Sunday, January 31, 2010

Yuma Day 1

As airport days go, today was fairly easy. It started early, as they all do, but the flights were smooth and on time. I got into Denver at Gate 24 and flew out from Gate 26, something that has never happened to me. Usually, I have to hoof it from one end of every airport to the other. It was a nice break, especially since Phoenix's airport is the most confusing one I've ever been in- it's not very well marked, and finding your way outside to the bus that takes you from one gate to another (about a mile away- no kidding) was difficult, and then you have to go through security again.... I actually felt lost for awhile.

But I made it to Yuma safely. From -11 degrees this morning, to this:

I'm tired, but I expect I won't get a whole lot of sympathy....
I'll check in tomorrow.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Before I Head Out

Today's trip prep is a trifle less hectic than recent journeys- I'm flying out of Sioux Falls early tomorrow, so we're staying there tonight (so I don't have to get up at 1:00am for the 3 hour drive in order to get to the airport at the appointed time). And this isn't a work trip, though I will be working... in between cactus sightings and sight seeing and lounging poolside... yeah, work...

All I have to do this evening is go to B&N for some flight reading (airport bookstores only stock pb bestsellers and most of them don't interest me, and I don't feel like lugging a hardback around, though I would really like to read Stephen King's most recent doorstop.) I finished Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates on the way back from NC last week, and started Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat (which is every bit as funny in print, as it was as an audio book). However it's a slim volume, and I'll probably finish it in Denver. So I need at least one more book to add to my already heavy knitting/shampoo/makeup/HersheyBar for emergencies *personal item bag* .

Speaking of audio (via Librovox as always) , I'm listening to Northanger Abbey on the treadmill now. It's probably Jane Austen's funniest book, and I am really enjoying it. Each chapter is read by a different reader (well, sometimes they do 2 in a row, but there are many readers), and so far, that hasn't been too jarring, though the sound quality varies wildly (not to mention the traffic noises in the backgrounds of some of them). I am picturing the odious John Thorpe as Phillip Seymour Hoffman in his Twister days (which movie I watch at least once a year, when I need a good laugh. I don't think anyone connected with it had ever been in a thunderstorm, much less a full-blown tornado. I especially love the ice-cube hail, but I digress). I picture Henry Tilney as one of the Jonas Brothers (the one with the curliest hair), though I think if I met Mr. Tilney in person, I might wonder if he was one of The Men Who Do Not Marry.

Anyway, it's a wonderful book, and now I need to go finish packing. I'll check in from Yuma, with pics and reports and the usual trip stuff. Be good while I'm gone.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Sock Club- I Forget Which Week

From Mouse: Here is another week of knitters.
Karen finished her first pair of non-sock or fingerless gloves. She is making them for her daughter as she bikes all the time.

Kathie, a knitter but not a "club member" ,was trying to help her add a spot where your thumb goes thru. Karen is a pretty fast knitter or maybe I am just thinking of Amy.

Amy is doing well. We can all see progress and only make fun of her when she is not listening:)

 Dino is there just for comic relief. Or maybe he has not firgured out he is on this blog site when he sits there at lunch. Oh Well if you are there during the knitting group, your picture will be taken.

Me again: I love watching the knitters' progress. And maybe Dino will pick up needles next week!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday Tab- Danish OTA Dolls, Birgit and Kirsten

These are the last of the Danish OTA dolls. Thanks again, Anonymous Paper Doll Friend, for letting us enjoy these lovely paper dolls.

Birgit is sending mixed signals- is she 8 or 18?

I love the artwork on this one. The polished cotton skirt on the dress is beautifully painted.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

AI Season 9, 01-27-10 Dallas Auditions

Our local news was full of one Audri Vargas, of Sioux Falls, who was supposed to be on AI tonight. However, unless she was in one of those quick montages of the Hollywood Bound, she was nowhere to be seen. That may bode ill for her, since the Golden Ticket Unseen are often cannon fodder. On the other hand, Kris Allen, Bo Bice, Allison Iraheta, Jason Castro... oh and Kelly Clarkson, were all sprung on us in Hollywood, so it's not an automatic kiss of death. But since she wasn't actually in this episode, we'll file her name in the memory banks, and get this party started.

Speaking of Kelly, she auditioned in Dallas. And she fell down, though we didn't see that footage until after her coronation. 11,000 hopefuls would happily fall down if that would help them follow in her footsteps. Tonight's guest judge is the wonderful Neil Patrick Harris, who is nattily dressed in a striped vest, gray button-down shirt, and tie. Kara is wearing a red satin top with a wide black leather belt over pants, and 20lb eyelashes.

Julie Kevelighan, former and current horrible auditioner, and possible stripper, sings better than she did on her earlier gitcha gitcha ya ya, but she's still nowhere near good enough. NPH critiques her sign, and I think I love him.

I try and fail to decipher the logo on Ryan's red polo shirt. I don't know if it's a word or a symbol, or just some sort of Magical Ryan Imagery.

Lloyd Thomas is a dock worker, and he looks like one. He's a big fella with a white shirt and tie, a great smile, and two of the most adorable little girls this show has ever thrown at us. He also sings Stevie, which is generally a mistake. But Lloyd has a rich, lovely and unadorned voice. He does one of the best Stevies I've heard.

Kimberly Carver has dark hair and very light eyes. She sings an original song, which is also usually a mistake, but this song is good, and her jazz styling is fun, and she goes through even though Simon says no.

