Archive | April 2010

Octopile

My little pink octopus spetipus now has a friend.

First of all, after losing sleep that my first octopus was really a hexopus, the next morning I took off the legs and re-arranged them, so I could fit all eight on. Twice.   When I was happy with the results, I spotted the eighth leg that had fallen off the table, and was hidden from view.  Really, world?  Anyway, I suffered a nasty, painful scratch on the inside part of a finger while trying to turn the hexopus into an octopus, and I was done sewing on pink legs.  So, s/he/it is now officially the septipus.

I tried again, though, after my finger had healed to the point were I was no longer worried about infection, and it stopped being painful.

As I meant this octopus to go into E’s hands (and mouth), I didn’t want to do button eyes that could be chewed off and swallowed.  I know there’s such a thing as safety eyes out there, but I just wanted to use materials I had on hand.  So, I embroidered the face on.

I love the little crooked grin.

The official story behind the variegated yarn is that my favorite attribute of cephalopods is their ability to change color.  Really, the colors of yarn I have on hand are pink, white (I may not have kids, but I’m aware of how little boys treat their toys.  And I know that white would be a terrible color choice for a toy going to a house that contains G) and a couple of variegates.

While these guys are fun and quick to make, I have to admit, I’m octoed-out right now.  BUT, they’ve given me the confidence to seek out more amigurumi (Japanese-style crocheted dolls and toys) patterns.

I’m a long way from opening an Etsy shop, but I think that if I keep practicing, I’ll get there.

You know, if I don’t get sick of these guys/get interested in something else first.

Honestly, having something to do, even these silly little octopods has kept me sane the past couple of days.  I’ve been struggling lately, and, if what my friends and family are saying on Facebook, it’s going around. There is so much medical and emotional drama surrounding me now. (And for once, none of it involves my mother!  Crap, Mom, I hope I didn’t just jinx you with that last statement)  I know that I really am blessed, and can’t complain too loudly about my situation.

But still, what’s the point of having a situation if you can’t complain about it?

Looking on the Bright Side

Life has been–difficult lately.  I’ve been worried about not only my own situation, but health problems with extended family, and bad news from not only my home town but my home neighborhood that just seems to keep multiplying.

The net effect was to leave me feeling selfish and spoiled, yes, I have troubles, but considering what’s happening to the people around me, they aren’t that serious.

I spent last night in prayer, pleading with Heavenly Father to help me change my attitude, and focus on the positive in the world around me.

Yeah, I haven’t gotten there yet.

I have, however, been able to genuinely rejoice  as I’ve received good news today.  And I guess that’s the first step.

Gettin’ Crafty

Browsing the internet yesterday, I spotted a crocheted octopus.  I thought it was cute, then thought I could make one, a little more browsing, and I found the Kansas Hooker (greatest blog name ever, BTW)  It didn’t turn out like the pattern–I used what I had on hand, and don’t have the eyes, so I used buttons.  I also don’t like the curly-q legs, so I figured out my own legs. (a six-chain circle, then two sc in each chain, then I made a tube.  I don’t know how many rows, just until they were long enough.  I then made a tab at the end so I could sew them on to the body).  It kinda turned the octopus into a setopus–I only had room for six legs, but I’m still happy with my creation.

Like a shmuck, I tried to help my neighbor find her lost cat about six months back.  I found the cat, but she didn’t want to be found, and ended up biting me–and the scar took a long time to heal.  This is the first time I tried crocheting since the bite, and I figured out pretty quickly that I can no longer hold my hand the way I used to when crocheting.  Stupid cat.

Max was less than impressed when I decided that the top half of the body was the perfect size for a shih tzu  beret.   What a stick in the mud.

Or maybe it just wasn’t his color.


It’s always nice to make friends.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to break free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, but only if they speak English.”

One of the things that I’ve tried to avoid doing with “The Storyteller Chronicles” is turning it into a platform for my diatribes.  Yes, I am opinionated, and I get annoyed with people who don’t share my opinions, but when I get into a debate, or a flame war, I rarely have the presence to find or recall the facts that back up my opinions, and I end up sounding shrill and fanatical, and lose by default.

There is one thing, though, that I would like to say.  Bigotry and xenophobia don’t look good on anyone.

Recently, I’ve been buffeted by people wanting to ‘keep America pure’ by forcing everyone who comes here to learn English.  They tend to express their opinions through loud, obnoxious, sweeping statements.

