Friday, July 27, 2007

Long Week

It's been a long, trying week. Last weekend, naturally, was Harry Potter Weekend. I spent Sunday not reading it by knitting a version of the Animal Crackers hat from the aforementioned Harry Potter Knits book, then found out I did it all wrong. Well, right by the book's pattern, wrong by the actual hat in the movie. Sigh. I must do it all over again. Oh, well. Since I did one in four hours last Sunday, I know I can do another one in short order.

I've also been watching a lot of French films. Now, I know what you will think: How far will she go in her obsessive quest to see Gaspard Ulliel kiss another guy?* The answer is: I'm limited in that quest by the holdings of my online rental agency (the one with stores, too.) Alas, they do not seem to specialize in hot pretty-boy-on-pretty-boy action as far as I can tell, unless you could Y Tu Mama Tambien, which was probably where my particular prediliction began. That scene was hot, and you know I wouldn't argue if told I got to be in a Diego Luna/Gael Garcia Bernal sandwich. That had to have been the best day of Ana Lopez Mercado's life.

Anyway. I watched a set of very disparate films, and my mind is spinning. First I started with Amelie, a cheery little film that was entertaining and uplifting. Then I switched to Strayed (Les Egares, only add a bunch of accent marks over the vowels.) The change in thematic matter was a bit jarring, although I did get to see some interesting sights, heh, heh, heh. The third movie I watched, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, was not what the box promised. In my opinion, that is. The box text seemed to promise a dark comedy--or perhaps that was just the picture they used of Samuel Le Bihan. They chose a picture of him that looked...vaguely flustered and befuddled by the gamine, smiling Audrey Tatou. No, no it's not a black comedy, although black is certainly apt. And gamine isn't the word for Audrey Tatou's character--nutjob, psychobitch, your worst nightmare...those are far more apt descriptions of her character. I can't believe no one in the movie knew it, really she's good at doing crazy eyes. Then again, it wasn't much different than the character Amelie, who, herself, is a bit nuts.

I've been taking a break from knitting and reading (after the trauma of Harry Potter--no, no, I really can't speak of it anymore now) and am just...hanging out. Watching, interestingly enough, The Fifth Element, the movie in which I discovered that even Gary Oldman can suffer from a heinously bad haircut. It's the Diva's solo at moment, the lovely song from Lucia DiLammermore.

Sigh, and yet again sigh. I had wine with dinner and it has slightly dazzled my mind. Perhaps I shall go and fetch my root beer and Haagen Dasz and settle in for an evening with the telly. Bubby Dog has settled in for the night. He snores on the rug behind me.

*Don't ask me why I want to see him get some hot nooky from another pretty boy, it probably has to do with the extremely creepy and scary turn he did as the baby Hannibal. Come on, you know you want to see it, too.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Proof of Scarf

While today is the actual anniversary of the day Nieceling was birthed, I caved. Last night, her parents were attending a concert, and so I had possession of the children. Mbwahahahaha. Anyway, they decided they wanted to attend cinema--Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix--and Nieceling, having full knowledge of her gift, wanted to wear the scarf in honor of the event. So I presented it to her and she promptely swaddled herself up like a Dickensian office worker despite the balmy, 80 degree F weather. I grabbed my camera before we left so that I could get pictures of the thing for this blog, before it vanishes into her closet. Hence:

A close-up of the dangly-bobs at the bottom. I'm actually pretty proud of the larger photo (see below, apologies for the rotational difficulties.)

Looks nice wrapped around the bannister, no? They should use it for Halloween decor or something.

Then again, looks nice wrapped around a bashful Nieceling, too.

Evil Debbil Bunny approves. Actually, he's rather nice, for a rabbit. His name is Hassenpfeffer. No, no, I tease. His name is Snickers. He was highly impressed by the knitting on display. Really. This is his look of intense excitement. Which is rather like his look of boredom.

Anyway, I've got HP7 in my possession right now, but I'm loathe to read it. There's something so infinitely sad about the end of this particular era. I know I will have to read it, if only because eventually some idiot will spoiler it for me out of ignorance of the fact that I'm avoiding it, but. It's so impossibly bittersweet. I will finally know if Snape is good or evil or indifferent. I will know who lives and who dies. And I will know Harry's ultimate fate. I rather like the uncertainty. Right now, it's like a literary Schroedinger's Box--Snape is both good and evil, Harry lives and he dies, it ends happily and is a great tragedy--and the end is not yet determined because I haven't opened the cover. Ok, yeah, that was a bit far-fetched, but you know what I mean.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More scarfage.