Speaking of Simon, he and NPH aren't agreeing to disagree, they're just disagreeing, and Simon's annoyance seems real. Or more real than the Kara/Katy kerfuffle last night. If I have to take sides, I'm going with Doogie.

Dexter Wood has sleestak hair, and that's the best thing about him. NPH looks like he's in pain.

Erica Rhodes was one of the kids on the old Barney show. She feels the need to prove that she's all grown up now, though if she hadn't emphasized her saurian past, the distinction wouldn't be necessary because surely, no one would recognize her. She strides in, cracking a whip (seriously), wearing a black leather mini dress, and stiletto boots with about 40 buckles. She sings in a thin, high-pitched voice that makes my ears bleed. And she's moving on to Hollywood.

Dave Pittman has Tourette's Syndrome, which seems to manifest itself in tics and throat clearing, but not when he sings. He has a nice enough voice, a bit too much embroidery for my taste, but good. He gets a Golden Ticket, but I wonder how he'll do in the Hollywood cauldron.

15 kids got tickets on the first day. We see a quick montage of some of them, but only a girl who collapses, and a blonde with a big black bow on the back of her head, make an impression.

Day 2 replaces NPH with Joe Jonas. I would love to plead Jonas Ignorance, but Frog, Bee, and Ladybug Girls all have huge crushes on him. They have each written gushing fan letters, mailed to an address I dutifully looked up online (which neither the unworthy young man, nor his PR staff, have answered).

Todrick Hall worked with Fantasia in The Color Purple on Broadway. He sings a little ditty that he wrote about himself as an American Idol auditioner. He has a nice voice, but gimee a break.

Dawntoya Thomason is wearing a weird necklace made of three golden flowers, and Stephanie (didn't catch her last name), has Janis hair. Both move on.

Meghan Wright has frayed shortie shorts and a blue tank top and Mardi Gras beads. She tells us a story about her divorced and remarried parents, as though that has any bearing on anything. She also introduces her annoying little brother. Luckily for her, she has a strong and sure voice, because this year, she's going to need a lot more than a broken home to garner the sympathy vote.

Vanessa Johnson is all hot pink and perky. She murders At Last.

Christian Spears is 16 and a leukemia survivor. She's wearing a white peasant blouse, a wide brown belt, and blue dirndl. She has a big talent which needs seasoning, but the judges love her.

Next week: Denver, and maybe more Posh.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

AI Season 9, 01-26-10 LA Auditions

From Demotivational Posters (beware, often NSFW)

Ryan reminds us of one of his other bazillion jobs- radio host. LA radio host. That's right, we're in California.

Kara's boobs are barely restrained in a thin, spaghetti strap dress (support garments- look into them, Kara). Her eye makeup is heavier than usual, probably because Day One's guest judge is Avril Lavigne (whom The Hub insists on calling Advil). Advil is sporting her traditional raccoon eyes, and a horned hoodie (seriously).

Living Breathing Wedgie Magnet, Neil Goldstein, assures us that his IQ is 168. You'd think someone that smart would know about soap. His commentary was filmed at different times because he has several different hair lengths (all styled badly). If it sounds like I'm being mean, I suppose I am- but this guy is truly asking for it. Advil can barely control her giggles, and her very real revulsion. I'm sure the consolation of being smarter than everyone else cushioned the rejection.

Pastor and family man, Jim Ranger says he has three kids (though there are four little ones standing outside the audition room with the rest of his family). He unwisely sings an original song, but wisely has the voice to back it up. I would have much preferred to hear something familiar, but my guess is that I'll have plenty of opportunity to do that later on. Kara and Randy voice concern over whether Jim can handle the responsibilities of Fatherhood and Pastorness along with the trials and tribulations of being on AI, as though every other contestant in the history of the show hasn't had to juggle commitments and responsibilities.

Jayson Williams, Jesse Chang and Elvis Fonzarelli all sing. Badly. As does martial flautist Damian.

A montage of adorable babies segues to the also adorable eight year old daughter Mary Powers, who is trying too damn hard in her black and chrome and sparkles and multiple crosses and headband and overdyed black hair and arm warmer. But her beautiful bue eyes and lovely voice trump the poor costume selection, and she makes it through.

And you knew that the Lambert Wannabees would come out of the woodwork this year. A.J. Mendoza somehow coerced Adam into listening to his tape, and Adam said something vaguely complimentary, which A.J. believed. He shouldn't have.

Randy has picked up an unfortunate new vocal tic- asking Sime for his vote. Advil judges to her own drummer, disagreeing with the Terrible Trio on occasion, though she also giggles like a little girl.

Day Two: Randy is sparkly. Kara is wearing a studded purple suede jacket over a deeply scooped black tee. Today's guest judge, Katy Perry, is wearing a slinky red dress with a sharply plunging neckline, and a whole lotta attitude.

Improbably tall and thin Austin Fullmer's shirt looks like it has stripes made of electrical tape. He Faux Jaggers disgustingly.

It evidently took Andrew Garcia's entire family to keep him out of the gangs, but it worked. He's married, with an adorable little boy, and a very good voice.

Tasha Leyton may be the only Personal Assistant/Pastor on the planet. She sings Joss Stone (singer and Anne of Cleves on The Tudors), and is moved on to Hollywood.

Speaking of which, the judges announce that these kids are "going to Hollywood" as though it's an actual journey, and not short bus trip .

