Monday, February 26, 2007

In the way of explanations...

So tomorrow would have been my due date, had my pregnancy this summer gone to term.

Which is why it seems like a perfect time to tell you...


This ultrasound is from a month ago, and a 9-week embryo is a little lump of a baby, but it has a heartbeat, and we've heard it a couple of times, and everything seems to be going along well! I'm nearly 14 weeks, and I'm due August 29th.

So this is my reason for spotty posting, zero knitting and art content, and the general lack of anything interesting. I've spent a lot of the past month and a half on the couch. I truly have lost my ability to multitask. Usually I knit while watching tv, but since I've been pregnant, I can't manage much more than a little drooling while watching. If I knit, I have to concentrate totally on it or I screw up. Oil painting has been out of the question due to things like heavy metal pigments and icky solvents. And I've just been so bone tired. I'm starting to get some more energy back, though, and while I had a couple weeks of all day nausea, I was only sick once. All 48 oz of water for the ultrasound came back up. Obviously it still worked, but next time I won't bother with quite so much at a time. That much liquid wanting out all at once is pretty hard on a girl.

I'm sure as I progress I'll be more energetic and I might even have some interesting things to share. For the time being, I'm reading a lot, still trying to get back to MN before we have the baby, and getting lots of sleep. And the Sleepy-Voiced Husband and I have been enjoying finally being able to share our news with friends and family. We're both really excited!

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Birthday Post

If you came here thinking there would be pictures, as I claimed in my last post, you've been misled. I couldn't figure out how to take images from all the home videos my Dad put on DVD for me. By the way, my Dad got a video camera in 1981! There is video of the 6-year-old Susan! There would also have been some rather embarrassing 16-year-old cheerleader photos. Sorry to disappoint. I'm just not that technological.

Happy Birthday to Me
Happy Birthday to ME
Happy Birthday, dear MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Happy Birthday to Me

So today I am 32. You know what seems weird about that? It's twice 16, and 16 is a big year, right? I was driving, I was finally allowed to go out on a date, all that sweet 16 stuff AND I was 16 on the 16th.

I was also kind of annoying at 16. I had that high school flair for the drama. I wore torn jeans. I was still half-heartedly attempting big hair. I was also ridiculously self-centered, and although I fancied myself very worldly and wise, I was painfully sheltered and green. All of these things are very normal for a 16 year old. But I don't get that Jack and Diane song about "hold onto 16 as long as you can" because I think I was somewhat relieved to gain the experience, knowledge and compassion of each following year.

So at 32, I think I'm twice as good as that little 16-year-old. She had potential, and she had a metabolism to die for, but I just like myself so much better now. That's what I celebrate every birthday- the older I get, the more I find to like about myself. That, and the cake. I think this is going to be a good year!

P.S. SVH, that wonderful man, got me a gift certificate to get lovely things like a massage and facial and stuff. I'm so excited!


Hey- do you know what today is? If you sing me a song, I'll blow out some candles...

More (with pictures!) later!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The research station where we work almost NEVER closes. But... it's been snowing steadily since early last night. When we got up this morning, we'd gotten far more than it looked like, as we discovered trying to back out of our carport. We made it about 5 feet, and then had to pull back in. We realized that perhaps we should check and see if we even had to go in today... and hooray, the station was closed! We've gotten over a foot so far, with more still coming down.

Valentine's day is a great day to have a snow day. There's been snuggling and napping and other good stuff, as well as a new-to-me episode of MST3K on You-tube. I also find that a snow day is an excellent day to read all those Chronicles of Narnia books that I've never read (I only read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe), so I've spent a little time with Prince Caspian. We may have to brave the snow for some dessert later, as that was something we planned to pick up on the way home from work, but otherwise we've been quite comfy and cozy.

And the biggest news is- I starting knitting something! I got a lovely sock pattern and yarn from my favorite mother-in-law this past Christmas. The pattern is Rainy Day, and the yarn is Austermann Step in Jeans. It's variegated denimy colors, and I'm surprised at how pretty it is knitted. I seem to have lost my ability to multitask, so I haven't done much knitting because I'm busy doing other things. Today, though, I had more time. I feel a bit fumbly, as I haven't knit in a month, but I think it'll be ok.

