Friday, December 29, 2006


I just read What's Wrong with Cinderella? from the NY Times magazine. I highly recommend you go read it, while it's still available and not archived (yes, you need an account but it's free as long as it hasn't been archived. Even NY Times journalists need to get paid).

The premises discussed in this article make me so angry I can't even spit straight. And perhaps I might be a wee bit drunken, which just makes me even angrier, but maybe that means if i offend you, I can claim it was the booze? But no, not really.

I am not, never have, nor will I ever be a princess. You think that blog name is something cute? I'm big, people, and I always have been. I've got size 11 feet. I really and truly am big-boned. I hope you enjoyed your prom 'cuz I never went to one, and I can count on one hand the number of "dates" I've experienced. If I were walking down the street, you wouldn't say that I'm fat, but I'm large. The word "petite" would not ever apply to me, even if I were starving. I'm not delicate, graceful, nor do I have a waspy waist and size-A non-existant breasts. I'm BIG. And I look like I have consumption when I wear pink.

There shouldnt' be ANYTHING WRONG with being a waspy waist and having size-A non-existant breasts. Or any variation on this. My problem with this is that there IS something wrong. And there's something very wrong when there's no other choice than to be Pink pink pink princess all the time and if you're not, you're not truly a girl.

From the department of too much information:
I have long hair. I've got the big, thick, to-die-for gorgeous hair, but you know why I keep it that way? Okay, one, I'm lazy and unwilling to spend time with either "product" (gah, when did THAT become a descriptive noun?) or hairspray in my hair, but also: to prove I'm female. No one disputes that you're a girl when you've got long hair.

I've got bad skin, big feet, I look ill in pink and I haven't got that "natural femininity" or whatever that all these other women have. I went into a very "masculine" career. It makes me unbearably sad when I see that even fewer woman are going into this particular field and the sciences in general. Why? because it's not "feminine". As if feminine is supposed to mean more hugs and less brains. I like hugging. This should not be a separate thing than brains.

And it makes me furious that marketers are setting up these kind of role models all for the almighty dollar. "We're just giving them what they want," they say, but the point of parents is not to feed your children candy all the time. And not perpetuate the myth that either you are delicate and fragile and must be catered to and good and kind and sweet and perfect and dance impeccably and look great in ball gowns but oh, we couldn't have you doing anything that gets your hands dirty, not in that lovely gown. Or you are a big MANLY MAN and you take care of your little princess so she doesn't worry her little (dumb) head. Don't lie to yourself that this isn't about brains and capability. There is no adjective for 'capable' in the whole Princess mythos. It's about being coddled. Why else would you be wearing a corset and gown. Why else would you need Prince Charming to COME AND SAVE YOU. Fuck that.

At the same time I always so desperately wished Mr. Charming would show up with 2 dozen roses and tell me I was beautiful and lovely and everything he ever wanted in a woman. Oh sure, grow your own garden and I did so, thanks very much, but that doesn't make you not stop and wonder just what the hell's wrong with yourself that you seemed to be so at odds with The Perfect Girl.

Now, I go shopping for clothes for my little 6-month-old neice and it makes me ill to see the choices. Pink, pink, more pink, maybe some purple for the girls and flowers and teddy bears and cute sayings and "born to shop". The boy's clothes? Navy, grey, bright red, army green. With lots of machinery and camo mixed in. All of the boy's clothes say "capable" and all the girl's clothes say "delicate". At 6 months?

Please realize what this all might be doing to little girls. I was never, ever good enough. NEVER good enough, despite the grades and top schools and the hairspray (oh yes, for a bit) and the goodness and kindness and tight shoes and frilly dresses. Years and years and I'm still fucked up in the head about all this crap and just what is "feminine" anyway? Is it really Sleeping Beauty in her gorgeous gown, waiting for El Charmino to slash through the thorns, defeat the evil witch, and wake her up? Thanks, I'd rather be Maleficent. At least she's handy with a wand.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ho ho ho

We're off visiting my parents and family in Albuquerque for Christmas, so I'm not posting nor checking my email much.
I am also the lame-o for having forgot the camera cable, so no pretty xmess pictures until next week. I'm having a good time, playing a lot of DDR, enjoying my utterly adorable 6-month-old neice, and just generally being lazy. Mmm, lazy.

