Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Dancing Girls

Is there anything more New York-y than seeing dancing girls on Christmas day? We had the most New York Christmas I think that a person could have. The glitzy New York, not that old crabby New York.

Drake and I started the day at home and opened our presents which were for the most part a surprise and a delight. I say for the most part because I ruined Christmas by routinely checking our bank account and accidentally scrolling down and noticing a large purchase from alas. If being fiscally responsible is a crime then lock me up.

Along with the knitting needles, I received a book called Holy Headshot! which is hands down the most hilarious thing I have ever received. It's a compilation of funny/horrifying/inappropriate headshots AND their accompanying resumes. Basically the best book ever for many reasons, not the least of which is my vested interest in headshots.

Drake got new coffee mugs from gimme coffee and a box of yarn (which will soon become a new knit tie) as well as a set of Russian Dolls that you paint yourself and a couple of books. Oh yes! and an ipod touch (I'm very crafty) He now spends his days adding "apps" and such and saying things like "This is so awesome, and I've barely even had time to play with it yet." He's said this at least 3 times. It is also a lie.

We then sang at church ate delicious bagels from Essa bagel on the lower East Side, and hung out with Drake's parents at the hotel. We headed up to Radio City Music Hall and saw the Christmas Spectacular, which was indeed spectacular, and has a new 3D part which was lots of fun. Drake enjoyed watching the 7 year old girl a few rows ahead of us try to grab the 3D objects, I enjoyed watching his mom and I do the same :)

We had a great time and followed it up with a stop at the Oak Room where we were seated next to Yoko Ono (!) and Sean Lennon. She was dressed all in white including a tall fur hat. After the Oak Room we went to Nougatine in the Trump Tower and had a delicious dinner. Drake was so happy that his parents came to NYC. I think he said that about a million times, but it deserves reiterating here. Howard Stern was there, with whoever his wife is. But his presence was totally eclipsed by every delicious thing we ate. It was really exceptional.

The next day we made a quick trip to the Museum of Modern Art, and then on Saturday we went to Ellis Island (where several people mistook Danny for Michael Corleone) and our big night out at the Met! We ate at the Grand Tier in the Opera House, and saw Thais with Renee Fleming and Thomas Hampson. It was such a great night-- really a big event and through a friend of Susan's we were given a backstage pass and met them both. A lovely time all around.
For more pics click here

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas fun-times.

My Red Ryder
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
As I predicted, Drake was indeed tricking me and got me this needle set for Christmas! Hooray! In honor of this, I have tipped the current knitting projects list in his favor, and after finishing a very quick baby project I will knit him a tie because he asked me to.

Drake asks me to knit things for him. And then he wears them. It is bliss for both parties involved. He wears his slipper socks every night. It has made me desirous of my own pair, but I'm going to make mine a grown-up version of a pair of Pompon slippers from the Debbie Bliss Baby Knits Book.

Current WIP (works in progress for non-knitterly types):
1. Baby Pompon slippers
2. My First Pair of Socks (toe up)
3. Drake's tie

To-Knit list:
1. Lace socks with birthday yarn from Maureen :)
2. Socks for Drake (with noro self-striping sock yarn purchased in November)
3. Grown-up Pompon slippers
4. Sweater for Drake
5. Scarves for Danny and Susan
6. Sweater for me

I have already completed very many Christmas scarves and elves which I will post shortly here and on Ravelry--

We had such a lovely Christmas week with Drake's parents and did a lot of fun things in NYC that we hadn't done before (like go to the Greenwich Tavern, and the Oak Room and Nougatine and the Rockettes and the Statue of Liberty!) Again, I'll expound after I have access to those pictures. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas/Holiday/week!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Delicious Christmas

As I type this I am eating shredded wheat. Accompanying the shredded wheat on my desk are:
1. half of a cookie (discussed yesterday). It was for my co-worker, but she left work before I could give it to her and won't be back till January 2nd. I figured it would be best if I just ate it.
2. an untouched, dressed salad for which I was not hungry after eating half of the cookie.

For some reason I have decided to eat the shredded wheat. Maybe it's subliminal punishment for the cookie over-indulgences of late.

Drake's parents have landed in NYC and are probably unpacking and settling into their hotel as we speak! This, of course, means that I am driven to horrible distraction at work and cannot wait until the bell rings (I always feel like a school girl when 5 o'clock rolls along) and everyone floods the streets. Really, there is no bell.

It's been a lot of fun seeing things in NYC snazzed up for the holidays. Some of the regular parts of my commute have become pretty special. The guy with the really big smile who sings Beatles hits in the 6th Avenue underpass (between the L and the 1,2,3) had someone with him singing harmonies the other day. Some of the hipsters in my neighborhood are wearing Santa hats. Our neighbors put up one of those enormous inflatable snowglobes that plays out of tune Christmas carols at all hours of the day and night. AND the guy who usually blasts rap music while working on his car was blasting Sinatra Christmas Carols at the Giglio Boys Club when Santa was there to greet children on Saturday afternoon.

I hope you all already know about Santaland diaries?

Also click on the picture for some great nostalgic photographs just posted by the George Eastman House.

I hope to check in now and again to chronicle the big fun we'll be having with the Texas faction of the family in NYC!
Merry merry-making!

Monday, December 22, 2008

My turn...

I'm a cosmonaut!
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
Drake just sent me this one!

I wish I could go home right now and bake some more-- once the clock strikes 5, we'll make a quick stop at the craft store for some bells then home and a quick batch of cookies before dinner with friends.

Isn't this a great week?

Ho ho ho! And a history of chocolate chip cookies.

drake santa 2
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
Isn't Drake lucky that his cute face fits so seamlessly on most pictures of Santa?

This week we got snowed in my cousin rescheduled our Christmas party, so we spent the weekend watching the first season of Mad Men (which makes me want to go dress shopping) and baking and knitting. I finished the second sock of my first pair! now all I have to do is rip out the ankle of the first sock and redo it in a rib to match the second one, cast off more loosely on the first sock and then I'll have my first wooly pair! I can't wait.

I also finished 6 Christmas presents (Drake cheated and is wearing his today) and baked some cookies and a chicken. The chicken was a gesture of good will and healthy eating-- I made (and ate) the cookies first. A new recipe, and the jury is still out. I am attempting to copy the Levain cookie of my dreams and this is my second attempt. I think that the first attempt may have been more successful. I will expound.

I have been baking since the beginning of conciousness. Not cooking, mind you. Baking. I have no interest in "food" as it were. Just cookies cakes and (seasonal) pies. Toll house-ish recipes sufficed until high school when on a trip to BJ's wholesale club with my mother I happened upon the Mrs. Field's cookie cook book. I decided that I shouldn't buy it, but that if I happened to memorize the chocolate chip cookie recipe while we were in the store, why not try it. So I did. I'm a quick memorizer :)

Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies, as altered by the waning memory of Alta:

1 c. butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 c. brown sugar ( I used dark brown)
1/2 c. sugar
(beat until fluffy)
add 2 eggs, one at a time-- thoroughly incorporate. Add 1 tsp vanilla with the second egg.

in separate bowl, whisk
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Add chocolate chips (these days I use Ghiradelli bittersweet and milk chocolate mixed together)

Cook for 7-10 minutes at 375.

Then I lived in Rochester and my friend Ali introduced me to The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook which has some of the tastiest cookie recipes I have ever encountered. I'll leave you to discover them as they're readily available. All baked goods in this cookbook, especially the Ultimate Carrot Cake are ridiculously delicious.

