Archive for June, 2007

Head? Check. Skull? Check. Brain? Brain? Brain?

Wednesday it’s off to the wild, wild mid-west to see my sister and her family. While I am gone, my little home is getting tented for termites, so I am doing lots of racing about to try to get ready. Sparky will be staying at Melissa’s place with his Oak-Town half-sibs. Bea, who visited Oakland once and found the company quite disgreeable, will be staying at Kitty Hill Resort.

If the airlines cooperate, Wednesday evening I’ll be enjoying a LumberKings (single A) ballgame. The first one hundred fans get a free LumberKings baseball card—whoo-hoo!

Of course, since I should be doing a myriad chores, I’m feeling absolutely compelled to play with a new knitting idea as well: wash dishes, knit four rows, move clothes from dryer to washer, knit four rows, scrub tub, knit four rows, turn on ballgame, clear table top, knit four rows, pick up prescriptions, knit four rows. Not to mention that I’m really enjoying the mystery novel I just started. You get the picture.

I’ll be posting as I can while I’m gone. My niece is good with a digital camera, so I may even have pictures as well.

If my mention of a mystery novel pricked up your ears, I’m currently reading Carole Nelson Douglas‘s Chapel Noir, which features not only her heroine Irene Adler, but Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper as well. The author took a seven-year hiatus from this series after writing the first several volumes, and Chapel Noir is the first offering in her second go-round. This work is definitely more “mature” in terms of both style and content and would be a great place to start if you’re new to the series.

On a much more serious note
Code Pink is collecting signatures to protest the stoning death of Du’a Khalil Aswad, a 17 year old from the town of Bashiqa, in Iraqi Kurdistan. She came from a family of Yazidi faith and was snatched from her home by Yazidi men who had discovered that she was in love with a Muslim Arab man and had visited him. In front of hundreds of people, including local police, they dragged her to the center of town and stoned her to death. Townspeople watched and even filmed this barbaric act. The killers, obviously well known in the community, are still free. Click here to add you name to the petition.

June 25 2007 | Cats | 3 Comments »

Strolling

Harry Potter washcloths
Here are my Harry Potter and the Golden Snitch Washcloths, pattern courtesy of Michelle at InsanKnitty. I have a nephew who will be very excited to receive these when I fly back for a visit next week. I used a small (2.5oz) ball of Sugar ‘n Cream and just got the two cloths with a few yards to spare.

I wanted to put in a quick shout-out for the Procrastiknitter, who has just begun hand-dying and selling direct-from-Australia wool. Check it out here.

Melissa and I took our weekend early this week. (She still worked her crack-of-dawn shifts at Peet’s, but then we had all afternoon and evening together.) This was necessary because—I am chuffed to say—I was able to land her a single ticket to today’s SF Giants/NY Yankees game. Normally, Giants fans hate the Yankees, their fans, and all that goes with them (which is perhaps a bit excessive, seeing as they’re an AL team and not even real competition until the post-season), but Melissa grew up on Staten Island, back in the day when it was still semi-agricultural and comes by her Yankees fan-dom honestly. (I also got a single ticket to tomorrow’s game that went to my friend Sim, another NY native.) So, I will be dropping Melissa off at BART on my way home, and she’ll be spending the day in the sun, most likely watching her team pound mine into the ground. Let’s face it: the Giants are not having a great season.

Thursday evening, we went to the New Music Walk-Through at the columbarium. The columbarium is a gorgeous venue: designed by Julia Morgan (who also designed many of the buildings at my alma mater, Mills College). The rooms are small, but well-lit; almost all have sky lights that let in an amber glow that feels welcoming, rather then funerary. Everywhere one looks are decorative mouldings, arts-and-crafts era tile work, all sorts of wonderful details. This venue is open to the public every day; I would love to sit there on a winter day, knitting while rain pounded overhead.

New Music is not always my cup of tea—too many sustained tones punctuated by toots, with rhythms I can’t quite catch onto—but we both enjoyed this cellist and hope to hear her perform again (note: the photo at her web site is taken at the columbarium). Most-unusual-instrument award would go to the gentleman who simultaneously played an electronic keyboard and a bugle. The bugle had various lengths of industrial tubing coming out if it, each ending with a dried, bell-shaped length of seaweed, and the sound switched from one tube to the next, depending upon which bugle keys the performer pressed.

