Friday, April 4, 2008

You've got to be carefully taught

Today is the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. They're doing a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific" on Broadway. What's the connection?

This week's poetry, or rather, song:

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

In some ways we seem to have come a long way. One of the actresses in the current production of South Pacific said that when she talks about "colored people", the audience visibly gasps. She says she feels dirty, like she needs to take a shower.

And yet we can't bring ourselves to evaluate the presidential candidates just as people- not black or white, man or woman; but for the courage of their convictions and the fierceness of their intelligence.

Still, I hope that one day soon, Dr. King's dream will, indeed, become reality.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Don't settle, but do grumble (also, Poetry Friday)

If you haven't read the article by Lori Gottlieb in the Atlantic Monthly yet, you have been living under a rock. And I'm jealous of your bliss.

There has been much furor over it- discussions on NPR and MPR, feminists ranting, Ms. Gottlieb receiving mountains of mail. I for one found it quite annoying. She has a kernel of a point in there somewhere; but when she suggests that you marry a man whom you're physically repulsed by, or is actively grieving for a dead spouse, or is an unrepentant alcoholic...really, it's hard to take any of it seriously.

As all of us married people know, our spouses have quirks. Well, so do we. If accepting those is settling, then sure, all of us have settled. But do we always accept the quirks of the one we love? Or do we grumble and complain?

Which segues to this week's poetic gem, by the most marvelous Vikram Seth. I hope it makes you smile.

Prandial Plaint
My love, I love your breasts. I love your nose.
I love your accent and I love your toes.
I am your slave. One word, and I obey.
But please don't slurp your coffee that way.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gunn fun

I haven't posted in over a month. Yikes. First I got brutally busy at work (the paying kind). Then the deadline passed, and I kind of lost my blogging mojo.

I guess it took the likes of Tim Gunn to make me snap out of it, make it work, and carry on.

The impeccable Mr. Gunn was at the Rosedale Herberger's yesterday in his capacity as Chief Creative Officer of Liz Claiborne. They had a fun fashion show, with believable women wearing non-outrageous clothes, that you could actually buy right at the store. Tim was exactly as he is on Project Runway- polished, elegant, kind and witty. He fielded a wide array of questions after the show, and I have to say he deserves all the gushing and swooning that's bestowed on him.

I could have gotten an autographed copy of his book and a photo with him, just by spending $100, but I refrained. The funny thing is that when I came home and told this to Dr. N, the resident fashion grinch...he surprised me by saying "That's not bad! You should have bought some clothes!" Knock me dead with a toothpick. But see, this is why I love the guy.

Strib style writer Sara Glassman had Tim do some fun free association (not in public). Enjoy.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The trouble with being so environmentally conscious... that if you leave your car dome light on, you don't find out for four days. True story.

Last Saturday I ran some errands with Mowgli. I had my hands full, as usual; so I must not have shut the car door properly after extracting Mowgli, various bags, and library books. Wednesday evening I go to the garage to pull the car out- heading to Deb's birthday dinner. As you might imagine, the car is dead as a doornail- the battery completely drained. Ugh. I ended up taking Dr. N's car, and we had a good time at Puerta Azul.

The guy from AAA got the car started the next morning, so all is well. But yeah, now I check twice...because I still drive only once in a while!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Poetry Friday

This one is a song actually, en Francaise. When I was a student at NID in the early 90s, I got it into my head to learn French. Because knowing so many other languages wasn't enough. I didn't have any time to spare during the week, so I started taking the all-day-Saturday class at the Alliance Francaise. It was an incredibly fun and immersive way to learn, and for a long while I was reasonably fluent in basic French (alas, too rusty now).

For our graduation, the students decided to do a variety show, and we acted out this song. I played the woman who is being propositioned by the guy in these sad, modern times.

La complainte du progrès

Autrefois pour faire sa cour
On parlait d'amour
Pour mieux prouver son ardeur
On offrait son coeur
Aujourd'hui, c'est plus pareil
Ça change, ça change
Pour séduire le cher ange
On lui glisse à l'oreille
(Ah? Gudule!)

