Thursday, January 30, 2014


My metal nemesis on the right.
My oven bit the dust last week.  Actually, my oven has been dying a slow, painful, lingering death for years now.  The thing has never baked evenly, necessitating the turning of every cake pan and cookie sheet midway.  Five years ago the electronic display that shows time and temperature and cooking mode started working only periodically.  My husband assured me this was not an issue and I simply needed to press in the display itself a few times until it lit up.  This worked...sometimes.  Three years ago the display went out entirely.  With no idea what the temperature inside actually was, I had to turn it on and then count by fives as I pressed the arrow, hoping that my addition was correct.  Did I mention my husband didn't see this as a problem either?

Six months ago the beast began crying out in pain.  Fifteen to twenty minutes into baking, the oven would started to beep insistently.  It very well may have been displaying some error code that I could have looked up in our manual, but, see, the display didn't light up...  The Vulcan saw this as no issue and explained, with that look of condescension typical of computer engineers and auto mechanics, that if I pressed the up arrow, then the down arrow, then pushed the display in, the beeping would stop.  This worked...sometimes.  With increasing frequency it didn't.  Last time the heating element was replaced I tried to have the display fixed, but was told the good old Magic Chef was so old they no longer made the part.  Still, my insistence on a new oven fell on deaf (and parsimonious) ears.  Had this been, say, the main television set acting this way or, heaven forbid, a computer monitor, it would have been handled long ago.  Not that I'm bitter.

During the holidays I got hollered at during the baking process and it failed to hush more and more frequently when I used my husband's technique of jabbing the various buttons.  This made for an interesting holiday season, especially when I needed to use it for 40 minutes straight for my candied sweet potatoes.  It yelled at me and I poked buttons and it quieted down...for three minutes.  Then it called me again.  Rinse and repeat.  I found myself standing in my living room, screaming at the ceiling so that my husband above in his office would know just how unhappy I was.  He pretended not to hear.

I've spent the last month with children home more often than not, thanks to snowstorms and arctic temperatures.  The Inmates picked January to decide to binge on cake and I baked them nearly as fast as they ate them.  And my temper got shorter and shorter.  No longer was the oven content to silence himself for a few minutes if I pushed his buttons just right.  Now he refused to shut up at all unless he was turned off completely.  If I shut it off all the way and let it sit for five minutes and then turned it on again, it went ahead and finished baking...sometimes.  And that thick-headed cretin my husband simply said, "It works okay for me." 

I am not saying he resembles my husband...
but you feel free to do so.
Why, you may ask, was he so reluctant to get rid of the oven?  Well, according to him, it was a very expensive oven.  He may be right.  It came with the house when we moved in 14 years ago and it was a well used piece of equipment at that time.  It was big and had a convection oven at the top which we never once turned on.  The former owners apparently lived a much different life than the Vulcan and I because after they left we continued to get their catalogs for $300 men's dress shoes.  My husband has a pair of loafers 25 years old.  So, I have no doubt these fine folks bought a really high quality oven.  But they bought it decades ago and I couldn't understand why that meant that if it stopped working we had to keep it.  I guess if somebody had willed us a 1905 Rolls Royce we'd still have it instead of the minivan despite the fact that it had no heat and had to be hand-cranked.  See, it was expensive...

I finally popped my cork last week when even my method of turning the oven completely off and back on stopped working.  I tried to make my grandmother's Swiss Steak recipe and spent hours running back and forth to the kitchen arguing with the oven to keep cooking.  I finally dumped the mess in a crockpot and emailed my husband asking if he wanted to go shopping on Wednesday or Thursday.  Not if.  I asked when.

Monday the Best Buy guys arrived with my new oven.  As they were preparing to haul the old one away, one of the deliverymen said, "Have you been cooking in this this morning?  The 'hot surface' light is on."  I had to explain that the light always stayed on and I hadn't used it since the night before.  He looked the old Magic Chef over and said, "Man, I haven't seen one like this in ages."  They had a good time trying to get it out as it was abominably heavy and bulky.  As they prepared to bring in my new unit, the guy called me out to the truck saying they unwrapped it and it was damaged.  Damaged?!?  Turns out it had a dent in the rear left portion and since it was going to go between cabinets and wouldn't show, I said I didn't care as long as it was functional.  I'm supposed to get a call from the warehouse about a price adjustment, but nobody's bothered to get a hold of me yet...  Not that I'm bitter.

