it’s definitely squirrels.

I caught them this year skittering off as I opened the door one morning. I didn’t even carve it this time, so my pet theory they were just art critics is…out, I guess.

pumpkin 2014



plus, the cats moved to texas

As you may or may not remember (and if not, why not? Do you have lives?) a few months ago I became concerned I might be exhibiting hoarding tendencies. How many recent Pottery Barn catalogs can anyone have under their coffee table at one time (somewhere between 10 and 8,000, is my current guess)? So, how’s the resistance plan going? Well, I’m glad you ask, because it’s definitely not a conversation I enjoyed having with myself earlier this month when I dragged out six boxes of holiday decorations, and maybe you’ll be a little nicer about it. Nothing makes you feel like a hoarder like facing the fact you own an entire box of glitter candles. (But not nutcrackers. I draw the line at goddamn nutcrackers.)

I’m one of those sentimental people (“hoarders”) who feel the need to keep things like play programs and birthday cards, and I’d gotten into the habit of stuffing those things in bags marked by the year. SOMEDAY I would organize those bags into…SOMETHING ELSE. Then I read in The Happiness Project that the author – who used to do the same thing – started file boxes for each member of the family and just made a file per year. That process at least saves a lot of space, and thins the ranks a bit of what to keep.

I decide this is a great idea! and troop off to the Container Store to find a file box or two. Of course, I stupidly didn’t realize there were such a variety of file boxes to be had. Letter, legal, waterproof, plastic, metal, wicker, decorative? Lids, open? Wheels? Stackable? I am standing in the aisle waffling when an employee came along and tries to help, mostly by asking the same questions. Letter, legal, waterproof, plastic, metal, wicker, decorative? Lids, open? Wheels? Stackable? “I dunno”, I stutter.

So he decides to dig deeper. He’s all, what kind of files are you keeping? What are these papers? How many files do you need? Is it for active files? Do you have to access them often? How often is often?

I’m all, what’s with the QUESTIONS, Riddler? Are you going to report me to HGTV? I’m forced to continue shrugging and saying, I dunno, in an increasingly panicked voice, slowly edging away from him. Lucky for me, another hapless organizer comes around the corner and I manage to sic him onto her. Letter, legal, waterproof, plastic? He starts eagerly, and I bolt like hell from the aisle while he isn’t looking. Clearly, I need to think this system through a little more. Let’s not be amateurish about it, ok?

[Note: just so you know, getting rid of things entirely, and not just shifting the blame from one closet to another, isn’t without its perils either. DC has a collection point open once a month for shredding, electronics, and hazardous materials (like paint) lined up in stations; if you’re just dropping off shredding, like we were that Saturday morning we actually got our acts together and out the door, you can skip to the end of the line. So we pull up at the gate and the DC employee cheerfully asks what we have.

“Just shredding, so we’ll go to the end,” Other Half says.

“Ah, you’ve been to this rodeo before, then?” she smiles.

Other Half stares at her. “We saw some bull riders at the Patriot Center once,” he says slowly.

“What?” she says.

“Babe, that’s just an expression,” I intervene hastily. Other Half is not great with the idiomatic expression.

He turns to stare at me. “What do rodeos have to do with anything?” he asks me.

“It’s an expression! You know? Like when you say, oh no, I’ve been to this movie before.”

“What movie? About rodeos?”

“Drive away,” I growl.]

I’ll be packing up the Christmas decorations this week, and that’ll be a good opportunity to decide if I really need holiday themed dishtowels.

Or maybe I just need to get more BOXES.

We’ll talk soon, Riddler.

let’s agree this post didn’t happen

IMG-20130505-00299A couple of weeks ago I trekked out to the Montgomery County fairgrounds to see the 40th annual Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.

As a crocheter, this was an exciting – if nerdy – opportunity to see beautiful yarn from small local farms and shops – the real wool, not your general craft store acrylic. (Acrylic has its advantages; namely, that it won’t cost you $300 to make your own sweater, but it’s just not as pretty.)

I had no idea how nerdy it would be, however. I don’t card or spin, I’ve never seen raw fleece, and I genuinely had no idea what most of these people were talking about most of the time. If you’re going to make a statement like, “I love my Ashford Joy, what do you do?”, then I’m going to need some more contextual clues. I needed a demonstration of how a drop spindle works, and saying, “oh, she’s plying right now, not spinning” does not actually provide any more clarification. I did like the sheep shearing – I love that the farmers put little blankets on the sheep afterwards so they’d still be warm – and the sheepdog herding demonstrations. I liked petting all the cute sheep, and learning about all the different breeds and how different their wool was, on and off. Hey, did you know it’s illegal to import sheep into the U.S.? But not to artificially inseminate U.S. ewes from British or New Zealander (or wherever) rams, to diversify the breeds raised here? (Think about that next time you’re on a flight from London; somebody there has a carry-on full of sheep semen. Maybe you could be a little nicer about slamming into other peoples’ bags in the overhead compartment, no?)

And – obviously – the funnel cake. Funnel cake never goes wrong.