If you look up smarmy in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of Jason Greene. See also: creepy

Chris Golightly spent his childhood bouncing from one foster home to another (twenty-five, to be exact). His Justin Guarini/Sideshow Bob mop top changes colors several times (from all blond, to blond highlights, to blond tips, to mostly brown). His voice is not my cuppa, but it's good. Or at least it's the kind of voice that AI finds appealing. Kara telegraphs the show's agenda by declaring that Chris's backstory is exactly the kind that garners sympathy and votes.

So we heard only 4 good singers tonight- maybe the fewest ever in an audition episode. Instead of hearing any of the other 23 who made it through, we got to watch Kara and the very wide-eyed Katy spar. Was the tension real, or souped up for drama's sake? Don't know, don't care.

Tomorrow night- Dallas and Neil Patrick Harris, who will be more fun than Katy and Kara and Advil put together. and maybe we'll get to hear some, you know, singing...

Linkies, and Sock of the Day #10 (I think)

I have about two weeks of work to cram into 4 1/2 days before I leave for Yuma, so this will be a quickie for your amusement...

What happens when you cross a goat with a gun? (seriously)

and How would various Lost characters make a PB&J?

And Sock of the Day #10 (I think).
These were the third pair of self-striping socks I ever knit. The yarn was Opal, but I don't remember the name or colorway. They used to be whiter, but we have an artesian well that is very mineral heavy, so all of our white things come out rusty looking eventually.

I knit these before I learned to make short-row heels, and before I got my generic sock pattern down pat- cuff is a little loose and the foot is a little short for me, but I stretch them out each time I wear them (rather than tearing the toe out and knitting another half inch because I am supremely lazy that way).

They have been well loved and worn, and frequently repaired. I've had to reinforce the toes a couple of times, and fixed gaping holes in the heels. Eventually, I'll probably reknit the entire foot. But until then, I'll keep on wearing them. These socks, like all socks from Opal yarn, machine wash and dry perfectly.

Monday, January 25, 2010

North Carolina Part Deux-Fini

I learned something on this trip: bad weather=more fuel needed=heavier plane. Airlines don't know what the weather on any given day is going to be in advance (would that they did... it would save a lot of us much trouble and worry), so all of the seats on any given flight are for sale, and sometimes all seats are booked (usually by people who actually want to get where they're going according to the timeline promised).

However if bad weather hits (storms, or as was the case all weekend: high winds and lots of turbulence in addition to snow or heavy rains), planes need more fuel, not only to fight the wind (as it takes more gas to drive against a strong wind, than it does to drive with the wind at your back bumper) but also against the possibility of having to circle airports because of weather related or other kinds of delays (as also happened this weekend).

So when an airline employee announces that a plane is oversold, it's not necessarily that they sold more tickets than seats (though I understand that does happen on occasion), it's more that the plane cannot ferry that many passengers safely on that particular day, under the current conditions. And that everyone who was slated to board, actually showed up (which doesn't always happen- connecting flights are missed, weather delays people coming in from other airports, people forget when they're supposed to leave, they don't allow enough time for security clearances... any number of reasons).

And when they ask for volunteers to defer their flights, they're giving people the opportunity to decide for themselves if the promise of free food and a free ticket is worth a later arrival. But mark my words, if no one volunteers, then the required number of people will be removed from the passenger list. It happens that I didn't hate remaining in Atlanta for an additional 7 hours on Friday. I wasn't thrilled about it, but there were families with children, and older folks and people who had important meetings they needed to get to. I wanted to be in Greensboro in the afternoon, but it was only imperative that I arrive before Saturday morning so I could hold my workshops with Barbara and my other new BFFs. Atlanta has a lovely, lively and interesting airport, and I now have safely stashed a  flight voucher that will get me just about any place I want to go for free. A fair enough trade.

All of this leads to last night, in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. I'd already spent a couple of bumpy flights, from Greensboro to Detroit (which has a gorgeous airport- with fountains and psychedelic light shows along the moving walkways, and lots of good food), and then Detroit to MSP (on the biggest plane I've ever flown- so much headroom that I couldn't reach my reading light without standing up).

It had been a long day, with progressively worse weather as I moved west and north, which was not totally unexpected. Greensboro had wind and rain. Storms in Atlanta caused flight cancellations (which made my mysterious Detroit connection a lot easier to accept- maybe airlines DO know what the weather is going to be in advance). Detroit had wind and snow. Minneapolis had snow and snow and snow and wind (and a Vikings game blasting from every monitor in the place- you didn't have to watch the game to know how it was going) (or how it ended).

When it was finally time to board in MSP, the agent regretfully announced that the flight had been oversold (code, I now know, for overweight) and asked for volunteers to stay overnight and fly out in the morning since that was the last flight of the day. They were offerring $300 flight vouchers (I wonder how they decide how much to make the voucher- I got $400 in Atlanta), meals and a motel. I called my husband to see what he thought about the deal ($700 in plane tickets would get us both just about anywhere we wanted to go together), but he had already left home for Aberdeen to run errands and he said that drive there had been hairy, and that he would rather I got on the plane if possible.

So I didn't volunteer. Three others did, however, and we boarded. And sat. And sat. And sat. And finally, the captain announced that we were still overweight and would two people like to volunteer to defer. Luckily, two people did, and we finally got off the ground, and into the bumpiest flight I've ever taken.

The puddle jumper that makes the run from Aberdeen to MSP is a small turbo jet. It doesn't fly nearly as high as the big jets, and it's much lighter, which means it jumps around a lot more in turbulence. Even smooth flights aren't smooth on that plane, and last night's was... well... not white knuckle, but also not sleep inducing.