Viens m'embrasser
Et je te donnerai
Un frigidaire
Un joli scooter
Un atomixer
Et du Dunlopillo
Une cuisinière
Avec un four en verre
Des tas de couverts
Et des pell' à gâteaux

Une tourniquette
Pour fair' la vinaigrette
Un bel aérateur
Pour bouffer les odeurs

Des draps qui chauffent
Un pistolet à gaufres
Un avion pour deux
Et nous serons heureux

Autrefois s'il arrivait
Que l'on se querelle
L'air lugubre on s'en allait
En laissant la vaisselle
Aujourd'hui, que voulez-vous
La vie est si chère
On dit: rentre chez ta mère
Et l'on se garde tout
(Ah! Gudule)

Ou je reprends tout ça.
Mon frigidaire
Mon armoire à cuillères
Mon évier en fer
Et mon poêl' à mazout
Mon cire-godasses
Mon repasse-limaces
Mon tabouret à glace
Et mon chasse-filous

La tourniquette
A faire la vinaigrette
Le ratatine-ordures
Et le coupe-friture

Et si la belle
Se montre encore rebelle
On la fiche dehors
Pour confier son sort

Au frigidaire
À l'efface-poussière
À la cuisinière
Au lit qu'est toujours fait
Au chauffe-savates
Au canon à patates
À l'éventre-tomates
À l'écorche-poulet

Mais très très vite
On reçoit la visite
D'une tendre petite
Qui vous offre son coeur

Alors on cède
Car il faut bien qu'on s'entraide
Et l'on vit comme ça
Jusqu'à la prochaine fois

Et maintenant, en Anglais (And now, in English. It's a little dated, and there are gaps in my translation [sorry!], but you get the idea!):

A complaint about Progress

To court, in the old days
There was talk of love
To further prove his ardor
He offered her his heart
Today, it's such
That's changed, it's changed
To seduce the beloved angel
He slid close to her ear
(Ah? Gudule!) (Ah? Gudule!)

Come, embrace me
And I will give you
A refrigerator
A nice scooter
A mixer
And a Dunlop pillow
A stove
With a glass oven
Heaps of forks and spoons
And pell' cakes

A tourniquette
To make vinaigrette
A nice exhaust fan
To blow out odors

Warm sheets
A waffle iron
An airplane for two
And we will be happy

Formerly it used to be
That when one quarreled
The air was left lugubrious
And the dishes left behind
Now, what is it that you want
Life is so precious
One says: return to your mother's home
And one keeps everything
(Ah! Gudule) (Ah! Gudule)

Say you're sorry
Or I'll take everything.
My fridge
My cabinet with spoons
My iron sink
And my poêl 'oil (?)
My cire-godasses (?)
Mon repasse-limaces (?)
My ice stool (?)
And my hunting-knife (?)

The tourniquette
To make the vinaigrette
The trash compacter (?)
And coupe-friture (?)

And if the beautiful one
Shows rebellion again
On the sheet outside
Is her fate entrusted

With the fridge
With the duster
With the stove
With the bed, always made
With the warm slippers
With the potato cannon (?)
With the éventre-tomatoes (?)
With the skin-on chicken (?)

But very very soon
One receives a visit
Of a small gesture
Who offers you the heart

Then one yields
Because it's best that one helps oneself
And one lives like that
Until the next time

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine tableau

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Hope it's full of delectable things.

The chocolate is available by mail order, if you don't live in the Cities. It's wonderful stuff.And the yarn is handspun Sock Hop in the Pretty Woman colorway.

Speaking of pretty women...

Sorry, one-of-a-kind Valentine doll, not available for purchase. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A matter of metaphor

I've been reading Steven Pinker'sThe Stuff of Thought these last couple of months, and finding it fascinating. Despite the comic strips and Seinfeld references, it is not an easy read. I skipped ahead to the chapter on curse words- which is really fun. Now I am back to the chapter on metaphors.

The metaphor for today might well be "burning the candle at both ends." Work (the paid kind) is getting busy, and there aren't too many breaks in the full-time mommy job. Did I bite off more than I can possibly chew? Today I had a client call scheduled for 2.00 p.m. I figured I could make this work, since that's the time I put Mowgli down for her afternoon nap. Then the meeting gets moved to 1.30. I'm a bit anxious, but I think, well, we'll see. I put her down for her morning nap at 10.45. She usually sleeps an hour, an hour and a half at most. 1.20 p.m. She's still asleep! Maybe she'll sleep through the call. I gently shut the office door, turn the volume down on the baby monitor and dial in. And I hear Mowgli wake up. We go through our call and I ask some pertinent questions and jot down notes. I can hear the crying in the next room- Where the @#$%^& is Mommy?!! I have the phone on mute. I hope the client won't go round and round in circles as she's prone to. Thankfully we are done by 2.00. My poor Mowgli- she's starving. I scoop her out of her crib and mumble my apologies. She's a good natured baby. All is forgiven.

