Thursday, November 30, 2006


I apologize if I've been out of touch work computer won't let me visit anyone on's's not a firewall or anything, but about the only place the net won't let me navigate is to your blog pages...and it's only blogger too--I can get to the Yarn Harlot just fine. Again, wierd...

We're sending BOUND in today.

Really, that's all I got. I mean, I finished a set of hat/sockies last night, and it came out frickin' adorable, and I"m thinking about buying some baby-t-shirts and doing a blanket stitch or a crochet edging around the edges to match, but really--Lorna's Laces, Shepherd's Sport. 'nuff said. But other than that, the book submission is kind of all-consuming.

My last reader was, as I have said, a paralegal who doesn't like my work. She made me a better writer--but the cost was a significant drop in confidence that it will take a decent reception for BOUND to counteract. I mean, what was I thinking? I gave a book about bi-sexual sidhe to someone who thought BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN sucked, and I was expecting constructive suggestions on content? Sugar, stress, and mental instability screwed with my judgment like a banana covered football screws with a monkey, didn't it?

Anyway, if I've seen distant, it's not on purpose--once my work net is fixed (and for the record, my grading program has died four times in the last three days, and it's been such a crap year in that department, I'm not even sure if this bad) I'll be back bothering you all again. In the meantime, think good thoughts and promise me that you won't tell me if my heroine cries too much in that one chapter even if you really think so, because I'm feeling very fragile right now:-)

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Chicken Ranch Slough

OKay--I was going to write about the slough of despond, but I decided that the Chicken Ranch Slough sounded more interesting than me whining on and on and on about my Goddess-benighted sophomores and the fact that I hate them and they hate me.

Unfortunately, the only funny thing about the Chicken Ranch Slough is the name.

Honestly--I took a look at my grades--I've finally gotten some entered. We do one assignment for homework--everything else is done in class. Number of passing grades out of thirty-four, anybody? Anybody? Guesses?


No shit. No shinola. Three kids in thirty four can get their asshats off their heads and listen enough to do what I'm asking--and we go through it in class, people. If they even gave a tenth of a gnat's testicle, they could pass. And then my Seniors walk in and they're sure they've got the answers and the old, fat, and idealistic do not, and I just want to rant at them-- in my 5th period class I've got 5 kids in special ed, one parapalegic who's probably suffering from depression, foster kids who are at what the district acknowledges to be the world's shittiest placement, kids who've seen their relatives gunned down in drive-bys, and no fewer than four kids on parole. Do those five jokers in my 6th period think I give a rat's adenoid about their little Advanced Placement 'arrogance disability' that prevents them from shutting the fuck up?


*whew* Forgive me--I let loose some foul language there, but I felt my facial muscles permanently freezing into the 'I must kill some dumb mother*&^%' mode, and sort of had to cut loose or blow a blood vessel. What can I say? The f-bomb is cathartic, ain't it?

Anyway, let's see, progress, progress...

Yes. I will finish one of two final edits on BOUND tonight, (God bless Mate, who managed to salvage the manuscript from my ez-baked hard drive) and, yes, I'll submit it by the end of the week. I'm to the point where I want someone else to do the final "in format" edit, but since I don't know anyone with that sort of time, I'm probably going to be stressing hard in about five weeks, and not from Christmas. I'm so excited about this one coming out that I can almost cry. I'm also terrified. I do that. Forgive me.

Also--almost done with (count 'em) the sixth hat and sockies... I'm wishing for some extra time I could pull out of my bum like the world's most unfortunate rabbit, because I want to make some for STARFISH, bless her, she finally got THE CALL and will adopting the world's most beloved little boy over the holidays, but she's got a full, extended, lovely family who will all share in the good news, so I may just sit back and watch her post a thousand pictures of joy. Other things on my "Wish I could make" list, in no particular order:

* Hats for as many of my students who ask--I make them in fair isle patterns and blow their little minds. When they ask why I do that, go above and beyond what they had imagined, I tell them, "Excellence is not a gift. It's only achieved by going above and beyond what is imagined. If you care about something the way I care about my craft, you should strive for excellence."
* A blanket for my TA--this is sort of a tradition I don't want to abandon. (Crocheted on whoopty-twelve hooks w/2 strands of bulky yarn).
* The sweater I've planned for the cave troll FOREVER that I actually have the yarn for.
* The 1/2 finished pair of socks for my aunt.
* The dress I started for ARwyn in the summer
* The sweater pending the fantastical modification that I started for Arwyn in the summer.
* A blanket for my poor little foster kid in 5th period who needs a reason to believe.
* A pair of socks for my son's size 14 (!!!!!!) feet.
* Those ruffled fingerless mitts from Not Just Socks for our babysitter, Caitlyn.
* A striped hat for the cave troll.

But I'm not going to work on any of these things any time soon, because after the hats and sockies (which at least I enjoy) I have to work on a Glitterspun ponchawl on size whoopty-12 needles for the woman who, when I thought my hard drive had cooked all my files INCLUDING the 722 page corrected manuscript to BOUND and the published manuscripts of the other two books that I'm trying to solicit to agents (not to mention several mgs of short stories and essays that are irrecoverable), sat on my couch and said "Well, at least you have them in hard can always retype them, it's no big dea...."

