Brought to you by the letter J

Teabird ever so kindly gave me the letter J for the ten favorite things meme:

Cranberry Juice and seltzer over loads of ice.

John Irving.  Lordie how I love his books.

Jane Austen.  After Shakespeare, she's one of my tops.

Jumpers.  Sweaters, really, but it was a j word and it's not my usual letter, so I'm stretching already.

Jazz, especially the classic stuff like Miles and Coltrane.

Jutting peonies.  You know, when they first stick their purple necks out of the ground to see if it's time yet?  They're jutting.

Janet Burroway's Imaginative Writing.  I love teaching creative writing with it.

Jars full of tomatoes from the summer.  Oh, how lovely the smell when opened!

Junior's cheesecake.  The best.

Jet planes.  Going far away is fun.

Want your own letter?  Leave a comment and ask.

Cari Asked for Six

Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
So I asked Neal to provide the randomness as we watch the Huskies.

Here goes (and I'm directly quoting)

1.  Thirteen–it's your lucky number.  (eta:like you all didn't already know that).
2.  You're not going to be happy until you get your little writing room (eta: he means the little outdoor folly he promised me to get me to stay here in CT).
3.  So far, your puppy is adept at three things: eating, peeing on the bed, and fecal vomiting (eta: she only peed on the end of the bed once, and it didn't soak through, and today was the only puke fest).
4. You've just discovered looming (eta: he means weaving.  He's trying to show off.  He also sometimes calls knitting sewing). 
5.  Roberto's eggplant rotini–it tastes like home (eta: he means my old pal Roberto from my favorite Italian restaurant…I used to eat there all the time when I worked at the drug store…and it's the sauce, not the eggplant that tastes like home).
6.  It pisses you off that I think you have a temper (eta: he's so right.  He's the only one who seems able to push my buttons…everyone else finds me rather even keeled, I believe).

Even though there are many who have done this before, I'm going to be a little pushy and randomly select six people from my bloglines:  Ms. ADD Knitterthe sweet Bird and Squirrel, my favorite Penguinthe beautiful Strange Little Mamaclever Sean, and a Black Sheep. And I think you should all do it because I so rarely ask anything of you, and the holidays are coming and you should give, give, give.

Take a Deep Breath

Neal’s back at work today, and I started in on my Treadmill writing

Our wedding was just as I wanted it (other than that pesky rain), and our visit to Mohonk Mountain House was impeccable.  We had a wonderful weekend, and as soon as I get some pictures back, I’ll share them with you. 

I have some pretty things to show you, as well, but the ol’ camera battery needs another recharge first.  Tomorrow.  We’ll have a substantial post tomorrow.  Today I’m still breathing deeply and enjoying the calm after the festivities.

In the meantime, I got tagged twice for the 7 Random Things meme going around. The rules: list seven random things about yourself, then tag seven people. 

1.  In my late 20s I bleached my hair blonde so I could look like Kenneth Branagh in his film version of Hamlet.

2.  I can’t stand bugs in the house, but I won’t kill them unless they’re mosquitos.  Usually I plead with Neal to put them back outside where they’ll be happy. 

3.  When Neal isn’t in the room, I let the dogs on the bed with me.  Maddie and I slept together for the first year we were together, and she’s the best sleeping companion–she’s an excellent spooner.

4.  I hope to bike across the U.S. someday. 

5.  I want to start a terrarium.  There were several at Mohonk Mountain House, and I’m fascinated by them, even though I’m not that into gardening.

6.  Dissecting a fetal pig in Senior biology was one of my favorite things about high school.

7.  I order the same foods at restaurants.  When I like something (saag paneer), I don’t want to try anything else, I want to have the food I like.  This drives my husband (gee, I like saying that) nuts.  Which drives me nuts–what the heck does he care what I eat? 

Ok, tag, you’re it:  Jenny, Annie, Laura, Lizzie, kitkatknit, Kelly, and Adam.

Scout Rocks Meme

Whether you know her in real life or via Blogland, I hope you’ll make her birthday more festive and participate in my new meme.

List three ways Scout rocks, then go wish her a happy birthday and tell her to visit your blog.  Let’s fill her day with love!

1.  Scout rocks because she has one of the most infectious laughs I’ve ever heard.  You know she means it when you hear that laugh.

