Wednesday, October 05, 2005

the "stop" button

Someone at Zingerman's Bakehouse needs to find their "stop" button. They assaulted my circular piece of dough (which, silly me, I thought was an everything bagel) and turned it into a damn pretzel.

Can you see the salt crystals on that thing? Being Zingerman's of course the salt is supersized sea salt--the size of about 3 sesame seeds or double a kosher crystal--and this morning's-circular-pretzel is about as saline as they come.

And this is coming from me, a salt lover.

What am I doing photographing my bagel at 4:30 in the morning? Why procrastinating of course! I'm way too neurotic/excited about my trip to be sleeping at this hour and one of the top items on my list of crap to do before leaving is clean the cat's poop box. So here I sit, bitching about a bagel.

Not only am I here, blogging about a heavy handed bakehouse employee, I'm also eating the oversalted circular pretzel (and no, I did not take the time to pick the excess salt off). It's a little hard to get down without thinking of how seawater burns your throat when you accidentally swallow it when swimming in the ocean (another reason to love the Great Lakes--no salt in the water--though of course no lobsters either...) but hey, at least at 4:30 am, my tastebuds aren't quite awake yet.

You all do know about the only affordable way to buy Zingerman's bagels, yes? I think these puppies are about a buck a piece regularly but on Tuesdays, that unassuming day in which (apparently) people don't eat enough bagels, Zingerman's sells a dozen bagels at half price. Yes, they are fresh, not day-old. And no, they won't sell you one bagel at half price; you have to purchase the whole hopping dozen. If you are picky about your flavors, you need to get there early because by the end of the day you may only have curry bagels to choose from (I don't actually know if they still have curry bagels, but I saw them there last year and thought they were an abomination and have averted my eyes ever since from any bagel with that tumeric-ish glow).

And the folks at the Bakehouse, bless them, have absorbed enough of their Zingtrain seminars not to sneer at you as a clear cheapskate when you come in and order the half price dozen and a loaf of the bread-of-the-month (also the only way I can regularly afford their bread, though the did pop the price up $.50 this month--Farm Bread is $3.50 a loaf rather than $2.99).

Yesterday I actually violated my tightwad principles and bought a little spinach pine-nut quiche to eat on the plane tonight. I justified the price by thinking of it as defensive stomach protection that one should have to board an aircraft. Kind of like a life vest for the tummy. (It will probably make my tummy look rather like a life vest).

And since this is already a rambling, slightly hysterical (not as in funny, as in wound a little too tight for comfort) post, with an utter excess of parenthesis (that's how my brain functions at 4:30 am), I might as well go off on a ramble about Tuesdays.

Apparently Tuesdays are a popular tightwad day, perhaps because of the alliterative quality of the phrase Tightwad Tuesday. The Briarwood movies have re-opened as a tightwad house; there has been a void since the Fox Village closed for those of us not willing to spend $19 for a movie with our sweetie. But now Briarwood has opened to fill that void (until they too realize that their business plan is destined for failure). Briarwood Dollar Movies 4 has set prices at $1 before 6 PM and $1.50 after 6 PM and, get this, 50 cents all day Tuesday!

Back when I lived in Berkeley there was a Theater on Solano Ave that had Tightwad Tuesdays and it was the only way, as a grad student, that I got to go to films. And now, oh joy, there is one in that little imitation Berkeley of the Midwest, Ann Arbor. There are certain films that are not much fun on our little bitty TV at home (limited in its size since it is housed in an antique ice box)--namely dopey fun action films. But I am loath to spend $19 to go see a film like that.

I'll be seeing you other tightwads at the Briarwood movies on Tuesday evenings, and yea, I'd be happy to bring you a tightwad bagel/pretzel to enjoy with your film. (The big hitch in this plan is that my knitting group meets on Tuesday evenings at Sweetwaters. But there has been some talk of having a Thursday evening meet up at the new Caribou Coffee where the old Food and Drug used to be.)

Hey, thanks for still being with me! I didn't think you'd make it this far what with all the insane rambling...but wait! There's more!

I need to send out a quick blessing to Sarah who has come to the rescue by loaning me a set of size 2 bamboo double pointed needles so I can continue knitting my sock on the airplane. Emily, the knitting chemist, was kind enough to send me this link from the Transportation Security Administration with lots of info about knitting needles. If you had gone to their basic list of permitted and banned items you would have thought that any knitting needle was OK and since there is no link to the special considerations page that Emily located you would have risked confiscation of your Addi Turbos.

