Tuesday, February 24, 2009

K is for Kids

I almost killed a little kid yesterday at the library.

I took my little guys (2 boys, 7 and 5) to an educational "Hawkquest" thing at the library. They had live, wild birds and the woman giving the presentation was obviously very passionate about them. She, just as obviously, didn't hang around little kids much as she gave the rules - sit still and be quiet for an hour. "Have you seen how little these kids are??", I thought. But actually, they all did really well!

Except for the little bugger behind me. He was about 5 or 6 and talked (albeit quietly) for the entire time. Even the woman pausing and glaring at him a couple of times didn't get him to be quiet. I wondered where his parents were. He was fascinated with my knitting. I put it in my purse when the birds came out (didn't know how they'd be with shiny, flashy things) and he edged closer and closer as the hour progressed. I felt him bump me and when I turned around I saw this kid leaning on my purse with his whole forearm inside my bag! At first I just let it be, but then I noticed his hands moving and saw that he was messing with my knitting in the bag. Again, where's his mom??

I tapped his arm gently and sort of shook my head so he'd move it. He did. I turned back to pay attention to the bird woman and that little shit punched me as hard as he could. Landed his stupid little fist right on the bone of my shoulderblade! I looked at him like he was nuts and I heard his mom whispering for him to leave me alone and then he put fist against my shoulder again (just a tap this time)! She harshly whispered something else to him and he said, "What? I'm being gentle this time!" I looked at him and as quietly as I could, through clenched teeth, told him, "Don't. touch. me."

His mom was sitting about 5' away from us and after the event was over, she made him come apologize to me and she apologized, too saying, "He gets a little overly physical." I thought, "Clearly. And if that's the case, maybe he should have been sitting next to you!", but just nodded and left with my boys. Seriously, who does that?

A couple of days ago, while we were driving around town, Davis made the announcement that he wasn't going to watch scary movies until he was 30.
Dave: Oh, you'll probably change your mind. You'll probably start liking them around age 15 or 16.
D2: Hmmm. I'm going to go with 30.
We thought that was pretty funny!

Last month, D2 asked Dave, "Is it January 20th?" and when Dave said no, D2 asked, "What kind of January is it?"

T is off track and has been very busy. Lots of video games for sure but he's also started making greeting cards and joke books. He made a great card for his gma's 80th birthday and yesterday made me a very sweet get well card (I've got a nasty cold right now - throat hurts!).

Sunday morning, he wanted to put on a circus. He said, "I'll be the clown and Davis can be the lion tamer!" The funny part about that (at least for us) is the fact that if they ever were in a circus, those jobs would suit their respective personalities perfectly! Later T put on a show for us - he was lion tamer, puppeteer and clown - 3 ring circus! Then D2 gave it a go. Good time!

Sick as I'm feeling, they always make me feel better. We're so lucky to have those little guys! And, for now, at least they don't go around punching total strangers!

Off to find my fake Dayquil, Ruth!

Friday, February 20, 2009

J is for Jester

Just like last year, it amazes me how the letters present themselves just as they're most needed!
This is what I did last night...

Went to a book-signing with for one of my all-time favorite authors!!
Donna and I got there around 5p to get our number (that's for the signing) and also to be in line to get good seats. Front row, baby!
Knitted the whole time!

First up was the man who introduced Christopher Moore. His name is Graham something and he's the sci-fi (and other genres) book reviewer for the Denver paper...
He was terribly funny in his own right and had a whole diatribe about bastards. (The book "Fool" is Shakespeare's King Lear told from the point of view of the king's jester. There's lots of bastards in Shakespearean plays, just as there's lots of bastards today.)
Then the author came out and we all laughed our asses off for a full hour!
If you get any kind of chance to see Christopher Moore speak in person - run to it! Get there early. About 300 people showed up and the room only holds about 200. They had an overflow room with speakers and no chairs. Seriously, go early. Even if you've no idea who the man is and/or have never read anything he's ever written, go see him. It's free and it's a great time. Unless you're easily offended. If you're easily offended, stay home - trust me! When we got home (at 11:30p!), I told Dave that Moore said he'd come to Denver for 12 of the 18 years he's been writing (for book signings) and that next time, Dave has to go with me.
I got 3 books last year. Only 3. One was the special edition of Christopher Moore's Lamb. He's the best!
Seriously great night, Ruth!
P. S. Speaking of great authors, a friend pointed me towards this recently. It's Neil Gaiman reading all of The Graveyard Book on his last book tour. A chapter per stop. Very cool!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I is for Insurance

A few months ago, Dave woke me around midnight with those three little words every woman wants to hear....

