Friday, February 29, 2008

About Eight Months Late...

Today, I took a day off. After all, today isn't a REAL day, is it? It only exists once every four years, including the year I was born. Mitch Gibbs is celebrating birthday today, but other than that it should be a non-day for working. And so I took a vacation day.

I found out earlier this week that one of our new LYSs has a Friday morning knit-thingy. So I decided to venture out. I hung out with the shop owner (she knows me as her "stalker" from the Ravelry days before her shop opened, and she's still very nice to me) and the store manager. I had a great time, just knitting and talking, but alas if I had realized that the LAST ROW I'd knit the other night contained not one but SIX mistakes, I could have fixed them easily. But dangit, I knit along like a happy girl, and I didn't realize until four rows later that I missed 6 yarnovers. I've fixed non-yarnover-ing before, but not six in the same proximity. The yarn was getting a little tight, and I realized - hey - it's only four rows. Let me focus when I get home, create a new lifeline, and rip back. I'll take care of that this weekend. In the meantime, I went for a walk around New Paltz.

I'd kind of half-planned this already, but the timing was impeccable. Back in July, I promised myself I'd do something as reward for the MS ride. Since the bike ride left us too tired to care about anything except for getting a shower and some beer, I've been waiting for my reward ever since. And today, thanks to Chris at Art & Soul III, I did it.

Hai. I am two days shy of thirty-six years old, and getting my tragus pierced was the total highlight of my day. kthxbai.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Tim!

I'm getting to this a little late, I know, but I couldn't let Pete & Kristin have all the fun with the old pictures. My apologies to my nearest and dearest friends, but I am including myself in these not-so-attractive oldies this time.

I can't remember when I met Tim, but I remember when I first had a crush on him...

It was at Jane's party, where I watched Dirty Dancing for the first time and thought it was the BEST MOVIE EVER. It's amazing when I look at this picture and see so many friends who are still in touch. I lusted over Tim for most of that summer, and then we went out. Lots. He took me to prom, even.

I honestly don't even remember prom anymore, and no - my hair was not that big. That's a SHADOW, people. Things didn't work out, yadda yadda yadda, I went psycho and wrote bad poetry, but we became the best of friends.

Tim came along on jazz band trips, even though he wasn't even in the did that work, exactly? Lucky bastard...

He made a great impression on my college roommate by executing her teddy bear while she was out...

And there were many road trips. Like going to see Amy in DC.

Going to Sapelo after high school. There's Pammy!

Of course, on Sapelo there were times when we got a bit out of hand...

Notice Craig gripping my arm. I still remember being mesmerized by the little glowfish thingies - the guys were very worried I would wander off into the ocean. By the looks of this picture, they were right to be worried.

And there were times when we were well-behaved. I can't believe that this picture was taken about 16 years ago.

So here we are, more than twenty years from when we first met. I always thought he'd be someone I'd remember fondly but with whom I'd lose touch. By a series of odd coincidences, after years abroad doing amazing things with the Peace Corps, Tim and his most wonderful wife Cambria are now living very close by. They even came to visit for Thanksgiving in 2006.

Sometimes, when we're talking with them, I'm simply amazed at how things have ended up. My thirty-something-year-old-self (ahem) tells my teenage self how great it's going to be one day. How very right it all is.

When Tim and I were in high school and college, we'd celebrate our birthdays together, since they were only 2 days apart. Tonight, at this late hour, I'm wondering if he's celebrating a new birthday - that of his son, who is due any day now.

Tim and Cambria - I wish you happiness and love for all of your lives. I can't wait to meet your little boy and spoil him rotten. Happy birthday, Tim - who would have ever thought that life could be this rich, eh?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Funniest Ten Minutes of my Week

Not terribly safe for work. Be patient - the first minute or so is slow...

And the response...

And that's where my brain is today, Ladies and Gentlemen...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Introducing Jack and Pearl

Yesterday, our good friends decided to expand their family.

