Wednesday, November 07, 2007

There and Back Again

California Dreamin'

"No," I said. "It's absolutely out of the question."

"I think you're being silly," said Dolores. "You've never taken the project on the road before, and you don't know the terrain out there like I do. I'm practically a native."

VanHoofen's Honeylambs"Are you, now? When was the last time you were in Sacramento?"

"Well, it wasn't technically Sacramento but it was very close by. In 1982 my act played an exclusive men's club just up the river–"

"Up the river."

"Yes, and we were quite the hit. Oh, you shoulda seen it. I got this troupe together, Van Hoofen's Hoofin' Honeylambs, four other girls with me as headliner. Oh, it was beautiful. A merino, a corriedale and these twin border leicesters we picked up in Idaho. For our big finish we did this static electricity number where we rubbed up against each other while the band played 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction' and then...well, let's just say the guys ate it up."

"Up the river. From Sacramento."

"Yeah. What?"

"Folsom Prison?"

"They were a very appreciative audience. It took the National Guard three days to restore order."

"We're drifting away from the point. You are not coming to Sacramento and that's final. Besides, if you're there who's going to watch Harry? Mrs. Teitelbaum is with her daughter in Highland Park until Thanksgiving."

Surfin' Harry"Look everybody," shouted a happy little voice. Harry rolled in from the bedroom and twirled around on the carpet. "Look at me! I'm a California dude! Cowabunga! Pass the tofu! I get to go on a plane! Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!"

"You already told him he could go?" I hissed.

"Don't worry," Dolores whispered. "I'm sure he'll recover from the disappointment. Eventually. With therapy, he may even cease to hate you."

"Cowabunga!" shouted Harry.

Pre-Flight Jitters

A few e-mails to the Sacramento guild sorted out that it would be a party of three, not one, arriving from Chicago. My contact, Cindi, even graciously asked whether Dolores, being a sheep, had any "special needs."

"Yes," I wrote back, "but most of them are illegal, even in California."

Harry was so jazzed at the prospect of his first airplane ride that he packed his suitcase a week in advance. By the night before departure he was bouncing off the walls, singing "Go West" over and over until I was ready to felt him.

Dolores was fretting over her luggage for the fiftieth time. The living room rug was strewn with enough outfits to open a boutique.

"We're only going to be there for one day," I said, digging through a pile of chiffon looking for a missing dpn. "I really don't see why this needs to be so complicated."

"Says the man with five dozen black t-shirts. Listen, nobody cares what you wear. But me, I have a reputation to uphold and I don't want to disappoint my public. How about this one?"

She held up a frothy, flouncy piece of silk with crochet lace insets.

"Mutton dressed as lamb," I said.

"Who asked you?" she said.

Getting There Is Half the Fun

My alarm was set for six in the morning, but I needn't have bothered. At about five a.m. I woke to a gentle tap, tap on my forehead.

"Shouldn't we get up?" asked Harry. "I don't want to miss the plane."

"The plane leaves at ten-thirty, Harry," I yawned. "Go back to sleep for a while."

Five minutes later I felt another tap.

"How about now? Is it time now?"

"No. If you can't sleep, go read a book or something."

"Can I play on the computer?"

"Fine. Sure. Whatever."

He rolled away. I pulled the comforter over my head and tried to pick up my dream (Viggo Mortensen, Sea Silk, cop uniform) where it had been interrupted.

"I checked the Web site! Our flight is on time!"

"Fine," I sighed. "Thanks."

"The current temperature is 42 degrees!"

"Uh huh."

"A guy named ChiFuzzyStud says good morning and he wants to see the rest of the fourth picture in your profile. Should I send it to him?"

I got out of bed.

Somehow, even with the early start, it was still a bit of a mad dash to catch the train to the airport. At ten minutes to seven, Dolores was still frantically trying on and discarding hats. Harry had finally agreed to leave his longboard at home, but only after I demonstrated via Google Earth that Sacramento, an inland city, is not exactly a surfing mecca.

