PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Monday, April 30, 2007

That's MY Mall.

I almost went to Ward Parkway Mall yesterday afternoon. I needed to get a birthday & Mother's Day gifts. I would have been gone before the gunman got there, but all the same, it was an eerie feeling.

James was reading one of his bulletin boards, and said, "Three people killed at a Kansas City mall." I didn't quite believe him. "Bannister?" I said. Showing my profiling of the area, but still. I won't go to Bannister mall anymore. There aren't any shops left, and as surrounding stores continue to leave, it's a pretty rough area.
He started searching for the news story.

Right up the street. Six minutes from our house. Two miles. I drive by the mall on my way to work every day. My beloved Chick-Fil-A sits across the Target parking lot. Target, the one I go to sometimes on my way to work. Starbucks. PierOne. McAlister's. PetSmart It's MY mall, goddamn it. OUR mall. Kristin & Justin's gym is there. I scoffed at the first Reuters report that called it "upscale". It's not. It used to be headed for the same fate as Bannister, and then Target came. And the others came, too. And it turned everything around. I was pissed last night. My first reaction was fear, clinging to solitude, isolation, hide from the crazy people with guns. My next reaction came quicker, anger, and it's still there. I won't let fear run my life, I can't. None of us should.

I had a conversation over lunch with an old friend of mine last week, and we talked about the Virginia Tech shootings. I said that our parents, the Boomers, they watched a societal change in their lifetime - hell, they went from no tv to black and white and three stations to plasma color and 1,000 channels. My dad told me about the ice truck that came through their neighborhood, and in the hot summer days, the iceman would give the kids a little chip of ice from the giant blocks, a cool break in the hot Chicago summer. Our parents watched the transformation from 1950's conservatism to a scantily-clad, gyrating MTV miasma. They had many notable shifts from an age of innocence and arguably, simplicity. I believe for my generation - because MTV arrived in our pubescent years, and we eagerly embraced it - our societal change is unexpected violence. Our parents are experiencing it, too, but we were raised with the tube, and everything it brought. We expect violence, but of the calculated cinematic variety. Rambo gets the bad guys. Drive-bys happen in those OTHER neighborhoods. We listen to the music for the cues, that the hero will still exact justice, and protect the American Way. Then 9-11 happened. And Columbine, and then all the other crazy "Let's go wacko and take as many people with us as we can" incidents happened. Yes, they happened before, but they tended to be more family-based. Kill everyone in the house, then take yourself out. Now, public-place multiple-killings have become a new road to fame, a way to tell the world you're really pissed off, that The Man or The Bullies at School are keepin' you down. It's shocking. It doesn't happen in the movies. There's no clear explanation for it. There's no music to warn you. There's no predictor, no way to dodge it.

For three people - and their families - yesterday (the first person was killed at her home & her car was what the gunman drove to the mall), it was an unfair, unexpected fucked-up twist in the fabric of life. The gunman probably got what he wanted, suicide by cop. I'm glad the police were able to get there as quickly as they did, to keep more people from getting hurt and killed. I'll go back to Ward Parkway Mall, and I'm sure I'll feel a little more cautious, be a little more aware of my surroundings. I'll probably feel that way shopping anywhere, at least for a while. Our brave new idyllic world is eroding around us, one gunman at a time.

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posted by PlazaJen, 6:30 AM | link |

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Live, Late-Breaking....and Amusing.

I'm watching KCTV5's morning show, and usually they're just chipper and entertaining, but now they're playing music that "segues" into their stories, and some story was just on about searching for a cure, so they played "Cure for Pain" by Morphine (which happens to be one of those bands that makes me want to drink whiskey & dance on tables) and I was shocked, because it's not the most mainstream song you'd expect to hear on the NEWS, but then the anchorwoman ruined it all by chirping, "And that's The Morphines!" I buried my face in my hands. Mark Sandman is going to haunt her ass tonight.

Other notable news stories from this morning: A 60-something year old lady named Vera in Tuckahoe NY had a surprise for a would-be robber of her deli - with one hand, she grabbed some singles and threw them on the floor, and when he bent down to get them, she went, WHAM, with the baseball bat she'd grabbed with her other hand, and the moral of the story was "Don't Mess With Vera", and Vera was quite the spitfire, but unfortunately, I can't find the news clip. Seeing Vera slam the bat on the imaginary burglar for the cameras (with the shouted "WHAM"!) was pretty awesome.

In my effort to find the clip, I did see a poll on the website, "Should scalping be legalized in Missouri, yes or no." WTF???? OH hell. I just clicked through for more info. See, I think it should be phrased TICKET SCALPING, because I completely went with my original definition of the word, and I could not believe my eyes, that someone was trying to legalize separating your scalp from your head.

