We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Okay, so not only did Mr. O'Kitten's puter decide it needed a trip to the hospital, but our DSL modem has given up the ghost. I'm posting this from next door to let you know that I hope to be back online tomorrow night.

Hope y'all are all having fun without me!



Random Thoughts from the Land of PMS

You can usually tell when I have PMS, because suddenly my posts dwindle (due to all the extra napping and increased crankiness). Well, despite the fact that I still have PMS (consider yourself forewarned, cranky person at keyboard), I proceed here with some random things that have been in my head.

Another Funny Shirt

The Embroidaries, from Threadless. $15-17. Love.

Craft, craftzine.com

"Craft: transforming traditional crafts" magazine--best $15 I've spent on craft literature in eons. (It's from the people who created Make and makezine.com.) I want to make almost everything in this Japan style issue, and that never happens to me with craft magazines. Ever.

Even if you don't buy it, just page through it on the newsstand and I can almost guarantee you'll get a couple ideas by simply leafing through it. (For knitters, the knitted kimono is stunning, and there's a little interview with Debbie Stoller. Mostly I just like the photo of her in her skully sweater and big black boots sitting on a suitcase in Grand Central Station.) But there's so much fun stuff in it you really should check it out. I read it from cover to cover, and that never happens, either. I particularly like the urls liberally sprinkled throughout. Way cool.

The PC is Sick, or, Why I Have a Mac

I realize discussing this is akin to talking politics, but I have PMS so I'm throwing all caution to the wind. I will preface by saying we have a two computer household. I have an iMac; Mr. O'Kitten has a PC (an HP, to be exact).

Now, I use the PC frequently. For one thing, it's a bit faster than the Mac. It's also in The Smoking Room (as opposed to the smoke-free crafting/craft-storage room--i.e. MY room--where the iMac is)--so if I want to smoke while I'm on the computer (yes, yes, smoking is very very bad) I go into the one room in the house that we smoke in.

Both computers are now about four years old. (Is this old in computer years?) Suddenly the PC has decided that it no longer wants to power up. I don't mean "start up" -- I mean, it won't turn on at ALL. So it has to go to the computer doctor.

Now this brings me to several points I'd like to make about the Mac. Granted, the iMac is a little slower than the PC we have. But I love my iMac -- plus, it's cute and looks like something from The Jetsons. Not to mention it's not spilling with cables and wires and cords and a hulking CPU that I'm trying to hide under my desk. (Yeah, I know it's always fun trying to match that little piece with the 21 pins to the bit in the back with 21 holes. We got none of that here.)

At work I've always used a PC, but I've always owned a Mac -- for over 20 years now. I find that when I need to install, troubleshoot, or fix something on the Mac, I can pretty much always figure it out myself, but not so with the PC. Plus, the Mac has far better immunity to viruses and stuff. (Maybe that's because Mac owners tend to be artsy types--not banks or law firms or fortune 500 companies--with less stuff worth hacking into, but hey, I'm not complaining.)

Plus, every PC I've ever used has always needed to go to the computer doctor at some time or another, and you need a new one every few years. They freeze, crash, need repairs...but my Macs (knock wood) just run and run until...well, basically until they're so old (I mean OLD, like 8-10 years and it's no longer worth upgrading anymore) that it makes more sense to get a new one. This iMac is only the third Mac I've had since 1990. Seriously!

My spouse, who's a PC guy, isn't crazy about it, but then he's very used to the PC interface and some things on the Mac are a little different (but not much). I'm an intuitive/visual person and I think the Mac is great if you work and think like that--I often get stuck trying to solve things or learn new software on the PC but can generally pick new stuff up easily on the Mac (the way the interface works) with no problem. But that's just me.

It is true that there's a bit less software for the Mac than the PC, but not nearly as much anymore now that so much is cross-platform. There's also a lot of freeware on the net that solves some of these problems if there's something you want to do but can't find a Mac application for it.

I'm all for the marriage of form and function. I want something to work really well, but I want it to look good on my desk, too--especially if I'm going to be looking at it all the time. Don't even get me started on the iPod and pantpant the iPhone...


