Monday, January 25, 2010

One is an amazing number if it's your birthday

Sunday offered up a fun afternoon. Went over to my brother and sister-in-law's place for a birthday get together for my little niece. It was her first birthday and as is usual for this kind of thing, she didn't have a clue what was going on but sure found it neat that there were so many people - big and little - were around.

It is kind of funny to notice that even when people send out invites with "no presents please" on them - in this case in all caps and followed by "seriously" - invitees are almost culturally incapable of not showing up with a gift. I was no different, but in my case it was because I had stopped by earlier in the week and my niece claimed emminent domain on my new hat and it looked so cute on her that her mom and dad asked me if I could make that her present. That's her in her hat with her dad in the photo.

Anyway, it was sort of nice to hang out with family and friends for a wholesome, slice of American life kind of way.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Are You Wearing Cashmere Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Sometimes you just never know when the meter on the day is going to peg out at stupendous. It didn't seem like that much of a day, but lo and behold...

Stopped at Goodwill for some bargain hunting today. I looked and looked and was beginning to think I was gonna get skunked. Then I found a really cool Ex-Officio shirt. It was a cool color and like new. Sadly, it was a bit too big. Tried on a couple of nice jackets, but they just didn't quite do it for me. As I was putting stuff back on the racks, I stumbled upon a great feel.

What? Surely this isn't just a coat? Guess what? It wasn't...

There, quietly waiting on the rack was a cashmere coat. It was a nice dark grey - not quite charcoal, but not quite slate. There wasn't a sign of wear anywhere on this beauty either.

I tried it on and as my arms slid smoothly into the sleeves and I pulled it on, my first thought was 'this is like butter.' It fit great.

And the best part? It was under 10 dollars! Life, my friends, is pretty damn nice sometimes.

Tomorrow I'm going to clean my place...a coat this nice needs a tidy, well-cleaned place to live!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Maybe Vampires That Sparkle Are Okay

The other morning, my brother and I were driving out to Brookfield. It was nice and sunny for the thirty minute drive. The sunshine was a welcome break from the previous few days of grey skies.

Looking out the window, I saw a remarkable sight. As we moved along the road, the snow caught the sunlight and sparkled. That's nothing new. The light bounces of the variously angled crystals and creates a sparkle effect. What was amazing was that it just kept on going and going.

Signpost by signpost, the sparkling kept up. And it wasn't just right along the side of the road. When we passed open fields, I could see sparkles far out into the distance - forty, fifty, sixty yards. Incredible.

Somewhere along the line, it reminded me of something. What you ask? Well, it looked almost exactly like the cheesy sparkling skin effect for the vampires in the Twilight movies. The idea from the books being that vampires avoid sunlight not because they burst into flames, but because their skin sparkles in a crystalline and clearly otherworldly way. In other words they avoid sunlight so as not to call attention to themselves.

The sparkle effect wasn't a deal breaker for me, but I do have to admit a couple of things. First, not only did I indeed read all the books and enjoy them, but I've also seen the movies and liked them too. Second, I hated the sparkling bits.

Driving along watching the snow sparkle in some bizarre, beautiful way, I suddenly didn't mind the Twilight special effects so much anymore. Even when a live Cheap Trick came on the radio and the sparkles took on the look of thousands of flashes going off during a Super Bowl kickoff, the feeling stuck with me. Maybe, just maybe, sparkling vampires are okay.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Knits Keep On Coming

Maybe it's the winter, maybe it's the unemployment, but I can't seem to stop this whole knitting thing. It started innocently enough with a scarf. How can a scarf be bad?

On it's own, a scarf isn't much more than something to keep your neck warm. But it's not such an innocent thing. It's really a gateway to knitting depravity. First a scarf, then a hat and the next thing you know you're trolling yarn shops trying to figure out how much yarn you need to buy to make a sweater you don't even know how to make yet.

Okay, maybe it's not that bad. I mean, really, I only made a scarf.

Ummmm...well...about that...

Figured out how to do some fingerless gloves, which turned out pretty well. Nice enough to give them away to one of my favorite bartenders, Rachel. And she hasn't hid them in the bottom of her laundry basket to avoid wearing them.

