My accomplishments for the week, so far:
--Bicycling home, I smoked a kid on a motorized scooter. Am I proud of this? Well, yes. But here's why: 1) the little punk was riding his scooter down the middle of a busy road, right smack on the yellow lines, because he thought he was going to pass me (and it must not be cool to ride your scooter on the sidewalk); 2) let's face it, I'm old--who knew I could muster such speed?; 3) did I mention it was a motorized scooter?? I ^%&* hate those things.
--12 more lace rows! Here's another reason not to knit lace: progress is pretty hard to report. 12 rows in my pattern equals 3 little circle rows. Yippee skippee.
--Managed to go to yoga class without falling asleep.
--Ate two good-size ice cream cones in one sitting.
--Massively screwed up a sod order at work (I screwed up so bad we had to send the sod back--to Rhode Island, which is where sod comes from, in case you were wondering).
--Finished another chapter of Mary Chesnut's Diary. The Civil War has barely begun and I've already renewed the book so many times the library won't let me renew it again. I might have to buy this one in paperback, that is if I really intend to read all 892 pages. Can you say skim? Awaiting my attention is a Foxfire book about chairmaking and gourd art. So much more fun than the Civil War!
Between the shawl and the Civil War, this must be my Summer of Monumental Projects. Oh, and the whole wedding thing... nothing monumental about that.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
My accomplishments for the week, so far:
Sunday, June 26, 2005
"Psychopomp: a guide of souls to the place of the dead. Also, the spiritual guide of a living person's soul." (from the Oxford American Dictionary)
I just finished Kazuo Ishiguro's grim little tale Never Let Me Go and seeing psychopomp in the dictionary made me think of it. Let's just say the word completed stays with you a long time after reading this book (and not in a good way). It's a fascinating story, but profoundly sad.
Posted by Martita at 12:23 PM
At a fabulous party at Melanie's house yesterday, I discussed shaving my heat-intolerant dog with Bookish Wendy. We both had seen golden retrievers shaved for the summer and thought it would probably be okay if I shaved mine. But today, while giving Cammy a much needed brushing and trim, I realized why I couldn't shave the poor girl: she'd be bald. I was reminded this morning, as I brushed a shopping bag full of soft, fluffy undercoat from her, that she sheds her entire undercoat in the summer (called "blowing coat" in dog parlance, I understand), leaving her with just a thin layer of orange topcoat over her skin. Those goldens Wendy and I have seen shaved must have been males--they don't shed the same way (remember how Lassie was a male? That's why). The Camster LOVES being brushed--it shivers her spine and she sprawls out so you can reach her nooks and crannies more easily.
Tell you what: if golden retriever fur can be spun into yarn, I'm totally getting a spinning wheel. You would not believe the dust bunnies this dog generates. They drift across the kitchen floor like tumbleweeds bouncing down ghost town main streets.
Posted by Martita at 10:33 AM
Thursday, June 23, 2005
A few gardening tips:
Plant hollyhocks once, have hollyhocks forever. They border on being invasive. 6 years ago, I planted what can best be described as unique dark crimson red (the color of dried blood, really) hollyhocks. They were part of a Burpee hollyhock mix--unfortunately my mix was heavy on the crimson and light on the pastels that I would have welcomed. Not only did I have 6' tall, dinnerplate-sized Vampira blossoms in my garden, to make matters worse, they attracted Japanese beetles from all over the county, which then proceeded to hoover up my precious peach rose bush as well. So I ripped up the "Interview with the Very Tall Vampire" plants and gave them to my hollyhock-crazy friend Audrey. The next couple of years, baby hollyhocks came up and I dutifully dug those up and gave them to Audrey as well. Last year, more baby hollyhocks came up and I weeded them out. This year, two hollyhocks have come up and I surrendered. They win; I lose. I don't know where they're coming from (I thought they had to reseed??) but I hereby declare defeat. (In the picture, the big green spiky thing between the peach rose and the fading pink peony is The Unstoppable Hollyhock.)
Lettuce: so easy, so yummy! Spinach, too. They both make tomatoes look like a challenge.
It turns out you need to thin your radishes and carrots assiduously or you won't get radishes or carrots. I learned this when the radishes started going to seed and I pulled them up and got nothing. Why doesn't Victory Garden tell you this stuff? Sigh.
Posted by Martita at 1:07 PM
Monday, June 20, 2005
While I was gardening the other day, I was thinking about modern life. Specifically, why it is that so many of us seem to be turning back toward fiber arts. Doesn't it seem odd, that in a society where you can run out to the store and buy an outfit, not only are people making their own clothes, they're making the fabric and the thread/yarn the fabric is made out of? Knitting and spinning are supposed to be obsolete. So is gardening, for that matter. But there is obviously some satisfaction to the process alone, the growing of the vegetables or the spinning of the yarn, etc. It's partially the creativity that gives it satisfaction, but there's something soothing and calming about it too.
And then I realized that to a small extent, I tend to reject technology. Not all technologies, obviously (I am sitting here typing on a computer), but I pick and choose. I have a microwave, but not a mixer. I have a cell phone, but it doesn't text or send pictures. I have a TV, but it's antique and on its last legs. Basically, if it's not going to improve my life, why have it? Who needs a mixer when you have spoons? Do you really need to text your friends, when you can call them? Why add clutter to your life just because it's there? And noise. Electronic gadgets, for the most part, make a lot of noise. And maybe that's partially behind the spinning/knitting thing: it's quiet.
Quiet, meditative, lulling, creative: it's all so very Zen! Who needs yoga when you can knit?
Posted by Martita at 2:04 PM
Thursday, June 16, 2005
As my knitting buddies know, I'm knitting a lace shawl. It's my first shawl, and it's been an ordeal. It won't be my last shawl (due to previous commitments), but when I'm done this batch of shawls, it'll be a long, long time before I'll sign up to knit lace again. Why, you ask?
1) it's so darn boring. There's nothing to look forward to, except finishing. If you're knitting a sweater, in most cases the pattern changes at some point, either in color or texture. And as you knit, you can think to yourself, "oh, I can't wait to get to that part!" Sometimes I even knit faster just to get to the interesting stuff sooner. Lace is the same n pattern rows (in this case, 4), over and over, until finally, with much joy, you end it.
2) it's so painstaking. The yarn is literally like thread. It's so hard to get the needle in that after 8 rows, my hands hurt.
3) it takes 2 hours to knit 8 rows. 8 rows! 2 hours!
4) it requires total focus. No chatting, no TV, no reading. Take your eyes away from that yarn-over and you'll have a mess on your hands.
5) Unraveling it, when you inevitably make a mistake, is easy. Putting the remainder back on the needles without losing stitches is almost impossible.
Every day, as I leave the house to go to work, I find myself wistfully eyeing my new self-striping sock yarn. At least with that, I'd have stripes to look forward to.
Not to be a Pollyanna or anything, but all lace negativity aside, my shawl is gorgeous and every day I'm amazed I'm making something so delicate. So I'm glad I'm knitting it, if only for that reason.
Can you see the row where I knit really, really tight? Sure hope I can block that out! 'Cause I'm not ripping.
Posted by Martita at 3:47 PM