Monday, December 10, 2007

think responsibly

So in the aforementioned care package from Jessa, I received the following:

Rap Snacks. (You know you want to click on it, don't lie to yourself. Don't skip the intro.)

Acting responsibly is one thing, but what the hell is thinking responsibly? I mean, you don't have to be responsible for your thoughts if you don't act on them. You just have to keep the crazy ones in your head. Like, "I wonder if you could put out a fire with ice cream." Okay, great. Interesting thought. Just don't test your theory. Or, "I wonder how many times I could poke the guy in the line in front of me before he totally snaps." Curiouser and curiouser. Let's just imagine it, though. "I wonder how these chips taste." Hmm, interesting question. Let's keep it in the realm of supposition, though. But just because I want to keep them forever and forever. Rap Snacks is love.

Monday, December 03, 2007

mystical math?

Someone found my blog by googling "mystical math." Isn't that a contradiction in terms? I mean, you can worship numbers or the Five Perfect Solids if you want, but really, math is not mystical, you are. Other recent hits include "mom foot," "cool knots tied with one hand," "Japan open container laws," "random facts about the Home Depot" (????), and my favorite, "hipster dinosaur robot."

I've encountered a little problem with my EZ saddle-shouldered sweater for Dad. That problem, for once, is not gauge. My gauge is PERFECT. What is not perfect is... my laziness. I asked my mom how big my dad's chest was, and she estimated 36" and said that a 40" sweater would be fine. It's true, he's not a big guy, but my chest is bigger than that. I should've asked her to measure (and him to pretend to forget... oh, who am I kidding, this cat is 40 miles down the road from the bag and hasn't stopped running yet), because when I finally broke down (under the desperate, consuming need to know--did I do all this stockinette for nothing?) and asked him if I could measure his chest, I came up with the horrifying, terrible number of...


That is two inches LARGER than my perfectly-on-gauge(-for-once) sweater, people! I may be able to block it bigger, but how much bigger? I don't want my dad walking around looking like a sweater girl! It's got to have some ease! Why did I do this to myself? WHY?

So I've put the sweater aside for now, to be rethought later, perhaps for Father's Day '09, and started on a pair of socks with some of Scout's Illini sock yarn (click on it, her photos are much better than mine!). I bought it ages ago, with my dad in mind (he and my mom met at the University of Illinois, 40 years ago this week, actually), but hadn't used it because based on what I've seen in the laundry room, all of his current socks appear to be black or dark brown. This may be an interesting experiment: will my dad actually wear anything I knit for him?

p.s. I got MAIL today: a care package from my best friend! Which she meant to send me while I was still in Japan, but hey! Snail mail is love, whenever it arrives! Included was Craft magazine, cover story Japan Style. Awww. I also got a ton of actual, frameable, non-jpg photographs and some candy corn. Which is already gone, unfortunately, or it would've made a nice addition to my very orangey photo. Check out her new baby decked out in his care-package-from-Japan bib, you guys!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

tradition, hoooo!

My Thanksgiving was pretty great. It involved my grandmother, aunt, uncle, and three cousins as well as ye olde nuclear family; my grandmother told us the story of how she and my grandfather met (the long version... again...), and my uncle and the boy cousin showed us all how you can make an awesome soda-pop volcano with Diet Coke and Mentos (seriously, try it--our best one shot up 7 feet!), and I introduced the whole family to Japanese television personality Hard Gay. The last of which resulted in our gathering around my uncle's laptop watching youtube clips for over an hour and then ending all of our sentences with "HOOOOOO!" for probably another hour. I really hope that becomes a tradition.

An already-established tradition is that of me starting my Christmas knitting in July or August, going like gangbusters, and then stopping for some reason and waking up mid-November realizing how little time I have left. This year it's a sweater for my father, an Elizabeth Zimmerman saddle-shoulder in Cascade 220, sort of a slate-grey color. And this year's reason for stopping was the aforementioned disaster. For almost two months before I left Japan, we were pretty sure that the end was near, but hoped that it wasn't. Our mid-September paychecks were late, and I just gave up, because I didn't want to knit the fear and indecision and general negativity into my father's sweater. Well, really, I was too depressed to have the energy to keep working on it. So I have barely touched it in almost two months, and it's just this torso-tube, and I can't find more than two size 7 dpns to start a sleeve, and I braved the Christmas-shopper traffic today to go buy some with my dwindling funds, and the craft store didn't have any. I mean, come on! Are they unaware that I've just been through an international unemployment incident? Do they know it's Christmastime at all? Won't somebody please think of the children?

So I've rooted around and somehow come up with a couple of fives and a couple of sixes, and I'm going to cast on with those and see if they'll get me through the ribbing, after which I can switch to a hat-sized circ.

Hope your Thanksgivings were as full of joy, food, sugar explosions, and hip-thrusting as mine was.

Friday, November 16, 2007

let's do this organized

Thanks for the nice supportive comments, guys. It means that much more since I haven't been able to keep up with your blogs/lives since I've been computerless.

Today and yesterday I tried to ignore my jet lag and get some things done. I exchanged money, which took an hour in my small-town branch bank, because they don't do it that often and had forgotten how, and because Linda (the teller, whom the whole town apparently knows) had to chat to everyone who came in, and because everyone who worked there had to come over and see what yen look like (for which I really can't blame them because foreign currency is pretty interesting). I drove around alternately soaking in the fall colors and being outraged at the pace of development ("Oh my GOD, the LAST time I was here this was all TREEEEES!"). And today I am alternately IM-ing my old roommate, who is still in Japan, and freaking out over grad school applications. Later, if I ever get out of my pajamas, I'm going to visit some temp agencies in an attempt to alleviate my extreme poverty.

But hey! What I don't have is poverty of experience! Today's photo is a subway station (obviously). Totally original observation: Japan is the cleanest, most organized place I have ever been. You can see your reflection in the floors of the subway cars. I went to one of those horrible big-box discount stores with my mother to stock up for Thanksgiving and found myself wishing it were as clean as a Japanese subway station bathroom. And that it smelled as good. I can't believe we're going to eat food we bought there. The little feet in the picture are where you line up. The dark bar on the ground is where the door opens, every time. It's so orderly. Unlike, say, CHICAGO O'HARE.

