Monday, March 26, 2007

On Being in A Loop

Today's blog entry is provided by the ever-generous Lisa Louie, out there in Paradise, otherwise known as Maui, where I would really, really like to be starring in a Corona beer ad right about now. You know the ones, where all you see is somebody's arm hanging out of a hammock slung beneath a palm tree, and nothing else but surf noises and beer?

Like that.

Update on clinic: The Board of Veterinary Medicine has accepted my proposal for consideration. This does not mean I have approval yet. What it does mean is that they did not fall on the floor in helpless laughter and fling it back in my face. Which means that they will have lots of questions that I will have to answer with a modicum of intelligence and clinical terminology and Dilbert words. I do expect to have some sort of feedback on my proposal by the end of the week.
Until I can get a grip and write something about knitting, here is a cat picture (a cat on a sweater, double points) and a guest blog from Lisa.
Say, "Thank you, Lisa."
Lisa writes:

Our fearless leader, the Yarn Harlot herself has reported substantial computer problems in a recent entry. This, is apparently, a new skein, if you will, in the recent sweater of computer difficulties. I empathize. Even worse, I can completely relate.

I myself have a brand new computer as of a few months ago. This would be cause for great joy had the previous computer gone toes up on me, not once, but twice prior to this purchase. Both times, apparently viable components have ceased functioning earlier than expected for no obvious reason. In other words, the sucker broke twice just because it could.

Both times it “ate” most of my documents and my entire schedule and address book. I was left scrambling to try and recreate all that information. Before you ask, yes I had backed up the documentation. Due to electronic evil beings, all files were corrupted due to some sort of glitch in the programs and my backups couldn’t be saved either. Needless to say, I used copious amounts of language Grandma Gremel would NOT have approved of.

The pc fiasco came after several weeks of trying to install a single, functioning wireless router that actually cooperated with our then-internet source. The only good thing I can say about calling an 1 800 customer service number that connects you to somewhere you can’t find on a map, is that none of the people they have answering the phones really and truly understand enough English to make sense of some of the things that are said to them when my husband gets truly unhappy with their company’s performance.

Just before the PC was diagnosed as terminal, the electronic menehunes were playing with other items in my life. Among other failures, the digital readout on my car’s dashboard quit reading out and went totally blank. At first I thought it was some kind of a weird eye test: can you read your numbers? But no, the sucker malfunctioned.

I won’t bore you with the recital of cell phone miseries. Those were next. I’m sure you can write your own book on that story. Suffice it to say, we’re counting down until the phone contract expires and we can get a new contract with a new carrier, and a new free phone.

In addition, the stereo and CD player completely freak out every time we turn them off. The stereo flips in and out of tuning, fades in and out and the CD player stops, restarts and stops again after only a few seconds. Either it has developed a severe case of attention deficit disorder, combined with a loss of short term memory, or it too has succumbed to the curse of things with wires.

Next, my laptop kept locking up for no apparent reason. My husband told me it was “in a loop.” That’s when this all finally made sense. Or at least as much sense as it can make. In a LOOP. What do we do with our lives? We put yarn in loops and create something wonderful. Ah ha. Our nature, our essence, our karma, our life force, whatever name it is within us, has caused us to dedicate our existence and seek joy and fulfillment by putting yarn into loops using two needles. This force within us is intuitive and so ingrained and such a part of our basic nature that other items in our lives respond to it also. It takes complicated and unsuspecting gizmos like laptops, PCs, routers, cell phones, stereos and turns their internal structures into loops, causing them to malfunction, break down, lock up and generally drive us crazy.

It makes me feel better to know I’m not alone. The Yarn Harlot herself is apparently also a victim of this looping problem, being an extremely dedicated yarn looper herself. On the other hand, my husband rarely has problems with electronics and is perplexed by my on-going issues. His lack of problems is explainable because, with the exception of an occasional garden hose, he rarely puts anything in a loop.

While I know there is no scientific rationale or data to prove my theory, it makes as much sense as any of the competent, logical, rational explanations any of the people trying to solve my electronics issues have come up with.
“Beats the *&^%$# out of me” was the best they had to offer.

Now I’m going to go sit in the living room and attempt to loop more yarn around needles. I’m backing up this piece, emailing it to Dez, and I’m touching nothing else electronic between here and there.


Wish me luck. If you are reading this, I was successful in this endea…………………

--Lisa Louie, Maui

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Few.
The Proud.
The Readers.

I want to thank all of you nice, wonderful and exceedingly patient knitters for your patience these past few weeks while my poor blog lay neglected and forlorn. I simply haven't had the creative energy to blog.

Not only did I have to move my office all of a sudden in February, but couple of deadlines have caught up with me. One is a grant proposal for a low-cost spay-neuter clinic, and one is a proposal to put before the Board of Veterinary Medicine for the operating plan for the aformentioned clinic.

The BVM proposal is due tomorrow.

Morning.

Early.

But it's not like I'm nervous or anything. That slight quaking you detect in the text here?

The text is supposed to look out of focus and squiggly.

New typeface. It's called, "Trepidation Italic." Like it?

