Friday, February 29, 2008

Bonus Lick!

Overheard at lunch:

Her: "Carne asada? What the hell is that? Is that even English?"
Him: "I don't know."
Her: "And carnitas? Do you know what carnitas is?"
Him: "I've never heard of this stuff."

Really? And you just got here from... Iceland?

And If We Have the Pig, Shall We Not Lick It?


And if we have three pigs, shall we not go hog wild with the pig-licking?

Don't get too excited... that may be the most fun we have all blogday here. I may have just shot my wad.%

[SUMMARY: They don't make wads like they used to.]


Spring Training!

I don't really have a whole lot more to say than that, but it may be the first time, um... ever, that I'm kinda excited about spring training.

[SUMMARY: The boys of summer... in February.]


Guess what I did last night. No, really. I could make good money betting that you'd never guess.

The first part of the evening was wrapped up in eating, which is a good thing. It's Denver Restaurant Week and I managed two outings in honour of food: Monday at the Samba Room and last night at the Jewel of India. Excellent outings, both.

And if I may sneak in a little aside here -- we are pig-licking, after all -- if you've never had the carrot pudding at an Indian restaurant,§ it is really, really good. If you like carrot cake, you'll like hot carrot pudding.

Anyway, Kelley and I have had dinner plans for last night for a week or more, so that wasn't a surprise, but Dad emailing yesterday was:


I have an extra ticket to a fly fishing show at the Oriental (44th & Tennyson) tonight - starts @ 7:30.

My "date" got sick. If you have absolutely nothing else to do and could stand the thought of 2+ hours of fly fishing movies...I would love to have you.

love you,

So, yeah. I went to a fly fishing film festival with my dad last night.

[SUMMARY: *THIS* was the big surprise?! I want my money back!]


I never knew until last night that I want to go to Slovenia.

Slovenia, it turns out, is highly literate, sort of democratic, controls major transit routes, is extremely beautiful and very... high. Its highest point is only 2,864 metres above sea level,# but it starts at zero,†† so... tall.

It's just a little smaller than New Jersey, but judging by the pictures, it's all mountains. And trout streams. Just look...

Rafting on the Soča River

Photo by B. Kladnik

Unless you're just plain anti-outdoors, how could you not want to try this?

And they have big, fat fish. As Dad said last night, "Any fish with shoulders is a well-fed fish."

[SUMMARY: We may be licking the pig, but we're slurping the fish.]


Speaking of sports,^ did anyone else see the Avs put together the Old Player Nostalgia Tour this week?

At least I'll get to wear my Foote sweater again.

[SUMMARY: Desperation smells... icy.]


OK, I'm totally, horribly remiss.

Lia at the Fruity Sheep and Pam the Yarn Goddess both very kindly passed this You Make My Day Award to me about a bazillion years ago and I, ingrate that I am,‡‡ completely missed the boat, both in passing it on myself and in saying a big ol' thank you to those who say I make their day 'cause... well, it makes my day.

I know I'm probably the biggest dork in the world, but it really does mean something special to me.

So here's my list of ten blogpeople who make my day:

Enchanting Juno
The Chairarmed Quarterback
Fuzzy Logic
Things Look Like Things
A Long Yarn
Comfort Sphere
Skull a Day
Frank Notes

It's neither inclusive or exclusive, it's just a good use of blog resources.

[SUMMARY: Manners fail. Will charm save the day?]


Speaking of bad manners... I really should go thank the boss's wife for the nice TV8 Vail calendar she sent me for Christmas.

[SUMMARY: What is wrong with me?]


The Coral Room will be hosting a (drunken) spelling bee§§ on March 22 to benefit a friend with cancer. Her medical bills are astronomical, so they've¶¶ done several fundraising events to help out.

I'm looking forward to it even though I'm sure I've aced myself out of contention by telling everybody else how easy they're going to be to beat. It nearly ensures I will go down on a word like, "tapestry" or "impala."

My old friend Shane## put in the sound system at The Coral Room and was in there one night last week. Sue related this story to me:

Sue told Shane about the spelling bee and he said, "I'm gonna beat everybody. Oh, wait... is Marin going to be there?"

"Yes, she is."

"Fuck it. I'm not even coming then."

I've asked Sue to pass that on to my competition. Maybe I can psyche them out to counteract the hubris I've been spewing to the universe.

[SUMMARY: Makin' my own yin and yang.]


I could go on and on,@ but it's Wahoo's Friday, so I'm outie. Happy Leap Day!

%FOOTNOTE (percented): Heheheheheh.

FOOTNOTE (crossed): OK, this isn't the part that may surprise you. I eat. You've seen pictures -- I eat pretty well.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): Where all week, various restaurants have $52.80-per-couple meals. Get it? $52.80? 5280? Like "feet in a mile"? Like "Mile High City"? Trust me, if you live in Denverish or even spend a week here on vacation, you'll never again forget how many feet are in a mile.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): Which I would totally understand. I like carrots and it still sounded disgusting to me.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): And here would be where I point out that I provide a free service here at the Rickety Blog and you clearly get what you pay for.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): 9,396' feet, which may not sound all that low if you're from, say, LA or New Jersey, but my living room is at 5,460' so I live by a different altitude standard.

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): Colorado's lowest point, by comparison, is 3,315', with a high of 14,440'. And its mean is 6,800', making it the highest mean elevation in all 50 of these United States. The state bird is the lark bunting and our motto is, "Nil sine Numine" ("Nothing without Providence"). Colorado is the only state to have rejected the Olympics, when 62% of voters decided hosting the 1976 Winter Olympics would cause too much traffic and pollution.

^FOOTNOTE (careted): Yes, we were.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): My mother raised me better. My father raised me better. Hell, if I'd been raised by wolves I would have done better than I done.

§§FOOTNOTE (corkscrews): I'm not sure that's how they're billing it, but I am reasonably sure that's how it will end up.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (club footnote): And by "they," I mean, "Sue and Mama Love," not The Coral Room in general.

##FOOTNOTE (pounded like a tequila hangover): You may remember Shane... right up there with Tommy on the eye candy scale.

@FOOTNOTE (atted): Duh.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

*zoooooom* Did You Hear That?

It's the sound of a year whooshing by.

I blinked and I missed... yesterday was my blogiversary. Yay, me!

Thanks for hangin' with me. I promise to use many more words in the coming blogyear.


Let's Be Twelve

So I tried YouTube and all I got was a bunch of "remakes" and "versions."

I finally went straight to the source so I could bring you the best in low brow entertainment.

Can you believe I never saw this until the Super Bowl? Y'all are probably hip to the vid, but if you are as clueless as I was, yes, that's Justin Timberlake and yes, he's my new best friend.

I wouldn't play this too loud at work.

Happy Wednesday!