"Don't freak out."

He was wearing his robe (which he never wears) and for a split instant my brain jumped on the fact that one of the kids was missing and he'd gone outside to look for them. Thankfully, this was not the case.

He'd been having mild chest pains all day and around midnight, he'd gone to the bathroom and suddenly started shivering and shaking and couldn't stop. He put the robe on to be warmer but still couldn't stop shaking. That, combined with the chest pain, convinced him he should go to ER. This is a man who is typical in that it has to be a visible bone before he goes to a doctor.

I offered to drive him but he refused and drove himself. Which I thought was stupid, considering he might be having a heart attack!

He was fine. They tested him thoroughly and he has the heart of a lion, which I already knew.

So why am I telling you about this months later? Because I've been saving up this rant for awhile. If you want to skip it, there's a contest from another blog at the end. Really good one, too! Great cause and over 60 yarny prizes!

OK. D went to the ER at the hospital here in Parker. Our insurance is with Kaiser Permanente. We've been contemplating for months about switching to another company. Several reasons:
A) Being self-employed, we pay over $500 a month for something we never use. Our family is unnaturally healthy *knocks on wood*.
B) I've been investigating HSA's and it seems like a much better fit for our family. Doesn't cost too much less but at least we get to keep our money. With KP, it's like throwing money into a hole and then throwing in a flaming torch. And when the flame goes out, throwing in a rabid weasel. (It irritates me, can you tell?)
C) There's no KP place for us to go to in Parker.

C is one of the biggest problems I have with it all. When we first moved here and bought our insurance, we didn't know any better. It wasn't until months later when I was scheduling my annual that we found out. If KP had any integrity at all, they would've pointed out the fact that we were going to have to drive 30 minutes to get to the nearest KP providers. WTF??

When D went to the ER that night, he was taken back right away (as they do with anyone who thinks they're having a heart attack) and once they were sure he was stable, they started all the testing that goes with a suspected MI. He was, of course, there for several hours. At 7 am, I called to see how he was doing (since, obviously, he wasn't calling me and after 5 hours the frantic was overtaking the patience). He told me they had one test left to do but they were going to transfer him by ambulance to a hospital in downtown Denver to do this last test. "Why?", you ask? Because the hospital in Parker isn't a KP provider.

They transferred him to St. J's in Denver. Via ambulance. It's nearly an hour's drive from Parker. For one test.

Does that boggle anyone else besides us?

Again, Dave's fine. They don't know what was causing the shaking but his heart is perfect.

So about a week or so later, we start getting those papers. If you've ever used your insurance, you know the ones. "This isn't a bill, we just want to show you how much money we saved you by having our insurance" papers. They made me sick. They made me furious. They made me want to go find a rabid weasel.

That ambulance ride? Forget the extra cost of checking into another hospital. That ambulance ride alone cost nearly $1000 dollars. One thousand dollars!! For one more test. It seemed so stupid and wasteful. Wouldn't it have been easier (on both the staff and the patient) and definitely cheaper to just leave D where he was and do a little extra paperwork??

We must've received 12 of those papers. For various things around the hospital (well, hospitals really) and the ambulance ride and the testing and the..... everything.

I pretty much demanded D find us another provider ASAP. ASAP for D means he did it at the end of the year. And now we have some lame "temporary" insurance. That whole episode means D might have a pre-existing condition and we've been turned down by 2 other companies now.

Again, I say, WTF?? If anything, it proved he has the healthiest heart in the house! (At least among the adults). It's insanity.

For about a week, we had no insurance. I didn't want anyone to leave the house. Or their beds. For fear of an accident that would bankrupt us. And how sad is that? The fact that something like 40% of people losing their homes right now is due to medical bills! Not just the mortgage fiasco, but people who got involved in the mortgage fiasco by getting 2nd mortgages on their homes to pay hospital bills. It's pathetic and disgraceful in a country of our affluence that this should ever be possible.

