Monthly Archives: January 2008

Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine: From Alpaca to Zombies!

Lyda here. A is for Alpaca… Heh. There’s a book in this.

We have been getting a lot of hits on “alpaca” lately. I started this post yesterday – yes, I didn’t have any better ideas, shut up – and last night I stumbled across some PBS shows about South America. It just all came together. Like a horrible train wreck. But I digress… Ya’ll want to see these guys:

 alpaca1.jpg

The alpaca is a South American relative of the camel, the llama, the guanaco, and the vicuna. Here’s the family tree. The alpaca is prized for its soft fiber, and has been domesticated for thousands of years. There are no alpacas in the wild. Heh. Wild alpacas. Throwing noisy parties and shearing each other. Alpaca farming is becoming more popular in the U.S. If you want to know more about the animal, look here. If you’re thinking of owning one, look here. If you want to register your alpaca (if you have an alpaca, you just made a whole bunch of new best friends!), look here.

The Moche people of what is now Peru are known for their fabulous jewelry and for their pottery on which they painted their dark and disturbing art. They also celebrated the alpaca in their art:

alpaca2moche.jpg

And so do we

Coincidentally, last night there was a show on the Moche. I had never heard of them before yesterday’s alpaca search turned up that pot. Then I turn on the TV and there they are. Cue the Twilight Zone music. The program called them the Greeks of South America – 2,000 years ago, their culture was quite advanced and they built buildings that equal the Egyptian pyramids in scale. They lived in a very harsh desert, and apparently practiced human sacrifice to the gods of weather. It didn’t help. There was a period of thirty years of torential rains. Then there was a thirty year drought. Then there was civil war. And that was the end of them. Except that the people of the area continue the artwork that the Moche started. And of course the alpaca are still there.

But on to the next sensation…

The Incas used cloth spun from alpaca fiber as currency – wages were paid in cloth. A fiber-holic’s dream come true. When the Spanish came to South America, they took the gold, but ignored the cloth. Barbarians!

I wrote that last paragraph yesterday. And then last night there was a PBS show about how the Incan Empire fell. It said the Incas were the Romans of South America, what with their taking over huge… tracts of land. And conquering the other tribes. And taking all the alpaca fiber, no doubt.

Ya’ll, it was really weird. First a show about the Moche, then one about the Incas. Like PBS was inside my head! 

The show was exploring the forensic evidence at a big burial site, and they determined that one of the people buried there had been shot with a Spanish gun (the earliest victim of gunshot found in the New World), but most of them were killed by other natives. The Spanish chronicles never mention that they relied heavily on the conquered tribes to overthrow the Incas. Who were no doubt annoyed at the Incas for stealing their stashes. Ya’ll know. It was a fascinating show, an archeological “Bones”.

Oh, yeah, we were talking about alpaca…

Knitters and crocheters still love alpacas for their soft, silky, warm fiber (which apparently was even softer during the Incan Empire, according to this).

alpacafiber.jpg

Which is spun into yarn:

alpacayarn.jpg

And made into all kinds of lovely things, like this:

alpacablanket.jpg

Of course, we don’t knit the yarn right away.

First we hold it and pet it and call it George.

So, you can picture me on the couch, watching the Moche show, watching the archeological “Bones”, and then thinking, I need to move the cat and the knitting and go to bed.

And then a science show came on PBS.

show about zombies. Real live zombies. In Haiti. Wait, real dead zombies.

I kid you not.

How could I not watch?

To turn it off would have insulted the Goddess of Television.

And we can’t be having with that.

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Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine with Your Weather Report

Hi y’all, Anna-Liza here.

Lyda’s commented some on the rainy weather in SoCal, and I’ve mentioned serious ass-freezing along the Colorado Front Range (also known as “Stock Show weather“), but I thought maybe you’d like to know that it’s warmed up around here. Sunny, highs in the high 40s and low 50s. We even got into the 60s last Sunday, and the kidlets played outside for almost an hour! And I sat out there with them, which says something.

I am, you see, unsuited to cold weather both by upbringing and by genetics. I spent my childhood in SoCal and my adolescence in the Houston area, and didn’t see snow actually falling from the sky until my 20s. Oh, wait, I might have been 19. There was a freak snowfall in Houston, which didn’t actually result in any snow covering the ground, but it was still a snowfall and it happened not long after I got married the first time. (My Scottish-born ex-husband was rather bemused by my excitement).

The next time I saw snow falling, I was living in Oklahoma, and I was definitely in my 20s by then. It snows every winter in Oklahoma City, but winter, if measured by weather conditions rather than the calendar, only lasts about two months. Summer, on the other hand, lasts about six. Or seven. Weather aside, OKC is a cool town.

