••• Sunday, June 27, 2004

Tiny font disclaimer: Ever so often I need to tell a story. I hope to birth a new blog this summer to keep these stories, but for now, they live here. The following tale is long (it just kept telling itself, despite my brief intentions)longer than I planned and contains no knit content. It's also in need of further editing. I'm working on it.

Tiny font preface: I had been working on a tiny series of posts about my experiences with organized religion, disorganized spirituality and God. (Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.) Eventually the task became a bit daunting. Albatrossic, even. So, for now I've decided to forget the thinking and just start telling stories, as the spirit moves.

The spirit moved.

Getting Cheeky for the Lord

After my father died (in February, 1970), my whittled down family numbly stumbled through the rest of that winter, clinging to what was familiar, and hiding from everything else. Come summer, however, the woolly cloaks were ripped away, and the three of us tumbled into the bright streets of summer, like a handful of dice.

That summer, mom made friends with Ginger, a woman who had recently moved in across the street. Mom spent many an evening on Ginger's stoop, tinkling Jim Beam and water in a Flintstone's jelly jar and talking 1970 lady stuff, like Dr. Reuben, Tom Jones and the cultural relevance of the "braless test" (a pencil, remember?).

One early evening, mom stopped the stooping to yell at my younger sister, Jaye. I don't remember what Jaye did, but it wasn't a big deal, until she got mouthy. Now, without bogging this story down beyond what bogging's yet to come, it was my belief, as a child, that my mom let my sister get away with everything. ::It's cliche, I know. But it's my cliche.:: So, Jaye mouths off to my mom (in front of half the neighborhood), undergoes verbal humiliation and is sent to her room.

After Jaye stomps off without further argument(too easy, perhaps?), Mom and company resume. Nearby, I silently gloat over my sister's nearly unprecedented incarceration. Suddenly, Ginger busts out laughing and points to the second story of our house. My mom lets out a yelp.

When I see what they're fussin' over, my heart skips a beat. For hanging out our second story bedroom window, shining bright for all the world to see, is my sister's bare ass. And had I not been in the prime of my rivalry years, I would have openly admired the sheer genius of the act. For it was The Perfect Protest; highly visible and unretractable. The ultimate "f-you", with no words required.

Mom quickly excuses herself from the klaatch and marches across the street. I follow behind, keeping quiet so I won't be sent back to the porch. As we approach our bedroom, I'm getting more excited with each step. Because Jaye has really done it this time and I believe I will soon witness her greatest comeuppance. There will be no way for my mom to mitigate this deed. That half the neighborhood witnessed the crime, means that Mom has some serious parent-face to save.

When we get upstairs, Jaye is fully dressed and standing in wide legged defiance (said stance was a Jaye trademark and made it impossible to knock her down. I know this first hand.). She is unafraid as she looks my mother in the eye. Mom tries to stare her down, to establish the proper chain of command, but Jaye isn't flinching. The silence, to me, is unnerving. And for a moment, I'm actually frightened for Jaye. But the moment passes.

My mom opens her mouth, but nothing comes. In the absence of anything real to savor, my brain quickly fills the void, by fantasizing through all the delicious possibilities: "Well, Lady Jane, I hope you didn't have any big plans this summer, because you're grounded indefinitely. Actually, you might appreciate being grounded, because tomorrow I'm shaving your head, then letting your sister draw pictures on it with a magic marker...And after your hair grows back, I'm putting you up for adoption..."

My mother's voice pulls me back to the immediate scene, but it doesn't sound like her voice, exactly. It is too soft and compassionate. Unusual for her, under any circumstance, let alone when she's about to mete out the most heinous justice, upon the most deserving person I know.

Then I hear mom say "You know, Jesus was watching you. Jesus saw your bare butt in the window. I think you need to sit up here for the rest of the night and think about that."

What? That's her punishment? Jesus saw your bare butt? Think about that? What the hell?

First of all, I don't ever remember my mother talking about Jesus, as though she personally knew His daily viewing habits. Not that we were heathen or anything. In fact, my parents were every-other-weekly attendees of Sunday service at an Undenominational (but fundamentally Baptist) church, conveniently located in our very neighborhood. And as kids, we were required to attend Sunday School every week.