Yesterday we walked a bit around downtown Oakland. Our official destination was a show by Farnaz Shadravan at the Joyce Gordon Gallery. Shandravan, who now lives in the U.S. and works as a dentist, trained in Koranic illumination in her native Iran. The gallery featured two series of her works. The first was a group of refrigerator doors engraved with a dental drill with religious texts and motifs. The second, from her Ashura series, featured illuminated x-rays of carved human bones (the carving again done by dental drill) and small metallic objects: bullets, dog tags, and the like.
Artwork by Farnaz Shadravan
This series, a response to the Iran-Iraq war (she was still living in Iran at this time), was displayed at floor level, with small cushions in front of each piece, so that one knelt, prayer-like to view them. The mix of beauty, vulnerability, and violence in these pieces and the contemplation they inspired felt genuinely religious.

We also admired a wall of pencil drawings by Slava Likhatchev, depicting human hands that were simultaneously realistic and fantastical. One hand was made of money: bills for the palm, the fingers precariously stacked coins. Another was composed of rolled bolts of fabric that seems luxurious and shroud-like at the same time. This is the piece Melissa and I would have purchased if we’d had a few hundred dollars to spare:
Hand drawing by ...

Today it’s back to Santa Cruz, where I’ll get some knitting done, listening on the radio to the game Melissa will be attending and enjoying the second of two “weekends” in a row.

June 23 2007 | Uncategorized | No Comments »

With This Ring…

I finished Laurie R. King‘s latest novel (from 2006, but I’m a bit behind) with tears in my eyes. The Art of Detection features lesbian SF Police Detective Kate Martinelli investigating the murder of a local “Sherlockian,” who may or may not have held an unpublished Holmes manuscript by Conan Doyle (or even Holmes himself!). My tears had nothing to do with the mystery, but with the closing scene of the novel, which is set in 2004: Martinelli, her partner Lee, and their daughter Nora are mounting the stairs of San Francisco City Hall to get married.

For most of my adult life I’d considered the issue of gay marriage a non-starter: marriage is just a ritual; it’s what’s in our hearts that counts; we need the legal rights that accompany marriage, not the ceremony itself. Then SF Mayor Gavin Newsom jumped unexpectedly into the fray. Because he felt that heterosexuals-only marriage violated the state constitution’s equal-protection guarantees, he ordered that the city begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The news hit the stands, the reporters rolled in—and I wept. Big drippy tears of joy and relief and suffering I hadn’t even known I was feeling. Day after day, I wept as I read the accounts of the marriages, the legal wrangling, the protests. I am not a weepy woman, but I wept.

I hadn’t realized the burden I was carrying, that all of us “unmarriables” were carrying. I had been riding on the back of the bus without knowing it, and seeing others like me going to the front, being respectfully ushered to the front by people of good will who refused to allow injustice to go unquestioned, opened a floodgate.

Melissa and I are not married. We weren’t quite ready then, and later when we did make a lifetime commitment to one another, the opportunity was no longer there. When we discuss retirement and where we’ll settle, marriage is always near the top of our list. We want marriage, real marrriage, not a “domestic partnership,” which, yes, is legal and important, but that in the aftermath of what happened in San Francisco reeks of the separate-but-[not]-equal cop-out that it is. Maybe we’ll wind up in Massachusetts, maybe Canada. We could head to one of several European nations. (South Africa is probably not on our list.) We both love the Pacific coast and may stay here, unmarried, but enjoying the fog and salt air nonetheless. Our kitties have no idea they’re “illegitimate.” And our love is strong and true with or without government sanction. But if we had the chance to marry each other today, we would. In a heartbeat.

So I finished Laurie R. King’s latest with tears in my eyes. It’s a great read. I highly recommend it.

June 22 2007 | Cats | 1 Comment »

I Can See My Floor!

