Sunday, April 30, 2006

Busy as a Wasp

Yellowjacket Nest
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
It did not exactly please me to discover this yellowjacket nest on our back patio, suspended just above where we keep our bikes. Nor did it please me to find—not a foot away from it—this paper wasp nest. And it pleased me even less, as if that were possible, to find yet another paper wasp nest just outside our front door. Holy Shite! That's three nests if you're keeping track.

I’m in a quandary. I did some reading up on wasps, and it turns out that yellowjackets and paper wasps are both beneficial garden insects. According to Paghat the Ratgirl, Pacific Northwest gardener extraordinaire, they will kill “aphids, leafhoppers, caterpillars, beetle larvae, flies, & all manner of garden-munchers at a fantastic rate.” And that's a very good and desirable thing.

The situation is putting my organic gardening ethics to the test. Do I leave the nests be and put up with the potential risk of being stung and harassed? I’m quite sure Paghat would encourage me to do just that. According to her, “The best way to deal with them is personal calmness. It would be possible to sit quietly within inches of a paperwasp nest & observe closely their comings & goings, & there would be no risk at all. Instead of worrying about them, they should be feted as welcome visitors.”

It would be so much easier to make this decision if they’d just built their nests in some more out of the way place. Is that too much to ask? I mean, a yellowjacket nest and a paper wasp nest a few feet away from our patio table and back door and another one over the front door? I really don’t relish the thought of them stinging the mailman’s bum or swarming about and alighting on my food while I try to eat lunch on the patio, even if they are at all other times doing away with aphids and caterpillars at the above-mentioned fantastic rate.*

This weekend I intended to knock down the nests and then run like hell. That seemed the sane and humane thing to do. The nests are still small—works-in-progress being fashioned by a single female wasp/yellowjacket per nest. There are no eggs laid in them yet, let alone hatched larvae that turn into swarming and pestilent workers. If I knocked down the nests now, surely those two wasps and one yellowjacket would find somewhere else to rebuild their nests. They’re welcome to build nests (within reason—i.e., smaller than a soccer ball) under the eaves on the side of the house. I could deal with that.

I couldn’t quite bring myself to, as Paghat would say, “muck with their nests.” Part of it is fear of painful reprisals, but part of it is guilt, and part of it is a vague desire to respect the balance of nature (and rejoice at the thought of little bits of paralyzed cutworms and aphids being fed to wasp larvae). I haven’t even told B about the nests, because I’m pretty sure he’d empty an economy-size can of Raid on them tout de suite and I don’t want to go that route.

But I’m not a Jain or even anything close so I will probably knock down the nests, and if I’m going to do that I’d better not delay much longer. Anyone have any experience in humane wasp eradication?

*Adult wasps and yellowjackets do not themselves eat these pests, but they hunt them, paralyze or kill them, and feed them to their larvae. Grisly, no?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Sword Fern Fiddleheads
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
Spring is truly lovely in Portland, especially when it’s not raining. We lucked out for my sister and brother-in-law’s visit and had five days of nonstop, balls-out sunshine, which showed off the spring flowers and greenery to full advantage. It also allowed us to get in about 25 miles of hiking and city hill walking, which I’m hoping will help offset all the snarfing and imbibing of gratuitous calories I did while they were here.

I’m not in the mood to recap the whole visit, but click here, here, and here to view some cool photos taken by G, my gem of a brother-in-law, a professional photographer who is never without his camera. Let me elaborate just briefly on what I mean by “gem.” Get this. G’s gift to my sister was their plane tickets to Portland. However, on her actual birthday he decided that she needed something to unwrap, so while Sis and I were off on a supremely successful for her and depressingly unsuccessful for me clothes-shopping foray, he bought her a hip-and-stylish messenger bag, a hip-and-stylish T-shirt, and some retro letterpress stationery. He met up with us in a clothing boutique and while my sister was briefly distracted by a display of over-the-knee socks, he whipped out his credit card and paid for all her purchases (totaling several hundred dollars). (I don’t think a guy has ever spent more than forty bucks on a birthday present for me. Harumph!)