I've finished up the body of the hated scarf and am working on the feathers now. I'll probably get two of the three that are knitted in today, then tomorrow the last knitted in and the tied on feathers. I'll be so glad to see the back of this darn thing.

Compound that by the fact that I had to move my stitches to a stitch holder so I could knit it in sections and I dropped every single stitch that was supposed to be on the holder. I think I used all the swear words in all combinations I've ever known, and a few that are completely new. Thank the Gods of Knitting that I finished the first feather and went back to pick up the stitches, or I'd have been royally screwed. And that no young, impressionable listeners were nearby. I'm fairly certain I recaptured them all, but it makes me nervous. I can't see the damn things between the fur and feathers, and it's turning into the scarf from hell. Very appropriate color for it, I must say.

And, to highlight how ill with yarn addiction I have become--little yarn whore that I am--I have photographic proof that my addiction is harming those I love most, in particular, my canid son. Witness:

Can you see it? Can you? Wait:

PHOENIX SCARF FUZZ! The worst part is he wasn't even aware of it. I am so ashamed. The first step is to admit you have a problem; I do. The second is to surrender your stash to a higher power, which is not happening. Oh, well. I'll just have to learn how to hide the signs of addiction: bags under the eyes from staying up late to bind off, calluses on the fingertips from the needles, bruises on the upper thigh from where I brace my left hand needle. Maybe it won't interfere with my work life or relationships. Yeah, yeah. I'm totally in control of my need for yarn. Totally.

(I'm so hosed....)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Oh, how I'm loving the scarf.

This is the beginnings of the Nieceling's birthday scarf, aka the Phoenix Tear's scarf from the Harry Potter Knits book. I'm so loving the process of knitting this scarf! The yarn is simply too easy to knit up! Why, I think I'll be done with the remaining two feet of scarf in less than an hour! [/sarcasm]
Seriously, folks, I can see why the crap was on clearance. Not that I'm not proud to have found a fabulous yarn that was hella-cheap (the yarn for the scarf, plus extra, only cost something like $8) but it's driving me up the wall. The furry part is irritating, and the only reason I haven't caved and got her something else is because now I'm doing garter with both fur and feathers held together. *shakes head* I can cope. It's dull, but I can cope. If she doesn't like it for whatever reason, I'll beat the child. Seriously.
And since when is knitting in flame red a good idea? The eye strain is wretched. :-p

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Musings on Creativity

Twice this week, I have been confronted by the concept of my creative pursuits and the place they fill in my life. And as Stan might say, I learned something today.

To speak of my creativity as something outside of me, or separate from the greater "me" (or the Ego, if you will) is not accurate. What little creativity I possess--although in my kinder moments, I believe it to be rather sizeable in amount--is what integrates the three parts of my mind. It brings together all of my rather chaotic and noisy voices, gives them all something to do, gives them a group project, so to speak, and in many ways brings me to inner peace. To go all Freudian (because in this case, it's the only framework that fits, really,) my mind is made up of three parts: Super Ego (inner judge, aka Prudence), Ego (the me that sits behind my eyes and drives) and the Id (basic drives, glandular hey-nonny-nonny, aka Nimue.) Nimue starts it out by driving me nuts with daydreams and fantasies, visions that are compelling to me, thoughts that are mostly impure and always amusing. Slightly vulgar and half-formed, these ideas are sent to the fore-mind (aka, me) and I then ask Prudence what she thinks. She will clean up the grammar (she is my Grammar Nazi), spelling, figures out what it will take to bring those inner visions to light (including editing for content) and gives me the 'plan' for developing it in the outer world to show others. Nimue then pouts for a few minutes, revises, sends her edits back, and so on and so forth until I step in and actually put the plan into action.

For a creative, artistic endeavour, there is an awful lot of logic going on, internal bickering and doing by committee. But moreso than anything else in my life--my family, my job, my friends--being creative, creating art, is the only time when I am completely integrated into one Being, and when I hit my 'flow'--that magical state when time suspends and I am absolutely content.

