A long week

As the title suggests it’s been a long week for me and I didn’t get much done. I did however start sewing together the squares for an afghan I started 2 years ago. Yes TWO years ago. I started it so that it would match my new sofa which, is of course no longer new and do to my one horrible dog worse for the wear since I agreed to bring her home. The colors do still match though it’s just that sewing them together is so tedious and boring…

It of course has to be kept in a chest when I’m not in the room with it lest the evil dog puke on it because I am paying more attention to it than her. I know that no one ever believes me when I say that the vindictive bitch vomits to get attention but it’s true. Hence the reason so little work has been accomplished this week.  After spending hours Wednesday night cleaning and sobbing I decided to turn her in to the local animal shelter in hopes that someone would want to make her the center of their universe. However after discussion with the intake advisor it seemed as though they would probably put her down since she is unable to walk past other dogs on leashes. So I brought her back home and started a new project- I failed to take before pictures but, I will take progress pics as work on it continues. What is ‘it’ you ask? It will be a room in my basement specifically made for the evil one. This week I patched and leveled the concrete floor and consolidated the laundry, garden, and summer furniture sections. While I was down there I realized that the porch furniture never got reupholstered as planned so hopefully I will get that done soon too- Punxy Phil says spring is just around the corner.

It was also a slow week at the salon which always makes my head spin since I have to spend so much time working alone. Of course I can’t post pics of the work I did while I was there since it is baby shower gifts.  I got one gift done while I was at the movies seeing Argo: argo trailer(hopefully this link works, it’s a 1st try). An excellent movie which continually builds suspense but, apparently if you were alive and cognitive in 1980 it ends with no climax. I found it a bit tedious and can’t really say I would recommend seeing it in the theater and I also don’t see it winning over Lincoln for best picture.

Anyway, needlework wise I needed something a bit less intensive and easier to see due to the high stress levels that came with this week. I know I said I wasn’t going to start any new projects until the ones that are sitting in the craft room are done but, I fell of the wagon. I started a quick and simple Kokeshi doll picture. I added some sparkle to liven it up a bit and watched Hugo. I worked on it a bit last night while my bread was finishing baking. I hate being in the house during that last hour when the whole house smells delectable. Then a bit more tonight while I made my soup for dinner while I’m at work this week. I hope the sparkle shows up, I only wanted it as an accent but I’m unsure if I chose the right amount to make the design pop. I feel like it doesn’t show up at all in the photos.


The first is a close-up which I thought would look good but I found it’s appearance blurry. The second is just a normal non zoomed in photo, same amount of stitching.  I’m going to turn her into an e-reader case when I’m done stitching. I feel as though I haven’t seen my sewing machine in forever even though it’s been a mere week. Hopefully I’ll get more done this week while anxiously await news from two different sources.

Almost a month down!

So I have been working on the girl on the swing picture this week, despite Sabrina’s vote for the “sparkle horse”. I didn’t see the note till late and had already pulled out the necessities for the first picture. It is coming along nicely despite being a lot of small detail work. I thought I would take a picture at the end of every session so that I could see its progression a bit better.


So, despite that fact that my photography skills aren’t all to brilliant I have to say I enjoy seeing it in steps. I have a few other projects going, including a chemo robe for a friend that, well honestly I am struggling with due to the fact that I never learned to properly read a sewing pattern. It is coming along though, just not as swiftly as I would like it to. Knitting wise I also have a few projects going. I saw Lincoln (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443272/) and The Impossible (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1649419/)  yesterday afternoon which gave me a ton of time to work on them. Both movies were excellent, and I have to say if I didn’t know Daniel Day-Lewis was in Lincoln I never would have known. The man is shear brilliance and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he received an oscar for his performance or if the movie it’s self wins overall. The Impossible was by far the more gut wrenching movie for me. My mother and I disputed it for a while before we agreed to disagree. Naomi Watts gave what I can only describe as an emotionally saturated, horrific, and amazing performance as a mother whose family is torn apart by the tsunami in 2004. It is a true story and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone so I will simply say go and see it- any movie that can make me want to cry, vomit, and illicit other emotions from me is well worth your $6.00. Unless you have a weak stomach,then I must warn you there are some rough scenes, some of which are apparently real footage from the actual devastation others just extremely well done by a make-up and effects department. Disappointingly I can’t put up any photos of what I am working on while watching movies because they are all gifts- I swear everyone I know is getting married or having a baby this year. I’m not sure who all reads this but, I don’t want any early surprises about the gifts so it’s just better if I don’t put up any photos at all. Sorry, and I promise as I give them away I will post photos for all to see!


