Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My tissue-paper skin

A woman slices her thumb open on a hard-boiled egg.

She is:

(a) obviously too delicate for this cold, cruel world.
(b) rushing through peeling an egg when she should've been more careful.
(c) Dr. B. -- tenderest of skins, bitterest of spirits.
(d) all of the above.

I promise to return soon with non-exam formatted entries and more crafting-related content.

In the meantime, please keep your eggs away from me.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Creativity sparks

Keri Smith is a genius. A real, honest-to-goodness creative genius. What's more, she's a person who inspires others to be creative.

Living Out Loud: Activities to Fuel a Creative Life is a book she wrote a while back, and it is fantastic. Become Your Own Superhero and The Daring Dice of Transformation templates are just two examples of cool things in her book.

The latest exciting development in Keri Smith land, is that for the last twenty-some-odd days, she's been taking part in Create-a-thing-a-day Month, and she's posting about it on her blog. Lots of cool ideas -- I particularly like her idea of "unbranding" products in her home. She really seems to specialize in making the ordinary extraordinary. And I like this very much.

Check out her blog for some amazing ways to stay creative, inspired, and engaged with the world around you. Many (if not all) the activities are great for both adults and kids.

She's done all the heavy lifting, and we get to benefit from her brilliance -- just the way I like it when I'm short on time (which I will be for the next few days. Doesn't mean Dr. B. doesn't love you. It just means Dr. B.'s short on time.).

Make stuff!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Getting into and out of the groove: Part III

Los Angeles is a city. Right? You'd call it a city. However, the parts that make up Los Angeles are also called cities, rendering the word "city" kind of meaningless.

Where do you live?
Los Angeles.
Oh, really? Where?

I've never fully understood how that works exactly. It's kind of like ordering a carbonated beverage in Texas.

What would you like to drink?
I'll have a coke.
What kind? We have Sprite, Dr. Pepper, root beer, Coke.
(If you're a local) I'll have a Dr. Pepper.
(If you're not) Um. I'll have a Coke.

Or like "sizes" on women's clothing. Why even bother with a number when a size 8 at one store is a 12 at another? "Size"? A meaningless word.

Anway, when I say NWAI and I zipped across town for B-SNAK's birthday, we were going from one city in Los Angeles to another city in Los Angeles. Not a big deal. We do it all the time.

According to Yahoo maps, the distance from my house to B-SNAK's is a mere 8.3 miles, and the approximate travel time by car is 17 minutes. Makes sense. We're just zipping across town. Sure. Ok.

The trip to her place in the morning was lovely. NWAI and I stopped for cupcakes on the way, had a lovely discussion about the complexities of admiring Justin Timberlake (Dick in a Box is an undeniable work of genius), and we got across town plenty quick. It was, I don't know, maybe 20 or 25 minutes.

So you can imagine we were quite stunned when the return trip -- same exact route -- took one hour and forty-five minutes to complete. Wait. Let me put that another way. In the time we could've watched a feature-length Hollywood film, we travelled 8 miles by car. Eight. Miles.

We left B-SNAK's at at 5:30 pm, and pulled up to my place at 7:15 pm. In the time it took us to travel about 4 blocks, we watched the sun set.

5:34 - around the corner from B-SNAK's

NWAI: Wow! This is kind of bad.
Me: Huh. Yeah. Well, it is rush hour.
NWAI: Good thing we have the 2007 Grammy nominees CD!
Me: Awesome!

We laugh. We dance. We talk about how great stamping together is.

5:45 - we've travelled 2 blocks

Me: Hmm. This is pretty bad.
NWAI: Yeah. It is.
Me: My sidekick made reservations for us for 8:00 for a late Valentine's Day dinner. I'm sure we'll be fine.
NWAI: Oh, you'll be totally fine.

We sing along to Sexy Back. We laugh some more. We talk about Valentine's Day.

5:50 - not moving at all in traffic

Me: Oh, shit. I think I was supposed to get him a present.
NWAI: Uh oh.
Me: Shit.
NWAI: We can stop somewhere.
Me: No. That's silly. It'll be fine.
NWAI: We can totally stop.
We both find this hilarious, as we are already completely stopped.

For the next 5 blocks or so -- let's say the next 30 minutes -- we joke about my hopping out of the car and running into one of the shops on the street to buy him a gift.

NWAI: He'd love some bubble wrap and boxes for shipping.
Me: Nothing says love like hardware and wiring.
NWAI: If you bought him an insurance policy, he'd really know you care.
Me: Check it out. It's a sex store!
NWAI: We can totally stop.
We find this hilarious again, because we are still, for all intents and purposes, stopped.

