Thursday, October 30, 2008

WIP's, Passion, and a Small Monster

What Your Cute Monster Says About You

You're the type of person who stands out in a crowd, even when you're trying to blend in.

You are honest in your character and appearance. You don't pretend to be someone else.

Your inner demon is sorrow. You tend to get depressed easily.

People think you're cute because you're rebellious. Your uniqueness is charming.

Your result for The Best Thing About You Test...


Passion is an intense emotion that compels feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for anything, and that often requires action. Get that? Requires action. It's very likely you submit to your deepest needs and live life with a flair few others achieve, but many envy. All 7 virtues are a part of you, but your passion runs deepest.

Passionate types: artists, writers, composers, athletes, and heroine addicts.

Your raw relative scores follow. 0% is low, and 100% is perfect, nearly impossible. Note that I pitted the virtues against each other, so in some way these are relative scores. It's impossible to score high on all of them, and a low score on one is just relatively low compared to the other virtues.


50% Compassion

33% Intelligence

38% Humility

44% Honesty

0% Discipline

57% Courage

58% Passion

Take The Best Thing About You Test at HelloQuizzy

I find it interesting that the third paragraph of the Cute Monster Test is dead on to how I've been feeling lately. And the 0% Discipline of the second test is also dead on.

I've been reading around the net about people getting crazy cases of startitis. I'm in the same boat. I've finished my Juliet and also my mom's Moebius vest (just need to seam the sides) and I've cast on a sweater for me and I'm about to cast on a sweater for Dave as well. But I want to cast on about 20 other things!

I'm not going to link these as I don't have a lot of time (hence the cop-out tests above) but I'm sure you can find most of them on Ravelry. I used a yarn for my mom's vest that I have about 10 skeins of in a different color. I want to use this stuff for a Hexagon Coat (from Knitting Nature). I believe with the enormous bin of sock yarn I've collected, that, at some point, I should actually knit a sock. I want to make my FIL/MIL each warm hats for the impending cold of winter in Colorado. I want to make my BIL/SIL the crocheted bathroom rug from One Skein (by Leigh Radford). I actually bought the yarn for it but am currently using that yarn in a YeeHaw hat (from Stitch and Bitch Happy Hooker) for me to wear as part of my Halloween costume. There's a laceweight (fingering weight, actually) shrug I designed that I was going to make for my Reunion but I only came up with the idea for it about 2 weeks before I had to leave so that's on needles and needs to be frogged and restarted again.

Which brings me to the WIP's. The Pimlico shrug has about 7 inches left and then I can sew it up, sew in the sleeves then do the ribbing on the edge. I'm dreading those seven inches. I've grown weary of this pattern and it's not a dull pattern, it's just that doing it for the required 34" is becoming a bit tedious. I've decided that I'm going to work on it whenever Dave is watching football. I should have those last inches done by next Monday. I've got three scarves in the works - mindless stuff for when I'm in the car or having to wait somewhere. And can I just say that I still love doing scarves. They are quick and near-instant gratification - what's not to love??

I have an Icarus shawl that's about 1/3 done. I've discovered that I really don't care for the cobweb knitting. I love lace knitting - in scarves, sweaters and (I'd imagine) even in socks. It's the cobweb yarn I don't care for. I was making the Icarus for my mom but if I ever finish it, I don't think I'll give it to her. When I visited her, I was in a constant state of raging headache at her house. I figured out it was due to the constant haze of cigarette smoke. I can't see putting that much work into something so delicate only to have it infused with smoke. I'll put that much work into a sweater or something else for her. For some reason it just offends my feeble sensibilities to think of an Icarus being all smoky.

I have 3, wait, 4 (maybe 5?) socks on needles. Most of them are only 1 or 2" into the process. I don't know what's keeping me from finishing a sock. I think it's probably the silly notion that the first sock I finish should be interesting. I don't ever see doing just a plain rib-cuff-stockinette sock. I can buy those anywhere. But now I'm thinking I'm just going to whip out some sport socks for Dave (the kind that are toe-up and don't even cover the ankles) and be done with this whole first sock stupor I've created for myself.