So I haven’t seen any movies which, I know usually accompany my weekly blog but I was so excited that I finished 2 items this week that I had to post! The first item was a super quick, super cute little kleenex box cover.

Of course, I do realize that christmas is over but I thought this pattern was cute and have been looking for something to stitch on this cover FOREVER.  The second finished item was the Scandanavian heart tree you all have been watching me work on forever now. Well, at least the last few weeks I should say. It came out absolutely gorgeous and I’m not sure how to finish it. I was thinking of building a custom frame for it but, I’m not sure. Maybe I should make it into a pillow. Any opinions from anyone? Is there even anyone reading ?

The new project is yet to be determined but I’m thinking of finishing “Touching the Autumn Sky” from Mirabilia. It was a beautiful design with a little girl on a swing with leaves falling around her. I ordered a hand dyed piece of fabric for it so it seems like it would be a good option. However I also have a partially finished carousel horse/ zebra that might be a bit more fun as I was adding sparkle thread and a ton of beads to it…                                


One week down

Bit of a slow week this time a round. I have had bronchitis and while I thought I would get a good bit of work done I really didn’t. I had especially hoped to have finished the scandanavian heart tree. No such luck though I only got the blues started on it.

I do have intentions of finishing it by the time I go back to work on Monday.  I have to say putting the blue in has been a real treat. It has been such a simple pattern but so enjoyable to stitch. Usually simpler designs bore me and the finished project isn’t something I would normally keep. While this one is for sale it will be welcome to stay in my home till it finds a new one.

Last week I went to a matinee showing of Promised Land, http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/focus_features/promisedland/ , with Matt Damon and Jon Krasinski. I don’t really care for Mr. Damon, I always think of that crazy animated version of him in Team America, but he was excellent in this film. I don’t watch the Office either so Mr. Krasinski  was new to me but, he was also outstanding. While I let the movie confirm my views on natural gas drilling and large corporations I whipped out a soft, fluffy, and warm, dare I forget warm, mohair scarf. Hand dyed at a local farm it had caught my eye for another project, what exactly I don’t remember so it seemed logical to turn it into a scarf.

The movie was longer than I expected so I managed to finish it up right when the punchy twist was hitting the screen. I hate to say “spoiler alert” so I’ll just tell you to go see it, you might learn something and not even realize it!

I did manage to start a new black/white/grey boucle number earlier today when I went to see Ganster Squad, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqKnD-g9QhY. But I didn’t get to far, somewhere between Ryan Gosling being the unruly yet debonaire hero with a gun and the excessive shooting and explosions I got lost. This one I won’t tell you to go see unless you’re looking for something mind- numbing. Oh, and if you don’t get the Shylock comment you might want to pick up a book and learn to read.

The first few projects

As I started off this week I figured I should start small. Look for simple projects and things that were at least 3 quarters of the way done already. Of course things are always easier said than done. I did however find a beautiful piece of cross stitch with a bit of a red scandinavian heart tree on it. The pattern was black and white but as I gathered the thread for it I realized it was only reds and blues. I began work and soon came up with the idea of putting all the warm(red) color in first.

The first week of work with only the warm colors stitched.

The colors are so simple but what really caught my eye, and kept my interest, about this project was the symmetry. I’m usually known for stitching only large, elaborate, and mostly Santa pictures so this was a nice change of pace for me. I can’t wait to see how the balance shifts as I stitch the cool blue tones onto it in the coming week.