It went on like this for a while, until finally I mustered the courage to call my sidekick and sheepishly ask if I was supposed to have gotten a present. My sidekick is awesome. He not only said there were no presents required, but he also offered to move the reservation if it would help.

I think it was around this time that the punchiness set in. That's the only thing I can figure happened. Because next thing I know, NWAI has turned up the music, is looking at me with the most hilarious look I ever saw, and is singing along with (Grammy-nominated) My Humps. This. Is. A. New. Low. This is hands-down the worst song I've ever heard in my life, and she's singing along, knowing it's horrible, and smiling from ear to ear. This song is to music what our car ride is to commuting. The worst of the worst.

The good news? We've now got a new standard.

How was your drive?
It was pretty bad.
Was it My Humps bad?
Well, no. Now that you mention it, I guess it could've been worse.

Thank God for carpooling. And the bus lane. (Oh! Is this the bus lane? No wonder we raced past all those other cars. Sorry.)

Los Angeles: A city of cities, where you can drive 8 miles in 2 hours and decide that there's an upside to My Humps. God bless it.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Today's lesson is on Random Acts of Kindness. I think we can all learn a little something here.

Frequent commenter, spearheader of Knit a Square for Grandmother Purl, and all-around nice person Kristy just sent me this Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn:

And these stitch markers... that she made.

Aren't they beautiful? Doesn't that little flower bead just kick it right over?

She said it was just a little something since I'd just had Debacle Week and all.

Who is that nice?
She is, apparently.

Here's a very important piece of information: I only know Kristy from the blogging. We "met" via the world wide web when I was the first one to send in squares for the Gramma Purl project. Ever since then, despite many serious crises befalling her and her family, she has never ceased to come by my blog and leave a comment that is kind and supportive.

Oh, yeah. And then she sent gifts.

People. Seriously. Come on. If everyone in the world were as thoughtful as she is, the world would be a lovely place indeed.

Thank you, Kristy, for the beautiful gifts and the online support. And for reminding us all that, no matter what we may have going on, we can always do something kind for someone.

(Hey! Guess who's getting a thank you card?)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Getting into and out of the groove: Part II

So. The groove. Isn't it the best feeling when you're in it? And doesn't it both suck and blow when you're out of it? Damn that groove.

Anyway, as I was saying, it had been a while since I last stamped. Usually a social activity for me, stamping almost always happens with B-SNAK and our other very good friend who I'll just call Ms. Refusing to Watch American Idol Even Though LaKisha Jones May Very Well Be The Most Amazing Woman Anyone Has Ever Seen In The History of Ever, Because Ms. Refusing Already Has Too Many Shows She's Watching, Esquire. Too long for a nickname? How about Not Watching American Idol? NWAI. That's better.

Ok. So, the three of us have been stamping together for years now. We get together, play awesome music, crack wise, make cards, and laugh a great deal. We also threaten to punch one another in the face a lot. It's usually in this context:

NWAI (to me): Did you see what B-SNAK just made?
Me: No.
B-SNAK: Look!! (holds up a ridiculously intricate and beautiful card that she made in about two seconds)
Me (to NWAI): What a little bitch.
NWAI: I'm gonna punch her in the face.
Me: She knows what she did.

Oh, to be clear: any one of us can be the little bitch in the above scenario. It's just usually B-SNAK, because she's a card-making machine.

This day was no different. It was B-SNAK's birthday, and she was on fire.

Usually, she'll look through magazines or books for ideas, and she'll limit the supplies she's using. Lately, she's been using items from kits (she's a member of an evil monthly stamp club). But, she was already five steps ahead of the game on Friday. Believe me, it was "B-SNAK is a little bitch"-this and "You know what you did"-that all morning. NWAI just jumped right in, too, like she hadn't missed a beat, and she finished 12 cards in about 5 minutes. Right back into the groove!

Me? Yes, well. You won't be surprised that my snail's pace isn't limited to just knitting and sewing. As the tornado of productivity whirled around me, I slowly made my way through my supplies, testing things out. I calibrated my expectation machine, ensuring everything was properly low. But I stayed strong. And positive.

So you can imagine that I was thrilled when I created this combination of stamps and inks:

My inside voice: Thank God I can still figure out how to put things together.
My outside voice: Who's a little bitch, now?