It is totally weird having culture shock in your own country. (Hey, check me out, I'm going to be one of those people who, for the rest of their lives, is like, "Well, when I was in JAPAN...")

Thursday, November 15, 2007

this is the ceiling

in the main area of Terminal 1 at Narita Airport, at which I stared for hours on Monday. I took the midnight bus to Tokyo (it actually leaves at 10:50pm but "midnight bus to Tokyo" sounds so much better) the night before, arrived at the airport at 6:30, and had to wait til 11:45 for United's check-in counters to open before I could ditch my overweight suitcases. Literally overweight, I mean, I had to pay extra. So I had plenty of time to watch the shadows on the beams change and contemplate the disaster and my future. I'd been trying not to think about either. But now I have to. I'm at my parents' house in PA, a jet-lagged charity case.

But at least I got six months.

Monday, October 08, 2007

oh hey, don't I have a blog?

...but not a computer? It's been back in PA at my parents' house for two weeks now while HP avoids our calls. I've never been less impressed with a company's customer service.

It's a shame to whine while I'm doing something as exciting as living in a foreign country but without my computer to record everything, how will I remember anything? And I don't care if this is cheesy--I want to share my freakin' experiences with my family! Nothing counts if they don't know about it. Plus it would be nice to be able to keep up with their lives, too.


have some rice.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Forget me not, for I remember you, although it may not seem like it because HP is a slightly unhelpful company

My computer is totally, completely, stone-cold dead.

I bought it in March. It started having problems in May.

I'm furious.

I have to send it back to the U.S. on my own dime, wait for them to fix (or, given how things have gone so far, "fix") it and ship it to my parents, and then wait for them to ship it to me. The frustration is threatening my health, seriously, so I just try not to think about it. If it weren't for my amazing email-capable Japanese cell phone and my awesome technologically generous roommate Amy (whose laptop I'm currently using), I would have no communication with the outside world whatsoever. I'm in a country where I can't even read street signs, so you can imagine how completely out-of-touch I feel. It would be different if this were back in the day, before email and blogs and craftster and tvlinks, and if I were thus mentally hardened for the ordeal, but it's not, and everyone around me is so freakin' connected, and asking if I've heard about some senator who did something, as if I could possibly know any news that isn't part of Sendai's only English-language news broadcast...

oh, I know, poor, poor me. There are starving children in Africa who don't even have computers. But imagine! Seriously! Imagine running your life without a computer for three months! Now imagine doing it from a foreign country! Where the internet cafe has for some reason blocked some functions of web-based email such as the REPLY and NEW MESSAGE functions which are the MOST IMPORTANT FUNCTIONS. For fuck's sake.

Now if you haven't gone into a dark room to lie down after that horrific scenario has played itself out in your mind, I'd like to apologize for not answering your email/checking your blog/noticing your death.

On the upside, I taught someone the words "brewery" and "distillery" today, and I finally finished my Tivoli. Pictures... someday, if I don't suddenly become a Luddite out of conviction rather than necessity.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

wish you were here

legs on beach
Originally uploaded by safety dance.
Wish I were still there, too.
Nobiru Beach

Sunday, July 29, 2007

three things that caused me nearly to wet myself

1. Someone found my blog by googling "dance song that goes-doo doo doo doo doo".
2. I've been perusing this evening and wish I could find this hat. It would be a fantastic Father's Day gift.

3. And, so as not to go photo-less into that good night, some Engrish I saw on the street:

Friday, July 27, 2007

just me?

...or is it really rude to ask someone if they regret getting a tattoo? Like, in casual conversation? I mean, you would never ask someone if they regretted having a baby or not going to college. Or, say, gaining weight or wearing Uggs. I'm just sayin.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

hot hot heat

I went to an onsen with my roommate Amy today. It was a co-ed onsen, but because the main onsen was men-only until 7 pm, the only other people there were women and a little boy who was really not happy to be there. There were both indoor and outdoor onsens, so of course we chose the outdoor, mostly because we're both northern girls and, hey, did you know, hot springs are REALLY hot? It was really pleasant to sit on the rocks with your feet in the onsen as it started cooling down in the evening, though.

It was really unpleasant to get out of the onsen and walk down to the bus stop and wait for the bus in the rain, however. Then as we tried not to fall asleep on the bus we realized neither of us had eaten since last night. We got off the bus, onto the subway, and finally to the yakitori (aka kebab, aka food on a stick) place right by our subway stop.

This is where it gets fun, because two men and a woman were having a big night out and were enjoying watching us eat our baked potato with chopsticks, and one of the men came over to talk to us, and he asked what country we were from. Amy said she was English, and the man said, "Ah. [gesturing to his friends] We are Japanese!" and everybody cracked up. I'm still laughing. They bought us some ginger and wasabe yakitori, clearly anticipating the eye-watering and mouth-fanning, but even Amy didn't think it was that hot. Although our sinuses are quite clear now. As we left, one of them yelled, "next time!" which has caused Amy and I to start a "he LIKES you" war.

Pictures soon--er, not of the onsen experience, but of the beautiful town the onsen was in.

Monday, July 16, 2007

It felt like I was on a boat

Yes, I felt the earthquakes yesterday. The first one was during my first lesson of the day and lasted maybe fifteen seconds. When it stopped, we just continued the lesson like nothing had happened, although I was totally thrown off my game (and I assume the students were much more so--after all, on this whole continent I have only myself to worry about). All the local news is in Japanese, of course, so we had to wait for the Western world to wake up and report on it before we knew what was going on. Just as we were going to bed, we felt the second quake. I was lying in bed and watching a downloaded episode of Heroes, and the shaking was gentler than earlier but it went on for more than a minute. When it finally subsided I got up and consulted with my shaken (heh) roommates. We checked the internet for updates, but even forty-five minutes later there was still nothing; we tried finding some coverage in English on TV, but to no avail, so we gave up and watched a few minutes of a learning-English game show. The contestants had to fill in the blanks of a English sentence after listening to three or four native speakers say it. It was pretty amusing, but not nearly as good as Japanese commercials, of which my current favorite is the Kirin ad featuring "We Will Rock You."