And have last names that probably came from places other than England to begin with.

Now, logically, I can understand xenophobia.  Most of human history was protecting your family, your territory, your hunting grounds from other people.  Who and what you were comfortable with is safe, those guys from the next valley over, though…you just can’t trust them.

As humanity grew, so did our culture, but not our instincts.  We moved to towns and cities, and met people with different coloring, different clothing and different language than we have.  Different is scary.

Different is what makes us interesting.

All people, but Americans especially, should know better. America was built by immigrants.  We came in, usurped the native inhabitants, took their land and destroyed their culture.  And now, we insist that everybody who comes here conforms to the way we do things?

I’ve started rebutting people who insist “This is America.  We speak English.” by saying something like–“That’s right.  When my ancestors came here, they learned to speak the native tongue–Navajo” or something similar.  They usually don’t get it.

America is a land of diversity, it’s a part of who we are.  Granted, I live in the most homogenized county in the most homogenized state in the union, but I still see a great amount of cultural and physical diversity.   I’d like to think that by the 21st century we would have figured out that people are all the same–we have the same thoughts, feelings, desires and loves.  But unfortunately…

Hopefully the alien invasion will come sooner rather than later.  I’m afraid that the only way that mankind will realize that humanity is humanity is to be forced to contend with intelligence that isn’t human.

Yes, Mom, I’m thinking about the future.

I was looking at my archive calendar, and realized I’ve missed a lot of days in April, including yesterday.  I don’t have a lot to write about today, but I don’t want to miss two days in a row if I don’t have to…

Mom’s been on my case to *gasp* think about the  future.  She wants me to go back to school.  I DO want to go back to school, but I don’t have the funds to pay for it right now, and I don’t want to ask my parents or grandparents for the money.  I know that there’s the option of financial aide, but I’m also reluctant to go into debt for the next 20 years.

There’s also the problem that I don’t know what field of study to follow.  I love graphic arts, but, apparently, I’m just not a good enough artist to make a go of it.  I’ve considered IT, I like working with computers, and being a woman would give me an advantage when looking for a job.   I’m not sure if that’s something I want to do for the rest of my life, though.

Right now, I’m focused on finding a job.  And, apparently, I suck at job hunting.

All I know is I’m depressed, and have been for a few days.  I also decided that what I considered to be bad allergies was actually a head cold that G passed on to me.  I’m feeling better, physically, at least.  Emotionally…well, my body has gotten used to the Lexipro to the point where I’ve been sleeping for 15 hours a day, because it’s easier to sleep than to deal with the world.

Symbolism and Place

I’ve been listening to an audio book as I’ve been shuttling back and forth between Midway and Provo this week, specifically, Marisa Silver’s “The God of War“.

Several things struck me about this novel, first, I think it solves the mystery of me randomly narrating my life (“There was a print of a slightly impressionistic acrylic painting hung off center on the wall, divided into three sections.  A yellow-blue sky hovering over green ball-like trees, with a green field streaked with gold in the foreground. It was utterly like every single piece of hotel-room art she had ever seen in her life.  She wondered about the artist; what would it be like to have your work viewed, ignored and then forgotten by so many people?”)

For the next two things this novel had me thinking of, I guess I need to do a brief synopsis.  The protagonist and narrator is a 12-year-old boy named Ares.  He lives with his mother and mentally handicapped brother, Malcolm, in Bombay Beach, on the shores of the Salton Sea.

Ares and Malcolm’s mother is a free-spirited hippy type, who doesn’t give either boy the care they need or deserve, so much of Malcolm’s care and protection falls to Ares.  He doesn’t have many friends, and frankly, doesn’t realize how different his life is from those around him.

Okay, so as the book is drawing to a close, (I can’t give a page count because I had an audio book) the fish in the Salton Sea die because of pollution or an algae bloom, or some other cause–it’s not explained why, and the birds eat the dead fish and then fall ill themselves.

Malcolm, who is obsessed with birds, finds an injured pelican and refuses to leave it.  In  a fit of desperation, Ares takes Malcolm and the bird to the ranger station where a man Ares is only casually acquainted with works.  Malcolm refuses to hand the bird over, but the man, Mr. Poole, knows about Malcolm’s problems, and helps him care for the bird.  It’s a very touching scene, but as I was listening to it, the only thing I could think was.  “This is very symbolic.  I wonder what it’s symbolic of.”  I could imagine the book-club version of “The God of War”, and the questions directed at this scene tucked in the back.

