Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On Ice

Twenty or so years ago, when we lived briefly in Missouri, I took ice skating lessons. I don't remember much - mainly that I got to buy spiffy shoes. Ever since, I've been afraid to step back on the ice. On our last day in Tahoe, I conquered my fear and did pretty well, all things considered.


There is an outdoor rink in South Lake Tahoe, just near the gondolas we took up the mountain. My sister, Julie, my neice and nephew, and I went to skate while my dad took pics. Once I got my ice-legs once more, I had tons of fun. It was especially nice to spend over an hour with my niece.


We noticed that there were lights strung up over the rink and decided to come back at night, to see the lights and skate once more. I'm so glad we did! My sister's mom paid for my niece and I to have a short, private lesson where we learned how to twirl - in theory. Mary-Helen did better than I but I still had a blast. And during this lesson, while trying to do a figure eight, I fell down for the first and only time. A kamakazee girl ruined my figure eight and I was trying not to hit her!


It really was a blast and I don't think I've ever had so much fun - well, maybe while building the snowman. Our family friend who joined us on the trip, Eric, also came out to skate, though he seemed a bit shaky. It was the perfect ending to a near-perfect trip.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Up the Mountain!

On our last full day in Tahoe, we bought crazy expensive tickets to ride up the gondola to the ski slopes - where there is a great view of the lake. I was a bit hesitant about it - I don't like heights and movement at once - but I loved it.


On the ride up, it amazed me how quiet it was - when the kids were not screaming. Had I been alone, it would have been almost a religious experience. There is something so magical about the mountains!


The views were spectacular and I had more trouble looking at our route up, rather than looking at the lake below. Stunning!


We got to our first stop: a lookout platform about 8500 feet up. The entire lake was visible and the few clouds in the sky were at eye-level.


At our next stop, the skiers were getting off the gondola to go down the mountain. The trees were heavy with snow and it was truly a white landscape. So incredibly beautiful! This was at 9100 feet.


I will never forget this view. It was cold up on the mountain; my nephew's M&Ms froze as he ate them. How many times can I say this...stunning!


Monday, December 29, 2008

A Sleigh Ride

I am back home from the awesome Tahoe trip, which will surely go down as one of the funnest trips ever. Sure, there were moments of lost patience with some of the family, but when you're in tight quarters, that's to be expected. Nothing, however, could dampen my spirits and I have more pics to show you!


After the big snow on Christmas Day, the town seemed to finally wa
ke up on the 26th. The roads were finally plowed and there was a line of cars trying to get to the ski resort up the street. The temperature dropped and never rose above twenty degrees. We stayed inside until our scheduled sleigh ride in the afternoon.


You know it's cold when the water bottle in your pocket freezes during a thirty minute outdoor adventure. I've never been so cold! But the views were stunning, especially with the lake...


The Pony Express came through Tahoe once a week during it's eighteen month duration in the 1860s, and our route on the sleigh was similar to theirs - though they went farther up the mountain.


Can you imagine seeing this mountain without it's modern homes, businesses, and casinos? It would have been spectacular. Heck, it's spectacular with those things!


After our ride, I went for a walk with a few in our group, where I almost froze. We went down to the lake and it was stunning. The beach was white with snow and there looked to be a few feet of frozen water. The lake as a whole never freezes because it's too deep - 1600 feet. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera on this walk. You'll have to believe me when I say that a Lake Tahoe sunset is unlike anything else.

I'll post pictures of our ride up the mountain tomorrow. Talk about breathtaking!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Very White Christmas!

I have never had a real white Christmas until this year. According to the ski resort just up the road, we got thirty inches of snow in 24 hours. After playing in it, I believe it! It was absolutely amazing. In all my life, I've never seen anything more beautiful. Here's our house in Tahoe, after the snow...


It was quite a sight watching the snow all day long. Finally, after our big dinner, we got to go outside...


We almost drowned in snow! Our snowman got drenched!


I took a breather and looked up.... Wow.

It was an amazing Christmas - one I'll never forget! More pics soon!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snow....And More Snow!

I'm writing from South Lake Tahoe, California where it's snowing...a lot! The family (very extended) has gathered here from all around and we have enough food to get through a very long blizzard - or two. Unfortunately, we're running low on alcohol!

The drive up here was absolutely stunning and we stopped in Carson city - which I pronounce Cahson City because of Jackie Chan in SHANGHAI NOON. I didn't expect much but it turned out to be a neat town.


We walked around the town a bit and had lunch. Even my dad was impressed with the town and he's very difficult to impress!


It was so neat to see snow again!


Then we began our ascent to the lake - up and up and around and around. More pics tomorrow! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reno!

Last night, we arrived in Reno around midnight, central time. Though the clock read only 10pm, we were exhausted! We're staying at the Peppermill Hotel and Casino, which has a very nice, new Tuscan Tower, where our room is located.

It snowed here the other day and there are driving restrictions on the route up the mountain to Tahoe. It was a bit alarming to see such restrictions when it was sunny here, in Reno. So, after much debating, we decided to take a bus up the mountain and turn in our rental car. Considering the rest of our family is driving up, we'll have plenty of cars once we get up there. It'll be nice to have a worry-free drive up and especially down, in the early morning hours next week. (The pic below is of downtown, mostly of Harrah's Casino and Hotel.)


Today, we explored Reno a bit. I went to Jimmy Beans Wool, which has a fabulous online store, but also operates a storefront here in Reno. The ladies there were super nice and the store, though small, had a great selection of nice yarns. I was impressed! And yes, I bought some more yarn! I'll post pics later!

After that, we went to the National Auto Museum, where there were tons of c
ute cars.


