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Would you believe….no. May 17, 2007

Posted by marymac in I'm so deep, Me me me!.

So, there were lots of interesting guesses regarding my last post.


Not what I was looking for. I seem to have out-clevered myself (this happens sometimes) and led you all astray. This is probably a sign that I shouldn’t do contests. Or I should only do them when I know what the prize is. Or when I’ve put more than thirty seconds of “hey, that would be funny” thought into the answer.

Officially, however, you were ALL right and blew the curve and I am so unprepared for your brilliance that all I can give you is my undying love and affection. Congratulations!

Aaaaanyway, as I mentioned in my last post, a couple of months ago (before I turned into a big bad-contesty liar) I had a thing and people decided to send me stuff. First came a box all the way from my beloved Theresa in Norway.

I’m not sure why Theresa even talks to me, exactly, because I am a Big Meanie, and she is the direct opposite. You know in those cartoons where the kind, gentle girl is followed around by happy woodland creatures? Well, I have it on good authority that this portrait of Theresa is quite accurate:

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Theresa doesn’t wait for shearing — she negotiates the wool from the goats. It’s FABELAKTIG.

Also fabelaktig…the stuff in the box from Theresa.

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First up, a lovely card with lovely Norwegian sheep on it.

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Next, a box.
A LUNCH box.
A Norwegian one.
I love boxes. (I’m serious — containers are fun.)

And I really love boxes that have more stuff in them.

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Seigmenn are little gummy people. And you can bite their heads off. Not that I do that kind of thing. (yum yum yum).

And then….and then….there were these:

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Okay, that’s just one, but I promise she sent both mittens. Those are the Hermione Mittens.

Bobbles, anyone? (I am actually kind of creeped out by bobbles, but Theresa’s are quite tasteful, don’t you think?)

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Oh, For the Love of Maude January 29, 2007

Posted by marymac in I'm so deep, knitting, Me me me!.

First, replies to a couple of comments on my last post.

Karen asked: Is there a superseeeecret project that I’m not aware of? Or don’t you guys love me anymore because I”m not in chat as often?

If there are any current group superseekrit projects, I’m not aware of them, either. I have some personal superseekrit projects that I’m not posting about yet because at least some of the intended recipients read this blog regularly and I am trying to be surprising…erm…to surprise them. So no pics until the gifties are in their hot little hands (and that hand comment is not a hint). Also, I think Valerie was supposed to talk to you about how we voted you out of the cool kids club because you’re not in chat as often, but you didn’t hear that from me.

And Laura says: More pink (and more Barbie) please.

There will be more pink soon, because I think you have done something to my brain. Also, Blogging is Hard! (How’s that for Barbieness?)

Okay, all personal messages aside I wanted to talk to you about…the weather. Why? Because that’s what people do here in New England. All. The. Time. I do it too, in spite of the fact that I’ve never really considered myself much of a “New Englander” — Monkee‘s assertions of my “Yankeeness” notwithstanding. I suspect this has something to do with my family’s having lived in the US for less than 100 years (yes, both sides), but that’s another post.
Recently, our weather went from this:

To this:
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No, really!

Okay, maybe over the course of a couple of weeks months. Not more than six, I swear. Regardless, it got wicked cold wicked fast, and I found myself wanting a new hat. (My old hat still worked, it was just kind of itchy, which was entirely my own fault for cheaping out with the itchy wool, I know, and that’s why I put up with the itchitude for longer than I should have. Also, I am lazy about making stuff for myself. Yes, I am deserving. Yes, I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me. Still lazy, though.)

!@#$@#&^ freezing cold can be quite motivating, however, so it only took me a couple of evenings to churn out this:

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‘Tis the Sunflower Tam from Knitting Nature, done with Patons Classic Merino in Burgundy, which I have a ton of because I think it was meant for a sweater that never happened. (I am slow as well as lazy — much of my stash was purchased for projects that never materialized.) Anyway, this took less than a ball, so I still have a ton of it. And no, that’s not my head in the picture.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the finished hat at first — the fit is fine, but it’s a little chef‘s toque-y, and I was concerned about appearing…howyousay…dorky. Fortunately, I am growing too old to put dorkiness over non-itchy headgear, and I decided to embrace the toque-yness. You’re still not getting any pics of me wearing the hat, however.