With Melissa’s help, I made wonderful inroads into the big end-of-school-year clean that my little home has been needing desperately. I live in a two-room-plus-bath granny unit, with the rooms stacked on top of each other: bed/craft room upstairs, living/kitchen/dining room and bathroom downstairs. I have a bad habit of stacking things along the edges of a room when I don’t know where to put them—and over the past few months I’ve more or less been constructing a series of concentric circles that left me with little more than space to turn around in the middle of each room. With a day-and-a-half of steady effort we actually cleared the upstairs floor almost entirely (there’s a bit of a mess tucked under one chair yet) and the downstairs floor is at least half clear. Melissa also assembled a new bookcase for me, and I’ve moved the huge collection of quilting books off the bedroom cupboards and down onto the new shelves. Now I can move the knitting books upstairs, since they’ve been getting more use for the last few years.

For the most part, Sparky approved of the new arrangements, if only because they kept me home all day. He had no trouble making cosy little nests for himself among the various items that I stacked temporarily on the bed. My Noro shawl met with particular approval. What he did not approve of was the vacuum cleaner.

I am unabashedly biased—nonetheless, isn’t he a darling?
Sparkleberry of America!
He and Bea were quite pleased when I uncovered the upstairs scratching pad, which had been buried under a load of washed-but-not-folded gym clothes.

With all the tidying up, my knitting is still a bit limited, but I’ve started a Harry Potter Washcloth, pattern courtesy of Michelle of InsanKnitty. It will be a gift for my younger nephew. He’s ten years old and absolutely convinced that his Hogwarts letter will be arriving this summer.

June 20 2007 | Cats | 1 Comment »

A Sunday Stroll

I got very little knitting done yesterday, but I thoroughly enjoyed my first full day free of academic responsibilities. Melissa and I started by meeting my friend Sim for brunch on Solano Avenue in Albany. Sim and I used to date. In case you don’t spend much time hanging out with lesbians, here’s one thing to know about us: we almost always remain close friends with our exes. Maybe that’s because as women we’ve been socialized to “make nice” under all circumstances, but I prefer to think that it’s because we had good reasons for being together in the first place and are sensible enough to know that those good reasons still exist even after we are no longer couples. Melissa and I got the giggles on the way over: “You can tell everyone that we’re having breakfast with your ex and that I’ve been cat-sitting for one ex while she and her partner were on vacation and that another one of my exes and her current partner just got me a show in Sacramento.” We are, indeed, a convivial and inter-connected bunch.

After brunch, Melissa and I strolled Solano, which is one of those streets full of interesting little non-chain shops and a smattering of houses. At Five Little Monkeys we got a toy bus for Boaz (more on that below).

We passed the Code Pink House and studied their latest additions.
Radical lesbians with too much time on their hands.
Tell it sisters.

The marquee at the Albany Cinema left us pondering the question of what it means to be hauntingly French.
Movie marquee creators with too much time on their hands.

Last night we got to babysit Boaz while his moms went to see the premiere of a relative’s film at the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
Cute!

Cute!
As you can see, he was quite taken with the bus we got him. He immediately wanted passengers for it and, lacking anything better, we gave him a bag of Ricola, which he carefully stuffed into the bus one at a time through the energancy exit. He fell asleep with the hard hat still on his head and clutching the bus.

The back of my Origami Cardi is done. I’ve also done the second of three rounds of picking up stitches and knitting edging on my top-secret project.

Today Melissa is coming to my place after work to help me try to figure out how to get my house back to normal now that I’m done teaching for a while. There are piles everywhere, and no place to put anything. Melissa says not to worry, she’ll point at things and tell me what to do with them. I don’t know how I would manage without her. (I may have exes with whom I’m close friends, but I plan on holding onto Melissa for the rest of my days. We are very much looking forward to growing old disgracefully together.)

Later tonight, I’m taking Melissa out for dinner to celebrate her birthday. I wish her parents were still alive so I could thank them for her.

June 18 2007 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

The Evil that Is Little Knits, Redux

This and this. What more can I say?

P.S. I have been in my office for two full days now, writing narrative evaluations and determining grades and sometimes I just can’t help surfing the net…

P.P.S. In case my mom is reading: no credit cards were used in the purchase of this yarn. It came out of checking.

P.P.P.S. I’ve signed up for Dishrag Tag!

June 15 2007 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Links!

Check it out—I finally have a links page. The “Links Link” is just below the header, next to “Home” and “About.”

Of course, I couldn’t limit myself to knitting links. You’ll also find reproduction quilting links, early music links, left-wing links, and more. Enjoy!

June 14 2007 | Uncategorized | No Comments »

Too Darn Hot!