The car above was one of my favorites: a 1937 Packard. My dad collects and restores antique cars and one of his cars was bought by the Harrah Collection (which makes up the majority of the cars at the museum), though it was not on display here. It was cool!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Cards

On Sunday, I finally had two hours to devote to Christmas card-making. Here was the result....


I've never been so pressed for time as I am this holiday season. I'm so relieved I decided to not knit too much this year. It would not have worked! As it is, I'm stressing about Tahoe - especially after this morning's fun filled aborted trip to DFW due to ice - and that's about all the stress I can take.

Tomorrow I get to teach a colleague to knit, to introduce her to this obsession. Should be fun!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Nashville Wrap-Up

I got behind in my blogging last week, during our trip to Nashville. It turned out to be a good trip and by the end of it, we had snow.

My camera is having serious issues - still - so I was unable to take pics of the magnificent Christmas lights at the Opryland Hotel. I've never seen a more beautiful display!

I didn't do much more sightseeing, as I'd been to Nashville before, so I shopped. I found a yarn store that was going out of business so I drove across town to that. It was nice, but picked over. I ended up with some green and purple TOFUtsies - that's it. While there, I went to a fancy mall that made me feel exceedingly poor. I didn't stay long.

During the trip as a whole, I got some knitting done, finishing a quick Christmas present. Now I need to start the next one!

While waiting on our plane in Nashville, it started snowing on Thursday, about an hour before our plane was due to depart. It turns out that this same system brought some flurries to the Metroplex on Tuesday. In TN, it came done pretty hard, as we sat in the terminal, marvelling at the beauty of it all. And there was a good sprinkling of snow on the runway as we left - enough to freak my mom out.

It was a good trip but it's been crazy since we got back. And now I must prepare for the next trip. Christmas at Lake Tahoe with the family!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Hermitage

Another day in Nashville.... On Tuesday, I headed just a little to the east to go to Andrew Jackson's home, The Hermitage. The day proved to be cool and very windy, but that didn't stop me from making the trek up to the house. I was a bit rushed so I did not get to tour the inside, but at least I saw some of it!


Andrew Jackson was not necessarily a beloved president - seeing as how he deprived the Native Americans of their land and killed a great many of them. Maybe a more appropriate term for him would be hero for he did expel the pesky British at the Battle of New Orleans.


I raced away from The Hermitage to meet a friend in Cookeville. I can't say that the town was spectacular, but the drive was beautiful. I love the hills here and portions of east Nashville remind of Michigan. How I miss it!

Mom and I did more shopping and I got some editing done. It was a very fun, full day!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Super Tired in Nashville

I'm finally in Nashville, but let me tell you - yesterday was the most exhausting day EVER. Honestly, I cannot remember being so tired! Here's a rundown of what happened, based on the template used by The Secret Knitter.

3:15 am: Wake up, look at the clock and groan. Why, oh why, must I have an internal alarm clock that always jumps the gun!?!

3:57 am: Turn off alarm and get up.

4:01 am: Turn on the coffee pot and ready my cream and sugar.

4:03 am: Coffee pot lights up and I start smelling smoke. Turn off coffee pot and call my mom across the way, saying, "my coffee maker just died."

4:15 am: Finish coffee from the house, proceed in getting ready.

4:47 am: Put luggage in the car and hear coyotes. Eek! Walk faster!

4:55 am: Realize I forgot iPod, run to the house, frantically looking for coyotes as I run.

4:59 am: Pull out of gate, we're on our way!

6:33 am: Hit rush hour traffic in the middle of Dallas. Sigh.

6:59 am: Walk up to an abandoned security checkpoint at the airport. I love small airports and I love Southwest Airlines!

7:55 am: Take off on time!

9:31 am: Land in Birmingham. Watch people get off, get on. Soon, we're in the air again.

10:31 am: Land in Nashville. Yay! Proceed to the baggage claim - ultra long walk - and our luggage is there after three minutes. Yay Southwest!

10:59 am: Finish signing rental car agreement, proceed to car waiting area.

11:25 am: Finally IN the car after we were told we would have four different cars at various points, we end up with a Pontiac. Stupid Hertz!

11:44 am: Find food. And coffee. Coffee provides - finally - a bit of energy.

12:22 pm: The nice people let us check in at the hotel and get our room. We run up and back down.

12:37 pm: I drop mom off at the convention center, go back to the hotel.

12:45 - 1:55 pm: I try to take a nap, interrupted at various points by the cleaning staff and one lady who tried to come into the room. Finally give up.

2:24 pm: Search the internet for somewhere to eat dinner. Where are all the restaurants?!

3:00 - 3:30 pm: Knit to CNN Headline News.

3:45 pm: Went in search of snacks

4:26 pm: Picked mom up and went to a huge Outlet Center where there is food! Shopping and eating ensues.

7:28 pm: Return to the hotel, plan for the next day.

9:00 pm: Lights out - SO tired!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not One, But Two Fairy Gardens!

On Saturday, I took a nice break from writing to do some gardening. Yes, I gardened. More specifically, my mom and I made our two fairy gardens.


I saw the above fountain and immediately thought of making a Tuscan garden. We bought small pieces of marble and the center tile at Lowe's to make a patio, of sorts. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any furniture that matched the fountain, but we'll keep looking.


We found some of the coolest colored plants. I can't remember what they are, but there were reds and greens galore in this fairy garden. I reluctantly put in some Spanish Lavender (as opposed to Provencial Lavender - center right) because it was cheap. And it's not quite symmetrical - something that was difficult for me to consent to, but the two side plants are different - making it unsymmetrical.


