Monday, December 12, 2011

My Work is on Tour with Grant Hart!

Grant wore the sweater I designed and knitted in a performance in Frankfurt, along with the matching headband I made to show him what the cable bands would look like on the sweater, long before the sweater was actually done and presented to him. He looks fabulous in the full ensemble.

In terms of how the finished items look on the recipient, I think this is my most successful design to date. (The sweater I designed and knitted for my innkeeper friend in Maine runs a very close second.)

But as I believe I have mentioned previously, Grant never did tell me what size he takes, and I had to guess, solely based on the few times we've hugged. The potential for error -- and failure -- was huge. Not to mention that we sort of disagreed about the cabling. He thought the yarn was complex enough to stand on its own without cables, and I stubbornly refused to give up my vision of him sporting cables.

The original sweater I was trying to copy (and enhance, pictured below) gave Grant this Viking Warrior look that refused to leave my mind, and the wheels started turning. And while the original sweater was a "found" item, mine was specifically intended for him, and based on what my gut instincts were telling me. So, I made the headband and told him to look at it a lot, hold it, maybe wear it now and then, and give it some consideration, because I really was seeing cabled bands on that sweater, and he was going to have some at cuffs and hip, with the body of the sweater being plain to the neckline, which I decided to stabilize with a twisted rib stitch band.
(c) Hanna Pribitzer 
My memory of the sizing was pretty darn good, as it turns out. The sweater fits him perfectly, and as I promised him he would, he looks like a million bucks, and I do not mean green and wrinkled!

There are photos kicking around on the web, too, from Birmingham, England, and Essen, Germany, in which he is wearing the ensemble, and others from Belgium in which he is just wearing the sweater, but no headband. I am thrilled that it's been keeping him warm on his journeys, and also that it suits him so well.

It is truly a great pleasure and privilege to knit for him.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Black Walnut Dye

So, here's how the black walnut hull dye experiment turned out. Amazing, how many different shades of brown I got! A lot depended on the type of fiber used, but I knew that before I started. Pretty cool, huh? I'll be selling some of it, and dyeing up more over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Trying Something New

No, this is not an epic failure of a batch of homemade meatballs, nor is it a strange and frightening incarnation of tofu.

Hurricane Irene left me with a plethora of fallen black walnuts, which my daughter kindly gathered and put in one of those big Homer buckets from the Home Depot.

These are pretty damn big buckets, folks. The thing was 3/4 of the way full of walnuts with bright green husks. Where to stow them until I was ready to deal with them? Why, the garage, of course, where they were promptly forgotten until this morning.

The top layer of nuts was pretty well dried out, but underneath -- oh, joy! A whole lot of nasty, soggy, dark brown husks just oozing their almost-black juice (and a few maggots, but those will be strained out later).

I have two 12 quart kettles full simmering on the stove now, one of which you can see in the picture.

I figure I'll let the kettles stew for a couple of hours, then set them on the back step to cool. Tomorrow I will strain and filter the liquid, and we shall see what we shall see. Allegedly, I do not need a mordant to dye yarn with this stuff. It will be interesting to see what color I end up with. It will be brown for sure, but -- dark? Light? Somewhere in between?

It will be an adventure, for sure.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Earth & Sky Shawls in Maine

Earth & Sky # 2, size large, in Mad Angel Creations
Kettle Dyed DK weight yarn.
Colors are: Rory's Blues, Olivine, and Wild Grapes
 Earth & Sky # 1, size large, in 2 ply New Zealand Sport weight yarn.
Colors: Juniper, Mocha Java, and Terra Cotta
 And here they are, side by each, on the deck
outside the room we stayed in at the
Inn on the Harbor in Stonington, Maine.

I have spent many happy hours knitting at the Inn on the Harbor, and have gotten a lot of inspiration for my own designs while staying there and exploring the general area. It is one of my favorite places on earth -- a place where I can really and truly relax and forget all about anything that troubles me.

Umm...

Long time no blog, I know. I've been a little preoccupied with the yarn and fiber biz, and in fact there are two dye kettles on my stove as I type, filled with silk noil top. I'm no fool. Christmas is coming, and the dyed silk noil top is one of my best sellers. Today's run will yield purple and teal. I'll bundle it in 1 ounce packages when it's dry, then take pictures and make more listings.

For fun, I've been playing around with some new spindles. Anyone at all who likes to spindle and reads this blog, you can find these absolutely terrific and beautiful Turkish spindles at Threads Thru Time on Etsy.

I always liked the idea of Turkish spindles, but never really met one I enjoyed using until I discovered these.

The listing said "tiny," and they weren't kidding!
 This is my hand holding the spindle, and I do not have large hands.
 
My favorite colors in the wood, too -- 
purple and green -- what's not to love?
This is the yarn I made from the sample
included with my spindle.
Exactly 1/4 ounce of wool yielded 51 yards!
 Using an Amercian quarter as my "scale model."
Can't quite believe how fine-gauge the yarn is!
Now, this is the "medium" spindle. Significantly larger than the "tiny" one, and I'm spinning one of my own hand dyed and blended wool batts. "Magus" did not sell after 6 months in my shop, and I was wanting to keep it, anyway, as the colorway reminds me of a friend who passed away in June. I have four ounces to do, and then I will find exactly the right thing to make from the yarn. Something really nice that will always remind me of my friend.
I've spun 0.7 ounces so far, and plied it into a heavy fingering weight 2 ply yarn. I got 86 yards done so far! 

I'll post pictures of the yarn when I have more of it done. So far, I am REALLY pleased with how it's coming out!

Oops -- timer's going off -- that means my silk is done!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Earth & Sky # 2

I have finally finished the second Westknits Earth & Sky Shawl, which I started almost immediately after finishing the first one back in August. It's bright, it's vivid, it's bold, and it's all made of yarns I dyed myself. The colorways are Rory's Blues, Wild Grapes, and Olivine.
I actually have two, or maybe possibly three, dresses this will go with. I really love this pattern, so there will be more of them, in various colorways, in my future.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This Week's Spinning

I've been having a lot of fun with my spindles and wheels this week. Finished off spinning the singles, then plied them all. First up is my own color blend, "Cthulu Rising." I've been selling the full-size batts in my shop, but of course held back some of the "leftovers" to play with. I wanted to see just how much yardage I could get from a small amount, so I spun the fiber (100% Merino wool) as fine as I could on a drop spindle, then made it into a 2-ply yarn. Between the two skeins, I have a total weight of 0.7 oz and 146 yds. That's probably the highest yield I have done with such a small amount to date. I have at least a half ounce of the fiber left, and figure I will very likely make it past the 200 yds per ounce mark. I should be able to make some nice, lace accessory out of this. And yes, I realize that the two skeins look very different, color-wise, but this is part of the charm with a hand-blended batt. Each one is a little bit different, even though I used the exact same amount of each color in each one. Any finished item made from this stuff will be truly unique.
 This next one came from Dyeing for Color -- a nice blend of wool and firestar. Firestar adds the most beautiful "bling," and I just love a bit of "bling" in my finished yarns. It dresses things up so nicely. 4.1 oz, 2-ply, 254 yds. Wheel spun. No idea what this wants to be yet, and I have another 4 oz to spin up, so whatever I make will be bigger than a hat.
 Lastly, here's some incredible Polwarth wool from Friends in Fiber, in one of my favorite color combos. They call it "Elegant Eggplant." 4.1 oz, 2-ply, 324 yds. Wheel spun. I have another 4 oz of this one, too, and when it's done, I'll have a better idea of exactly what I might be able to make with it.
This was my first experience with Polwarth wool, and it will not be my last. It was so soft, and practically spun itself.