Now, I should point out that while the things I do may never see the light of day, or may not be to your taste, does not make them any less art. Art, in its most basic self, is an external representation of an authentic feeling or experience of the artist/creator. Which is why when I read stuff presented to me as 'literature', nine times out of ten my skin crawls, because a lot of what is considered 'literature' by the talking heads is so...posed. Unnatural. Verbal topiary, if you will. While there is a place for form and shape--I quite realize that some tropes are tropes for a reason; things do not necessarily mean the same thing to me as they do to you, and that's a topic for another day--I get the feeling that many of those books are written by English Majors who feel that that story is what Should Be Written. Bollocks. Very little of what is in them is authentic to the writer. It's just depressing Victoriana, recited back by good little boys and girls obeying the dicatates of their teachers. Which is why I believe the very best writers aren't trained to be writers, they're storytellers who learn how to write well.

To be certain, you must, if you wish to carry your story to the outside world, learn to write well. Skill is something that can be acquired if one is determined enough, and is truly secondary to the belief in the validity and importance of your inner vision. Now, "vision" is a loaded word, and quite often is nothing more deep and meaningful than "parties are nice." But if you truly, with every fiber of your being, believe that parties are nice, parties are necessary, parties are the secret of life as we know it, and you can write it that way--I may believe you, even though in my experience, parties suck. Seriously. I've never attended a fun one. Perhaps it's me. Back to my point....

Art is a complicated thing--it is a debate using skills and equipment that most high school debaters wouldn't dream of using to make their points, and while most people will disagree on the aesthetics, most can recognize art when they see it. Still and all, that's what it is. So perhaps creativity is simply the feeling that your inner vision is important, is valid, is worth making solid and real in the outside world.

Of course, it is worth pointing out that this, then, naturally makes art anything that reflects someone's authentic self. If you are an accountant, an Accountant to the innermost core of your being, a well-balanced set of books can be your art. If you are a builder, the house can be your creative contribution to the greater world. Any time you bring your inner vision to life, you make art. Runners doing the perfect sprint. Mailmen, getting the mail to the correct houses on time or early. Archivists, putting documents in order just so. Anything. Personally, I tend to write or play with textiles. I'm thinking of branching out into clay, because I've got some 'found' objects that are just begging for a three-dimensional display. I don't know that there's an office in the world that can contain my sort of visions, but there are many people out there, doing jobs in offices, who feel they aren't creative because they aren't dabbling with paints, and that is simply not true. The desk worker, if s/he is doing work in touch with his or her inner truth, is creating art. Art of a different level, to be sure, and not considered art by most, but art nonetheless. Because that is their inner vision-a job well done. Well-done filing is a thing of beauty, too. Just ask anyone who has tried to find 6 month old paperwork that they suddenly need.

And since art, being an inner vision brought to life through whatever means are to hand, is an act of creativity, by definition, all humans are creative. Perhaps I'm not the only person whose inner voices are bound by the spirit of creativity. I believe this is the tiny spark of the divine that we all carry, that little voice that tells us to make things, whatever they may be.

With that thought, I must now go walk my dog. He's calling me to become one with the trees and the evening wind. He's a bit of a poet like that.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Random Musings to the Tune of Bear Grylls

Why do I always sound slightly high on something when I decide to post? Yeesh. Granted, I am ever so slightly nuts, so perhaps "high" would be a nice change of pace for me. Well, to be honest, I'm only slightly neurotic. I have no problems with reality aside from it sucking. As you maybe can tell, I've had some book-learnin' in 'headology'. I find it a nice framework to think about how I think, which is a bit solipsistic, but a little solipsism can be good for you now and then.

And that bit about being high is beyond ironic, when you consider that, while I can hold my vodka exceptionally well, mild stimulants wreak major damage. Considering the godawful buzz I get off my mint tea (Bigelow Plantation Mint--faboo with honey, at least until my legs start to phase in and out of existance,) you can bet I'll never make a good crack whore. And certain depressants--sedatives in particular--make me anxious. Yes, my inner control freak can panic under 1mg of Clonazepam, and boy, does it suck. My mind is running in circles, making tiger butter around my brain stem, while my body is stuck in first. I HATE that feeling.