I must say I was flabbergasted by his generosity especially since he’s not and never will be a member of the heavy-wallet brigade. His salary is modest. And that’s not all. He and my sister have been married for 3 years and together for 10 and he still always treats her with the most incredible consideration—opening doors for her, carrying parcels, paying all the bills—the full chivalric package. Dare I say it? I’m a smidge envious. But she totally deserves G. Until she met him, she’d dated and (even lived with) an assortment of shitheels, scam artists, penny-pinchers, goldbrickers, sponges, cheaters, and louses. I’m glad she finally found someone as thoughtful, sweet, and caring as G.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Just a Hint of Trash Can

According to our Health-O-Meter bathroom scale, I’ve lost 8 lb since I was weighed at the doctor about a month ago. I must, however, factor in that when I was at the doctor’s, I was fully clothed and it was the middle of the day and when I weighed myself on the Health-O-Meter a couple of days ago, it was early morning; I was in my underwear; I was all dehydrated from 7 or 8 hours of sleep; and I was standing on the capricious and ancient Health-O-Meter, which often fluctuates rather wildly, e.g., you can step on it and get a reading, then step off and back on and get a reading 2 or 3 lb heavier or lighter than the reading you got 10 seconds earlier.

I don’t think I really lost 8 lb in a month, but I’m going to conservatively estimate that I’ve lost 6 lb. I have to wear the belt on my jeans a notch tighter, so that’s got to be indicative of something, and that something is that King, Prince, Pauper works! And I have to say it’s been almost entirely painless. I eat the same stuff I always eat, but I just don’t eat the bulk of it at night. I’ve also doubled the amount of cardiovascular exercise I get, which is much easier to do now that it stays light until nearly 8 PM.

But. In a few days my sister and brother-in-law are coming to Portland to celebrate her 40th (!) birthday and that means that King, Prince, Pauper will go right out the window. We are going to be tying on the feedbag left, right, and center and guzzling copious amounts of microbrew. I’ll have to exercise some restraint. Or maybe not, as we are planning to do a lot of walking. A 12-mile hike is planned for one day and a bunch of neighborhood and city hill walks for just about every other day, so maybe I’ll be able to hold the line with the weight loss.

I’m really looking forward to my sister’s visit. The last time she was here was three years ago when she helped me put in my garden. It was April, and the weather couldn’t have been worse. It was unseasonably cold—in the 40s, with gusty wind, rain, and hailstorms. The day after she arrived she came down with a heavy cold and got her period (the double whammy), but she kept digging holes in wet, rocky clay like a trouper. It does not please me that the weather for the past few days has been a rerun of three years ago, complete with a crapload of hail. I’m hoping that it will have all blown over by the time she and my brother-in-law get here Wednesday night and that we will have nothing but warmth and sunshine. Or at least no rain. Or at least no hail.

I’ve been wracking my brain over what sort of gift would be suitable for such a momentous occasion as a 40th birthday. B kept saying, “Knit her a sweater, knit her a sweater, knit her a sweater.” And you know what? I came to the conclusion that sweater handknit by me is the exact perfect 40th birthday gift for my sister. She’s a metalsmith and jeweler, so she really appreciates handmade gifts and she's a clothes horse, but the problem is that by the time I concluded that a sweater was the right gift, it gave me about two weeks to make it. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to give her some options. There are two sweaters I am capable of knitting: a big bulky, exceedingly warm one like this and a similar but somewhat less bulky one. She can actually try them on and I should be able to get a good idea of what size she needs. I can even take measurements for a custom fit and have her pick out her own yarn. So the upside of the fact that she won’t get her present until she is, say, 40 and a half is that she will have a style and color she picked herself and the sweater will fit.