FOOTNOTE (crossed): That's what she said!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Brain Sucker is Starving

Did y'all do the starving brain sucker joke? You massage someone's head with hand in an attitude of a spider doing push-ups and say, "You know what this is? It's a brain sucker. You know what it's doing? Starving."

[SUMMARY: Well... laugh.]

Last night as I was (trying to) fall asleep, I realised I had a handful of semi-related bits I could blog about.

During the drive in this morning, I was rolling them around, forming them into readable chunks.

As the elevator doors closed to carry me to the 5th floor this morning, I realised I'd forgotten... most of them.

[SUMMARY: It's hell getting old.]

Coincidentally enough, most of what I was thinking wasn't maybe so much philosophy as exploration of aging and the sentimental realm.

[SUMMARY: Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.]

For instance, you know the two things I find make me feel old quickest? When kids I used to babysit and haven't seen in years are getting married and having kids and when teachers I haven't seen in years are retiring.

Note the common element.

When you don't see something on a regular basis,§ it arrests at the last place you saw it.

John Kron, my high school drama teacher and director just staged his last musical. He's going to continue teaching, but he probably won't be directing anymore, according to his wife.

When I read that, I felt old. He hasn't taught me in years, so he is still my teacher, my director, my mentor... and that's where he stays in the theatre of my mind. To have that jarred loose by reality... *brrrrrrrrrrrrr*

[SUMMARY: Change is good, change is good, keep telling yourself, "change is good."]

Last week, a dear friend tracked me down.%

Mark was the exotic Englishman# who magically appeared my senior year in high school wearing an army green jumpsuit over a Danger Mouse shirt and sporting a new wave sort of haircut.

He sat quietly by himself in the blue commons area,†† checking through homework. Unbeknownst to Mark, a group of were giggling and whispering over him as is the way with teenaged girls. Being the audacious one in the group,‡‡ I bounded over and issued an imperious invitation.

I suspect with that action, I sealed Mark's fate. He could have been the toast of the town, but he fell into the wrong crowd.

Mark was my first gay friend.

Oh, I knew guys I suspected were gay. I knew guys who "turned out" to be gay later. But back in the 80's, there weren't Gay Student Unions and gay couples going to prom and such. It was still a little on the closeted side.

When Mark came out to me, I wasn't nearly as supportive as I could have been. Should have been.

He wrote in his creative writing journal, "I kind of want to fuck Debbie's brains out. Actually, I feel the same way about Dale."

"I'm not sure I'd let anyone know that," I said.

Bad Marin. Bad, bad Marin.

Enough of True Confessions. I hereby humbly and with full heart apologise to Mark for dorking what could have been a shining moment in human relations.

What's really important to today's theme, though, is that Mark said in his last email, "I've been ridiculously nostalgic of late; could be getting to 41 and wondering if the second half of my life will be any better than the first."

"Forty-one?" I thought, "I didn't know Mark was that much older than me."

The memory is the first thing to go.

The logic circuits short out soon thereafter.

You may remember the big deal I made about my 40th birthday. Please remind me occasionally -- apparently I don't.

I still think of Mark every time I see Danger Mouse.§§ I can see him so clearly as the 18-year-old Boy London. I can't reconcile either of us with 41.

[SUMMARY: Oh, dear. Denial is the saddest of all emotions.]






Um. That's it. I know there was more. Sometime yesterday, there was even a point. I suspect if I could either remember all the bits and bobs OR if I could remember the point, I could back my way into the rest of it and y'all would be very impressed with my acuity and my mad observational skillz. Possibly also my funny.

For now, I think you should take my car keys.

[SUMMARY: If this is Tuesday, what fresh hell will Thursday bring?]

Knitting. I really just need to get back to the knitting. That will make it all better.

FOOTNOTE (crossed): Semi-related in that I thought I could stretch to call them all "philosophical."

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): *ahem* I don't think we need to get into specific numbers here.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): And by, "you," I mean "I."

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): It is duly noted that nobody's carving anything in stone. There were a lot of caveats and disclaimers in the email she sent.

%FOOTNOTE (percented): Through the magic of Google.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): Englishboy? He also had this cool "Boy London" shirt, black and white kinda like "Frankie Says" shirts. We swooned. We called him Boy London for the longest time...

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): Until right after I graduated, the school was divided into four commons areas, each one home to a particular class's lockers. They were blue, red, green and yellow. You could eat anywhere you wanted, but it was rare (f'r instance) for red commons freshmen to breach the senior blue commons. They've since filled in the commons areas and made them classrooms, adding one large cafeteria at the end of the school.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): Trust me, that's saying something. We were actors, for fuck's sake. Audacious was our bread and butter. Mostly because we were geeks whose only distinguishing factor from the AV crowd was our audacity.

§§FOOTNOTE (awhirl with nostalgia): "Keep your pecker up, Penfold!"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy Thoughts

I believe in being my own yin and yang. Therefore, to counteract Friday's act of maudlin, I will share some happy with you. And some funny.

[SUMMARY: Please don't tell me I overestimated the funny of a free-standing night depository. Leave me to my illusions.]

I went with my friend Mick, his wife Natalie and three of their four children to the Colorado Garden & Home Show Saturday.

Now, I've been to the Garden & Home Show many times, mostly before I owned a house. Generally, I get all excited about exotic home theatre systems, decorative paint finishes and patio furniture and I mentally spend seventy or eighty grand.

[SUMMARY: Powerball wishes and Publisher's Clearinghouse dreams.]

This time, I actually had something I wanted to look at: tankless hot water heaters. There was no Rinnai dealer at the show at all. Can you believe it? OK, maybe you can, but I'm here to tell you everybody else was shocked.

So I drooled on the Kaleidescape system§ and longed for my very own speaker rocks and outdoor beer tap.

Speaker Rock

Outdoor kitchen, beer tap portion

I think if I can get my neighbours to sell me their deck, I might even have room for some of the objects of my consumer lust.

[SUMMARY: Dream on, white girl.]

There were many, many expensive playgrounds to be explored and Ellie, Neil and Nick# hit them all.

[SUMMARY: Laughing children always a good antidote to the blues.]

Art also helps.

I don't know why this stuff is cool, but it is.

Camels and bones, dude... camels and bones.

And possibly my favourite thing in Denver, the Big Blue Bear.%

I really wanted to buy a Little Big Blue Bear, but I couldn't find the gift shop.

Wanna know someting funny?††

I saw a tag in a display case that said the Little Big Blue Bears could be purchased in the gift shop or online, so I just Googled "Big Blue Bear" to find out where online and -- while I never found a place to buy a Little Big Blue Bear of my own -- I did find numerous blogs citing the bear as "menacing" or "mauling." Also, "controversial."

