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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Faerie Gardens, Part the First

Not long ago, I got sucked into a Pinterest black hole, completely egged on by friends who shall remain nameless.

Go on Pinterest and search Fairy Gardens and Fairy Houses.  Then come back here.  No, wait! read this first, because otherwise you'll never come back.  You'll spend a month or two pinning cool pictures, and then you'll go to the craft store and find things that could be made into Fairy Houses, and then you'll spot the wonderful bark that fell off the neighbor's tree in the last storm and is just lying there! and you'll forget all about looking at the pictures of what I did! So, read this first, and then go search Pinterest.  And then take lots of pictures so I can read about your adventures... unless by then I'm off on another journey of my own.

After the Pinterest binge, I ended up at Michael's finding a lovely bird house.  And stones.  And grout, because grout.

And Popsicle sticks!  Because the little hole for the birdie was not an adequate door, and a fae will need windows, right?  Right.

We will not discuss the damage to my thumbs from trying to use an X-acto knife to mitre the corners of the window frame.  I have no regrets.

The grouting process took a couple of weeks.  I wasn't working on it solidly all that time, but I could only really do one side at a time.  I glued the rocks on first with tacky glue (translated into French: Colle inélégante.  I love this fact, don't ask me why).  I had to do one side, let it dry (because, the dripping! oh, it was extreme!)  Then I used some Martha Stewart grout, because that is what the craft store had, to fill the spaces in between the stones.  I could sort of do two sides at a time, but the grout got dry and crumbly and I ended up going back to redo the second side with wetter, less crumbly grout later.  

Once the grout was on and dry and patched and repaired and dry again, I went to the neighbor's to collect the awesome bark.  I hadn't thought through how I'd attach it to the roof... but I wound up cutting it into shingles and only using a small amount, which means I have some left for making other cool things later.

I sacrificed a lot of Colle Inélégante to the task of roofing the house.  I'm going to need a new bottle soon!

I found a cool, very curvy piece for the ridge post.

And then David and I went over to the garden store and picked out our stuff implements of fairy gardening: a 1-cubic-foot planter, soil, and four awesome succulent plants.  

We made a path from stones, planted the plants, transplanted some lovely climby green succulent foliage that has found a home in one of my old flowerpots and grows little tiny yellow flowers, put in a picket fence, and voilà! A faerie garden!  We still have a couple of things we want to add... because what fairy doesn't want a gazing ball and a bird bath! but this is our first installment.  And I'm pleased with how it turned out!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thoughts on Running While Fat and Other Tales.

Harmonic convergence inspires me to write.

Today, for example, a friend posted a link to this blog post:

in which the author notes that she, as a fat woman, gets regularly harrassed by men as she runs or walks for exercise.  Things that would make you want to take a bath, and maybe scour out your ears with a brillo pad.  Really.  Read it; I'm not repeating it here because I'll need another shower if I do.

My mom responds to the friend's post, saying that she regularly experiences people--again, mostly men--slowing down near her house, rolling down the windows, and shouting things like "f***in' dykes" at her, and presumably at her partner as well.  Her partner happens to be a woman.

In the article above, the author notes that it really doesn't help much if, when you're trying to talk about the experience of, say, being rudely propositioned out of pity because you're such a fat c-word, to people you love and trust, or to your facebook friends, or whatever, to be told that "All men are not like that."

Of course all men are not like that.  And all straight people are not like that.  And all white people are not like that, either.  But saying that does not mean it didn't happen, and does not mean it didn't make you feel dirty, or disgusting, or angry, or despairing.  Having someone say "All men are not like that" distracts from the matter at hand: that some horrible excuse for a human being just made you feel like dirt.  

And the harmonic convergence part hits close to home.  Because it concerns people from my high school, from my town, and because they are people on my facebook friends list, this seems like both a twist of the knife and a trip back through time to when I was afraid to be myself.

One friend posted a link to a recent article and picture of Michael Sam, gay NFL draftee, making out with his boyfriend in celebration of being picked for a team.  She wrote how happy the sweetness of this picture was making her.  The other friend commented something along the lines of "It's just as sweet when a straight man kisses his girlfriend."  Friend one--we'll call her Sue, because that's totally not her name--has deleted the post and so I don't know exactly what was said.    Friend two, whose name is not Camille or anything resembling Camille, got offended when Sue took offense.  They have now unfriended each other, and the first I knew about it was when Camille posted a rant on her page calling Sue by first and last name, stating she was a 'bitch', and saying that Sue had taken something she'd said 'wrong' and gone ballistic on her.  She said in a comment that Sue got upset because 'I called gay people and straight people equal.'  

And I totally missed the boat to comment on this behavior.  I waited, uncomfortable, and by the time my response was well thought-out and complete, Camille's post was 24 hours cold and I don't want to go on there poking a dead horse and starting it up again.  Apparently Camille and/or her friends and family have been inappropriately pursuing the matter and harrassing Sue (again, not something I can see, and therefore it is hearsay, but Sue is freaked out and scared).

So.  The harmonic convergence bit, right?  Here it is.

Camille is wrong.  Not morally wrong--at least the point I want to focus on isn't about morality--but factually wrong.  When she said that she called gay people and straight people equal? She didn't.  Straight people don't, as a rule, worry about posting pictures of themselves kissing the people they love.  While a nude photo of me having sex with my husband would get me banned online and probably fired from my church job (no picture like this exists, by the way--it is purely theoretical!), a picture of me smooching him at our wedding raises not one single eyebrow and garners the most 'likes' of anything I posted all last year.  But my friends who are gay? Some of them don't, even now, dare to put a picture of their life partners on their desks at work.  Because it is still legal in many places in the US to fire someone for being gay.  

I'm going to say that again.