Then I moved to NYC and discovered Levain. It's like a meteorite of cookie heaven. Their cookies are a full 6 oz. Have you seen a 6oz cookie before? unreal. This is the cookie that convinced me, once and for all that my allergy to walnuts is worth ignoring. So my tongue swells a bit, who cares! they're that good.

And so, faithful friends, I give to you this Christmas a link to my new favorite cookie recipe. I know that you will hesitate when you see just how big a 6 oz cookie is, but please I entreat you, make them 6 oz. otherwise you don't get the gooey goodness in the middle. Also toast the walnuts.

And don't blame me when you eat a pound of cookie.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

drake santa
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
How much do I love ,a href="">SUMO Paint?

I'm starting to get ideas.....

Isn't this brilliant??
A few Christmas cards have trickled in, and it makes me wish that I had thought to stage something cheerful and hilarious to send out. I did that a couple times back in my early old-age/late youth....

I imagine that once we have a puppy or children the options for humorous pictures increases, mainly because they can't protest (right away). Drake indulges me to a certain extent, but he's not as funny as babies and puppies, or candle heads for that matter. That's a cool mom who made that card. Don't you think?

Why do I assume it's the mom? I guess cause it's my mom that always had zany ideas for projects, and I figure it will be me when we have kids too... This is not to say that Drake won't participate in fun projects, and appreciate candle-face-cards. I imagine that our children will build robots with his prodding and I know that he is pining after the future Dantzler family string quartet. (Which means that we have to have 3 children, Drake, because I mean it when I say that I refuse to learn a stringed instrument. You were there when I attempted the violin last year. It was not a pretty sight. I will not go there again.)

Oh drat!! why did I not send out Christmas cards??? mark my words, next year you will all (all 3 of you) receive an hilarious (yes! "an" before an h!) Christmas card in the mail from me. It will be jolly and bright, and Drake may or may not be dressed up in a doggie-reindeer costume....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time

My Red Ryder
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
"I don't think a football is a very good Christmas present."

Those who have ever spent any time with me during Christmas know of my obsession with the movie "A Christmas Story". I doubt that it will ever lose its shine as the most sparkly wonderful hallmark of the holidays.

I think I have found my Red Ryder for this Christmas.
Options Interchangeable Harmony Wood Circular Knitting Needle Set.

Is it just me, or is this the perfect Christmas gift?? Drake is currently carrying on about how he's not going to get me *knitting needles* for Christmas. He pronounces "knitting needles" as if it is some repugnant vegetable. I'm hoping that he's tricking me and he's just making a great show of what an awful present it is so that he can trick me and hide the present somewhere on Christmas, and he'll be all "So Ralphie, I mean, Alta, did you have a good Christmas?"
then I'll be all:
"Yeah I guess"
"Did you get everything you wanted?"
"What's that over there behind the desk? Santa must have brought it...."

Mom did that kind of stuff all the time. Or maybe it was me... Mom am I confusing you with me again? I did play a lot of "Christmas-is-not-about-the-gifts-but-secretly-the-best-present-is hidden somewhere-I'm sending-you-on-a-long-scavenger-hunt" type Christmas tricks on my brothers who are significantly younger than me.

The best one (stop me if you've heard this one) was the Christmas after I left home for college. It occurred to me that Greg would not remember a time when I lived at home (he was 5 when I started college) so I thought that I ought to create a memorable Christmas through trickery.

I achieved this in the dead of night on Christmas Eve. I was wrapping the presents and addressing them to their intended recipient, but then in a masterful turn of events, I folded the tags in such a way as to display "to Alta from Santa." on each and every present in Santa's beautiful script handwriting. (Santa had very elegant handwriting)

So in the morning my brothers ran downstairs (and by that I mean I went upstairs and woke them all up at some ungodly hour) and they started sorting and delivering the presents.
"This one's for you Alt!!" "Oh, this one too" "This one is for Alt" "Wow, Alt you got a lot of presents"
As the presents piled higher and higher in front of me I began to pick them up and shake them.... "ooooo!! this sounds like legos! Cool, I bet this is a video game!!" and my mother gave me the fish eye:
"What on earth did you do."

Before they cried or threw fits, but after all the presents had been piled in front of me, I quickly pointed out three presents that I had craftily hidden behind the chair---
"Look!" I said with good cheer. "Look, Santa didn't forget you! There are three presents over there!!"

They ran over and unwrapped three child-sized shovels. Oh the trickery! I then confessed that I had snuck into the living room before they woke up and turned all the tags and written my name on them as a joke, and redistributed the presents.

Perhaps not the most good-spirited Christmas trick in retrospect.... in fact it may be outright mean to trick 5 year olds, but alas. What's done is done, and Drake if there's a child-sized shovel over in the corner, I'll be very distressed. It's been done.

Monday, December 15, 2008

More Toyland

Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
For the full gallery, visit my website click on galleries then Babes in Toyland


Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
It was such fun. Here is most of the immediate family (minus half of dad's face....)
we were squatting to get into the frame, though clearly there was room for us to stand up straight.

The show went really well, it was so much fun to work on and even more fun to perform. Avery Fisher is a pretty giant hall! hard to gauge audience response in a hall that large, but I could feel little ripples of laughter. That is, until the marching band entered at the end of the show... That ellicited quite a response in all of our rehearsals/performances! It was such fun!! Nothing like a 140-member band with baton twirlers and flag-girls and everything swarming your toys store to save the day. When we did the preview on Tuesday, the 2500 children completely lost it. It was next to impossible to get them to sit down and finish the show after the March of the Toys. They were jumping on the seats and screaming and clapping. such fun!

I'll post some more pictures, but for the complete set, visit
my website click on galleries then Babes in Toyland

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas List.....

In the spirit of The Yarn Harlot's Christmas Knitting Schedule, I decided to make one of my own. There is a distinct problem with this because it is now December 11, and our family Christmas party is December 20th, which means that should I plan to knit anything for my family-- I have all of a week and 1 day to complete the knitting--

This is impossible. So perhaps I will give up. We'll see.

As I type my husband is saying that he has "all the time in the world" to prepare for Christmas..... he is literally saying this right this moment. :) I guess this means he is not hand crafting my gift.

We had a preview on Tuesday for 2500 school-children and it was so much fun!!! They started giggling and screaming right at the beginning, and at the end, they totally lost their minds with glee and were jumping and screaming and it was so much fun. It was also fun to sing in Avery Fisher. There were a few brief moments at a brush up rehearsal on Wednesday where we got to sing without mics, and that was great fun (even though I had "bank voice" from sitting at a desk all day rarely talking, and definitley not singing).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In rehearsal...

This is the first time in a while that I haven't had to leave home to be in a show! what fun this is!
We're at Chelsea Studios rehearsing from now until the show goes up on the 13th. so from 10-6 I'm here rehearsing, knitting and browsing the internet. What a lovely lovely job!
I have knit many cork elves and also some slipper socks for Drake. I'll post pictures soon. One of my colleagues here calls them my "gun cozies." (you know, since we're from Texas...)

I am so thankful to be at a rehearsal space rehearsing instead of auditioning. Such a great feeling! I can only hope that it happens more often...