Considering I was outside in the garden at SIX THIRTY this morning, I have decreed the rest of the day Free Time, beyond the errands I need to run. I got all my hostas & astilbe planted, landscape fabric down, rosemary potted & one decorative planter finished (uh, 10 more to go....) I need a lot more potting soil, so I'll get that today & finish up Operation Prettify between today & tomorrow!


posted by PlazaJen, 9:46 AM | link |

Friday, April 27, 2007

Liquor -N- Plants

I started out my morning by, well, getting up. That's always a good way to start, as opposed to waking up dead, or say, just falling out of bed and crawling around on the floor. AFTER that part, I went to Sutherlands, because they had annuals for $0.69 a four-pack. And hostas in 1# pots for $1.99. Dudes and dudettes, that is Super Cheap! (Oh, maybe I should point out real quicklike that I took today off. I'm going to surprise the Wo with my industrious mad gardenin' skeelz! Hopefully.) So I got a bunch of cheap petunias and three hostas and it was like, $15, and it almost offset the fact that I truly despise shopping at Sutherlands! Talk about a place in need of a makeover.

Then it was on to the KC Gardener's Society annual plant sale. Where I was accosted by every single person working the sale, and I brought the median age down by a good thirty years. It was like fresh blood in the water, and everyone wanted to help me. I ended up buying :cough: a lot of plants. It was sort of the reverse of what I once read about child pickpockets in Other Countries, how they swarm you and distract you and they practice in a warehouse under the tutelage of a Master Evil Pickpocket with a long stick pointing out techniques on a mannequin rigged with bells. So when I say the reverse of that, I mean: Old people piling me up with plants. "Have you heard about Pineapple Sage?" (Ah, yes!) "Did you see we marked the begonias down from $5 to $3.50?" (Um, yes, I was standing next to you when you told her to do it?) And an ongoing list of inquisitive questions about what other plants I wanted, and did I have a list, and what sort of clematis did I have back at my house, and always with each new pot going into my cardboard flat, "You are sure gonna be busy this weekend!" in an excited, chirpy, "we got another one, Vern, and if she buys three more plants we get upgraded to VIP at the Waid's cafeteria!" sort of way. The priceless moment for me was, at the end of ringing all these plants up, the Head Lady asked me if I was a member, and I said, "My husband is," and she asked his name, and I told her, and WITHOUT LOOKING she sternly said, "HE hasn't paid his dues!" It was like meeting the Wizard of Gomer's Parking Lot Plant Sale, she was that all-knowing. So then I paid his dues, in addition to the plants, got my membership discount, and as I balanced two of the three flats in my arms, her cohort bellered, "CARRY OUT!!!!" and I wanted to perhaps have some peace and quiet and a little less attention at that point. And in my haste to pull myself away from the OPPP (Old People Piling Plants), I jumped in my car and started to drive away. Whoops! I needed to also go to Gomer's, and there's just something slightly naughty about buying liquor at 9:15 in the morning, I think. For some unfortunate souls, I suppose it's a ritual, but I had my heart set on getting some of that Patron Coffee Tequila (it's not just for breakfast anymore), and then I picked up a birthday gift and had a very nice chat with the fellow working behind the counter. He upsold me to also buy a small bottle of Patron Orange Liqueur, in case I want to make top-shelf margaritas, and I think I just have a weakness for the bottle design. Oh, and I found the bottle of tequila that we sampled at that dinner and really liked, and it's $52 a bottle. So. That stayed at Gomer's.

But in the end? I spent more money on plants than I did on booze! Maybe I should try to find me one of those agave plants and combine the hobbies.....

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posted by PlazaJen, 12:28 PM | link |

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Random Orts!

- My boss & I are going out on a sales pitch this afternoon. I immediately had the image from The Traveling Salesman episode of The Office, when Phyllis and Karen get makeovers so they resemble the client's wife. (I think this is influenced in part by the fact I have a haircut at lunch.)

- I'm really digging the band Guster right now.

- Since my cough continues to plague me, I wrestled with Option A (doing what the ENT said, get a sinus scan and consult a pulmonary disease specialist, which hello, does that sound scary or what?), Option B (going back to my regular physician to review my options), and Option C (ignoring everything and simply willing myself back to health.) Turns out, there is Option D. Two people, in the same night, emailed me and raised the issue of allergies, since they have been struggling with theirs and had some similar symptoms. My thanks to Beth and Mosker, because as I mulled and considered this option, I found myself mentally running back to Easter weekend on the calendar and saying, "But see, self? We WERE fine for a while back there!" and then, it hit me. It froze that weekend. It stayed cold. And last night? Loads of rain. Cleaning the air. No coughing - at least nothing that woke me up. I'm coughing a bit again today, and I have an appointment a week from today with an allergist. The woman on the phone said they had seen a lot of people with these symptoms, so I will have three days of hell (you have to go off your antihistamines in order for the tests to work), but then hopefully we'll have some answers that don't involve snaking cameras and equipment down my nose and throat. I figure I'm due for an allergen review, anyway, since it's been over 10 years since the first & only one I had. Which I do not remember with great fondness. While I wasn't allergic to a lot? I was WILDLY allergic to several things, and I recall the madness of sitting there, feeling my skin react to the cat dander, dust mites, mold and whatever tree and grass pollen spazzes me out. Apparently this has been a dreadful season for those with allergies, so I'd like to find either the right drug, or explore allergy shots, so I don't go through this again.

- I have a million things to do, that I want to do, and I have a feeling the weekend's going to whiz-bang by! Tonight's knit night, the KC Gardener's Association plant sale started today, and I'm almost done with the 3rd chemo cap for my co-worker. I'm going to deliver them all when I take her family dinner in a couple of weeks; now I need to come up with a good dish to make, preferably vegetarian, that freezes well and doesn't involve mushrooms. Any suggestions?

