14 Years: Don’t bury the cake.

Today marks 14 years of marriage to Dill Hero. I always knew that I would someday get married, assumed it would be when I was 30 or so, and knew that I would wear white, but never thought too much beyond that about it. I wasn’t one of those girls or guys who planned a wedding from the second I saw a Disney movie, though I definitely thought it would be nice and fun.

So imagine my surprise when I met Dill. Well, really met him. We’d been running in the same social circle for several years but for some reason, a couple of months before my 20th birthday, I went up and started talking to him. One thing led to another and after some phone calls we went on a date. After coffee and conversation, I found myself with a boyfriend. Within a few weeks, we talked marriage, About a year later, he proposed. I never thought, “I’m too young! This is too soon!” or really anything beyond how much fun we would have together.

A month before my wedding, and again on my wedding day, my Grandma gave me her advice for a happy marriage. Don’t bury the cake.

I was confused and asked her to tell me the full story.

When she first got married to my Grandpa, she was very young. If I’m remembering correctly she hadn’t finished high school, so they kept the marriage a secret because her high school wouldn’t have let her graduate if they knew she was married. So when that was over and done, they lived together, and my Grandma, wanting to be the BEST WIFE EVER, promised her new husband a chocolate cake when he came home from work.

She worked on it all day, but at the very end, the cake completely stuck to the pan, and trying to get it out turned it into a crumbly mess. Grandma panicked, felt like a failure and buried the ruined cake, pan and all, in the yard. When Grandpa came home that night and asked about cake, she lied and said she didn’t have what she needed to make it.

I laughed the first time I heard the story, and then, when she saw me on my wedding day, she told me that story again, except this time she said “I shouldn’t have buried the cake. I should have turned it into something else we could have eaten, instead of having no cake at all.” (I’m paraphrasing a bit) 

I know my Grandma wasn’t trying to give me some deep life lesson here, she was just trying to teach me how to bake a cake, but I think it is a life lesson anyway. The times I’ve tried to hide a mess or a disaster from my husband, we’ve both just felt like crap afterwards. I’d rather we get through messes together, rather than have some secret shames apart from one another.

So that’s my advice to you, if you’re ever thinking of getting married. Don’t bury the cake. Find a way to enjoy a mess, even if only one of you caused it, together.

Speaking of which, this is the very first cake I made for Dill for his birthday/Christmas. I tried to take the layers out of the pan too soon, and they all collapsed. Dill had the idea of just icing the damn thing anyway and eating it, and it was of course, delicious. 

I’m glad I didn’t bury it.

It’s Playoff Season!

It’s that time of year again! Can you forgive me if I get a little mushy when it’s playoff season? I flash back to the early days of derby, then to see the level of athleticism and dedication that our sport has grown to, and I just get so many feelings!

If you haven’t done so, you should get your pass to watch playoffs live. I have to admit that I’m not very productive at work during playoff season. I have my computer up and watching at the shop, and I have it streaming to my tv at home.

Since I’ve been toying with the idea of announcing, listening to the best of the best of the announcing world isn’t a bad idea for me either! I’m lucky to have Dill around to learn from, and such a talented announcer pool in Indy to hang around with should I ever decide to officially make the jump. (You know, with my oodles of spare time!)

I need to update this blog a lot more! I went to New York! I have signings booked! I may be going to Canada again!

You can always follow me on Facebook as well. Don’t be offended if I don’t friend you on my personal profile. I’ve been getting some weird stuff on there, so I am paring it down a bit and sending people I don’t know directly to my page!

Knockdown Knits

About twice a year, a spike happens in sales for my first book, and I start getting questions on Ravelry and through email, so I thought I would put up a little blog post!

As many of you know, Knockdown Knits: 30 Projects from the Roller Derby Track was my very first book. (If you’re local, part of my talk at Pop Con this Saturday will cover how I got published.)