Also this week I had a few small knitting projects. For those of you who don’t know me I have a severe problem sitting still. I can’t JUST sit and watch t.v., or read a book, or watch a movie. I get antsy and my brain starts to spin  and before I know it my leg is tapping, I’m thinking of something else entirely and I’m just over all fidgety and distracted.  So, this week I went to see a few movies. Django Unchained, and absolutely awesome Tarentino western that I do recommend if you aren’t easily offended and can sit for a good 3 hours. Seriously, it was longer than The Hobbit. From this movie resulted a beautiful, soft, teal colored scarf with a light texture pattern. Thankfully the yarn was a merino wool, camel, and angora mix because the theater was a bit chilly.  Also from the theater was a funky boucle scarf  in warm wool in autumnal tones of orange, brown, and black. This one I made while sitting in the humourous yet touching Seth Rogen and Barbara Striesand movie- the Guilt Trip. Despite a few slow spots in the movie and an overwhelming scent of popcorn mixed with old lady perfume it came out wonderfully. I also made a few cowls this week, a sparkly silk one and a hot pink boucle one.

2 cowls and 2 scarves, I wish the sparkley one had showed up better.

I made these while reading two books that no one in their right mind would find interesting. I did however finish them and gather the info I was craving…

This concludes week one, here’s hoping I have the tree picture done for next week!

The craft room challenge

So, I had originally started to write a blog about movies. One of my favorite things in life, but, often I would leave the theater and not know what to write other than- “the Hobbit, brilliant but better in 2d or Life of Pi- absolutely astonishing”. Some reviewer I turned out to be.
But yesterday while my family and friends were all enjoying the holiday I was arriving at a horrible conclusion about my life. I am in my 30’s with an awful job, no future job prospects despite my education and lots of work experience, and single. So while every other person I know (at least it seems like) was getting engaged or announcing a pregnancy I was at home being reminded of how utterly worthless I truely am. Despite my large home that I love, 2 dogs that I claim to hate, 2 paid off vehicles, and my horse Klondike I was utterly depressed with my life. So having sat down with a very tasty glass of warm rum cider and one of my favorite movies- Julie & Julia I decided that like Amy Adams’

character I also need something to keep me focused through this coming year. I thought for a while before realizing that the answer lied in the disaster I call a craft room. Within its’ walls lie countless started projects withering away in various states finishedness. Quilts, sweaters, needlework, scrapbooks, you name it and there it is. I have decided to finish these poor lost projects even if they are items I no longer find appealing- yes, sweater I started when I was skinnier and still marginally attractive I’m speaking of you. I will of course keep all (if any) readers up to date with pictures. Please also keep in mind that if you see something you find appealing make me an offer- there is a good chance it could become yours.

For years I have dreamed of having my very own fibrous, sparkly, ecclectic craft store where I could enjoy my work and teach others for a living and who knows maybe this could be the road that leads to my dream… So please share it out and help me stay motivated to finish all these things!

Simple Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup

I haven’t posted a blog in forever, I know, but today I had a success with a simple soup recipe, and since I don’t usually make soups, I was proud of myself, and wanted to share.


The business started recently when I took myself to happy hour at Casbah, and was a little hungry after work.  I ordered a new seasonal menu item, “Cauliflower Puree”, and it was s delicious creamy soup.  I LOVE cream soups, and basically licked the bowl out.


Then, I decided to invite Friend Jay over for dinner.  I was putting together a menu, and decided I’d try to recreate Casbah’s delicious soup.  It didn’t turn out exactly like Casbah’s, but it was very good, and easy, and so.  You’ll need:


1 head of cauliflower

1 bulb of garlic

1 box of veggie broth, or water, or some combination thereof, about 4 cups of liquid

About 1/3 to 1/2 cup of heavy cream

A goodly amount of olive oil

Salt and pepper

2-3 strips of bacon

A little bit of bleu cheese


Preheat your oven to 450.  Chop the cauliflower roughly, douse it in olive oil, and spread it over a large cookie sheet.  Cut the top off a whole bulb of garlic, douse that in olive oil, and wrap it up tightly in foil.  Put the sheet and the garlic bundle into the oven; turn the cauliflower once or twice.  It will be done in about 35 minutes — the garlic will take another 15 minutes or so.