I'm tempted to begin trying to sell some of my handspun yarns, but that's a bit of a wrench, as I have a very hard time parting with handspun. But I really don't have enough time to knit everything I spin, and it would be wonderful to see someone enjoy it, and create something beautiful. The trick is, getting to a point where I can let the yarns go to a good home, and once I am at that point, figuring out what might be a fair price for a yarn that's quite labor-intensive to create.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Europa Sweater

A one-of-a-kind Mad Angel Creation officially went to its very special recipient on Saturday Evening.
 The "Thanks, I Love It" Pose
(a.k.a. the "Aren't I Cute?" Pose)
 The GQ "Hottie" Pose
The Obligatory Punkatude Pose

But seriously, folks...I'm amazed that this fits Grant as well as it does. He never would tell me exactly what size he wears, and though it's a little bigger around the middle than he usually likes, it will accommodate lots of warm layers, which is a good thing when one lives in a cold climate and winter is on the way.

I'm very pleased at how closely this resembles Grant's original "Europa" sweater. The original one was a "found" item, and I did my best to copy the shaping faithfully, while adding a couple of unique features of my own.

Since this one was specifically for Grant, I will not duplicate the pattern for anyone else but him. I might draft out some variations, and maybe document my first prototype, but Grant will be the only kid on the block who gets to wear this exact style.

Here is my first prototype for comparison. Grant did not want a high neck, so I got rid of that feature for his sweater. And yes, it is indeed the same yarn in both sweaters. I had a lot of this stuff in my stash. Still do! Grant's sweater has some dark brown Persian tapestry yarn box-stitched around all the edges for contrast. Mine has no contrast stitching.
Here's Grant, getting his very first look at the afghan I made him, which would have been a Christmas present, if I could have stood waiting that long to give it to him. I made him shut his eyes and turn his back while I snuck up from behind and wrapped it around him.
And now I have to take a break from "yarn bombing" him and get on to some other projects!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Not Knitted By Me, but...

Being of the mindset that one can never have too many Westknits shawls, I jumped when I saw, among the discussion threads on the Wesknits Ravlery group, the subject, "Thendara Giveaway."

Much as I love knitting and wearing stuff myself, it's very seldom that a knitter ever receives a hand-knitted gift. So, the possibility of winning a giveaway is the next best thing.

The Thendara shawl is from the yet-to-be-released Westknits Book 3. I am simply dying to get my hands on a copy of Book 3. So are a lot of other folks. For me, there are a scarf and a gorgeous blanket in that book that are already on my "must knit" list.

The knitter of the giveaway shawl does FABULOUS work. Take a peek at his blog and see the shawl I'm trying to win, and look at his other stuff, too. Beautiful!

Alas, he is not offering his French Bulldog as a consolation prize...

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Earth & Sky Shawl

It was not enough to simply finish my Westknits Earth & Sky Shawl. In our Westknits fan group on Ravelry, we are now challenging each other to photograph our shawls and/or selves in interesting locations when we travel. Granted, I did not have to travel too far to have these pictures taken in Swan Point Cemetery, in Providence, RI. I think it's not even an hour's drive from my home, as the hubby flies  drives.
Of particular note here is the gravestone, which  unfortunately cannot be read too easily, since the sun was a little too bright. I think it was about 10 years ago when my sister and I finally stumbled upon this modest little stone, after years of searching for it. Now I'll never forget where it is, though I might take a wrong turn or two or three on the way there.
This, my friends, is H.P. Lovecraft's grave. H.P. Lovecraft was sort of the godfather of gothic horror, and spent his short life in Providence, so his stories are replete with locations and landmarks I know well. "The Shunned House" was across the street from a house in which my sister once had an apartment. From this same apartment, the church described in "Haunter of the Dark" was visible. There really wasn't anything evil about that church; it was just spooky-looking, with a black roof on the steeple and black shutters enclosing the belfry. Sadly, this landmark was demolished a few years back, since it was a poor parish and the building had fallen into disrepair. The R.C. diocese deemed it too expensive to repair, and now there is a little park on the site where the church used to stand.
The epitaph reads, "I am Providence." A bit of a pompous statement, that, but Providence was indeed his hometown, and he obviously loved the place. He will be a part of it forever.
This picture was taken in the vicinity of the Lovecraft gravesite. The hat I am wearing is also a Westknits pattern, "Bandwidth." Easy, fast, and fun to do, and a good use for all the yarn I had left over from the shawl.
A bit later, I explored my favorite spooky mausoleum while hubby took a nap in the car. The place looks like the front of a very large, imposing brick house, and is set right in the side of a big hill. Every now and then, the paper covering the "front door" sidelights falls away, and if you stand there for awhile and let your eyes adjust to the darkness, you can see inside. There's a big chandelier with candles in it, and some free-standing stone thingies that seem the right size and shape to contain coffins. But the only marking on the building to indicate who rests there is the name "Perry," carved above the door. It's reminiscent of the Collins family mausoleum in "Dark Shadows," and has always fascinated me. I tried to take pictures, but didn't have a lot of luck getting any document of the inside, but I did get this cool shot of my own reflection, with the trees and the Providence River in the background. The bar in the center of the picture is part of the iron grillework covering the sidelight.
Not too far from the Perry place is my favorite cemetery monument of all time. The statue was done by Isidore Konti, and is a modification of a famous piece of his called "The Genius of Immortality." The original statue is small and has no angel wings.
I have found myself drawn to this statue for years now, since I first discovered it at age 18 or so. I had never seen anything like it before, and indeed, I have yet to see anything else like it. I often wonder, looking at it, who the model was, and what his life was like. And I also wonder about Edgar John Lownes. Who was he, and how did it come to pass that he should be honored with such a large and unusual monument?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Treats!

Miraculously, we have not lost power yet. Perhaps we won't end up losing it after all. I am hopeful, but it's hard to tell whether we'll be that lucky or not. I have no idea how much longer this storm is supposed to go on. What I do know, is the weather is supposed to be glorious tomorrow, and in fact, all week.

We are on the east side of the eye, which means we are having more wind than rain.

Around noon-ish, I decided to tempt fate and make a batch of cookies: oatmeal with cranberries and walnuts. Tried and true and wonderful, so I'll share the recipe here.