We arrived at Midway to find the usual slurry of humanity oozing through the security lanes. Given past airport experiences, I was tempted to separate myself from Dolores. Harry seemed a little nervous, though, so I decided to stick close.

"You keep an eye on him," I warned as we merged with the crowd.

"Hey," she said, "Take your pill and chill out. It's under control."

I went first. Dolores followed behind, taking a little more time than is customary because she insisted on being patted down. Twice. We met on the other side of the metal detector as my camera bag slid into view.

"I just gotta get my purse," said Dolores.

"Fine," I said. "Harry should be through next, right?"

"Yeah," said Dolores.

"I don't see him."

"Here he comes," she said, picking up her purse from the conveyor belt. I heard a muffled scream from inside.

"You sent him through the X-ray machine?"

She opened the flap and Harry popped up, still screaming.

"It was less complicated this way," she said. "Harry, pipe down, people are staring."

"I'm sterile!" Harry screamed. "I can never have babies!"

"Oh please," said Dolores. "You heard the man. There's only a forty percent chance. Jesus, I need a drink. That screener had very rough hands."

Around that time my pre-flight Xanax mercifully kicked in and I don't remember much except that Harry finally settled onto the arm of my window seat with his eyes glued to the view, too fascinated by the passing landscape to ponder his potentially childless future. I drifted off to sleep while Dolores, in the middle seat, began chatting with the aging hippie sitting next to her.

I woke up about two hours into the flight and both Dolores and the hippie were gone.

"She'll be back in a couple minutes," Harry said. "She said they had to go to some kind of club meeting."

I took another Xanax.

Welcome Wagon

We touched down right on time in Sacramento. As we rolled across the tarmac, Dolores finished cutting the latest notch in her lipstick case and tucked her new friend's phone number into her bosom. Harry was singing "Hotel California."

"Listen," I said. "We're supposed to meet the guild representatives at baggage claim, so keep your eyes peeled. They'll probably have a little sign that says "HABIT" on it or something so we can recognize them."

I need not have worried. They were easy to spot. See?

Weclome to Sacramento

In the back row, from left to right you have Lorna (as in Lorna's Laces...could you die?), Cindi, the man who accompanied Dolores Van Hoofen to Sacramento, and Beth. You know the front row.

While we waited for the luggage, Dolores whispered to me, "The signs are cute...but what's with the weird glasses? Is that a California thing?"

First Things First

It was too early to check in at the hotel, so we were offered our choice of yarn or food. Guess which one we picked.

The luggage went into Beth's SUV, and we piled into Lorna's vintage Ford Mustang for a top-down, wind-in-your-face, sun-drenched ride to Babetta's Yarn and Gifts.

In the Mustang

Maya and BabettaWe were cordially welcomed at the door by Babetta herself and her daughter Maya. The two of them run the place together, and are obviously the kind of people who were put on earth in order to connect other people with yarn.

I loved the shop. In Chicago, space is at a premium and so our fine establishments are always fighting the battle of elbow room versus display space. At Babetta's, the shelves just seem to go on and on, yet there's still plenty of room for a comfortable sitting/teaching area.

The selection was great, and I was able to get four skeins of [censored] which will be perfect for the [censored] I'm making as a Christmas present for [censored].

(Blogging around the holidays can be such a pain in the ass.)

Later that evening, Dolores disappeared to rendezvous with Humphrey, the hippie from the plane. Harry snuggled happily into bed at the hotel with his sudoku book, and I joined a trés intime knitting session at Laura's house.

Laura's a guild member who knits the most incredible lace as though it were plain stockinette, does bead work that has been featured in galleries, and with her charming husband has raised a teenage daughter who, of her own free will, introduced herself to me clearly and politely before returning to her room to finish her homework.

We will now pause for a moment to admire the wonder that is Laura.