Woo hoo! This pleased me greatly. B-SNAK has taught me many things, and one of them is when you create a good card, make multiples. I made 10 of these. (Most of them aren't as wonky as the one on top appears.) So! Happy! The dust, the agony... all worth it!

I'll save you some legwork. Here are the specs for those cards:

Stamps: Impress - large circle of dots, thank you dot
Inks: Versamagic - Jumbo Java, Pink Petunia
Papers: Bazzill - Parakeet, Chocolate; Stampin' Up - Ultrasmooth Vanilla

In the spirit of adventurousness I tried two other things in the afternoon, and was underwhelmed. They're fine. Not terrible. Fine.


Stamps: Leavenworth Jackson - dude in hat and coat, clouds; Zettiology - tree in background; unknown company - tree stamp to represent "grass"
Inks: Versamagic - Jumbo Java; Versamark - for watermark images of clouds, "grass", and tree in background (on cream-colored part)
Paper: Fabriano card (see photo of box below)
Ephemera: little cardboard Scrabble tiles, individually cut out with little scissors and adhered with Diamond Glaze

Stamps: Zettiology - tree branch with bird; Impress - happy birthday
Inks: Versamagic - Jumbo Java, Red Brick, Aegean Blue (applied to stamp with Stampin' Up blender pen)
Paper: Fabriano card

As an aside, I heart Fabriano cards. But they are so expensive, it's ridiculous. Paper shouldn't be that expensive. Talk about some bitches.

In the third and final installment of "...the Groove", I shall regale you with the story of NWAI's and my car ride to and from B-SNAK's house. It'll kinda be like a buddy/road picture, only shorter. And without the moving pictures part. But, I assure you, there'll be just as much cursing and sass!

("Cursing and Sass" appears courtesy of Cursing and Sass, attorneys-at-law, specializing in personal injury and intellectual property.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Getting into and out of the groove: Part I

It's been a while since my rubber stamps and inks have seen the light of day. A long, sad while. So when B-SNAK said she wanted to have a Stamping Day at her house for her birthday, I was really excited. Excited and -- if I'm honest -- a little nervous.

What if I've forgotten how to do it? What if all my inks have dried up? What if it's been so long since I've stamped that when I finally get them out, I become incapacitated with disgust because
all my rubber stamps are of ducks dressed as doctors or pigs doing somersaults or something? Ugh. Why have I not done more stamping? Why have I squandered my resources?

(FYI: That little tour of my brain? Free of charge!)

It was B-SNAK's birthday. I had to push through that nonsense. I held my breath, didn't look too closely, and packed my supplies for the trip to her house.

Ok. So I looked closely. And with some judgement. But, look at those signs of neglect! What is my problem?

Hey, now that I think about it, this is similar to another experience I have sometimes. I don't know if you've ever had this, but when I haven't exercised in a while and then I start again, I find myself saying, "Why haven't I been working out?" But I'm saying it to myself while I'm working out! As I am doing a set of sit-ups I'm thinking this. Completely ridiculous. I am actively doing the thing I'm saying I want to be doing and simultaneously giving myself grief for not doing it. I am a genius. I'm half-tempted to do it about writing right now. And I'm writing!

I'll tell you all about Stamping Day and even show you the items that came out of it. But first, I want everyone to stop giving themselves grief (that includes me) and enjoy the rest of your day. Life's too short. Deal? Awesome.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Little peek

There's more where this came from.

A Note from the Expectation Management Department: It's not that big a deal. I'm just short on time right this second. So please don't get the wrong idea. I'm not teasing you because the big reveal is gonna change your life or anything. Just so we're clear. At this time, we ask that you please set your expectations to "low". Thank you.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Coaster photo parade

I don't want to gloat about the success of the do-overs. No, no. Please. Dr. B. doesn't like to gloat. These photos are primarily so that my PIC can see the final, final result of my latest coaster project/my birthday gift for B-SNAK (aka, The Coaster Debacle of '07).

Sidebar: Consider yourselves lucky I've deviated from the original plan for my blog wherein every entry would fall into one of three categories: (1) Hey, PIC, check out what I made! (2) Hey, PIC, you have to go to this awesome website! or (3) Hey, PIC, your job is really hard! And my hair looks really curly today for some reason.

So, this post would be a Category 1. But, you can all look. It's not for my PIC's eyes only. Apologies in advance for the crappy lighting.

Twelve coasters in all -- half of them quilted, half of them not -- and I tried to make the quilting design different on each one. I didn't do the free-motion thing that I'd toyed with. When I do try that technique in earnest, that project is sure to have "Not Gift Quality" written all over it.