We decorated the tree a couple days ago, and there were only a few ornament casualties. Yesterday I came home and when I opened the front door I could hear Christmas Carols coming from our apartment upstairs-- Drake baked a delicious ham! how lucky am I this week? toyland, christmas and ham.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Toyland, Toyland

Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
So as I may have mentioned before, for now I have to post a picture whenever I blog. The pictures that I take most often are headshots, so I've decided that rather than posting random pictures of owls and such, I'll post some of the headshots that I've been taking.

I'm not able to post as frequently, as I've begun rehearsals for Babes in Toyland. Such fun to return for a while to singing as my day job. Returning to it now (again), I am struck by the fact that I am now a grown person dressing up and dancing with human toys....

Such fun. I'm also now really excited about Christmas, which we're not allowed to say in the show. We have to say "the holidays." Naturally, a couple people have slipped and whenever it happens, someone ends up screaming. It's just like the secret word on Pee-Wee's Playhouse, remember that? Someone says "Christmas" and then a bell rings and people run all around with their arms flailing.

I am discovering things about opera on this gig. Alot of my colleagues are from musical theater, one in particular has just finished a tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and it's been lovely talking with him, and seeing some unusual opera traditions through his eyes. The conductor for the production is a classical conductor-- in opera, the conductor usually runs the show. Everyone defers to him, and he has final say on everything. If the whole thing is staged and he decides that he needs everyone 15 feet downstage, it happens. If he decides that he doesn't want the soprano to stand where she's standing, she is moved. That's that. We also refer to him solely as "Maestro" sometimes "Maestro last-name-here" but that's the extent of it. It didn't occur to me how strange this must seem to those outside of the tradition.

I wonder if in musicals they call you to the stage by your first name or character name or how it's done.... In opera they refer to you as Mr. Last name or Ms. Last name. I'll have to ask him.

In the mean while, I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving, and begin to prepare a lovely..... CHRISTMAS :::::AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH::::::: hee hee...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Headbangers and Chicken Bones or "God bless the ipod"

black nails
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
This morning I was running a *tad* late. Juggling a full-time "day job" with several other part time jobs just gets in the way of a well-timed commute some times. Actually, whether or not I depart in a timely fashion in the morning has everything to do with whether or not I have to wash and style my hair. Let's be honest. This is a mighty undertaking, and I prefer to take care of it at night, but there are times that this doesn't occur, and then *this* happens:

I forced myself onto a too-crowded L train this morning, when I saw a little spot of room just inside and to the right of the closing doors. How lucky I thought I was. I got in there and had the usual sensory assault of smells and sounds. The Russian woman directly to my left must have just bathed in cheap cologne (yes cologne, not perfume.) It, was of course, impossible not to notice the headbanger directly to my right since he was, well, headbanging. Also (like many others on the train every morning) his i pod was blasting loudly enough for most to hear. I figured he was the reason that the spot was open. No one wanted to risk it.

As it turns out, the reason that the spot was empty probably had more to do with the pile of chicken bones that were at the feet of the person sitting directly in front of me. (I was standing.) The train was almost too crowded for me to even look down, but once I finally could, I noticed the small pile of bones and tracked it back to a sleeping man (? I couldn't tell because the person was all covered up with a giant coat.)

I have become a bit compulsive in the examination of people's hands/fingernails on the subway. This is a new development and I have tried to stop myself, but I can't look away. It started when someone who was holding on to the same pole as I was sneezed into his hand and then grabbed the pole again. I just stared at his hand imagining all the germs that he was transmitting, and wondering if they would run down the pole onto my hands. It never stops. I look at everyones hands now on the subway and imagine all of the terrible (and germy) places they've been.

Today's subject of obsessive scrutiny was in a bad way all around, but the fingers were particularly bad, of course dirty (particularly under the fingernails) still greasy from the chicken, and twitching a bit from sleep. I had just long enough to fixate on them when the person woke up and resumed eating the chicken. A few minutes later he/she dropped a greasy chicken bone on my foot. That was when I no longer appreciated the humor in the situation .

There's nothing like a greasy chicken bone on your boot first thing in the morning to completely ruin the charm of psychotic compulsions, cologne-bathed Russians and head-bangers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"They sing choruses in public--That's mad enough, I think"

I am memorizing a scene from Ruddigore by Gilbert and Sullivan (my favorites!) I don't know how many G&S fans there are out there (holla!) but I LOVE it. I seriously do. There is nothing funnier to me. I die a little each time I read the libretto to Ruddigore. It kills me with hilarity that Mad Margaret's secret word to recall her sanity is Basingstoke. Can I explain it? no. I cannot.

The only thing that may be funnier than the Chorus of Professional Bridesmaids in Ruddigore may be the Sausage Roll Chorus in the Grand Duke. (you must eat a sausage roll, a sausage roll)

If ever one day I go a-missing, you will find me somewhere in a coastal town in Maine rallying townsfolk for a Gilbert & Sullivan Society. We will be in a town hall throwing buckets of water and dancing a horn-pipe. Here's the dialogue:

ROSE. A maiden, and in tears? Can I do aught to soften thy sorrow? This apple – (offering apple).

MAR. (Examines it and rejects it.) No! (mysteriously) Tell me, are you mad?

ROSE. I? No! That is, I think not.

MAR. That’s well! Then you don’t love Sir Despard Murgatroyd? All mad girls love him. I love him. I’m poor Mad Margaret – Crazy Meg – Poor Peg! He! he! he! he! (chuckling).

ROSE. Thou lovest the bad Baronet of Ruddigore? Oh, horrible – too horrible!

MAR. You pity me? Then be my mother! The squirrel had a mother; but she drank and the squirrel fled! Hush! They sing a brave song in our parts – it runs somewhat thus: (sings)
“The cat and the dog and the little puppee
Sat down in a – down in a – in a –”
I forget what they sat down in, but so the song goes! Listen – I’ve come to pinch her!

ROSE. Mercy, whom?

MAR. You mean “who”.

ROSE. Nay! it is the accusative after the verb.

MAR. True. (Whispers melodramatically.) I have come to pinch Rose Maybud!

ROSE. (Aside, alarmed.) Rose Maybud!

MAR. Aye! I love him – he loved me once. But that’s all gone. Fisht! He gave me an Italian glance – thus (business) – and made me his. He will give her an Italian glance, and make her his. But it shall not be, for I’ll stamp on her – stamp on her – stamp on her! Did you ever kill anybody? No? Why not? Listen – I killed a fly this morning! It buzzed, and I wouldn’t have it. So it died – pop! So shall she!

ROSE. But, behold, I am Rose Maybud, and I would fain not die “pop.”

MAR. You are Rose Maybud?

ROSE. Yes, sweet Rose Maybud!

MAR. Strange! They told me she was beautiful! And he loves you! No, no! If I thought that, I would treat you as the auctioneer and land-agent treated the lady-bird – I would rend you asunder!

ROSE. Nay, be pacified, for behold I am pledged to another, and lo, we are to be wedded this very day!

MAR. Swear me that! Come to a Commissioner and let me have it on affidavit! I once made an affidavit – but it died – it died – it died! But see, they come – Sir Despard and his evil crew! Hide, hide – they are all mad – quite mad!

ROSE. What makes you think that?