I was lucky. Even though Wiley is a historically conservative publisher, they gave me a lot of freedoms, such as letting me use my team, the Naptown Roller Girls, as the models.

Of course, there were some points where the conservative publisher leanings became evident. I wanted this picture in the book:


Red Rocket and Smackie O’nassis photo by Matt Bowen

And with much fluttering of their hands the publisher went with this picture:


Photo by Matt Bowen

Which of course, is an awesome photo, so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. And honestly, I didn’t realize it at the time, but for a publisher to let me come to the office, sit down, and pick out the photos I wanted for the book isn’t something that happens to every author.

Although there’s a lot I would love to change since I’ve grown as a designer and writer over the past decade, I also kind of love it as is. This little glimpse into the early days of roller derby (I think in the section talking about derby, I mention how there are “almost” 100 teams around the world and “almost” 30 WFTDA leagues!) is pretty fun.

I’ve had requests to do another one, and I’m not saying it’s outside the realm of possibility. I have a couple of other projects that have to get finished first, but revisiting a derby knitting book would be a good time. Of course, if I do it again it would definitely involve more leagues than just NRG, especially since the requests I’ve done to do another come from knitting derby girls in other states who have their own pattern ideas.

And a quick note to say that when Knockdown came out, I think I was one of TWO books about derby available. Now, there are a LOT more!
Here’s a list:

roller derby books

I just read this one,
and it was so dang cute I got teary eyed! I seriously love it.

And hey! I’m in this one! Screaming my head off at a ref I think.

Anyway, I thought I would put this blog up in response to my most recent question about Knockdown. Speaking of which, if you ever want to get in touch with me, comment here on the blog, or use the contact link on my site. (Or find me on twitter, facebook or instagram!)

Summer concert series!

It’s one of my favorite times of year… the summer concert series in the park! 
Almost every Saturday our little town has free concerts in our local park. Beer, wine, music and snow cones. 
Our friend John (who used to play drums in a band with Dill) is the head brewer at our local brewery. So Dill got his servers liscense and helps John pour beer at events. 
It’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday night. Listening to music, drinking beer, and of course… knitting! 
It was about 90 degrees and I was knitting with pure wool. Not my first choice, but I’m working on a proposal that is kicking my booty at the moment, so work has to get done! 
I did take a snow cone break.
And Dill poured many beers. Many of them for me!
We ended the night by being gifted free bottles of wine from one of the other booths (yay! Since I’m in indiana and can’t buy wine on Sunday it was much needed!) and helping john unload all the empty kegs. Hung in the closed brewery for more beers, ready to head home and then… food. One of the cooks brought us so much food! 
Which meant we ended up staying until midnight. Which meant we crawled into bed at 1am. All fine for a Saturday night… except when you have to wake up at 4am to go to work on Sunday! 
This summer the brewery is also serving at the local water park. You can take your beer and float down the lazy river! I see so many more sleep deprived Sunday’s in my future!

Ten Fracking Years…

Dealing with all this drama lately has me thinking a lot about the derby community, and what we’ve built (in Indy) over the past decade. Ten years is a long time to have my foot in the water of roller derby. As a skater, score girl, coach (for my lovely Wisconsin girls) fan, personality, and sometimes just a tag along for my announcer husband. (Or holding down the home fort when he’s in Detroit, Canada, Nashville, Atlanta, etc…

The 10th anniversary season for Naptown Roller Girls is almost over.

Ten years of Naptown has been a wild ride. I get chills thinking of how it started with Strawberry Jam saying, “Why isn’t there a derby team in Indiana? We should start one!”

I mean TEN YEARS. Some marriages don’t last that long! (And let’s be honest, a lot of time derby is a catalyst for that!)

For the anniversary season, they put us old gals on the posters and programs. I was on the bout opener, which was a total honor. (Photo credit to Tom “one b” Klubens)

A lot of us alumni, retired and active, showed up to participate and kick off the season. Of course, one of us couldn’t be there. I was honored when her husband asked me to walk out her jersey, but I couldn’t do it without crying.