Oh, if you're interested, here's an overhead shot before sewing:

So hey, PIC! Your job is really hard. And, you know what? My hair is actually pretty straight right now, but my part is kinda too far over to the right so it looks weird. But who cares? It's the middle of the night, and who's lookin'? Right?

Carry on.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Procrastination and Bandwagons

I've decided procrastination serves a purpose I hadn't really realized before: Ramping up.

Let's say someone has a big thing they have to do like, oh I don't know, study for a Big Exam (BE). Let's also say that person knows they always wait until the last minute to study for such things. So, rather than schedule the BE for a ways away, with some reasonable amount of time to prepare, this person says, "You know what? I'll just schedule it for a couple of weeks from now. That's how long I end up studying anyway, right at the end. I'll cut out the middle man -- procrastination!"

Bad. Idea.

Here's why: Going from a lovely life of crafting and working to a life of intensive studying -- overnight? Shocking to the system. It's going from basking in sunshine and frolicking with puppies all day, every day, to working in an olive factory. For me? This means no sunshine. No puppies. Just gross, slimy olives. And audio tapes and practice exams and... Oh. Wait. This was hypothetical. This isn't me. I have this friend.

Here's the point: While procrastinating, you're actually thinking about the thing you're supposed to be doing. This thinking -- the mulling -- is key. Sure, there's a little guilt and anguish thrown into the mix in the process. But the procrastination is getting you ready for The Big Push, easing you in, buffering against shocks to your tender and delicate system.

So, in that spirit, I'm considering jumping on a bandwagon.You know, to help with the mulling. I mean, my friend is considering it.

You should click on that bandwagon link to see the beautiful scarf all the hipsters are making.

These are the yarns currently being considered. You might remember them from my Christmas haul. Socks that Rock yarns in X-mas Rock and Farmhouse:

The way the cool kids are making this scarf is by alternating two different colored yarns. So, here's a little test of these two:

This is hardly a big enough test to tell how it these look together, I realize. So, I don't know if I'll use these or not. Or if I'll make the scarf at all. But the bandwagon looks like so much fun! I obviously haven't procrastinated enough yet to know how to proceed.

It is all in the mulling, people.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

100%. Pure. Love.

Hey! This my 100th post. And it's Valentine's Day. You know what that means?

It means it was meant to be! Me and my blog. We're a match made in heaven. Soul mates. I mean, we like all the same things and laugh at the same jokes. That says it all right there! Well, we also have chemistry. You know, it's organic. And my 100th post fell on Valentine's Day! That, my friends, is a sign. A sign that Blather Magather is The One!

Also? It knows how I'm feeling without me having to tell it.


Wait a minute.

That doesn't even make any sense. How could it possibly know how I'm feeling without me telling it? Wouldn't that just mean it was deciding for me how I was feeling? Hmmm.

I guess that raises another issue about our love, now that I think about it. The issue is this: If it really loved me, it would just know to do certain things and not do other things. Right? Huh.

That doesn't make any sense either. Unless I tell it, how would it know? Without me saying, my blog would just be going along with some random/pre-made/cockamamie idea about how love should be demonstrated. "I thought you'd appreciate taking a break from blogging, and that's why I went ahead and scheduled an outage without talking to you about it. It was for you, baby!" I'm quite sure I'm not for that.

Don't get me wrong. If my blog and I have discussed things I don't like -- let's say, orange-flavored things or olives -- and my blog doesn't remember this after a few reminders, we've got some trouble. Legitimate trouble. Because the third time my blog brings me an Orange Crush and a bag of olives for lunch, I'll need to know what's up. Is it indifference toward my preferences? Hostility? Is it brain damage of some kind? I'll have concerns. Let's leave it at that.

But back to our love. I love my blog. I am happily committed to the relationship. It's like once we made this commitment official, we were no longer two individuals. We became one.

Ok. Wait. We became "one"? Like the number? See, that's just not possible. That's like saying I'm riding my unicorn to work. (Everyone knows there's no way a unicorn could handle LA traffic without goring some people along the way.) So, everyone should also know there's no way to make 2 = 1. No way.

I have some serious thinking to do.

Hearts and flowers,
Dr. B.

P.S. Thanks for being around for my first hundred posts! Here's to many more.

