23 May 2008

The One Where I Keep My Mouth Shut

At Morrisons:

Me: Can you please tell me where I can find the ice?

Store Clerk: Frozen ice?

Me (pauses for one beat, waits for it to sink in, when it doesn't): Yes.

You are so proud of me.

That took an immense amount of control for me not to fall out laughing, right there, in the store, with everyone watching.

To the poor boy who helped me, it's okay, sweetie, I've had that day.

21 May 2008

Calamity Mane

After an anxious, lengthy wait, my Ravelry invitation arrived on the 17th of October. I was - in California-ese - stoked!

Precisely 30 days after my invite showed up in my inbox (and four usernames later), I logged in for the first time. I'll be honest with you, it was exhilarating.

The number of people involved with this site is staggering; the variation of projects, the ease of usability... all marvelous.

And then I found it: the bitching.

I'd added someone - someone whose blog and design sense I admire - as a friend and happened to look over at the groups to which she belonged, looking to see if there was a group that I might also want to join.

One group's logo intrigued me - a Harry Potter graphic with "WTF?" poorly superimposed over it - so I clicked.

Wrong thing to do. The first thing I noticed was a forum discussion titled, "HOLLER IF YOU'D RATHER BE READING DICKENS." Ignoring the ridiculous and aimless use of capitals, I clicked the link. Again, wrong thing to do. It was a group of grownups having a three-page discussion about how reading the classics and reading Harry Potter was mutually exclusive. Most of the people involved in the discussion admitted to reading very little, if any, of the series. Argh!

I'm a big believer that an uninformed opinion is one not worth expressing.

Not only was this group disgusted by the overall fact that adults were reading books that were intended for children, but the pervasive feeling seemed to be that we - adult Harry Potter readers and fanatics, a group to which I vociferously and proudly claim membership - don't know good literature when we read it.

I chose to look somewhere else on the site. Idiotically, I looked at the forums. The first discussion I found was a group of women bitching about how they weren't interested in knitting Clapotis. Now it was my turn to say WTF?! Is this how we're going to spend our time - talking about the fact that someone else's design and effort isn't valuable because we don't favor knitting it? Seriously?

I hope that no person in the "Dickens" discussion group has watched Finding Nemo, Ratatouille or The Incredibles as an adult and enjoyed it - with or without their niece, nephew, little brother/sister, six-year-old, godchild, whomever. There had better not be one single song not aimed at their current demographic that they enjoy. Fine, yes, perhaps the writing of the HP books was not on the same level as Fitzgerald, but that doesn't automatically mean that the storyline wasn't compelling or intriguing - at least to some. By the way, some of us don't like Fitzgerald or Thackery or Dickens (I winced through every last page of This Side of Paradise and found the use of the voice of the author in Vanity Fair an intrusive and unnecessary device. I thought the character of Oliver was one of a whining, twee, weak little boy and didn't enjoy the read nearly as much as that of A Tale of Two Cities). I do hope that this group will remember that Shakespeare was family entertainment when his plays were written, not some badge of highbrow honor.

Per their discussion, I guess that Roald Dahl and Chris Van Allsburgh didn't/don't know what they're doing and that the parents who read those books to their children and enjoyed them are mentally inferior to this group of, apparently, exclusively Oxford-educated knitters.

I can't wait to see the follow-up to the "I hate Clapotis" discussion where each participant suggests a new pattern that is more challenging than Clapotis and that teaches a skill that this new pattern epitomizes and can demonstrate. I can't wait! One woman actually commented that she couldn't see herself doing all that knitting to purposely drop stitches. Really? Well, you better vet that Vogue knitting book carefully then, sweetheart, because I think they slipped some drop-stitch patterns in there. The dirty bastards.

Honestly, if you don't want to knit Clapotis, don't, but don't disparage the people who do like the pattern and do want to knit it.

For the ladies of the HP discussion, come back to me when you've read the books - ALL of them, cover to cover - and then you can comment. And the ladies of the Clapotis discussion, I'll talk to you when you've designed and published a well-loved pattern on Knitty.

I know, I know... free speech and all that rot. You know what I say? Screw you and the natural-fiber-only, it's-fulled-not-felted, I-only-use-bamboo-needles horse you rode in on.

We're supposed to be a community.

Some of us enjoy a little historical fiction and some of us choose Political treatise as our book of choice, some of us like a little bit of Judith Krantz. Some of us will only knit with natural fibers and some of us don't mind a bit of acrylic. Some of us are Zimmerman-esque in our love of the garter stitch and some of us need to use mathematical formulas in our patterns to make knitting the project worthwhile.

But none of us, none of us, is any better than any other person. It's all valuable in the scheme of things. Perhaps we could direct all this time and energy into something useful, like being advocates for knowledge and growth.

I have to go now. I've already finished the Harry Potter books, but I need to go borrow back the Clapotis I knitted for my SIL, take pictures of it and post them on Ravelry.

Bite me.

11 May 2008

Counting Sheep

Spring – now that it’s nearing summer – has sprung here in the Northwest of England. Yesterday was a glorious day and today, today, the weather was even better. Warm, sunny, gentle enough breeze… a perfect day for boating on the canal.

My BIL had some jobs to do on his boat, so my SIL, my dog and I went to the Lancaster Canal to join him, watch the light lollop across the water, have bacon butties and cups of coffee in the bright, afternoon sun while ducklings trailed their mothers and the good-weather worshipers walked the tow path.

Sandwiches made and the cabin sweltering from the heat of the day and the gas grill, we decided to go out onto the canal to get a bit of the deeply-craved breeze flowing through the boat.

We found a sweet little spot with some shade and a spectacular view. With sheep bleating in the field below us and room on the tow path for us to put out chairs and have a quiet sit on the bank, we moored.

I put Milo on the tow path for a little run and then – stupidly as it turned out – went back into the cabin to help with the chairs.

Big mistake. HUGE mistake.

In the seconds that it took me to walk into the cabin, take the chairs off my BIL and walk back out into the sun, Milo was gone.

I called. I called again. I looked up the tow path. I looked down the tow path. There was no sign of him, so I called again, again.

I looked back up the tow path and the woman in the boat in front of us pointed to the field below me. I smiled in thanks, but was inwardly thinking, “Right, you nutter.” She was far from being a nutter. When I turned my attentions to the field, there he was, my small dog, running flat out, chasing an enormous flock of sheep.

An enormous flock of sheep.

He was chasing them and barking like a fool. He wasn’t barking at them from the edge of the flockoh, nohe was in the middle of them, running in all directions, trying to chase each and every sheep, all at once.

Shoeless, I hopped off the boat, shouting for my SIL to come help. She flew out of the cabin, over the edge of the boat and onto to the tow path, lighting out ahead of me while I tried – in vain – to recall my swiftly-moving, completely engrossed, flock-chasing dog. My BIL quickly followed my SIL, running past her, over a bridge and into the farmer’s field to catch him.

Now that Milo had chased all of the sheep into a neighboring field and had sniffed the various and new interesting things he’d found, he (suddenly) was able to hear me calling his name and came running back up the hill to the tow pathas though nothing had ever happenedwith my BIL following closely behind. He handed Milo over the fence to me and climbed over after him, catching his pants in a very delicate place on the barbed-wire fence in the process. I tried to help, but in the end simply told my SIL, “You’re going to have to put your hand there.”

That was hours ago and I can laugh about it now.

Milo? Poor chap, he's exhausted.

He’s having a nap.