Friday, April 27, 2007

A little of this and that....

Harry Kalas called Phillies pitcher Freddy Garcia "Freddy Gonzales" last night...

Awesome Daily News headline yesterday (after the Nationals beat Cole Hamels): "Nats Sting Cole"

Here's a sign I spotted last weekend:

Yes, kindness counts, and if you don't believe us we'll send a rocket at ya!!!

A customer came in the store the other day shopping for a project to make for her son's teacher for an end-of the year gift. This of course got me to thinking and I've decided to make this for Gus's teacher:

I'm not necessarily of the mindset that you have to give teachers presents, but I'm also not averse to ingratiating myself (and by extension my child) in their minds. Plus I enjoy making presents. Plus I adore his teacher this year. She's leaving to go to Harvard (on a full-freight scholarship) to pursue her PhD. If I had a million dollars, I'd make her stay at his school and move up each year to keep teaching him.

So anyway, because she is elegant and young and gorgeous I'm making it in black, not purple. And instead of those big old honking flowers, I'm making a bunch of smaller red roses (shown below pre-felted and felted) from Nikki Epstein's Knitted Flowers, comme ca:

I also got to make a trip to the bead store across the street from the store to pick out red sparkly beads, which I will sew into the middle of the roses. Not because I have to. Because I want to. Because she is worth it. Because she told me in a parent-teacher conference that she "can't get enough of Gus!"

Here's a stupid customer service story: I went to the bead store for a different project recently. All they sell is beads. So I pick up a tube of beads (one of the standard sizes of seed beads) and ask the girl behind the counter, "How many beads are in this tube?" She says, "I don't know." Okay, so maybe they don't get exactly the same amount of beads in each tube, and she's afraid I'm a lawyer and I'm going to sue her for fraud so I say, "Not exactly - just a ballpark figure." And she says, "I really don't know."

I look at her disbelievingly (because they must have hundreds of these exact same beads in the exact same size tubes and it seems like sort of an obvious question since bead patterns and knitting patterns give exact numbers of beads needed....) and she gestures across the store and says, "There's a string of the beads from one tube." And I say, "Well, I'm using them in a knitted shawl. The pattern calls for 600 beads." And she says, "Well, then two tubes should be enough."

WHAT??? How do you know two tubes are enough when you don't know how many beads are in a tube??? So I buy them and take them back across the street and dump the contents of one tube out and count the beads. There are approximately 420 beads in a tube. So she was right - but why in the world was she so stupidly cagey about it? And if they really don't know how many beads are in a tube (even approximately), why don't they take the 10 minutes it took me and count them? I can't believe I'm the first person who's wanted that information!!

What's that you say? I'm wasting a lot of valuable bandwidth ranting about the stupidest thing on earth? Oh okay, I'll stop and go lie down with a cold compress on my head....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I suppose it could just be a coincidence, but since I took the Phillies flag down (and they got a couple of losses out of their system), the Phillies have won 4 in a row. They turned a triple play, the bullpen hasn't blown a game, MM fave Pat Burrell is batting .340 - how cool is that? Could it all be due to my putting up my spring flag?! What other explanation could there be? I expect Jon Lieber to show up at my front door in his giganto monster truck at any moment to thank me.

The only fly in this glorious ointment [umm....ew] is the usually sterling Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas.

I don't know if he's getting bored or what, but he just hasn't been up to his usual standards lately. The Phillies used to have a broadcaster named Andy Musser, who was a good guy but not the greatest on-air presence. He habitually misjudged fly balls so that you heard this from him: "LONG DRIVE!!! Back back back - oh it's caught by the shortstop..." We used to mock him (gently) about this, but now Harry does it all the time. "LONG DRIVE!!! WATCH THAT BABY!!!! Oh it's caught."

During spring training, the Phillies played the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka was starting for the Sox. During the pre-game chitter-chat, Harry said, "And the Phillies face Dasukay Matsuzakwa...[we groan]... yes, Matsuzakwa...I guess that's how you say it."