1 cup butter ( or margarine), softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark -- doesn't matter -- whatever you have on hand)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup flour (preferably unbleached)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
(or if you don't have whole wheat flour on hand, use 1-1/2 cups regular flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars, then beat in eggs and vanilla.

In another bowl, mix oats, flour, baking soda, and salt, and gradually add to the creamed mixture.

Stir in walnuts and cranberries.

Drop by teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the rounded balls of dough slightly.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove to wire racks to cool.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Done!

I finished my Westknits Earth & Sky Shawl yesterday afternoon. The first two pics show it hot off the needles, neither washed nor blocked.

I thought I might wait until today to do the washing and blocking, but found I was too eager to see how it would look in the very final step. Here it is, pinned out on my dining room table to dry. If I had more foam interlocking tiles, I could have stretched this out even further. I might have to order a few more of these, since what I have isn't enough to accommodate a really big shawl.
This was a really enjoyable knit. Would I do it again? Answer below...
And if Stephen does another knit-along in the future, you can bet I'll be signing on!

Next step for the first shawl? Overdyeing the dress I want to wear with it. Original dress color is a terra cotta very similar to the terra cotta shade in the shawl. It looked like a different color in the catalogue picture, and the color of the dress that actually arrived on my doorstep was totally WRONG for me. Still, it was a Lands End turtleneck dress, and I believed that surely someday I would find exactly the right thing to wear with it. That day never arrived, but in the intervening years I learned how easy it is to overdye cotton fabric, so I will be doing that, and hopefully the dress will be a lovely dark brown when all is said and done. It won't match the brown in the shawl exactly, but the green border will provide enough distraction to keep most people from noticing.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Oh, dear...

It has been awhile since I blogged last. Sometimes, it seems, I just don't have an awful lot to say. Having family here for a visit for a week or so at the end of July/beginning of August left me feeling strangely drained of thought and energy.

One positive thing I did was to treat myself to a Mystery Knit Along -- a new shawl pattern from Stephen West at WestKnits. My very first WestKnits pattern was the Windschief Hat, which I knitted for Grant Hart last winter. It was a lucky find while I was browsing Ravelry's cache of hat patterns for something that might suit Mr. Hart, whom I did not know very well yet at the time of knitting.

I enjoyed that hat pattern so much, I have knitted others for myself, and a second one for Grant, and a number of Stephen's other hats as well, plus two shawls.

After my company left, I was despondently cruising around Ravelry and happened to see the announcement for Mr. West's Knit Along. I was only a couple of days late joining the party and figured I could catch up quickly enough, so I paid for the download. It's still in progress, but nearly done now. I just have to put the edging on and bind it off, then wash and block, and it will be good to go. Here's a picture of it, partway through the third "clue."


I have a turtleneck dress I bought a few years ago, which is just about the same shade of terra cotta as I used in the shawl. It's nice in the shawl, but on me a whole dress in that color is...well...gagsome. Luckily it's 100% cotton, so I am overdyeing it dark brown. It won't be the exact same shade of brown as the yarn I used in the shawl, unless of course I am very, very lucky, but it should be close enough to be attractive. And besides, there will be very few places in the edging where the brown is actually next to the fabric of the dress for comparison. The biggest part of the edging will be spruce green.

The shawl was also a great way to test some really beautiful yarn I'll soon be selling. It's a 2-ply sport weight yarn from New Zealand that will be fantastic for outwear. It's not terribly soft, but is sturdy and durable and really has some body to it. Definitely not Merino. It feels more like Shetland. I can see it making excellent hats, boot socks, or mittens, and of course I know now that it's great for a cold winter day shawl.

Anyway, I've been busy skeining it up and washing it in preparation for selling.

I pretty much wash everything I sell, so it's ready to work with the minute it lands in a customer's hands. Washing really brings a yarn that's been compressed tightly on a cone back to life.

In addition to all that knitting and skein winding, I've started playing with dye again, and added some nice new items to my shop. Below is a sampling of spinning fibers, but I added some new yarns, too.

Well, back to my regularly scheduled knitting now, while you enjoy an old favorite of mine, which I rediscovered this week.



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hello, Old Friend

I made this sweater in 1999. That's 12 very long years ago. It's my own design and is called "Fleagle," and intended to pay tribute to a musician I will never forget: medieval balladeer John Fleagle. There is a lot of love and grief worked into every stitch. He was only 47 years old. Far too young to leave this world bereft of himself, and his musical magick.

The oak leaves and acorns represent a thing sacred to Druid Bards of Old: the live oak. (I do not know if John was a Druid, but musically? Well, he WAS a modern bard. Very much so.)

The XO cables pretty obviously represent love: he was much loved by anyone who ever heard him.

The Heart with Pendant Teardrop represents more love, and grief.

The central motif consists of intertwined cabled hearts: yet more love.

I had some equally weighty reason for choosing a basketweave stitch for the background, but hanged if I can remember that reason now.

A dear friend who passed away, also far too young, just a few months after I finished the sweater, remarked, after seeing this picture, that she didn't see how I could stand to wear it after all that work. What if something happened to it? Oughtn't I to put it in a shadowbox and preserve it forever?

She was only half joking. (And I still miss you, Pam. Yes, 11 years on, I still remember, and wish I could still write an e-mail and have you answer. And yes, I still sometimes play "Elf Bowling" in your memory..."Is that all the balls you've got, Santa?" And I still choke up thinking about the first time you ever sent me "Flaming Bag of Poo" for Halloween...)

Pam would be horrified at the current condition of that sweater. It has long been a favorite, you see. I've worn it more than any other sweater I have ever made. It went to Ireland and Scotland with me, and in order to make room in my suitcase for all the yarn I was bringing back from Scotland, I...GASP!!!!...packaged it up and mailed it home from Shetland. It took 6 weeks to land on my doorstep. Pam would have fainted at the mere thought.

But this sweater has been loved. It has served as a pillow, as a throw blanket, and as a winter coat. You see, it is SO oversized, I can, and HAVE, fit many layers beneath it.

At the beginning of last winter, I noticed some holes near the sleeve cuffs, and broken stitches in the I-cord trim at the neckline, so I washed and dried it, and stowed it in a plastic sweater bag until I could get around to repairing it.

Today, with outdoor temps in the upper 90s, I happened to find the partial ball of yarn I had left from the original project, down in the basement. Finally, repairs would be made, and thank God for air conditioning!

I picked out the frayed I-cord trim, caught up the stitches, and re-knitted. After 12 years of hard wear, the sweater is a little faded -- understatement of the year -- so the new trim doesn't match at all, colorwise. The yarn has mellowed to a smokey blue/gray color from the original vivid blue. So, now the trim is bright and colorful, in contrast to the mellow shade of the rest of the garment. Oh, well. At least the mending in the fabric near the sleeve cuffs doesn't show up quite so starkly, as I was able to do a simple weave repair from the inside.

I tried it on and thought it wasn't too bad a job, except...I was a lot larger when I knitted this thing. It's more oversized on me now than I like any garment to be. What to do?

