26 February 2008

Ode to Coffee

Oh sweet brown elixir of life, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

You save me from having to purchase copious amounts of toothpicks to prop my eyelids open, thus keeping me from looking like I could star in A Clockwork Orange. Thank you.

You come in such a wide variety that one could spend their entire lives sampling you and never reach the end of the list. Although it often makes people sound like aliens from another planet while the order you, I appreciate this. Thank you.

Despite the wonders of the aforementioned varieties, I also appreciate that you are quite tasty without any flavoring or milk or sugar. Black coffee is my best friend, and also has no calories. You are always thinking of my welfare. Thank you.

There is never an inappropriate time for drinking coffee. Morning, afternoon, evening. Its all good. Everyone loves you for your versatility and socially acceptable drug induced energy. Thank you.

You are readily available at every turn. As I am too lazy to make my own coffee at home, I appreciate that there are approximately 953 coffee shops on my way to work to choose from. Thank you.

I am a regular at the Coffee Beanery closest to my house. Mainly because me driving to work without any caffeine in my system would be a bad thing. But also because it gives me a good opportunity to stare at the cute guy that also drags his tired ass in there each morning. Thank you.

You make me feel human. Which is especially important when I can’t even make it to my desk in the morning without being stopped 99 times with questions. You have saved many a life, my friend. Thank you.

While I don’t understand the point of decaf coffee, I appreciate that you are considerate of the sissies who won’t suck down twenty gallons of caffeine per day like I do. Thank you.

You may cause me to need to have Altoids on hand at all times, to need to purchase tooth whitening toothpaste to get rid of stains or to cause my hands to shake like a junkie, but these are all minor inconviences when compared to the wonderful benefits you offer me.

Thank you.

**P.S. Don’t forget the naming contest for my new assemblage doll, you have a chance until Sat March 1 to be in the running for Susana Oryan’s book, Designing the Doll.

24 February 2008

A Saturday without work & a contest

A few times a year, a group of us mumble obscenities at our usual lives, pack up our studios and head off to a hotel to create odd things. This past Saturday was such a day. This is what we call ourselves:

(Pay no mind to the word vacant above our names. It was just coincidence, not a commentary on our mental states.)

Mary hunted down a new hotel for us this time (the Hampton Inn out by Detroit Metro airport) and it was just what we needed. They were extremely nice and set us up all proper and it couldn't have been better.

The project for this retreat was put together by Sidney. She braved the freezing cold and spray painted metal boxes with automotive primer. (Sid now offers the helpful tip that if given the choice, you should avoid spray painting outside in below freezing temperatures. She is a brave woman willing to suffer for everyone's art and we thank her.) She then tossed a few common items at us that we all had to use: a domino, a wood bead, a couple bells, and model magic. We could add what we wanted but we had to use these things. (I contributed some odd metal puzzle pieces thingies that, ironically, I could not figure out how to incorporate into my piece. I whole heartedly apologize for the torture of these items and appreciate the fact that people didn't start chucking them at me out of frustration.)

Here's what I made:

Its a new assemblage doll. Very odd. Very industrial, human-being-sucked-into-technology type thing. We'll discuss this more so be sure to read to the end of the post because that's where the contest part of this post's title comes in.

I, of course, being a geeky boring engineer of late, decided to wander around the room taking pictures of everyone's work so that I could feed the blog and demonstrate just what a wide range of friends I keep. I love them all. Here we go...

Here's the group working:

Here is Leann working:

And here she is harrasing me with her camera:

Leann seemed to be on a personal quest to take pictures of me yesterday and prove to the world that I do indeed exist. I foiled her most of the time although she got particularly cruel and blogged what she did get. She can really be the devil sometimes. (Said with great affection.)

Here is Sid working:

I don't know why but I always seem to torment Sid and Stephanie with pictures more then anyone else in the group. I guess its because they never really yell at me. I get dirty looks sometimes but that's not enough to deter me. (I'm worried, payback will be coming and all I can hope for is that they aren't as cruel as Leann to post the photos on the internet for the world to see. )

Moving on...here is Mary's box:

Very cool, I'm diggin' the skeleton and bottle. I likes it.

Here is Jane's box:

She and Joan both ended up doing bug boxes. Jane's box has a really cool story behind it. Its based on the story of the greek goddess Archane. I was a bit concerned that she was going to get major carpal tunnel from weaving the wire but she managed fine and the box came out looking awesome.

