Tuesday, November 29, 2005

papa, can you hear me?

When I was a little girl, I thought my dad was the greatest guy in the whole world. I still do. For the longest time, I was convinced that I would marry him one day. (Clearly, I had some Electra issues, but that's beside the point.) I was daddy's little girl and in my book, he could do no wrong.

He did, however, have questionable taste.

And I mean that literally. The son of immigrants, my dad grew up on a farm in a plantation village in Waipahu. With 8 brothers and sisters, money and food were pretty scarce, so he got used to catching and eating all kinds of unusual "prey" for meals. I won't gross you out with all the details. Suffice it to say that the list included some furry four footed friends, a couple of insects and various kinds of fowl (that's if you consider mountain pigeons, "fowl.") I guess the vestiges of his youth have always remained with him, because till this day, he will go the extra gastronomic mile when it comes to Extreme Eating. I swear it's a sport for him. The nastier and raw-er, the better. Then again, you're talking to a lightweight who won't touch sushi or sashimi unless it's California roll or fish of the baked fillet with tartar sauce variety. I know, being supposedly 100% Japanese, I'm a total disgrace- my dad is certain that my mom must've jumped the fence.

Whenever we eat dim sum at Chinese restaurants, the first thing he orders is a basket of chicken feet. Not potstickers, not shrimp shumai, no, chicken feet. I will admit that the black bean sauce on the "feet" (seriously, aren't "claws" or "talons" more appropriate here?) is quite tasty, but I can never get past looking at those webbed toes. I'm sure if they created a "Beaks in Black Bean Sauce" dish, he'd be all over it. True to his motto, everything is better with black bean sauce.

Whenever we go to Filipinio restaurants, he orders Pig's Feet Soup. I really don't know what the deal is with his animal appendage obsession, but it's a very real phenomenon. Once, he went diving and came home with a large octopus. Which I know sounds very gross (and it is), but I gave him some leeway as it's a cultural delicacy. I intellectually understood that he would eventually eat it, but he upped the ante when he chopped off a tentacle from the still-moving octopus and popped it in his mouth. The sight of the suction cups stuck to his cheek while he happily chewed away will traumatize me for life.

So now, on to the meat and potatoes (or chicken feet and tentacles) of this post: the knitting. Today is Holiday Countdown KAL day, and here are the completed Creme de la Femme cabled socks for dear ol' dad. Image hosted by Photobucket.comI'm not sure why that right toe near the middle cable looks puckered in the picture; thankfully, it doesn't look like that in real life. These were made out of Wool-Ease on size 5 needles. My dad's a no-nonsense, tentacle-eating kinda guy, (but don't forget the Bath & Body Works lavender lotion! The duplicity is his saving grace) so I know he'll appreciate the machine wash and dry acrylic factor.

Finally, yesterday was my dad's 59th birthday, and even though I'm pretty sure he doesn't read this blog, I just want to wish him a very Happy Birthday one more time. Love you, Dad! On a related note, I was thinking about what Lolly said about the abundance of November babies and how it's because November falls 9 months after Valentine's Day. I had a really good laugh about that one, till I thought about how my birthday falls on September 15th. . . 9 months after Christmas!! Oh, the spleen damage!!

P.S.: I really should have wrote this first, but thanks so much for all of your encouraging comments and emails this past week. You guys are so sweet and supportive....knit blog pals are the best!! Your encouragement has really given me the gumption I need to see this semester through. One more week, and we'll regain some normalcy around here. Well, holiday-normalcy, at least!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

no funny business here

Yes, I am still alive....

But I am drowning! (Breathe, Laura, breathe! No locked cars involved here!)..in a sea of school work, that is.

