Monday, July 30, 2007

Coffee or tea with that?

It is with tears of exuberant joy that I announce

the Sockapalooza socks are done.

I haven't taken pictures yet - very busy today - but I will have them ready soon. I can't tell you how happy I am to have this job off my back. I never did get my hands on more yarn, so I had to rip back to the ankle and reknit... but at least it's over.

And, this is how I spent my Saturday. Recipes this time (and pardon me for thinking, last time, that you wouldn't be interested in the hows and whys).

Tenderflake Pastry Recipe
(from the box, and the best recipe out there)
6 cups pastry flour (or 5 1/2 cups all-purpose, but pastry flour is better)
2 tsp salt
1 pound lard
1 egg, lightly beaten in a 1-cup measure, with
1 tsp vinegar
add cold water to make 1 cup

Mix flour and salt. Cut in lard til crumbly. Stir in liquids lightly, divide into 3, press into rounds. Freeze or chill for 15 minutes or so. Roll out on floured board. Makes 3 pies, give or take, depending on the size of your pie plates.

Peach Pie
8 large ripe freestones, blanched, skinned, and sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
Mix together:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T flour
2 T cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch salt (if desired)

Toss peach slices in above mixture, then add 1 T lemon juice and 2 T cold unsalted butter, cut into bits. Turn out into pie plate. Make lattice top if desired, using 1" strips (I use a pizza cutter and a straight edge to make the strips)

Weave lattice top (not pictured due to no help and using both hands to weave pastry strips) and glaze it with a beaten egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp cold water.

Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes, then at 350 til golden brown and bubbly. (I sometimes have to wrap strips of aluminum foil around the edge of the crust after 15 or 20 minutes in the oven, to keep it from getting too brown.) Try to restrain yourself from cutting into the pie until it's cooled to barely warm. Good luck with that.

Rhubarb Pie

Toss 4 cups sliced rhubarb in the following mixture:
1 1/3 C granulated sugar
1/4 C flour
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or replace both of these with Poudre Douce)
pinch salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 T butter in bits

Lattice top this one, again, if desired. If not, just top with a round of pastry out of which you have cut several vents. Glaze as above, and bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then 350 for 30-45.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Yum, Yum, and Yum Again.

It hasn't been All Potter, All The Time around here - I've actually done some other things.

Comforted myself after the initial read by making chocolate waffles with vanilla whipped cream and fresh, hot, strawberry sauce.

And this - this is my desert-island cake:

Lemon loaf with double syrup. Come to MOMMA.

Lastly, I took the first sockapalooza sock and turned it into this:

which really reminds me of my desert-island ice cream, blue bubblegum.

Hmmmm....I do believe this post counts toward my ongoing meme: desert-island items are always good.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

...and Back Out Again.

Deathly Hallows Review, with Spoilers

I'll keep this brief, since I just posted a huge long discussion on the Order of the Phoenix movie and I'm almost analysed out. Plus, I'm almost through the book for the third time and my head is still swimming a bit.

With regard to all the deaths in this book, I was slightly surprised that most of the major names survived. Rowling did kill off quite a few of the good guys, but I felt they were almost all peripheral characters. The obvious exceptions are Dumbledore (in Half-Blood Prince) and Snape, but otherwise we have:

- Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin (these two provide the "married couple with surviving baby boy" image to bring the overall storyline full circle)
- Fred Weasley
- Mad Eye Moody
- Colin Creevey
- Dobby
- assorted other folks, including the Muggle Studies professor

One interesting thing about this book is that Rowling makes several allegorical references which could go undetected by the non-practiced eye. Here they are:

- Harry is referred to throughout Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows as "The Chosen One"

- Harry gives his life to the Dark Lord in order to ultimately end the threat of evil, lending the protection of his blood sacrifice to everyone fighting with him against Voldemort

- In the Christmas Eve scene outside the Godric's Hollow church we see a statue of Harry's parents, holding their infant son, with a halo of snow over them

- In attempting to kill Harry (taking both times together), Voldemort actually destroys himself, leaving his intended victim with a scar by which his followers identify him

- Harry is resurrected after his death, returning to his mortal body to lead his followers in the final assault against evil

I do love me a good allegory - somehow it always feels like the author is talking my language. As an aside, I find it amusing that people think Deathly Hallows - or any allegory, for that matter - is "inspired by CS Lewis". Go a little farther back, folks.

