Posts Tagged ‘knitting

08
May
09

Patterns

It’s hard
In knitting to
Keep on repeating; In
Life it’s nearly impossible
To stop.

13
Feb
09

Fate Pays The Rent (Fifth Installment)

Chapter 2

“Did you get them?”
“You and me? We’re not talking.”
Jeff’s cell phone buzzed. He looked at the caller ID, flipped the phone open and held it out to Clement. Clement backed away from it mouthing, “Who is it?” Jeff dangled the phone by the antenna and made as if to drop it. Clement grabbed it and snarled, “Hello? No, ma’am. I’m sorry I don’t. It was no bother at all and that sounds delicious. I hope you find it and if you ever want plain breaded chicken strips, please call me again.” He snapped the phone shut and dropped it roughly onto Jeff’s desk.
“Why in the hell would you give me that phone call?”
“I talked to the man from Leonard’s Market.”
“We’re supposed to talk to people on the phone. That’s how we get the orders for the chicken strips.” He sighed. “Look in your drawer and see if you have a file for ‘King Foods’. Well?”
“Not in here.”
“Yeah, me neither.”
“What did she want?”
“She wanted some chicken, green pepper and kalamata olive sausages.”
“That sounds good. I wish we did sell that.”
“I wish I knew why she was calling us when she’s not our customer. Yesterday we had the man from the market and he wasn’t ours either. What is going on?”
“Beats me.”
“Well, until you figure it out and even then you and I are not talking to each other. At all.”
“Geez, man. What happened?”
“You’re not listening. You and I? Not talking.”
“Oh, man. You got busted last night, didn’t you? Were you on the way in? On the way out? What happened?”
“Oh, I talked to the cops all right. But I wasn’t on the way in or on the way out. I never even got near the place except for the sidewalk out in front of it.”
“What? What the hell happened?”
“Remember the lifetime ago called ‘yesterday’? Remember when I asked you what this guy’s schedule was?”
“Yeah, and I told you.”
“Do you remember telling me that the son of a gun leaves a light on all the time even when he’s not there?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“Because I didn’t know. Was he there? Did he catch you? Is he the one that called the police?”
“I have no idea if he was there or not because I never tried to go in. I saw the light and I figured I better keep an eye on the place and I ended up riding the bus until 3 a.m. at which time the buses stopped running and I walked over and passed out in a Shari’s.”
“Why did you pass out in a Shari’s?”
“Because I didn’t have any change left to call you to come get me when this was your party in the first place. So I walked all the way over to the Shari’s because it was near his office and I fell asleep and somebody called the cops or maybe they came in on their own and the next thing I know I’m face down in my hash browns with two waitresses and two cops staring at me like I’m about to grow horns.”
“Did they arrest you?”
“For sleeping on my toast? No no. They just gave me a ride to the bus stop and told me to be more careful next time. And the Mexican kid didn’t actually beat me up over the poppers either.”
“Poppers? Where the hell were you?”
“Not poppers, poppers. With the jalapeno and the cream cheese. What’s with you people and the drugs? The cop last night thought the same thing when I said ‘poppers’. Right away everybody’s talking about drugs. You fall asleep in the Shari’s and people think you’re on drugs. You wanna buy a snack at a little store and get a drink and some change for the bus and right away people think you must be talking about drugs.”
“Okay, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything. It’s just when you said you passed out and you almost got beaten up then I thought-“
“Yeah, I know what you thought.”
“What time did you go to the office?”
“The last time I was standing outside was about midnight but I also went by on the bus.”
“Well, he wasn’t there at midnight. He always leaves by 8:30 on Tuesdays; He wants to watch the results of ‘Dancing with the Stars’. He loves that show.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“You’re going back, right?”
“Did you hear nothing I just told you? I could have got killed last night. I could have got arrested.”
“But you didn’t. You’re not just gonna quit, are you?”
“Yes.”
“How can you do that?”
“Like this: ‘Jeff, old buddy, I had about three hours of sleep not counting the one on the bacon. I had to take a bus over here today because my car is in the shop for repairs it doesn’t need. If you want the pictures that maybe don’t even exist of a girl you shouldn’t even be seeing then you go over there and get them yourself.”
“I can’t.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Because if he did show up and he saw me then he’d know why I was there and he’d call the police and say I was harassing him.”
“Oh, right. And if he showed up and saw me and had no idea who the hell I was or why I was there then I guess he’d feel just fine offering me a cup of coffee and his take on the football game the naked woman showed up for.”
“Did you see that?”
“No, I did not see that because they don’t yet have televisions on the buses. I heard about it from one of the cops who escorted me to the bus stop. My point is that you’d have a lot better chance of getting in there because you could tell him you were there to get something your girlfriend left. Make some remark about women and how they’re always forgetting something and he’ll laugh and you’ll laugh and you’ll go home to your own bed. I’ve already met the cops in that general vicinity and they made it clear they don’t want to be seeing me again.” He walked over to the desk, got his mug, pulled the spigot on the industrial-size coffeepot, and frowned at the trace amount of coffee that came out. “You might think that after the night I had, I could have more than three drops of coffee.”
