December 25, 2005
"Well, the Texas toast was okay, but. . . "
Happy fried chicken, everybody.
December 24, 2005
There are easier ways to get a day off school
Remember when you were a kid and you used to sing at Christmas, "joy to the world/ the school burned down/ and all the teachers died!/ We're looking for the principal/ he's hanging from the flagpole/ with a rope around his neck/ with a rope around his neck/ with a ro-pe, a ro-o-ope around his neeeeeeeck.
You did so!
Two years ago today, my old elementary school burned down. It had been closed for a few years and the building was sitting empty. My brother had picked me up to drive me out to our mom's (she still lives in our hometown) and didn't tell me about it until we got almost to Dashwood Industries on Highway 4 and I said, "what smells like burning?". We got there just in time to see Grades 4 and 5 collapse (Mom and Lynne and Dave had watched the gym fall down earlier in the day before he came to fetch me). After supper we walked back over to see that Grades 7 and 8 had also given in to the flames, and that was pretty much the end of the whole building. Considering how unhappy I had been there, I was surprised at how much I cried.
Here are our gifts, all wrapped and ready to be gifted. Can you tell we hate this holiday?
The stuff inside all has a scaaaaary theme too. Sort of.
I uploaded some more sketchbook pages today, but have already been missing days and slacking off. If I can't make the time to do this every day while I'm on vacation then I don't know how I'll do it when I'm working every day again. Then again, maybe when I'm back in the studio I'll feel more like drawing.
These pages don't handle getting wet as well as I'd hoped; I don't mind the images bleeding through but when I tried to use a Crayola marker overtop of an area still a little damp with watercolour, the surface of the paper started coming off. Ah well; this exercise is about making a mess anyway, so I guess I shouldn't worry too much when it gets messy. I just heard from Melanie that there's a watercolour Moleskine coming out soon, so that might be the way to go. I don't like that the pages are perforated to tear out though; I'm pretty rough on my book and I'd probably be ripping those all the time.
We had a surprise visit from some old chums who showed up in town on Tuesday, so I went to see that Narnia movie with them and then Peter joined us for supper at Marathon (twice in two weeks! that's a major treat for me) after. The movie was better than I thought it would be, and they actually left a lot of the religious propagandizing out, which was nice. I took pictures but then Dru told me that it's illegal to do that, so I'm not putting any up here. You can see them on my Flickr page though. And, Lucy's sweater from the beginning? I'm totally making that. I'll put up the pattern as soon as I've worked it out, but I suspect I won't be the only person working on it, so I may not be the first to the finish line.
For the gee-I-can't-shut-up-about-how-happy-I-am-to-be-in-Canada files: yesterday in the car when the National Research Council official time signal came on, I was so happy to hear it that I cranked the volume way up in order to hear (the beginning of) the long dash (after ten seconds of silence) REALLY LOUD. One o'clock, Eastern Standard Time! I'm such a damned geek.
December 23, 2005
We're sorry. . .
I can't come to the blog right now, I'm far too busy playing Kingdom of Loathing. Hey, quit laughing. It's no more geeky than reading about people's knitting on the internet. But because I know that most of y'all are geeky that way, here's my slow progress on the knitting I brought home with me for the holiday.
I'm still languishing on sleeve island with the Must Have Cardigan, but I only have to repeat that big diamond motif one more time before I hit the home stretch of the shoulder decreases. I'm still not sure how to deal with the closure on this one, but I'm really leaning away from a button band right now; besides my fear of button gap-age, I really don't want to do that much more knitting on the thing. I was thinking of maybe finishing off the opening edge with an attached i-cord instead and throwing in a two-way zipper, but that means I'd have to learn how to do an attached i-cord. Is that easy? Is it excruciatingly slow?
I've been breaking up the monotony of Sleeve Island by working in the odd row on the back of the Urban Aran, which is pretty close to the armhole now. I haven't really been working much on either of them except for when I'm away from the house*, because I've got all these design swatches keeping me busy at home. Plus my sketchbook project, plus my silly online game. Whew! Life's tough when you're on vacation eh?
The good news is that Peter and I are all ready for The Holiday That Shall Not be Named, and we don't have to go back to the Infernal Mall again. Wednesday night's mall madness expedition was frustrating and painful, and we still had to go back again this morning. Ugh. Two more days, and the schmaltz-fest will be over. I can't wait. This picture pretty much sums up how I feel about the Season of Getting (TM):
How I've longed to knock the head off of one of those singing Santas.