There’s one other option I’m going to give her: the Fuzzy Reception cardi. I have a feeling that as soon as she sees the photo of the Fuzzy she is going to go for that, even though there’s no proof I can knit such a thing. The other two sweaters I’ve knit are knock-around sweaters; they’ll keep you warm, and they'll wear like iron and all that, but they’re not particularly stylish. The Fuzzy Reception cardi is stylish (to my somewhat untutored eye). The color alone will likely seduce my sister, even though it could be knitted up in any color. I don’t dare tell her that I was Googling about on the Internet and I found a blog where someone knitted Fuzzy Reception for her daughter and said that thought it looked like she’d killed Oscar the Grouch, skinned him, and handed her daughter the pelt. I wish I hadn’t read that. I am doing my level best to keep thinking “fern” and “asparagus” when I see the yarn, but I really can’t look at it without seeing just a hint of trash can. Damn it!

Anyway, I am going ahead with a Fuzzy Reception for myself. I knitted up a small, semi-botched swatch tonight. (As usual I’ve taken a terrible photo of it that, depending on your monitor, may look like an unusually geometrical puddle of puke.) I’ll have to rip it out and do another larger swatch, but I think I’ve got the hang of the diagonal slip stitch pattern that is used for most of the sweater. I’m feeling pretty dang good about that, since it was something I’d never done before, and I figured it out all by myself with a minimum amount of trauma. (I’m all about small victories like that.) Also, Cagey and Jamie, I’m using Addi Turbos for the first time and am liking them very much! In fact, I think I’d be totally frustrated using “regular” needles, as this project is knitted with two strands of yarn held together and one is fuzzy, tangly mohair-ish alpaca.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Where Does Mike Mulligan Go to the Bathroom?

Klickitat Street
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
I just made a little pilgrimage to Klickitat Street this evening in honor of Beverly Cleary’s 90th birthday, which is today. I read all of Cleary’s books when I was a kid and I absolutely adored them, especially Ramona the Pest. What kid wouldn’t like a book with a title like that? Unlike the goody-goody children (whom you just wanted to strangle) that inhabited most kids books, Ramona misbehaved and had selfish, spiteful impulses—just like a real kid. If she thought something (or someone) was stupid, she said so.

One time her teacher was reading the world’s most boring children’s book, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, to Ramona’s class. It’s a real book. It’s about this guy Mike who spends his day excavating a giant pit with his steam shovel. Maybe boys like this book, but it had been read to me many times and I had never for a minute thought it had any merit. And here it was making a guest appearance in another book! Well, Ramona piped up and asked the teacher, “Where does Mike Mulligan go to the bathroom?” Good question. That’s exactly the kind of thing I’d like to know. That Mike Mulligan book would have been a thousand times more interesting if the author hadn't neglected to cover important details like that.* If memory serves, Ramona’s teacher gets all flustered and annoyed that Ramona has brought up such a taboo subject. I think the teacher might even have sent Ramona home with a note about her inappropriate question. Poor Ramona—she thought she was asking a legitimate question.

That’s the kind of book Beverly Cleary wrote. Until I moved to Portland, I had no idea that all the books she’d written had been set in Portland in the neighborhood surrounding Klickitat Street where Cleary grew up—a neighborhood very close to where we live now. It was fate! Cleary is arguably Portland’s most famous author, certainly Portland’s most famous children’s author. In fact, the children’s room in the central library downtown is named after her and there’s a bronze sculpture of her situated under a phony tree. It’s just a tiny bit creepy, actually. At our neighborhood branch, there’s a relief map of the neighborhood that shows the locations of all the landmarks from Cleary’s books including Ramona and her sister Beezus’s house on Klickitat Street. (Beezus! I love that there’s a character named Beezus [a corruption of Beatrice].) It’s cool.

Anyway, because Cleary’s been thus memorialized I had always assumed she’d been long dead. I was so surprised—and pleased—this afternoon to find out that she is still alive. She doesn’t live in Portland anymore, but the local NPR station called her up at her home in California and talked to her briefly. It wasn’t much of an interview, but they did talk to some local kids who love Cleary's books just as much as I did. I’m going to have to reread them now. I’m sure they’re just as wonderful as I remember.

*Ramona the Pest was written in the 1960s—the pre-portapotty era.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The New Jalopy

As of this afternoon, I feel like I am perilously close to being at the intersection of Queer Street and Penury Lane. I just forked over a (to me) large sum of money for a 2002 Toyota Corolla. I just hope we have no other large expenditures this year. A new toilet and a jalopy are all our modest resources can handle.