2.  Scout rocks because even though she may have thrown out all of her materials, she’s still a fantastic teacher.  Who taught me how to warp a board?  Who taught me how to dye yarn?  Who taught me how to knit English (thereby getting gauge)?  Who taught me how to use html?  Who taught me how to use the wireless feature on Phineas the laptop computer?  Scout, that’s who!

3.  Scout rocks because she has a heart bigger than the Grand Canyon.  Her generosity continues to impress me.  She gives of her time, and she gives of her heart.  There are few bloggers who are more committed to promoting other Indy businesses than Scout is.

Happy Birthday, dear friend!  Love you and miss you tons.  XX

Mona Asked

And here it is:  my history, in five-year increments.

1972:  I was three years old, so I don’t remember much of anything.  I suspect this was the summer that I got burned from fluid that blew out of the family car’s radiator, but I don’t remember.  I only know about it from my siblings and a few pictures of me with my legs wrapped up–not from my own memory.

1977: I turned eight.  I was a voracious reader by this time and couldn’t get enough of the Young Lives biographies.  I used to spend a lot of time gazing into the third grade classroom.  They did cursive in third grade, and by golly, I wanted to do it, too!

1982:  I felt so awkward in middle school.  I was tall and gangly and one of the smart kids.  Some of the burnout girls wanted to beat me up, but I became friends with Maria, who was much tougher than I was and not at all bookish, and she scared off the bullies.  Maria passed away soon after high school graduation, and I’ve never forgotten her loyalty and kindness to me.  I was really into gothic romance novels at this age. 

1987:  An overnight trip to Boston with Cae!  Senior prom!  A vintage 1930s dress!  High school graduation!  I spent the first half of the year madly in love with the boy who became my first husband.  In July we broke up, but I had fun with my school chums.  I went to community college because I couldn’t afford a four-year school (I paid my own way through college, although my folks bought my books…they might have spent less on tuition!!).  I was working part time as a bank teller with a second part time job at a pharmacy.  That November Neal and I started dating—he took me on the best first date I ever had.   

1992:  I was in my second year of marriage.  I worked as a bank teller and encouraged my husband to quit his full-time job to pursue his music career.  I was frustrated because I felt unfulfilled by my job, but I made one of my best friends at that job.  Cheryl and I used to bike 8-15 miles after work every day.  F. and I moved into the apartment where we would live for nine years and gave up television, which lasted 14 years for me.  I began to make quilts and found great joy in playing with fabric.  I got my first tattoo.

1997:  I finally finished my bachelor’s degree.  I published my first essay and a poem.  I was happy in my marriage.  My oldest sister gave me a gift of funding for my last semester of school so I would be able to concentrate on my classes without working at all.  For the first time in my adult life, I felt that I was capable of fulfilling my goals.

2002:  I turned 33 and had the best birthday of my life:  my sister flew up to New York, and she joined me and F. for a day in Manhattan followed by dinner at my favorite restaurant in Peekskill, Zeph’s. That weekend, I took a call that was pivotal in changing my life:  F. was offered a European tour.  I worked hard that year to help him to save the money to go on the tour (despite what someone not in the business would think, it’s not a money-making venture; breaking even is a good thing), but when he came back, things were different.  In October I began talking to him about separating so that we could get our heads straight.  By Christmas I no longer knew the man I had loved with my whole soul. 

2007: I’m on the verge of marriage to a man I adore and who loves me with humor and zest and devotion and loyalty.  I’m nearly at the point of completing my MFA in creative writing, which brings me to a point in my dreams and goals that, five years ago, I would not have imagined possible.  I’m living in Connecticut again—not loving it as I believe I’m a New Yorker at heart—but happy to be with my man, near my folks, and close to my girlhood best friends.  That depth of friendship is precious.  I miss my dear friends in NM, but I talk to Dana about once a week (she totally understands that I can go on for an hour about the final episode of Sex and the City), and I’ve started a new knitting group…it won’t replace the one I left in the southwest, but already I feel more settled.  I feel more at peace with myself than I have in a long time, and I’m excited for my future—both as a writer and as a wife.