Add the roasted cauliflower and garlic to a pot of warming broth and/or water, enough to barely cover the cauliflower.  The garlic cloves should be soft, and squeeze right out of the bulb; discard the husk.  I have an immersion blender, which works perfectly for such a job, but if you don’t, transfer the hot liquid and vegetables carefully to a food processor, and blend until everything’s very smooth.  Put the soup back in the pot if you’re not using an immersion blender, and add 1/3 – 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  Stir thoroughly.  Add salt and pepper to taste — don’t be afraid to go hard on the pepper.


Meanwhile, fry up your bacon strips, and slice them thinly.  Soup goes in the bowl, bacon goes in the center of soup, bleu cheese crumbles get sprinkled around the bacon — let them melt into the soup.  Yum.


Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup with Bacon and Bleu Cheese Garnish

Equal Opportunity for Women, Hot Dog Eating Edition

It should be pretty clear by now that I love food: making it, eating it, writing about it … mmm, food.  It should come as no surprise that I’m a fan of Competitive Eating.  Specifically, every Fourth of July, I love to tune in to ESPN and watch the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.  At noon today, Ted and I were camped in front of my laptop to watch the live stream.


The very first event of the hour-long presentation is the women’s hot dog eating contest, but it was not always so.  In fact, the division of the competition into men’s and women’s contests only happened last year.  For the second year in a row, Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas won in the woman’s division, eating 45 dogs this year.  Prior to 2011, Sonya competed — and acquitted herself very well — with the elite men of the competitive eating field.


Joey Chestnut eating his way to victory in this year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Right now the men’s Nathan’s champ is Joey “Jaws” Chestnut.  In fact, Joey just won his 6th straight title, tying him with Takeru Kobayashi for consecutive Nathan’s wins.  Kobayashi no longer competes in the Nathan’s contest after a conflict with Major League Eating, which took over the Nathan’s event in the mid ’90s.  Joey ate 68 dogs this year, tying a previous world record-setting performance of his; Takeru competed in the inaugural Crif Hot Dog Eating Contest, and they say he ate 68.5 dogs.  But that’s it’s own strange conflict.


Second and third place at Nathan’s this year, in the men’s division, went to Tim “Eater X” Janus and Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, with 52 and 51 dogs consumed respectively.  Fourth place went to up-and-comer Matt “Megatoad” Stonie, who is only 19 and giving elite eaters a run for their money; he ate 44 dogs — less than the Black Widow.


This whole women’s division thing really pisses me off.


I understand the need for divisions.  Joey Chestnut  is in a league of his own, but below him is a collection of similarly matched elite eaters, and it’s clear that Sonya Thomas is among them.  Why not have divisions based on skill-level qualifier rounds?  The Black Widow would easily qualify to compete with the likes of Jaws and Deep Dish.  And while it’s true that some sports are better left gender segregated for reasons of physiology, size and strength differences that might legitimately prevent female athletes from playing alongside male athletes in sports like football and hockey are completely moot in competitive eating.  Most of the elite competitors, although fit, are not particularly large.  Megatoad is all of 120 pounds; Takeru Kobayashi is 128.  Sonya Thomas is quite wee at about 100 pounds, but that clearly doesn’t have any impact on her ability to cram dozens of hot dogs into her mouth quickly.  While there is a physical component to competitive eating (both Chestnut and Kobayashi work out year-round), and some training techniques, it’s not a matter of size or strength: there’s absolutely nothing relating to the average physiological differences between men and women that requires the imposition of gendered competitive divisions.  This is more like declaring that a high school math team or quiz league needs to be divided according to gender.