After a false and infuriating start involving a lying, freckled-faced 14-year-old salesboy in a shiny black suit at the Ron Tonkin dealership (do not patronize) near Mall 205 (also known as Hell on Earth), the experience proved less stressful than I had feared. It is a massively huge freaking BIG DEAL for me to go out and buy a car and it is something I haven’t done in 11 years.

After the Tonkin debacle, we stayed away from the giant-ass corporate dealerships and checked out what the smaller, family-run dealerships had on offer. I was pretty sure I wanted a Toyota Corolla, but I test-drove a 2000 Camry, which is a step or two up from a Corolla. It was immaculately cared for, power windows, power locks, power seat controls, CD and cassette, leather seats, cruise control, overdrive, antilock brakes, and on and on. In dealership parlance, it was loaded. For a 2000 it didn’t have high mileage at all, and the price was really very good. No doubt about it, it was a sweet ride, but I felt like I was driving a big boat, cruising down the freeway at 47 knots in the starboard lane. I didn’t feel securely in control of the vehicle.

I’ve always had low-end (and often crappy) cars: a 1979 Dodge Omni (total piece of crap); a 1983 Toyota Tercel (rusted to death); 1989 Honda Civic (still runs but I don’t feel safe in it anymore). I’m sure most people would have opted for the Camry, but it was just too nice for the likes of me. The other big strike against it was that it doesn’t get as good gas mileage as Corollas do. Gas mileage is a very important issue for me not just because gas prices are only going to go up, up, up in coming years, but because I think it’s important to try not to use more resources than necessary,* although, obviously, if I felt strongly enough about that I wouldn’t even own a car.

I settled on the most bare-bones Corolla (crank windows, yay!) I could find, which fortunately just happened to be at Powell Motors, the dealership where I’d felt most comfortable. They really checked out the car before they sold it to me and gave me a manila folder containing the CARFAX report and a sheaf of receipts for the things they’d had fixed on it prior to selling it. Plus, they were honest about how much life is left in the brakes and the tires (facts I was able to use as bargaining points). I have never known another car dealership to do that. Most important for me, I think, is that they seemed to understand what a massively huge freaking BIG DEAL it is for me to buy a car, and when I went to pick up the car today, it was sitting out in front all sparkly and clean, with my name, literally, on it! I thought that was just the cutest thing ever— and I am compromising my already somewhat compromised anonymity for it! And that’s not all, they gave me this little packet of goodies for the glove compartment and a solid platinum (OK--solid aluminum) key ring.

Packet of Goodies

Sure, these little touches cost them next to nothing, but it is light-years away from the we-don’t-give-a-shit-about-you-but-we'll-take-your-money treatment I got at Ron Tonkin. I mean, Powell gets that if you’re going to drop an enormous amount of dough on a car, you need to be a little bit cosseted. I really appreciate that.

*I would have loved to get a hybrid, but they were out of my price range. The Corolla gets 33 mph on the highway and 29 mph in the city—pretty decent.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Visiting Actor

Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
Remember how back in the 19th century there used to be itinerant preachers who’d travel from town to town full of talk of hellfire, brimstone, and damnation? Well, we happen to be acquainted with an itinerant actor. Instead of traveling around on horseback, though, he drives around in a Plymouth Voyager minivan. And instead of limiting himself to, say, southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, his circuit includes the whole of North America. Basically, any place that will book him to perform one of his several one-man shows. I cannot imagine living my life that way. Always on the road, living out of a minivan. And a Plymouth at that.

First of all, I’ve never been bitten by, as David Sedaris would call it, “the drama bug.” I just don’t get what makes a person want to get up in front of a bunch of strangers and perform. I’m just too chickenshit scared of making a fool of myself, I guess. Also, there’s a phenomenon my friend CS has identified that occurs when you are watching a bad actor perform. You start feeling really embarrassed on behalf of the actor. I have experienced this phenomenon more than once and, you guessed it, it always occurs while watching the itinerant actor. Oh. My. God. I wish I had a video clip I could insert here at least an audio clip. I will try to describe his "style" as best I can.

