Thursday, May 29, 2008

mano a mano

This past weekend, for no particular reason, I left the TV off and read. That hasn't happened in quite a while. I guess I've just been so caught up in knitting that I haven't wanted to put the needles down and read. So last weekend, while the Tivo recorded NCIS and SVU marathons, I snuggled in bed with the cat and a few books.

Again, it wasn't any particular plan, but what I ended up reading was m/m romance. I'd never read one before. Well, that's not true. I've read Force of Nature and All Through the Night, Suzanne Brockmann's novels featuring Jules and Robin. But the bedroom door is firmly closed in those books. In the books I read this weekend the bedroom door was wide open.

The first one was My Fair Captain by J.L. Langley. It's an interesting concept. Although space fairing, a couple planets have chosen to base their societies on Regency England. One has a completely male dominated aristocracy. And they're all gay. The young men must guard their virtue until marriage or until they come of age at 25. The reasoning behind the all male aristocracy was weak. But if you're willing to not think about it too hard and just be entertained, the rest of the world works. The writing could have used more polishing, too, but other than that I enjoyed it.

The second book was Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander by Ann Herendeen. This one I have more mixed feelings about. It's a bisexual Regency. Andrew is a "sodomite" who has decided it's time to marry and produce an heir. A friend introduces him to Phyllida as a woman who might be willing to marry him and still allow him to continue his lifestyle. Of course, they are immediately attracted to each other. After they marry, Andrew meets Matthew and they fall in love as well. My main problem with this book was that there was just too much going on. Andrew acts like an insensitive jerk and a whole series of unnecessary misunderstandings ensue, leaving Andrew and Phyllida estranged for a good chunk of the book. There's a whole espionage subplot that doesn't make much sense until a minor character explains the whole thing at the end. Andrew and Matthew have what seemed to me to be a pointless fist fight right before resolving their romantic conflict. At 532 pages, this book was at least 150 pages too long. For all that, I didn't dislike the book. I guess I'd heard so many good things about it online, my expectations were too high. I wish the love triangle among Phyllida, Andrew, and Matthew was more even. It seems to me that the only one who got everything s/he wanted/needed out of the deal was Andrew.

Then last night, I read Fairyville by Emma Holly. Let me just say, Emma Holly is hot. She can write a steaming sex scene, and this book was no different. I haven't read all of her stuff, but this was the first book of hers I've read that featured a m/m couple who ended up in a more or less committed relationship. Zoe, a professional medium, lives in Fairyville, Arizona, a city known for its strange goings on. Magnus is a fairy living in the human world and hiding from his mother, the fairy queen. Alex is Zoe's lost love, and although he doesn't know it at first, a changeling. Bryan is Alex's business partner who has been in love with him since college. And then they all get it on. A lot. I didn't quite buy Magnus' reason for hiding his nature from Zoe, and I wasn't 100% on the Zoe/Alex relationship. But other than that, I enjoyed this book quite a lot. Holly has a gift for writing very hot sex scenes that also illuminate the charcters and advance the plot, all at the same time. Not an easy thing to do. I checked out her website and discovered that she has a writing workshop posted there. Believe me, I will be reading that.

After stepping back and considering all three, I've realized that they all have one thing in common- D/s themes. Is this because these books are already considered edgy because of the m/m content, so it's OK to go there? Is it because women are writing these books, and the idealized romantic hero is an aggressive alpha male, and that's being expressed through domination? Did I just get lucky and end up with three kinky heroes? More research is required. I did notice that both Andrew and Nate (in Captain) called their lovers "sluts." Is this also a m/m thing, or just a coincidence? Is this something that women want to hear but is socially unacceptable, even in our erotica, so we put it in a m/m relationship? Who are we supposed to be relating to, the dominant or the dominated?

A lot to think about. And this is just the tiniest tip of the genre-iceberg. If anyone has any suggestions for further reading, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Last Night I Had a Crazy Dream.....

I had an Ugly Betty dream last night. In it, I was dating Daniel and we were hanging out at Betty's apartment. (I know, she lives with her family, but in my dream she had an apartment.) Daniel and I were really schmoopy, which anyone who's known me for 5 minutes knows is totally not normal for me. Then his phone rang. His ring tone was Angel by Madonna. (I know that's dumb. It'll make more sense in minute.) So he answers the phone, and I can tell he doesn't want to talk to whoever it is in front of me. So Betty and I go into the kitchen to hang out and talk. I suspect he's talking to another woman, and I'm trying not to get jealous. Even though he answered the phone, the music is still playing and Betty and I start dancing in the kitchen and then go into the dining room/sun room where there's more room to dance. And then an old woman with bad teeth appears and starts dancing with us. Just at the end of the song Daniel comes in and catches us busting a move. And then we get schmoopy again, although I can tell he's worried about something. And then I woke up and realized that it was 6:30 and my alarm clock was playing my Like a Virgin CD- hence the Madonna song. Weird, huh? No clue what it means, except maybe I've been watching too much TV. I've been bopping along humming Madonna songs all day. Good thing it was a high energy song, 'cause it's been a zoo around here.

