Tuesday, August 28

Road Trip

This past Saturday, we decided to gas up the car, load up the boys and head for Fredericksburg, the ersatz capital of the Texas hill country. These local trips are often tinged with melancholy as I see what used to be acres and acres of ranch and farmland converted into gated developments with names like Vista Pointe, Highland Villas, Bel Terra and other linguistic anomalies. I can't fault the farmers and ranchers for taking good money when they've got hardscrabble land and tough living. I don't blame the towns for enjoying the economic perks and a more stable tax base. All the same, I'm sad to see hard evidence of what has been happening for decades: fewer and fewer family ranches and farms and the slow motion fade of real cowboy culture.

But, hey, let's stomp grapes! It was the annual Becker Vineyards Grape Stomp (yes, we make wine in Texas. Well, we try.). And that leads to lunch at the Rather Sweet Bakery where you better not to fill up too much on lunch so you'll have a big spot for dessert.(this isn't dessert, it's soap. Really.)

Afterwards, skip the candle and country furnishings shops for a bit of culture. And that would be the National Museum of the Pacific War. My dad was in the Marines and we bonded while watching The World at War during the late 70s, so I enjoy this osmotically. Let's see, here's a really big propeller.And then, there's the surprisingly lovely Japanese Peace Garden where boys can ponder how best to catch koi with their bare hands:Okay, Huck Finn they ain't, but they're mine.

There was a slight detour to Stonehill Spinning where I picked up some cream alpaca and black llama for spinning and a couple of Cushing dyes. Pix to come.

On the way back, we skipped the opportunity to visit a Texan president's ranch and just enjoyed the scenery and the local highlights.
I got plenty of time to knit up a hand spun/hand dyed merino/silk scarf which I plan to overdye and give away.
And that's another story...

Friday, August 24

Battery Empty

Child's Striped Top Down Raglan
Yarn: Bouton d'Or 4 Teen's Acrylique.
Standard issue pattern and I changed colors whenever I felt like it.

That groovy gang at Bd'O thought they'd punch up the French label on the packaging with the line, "Debutantes: It's my first "triko"!" As opposed to, you know, "Passing out at parties is no fun and Mother got really pissed off when I barfed chunks on her Narciso Rodriguez. So, Chessie and I hooked up with a couple of geezer guys from the club and now I can pay that shitty drycleaning bill!"

DIY Fiesta Craft Apron, made from Mexican oilcloth, scrap denim and cotton webbing

I was spinning some merino/tencel earlier this week when I realized that I needed to make a run to the store. I'm at the register when I look down at my skirt. Good Lord, I looked like I had been going mano a mano at lucha libre with the Persian cats from the Fancy Feast commercial. I even had a piece of roving stuck to the back of my t-shirt which I'm sure cemented my reputation as the whack mom who lets the neighborhood kids run riot through the house while she spins, knits and watches shows on the DIY channel.

Here's my cheapo and easy solution: Grab a lightweight oilcloth tablecloth and a chef's apron that you wear. Using the chef's apron as a template, place it on top of the oilcloth and cut along the lines of the fabric. Sew cording/ribbon/webbing to sides and for the neck. Add a large pocket to the top if you need a parking place for reading glasses, tv remotes, iPods, cell phones, etc...
You can finish off the seams if you want to get all fancy about it. I don't find wearing it hot in my air-conditioned living room and I fold down the top if I don't need to lug stuff around. The oilcloth means that I can use this for dyeing with dignity.

I was going to take some pix of other projects, but both cameras gave me the 'battery empty' message. Dang it, my battery's empty, too. I've got to hunt down an old pincushion for Tex to use as a voodoo doll, Bandit wants to make Jell-O pudding by himself and I should make some effort to corral all the DIY/Crafts/Fiber stuff back into the yarncave. School starts Monday...happy hour starts now.

Tuesday, August 21

T Minus ?

I've been trapped in a lost Twilight Zone episode titled "The Neverending Summer." Thanks to the Austin Independent School District, our school calendar has been pushed back 2 weeks giving all the kids more time to inflict themselves on the frayed nerves of their parents. Last year, the boys went to camp, got home and promptly started school four days later. Good times.

(Insert humorous 50s black and white photo of perky housewife here.)

Now, I'm waiting seven days until my hellspawn return to the municipally funded institution created for their education. We have already seen The Simpsons Movie and today we hit the latest Harry Potter at the Imax theater. The 3-D special effects didn't happen until the last 20 minutes, so save yer money. When we got home, I had them hunt for sticks in the backyard to make wands in a fit of inspired craftiness. Shouts of "Expecto Patronus" and "Abracadabra" reverberated around the house. If I had a patronus at this moment it would be a shrieking bat out of hell while the boys' would be Itchy and Scratchy.

(Insert creepy black and white photo of Frankenstein's bride here.)

