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K is for...

(just another) Knit Blog.

I'd like to invite you all to check out my new "real" blog. It's only taken me about four days to figure out the very beginning basics of WordPress, but it's OK enough to show now, I think. I will probably focus on that to the detriment of this journal (though I do intend to finish my alphabet exercise), so if you'd like to hear about me and my stuff more often, go subscribe to jetsyknits.

Comments (including criticism and suggestions) very much welcome.

J is for...

Journey, from which I have returned.


This is what I did on spring break:

*Took a class from Jane Prater in free form knitting and had a blast

*Traveled to Tallahassee to visit D’s grammie and a lot of old friends of mine and P’s

*Went to the beach for a day, lolled in the surf and sand, and did not get sunburned except on the tops of my feet (owie!)

*Did the Tallahassee equivalent of a yarn crawl: two shops and an art supply store

*Took a class in drop spindle spinning and MADE (barely passable) YARN!! (More on the yarn shops and the class in my next post...K is for Guess What?)

*Acquired these (from left to right): Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, Mmmmmalabrigo lace weight, Handmaiden Sea Silk, and (not pictured yet) ROVING!





*Had a number of nice visits with aforementioned friends and family

*Stayed almost entirely off the computer

*Made the extra loooong drive home (traffic problems on I-75)

Went shopping: got the stuff to make flowerboxes for the front porch, thrifted a dresser for my craft room/office to store the best and most useful of my art supllies so that my bedroom closet can breathe again, got the materials to try my hand at making some lace weight drop spindles, and acquired all the little stuff like groceries and printer cartridges and STUFF

*Had a really good time

I is for....

Incensed.

Reprinted without permission from Salon.com's Broadsheet, because I doubt they would really mind this getting more publicity. It is outrageous. Even if I am the mother of a boy...as a woman and a human this makes me sick. And for my friends who parent little girls...it makes me see red.

A new form of BYOB

I want to ask you all to do something personal: Take a moment, close your eyes and imagine the first time you ... played a video game. For me it was in fourth grade, when I installed an Alphabet Blaster typing game onto my parents' computer and spent three hours every Saturday morning "blasting" letters as they dropped from the top of the black and yellow screen -- and inadvertently learning how to touch-type in the process. Next up were Hot Dog Stand and Oregon Trail, two games pushed by my computer teacher. They, too, weren't particularly exciting: In Hot Dog Stand one learned how to run a concession booth (Will I sell four dozen hot dogs or five? How long do hot dogs keep?). And in Oregon Trail, which appears to have gained something of a retro cult status recently for reasons I do not understand, one spent time trying to ford rivers and shoot highly pixilated squirrels. I can't say it taught me much.

Fast-forward to 2008, and check out this latest online game soaring in popularity with British and French preteens: Miss Bimbo. Trust me when I say it's no Oregon Trail.

Instead, girls adopt their own "bimbos" (which look sort of like anime characters) and compete to become the "hottest, coolest, most famous bimbo ever!" And how does one do such things? Well, first you have to find a cool place to live and a "fun job to pay for your needs and all the clothes a bimbo could possibly want." Then you should probably "become a socialite and skyrocket to the top of fame and popularity" and date a "famous hottie." But everyone knows that hotties don't like fat girls, so make sure to keep your weight down, and even consider "resort[ing] to meds or plastic surgery" as you "stop at nothing to become the reigning bimbo!"

Oh, how I wish I were making this up.

We were tipped off to this bimbobsession by an article in the Times Online, which reported that a group of parents and healthcare experts are condemning the game, which pushes girls to provide their characters with diet pills and get boob jobs -- and charges a tidy pound and a half every time you send a text message to buy "dollars" to spend on your bimbo. One eating disorder expert who specializes in treating girls ages 8 to 18 is quoted as saying that the game -- which is aimed at 9-to-16-year-olds -- "is as lethal as pro-anorexia websites. A lot of children will get caught up with the extremely damaging and appalling messages." The article then points out that the game was launched just as research was showing that kids as young as 6 were developing anorexia and bulimia, and a growing number of teenagers were getting breast enlargements.

To which the game's founders, Nicholas Jacquart and Chris Evans, basically say, "Lighten up!" "It is not a bad influence for children," Jacquart is quoted as saying. "They learn to take care of their bimbos. The missions and goals for the bimbos are morally sound and teach children about the real world." Wait, wait, it gets better: "If they eat too much chocolate in the game, it is bad for their bimbos' bodies and their happiness levels compared to if they eat fruit and vegetables, which reinforces positive healthy messages."