(We're far enough from the epicenter that there doesn't seem to have been any local damage, but there are thousands homeless in Niigata. I'm trying to figure out how to donate or volunteer to the Japan Red Cross, but so far haven't found it.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I don't knit lace on the train

Not since I had to frog the beginnings of my Orangina. Don't ask me why, but suddenly, about two years after the Orangina craze, I suddenly, out of the blue, decided to knit it the other day, bought the pattern, and found some Japanese yarn. I don't know what fiber it is exactly--it says 70% something, 30% something else, and neither things are the characters for cotton or wool... It says SoftRamie on the front of the ball band, and I'm fairly sure the 70% is the katakana for acrylic. But it feels nice enough and it was on sale, so I went with it.

So, my dad taught me to use chopsticks when I was a little girl. I promptly forgot and devised my own way. He has since told me I do it wrong, but I'm so good at doing it my way that I didn't have patience for learning to do it all over again the right way. Well, the other day I went out for soba with some friends. It's pretty cool, actually--you order using a vending machine outside on the sidewalk and it gives you a ticket with your order on it, and then you go inside and hand the guy behind the counter your ticket and tell him what kind of noodles you want (soba or udon), and in a few minutes you've got yourself bowl o' noodles. It's a standing restaurant, too--no chairs. So anyway, I'm standing there trying to eat noodles with chopsticks, which involves slurping, which is totally polite in Japan but which I still cannot force myself to do, and which is actually really difficult to do anyway, without making the noodles fly all around and fling sauce on your shirt, when these three late-middle-aged businessmen come in and stand next to us and start... observing how I eat my noodles. They found it very amusing. I wasn't terribly embarrassed or anything but it made it that much harder to eat with grace, knowing that I was being watched. So then one of them tapped my shoulder and said "wrong," while pointing to my chopsticks. Disconcerted, I said, "...oh?" (Brilliant international communication! We will reach understanding!) He grabbed a pair of chopsticks and said, "sample, sample," showing me by example how to hold it so that the lower chopstick stays still and the upper chopstick moves (just like my very American dad does it). Well, it's hard to overcome twenty years of chopsticking, so I made some mistakes and got some more sauce (which is clear, but also oily, so it still leaves a stain) on my shirt. But at least I provided them with some amusement. I'm sure they have traveled for business to the U.S. or had to interact with foreigners for business, or they wouldn't have remembered (from their school days) enough English to talk to me, therefore they must've been the embarrassed party at some point, so I didn't mind so much, but sometimes it's hard to tell when people are laughing with you and when they're laughing at you, so it wasn't exactly fun.

My friends suggested that next time I should just shake my head and claim, "Korean style!"

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Never mind

no, really...

I mean, thanks, Blogger, for realizing that I'm in Japan and maybe I read Japanese, but hey, maybe I don't, and you know, maybe I'd like to DELETE A POST you know, and I can't figure out how the hell to do that. But whatevs, that's cool, don't even worry about it. Peace.

p.s. AND ANOTHER THING!! I can't change my template. Grrr.

I knit on the train

jaywalkers numero tres
Originally uploaded by safety dance.

My first Japanese FO: another pair of jays.

pattern the ubiquitous Jaywalkers

yarn contest prize from strangelittlemama--she dyed it herself! Thanks, Carole!

needles size 1 Susan Bates dpns

mods made the legs shorter because I didn't know how much yarn I had--turns out there was plenty

started May 6, 2007, in the US of A
finished July 1, 2007, in the land of the rising sun.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

yeah, I crossed that bridge

I went hiking today at a place called Oku-Nikkawa. I filled up my memory card but a lot of the photos didn't turn out because it was a bad day for lighting. Oku-Nikkawa is barely a town, just a train platform and a couple buildings, but it has a camping area and a few trails, and from the train platform you can hear the rushing of water from the valley below. It was fantastic to get out of the city and get away from people. (It was less than fantastic getting back on the train soaked in humidity and sweat and rain, and go back to Sendai Station where all the businesspeople were commuting home in their suits.) I discovered that the "river walk" actually goes THROUGH the river and it was just too cold and the bottom of the creek too rocky to keep wading, so I headed up to the mountain trail instead.
The train passes over the trail at a couple of points, but I forgot that when I went down a little side trail back down to the creek. I was crouching at the edge of the water taking my usual super-fascinating close-up photos of moss and lichen when I heard thunder, and thought, "that's weird, I thought Japan didn't get thunderstorms--hey, sounds like it's getting closer--oh my god ROCKSLIDE OH MY GOD oh right it's just the train." Turns out there was a bridge almost directly over my head that was concealed by the thick vegetation. At least I was alone so there was no one to see me jump up and overreact like a moron. Except for how I just, you know, told the whole internet.

Oh, and today I taught someone the difference between "she's wearing a bikini" and "she wears a bikini." Not a big deal? Think about the difference between "she's drinking" and "she drinks."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Matsushima, ah!

Maybe it's all the Cocktail Partners, but I just have nothing to add.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

now try it with one hand tied behind your back!

Think it's a pain in the ass calling tech support in your own country? Try doing it in a foreign country! That's right, fans and friends, I have just spent two hours testing my patience. It's amazing--I don't consider myself a patient person, generally, and especially not in traffic, but the knowledge that I am the outsider in the situation, the person for whom special consideration is being offered, makes me capable of putting up with an awful lot. Or maybe the fact that my support person (supporter?) spoke little English and I (still) speak next to no Japanese made it easier--everything was said very slowly, clearly, and deliberately, with no extraneous chit-chat or nonsense, and although it took ages, I did resolve a few things. I'm still not quite up to full speed, possibly because of a virus (yay!), but I'm working on it. I must say I am really enjoying spending my whole day off on it, too, when I could be at the beach or in the mountains. Whatever, HP, that's cool.