Pam would call the men in the white coats to come and get me if she knew what I was doing with that sweater right now.

It's in the dryer. On medium heat, not air fluff or low. I WANT this thing to shrink! But being as it's good old Bartlett yarn from Maine, it probably won't shrink much at all. In fact, I have tried this tactic in the past, with minimal success, but those times I was afraid to take too much of a risk, and set the dryer on low heat. There will still be plenty of room for me to move in it, when all's said and done.

I'm happy I finally made those repairs. Too big or not, it will be nice to be able to wear this one again, come winter.

And winter WILL come again. On a day like today, I need to be reminded of that.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

OK, I Know...

This is juvenile of me. REALLY juvenile. But in a chat with a friend this afternoon, I forget how the subject came up, but I asked if he had ever heard "Ooh, Girl -- An Honest R & B Song." He had not!

It's a funny listen, but it's even funnier with the video.

Juvenile, juvenile, juvenile...but so well done, I can't help but laugh my arse off every time I see it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Families...oy veh...

Thank God for the non-biological family members we choose for ourselves over the years! I honestly don't know what I would do without such people. Maybe it isn't so for other people -- and lucky you if it's not -- but it seems like all I get from biological family members is pain, and a heavy-duty sense of guilt and obligation.

I'm not talking about my husband and/or kids, though sometimes relations with all of them can be a bit of a mine-field. No.

Once again, I am schmerzing about a sibling relationship that will just never be what it once was, no matter how much I believe that things could change for the better. It's over. It's done with. And if I don't let it be over and done with, and persist in holding on to this ridiculous hope of mine, I'm just going to keep getting hurt. Over and over and over again.

Stupid of me to let my guard down. Stupid of me to trust. I walked right into it face-first. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

But it did look like things were changing for the better, and I wanted so badly to believe it was true.

STUPID!!!!!!

Time to rebuild the Wall, and hope to God it stays up this time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My First Video!

Beware of folkies with video cameras, tripods, and time on their hands!

I did it because I could, and I've been meaning
to attempt it for awhile now.

What better excuse than a tribute song for a friend?

And besides...it was an awful lot of fun to do!

I suspect that "Magnus" is nodding his approval...

Friday, June 24, 2011

One Week Ago Today...

I didn't yet know that a dear friend of mine had passed into Eternity. I had only just learned a few weeks before that he was ill, and that knowledge had barely sunk in when I had the news he was gone. I found out last Saturday evening. It was better for him this way, that he went so quickly and didn't linger. Pancreatic cancer is incurable, and is one of the worst cancers, pain-wise. So, I am thankful that he is gone, for his sake.

We did not get to talk often, but we did send e-mails now and then. and when I first began recording music last year, he was one of the first people I trusted to hear what I'd been up to. He gave me a lot of positive feedback and some suggestions for how to improve things. He let me know I did not, in fact, suck.

If not for this man, I most likely would not even know who Grant Hart is, much less be able to call him a friend. I would never have met Grant, and without that meeting, I might never have picked up a guitar again, and I certainly never would have written any songs.

I owe this man a lot, even though we didn't see each other often, or speak to each other often, or even e-mail each other that often. Yet he was dear to me, and it was a comfort to know I could reach out and receive a kindly response.

Thinking of him yesterday, I picked up my guitar to noodle around a bit -- an activity of which he would have wholeheartedly approved -- and after a bit, words began coming to me. First a refrain, and then one verse, and then another, and another. I did some minor editing of the text, so it would fit into the song better, and tried several times to lay down a good study copy. That was hard to do, because my own words were making me choke up. It took awhile to get that start-to-finish take. I enhanced it a little with my music editing program, so it wouldn't be quite so in-your-face-naked, and have posted it on my website, so anyone who feels like checking it out is welcome to. There will be a better version at some point, with multiple guitar tracks and harmony and perhaps even a melody instrument and/or a drum. I do want this to be, in time, something that would make my friend feel proud to have inspired. I suppose just writing and recording this first version puts me part way there, and furthermore, I think this man had a spiritual hand in it. Seems he's been going 'round making a lot of visits to various people, and I feel honored knowing I was one of them.

Click on the link to enjoy the song, or just scroll past it and read the words. Or do both. In any case, I hope it moves you in some way.

I will always miss you, "Magnus," and hope someday we might meet again.


If I knew then what I know now,
What might I have said?
What might I have changed,
If I knew then what I know now?

Would knowledge have made a difference?
Would I have talked with you longer
On that warm October day when kindness
Had driven me to tears?
Ashamed of my emotion,
I chose not to speak too long.
Thought there'd be time later
Some other day in the future.

If I knew then what I know now,
What might I have said?
What might I have changed,
If I knew then what I know now?

Death comes to all of us;
Sooner for some, later for others.
Life's too often snuffed
In the midst of creation.
The pen halts in mid-stroke,
The guitar falls silent
As Death takes your hand
And you follow.

If I knew then what I know now,
What might I have said?
What might I have changed,
If I knew then what I know now?

So hard to believe you're gone
And I'll not see you again,
Or hear your voice
Sharing thoughts about music.
Recordings are no substitute
For a living, breathing person,
But they'll have to do for now,
'Til the day we meet
On that distant shore.

If I knew then what I know now,
What might I have said?
What might I have changed,
If I knew then what I know now?

CP Warner
23 June 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Drumming on Pentecost, 6-12-2011

I was having fun.
Really, I was.
I need to learn to smile
when I'm playing!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

16 Years Ago Today...

Rory Gallagher lost his valiant fight against...oh, so many struggles!

"...but a Heaven does exist where music lives on eternally, a million miles away, and there he plays on, blazing immortal, though still edged in blue, pacing the boards before a legion of saints..."
Please watch, and enjoy this beautiful performance.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rediscovering Nick Cave

I'm trying to remember exactly when I discovered Nick Cave. Probably around 2001 or 2002, when I had gotten into Shane MacGowan and the Pogues in a big way, and went so far as to purchase a VHS copy of a documentary about Shane. Nick Cave, having collaborated a bit with MacGowan, was one of the people interviewed. He sang part of "A Rainy Night in Soho," accompanied by his own piano playing, and I was captivated.

Not long after that, hubby brought home a copy of Metallica's "Garage Inc," upon which they performed Nick Cave's song, "Loverman." This inspired me to want to hear Cave's original version, so I bought his CD, "Let Love In." That one CD led to the purchase of many more. I really couldn't get enough of his music, thoughts, and poetry, though at the time, I really had to draw the line at his early punk group, "The Birthday Party." I could read the lyrics from those songs in my books of Cave's poetry and enjoy them as poems, but the music stretched me farther than I wanted to be stretched. (Note to self -- find those CDs downstairs and try again!)

One of my all-time favorite Cave CDs is "The Secret Life of the Love Song," which is a series of lectures he gave on songwriting. He covered a fascinating gamut of subjects in these lectures, and performed solo versions of some of his more sensitive songs, so poignantly, accompanied by his own piano playing. I swear, as a writer, I learn something new every time I listen to these lectures, and I really, really love them so much. In fact, it's been awhile since I last listened to them, so I think that will be on the docket today: listen to Nick's lectures while I get some spinning done. Guaranteed, I will hardly notice the passing of time while he speaks.

