and sloe gin fizz

May 26, 2012

my original goal was to blog every day
while i was in the greater portland area.

i also promise myself i’m going to eat better and exercise.

let’s get real for a moment,
and see if i can tell you about my trip.

hmm . . .

day one was a beach adventure/excursion/extravaganza,
a sunny day of photography, sandy toes, and general irreverence.
and of course what day at the beach is complete
without a dead sea lion in a front loader?(sea corpse has a very distinct scent)

i spent the day with tina and her two lovely daughters
who reminded me that teenagers are really just adults
with fewer miles under their belt.
(is that a mixed metaphor?)

when we returned,
i met tina’s other children:
apparently, chickens love to eat kale.
who knew?

the rest of my days were a blur of
cats
rain
cheese
wildlife
gardening
cozy fires
and knitting.

i managed to finish up my spruce forest shawl,
and the rain gave way just long enough for a photoshoot.
i even found a couple models to zhoosh up the shot.
the yarn is marine silk sport in the ‘spruced’ color way.
i’ve given up trying to photograph the true color of this yarn;
the silk content and sea cell make it impossible for an amateur like me.
what i love about this color way is that the dye breaks at some point in the process, leaving patches of blue and yellow in the yarn. this process is apparently unpredictable, and therefore the color way has been discontinued. blue moon will, of course, make it upon request. i highly recommend it, especially in this yarn. just make sure to get it all at once if you want your skeins to be at all similar.

this shawl is beautiful when finished,
but the beauty is matched by it’s fussiness.
i do not care for nupp-knitting,
or the bottom up construction.
it was, however, worth it;
the results speak for themselves.

with one shawl completed,
i decided to dust off my shetland tea shawl.
it was the first lace project i ever cast on
and will soon celebrate its third birthday!
i can’t abide its w.i.p. status any longer.
so i grabbed a cat and got to work.
the cat was really there for moral support.
she’s not good for much else.

but even with the support of a cat
i could barely complete a round a day.
those last few rounds have so. many. stitches!

knitting all those stitches
i became hyper aware of the silence,
the sound of the rain falling on the deck,
heck, i could even hear the humming birds at the bird feeder!
apparently, i must’ve had a crazed look in my eye or something
because tina could tell i was getting a little stir crazy.
so she put me to work in the barn.

i learned a heck of a lot in there,
most of which i can’t tell you.
what i can tell you is
it’s fucking hard work.
i can almost guarantee none of you realize how much work actually goes into the whole process, unless maybe you’ve worked in a factory. i worked about a half shift and i was pooped.
it’s basically a yarny sweatshop in there.
(literally. it’s hot in the barn)

that little bit of work really helped me to appreciate just how special hand painted yarns are. we’re lucky to knit in a time when we have easy access to such beautiful yarns. i would much rather give my money to people who are working their asses off to make something unique and special. i know exactly where my money’s going and, to me, it’s worth the cost. but that’s just me.

luckily,
the next day
i got to play instead of work
and dyed all these rare gems.
it pays to know the lady with a barn.

we ended my visit with a binge at gino’s.
if you live in or around portland,
you must go to gino’s
the tiramisu alone is worth it.
we chose gino’s because deb accuardi owns it and also works at blue moon.
she’s an amazing cook, knows a heck of a lot about gardening,
and had been cracking my ass up all week.
seriously,
if you meet her,
ask her about her salamander story.
i almost peed in the car when she told it.
(i want that tiramisu recipe deb. stat!)

i think that just about covers it.

i survived an epically turbulent flight,
swung by my parents house to pick up mr. mo,
and am thoroughly ensconced in my apartment . . .

. . .asking myself why i don’t live in portland.

first, allow me to clarify my last post:
my dad had some surgery.
it went well.
he’s home now.
it may have been a little mean
casually mentioning i was in a hospital
but wasn’t it a good suspense builder?

currently, i’m headed off to a reclusive week in oregon;
my exact whereabouts are known by a select few.
more on that later as things develop.
but i can’t go off on one trip
before i fill you in on my last one.

one of my dearest friends in the world, caroline,
got married last weekend on the outskirts of chicago.
frankly, weddings and marriage aren’t really my thing,
but she’s one of those friends where not attending was unthinkable.
there are few people in my life that i can say i have been friends with for more than a decade; caroline is one of them.