I am considering daycare for a couple of days a week- it'll do us both good. On days like this I think I'm crazy for trying to do it all. And then I remind myself how good I have it. I have a job I like, with a boss who lets me do my own thing. I have a career. I get paid reasonably well. I have a 30 second commute. I have a great husband who walks in the door each evening and takes over baby duty. I get to hang out with my little Mowgli all day- watch her laugh out loud as I wiggle my toes, see her scoot backwards, giggle with her as she pulls tissue after tissue out of the box, hear her chant dadadadaadada with the utmost concentration. I get to hold her whenever I want and smother those chubby cheeks with kisses. A lot of working moms would give an eye tooth to have what I have.

So I'm changing the metaphor. I'm going to go with "having my cake and eating it too."

Friday, February 8, 2008

Poetry Friday: Valentine Edition

For today's Poetry Friday we turn to a most splendid bugger, W.H. Auden. Here are two poems about love.

O Tell Me The Truth About Love

Some say that love's a little boy,
And some say it's a bird,
Some say it makes the world go round,
And some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn't do.

Does it look like a pair of pajamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It's quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway-guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
it wasn't ever there:
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton's bracing air.
I don't know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all its time at the races,
Or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money?
Does it think Patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

Funeral Blues
A beautiful scene from a lovely film. It still brings a lump into my throat every time I watch.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West.
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Do space cadets wear black ankle boots?

The short answer is "Yes, some of them." For the long answer, get your coffee and pull up a comfy chair.

A couple of Sundays ago, Amy threw a most excellent knitting party. With cranberry salsa, Hungarian wine, and door prizes. Really, how can you go wrong with good food, wine, and knitters? Fabulous photos, courtesy Deb, are here. I had a lovely time. At 4 p.m. I could see my husband's face in the clock, so I bid my adieus, retrieved my black ankle boots, and chatted away with Amy at the door- suggesting she do potluck next time so I could bring Indian food, etc. etc. I go home, take off the boots and think, wow, these could use some polishing. So I pull out the kit and polish them. Something is weird but I can't quite figure it out. Anyway, the baby calls, I'm busy, the evening flies by.

The next day I see an email with the subject line- "Boots!" I don't recognize the sender, and this seems like spam. Still, I'm curious. So I open it and find it's a message from poor Maria. See, it turns out I had run off with her boots! I feel really silly, and then I find it really funny. Maria was very gracious about it, though I gather she was quite perturbed- the boots being a gift, and all. She had to go home in borrowed clogs. I assure Maria it was an honest mistake, and this evening she will finally have her boots back by way of Amy.

I know you want a photo. I won't disappoint.

At left, Maria's boots; at right, mine. Both are black leather ankle boots with side zips, size 7.5. I think you can see if someone wasn't paying attention, how this could happen! In my defence, I don't wear those boots often. And I didn't wear them all last season, since I was pregnant and only wearing flats.

Why do I still feel like a ditz, though? It's like my brain turned to mush during pregnancy and has stayed that way, lo, these many months later. Please tell me it gets better!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

Well, today's the day they've been talking about for weeks- when 24 states will vote or caucus to decide who will face off in November. This will be the first time I am eligible to caucus, and I plan to go.

Here's my collection of political buttons:

Pretty obvious where my loyalties lie, huh? I'm pretty happy to have a woman representing me in Congress, and another in the Senate. As for the Oval Office, I believe I will see one in my lifetime. It doesn't have to be in this election.

Today is a special day for me on a personal level too. On this date in 1999, I walked around the sacred fire and vowed to stay with my husband through sickness and health, for richer, for poorer, and all of that stuff not just until death do us part but for 7 lives. Eep, talk about commitment! It's a wonder any Hindus get married. :) It's been 9 years, and this anniversary is extra special because now we're not just a couple but a family.

I remember keeping the henna on my hands all night before the wedding, wetting it with a lime juice and sugar mixture. The longer you keep it on, the deeper the color; and the belief is that the deeper the color, the stronger the marriage. Normally I'm a rational being, but who isn't superstitious about weddings? So I kept the henna on, and couldn't take my contacts out. I had my hands and feet in plastic bags (to keep the henna moist), and needless to say I was pretty uncomfortable.