Is there anything less scary and mauly than that Big Blue Bear? And a Big Blue Bear without Big Blue Balls is hardly controversial.

[SUMMARY: Art is in the eye of the beholder, and some beholders are idiots.]

So we headed out for lunch, and what fresh joy is this?

Why, it's a Big Blue Crane!

We sat right under the Hard Rock sign during lunch.

I know, I know, but just because it's a cheesy theme restaurant of questionable quality doesn't mean it's all bad.

It *is* all loud, with every sentence uttered answered by, "What?"

I heard a couple of songs I really liked by what appeared to be new-ish artists.‡‡ They sounded very much like 80s stuff, one being like 80s pop metal and the other like Siouxsie and the Banshees, and if they want to bring that part of the 80s back, I'm all for it.§§

[SUMMARY: Old people nostalgia hour...]

I think this is funny.

They¶¶ demolished a building, leaving nothing standing but a couple of stanchions and this:

Why would you## demolish a building, leaving nothing but the night depository standing? How many people do you suppose left their money in the night depository before they put a sign on it? Do you think this discriminates against the functionally illiterate, who may yet be putting their paychecks in the night depository? Discuss.

Other funnies?

Because I'm twelve:

And because the idea of a Poking Wall is brilliant:†††

[SUMMARY: Well... laugh.]

See? Not all doom and gloom. If I can remember what I want to say, I'm gonna get all philosophical tomorrow.

Tune in.

FOOTNOTE (crossed): The ones that can walk and talk.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): And by, "everyone else," I mean, "Mick, Dad and Brother."

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): A hard drive that holds music and videos and runs them through your TiVi and massive surround sound system for only (starting at) $17,000. I keep telling myself that within five years, they'll be selling them for $300 at Wal-Mart.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): Nothing racial about this... just singing that song to myself every time I get too woozy about high-end outdoor living products.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): I'd show you a picture of Nick having fun, but Nick only had fun right in front of the bright overhead lights.

%FOOTNOTE (percented): Actual title: "I See What You Mean."

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): Not funny "ha ha," but funny peculiar.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): i.e. -- not the classic rock artists they played the rest of the time.

§§FOOTNOTE (you spin me right round, baby, right round, like a record...): Brother is waiting for New Romantic to come back around. Just in case you were wondering.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (staunch stanchions): From the Denver Department of Them.

##FOOTNOTE (pounded like sand): And by, "you," I mean, "the Denver Department of Them."

†††FOOTNOTE (crosscrosscross): This is the only picture I got of Nick.

Friday, February 22, 2008

November 7, 1940 - February 22, 2006

Welcome to day 371 without Mom.

What follows is my first ever blogpost, enshrined at Yahoo 360 and by invitation only. It took me nearly three months to write, not because of the craft of it, but because of the need to lie on the floor rather than face the dance of memories and bleak future.

It is poorly written. It is scattered. I can see places where I dropped my thread to go lie on the floor and never quite picked it up again. I see places I started in one direction and finished somewhere off to the right and a little behind. I see places I just didn't know what word to use and clearly picked the wrong one.

But it's my first self-medication in trying to understand my life without my mother in it. And I'm leaving it unedited.

These days, Mom mostly manifests as a sort of imaginary friend. You know how there are some stories (you think of them as "memories," complete with the negating quotation marks) from your childhood you're not sure actually happened, or happened remotely the way you think you remember them? Some days I almost call Dad or Brother to ask them to tell me I didn't just make Mom up.

Imagine how thrilled they'd be to get that call.

Some days, I go in the opposite direction. There are so many dream-like qualities to the whole thing I'm nearly convinced I dreamed it all and Mom's still here. We all have those dreams where we check our bank balance and we're somehow overdrawn and spend the early part of the waking day in a mild panic until we sort out what happened while we were sleeping and what's actually going on in the real world. Some days I almost call Mom to tell her about the weird dream I had.

Imagine how awful it'd be if I made that call.

What follows is a pretty accurate account of how I felt then. Time was warped. Everything came in as sound bites and flash images and brief shots of clarity and surreal waking nightmares and I don't know if I'll ever be able to really account for the two months when Mom was dying.

As I always do when Mom overwhelms me, I encourage you to call your mother, hug your daughter, tell someone you love how much. Not just because life if fleeting and you may not get the chance tomorrow, but also as a tribute to Mom's big heart. I'd much rather you did something loving in the name of Marin's mom than give me your sympathy today.

Caveat: you might not want to read this. It's histrionic. Its construction is shoddy. It's long. And it's perfectly OK with me if you skip this and check back in Monday.

But thanks for letting me wallow.



Toe in the Water
originally posted June 23, 2006

These are my parents. No matter how you slice it, your parents are two of the most important people in your life. Even if you're one of the unfortunates who would argue that, the fact that you're arguing it makes it true.

Mom and I have been known to drive each other a little crazy. My brother and father would occasionally listen to us arguing -- even fighting -- over some dumb girl thing and would be heard to sigh, "I'm so glad that's not me."

But we're shopping buddies. Gossip buddies. When one or the other of us has a particularly bad (or good) day, we call on the other to report, rehash and break it all down. I love my mom as much as a girl can.


October, 2005: I've been spending three or four nights a week (after work), not to mention large chunks of my weekends, carting Mom here and there. She went to Wisconsin in July for a family reunion and bent over to pick something up and felt something pop in her lower back. Ever since, she's had a hard time walking. Now she's going to accupuncture, chiropracty, the back shop at Wal-Mart... anything to fix what (she's sure) is a pinched sciatic nerve without going to a doctor.

"Either it will go away on its own, or the doctor will tell me I need surgery, and I don't want to hear it."

Nurses are notoriously bad about seeing doctors.

One night, I've driven her to Applebee's for dinner before we go shopping (if she can stay on her feet). I take a deep breath. I know I have a good point, but she's still my mom. Mom will always be a sort of authority figure, even though I'm rapidly approaching 40 years old.

"Do you really want to be hobbling around on crutches at Christmas time?" I cajole. Mom is a complete Christmas freak and I have no shame in manipulating her any way I can to get the job done. "You should go see a doctor. Besides, if you have surgery, won't they give you a handicapped placard for your car? Just think of the parking spaces we'll get for Christmas shopping!"

She laughs a little and says I have a point.

"And," I continue, sternly, "Dad and I have discussed it. If you don't go to a doctor soon, we'll drug you and carry you in if we have to when he gets home."
"You will, huh?" she says, laughing again. "OK, OK."

She calls me a few days later to say she's been to the doctor and has a CAT scan appointment in a few days. I agree to drive her to and from the appointment... and maybe go for dinner and shopping when she's done.

When Dad goes out of town, it's not unusual for Mom to call a lot, extending invitations to dinner or shopping, but it's been a little weird lately. She went so far as to call to ask if I'd look for the new Black Cherry Fresca, since she really wants to try it and can't find it near home.

