Saturday, September 29, 2007

More more more

Here's a hat I made with leftover yarn from the poncho:


I love this yarn. I'm considering making another poncho from it (different pattern, different color).
So T and I saw The Jane Austen Book Club today. It was good, though it seemed a little long and disjointed. Sometimes scenes were glossed over, and we agreed that they probably ended up on the cutting room floor. I was pleased with the casting, though. Everyone looked and acted pretty much the way I expected from the book, although my memory of it was fairly dim after 3 years.

On the way to the movie we saw about 80 dogs gathered on the steps of a church. I patted one West Highland terrier and stole a peek at its mother's flyer -- "The Blessing of the Dogs." Cute.

Friday, September 28, 2007

So tonight, we went to Rainer-land. But first, we stopped at Fornino for some yummy, thin-crust pizza. I highly recommend them if you live in NYC. They have a great variety of pies, a cheerful staff, and an impressive selection of desserts. Even better, they don't play any songs after 1989. The Doobie Brothers, the Bee Gees, early Michael Jackson, and De Barge all made an appearance.

The waitress recommended the tartufo, which pretty much knocked our socks off. (We put them back on before we left.) It's hard to describe, but it was kind of slices of chocolate ice cream with an accent of vanilla ice cream, and it had a crisp-but-not-hard chocolate coating. The plate was also dotted with whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa powder.

Rainer was elated to see me...not to brag or anything ;) He was a kneading maniac, moving from my legs to my hipbones and stomach. I think he has very sound judgment -- he relaxes when the music is soft and mellow, and doesn't like it when songs are grating. Before I left, he requested a belly rub, which has become part of our repertoire :)

Poncho

Here's the poncho I just finished:


And the stitches up close:


It was one of those patterns where you get to drop stitches on purpose, which was kind of fun. And the yarn -- Malabrigo Chunky -- was a dream to work with.

In other news, T and I are seeing The Jane Austen Book Club tomorrow. We might have banana/blue cornmeal pancakes before the movie :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So I just saw 2 Days in Paris (totally unrelated to Hilton). It's a new movie, written and directed by Julie Delpy, who appeared in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. If you liked Before Sunset, chances are you would like this. I'm not always a fan of French movies, but there is something quirky, down-to-earth and charming about the way she views the world that makes me enjoy her movies. Adam Goldberg is also in it, and has tattoos all over his body -- I wonder if they're real? Also, it was interesting to watch all the ways in which American and French culture clashed.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Low tech, or: shower problems, Chapter IV

A while ago, Leah wrote a blog entry about high/low tech -- how the plethora of BlackBerries, Pocket PCs, SMS messaging and who knows what else have created in the populace a thirst for low-tech -- home cooking, knitting and high-necked Victorian nighties. Well, probably not the nighties.

Also a while ago, probably in March, we started having problems with low pressure in our shower. We never got it fixed. I know, I know. It's just that the maintenance folk in our building like to give you a four-hour window in which you have to stay and wait for them, and it's a pain. Also, they're kind of loud, banging things around and yelling into their walkie-talkies. So we never got around to it.

More recently (maybe yesterday or the day before), D pulled on the shower/bath lever so he could take a shower, and the lever came off in his hand. So now we can only take baths. Historically, when I put shampoo in my hair and rinse it in the bath water, it comes out looking weird -- big and clumpy. I have no patience for hair upkeep so it basically has to look good or at least presentable coming out of the shower. I don't even get it cut -- why pay to get something taken away? :D

So I came upon the idea of filling a stainless-steel bowl with bath water and pouring it (gently) on my head. It was really relaxing, like standing under a waterfall.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

So I just got back from a brief visit to my hometown. It was for a sad reason, but I liked seeing all my family. My mother has a really big family -- they have a Christmas party every year, and 70-80 people show up (and that's not even perfect attendance). I like the social aspect of a large family.

Anyway, I finished two knitted pieces on the train. Here's a hat for D's sister:



And here's a heart scarf:



And, since today is D's birthday, he got a couple of presents from my mom:



Thursday, September 20, 2007

I saw George Clooney!

So D and I agreed to eat at a neighborhood restaurant tonight. There was a commotion out front, with bright lights and people filming. Once we got in the resto, I asked the host what was going on. "George Clooney is out there," he said matter-of-factly, but you could tell he was enjoying the drama of it.

After we ordered, I stepped downstairs and one of the employees went to the window and pointed him out. "What do you think of the beard?" the employee asked. "You got a pretty face, why hide it?" (referring to George). I didn't think it was bad, though. It made him look rugged.

On the way out, we got an even better view. He's tall, with dark hair that's mostly silver now, and he was wearing an expensive-looking gray suit. He smiled at someone nearby and he did have a beautiful smile. I thought he was better-looking in person, which seems to be a trend with male celebrities I've seen.