Here is Johanna's box:

Say it with me: Awwwwww, isn't it cute?? Johanna sculpted the kitty out of the model magic that was part of the challenge package. However, you should know one little detail...this is about her daughter's cat that devoured a bunch of birds recently. Johanna has a little bit of a twisted side, and we love her dearly for it.

And lastly, here is Kate posing with her creation:

I giggle snorted when she told me what it was about. She created a little person shuffling in out of the cold Michigan weather to go shopping for fabric. Can you tell we have a bit of a one track mind?

I took more pictures of other people's work as well. If I did but didn't post it here, its not because I didn't love what you did, its because my photo taking skills when I'm distracted and tired totally suck. I need a camera that can basically hold itself completely still, fix the lighting on its own and not cut thing off. Some pictures seemed to be taken by a drunk vagrant, hence why they didn't make this post.

Everyone's work rocked and I loved it all. Its always interesting to see just how wide of a range of work there is.

So here is the contest part of this post.

I rarely have trouble coming up with a title for my stuff. However, I cannot for the life of me figure out what to name my new assemblage doll. So here's the deal:

Leave a comment on this post with your suggestion for what I should call this new work. Be serious, names like Sally and Betsy will not be entertained. I'll pick the one that I like best and you'll get Susanna Oroyan's book Designing the Doll. If you don't want the book but still want to play, leave a comment and if you are the winner, then I'll just put everyone else's name in a hat and pick a winner for the book at random.

Here's a better shot of the nameless wonder:

(If you click on the picture it gets way bigger.) Have at guys, can't wait to see what you all come up with...

P.S. I suppose it would be nice if I said how long the naming contest runs for. You have until next Saturday, March 1 (where in the hell did February go??) to toss in as many ideas as you want. I will also announce another contest next sunday, March 2, for another opportunity to win another book. I have several books that I don't really look at anymore and I would like to pass on to other artists so the contests will go on for a few weeks until they've found new homes. These range from doll books to ribbon work and even some "Inspirations" magazines from Australia. So keep checking back!!

Where I Stand Sunday

Art creates the outlet for expression, but it also offers the hand of friendship. I stand with my friends, united in the quest to create things, comforted in the knowledge that none of us stand alone. These are people I might never have met otherwise and while art itself pulls from me the stress of life, they create a unique family that builds the ultimate foundation for a creative life.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

18 February 2008

Big foot has been sighted...

...and apparently I am knitting socks for him.

I worked on finishing up the gussets on the socks this weekend. I refuse to discuss just how many potential mistakes there are in the first sock. There were times when I couldn't recall if I was on a decrease row and I dropped a stitch and borrowed one from the row below it. (My only criteria being that in doing so would not produce a hole in the sock and it didn't so I consider it not an error but a creative fix.)

The second sock went much smoother. So I put them down, got on with my weekend and when I came home from work today, I noticed something strange...

...these socks appear to be for someone who has feet that are at least nine feet wide.

I know the cuff ribbing is stretchy. I understand this. And I'm aware from having seen other completed socks with this type of cuff that once the foot is worked, the cuff looks like a shrunken head on a really big body.

But sheesh...I'm tired...I've got PMS...and these things are really making me feel bad about myself. Big feet. No, let me restate that...BIG feet.

Add to that the fact that the leaves from my botany quilt hate my guts. I've tried beading them, stitching them, stapling them, and doing odd weaving patterns with brads and thread. Nothing looks good. It all sucks. I think I might just set them on fire and gleefuly dance around them as they go up in smoke.

I think I'm just going to give everything the evil eye tonight. Give me trouble, will you? Well, right back at ya, babe.

Oh, and there's been another sighting. The abominable snow westie attempted to thwart my sock knitting activity by throwing himself on the yarn ball...

...perhaps I should have let him abscond with it.

17 February 2008

Where I Stand Sunday

The glaring color of the floor covering in my studio reflects my Muse's frustration with me. It is angry, sullen, unhappy with my lack of attention. Fatigue is my constant companion and the ability to switch between engineer and artist has momentarily been stifled as numbers and calculation and metal take over every corner of my mind. It is at these moments when the aching to create turns to throbbing and I quietly shut the door to my studio in an effort to silence the nagging coming from within.

