is getting lucky and I am watching a CSI re-run and eating microwave popcorn for dinner hate you hate you.") But it's really a planetary issue.

Listen, when Mercury is in Uranus (HAH HAH HAH) we all feel a little uncomfortable in our private parts. Lots of surprise communications. A full moon on the 13th, with Venus un-retrograding and Jupiter humping through the zodiac. Ya'll. There's just a lot going down in the stars for this, the Short Month To Crazy.

Advice to all signs: Chocolate goes great with red wine.


AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 - Feb. 18)
Would you like fries with that Quarter Pounder of Stress? Your commitments to school or work combined with the constant demands from your family and friends have you near the end of your rope this month. That urge to escape your life and run on autopilot is particularly strong near month's end. You might begin harboring serious fantasies of sitting alone on a mountaintop and pondering your navel. Take a deep breath, clear you calendar for at least one full day in February, and commit to some serious alone time before you become commit-able. You may long for a padded room ... but I hear that straightjackets make your butt look big.

PISCES (Feb. 19 - March 20)
It's half past backbone time. Remember when you thought your lucky number was 1-800-2PLEASE? Indeed, the people-pleaser gene is so strong in you that I sometimes wonder if you have ever done anything just to please yourself. Have you? Wait, don't answer that. Ya'll just start getting all defensive and that does neither of us any good. Try instead to remember your daydreams, the ones that involve you being successful and happy. Your real wants are right there, beneath the surface. As soon as you realize that the most important person to please is the person in that daydream, which by the way should be YOU, you'll be on your way.

ARIES (March 21- April 19)
Sure, some people may think you are self-centered or arrogant, but is it your fault that the universe has called upon you to be a born leader? Yes, sometimes you get so impatient waiting for things to happen that you make impulsive decisions. And, yeah, you often get frustrated when people don't catch on to things as quickly as you do, and so you get a little snappish. But who can blame you, right, it's just your nature. In February, please try to have some patience with those of us not quite up to speed yet. Also, with Mars finally vacating your Money house, you will cease being stressed about money all the time and you can finally take me to dinner. Hi!

TAURUS (April 20 - May 20)
Use or be used. Ever heard that phrase? No? It's a little self-serving as far as mottos go, a relic from the "Me" years of the plastic 1980s (oh, how I loved you, sweet little 1980s. Come back to Crazytown.) During the self-help boom of the 1990s, such crash, selfish mottos became obscure while we dug deep, found the child within, took a course in miracles and Celestine Prophesied. Now it's the mid-to-late 2000s, and we're stuck in a sort of motto-less rut. I hope that February finds you developing a new personal motto, because I think every Taurus needs one. "Because I can!" sounds nice. So does "I am the captain of my own ship!" Aye, aye.

GEMINI (May 21 - June 21)
I don't usually start out with actual horoscope-y stuff, but Venus is un-retrograding this month on the 3rd, so that's good. For you. Who will need to sign something or make some decision or hell, just go shopping, and the planets say, "Yes!" After the 3rd, of course. And then Mars is going freaky and moving into Gemini on the 17th, which is Really. Really. Good. For. You. Now, about that shopping ... test drive a new pair of shoes, a skirt, a handbag (mmmm, handbags) or some other unexpected little treat. Whatever power struggle you have found yourself locked in for the past few weeks (months?) will be best resolved by walking away, and I suggest a walk to the nearest mall. The best route might involve a trip to the salon as well, for a pre-spring trim and a manicure. Ya'll have worn yourselves weary with constant over-analysis of a particularly thorny relationship, and you deserve a little retail therapy.

CANCER (June 22 - July 22)
Lots of people talk all kinds of smack about Cancers, like how we're so sensitive, and moody and such little homebodies. But they never talk about the COOL things we are: we're very open to new ideas, we love to get introspective and work on improving ourselves, and we'll get our crazy on in the self-help aisle, ya'll know what I mean. We're creative and funny and know lots of useful trivia. Ok, maybe that last part was just me. So even if Valentine's Day has got you down, I don't want you to buy into the bad press. The skies are real funky for Cancer in February, but it's funky-good -- especially the full moon on the 13th and the New Moon on the 28th. Venus has been screwing with us since December, and we've all been asking, "Where is the love?" Our need to be acknowledged is second only to our need for melancholy, so this is a perplexing state for a Cancer. But everything we're doing now is laying the groundwork for the social upswing and happy summer ahead of us. Jupiter is hanging out in the Love house until the end of November, ya'll, so I might actually go on a date this year. And if I can do it, SO CAN YOU.