Now, it may be the case that women make up a minority of elite competitive eaters — Black Widow’s closest rival, Juliet Lee, came in second in the women’s competition, having eaten “only” 33 dogs in 10 minutes.  Hell, it may be the case that women are in the minority when it comes to math teams and quiz leagues.  But that’s not a matter of ability, it’s a matter of acculturation.  Given all of the super fucked-up narratives about  food and control and morality that our culture foists on women, it’s no surprise that fewer women consider entering the field than men.  I assume that Major League Eating developed the Nathan’s women’s contest in the hopes of increasing women’s participation in competitive eating, but they’re taking precisely the wrong approach.  Women aren’t inspired when they see the best, elite woman competitor ghettoized, pushed into some less-than opening act; they’re inspired when they see an elite woman performing competitively alongside the best in the field in the world.  A friend of mine had the opportunity to see Sonya Thomas go up against Joey Chestnut in a wing eating contest that wasn’t gender divided, and she said watching the Black Widow take on the champ was amazing.  If Thomas — and any women like her — can play at the level of Chestnut and Bertoletti and Janus, then she should get the chance.  And seeing women competitors out-eat men will do a lot more to increase other women’s participation in Major League Eating — and hell, who knows, maybe even help to destabilize some of those super fucked-up narratives about women and food — than pushing them down the bill will.  Plus, you know who won that wing eating contest?  It wasn’t Joey Chestnut — Sonya Thomas kicked his ass.


So personally, I’m calling on Major League Eating to get rid of this counterproductive. unnecessary, and, frankly, insulting gender division in its Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Equal Work, Equal Pay, Equal Hot Dogs!


Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas, a personal hero of mine.


Weekend at the Trailer

Over Memorial Day Weekend, Sarah decided to avail herself of the Trailer, and asked Ted and I to accompany her. Not having any plans ourselves, we decided this was a capital idea.

The Trailer has been mentioned before, in my Blog of Yesteryear “Salamanca, Ho!”. Sarah’s parents own a single-wide trailer in Great Valley, New York, which is situated near Salamanca and Ellicottville, and near the Seneca Nation. Calling this abode a trailer doesn’t really do it justice: it’s got three bedrooms, a nice small living room with cable TV, and a full kitchen and dining area, plus a washer/dryer and whole-house air conditioning, which we might have broken. Sarah’s father, known popularly as Neilbert, grew up in Salamanca, and his brothers and many of his family members still reside there. Plus Neilbert is an avid skier, and so on many weekends, he and wife Saundra will venture up to New York to see the family and do some skiing, weather permitting. This was not one of those weekends, though, so off went the younger generation to enjoy the Trailer.

Two car decals, one of Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes, praying to a cross, the other of a naked woman wearing a cowboy hat in silhouette.

I felt like I learned a lot about the middle of nowhere in the gas station.

We drove through the middle of nowhere, PA, and though it’s actually a route I’d traveled before (See my Blog of Yesteryear “Smethport, Ho!”), I’m always sort of amazed at how much straight-up Nothing there is in the world, and how many people are willing – I would assume even pleased – to live amongst so much Nothing. I realize Pittsburgh may not seem like The Big City to certain residents of New York, LA, or Chicago, but I assure you, when you get up near Kane, PA, Ted, Sarah, and I are City Folk, capital C capital F.

A man with long curly hair, a beard and glasses standing behind a counter full of food items.

Ted and the Provisions

We arrived and unpacked. The Trailer having a kitchen and all, it seemed prudent to bring provisions, to save money. Grocery shopping is one of my favorite hobbies, so I was pleased to put together what I viewed as a wholesome and tasty array of comestibles: whole-seed bread, cheeses, mixed nuts, cucumbers, tomatoes, pineapple, mango fresh and dried, cherries, Swedish Fish, and most of a bottle of Irish Whiskey. Sarah also brought snacks, including wines, ingredients to make deviled eggs and Doritos – mmm, Doritos. Doritos are the sort of thing that I never buy, because I know that having bought them I will just eat them, and that’s just not good for me. And yet. Doritos. So good. The Trailer was well stocked indeed.

We enjoyed a late lunch – and learned that Sarah loves Swedish Fish – and then took a nap. See, here’s the beauty of the Trailer: there’s nothing to do. Now, if I had to spend a couple of weeks there, I might very well get bored. But for a long weekend it’s great. Because at home, when you do nothing, you feel guilty. There’s always some damn thing you could be doing at home – something you could be cleaning, some household project that needs addressed, some social contact you owe a call to … whatever it is, doing nothing at home is always a shirking of responsibility. But doing nothing at the Trailer? Why, it’s all that can be done! Naps all around!

A photo of a fake shark mounted on the wall, appearing to menace a taxidermied, fierce-looking raccoon.

The Gin Mill had some colorful customers.

