Carbonated Wit

Pleasantly bubbly and refreshing!


Moved here from Captain Awkward. Somewhere down in the comments I got all confused because a little spat about problematicness arose, about single women possibly being jealous and/or bitter. It took me a while to catch up with what was actually going on. The we is all about the commentariat over there.

I think…. okay, I think that generally when we’re gonna talk about problematic things, we’ve got to talk about them in generalities and not specifics, unless the specifics we are faced with are clearly problematic. And when the specifics we are faced with are problematic, if we’re going to call them out, we need to call them out in detail, preferably with compassion although I personally would accept clever snark. (note:  it should be clever!)

I say this because problematic is a thing that is all about The Context and the Culture and all that stuff that has clever jargon I can’t remember because it’s been too long since someone summarized judith butler at me. So if we’re going to be all about how single women being jealous and bitter is problematic, we’re talking about cultures and tropes and shit like that.

At Captain Awkward, we are talking about specific people in specific situations, and so I think it is unhelpful to get into abstract concepts or jump on specific language and just stop there. It’s not about Being Right, here, it’s about Being Helpful. I think.

But if someone’s Being Problematic Right Here, then it would be okay to talk about that specific incident, including how it fits within the Greater World of Problematic Shit, but always being anchored in what’s happening here.

At least in spaces like the Captain’s blog, whose owner can obviously disagree with me.

As for the bitterness and jealousy question, I think that yes, in fact, it is a loaded concept when speaking of single women, who are socially valued according to the men in their lives, and who are expected to feel those things when they are unmarried at an advanced age. Where advanced is, depending on who’s talking, anywhere from 21 to 35 or so. Pretty much everyone seems to understand that women who are still single at 35 are suspect.*

In that CA post, the letter writer didn’t use the words bitter or jealous, so that language came from the Captain. However, upon investigation, I think it is appropriate to use those words to describe the behavior of the LW’s friend. Especially since JenniferP is saying “It is okay to feel bitter or jealous, and it happens, but it is not cool to get that emotional yuk all over your friends.” We don’t know how the friend would describe her feelings, but we do know how someone describes her actions.

White Rabbit reasonably posted that hey, you can be single and grumpy about it and not be jealous and bitter. She also pointed out that she doesn’t act like the LW’s friend, so… it’s kind of a point of info, and not any big thing.

Since everyone who’s saying anything specific about jealousy, bitterness, or singleness is saying generally reasonable things, I think that the source of the grumpy is all about the idea of “problematic” and what does it mean.

Thus, my analysis above. **

I conclude that Sarah is the one who went most astray in that commenting section. The big problem with her posts is the lack of stuff. I mean, yeah, there might be something problematic with an advice writer reaching for jealous and bitter as words to describe an unhappily single woman. That might be interesting! But she didn’t really talk about that, I’m just guessing that it’s what she meant. I’m still not sure why she thought JenniferP was trying to insult her commentariat.

*I got married for the first time at 36. I’m in generality-space in that paragraph.

** Everything since the previous asterisk is in specificity-space. See the difference?

White Rabbit wants to talk about problematicness! So I invite everyone over here to talk about it. Go nuts.



I made gnocchi with sage brown butter sauce! It was shockingly successful considering: I have never made it before; I had waxy potatoes; those potatoes were green and starting to grow; I don’t have a good masher; we ran out of butter.

The potato did not get entirely mashed, but my lovely husband actually rather liked the chunks. I didn’t get them into pretty shapes; I was lucky enough to get them cut, they were falling apart. I think I might have needed a teensy bit more flour. But they were also tender, because of the light flour, and because the potatoes were undercooked enough to be hard to mash. (Overcook potato ==> needs more flour ==> small white balls of lead, says the internet.)

I forgot to season them when I put the batter together, oops, although I did add butter so that was okay. I used just flour and butter, no egg. An egg would definitely have held it together better but I kinda like not having it.

Then, while the water boiled to cook the things, I took fresh sage and fried it in a small pool of olive oil. This got very spattery since I had just washed the sage. Sage is fuzzy, you see. It holds onto liquid. I needed an oil shield! But fried sage is incredibly awesome, it’s crunchy and yummy, much less bitter, has a much better texture, and the flavor comes on you at the end. Also, this seasoned a bit of oil! Win-win. Added the rest of the butter in the house and browned it up. Also added some garlic-from-a-jar. Not enough sauce to toss the gnocchi in, but enough to put on the table for us to add. Since it would be undersauced, I decided to sprinkle the gnocchis with garlic powder and salt when I got them out of the water.