In any case, have yourself a merry little Christmas; or I hope you had a great Hanukkah, or happy Solstice, or at least I hope you're having a nice day, if you celebrate something else or nothing at all.

Monday, December 18, 2006

You've lost that Christmas feelin'

Over dinner on Saturday, K the Love Monkey mentioned that he wasn't feeling very Christmas-ey this year, despite it being a week away. And I realized I wasn't either.

I don't know if this is because there has been so much going on this year that it feels as if it's suddenly December and HEY YEAH WHERE DID ALL THE REST OF THAT YEAR GO? I haven't been paying that much attention to the passage of time.

We discussed how maybe it was because there's been decorations in stores since October that you just get immune to the influence. K remarked that you now get Xmess for 1/6 of the year, and even longer for stupid stores who start in September. I'd just like to let all you retailers know: you're not doing yourselves any favors with me, starting that early. One of the reasons decorations evoke a nice feeling is IF THEY ARE KEPT FOR A SPECIAL TIME.

K thinks it's because we HAVEN'T been in a mall, in a feels-so-good-when-you-stop-doing-that-annoying-thing way. That you appreciate the good bits of Christmas so much more when you can finally quit shoving through crowds. Crowd shoving has been at an all-time low this year at Chez Love Monkey & Big Alice.

Me, I don't know. I don't decorate much, seeing as we ALWAYS travel and so why put up decorations we aren't going to be around to enjoy. I love having a tree but I hate having to kill something just to enjoy it. Also IANAID (I am not an interior decorator). But I usually get excited about the season.

I like to give gifts to people. I like the ambience of Christmas. I like the reds and the greens and the golds and the air of anticipation. But this year it feels just the same as any other winter month (except I am about frothing at the mouth to get the week and a half vacation that's going to arrive IN ONE DAY. oh thank FSM.)

Perhaps it's because this year, more than any other, I feel acutely just how much I have in relation to so much of the rest of the world. Just how screwed so many people are. It makes me feel sad and guilty a lot of the time.

And there's still no Christmas feel today despite filling out 52 billion holiday cards on Sunday. Yes, Virginia, that is a plethora of cards! Well, maybe not quite that many. Maybe more like 60. But hello! I've never written that many cards at one time, in my life. I think I need some kind of freaking medal. Or maybe just pass the rum. (For inexplicable reasons, my associations are: rum is for Christmasmas, vodka's for New Year's. And whiskey/whisky's for whenever you just feel like you need to feel ADULT).


By the way, we are just fine after the Big Killer Storm of the PNW. It really didn't hit Oregon that hard east of the coast range. We didn't lose any power (we live in Portland metro) and despite the blowing-ness, there weren't that many big branches or trees down. I was in a LYS Friday night (I KNOW, too much yarn. Yes, but this is a sweater for K. The very first sweater I am ever making him) and they have big plate glass windows that shook and rattled every time the wind gusted up. I told the person at the front she could always duck quickly under the desk if a tree came through. It did not make for calm yarn shopping, though.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Striped Scarf

I made this for me, more than a month ago. This fall I realized that all I had was a ratty old acrylic pink scarf from when I was 14, and I decided I was a knitter and I needed a scarf.

Yarn: Teseo Divé in color 2822. A self-striping orange/red/brown in 55% wool, 45% microfiber. I used all of 3 balls, including unraveling my swatch. Bought at Mabel's Cafe and Knittery.

Pattern: Mistake Rib stitch from Barbara Walker #1. Cast on a multiple of 4 +3 and K2P2 until the scarf is long enough. Or you run out of yarn (sigh).
I cast on with a long-tail cast-on and cast-off with Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bind-off. I think it looks much like the cast-on.