I'm sensitive enough to know she wants some company but doesn't want to seem needy, so I track down some Black Cherry Fresca and stop by her house on the way to a Halloween party. Besides, I'm dressed as a dust bunny and I want someone to tell me how clever I am before I fall in with my friends.

I sit down in the recliner (Dad's, but he's in Wyoming, working) next to her and say, "So... have you been a little lonely lately?" She starts to deny it, but gives a sheepish shrug and says, "Yeah. I guess I have." I tell her, "That's OK. You don't have to send me out for Fresca -- I'd be happy to keep you company just 'cause you're a little lonely."

We chat inconsequentially for a bit, then she says, "When are you going to be done at your party?"

"I don't know. Could be 10:00, could be 4:00. Why? Do you need something?"

"Could you come by when you're done? There's something important I need to talk to you about, but I don't want it to interfere with your party."

I wrack my brain for a minute. I've never quite gotten over the idea that if my parents want to talk to me seriously, I'm in some sort of trouble.


No trouble I can think of, so I say, "Mom, I'm going to worry all night about this. You're going to ruin my party. Can you just tell me now?"

"'re going to ruin my party." It's a phrase I'll regret for the rest of my life, I'm sure.

"I got the results of my CAT scan back."


"I have lymphoma."

My heart stops. My stomach goes cold. I see stars. I find myself out of Dad's recliner and on my knees in front of Mom. "Can I... Is it OK... Can I just lay my head here for a second?" I lay my head in her lap and cry for just a moment. Probably 30 seconds. All the time, my mind is racing to the right thing to say, to the right course of action.

"So what now? Did they catch it early? What's the... prognosis?" It's a word I know, but one I don't think I've ever said.

"They have to run some tests, but they caught it early. I'll have to have chemo or radiation therapy... maybe both. But it looks good."

I heave a sigh. It shudders a little at the end.

"Good. So what do we do? I'm here for whatever you need. What do you know?" I'm so close to babbling, but I'm keeping it fairly calm.
Turns out she just told my dad. She's known for almost 48 hours, but wanted him to be the first to know.

"Please don't say anything to Bill and Elizabeth. They don't know yet and I want to tell them myself." I agree, of course. I need my brother and sister-in-law right now -- I need my dad. My heart feels like it could burst. But I get that cancer, no matter how big and all-encompasing that word is, is a very personal thing.

I go to my party and I so want to talk to someone... anyone. But I feel I can't. The family needs to know first. And I loathe the Tragedy Vampires, those needy souls who ride the coattails of any crisis that falls anywhere near their paths. I don't want to be That Girl.

Elizabeth calls me the next day. "Your mom wants to come over tonight," she complains. "She wants to talk to us. I was hoping she could just call and we could do it by phone..."

I understand. Elizabeth is trying to teach college algebra and work on her master's degree in applied mathematics. Bill is on the road a lot, so he's spread a little thin with work and he's also leaving the boys (my nephews, 1 and 5) with Elizabeth. And let's be fair: Mom has a history of random social brainstorms. At one time or another, we've all been caught with something that sounds important and turns out to be whimsical Mom tangent. I know Elizabeth has little patience for my mom's random social brainstorms at the moment.

I also know she'll understand completely when Mom tells them what's on her mind.
Months later, Elizabeth and I will confess to each other how poorly we responded to Mom's simple request for an audience. It didn't feel selfish or self-centered at the time, but in hindsight, it was so grossly selfish. We forgave each other and comforted each other with our own tales of impatience.

By the way, it turns out the problem my mom thought was sciatica was actually a fractured pelvis. Her dislike of doctors and high tolerance for pain had let her hobble around on a broken pelvis for three months. A shiver goes up my spine; if we hadn't hounded her into getting the hip and back problem checked out, it may have been ages before the cancer was discovered.

(let's switch tense, shall we? Present-speak is getting wearing and feels pretentious, but I don't want to go back and change it all now.)
Late in October, I'd decided not to buy the house I'd been renting-to-own for two years and found a place to buy. I was just house-hunting and beginning the mortgage process when Mom's diagnosis came in.

It wasn't sudden, but it was quick. Dad came home and carted Mom to weeks' worth of tests. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma: a high remission rate, but she'd never be fully free of it. That's OK. We'll do the chemo and the steroids and the radiation and whatever we need. Then we'll do it again in ten years if we need to. We love each other, we support each other. There has never been a better family in my book.

Mom had her first and second chemo. Just before Christmas, she was feeling great. She admitted it was probably the course of steroids they gave her right after chemo to boost her recovery, but she was feeling great. A trip to the doctor confirmed that she wasn't just feeling good, she was making amazing progress. She'd had (I think) six tumours when she started. Two were completely gone and the others had shrunk considerably. She was happy and so proud of herself for healing so well.


December 23, 2006: Dad's cousin, Jody, and her mother, Faye, long time gossip buddies, invited us to join them (along with Jody's sister and her four daughters) for a big, old fashioned, girly trip to the nail salon for festive holiday pedicures. I told Mom I'd drive if she wanted to go.

We got matching Christmas manicures, with glittery stars and Christmas trees, Mom's on a vibrant purple background and mine on deep red. Dad rolled his eyes when we got home, but Mom happy means Dad happy.

Dad had been leery of the amount of activity Mom was undertaking. The holidays are always busy, but for a Christmas freak with cancer, they seemed so much more so.
I knew of Dad's trepidation, but also knew Mom was feeling good and giddy about the holiday. Besides, I'd closed on my house and it felt so weird not having Mom involved every step of the way. Usually, me buying a house would be a good excuse to shop and have many arguments over many dinners about what colours to paint the rooms, what we could shop for and other chick-centric things Mom and I enjoyed.

So I extended an invitation: "If you want, we don't even have to tell Dad. I'll come and get you. But... do you want to see my house tomorrow? We can have brunch at my favourite brunch place. It'll be a nice start to the Christmas festivities."

I find I'm almost holding my breath. I think part of me is worried she'll tell me she's tired from all the goings-on and part of me is hoping not to feel rejected if she says no.

"Oh, yeah. I'd really like that. Let's talk to your dad..."


December 24, 2006: Almost surprisingly, Dad agreed. They showed up at 10:00 the next morning. Now, my townhouse is very vertical. There's no way to get anywhere without going up stairs. I opened the garage so they could pull in, minimizing the stairs to the living room level.

Mom was beaming. She was happy for me and excited. True to form, I could see her mentally decorating and earmarking truckloads of housewarming presents to make my house a home. I was so glad to have her there -- it's like my house was finally a home. Like so many times in the previous couple of months, I heaved a big sigh. She didn't feel up to going all the way to the top level where the bedrooms were.