Mom wanted to do a Victorian garden of sorts, so we found a cute bench and some fencing, which is hard to see in this pic. We transplanted some moss to make it look like grass. The tree which the bench sits under is actually a tiny Elm tree. How cool is that?! It'll change colors and lose its leaves soon. And yes, we finally bought a fairy. Mom chose some dwarf monkey grass (bottom right) and some creeping thyme (top center) for her garden. (I can't remember the rest, but at least I got those two right!)

Yes, we are a bit obsessed with these. I like them because they're manageable, unlike the thought of a real, huge garden. Now, we'll hope Sookie doesn't decide to play in them!

Monday, December 1, 2008

NaNoWriMo - Mission Accomplished!

Wow. I still can't believe it. Yesterday, around 4:15, I wrote my 50048th word on my NaNoWriMo novella. Together, with Part 1 of my book, I have 92,000 words. How amazing is that? And still, the story is not done yet. I never did the math, but had I written a specific number of words a day, it would have been around 1800 words to get to 50000? Is that right? To put that in perspective... Graham Greene wrote 500 words a day; a professor friend of mine writes 150 words a day. Near the end, I was shelling out at least 2000 words a day. Now, I know my book is not a work of art, like Graham Greene's novel, nor is it a piece of serious scholarship, but never did I imagine myself capable of such a feat. Really.

Through this crazy journey, I discovered some interesting things about my writing habits. For instance, since I generally work from home, it's virtually impossible for me to write - recreationally - during the day. The day is for working, my brain says. Hence why 1800 words yesterday took me over two hours. The first 1500 words were like pulling teeth because it was mid-afternoon: work time!

Hot tea is awesome, especially when it's cold out. This kept me hydrated for the majority of the month. Food, however, is greatly distracting during the writing process!

Outlines are great but even I, someone who seeks organization, even in a fairy garden, cannot stick to such rigidity. Why? The characters are unique and I have no idea what they want to do when I try to make an outline. Sure, I know where I want to end up, but the journey is unpredictable. When those characters take over, it's amazing how easily the words flow. And my main character surprised me. I thought she would be in bad shape at the end of this novella, but she is much stronger than I had anticipated. Who knew?

So, I call it a success, though now my attention must be turned to tedious editing. I've never had a goal for my writing so to accomplish something like this...it feels amazing. Last night, I felt like I could do anything. I even did my hardest workout video. Yay!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

So Close I Can Taste It!

I'm making an exception and posting on a Saturday, if you can believe it. What prompts such a post? Why, NaNoWriMo, of course!

It's been alarming to see the updates coming across from Twitter: people have been winning, effectively writing 50,000 words, for several days now. It has seriously prompted the competitive streak that usually lies dormant within me.

I wrote 3900 words yesterday, a record by far (it's been about 2000 a day). It started out slow and tedious, as I had to figure out some unknown geography in Italy. Somehow, though, it picked up and I was on a roll. Romance is in full bloom near the end of Part II of Doniamarie's Unnamed Novel. Romance is actually not easy to write - for me - but it's easier than some things, like madmen. So, my word count has exploded, past 45,000 and now I actually think I have a chance of finishing.

I'm cautiously ecstatic. Today, reality will intrude with obligations, but I'm sure there will NaNoWriMo-time. It's within reach now! Hehehe.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Graham Greene

A few days ago, I finished The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene. It's a short book (then again, anything's short after Rand) but it packs a heck of a punch. (I have not seen the movei, made in 1999 (I think), so I can't comment on that.)

Graham Greene (1904-1991) was a Catholic novelist, whose life spanned the entirety of the twentieth century. The End of the Affair is one of his four "Catholic" novels, focused primarily on faith. The main character is Maurice Bendrix, a writer, who befriends a woman while investigating his next novel. Despite her marriage, they begin a lengthy affair. The reader only hears of the affair through flashbacks. Bendrix, for almost the entirety of the novel, is angry at Sarah for leaving him and he looks back on their affair to try to find an answer to why she ended the it so abruptly.

Bendrix is consumed by hatred for Sarah and jealousy of her husband. He hires a private investigator and soon learns that he was not the only man she cheated on her husband with - there have been others. His hatred grows and there is little talk of faith, for this man has none.

It is not until the PI absconds with Sarah's journal that Bendrix finally understands. For me, this journal was the selling point of the novel, for this is a woman in agonizing pain, trying to speak to God...

"What do you love most? If I believed in you, I suppose I'd believe in the immortal soul, but is that what you love? Can you really see it there under the skin? Even a God can't love something that doesn't exist, he can't love something he cannot see. When he looks at me, does he something I can't see? It must be lovely if he is able to love it. That's asking me to believe too much, that there's anything lovely in me. I want men to admire me, but that's a trick you learn in school--a movement of the eyes, a tone of voice, a touch of the hand on the shoulder or the head. If they think you admire them, they will admire you because of your good taste, and when they admire you, you have an illusion for a moment that there's something to admire. All my life I've tried to live in that illusion--a soothing drug that allows me to forget that I'm a bitch and a fake. But what are you supposed to love then in the bitch and the fake?" (p. 80-81, Penguin Books, 2004).

This story is so amazingly raw and the pain is so very real for both of these characters. Eventually, Bendrix learns the truth about Sarah and his hate eases towards her. But he cannot bring himself to truly believe in a God.

If the Catholic-ness of the book turns you off, don't depair. There is very little Catholic about this; it is more about faith in general. I've never read anything so powerful but yet simple and unpretentious. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Finally, A FO!

How long has it been since I had a finished project? So long, that I don't even know! Yesterday, I finally finished the Diagonal Blanket!!