But we only "attended" this church. We never became official members, on account of my parents being unable to commit to the contingencies of the constitution, which precluded dancing and card playing and theater houses and drinking and toiling on the Sabbath and otherwise independent thought. ::My parents chose public, unrepentant sinnin' over hypocrisy. I admire that.::

But Jesus didn't live at our house, like He did the homes of the real Christians from our church, the "members." We said the Lord's Prayer at Sunday dinner, memorized our weekly Bible verses, and never, ever took the Lord's name in vain. But neither did we talk about Him much.

That being said, my mother playing the Jesus Card in lieu of getting medieval on Jaye's bare ass, pushed me over the edge. And before I could stop myself, I said: "That's her punishment? To think about Jesus seeing her butt? If Jesus is the Son of God, He's seen Jaye's butt before. In fact, He's seen your butt, and my butt....He can look at all our butts any time He wants!"

I must have had subliminal awareness that, while all this was going on, my mother's last nerve had been laid to rest in a private ceremony, and that I had just, unwittingly, hammered the last tiny nail into that last nerve's coffin. Because suddenly, I was scared. A shaking-in-my-wet-fitted-hariache scared.

Jump ahead a split second: Mom spins on me with the speed of a viper and the spittle of the insane. Fortunately, I recognized the seriousness of the spin/spittle combo, and ducked aside before the slap landed. My mom quickly came to her senses and didn't raise her hand again. ::She was not typically a "hitter" but every once in awhile, usually in response to poorly timed insolence,(case in point) she'd reach out.::

She was still seething, though, and told me that she had never heard such disgusting blasphemy and was shocked at my filthy thoughts and disappointed in my poor judgment to actually speak them...blahsie blah....

The situation had gone from interesting to surreal in mere seconds, and I knew when to cut my losses. I also knew I could make no further sense of this crazy. By now, I only wanted to get away from Jaye's smirky gloat, and my mother's pout.

My mom closed the deal by announcing that Jaye was confined to our bedroom and I was to stay in the living room, for the rest of the night. While I still believed that Jaye had gotten away with the perfect crime, I also appreciated that, on some deep and twisted level, I had gotten away with something too.

So as I left Jaye to bake in our tiny, hot bedroom and headed to the cooler climes of the living room, where a cozy couch and my current read waited, I had only one thing to say.

"Thank You, Jesus."

••• Thursday, June 24, 2004

Incessant Beaching

Thanks everyone, for the Blogiversary wishes!

We're heading back to the Wild Blue Michigan Yonder, this time for a week's (plus) vacation. But I'll still be knitting and thinking and therefore, posting.

I've been working on a story and meant to have it posted by now. Somehow it has taken on a life of its own (i.e. loooong). Maybe tomorrow...Or as the Cakers says when asked if she wants to take a sit on the potty seat, "Not tomorrow." (nodding) "Next Week."

••• Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Happy Blogiversary!!

Thank you all, for the grandest year of giggles and grunts!

(And they said it wouldn't last)

••• Monday, June 21, 2004

Knittin' Like Hecka
On this pattern from Rebecca.

Last week I cleaned up my little knittin' corner and came across the Rebecca 24 magazine (which I bought this past spring, thinking I was buying current spring edition. I was so disgusted with myself, I tossed it aside with hardly a gander). The sweet thing in the picture looks so happy, I just had to have some of that. Said cleaning spree also produced some Brown Sheep Cotton Top (strawberry) which is a perfectly gauged match.

This pattern is knit in the round, which might explain why that woman is running with apparent rapture through a German Villa, wearing ill-matched colors and flipflops (I cropped the flops).

I'm really hoping to pare down my yarn stash a bit this summer. I'd also like to finish off some items from my fickle file (Victims of Caprice). While cleaning out my bins I came across pieces of my Must Have Cardie, which I must have forgotten about. It just needs a block and sew and ribbing all around.

Meme, Myself and
I would like to thank everybody for the book suggestions. I now have a jumping off point for vacation. Also, thanks to Jen for the mini-inservice on Meme (in comments last week) and related link .