It got me thinking about symbolism, something I hadn’t much considered before.  Symbolism, to me, is more the product of the reader than the author. (And if TV Tropes page, “Everyone is Jesus in Purgatory” this is a view shared by many artists and authors.)  But at the same time, this scene with the pelican didn’t really further the story, it didn’t expand the characters at all (except Mr. Poole, and that was the last time we saw him in the book) but it still managed to be, for me, anyway, the most memorable scene in the book.

The other thing this book had me thinking about was the concept of place as character.  Ares’ story could have been set against any backdrop–and not lost much for it.  But the desert and the sea took on a life of their own, and Silver did such a good job of bringing them to life that it made me understand the idea of place more than any other book I can remember reading.

I’ve often heard it said that you should write what you know–write where you know, something I’ve rejected because where I know is small-town Utah, and books set in small-town Utah tend to be Mormon literature (The Great Brain notwithstanding), and I dislike Mormon literature.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that that doesn’t have to be the case.  Yes, along with place I’d have to include Mormon culture into the story–because, frankly, whatever your religious denomination or how often you go to church, in small-town Utah,  Mormonism is the 800 pound gorilla in the room.  It dominates life.  But that’s okay, storywise, anyway.

It made me think about how different people view the church, those who hate and deride, those who are indifferent, and those who embrace.  I can write about them.  I can write about the farmers who gather in the coffee house on Sunday morning (for those who don’t know, coffee is expressly forbidden by the Church) while their wives (one wife each) and children attend church.

I know about the heat and dust and wind, and the cold winters.  I know about the black volcanic rock on white alkali soil.  I know about the plants–the sagebrush and rabbit brush, the cedar and juniper and pinyon pine, the invasive plants like tamaracks and cheat grass.  I know the animals, the coyotes and jackrabbits, the mormon crickets that come in cycles.  I know the birds, I know the geography, I know that land.

There is nothing wrong with using the Great Basin of Utah as a character, even as using Mormon culture as a character.  I don’t have to write like Jack Wayland.

I feel like a new world has opened up to me.  I can’t wait to explore.

I feel like I sound like Darth Vader.

My body has apparently decided that breathing is optional.  I disagree.

I really don’t feel like I can bitch about allergies, because I know the pollen count here isn’t as high as in the south and east, but still, they seem worse this year–and a month too early.

A combination of not being able to breathe and worry over my dad’s oldest brother who was in a serious car accident yesterday kept me from sleeping much last night, so this morning, I didn’t feel up to spending the day with Sis and her family.  Instead, I sat around the house trying to breathe.

Anyway, lately, I’ve noticed that I’ve started narrating my life.  I can’t really think of a better way to describe it.  For instance, this morning, while  I was walking the dogs, I noticed a bird hopping from branch to branch inside a bush.  Instead of just watching it, I thought:

“She noticed a little bird, a sparrow, flitting around in a bush that hadn’t had enough spring growth to hide its movements.  She was only a few feet away, but was very careful to stand still.  She wondered if the bird knew she was there.  The bush, she supposed, sparse as it was, would give the bird ample warning and protection if something untoward were to happen.”

I’m not really sure what to do with this new development.  I guess it’s good practice for actual writing, I mean, if I even have a character ponder a little bird in a bush, I’ve got the scene down, right?

Writing would be so much easier if my life had an over-arching plot.  Maybe it does, and I just can’t see it.  Characters rarely do.

It’s been a bad day.  I’ve felt like crap both physically and emotionally.  Nothing I’ve tried seems to help the allergies.  I feel helpless and hopeless.

I’m going to bed now.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

This is why people should love spring

I woke up this morning, and, per my usual routine, checked my garden while I was getting ready for the day.  I know that there won’t much change since I checked it the night before, but the new growth is always exciting and joyful to see. (I really wanted to use the word ‘behold’ there, but that just seems too melodramatic.  Even for me.)

My newest addition, the fuchsia, came from NPS, and when I got it home, it looked like it.  There’s still a trail of dead leaves and blossoms leading from my parking space to my front door.  But, I got it in an environment that the internet tells me it loves, and watered it until it started pouring out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot (just for that first watering, I’ve been much more careful with water since then) and it perked right up.

I’ve even discovered what I think is new growth just since Saturday.   And yes, that’s a “for rent” sign in the back ground, so if anybody wants to be my neighbor…

The clover continues to look more clover-y every day.  Um, perhaps I should explain again why I’m growing clover on my third-floor balcony.