Craft-Tat Meme

Img_1281 Scout asked, so here goes.  Forgive the bad pictures–my tattoos are not in easily photographed places, at least if I’m the one wielding the camera.  This stylized dragon was my first tattoo, way back in 1992.  Artol (that’s his name) is on my right shoulder.  When I showed my mom this tattoo, she licked her finger and rubbed.  She didn’t believe that I had gotten the real thing.  When I was little, I always liked my grandfather’s tattoos, and I couldn’t wait to get my own.  Artol was my symbol for my ex-husband.  I don’t see the tattoo a lot, but I’ve thought of getting him covered.  Despite the original meaning, though, I’m mighty fond of Artol, and I don’t think I’ll do anything else.

Img_1278 Told you these pictures would stink.  As I’m not handy with programs that might let me flip this picture, how about you hold a mirror up to your computer monitor to look at this one?  It’s the number 13, my lucky number.  Since I was young, I’ve had a soft spot for this number.  Later I learned about 13 being a feminine number, and I grew to like it even more.  I got this one in 1996 after I made my ex draw it in pen week after week.  Johnny Cash covered a Danzig song "Thirteen," which was the inspiration for the location of this one.

Img_1275 This is a two-fer tattoo.  Originally there was a Chinese symbol that I thought meant student.  When several Chinese friends told me otherwise (um, try Saturday), I thought it was kind of funny.  I got the original tattoo with my friend Sara, spontaneously in 1999, so I didn’t have time to check that the symbol was correct for what I wanted it to mean.  Lesson learned.  After the ex and I separated, my friend and fellow knitter Annah and I got to talking about getting tattoos "fixed".  She made an appointment, and after work one day in 2003 (or was it 2004?) we both got new tats over old ones.  This is really just a design that the artist drew after tracing the original tattoo.  I see so many different things in it:  a mask (which being separated and later divorced allowed me to remove); a mermaid (which reminds me of my love of the water and of fairy tales); and a woman with her arms and legs spread open (which reminds me to embrace life and love). 

There you have it. The funniest thing about having these is that I’m a conservative looking person–it’s just the way I’m made.  These bits of black ink reflect my inner self better than anything else about my body, I think.  When my students get a look at these (usually in the late spring), they are often surprised, which amuses me. 

Let me know if you posted pictures of your tattoos if you have them, or what you would get if you ever decided to ink up your skin.

For the Sake of Research

Go here.  This explains it all.  As a former member and probably future member of MLA, I encourage you to help this researcher out.  Because, as we all know, knitbloggers rock, and world domination is soon to be ours.  I heard about this via Norma’s blog where I lurk on a regular basis.

Honestly, this graduate student has such a sad paragraph in his post.  He’s afraid he’s going to have this party and no one will come.  So go visit, ping, and help a guy out.  Show him what we’re made of, friends!

Big news coming soon, for reals!


Scout asks, I do.

1. How and when did you learn how to knit/crochet? Who taught you?  You know, I always say that I learned to crochet when I was 19 from my Gram.  We were in the back seat of my parents’ car on a road trip to a family reunion in Ohio.  She was making delicate little doilies and curtain pulls, and I wanted to learn, too.  She was a terrible teacher, and my mom laughs when we talk about that trip.  She recalls how I argued with Gram that she had to let me fix things instead of taking the crochet away from me and doing it herself. 

The story is true, but it wasn’t actually my first crochet.  Sometime when I was around 14, my mom taught me to make hairpin lace.  It’s one of the only crafts my mom did, and I’d forgotten that she taught it to me until I made my Funky Scarf this fall.

I didn’t learn to knit for almost another ten years.  In November 1997 Martha Stewart Living had an article about knitting.  I’d wanted to do it for ages, but had been busy with quilting and college.  I decided that I could teach myself (I did teach myself quilting after all), so I went to the moth-ball smelling yarn store in Peekskill (which has since moved into a delightful, bright, fresh-smelling location), bought a skein of purple wool and some needles, and stood at the counter as Janet, the owner, cast on for me.  She showed me to knit English style, but I didn’t get it.  Then she showed me Continental, and I was enamoured.  I’ve recently read that those who start with crochet often find Continental the easier method.  I made a lot of errors with that scarf, so I took a class in January 1998 and was on my way.