“Oh, that’s my bad. It’s just that it takes an hour and a half to make enough coffee to fill that thing up so I always wait but one cup is pretty fast. Regular?”
“Of course.” Clement watched Jeff flip the switch on the coffeemaker then walk to the window that faced the brick wall. He stood looking out, saying nothing but Clement could see the muscles in his arms tense as his fists formed and reformed in his jacket pockets. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Jeff whirled around without taking his hands out and was off balance for a moment. “I just thought we were better friends than this. How am I gonna tell her that you didn’t get the pictures? I told her last night and she was so happy. She was clapping and dancing up and down and kissing me and now I’ve gotta tell her it wasn’t true.”
“Well, it’s not true.”
“But I don’t want to have to tell her that. She was so happy last night. Between that and the slacker cave man, it was an amazing night.”
“I don’t need to hear this.”
“You do need to hear it. She was like Eva Longoria and Britney before she got skanky. I felt like Justin Timberlake.”
“Holy crap.”
“I can’t go tell her and have her take it all back. You have no idea what she did last night.”
“Yeah. Which is fine with me.”
“Please, don’t make me tell her it isn’t true.”
“Fine, I’ll tell her. I’m not getting anything off her. Not that I wanna be. Take your hands out of your pockets. You’re not gonna punch me. This is ridiculous.”
“You don’t understand.” Jeff filled the mug with coffee and handed it to Clement along with four sugars. “Nobody’s gonna have to tell her it isn’t true because it’s going to be true.”
Clement reached into the small refrigerator for the milk. “Come again?”
“You can go back tonight. Now that you know he’s not there. I’ll even go over with you and wait while you see if everything’s okay. If it’s not, you jump in the car and we haul our butts out of there before there’s any trouble. If everything’s fine, you go in and get the pictures and I’ll pick you up someplace else. You know the area, right?”
“Oh yeah.”
Jeff wheeled the chair back to his desk and bounced happily into it. “So you know where we can meet up afterwards. He’ll be out early tonight. He gets his hair done at that men only barbershop where they give you hand massages and stuff. Then he’ll want to watch-. Let’s see, it’s Wednesday. ‘Pushing Daisies’. He likes the knitted desk accessories.”
“What’s wrong with this guy?”
“What do you mean?”
“Geez, he watches ‘Dancing with the Stars’. He watches ‘Pushing Daisies’ for the knitting. That’s not normal.”
“A lot of people watch ‘Dancing with the Stars’.”
“Not guys. Not normal guys.”
“Twenty-seven million people watched ‘Pushing Daisies’ the first week. Some of those had to be normal guys.”
“And how do you know all this stuff? How do you know where he gets his hair cut and what TV shows he likes?”
“Mari talks to him.”
“A lot?”
“What?”
“Does she talk to him a lot? Tell me- how many times a week would you say that your girlfriend is talking with her ex-boyfriend?”
“I dunno. Two times a week, maybe three.”
“Does that seem like a lot to you?”
“I dunno. I never really thought about it. What are you trying to say? Oh, I get it. You’re trying to say she isn’t really done with him so why should we do this. Right? You’re trying to tell me she’s too close and they’re gonna get back together.”
“I’m not trying to say anything.”
“You know what? There’s people in California who live with their exes. Susan Powter and her husband lived right in the same building as her ex-husband so they could all raise the kids. We don’t live with Mari’s ex-boyfriend and even if we did it wouldn’t matter because I love her and I trust her. You don’t know, man. You weren’t there last night.”
“Easy. Easy. I wasn’t saying any of that. I’m just going back to the idea that if they’re so close that they’re talking a bunch of times a week then she could just ask him for the pictures.”
“But she doesn’t know if he took any.”
“She could ask him that then and save everyone a lot of trouble, keep them from getting carried out of a Shari’s.”
“She can’t ask him. If she asks him and he says ‘yes’ then she has to see whether or not he’s gonna give them back to her. If she asks him and he says ‘no’ then either it looks like she wanted him to take some and he never did or it looks like she thinks he’s the kind of person who would take pictures like that.”
“She broke up with him, right?”
“Well, yeah.”
“Then why in the holy hell does she care what he thinks of what she thinks of him or about him or him thinking about her. Oh, god. My head is starting to hurt. There is not enough coffee in the world to make this a good day.”
“Just do it, huh? She was so happy. And I’ll go with you. You’re right. It wasn’t very fair of me to ask you to do this by yourself while I was home having the kind of night most guys only dream of.”
“It’s okay. It was a little rough in places.” They both laughed. “But what was I gonna do otherwise? Watch ‘Dancing with the Stars’?”
“Or reruns of ‘BattleStar Galactica. Ha!”
“Be careful there, my friend. No dissing on ‘BattleStar Galactica’.”
“So we’re on for tonight?”
“This is so frigging stupid.” He sighed. “Yeah, all right. We get out here early, go pick up my car which has nothing wrong with it, have some dinner and get the pictures.”
“Sperm to worm and womb to tomb.”
“What did I say about that? Especially when I got three hours sleep in a bed and one in the hash browns.”
“Sorry, man. I’m just happy.”

