sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

March 19, 2009

please don’t tell my competition
posted by soe 12:22 am

So, you’ll recall that earlier this week I wrote about this thing called Sock Madness. I explained that I was knitting away with focus, hoping to finish a couple things before it began.

Unfortunately, I did not.

I am up to the toe decreases for my spring socks, but I’m not done with them yet. So, in order to wear them on Friday, I’ll have to finish them tomorrow.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. But this is not a normal circumstance. This is Madness!

Sock Madness is a sock knitting competition inspired by NCAA basketball’s tournament play. On the day each round of competition begins, the organizers send everyone a pattern via email. No one has seen these patterns before, but the organizers have provided us (a few days ahead of time) our target gauge and how much yarn we’ll need and what they recommend (a solid or a patterned yarn, for instance). And while we have a window of time during which the pattern will arrive, no one is quite positive about it.

Tomorrow, for instance, the pattern is due to arrive sometime between 6 and 9 a.m. local time. Ouch! The good thing is that I have to be at work early, so I’ll be able to leave early, but still… I can’t really see myself getting up before the sun just to wait for a pattern…

Many of my fellow competitors are already planning to arise early, knit through the day, and give up all other activities until their pair of socks is complete.

Because, you see, speed is of the essence in Sock Madness. Only the first x number of competitors to finish their socks and submit photographic evidence move on to the next round. We start with 200 knitters divided into four divisions. One assumes that at least half that number will advance out of the first round, but that’s not guaranteed. If the allotment isn’t filled within two week’s time, only those with finished socks at the whistle’s blow will move on to the next round.

So it would be perfectly understandable if I’d spent the last week pulling out yarns, carefully swatching, and planning my weekend so I could knit steadily through until my new pair of socks was complete.

While I’ve given some thought to my yarn selection, I haven’t actually pulled any of the yarn out, nor have I wound any of it. I figure I’ll wait to see what the pattern actually looks like before making a final decision. I suspect this might be akin to waiting until the game starts to begin assigning matchups.

And I haven’t cleared my schedule. No, I have no major engagements, no trips planned, no soirees to attend. But, I do have a plan to see the new Julia Roberts-Clive Owen movie with Rudi (and I won’t be knitting during it unless it’s awful). I also plan to spend some quality time in my garden. I’m going to see Sarah briefly, and maybe touch base with Rebs. I also have to run errands to the library and the post office. And I’m going to finish that lingering sock…

So, perhaps my dedication to the competition isn’t cut-throat. I think it’ll be fine. But to be on the safe side, please don’t tell my fellow sock knitters that I won’t be glued to my needles all weekend. I think we’d better keep that just between us…

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March 17, 2009

happy st. patrick’s day
posted by soe 11:51 pm

St. Patrick’s Day has come to an end. Although the streets of Georgetown were packed with revelers and Irish bars had queues a block long, I’m sad to say that you would have been hard pressed to know that today was a holiday in downtown D.C. Yes, there was the odd green tie or scarf, but by and large the city was still dressed in its drab greys and blacks.

I come from Connecticut, which is a Catholic state, and grew up in a town where you were either Italian or you were Irish. (Okay, that’s not entirely true; you could be Polish or Puerto Rican.) And if you weren’t any of those things, you just sort of coasted along, knowing, as my grandmother used to say that, in all likelihood, you’d end up marrying someone who was. All of southern New England boasts a similar population, as does New York (City, at least), as we were the first stops on the boat over from Europe and probably, therefore, the cheapest fare. And people just stayed.

I’ve made much of the Italian American demographic of the state, because we co-opted their food, and because their immigration waves came more recently than the Irish ones. But most Connecticut towns of a population over 15,000 had at least two Catholic churches — an Italian one and an Irish one — and we all made a big deal out of St. Patrick’s Day. Darby O’Gill and the Little People played on tv. And I never heard of pinching someone for not wearing green until I was in college and had met Westerners who thought this was appropriate behavior. I’m not going to speak for everyone in my home state, but I suspect that if you tried that to a stranger, you’d get socked in the jaw.

But it didn’t happen because you wore green. And if you didn’t, everyone just pitied you because you were forgetful and got dressed without remembering it was March 17.

I’m disappointed D.C. You could have done better — and with so little effort. Please at least buy some green socks before next March, and we’ll try again then.

