Between the wedding and the shingles and now a trip east to meet the in-laws, I am falling hideously behind at work. I’m going to take a hiatus until early July, so I can focus on the necessary things without the temptations of the blogosphere to keep me from taking care of less entertaining chores. If you’d like me to email you when I start posting again, please just leave a note in the comments section (you don’t need to put your email address in the comment, it shows up at my end anyway). Otherwise, you can look for me here again in a few weeks.

Thanks for all the good wishes. It is a lovely thing to be married to my beloved.

(Early) Tuesday Mewsday: Wedding Edition

It’s still Monday here in Santa Cruz and early for Tuesday Mewsday, but on Tuesday I will not be blogging. I will be getting married. We’ll have a simple civil ceremony with lunch with family beforehand and dinner with friends afterwards. After years of believing this opportunity might not come in our lifetimes, we don’t need frippery or fanfare. We have each other and we have the opportunity to commit ourselves to marriage, with all the work and rewards that will involve.

But let me take a moment now for frivolity and paint a picture for you. If this were a fairy-tale world, with magic charms and talking animals and all sorts of other possibilities, I would don a gown with an immensely long train, ending with small satin bows along the hem. Each bow would be attached to a taffeta mouse, stuffed with the finest catnip, with whiskers embroidered in silver and pearls for eyes. And as I walked down the aisle, I would be followed by dozens of prancing kittens, their little heads wreathed in flowers. They would leap over one another joyously as they scampered after those catnip mice, then would settle down in a circle around me, washing their paws and curling up for naps as the ceremony began. At the reception, we would carry them about in baskets, giving them to our guests: “Here, have a kitten! Have two!” And everyone’s lap would be filled with lively bits of purring fluff, so we wouldn’t be able to rise for the toasts, but would make them from our seats. After all, it’s wrong to disturb a kitten—even for a wedding.

Well, That Explains Everything

The achy head? Nothing to do with the office-door whacking.

One word: shingles.

Another word: ouch.

The good thing about having shingles is that the pain is now explained. When I thought I had an infected bruise, I couldn’t understand why it was hurting as intensely as it was—I felt as if the back of my head was about to explode or half my scalp was about to slough off or something. Shingles are based in the nerve, so of course they hurt; that’s pretty much their defining characteristic.

I’ve turned a bit of a corner and am feeling more myself, though still tender.

Thanks to everyone who sent me good wishes. I very much appreciated hearing from you.


My giant bruise from slamming myself with the office door has gotten infected, so I’m taking some time off to focus on antibiotic use (topical and oral). I will be just fine, but probably won’t post again until next week.

A Joiful Noyse

If I formed an early music ensemble, that’s what I would call it. What I love about early music is the absolute happiness it conveys—at least in its upbeat moments. The shawms, the sackbuts, the recorders, the bagpipes. When they all get happy together it’s a glorious thing. And when they move from frivolity to spiritual, the experience becomes positively transcendent. Last night’s first concert featured Piffaro (the YouTube video is much, much mellower than anything we heard them perform) and The Concord Ensemble (their audio clips are definitely worth a listen).

We entertained ourselves during the interval coming up with early music t-shirt slogans that we could do up to sell on Cafe Press. The best?

The shawm’s da bomb! ©

Who you callin’ a sackbut? ©

(We are, of course, copyrighting them so we can retire on our sure-to-be-ample earnings.)

After that concert, it was off to a 10:30 performance by selected members of Philharmonia Baroque doing Corelli Concerti, along with some Tartini and Geminiani. We got home utterly exhausted, but quite uplifted.

This morning we have Piffaro again at 11:00. Tonight it’s Le Poeme Harmonique performing a brand new program, Venizia delle strade ai Palazzi. Of this performance the program notes, “Due to the improvisatory nature of Venizia delle strade ai Palazzi, details of the program may change during performance.” That should be interesting.