Then there was a hat. I'm keeping that one. It's sort of a tight-fitting beanie. It seems like the sort of hat you would wear checking out the waves on the dawn patrol. Warm enough to keep the noggin warm, but not too bulky to wear to the bar. In fact, I wore it when I went to the bar to watch the Chargers/Jets game.

So, I guess a scarf isn't just a scarf.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ventured down to the tea room on Thursday for Brynn's art opening. I'm finding myself less and less desirous of stopping in the longer I've been away, but it was for Brynn and I had promised.

She had a nice showing of some of her travel photos. They were mostly people pictures, which was nice, and they really captured a lot of joy even in some dreary places. They were primarily photos taken in Uganda and in India.

Anyway, had some tea, bypassed the wine and had some good food. It was a nice opening and I was really proud of Brynn. She had a great time. So, it was worthwhile.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Don't get caught out on Packers Day

I've got to take my Mom to the store pretty soon. It's NFL playoff time and the Packers play this afternoon. I'm pretty sure there's a special place in Guantanamo for anyone caught out on the streets at game time. You think I'm perhaps exagerating a tad... Ask anyone in Wisconsin and they'll probably be able to tell you a tale of an uncle or brother who tried to run to the store on a Packer day and never returned.

So, knowing all that...why is it so hard to get moving this morning? I know I want to get this taken care of as soon as I can, but can't seem to get beyond making a cup of coffee. I guess I just have to grab myself by the scruff of the neck and drag myself whining to the shower and get myself dressed and out into the car.

Or...I could just take a nap.

***Just found this goodie...

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Knittle me this Batman

Yesterday was a nice snow day. It started snowing during the night and continued all day long. Light and powdery, easy cleanup. We were supposed to get about 10 inches. we might have come close to that, but it seems like a bit less.

Anyway, it's pretty today. Everything is so fresh looking. But, I have to admit I like the day of a snow storm better than the day after. It's nice to have that snowed-in feeling. A cup of coffee, a project, and a view of the falling snow.

Just before Christmas, I had a strong urge to learn how to knit. I know, "boys don't knit", but what do I care? I have always loved thick, hand-knit wool sweaters and have always wished I could make one. The urge stayed with me through the holiday so after Christmas came and went, I bought some yarn, needles and a couple of books.

You have to walk before you run and I hadn't even stood up on my own yet. After some false starts, I finally figured out just what "cast on" meant and puzzled out how to create a knit stitch. It took a day of trying to limp through that only to not like what I saw and pull it apart to start again. The only thing that happened quickly was that I mastered starting and pulling apart. It wasn't until later that I found out that the pulling apart was called "frogging".

Frog master, master of the frog, frog daddy...the frustration built.

Day two saw some progress. And, oddly, the progress sped up. I was doing the simplest knitting process possible, something called a garter stitch. It's basically just the same thing over and over again. Knit a row, flip it around and knit another row. It wasn't exactly fun, but it was satisfying in an odd sort of way.

I went through a skein of yarn. That's more than a ball and less than a hank. Most of the yarn you can buy at the local store comes in a skein. I went back to the store and picked up some more yarn. I was going to use the same color and just keep going, then decided I didn't want to drive all the way to the same store I originally bought the yarn at.

That led to learning how to do horizontal stripes. Oddly enough, the pictures in my books and the accompanying descriptions didn't look like blueprints for a nuclear power plant and this part of the job was easy. And, more important, easy to learn.

Around this point, it started to get fun. Maybe it was the visible progress or maybe the whole finally "getting it" thing.

I plowed on and on and on.

Finally, all that was left was to finish it. Back to the books I went. It might as well have been ancient Sumerian. I couldn't figure out what the heck they were talking about. Thankfully, my friend Mel has been knitting forever and she explained it to me. Of course, it was amazingly easy once you knew how it was supposed to be done.

So, there you have it - boys can knit. And, now that we've had a great snow storm, I'm glad that boys can knit because my new scarf is really, really warm.