29 January 2008

B is for...

B is for a lot of things in the ABC along.

First, B is for Brett, also commonly referred to as Husband. He's a wonderful guy, and if you're interested in a long list of his virtues, check them out here. He has other fine qualities, but we like to keep him as humble as possible.

The second thing B is for is Bubba the Brainy Beagle. Well, maybe he's not really that brainy. He does know his own name, but he's still sure that every time we leave the house it is the last time he will ever see us again. He also eats anything that falls within his sphere of influence. Last week, for example, he ate 3/4 of a large pepperoni pizza that was left on the island in the kitchen. My guess is that the box was left open and he managed to snag the lid and pull it down. He also ate half the Christmas cookies my mother sent me, for which he nearly received capital punishment. He is cute, however, so I let it slide just this once.

Next, B is for Buffalo, both the rounding up of, and the fibre from. The buffalo roundup was in South Dakota at the end of September, and the fibre was a Christmas present to myself acquired during my visit to The Fold. I enjoyed the first a lot, and am anticipating enjoying the second.

28 January 2008


My vacation has had several interruptions in the last few days. The first was this <-. It's really not possible to imagine that you are in Greece when this is what your thermometer looks like in the morning. I'd like to note also that I have a picture taken an hour earlier where the temperature was warmer. It's not a great start to your day when the mercury is going down, not up as the day progresses.

The second interruption was this. How's a person supposed to enjoy sipping Ouzo on the coast when they know that there's a couple of skeins of yummy sock yarn just waiting to be dealt with at home? Especially when the colors are so very cool.

And that brings us to today's interruption. This morning daughter skived off school (I hope I used that word correctly) because she wasn't feeling well. She has no fever and wasn't showing other major signs of being ill, so I asked her the question. Are you sick enough to stay home and NOT watch television? Yes Mom. so now for the past 1/2 hour I've been interrupted approximately every 3 minutes: Mom, can I have some chicken noodle soup? Mom, how do you pronounce Lucinda? Mom I need some more pink lemonade. Mom, can you bring me my paper dolls? Mom, does no TV mean I can't play with my DigiMakeover? Mom, when are you going to be done on the computer? I have to take care of my garden in WebKinz world every day or the plants will DIE! Mom, I'm bored, can I please watch TV?

23 January 2008

Oia Vey

I spent the day today on the lovely island of Santorini. I visited the town of Oia, which, as you can see, has got some lovely architecture. As I shoveled out the 3 inches of snow from the driveway strolled around town I really enjoyed the smell of the sea air which was a nice change from the stale, still somewhat ghastly aroma of my own house. As I sit and watch even more of that stupid, cold, evil snow falling the seagulls wheeling around over the clear blue water of the Agean, I'm glad that I took the time to get away from all the hassles back at home, if only for a short while.

This afternoon I'm jetting up to the mainland to check out Thermopylae. That's the mountain pass where a teensey band of spunky Spartans held off a big bad bunch of Persians for a couple of days. I hear there's going to be a historical recreation of the big battle tonight.

I'm not sure what I thought when I was packing my knitting for this trip. I should have brought cotton or linen to make a nifty string beach bag, but for some reason I feel compelled to work on slippers. I mean the temperature here is a temperate 15F, 7F with the wind chill 60F. Somewhat cool, I grant you that, but much nicer than back home. I bet back home they're wearing long underwear, shirts, sweatshirts, and even scarves in the house today. Ha, I'm so lucky I'm traveling.

Slipper pattern: The Yarn Harlot's basic sock recipe from Knitting Rules with a creative twist from Cat Bordhi's book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters. See the gusset decreases there on the tops of my feet instead of the sides where they usually live? I've started another pair and I'm going to put them somewhere else, I haven't decided where yet, but Cat assures me they'll work anywhere.