It was worth it, though. The color lasted a few weeks, and the marriage...I'm looking forward to our 50th. :)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Poetry Friday

I hope you enjoyed last Friday's haikus. Isn't it marvelous how poetry can condense the loftiest of thoughts into a couple of lines? This tradition of "economical poetry" is not confined to Japan. A number of other cultures have a tradition of poetry in the form of couplets, where the entire sentiment is expressed in just a couple of (usually rhyming) sentences.

Today's poetry is couplets by Rahim and Kabir, two famous Indian Sufi saints. Their couplets, or "dohas" (literally, two line verses), are a standard part of the Hindi language curriculum in Indian schools.

As with all poetry, something is lost in translation, nevertheless their pithy wisdom and philosophical nature shines through. In true Sufi tradition, Rahim and Kabir also rejected ostentatious displays of religiousness and believed in the oneness of God.

Rahim's couplets always included his name in some form- Rahim says...

Rahim says, Don't discard the small things when you encounter big ones
After all, what use is a sword to do the work of a needle?

Rahim says, When a person possesses a lofty spirit, how can bad company harm him?
Though the snake drapes itself around the sandalwood tree, the sandalwood does not become poisonous.

Rahim says, Don't break the cord of love with a harsh tug
For once broken, it can't be mended; and a knot will always remain.

Kabir's background is unique in that he was born to Hindu brahmins but raised by Muslim weavers. To this day he embodies the secular spirit, and the name Kabir may be given to Hindu and Muslim boys alike. According to legend, when Kabir died, his Hindu and Muslim followers squabbled over whether to cremate or bury his body. When his shroud was removed, all they found was a mound of flowers. The Hindus cremated half and the Muslims buried the other half.

Kabir's couplets are sharply derisive of the caste system and established religion.

This world has gone to hell by reading so many books, yet nobody became a pundit (scholar).
The one who has read the 2 1/2 letters of love is the true pundit.
(The Hindi word for love, "Prem", consists of 2 1/2 letters)

Don't ask the wise man about his caste, ask him about his knowledge,
Do you judge the sharpness of a sword by looking at its scabbard?

If I could find God by worshipping this stone, why, I would worship a mountain!
Better than this stone idol is a humble millstone, for it feeds the world.

Look, they have gathered rocks and pebbles and built this big mosque
And the mullah inside is yelling at the top of his voice, has God become deaf?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ba-Rock Star

It looks like there is mega love for Barack Obama in the south Asian community in the US. Really, how else would you explain this, um, artistic tribute?

If you're curious about the Hindi lyric, it has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, or politics. It's a goofy love song where the guy wants clandestine trysts with his lady love. Don't look at me! As if Bollywood makes sense? It's just hugely entertaining. :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

There has been knitting!

I have historically been very bad about documenting my knits. Since I resumed knitting seriously in 2004(?) I've been pretty productive, but there isn't a lot of photo-documentation to show for it. Since I started a blog this year, it's probably going to motivate me to capture in pixels what has already been wrought in stitches. Next step- to stop lurking on Ravelry and post some stuff!

These mittens were my first FO of 2008. Last year for my friend Melody's birthday I knit her a pair of Fetching in burgundy Cashmerino Aran. And what can I say, I created a monster. :) As is all too common once people wear handknits, she can't get enough! This year for her birthday, at her request, I knit these cozy felted mitts out of Manos del Uruguay. Melody bought the yarn for me, and this was my first experience with it. It was a quick and fun knit, and a nice break from tiny needle socks.

Here they are pre-felting:

And post:

As you can tell, she absolutely loves them. The pattern (which I recommend) is from Bev Galeskas' "Felted Knits", though the book is a bit of a let-down because it does not have the famous felted clogs pattern.

Anyway, Melody likes her mitts so much that she's now requested a gaiter. She bought yet more Manos, and is certainly helping ensure that Coldwater Collaborative continues to stay profitable.

Now if I can only persuade Melody to buy yarn for me for all my other projects, I'll be all set.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Towards more picturesque speech

If you know me at all, you know how I love language. I speak quite a few fluently, though this is not as impressive as it sounds; after all I grew up in India. Over a score of official languages, thousands of dialects, and as unendingly interesting as a crazy quilt. The thing is that though my mother tongue (defined as such by the fact that both my parents spoke it) is Tamil, I am nowhere as proficient in Tamil as I am in English. In every sense, though I am Indian born and raised, English has always been and will always be my first language.

It's not that I don't feel a pang of regret that I only read Tamil with difficulty and don't know enough of its grammar to write it at all. Maybe someday I'll even try to remedy this. But as a first language English is so wild, so crazy, so fascinating, so ever-changing, and need I mention so damned useful; that on the whole I'm jolly glad I'm very proficient in it.