I leaned my head against my refrigerator and watched the black spots in front of my eyes, thinking, "Chicken Ranch Slough, Chicken Ranch Slough, Chicken Ranch Slough". Yup. Only the name is funny.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Technical Difficulties

I have lurkers! I'm so excited...lurkers--lovely people who just read to read. It's like the coolest thing EVER!!! (Ego trip much, Amy? No thanks...I just went.) Anyway, yesterday my buddy and I went a.m. shopping with the other mental cases--it's sort of a tradition with us, and yesterday went sort of like clockwork--right down to the declined credit card that should have been wide open and free as a bird so I had to used the cash card instead and now, hello, we're broke. I would have been terribly embarrassed by that moment except my buddy pulled the ultimate in holiday shopping insanity about two years ago, and after that moment I've been sort of numb to the mortification that participation in Black Friday exposes you to. The incident went like this:

Barb, my shopping buddy, decided that we absolutely had to go to J.C. Penny's for a magic pair of jeans that actually fit her. Since Barb is nearly six feet tall, with an impossibly skinny waist and an oddly wide pair of hips (Zero body fat, people...Z-E-R-O!) this is a big deal, so in spite of the fact that we'd already hit Target, Toys'R'Us and Starbucks, we hauled our sleep-deprived psyches into a (gasp, shudder) department store. And as we looked, fruitlessly, for the men's sections, Barb bitched loudly and truclulently about how, if this place didn't have a men's department, then it was going straight to hell, just like Macy's, which was also in the same mall. She cornered a poor little sales girl and asked her that question, practically bringing the poor girl to tears as she wanted to know why in the hell J.C. Penny's would put their men's dept. down at the other end of the mall, like the detested Macy's. I should have stopped her--honestly, I should have, but I was too wierded out by the people shooting perfume and the fact that every department neatly matched or coordinated with the passing one to actually be coherent--we'd been shopping for nearly six hours at this point, and that alone had pretty much cauterized the functioning neurons in my cortex as it was. So after bringing the bewildered girl to tears, I grabbed Barb and said, "c'mon--if it's not here, we can't will it here...let's go find the men's department of Penny's for sweet heaven's sake, okay?"

Can you see the punchline coming? I couldn't. Until we passed a price scanning kiosk that read Macy's on it. I stopped and looked. Barb stopped and looked. Then we walked the remaining 25 feet out of the store and turned in tandem to look at the name above the arch. Yeah. This place had a separate men's department like Macy's because IT WAS MACY'S.

We've pretty much stopped after Target ever since that day. And if the sales girl is out there, I'd like to profoundly apologize on the behalf of my friend--she's really not a lunatic bitch, I swear she's a good person. Honest.

Anyway, we got back home and I took a nappy-poo, and when I woke up (with the baby, who also took a nap w/me) everybody else was out watching Happy Feet (I understand it's a very good movie. Kewyn slept through it.) so I unloaded the car. And unloaded. And unloaded. I hid the kid's stuff in closets and under cribs (like the baby knows what's under her bed anyway!) and set aside the stuff that was for other people's kids next to the couch, along with the excessive bags of chocolate that go into little tiny bags for friends, co-workers, my kids' friends, and people who give me gifts when I wasn't expecting them. Pre-K (before Kewyn!) I used to sew those bags and although I still have an entire lexan of holiday cloth, I don't think I'll get to do that again anytime soon--now, those bags are chocolate. But (and again, people without kids have probably caught on to the flaw in my plan already, while people with kids are currently laughing their asses off at me) I didn't count on the fact that what I bought for the two little boys in Pennsylvania would be equally appealing to the cave-troll in California, and now I have to go shopping again because Kewyn has a new guy. So does Trystan, because if Kewyn got to open one, heaven forbid Trystan go without the other one...Nick, Max, if your mama is reading, don't worry--magna-guys are still available at Toys'R'Us.

So, aside from those technical difficulties, I'm still having e-mail problems from when we had to completely switch hard-drives because my lap-top cooked my last one (I was mid-book took everything I had to not dissolve into a gibbering goosemonkey until my husband assured me that I wouldn't have to type all 720 pages back into the computer, cannyagimmehalelluiaamen.) Don't worry, though, if you're trying to get in touch w/me--my e-mail should be up again by tomorrow--but then, like everything else, it may still be subject to technical difficulties.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Well, my friend's trip to Hawaii is coming over tomorrow for Thanksgiving and I'm sitting in the rubble of my home, trying hard not to think about all the housecleaning I didn't do when I was trying to proof my novel. Since stuff keeps falling off the table because it's too crowded with crap to hold the doo-dads on the edges, you have to know my powers of self-delusion are damn near supernatural. Since we have three birthdays in the span of a month (Kewyn's, Wendy's--the one bringing her trip to Hawaii, and Trystan's) I think I'm going to leave the big HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner up in the corner of the kitchen, but I will try to clean up the old battery collection on the crap-catcher that splits the kitchen from the living room (mostly for the benefit of the trip-to-Hawaii, whose real name is Paul, and about whom I now know so many intimate and embarrassing details I will hardly be able to look at him across the dinner table without erupting into a big wollop of snarking giggles.) My husband really needs to figure out what to do with those batteries, though--thank you, baby nintendos and Playschool for making that collection almost mythic and artistic in proportion.

Holidays are traditionally a time of stress for me anyway. When thanksgiving goes well, I usually dart out of the house for a walk at about nine at night, meditating on all the stuff I'm truly thankful for. Like most of us on a computer, there is an impressive list, and these are the things that move me to tears nearly every day and keep me going. But in order to get to that point where I can take a breath, I usually have to do what I call the 'split family shuffle'.

The details are long and painful--sometime I'll jot them down for sheer cathartic value, but not today. What it amounts to is that between Matt and I, we have as many sets of parents as we have children, and that I'm generally responsible for getting my mom-mom (as opposed to my stepmom, who is terrifyingly capable) to family functions. Since it's an 1 1/2 hour round trip, and it has to be made twice, it tends to be an exhaustive footnote to the day. This year, I'm picking her up, probably taking her to my uncle's for dinner, and then (if I can't appeal to someone to take her home) I'm going to my own house and my own kids and for Wendy and her trip-to-Hawaii...then, after dinner, turning around and picking her up and taking her home. My one consolation is that this year, (as opposed to other years) I only have one family to deal with, and not two or (as it has been on occassion) three. Yes, there are sometimes I am truly thankful that Matt's dad lives in Delaware.