Where I Stand Sunday
is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell

15 February 2008

How a Geek spends a Friday night

  • Come home after yet another twelve hour day bearing Boston Market salad, drop salad on the kitchen floor and fling myself on top of it in an effort to prevent the lactose intolerate westie from scarfing down blue cheese.
  • Realize there's more then enough salad left for dinner, breathe a sigh of relief but become leary of fluffy westie's intent stare.
  • Sort through a whole week's worth of mail while eating. (Salad dressing on credit card statements are almost like flipping off the credit card companies so I decide not to worry about it.) Mumble obscenties about all the cash advance checks sent through the mail that I'll never use and make an extremely large pile of junk to shred. Out of twenty pieces of mail, there are only three I will keep. Mumble obscenties a little louder this time.
  • Shred cash advance checks. Momentarily forget that the sound of the shredder works westie up into a complete tizzy. Remember this when he comes bravely charging toward shredder with plushie gingerbread toy and bumps the basket. Decide to put him outside because the combination of shredder and doggie can't be good.
  • Start taking pictures of socks for blog. Get distracted, go upstairs. Realize after twenty minutes the westie is still exiled to the frozen tundra named Michigan and briefly panic. Realize that for the amount of lettuce he managed to procure during the salad debacle, an extended potty break might not be a bad thing.
  • Decide to retrieve westie before he becomes a doggie popsicle. Note that he throws me a filthy look when he trots into the house. Think to myself, Tough. Feel smug because I told the dog off in my head. Wonder if that's normal.
  • Realize that after a week of overtime, my mind is turning to goo. Decide to tinker with socks since these came in the mail today.

  • The sock yarn on the left is for Leann's sox. (That's how she spells it.) Wonder how many knitters get to actually choose yarn for gift socks that match the recipient's hair. Giggle snort because the yarn is named Twilight Zone and couldn't be more appropriate.
  • The yarn on the right is for mom's socks. Its called Frog in a Party Dress and came from here. Worry because I am strangely attracted to this colorway. It contains evil pink and I must resist.
  • Realize at the rate I am going in terms of sock knitting, it could be summer by the time I finish socks for Leann and mom. This is bad. This is wool yarn. Maybe winter will last into July.
  • Comprehend that Leann will curse me for life if winter lasts that long. Decide they'll just have to wait until I get the damn things finished and they'll like it. So there! Take that!
  • Review progress on first pair of socks.

  • Frantically search for sheet that shows how many more rows of gussets I need to do because I did all this on tuesday night and my memory for things not involving springs and plastic molded parts have gone to pot. Twist face up when I realize the sheet is in the book I photographed the sock on top of. *sigh*
  • Decide that sock now looks like a snake with its mouth open rather then a gutted fish.

  • Watch mom trying to get the ornaments off the Christmas tree. Yes, she's taking it down now. Yes, its mid-February. Yes, I don't care.
  • Get phone call that I missed my hair appointment tonight. That means no cut or color. That means I'll be shaggy and have blond roots by the time I get around to going. I don't care.
  • Get excited when I realize the latest Project Runway episode is being re-run again. Realize this only further enforces my geekdom that it makes me excited.
  • Inwardly sob when I look at the clock and see that I'll be dragging myself off to bed in another hour and a half since I'm working tomorrow as well. *sigh* Decide I don't care.
  • Shriek at the westie because he's hopped up next to me on the sofa and is licking my arm and I can't type anything without having to go back and fix the spelling. Decide I don't care.
  • Now the dog is sulking, mom is cussing at the Christmas tree because it won't let go of the ornaments, I'm looking at the socks and wondering if they will be finished in this millenium and feeling gross because I can't stop thinking about what I need to do at work tomorrow. Decide I don't care about any of it and I'm going to stop typing and watch Tim Gunn. Make it work.

12 February 2008

For the Love of God already, have mercy…

We are getting another snow storm right now. I can honestly say that I can't remember when a winter has gotten on my nerves so badly. It normally takes me 25 minutes to get to work but it took me a little over an hour to drive home today.

So in honor of the wretched white crap that shows absolutely no signs of letting up, I bring you my Top Ten Reasons Why Living in Michigan during the Winter will Make you Crazy:

1. Living in Michigan during the winter is much like living in a snow globe. The first few snow falls make you feel like you are living in a Norman Rockwell painting but then some brat comes along and turns you upside down and it won’t quit snowing until June.

2. We have the most unique viruses in the country here. The constant fluctuation of temperatures – freezing one day and warm the next – has mutated every known cold and flu known to man. Even the CDC cringes when they learn a sick person is from Michigan.

3. If you have a small pet, snow drifts are like the frozen tundra. Don’t take your eyes off them when they are walking around out there, they can disappear in the blink of an eye.

4. If you live with someone going through menopause, learn to dress in layers since hot flashes will have windows opened throughout the house “just a little bit.”