Here are the details:

Yarn: Lion Brand Homespun (4 1/2 skeins)
Color: Gothic
Needles: US 11
Finished size: 44 x 44


I'm super happy with it - just because I finished it - and I hope it's intended person likes it. It'll be a great lap blanket! And it only took me eleven months to knit - though I did go on serious hiatus for about four of those!

My dad informed me that the scarf I made for him - two years ago! - is too thin. It's a foot wide! I give up. He's never worn it, though he swears he's going to this winter (I've heard that before!). He even picked out the yarn for it! So, like I said: no more presents unless specifically requested.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Longview LYS

On Saturday, we had a reason to go three-fourths of the way to Longview, Texas. In doing so, we came temptingly close to the Longview yarn shop: Stitches n' Stuff. Of course, we had to make the detour as we hardly ever get up that way - it's an hour away from us.

I'd been to this LYS once before and thankfully I remembered what it looked like; it's very difficult to spot. There cannot be a worse location for a yarn shop, but the lady said they were in downtown Longview for 19 years (!!!) and had just been out in the middle of nowhere for 5 years. Honestly, they are so far north of the interstate highway that it makes it difficult to stop if you're just passing through East Texas. But, I didn't mind the extra drive.

This LYS is owned and operated by two older sisters who've obviously been knitting for fifty years or more. They were super sweet to us. As for the store, they carry mainly low to mid-range yarns and I couldn't, for the life of me, find exactly what I was looking for. This is forever my problem! But it was fun to look, as always. Their store had more miscellaneous things than I would like to see in a yarn store - figurines, trinkets etc. But what they do have are tons of knitted-up projects with the patterns easily accessible and cheap! I love seeing something knitted up and the pattern right there, for the bargain price of $2.

My mother, upon seeing these samples, wants me to make a sweater vest. I tried telling her that I do not do sweater vests - in any capacity. But, I had to admit, the floor sample was gorgeous.

It was such a treat to go to a LYS, even if there was a drive involved.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sookie's Play Day


These pictures of Sookie were taken over the weekend when the little girl finally perked up after her surgery. She really is adorable and, as you can tell, she loves laps. She's still too small so we're feeding her like crazy - and she's eating like crazy!


Yesterday, my dad was recuperating from his own surgery so I took the afternoon off to help him out. We sat on the back porch for about three hours, I think. We let Sookie out and, as I wrote on my novel, we watched her play.


Let's see, she found and ate a worm (ew!), chased butterflies, climbed a small tree, ran like crazy from the barking (fenced in) dogs, sharpened her claws on mom's crepe myrtles, and rolled around, back and forth, on the concrete. I've never seen anything cuter than her, stalking some insect. She's so small and nonthreatening to us! It's so refreshing to watch something so innocent.

I watched her listen to all the sounds of the country and found myself hearing things I usually don't - a frog, a new bird... It must be overwhelming to the senses for one so small - no wonder she likes being inside, away from it all.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

1000 Pages, Conquered!

Atlas Shrugged is finished; I'm through with it. Outside of the pleasure of knowing I can conquer a 1000 page book, there is also a sense of nostalgia for Rand and her brand of thinking.

The other night, I went to Schlotzky's to get a sandwich. Debating whether to take AS in, I decided to get a few pages read, and I hate sitting there, with nothing to do but stare into space. I was alone, of course, and had to wait for a soccer mom with two screaming children to order before me. She took forever! After ordering, I went to get my drink and the soccer mom approached to do the same.

The soccer mom apparently saw my book and exclaimed, "You are holding my favorite book of all time! It changed the way I think about everything!"

I smiled, said something like "Yeah, it's interesting" and went to sit down.

So let me say this: I understand Rand's point of view. I know why she thought the way she did. She came out of communist Russia, born in 1905. She starved, saw the work camps, and the darkest face of communism to ever plague the planet. It's no wonder she embraced capitalism and thought it was the greatest thing ever.

I guess my problem with Rand is not with Rand herself but with the unnerving fact that people either love the book or hate. They either use it to qualify the Republican stance on little government and no regulation or they shake their head, roll their eyes, and blow Rand off as nothing more than a crazy egoist.

Is there no middle ground?! Am I the only one who can read it, not for the selfish egoism part of it all, but for the story? Surely not. I know there are others out there. Maybe it's because I'm not an extremist, I never have been. And I'd much rather understand the Republicans - a party I thought I was supposed to follow because my parent's did - than not know what they stand for. And they do not, I repeat, do not, follow Rand's philosophy.

What does Rand believe? Any involvement of the state in society is fatally flawed. Society cannot advance unless the "men of the mind" have free reign to invent, produce, and lead. Without these men, society stagnates. Society is better when these men are rewarded for their accomplishments, not impeded by regulation and taxes.

This novel is set entirely against God as well. Rand specifically goes after Augustine, the architect of much of Christian dogma.

I am glad I read AS. Rand is a phenomenal writer. Do I subscribe to her ideas? Not entirely, no. I think full blown capitalism won't work just as a full-blown democracy won't work. Alan Greenspan subscribed to Rand's ideas, his wife was a member of Rand's inner circle back in the day. Greenspan deregulated, deregulated, deregulated, and now the entire world is paying the price. Regulation is good in, like many things, moderation.

My next book, to counteract Rand's anti-religion stance, is Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. One of our profs has been pressuring me to read it for about a year. Right now, it's slimness looks awfully appealing!

Tomorrow...pics of Sookie.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Fairy Garden Class


When my mom and I venture to our favorite nursery, Blue Moon, we've always been intrigued by their Fairy Gardens. In case you haven't heard of them (I never had before this!), they are miniature gardens planted in all kinds of small to large containers and are accented with small furniture where the fairies hang out when no one is watching. See below...