It is still possible to fire someone for being gay.  In the US.  Here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

So, when a man--who just a very very short time ago, days or weeks ago, would not have been allowed to play football because of the person he loves--gets to freely be himself and we all get to see him love someone and enjoy how sweet it is... this is in no way 'equal to' the picture of me smooching my hubby at our wedding.  It is far and away, incredibly, sublimely more amazing and fantastic than my wedding picture!  It is a celebration of brand new, life-affirming freedom, and it is wonderful!  And if a straight person, who has never once had to worry that someone would discover her secret or fire her or harrass her or beat her up for being who she is, comes by and says, "Oh, but straight people are cute too!" she, whether intentionally or not, is kicking this wonderful, special moment in the teeth, saying, "You are not special! I'm going to normalize you so fast you won't even know what happened, because I can't let this special moment shine out.  That would give credence to it and make it right."

Of course all men are not like that.  As I quipped to the friend who posted that article way up there, if all men were like that our species would have died out long ago.  But almost all women have the common experience of having been treated like a dirty, common, horrible thing by some man sometime in their lives--I mean, really, who among us hasn't been wolf-whistled at or propositioned from a moving car, or called fat, or called thin-and-therefore-bitchy... we've all been there.  It makes us put on a hard shell and protect ourselves from harm.  And when those who purport to be our allies refuse to recognize it, refuse to hear about it when it happens? That perpetuates it.  When you dust it off with "All men are not like that," you're allowing it to go on.  When you dust off the wonder of a gay man being allowed to freely kiss his love in public by pointing out that straight people have been doing that for years, you're stuffing gay people right back into the closet they've been fighting to escape.

So, Camille, I hold out little hope that anything I say will change your mind, but if you read this, and I've touched you at all, I hope you'll at least delete your nasty post with Sue's name in it.  If you're really getting this, then think about why that picture made you so uncomfortable that you needed to make the comment you did.   And maybe next time take a minute to listen, and put yourself in someone else's shoes.  It might save a whole lot of high-school drama.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bodley's Cardigan: The Agony of Defeat

Fessing Up

So, it's been a while. 


The last evening of November was... disheartening to say the least.  I thought I had plenty of time to finish the collar--it's just a collar, after all! but.  I was wrong.  The collar's beautifully designed--you cast on an extra 35 stitches and then on the way back, you SSK the last collar stitch together with the first yoke stitch on the needle.  And there are... um, a lot... of yoke stitches on the needle at that time.  So.  35XAlot= 35 Alots.  Except it's actually 70XAlot because you knit 35 on the right side, SSK, wrap & turn, and then you knit 35 back to the edge of the collar.  So that's 70 Alots of Stitches.  I won't do the math.

And then... about 2 hours before the deadline... I ran out of yarn.  Ran out! I'd spun an extra skein a week before, just to be safe--but no, not enough.  So, I went upstairs to my stash and dug out a skein of Plymouth Encore Worsted, and kept knitting.  I knew I'd have to rip it out later and replace it, but at least I'd get my sweater finished!

At 2:50am Eastern time--that's 11:50 Princess Onica Standard Time, the time to which all House Cup events are aligned--I looked at the 2 inches I had left and realized it wasn't going to happen.  I attempted to take my defeat picture and post it to the thread, and I didn't even make that--as I was posting, the thread got locked, and so.  

This is where I was when I stopped.

Count em: 13 stitches left. 

So, I cried.  Then, because it was the middle of the freakin' night, I went to bed.  I figured I'd finish this sucker in December and turn it in for 10 points to Detention in January.  

I didn't sacrifice all my points on this sweater, mind.  I earned points for the 50% and 75% turn-ins (I have to look it up to figure out how many that is, but it was a couple hundred I think, and I made those both on time).  But, meantime, I'd also sacrificed my Order of the Phoenix mission in order to finish my NEWT... and so, I had 25% or so of a pair of giant socks to finish as well... sigh...  I was tired.  Bed was in order.

House Cup to the Rescue!

To my delight, the House Cup came to the rescue.  In December, they announced that they were bringing back an idea that had been tried once before: The Detention OWL.  The purpose of the Detention OWL is to finish up a bunch of projects that weigh on your mind.  Well, I have all my 12 OWL badges... so I hadn't been planning to do Advanced Studies at all this term except maybe a Phoenix mission (2 pairs of socks FTW!)... but I thought, wow, I could finish my sweater AND the Giant Socks and the mittens I started for my niece in December but didn't finish AND my shipwreck shawl (the need for which is, at long last, fast approaching... no need to say more here).  So, I proposed a Detention OWL at 3:01am on January 1--because, they were only accepting 60 candidates, and over the course of a couple of weeks I realized I must do this project.

The project I proposed is OWL worthy but, for me, fairly modest.  Knitting the rest of the socks... done.

Those are on Size 13 men's feet, by the way... 

Spinning 40 rolags (the brown is wool I bought--all I had left of the Giant Alpaca bag was gross and very hay-filled)...

which I carded during the Super Bowl, by the way, into 200 yards of 2-ply yarn...


is done.


That's what I agreed to as my 50%, which got turned in 2 days ago.  I still have to knit the collar, knit the second mitten, and knit the last several rows of the shawl to get my badge.

Today I started knitting again.  I've completed about 2 inches of the collar (I had to rip out all the store-bought yarn, so when I started this morning, I had about 10 inches of collar left).  After the collar comes the button band, and then end weaving and washing and blocking.  And then--the wearing! That's the bit I'm looking most forward to... it seems the heat in my office may not actually get fixed until summer of 2015... I'm glad this cardigan is warm.

And just for a happy thought--here's a Flying Spaghetti Monster wishing you Happy Valentine's Day.