Which brings me to maybe the one thing I am most thankful for.

Matt and I are happy. Yes, there is a possibility that he has a whole other family in a tenement somewhere off Stockton blv., and has been shooting drugs in his eyeballs for years, but, honestly, I doubt that he has the time. I'm a pretty demanding heifer, mostly, and I'm jealous of his time spent in useless pursuits--like work and getting the car maintained. So mostly I make sure he's happy by sheer force of will, and by doing this, we're both making our children happy. God, Goddess, and anyone else who's listening, I'm grateful for my amazing (and amazingly patient) spouse, and my healthy, happy children. I'm in a unique position to let the Universe at large know that I'm absolutley sincere about this--I will never take my home or my spouse or my children or my health for granted, ever.

Thank you, oh vast and mighty universe--may you spread your good fortune on all who are listening--and on the many many more who are not. Cheers, everybody--I say when this is over, we all descend on Roxie's house like rabid locusts after Lent and raid her chocolate-rum ball collection. Who's up for a trip to Oregon?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Quick Query...

Okay guys--in full bore editing mode...must ask...

"I sat in the kitchen and talked quietly and knit, rehashing the day's events."

Question: Is it 'knit' or 'knitted'? C'mon--I know I've got some English majors and a whole truckload of writers out there... give a sister some love and affectionately help her correct her grammar! Thanks a gazillion!

A trip to Target...

Thanks everybody for the concern. There really was a bomb at their school, but the little goombah forgot the detonator. Small mercies--criminals really are dumb, that's not bull. But I've followed my kids' example and have conveniently forgotten any angst over the subject--I suppose our life is often a series of near misses. Dwelling on them only diminishes the time between hits, right?

So, let's move on to how totally embarrassing it is to be me. Besides the astronomical pants size, there's shopping in Target with three kids, while the oldest tries to set a world record for how long one kid can wear the same pajamas before his parents freak out on him. Let's look at yesterday, shall we, where the following conversation between me and several Target employees could be heard.

(me) "So--have any of you...heard or seen a commotion pass by?"

(them) "What sort of commotion?"

(me) "Well, it sounds like a tazmanian devil being tortured by trolls, and it looks like a red-headed twelve-year old chasing a three-foot tornado."

(them) "No...have you tried paging them?"

(me) "Yes...didn't you hear it? They said "Bryar Rose, please drag your brother to the food court.'"

(them) "That was you?" (screaming off stage)

(me) "Yeah--and that's them...excuse me...I gotta go rescue my kids."

However, Bryar and I did keep our perspective. As we were splitting a pretzel at the food court, I said, "Hey Bryar, look left."

She did. "Wow, mom--my life could be worse."

To her left was a family--two parents, four children, aged six months to four years. They were all boys. Gimme hallelujia sister. Amen.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

THis is me, not blogging...

Okay, so I'm at work, and my daughter is rolling around on the floor eating whatever our demon-fart janitor didn't clean up (which is considerable) and I'm supposed to be entering grades (which I've done, to my credit, for an hour) and I thought I'd tell you all about my drive home yesterday.

You see, I've got this thing... I'm a naturally melancholy person as it is, and I usually keep that under control, but when I'm stressed, or, like yesterday, coming down off a stressful week, sometimes my brain does this whacko-psycho-mutant-mental thing where I take something minor, like, say, the cave-troll's chronic constipation, and go borrowing trouble from a big fat toad frog and transform it (all in my head, mind you) into, say, colon cancer in the pediatric ward... and then I sob all the way home. (Because it's usually when I'm commuting. This is my writing time, and for some reason, accessing my writing creativity occassionally unlocks the cave of this big-assed mental monster!)

So I'm doing this yesterday, and I recognize the need for catharsis (with the itty bitty sane part of my brain) and I'm letting it go because mostly I'm just sobbing, and I sort of need to do that--it's been a rough semester at ol' NHS and a good cry helps sometimes. I get it all under control by the time I get home, and am gearing up for my evening knit/feed/bathe marathon and I'm greeted my my hyper-excited middle schoolers. They come bounding out of the house, jabbering away like they got a free carnival day at school or something, and I think (for a second) "Oh good--something to totally free myself from the cathartic darkness I drove home in" and then I hear what they're actually saying:

"Mom--you'll never believe what happened to us! Some kid brought a bomb to school and we spent the whole day in lock down watching movies! We're on the news and everything."

And my brain took on a one-word vocabulary for the rest of the night. You wanna guess the word? (Hint--four letters, rhymes with truck...)

Oh yeah... it's funny--when you borrow trouble, you often end up with generous neighbors, don't you?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Vettttttyyyyy Innnnterrresting

Okay, thank you. All of you. Your suggestions gave me plenty to think about--most of all, how embarrassed I should be about the two books that are already out.

The answer? Not much. Remember, I've been reading VULNERABLE out loud to my classes--sex scenes and everything--and I've discovered something.

I don't notice this punctuation as I read out loud, except as to give my voice weight.

I read a lot of literature out loud--not just on Friday reading day, but, pretty much, anything read in my classroom is read out loud. I don't trust the readng levels of the students I have. If I'm going to be held responsible for what they know, I need to know they've understood it as it goes out. When I'm reading out loud, I look to the punctuation for cues as to how I'm supposed to sound. It's that simple.

