Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Bakery Nouveau, West Seattle. Twice-baked almond croissant, here I come!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stuck in my head! Sweet lemonade!

I am officially cursing the Upstairs Crowd for showing me the (NSFW--Not Safe For Work) video and getting the song stuck in my head! J and J, I curse you!!
And some associated avatars I saw out and about using The Google:

"I think you'll find that the universe pretty much covers everything."

Look forward to a real post covering the Texas trip and this week's assorted miscellany on the morrow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Color study 3

I think I need to stop taking artsy pics with my phone.  The colors are far more vivid in real life.

Color study 2

Less light than I'd like.

Color study

Fall! Focus fail!  Good thing this was about color, not composition.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday morning in Texas

Plain Jane socks in Madelinetosh sock (Elfin colorway), outside at The Green Chai Cafe in downtown Bastrop. Sunshine and 70 today!

Friday, October 16, 2009

More sauce, please

The quintessential Texas experience: brisket at The Salt Lick!

Mighty Fine

Lunch! Lemonade shake & fresh-cut crinkle fries.

Texas, in bite-sized portions

Foodie update!  Last night's dinner came from Guadalajara, one of Bastrop's nicest Mexican restaurants.  I had the steak fajitas (with guacamole!) to accompany beans, rice, and copious quantities of fresh chips and salsa.  Mr. Janssen's burrito came with [chili con] queso, which he gladly forked over in exchange for a bite of steak.  Mmmm, queso.  Breakfast this morning is homemade pumpkin pancakes with Greek yogurt and pineapple juice.  I love visiting Mom!

The trip down was easy.  I think that Alaska's new direct flight from SEA to AUS may be the easiest flight I've ever taken, in fact.  The plane was mostly full but not packed, in-flight service was pleasant, and boarding and exiting the aircraft was a breeze.  I even got to knit during takeoff and landing. (Note to @FreezeRae: I took the picture with my phone set to Flight mode, so no interference with equipment.  Perfectly legal and safe.)

Emma, my parents' new dog, and I have bonded.  She loves being loved.  She is silent as the grave and has a piercing blue-eyed stare.  She snuggles.  She is a good dog.

I set up the Wii last night and gave my folks a demo using Lego Indiana Jones.  (I do so love Lego Sean Connery.)  Making a Mr. Janssen Mii was fun, and it includes the gray handlebar mustache and Klingon hairdo.  Can't wait to see them test Wii Sports and their new Wii Fit, and to kick Mr. J's ass at Mario Kart.

Today Mom and I are off to the outlet mall at Round Rock (Le Creuset! Eddie Bauer! Gap!) and then "dunch", dinner/lunch, at The Salt Lick.  Mmmm, barbeque and beer...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

FYI: feeling better, still not great. All will be well!

Travel day

On my way to Austin, TX.  SeaTac at 7:30 AM isn't awful, but coffee at SBX still makes it better.

Knitting: Fetching in Malabrigo Silky Merino, colorway Vigo. One down...

Monday, October 12, 2009

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Sad Fish

I saw a great avatar picture on Ravelry today:

This sums up my last 24 hours pretty damn well.  I missed a single day's dose of Vitamin Anti-D--which means I went 24 hours without any pills in my system--and it sent me into a tailspin of epic proportions.  Dizzy brain, nausea, loss of appetite, exhaustion, and uncontrollable crying jags.  Sam knew something was very wrong from minute one, and proceeded to snuggle the hell out of me at every opportunity.  I know things aren't right with my neural chemistry when I'm violently weeping while apologizing to the dog for stressing him out.

I called one friend last night and almost asked her to come over, but she was hanging out with her boyfriend so I pretended that I'd called just to chat.  I scrolled through everyone else in my phone list and ruled all of my friends out as possible touchstones, sometimes with logical arguments ("She is in California and cannot come over for tea right now.") and sometimes out of embarassment ("How will >insert name here< react to me being in this state?").  I worried more about the consequences of having someone over on my relationship with that person than I worried about needing company.  I ended up hanging out with the Upstairs Crowd, once I figured out they were home, and watching Discovery channel while not knitting on a dishcloth.  Later, settling down in bed required over an hour of Plants vs. Zombies with my favorite golden lamp turned on nearby and lots of fluffy pillows.  Falling asleep last night was tough, and I had vivid, angry nightmares.

I almost didn't get out of bed today.

I got up and took my pills and came to work this morning because I knew staying home would be worse. 