Three projects down, four more to go. Two more weeks. I can think of a lot of choice adjectives to describe these next two weeks, but in sticking with the "G" rating, I will defer. No blogging. No knitting. Pure insanity! Even Bossy and Stinky have been relegated to backburner status. In desperation, I've taken to serving them a whole repertoire of canned barely-food items, trying to pass them off as meals while I work on assignments. Poor deprived kids are so used to their no additive/no preservative/no fun diet that they're actually relishing this nasty, canned crap. As Bossy tanked baked beans last night, he proclaimed it the best meal I'd ever cooked and kept thanking me profusely for such a wonderful dinner. Ah, compliments to the chef, Mr. Van Camp!

Tomorrow is Holiday Countdown KAL day, and woefully, I have nothing to share. I started this Knitlist Cable Sock pattern in Wool Ease for my dad over one week ago and haven't been able to work on it since. What should have been a 2-3 night knit will probably get dragged out another 2 weeks until the semester is over. I'm so sorry to be such a dead-knit, Jennifer! I'll be a better KALer soon, I promise! I was thinking that the sock looked decently masculine, but Hairy Legs has since suggested that perhaps the pattern might be a tad "fem," to use his terminology. Now I'm pretty certain that my dad is quite secure in his masculinity and virility, having produced four healthy offspring and being the big strapping guy that he is. Nonetheless, the big guy lavishes himself with Bath and Body Works lavender lotion daily, so I'm thinking a tad fem is okay. What do you think? Creme de la Femme?

And look what arrived 3 days ago from Knit Picks- Yes, that's right, three days ago and it is still in the package!! Along with Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. Sheer travesty, I tell you! There'd better be A+'s to justify this cruel and unusual punishment. All but two of those skeins are destined to become Christmas gifts. I've been so inspired by all the great stuff you've been making that I ordered some of the same yarn. Notice the Geranium, Cranberry and Storm? My hands are itching to knit. Well, with the recent eczema, they're just plain itching, period.

And in spite of all the current madness, I'm looking forward to hosting Thanksgiving lunch for my family. Being highly foodphilic, what could be better than a Thanksgiving spread? There'll be 8 of us, and yes, it'll be hectic and crazy getting all the cooking done (can you say 19 pound turkey and gravy, cornbread and sausage stuffing, pumpkin pudding pie, smashed parmesan sour cream potatoes, cranberry conserve, streusel-topped sweet potatoes, corn on the cob and Beaujolais? BTW, I'm always entertaining new recipe ideas, so any suggestions are definitely welcome, especially if they involve whole sticks of butter!) but I'm so excited to be able to spend the holiday with everyone. Being able to celebrate, laugh and connect with the people who mean the most to me makes it more than worthwhile. Truly, I have so much to be thankful for. What I may lack in material bounty, I have been blessed with in riches and happiness above and beyond what I could have ever hoped for. A wonderful and supportive husband, healthy, beautiful children, family and friends near and dear to my heart...these are priceless gifts, and I am so grateful. And especially to all of you- all the wonderful friends I have made through blogging- you guys are the best!! For all that you do to move and inspire me everyday- be it a kind word, a funny joke or a beautiful FO- thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!