These give you a better view of the sunflower pattern:

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And lo, my head was warm, and there was much rejoicing. Which continued when I heard this news. When I was a kid I watched a lot of tv, and I associated many of the characters on my favorite shows with people I knew — mostly family members. My Aunt V. was Maude — divorced, tall, brassy, and with a mouth like a sailor. V. is still kicking at the age of seventy*mumble*, and it’s nice to see that Maude is back, too.

…compromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranquilizin’,
Right on Maude!

25 Years December 1, 2006

Posted by marymac in activism, Feeling historical, I'm so deep.

I remember a time before, when the scariest thing about S-E-X was that girls could get pregnant, and boys could make girls pregnant. And you could get mono from kissing, and maybe VD, whatever that was, from S-E-X.

I remember a time before, when people were starting to get sick. But it was only certain kinds of people, and if you interact with any of them you would be fine.

I remember a time before, when a child got sick and got kicked out of school, and then a celebrity got sick and people started to notice that something was going on.

I remember a time before, when the President of the U.S. couldn’t or wouldn’t mention in public the name of a disease that had taken the lives of thousands of people.

I remember a time before, when there was no Quilt. Before all those names, all those faces, all that grief was spread out for everyone to see. And I remember when it grew and grew and grew until the whole of it was just too much to view at once.

I remember a time before, when the medication wore people out physically, financially, and emotionally because they had to take SO DAMN MUCH of it, ALL DAY LONG, and it hurt as much as it helped and the best anyone could hope for was that it would slow down the inevitable.

I remember a time before, when volunteering to work with people who were Positive meant driving them to one medical appointment after another, and visiting them in the hospital, and being one of the only people willing to touch them, and keeping them company while they waited for the disease to take them.

I remember a time before, when I visited one of my dearest friends in the hospital and hoped he’d make it out. And he did.

Twenty-five years since the first AIDS case was reported, and it’s still affecting millions of people every day, all over the world.

December 1st is World AIDS Day — please take a minute today to think about how we can make this a time before… before the AIDS Pandemic came to an end.

World AIDS Day website:
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s excellent World HIV/AIDS Timeline: http://www.kff.org/hivaids/timeline/hivtimeline.cfm
The AIDS Memorial Quilt website: http://www.aidsquilt.org/
Information on the AIDS Pandemic: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5531a1.htm

Support World AIDS Day

Underwire, Part I October 16, 2006

Posted by marymac in Excuses for not posting, I'm so deep.

Note from The Management: Due to a combination of some kind of plague being a little under the weather, work that actually requires…working, and (mostly) a lazy streak a mile wide, posts here at Story Value are about a week behind. If you’re looking for my pictures of Yarner’s Adventures at WEBS, you’ll have to come back in a couple of days and put up with what’s here in the meantime. If you must have some current news, visit Shetha and say hello to Mister Gabriel, who just arrived last week. (I know he’s cute, but please try to make your way back here eventually.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled rant.

At some point when I was a student at Hippie College, I learned about my mother’s breast cancer. Of course, by the time I found out about it Mom had been cancer-free for five or six years already. When she was diagnosed and all through her treatment (a lymphectomy followed by radiation) my father told my brother and me vague things about cysts that needed to be removed. We were eleven and fourteen at the time.* Mom just went along with him — even now she still refers to “when I had my operation” instead of using the c-word, because talking about that sort of thing is Just Not Done.**

Anyway, the truth finally slipped out one day while I was on the phone from college begging for money from Dad. “Oh, that was when Mom had breast cancer,” he said casually. As if this was old news. Turned out, he and Mom and pretty much everyone else in the family had decided that my brother and I were too young to know/understand what was really going on when Mom was sick, so they just didn’t tell us.

