That Darn Orca (Starring Hayley Mills)

25 05 2011

That’s a lie. Hayley Mills has absolutely nothing to do with this. But I do remember her on Saved By the Bell before it was called Saved by the Bell (it was called Good Morning, Miss Bliss). And that also has nothing to do with anything.

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams

(I will only stop quoting Douglas Adams when he stops being so damn relevant.)

Last year I was making all those cute amigurumi animals, remember? They were fun and easy and quick to knit. So when I saw that Knit Picks was selling the pattern for an orca I coveted it at once. I posted the link on Facebook and the next thing I knew Bethany had commissioned me to make it for Annalie. This was back in August I think.

Deadline #1: Bethany’s Baby Shower
I wasn’t ready with her actual baby shower gift yet so I thought a fantastic placeholder would be the orca with an IOU note.


Happy Thing: FINISHED Orca (Swimming Amongst the Books)

As it turns out the orca involved a few things I’d never done before. I had to learn a crochet cast-on (and later how to pick up those stitches and knit in the opposite direction) and the whole thing surprised me by being done in intarsia. Probably in the future I will read patterns more clearly before I go proclaiming how I want to knit them. (Read patterns clearly? No I won’t. Why lie?) But no big deal, because I can learn stuff and I should learn stuff and I enjoy learning stuff. So it’s all good, just a surprise. However. I’m a sporadic knitter at best, and when there is thinking to be done I find myself not only putting off projects more than usual, but also finding it more difficult to find time to do the knitting requiring the thinking. My usual knitting is done in front of the TV or chatting with friends. I can’t multi-task. I am physically incapable of it. So Knitting With Thinking requires my full attention. Which makes it even more sporadic.

Deadline #2: Christmas
Bethany said, “No problem! I’ll just give it to Annalie for Christmas!”


the orca waves to you

After I got well into the body of the orca, I noticed the number of white stitches was off. The total number of stitches I had on the needles were right, but the number of white ones was wrong. I was confused. I puzzled over that for days. Weeks, maybe. I even took the pattern to my friend Karen who is Expert at All Things Fiber and she and I puzzled over that pattern for a full half hour before we figured out what I’d done wrong. Before this I’d never knit from a chart before and I decidedly do not like it, but I cannot tell if this problem was caused by me being inexperienced or if the chart itself is just really stupid. Anyway, after some frogging I was back on track and knitted away. By the time I got to the end of the chart, though, it was clearly Very, Very Stupid as it made some stitches magically disappear without any warning. I decided at that point it was best to ignore the chart and make up my own rules. It seems to have worked out well for the orca. And my sanity.

Deadline #3: Annalie’s Birthday
Bethany said, “No problem! We’ll just give it to Annalie for her birthday!”


fins in the RIGHT place

And then, when I was still possibly on timeish maybe, and certainly only two steps away from being finished, I sewed the pectoral fins on exactly where the pattern told me to, took a step back and looked at it and wondered why on Earth the fins were on the bottom of the damn orca. At which point my brain exploded all over the place. By this time I was certain that there must be reviews online about how this pattern is wrong and wrong and also wrong, but I didn’t find anything. In fact, when I looked it up on Ravelry, I saw that every single person had the fins sewn onto the bottom of the orca. I cannot figure out what to make of this. It is clearly not right. It looks strange and doesn’t begin to match the picture on the pattern itself. And yet I am the only one to have noticed? Or am I just the only one to speak up? It’s like I fell into Bizarro World only I haven’t yet met Me-With-a-Mustache (that’s how you can tell which one is the evil version of you).

Despite needing a few days to recover from that I probably would have made it on time but then Matt Lauer screwed everything up.

And so. I fail at deadlines. And, Bethany, I am so, so sorry.

But! I ROCK at orcas! Look how awesome he is. Very, very awesome.

handy travel-size orca

And poor Bethany has told me she feels awkward for putting me in the place of having to struggle with this project (meanwhile I feel awkward not doing it faster or better since she commissioned the project) but it’s really like how your little sister drives you nuts and you complain about her all the time and you love to complain about her all the time, but you still love her to pieces not so far underneath all the complaining? I mean. I don’t have a sister, but I assume that’s how it is. Anyway, that’s how it is with this orca. I don’t regret him one bit. All the confusion and stress I felt while making him makes me even prouder that I finally finished him (*cough*three deadlines later*cough*).

And my orca? He’s the one with the fins in the right place.

So thank you, Bethany – I honestly mean it! Now all I have to do is not procrastinate getting him in the mail. Let’s say by Annalie’s next birthday?


Star Tours and Disneyland

21 05 2011

I have so much to blog about.  Things like my youngest child’s sixth birthday.  But I also have priorities and so at this moment I’ll blog about Disneyland.  My youngest child can wait.