5. The short walk from the parking lot at work to the building is a sufficient amount of time for all the boogers in your nose to completely freeze.

6. You have three options for clearing snow: a) shovel it (sorry Leann), b) snow blow it or c) wait for spring.

7. Driving anywhere takes three times as long. Your automobile becomes one of those bad American Idol auditions as you sing loudly and badly to all the songs on the radio just to amuse yourself.

8. If your mailbox is at the end of the driveway, the guy who drives the neighborhood snow plow will giggle madly as he piles the snow four feet high and three feet deep in front of it. Retrieving the daily mail now requires an ice pick and a prayer.

9. You will become excited for any temperature in the double digits. We aren’t a picky population, we’ll take what we can get. Bring on the 10 degrees baby!!!

10. We have a special set of curse words generated by the bleeping *^#&@^ driving the bleeping SUV behind you that feels tailgating during a snow storm is not only appropriate but a requirement. You could flip them the bird but you need both hands for the steering wheel.

If you are also in a state being pelted by all this poopy weather, may the force be with you. All this should be done in another two months. Oh joy.

10 February 2008

Where I Stand Sunday

The tiles have copied the colors of nature but they are just as cold and harsh as the winter raging outside. The small windows cast deep shadows, adding to the already tired mood produced by absent sun. The cold has seeped into every crack, every corner and although the city battles back as best it can, its inhabitants suffers under the weight of the gray skies.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell

09 February 2008

Prepping for maximum sanity retention

There are two options for how I will react when informed I need to go on overtime at work:

1. Weeping and smacking my head into my desk in frustration. Thoughts of sabotaging my computer run through my mind (which only demonstrates my desperation since we are on a network that resides offsite so I can log onto any computer in the building to work) and I begin to plot escapes that can only rival that of a prison inmate that has spent the last ten years in solitary.

2. A resigned willingness. There will be an obsessive cleaning and purging of all old materials from previous assignments and a mild panic when I realize I have other work to wrap up before I can start my overtime assignment. There will be pre-overtime overtime which is time squirreled away for when I need a couple extra hours off work. Which can only mean that its actually paid overtime and I am in need of the extra funds.

I'm firmly locked into reaction #2 at the moment. I have a house fund that needs a boost in the worst way so when overtime was mentioned, my ears perked up like a terrier going out ratting. So I sat down last night and made a list of all the things I would like to accomplish this weekend because once the onslaught at work begins, I will be the equivalent of a zombie. If there are things ready for me to work on in the evenings, I'll pick at them and get some work done. If not, then I will find myself far behind on the schedule I set for myself to get artwork done.

Not only does it keep me on schedule but it also keeps me sane. You know the old saying, "All work and no play makes Lynn a dull girl"? That could be revised to "All work and no play turns Lynn into a psychotic cranky person." Release outlets for the stress are a must.

I've got a plan. Here's how its going:

  • I had my second sock knitting class today at the prettiest yarn store in the world and learned how to deal with gussets. I plan to finish the gussets between tonight and tomorrow because it requires counting and thought. Then I'll be to the foot and that's mindless stockinette. Perfect for zombie knitting. Here's how they look after class today:

They still look like gutted fish, don't they? It dumbfounds me that after two hours of class it looks very nearly identical to when I got there. Its annoying. Lynne-the-Sock-Knitting-Goddess assures me that its normal when you are learning. I still say its some weird magic trick designed to drive me over the edge. Regardless, I will soldier on. Its hellish cold here in Michigan and my feet need wool socks.

The realization that I took two hours to pick up gusset stitches and knit four rounds required comforting. This yarn followed me home today.

I don't think I want to make anything out of it. I think I want to leave it in a blob like this and just be mesmorized by it. I don't care if its weird. Its so pretty it deserves to be worshiped.

  • I've made some progress on the Opposite Socks. I plan to cast on for the orange sock (its a rust orange, it looks kind of red in the picture) this weekend so that I can work on the pair like I'm doing with the first pair. I think this might prevent the Second Sock Syndrome I hear so much about from sock knitters. Which, from what I understand, results in an overwhelming urge to walk around with only one sock despite threats of frostbite or impalement.

  • I've been steadily making amigurumi sushi. I've been crocheting the rice base for several pieces and I plan to stuff them tonight and stitch them shut. Then I need to make the fish toppings for them, which can be worked on during the week. They kind of look like big old....well....this is a PG rated blog so I won't say what I think they look like. Here they are:

I need to make sure I keep going on these because they are for a swap and my swap partner sent me mine today. Here it is, my amigurumi Breakfast of Champions:

To say this thrills me is a major understatement. I love the way the edges of the eggs are irregular like they would be in real life. So cool, so exciting. And she sent it packaged in a styrofoam take out box. I've been giggle snorting about it since I opened the box. :) Thanks Jenna!!!!