More pictures, less bitching, when all my problems (well, at least my computer problems) are resolved.

p.s. I finally got my gaijin card the other day--I'm officially a resident alien now.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Originally uploaded by safety dance.
I took a rainy-day walk up to this temple that overlooks the city. Since it was a rainy Thursday, I was the only person there, alone with the screaming birds and the ashes of people who've been buried there. It was lovely.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You never don't have space for a garden

I'm so impressed by the creation of privacy and use of space in Japan.

(Which I then invade.)

Monday, May 28, 2007

my local neighborhood shrine

I don't know what it was lit up for exactly--some kind of matsuri, announced on red banners all up and down the canal, but of course, I can't read Japanese.

So far, I'd say that teaching conversational English is about as interesting as you want to make it. I've had some great students and some weird students and some students who were only there because their parents make them go, and I've gotten some really great questions. I'm getting better at defining or exemplifying succinctly words like just, even, and still; and nuances like "on top of" as opposed to "on." (I had to think about that one--it seems like we usually say "on" when referring to something that usually has stuff on it, and "on top of" when referring to something that doesn't, as in, "I put it on the table" versus "I put it on top of the refrigerator.") Looking at my notes from today, I explained "modest," "archaeologist," "glacier," and "monsoon." Of course, it gets a little repetitive, but I think that's true of teaching in general. So far, so good.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

seven random facts

Madalyn tagged me for a seven weird things meme. It fits in perfectly with my new plan to not actually think, just make lists, so here goes. Here are the rules: Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those who are tagged need to write on their own blog those 7 facts as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.

1. I am infamous among my family and former roommates for taking really long showers. My record is one hour and forty-five minutes. (That was my freshman year of college, and my excuse is that, having moved from my parents' quiet, peaceful house in the country into a dorm full of three hundred shrieking women, the shower was the only place I could be alone.) I try to keep it down to a normal, non-wasteful ten minutes or so, but every so often I just forget and realize I've been standing there thinking about nothing for half an hour.

2. I believe in all that birth-order stuff. Strongly, embarrassingly strongly, given how completely scientifically unsound it is.

3. As a child, I was so terrified of the dentist that I had to be given liquid sedative in the morning before school, another dose when my mom picked me up for the appointment, and then laughing gas when I got there. And I was still nervous.

4. I have a math tattoo. I am not good at, nor do I particularly like, math. (I meant to showcase it when Scout's tattoo meme was going around, but I was too busy. I'll have to do that sometime.)

5. I am very monogamous, perfume-wise. I've only worn two scents in the last twelve years, and I only switched because they stopped making the first one. (And now they've stopped making the second one. Fear not: I stocked up when it was on sale.) My mom has worn the same perfume as long as I can remember, so maybe it's genetic.

6. I moved to Japan speaking exactly six words of Japanese. Smart!

Let's see... I tag Jodi, Noelle, Beverly, Jaime, Carole, Ramona, and Molly.

(Oh, I had my first real day of work today. I was exhausted by the time I got home, but guess what? Japan apparently has no open container laws. My supervisor and I stopped at the convenience store and had some beers on the train. Always a silver lining.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

five things I have discovered about Japan.

Wisteria over the canal along my street.
1. It's humid. Dear god, is it humid. I'd forgotten what it's like to leave home with wet hair and then arrive at work with hair still wet.

2. Black coffee is called American coffee; medium is M-size.

3. Produce is expensive. I just had my first piece of fruit since I left the U.S. It was an apple. It was heavenly. It should've been, it cost me a dollar.

4. The 99 yen shop is a godsend. Right next to the subway station, it sells everything from beer to makeup to (overpriced) produce.

5. Every store has its own little theme song that's stuck in your head for hours after you leave.

(My new job is a little overwhelming right now so I apologize if you've been waiting with bated breath for fantastic photos of Shinto shrines or anything. Haven't had time yet.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Thanks, blogger, but I can't read Japanese

I'm in Japan!
It's 9:47 am here, and I've been awake since six and up since seven, and neither of my roommates has stirred yet, unless they got up and left before six, which seems awfully early since we all went to bed at the same time, and the one has the day off and the other doesn't work til 1pm. So I'm tiptoeing around trying to be quiet, but the hardwood floors are creaky. My luggage should be delivered shortly, so I should put on some clothes to go down and get it, and then I can go out and start my day--I have to register for my alien registration card and find an adapter for my laptop power cord. The plugs/sockets are the same as in the U.S., but all the sockets in my apartment have two holes, and my laptop plug has three prongs.

I talked to a flight attendant, who coincidentally is from Rio Rancho, and who was knitting her first sock. I was knitting (yet another) Jaywalker. I started it Sunday night, just to have something on the needles when I went through security, and am already on the gusset decreases. Go, sleeplessness!

No pictures or amazing cultural insights or anything yet--most of the time I've spent in Japan so far it's been dark out, and I've either been sleeping, showering, or struggling vainly not to look like I'm struggling as I stagger from airport shuttle train to bullet train to local subway to apartment. My apt building is on a one-lane street along a canal. Our balcony overlooks something that's either a cemetery or a tombstone store. My room is tiny but I'll just have to become neat and organized and not buy a lot of unnecessary stuff. It has a window, through which, all night, I heard this bird that sounds like a person yelling. There's no screen, and we kept the balcony door open all night, so apparently flying insects are not a problem.

Oh, and Blogger and Google have translated everything handily into characters for me, so I have to go by memory which thing to click on... hope this is "submit"...

Friday, May 04, 2007

I'm published

Okay, it's only on my dad's website, but still: I reviewed the 2007 Suzuki Reno as a favor to him, and also to avoid driving my own car (on which I have greatly reduced the insurance coverage, since it's just going to be parked in my parents' garage while I'm in Japan, thus making me paranoid about getting into an accident right before I leave) to visit Katie in West Chester last weekend. (If this is the kind of thing that interests you, or someone you know, my dad has written a few books; his latest is 365 Cars You Must Drive, with Matt Stone.)