Meet Jack (in the back) and Pearl, two adorable 3-month-old Dalmasetts. Bassematians. We're still trying to figure out a catchy "hybrid" name for a Bassett/Dalmatian/unknown mix.

We are living vicariously through them for a while, since we're not really home enough to take care of dogs, and we have no real yard. Aren't they the cutest???

Jack has an old-man face, and he's a little shy. Petite Pearl has downy-soft white fur, and she's a firecracker. Congratulations, Connors!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Young Frankenstein - A Full Report

Oh yeah - I forgot to mention our little Broadway trip this week.

Joe and I took the train down to the city Wednesday afternoon, which delighted me to no end, because that means 1.5 hours of knitting time! It takes me 15 minutes per row of my Secret Surprise #2, so it feels like I've been knitting it forever. But with Joe on a conference call all the way down into Grand Central, I was happily knitting away.

We had dinner at Chevy's - a chain, certainly, but not one that we have upstate. We're both always on the lookout for decent Mexican, and we knew this was a good place, since we'd eaten at one in St. Louis a few years ago. Ahhhhh, the margaritas were exxxxcellent! We walked around, people-watching and killing time before the doors opened.

Our free ticket seats were most perfect - about 16 rows back, just two seats in from the aisle of the middle of the theater. I had a very amusing lady sitting beside me - picture someone in her late forties dressing like she still wants to be in her twenties, gold bracelets dripping from her arms, full-length fox(?-I'm not good at identifying dead animal pelts) coat, big blond hair that looked almost crispy from overprocessing, black roots, claw-like, expensive fingernails, and her Sopranos-wannabe date with the exposed chest hair and Mr.T-like chains around his neck. Yeah. Gotta love New York City.

Okay - the show. It was a lot of fun. The performances were SPECTACULAR. But, really, I wouldn't recommend it if you're a big fan of the movie, and here's why:

I've always had a problem with movies-turned-stage shows. The Disney ones are fine, because - hey - they already have spontaneous singing in the movies. But when you take a well-loved, non-musical movie - a movie that whenever you mention it, people blurt out random quotes like "Walk this way" or "Roll in zee hay" - is there really a need to put it on stage? Some of the songs were clever, funny, and fit perfectly. But there were some songs that felt if Mel Brooks just decided there should be a song HERE, even if there really wasn't anything worth singing about. Does that make sense? Some of the songs were a bit pointless and made the show seem long.

The actors were amazing. Megan Mullally has a set of pipes on her! The Igor and Frau Blucher (neeiiiiiggghh) actors were spot-on. And Roger Bart was a perfect Dr. Fronk-en-steen. Again - it was a really fun show, and a great performance. I just didn't particularly care for the structure of it. And I'm very glad I didn't spend $150 per ticket.

On Being Neighborly

When Joe and I first moved in together, we lived in apartments where you didn't want to know your neighbors. When we bought our first house in Marietta, we were in a very active tennis community, and we made a lot of good friends. What's not to like about folks who bring kegs to tennis matches, after all? However, we had a tough time knowing our immediate neighbors, who weren't in the tennis crowd. On one side of us was a mostly vacant house (we never really knew what was going on there), and on the other side was a house for sale. A lovely family eventually moved in, and we'd speak to them from time to time, but other than general chit-chat we didn't really know them. I don't even remember their names.

When we moved to Montgomery, we were no longer in a structured neighborhood, so we thought we'd be on our own. Our immediate neighbors pretty much kept to themselves. I'd speak to the people who lived behind us every so often, but we didn't have a lot in common, and they had a completely insane dog tied up in their yard.

Then we started getting to know our other neighbor, Mike. I think it all started when Joe needed help tearing a shed down, and I think all men like to play with machines...