  • Next week is the ATC Exchange meeting and Leann will be running the show since I can't make it. Here are my ATCs so far. Aren't they thrilling?

I will be working on these after I'm done with this post. I expect Leann would drag me from my office and beat me about the head with markers and glue sticks if I don't keep my pledge to do ATCs for every meeting. She can be such a scary bully, you guys just don't know. (If you know her, you know how comical this is because Leann is an easy going hippie that can't even bring herself to eat meat because its mean.)

  • I have a new plan for my botany quilt with the leaves I showed you a couple posts ago. I abandoned the wire swirl for each leaf because I couldn't find a colored wire that I liked well enough. So I'm doing beads since I didn't need to buy any and I can piddle around with making each one a little different.
My plan was to finish this one by the end of February but that's not going to happen. My new goal is the end of March. Hopefully that one is doable.

  • And for the evenings when I can move nothing more then my eyeballs, I have a new book to read. I highly recommend Alyson Stanfield. If you don't subscribe to her free newsletter, you need to. She is an art business coach and I've found a lot of her advice to be extremely helpful. She just released her first book and my copy came in the mail earlier in the week. I'm hoping it helps me to develop a plan of attack for showing my work next year.

I know it seems like a lot of options but they are predicting this assignment will last through the end of the month. Trust me, I will be a much less stressed out chicka if I have something pleasant to come home to and play with in the evenings.

Today involved some domestic duties. One of which was grocery shopping. Did you know that if you drop a container of Dannon Fruit-on-the-Bottom yogurt just right that the bottom explodes and splatters the filling about ten feet across the floor? That was a fun thing to learn. The little boy in the checkout line behind me about peed himself laughing. I was glad to offer him some much needed amusement.

So if the blog goes dark for a while, don't be alarmed. It just means that my brain has been sucked out my head. No worries.

07 February 2008

Online temptations

One of my shameful secrets is that I like these online quizzes and tests and strangely bizarre games. Give 'em a go.

Flight of the Hamsters video game. (Thank the Yarn Harlot for this one. I only made it up to 71 feet, let me know if you do better. Update: Make that 238 feet.)

74 words

free Touch typing

Your Superhero Profile

Your Superhero Name is The Blue Phantom
Your Superpower is Near-death Experience
Your Weakness is Body odors
Your Weapon is Your Wind Blade
Your Mode of Transportation is Houseboat

Its all mind numbing fun. Enjoy.

06 February 2008

Snow inpsired art

Dooley took one glance out the door this evening, then looked up at me with the most pitiful look I've ever seen. I had the urge to pick him up and hold him over the toilet so he didn't have to go out in the extremely wet snowy storm we're having right now, but I didn't think my back could take it. So I apologized and shoved him out into it. He's been properly cuddled and comforted and is now snoring peacefully next to me. (He seems to have given up licking the laptop so I'm letting him up next to me again when I use it.)

The weather here right now is really quite annoying. My windshield wiper blade froze to the glass by the time I got out of work and in its effort to free itself of the ice, riped off half the squeegee portion. So I got to watch the little black thing flop wildly all over as I drove home (half of it was still attached and I had to use it). What usually is a twenty minute drive home took me a little over an hour today. Charming.

But there is one good thing to say about this weather. And that's the fact that I hole up on the couch and work on different art projects. Toward the top of the list are my botany quilts. Mostly because I'm making three so I really need to budget time and work ahead. (Trust me, certain people will not let me live it down if I don't finish these.)

So here is the first one, still in need of assembly but its finally done building itself in my mind so now I just need to make it:

This is also the only one of the three I plan to list for sale. Mostly because one of the other quilts will be beyond time consuming and I don't think I could get a price for it I would be happy with and the third one will kind of be a franken-quilt. I'm planning to torture the original quilt I started last year into submission and its going to involve scissors, glue and some squealing on the artwork's part.

This one has those leaves that I worked on over Christmas break. I don't think I'll use all of them, mostly because my work tends to be smaller but I want to use a good variety of colors. I'm also planning on doing the little metal swirl in each one instead of veining.

I have silver wire on hand but I just don't think it pops. I saw some burnt orange and dark read that I really liked so I think I may give those an audition. I'm going to work out the size of the tree and then I'll know just how many metal doo-hickey thingies I need to make. Then I'll stitch them to the leaves with invisible thread.