And while we're open to suggestions, what sort of extreme sport should YOU try? I love the notion of mine....
You Should Try Street Luge

With speeds of up to 70 mph,
Skateboarding laying down is not as tame as it seems.
What Extreme Sport Should You Try?


posted by PlazaJen, 9:35 AM | link |

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

We're Gen-U-Wine! Bona-Fide!

Last night, the Wo and I became certified Kansas City Barbecue Society judges. We'll be receiving our BADGES and certification in a few weeks; the class was truly a unique experience! We learned about the KCBS rules (and yes, oh yes, there are RULES), and we were instructed on the qualities to look for when judging the four meat categories. (Chicken, Pork, Ribs & Brisket.) I think I was starting to take it really seriously, as I felt myself morphing into Juror Mode, and we all know how I feel about truth, justice, and the law & order way of life. Now I can add barbecue to that list!

I think the biggest challenge is that you have to set aside (to some extent) your personal preferences, and since I abhor fat on meat, I still took a bite of the chicken skin to get the flavor; same with cuts of meat - just because you don't like dark meat, you can't score it "Awful". So I'm looking forward to a real judging experience one of these days, and you can be sure, I'll take it seriously. Sadly, you cannot drink beer while judging, and that's of course for the cooks' benefit - all your work and Sloshy McSlosherson declares your chicken "road kill!" and taints the entire table!

The big goal, of course, is to get ourselves into the Grandaddy of 'em all - the American Royal. Maybe I'll work my way up to Meat Judge by starting with Side Dishes. Or Desserts! :)

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posted by PlazaJen, 1:21 PM | link |

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Under My Thumb.....

Finished Object:

Chemo Cap #2

I finished the second chemo cap for my co-worker; the yarn is Noro Lily (silk/cotton) and it's simply scrumptious. It took just over one skein to make the hat. The pattern is the Amelia Earhart Aviator Cap and I think it's super cute. The lines are really unique, and the pattern is VERY well-written. I love when a pattern says "repeat rows 2 & 3 thirteen times" - and then gives you the row-by-row steps anyway. It whipped right up over the weekend, and now I'm on to the third (and final) hat out of mercerized cotton. It's like penance, really, all this knitting with cotton.

Tonight's going to be fun - the Wo and I are headed up to Sugar Creek to take our class to be certified KC BBQ judges! I have no idea what to expect, and I am a little afraid I will have to learn cuts of meat under pressure. I always have to look up the diagram to understand where exactly what particular cut comes from which section. Hope there isn't a test at the end! Oh, lord. Now I'm over-thinking it and starting to stress out. Heh. I did a search yesterday to find the building where the class is located, and I landed on a web page that was titled, "Original Village People to appear at Sugar Creek Slavic Festival". I seriously read the page three times, searching for more information about the Original Village People, because who doesn't love the campy "YMCA" and the costumes???? Ohhhhh. They meant something else. They are just featuring PEOPLE. From a VILLAGE. ORIGINALLY. I tell ya, it just shows how we process information, we start with what we THINK we know and what we expect to see, and it can take you places far, far removed from the truth and reality of a situation! I must admit, the Slavic Festival seemed like a strange venue for the Village People.

And last, but not least, Shanny had this on her blog, and I decided to take the little quiz. Turns out she and I are polar opposites, and are warned to beware each other. I guess it means you shouldn't make your friends based on quizzes!!!

You Are the Thumb

You're unique and flexible. And you defy any category.
Mentally strong and agile, you do things your own way. And you do them well.
You are a natural leader... but also truly a loner. You inspire many but connect with few.

You get along well with: The Middle Finger

Stay away from: The Pinky
What Finger Are You?

I'm simply shocked I'm not THE middle finger.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:45 AM | link |

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ah Do Declare...

I've long suspected that Kansas City has been fence-riding its membership in The South. Growing up in Northeast Iowa and living in Minnesota, I grew up thinking of the South as Alabammy. Mississippi. Weezeeyanna. Texas. States that touch the ocean at some point. States that had slaves. (Yes, I know. Missouri was quite the proponent of slavery, to the point of fighting Kansas, and forever instilling a border-war hatred.) Being a Midwest Yank, I had the accent to prove it, and still, all it takes is one conversation with another Northerner to bring the MinneSOtah accent out of the closet, with a dash of Chicahhgo vowel-flattening. Oh, yah! You betcha! Funny lookin how? Just funny lookin! (from Fargo.) So as we all tend to do, when I moved to St. Louis and subsequently to Kansas City, I started to notice the differences in how the people around me spoke. Take, for instance, the strange St. Louis quirk of pronouncing "quarter" and "forty" and "shorts" as though they were spelled "kwartr", "fahhrty" and "sharts". It should not suprise you to know that I made copious fun of it, in fact. Despite my belief that I was clinging to my Northern cadence, my father observed several years ago, while we were on the phone, that I was integrating a faint drawl into my speech. Nahhhh. I didn't believe him at first. But it was true. And having lived in Missouri (or Mizzurrah, as you might say) for ten years now, I can no longer deny that I can drawl. And even say and write "y'all" with the carefree nature of a Texas denizen. But still, given all of this twang and mouth-fulla-grits, I still believed that Missouri was Midwest. Not South. Even in the face of McAlister's and Chick-Fil-A moving to town, restaurants I believe to be "Southern". Nope. Not us. We're not South.