"Stupor I've created for myself" Story of my life lately. Maybe, for me, that's what all this startitis is about - an attempt to jump start some creativity and motivation in my life right now. I'm feeling very stressed and very stalled in almost everything I'm doing lately. I keep tripping on things and I keep doing things I have no recollection of doing. Like 5 minutes ago and I forget what I just did. (Dave tells me I let the cat out this morning and I still don't remember doing it.) Lack of sleep. I blame lack of sleep.

It's getting in the way of things, this stupor. I had this great idea for a photo to enter in the R.I.P. Challenge's Sinister Photo contest but I kept forgetting to take it and the deadline was yesterday. About 10p last nite I remembered (dammit!). The deadline was midnight but my idea involved the small boy who was fast asleep upstairs and I couldn't wake him for that.

Well, I think I've rambled enough.

Feeling a bit paralyzed, Ruth!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I finished the R.I.P. Challenge! I read 4 books between Sep. 1 and Oct. 25. That's gotta be some kind of record for me! I may even finish a 5th one by the time the challenge ends on October 31, midnite.

The last book I'd picked for this challenge was Devil in the White City. It was really good! I picked it to read last since I knew it wasn't going to move as quickly for me as the others. This book is nonfiction. I don't do well with nonfiction - even when it's written to read like a novel as DWC was. It's about the World Fair in Chicago 1894. It's about how that World Fair came about and the men who were instrumental in getting it pulled together (despite the usual bureaucratic nonsense).

It's hard to grasp the magnitude of the whole affair. Maybe if there were more pictures I could've wrapped my brain around it easier (or even if there were more comparisons to modern day structures). The sheer magnitude of the crew trying to build this "city" in such a short time is mind-boggling.

How this book fits in with the R.I.P. Challenge is the way the author wove in the story of a serial killer who took advantage of the influx of strangers coming to Chicago at the time of the World Fair - both to enjoy the fair and to find work in this already large and suddenly booming city. It was shortly after Jack the Ripper made a name for himself in London. Jack was credited with 5 killings and he is in our consciousness yet today. He's so iconic, I don't think you could find a single person in the Western world over the age of 10 who doesn't know about him. The killer in this book admitted to killing 27 people (estimates are higher). And he didnt' discriminate - men, women, children, he didn't care.

The book was very well done. An occasional foray into unnecessary speculation (mostly about the killer's childhood) but other then that a fascinating and very satisfying read.

The 5th book I'm trying to finish before the week ends is a book I won from the R.I.P. Challenge! It's a first edition of Neil Gaiman's new book The Graveyard Book. I won it through a random drawing in the Challenge. (Actually someone else's name was drawn and she told the host that she had received a copy for her birthday so to go ahead and pass it on and then my name was drawn. Very generous of her - thank you!)

If you've never read any thing from Gaiman, I highly suggest you go find something of his and get started. I've only read Coraline and I adore that book! I've also watched his Neverwhere series (on DVD from the library). It's very cool! I'm thoroughly enjoying this Graveyard Book as well and will be delving more into Gaiman's works in the future.

Hey, I wanted to say thanks for the huge response I've had for the Traveling Trevor contest! I posted about it on Friday and by Saturday, I already had 15 people! I have about 20 people entered, including 2 from Canada and one from New Zealand! If you are out of the States, you can certainly enter - I will email you the paper doll and his Traveling Form and you can just mail it back to us when you've finished with him.

Still reading, Ruth!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Traveling Trevor Contest

My oldest son has a class project he needs to complete. Here's the notice he came home with:

Dear Friend or Relative,

Hello! I am participating in an exciting learning project with the other students in my class in Parker, CO. We have read a funny book called "Flat Stanley" by Jeff Brown. The book is about a young boy named Stanley who is accidentally squished "as flat as a pancake" when a bulletin board falls on him. Stanley is very, very flat but otherwise fine. The story goes on to tell how Stanley discovers some real advantages to being flat. He can slide under doors, go down into sidewalk grates, and even fold himself up small enough to fit into an envelope and be mailed to California for an exciting vacation.