No Harry, that's not how you say it. And it's not like this guy is some kid from Single-A that you've never heard of. The fee just to talk to him was FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS. Remember all that kerfluffle in the offseason with the Yankees and the Red Sox battling for the rights to sign this guy? For a veteran baseball announcer not to know how to pronounce his name was mind-boggling. Even Gus, who already has a Matsuzaka t-shirt, knew how to pronounce his name six months ago.

Then last night, we're watching the Phils play the Nationals, and Shane Victorino (the Flyin' Hawaiian) comes up to bat, and Harry says [and I am not paraphrasing. This is exactly what he said.]: "Shane may be from Hawaii, but he sure doesn't have LUAU FEET." Matthew and I exchange stunned glances... Then Harry says something about Hawaiians having big lumpy feet. WHA? What in the world are "luau feet"? I've never been to Hawaii, so if this is a common expression I've never heard of it. Has anyone out there encountered this before? Maybe if you eat a lot at a luau, you can't move fast because you're so full?*

Anyway, that was bizarre.

*I googled "luau feet". There's a Hawaiian song called "Luau Feet"
When I'm walking down the street
People look at my big feet
I don't let that bother me
I have luau feet

Well, now we know.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Opening Day!!

Some people have hinted that the Internet's Premier Source for Combined Knitting/Phillies Information was getting a little skimpy on baseball information. So in response I bring you:

Glenside Youth Athletic Club's Baseball Opening Day. They sponsor baseball teams for kids from 5-16 from tee-ball up to high school. This was the first year that Gus participated. Here he is:

(Please give me a moment to compose myself........)

Anyway, because we haven't participated before we had no idea what a big deal this is around here. There was an Opening Day Parade and they closed off the streets, had fire engines lead off and bring up the rear. There were bagpipers, there were Mummers, our most excellent State Representative Josh Shapiro led off the parade. And in between there were (it seemed) thousands and thousands of little boys and girls. They all proudly marched through town and then ended up at the baseball field where they had a hot dog and juice. It was mind-bogglingly wonderful and a true small-town experience that I didn't think existed anymore.

And the game? Well, they don't keep score in this league, but the coach told us that the kids know exactly what the score is. Gus went 3-for-3 with 2 runs batted in (including the game winner, though of course I wasn't keeping track of such things) and 2 runs scored. When the game was over, he came running over and said, "We beat the Yankees 6-3!!!"

Beating the Yankees, even in their innocent fun-loving 7-and-8-year old incarnation, made Gus's Red Sox-loving father happy. We went out for dinner to celebrate. (Because it was still warm out, I told Gus he could wear shorts, but he said he wanted to dress "fancy" because we were going out to celebrate.)

I have all kinds of issues with athletics and sports left over from my dorky youth, and I was nervous that Gus would get caught up in them. But this league and his wonderful coach and the nice parents and their good kids ensured that it was all good. Not to be too corny (but I will be anyway), but to see the pure joy on those kids' faces and how happy my kid was made this the best and happiest day I've had in eight long months.

Thank you, GYAC.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mia Cara Cugina!!

Today is my dear cousin Beth's birthday! She is the older sister I never had and always wanted. She is hilariously funny and warm and kind and smart and she was athletic (and thus the object of envy to my 8-year-0ld self) and she taught Gus to fish (and thus made his whole year and I still hear about it) and I would post a picture of us on vacation together in Florida when I was 11 and she was 14, but she might sue me because of our HI-lariously crazy 1970's outfits and don't get me started on mukluks and what you wear when it's FORTY degrees out and the time she came to visit me in Wheeling and we went to visit a golden temple of some sort in the boondocks of West Virginia and were both made uneasy by the many references to and images of the "Butter Thief" and how we were afraid we were going to be kidnapped into a cult and the time she caught a huge fish and I (in the same rowboat reading a book, for god's sakes) whined about how it was touching my foot and 20 years later when we were both in Philadelphia we took Italian lessons together for like 12 months from a lunatic Italian man named Luigi and all we remember is the words formaggio (cheese) and cartolina (postcard). And I also learned cugina (female cousin). And that was the most important one of all.