So, the new unit was put in place.  Since the Magic Chef had an attached convection oven, it was a good 6 feet tall and just made it under the cabinet above.  Last time I painted the room I had no desire to try to move that mammoth thing, so I just painted around it, knowing that behind was off-white paint that would have to be covered some day.  What I didn't expect was the flash from the past that awaited me:

"Here's the story...of a lovely lady..."
Our house was built in 1978 and I can only assume I'm looking at a patch of the original wallpaper.  It's avocado and tangerine colored flowers and it's hideously beautiful.  I can only imagine when my entire kitchen was papered in that Carol Brady-style goodness.  As expected, I have a stove's width patch of wall to paint, but I'm thinking that wallpaper is gonna stay.  A groovy little stripe of history right above my range.  I mean, if you uncovered the foundation to an 18th century summer kitchen in your backyard while excavating for an inground pool, you wouldn't just pull out the bricks and discard, would you?  Well, maybe you would, but I wouldn't.  I love historical little bits and when you find something old and groovy that you didn't even know was there, you're obligated to preserve matter what husband or children say about the disgusting colors.

And to my old Magic Chef, I serenade you:

Monday, January 27, 2014


When Echo, my faux-American Girl doll, entered my life on Christmas, I knew immediately what I would be receiving for my March birthday.  A doll that fab has to have a cool bedroom set to reside in and since I'm notoriously hard to buy for, I knew my family would be more than happy to let me pick out these accessories myself.  (Yes, this will be for my 44th birthday.  No, I don't think that's strange at all.  Well, maybe I think it's a little strange, but the 70s bits you can buy for this doll are that I just don't care if I look like a freak with arrested development.)

Groovy, but...ouch!  The price!
While I'm willing to pay the relatively steep prices they want for the record player and tape recorder or the lunch box set, I bristled at the $125 they wanted for the doll bed.  Granted, it has those cool love beads hanging down, but I still thought there had to be a cheaper alternative.  A quick Google search and I found numerous sites with do-it-yourself American Girl beds that probably wouldn't have stretched my limited abilities with nails and carpenter's glue. 

Sitting at my mother's kitchen table having lunch, I glanced to my left and saw her collection of little pitchers on this battered, wooden two-shelf unit.  I immediately said, "I think that would just fit my doll."  I happened to have the doll with me (I was harassing my sister about making Echo a poncho) and sure enough, the shelf was just the right length for her to lie flat and just wide enough.  My mother graciously dumped her pitchers elsewhere and I carted it home. 

Marcia, Marcia Marcia!
I gave the thing a couple coats of white semi-gloss and then went in search of fabric.  My sister assumed I'd want it to be all Brady Bunch girls-inspired.  I've mentioned many (many, many) times that as a kid I was absolutely obsessed with having their bedroom.  Those funky 70s flowers on the wallpaper!  Ah, heaven!  However, Echo is going to reside most of the time in my family room and, most of the time, that room is decorated with my gorgeous retro decor in the avocado-tangerine-marigold color scheme.  I needed fabric that would scream 1972 but that didn't clash with the other chotchkies in the space.  We can't clash.  That would be tacky.

Hobby Lobby let me down, but I found just the thing at JoAnn's:

I knew I had a winner when I showed it to my mother and she literally recoiled from the pattern.  I was hoping to find fabric with owls, but anything with the birdy motif was either the wrong color or too nursery-oriented, or the owls were strange and bug-eyed and not groovy at all.  Mushrooms were almost as good.  And the fabric goes perfectly with my mushroom sign and my mushroom mug...

I'm not a fan of the sewing machine.  I can knit for hours on end, but put me in front that damn Singer and I'm ready to beat myself over the head with it.  I spent all of Friday evening, into the early hours of Saturday, working on the bedding.  Then I got up Saturday morning and spent another hour and a half tweaking it some more.  I have some OCD tendencies and like Monk the detective, I can't stand things that are crooked or asymetrical.  The canopy kept coming out uneven and the bedspread billowed out instead of draping nicely by the sides.  I finally solved the latter by just tucking the whole mess under the mattress.  It's not like the doll is really going to use the bed.  And, no, I don't intend to sit around playing with her.  Even as a child I wasn't wild about dolls.  Loved my stuffed animals, but dolls usually ended up with their heads shaved or on my dissecting table.  (I just had to know what the inner workings of Baby Alive looked like.)