And I got a chance to get acquainted with Emmy, a former Chicagoan who years ago used to live on the same street that I do now–a street which is also a Lorna's Laces colorway. She presented me with two skeins of it. We bonded. It was hard to say good night, but I was getting very sleepy and nearly messed up a very long row of the [censored] I am knitting for [censored] for Christmas.

(Blogging around the holidays can be such a pain in the ass.)

Show Time

Bright and early, Cindi hauled me and Harry off to the shoot venue (Dolores sent a text message that she and Humphrey had decided to drive to Santa Cruz for couples aromatherapy massages and a Pro-Hemp rally).

I barely had things set up before the first knitter arrived, and then...we were off. Aside from a delicious lunch eaten outdoors (outdoors! in November!) with the guild members who were working hard on a charity knitting project there was a non-stop stream of wonderful people in front of my lens.

Beth, who used to be a school teacher and so knows how to keep things organized, took such great care of the paperwork and introductions that I was able to relax and really enjoy meeting the models.

We were about halfway through the afternoon when somebody announced that a very large van had just pulled up to the building and knitters were pouring out of it. The van contained eight people from San Jose and Monterey, who had driven all the way to Sacramento. I was floored.

Jasmin and the SockThis is the ringleader, Jasmin, who asked me to pose with her and her sock. This is perhaps the closest I will ever come to being Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, so needless to say I savored the moment.

Here's the whole San Jose/Monterey group, courtesy of No-Blog Rachel who, ironically, now has a blog.

San Jose Knitters

And I had another surprise. I'd just heard a gorgeous, poetic essay on "Cast On" by a writer named Melanie Hamilton, so gorgeous I'd listened to it five times with undiminished pleasure. And Melanie was the last sitter of the day.

California Six

I couldn't believe it was over already. For the chance to meet people like this, I could have kept shooting well into the night.

Home Again

The trip home was less eventful than the trip out. I had a lovely breakfast with Cindi, Beth, Emmy, and Laura, and then it was time to head back to the airport.

Dolores, who stumbled in at about four a.m. after spending the night with Humphrey at a potluck poetry slam marathon, kept falling asleep. We finally dumped her onto a luggage cart and wheeled her to the gate, where she woke up long enough to send a text to Humphrey the hippie that it had been wonderful, but it was just one of those things.

"It could never have worked out anyway," she mumbled between sips of her Bloody Mary. "I could never commit myself to anything long-term with somebody so bloody sensitive."

"Crunchy granola?"

"Allergic to wool."

71 comments:

Leah said...

This is just too funny and just what I needed after a rough getting-to-nap time with a cranky 2 1/2 year old. Thanks for the laughs and I'm glad you made it there and back in one piece. Any offers to have a sitting in Atlanta?

Krista said...

Awww sweet Harry! Is it wrong that I am attached to a cartoon ball of wool?

Sandra said...

I seriously don't even know where to begin. Every part of that post was entertaining.
But I am developing a bit of a crush on Harry - please tell me he's of age...

Laiane said...

Ha! I just KNEW Dolores' glasses were red!

Flavaknits said...

Its a pity the Dolores adventures book is not coming out in time for Christmas - I have a list of folk who'd love it (including me!).
You are going to put a book together - PLEASE !!!
LMAO at every Dolores story - she's a star (and so are you - apologies, I am now verging on the sycophantic, but its true!)

Beverly said...

What an adventure! Sounds like a good time was had by all. And a good time was had by me while reading about it. A much needed giggle in the middle of the week.

Kathy said...

OH, please Mr. Habit, let's do try to arrange a shoot for DC... I just long to meet you and Delores. Harry is actually a ball of wool after my own heart...

Cookie said...

Harry was here? And you were at my LYS? Now I'm heartbroken.

Oh, and they still talk about Dolores over at the GoldMiner Cafe in Folsom. We're more than just a prison town these days, ya know. ;^)

KellyD said...

OMG! You three crack me up. Tell Delores I am right there with her on the guy thing. Love em and leave em.
Harry is such a darling young, er.. skein. I know he had a great time.
And Franklin? You are a hit wherever you go!