Here are some I-Told-You-So's. I KNEW the invisibility cloak was important. And I knew right away the "stone" part of the tripartite Deathly Hallows was Gaunt's ring. And ever since Philosopher's Stone I've been waiting to hear the back story of Dumbledore's defeat of Grindelwald. The Chocolate Frog cards (or was it "Great Witches and Wizards of the 20th Century"?) say that Dumbledore defeated the Dark Wizard Grindelwald in 1945. So immediately I figured it was the magic version of the contemporaneous Muggle war, and that Grindelwald was the figurative doppelgänger of Hitler. Ethnic cleansing and all. I WAS RIGHT, HA HA HA!!

And I must also say (sorry, everyone) that I'm surprised and disappointed at the plot hole I pointed out in the comments to Gwen's speculation turns out that Nagini is, in fact, a horcrux, though during priori incantatem at the end of Goblet of Fire, the only spells that come out of Voldemort's wand are the avada kedavra curses which killed Cedric Diggory, Frank Bryce, Bertha Jorkins, and Harry's parents. If Voldemort had made Nagini into a horcrux while in hiding in Albania (Voldemort himself obliquely refers to this event - or at least to the time in which it must have happened - I believe in Philosopher's Stone?), then some sort of horcrux spell should have come out of his wand in between Lily Potter and Bertha Jorkins.

Or maybe there's something I'm missing, which would explain it all...anyone with a theory, please expound.

I was rather disappointed not to finally learn the 12 uses of dragon's blood, though of course one of them is to splatter on your walls to simulate your own gory death.

Snape. Let me just say that I have always loved this character and felt he was maligned, misunderstood, denigrated, and disrespected. It's true that he looked bad, and that he was malicious and spiteful to Harry throughout. However, it was always clear to me that, despite his feelings toward Harry, he came down squarely on the side of good. The line at the end of Goblet of Fire makes this clear: Dumbledore looks at Snape and says "You know what I must ask you to do." Snape nods and sweeps out of the hospital wing....from then on, it's obvious that he is fully immersed in his role of Death Eater double-agent. His talent at occlumency, brought out in Order of the Phoenix, is the most important clue to his real loyalties: the Dark Lord is never able to fish thoughts out of Snape's head, therefore he's the only possible informant for the Order to use.

In Half-Blood Prince, a lot of people, both characters and readers, felt Snape was evil after all. I never doubted him for a second. After all - he is the ultimate spy: he is focussed, convincing, poker-faced, has credibility with those he's spying on, and is maybe the only character in the book who is concerned only with the ultimate goal of defeating Voldemort. He's willing to appear odious to his comrades, ingratiate himself to Voldemort by whatever means, kill Dumbledore, and betray Lily's son to his certain death, to bring Voldemort down. I LOVE this guy. When Harry named his son "Albus Severus" in the Epilogue, it broke my heart and brought me to agonising tears...I had to go cast myself on my bed, clutching my chest and sobbing stormily into the pillows.

Poor Snape. That moment when he is dying and he commands Harry to look at him, just so he can see Lily Evans' eyes one more time...gah. Still gets me.

There's an interesting scene at the end of the book during the final moments of the Battle of Hogwarts. Voldemort puts the Body-Bind on Neville and jams the Sorting Hat down onto his head. The Sorting Hat bursts into flames, but Neville is untouched by the curse (because of Harry's sacrifice), pulls the hat off, pulls Gryffindor's sword out of the hat, and kills Voldemort's snake with it. I love that that this exact sequence of events also happened at the end of Chamber of Secrets - as Dumbledore says of Voldemort, "he never learns".

Well, that concludes (or, more probably, begins) our discussion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There's a lot I've left out: this review barely touches on 10% of my thoughts about the book, so please do comment if you have something to add. It's been an exciting ten years, watching Harry's every move, waiting for each installment. I'm sorry to see the end of it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Into the Vanishing Cupboard

As you can see, I'm all set here. I'll be in touch again after I've finished it. No spoilers or anything, but after reading a few chapters I would like to say one thing:

She's playing hardball.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dear Universe: what are you trying to tell me?