There was a little bit of holiday festivity in our visit to the Infernal Mall this morning, in the gee-it's-good-to-be-home sense; here's about as all-Canadian a treat as you can get.
Tim's and a butter tart. Let the overeating begin!
*have you ever tried knitting with long straight needles while perched on the edge of an examining table in one of those blue paper gowns while waiting for your pap smear? Fortunately the doctor didn't walk in and catch me standing with the front of the gown flapping open while fishing in my satchel for another ball of yarn; that would have been just my style. Still, by the time the doctor got there I'd poked a hole or two in my gown with the needles. I'm classy like that.
December 20, 2005
Self portrait tuesday - gaining
Some days it feels like my belly has doubled in size.
December 17, 2005
Studio Saturday: some catching up to do
I bought myself a nice moleskine sketchbook and I've resolved to draw a page a day. I haven't been doing a lot of drawing lately, and it's painful how much that shows. So far I've been doing a lot of doodling and colouring but no real drawing. But because I'm a glutton for punishment I'm putting all of the pages up in a Flickr folder; forcing myself to draw every day again is the only way to regain the skills I've lost, and having a public record of these feeble attempts will serve to remind me why not to slack off again.
December 16, 2005
girl, frog and st. john river
On the morning of my sixth birthday I woke up early, excited for my party. My parents weren't out of bed yet but I wanted to party down NOW! I laid out my plastic tea set and set up Blue Baby and Joey and various other characters at the table, but the scene just didn't seem appropriately festive with nothing to fill the little cups and teapot and plates with. I looked around my room for something to make pretend tea and cake out of and noticed a small hole in the seam of my pillow; a tiny fluff of stuffing peeked out. There was so much stuffing in that pillow that the tiny plastic tea set was soon overflowing, so I put my shoes up on the table and filled those too, then also filled whatever else I could find in the room. Blue Baby and Joey and I sipped and chatted pleasantly, enjoying the finest in pretend birthday cake, until my mom came in and broke up the party with a dismayed shout.
She yelled and made a big fuss and probably called me all kinds of bad, and said that she wasn't going to buy me a new pillow and I was damn well going to have to do without for a while.
Later that afternoon at my real party, my best pals Jeannie and Ricky gave me a huge stuffed frog, the kind whose bottom lip and belly are a big pocket for your pyjamas. Froggee appeared in my life right when I needed him, and I used him as a pillow for what seemed like months and months but was probably really only a couple of weeks.
Froggee's old and stinky now, his stuffing is coming out a bit (I would never, never take it out and make pretend tea with it, though), and today is our 28th anniversary. He still lies atop the head of my bed, giving Peter the creeps with his droopy plastic eyes and occasionally jumping down on our heads at (ahem) inopportune times.
Happy anniversary Froggee. I'm sorry I squished you so tight in the suitcase for the flight home from Athens, but I was afraid that if the customs people saw you they would think you were hiding drugs and pull all your stuffing out to check. I don't think they would have been having a tea party with it.
December 15, 2005
Not as much progress as I'd hoped on the Gift for Someone Very Special. It's actually really hard to knit, too tight, brutal on my poor soft fingers and also made of Red Heart, which means it squeaks like a little baby banshee on the cheap needles I'm using. But that's okay, Someone Very Special won't mind if it's not ready for any certain date that's not my holiday anyway. Especially when there are so many important things to do right now, snow to be shoveled, friends to be visited, tea to be drunk, kitties to be petted, doodles to be. . . doodled (doos to be dled?).
If any of you smarty-pantses out there think you can guess what the Gift is, please do me a favour and don't leave a guess in the comments. I want Someone Very Special to be surprised.
Not much else is getting accomplished, other than the aforementioned doodling and tea-drinking. I promised Sandy that I would finish at least one of the cardigans I brought home with me (that would be the Must Have, of course, since it's the closest to being done), but now I have some design swatching to be done on a really short deadline, so I'm not to be held responsible if there's still no Must Have come January. Trying to find a way to pay the rent on the Athens shack I'll be paying for all summer even though I may not be living there and won't be getting paid is more important, and that means swatching and designing. More news on that as it breaks.