I did not like the fact that crocheters, AS USUAL, got short shrift. Everybody’s all about knitting. Knitting, knitting, knitting. I do not get the anti-crochet bias out there. Knitting Schmitting, I say. Crocheting is easier and faster. Don’t act like knitting is hipper, because it is not. Just as many grandmas knit as crochet. And if you spin, you just cancelled out any hipness and delved deep into…I dunno, Game of Thrones-esque dorkiness there. (And I say that as someone who now totally wants to learn how to spin…possibly on an Ashford Joy, whatever that might be.) (Also, I now watch Game of Thrones, so maybe that’s not making the point I’m trying to make here.)

Anyway. Of all the booths with books, amongst hundreds of knitting books, I found approximately 5 crocheting books, and 3 of them were about Tunisian crochet, which is basically half-knitting. One of them was an entire book of Jane Austen-era clothing, which is so useful for all those Dress-Like-Jane-Austen parties I’m going to these days. [Though I note there is a movie coming out soon, Austenland, about exactly those people, so they should get a copy.] And even when you find books that claim to be knitting and crochet, look at the patterns: 3/4 of them are knitting, and the projects tell you all you need to know about the author’s opinion on crocheting. The knitting projects are cute sweaters and scarves and the crocheting project is some kind of batwing spider dress Morticia Adams – and no one else –  might be caught dead in. Or spend a second googling knitting and crocheting patterns, and see what comes up first.

Knitting Project: cute baby hat!

Knitted baby hat

Adorable! You’d make this!

Knitting project: pretty sweater!

Knitted gray sweater

Cute! You’d wear this!

Crocheting project: seriously terrifying blue scarf!

Don't act like you would have been ok with this in the 70's either.

Just…you would have been ok with this in the 70’s, all right?

Crocheting project: Victorian hand gloves!

There could be some occasions for these.

There…could be some occasions for these…

Crocheting project: Look, I am telling you that there *are* non-crazy, cute, completely practical crocheting projects out there.

...probably the same occasions that require spats.

…probably the same occasions that require spats.

Crocheting project: Yeah, I don’t know.

Crocheted angel dolls

Ok, let’s forget this whole conversation ever happened.

Other than to agree on one thing, knit or crochet:

Knitted bikini

(This is the knitted one, if you were wondering.)

Crochet bikini

(Crocheted one, which you have to admit is a little better, as far as that goes.)








Wool bikinis are just stupid.

don’t get all judgey-judgey when you read this. our cats are definitely OUT of the wall.

We just had houseguests and once again had to put them on the couch because the guest room/office is still full of stuff. Now, I know it takes some time to work through the boxes after you move to a new place and go through all the extra stuff that doesn’t fit because apparently your house is smaller than your apartment, even though there is more square footage, because you didn’t realize the stairs count as square footage. Also, maybe the ceiling, I’m not sure. We had to get rid of furniture. I don’t get how that even happened.

But anyway, we have too much stuff, and we are having a hard time getting though it. Again, we just moved. Well, 3 years ago.

When I say it like that, all “3 years ago”, it sounds bad. That’s really a small percentage of your total lifetime, so…ok, it’s bad, isn’t it. We shouldn’t still be unpacking?

I think we might be hoarders.

I mean, we’re clean hoarders, if so; our kitchen and bathrooms are very clean! And we dust! Not often! But sometimes! And Other Half has a Dyson vacuum, which he loves deeply and uses all the time, really. Plus, it’s pretty much limited to the guest bedroom, which is the Repository of All Things We Don’t Know What to Do With Right Now. So it’s not like an actual episode of Hoarders, with rotting food on the floor and cats in the walls. It’s just…stuff. Boxes of papers I meant to go through before I moved, and didn’t, because seriously, who wants to spend their weekend going through boxes of old papers? His old guitar. And amp. Too many books that I’m definitely never going to read. Magazines I’m definitely going to read one of these days.  Pictures I’m definitely going to make into a scrapbook eventually! Won’t that be great? Won’t you be excited to come over and look through my scrapbook? I *might* have too many shoes. Other Half *probably* has too many band t-shirts. And we don’t even know what’s in those baskets on the top shelf. Why do we have those baskets again?

I kinda like that show, Hoarders, and not in a superiority-complex-kind-of-way like most people. (Admit it. You judge.) Other Half freaks out when he walks into the room and finds it on TV; I think he sees an episode and thinks, “Oh God, that’s my future, and I don’t want to think about it.”

I like it because it’s helpful. I watch an episode and think, “Oh God, that’s my future, and I need to throw some &*^% away.” Which I do. Every time I see it I clean out something. That’s a true story. I think I probably need to just get a Hoarders marathon on dvd, and watch in the guest room, and pitch things while I’m doing it.

Wow, that’s actually a great idea. Did I just talk myself into a plan? Look, Mom! Reality TV IS educational!

feeling all gabby douglas today

I went to yoga class last night for the first time in awhile (yes, hatha) and I got into a backbend! This was super exciting for me. I’ve been afraid to try one for years because I was afraid I’d pop out a vertebrae (“pop out a vertebrae” is a medical term) and that would be gross. And also hurt. And also be embarrassing, since I assume the EMTs would have to put me on the stretcher still in my backbend, and someone walking by at that moment might think I was showing off and I don’t want people to think I’m that vain.

