Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An evening of orchid tossing

It's late July and I'm sitting here on my backyard deck -- full from dinner, tired from a long day of work, and slightly bewildered by the things that go thru Sylvain's 14-year-old male mind. The three of us enjoyed a good dinner of chicken enchiladas and refried beans Chuck made for dinner. Afterwards, we hung out and talked; I pulled out my Flat Feet socks and continued working on the gusset. Sylvain soon excused himself, picked up his dinner dishes, and headed back inside (probably to watch some TV). Chuck and I talked some more about whether to go for an evening walk around the 'hood, when I noticed Sylvain was standing at the dining room window making faces at us. That was all fine and funny. But, for some reason, he looked over and saw Chuck's stand of beloved orchids and decided to grab them by the planter tray, and shake them over his head like a winner with a trophy.

It was one of those slow-motion moments where you see the flowering orchid quake in response to its rude trip into the air and the bare orchid tip onto its side, spewing dirt onto Sylvain and the floor. If you will, just imagine the "oh shit!" look on Sylvain's face the moment it dawned on him that what he was doing was not a good idea.

Amazingly, Chuck remained seated and it was I who rushed out of my chair and into the house. I had a tirade ready to unleash when I came through the kitchen door, but just couldn't get it out. "Why?!?" I asked. "What were you thinking?!? Do you know how delicate those plants are?"

Looking like a sad puppy and covered in dirt from the shoulders up, Sylvain looked at the floor and mumbled "I didn't know."

"Well, clean this mess up, but go outside and shake yourself off first....make sure you go into the frontyard," I quietly replied. Following him out the kitchen door, I returned to my seat on the deck and told Chuck that the plants were okay, but there was a little bit of a mess in the dining room. From there, we watched Sylvain clean up through the dining room windows. Hopefully, he'll think twice when another hare-brained idea comes to mind. Or not.

UPDATE:. It has barely been an hour since I posted this entry and, yet, Sylvain was ready to tempt fate yet again. While doing the evening dishes, I heard him walk up behind me and could feel the swish in the air as he was tossing something rather large overhead in the air. I turned just in time to see that his current victim was a honeydew melon that was sitting on the counter. I reminded him that the melon wasn't likely to bounce if it hit our slate tile kitchen floor.

It's going to be one of those nights, isn't it?!?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Finally getting productive

Slowly but surely, I'm coming out of the fog that had been with me for the past several days. As if my week last week couldn't get any worse, I came down with the flu in the wee hours of last Thursday morning. Luckily, Chuck had the wherewithal to call-in to work for me and to take me to the doctor's, where I received two of the most excruciating shots. The remainders of Thursday and most of Friday are lost to me since I spent most of that time either in a daze or sleeping; and I stupidly insisted that we maintained our plans of driving north Friday night in anticipation of picking up Sylvain from camp Saturday. Our plans had Chuck and I stay overnight in Bay City, which had the closest Holiday Inn on the way to West Branch and at which Chuck had perk points to burn. I topped my week off my burning the roof of my mouth on some molten goat cheese while at Lumerbaron's for dinner. And that not only ruined the mushroom soup that was the rest of my dinner and all other food I ate on into Sunday.

Truth be told, things looked like they were getting better on Wednesday: Sue came over and we finally got her socks on circs started; I bound off on the body of Nancy's sweater and half of Lisa's shawl, and completed weaving the last of my green napkins. All done while waiting for Mark & Becky to come over for movie night. I should have known that I was having too much of a good thing.

At any rate, things are getting back to normal: Chuck's got dinner going on the grill, Sylvain's down in the den watching TV, and I'm binding-off on Lisa's Triform shawl. Her pattern is in good shape, and once she has it available on-line, I'll post photos and give you my rant against Noro.