Monday, November 14, 2005

by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin

Thanks to Laura's suggestion, I joined Jennifer's Holiday Countdown Knitalong in the hopes of having the communal group pressure, uhmm, I mean, KAL camaraderie, freak me out sufficiently to get my butt into gear and my holiday knitting done on time. My plan must be working because 1) I am pretty freaked out and 2) I've actually gotten some holiday knitting crossed off the list. First up, crunchy Ali's Om Yoga Mat Bag from SnB Nation, in Bernat Traffic Cone Orange 100% Cotton. This is me striking my best Ralph Macchio Karate Kid Pose. And yes, I'm showing my age again, both by the '80's movie reference and by how I'm about to topple over striking my best yoga-ish pose. As much as it intellectually and spiritually appeals to me, I'm pretty inept when it comes to yoga. And I'm not even talking about the asanas. At my first (and only) yoga class, I couldn't even get the darned breathing right! It's pretty defeating when you're told that you suck at breathing. Granted, it's a special kind of ujjayi breathing (or so I convinced myself in an effort to reinflate the squashed ego), but just breathing, nonetheless. I kind of thought it was a necessary life function, but apparently, I'm out of the loop on that one. My Darth Vader ujjayi attempts were not met with much amusement by the teacher. The strap is a little long for me so I had to finagle it in the front, hence the odd twisting and curling action. This is actually a good thing (read: design element) as I'm about as tall as a gnome and crunchy Ali is Amazonian at 5'10". So the strap should fit her just fine. Also, being the resourceful ghetto gnome that I am, I used a rolled up hooded baby towel in place of a yoga mat. I'm hoping that the weight and girth of an actual yoga mat will give the bag a more sophisticated contour. I also hoped for the same thing at puberty with the onset of boobs, but that never occurred, either. This was a super fast knit, and the seaming wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated. I just need to find a drawstring cord to weave into the top of the bag and it's as good as done.

I also spent some time with two little piggies this weekend. No, not Bossy and Stinky, although they were around eating us out of house and home quite a bit, too. I mean these two little piggies. Cell phone cozies from SnB Nation, designed by Honolulu SnB's very talented MK Carroll. These are destined to be stocking stuffers for the family. So fast and so fun, they're perfect for completing in an evening. And for quelling the freak-out factor when you suddenly realize that there's less than 40 days till Christmas and you've still got 10 more gifts to knit. I guess they don't really count since they're only stocking stuffers, but let me revel in the placebo effect a while longer, please.

Still on the holiday queue are 3 pairs of socks for dad, BIL and brother, something for my sis, The Mercenary (which I can't reveal because she reads the blog and I'd have to kill her after that), a tote bag for my other sis, Fredo and a bolero for my mom. Add to that one turkey with all the trimmings for a party of 10, Bossy's fourth birthday, school projects from hell, a Stinky practicing to be 2 years old (which, trust me, she does NOT need more practice in!) and a partridge in a pear tree and you've got the makings for a serious hydrocortisone prescription for flaring eczema.

I don't know how all you other talented ladies handle the pressure with such grace! Me, I'm left with my irritable bowel and bad skin. (Don't you feel so close to me now?) Aside from the eczema, I have a lovely, large bullseye target red zit right between my eyes. Ohhh yeah. The kind where you know it's beyond rude to stare but you feel sickly compelled to keep looking at the monstrosity staring back at you. Oh well, I might have sucked at the ujjayi breathing, but hey, at least I've got a third eye!!!

Edited to add: Look what just arrived in the mail from my sweet blog pal, Allison, over at Perknitious!! Allison held a Blogiversary contest a couple of weeks ago and I was lucky enough to win! Thank you sooo much, Allison!! I love this Knit Picks Gossamer in the Caribbean colorway! I've been eyeing it for a while, and I can't wait to knit it up. She also sent some yummy Reese's because I mentioned that it was my favorite Halloween candy. How sweet and thoughtful is this woman? Your package made my day, Allison! Thank you so, so much!! Now go hop on over and check out her great blog!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

it's the little things

Sorry, Texas gals, but I think smaller is better.

For starters, my hands are small. My handwriting is small. My eyes are small. (I'm Asian. There were no expectations otherwise.) Bossy and Stinky are pretty small. And they're mostly okay. (Tongue-in-cheek, people. No Joan Crawford here.) And I got my second bachelors in, you guessed it, microbiology. While other micro majors got jobs working with large domesticated animals, I got a job working with the teeniest, tiniest of creatures in Entomology. Even within Bug Purgatory itself, I opted to work with the smallest of insects. While the other doctor-wanna-be's down the hall dissected large Madagascan Cockroaches, I stayed in my little nook, playing with termites. I have to admit, though, that it was mostly because those roaches were froggin' GROSS. I'm telling you, these roaches were Chernobyl huge. And they hissed. LOUDLY. And flew. They gave me the willies. But I digress.

