8/29/05: In Memorium

Today my heart is heavy as I remember my beloved city, New Orleans. I grieved hard one year ago, as I watched in horror as a vibrant, carefree and wonderfully diverse city drowned and its people suffered and despaired. They are still suffering, and struggling, and despairing...wondering if there will ever again be life as they and their families knew it. I still grieve for the people and the city.

I am unable to articulate the feelings and thoughts I have had through all of this. There is a mixture of relief, that I escaped the trauma and suffering, as well as guilt because I wasn't there. I still have days of tears and depression, even for those I don't know. And of course, for my city. And although she has been broken and disfigured and beaten down, has not given up and never will. And because New Orleans and her people have not given up, the true Spirit of New Orleans lives on and will always be my city and my heart's home.

God bless New Orleans and her people. Amen.


The Yarn Who Doesn't Want To Grow Up And Leave Home

So, Rosa Parks Jr.
still has not decided what she wants to be when she grows up and she is now debating whether she actually wants to be anything or just live at home in the stash bin. After all, she has it pretty darn good there....it's cozy, she can hang out with her friends, she doesn't have to get out there and work or earn her keep, and she doesn't have to make any decisions. She can sleep in, watch TV all day and eat junk food. But, as a responsible yarn parent, it is my job to get those slacker skeins motivated and out there on their own.

The Slacker Yarn Children (aka "The Stash")

Therefore, I have agreed to help Rosa Jr. by knitting up some test swatches in different patterns to help make her decision a bit easier - think of it as career counseling for yarn. So far, she has decided she doesn't want to be a bias scarf, she is not drapy enough for 'feather and fan', and she has no interest in anything associated with drop stitches or eyelets. If she had it her way, she'd do the minimum neccesary and just work at being a long, straight garter stitch gal, but I know she has much more potential than to just settle for mediocricy.

I have a few more swatches to try. My goal is to have her make the decision by the end of this evening so I can begin knitting tomorrow.

And if this plan fails, I guess I can always start charging her rent.

"Give me back my chair or I'll eat you!"


Existential Yarn

"Who am I? What's the meaning of my life? Why was I put here?"

As a knouveau knitter, I am continually learning not just the techniques of knitting, but the ways of experiencing the knitting process as well. For instance, I have read about many knitters who say the yarn "talks" to them. Naturally, as a psychologist-type person, I immediately think "delusional, perhaps even psychotic". What kind of people am I starting to emmulate here? But then I have my own moment of fiber insight - and all of sudden I GET IT.

That yarn I have for the funky scarf swap? I swear it's trying to talk to me. I started off with a pattern in mind, began knitting on #15 needles and 4 rows into it, Rosa (the yarn already came with a name. This disease hasn't yet progressed to the point where I am naming yarn on my own) said she didn't like what she was becoming and to stop now. So I did. Then we tried #17's because, well, she's sorta chubby in spots. Rosa said this was definitely NOT her, so we frogged and decided to try #13's - nope - then 11's. I don't think she's cut out to be the kind of scarf I wanted her to be (sigh). Problem is, she's clammed up and isn't giving me even a hint of what she has in mind. My yarn is having an identity crisis!

"I don't know what I want to be when I grow up..."

If this keeps up, I'll be bringing her to see a counselor who can maybe help her understand herself, gain some insight and help her figure out how to reach her true potential. Meanwhile, I'll go back to knitting on the urban camo who knew just what he wanted to be and hasn't suffered a moment of angst since being cast on.


Hydrangea Heaven

This year has been a good year for my hydrangeas. Hydrangeas are one of my very favorite shrubs - easy to grow, great garden color from late spring through early winter, long-lasting blooms - what more can you ask from a flowering shrub? I have 3 varieties in my front gardens: Oakleaf, Limelight, and Annabelle. I would have more, except they would have to go into the back gardens, where they would become deer candy, which would break my heart and cause me to put out a contract on Bambi & co.

These were planted last June, right after we moved into the new house. They bloomed much heavier than I expected and I was able to dry a bunch of them to bring to my new neighbors as they moved in. This year, I've harvested a huge bunch which I've started drying out on the porch. As soon as they're done, I may do another batch since they are still out there in abundance. This way, I'll have flowers all over the house throughout the winter as well as few small bunches to share.

I also found out how to block the silk scarf I recently finished knitting. It was much less complicated than I thought it was going to be. Here's how I did it:

I used my cutting board as it has a grid. I pinned the scarf all around with stainless steel T-pins. Then I spritzed it with room-temperature distilled water and am leaving it to dry overnight.

I also found the yarn I will be using for the Funky Scarf swap. It's Shaefer (a merino with a touch of nylon), hand-dyed in the "Rosa Parks" colorway. It is very cushy and I can't wait to start it. One of the gals at the lys helped me select a pattern that won't be too challenging for my limited attention span yet is quite funky. Hope my FSpal likes it.

Finally, I cast on and completed 6 rows of the grey "Urban Camo" scarf, which is similar to the dark green "Urban Camo" scarf I had completed for my brother and then frogged because it ended up too short:(:(:( I am using a different variation of the placement of the colors which I think I like better. I'll get back to my brother's scarf at some point since I don't need it until Christmas and need this grey one before then. I want to do a few rows of the second color and will then post a picture of the WIP.