As for movies: we finally saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on Sunday and we're heading back to the theater tonight for the cheap seat show of Transformers: Rise of the Fallen. There isn't much for me to say about Harry, sure, I wanted to see it, but at this point, it seemed more to me like a formality of seeing it in the cinema environment and seeing what was different from the book. I don't have a lot of hope for Transformers, and am happy to not be paying full price for watching it. I'll also have my FlatFeet socks on hand to keep me busy, just in case the movie loses my interest....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Busy weekend begat a shitty week

And, yes, even though it's only Wednesday, I can already say that. Early last Friday afternoon, Chuck and I headed to Cleveland for a weekend family get together. Almost immediately, we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on south-bound US-23, making it impossible for us to make it to the 7:05 Indians vs. Mariners game that we were supposed to meet up with Chuck's family at. A tractor-trailer had gone off the highway at the US-23/M-14 split just north of Ann Arbor and all traffic was being directed down M-14. While loudly complaining about having to drive my 5-speed Civic in such traffic, Chuck totally disregarded my directions and took the first exit off of M-14 and headed right into Ann Arbor, where there was not only traffic backed up due to the accident, but also due to the Art Fair. Before long, we made it back onto the freeway and were well on our way down I-94 West before I realized that we were headed towards Jackson, which is totally not the way that we wanted to head. After much bickering, we finally got situated and headed in the right direction, making a bee-line straight to Progressive Field for the ball game.

Somehow, both of Chuck's sisters and his mom had Club level passes, which got us into the Terrace Club, where Chuck's family was having dinner. The restaurant provided a great view of the field, but the food just wasn't worth the price. Now, I expect to pay through the nose while at a game, but for the dinner we had didn't taste that great and was tiny. We ordered an appetizer of potato skins stuffed with barbecue pork; and my dinner was another appetizer of crab cakes. Chuck had a lamb dish with couscous (sorry no photo).

By the time we arrived, the game was well into the 4th inning, but that didn't matter because I didn't really pay much attention to it; and talked with Chuck's sisters while working on my Flat Feet socks.

We hung out afterwards for the post-game fireworks, which were really a good show. Better, even, than some of the July 4th displays I've seen. Being pretty whipped from a full day at the office and the long drive, I took a rain check on Chuck's offer to walk around downtown in the post-game revelry (which was strangely upbeat given that the Indians lost 2-6).

The main reason we were in town was to attend a birthday party for Chuck's step-dad Frank at Frank's son's house. The party went fine; especially now that Chuck's cousin Colin is engaged, we were pretty much left alone by his family about us getting married any time soon. I took my usual party route -- eat a little bit here and there, get drunk early, and head to bed early. No muss, no fuss, and very little social time.

Happily for me, Chuck kept his promise not to dilly-dally too long before hitting the road to return home. I haven't been a fan of returning in the middle of the night on Sundays, so he vowed that we'd leave early in the afternoons as often as we could. While the drive itself was not as eventful as Friday's, we did make a couple of pit-stops while on our way. First, we did a little bit of shopping at Cabelas in Dundee. I'm always amazed whenever I stop in this store by the sheer number of people there are shopping. This place definitely casts a wide draw. But what also amazes me is how unfriendly the staff and other shoppers are. I've never really felt comfortable in this store and usually prefer to look at the one or two items I'm interested in at the moment, then get the hell out. During our visit, there was a fairly large sale going on and I managed to find a pair of Yak Trax Pro for $15, which I'm still trying to determine if that was a good deal or not.

Our second stop was at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor for dinner. Neither of us had been there before and I think we'd go back, though I'm wondering how our two sandwiches could possibly have come to over $30. I had the #38 Schoolkid' Song 'n Dance; Chuck had a #2 Reuben; and we split an order of latke fingers. I think next time, we'll just split something since I couldn't finish half of my sandwich.

After finally arriving home, we ended the weekend by watching "Knowing" with Nicolas Cage and Rose Byrne. Cage plays John, an astro-physics professor at MIT who had recently become a single-parent after the death of his wife in a tragic hotel fire. His only child, Caleb, is the recipient of a letter unearthed within a time capsule as part of the 50th anniversary of their elementary school. The letter was composed of numbers that were written by a girl who was haunted by voices that rattled them to her. While wallowing in his sorrow one night, John has a drunken epiphany on what the numbers might mean and searches the great wide Internet to investigate the numbers to find that they correspond to the dates and body counts of tragedies that have occurred around the world. Byrne's character, Diana, comes in as the grand-daughter of the letter's author who had always believed her grandma to be crazy. I'm not quite sure what else to say that won't spoil the end. I've tried several times here and have erased it each time because the words are just escaping me. And that's not in a good way.

