Z is for…

Zakka.  This is a new concept for me, or perhaps to be more accurate, a new term for a concept I understand.  I like the idea of "seeing the savvy in the mundane" (from Wikipedia).  I like household items that have a little kitsch to them, yet also improve my outlook, my life (paraphrased from same source.  Can you tell I’m gearing up for teaching 18-year olds how to cite sources.  They should not follow my example here.  But, let’s all remember to cite our sources, shall we?)

Zinnia.  My Lendrum DT spinning wheel.  She longs for me to spend more time with her, and we have such fun when I do, yet…I don’t spend enough time with her.  Blogless Sara called yesterday to tell me that her new spinning wheel had been delivered.  I’ll be stopping by to meet her before SnB tonight.  Maybe I’ll do more spinning now that one of my BFFs is spinning, too.

Zoos.  I despise them.  Some are nicer than others, I’ll admit, but usually I get depressed and want to free the animals. 

Zebras.  I once saw one in Southampton, NY.  I was on a long bike ride and some really weathy people had a collection of exotic animals in their yard.  I stopped, in shock that there was a freakin’ zebra right there on the other side of a fence from me, in real life, for reals.  He let me pet his nose, and I was really excited.  So even though I despise zoos, I sometimes like to see those exotic animals up close. 

Zed.  The end.  The Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Golightly is fini. 

Last night I visited the lovely Melanie for some baby loving and knitting.  Her kids?  Not only adorable, but smart and funny, too.  My neices and nephews are all big kids now, and man, it’s fun to be around little ones.  Melanie and I exchanged e-mails before she moved to the area, and I kind of knew she’d be fun to hang out with, and I was right.  Best part?  She lives just down the road from me.  What with Blog-free Kim around the corner and Science-Teacher-Janet (we still like her even though we’re English majors, right BF Kim?) down the street, and Blogless Cae up the road a piece, and Blogless Sara a hop and skip away, I’m starting to feel like the per capita knitter stats for the area must be rising rapidly.  And I don’t even know the half of it, I’m sure!

I don’t want to seem like a comment ho, but there needs to be about 10 or so on each post to reach that magical 2,000th comment on the 300th post…

Y is for…

Yankee.  I was born and raised in New England.  My mom was, too, and a few generations of her family before her as well.  My dad is from Ohio, and his people were pioneer types, moving west, then back to Ohio.   

Once I moved to New York at 21, I didn’t give another thought to myself as a New Englander.  After a few years, I was proud to claim myself as a New Yorker.  I love the hustle and pace of New York, and I love the Hudson River like it’s one of my relatives, one that I really admire.

While I lived in New Mexico, I learned that many people in the western reaches of the country think of New England, New York, all of it as "back east".  The little differences of what makes one a Yankee (only New Englanders?  Only Northeasterners?  Is it a trail of ancestry in the area?  Is it living above the Mason-Dixon line?) don’t matter much. 

In my year and two months back in Connecticut, I’m more aware of the pride of New Englanders in their status as such.  I still think of myself as a New Yorker, but I know that no matter where I live, I’ll always be a Yankee.

And yes, Aaron, a Yankees fan.   

X is for…

That unknown factor.  I always sort of liked algebra; I liked looking for the unknown.

Not much for X, I know, but I promise you I just read my dictionary’s entries for X, and that’s the best I can do.

Yesterday there was a bit of an x factor when my beloved Averatec laptop died on me.  Kaput.  One minute we were happily, nay merrily, getting along.  The next minute Phineas’s screen went black.  After letting him rest for a while, I tried him again to no avail.  We visited the Geek Squad and learned that it was over for Phineas.  The cost of repair was too much to not consider buying a new computer, which is what I did.  As a person who researches for weeks before making a big purchase, this was nerve wracking.  I spent quite some time reviewing my options and settled on a Sony Vaio.  I pick him up in a few hours, and I swear that today I begin a new regimine of backing up my data.  It was a scary afternoon, and I’m hoping the nice young man at the Geek Squad is able to retrieve all of the data Phineas was holding for me. 

I purchased Phineas the summer before I started graduate school.  I really wanted him to be there when I finished.  He’s travelled all over with me and entertained me endlessly.  I can’t quite believe he’s gone.

RIP, Phin.

W is for…

Writing.  My best form of communication, writing is a way for me to make sense of the problems that vex me as well as to share my inner world with others.  Often I approach my treadmill time as though I’m being tortured, but I feel far worse when I don’t write. 