Today I shoveled my way out of the house and slogged my arse many, many blocks (okay, only about four, actually) through the rude wind's wild lament and the bitter weather to visit Mita, who's housebound with a brand new baby. And finally, finally! I got to meet beautiful Mats, who is an absolute doll (of course). He pretty much slept on me the whole time I was there, which was really nice because babies usually hate me. And his head smells so good.
Today is the Rob-and-Jodi birthday limbo day; Rob is two years and two days older than me so in the past we've averaged our ages and had a joint party. Today RobandJodi is 35 (which means, in case you miss my dumbass logic, that yesterday Rob turned 36). Since it's too late to say happy birthday, go wish him a happy RobandJodiday instead, and tell him to get off his arse and start posting on the blog again. Oh, and happy birthday sweetie, sorry it's a day late but I'm a slackass that way. You can get me back for it tomorrow.
December 13, 2005
Self portrait tuesday - familiar things
I spent all day yesterday in the house, doing nothing. It feels good to just ramble up and down the stairs, hanging out with the Fats and drinking tea. I may end up doing the same thing today, although I should get my arse up and go out later. We'll see.
December 12, 2005
Sweet, sweet home
It's so good to be back in the snow and cold. I even got to go out and shovel on my first day home! The novelty of that will no doubt wear off quickly, but for now I'm happy.
The trip was pretty uneventful despite my apprehension. I wasn't afraid of the actual flying, just afraid of the airport; I'm always paranoid and prone to panic in places like that, and convinced that I'm going to get lost or walk into the wrong place and never find my way out again and it will all end in tears and possibly starvation in some janitor's closet or disused stairwell that I went into thinking it was the bathroom and the door locked behind me and when they find my body it will be all dry and crackly and the only way they'll know it's me is because I'm the only dried-up decomposed skeleton with three wisdom teeth. Fortunately Sandy is very tolerant and understanding and she held my hand all the way to the security area, and despite the fact that I almost gave birth to my entire digestive system in the parking lot when I found out I had to actually ride a TRAIN from the airport to the terminal, it wasn't that hard. It helps that they herd you like cattle and there's really no way to get lost. As for the flight itself, it wasn't all that exciting. I sort of expected the plane to be, you know, really big; instead it was the same width as a city bus, and not really anything like the movies (that's right, I'm such a hick that I thought flying in an airplane was going to be just like in the movies). But you know the part when you get up past the clouds and into the sun and then they tell you you're at 35000 feet and it's hot and unbelievably bright and you're looking down at a soft, wet white tundra, way down below? I sort of wanted to stay there. Forever. Except I'd rather not stay there with the actual people who were on that plane with me, especially the cell phone lady.
My plane got in at suppertime so we went straight to my favourite restaurant to gorge ourselves on Ethiopian food.
I really, really missed this. Then Saturday I got to have my grape leaf sandwich, so now my belly is well stuffed with the foods I can't get in Athens. I wonder how well those sandwiches would freeze if I brought ten or so back to Georgia with me?
As promised, here are the finished graduation socks, photographed right here in my own home on my great-great-grandmother's sewing chair, with a fat (and apparently itchy) kitty in the background for a little extra stripeyness (have I mentioned how happy I am to be here?). The specs: Lion Brand Magic Stripes yarn; at first I used the Pom Squad pattern, but my novice attempts at short-row heels came out so holey, messy and weird-fitting that I unraveled the whole lot and did them according to my bog-standard sock formula instead, top-down with a reinforced heel flap. The fit is perfect, with just the right amount of ankle cleavage showing.
Here's my progress on the back of the Patons Urban Aran:
It started out as this cardigan, which I realized later just wasn't going to look good at all, since I'd had to block the ribbing so roughly to fit me. I had originally thought that I didn't have enough of the red to make a whole sweater but then I found an extra stash of it, so I'm pretty sure there's enough for the Urban Aran. I'm going to do the front in two pieces to make it a zip cardigan, and not do the collar so long.
See those lovely centre-pull balls at the top? Wonderful Sandy gave me a ball winder as an early birthday gift. Makes me wish I'd brought more yarn with me so I could wind it all up. Whee!
Today's project is a gift for Someone Very Special, which I hope to have ready to give by Wednesday or so. You can see I have a lot done already.