We awoke in the evening and headed into Ellicottville. Ellicotville is basically a one-block crossroads of nice things to do for the out-of-town skiiers who might not be completely satisfied with only what Salamanca has to offer; it’s got a microbrewery and a health food store and such things that the good small-town folk of rural Western New York may not have built on their own accord, had it not been for certain urban elements and their ski resorts. So much the better for us. We started out at a bar called The Gin Mill, where a previous Internet check had revealed wings were served. Being only an hour or so from Buffalo, Ted was eager to try to the local wings, assuming that proximity to Buffalo and quality of wings increase proportionally. The trouble is that Ted doesn’t like Buffalo Wings, per se – as I’ve previously mentioned, he has a delicate tongue, and does not care for spicy things. So he ordered BBQ wings. To me, this defeats the entire experiment seeking to answer the question “Are Buffalo Wings Better the Closer One Gets to Buffalo?” – but he could not be dissuaded. Here was the interesting thing we learned: Ellicottville BBQ sauce is vinegary. Now, I’ve encountered vinegary, Carolina-style BBQ sauces before (mostly in the Carolinas, natch), and they’re good, no doubt. But I was not expecting to encounter one in Western New York. Well. Now you know. Ted proclaimed them very good. Also, Sarah and I sampled the curly fries, which the menu claims are hand-cut to order, and which were very good indeed.
A man with long curly hair and a beard eating chicken wings, with sauce on his hands and face.

Ted gets down to business.

A picture of the back of a man and very large metal brewing tanks.

Where the magic happens.

From The Gin Mill, we headed over a block to the Ellicottville Brewing Company, which brews its own beer and serves dinner. We tried several of the beers, one I’d had previously, the Blueberry Wheat, which is charmingly served with blueberries dancing in it. I tried the Pantius Droppius, an Imperial Pale Ale, Sarah got the Black Jack Oatmeal Stout, and Ted tried the Bourbon Barrel Imperial – all were fine brews. We also sampled and ended up buying a growler of the Catt County Cuvee, which was floral and well-balanced and very, very good.

A picture of plates of food and beer - sandwiches and macaroni and cheese.

Dinner at the Ellicottville Brewing Company.

We also ate at the EBC, with somewhat mixed results. Ted and Sarah both ordered the pulled pork sandwich, which was very good – I sampled it. I got the portobello sandwich and asked for bacon on it, too, and that was also very good. We all got sides of mac and cheese, which was a little on the disappointing side, coming out sort of lukewarm and not as piquant as one might have hoped. Our meals were also served with fries, but mine were far too soggy from the escaping portobello juices to eat. Restaurants! If you intend to serve a portobello sandwich, you must serve sides on the actual side, in separate containers – the sandwich is just too messy to not have the mushroom juices swamp everything else on the plate. That is all.

A picture of a man with long curly hair, a beard and glasses holding up a white ticket with a cash sum printed on it.

The big winner.

Dying from the sheer amount of food we’d consumed, we took our growler and some leftovers (and a six-pack gift for Ted’s and my kittysitters, Carley and Will) and left Ellicottville. Ted wanted to try his luck at the Casino Niagara, which is operated by the Seneca Nation. Sarah and I aren’t gamblers, but we agreed to indulge Ted for a bit. The casino is large and nicely appointed. I’ve been in Vegas before, and while it’s not the Bellagio, it’s also modern and attractively designed. In 20 minutes Ted won $30 on the small-change slots, and we all considered this a success.

A picture of the outside of a small diner, with cars in the parking lot and blue sky behind, and a sign reading "Restaurant 25 cent coffee"

Langworthy's - now on Foursquare.

After our big day, we turned in early, and the next morning we headed out to Diner Breakfast. One of Ted’s favorite things to do while traveling is experience local diners, and we had plans to go to Eddy’s, just down the street from the Trailer. Alas, Eddy’s owners had closed up for the long weekend! And so we headed out of town to Langworthy’s, which is the second-smallest diner I’ve ever been in, and appears to serve the largest pancakes I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately I didn’t try the pancakes, only saw them from a distance – I had a perfectly good plate of eggs, potatoes, and bacon, and an absolutely fantastic biscuit. Sarah had cream chipped beef on toast, and Ted had an egg sammich. And we all had 25-cent coffee, as it seems to be the specialty of the house. And y’know, for 25 cents, it was good coffee. I mean, it wasn’t the best coffee I’ve ever had or anything, but seriously, at 25 cents it was a steal.