Oh, Katie and I discovered that, absent campfire, you can make smores over a candle.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


I spent all day at the outlet mall, stocking up on (ugh) pantyhose and crap like that, so what's more natural than to come home and take an internet quiz on my last words? I swear, this afternoon, I figured they would be "Excuse me, there's a line."

Your Famous Last Words Will Be:

"So, you're a cannibal."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

unintentional keyhole neck

I don't think I've blogged about this project at all, although I did work on it my last night at ABQ SNB (sob). I saw that Andean Silk Twist was on sale (apparently because it's being discontinued) a few months ago, 1 ball for $1.99, so I ordered some. I wasn't sure I liked when I got it, but I dove in and started knitting. Well, I'm still not sure I like it, but here it is. Self-designed almost-an-FO, colorway sunset, which looks gorgeous close-up, but which from far away is just a muddle. (This is probably why Andean Silk Twist is being discontinued--the colorways were, um, not great. Good idea in theory, though. Maybe they'll come up with some new Twists!)

I've blocked the crap outta this mofo and still, when I pin it to mimic how I want the buttons to go, it's all gappy! So I'm going to leave it like this, find a really cool button or pin to put right at the top and a dark blue cami to wear underneath, and call it a keyhole neck. Totally on-purpose design element! Totally!

Charles Has A Licking Problem

Daily dose of pug.

FO post later today, maybe... I somehow wove in all ends but one, so I need to remedy that and get some buttons and make myself presentable for the camera. Like Charles.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I found out today where I'm being assigned--Sendai, City of Trees! I leave in less than two weeks. I can't believe I'm actually doing this, and I mean that in a good way.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

this would have been a photograph

...but I'm a spaz. I heard a shuffling noise in the woods and looked out the window, and a lone wild turkey was meandering across my parents' backyard. I grabbed my camera and headed for the front door, since it looked like it was headed for the front yard via the driveway. Unfortunately, the camera's batteries were dead. I changed them quickly and went out to the front yard, all congratulating myself for saving the day with my speedy battery-action, and turned on the camera and the damn thing was in setup mode and I couldn't remember how to get it into picture-taking mode. The turkey, which had indeed crossed into the front yard, saw me out of the corner of its beady little eye and started "running." Despite how incredibly slowly a wild turkey runs, it was still out of range (by which I mean camouflaged with underbrush) by the time I got the camera sorted. Although actually I could still hear it. You wouldn't think something so slow and defenseless should be so noisy and, well, not extinct yet.

Anyway, there would've been some authentic PA wildlife to accompany my official announcement that two weeks from today, I will be on a plane to Japan. Well, first to Detroit. But then, Japan.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

CPHoenix: ashes reconstructed

The Central Park Hoodie is dead. Long live the Phoenix!

When I finished this sweater in February and tried it on, I was crushed to find that through some mysterious quirk of gauge it was both too short and too tight. One or the other might be bearable, or both if it were 100% natural fiber. But I used Woolease, so obviously blocking it larger wasn't a solution. Fortunately for me, rather than rip this yarn from its second sweaterly incarnation, I have a shorter, slimmer sister to whom I owe a sweater (see Skully, Christmas '05).

It's somewhat self-designed, as in, I took someone else's shaping and sizing and modified it heavily. This is based on my old friend, the Hourglass Sweater from LMKG, with embossed twining leaf leace from Vogue Knitting on the sleeves. I added ribbing with baby cables to the hem and just plain ribbing (because baby cables are too fussy to keep making) to the neckline, which if I'm totally honest I think is too big, but I actually really like with a t-shirt, tank, or button-down underneath.

I used the embossed twining vine leaf lace pattern from Vogue Knitting. I also originally wanted to make the raglan lines stand out, but couldn't figure out how to do it; I wanted the appearance of a seam, to make the stockinette body and reverse-stockinette sleeves look like they'd been sewn together from other sweaters. But I like the little purl channel I made instead. Instead of decreasing ssk, k1, k2tg, I did ssk, p1, k2tog. I'll definitely be using that again.
Now to go outside and enjoy the last sunshine before this 20-year storm they're predicting...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Huh? The circus is where?

Finally finished my circus-freak jays.

Pattern: Grumperina's Jaywalkers, of course
Yarn: Regia Something. I've lost the ball band. Whatever this stuff is, though, it's awfully splitty. I won't be using it again. If, uh, I can remember what it is before I buy it.
Mods: Made them shorty-socks because I felt lazy. Only 2 or 3 inches above the heel instead of 7.
Started/Completed: March 2006/April 2007. The longest-running UFO I had. And I finished it! Now I'm going to tackle my Picovoli.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

back in PA

...where it is still not spring yet. Right after I took this picture, it started snowing. I squealed with glee.
My drive cross-country was, well, long. I stopped in St. Louis to see my aunt and her family, saw her photos from her honeymoon in Japan, attended my first-ever Boy Scout meeting, and got some Japanese culture tips. I thought I would be able to do the next leg all in one day, and should have been able to, really, but I got up late, lingered over coffee with my aunt, got stuck in traffic outside St. Lou, got a speeding ticket in rural Illinois, and then drove through a violent storm the entire width of Indiana. I had to wait part of it out at a gas station, under the roof, because it was starting to hail and I had my snowboard on the roof and my bike on the back. By the time I passed Columbus, OH, I was done. I checked into a hotel, assisted by two extremely perky ladies named Mary Lou and Mary Kay, like they were hired as a matched set, then dragged myself to Cracker Barrel for a lovely greasy, fattening dinner. The next day I had a nice nostalgia attack as I drove across PA; having gone to college in western PA, I drove I-80 countless times during those 4 years and have a bunch of silly rituals to perform at certain landmarks--singing a song I made up about Dubois, only stopping for gas at Snowshoe, yelling "we're all gonna die!" at the first sight of the cooling towers of the Berwick nuclear power plant, etc. (You have to understand, most of those countless times I was alone, and had to entertain myself somehow.)
So now I'm marking time here until May. I had dinner with my niece and nephew the other day, and tonight my sister Katie is coming up for the weekend, and my parents have threatened to put me to work in the garden if it ever gets warm enough, so I'll have plenty to do. Besides unpacking and repacking everything I brought/sent home as I try to figure out exactly what I can't live without in Japan.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

