Monday, January 28, 2008

Yes, I Did

I did go Veg. Back in December. There's an article on by Mark Bittman that sums up exactly why - minus the overfishing aspect. If you don't want to read the whole article the high points are these (there are three, in case you don't want to read them either):
  1. "...assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests."
  2. "...if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius."
  3. "Because the stomachs of cattle are meant to digest grass, not grain, cattle raised industrially thrive only in the sense that they gain weight quickly. This diet made it possible to remove cattle from their natural environment and encourage the efficiency of mass confinement and slaughter. But it causes enough health problems that administration of antibiotics is routine, so much so that it can result in antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten the usefulness of medicines that treat people."
The American-style meat industry has global negative impacts which are thoroughly covered in the article itself.

I love eating meat, especially bacon, but my "tasty" versus "worried" ratio turned over. I'm not militant about it. I'll eat meat (or fish) if I'm at someone's house and that's what they made or if the alternative is deep fried wads. I'm not trying to convince anyone else to go veg either. I'm just showing all four of my readers how I finally got worried enough that my mental discomfort overcame my sense of physical discomfort.

Fay, however, will always be a carnivore.

On a more cheerful note, my friend Jill told me about the "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World" cookbook. Cupcakes are not bacon (there's no substitute for bacon) but they sure are tasty and enticing. I'm getting really hungry looking at the Customer Images on Amazon.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Me clean today. spend hours scrubbing fridge. "What that smell?" "Can't find it!" take fridge apart "SCRUB!!!!"

Me kill smell! Still not know what was.

Go see rock 'n' roll tonight at Plough. Pete's band. Hope brain returns by then. If not, no big -- Rock!

Brain like this when dig holes all day too. Gardening. dig up rocks. Gets migraine sometimes. Let go of stress, focus on task, get migraine. Bad news but what can do? Must dig holes.

More kitchen clean tomorrow. dirty kitchen.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Knitting Pete's "Candy Corn" Socks

I've been making and making and making rather than blogging lately.

In fact I have to go check the brownies I have in the oven. Be right back...

Not ready yet.

But here's a shot of Pete's socks in that special "Candy Corn" yarn I was talking about. As you can see I'm making them "toe up" using a pattern from Interweave Knits Summer 2007. The cast-on took me about half an hour and lots and lots of cursing to figure out. More thorough instructions and one or two more illustrations might have helped. On the other hand if the instructions were clearer I wouldn't get to feel as proud of myself for figuring out what they meant.

I haven't cussed that much in quite a while. It was fun. You start with twelve stitches on three splinter-sized double-pointed needles (six stitches on one and three and three on the other two) and do four "make one" increases each round until the point where you make four "make one" increases every other round. It was so annoying! I got so tense that I broke one of my needles.* The person who wrote the pattern said that one of the best things about it is that you don't have to work the Kitchener stitch. Personally I'd rather do the Kitchener stitch over one twelve-stitch row than have to do so many rounds of tiny Make One's.

There is one great thing about this pattern: a table explaining how many increases to make for a range of gauges and foot sizes. That is very helpful since Pete and I have big feet.

The main reason I'm using this toe-up pattern is that I'm paranoid about running out of yarn. I'm always paranoid about it. I always make swatches because I tend to be a loose knitter. If the gauge isn't right I'll unravel the swatch and do it over. When I finally get the swatch right I'll unravel that one too and use the yarn again in the main project. I'm not sure that the small amount of yarn I save makes any difference in the end but it does make me feel better.

At this point I've done all the toe increases and I'm just doing plain rounds until I get to the heel. I think the hard part is over. Honestly I have enjoyed the challenge. It seems that I tend to pick projects based on the fact that I'd like to own the sweater. This can lead to some pretty dull knitting since I like kind of plain sweaters. All the effort and extra cussing that this pattern required was kind of refreshing.

In other knitting news I ordered some of that Noro sock yarn and it has arrived. It's beautiful but it's also got the diameter of thread. Hopefully the colors will keep me going.