See, I have dogs.  And, in a perfect world, I would be out of the house from 8am to 5pm or longer five days a week. My dogs are 6 years old.  They are good to not potty in the house, but they are getting old, and I wanted somewhere where they could go to relieve themselves when I’m not home.  So I asked my brother-in-law to build me a box that I could plant grass in for my balcony.  After doing some research I decided that clover is more dog-resistant and would require less work.  So, I planted dutch white clover instead of grass.

The package the seeds came in said it was 98% clover seed, with no noxious weeds, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I found a stranger in the yard-and-a-half.

I don’t know what that is, but I know it’s not clover.  I’m torn between weeding it out now, or waiting to see what it grows into.

Someone who reviewed the seeds from the place I ordered them from online said they found cilantro in their clover, so I’m hoping it’ll be a pleasant surprise.

Pansies are pansies, and they don’t change much, but I did get a nice back-lit picture of them:And I guess there are a lot more blossoms since the last time I took a picture of them.

The lily of the valley are getting noticeably bigger every day.  I’m pretty excited about them:

They actually look like plants, now!  Notice the straggling clover that found their way into the lily pot.

The blueberry bush was the real surprise.  It still looks mostly dead, but, new this morning, were ACTUAL GREEN LEAVES!

Hopefully, they’ll get opened up, and start producing enough energy to get the bush back to life quickly.  I want berries in August, dangit!

So, even with the clogged sinuses, the post-nasal drip, the sneezing, coughing, swollen, itchy eyes, and the nose rubbed raw from blowing it so much, I’m pretty excited about spring this morning.

Now, I’m off to play at Midway again.  Sis and I have a better idea of what we want to do today, so it should go better.

Adventures in Midway, day 1.

Unfortunately, the Midway in question is Midway, Utah, not Midway Atoll.  Although, according to the All-Knowing Wikipedia, there is a large wildlife preserve on and around Midway Atoll, and it is an important habitat for many aquatic birds.  Maybe someday the adventures will be Midway Atoll.

Anyway, this is the week that Sis has gone into hiding for her 30th birthday.  She’s not doing a very good job of it, because she invited everyone she knows to come along.  I live about 30 miles away from her hiding spot; close enough that I can go up and spend the day with them, and not worry about the dogs being left home alone for too long.  (The worry is more for my carpet than the dogs.  If nothing else, they have each other.)

Today was the first time I’d been to Midway.  It is a charming (if expensive) little community.  I stopped at the library on the way out of town, and spent most of my time reading–but I did take G swimming and played a few games.  I was also sent home with a shopping list of stuff to bring up tomorrow.

Closer to home, my garden is exploding!  Not really, obviously, or that would top the news of my non-adventure with my sister.  But the lily of the valley are growing so fast I can almost see it happening, the clover gets bigger and stronger every day, and, my newest addition, a hanging pot of fuchsias are doing well and attracting friendly neighborhood insects.  Hopefully, it’ll bring in butterflies or hummingbirds as the year progresses.

Um, I really don’t have much to talk about.  Life has been pretty quiet here the past couple of days.  After last weekend, I figure I deserve it.

I haven’t gotten forgetful in my old age. Really.

Saturday, I crashed.

When I say that, I don’t mean I wrecked my car, or my depression got the better of me (at least not until the evening) I mean a physical crash–I spent almost all day lying around my sister’s house, recovering from the whirlwind that was my birthday.

Speaking of my birthday, it was one of the best I’ve had as an adult.  Good job, Sis!

Sis and the Bro-in-Law first took me to lunch at Red Iguana, which is very probably my favorite restaurant in SLC, but one I don’t get to eat at enough.  I was very brave there, and tried something new–I’m not an adventurous eater.  I’d like to be, but that’s how I find out about food allergies.  Guess how I know I’m allergic to lychee?

Anyway, I ordered a dish called chilaquiles.  It was tortilla chips with chorizo, egg, salsa espanolia, and mole pobliano.  I’d had an investigator make mole for me on my mission, but I didn’t like it then, so I was a bit hesitant to try it here–despite Guy Fieri raving about it on his show.  My verdict?  The first bite was amazing.  The second bite was good.  The third bite was okay.  By the fourth bite, I was wondering if I had to finish it.   If anybody at Red Iguana is reading this, chilaquiles would work better as an appetizer.  It’s too…flavorful for a main course, and there really isn’t anything to cleanse the palate between the bites of amazingness, so it gets to be too much too soon.