"It's only bedrooms up there. They'll still be there when you heal up and are ready to see them," I said.

We had Christmas eve, as always, at Mom's and Dad's. Mom could never wait 'til Christmas morning, so we've always opened presents on Christmas Eve over pizza, saving Christmas day for stockings and a big, homecooked meal.


December 25, 2006

Elizabeth, Bill and I cooked Christmas dinner so Mom could rest. She was happy, but tired. By the time my brother and his family took off, I could see she was ready for a nap. I stuck around for an hour or so, leaving around 7:00.

The next morning, Dad called.

About 8:00 Christmas night, Mom started having... well, almost like convulsions. She was in enormous pain -- so much so, he couldn't do anything for her but call an ambulance. My brave, stubborn mother with the incredible tolerance for pain was delirious, out of her head with pain.

She lapsed into a coma that night. I learned so much about medical science over the next few days: nobody seemed to know exactly what was wrong, but they all had theories and tests. All their explanations, however, ended with, "We just don't know for sure."

She was never alone. We all took turns -- or sometimes overlapped -- sitting with her in the ICU, talking into her good ear (she was nearly deaf in her left ear for years), hoping for good signs, comparing notes on her progress.


Later, that same week: One day, I think after four days or so, she came out of it. She was disoriented and Dad said she said, "Hi, Gruese! [the family nickname for me... short for "Gruesome"] with a big smile on her face, even though I wasn't there.
I was selfishly gratified that she was looking for me. Still am, to be honest. I could see her big, open smile, like I'd seen so many times walking through the front door of her house.

It turned out the chemo had weakened her immune system and she'd developed a staph infection that manifested as meningitis (one thing I learned, medically speaking, is that both "meningitis" and "staph infection" are far more general terms than I realised). It was nobody's fault, but to this day I know Dad and I both wonder if we could have saved her all that if we'd forbidden her from taxing herself so over the holidays.

We found out that she had had a stroke somewhere in the span from Christmas to coming out of the coma. It, or the meningitis, had left her deaf. Dad and I laughed about spending so much time doing the movie-of-the-week-worthy talking into her "good" ear, knowing coma patients often recall hearing things while they were ostensibly out.

It was up and down for the next week or so (I keep typing things like "...for the next month or so." Time is all screwed up for me in those hospital days). Finally, they released her to a nursing home for rehab.

She was chipper and talkative and eager to rehab. We spent lots of time writing our conversations to her and reminding her that just because she was deaf, it didn't mean her roommate was. So loud, but so gratifying to talk to her and have her talk back.

Sometimes, Dad would leave the room or I'd be there before he got there and she'd ask me things she didn't want to ask Dad.

"Was I really wild when they took me to the hospital?" she asked.

"Yeah. Dad was scared and we were all worried," I wrote back. "We're all so glad you're better."

During those private sessions, she asked a lot about Dad and how he was sleeping, eating, all that. I knew she counted on me to tell her the things she thought Dad wouldn't. I was honest, but gentle.

The nursing home time seems like months, but it was only a couple of weeks. We watched her beloved Broncos with her, brought her food she'd eat, sat with her while she slept. We hammered the doctors and nurses for information, but were thwarted at most every turn.


February, 2006: Mom checked herself out of the nursing home and demanded to go back to the hospital for additional care. In one of her less lucid moments, she decided she needed to go home and fell out of her bed, fracturing her wrist. The hospital moved her to a room with three other people, all labeled as problem children for trying to escape, ripping their IVs or (I imagine) biting doctors. If I'd been there, I think I'd have bitten a doctor.

Gradually, she became less cooperative and less lucid. Over the longest three or four weeks of my life (time warp, again), the doctors gave up on her. We didn't. Dad and Bill and I had several pow-wows about the things we could do for her. Alternative medicines of all kinds were discussed and researched. Herbs were purchased. A hospital bed was rented.

We didn't believe she was dying, exactly, but with the insurance and medical options presented us, hospice seemed like the best bet. At least she could come home, which she'd wanted to do since the day she came out of her coma.

Over the next three weeks or so, all Mom's brothers and her sister came to visit. She so clearly enjoyed the company and recognised everyone, but it was hard on us. Airport pick-ups and drop-offs and out-of-town visitors can tax your resources in the best of times, but we were all strung pretty thin. It all made it worth the effort to see Mom happy, though.

We even found that she'd regained some hearing. I'd thought she did while she was still in the nursing home, but didn't have anything concrete. Then one day she started singing along with a CD playing in her room. You can't imagine the excitement we all felt.

The last sibling left and Mom deteriorated pretty quickly from there. There was a point when I was sitting with her late at night by myself and I talked to her. I told her all that was going on with me, stories about her grandsons... I told her it was OK to go if she needed to. I assured her that if she wanted to fight, I'd do everything I could, everything I could think of, to help her, but I didn't want her hanging on if it was only for my sake. I told her I'd take care of Dad and Bill and the grandsons and everybody... if she had to go.

I spent afternoons, mornings, late nights with Mom and Dad and whoever was around visiting and helping. Friends and family came and sat with her and sat with Dad and sat with each other. Meals were brought in. Love was abundant. Many a person left crying, but none of them was anything but cheerful when they were with Mom.

One day, Mom was difficult. She fought food and water and tried to tear her medical port (a sort of semi-permanent IV where her pain meds pumped on a timed, regular basis) out. She lashed out at people. She spat on me. She screamed in frustration and pain. It was the hardest day of my life by far. I didn't begrudge her spitting on me. It's a badge of honour to be there through the hard times.

It was the first time I thought Mom might not get better.

A couple of days later, I had the late shift, sitting with Mom until the overnight hospice nurse came in. When Sondra showed up at midnight, she told me Mom was close to death. Her skin was cool, her pulse and breathing iffy and her skin had taken on a greyish cast. Sondra insisted I call my brother and get him to drive out and wanted to wake my dad. I told her we'd wait for awhile and see what happened.

I sat, like so many nights, and held Mom's hand and rubbed lotion into her hands and rubbed her back. I helped Sondra change her and pumped extra pain medication into her when she seemed to be getting agitated. Finally, around 2:00 in the morning, I gave in and woke Dad. After another hour or two, he sent me to bed for awhile. I dozed fitfully, worried that Mom would worsen or die and Dad wouldn't wake me so I could get the rest he'd figure I needed.

Apparently, at 6:00 or so, Mom's colour pinked up and she started breathing better. Sondra was amazed. I almost hate to say it because it sounds so petty, but I knew Mom wasn't dying that night. I told Sondra we weren't going to wake anyone up because I knew she wasn't dying.