Working is for Chumps

I've been a lousy blogger lately. (My apologies, but I've actually been busy, which is relatively unheard of.) This isn't even going to be a real post, but more of a list. I stole the title from one of my favorite etsians, Sparkle-Rama, whose shop I visit when I need a giggle.

This is a list of jobs I've had/places I've worked. It'd actually make a pretty interesting meme, so if you want to post your own list, please do, and send me a comment so I know to check it out!

I've limited the list to things I've actually been paid to do. (If I listed all the stuff I 've done for free...well, we'd be here all night.)

~ picture frame shop
~ house cleaner/Master's Week maid (I grew up in Augusta, GA, so this was a good gig)
~ lab helper (a lot of washing of bloody glassware and tubing and lab gadgetry)
~ drafting/architectural rendering
~ nude model
~ Yale bartender
~ $5-10 clothing store
~ contemporary art museum--curatorial assistant (really just a fancy name for secretary/admin asst.), then exhibition coordinator
~ artist's assistant
~ contemporary art gallery (several different ones)
~ grantwriter/development officer (which means trying to raise money for arts organizations)
~ another contemporary art museum
~ art critic/curator
~ singer (yes, sometimes we actually got more than just free food and drinks)
~ proofreader/copyeditor
~ copywriter
~ dogwalker/petsitter

~ all-natural pet food maker
~ pet boutique owner
~ college prep course teacher/tutor/test monitor
~ coffee jerk
~ antique store clerk
~ writer

~ local egg lady (yep, I sell them now)
~ fiber artist/cardmaker/spinner/knitter

Coming soon: "O'Kitten's Very Biased List of Places Suggested for MrsPao to Visit in NYC"


Viva La Knit!

Sunne asked the PRGE-mini participants to muse upon the topic "Why Knitting Makes You Punk." I had so much fun with this (and realize I haven't posted in awhile due to a stomach bug and general laziness) that I take the liberty of reposting my thoughts here.

Why does knitting make me punk?

I make things (some of which I can actually wear on my person) with bits of string and pointy sticks. Note that said sticks can be used as weapons if, say, someone tries to accost me while on the subway. Or so I like to fantasize. (Frankly, I'd rather poke them in the eye with a molten hot glue gun, but there's nowhere to plug in a glue gun on the subway.)

And I can make things like this with aforementioned bits of string and pointy sticks:

Not to mention, it really doesn't require much skill to knit something basic, like a scarf or a hat. This is the first yarn I ever spun and my first-ever knitting. I still wear both this scarf and this hat.

You can take an image you like, chart it, and then knit it, like Ignignokt. (Chart here.)

Or, you can take a pattern and make your own thing out of it. This is the S'n'B Alien Illusion Scarf with a sort of Alien Armada thing (chart here) going on in the middle.

This is another pattern I re-worked: Laced Insanity Shrug

Kittyville Hat and Kittyvillesque Wristwarmers I made to match

Skully Wristwarmer, as modelled by Isis on the Snowball Cat Bed

Pippi Kneestockings (a.k.a. my Irish Nacho Socks)

Woo-hoo for skulls...and free patterns like this skully washcloth from BlackRayne. I love that so many people post their awesome patterns online for anyone to use...if that's not punk in the true Anarchist Cookbook sense of punk, I don't know what is.

Viva La Knit!

P.S. One more little fetish from me.


In Which O'Kitten Visited Etsy Labs

Finally, I can tell you about my visit to Etsy Labs way back on June 29. I was really lazy and didn't take my camera; fortunately, M-C of beeczarcardsandgifts was better prepared and has kindly given me permission to share some of her photos with you.

Aside from M-C, who I'd only met online, I didn't know anyone who was planning to attend the CREST Trunk Show, featuring artists from the DC/Baltimore area. But I quickly met some of them, as well as a few of the lovely Labs staff (sporting fabulous white lab coats), and was warmly welcomed with open arms.

First, I'll take you on a little tour, then I'll tell you what I bought (despite my resolve not to spend much money...the goodies were far too much to resist).