13
Jan
09

Respite

I am knitting
And waiting for the socks to be dry
So the child can put them on
And go to school.
Cars are whooshing by on the wet road.
I hear the tappity-tap as the child checks e-mail.
The only other sound’s the whirr of the dryer
As it demoisturizes the socks.
It would be so easy to make a cup of tea,
To settle back on the couch, lulled into peacefulness by the cars
And the purr of the dryer.
Too late, she’s in the room with me now
Demanding news of the disposition of her socks.

12
Jan
09

Where I’m From

I’m from Till Death Do Us Part, My wife I think I’ll keep her, and
Sometimes people grow in different directions.
I’m from grape Popsicles and drinking out of the hose.
Kick the can, Adventure, and Sims 2.
My bologna has a first name and I Wanna Be Sedated.
I’m from schmutz, schmuck, schmaltz and schadenfreude.
Sesquipedelian ambitions and pedestrian results.
Cherry pie for breakfast and insulin at bedtime.
Spring rolls and spring training.
Knit one purl one half-double crochet.
Casablanca and That’s Amore.
Songs About Jane and Kurt Cobain.
I’m from Black Power, Gray Power, Fight the Powers That Be.
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
J-O-Y is spelled “Jesus Others You” and “relief” is spelled R O L A I D S.
I’m from Captain Crunch, Captain America and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.
I’m from Isaac Mizrahi and Isaac Newton.
I’m sitting on the third-base side of home plate and I shall watch your future career with great interest.

11
Dec
08

An Unanswered Call

I was sitting under the pie cherry tree, trying to puzzle out where I’d purled and should have knitted, when a shadow fell on my work. I looked up to see the old man from across the street with a coffee mug dangling from one hand.

“Whatcha makin’?” He said.

“It’s a dishcloth.”

“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one quite like that before,” he said. “But you know, if you made the holes smaller and closer together you could always pour coffee through it instead of using a filter in the pot. Or you could use it to keep your egg salad from being too runny.” I pulled one of the needles from the mess on my lap and started frogging it. “Why don’t you just buy ‘em at Wal-Mart like everybody else?”

“I wanted to make Christmas presents this year instead of buying them so I could save some money and give people something they’d really appreciate,” I said.

“Now if you were really smart,” he said, “you’d be spending your time making something you could sell for a lot of money. If you had money you could take your whole family to the beach and dig for clams and I guarantee they’d appreciate fresh clam chowder more than a handmade egg salad filter.”

“A lot of money?”

“Guaranteed.”

“And where would I sell this thing?”

“Anywhere. The feed store. Country Home magazine. E-Bay. You know people make thousands of dollars on E-Bay. I’ve got a nephew, Charles Trask, and he made $150,000 on E-Bay last year selling duck eggs and the tubes out of old radios.”

“Wow. What’s this thing I’d be making and selling?” The old man held up the mug.