XXOOO, Bethy

Monday, April 16, 2007

What THE????? (Part 2) IS mid-April, is it not? I noticed that exactly one month ago, I had a similarly startled post to the ferocious non-springlike weather. The nor'-easter brought SNOW today. Snow. Okay, I admit that I'll be the first one to whine about it being too hot, but c'mon.

So, enough complaining about the weather, which is boring. I notice that my neighbors parked a different car in front of their house, but the Phillies were rained out so I don't know how that would have affected them.

What else is new? I made this the other day:

Yes, it is just a chocolate cake, but more importantly it is a chocolate cake (and icing!) made from scratch. I never did that before. On Sunday, Matthew expressed a desire for chocolate cake and asked when I was going to get in the car (remember, this was the day that it was raining and I never got out of my pajamas) to drive to the bakery and get a chocolate cake. I said that was never going to happen, but I thought I could make one. So I whipped out trusty Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" [THANK YOU, LISA] and by jove, he had a recipe and I had the ingredients, so between the two of us we managed to whip up a dandy cake.

Bittman always says things like [I'm paraphrasing], "Americans must be sadly alienated from their kitchens to think cake from a box mix is easier than a cake from scratch." Welllllll, honestly I think it's A LOT easier to make a cake from a box mix, but it really wasn't that hard to make one from scratch. Anyway, I adore Mark Bittman; he never lets me down.

I also worked on this - mighty Wing O' The Moth Shawl:

I have completed 9 out of 15 repeats of the Fir Cone pattern at the top of the shawl. Fir Cone is an old friend from the Shetland Shawl from "Wrap Style" that we did as a Knit-Along at the Tangled Web last year. It is soothing in the way the motifs line up on top of each other; it also keeps you from getting too off the track. And the Douceur et Soie is still a dream.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Are Mystical Forces At Work?*

My neighbors went away for the weekend and so moved their blue car:

(see comments for yesterday)
Phillies 8, Astros 5

Meanwhile, a nor'easter [oooh - I felt like a Marblehead fisherman for a second!!] has moved in, and rain's coming down in buckets, and Gus and I are watching "Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends" (the funniest cartoon since SpongeBob), and I'm still in my pajamas, and I don't have to work, and I have nothing to do but loll around and knit. Yeah, baby!

*Or could it be the bullpen finally didn't blow the game?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Oops! No It Didn't!

Mets 5, Phillies 3

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It worked!

Phillies 5, Mets 2 !!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I was casually reading my post from yesterday and suddenly thought OH MY GOD it's tomorrow already!! What's with this time-rushing-up-on-me thing?

Okay, in case anyone is still interested, here is my new OBSESSION:

Woooo hoooooo! Jigsaw puzzles!!! While cleaning up the dining room (a/k/a The Tiny Cluttered Storage Room of Terror), I came across the jigsaw puzzle above that I must have bought after the last family vacation in the Poconos a couple of years ago. My mom loved to do jigsaw puzzles, and on that vacation, Mom and I raced to get up the earliest so we could station ourselves in front of whatever puzzle we were working on. I think we finished 3 or 4 that week. It was so fun I think I bought this when I got back and then it got buried in the Dining Room of Horror. This first one I finished in two days. So then I had to rush to Target and buy another one:

This one I've had more trouble with. I finished most of it, but am stymied by the red trees scattered all over. Look at the million completely identical red pieces left. Boo hoo!!!

I was going to bail on it, but Gus told me, solemnly, that I should never give up. I'll give it the old college try for a couple more days and then start in on this appropriately knitting-themed one:

Okay, so that's my new obsession. Here is my other one:

This is the "Wing o' the Moth Shawl" from here. I am using Douceur et Soie yarn in a pale shade of buttery goodness that makes me swoon. I'll tell you what else makes me swoon - this DING-DANG YARN!!! Douceur means "gentleness" in French and soie means "silk". Oh yeah..........this yarn is the epitome of gentleness and silk. If any fabric actually felt like the Wing of a Moth, it would be this. I pick up my knitting, and it gently flutters in the breeze. Okay, so I could go on and on, but I won't. Suffice it to say, if you ever get a chance to knit with this stuff, DO SO.