*I broke the point off about two inches down. It's a 7" wooden needle so I think I'll just sand down the jagged edge and keep using it as a 5"er.

Monday, January 14, 2008


This stuff is infernal. It gets everywhere. It has inspired the first song I'll ever write (I haven't written it yet) entitled "I Crap Glitter." I haven't actually checked to see if this is literally true but it wouldn't surprise me.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday Times

Today is, in my opinion, a good day to pick up a copy of the New York Times. I'm not going to do it myself though. That would involve a ten-minute drive and as usual, I'm feeling stingy about my time.

Here's what I read online today:

Guy Trebay on Carla Bruni.
Caitlin Flanagan on the unfortunate price of sexuality for teenage girls.
Steven Pinker on Moral Instinct. That one's 8 pages long. I guess I wasn't so stingy with my time in reading it. But there is a difference between spending ten minutes driving and ten minutes feeding my head.

I have to say that I admire the way that Carla Bruni isn't afraid to use all her advantages. That said I'm also very relieved that she doesn't want anything I have.

And now I'm going to feed my face with another chocolate cupcake.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Other things I'm Making

What's going on here? Mysterious.

I did make chocolate chocolate cupcakes and today I've eaten three of them.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I May Have Problems

Argh! My track-pad's crapping out on me!

Here are some things I want to make:

1. Chocolate chocolate cupcakes - I don't have a photo.

2. This sweater:

HipKnits Angelica Pattern by Stefanie Japel using these yarns:

Tilli Tomas Soie de la Mer, which is made with SeaCell, a kelp fiber which is supposed to be good for your skin somehow (might be scary though) and
Tilli Tomas Rock Star for the trim around the keyhole front and maybe the sleeves, kind of like they did in:

3. This sweater:

Stitch Diva Sahara. Which I want to make as pictured. And while I'm at it can I look like her in it?

4. The Hand Maiden Origami Jane sweater:

That would look nice in green I think.

5. these socks:
In Noro Kureon yarn. Other colors would also be acceptable.

Ooh, maybe Origami Jane would look nice in some self-striping Noro yarn too! Probably.

In the mean-time I'm still working on the Kaino vest and I owe Pete some socks made with special edition "Candy Corn" yarn and I told Marc I'd make him a hat with a pom-pom so he could use it this winter. The hat's not a problem. I can make that quickly. I just want to get to a brick-and-mortar yarn store to choose the yarn which is slightly a problem since there aren't many of those close to me.

Never mind that there are about a million other things I'm supposed to be working on in other areas of my life.

I would like time to have expandable pockets. I could go into a time pocket and work on a project then come out and make lunch. After lunch I could go into another pocket and read a book, then come out and work in my studio. Next pocket, work on a knitting project. Next pocket, another knitting project. I also want a pocket for exercise in the morning. In each pocket time would expand to accommodate what I wanted to get done. When I came out regular time would resume. There'd still be twenty-four hours in a day, I'd just have more time to do the stuff I want to do and nothing would take away from anything else. Also, in my fantasy land of time pockets I wouldn't get tired or hungry. Maybe there would be nap pockets and snack pockets.

Then there's the money pocket. That should be bottomless. A nice, steady supply of money to support my shoe, knitting and travel habits.

Organizing my actual life is not an option.

Another problem I may have is that it got dark while I was composing this. The dog is at my feet somewhere but I can't see her and I don't want to kick her when I get up to find a lightswitch. Whoops. Good luck to us both.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Photo I Should Have Posted



The AARP is urging everyone to blog their dreams so here's one I had this week:
I dreamed I had David Beckham's abs (on my body)
If you're up on logos you can see that this is an ad for Emporio Armani underwear. I found this photo in a funny article by Robin Givhan on I particularly liked what she had to say about Louis Vuitton ads.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Vast Rushes of Affection

I'm very lovey these days.

It all started back in November. In November it was almost like I was high or something. I don't remember ever being in such a good mood for such a long stretch of time. I was only cranky for half of one day that month. That NEVER happens.