I have not felt this horrible since 2001.  I remember starting the descent into the black pit around mid-summer, and how I could still see daylight even after the numbing madness that was 9/11.  By New Year's I was in wretched shape, sleeping 10 hours a day or more, playing computer games into the wee hours of dawn, cutting myself off from my long-time friends.  I wasn't going to the movies (my major hobby at the time as I hadn't taken up knitting yet), I wasn't cooking, I wasn't dining (just eating), I wasn't shopping, I wasn't travelling, I wasn't reading.  I got up, watched Law & Order, worked, and slept.  Nothing interested me, and nothing mattered.

In late winter I figured out that I was depressed and needed help, that nothing was fundamentally wrong with my life at the time, and that I wasn't capable of going to (or even interested in) therapy. When I finally called my doctor's office (she was an Ob-Gyn) to make an appointment, I remember being in tears and trying not to let on that I was crying. The receptionist told me that she wouldn't be able to fit me in until a month away, and that I should see my (non-existent at the time) primary care physician instead.  Which sent me into hysterics.  On the phone.  With a stranger.  I made that call at 3 in the afternoon, and I was still in bed.

I saw the doctor that week and began a chemical journey into the unknown.  I slowly got better, turning back into a functional human being who interacted with her environment and friends.  By the following winter I was OK, even good.  And over the last seven years prescriptions changed, dosages increased/decreased, and I've learned to read my tendencies and moods and mental chemistry.  I have maintained the OK, staying fairly level--in short, functioned much like everyone else on the planet.  Until yesterday.

What astonishes me is that it all came crashing down on me like a brick tower in an earthquake.  It was so sudden, so unexpected, and such a complete destruction of the even-keeled mindset I've built up that I would catagorize the event as catastrophic.  Natural disaster images come to mind.  Why would a single missed dose cause this reaction?  And what would have happened if I'd missed a second dose, or a third?

I am doing, moving forward right now, unable to focus much, but am not in the state I was yesterday or even this morning.  I vacillate between deeply sad and ragingly angry, and am restless and irritated--but I'm not crying.  I am taking Sam to the dog park this evening.  I am seeing the doctor tomorrow, and the fact that I can think about tomorrow without wanting to weep means progress.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Letters from Jen: Cashier

Dear QFC checker,

Stop talking to me. If you don't understand the conversation I'm having with my friend, don't talk over us about something only vaguely related to what we were discussing and your birthday. Ring up the groceries and send us on our way. Seriously. That's all I want at 9:30 on a Sunday morning---my groceries and to be left to my conversation about pie, farmer's markets, whatever.

Cold hands, warm...lap?

All the recent marathon sessions with Plants vs. Zombies (along with the much cooler nights that October brings) mean my hands are constantly icy cold.  As I sat with a numb hand on the mouse, blasting zombies into oblivion with Cherry Bombs and Snow Peas, something inside me clicked: Hey, I'm a knitter!  I don't have to have cold hands at the computer/waiting for the bus/while knitting if I don't want to!

Above is a selection of yarn I gathered to knit myself a few pairs of fingerless gloves.  Unless otherwise indicated, the patterns I chose are from Knitting New Mittens and Gloves.
  1. Hand Maiden Sea Silk, silver color, from my stash.  For Rusalka.
  2. Blue Sky Alpacas Melange, colorways Orange Zest and Cornflower, from my stash.  For striped fingerless mitts a la Penny's wristwarmers from Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog.
  3. Rowan Scottish Tweed DK, colorway Brilliant Pink, for $2.90/skein from Little Knits.  For Driver.
  4. Rowan Tapestry, colorway Highland, from my stash.  For Box Pleats.
  5. Misti Alpaca Hand Painted Worsted, purple colors, from my stash. For Accomplice.
  6. Malabrigo Silky Merino, a blue/green/grey color, from my stash.  For Gothic.
  7. Louisa Harding Grace, electric lavender color, from Little Knits.  For Glaistig.
  8. Debbie Bliss 100% Pure Silk, green color, from my stash.  For another pair of Fetchings, perhaps?  To be determined...
With season one of Dexter on loan from the library, I'm sure to get all this knitting done in no time.  Right?  Sam concurs: great idea.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, in short

  • Bus ride (saw ex-friend--weird--and knitting time)
  • Work (meh)
  • Burrito Payday (mmm...Chipotle)
  • Ravelry surfing (fingerless gloves are the new socks!)
  • Pattern queueing (Fetching--in progress, Accomplice, Driver, Box Pleats, Rusalka, Glaistig, Larus + Ardea, Endpaper Mitts, Winter Twilight Mitts, Dashing)
  • Christmas knitting plans (limited list--Mom, Art, Dad, Colleen, Mike, Maggie, Justin)
  • Virtual yarn shopping (the stash and Little Knits)
  • Plants vs. Zombies (level 5-3! Braaaaaaains)
  • Doggie hangouts
  • Sam to babysitters' (Sheldon and Amy, FTW!)
  • Trip to the movies (fail--passes no good until 2 weeks after the release)
  • Chocolate! (in lieu of film, at a restaurant with Mike and Maggie and Justin)
  • Knitting, beer, and hanging out (Sheldon and Amy and Tesla the puggle)
  • Prototype (watching, not playing)
  • Home for couch time with Cassie (the internets ate our evening)
  • Plants vs. Zombies (for the Mac! Level 3-4)
  • Sleepy times (technically on Saturday)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Catching up with earstwhile cohabitants