In 2001 I read and did The Artist’s Way, and in early 2002 I learned about NaNoWriMo.  A novel was perculating in my mind, and I didn’t want to wait until November to challenge myself, but I also needed a deadline, so I created my own.  I finished my novel in July 2002, but grew frustrated as I attempted to revise it.  This was a process about which I knew nothing.  I took a few writing workshops, including one at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival with Sharon Oard Warner, who is now my dissertation committee chair and my mentor.  By August of 2003, another mentor, Joanne, convinced me that I was a fool not to take my status as a newly-single person to achieve a big dream.  I applied to graduate programs, and thus began the more serious part of my journey as a writer. 

Last year I felt hopeless; I wasn’t writing much after my move back east, and I even thought I might not graduate.  I gave myself a mental shake, though, and I’ve had a strong summer in terms of my writing.  I’m on track to graduate in the spring, and I have an idea for yet another novel, and there are a few more short stories I think I can polish up and send out.  Whereas my friend Linda Jean Fisher used to have to encourage me to say "I am a writer who supplements her income by working as a grant writer," I now say with confidence and sans hesitation simply "I am a writer." 

V is for

Vegetarian.  A little over nine years ago, I stopped eating meat and became an ovo-lacto vegetarian.  I’m not a militant vegetarian; I don’t care what others eat.  My decision is right for me, and I can trace my progression from meat lover to not.  It began when I read an article in The Sun about how some scientists think that antibiotics as medicine are less effective because of the traces of antibiotics in commercially produced meat that so many Americans eat.  From there I read about hormones in meat, and as a woman in a family that has been filled with breast cancer, I felt that it would be healthier to purchase my meat and poultry from a local farm that raised it organically.  For a while that worked well for me.  I liked supporting the farm, and I liked the feeling of being more in control of what I ate.

Stop reading now if you have a fragile stomach. 

One July day, my ex and I went to the farm to pick up our CSA allotment.  As I selected some eggs and flowers to add to my produce, there was a shriek unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.  The farmer’s daughter rushed to shut a big metal door, and I realized that the back room was where butchering was done, and that what I’d heard was a pig being slaughtered.  As an animal lover, this saddened me, but my father had been raised on a farm and hadn’t been shy about telling the odd stories about skinning rabbits; I knew the reality of where my meat came from…I just had never been so close to the source.

The shriek stayed with me.  A few days later, F. placed a bowl of his "ace-in-the-hole" meal in front of me, a pasta dish made with chirizo sausage and spinach.  It was a great dish, one we often served to company, and one that I loved.  I ate a few bites, and I had what I can only explain as a waking dream.  I saw a calf, a specific calf that had suckled my finger once at a fair, look out of that bowl at me and bellow.  I put my fork down, came back to my senses, and told F. what had happened and that I wanted to stop eating meat.

Some people give up meat only to later find that they miss it; either they crave the taste, or their body craves the protein.  I’m not one of those people.  I truly don’t care what others eat, but I feel like I was led to a decision that is healthy for my physical and psychic well being.  That’s not to say I won’t feel differently someday, but for now, I remain a happy veggie!

U is for…

Underwater.  I don’t SCUBA dive or even swim that much, but I love the quiet of being submerged in water.

Utility.  I try to avoid objects that have little or no usefulness, but have yet to fully live by William Morris’s famous quote: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

Uncles.  I have a lot of them.

Unbridled joy.  That’s what I felt when I tested out my new bike yesterday.

T is for…

Img_1124 Tilly.  When Neal and I started to date she was just a pup.  I was smitten with her, and when the drive to CT from NY seemed too long after a hard week’s work, I thought of the greeting I’d get from the mutt, and I didn’t mind so much.  I was all sorts of sad and heartbroken then, and there were so many evening when I would cuddle with Til and feel a little bit better.  I contend that she, more than anything or anyone else, helped me to heal.  She’s smart and loves to please, but her best quality is her sense of humor.  Until I met Tilly, I had no idea how much personality dogs have–she’s quite the trickster, though, and loves to laugh along with her own jokes.

T is also for time.  I used to complain about not having enough time; sometimes I catch myself at it even now.  I try to bear in mind that I have as much time as the great artists I admire; it’s a matter of using it well.

Which is why T is also for Treadmill Journal.  I have friends who are far better at it than I am (Dana), and that helps to keep me at it; the Treadmill makes me be honest about how much and how effectively I’m working.

Lately T is also for tired.  I haven’t been sleeping well and have been a bit topsy turvy, so I feel foggy.  I suspect part of that is anticipation for the upcoming semester.  It’s going to be a doozy.