21 January 2008

It's All Greek to Me

So I started my imaginary vacation today. I decided that I'd visit Greece this week. I didn't get there till fairly late today, what with it being Martin Luther King Jr. day and all. There were several short people who didn't have to go to school who interfered with my departure. I finally got away from them when one became engrossed in the Kids Next Door and the other was battling aliens in one or the other of his Xbox games. When I finally managed to get away my first stop was the Acropolis. It's a lovely little place, and this time of year there aren't as many tourists as there are in the summer. In fact I had the whole place almost all to myself. I had a helpful local take my picture for me outside the Parthenon. I'm reading the Odyssey so I can get in touch with the ancient Greek aura. I ate some black olives and some tilapia, which they must have imported from somewhere because it isn't a salt water fish, although it did have a lot of lemon juice and some olive oil, so it was close anyway.

I started listening to Trojan Odyssey, but it turns out it isn't really set in Greece. I figure I'll give it a break and still listen to it while I'm cleaning the kitchen again, doing laundry, sweeping up pounds of animal fur lounging on the beach having some baklava. I haven't decided where I'm going tomorow, but tonight I hear that a British ship sunk offshore and some foreign types have been taking about ATAKs, whatever they are. I'll watch TV tonight and see if I can update you on how that turns out.

18 January 2008

Vacation Here I Come

I had a post all written and ready to go today, bemoaning the life of a housewife. I have photos of disgustingly messy bedrooms, toothpaste encrusted sinks, and lazy animals napping between trips to the basement to relieve themselves on the carpet. I have decided that most of the people who will read this already know what a thankless job it is, and the people who don't...well, I can't help them from here.

Instead of griping about the laundry and the dishes and the soapscum, I'm going to take a vacation. Not a real vacation mind you, that isn't possible under the circumstances. But next week I'm going to go on a virtual vacation. I'm going to pick someplace warm and experience it as best I can from my own home. I'm going to find movies set there, make food from there, maybe a good audiobook too. I'm going to turn up my thermostat and plan a nice psychotic break from reality. Hopefully it will keep me from having a real one any time soon.

Anna's shawl is getting bigger, and yes that is a pineapple holding it up for you to see. One works with what one has available.

15 January 2008

Reward or Disaster?

So here are my November Sock Gang Socks. When they send us the wool instead of sending one big skein they send us two skeins that are just the right size for one sock. This seems like a good plan because then you don't have to guess when you've used half a skein, or figure out some way to divide a big skein into two equal parts. Unfortunately these socks are a good example of what can go wrong with this system. While they're both made up of the same colors, the color distribution is a little different between them. So now my dilemma is this: Do I live with mismatched socks, or do I rip them back and use one skein for the foot portion of both socks and the other skein for the upper portion? The slacker in me says,"They're just socks for crying out loud. Live on the edge!" The type A part of me (which is small but loud) says, "You'll never wear them and every time you look at them you'll be annoyed." I'm afraid that the type A part is going to win, but I'm going to let them sit for a few days before I commit myself.

While that decision marniates, I can work on this. -> When we have our guild Christmas party we do a gift exchange. We all bring a gift, then draw numbers to see who gets to choose first. When it's your turn you get to either take an unopened gift or choose something that someone else has opened already. I brought Daughter with me to the party and I told her as we were drawing numbers that we wanted a big number so we could choose something good that was already opened if we wanted. I told her this was the one time you don't want to be first. Naturally we drew number 1. I sent Daughter up to pick us out a good gift and she came back with the biggest box on the table. (Remember, she's 8.) We opened it and it was a beautiful shawl that one of our members had made, out of Jane Sowerby's book, Victorian Lace Today. It was soft, it was luxurious, it was stolen by the person with #4. Daughter was crushed; she WANTED that shawl. So in a moment of motherly weakness I told her that I had the book and I would make her the shawl. I figured she would forget about it 2 days later, but she has reminded me of it every couple of days. So we finally got out the book, looked through it, and she picked out a stole she really likes. Luckily it is a relatively easy pattern, and I still have a lot of wool left from Joyce's Stole. She's informed me that it needs to be done by her birthday (July 1) so I'm even good time-wise. Either I'm being rewarded by the knitting muses for the bad socks, or they're setting me up for some kind of disaster. Can't wait to see which it turns out to be.

10 January 2008

A is For...

