Monday Knitting

My edit for this week isn’t arriving until tomorrow, so as long as I keep an eye on email, I can spend today playing with yarn. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

Yesterday, I finished the Close To You shawl, using Dream Smooshy With Cashmere (colorway Burr), and I love it. With the center in front, and the ends wrapped around the neck and draped over the front of my shoulders, it’s going to look great with a blue or rust-colored shirt. I have it on the blocking board now, but it didn’t need much beyond smoothing and defining the points a little.

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Close-up when it was in progress

 

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On the blocking board

Last night, I started the Reyna shawl, using a spectacular 50/50 SW merino/silk yarn in a colorway called “Tide Pools” from Blue Barn Fiber.

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It’s so soft and luxurious, and the color is stunning. Even better, the customer service from Holly was exceptional. She offers custom dyes on a wide range of bases, and she helped me choose the right base for what I wanted to do. I will absolutely buy more yarn from her in the future.

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As you can see, I’ve barely started the shawl. None of the stitches is especially difficult, but the switching from the garter to mesh sections every so often will keep it from being boring, while still being semi-mindless enough (as long as you keep count of those stitches!) to do while watching TV or keeping an eye on the work email account.

How’s your Monday?

I Have No Idea What’s Going On Over There Anymore

My gorgeous new yarn from Blue Barn Fiber is sitting in my mailbox, waiting for me to rescue it and ooh and aah over its glorious yarny-silky goodness, but I’m trapped in the house.

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Seriously, just look at that. It’s called Tide Pools, and I ordered it on a 50/50 SW merino and silk base.

But I can’t get near it because, as I figured, the Redneck Kid-Farm Rodeo is in full force out in their front yard. Last I counted, there were 8-10 kids from toddler to teen running about out there. I know they don’t all live there. It’s a 2-bedroom house, and my best guess is two of the older boys actually live there.

I have no idea who the rest of these assorted rugrats are. Cousins? Friends? Paying daycare customers? I don’t think they’re other random neighborhood kids, because I can’t think of any white kids on this street.

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As I reported in This Post (which contains photographic evidence of excessive kid-quota), there was one primary thing that might just put me over the edge. And (shudder) it appears to have happened.

What I wrote: “I’m really, really glad they don’t appear to have a dog, though. A dog running around out there would not be appreciated by my dogs–or by me.”

And…guess what. Yep. Dog. It looks–from my spying-spot in the dining room–like a little tan chihuahua. But it could be a puppy of something else short-haired that will be larger when it matures. I don’t know yet. So far, it’s been out on a leash, but I’m not optimistic it will stay that way. I picture it wriggling under my fence and getting eaten by the the Poodledactyl and Sir Mozzie the Swift.

For now, observation continues. They do seem to go a lot of places, and should the vehicles be gone when I check, I’ll need to make a dash for the mailbox. This is seriously impeding my usual practice of Immediate Gratification. Waiting sucks. But people suck more.

UPDATED: At latest count, four boys playing basketball. Three toddlers in a wading pool. One young boy going back and forth between the groups. Two teen-type girls watching the toddlers. AND…the dog. Looks like a chihuahua or maybe a chi-dachshund mix because it has a long back. If it’s not a puppy, it appears young. They keep putting it in the pool with the toddlers. It keeps jumping out. And, you guessed it…it’s no longer on a leash.

It’s gonna be a looooooong summer, folks.

Binge-Watching The X-Files

I recently started watching The X-Files for the first time. When it premiered almost 25 years ago, I didn’t watch much TV. But now, working at home and having access to c52a782d86e841116a324a1032dcfa74streaming video, binge-watching is one of my favorite things. Since I watch nearly every paranormal/supernatural show I can find, finally watching The X-Files was bound to happen.

Let me be clear about one thing. I do like the show. I’m into season 7 now, so obviously I enjoy it. I’m less clear about why it has achieved legendary status and a reboot. (I’m looking forward to the reboot seasons, though! Another week or so and I should be there.)