And now, it is time to gather up sleepy kittens and puppies and go to bed because we have lots of cleaning to do tomorrow in order to be ready for C's aunt who is coming to visit for a few days. There are LOTS & LOTS of dust bunnies to round up, so must...get...sleep...


Let's Get Funky!

Yay!!!! I signed up for the Funky Scarf swap - my first. I'm so excited, it's practically dorky. And I heard from my swap pal and have made initial contact with my own swap pal so we are good to go. I alresdy have some ideas of what I'd like to do, but it will depend on what my buddy likes. I've visited her blog and seen a few pictures, and think I'm starting to get a little sense of her style. But, OMG she is a good knitter! And I am not! Intimidation strikes! But at least I can knit scarves. Either that or a cat bed, so we're safe.

Now here is the questionnaire for my secret pal:

Let’s get the allergy part out of the way. Are you allergic to any fibers?
No, just shrimp, pollen, and mold. Also math.

Do you prefer any fibers over others?
I prefer natural to synthetic, both to knit with and to wear. I'm not crazy about eyelash, scratchy, real fuzzy yarns or metallics.

Thinking back to Scout’s post about what funky means to you, post an image of something that you think is funky!
Okay, here's some random stuff I would call funky.

Would you prefer funky yarn or a funky pattern?

What are your favorite colors?
Turquoise, blues and violets

What is your favorite piece of art?
I have too many to post! However, these 2 really speak to me:

(The one on the bottom was painted by an elephant, which is part of what I love about it. How funky is that?)

What colors would you never have up close to your pretty face?
Red, green, yellow, beige

Would you prefer an actual scarf or a cowl?
Scarf me!

When you wear a scarf do you prefer a wider/shorter scarf or a thin/long scarf?
Probably more long and thin.

What is the climate like where you live?
Everything, 4 true seasons.

Would you prefer a functional scarf (to keep you warm) or one just to funk-up your wardrobe?
Surprise me!

What else would you like your partner to know about you?
I like things that are eclectic with a touch of exotic/world flavor. And I really, really, really want world peace. And a chunk of chocolate cake would taste really good right now.

Okay, this is probably way more info than anyone wants to know about me. I can't wait to find out what my secret buddy puts on her own list - after all I need to get to the lys ASAP! And buy yarn!!!! Maybe some new needles!!!! And maybe more yarn, 'cause...well, you know.


A Little Creole On the Prairie

Today wasn't bad for a Sunday. I slept in a bit, did a tiny bit of cleaning, made some groceries (as we say in New Orleans), and made a run to one of my favorite yarn stores, The Studio.

They have a great selction of natural fibers and very friendly staff. More than makes up for the fact that their air conditioner was barely working today, with temps in the high 90's. I picked up another skein of the Noro that I was working on 2 weeks ago and kept frogging, some more Beatrice and Lamb's Pride Extra Bulky in a grey colorway for a man's scarf, and some more Beatrice and a beautiful orchid color silk/merino that coordinates with it for my SIL's scarf (or maybe for me if I fall in love with it). This'll keep me busy for a couple of weeks. And I've had my stash fix for the week so I'm a happy Knitter!

Then I broke out my beautiful new skillet and got to work cooking up this stuff:

Here is the recipe. It's really easy, extremely healthy and delicious too.

Creole Summer Stew

1 lb fresh okra, sliced into 1/4" wheels
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 large, firm tomato, diced (remove seeds)
2 ears fresh sweet corn, cut off cob
1 1/2 lb very lean ground beef
2 TBLS garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
1 TBLS Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning (use more for a hotter dish)
1/4 tsp thyme
1 large bay leaf
2 Abita Turbo Dog beers (or substitute)
salt and pepper to taste

Pour approximately 1 cup beer into a large skillet, add okra and 1/2 Tony's seasoning and bring to a lively simmer. Simmer okra for 30 minutes, stirring often. It will look gooey - don't worry, just keep cooking. Drain okra into colander and rinse until the sliminess is gone. Raise the temperature of stove, add 1/2 cup Turbo Dog to skillet and saute onions and peppers until the onions are transluscent. Add meat, 1 TBLS garlic powder and cook until the meat is browned. Add the corn, tomatoes and rest of seasonings and beer. Stir well, lower the heat so mixture is simmering, cover loosely and cook down, approximately 30 minutes. Drink the other Turbo Dog while waiting. Eat it alone or serve over rice. Serves 6-8.

Here it is cooking.
Even C (aka "Yankee-Boy") liked it! And I was satisfied by my taste of home. And who would of thought that okra grows on the prairie? By the way, for you who may be okra-haters, this is also a great way to cook mirlitons (chayote) or zucchini. You can also substitute chicken or shrimp for the beef.