After I ran out of yarn for the Gothic Spire socks, I decided to go with Kate Gilbert's "Marina Piccola". I realized that I had the perfect yarn in my stash - Sweet Georgia's superwash in "Life Aquatic". About halfway through turning the heel, I read on my Sockapalooooza recipient's blog that she, like me, used to be a competitive rower. With the blue colour and the wavy pattern, the socks seemed more perfect than ever. I was happy. I felt a certain peaceful serendipity about the whole thing.

Then, when my joy was at its zenith, tragedy struck. What do you think is possibly, maybe, about to happen?

What do you think are my chances? I'd say, not very good.

PS: Sweet Georgia is on about a year-long hiatus and isn't making any more yarn. I can't find it on eBay. I can't find it on Google. My Obi-Wan hope is a shop in Windsor which, according to one blogger, had some Life Aquatic as of 9 days ago. But all their yarn has been 40% off since then, which lengthens the odds somewhat. They open tomorrow at 9:00 AM Eastern...this should be interesting.

PPS: The suspense is killing me.

PPPS: I'm not doing Sockapalooza 5 next year.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

You thought I'd...what is the phrase? come quietly.

Order of the Phoenix Spoilers Ahead. A Tonne of Them.

I saw it. I saw it, and it was as if heaven itself opened up and gave me a glimpse, one stolen glimpse, of a Film Nirvana I had only dreamt of.

This. THIS is a movie.

The opening scene is everything it should be. The new, more ominous Dudley is perfect, though I feel a diction coach could have been usefully employed there. As in the novel, Harry is hanging around the park, which is just as dilapidated, drought-ridden, and foreboding as the book describes.

The broomstick evacuation from Privet Drive is marvellous. Tonks is only onscreen for a brief time, but those few moments make me long for Half-Blood Prince, when we should get to see more of her. (She's Ellie from About A Boy, by the way.) Marvellous, too, is Number 12 Grimmauld Place.

The one problem I have with the Headquarters scenes is that most of the Kreacher subplot is cut out. Critically, the closet-clean-out scene is missing, and consequently movie viewers who haven't read the books will have some catching up to do when they see Half-Blood Prince and start theorizing on Horcruxes. Regulus Black isn't mentioned, nor is Dumbledore's brother. Interestingly, though, they did include the Grawp subplot, which could be a clue as to the role giants will play in Deathly Hallows. (Five days, in case you've lost track.)

Now, Dolores Umbridge. There aren't many bad things to say about Imelda Staunton, who has become one of my most-admired actresses after her performance in Vera Drake. She does an excellent job as Umbridge, and gives a shudderingly good portrayal of her manic side during the interrogation scene when she threatens Harry with the Cruciatus Curse. Interestingly, though, the film never reveals that she actually ordered the Little Whingeing Dementor attack. Nor do we see the Firenze-as-Divination-Teacher sequences, or hear much from the centaurs at all. This is not critical, probably, though it's one more way in which viewers who skip the books will know a disappointingly truncated Potter-verse.

The movie's greatest strength is in its subtlety. I read a review from another blogger who said that she "didn't get the sense that we shared what Harry was going through". I couldn't disagree more. Harry's emotions and all their accompanying struggles were plainly evident in the cinematography. The weather, the music, the lighting, the camera angles - not to mention Daniel's growing acting talent - all reflected what was going on behind Harry's glasses. I was particularly impressed with a subtle serpent sound effect they kept putting behind some close-ups of Harry's profile. It was a small, quiet rattle - very brief, but it absolutely established the connection between Harry and Voldemort without anyone having to spell it out onscreen. Conspicuously - and most gratifyingly - absent is the sullenness that is all too evident in the novel. What comes across in the film is fear and helplessness - and the viewer feels it too. I spent much of the two hours, fourteen minutes either on the edge of my seat or pressed back into the padding as if trying to wriggle my way inside. It was very, very scary. Which brings me to my next note.

ATTENTION IDIOTS WHO BROUGHT THEIR TWO YEAR OLDS TO THIS MOVIE. You are very bad parents. If I had any power whatsoever to have you slapped upside your stupid heads, please believe I would be exercising it right now.