Oh, the genetic part. Well, on my dad’s side, I’m a Euromutt, heavy on the Gaelic. You’d think all that Scottish/Irishness would give me a bit of cold-hardiness. However, I take more after my mom, who is Filipina. Anyone who is familiar with the Philippines knows that, like the U.K., the island nation was regularly overrun by various ethnic groups, which means the genetic mix is quite varied. (Unlike the U.K., they didn’t go in much for world domination). My family is fairly heavy on the Polynesian, with a healthy admixture of Spanish thrown in, and then bits of this and that. Generally, you don’t find snow in most of the places my maternal ancestors came from. (By the way, did you check the Philippines link? That music is going to be in my head for days).

So I’ve been in Colorado 19 years, and I’ve learned to cope with winter. I even enjoy snow–it’s still cool and exotic to me, at least in early winter. Even at this stage of the season, I still think it’s beautiful (This is a shot from my front porch a week or two ago, around 7:30 a.m.):

snowy-sunrise-crop.jpg

(Ooooo, sparkly!! Double click on it, you’ll see!)

I know how to dress and what I need to do to stay warm … and yet, from about mid-January to whenever the daffodils start pushing leaves out of the ground, I am pretty much gritting my teeth and just surviving. I am sick of wearing three layers of clothing at all times. I loathe the sight of my down coat (even though I’m incredibly grateful for it at the same time). I fantasize about sweating in a hot car. I’m desperately envious of my acquaintances who can go off to Mexico for vacations. (And you know, the winters here are actually rather mild. God knows what would become of me in, say, Minnesota).

So I decided I needed a bit of cheering up. In spite of my resolve to only start new projects when I’ve finished old ones, I started something new. (Well, okay, I did finish the boys’ fingerless mitts. One set Spiderman, one set Batman). spiderman-mitts.jpg            batman-mitts-2.jpg   

(Am I a cool mom or what?)  

My new winter hat is still on the needles, as is Eris (poor thing, still waiting for her sleeves) and the Origami Cardi, and the Cable Rib Cardigan for Darlin’ K, and the raglan pullover for Mr B. … you get the picture. And socks, lots of socks. Yeah.

But I needed spring colors. So I dug out the single skein I have of Plain & Fancy Heather’s Colors (many shades of green and purple, with cream and pale yellow) in a sportweight singles, and cast on Grumperina’s “Shifting Sands” scarf.

Oh, my. This is probably the prettiest combination of yarn and stitch pattern I’ve ever done. Look!

shifting-sands.jpg            shifting-sands-yarn-crop.jpg  

(Double click on these, too, to see the really cool stitch pattern).

It’s making me very happy right now, which is a good thing for everyone, believe me. And I like this stitch pattern with this yarn so much that I’m hoping that Grayce has a whole lot of this colorway at the Estes Park Wool Market this year. I’m thinking, maybe a cardigan?

Pretty yarn makes everything better.

Pollyanna and the Random Weirdness, Oh Yes It’s Tuesday

Lyda here. Time for some random weirdness. Which is bound to be pretty random today, since I am once again not sleeping.

1) What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? And what is the capital of Assyria?

I got this link from the Monty Python group in Ravelry. And there was much rejoicing.

2) You are smarter than you think you are. And he’s isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. Just as you’ve always suspected…

3) Valentine’s Day is lurking around the corner. Fight back and enter Marin’s Black Valentine contest. Hurry – the deadline is Thursday!

4) Someone sent me this, and I had to share with ya’ll. I don’t know where it comes from, or I would give credit where credit is due.

“These contractors have spent the day installing the steel pillars in concrete to stop vehicles from parking on the pavement outside a Sports Bar downtown.  They are now in the process of cleaning up at the end of the day and are anxious to go home.”
constructionworkers.jpg
Notice where their truck is parked.

Their next words would not have been pretty…

5) If you are bored with Cubicle Land, try out some of these cubicle makeovers. This could be your ticket out. If you don’t mind being fired, anyway.

6) Speaking of cures for boredom… This woman built a church out of Legos. More than 75,000 Legos. It’s 7 feet by 5 feet.

Just think what she could have knitted in the same amount of time…

7) On this day in 1924, a very important event occurred, destined to improve the lives of us all. Thank you, Carl Taylor.

8.) Sangria is illegal in Virginia. I just thought ya’ll ought to know.

9) “No, we didn’t steal the cow, we were just taking her to this bar we know…”

10) And the cat said, “Well, I’ve always wanted to go to Florida, but I was expecting to go first class.”

Pollyanna and the Weekend Zombie Encounters

Lyda here. Ya’ll, Monday comes too soon, doesn’t it?

Here in Southern California we’re having our rainy season. Where we live, it’s meant mostly gentle rain, with a few hours of gusting winds and pounding torrents of water mixed in for variety. When I first moved here, it took me a while to get used to how brown the hills are in the summer, and how green everything gets this time of year. Now I see the beauty in the ambers and browns of the summer, and enjoy the vivid jade of our early spring.