So, yes. I'm 1/8 of the way through a revision that will go out on Nov. 30, for better or worse (more free books that way--yes, we are that strapped for cash and that venal) and yes, that faulty construction will be in part of it. But (and thanks coach susan) only on the parts I want. I will keep in mind what is still standard usage and, of course, disregard it as I please, but also I will respect it when it serves my purposes. I mean, isn't that the purpose of any law? To use it until it outlives it's usefulness? Shakespeare constantly rhymed stuff in his day that is, to us, un-rhymeable because, in his day, it worked. Perhaps this grammar construction was standardized a long time ago because it worked then. I think, (based on a survey of me, and how often I actually notice this punctuation even as I read), maybe, if the words do not SOUND right using the 'proper' punctuation, then maybe the proper punctuation needs to change. (Egomaniacal much, Amy Lane? No, why do I ask?)

So, yes. I'm going to punctuate a lot of it wrong on purpose. I dare anyone to get caught up in the fraught and awe-full language and the overwrought emotions and notice. (In short, please buy my book and laugh at me. I mean that.)

Anyway-- the break is beginning, and now that I've got a deadline, I don't know how much I'm actually going to blog...I'll do my best--it's some of the best peer interaction I've had in years. But I will be back... (Yes that's a threat!!!)

BTW? It's funny--sort of a sign from the universe, but my i-pod has been playing U2's song Acrobat for the last few days when it's on 'shuffle'. This is funny, because the chorus is "Don't let the bastards drag you down..." I sung it to my 5th period as they trudged in today--they didn't get it. But that's okay, because Right now, as the afternoon of a Friday before the break wanes and the foggy sunshine seeps under the door like a chill little mouse, I'm teaching a student how to knit. There's something sublime about this--it's hard to explain. I want to see my children--I miss my baby and the cave troll--but right now, in this moment, there's only the gossiping teenager and the clicking of needles and my stupid stories that she's never heard before, and time has stopped and I'm giving someone (finally) something I hope they will always have.

The job doesn't always suck. I hope my students have a good break--and I hope everybody else's thanksgiving is blessed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Me me me...oh crap...not just me...

Okay, I will eventually get to the meme that Rae had on her website--btw, it makes her sound like a very cool person, even the 'bitchy' for the first response, but first, I'm going to confess myself flummoxed on the one subject that I could have sworn I knew a little tiny teeny bit about: Punctuation. Okay, not a lot--it isn't my strong suit, but,'s my dilemma.

"Isn't that what you've always taught me? That whatever we need to do to protect our people should be considered?"

"Not you." He said rawly. "Risking you is no longer an option."

Do you see the problem? I didn't, not even after three books, and, remember, I'm supposed to teach English. Okay, I'm a victim of the California public school system, same as my students, however, it wasn't until I got called on this punctuation by a couple of paralegals throughout my entire 3rd (3rd!) manuscript that I went back and actually looked at another book, and realized that it's wrong. It should read:

"Not you," he said rawly. "Risking you is no longer an option."

And even as I write that second one, the CORRECT one, mind you, here as an example, it just looks plain WRONG to me. "Not you." Is supposed to stand alone. It's an emphatic statement--a sentence, even though it's not really a sentence. And much of the book is written like that. (Sue me, I like grabbing those heart strings and giving them a few hearty yanks as I go...) And now I'm wondering, is it just the paralegals, or have whole hoards of people been watching me make this mistake and tearing my hair out... and the thought just KILLS me... sort of like walking around with my pants on inside out for, I don't know, THIRTY-NINE YEARS or so... so, people, help me out--is this sin huge and heinous, should I edit it out of the whole manuscript (and I am totally willing to do this--don't get me wrong--knitting errors, I will let lie, manuscript errors I'm really anal about... I know, I know, my blog is horribly edited, but my fiction is
@#$%ing sacred. ) So, everybody, chime in... is it the comma or the period, the upper or the lower, is this form of punctuation giving way with time (the way many of our older grammar constructions have) or is it still important to us. I need to know.

Now, for the meme--I stole this from Rae (who stole it from Rabbitch), and since it was only one word, decided, hell, I can git'r'done:
Use only one word to answer each item:
1. Yourself: weird
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): integrity
3. Your hair: rabid
4. Your (step)mother: hardworking
5. Your Father: trippy
6. Your Favorite Item: yarn
7. Your dream last night: zombies (yuck!)
8. Your Favorite drink: diet soda
9. Your Dream Car: bigger
10. The room you are in: me
11. Your Ex: nonexistent
12. Your fear: inadequacy squared
13. What you want to be in 10 years? writing
14. Who you hung out with last night? family
15. What You're Not? normal
16. Muffins: no thanks
17. One of Your Wish List Items: time
18. Time: should stop
19. The Last Thing You Did: knit
20. What You Are Wearing: jeans
21. Your Favorite Weather: autumn
22. Your Favorite Book: Tigana
23. The Last Thing You Ate: chocolate
24. Your Life: frantic
25. Your Mood: dazed
26. Your best friend: desperate
27. What are you thinking about right now? going pee
28. Your car: thrashed
29. What are you doing at the moment? working
30. Your summer: packed
31. Your relationship status: sweet
32. What is on your TV? too much
33. What is the weather like? chill
34. When is the last time you laughed? this morning
35. What were you laughing about? kids

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pajama Day

Sunday was the CaveTroll's 3rd--I had some adorable pictures but they wouldn't upload period the end, so you'll just have to take my word for the grave look of concentration on his face as he blew out his candles and clapped his hands over the perfectoin of the cake. The cake itself was something of a triumph...Baskin-Robbins does not own the Cars logo, so I had them make a white cake with a brown road on it (they added some rocks and a tree) and then I put two toy cars--the Lightning and the Mater cars, to be exact, and he thought the world had adjusted itself to his specifications. It was awesome. It was a small celebration-- a couple of grandparents and friends of the older kids had the hugeomolous parties when they were little, but, live and learn, Kewyn's biggest joy was sitting on the floor and playing with his new toys BY HIMSELF. Of course, he loves playing w/his older brother and sister (and, touchingly enough, given the age difference, they love playing with him) but a rival for his two new toys would not have been welcome, and any more than two new toys would have been quite over the top. Anyway, it was a nice day, and the house was clean, and after the prep for the party and taking four kids to see FLUSHED AWAY and, of course, hating my job so badly this year that it causes an empty aching in my chest like a sore and rotting tooth, I decided...