We made it to Aberdeen about 30 minutes late, but intact, and deplaned to high winds, blowing snow, and cold (above zero, but nasty just the same, especially after a couple of mild days in North Carolina). The drive home was hairy indeed, with white-out blizzard conditions here and there. We rolled down our driveway at about 1:00am, and I collapsed shortly thereafter.

And this morning, it's blowing and snowing even more, which makes me wonder if those kind folks who gave up their seats so we could get home, will actually make it to Aberdeen today at all. I sure hope so.

It's good to be home, I'm pooped but with lots of wonderful memories. I also have about two weeks of work to do in the next 6 days, before I fly out to Yuma. Such is the life...

Oh, and I did a little knitting on earlier planes and in assorted airports...

Artfully posed on the carpet at MSP, Gate A9 - these yarns were purchased at the Sock Summit. I got the mate cast on, but then dozed for awhile before boarding (and there was no knitting on that bumpy flight)

P.S. We were lucky - the MSP flight to South Bend, IN at the next gate over, booted 10 people from its flight. Not all of them volunteered.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

North Carolina Part Deux- Part Deux

Every time I do workshops, my respect and admiration for teachers who do it every day, goes up exponentially (and they don't generally spend their days laughing, and being fed by their students). Yesterday was a wonderful day (filled with great people, lots of laughter, and far too much good food), but I was so tired last night that I barely had the energy to check my e-mail before collapsing.

This morning, before I get ready for breakfast and head to the airport for a very long day's travel (if all goes on time, I still won't get back to Aberdeen until 11:16pm, and then there's a 43 mile drive home from there), I'll catch y'all up.

Barbara, whose wonderful husband Ed arranged this get together in her honor, picked me up at the hotel and we went to her house, where we were met by four of her best friends, Jackie, Sherry, Telle, and Melissa. Unfortunately Susan couldn't attend the festivities.

We started the day with food and laughter (you may note a theme running through the day's activities), and then we got down to business.

In the morning, we dyed yarn, using the Graduated Color Band method that is detailed in my book, Yarns to Dye For. It involves winding yarn in hard, tight balls, immersing it in a dye pot, and then stripping it out in lengths, changing the dye colors at intervals so that the yarn changes colors gradually throughout the skein (Noro-like). It's a fun but wet process, and since I was up to my elbows in  water for several hours, I didn't get any pics of that stage.

Usually when I teach this class, I streamline things by having students choose between 2 distinct colorways, but since this was a much less formal workshop, and with only 5 ladies, we all chose whatever colors we liked. I loved seeing the color combos they selected, and everyone's yarn turned out absolutely beautifully. We were all able to dye 2 full 100gr skeins (also different from the usual structured class, where each person only dyes one skein).

See? I told you the yarn was gorgeous!
After dyeing yarn, we ate (well, we ate during the dyeing too, but don't tell anyone) a deli-catered lunch of great sandwiches, and some of the best cookies in the world (and since I don't eat cookies very often these days, they tasted especially good).

After lunch, we got the dye things put away and the floor mopped (it's a wet process, take my word for it), we spent a couple of hours needlefelting sheep.

We made small sheepies, and then segued into needlefelting whatever we felt like making. Telle, on the left, is decorating one of Barbara's purses. Barbara (upper right) is adding yarn curlicues to another. Jackie, who declared that her sheep was really a Buffalo Bunny (Bunalo? Buffuny?), decided to watch for awhile, though I thought her creation was pure genius.

After that, we just knitted and played with other techniques: knitting back backwards (the only way I knit heels, btw), adding beads to knitting with wire instead of stringing them on in advance (I need to do a tutorial here on that tecnhnique- it works very well), and trouble shooting other knitting projects. Oh, and we laughed. A lot. And ate (okay... a lot) (well, at least I did).

L-R: Telle, Melissa, Sherry, Barbara, Jackie (whose Buffalunny totally adorable).

And after the knitting, we had some wine (this is MY kind of workshop), and then we all went out to eat at Cafe Pasta (I also highly recommend taking the workshop teacher to a wonderful restaurant...), where I had Almond Potato Salmon (ooohhhhhh.... soooooo very good.....), and after that I sort of collapsed.

This weekend has been such an adventure- Barbara's husband arranged it as a gift for Barbara, but it sure feels like it was a gift for me. I got to travel, and meet 4 wonderful women (I already met Barbara, who is also wonderful, at SAFF), I got to laugh for an entire day, and eat.... and eat... and eat... and stay at a great hotel...

What a day! What a trip! Thank you Ed and Barbara!

Friday, January 22, 2010

North Carolina Part Deux

Well, today was a bit longer than expected. After worrying mightily and obsessively about the weather on the South Dakota end, my flights from SD and MN were just fine (though I spent so much time anxious about oversleeping, that I barely slept at all, and was awake well before the 4:00am alarm).

I got to Atlanta with no problems, flying over a smooth bank of clouds the entire way (it looked a lot like windswept snow: smoothly rippled). Once in Atlanta, I rushed to my proper gate (with only 10 minutes to spare before boarding) only to learn that the flight from there to Greensboro was overbooked.

Overbooked by 4 people. So instead of departing at 1:30pm, I was booked instead for an 8:23pm departure. Sigh.

I did my level best to get on a 4:11 flight, but a good many people (15 to be exact) also had the same idea, 7 of them ahead of me. And of those speedy 7, 6 made it on the flight. Sigh again.

On the upside, I got a flight voucher large enough to fund a trip to just about anywhere on the West Coast that I care to travel (and we all know that I love traveling to the West Coast). And I had plenty of time to explore ATL, which is a nice airport.