Impressively, the directors and editors spent many key moments of screen time developing the characters and setting them up for events in Half-Blood Prince. In previous films, I often felt there was more of an interest in the "Wow" effect of spells, levitating things, tiny fairies, twinkling lights, and cool tricks than in the underlying stories. In Order of the Phoenix, it looks like the filmmakers have finally acknowledged the deeper, more important storyline. There is definitely a sense of inexorable motion toward a climactic ending, in that when you finish this movie, you feel like you, too, have to get ready to face whatever's coming. You feel like you should go to the bathroom, get more Wine Gums, and settle in for a screening of Half-Blood Prince.

The friendship between Ron and Hermione deepens. This is done perfectly - absolutely perfectly, an ordinary exchange given intimacy in sound editing, a few warm camera angles, some set arrangements wherein Ron and Hermione are on one sofa, and Harry on another - all little things, and maybe easy to miss, but the discerning moviegoer will raise an eyebrow and utter a speculative "hmmm..." Similarly, Ginny is a quiet observer of the doomed Harry-Cho romance, with a few good facial expressions that are serious, perhaps a little disappointed, but never crossing the line into either moping or melodrama. I look forward to seeing her emerge in HBP as the very strong character Rowling gives her. In this film, we do get to see her blossoming talent as a witch, too - though there is no mention of her "Bat Bogey Hex", she does a fantastic reducto, as in the novel.

Speaking of the reducto charm, I must comment that I am not at all impressed with the way in which the films have handled the spells. It has always annoyed me, for example, that expelliarmus was given such force in the movies - the victim often flies fifteen feet backwards and lands with a crash and a cloud of dust (the notable exception being Snape's disarming of Lupin at the Shrieking Shack in Prisoner of Azkaban). Even in Order of the Phoenix, which is the smoothest and most emotionally deep of them all, there are entirely too many big bangs, flashing lights, grandiose flourishes, and flying bodies. To their credit, there is a scene in the Room of Requirement in which Harry is trying to teach people not to wave their wands so much while doing expelliarmus, with the result that the victim's wand simply flicks away, as it does in the novel. I rather wish they had stuck with the understated approach throughout, but at least they've come 'round to it in the end.

The subtler charms effects are most apparent in the final scene in the Department of Mysteries. I was sort of dreading this scene, and wondering how they would handle all the advanced magic contained therein, and how Michael Gambon's Dumbledore would stand up to Ralph Fiennes' Voldemort. I needn't have worried. The exchange of curses between the Death Eaters and the Order is most impressive, taking on an almost gunfire rapidity. Most of the time they use nonverbal spells, which brings a sense of desperation and haste to the battle. One notable exception is the avada kedavra curse with which Bellatrix Lestrange kills Sirius.

The exchange of magic between Dumbledore and Voldemort is nothing short of fantastic. You don't get the impression that poor Michael Gambon is having trouble keeping up. In fact, I would argue that Michael Gambon becomes Dumbledore in this scene, and proves his worth to all those who have dismissed him as an inadequate replacement for Richard Harris. He is understated, down-to-earth, shrewd, and more than a match for the Dark Lord. Richard Harris had more of the doddering about him - Gambon's energy is perfect for a Dumbledore-At-War. He has a compelling connection with Harry, as well. During Harry's possession by Voldemort, Dumbledore is not thrown for a second. He handles it slightly differently than in the book, but his response is succinct, pitying, loving, and implacable all at the same time.

One thing I particularly liked about the film is one key change the writers made to Sirius' death scene. Sirius and Harry are standing near the veiled archway, firing curses at the Death Eaters, when Sirius suddenly shouts, "Well done, James!" It almost stops your heart. There is just time to catch a confused impression of a startled Harry, and feel a surge of foreboding at the exultant look on Sirius' face, before he is hit with Bellatrix' curse. This is almost the only reference in the film to Sirius' emotions towards Harry, and his indulgent fantasies about Harry replacing his best friend. The beauty of it is, you don't need to see all that background - with one little sentence, all is revealed.