I'm still in a travel fog from the weekend, so bear with. I was tempted to post pictures of my most recent lakefront endearments, but stopped myself. I figure it's going to be a long summer and I probably should have some variety in how I bore you to tears. Heck, there must be 50 ways to bore your readers.

Hello, I'm a Stupeaholic...
And it's been 10 years since I've held a reasonable thought in my head. For those of you privy to the latest on WhoozePissedfromtheKnit*List, you know what I'm talking about. For those of you who have no idea...I'll not shatter your peaceful reality.


••• Saturday, June 19, 2004

On the Dock-et
Important things
Need attention.
It's a Hardship
I'll survive.
And report
When able.
Don't hold breath.

••• Monday, June 14, 2004

Lady Chat Away's Livre
If you've come here for more enlightened insights on garter squares, you'll be disappointed. I'm thinking I won't be reaching my garter groove until square 26 or 27, so please be patient.

Kerstin and J Strizzy have both posted a MEME (what the hell is a MEME?) where you highlight books you've read from a list of literature classics.

I'm not going to post that MEME (anyone?) right now, but I am going to chat a bit about books. You see, I've been thinking about reading one. And it kind of scares me because....Hello, my name is Marcia and I'm a bookaholic. It's been one year since I read a book.

I'm not much of a social reader. You might notice that I never post about books. There's no book list on my sidebar. I don't belong to any read-alongs or book clubs. No, social reading is a litte too refined for me.

I'm your basic, hard core, compulsive, binge reader. And I prefer to read alone. Back in the glory days, I could start my day with a little read, and keep going until I passed out on the couch, in the wee hours of the morn.

I've sneaked reads in the basement while "doing" laundry. I've sneak-peeked a book in my desk drawer at work. I've pretended to read on the can, while nestled in a dry bathtub, amidst a pile of cushy towels. I've stayed up until 3am on a work night to finish a book. Of course I'd wake up with the dreaded harangueover(dark circles, headache, bloodshot eyes, odd twitch, faraway look) for which there is no releaf.

Like Kerstin, I can't limit my reading to a 15-20 minute bedtime wind down. I read with wild abandon. I live the lives, smell the smells and bruise the wounds of each story's characters.

When I'm reading,my domestic world goes to hell. Children starve, dogs fatten, wounds fester and husbands stray. If I can be compelled to put a book down (ex: bloodcurdling screams, outside of my head) I will continue to obsess think about the book's storyline/characters, as indicated by my vacant, detached affect, change in dialect and willingness to serve Pop-Tart nachos for dinner (Cheddar cheese on the apple/cinnamon? Not too shabby).

The first summer I was employed with the school district, I went a little nuts. After going through Barnes Enable's recommended summer read list, well before Summer Solstice, I was in a hurry for my next fix. Hmmm....Ann Rice? Naw, I'm not interested in that vampire crap. Well, okay, maybe just one. I read the Vampire Chronicles in under a week, and capped off said week with The Mayfair Witch series.

I can read the average size book in a day and some books I've read in a long afternoon (ex: The Reader, Bernard Schlink. Thumbs up, btw). If it takes me a week to finish a book, I probably don't like it much and will likely not finish it. The exceptions to that rule were Smilla's Sense of Snow, (Peter Hoag), Shogun (James Clavell) and The Far Pavillions (MM Kaye).

Reading Trivia about Yours Truly
First Hardcore Chapter Binge (7th grade):
From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, EL Konisburg

Books that made me laugh:
Turtle Moon-Alice Hoffman
The World According to Garp, John Irving
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Rebecca Wells

Books that made me cry: (a sampling)
Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier
The Dollmaker, Harriet Arnow
Beloved, Tony Morrison

Books that Made me Faint: (true story)
Hannibal, Thomas Harris

Favorite John Grisham Book:
The Painted House

Most Read-from Genre:
Gothic Romance. When I was in middle school I read every Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney book I could find. Penmarric by Susan Howatch was a goody too.