This year I am going to participate in the 2008 ABC Along being hosted by Knitorious. The basic idea is: "Members in this year-long group -- knitters, spinners, fiberists -- post a photo to their blog and/or the Flickr group every two weeks to correspond with a letter of the alphabet. Photos can be related to fiber, but do not have to be; they should reflect the personality of the photographer, and something of importance or meaning to them.
Post at least one photo in each 2-week period to match the corresponding letter of the alphabet. There are 52 weeks in a year and 26 letters of the alphabet, allowing two weeks per letter (Weeks 1&2=A, Weeks 2&3=B). Example: "A" is for... Alaska, asparagus, alpaca, astronomy, aperture... Whatever you choose, it should have some meaning for you

So I proudly introduce my first photo, Anna Adorned with Alpaca. Yes, Daughter does have an actual name and coincidentally it starts with the first letter of the alphabet. She may drive my nuts sometimes, but she is wonderful company and a pretty good person. (Although she did come out into the living room this morning, crawl in my lap, look up at me with her big hazel eyes and tell me, "Mom, your face is oily, and I know something that could get rid of stubborn age spots.")

Although you can't see it in the photo very well it's the Glitter Alpaca Stole. The pattern and yarn are both from Cherry Tree Hill though I think their Glitterspun Alpaca has been discontinued.

This stole started life several years ago when a friend took me to a ladies retreat in Wisconsin. As we were driving down this 2 lane road in the middle of nowhere I saw a sign for a beauty salon/yarn shop/something else that I can't remember but may have been crafts or furniture. Friend and her mother asked if I'd like to stop (like I'd say no) so we went in and looked around. The kit for the stole must have jumped into my basket when I wasn't looking. I wound the yarn into balls during the retreat and started it in the car on the way home. I struggled with it a bit until I decided that it would be a lot easier if I charted the design out instead of trying to go with their line by line instructions. Once I did that the thing flew off the needles. I think it's one of my best pieces of work, although I can show you exactly where the mistake in the first repeat is.

09 January 2008

Would You Rather

Last night Daughter was bored (meaning she was not the center of attention for a minute or two), so we were playing Would You Rather while we were eating dinner. Daughter asked Husband if he'd rather quit playing tennis for one week and give her $20 OR never shave again. He chose the former. Husband asked Daughter if she would rather be beautiful or brilliant and she went with beautiful. *Note to self: Less TV time for the little darling.* There were several rounds of questions; Would you rather lose an arm or a leg? Would you rather give up television or the computer? Would you rather sleep with your nose one inch from Dog's face or his rear end? Would you rather give up tennis or your computer? And finally Daughter asked me if I would rather give up knitting for one month or completely frog my last 5 projects. It was a tough call, but I decided that I would probably prefer to frog my last 5 than give up knitting for a month. I explained about the difference between a process knitter and a product knitter, and I was amused that Daughter knew what frogging was and Husband had no idea. Had I known that I was making an actual choice I may have taken a little more time with my answer.

As I was working on my vaguely related socks last night I pulled out the first one to count how many rows of ribbing I needed. When I started the second one I *knew* how many rows I needed in the foot and the ankle, I just needed to refresh myself on the ribbing. As you can see from exhibit A, I apparently did NOT know how many rows I needed in the foot. I'm off by 15 rows. Looks like Daughter knew more than she was saying at dinner last night. My new plan for today: frogging 5 rows of ribbing, 45 rows of ankle, and the entire heel and gusset. Whee.

07 January 2008

At What Cost Refrigeration

As I mentioned a while ago my downstairs refrigerator/freezer decided that refrigerating and freezing were no longer on its To Do list. Perhaps, like Bartleby, it just preferred not to. So on New Year's Day Husband and I made a pilgrimage to Sears and looked for replacements. Did you know that you can now buy refrigerators with televisions in them? With obesity in this country at an all time high do we really need to encourage people to watch television 3 feet from the refrigerator? In Son's case the only exercise he regularly gets is the trek from the television to the food and back.

We chose a replacement fridge/freezer that had absolutely no bells, whistles, smoke, mirrors, or anything else. Just one cold chamber with a couple of shelves, and a colder chamber with one shelf. Total cost of 2 cold boxes including delivery and taking away the old one ran us around $500. Not too bad for the overflow and beverages that are usually kept in the basement. Little did we know that fate was about to throw us a bit of a curve ball.