I made quick work of the mattress by using four folded cloth diapers from the basement, formerly my children's burp cloths.  Much easier than trying to cut a piece of foam with an electric carving knife.  The pillow is just stuffed with a wad of fiberfill.

And the result?  Voila!

I'm a lousy photographer with a mediocre camera.  I swear it actually looks pretty cute.

Caught in the act.
I have to say I'm pretty pleased.  Even my sister admitted it looked better than she thought it would.  I mean, she thinks the fabric is horrendous and vomit-worthy, but it totally is the look she knew I was going for.  Unfortunately the doll and her bed reside on a long mission cabinet in the family room, just in front of this window-like opening that goes into the kitchen.  The cats frequently use the table as a springboard to leap through the window and I have this strange feeling they'll constantly bump that bed and ruin the symmetry of the fabric.  I'll probably spend half my life straightening the canopy and making sure there's equal white space showing on each side.  Thank God the motif in the fabric wasn't in straight lines or I'd need some new medication.

The only question now is the love beads.  Do I add them so that it more closely resembles the real thing or would adding beads to the wild fabric be overkill?  The one thing I don't want to be is tacky.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


This has been a bizarre winter.  The Inmates used up three of their allotted five snow days before the end of the year and shot through the other two before they returned to school in 2014.  (Yes, that twitch in my right eye is the result of that two week break turning into a three week break.)  We've had bitterly cold days with subzero temperatures and winds that would sear your cheeks if you didn't have them covered. 

This past Friday was an in-service day and yesterday, of course, was Martin Luther King Day, so the kids enjoyed a nice four-day weekend.  And much to my horror the snow started last night and this morning the text came through that school was cancelled and now it's a five-day weekend.  And  there's this thing called a polar vortex heading our way...  Not that I'm bitter.

I do, however, have a few questions:

1.  Why do my children, who are normally blessed with abundant health and sufficient energy, turn into enervated masses of flesh when it's time to shovel the driveway?

2.  Why do my dogs choose the coldest, iciest, snowiest days to follow me around the house, expectantly staring at their leashes on the hook every time I wander into the kitchen?

3.  Why does my request to leave the video games for half an hour and go walk the dogs with me meet with the same reaction as if I said, "Let's all go for rectal exams"?

4.  Why does my son, who is capable of making crepes from scratch, spend every snow day requesting food from me as if I were a short order cook?  And why does his hearing, which never misses a word when watching Supernatural, suddenly fail him when I holler, "Make yourself a sandwich!"

5.  And last, but certainly not least, why the hell do the snow days have to come at the end of an already long break?!?

This picture a friend sent me this morning sums up the sentiments of every mother I know:

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Foghorn modeling the
Miss Marple Scarf for
my mother
Just as cold January days make one think of soup and hot chocolate, it also makes me think of wool and knitting.  Yes, I have knitting on the brain in the summer as well (and the spring and the fall), but there is something about gloomy, snowy days that just cry out for woven yarn draped across a lap.  Having finished my son's latest pair of socks, I turned to some rose colored tweed wool and a pattern for a Miss Marple scarf for myself.  Although I didn't learn to knit until I was past 40, I longed to do it from an early age, probably going back to grade school when I watched Wilma Flintstone work with a pair of brontosaurus bones chanting, "knit one, purl two, knit one, purl two."  When I was 12 I became addicted to Agatha Christie mysteries and wanted desperately to be like her elderly sleuth, Miss Marple, who could solve a murder while knitting a baby sweater for her goddaughter.