Not to go to work on Monday.

Yup. In some professions, it's called a sick day. In my profession, it's called a mental health day, and it starts when the alarm goes off and the sobbing starts, and you decide that God made sub-recorders so that you didn't have the humiliation of telling your vice principal that you just couldn't face the little bastards one more lousy rotten stinking day without some goddamned time for yourself, thank you very much. (I once had to report all my absences to my vice principal at dark-thirty a.m.--it was when Trystan was an infant and wouldn't stop screaming...imagine, "Yeah...uhm...I can't make it in today...because my baby sitter bailed...because she couldn't stop crying...because my son screams all, no, I didn't drink when I was, no drugs either...yeah, I COULD bring him in, but remember, he WON'T STOP CRYING!!!!" Good times... too bad I lost that job, I now live 1/2 a mile away from that high school...)

So it was me, and the babies, and we wandered around the house and watched movies (oddly enough, not CARS, I guess ater 3000 repetitions in six days, Cave Troll decided that Cinderella was a refreshing change) and I...

Wound Yarn.

I love doing that... You turn twisted fiber ingredients into cute little fiber feels very crafty without the exertion of actually thinking for yourself or doing anything with real skill. Or at least you think it doesn't take skill until you let your 12 year old daughter do it and she somehow bolluxes it up beyond all recognition (would you call this B.U.B.A.R.? And if so, could you ever say it without laughing uproariously?) Anyway, I think I'm gonna have a coupla pairs of socks with a LOT of splices... no matter...

I finished everything but the many skeins of Knit-Picks lace, which is just as well because, hey, when am I going to have time to knit lace, and I even finished the twin hats and socks...speaking of bolluxed, I managed to screw up two absurdly simple pattern stitches--one for each hat--so badly I couldn't even see where the mistake began, and, again, this is why I'm a dilletante...I've got FOUR more of these to go, and I decided, for better or for worse, to simply let the errors stand. The people I work with love me enough to know how pressed for time I am--and to love the garment for the thought and not the accuracy, so I'm going to rely on their great hearts and take a little craft leniency for couldn't spot these errors from the back of a sleeping cat, much less a prancing pony, so, hey, let's call them character flaws and get to blocking on the bread rack, shall we? (The bread rack/w a towl on it, btw, is a great blocking flat for stuff that's not really meant to be pinned. Like ittle-bittle baby socks and hats. Really, only for ittle-bittle baby socks and hats, come to think about it...)

Anyway, all that aside, my three great moments of yesterday and today came, as usual, from my children. The first one made me wish I'd been born sterile, and the second and third ones made me glad I kept having the little goombahs.

The first one was when Trystan asked if he could turn up the thermostat because, hey, it was 67 degrees F. in the house, and heaven forbid the kid who won't wear shorts in the summer actually put on a sweater in the winter, but I said yes, because it was the baby's bath time, and a half an hour later I had ass-sweat starting underneath my sweat-pants and about the time I started to wonder how hot 69 degrees could get, Trystan said "Doesn't it feel good in here? I turned it up to 80 degrees!" Holy crap--I'm such a bad samaritan, I don't even turn it up to 80 degrees in the summer time!

The second moment was when ARwyn, the little genius said, clear as day, Dadad, Kitty, AND Momom... all in the same three days. SHE'S SEVEN MONTHS! I know, I know--I'm sure many of you have little geniuses that spoke at six or even five, but I swear to toast, this is the first of the four to ever give us a glimmer of speech before ten or eleven months. Holy shit--we're gonna be so under siege when we're fifty I don't even want to speculate.

The third moment was...(and this was so damn cute) when Kewyn, who, remember, saw ALL of the CARS dvd, including the short about Mater and the Ghostlight, greeted me from the car with his little cow-flashlight and said, "Mom--Mater's Ghostlight!" Clear as a bell!!! Damn, so cute I can't hardly top it, so I'll just sign off!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yesterday's Post Was Hella Long...

Yes it was... Anyway, I just wanted to assure everybody that I HAVE moved on from Red Heart--in fact, that's what my students have been knitting for the last two years... and I've got a few more years of student stash in my garage, so if I ever want to run my hand over the decadence of the dead dinosaur, I'm good. I prefer radioactive mutant sheep fur and silkworm shit, but the occassional dead dinosaur keeps me humble. (That Crystal Palace stuff with the bunny fur seriously turns me on.)

Other than that, it's going to be a short post today--Mate is in a 'watch tv' mode, which means mom gets to knit and hold adorable baby, and I'm not going to pass that up...for too long, anyway. I just wanted to try again to post that damn photo of the Impossible Yarn scarves w/the pattern next to it... shall we try?

Well it worked, but as I was trying to flip flop the Impossible Yarn scarves, they ended up blurry. Me and technology, like lady fingers and beef and mushrooms... (name that show!) Anyway, you can kind of get the idea, at least, and you also get to see Adorable Baby and theCave Troll, living up to their monikers... Anyway here's the pattern all over again, in case the crap picture helps:

w/yarn of your choice and hook of your choice (I use bulky weight crap and a P hook) Ch. a multiple of 5. (25-35 is good).
Row 1:Single crochet in 10th chain from hook. Ch 5, skip 4 chains, Single Crochet in 5th chain, chain 5, repeat, SC in last chain, Ch 5, Turn.
Row 2: SC in 1st Ch. 5 loop, (Ch 5, SC in each Ch 5 loop across) Ch 5, TurnRepeat Row 2 until you run out of yarn or hate yourself, finish off.