Mike's been a great help in various he-man projects, and he was as anxious as we were for this awful shed to come down - it was right on the edge of his property line, and it was hooked up to his electricity! Who knows how that all came about 40-some-odd years ago. We've been out with him and his family a few times, and he's a great beer-drinking buddy.

Then Hal moved in. The house next to Mike's was vacant as far as we knew - an actor lived there and passed away after we moved here. The house had been left to Hal, and I still remember the first day we met. He stopped by - I think he was borrowing a ladder - and I was a mess, in my not-quite-for-public sloppy/lounging clothes and my horribly cluttered house. He had on a pair of well-worn overalls and the kindest eyes. It wasn't long before we'd start chatting in the alley and learning more about each other. When I found out he was in an episode of Buffy, I was secretly star-struck. He's been a lovely neighbor and dear friend - and he makes the best Eggplant Parmesan I've ever had. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of him, but here's his sweet dog, Vanya.

After the older couple with the crazy dog retired and moved farther upstate, a couple our age moved in. We had some fun, went out a few times, but they moved after the husband took a new job, and we were left without a neighbor once again. Many folks came by, but the house remained on the market for some time. And then came Brad and Angela.

Brad, a very pregnant Angela, and their toddler ended up moving into the house behind us. As with any new neighbor situation, we were polite but a little reserved. After all, you never know if they're the kind of neighbor who spies on you (we have one of those across the street) or who drunkenly shouts about guns and pregnant teens (we have several of those too). As the months passed, we realized we had more and more in common as Brad came by for Joe's help on a house project, often with home-grown veggies or herbs in hand. Neighbors with tomatoes, huzzah!

Sorry - I don't have a picture of Angela - she's usually chasing down their two boys.

They were the missing piece of our water-tower-neighbor puzzle. Last summer they put together a neighborhood cookout for the four houses: them, us, Mike's family, and Hal. We all brought chairs and food, and it was a lovely time of fellowship and fun. They're the neighbors I can run to at 7:00 at night for a cup of sugar, and they likewise stop by if their DSL is acting up and they need to print boarding passes.

But my heart was in my throat when I came home from work after a very snowy day to find this:

Brad had taken our communal snow-blower and did our entire parking area (including near the shop, where the truck is parked). And their four-year-old wanted to help me clean the snow off my car. When I kept profusely thanking Brad, he just shrugged it off and said he and the boys had fun being outside. That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is one freakin' awesome neighbor.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nothing to See Here...

There is so little that is blogworthy right now. Which shows you how arrogant I must be by writing about that nothing that is going on in my life.

I'm knitting up a storm on Special Secret Project #2, and I have to be honest here. I'm tired of knitting it. In a normal, non-deadlined environment, I'd be putting this puppy aside for a while. But I must not falter - I have to finish by the end of February so I can play with pretty sock yarn in March.

During my slight bout with knitting ADD last night, I picked out and wound up yarn for the sock-along that I'll be participating in next month. We'll be making Monkey, and I chose lovely Rocket Yarn in Little Green Men. I love this yarn! Granted, I've been dealing with worsted cotton and acrylics since November, so this is kind of like handing me a plate of macaroni-n-cheese after being on a bran diet, but it really is lovely yarn. I had an unfortunate incident in winding Ball #2 (my swift doesn't clamp, and my winder has been acting funny), so I have a bit of untangling to do. But I'm patient with The Precious.

Other than that, I've been watching the cats look cute...

Coz, trying his best to capture all the heat he can.

And sweet Dobby, showing everyone how he wraps Mommy around his little finger.

I also spent the weekend finally digging into and reorganizing my stash...

Yes, these drawers are in the hallway. But that's part of the process - we're finally going to make the Bastard Room into a real room - you know, with paint, and shelves, and not just a bunch of boxes on the floor. It's a small room, and it'll be cheap to fix up - makes me feel like we're making progress with the house without going into deeper debt. Those things are important.

I still have a good bit of sweater yarn that didn't fit into these, but I think I made progress. And just look at the sock yarn lovelies...