I wouldn't recommend that anyone rents this movie. If it's on TV already, then it would be watchable, but I shouldn't complain too badly since I used a free coupon for this one. Within the first 15 minutes, a scene with John and Caleb stargazing struck a pet-peeve and had Chuck yelling at the screen, "What are they doing?!?" They had every light in the house on; a lantern blazing on a nearby picnic table; and a third light illuminating a midnight barbecue session John had going on a grill. I don't know about you, but I dare you to try (just try) to light up half that number of lights around a group of star gazers. Be sure to have your earplugs in and your running shoes on because you're going to need them around that tough crowd. Any folks that can sit out all night long to gaze at the sky in the dark (and usually in the very cold, because most clear nights tend to also be the coldest ones) are not the folks you want to piss off by ruining their night vision.

So, with all that said, you're probably wondering what has made this a pretty shitty week so far. Sure, I've had plenty of busy weekends, but I came out of last weekend feeling like I didn't actually relax during one minute of it. And, starting early Monday, things haven't gone pretty well at the office: my computer was on the fritz and I couldn't stand just sitting there watching my coworker try to get the proper software running again. The problem was with some GIS software I'm using and, while he's not an official IT guy, the GIS software is in his arena (yes, the division of responsibilities is a little strange around here). So after a couple of hours of watching him work, I waited until some bacteria plates I had cultured earlier in the day were ready to move from one incubator into the other (where they'll sit for another 22 hours), then clocked out, went home, and headed back to bed. I wouldn't say that I had an anxiety or panic attack, but I just needed to get out of the office and only felt better once I hit the confines of my warm, safe bed. I've never felt that way before and can't really explain it in any other way.

Tuesday was somewhat better. My PC ended up needing actual help from the IT staff, and they worked on it while I went out for a long lunch with some friends who had moved to Grenada and were back in the States visiting. They were doing an unconvincing job of making me believe that island life is over-rated. My day ended with a relaxing knit-in, thanks to Ann; but I ended up getting into an arguement on the way home with my car-pool friend over the fair market value of knitwear. I warned her that I was the worst person to ask because I give away as gifts or donations most of what I make. Apparently, my opinion was skewed enough to be "wrong, wrong, wrong" and it took everything I had to not be a complete bitch back about it. (So, friends, be forewarned -- there isn't a right answer.)

Tonight, we're having Mark & Becky over for pizza and movies. Hopefully, this'll be what I need to get out of this funk. (No pressure, guys.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Enjoying a losing game

The score is 13-6, with the home team losing. Do we really care when the draft beers are $2? Not really. And I don't even like beer....

I have my Flat Feet sock project on hand and have been making some progress on it. So, that counts for something, right? Besides, there's an intermittent drizzle going, that started while the sun was still out. Talking to Chuck, I found that the Cleveland Hungarians don't really have a phrase about that. Growing up in Virginia, my mom used to tell my brother and I that sunshowers were a sign that Satan was beating his wife (which is supposedly a Southern thing). According to Wikipedia, Filipino lore says that these showers were a sign of elves getting married. What does your heritage say about these supposedly rare events? Post me a comment or PM me because I'm genuinely curious...

Now, excuse me, it's Neil Diamond tribute night here at Oldsmobile Park (while it's still called that since GM has given up their park contract); the ball game is now over and Chuck's waiting for me at the impersonator concert....

UPDATE: there's also a Striesand impersonator!!! Though, oddly enough, the Neil Diamond impersonator disappeared. I'm suspecting a quick costume change has occurred...can't they just make like Victor/Victoria?!? Ooops!!! "Neil" just came out from behind the shimmery curtain hung off of their R.V. Sorry, Babs, but I honestly thought you might have been a man....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Well, if you're up that early and need something to do..."

I worked a little late today, trying to stave off leaving the office before Chuck returned from his monthly gaging station field trip. We car-pooled in on Monday, but it was getting to be 5:30, and he still hadn't arrived. I made plans to have dinner with Sue and Carolyn tonight, and to show Sue how to knit socks on circs, two at a time. Plus, I really wanted to run in to Blockbuster to return "Push" (a horrible waste -- review to follow) and to pick up a couple more movies before my free coupons expire.

