Monday, February 26, 2007

House Guests

Is “hippy” a derogatory adjective? Is it a negative thing, for example, to say, “Sorry I haven’t written for awhile, our hippy friends were visiting?”

I personally don’t think of it as a character slam to call someone a hippy. People call David and me hippies with ever increasing regularity. Remember this?

That’s pretty hippy, no? I wear that to work not even as the poncho it is meant to be but as a skirt!

I have noticed, however, that I refer to these folks as “the hippies” .

But only to others.
For example, I don’t say, “hello hippies! Great to see you!” when I they come for a visit.
So maybe I do think it’s offensive.

What exactly is a “hippy”? Let’s do a little research, shall we…

When I asked Jeeves, he sent me here. I have to admit that I got lost in Hippyland, and didn’t really find a simple definition – although the general topics of anti-war, vegetarianism, peace and love seemed present.

So I went to Wickipedia where they told me this:

“Inheriting a tradition of cultural dissent from the bohemians and the beatniks, hippies rebelled against established institutions, criticised middle class values, opposed the Vietnam War, embraced aspects of non-Judeo-Christian religions, promoted sexual liberation, and created intentional communities, leading some to describe hippies as a new religious movement”,

They also told me this:

“Hippies were against "political and social orthodoxy", choosing a "gentle and nondoctrinaire" politics that favoured "peace, love, and personal freedom."
[8]. [9] They perceived the dominant culture as a corrupt, monolithic entity that exercised undue power over their lives [10] , calling this culture "The Establishment," "Big Brother," or "The Man." [11] Hippie opposition to the Establishment spread around the world through a fusion of early rock, folk, blues and psychedelic rock, with the dramatic arts and the visual arts in tow.”
Well, having found this information, I have to say that it is really only one aspect of pals Dina and Robert that have earned them the title “the hippies” in my mind – intentional community.* Yep, these funny, interesting and clever people lived for 30 years on a commune before they began their adventures here in Italy. Even if they were carnivorous, born-again stock brokers who contribute to both Democratic and Republican campaigns to make sure that their business interests were covered after the next election (which they are not and do not ANY of those things), 30 years on a commune gets you citizenship in hippyland with psychedelic speed by my definition, man.

So… sorry I haven’t written for a while. Our hippy friends were visiting.

In addition to Dina and Robert, we were treated by a few days with this swell gal.

She’s an aussie and look what she brought us!!!! Actually she was just carrying it around in her purse (do all Australians do that? I’ll have to ask Jeeves). But when the hippies (all 4 of us) admitted that we’d never tried it (and were actually a little afraid of it) she quickly rectified this situation.

Yum yum.

And, look how cool it looks on the shelf.

In case you were wondering, I’ve only gotten this far on the scarf.
Is it taking me a ridiculously long time to knit a simple scarf because I am insanely bored by it or can I blame the hippies?

*I had actually never heard the term “intentional community” before meeting Dina and Robert and therefore can not tell you if it is a synonym for “commune”, just the H.C. (hippy-correct) term, or something completely different.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I’m convinced that the world would have millions more knitters amongst its population if there wasn’t the totally false (and actually evil) knitting myth that the first project one must knit is a scarf. Scarves suck to knit. They are straight, boring, and long. You go back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth, and then you do it some more.

Just think of the mountains of hand-knit garments that never got a chance because some new knitter thought that they “had better start with a scarf”. They erroneously made the connection KNITTING=BORING, when what they were really experiencing was SCARF=BORING. What a loss. Let’s have a moment of silence for the hoards of knitters prematurely aborted by scarf boredom.

I, myself almost fell victim to this terrible fate but was, thankfully, saved by a knitting sage. I was in a shop in Denver called Sky Loom Fibers – an amazing place that, unfortunately no longer exists. The shop was a smorgasbord of colors and textures. After a visit to Sky Loom I would have to just sit on the couch and stare at the wall for a couple hours because my imagination had been stretched to snapping point. So I was at Sky Loom browsing their knitting books and I feel in love with this one.