Since it premiered in 1993, I expected it to feel dated, and it does, a little. The cars, technology, wardrobe, even the on-screen graphics show it’s not a recent production. I was surprised to find the feel of the show felt dated even for 1993. Then I decided that’s what they were going for. Sort of a noir atmosphere, or a somber Twilight Zone tone. Fine. I can live with that.

But there are still some things that nag at me as I’m watching.

  • Scully’s wardrobe. I know it’s 1993 business professional stuff, but were the suits really so boxy then? And collars up to the jaw? Because I’ve seen nuns and Amish grandmothers looking more stylish. I assume Gillian Anderson has a figure under there, but you rarely catch even the faintest hint. I’m not saying dress her up like she’s on The Bachelorettee, but c’mon.
  • Lack of facial expressions. I’ll probably catch hell for this, but I don’t think Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are spectacular actors. They’re not bad. They’re just not…great. The lack of facial expressions is almost amusing. It’s like all their emotions are on a dimmer switch set to low. Even when they raise their voices, their faces barely move. It’s almost like a ventriloquist dummy. The mouth moves, and the eyes go back and forth, and that’s it. Sometimes it even looks like they’re trying to speak while moving their mouths as little as possible. Duchovny has at most three expressions. Neutral/brooding, alarmed or excited (which are the same) with slightly widened eyes and open mouth, and worried/angry/furious which involves a somewhat furrowed brow.

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  • Where’s the humor? I get it, it’s a serious show. But even the most serious, dark shows usually break it up now and then, or have the wacky best friend, nosy neighbor, quirky co-worker, running jokes…something to lighten the tone once in a while. As I’m getting to later seasons, it has improved. There are a few episodes where they break from the weighty story arc, like the time the shapeshifter guy locked Mulder in the basement and put the moves on Scully, or the one where they went to Texas and discovered vampires, and they were each recounting the case from their perspective to Skinner. Mostly, though, it’s dark, dark, dark and kind of oppressive. Oh, The Lone Gunmen? They’re awesome.

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  • Zero chemistry. Maybe it’s coming, or maybe it’s just never going to happen, but most shows which feature male and female leads usually bring them together eventually. Booth and Bones, for example. They didn’t get together until the start of season 7, but even before then, they had a lot of chemistry. I know, it’s not necessary for them to get together; it doesn’t change the point of the show. But, hey, maybe then they’d show some emotion. Not betting on it, though.
  • Are there aliens or not? At this point, I guess there are. There’s that fetus they’re passing around like a dead baby football and using to try to breed hybrids. But it could well turn out to be something else. First, it’s “the government is covering up the existence of aliens.” Then, “the government is pretending to cover up the existence of aliens so people will think that’s what they’re up to and not notice they’re really conducting human experiments.” Now I think it’s “all of the above, but there are actually aliens involved in the experiments.” Maybe. That could change in the next episode.

One thing I really enjoy is watching the list of guest stars after the opening theme. So many actors who have become favorites in other shows appeared on The X-Files back in the day. Mark Sheppard, Laurie Holden, Luke Wilson, Bruce Campbell, Willie Garson, Peter Boyle, Seth Green, Bryan Cranston, Donal Logue, Kurtwood Smith, James Pickens Jr., just to name a few.

So, what do you think? Are you a fan of The X-Files? What do I need to know, or what am I just not seeing clearly? I like it a lot. I’ll keep watching. But I don’t see me getting an “I Want To Believe” tattoo any time soon.

New Submission Call! #amwriting #romance

New submission call for our upcoming anthology! We did a call for “forbidden” stories and received so many professor/student submissions that we decided to dedicate a full anthology to the theme.

The Craving Chronicles

It's Back! (3)

New anthology theme announcement: Craving Teacher.

Crave Publishing, a division of Limitless Publishing, is accepting short stories for the contemporary romance anthology Craving: TEACHER. Completed stories should be 10,000 words (7,500 minimum, 12,000 maximum, with 10,000 as the ideal length).