Lise said...

I have to second Kathy, please come to DC and/or Baltimore some time soon!

Dianne in Western WI said...

I haven't laughed so hard reading a blog in a long time!!! Thanks Franklin

~laurie said...

You Sir are a creator of some of the best blog posts ever..this one is surely one of your best - and just what was needed this soggy week
I'm just mad about Harry :) don't felt him! :P

Leigh Witchel said...

Dude.

Nice T-Shirt! (I'm seriously flattered)

Funny how my interrupted dreams usually involve Pierce Brosnan in a tuxedo, but Viggo in a cop uniform will do in a pinch.

We could switch. You try Pierce in a cop uniform and I'll try Viggo in a tuxedo - we'll compare notes.

Anne said...

I have to laugh at Humphrey the hippie, because I have a stuffed hippo named Humphrey.

Somehow I never realized that Harry is... um... blue?

Lisa said...

OMG! Your post has me giggling so hard that my staff thinks I need medication. They would not understand. I hope that Dolores Does Sixth Street will become the next saga in the book. And Harry will look great in chaps and a cowboy hat.

hifidi said...

What an incredibly entertaining post today! I am so bummed that I did not make it over there for this shoot. I forgot the directions at work and then ended up doing something with my son, grrrr. Maybe you'll be back in Sac someday soon (she hopes.)

Nancy said...

...much more entertaining than anything those screenwriters who are on strike write!

cheryl :) said...

You are seriously trying to kill me aren't you???

And now you need to find a manufacturer for little Harry dolls and Dolores glasses.

As close as you'll ever get to being Stephanie Pearl-McPhee? You really have no idea do you?.

(and Viggo in a cop uniform? Oh...now it's my dream.....)

Lyda said...

Any chance of a knitting bag with Harry in his "Cowabunga dude" outfit? Seems only appropriate for us California knitters.

You three come visit Orange County some time, please! Harry can bring his longboard...

Anonymous said...

I am so sad that you came to Sacto (where my family lives anyway) and it was a weekend I totally could not make. ARG. :)

The Other Kristen said...

Franklin, your blog gets better and better. Thank you for being so damn funny and writing so damn well.

And now I am wondering how to fix you up with one of my dearest, sort-of-newly single (but post-rebound-phase) friends. He is sock worthy, and then some. (I'm sort of kidding, since the two of you live hundreds of miles apart, but sort of not.)

=Tamar said...

Harry is fun to read about, he gets so much out of his existence.

Seeing the vintage Mustang convertible brought back fond memories.

Misstea said...

I know Delores has had some experiences with a ram here in Winnipeg, and since she's a performer, I could use her help for a show.

She'd fit right in...

Carol said...

What a long...strange trip it's been....Actually wonderful. If Harry can't have children (which of course should be verified by a mediwool doctor) he should take up teaching folks to knit. It may soothe him, poor baby.

TheAmpuT said...

Not like you need be told this, Franklin...but you are just so wonderfully danged funny! Thanks for the post :-) You had me cracking up.

Sacramento is only 45 minutes from me, and I had so wanted to come for a visit, but I had to perform that weekend.

I'm glad you had fun and that nobody switched your latte to soy or anything.

dale-harriet said...

Franklin, that's it - I'm just going all over stalk-y. Consider me your very own Aging (unrepentant) Hippie Bubbeh - I've adopted CAP too. I have a rather dicey past myself; I'd LOVE to have a snort with Dolores sometime (think of all you could do while I have her distracted). Regarding Harry - well, I have a lot of regard for Harry. Don't felt him.

Anonymous, too said...

This post is a scream and the trip sounds fantabulous. I'm glad you and Harry enjoyed it.

Just be careful around swimming pools. Dolores' turban looks awfully Norma Desmond-ish.

no-blog-rachel said...

Viggo is MINE, damnit!