So far, this move has required 14 trips to Goodwill, 5 trips to the post office, 1 oil change, 2 trips to the attitude-laced used book store, 1 argument with a lady at the bank, and 2 edge-of-a-nervous-breakdown phone calls to my mom. Because I can't get anything more done until I can get to Target for more trash bags, and because I live near a major intersection that's always hell at rush hour, I'm taking some time out to do a meme, seen at Gee You Knit. If you're reading, consider yourself tagged.

Directions: If your life was a movie, what would the soundtrack be?
1. Open your mp3 library
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Press Play.
4. For every question, type the song that’s playing.
5. When you go to a new question, press the Next button.
6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool. (no worries here, as I'm extremely uncool.)
7. Don’t skip songs.
My Movie:
1. Opening credits: Serenade #13 in G/Mozart
2. Waking up: Gerbil/Filter
3. First day of school: The Movement of a Hand/Bright Eyes
4. Fight song: My England/Lady Sovereign
5. Breaking up: Ten Minutes/The Get-up Kids
6. Happiness: Mine's Not a High Horse/The Shins (who will be in town April 10th, and I won't be here! Dammit!!)
7. Life’s okay: Bridge Over Troubled Water/Johnny Cash with Fiona Apple
8. Mental breakdown: Candy/Morphine
9. Driving: Voices Carry/Til Tuesday
10. Flashback: Don't Make Me Ill/A.F.I.
11. Getting back together: Silver and Gold/Dolly Parton (yes, really. LOVE her, been to Dollywood.)
12. Wedding song: Once Again/Slick Shoes
13. Birth of first child: Jesus Walking on the Water/Violent Femmes
14. Final battle scene: Go!/Long Shot Hero (my sister's band! what what!)
15. Death scene: The Company Dime/The Get-up Kids
16. Funeral song: Two Crooks/American Steel
17. End credits: The Difference in the Shades/Bright Eyes

It's almost 5:30 now, so I suppose by the time I'm ready to walk out the door, traffic will be bearable. I better stop killing time and actually get things done.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tuesday randomness

1. One of the hardest things about packing for a big move is deciding which of your short-sleeve v-neck black t-shirts is the definitive short-sleeve v-neck black t-shirt, and which of your many pairs of pajama pants are the only pair you really need.

2. I can't stand when people take your clothes out of the washing machine because they just can't wait the additional minute and a half for you to get there and they're just too lazy to walk down to the other laundry room.

3. I really, really hate the word "gal." To me it's the verbal equivalent of not taking off your hat indoors. I don't suppose that makes sense to anyone else, but whenever I hear that word I see that guy in the cowboy hat from the old Smuckers All-fruit commercial bellowing, "couldya please pass the JELLY?"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

tent ROCKS!

As part of my farewell tour of New Mexico, I went hiking at Tent Rocks today with my friend Wendy. Too tired to say anything interesting about it, but I took a lot of photos.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Very Merry I Quit My Job Day to You!

Japan here I come! Well, my departure date is May 8th, so not yet, actually. But at least I don't ever have to go back there! Well, except for Monday when I go in to sign and fax my last time sheet. But I'm done! I'm finished! I'm unemployed and loving it!

I think I'm going to treat myself to Coldstone and then sit outside and work on my dad's cycling aran--new and improved on smaller needles!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I can't think of a clever title

So I didn't get tagged, but I'm doing this meme anyway, seen at Ramona's: Describe your life in five-year intervals counting backward from 2007. So that means every year ending in 2 or 7.

1982: I was three. We lived in Reisterstown, Maryland; we had a long-haired cat named Fuzzy; my mom was pregnant with my sister Katie. My older sister and the boy down the street cut off my pigtails. I think we were co-flower girls in a wedding. I went to pre-school and learned to swim this year. The parents in my playgroup nicknamed me Bubbling White Sugar, which if you ask me is not much of a nickname since it's longer than my actual name.

1987: I was eight. Fuzzy died when I was seven and we got a new cat, Heather, who was a one-person cat. And I was her person. She slept on my bed every night and came when I called her and even met me at the bus-stop after school. Heather died when I was sixteen and I still get all choked up about her. My teacher this year was Mrs. Gede, who is my favorite teacher ever. She had to teach us a health unit and said that she could choose between teaching us about nutrition or about drugs. She chose drugs, because her teenaged son had been an addict and killed himself. It was pretty heavy stuff to tell third-graders, but I liked that she did it. As a teenager, whenever I misbehaved, I felt like I was letting down Mrs. Gede as well as my parents. So I didn't misbehave much.

1992: I was thirteen. Yuck. I played field hockey and read a lot.

1997: Like Ramona, I had a car with a name. Mine was Frankie the Ford Festiva, named after Frankie Avalon. I took a notoriously bad curve a little too wide one day, hit gravel, overcorrected, and shot across the road and off the other side and into a garage owned by, as luck would have it, my fifth grade math teacher. Frankie was totaled. Because I hit a building.

2002: I was 23 and had lived in New Mexico for one year. I was in grad school and hating it. That summer I spent on an archaeological survey at Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert, hottest place in the U.S. I got paid the best hourly rate I've ever gotten to hike and look for artifacts in temperatures upwards of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say, I was in the best shape of my life. And dammit, I have no pictures!