My classmates and I are sending out plain paper dolls that we call Flat Stanley [or for the purpose of this contest - Traveling Trevor], and we are sending them off to visit cities all over the world [T has specifically requested Hawaii, if anyone can help with that]. I have selected you to be Flat Stanley's "host" and hope that you will send him back to me after a short visit telling us (my class) something about your city and the exciting things Flat Stanley saw or did while he was there. We would also appreciate it if you could let us know approximately how far your city is from Parker, CO. so that we can calculate the number of miles Flat Stanley has traveled. (Using the website is a quick easy way to calculate mileage.) If Flat Stanley finds any souvenirs while visiting your city, such as a postcard or bumper sticker, he would love to share them with my class. Of course Flat Stanley would also appreciate it if you could "dress" him to reflect the season you are in, or an activity that he did, or other clothing that would tell us more about where you live (and take a picture with him!).

Thank you for letting my Flat Stanley come visit you! Would you please make sure that my Flat Stanley gets home by December 1, 2008? Thanks again!

Sincerely, T

My idea is to send this to as many places as possible, have people fill out the form and take pic's with the paper doll and then send it on to the next person on the list. So here's the contest:

How To's:
1. Send your mailing address and email address to my email (Ruth AT 5elementknitr DOT com). Put Traveling Trevor in the subject line as most of these will go to my junk mail. DO NOT put your addresses in the comments or anywhere else on this blog.

2. I will email you the form to fill out and after you receive the paper doll, you can fill it out and send it back to me by email (preferably in an attachment).

3. You will also be asked to take pic's of the paper doll somewhere in your town (backyard with the pets/kids is fine, but we're looking for points of interest in your town, no matter how small or large!). Email the pic's in attachment form, too.

4. Then you will have to send the doll on to the next person (I'll email you who that will be).

5. If you have any "souvenirs" to send, I'll send you my address so you can mail them directly to T instead of having to try to pass them on to the next host and the next and the next, etc.

Time is of the essence here - This project is due on Dec. 1 which means I'd like all of this to be finished by November 28. So that's the deadline - November 28 (the day after Thanksgiving). That deadline is for Traveling T to come back and be done. Please DO NOT sign up if you can't get your turn and kick it back in the mail within a day or two of receiving. We don't want Traveling Trevor to get stuck anywhere!
I was thinking of having this all done through email (just posting the paper doll T decorates and letting you all print and go crazy) but I think that would be cheating as the assignment is to mail the thing around. ETA: If you want to participate and are not in the US, then by all means, I will email you all the stuff (including a paper doll) and you can still play so it gets done in time!

Entries:You will get one entry for completing steps 1-4. You will get a second entry if you complete step 5. I'll put all entries in a hat and let T close his eyes and pick the winner.

Here's the prize for this contest:

Pagewood Farm Yukon Sock Yarn; Colorway New Horizon;
Merino/Bamboo/Nylon (70/20/10); 450 yards
(A better picture can be seen at their site

and of course, a Customized Stitch Saver
ETA - 2 : If you want to play and don't knit, I'll think of something special for a prize for you. Maybe I'll use this yarn to knit you something nice? Or I can also think of a completely unrelated knit prize. Due to my obsession with all things knitting, I'll have to think hard but I'm sure I can come up with something!

Now for someone else's contest. Sophanne is having a contest to show your favorite Halloween costume. For T's first Halloween, we went to a party for the kids in our playgroup. Dave and I were pirates and T was our parrot. We threw our costumes together and I made T's out of felt wings I cut out and glued some feathers to, a felt beak I cut out and attached to a red hat and a red onesie. My favorite part about these costumes is that it was Dave's idea!

T was about 5 months old....

I like this shot as it shows T's perpetual pouty lip he'd get when he was tired...