There’s always that one teacher or professor, the one who’s a little too hot or looks at you a little too often. And there’s always that one student, who is as precocious in the bedroom as in the classroom. And we love those steamy, sexy, forbidden stories about how the rules don’t stand a chance against chemistry.

Your story should involve a setting of college or graduate school, with a student and a professor, thesis advisor, or other similar position. The student must be over 18. You might have a male student and female teacher/instructor, or female student and male teacher. High “heat” levels are encouraged, but please don’t…

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Summer Knitting, Having a Blast…

I’ve been a terribly negligent blogger lately! Life has been a little crazy, with eye and dental appointments, guests, outings…and an upcoming series of dental appointments that will take most of the summer to complete.

But I have been knitting! Time to catch you up on what I’ve done and what’s on the needles now.

I’ve finally completed the Holden shawl, using Dream Smooshy With Cashmere in “mermaid shoes,” which I got from The Salty Sheep Yarn Shop. I love this. It’s so soft and light! Check out the slideshow for all four gorgeous images!

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This is how I’ll probably wear it, though.

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Currently on the needles is the Close to You shawl, again using the Dream Smooshy With Cashmere, this time in the Burr colorway. I’m hoping this one is a little smaller and maybe can even be worn in the summer in the south.

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I still have two cakes of amazing yarn from The Wicked Knittah in “cottage shed,” and lots of patterns piled up, and I still want to learn cables. But I’d probably cable in a heavier yarn, and I’m really enjoying the indulgence of the luxury yarns right now.

Hope you’re enjoying your summer knitting projects!

I Know You’re Only Here For The Dog Pictures

Yesterday was “Direwolves to the groomer day.” This comes along about every eight weeks, because Oliver is a poodle and there’s no way in blue hell I’m tackling that jobdoginatub myself.

When we still had Brody (Pyr) and Darwin (heavy-coated golden), they also had to visit the groomer, because attempting to get that undercoat out at home would’ve resulted in two very unkempt, pissed-off dogs and me in traction because my back would be contorted like a Crazy Straw. But Mozzie is a smallish, light-coated golden, so he only visits Jill’s Pet Resort for a nail trim, then we bathe him at home while Oliver is getting re-poodle-ized at Jill’s.

Grooming day is always chaotic, because the boys are 19 and 21 months old, energetic and strong, and a lot to handle. Thankfully, we now schedule this on Tom’s day off so he can help wrangle them, since the time they both almost got away from me in the parking lot.

There was some additional chaos yesterday, when we arrived and Jill came out to quietly tell me they didn’t have us on the schedule. I had the email, though, and she was super nice and they quickly rearranged some things so he could still be groomed, for which I was grateful since we have people coming over on Sunday, and I’d rather he not look like Post-Apocalyptic-Poodle. Everyone at Jill’s is always so great, and even though we’d just thrown their schedule out the window, we weren’t made to feel rushed or like an inconvenience.

I’ve always favored a shaved face when Oliver is groomed, or at least very short compared to the rest of his body.

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But Tom prefers a longer, more doodle-ish face, and yesterday I relented and let Kate (Oliver’s groomer) leave it more natural. He’s adorable no matter what, and other than his mouth-fur getting icky from food and dog-slobber, I’m okay with it. We try to leave his butt region with some coverage, but the way he sits means he tends to mat, so clipping is usually required…leaving Giant Poodle Testicles on full display. I’m considering inventing a Poodle Butt Toupee for those pet-parents who have intact male dogs but would rather not view their goodies all day.

Now on to the reason you’re really reading this post…the pictures! Mozzie, being a golden, looks pretty much the same. He is, however, super soft and so silky I can hardly stand it, and he smells a lot better. Bonus, his toenails aren’t ripping my legs to shreds.

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And here’s Oliver with his “natural” (more or less) face and 100% natural tail…

Tom picked Oliver up for me yesterday, which I really appreciated. It was supposed to be simple, but ended up being a pain in the ass. He didn’t complain, but I won’t try to guilt him into doing it again. I just really hate to drive.