P.P.S. To be clear: I am the luckiest girl in the world. All my relationships are based on principles of respect and support, saying things that are hard to say, figuring things out together as a team, and trying our best to be the best partners we can be to one another. Not a single one of the people in my life would ever bring me an Orange Crush or a bag of olives. Ever. And for that (and many other things), they're all my Valentine every day of the year.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Turn "Debacles" into "Prep Time" with a few simple Do-Overs!

If at first you don't succeed, try...



Ha HA! Guess what? Those coasters are fixed.

Lots of patience and loving kindness went into the re-sewing, and I'm pleased with how they're going so far.

There are only a couple of downsides as I see them at this stage.

(1) It is possible that some grumbles and eye-rolls pushed past the loving kindness and made their way into the do-overs. (Oh, gross. I didn't mean "eye-rolls" like "egg rolls". I meant it like... you know what I meant. Eye rolls would be disgusting.)

(2) Matthew commented that he likes to have the coasters split open so that guests can enjoy the stuffing as an appetizer. These sewn-up coasters mean the parties are gonna be B.Y.O.-stuffing if that's your thing. Sorry, Matthew.

There are still quite a few coasters left to make. But, this being the second time I've made them, I'm now more sure than I've ever been that there's no! way! I could "make these the day of the party", as Purl suggests. How would that even be possible? I don't know.

What I do know is this: Do-overs are a glorious thing.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Love is respect

Because I am apparently 97 years old, I had no idea about this. (For other similar blind spots, see post about crayons, surgeons, and scales.) (Don't make me tell you what Crayons, Surgeons, and Scales is going to be the name of.)

Ok. Now for the serious.

I hadn't thought about the ways that people might be using text messages and e-mails to intimidate, control, or abuse their partners. This turns out to be a very big problem, particularly among teenagers. This article gives an overview of the research. From the article:
WHERE are you now? What are you doing? Jealous teenagers often send messages like these with their handphones and computers to harass and control their romantic partners. And most victims of the abuse are reluctant to discuss it with their parents, a US survey showed on Thursday.

The survey, carried out by Teenage Research Unlimited, found nearly one in every four teens in a relationship had received hourly text messages or phone calls to check up on them between midnight and 5am. One out of six said they had received messages 10 or more times an hour overnight.

'Contacting someone that frequently with such questions is simply about control and intimidation. It's not a casual conversation,' said Ms Jane Randel, a vice-president for clothing retailer Liz Claiborne, which commissioned the survey.

The site Love is Respect has been set up as a resource to address this problem and offer help. It's for teens and parents, with helpful information, toll-free phone/TTY numbers, and a chat feature.

Other sites also do this I'd imagine (but in my old age, this is just a guess) -- before gaining access to the site, a security warning pops up, letting you know how to quickly escape from it should you need to (i.e., in case the person doing the intimidating/controlling/abusing comes around) . The "escape" button on the site quickly redirects you to Google when you click it.

Since kids aren't talking about it with their parents for fear they'll lose access to their cell phones or computers, I think this is an important resource to know about and pass on to others.

We live in a time where people are taught to believe that "how much" you love someone is equal to how jealous you get (or how much you check in on them, or how much you tell them who they should talk to or what they should wear). I look forward to the time when we stop asking "how much" and just really focus on "how".

Peace and love,
Dr. B.

Friday, February 09, 2007

All debacles. All the time.

In theory, this should be a cute hat. The color is really lovely, and the yarn is super-soft. And who doesn't love soft things? No one.

But this hat is not cute.

It really isn't.

I'm considering adding a hip little brim to the front part. (What is that called? A "brim"? No. That can't be right. You know, the front part of a cap. Wow! Not a "bill". Sheesh.) Anyway, I have this much yarn left.

That could be enough yarn to make the front part, and then it might look hip and cool, and not like gramma's bathing cap.

You know I like to learn from my mistakes. And I think the lesson here is (oh boy) I don't like crocheted items. Don't be mad. I think they are really cute on other people. And I've seen some really cool crocheted things out in the world. In fact, when I was watching my beloved Uncommon Threads, there were some women on there who inspired me to crochet this hat in the first place. And crochet is so fast, it makes it really appealing.

I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or anything, but I think crocheted items are quite fun to make, but rarely (not never) -- in my experience -- cute. Oof.

But, hey! You know what? I've really made Debacle Week a huge success! Right? Huh? Who's with me?

Debacles for everyone!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Testing it out

Important policy that was overlooked in the coaster debacle of '07? Test Things Out.

Ask my PIC, and she'll tell you that this is a long-standing policy with me. It's not her style to test things out, and about half the time, she regrets it. But the other half, she gleefully races past me toward the finish line of her project, mocking my snail's pace at every turn.