Phillies Note: In order to change the Phillies mojo, I took the Phillies flag down and put up a spring-themed flag. I feel that this should do the trick. I'm just sorry I let them lose 7 games before it occurred to me that I needed to act.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Oops - time seems to be getting away from me. I'll try to be more assiduous with posting, though that might mean a LOT of kooky ephemera comin' at ya.

First of all, some Mighty Momogus Movie Reviews:

"Cars" - so boring that Gus and I (who will both sit glaze-eyed in front of the television for almost any goofy movie) left the room and did other stuff. I feel that cars do not make for compelling characters.

"Bride and Prejudice" - frothy fun from the director of "Bend It Like Beckham". The Jane Austen novel set in modern-day India. Great idea, and I love anything to do with India. My only qualm was that the Elizabeth Bennett character and the Mr. Bingley character, who were the more unaffected, less physically attractive characters in the novel were played in this movie by possibly the two most beautiful people on earth. These two:

As the Mr. Darcy character was some generically handsome boring American guy, I was very distracted by my fierce desire to have Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth Bennett end up together. It was fun anyway.

"Best of Primetime Glick" - I don't know how long Jiminy Glick was on tv, but this show is so bizarre that it is much-loved around here. When Martin Short as Jiminy Glick tries to scooch his feet under him while interviewing a guest and then falls off the chair, it makes me cry. Also when his guests say snide things to him and he says "Aren't you kind!!!" Also, Michael McKean as jazz-harp-playing sidekick Adrien Von Voorhees makes me so giddy with happiness whenever he appears that I can't stand it. Go Netflix it.

Additional Cultural Note: Gus and I have been listening to "Pippi Longstocking" on books-on-tape in the car. Let me just say that I sorely misjudged Pippi. I thought she was a horrifyingly scary Swedish chick in spooky braids. Turns out "Pippi Longstocking" is a hoot! There have been times that I've almost had to pull over because I was laughing so hard. Who knew?

What's up with the Phillies, by the way? They're 1-and-6. OOF. The bullpen gave up 8 runs today. I can't even write anymore about them, I'm so sad. Hey, they'll turn it around, I'm sure. Right? Right????

Tomorrow (and I promise it will be tomorrow): My latest obsession and also my new dreamy knitting project.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Today's subject is Easter. Specifically, Easter eggs. Specifically, dyeing Easter eggs. Specifically, what happens when knitters dye Easter eggs.

Take some beautiful glasses of Easter egg dye:

(Please note, in my defense, that I only lined them up in rainbow order for this picture. I'm not THAT crazy!!)

Add one enthusiastic 7-year-old:

And of course, you get this sort of thing:

But then, after all the eggs were dyed I was getting ready to clean up. I stared at all those glasses of dye and thought, Heyyyy........what if???????

Yes, I unearthed some Knitpicks laceweight dye-it-yourself yarn and this happened:

And this:

(I added some Kool-Aid because the Easter egg dye was a little anemic. That was when I was in full-on crazy mad scientist mode. That was also when Matthew came home, walked toward the kitchen, saw what was going on and turned around and went the other way.)

That resulted in these:

The green yarn may possibly be the ugliest yarn ever made in the history of fiber and will probably get pitched as soon as it dries, but the pink-y yarn is actually quite pretty. It has some weird depth to the color that's pleasing. Gus had mixed a lot of the dyes together to make brown. This I threw on the yarn first, and then put the red on and then Cherry Kool-Aid.

The End.

Tomorrow - stayed tuned for my NEW obsession!!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Opening Day!!

Okay, so the Phillies lost to the stinkin' Braves, but the Dark Time is OVER! And the Phillies can still go 161-1!!!!

[Gus had spring break last week, so I was too busy sleeping late and not making sandwiches to post, but I will make up for that shortly.]