Today was roommate reunion day!  At 11AM I got a call from Katie the Newly Married Lady, who I lived with for a year in 2006-2007.  But I've known Katie since I was 19, when we worked at Liberty Bay Bakery together for a summer in Poulsbo.  We went to lunch and split a burrito, then wandered around Weaving Works fondling yarns.  Katie and I got a chance to catch up and chat in a way we haven't since she moved to Israel.  It was certainly a delightful use of my lunch hour and a vast improvement over eating ramen by myself in the windowless breakroom.

On my way home on the bus I received a text message from Jill, who I lived with for a year in 2000-2001--my last year of college at UW.  She took me out to dinner at Piecora's, where we got all caught up over pizza and beer (Boundary Bay Scotch Ale, which you should try as soon as possible because it is ambrosial--hints of caramel, but not too sweet).  I haven't spent much time with Jill since last spring, and it was good to talk to her.  Like lunch, it was an excellent use of my time, mostly for the company.

It seems strange to be on such good terms with my former housing companions, especially considering my personality.  I know I can't be the easiest person to live with.  Example one: I don't pick up on subtle hints.  I expect my roommates to actually tell me if something I am doing is bothering them, otherwise I'm going to assume all is well.  Example two: I want things my way and find it difficult to compromise sometimes, whether it be over how the bathroom is organized or how long it is reasonable to ignore the housework.  Example three: I occassionally need to be left alone to putter around the house or read, without any conversation--including an explanation about how I'm feeling that day.  It can't be much fun to try and chat with your roommate when she gives monosyllabic responses for no apparent reason.

And Katie and Jill and I not only survived living together with our respective friendships in tact, but we share the special bond that only people who have cleaned one another's hair out of the shower drain can form.  So going to a meal with these people seems like a special treat, because they are sharing their lives with me still...even if they're not sharing the dishes.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Yesterday Fail, Today...Zombified?

I had a migraine yesterday.

Today I lost many hours to this game. (This game if you have a Mac.)  So addicting and fun!


Monday, October 05, 2009

Cartoon for grownups

I loved several cartoon shows as a kid.  He-Man, She-Ra, Tiny Toons, and Animaniacs were some of the finest half-hour blocks of my childhood TV time.  My love of the animated short has continued into adulthood.

The upstairs neighbors introduced me to a show on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim called The Venture Brothers.  Imagine Johnny Quest all grown up into a jaded, bad superscientist (and self-centered douchebag) named Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture.  He has two idiot sons, Hank and Dean, and their mother is nowhere in sight.  Dr. Venture also has a massive bodyguard with a mullet and the voice of Patrick Warburton--Brock Samson.  Dr. Venture's nemesis is The Monarch, a butterfly-themed supervillian with a second-in-command named Dr. Girlfriend.  Much funnier than it sounds, the show makes a bevy of pop culture references in any given episode and debates the villain/hero dynamic.  (While Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog had the Evil League of Evil, the supervillains in The Venture Brothers are governed by the Guild of Calamitous Intent.)  The characters build over the course of the first three seasons, and my favorites are Master Billy Quizboy, Henchmen 21 and 24, Brock Samson, Dr. Orpheus, and The Monarch.

Sample dialogue:
Henchman 21: Here is where you are wrong, my friend. This woman has killed before.
Henchman 24: Allegedly.
Henchman 21: Okay, whatever. But she was a big girl. We are talking about a large, healthy woman of questionable stability.
Henchman 24: Oh, you are totally underestimating the never-say-die scrappiness of a survivor.
The Monarch: Hey, guess what? Nobody cares who would win in a crazy fantasy fist-fight between Anne Frank and Lizzie Borden. We never should have brought the henchmen. We're going to be the only ones there with henchmen!

Brock Samson: After the twist, you'll feel a snap and the body goes ragdoll on you.
Hank Venture: And that will knock him out... even more?
Brock Samson: That will kill him.
Hank Venture: Do I have to?
Brock Samson: Alright, fine crybaby. Tie him up and, I guess, gag him. But at the first sign of trouble I want you to at least break both his knees.