The shop keeper came over to me and asked if I needed some help finding the yarn to go with one of the patterns in the book that I was drooling all over. I told her I had never knit a stitch in my life, “so I should probably start with a scarf or something a little easier.” Ya know what this wise wise knitter said to me? “Why would you knit a scarf if you want a sweater?”

She saved me. I can cry at the thought of how close I came to wandering through this life knitless. Just imagine if she had said, “Yes, of course you’re right. You need to start with a garter stitch scarf – all knitting you don’t even have to purl. Here is a nice skein of pastel green acrylic yarn, perfect for a starter project because it’s cheap. You wouldn’t want to ruin that beautiful Rowan Tweed that you are fondling on a first project.” That would have been the end. I would have cast on the scarf, knit about 5 rows, then put it in a drawer forever. One knitter bored to death before she even got to purl.

So, you may wonder why I am currently working on this:

It’s Rowan’s fault. They faked me out. Look at that photo. Doesn’t it look like the most interesting scarf to knit…what with all those tricky stitches and lacey-like stuff? Yeah, I thought so too. It’s a fake-out.

The trickiest stitch is a yarn over. All that fun lacey stuff is a little border that you knit after you do the 100cm of the boring part.

I really want the scarf so I’m going to tough it out and finish. And then swear off scarves for the 100th time in my knitting life.

I’m bribing myself to keep at it by taking “boRING breaks” during which I make more of these.

Is it just me or does this ring smack of Willy Wonka’s 7-course-meal bubble gum that proved the undoing of poor Veruca Salt?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Pate - Maberga style

Frequently, on a Saturday or a Sunday David gets a call from Franco. He’s calling from about 100 meters up the road at his campagna.

Campagna doesn’t really have an English translation as far as I can’s kind of a cross between an Italian’s country house, weekend house, gentleman’s farm. What it looks like is lots of stalls with animals (raised for their contributions to the dinner table), a bit of land that has amazing vegetable gardens, fruit and olive trees, and a little one or two room house/shack with a kitchen. What a campagna really is is a fort for the Italian guys to play at every weekend. They build things, dig in the dirt, collect big tools, and hangout with each other. I can’t think of an American culture equivalent. Perhaps if there were one the divorce rate in the US wouldn’t be so high.

As much of a champ as Franco’s wife, Lisa, is about most everything, she draws the line at spending time in campagna. She only comes up here if there is some job to be done like making bread, slaughtering a pig, the cherry or olive harvest, or if they are hosting a dinner for 20. So, as I was saying, David gets frequent calls from Franco when he’s wanting a little company at his fort. “Can David come out and play?” He doesn’t really say that, but that’s the gist of it. Sometimes I’m invited too. I’m a bit of a novelty to the guys around here in that, unlike their wives, I LIKE the country way of life, I don’t usually turn down a glass of wine, and I don’t feel tied to a mountain of ironing on a Saturday afternoon.

Another part of a visit to Franco’s is the grocery sack of “goodies” that he insists that you take home. Goodie sacks in the past have contained: bottles of wine, freshly hunted porcini, homemade cheese and salami, chestnuts, peppers, eggplants, fava beans, cherries, tomatoes, chili peppers.

So, when David and Franco stumbled into our kitchen last Sunday after an afternoon at Franco’s campagna, the grocery bag and bottle of wine weren’t that surprising. The freshly picked cabbage was huge and beautiful. The recently cured (and slightly smoked) salami was really delicious, as was the sweet white wine that we “had to drink immediately”. I was, however, taken a little aback when Franco said that he brought me some patè. Franco has never really struck me as a patè kind of a guy.

Franco: It’s patè. Patè! Look. Just spread it on some bread, it’s terrific.

Lynn: Hmm. Patè of what?

David: (jumping into save a potentially insulting situation) Well, patè of PIG, of course, honey.

Franco: It’s pig…pig patè.

Yes, of course it is. Pig patè – Maberga Style.

As you may recall, after last year’s pig slaughter season we were gifted some “geletino”. Now, don’t confuse pig jello and pig patè. Trust me, they are two different things. I couldn’t really tell you what either of them is but they are different.