veronica went as my date,
and i’m really glad i brought her along.
because as soon as i saw caroline in the church,
standing in her wedding gown, ready to walk down that aisle,
i fucking lost it.

seriously.

i cried.

it was a quiet, dignified cry,
but i cried in public nevertheless.
it didn’t help that care was crying as well,
but i really can’t explain why, exactly, i cried.
i couldn’t tell you why if my life depended on it.
but it did.

luckily the priest started talking,
and his spiel about god and love
turned my tears to a frown.
still,
it’s odd that,
however uncatholic i’ve become,
i remain catholic nonetheless.

for instance.

even though i thought most everything the priest said was some strightup bullshit, i was totally pissed at the people in front of me who were chewing gum, irritated by the fact that we don’t kneel anymore apparently, and baffled by the new ‘version’ of the mass.

how can i care about stuff like that
when i find the content of the situation to be . . . unpalatable?

i digress.

the important thing
is that there was something special about being there to witness an event that was meaningful to one of my best friends.
i feel really lucky to have been there.
plus i looked totally fly.

as for the rest of my trip to chicago . . .
it would take too long to tell you everything.
instead, i give these two photos:
i think that about sums it up.

see you in portland, bitches!
p.s. i’m publishing this on a plane! my broad-ass shoulders may be crammed between into the middle seat, but wifi at 34000ft makes life worth living!

pilgrimage

March 25, 2012

depending on which side of the family tree you look at,
i’m either fifth or sixth generation michigander.
i’m also the first generation
not to grow up in detroit.

my family emigrated from ireland and settled in detroit
and did all those big life things in the motor city:
work
school
marriage
death
burial (i discovered our family plot)
all with a particular irish catholic flare.
my grandmother’s grandfather was chief of police.
my grandfather’s grandfather built a house there for a staggering sum.
(though that might be the german side. not as popular in the family lore)
last time we checked, someone’s still living in it.

the same feeling that made me weep when i found my ancestral knock in co. kerry i often feel when i go to detroit.
getting to know detroit
makes me feel closer to my family history.
it may be silly or illogical or whatever,
but it’s something i enjoy doing.

this saturday,
i was lucky enough to make it to john k. king used and rare books.
(sorry for the photo quality. clouds + iphone + no photoshop = reality)

the connection to my knitting blog?it used to be a glove factory!
though, i think they may have been sewn,
not knitted.

still,
walking around a factory
that purports to have 1,000,000 books. . .
overwhelming just isn’t a big enough word.
being there ignited the hoarder within
and i left with more books that i need.

while i doubt any of my family members went there
it’s still a really cool piece of detroit history.
and now, it’s part of mine.

i got a package today.
yes another one.
(i’ve considered changing the blog to ‘bitches get packages’)

but this one didn’t arrive at my doorstep, oh no.
i had to track this bitch down.
stupid post office put that little brown sheet in my mailbox
the one that tells you you have to pick it up, you know?
but it was tucked against the front
so i didn’t see it for 2 days!

so i hauled my ass to ass nowhere lansing
where the post office was holding it hostage.
i handed over the brown paper
and my passport which elicited a
“what in the hell is this?” from the postal worker.
apparently she’d never seen a passport before.

then it took a manager to find my package,
because someone had checked the wrong box or something.

wanna know where it was?
right freakin’ next to the worker bee.

seriously.

if she had reached 3 feet to her right,
she would have touched it.

*sigh*

in any case,
i have it now.
the package that is.
wanna know what it was?
rockin’ sock club, bitches!

now, lest you think me an unfrugal grad student,
this membership is courtesy of an anonymous sugar mama/daddy.
that’s right. someone made a generous donation to the bitches get stitches happiness fund in the form of a rockin’ sock club gift card.
i’m one lucky son of a bitch.

while i actually think that rockin’ sock club is underpriced, especially if you compare it to what you get from other clubs. my guess is tina does it on purpose so more people can afford to be in the club.
she’s cool like that.

(seriously, have you checked out other yarn clubs? crazy pricey!)

still, it’s always been just out of my budget.
don’t get me wrong. i’ve dropped some dough on yarn in my time,
but generally, i’m a layaway guy when it comes to big yarn purchases.
(excluding, of course, fiber festivals or travel. that’s what debt is for)
and because i’m not really a sock knitter,
i’ve never been able to justify sock club.
luckily, i don’t have to!