So, Chuck agreed that I shouldn't wait; opting to take the bus home, since he was still in Paw Paw and it would be quite a while before he returned. My stop in the video store was somewhat disappointing. Blockbuster didn't have the 2 disks I was looking for: "Dead Like Me" season 1, disk 2, and the new "Grey Gardens" with Drew Barrymore. Instead, I ended up with "Knowing" and "An American Werewolf in London", but those won't be watched tonight because....

I'm officially the worst knitting instructor. My poor friend Sue didn't know what she was in for when she pulled out her bag of newly purchased sock yarn (Schoeller+Stahl), needles, and the Nancy Lindberg "Knit to Fit" pattern. Carolyn calmly watched us while she worked on a gorgeous cabled scarf. Sue measured her foot, then proceeded to cast on for her gage swatch. I then made myself too busy by picking up where I had left off on the sweater that I'm test knitting for Nancy. After a couple of rows on her swatch, Sue complained that she had dropped a stitch. "That's OK," both Carolyn and I reassured, "we'll be sure to measure away from that spot. Besides, you'll just tear out that swatch once we're done measuring." An hour or so later, Sue had up to 3 inches on her swatch, then proudly held it up to show us. Unfortunately, she had done the swatch in a different stitch pattern than what she'll be working the sock pattern in. If you're familiar with the Lindberg pattern, you'll know that the whole cast on is dependent on your foot dimensions and gage. Nuts! So, I sadly had to tell poor Sue that she needed to start her swatch over in order to get the correct gage. I completely failed her by not paying close enough attention. Some friend I am, right?

Since it was such a pleasant evening, I had decided that it was high time that my lazy butt received some exercise by riding my bike to Sue's. Feeling pretty dejected, I rode home shortly after 10 and parked my bike in the breezeway rather than our messy garage. (BTW -- my investment in bike lights was such a great idea!) Seeing my bike there at the ready, I considered getting up early to ride in to work tomorrow.....

Chuck made it home A-OK from his trip. While in the farm country of south-west Michigan, Chuck stopped by a road-side stand and bought 2 pints of fresh blueberries. They looked pretty good, but I didn't try any because we had a fairly large dinner at Sue's and I was stuffed. Chuck decided to try a small bowlfull and proceeded to tell me how good they were. Next, he nonchalantly asked me if I planned to get up at 4:30 tomorrow. Because..."Well, if you're up that early and need something to do...maybe you can make some muffins." What?!? Isn't HE supposed to be the cook extraordinaire around here?!? Man, and I was seriously thinking of biking....

Okay, I know I promised a review of "Push", but I'm now quickly running out of steam. I really should hit the sack soon, especially if I need to some baking and biking in the morning....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lucky shopping hat (yes, it's a long story)

The hat you see in this photo is close to 15 years old, made out of felt, and is now my lucky shopping hat. I found this out on Sunday after embarking on a couple of very fruitful shopping trips.

It all started like this: I returned home from Sunday morning coffee talk with Carolyn and Sue at Beaner's to find Chuck perched at the top of a ladder, tearing down the siding behind the gutters. Flash-backward to earlier that morning: while in our first floor bathroom getting ready to leave for coffee, I thought I heard Chuck in the upstairs bathroom directly above me, though his shuffling sounded funny. When I returned to our bedroom, I found him still in bed. I told him about the odd noises, but he hadn't heard anything. After I left, he started to hear some sort of scraping noise, but thought it came from outside the upstairs bathroom window. He then went outside to investigate and found that the gutter right above the bathroom window had chew marks on it.

What kind of a crazy bastard of a squirrel chews through metal?!? We know a few people who have had issues with this vermin wreaking havoc on their homes (and each are in nearby subdivisions), so Chuck went into immediate action mode. The spot the squirrel chose to target was a good one -- once he got thru the gutter, he would have easily passed thru the decaying wood panel behind the gutter. We hadn't noticed the condition of this piece last year while painting because we never took down that set of gutters. The squirrel hadn't gotten in yet, and Chuck inspected the rest of the dormer for trouble areas.