As recommended (and insisted upon) by Franco while we were drinking sweet wine and eating smoked salami, we spread some patè on bread and ate it. I still can’t tell you what it is. I can tell you, though, that I have not repeated that culinary experience. The taste was pretty good but the texture, well...have a look:

Any of you readers who are more knowledgeable than David or I are in: 1. pig slaughters, 2. patès, 3. general pig by-products, or 4. southern Italian culture and food stuffs, please write a comment. Enlighten us as to just what we were given. For example, was it a big no-no that David smeared pig patè all over a chicken we roasted last night?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

So, I got my first book rejection this morning with my coffee. The email was brief and direct, one sentence…a little like a single bullet to the brain, or maybe the heart.

But, to quote Monty Python’s Holy Grail, “I’m not dead yet!”

I promptly did what all budding authors do:

I gave myself a manicure,

made myself some festive beaded rings,

and gave that rejection email the bird.

Speaking of festive…today is step-son Graham’s birthday.

Have a great one, Spammy!

Note the knitted GEEK headband - he made it himself, I'm so proud!!!

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I’ve been working on my PMA lately. That would be “positive mental attitude” . (In case you were wondering, although PMA sounds like PMS, they are really two very different things and are related only in their timing – one being impossible to achieve whilst experiencing the other.)

I’ve been reflecting some on how my perspective on any given situation can completely transform said situation into something positive. Some examples:

Negative: “shit, my wine glass is half empty.”
Positive: “cool, I have a half a glass of wine!”

Negative: “shit, it’s raining in my studio.”
Positive: “cool, I needed to wash the floor in my studio. Grab me a rag!”

Negative: “shit. Q had diarrhea in the backseat of the car.”
Positive: “cool. What a great excuse for you to clean the car, David Honey!”

The other morning when I got up on the wrong side of the bed, after surviving a wrestling match between the dogs on the bed which woke me prematurely and I found 17 dog pees and poops on my way to the kitchen, I felt I was being given a pop quiz - the PMA mid-term.

Am I really able to convince myself of some polly-anna crap like this?:

“oh cool, now that I am up at the crack of dawn when I really wanted to sleep in I can watch the sunrise. How fortunate that the dogs woke me by jumping on my head!”


“What an opportunity to wash all the floors first thing in the morning, before I am even able to have my coffee. Cool, then I won’t have to do them later. Great! How lucky I am.”

Nope. I tried it but then a string of four letter (and a couple 7 letter) words started flying out of my mouth. Welcome back, my old pal Cynicism. Just as I was ready to give myself a big ol’ F on the PMA exam, having convinced myself (with very little effort, by the way) that the day was a write-off, Ruff tossed one of his lemons to me.

No, the dog is not some kind of Obe Wan or Mr. Miyagi (aka: Karate Kid coach) offering life lessons through metaphor and symbolism. He doesn’t like to play with balls but can retrieve a lemon with the best of 'em. He was not trying to suggest that I think about lemons and lemonade. He was telling me that it was time to go out and play. All the same, I got the message.
So I guess what I'm saying here is when the dog tosses you a lemon, go out and play catch.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mental note to self:

Never never never again knit anything for a non-knitter. Never.

Those of you knitters out there, you understand. In fact, many of you have told me over the years this gem of wisdom, but I ignored it. Now, after being slammed for the last time (by my husband!), I have learned. Call me slow.

You non-knitters…let me explain.

I found these sitting on top of the washing machine yesterday.

Remember these socks? The ones that I gutted it out so as to actually finish the second one so my dear husband could have feet warmed with my love stitched into some alpaca. Remember?

Perhaps you, in this non-knitter group don’t really see a problem. Let me help you…

Get it now? Yep, he took my alpaca stitched love and, without a thought, tossed them in the washing machine.
If I had wanted to felt my love, I would have done so.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hi all, It's been a while. Sorry about that. I've been knitting. Really. I've been knitting and, like, not just for fun! Ok. Knitting is always fun. No, really it's not always fun when you have to do like 3 meters in st st and the same color. But I wasn't doing anything like that here.

Remember, I told you about that book are a couple of sneak previews....

By the way, don't tell anyone about these ideas...they are going into books.

There are some socks too...

Other than all this knitting, we have been entertaining these funny people....or rather, letting them entertain us.