PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Choppin'.... Broccoleeeeeeee......

I recently hosted a small figurine, in the shape of broccoli, at my home. Traveling Broccoli is his website, and you can see & read about all of his adventures. Bekah discovered he'd smuggled himself into her suitcase after a visit to relatives in Illinois, and since then, he's been on adventure after adventure! I've offered to have him back during warmer weather, because not only did he not get to see the great fountains of Kansas City, but he didn't get any barbecue.

He did get a horror show when he went into our freezer to have a little ice cream, though. Poor dude.


Thoughtless of me, really.

So I took him shopping, where I shop best - at The Studio, of course, and Broc really seemed to like the yarn:
Broc Visits A Yarn Shop!

I thought he was going to fall asleep in the cashmere bin....who wouldn't?

OOOOOH! Cashmere Is Softer!

We've had some crazy weather here - yesterday brought us insane blowing snow, plummeting temperatures, slick roads & whatnot - so it's good that as Broc climbed back into his VIP Veggie Transporter (we don't tell him it's a USPS Priority Mail box), he had a whole ensemble to keep him snug and warm:

Socks, Mitts, Scarf & Hat

Um, yeah. I knit him a scarf, hat, mitties & socks. Out of Claudia HandPaint, leftover from my Chevron Scarf. For my knitters, who are shaking their heads right now and reminding me maybe this is why my Noro socks are taking so long, it was super quick & easy. OH? You want to knit some for your inanimate vegetables? Well, all I did was: 4-stitch I-cord for the mitts, 5-stitch I-cord for the socks, simple garter stitch lengthwise for the scarf, and a completely made-up pattern for his hat. Since I didn't do as many photo shoots as I wanted to, I felt the least I could do was get him some knitwear couture to have as a souvenir of his visit.

Where's Broc going next? Why, Mardis Gras, of course!!!!

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posted by PlazaJen, 6:29 AM | link |

Monday, January 28, 2008

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, OR, My, What Fast Response Times We Have With The Local Fire Department!

Yesterday evening, I decided to bake a pie. A strawberry-rhubarb pie. I had a recipe from Ye Olde Internet, and I quickly threw everything together. I followed the directions - I do not understand this brushing of the milk on the crust, it pooled and sat there through the entire process and grossed me out. But I did not follow the direction that said, "Put a baking sheet under the pie to catch the drips." Whatevs! The oven already had some pizza cheese burned on - what's a little extra pie, hm?

So I checked the pie at the lowest time allotment for baking - still not done. I took my pie crust ring off, so the whole thing would brown. Apparently (or at least this is the conclusion I've drawn) this is what started Pie Armageddon In The Oven. Suddenly the pie decides to leak. And when I checked it 10 minutes later, there were just a few little red drizzles, and I thought, "Well, hell, I should have done that baking-sheet-thing" and I put a piece of aluminum foil under said pie.

Roughly six minutes later, we were alerted to Pie Armageddon by the whooping of our smoke alarm. And not just any smoke alarm, but the one tied to our security system. So the whooping was also taking place on the outdoor siren (free! due to excellent negotiation skeelz). I ran to cancel it, meanwhile, James started opening windows and I dragged a fan around to start airing things out. The house phone rang - but nobody was on the line, I knew it had to be the alarm company, so I also got out my cell phone (second on the call list). As I looked up, I saw a white light sweep across the side yard.

Giant fucking fire truck. Less than 5 minutes, people. Can I tell you how AMAZED! and GUILTY! But still AMAZED! I was? Four (handsome, uniformed) firemen piled off the truck as I walked to greet them. (James? Inside fanning at the smoke alarm and canceling the alarm every time it went off.) They seemed a little disappointed, all this fuss over a pie, but then they smelled the burnt sugar carried on the wind behind me, and they knew I wasn't covering for a pyromaniac nephew living in the basement. One fireman offered a fan, to air out the house, and I was so dreadfully embarrassed, I declined.

James noted it would be nice if the police response time was as fast, maybe we wouldn't have lost all our stuff. He also went to the freezer to get out a large summer sausage that we'll be taking (along with some cheese) down to the fire station as a thank-you for the unbelievably fast response. Granted, the station is less than a mile away, but I was agog at how quickly they were there.

FWIW, the pie? Pretty good. But not worth all the ruckus! And next time? Baking sheet under said pie.

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posted by PlazaJen, 2:52 PM | link |

Thursday, January 24, 2008

White Rabbit

OK! It's like I posted this super sad, melancholy post & then fell off the face of the earth. My brain's preoccupied with a few things - work, higgledy-piggledy things in my life, crazy people on the internets (do you KNOW how many crazy people are out there? A LOT.) So I'm distracted, and several of the wheels that spin on blog posts and topics have been diverted elsewhere.

I did think I should note that for all the railing and screaming and bitching about bad drivers that I do, I also try to be kind to deserving drivers. You know, like letting some poor sap in who's gotten stuck behind a broke-ass volvo in morning rush hour. (I do NOT, however, let in the asswipes who race all the way up to the "Lane Closed" sign and then try to cut in.) And two days ago, some more schmo almost had me in his back seat because none of his brake lights worked. Well, scratch the "none" - the tiny sliver of red on his trunk worked, but nothing else. So I managed to pull up alongside him, and waved at him to roll his window down. Poor dude. He had to lean over to make the passenger window descend. I told him about his brake lights (after all, we're all just avoiding the po-po, right? No need to get pulled over and have a coronary) and then about two miles later, I was stopped & waiting to turn & I happened to look over and there he still was, alongside and waving a thank you. Made me a little happy. Just to make a small bit o' difference. And to maybe counterbalance all the righteous indignation I have against those who pull halfway into the intersection, as though it's perfectly acceptable, natural even, to align their FACE with the curb, not the front end of their car. WTF? Dude, that's an awesome way to lose the front half of your car. I have plenty of insurance, and I can draw an accident report on graph paper like nobody's business. Oh, a quick search of my archives shows I've never told that story. Whups. Well, ok, here goes, really quickly (the reason this is called White Rabbit is because I'm already late for a party. Whatev! I live to be late.)