Ever since then I've been feeling vast rushes of affection for people I know (like the Lafler-Tans) people I've had slight interactions with and don't really know (like Steve Albini) complete strangers (like Walter Cronkite) and large groups of people (like Tape Op-ers) Also for places like The Whaling Bar at La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla and The Void, the seething chaotic stew that we all live in despite the fact that most of us try not to think about it that way. You'll have to link to that one yourself.

It's such a lovely feeling. I don't know where it comes from. It's not like my life has changed for the better in any way that I can see. The biggest change in my life these days is Fay's serious illness. You wouldn't think that would produce a fountain of joy.

Maybe this will make up for all those times that I've been depressed for no apparent reason. This is MUCH better. Maybe I can work it so that I get this instead. Check back in the Spring to see how that goes. Spring and my moods don't usually get along.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Art and Evolution

I recently encountered the theory that the evolutionary purpose of art making is to foster community. I think there must be more to it than that because in my experience this theory applies a lot better to some arts than to others.

Take musicians for example. An individual musician usually spends quite a bit of time alone practicing their instrument. But they also tend to collaborate and form bands and then perform their works for groups of other people - community.

Writers and visual artists are a different story. Writing and visual art require massive amounts of solitary work and then there's no guarantee that more than a handful of people will read or see the results.

Viewing art and reading tend to also be solitary pursuits. Artists and writers need a broker to find them a potential audience and then their audience might appreciate them one at a time. In turn that audience needs to discover that others have also seen the artist's or read the author's work. Only then can discussion and community begin. Not a particularly efficient social system.

I'm an introvert and I thrive on the alone time it takes to make art. What I'm not so good at is figuring out how to find a good community for me.

I went to art school in part to find other artists to talk to. That was disappointing. The open-minded, free-thinking artist is a myth. It was cliquier than seventh grade. I think I might have three friends from seven years of art school. (Although maybe I'm really referring to art students rather than artists. Many art students are studying art because they think it shows how cool they are. Then some of them go on to become artists who think the same thing)

Anyway, I have hope for the Internet as social network and community builder.

Blogging is a very direct means of self-expression. In a conversation with a physical person you have to consider who you're talking to and adjust for your interlocutor. If you don't have much in common with the people you regularly interact with it can definitely limit your ability to talk (and think) about the things you care about.

When you blog you get to pick the topic, what you want to say about it and how you say it. There aren't any social niceties about leading into a conversation or give and take. You just put your idea out there and anyone who wants to join you in talking about it can.

And it really could be anyone. The conversation isn't limited by geography or physical presence or whether you know a person or not. I love this!

I can just blurt out anything I want to. If you think it's weird you can move on to another page and I don't have to see the "I'm afraid of you" look you just gave me.

Blogging is also a much more efficient way to foster community than visual art making. Maybe not physical community but conceptual community. Physically I'm alone but I know (from comments) that I have company out there somewhere in the world.

A piece of art or artifact is an expressive object, a means of non-verbal communication by the person who made it. But that communication depends on others' ability to decipher the object's language - a very risky proposition. Communication can't be the most important aspect of making art (and therefore art's evolutionary purpose) since making art accomplishes other more personal functions far more successfully.

Could the evolutionary purpose of making art be as simple as the fact that making art makes life livable for some people? I think most non-musician artists find making art socially detrimental. And yet it must be done. I think that art making's value is specific to artists. Musicians would still make music if no one were around to play with or to listen to them. Maybe not the one's who got into it for the chicks though.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I Didn't Make This

Can I interest anyone in some nest Pie?

A Little Thing

I'm working on a big post right now. It's taking me hours. In fact I'm going to take a break and come back later.

In the meanwhile here's something else I'm wondering about: Why is it that the seam on my tights always ends up under the ball of my foot or where the shoe is tightest against my pinkie toes?

Friday, January 4, 2008

The World of the Future

I'm talking about the cartoon future, not the live-action movie future or the sci-fi novel future.

I think I want one of these.

P.S., There was a grouse in the tree outside our kitchen window this morning. It was all puffed up since it was minus ten degrees out. The sun's up now so now it's merely minus four.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

My Sin

Lately I've really been enjoying music where the subject of the song is so overpowered by emotion that he/she acts without regard to the consequences. Swept away beyond reach of reason, overmastered, out of control.