He was in a production of The Imaginary Invalid or some other Moliere play and he would say stuff like, “Let us go to the hotel, where there will be foooooood to eeeeeeeat [pantomimes taking a bite out of an apple and chewing] and wiiiiiiiiiine to dreeeeeeeeenk [pantomimes slurping from a goblet].” WTF? I mean maybe that exaggerated diction and excessive use of mime would be acceptable if the audience was made up entirely of non-English speakers, but it wasn’t. Everyone spoke English and everyone was over the age of 4. Two hours of that. Wince, wince, wince! The whole time I was thinking, “Shit, we’re going to have to see him after the play and what on earth will I say?”

I’m a terrible liar, so I can’t just fib and say, “You were great!” I spent most of the play pondering what I could say to him that would sound complimentary but would not be a lie. Here’s what I came up with: “You really put a lot of work into that,” said in the most enthusiastic voice I could muster. Sweat was just dripping off of him after the show (all that strenuous miming, don’t you know), so what I said was certainly true. I have had to use that line on other occasions (with other performers) and anyone reading this blog entry should feel free to use it should the need arise. No charge.

Anyway, so that’s the background on the Visiting Actor. Yesterday, his travels brought him to our neck of the woods and, because he’s always up for a chance to perform, we ended up at a local karaoke/tiki bar. He’s big into karaoke and pretty much wherever he’s performing, after the show he heads to a karaoke bar. Personally, I’d think that performing a one-man show would be enough attention for one night, but apparently not. Until last night I’d never been to a karaoke bar, so I even though I had no intention of singing because A) I can’t carry a tune and B) I don’t want to make a fool of myself (see above), I was eager to see the Visiting Actor perform his signature tune—a song I detest so much I cannot even bear to type out its name—just to see how this whole karaoke thing works. By the way, he has performed this tune in karaoke bars all across the continent and beyond to, according to him, wild applause.

Sure enough, he performed his signature tune first. Unlike the other karaoke singers, he did not turn his back on the audience (all six of us), because after years of performing the song, he really doesn’t need to see the words on the monitor. He has it memorized! Amazing! When the instrumental breaks came up, he did a little hand-jive thing (and that embarrassment-for-the-actor phenomenon kicked right in for me). I will say that his version was a pretty good imitation of the original, if that’s what the goal in singing karaoke is supposed to be. He can sing—I’ll give him that—and he was definitely the best singer there, but he didn’t have much competition. Only an old man who walked with an aluminum cane, chain-smoked mentholated Kents, chugged coffee, and sang nothing but Johnny Cash; a young man in a Kangol cap who tackled Eric Clapton’s oeuvre in a breathy and (thankfully) nearly inaudible voice; and his girlfriend who thrashed Gershwin’s “Anything Goes” to a bloody pulp. Why attempt to sing a song if you don’t know the melody? I love that song, so it made me sad to hear it so mangled. Of course, if I’d been up there attempting to sing, it would not have been pretty either, so I have no right to judge.

To cleanse my palate after the hated signature tune, I wheedled and pestered the Visiting Actor to sing some Led Zeppelin, for example, “The Immigrant Song” or some Van Halen, say, “Hot for Teacher.” I was quite curious to see how he’d do with some semiheavy metal. Did I want to see him embarrass himself? I confess—just a little bit. Turns out that Zep's “Black Dog” is actually in his repertoire. I was surprised. He didn’t quite pull that one off as well as the signature tune. He’s just not the golden falsetto god that Robert Plant is (was). Full marks to him for trying, though, and full marks to him for caving to my badgering and going up and singing “The Immigrant Song,” even though he has never attempted it before. It was fairly disastrous. He did a great job with the “Ahhhhhhhh, Ahhhhhhhs” at the beginning, but totally choked with his delivery of the key line: “Valhalla, I am coming!”