>And what is a good meal without good music? We listened to the new CD by Elvis Costello and Allan Toissant, "The River In Reverse". I cannot recommend this highly enough. I could listen to Elvis Costello's voice singing anything, 24/7/12. But to hear him singing New Orleans R&B, with killer backup is to die and go to funk heaven. The perfect CD for a lazy, hot and humid summer evening, dining on perfectly spiced Creole food, sipping some dark and smoky Abita beer, just being with the ones you love. With stuff this good, it's easy to feel at home in my little corner of the prairie.


Urban Adventure

Today represents a "first". My hub, C, went with me to check out a new lys! He actually agreed to do this willingly!!! Like all man-Martians, he HATES shopping in any form, so I was quite surprised. Maybe he thought that if he went along, he could keep my yarn-buying from entering the danger zone - hah! - as if that would stop me. Of course, he may have been using the promise of new yarn as foreplay...and it's working ; )

So, we climbed into the SUV and took the long journey from prairie to urban core. Our first stop (of course) was the lys. Quelle disappointment! I will not name this poor excuse for a yarn store, but let me say that any shop that has less than 1/3 of its square footage dedicated to yarn is NOT a yarn store, even though they represent themselves as such on their website. And when at least 1/2 of the yarn is synthetic, well, call me a snob, but they are no better than the giant chain craft stores, although mucho pricier. What a HUGE letdown, since I was hoping to find some beautiful merino for my SIL's Christmas gift and some really fun handspun for the Funky Scarf swap I have joined. Needless to say, I bought nothing. C was sympathetic,. bless him.

We strolled over to the River Market, where we had a lovely Thai salad and satay. I bought some fresh, tender, baby okra pods, red bell peppers and sweet onions. Time to make some Creole Smothered Okra - to die for! Even if you think you don't like okra, this is one to try. I will post the recipe in the next few days. (Just like Pavlov's dogs, I am drooling already).

Then we visited the delightful (and thankfully air-conditioned) Steamboat Arabia Museum. This is a celebration of treasures that were found buried in a Kansas wheat field and an enjoyable way to spend 2 hours on a hot, muggy Saturday.

Finally, we stopped in at Pryde's in Westport, a mecca for cooks and gardeners. This was C's idea, bless him again. See, several years ago I splurged on a Berndes frying pan - non-stick, deep, covered - perfect for sauteeing, braising, steaming, wokking, pan-frying, etc. - in other words, the most versatile piece of cookery I owned. I loved this pan, wanted to marry it. And C (aka "Mr. Why Read Instructions, It's Just A Frying Pan") - well, let's just say my beautiful pan needed to be replaced. So we got a replacement today - the LAST one of its kind, they don't make this particular model anymore. So, my relationship with the pan-of-all-pans continues anew....and C has already read the instructions carefully. So, I shall be christening the pan with some luscious smothered okra tomorrow....mmmmmmm! And, you don't need to follow a recipe for this dish - my kind of cooking.

If you've noticed, none of my pictures have been publishing the past week or so, even from previous posts that did show them before. I don't know what's going on, but have contacted the Blogger geeks for help and hopefully they'll figure out what's going on.



It is still hot. It is still steamy. And it is ozoney. So my allergies are at an all-summer high and I am miserable, no matter what I take. So I am taking advantage of the fact I have no energy to do anything but to Knit, Knit, Knit. And as long as I am not challenged by any more than a simple garter stitich, we are cookin'. I am almost finished with a mystery project I started about 2 weeks ago and will bind off on that tonight, finally. I have also gotten most of the urban camoflage scarf finished and should bind off on that one tomorrow night. Here is a glimpse of the mystery project:

When I have allergies, I am brain dead. Unable to be clever, creative, or lucid for that matter. Bad timing since my practice is going into overtime, what with most of the schools starting this week. (Lucidity is a good trait in a therapist.) So, trying desperately to think of something to post that is interesting (at least to me), I have resorted to my usual desperate tactics of posting cute pictures of my canine and feline children. The first is Abbie, looking about as pathetic as it is possible for a beagle to look:

Try to imagine this face accompanied by incessent, heart-breaking little moans. And, no, I did not do this just to have a laugh at her expense...she had a bug bite on her tail and had chewed it raw. The vet made us do it. She is all better now, thanks to Dr. D and his Cone of Humiliation.
How hot has it been? Even Criquette has abandoned the porch in favor of air-conditioned comfort:

Stay cool ya'll.


A Special Day

Today is special because, ** years ago, my little sister was born. My sister (aka "Sassy FouFou") is 10 years younger than me - I'm doing us both a favor by being discreet about her age. I probably had a bad case of sibling rivalry and can't say I was always nice to her, in fact, I tortured her on a regular basis because that's one of the jobs an older sibling has to do, right?

Anyway, she grew up to become one of my favorite people in the world. She is one of the sweetest, most kind-hearted and forgiving people I know, as well as being a great cook and super mother. And she is an artist and the gift I am sending her is to remind her of that, even though she doesn't have time right now to focus on her art talent. Plus I am throwing in a little silliness, because don't we all need more silliness in our lives? (I am reminded of this every day by the fun, courageous kids I work with.)

So Happy, Happy Birthday, Sassy FouFou - hope your year is full of grace and blessings and joy and chocolate! Love, CriquetteAnne.
PS: I tried to post some cute pictures, but something is messed up with the server:(