I managed to escape a couple of times and treated myself to some shopping. Watching the clock, drumming my fingers on the kitchen table, waiting for 9:45 am so I can bolt and the shops will be open. My first outing was a trip to the Neiman-Marcus' perfume counter with Robin for a big sniff-off. We're both scent queens and I even had a list that I had gotten from Basenotes.
Our main goal was to reevaluate the house of Guerlain. I speak French, but not Guerlain. She loves it and for more detailed notes, please check out her blog. I do like Samsara when there's snow on the ground--I caught a whiff of it once on a woman's fur coat dusted with snowflakes in an elevator. The rich ylang ylang/sandalwood/tonka mixed with the metallic ice and slightly animal scent was amazing and, no, I don't swing that way. (think Julie Christie/Lara in the sled with Zhivago at Varykino)

Anyhow, I digress. We had two salespeople to help us (it was that early) and they trotted out a couple of bottles of Creed. Oh my. Millesime Imperiale has a wonderful crushed leaf verbena with bergamot that draws down to a light iris, with a tangy sillage. Score. Then they sprung Tabarome on me. It's got a ginger green lilt that immediately draws down to a leather/cigar combo with a hint of bergamot. There's a wee touch of patchouli that perfectly balances out the tobacco in the sillage. Just bring on Ian Richardson in "House of Cards." So, I was all done for the day until a bottle of Hermes' Kelly Caleche eau de toilette caught my eye. Normally, I'm not a big fan of redos/sequels on scents and I actually prefer Equipage, but this takes a little something from Caleche and makes it completely different. It starts with the teeniest tiny hint of green guava and then immediately shifts to a very restrained rose/mimosa vibe with some leather cropping up later. Ask Robin, I'm veddy picky about any rose scent and this one won me over. S0me people may think that it's too restrained (low sillage)--I think that if Hermes comes out with an eau de parfum, they'll change their minds. (I bet this is what the young journalist wore in "House of Cards.")

(Insert picture of Mary, Mary being pushed off the roof of the British Parliament here).

I won't bore you about the shopping trip where I got fitted for a bra and flunked another grade. But I will say thanks to all my Sunday knitting posse for turning up to support Mr. Mary's chat at the bookstore. And I will say a big woohoo and thanks to HPNY for naming me a rockin' girl blogger. I plead diplomatic immunity on naming anyone else, but I'm quite pleased all the same. THANKS!


Friday, August 10

Ask Mary, Mary

In my ongoing efforts to provide you with entertaining and informative knitting blog content, I will indulge myself in creating a Q&A section titled..."Ask Mary, Mary" where I ask myself questions and proceed to answer them. (This is also an easy dodge for no pix or FOs to report).

Dear Mary, Mary,
So where the hell have you been for the past 3 weeks?
Yours truly, Mad&Marvelous

Dear M&M,

Well, first we celebrated my in-laws' 50th wedding anniversary with a family reunion in Tampa/St. Pete. Fun was had by all, especially when I rode a JetSki for the first time with Bandit in front and my 10-yr old niece hangin' on for dear life in the back. I topped out at 32 mph and was politely asked to slow down by my fellow passengers. It rained most of the time which gave us a full afternoon at the Salvador Dali museum. I then immediately shipped my boys off to Camp Longhorn, a sleep-away camp that I went to back in the 70's. Mr. Mary and I have been basking in the glow of an empty house, if you catch my drift. Oh, and I'm now on Ravelry--just look for, you got it, marymary.

Yo, Mx2,
Did you catch the new issues of Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits? Were they lame or what? Mary&Rhoda

Dear M&R,
Yes, I was a bit disappointed with both issues and for different reasons. I loved VK's 20th anniversary issue and I was looking forward to another keeper. Instead, I had to slog through the mutual admiration society articles featuring 'old school' designers and 'new school' with the notable absence of Amy Singer. The sidebar interview with Barbara Walker was definitely worth the price of the mag and made me cackle with fiendish glee. I am going to personally write La Belle Dame Sans Merci aka Babs and thank her for not giving into the smug sycophancy shared by the others. The patterns--eh. And if VK is ever interested in featuring a plus-sized and over 18 model, I will be more than happy to oblige. And don't even get me started on the poorly lit tone-on-tone photos.
Interweave Knits just didn't blow my skirt up. Can't explain why exactly. At least, they've branched out on the models. Unfortunately, with the same Tweeds Catalog circa 1990 photography.
Both magazines have new editors which means they have to piss on the fence and redesign their respective publications. I like Eunny Jang(IK) and hope editing doesn't overrule her creativity.

Dear Mary, Mary
Are you sure you're not sharing something else with us, you little hand-biter?
Cheers, Marytini

Dear Marytini, you boozy wench,
Yeah, yeah, here I am venting about VK when they asked to use one of my photos on their website. It was a nice surprise and you can see it here on their community photo gallery page. Just scroll down and look for me in the Holiday 05 red jacket. So, that should eat up about 1 minute of my alleged 15 minutes of fame. Probably less, if they check blogs.

Dear Mary, Mary
Any recommendations for beach reading?
regards, Marion the Librarian

Dear MtL,

I whipped through Harry Potter #7 in about 2 days. No spoilers here, but I smell 'Big Chill' HP reunion in about 3-5 years. All this basking and glowing, got me wandering through the romance section of my local big chain bookstore. Holy cats! Who fired the censors? The titles haven't changed much...."Wild, Wicked, & Wanton," "Forbidden Pleasures," "Somebody's Lover," and "Naughty Paris" are just a few titles I sampled...but I missed the clit lit revolution. And what's with all the vampires? It seemed like every other book had hot vampire-on-vampire action. I was disappointed not to find "Buffy Does Dallas," but I'm sure that's in the works. Three cheers for the romance industry for realizing that there's more to erotica than Nancy Friday and Anais Nin.

Well, gang, that's it. We pick up the boys at camp tomorrow, so I better tidy up around here and straighten the chandelier.