Okay, so you're probably wondering what all of this has to do with shopping -- seeing Chuck on the ladder and busy with that repair, I knew that our plans for a relaxing Sunday of leisure were scrapped, so I donned some house clothes and got started with chores. While Chuck was waiting for the paint to dry on the new panel piece, I told him about deals on a couple of desks that Sue had found at OfficeMax last week. His response was, "Well, we're looking for a desk for Sylvain anyways, why don't we see what they have right now?" Since I was looking pretty schlubby anyways, I decided not to fuss with my hair and threw on my MSU hat. We scored big at OfficeMax by finding a desk and matching bookcase for Sylvain for $50 total (originally priced at $480). There was also a matching hutch for $12, but because of the cape cod-style of our house and the configuration of his room, it wouldn't fit atop the desk.

Feeling quite content, I dropped Chuck off at home to finish his work and headed to Meijerfor groceries. Being a creature of habit, I entered the store through the Garden Section and was very warmly greeted by the two guys working there. Remembering that Sue had also found at natural light floor lamp also on clearance, I decided to detour through the housewares aisle once inside the store. Sue's husband Cameron had the same gripes about trying to watch movies or TV with Sue that Chuck has with me -- we both prefer to have the lights on because we usually have some sort of fiber craft in hand. Lately, Chuck and I have taken to watching the same shows but not together; he takes over the den and I prefer to hang out upstairs in our room. The lamp Sue had found is shaped so that it casts its light downwards and seems to keep the peace during TV time. Anyways, there was only one of the lamps left and it was priced down to $10.49 from $41.99. My only reservation was that the bulb was an odd 27-watt fluorescent one, and I didn't see any replacements by the rest of the lamps. I tracked down a Meijer employee to help me find one in the light bulb aisle, but we both came up empty-handed. The employee offered to call one of the other Meijer stores to see if they happened to have any in stock, and that seemed fine with me.

While on hold, he saw my hat and asked, "So, do you go to State? I'm a student there now."

"Yes, but it's been a while," I quickly replied, but then felt bad because here he was doing me a favor and I was being brisk. "Let's just say that Nick Sabin was the new guy when I was a student." What, football?!? Why in the hell did I have to start talking football!?!

Thankfully, he didn't go that route and just proceeded to tell me that he was an Econ student and that he was looking forward towards graduating, though the job outlook isn't very promising.

After a few more of minutes of small talk, we found that none of the Lansing-area stores had replacement bulbs on hand, so that definitely took the damper off of my zeal to buy the lamp. After thanking him for his help, he smiled and said, "Well, you know, since we don't have any bulbs for that, I can take an extra $5 off the price for you." What?!? Wow, sure! I may have a hard time finding a bulb, but the lamp has got to be worth more than $5.49, right?

Taking one last gander down the clearance aisle, I found two electronic kitchen scales for $6.99 each (originally $34.99 a piece). Knowing that Chuck's family are full of foodies, these will come in handy if we ever need an emergency gift. So, over the course of a few hours, I managed to save just over $520 and kept my impulse purchases down to $20 total. That's not bad at all in my book.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dinner and two movies

Taking full advantage of Sylvain being at Scout camp, Chuck and I decided to spend yesterday an hour away in Grand Rapids furniture shopping and going to dinner and a movie. Sylvain is in need of a desk and a new chest of drawers, since his old one is press-board and a couple of the drawers have disintegrated. Plus, we're starting to price out a sectional for the den with the hopes of finally getting rid of the post-garage-sale futon Chuck found that currently serves as a sofa. We're pretty sure what sectional configuration we're looking for, so it's down to playing the "too squishy vs. too firm" game, and picking out fabrics. We ended up being able to eliminate the pieces we tried out, so the search continues....

I've been wanting to see the new movie "Moon" on the big screen, and (of course) it wasn't playing anywhere in the Lansing area, but was at the Rivertown Celebration Cinema in Grandville. In the movie, a mining base has been established on the far-side of the moon, supplying the Earth with helium-3, which provided a clean energy source and saved us from our current energy crisis. The base is manned by Sam and companion robot Gerty (voiced in deadpan splendor by Kevin Spacey). Sam is on the tail-end of his three-year contract and is more than ready to head home. Then, things start to go wrong. I'll stop here with the plot for fear of giving anything else away, but let's just say that there was enough stuff to talk about that it sustained Chuck and I thru the majority of a 3-hour dinner at Bar Divani afterwards (note that the duration was on our part, not the restaurant's).