I bought Sarah Vowell's book The Wordy Shipmates. Who knew that Puritan history was so funny?

And I made it to Greensboro, later than expected, and tired, but otherwise just fine.

And tomorrow, I have a day of classes, which will be great fun. Expect many pics.

It's an adventure, fer shure.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Checking In

Right now, it looks like I will get out of here tomorrow morning- the next round of storms isn't supposed to hit until afternoon, and I should be long gone by then. It has been foggy, with light snow, every day, but the flights are going in and out of my airport on time anyway. Now, the return trip may be interesting- with "weather" expected on every leg of the journey (especially here), but it's more important that I get to North Carolina tomorrow, than home on time, Sunday night. So, keep your fingers crossed for me.

In the meantime, I ramped up my workouts in anticipation of some very good food this weekend, which means I've been listening to even more Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. Or at least I tried to listen to it. Like many novelists with a big hit, Daniel Defoe's attempt at a sequel fell pretty flat. I hung with it, even through tedious chapters covering the religious conversion of a couple of the characters in detail. Minute detail. And I had every intention of continuing with the book, until the seamen on Crusoe's ship wreaked havoc on a native village that had the temerity to exact retribution for the abduction and rape of a young woman (committed by one of the seamen).

After that (or rather in the middle of it), I gave up, and went to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and discovered almost immediately that I was way too cranky to deal with naughty boys. These days, I'm with Aunt Polly, except that I no longer find Tom charming.

By then, I was done exercizing, and I won't get back to it until Monday at the earliest. In anticipation, and as a nerve soother, I'm downloading Northanger Abbey from Librovox  right now. It'll be waiting, in all its gothic glory when I get back. I'm sure Jane Austen will smooth it all over for me.

Speaking of Austen, a new version of Emma will begin airing on January 24. I'll have to set the DVR.

I'll be blogging from NC- see you there!

Thursday Tab- Danish OTA Dolls- Susanne and Soren

Susanne and Soren, brother and sister from the previously posted family, are the last of the wonderful OTA dolls. Thank you so much for sharing these great paper dolls, Scanner Who Prefers To Remain Anonymous!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

AI Season 9, 01-20-10 Orlando Auditions

This. is. Orlando.

Day 1: Randy and Simon are hung over. Kristen Chenoweth is a mini woman in a mini dress. Kara popped in from the 70's, looking like Karen Carpenter.

First up is Theo Clinton, who embodies every gay stereotype in the Stereotype Handbook. He's wearing glitter and mirrors and feathers... and that's just on his face. His voice is slightly better than I expect it to be, but it's still not good enough. He whines a bit, and then patiently allows Ryan to de-spangle him.

Seth Rollins has an autistic son. He's wearing a fatigue-style shirt with an embroidered patch that says "sexy something" in Gothic gold lettering (it doesn't literally say something, it says some word that I can't translate, in addition to sexy). He has a nice voice with just a tad too much waver for my taste. But any points he gained with his performance, he lost by bringing his son along to the audition, which obviously  upset and confused the child. Leave the kid home, Seth. It's better for both of you.

Simon and Jazz Hands.... hmmmm.....

I vaguely remember Jermaine Purefoy, or rather I remember his name, from a couple of seasons ago. He made it to Hollywood in Season 6, but not into the Top 24 (or 36 or however many they had that season). Jermaine's performance of Smile is an American Idol rarity: lovely, and understated, and restrained. The chance to see and hear something like this is the reason I watch this cheesefest. Wahoo, Jermaine.

18 year old Shelby Dressel doesn't let partial facial paralysis get in the way of her dreams. She sings Norah Jones's Turn Me On, which is an excellent choice for her limited range. Shelby's voice is interesting. Whether it'll take her further than Hollywood remains to be seen.

Speaking of eighteen, that's how many others got golden tickets on Day 1. On Day 2, it's just the Terrible Trio (La Chenoweth had a prior engagement).

We open with Jay Stone. I've mentioned before how much I hated Blake Lewis and his beat-boxing. I hate BL V.02 even more. Luckily, only Kara likes him, even when he sings Sunshine passably. So, he's out, right? Right? oh... dammit...

Janell Wheeler sings House of the Rising Sun, Brittany Star is adorable, and Kasi Bedford has a nice, raspy voice. All 3 move on.

Cornelius Edwards thinks Tina turner sang a ditty called Rollin' . You know that one- it goes: rollin', rollin', rollin' on the rivah... sigh. He sings it wretchedly, finishing with the splits, which look painful, and literally shred his jeans. I absolutely do not understand why the judges put him through, but we'll be seeing him (and his athletic prowess) again.

Sisters Bernadette and Amanda Desimone have taken the Kardashians to heart. They're over-boobed, over-tanned, over-dressed, and absolutely not good enough. Which is why both of them are going to Hollywood. I'm doing a lot of sighing tonight.

The best I can say about Jared Norrell's Amazing Grace is that it's nasal waaaaay up in it's nasal (aaawwww, I just realized that I miss Paula). Jared becomes slightly unglued at his rejection (and in his favor, a lot of untalented folks made it through tonight). He refuses to leave. Security ushers him out of the room, and into the hallway, where the escorting escalates. He ends up, first on the floor, and then, in handcuffs.