Joan Hickson as Miss Marple,
solving crime in the Caribbean

Once I caught the knitting bug and actually mastered it enough to make something wearable, I began to mentally gather a roster of fellow knitters.  While my husband may find my tendency to publicly knit embarrassing, I know I'm in good company.  Just consider the company I keep:

Joan Crawford -- no man dared tell
her not to knit in public.
 She may not have been Mother of the Year, but Joan Crawford was a compulsive knitter.  She claimed it calmed her "nervous hands".  It had the added bonus of screwing with her acting contemporaries.  Joan famously aggravated the crap out of Norma Shearer during the filming of The Women by sitting out of camera range when Ms. Shearer was filming her close-ups, needles clicking away the whole time.  I'm sure this was merely a woman completely caught up in her handicraft and in no way was meant to break a competitor's fellow actor's concentration.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt is known as one of the most accomplished first ladies in history, champion for the poor and women and minorities.  She was also arguably the most famous knitter for the war effort in the 1940s.  In fact she helped start the whole WWII knitting campaign at a Knit for Defense tea held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York in September of 1941.  She went on to become known as "The First Knitter of the Land."

OK, this guy's fictional, but I adore him nonetheless.  Pushing Daisies fans will know him as Emerson Cod, the private eye.  His catch phrase, "Oh, hell no!" is very popular in my household.  When not solving crimes, he likes to relax with a couple straight needles and manly colored yarn.  How can you not love a big, burly detective who can knit his own gun holster?

Christina Hendricks
How can you not love a gal who made curves popular again and showed that not every grown woman has to have the measurements of a 13 year old boy.  As Joan on Mad Men, she wiggled into the hearts of guys all over Manhattan.  Maybe she should take a tip from her real life counterpart and knit Don Draper a nice fair isle sweater.  Maybe that's what has been throwing him into the arms of all those women.  The poor man is just cold.

Dorothy Parker with knitting bag
(and some dude, maybe a husband)
"If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised."  How can you not love Dorothy Parker?  I lack her writing talent, but she and I have the same distaste for the domestic drudgery of cooking and cleaning.  (Unlike Ms. Parker, I do those activities, while she reportedly threw dirty underwear back in the drawer with the clean and just let her maid figure it out.)  Like her, I also think "a little bad taste is like a dash of paprika."  I just wish I'd been clever enough to come up with the line.  Anyway, in a bit of a paradox she happened to also have been an avid knitter.  Perhaps she composed all her quotable quips while her hands were occupied with a nice garter stitch scarf and her mind was free to wander. 

The list of famous knitters is long and ranges from Sarah Jessica Parker to Queen Elizabeth.  There are even reports of some men getting in the act.  While I doubt the picture is truly a candid shot from personal life, I at least like the idea of the company I keep...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


My father is rarely mentioned on this blog.  I'm not sure why that is.  He passed away in 2009, so he couldn't sue me for anything I write.  My siblings all I know whatever I say, now matter how absurd it sounds, is probably the truth.  The old man was, at his best, aggravating and crotchety.  At his worst...well, we won't touch on that.  My mother, who has the patience of Job, divorced him after 25 years of marriage.  In this day and age that marriage wouldn't last two years.  She often comments that we can't get through a holiday (or sometimes a weekend) without him being mentioned.  I remind her that we're not remembering him fondly and lovingly.  We're usually remembering some crude remark or annoying habit or his Archie Bunker-like abuse of the English language.

Over the weekend I was doing some decluttering and found an e-mail I sent to my sister at work more than a decade ago.  At the time I was about eight weeks pregnant with my first child, deathly ill with morning sickness, and had told no one but my mother and sister.   We lived in a tiny house then, situated on one of the busy main streets of our small city and had no on-street parking.  This is relevant to the story.  I reprint the e-mail here, exactly as I wrote it to her (questionable punctuation and all).  I couldn't capture my father better if I wrote six pages of pure description.  The thing is, I got phone calls from him like the one I write about several times a day on average.  He was also the king of having a discussion, hanging up the phone, giving you just enough time to get back to whatever you were doing, then ringing again.  The Helen mentioned in the e-mail was my stepmother.  She divorced him later...not surprisingly.

September 28, 1998

I'm curled up in a fetal position, trying to keep the room from spinning, when the phone rings.  Thinking it might be the roofer who is supposed to show up sometime early this week for my estimate, I answer it.  " me back."  I know dozens of people with phones and answering machines, yet only my old man makes me constantly call him back to check to see if his answering machine is working.  Apparently he had the flashing light, but when he hit play nothing happened.