MAR. Hush! They sing choruses in public. That’s mad enough, I think! Go – hide away, or they will seize you! Hush! Quite softly – quite, quite softly!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I will not buy anti-embollism stockings for my birthday

Vintage Birthday Card
Originally uploaded by sunset flame
I have a gimpy right foot. My mom says that it's because of soda (or at least that's why hers is/was gimpy.) I very seriously considered this as a possibility, imagining that the bubbles from my Diet Coke are somehow inflating my foot. I don't know if there's any science at all behind this, but I can see it. I must be growing up a bit, since I will now actually consider that my mom may say one or two things that are true. It sounds like I'm a terrible kid. I'm not terrible. Just cautious after being told that:
1. Chocolate was actually dog poop
2. I was actually born a monkey in a traveling circus, but she adopted me, shaved me off and raised me as her own.

There are many many more of these lovely tales, as well as additions from my brothers (who only recently found out that yes, there are eggs in egg noodles.) I feel they are best told in person, though if I'm ever low on material, I will try to flesh them out here. (If mom says it's OK. She says that I tell lies about my childhood. I say that liver with ketchup does NOT taste just like steak.)

Anyway. back to the anti-embolism stocking. I went to the Duane Reade after work on Wednesday to buy what my podiatrist referred to as a "support sock" since the last time I flew my foot nearly tripled in size. I decided against buying it because
A. it was called an "anti-embolism stocking." I categorically refuse to buy an anti-embolism stocking for my 30th birthday.
B. it was $37!! Let me say that I would gladly buy it if, god forbid, it was deemed medically necessary. but darned if I will use my tiny weekly budget to buy a medical stocking on my birthday.

Instead, Ashley took me out to fabulous dinner at Tamarind and we went to Sephora and to Forever 21, where the irony of shopping at Forever 21 for my 30th birthday did not escape me. After a slight twinge, I decided that it was far preferable to the anti-embolism stocking.
ALSO not to gush, but Ashley surprised me with a wonderful eye-shadow palatte and I felt the unsurpassed glee of a little girl. If I look particularly happy and sparkly eyed these days, we can thank her.

I also went to sunny Florida to visit Drake, where several wonderful things happened!
1. Alissa baked me a delicious cake
2. I saw a birthday dolphin and exclaimed (even though I was by myself) "Look! A dolphin!! It's my dolphin! It's my birthday dolphin!!"
3. I met a lovely toothless spa-owner in a wine shop who wanted to "use" Drake at his spa (presumably as a hair model?) He told us about his new space which used to be infested by rats but is now gorgeous and kind of broke my heart when he said that he knew "it was going to work out this time." He begged us to stop by before we returned to NYC "You know, just for a little arm massage or something."

You know. Just a little arm massage. in a lovely space that was heretofore infested by rats.

The tagline on his card was "Let us create art on the canvas which is you."

I will have no art created on me, thanks. And I will have no anti-embolism stocking either. And no liver, thanks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No amount of mental-rehearsal could have prepared me for this

So as I mentioned, I had the second half of a root canal yesterday. I thought that the worst part was over from my last visit and that they were just going to put in the permanent filling and I would be on my way. no no no. but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start a bit earlier in the day...

... when I called Drake in a terrible panic and asked him to distract me with his plans for my birthday cake. He said he had no plans yet and I panicked further and said, DRAKE! it's in two days!! and he says that he *didn't* snap back "I'll take care of it!" he just said it. But I interpreted snapping and that was the first time I cried that day. poor poor Drake....

When I got to the Dentist's office I promptly asked the nurse if I could listen to my ipod, and she asked the dentist and he said yes (YES!!) Life was much much better with the ipod, I'll say that right now.
I had "mentally rehearsed" this appointment, and rehearsal included my bravery/distraction during the novacaine shot, my tolerance of the new filling, and my miserable self-pity at home lounging on the couch later. If only.....

Have you had a root canal? I think that he built a tiny campfire in my mouth... that's all I can think of. I refuse to do any "actual research" about what comprises the "actual process" of a root canal for fear that I see "actual pictures." At one point, when I was left to "process chemicals" I realized how absurd I must look-- sitting upright with the mouth protector (which felt more like the mouth-invader or the mouth-stretcher or the mouth-violator) and knitting a tea cozy. I have never felt more absurd. There I was, listening to "I wish I had an evil twin" by The Magnetic Fields and knitting a tea cozy. No big whoop. Nothing unusual here....

So the tiny campfire. I opened my eyes a couple times (why??? why did I do it!?) and saw a series of what looked like tiny match sticks going into my mouth/tooth. There were probably 20 of them. Did he take them out? are they still in there? Did he burn them and actually make a campfire in my mouth protector? There was definitely smoke. I saw it several times. I didn't panic outwardly. I was afraid that if I did the fire might spread.

I will not go into any further detail, but I encourage you, if you have not had a root canal before and are suddenly surprised with one, to ask someone to tell you about it so that you can mentally rehearse. Cause I sure didn't see this coming. It's probably for the best, because my pre-performance panic would have been something fierce and wrathful.

I don't expect however, that yours will end as summarily perfectly as mine did. After the Mouth Protector was removed, I couldn't close my mouth on my own anymore-- (I think it's like when your arm falls asleep and you have to pick it up with your other arm, and you can play the whole "why are you hitting yourself?" game.) He closed my mouth, and I must have looked totally traumatized, because he said "I know that's uncomfortable, but I have to do it that way and here's why"

And I'm not joking when I tell you that he picked up a very large syringe and held it centimeters from my nose. I'm not sure what effect he was trying to provoke, I think he wanted me to smell it. He said it smelled like bleach. I couldn't smell anything because I was starting to lose my hearing and my heart was trying to escape the room. I managed to say "Um, why are you poking my greatest fear in my face?" and he must have thought I was joking, because he DID IT AGAIN! and said "what, you don't smell that?" And to my credit, I think because of the absurdity of the situation, I didn't faint. Instead I said, "look, we've done so well thus far, you need to put that back on the table before I faint and knock out all your hard work."
Know thyself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Don't wear anything you wouldn't want to be cut out of.

Dog Training
Originally uploaded by George Eastman House
I'm going to the dentist today to have the work on my root canal finished. There is nothing in the world that I wouldn't do to get out of it and have the work magically completed when I wake up in the morning.

I never had problems with the dentist until a few years back but since then I've been a big ball of anxiety every time I have to go. A few weeks back I had a root canal, and after warning him that I'm a fainter (as it were) I proceeded to curl up into the tiniest ball as he gave me the novacaine shot. I then got a terrible cramp in my foot and despite all of my bending and stretching throughout the entire procedure, I couldn't stop the cramping. until the moment he was finished.

Which leads me to the fact that I cause myself distress for no apparent reason. Or do I do it for story fodder? Do I bring these events upon myself so that I can have a humorous self-depricating anecdote later (once I gain perspective)? Just so you know, nothing funny whatsoever is going to happen this afternoon. I will go home and change my sweater (in case I faint and the EMS needs to cut it off of me *see above*.) Then I will go to the dentist where nothing remarkable will happen.

I will get a shot, and he will fill my tooth. I will not twitch oddly while this happens, I will not trigger any involuntary muscles, accidentally punching or knocking things over is right out. I will walk home and eat a smoothie and it will be delicious. I will not even bite my tongue or cheek. Nor will I have any terrible misunderstanding while trying to communicate with anyone while my mouth is numb.

Just thought I'd let you know so that there are no expectations.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like....

.... my 30th Birthday!

Under the current blogging system, I must include a picture with every post, hence the awkward transition between picture and entry. Just putting that out there. Also, I cannot wait to get these stockings out from the hall closet and hang them back on the fireplace where they belong. They maybe my favorite things that I've ever knit. (Also my first felted project!)