Unfortunately, my camera batteries won't hold much of a charge any longer, so I have no pictures of the snow. You'll just have to take my word for it. Have a great day, my lovelies!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Spring IK 2007

We interrupt this drought in knitting content to bring you our commentary on the latest issue of Interweave Knits:

First of all, there's been a layout change. In the past, all pictures of the patterns appeared with the patterns themselves. In this issue, past the articles and just after the tutorial and accompanying patter, there is a section of full size photos of each design, similar to Vogue Knitting. This section is followed by the patterns, and there are lovely pictures with each pattern, too. Still, I preferred to have all the photos and patterns together. It's one of the things that bothered me about Vogue Knitting, and this layout is still better- I despise that there is NO picture anywhere near the pattern in Vogue- but personally, I liked it better the other way. Wah.

I like pretty much all of the designs. I don't know if I'm quite as in love as I was with the Winter issue, but it's pretty damn close. The photography is lovely, the colors all cool and springy, and it makes me want to look outside and see the pussy willows in bloom, not the 2 feet of snow we're supposed to get in the next 24 hours.

So, must I fall in love with everything Eunny Jang designs? This season, her tutorial is on entrelac and her pattern for the most delicious knee high entrelac socks is included in the issue. They are simply magnificent. I am one of those with shapely calves (just like Grumperina), and my only concern would be that the lovely entrelac pattern would be grossly misshapen once it reached said calves. Good for me that they're toe up, so perhaps, once I hit the calves, I could do something clever like go up a needle size or something to make them work.

I think I must say the same about Kate Gilbert as well. The Keyhole Top is just so cute and sassy, and has such lovely lines, it must be mine someday. Stefanie Japel has a lovely sweater in this time with interesting cables and a nice squarish neck (good for those of us with broad shoulders). I also like the Bonsai Tunic, although I'd probably forgo the tie, the Green Tea Raglan, and something in me, probably my inner 5-year-old-in-a-tutu, really likes the Swan Lake Cardigan. I'm not likely to make or wear it myself, but it's different and pretty. I like the Florentine Pillow a lot, too.

Definitely a good issue! And the online designs are all lingerie/boudoir pieces, so if you're up for some sexy little delicates, they've got 'em. My biggest problem right now is something, perhaps in the inks on the cover, makes Kouros want to attack and chew on it. I have to keep it hidden. The cover is full of little tooth marks and there are a couple of places where the background color is completely gone. Really, it's not from me drooling and licking it! Hope it's not toxic.

Friday, February 09, 2007

So What's The Skinny?

I was reading this article from Newsweek on MSN over lunch today. The subject is why skinny models could be making us fat. The discrepancy between the beauty images we see daily and the faces and bodies we actually see in the mirror is one that I've spent countless hours pondering, discussing, and ranting about. Please excuse the poor grammar. This topic just gets my knickers in a twist.

So, first of all, there's the weight thing. There are many others who can address the subject far better than I. I'm lucky enough not to suffer from eating disorders, and I've never been a dieter. I've been fortunate enough that if I'm not happy with my weight, I add some exercise, skip a couple of Cokes, my pants fit better and I'm over it. I truly know the super-skinny models and celebrities are not the norm, and although I had to say that for a long time before I really understood and believed it, I do know it's true. I don't find most of them attractive- Nicole Richie scares the hell out of me. I really want to give Kiera Knightly a sandwich. Lindsay Lohan... well, best not to open that can of worms. There's a whole lot more going there than egg salad is going to solve.

I _have_ had that punched in the stomach feeling when you put on the outfit you've seen in the magazine or the catalog and it doesn't look even remotely like it looks on her. I _have_ had that feeling when I look at my cheekbones/neck/toes/whatever that there is something just not right about me/mine. It isn't just weight. These images can cause shame about any part of a woman's appearance.