And lest you think I've given up on the socks, think again my friends. I've just gone as far as I can so they are just hanging out, patiently waiting for this saturday when I'll learn how to do the gussets:

For some reason they remind me of gutted fish right now.

Here is the second pair of socks:

This is still the first sock from this pair. Me and this here sock had a talk the other day.

Me: Look you, this is the last time I am casting on for you. So you can cooperate or you can stay wound in that ball and turn into moth food.

Sock: {thoughtful silence}

Me: I mean it, last chance. You've lied about gauge, you've been uncooperative and twisted on the needles and you've made me look like a real dope by looking backwards when you really weren't.

Sock: {mocking silence}

Me: Here we go. Cooperate or I'm putting you in Dooley's toy basket.

It seems to have worked. I'm making some Opposite Socks. (This idea is completley not mine and credit must be given to Cari over at Dogs Steal Yarn. She calls them Positive Negative Socks (Feb 4 post) and I just think they are very fun. Plus they are plain stockinette and unless you have to cast on for them eight times - like someone we all know who will not be named - they go pretty quick. Plus her blog is one of my favorites. I highly recommend it for good reading.)

So these socks are progressing and in some twisted version of reality, I was thinking I could get down to the heel part by this saturday. Go ahead, giggle away....

Its not going to happen but maybe by my third sock class when I learn to do the toe I'll be there so Lynne-the-Sock-Knitting-Goddess can show me how to join in a new color so it doesn't look like I did it blindfolded. (My new color joining skills are more fudging practices at this point then skills. I need to fix that.)

Tomorrow after work I'm going to stop off and get the wire I need for my leaves so I can start coiling and stitching. Provided the garage door isn't frozen to the ground in the morning.

05 February 2008

Resistance is futile

Allow me to explain my working environment. I sit in what is referred to as a bull-pen cubicle. (Charming description, isn’t it? It just further reinforces my corporate cattle identity.) What this means is that there is one gigantic square cube and a person is stationed in each corner. What this also means is that you really need to like your co-workers.

Fortunately for me, I do. This is the third desk I’ve had during my ten year run here and I actually chose it the last time I moved. So I’m pretty well situated and content with my neighbor. Until today. I’ve now decided he is evil.

The man brought in two dozen paczki. Our filing cabinets are made up of really wide print drawers and only stand about three feet high so we butted them up against each other to create a makeshift table to roll out prints and hold meetings and such. Its also where the box of paczki are stationed today.

And he got the good ones. No grocery store imposters, no wimpy little jelly donughts that are mascareding as paczki. No,no, these came from a bakery in town that, although run by non-Polish bakers, would give the shops in Hamtramck a run for their money. These things are gigantic. And full of jelly and probably average at least a thousand calories a piece.

I wish I could say I didn’t eat one but you know, I’m Polish, it’s a requirement. Its amusing to me that so many people who stopped by to get one griped and complained about how fattening they are but still proceeded to snatch one and flee like a squirrel collecting nuts for the winter. I guess I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Yes, I know they aren’t good for you but its once a year. Eat the damn thing, enjoy it and move on. (Of course, I’m not a big fan of donughts. I only like paczki and cider mill donughts so I eat them twice a year. Still, eating one is not the end of the world unless you have a medical condition that dictates you shouldn’t. But really, that’s up to you to make the smart move.)

I guess I am once again left staring at how “health conscious” society is. More accurately, I think its weight obessesed. And I’m of the opinion that filling your body with artificial fat and sweetners and taking over-the-counter diet pills that recommend wearing dark clothing because it makes your butt leak does not make you healthy. Of course, neither does a packzi but if you are like me and view it as a once a year indulgence, its all good. So for those of you who are on the fence as to whether or not you should eat your artery clogging friend, I bring you my Top Ten Reasons to Eat a Paczki Today:

1. Its an opportunity to explore another culture. You are educating yourself on Polish traditions and you don’t want to insult them by not partaking of their food, do you?

2. Just figuring out how to spell paczki (which bears no resemblance to how its pronounced) uses up a lot of brain cells and should count as aerobic exercise.

3. You are helping to stimulate the economy by buying a little deep fried friend today. Do your part, eat a paczki.

4. The groundhog saw his shadow so you need to bulk up for the extended winter.

5. It’s a legal way to get stoned. The carb coma produced by eating one of these puppies rivals the effects of valium. You’ll have a much more pleasant day because of it.