A picture of two men on a green lawn on either side of a black drum, one throwing a frisbee.

Local invention: Kan Jam. Jam Kan? Some such.

We lolligagged about for a bit, and then we headed over to Randolph, NY to go to Jenn and Trevor’s cook-out. Jenn and Trevor had occasioned my first stay at the Trailer, when I went to their wedding as Sarah’s date, as detailed in “Salamanca, Ho!”. Many of the same folk from the wedding were at the cook-out, including Sarah’s many Uncle -berts, and Uncle Howard, who may still think that Sarah and I are lesbian partners. If this is so, Ted’s presence was probably a minor mystery, but then, we could all three just be in a VERY progressive relationship, or perhaps Ted was just our egg donor subordinate. I was willing to spin off any of these tales, but Uncle Howard never asked. We got to meet Jenn’s and Trevor’s very cute furkids, including their rescued greyhouds, who are exactly what I like in a dog: calm and polite and quiet. Their heads are at hand-height, perfectly aligned for them to stand quietly next to you for an indefinite period of time while you rub their ears. We also were introduced to the game of Kan Jam, which provides a purpose to Frisbee tossing, which I had always previously regarded as aimless and a bit silly. It involves two teams of two people each, trying to score points by tossing the Frisbee to and fro and trying to get it into the Kans – either by the non-throwing partner smacking it into the top of the Kan, or the throwing partner pulling off the feat of actually tossing the Frisbee through the slot in the side of the Kan. It seemed a pleasant diversion, and the rumor is that it is of local (Western NY) origin. It’s good to the support the local customs, though Ted and I sat around in the shade like city folk, getting itchy from being outside.

We left as the mosquitoes were coming out and a few rain drops were beginning to fall – a few raindrops that turned into an impressive storm. Home at the Trailer, Ted and I showered off the itch and then we all decided to do some drinking, since, c’mon, that’s what vacations are for. There was the growler of beer, the boxes of wine Sarah had brought, the whiskey, and some further provision raiding, including Sarah’s delicious, delicious Doritos. We all got a little drunk and I got bossy, commanding Ted to refill our drinks for us and other such things. Sarah also got misty-eyed talking about how much she loves Neilbert, which I figure he’ll be glad to hear. I ate a crap-ton of Doritos. A good time was had by all.

The next morning it was paralyzingly hot, a condition not alleviated on the trip home, as Sarah’s PT Cruiser’s air conditioner is broken – also I got quite queasy from carsickness. But let’s not dwell on these unfortunate facts! The point is, we had a nice time at the Trailer, and Ted and I would like to return – we never saw the Seneca Nation museum, or got to eat at Eddy’s, and Buffalo is about an hour away, so we could make a day trip from the Trailer of wing sampling. I also gather that there are some vineyards in the area, and I do like me some wine tasting. So in conclusion, Hooray for the Trailer. Saundra and Neilbert, I hope we didn’t break your air conditioning.

In Which I Am Torn About #TightsAsPants

Dear Reader, I’m sure you’ve encountered at some point one or both of the following:

*Someone wearing a pair of tights and a longish shirt apparently thinking that said tights suffice as lower body covering.

*Someone remarking, commenting, tweeting that “tights aren’t pants!” (I think I’ve sent such a tweet myself in the past.)

I had occasion to mull this extremely first-world conflict last week, and as it’s been on my mind since then, I decided to take to the blog.