Well, there is much to be said about my approaching landmark birthday. I am excited and not anxious at its approach. 30, huh? that seems great to me. I've been thinking lately about writing out some of my favorite stories from childhood, and will try for the next few days (before the trip to Florida!) to do that. Here's one that came up a few times this weekend...

When I was young, I was constantly terrified that I would be abducted. I had no reason to be fearful of this. I think that I just really took the warnings of McGruff and of The Fonz to heart when I was watching Stranger-Danger-type infomercials in the early 80s. In any case one day, mom sent her friend Jean to pick me up from pre-school. This is someone who I saw at our house countless times, and who I knew by name. I greeted her when she pulled up in the car. I waved and I smiled! But when I found out I was supposed to get in the car I refused because she didn't have a password.

The teacher called my mother and told her the situation and when they put me on the phone with her mom asked me what the password was, since we had never talked about it. Of course I couldn't tell her on the phone since that would ruin the whole point. OBVIOUSLY.

I was also frequently convinced that there were thugs circling our building. One time my cousin Christine slept over after babysitting me and was quietly listening to my only tape Stevie Wonder's In Square Circle. The sound bled from the headphones, and not knowing that she was listening to it, I woke up my mother to make her look outside. I pictured a bunch of teenagers leaning up against the wall of our house smoking cigarettes with their boom-boxes turned down low so that we wouldn't hear them.

It's funny when I actually force myself to re-imagine the people that I was afraid of when I was little. For the most part, the mental image is of the bullies in Karate Kid. You know, the ones that chased Ralph Macchio out of the Halloween Party when he was dressed as a shower? Them and the evil creatures in The Dark Crystal that sucked the life blood out of the cute little fuzzy creatures. They were a big threat, and if you get into a car without a password, they will undoubtedly get you.


Sock #1 (?)
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
here is finished sock #1 (on swollen ankle).
I finished it with a picot bind off which I love, but which rolls. Of course I haven't blocked it yet.

Thinking that I might pull out down the ankle, increase every 5 stitches and rework in a k5 p1 rib. I don't want the sock to be any smaller in the ankle/leg, but I think it wants ribbing.

Any sock-sters out there with advice?

In case you were wondering what can come up the drain in NYC

Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
I improvised this octo-squid (Drake says that it is neither and both) this summer. Used the leftover yarn from Lila's Tomten Jacket

Just finally took pictures of it this weekend on my first day off since September! ahhhhh.....

Work is moving along nicely on the super secret project which must not be named. Pics will be up as soon as it is shipped off to its recipient.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Let it now be made official

Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
I've been sitting on this one for a while, waiting to sign a contract in the wake of what has been a pretty intense shaking of the economic world. So sad to hear that some of the regional opera houses are being forced to close their doors.

I just signed the contract today to appear in Victor Herbert's "Babes in Toyland" with The Little Orchestra Society at at Lincoln Center. This is for two performances on December 13th.

My mother has already rented a bus. I'm not kidding. She has rented and filled an entire bus. I can't even imagine the fun that will be had on the Boover-family party bus on the way too and from NYC.... I seriously can't wait to see everybody. This is an updated version, and we only did a preliminary reading of the new script, so I can't really tell yet what it's going to be like. I've met the cast and the production team, and they're all wonderful, so I'm very much looking forward to it.

I have a very special place in my heart for operetta, and I thought I'd die of happy nostalgia when I realized that I get to sing a bit of the "Toyland" song. You'll know it when you hear it. You might not know how you know it, but you will. That's the wonderful part of operetta to me it. I have no idea how some of those songs are part of my consciousness. Actually, come to think of it I have a very good idea. It has an awful lot to do with the countless afternoons spent watching old black and white movies while crocheting with Memere, and it has an awful lot to do with the songs that Pepere used to sing, and which my Mom sang to us.

I hope that my brain gets rid of all of the lyrics to "Bust a Move" and "Walk Like an Egyptian" so that my children can enjoy fond memories of the songs I'll sing to them...

Get tickets here.

Unsolicited attention

Top Hat
Originally uploaded by George Eastman House
Usually, I don't even notice, but this has been special and concentrated attention and I want it to GO AWAY.

I do everything that can to make awkward situations alright. I really try to. Go ahead, say something awkward and (when in top form) I will say something 10 times more awkward to make you feel better. Try this sometime if you haven't seen me do it! I will warn you that it could backfire-- I may inadvertently *do* something awkward that may involve breaking something or spilling. That or pants-ing someone. You've been warned. You're welcome.

So this attention comes in the form of a twice daily visitor to my office area. It started out with general lingering, progressed to awkward banter, and at this stage he walks very quickly by my desk eyes down, and then stops short and says "Oh, hello-- I'm just so busy." and then proceeds with the awkward banter. it's always very awkward.

I don't know if I can properly communicate the awkwardness verbally, since much of this has to do with the comical physicality. The strange dance of ignoring me and then noticing and then trying to figure out how to transition from "looking really busy" to "wanting to talk." This is made all the more interesting since lately I have been actively trying to discourage any talk. I have tried many things;

1. Being on the phone. This doesn't seem to help, he'll just stand there and say "Busy?" then sometimes he will wait, in order to tell me that he has no business reason to be here, and then move on. Blissfully, a couple of times I've been on the phone with my husband and said "OK, I've got to go, love you." This has had no effect.

2. Prominently featuring my wedding photo. Again nothing. It could be that he's near-sighted. We've talked awkwardly about glasses more than once. (He wears them since he has to read so much.) When I started wearing mine he noticed and asked if my eyes hurt.

3. Refusing to make eye contact. That was my tactic today. I just stared at the computer screen and when he said "Hi there" I said "Hi" without looking up. It backfired. He stopped at the desk and said "Oh, I'm sorry, were you talking to me? I couldn't tell cause you didn't look up" ACKKKKK!!! just leave me alone! (is what I silently screamed.)

I am confounded by this situation because usually I find awkward people wonderful (being one of them myself) and do everything I can to keep them around to see what will happen next. I guess in this situation the awkwardness is predictably mundane. I must do away with it somehow. I'm considering a gross prosthetic facial deformity.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recording today!

Celia's Owl
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
Well, after work I am off to Chelsea Studios to make a recording. Every year we need to do new ones, and the time is nigh upon me. This year's fare:

1. O mio Fernando from La Favorite by Donizetti. This is the most beastly thing I've ever sung, and by beastly I mean awesome. It has everything an aria needs. Drama and screaming high-notes abound it. I love it.

2. Orlofsky's Aria from Die Fledermaus. This is standard fare for me. I've been singing this aria since I first did the role in 2004, so much fun. Getting to play an eccentric Russian prince gives me the license to do fun and crazy things. I never get bored with this aria.

3. En vain pour eviter from Carmen. This has been my starter aria for the last couple years. It is my favorite of the Carmen arias because it seems to me to be the aria where she is most herself. In the Seguidilla and the Habanera she is totally working it. You know those girls who are totally different whenever there are men around? Carmen is one of them. It's great fun for me to sing this because it's so raw and honest and she's confronting her fate in a very defiant way. Opera doesn't get any better than this, in my humble opinion

4. Lucretia's Aria from The Rape of Lucretia. Had a great session on this this summer during my apprenticeship at Des Moines. Historically, this one has been tricky because I get too involved and when I cry I lose most of my chest voice (which is not good for this one). I've been focusing more on technique lately, and plan on singing this one with the music to avert this problem for now.