I was living in Minneapolis, and there was one street near the Art Museum that cut through a big main street at a jog. As in, you pulled up to the light, and when it turned green, you veered over to the right (or left) to maneuver through the intersection. It was a full street's width "off" from going straight through. SO one day, I'm driving home from work (on the big main street), in the right-hand lane. (Four lanes wide, mind you.) This car pulls up to the intersection, I see the driver looking towards me, and what does she do? Pulls right out in front of me. Well, ok, holy crap, but I immediately changed lanes. As did she. Only SHE came to a complete stop & put her turn signal on to "turn left". My front driver's side hit her back passenger's side, as I did everything in my power to once more careen out the lane she'd chosen, but this time, unsuccessfully.

I was pissed. And shaking. I hadn't been going that fast - 30-35? and I got my insurance information out & right there, a little card, told me what to do. And what not to do. So these two girls get out of their car (I am so late for this party now, but I'm caught UP! In the storytelling!) and I say, "Are you ok?" And they're grabbing their necks and whining and all up in my grill for hitting them. I remain silent. The police come. They're unenthusiastic, it's a fender-bender, and I'm really steamed because I'd always heard that when you rear-end someone, it's always your fault. The police ask the girls if they're hurt. (and me, too, but I'm filled with fear, indignation & shock and decline help.) The driver says, "Well, our necks hurt REAL BAD." The cop asks her if she wants an ambulance. She says?
"Well, we're on our way to look at an apartment? And we're late already. So, can we have the ambulance :after: we look at the apartment?"

I think pieces of my body fell off as reality closed in around me and my astonishment broke off parts of my hull. I looked, with utter tongue-tied amazement at the police officer. Who at this point was out of patience. "Miss! Ambulance means EMERGENCY. I'm asking you if you Want An Ambulance NOW." And he looked at me and we exchanged a look that said we both knew who the idiot was.

"Well, we're late, and we need to see this apartment, so...... no."

I was furious. And the next day, after talking to my agent, I got out blue graph paper, a ruler, several markers, and I diagrammed the scene. And sent it in with the accident report. When I got the follow-up call from the adjuster, it was the greatest conversation ever. First of all, they wished all their clients were like me, and could submit such thorough reporting. Second, it was quite clear due to the intersection, the stop light, and the damage to the cars that the other driver had actually proceeded through an intersection ILLEGALLY (my heart sang an aria when I heard that word) and that, in fact, I had done everything in my power to avoid the accident. Her insurance was liable and my beast of a Ford Escort got it's alignment redone and some big piece of metal got straightened out, and I drove that car until it burned itself up in a fire.

I think I'd like "Don't Fuck With Me" on my tombstone. Problem being with cremation, I won't have a tombstone, but hell. It's fun to think about. The other option? "She was even late for dying" - speaking of that, I have gotta go, my peeps. Tomorrow's Friday, and a big hootenanny for that fact.
posted by PlazaJen, 5:28 PM | link |

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me....

...When I'm 64?

Dad would have been 64 today. Some times, very rarely, but still, some days I let myself pretend for just a second that it all never happened. That it was a bad dream, a mistake, a dastardly soap opera plot in which he was forced to fake his demise and a storyline that will see him returned to his rightful place in our lives. It's like taking a smoke break, stepping into a bubble outside of the Dead Parent Club meeting room. I'll never spend more than a second there, but oddly enough it's quite ethereal.

I did pretty well until our family friend sent a second email (the first was about taxes, I'm utterly confused) telling me he was thinking about my dad today. Yeah, me too, but having it acknowledged by someone who feels it on some level, too, just cut too close to the quick.

I've spoken to a couple of friends, both of whom are 15-20+ years older than me, and both said that they :still: wish they could talk to their mom or dad. That they are the person they want to call on the phone and just tell things to. I trust that these feelings do get easier, and their experiences help illustrate it. When I hear people's birthdays announced on NPR, I feel resentment when they say anyone who's outlived my father. That'll go, too, I assume. Eventually. My progress? A co-worker who didn't work here when my dad died asked about him, and I said he had died, and he asked when, and how. I was stunned I could answer without falling apart or even tearing up.

Small steps are still steps. But this is one day when I wish it were all different and I was calling him and laughing and to apologize again that my card was late and saying I love you and finding out what he was going to have for dinner.

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posted by PlazaJen, 2:20 PM | link |

Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK Conversations

So, a certain someone suggested if I ever got around to sending out holiday cards by Martin Luther King Day, they could be from our dogs. I thought it was hilarious. Sadly, I haven't gotten to the card part. Sigh. But our dogs are definitely celebrating the holiday (they get to hang out inside because JWo also doesn't have to work). Good luck to them on the equality bit, though. The Magic Door to the Great and Tasty Food doesn't open unless ya got opposable thumbs.