Nick Cave is such a contradiction in terms. On the one hand, he writes fantastic, beautiful, and often painful love songs. On the other hand, there are works like "O'Malley's Bar," "John Finn's Wife," and "Papa Won't Leave You, Henry," which are gruesome and violent and graphic, and yet...one is riveted to the stories being told. Nick Cave has an extraordinary way with words, and an extraordinary way of delivering those words. Utterly compelling.

"Loverman" is probably one of the scariest love songs I can imagine, and yet...it's hot. VERY hot. The narrator is obsessed to the point of violence.

"L is for love, baby, and O is for only you that I do. And V is for loving virtually all that you are, and E is for loving almost everything you do. R is for rape me, and M is for murder me, and A is for answering all of my prayers. N is for knowing your Loverman's going to be the answer to all of yours."

The question, I suppose, is WHY is that so hot? Cave's delivery is a big part of it, but also the song is incredibly intense. The louder, the better for listening, so one gets completely caught up in the wash of sounds and the violence of the narrator's obsession.
This next one gives me gooseflesh every time I hear it. The studio version on "Abbatoir Blues" is very good, but the live performance ups the ante considerably. "Send your stuff on down to me," is Nick's way of calling down the Muse for inspiration, and his laundry list of famous, inspired writers, artists, and musicians reminds us that no real artist ever has a completely happy life, and answering the call of the Muse involves a certain amount of suffering. Sometimes the Muse will not come. Often, other people don't give a damn about what you've created, directed by the Muse you have no choice but to follow. But ignoring the Muse is Death. If you are a Creator, you require a Muse, and you must Create or die. And if the Muse declines to come when you're on your knees begging, then you either find something positive and constructive to do with your time while you wait, or you fall prey to various demons, which could include depression, drink, drugs...

Well, it's not an easy way, that's for sure, and "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" captures all of that and distills it into one perfect, intense, violent, and gorgeous song.
Part of the reason I love this next one so much is Warren Ellis, the violinist. His hypnotic minimalism is so perfect in this song, and what an experience, to watch him perform! Paganinni gone mad. What a tour de force! And the song itself tells a story and issues a warning after it meanders through an unhappy, confusing day in the life: "Be mindful of the prayers you send. Pray hard, but do pray with care, for the tears you are weeping now are just your answered prayers. The ladders of life we scale merrily move mysteriously around, so when you think you're climbing up, man, in fact you're climbing down."

And yes, Cave is so carried away in the intensity of the performance, he does indeed trip over a monitor speaker and the mic stand and nearly falls. But he carries on without a hitch, and if you heard this strictly as an audio, with no visual, you would never know what happened at 4:40.
Then, after the fierce violence of the preceding numbers, there are moments like this: "Sad Waters." The first time I heard an acoustic version of this, I wept. The studio version does not capture the same feeling at all, and in fact it's barely recognizable as the same song. This version is the quintessential one, and wild Mr. Ellis nicely displays his sensitive side as well, with one of the sweetest-sounding motifs I've ever had the pleasure to hear.
Next is "Brompton Oratory," which has got to be one of the best documents ever, of how difficult it is to separate one's spiritual side from one's worldly side. A man divided. Aren't we all like this to some degree? And in this case, even in the moments of receiving the Holy Eucharist. Amazing. So real. And each person kneeling to receive -- what are their thoughts? What are yours? What are mine?

One of the things I love best about Nick Cave is his perpetual questioning of the spiritual. There are no easy answers, and much conflict, and he is brutally honest about it. Not an easy thing to do, and I admire him for it, and strive towards a similar honesty.

I must confess, it still jars me that the man who wrote "Brompton Oratory" could also have written "O'Malley's Bar." But this, too, testifies to the man's honesty, albeit in a rather frightening way.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Business of Not Working

Except for my new lack of income, being unemployed really isn't so bad. My favorite thing about it is being able to go to my favorite grocery store in the universe, Market Basket. A new store opened just a few miles down the road from me, and it's a nice little rural drive to get there, so I have some time to listen to some good tunes as I travel.

The trouble with Market Basket is, it's SO damn good, if you don't get there fairly early in the morning, you can just forget going at all, if you're like me and HATE being stuck in a crowd. Today I got there a bit later than usual, so it was fairly busy. But even at that, I did a big haul and was out of there in an hour's time.

Their prices are remarkably good, and their fresh produce is to die for. This is the time of year when I crave melons and can't get enough of them. Last week, I scored two "personal" seedless watermelons, and this week got one of the hugest, sweetest cantaloupes I've ever had the pleasure of consuming. Oh, and the red grapes, and the strawberries, and...

My friends, I am doing a lot more cooking, and it's all good, healthy stuff. I have actually LOST about 7 lbs since I quit working in mid-May. Part of that is good quality, healthy, home made food, and part is how much running around I've been doing on a daily basis, catching up with housework.

I find myself looking forward eagerly to making jam again at some point soon. It has been YEARS since I last made any, and I have been CRAVING grapefruit-ginger marmalade, and pear jam, and Italian plum jam.

Our vegetable garden is planted, and I can't wait for the tomatoes, squashes, eggplant, and cucumbers. I've already started plucking some of the herbs for various dishes. Soooooooo good!

Yesterday I managed to cook dinner, do a couple loads of laundry, strip the bed, turn the mattress, spin some yarn, update my shop, AND practice both my drumming, and my guitar/singing. A gloriously full day.

Sunday is Pentecost, and I will be drumming for the Gospel processions. I always enjoy that, and am thinking I need to get back to African drum lessons one of these days. I've missed it, but while working, I did not have the time to practice as much as I needed to, to stay on top of the challenges. If I manage to sell some yarn soon, I think I will use the money to sign up for a series of lessons again. Freeform drum circles are nice, and I do enjoy them, but I need the balance of learning some actual technique, instead of perpetually making up my own rhythms.

Now, to knit or spin? That is the question...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It was the Third of June...

I had never quite forgotten this amazing song, but sometimes it moves into the background for a spell, and then I'm reminded of it, and then it becomes a beautiful surprise all over again. Thanks to my old friend Paul Metsa for bringing it back to mind this time, via Facebook.

No movie ever had to be made for Ode to Billie Joe. The song was evocative enough on its own and needed no embellishment or speculation. What is wrong with some things retaining a sense of mystery?

Bobbie Gentry's cool detachment in performance is what makes this ballad the great piece it is. She's relating a tragic tale from a place of distance, and yet one can hear that the distance is feigned. She has become the young woman who is narrating the tale, and the pain is so close to the surface, yet she is somehow managing to tell her story with as much indifference as she can muster. You can imagine a sole listener having said, "Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts," prior to her launching into the story.