The entrance to the Labs. Welcoming, isn't it? And already looks like fun.

Me and the inimitable beeczarcardsandgifts

Sending greetings into cyberspace (and projected onto the back wall)

Magic box by which cyberspace is able to see Etsy Labs talking into cyberspace talking to Etsy Labs talking to cyberspace

I couldn't make up my mind when I encountered the plethora of Ninja Fetus, fried egg, bunny, and other paraphernalia at Fort Cloudy's table. (I just placed an order with her today--bunny AND Ninja Fetus.)

This is uglykitty's delectable display. I bought the cute skully pillow you can just see at far left. If you enlarge the image, you'll see the source of her shop's name in the frame at center--a cat named Quasi. Way, way too adorable for words. (If you want to help a really good cat cause, click her link and you'll see what I'm talking about. And she makes really cool stuff, too.)

Me, FortCloudy, and Beeczarcardsandgifts

This is me with my very first ever painting, which I gave to the Labs. (Apologies to Robert Indiana, wherever you are.) I hung it in the bathroom, right over the throne. It seemed like a nice place for it, and their large, white bathroom was surprisingly bare, aside from an old claw-footed tub full of plants.

I also bought some lovely bath salts and bath tea from Mishutka Design Studio--beautiful, all-natural stuff in lovely Victorian wrappings that I gave to Linda and Cathy for putting me up later that night (and subsequently treating me to lobster).

Finally, as I was about to leave the Labs, I spied one last table that I'd missed, and the jewelry designer was packing up. Turns out she had stitch markers that she hadn't even put on display, and she gave me a 2-for-1 deal.

So...that was my excursion. It was quite a night out--great people, great art, great fun--and from there I went on to NJ to eat nice, big diner food (eggs benedict, thanks for asking) with my dear friends Linda and Cathy.

Bettie is My Hero

You have two days to go visit her.

I do love me some Bettie. Hot hot hot!


Graty's Big Adventure (Part Deux)

Yesterday morning at approximately 8:45 EST, the eagerly anticipated Graty-Lacey pairing indeed occurred. (In the interest of protecting their privacy, this post is not accompanied by photos. I was going to take some...but...I just couldn't.)

Sometimes I feel like I'm living on the Discovery Channel.

We closed the girls in their stall (because we couldn't risk the prepubescent Pepper or the aging Switzer mistakenly encountering the enthusiastic Graty) and proceeded to halter Lacey. Then we followed my mother's instructions; she had read in one of her llama books that the female's tail--a rather long and bushy thing, not quite unlike dread-locks--should be wrapped up with vet-wrap, which is a sort of ace-bandage that conveniently sticks to itself. Lacey found this procedure most distasteful, but, as my mother had read that "the female's hair might wrap itself around the male appendage and cut off circulation," we wanted to take the precaution.

That done, we let Lacey out into the empty pasture. Then Graty was haltered, his lead attached and, excited by the prospect of an early-morning walk, he happily followed us out of the barn. But as soon as he realized that his constant companion Llannie was not with us, he grew puzzled, then recalcitrant. It took a bit of coaxing to edge his 400-pounds of reluctance to the corner of the barn, despite my constant reassurance that he would be very glad to take this walk. (Really, he would.)

As soon as we reached the end of the barn, he suddenly seemed convinced, and began to hurry along. By the time we got to the gate, it was all we could do to get his lead off in time to release him into the pasture with Lacey...who took off at full tilt and crashed through the fence into the boy's pasture.

Graty ran crazily back and forth along the fence line, tail up over his back, head down, showing off his chest and whatever else he thought might most impress his lost prize, while Lacey pretended to ignore him and daintily nibbled at the grass. Llannie, whose pasture had suddenly been invaded by this horrible female, proceeded to click and cluck in utter disdain.

Lacey had to be rounded up and led back through the broken bit of fence; this was done easily enough, but she took off running again. This time Graty was in hot pursuit. After a few laps up and down the pasture (and just as she headed toward the weak spot in the fence again) he managed to corner her. My dad and I stood rather helplessly behind the broken fence, fully aware that we wouldn't be able to hold it against the weight of two llamas flinging themselves at it at full-speed. But Graty tackled Lacey about four feet in front of us and that was that.