Today is all about the chill. Yesterday was busy, and the weekend will be too. I’m going to work on my shawl, which is only about six or seven (long) rows from being done. I need to look up how to do the picot bind-off and practice so I don’t ruin the shawl I’ve been working on for three weeks…so wish me luck!

Nostalgia Tastes Like Pizza

Tom and I were born, raised, met, married, and had our son in Marshall County, West Virginia, in the northern panhandle of the state, the “upper Ohio Valley,” though we haven’t lived there since 1984.

For those who grew up in the area, one thing is deeply ingrained in our culinary culture.  DiCarlo’s Pizza. This small local chain was a staple of date nights, before or after sporting events and dances, weekend parties, or anywhere hungry people happened to be.

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It’s hard to explain to non-natives. It’s simple, plain, and doesn’t appear to be anything special. If you feed it to a friend, they’re likely to reply, “Yeah, it’s okay. Um…it’s pizza.” They just don’t understand why we rhapsodize over this no-frills delight.

Though the hometown restaurants and the franchise locations now starting to pop up outside the Valley have seating and various menu options, I’m not kidding when I say the DiCarlo’s of the 1970s and 80s was no-frills. The building in Glen Dale, the location we frequented, looked like this. This photo is a different location (couldn’t find the original Glen Dale building…it’s since moved to a slightly larger brick building next door to the old location), but this is what it looked like.

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Cement block and metal siding, narrow customer counter across the whole width, no seating, most of the work space taken up with the wall ovens and tables for cutting the huge trays of pizza into squares. On a Saturday night, the front of the store was packed solid with people waiting for the next tray to come out of the oven.

And forget having a wide variety of toppings from which to choose. Aside from sauce and cheese, there were a total of two options. Pepperoni…or no pepperoni. Easy-peasy. Back in the day, it was 35 cents a slice, meaning a guy and his date could easily fill up for under $4, which was critical, because you definitely didn’t want to cut into your beer budget too much.

Now, this is the part where we lose most outsiders. This pizza is made “Ohio Valley style.” The crust and sauce are baked–without the cheese on it. When the piping hot trays come out of the oven, they’re placed on the work table and the cheese is scattered over the whole thing, and pepperoni added after. Your chosen number of slices are put in the cardboard boxes, and by the time you get to your car or home or other designated pizza-eating location, the cheese has mostly melted and the pepperoni is warm.

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That is DiCarlo’s.

So, why is this delicious nostalgia on my mind today? Well, a franchise recently opened in Myrtle Beach, by an Ohio Valley ex-pat, and Tom was down that way visiting family on Friday, and he brought home two trays.

Let me be clear. He brought home the baked crust and sauce slices, and separate bags containing the signature cheese blend and pepperoni. Any other way would be blasphemy. Whenever his parents come to visit, they almost always bring us a tray or two in a cooler, but since this new location is not too far from his brother’s house, whenever he goes to see them, he can detour and get it for us himself.

Yesterday we had pizza, beer, and era-appropriate movie day. At first, I couldn’t figure out why he kept telling me “not yet” whenever I went to put the pizza in the oven, but it turned out it was because he bought beer, and didn’t want to start beer-fest too early in the afternoon.

He posted this picture, saying we were being 17 again. Yes, at 17 in West Virginia in the early 1980s, beer was most definitely part of the picture. I make no apologies. 😉

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So, I made the pizza, and it was perfect. We had beer. I forgot how much work it is to drink beer, being more a mixed-drink-with-kick person. You have to drink…a lot of it. And this results in frequent bathroom visits, which makes me think how much time I must have spent peeing in the bushes in my youth.

We started the movie portion of the day with The Jerk. Then, in honor of the royal wedding, moved on to King Ralph, and wrapped up with Shaun of the Dead, which isn’t exactly the right era, but neither was King Ralph, and it’s too funny not to watch when you have beer.

It was a great way to spend a rainy Saturday. Though if we wanted to be 100% authentic, we should’ve probably headed out and had the beer and pizza parked on a dirt road somewhere.

Do you have a hometown food that makes you feel like a kid again every time you have it?