The other conversation I had today was with a co-worker. Her father-in-law works at a very large government facility here in town that may or may not make high-tech weaponry, may or may not employ cell phone jamming systems in its vicinity and its old name may or may not rhyme with "Windex". There, apparently, all black employees can take today off (unpaid). But white employees can't. Which I thought was weird. I asked her, "But what if you embraced the ideas and beliefs of MLK?" and got your basic "Tough shit." I mean, hell. A day off -unpaid- I'd think you couldn't restrict who can or can't celebrate a holiday based on skin color. Maybe it's one of those unwritten rule things. All I know is that because there were no traffic po-lice out today, my commute was squished because people left their cars in areas that are normally tow zones, and I was most definitely NOT feeling the love for my fellow humans.

So, if you got the day off today, I hope it was enjoyable & filled with relaxation and hobbies!
posted by PlazaJen, 3:32 PM | link |

Friday, January 18, 2008


So, I got up at 3:40 a.m. today. And spent the next three hours making calls to Dublin, waiting for final approvals, finalizing payments and getting wire transfer information. It was a huge accomplishment, made all the bigger by the time difference & the very short window we had to get it all done.

I'm pleased, I'm happy, I left work early & went straight to bed. I only got a bit of a nap in, but I feel halfway lucid now, and I'm sure be at all-the-way by tomorrow. I hope we get to do more work in the future for our client, and I also hope we'll get to do it a little bit more in advance. :) Not that I didn't have fun hearing "Brilliant!" at 4:15 this morning, but email is a beautiful thing, "working" overnight and bringing answers by morning. I told the client it was magic! And of course you know what he thought of that word. Brilliant!

In knitting news, I started Jeanie from the latest Knitty, and was perturbed by the printing of the pattern - it left off the entire chart - did I already blog about this? I think I did. Anyway, I'm so glad it's the weekend! I hope that all of you have great, relaxing times. I appreciated all the props and support and nice things you said over the avatar bullshit, the whole thing was petty & stupid, and it was apparent that the individual responsible for criticizing me wasn't expecting to be accountable for her words TO me. So that was kind of funny, and also felt like righting a wrong. I remember being in her shoes once - I was in 5th grade, and Mrs. Polkow had called a classmate to the board - the very classmate on whom we'd managed to tape 20+ silly notes to his back. I remember that near-hysteria laughter of seeing him walking up to the front of the room, tiny pieces of notebook paper wafting in the air as he moved.... we didn't say anything cruel, the goal was more to see how many pieces we could get on him. But Mrs. Polkow saw the papers, did a double-take and stopped him, removing all the notes. After class, I was in the girl's restroom, and said to another girl, "Mean Mrs. Polkow, I can't believe she took all those notes off Tom's back." And from the stall bellowed the words, "And you better not do it again, either!!!" I remembered the horror I felt, of being confronted - even indirectly - because I knew on the most basic level that what we'd done was wrong. Of course, that's all part & parcel of what kids do to each other - the list of humiliations I suffered at the hands of my classmates still makes my blood run cold. But the idea is that ultimately? We outgrow such behavior. And when we see it, or have it done to us, we step in and say something, virtually bellowing from the stall, because we're not in 5th grade any more - and we're better than that.
posted by PlazaJen, 5:09 PM | link |

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Icons & Avatars & Ireland, Oh My!

Well, let me say thanks again on the icon suggestions. I'm still mulling.

Interestingly, or ironically, enough, I was alerted to a thread on Ravelry called "Creepy Avatars" and mine (which is the pink photo of me up there on the right) was called out by a woman who wrote: "I’ve only seen one avatar that really creeped me out. It is a depiction of a woman in sunglasses, on a pink background, and it looks like she is screaming. Why would one represent themselves that way? I am certain she/he is not that awful – knitters are great people!"

She didn't even bother to figure out that, uh, it's a picture of ME.

You callin' me ugly, bitch?

(Sorry, you can't hear me laughing. It's high-pitched and asthmatic, that's how funny it is to me.)

At first, I just came into the room and said, Yo, homes, I know what you're saying about me, it's ME, and it's who I am, and a few people even said that they liked my avatar. Well, I woke up this morning (and yes, James, I hear you singing the Sopranos theme from over here) and I read an email from Beth, about how unnecessary it is to have these conversations that border on mean-spiritedness, and I decided to address it. After all, I'd gotten up at 5:30, drove through snowy roads to get here to call Ireland media companies, and they were still all AT LUNCH. At 2 in the afternoon there.

(Don't worry, I'll come back to Ireland.)

Here's what I wrote:

Everything’s subjective…. and I guess that’s why I don’t draw my conclusions about a person from simply one tiny square on a screen. Must say, this thread seems like a springboard for “bash a Raveler” all based on one tiny piece of a person’s contribution and existence here at Ravelry. Without trying to fan flames, let me say this: I think it’s one thing to say “I don’t like solo body parts” or “Feet freak me out” or to discuss the whys and why-nots of using your face, child, pet, etc. - but to call out individual people for their avatars? - well, as one of those people, I’ll just say it feels a little high-school petty. But, that’s the internet for you. I tend to forget that even though we’re all knitters/crocheters and I expect a certain degree of commonality and assume a level of trust - we’re still all very diverse, and not everyone’s going to agree, or even be tactful or nice about what they say or put out there. So, if “creepy” it is for a few people, well, they’re ultimately the ones who are missing out - but I’m also not going to run and change my avatar or not let you know I’m aware of the pettiness. I’m almost 40. Too old for putting mean notes in lockers.