The Blue Moon property is filled with these cute, adorable gardens which use small plants to look like trees and bushes. We found out later that the ladies at Blue Moon have won two State Fair competitions for their gardens (though, it may have more than two, I can't recall). Their gardens are a work of art!


My mom and I found out they were teaching a class on Saturday and we enrolled a month ago; we've been excited about it ever since, anxiously awaiting our class. We started out with this...


Though the class was a bit expensive, you're given the above container, good potting soil, small rocks, one big tree-like plant, and two smaller plants. You have to buy the furniture. Here's how ours turned out....


I think it's pretty good for two novices. Notice that the walkway is purposeful: there's an entrance and exit. Some of the ladies had random piles of rock that had no entry or exit. How do the fairies get around, then? Anyways, I couldn't resist the St. Francis, though I'm not sure he and fairies would get along. The furniture is not easy to see as it's iron but there's a gate, a bird bath, and a chair where our fairy can sit and rest her wings.

We've already picked out two other pots around the house in which to do our next fairy gardens. So cute!

The ladies at Blue Moon left us with a marvelous quote from Hans Christian Andersen, spoken by a fairy:
“Just living is not enough... One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rand and Love

Like everything else in my life, my reading has been slow of late. I'm only on page 476 of Atlas Shrugged - out of 1000 pages.

Last week, I read an interesting bit in this grandiose novel on the subject of love and relationship choices. Here it is... (Spoken by Frisco to Rearden, pg. 453-4.)

"...The men who think that wealth comes from material resources and has no intellectual root or meaning, are the men who think - for the same reason - that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of one's desire and makes a choice for you just about in some such way as if iron ore transformed itself into railroad rails of its own volition. Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. No matter what corruption he's taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment - just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity! - an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces him to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and to accept his real ego as his standard of value. He will always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself, the woman who surrenders permits him to experience - or to fake - a sense of self-esteem. The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer - an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut. He does not seek to..."
"...gain his value, he seeks to express it. There is no conflict between the standards of his mind and the desires of his body. But the man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to a woman he despises - because she will reflect his own secret self, she will release him from that objective reality in which he is a fraud, she will give him a momentary illusion of his own value and a momentary escape from the moral code that damns him. Observe the ugly mess which most men make of their sex lives - and observe the mess of contradictions which they hold as their moral philosophy. One proceeds from the other. Love is our response to our highest values - and can be nothing else. Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence, let him profess that love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of pride, but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is born, not of admiration, but of charity, not in response to values, but in response to flaws - and he will have cut himself in two. His body will not obey him, it will not respond, it will make him impotent toward the woman he professes to love and draw him to the lowest type of whore he can find. His body wll always follow the ultimate logic of his deepest convictions; if he believes that flaws are values, he has damned existence as evil and only the evil will attract him. He has damned himself and he will feel that depravity is all he is worhty of enjoying. He has equated virtue with pain and he will feel that vice is the only realm of pleasure. Then he will scream that his body has vicious desires of its own which his mind cannot conquer, that sex is sin, that true love is a pure emotion of the spirit. And then he will wonder why love brings him nothing but boredom, and sex - nothing but shame."

Rand goes on, and on, linking this to what she links everything to: money. But I find the basic concept interesting. What do you think?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Birdhouses

We saw the coolest birdhouses at the Edom Arts Festival last weekend. I've never seen anything like them! They're made here in Edom by a guy who has his own shop dedicated specifically to birdhouses.


The base of the house is made from a cedar tree trunk. How cool is that? The birdies feel right at home.


Mom and I are going to learn how to make fairie gardens next month - I'll explain more then - and we were thinking one of these birdhouses, which can hang or sit on a pillar, would be totally cute with a few fairie gardens. Well, these birdhouses cost between $250 and $300! Maybe when we win the lottery....


On a political note, the New York Times editorial board has endorsed Obama. I guess we should have seen this coming, as they are part of "fake" America, which bin Laden mistook for "real" America. It's so good of the Repulicans to insinuate that those who died on 9/11 were un-American and un-patriotic. Good, God, what are they doing? And while we're at it, if you're Muslim, you're a terrorist. Got it. Thank you, Palin, for dividing this country so thoroughly. Are we going to go back to lynching as well? Maybe lynch us some Muslims? I repeat, Good God.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Bit of Knitting

The other night, I finally picked up the knitting again. After royally screwing up the first time - and correcting the mess-up marvelously - I turned the heel on the second sock! Yay! However, my momentery aura of happiness evaporated when I remembered it was time to pick up stitches. I hate picking up stitches! So, I'll have to leave that for another night.

I also finished the body of my Market Bag, finally! Now I have to do the handles which I'm dreading.... All this after not knitting for practically a month!

Also, over the weekend I unpacked my craft desk which means I can finally turn out some much-needed cards!

And... I finally have internet in my house! Yay! The wireless signal from my parent's router reaches as far as my bedroom (we moved the router closes to the outside wall). However, once I move to my desk, the signal is nonexistent. So, I must buy a booster thingy this weekend. Yes, I'm a techno-whiz. Can't you tell by my profound use of "thingy?"

Ha!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Herb Garden

Ever since I knew that I was moving home, I've been hoping to plant some herbs. The conundrum of inding a location for an actual herb garden ended when we decided to plant them in the fall. They will reside in our enclosed porch ("screened-in" porch sounds too hick and rickety for the room my parents just finished).