This is an intoxicating concept for me theoretically. I am generally a cautious person. I tend to keep my behavior on a tight leash and avoid situations where such things might actually happen to me. I like my self-control (I'm way more loosey-goosey about other people though)

I've usually got an eye on the repercussions of my behavior - at least about the important stuff. I'm not afraid to act like a goofball on a stage or to dye my hair pink (I've been thinking about it lately) or to look generally odd. I just don't transgress. No theft, no gambling, no insulting people (well not on purpose) no dishonesty, no cheating, no excess. I try to always be rational and reasonable.

God it sounds tedious! That feeling of being overmastered by some outside force has pretty much never happened to me. Except in one area: shoes.


I almost wish there were a shoe version of Ravelry but then everyone would know just how bad I am. I don't know how many pairs I have. I'm not going to count either. I have WAY more than I need. I'm five-feet, nine-inches tall but I LOVE platforms and heels. The more outlandish the better. It's totally inappropriate to my life.

In my life I'm either working alone in my studio at the heart of the muddy, snowy gravel pit that is our acreage in Vermont or else I'm walking my feet off in the sleet in Boston, climbing over ice barriers on my way to the local bar or alt rock show.

But am I thinking about appropriateness of attire or of behavior? Everyone I know is a puritan. We're all so goddamned measured and sensible! At least that's all anyone will own up to. Not that I want to hang out with sleazebag cheaters - or, God forbid, be one!

Maybe it's better to keep the disregard for consequences in the realm of fantasy.

Or maybe it's not. I guess there's evidence that it's human nature to make the best of whatever comes of the choices we make. And there's no real way to know if you'd be better off one way or another: you can't do both and then decide.

I'm too chicken to risk it and find out for myself. I think I'll just stick to immoderate consumption of shoes.

Overmastery doesn't come by choice. Maybe I have been overmastered - by good sense. How unromantic and not at all intoxicating.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Zzzzz New Year

Happy New Year everyone!

Today was my forty-second birthday.

I just saw a picture of a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing and I really wish I had one. I didn't think of it before though so I don't have one handy.

This birthday has been important in that I "learned" something today. I put "learned" in quotes because what I learned is something I have known for years and have not been so good about acting on. Something that refuses to sink in. Since I haven't yet acted on it I still can't really claim to have learned anything at all. Ask me in a couple of weeks.

Yeah, what is it? Get to the point!

It is that I need to make sure that what I want happens.

I have a way of caving on what I want. Somehow I got in the habit of appeasing others. It's like I've taken it on as my job and I don't even think about it. The job of the day: make sure everybody gets what they want.

There's nothing like the holidays for appeasement opportunities. All those family members and their hopes and dreams and really wanting them to be happy. I do it in my everyday life as well, with Pete.

Everything kind of came to a head a couple of days ago. I realized that I don't stand up for the things I want. Even in simple ways like what time I want to go to bed or get up in the morning. It's so stupid! For example I'll say "I'm going to bed" and Pete will say, "don't go to bed, stay up a little longer" and I stay up without even thinking about it. The next day I'm too wiped to think straight. Who's fault is that? Not Pete's.

Even though I've been thinking about this very seriously for the last two days today was no different.

Today was a series of useless cavings that led to me being stressed out and anxious and to having to do a bunch of things that I didn't want to do and wouldn't have had to do if I'd just said no. None of it was important or that bad. But I could have had the birthday I'd wanted to have if I'd just insisted. And nobody would have noticed or complained either.

I mean it was my birthday - the one day of the year that you have an excuse to please no one but yourself. I totally dropped that ball!

I hope that it's good that everything fell out this way though. Maybe because I ruined my birthday for everyone I'll pay more attention to making sure I do what I need to do for myself in the future.

Where's Oprah? Does this make any sense? I can't tell because I stayed up too late last night and I can't think straight!

Dear God please help me to remember to put my foot down. Amen.