While wandering through Mrs. Dalloway’s before last night’s performances, I picked up a copy of Nichele Rose Orne’s Inspired to Knit. The title says it all.
Inspired to Knit

Offerings, Musical and Otherwise

Day-before-yesterday I somehow managed to slam my office door on the side of my head. Even as I did it, I was astounded by a) my own idiocy and b) the fact that it was even logistically possible to whack one’s self with a door in that particular spot. Yesterday, I was plagued by a stiff neck and fretted that I was at the start of some nasty, gland-swelling cold. Then it hit me (so to speak)—door injury! No, I am not ailing, just awkward and paying the price. I’m still stiff today, but relieved that I should be healthy enough for the big weekend Melissa and I have planned. All this, at the same time as we’re moving to a new home. I’m blessed to have found domestic cleaners Bournemouth & Poole with them I got my houses cleaned and moved into as smoothly as butter melts on a muffin.

To celebrate the end of the academic year, we went hog-wild and ordered all sorts of tickets to the Berkeley Festival and Exhibition. Five concerts in three days! We will be rocking it 16th Century style.

We will pretend that her studio is a rather Bohemian bed-and-breakfast with sub-par maid service (so hard to get good help—especially when that help is us) and a trio of cats provided gratis with every suite. Between concerts, we plan to stroll the streets of Berkeley, gazing at everything as if we are out-of-towners seeing it for the first time. We also hope to squeeze in a bit of wedding ring shopping. (The State Supreme Court refused to put a stay on its same-sex marriage ruling, so we will have the opportunity to make honest women of each other before our constitutional rights are subject to mob rule a referendum on the November ballot.)

Immediately upon getting home from work yesterday, I cast on a second Impressionist Cowl, this one in Classy from Dream in Color. Even the first version in less-than-luxury yarn was lovely. This one is yum-o-yum-o-yum!

If you are in the market for a new shawl pattern, check out Malaga from The Woollen Earth. I’ve just ordered a copy of this and am very much looking forward to knitting it. It has a graceful line, just the right number of bobbles (yes, there is a right number of bobbles and that number is not necessarily zero), and stitches that look interesting but not overwhelming.

Melissa is putting the finishing touches on several paintings for an upcoming solo show in Sacramento featuring her landscapes.
Melissa West: Vagabond Breakfast
If you’re anywhere near, do stop by (it’s at Butch ‘n’ Nellie’s Coffee Company, a great little cafe). The paintings will be up June 11th through July 6th, and there will be a reception the evening of June 14. We would both be glad to see you there, and I would be love to have a few people join me in an impromptu knit-in.

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Life is degenerating into chaos at what should be an alarming rate, but the end of the school year is in sight, so i find myself feeling uplifted, rather than panicked. I’m done teaching classes and just working my way through final meetings with students, then the whole seemingly limitless summer lies before me. At this point, I can still imagine accomplishing all I dream of over the break: taking care of grades and evaluations, reorganizing my work life, sorting my stash, getting back to work on some sink-my-teeth-into-it pattern designing (rather than the little bits of small-scale play I’ve managed lately)—not to mention the whole wedding thing.

I stayed up late last night finishing my Impressionist Cowl. All I have left to do is the grafting for the final stitches on the i-cord bind-off, but I want to hold off on that until I have a particularly lucid, patient moment. I knit it up in some Debbie Mumm Traditions that I picked up at Joann on a bit of a whim because I liked the colors (chocolate raspberry, which is a self-striping colorway that moves from raspberry to brown to coral). I am ambivalent about the yarn, which I pretty much knew I would be, as it’s 75/23/2 acrylic/wool/other, but the colors are lovely. It had that nasty, dry acrylic scratch as I started working with it, but definitely grew softer with handling. This yarn has a thick, black core, which shows through in spots, and as the core is a different fiber mix than the outer wrapping, the yarn tends to bunch up. After much frustration, I discovered if I just took hold of a yard or so at either end and gave it a quick tug, the two fibers sort of sproinged into harmony (if only there were more sproinging into harmony in this world of ours!), making the knitting much easier. This pattern works up fast and is entertaining, definitely worth another knit. I’d like to try one in (surprise!) Malabrigo and perhaps one of the softer Noros.

If you are in the mood to yield to temptation, you may want to cruise by either Discontinued Brand Name Yarn (some newer Cherry Tree Hill Closeouts and some Lily Chin) or Little Knits (Rowan Kidsilk Night at a bit over half off).

Clarabelle (her site has now gone private, so I’m afraid I can’t link you) tagged me for a meme that’s been making the rounds, so I’ll finish by answering those questions (let me know if you’d like to be tagged next!).