I was fortunate in that I was young and healthy when I learned the truth and I’ve been able to make sure my doctors know that I have a first-degree relative who’s a breast cancer survivor so we can all be aware of things that might increase my risk (for instance, some studies have shown that oral contraceptives can increase your risk of breast cancer, others show no connection — these things are good to know).

You may already know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the US, and as someone who was unaware for longer than I’m happy about, I am certainly a proponent of awareness. So I could tell you all about doing regular breast self-exams (BSEs) (warning: boobies in that link), and where to get a free “shower card” (meaning you hang it on your shower head to remind you) with BSE instructions. I could help you find a way to donate money to the cause by clicking, by shopping, by more shopping, or by…. well, this is getting kind of silly, now.

Here’s what I think: It’s important to pay attention to your body, and if doing a breast self-exam is the only way you’re gonna pay attention to what’s happening to your boobage, then by all means do it. But no less an authority than breast cancer researcher Dr. Susan Love says that “getting acquainted with your breasts” is the most important thing, whether or not you perform a formal BSE in the shower on the appointed day every month. There’s also some question on whether mammograms are useful in women under 50 (I know you’re all spring chickens out there, but if you have a first-degree relative [like, say, your mom] who had breast cancer, they do encourage you to begin having mammograms when you’re ten years younger than she was when diagnosed).

And then there’s the shopping.

I’m all for solidarity. If you want to wear a pink ribbon or have one tattooed on your forehead or decorate your rec room with them, you should absolutely do it. But as the “bad girls of breast cancer” over at Breast Cancer Action say, Think Before You Pink. How much money from that pink or pink-beribboned Thingamahoozis you’re buying is actually going to fight breast cancer? For that $400 Dyson, it’s $40. And 3M’s swell pink sticky note campaign? In 2004 they spent $500,000 on it — and donated a total of $300,000 to the cause. Cui bono***, as the lawyers say — who benefits — the researchers or the corporation?

If you want a pink vacuum cleaner, you should have a pink vacuum cleaner. If you want to help prevent and cure breast cancer, write a check, donate your time, make something people can use. Urge researchers to look at environmental factors. Support survivors, and remember those who didn’t survive. Get angry, and kick some ass.

More in Part II, In Which We Put Our Money Where Our Mouth Is.

*Yes, a fourteen-year-old should probably have been able to figure out what was going on, but would you go looking for a possibly fatal disease if you didn’t have to? This was BG (Before Google), so one believed what one was told or one did hours of research at the library.

**She uses it for other people, too: so-and-so’s husband had “an operation” (prostate cancer); my aunt had “the operation” (breast cancer)….

***As if the world needed any further evidence that I am acquainted with entirely too many lawyers.

451 October 2, 2006

Posted by marymac in Celebrate!, I'm so deep.

Family legend has it that I learned to read when I was three years old. I don’t know how accurate the story is (Mom and Dad aren’t the most reliable sources), but I definitely don’t remember learning — no a-ha moment that I can recall when those squiggles on the page suddenly became letters and words — and I definitely was reading before I started school. So three’s as good an age as any.

(This was long before the days of Make Your Baby A Geeen-yus videos, of course — Dad read to me when he got home from work in the evenings and Mom plunked me down in front of educational television* during the day and somehow it just happened.)

I’ve since discovered that knowing how to read at such a young age isn’t that uncommon, but it was a Big Deal in our house and my big parlor trick when company came over. And when the well-meaning but slightly misguided folks from the school system showed up one day to make sure I’d be able to handle kindergarten in spite of the hardship of coming from a bilingual home, they acted like it was downright miraculous.

Misguided School System Folks made me read out loud to them from a McCall’s or Redbook or some such thing one of them had in her car because she thought that I’d just memorized all of the kids’ books in the house. Little did she know that my parents didn’t believe in doing things for children that they were capable of doing for themselves. (I was also designated read-alouder for my little brother; The Parents have always been all about the delegating.)

And once I finally hit the age of majority for a library card (you had to be five, no matter what) I was set free in the stacks to read whatever took my fancy. (Okay, it was the stacks in the children’s section, but still….)