So what happened to me and the coasters? (Me and The Coasters, autobiography, due out Spring 2008) Well. Every now and then an Act of Hubris comes along and challenges the very essence of the Test Things Out policy. I've made these coasters before! Wasn't that testing out enough? What am I, Testmaster 3000?

Racing ahead without contemplation is never a good idea. Never. (Wanna scroll down to those coasters photos again?)

Oh. I also like to make mistakes just the once. Learn from it, and don't make the same mistake again. It's what I prefer. You may prefer to make the same mistake multiple times. For what reason, I can only guess. But I rock it just the once. (Huh. There's that hubris again.) (Oh yes, and: Rock It Just the Once, album to be released on major label, Summer 2009)

Ok. So, to the issue at hand. I usually hand-quilt my items rather than machine-quilt them, unless the items are small. This makes no sense, I realize. But, for the small items, I usually just zip them through the machine a few times -- some straight lines of sewing -- and I'm done. The machine does the majority of the work.

I'm considering machine-quilting these coasters, and that would be fine. But, I'm also considering free motion quilting. What is that, you ask? Well, this is not just zipping it through the machine with straight lines, with the machine feeding the fabric right through. This is making it so that the machine does none of the pushing of fabric. It's all up to you to move the fabric around willy-nilly to create the design of the sewing/quilting.

But I am NOT going to just start free motion quilting on my precious coasters. What am I? A glutton for punishment?

So! Free Motion Quilting Test: Numbers 1 and 2:

The first was just me squiggling around, trying not to get the thread all tangled. On the second, I was seeing if I could follow a pattern drawn on the fabric.

When I was done, I thought it looked a little like that doggie sniffing a flower.

That's a stretch, but I need this, people. Confidence is shaky over here.

Huh! Isn't that amazing? Hubris comes in and gets you doing things against your better judgement. Then, when things don't go well as a result, your confidence is shot, leaving the door wide open for Hubris to come sweeping right in again with its promises of Confidence and Power! Wow. What do you know? Hubris never pays.

(Promises of Confidence and Power, manifesto, to be self-published, Summer 2007)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

How to flunk Home Ec

Some classes I took in high school: Algebra. Trigonometry. Calculus. Chemistry. Biology.

Some classes I didn't take in high school, or ever: Typing. Home Economics.

Ironic that now I have a blog that requires a great deal of typing about topics that were probably covered quite thoroughly in Home Economics.

Like Basic Sewing.

Here's a little coaster from the set I'm making, exactly like the ones I made before. Well. They aren't exactly like the ones before. I'm using different fabrics. Oh. And these seem to have some problems.

At a glance, you might think the problem you have here is the bottom little opening. No, no silly. That's just as it should be. That is the part that gets sewn up after you turn the whole thing right-side out. That is not your problem. In fact, it's the least of your worries.

Here's your problem:

This side view clearly captures the defining feature of Basic Sewing Deficiency Syndrome (BSDS) -- an inability to sew a seam allowance. Sewing too close to the edge makes the whole thing come apart. Basic. Idea. In. Sewing.

If you are kind, which I think you are, you might be willing to let me slide on this one. It's a tiny little hole. Sew it closed. No big deal. Okay. Swell.

So, how about this one?

Same thing with the bottom opening -- disregard. Everything else seems fine.

But, please look closely here:

Oh, wait! No looking closely needed! The WHOLE SIDE is very obviously split open! Full-blown BSDS-style.

I could take this opportunity to open a discussion about the political implications of having taken classes that were intended to pave the way for "higher" education (the calculus, the trig) which required the simultaneous marginalization of skills that were emblematic of "women's work" (the typing, the home economics). I could discuss the ways in which the current online community of women re-claiming women's skills has generated an incredible movement that is all at once inspiring and connecting to history and to culture. I could talk about how great it is to be a self-employed professional who uses her brain in complicated ways that include critical thinking, theoretical exploration of experience, while also writing/typing, sewing, knitting and making art.

Instead, I'd just like to say... Can you fucking believe I can't even sew a seam allowance?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Search. Find. Maybe curse a little.

Given that the worldwide web is -- as its name suggests -- about as wide as the world, I'm always excited when someone new comes by the blog here. While my feelings are mixed about the technology involved, I really appreciate knowing how people find me. And it's nice to know we have things in common.