But I'm willing to let you have the Sea Silk as a consolation prize.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

Top notch post.

melanie said...

Dolores,
I am so glad you had such a good time. Also glad the weather held up for you. Nothing would have been so icky as becoming a soggy sheep. Tell Franklin we enjoyed him also. And Harry... stay warm.

Emmy said...

Emmy here. Thank you for a wonderful weekend and for bringing back happy memories of Chicago, MY HOME TOWN. I am so lucky to be a member of the Sacramento Knitting Guild. Good management of the budget has allowed us to bring you and other knitting "celebrities" to our town. We are so proud to support the 1000 knitters project! Knitting guilds of America -- now it's your turn!

A Little Quacky said...

Now, more then ever, I wish I had been able to go! But I won't have a car till next month, unless I get my wheel first...

Come back? We have cashmere! (I wasn't kidding about that farm!) So glad you liked Cali's freaky weather, I am so ready for cool weather already! They are promising cooler weather (ie low 70's!) starting friday ;)

Rooie said...

Thank you, Franklin, for an early morning belly-laugh.

Lynn said...

That's it. I'm writing to WEBS and demanding that they host you and the entourage for a day of shooting. I'll ask Viggo, too, he's a good egg, you know, although you'll have to keep Delores off him somehow.

Which reminds me, can I buy her fleece when she's shorn?

Judy F said...

I almost lost a cup of coffee with this one! My DH came from the other room to see what I was laughing at. Please don't felt Harry.

datatech57 said...

Please allow me to join the chorus (okay, maybe a quartet on this post's comments) to beg an plead that you come to the DC/Baltimore area. I am from Nebraska, originally, and I think I can handle a smart-aleck ewe. Can't be much worse than holding a calf down for branding!

Ruth

Anonymous said...

This post was even funnier than the "I learnt to knit in jail" post. Well done on a very well written post. You, Delores and Harry have so much fun(even when she's so 'eccentric')- sorry Delores! Greetings from Alida in far-away South Africa.

Roxie said...

Thank you for thehigh point of my day! I would pay good money for the Dolores book. So how goes the Dolores Look-alike contest? I had some trouble with the censors over the photo I was trying to submit.

marie in florida said...

what's with the glasses? hehehe

Janice said...

OH........... I am laughing so hard. Here all this time I thought Dolores was sleeping while you were taking our photo's!!! You are a celeb in our world Franklin and don't ever forget it. Those of us that have followed your blog, even the antics of Dolores and Harry, think you are wayyyy coooooooool. BTW Babbetta's is one of my yarn shops for her outstanding selection of yarn.

MonicaPDX said...

Ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod! Dead. From. Laughing. Thank you!

(That Xanax stuff sure is handy, isn't it?)

Beth C said...

Franklin, you and Harry were lovely guests from start to finish. And even though we didn't get to see too much of Dolores, she certainly lived up to expectations!

The Sacramento Stockin'ettes were happy to underwrite your trip, and to bring the 1000 Knitters project here for our members and other local knitters. We hope we are only the first of *many* out-of-Chicago groups to offer you sponsorship.

On top of that -- the whole weekend was loads of fun! (I did locate Dolores' spangled purple feather boa under the back seat of my car, and will mail it back to her.)

Angie said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful trip and speaking of Viggo, check this out: http://incrediblegifts.com/arloofricast.html

I sent him to my girlfriend for her birthday.

neverknitathing said...

Dude...

I love you. I honestly love you.

And I've never knit a thing.

Kristen said...

AAAACK. You not only got to meet THE Lorna, but you rode in her Mustang! Oh, can I touch you! (I do not mean that in the way D would.) The drawing of Harry with his surfboard is just too much. I love it!

geogrrl said...

Franklin, after your last few posts, if you weren't gay, I'd seriously be trying to get you to marry me.

The fact that I'm already married is a technicality.

Seriously, your blog entries are to be anticipated and savoured. They're wonderful.

Carina said...