Even within my tiny nook, I didn't study the termites themselves. Oh no, I investigated the microscopic bacteria that grew inside their miniscule tummies. How do you study that, you might ask? Well, basically, you grab a termite with what amounts to an eyebrow tweezer, dip it in ethyl alcohol to sterilize it (or murder it, if you want to be technical), pass it through a lava-hot flame to ensure that it's "clean" (and dead, apparently) and, just to make sure it's really FUBAR, you grab its anus and puuuuulllll the alimentary tract out in one fell swoop. You take the disemboweled viscera and place it in a little tube with minute volumes of various chemicals and spin the crap out of it (figuratively and literally) at rates that make the Indy 500 look like a ferris wheel ride. You don't even want to know how many extended termite families I murdered in the name of science. You don't have to be a Jain to be horrified. But the most horrifying part was that I was uncannily good at it. The small tweezers, small termites and small intestines suited me well.

So where is this all going? Well, as I said, smaller is better, at least in my book. Smaller needles, that is. Anything over size 5's and I feel like a fish out of water. I moan and groan about the toothpick size 1's in the sock knitting, but truth be told, I get off on those little needles. Maybe it's because I have small hands, I don't know. (Can anyone tell me what small hands mean in a female?) As things stand now though, I have a load of things that need to get knitted for Christmas that don't necessarily involve small needles. Case in point: the Om Yoga Mat Bag, which I'm working on for my very pregnant, very crunchy friend, Ali, whose favorite color, unfortunately for me, happens to be traffic-cone orange. This offensive traffic-cone shade is exacerbated by the 100% cotton Bernat yarn, which has about as much give as hard, stale spaghetti. The sole redeeming factor in this knit is being able to use the single pair of Addi Turbos I own in size 7. Even the Addi's, though, can't detract from how big and awkward the size 7's feel in my hands. This lace pattern knit up super quickly and was simple to memorize. That said, however, I'd highly advise against knitting lace while reading the subtitles in a Japanese historical drama and simultaneously ogling the incredibly magnetic and unbelievably handsome main character. I assure you this will result in multiple FUBAR rows. Just in case, you know, you ever happen to be in that situation. Here's a shot to help visualize what the bag will look like. It's about 24" long and 13" in circumference. I'm hoping it'll look more impressive with the mat actually in it. I casted-on Monday night and aside from the one inch of pattern repeat I have left, the knitting is basically done. I just need to seam it up and thread the drawstring through. Yeah, who am I kidding, just seam it up? I have yet to discover the joy in seaming. Kitchener, yes. Seaming, no thanks. Still, I'm hopeful that I can get this done by this weekend. Don't anybody call me out on that one. ;-)

Honestly, the whole Termite Eraser thing still disturbs me. I've taken a lot of showers to purge myself of the stench of death, so it's been cathartic to recount my darker days. I don't want to end this post with Sweeney-Todd overtones, though, so on a lighter note, I'll be tackling my Crazy Christmas Knit-List in the coming weeks. Bags, phone cozies and socks, oh my! It's always a Three Ring Circus of sorts around here...Or, in my small world, a Three Ring Flea Circus, at least!

Postscript: As much as I LOVE blog reading and blogging, my online appearances may become sporadic at best as the end of the semester crunches down on me. I have 5 major papers and 2 presentations worth 80% of my grade due in the next 4 weeks, and being the procrastinator that I am, I have a LOT of work to do. (C'mon, it's not like they give us a syllabus that explicity outlines assignments and due dates at the beginning of the semester or anything crazy like that!) That said, I truly appreciate all the time you spend reading my drivel and I love getting to know you through your comments and blogs. I'll try my best to post and comment when I can, and I'm promising myself lots of yarn as incentive to stay on track. :-)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

a whole new world

Momma did it a while back, so I decided to do it, too. I've been hiding out from my blog.