In case you're wondering what the owl has to do with this post; nothing. I just think it's super cute, and it lives with my friend Celia now. I may do a couple more for Christmas this year, although the cork elves (more soon...) do have my heart.

ALSO! Sock number 1 is finished! I'm not allowing any pictures until I at least cast on sock #2, lest I abandon them entirely and carry on through the winter with just one sock.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We're so lucky....

Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
Seriously, aren't we?

It was so funny and charming and wonderful when he told his girls that they'd finally get a new puppy. I felt like *I* was getting a puppy. I guess that's what's so great about this campaign/election-- Mr. O is very empathetic and it's easy enough to empathize with him. His joy is ours now! how ridiculously lucky.

So I'm sure that we all have election stories to share-- here's mine.
I spent the evening with some wonderful friends from college and I fed my nervousness. :) I ate and ate until the election was called at the end of the night. It was so great to be in NYC for this election, it was really electric. I'm sure that there was tons of great energy elsewhere too, a big day for everyone!

I left at 10:30, so sleepy from the early voting wake-up call, and deciding that if I didn't go then, I'd probably be there all night (happily! but, exhaustedly....) When I got out of the subway, I heard screaming outside of the station, and literally within minutes people completely flooded the streets. Traffic had stopped, and people were beeping their horns and running out of buildings, I heard on someone's blaring car radio that "John McCain had just called to concede the election"

It was so exciting!! people were all over the place just screaming with joy-- I went inside, but spent a while out on the landing listening to the screaming and honking and fireworks-- I held up the phone so Drake could hear it. Things were much more tame in Florida...

Everywhere I've gone today I've overheard bits of conversation ..."and when he took Florida, I had to pinch myself"... "I know I *acted* nervous about it yesterday, but I knew he'd win"....

It's so wonderful and inspiring to see the change in people's attitude in just one day. It really does feel like anything is possible.

I think I want a puppy too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted. Now where's my sticker.

It ain't easy...
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
I woke up at 6am and walked myself to the "Swingin' 60's Center" (I am not joking. That was my polling location).

I lived in Louisiana during the last presidential election in 2004, and that was the first time that I voted in an actual voting booth. Before that it was absentee ballots for me. The voting booth in Brooklyn was so old!! It involved levers and switches. I felt like somehow I was not voting, but actually controlling the New York City Transit System.

There were many great things about the Swingin' 60's Center. First, it was run by many wonderful Brooklyn retirees who were old enough to say things like "now seal that up yourself, because otherwise we could change your vote. That's tempting, but I don't want to do that!"

Also there were two ladies looking for my name in the big book of registered voters. After they found it, one of them (who must have done this before) said "Now, in a case like that, if we hadn't found it, you would maybe look under 'Alma' since her name is unusual." That tickled me.

It was a perfect morning. Except that my favorite coffee place Gimme! Coffee was not open! What the heck!? Aren't coffee shops supposed to be open at 6am? what's the point of coffee.

Also, they didn't have the "I voted today!" sticker. Is it wrong that I wanted one? Someone else asked about them, thank goodness, because I would have felt like a two year old. Maybe I wouldn't have wanted it so badly, but that a cabbie yelled "Don't forget to vote!!" at me on my way to the polling center. I want to proclaim that I've done my civic duty, so that people don't yell at me. And I want to do it with a sticker.

Monday, November 3, 2008

OK! Last one, I swear!

Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
(I can only blog one photo at a time with my current methodology...)

An artist and his work

An artist and his work
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
One more.

Prabha's house!

Prabha cooking
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
I went out to New Jersey this weekend to visit my friend Prabha and her family. We had so much fun! Her son Pratyush is 4 years old and is the cutest child. (see below and above) We read books, we made scarves (ha ha) we played soccer, we went shopping, AND! Prabha and Praveen fed me millions of tasty things.

The picture is of Pakora which is batter dipped vegetables (green tomatoes! :) Isn't that the best pan you've ever seen? I am very enthusiastic about that pan. It is deeper than a wok and perfect in every way. Prabha said that I could get one in Little India. On this trip we drove through, but Pratyush was sleeping, so we drove a little further to do some shopping.

I wanted to go trick-or-treating, but Pratyush wouldn't let me, because it was already November and I didn't have a costume, so we painted instead. It was a whole lot of fun. Their home was so beautiful and colorful, and not at all beige.

Prabha said that she tried to make all the food as un-Indian as possible, which made me laugh. I told her that I had been drinking milk and having thoughts of curry all day. Can't wait to go back for another visit (next time with Drake!)

Speaking of Drake, I'll ask him to cover his ears for tomorrow's entry in which I tell about the rapper I met on the PATH train. (I'm trying to come up with a pseudonym to use for him... I don't want screw up his google results with my blog about knitting and opera )

I can't help it! People talk to me all the time. I think it's because of my overbite. I always look like I'm smiling...


Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
Could he possibly be ANY cuter?? Drake asked me if he was a "professional." He really could be, Prabha. If you want to surrender his childhood to the modeling industry... :)


Friday, October 31, 2008

Has God been sending me really exceptional street musicians on audition days on purpose?

When I'm on my way to an audition I generally don't want to be. I never want to be on the way. I'd rather be there just doing it. It's the on the way that gets me.

On the way I start to think about "mapping" my arias technically and dramatically, I try to give myself 3 vital check points in each where I will not cry or get carried away but will instead think of technical things like "placement" or "registers" or all of those other nice technical words that singers are wont to use....

Anyway, this morning I rushed into the subway late and tied in knots wondering if I should have brought the hairspray, since Tribeca is very windy... and there was a man singing spanish songs with a guitar in my stop. He had the most beautiful voice I've heard in a while. Not trained, but just a beautiful high tenor, so sweet. He was just sitting there singing quietly. No one asked him to, no one gave him permission to, no one paid him to, he was just offering it.

Is this starting to sound like a homily? I feel like some times priests/ministers have a book of touching anecdotes that they use.. And I feel like I just wrote one... sorry. BUT it was true! I was so moved! I seriously just stood there and cried and thought what has this come to in my life?? I am ridiculously obsessed with producing this "product" and it's ruining everything that I love about performing.

The funny thing is that this is not the first time I've realized it. I realized it when 3 drummers rode with me to my last audition too, and they got all in everyone's faces and they were like "there are alot of y'all who leave your soul at the door every morning and it's killing you! don't leave it at the door! Take it with you where you go! Don't let this City steal your soul, ladies and gentlemen...." (again, preachy.... but true!) They walked up and down the aisle looking everyone in the eye, and it didn't feel contrived. Of course it might have felt contrived if I were not TOTALLY smelling what they were stepping in, as it were.

So are they always there, and I only notice them when I'm on my way to an audition? I'm starting to think that maybe I ought to take note.
Or that I ought to bring my opera karaoke to the subway and enjoy my job....
On my way to another audition...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I have given myself a horrible headache from singing

This is the first time that this has happened to me. I was singing my 5-a-day just as the Doctor prescribed (my teacher told me to sing 5 high B-flats every day until my next lesson) and I *literally* had to sit down after every single one until my head stopped pounding.

Is this what you high-voiced people go through every day? How miserable!! It happened on A's as well, but it wasn't the same kind of awful throbbing. No wonder why I've always instinctively avoided these notes. self-protection.

I literally make a little hatch mark in my calendar for every high Bb so that I can honestly say that I've sung five that day. I almost couldn't get up off the bench for number 5 today, but you know how the 5th one is the cross-hatch and finishes the group. I like to finish things.