Personally, I like to amass a whole bunch of information before I determine someone is or isn’t to my “liking” and even then, there’s room for discourse, if that’s what you want. Of course, the fact that my avatar got nominated for “Funniest Avatar” on Ravelry (and even got more than one vote! though clearly not the winner, which is fine, I’m busy & acceptance speeches take so much time) reminds me that for me - just like in real life - for every person that dislikes me? There are ten more who actually really like me, enjoy me, and have taken the time to get to know me. Being judgmental is the easiest and hardest thing to do - it’s easy to leap to conclusions and make up your mind because then you have something concrete to believe - but I also say it’s hard, because you have to live within such narrow confines and limitations. And you miss out on a lot. Like, say, laughing with me. ;)

End of post. Bizzitchslap! Actually, that's a far cry from a slap in my book. It's much easier to read the message if you're not being brutal or mean, and that was my goal. Gently pointing out that there are people behind every single glowing screen. I wanted to throw in a "Judge not, lest you be judged" but I don't quote the Bible well, and it felt a little more heavy-handed than I wanted to end with.

The benefits of the internet far outweigh the drawbacks, this I do believe. It just stinks that people who would never dream of taking a crap in the middle of your living room have no problem doing it virtually. I really don't try to edit myself too much - virtually or online - and I save my explosive, most bombastic tirades for my closest friends and James. Lucky them!

So, Ireland? Yeah! We're buying some media there, and I've been straddling the time zone differential to get in touch with salespeople, in a really short amount of time. It's been fun, although challenging not to immediately adopt the accent while I'm on the phone. I love the over-use of the word "brilliant" - they like to say it the way we say "cool" or "good", and the big laugh of the day yesterday was when Kristin IM'd me that I should start shouting really loudly when I introduce myself as CALLING FROM THE UNITED STATES. Because you know, it's a long way away.

Take a look at the size of my mouth though. I could do it. Brilliantly!
posted by PlazaJen, 11:38 AM | link |

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


What a day! First off, you guys are great, and thank you for leaving your ideas about the icons. Of course I didn't give you all the parameters, like the fact I can't include colors, but I loved the ideas!!! I'm still mulling & I'll let you know where I wind up. Part of me is deeply drawn to the crown that Alice in Wonderland wore. (So even though I said "no crown", I can't quite shake it!)

Today has been nutso. Everything was start-stop, so one email I was working on took me over an hour to complete, and then the servers were crashing so my email crashed & I had to re-create half the email, and can I just say I NEED A DRINK?

I got thrown a completely left-field project this afternoon and normally I'd be all "FOUL" and "WHA? THE F?" But oddly enough, I surprised even myself & just swung. And hopefully, it'll be a base hit. Who knows?! I think it was a concrete, defined puzzle, that - despite the fact it involves international pricing and trying to talk to sales people who are 6 hours ahead of me - was at its core, a puzzle. God I love me the puzzles. Kristin turned me on to Scramble, on Facebook? And I'm frickin' addicted to the one-minute Scrambles. As many words as you can find in 60 seconds, and it's crazy! And a new game starts 15 seconds after the last one ends - it's like tiny shots of adrenaline. Of course, I didn't need any of it today because life has produced its own natural source of panic!

Anyway, I've been doing formulas and converting Euros and being reminded of how much easier the metric system is - good lord, why don't we just switch? Because when it says "based on cm" and then measurements are given in mm - it's no big deal to convert! It's like a simpleton's puzzle! (Not that the users of the metric system are simpletons. I do not need -oh- the ENTIRE WORLD mad at me!) It's just so much more direct. And dare I say it, universal. I think the only problem I'd have if we switched would be the Fahrenheit/Celsius thing. I'd be convinced at all times someone was lying about the heat.

Anyhoo, I knew I was stressed today when all I could think about was how I needed to go home & battle Tom Morello on Guitar Hero. I could even hear the chords in my head.

I'm a nutjob. But I :embrace: it. Oh well. We all know what I'll want to wear if I get named Queen of the Nutjobs....

posted by PlazaJen, 5:15 PM | link |

Monday, January 14, 2008

Audience Participation

Happy Monday!

I swear, I'm not trying to get a gajillion comments, BUT, I have a fun sort of thing going on with work, and I'm looking for additional ideas.

We are re-branding the company (the owners are finally getting their names involved!) And with all that, new stuff has to get done - logos, letterhead, business cards, signs, all that jazz. Well, the fun thing about our new business cards is that every person gets to pick their very own icon! And we've been instructed to pick an icon that is a graphic representation of YOU.

Of course, my first thought was a crown. But that feels a little... pedestrian. Yeah, I'm the head of my department, but I don't know that I want to be a queen. I've always opted more for the Czarina title, and I'm not sure they wear crowns. More like they wear capes with thick fur collars. Anyway. I realize most of you don't know me in a working capacity, but anyone who's read this blog for a short amount of time probably has a taste or flavor for who I am. And I'm interested to see what you think! (The only other icon that's jumped into my head is the megaphone.) I'm kind of steering away from knitting, but I won't rule it out. Kristin is leaning towards a sheep, so don't pick that.

Can't wait to see what you think! Thanks!
posted by PlazaJen, 11:19 AM | link |

Saturday, January 12, 2008


OK, so I was reading Erika's woodland mice adventures, and she had edited the post to add that maybe she should put a big automated owl on the back seat of the Honda, both to repel mice and what a conversation piece that would be!

It reminded me of when we bought the plastic owl (that does :not: turn its head or make noises) when we lived in the apartments of Widow Creek. James also brought in some crow calls. Because if you want to hunt crows, you have to call for 'em. You know. Didn't you? Me neither. One other thing I didn't know is that - much like lions and hyenas - crows and owls are mortal enemies in the animal kingdom.