And then this weekend, I saw it. On a McDonald's marquee. And in four words, clinched it for me.

"Now Serving Sweet Tea"

Ay-yup. Sweet Tea is the tipping point. I officially declare it. We're now part of the South. Y'all come and visit real soon.


posted by PlazaJen, 9:44 AM | link |

Friday, April 20, 2007

Knits 'n' Bits

I finished my summertime hat - I lurrrrve it - it's knit out of Mango Moon viscose, and it shrieks, "Let's go to Mexico! Drink things with wedges of lime in them! Now!"


I adapted the Chick Knits Bucket Hat pattern, because my gauge and her gauge and the yarn ..... well, let's just say I know how to knit & have done many a hat in my day, so her pattern provided a good template for me to jump off & make my own version. I then bought rayon-covered millinery wire & joiners on eBay, so I could make the brim stay out & in shape. Otherwise, it looked pretty goofy & ruffly. It's just damn cheerful. And who could use cheerful? Me! I've had long stretches of Oh, Not So Cheery, and I feel like my aforementioned forest is starting to have some clearings and dappled sunlight and genuine laughter that doesn't echo with undertones of sadness.

I also knit a hat for my co-worker who is going through chemo. I am going to make her a couple more hats, because that is my coping mechanism. She has sailed through her treatment for the ovarian cancer, but now they think she might have thyroid cancer as well. So she needs some hats, and she needs the words "remission" and "all better now" and "relax and have fun", and I can only do the hat part. So on and on I knit.

The first hat I've completed is out of Rowan CashSoft, and I guess the color is called Bella Donna. It's a beautiful shade of lilac! It's the Lace-Edged Women's Hat from Headhuggers - free pattern.


All right, so with all that said, I have to thank Bekah for being industrious and being a super fan & super friend, because she has nominated my blog, and the company I keep within the hobby category is pretty lofty. I don't pretend I'm even at the readership or skill level as the Yarn Harlot, so I appreciate her efforts to elevate my status in the Blogosphere.... She even made a cute button to promote me - seems to me like someone could have her OWN business designing webstuffs, in addition to her fabu photography skills! I can't get the button to show up, so once I figure out where the code error is kicking me in the teeth, I'll get it in here.

UPDATE! Got the button!


I do like that I have an "Adult Content" notation.

Well, I gotta run to a meeting, lunch is over. Happy Friday & have an excellent weekend!

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posted by PlazaJen, 12:43 PM | link |

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Slap This!

The Wo outdid himself with a surprise yesterday..... I came home & eventually noticed my latest sock project was put on my chair. I said something, as I walked over to move it, thinking he had taken it off the tray table so he could use the table. Then I saw a crazy object underneath the knitting, and when I picked it up, it made a scraping noise. I shook it a little, and got even more scraping sounds. Since he is gearing up for turkey hunting, I muttered something like, "hmmmmm, and that's a turkey call, never seen anything like THAT before, mmmmkaaaay" and he just stared at me.

I clued in finally that this was something that maybe merited more attention from me. (Hey, I wasn't called "Fogbanks" for nuttin'!) Turns out, I now own my very own VIBRASLAP.

This is the instrument the lead singer of Cake is always whacking & it makes a delightful, long buzzing/rattle. I'm totally joining a band now. And because I can also use a diaphragm turkey call, I could really be a show-stopper. Cluckin' and slappin'!

(And in case you read the comments and wondered if some miracle had taken place, Momma Linda is James' mom, my mother-in-law. She's so great, and I'm not just saying that because she left me the nicest comment, ever. She just is.)

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posted by PlazaJen, 11:16 AM | link |

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mouth Breathers, Unite!

I seem to be on a strange evolution involving my sinuses. It would be nice if the end goal were that I will grow scent pockets in them, akin to the bloodhounds, and be able to track things across water. Not that I have a great need for tracking in general, but it would be a nifty SuperSkill to have, I think. Can you tell I was influenced by this show on hound dogs over the weekend?

So the trouble all started last January, and while I've kiiiind of stopped coughing at night - I did actually stop completely, but I have a bit of recurrence going on this week - I feel like my nose and sinuses have been packed with expand-o foam that would ordinarily be used to ship something fragile via your friendly box-kicking carrier. And my voice is rapidly dropping into the dulcet tones of Kathleen Turner, and I'm afraid I'm going to skip right past the tenor section to the froggy croaking section of the Oakridge Boys.

And I'm mouth-breathing. Damn, it is so sexy. I imagine what my co-workers think as they pass by on their way to the supply closet (yes, my half-office-half-cube is almost a Harry Potter residence), and they HAVE to be thinking, GODDAMN! That woman is staring at her computer with her jaw gaping open, gaspin' like a sexxy fish. She is soooooooo fine.