I liked this movie and would definitely recommend it. The movie was the feature debut of David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones. That aside, I really enjoyed the detail of the movie. The track that Gerty moves along; the grime present on Sam's spacesuit; the labeled take-out containers of freeze-dried beans; the sheer boredom of Sam's job, leading him to talk to his plants, whittle a replica of his hometown, watch old episodes of "Bewitched", and become an ace ping-pong player. I loved it how he watches old episodes of "Bewitched". This movie has just been released for a limited run, but when it's available on video giving more folks the chance to watch it, I'd love to talk about it more.

And, as for dinner at Bar Divani -- where else can I get little 2 oz. tastes of great wine and have a plate of cheese, fruit, and crackers for dinner?!? Chuck had a fairly large bowl of steamed mussels and some sort of braised beef. By the time we left, the rest of the Heartside section was coming alive, and if we didn't have the drive home, would have been tempted to hop around to the other wine bars a bit. So, we had a pretty fun Saturday.

Before I go, I'd also like to mention a movie I saw on the small screen Friday night: "Let the right one in". Yes, it's another "romantic" vampire movie (that is, if you consider love between two 12-year-olds romantic). It's a Swedish film about a boy named Oscar, who lives in an apartment building and gains mysterious new neighbors when a "father and daughter" move in during the middle of the night. The "daughter" Eli befriends Oscar while hanging out in the apartment's courtyard one night. She quickly warns him that they "shouldn't be friends"; which he ignores, and solidifies their friendship by teaching her Morse code so that they can communicate through the apartment walls. (Is some of this sounding somewhat familiar, fellow Twilighters?) An additional plot point is that Oscar is bullied by schoolmates, and Eli encourages him to stick up for himself. Meanwhile, Eli does live off of human blood, which is brought to her by her companion Hakan. Hakan seems somewhat incompetent at his "job", which makes me wonder how they paired up in the first place. I'll stop here with my description other than to say that I really enjoyed this movie and am thinking about adding the book to my reading list as I've read that there are some other interesting parts that didn't make it into the film. If you're a fan of vampire-lore, then you'd enjoy this one; there is some blood, but it's not scary -- this is, after all, a love story.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Time wasting

My evening after dinner and washing up the dishes has come to a screeching halt. I've spent the last hour on-line cleaning up e-mail, signing-up for yet another social-networking time-sucker (Digg), and viewing all of the Facebook notifications I've ignored over the past 6-months or more. That's when I saw the funniest little notification glitch...if you don't have a sense of humor like me, then you might not get it, but the image to the right made me laugh out loud to the point where Chuck wandered into the office to see what was so funny.

Last night was a very productive weaving night -- I finished napkin number two and started the third one. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep up this progress. I did watch Chocolat and thought it was a cute movie. I like Alfred Molina and needed to update my movie queue with a few more of his films. But, the movie didn't fill Sarah's objective to open my eyes to the beauty of Johnny Depp. Sorry, but I've still got nothing. I've always been more of a Brad Pitt-gal. Maybe I should send some of those movies Sarah's way....

I realize now that there were a couple of things I forgot to mention a few things in yesterday's post that I just have to get out. First, I'm quite annoyed that SciFi changed it's name to Syfy. Why was this necessary? It's one of the channels that I watch the most and hope that this doesn't mean a shift in programming away from shows such as Ghost Hunters, Eureka, and Battlestar. (Even though Battlestar's run is over, hopefully, they'll come up with a new show that's just as good. I recorded Warehouse 13, but have yet to watch it.) I mean, where else can I count on a completely ridiculous made-for-TV monster movies like Mansquito, Ice Spiders, or Gargoyles: Wings of Darkness?!?

Second, I also recently watched The Machinist -- a Christian Bale movie that is pretty creepy, but somewhat disappointing in that I had a good part of it figured out before the end. It's about a guy who hasn't slept in a year who starts hallucinating. The hardest part to watch about the whole movie is Bale's weight -- this is the role that he dropped 63 pounds for and it really shows. His movie diet was reported to have been coffee, cigarettes, and one apple per day. I'm a little lukewarm about this flick and not entirely sure that I'd recommend this movie...

