Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'm not disappearing

I'm taking this week off to help Len with rental change over.

I managed to avoid cleaning any bathrooms last year (although I think kitchens are just as disgusting). This year I've cleaned two, neither of which seem to have been cleaned in three years. Nasty.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Random Mix Wednesday

Back in January, I did a random shuffle thing with my ipod. I don't know how you felt about it, but I enjoyed it, so I think it's time to do it again. I don't think I'll follow the rules as closely, I won't skip embarrassing songs (not that I listen to anything embarrassing!) but I'll probably skip songs I don't know well or that I don't like.

1. Flowers -- Brian Lillie -- Rowboats
He's a local (to Ann Arbor) singer-songwriter. Or he was, I think he still lives here, but he hasn't released an album in about 7 years. His music has meant a lot to me over the years, and this song is a good representation of his stuff: big, boisterous, kinda messy, and cheerfully wise. "You and me/we're flowers baby/let's go dancing in the park...love is so much bigger than needin'/it makes you choose, choose, choose". I don't think this (or any of his CD's) is very available, which is very unfortunate, because they are very worth having.

2. Out of Business -- Duke Levine -- Passion Fish (Soundtrack)
This is a little 30 second filler. When this movie/soundtrack came out I was working at Zingerman's, this CD was on the changer. I think there were only about 5 albums in there, the others seemed to get switched out pretty frequently, but this one stayed in for months. By the time it came out, there were only two people in the place who could stand it, me and one of the owners (don't follow the link if you don't want to see him). I still love the album, and the movie is wonderful (I could go on and on about John Sayles, but I won't).

3. Another Town -- Steve Earle -- Transcendental Blues
It's not like I'm going to put anything on this list I don't love, so why even say how much I adore Steve Earle? This album is from well after he got sober, but before he got politics (he also happened to have just fallen in love, but that's not saying much, since he's been married about 8 times). This particular song is very country-swing, and very fun. Say it, Keith, you know you want to!

4. Coming Back to You -- Trisha Yearwood -- Tower of Song (Tribute to Leonard Cohen)
First of all this version of this song caused me to buy a Trisha Yearwood album, which was a mistake, it wasn't nearly as good as this powerhouse of a song. A few posts back, I referred to a time in my life that was very painful. This song was the soundtrack and it really got to the root of how sad I was (the worst part is that I was always driving when I heard it, it's a wonder I didn't get into an accident). "Maybe I'm still hurting/I can't turn the other cheek/But you know that I still love you/It's just that I can't speak/I looked for you in everyone/and they called me on that too/I lived alone but I was only/Coming back to you". Martin Gore (of Depeche Mode) has another version on the CD which is very different, and just as devastating.

5. Downtown -- Petula Clark
Ok. This was part of some ad campaign, I don't know for what, but I was reminded of how much I like the song. Good mood change from the previous one, don't you think? This, to me, is what makes iTunes such a great thing: I can just download one fun song and not have to pay for other stuff I don't care about. Of course, it used to be that you could buy the 45, and yes, I am old enough to remember those days.

6. Too Many Memories -- Patty Loveless -- Long Stretch of Lonesome
Now she's country! Such a sad, sweet song. If you have any regrets, if your heart has ever been broken, do not, under any circumstances, listen to "When Fallen Angels Cry", "The Trouble With the Truth" and "Long Stretch of Lonesome" all in a row. It will take you a month to recover. Certainly, if you like country, you should own them, just don't over do it.

7. Be Thou My Vision -- Ginny Owens -- Without Condition
This is an ancient hymn, and it's gorgeous and very powerful (no matter who sings it). Personally, I think the song edges out "Amazing Grace", maybe because it isn't such a cliche, it seems like a more naked declaration of faith. Owens' version is all breath, atmosphere and mystery, I just wish she'd done the whole song, rather than just a couple of them.

8. Night Fever -- Bee Gees -- Saturday Night Fever
I suppose I should be embarrassed by this, but I'm not. The Bee Gees made great pop music, and this song is one of the better examples. I've only seen snippets of the movie.

9. Inhabiting the Ball -- Jim Roll -- Inhabiting the Ball
Another local singer-songwriter. This one's much more available, since he had something of a national audience. The schtick of this album is that Roll got authors Denis Johnson and Rick Moody to contribute lyrics for many of the songs, which could have come off gimmicky, but the album is both lyrically and musically strong. This is the first song, it has an arty collage thing happening in the background, and while nothing else on the album sounds like it, it sets up the album nicely.