Wait'll I start singing. Giddyup! A boom boppa mouw mouw..........


posted by PlazaJen, 1:48 PM | link |

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Highs & The Lows & The In-Betweens

Yesterday certainly was a mish-mash of experiences - obviously everyone who doesn't live under a rock knows about the Virginia Tech campus shootings, and even without any direct connections to those people, you still feel it. I reflected upon it last night, as I lay in my comfortable bed, that there were numerous people tonight, struggling to sleep, minds racing, grief-stricken, and I felt sadness for their pain, and for the unanswerable "Why?" - I think everyone shares the feeling that if you decide to unhinge your brain and you have a death wish, that we'd much prefer you just start with yourself, not take a bunch of innocent people along with you. Sigh. Plus, anytime there's a shooting like this, I think of my husband as a schoolteacher, and while I'm grateful he teaches 5th grade, it doesn't make him bulletproof, and the world today continues to morph into a nearly unrecognizable mass of wild violence, barely restrained by yards and yards of rules and political correctness, and stuffed with a healthy serving of abdication of responsibility. It just doesn't make sense to me. I could go on and on, but we'd never get to the other points I want to make today.

Yesterday was also a red-letter, banner day at work. We won the piece of business we traveled to Illinois to pitch, just under two weeks ago. This client is now our largest client, and everyone here is very excited, deservedly so. We went to O'Dowd's to celebrate immediately after we got the news, and spirits were high. I'm excited because it means new work, and it also validates the work we put into the pitch and the thinking and the people I work with. Not that you can't self-validate all you like, but it sure means more when someone not only says, "Yeah, we like you!" but they also give you a check for being smart.

And the winds of change are upon us. The weather has turned, personal situations have changed, friendships have been ended, begun, adjusted and re-established. The Sopranos are winding to an end, and if you watch it, last Sunday's episode was a bit chewy, given everything we went through with my dad the past year. My mouth was just open in astonishment. One of the mob bosses was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to numerous other organs & to his brain. (While they didn't pinpoint "lung" in my father, it is very likely to have started there, or the liver, and his whole body was filled with cancer once they detected it.) They gave the mob boss 3 months.... and he died within the hour (of the show). Beyond the actors, kudos to the production folks and the director, because lordy, they nailed it. I didn't cry, partly because I was so shocked to see such a direct parallel being played out on my mafia crime drama, and I finally said, "Man, my dad would've loved the fact that the very thing that killed him was featured in The Sopranos." I guess/would like to think that my reaction is what healing starts to look like. Speaking of healing, and my dad, we bought and are going to plant five large ornamental grasses in our garden as a memorial to him. He loved ornamental grasses, and I still have the piece of paper he scribbled down numerous names and varieties for me to consider buying. They will grow, and return each spring, and I expect each year I will have a slightly different feeling when I see them. As much as I would like to think that grief is something you can pickle, suspend in a brine and know it will always have the same biting, sour flavor, I think instead it will constantly change in appearance, sensation, and intensity.

And no matter what - death, shootings, new business, laughter - it will all be ok.

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posted by PlazaJen, 2:54 PM | link |

Monday, April 16, 2007

Say What You Will, The Sky Is A Lovely Shade of Purple In My World.....

I was driving home last Friday, following a white car that had been rear-ended on the driver's side at some point. While cognitively, I knew it was damage, my brain immediately thought there was an elaborate sticker wrapping on the corner of the bumper, and that sticker was depicting a black & white ink drawing of an anteater wearing a smoking jacket. You know, something a la Edward Gorey.

Sometimes a dent is just a dent.... or is it?

And you know how it is, once you get an idea in your head and you simply can't see anything else? Well, for the remaining mile we spent together, I kept staring at that frickin' anteater, dressed in his finest, and had to get the picture. Which does not do it justice, and like my husband commented on Flickr, may in fact make you believe I am dropping acid into my coffee, but I assure you, I am not.

Anteater. Smoking Jacket. Purple sky. Or is that...haze?


posted by PlazaJen, 2:26 PM | link |

Friday, April 13, 2007

WoooooSAHHHH, with garlic breath.

That's just a word of caution, in case you wanna woo-sahhhh with me in person. I had a slice of garlic bread at lunch and the vampires will be steering clear of me for the rest of the day, undoubtedly! God, I love me the Cupini's.....

I keep forgetting it's Friday the 13th, and while I'm not terribly superstitious, I'm pretty adamant about nothing bad happening today. Or if it does have to happen, then it's gotta be TODAY. I am ready for the past seven days to be over with, because they were drama-filled, stupid, and irritating. I keep erasing what I'd LIKE to say, because there's nothing to be gained from it. I need to move on from the stupidity, I'm just going to let it go. Garlic Wooooooo saaaahhhhhhh. Having a clear conscience and the support of great friends helps a lot.

I taught my class last night at The Studio, and Chelle, Molly & Julie all were great students. Laura was also a huge help! We had lots of laughs, I showed them a couple little tricks & shared my notes and thoughts on Lizard Ridge & things to keep in mind - and was so glad I had this blog to go back over, since most of my notes were in posts as I made it. There was a crazy moment when everyone had left & I was turning out the lights where I realized.... I'm alone. In a yarn shop. (Am I dreaming?) Usually when I go there, it's over lunch or right after work, and there's almost always a handful (or if there's a sale, a gobful) of people there and sometimes you do the back-and-forth hustle dance with someone who's coming the other direction and is also interested in the sock yarn :) It was so quiet, and if I hadn't been hungry for dinner, I bet I'd have given some of my favorite yarns a zen-moment petting..... probably for the best I didn't indulge, because right after I left, the manager's husband showed up to take care of a couple things, and it would have been really dorky to be caught with my head in a tub of cashmere..... Hi there! Just me! Bobbin' for Artyarns! aaaaand guess who'll never teach in this town again?! (Can't you hear the whispers? "She was on the floor with all the Noro...." "I heard she was wearing a Colinette kit like a wig!")