There's a fabulous gardening store only two miles from us. People come from around the entire area just to walk around their serene gardens. They are a bit more expensive but for smaller plants, we like to go there. You can't, after all, give Wal-Mart that kind of business!


I purchased (from top right): sweet basil, catnip (for Sybella), (chocolate) mint, thyme, lavender, oregano, cilantro/coriander.


Finding pots to fit on my mom's plant stand was another matter entirely and one that was, unfortunately, resolved at Wal-Mart, after three other stops. So, there was not much selection for the square pots; they're not my favorite.


Mom decided to buy a big rosemary plant, which is beautiful! She got this ugly pot for free and then realized there are no holes in the bottom. So, we'll have to get a better pot.

That's what went on this weekend. I finished unpacking my craft table (woohoo!) and even got to see my niece and nephew for a while. Not bad for two days!

Monday, September 8, 2008

True Blood

I guess I've been writing about politics because there's not much more to write about. Things have been quiet here since the move. Being out in the middle of nowhere is, indeed, quiet. However, I generally like the quiet.

I've never worked from home and I'm amazed at how much I get done. I should have brought more work with me! Without the distractions of people, it's easy to just sit and work and get tons done! It's amazing! The only downside is that I've come to associate my desk - and laptop - with work. I don't want to sit there and write because it feels too much like working. Hopefully I can overcome this association soon. I need to write.

TRUE BLOOD premiered last night on HBO. For months I had been looking forward to this show, based on the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Novels by Charlaine Harris. I watched fifteen minutes of it and had to turn it off. I've never been so disgusted. It was all sex. And when they weren't having sex, they were talking about it. It was gross. There was no sex in the novel like that! I thought ROME dispelled all my prudishness when it came to this stuff, but no. They took cute, funny, sassy novels and turned them into something demeaning and insulting. Why do they think the only thing we want to see is sex?

It's hard for me to watch a movie after I've read a book. I was excited about THE GOLDEN COMPASS movie and it lacked something the book was infused with. At least they stuck to the book. Alan Ball (creator of TRUE BLOOD) has done something dispicable. I'm even angry at Charlaine Harris for selling out to someone with such a disgusting vision. I know she has had virtually nothing to do with the show, but still.... Her fans should be in an uproar.

I'm signing off.
Disillusioned in Texas.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Diet Links

So I missed my Tuesday diet blog, so you're getting it on Friday!

Here are some good links and some great recipes....

1. Aimee's Adventures is a site dedicated to dieting on Weight Watchers. It includes tips, progress reports, favorite foods, and recipes. I haven't tried many recipes as I've been trying to cook as little as possible (I'm hoping to change this soon), but Aimee invented one of my favorite things of all-time: Breakfast Crunch Cookies. Aimee sent the recipe to Kashi and they loved it; it's now on their site as well.

The first time you make the cookies, it will seem overwhelming. I don't have a food processor; I always use my mixer instead. I don't try to flatten the cookies either. Suffice it to say that ever since I made my first batch - over a year ago - I've made these every two weeks so that I can have one every morning with my coffee. Some things don't work well with coffee but these do! Yummy! (I also make and love Aimee's Meatless Taco Soup, though I can't find it at the moment!)

2. Dottie's site is fun to look around. I like that you can look up food by points!

3. This Dining Out Guide has tons of restaurants listed so you can see how many points you're eating when you go out. This is great if you don't have the Weight Watcher's Guide to Dining Out.

4. It made my week yesterday when I stumbled upon the recipe for Olive Garden's discontinued Chicken Giardino! I was heartbroken when they took this off the menu. Imagine my delight when I saw they'd added it to their recipes on-line! I don't know how many points it would be but the worst thing I see is Olive Oil. I love this dish because of the veggies and light sauce. My dad tried it once - he's pickier than me - and even he liked it! I hope to make it in a few weeks!

Well, those are just a few things that come to mind. If you haven't poked around the Weight Watchers site, I suggest you do that. Also, the message boards are great. I try to look at their Recipe Review board now and then.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Market Bag, Vol. 4

Significant progress is being made on the Market Bag after the Saturday class. The bottom looks a lot better than I thought it would...


The mesh part is easy, but I know I've made some mistakes. The k2tog, yo sequence can be a bit of a pain when starting a new round.


The class was fun and Linda showed us - and made us practice - a three needle bind-off. It was so easy! And it looks so cool! I'll definitely be substituting that for any "grafting" I see in the future. Grafting just sounds like a four-letter word!

I didn't get as much done on the bag as I would have liked, but I'm not complaining. After the class on Saturday, I got to meet up with my best friend, SK, and we actually went swimming. I haven't swam all summer! Then we had an awesome dinner. So that was fun. I was so tired when I finally got home, but I managed one box before turning in.

And yesterday was spent packing. By mid-afternoon, my back hurt from bending over boxes! The good news is that I have 97% of my books in boxes and all of them are on LibraryThing. The only ones that are un-boxed are pesky cookbooks and knitting books. I guess the knitting books can go in a box with yarn, eh? I pulled out my stash and realized that only half of it is up on the Ravelry. Eek! Given the move, I don't know when I'll have time to take photos, but whatever.

The move is really beginning to stress me out and I'm worried about Sybella. A cat-lover, rescue lady I met not long ago said that moving is the most stressful thing you can put a cat through. Sybella looked a little disconcerted at the growing number of boxes yesterday, but I don't know what to do. I can't - and I wouldn't want to - board her for two weeks! I guess we'll both be stressed out together!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Market Bag, Vol. 3

Just a quick Saturday post - unusual, I know - to let you know that I've figured out the Market Bag!