Saturday morning, the Resident Sith Master took his SAT test. The Evil Stepmother drove him to the test, and I accompanied them at his request. Sometimes two moms are better than one. And sometimes one is too much, but that’s another story…

It was perfectly clear that morning, and everything had that freshly-washed look from the rain. The mountains were completely covered in snow and stood out against the bluest sky. The grasses around the Back Bay were bright green with dots of yellow and white wildflowers, all of it wet and sparkling in the sunshine.

One of those perfect moments.

Once my son was in line for the test, the Evil Stepmom dropped me off at home, and I did a little knitting on the Lumberjack of the Lake scarf, also known as the Airspeed of an Unladed Wooster scarf, while I talked to Anna-Liza (for quite a while – heh), and then headed out to retrieve the Sith Master. He was relieved to have the test done, and thinks he did pretty well.

We spent the weekend mostly at home, although I ventured out Sunday during a break in the rain to do a few errands. Played some video games, knitted, just relaxed. Nice.

We rented “Resident Evil” (2002), the first movie in the series and enjoyed it completely. We saw the second and third movies last week. Good stuff, not for the kiddies but not too bloody or gory. Highly recommended zombie fun.

Saturday night, I watched “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954) which I didn’t remember at all. I know this is a classic and the underwater sequences were unusual for the time, and all, but I found it very slow-paced. And not at all scary. Maybe it’s better in the original 3D. There is an interesting sequence with the girl swimming and the creature mimicing her movements below her – a kind of monster underwater ballet. And there is an ancient amphibian named after the creature. Maybe I was just too tired to appreciate the movie (stupid not-sleeping!).

The Wolfman” (1941) remains my favorite of the classic horror movies. It creates a dark and mysterious atmosphere that holds up still, the story is compelling, and the acting is top-notch. It was the first scary movie I ever saw, and it still scares me. But I digress…

This multi-named scarf is coming along. Details on yarn and such here. I’m making stripes of Lumberjack (red and black) and gray. Each stripe is 7 rows wide, and I started on the fourth stripe last night. It’s easy (just the knit stitch, ma’am) and fun to see my idea coming to life in my hands. And although I had to stop to rest my hands several times (stupid fibromyalgia!), I have finished one skein of yarn and am almost done with the second. I’ve got two skeins (one of each color) left. A normal scarf could probably be made with just two skeins, but I want my brother to be really warm so I’ll probably end up using all the yarn. “You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a scarf at you.” But you can expect to be warm.

A rainy weekend spent with my son, my knitting, and the purring Dread Cat Tommy.

And zombies.

Bliss.

Pollyanna Has Always Depended on the Kindness of Strangers

Lyda here. It’s Friday. Finally. Yesterday’s post aside, I’d just like to say, I am not down on my co-workers.

Or on human beings in general. “Well, they’re my species.”

One day, when I was 18 living in a strange town far away from my family and friends, I was walking down the street.

And crying. Gustily.

A middle-aged man was walking the other way. As he came close, he said casually, “Good afternoon.” Like people do in the South.

I looked at him and burst into fresh sobs. And he started talking with me.

He stood there on that sidewalk and listened to me as I poured out all my misery. He spoke gently and kindly to me until I was calm and smiling and able to deal with my life again.

And then he walked on.

I never asked his name. But he made all the difference.

My mom was really good with people. On the beach, she would stop and ask fishermen what they had caught. At a party, she might be in the middle of a big group of people, making everyone laugh with one of her stories. Or she might be in a corner, comforting someone. She called waiters by their name. She spoke to people in movie lines, in the bathroom, and at school events.

One day, when we were safely in the car of course, I asked her in my best aggrieved teenage daughter voice, “Why do you always have to TALK to the grocery checker?”

She said, “Because no one else does.”

“Each person is different, never existed before and never to exist again. Just like this daisy – (she picks it) – an individual. …I believe much of the world’s sorrow comes from people who know they are this – (she holds the daisy) – yet let themselves be treated – (she looks out at the huge field of daisies) – as that.”

Maude, “Harold and Maude” (1971)

Pollyanna and the Co-Workers of Doom

Lyda here. “The stories you are about to see are true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Seriously. All true. The last two are the best.

25 Annoying Things To Do At Work

1) Hunker down in one coworker’s cubicle and whisper – pretending that no one can hear you even though the cubicles are made of CLOTH and the dividing walls are only 5 feet high…

And they are made of CLOTH.

2) And when the coworker in the next cubicle stands up, thus able to see you in all your whispering glory – stand up, stop talking, and rush back to your own cubicle. Don’t talk to that coworker the rest of the day.