Today's a bit languid - most of our work is going to hit next week with a vengeance, and both the bosses are out getting Lasik! We'll be renaming ourselves the Eagle-Eyed Ad Agency if enough people here get it. I can't wait to hear about their experiences. And, even though it's going to be totally gross and SNOWY and yecchy, I'm looking forward to spending the weekend getting caught up on my shows, finishing my summer hat & starting on a chemo cap for a co-worker who will undergo three weeks of the nasty stuff. She's going to do a blog about her experiences & I'll link to it (if she'd like) when she's ready. She & her husband just had a baby, and if not for the baby, they wouldn't have found the cancer, so their little one's a bit of a miracle bambino, and mom's prognosis is great because the cancer was still in an early stage. It's strange how the word "cancer" sometimes makes tears spurt out of my eyes, and then other times, it seems like just another word. I still cope pretty much the same way: knit, knit, knit.

Have a wonderful weekend yourself, and if you're carrying anger or irritation around in your heart, let yourself get rid of it, if even for only an hour, and see how it feels. We can make our own luck - and mental peace - even on Friday the 13th!

woooooosahhhhhhhhhh and quit backing away from me. ;)
posted by PlazaJen, 1:38 PM | link |

Thursday, April 12, 2007


So the dinner last night was awesome. The food, the service, the atmosphere - everything was stellar. Money well spent, and again, I get no kickbacks or free meals, but if you are looking for a good Mexican restaurant that isn't all about the goopy cheese and overly-fried things, Guadalajara Cafe is the place to go!

In addition to our menu, we got a big sheaf of paper explaining how tequila is made, and then page-ads of the different tequilas featured in the drinks we would be having.

Ever-on-the-lookout for marketing tie-ins, I said at one point, "The Tequila People MUST be involved in this shindig." Too true. A man I had never seen at the restaurant was strolling around the tables, providing shots (shots!) of various tequilas in addition to your regularly-scheduled drink. Now, the drinks weren't full-sized or doubles or anything, but I can tell you by the third course/drink, I started giggling uncontrollably at James, who was trying to explain turkey seasons between Missouri and Kansas to me. Something about hearing the old t-shirt saying in the back of my head: One tequila! Two tequila! Three tequila! Floor!

By the fourth course, I was desperately trying to make eye contact with the couple at the table next to us. I looked at James and confided, "I'm trying to make friends." He cracked up laughing as he replied, "Me too!"

Sadly, we made no friends. And we are not professional drinkers by any stretch of the imagination. By the time we got to the flan & it's accompanying Coffee Tequila Patron, we were losing some steam & buoyancy - even though the plates were small, the food was very filling and provided some ballast to offset the varying cocktails. They told us they'd be having another one towards the end of May, and I expect we'll be attending! Hopefully with existing friends, so we don't embarrass ourselves trying to make new ones mid-dinner.


posted by PlazaJen, 1:19 PM | link |

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Midweek Random Orts

1. While I love Planet Earth, it does get a little hard for me to watch. JWo keeps saying "Survival of the fittest!" "Circle of Life"! And while I know it intellectually, I can't help but root for the critters to escape the predators.

2. The Easter Bunny is never going to come to our house again. Suzy caught and SWALLOWED a baby bunny. I told her she was NEVER going to get on Cute Overload with behavior like that. She remained unfazed and of the clear conscience, for she understands the Circle thing.

3. Tonight's our tequila-tasting dinner. Woo-hoo! Bring on the mariachi band!

4. I hate this weather, officially. Chance of snow this weekend? Are you kidding me? Does this current weather mean we're going to have a summer filled with 110-degree days to counterbalance the bone-chilling damp cold?

5. I am not for the self-censorship too much, and I am also not for the making my blog private, because I know there are a lot of people I don't even know who read my blog. I find myself grappling with the "I share myself on my blog space for my own therapy and enjoyment and the similar effect on like-minded others, with hopefully a laugh or six" with the "I then am sharing myself with the people who do not so much like me yet read me still" schools of thought. Reminder to self: Cannot control the world yet. Continue working on that. Keep being great. Everything else is fluff in the lint trap.

6. I am officially in love with CVS. We are so serious, I have a Care Card and I get bonus dollars. It's almost as good as a Woolworth's, though I was sad they had little to no Easter candy left (my candy bowl at work gets raided throughout the day.) I loves me a bargain, especially on chocolate!

7. I started the bucket hat over, with my new calculations for my gauge with the Mango Moon viscose yarn. It's so perfect, and a riot of color, that it makes up for the fact there's no elasticity/give, it's just like knitting with cotton. And we all know how much I love knitting with cotton. HAH! I essplode with the laughters at you. Get it away from me, now, rapido, gigante, go!

8. Long ago I mispronounced "Sabado Gigante" much to the amusement of my co-workers. Now I love to insert "gigante" as an adjective, noun, adverb, whatever. Gigante! Make it so! Gracias!