But I digress. The backbend happened, and then I got out of it with all my vertebraes still in my body. If I weren’t too lazy to make a daily gratitude list, that would *totally* be on it for the day.

yoga ptsd. it’s real.

Could. Not. Resist.

So I’m fresh out of a yoga class and more crotchety than ever, as it was specifically labeled Hatha on the gym’s schedule and yet specifically turned out to be Vinyasa.

Listen. I don’t like Vinyasa. I come out with pain in my back (don’t bother me with big words like “psychosomatic”) and can’t move my neck for 2 days (it’s real! You don’t even know!) and feel generally all around irritated by all the speediness (because I’m slow), and hardness (because I’m awkward), and, arbitrarily, the fact there’s someone in the class today who persisted in breathing loudly through his/her mouth and making me crazy. You’re supposed to be shutting out the distractions, and “panting like Big Bad Wolf” qualified as a distraction to the degree that soon I could not focus on anything else. During meditation, I took the opportunity while everyone’s eyes were closed to peer around the room, because if I identified the miscreant I was going to punch him in the throat. NAMASTE, MOTHER&*(^$R!! (…I might scream while I did it, all Die Hard-style. Yesssss.).

Yeah, that’s how the wrong yoga makes me feel: actively hostile.

I recognize this is very strange.  I can’t help it. Something about the energy of power yoga brings out my aggressive side.

Now, if I gave myself a therapy session on why this may be – and years of reading womens’ magazines totally qualifies me to do so – I could, after several false starts of blaming my mother, eventually reveal to myself the true likely origin of this hostility. My first yoga class ever was at the San Francisco gym I joined after college, taught by The Meanest Yoga Teacher on the Planet (except for this guy). He was tall and thin and nerdy and overdramatic, fiercely dedicated to the study but perhaps not the teaching of this art, the type of person who tells you how stupid you are but never explains why, or what you are doing wrong. “This pains me, what you’re doing right now,” he’d say, touching you on the shoulder, and moving on.

Sometimes he would spend the entire class forcing us to stay in one position, usually downward-facing dog, and walk around the room railing about our miserable incompetence. “It’s truly amazing,” he’d say, “how an entire roomful of people can fail to grasp something so basic.” Worse was when he would stop and direct the rest of the class’ attention to one unlucky participant. “No, no, NO! Do you see this? Everyone, look at this. Stop what are you doing. Stop. It’s horrifying, what you’re doing. Look at this man. Do it again, what you were doing. Ok, now. Everyone? What is he doing wrong? Do you even know? No. You don’t even know. Why am I here. Why do I waste my time? Eh? Back to downward facing dog!”

Worst of all (for him, not for us) was the idea of the shock we would inflict on his yogi, fortunately safely insulated from us back at his ashram in India, if he were to walk into our class one unfortunate Tuesday. “If my guru could see this,” he’d say in true grief, his hands pressed against his eyes, “he would stab a baby. You people are an atrocity.”

Since I assumed all classes went this way, I couldn’t understand how other people could tell me they just loved yoga. “It’s so GREAT!” gushed my coworkers. “Everyone should do it. I’m so relaxed and peaceful afterwards!”  Who were these masochists?

But on the other hand, I doubted myself. Maybe it did get better? Was it so miserable because I wasn’t trying? I went back, 3 or 4 or 5 times.

But it didn’t get better. I was always in physical pain after my hour of downward dog and verbal abuse, and I never learned anything except to passionately hate yoga. I finally gave it up. As far as I could tell, yoga was the worst thing ever. The masochists could have at it.

Of course, eventually – years later –  I tried another class, at another gym, and, realized some important truths:

(A) that guy was completely &*^@ bonkers, and also,

(B) no yoga should be that awful, and usually isn’t, and furthermore,

(C) there are different types of yoga, and you can pick what you like.

I turned out to be a Hatha kind of girl. I’m willing to stretch and reach and work on balance and consider trying be centered and calm and all that. I’m not always successful (did I mention my Latin temper?), but I try, and I like it. Probably better I not contribute my crazy energy to Vinyasa anyway. Chaturangas not fast enough? YEAH?? Well, your stupid guru can go – “Hmm, let’s close our eyes, now,” says the instructor, touching my head. “Try to relax.”

Oh, riiiiiight. We’re back to the part I claim to like. Well, I’m still not so great at meditation either, as you can probably tell. Stretching and breathing (QUIETLY, you BASTARDS), okay. Shutting out the distractions, well…still in development.

i saw the hunger games movie tonight

I saw The Hunger Games movie tonight, and I liked it. I think I’m “in” with this series, especially now that I see the allegorical tie to Greek mythology. I’m all about modern storytelling with allegorical ties to Greek mythology. In fact, that might be the crucial missing piece to the Twilight series. Minotaur fail, Cullen.

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