So, Rae told me in the comments that they shellacked (I like her spelling better) the floor where she works, without cleaning up the crap on the bottom...I'm wondering how my building planners moved all the way back East that quickly, because I could have sworn only one group of ass-toading foot-fungi could possibly be that stupid. But, hey, I have cousins back East, they must too!

Well, must go rest up--the Cave Troll is having his 3rd B-day party tomorrow... w/the Goddess' help and blogger's cooperation, I will have pix... bless the little boogersnot, he's asleep right now in an ill advised (but much needed) late afternoon nap. I'll wake him up in a minute and feed him... sweet kid, very intense, can't wait 'til he hits school like a Class 6 hurricane.

Oh...must add...I got this season's issue of Interweave Knits, and saw Arwen's Cardigan and decided I must change Arwyn's sweater to something like'll be a combination of the cover from the Debbie Bliss book and that cool Celtic cable from the Interweave mag...they're both done in the same yarn, what can go wrong? (For the love of God, nobody answer that. Let me dream.)

Friday, November 10, 2006

WIPs, TOADs, and UFO's...

I love acronyms...and I'm so in love with the title of this post that I might use it again, just for the halibut...(I'm so stupid I still think that's cute!!!)

Well, judging from the comments we all blog for pretty much the same reason...we're looking for a crowd of people who understand that what the rest of the world percieves as raving lunacy is actually rational behavior. Goddess, I love you all...

Now, let's organize our thoughts here...

First of all, FOs...

I am an idiot and only took pictures of the three Impossible Yarn scarves I finished for students and not the one done in the colors of the Portuguese flag that said PORTUGAL on it. But it doesn't matter, because the camera isn't working today, which is too bad, because, even though they are in crochet (as was the PORTUAGL scarf) I still love this pattern because it takes, like an hour, and because it's made with Impossible Yarn (Insert the bulky sized yarn that you hate the most) Muggles think you're hot shit. For those of you suffering the whole IT thing, if you know how to crochet and don't mind sullying your stash with novelty yarn, here it goes:

w/yarn of your choice and hook of your choice (I use bulky weight crap and a P hook) Ch. a multiple of 5. (25-35 is good).
Row 1:Single crochet in 10th chain from hook. Ch 5, skip 4 chains, Single Crochet in 5th chain, chain 5, repeat, SC in last chain, Ch 5, Turn.
Row 2: SC in 1st Ch. 5 loop, (Ch 5, SC in each Ch 5 loop across) Ch 5, Turn
Repeat Row 2 until you run out of yarn or hate yourself, finish off.

Yes--it's basically a fishnet, but because it's done in impossible yarn, people love you. I can't explain it, but I do use it to my advantage.

So, that's 3 Impossible Yarn scarves, one scarf that said 'Portugal', one scarf with blue diamonds in a field of yellow, and one scarf that featured a giant crocheted cable in the middle. And I'm done knitting scarves for students--sort of. I'm sure it will come up again. By the way--the 'Portugal' scarf was done in this SWEET acryllic--I know, I know, acryllic! but it's called Dark Horse, and if you have a wool allergy or whomever you're making for has a wool allergy, this shit AIN'T Red Heart.

Now, on to...


I am 1/2 a hat away from a set of sockies and hats for twins. If I don't take pix of these, I will shoot myself because right now they are so cute I almost can't stand it. When I'm done with that, I'm moving on to... ANOTHER hat and sockie set...I'm looking for a spiffy cable that can be done in dk on something as small as a babysock. Don't tell me it's impossible, I finally know what I want!

Also working... A pair of socks in Cherry Tree Hill yarn that I work on because I like to touch Cherry Tree Hill yarn and because my aunt Teresa didn't get a b-day present... she understands, trust me.

Also working...Honestly, I have made progress on this, I'm not just blowing code--I've made progress on Arwyn's Debbie Bliss sweater...I'm so proud I can almost weep. Wait until I get the damn thing done--you'll see some weeping then.


Besides the acryllic Red Heart afghan in the bottom of my trunk, (which, don't hate me, I really like...) I've got the merino dress I'm working for Arwyn. And that's it. But I really want to finish that dress--it's so pretty it makes me cry--she MUST WEAR IT!!! But first I must work on it...funny how that works.


My grading system at work has finally gotten back on line after two weeks of papers backlogging because it was fiddlefarting with it's own tick-eating microcircuits--it is back online minus the grades of six students that it decided didn't matter. You can see the warts oozing from my computer screen even as you turn on the lights in my room.

The student that I referred two weeks ago for laughing during a test who came back and said, "You didn't follow due process with that referral."
I said, "I'm sorry I didn't callyour parents, Markiel, but you needed to be sent out during the class."
He said "You didn't conference with me or move my seat, either."
I said, "I did conference with you--I conferenced with the five of you who won't shut up in my AP class which is supposed to be Seniors who actually want to learn. I asked you if I needed to move you or if you could behave like young adults."
He said, "But I didn't say anything then."
I said, "I took your silence as acknowledgment that you wanted to be a mature young person in charge of his own education. Believe me, THAT is a mistake I will never, EVER make again."
I won't be able to look at that kid for the rest of the year without seeing something big and slimy that eats flies.

The JANITOR (yes, JANITOR--I reserve the word Custodian for someone I respect) who, for the last six weeks has ignored the muck on my floor and just vacuumed the main strip between the board and the first row of desks. I caught him doing that, and, very politely mind you, pointed out the crap that I know for a fact has been there for two weeks at a minimum. He looked at me and said, "Tomorrow!" Yeah, tomorrow that big fat frog wannabe will be lucky to have a job... what an asstoading piece of foot-fungus! Seriously!!!!