Really? Perhaps we should look at some of the "targets" of Miss Bimbo's levels to check how healthy those messages are. "Level 7: After you broke up with your boyfriend you went on an eating binge! Now it's time to diet ... your target weight is less than 132 lbs." Or maybe we should look at Level 9: "Have a nip and tuck operation for a brand new face. You've found work as a plus-size model. To gain those vivacious curves, you need to weigh more than 154 lbs." But that's nothing compared with Level 11: "Bigger is better! Have a breast operation."

(Jacquart is also quoted as saying that "the breast operations are just one part of the game and we are not encouraging young girls to have them.")

Jacquart claims that the game "mirrors real life in a tongue-in-cheek way" -- which I suppose might be true for a very small subset of very narcissistic women who have an awful lot of money on their hands. But there is a difference between looking at the world portrayed by Miss Bimbo when you're, say, 30, as opposed to when you're 9 -- which is a concern not considered by Jacquart and Evans, who "admitted that the story in the script had been created by 'lads' and [that] no professional advice was sought about how girls may interpret issues surrounding weight loss and gain.'"

Which is kind of too bad, since just in the time it's taken me to write this post, the number of registered bimbos has climbed from 215,616 to 217,154 -- and counting.

-- Catherine Price

H is for....

Hats, Horror, and Hah!

I’ve been knitting wee little chapeaux for Hats for Alex. For my non-ravelry, non-knitting friends, this is a charity started by a knitter to provide hats for Children’s Hospital in Omaha, NE in honor of a little boy who lived far too short a life. His story can be found on the linked site, but beware. It’s a sad tale.

Anyway, my local knitting gang has taken this on as an unofficial service project and it’s been fun to make a few cute tiny hats in between working on my larger and more time consuming projects.



. . .

Several friends and I saw MacBeth at the Folger in DC on Saturday. It was so damn perfect that I’m still floating. It was well worth the long drive and the fairly expensive ticket. Poor P was too sick to go with me as we’d planned, but I’m very grateful that he’s the kind of guy who can mumble hoarsely “Go….have ….*hack, cough, wheeze*…. fun.” Bless him.

Teller (of Penn and Teller) co-directed this production and his contribution is unmistakable. But it’s never gimmicky stage magic…rather, it immensely added to the breathless wonder and fear that’s right there in the text. I can well believe that every bit of trickery would have been enthusiastically embraced by the Bard himself if he’d had the technology available to him in his time.

I’ve never seen such a nuanced, exciting, relevant, and darkly funny production of anything. It didn’t hurt that the Folger holds just over 250 people, and we were close enough to the stage to see the sweat bead on MacBeth’s brow and the spit fly from his lips as he raved, and catch every widened eye and grimace on every face of the very talented cast. I am hoping with all my heart for a touring production so more people can see it (including poor P!).

Teller’s production blog is a very entertaining read for those who like such things.

. . .

So, I had dropped D off at my sister’s on the way to DC, so that P could rest and D could be spoiled rotten to take the sting out of being left behind. His aunt did her job admirably, showering him with affection and new toys to the point where he forgot himself a little, acted up, and got one of them confiscated. That’s the setup….

I was working from home Monday, recovering from the whirlwind trip, listening to D and his friend play in the other room.

D was showing off the new stuff his aunt got him and he says, there's one more toy, but I can't play with it for a week.

Other kid: Why?

D: I don't want to tell you

[short pause]

D: Ok, I'll tell you. I shot someone.

[long pause]

Other kid (very quietly and seriously): Does it KILL PEOPLE?

D: (sigh) No, but it can REALLY mess up your eye.

This proves one thing. Remember the Far Side cartoon, What Your Dog Hears? I’ve always sort of assumed that when I was lecturing D, he was hearing “blah blah Duncan, blah blah blah blah.” But apparently, somehow one fact did get through.

You can, in fact, put someone’s eye out with that thing.


G is for....

Garam Masala.




Yes, I am still very much on an Indian food kick. I don't actually think you could call it a kick, anymore, really...I have more Indian spices than any other kind and routinely cook curries of various types. I've started buying chickpeas five pounds at a time. And I've gained some appreciation for regional differences in Indian spice mixes.

That's all garam masala is...a mixture of spices used as an accent in many Indian dishes. It's not a typical curry powder as most westerners think of curry - it tends to read a little sweeter than turmeric based curry, but can still add some heat. "Garam Masala" literally means "hot spices" but it's rarely fiery. It usually contains cardamom (surprise!), clove, cinnamom, cumin, mace, fennel, black pepper and sometimes red pepper or salt or other stuff. It varies a lot. Lately I like Sugam brand - it seems more aromatic and less hot that some other ready made garam masalas that I've tried. One day I'll try griding my own, but so far my coffee grinder has only been used for coffee. And while I wouldn't mind my coffee tasting of garam masala, I don't think I want my garam masala tasting of coffee.

I've a bit of a cold and this is what I made for lunch to soothe it. Took 5 minutes and I feel 500 percent better.

