Tuesday, January 31, 2006
And I will TOTALLY BE THERE when The DaVinci Code opens in May! Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou are completely wrong for Robert and Sophie (in my humble opinion, of course!), but it also has Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, and Alfred Molina. Oh my!
And besides, the book pisses Catholics off, which is always fun.
Monday, January 30, 2006
I finished The Historian, which I started about a week before Christmas. It was a present for Rick, and he dug in immediately, so I had to sneak in chapters when he wasn’t reading. The Historian is essentially a vampire story. But it is a vampire story written from the points of view of historians who find themselves caught up in something they never would have dreamed of—the pursuit of Dracula, otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler, who they have reason to believe is, in fact, alive.
I don’t want to give anything away, because y’all know how much I hate doing that, so I won’t go into details about Dracula or why the main characters are driven in their quest. That is the legend aspect of the book. But I do want to at least mention the historical aspect. The Historian takes place from roughly 1930 to 1970 and also delves back in history as far as the early fifteenth century, primarily in eastern Europe. The backdrop of the Cold War is ever-present in the more modern setting, adding to the tension of the story. The historians travel thoughout Europe in their quest; settings such as Istanbul and Budapest become characters of the novel themselves—and have, of course, sparked a great interest in East European travel in my husband.
This book was a very slow read for me—normally, I devour books, putting everything else in my life on hold until “The End”. (Which is why I can’t re-read the Harry Potter books during the semester). This book was different. It is slowly paced, which was a wonderful change from a lot of modern fiction, with its Wham-Bam, movie-style approach. You imagine the writer thinking, “Okay, it’s been 15 pages since any action occurred, I’d better throw in a scary note sent to the protagonist for suspense!” The Historian is punctuated by long periods of inaction—sometimes, you must wade through forty pages of letters and documents before a break.
Which adds to its charm, actually. It’s been awhile since I had to struggle through a novel—at some points, when Rick would ask how the book was coming, I’d answer, “I’ve got all these letters to get through and I just don’t feel like reading this right now.” Though I never fully connected with the characters in this book, I did connect with the feeling of history, of place, and a bit of the tedium that is research!
If you are in the mood for one of the trendy treasure-hunt-through-history-and-legend kind of novels but thought the Da Vinci Code was kinda lame, this is a good read. It will require more work from you than The DaVinci Code, and it is well worth the effort.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
happy birthdays with self-portrait
So here is a second self-portrait, featuring my better half since today is his birthday! Happy Birthday, Rickus!
If I'd been thinking, I would have taken lots of pictures from Rick's birthday weekend to include here. But as usual, I think with my stomach and not with my mind. This has indeed been a very gastronomic birthday weekend! Yesterday, I surprised Rick with a trip to Drumright, Oklahoma. Yeehaw, you say! How exciting! Actually, the surprise was the Tidal School Vineyards, a couple miles outside of Drumright, where we partook in our first wine tasting. Tidal School is an old federal-style brick school building that has been converted to a winery, tasting room, and banquet hall. Their vineyard is small (maybe a little bigger than our lot, and we live in the inner city, yo!), so they import most of their grapes and then crush and mix them in their winery downstairs. Yours truly is not so into wines but is into their effect, so I did enjoy my multiple tastings and the big glass of Oklahoma Sweet that I had with lunch. Rick LOVED their newest wine, Impressao, which is 65% Shiraz, 18% Sangioves, and 17% Tempranillo.
(I have no idea what that means, but I know it's true because we bought a bottle and it says so on the label!)
I think it may go well with donuts.
Apparently, there are 35 wineries in Oklahoma, several of them centrally located. I foresee a "Sideways" style day trip in our near future. Or as Rick said, since we do live in Oklahoma, our version should be called "Backwards".
The rest of our gastronomic adventure included spring rolls and a 6-layer chocolate cake at P.F. Chang’s, as well as pizza, brownies, and chips with Mom’s home-made salsa during poker that night. The cake, by the way, was 1883 calories and 325 carbs. Bye-bye, South Beach! Thanks for stopping by!