My annual beach pilgrimage is coming up in a couple of weeks. I can't take the whole week. I don't want to use up that much time, just in case something happens later this year. Also, I don't think I have the stamina to spend that much time staying up late and eating unusual food. I don't want to kick off another flare. So I'll be there for 4 days. I have a couple of books picked out- The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Small Favors by Jim Butcher, The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. But I haven't settled on what knitting I want to bring. It has to be something that I won't mind getting smoky. (I can't smoke anymore, but a lot of my friends do.) So anything for Project Linus or family Christmas gifts are out. It also needs to be something that doesn't require a lot of counting or pattern checking. We're a rowdy bunch, and there's no way I'll be able to keep up with anything fancy. I was thinking maybe the No Purl Monkeys (one of the June Thrifty Sock Knitters patterns) and maybe some face cloths for myself out of the Cotton Tots I broke down and bought before Mother's Day. I'm thinking the faux-Noro scarf is a bad idea- from what I hear SWS felts easily, and there's a high probability of spilled beer and general abuse. Perhaps Square Cake from Knitty out of some red tweed Wool Ease. I don't know. I'll probably change my mind eight times between now and then. Any suggestions?

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Dreams

I had a half hour pilates session with my trainer last night. Have I mentioned that I love pilates? I think it's the breathing. It's more like moving meditation than exercise. The reformers at my gym are in a small, curtained off room that's surprisingly quiet considering there are whole rows of treadmills and elliptical machines just a few feet away.

I'm thinking that maybe I'd like to be a pilates instructor some day. That's how much I love it. I talked to my trainer about "graduating" from beginner to intermediate last night, and she said that I'll be moving to "essential" next. (I thought that essential was a more basic beginner's class.) Most people take a year to move up to intermediate. So I'm thinking that it's going to be quite a while before I'm ready to try an instructor program. Usually, I'm kind of impatient with this kind of idea. I want to do it NOW. But strangely, I don't mind waiting. I'm content to take my Monday night reformer class, and if I feel up to it I'll try the Wednesday night small equipment class next week. It's all good.

I opened an email from Lion Brand today and found a short essay and pattern for a "road scarf." The essay didn't amount to much, but the pattern has inspired me. I haven't worked on a scarf in quite a while. I have a couple different scarf ideas- I wouldn't go so far as to say patterns- that I'd like to try. There's something sort of zen about a scarf. It just keeps going until it's done. There's not a whole lot of need for scarves in Houston. In fact, there's not as much need for hand knits in general as I'd like around here. (Although a good cozy sweater comes in surprisingly handy during the summer. Houston office a/c can be brutal.) But I'm already trying to figure out how many scarves I can pack and bring with me for Christmas in Massachusetts.

Plans for the weekend:
work on the book
watch Buffy
get a massage

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Is it really only Tuesday?

I'm thinking that pilates last night wasn't such a good idea. Owie. Also, I feel like I could sleep for a week. Even though it's only Tuesday, the weekend can't come soon enough.

I finished project #4- the burp cloth- at lunch today. The ends need to be woven in, but the kid's not due until October, so I have time!

Now that I'm down to one active project- the diagonal baby blanket- I'm completely obsessed with the idea of making a felted bag. This is the one I've been ogling on Rav- Isn't it beautiful? I followed the link to her design inspiration, a pillow in gorgeous colors. And suddenly I'm envisioning this bag in Noro Kureyon. Can you imagine? Or perhaps Patons SWS. (Cheaper, and I already have a boatload of the Stripes. I'd just need a coordinating solid.) I was thinking about experimenting with something smaller and using up the last of my Silk Garden, but I hear it doesn't really felt. So much for that idea. I have a few other design ideas percolating, too.

I feel a trip to the LYS coming on. Danger, Will Robinson!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Progress Report

I finished 3 of my 5 projects this weekend- including weaving in the ends! Yay! Here are the pictures:

I think the swiffer sweater is a little loose, but I'll have to try it out to be sure. The burp cloth/kitchen towel is about 3/4 finished. I didn't get anything done on the baby blanket at all. It was very hard not to cast on for something else. I really want to make another market bag. But not until the other two projects are done! I feel so virtuous.