My Monday mornings are made more endurable by reading my word of the day, and the always
entertaining AWADmail, with contributions from AWAD readers. Today brought this gem:

"English is the product of a Saxon warrior trying to make a date with an Angle bar-maid, and as such is no more legitimate than any of the other products of that conversation." H. Beam Piper in "Fuzzy Sapiens"

Now isn't that the most picturesque speech you've encountered all day?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Poetry Friday

Friday is my favorite day of the week. I don't know about you, but for me the anticipation is often more deliciously to be savored than the payoff. The weekend goes by in a blip, but Friday...aah, Friday is all about the anticipation.

I thought maybe I'd savor Friday a little more with poetry- this week, and hopefully in the weeks to come. Today's knitterly haikus come courtesy of the redoubtable Tata and Tatao. I assume they are two people, and they have a great site- what little of it I can read. Hopefully one day it will all be translated. If you scroll all the way down in the navigation panel you'll see "Short Poems (575)." For the impatient, here are those little 5-7-5 gems. As always, click to view large.

Today's cold winds are blowing me towards my stash- an aspiring yarn shop itself. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Minnesotans button top button

This morning it was 12 below in the Twin Cities. BRRR! Time to button that top button. To see what happens when it gets warmer or colder, check out The Annotated Thermometer.

Speaking of Minnesota, here is something interesting that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) had to say recently:
"I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We're the workingest (sic) state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs."

Wow, Ms. Bachmann, kudos! First, for inventing a word; and second, for understanding what you should be proud of. People working more, working longer, two and three dead-end jobs, earning less money- isn't that what your pro-family values are all about? Making sure people spend less time with their family because they're "workinger" to make ends meet?

Lest we forget, Ms. B herself works a 3 day week, gets 4 months paid vacation, and makes about $169,300 a year. And no, she doesn't work the late shift flipping burgers at a fast-food place.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pause to ponder

How did you get to work today? Did you drive your car? Were you the only person in it? Did you take the bus? If you live in a milder clime, did you bike?

At the 2008 Auto Expo in New Delhi Tata Motors, who may soon own the Jaguar brand, unveiled "The People's Car" in India. The Nano costs $2500 and promises about 50 mpg. This set off a frenzy of discussion on the designindia yahoo group about the ramifications for India. Now perhaps everyone will be able to afford a car, and will not dangle precariously from the sides of buses. No longer will women sit side-saddle behind their husbands on scooters, clutching a baby in the bargain. But what about the pollution? The traffic? There's no room on Indian streets for more bicycles, let alone matter how compact. There was lively talk about how mass transportation is the only option.

There really are no ready answers. Mira Kamdar, in her piece in the Washington Post mentions how she talked recently with an Indian college student. The student tells her that the industrialized world has enjoyed conveniences such as air conditioning and good transportation. Now it's time for developing nations to enjoy them too, and they're told "Sorry you can't, it's too late now". She quotes the student, "You won't reduce your consumption, and you tell us we can't increase ours." If you stop for a minute and put yourself in this girl's shoes, you really can see her point.

It seems like such an insurmountable task that it's tempting to just throw up one's hands and say an individual can't make a difference. But surely every little bit will help. I have the luxury of telecommuting every day. But perhaps if you ask your employer they may let you work from home one or two days a week. You could try to consolidate your errands. Instead of driving everywhere and then making time to go to the gym, perhaps you could walk or bike to the grocery store or the post office. It would be a start.

Since a picture is always worth a thousand words, I leave you with this visual to ponder. Be sure to click for a bigger view.

Monday, January 14, 2008

An embarrassment of riches

These are the knitting books I have currently on my nightstand. Top to bottom: Son of Stitch n Bitch, Itty-Bitty Nursery, Knitting for Him, Knitting Lingerie Style, The Best of Interweave Knits, Amazing Crochet Lace (token crochet book), The Natural Knitter, Boho Baby Knits, Romantic Hand Knits, More Sensational Knitted Socks, Knitting Classic Style, Chic Knits for Stylish Babies, Nature babies, Knitknit, New Knits on the Block and The Elegant Knitter. Phew!