Double bonus points if you get the tiger butter reference. That is the trippiest, passive-aggressive-est children's book ever. EVER. You should all go out and read it.

Anyway, I get up to lots of things when I'm avoiding my knitting, and right now I'm not knitting the scarf for the Neiceling. So, my other hobbies, let me show you them.

1) Reading. I love reading. I read about four to five books per week, fewer when I'm reading something chewy. Typically, I like fantasy, science fiction and romance novels, because I enjoy the fantastic in my fiction. I'm inordinately fond of Harry Potter, and I'm in pre-mourning for whatever characters bite the big one in the last book, because after the end of Book 6, hooo, boy, I know it's gonna be a kick in the head! And I want to point out that, as a dedicated fan of the genre, I'm allowed to refer to romance novels as "trashy." The Smart Bitches tell me so.

2) Writing. Actually, I'm supposed to be doing a project for my 'creativity' teacher (he's my voice/piano/personal creativity coach, so he doesn't really fall under the heading "piano teacher" anymore, although that's what I tell my co-workers because it's great shorthand) that involves putting my portfolio of short stories together for him to review, arranging them as logically as possible with titles and stuff. As you can see, I'm right on that. :-p Actually, you can usually tell what I should be doing at any given point in time because I'm generally not doing it. When I'm supposed to be practicing piano, I'm knitting. When I should be knitting, I'm writing because the Muse is biting. When I think I should be writing, I can generally be found cross stitching somewhere, and my poor little piano is left sobbing in a corner all alone (a thought that's enough to prod me into practicing tonight.) I'm dependable like that. You'd think I could use this self knowledge to fake myself out and get myself where I should be at any given time, but no. I can generally out-think myself. Sigh.

3) Music. In theory, I've had over 10 years of voice lessons (not that you can really tell), and I've taken up piano. I love music, listening to it, thinking about it, trying to make it. I take it quite for granted, usually, except for when I think about the one time I lost it. We don't talk about the Dark Time anymore, not if we can help it.

4) Edutelly. Which is where Bear Grylls comes into this. Do you know who this nutjob is? Right now, I'm watching him battle what might have been tropical dysentery in the middle of what looks like the Amazon (although he just said something about the river carrying him out into the Pacific, so maybe East Asia?) Crazy. Crazy, crazy dude. He just ate raw crayfish, too. Last week, I watched him walk out of Iceland and the Everglades (two different episodes). The best part of this show is that he may be straining water out of animal droppings or falling down a glacier, but his droll, British voice-over keeps speaking as if it's nothing more taxing than tardy tea.

I love a lot of edutainment shows, actually. Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs, Cities of the Underground. I don't like "normal" television shows--the dramas bore me, the sitcoms frighten me, and there's really nothing else, unless I want to go for bored, anorexic housewives/single women in the city in heat who frustrate me with their apparent ability to make money in their basements, because they have no obvious jobs that would possibly keep them in the style to which they are accustomed. I do like BBC dramas--they tend to have a story arc (a beginning, a middle and an end) and the actors actually look like real people instead of overgrown Barbie dolls. They don't even Botox their faces into submission, so they can actually, you know, use their features to show emotion. Even ugly, fat and old people get to have sex on the BBC, so you know I'm all over that. Any country that puts gratuitous butt shots of wrinkly old dudes having sex with their rather schlumpy middle aged mistresses in morgues (and then killing her husband when he walks in on them with a candlestick)* is fabulous by me. God save the Queen.

5) Cooking. Which is a really good thing, considering how much processed food contains soy and how sick soy makes me. I actually need to make my dinner now--it had to be put off, because it's going to be calzones, which contain cheese and I can't have cheese within two hours of my antibiotic. Bear isn't eating anything weird at the moment, so I've still got my appetite. He's sliding down a rock face, trying to break his neck. *eye roll*

Must go make my calzones now. It's Friday, and Most Haunted comes on at 10.

*This happened in an episode of Midsommer Murders, and later episodes featured a gangster with a rather blown moll--seriously, she had great legs, but with her bottle-blonde hair looked about 60--and Orlando Bloom getting stabbed in the gut with a pitchfork**. I freakin' love that show!

**Don't get me wrong, I like Orlando Bloom. He's very pretty, and I have nothing against pretty boys--I rather like them, actually. I just think he needs to get messed up in a movie. Something scarring to the face. He needs some street cred. If he does a remake of The Elephant Man, maybe the guys would stfu about his prettiness and I could just enjoy the movie, yes?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Sunny afternoon.