Today, the actual birthday, has been spent more-or-less in recuperation. Rick is building stuff in the garage, one of his favorite ways to spend any day, birthday or not. He’s also playing with his NEW IPOD NANO, and just announced to me with a big smile: “I just downloaded 1984 onto my Ipod!”
I know Rick well enough to know that he meant the book and not the Van Halen album, which is a great relief!
Happy Birthday, sweetie! Have fun.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Oh yeah. I'm on a diet. I forgot.
I didn't increase gradually. I ate whole-wheat pasta by the bowlfuls. I ate five whole-wheat muffins in one day (how pathetic is that--if you're going to cheat, do it with something sexier than whole wheat muffins!). And when we were out of food because I ate it all, I didn't bother to make a new grocery list of South Beach approved items. We're in diet limbo here. Because we don't want to go out and buy lots of unhealthy groceries and since we don't feel like spending an hour trying to rack our brains thinking of healthy food to eat, we just haven't bought any food at all. So for the last four days, we have been waiting until we are so hungry we can't stand it, then head off for a local restaurant and binge, binge, BINGE.
Yeah, because that is so much healthier, for our waistlines and our wallets.
Rick wants to stay on the diet, so I guess I need to bite the bullet and make a dang grocery list. Right after I head to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, that is.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
First Finished Object of 2006
and dunk it in this (any brand will do; I use tap):
and stretch it out and pin it with these:
you get a much longer kinky scarf:
As I said earlier, this is the Airy Scarf Pattern from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, which I always think of as my 'Arry scarf, cuz, y'all know...I heart Harry. But anyway, I wanted to try my hand at lace knitting, so I picked this easy garter stitch pattern and knit it with some 100% alpaca laceweight that I bought at the Taos Wool Festival while Rick and I were in New Mexico last October. I'm not even sure what the brand is. All I know is I had to keep repeating my mantra "You are on a yarn diet. Don't buy anything!" the whole time I was there, but I couldn't resist a couple skeins of this stuff since it was on sale for about $3.
I think I might know why it was on sale. This stuff is ITCHY SCRATCHY, you guys. The blocking softened it up so that it is wearable, but not for long periods of time. If I were to knit this project again, I think I'd use a soft mohair. And I'll probably use the rest of this yarn to knit lace bookmarks.
I really do like this scarf, though. Maybe I could just pop a Benadryl thirty minutes before I wear it!
Friday, January 20, 2006
how to knit really slowly
My Pharmacology professor puts me to shame, though. She is a paramedic and works a 48-hr shift on weekends, goes to school full time during the week for a mortuary science degree, and teaches Pharmacology two nights a week. She is obviously not an Urban Lazy Girl.
I did find some time yesterday to start the Jaywalker socks with my new Regia yarn, which was an exercise in not tearing my hair out by the roots. You see, I knit wrong. I taught myself to knit a couple years ago from Stitch ‘N Bitch, but my fingers are just not dexterous enough to knit in either the English or Continental method. It should be stated here that I have an unusually incompetent left hand. My left hand, with its lack of coordination, is virtually useless, and is one reason why I have never been able to play guitar or dribble a basketball on the left side of the court (tip: if you ever play basketball with me, I will ALWAYS drive down the right side).
I eventually came up with my own knitting method, which I’ll call the Useless Left Hand Method. I prop the left needle up on my leg so that I don’t have to waste precious fingers holding it up in the air. That way I can use all my fingers to wrap the yarn around the right needle and get it pulled through.
(And to all you old ladies that have told me how WRONG this method is while I am waiting for my car at the oil change place, mind your own business! The Useless Left Hand Method cares not for your rules!)