Books That Made Me Want to Get it on With a Female Lizard
West of Eden, Harry Harrison

Books that Made Me Say "Tak-a-lak" and "Candy-lak" for an Entire Summer:
Desperation, Stephen King

Books that Fell Short of the Hype:
The Man who Ate the 747, Ben Sherwood
Plainsong, Kent Haruf
Here on Earth, Alice Hoffman

* Some All Time Favorites: (no specific order and just a sampling)
Bellefleur, Joyce Carol Oates
The Dollmaker, Harriet Arnow
The Temple of My Familiar, Alice Walker
Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Shell Seekers, Rosamond Pilcher
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
Beloved, Toni Morrison

*Truthfully, I can't remember many of the books I've read. I've actually bought books I'd already read and forgotten, until I started reading it again.

There you have it. My literary world is now an open book.

With a week at the lake coming up, I'm looking to venture once more into the pages of a summer fantasy. Any suggestions? (I promise, I'll read responsibly.)


••• Saturday, June 12, 2004

A Bubble Shy of Plumb?

Or Gnasher of the Gnebulous?

While a silly lab pup was running amuck with an equally silly slab of knit, Cheddar the Chosen was ridding the universe of the insidious Evil Orb. All Hail The Great Cheese!

Gnitting Gnus
Not much to report on the knitting front. If you’ll recall, I’m devoting this week’s knitting time to my husband’s garter square afghan. As I started this week of torment devotion, I was 22 squares from my goal. So far this week, I've completed four more squares, which means I have just 22 squares to go.

What math is this, you ask?

Well, earlier this week I decided I didn't like the tone of the off-white in the afghan's color scheme. It was too orangey. Too loud. And it exhibited an irrepressible need to be the center of attention, while refusing to get along with the two key players. After the four completed squares repeatedly ignored my warnings to tone it down, they were sent to their respective dooms on The Isle of Labrador.

Once the problem children were disposed of, I headed to the local yarn shop to check out the offerings. After a fitful, footslog through the aisled fibers, I found the perfect replacement. A nice, neat neutral who knows its place. A quietly sweet, varigated vanilla. In fact, this color is so bleakly meek, it shuns all publicity and refuses to be photographed.

So, stay tuned for more exciting tales on garter squares. Did you know there is more than one way to knit a garter square? Stay tuned....you won't be disappointed.

••• Thursday, June 10, 2004

Wind Chillin'
Wednesday at 1:00 pm, we left Grand Rapids stewing in its hot and humid juices. As we moved north, our car thermometer indicated slowly declining temperatures, but nothing to raise concern. 15 miles from the cottage, it was still 70 degrees outside. But as we turned onto the cottage trail, the reading was 59 degrees. From inside the cottage, the view looked something like this:

Being Michigan born and bred (shouldn't that be bred and born?) we know to expect nothing but the unexpected when it comes to weather. So what does one do in Northern Michigan, in June, in the shivery rain? Why, one goes to the canoe livery for ice cream.

Here's my favorite licker, lookin' slicker:

This was posted at the livery souvenir shop:

My first thought was that word of Ana's intemperate nature had preceded her arrival to these northern parts. Interestingly, my husband and I have identified one of her favorite tantrumic wails as The Wildcat . I showed my husband this sign and shared my interpretation. He patiently explained that the sign is intended to keep children safe from the animals and not the other way around. He then suggested that I may be a bit high strung from recent stresses and thought that an evening of rum and diet coke was in order.

This morning the weather was still crappy but it cleared up later in the day so Ana and Daddy and Cheddar enjoyed some beach time. Well, by "cleared up" I mean it stopped raining and the temperature almost broke 68 degrees.

So, what was I doing while the rest of the family giggled and wiggled on the beautiful shore? I knit the garter stitch. Over and over and over. In fact, I finished yet another garter square while watching the fam splash and play. Shortly after binding off, I ran into the cottage for something, and out the front window I see this:

That's a neighbor's pup with garter square #14 in his mouth.

Soon after, I tried to reason with my husband that perhaps the puppy drool was a sign that the garter stitch afghan was not meant to be. He wasn't too square with that idea.

I'm gonna try to do a little jogging before nightfall. More tomorrow....