Anyhoo, we had the plastic owl on the balcony because there were an abundance of pigeons, and they do what pigeons do best - shit everywhere - and we were trying to create a deterrent. But in addition to pigeons, Widow Creek (and much of Kansas City) has numerous flyways for crows, and piles of money have been spent down on the Plaza to relocate the birds, because of the mess they cause. SO! One spring evening, looking for entertainment, we popped the crow-calling tape in the stereo, opened the patio door, and sat back to watch what would happen.

It was like something out of a Hitchcock movie. I don't exactly remember what particular crow calls we were blasting (Yo HomeCrow, Your Momma So Stupid She Couldn't Be in an Aesop Fable if She Died?) but it involved Help! Owl! Crow! In! Trouble! noises, and within moments, there was one Extremely Pissed Off crow, perched across the parking lot on the building opposite ours. Then two, three, four more crows alit on the roof, all agitated as can be. We couldn't stop laughing. The crows couldn't identify where exactly the trouble sounds were coming from, and I don't know if they even connected with our plastic shell of an owl, but there they were, stomping all around, calling to each other, some flying off and circling to attempt to identify the source. We wondered if anyone else in the building was perhaps baffled, and/or getting alarmed by the gang of angry crows gathering.

I know Erika's tried NPR to get the mice out, but maybe she needs a tape of a predator. (I commented that I think the mice are muttering about world politics and shaking their little heads at the foolishness in the world. And probably complaining about the stale granola she's leaving to test the repellents...) Anyway, her situation prompted that funny memory & I thought I'd share. If only we'd had a tape that repelled evil old ladies who hallucinated noises and made their neighbors miserable. (Oh, yeah, it's called METALLICA.)
posted by PlazaJen, 9:57 PM | link |

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Doctor, Doctor, Gimme The News, I Got A Bag Here To Show All Of Yous!

Doctor's Bag

Wow. This was a fair amount of work, I have to say. So I'm going to pepper this post with pictures, dammit! This is the Doctor's Bag, from "Knit 2 Together: Patterns and Stories for Serious Knitting".

Side Shot

I finished the pieces for this bag.... last winter. (Very early '07.) And they sat patiently waiting for me to get the finishing done. Mostly I dreaded doing the lining. But then last summer, I got motivated and bought the purse handles, the bamboo rods, and the lining. And they also sat and waited, several months, until I finally carpe diemed the damn thing. I have spent most of my evenings this past week working on this - blocking on Saturday; Sunday was for cutting out the lining & doing the seaming, which then was finished on Monday. Tuesday was for binding in the rods and sewing the lining, and last night was attaching the lining, along with the interfaced piece to the bottom, and hand stitching it all into place.

The lining is an Asian-influenced satin brocade:
Closeup of Lining
It was a challenge to get the detail without a flash, and with the flash, because it's so shiny, it obscures some of the detail. I have marked the portion of fabric on the Flickr photo to show which part is the most representative. I ended up not putting pockets on the lengthwise pieces of the bags, but instead cut duplicate pieces of the end pieces, folded down one for each side, hemmed it, and sewed them both in to the lining. (In other words, the pockets are at either end of the bag, where the short knitted pieces are.)

The fabric base is a very rich, deep fuchsia:
Another View of Lining

Notes on the bag, overall: I used 3+ skeins of Mountain Colors "Twizzle", in a bright turquoise-blue (variegated). If you choose to use a yarn that has variegation? The herringbone pattern will be more muted. So keep that in mind if you want the pattern more pronounced. If I were doing it all over again, I probably would have chosen a solid, but I'm not doing it again, and I love the color so much it makes up for any detail obfuscation! My only quibble with the pattern was that in seaming, you pick up stitches all along the edges, for both pieces, and then do a three-needle bind-off - but the stitch count was smaller than the actual stitches used to create the piece, so I had to re-do the stitching several times to get the correct number of stitches and have them all evenly spaced. If you're going to make this bag, save yourself some of this headache and mark the pieces at the halfway point (or more) and divide the stitches accordingly. That way you don't get to the end only to discover you can only put three more stitches on and it looks wonky. And, I only used one layer of heavy-duty interfacing to stabilize the bottom - it might be worth using really sturdy cardboard or chipboard, or multiple layers of the interfacing to really attain that crisp, rigid bottom.

The sides do not naturally fold in for the satchel tote look. That is completely photo styling on my part. It looks more like the project and it looks way more tailored when you do it, but know that those sides don't do it normally. I think a really dedicated person could attach a purse frame inside the lining, or you could even do snaps, which I toyed with for about half a second, and then decided that it really didn't matter that much to me. You may decide it is, knowing this info!

All-in-all, I have to say that the time spent was worth it - the bag is very classy & classic looking, and will be a great knitting bag. I even have a sore thumb, because in hand-stitching the lining in last night, I stabbed myself at the base of my thumbnail, which is really not a good place to jab a needle, if you're truly interested in all the advice I have to offer on this project. I can assure you it hurts far more than say, a fingertip. We may get indignant here at Passion Knit, but we also love to help and share wisdom.

One more shot of the bag, for I do indeed love it!

Doctor's Bag


posted by PlazaJen, 12:11 PM | link |

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I do know my booze, even if I forget to drink it.

Find Ultrasound careers

Uh, yeah. I only stumbled on two questions, mostly because I was going too fast. I loved that the first clue for one drink featured the Big Lebowski!