So, I call back and leave a message.  The phone rings a few minutes later.  "Yeah?" he says.  "Yeah?" I say.  "Well, you gonna leave a message?," he says.  "I already did," I say.  Well, he didn't hear Helen's voice and he didn't hear me.  I tell him I left it and was he sure the volume wasn't turned down.  "The what?"  The volume switch.  "What's that?"  The switch that lets you control how loud or soft the voices are.  You can turn it off if you're taking a nap or something.  "I have a on/off switch," he says.  No, a VOLUME switch.  He then reads me all the switches he DOES have, none of which are volume.  He then goes into asking me when we're going to blacktop the driveway.  I said we're not gonna do it this year.  He then tells me the stuff's on sale and I repeat we don't want to do it this year.

He goes back to explaining to me for the fifth time how he gets the blinking light but nobody's voice.  I said are you SURE there's no volume switch?  What about on the side of the thing?  Yep, there it is.  He didn't even know there was such a thing on there.  I tell him to turn it up.  He says he doesn't know which way is up.  I say turn it the opposite direction from where it is now and see if it plays.  He tells me he can't hear messages when he's on the phone!  I tell him to hang up and listen.

A few minutes later the phone rings.  Yep, he got Hazel's message and my message.  Helen must have hit it while dusting (he tells me twice).  Then, I'm told to pray for Helen's surgery and he goes on about that before going BACK to harassing me about the blacktop.  "Hell, they got all the stuff on sale, even the brush."  I tell him my husband is having too much trouble at work right now to be bothered with that.  "Hell, he don't have to do nothin'."  I tell him my husband is the one who'll have to park four blocks way in the subdivision across the street and walk home all the time.  "Why can't we park in the grass?"  We can, but we can't get to the grass if the driveway is wet with blacktop.  "Why can't we go over the curb?  Why can't we put a piece of wood over the curb and drive up it?"  I said that the street's too busy.  I can't be putting hunks of wood in the road.  People'll just knock it down and drag it halfway down the street.  "Okay," he says, all dejected.  

Giving a drunken rendition of "Up Against the Wall, You
Redneck Mother" at his second wedding reception.
My sister commented at the time that she could just see him with that damn phone machine in his hand, turning it every which way trying to find the volume dial, as well as jamming the play button over and over and getting wilder and wilder because there was no voice coming out.  She shared the e-mail with friends, noting that this was his "benevolent side."

I found this pin in my father's possessions just before he died.  Yes, I pinned it inside the suit in which he was buried.  He always said he wanted to be buried upside down so the world could kiss his ass.  This was as close as I could get.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Addie, with hand-knit afghan
I realize not all folks out there are the crafty sort and my posts involving winding yarn around a couple of sticks can be a bit dull.  However, it simply would not be the Christmas season if I didn't show what kept me busy during the last months of the year and prevented me from properly cleaning my house.  Despite what my husband thought, I was not simply watching the first two seasons of Homeland so I could lust after Damian Lewis.  I was also knitting at the time.  And if he doesn't watch out, he's gonna get that knitted d*ck cozy under the Christmas tree after all.  Or maybe for his birthday.  (My husband, that is, not Damian Lewis, who would probably find that gift from me just creepy.)

This was the first year for my mother's dog, Addie, to celebrate Christmas with our family.  Addie Banaddie, as I call her, was adopted from Recycled Doggies in February and of course she had to have her own hand knit stocking for the occasion.  The pattern came from Knit Christmas Stockings by Louise Silverman and has various options for the Pampered Pets pattern.  Full details of mine can be found on Ravelry here.

Thanks to Mr. Bean and his Christmas episode, it is a Christmas Day tradition that my sister and mother open a pair of hand-knit socks.  The yarn this year, again, came from my favorite Ohio family farm at Roving Acres.  The color doesn't come out right in the pictures.  It's the most glorious greenish-blue and wonderfully soft.  The pattern came from Socks a la CarteMy sister, presumably because she always wears backless shoes like Crocs, consistently blows the heels out on her socks.  After reading an old Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern where she mentions adding nylon thread to wool for sock knitting and after hearing my sister complain that her el cheapo socks made from Hobby Lobby yarn don't wear at the heels, I decided to do just that portion in a wool/nylon blend.  Luckily Knit Picks had a color that almost perfectly matched the darkest hue in the Roving Acres.  We'll see how long these heels last.