I am also starting to love some of the lyric arias I sing. I think I might like to try this out, singing the heroines instead of the mothers (or pirates)....

Sock progress report

As you can see, it's coming along. The tragedy of this is that I feel that it does not adequately represent the hard labor that I've invested in it so far. No wonder you can't find handmade wool socks anywhere these days! (a thunderous protest cry rends the air from the literally 10's of people with an interest in such things who cannot knit them for themselves)

I have spent at least 4 hours on this sock. Of course these are hours tallied from the minutes I steal on the subway and at other odd times when it's wholly inappropriate to wield five double pointed sticks. Also TV time. Thank God for TV in the knitting cause. I'm estimating that a full pair will take 24 hours of work so I'm looking for a new series to watch on Hulu. Drake wants me to watch Heroes. Any suggestions?

This weekend I'm going to visit my friend Prabha (hi Prabha!) in New Jersey. I am very much looking forward to it, and to playing with her cute son and baking cookies (or a pie, depending entirely on the severity of post-Haloween candy overload.) I should get in some good knitting time on the train... I'm aiming for one complete sock (at least!) by the end of the weekend. The heel turn will probably occur today or tomorrow. Don't worry, faithful reader(s?) I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Pie Face!
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
It's been a while since I spent a full fall season up North, and I am loving it. I find that all I want to do is sit at home and knit. Today I stood in the subway and knitted, and I think that I scared another (seated) passenger as I careened toward the empty seat beside him with my double pointed needles in hand...

I verbally assured him that I would not impale him. I then thought about the book that I read that was about Dracula... what the heck was the name of it. You know, that popular book that had a whole lot about impaling in it. Help me out, Kate.

I went on my lunch break to practice today, and am thrilled that I did. I've been wanting to practice more and more, and I thikn lunch is the perfect time to do it. I always have trouble practicing at home. I'm either really tired from a long day away, or I feel self conscious about screaming at the top of my lungs while neighbors are trying to enjoy their dinner.

I live in an Italian neighborhood (flags strung across the street, fire hydrants painted red white and green) so you would think that I'd assume they like it. I assume no such thing. Even though sometimes when Drake is singing, I can hear the man next door sing back through the wall. Even though one day when I was taking out the trash the boy next door made opera noises at me, and I told him he had great promise...

When I rent a practice room at the music school, I feel like I can make all the noise I want because I'm paying for the space/right to do so. Even then I sometimes feel like someone will come downstairs and ask me to stop. I think that's why I enjoy photography so much lately-- I don't feel as self-conscious about it. I never think that I'm bothering anyone with it.

In the next couple of weeks I'm going to make a recording and update my website. It's about time that my singing website catch up a bit in style slick-ness to my photography one. Or to the blogs for that matter. I may as well have animated emoticons it's so old...

Noro Kureyon #185

Noro Kureyon #185
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
Bought this yesterday as well-- how deliciously autumnal does it look? I cannot wait for it's stripeyness on my secret project.

Again, purchased at Knit New York which may soon become my official local yarn store....

Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn # 226

I stopped at Knit New York [] on the way home from work yesterday and bought my first skein of Noro for my first pair of socks.

I took it out of the bag on the subway and literally beamed at it all the way home. This is the first time that I've busted out all of my equipment to photograph yarn. I've never photographed un-worked yarn before! I cannot wait to make my socks.

Last night I started the toe, and I finished it this morning on the way to work. It is much more delicate work than I'm accustomed to. I have avoided socks for a very long time, finding no need for what seems like very fussy work to me. Recently, though I've felt the pull... I think it's because I cut the tops of all of my socks with scissors because they're always so tight. I'll post some progress pics soon.

Hat for husband

Turn a Square
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
I hope it fits him. He's in Florida right now (where he has positively no need for a hat)

I could have asked him to measure his head, but he never has a tape measure handy while traveling.

I did this in Paton SWS Soy/Wool blend. Alternating in "navy" (which I swear looks black, but I'm sure that Drake with his crazy color sensing will insist that of course it's navy) and a self striping gold/blue.

I'm a big fan of this yarn! it's very soft and easy to work with. Pleased all around. I think it's funny that it's soy. What a versatile bean....

Snail Hat

Snail Hat
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
Ummm... did I just figure out a way to blog from work? If so, then I think that you all (two) will be hearing a whooooole lot more from me.

I've been knitting up a storm, it being football season and all. So far this knitting season I have made:
several cork elves (more on that later)
2 hats (this one and the one I'll write about next if this works)

In the works:
1. man sweater
2. sweater for me
3. socks. I have avoided socks for years, but all of a sudden I need to make them. I am very thrilled, in fact to make my first pair!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

For the ones that got away

Two years ago I bought cashmere yarn and I started to knit "Fetching" from Knitty. I bought two pairs of circular knitting needles that were sooo smooth and wonderful and I was so glad when I finally finished the pair on a flight to visit Drake somewhere or other. Then, tragedy struck.

It wasn't until I packed up after the visit that I realized I had left my freshly finished project AND my new needles in my seat back pocket. TRAGEDY!!! all you knitters know what I'm talking about. I (naturally) called the airline, but to no avail. Someone somewhere has a pair of cashmere fingerless gloves and 2 sets of super smooth circular knitting needles, and I have nought but a wistful memory....

It took me two years to re-knit the pair, but I finally did it. They're not cashmere. I couldn't suffer that kind of loss in this economy...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

So I have this other blog now....

I'm afraid that my blogging may end up migrating entirely into my photography site. So Cam, as my sole subscriber, you should now subscribe to

I may or may not continue to contribute here periodically, who knows!

Friday, July 25, 2008

My other job

I find myself timing out my snacks and bathroom breaks in attempt to acheive things throughout the day. Make it to 10 AM and your reward is one plum. at 11:00 we will do some scanning and then at 12:30 a bathroom break. My acheivement? the successful passage of time. I have successfully acheived 2 hours of work. I have successfully gone 4.5 hours without using the restroom.

As an office interloper (temp) I find that these acheivements do stack up. No one cares if I successfully transfer calls, it's accepted. The fact that my one good kidney can last me 4.5 hours is a significant improvement in quality of life.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

To be or not to be

I feel like I'm in third grade again lately. In third grade, when we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up I remember thinking I wanted to be a singer, but I simultaneously thought that it didn't sound like a legitimate job. I think what I ended up with was Marine Bioligist. That sounded wicked smart, and fun- because you get to work with whales and dolphins up close.

Lately I've been wondering whether third-grade-me had the right idea. I have given serious and considerable thought to what else I would enjoy doing with my life- this again makes me feel like I'm in third grade as the options are:
Short essay writer
Toy knitter/crocheter
President (not really-but again, I like to appear respectable.)

Truth be told, I really love performing! Let it be known! Is opera the only way? I dunno. But I think it's the best way for me. It's strange and seems totally unnatural at times and you have to find a way to make sense out of it, and communicate what you found to someone else, and hope they understand you in spite of the fact that you are (in many cases) not speaking to them in their native tongue-and for that matter, not speaking at all, but singing-loudly- in their face.

In the end, I have decided to forgo my run at the presidency and give this opera thing 110% (don't you hate people who say that they give 110%?) I have always walked a middle line, never fully committing to the opera aesthetic, but have decided to put away musicals and comedy (no!!) for a little while and focus on the singing. "Prima la voce" as they say. I feel like I'm in a 12 step program. My name is Alta, and I'm an opera singer. This means I must focus more time/energy into perfecting my vocal technique.
Here we go.

