Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Shortness

I'm off the rest of this week, making this already short work week even shorter. I've got tons of plans, though, so I'll be busy most every day except Friday--and Friday is going to be spent gardening, weeding, and imaging.

My mom came up on Sunday and helped out a ton with my container gardening. I've finally moved away from having all of my pots hold one variety, and it is going to look so good this summer. I picked up a half-dozen or so different annuals, mixing pinks, whites, purples, and yellows. I also picked up some peppers (ornamental and hot) and some cherry tomatoes--I'll be growing the vegetables on the deck. Finally, I filled my window boxes with cilantro, pineapple sage, chives, lemon balm, and basil. I managed to winter my lemon thyme, oregano, and lavender from last year (but I lost my rosemary...).

I'm slowly finishing up the Mom Socks (not for my mom, but for a mom...) and I'm at the point with the wedding sampler that if I would just sit down and devote an afternoon to stitching, I'd be done.

Coming soon: a picture-packed post.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

B

Biking
I have two bikes, one is a mountain bike, the other is a hybrid road bike (skinny tires, flat bars). I ride about 10 miles a day to get to and from work. I use my bike for just about everything, from running errands, to getting to friends' houses, from riding in Center City, to riding along the peaceful Wissahickon trail.

Blueberries
Blueberries are the perfect fruit. I used to work for a garden and nursery center and when our blueberry bushes came in, I'd keep watch until the fruit ripened. Sneaking a sweet snack was sometimes the only thing that kept me from going absolutely bat-shit in that job.

Bees
I have a thing for bees. Bee cross-stitch, bee buttons, bee colors, bee magnets, bees bumbling.

Beer
I can't drink beer. Actually, I can drink beer, I just can't drink it without risking sickness. If I want beer, I have to have special beer. But I never really developed a taste for beer preferring, instead, vodka.

Boys
I have admit, I do like boys. But, specifically, I like my boys--my husband and my cat.

Buttons
My mom has a tin of buttons and I always felt like there was something magical to the buttons. I loved dipping my hand into a bunch of buttons and letting them cascade off my fingers. I loved sorting through them, separating by color or size or design. I loved imagining what the buttons were from or where to buttons might end up. I love the extra buttons that come with dress shirts and coats and I hoarde them.

Bread
Of all the things I miss since going gluten-free, I miss bread the most. Yeah, I can find a substiture loaf and sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised that the sub-loaf isn't completely sub-par... But, mostly, gluten-free bread is nothing more than brittle cardboard. It's no good for sopping up soup, sauces, and the like. And, baking GF from scratch--well, there's reason my 18-slice loaf costs nearly $7--it's a pain in the ass to bake GF bread from scratch.

Beaches
Not the movie... Growing up in South Jersey, I was never far from the beach: I had the Delaware on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other side. I spent many a summer day cooling in the water. Also, and perhaps more importantly, my husband proposed to me on the beach... in March... during the sunrise...

Books
Took me long enough (#9), but here's the meat of my livelihood. I read a lot, I recommend a lot, and I have a lot of books. I majored in English for my undergraduate degree, so it's no surprise that I'm a fan of books. Recently, I've been contemplating going back for a second master's (my first is library science) in literature. But, the priority right now is to get through another year and someone else's graduation before I even pursue another degree.

Bedroom
Our bedroom is one of the next things we're going to work on: we've got to rewire the electrical and bring everything up to code, we've got to sheetrock a small portion of the wall (still left bare after we suffered a somewhat damaging leak along where our chimney meets the roof line, due largely to the collapse of our chimney liner which then allowed CO2 to seep into the wall cavity and cause some erosion to the bricks and the plaster and OH it was a mess...), and we're planning on revamping our existing closet space. My mom just did a closet makeover at her house and I'm truly impressed with the results. Oh, and all this work will mean we eventually have to repaint... And, with everything looking new and spiffy as far as the walls and closets go, I'll just have to consider new bedroom furniture. Because, really, you can only live the Ikea lifestyle for so long...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Jean-etic

Let's talk about the state of jeans these days, ok?

Let's say a girl, of curvy and short stature, wants to find a pair of straight-leg or bootcut jeans that has a plain finish. Doesn't that sound like an easy enough mission? I thought it would be and I quickly discovered I was wrong.

First stop in yesterday's shopping trip was Eddie Bauer. I love Eddie Bauer. Friends tell me that Eddie Baur reminds them of me. I love the basic style of Eddie Bauer clothes and I'm happy to say that I am no longer a Gap Girl (haven't been for some time). I have a pair of Eddie Bauer jeans in my closet--100% cotton, 100% too big at this point, despite the fact that I launder the jeans in hot water. So, I planned my trip to Eddie Bauer hoping to accomplish more than just returning a few items. I tried on the first pair of jeans and caught my belly fat in the zipper. I tried on the next pair of jeans and found that if I took a deep breath, my coin slot pooped out the waistband. Not attractive. I tried the third pair and they fit, sort of: they were only 8 inches too long (and, seriously, are there that many 6'1" women out that that every other pair of jeans I come across has an Amazonian inseam?) and gave me a slight camel toe. Ladies--we cannot have any toe going on! It's just sloppy.