...sigh. I can't wait to knit socks again. I might not ever stop.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


We had a bit of a snow/ice storm last night. The drive home wasn't bad - just snowy. Got all comfy-cozy with the cats and knitting and settled down for the evening. I woke up a bit early this morning, knowing that it takes some time to clean off the truck, do some shoveling, etc.

But then I woke up to this...

What's wrong with this picture? Our alleyway isn't supposed to be reflective. That's a solid sheet of ice. We probably got a plow up here around midnight, but nothing since. So rather than the crunchy snow we have everywhere else, we have solid ice. For the four houses beneath the water tower, this is our only way to get to the main road:

Down this Icy Hill of Death. I haven't even seen a plow make it up this morning. Four-wheel-drive doesn't mean much when you're driving on an ice rink.

The footprints in this picture are mine - when I got went out to clear off the truck, wandered over to the alley, and went, "Oh, hell no!" I tried to break through the ice with a shovel - didn't happen.

And so I wait until (1) the temp warms up a bit or (2) something heavy makes it up the hill and creates tracks. I'm feeling pretty useless in the meantime, though...maybe I'll go knit.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I've Got Friends to Keep Me Warm

Yesterday was a weird weather day - alternating periods of snow and sunshine. At some points, it really wasn't cold. Then the wind picked up. Then the snow. For about 45 minutes, it was the closest to white-out conditions that I'd ever seen - snow flying horizontally and in great volume. During this time, as I was paying bills, I heard this loud noise coming from the porch. I figured something had blown up against the house...

The wind had blown an oak chair roughly 3 feet across the porch. See the slide marks the feet made? Yeah. Lots of wind. Didn't sleep much last night due to the howling, but all is well today. Just really, really cold.

When I came home this afternoon, my heart was warmed with giggles when I saw a package from Hanks at my front door. I knew it could only be one thing: our golf bag, from the fiber-frenzy that was Rhinebeck 2007. Well, that, or a boat-load of yarn, or Sharon waiting to bust out and surprise me. It was indeed the golf bag, with a few goodies!

Sharon wrote the funniest note: I, um, have no idea what this stuff is... Looks like I've got some good felting wool and a nice mohair blend. Yay for my Hanks buddies! :) I can't believe you mailed luggage back to me. You rawk.

On another note, I'm sending lots of hugs to a friend a long ways away. You're always there for me, and I hope you know I'm here for you. Love you much, sweetie.

May your friends keep you warm and loved!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

With Apologies to the Commodores

Yesterday I did simple tasks - went to the feed store for cat food, picked up some sandwiches for lunch, did some laundry, watched Fellowship of the Ring while knitting and napping with my kitties...then we joined some wonderful friends for dinner at Skytop. This morning, I woke up at 4am, scolded myself for opening my eyelids so early, then went back to sleep until almost 7. I got up to feed the cats and saw this:

This tells me it's a good day to just be. I have some bills to pay, more laundry to do, definitely more knitting to do, but I just look out the window and sigh. Of course, the weather changed a bit after the sun rose...

Kind of heavy flakes, but no real accumulation. A perfect snow to just watch and then snuggle deeper under your blanket on the couch.

I can feel the tension release my shoulders. 'Cuz this is going to be one easy Sunday morning...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Still Here...

The bad thing about "surprise" knitting for other people is that you can't blog about your progress. Much like Pam's baby's blanket, my current WIP is on Double Secret Probation. So...nothing.

Cats are fine, knitting is fine, weather has been not-really-winter-but-still-fine.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have something Creole happenin' in the crock pot that needs my attention soon...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Multi-Platinum YAYS!!!

I just got a phone call from a dear friend with some AWESOME news!

Remember where we're going this summer? With my mom and her friends? Well, the Newby clan is coming too! WHOOOOOOOOT! OMGPONIESANDBBQ!!!!1! They live in France now, and they'll be able to skip on down to Tuscany for a week of R&R with us crazies.