Paper doll mailing, Ruth!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I went to my 20 year high school reunion on Oct. 11. I graduated from Clovis High School in Clovis, CA - Class of '88 - Go Cougars! It's a small town (or at least it was small) outside Fresno. Redneck California. It's all orchards, vineyards and cows. We used to joke that Clovis and Fresno were 2 or 3 hours from anywhere you really wanted to be (the beach, mountains, San Francisco, LA, etc).

Anyway, I didn't plan on going. I never cared for high school and while I had lots of friends and even with a graduating class of over 600, everyone pretty much knew everyone else - still didn't care much about going back. But my best friend since we were 13, Nikie, was very persuasive. We used to see each other every 3 years or so (she lives in Georgia) and I was in her wedding and she was in mine, but we hadn't seen each other since my wedding in 2000.

So we convinced another friend of ours (Chelsea) to go and we all met up on Saturday night for the shindig. My husband bet me how many lines I could sneak in from Gross Pointe Blank - one of our favorite movies (it's a hilarious movie about an assassin who decides to go to his high school reunion). I got in about 6. My first opportunity was when we checked in and they handed us our stick-on name tags with our Senior picture on it. I looked at Chelsea and said, "Oh, it's a fresh kind of hell" which is the line Cusack says when they gave him his sticky label with high school pic on it. It was actually pretty helpful though since, out of the roughly 40 people who showed up, only 4 looked exactly the same as they did 20 years ago. And one of them was a cheat as he was one of the 6 black kids in our entire graduating class.

Another reason I didn't want to go was they chose a black and white dressing up theme for the party. Really?? We couldn't just have an equally lame luau theme and at least be comfortable??

I bought my dress a couple of days before for $6 (gotta love the clearance rack at Kohl's) and my shoes, make-up, nylons - pretty much everything I had on me had to be purchased since I don't dress up.

Here's a pic of Nikie, me and Chelsea...

Chelsea, I have to point out, is wearing a dress that she wore to a Winter Formal when we were in high school. Still fits her! (Her dad had kept it all these years.)

And yes, that is my finished Juliet! I'll give more details, better pics, and the story of that project in another post.

So it doesn't take a real keen eye to see that I had changed clothes during the evening. After dinner, when the dancing started, I went up to my room and changed to be comfortable. (BTW, the 3 story hotel didn't have any elevators. Haven't there been elevators since, like, 1810? Fresno.)

There was drinking. Lots of it. I kept telling Chelsea, "I don't know how you're facing this sober!"


Group shot. The guy in the front row holding up his drink is the only teacher that showed up. It was kind of funny, because as I remember, this guy got in trouble for partying with the students 20 years ago! Apparently, he's still at it.

I don't know if I'm doing that old lady shrink thing already or what but all the guys seemed about 6" taller then they were when we graduated. It was weird.

The whole thing was surreal. I went by myself which was a bummer. I really wanted my husband and kids to be there (there was a reunion family picnic on Sunday). If for no other reason then to be able to use them as a distraction. As in, "Look, shiny children! Pay no attention to the fat girl behind the curtain, look at the shiny children and gorgeous husband!" The thought of facing my crazy family and former classmates by myself was giving me nightmares for awhile before I went.

But in reality, I had the best time!! (I'm sure the alcohol helped). Really, though. I had so much fun and everyone was really cool and laughing and having a great time as well. We were all filling in the gaps for each other with all the "Remember when" and "ohmigod, I'd totally forgotten that!" One of the women who showed up with her husband lives in Colorado now, one town over from me!

Sunday morning, I had breakfast with Nikie and her family before they headed off to Disneyland. Nikie had gone to the ten year reunion and she said it was so different because people still had attitudes and cliques and something to prove but at the 20 year, everyone was over it and was just there to have a great time.

Also, Nikie's daughters were breaking my heart. At 6 and 3 they are so beautiful and adorable, it just made me miss my babies so much!

On Sunday, I went to the picnic and hung out with Stacy (a friend from elementary school) and Chelsea. It was really laid back and other then one girl's insistence that we play softball, it was really mellow. No one wanted to play ball and I think everyone was just chillin' and recovering from the previous evening's revelry.