The doctor cleared me to go off the Predinsone on Saturday, so I did. Oy. I took a 2 hour nap yesterday and an hour nap today. After sleeping in until 10am. I have a feeling that tomorrow isn't going to be pretty.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Finish It Up!

I have 5, count 'em, 5 projects OTN at the moment:

  1. Granny's Favorite in Spring Meadows P&C
  2. ballband dishcloth in black and Fiesta P&C
  3. ballband swiffer cover in Peppercorn P&C
  4. Baby Genius burp cloth in Shaded Denim P&C
  5. diagonal baby blanket in white Caron

It wouldn't be so bad if I were making progress on any of them, but with the exception of the Granny's Favorite, I've been piddling around with them all for over a week now. I'll do a row of this and a row of that, and nothing is getting done. So I've declared this my first, official Finish It Up Weekend. At least 3 of these projects will be completed by the time I go back to work on Monday.

I've decided to work on this the same way you're supposed to pay off your credit cards- starting with the project with the least left to do and working your way up to the ones with the most left. That way, you feel like you're accomplishing something. Yes, if I really worked my butt off I might be able to finish the baby blanket this weekend. Maybe. But then I'd still have 4 projects OTN, and I'd be burned out to boot. I can easily finish the GF tonight, and probably make some decent progress on the ballband dishcloth. Tomorrow morning I have my RWA meeting, and I'm not sure what I'll take to that. Probably either the burp cloth or the blanket. They aren't next on the list, but I won't have to wrestle multiple balls of yarn like the dishcloth or measure to make sure I'm not going too far like on the swiffer cover. (I'm not 100% sure how many rows I want on that one. It's better if I keep the swiffer handy so that it fits.)

Saturday I'll finish the dishcloth and swiffer cover, and Sunday I'll work on the burp cloth. If I take the burp cloth with me on Saturday morning, I might have a fighting chance of finishing that on Sunday. So that will leave me with one project OTN. The diagonal baby blanket. If I work on that exclusively in the evenings next week, I might be able to finish it, too. Then I can cast on for a Jayne hat, or a meathead, or that baby hat from Creative Knitting that I've been wanting to make, or maybe the Rosie the Riveter.... can you tell I'm in a hat mood? But before I do all that, Must Finish the WIPs!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It's 2008 People!

My boss is a turd.

We had a temp come in for training today and to cover for me tomorrow while I'm out for my Remicade treatment. This morning, when I told him that the temp would be a guy, he said "Oh, shit." I kid you not. And then he muttered around about how we always get "the dregs." And then he came out of his office and said something to the effect of "Not to be sexist or anything, but I want a woman answering the phone. If I wanted a guy answering the phone I'd do it myself." Then there was more muttering, and "If he's gay, I don't want him in here!"

The things he was saying were really shitty, but I have to admit I totally enjoyed how upset he got, in a passive aggressive way. What a dickhead. By the way, does anyone know on what planet boobs are required to answer the phone? It's not like I answer it with my hoo-ha.

Fortunately, the guy was very nice. Just out of college and temping while he looks for a job in his field. And apparently he was "non-gay" enough for the boss to allow him in the office. I don't know how he expected to get rid of him if he was gay. I've ditched temps for him before when they were legitimately not qualified. (I have to admit, we have had a few "dregs" before. It's the New Millennium. Computer skills, people!) But I was absolutely not going to call a temp agency and ditch a temp because Mr. Big Shot didn't like their sex or sexual orientation. If this guy was qualified and he wanted him out anyway, he was going to have to make that call himself.

If it weren't for the amazingly awesome insurance at this place, I'd be so gone. The sexism, the racism, the homophobia-- it's all wearing me out. How can insurance be worth all that hassle, you ask? It's simple. My insurance covers everything-- at least everything I've come across so far-- at 100%. Remember that Remicade treatment I mentioned earlier? That's a $10,000 treatment. I shit you not. I get that treatment every 8 weeks. If I had 80/20 insurance (which I've had before) I would pay $2,000 a treatment. x6=$12,000 a year. Do you have $12,000 laying around for routine medical expenses? I sure don't. The base price for my 2 weeks in the hospital last year was $50,000. That doesn't include all the tests-- the colonoscopy, the upper GI and small bowel follow through, the MRI. (Actually, I think I had 2 MRIs. It's all a little fuzzy.) I could have owed $10,000 just for the stay. That's probably not my last hospital stay either, although I'd be perfectly happy if it was.