9. I gave a friend of mine some advice the other day, and one line from my email to her jumped out as I re-read it for typos and clarity (I know, you are gigante shocked, what with the random sentence structure in this post):

Sometimes I think we're blinded when we're in pain, and it's because we simply can't divide our energy between learning and healing.

10. Never stop learning. Unless you're healing.


posted by PlazaJen, 11:42 AM | link |

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Finished Knits!

I finished my version of the Klee scarf, with my hand-dyed cashmere. It's super long, super soft, vibrant and oh-so-warm! Something I didn't think I'd be wearing until fall, but since it's been extremely chilly (we lost all the tomato plants, btw), I wore it yesterday.


As you can see, I've started a new hairdo that doesn't involve bangs!

The Lost Points Stole that I started & knitted constantly on our 2-day business road trip got finished last week, and here are a couple pictures of it..... railroad yarn? Not so fun to knit with. It's nice and light and airy, though, so it will be a nice spring/summer wrap that won't be bulky or overly warm. It was fun to bind off & watch the points appear; you knit the center panel and then pick up stitches all around it, increasing at marked intervals.



What's next? Well, some solid socks with some interesting patternwork, and a bucket hat for summer time. I started the hat last night & it's already looking too big, so I'm going to have to fiddle with the pattern to adapt my yarn & gauge.... my favorite thing to do! I'm also teaching the Lizard Ridge class on Thursday at The Studio, it's been some time since I taught a class & it will be fun!


posted by PlazaJen, 10:12 AM | link |

Monday, April 09, 2007

My Dog Will Jump Off Anything....

....if there's a dummy or something else to retrieve. James got her to do her fearless launch from the diving board on the swimming dock this weekend, and I took a series of pictures of both dogs going on retrieves. (Suzy had no desire to get on the diving board!)
Diving Board Launch (Polly)

The first pictures we took, Polly launched straight at me! She totally splashed me & I love the reflection of her on the water, pre-splash.

Polly Jumping, Straight On

You can click through and see the photos on Flickr; we had a really nice weekend at the lake. I got through the anniversary of the day my dad called to tell us he had cancer (April 7. Interestingly enough, his wife Brenda told me she'd gone through it on Wednesday. Dad waited several days to tell me, always his style - protect, slowly reveal, etc.) James' grandmother gave me an extra-long hug when we left, just to let me know she understood. We talked about how sadness fades a bit, and how time does make things better. I really wasn't sad this weekend until we started watching the Sopranos last night, and I remembered one of my last conversations with dad, how he wanted to know how it all ended, and would he live to see it. The opening music brought tears to my eyes, and then it passed. The unexpected moments. The nice thing is, they balance out. Watching the sheer zest and drive in my dog was a very joyful thing.
posted by PlazaJen, 1:10 PM | link |

Thursday, April 05, 2007

File Under: I Don't Need To Know Any More, Thanks

Yeah. If you can't read the marquee, it says, "We Have All You Need To Do A 'Master Cleanse'". Some things just don't belong on marquees.

Update: HAH! Don't you love how the light is yellow, and I am in the middle of the intersection? Yet still photographing for posterity. I'm DEDICATED. Plus it was the first chance I'd had to turn. Oncoming traffic was nuts. And yes, JWo, it was a Wild Oats that had the mouse droppings in it (but the other location). Perhaps the "Master Cleansing" requires special ingredients, eh?
posted by PlazaJen, 1:28 PM | link |

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Half Speed Channel, Half C-SPAN. All Me.

Man! The past week has just been crazytown. Between jetting off to Peoria and back (and by "jetting", I mean "driving") and a weekend jam-packed with things to do, plus something going on nearly every night this week? I feel like I'm flipping between watching high-octane racing (the metaphor for my craziness) and then some mind-numbing talking where I'm dragging my feet and gaping my mouth in disbelief that I'm not running anymore. (that would be the metaphor for me feeling exhausted. I provide the explanations as a complimentary service here at PassionKnit.)

I did, however, finish the Lost Points shawl, and wore it yesterday. It does not like to be broached, pinned, whatevered in place. I am also not inclined to knit with railroad yarn for another ten years, or until I have a frontal lobotomy, whichever comes first. I nearly got sucked into a super blowout sale at on undyed railroad yarn, and I had to slap myself quickly. ($0.90 a ball, people! But still! The ladders! The railroads! The pain-in-the-ass-to-knit-with factor! I resisted. Crisis averted!)

Yesterday also brought with it a cold front. I soaked up some of the Wo's anxiety, for we have planted - brace yo'self - 39 tomato plants already. Brandywines, Romas, an entire assortment of heirlooms. He had so many plants he'd successfully grown from seed, he sold a ton on craigslist; then? Freezing temps. So he labored last night non-stop to insulate and protect his hard work, and I could feel the worry this morning. Fortunately, they did just fine, so we can only hope that they'll continue to weather this crap - because there's a chance of snow tomorrow - and we will be the lucky people with tomatoes before everyone else. Otherwise we'll be the weeping people next week.