“I don’t suppose you happen to have any coffee? I could sure do with a cup while I explain all this.”

“Of course. You sit down right here.” I got him settled into a chair, filled his mug and one for me, then returned to the porch. He likes to have our chats out where everyone can see. The invisible is always more controversial than the visible. That’s why there are so many fights about God and oil and so few about grass and cherry Tootsie Pops.

The old man took a long sip, gave his lips a satisfied smack and said, “Goose clothes.”

“What?”

“You should be making and selling clothes for geese. Everybody’s buying them in the stores.”

“Clothes for geese? But geese have feathers, don’t they? I mean, they molt and the feathers fall out or people pull them out and put them in pillows but it’s hard to believe there’d be much call for actual clothes. Couldn’t they just put those canvas things on them like they do the sheep at the Fair?”

“These aren’t real geese. They’re pretend geese.”

“Pretend geese?” The old man shook his head and drank some more coffee.

“I guess we ain’t got all the city out of you yet. You mean to tell me you’ve been here all this time and you’ve never seen a goose dressed like Santa with the eight antlered geese pulling his sleigh?”

“Umm…no.”

“Dressed like a nurse?”

“No.”

“I know you saw the goose over at the Custer’s place that was dressed like Uncle Sam.”

“No. I’m sorry. Was it cute?” The old man set his mug on the arm of his chair and some coffee sloshed out of it.

“Cute? It was darn right inspirational. Bill Custer said he could barely sleep nights for all the members of the VFW hall driving by with tears running down their cheeks. Those men gave a lot for their country and they were mighty proud to see that goose there representing all they’d fought and maybe died for.” He leaned closer to me and said quietly, “But you see it’s the clothes that make the goose. And you could be making the clothes.”

“But I don’t know anything about goose clothes and even if I made them how would I sell them?”

“Well,” the old man said, taking up his mug again and tilting it to check the level of the coffee still inside, “That’s the easiest part of all- getting the word out. You see my wife-“

“Former wife,” I said.

“Yes, yes. My former wife, who lives next door there,” he indicated a peeling lilac single-wide with his head, “she has a birthday coming up in about three weeks. I happen to know that she would dearly love a dressed-up goose of her very own. I done some research on that Internet and I found out that a painted goose runs about $60.00 and an unpainted goose will run you about $50.00.”

“Gosh,” I said. “For that much money you could just take her to the beach and dig some clams.” The old man shook his head and his coffee mug. I got refills for both of us and he said, ”I don’t intend to spend anywhere near that much money on my as you say ‘former’ wife.”

“Then how will you give her one of those geese? Are you going to carve one out of wood?”

“Now, never you mind how I’m going to handle the goose end of this,” he said. “Your job is making the clothes. I’ve been thinking about this and it seems to me we should keep it simple.”

“Seems that way to me, too.”

“But at the same time since this is gonna be your first goose suit for people to see you want something to really make an impression. Lucky for you we have the holiday coming up.” The holidays just ahead were Easter and April Fools Day. If I couldn’t knit a basic dishcloth there was no way I could produce a Harlequin costume. Maybe one of those long hats with the bells on it?

“And you know my wife spends a lot of time down to the church,” he continued. I did know that. Since the church was at the end of the road on one side of me and the old man’s former wife lived at the end of the road on the other side of me I saw her go by and wave each way of each trip. She was seriously religious. Not only did she go to both services on Sunday, she went to prayer meeting and Bible study on Tuesday night. I’d always thought of Wednesday as being the night designated for this activity so I was kind of surprised. Maybe they wanted to get their requests in early so they’d have a jump on the other Protestants. But what would that have to do with dressing a goose? A light bulb started to go on over my head but I quickly hid it under a bushel. No…

“So I was thinking what could be more perfect and inspirational than Jesus,” he concluded.

“Jesus?”

“Couldn’t be easier. All you got to do is make one of those dishcloth things like you’re making now except longer and without so many holes. I can whittle a crook out one of them grape branches in about fifteen minutes. We put the rod part in one of his hands and wrap your swaddling cloth around him and over one shoulder and that woman over there has a happy birthday and you have more business than you can handle.”

“Well…”

“There is no reason why this won’t roll smooth as water off a duck’s back,” he said. He stood, handed me the cup which now contained one-sixteenth of an inch of coffee and a dog’s hair, and said, “I’d better let you get to work.” When he was halfway across the yard towards his house he turned and yelled, “Blue. Her favorite color is blue. This is going to be a day to remember.”