December 10, 2005
Studio Saturday: a beauty way to go
In less than eight hours I'll be back in Canada. I like hanging out here at Sandy and Bob's place, but still, this day just isn't going to go fast enough. I still can't really believe that there's a way to get to Detroit from here in two hours; I have never flown in a big airplane before. Really! So expect to see some very boring out-the-plane-window pictures later on, because I'm just a small-town hick girl who is all amazed at the big old airplanes and how fast they can go. Also, this will be the first time ever that I have remembered NOT to wear my chain mail belt when I'm going to be walking through a metal detector, so this time (unlike that time at the Library of Congress) the security people won't have to make fun of me and call me Britney Spears.
So. Here are some details of a drawing I worked on this week.
I started this figure drawing and sort of pooped out after I had the basic gesture down, then as I was sitting in the studio doodling in my sketch book I thought maybe I should just doodle on the drawing instead. So now the figure has these marker and pen map-like lines on it, and it looks pretty funny. I'll probably print on it later, because I can never just leave something alone, I always have to overdo it with the covering up.
Like this. These are some of the prints with the chatter on them. The one in the bottom right corner I'm going to pull out and put in the "done (for now)" pile, since I have two of them. The rest will have more layers.
I'm starting a second set of blocks for this image, with a smoother wood this time so that the final prints won't have so much of the rough wood grain in them (this will also make me look like a less shitty printer, since right now the printing on this image is just downright crap). Now that my big shipment of paper has arrived, I'm going to do at least 20 more of these(for a total of 30) so I'll have the option of filling a room with them.
A break from this stuff is going to do me good, I think. I decided at the last minute not to pack my woodcutting tools, and I'm just going to have a vacation from making art; the only work-related thing I'm going to do while I'm at home is to draw a page every day (starting today) in my brand new Moleskine sketchbook. I need to get back in the habit, so I'm going to set myself the challenge to do a page a day, and I'll put them all up on my Flickr page.
So what did I pack to work on? The Must Have. The Urban Aran (progress pictures tomorrow). A top-down green cardigan that's just past the armpits, and I just realized I forgot to pack any more of the green wool. I plan to switch to brown for the bottom half, so if I happen to get the other two done I'll just have to cast on for the brown section (I did remember to pack lots of the brown yarn, at least) and graft them together after. Also the graduation socks, which are virtually done except for one toe graft. So I'll have FO photos tomorrow too, if I can tear myself away from Peter and the Fats and the snow outside and, you know, hugging the walls and floor in my dorky gratitude to be home in our very own house, long enough to take photos.
December 08, 2005
No wonder my head hurts
Yesterday I found this great drawing of an old 70s sedan crashing into a tree, on the ground near my house. It looks like there's someone's head flying out the back along with all that gasoline or blood or whatever it is.
All of my deadlines have been met, studio visits have been had, I handed in my sample syllabus for my teaching practicum and met with all my professors. All that's left is to grade the portfolios for my practicum class and tidy up the print shop before I take off to the Great White North. Two more sleeps! By suppertime on Saturday I'll be sitting in our house, in beautiful, beautiful Canada, with my one true love and my fat felines and snow outside and a glorious grape leaves sandwich from my favourite Lebanese sandwich place in my hand. I've been jonesing for one of those sandwiches like you wouldn't believe.
December 06, 2005
le 6 decembre
I've just realized what day it is today, and I'm sorry that I bitched earlier about my petty problems in university. Because sixteen years ago today, a man walked into l'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal and shot dead fourteen engineering students just because they were female.
Before opening fire, he shouted "I hate feminists"; student Nathalie Provost (who survived the attack) answered, "we're not feminists, we're just students taking engineering".
She was wrong.
We are all feminists, otherwise we would not be in university in the first place. Were we not feminists, we would be at home cooking potroast, prettying up our faces, making babies, and shutting up*. December 6th is a reminder that we haven't come a long way, baby, and we still have to fight every day for what we deserve: to make our own choices. It's a reminder that there are still patriarchal assholes in the world who want to take those choices away.
*I am in no way saying that it's not valid for a feminist to choose to stay home, have babies, or even make potroast if that's what floats your boat. It's only the shutting up part I have a problem with.