After the picnic, I stopped to see an old friend who had refused to go to any of the reunion festivities. In fact, her exact words were, "Awww, you're cute! Not going." I sat in her kitchen with her and her wife and we talked and laughed our asses off for almost 3 hours! It was so great to see her. I was teasing her that she is one of those people who's dog looks just like their owner. She's got this big, burly Akita. Looks really intimidating but is actually a teddy bear. Veronica is the same way. She looks like a short, burly, intimidating Samoan man but is actually about one of the sweetest, kindest people I know. I wish I brought my camera to take a pic with her but I forgot it at my mom's house.

On Monday, I went to my old high school to see some teachers. My friend Tiffany, works as the registrar at the school now and she told me not to check in first - she said if I checked in, they probably wouldn't let me go see anyone. She told me to call her in the morning and she'd tell me when/where to go to see the 2 teachers I wanted to see. I went to Mr. Menendian's class to say hi but he was out for the day. Then I went to see my dance teacher, Mick. She was such a huge influence in my life. She was a strong, stable woman and that was something I never had much of growing up. She was always so patient and kind and made us feel like we were worth a million bucks.

I went to the locker room to see her and the moment I laid eyes on her, I started tearing up. I swear, I had such a hard time pulling it together to tell her how much she meant to me. I kept starting to tear up and blubber like an idiot! I don't know where it was coming from but I got so emotional. What the hell! She was really cool about it and we got to talk for about 15 minutes before she had to go start her class. She's still the best! Here's a pic of us under the Dance Yourself Silly sign she still has over the door after all these years.

I walked across campus to the amphitheater. Sat on the edge of the stage like we always did at lunch way back when. Swinging my legs and wondering why such a land-locked town has seagulls flying everywhere around the high school (just like 20 years ago). Some woman who works at the schools walks up to me and standing not a foot from me and looking dead into my face snaps, "What are you doing?? Don't you have class to go to?" I looked at her and smiled, "um, 20 years ago." After she figured out I'm an adult, she was all smiles and sweet, "Oh, just visiting then? Well, have fun!" Some things never change.

I walked to the admin building to see Tiffany and take my pic under the mangy, stuffed cougar that's still on the wall there. Do you see his missing toe (it's the little white spot on his hind foot)? I wonder who snapped off that souvenir. People always get all bent about that cougar being there but the thing's been dead for over 40 years. It wouldn't be alive now even if it hadn't been killed and stuffed by some hunter so long ago. And we all know that back then, these things were more acceptable. Plus, as I've mentioned, Clovis isn't exactly forward thinking. So it's still there.

Clovis now has a population of over 94,000 people. That blows me away. It was like 30,000 when I left in 1991. When I was in 8th grade, there was this huge open field in one corner of the main crossroads in Clovis. Someone put up a sign that said, "Future Home of the Sierra Vista Mall. When I left 8 years later, that sign and empty field were still the same. The only thing they'd built was the movie theater in the field behind it. Now that mall is actually there. Shocker!

It's so changed and yet still so the same. The highway 101 is still a dead end. Usually when you see a sign that says, "Highway ends, 100 feet", it means that the highway turns into some random road. Not so in Fresno. In Fresno, it means, "No, Bitch, the highway ENDS. You best find the next exit." Otherwise, you'll be barrelling through wooden barricades and hitting a mountain of dirt. Ahhh, Fresno. How I've missed thee. (not really)

On Monday, I also went to see my high school sweetheart, Drew. We started dating when I was around 16 and were together for nearly 3 years. The first two years were great, that last one was mutual torture and drama. When I moved out of the house when I was 17, we lived together for about a year. We've always been friends and keep in touch by phone every year or so.