This is Kristin and Peter, back in 1993, when I was living with Peter (totally platonic - he was the best roommate ever).

Kristin and I met back at OU our freshman year (yes, *GASP*, 18 years ago). This is the first photo in my photo album, folks, and it was the day of our 21st birthday bash - Peter and I had birthdays close to each other, and we went all-out for a mutual par-tay. I have such fond memories of that place - the corn plant with Christmas tinsle, the rednecks wrestling downstairs, the yard sale furniture I brought to the place, the wobbly table with the freaky leg...

It was this fateful birthday party night that I first started dating a certain someone...

Yes, ladies and gentlemen - I married the boy who passed out at my 21st birthday party. You never know what the future holds, folks. ;)

Kristin & Peter - we are so very excited to be able to spend time with you and your kids. It's sad how life gets us so busy that we haven't seen each other in years, but to get together during a week in paradise will be simply perfect.


I'm not a native New Yorker. In fact, I'm not even a New Yorker. I reside in New York. I love it here, but I'm not a fan some of the people.

Or any of their sports teams.

Having attended college in Atlanta during the Braves' first major wins in the 90's, it's hard for me to root for anyone but them. Between Joe and me, we could be rooting for a number of college teams: Florida, Georgia Tech, Georgia, and most SEC schools. Too bad Oglethorpe hasn't had a football team since the 1930's. I've never been much of a pro-football fan, but I supported the Falcons when they went to the Super Bowl that one year - that year that half of Atlanta's power was wiped out for about an hour before the game.

Here, there aren't that many college teams. Comparatively speaking. I mean, a ninety-minute drive could take you between two major football powerhouse college towns in Georgia (Athens and Atlanta) - here, not so much. There doesn't seem to be a lot of community support for college sports (well, maybe West Point, but who can't beat Army most seasons?).

But ooooooooh, the pro sports. Yankees, Mets, Giants, oh my. All kinds of Jersey teams get mixed in as well. And there is nothing - NOTHING - more annoying and aggressive than the fans. I've been told that I'm in New York now - I have to cheer for the right teams. Have to. For every win that the Yankees have, the Mets fans at work get hassled. Vice versa for a Mets win. Even if it's the first game of the season. Everyone is IN YO FACE about their team - the best team EVAH.

So it just about pushed me over the edge yesterday while I was at the grocery store - Giants fans EVERYWHERE stocking up for the parties they would have tonight. I hate crowds anyway, and crowds at the grocery store just make me cranky. There was not one single aisle that I went down where I didn't have to wait while two people and carts, blocking both "lanes" of travel, stood, debated, talked on cell phones, and made crucial decisions about which onion dip or paper plates to buy. Then, at checkout, I got to hear a very irritated (and loud) older woman tell her friend about this coupon:
It's fifty-noin cents a pahhnd for tha Purdue roaster. Have ya husband pick it up - I don't need any. Why didn't they put this in the moaaning papah? I coulda used it. But fifty-noin cents a paaahnd - you'd be stoopid not to pick it up. Yadda yadda yadda, ad nauseum.

Mornings like that make me very bitter about living here and make me want to move upstate where not so many formerly-city-folks have migrated. They talk like normal people (as opposed to Rosie Perez or Joan Rivers), they help others, and they're just plain nice. If we have kids and raise them here, I'm going to give them speech lessons every day of their lives in order to not have a New York accent. It's like nails on a chalkboard to me. I really love living here, but there are some things I just haven't gotten used to.

That's why I cheer for the Boston Red Sox and, tonight, the New England Patriots. Because nothing pisses off NY fans more than a Boston/New England win. :)

Okay - rant over - look at the pretty groundhog!

This is Homer, who lives under our house. This is NOT a picture from yesterday, where it was icy and overcast. Homer didn't see his shadow yesterday, because I doubt he even came out of his den. He's no fool.