I will, instead channel all of my personal hilarity into my writing, and into my knitting/crocheting. I will also start to talk more about opera here. I've not done this a lot before- which surprises me. Just giving my loyal readership a heads up (Cam, and Mom)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A chorus line

I don't consider myself to be horribly uncoordinated, and yet there are moments when I feel that I should reconsider my self-evaluation. Last week (or was it 2 weeks ago? It all runs together) we had a dance call to determine which of the singers would be used as "featured dancers." (actually they call them "singing dancers" to distinguish them from the "real dancers.")

I will mention without a hint of pride that I have been a featured dancer twice in the past, and come to think of it, it was in two separate comic kick lines... which might explain it. Once I was a Russian model with a giant hat in an "impromptu-models-of-the-world" kickline. The other time was in Pirates of Penzance in the With Cat-Like Tread encore. We had glittery hats. I am quite sure that I wrote about it here. It simply gets no better than a Pirate kick-line.

Now to others that were in attendance on that fateful dance call morn, what I'm about to describe may not have even registered with them (unless they were among the fallen.) I should mention too, that I left my bag of dance shoes in NYC in the big rush to Des Moines after Drake's graduation in Texas. I decided that my black puma ballet flats would do. (no buckle, no tie.)

I'll keep this short, cause it all happened within a minute. So all the ladies are holding hands in a circle and we are to do a grapevine which gets progressively faster until we are running with this simple dance pattern. One of my shoes flew off, and one of them simply stayed on the floor where my foot had been and where the other 20 girls were about to step since we were holding hands and running in a circle. Needless to say everyone tripped and the tripping stopped only with the dance instructors intervention. The show must go on, and such.

I don't recall anyone actually hitting the floor, so much as a great and growing stentorian outcry as each colleague twisted an ankle or disrupted the pattern. I confessed promptly, since I was the only one left entirely shoeless in the course of events and hid in the back of the room for the rest of the morning.

I was not selected as a featured dancer, even a funny one this year. But then again I bet none of the selected dancers ever got to rock a Pirate Kick Line.... ;)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

4 mile race with Brie

Ran a 4 mile race in Central Park today. That was fun. My time was about what it always is--about 48 minute (12 minute mile) A nice trot it was.

Didn't think I would end up running at all when I woke up at 5am with a migraine-- but fortunately I took medicine and it passed and I drank a "Sports Drink" and sucked it up and ran. It still surprises me that that's something I do now. Even if I don't do it as regularly as when I lived in the south...

Central Park is an awesome place to run a race. So much to see! Zoos and aquariums and weirdos. I love it

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Reconstructing Papa Smurf

Before & After

Today I had intended to sleep all day. When this didn't happen, I had to think about something that would make me happy to get up and start my day. The smurf doll has been on the bookcase opposite my bed since we moved to Brooklyn in November and this morning when I sat up, I decided that nothing would make my day brighter than to reconstruct him. What could be better on a lazy Saturday than re-making smurfs??? What I ask you?!

This smurf has a long history. As many of you know, I grew up with Memere, and she was a constant crafter. She was constantly making stuff, and she taught me how to make stuff. There was a time in the early 80's that she was into toy making, did a bunch of dolls, and did a series of Sesame Street characters as well as some Smurfs. I wanted a Smurf SO BAD. She told me if I wanted one I'd have to make it myself. The pattern is complicated, so I started with a doll, and once I had finished that, I lost interest.

Flash forward 20 years to a couple Christmases ago, when Mem had laid out her whole inventory and told us all to take whatever we wanted. Needless to say, I went for the smurf, and he sat a spell in storage, and he sat a spell on the bookcase until this morning when my project began.

First I cut off his hat, eyes, nose, ears and arms. (I had no need to remove a beard, since my mom had ripped it off that Christmas. She said "I always hated that beard. It looks awful") Memere has 47 grandchildren. She was a toy factory. Needless to say, some of the details fell through the cracks. I had to undo about half of his head in order to get the stuffing out, and found something strange! She had stuffed him with an old cut up quilt! How resourceful that Mem is. So I restuffed him and put him back together, made him a new beard (hopefully mother won't rip it off, though she has already threatened...)

Ahhhh... what a great morning!

Monday, April 7, 2008

9, 9, 1, 100

I met George outside of my neighborhood liquor store tonight. He's always there, holding a cup and a cell phone. He talks to everyone as they walk by, but only people who he knows are listening. I've always had my headphones on, and am usually on my way to the grocery store.

Today I went into the liquor store to get some wine, and gave him a dollar on my way out, and he said "Wait! you've been looking for me, haven't you!" Truth be told, I was. He's a bit of an institution on our block, and I'm always interested in meeting interesting characters.

Once we established that I'd been looking for him, he told me the answer I'd been looking for; it's 9, 9, 1, and 100. Now I just have to find the question. When I find it, I'm supposed to report back to him. He said I'd see it within the month.

He also said that while I am a very nice lady, he doesn't like Hilary Clinton one bit.

I've been thinking about the numbers a great deal, because I have no doubt that they will somehow manifest themselves into my life. It works like that more often than reason would suggest.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Crochet Weekend 2008!

So... Kate and I had a weekend devoted solely to crochet toys and here's what happened....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Investment Banking, Valkyries, and Canolis

So am I allowed to still call my blog "Texification" if I am very clearly ensconced in New York City? How strange to have spent 4 years in the South wondering how I got there and then to end up in NYC wondering how I ever got back. Life is funny.

Drake and I got temp jobs right away, which was good. I'm in a long term assignment in Global Corporate Financial Strategy. Isn't that funny too? Don't I strike you as the Corporate type?

We've done many fun things since arriving in NYC we've seen the Dress rehearsal for Die Walkure, which was 5 HOURS LONG. I knew that going into it, but man alive. The third act is the very best act of all. The problem with this is that it doesn't come until the end, and by that time it's almost too late. Almost. I think the scene with the Valkyries is as close as opera singers will ever come to rock stars. When those ladies come out hoi-yo to-ho-ing I wanted to mosh or body surf or light something on fire. As soon as they left the stage I fell promptly to sleep. Drake got mad at me but, as I pointed out, Brunnhilde and Wotan were in exactly the same spot on the stage when I woke up 40 minutes later and I could hear them just fine with my eyes closed.

We also went to a movie premiere. Our friend works for Picturehouse which released "The Orphanage" (presented by the guy who did Pan's Labyrinth.) SO GREAT! so suspenseful and thrilling. And the after-party was great. Many tasty little foods. I love eating.

Speaking of eating.... have I mentioned the deliciousness of the canolis at Fortunato Brothers near my house? MAN ALIVE. these are tasty little devils. Historically, canolis have not been my poison, but now I think about them all the time. We happened upon them one night while re-parking the car. Re-parking the car is a hateful chore, but in this instance it yielded a tasty discovery. Like an oasis in the desert, a single parking spot materialized in front of the bakery and presented us this tasty dessert. Now there is no other dessert for me.

I get like this with desserts. I become entirely consumed with consuming them. For most of my childhood it was Twinkies (not dessert you say? well don't be so elitist.) It was Twinkies until my Aunt Denise encouraged me to eat as many of them as I wanted all in one sitting until I didn't want to eat anymore. I ate the whole box (12?) and never glanced sideways at a twinkie since.