on knitting and healing and other stuff

Archive for February, 2007

Time Off for Good Behavior

Posted by Janis on February 28, 2007

kionfloor.jpgMeet Kiowa, special guest blog dog for this week. Ki is an exotic mix of — what? — maybe some shepherd, some husky, some wolf? We’re not sure, but we love him. He belongs to one of my oldest friends, Jen.

Jen and I were having coffee the other day, bemoaning the havoc that winter has wreaked on our over-40 faces and skin. Jen came up with a great idea, one that will surely take off if we can just get everyone behind it. Here it is: As you go through life, you only get lines and wrinkles and dark spots and flakies if you’re a rotten person. If you are a virtuous person, good to others and yourself, follow the Golden Rule and the Boy Scout motto — you age gracefully and stay timelessly lovely forever. As it stands now, the rich stay lovely because they can afford to have the work done. In the future, good souls will stay lovely and money won’t be able to buy you doodah.

What’s really appealing is that everyone has the raw materials to compete, it’s a level playing field. (Well, sociopaths might have a rough go of it.) The rules are simple and we learn them as children. We can take responsibility from the get-go. And before anyone is offended that I am being ageist, let me say this: On a good day, I feel I’ve earned every line and wrinkle and don’t mind the silver strands and extra pounds. (OK, OK, so I never don’t mind the extra pounds, but that’s all my bad.) On a not-so-good day, I can feel pretty invisible in the youth culture at large. It’s a macro-level thing: when I’m teaching college or middle school students, I’m engaged with inviduals and it’s all good. Out in the world is where it gets dodgy. I wouldn’t walk into a record store if you paid me. I can walk through any store in the mall except the Williams-Sonoma without being asked if I need help. There’s a certain freedom to it, really.

But I’d still go with Jen’s plan any day. As long as it would start immediately and not retroactively — if my college years counted, I’d probably look a lot worse than I do now.


Posted in Random, The Blog Dogs | 5 Comments »


Posted by Janis on February 26, 2007

kacha.JPGThat is the sound of the row counter clicking and the clock ticking for me to finish the Sock Exchange socks on time for our heroine Somerset. They MUST go in the mail on Wednesday (this Wednesday, imp!) — only 52 hours to go!

* Update, Thursday morning:  Did I say Wednesday? I meant Friday… yeah, Friday! Almost there…

Posted in On the Needles | 5 Comments »

The Imp of the Perverse

Posted by Janis on February 25, 2007

I am in one of my ruts. So much to do, so little will to actually do it. For example: Friday was a beautiful sunny day.gargoylearc1.jpg I had a couple of meetings earlier in the day, then the whole afternoon free. Free! I could take the dogs for a long walk, I could sit outside and read, I could clean my grubby house, I could do our taxes so we could get our big fat refund, I could grade papers for my Monday night university students so they know if they’re passing or not, I could work on Somerset’s socks so they’d be in the mail on time.

I took a nap. The nap took place in a delightful sunbeam coming in my window just so, it’s true, but still… I took a nap. Of course, I didn’t sleep all night. I got up and started knitting. But the beautiful afternoon was gone and I’d squandered it on sleep. It must be said right here and now that I am not one of the poor souls who does not sleep well at night, suffers from insomnia, or simply cannot get to bed at a reasonable hour. Oh no, not me. I have my 8-9 hours every night, like clockwork. So it must be something else that compels me to fritter away my time this way. It must be what Edgar Allan Poe called “the imp of the perverse.” Bear with me for a rather long passage of that famous tale and see if it sounds familiar at all:

“We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow; and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. To-morrow arrives, and with it a more impatient anxiety to do our duty, but with this very increase of anxiety arrives, also, a nameless, a positively fearful, because unfathomable, craving for delay. This craving gathers strength as the moments fly. The last hour for action is at hand. We tremble with the violence of the conflict within us, – of the definite with the indefinite – of the substance with the shadow. But, if the contest has proceeded thus far, it is the shadow which prevails, – we struggle in vain. The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer-note to the ghost that has so long over-awed us. It flies – it disappears – we are free. The old energy returns. We will labour now. Alas, it is too late! …

Examine these and similar actions as we will, we shall find them resulting solely from the spirit of the Perverse. We perpetrate them merely because we feel that we should not. Beyond or behind this, there is no intelligible principle. And we might, indeed, deem this perverseness a direct instigation of the Arch-Fiend, were it not occasionally known to operate in furtherance of good.

