Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I am now in a little less remedial group with the Mystery Stole project. I am working on the last clue released--Clue 4--but I still have over 80 rows to go and the next clue will be released on Friday morning. Twenty minutes later, someone will post that they are finished with Clue 5--presumably just to mess with the "speedsters," who may have found a way to knit in their sleep and who really will finish with the clue on the same day.

This is my Mystery Stole so far:

I am using a "cobweb" yarn, which in nonknitting lingo means, "this knitter has obviously taken leave of her senses." Picture the Kate Moss of yarn and you get the idea. Shawls knitted in cobweb yarn are often so delicate that they can pass through a wedding ring. Mine will have to be blocked (picture the knitting equivalent of "the rack") before trying anything like that, but might be a future party trick at Chateau S-G.

The "theme" is still unknown (hence the "mystery stole" name, but speculation has been rampant. I'm not sure what everyone else's stole looks like, but looking at mine from the right angle......

I think mine looks like a face.

Now, we were told what size of beads to use, but the color choices were purely our own. I, thinking they would look cool, chose a blackish red. They do look cool, although with a red bead in each eye, I'm afraid my stole is looking a little....well.....demonic, frankly. Not that there aren't people who would appreciate that sort of look, but I just can't think which of my friends would consider glowing red eyes as a fashion option. Of course, this is not the actual theme, so perhaps when I learn the actual theme, I'll see something different. Maybe I can convince one of my friends that it's a friendly red-eyed face.....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Why Having Two Cats is a REALLY Good Idea

10. I'd probably be spoiled with 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
9. It might be lonely to go to the bathroom without at least one cat.
8. How else would I be known as God of the Doors?
7. Because finding a mouse that somebody lost interest in as it scurries out of the laundry room is REALLY invigorating.
6. If all your furniture is covered in cat hair, you have an instant decor scheme.
5. Otherwise, a house without children would be too calm & quiet.
4. I wouldn't realize how positively frightening the lawn mower, vacuum, garbage trucks, and my husband actually are.
3. I might not realize how many of my possessions are simply toys in disguise.
2. I would not know the difference between mice and voles.

1. Nothing says Love like a dead mouse in the bed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Mystery Stole

A couple weeks ago, I came across a "mystery" stole (shawl) project online (MS3). Each week, a new "clue" or piece of the pattern would be emailed out, and at the end of the project you (hopefully) end up with a shawl. I have never before intentionally knitted something without knowing what it would look like at the end, or at least having a vague notion of what it is supposed to look like, but I love new things AND I already had beads and yarn so there would be no cash outlay (always a plus for new projects) so I signed up. 350 emails (or 1 minute) later, I learned that one should always opt out of the "receive all discussion emails" on Yahoo lists, especially when that group has 6700 members in no less than 8 languages.

I downloaded Clue 1, dug out some black laceweight yarn & began. And hit

Problem #1: My smallest crochet hook was too large to be able to thread the beads with.

Next day: Visit to a yarn shop to find the smallest crochet hook they have. Get waylaid by some lovely rosewood needles. Leave $30 behind, but emerge victorious

Arrive home. New crochet hook STILL too large. Decide to not waste anymore gas driving around trying to find minuscule crochet hooks that no one is likely to carry anyway as they are too small to crochet with anything bigger than thread. Go online and order an even tinier crochet hook AND new beads (not taking any chances now), followed by several bead options just in case I didn't like my first choice of beads, and frankly because I was having lots of fun. $35 later, and my beads and hook are on their way.

Three days later: Victorious! The new hook will work, and the reddish black beads will be lovely on the black. Added bonus: they are amazingly aerodynamic. When trying to wrest the plastic lid off the cylinder they came in, I was able to scatter them into every corner of the sewing room. Luckily I only need half the container. Unluckily, that is all I can how locate.

A week later:
Toni: Son of a B@$#)!
Andy (from another room): What happened?
Toni: I just scattered beads all over the living room
Andy: I thought hobbies were supposed to be relaxing
Toni: I am relaxed, damnit! (muttering as she crawls around on the floor) Stupid beads!
Andy (in the interests of marital harmony): (silence)

Today: I am in the "slow" group. I am still working on Clue 1 and Clue 4 will be released on Friday. Several overachievers regularly post pictures of the progress they have made on the 3 mystery shawls they are making simultaneously, and debate whether to regrout their kitchens or retile their bathrooms while they wait for the next clue. I am growing as a person and will not think evil thoughts about them. It isn't difficult knitting, but it is "fussy" knitting. In order to work on it, I must have at least 30-40 minutes to make any real progress, because 15 minutes of every session is devoted to picking up beads from wherever I have currently launched them before I can start knitting. Still, at some future point in time, I will have a shawl beaded with the most aerodynamic beads ever created--and hopefully I'll like it!

The birthday

Having just bought our new house, last year for Andy's birthday we splurged and took a day off from packing to enjoy a concert at the Ste. Chappelle Winery in 100-plus temperatures before returning to boxes. Such amazing adventures can be challenging to top.