Gosh. I’m mean. Why should I be so mean to the poor unsuspecting Visiting Actor? Well, part of it is that I am just somewhat mean by nature. I know it’s not my most attractive trait, but rather than try to hide it (as I sometimes do), I am letting my mean flag fly tonight. I'm feeling a smidge cranky. In my defense, let me just say that self-absorbed people with outsized egos who talk endlessly about themselves push my buttons, and the Visiting Actor’s ego is at least 20 sizes too big for him. To wit: One of his mantras (yeah, he has mantras) is “I am a rock star.” I am not making that up! Also, I’ve known him for years and I’ve graciously endured several of his performances and the guy has never once asked me about myself nor can he be bothered to remember my name. I’m just B’s “wife” (which I'm not)--good ol' what’s-her- name. Not knowing my name, however, didn’t stop him last year from greeting me with a big sloppy kiss that I didn’t see coming until it was too late. Ew! Nor did it stop him last night from grappling me with his meathooks, drawing me closer to him because he (supposedly) couldn’t hear what I was saying. Creepy, OK?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Fuzzy Reception

I felt groggy and out of sorts all day today, thanks to the time switcheroo and a misadventure with caffeine that resulted in a bout of insomnia that lasted from 1:00 AM to 5:30 AM. The alarm went off at 7:30 AM. I was just so not ready to get up; my eyes felt like someone had scoured them with Comet cleanser, but I had to haul myself out of bed anyway so that I could be at the doctor’s office at 9:15 AM to get my left boob squooshed again (the second time in three weeks).

Why so much boob squooshing? Well, according to a letter I received, there was a “questionable finding” on my first mammogram. This did not please me, but the letter got worse. By the third paragraph, the “questionable finding” had escalated to “an abnormality,” and as soon as I read that I began to flip out ever so slightly. My doctor’s nurse had already called me earlier in the week to tell me that I needed to come back for a second squoosh, because the radiologist was having trouble interpreting something on the film. Somehow, though, she had made it sound like it was a film problem not a boob problem.

She said nothing about any “highly questionable abnormalities” (note panic-induced adverbial embellisment), so I got on the blower to my doctor. The first thing she said to me was that she “couldn’t read a mammogram film to save her life,” but she also told me that 99% of the time with these "re-dos" it's just some overlapping tissue giving the appearance of a density or nodule. She said that re-dos are very common and that it was “nothing to freak out about.”

She agreed with me that the letter was perhaps a trifle more hair-raising in tone than it needed to be but that the federal government requires that they send out that letter. Then she went on to add—just for good measure—that there are a lot of things the federal government does that she doesn’t agree with. Yes, Dr. H., I read you loud and clear. Thank you for that. She made me feel a million times better.

I like my doctor very much. She has absolutely no attitude or pretensions at all and always treats me as an equal. Nor does she ever try to rush though my appointments even though she works for a move-them-right-along PPO. Once when I went in to have her check out a weird rash that had appeared out of nowhere, she schlepped a massive skin diseases book into the examining room to show me some photos of the harmless rash I had. As she was getting ready to go, she asked me if she should leave the skin diseases book in the room while I changed back into my clothes, because there were really gross photos in there of deformed and diseased penises that I might like to look at! And then we both just started howling like juveniles. Maybe you had to be there, but we bonded over that. For the record, I told her she could go ahead and take that book away. Deformed penises. Deformed and diseased. Ew, ew, ew!!!!! We were acting just like a couple of high school girls!

So anyway, this morning at 9:15 I was standing groggily and grouchily in the mammogram chamber, being amply “honeyed” and “sweetied” by the radiology technician. She showed me the “highly questionable abnormality” on the film, and let me read the lab report that made reference to a “7 mm nodule” in my left boob and--this was what was rather harrowing—I could totally see what they were talking about on the film, and it was really close to the chest wall. Immediately, I’m back into panic mode, thinking there’s no way they could dig that thing out with a lumpectomy. The only possible way to get at it would be radical full Halstead mastectomy.