A police car in front of our house at 3 a.m. caused the three dogs to bark a crazy incessant howl, waking me from a dream.  I rarely remember my dreams, but in this one, I was at a beautiful country home where my handsome father was hosting some sort of yarny festivities.  Guess who were among the attendees?  Margene and Norma.  I drifted off to sleep smiling and thinking that I had to remember this dream.

Who would you want to attend your yarny festivities?  I wish I could have seen all of the guests–I’m sure you were all among them!   

S is for…

Img_0818 Socks!  I finished Neal’s 2005 Christmas socks yesterday, and despite my misgivings about the wierdly shaped heel, when he put the socks on, they were a perfect fit!  I’m a little embarrassed by how long these took, but the wedding stole got in the way.  I started these back in Socktober.

I used EZ’s sewn bind off, which worked much better than my regular bind off did on the first sock.  I’ll go back and re do it tonight.

Img_1182 S is also for Sock Yarn.  I took this picture last year, and I haven’t made much of a dent in it.  I really have no business ever buying another skein, but isn’t it hard to resist?

Img_0813 S is for spinning.  I don’t dedicate a whole lot of time to it, which is a shame since I enjoy it when I do.  I’ve found that since I started to be more mindful when I spin, I create a nicer yarn.  This alpaca/silk blend came from a 2 oz. roving I purchased at Rhinebeck last year.  I couldn’t resist the peacock-y colors blended with chocolate brown.  When blog-free Kim’s birthday approached, I knew that I wanted to spin it for her, and as I spun, I focussed my thoughts on how much happiness our friendship gives me.  I finally gifted it to her this week, and I think she really likes it!  I got about 80 yards, double plyed from it, which should be just enough for her to make a pattern I know she’s been eyeing.

Today ain’t about U at all, but it is…both of these items were on my UFO Knitters Unite list.  Want to hear about some of my other UFO plans?  I’m going to frog the Shadow Shawl and use the yarn for a Chevron Scarf (should I be the only knitter sans one?  I didn’t think so.), and.  Ok, I need to take a few breaths for this one.  I think I’m going to frog my one Jaywalker (which not only gave me so much grief in the knitting, but also is a wee bit tight and, let’s face it, a solo sock) and use the Koigu for a Forest Canopy Shawl.  Any thoughts before I do this?

R is for…

Girl_blogger

Thanks to Kirsten and Scout, I’ve been elevated to the status of a Rockin’ Blogger.  This means a lot to me coming from two of my favorite bloggers!  Kirsten designs gorgeous patterns, and her photography is inspiring.  Scout is not only a cool blogger, but also a 3d friend.  One of my favorite things about her blog is that I feel like I’m getting to have a couple of minutes of conversation when she posts.  She writes pretty much the way she talks, which makes me miss her just a little bit less.

Here are five more bloggers that I think rock:

1.  Lolly.  She founded Project Spectrum, which alone would be enough for this designation, but have you read her recent posts about Peru?  Lauren is a thoughtful person as evinced in her blog–whether the topic is the direction our craft might take, or the warmth and generosity of strangers during crisis.

2.  Gina.  I enjoy her discussions of style, fashion, and organization.

3.  Xemina.  Mona introduced me to her blog, and I get giddy when I see her fantastic artwork.

4.  Veronique.  Another blogger with great style.

5. Pocket Farm.  Her Eat Local Challenge is fantastic, her writing is good, and her lifestyle is motivating.

O, P, and Q are for…

O is for optimism.  I bounce back from disappointments pretty quickly because I’m fairly certain something wonderful will happen next.

O is for overseas.  Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to travel overseas.  I didn’t much care where, I just had the itch to see another place.  My first trip, at 19, was to Australia.  It took me about six more years to get to Europe.  The more I travel, the more I realize how little I’ve seen and how much I want to see still. 

O is for Othello.  I saw the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 1999 production and was chilled by it.  Richard McCabe was a creepy Iago.  A few years later, I saw the Public Theater’s production, and as much as I admire Liev Schreiber, I have to agree with the Voice‘s review

P is for puppies.  On Saturday we visited one of our friends who had just adopted a six-month-old chihuahua, Aisha.  I’m not normally a fan of small dogs, but Aisha won me over.

P is for pennies.  I’m saving mine for our "real" honeymoon next summer.

P is for pushover.  I can be one.  I act really tough at the start of the semester in hopes that my students won’t figure that out about me until I’ve already gotten them into some good habits.

P is for purling, also Portuguese purling, which I learned to do yesterday at Creative Fibers.

Q is for Queen Elizabeth.  She’s my favorite historical figure.  I like to read biographies and historical fiction about her.  What a woman, no?

Q is for quince paste.  It’s so yummy with a good manchego.