I should perhaps mention that the old Bartleby model was the upstairs fridge when we moved into this house 12 years ago. Because of various problems that we had with it (all relating to bells and whistles by the way) it was demoted to the basement. Husband and I moved it ourselves. I don't remember exactly how we did it, other than the fact that there was a lot of gravity involved in the stairwell, but we did it and it fit without any modifications having to be made to anything, other than popping the laundry room door off its hinges.

When Delivery Guys got here and saw the old Mr. Freezy there was a lot of talking amongst themselves, measuring various things some looks at me which I can only describe as displeased, and then they set to work. Job one was to take the old doors off. Now if you have ever had a refrigeration unit stop working you'll be aware that the inside doesn't smell... nice anymore. So before very long my house smelled like decomposing old food. At this point I was called up to Daughter's room for something so I don't know exactly what happened next, but I do know that the end result was some pretty large dents in the stairway walls, and more disconcertingly, a large amount of a mysterious fluid splashed on the walls, the (carpeted) stairs and the basement floor.

I have spent the last couple of days trying to find exactly the right word to describe the smell of this fluid. Some of the top contenders: rank, fetid, reeking, putrid. It was bad. It smelled like someone died in my basement and then got left there for a long, long while. We set about cleaning it up as soon as Delivery Guys left. First I sprinkled it with some granules I bought at the pet store that are supposed to odor absorbing. I guess if you have a normal odor they might work, but this is no normal odor. Next we got out the Bissell Big Green Clean Machine. Again, we used the only cleaning solution we had which was for pet stains and odors. Apparently pets aren't capable of making much in the way of odors.

At this point the stains on the carpet were pretty much gone, but the smell, the smell just lingered. Next treatment, a commercial grade cleaning machine fluid. It didn't do any better than the pet formula. At this point I was gagging just walking up and down the stairs, so I went to Sam's club and got a huge bottle of Febreeze. You may think that an entire bottle used on 12 stairs and an area of carpet 8 feet square might be overboard. You'd be wrong. For the rest of that day the basement smelled like grapefruit, which was a huge improvement.

Stink molecules being what they are, the nice smell lasted about 24 hours. At that point the carpet was dry (and sticky) and the Smell started coming back. We have reached the point of Googling crime scene cleanup sites to find out what they use to clean up a real dead body. If we can't find something that works we will be down to our last option. Husband is already trolling tile stores and mumbling to himself about square footage, grout, and the like. In the end there is a very good chance that our $500 refrigerator will end up costing us 10 to 20 times that.

Oh, and my socks aren't going to match even a little bit.

02 January 2008

It's a Whole New Year

Welcome to 2008.

The nice thing about a new year is that the slate starts out absolutely blank. Anything is possible. On January 1st there is every possibility that I will go to the gym for 2 hours every day of the year. It's a complete possibility that I will eat nothing in the chocolate/potato chip families for the remainder of 2008. My children may actually clean their rooms every single day this year.
Sadly, this is January 2 and I can already rule all of those things out. It is still possible, however for me to make a couple of new years resolutions.
1. I am going to get some kind of physical exercise at least 3 times a week this year. While I predict that I may try to claim that knitting, laundry, and vacuuming are bonafide exercises, I fully expect people to hold me to doing things that cause me to break a sweat.

2. I am going to cut back on fast food this year. I have a bad habit of grabbing lunch at McD's or BK because it's fast and easy. I'm going to commit to eating fast food no more than once a week.

3. I'm going to knit something every day. It might only be one row, but I'm using my needles every day. (One should always include something that will be easy to do in one's resolutions.)

Knitting Progress Report

The Ticker Tape jacket is almost done. I've got everything sewn together and just have to weave in 700 ends and put on some buttons. I also have decided that I don't like the collar, so that will have to come off and be redone. I'm also not wild about the button bands, so there's a good chance that I'll be redoing them too. So basically the sleeves and the back are OK, everything else is iffy.

I started and finished one of the December sock gang socks. These are made out of Toasty Toes from Interlacements. They're made toe up, and I did manage to mess up part of the toe, but I'll learn to live with it. I started the second sock and discovered that the second skein has a lot less white in it, so these are going to be very fraternal twins rather than identical ones.

It's going to be one of those years, I can just feel it.