Rainer II

So I met a cat as friendly as Rainer today. She looked different, with butterscotch fur, very fluffy, and topaz-colored eyes, but she started kneading me right away. On my bare leg. I saw what Liz meant -- it hurts! So I have to assume that Rainer's claws are clipped, as Kitkat suggested, or else he is very talented ;)

Remember the fruit man who calls me ma'am? I can't hold it against him, for he was kind enough to hold my library books as I looked through my wallet to pay for my peaches. I was about to put the books down on a crate, but he scooped them up!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Capelet

Here's the capelet I finished last night:


The pattern is from Viva Poncho.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Goodies

I recently got a gift certificate to Old Navy, and here are two of the things I picked up:




Plus a birthday bag for someone:

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tonight D and I visited Rainer. He was quite glad to see me, and rubbed his head across the front of my jean jacket. He also looked at my hair as if he might want to eat it. He didn't, but some dogs actually do that (especially pugs).

He stayed on my lap so long, snoring gently, that my legs fell completely asleep and I had to grab onto D's hand to get up. At the bookstore, D purchased Paddington on Top, a non-sexual book about Paddington Bear. He read me bits on the way home. I didn't know Paddington was from "darkest Peru," did you?

Near our apartment, we saw a guy wearing a fluffy red felt hat with dice markings. It was probably inspired by Mystery; he recommends wearing unusual hats as a way to stand out. But if everyone takes his advice, the hats will become the norm, and presumably no longer effective.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mystery

By now, I'm sure you've all heard of Mystery, the bizarre pickup artist whose techniques include card games, top hats and insults. According to a friend, one of his "tricks" is to approach a woman and say, "I'm entranced by your beauty. Can I draw a picture of you?"

Woman (bored): Yeah.

Then Mystery draws a stick figure and writes beneath it: "Semi-pretty girl, Chicago [or wherever he is], 2007."

This is supposed to ignite the woman's competitive nature -- "I'll make him like me," etc.

I'm skeptical about this for any number of reasons.

1) Does anyone really like to be insulted to her face? I don't.

2) I thought men liked the thrill of the chase, not women. Do we really want to work that hard?

3) I don't like top hats.

But I am a bit amused by the whole thing. For a very funny "fan" letter to Mystery, go here.

Finally, I can't help but notice the plethora of "get him to marry you" and "get her to sleep with you" books. Why don't they have "get her to marry you" and "get him to sleep with you" books?

I asked D that question once and he considered it. "They'd be very short books," he said.
Today D and I were walking to his office when we ran into an employee of his, who is also a friend of ours. She gave me a hug and afterward, I had the suspicion that I held the hug too long. It wasn't a Sapphic hug ;) It was just that she was wearing a soft fleecy thing and it felt very cozy. D started laughing and said, "I guarantee she did not think you hugged her too long."

I checked out a yarn store listed in the back of Stitch 'n' Bitch today and was underwhelmed. But I have to give the owner points for his sales pitch. He saw me handling some merino and said, "Is best merino in town. Four skeins make a scarf, two skeins make a hat, fifteen skeins make a sweater."

Me: Fifteen?

Him (backpedaling): Or fourteen. Depends on pattern.

Finally, D and I might see Mr. Woodcock tonight. The poster looked awful, but the preview, which featured Billy Bob Thornton absent-mindedly torturing Seann William Scott (a smarmy self-help author), was pretty funny. I'll probably review it later.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Last night I had dinner with A and E. Both of them are teachers, and the strain of a new year was showing. I hope it gets easier for them.

I liked the restaurant a lot. I got there a few minutes early so I busied myself by reading the review outside. It explained that everything -- the pale orange of the walls, the "banal" music -- was designed to soothe. There is even a box inside with a fortune for every diner. "Fortune, no cookie," the review explained. Mine said something like, "Life can only give you what you are willing to put into it." A's fortune was more convoluted, suggesting that "by being in the moment, your personality" will transform something. Neither of us could follow it.

It was a bit of a sketchy neighborhood. Some guy offered to "show me something" and then said "You don't even have to get on," pointing to his skateboard. Then someone asked us for money, heavily slurring his words. A said, "There are a lot of people in transition," and I was thinking how politically correct that was, when he added, "That was a bit of a euphemism; I'm not sure where they're going."

In other news, I am loving the fall weather, which is here at last. It's tailor-made for biking. Speaking of which, I think I'll head out now...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More knitting

I finished a hat and scarf today:



Sunday, September 09, 2007

I was at Barnes & Noble tonight and came across evidence of a dastardly crime! I was in the crafts section, thumbing through books. There was a table covered with bargain books, and I couldn't help but notice that most of them were marked down for a reason. Isn't that always the way?