There are only so many WIP sock pics you can post before someone's going to call you out on them. You know it's all downhill when it's you who calls your own bluff. And since being called out by oneself is neither fun nor sane (think DSM IV), I did what any self-respecting, definitely neurotic and possibly psychotic knitter would do. I hid.

And I knit furiously.

And in my haste, sock #2 almost wound up FUBAR ("frogged up" beyond all recognition, for all you non-Tango and Cash fans). Dropped stitches, forgotten yarn-overs- I frogged so many times, I began to think I was over. All the old adages came to mind. Haste makes waste. Slow and steady wins the race. You'd think I'd know this by now. Especially after Linguistics 410, Phonetic Transcription.

It was finals week, my junior year in college, and in spite of all my best intentions, I wound up pulling an almost-all-nighter studying for my Linguistics exam. Thinking an hour of rest would be better than nothing, I set my alarm for 7 in order to make my 7:30 am final. Dr. Condax had been exceedingly clear that no exceptions would be made for those who accidentally overslept the 7:30 am final. Oh, I set my alarm for 7:00, alright. 7 PM, not 7 AM. By the grace of the linguistics gods, I somehow woke up at 7:40 am, absolutely panic-stricken. There was no time for creature comforts. No toothbrushing, no deodorant, no breakfast. Fueled by pure adrenaline, I flew around my room, flying my jeans on while simultaneously pulling my hair into a ponytail and grabbing my #2 pencil. I grabbed my keys and hauled butt to the Linguistics Department.

The test had already begun, but Dr. Condax graciously allowed me to take the final. She gave me a very funny once-over and slowly handed me my blue ledger book. With all my commotion, the whole class stopped to look at me. Was it my imagination or were they all staring at me funny? Since I hadn't brushed my teeth, I just gave everyone a curt and apologetic nod and took my seat, my mind racing. Could my breath have been that bad? I hadn't even opened my mouth! I opened my ledger book and started glancing over the test questions when I finally saw him. Abu, the monkey. On my belly. My eyes moved slowly right. Jasmine, the princess. Still unbelieving, my eyes shifted left. Aladdin, holding his lamp. The full horror started to sink in as I read the inscription over my left boob: The Genie: Often imitated, but never duplicated. Disney's Aladdin. The inscription on my knee-length Aladdin nightgown!! The Aladdin nightgown that I was wearing, in class, with jeans and my unbrushed teeth. I wanted to die. So I did what any self-respecting, possibly neurotic and definitely smelly speech pathology student would do. I hid in the back of the room and finished the exam furiously before running back to the dorms, laughing hysterically the whole way.

As with Phonetic Transcription, haste makes waste, but all's well that ends well. And so without further ado... Tada! Completed Yukon Leaves! Knit Picks dye-your-own 100% merino fingering wt. yarn
Size 1 Brittany Birch dpn's, Began: 10/29/05 Completed: 11/06/05

The only modification I made to this pattern was to continue the lace down the entire instep instead of ending it at the leg as depicted in the pattern. While I'm pleased with the result, I'm really hoping that my friend will enjoy this Christmas gift, too. I've never really spent time staring at her feet before (I'm neurotic, not weird), so I'm also hoping she doesn't have unusually large or wide feet as this quasi-cable pattern doesn't stretch too well.
I'm loving Grumperina's technique for picking up heel stitches. It really eliminates a lot of the ugly puckering that used to plague the sides of my sock heels. But my absolutely favorite part of this pattern? Kitchener stitch over 24 stitches. I'm sick and twisted, I know. But I finally feel like Kitchener stitch is starting to intuitively click. Definite progress over my previous attempts with the Vogue Companion held open by my toes, shoulders on my ears to block out all sound, chanting "Knit, knit, purl, purl!" with increasing volume, while continually hissing SHUSH! at Bossy and Stinky so my toe didn't wind up FUBAR.