His family owns a big auto machine shop in Clovis and they all run it together. His dad (whose retired but still shows up everyday, because, really, what else is he gonna do?) is still there, Drew runs it now, and his oldest sister still runs the admin side of it. His little brother (who was about 6 years old when I left town) is all grown up now and is working there as well. (They have 2 other sisters, one is a teacher in Las Vegas and his littlest sibling, Sally Marie, is getting her Master's at Fresno State - she was about 3 years old when I left. I'm old.) His mom got paralyzed (waist down) in a car accident about 10 years ago (99 car pile-up in the fog on one of California's highways). She sometimes comes to the shop still, too but wasn't there when I visited. It was great to see them! I was a little nervous about seeing him in my current shape (or lack thereof) but I needn't have been. He got fat, too! We were laughing about our weight and the old times and the current times. We crack each other up, still!

His girlfriend showed up and they are having some drama. I was at the other end of the counter and I guess she told him, "Why don't you go start talking to her, then!" and left. He told her I was with the other guy standing at the counter (who is another old friend of ours, but apparently one she didn't know very well). I told him he should've said, "That? Man, she was 20 years ago!" Like I said, some things never change. Drew's not happy unless he's with a woman whose making him miserable. That includes me - 20 years ago, I was a total basket case! Thank Dog for therapy!

I also got to meet some of my "imaginary friends" (as my husband calls the bloggers). I had dinner with Quail Hill Knits (but forgot my camera again). She has the best stories! Like the fact that, recently, the police recovered a motorcycle that was stolen from her husband... 20 years ago!! Awesome.

And I got to have breakfast with and a ride to the airport from ChickenKnits. She's so funny and cool! I wished we live closer together!

I'd get into the drama that is my family but even I'm bored with it at this point and this post is overly long enough as it stands.

More fun then I'd ever imagined, Ruth!

Friday, October 3, 2008

R.I.P. Challenge Update

I finished Greely's Cove over a week ago and I finished Shadow Man night before last. It's amazing how much reading you can get done when you don't watch as much TV. Or get as much sleep.

Greely's Cove was really good. It started out very similar to Salem's Lot. Creepy, old guy moves to town. People start disappearing but reappearing to loved ones in the night. Creepy, old guy is controlling some of the weaker minds in town. A few people band together to save the day. It was really quite good in it's own right, however - very chilling and scary. And no vampires. Very makes-you-check-under-the-bed scary.

It made me realize that, while I read tons of scary books, it's actually been a few years since I read one that involved scary from the netherworlds kind of stuff. I realized that lately all the scary I've been reading is more thriller/suspense involving human monsters (serial killers). After reading Greely's Cove, I realized I'm going to have to start delving back into the shelf it came off in my bookcase. The shelf with all the not-of-this-world scary stuff.

Shadow Man was a return to the serial killer. It was also very good. Another testament to the speed with which I've read the past three books - if it's excellent, it makes me want to read straight through. This particular book has "Advanced Copy - Not For Resale" both printed on the front of the book and stamped all along the edges of the pages. Clearly someone couldn't read as I bought it resold at the used book store. (Several someone's if you count the store clerks and me). As an advanced copy, there were quite a few typos. Normally, typos in books drive me nuts as it takes me out of the story because I notice these things. But with an Advanced Copy - Not For Resale, I was expecting them and it didn't effect me as much. The main thing I couldn't get past (and this is, admittedly, unbelievably stupid that it should bother me) was that the main character was 4'10" and one of her co-workers was a "big, mountain of a man". Several times throughout the story, she'd console/comfort/lightly restrain him by "putting her hands on his shoulders". If he's over 6' and she's 4'10", she'd need to be standing on a chair to put her hands anywhere near his shoulders.

Other then my own anal retentive issues, the story line was excellent with quite a few interesting twists along the way. It's very graphically gruesome here and there, so keep that in mind if you plan on putting this one on your reading list. It's got great characters who actually cry and get physically ill when things effect them. I read a lot of stories about serial killers and the law enforcement people are always so stoic - sure they get angry but none of them ever really breaks down no matter what they see. I just don't see it being that way in real life. This story, they seem more human and humane in their reactions. Not that everyone is blubbering all the time either. The author creates a nice balance of their reactions and their ability to continue to do their jobs. Very well done.

On to Devil in the White City, Ruth!