My beloved Tristan, former abused dog and "child" to the fabulous Lori over at the Dog-Lbs. blog, has to have custom toys from his Auntie Shannon.  He got a turkey for Thanksgiving and a Santa for Christmas, both crocheted since I find that easier when doing things like dolls.  Yes, they're both odd looking.  I make them specifically the way he likes them, i.e., with unnaturally long arms and legs so he can play tug-o-war with his brother.  Yes, I acknowledge Santa looks a little like a rubber chicken. 

My sister I found almost impossible to buy for this year and her Christmas list was disgustingly small.  In desperation, I built a whole gift around a Kirk's Folly snowflake pendant.  The gift included The History of the Snowman, wintry-themed gift cards to JoAnn and Hobby Lobby, holiday lottery tickets, a knit snowman dishcloth (free pattern here), and crocheted snowflake coasters (free pattern here).  I didn't photograph the latter since my daughter, Foghorn, declared they looked nothing like snowflakes and more closely resembled "a constipated elephant."  (I find myself screaming like Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, "No knits for you!")  I put all of these in a fair isle tote bag in a...wait for it...snowflake design.  The original pattern was meant to be a gift bag, but I added a strap and flap with a button, figuring Nancy could use it as a portable bag for her crocheting (instead of the incredibly unfashionable AARP fanny pack she's currently using).  The original pattern for the gift bag can be found on Ravelry here and my notes are here.

The original
Last was a gift for my mother.  For her September birthday a year or two ago I knit her a lightweight shawl of Roving Acres wool.  It's gorgeous and she uses it often during the chilly days of early fall.  She commented back in October, "It's the perfect weight for this time of year.  Just warm enough."  That gave me the idea of knitting one that would be warm enough for bitter cold days.  After completing it in early November I then noticed my mother constantly wearing the original.  I said something about it and she said, "It's so warm, even on really cold days.  It's just perfect."  That made me grit my teeth a little, since I had a new, thick, warm-enough-for-an-Arctic-expedition shawl already wrapped and ready to go under the tree.

Appropriately called a study in texture

My mother does, though, claim to love the new shawl.  What I had in mind was something Laura Ingalls would have thrown over her shoulders to go and milk a cow.  Pretty, but super thick and super warm and more practical than the lacey blue garment I made before.  I was really happy with the way it turned out.  I used a wool blend yarn, making it machine washable and thus more likely to be really used without fear of staining it beyond help.  I actually paid for the pattern, which I generally don't do since Ravelry's full of nice, free patterns.  This one, though, impressed me with its variety of stitches and lovely cable border and the fact that a portion of the proceeds went to animal charity.  And for $4 in Canadian money, I really can't grumble.  The pattern is called a study in texture and can be found on Ravelry here.  (My notes are here.)

And I'm sure you're dying to know, now that Christmas is over, what I could possibly be working on.  Well, my son happens to love my hand-knit socks (just have to make that boy realize you don't wear striped wool socks when it's 80 degrees out...and never with shorts), so I'm using up a bunch of my leftover bits to make him a new pair.  I'm also working on an intensely boring, by hopefully practical, helmet liner (one of those hats that comes down completely over your face and just has an opening for the eyes).  The weather in southwest Ohio this winter has been ridiculous.  Major snow in early December along with painfully cold temperatures.  The kids already lost two snow days and would have lost two more if they had been scheduled to go back to school on January 2nd like some districts around here.  Schools were closed this past Thursday and Friday because of snow and frigid temps.  And another storm system is coming through tomorrow, with chances of 2-4" more, meaning winter break might get a little longer for The Inmates.  Since I'm Queen Snow Shoveler around here, as well as Chief Dog Walker, the cold and snow are giving me challenges.  I'm forever trying to wrap a scarf around my face and nose while out with the dogs.  It invariably comes loose and as I try to wrap it again with one hand and hold the dog leash in the other, the canine will spot a squirrel and jerk me forward and my earphones fall out of my ears while I'm trying to wrestle the scarf back in place...  I thought maybe a hat with full face coverage might be worth doing.  Unfortunately it's completely in knit one-purl one rib stitching and is so uninteresting to work that I can only bear to do it for a short period of time before putting it aside for something better.  I really want it done now, rather than Easter when it pretty much will have no purpose.  I just have to find the right motivation.  Maybe tomorrow's impending snowstorm coupled with plans to watch a Monty Python movie with my son this evening will do the trick.