In the meantime, I offer you two songs. The first is from Going My Way, a sweet film featuring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald as Catholic priests in New York City:

The second is “You’re Not Irish,” by family friend Robbie O’Connell. He’s the nephew of the Clancy Brothers, and he performs his biographical tune with two of his Clancy cousins:

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

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a weekend comes, a weekend goes
posted by soe 1:20 am

When Einstein announced his theory of relativity, anyone who’d ever experienced a weekend whiz by must have thought, “Duh!”

Seriously! What happened to it? And is time going to go even faster? Will it slow down again when I get to be very old?

Our Pi Day celebration was very nice. Rudi heroically put the effort to clean (or, at least, to mask our mess) and to run errands, while I baked. I made apple and pecan pies and Michael cooked up two quiches. Sarah contributed cannoli from a bakery at Union Station of which I’d heretofore been unaware. Julia and Elspeth provided sparkling wit as we finished our prep work, and everyone was kind enough not to point out our inadequate tidying job. Beer and pita chips and hummus supplemented the pies, and we had a merry little feast. Since there were six of us, we paired off into teams for a game of Trivial Pursuit. Michael and I beat the other two teams with a run toward the end, although it was not without its hiccups. I foundered on the Don Larsen perfect game question before redeeming myself with a surprising knowledge (even to myself!) of the Super Bowl.

Sunday was the Homespun Yarn Party, and I went in search of local items to ship to a swap pal in Australia. Normally, I’d rely on more foodstuff to fill out the box, but Australia is particularly persnickety about its imports and routinely confiscates stuff from the mail. Since I’d like my partner to get everything safely, I’m sticking more with hard goods. While I was there, I may have picked up a skein of yarn for myself — a green stripey one that will make a lovely pair of socks for next St. Patrick’s Day. Or maybe for Christmas. Oh, and I did win a door prize — a tote bag from Ravelry!

The rain returned tonight and I walked home from work while chatting on the phone with my folks in the growing drizzle. I don’t mind the drips and we need the rainfall, so it was perfectly fine with me. I’m hoping it keeps the ground pliable so I can spend some time in the garden next weekend. I need to do something with all those seeds I bought up in Connecticut!

Rudi made a tasty supper and we watched the CBS comedies (my favorite tv of the week) before throwing on a dvd of early Boston Legals from the library. Ultimately we ended up with a cooking show on PBS before the news and late night comedy shows.

I’m trying to finish up a few knitting projects before Sock Madness begins Thursday morning, so I pushed through the gusset of my spring socks tonight. Tomorrow night should see me finish the foot, which will leave the toe decreases and binding off for Wednesday night knitting group. This pair is knit in a lovely skein of yarn in a colorway called Spring Garden, and the colors remind me of rainbow sherbet. I picked a pattern called Spring Forward, so I’m optimistically believing they’ll be done for Friday’s Vernal Equinox. I’m also nearly finished with the first part of a sweater I’m knitting, which is nice and soft and squooshy and a very pretty shade of marled turquoise.

I guess that’s about it for right now. Good night!

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March 16, 2009

monday midday music: radio
posted by soe 1:23 pm

This song appears on my iTunes playlist that helps get me through cleaning and any dancing moments that require cranked up tunes and an upbeat attitude. It’s by one of my favorite Irish bands, The Corrs, who are currently on hiatus:

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March 13, 2009

pi day
posted by soe 11:27 am

Since Congress has decided to go and make Pi Day official, I’d better figure out what I’m baking for tomorrow.

I have 6+ pie pans and am open to anything I can prep easily. Tomorrow is not the day to try fussy recipes!

I’m thinking at least one savory recipe and maybe a pizza (Mum, I might be calling later for the pizza dough recipe.), in addition to a few sweet pies.

Any suggestions? Or requests? Want to stop by? Leave a note…

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March 12, 2009

never change, frilly, and ordinary tenderness
posted by soe 4:46 pm

Three beautiful things from the past week:

1. Last night as I walked from a chocolate shop to the grocery store, I passed by two couples, still dressed in their business attire. The men strode ahead, but the women lagged a bit behind. Suddenly their arms went around each other’s shoulders and they began skipping. Their giggles and the clickety-clacking of their heels against the sidewalk carried over the night’s blustery wind.

2. Macy’s window displays have changed to spring outfits. One mannequin wears a flouncy, floral skirt over piles of crinolines. I want a crinoline and wonder where I could wear it to justify the purchase. (I think this revelation may surprise everyone who knows me in real life.)

3. Two unexceptional-looking people, probably close to my mother’s age, stand against the wall outside Metro Center. The man leans in close to zip up the woman’s coat a bit more and give her a gentle kiss.

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