Disclaimer: This post was not thoroughly proofed.

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••• Monday, June 07, 2004

BitchMom ScreamPants
Well hi there. Any guesses on how my summer break has been going so far?

First of all, I'm not technically on summer break yet because I didn't get all my work done on Friday. This was mostly due to forces beyond my control. What was in my control, however, was knowing better. I should have known better than to believe that summer break was just a little just a roll down a hill. Well, it was a roll down hill...Friday afternoon, a pile of turds rolled downhill, right into my office.

Second, my husband is still using my computer for a job, so I've been on computer restriction for days, except for a few minutes here and there. I do hope to resume my normal blogcast schedule, any day. Really.

I was thinking about trying that audioblog deal, (where you post a voice message from a phone instead of writing text. Requires no computer) but I can't remember my blogger password to sign up for it. Besides, it's supposed to be as simple as leaving a voicemail message. I'm terrible at leaving voicemail messages. Plus, I mumble. Plus, I have a really sexy voice and I worry I might attract some creeps with mumbly, sexy voice fetishes. Okay, I made that sexy voice part up. But I do mumble.

I don't have long here, again. The Cakers just finished a 20 minute screaming jag, then fell asleep. She'll wake up soon and demand to be taken outside, her promised reward for taking a "quiet time." Honestly, I had no expectation that she'd actually stay on the couch, let alone sleep. I figured I'd have to enforce 10 minutes of couch-bound wiggles and whine before caving in with the reward. Is it August yet?

Amidst the Tirade du Cakers, I realized that the pain of being in a room with a screaming toddler is much like surviving the agony of terrible menstrual cramps (I had 'em bad in high school, 8 hours in the bed, praying for the good Lord to take me). Eventually you realize you can't fight it or reason with it, and it's best just to go with it. Let the pain wash over you, like a gentle tsunami.

Can you tell I'm, like, hyper typing? I have so much to say...and no time! Tomorrow I have to go back to my office and finish cleaning/filing. I really don't mind having to go back one more day. With no time restrictions or interruptions, I actually kind of enjoy this kind of housekeeping. I could wait until fall to do this, but I'd rather sort and organize while the "cases" are still fresh in my wilted mind.

Knuttin' But Knit
I finished my mother-in-law's Porch Around Wrap and hope to have a picture to share, soon. My husband is really anxious for me to finish his garter square afghan (just in time for the swelter of summer) so I promised I'd knit nothing but garter (what could be harder?) for this entire week. So far, I've finished three squares in two days. I have about 20 to go. Yuck.

Wednesday we're going to the cottage for a couple of days. Just in time for the 90 degree humidity. I hope to post some shots from the new northern 'hood. I might even rock your world with an update on how I'm getting square with garter.

Gotta run. I'll be back.

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••• Thursday, June 03, 2004

So Close...
...I can almost taste it.

Tomorrow ends another school year. As year-ends go, this one was flatout wack until 2:00 today. ::I wish I could share more on the things I see and hear, day to day, cause it's some interesting chit:: I only have some forms and filing left to do, then maybe some dusting, or maybe not.

Thanks for your kind thoughts and prayers for my co-worker and her family. I should reiterate that she wasn't a close friend, but certainly could have been, given the right situation. The long holiday weekend was a good friend to a grieving community and the crisis team. The teachers and principals were able to handle things without much outside help, which is best, when possible.

I can't stay long. My husband's computer crashed and he's commandeering my new laptop. Bastard. Besides, I feel like my brain been rode hard and hung up wet.

And speaking of wet, at 1:00 this afternoon I had to run a very stressful, complicated meeting (with two of my bosses in attendance). So what was I doing at noon? Chugging a 24 ounce bottle of water. Must of been nerves. After the meeting, en route to the jon, I had to stop in the middle of the stairway to offer a prayer to the patron saint of dry stairway ascension. ::I thought it was St. Patrick, but now I'm second thinking that one: Anyway, I learned a valuable lesson through the ordeal. Drink the water, pee the price.

Pssst...Amy! Don't we have Anniblogiversaries coming up? I think we should celebrate with a girls weekend up at the lake.