6. Its amusing to watch engineers wearing white shirts bite into a blueberry filled one and have the filling plop all over them. They get to walk around the rest of the day looking like they were standing under a tree filled with birds that had upset stomachs. (Okay, maybe this is only my amusement. Its ironic justice, I guess you’d have to work with them to be as pleased as I am.)

7. You won’t need lunch. One paczki costs less then buying lunch (particularly if someone else brought them in and you get it for free) so really, it’s a cost savings.

8. Despite all the ranting and raving about calories and fat, they have one very strong point that keeps them thriving: they are damn good.

9. If you buy one and can’t bring yourself to eat it, allow it to age for about a week. They make excellent hockey pucks.

10. Its an excellent way to kiss up to the boss, especially if he is also Polish and is having a bad day. Paczki are loved by all, give the gift of deep fried dough.

Happy Fat Tuesday everyone.

04 February 2008

I hate Phil

I'm speaking of this Phil. The furry little rat from Punxsutawney saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of winter.

And while I'm not of the superstitous variety, I put more stock in his weather foretelling then I do of any of the bozos that are on TV. I've always said it must be nice to be a professional weatherperson. You are charged with the task of making best guesses about the weather, you never have to be correct because there really isn't any way to be sure, and you get paid to work people up into a tizzy.

I don't hate winter. But I'm trying to convince the guy I sit next to at work to shoot Phil. (He's an avid hunter and quite skilled. But he only kills what he can eat and he's not convinced that Phil will be tasty. I tried telling him that with enough garlic anything is tasty but he just shook his head and turned away. Clearly I'm not going to win the argument.) But I do miss being able to open the windows in my studio (particularly when I'm using E6000 glue and getting stoned off the fumes) and walking the Dooley dog in the evenings.

Having lived in Michigan my whole life I'm pretty well committed to the idea of having snow well into May. But I'm wondering if we managed to take out the furry rat and he couldn't see his shadow anymore if we'd have a better shot at shorter winters. I love animals but not this one. I believe he was put here on this earth to make people on this side of the country miserable. I want a recount. Or whatever you call it. A reshadow? Something. Or a new animal. I bet a dog wouldn't be this cruel.

Damn groundhog.

03 February 2008

Here's how to fix it...

Take a day (a weekend day works best) and give men a huge distraction. Usually something along the lines of other men dressed in spandex chasing each other around a fake grass field over a leather ball works best.

Then take a shop that sells all varieties of yarn and put it all of it on sale on the same day. This allows women to exit the house without being noticed.

What exactly does this fix? The economic depression. I saw absolutely no evidence of a lack of discretionary spending money today. Yarn was flying, women were sedated into a pleasant stupor, and the line to the cash register caused mild fights because its stretched so long that yarn displays were being blocked.

This was the scene today at the Old Village Yarn Shop. All the yarn is on sale today for 30% off. And the already sale yarn was discounted an additional 30% off. (All the stuff that was on sale prior today was all novelty stuff and I just can't bring myself to buy yarn that looks like something a cat coughed up no matter how cheap it is. The stuff was at 80% off since it was already half off and then got knocked down more. One lady got $450 worth of the stuff for $90. I thought she was going to faint.)

I knew I wanted to go there for some Noro Sock Yarn. I have no intention of making it into socks because it seems like it would be the equivalent of wearing brillo pads on your feet. Plus its thick and thin so I'm going to use it for knitting leaves. Or lace. Or something other then what it is intended for. That should be an adventure. I also picked up some of the Noro that has silk in it. I've drooled on it every time I've gone in there and just couldn't bring myself to spend the money on it but the discount made it doable. Here, meet my new Noro friends:

I did actually go in there with a plan. I've been wanting to make this scarf from Scarf Style for a while so I decided this was a good time to get the yarn for it. I only got one color even though the pattern calls for sploots of other colors. I didn't really like that so I'm going to do it all in one color. Patterns are only suggestions, right?

I had copied the page of the pattern that had how much yarn I needed to take with me. One lady saw me with it and about knocked me over for it. I decided to let her have it, she kind of scared me a little. It truly was a contact sport in there today.

And lastly, these guys followed me home. They are Sulka yarn and they are wool, alpaca and silk. Yet another one that I pet every time I go in there but wished it was just a little bit cheaper. Today it was so today I got some. I'm a big fan of grey tones of wool, very natural feeling and organic. Love it.