LEO (July 23 - August 22)
BLAME SATURN. All that stuff that happened and kind of sucked? Blame Saturn. But later this month, once the Hallmark moments of Valentine's Day have faded like a bad memory, you'll begin to see a subtle shift in both your energy and your luck. I feel like I should be sending you HappyGrams or something, since the ick and muck of the past three months is (mostly) finally behind you. The full moon this month is in Leo, and I suspect you may be one of those getting lucky while I am home watching re-runs. I'm just saying is all. But I'm not hating on you -- you deserve this one. The metamorphosis from the grey days of winter to the hopeful weeks of spring may make you feel cocky. Swagger.

VIRGO (August 23 - Sept. 22)
Build a shrine to gossip this month... you might as well, since you've been privy to your fair share of grapevine chatter these past few weeks. All the rumors and whispering can't obscure the reality of your situation, however, and setting out on the warpath of truth will do you no good. There is no reasoning with craziness, remember? So before you light a candle at the alter of justice, evaluate your position as clearly as possible and start planning some ways to deal with the invasive lunacy around you. The good news: YOU ARE NOT THE INSANE ONE.

LIBRA (Sept. 23 - Oct. 23)
I'm so jealous! All the planets are lining up for Libras this month, first, there's Mars Moving into your Hot Mama house, and ya'll have a full moon in your Shiny Happy House and Venus is un-retrograding just in time to hang out in your house of Big Pimpin' ... now that's Astrology Gone Right. Go ahead and indulge in that post V-day red velvet heart full of chocolates. Feel smug. Your hard work last month is beginning to pay off, and the rewards are part of the goal!

SCORPIO (Oct. 24 - Nov. 21)
Meet Super Scorpio, crimefighter extraordinaire, destroyer of evil, sole defender of free thinking! Super Scorpio is scouring the planet, making a mental list of who is naughty and who is deplorable, making it safe for the weaker zodiac signs to self-express. Our heroine is fighting off evil left and right! The Bullying Bad Guys are closing in fast, and the Lying Scum she battled just last month has reared his nasty head. Pop those villains like a pimple, Super Scorpio! Use your super-strength powers of intuition to stomp out bad choices! Evil is no match for your ability to accessorize! (Ya'll I am so sorry. I am totally stoned on cough syrup.)

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21)
Unless it's the mental "Bag Lady Meets Flea Market" state you're after, you need to get busy and do some serious house cleaning. You are surrounded by clutter, both physically and metaphorically. One way of dealing with your stuff is to think of how happy it will make you to be free of it. The letting-go process is the easy part, it's the actual down-and-dirty of search and destroy that scares you. Make a list of every single thing that's annoying you -- from your leaning tower of laundry to the whiny friend who complains nonstop -- and get busy paring down. This month is no time for hanging on to the past if the past is kind of moldy and bringing you down. Purge, little Sag. Purge.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19)
There is a grace period for lethargy -- it's called February. It's the month that isn't really cold deep winter, but it's not yet the thaw of spring. No wonder it's characterized in classical literature by words like "bleak" "grim" and "dreary." This February gives you a full moon in Leo on the 13th, which is good for you to re-charge your little Cappy engine and falls in a peak time of a perfectly direct Venus, so shop now or forever hold your peace. Stupid Mercury is retrograding in March, so Hi, Jennifer? Let's go shopping this month for cute shoes for the Paris trip, because March will be Mercury-icky for shopping. Capricorns also have some love junk in their chart this month, all really good, and I'm not expounding because I'm sort of jealous and kind of need lunch. Love ya'll.

Posted by laurie at 12:32 PM