But of course, it wasn’t all sad! In the weeks leading up to the bout, Naptown produced these awesome videos, talking about how the league got stated.

Part 1

Part 2

There’s only one game left for season 10. The STAR WARS BOUT! (Don’t worry, the league gets permission from Lucas and Disney!) Storm Troopers, Jedi, R-2… it’s always the best bout of the season!

Look who else is gonna be at Pop Con!

Remember this awesome photo Kyle Cassidy took for Geek Knits?

Those are my friends Whitney Avalon and Steve Gossett. Sure, they’re wonderful Geek Knits Models, but they also created this series of videos:

I remember Steve telling us about this when he was in town visiting. I admit having my doubts. I was like, “Whitney is gonna rap? Dressed as Snow White? Ok.. that’ll be cool I guess…”

And of course when the first video was released I watched it about 20 times, laughing my butt off and cheering out loud as it went viral.

Well, good news if you’re in Indy for Pop Con, Whitney is going to be there all three days!

I really hope that you make time to see her!

Now, let’s all admire one more Kyle Cassidy pic!

Joan of Dark vs Joan of Dark vs Joan of Dark…

Ugh. Just when things are going well, off goes the google alerts! Turns out that a couple of derby skaters are using the name “Joan of Dark”. My name has been trademarked for a long time. As soon as I started publishing under my alter ego, I knew it had to be protected.

Of course, not to toot my own horn, I’ve been lucky enough to be pretty public in a very good way. So anyone even thinking of picking up the name Joan of Dark, just needs to do a quick google and they would see me all over the place… or so I thought.

Then I get the alerts to my phone, hey! Derby girls! Skating under Joan of Dark! That’s not cool! First thing, send emails. Because lawyers are expensive. As of this minute, one of the girls has not responded. The other… well, the short answer is that she said no. She actually said changing her name would cost her money and that would be “silly”.

If you aren’t familiar with how trademarks work, if you don’t protect it, you can lose it. Which means I have to spend MY money on my lawyer to protect it for me. Which frankly, is really crappy. Believe it or not, being a knitting author and cafe owner doesn’t have me rolling in money.

Not to be all “get off my lawn” here, but this whole situation sucks, and it sucks that this skater can’t just be sensible about it. Instead, I’ve got to fight to protect what I’ve been building for over a decade. And from what I’m hearing from Dill Hero’s announcer friends and WFTDA officials commenting on the situation, it’s not just my issue, it’s happening all over with a new generation of skaters not respecting classic names, especially moderate to really famous classic names.

So cheers to legal fights and derby drama!

* quick edit. For those of you that have messaged me saying “ask her nicely! Surely she’ll understand!” I did. Her one line reply? “I think my new derby name will be Toni Carr;)”. So no. No reason here. Also I miss old derby where we were all bitches but we were bitches in this TOGETHER. 

Where have I been?

The I’m Sometimes it’s so hard to keep up with every social media platform I have. Instagram, facebook, Twitter, tumblr… I tend to focus on one for a while and let the others fall away for a bit.

But this blog means a lot to me. It’s how I first connected with the knitting community, it’s how I got my first TV appearance and it’s how I made some great friends. Which means that in the interest of organizing my life, I’ve actually started blocking off time every other day to blog.
For today, I’m catching you all up on starkey!
After struggling to find a new boarding situation for him, we decided to just move him home. We have a big backyard, we have a mini barn, so why not? We asked our neighbors permission first of course. Don’t want to irritate anyone we share a fence line with! 
Luckily, everyone loves having him around. And I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to see him every day, as opposed to 20 minutes a time twice a week! 

Bath day. 
Playing my mandolin in the backyard. I sing the white stripes song “little ghost” to him, but change the words to “little horse little horse you’re the one I love of course…”
He even comes in the house! 
We have such a weird shit life…
Till next time!