We finish with Good Ol' Boy Matt Lawrence, who robbed a bank at age 15, and consequently, spent four years behind bars. He's really really sorry about it now, and would like to make it up to his parents by being on American Idol. This reasoning does not bode well for a rational mind, and I expect the worst. Then he opens his mouth to sing Ray LaMontagne's Trouble, and I fall a little bit in love. This kid knows trouble, and we hear it in his voice. Sure, the Taylor comparisons will come (and given that the show barely aknowledges the original, I'm not sure this is the best route for Matt's redemption), but he's good. Very good. Really good.

Jermaine and Matt in one evening. Imagine that.

All told, 31 kids move on from Orlando. Next week, LA, and Katy Perry. Hoo boy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

AI Season 9, 01-19-10 Chicago Auditions

I missed the first few minutes of the episode because of a phone call, but I managed to note that the crew is in Chicago, and that Shania Twain is the guest judge, and that there are a whole lotta hopefuls waiting (and for the record, we all know that the stadium shots and first culls happen days or weeks before the judges get to any given tryout city. I don't know why they continue to pretend that it all happens on the same day).

First up, in a pink babydoll dress, foofy hair, and pirate boots, is Katelyn Epperley, whose voice is pleasant and solid. It's nice to hear a good singer first, for a change.

I don't know which is more unfortuante, Randy's soul patch, or his mis-matching plaids.

Some sort of tour guide rattles off the many names of Chicago (which list, I note, does not include Chicagoland, a term Sam Champion from GMA often employs. Here in Dakotaville, we have an irrational hatred for that designation).

I have high hopes for 26 year old Amy Lang, with the flower in her hair. I love The Big Girls, especially Big Girls who josh with Ryan (sporting a Kris Allen costume tonight). Unfortunately, Amy's boobs are hugely talented, but her voice is not.

Charity DeVance, lives in a beauty salon in Arkansas. She's 16 and is wearing a cute swirly skirt and shortie sweater. She sings Summertime. Her voice is thin but okay, and her lower range is nicer. She gets a ticket, but I don't expect her to make it very far in Hollywood.

Evidently, Chicago has a lot of bad hairstyles (not that everyone massed there was from Chicago, or that AI Cattle Callers are a statistical sample, but lordy, there was a lot of horrrible hair). Ditto the wackos.

I recognize 28 year old Angela Martin, as well I should- she tried out in Season 7, making it to Hollywood before being cut, and Season 8, making it to the Top 50  before having to bow out for a court appearance (details were sketchy- I'm sure someone on The Interwebz will ferret out the details before morning). In addition to being a proven talent, she has a special needs child, a story of tragedy and death, and traffic court. She's a shoe-in.

Altogether, 7 kids moved on to Hollywood on Day 1. It surely would have been nice to hear each of them, given that this is a singing contest. Note to Katelyn: no prancing unless you're on a yellow brick road.

Day 2: Shania is wearing a flowing flower print, Kara is in black satin, Randy has wisely opted for navy blue (though he's still sporting the soul patch), and omigod, Simon is wearing v-neck white tee under a gray grandpa cardigan with the sleeves pushed up to the elbows.

Curly Newbern is 26 and dressed like an orderly. Dogs in three counties howl as he "sings", and Shania can barely hold it together as he massacres whatever song it is that he's "performing".

Alannah H is not only totally untalented, she's clueless as well, not understanding the judge's request to start lower.

Next we have a black and white montage of unfortunates. Then Brian Krause makes Tiny Tim look (and sound) talented. By noon on Day 2, there have been no gold tickets awarded.

Lucky for us, Harold Davis is as awful as those who came before him, because his arrogance is already wearisome and he's only been on camera for a minute. He cries what my mom used to call Crocodile Tears, when he's sent packing.

The show has been looking for a male Asian singer for a long time, and may finally have found one in John Park. He sings an obscure Three Dog Night oldie (which is probably an older blues song, I just happen to know it from TDN. And high school) in a lovely, deep voice. Shania compliments his bottom end, meaning his lower range, and of course that segues into a series of double entendres that goes on far too long.

Paige DeChausse has asthma. We spend a lot of time talking about that. She sings Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come (which happens to be the song that made me fall in love with Taylor Hicks). She changes up it up a bit and does okay with it.

Justin Ray has a head of dense, improbable curls, Keith Semple has a mohawk, and Marcus Jones has very little hair. All three are moving on to Hollywood.

Only 13 golden tickets from 12,000 auditioners. Broken record time: since so few were awarded, why couldn't we hear them all?

Tomorrow- Orlando and an unnamed guest judge.

This 'n That

I am about to have a stern talk with Mother Nature. I'm flying out to North Carolina on Friday, to teach classes on Saturday with a wonderful group of knitters, and then back on Sunday*. There is no time for dilly dallying on this trip, no time to be fogged in 43 miles from the airport, as we have been for the last 3 days, and may be for the next 2 (with the added excitement of freezing rain). No leeway for missed or cancelled flights. We have an excellent weekend planned, and I am very much looking forward to going. So shape up, Ma.

I mentioned my stepdaughter Jeni Buckingham a couple of days ago. She's a metalsmith and a jewelry maker, and she has a blog. If you'd like to see the crafting of a pair of stunning, original wedding bands, check it out. It's a fascinating process.

A year ago, we started a batch of Blackberry Melomel, which is a honey-based fruit Mead. I faithfully chronicled the process from start, to bottling. Last night we opened a bottle of the Melomel. It definitely needs more ageing, but it's coming along. We also opened a bottle of Cream Sherry, made and bottled in June '05. Nearly five years have done well for this wine, which is now a beautiful dark amber. We made this wine from a kit from Northern Brewer, and fortified it with brandy (an old method). It's an excellent dessert wine, perfect for sipping on these cold (and foggy) evenings.