So how do you stand on principle when it could mean health crisis and bankruptcy? I'm going to have to either find another job with the same level of insurance or win the lottery. These days, I'm not sure which is a longer shot. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I spent about an hour tonight working on the book. I went through the 5 pages I presented to my critique group last time (or critique partner I guess I should say, since only one other person was able to come last time) and edited out a half dozen justs. (Apparently I use it a lot. A forgivable sin, considering this was a NaNo novel. As long as they're ruthlessly edited out.) And then I added another 3 pages. I want to add a couple more pages and then do my own editing before handing it over to the group again later this week. I think we're all going to be there this time!

The next bit is basically Daisy and Robert sitting in his office and talking. Again. I've taken the chain saw to the previous blah, blah, blah scenes and I'm sure this one will need the same. But this is still the beginning of the book. Daisy has just been dropped into a world she knows nothing about. Someone has to explain to her (and the reader) what the heck is going on. I just (there goes that word again) don't want to over do it. So we'll see.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Whoopsie! And also, Hooray!

I had a little bit of Cotton Tots left over from making face cloths for my parents for Mother's Day and Father's Day, so I decided to make a mitered square face cloth based on the pattern in Mason Dixon Knitting.

As you can see, it may be mitered, but it sure ain't square. I wonder how that happened? The pattern is for a stockinette square, but I did it all in garter stitch instead. I've done this pattern once before with no problems. Except of course for the fact that stockinette rolls like mad, so it needs blocking to lay flat. I don't see the point in that for a face cloth. Also, I think the nubby texture of garter stitch is better for a face cloth than stockinette. I guess as long as no one minds a kite-shaped face cloth, we're OK. It's... supposed to be like that. Yeah! Why is everyone so hung up on the square? It's time for a little creativity around here!

Is it getting a little deep in here? Moving on....

I forgot to mention it, but the last post was my 50th. Hooray for me! I've been entertaining myself and boring my readers (all two of you) for just over seven months now. If only I were this dedicated to exercise!

I watched The Golden Compass over the weekend. I feel a little eh about it. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, because that's the way I felt about the book.

This is where I wrote a rambling digression about Christianity that probably would have gotten me flamed, so I'm just going to say that the whole "this movie was anti-Christian" was a tempest in a teapot and move on, OK?

The movie ended a chapter or two before the book did, which I heard some complaints about from hard core fans. But for once, I think the movie makers were smart in deviating from the book. The ending was logical- Lyra saved her friend and all the other kids- and the set up for the next movie is obvious- she has to save her father from her mother and the evil Magisterium. Much better than the book's ending, which didn't work for me at all. I haven't read book two yet, but I've got the audio book on reserve at the library. Considering my reaction to book one, I don't have high hopes, but hey. It's something to listen to while driving.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hooray for May!

The mounted patrol was back in my neighborhood last night, and I didn't get pulled over. I told you! It's all April's fault! TGIM.

In the comments, Carat asked about the Can't Stop the Serenity event I mention in the last post. (Hi, Carat!) Houston's event was just announced for July 6th. That's Sunday of the July 4th weekend. For those who've never heard of it, CStS is a screening of the movie Serenity, often with associated auctions or raffles, to benefit Equality Now. Details at: There are many of these events around the country, and even around the world, all year long, so don't feel left out if 4th of July in Houston (HOT) isn't your thing.

I'm so happy that Ugly Betty is back! I had pilates last night, so I wasn't able to watch it live and have my usual post-Betty dish with my mom. We'll have to do that tonight. Anyone else watch it? I felt bad for Daniel at the end. He doesn't want Betty, but he wants loving relationships like she has, and someone who is good to him like she is to everyone. (To skip back a week, I thought it was so sweet that he gave her birthday present to her father weeks in advance, knowing that he would forget when the day came.) There was a moment last season, when Betty and Daniel were on a bridge, talking after a long night, and there was a real moment of chemistry between them. I was afraid that they were going to try to put the two of them together, and was glad they didn't go there. Maybe it was just a moment of chemistry between the two actors? (Although I read recently that Eric Mabius's wife just had a baby, so I don't know what to think of it.) Anyway, I like how far Daniel has come in the last season and a half. He was a real butthead in the first episode or two- mainly I think because he was rich and handsome and no one had ever called him on his crap before, not because he didn't have a good heart in there somewhere.

Christian Siriano and his "hot trannie mess" cracked me up. And Amanda adding herself to the fashion show.

I'm waiting to see how they resolve the Henry/Gio situation, too. At this point, I think Gio is much better for Betty than Henry. She's going to get her heart broken there, big time.