You see, this article mentioned about how much photo-editing is done. Now I know what you can do with Photoshop, and I've long sighed at the thighs on those Victoria's Secret models- you know, the pictures were the thigh looks plastic and spray-painted, with extra shading clumsily added to remove any curve at all? We've heard about airbrushing in the past, but now? Sweet Jesus, they can do anything... and DO.
Not only are moles, acne and subtle facial hair erased from already pretty faces, but retouchers are routinely asked by editors and advertisers to enlarge eyes, trim normal-size ears, fill in hairlines, straighten teeth and lengthen the already-narrow necks, waists and legs of 18-year-old beauties. link
So our beauty ideal isn't even REAL! The actual models can't even hack it. THEY don't even look that "good." If you want to see it in action, go watch this film. It's by the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty and the Dove Self-Esteem Fund (btw, I think Dove's Pro-age ads are astoundingly beautiful!). That lovely woman in the movie barely resembles herself by the time her photo is on the billboard!

It took me so long to realize that there were things about my body that, starve or paint myself, were never going to change. I have a great big ribcage, and I looked far too sturdy compared to those waify models. Why didn't I look as slender as they did? I was thin, too. I have oily skin- and I couldn't figure out why my skin, although free from acne, didn't look like the velvety faces I saw in magazines. Those women didn't even have pores! And why was it that, despite my oval face shape, I looked round compared to the girls in ads? Was it the cheekbones you could slice cheese on that were missing? Or was it perhaps the dandilion stem neck that I didn't have? It took me years to realize that there was nothing I could do about these perceived flaws. I felt like maybe I wasn't trying hard enough or something.

It kills me that, beyond using very thin, very beautiful models, they are making changes to the shapes- the skeletons- and the features of these women once they're photographed, so that they become impossible beings.

I'm so upset by this and what it means for young girls. I thought the standard was high when I was a teenager, but some of those Teen Magazine models from my youth are positively stumpy compared with what we're seeing these days. And the article does mention that younger and younger girls are concerned about body image. I mean, 42% of first- third grade girls wanting to be thinner? WHAT?

But I've already seen it. My beautiful Gabriella, my godchild, my niece, who is all of 7 years old has a friend, Cammie. Cammie is built like a gazelle; she's tall with long skinny limbs. Gabby is of average height, and she's a slender, healthy girl. Half of my Gabby's genes come from New Mexico. She's probably going to have all the wonderful Latina curves to go along with her beautiful brown eyes, and she is going to be one hell of a knock-out. But Gabby has mentioned that she's not as skinny as Cammie. Gabby has mentioned that lots of boys like Cammie. Fortunately, Gabby still thinks boys are ridiculous and wants nothing to do with them. She's a confident little spitfire, but the point is, she has noticed. She sees the difference between her body and Cammie's.

Ugh. I've been typing on this rant for hours, and I simply have no idea how to wrap it all up. It just makes me so sad that fewer and fewer girls and women find themselves beautiful. I hate that, as media becomes more and more pervasive, the beauty standard has become completely fabricated. I really hate that, despite the fact that I'm a confident woman and I like the way I look, sometimes they still make me feel bad, too. Go check out the pro-age ads if you haven't already, and see how beautiful those women are. Look for the beauty in every woman and girl you see, and share it with those, young, impressionable minds.

In fact, see YOUR beauty, and share it with all of us. Write something, take a picture, draw, whatever you can think of- show us or tell us about what's beautiful about you. Consider yourselves ALL tagged on this one.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

How Kouros Came To Be

I don't think I ever told you the story of Kouros.

Carl and I decided we wanted a pet. We've both always been cat people, but several of our best friends are allergic to kitties. We finally decided, "Screw our friends! We want a cat!" We thought we would get a light-colored female, because on average, they tend to be less allergenic. We'd also wait until after we went home for Christmas. This was immediately after Thanksgiving in 2004.