[SPOILER skip to next paragraph if you don't want to read this: One of the creepiest things about this movie for me was that the day after watching this movie, I saw a link for this article about this 6-year girl in L.A. Sure, The Machinist was a movie (and his hallucinations came from trauma), but to think that such a young person can be schizophrenic is very sad.]

On a lighter note, I know this has been out for the past week or so, but just in case you haven't seen this totally cute video of babies roller skating, then definitely check out this link. And before the smart-ass comments can begin -- yes, I know that's all CGI, but somebody out there can skate like that and I'm totally jealous of them for it.

Lastly, I met my crazy person for the week yesterday at the South Cedar Beaner's. After dropping off Chuck at the Common Ground Festival, I decided to grab a coffee before stopping at Jane's house for knit-night. The guy in front of me was middle-aged, dressed in a tank top and shorts, and had a walking stick. We're not talking about a trekking pole with shock absorbers or anything like that -- it was a tall, simple, knobbly wooden stick with a hole notched at the top for a piece of leather strapping he had tied in a loop through it. Why on earth would someone in the urban wasteland that is South Lansing need such a walking stick? The baristas were very talkative and tried to be helpful as he precariously carried a tray filled with three different drinks and his walking stick out the door. The barista making my drink and I watched as "urban hiker" walked across the parking lot, carefully placed the tray full of drinks on the roof of his car, and gingerly set his walking stick into the back seat. With both of us shaking our heads, I tried to laugh it off by asking, "I wonder where he's going...." "I don't know, but he's a regular and always brings that stick with him," the barista replied. How very strange! He obviously didn't need it while walking to the car; by the look of things, it was somewhat in the way of carrying his drinks.

Maybe I need to hang out at this Beaner's more often in the evening! That'll guarantee more odd-folk fodder for the blog....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yes, I am a complete stick in the mud

So, here I am loading up my stick shuttle with weft yarn for my woven napkins and am preparing to weave while watching Chocolat (more on this later), all the while waiting for Chuck to call to be picked up from the Common Ground Festival. Call me coarse, but he had wanted to see tonight's Stone Temple Pilots performance. He wanted me to go, but I turned him down knowing that the evening wouldn't end well if I had gone. Call me a complete stick in the mud, but I cannot stand attending rock concerts. I've been to three:
  1. Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies, & Danzig (in '94 when Metallica was on tour for the Black album -- being a die-hard Madonna fan, this was NOT my scene, so I was sitting in the car ready to go long before Metallica made it on stage; You may wonder why I was there...I went b/c of my ex....and that was the absolute last time I went to a concert to make a guy happy);
  2. R.E.M. (in '95 at the Breslin, for which I had scored a free ticket from a stranger whose friend didn't show); and
  3. Smashing Pumpkins (in '97?, again at Breslin, with the incident where Renee lets out the most blood-curdling scream after nearly stepping on an abandoned pair of women's panties in the parking lot).
[Okay, this isn't counting the infamous "Hey Aimee! Hey Anne Marie! Would you like a little ass in your face?!?" incident during the '94 Verve Pipe concert at the MSU Aud. If you lived on 6 North Hubbard that fall, you may recall this. But, anyways, I don't consider anything held at the Aud a bona fide concert...] Nonetheless, each time not only did I walk away with an insufferable headache, but I spent most of the evening being trounced on. I am only 4'9", after all, and tend to get stepped on when in large crowds.

Now, as for Chocolat: I have 2 confessions to make. Although it was up for several Oscars when it first hit theaters, I haven't previously watched this movie. There wasn't any real reason why, just that it hadn't caught my interest before. Secondly, I don't really understand the fascination a lot of gals have with Johnny Depp. This came to light while discussing the upcoming Alice in Wonderland movie. I think he is a fine actor, but don't feel any particular pull towards him or his movies because of him. Being a Depp fan, Sarah has insisted that Chocolat will change my opinion of him. I'll have to give a review in my next, if you excuse me, I have a movie to watch and napkins to weave.

UPDATE: Just got home from picking up Chuck and he confirmed all of my fears -- even he had a hard time with folks pushing and having beer dumped on (and maybe even urine, though he wasn't exactly sure); and he can't seem to control the volume of his voice, since he can't really hear himself talk.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Finding comfort in old clothes

In case you're just now joining us here in Geoknitterville, I've spent the entire month of June complaining about the heat. Now that we're into the first few days of July, I've found myself in the ironic situation of spending several days in the Great Outdoors in temps that are struggling to hit the mid-60os. I'm very much enjoying this weather, though am lamenting the fact that I didn't bring a jacket or more than one long-sleeved shirt in addition to my old sweatshirt hoodie.