The joke at our house is that we love to drink. Except we always are forgetting to drink the drinks. Sounds like a really bad New Year's resolution, eh? REMEMBER TO DRINK. Oh well, at least I know I could hold my own .... on a game show. Gin for $500, Alex!
posted by PlazaJen, 4:54 PM | link |

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mad as a Hatter and Lovin' Every Minute Of It, Nah, Nah, Nah-Nah.

So..... after yesterday's post, an observation was made at how readily I'll just consume .....drugs. Even the wrong ones. Ayah. Well, I'll admit, perhaps there is an undue influence of Alice in Wonderland from my childhood going on.... and really, my only explanation at this point is that the month of December really, really sucked. And when you're caught in the undertow, a lot of automatic piloting takes over. (As opposed to Britney Spears, who does not go into the undertow, but skips right past it to Bar Thyself In A Bathroom And Get Put In Restraints.) I'm excited I figured it out relatively quickly (the horrid cold masked it for a couple weeks), and I'll be back to my version of normal soon!

Speaking of bipolar-ness and crazy, the weather here? Is nuts. I guess it's snowing right now. Yesterday and the day before were near 60 degrees. Lemme tell you, as a gal who likes relative consistency and does not enjoy being told to be flexible, I would like the weather to be consistent with the season we are in. Currently, and I feel the need to state this since apparently nobody TOLD the weather, it is WINTER. This does not mean we need a season of ice, of drifts of snow (though I do miss snow to some extent...) But chilly weather is ok. Good even. Our grass is confused. My wardrobe is confused. I am confused. (Ok, maybe that's the ACE-inhibitors talking.)

Well, I'm off to eat lunch at that restaurant where, after dining there a year ago, my credit card was suddenly used to purchase ads in newspapers all around the country. (I see you out there. You think I don't learn!) The food is awesome, and I haven't been back there since The Incident. (Which, by the way, I did some sleuthing on, in an attempt to find the fuckers, but it didn't pan out. But I'd do it again, and now I have a friend who's a private investigator, so there. Thieves Be Warned!) However, no worries. I'll be paying with cash.

LEARNING. It's the watchword for 2008.

Oh, and I have finished knitting objects, but no pictures. The chevron scarf is DONE and being worn this minute. This is really a half-assed knitting blog, I must say. It's more about Cacophony Jen and Her Catastrophes and Carousing and Correcting Others. Oh, and Indignation. I still love the Indignation.


posted by PlazaJen, 10:56 AM | link |

Monday, January 07, 2008

Hey, Guess What?

No, not chicken butt.

But! I am still allergic to ACE-inhibitor drugs. Yeah! Guess who errantly refilled the exact Rx that jacked her up last year, and has been taking it for a month? Uh, yeah.

I was in a hurry to refill any outstanding prescriptions before our insurance changed (and prices went up.) And Aetna's website isn't the smartest - if you had a prescription that changed, no matter - they'll serve the number up to you to click on "refill"! I even thought, before I actually got sick, that the little cough I had was reminiscent of the fun times I'd had at the beginning of the year. Even went so far as to double-check brand names. Guess who had a bottle of generic and didn't put two and two together? (Have you figured out yet that all the answers to these questions point back to ME?! Yeah. I'm a friggin' dope.)

I've since changed the features on my refill options so it shows the name of the drug, not just a random stream of numbers. And this morning, I picked out the little red pills from my pill box, and dumped all the remaining pills into the coffee grounds in the trash. Yes, coffee grounds. (There's a website an' everything for doing this. Super hooky addictive drugs are to be flushed, apparently.) Not that I think we're going to get an insurgence of homeless people going through our trash this week, desperately seeking a water pill.

So, I'm so excited to sleep through the night again, and I've learned my lesson. The only person who can be trusted to pay attention to what drugs I should be taking is ME. (Not that I did a great job, as evidenced by this, but I think I also assumed that the Big Insurance Database somehow got rid of things you weren't supposed to take. Not true!)

In knitting news, I have assembled the Doctor's Bag, and now need to sew up the lining & stitch it in to said bag. Pics to come!!! (photo link is not my bag, but one posted on Amazon.)
posted by PlazaJen, 10:25 AM | link |

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Exchanges and Angels

I've not had great luck with swap exchanges. Back when the Ample Knitters list was churning strong, an offshoot started a spoiler exchange, that was knitting-related. I signed up, thinking it would be fun - the idea was to send something each month, I think it was for 3 or 4 months. So a relatively substantial commitment, but it didn't need to be expensive, just a small surprise in the mail, and I think it also culminated in a larger present as the last item. So I sent off my package and waited. And waited and waited and waited. My spoilee loved her stuff, and I may have even sent her a second package, but then after all my waiting, I pulled out. (And alerting the hostess to the situation.) After all, it's great to make another person happy, but the person who had me shouldn't be raking it in without paying it forward, right? I did get presents from people who knew me, personally, because they felt so bad for me - lovely and kind, really, and I was overwhelmed by that, but it still didn't let the person who had my name off the hook.

That was about three years ago, and I've watched other swaps come together - Kristin has done them, there's the huge Sockapalooza, - and while I've read all the successful posts for those people, I still felt the burn and hesitation. Plus, hey, let's face it. I'm a selfish sock knitter. Less so now, but at the time, I was all, "huh, no, I don't knit socks for very many people, let alone a stranger!" So when I spotted the International Scarf Exchange on HPNY's blog, I thought, there's one I could do. A scarf. I'm the queen of scarf knitting. I even chronicled my own drama knitting the scarf for my recipient, Rochelle. I had great fun putting everything together for her, because we had similar tastes in yarn and colors.