So anyway. It’s very hard to prop up one of four DPN’s on my leg to knit this sock. So I ended up sometimes doing it my way, and sometimes trying to knit correctly, which usually took even longer since I CAN’T DO IT. It was really a mess at first, and I had to start over a couple times entirely, but it did get easier after a few hours.
And look! It only took me three hours of knitting to finish seven rows!
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
knitting as sport
At last count, 438 knitters had commented about this post, with the vast majority signing on for the challenge. Most of these knitters are planning on starting and finishing fair isle sweaters, heirloom quality lace shawls, or whole afghans (afghan the blanket, not the nationality...). In sixteen days. These are some intense knitters.
Me, I'm going to knit a hat.
You see, I'm the type of not-so-intense remedial slow-ass knitter that is challenged by a hat. I'm rationalizing that it is still a good project for the Knitting Olympics because I will have to use DPN's (maybe my first pair of socks will be like training for the big two weeks), knit cables and bobbles, and finish the damn thing while working full-time and going to school. In sixteen days. Did I mention that part already?
Looks like a new purchase of Cascade 220 is in order.
Monday, January 16, 2006
I received a wonderful gift from Rosemary this weekend, which was desperately needed to release me from my knitting funk. Look!
Lantern Moon (my favorite!) DPN's, sock yarn, and the Yarn Harlot's book, which I've been wanting to read for awhile. This will set me on my way to learning to use DPN's (New Year's Resolution # 7) and learning to knit socks (turning heels! yikes!). Especially since I just recently found this site with knitting videos that explain how to knit with DPN's! Holy crap, I'd pictured it completely wrong in my mind. Now that I understand the concept and have some inspirational sock yarn, I might be able to figure this four-needle system out.
In other news, I'm making good progress on #1 of my New Year's Resolutions. Rick and I spent the weekend working on organization projects for the house. Old magazines and tupperware containers that we've been moving from place to place for seven years are out the door. We bought a great old trunk from a local antique shop--lots of storage possibilites. Rick installed several new shelves in the kitchen and closet, including these sliding shelves that he built himself. And check out our "new" spice racks!
Things are looking up here at Chez Messy.
Friday, January 13, 2006
the Urban Lazy Girl
Rosemary made ALL KINDS of knitty progress this week. Me, well...I did finish knitting the kinky scarf, though I haven't weaved in yarn ends. Me and those damn yarn ends. I don't even want to do it when there are only two and that's all that separates me from a finished object. That and the blocking, I mean. Still gotta block. And I haven't done that because (horror of horrors) I don't own any straight pins, which apparently you need to keep lace in the right shape. A crafty blogger who doesn't own straight pins? Who's ever heard of such a thing?
I think two things have got me in a knitting funk lately. All the Christmas knitting kind of did me in. And now that I'm trying to use up previously purchased yarn so that I don't spend all the aforementioned allowance money at SWAK, I'm not very excited about any of my stash. I seem to only want NEW yarn!
Big Goal for the Lazy Knitta: Buy some straight pins this weekend and get this dang thing blocked already!
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Heath Ledger can act, y'all! He really can!
I got to see the movie at Harkins in Bricktown last Saturday, and surprisingly enough, didn’t see a single protester. Since I’ve been looking forward to this movie for several months, I feared that it might not live up to my expectations. But it was incredible! I highly, highly, highly recommend this movie.
Everyone is probably familiar with the plot of this “gay cowboy” movie by now, right? Basically, two men begin a homosexual affair in the 1960’s and end up having a relationship that lasts twenty years. But the story explores so much that I have been thinking about it for days. I will probably be thinking about it for weeks. Sometimes a movie tries to explore too much and it just doesn’t work, but the dialogue and the performances in Brokeback Mountain are so fine, that a lot of territory is covered with a few lines and a few looks.
This is a story of forbidden love, of love that is not allowed. Despite the fact that it is about “gay cowboys” (probably a very American specific sub-culture), it’s really a universal story. I mean, it’s the same story as Romeo and Juliet, right? Two lovers not allowed to be with each other and tragedy ensues. And while I am a Shakespeare fan, I’ve never seen a Romeo or Juliet express as much love and passion and pain as Ennis and Jack.