Now, I expected things to go rather quickly from that point on. But...no. What ensued was about twenty minutes of noisy exertion, with both parties panting, heaving, and making the oddest noises--which Mr. O'Kitten described later as sounding like dinosaurs. It was very unsettling, but, as Pepper and Switzer watched patiently from the barn, and Llannie observed across the fence, and the sheep grazed peacefully nearby, I can only assume that everything was going just as it was supposed to--because if anything is the least bit out of the ordinary, the llamas pick up on it right away. So the dinosaurs went at it.

Another surprise to me was that the pairing took place in a prone position, with Lacey kushed down like a camel and Graty over her on his knees. (Those nature programs had led me to expect them to be standing up--but no, apparently not llamas.) Periodically Graty would heave himself up, nose around Lacey's tail to check his progress, and then resettle to resume his work.

After the first twenty minutes, they took a break, but Graty wouldn't leave Lacey alone. He kept trying to clamber back on top of her, to her clear annoyance, and finally, she sank back onto her knees again and another twenty minutes of exertions ensued.

Now, in my defense, I really didn't want to watch this entire performance. But with the broken fence flapping about in the wind...well, awkwardly standing there was pretty much the only option. The sheep and Llannie needed to stay on their side, and Graty and Lacey needed to remain on the other. (Now officially on my list of life's most uncomfortable moments: watching copulating llamas with my father.)

At long last, the pairing was complete. Graty checked his work one last time, and we were able to lead him away from his life's love and take him back to his own side of the barn. He was very hungry and had a big snack of hay. We fixed the fence, and soon Graty was out in the pasture, bumbling about with the glazed look of someone who's had far too many endorphins released in his system.

Switzer and Pepper sniffled and snuffled Lacey from head to tail, and also performed a thorough inspection of the areas of the pasture that had recently served as the love nests. Llamas are indeed very curious creatures, and they don't miss much.

So now we wait, to see what might transpire.


Graty's Big Adventure (A Love Story)

Lacey at about 8 months old; Graty at about 5 months

Tomorrow morning Graty will finally have the opportunity to reunite with his childhood sweetheart, Lacey, for a romantic rendezvous.

Yes, we have finally decided to try to breed our two llamas. Lacey has been a terrific mother to Pepper, and Graty is such a handsome guy with a winning personality that we're optimistic that this pairing could have a very positive outcome. Not to mention the whole love story angle. (Oh, and they both have beautiful fiber, too.)

They were born about 3 1/2 months apart and lived on the same farm until we adopted Graty (and Llannie) in the fall of 2004, when Graty was just over a year old. When Lacey arrived here with her aging mother Switzer last year, she was quite pregnant with her first cria (soon to be our Pepper) and not the least bit interested in Graty's amorous attentions, with which he attempted to impress her from across the fence.

Switzer, Pepper, and Lacey

And amourous he was, mooning about, ogling the girls at every opportunity, standing with his fleece blowing most dashingly in the breeze, or simply hanging his head over the barn wall with a stupified expression looking for all the world like a goofy, love-struck teenager.

Graty, blowing in the wind (with an indifferent [read: neutered] Llannie grazing behind him)

Now that Pepper is nine months old, and since llamas have a gestation period of over eleven months, this seems the perfect time to breed for a summer cria.

So tomorrow morning, we will unite Lacey and Graty in the same pasture and see what happens. I'll keep you posted.

Punk'n'Proud (PRGE-mini)

Time for another Punk Rock Gift Exchange, this time a mini-PRGE which I'm fondly referring to as "relieve-me-from-the-summer-doldrums-puhleeze."

So I must now interrupt our regular broadcast to answer a few questions. We will resume our regular programming schedule tomorrow with, I dunno, some llamas or cat cuteness or maybe that Etsy Labs report I keep promising you. Or just scroll down to the next post to see funny pictures of me and Mr. O'Kitten.