It's actually a beautiful day outside, sunny, breezy, perhaps a little muggy, but not like your typical midwestern July afternoon, which is sort of like being slapped in the face with a wet towel. And I'm sitting inside, typing in my blog. :-p Actually, I'm on doctor's orders to avoid "strong sunlight" due to the heinous antibiotic ("antibacterial" as my mom calls it) that I am taking to kill the nasal invaders. I'm actually feeling a bit better. Still out of sorts, because the narsty mold that was stirred up (which clogged up the sinuses that gave me the infection, that swallowed the fly) was still stirring about at work. Lovely. Oh, well. I have tomorrow off, so after I take DeNephew to see Transformers (which I am looking forward to more than he, primarily because I loved, loved loved that cartoon when I was but little more than his age now) maybe I can get some knitting done.

As you can guess, this past weekend was a wash. I did a lot of sitting on my glutes and a lot of reading. I did a bit of a 'splurge' at the bookstore on Friday (curses! They sucked me in with discount mantitty novels and they trapped me in the science fiction section) so I had some reading to do anyway. Two trashy novels, a movie novelization (guess which one; I'm a sucker for Alan Dean Foster--he could rewrite the manual for my VCR and I'd probably read it) and a mystery book for my mom, who I was late meeting for dinner because of said bookstore distraction. Sigh. And no furtherance of my evil plots against humanity. I'm really falling down on the job, aren't I. Actually, my plots were never really evil. A little perverted, slightly twisted, yes, but not evil. Not per se. Unless making hale and hearty young men dress up like Dr. Frank N. Furter is evil. *makes innocent eyes* Granted, no one can wear it like Tim Curry did, but oh, I can hope.

Anyway. These are the projects on my needles right now, in order of when I started them:

This was my first "real" project, a rug. As you can see, it's making very little progress. It's a b*tch knitting with that eyelash and novelty yarn. And garter stitch gets...tiresome. VERY tiresome. For thirdly, it was a gift for a certain aunt of mine, begun before she insulted me. I've forgiven her, really, she was under stress and a bit out of her right mind at the time, but you can see how I might have lost my motivation.

This was a scarf for my mother which I'd begun during the wrist warmers phase, flush with my success at M1 and YO. Yes, I'm a beginner, how can you tell? :-) Anyway, it's being created in a homespun type yarn, which I greatly dislike. I can't figure out how to keep it from winding up tighter and tighter and tighter as I go along, and it irritates. So:

I need the needles for my neice's scarf, anyway. I'll come back to it, when I figure out the damned yarn. It's really very lovely, if I can manage to work with it.

I apologize for the tilt. I can't figure out how to rotate once I've downloaded, which I would think is possible, but I'm new to Blogger. Anyway, this is a dishcloth. I do them for practice, for stitch work, for my future kitchen, which will be blue and have a really sweet pastry mixer of my very own and no soy anywhere. I'm allergic. No, really. I have to be very careful what I touch in high-end yarn shops. Anyway, they're easy and a dishcloth just like this was my first completed project. So I bear a distinct fondness for them.

I'm sure you can tell from the colors what this is going to end up being. It's perfect for mindless knitting--it's endless garter stitch, but I do have to watch my counts and tie in. Cool. Of course, it calls for 19 stripes, each stripe is 18 rows long, and knitting in the round is a new skill I'm not loving. Makes my hands cramp.

My latest notion: attempt felting. I like this wool (it comes off a sheep's butt, so it's ok) and I'm going to NYC this fall, and wanted a new bag to carry. This, this wee, humble beginning, will be a purse. And I'm going to wind really fine jeweler's wire into the strap, so the pickpockets/cut purses (literally, in this case) can't slice it. Sweet.

Well, as you can see, I've got quite a lot to be doing at moment, including a project I'm waiting on to arrive in my mailbox (a cross stitch for my boss that says "of course I care,"), and a book I bought online (second hand--I read the author's second book and realized I needed the first which had, alas, gone out of print) and I'm still feeling a bit sluggish so I need to get my neti pot out and cleanse. I should just let you Wiki it, but here you go: Neti Pot.