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Archive for November, 2007

Playa

I’ve been working on one knitting project for several weeks; in fact I think it’s been a solid month of enduring faithfulness. Despite the intense Ravelry temptation, I did not succumb to newer fancier yarn or a cleverer project. Sheer tenacity carried me through carpal tunnel and tendonitis pain, reversing shaping to match the other side, even tearing out half the project at one point; I kept my ardor singularly trained and I was determined to see this project to the finish. I cared about this one and didn’t want to treat it like the others. I even bought new yarn for it rather than digging through my bags of second-hand stuff. I believed I had outgrown my capricious knitting ways and was ready for serious commitment.
So much for knitted monogamy! The tedium of the same needles, same stitches, same yarn for a month – I tried to convince myself of the comfort and security of such monotonous loyalty, but I was living a lie! Where’s the exhilaration of feeling those new fibers for the first time? What happened to the breathless anticipation of the kids’ bedtime so we could be alone together on the couch without distraction? Where’s the romance gone? I thought we shared a mutual satisfaction and pleasure in the act of creating – the truth is, she was faking it.
I’ve now had done to me that which I’ve inflicted on so many other knitted and crocheted lovers. I gave up when boredom became intolerable; I moved on to prettier yarn and untried projects, stashing the old one in my “to do” bag until I happened to be between relationships. I might take her out now and then and show her some attention, but the fire never truly re-ignited.
Today infidelity delivered its karmic retribution. I seamed the sleeves, meticulously lining up stitches from each side. I knitted the last two knits and purled the last two purls of the crippling ribbing, and I was finished, finally blessedly finished. I hooked a split ring stitch marker through the last stitch to hold it in place – I know enough about fickleness to not cut the yarn too soon – and ran the stairs double time to stand in front of the full-length mirror and don my comfy brown shrug for the first time.
Oh! The ribbing stretched so nicely as I slid in one arm, and the form-fitted sleeve provided just the right amount of femininity. The heady giddiness of completion evaporated as I stood in front of that mirror gazing at myself, shoulders stuffed like sausages into the strangling ribbed edging. My arms pinched awkwardly behind me like a clucking pecking chicken with gimpy wings.
The back was not true to its measurements so it didn’t fit across my back properly. Once I was in it, I was stuck. Casey had to wiggle it and slide it and bend my arm in shocking ways to peel away the lovely brown shrug that had mutated into a hateful straight jacket.
Now I’m burned. I may never settle down again with just one work in progress. Have to keep my options open.

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Thanksgiving – MIA

I can’t take it anymore! I thought maybe I just wasn’t paying attention or perhaps I’m not out of my house enough to notice, but really, now I don’t think that’s true. I think my initial observation is accurate.
Thanksgiving and all the feelings and talk of it and decorations and preparations are missing. There seems to be a pattern of decline over the last several years, but it feels to me like it’s plummeted this year to an all-time low.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole Christmas season, but it gets a little tiresome and sickening when it drags out from Halloween to New Years. Why have we blended all our holidays into one commercial and materialistic season?
Thanksgiving is the one big holiday that is authentically American (and Canadian, but we celebrate on different days so it doesn’t really count) and we’re just drowning it in red bows and street wreaths and two months of Christmas carols. It used to be that Santa on his sleigh at the end of Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Parade heralded the Christmas season. Now, by the time Santa danders down the road on Thanksgiving, he’s nearly a month late, superfluous and irrelevant. I remember when it took until the day after Thanksgiving before you’d see a single Salvation Army bell-ringer (not that I’m against them inherently), or Christmas commercial claiming that “this” is the best most thoughtful gift for that special someone who has everything but a 77-inch wide screen HD plasma TV with a built-in egg poacher and after-market dog cage climate controller.
Speaking of superfluous, I’m giddy to reveal that this commercial hype is propagated by none other than the too-much-half-assed-crap-for-sale capitalist monstrosity Wal-Mart. Seriously, click on the link. As if you didn’t know this, but Wal-Mart just wants you to spend more money for longer on cheaper shit. According to Consumer Reports Wal-Mart “has preemptively threatened legal action against any site that post its [Black Friday] ads before November 19th,” even though they rescheduled their in store Black Friday sales to November 2, the Friday after Halloween this year, instead of the traditional Black Friday after Thanksgiving. So they’re going to sue anyone who puts up their ad early, yet they get to usurp the entire calendar system and slash prices on their whole inventory three weeks before any other retailer? WTF? How is this in the spirit of any holiday – Christmas, Thanksgiving, or otherwise? It’s all about gain and getting and sales quotas.
My heart warmed inside me and my faith was nearly restored this evening when I finally saw my first legitimate Thanksgiving commercial this year. It was nostalgic and homey and I could smell the sage and sweet potatoes. I really expected it to be one of those public service commercials telling us how we all really need to spend time as families at the dinner table and there is no better time to set the tradition than at Thanksgiving. I was going to applaud – rock concert style fist pump, even! “Right on!” I was going to yell. Finally someone else appreciated at least part of the spirit behind this great day.
Alas, I was naive and mistaken; in the end, it reared around and bit me like a money-grubbing viper. Stupid Butterball pushing their farm-raised genetically altered hormone injected turkeys! It made me angry to see such wonderful holiday intent exploited as marketing.
FYI: Here are some links for Black Friday Ads.
Gotta Deal
Deal Taker
Black Friday 2007