Other things in the insurance world that have been boggling me lately...

My FIL has to sleep with oxygen. He has a machine with some mighty long tubing that ends up with a nose cannula. He pays $30 a month co-pay while his insurance company foots another $200 a month for this machine. My FIL did some research and discovered that for a flat $600 you could buy a whole brand-new machine!! And that's at retail prices! So that means between my FIL and his insurance company, they could buy the equivalent of 4.6 Brand New, retail priced machines a year!

He told us he was going to write a letter to the insurance company and we assured him they already knew and didn't care. Why they didn't care is a riddle that would stump the Sphinx.

The midwife (Karen) who birthed D2 needed to get out of midwifery and move back East to help out with a family situation. Her medical malpractice insurance wouldn't let her out of her ungodly, expensive coverage unless she paid them something in the neighborhood of $20,000 dollars. Twenty. Thousand. They claimed it was to cover any future malpractice suits that might come up from the births she'd attended/assisted. You know what? That's fine. I actually kind of get that one. Here's how it should go down, if I ran the world. You need $20K to cover future suits? Here it is. Only you have to keep it in an interest-earning escrow account and if no suits come up within the statute of limitations (or even 5 years after, because we know how the legal system sometimes works), then Karen gets that money back. With the interest. She was held hostage to this clause for months until she could come up with the $20K and leave town.

Also, did you know that if you have a heart attack while driving and it causes a wreck you probably won't be covered by your car insurance? Most car insurance companies consider that car-wreck-causing heart attack an "Act of God" and they don't cover Acts of God. And you can be damn sure that while your health insurance may cover your body for the heart attack, they ain't coverin' your car. Check it out for yourself!

Awhile back we watched Michael Moore's Sicko movie. We tend to watch all his movies but we watch with a huge grain of salt. Michael Moore is a sensationalist and a propagandist and he tends to get overly dramatic with his way of showing us things. But that doesn't mean what he's showing us isn't true. If you ever want to get good and pissed off, watch a Michael Moore movie.

For me, the most shocking part of the movie was when they interviewed the young woman with Cervical Cancer. Sicko isn't about people without health insurance, although at the beginning, they touch on that. It's an even more frightening movie for focusing on the people getting screwed who have really great health insurance. That young woman? She had excellent (and fully paid up) health insurance. She got Cervical Cancer at age 24. Her insurance company refused her claim saying, "Not possible. Women as young as you don't get Cervical Cancer." Again I say - What. The. Fuck.

I know a lot of really conservative people are harping on the socialism factor of free nationwide medical care but what people don't seem to realize is that a lot of our daily lives are already socialized. I didn't realize either until I watched Sicko. MM points out that having a police force, a fire department, public schools, public libraries - all that is socialism. It's benefits we receive for the taxes we pay.

I'm hoping, as most of us are, that with this new Executive Office, things will get better. I'm also hoping that soon we can find some good, affordable, locally-available-facility insurance.

And on the subject of hope! I hope I win any of a number of fantastic prizes here. She'll be drawing winners in about 2 weeks. Give and give big!

Ever hopeful, Ruth!

Monday, February 9, 2009

H is for Head

As in Head Games.

(I know, it's a stretch but I'm trying to keep the titles to one word per letter and I'm also trying, today, to incorporate Military Monday!)

One of the best pieces of advice I got going into Basic Training (BT) was that it was all just a big head game. If you don't play along, you'll be fine.

Truer words were never spoken! From that first Shock Treatment when you get off the bus at BT proper (after the week long vacation that was Reception), until they hand you your training diploma after 8 weeks - it's one. Big. Head.... alright, we'll stick with Game.

There's 3 Drill Sgt.'s (DS) per squad and 4 squads per platoon. My squad had the only female DS in the platoon. DS McCoy. She was this tiny, dark-skinned, wiry, hardcore chick who didn't take shit from anyone. She was the lead DS in my squad. The other 2 DS's were DS Beaufort (tall, skinny, dark-skinned, gold tooth, hip-hop walkin', talkin' F'er) and DS Brown (medium height, dark-skinned, quiet-spoken, very intelligent man).