The old man was right about his plan as far as it went. There were no obvious flaws in it. Unless you count gifting someone with a faux cement goose who has no idea they’re getting anything of the kind. I just want to be clear right here that the shameful thing that eventually happened could not have been foreseen and as such cannot really be blamed on either the instigator- the old man- or the instigated- me.

A couple times a week for the next three weeks, I carried my growing Jesus dishcloth across the street so my co-conspirator could make approving clucking noises over it. The blue was just the right shade, he told me, and there were, in fact, a lot fewer holes than in my earlier work. Several times I prodded him about the bird he’d be providing but he remained mysterious.

Easter Sunday arrived bright but overcast. The old man was soon at my door with an empty cup and some questions.

“Did you finish the robe?”

“The what?”

“The dishcloth. Jesus’s dishcloth.”

“Oh, yeah. I finished it last night.”

“Do you have any brown yarn?”

“Brown? The robe is supposed to be blue, right?”

“Yes.”

“But now you need brown?”

“Yes.” The old man was tight-lipped except for the space through which my coffee was disappearing.

“Will I find out why?”

“Soon,” he said. He refilled his cup, took the skein of java-colored worsted from my hand and departed.

When you spend as much time- and money- at church as the woman in the lavender mobile home did, you tend to become pretty highly thought of. The more you contribute the more you are likely to be held up as someone for others to aspire to resemble. It is not inconceivable that altar calls will be held in your honor and just such an event occurred this particular Easter morning.

For those who have never experienced an altar call, perhaps it is best described as being something like an infomercial on the Home Shopping Channel. The minister gives an impassioned and sometimes tearful speech detailing the benefits of salvation. He goes on to explain that salvation may be something you haven’t had and haven’t known you needed until now. He winds up by saying that now that you do realize the necessity of salvation you should really get some and, if you’ll only get out of your seat and come forward, people are standing by to help you. Then he clasps his hands and looks prayerful and the choir sings something encouraging but nonintrusive and folks start walking up the aisle. Usually there’s just one or two at first but then they start coming in bunches. Whole families sometimes. But not this Easter Sunday morning. This day the preacher prayed and the voices chorused but not a single soul responded.

“If you’ve been thinking about this for a while, I urge you to make the decision now,” the preacher said. “Don’t let another moment pass before you claim your salvation.” The choir sang “Blessed Assurance”.

“I am waiting. Salvation is waiting. Our sister here, who could become your sister, is waiting. Don’t wait any longer.” The choir sang “Rock of Ages”.

“They say that opportunity knocks once but Jesus keeps knocking until you answer. Will you let Jesus remain outside on the porch of your heart or will you invite him in?” The preacher turned to the choir and hushed them. The church was silent except for the breathing of the congregation and the scritch of the pencil someone was using to play connect-the-dots on page 427 of their hymnal. The sound that came next was all the more horrible for the quiet that preceded it. The minister’s wife had just taken two steps towards her husband and said, “You may be wondering what’s going on today” when we heard it. A great rending and slurping first. The slam of a screen door. Someone with a stick flailing wildly about in a multitude of yelping dogs. A stream of Bowdlerized and strangled oaths. A pencil and hymnal thumped onto the carpet, the church door slammed, and a little boy was on his way to view the carnage. Suddenly the old man shoved his way through the door. He strode to the front of the church, grabbed his former wife by the arm, dragged her along behind him, all the while shouting, “Hurry up! Hurry up! Those damn dogs are eating Jesus!” Thrusting her through the door ahead of him he yelled, ”Happy birthday! Oh, those damn damn dogs!”

Jesus’s blue dishcloth robe and the wig of brown yarn had been shredded and the bits were strewn on the grass like a tailor’s ticker tape parade. All that remained of the fine carcass they had adorned was a few chunks of the white plastic of the outer bag and the yellowish plastic that had held the giblets.

With an eye towards economy, the old man had suited up a frozen turkey intending to allow it to thaw on display and to cook it that afternoon. The thawing time ran long because the altar call ran long. The altar call ran long because, unbeknownst to the minister, he shared the former wife’s birthday and as soon as the sermon was over he’d be given his presents and pictures would be taken and no one wanted to be up front for that.

As it turned out the old man was right and wrong: I didn’t get any business but we surely made an impression. And it was, indeed, a day to remember.