I have said thus much, that in some measure I may answer your question, that I may explain to you why I am here, that I may assign to you something that shall have at least the faint aspect of a cause for my wearing these fetters, and for my tenanting this cell of the condemned. Had I not been thus prolix, you might either have misunderstood me altogether; or with the rabble, you might have fancied me mad. As it is, you will easily perceive that I am one of the many uncounted victims of the Imp of the Perverse.” – Edgar Allan Poe

Alas, if only Edgar Allan had instructed us how to get rid of the little bastard.

* Holy imp of the perverse, Batman! I just stumbled on how to make the text wrap around the image! I guess the imp is good for something, after all…

Posted in Impish | 2 Comments »

Happy Birthday, Janis Rae!

Posted by Janis on February 22, 2007

Today is the birthday of my namesake, Janis Rae. It’s about the coolest thing in the world to have your best friend from growing up name her little girl after you. It’s even better when the little one is growing into an amazing young person. Happy birthday, JR!

* And happy birthday to Kay on the 18th. What a friend, what a mom!

Posted in Random | 2 Comments »


Posted by Janis on February 22, 2007

deskritus, n., knit*therapese Useless bits of crap that can’t be knit with, found in a desk or bureau.

There’s gotta be a special word for all the weird things that get pushed to the back of your desk. Or to be more precise, my desk. These are little scraps and tchotchkes, oddments picked up along the way that have just never found a permanent home. (Like the garbage can.) Here’s what I’m talkin’ about: deskdet.JPG . From left to right: a miniature cell phone kimono (Chinatown, Chicago, 2004), an unidentified package of negatives, a floppy disk with theatre reviews I wrote in 1998, the jump drive I bought as a gift for my summer teaching assistant in 2005 — but never gave her, apparently, though I thought I had, a perpetual calendar my grandparents brought back from when they lived in Aruba (1966-67) that’s perpetual only until 1986. Oh, and another one of my name labels. I only got those in October (2006).

This is the result of my Mercury-in-retrograde retro-activity. A mess of deskritus, and not a skein of yarn in the lot.

Posted in Random | 3 Comments »

Special Guest Blog Dog

Posted by Janis on February 19, 2007

riley1.JPG Meet Riley. He and Dad are down for the weekend. Riley’s a Lab mix, 7 years old, adopted from the Jefferson City Animal Shelter as a puppy. He’s a very smart little dog and is known to the family as the FLF (funny little fellow). He gets along swimmingly with June, Harry, and Coco, so we love having him (and Dad!) visit.

Posted in The Blog Dogs | 1 Comment »

I Still Knit

Posted by Janis on February 19, 2007

Yeah, I’ve been knitting amongst all this blogging. Somerset’s first sock is to the heel, with a slight pause for knitting a Valentine giftie for Orestes. mouse.JPGHe’s been playing reggae music lately with a couple of guys, so everything at our house is reggae these days, mon. This little guy has a T-shirt and jams coming, too. The mouse is a pattern from the Tracy Ullman/Melanie Clark book, reprinted in the December issue of Knitting (Brit knit mag), sent to me by my fabulous secret pal, floppity. (Real identity yet to be revealed.) The short row shaping of the butt — delicately referred to in the pattern as “Seat shaping” — and face made me kinda crazy. I ripped the seat out once and redid it, but still had a fancy eyelet detail incorporated into the design. I darned it. And thank you, Mrs. Wickham, for making all of us in Girl Scout Troop #44 learn to darn socks in 1969. (This was against all my better judgment as a budding 11 year-old feminist — I wanted to learn how to burn my bra — who knew?)