I am particularly paranoid about them taking my needles (and thus depriving me of my sanity) since yesterday I read The Yarn Harlot's latest post about her misadventures knitting on a flight with a "weenie" (her word and such an apt one) who felt "threatened" by her double pointed needles. I read most of the comments (no small feat since last I checked there were 266 comments--the Harlot has quite a following) and my favorite was this one written by a knitting flight attendant:

Right after 9-11, I was flying to London and it was a three day trip. No way was I going to be without my knitting for three days. Unlike passengers, F/A's don't check their luggage, so I did the next best thing and put my bamboo circulars in my bra, hoping I wasn't going to get patted down. Never did have a problem at all. I always will have my knitting. Even during an emergency evacuation, Guess what I will be bringing down the slide?

I knew there was a disadvantage to being small breasted. No way could I pack bamboo circulars in my bra without looking like I had some sort of shunt-like medical device attacking me.

It turns out that Bakehouse employee is not the only one who needs to find the "stop" button--ok, I'm finally going to punch mine and go clean out that cat's poop box.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A flurry of activity

I think I may have forgotten to mention that I'm leaving for a trip to Germany and France on Wednesday. Brian has a work trip at the Nuerburgring (a humongous race track) in Germany. He left yesterday and I'm going to meet him on Wednesday. The way the track works he is, get this, NOT ALLOWED TO WORK from Friday noon till Tuesday morning. During the week he tests and calibrates cars on the ring, but on the weekend, the place is booked with real races. He isn't even able to stay in the hotel there over the weekend because it is full up with people coming to the races.

So this is an enforced vacation weekend and rather than leave him to explore on his own, I am going to join him. I leave on Wednesday evening and fly back Tuesday morning so that is 5 full days in Europe. It also helps in the justification that Brian's birthday is Friday (which we plan to celebrate at "the highest beer garden in Trier") and we just passed our 6th wedding anniversary so we can wrap a whole bunch of celebrating into one trip.

We plan to leave the ring on Friday and go to Trier, then two days in Strasbourg (where Brian has been many times, again, on work trips) and then one day in Heidelberg before I fly back. He stays at the ring for the rest of the week. It has been so damn long since I've been to Europe--the old pre-Euro days--and I've never been to this part of Germany or France.

I'm a little nervous, not about the travel, but because this will be the first time I'm away from the kids for more than two nights in 5.5 years! The grannies are teaming up to care for them and the kids will probably be in high heaven while I'm gone, getting away with murder and allowed to eat pizza for dinner every night. I know day 1 and 2 will feel terrific--I'm even looking forward to an 8 hour flight in Coach class because that means lots of time to read and knit. But I am fully prepared to freak out on day 3 and miss my critters so much that I won't be able to breathe.

Don't I sound like a fun person to travel with? Oy....Hopefully Brian and I will still remember how to function as a couple without our usual two small human appendages.

I'm trying to channel my anticipated anxiety into useful actions before leaving--doesn't one have to clean out the freezer and sort through the kids' outgrown toys and clothes before leaving? At least I am not alone in this flurry of activity. On Saturday Brian (who is usually is the clear winner in the sanity department in our marriage) decided that the basement had to be cleaned out before he left, because you know you can't enjoy Europe with a dirty basement at home. He also went through about 5 years worth of old paid bills and account statements and shredded so much paper that the shredder was smoking. So maybe there is a neurotic soul hiding under that Dude-like mellow exterior.

I should be doing a little research on the web about what one should not miss in the specific locations we are visiting (besides my obvious desire to eat everything yummy and peruse available yarn), but I gotta go clean out that freezer...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Knitting en plein air

Gotta practice my French (and the possibly irretrievably rusty German) for my upcoming trip, so here is my knitting helping me out by modeling en plein air.

Here is what two socks on one circular needle looks like when the knitter has a problem with tangles:

Those two balls of Knitpicks Essential sock yarn in Grass look like their are gently flanking the mess on the needles, but don't let them fool you. If I blink, they have wound their way around each other in a knot. So despite the lovely step-by-step instructions that Keely pointed me to on the web, I think knitting two socks on one circ is gonna drive me batty. I love the idea of finishing both socks at the same time, but fear that my problem with tangles leaves me ineligible for such a technique. So I'm going to rip out one of the socks and just proceed in my plodding old magic loop one sock at a time way.

In other miscellaneous projects, I present a whole lot of knitted spaghetti:

Am I on a strange diet where one knits food rather than eating it? Moi? (little more French practice) Mais non! Instead I am attempting to knit a Flying Spaghetti Monster (and if you have already checked out the web site, go back. It has been updated and is funnier than ever). Hillary Lang sewed a meatball-less version and on Flickr there are a number of other attempts but so far no knitted versions, so when I need something truly brainless, I knit I-cord spaghetti. I am still in search of the perfect meatball textured and colored yarn--I'm thinking maybe a boucle will look sort of meaty. If you spy something that you think would work for meatball, please let me know!