Needles: US 8/5 mm Addi Turbos. I started with 5.5 mm but I thought the ribbing was too loose. The microfiber content of this yarn made it squeak! Squeaky Yarn, what tool of the devil is that? I absolutely could not stand knitting this with anything but shiny metal. Metal needles were fine, no squeak and no discomfort.

Notes: Yeah, it's part microfiber. I don't care. I fell in love with the color, and the feel is really nice, springy and soft too (I'm sensitive to wool, especially at the neck). It's a single ply so I'm sure it'll be pill-o-riffic by next year, but I love it anyway.

A closeup of the mistake rib, which is a very easy pattern and I like the results. It's not quite so assertive as full ribbing.

The yarn self-stripes in random-ish intervals (I used an entire ball until I got to where it was repeating itself). I used Russian joins (water and agitation) to join each new ball of yarn and they blended in nicely, probably because this is a single ply yarn. Also, the colors change often enough that I did not feel the need to match the colors ending and starting a ball.

The scarf's a little short -- I should have bought another ball of the stuff, but the yarn has been marinating in the stash for several months and they didn't even have the color still in stock, let alone the dyelot.

It's a thick scarf yet the ribbing and the springiness and loft of the yarn keeps it from overwhelming me. Soft, warm, fuzzy, and ORANGE! woo!

Barry's comin' to Portland!

I was walking over to buy Size 15 needles a couple weeks ago (Yes! 15! 10 mm! Don't ask why) and saw this poster:

An evening of music and passion, baby. Barry, you're still lookin' fine!

Aww, some part of the proceeds go for Cystic Fibrosis research, so we can't mock the Manilow too much. However, someone has GOT to get Copacabana out of my head now.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Keep Big Alice Weird*

Rabbitch tagged me for a meme! I don't usually do memes but I feel all squishy inside 'cuz no ones ever tagged me specifically before. Squishy. Maybe I should have the doctor check that out.

“THE RULES:Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.”

My Weird List
  1. I use handkerchiefs. I got tired of the wads of wet tissue in my pockets.

  2. Using the wrong word for the subjunctive tense bugs me. It's WERE, people. IF SHE WERE. Normally I'm not such a grammar avenger.

  3. I avoid caffeine. I have absolutely no tolerance and it makes me shake, babble on and on, and type badly. I stick with water, fruit juice, and booze. Also, I NEED another addiction? I don't think so.

  4. I have a great memory for obscure facts, especially media, but I cannot recall facts on request most of the time. I also can't remember useful things such as names and phone numbers. I could tell you the full detailed plot of a book I read when I was 7, but I won't remember your name.

  5. I don't watch TV. We own a TV for games and movies, but have yet to connect the tuner and don't have cable. I don't miss it, except socially (when everyone's talking about blah blah blah show and I have no clue). That's why God invented DVDs.

  6. I know all the words to Lewis Caroll's poem, Jabberwocky (see #4).

And one bonus, not really weird, just LAME:

7. I am really, really bad about keeping up with my email. I used to check it twenty times a day, but now I've gone the other way. Really, I'm not snubbing or ignoring you. Just really bad at the email, ok?

I'm not gonna tag anyone because I'm bashful and because certain people might hunt me down and rip out my still-beating heart and feed it to their cat. I'll just encourage you to share your weirdness, people.


* which is a reference to a popular bumper sticker here in Portland:

Keep Portland Weird

K and I agree that it's like being cool: if you have to say it, then you're only quirky. And not in a good way. The stickers are a little too establishment, you know? Too "movement"?
Ha, but the best one I ever saw was just:

Keep Portland

Monday, December 11, 2006

I like snow

Yes, feel free to kill me now. I like snow and I like snow falling and I love the silence during a really intense snow storm.

This is not to say that I enjoy driving in slippery conditions. In fact, I find snow and ice a great excuse NOT to go anywhere at all. Except by foot. I figure, if it's going to be cold, we should at least get the consolation prize of snow to make everything pretty. Because nothing covers up ugly suburbia like snow.