It's not from nerves or insomnia or mainlining Maui coffee (thanks again, Lisa).

Honest.

Really.

Okay, okay ... my Mom didn't believe me either.

The truth?

I am as nervous as a cat in a roomful of two-year-olds.

Here is my whole labor of love, on paper, about to be picked to shreds.

Ulp.

I hope to be back to knitting content by the weekend ... unless you really want to know how many different types of suture we plan to buy and what the instrument sterilization procedure will be.

Best,

--Mambocat

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"P"

Since I probably will lack photos for at least another day or two, I present you with the letter "P."

Diann has tagged me in an ongoing game of Alphabet Blog-Tag.

The game goes like this: somebody tags you and gives you a letter of the alphabet.

Now you're It.

You list ten things you like that start with that letter.

When people respond to your post, you randomly assign a letter to them, and, if they have a blog, then they list ten things. And so on.

Diann gave me "P."

Pets, of course, is a little too obvious for me. That's what I live and breathe and it's also my job. I could stay with Pets, and come up with Paws, Purring, Puppies, Palominos, Pythons, Ponies, Pugs, Persians, Parrots, Pyrenees, Pharoah Hounds, Pomeranians, etc. and tons and tons of other living things I dearly love that start with "P," without ever leaving one topic or even getting into veterinary terminology or non-companion animals like Pumas and Pangoliins.

So I'll venture outside the realm of things a reader might immediately suspect about me, which means I will also leave out things like Purling (which I do love), and Peace Fleece, and Prism yarn, and Koigu KPPPM, which technically does not start with a P but contains a lot of them.


The Letter P:


Pastures. Preferably dotted with sheep.

Pink; not the color but
:
a.) Floyd
b.) Flamingos
c.) Panther
d.) all of the above.

Poe, Edgar Allen.

Pisceans (it is amazing how many Pisceans are in my life -- including my husband and mother. Also lots of Capricorns in my close circle, too).

Porches. Big honking old-fashioned front porches, not open decks baking in the summer sun, and not those nondescript little modern concrete ground-level landings which don't hold much more than a mailbox and a potted plant. I like deep, shady porches with steps, and a good solid railing, and a ceiling fan, and a screen door, and porch furniture, and a swing, and maybe even a hammock. The kind of front porch where you can sit and drink coffee and read the newspaper on a rainy Sunday morning in your pajamas without the neighbors pointing fingers at you and snickering.


Professor Longhair (how can you be from New Orleans and not love Professor Longhair?)

Portland, Oregon, where I would dearly love to live one day, which is full of ...

Pine trees and...

Precipitation. Okay, I'm a freak. I love rain and snow and most other things that come out of the sky in reasonable quantities, unless it is precipitation in some extreme form, or a tornado, or an object being hurled at me by a hurricane. I am a high-energy, high-anxiety horse, and few things besides knitting soothe me they way rain does. Rain on a tin roof ... damn, if I had a continuous loop tape of that, I probably would not need sleep aids. Not just rain-sounds like on those little noise machines that make surf sounds and waterfall noises. Rain on a tin roof, specifically.


Pekoe. Love me some strong, black tea.

Hopefully, I will have photos tomorrow.

--Mambocat

Sunday, March 11, 2007

OTN and OCD

So. I am sitting here contemplating knitting a pair of cotton pants, trying to calculate the gauge I need, the effect of gravity on cotton that I need to account for, the effect of humidity on cotton that I also need to account for, the eccentric orbit of Pluto (as well as its new non-planetary status), the migratory patterns of purple martins, the inexplicable and profound disagreement between the scale at the YMCA and the scale at our house, global warming, and other factors that might come into play regarding the fit, drape and potential attractiveness of said pants when they are actually applied to my personage.

Yup. I am knitting a pair of pants. Cotton pants.

I can't be the only knitter out there to fall off the deep end of knitterly OCD contemplation and consider what it might be like to replace nearly every item in my wardrobe, with things I have knitted myself.

What might it be like to actually have this pursuit of nearly complete wardrobe self-sufficiency as a sort of side-mission in my life?

Okay, the Levis and Hawaiian shirts stay, as well as the T-shirts and Haynes undies and the cotton turtlenecks for under-sweater wear in winter. And the medical scrubs I need for work. But most everything else?

I am reminded of an old '70s BBC sitcom ... the name escapes me ... it involved a young couple working on "self-sufficiency." In a town, somewhere in England. In various episodes they grew a garden, canned vegetables, wove clothing ... all with hilariously disastrous results. Does anyone remember it? I am utterly drawing a blank, and I admit a bit of shame here, because I am a hopeless BBC junkie. I should recall the name of this show. After all, I can quote many Monty Python episodes verbatim.

Regardless, I like to think what it would be like to slowly replace most of my wardrobe with things I have made myself. Specifically knitted things. I don't enjoy sewing very much, unless it's something quite plain and flat, like curtains. I'll leave the mastery of seamtressing to LornaJay.

I've been thinking about this self-sufficiency thing a fair bit lately and I've considered that, although in real life I work for government and non-profit animal welfare agencies and as a result do not earn the sort of income that affords me a whole lot of power and influence in the world ... I do have a set of skills that would make me a highly valuable commodity in a post-apocalyptic situation. Of course, I hope this never happens. Just sayin.'