It has often been noted that the novels' progression reflects the growing maturity of their readers. This is equally true of the films. Philosopher's Stone was flashy, shallow, overdrawn and juvenile; Chamber of Secrets only slightly less so. Azkaban was darker, more interesting, funnier and slightly more complex. Goblet of Fire took things to a new level, but still I felt that Voldemort was given too theatrical a voice and too dramatic a manner, and that Harry was not as strong and complex a character as he deserved to be. Order of the Phoenix has suddenly upped the ante. The dark is darker, the spells more dangerous. The magical world changes in this movie, from floating candles and Golden Snitches to actual, life-or-death, bloodletting. There is more at stake, and everyone, from the director to the sound editor to bloody Emma Watson, has stepped up.

I intend to move heaven and earth to see this movie as many times as I can manage before it's out of theatres. I will do my damnedest to get to an IMAX screening. I will haunt the theatres when Half-Blood Prince is released next November.

Seriously. Run -- don't walk.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Did I mention the tapdancing archaeopteryx?

"Zombies don't eat brains anyway unless instructed to by their zombie masters. A lot of people get that wrong." -Anya, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Bargaining, Pt1", Season 6.

New York City. Present day.

Beth Anne and I wanted to go work out, so we found a gym that accepted my membership number from my hometown. The girl at the desk checked the number suspiciously when I entered it on the clipboard, and cross-referenced it with her catalogue. She found a current picture of me so she let me in. I glanced at the picture and was surprised to see it was not of me at all, but a sepia-stained funeral bouquet.

Beth Anne was not so lucky - the number she made up and wrote down raised an alarm that brought security running to detain us. We managed to dodge them and ran down the hallway toward the changerooms where, strangely enough, we were safe. I found a cubicle, put down my daughter and our luggage, and got dressed into my bathing suit.

When I emerged, goggled, flip-flopped and Speedo-ed, I walked up the stairs towards the pool and had a sudden thought: "I should phone Lizbon and tell her about this place. I bet she doesn't know this pool isn't closed." I retreated to the changeroom and got out my cell phone. I was about to dial her number when there was a knock on the cubicle door. The door dissolved into a one-way mirror so that I could see who it was outside...

a zombie.

We narrowly escaped with our lives, running flat out down the slippery tile corridor in our rubber flip flops. It was only while fleeing that I realized I had bought a one-way ticket to NYC and couldn't go home, though surely by now we had overstayed our leave of absence and Mr HalfSoledBooots would be wondering where we were.


"Well is it possible at one time that you were made of stone, wood, lye, varied corpse parts? Or, earth made holy by rabbinical elders?" -Dr Jules Hilbert, Stranger Than Fiction.

Victoria, ten days ago.

The living room was painted white, with cove ceilings and sparkly mini-lights draped here and there. I frowned at it in concentration, trying to place myself. I realized it was the apartment I shared with Penny for four years in university, only with new elements here and there, a different layout, and in a different building.

There were exotic, Islamic-influenced draperies and pillows. A subtle incense perfumed the air.

Then, a knock on the door, which I opened to let in the noise of a Chinatown street and the slick of rain on the pavement, and Dustin Hoffman.

"Oh, right - come in," I said, making way in the narrow hall for both him and his assistant, a nondescript man with incongruous muttonchop whiskers.

I showed them to the sofa, and hurried upstairs to get dressed. I found my coin belt okay, but kept picking up what I thought was my choli and skirt, but turned out each time to be something else. A choli, but with the bottom elastic missing so my bosom would shimmy straight out of it at the slightest lift of my arms. A cotton t-shirt with "Pink Floyd" written all over it. Everything but the costume I needed.

I heard a shout from downstairs and called back. "I'll just be one more minute!"

Suddenly I realized more than an hour had gone by. I dashed downstairs half dressed, to see a very irritated Dustin Hoffman getting up from his sofa. "I have to go, I can't wait any more. When I command a belly dance performance I expect it to be timely."

I couldn't think of what to say, so I blurted out "By the way, I loved you in 'Stranger than Fiction'..."

He paused, considered me with a glance, and said grudgingly, "I guess I could stay for a few more minutes."


Meanwhile, on the other side of the bed, Mr HSBoots was running desperately down a long ridge toward a restaurant where Sting was waiting to take him out for dinner. After a couple of courses, Sting stood up, threw down his napkin, and strode out of the door saying, "I'm leaving because you're a cranky bastard."