Summer is like a Raffle Goddess this year – she just keeps winning and winning (KNOCK WOOD). Most recently she won tickets to see the grand-reopening of Star Tours at Disneyland. The chance to be one of the first people in the world to get to ride after it was refurbished and updated: AWESOME. Originally when she told me about this, I told her she should opt for someone who, you know, doesn’t cry on roller coasters so she could have more fun, but in the end she asked me anyway and who am I to say no to that? And Matt Lauer should know I NEEDED this day at Disneyland. Of course it required me to ditch pretty much everyone important to me – my kids, the Camp Fire meeting I was supposed to be leading (and, uh, the other leader was out of town. *cough*). So while I felt guilty (and while I tried very hard not to allow myself the guilt) I also knew that I’ve never before ditched any of these people for anything trivial like this and I won’t be doing it again (often?), so I just went for it.

And “going for it” meant waking up at 4am.

line for star tours

I used to love going to watch movies the night they opened. I was the one happy to wait in line for hours if I needed to, to get a good seat (or a seat at all). More movie theatres showing the same movie on more screens waters the experience down so I haven’t had such an incredible experience in a long time now, but this morning at Disneyland reminded me of all the reasons I used to be happy to wait in line just to watch a movie’s first showing.

empty disneyland

The crowd was like a mini-Comic Con. There were costumes and geekery and camaraderie. Everyone there was your friend because they knew they shared an interest with you and that you were all interested enough to wake up at 4am, drive for an hour and a half in the dark and wait in line for hours just to have the experience. Once we finally got on the ride everyone in the car with you cheered and booed and laughed and screamed together. And that – THAT – is why I woke up at 4am. The experience is fantastic on its own, but when shared with a crowd like that it’s once-in-a-lifetime awesomeness.

And, as always when Disney changes or updates a ride, we were all nervous as to if it would survive or if they’d screw it up. And, in Disney’s track record, the screwing up often comes with the awesomeness. So we didn’t know what to think about how this would turn out.

But we needn’t have worried (in this case) because it turned out AWESOME. It was better, even. They paid homage to the original ride and it’s cheesiness in graceful ways, and they removed the dated look in ways which I feel will help the ride stay current in the future as well. They utilized today’s technology elegantly and stuck mainly to the original three movies (although someone did tell me you can find Jar Jar Binks in carbonite somewhere in the ride if you look for it). There are several different versions of the ride, each stopping at a different planet in the Star Wars Universe. We stopped at Kashyyyk, although the ride called it “The Wookiee Planet”. (Full disclosure, I had to come home and look up the spelling of Kashyyyk.)

flight times

The ride also utilizes 3D (as the guys in line in front of us said, “Not only do we have to clamp on with our butts but we also have to keep 3D glasses on?”) and if you now me at all, you’ll know I HATE 3D. Despise. Abhor. Detest. To put it mildly. I will put up with it grudgingly for short periods of time and I will complain about being forced into 3D every time. But not this time. This time was AWESOME. Seriously. I can’t express to you how surprised I was to not only tolerate the effect but to also enjoy it. LOVE it, even. It was seamless and headache-free (although that may have been due to the shortness of the time I had to wear the glasses). I know today’s 3D is better than that of, say Captain EO (which I also saw for the first time ever yesterday, and who’s 3D I detested), but even today’s 3D I find generally looks unlcean and cheesy at best. But the 3D in Star Tours was just fantastic. Perfect.

Happy thing: Bonnie and I, with our super cool 3-D glasses!
Photo by Summer. Actually maybe photo by me. But it was Summer’s camera either way.

The only bad thing I had to say about the ride was that it was too short. I could have enjoyed a couple more minutes at least.

Anyway, after that we enjoyed the rest of the park, too. I had no kids with me so I got to enjoy the bits I never get to enjoy like The Haunted Mansion and Indy. Summer got to have Dole Whip and sing along in the Tiki Room which is something she doesn’t get to do very often. We had coffee and churros (I had a bite, anyway – shh, don’t tell my body about the gluten, ok?). And we survived the day with enough energy intact to drive home safely and happily despite the too-early wake up call.

I feel so refreshed now. The last weeks have seriously kicked my ass and while my life itself is happy, my body and mind were wearying to the point that I didn’t even notice it until I was at the happiest place on earth recharging myself.

I’ve already thanked Summer a million times but here’s once more. And thanks to the people I ditched for understanding. And thanks to The Universe for knowing what I needed even more than I did and for making sure it happened.

Clicky here for the rest of the photos.