Sorry for the fuzzy pic. For some reason, I couldn't get a sharp image.

*yeah, I'm going all the way to NC for a weekend. I'm available for things like this. If you're interested in arrangeing a weekend workshop with your group, guild, class, or neighbors, shoot me an e-mail, and we'll talk.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Sock Club Week 5

Report from Mouse in Portland on the workmate Sock Club that meets at lunchtime: The group is getting popular. It seems like everyone wants to become a knitter. As you can see a couple of the boys wanted to join the group but then it seemed like they just wanted to give directions.

I can finally see a bit of progress even in Amy's sock.

A new girl came this week- Shannon who has been working on her blanket for a few years. It is very heavy and warm and you just wanted to grab it and take a nap under it.

All in all a productive knitting lunch, and for this group that is amazing!!!

Me again: I am so proud of the Sock Club- all are new sock knitters, and their socks are coming along beautifully. And Mouse is right about Shannon's blanket- it looks extremely comfy. I hope to see needles in the guys' hands next week! And I hope to meet everyone in person next summer!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Update and Sock of the Day #7

Google failed me. My friend Butch Hudson pointed me in the proper direction for a papberback copy of The Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, which was right there on Amazon, which is where I should have looked in the first place. Thanks Butch!

I am happy to say that the disposition of the shipwrecked Spanish sailors has taken up several chapters so far, and this story is just as engaging as the first volume.

Sock of the Day #7 was knit from Noro Silk Garden.

I'm pretty sure that they were my first experience with Noro, and I learned immediately that the lovely color repeats are absolutely not uniform. I cut bits and pieces from three balls to make these socks even marginally matching (and marginal is the best I could manage). That said, they're holding up very well

with only the minor sorts of repairs that you'd expect in socks regularly worn for 5 years. I hadn't quite gotten my heavy-sock pattern down pat when I knitted these: they're a shade too loose. But they're warm and comfy and pretty. A side note: I've machine washed and dried these for years with no shrinkage, no fading, and no pilling. I have no idea if all Silk Garden yarn behaves like this (Kureyon felts easily). I'm not recommending that you all go out and toss your Noro things in the washer- but it has worked for me. So far. (and we'll see in later SOD entries, that early superwashability isn't always a guarantee of permanent superwashability).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Crusoes and Product Placement and a Pretty Pic

I finished listening to the Librivox version of Robinson Crusoe. I loved the book, though I'm sorry to say that the reader never developed a natural flow. Throughout, he paused every third word or so, regardless of the rhythm of the prose. I did my best to ignore it, and the story was engrossing enough that I was able to listen and enjoy (and complaining about volunteer readers for a free service is churlish, so I'll stop now).

One thing I never understood about the story (SPOILER) is why Robinson didn't also rescue the shipwrecked Spanish sailors on the cannibal island. He promised them help, and then sailed away with only Friday.

Luckily, Daniel Defoe succumbed to sequel fever, and I am now listening to The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (the spelling of farther/further changes- sometimes it's one way, sometimes the other). I believe that the Spanish Question will be answered for me. And I'm happy to say that this reader has a much more natural delivery. This book seems not to be in print anywhere- I can't find a cover to show you all. But it's available from Librivox, and various other e-book locations online.

Plug time: my Stepdaughter Jeni Buckingham is a jeweler and metal smith- check out her Sterling Maiden website. She does beautiful custom work. She sent us these amazing hand worked copper oak leaves for Christmas.

I love them, and have no plans to put them away. They fit in with the decor of my house, so they'll be on permanent display.

She also sent me this gorgeous felted purse:

It's a Fair Trade handbag, from Rising Tide, in Nepal, and it's extremely well made with a zippered fabric lining (even the pockets have zippers). It was wet felted, and has needlefelting and appliqued accents.

And since I forced my friend Jane to go to The Meadow in Portland, OR, twice last summer, just to taste and buy salts, she was pretty safe in selecting more as Christmas gifts.

She sent the Korean Isle Fleur de Sal (wonderful granular sea salt) and the wee salt spoons (they hold perhaps 1/16 tsp), both from The Meadow. My friend Kris (who had to listen to my enthusiastic ravings twice last summer as well) sent me some Cyprus Black Lava Mediterannean Black Salt Flakes from Artisan Salt Co, which is based in Woodinville, WA. The Cyprus Black Lava doesn't seem to be listed on their website, but a white version, Cyprus Flake is there.

Whether you have the white or black versions (and we have some white from The Meadow), this salt forms in pyramid shaped crystals

and is absolutely amazing. It's a finishing salt- wonderful on salads, pasta and meat. I have become a gourmet salt fanatic.

And here's one more frost picture. This one was taken from inside the house, through the loft window.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday Tab- Danish OTA Dolls- Mor (Mother)

Here's Mother, from the Danish OTA paper doll family.

I wish our cereal boxes had paper dolls on the back.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

AI Season 9 01-13-10 Atlanta Auditions

Pop Quiz? How is it that Ryan grew up in Atlanta but has no accent?

I've been in the Atlanta airport twice, and will go through there again next weekend, and lemee tellya, there are accents all over the place. Ryan must have worked extra hard to erase the traces.

10,000 hopefuls, most of whom are about to get their hearts broken. Kara is wearing black leggings and a spangly top. Guest Judge Mary J. Blige has on a very pretty beige sweater with wide lapels. The taping room is 27 floors up, and the kids all have to ride a glassed elevator in order to perform. Plenty of time to get the vapors on the way up, and fall apart on the return trip.