So, I left Eddie Bauer without new pants (I did, however, get two new skirts, both in a size that I haven't worn probably in 10 years, and I got some cardigans--the wardrobe staple of the information professional...). I told my husband I'd like to try Old Navy for jeans, but before we stopped at that store, we popped into the Gap. And I have to wonder where the regular jeans have gone--every pair of jeans had a dirty wash or fraying holes at the knees or pockets worn out or missing. There were bleach spots and wrinkle lines and just everything that most people avoid doing to their jeans.

Now, I know this distressed look is all the rage, but have I aged so much that nothing at the Gap pleases me? And, even if I wanted shredded jeans, does America really need every shopper in a pair of jeans that fits too tight and reveals too much? I'm all for the hottest of the hot chicks to pour themselves into these ripped-up rip-offs, but people in my size (above a size eight and with some sagging and unfirm spots) should have the option of regular, non-holey, simple blue jeans. Or am I asking for too much?

Eventually, we made it across the way to the nearest Old Navy. Being a part of the same company as Gap, I wasn't as surprised to find the same sort of jeans on display. But, with some searching, I found a pair of plain-ish (there's a light weathered finish to them, but I'll deal) bootcut jeans that has just a smidge of stretch. The jeans even came in a shorter length and before I could stop myself, I snatched up a pair.

Now, I did try them on in the store, but you know how that is: cramped closet, store debris on the floor, chattering all over as your neighbors try on stuff and like, ohmygod, did you hear what Shannon did with Jake, and like, for real, I was so like pissed that she didn't even like think to call me, whatever. And, of course, the fluorescent lights, lest I forget. So, I did try on the jeans, I just didn't dilly-dally for fear of having my IQ deflate simply based on proximity to these girls.

I put on the new jeans this morning, and they feel great. I'm pulling them up, I'm going the length of the inseam, I'm admiring the not-too-booty bootcut legs, and then I'm tugging and not getting anywhere. I've hit a fork in the road, so to speak, and this is where the jeans stop. This fit just happens to be about an inch or so lower than I'd prefer. It's not that I don't want my belly button on display (actually, I don't want that, but since my shirts tend to be long enough, it's not a concern), it's that I don't want to squat, lean, raise my hands, bend over, or do anything other than lay there and think of England and risk exposing my frumpy plumber's crack to the world.

I don't want Mom Jeans, I don't want low-riders. I want something in-between. I want something that is blue, that hasn't been near acid, that only has holes for my legs, and doesn't require the use of an extra-long shoe horn or Vaseline or both to put on. Clearly I'm asking too much!!!

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I got a new camera and as soon as I make that sucker talk to the computer, there will be a photo update.

For now, I've got plans to spend part of the afternoon knitting, part of the afternoon cross-stitching, and eating a yuppie salad* for lunch.

*Yuppie salad means any salad that includes nuts, dried berries, and/or fancy cheese. My favorite yuppie salad is spinach, tomatoes, gorgonzola, pine nuts, dried cranberries, and cucumbers.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A is for ...

Arts and Crafts, and not the fun time we had at summer camp. Actually, I've never been to summer camp, and I sometimes feel like I missed out on a crucial part of early childhood development. Anyway, Arts and Crafts in terms of style, in terms of decorating, in terms of William Morris and the like. I spent a few years emerged in the Arts and Crafts movement: its contributors, its history, its residual effect.

Acute angles. No, really, me--a self-proclaimed hater of math and geometry--I like acute angles. I think, though, I just like the word "acute" more than anything else. I remember learning about acute angles way back in elementary/middle school. My teacher explained acute angles as being "a cute angle--you know, it's littler...", and here he'd pinch his thumb and forefinger together, as if he was crushing my head... It wasn't until a while later (about 6 years, actually) that I realized acute didn't necessarily mean "a cute" anything, but instead was meant to define a degree of severity. Take, for instance, when I was diagnosed with acute Hashimoto hypothyroidism. I just thought it meant I had "a cute" disorder. No, for real.

Atwood, as in Margaret. She's my favorite author.

Attic space. Our rowhouse is rare--at least for the immediate neighborhood. Whereas the other places have the flat, sloping roofs, we've got about a 3 foot wide crawl space the runs along the perimeter of our roof. This may not sound like much, but the space made it a wee bit easier to rewire our bathroom and our spare bedroom. It'll also make it easier to rewire our study and master bedroom, when the time comes. Unfortunately, that time will have to wait. The attic space gets stuffy, steamy hot in the dead of winter--if Mike crawls up there any time between now and November, he'll likely lose about 15 pounds in sweat before expiring forever. Funny fact: when we rewired the bathroom, Mike thought it would be wise to wire and light up the attic space. Now, this makes sense--it's a pain in the ass to carry a flashlight and trail an extension cord as you scuttle on your belly in what amounts to a space the size of a midget's MRI tunnel. But, I didn't quite share in Mike's joy as he stood at the subpanel, just underneath the attic space access hole and flicked the light switch off and on: "Lights!!! In the attic!!!" BUT when we had a contractor out to estimate the cost of installing central air, that guy had the same look of glee on his face when I showed him that we had lights in the attic. Now, I can only imagine what the neighbors think when they see a soft glow coming from under our eaves...