One of the drawbacks of my current climate is that snow is pretty unlikely. And yes it did snow here a couple weeks ago, overnight, and in the morning it looked like this:

But you'll notice it's just a bare dusting and it's hardly sticking to anything, and by the time I'd walked to work it'd all melted. DAMMIT. I'd like a REAL SNOWSTORM please. And I lived in the mountains in Montana for a winter, so I KNOW what a Real Snowstorm is supposed to look like.

So while we're all singing "I'm Dreaming of a Wet Christmas" here in the southern bit of the Pacific NW, enjoy your lovely snow, if you live where you get such a thing (apologies to Rabbitch, but hello, that's why they call your climate the Great White FROZEN North. Actually, it's only slightly less rare in Vancouver B.C. to get a good snowfall. I still have snow envy).

Meanwhile, I guess we've got compensation, as the camellia buds look about fit to bust. Last year they started blooming January 1st and finally petered out sometime in late February. I was pruning them (yes, I know, not a good idea to prune in October, but our camellias threaten to take over the house otherwise so I have do pruning semi-annually. They don't care, they've already got hundreds of buds, a few less doesn't matter) and saw this:

I had no idea camellias fruited. or nutted, or whatever. My special friend the Internet and its spokesmodel Google informed me that yes, that was indeed a camellia fruit, and it contained seeds. Awww, my trees have babies.


Thanks everyone for the well wishes. I'm feeling better after a weekend of Not Moving Around Much and Much Snot. And now I can freely blame Jen as she has admitted to infecting me VIA HER BLOG. BEWARE! Hope your virus protection is up to date (snicker. Can you tell I'm still a little sick? Making these awful puns).

And your dinner suggestions are fabulous, thank you. I love me some chicken soup when I'm all sniffly. And spicy food, yum. And takeout, mmm yes. There's a new Thai place that K just discovered, and it is THE BOMB. No seriously, it's amazingly good. It's street Thai, so they don't have phad thai and the usual, but Oh. Goodness. Coconut rice, papaya salad, game hens roasted stuffed with lemongrass. And all from a cute takeout booth, though they just opened a sitdown restaurant next door. If you're in Portland and you like SE Asian, you MUST try Pok Pok.

Oh, and one more thing; congratulations to Wen for a successful Harlot stalking! Wooo!

Friday, December 08, 2006


I stayed home sick with a cold today. I probably could have managed work but:
a) there wasn't anything that needed doing TODAY
b) I'm pretty sure I'm ragingly contagious

In the too much information deparment, I hate it when I have yellow snot. Yuck.
Benadryl is my very good friend.

Pictures, my last resort when I have nothing to say:

This is for all you voyeurs out there who like to see other people's domicile interiors. This is the place I most like to knit, on a sunny fall day. Also known as the gaming and media futon.

Yeah, I'm no neat freak. That carpet needs vacuuming badly. I'm facing so you can't see the cat's litter box. Fortunately there's not enough detail for you see an almost entire cat's worth of cat hair on the futon. Frances the kitty, she loves a nice sunny spot as much as I do.

Any ideas for what to make for dinner? K is in "I dunno" mode and I'm not getting any inspiration either. Yesterday I made lentil soup & bread, and I think that exhausted my poor sick cooking muscles. It's one of those colds where everything but orange juice tastes funny. The zinc candies I'm sucking down every few hours don't help, I'm sure.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Greenman Hat

Pattern: Meathead, by Larissa, to be published in her upcoming book. I got a test copy of the pattern as part of the Meathead Knitalong. I did the Adult Small version (for 21-22" head)
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky, color M-184 Pistachio. Yarn was used doubled. I used 1 skein, and had about 11 yards leftover
Needles: US 13/9 mm plastic straights for the ribbing, US 15/10 mm Crystal Palace bamboo straights for the rest of the hat.
Time to complete: about 2.5 hours, but I'm a slow finisher.
Gauge: ~2.3 stitches/inch
I've never knit with needles this large and I found them quite awkward. The straight needles I used were the longest Crystal Palace needles I could find. I did the ribbing on a size smaller because my ribbing looks like crap unless I do it more tightly than stockinette.