3) Remember, it’s all about you.

  • Make a mess in the kitchen area and walk away.
  • Jam the copier and walk away.
  • Put your banana peel in the paper recycling bin and your paper in the garbage.
  • Arrive for the office baby shower / birthday / retirement party without a gift or potluck dish. Stand in the way of coworkers who are setting up. Eat lots of food. Leave your plate, chicken bones and all, on the table. Walk out, brushing past the coworkers who are cleaning up.

4) Say “Shit!” and hit the “Close” button when a coworker approaches the elevator.

5) Spend all morning loudly talking about your lunch plans with other coworkers. Tell everyone to gather at your cubicle. Laugh and talk as you leave – – and then, only then, turn to the coworker in the cubicle next to yours and say, “You don’t want to come, do you?”

6) Make frequent personal phone calls, so that all coworkers around you know everything about your relationships, your family’s health, your dating disasters, and your finances.

7) Tell your lover to send her/his highly-perfumed letters to you at the office, so neither of your spouses suspect. Meanwhile, present yourself as a model of fundamentalist Christian rectitude. Frequently criticise public figures and coworkers who may be having sex outside of marriage. Pontificate about the sin of divorce and infidelity.

Ignore the fact that your divorced coworker actually sorts the mail and puts yours on your desk.

And is not an idiot.

8.) When a coworker arrives a few minutes late, greet them loudly so that everyone – especially the boss – knows what time they came in. Optional: look at the clock, shake your head, and make a note on your list.

Even though you are NOT the boss.

Even though the slightly-late coworker is YOUR boss.

Bonus points for doing this with a coworker who is on a different work schedule than you, and thus is not actually late.

9) Cry gustily at your desk. Frequently. Leave your desk often to talk to friends about your problems. Refuse to accomplish any work because your life is just so hard. Be rude to coworkers who pick up the slack. Be surprised when your supervisor calls you on this.

10) Upon meeting your new supervisor, tell them that you should have been promoted to their job. Pretend you do not hear this upstart when they speak to you. Refuse to do anything they tell you to do.

Escalate from there.

11) Harass a subordinate until they transfer. Blame their supervisor (who reports to you and has been trying to protect the subordinate from your harassment even though HR doesn’t give a shit). Be sure to lower their rating on their annual review because of this.

12) Ask stupid questions in meetings. Argue with the coworker who answers your stupid questions. Even if it is your boss. Bore everyone by insisting on reading aloud your long pointless stupid reports.

Repeat, so that all meetings are twice as long as scheduled and four times as long as needed.

13) Point out to your boss that the department has too many people. Suggest specific coworkers to lay off.

Loudly.

With the office door is open.

14) Complain that the snacks for the meetings are always cookies and donuts and they are BAD.

Complain when there are no cookies or donuts at the next meeting.

15) Spend every day snubbing your coworkers and not answering their work-related requests. Then throw a huge hissy fit when they don’t invite you to share the birthday cake.

16) Eat loudly and constantly at your desk in Cubicle Land. Eat things that smell… odd…

17) Insist that everything your coworker eats and/or drinks is killing them RIGHT NOW OH MY GOD HOW CAN YOU PUT THAT IN YOUR BODY!!! Um, I may have mentioned this one before. Once. Or twice.

18.) Go to work even though you are deathly ill. Spend all day coughing, sneezing, wheezing, whining, hacking, spitting, and bitching – the 7 Dwarves of Illness. Blow your nose loudly and frequently at your desk.

Refuse to go home, even when the boss insists. Even when the boss’s boss insists.

19) Enter a coworker’s cubicle and stand right behind their chair, so they cannot turn to face you or even move. Put your hand on the back of their chair, causing them to jerk backwards.

Bonus points if you know that your coworker has a medical condition that makes this extremely painful.

20) Use way too much perfume / cologne. Be sure to apply it in the elevator, the bathroom – or right in your cubicle.

Alternatively, do not bathe. Ever. Until your coworkers can not enter your cubicle because of the smell. Until they rise up and force your boss to confront you.

21) Always use the speaker phone. Dial while on speaker phone. Let the busy signal go on for at least a minute before you disconnect.

22) Receive frequent cell phone calls at work. Be sure to have your ringer turned up as loud as possible, so that your coworkers can hear “Boogie Nights” many times a day.

23) Hold loud conversations in the aisles and halls. Hold conference calls in an office but don’t close the door.

Bonus points if you tell dirty jokes in more than one language.

24) Clip your fingernails over the trashcan in the bathroom.

25) Clip your fingernails at your desk…

In your tiny cubicle.

Where your coworkers can hear every click of the clippers.

And every ping of nails flying across the room and hitting a cubicle wall.

Shudder.

Why, yes, I have worked with some charming people in my time. Why do you ask?