Apples, of course. I've long been a fan of the apple but from afar. I cannot neatly eat an apple without employing the use of a knife, and if you're going to slice your apple, you might as well spread some peanut butter on it, too. But, as I move further away from being a girly-girl and worrying about a little bit of apple-drool on my lunch hour, I've taken the apple back into my food fold. I've also found ways to incorporate the apple outside of a just being a healthy snack. I've made apple cranberry relish, I've roasted apple slices to use as a side dish, I've diced apples and tossed them into a spinach salad... Raw apples give salads just enough crunch while roasted apple slices make for a grown-up version of applesauce. The relish... well that's good on top of pork chops AND in oatmeal.

Andalusia. It's a fun word to say. It's a beautiful region of Spain that I'd love to visit one day. Like most girls, growing up I wanted a horse. But, I was pretty specific about what kind of horse. A pinto or a palamino wouldn't do. No, I wanted an Andalusian pony. I never got one, but I did finally get over that (about a year ago...). Finally, there's this, essentially in my backyard.

Atlantic Ocean. I've never lived more than two hours away from the Atlantic Ocean. I've spent months of summer vacation down the shore. I've flown over the vast grey sea, I've marveled at the expansiveness of the water and I've delighted in the small sucking sounds the sand makes around my feet as the waves roll in and out. I remember, vaguely, riding down to the shore with a friend of my mother's and playing all day in the surf and sand. I remember the first weekend trip Mike and I took to the shore (double A: Avalon!!!). I remember the early morning drive we took to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic on the morning he proposed. I remember spending 23 hours in Hatteras as Hurricane Bonnie came up the coast and made a beeline for the Cape, and I watched the ocean and was in awe of the water's power. Home, for me, will always be within a few miles of the Atlantic.

Attention--to detail. I mean, not that I don't mind a little attention on me, but when it comes down to it, Mike and I operate like this: he does most of the heavy duty stuff and I do the detail work. Now, occasionally we'll switch it up or double it up, but I tend to have the patience for the details and Mike... well, he tends to not.

Air conditioning, or central air... We've talked about having a high velocity system installed in our 1920s rowhouse for a few years. But, we're actually very close to having this happen. When we were first married and shopping for apartments, I was abolsutely firm on a place having central air. After all, how is one expected to live if one's thighs are sticking together because of the humidity? PREposterous! But, the charm of our house outweighed the prospect of hot summers and the necessity for air conditioning dissolved. It wasn't that we were trying out for the next Great American Hippie Idol or anything like that... It's just, well, look:


How can you say no to a house like that, even without AC?

And lastly, Australia. It's was the origin for Oceanic Air flight 815. Need I say more?

Monday, May 15, 2006

It's Spark-o-matic, gone Craft-o-matic.

I think I'm back.

I'm the blogger formerly known as Sparkomatic. I took a break from the world as we all knew it, and now I think it's time to jump back in.

I craft a lot: knitting, cross-stitching, embroidery, crocheting, scrap-booking, beading, and sewing, to name a few. I am also an avid DIYer, preferring to dirty my own hands than pay some man to do it. Usually...

I've been married for just about ten years and I have a cat that hates everyone, including me.

I don't have a car, but I still have four wheels--I bike lots of places, prefering my Giant hybrid to my Schwinn mountain. When I do get a car, it's going to be a sweet Karmann Ghia.

Life is good.

So... what's been happenin' these last few months? Well, a lot of knitting. I mean, a LOT. As in, I learned right before Thanksgiving 05 that Christmas might not happen unless I started knitting from stash. That's how much knitting. SO MUCH KNITTING for Christmas 05 that, in fact, I'm still not done with the knitting. But, let's face it, that knitting is now turning into Christmas 06 knitting. I know you all understand.

I've also be cross-stitching. I'm probably just a few days' worth of stitching away from finishing a wedding sampler for a dear friend. I need to take pictures!!!

And we've been house-working. The largest project, in terms of money, has been the windows. Aside from the purchase of the house, the check we wrote for the windows as the largest we've drafted. I still shudder at the thought of those 5 figures... The new windows were installed in January and we're just now getting to the touch-up painting. After we've touched up, we get to reinstall our window treatments. I will not know how to handle myself once I've got curtains in my bedroom.

Next up: I'm going to take it upon myself to do the alphabet meme that never got to me.