Today's my two-year anniversary at the Job that Rocks, and the people I work with are some of the greatest I've ever known. (Former co-workers who read? You are still awesome. It was just crazy-ass circumstances that surrounded us....) I'm bracing myself a little bit for another anniversary this weekend - Saturday is the one year marker for the day my dad called me and told me he had cancer. I expect the anniversary of his death in June to be a lot tougher, but I'm also figuring out it just doesn't matter what I :think: will happen. Sometimes it just happens. I caught myself in a shroud of unexpected sadness the other night when I let the dogs out. It was dark, but the full moon shone like a beacon, and the various constellations in the southern sky twinkled down at me. I immediately spotted Orion, and the realization that my father was no longer here to see the stars, the same stars, was like a kick in the chest. I've always felt a connection to the people I used to know (but don't keep in touch with anymore) when I look at the sky. Because we all see the same stars when we look up at night. (well, ok, everyone I know is basically in North America. Let's not get distracted by technicalities.) Maybe we don't look at the sky at the same time, not even the same day, but I have always found comfort in the notion that an old friend is also turning their face to the night sky and noticing the stars and their arrangements. My dad used to gaze up at the night sky a lot, and I do it, too. I never really was aware of how that simple act created the feeling of connection - until it was gone.

Grief for me now is less the gut-wrenching, leg-breaking immobilization of the previous months. It is more like an actual physical experience I had last night, when I walked from the living room towards the kitchen in the dark - a familiar path, but my eyes had not adjusted to the darkness yet, and I mis-judged the doorway - cracking my elbow hard into the wood. Surprise, pain, so unexpected. There are going to be times I brace myself - the anniversaries, the events, the holidays, and everyone hears about those. It's the painful crack in the dark, the light of realization under the night sky, the moments where life is somehow normal and yet you are reminded of the pain tucked away inside. Progression. Surprises. A return to routine. Summer is coming, despite the cold. Orion will be chased away by the scorpion, the inverted bowl of starlight above us will turn, tomatoes will ripen on the vine. You and I will look at the stars. I will cry, and I will dry my tears, and I will never, ever forget him.

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posted by PlazaJen, 12:07 PM | link |

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Yeah, Straight Outta Compton, Dat's Me.....

Just for the hell of it, I clicked on my "N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton" album in my iTunes. I'm sooooo Michael Bolton from Office Space. (In fact I typed it "Out Of". I'm SUCH a poser.)

However, my rap-hating office neighbor DID retract his assumptions about my musical taste - for some reason he thought I was 'All Rap, All The Time', and then he jumped on my shared folder - all he could say was, "You have the most eclectic collection I've ever seen." Probably the only thing missing is much in the way of country. Just not a c/w kinda gal - more bluegrass and folk if you want to pull something similar & related.

I prefer to think of this as getting in the mood for the long-awaited premiere of "The Shield" tonight on F/X. If you can handle the violence, and haven't seen this show? Get thee the Netflix series immediately. It's unequivocally the best show on television, and I also love The Sopranos and The Wire. Vic Mackey, we're waitin'. Mutha F tha po-lice.

Yeah. I'm bad.
posted by PlazaJen, 3:32 PM | link |

Monday, April 02, 2007

Random Orts....

1. We saw the Blue Man Group Saturday night...if you ever have the chance to see them, I highly recommend going! I will admit I was a wee bit skeptical, seeing how they were super-group popular like, omg, 10 years ago already? But it was a feast for the eyes, ears & mind, funny and thought-provoking, and unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Mike Relm opened, and I've never seen video scratching before - it took me a bit to actually figure out what was going on, but his stuff was also really cool.

2. Fish Fry Friday went down in a horrible way this weekend. We tried to go to a shrimp boil, and apparently it was a ticket-only event that required going to Mass and buying the tickets afterwards - weeks ago. Too bad, because it looked (and smelled) awesome! BUT, you know how they say, one door closes and a window opens... we went to the fabulous Guadalajara Cafe, and not only had a dinner that could only be described as exceptional, we also bought tickets to their tequila-tasting dinner on April 11. Six courses, six tequila drinks. Let's hope we get a reinforced table so I can dance on it.

3. Planet Earth series on Discovery. I can't shut up about it. I've never seen anything so gorgeous, and has the bonus of being educational. We watched two episodes yesterday, the ocean deep & the mountain ranges. If you're not watching, you simply have to give it a try. Kudos to Bank of America, the sponsor, because they run maybe 1-2 commercials in each 45-minute bank of programming.

4. Funny Farm. Kristin got me hooked on this word puzzle and I'm going crazy. It's all I can do to keep myself from cheating.

5. We have a lot of daffodils. I dead-headed all the ones in the front yard yesterday, and when I went to bed last night, I had my own twisted version of American Beauty behind my eyelids - I just saw thousands of shriveled daffodil heads, swirling and falling. Not as glamorous as rose petals, that's for sure.

6. Today's the Royal's home opener....our agency will be at the game, and I realize it's going to be 82 degrees - which is better than rain/snow/freezing temps, but still.... I'd like to hold off on sweating season for at LEAST a few more weeks!

7. This is a busy week! Lots going on each evening, and it's Good Friday/Easter weekend coming up. I've got to get my Operation Haremail package out the door, too.

8. I'm almost done with the Lost Points Shawl/Wrap that I started on last week's road-trip adventure. Pictures forthcoming.

That's it for today! Happy Monday - you KNOW you love Mondays......


posted by PlazaJen, 6:52 AM | link |