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Today is a day out of a novel, an English novel just before Romanticism set in. It’s cold enough for coats, hats, and scarves. The autumn wind is relieving the stubbon trees of all their colored leaves. I’m wearing a soft warm sweater and enjoying the warmth of indoors – if only I had a working fire place!
I love all the classic British novelists – The Bronte sisters, Mary Shelley, Henry Fielding, Fanny Burney, Sir Walter Scott (he’s Scottish), Charles Dickens, but oh most especially Jane Austen. No one compares, in my opinion.
After kindergarten pick-up, I decided I wanted a steaming mug of tea. I was also hungry, but nothing I had available sounded appetizing. Then I remembered that a few days ago I had anticipated my British tendencies and purchased a jar of clotted cream, so I made scones according to Karen’s description. (Americans would call scones biscuits. Scones are not those twisty fancy fruited things that Starbucks sells.)
The scones are delicious with the clotted cream and a teensy drop of jam. It all gets washed down with hot Irish breakfast tea. It’s a yummy afternoon abroad for me.
Here I am, having tea and scones, and writing, just like Jane Austen. How quaint and nostalgic.
The only problem is that Jane Austen didn’t portray day-dreaming too kindly in her novels. She was too practical and satirical to be wistful and sentimental. I would likely be caricatured as some dim-witted girl who never reads and who faints after a brief walk in the garden.
No, I have to believe that she and I would have been friends. Either way I’m enjoying my English afternoon.

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Aftermath

Halloween was fun. We sailed again this year. Pictures will come as soon as I acquire them from people who remembered to use their cameras.
I think the overall lighting and atmosphere was better than last year; we had greater success with the fog, but dry ice continues to present difficulties. Our smallish living room converts nicely into a den of opulence. No doubt it was fun and people were impressed, but the turnout was meager in comparison to last year. I think there are several contributing factors, including: Mt. Lebanon did its Halloween parade several days before trick-or-treating, which doesn’t make sense. Last year, our clan of Pirates commandeered the Halloween parade then led the masses to our treasure. Also, we had more of our props up earlier last year which I think generated more interest leading up to Halloween. Finally, the festivities in Vandergrift are scheduled between 6 and 9 pm, whereas in Mt. Lebanon, everything cuts off an hour earlier. I think the consensus is to do the pirate ship at least one more year, then who knows? We’ve talked about Hogwarts, a Cinderella ball, the Wild West, and everything in between. But then, I’m really not sure I want to abandon ship; it can only get better each year with new ideas, more props, and more people. There’s even talk of a battle between us and The Spanish Main across the street. Anything’s possible.
A good time was had by all, if good times can be measured in empty candy wrappers. Sugar, carmel, nuggat, and Red 41 ingestion was at an astonishing high – and so were the children for several hours. However, I can decidedly declare that success manifests itself when two-thirds of the tiny pirates put themselves to bed upon the sugar high’s expected desertion. That was the best part of the whole day.
The worst part of the whole day came when I discovered that some of our visitors took more than the candy we offered. I draped the whole room in costume jewelry to give the effect of drunken jeweled revelry. In my naiveté and basic trust in people, I never expexted anyone to mistake my props as a personal gift. Alas, I was robbed. I believe there was only one bracelet stolen, nevertheless it was a beautiful one and it was mine. And someone else took it right off my table. I am disgusted and disappointed by it. It’s an arrogant entitlement attitude that leads people to believe they are deserving of other people’s things. It’s wrong and incenses me to become an activist of some kind.
The dining room table and couch are back in their rightful homes, but evidence of Piratey Things lingers all over the inside and outside of the house. I can but hope that life on land resumes some semblance of regularity and order once all the nautical piratical bits are stowed safely below deck – read: under the back porch.

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