Remember that yarn over that I tried taking out? Well, that did it. In fact, that yarn over is nowhere on the pattern. Linda told me to yarn over after every row. I read the pattern, like a good little knitter, and did not see a yarn over after the even rows. She insisted that I do it.

Yesterday, I called her and she asked if I was only doing the yarn over after the odd rows. I wanted to scream. This, after she insisted I do it after every row. I know people make mistakes but it was really frustrating!

When I tried to take the yarn over out earlier, my knitting was probably so screwed up that it couldn't help. Well, last night, as I watched the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics, I started over - again. And the third time's the charm! It worked! There's actually a pattern happening - like there's supposed to be! All is right and I'm delighted.

Sybella and I are settling into my parent's empty house. They are off frolicking on an island (ew) for their thirtieth wedding anniversary. So, it's me, Sybella, and a really big, empty house. More on that Monday.

Have a good weekend!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Market Bag, Vol. 2

I worked on the Market Bag again last night. After doing a couple rows, things just got more off with the stitch count. So I decided to frog it and start over. This was a big decision considering I couldn't start it before, Linda had to do the honors.

But guess what? I did it! I was able to do the crochet cast-on, after a few tries, and I got it started perfectly on the double-points. Yay!

That's where the goodness stops. After a few perfect rows, the stitch count was off - there was one too many for two rows! So, I decided to take one of the yarn overs out. I thought that was working until a few rows later when I was short a stitch!

Really, I'm at my wits end! I took out a few rows this morning and have started them over. So far so good. But I don't know if I should keep the yarn over or not. Arrrg! This is SO frustrating.

However, it's Friday and next week I'm off the WHOLE week! Yay! Vacation!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Market Bag, Vol. 1

Yesterday I was super excited about going to my Market Bag class. This is what the bag looks like:


The pattern for the bag is here.

Well, it all went downhill after the crochet cast on. I have no dexterity with a crochet hook. I've managed to repair a few knitting projects with them - my socks included - but it's never easy. And it's very frustrating to know what to do but to not be able to maneuver the needle in order to do it! Linda had to do it for me.

And then there was the whole, let's put eight stitches on three double-pointed needles and go from there. There's nothing I hate more than having just a few stitches on double-points. It's confusing and hard and just plain scary. Finally, I was able to work with some ease but that didn't last long. Just when I thought I knew what I was doing (on the double points), a problem arose. I kept coming up with the wrong number of stitches. I undid a row and re-knit it; the same thing happened. Linda worked and re-worked three rows for an HOUR and still we had the same problem. It got to the point where it wasn't my knitting - at least I don't think. Two and two were not making four, they were making five - for me and Linda!

Sigh. Finally, she made it work, by making an extra stitch. Hopefully, all will be well when I go to knit on it. I haven't tried anything since I left the shop last night at 7:20. They close at seven. I was there for two and a half hours! Linda was super nice but I knew she was frustrated - not necessarily with me, but with the knitting for sure.

I was exhausted by the time I walked in the door, and was greeted by Sybella, at 7:40. She was hungry and in need of attention - after all, I'd been gone for over twelve hours. There was no packing or knitting last night. I made myself write a page in the book, because I had an idea that I wanted on paper. Of course, I didn't get as far as my idea, but it'll hold until tonight.

The good thing: socks look incredibly easy after last night's debacle.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bobbie Faye

Last night, I finished Bobbie Faye's Very (Very, Very, Very) Bad Day by Toni McGee Causey. It was loaned to me by SK and I recommend it to you. It was an uproariously funny read!

It took me about fifty pages to get into but once hooked, I couldn't put this book down. The opening is less than glamorous and the main character, Bobbie Faye, lives in a trailer park. Her day of relaxation quickly turns to one of disaster, chaos, and crime. She battles snakes, alligators, bears, teenagers, and gunrunners all in an effort to save those she loves.

Along the way, she must evaluate who to trust, as the plot turns are quick, surprising, and not without humor. It will have you guessing until the end. There is also the predictable romance as Bobbie Faye must battle and outmaneuver not one, but two of her exes. Throw in a new handsome guy she just happens to kidnap at gunpoint, and you have a formula that, though a bit conventional, manages to be fresh and exciting all because of Cauley's snappy writing.

This is a non-stop thrill ride - and it all takes place in about a 12 hour period. Voodoo, bayous, and Cajuns are all accounted for and you don't need to be from Louisiana to get the humor. Bobbie Faye is the most unlikely hero you'll ever meet but you'll root for her every step of the way.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sock Happiness!

Last night, I finally got some pictures taken in order to update my Ravelry profile. Yes, it's now up to date, even my stash! I was at a loss - and had little patience - when it came to my socks so this is not the best pic....


But it'll have to do. I have horrible lighting and so I always get frustrated with these pictures. But you get the point. The colors knit up so beautifully - I love it! This yarn is J. Knits and the colorway is called Mesa. Yum!

I must say that this sock venture has really opened my eyes. About a year ago, I tried to start a project but gave it up when I got frustrated trying to pick up stitches. Well, for this sock, I picked up stitches and it was a breeze! I was dancing in my chair during the class (on Wednesday), I was so excited! Half of the ease had to do with the technique used to make the stitches easier to spot and, therefore, pick-up.

Do you know what I'm itching to try now? A log cabin blanket! But I have so many projects in the works as it is.... Sigh. It'll just have to wait. I need to finish these socks before I forget everything Linda said! I have a short-term memory, you know.

Ok, it's Friday. I'm happy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jesus in Houston!

Did you know that the second coming of Jesus Christ is happening in Houston??!!