I follow a few nice ladies on Twitter who live in Australia, and often I see them all talking about something that is an apparent mystery to me, but which was obviously a recent topic in Australian media. Last week, I noticed that, all on the same evening, several of them twittered things like, “I will wear what I fucking please! #tightsaspants” I take it, though I do not know for sure, that some Australian lady-commentator made derogatory comments about people who wear tights as pants, prompting some general outrage and frustration.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a proud fat lady, and as such I feel a fair amount of feminist outrage at the way fat women’s bodies are policed and, to a lesser degree, the way our fashion choices are circumscribed, either literally because of a lack of shopping options or metaphorically because of the general shaming and nagging society inflicts when fat women don’t dress according to the mystical “what fat people are supposed to wear” rules (“slimming cuts” – whatever the fuck that means, a lot of black, no loud or clashing patterns, etc.). I’m not much of a clothes horse – it just doesn’t interest me, and I doubt it much would even if I were thin and rich and had all the clothing options in the world – but many fat activists use fashion – or, “fatshion” – as a tool of not only self-expression but of resistance: resistance to a dominant cultural narrative that demands of fat people, and fat women especially, that they not take up too much space, literally, and figuratively by standing out, by refusing to be cowed by consensus opinion that our bodies are not “right,” not attractive, grotesque, offensive, and shameful. (Marianne Kirby has an excellent recent blog post on this subject on her website, www.therotund.com, that started me thinking about this.) This, I think, is part of a larger patriarchal culture that tries to demand acquiescence by women to the idea that they are primarily valuable only as sexual objects for men, and as such must remain constantly available and constantly “attractive” as the dominant culture conceives of the term. By not being “attractive” in this way, fat women advertantly or inadvertantly defy this patriarchal command – as do women who are queer – and so we are punished for it by harassment, shaming, policing, and stigma. (Straight women who meet the standard of what is “attractive” and yet who are loud, uppity, and reject the notion that their value is situated in their sexual availability are also punished, if sometimes in different ways.)

The point is that it is a form of radical resistance to a hostile, oppressive culture when women, fat or not, do not do as they are told and do not follow the script of what is “acceptable”.

When resistance is couched in fashion, there is normally a predictable backlash: the offending women are shamed in one or both of two ways. They are either slut shamed or body shamed. In the case of the former, they are told that the way they dress makes them look whorish, and if they are assaulted, they were asking for it (this victim blaming is part of a rape culture that terrorizes women and demeans men, but let’s leave that for another day). The latter preys on the anxieties inculcated by a predatory capitalism and the patriarchy about the “necessity” of being always attractive, and manifests, usually, as an attack on the woman’s body shape and weight: “You’re too fat to wear ______.” Consider the narrative around skinny jeans, for instance, and then check out this post from Natalie Perkins over at www.definatalie.com for an excellent example of resistance – shaming – and, happily, another round of resistance.

So in summation, those Australian feminists were wrankled because in general, attempts to control things like women choosing to wear tights as pants are actually merely attempts to control women, through slut shaming and body shaming; to corral them back into the role of sexual object, available to men for consumption because they are behaving as the patriarchy desires, working to appear as the patriarchy desires, and also because they are literally available – willing participants in the system of sexual objectification. And fuck a bunch of that, obviously.

And yet.

I cannot shake the fact that I think wearing tights as pants is tacky. Not because it makes women look slutty, because 1) it doesn’t, necessarily, and 2) I have no problem with women looking slutty if they want to as a means of expressing their own healthy sexuality. Also, since there’s noting wrong with being a (responsible) slut if one desires, there should also be nothing wrong with being slutty. Not because some women might not “have the body for it”: I, for one, am fat as hell, and NO ONE has the right to come at me like that’s a problem, because it’s not, no matter what I do or do not have on my fat body. Just … hmm. I just don’t like it. I feel about it the way I feel about young men who wear their pants belted below their ass, so that their underwear-clad ass is exposed, purposefully, for all the world to see. I want to go up to those young men and ask them, snarkily, “Do you not understand what pants are for? Or do you just not understand how to get them to work?” I want to go up to young women wearing nothing but tights and a shirt and say the same thing. This drive is basic, comes from deep down, and is in spite of everything I know about the policing of women as discussed above.

But then I feel guilty about this – after all, what right do I have to join in the shaming chorus? None, of course, even if my motivations aren’t as evil as others’.

So I guess what I’m left with is this: I support the right of every women everywhere, regardless of body shape or size, age, or anything else, to wear tights as pants. But I don’t endorse the practice, ’cause I hate it.

Thus ends another round of “Is Sabrina a bad feminist?”