2007: I'll be 28 next month and I'm leaving for Japan May 8th. I'm sorting through all my belongings trying to figure out what I like enough to ship home to store at my parents, what I love enough to ship to Japan, and what I just don't care about and can give to Goodwill. I have a a 20 x 20 x 12 inch box of yarn and WIPs to be sent to Japan. And I'm still buying stuff--I found my 2006 birthday present from my friends Amy and Shamsi, a gift certificate to Village Wools, and I had to run up there and spend it. I spent wisely though--I got yarn for a Hello Yarn Cycling Aran for my dad and for Grumperina's Shifting Sands scarf for my brother-in-law-to-be. Because the more Christmas gifts I can finish before I go, the less I ultimately have to pay in shipping.

Friday, March 16, 2007

doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?

Well, I don't. In two weeks I'm leaving Albuquerque. It's been five and a half years. I hated it when I first moved here. I wasn't used to such a wide-open, treeless space, it was way too hot, and the eternal sunshine was frustrating. (I know that's weird, but I'd been living in the Great Lakes region, and each rare sunny day is like a holiday to the point that college girls will lay out in bikinis if the temperature rises above 50. So for me the sunshine was less "what a beautiful day!" and more "I can't believe I have to sit inside ALL DAY. What a waste.") Anyway, now I like it. (Well, most of it.) But I've been treading water the last two years or so, knowing that what I moved here (grad school/archaeology) is not the thing for me, and it feels good to have made the decision to move on to something else.

You may be asking yourself, what is that something else? Well, even if you aren't, I'll tell you. I'm moving to Japan for a year. I'm going to teach English and experience a new culture and eat a lot of vegetarian sushi. Before I go, I'll be spending about a month at my parents' house in PA, since I won't be coming home for the holidays. I'm very excited and a little scared. I've never lived in another country (or even been to one, besides Canada and Mexico), I don't speak any Japanese (well, I can count to five), and I'm allergic to fish. Plus, I hate moving. But still, I'm looking forward to it.

Anyway, in the spirit of closure, I give you Six Things I'll miss about New Mexico (in no particular order) (I tried to make it five or ten but six just felt right)
1. Green chile and cheese on everything, fantastic salsa, breakfast burritos... well, all the food really
2. the mountains--besides the hiking and the snowboarding and the amazing views while you're up there, it's so great to look up from a traffic jam and be reminded of the sublime.
3. the dry air. I hate humidity.
4. Albuquerque Stitch n Bitch, although it's not like I ever get a chance to go anymore
5. the relaxed dress code--I swear, dressing professionally is going to be harder than not speaking the native language, I've gotten so used to jeans being acceptable pretty much everywhere.
6. my friends. Good peeps. I hope I have visitors in Japan. (Although I'd rather they finish their dissertations first. Priorities, you know.)

Friday, March 02, 2007

feeling scottish

That's what my dad called it, and we can say that because we are Scottish. Well, part. I'm queasy because I just spent a ridiculous (for me) amount of money. I just ordered a new laptop, or notebook, as the kids are apparently callin' 'em these days, and because I'm going to use it to replace my desktop entirely I dropped a pretty solid chunk of change. I know it's (probably) worth what I'm paying, but I don't have it in my hands yet and can't play with it and haven't even tested the keyboard. So I feel like I basically just threw my money away. Ugh, I hate spending money. My dad's more-sympathetic-than-its-sounds response? "Wait 'til you buy a house."

I'm going to try to stop thinking about it now. The whole time I was clicking around the internet checking out notebooks (look, I can be taught!), I was working on a new project: an entrelac (look, I can be taught!) scarf. I'm really frustrated with the Phoenix (nee Central Park Hoodie) because I apparently stretched it out while measuring and it is at least two inches too short, hem-to-armpit, for me. It's also too tight, and since it's Wool-ease I don't know if I can block it big enough to be comfortable. I'm not a fan of short or tight, and definitely not short AND tight. So while I decide whether I want to try to undo the cast-on edge and knit down, or just give it to my slimmer, shorter little sister, I've started Knitty's Danica for my older sister's birthday. I'm fairly sure she doesn't read this, so I'm safe posting it here. Besides which, this may not be its final incarnation yet. I hate skinny scarves, I prefer fat, wide, almost-a-shawl scarves, so this just isn't enough scarf; I don't like scarves that have a wrong side, so I'm either going to have to line it (ugh) or rip it and knit it as a tube; I may have to buy more yarn, I may turn it into a Clapotis out of sheer laziness, etc.
I really am enjoying the entrelac though, and the Patons SWS I'm using is surprisingly lush and soft for yarn that came from Michaels. And when my laptop gets here, I can fashion it some fun plug-in devices like these. I saw someone on craftster make one out of a $1 bathtub toy from Target and some carefully-applied superglue.

Friday, February 09, 2007

this life one leaf

The ashes of the Central Park Hoodie continue to reassemble themselves. I'm finished with the body up to the armscyes (ahh, stockinette in the round, so boring, so restful) and am now trying to decide what I want to do with the sleeves. I've decided on this embossed twining vine leaf lace from Vogue Knitting. My first swatch attempt was in the round, based on instructions for knitting flat. I tried to mentally switch those odd-row k's to p's and vice versa, but damn, that's a lot to keep straight while Sayid's running around in a wifebeater, flexing and stuff. So I knit a flat swatch first, then once I'd decided I liked the results, I typed out an in-the-round version of the lace pattern. This is really my first lace. Exciting!

Also exciting? Hanging around at home on your day off because you've got a gash in the sidewall of your tire, and you've ordered new tires (online, that is, because it's so much better for the blood pressure than talking to car-parts salesguys--I may be a woman, but I know which tires I want, thanks) but they haven't arrived yet. At least I'll make some headway on the first sleeve. It's perfect porch-sitting, beer-drinking weather.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I'm a skullcatcher, actually

Only in New Mexico can you go shopping for a birthday present for your mom and find an assortment of animal skulls at reasonable prices. I'm not against hunting, being from Pennsylvania which has a massive deer overpopulation problem and all, but that's because the people I know who hunt deer eat deer. Venison sausage is a staple of the PA church brunch. But I can't imagine being a coyote trophy-skull hunter. (I texted my mom and asked if she wanted a coyote or an otter or maybe just a tiny weasel, but she seemed sort of... unexcited about the prospect.)