1 small box roasted red pepper and tomato soup - bring to boil
Half a cup or so frozen greens - add and bring back to simmer
Teaspoon garam masala - stir in at the last moment

Oh and THEN! While looking for a nice image, I found this. Garam Masala Oatmeal Cookies. Cannot wait to try those.

F is for...

Feline.

Rest in peace, Meriadoc Brandybuck Cat.


E is for...

Elizabeth Zimmermann.

I knew she was one of the luminaries of the knitting world. I’ve bought a few of her books. I’ve read about her many ingenious patterns. And I finally decided to try one, in the face of needing a baby present for an ultra-cool couple expecting their first daughter.

Behold the almost-complete Baby Surprise Jacket:



In this picture you can really see the magic, I think. From chaos to order. You knit this weird amoeba with no idea at all how it could POSSIBLY become a cunning little sweater, and then all of a sudden it hits you. One fold, two seams, and there it is. Neat huh?

Project notes are in Ravelry…most of you who would care can find them there.

Oh, and for extra fun, check out this page from the Making Light archives. It’s full of knitterly goodness, and includes an homage to Elizabeth (about halfway down the page) with extra links to showcase her brilliance.

D is for....

Domesticity.

(Betcha thought it would be for my son, but he permeates so much of my life, he doesn't need a separate alphabetical category.)

I baked on Sunday. I made lemon cardamom scones, inspired by a recipe I found online when looking up stuff to tell you about cardamom. They came out great. P said I should sell them. Hah. I tried being a semi-pro baker at one point in my life and it didn't go well. I think I'll just make them for friends, family and maybe the odd fundraiser. But hey, I've broken the shortcrust pastry barrier now. There's no telling what I'll bake next. I have a refrigerator full of sweet butter and I'm not afraid to use it. (I just can't eat very much of it, myself...sigh.)

Don't they look D-for-delicious?



I went out in the woods yesterday with a friend, and found some peace in nature's holiness, sitting on some rocks by a stream. It felt so very, very good to do that again. I've been broken, energetically, for years now (since my miscarriage and the subsequent losses of the past several years) but this person gets that and has been through so much of the same stuff, it feels ok to let myself raise energy around her even when it brings the risk of tears or other unexpected reactions. We both have felt a lack of sacred space around here (partly from just not knowing where to look), so it was really very satisfying to get out there and find some, not so very far from home.



And although I can't make it fit the letter D theme - other than knitting being a Domestic art - here's a photo of the prettiest yarn I've bought in a long while:



I really should have posted that under C, because the colorway is "China Cat Sunflower," but I didn't have a picture of it, then. It's so darn pretty in the hank that I am afraid to knit with it. I've been disappointed before, when a gorgeous hank just knit up into something that wasn't all that nice looking. Maybe I should solicit my kitting buddies to help me think of patterns that would show it to its advantage. Jaywalkers, perhaps?

C is for...

Cardamom, obviously.

Why did I name my LJ and my ravelry ID and my email address after cardamom?

According to wikipedia, “Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance.” An Indian food website says it has a “distinct sweet, pleasing and slightly lemon like flavor.” It’s part of the Ginger family. In India, they call it Elaichi. It’s used for flavoring and medicines in many different regions of the world, and its taste is variously described as “subtle,” “warm,” and “astringent” (all terms I can apply to my own personality, I like to think…though some might argue with "subtle").

Cardamom can be used in baked goods, sweets, and savory sauces to great effect, and it brightens the taste of many otherwise bland baked goods and sauces. I happen to love it and cook with it often. It also calms the digestive tract and cleanses the mouth and tongue, sweetening the breath.

When I was choosing an online identity, “cardamom” also served as a play on words, since a lot of my self image for the past six years has been filtered through the role of “mom,” and I liked that it was part of the name.

Oh and the "23" part of it?

B is for....

Baltimore!

The boy and I just got back last night from a 4-day trip to visit family. It was very COLD in Baltimore last weekend. We had good times, though...spaghetti and turkey dinners at one Auntie's house, Craftapalooza at the other's. Lunch at a venerable Hampden Road hangout, Cafe Hon. It looks like this on the outside:



And this on the inside:




Beyond that, there's not much to tell:

- The boy is spoiled and sleep-deprived.
- I am (as always) reeling from the drama and discontinuity of dealing with all of my siblings at once.
- One of my sister's little dogs ate most of the pignolis from Vaccaro's that I bought for P.

While I was gone, P painted our cathedral ceiling, which needed it badly. What a nice husband. Major points to him. Too bad I really couldn't reward him with the cookies I went out in 13 degree weather and so carefully selected for him. (A few survived, mostly intact, and were consumed last night amidst muttered imprecations about Horrid Evil Little Dogs.)

It's good to be home.

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