My hoodie isn't all too special; it's a plain gray, Champion-brand pull-over. It's also the oldest piece of clothing in current circulation in my closet, having owned it since my Junior year of high school (17 years ago). It's now tattered in all the right spots -- along the cuffs and edge of the hood. And I can't imagine replacing it.

Thankfully I might not need it as much for the rest of the trip, since around 2 this afternoon the sun poked through the cloud cover and the overcast sky shuffled eastward. I hadn't seen the sun since last weekend and was starting to feel deprived. Everyone around camp scattered -- Chuck and Sylvain decided to go fishing with Matt and Brian (friends from college), and their wives Heather and Kim packed up to go to the beach. Not liking either option, I decided to hop on my bike and visit our usual campsite in the wilderness area. As I sat on a stump at the campsite to type this entry, a Jeep full of teens drove by on the 2-track. One of the giggling girls sitting in the back yelled over to me, "Hey! Are you taking a shit over there or what?" Yes, folks, even after a 45-minute trek into the deep woods, I still attract hecklers.

Well, I should get going before my audience comes back to offer me some TP. If you're keeping tabs on the tweets, you may have noticed that I made the unfortunate choice to keep knitting Lisa's shawl in the dark by firelight. Normally, this isn't an issue, but somehow I mis-counted and needed to tear back about 5 rows for repair. Being a wannabe lace knitter, I didn't bother with a lifeline, so I guess I got what was coming to me. Tonight, I'll have to switch to socks after dusk.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dry...for now

There is nothing that I hate more than setting up a tent in the dark. Inevitably, the spot that appeared to be even and stick or stone free will prove itself otherwise in the middle of the night. With that said, our little holiday camping trip was destined to have us doing just that the moment we decided to leave "right after work." We made it to the campground by 10 pm last night and I was in a completely grouchy mood. It was so bad that Chuck left me to set up our tent alone and helped Sylvain with his tent instead, which in the end was probably his best course of action. And to make the night complete, it started to drizzle while we were half finished setting up the tents.

Even though the Jeep was packed to the gills, we each thought of things we could have used, but had left at home. I had forgotten just how cold sleeping on an air mattress can be, and wished we had brought a few more blankets (or even our winter sleeping bags) as it got down into the low-40s last night. Only the most urgent of needs brought me out of the *warm* bed for a visit to the restroom in the rain. Though, I should really be grateful that there's a restroom at all. Usually when we camp in this part of the state (Manistee Nat. Forest between Ludington & Manistee), we stay in the dispersed campsites, where the sites are what we make of it (bathrooms included). We opted for a campground because one of the couples joining us tomorrow is expecting, and a bathroom has moved from being a camp luxury to a necessity. I'm not minding this switch so much since we were able to get a couple of sites that appear to be surrounded by other quiet tent campers.

So this morning after being out and about, I didn't feel like returning to bed. Luckily, our tent is large enough to accommodate the air mattress, my backpack, a camp chair, and a camp table. It was only 6:30, and I didn't want to bug Chuck or Sylvain, so I started working on a shawl Lisa had designed. I was able to make significant progress, and may very likely finish it later tonight or definitely tomorrow. One of the yarns called for in the pattern is Noro Kureyon, which I thought I was buying in a nice peach, teal, brown, gray, and purple colorway. The teal is not a pretty color, but it was something I thought I could live with. However, during one of my visits to Nancy, she flashed open more towards the center of the skein, exposing a very out of place neon, "safety yellow." Don't get me wrong -- I'm a huge fan of light and warm colors, but this yellow looks hideous mixed in with the colors that drew me towards this colorway. My laziness won me over and I never made it to Rae's to see if I could exchange it for something else. So this morning, I made it through the first yarn, and was ready to add the Kureyon. I reached into the skein to draw out my starting strand and out popped a wad of the ugly yellow, which I gleefully cut out. The next time I need/want to knit with Kureyon, I'll definitely be more discerning about the full color varigation.