I came back that afternoon and Dad said we should probably address what to do if Mom really was dying. I told him I wanted to be there, and to call me, whatever the hour. I told Bill all about it and asked him what he wanted: "You did the right thing. Call me if she dies, certainly, but..." I understood. He has a wife and two young children, for one thing. And while we're very similar, he's wired a little differently emotionally. He's more likely to seek a solitary place to lick his wounds than to seek comfort. And we've had some different life experiences.

To explain: I've never forgiven myself for not being there when my dog, my childhood pet, was put to sleep. I was 200 miles away at college, and my dad would have done anything he could have to get me home, but she was in too much pain and too far gone, so they called me that afternoon to tell me. My mom is worlds ahead of my dog, so I knew that if I was so regretful of not being there for my dog in her final hours, I'd be that much more so for my mother.

February 22, 2006: The phone rang at 2:00 in the morning. I knew immediately what it is -- who wouldn't? Dad said, "I think this is it. Don't hurry. Don't get in an accident to get over here, but I think you should come."

I threw on navy sweats and a UWSP (University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point -- Mom's hometown) sweatshirt. A crazy little impulse forced me to brush my teeth so Mom's final memory wouldn't be tainted with my stale breath.

I drove fast, despite Dad's entreaty, but at 2:00 on Wednesday morning, there isn't a lot of traffic. My mind -- the same mind that keeps me up for hours rearranging furniture and rehashing conversations and worrying over little nothings -- was completely dead. I could barely force words through my consciousness.

Sondra left Dad and Mom and I to our thing. I held Mom's right hand, Dad her left. We talked little. What do you say in the presence of death? Her breathing was ragged. Sometimes, she'd stop for what seemed forever. I found a spot on her throat where her pulse was visible. Every time she'd stop breathing, I'd focus on that little flutter and hold my own breath.

As hard and horrible as it was, the next two hours passed remarkably quickly.
Sondra nudged me at one point because there was a tear running down Mom's face. I dabbed it away with the tissue I was using on my own runny eyes. I still wonder -- almost hope -- if a stray tear is a normal medical thing. I have terrible guilt feelings that Mom was crying because I was crying and I don't want to feel she went to her peace worried about me.

I was thinking love and apologies and good memories and prayers and hopes just as hard as I could, hoping that some Hollywood drama of psychic conection would kick in and Mom would be awash with my best. I was holding her hand in one of mine and hugging her crosswise with the other. My face was buried in her side. Suddenly, I felt a purely electric shudder go up both my arms and into my chest. My breath caught and I was blindly, mindlessly joyful for just a moment.

My father's voice broke through that. "I think she's free now," he said.
I don't know exactly what happened in the next few minutes. I think there was patting and hugging. Definitely tears. In a sort of fog, but clearer than crystal, I called my brother.

I sat with Mom for quite awhile, as the bureaucracy of death paraded through her room. Bill came and he and Dad and I held each other until I couldn't breathe. I swallowed a world's worth of panic when the man from the Neptune Society zipped her into a burgundy body bag and rolled her to his SUV.

I went home, showered and called my favourite cousin, Tani, who livef across the street. She's always a good person to have around, doubly so in a bad situation, immeasurably in a real crisis. She asked what she could do. I had documents for work that had to be dropped off downtown and I didn't know if I could drive.

And park.

Without smashing the first bad driver who frustrated me.

We've talked about it since, and she was as relieved to have something concrete to do as I was relieved to be able to ask for help.

I went to work that day. John, my boss, and Patrick, a colleague, were hundreds of miles away working in Utah. Maybe the western slope of Colorado. Doesn't matter. They were miles away. Mary, dear Mary, was in the office. I told her Mom had died that morning. She couldn't believe I was at work. She urged me -- pushed, even -- to take the day off. I knew then, as I know better now, that I needed to stay moving.
Even now, any time my heart and mind have too much time on their own, I cry.

Dad moved to the neighbourhood where Bill and Elizabeth and the grandsons and I all live. He's mostly retired from the kind of work that offers a paycheck, but he gets up early every morning and takes a long walk -- sometimes two hours. Then he pushes himself through the summer heat digging up his new yard and hauling rock to it and anything else to keep him occupied until he's so exhausted he has to quit or until it gets too dark to work outside. Then he showers and goes to bed. He does this just about every day.

Some nights I drag him away from work for dinner or just conversation. I know that friends and family are doing the same, which makes me happy. Keeping Dad as happy as can be managed is one of my callings.

Anyway, we've talked about it, how he digs sod and hauls rock and how I work long days and weekends and fill my social schedule to the brim. When does it go away, we wonder. We acknowledge it will be a BIG step in our healing, the day we can sit back and muse without crying, panicking or feeling lost without her.

For now, I -- the girl who knitted every sitting moment, who read five or six or seven books aweek -- haven't finished a book since Mom died. I did, however, start knitting again a week ago. I'm not as obsessive or needful of the knitting as I was this time last year, but I consider it a good sign I want to knit at all now.

I didn't cry much the first week or two after Mom died. Since those blissfully barren days, I find myself crying most days. I'll be in the produce department at Whole Foods and wish Mom was there because it would be food AND shopping in a way she'd truly have enjoyed. I hear a song on the radio. ESPN talks about the Broncos' off-season. It seems every day is a new opportunity to realise what I'm missing, what Mom is missing and how much I miss her.

And this is part of my therapy. I've cried myself sick typing this out, but I can't help feeling if I can keep going through it, I can get through it and come out the other side. One of these days, this blog will be all about new restaurants, funny friend moments, good and bad movies, my nephews... For now, I need to wallow in Mom so I don't lose her or feel guilty or miss some important part of the grieving process.

I know you'll understand.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

All New! All Fibre!

Knitting. Ah, there is knitting to be had. Knitting to be bad.

First, I was taken out rather unceremoniously in Hat Attack. At least I reached my stated goal not to go out in the first round.

This is the hat that killed me, gleefully knit by Ravelry's llamamama. She also sent some lovely Scharfenberger's dark dark chocolate, so that helped take the sting out. Also? Cat for Scale LURVES this hat. He nuzzles and burrows and gets this dopey look on his face. I'm pretty sure the hat is 100% wool, but he's treating it the way he treats alpaca.

[SUMMARY: Like mother, like son.]

On the other end of the fibre spectrum, I finished a birthday present for SusieQ, intrepid manager/bartender at the Coral Room. I told her I'd like to knit her a scarf. She said she wanted rainbow and she said she's allergic to wool.

Off to Michael's and the five-pound wad of crayon-coloured acrylic!

I knitted this out of Caron Simply Soft worsted, two strands held together, then used the double-stranding to sort of blend the colours. Two strands of red, then one red and one orange, then two strands of orange, then one orange and one yellow, etc.