These are the bones of it. The narrator does achieve a certain distance, but in spite of that, one has the sense that Billie Joe's suicide could have happened mere hours before. The young woman seems still in a state of shock, even though she makes it clear at the end that, "A year has come and gone since we heard the news 'bout Billie Joe."

Musically, is there any more eloquent a statement of a long fall than the descending chromatic scale that completes the song? You can almost see the flowers spiraling lazily in the air from the bridge to the muddy water below.

Do treat yourself to a peek at this video, from a live performance on The Smothers Brothers Show, way back in the day. I had never seen this until about a half hour ago. The visual makes it even more poignant.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Sock Design - Do the Bee!

This is the first prototype of my new sock pattern, Do the Bee. I grabbed a skein of what I thought was sock yarn, but it turned out to be sport weight yarn, so I will have to work one in sock yarn now, and recalculate accordingly. This "oops" pair will be mine.
And here is a close-up shot of the eyelet, bee, and honeycomb motifs.
The new pair is being worked in a superwash merino/nylon sock yarn, but I didn't have the right color, so the yarn is still a natural cream color. When the socks are finished, I will either paint them or drop them in a dye kettle. either way, something interesting will transpire. I just don't know exactly WHAT. That is never fully revealed until the socks have been dyed, washed, and dried. No preconceived notions of what the final version might look like are allowed.

Very exciting!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Confession Time: One of My Biggest Fears

I like to wear overalls, a.k.a. farmer jeans. A lot. They are great, all-purpose work pants, and I have worn them, if not quite every day, then often. REALLY often. I bought my first pair six years ago when working for UniStar Textiles, once I realized I would have to do a lot of crawling and climbing over boxes and packing crates, loading tractor trailers, packing and shipping boxes, etc. A few months after that business folded, I went to work "upstairs" at Omni Control Tech, and at first was simply a "grunt," unloading trucks, vacuuming floors, and "organizing" everything my "supervisor" didn't feel like dealing with. It was often filthy, physical work, so I continued to wear overalls. They had many pockets and I could move easily while wearing them.

In all those years of wearing overalls to work, my biggest fear was that one day I would go to use the restroom and drop one of the straps in the toilet within the first hour of the work day, and not be allowed to go home and change. But I was lucky. In six years, that never happened.

Until tonight. I accomplished my "business," stood up and got ready to rebuckle the straps, and saw that the end of one strap was submerged.

Oh, yuck. It was only trailing in watered-down pee, but still...yuck.

Well, at least I was home, and the washing machine was just down the hall...

O, For the Life, For the Life of a Cat...

He has a hard life, this cat of mine.
He would not go anywhere NEAR my bed until I dug out the duvet cover and went through all manner of contortions to get the down comforter INTO said cover. Wrestling a king-size comforter into a king-size cover all by myself was no fun at all, and I certainly did not manage to be very efficient about it. I'm glad no one took a video of me trying to accomplish this task. It would have been embarrassing.
Once all humans had vacated the bed this morning, Steve decided it was the perfect place for him to stretch out. Looks mighty cozy lying there, doesn't he?

His nickname is LB, which stands for "Little Bastard." We pronounce it with a Rhode Island accent for giggles. "L'il Bastid."
I seriously cannot imagine life without this ornery little critter.

And once again, I will post one of my favorite William S. Burroughs quotes, from his essays about cats.

~This cat book is an allegory, in which the writer's life is presented to him in a cat charade. Not that the cats are puppets. Far from it. They are living, breathing creatures, and when any other being is contacted, it is sad: because you see the limitations, the pain and fear and the final death. That is what contact means. That is what I see when I touch a cat and find that tears are flowing down my face.~

Sunday, May 15, 2011

So Far...

Well, it appears that quitting my job was a good thing after all. Still not sure how I'll feel about that when bill-paying time rolls around, but it's really amazing how much more energy I have, no longer living in fear of being fired. The worst has happened. I no longer have a job, and furthermore, I CHOSE not to have a job. I was NOT a victim of an unjust boss' cruel whim. So, though broke, because my final paycheck is already earmarked to pay the last installment on our car insurance, I feel like I am beginning this phase of my life from a place of strength. I do not have to recover psychologically from the trauma of being fired. I do not have to start out feeling like a loser and reject from the get-go. I can just start, feeling like my normal self again, from the get-go.

I know none of this means I won't have my bad days. I do, after all, suffer from chronic depression. It will be interesting to see, though, if my depressive episodes come less frequently. I hope this will be the case, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

At the moment, I am giddy with excitement over the idea that I can go to my favorite market again, when I want to, early in the morning before too many other people are there to make my shopping experience unpleasant. I'm really looking forward to exploring the produce department I loved so much once again. I'm even thinking along the lines of making some good preserves this week. We have not enjoyed grapefruit/ginger marmalade here in a very long time, and I'm craving it. I guess I'll have to be making some soon.

I'm a morning person, and now I don't have to waste the best, most productive hours of my day trying to meet the expectations of an employer whose expectations change from one minute to the next: whose demands become more ridiculous with each passing day.

Yes, we'll be cutting a lot of corners. Yes, we'll be eating a lot of variations of beans and rice. Yes, I'll be counting more than ever upon the success of this summer's home veggie crop. Yes, I'll be working like a maniac spinning yarn, dyeing yarn, knitting small items to sell, and resurrecting Mad Angel Creations. But it will all be good work, done for myself in support of my household. I lost sight of all that for too many years. Now I've begun to reclaim it. This feels very, very good.

The trick now is to pace myself. I'm impatient and want everything done and settled all at once, but that's impossible. One piece at a time, and hopefully my life doesn't end up looking like the Cadillac in Johnny Cash's song.

Oh, well, nothing wrong with a Wild Ride...ain't that right, Mr. Tent?

Friday, May 13, 2011

It Is Finished

"It is finished." Well, that does seem to be the thing to say when one has been crucified, yes?

I am now officially unemployed, by my own choice, because cellphones were forbidden on the production floor where I worked, but I carried one anyway. I have children who are often in crisis, an elderly, ailing mother, and an elderly, ailing mother-in-law. I must be tethered to my cellphone, and I thought that was understood. I was answering to a school-related crisis with my younger daughter when the "general manager," who has been gunning for me for quite some time now, caught me and laid into me WHILE I WAS STILL TRYING TO HAVE A CONVERSATION with the woman who called from the school, in hopes of figuring out the best way to help my daughter along, so she will pass this year and not have to go to summer school or repeat 9th grade.

I thought if I explained it was an emergency, that it would be accepted. I would not even mind if the reprimand had been delivered privately and courteously AFTER I had finished the phone call. But I was read the riot act while I was still on the phone with the woman from the school, and this woman got to hear every bit of the ass-reaming, as did everyone on the production floor. And I was marched into this man's office to finish the phone call. Thankfully, he left me alone with the door closed, and indeed left me alone for the rest of the day, and all day today. But yesterday afternoon, following the incident, he was walking around the place looking very smug and self-satisfied. He done put the b*tch in her place again. All in a good day's work for Captain Clipboard. And even better than putting the b*tch in her place? He done made her cry, too. Score!