Though I haven’t seen all the movies the Academy will surely pick for Best Picture nominations soon, this is definitely my pick right now. And who knew that Heath Ledger could act? Go see it and thank our theaters for bringing good films to our backward state!
Monday, January 09, 2006
I have been working on the Airy Scarf pattern from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts for the last couple days. It's my first attempt at lace knitting, and is truly frightening. I've read enough to know that lace is supposed to look all kinky and curly and messed up while you're knitting it, but will show it's true process during the blocking process. I hope that's the case because this thing is a mess! Just look at it!
The pattern is easy old garter stitch (I just can't seem to get away from it!), with some yarn overs and knit two togethers every few rows. But I am quite nervous about the blocking process, which I've never done before. How many before and after shots have I seen of blocked projects on the knit blogs I frequent, yet I really have no faith that it will work. I just know that I will lay out my carefully pinned and blocked scarf only to come back to the same jumbled up lace the next day!
Sigh. Knitting is definitely an act of faith. Pictures of finished project soon.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Check me out!
Don't worry, I won't continuously paste quiz results up here from now on (that doesn't mean I'm not taking them, ya'll--I just don't necessarily want everyone to know what kind of ex I am or how hot I am). But I couldn't resist this one because I am on Day 3 of the South Beach diet and all I can think of is FOOD!
|You Are Mexican Food|
Update: Here's the link, Nanda.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
My confession (because that is really how it feels) is that I am no longer a vegetarian. Rick and I started eating fish in December, though we’ve been thinking about it for several months. I never became a vegetarian for health reasons—in fact, I gained weight when I first became a vegetarian (it’s that whole lazy in the kitchen problem that I have). But we are trying to change our diets for health reasons now and are interested in the health benefits of fish. High in the omega-3 fatty acids, good source of protein, yada, yada, yada.
I feel guilty about eating fish, perhaps a guilt that only vegetarians can understand, I don’t know. My main reason for being a vegetarian in the first place is that it feels wrong to kill animals for food when they don’t HAVE to be killed for food. There are plenty of fields around for growing veggies and grains, though they are not used that way. (Another reason to go veggie: if factory farms used their fields to produce cheap grains instead of fat cows and pigs for the rich nations of the world, there could be enough food for all the starving people in the world. Again, I digress).
So, how do I rationalize/condone/live with the fact that I am now eating fish? Well, I rationalize it by saying that I have one life to live and I don’t want to get diabetes in a couple years. I want to change the way I eat, I want to eat healthier and fresher food. I want to eat the things that are supposed to help you not get diabetes and heart disease, like fresh vegetables, soy, and yes, FISH.
I am living with the guilt by really trying to focus on the fish I am eating. I am not pushing away the fact that I have killed for food. Instead, I embrace it and try to feel really grateful for the fish. I say a little prayer that I stole from Living Buddha, Living Christ. It's about being grateful for the food and remembering to live deeply in the moment and to live in a way that is worthy of the food.
I love this little prayer because it really demonstrates the relationship I want to have with food. I don’t want to mindlessly shovel food into my face. I say that I love food. Well, then, how can I eat it without really taking the time to think about it? I want to think about all food, not just the animals, and give them respect while I eat.
I could probably write all day about vegetarianism and mindful eating, etc., but I am particularly interested right now in two things: 1) the ecological ramifications of fishing/farming fish/eating fish, and 2) how I feel about the loss of identification as a vegetarian. So I’m going to stop rambling for now and post more about this when I have something cohesive on the subjects.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
In the year 2006, I resolve to...
I mean, smoking is bad and everyone should quit smoking in 2006. Except for anyone who might bum me a cigarette or three when I get really stinkin’ drunk.
Here are my goals for the New Year. I wrote them last week, and now that I read over them again, they sound rather daunting. I imagine I will still find them daunting in a few months, when I think to look over them again and have less time to make them happen!