I had trouble getting the stated pattern gauge (2 st/inch) even with the big 10 mm needles. Usually I'm a loose knitter and I need to go down a couple needle sizes, but I'll chalk this up to the awkwardness of the big needles. The hat still fits me now that I'm done, so I'm not all that worried about missing the gauge. It's about 19" around, unstretched. It fits my ~21" head snuggly and warmly.

I used the Twisted German Cast-on because I don't like the like the look of the wrong side of a long-tail cast-on, and I didn't want to change the pattern at all (e.g. do an additional row of ribbing). Twisted German is nice and stetchy as well.

The yarn is used doubled. For the cast on, my "tail" length was uneven-I made one of the yarn lengths about 5 feet longer than the other, so that I'd have an extra long length of single thickness of yarn to seam up the side when I was done. This worked very well and meant less ends to weave in at the finish. 5 feet was overkill; I really only needed 3 or so.

I call mine the Greenman hat, it seemed to be calling out for a sprig of something. It's a thick, quick, warm, and fun knit - check out the pattern when Larissa's book comes out. You can see a bunch of other people's meathead hats at the Flikr group.

It's cute, but I've already got a warm hat and so do all my family, so this one is going to someone who could use the warmth this winter. Spread the Meathead love, y'all.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Happy December

Here's another thing I've been seeing on a regular basis lately:

Socks for Audrey!

The first one is done, the second I got to the end of the short rows on the train this morning. My firm rule is No Trying To Pick Up Stitches on the Train. That way lies much gnashing of teeth and ripping of hair and dropping of stitches. Fortunately I was near the end of my train part of the commute.

The yarn is Rowan RYC Cashsoft DK in Rose, and they've each needed about a ball and a little extra, which I'm going to call 3 balls because:

There's been a knot or a bit of this near the start of each ball so far, and I'm trying to minimize the number of joins, so I just cut off the first length of yarn.

Welcome to the first day of December!

I love December and the entire Holiday Season (tm)! I think this is because:
a) I do not let myself stress out. NO STRESS. No such thing as a perfect holiday.
b) I don't have a tv. No annoying commercials, woo! I don't drive to work so not much radio either.
c) I avoid malls like the plague
d) My birthday's at the end of the month, so it's one big party from Christmas through New Years. WOO!

My company's party is tonight. Wish me luck and avoidance of dessert and one glass of wine too many.


I don't get to use that in the mathematical sense any more, such a shame.

My commute consists of:
1) walk through neighborhood to train station
2) ride light rail train downtown
3) walk through downtown to work
(reverse, rinse, repeat for going home)

For Carole:

Stuff seen on the commute to work

  1. people talking about their parole officer (often. about twice a week)
  2. horde of elementary/day care kids on field trip on public transit (once a month)
  3. Teenagers spray-painting their shoes blue while riding the train (only once, but it was memorable)
  4. Mallard duck couple (used to see them most days, but I haven't seen them since early last spring; they would hang out in the small grassy area between the on and off ramps to the bridge)
  5. Mariachi band (rehearsing/warming up in the big open area under the trade center. It was mid-summer, and they were grand. Sadly seen only once. One thing I miss about New Mexico is good mariachi.)

And because there's been a dearth of pictures on this here blog, 3 more things:

My favorite downtown tree. This is where the ducks would hang out. I hope my encouragements for them to move to a less urban location were successful. This is from months ago, back when there were still leafy things on the trees.

View out my office windows near sunset, a few days ago. This is the best office I've ever had (only office, actually) and I would have fight someone to the death if they tried take away my natural light and the view.

The same view, at night, tonight. You even get a shot of the bridge up! Um, outside is darker than that picure shows. And less reddish and more orangey.