DS Beaufort started our 8 weeks with a fun game. I think it was called "How much can I fuck with these recruits' heads?". One of the many rules we had to follow regarded our headgear (cap). If you're inside, headgear off; outside, headgear on. DS Beaufort told us that if we were within 5 feet of the door coming in, we had to take our headgear off, to prepare for coming inside. If we were within 5 feet of going outside, headgear on. He was constantly yelling at us for getting it wrong and finally, he even measured it out for us around the barracks door.

We didn't understand why the other Drill's were always yelling at us about our hats being on/off in the wrong place. When I got yelled at for about the fifth time by a DS from another squad about having my hat wrong, I told him what DS Beaufort said. Beaufort was walking up right about that time and DS Ski (the one who yelled at me) was trying, rather unsuccessfully, to not bust a gut laughing while he had me recount what Beaufort had told us. Of course, Beaufort denied the whole thing and they laughed their asses off while I did push ups for calling Beaufort a liar. I remember looking at Beaufort incredulously while he denied ever saying that. I sputtered, "What are you talking about, Drill??? You measured it out for us with this very door!" Beaufort looked at Ski and said, "She's clearly lost her mind. Must've dreamed this whole thing up to stay out of trouble", all the while grinning from ear to ear. I looked at Beaufort and had to laugh at the whole stupid nonsense myself while I said, "Ooooh, DS Beaufort, you are a liiiiaaaarr!" Then I had to do a bamilliondy push-ups. (I also remember while I was pushing concrete, Ski whispering to Beaufort, "That was a good one, I'll have to remember that for the next cycle [of soldiers].")

DS Ski's favorite game was to berate the women in our platoon, saying that women had no place in the Army and shouldn't be allowed in. In fact, this country started going downhill when women were given the right to vote. When he said that last line to me, I told him he must be really old to have been around since women were given the right to vote. More push ups for me!

My friend Amy and I figured out very early that if you made the DS's laugh, they'd leave you alone. If you got mad or, Dog forbid, cried, they were all over you all the time. But if you made them laugh! Then they saw they couldn't get in your head and they'd leave you be. Mostly. Whenever the DS's would drop Amy or I, we'd say, "Awwww, Drill serrrrrgeannnnnt!" in this silly, whiny way that'd always make them laugh.

Then there's the nonsense trips they send you on. They tell a recruit to go find a box of widgets or something else that doesn't exist and the poor soldier goes searching all over hell and back trying to find it. Asking every other DS or outranking personnel they find if they know where it is. The other personnel takes up the joke and sends them to someone else and the game goes all damn day. I used to love that joke! For real! My friend told me all about the fake treasure hunts and I'd use these hunts to have some "me" time. I'd find a nice shady spot or a closet and catch a few winks or just be nice and alone for awhile, all the time "looking" for my widget. Not so stupid after all!

Some people couldn't handle these head games. There were so very many of these games and if you didn't find a sense of self or a sense of humor about it, it could really work on you. There was a night when my friend Krissa and I were on duty along with DS McCoy. McCoy got the call that a soldier in the next barracks needed transport to the hospital. She was wondering why the DS on duty over there couldn't do it, but they asked her to come and do it anyway as the DS over there needed to counsel the others in that platoon. McCoy sat back and finished her sandwich. Krissa and I asked, "Shouldn't we be getting him? He needs to go to the hospital, right?" She said there was no rush, if it was a real emergency, they would've called an ambulance.

We got in the truck with her and drove down to the barracks in question. (I can't remember why she took us along, we were just happy she did. We really liked her and it was something different then the mind-numbing boredom of sitting at the desk duty.) She went into the building to get the guy. While she was gone, we changed the radio to a station we liked and when we saw her coming with the guy, we quickly switched it back. The soldier we picked up was holding a towel around his neck and she had him get in the back of the truck.

"You can change it back to the other station," she said, as she climbed into the driver's seat.
"What do you mean?" we asked, all innocence and light.
"Don't be stupid," she said, "I saw you two bobbing to the music from the front door!" We sheepishly changed the channel back to the music.