First Auditioner Dewone Robinson, in blue pleated trousers and a plain black short-sleeved shirt, is just like all of the first auditioners: bad. Unlike any other auditioner ever, he sings an original song that, as far as I can tell, is called : Latey, I Low You (with the repeated mournful refrain: It's o-her).

Hmmm- someone has cheerleaders. Cheerleaders with bows on their heads.

26 year old Keia Johnson is wearing skin-tight lime green pants and red-high tops. She has Shirley Temple curls and a big smile. She was Miss Congeniality in a beauty contest, which means that she didn't win. I would not have pegged her for a Celine fan, but her heart will go on to Hollywood.

Miriam L (didn't catch her last name) is pretty, and has shiny hair. Noel Reese has braces and an interesting voice. Tisha Holland has huge earrings and the red version of Keia's pants. All three move on.

Jermaine Sellers is a 26 year old, tall and skinny professional church singer. He has taken care of his ill mother for years, and feels like being on American Idol will prove his worth, though he seems too level headed to believe such a silly thing. He choses What If God Was One of Us?, and though it's too embroider-y for my taste, he has a lovely voice.

Local TV Host Kristy Marie is far too perky. She's not taking her audition seriously, so neither am I.

Oooohhhh... the Cheerleader Girl (who is not dressed like one, but obviously is) didn't make it. Her pom-pom entourage mourns with her.

Vanessa Wolfe, from Tennessee, likes to jump off bridges in a bikini when she's not sitting on the trailer porch with her mom. She's wearing a terrible pink bubble dress that she bought for $4.50 at the thrift store. I expect her to be awful, but she has an arresting and unusual voice, sort of Dolly-ish. It's more real than most of the MariahCelineWhitney girls. She needs serious work: lessons, confidence, clothes that cost $10. But there's something there. I'm glad the judges heard it too, and I hope she's taking lessons right now.

Lathan Davenport, Hansel Enriquez (seriously), and Blake Smith (another Britney Boy) are all bad, which surprises no one.

What does surprise me is pretty Mallorie Hayley. How in the world did I not know that someone from Winner, SD was trying out? Or that she made it to Hollywood? And that she's genuinely good? I can't wait to see how she does in the next rounds. Go Mallorie!

Atlanta and Coke go together... and it's hot there. Alert the press.

So, I figure that we know everything we need to know about Skii Boski  from his misspelled, custom-made personalized shirt, and music motifs shaved on his head. He's all pose and attitude, and I find him supremely annoying. Except his voice isn't awful. Let's hope he has a self-esteemectomy between now and Hollywood, or they're going to eat him alive.

Best Friends Carmen and Lauren audition together, dressed alike in bad makeup, bad hair, and terrible tops. Their speaking voices make my ears bleed, and we know from the start that this will not end well. Lauren sings first, getting herself bleeped before showing off her thin, wavery voice. Carmen has a stronger voice, though it's still not pleasing. I think the the judges put Carmen through just for the drama (though in Lauren's favor, she was weepy but supportive). Carmen won't make it past the first Hollywood round.

Next we see rejects Betty Boop, Tongue Stud, and Pretty Girl Who Can't Sing. At All.

Brian Walker, pink cheeked, 25 year old police officer with a wispy blond mohawk, lumbers in and we assume this is going to be a trainwreck. He sings Superstar in the style of Ruben Studdard (his own description), which is my absolute least favorite Superstar Style (I love Ruben, but his version of that song is excruciatingly slow and labored). Kara has evidently never watched that American Idol show, because she's flat out flabbergasted that an unattractive person can have a pleasing voice.

Though I haven't mentioned him yet, we've seen snippets of Angry Dude throughout the show. It's finally his turn to take the Elevator of Anxiety. Lamar Royal and his segmented eyebrows declare a love for singing and constructive criticism. But we already know better, and soon so does he. Lamar proves himself to be totally deluded, unable to listen, and surprise surprise, really bad at gracefully accepting criticism of any kind. Security has to escort him from the building.

I take one peek at General Larry Platt and decide that he's 60 if he's a day. Simon, et al, are not fooled, but they play along as he sings an original song lamenting the clothing choices of young people these days,which I am never going to get out of my head. Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, lookin' like a foo witcher pants onna groun. Larry, btw, is 62- toldja so.

So, 25 kids from Atlanta made it through (including Mallorie- woohoo!). Next Tuesday, we'll be in Chicago, and we get previews of a great girl singer (ya think they want a female winner this year or what?), lots of bad singers, and the most shocking vision of all: Simon in a cardigan.

P.S. I totally forgot to mention the chick who dressed like Elton John Imitating a Guitar. In fishnet stockings. She has a really good voice, but the gimmick outweighs the talent, and I don't expect her to move past Hollywood.

P.S.S. I didn't forget the 9 Lives Guy. I deliberately left him out- those re-enactments were too mean, even for this show.

Frosty Morn, and A New Blog to Check Out

No wind + slightly warmer temps + lifting fog + sunrise= Fairyland

The antenna on The Hub's pickup, made magical.

Just after sunrise.


I won't tell you how many shots it took to get this one.

Great news! My friend Alan Beechey, author of two wonderfully smart and funny books,


is hard at work on a third book in the Oliver Swithin series, after taking a few years off to do stuff, like raise children. He started a new blog, This Private Plot (which happens also to be the title of Swithin #3), where he'll talk about the writing process, and other important things (like P.G. Wodehouse). Go and check it out.