What a lovely trip! You are famous, so maybe it's time to start getting used to it? ;)

Oh, and I have to say that I can't understand why you're single. I'm sure there are all sorts of hot guys out there who would just melt at just one look. You're hot! You're a knitter! You are creative and fun! You are sooo amazing!

Kate R. said...

Oh, Franklin...
I am so sorry I missed your trip to Sacto. I just couldn't get away from SF. It sounds delightful. Hopefully you can come to the SF Bay area...I have the feeling that Harry and Dolores would love San Francisco.

Seanna Lea said...

You are too funny. Maybe with a ton of practice, I will develop something akin to your flair for writing.

Sue J said...

Franklin!
If you and Dolores (and Harry)come to Austin for you 1000 Photos, I'll take you out for the best baby back ribs!
(does Dolores eat meat?? Well I'm sure they'd have salad stuff........)

Does Dolores play poker? My Red Hat friends play Texas Hold Em on Sunday nights.........and they get rather rowdy. Dolores would fit right in. If she drinks that is.

Carla said...

I love a carriage house - can I visit?

Ulrike said...

Franklin, this is just what I needed to save my day. Thank you.
Greetings from Germany,
Ulrike

Seanna Lea said...

It just occurred to me that a Dolores coloring book would be way too fun. I'd definitely buy one (or two or three).

Nelly Olsen said...

Dang, you're a hottie! Any chance you'd come to St Paul to shoot?

woolywoman said...

Hello? You come to CA and go to ONE city?? Not even the best one? Please, please come back. And bring Harry. I have a singleton ball of Regia that I have trouble setting up play dates for.

Roxie said...

I woke up this morning with a vision of a weasel wearing a t-shirt that read, "Mr. Shatner's toupee wrangler." And it's all your fault.

Eldronius said...

That sounds like a lovely time. The welcome wagon cracks me up with those signs and glasses...that was a good one.

And wow, that group photo makes that one guy look huge! (But I know better)

Thanks for sharing ( I do love a good Harry story)

Karin said...

Pictures, cartoons, sense of humor, storytelling....I do hope you get published in a big way very soon.

Knitting Librarian said...

Hi Franklin. Dolores didn't make a side trip to Philadelphia, did she? http://www.centredaily.com/news/breaking_news/story/258878.html

Juls said...

I wanted to drive up, but much like you felt the Southside was foreign, that is how us SF Bay Area/Silicon Valley folks feel about Sacto. Glad you and the crew had such a blast!

Twilight said...

The dichotomy between Harry's innocence and Dolores...ahem...experience is comedic gold. This is one of my favorite Dolores stories.

I want Dolores and Harry plushies! Wouldn't that make the best holiday present ever?!

Anonymous said...

... "You already told him he could go?" I hissed.

Franklin, please tell me that there's a copy of "Dear Genius," the collected letters of Ursula Nordstrom, in your bookshelves. If there isn't, there should be! (I suppose I could go poke around in your LibraryThing listings and see for myself, but I'm way too lazy for that.)

Glad to hear that you made it out to CA and back relatively unscathed --

-- JullesT

MaryB said...

Franklin: I hope you get to take more trips and write about them. This entry was priceless. Go Dolores! And sweet Harry, what a prince. Thanks for writing this. I enjoy it so much! MaryB

famous steve said...

Franklin, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE come to Atlanta! (that didn't sound too needy, did it?) We would love to have you down for a photo shoot. Maybe we can do something through The Atlanta Knitting Guild (I'm in charge of programs), or maybe through the yarn shop where I work; Knitch. I'm sure Kim, (the shop owner), would love to have you. So remember, when that cold Chicago wind starts blowing, theres a warm spot down here in Georgia for ya!

Knits4Bears said...

I'll second Famous Steve's plea for a visit to Atlanta for a photo shoot with a couple more PLEASE, PLEASE's!! We would love to have you (and Delores) come on down!

Knits4Bears said...

I misspelled Dolores' name! Uh-oh
(please don't tell her)

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