I was too hungry to get pictures.

They didn’t have a lot of individual integrity, although I think a sauce or an egg would have helped. They were pretty tasty, and the process was easy although time-consuming. I hear you can do it much faster with instant mashed potato.

I used All Recipes – Gnocchi II (and its comments) and this comment I googled up for reference. Go go gadget internet!

Silk Caps

I have been learning a lot about spinning fiber! There’s a whole lot of different fibers out there, and you can get them in various levels of pre-preparation. Most you can get approximately raw, like you can buy unwashed wool, or cotton bolls, etc. You can get anything from that to a “top”, which is fiber that’s been combed or carded and processed so all the fibers go in the same direction and pulled into a kind of tube, so it’s very easy to work with. Mostly fiber is undyed but you can get lots of dyed fiber.

So I needed a small amount of stuff to make up the discount level in my spinning order, (from the Woolery) and they sell “silk caps”. These are single cocoons that have been cleaned (degummed) and, in this case, dyed interesting colors. They haven’t been otherwise pulled apart, though, to make a top or anything. I didn’t know what to expect. It turns out that they’re well-named! They’re about the size and shape of a shower cap, thinner in the middle, thicker on the edges where the cocoon was cut. They’re many thin layers of silk, one on top of another.

Aside from the source probably not being fancy awesome worms (which apparently make golden silk, I guess, that was reserved for royalty in India and I am not good at spinning silk so I haven’t ordered any of *that* yet), these particular cocoons were probably cut, so that the caps involve lots of individual strands of fiber. I guess if you buy a good cocoon complete with dead bug, or if it’s been extracted from the end of the cocoon, then it will be all a single strand. The silk industry is interesting.

I am not up for dealing with dead bugs, myself. Ew.

Also, since I am at the “experiment with everything!!!” phase of this hobby, I ordered the cotton sampler, which came with a neat tiny supported spindle. It includes an actual cotton boll, like it comes off the plant. It also has some fluff that has some bits of plant matter in it. I see why the cotton gin made such a difference, because wow.

Later samplers will include silk samplers, and so I expect to get cocoons that are possibly intact. I’m hoping they will be de-bugged. Some look dyed, and I really had no idea you could dye silk in a cocoon (it looks like easter eggs) so I’m pretty interested about that. If it’s bugged I’ll have to have my best friend help me out.

In the meantime, I have given up the bamboo rayon for the shawl and turned to a mix of merino and silk. It spins up like a dream and I like the feel of it!

More On Yarn

So, I finished the yarn I was spinning! Yay! It’s a little funny, because I spun two bags of orange and one bag of white, and spun two threads of orange with one thread of white… and I have a whole lot of white left over. Just goes to show, consistency is not a feature of n00b work!

I also think I overtwisted both yarns. Especially the three-ply. I put it on my umbrella skeinwinder… and it collapsed it. So I wound it around a wooden chair and left it for a while. When I get some time I’ll pull it from the chair and wash and dry it. Then I’ll get pictures! This process left the skeinwinder available for my white yarn, so that’s good.

Next, of course, is the yarn for the scarf. After examining my colors, I decided to use the intense teal color for experimentation. It didn’t really go with the other colors as well. It’s going… interestingly. I mean, bamboo is a whole lot different to spin! I keep getting tufts left over on the couch or on my shirt, and it’s pretty hard to get the thickness where I want it. I think I have it now, though.

I did two test yarns and knitted them up. The first was way too thin, even for my #5 needles. The second is a good thickness, I think. But… well, the swatches are stockinette. My swatch didn’t stay rectangular, it turned into a parallelogram. The edges are at about a 45 degree angle to the top and bottom.

Sooooo….. that’s a very interesting effect. Not really what I was going for! I didn’t wash the bamboo yarn before swatching with it, though. I’m hoping that will make a difference. I am currently spinning up a bunch of it so I can do a pattern repeat and find out how much yarn it takes, so I can spin up the right amount. But if it keeps coming out angled, I don’t even know. It’s so strange. Maybe I over twist it, but I’m not sure I can successfully make bamboo yarn without twisting it this much?