Well, it is! This new - and improved? - Jesus has '666' tatoos and claims there is no hell. It must be real, I saw him on the news last night! Here an old CNN link: http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/02/16/miami.preacher/

Apparently, Miami loved him so much that he decided to move to Houston recently. Thank you, Floridians, for sending us such a welcome gift! Now, salvation is just a short trip down south!

Ok, now that I'm all out of sarcasm.... I really don't have that much to say, surprisingly. However, I doubt the Messiah would wear the sign of the beast - 666. The Bible can be a little fuzzy, but it's pretty clear on that. I think it's safe to label this guy as an Antichrist. After all, John says there will be many of these....

Just thought you'd like to know. (I think this guy has been around for a while - this all sounds strangely familiar but it was a shock to see it on my local news last night. Must have been a light news day.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Anita Quotes

Out of boredom the other day, I started compiling Anita Blake (Laurell K. Hamilton) quotes that make me laugh. Here's a sampling. I hope they have the same effect on you. Just imagine being in the head of a grown-up Buffy the Vampire Slayer who's become a bit cynical and sarcastic. Ha!

I've taken a break from the books as my life seems to stop when I'm reading them. I've read the first seven books and though I really liked the last one, Burnt Offerings, I can already see how it's going to go downhill. I'll probably pick them up again sometime when I have the time... Now on to the quotes.

WARNING: Some of these are rated R for mature.


We tough-as-nails vampire slayers don't cry. At least, never in public. At least, never when we can help it.

Pimps beware. I was bringing the Master as backup. It was like carrying a thermonuclear device to kill ants. Over kill has always been a specialty of mine.

Raise the dead, kill a few vampires, and people start considering you one of the monsters. Sometimes it hurts.

The vampires called me the Executioner, but they called Edward Death. After all, I'd never used a flamethrower on them.

Richard was still by the door, looking unclothed, and inviting. Jean-Claude stood by the couch utterly still, like a three-dimensional picture of a wet dream. The sexual potential in the room was astronomical. The fact that nothing was going to happen was almost sad.

You don't volunteer for slugfests with vampires. It shortens your life expectancy.

"You irritating son of a bitch."
"Ah,
ma petite, how can I resist you when you whisper such sweet endearments to me?"
~Anita & Jean-Claude

Asking Jean-Claude not to be a pain in the ass is like asking rain not to be wet. Why try?

I never forgave anyone for anything. A character flaw to be sure, but hell, everyone's got to have at least one.

I'd never met coffee that wasn't wonderful. It was just a matter of how wonderful it was.

My life was a cross between a preternatural soap opera and an action movie. Sort of
As the Casket Turns meets Rambo.

Raina - "But you could kill us, all of us, even Stephen's brother, and feel nothing?"
Anita - "I'd feel something."
Raina - "What?"
Anita - "Safer."

There are only two things you can do when you're dressed like Barbie Does Bondage; you can be embarrassed or you can be aggressive.

A lot of people don't get my jokes. If I was less secure, I'd think my jokes weren't funny. Naw.

I wasn't sure if he was trying not to laugh, or not to frown. Maybe both. I affected some people that way.

As long as he didn't flash that smile at the wrong time and get us molested by nuns, we would be safe.

I know who and what I am. I am The Executioner, and I don't date vampires. I kill them.

I decided to ignore it. If the poodle got loose I figured I could take it. I was armed.

Never trust people who smile constantly. They're either selling something or not very bright.

The smile came, a soft curl of lips. The serpent must have smiled at Eve like that. I have this nice, shiny apple for you. Want some candy little girl?

He could have the bed. I'd take the couch. What could be more innocent? Biker Nuns from Hell, but besides that.

The laugh was like candy; sweet and infectious. If you could bottle Jean-Claude's laugh, I know it would be fattening. Or orgasmic.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Knitting with Sybella

I went to my LYS yesterday to sign up for a Beginning Lace class where I will, once again, make a triangular shawl. What I'm excited about, however, is that I'll finally learn how to read those lace charts that I always skip over. Yes!

So I signed up and browsed the store for a good thirty minutes, trying to find the required DK or fingering weight yarn. I wish we could use lace weight but the teacher wants us to start with something that will knit up quicker - and I have no objection to that. So I browsed....and browsed. I can never find anything in this store and now I know why. I don't go into a yarn store thinking, I need red yarn. I go in, wanting to find something that feels wonderful. Therefore, you can see my problem when I enter a store that is organized almost entirely by color. I can't find anything! Plus, since the shawl requires 700-1000 yards, nothing I found was cheap. Arrrg!

I got a little knitting done on Tuesday night. I worked on the Ripple Blanket until Sybella drove me crazy with her whining. Seriously, that cat wants to play 24/7! It's non-stop! Yesterday, as I sat working on the computer, she started whining in the living room. I came out and she was in the process of dragging her favorite toy into the study! And then, as I was trying to sleep last night, she did it again! I called her and she came into the bedroom, jumped up on the bed, and began her nightly self-cleaning ritual. Thankfully, I was able to sleep after all that.

Maybe, even though she's fixed, she still has hormones each month and these cause her to get antsy. That's my only guess. I never had this type of problem with Louis.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dishcloths and Pics

I took some pics the last time I was at my parent's place and thought I'd share them. The wildflowers were out and everything was green and beautiful!


The field was covered in orange, white, and purple flowers.


Mom's roses are going to town!


Are these irises? Maybe? I don't know but they were pretty in mom's flower bed.

In other news, I'm finishing up my last dishcloth for my mom - it'll be a late Mother's Day gift. I had one to give her on the big day but couldn't quite get this one finished. Maybe after these quick ones, I can try a more complex dishcloth. Fun!