The next day, I told my coworker Jenn that we had decided we were going to get a cat, and two days later she came in from getting her car fixed and summoned me to the headhouse. There was the scruffiest, saddest, mangiest kitten I'd ever seen. And he immediately scampered up to me and let me hold him. His eyes were all crusty, he didn't smell good, he had fleas, his breathing was a little wheezy... and it was too late. I was in love. It was a black male, and it was only December 3rd, and Carl reminded me of all of our previous decisions. But you don't ignore something like that, do you- 2 days after you decide to get a cat, a little lover of a kitten just falls into your lap?

Jenn said at the garage they had a new little black kitten. They said she was one of a litter that a stray had left behind the garage. They had taken the two sickliest in to the vet. One had to be put down, but this one, Sid, was going to make it and live in the garage because all the big burly mechanics were in love with her. They told Jenn that there were still two left, but they couldn't catch them. She went out to see them, and there was my Kouros, gnawing on a dried out turkey skeleton. And his last littermate was nearby, but had died. He wouldn't let the garage guys catch him, but he ran straight up to Jenn. Jenn volunteered with the SPCA and has rescued strays all her life. I think Kouros knew she was a friend. She said, "If you really want to save a life, this is it. He wouldn't make it through the weekend outside."

I took my boy to the vet the next day. He only weighed 3 pounds. Dr. Bob said he was a dead ringer for Feline Leukemia, with his runny eyes, and his respiratory problems. It was so cute- everyone in the office was so happy when the test came out negative! They were all rooting for him. Dr. Bob said, "Well, kitty, I guess you found yourself a sucker!"

So Kouros was flea dipped, given antibiotics, given an eye cream for conjunctivitis, and wormed. Did I mention his poor little belly was completely swollen with worms? He looked pregnant. I took him home, draped a sheet over my lap and brushed all the dead fleas out of his coat. He laid there, purring and looking at me like he had never been so in love. He was obsessed with grooming after that. I've never seen a cat bathe so much, and he's never stopped the meticulous cleaning. Later that night, Carl and I tried several names out on him, but none seemed to fit. I said, "He's just such a little boy, none of the names work!" And Carl came up with Kouros.

Over the next month or two, he got healthy enough to get his vaccinations. He didn't completely get over the worms, unfortunately, until May. MAY! He was wormed probably 5 times. He ended up with pneumonia that month, and with his short stay in the clinic, we finally saw the end of the worms. He's been totally healthy every since.

And he's become a fat, spoiled cat. At his vet appointment in January, he weighed 14 pounds. Last year, for the first time, he decided he may be interested in going outside. Before that, he never wanted to go out. He seemed completely happy to be inside, warm and clean. With his immune system, though, he's got to be an indoor cat.

He still likes to be in all those places he shouldn't.

Monday, February 05, 2007

More training

So we had another brilliant training session at work last week. This time, it was conflict resolution. The good thing was we were bribed with breakfast treats like bagels, fruit and donuts. Determining our working styles was the interesting part of the training- we took a little quiz and came up with some numbers in different categories. My category was "expressive" and the moderator said this type tends to have a difficult time working in government because of all the rules and regulations. And ridiculous mandatory training sessions.

There was a lot of talking, and then we took another little quiz to find out which of the 5 conflict resolution strategies we like to use. Lame. Oh, and did I mention that this training was THREE HOURS LONG? By the end, I was a bit punchy. The presenter's mixed metaphors and confused platitudes began to grate. Fortunately the sugar crash after the donut I ate at the beginning was slowing me down, so I behaved myself. Until she mentioned that person who, in disagreements, "goes straight for the juggler."

Yes, she meant to say "jugular" but, no, there was absolutely no second "u" in her pronunciation. I had to bring my hand up to cover my smile and I tried very hard not to giggle. We were sitting at a long table and turned sideways, so I couldn't see the person sitting next to me, who happened to be Carl. That was a good thing, becuase I could see Fantastic Boss across the table, and seeing his reaction to Carl nearly made me lose it. Carl was subtly moving his hands like he was juggling, but the killer was he was following the imaginary balls with his eyes.

At least I got a donut.