I’m worried that the answer is “You’re trying to spin the bamboo too thick. It doesn’t like that. You have to spin thinner thread and then just ply it up.” I don’t want to make six or nine ply yarn, do people even do that, WTF?

Hopefully the washing will fix the problem and I will stop making Stockinette Askew. If it keeps going, I’ll have to find some other yarn to spin up for this scarf, and that will be annoying!

On the Topic of Bras

Captain Awkward has a post from a young lady whose mother is awful to her about her weight. She mentions being busty, and Sweet Machine offers advice that includes advice to go get fitted and get a new bra and it will make everything better.

This is the off-topic comment I didn’t post:

Fellow Chest Of Doom here. I kind of hate it when everyone is like “Go get fitted! Go to Intimacy, they’re awesome!” Bras should fit against your chest wall in the middle, you know, and if they don’t you’ve got the wrong bra.

I went and got fitted. I went to Intimacy. They only have underwire! They didn’t have many things in my size. The things they had hurt. Even more annoying, the bra they put me in and swore up and down was the right size? It was too small for my big boob, and I overfilleth the cup. The line that seemed most likely to be most comfortable did not go up to my size.

They said, look, it takes a while to get used to an underwire. Take this bra that we swear up and down is your size, NO REALLY, and wear it for a couple of weeks. You’ll love it.

I wore it home. I tried to wear it. It hurt! It kept hurting! It didn’t sit flat against my chest wall, because my boobs just don’t work like that! Apparently, some boobs are like that and no bra will fit against the chest wall in front. So the wire pokes out in front, and digs more in the bottom. This was the bra that was the best fit? Seriously? $70 to walk around in pain and aggravation until, I dunno, I get underboob callouses?

OTOH, they did confirm that my band size was correct. And for all that they swore the number of the bra was meaningless, the cup size was useful information. (OMG I am a lot bigger than I thought) and gave me something to try from other shops.

I stopped at a bra store and tried all their big bras. All of them ugly, and none of them fit. I got on the internet that made the previous Single Bra That Fit Me (that didn’t go up to my new size) and found a new Single Bra That Fits Me. It even only mostly fits me. I overfilleth. And it’s *padded*. Like I need extra there? And do you have any idea how few size H bras don’t have underwires? I live in terror of the day they cancel or change this line of bras.

EVEN WORSE, once I had a properly fitted bra, half my shirts stopped fitting. Because now I was properly supported, you see! Not only do buttoned shirts gap, but t-shirts rose like an inch in the front. There goes all those cute fitted shirts. I feel unstable on stairs because I can’t see my feet!

Right. Rant over, because this is not all about me. Mostly I wanted to put it here so that others can know that actually, a newly fitted bra might not change your life. It’s still helpful, generally speaking, but it might not be a game-changer.

What is a game-changer, in my world, is learning to love the shape you are and learning to dress for your shape and your style. I used to wear dark crew-neck t-shirts and jeans. I went through a skirt phase, and now I wear them sometimes. Now I wear v-neck or scoop-neck shirts in bright colors, with jeans or a skirt, and with shawls. I can move comfortably, I read socially as idiosyncratically feminine, and I feel generally pretty. A few years back I gave up on feeling body-shame and spend most of my summer in tank tops with my bra showing (except at work).

Dressing oneself is incredibly hard for a lot of people, especially those who do not conform to Standards. Even the outliers have standards, because manufacturers have to make enough units to make a profit. Racks my size are uncommon, but they still have a market; racks my shape? Apparently, there’s no market for that.

I do not believe that it is impossible to construct a bra that supports my breasts, fits flush against my chest, and does not create spillage. However, at this time, it is practicably impossible for me to find it.

Fiber Plan!

I read the blog of an avid knitter and pattern maker. I found her friends and, while I haven’t done any of her patterns yet, I like getting a little bit of knitting goodness in my mailbox a couple of times a week.

And then this happened. Pattern: Eye of the storm

I have never had a three-pronged scarf before! The work is gorgeous; the pattern trick with the two cables is totally cool. I love it. Except I can’t wear wool against my neck for very long. Also, that particular yarn she uses is a bit on the pricy side. That’s not normally a big problem for me, and it’s only one ball, but still….