Whew... those are plentty of TOADs for one week. Or were you expecting knitting projects?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Why I blog...

Hello, gang--(Rae, glad to have you back, Needletart, it's always a treat--everybody else, you knows I luvs ya:-)--anyway, I had one of those conversations with my (step)mother that brought me right back to highschool and trying to explain why the oatmeal sweater made me look stacked and not fat...I lost that argument, by the way, not because I didn't believe in my newfound hooters, but because mom had instilled just the tiniest bit of doubt in me, and every time I put on the sweater I had visions of my copious fat rolls spilling out at the sides. (When I think about how skinny I was in high school as opposed to what I am now, I just want to weep.)

So back to yesterday's conversation:

Mom: "So...blogging, I don't get it."
Me: "You know, it's sort of like an online diary."
Mom: "But who wants to read your diary--how boring!"
Me: "But it's better than that--the good ones are like Erma Bombeck or Dave Barry or Mike Royko--those columnists who could comment on the world at large by commenting on their own interests..."
Mom: "Still don't get it...who wants to read that crap?"
Me: (changing subject with desperation) "So I might be able to publish BOUND before Christmas after all."
Mom: "Well, good, I think--did you tone down the sex."
Me: *sigh* "No. Hey--Bryar's been losing a lot in soccer:-)" (Notice how mothers don't hesitate to throw their daughters to the wolves? It's a time honored tradition--don't knock it.)

Anyway, the conversation got me thinking about why I blog... and I came up with this list, which I'm going to painfully stretch to ten items in an attempt to look like a real writer. Should I start from the bottom, like David Letterman? Too bad, I talk too much for only 10.

15. Because I talk to much period. This way I have to make sense.
14. Because I've already got 'self-aggrandizement' down to an art form.
13. Because this way I can prove I write about something besides sex.
12. Because 'cranky' is charming in print.
11. Because if you don't really like me, you don't have to visit my blog, and if y ou do visit my blog, you must really like me, and who can turn down reciprocal admiration like that?
10. Because if I put 'knitting' on the blog title, I don't have to explain that Glitterspun is crap, wool is a religion, and knitting socks is a calling of the highest order.
9. Because if I put 'children' on the blog, I don't have to apologize for all the bragging that is about to ensue.
8. Because, whether I put 'writing' on the blog or not, I don't have to apologize or explain when I'm talking about crapweasels, prickweenies, or what crawled out from under a demoted demon's ass.
7. Because my students don't get my jokes.
6. Neither do my children.
5. Neither, obviously, do my parents.
4. Because my Mate DOES get my jokes--but he's tired of hearing them.
3. Because if I write the voices down I become an 'artist' instead of a 'lunatic'.
2. Because 'too much yarn' is worse than a four letter word--and you all get that.
1. Because the only cure for rampant insecurity is to share.

So why do you all blog? Whether you have blog or just like to read other people's, I'd love to hear your reasons...

Amy Lane Out:-)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Letter I'll Never Send

Okay, so my husband and I get an Entertainment Weekly subsciption for Stephen King's essays alone--and I was just stunned with his last article and wanted to respond and got all excited about posting to the EW forum and, it turns out, I've got a ten line minimum to post there. AS IF... So I thought I'd post it here, and then you all could see that for once I actually dealt with a celebrity other than the Yarn Harlot without going all Goofy "ahuyuk" and slack about the mouth. Or fingertips, whatever the case may be.

Dear Uncle Stevie:

I just wanted to say that twenty years ago, when I was young and arrogant, I would have disagreed with your stand on audio books to the point of loud, sober rantings in public. Today, after fifteen years as a public school teacher with a clientele that, for the most part, has never had a nursery rhyme read to it, I'm moved to write my my very first celebrity e-mail in order to say "Brother, canyagimmehallelujia!" (Yes, I just borrowed your own phrase from The Talisman. Forgive me.)

I teach English at a public high school in Sacramento--our test scores are dismal, and this year, after being spoiled with Advanced Placement Seniors, I've ended up with three out of five classes that seemed to have crawled out from under the rock that's under the ass of the third demon to the south of Hell. I've had to teach them grammar, and it's been almost unbearable. Besides the fact that I feel like a f*&^ing sellout because I've always felt that grammar was, perhaps, the last thing students should have to learn in their crowded classrooms, I've discovered that the reason I need to teach them grammar is that NO ONE has taught them grammar, and the whole 'differentiate a noun from a verb' idea in order to not sound like a moron when you've picked up new vocabulary is as foreign to my students as... as writing anything longer than a phone number on the back of someone's hand.

I usually love my job, but this year, with this group and this subject matter, it's been one long flogging with the shut-the-hell-up stick, and I thought I was going to have to call it quits and become an old, fat, over-educated waitress in order to feed my children, when a combination of ego and desperation caused me to do something new.

I started to read them a book. More specifically, I started to read them my book. I've self-published a couple of (in my words) trashy vampire novels that I dearly love. I tell my students this because A. It does them good to know that books aren't written by strangers in a tower with special magic powers, B. That pathetic ego thing I've already mentioned and C. It gives me something to say to them besides 'I miss my children when I'm here' and 'Shut the *&^* up.' In the last couple of weeks my Juniors have started to ask me to read to them--I'm pretty sure it was to get out of grammar, and eventually, I broke down because, hell, I wanted to get out of grammar, and the results were...