We then went to the zoo.  G is a funny kid.  He’s the only kid I know who will get more excited about seeing a firetruck driving on the road outside the zoo than the actual animals at the zoo itself.  I had fun though–the weather was perfect, it wasn’t too crowded, and the animals were lookin’ for love, which meant that they were rather demonstrative.   G even noticed that the penguins were giving each other ‘piggy back rides’.   Yeah…

After the zoo, we headed back to Sis’s house, where I watched Sis and the Bro-in-Law work in the garden.  Technically, I was watching E while Sis and the Bro-in-Law worked in the garden, but we were outside so we could keep talking to each other.  My parents then showed up, and we went to dinner at my other favorite restaurant in SLC, Sampan.

I was still feeling adventurous, and wanted to order something I’d never have before.  The Bro-in-Law suggested ordering something I didn’t even know what it was, like “Baawwk Chow and abe-alon-ee mushrooms”.  When I told him that I knew a) the correct pronunciation of bok choy and b) that it was cabbage, he changed his mind.  I ended up ordering Empress Duck and miso soup.  I’d never had duck before, or miso for that matter.

So, miso is made with tofu.  I learned that if you are allergic to soymilk, you are also allergic to tofu.  Fortunately, Dad had a benadryl in his pocket for his hay fever, that I was able to take as soon as I felt my throat starting to close up. The soup was good, though.

The duck was AMAZING.  It was greasy, and I don’t know how much of that was the meat itself or how it was cooked.  Either way, I now have a favorite dish at Sampan.

While we’re on the topic of food, I didn’t even get a cake.  It just didn’t turn out.  We were going to make cake balls, but by the time we got back from the restaurant, we were all too tired for one more project, and we just didn’t get around to it the next day.

Saturday, I helped Sis get ready for HER birthday party.  I was born exactly one week before my sister’s first birthday, so for one week out of the year, we’re the same age.  I turned 29 on Friday, so Sis will turn 30 this next Friday.  She’s celebrating by going into hiding for the whole week.  We started to plan a menu, then decided we should go to NPS to see if there was a good deal on meat.

What is NPS?  Well…in the Bro-in-Law’s words, it’s a store that sells whatever fell off the back of a truck.  It sells food that is slightly past it’s expiration date, or that the containers have been damaged, that grocery stores can’t sell.  It also sells a variety of other stuff.  Going there is a bit like a treasure hunt.  You can find good stuff and good deals, but mostly…well…

Mom and Dad had never been there before, and had a lot of fun looking around.  I did too, for that matter.  I think I won, though.  In a shelf full of books that mostly had titles like The Virgin’s Wedding Night, I found a copy of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. For 50¢ each. That’s less than I could have gotten them for at a thrift store, for new books!  Never mind that I’ve read them both before.

I do have to give credit to Dad for that find.  I glanced at the dirty-sounding titles of the books, and decided I wasn’t interested.  He spotted Fahrenheit 451, but because he already has a copy of it, he wasn’t interested.  It made me look closer though, and I found the Steinbeck.  And those were the only two books on the whole shelf that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen reading in public.

I came home on Saturday evening, to find that a) my lily of the valley had doubled in size while I was away for two days, and b) my internet wasn’t working, and my back-up plan, aka, piggybacking off my downstairs neighbors, was no longer an option.  They went and set up a password, the little stinkers.  Hence the late update on the weekend’s activities.  Still, a little time away from the internet never hurt anyone, right?

I carefully prepared my Sunday School lesson (but not as carefully as I should have, I realized when I was sitting in Sacrament that I had neglected to do two or three things that I meant to), only to have no one show up to my class.  EVEN THOUGH I saw every single one of my class members in Sacrament meeting.  It was okay, though.  I wasn’t really in the right mind-frame to teach anyway.  I did have a good conversation with my Temple Committee Co-chair.  He just got back from a mission to England, and has a cute little accent.  It’s not fair.  When I came back from a mission to Canada, I only brought with me a penchant to say “eh”.

This morning’s adventure has consisted mostly of Lulu’s digestive tract, so I’ll spare the details.  The other adventure was being on the phone for 45 minutes, at least 30 of which were spent on hold, and talking to five different people to get my internet working again.  So frustrating.  But, here I am, and all is well.

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