But have you other knitters ever sat down and considered the skills you could use if, for some horrid reason, this whole techno-bubble that we all inhabit came crashing down around our ears one day?

Have you ever made a list of what low-tech skills you could offer for trade in desperate times?

I actually made an inventory of mine the other day, and was actually quite surprised at the extent of the list.



  • I can raise and care properly for a wide variety of animals, both for domestic companions, transportation and farm use. In my post-apocalyptic world we'd have lots of milk and eggs and cheese and wool.
  • I can grow a garden. It is not my favorite pasttime, because the beastly summer and billions of bugs and weeds are major components of gardening where we live, but I can do it. If you could do a garden with only the spring-planting and fall-harvesting parts, and none of the de-weeding and de-bugging in July, I would even enjoy it.
  • I have only sheared one sheep, but I have the general idea, and could get better at it with practice.
  • I can wash, process and card a fleece.
  • I can dye wool.
  • I can spin wool/alpaca etc. into yarn, both on a drop spindle and on a wheel. I am considerably more adept at spinning wool and other animal fibers than I am at spinning cotton.
  • I can knit any kind of garment. Know a chilly octopus? I can help.
  • I can weave presentably, if not with great skill. That could improve.
  • I can fish quite well.
  • I can cook, I know how to can vegetables, and I know how to salt and pickle things.
  • I know how to find edible mushrooms and other wild food. Not that there would be much of that in a post-apocalyptic urban world, but perhaps if we had to hide in the woods...
  • I can train dogs and horses.
  • I know a fair bit about healing herbs and home remedies.

So I think if things ever got desperate, I'd be in high demand.

I would hope.

Anybody else ever go off on knitterly wanderings like this?

I've also, when stuck in slow traffic and unable to knit, created a Sci-Fi world in which I am at the helm of a starship full of artisans engaged in the interplanetary trade of handmade goods.

In my future-world, Earth has gone off the deep end into a babbling techno-hell, as if Tokyo and Times Square had conspired to do a complete Techno-Terraforming, so the entire planet is covered in huge glass buildings bristling with squawking plasma TVs and hideous traffic, like that in which I am stuck while I imagine all this.

So the only way for us artisans to survive and preserve our skills (as well as our fleece-bearing animals and companion animals) was to load a bunch of us up onto: Art-Ark.

For example, amongst our many trade adventures, we buy rare fleeces from the mountain goats of the Klingon homeworld, and we knit and weave them into magnificent things that we sell to the Vulcans for fair prices and for which we totally skin the Ferengi. We have also created a major upheaval in Ferengi culture, having convinced them that keeping their females unclothed does little to show off their vast wealth. The Ferengi females have taken to this notion quite well, so we have lots of gold-pressed latinum on Art-Ark with which we can purchase plasma cores and other things we need to get along out in space.

We also have the occasional battle in which we soundly tromp the Borg, who, in addition to being evil, also have no appreciation for Art in any form.


Generally I have a mental Borg-tromping battle when some jerk in a Hummer cuts off my little Golf.

Black Hummers are always driven by the Borg.


An essential perk to being the Captain of Art-Ark is that there is an awful lot of knitting time sitting there at the helm, in between planets and battles.

I could go on, but I promised to answer a few questions from previous posts. I'm usually spotty at best about answering questions, so I'll tackle a whole bunch at once by way of repentance.

Criquette .... thanks for the thoughtful burning of king cake scented gris gris candles. I need all the luck I can get with this clinic endeavor.

Joan, I'd be delighted to take a bit of your nasty winter weather off your hands. We don't have snow plows or salt machines, so that would mean I could have all kinds of excuses to sit home and knit.

And Gae, our Tessie sends warm, purry greetings to your Vegemite (I've always wondered what it tastes like -- the spread, not your cat -- as anything yeasty gets my interest in a hurry). You are so fortunate to have your dear old gal for so long. I wish her several more happy, healthy (if a bit creaky) years. Tessie wants Vegemite to know that she is eighteen and mightily annoyed that she cannot vote simply because she is a cat, as she is certainly much smarter than most of the peeps out there.

Barbara Kay, the clinic will be somewhere in the Baton Rouge area. I need volunteers for everything from fund-raising, to actual daily help in the clinic, to hooking me up with people with fat checkbooks.

Jo, we are eagerly awaiting your official state visit as Ambassador of West Cork and do I have an itinerary planned for you! Don't be surprised if you have an entourage of your local fans besides myself, either.

Southern Gal, I will mail you some details of the clinic quite soon -- and thanks ever so much for your kind offer.

Carol: Dave rates socks because somebody has to wear them, eh? And is was his birthday, after all.

And Diann, thanks for your offer to help with clinic funding ideas. Every idea helps. I'll contact you soon. I also can't wait to read more on your blog about Stitches!

I hope all this reading material makes up a bit for the lack of photos, until The Mighty Jake is done with my regular computer.

Jake, of course, is the Computer Officer on Art-Ark and gets to wear lots of handknit sweaters on the show.

--Mambocat

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