Some of you got here by way of the blanket project for Grandma Purl. Others came over from the Friends of the Purl Bee -- the blog for my beloved Purl. Very kind bloggers who have me on their blogroll have also sent folks my way, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

But then there are people who do a Google search and get me. For better or for worse, Google has suggested that I may be able to help them.

Sometimes it makes perfect sense. The person looking for "cute knitted animal patterns" was probably very happy to find this. "Blather + quilts" may very well have been looking for exactly me. That's pretty glorious! The person wanting to know about the "Chacopel white marking tool" may've been underwhelmed by this; but you win some, you lose some. No harm, no foul.

But then there are others. Oh, the others. I feel terrible for the others. When a person is in a real jam and turns to Google for help, my particular brand of sass (PBOS) is usually not so helpful. Here are some examples of people who came my way, and left -- most likely -- none-too-pleased.

Person's jam/Google search: "shiny red sore throat"
Dr. B. offers: Boo hoo hoo. My throat hurts.
Person's likely response: Fuck you. Who cares? My throat hurts!

Jam: "matthew perry hair plugs"
Dr. B.: Matthew Perry is rich.
Response: Duh. I'm asking, does he or does he not have hair plugs! And if so, how can I get some? Duh!

Jam: "wigs that are too shiny"
Dr. B.: I'm so clever, I can write about shiny rayon embroidery floss and add some glib remark about how it was displayed in a way that made it look like a wig.
Response: That! is no help at all. My WIG is SHINY!

Jam: "chest pains + teeth hurting"
Dr. B.: Blah, blah, blah look at these cute things!! They're so cute!!! Makes my teeth hurt 'cuz they're sooo cute!
Response: (Oh, sweet Lord, I hope there was a response.)

Then, there was one today.

Jam: "buy + 'that's how I roll' trucker hat"
Dr. B.: Wrong place, mister. Keep moving.
Response: I love Ashton Kutcher. I want a trucker hat. Where's the shopping cart?

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about how I would've flunked Home Ec if I'd taken it in high school. This may result in some kid being mad because s/he's gonna flunk out of Home Ec, and this "Dr. B." was no help.

I can't please them all. And to some, I offer a sincere apology for that. To others (talking to you, trucker hat), not so much.

Hey, thank you for coming by. Really. And may all your wigs be dull.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Weight a minute

Back on December 19th of last year, I wrote a post that I put up for about five minutes and then took right down. I was really sick at the time, and I got convinced that I'd written it out of some kind of fever-induced rant. My sidekick had read it and was strangely silent about it. When I encouraged him to explain his reaction, he said that it was such a different tone from everything else I'd written, it might seem out of place. Ok. That seemed fair. And I was so sick, I couldn't really think it through any further than that.

But reading Crazy Aunt Purl's posts recently, it made me realize posting this made/makes all the sense in the world. You know, at a minimum, to add to the dialogue.

Here's to Crazy Aunt Purl. May we all continue to speak up for what's right.


I like to think of myself as a person who's pretty bright. Pretty on top of things. Pretty much, you can't really pull one over on me. Oh, yeah. I'm all that.

But then there've been times where I've felt so tricked by the ways of the world that I've wanted to crawl under the covers and never come out. One was the time someone pointed out that the peach-colored crayon being called "flesh" was inherently racist and feeling like a complete tool that that had never occurred to me. And the other time was when I heard that riddle: A father and his son are in an accident. They are rushed to the ER and the boy needs surgery. The surgeon looks at the boy and says, "I can't operate on this boy. He's my son." How can that be? And I didn't ever get to the point that I figured it out. The person asking the riddle had to tell me it was because the surgeon was the boy's mother. Damn. That shit was deep. And embarrassing. (By the way, this was all quite a long time ago. Just for the record.)

And then there was this set of tricksy, bad ideas:

Here, here stand on this machine. It's awesome! Stand on it! Watch! It's gonna give you a number. And it's not just a number. No, siree! It's a number that tells you all about what kind of person you are! Like it'll tell you if you're disciplined or lazy, in control or out of control, etc.!! It's like magic! The lower the number, the better a person you are. Isn't that awesome?! Oh! And there's no number that's too low! The other thing you can do is repeat that number over and over again in your head, and it'll help you know what you should be doing with your life -- like not eating food, getting some friends together to not eat food and talk about not eating food, and focusing on all the ways you can lower that number, including constantly surveying all your body parts to see which ones are too big. It's a really great machine! This number tells you a lot. You should let it run your life in every way. Let it be your beacon.