Self portrait Tuesday - frustration
I can't keep my fucking head on this week. I have three meetings with professors in the next two days, one more critique with my practicum class, and some drawings still to finish (tonight). And apparently the University of Georgia has decided that Visa is no longer a major enough credit card for them to bother accepting, so I can't pay my fees. Which are due today. I can't wait to get the fuck out of here.
December 04, 2005
Rats at the door
At least, they're too small to be wolves.
One of the closet doors in the Shack has these funny little footprints on it, from some kind of (very dirty) rodent. Yes, I've lived here for two months and haven't washed it off yet. I don't intend to wash it; I don't really care that much, actually, and also I think it's kind of neat. Peter and I were speculating that perhaps the rodent ran over the door while it way lying down somewhere, not attached to the closet, but I just now noticed that there are a few prints on the trim as well.
I know you're all dying for a rat-print close up, so here you go.
Obviously a rat didn't just climb up the door, but it doesn't seem all that likely that someone would hold a rat up there and let it scrabble its feet so many times. Also, who lets their pet rat get that dirty?
I suppose the marks could have been made by someone drawing on the door with a heated fork, but again, who would do that?
This happens to also be the closet I hang my clothes in, and I noticed this afternoon that when I open the door I can smell stale cigarette smoke from my wanker neighbour, who is a heavy, heavy smoker. So now all of my clothes are going to stink, and moving them to the only other closet won't help, since it's on the same wall (both on the other side of the wall from his living room) and stinks too. So I'm going to have to rig up some way to hang my clothes out in the room instead, which will be a splendid way to make this place seem even more temporary and grotty a living space. I'm fighting my passive aggressive desire to turn my music up just to punish Mr. Wanker for stinking up my closets, but he likely wouldn't make the connection anyway (never mind the fact that it would be CHILDISH! because, heh, I never act childish). Besides, I learned that this is an ineffective strategy back when we lived upstairs from Louie; no matter how loud I turned up my stereo, it never deterred him from stinking up our apartment by cooking pork all day, every day.
In tooth news, I can now eat crunchy things again (only chewing on the side opposite the gaping wound, of course). The hole is closing fast, and already it's just a weird deep divot instead of a huge gaping chasm. Today I didn't take any painkillers. Whee! Also, my TMJ (same side as the bad tooth) seems to suddenly be a lot less troublesome.
It's pouring rain outside, which just doesn't seem right for the fourth of December. This afternoon was so warm that I opened my kitchen window for a few hours to let in some air. Peter was pretty unhappy when he heard that; he thinks the weather is conspiring against him (because it's always beautiful here, except for when he visits) and of course, I'm rubbing it in. But really, I'm tired of this. I can't wait to get home to the snow (six more sleeps!). How much would you like to bet that the snow back home will all melt by the time my plane touches down in Detroit on Saturday evening? Because the weather, she conspires against ME.
There's a brand new Knitty out tonight, and it's freaking huge. On my must-knit list: the utterly adorable Kate; Mandy's gorgeous lacey scarf; the Tubey sweater (why do I always like the things that look good on the skinny girls when I know they will cling to my love handles like blubber to a seal? too bad, I'm making this anyway).
December 03, 2005
Studio Saturday: wasting time
I've been meaning to show you this:
This is my self portrait from back in August; it's been reworked by Jeremy Hughes, a grad student in painting, as a project in our drawing class. I'm really happy with the improvements he made, and I'm glad that I'm the one who gets to keep it. I didn't do this good a job on Claire's drawing.
So far this weekend I've done nothing but waste time in the studio, first methodically cutting up a large image in photoshop so that I could print it in sections on 8.5 by 11 paper, then realizing that the image was the wrong size and having to resize and cut it all up again, then painstakingly putting 43 little pieces back together. Then I decided to scrap the whole thing and get my image onto the woodblocks a different way, so I came home to cool off from that and to work on some drawing instead. So, no new woodblocks to show. And no drawings yet either, since I'm still dicking around with gluing down my little woven maps and sewing lines over them before I staple it all up on the wall to draw on.
Two shipments came in this week, 500 sheets of Rives BFK and a box of almost 50 t-shirts. I've swapped a hundred sheets of the paper to a colleague for some Pronto plates, and just watch how quickly I can burn through 400 pieces of paper. Expect to see t-shirts up in the shop by the end of January.