So this boy we picked up... He'd tried to commit suicide. I wondered if maybe putting him in the back of a moving truck was such a great idea, but DS McCoy said she'd zipped him in and we knew he'd really have to work to get the tarp that covers the back of the truck unzipped from the inside. (It was a big truck, used to transport soldiers - there were benches to sit on and slatted sides and a canvas like structure that covers the whole shebang.) Seems this stupid boy couldn't handle life in BT and had tied the long cord of the floor-buffer around his neck and then thrown the buffer out the third story window. Only the cord was too long. Instead of hanging from the window and choking the boy to death, the buffer hit the ground, breaking into a million pieces and making a hell of a racket. It was short enough, though that it slammed the boy against the wall on it's way down. And, yes, I know there's a whole psychology surrounding suicide attempts that makes this boy more sad then stupid, but, seriously, what a stupid way to try and kill yourself! Plus, if BT is really that bad for you, there's ways to get out that don't involve death. Or floor-buffers.

Don't get me wrong. There were many days when I had to restrain myself from going rabid and launching myself at these DS's - most of which were 3 times my size. Whenever I'd feel myself gettin' all bunched up over something, I'd remind myself "8 weeks, it's only 8 weeks. High school was 4 years and 3,000 times harder. You can do this."

There was one DS in particular who used to get under my skin. He wasn't even in my squad! (Huge Army lesson, right there. The thing I always hated most about the Army was that any fucker who had a slightly heavier collar then you (i.e. more rank) would mess with you. Just because they could.) He was a 1st squad DS. In 1st squad, there was a girl that could've been my twin. Our DS's were constantly mixing us up. We had the same body type, same eyes, same hair. The DS's used to tease us, saying our parents must have been messing around. This particular DS (Logan) was usually the one making most of the parental infidelity jokes. Those didn't bother me so much, but the guy was just an asshole in general and would always be on my case about something. Used to piss me off so much, mostly because wasn't my squad DS, wasn't in charge of me, and, really, shouldn't have any dealings with me at all. He was just a tool. But... I had my secret weapon.

I had the stupidest joke in the world in my head. Whenever this DS Logan, or any of them really, would get to me, I'd think of this joke and just start laughing. Logan would always ask me, "Riggs! What's so damn funny?" I'd say, "DS! Why'd the bird go to the doctor?" He tell me to shut up and make me do push-ups or something. Finally, on graduation day, after the ceremonies were all over, he asked me, "All right, Riggs. Why'd the damn bird go to the damn doctor?" I said, very matter-of-factly, very simply, "He needed tweetment." DS Logan got real quiet... just stared at me. Then he shook his head, chuckled, told me I was sumpin' and said to get out of his face. That dumb ass joke got me through Basic Training.

Heh, heh, "tweetment", Ruth!

Friday, February 6, 2009

G is for Giving

I'm always amazed at the generosity of the knitting community. Someone has a birthday or a blogiversary and they give gifts instead of expecting to receive them. The amount of charity knitting around the web is profound. There are people who give up money and precious knitting time to speed knit a shawl for a wedding or a blanket for an approaching birth. Hell, kmkat alone has made more knitwear for preemies and Afghans then anyone I've ever seen! I think she's trying to make one for everyone in the world. If anyone can, she can!

I had a contest awhile ago that I'm severely overdue on handing out the prize. Sorry about that. The stars haven't lined up just right to get the numbers into a hat and get the boy to pull one.

I want to thank everyone who participated in T's class project. Traveling Trevor had the best time on his travels! He went to 3 places in Massachusetts, 2 places in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Arizona, Virginia, 3 places in California, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maine, Ohio, Kentucky, North Boston. He traveled over borders into Canada twice, and over oceans into Israel and New Zealand! He saw many wonderful things and learned quite a lot.

I made a scrapbook of the pictures and souvenirs and the places he went. It was a big hit in his class and I couldn't have done it without all of you!

Here's the winner of the contest......

RatBags Mom in New Zealand!

Now, I don't know if she actually knits. If not, then her prize will be a handknit hat/scarf set in her favorite color. If she chooses the handknits over the unknit skein of yarn, I'll have Trev pull another number tonight to see who gets the yarn.

Speaking of giving...
There's a raffle going on here. The prizes are outstanding! Give and give big. It's a great cause and I know how knitters love a great cause with great prizes! And give quickly, I think she's pulling the winners sometime btw now and Valentine's Day (which is just 8 days away!).