As you can see, they're all checked out from the library. I'm very discerning when it comes to buying books, not to mention unable to afford all the books I read. I test drive most books from the libe before I decide to buy. And I have a neat little "found money" system for buying books. I use my credit card to pay my phone, cable, DirecTV and other bills- so I get some effortless cash back. When I get $20 cash I can trade it in for a $25 Borders gift card. Sweet. This is how to make the system work for you. But please, don't try this if you don't plan to pay your credit card in full each month!

But back to the books. Wow, is it me, or has there been an absolute explosion in knitting books lately? Is it because everybody is trying to cash in on the craze while it lasts? Or do you think it's not a passing fad? And that everyone who's seriously knitting today is going to continue, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy of the stereotypical knitting grandma (or grandpa)? I'm really curious to know what everyone thinks.

Having an 8 month old at home, I'm naturally drawn to the baby books. Boho Baby is a winner- it has at least 5 things I want to knit, which is my definition of a book worth buying. I really like the knitted baby book- small, controlled attempts at intarsia- woot! It made me think of The Book of Knitty which I now have a crazy desire to make. I have a little fiberphile in the house, so really, it's not that crazy on closer examination.

Knitknit is the best coffee table book on knitting I have come across. Really beautifully produced, with some designers I greatly admire. I'm definitely going to buy.

Entertaining, but not on the to-buy list- Knitting Lingerie Style and Romantic Hand Knits. They don't fulfil the 5 pattern minimum. I need to count once more before a final verdict on Knitting Classic Style. But I totally love the argyle socks. If I do knit the bevy of socks for the huz, this pair will be one of them.

Complete bust, at least as far as I'm concerned- Son of SnB. My guy is a conservative dresser and he didn't care for most of the patterns. Oddly enough, he didn't mind the crocheted sweater. I don't have crochet skills of that magnitude though. Knitting for Him met with a similar lukewarm response- with the exception of the Cricket Sweater. And he plays ping pong! Go figure. :)

The Best of Interweave was unexpected. It seemed like the majority of patterns were from the last few years, when from all accounts the glory days of IK were when Melanie Falick was at the helm. I think it's a good buy, though, if you are brand new to knitting and IK.

With all this reading, is any knitting happening? Yes indeed- a pair of socks, a baby hat, some newly completed pre-felting mittens, and a secret gift project. Stay tuned. There will be pics, I promise.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

When I first heard Michael Pollan on "Fresh Air", it was a driveway moment. I got The Omnivore's Dilemma, and, um, devoured it. What he was saying really resonated with me- the person who still craves the rich flavor of tough, scrawny Indian chicken after a decade of living in the US.

When I first moved here I was struck by how cauliflowers and peppers were individually priced at the grocery store. 2 for $0.99. Astonishingly, they were pretty identical in terms of size, shape and weight, so the pricing model actually made sense. They looked beautiful too- waxed and polished, bright, stacked so neatly, and enormous. What good value! Alas, those firm tomatoes lacked flavor, the peppers the piquancy of my beloved Indian "capsicum". This was industrial agriculture in all its glory- food grown in massive quantities, bred to look good and travel cross-country, be as uniform as if pressed out of molds, and stripped of its very essence. And then there were the tubs of ice-cream. I'd never seen containers that big in my life.

But, before long I too had succumbed. Too busy to cook, I was. How easy to get something out of the freezer, microwave it for 5 minutes, and done. Something Michael Pollan said on Talk of the Nation (yep, NPR junkie, guilty as charged) made me sit up. He's promoting his new book In Defense Of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. He said that we have time to watch tons of cooking shows on TV, and no time to cook. How about we take some of that watching time, and spend it cooking? What a novel idea.

And so I made cauliflower with fennel seeds.

Simple, quick, flavorful, and from scratch. Let me know if you'd like the recipe.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Darn these socks!

I'm guessing that though Opal is a prolific knitter (thousands of sweaters, by her own admission), she didn't knit those socks for Earl. I don't know about you, but I'd darn handknit socks to within an inch of their lives before I'd throw them away.

My husband has a big milestone birthday this year and I'm telling myself I can knit him six pairs of socks by December (one sock for each month of the year). With my full time paid job and full time unpaid job (aka Mommy), is this completely delusional?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Baby Zen

An effective antidote to the stress of modern life is to hang out with a baby. Seriously.

Babies live completely in the moment. Give them a toy and they are completely absorbed in it. Show them another, and that becomes their new focus, the old one forgotten. They wouldn't know multi-tasking if it bit them in the butt.

Tiny zen masters- babies. They know the wisdom of "When sitting, sit. When standing, stand. Above all, don't wobble."

Well, at least until they try to walk.