10. Waltz Across Texas Tonight -- Emmylou Harris -- Wrecking Ball
The strongest voice on this album isn't Emmylou Harris, it's Daniel Lanois (who I'm pretty sure I'd leave Len for, just sayin'), circa "For the Beauty of Wynona" (an album that totally changed my life). Are you getting the feeling I rather talk about Daniel Lanois? Ok, I'll stick to the singer and song at hand. It's a beautiful song, and Emmylou's voice is just lovely. In her earlier career her voice was as clear as a bell, on this album it's taken on a raspy texture that deepens her delivery. I can picture how a video for this might look: black and white, fuzzy-watery kind of filter, couples waltzing at some kind of outdoors evening dance.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It Burns!

This is how I spent my weekend:

Pickled Jalapenos

Honey Pickled Jalapenos. Or Pickled Honeyed Jalapenos. Or something. I did a few tiny jars of these last years and they are heavenly, especially in grilled cheese sandwiches. These jars represent 3 or 4 pounds of peppers, hours of slicing and every single empty half pint and quarter pint jar I had.

Pickled Jalapenos - Closeup

They are also a perfect example of how I am a complete moron (the first such example from this summer involved a very nasty sunburn). Hot peppers = HOT. That heat is due to an insidious oil, which, if you don't wear the recommended protective gear, HURTS. A lot. For hours. Luckily, I wasn't stupid enough to rub my eyes -- I once had a boyfriend who, while canning Hungarian hot peppers rubbed his contact lensed eyes. He managed to get the lenses out, washed them, then put them back in a couple of days later. Idiot.

And I'm drowning in tomatoes. At last count, I'm at 11 or 12 pounds of Sweet 100s. Yikes!


I also have Amish Paste tomatoes making a big showing and the Beefsteak are starting to ripen.

When I start really melting down, remind me to re-read this quote from my grandmother's (unpublished) memoir of homesteading in Northern Idaho ("Dee" is her mother): "From the produce of the garden and the woods, Dee canned seven or eight hundred quarts of fruit and vegetables each year, besides jams, jellies, and pickles. Even venison and elk went into the Mason jars. She preferred the neck of an elk for her incomparable mincemeat." I could argue that I have a full time job and longish commute, but Grandma continues with everything else her mother has to do: cooking, baking, cleaning, educating her two eldest children, and substitute teaching in town. For a variety of reasons, her husband was rarely home, thus maintenance of the household fell to Dee. Times were certainly different, I think it is very useful to remind myself that everything I do, every jar I drop into boiling water, is a choice. Dee did it out of necessity.

Several people (Stef, Valerie, and my sister-in-law) have recommended the Barbara Kingsolver book. I will get to it, I promise, but the metaphorical stack on my night table is threatening to topple over and kill me in the night.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Home #6

I took these yesterday morning. Photoshop is a wonderful thing.

Foggy Sunrise
I had to work at getting the colors back into this one (taking a picture into even a hazed over sun will do that). I put a grainy filter on, which tones down the harshness of the light.

2Foggy Morning
This is a small portion of a much bigger picture. I used a Photoshop filter to smooth out the pixeliness, I love that it also enhances the haziness of the morning.

Knitting At Last!

I know, y'all missed it so. I know I do.

Obnoxious Flower Sweater

I didn't take pictures of the sleeves, but you will just have to trust me when I say they are done. I finished the back and one front a long time ago, before I understood the magic of using short rows to shape shoulders (and collars, for that matter). I think (I hope) this is the last holdover, 'cos those shoulders were a pain to sew together.


The color is fairly accurate. I think the flower turned out reasonably well, especially considering how much I despise knitting intarsia. I can't wait to get this finished, not because knitting been so painful -- I mean, let's face it, if it had been that bad, I'd have totally ditched the project by now -- but I'm really interested to see how it turned out. I draped it over myself last night, it looks like a crazy, flappy vest. Finishing should take care of that.


Edging for the lace handkerchief. I have 12 repeats so far, I need 27 before I can go onto the next step. This is knitted on #0000 needles with cobweb wool. This ball was given to me without a label, but I suspect it's from Lacis (search for "shetland cobweb wool"). I should have used something for size comparison, but I guess you could use the cat hair ({sigh} I hate our couch).