Giving a hand and a skein or two, Ruth!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

F is for Frog

It seems as though I've been doing more frogging then knitting this year. I made this hat for my brother and, as with most hats I make, I had to frog it because I'd made it ginormous. I got some Wool-Ease and didn't check Ravelry to see what number of stitches people were casting on for hats in Wool-Ease. I just relied on my clearly faulty math. The hat was huge even for my big-head husband.
So I ripped. And redid. It was actually a very good thing I redid it because my less-then-stellar fair isle skills made the first hat's skull look skinny and lumpy, more alien face then skull.
Here's how it came out the second time...

Modeled by my lovely husband...
Pattern: my own devising - CO 96, rib for a bit, knit 4 rows stockinette, do the skull chart from Debbie Stoller's Happy Hooker, knit 4 rows stockinette, do the spiral decreases from Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules book, BO, seam up the back.
Yarn: Wool-Ease in black and in gray.

I made a pair of Fetching's for my SP pal. No ripping here - yay!

I was designing a vest and hoped to have it finished for January entry for the Sweater-a-Month KAL . Sadly, after ripping and restarting 5 times it's still not looking the way I want it to so it's making yet another trip to the frog pond.
I had to use my cop-out already. Here's the Mason Dixon nightie I finished on October 2007. The only thing it needed was for me to sew on the straps. I couldn't find straps I liked so I ended up buying a cheap bra that had what I was looking for.
Please excuse the dorky look on my face and the excess weight on my bod...
Pattern: Mason-Dixon nightie
Yarn: Ornaghi Filati Gong
Not a lot of frogging with that project but my February project (and yes, kmkat, you were right, it's the February Lady Sweater), I've ripped it out at least once so far. I did the cast on and got to row 8, then ripped it out and started over. It's a top-down sweater, free pattern, and the raglan increases call for bar make-one's that don't leave little holes for the increases. BUT, if you look at the pictures, there's clearly holes along the raglan increases. I like the holes, they look pretty and decorative to me. So I ripped and started over, using YO increases to get the holes I wanted.
Whenever I have to frog something, I always grit my teeth and think, well... it's a good thing I love to knit because now I get to knit this again. sigh.
I also think of a bar near U of A in Tucson called Frog 'n Firkin. It's an English style pub and as I rip out the yarn, I say to myself, Frog 'n Firkin, Frog 'n Firkin. It almost sounds like cursing and it makes me laugh.
I'm a simple girl, Ruth!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

E is for Equality

Equality is something I often take for granted. When I was younger, particularly in high school, I always thought I was born in the wrong year. I loved old movies (still do) and the styles and perceived glamour of the 30's and 40's. I even used to wear my grandma's old skirt suits from that era. To school. The pillbox hats, too (although pillbox hats were more from the 50's, right?). I know - I'm a geek.

Now that I'm older, I see that I'm certainly born in the era I needed. And the country. I don't think I could've stood for someone telling me I couldn't do/say/wear something just because I was female. I also realize that if I was born in another time/place, not being able to do what I wanted wouldn't have occurred to me as being wrong. It just was the way it was.

Years ago, I read A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Still one of my all-time favorite books! I remember it scared the crap out of me. It's the story of how women in America have their rights taken from them. All their rights. And it's done slowly and subtly until before the women realize it, it's too late. They are relegated into very specific roles and some escape to Canada for freedom. I remember thinking how it was scary because it was so plausible. The main character in the book was angry with her man (and others) for letting this happen but she was also very angry with herself (and all women) for letting this happen.

It's a fantastic book. Don't waste your time with the movie, it sucked and didn't do the book any justice. At all. I lent that book out 4 years ago and never got it back. I need to buy a new one and read it again.

A couple of years ago, I read Reading Lolita in Tehran. A friend of mine who's actually from Tehran gave me a copy and confirmed that everything the author wrote about was dead on true. When I read RLIT, I remember thinking, "Holy shit! It's Handmaid's Tale... but for real!" Another fine book, RLIT is a bit dry here and there (nonfiction always tends to seem that way for me) but what struck me most was the fact that the women were so angry. At their men for letting these civil rights atrocities to occur and at themselves for the same reason. Tehran struck me as the mafia. The mafia says, "You have to pay us for protection." but what they mean is "You have to pay us for protection. Protection from US." It strikes the same sad ironic chord in me when I read about how the women in Tehran are treated. The men are saying, "We are just protecting you, for your own good." But the only thing the women need protection from is the way the men are treating them. If you ever want to read RLIT, I highly suggest reading Handmaid's Tale first.