[insert mental .gif of me doing a salacious victory/booty dance]

it’s the little things.
i plan to treat myself today with a cup of tea and the dyer’s notes.
i think the blue mooners would want it that way.

ps what should i knit with this?

have i mentioned

January 10, 2012

how much i love getting packages?
because i really, really do.

back around my birthday,
when i was in new york turning twenty seven,
a package was sent to my old pittsburgh address.
(this happens when someone moves as often as i do)
it was from blue moon fiber arts.

generally speaking, i know when a package is coming from blue moon
because, generally speaking, i’ve placed an order with them.
not so in this case.

(i think i remember getting a little aroused)

luckily, veronica still lives at the old abode.
i knew it was going to be a while before it was sent on to me,
since, with all the holidays, veronica wasn’t there to forward it.

yesterday, it finally arrived on my stoop. i may have squeed.
(note: can you imagine being me, knowing you have a package, and then having to wait for three whole weeks to get it? brutal)

then i thought of the blog, as i often do.
i thought, this is totally blog worthy; it must be blogged.
(i have so little material these days)
but it was dark out when i got home
and therefore i couldn’t take a good photo.

so i waited.

yes people, i waited until the sun came up so i could properly document the moment and share it with you all.
i believe this shows some growth on my part.

so when the sun shone through my windows,
i went to work.
yarn!
a skein of twisted in ‘grawk’
and a skein of mopsy in ‘pining for ewe’

(i need to ask frankie for a refresher on how to shoot true colors)

regardless, these colors are perfect.
you can never go wrong giving me a green,
but this deep purpley blue has this acid yellow on the back
that just. kills me.

the crazy thing is i’ve been planning my rhinebeck sweater
(yes i know rhinebeck is in october, but i will not fail this year)
and i wanted to try knitting some mopsy for it.
it seems like it might be meant to be.

but i kinda don’t want to knit this yarn.
it might go into the precious ‘keep forever’ section of the stash.
we shall see.

the card is unsigned,
but the sender has the handwriting of a serial killer.
that can only mean it came from one person.

thanks santina!

edit: i just looked up the description for grawk – raspberries in pond scum drowned in black. loud and just a wee bit obnoxious. attention is what he craves and he will get it. from the primordial ooze, he has risen to wreak a bit of havoc. trickster? definitely! hmmm

the persistent desire

December 16, 2011

i’m no buddhist.
by which i mean,
i thoroughly enjoy
and revel in
desire.

i desire desire,
in all its many forms:
food
drink
sex
knitting
everything.

an unfortunate combination of events meant i would not be able to do anything fun to honor my epic 27th birthday.
(it has special meaning for me)

my longing was all the more poignant because
veronica, my best friend in all the world
and former bitches get stitches model,
would be in new york city,
and had been pleading
with me to come too.

it wasn’t going to happen.

instead, my birthday would entail
a half-bottle of whiskey and blog post
enumerating the many things i want to have,
from extravagant designer leather goods
to a smile from the cute phd student
in the college of ______.
(i need some secrets)

languishing in pre-birthday despair,
i looked at all the $700 flights to nyc,
wishing somehow i would find a grand
tucked in my the crannies of my couch.

then, a miracle. the heavens opened up,
and the expedia.com gods’ light shone down
on poor, wayward graduate student, steven a.,
offering me a round trip flight to nyc for $160.

to any of my peeps in the nyc,
my stay there will be brief.
so let’s coordinate a time
for us to meet up so you
can give me my presents.

happy birthday to me, bitches!

reunited

September 5, 2011

and it feels so good!

a daylight search found mo trapped on our property. he is a little guy after all, and country life can be perilous for a city pup. when i came upon him, he was just lying there calmly, waiting to be rescued. when he saw me, he gave me eyes that said, “ok you’re here now. take me home.” after a few rounds around the house at lightning speed, he is now sleeping happily at my feet.

thank you all for your prayers and well wishes.
not only did it provide extreme comfort when i felt alone,
i have to believe that somehow they brought us back together.

xoxo

steven

August 9, 2011

i’ve moved around quite a bit in my adult life,
and i’ve found the most important thing to do
is immediately set out into the world
and find some places to call you own.

having done my undergrad at michigan state,
i already have a couple places where i feel comfortable,
places that make me forget for a few hours that
school starts in less than three weeks.
in less than three weeks,
i will be teaching,
shaping the minds of american youth.
this gives me less than three weeks to get all the nervous vomiting out of my system. (pray for my esophagus).