19 05 2011

My favorite Douglas Adams book is Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (in which, by the way, it turns out that one of the characters is totally a Time Lord who totally has a TARDIS, albeit not in the form of a Police Box). I love the book not for it’s dysfunctional Electric Monk, not for the impossible couch, not for the horse that randomly appears in an apartment, and not for the cheesy time travel party tricks (although I do love it for all those things), but for the math. In the book they discuss how math is found in absolutely everything in nature, from the way a leaf flutters in the breeze to the way a mountain rises from gentle rolling hills to majestic rocky peaks. The book discusses the idea that if you apply the math of these natural phenomenon you can create beautiful music. Adams often spoke of his love of Bach’s music and the book is clearly partially inspired by that. And I knew as soon as I read it all those years ago that it’s true. Nature is math is music is art. All the art that ever is or was or will be is already all around us, just waiting to be interpreted and transcribed by artists into something we can all understand through our senses as art.

In the writing I’ve done this year for BlogHer I’ve felt this. It’s a connection. I struggle and struggle with a piece, putting it down and coming back to it, unhappy with it and knowing it’s not right. And then suddenly something unlocks and it comes pouring out, almost without willing it to. I become less of a writer and more of a tool to transcribe the writing.

This is not to say I consider myself anywhere near the same level as Bach or the great artists of the world – I like my writing but I have a long way to go before I ever reach that point, if I am even destined to. And I am probably not and honestly I’d rather it be that way. But I’ve had a small taste of it, of that muse connection.  I can understand that which I have believed must be true on a deeper level now.  And it feels beautiful.

This is also not to say that all music is art.  I love Baby Got Back, but I don’t think Sir Mix-a-Lot pulled that directly from The Universe.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I’ve never worked at it as hard as I have before this year. The fact that a piece has to be finished by a certain date forces me to focus until the click happens.  Without that external push, I may not have found the patience – I may not have known to look for the patience – to stick with something through the block.  And so I’m glad The Universe has given me this gift of a deeper understanding of writing and art and how it’s not just for the greatest artists of the world, but how we can all choose to be True Artists by connecting ourselves to the ether of math and music and transcribing it for humanity.  I don’t want to be a Great Artist, I’m just happy to have had that connection with The Universe. It feeds my soul.

Area 51

18 05 2011

If I thought my eight-year-old self was scared of the Unsolved Mysteries episode that focused on Roswell, that was only because I had never considered the alternative. I don’t know that I believe either story, frankly, but I do know one thing: I will never sleep again.

And then Saturday Happened

14 05 2011

I woke up this morning way too early, had some breakfast, got in the car, drove away. And noticed a light blinking at me: BRAKE.

Awwwwww, c’mon Universe! WTF?

And then I threw a spiritual and emotional tantrum.

When I was younger, I had mad overreacting skillz. The first time my car battery died, I naturally assumed I needed a new car. And there was much panicking and wailing. Life lessons and Alex’s reaction to my overreaction have taught me through the years to not panic. Seriously, I did not learn this from Douglas Adams because my brain is too thick. It had to be beaten into me. (To be clear, I mean metaphorically beaten into me. No one ever actually beat me.)

And today I did not panic. I know better now. But I did tantrum like hell.

I wrote this to Claire this morning:
Can you please tell The Universe to stop trying to teach me shit?

I had to learn how to check my brake fluid today. I don’t want to do that shit ever. I want someone to take care of me and do the hard stuff. I’m not even willing to be proud of me for this b/c DUH of COURSE I can check and add brake fluid myself. I’m smart enough and competent enough and independent enough. I JUST DON’T WANT TO. And I will fight the Universe all the way down about this. Apparently.


And quite frankly, The Universe is sending mixed messages, anyway. Am I supposed to learn to be independent or to reply on my friends? *stomps foot*

/tantrum again

Funnily enough, I had this photo planned for a Happy Thing earlier this week:
Happy Thing: Conquering Computers

Computers, like cars, are Hard Things for me. I look at them and my eyes roll into the back of my head. It doesn’t mean that they are hard, it just means I shut my brain off when the subject comes up. Like sticking your fingers in your ears and singing at the top of your lungs. It means that their mere existence is Hard. As long as they work well, me and cars and computers get along super great. But when they need fixing or upgrading, I shut down and start dreaming of Cave Man Days.

Even so, earlier this week I had to do some simple computering. All it involved was moving some plugs around and plugging a new external drive in but it was Hard to want to think about considering doing it. And I did it. And I was proud of me.

So why am I not having the same reaction today to the brakes? Well, firstly, because I’m not sure the brakes are all better now. I’d still like to have the pads checked before I give myself a gold star. But I’m pretty sure the big reason is that I ALREADY LEARNED SOMETHING THIS WEEK. DONE. LEARNING. NO MORE LEARNING THIS WEEK. Also? Remember the tired? And the menstruating? See? ALL DONE. NO MORE. FINISHED. END OF STORY.