She loves it and I have enough yarn left over to keep the nephews in stuff until they're too old for rainbows.§

[SUMMARY: You can use cheap acrylic for good or evil. I choose good.]

When I got the Noro sock yarn, I was all hype for an attempt at making Lizard Ridge socks. Of course, Lizard Ridge uses short rows, so -- of course -- it can't be knit in the round. So I knitted and knitted and knitted and no Lizard bumps were evident.

I sighed, determined maybe the colour repeats were too long or too short and frogged back to the heel, where I started knitting stockinette and simply enjoying the fading of one colour into the other.

Raise your hand if you see the problem.¶

I never switched to the other end of the ball of Noro. Like you're supposed to@ in the middle of every Lizardy pattern repeat. This is KEY in getting the Lizard Ridge to Lizard Ridge.

Ah, well. I still have the other ball of Noro sock yarn. I'll do that one right and let you know how it all goes.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of the Noro socks from a couple of weeks ago. As you can see, the colour changes are starting to catch up with each other and soon we will be able to see that the socks are not only related, but definitely from the same run of yarn.

[SUMMARY: Dork dork dork dork dork.]

Meanwhile, back at the other socks...

Don't despair, Brother. I fully intend to have last year's Father's Day present done before this Father's Day.

I have to admit to having dorked these as well. I've been blithely knitting long with the 80-stitch Arrrgyle pattern, not realising until a couple of days ago that each diamond is 40 stitches across and the whole pattern spans 80 stitches. Ah, well. I'm going to have to re-chart the skull and crossbones, but I don't think I'll frog the twenty rows of intarsia# to make it right.

Call it a modifcation to the design. Call it a deliberate one, if it's OK with you.

[SUMMARY: *ahem*]

And ANOTHER dork moment in Marin's knitting: Sylvia, Grand Purveyor of Fuzzy Crack, got the Schaefer Yarn catalog and in a moment of wool fume-induced euphoria, we decided to do a Mr. Greenjeans KAL.

What we didn't know at the time was that Schaefer only dyes in batches of ten or twelve, so if you don't order ten or twelve,†† you have to wait until someone else orders enough to make a full batch.

Two months later, I was kinda climbing the walls, dreaming of my greengreengreen yarn, stroking my size 8s in eager anticipation‡‡... and I came up with a brilliant idea: Ravelry.

Surely, a plea to the Ravelers could dig up someone dying§§ to own their own collection of Rafael¶¶ yarn.

Within a couple of hours of posting my plight, Sylvia emailed to say my yarn had showed up. Apparently, they dyed so much for TNNA or Stitches or one of those big fibre fests that they could send my yarn.

Isn't it... green?

I knit a gauge swatch and found I'm getting 5 stitches to the inch instead of the 4.5 the pattern calls for. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise, since I'm apparently a tight knitter, but I've never NOT gotten gauge before. And it was on my gorgeous new Colonial rosewood needles, so I didn't want to switch needle sizes, so...

I did some math. And I had already had a little heartburn over the sizing, not quite wanting the small and not quite wanting the medium. Turns out if I knit at 5 stitches per inch and knit like I'm knitting a large, it'll come out between a medium and a small,% which seems just about perfect to me.

NOTE: Keep this little story in mind. It'll turn up again in a few minutes. You might laugh.

Friday, in the Sheridan airport, I finished "Making Money," so I cast on Greenjeans and started knitting.

I find top-down raglan construction a little magical, the way the increases line up all smooth and neat...

...and, given my adventure in Maths Land, the magic of begin able to try it on before it's finished so I don't knit a whole freakin' sweater before I find out it's all wrong.

I dropped by Sylvia's on Saturday and discovered I'd done the knitting equivalent of starting in on dinner before everybody has their food. I've never been in a KAL where anybody actually AL'd. Everybody just kinda goes their own way, occasionally asking questions or sorting out pattern translation issues.


But I'm so intrigued and so stoked I can't stop. I don't knit it a lot, not obsessively, but I've added nine or ten rows to what you see here.

Sylvia gets her yarn very soon. I'm trying to be good.

[SUMMARY: I lied in the footnotes. It doesn't just sound cool, I *am* knitting to be bad.]

Let's move from WIPs to USOs,## shall we?

Partly because I'm a notorious joiner and partly because I want to learn how to do the leaves because they might fit in with a scarf I'm half-assedly designing, I ordered the Vintage sock kit.

I truly love the way the pattern is printed on heavy paper, on half sheets††† and held with a ring. I'm tempted to go get the whole thing laminated to keep it pristine.

Next, I became enamoured of the Silk Ribbed Camisole from Vintage Knits, so I went in search of the perfect yarn to make my own.

I came up with this:

The deep, rich red -- poorly represented here -- will be edged with the mossy green. The problem? It is a completely different gauge than the yarn called for in the pattern.

For the record? The yarn called for in the pattern is discontinued. I *had* to improvise.

So I spent one night in Sheridan at the little hotel writing desk with a calculator and a notebook, revamping the pattern to (hopefully) fit the fibre.

NOTE: Keep this little story in mind. It'll turn up again in a few minutes. You might laugh.

I've never ordered from before, but I found their new collections so exciting and afordable I decided to give them a whirl to knit the monkey version of the Punk Rock Backpack‡‡‡ from Stitch 'n' Bitch for Dr. Doom's birthday.

I'm a little worried the two browns aren't different enough. I guess we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.

Meanwhile, in tracking down the right yarn for Stacey for her part in the Black Valentine thingie, I ran across some Shibui sock yarn I needed. No, I didn't *want* it, I *needed* it.

Isn't it lovely and soft and beachy? It's called Pebble, but I'm going to love it and hug it and name it George.

And I FINALLY got some Black Bunny yarn. For ages, I've been visiting every time I see Carol is updating, and I always show up a little late, when there are colours I already sort of have or only laceweight left or something.

But this time, oh, this time was special. This is a bamboo/merino sock yarn and it feels as misty soft as it looks. The colour is Bamboo Shoots and it is now named George II.

I got all turned on by Eunny Jang's Ladylike Gloves and went looking for fun yarn to knit them and came across this Habu silk.

I have no idea if it will work properly, but I think it's hellacool, so I'll give it the old college try.

Last, but not least, I got this gorgeous creature at Sylvia's. It's Red Rocks Fiber Works Aspen Sock in Artichoke.

One of these^ is going to eca for *her* participation in the Black Valentine thingie.

I've been waiting for something good for the Waterfall Sock pattern I bought from Knit Spot last summer, and I think this is it.

[SUMMARY: Superconsumer! Just doing my part to boost our flagging economy! Just wait 'til the dyes come in this week!]

Now, let's chat a little about my sudden surge into the world of mathematics and knitting.