the other day,
to counteract my nausea,
i thought it best to suck in some yarn fumes,
and maybe see what the weaving class schedule was like at woven art.
there are a few other yarn stores in the lansing area,
most of which are closer to me than woven art.
i’ve scoped them out in prior visits,
felt their vibes and,
for all kinds of reasons,
it’s clear this is my new lys.

of course i wasn’t really prepared for the fact that they “know me from the blog”, and nancy welcomed me back to the area with a hug.
i’m very fragile right now, and that kind of gesture meant a lot.
it’s nice a nice feeling to be immediately welcomed,
to know someone wants you to be here.
thanks nancy (and meg!)

then nancy really shocked me by asking me if i’d like to teach.

you have to be kidding me!
of course i wanted to teach!
and so very shortly i’ll be offering classes at woven art,
easing myself in with some beginning knitting until i get my bearings.

they already wrote lovely blurb about me in their most recent newsletter to which you should subscribe.

why look at that!
my nausea is back.

we do what we must . . .

August 6, 2011

a long time ago,
a mason from ireland left
and came to the united states.
he briefly settled in brooklyn, married
a woman who’s name has been lost,
and upon having a son, john,
finally settled in corktown,
detroit’s oldest neighborhood.

this man was named stephen martin,
my great great great grandfather.

upon my birth,
my mother decided to give me his name,
tying me forever to a man without whom
i would never have made it here.

but in what can only be called the metaphor of my existence,
she misspelled it.
and so my ancestor’s name,
already anglicized from the irish,
had now been americanized
in a city once owned by the french.

i’ve often heard that there’s a lot of power in a name.
and this misspelling, i now feel, was a kind of curse.
nothing i seem to do ever follows a proper path;
everything must have an accidental twist,
one based on false certainty.

what this has meant for me is that,
while my life won’t ever be what one’s should,
it has been one that i wouldn’t change anything about.
not one thing.

would i trade finding the “knock” my family left behind in county kerry,
or petting a panda bear while he at an apple in chengdu,
or walking the early morning streets of paris at christmastime,
or burning in the himalayan sunshine outside the potala palace,
or a shockingly thorough olive oil massage from a burly greek woman on the coast of santorini for
a mortgage?
a wedding ring?
financial security?
approval?

i can’t say as i would.

but i have often wondered
if marching to the beat of my own disco
means i won’t get the chance to pass along a name,
misspelled or otherwise, if,
in twenty years time,
i’d regret not
being more
normal.

sometimes i wonder if passing on a name is important to me,
or important enough to me.
i’m not sure, but
i wonder.

in what can only be considered the craziest of signs,
it turns out that my name will live on,
just not in the usual form.
(bien sur)

and so here we meet little steven ambrose (jr)
a baby alpaca, born on august 5th, 2011.
he’s sure to spend many a happy day with sally of rivendale farms,
who you may recognize from the comments.

that email was a solar flare during a starless moment for me.
you’re timing couldn’t have been more impeccable.
thanks sally.

of course,
i’m allergic to alpacas.

this is my life.

farewell pittsburgh

August 4, 2011

the movers are coming today,
and it’s all i can do to keep from collapsing.
leaving you, pittsburgh, . . . it feels like
. . .i’m dying in a way.

i feel like i do at funerals,
like my legs could buckle at any moment,
like my heart needs to be closer to the earth.

i’ve never been in love before and
it’s crazy that my first time would be you,
a city, the steel city.

you made me laugh constantly,
shared with me all your secrets,
tucked me in on so many nights
with a smooch and a smile.

you were nothing but good to me.
i can never repay all your kindnesses.

at the same time,
it wasn’t enough.
or not fast enough
for me to realize
this is it!
you were the one.

it’s my fault
we didn’t work out.
i should’ve done more
to maintain your affections.
by the time i knew it was you
i wanted, you’d stiffened,
and i was being pulled away.

i could’ve done more to be with you, but i didn’t.
i was disloyal
and untrue.

leaving is the only choice i have left.

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i’ve never been in love before
so i didn’t recognize the signs.
you and yours snuck up on me,
and my only wish is that i could stay
somehow.

i know we’ll always be friends,
that i’ll see you now and then,
that this isn’t a forever goodbye.
but i’ll never have you like i did before.
we’ll never be as close as we once were.
nothing has ever hurt me more than that.

i love you, buddy.

i’ll miss you.

you were my home.

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