Sadly, the person who had my name - and wrote me several emails, all very animated and inquisitive - has stopped communicating. Because she was so involved before the mailing deadline, I can only imagine that something bad has happened, and I just wish she'd let me know what happened - anything is better than the silence, really. That's the one piece of advice I'd have, for swap participants, if something bad befalls you & you can't uphold your end of the swap, just TELL the people affected - it's so much better than what the imagination constructs. And the feeling of empty the silence brings. The ISE5 hostesses have a great angel system set up, and because of the amount of time that has passed, I have a new person knitting for me. And oh, the email I got this weekend was hilarious and adorable, because I think my angel is in Taiwan and using a translation program to email me: "I am newly assign for yours pal, I crossed period of time for you actually not to receive the scarf to feel indignant... " Oh, it's like we were matched in heaven. Indignant, indeed. A word I don't ordinarily think of, but it couldn't be more perfect, and I'm thinking about how fitting the IndignantKnitter moniker really is for me. She also picked up on my dislike of pastels ("the tints"?). Too cute.

So, I don't know - I haven't decided how I feel about swaps - ambivalent is probably the best word right now. You'd think my odds would vastly improve if I participated in one again - after all, the majority of people get their stuff. I just think of the other work-related "secret santa" or "secret cupid" things I've done, and one of those always leaps to mind - oy. The secret cupid that had me (years ago) did a pretty marginal job, and your brain always thinks, well, maybe it'll be a nice big present at the end, don't get.... indignant...... and then I got a three-inch resin bear eating honey from a pot for my final gift. Yeah. I did get a lot of laughs from friends over that one. Like, really, please. Tell me that in my personal style and how I decorate, I don't exude Resin Figurines as something I'd like to have.

Indignant, indeed.


posted by PlazaJen, 9:49 AM | link |

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Only Three Days, But It Felt Like Twelve....


What a week. You'd think I was the chief salt miner with a hunnert paper cuts or something, but chef-boy-ar-dee, this was the longest short week, ever.

I was so utterly drained by the end of the day today, I actually went out for a drink with co-workers.

I never go out for a drink.

I expect things will normalize a bit once we're all back in the swing of regular work weeks, and I even said how badly I need a routine, so this kvetching about my hard knock life should abate pretty soon.

Now I'm going to crash - I was God's little crabapple today, and I'd like to wake up ... different.... tomorrow. Maybe a pear, or a bowl of cherries. Happy, happy weekend. May the fruit be with you.


posted by PlazaJen, 12:20 AM | link |

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Trouble..... Oh Trouble Set Me Free.....

Whenever I think of a movie that personifies letting go of our deepest and darkest sadnesses, I think of Harold and Maude. So it isn't any surprise that the title of this blog sprang up as lines from a Cat Stevens song.

I caught myself today worrying. Worrying about a situation with a friend who likes to engage in a lot of passive-aggressive stuff, and how it hits all the buttons in me to freak out and worry worry worry. Those less involved might question the use of the word "friend", but I'm letting that slide by like a puck on the ice. I envy my husband, to some extent, because he just doesn't care. He has a very good buffer between himself and the world, and he even has really mean people in the duck world who say mean, shitty things about him, things that would keep me up at night, figuring out how to "win" the battle. I was never conditioned to have much of a buffer. I've got my own, it's got Teflon hammered on to it, and it looks a little rough for wear, but there are still things that slip by, and usually the more personal and painful, the easier they get through.

So I took my lunch break to write out what I do when I'm being sensible. It turns out, I ask myself about five questions, to help put the inner Worry to rest.

1. Is the time to worry about (this problem) right now?
2. What is the worst-case scenario?
3. Does this situation involve another person’s thoughts, feelings, actions?
4. How much “real estate” is this taking up in my brain right now?
5. What outcome do I really want?

Now, how to handle the answers to those questions! Using a more detached, realistic approach.
Thought Process Guide:
1. Is this happening now? If the time to handle a problem isn’t right now, then it isn’t time to worry. Worrying is the illusion that you can control the problem before it happens. But telling me not to worry is like telling a chicken to start speaking Esperanto. So, let’s just acknowledge that worrying is a part of who I am, and let’s work to minimize its impact on my life.

2. Worst-Case Scenario? I used to have a boss who dealt with my high, keening worry about mistakes by asking me three questions: “Did the agency lose money?” “Did the client lose money?” “Did anybody die?” There was only time I remembered the answer was “Yes,” to any of those questions (and it was another person’s error, costing the company $40k.) Nobody lost their job. Nobody died. A math professor used to tell me, “Five hundred years from now, none of this will matter.” Well, it’s important to keep perspective. But for the sake of giving this Worry Project due diligence, let’s just imagine the worst-case scenario, and 9 times out of 10, I bet nobody dies.

3. Is there another person involved? Once there’s another person in the picture, you automatically lose 50% of your ability to influence the situation. Sometimes more. You simply cannot control another person, no matter how hard you try. Let go of what you can’t control.

4. How much real estate to give it? Worry is like a furnace. It can be stoked, fired up, added to and fueled until it’s a blazing, consuming bonfire and our minds can’t think of anything else. Take an honest inventory of how much brain power you’re currently devoting to this worry. Is it worth your precious brain cells? Really? Can you at least cut the real estate in half, as a gift to yourself?