Q: Why are you punk?
A: Why not?

Q: What are your five favorite things? (these don't have to be knit related)

1. Things with fangs

2. things that are fuzzy

3. things that purr

4. things that make funny noises
5. coffee

Q: What are your three favorite things that you have made with knitting/crochet?

1. insanity laced shrug

2. baby bunny beanie

3. razor cami

Q: What five things would you love to see in a swap box someday?
1. something to listen to; I love mix CDs
2. something with silk in it, like yarn or roving
3. chocolate (mm, bittersweet or dark, no nuts or mint or anything, just the straight stuff)
4. something that will make me laugh
5. coffee (not flavoured, just the straight stuff)

Q: What are your three favorite yarns?

1. sugar’n’cream, esp. the solids

2. anything in jewel tones, I like deep, dark rich colors
3. black, I can always use more black yarn or roving

Q: What are your three least favorite yarns?
1. I am overloaded with acrylics right now
2. novelties with pricklies in them
3. pastels

Q: What are your five favorite delicacies?
1. sashimi
2. chocolate
3. coffee
4. bagels with cream cheese, lox, and capers
5. macaroni and cheese cassarole (which is one of three dishes I can make)

Q: What are your three favorite guilty pleasures?
1. late-nite etsy chat
2. leather (black leather especially, the smell of leather, too)
3. Dunhill Cigarettes

Q: What would you like your pal to know that is not covered here?

A: If something has cats or Emily the Strange on it, I’ll probably like it. Also, I’m allergic to alcohol.


Hi Hunny, I'm Home...

Me & Mr. O'Kitten

...and I'm feelin' the love!

I'm back in Michigan and recovering from all the food and festivities--which of course requires extra napping and lots of coffee.

To my shock, the cats did no visible damage to the house, although someone did hurl rather mightily a few hours after our return, no doubt due to all the excitement of luggage requiring intense scrutiny, clothes and shoes smelling of strange places, and the necessity of bolting dinner in order to resume aforementioned activities, not to mention roll and rub and pat and wind about us with wild abandon. (Okay, so it wasn't exactly wild abandon, but Morgan and Isis were very happy to see us, and Emma deigned to lie belly up and allow us to stroke her undersides.)

I saw friends, including my darling Suze, who is shown here (at left, with Brantley, reading to us from the Gabor book at right); also my dearest Linda and her sister Cathy; they're the ones who treated me to NJ diner fare and lobster. As for the CREST trunk show at Etsy Labs visit--it was terrific. More on that to come.

But the real reason for our trip was the christening of my nearly 6-month-old niece, Mackenzie Rose, who I was meeting for the first time, and who I now madly adore. Not just because she is scrumptuously adorable, but also because she is so very, very good. And you know me, not so much for the babies, right? But I really like this one. A bunch.

The only time I heard her cry even the teensiest bit all week was in the church when the priest poured the water over her head, but in her defense, she had been sound asleep. Believe you me, if some strange man woke me up in front of a hundred or so people by pouring cold water over my head, I'm pretty sure you'd hear me a few pews away, too. And as soon as she caught glimpse of the cameras and all her adoring fans, she composed herself pretty darn quick. What a trooper--a grrl after my own heart.

Mackenzie and her fans

Me and Mr. O'Kitten


Beware the frumious Bandersnatch

So our stay in NY is drawing to a close. We fly home tomorrow (Wednesday). Mostly it's been about my stomach--bagels every day, pizza twice, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese twice (I forgot to mention how much I miss fresh mozz; one is hard pressed even to find Polly-o in Michigan), and even saurbraten at my niece's christening party yesterday. Oh! And my dear friends Linda and Cathy took me out to a real New Jersey diner (we don't have any of those, either) Friday night and then treated me to a big lobster lunch on Saturday somewhere in the middle of Jersey. Yummy yummy yum.

So I haven't taken any pictures, but I did pick some. So go browse my frumious bandersnatch here (it's up until 1am 7/4).

And keep your fingers crossed that the cats haven't redecorated too vigorously in our absense.