I’m in my office and I should be sorting the last of my students’ work into piles and alphabetizing it, so I can evaluate it as efficiently as possible, but instead I am image surfing on Google looking for pictures of poor desperate souls dragging themselves across desert dunes without an oasis in sight. Why? Because it is 87ºF here and I am a wimp. Not just a wimp; I am the Wimp. I am the Wimpmeister. La Wimpa di tutti Wimpi. Because I am trying to find a pic that reflects my wretched, non-hottie (as in nothing sexy about it, basting-in-my-own-juices) hotness—as if that will somehow bring me relief. Because all I can think of is how in another gabillion years when I can finally retire I am heading north up the coast and not stopping until I get somewhere with 200 days of rain a year and blessed, blessed cloud cover. Perhaps Oregon or Washington will satisfy me. Perhaps I’ll keep going until I reach Canada. Perhaps I’ll drag myself clear across the Arctic Circle and south down into Scandinavia.

Despite the heat, I expect I will manage to knit a few more rows on my Origami Cardi tonight. After all, one must suffer for one’s art.

Here’s a picture of its status as of yesterday morning:
My first sweater!

Archy is curious
Archy apparently suspects this piece of harboring nefarious motives of one sort or another. If it turns into a giant, heat-induced, radioactive mutant, he will be ready to save the world.

P.S. In case you haven’t seen it yet, the new Knitty is up. My favorite? The Chapeau Marnier. Pretty and functional, with interesting detail. There’s also an article, “Socks for Diabetic Feet,” with some worthwhile yarn and pattern recommendations.

June 13 2007 | Cats | No Comments »

And the Answer Is…

Well that was fast. I emailed Interweave Knits last night with my question about the Origami Cardi and received this reply today.

Hi Sarah-Hope,

We will eliminate the “Purl 1 WS row.” sentence; then continue as written. The web team will post the correction at the next update.

Please let me know if you have any further questions, and thank you for contacting us about this pattern!

Best wishes,

Katie Himmelberg
Assistant Editor
Interweave Knits
Style Editor

Hip-hip-hooray for good customer service! I can knit again!

And now, pictures:

I’ve finished the Easy Triangular Shawl in Noro Blossom, so Melissa and I took it along for a stroll at Middle Harbor Park by the Oakland shipyards and had a photo shoot.

The shawl on a bench.
Here it is draped across a bench beside the observation tower.

The shawl over a railing.
And here it is draped over a railing.

A family of geese on the waterfront.
The park was full of families of geese with their gangly, teenaged-looking offspring.

This park contains the old terminus of the trans-continental railway. If your goods needed to go further west, they’d have to go by ship—and that’s still the case today.
The Port of Oakland.
The cranes that load the ships look oddly furturistic and ancient at the same time, like the skeletons of a whole herd of Trojan horses. (To give you a sense of scale, that small green-and-stone building to the left of the cranes is the three-story observation tower.)

My thanks again to catbookmom for introducing me to this pattern. I’m looking forward to wrapping this shawl around me when the ocean winds begin to blow.

June 11 2007 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Origami Cardi SOS!

I am stuck on the Origami Cardi. I need help.

If you have the summer 2007 Interweave Knits, please open it to p. 86 and follow along with me. I am knitting the back of the cardigan. I have done the “Row 1″ bit. I have done the “Row 2″ bit. I have continued working until piece measures 4 1/2″ from CO, ending on Row 5 of the pattern stitch. I understand the next bit of instructions that reads “Next Row: (WS) Sl 2… x sts remain.” But immediately after that I’m told “Purl 1 WS row.”

How can I purl a wrong side row if I’ve just finished working a wrong side row? Does this involve some aspect of the knitting mysteries into which I have not yet been initiated? If you can make more sense of this than I can, please, strap the answer around a St. Bernard’s neck along with a (large-ish) flask of brandy and send the creature my way immediately.

Thank you.

P.S. I have sent an email to Interweave Knits and am about to post on Knitter’s Review. I’ll ley you all know if I get an answer.

P.P.S. The situation is desperate, as I’m visiting my parents and have been unable to knit since hitting this roadblock at approximately 7:30p.m. last night. I’m going through serious withdrawl.

June 11 2007 | Uncategorized | No Comments »

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