1. Get organized:
Holy crap, I am in desperate need of a total house makeover. I have knitting supplies in every room, piles of papers of varying importance on my desk, and three closets that are filled to the brim.
To organize, I hope to get the following things done this year: Install cabinets in the utility room, place plywood in the attic to place seldom-used stuff on, clean out the closets and organize them, clean off the desk and clean out the file cabinets (do you think I can shred the bill stubs from 2003 yet?), and clean out and organize the bathroom drawers and cabinets (I KNOW I can throw out medicines from ’98!).
2. Get Healthy:
I have been the worst kind of vegetarian. I don’t really eat salad and I am terribly lazy in the kitchen. Like to the point that if my choice of snack were oranges or chips, I will always go for the chips, even if I am in the mood for an orange, BECAUSE ORANGES HAVE TO BE PEELED. Chips, on the other hand, require no prep. Also, I love the Coke. I can drink 2 or 3 20-ounce bottles A DAY. Seriously. Oh, and it’s not anything for me to eat a whole pizza myself. And, um, cheesecake. You know how some people never finish their slice of cheesecake and they say, “Oh, I can’t finish it. It’s too rich!” I have never had a food that is too rich. If you’re not going to finish your cheesecake, pass the rest to me.
In my nutrition class last year, we had to keep a food diary and assess how many calories, carbs, fat and protein grams, etc. that we consume in a single day. I actually consumed less calories than is recommended for maintaining one’s weight, but I consumed on average about 300-400 grams of carbohydrates a day. A diet that is considered low-carb is 100 grams or less. Whoa! So this lifestyle of eating pasta and cheesecake twice a day and drinking 2 cokes in an 8-hour shift, combined with a complete lack of exercise, adds up to a 15 pound weight gain in 2005. I have two pairs of pants that fit!
So, the goal is: Eat healthier food, do a cardio workout 3 times a week, and lose 15 pounds—hopefully by summer!
3. Debt Reduction:
Hopefully it’s more like debt elimination. If we could pay off the dang credit cards, we would have a lot more cash every month and could get some other goals accomplished (like decorating our house and that trip to Alaska).
The goal: To live as cheap as we can this year and pay off the credit cards by next Christmas. Alas, this means I will have to find some creative ways to use my yarn stash.
4. Home improvement:
Rick and I have decided to make goals for this old house. We bought the house 18 months ago, but have not made a lot of improvements—which a house built in 1939 needs. So this year, we hope to get the outside walls insulated and place drapes/shades on all the windows (gas is expensive, yo!), and get the house jacked up/leveled/whatever you call it, which will put a great big set-back in Goal #3. Also, Rick and Adam will finish rewiring the electricity.
5. Get into an RN program:
This one is a big if. I will be ready for the program in Fall 2006, but there are only 20 slots available and about 200 people that apply every year. And it’s that way at each school I’ll be applying at. Wish me luck!
6. Spend more time with friends and family:
I have no real plans for how to do this. I mean, I suppose I could create some elaborate organizational module for getting all studying and assignments done by certain days so that weekends are left free and yada, yada, yada, but we all know that with work and school, that ain’t happenin’. But I do want to spend more of the little free time I have with those that I care about most. I am becoming way too much of a hermit.
7. Knit like crazy. Finish lots of projects. Learn to use DPNs, knit something with cables, make an adult sweater. Do this during hermit times.
That's all I've come up with for now. Trust me, I can come up with all kinds of self-help resolutions. Like “Become more in touch with my spiritual side”. But this year, I feel like, what-the-fuck-ever! I don't have the energy to create an action plan for spiritual growth! I’m going to focus on physical health, my house, my money, and school. The knitting and the socializing can give me the spiritual boost. And if I can quit smoking, surely I can give the Coke up too, right???
Again, I wish all my friends and family a Happy, Happy 2006!