I must have had a pretty grim look on my face, because the technician slathered on a few additional “honeys” and “sweeties” and maybe some "sweetie-darlings, darling-sweeties" topped off with a smattering of “don’t freak outs” before moving in for the big squoosh. As soon as my boob was out of the deep squeeze, she showed me the new scan on the computer. No sign of that nodule or whatever the H-E-Double-Toothpicks it was! Whew! Of course, the film will need to be analyzed by a radiologist, but I think I’m in the clear. Again, whew. And, whew, again.

I got through the rest of the day in sort of slow-motion autopilot mode. I simply could not wake up. Coffee (OK it was decaf), ice water, English muffins, and fresh air all failed to perk me up. I did get some work done, but it was like someone else—some plodding, molasses-brained person—was doing it. I was simply not firing on all cylinders. For example, in an e-mail to a friend, I spelled lasagna like this—lasangne—and didn’t even notice until I got her reply and saw my horrifying typo glaring back at me. Tomorrow, I will have to take a good look at the bilge that I (or that molasses-head person) cranked out today and see if any of it is salvageable.

While I was blearily eating lunch, I paged through the new Knit Picks catalog that had arrived on Saturday and came across the Fuzzy Reception cardigan. I like everything about it. First of all, the name is a perfect description of the level at which I functioned today. Second, I love the vintage styling. Third, that green color really speaks to me—it’s actually knitted with two stands of different-colored yarn held together—“asparagus” and “fern.” I like asparagus and I like ferns and, come to think of it, I believe I like asparagus ferns, so how can I not make this cardy? Fourth, Knit Picks’ yarns are very attractively priced, and I’ve heard good things about the quality. Fifth, the cardy doesn’t look too difficult, although, admittedly, my judgment is acutely impaired today. Anyway, I threw caution to the wind and ordered the pattern and 13 balls of yarn. They have a 30-day return policy, so what have I got to lose?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Update Your Blogrolls!

I’ve gone ahead and changed the name of my blog. I've griped before about how I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into my blog's original title, and I’ve grown increasingly unfond of Is There Anything of Interest? since then. I've settled on something a little edgier. The new name and the quote come from “9th and Hennepin,” one of my all-time favorite Tom Waits songs—about a bar where all the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes and the whole goddamn town’s ready to blow (full lyrics here, if anyone’s interested). The new name does sort of imply that I lead a much more gin-soaked boozardly existence than I actually do, but I like the bit about “spilling out over the side to anyone who will listen.” That seems an apt description of blogging—at any rate it’s an apt description of the way I practice the art and science of blogging.

Of course, I spent ages bozoing around, making the title into a piece of “art,” and then gingerly tiptoeing around in my Blogger template tweaking code, fingers and toes crossed, hoping I wasn’t going to louse up the template beyond redemption. Now that I see the final results, I’m fairly certain I created the title “art” in the most lame-assed way possible (taking a screenshot from a Word document).* I don’t have Photoshop on this computer, and B is busy doing my taxes on the computer that has Photoshop. It would have been extremely imprudent (not to mention self-absorbed) of me to disturb him. It’s rubbish, though. The type is not sharp. I’m assuming that I can fix it by re-creating it in Photoshop or maybe Quark. Does anyone know?

Update, Sunday Night: Oy! The previous incarnation really looked bad on the computer with the large monitor. I had no idea how awful the type looked until I looked at it on this computer! P.U. After another hour and a half of dicking around, I've come up with something I'm happier with. I had to dragoon B into helping me, though, as I've never properly learned to use Photoshop. I'm still a bit bothered by the fact that the photo is not flush left with the text block. I will continue to tweak until my Virgo self is 100% satisfied.

So. A new name for my blog.** I hope everyone likes it. I hope it magically inspires me write as evocatively as Tom Waits.

*I know I could have simply changed the title on my Blogger settings page, but it wasn’t working out as I had envisioned, so I decided to just make it into a graphic image so I’d have more control. Ha! Obviously, it’s still not quite what I had envisioned, but I’ll find a way to fix it. Just not this very minute.

**Note that only the name has changed; the domain name remains the same. I figured changing the domain would hurl me into oblivion. This way everyone's bookmarks and links will still work, even if they aren't updated.