Many years ago, the WWNSMW/B-SNAK told me, "Unless you're a baby or have a legitimate medical reason to be weighed, there's no reason you need to get weighed every time you go to the doctor. It's not like they need to see if you're failing to thrive." This was another of those crayon/surgeon moments. If the doctor's office insists on weighing her, she stands facing away from the numbers and asks the person doing the weighing not to tell her the number.

I've been following her lead on this for years now. Sometimes I'm at the doctor for just a check-up. Sometimes, like today, I'm there because I'm sick. Not feeling well. Not my usual self. But, I don't ever get confused about this scale thing.

Woman in the Scrubs: Ok. Just step on the scale here. Let me get your weight.

I put my purse down, kick off the clogs I'm wearing, and face away from the numbers. The woman giggles. Like this is cute that I'm facing the wrong way.

Me: (quite seriously) I don't want to know the number.
Scrubs: (still a little giggly) Oh. OK.

Click, click, clack. She moves the metal pieces behind me on the scale. This takes about 3 seconds. THREE seconds from the time I say I don't want to know the number to the time she says the number out loud, in my ear, matter-of-fact. Not like to herself so she'll remember it when she goes to write it down. Like just full-voice, out loud like, "Here's your weight!"

I clench both my fists, cock my head to the side, and scrunch up my mouth and say, "I really didn't want to know the number."

Scrubs: (still too chipper) Oh. I'm sorry.
Me: (seething)
Scrubs: (realizing she just fucked up) Oh, it's just a habit. You know, it just happens. It's a habit. I didn't mean to... it's a habit.

Yup. It's a habit. No one even pays attention to it anymore. It's just built in and incredibly influential. That machine, its number, and all that goes with it take you completely out of your actual relationship with your body and with food, and into a relationship of self-scrutiny. If I were a woman with an eating disorder, if I had any history of problems with anorexia or bulimia, just hearing that number could send me into a series of life-threatening behaviors. Life-threatening. No joke.

As it is, it's already had a ridiculous effect on me. It's is echoing in my head, almost non-stop.

My thoughts: {That number} {Number again} I should've been clearer with the scrubs lady. I should've said, "You're gonna be tempted to say the number {number} out loud. Don't say it out loud. I don't want to know it. {Number} You can write it down, but don't say it." {Number}

I'm not crazy. I've just been raised in a culture ruled by that machine and the habits associated with that machine.

Oh, but hey! You know what I want for Christmas? I want to know what happens when you step on the scale backwards. Next time you're at the doctor, test it out. And let me know what happens. Nothing would please me more. {Number}

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Dust Gatherer

Sidekick: You're never gonna finish Quiltie.
Me: What are you talking about?
Sidekick: You haven't even touched Quiltie in months.
Me: I've been finishing Christmas presents.
Sidekick: Yeah. Ok.
Me: What! It's February! I have to finish my Christmas presents.
Sidekick: Poor Quiltie.
Me: Dude. Christmas. Do you know it? It's in December.
Sidekick: Poor, poor Quiltie.
Me: (resigned) Yes, honey. Poor Quiltie.

I begrudgingly admit I may've mismanaged the Los Angeles cold snap, not grabbing big ole Quiltie, the queen-sized quilt, and working on it while the weather was right for it. My Sidekick is absolutely right.

There are some perfectly good reasons for this, and I'd like to start with the main one. But to be most effective, this will require some participation on your part. Is that OK? Ok. Do me a favor. Snap your fingers. Just one snap is fine. How long was that noise you made? Really? Well, that was how long it was cold in LA. Cold. SNAP. I don't care what anyone else tells you. That's why they call it a "snap".

Second, and also within reason, I've been finishing all those delicious Christmas gifts, including the belle of the ball -- the heating pad cover.

All six velcro pieces and the little label have been sewn on, and it's off to my beloved SIL tomorrow. I decided to leave the applique adventure for another time. With all your tips and encouragement, this will likely be sooner rather than later. Thank you to everyone who chimed in to help with the decision-making and support!

Also, at my mom's work, "climate control" apparently means "make it bone-chillingly cold." So, once the second Fetching mitt has a thumb, the pair will be off to her straight away. (If only my mom were making a queen-sized quilt! Curses!)

Still to complete: a dark grey pair of socks, a pair of grey socks with bullying tendencies, one lone sock to complete a pair, and that god-forsaken Star Wars hat. It'll be 80 degrees this weekend, and there'll be a football game on. Perfect for knitting all those things.

Hang in there, Quiltie. Someone needs to gather all that dust. It might as well be you, little fella.