I'm finding that I'm buying more stitch pattern books then I am actual pattern books. Which means I'm following the same path I did when I first got interested in quilting: I'm planning on making up my own stuff. Which does result in a lot of swearing and teeth gnashing but hey, what's a hobby worth if it doesn't challenge you? (And make you a little looney?)

So remember, Super Bowl sunday is for women too. You just need to swap the field out for a yarn store and the football out for wool. I feel like I finally understand the appeal of it now.

Where I Stand Sunday

He will follow me through the day, supervising my activities. He is happy to lead me on a walk down the street or pop his head out the passenger side window during a slow drive. He is my companion and when I am sick, he lays on the sofa with me until I am better. My life is richer because of him, my furry little friend.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

02 February 2008

Homework isn't what it used to be...

For the past four weeks I've been taking an online writing class from Gotham Writers' Workshop. I really like it and I'm only goofing with the creative writing class right now but I plan to keep going with it. Its too much fun.

I will fully admit that when I realized I had to turn in homework each week I got a little twitchy. Some of the assignments have not been that exciting for me. Topics that don't thrill but I did them anyway because, well, I had to. But I figured its good practice at any rate and I've gotten a lot better at revising my stories so that's a good thing.

But last week I giggle snorted myself silly when I read the assignment. I was sure that the teacher had been sensing my need for something more...creative. Here's what it was:

"Make a list of five pet peeves. Pick the most eccentric and write about it."

Seriously? This is homework? Rarely am I specifically asked to be a smartass. I made my list (truth be told it was longer then five items. Who only has five pet peeves? Anyone who says they do is a dirty liar, don't believe them.) and wrote it up in about fifteen minutes. I swear, this shouldn't be homework. My first thought was that this was just like a blog post. So I figured, I'll post it here too.

I got the feedback from my teacher on it today. I giggle snorted again. Here is the first couple sentences:

This is very funny. How odd, and wonderful.

(I have to admit that I was a little nervous to submit this. The woman teaching the class is a prize winning writer and has interviewed a lot of people. It kind of felt like handing Wolfgang Puck a reheated burrito from a gas station for a meal.)

I'm odd and wonderful. **giggle** **snort** **giggle** Okay, I'm done now. Here it is:

It’s been yet another long day; I’ve settled into the sofa and clicked on the telly. And there he is. The inflated urgency of his voice, the inane promises of miracles, the frantic pace of the presentation all add up to one thing: annoying. What automotive test engineers seek to accomplish in a 0-60 test, he can do in half a second. He can take my mood from calm to wickedly aggravated in the blink of an eye.

I don’t care about Oxyclean or Kaboom or OrangeGlo. In fact, Mr. Mays, if the only thing standing between me and million dollars was the use of your products, I’d apply for welfare. Watching your commercials is like watching a bad accident. I know I shouldn’t look at it and I should flip the channel, but it never ceases to amaze me how ridiculous you look waving your arms around and talking with an enthusiasm that rivals the textbook definition of insanity. I can’t imagine having to spend any time with you outside of the twenty seconds I spend giving you dirty looks you can’t see.

My life will not be better by using your products. In fact, I think I’ve lost too many brain cells already having to listen to your ludicrous sales pitches. I’ve been keeping track. I’ve got a little notebook by the sofa and every time one of your commercials comes on, I make a tick mark. There are enough marks there now to make me worry about a heart attack for all the times you’ve raised my blood pressure. I’d rather have stained clothing, spots on the carpet and crusty looking furniture then spend one penny on any of your wonder products.

My only hope is that you’ve struck some deal with the devil. That is the only explanation I will accept as to why you are allowed to continue your campaign of torture. It appears you won’t be satisfied until you’ve driven everyone over the edge. You may want to consider the fact that we won’t be able to buy your products if we’ve all committed suicide. So please, Mr. Mays, take your fingernails-on-a-rusty-chalkboard voice and go find someone else to torment. I will not give you one penny of my money. Oh wait, maybe that’s a lie. Maybe I would pay you. In fact, I’m sure there is something that I would gladly give you money for…a TV smart enough to know when your commercials are coming on that can mute itself.

01 February 2008

Its about accurate

Mary came across this when she was in Mexicantown the other day. She called me all squealy because...well...how often do you really come across a skeleton that's knitting? (For those of you who don't know, I'm a huge fan of Dia de los Muertos and people fling skeletons me at every opportunity. I have quite the army of them. Many thanks to Mary for the latest addition.)

She asked (foolishly) if I wanted her and I said yes. She delivered my new little friend this week and its kind of eerie...

...because that's pretty much the expression I've had on my face lately while I've been knitting...