It’s late afternoon now and I’ve calmed down, but I can feel the tantrum RIGHT THERE ready to go again if The Universe decides I need any more lessons any time soon. Universe, what I need at the moment is a damn vacation.

And a coconut mocha.

this is why i am tired

13 05 2011

Last week:
Tuesday, 5:30PM~ Someone FROM THE FREAKING TODAY SHOW called me and asked me to FLY TO NEW YORK the following Thursday TO BE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION. LIVE. ZOMGWTFPOLARBEAR!!1!!! *dies and is ded*
Tuesday, 8:30PM~ (These Today Show people keep crazy hours) I get an email asking if I can come sooner so I can film a spot in addition to the live show.
Wednesday, some point in the day which I have now forgotten~ I’m told I won’t be flying there after all, rather they’ll BE COMING TO MY HOUSE TO FILM ME HERE AND PUT MY LIVING ROOM ON NATIONAL TV. OMGWTF! *faints* (Slightly lesser response there, see?)
Wednesday, all day~ I run around scrubbing the house and kids, spending my last $20 on a haircut, driving the kids to their various appointments normal to Wednesdays, hunting down moms who want to participate in the story and who meet the requirements of the Today Show staff, finishing up some loose ends requested by the Today Show, talking to my web host about making sure the servers can handle all the traffic, and generally stressing out a little bit.
Thursday, two hours before news crews arrive~ I get a call saying no one is coming. *sigh* *dies. and is ded* The foreign news was too much that week to have room for a story on mama-bellies. Which made sense. I had wondered why they’d picked the week Osama Bin Laden was killed to invite me to New York. But it was also Mother’s Day so I thought that might have something to do with it.
Friday~ Recover.
Saturday~ Clean off the entire patio.
Sunday~ Be in pain from Saturday. Also celebrate Mother’s Day.
Monday~ Attempt to get back to regularly scheduled programming.  Fail. Look over the paperwork that needs to be done this month and turned into the county office. I haven’t mentioned this here yet, but we’re on food stamps. SPOILER ALERT! I’ve been meaning to blog about it but just haven’t found the time. Refer back to this entry for an example of why. Anyway. Discover the paperwork was actually due last week while I was not in New York. Do the math and realize I had exactly two days to get it completed and mailed and received since it arrived over a week after it was dated. The government is full of lying liars who lie. Call the office to see what can be done. Don’t get through. Spend ALL DAY LONG trying to get through. Feel foggy. Feel bitchy. Not all of this is from having to deal with the government. Part of it is a major case of PMS.
Wednesday~ FINALLY GET THROUGH!! And remain on hold for one hour and forty minutes. No shit. ONE HOUR AND FORTY MINUTES. Finally give up because Elliott needs to be at an appointment. Feel menstrual. Very, very menstrual. ETA: Oh shit I forgot the bit about how my bank called me at 8am to ask me if I’d spent $6,000 that morning on clothes and how, no, they didn’t think so but wanted to double check and how they’d cancel my debit card and how I’ll get a new one sometime before the world ends. *sigh*  And so now I am partying like it’s 1999 and writing checks for everything. Yes.  I am that person in line.  Blame the criminals.
Thursday~ Call again, speak to an operator, explain my case, get put on hold FOR FORTY MINUTES MORE. Get hung up on. Menstruate more. (Sorry, male readers.)
Friday~ OH GLORY BE. Friday the 13th is here to make up for my Week o’ Thursdays. I not only get through and don’t even get put on hold, but I get my problem solved (turns out I actually had until Thursday and would have known that HAD I BEEN ABLE TO GET THROUGH) and spend exactly zero minutes in the office waiting for the paperwork I was told I’d have to wait for. WIN. Celebrate with Frappy Hour and some Doctor.

And the future holds? Well, more of this, but slightly less… manic. Unless the Today Show calls me back like they promised. In the mean time, and for the foreseeable future, we are blaming all our problems on Matt Lauer.

(Dear Today Show and/or Matt Lauer, totally j/k. lolz)

Mother’s Day Happy (via Instagram)

8 05 2011

mother's day breakfast
Beakfast: pancakes, bacon, fruit, coffee.

wtf did she get to be 16?
Daughter: way too grown-up looking.

Balboa Park: free guided tour.
botannical building

art museum

museum of man

fig tree roots

Free organ concert: in the rain.

rainy day

yellow shoes, witchy socks, umbrellas everywhere
Socks: extra cute.

largest coffee evah
Coffee: extremely large. And fancy.

i heart daleks
Daleks: basing on the Cybermen.

mother's day dinner
Dinner: roast beast, tots, slaw.

Happy Thing: Motherhood
Happy: me.