This morning during break I found out who threw me under the bus. She couldn't stand not letting me know that a) she had done the deed, and b) would be spying on me and was fully prepared to throw me under the bus again. Up until then, I had been intending to give two weeks' notice on Monday. But to honor a final two weeks under those conditions?

No. Just...no.

I have been a good, conscientious, and loyal worker for nearly six years, but none of that counts for anything in the face of my breaking a rule to take care of a family emergency.

I e-mailed my resignation to the big boss a little while ago, and received a one line "thank you for your dedicated service" message, sent from his blackberry. I did not expect that he would want to know what happened, so I am not disappointed in his response.

I am free.

A little scared from a financial standpoint, but I'm not the main breadwinner here, and I never have been. Somehow, some way, we'll get through this, and I will get back to the business of taking care of my family and household, and myself. In time, I will probably feel like writing again, and I may even attempt to resurrect my yarn business on a small scale.

I am sad because I liked many of the people I worked with, and I will miss those people. But I will not miss the politics or the petty bullsh*t or the mean people.

I am free.

Now, what? There are certainly a lot more possibilities than there were when I was chained to that place...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Profound Bit from Milton

I confess, until this past week, I had been very lax indeed about perusing "Paradise Lost," but after viewing all these great videos of Grant singing "Awake, Arise" on his recent tour, I got excited about it all over again. Spent a fair lot of time listening to the audio book at work last week, and I have been trying to pick up the actual hard copy at least once a day and browse through the pages. Often, something will leap up at me, totally out of context, and insist I take heed.

"Still govern thou my song, Urania; and fit audience find though few."

The footnote at the bottom of the page identifies this as: "A famous phrase expressing Milton's conviction that it is preferable to address even one just man than a world of false men."

An earlier footnote tells me "Urania" is a name Milton uses to identify the Holy Ghost, though technically, Urania is actually the Muse of Astronomy.

"Govern" seems to mean "guide," and I can certainly dig being guided by the Holy Ghost, and do make an effort to hear Her voice when I attempt to create, be it music, or a poem or story.

As for preferring to "address one just man than a world of false men," well, it's what I've been saying all along. "A fit audience though few" means seeking out discerning folks, rather than aiming for mass appeal. I would much rather "a fit audience though few" of folks who actually get it, than worldwide appeal and an overabundance of material riches.

Being free to create as I wish, and listen for the voice of inspiration -- sometimes subtle, sometimes not -- is worth more to me than millions of dollars and designer clothes and fancy cars.

And those discerning few who occasionally take the time to tell me I have touched them in some way?

Treasure upon which no price can be placed.

It was a beautiful thing, to find this jewel of wisdom within the depths of "Paradise Lost."

Kitty Pics and Music

This is Steve, our big, fluffy, angry-looking kitty. I'm very thankful I'm no longer allergic to cats, because I've really gotten attached to this boy since he came to live with us. It would break my heart to have to give him up, but it seems that will not happen. I'm still careful to wash my hands after playing with him, so I don't forget and rub my eye, or something stupid like that. My eyes DO still respond to cat fur in a bad way, but I can live with that, as long as it no longer bothers my lungs.
I am slowly -- VERY slowly -- getting used to this new haircut. Hubby hates it, though. Too short for his likes, but I'm liking how easy it is to take care of. There's not even enough to comb. It is, quite literally, wash and go. No fuss, no muss.
I was blessed with some quality "alone time" this morning while the family was off at church, and of course I plugged in the Tascam and got down to business. "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You" is one of my favorite Tom Waits songs, and I basically don't give a damn that it's a guy's song. I love it anyway. The man in my soul is using my voice, and I'm OK with that.

I am up to six tracks now. I sang the song in unison three times on three separate tracks, and recorded two guitar parts on two separate tracks, and added some discreet djembe action on one track. It came together pretty quickly, and I was already doing the final mix-down by the time the family came home. All in all, quite a productive morning and I am well satisfied.

Today my heart goes out to a dear friend who lost his mom earlier this year. Mother's Day will be a tough one for him to get through, I think, so he's in my thoughts and prayers even more than usual. I miss his mom, too, but my grief is nothing compared to his.

Please, God, let him not be overwhelmed by it, and make him aware of ALL the love that surrounds him...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spindle Spun Yarn - Oceania

Ever since I closed up my virtual shop, I've had a great time diving into my own yarn and fiber stash. This yarn was spindle spun from one of my own blended batts. I believe there was some blue wool and some green, both hand dyed by me, plus a bit of blue mohair I bought from someone online last year, and a bit of white silk noil top. It does remind me of ocean waves, hence the name, "Oceania."
This is probably my finest gauge 2-ply yarn ever. I began with 1.55 ounces of blended fluff and ended up with a total of 276 yards. It will, no doubt, end up being some kind of lace scarf, probably in some kind of shell or wave stitch, and if I go with a wave stitch, I made add some clear beads as well, for weight and sparkle. This could be quite the elegant piece when all is said and done.

I am still utterly gobsmacked at the amount of yardage I got. If I did the math right, that works out to approximately 178 yards PER OUNCE!

I might just have a Big E entry on my hands. It would be very cool to score a blue ribbon and/or another best of show.

I guess I'd better wash and block the skeins first, before I start fantasizing!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oops!

I told the hairdresser to take it down to a quarter of an inch. Does this look like a quarter of an inch to YOU?
It doesn't to me, either. Welcome to the wonderful world of "Oh, Sh*t, What Have I Done?"
Well, it's just hair, after all, and I do have a large collection of festive knitted caps, which will hide a multitude of mistakes.
I'm not sure how I feel about this, but I do think I now know for sure that I never want to shave my head 100%.

The oh-so-attractive discoloration on one side of my forehead is indeed a bruise. If it were Art and needed a title, I would call it "Blind Girl Unexpectedly Meets Bookshelf on a Bleary Friday Morning Just Before Work." Hurt like hell, but at least it's fading quickly.

My hubby is going to have a fit. He thought the last haircut was too short!

Lesson learned. I am going to buy my own damn clippers and mow my own head from now on.

I'm actually laughing about this, folks. It's only hair, and in three weeks' time, it will look semi-normal again. Really...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Of Jellybeans and Klutziness...