Now, maybe being left alone to read whatever I wanted wasn’t always the best idea — I scared the hell out of myself and ended up with insomnia when I finished Lord of the Flies late one night, for instance. And it might have helped to be a little older than eight or nine when I read Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret (eventually, kids in my school had to have a note saying their moms would discuss Margaret with them or something in order to take it out of the library — I missed that, fortunately). It did mean, on the other hand, that I had no idea that anybody ever tried to stop people from reading certain books until the day a book-recommending teacher or librarian handed me a copy of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Okay, maybe I was a particularly naive kid, too. Whatever.

Due to… erm… stuff, I kind of didn’t post for Banned Books Week during Banned Books Week. The cool thing about books, though, is that you can read them whenever you want to — provided you can get your hands on them, of course. Read ’em, love ’em, pass ’em on (my first gift to my infant nephew included a copy of In The Night Kitchen — number 25 on the list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990 – 2000**). And hug a librarian, because they are most often our first line of defense against those who want to take away our intellectual freedom (ask first, though — some people don’t like to be touched without permission).

*And by this I mean television that was actually educational, like Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and The Electric Company, and not some product tie-in cartoon that the network labels “educational” because one character learns a two-second lesson about how it’s good to share your toys and that somehow meets part of their required hours of “educational” programming.

**Challenged as in people tried to have them removed from a curriculum or library. The American Library Association website says that most challenges are unsuccessful. (Yay!)

Special Note: The “I Love Banned Books” badge in my sidebar was made by jovial_cynic at newprotest.org. (That’s a link to the Banned Books Week post on the blog, but you should keep reading once you get there.) The badge is linked to the ALA’s Banned Books Week site because a) they said it was okay and 2) while their website is confusing, it’s a little more obvious what’s going on if you click the badge without reading this post. (I hope I did the linking right — I’m so conscious of not hotlinking that it’s hard to remember how to do it even when I have permission.)

Ten Minutes in My Head September 19, 2006

Posted by marymac in I'm so deep, knitting.

In case anyone is wondering how the penguin naming is going, I’m kind of leaning towards “Elvis the Penguin” because it’s just random enough to make me laugh. And it makes me think of Alice the Camel*. Boom boom boom.

Elvis is currently riding around in my knitting bag for no particular reason other than that’s where he ended up when I was bringing him home from Boston. He’s keeping Starsky company.

The back of Starsky as of Sunday afternoon.

I’ve gotten through another pattern repeat since I took that photo, but I was too lazy to take another picture (also, it got dark — funny how that happens in the evening). Pretend that piece is about 3 inches longer, if you don’t mind. I wasn’t excited about the Banana Tree cable pattern in the photos of the sweater, but it’s fun to knit (yes, I’m one of those freaks who likes knitting cables).

Every time I hear something about that Last Kiss movie, I get the song One Last Kiss stuck in my head. This is normal, right? How about if you were in Bye Bye Birdie in high school? Normal then? How about if you’re listening to part of the soundtrack as you blog?

Never mind.

Max says your ten minutes are up.

*Except those lyrics are wrong, because the last line is just “Because she’s a horse” — I am shocked that there is incorrect information on the interweb. Shocked!

Today September 11, 2006

Posted by marymac in I'm so deep, Uncategorized.
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I grew up in southern Connecticut, the part of the state that’s made up of lots of bedroom communities of New York City. While I spend more time in the Boston area these days because lots of my friends live there (more on that tomorrow), for me The City is always New York. This is for The City today, from Bruce Springsteen’s Into the Fire:

May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love

May your love bring us love

Early in the morning August 25, 2006

Posted by marymac in I'm so deep, Poetry.

I’ve become a morning Person lately. This morning, I was lying on my bed and experiencing the beauty of the sound of the rain outside surfing the interweb when I heard something. A harbinger of the coming season, if you will. So….

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

© Mary Oliver

Then when I raised the shade I saw that a wasp had crawled in out of the rain. So I squished it. So much for nature.