WHAT THE HELL DO I THINK I'M DOING? Do we remember who we are talking about? Little-miss-can't-count-to-four wants to re-size whole patterns? I fear a fiery, fiery crash is in the offing.

You wanna know something funny? I was invited to join a Ravelry group called Woolly Thoughts Fans, dedicated to geeky mathematical knitting pursuits (pis, Fibonaccis, etc). It's kinda like when I get penis enlargement offers and I wonder who these people have been talking to that I'm on their mailing list.

I joined, of course.§§§

And I'll let y'all know how that all goes.

FOOTNOTE (crossed): OK, not really, but I like the way it sounds.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): Mostly 'cause I was in Sheridan. Y'all know if I'd gone to the mailbox last Wednesday and found a hat, there would have been... lots of words. Plenty of ceremony. Histrionics.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): Ooooh... dagger through the heart! Maybe one will be gay and will never completely outgrow rainbows.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): Stacey, I'm pretty sure this is the point where you call me a hot mess and I can do naught but agree.

@FOOTNOTE (atted): And by, "you," I mean, "I."

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): Yeah, this picture is a couple of weeks old too. I've been thinking of you guys for weeks and setting up to give you knit-it-and-make-it-all-better.

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): Four. We each ordered four.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): That's what she said!

§§FOOTNOTE (wound up like a skein of sock yarn): No pun intended. OK, maybe a little.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (gophers): It was in the kids' yarn section, so I think it's probably named after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

%FOOTNOTE (percented): I think.

##FOOTNOTE (pounded like a dollar): UnStarted Objects.

†††FOOTNOTE (cross my blog and hope to dye): I fold all my patterns in half anyway.

‡‡‡FOOTNOTE (in stitches!): Hereafter ever dubbed "Monkey Pack."

^FOOTNOTE (careted): Yes, I bought two. I'd already named mine George III... how could I let it go?

§§§FOOTNOTE (a veritable jacuzzi): Don't laugh. It could happen to you.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Wilds of Wyoming

Life and werk... so educational.

F'risntance: We were working on an acquisition from a company that wants to focus on their own unique brand of oil exploration, which consists of drilling an 18' diameter hole 3000' down, then dynamiting their way into various up-hole locations in a sort of stellate, hub-to-rim pattern, fracturing their way into local oil reservoirs.§

As someone who used to hang around guys, beer and fireworks, I'm pretty sure this is the result a drunken night amongst the engineers and a surplus of TNT.

Somebody at the seller's company drew a picture on their dry erase board:

Huh. Phallic.

[SUMMARY: Oilfield wishes and explosives-fueled dreams.]

The seller's office was very nice -- they call it the IT building. It has cool, I'm sure custom-made oil derricks in their grand, sweeping staircase.

It was also entertaining, but that may just have been me.#

F'rinstance, I had a chance to closely examine a box of staples.

Maximum penetration? That's what she said.††

But the guarantee put the icing on the stapler cake:

Oh, how I want to test that guarantee.

[SUMMARY: Entertainment is in the eye of the beholder.]

There is a REALLY good restaurant in Sheridan‡‡ called Oliver's Bar and Grill. I had mole quail stuffed with hominy Tuesday night.

And tortilla soup and the most architectural of salads§§ Wednesday night. And pheasant ravioli and a chocolate tower Thursday.¶¶

Macchu Picchu salad and Chocolate Tower

And they didn't even sneer at my photographic dorkitude.

[SUMMARY: Oliver knows which side his bread is buttered on.]

Speaking of bread... Oliver's has a wine/cheese/bread shop attached to it, so Brother and I bought four loaves of Dakota bread to take home. Carry-on bread. A lady in the seat across from us on the tiny plane couldn't put her purse in the tiny overhead compartment for fear of squishing our bread. Her purse was buckled into its own seat and our bread rode unmolested.

Sheridan, like so many Wyoming towns, has an abundance of random acts of public art. Thus:

Brother rotated and revolved this, and it's a fully-interactive planet.##

Sheridan also has its fair share of Wyoming mud trucks...

...kitschy mom-n-pop motels...

...and a really spectacular yarn shop.

Wait, wait... you have to see how clever their logo:

See? It looks just like the window on the shop.

I wandered around for quite some time and found a book I'd never seen before, so I got it, along with some lovely silk to possibly execute one of the designs in the book, only this is very thick-n-thin yarn and it looked wonky as hell all laced up, so I frogged it and will be making something different with the silky stuff.

Before I leave for the day,††† I have to share an observation on Sheridan and its independent renaissance personnel:

They're there. In spades.

When I blew up the IT system at the Holiday Inn, the guy they brought in as their top-tier expert was talking to the office manager who'd tried to help me.

"Are you off after this?" she asked.

"I have to go fix a washing machine," he replied.

For some reason, I thought it was a joke, like, "Ha ha, the dolts here will probably be wasting my mad geek skillz fixing a bloody washing machine," only he was perfectly serious. Apparently, there was a valve malfunction.%

And Wednesday night at Oliver's, we overheard a guy talking to people at the table next to him. He taught dental hygienist courses part of the week and criminal justice classes the rest of the week.

Brother said, "Have you been listening to this?"

"Oh, yeah."

"How does that happen?"

"I don't know, but let's hope he never gets confused as to which one he's teaching. The cavity search portion of the class could be hell."

Brother pointed out I'd never, ever be able to toss that line off again. How many times are you going to run into a dental hygienist/criminologist in one person?


In Sheridan, Wyoming.

Where they drink this:

[SUMMARY: Sheep AND yarn shop. Still a knitblog!]

FOOTNOTE (crossed): And by "we," I mean "Brother and me."

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): Don't ask. I asked. "How do they keep the dinosaur bones from falling on them?" I asked. Nobody knows.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): Also? Don't ask what happens when you're in the bottom of the hole and the frac channel (a term I just made up, but might actually exist) starts siphoning oil into the hole around your feet. Nobody knows that either.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): Not for the reasons you may think. It stands for "Ivory Tower."

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): Projecting? Your dear ol' AntiM? Say it ain't so!

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): She also said, "Excuthe me, but I think you have my thtapler" about 2011 times, because the Office Space stapler bit *never* gets old.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): Father informs me there are several movie stars doing the back-to-the-earth thing around Sheridan, so it's not as Wyoming as it could be.

§§FOOTNOTE (twirly!): Brother termed it the Macchu Picchu salad.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (one foot in front of the other...): For those of you scoring at home, yes, we tried no other restaurants during our stay. At least not for dinner.

##FOOTNOTE (double pounder with quarters): The little satellite you see there used to be on the right side of Saturn until Brother got 'hold of it.

†††FOOTNOTE (don't cross me again!): Seriously, dudes. I can hear crickets in the office today.

%FOOTNOTE (percentaged): ETA: in the washing machine. Possibly the computer system too.