So I decided I would spin the yarn. I went to DBNY to get my roving on. They have some spectacular bamboo rayon right now in wonderful colors.

That is my plan. I will:

  • Figure out how to spin bamboo rayon
  • Figure out what diameter the yarn should be and how to approximate it
  • Figure out how to introduce color changes into my spun yarn
  • Produce the right amount of yarn
  • Figure out how to wrangle two circular needles at the same time
  • Figure out how to make the lace (eek!)
  • Produce the scarf in all its lumpy and imperfect goodness!

I’m intimidated and excited. Also, I am looking forward to having a project in mind when people ask me what I’m making the yarn for. So far it’s been “Because spinning is awesome” which, sadly, confuses people.

Farmer’s Market

I finally got to the farmer’s market today. Sadly, I didn’t get there in time for raspberries… but it was otherwise entirely satisfying.

First, I passed the organic meats guy and let him know I’d be back for a chicken. We had filet from him last month and I loved it. Mr. Fizzy was not as enthused, but Mr. Fizzy’s tastes are tricky to satisfy.

Got a small head of lettuce for Mr. Fizzy’s sandwiches this week, and blueberries, cherries, and sungold cherry tomatoes. A giant burst of basil! It smells amazing! We still have pesto in the freezer from like two years ago, we will never use this basil. But it smells amazing and was like a buck. I chopped up a bit to go on our lunches today.

Frozen spinach gnocchi. Preserves with very little sugar in mixtures that I really love, even when I don’t enjoy the fruits that comprise them. Fresh roasted coffee…. oh man, so good. He even let me try the different coffees before I bought a cup! A giant loaf of tender bread, also after trying like four kinds of bread. A focaccia with garlic and tomato (and then later basil) on top.

Finally… marshmallow. We have a local marshmallow-maker. I haven’t tried their stuff before; I dithered between the raspberry and the blood orange and went for the orange, since I have a lot of raspberry jam at work.

This marshmallow is kind of epic. It’s tender and springy and not sticky at all, but frothy and light. It has a delicate foaminess. It’s obviously very sweet but it doesn’t overwhelm. The orange flavor is surprisingly subtle (next time, I will get the raspberry!) but present. It comes out as kind of a tartness as the sweet froth melts in my mouth. Just delightful.

The brand is Try it!

How I kicked the Pellegrino habit

I’m old enough that back in my day, only silly yuppie types drank bottled water. Water with fizz in was just something you added to liquor.

But when I was an exchange student in Germany, my host family introduced me to the wonders of fizzy mineral water. They didn’t believe in drinking tap water and unfizzy mineral water was just noxious to me. Fizz it izz!

After I returned, I eventually settled on Pellegrino as the fizzy mineral water of choice for the next generation. It’s so good! It’s almost salty, but not very; the minerals are palate-cleansing and satisfying. The fizz is lively and wakes you up. So, so good.

The problem, of course, is that Pellegrino is expensive. Also it’s hard to buy in quantity; the boxes are usually glass (recyclable, but heavy, ugh!) or small bottles. I wanted CRATES of the big bottles!

Oh, I tried other brands, or the knock-off stuff in the grocery story, but it never quite satisfied. It’s just not the same.

But then… one day, someone sent me A Link. There is a whole world of water nerds out there! People who have spent time perfecting the chemistry of emulating fizzy water. They geeked out, and then they put it on the internet for all to read!


My then-fiance and I put a Sodastream on the wedding registry and I was On My Way.

I got ready to order all the component parts (okay, that’s gypsum salts, that’s table salt… how do I know if plaster of paris is food-safe, anyway?) when I read the most amazing thing. A product, called Burton Salt and used for beermaking, tastes very much like Pellegrino! It’s even cheap!

Victory. Truly.

The thing of it is, now I’m mostly not even adding the salts to the fizz. Mostly I’m just drinking straight carbonated water. Club Soda. Sparkling Dihydrogen Oxide. I went through a phase of trying to get different flavors to work and ended up with some really unpleasant sodas. I experimented with the Burton Salts and figured how much I needed to get the flavor right, and I still skip it much of the time. The carbonation adds a bit of sour that I find delicious all on its own.

Do you have a bubble problem?

Fizzy is as fizzy does

The world is full of wonderful things! I want to talk about them!

The world is also full of unpleasant or annoying things. I also want to talk about them.

Thus, a blog is born.