Lace Panel Jacket

This is the first Interweave Knits I bought, in the Summer of 1998 (I learned to knit a year before). I've wanted to make this ever since. I bought the yarn -- Dale of Norway's long since discontinued Kolibri, in a pretty sage green -- years ago, while visiting my friend Cindy in Portland, Oregon. I totally remember the shop (though not it's name) because they kept their clearance yarn in a bathtub. It seems like I read recently that is was Joan McGowan-Micheal's first Interweave design, but she only claims a design from Winter 1998 on her website (this is definitely her's). Maybe she doesn't want people to remember it because the construction is sadistic -- it's knit in strips and everything is sewn together. I figure I'll finish this in 10 years or so. Hope I don't run out of yarn.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I'm coming up for air to report that my head did not explode. Saturday night was pretty shaky, I can't say there weren't a few exhausted tears. There was, perhaps, a threat (or three) on the boyfriend's well being. But we made it through and fun was had by most.


Yummy Pack N Play

The babies turned a year old. They are as pretty as ever and awfully happy (which is a good thing, since they spent the first 6 months of their lives awfully unhappy, in a colicky sort of way).

My parents, grandparents and aunt came to our very clean home for lunch on Sunday. I was much less stressed out by the time they got there, so I was able to relax and enjoy their company. It turns out, my dad has bought a 1963 Morgan and is very excited about it; he and Len bonded over cars.

I'm sad to say, the only way we were able to get the house clean and food made on time was to skip Keith's debut with the honky tonk band. I didn't get to see him in his fetching, yet silly, borrowed boots. Or is it silly, yet fetching? Word is, they didn't get home until 2:00 in the morning. *Cough* Probably for the best that we didn't go.

In knitting news (but no pictures), I've finished the knitting for the Obnoxious Flower Sweater, but haven't started sewing it up yet. I've also started the Lace Handkerchief from Knitting Around the World. Yes, in cobweb with 0000 needles. Clearly, the stress and the heat and humidity have affected me in very bad ways. I'll try for pictures tonight, but I have to get five pounds of beans in the freezer before they go bad.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


My parents, grandparents and an aunt* are coming to our house on Sunday for lunch. So grown up. So freaked out. I would be less stressed out if the grandparents and aunt had been there before, but they haven't, so I really want to show the house at it's very best. Unfortunately, this has been the summer of no vacuuming.

I should have all day Saturday to prepare. I should have Len to help. However, Len is working on the outside of the house and working six days a week. And Saturday:


These two (Len's nephew, Max and niece, Madelyn) are having their first birthday party in the afternoon. And who could resist those faces?

Spending a couple of hours in Saline wouldn't be so stressful, except our friend, K. is playing in a honky tonk band that night in Ypsilanti. We find the prospect of K (in borrowed boots, no less) playing in honky tonk band pretty irresistible. Plus. Vietnamese food across the street.

All of which means I have to get the house ready during the week, while at the same time dealing with an explosion of garden produce. I've been picking a pound and a half of beans every other day, and that's only because the green beans haven't been coming in as quickly as the purple beans. Yet. And despite how disappointed K and my sister will be, I am not very sorry that the damned rabbits are eating all of the pickling cucumbers.

As though that isn't enough, I've been having a minor emotional meltdown. Nothing serious, someone from my past contacted me and I was unexpectedly reminded of a very painful time in my life. While I'm not entirely surprised, I am a little rattled.

Wet Poppy

I've been knitting, but not much and not anything interesting enough to take pictures of. So a pretty picture of a poppy will have to do. I put poppy seeds in last fall and early this spring. They started blooming after everyone else's were done and they aren't finished yet -- there were six new blooms this morning.

If you don't hear from me for a few days, it's because my head exploded. Don't worry, though. Len will clean it up.

*These relationships are more complicated, but my family takes hours to explain and I am already overwhelmed.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Len at Work

Len at Work

Hahahaha!! What? You weren't a child of the '80s?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Home Improvements

I've been tinkering a bit with the blog. I took the picture in the banner in January, the light fixtures looked like UFOs against the sunset, which I found particularly amusing since this is my old high school's parking lot. UFO landing. Couldn't happen to a better place. I'm still working on getting the title and description to stand out a little better, but Blogger isn't behaving.

I also added a new blog category, Pursuing Creativity (Insanity) in my (way too long) list of blogs. This is especially in honor of my dear friend Stef, who finally started a blog. While she is certainly a weaver and knitter, no mere Knitting/Weaving category can contain her. I can't decide if I am in awe of her range, jealous, or a bit frightened. I put angry chicken and DPS in that category as well, because I appear to be going a bit insane.

Valerie: my e-mail address is in my profile. If you are coming to Ann Arbor during the week, let me know. I would be happy to pass on some of those lovely ball of red joy. I agree completely, those grape tomatoes have no flavor whatsoever!