2. How has this craft impacted your life? (besides financially!) Since I can remember I have always been passionate about making things.  There were the dolls made out of rags, the cigar box movie theaters, the brown bag puppets.  I’ve also always liked fabrics and fashion.  Knitting gives me the satisfaction of creating stylish items.  I mostly knit for others.  I like putting time into a gift for a loved one.  The more precious time becomes to me, the more I like doing this.  Knitting gives me a way to relax if I’m worried or stressed, a place to bond with my friends.  Really, if we weren’t getting together every week for knitting, I doubt we’d get together every week.  Something would come up and hanging out would get delayed.  Knitting also helps me  to be more patient.  For one, I’m a slow knitter; there is no quick knit for me, just a less slow knit!  If I have to wait (like at the DMV, for instance) I have my knitting to occupy me and entertain me and keep me patient.

Jaywalkers_206_1 3. Pick at least one person to talk about who you have met through the knit-world and why you are thankful to have met them.  Feel free to get all mushy. I can’t pick out individuals.  Instead I want to talk about two communities.  The first is my Albuquerque SnB.  The first time I went it was me, Laurie, and Beth.  I left for the summer not long after those quiet meetings, and when things started up in the fall, Scout and Carole were there.  Soon we were taking over half the restuarant–the knit the Guild knitters joined us, we DID take it over!  I had hooked up with Noelle through Knitters not Quitters, and she started to come to Tuesday nights at Flying Star.  I began Friday night craft nights once a month for my UNM friends, and often Cari and Noelle would come to those as well.

There was a lot for me to love about being in New Mexico.  It was exciting to live on my own, away from all family and having to handle things by myself.  It gave me space to heal from the end of my marriage.  I was learning constantly in my graduate program.  I was surrounded by stunning natural beauty.  But despite developing friendships at school, without my SnB friends, I would have had a different experience.

The graduate student population I was with was a lot of fun.  I made some friends I will have for life.  I craved a place where comps and literature were not always the underlying focus, though, and SnB gave me that.  I’m more than a student, after all.  I’ve been successful in my work before I decided to leave it for school.  I was older than many of the other graduate students, which didn’t always matter, but I loved that I could talk about childhood stuff and Scout and Carole were right there with me.  I loved that I could talk about something that left me uncertain about how to act, and Mona would decisively say the right thing.  I loved meeting Molly and Amy and Lauren and Carmela, and everyone.  I loved that I had a place that wasn’t about the pressure of my daily, overcrammed life, a place where I could fondle yarn and dish about patterns and blogs.  I loved the strength of the friendships I developed there.  Every Tuesday at 7, I feel just a little lonely now.

I’m lucky, though.  I moved back to the area where I grew up, and two of my best highschool friends still live nearby.  They’re both knitters, and we try to get together every week.  Cae is an exquisite knitter.  She’s made some of the loveliest items I’ve ever seen.  Sara is an adventurous knitter.  She sees a pattern, decides what she wants to change and makes it her own.  Like my SnB pals, they help me to be a better knitter, and I have a blast hanging out and chatting about whatever is going on in our lives.   

4. Comment and let me know when you post this in your blog so I can read them all.  Go tell Scout, too, ok?


Another fun meme to distract me from grading.  Seen at my pal Carole’s.  Oh, and I scored 100% on the Grammar quiz, too.  Phew. 

Now if you’re going to play, leave a comment.  Here are the rules: You.Can.Only.Type.One.Word.  No. Explanations.

1. Yourself: curious
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): loyal

3. Your hair: conservative
4. Your mother: funny
5. Your Father: devoted
6. Your Favorite Item: necklace
7. Your dream last night: unknown
8. Your Favorite drink: grapefruitsoda (ok, I cheated)
9. Your Dream Car: train
10. The room you are in: cozy
11. Your Ex: creative
12. Your fear: childbirth

13. What you want to be in 10 years? novelist
14. Who you hung out with last night? lovies
15. What You’re Not? competitive
16. Muffins:cookies
17. One of Your Wish List Items: Subscription
18. Time: fickle
19. The Last Thing You Did: cleaned
20. What You Are Wearing: khakis
21. Your Favorite Weather: snowy
22. Your Favorite Book: Shakespeare
23. The Last Thing You Ate: soup
24. Your Life: changing
25. Your Mood: content
26. Your best friend: sister
27. What are you thinking about right now? secrets
28. Your car: gray
29. What are you doing at the moment? multitasking
30. Your summer: change
31. Your relationship status: committed
32. What is on your TV? Austen
33. What is the weather like? drizzling
34. When is the last time you laughed? dinner