Dr. Girlfriend: Killing your arch-enemy on Christmas Eve - that's a gift for me?
The Monarch: Well, I got you some stocking-stuffers too...

Season four starts on October 18.  Cartoon Network has whole episodes available to watch for free on their website, so get caught up while you can.  Go Team Venture!!!

Things to do on a sunny October Sunday

  1. Wake up with dog staring at you and whining softly, then using your face as a headrest.
  2. Try to sleep in and fail due to persistent doggie interference (see: headrest).
  3. Get up and dressed in clean but not too clean clothes.
  4. Decide laundry may be in order.
  5. Call friends with dog and invite over for breakfast.
  6. Do a few handy dishes until friends arrive.
  7. Watch dogs as they act like they haven't seen each other in years.
  8. Make migas.
  9. Watch dogs watching you eating migas.
  10. Go to the dog park as a group, being sure to bring the holy Throwing Stick and the sacred (yet filthy) Squeaky Tennis Ball.
  11. Throw ball until you are tired--because the dog never will be.
  12. Come home and do dishes from last night's meal.
  13. Strip bed and start laundry.
  14. Knit.
  15. Invite friend (who you haven't seen in three weeks and you usually see at least twice a week, occasionally wondering if she actually lives with you--but in a nice way) over for dinner and afternoon hanging out.
  16. Talk on the phone with mom.
  17. Move laundry to dryer.
  18. Greet friend as she arrives.
  19. Commence snacking.
  20. Do snack dishes.
  21. Watch The Two Towers extended edition, disc one, skipping only one Frodo & Sam section (the Black Gate).
  22. Knit.
  23. Use the between-discs break to go grocery shopping, do more dishes, and put dinner in the oven.
  24. Watch the moon rise
  25. Watch The Two Towers extended edition, disc two, until the beginning of battle at Helm's Deep.
  26. Serve dinner and eat: Coq au vin with Big House Red, goat cheese mashed potatoes, and peas with a little butter.
  27. Watch The Two Towers extended edition, disc two, through the fan club credits while discussing sock patterns for friend's Dream In Color Smooshy in Punky Fuschia.
  28. Drive friend home with the dog as company.
  29. Tidy living room, putting dishes in the kitchen.
  30. Die a little inside as you realize you'll have to put dishes away before you can do any more.
  31. Shower instead.
  32. Put flannel sheets on the bed. (Yay fall!)
  33. Lie on bed, letting back spasm until it stops and the muscles are relaxed.
  34. Decide not to do more dishes.
  35. Realize laundry is still in the dryer and may not be dry.
  36. Use "dog asleep on my feet" as a justification for not getting off the bed and checking laundry.
  37. Post meme to blog and go to sleep.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Spaghetti night

Today I made spaghetti with tomato-based meat sauce for dinner, and the pot was big enough for leftovers for days and days to come.  Roommate Cassie had a huge portion as well, yet I still have pasta and meat enough to feed a couple of teenage boys.

Holy crap lunches for days!

The funny thing is, I don't like spaghetti with tomato-based meat sauce.  When I was a kid, we had spaghetti night rather often.  My mom always made the sauce from scratch using chunky canned tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, and ground beef.  She'd add a bay leaf and oregano and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, then serve with Kraft parmesan cheese in a can.  (We did not know of real Parmigiano-Reggiano's powers until I was in my twenties.)  This was the recipe she grew up with, and it was called "spaghetti" all by itself--as if there were no other way to prepare the noodles known as such.  No doubt it was delicious--my mom is a great cook--but I hated it.  I picked out the onions and chunks of tomatoes entirely and scraped most of the meat bits and remaining sauce off of the noodles, adding as much cheese as I was allowed before eating as little as possible.  Yum-o!

One of the joys of adulthood is that I don't have to eat foods I don't like.  "Screw you, fresh tomatoes!  Die green beans!"  No one can make me sit at the table until I've eaten enough of a food I don't like and no one can force me to try something new.  (I can hear my mom now: "Just one bite! Try it--you don't have to eat it all, just try it."  She still can't believe the things my brother and I will eat now.  We were terrible children.)  I have spent my adult life actively avoiding spaghetti with tomato-based meat sauce.  I usually keep a single jar of tomato sauce (something on sale that has a lot of garlic or minimal chunks of tomatoes) and a box of spaghetti in the cupboard "in case of emergency"--though what emergency requires marinara I don't want to know.  I suspect the real reason I keep spaghetti fixings on hand is guilt over not liking my mom's spaghetti and making spaghetti night a battleground over the dinner table.