So I've given up on the Central Park Hoodie. I hate seams, and I was just too frustrated to try to fix the disaster I created when I snipped the wrong yarn trying to undo the bad shoulder seam in poor lighting. So it's becoming an in-the-round bottom-up raglan based on ye olde favorite, the Hourglass Sweater; the body is going to plain but I want to do either a lace panel or a cable panel on the sleeves, which I'm planning to make 3/4 length. I'm calling it the phoenix sweater, because I'm obvious like that. I'm already nearly through the body up to the armscyes because I've been Netflixing my way through Lost: Season 1. I didn't start watching it when it debuted in my usual, "oh God, that's like, so overhyped" fashion, but having seen a few episodes of season 3, I am now a) crazy to know what the hell's going on (not that I'll find much enlightment from watching back seasons, my sister tells me) and b) totally hot for Naveen Andrews, and stockinette in the round is the perfect accompaniment to drooling.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


So today I was determined to get back on the Central Park Hoodie horse. I've finished knitting the fronts, back, and sleeves and had already sewn the shoulder seams, and then procrastinated for four or five months because I hate seaming. So I just spent an hour sewing one of the side seams, because I'm slow like that, and because I was determined to make the neatest seam ever seen by human or animal. And then I realized I had twisted it. The crappy flash-in-mirror picture is the only one I took, but you can see what I mean--see the twist in the front?

I took a few minutes to calm down, and then decided to undo the shoulder seam, since it was shorter and messier. And somehow I snipped the wrong damn yarn and now look.

I am giving up.

I don't have the strength to fix or frog it right now, but I swear, I am never making a seamed sweater again. From now on I'm knitting only in the round. I was so close. So close!!! And now... Dooooooom.

My other project is sucking hardcore right now too--my maximized minisweater is not working out like I hoped it would. It may still be salvageable, since it's just that the shaping isn't working out, probably because my math was wrong. But I don't feel like working on it at all now. I was so close to finishing a project, I don't want to backtrack. I just want to finish something and hold it up and say, "Man, I rock!" But I can't, because I don't. All in all, I'm pretty much completely discouraged right now. Ugh. Maybe I'll take up woodworking.

Monday, January 15, 2007

ew. and also, yay.

Last week I took the week off and spent a lot of time sleeping, snowboarding, and hanging out with the fabulous Auntie Maim, who came to visit. Back at work yesterday, I was sitting at my desk and this guy, who is either funny or creepy, I hadn't decided yet, stuck his head into my office and said, "You're back! I missed your smell."

So now I've decided... creepy.

I didn't do much knitting. In fact, after a really great day at Ski Santa Fe on Friday, Amy and I were sitting around watching Foyle's War, and I picked up my modified minisweater, knit about 10 stitches, and let it drop into my lap. I was that drained. It had snowed on and off all day, but what really took it out of me was the wind. It was ridiculously windy, especially on a couple of exposed trails. But we had a good time and if Shamsi ever uploads the photos, there should be some good ones. Hint. Hint. Ahem. But I'm bringing it to work, because I feel (irrationally) like I haven't finished anything in ages.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sometimes there are advantages to working for an enormous corporation. For example, did you know that washing your hands can prevent disease? No, really. It has something to do with germs. Bird flu, the coming epidemic that’s going to destroy civilization as we know it, is transmitted via germs. Therefore, if you wash your hands with an alcohol prep pad like the one I received in the mail from my employer yesterday, you can avoid the bird flu and keep our megacorp happy and productive.
Seriously. They mailed us all alcohol wipes. My company is awesome.

In other news, you may have heard Albuquerque got some snow. One night, while it was snowing, I parked under a tree. This is what I found the next morning. (Don't worry, I just backed out slowly and the tree was fine.)

But on the plus side, Sandia Peak opened, and since it’s only 40 minutes from home and I start work at 12:30pm, I got up early on Tuesday and went snowboarding for a couple hours. (It was definitely the better way to start the day than how I started Wednesday. I found a frozen bird on the steps of my work that was unearthed in the shoveling-out that morning.) I started wearing glasses a few months ago and so far this winter I'm on the fence as to how much I need them for snowboarding; I guess if I need them in traffic, I'll need them for tree runs, but I'm dreading the expense of prescription goggles or the discomfort/dorkiness/potential for disaster of wearing my glasses under my goggles, which some people apparently do. For now I'll just squint. Attractive, no?

I haven't been knitting much lately; I'm recovering from my last-minute Christmas frenzy. I knit the toes differently on both pairs of the parental Log Cabin Socks. I can't believe I did that. I frogged back on my mom's shorter sock and extended it, on Christmas Eve, but I left my dad's the way it was, trusting in my mom's assertion that he would never notice. Well, I hope not. But I am working, in stops and starts, on an extended-length Glampyre boobholder/minisweater. (Maxisweater? Ugh... no.) I started it before Christmas, because I'm insane and like to start improvising away from the pattern and trying my WIP on repeatedly right before a major gift deadline, the run-up to which I know I'll spend sitting in airports, possibly weeping with frustration and fatigue. You know, instead of just making sure all the presents are finished and look good and match far enough ahead of time to actually relax.

I saw my best friend from high school, whom I haven't seen or spoken to (unless you count finding each other on myspace) in a couple years, while I was home. She had a gift for me and I did not have a gift for her. I hate when that happens. She crocheted me a sweet lacy hat and scarf (I especially like the hat, it's very Roaring Twenties) that I don't have any pictures of yet. So now I have to make her something. Fortunately for my purposes, she works in upstate New York at a brat camp, where they make the kids sleep outside. Which means they sleep outside. No tent, just a tarp. In upstate New York. All winter. So basically, anything that warms any body part would be a great gift. I'm thinking Fair Isle mittens or Norwegian stockings or something. I've never finished a Fair Isle project that I actually liked and that fit, so this will be a challenge. Any pattern recommendations?