This past Thursday, one of our technicians, an older lady who is a certified curmudgeon and grumbles a lot, but whom I rather like in spite of the grumbling, brought in a big jar of jellybeans to share this week. “They suck,” she explained, “but if anyone wants them, go ahead. I’m not gonna eat ’em.”
Her friend who also works with us, further "encouraged" us by saying, “Try the red ones. They really suck. Try one, and you’ll see what I mean.”
I was game for a little something sweet, so first went digging for black ones – there were NONE – then settled for a modest handful of the other colors. The red ones were not totally awful, just tasted a bit like cough medicine.
“So, what flavor do you think that is?” the friend asked me.
“Robitussin DM,” I replied, happy that they kept my jaws occupied whilst two of my male co-workers bickered about politics, and who was interrupting who. I thought about how pleasant it might be to knock their two thick heads together, and fervently wished that the monologist of the two would take up smoking and go outside for a good portion of our break, or at least stop eating lunch at my table. I even thought it might be better to listen to the other expound about American Idol (FEH!!!!) than to listen to the monologist.
So, how desperate was I for decent conversation? Enough to be happy with crummy jellybeans, my knitting, and a nostalgic wish for some talk about music, even if it wasn’t MY sort of music. Something. Anything.
Alas, no amount of wishing made it happen, and when the bell rang, I thought, “Damn it, I need a reward for sitting through that.”
Juggling my knitting in one hand to free up the other as I passed the table where the jellybeans had been left, I reached for the jar. It was heavier than I anticipated, and the lid had not been screwed on tightly. Oh, sh*t.
There was no way to be discreet about a heavy jar rolling off the table, with jellybeans exploding around the room, bouncing off walls and windows, and rolling under tables and chairs. Busted!
Everyone in the next room heard and started laughing. “You wanted them all for yourself,” someone yelled.
“No,” I called back, “I didn’t. I wanted to sneak a few, but I guess God punished me for having mean thoughts.”
More laughter. My face turned five shades of purple, and the usual post-lunch hot flash came on with more of a vengeance than usual as I crawled under tables and picked the damn things up. There are a LOT of jellybeans in a one-pound jar, and I managed to spill the entire f*cking lot of them. And in our place, no one believes in the five-second rule. It’s just not a chance anyone would willingly take, so into the garbage those jellybeans went, and back to my bench I went, staggering under a load of Guilt and Remorse.
We have so few pleasures in our workplace, and even jellybeans that suck make folks happy. We take what we can get.
Still red in the face and hot-flashing like mad, I sat down and picked up a cable, and promised, “I’ll make this up to you guys. I’ll bring in some Jelly Bellies tomorrow.”
“Aw, you don’t have to do that,” the giver said. “Those other ones were sh*t. I don’t care.”
“Yeah, they sucked,” her friend agreed.
But my mind was made up. I brought in some Jelly Bellies yesterday, and a good time was had by all, and I did NOT end up throwing them all ’round the cafeteria again.
Needless to say, I will never attempt picking up any kind of container one-handed again.
And it was true, anyway: those other jellybeans DID suck, AND there were NO black ones!
There WERE a few black ones amongst the Jelly Bellies, however, and I was able to secure a few of those for myself. Naturally, I thought of Harpo Marx as I savored them, and realized my little mishap with the jar could have been worse. It COULD have been a five-pound bag...
P.S. -- I still don't give a rat's arse about Ryan Seacrest, whoever he is...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Balance?

I thought I would go out of my mind at lunch today. The same co-worker who informed me last week that Black 47 blows has now informed me that my life is out of balance. Why? Apparently, for the simple reason that I do not watch enough TV to know who Ryan Seacrest is.

To (sort of) paraphrase Ayn Rand and add my own withering commentary:

Who is Ryan Seacrest? And why the f* ck do I care?

It is very bad, I was told, to be so uninformed as I in regard to current events (which includes American Idol, of course). Why, the end of the world could be coming, or the Revolution, or the Bilderberg Group is about to really take over the world for once and for all, and I, who can't abide television and never watch the news, would have no idea.

I am out of touch with reality. I need balance in my life. I need to watch television every minute I am not at work.

It seems to me that someone else's life is just as far out of balance in a direction completely the opposite of mine. Too much television, too much paranoia, too many conspiracy theories, and too much belief in American Idol being the litmus test for true talent.

Oh, puh-LEEZE!

I don't even want to get into any of the political discussions that go on at my lunch table.

I'm annoyed with myself, because I'm too nice to be rude and just up and leave. I have no wish to offend anyone, but the offenders feel no such obligation to me. Shouldn't that nullify my obligation to them?

I suppose if I did not bring knitting to do, I would get up and walk out, but...I have my knitting, and the latest project is one for which I must follow a chart, and pay close attention row by row. It helps me shut out some of the bullsh*t. Not all, but some, which I suppose is better than nothing.

I am weary of being called "Mrs. Hüsker Dü" every time I walk into the cafeteria. It's really getting a bit tedious, especially since I am merely a friend/fan of Grant Hart's, and I delved into Hüsker Dü because I wanted to hear more of Grant's work. That I dig all the music of Hüsker Dü is simply icing on the cake. I wish I could find a really abrasive video of them doing Grant's fabulous-but-short song "What Do I Want?" Instead, here are two videos from Grant's recent concerts in Europe. The first is "Awake, Arise," which is from his upcoming "Paradise Lost" project. This is easily the most powerful version of this song I've ever heard him do. If I had to guess, I'd say this is the prologue to the work, but I could be wrong. Still, it's an amazing performance. He just looks like he's calling down some kind of Power from Above, and I love his fleeting little smirk at the end, when he's through with the words and the guitar is just sustaining on and on with that final chord. He done good, and knew it, or more likely, he reached the high standard he set for himself that night, and was pleased with that accomplishment.

Next up is "Remains to Be Seen," another favorite of mine, and once again, an amazing and passionate performance.
American Idol? Feh. If one likes cookie-cutter music, fine. I guess it serves a purpose. Not everyone can be as intense a music geek as I am. I overanalyze absolutely everything I listen to, with the possible exception of songs like this next one. Romanian Disco at its finest, and one of the happiest, funniest songs I know, even if I haven't a clue what the words mean.
For something a little deeper, here's one that has been haunting me for awhile now. I "won" a copy of this CD by making a donation to WNHU. I wanted to help keep Mr. Tent's Wild Ride going strong, and for a $20 contribution, I got two CDs from their archives. Mr. Tent chose this XTC album for me, along with Devo's latest. I've been enjoying both, but this song, "Rook," really tweaked the old melancholia in a good way, especially: "If I die and I find that I had a soul inside, promise me that you'll take it up on its final ride." God, how that moves me!
None of these songs would make it on American Idol, no matter who sang them. "Numa Numa" is just silly fun, but Grant's songs and the XTC song have way too much substance for diehard American Idol fans to digest.

Don't get me wrong. American Idol serves a purpose, and lots of people enjoy it. But why am I made to feel like I'm suffering from some sort of deficiency because it fails to speak to me? Ever heard the expression, "To each his own?"

I would rather hear Grant while he's fighting laryngitis than an American Idol singer at his or her peak.

Or Jello Biafra ad-libbing his amusing tale, "Night of the Living Redneck."

Or Larry Kirwan chanting about Bridie and the "Funky Ceili."

Or Rory Gallagher wailing out "I Fall Apart."

Or Joe Bonamassa oozing pain and loneliness with "Sloe Gin."

Why have a Fluffernutter when you can have a good, hearty bowl of stew? The stew will keep you going longer. The Fluffernutter? Well, doesn't it leave you feeling hungry again in fifteen minutes?

I rest my case.