So I moved past the bargain table and perused the regular shelves. I took down the Yarn Girls' new book of knitting patterns. I've looked at it before, and came across the illustration for a cabled pocketbook that I think is particularly cute. But then something struck me as strange. There was the picture of the pocketbook, but no pattern. Someone had torn out pages 139 to 144. And there were the stubs of ripped-out pages to prove it (as well as the jump in page numbers).

So the moral of this story is: always look through a knitting book in its entirety before you buy it. Or get it from Amazon.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

So D and I saw Shoot 'Em Up tonight. It was fairly violent, as the name would imply. But it was a cartoonish sort of violence that was hard to take seriously. Clive Owen was good, and his role may even cause a surge in carrot sales. (You'll have to see it to find out why.) It was interesting seeing Paul Giamatti as a villain. He doesn't really have the looks for it, with his round face and owlish glasses, but he pulled it off fairly well, aside from a certain stagy quality when he spoke. I would give it a B or B+ -- it was more inventive and interesting than most action movies, but it did have a very rough edge.

After the movie, we visited Rainer. I think the heat was too much for him. He kneaded my leg for a while, but didn't linger in my lap, preferring to lie on the cool floor instead. I rubbed his belly, which he seemed to enjoy. I also patted Hayes, who definitely has less personality but is a nice cat anyway. DG pointed out that Hayes has the same amount of personality as his namesake (Rutherford B. Hayes).

To cap the evening, we were walking toward a park when we heard the sounds of Modest Mouse. We remembered they were supposed to perform live in Brooklyn, so we followed the music and found ourselves behind a chain link fence, through which we could see them throwing a concert. It was pretty cool. They played 2 songs that I recognized -- "Float On" and one other. A guy standing near us joked, "I feel like we're in prison. But they're in prison. We're on the outside."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The New Yorkers

I'm reading a book called The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine. I'm really enjoying it, despite the slow pace. It has a lot of fun observations. For example: "She was easy company, possibly because she was somewhat inattentive." That startled me - would you enjoy somebody's company more if s/he wasn't paying that close attention to you? And then I realized: maybe. We have probably all been in situations where we felt scrutinized, and inattention might be more relaxing.

There are two dogs in the story: Howdy and Beatrice. There are also little sketches of dogs scattered throughout the text, which I like. Part of the novel is set during the 2003 blackout in New York, which brought up my own memories of the day. I was actually sunning in Central Park, decided to walk home, and then I noticed that none of the street lights were working. As it turned out, our apartment is on a different grid from the rest of the city, so we didn't lose our electricity at home. But it was pretty outside, with all these bars putting candles on their tables.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

As promised, here's a picture of my completed shawl. It's huge! But that helps make it cozy ;)

It's a human shawl, but our extra-large teddy bear, Muffin, wanted to model it:



Here's how the shawl looks without Muffin:



And here are the stitches up close:

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Rainer, foot fetishist.

It struck me that Rainer has quite a personality. On each visit, he exhibits some new quirk. This way, I can blog about him over and over again ;) Also, it keeps things interesting.

When I got to the bookstore tonight, he was prowling around instead of resting. He registered my presence, but instead of getting in my lap right away, he got up close and personal with some woman's foot. "I have too many cats on my feet," she laughed; I guess she was a cat owner?

Then he meandered over to the man standing next to her, and really gave in to full-fledged foot ecstasy. He wound around the guy's ankles and made lapping motions at his feet. Whether he actually licked them or not, I don't know.

Then he got into my lap. D observed that Rainer likes all my attention. When I talk to others, he gets restless. So I sang to him, and patted him, and he became relaxed and content.
Knitting bloggers shake me out of my rut with ideas for new things to make -- but they also send me straight to the yarn store ;) Fortunately, I'm learning how to economize. Cascade, at $7 for 220 yards of pure wool, is an especially good deal. That's probably enough for two hats.

Here are the three skeins I bought:



One of the skeins is for a gift. The raspberry yarn and the green ball are wool, while the blue skein is cotton.

A little girl spun my yarn in the store and chided her mother, "You're going to have to learn to spin sometime. Do you think I'll be living with you forever?"

Insomnia strikes again

I can't sleep.

I know people say that if you have insomnia, it's probably a sign of some deep anxiety. Unfortunately, the things that flick through my head when I can't sleep are as follows:

1) The skin on my collarbone feels weird. Maybe it will be better if I lie on my side? No, then my arm will fall asleep. Guess I'll get up and blog.

2) All the songs from Rubber Soul (a Beatles album I recently rediscovered).

The shawl I'm working on is taking forever. It has 90 rows (or it will when it's finished), and each row has 100+ stitches (160 in the beginning, but there have been periodic decreases). However, I love the colors. The finished product might be too busy, but making stripes is fun. I'll just wear it with a very subdued top ;)

Am pondering whether to see that ping-pong movie with Christopher Walken. I am definitely a fan of his, but I read once that he'll take any role he's offered. Fortunately, it hasn't scarred his reputation. But it means I always think about it before I head to the cineplex.