The crowd went wild.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Crazy? no. Lazy and Hazy? sure.

It ain't no use; I'm plumb fetaggled.
Come an' put this team away.
I won't plow another furrer;
It's too mortal hot to-day.
I ain't weak, nor I ain't lazy,
But I'll stand this half day's loss
'Fore I let the devil make me
Lose my patience an' git cross.
-Paul Laurence Dunbar


Summer, it seems, has come at last and we're all knee-deep in moaning and complaining about the heat. I've got a fair lot of digging to do this week, but I can't manage it in 35 degree weather. So I spent this morning wandering around taking a few pictures for you, of things in my garden that make me happy.

Shasta babies - just made their appearance last week. The mama is about a meter tall.

This is what I see when I look straight up from the blanket in my favourite shade patch.

In two months this will be a beautiful ball of cool purple. See my bell string hanging there too?


I wish you cool ice tea, maybe a julep or two, and a hammock in a shady spot. Now, I'm off to put a couple more ice cubes in my gin and tonic.

People Really Come Through Sometimes.

I got a fantastic surprise the other day. Postie showed up at my door with a highly unexpected package from Australia...I looked blankly at the unfamiliar return address, then noticed the customs declaration which said "yarn, biscuits."


My heart started pounding as I thought wildly, "Can it be Tim Tams? Can it possibly be?" And it was - oh, it was indeed. A lovely generous woman sent me this:

Tim Tams, a package of beaded stitch markers, a pair of Brittany birch needles, a Lantern Moon needle case, and a skein of beautiful merino sock yarn like a lovely soft pale rainbow. The colourway name is the best part: "Colour Pencils", from Celia's Basket.

There was, more importantly, a letter from the giver, a fellow blogger, expressing her concern for the recent "tough time" I've been having, and hoping that this would brighten my day. I tell you, I was blinking pretty hard and fast for a few minutes there. But I couldn't actually cry, and you know why? Because her plan worked - this package just made me too happy.

Thank you Natalie. I am overwhelmed and touched and so very pleased with everything you sent me. How lovely.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Quiver Full

Trellis for Rachel (formerly Trellis for Grace)

Pattern: Knitty
Yarn: Paton's Classic Merino in "Old Rose", approximately 125 grams
Needles: 3.75mm Clover bamboo
Cast On: June 2006
Bound Off: November 2006
Buttons Sewn On: July 9, 2007
Mods: Knitted slightly tighter than usual due to (then) smallness of child.

This sweater was cast on for my cousin's daughter, born just before we left for the transplant last year. In the course of nature, and since other things got in the way, the baby turned into a 13-month-old toddler who needs a new, bigger sweater. This new one is on the needles now (and now I know it's a race against time).

The great thing is, on Canada Day my wonderful friend L. gave birth to her fifth baby - a long-awaited girl. Her first baby was a girl, 12 years ago or so, followed by three there are a lot of truck sleepers and Bob the Builder t-shirts in her hand-me-down bin. Along with our prayers and best wishes, Little Rachel will get the newly-finished Trellis, which should fit her beautifully in the fall and winter.

What a FO and about 300 metres destashed.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Now with fewer wheels.

I biked to knit night this week. It was nice to be on two wheels again - in recent years I have got out of the habit of using alternative transport because I am so often packing little humans and all their bits and bobs. So this was a nice unencumbered feeling.

It turns out I am a total loser and no one has the yarn I need to finish the Gothic Spire Socks for my assigned recipient. I've got the shop checking around for me but I'm afraid I will have to move to Plan B, since the August 1 Sockapalooooza deadline looms. (In case someone Out There happens to have a ball of this hanging around, and doesn't need it, it's Regia 4fadig colour 2002 - a dark currant red. Comment or email [see sidebar] and I'll make you an offer you can't refuse.)

I can't quite believe I am having to knit an entire OTHER pair of socks for this exchange. I am so angry with myself for not double-checking the pattern, where it clearly states that you need 2(3,3,3) 50g balls of yarn. So now I have knit 1 2/3 of a pair of fairly complex socks and I still have to do another pair for my Palooooza. Crap, crap, and again I say Crap.