So I ended 2008 with Roots. Blogged about it here. Fantastic, outstanding, stellar book!

I started 2009 with Queen. It, like that atrocity of a sequel to Gone With the Wind, was written by another author using the original authors notes. Fortunately, this author, David Stevens, did a fairly good sequel. In the afterword, Stevens, says he's often asked how much was written by him and how much by Roots author, Alex Haley. Stevens says he spent years working with Haley to create Queen. He mentions Haley's outline of what he wanted for Queen... it was a 700 page outline! The book Queen is only 670 pages!

As to the book Queen. It's pretty good. Not nearly as compelling as Roots. Roots focused on the characters, their families, the interaction of the families and what happened in their lives. Haley threw in some history here and there, things heard through the slave grapevine. The American history going on around them was entirely secondary to what was actually happening with the characters in the book and was salted in here and there more as a timeline perspective then anything else.

Queen went a different direction. Roots was the story of Haley's family on his father's side, Queen chronicled the story of the family on his mother's side. It wasn't nearly as compelling a read as Roots but still good enough that I finished 670 pages with a week of January to spare. Stevens, in his Afterword, acknowledges that Queen as it was published was not the story as Alex Haley would've written it and Stevens focused more on the American history side of the story.

It was fascinating, albeit a bit dry here and there. I often realize that I know so much more about history before I was born then the history I've lived through. Then I read a book like Queen and realize I don't know jack.

I can't believe how awful people can be. Throughout Roots and Queen, I keep thinking of how lucky I am to be born and live in this era. And to be born to the family I was, crazy as they are. Sadly, it never ceases to amaze me the capacity of cruelty that humans have. Even the "good Massas" were heartless bastards. I don't care what lies they convince themselves with, there's no getting around the fact that they are dealing with actual humans. Lies like Blacks have no souls; Blacks are livestock; Blacks aren't smart enough to learn. Truth is in actions. The slave holders often treated their livestock better then their slaves, refused to teach blacks anything and, in fact punished any slave known to be able to read or write.

I read these books mostly with my head shaking and my mouth agape at the way the plantation owners justified things to themselves and their peers. It was and is one of the biggest embarrassments in our nation's history.

This is truly an historic time we are living in. Our first Black president - how far we've come as a nation. And yet, how far we still have to go. Should be an interesting trip!

Freedom is so sweet, Ruth!

Monday, February 2, 2009

D is for Desperate

I have picked my next coupla sweaters I'd like to make. I even have the yarn to make both of them. Mostly.

I'm like a skein (maybe 2) short of one yarn and about 30 yards short the other. sigh.

I need one (maybe 2) skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Lite in Ocean Mix colorway (#4285 and the dye lot I have is 701 but I'm not all that concerned with dye lot).

I need a skein (or 30 yards-ish) of Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Carnelian colorway (#6256, also dye lot 701).

Also, I have an idea for some mittens I'm designing and am desperately looking for one (maybe 2 but definitely at least one ) skein(s) of Koigu P315. It's the KPPPPM koigu.

I've been lurking on Ravelry's destash group with no success. I have also contacted some other ravelers that have the stuff I need. Again, without success.

Also, it's not available locally as far as my phone calls to all the nearest yarn stores tells me and I'd rather pay shipping to some imaginary friends (the bloggers) then to stores far afield. Just sayin'.

Hey, how do you guys feel about this issue? My friend, K, says she finds it very irritating when strangers email her to ask if she's willing to give up something in her stash. She says if she was, she'd put it in the trade/sell part of her stash page. I say, I've asked people before if they'd give some yarn up if I needed it and some have been very willing to help! I feel it doesn't hurt to ask!

And I never ask them to just give it to me. Same here, if you guys have this stuff, I'll buy it off you! My email's on the left there under my face.

Lurking in your Ravelry stash, Ruth!

ETA: Someone on Ravelry is letting go of her Ultra Alpaca Light in Ocean Mix - yay!
Still seeking the Ultra Alpaca in Carnelian and the Koigu.....

4/28 I got the Koigu from my excellent SP13 partner! Still looking for the Carnelian Ultra Alpaca....