5. What's my ideal outcome? Inevitably, I want things to just be “ok”. To not have anyone mad at me, to not fail, to not have to fight, sometimes to win, to be right. Every single one of those wishes has a price, and it’s one I have to pay. Is it worth it? Especially if the time isn’t right now, if it involves another person, and it’s not benefiting me to keep ruminating on the subject.

My thought in this is that my inner Worry requires something. It doesn’t just go off and sit in a corner and wait very well. In fact, trying to ignore it only makes it more anxious, and it interrupts what I’m trying to focus on doing. To acknowledge I need a process, I’ve developed these five questions as a way to placate and calm the inner Worry. So much of what I want to do is “be prepared”, like I fear on some level I don’t have the self-confidence to handle a situation if I haven’t pre-loaded every scenario and run through it. Sure, it’s good to rehearse some things. It’s good to know how to defend your position and be prepared in many business situations. It even helps to run through things when you want to talk to someone about a personal issue, just so you sort out some of the emotionally charged verbiage and you can have your words heard more clearly. But I don’t need to borrow trouble. The day to worry about this isn’t today. I’ve had so much experience worrying, I need to remind myself that when that day comes? I’ll knock it out of the ballpark. I can worry with the best of the best. I’m platinum, or even AmEx Black when it comes to worry. So, Worry, you who sits inside just behind my ear and likes to whisper, we’ve walked through all this and it’s time to go be quiet. Just for today. If you’re still worried tomorrow, we’ll take five minutes and go through these questions again.

OK, since I'm being all 5-steppy and self-help-ey, I'm going to end with something positive. Going back to my beloved Harold & Maude, the movie ends with Harold playing the banjo on a mountainside, to the song "If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out". (I know, I know. I've totally inspired all 14 of you to put this in your Netflix queue, simply with the word "banjo".)

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
cause theres a million things to be
You know that there are

And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
cause theres a million ways to go
You know that there are

You can do what you want
The opportunity's on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
You see ah ah ah
Its easy ah ah ah
You only need to know

Well if you want to say yes, say yes
And if you want to say no, say no
cause theres a million ways to go
You know that there are

And if you want to be me, be me
And if you want to be you, be you
cause theres a million things to do
You know that there are


Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
cause theres a million things to be
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are

We do know it. We just need to remember it. Sing out. Be free. I'm putting Cat Stevens on my iTunes right this second.....
posted by PlazaJen, 12:51 PM | link |

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Reflex

What I'm going to write about isn't :that: serious. It isn't like Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, where a soldier comes home from war. Or even being in a serious accident. But I opened up one of my numerous marketing emails today (having deleted all the ones that arrived over the holidays, because seriously, I would not be able to get anything done if I just read the daily news.) And there, the first article in the summary email, was a little write up about how a former client of mine (at an old job) was relaunching their brand and their new spokesperson and blah blah blah blah, and ordinarily I read that stuff with some interest, maybe click through, whatevs, jobs and clients do ebb and flow, come and go, and while I try my darndest to come up with a revolutionary idea on all my accounts, sometimes you just part ways. Like people you dated in college. But this client? This client scarred me.

This was a piece of business that seemed fantastic and exciting and wonderful and it was quickly discovered to be a shiny thin veneer of 24k gold that belied an evil below the surface, a tar baby of a project, that required vast amounts of atypical work and unreasonable deadlines. This would be when I worked under the person who habitually disappeared for hours (or the rest of the day) and basically did as little work as possible while making life hell for everyone under her. So as I describe this, know that I was out there at the edge of the plank already, unsupported and alone.

The project involved trading trips for advertising. With very little cash, mostly trade. If you've ever worked on trade, you have already flinched a little yourself. But we're talking certificates beyond just "you can stay here for 4 nights". This involved airfare (they had their own airline service), and then free nights at one of several hotels/resorts. The value of each resort was different. The value of the airfare was different from each departing city. There were - oh god, I've blanked so much out - maybe 17 markets? And we entered into trade agreements with every cable system in each market, parsing out packages and flights and oh, did I mention they had expiration dates, too? and it was all in exchange for advertising time. And the client changed their needs, expectations, and mind every other day.

This project required multiple daily conversations with my national cable sales rep, Joe. Joe and I were the lone paddlers in this boat, because at this point, not only did nobody else want to touch it, nobody else could even do it, what with the elaborate spreadsheets and our Rain-Man-esque ability to calculate various configurations of resort stays and flights from all the different cities. Our friendship was seared and sealed in the blood, sweat and tears we shed working on this project. We found our own strange coping mechanisms - singing, using funny voices (he does a Gay Cuban like nobody's business). One of the markets was Miami, and when he would call about issues in that market, he was always starting out with the MY JAMMIES, We have to figure out MY JAMMIES, Chennifer. Oh god. It was just brutal. I altered a poster of the movie Waterboy to have his face on it and renamed the movie "BarterBoy" and it hung on his door for the rest of his tenure with that company.

So of course, when I found myself seeing my client's name in print, and caught myself reflexively wincing and moving my head sideways away from the screen?

I sent him the article immediately.

I wish we'd never had to go through that hell, but I know one thing for certain. He will be my friend until death. We were In Country together and we got out alive. I'm still blinking a little bit, just traveling down memory lane. But smiling, too, because we at least found a way to survive, together, and get some laughs in - because there was no other choice except to cry, and it all kind of fits with where I'm trying to put my head in 2008. To be happier. To be less sad. To manage the Very Large Pain that has stayed with me, to laugh more than cry. I'm not exactly sure how to do it yet? But I'm going to start with a phone call to my buddy Joe and schedule lunch.

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posted by PlazaJen, 4:31 PM | link |