It was magic in the way I had always imagined teaching would be when I was going through school, because I chose this profession because I love stories--all stories. Stories to me are the heartbeat of the human condition, the poetry of our collective souls. I don't care if they are told at campfires (and you should hear the apologetic introductions to Native American literature in our modern textbooks--the politically correct scholar, at least, is ashamed of having not given entire cultures credit for literature simply because it was not scratched into tree pulp with oak-gall dye) or on the big glowing box of worship that dominates the living room, or on the shiny paper of Manga novels. Well, the majority of my students had never been exposed to stories for the hell of it--for no reason other than to hear a character speak and to love them for their voice. They have, in the last two weeks, been better behaved than I've seen them since August. If I say, "We need to get through this today so we have time to read on Friday" the world spins in order to finish work that they hate (and are, oddly enough, getting better at). At first I thought the magic was caused because they were told, point blank, by me, that the books were about 'elves, vampires, and sex', but since we've been through the first chapter, with no sex in sight, and they have also been told that the first scene is male/male (and believe me, if there is a more homophobic corner of the world, I don't want to visit) and that I'll be skipping the racier parts, I'm thinking that they simply like the story. They like hearing a practiced speaker with some inflection read something that is dear and intimate and beloved. They're starting to hear the heartbeat of humanity that we've been trying to play for them for eleven years and that they've refused to hear.

So when you say that audio books are an art-form, I believe you. When you tell me that they are storytelling at it's finest, I'm right on board. And when you say that they expose a novel's flaws, I want to weep, because believe me I wish I could go back and edit my own work just one more time so that these students get the best storytelling experience I can give them. I'm starting to truly believe in my heart that they deserve it.

Thanks for the excellent work, Mr. King--you should tell EW that my husband and I have kept up our subscription for your essays alone.


Shannon T.R. McClellan

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Things that don't work

Sothis morning as I entered my 2nd period class after holding the door, I stopped by the trash can and made the following announcement:

"Okay, everybody, as you are sitting there please witness what I am about to do. I am holding in my hand a candy wrapper. Notice how it is the beginning of class. Notice how I am standing NEXT to the trash can, and not midway across the room. Notice it is at the beginning of class and not in the middle of class when I am talking or giving directions. Notice how I don't ask for another piece of candy to reward myself for the proper disposal fo the first. Notice how I simply drop the candy wrapper into the trash can, without attempting to even pretend I am a Sacramento Monarch's player, much less a large, middle-aged, aspiring Michael Jordan. Notice how the candy wrapper is now not lying on my floor? I would like all of you to remember this moment, and use it as a model of your own behavior, so that I may, in the future, not have to lie to parents about whose room this is."

*sigh* Sophomores don't get sarcasm. At all.

And other things that don't work:

**Using my knitting (or my crocheting...I may have become a yarn snob but I'm not yet a craft snob) as a gauge as to whether or not it's time to go to bed. When the knitting hits the lap, I can usually tell myself that it's time to hit 'record' on the satellite and go to bed. So I wasn't prepared last night, when I pulled my crocheting off my lap with an effort and said to myself, "LOST isn't even over yet--not time to fall asleep.", and then immediately woke up an hour and a half later. By the by? Mate was still playing WOW when I woke up, just as he had been when I fell asleep. If 'The Nine' hadn't been almost over, I wouldn't have noticed the time lapse at all.

**Knitting scarves for students--it used to be a fun bonding experience. Now I'm starting to feel like it's a pathetic attempt to get them to like me. It's harder to be mean to someone who's provided you with a hand-made object for no reason at all.

**Giving the kids work and expecting to use the time THEY'RE working to do work MYSELF. I've taken to knitting in the front of the class during these times, because the last time I sat at my desk and turned around to take roll (I have to do this, it's on computer and the computer is set, unwisely, to the one side of the room where I can see no students.), when I turned back around the girl who'd gone to the bathroom at that time had had her backpack turned inside out and a candy eyeball smeared on the seat of her desk. Quite frankly, I can't afford to turn my back on the little bastards--it's bad for everyone else's health.

**Asking my own kids to 'spiff' the front room and expecting anything that looks anything at all like a clean living room. They are in school mode now, which means they need the same inch by freaking inch instructions as every other middle schooler in every other learning institution since modern times began.

**Making all of my children one knitted item a year. Kewyn wore a hat from two years ago today--he looked so damn cute, I didn't see the point of making him another one. He's got at least two sweaters ARwyn can wear this year so the one I'm working on that's really big can be worn next year and look just as cute. Bryar's wearing the hat she made and the adorable purple one I made her (the one with the two billion ssk decreases to make the spiral, the one my husband pulled the dpn out of, that one) is getting thrown around the house because I don't trust her to put it in her room without having it disappear--sort of like the sweater I made her last year out of similar colors. Trystan never wears my stuff anyway. Besides, unless this whole 'sitting in front of the class to keep them from eating each other and knitting to keep me from gnawing at my own wrists' think takes off, I just don't have the time anymore--I may as well knit for people whose faces light up, as opposed to people who roll their eyes and go, 'thanks mom...yeah, I'll wear it'.

** Oh yeah--dieting after Halloween isn't working at all. It should be made illegal for stress puppies like me to even attempt a diet between October 31st and January 1st...hell, let the chips (and Snickers bars and Twix and Christmas Hams) fall where they may.

Oh--and things that do work?

**Talking to Mate on the cell phone on his way home from work. For some reason, the kids actually let me get a word in edgwise when we're on the phone, and because they can't hear everything we say (on either side) we can say private things to each other and they can't invade our space to hear.

**Smiling. Even if the kids are going to desperately disappoint me with their behavior, when I smile at the beginning of class, I at least know I made a stab at civillity and understanding.

**Taking a break from the baby hats by doing something off the wall--like crocheting scarves for example, no matter who they are for. I'm looking forward to the baby socks all over again. Never forget the lessons of the Yarn Harlot--for real.

**Letting the housework rot. Who needs to walk through rooms. Clean dishes are overrated. Some day the Smithsonian WILL pay me big money for the bizarre mildew collection sprouting form my sink and shower, I just know it.

**Knitting at stop lights is definitely working for me. I'll never go back to cursing the idiot in front of me for not moving again.