I've moved on, though. I've learned and growed and I think I am in love with these. I bought the pattern about 42 seconds after KG put it up for sale. Now all I need is the perfectest of perfect yarn, and I will be off and running. I will have no problem knitting a pair of socks in 3 weeks (although I will be loth to give them away at the end of it). I am thinking of Fun Knits' Sweatermaker sock yarn...Shelley tells me she's got a couple of nice blue skeins, and if it works with the pattern I will be all over that like Dubya on a turban. Only with less killing. (Hi Jared!)

I'm a little surprised at how upbeat I feel, considering that I haven't yet found the stocking chart, my husband is cracked out on steroids, Gyrid would fit Hagrid, I am out of red sock yarn and have to start a whole new pair, and global warming is making my island muggy like Ontario. I think my good mood is partly due to Phosphoric Acid c30, and partly to these, right outside my front door:

Thank sweet fancy Moses for deer fencing.

Dianthus, because the world needs more dark pink carnations.

Next post I'll try to show you a picture of the ill-fated Gothic Spire Socks, and discuss a mysterious bit of lace.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Early Childhood Education, DisneyPixar Style

Spoilers ahead, if you care.

We went to see Ratatouille on the weekend. I loved it - it was wonderful. The five-year-old liked it, but the three-year-old was bored. Why was she bored? The film is one hour and fifty minutes long.

I can heartily recommend it to all adults and most children. There was nothing really scary at all, although for those of you who disapprove of children seeing adult smoochies, there were a few brief kissy scenes.

HOWEVER. This is from the same guy that was behind The Incredibles, and I must say I'd like to ask him a few questions about what he considers appropriate subject matter for children. In The Incredibles, the subject of suspected adultery pervades. I realize this is over most kids' heads, but come on: a wife finding a long blonde hair on her husband's suit jacket? Or her overhearing a phone conversation which she construes as her husband making plans to meet his lover? Or the teenage daughter saying "Mom and Dad's marriage could be in danger!" Or the 'other woman' making eyes at Mr Incredible over the dinner table, running her finger around the edge of her champagne glass and saying "How do you like everything?"

In Ratatouille, the questionable thematic element is the discovery by the bad guy that one character is the illegitimate son of another character. There is a DNA test and all. The central conflict between bad and good consists of this mean guy trying to keep the son from his rightful inheritance by hiding his paternity.

Does this not seem slightly mature for small kids? Now, again I acknowledge that, nine times out of ten, kids are going to tune out this part of the plot. But I also give my kids credit for sensing things that filmmakers think they won't pick up on. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if I get asked a "How could that guy not know he had a son, and who's the mummy?" question. If you're not sure you want your kids to be asking questions whose honest answers may include the words "affair", "romance", "pregnant" or "paternity test", consider yourself warned.

Of course, that won't stop me buying it, because it's Freakin' Fantastic. I am but human, after all, and Ratatouille was nothing short of amazing.


I have bad news about Charlotte's stocking. I have lost the chart for it. I'm SURE it's here somewhere, but if I don't find it in the next few days I will have to order another one. I really don't want to lose my momentum due to a lack of chart.

And Gyrid is finished, but sadly despite swatching and spot-on gauge it's freakishly huge and requires ripping right back to cast-on.

And I had my five Dulaan items ready but two of them accidentally found their way into the Salvation Army box and got donated. So I guess if I do win some kind of prize for making five, I shall have to decline it.

And I am at a standstill on my Sockapalooooza socks, because I need another ball of yarn. I bought two balls, thinking "all sock patterns take two balls", then halfway through I realized that Cookie A's Gothic Spire is not like "all sock patterns". I just hope the store has another ball in the same dye lot, and that nobody has bought it by the time I get around to driving the 45 minutes it takes to get there.

I don't want to sound like Sybill Trelawney, but I am told that Mercury has been in retrograde. After all this crap I'm starting to think there's something in it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Overheard at the Canada Day Fireworks

[After a series of red/white/blue fireworks causes an uneasy silence among a couple of thousand people.]

RANDOM MAN: [suspiciously] Hey...what's with the red white and blue?

RANDOM WOMAN: They were probably cheap.

Happy Canada Day Everybody

Hey man, we can take a joke.