One change I made to the pattern was to make the tail with I-cord instead of knitting it flat and seaming. That was an improvement, I think. If I were to make any more of these little rodents, I’d do the arms and legs on dpn’s in tiny circles, to avoid the very ugly seaming job I did on them. The little feet are terribly misshapen, too — in my rush, I seamed the legs first. I was supposed to do the feet, then the legs. So I’ll be knitting him some little shoes, too. Not only do I love my husband, I gave a rat’s ass. (And the rest of him, too.)

Back to Somerset’s socks…

Posted in On the Needles | Leave a Comment »

Happy (Lunar) New Year

Posted by Janis on February 17, 2007


It’s the Year of the Pig. And not only the Year of the Pig, but the Year of the Golden Pig, an especially auspicious event which only happens either once every 60 years or once every 600 years, depending on the source. (It certainly seems to me that something that rolls around only once every 600 years trumps a measly 60 any day, but that’s just me.) Being a Pig myself (born in 1959), I’m thinking this could be a great year. I’m also thinking, “Yeah, I’m up for a great year, after last year.” So we’ll see. So far so good, anyway — we stayed home and ordered in Chinese for dinner. (Before you excited — no, it’s not carry-out Cracker Jacks, with a prize in every package. I added Pucca and Garu at home, for visual effect. But it would be cool if the Wok would put little figures in each container. Collect the whole set…)

Happy New Year, everyone. May the Golden Pig bring you much happiness and prosperity this year.

porkypig1.gif That’s all, folks.

Posted in Random | 2 Comments »

Mercury’s in Retrograde

Posted by Janis on February 16, 2007

mercury.jpgFrom now until March 7, the planet Mercury is in retrograde. Never mind the astronomy involved in understanding that — this is big news for anyone who needs to communicate clearly, catch a plane, bus, or train, email a boss, or start a new project in the next 3 weeks.

I am no expert on astrology, but I know from personal experience what a wrench Mercury in retrograde can throw into the works. In my former life as a touring player in the Omaha Magic Theatre (no rabbits out of hats), if Mercury was in retrograde when we set out on a tour, we’d double and triple check every list we had. (I realize this is normal behavior for the Virgos among us — bully for you.) If we didn’t, we’d leave behind half the costumes or the set or, worse yet, the per diem cash. I’ve had bills mysteriously disappear somewhere between my mailbox and Palatine, Illinois (where all credit card bills seem to be paid), phone messages eaten by wayward machines, and comments made in jest terribly misinterpreted. (OK, I’m a Sagittarius, so that can happen anytime.)

Here’s a hint to get through these retrograde times. I didn’t think this up, but once I learned it, it made things a ton easier. Here goes:

1) This is a great time to clean off your desk, organize your stash, your closets, your life. In other words, go retro. Tidy up your past so you’re ready to move forward.

2) That said, you may already realize this is not the best time to start new projects, if you can keep from it. If you gotta, make lots of lists. Check ’em twice. Explain yourself thoroughly. Keep your fingers crossed.

3) You might want to follow up on any very important correspondence sent during these times. Just sayin’…

I am now removing my tall, pointy hat with the stars and moon on it, snuffing out the patchouli incense, and turning off the New Age music. It’s time to clean my freakin’ desk.mercurywithwings.jpg

Posted in Random | 2 Comments »

* ahem * NOW open for comments…

Posted by Janis on February 15, 2007

Let’s see if I have finally unchecked all the boxes necessary for comments to be made. Two days of sun in a row here — maybe my brain is finally clearing enough to understand WordPress-ese… Thanks to Knitty-pal Janelle for testing earlier today.

Posted in Bloggish | 3 Comments »