1. What were you doing ten years ago?
Pretty much what I’m doing right now—drooling in anticipation of the end of the academic year. (I’m afraid my life is rather predictable.)

2. What are five non-work things on your to-do list for today/tomorrow?
• Pick up requested library books—and get going on them!
• Cast on for another cowl (it’s all about the cowls right now).
• Take another look at my second Ruffles and Ridges shawl and see if I can do anything about the lumpy bit at the nape of the neck from the bind-off.
• Remember to put the Giants game on this afternoon while I’m stuck in the office.
• Spend tomorrow evening tucking in my baby-friend Tommy, whose mother is kind enough to share him with me once a week.

3. What snacks do you enjoy?
What don’t I enjoy?
Pink Popcorn is a definite favorite, now that I’ve found a small, out-of-the-way grocery that carries it (gas prices are well over $4 a gallon, but I’ll still go out of my way for pink popcorn). I have also been fighting a fierce jones-ing lately for Nacho Cheese Doritos. And hot dogs. Baseball season’s here, and I’m thinking hot dogs, hot dogs, hot dogs.

4. What would you do if you were a billionaire?
(I am rather glad I don’t actually have to deal with this issue as the moral responsibility would probably be more than I could bear).
I’d put most of it into a non-profit grant-giving organization of some sort that focused on small-scale development, educational, and environmental programs. But I confess that first I would skim enough off the top to generate a modest living-off-the-interest income for me and Melissa and to make a down payment on a house on the Oregon coast. I’d pick something older that came with some acreage, then pay to have it rewired and have custom cabinets put in every room before we moved in.

5. What are some of the places you’ve lived?
My childhood favorite was Cotati, California. When I was in college and doing summer-stock costuming work, I lived in Oakland (Woodminster), Salinas (The Western Stage), and Santa Clara (Theatre Santa Clara).

6. What are some of the jobs you’ve had?
Costumer designer, union organizer, public school outreach coordinator, waitress, receptionist, teacher.

7. What peeps do you want to know more about?
Any volunteers? I’m curious about pretty much everyone/everything.

Tuesday Mewsday: Louis Wain

As you all know, Melissa and I dream of achieving full crazy cat lady status as we lurch ungraciously into our senior years. And in the (approximate) words of Sir Isaac Newton: If we can see further into the craziness that is cat-dom it is because we stand on the shoulders of those giants who have gone all catnip and scritchy-scratchy before us. One of those giants is Louis Wain (1860-1939), cat artist and crazy cat person extraordinaire.
Louis Wain
You can check out the Wikipedia article, but the real gems are the links at its end.

Wain began as a rather ordinary illustrator whose cat pictures became increasingly anthropomorphic
anthropomorphic cats
and then transitioned into the positively psychedelic.
physchedelic cat

Today, I ask you to join me in raising a toast to his memory and to the potential for unbridled cat craziness that lies in each of us.

Drops’ Latest

In case you haven’t heard, Drops has posted their upcoming fall/winter designs so you can vote for your favorites. They’ve got some lovely pieces and a very wide variety. I was particularly taken with some of the cabling. You can vote for up to ten of the 177 (!) designs, so it takes a fair bit of clicking and thinking and list-making and list-shortening—just what a gal needs after four days of writing placement tests.

My faves? Here they be. (I’m just including the thumbnails; you can see bigger versions of the pics at their web site.)

I love the texture on this one, though if I were to knit it I’d shorten the body a bit so the waist didn’t ride as low as it does in the photo.

The length and fullness of this would require a good bit of knitting, but it would be a beautiful piece to wear to work. I’m particularly fond of the stand-up collar.

V-neck, cables, moss stitch—’nuff said.

Ok, ok, so this looks like half a dozen other patterns in my queue—that’s why I chose it.

Check out the cables on this beauty. And a hood—bonus!

More cables! Another hood!

I could figure this pattern out on my own, but it would be easier to follow theirs, and sometimes one needs easy. Doesn’t it look cozy?

I find this capelet variation irresistible.

This beret has a particularly nice shape, and I find the mix of blues with black-and-white positively uplifting.

Isn’t the shaping on this one great? I want to knit it up, just so I can check it out for myself.

So those are my choices. I’ll be waiting for them to appear on-line one-by-one over the next few months.

Which will you vote for?