I acquired some inexpensive organic ground beef from Costco last week, I had a few veggies on hand that needed to be used, and I had a single can of plain tomato sauce in the cupboard.  So I thought I'd give "spaghetti" a whirl once again.  For tonight's sauce, I roasted an onion and a whole head of garlic, as well as a green bell pepper and a red bell pepper.

My sous-chef

I pureed all those together and mixed in a can each of organic tomato sauce from TJ's and tomato paste, a cup of leftover shiraz, salt and pepper.  I browned a pound of organic ground beef in my 4.5 quart Le Crueset pot, crumbling the meat as much as possible, then added in the sauce mixture, dried oregano and dried basil.  I forgot the bay leaf.  It simmered for an hour and a half.  I tossed the sauce with a whole box of cooked spaghetti, then served with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Thar be dragons here--in my spaghetti.

And do you know what?  I didn't like it.  Maybe I should have skipped the ground beef entirely and just let the veggie flavors shine.  Maybe I should have added a few red pepper flakes like I do with all of my other pastas.  Maybe I should have remembered the bay leaf.

But I'm still happy with my spaghetti night, even if I have a giant pot of leftovers I don't want to eat.  Because the real reason I made spaghetti tonight?  I miss my mom.

Only 12 days to go on the Texas countdown...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Tag Team

There is no internet at my house.  No cable either.  Hasn't been since Tuesday. Withdrawl is severe at this point, because I'm missing my TV Husband and I can't catch up on Hulu.

 I know in the grand scheme of the universe this isn't a real problem.  Not having potable water, safe shelter, or edible food?  That is a real problem.  A star going supernova to wipe out all life in the surrounding system?  That's a problem.  Lack of internet at my house for three days when I could just walk to the nearest internet cafe or go to Mike's house or even just read a book?  Minor inconvenience.

My cable/internet provider's reaction to the issue is what bugs me.  This non-Comcast craptastic company insists that our lack of cable/internet is an isolated incident and that their computers don't show an outage in our area.  What "Megan" at customer service said, however, was that there had been a large outage on Tuesday, but that it had been repaired and that our house's connection should be back on.  The fact that we're not isn't considered a part of the priority outage--we're just S.O.L. that their repairs didn't work for us and now have to wait over a week for one of the repair guys to show up (between one and four in the afternoon) and try to fix it.  Nine days, to be exact, because our house gets put in the queue along with any other maintenance and installation visits.

So Justin from upstairs and I are lucha libre freedom fighters in the wrestling ring of customer service, tag-teaming the non-Comcast craptastic company via phone calls to their 800 number.  I called yesterday and again today, as did he, and we cited one another's outages as enough evidence to warrant priority treatment.  I actually spoke to the same rep both times, "Megan", which makes me worried that the company is not only craptastic and not Comcast, but that they have all of four employees and could go under any day given the sheisty economy.  Results of our two-man frontal assault so far: a possible jump up the service queue to next Tuesday, as opposed to next Friday, and prorated charges for all the days of our outage.

I wonder what our wrestling names would be if we were a real tag team duo?  I want the purple and red spandex tights, Justin can wear grey on black.

Now playing: Astronaut - Duran Duran

Thursday, October 01, 2009

What is the opposite of burning books?

Hey everybody--it's national Banned Books week! Thank you to my mom over at Living La Vida Bastrop for the reminder.

Yes, it is once again that time of year when I want to read Vonnegut, Orwell, Twain, and even Salinger (ugh) just to flip The Man the bird...and to remind myself how precious our personal liberties are and how easily they could be revoked if The Man decided to do so.

The official event runs from September 26 to October 3 and is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA). Click the ALA link to see the list of some of the most frequently banned books in the nation, then head to your local library and check out one of them. Even if you don't get around to reading it, showing interest in books that others find offensive/corrupting/distasteful seems the surest way to keep the library shelves diversely stocked.

Some local library links, because I love my libraries:
Seattle Public Library - My personal local library system, there are 27 branches and a mobile unit for those who can't get out. I've been to several of the branches each one has been a good place to visit just to sit and read or surf the internet, attend an author event or other program, or even...check out a book.
King County Library System - The creme de la creme of libraries! With 45 branches and what seems like every book/CD/DVD ever, you can reserve any book in the system online and have it sent to your local branch--usually within 48 hours. The buildings are gorgeous and the programs are great.

Check out the GoodReads link over on the left side to see my book list and what I've recently read. I'm currently reading Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, translated to English as I read zero Japanese. It made the ALA 2009 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults list under the Death and Dying category, and is serving as an interesting companion piece to The Long Walk and The Hunger Games/Catching Fire.

Happy reading.