Thankfully, I've managed to escape FUBAR twice with this pair of completed socks and an A in linguistics. And as for the infamous Aladdin nightgown? Well, suffice it to say that it's now R.I.P. in a whole new world!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

if i only had a brain

I'm being haunted by ghostly apparitions.

And I'm not talking about the unsettling recurring elevator nightmare where I plummet to my death. Although that haunts me pretty regularly, too. No, I'm talking supernatural phenomena here. *Shudder* Just writing the word, "supernatural" gives me chicken skin. (Chicken skin= Hawaiian goose pimples. Different fowl, same phenomenon.) Any mention of the word supernatural around my sister, Fredo, or me and we're both covering our ears, squeezing our eyes shut and singing, "LALALALALA I CAN'T HEEEAAAAR YOU LALALALALA!!!" It all started one night close to Halloween about 10 years ago, when we were up late watching TV. Back in the Jurassic Era, we didn't have digital TV or the luxury of an information/guide channel. We had only the assistance of the ever-trusty TV Guide, and not only did it require your getting your butt off the couch to retrieve it, it also required the dictionary-like skill of searching and reading to figure out what was on TV. Being sisters, we did the usual "You get it." "No, YOU get it." "Why don't YOU get it?" crap, which ultimately resulted in neither of us getting it. So, naturally, neither of us scaredy cats realized that The Exorcist was starting on TNT. Out of nowhere, Linda Blair's face suddenly appeared and we knew we were in serious trouble. Especially because the remote control was on top of the TV. Which meant walking right up to Split Pea Soup's face to get the remote. We were petrified. "Hurry up! Get the remote control so I can change the channel!" "YOU get the remote control!" "Why don't YOU get the remote control?!"

If we'd only had a brain.

Lazy, petrified idiots that we were, neither of us got the remote. We wound up sitting through 2 entire hours of The Exorcist with almost-exploding bladders- damn if we were getting up to go to that bathroom by ourselves!- and proceeded to cover our ears and sing, "LALALALALALA!!" through FOUR MORE hours of Parts II AND III. Because of course it was A Very Spooktacular Halloween Marathon on TNT, which anybody who bothered to retrieve the TV Guide would have known. And of course, neither of us was getting that close to Linda Blair to get the remote to change the channel. I have never had to pee so bad in my entire life! I was certain that the sheer pressure would surely cause my bladder to implode before the end of Part II. Stupid Fredo.

Thankfully, I'm not being haunted by anything remotely Exorcist-like. No, my apparitions are more along the lines of Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past. More specifically, the Ghost of Uncompleted Christmas Past Projects. Determined not to let the Ghost of Christmas Past become the Ghost of Christmast Present, I am working feverishly to get gifts crossed off the never-ending list this year. Case in point: Yukon Leaves in KnitPicks Dye-Your-Own-Sock-Yarn Merino. After seeing Jane's absolutely lovely version, I made a mental note of the pattern for Christmas gift socks. In spite of the Size 1 dpn's, it knit up relatively fast. I like the wide squared-off toe. I'm really enjoying this pattern and am hoping to have a completed pair by this weekend. We shall see. I play this slightly demented compulsive game with myself where I create personal timelines and then try to beat them- not just with projects, but with individual rows, even. My own personal game of chicken, I guess. And then I wonder why Stinky's so deranged with the jack-o-lanterns!

Speaking of which, and mostly because I know I can't milk this much past today, here are some gratuitous Halloween pics of The Scarecrows formerly known as Bossy and Stinky. Surprisingly, they were very good little scarecrows and were rewarded with lots of treats in the Land Of Oz, otherwise known as The Mall. Unfortunately, much to their chagrin, the Wicked Witch of the West swooped down and confiscated their loot. She cackled as she promised that they could trade their spoils for one future unknown and unnamed toy. Being young scarecrows, they fell for her evil scheme. Oh, if they'd only had a brain!