Since we hadn't had a weekend to ourselves since our honeymoon in November, I decided that an extended weekend trip was in order, and started looking for potential destinations. Since Andy's birthday is in July, “north” seemed like a good general direction, and I settled on Seattle fairly early. My thoughts of a surprise trip to see Shakespeare in Ashland, Oregon, was quickly thwarted by the options of either A) surprising Andy with a road trip, or B) surprising Andy with bizarre flight times, so Seattle it was, and I went to the tourism website to request brochures. Without thinking, I gave them our home address. While it might be argued that men aren't quite as observant as women, if you have asked the man you love to clear certain dates on his calendar around his birthday and suddenly large packets from Seattle's tourism department start arriving, I think he just might grow suspicious. Frantically I tried to call them to correct my mistake, but like many websites of today, there are no actual human beings associated with them, so I resorted to Plan B--having every city within 500 miles send us tourism brochures. Whether Andy really ever thought I would consider Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Santa Fe as possible destination options in July I don't know, but he does nicely humor me when I think I'm being "sneaky."

In a big dramatic moment, Andy found out where we were headed when I checked our bags in with the Skycap. OK, not very dramatic, but with the tightened security in airports, trying to arrange a surprise or making oneself stand out in any way seems like a good way to end up on a surprise vacation hosted by the TSA and Federal Marshals.....

Since our hotel was in downtown Seattle, we were able to walk down to Pike Street Market Friday afternoon, where Andy got to see the famous chuck-a-fish stand (which is fun on vacation, but I think I’d be seriously annoyed if Fred Meyer started throwing my fish orders at me…), we enjoyed coffee & crumpets, bought several flavored jellies we are hoping will be good with fish and chicken, watched street musicians, and generally reveled in the feeling of being on vacation while everyone else is at work.

Saturday morning we got up early, went to Pike Street Market for breakfast, then walked to Pioneer Square, wishing it had occurred to us to bring jackets and the camera, for the Seattle Underground tour. For anyone unfamiliar with this tongue-in-cheek tour of Seattle's past, after the original town burned to the ground, rather than waiting until the area (rather prone to sinkholes the size of swimming pools) could be stabilized & raised, the merchants decided to rebuild where they were. The city, however, decided to raise its part of the town--namely, the streets. So, for several years the town of Seattle resembled a Belgian Waffle, with the streets being up to 30 feet above the sidewalks. (An aside to those of you living in Boise: it makes the whole Curtis Road fiasco look like a well thought-out plan, doesn't it?)

Sunday evening we went on theSpirit of Washington dinner train—a 3 ½ hour excursion involving a 45-minute stop at the Columbia Winery, which doesn’t actually give you time for the tour, tasting, and subsequent wine purchasing that I think they intended, but I don’t think anyone was left behind. We shared our table with a young couple who were obviously newly dating—she seemed to be embarrassed by everything she said or did, and he was tentatively progressing from holding her hand to an arm around her shoulder. There are perks to getting older.

Monday we started the day with the “Ride the Duck” tour—an amphibious tour of Seattle complete with soundtrack (“Celebration,” lots of Jimmy Buffet, and the themes from “Jaws,” “Gilligan’s Island,” and “Love Boat”), commentary,

and costume changes by Captain Dan. Perhaps the most memorable part was quacking at passers-by with our duck whistles. Oddly, when Andy picked up our tickets, he managed to not get a duck whistle for himself. I suppose when it’s your birthday, you are
allowed to spend the day sans all fowl-themed noisemakers, but I reserve the right to reintroduce the duck whistle at a future time….

The next stop was the Space Needle, including a wonderful lunch in the restaurant that rotates above the city. Children amused themselves (and us) by leaving messages on the window sills & waiting for others to reply.

(If something seems wrong with these pictures, it’s probably the idea of sun in Seattle. The entire weekend was sunny & beautiful—certainly a first for any trips to Seattle I’ve taken. It was almost unnerving to be in Seattle and not experience continual mist. Andy offered to spit on me regularly, but I declined.)

At the base of the Space Needle are 2 museums courtesy of Paul Allen (Microsoft): the Experience Music Project and the Science-Fiction Museum & Hall of Fame. $15 gets you in to both. $15 gets you in to one. Amazingly, we went to both.

Depending on who you ask, the EMP may be a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Depending on how much alcohol you have consumed, the building is supposed to resemble smashed-up guitars. Viewing it from the ground, from the road, from the back, and from the Space Needle, it looks like a big, metallic blob. Inside the blob, you can make your own recording, try different guitars, and buy non-Starbucks coffee.

The Sci-Fi Museum was quite unusual. Since Stephen Spielberg sits on its board, it had actual props from his movies, most notably Star Wars. First edition books, costumes, props—I was impressed even though I’d seen less than a quarter of the movies included. My absolute favorite part, though, was:

Yep, the bathroom sign. It’s the only picture I took in the entire museum.

Not perhaps the most picturesque way to end our adventure, but maybe it’s appropriate for our life together—it includes all possibilities……

Fall! Finally!

Even without extremely hot summers, I've always loved fall.  A little coolness in the air, leaves starting to turn, sweaters coming out-...