Monday, March 31, 2008

Out Like a Lion

March 31, 2008
It keeps on coming. We got five or six inches here last night, but I'll bet Kate of High Altitude Gardening has it up to her belly button again.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Oh Baby!

Baby booties, that is. I decided to use some old yarn from my stash to make a pair of booties for a friend's new little girl.

Here's how the booties are supposed to look.
The pattern's a free one from

This is what the first one looked like yesterday afternoon.

Here's what it looks like now.

Woo-hoo! Success!

Now for the second one.

Still Schizophrenic

Ah March!
Yesterday it was in the 60's, this morning, 30's and snow.
But already melting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Don't French the Faucet

For some reason lots of folks seem to think dogs are smarter than cats.

Now I'm not saying dogs are dumb... Heck my childhood dog was one smart little bowser. We got him from the pound as an adult dog. His whole life, to that point, had been spent at the end of a chain in his previous owner's back yard. He'd never been in the house. He didn't know any commands, not even "sit" or "come here".

In my family, the dog was a member, with full house privileges. The first couple days, Butch did not understand that leg lifting inside was a cardinal sin. He quickly learned otherwise and behaved himself thereafter.

There was a continuing problem with the nighttime hours, when he thought he could slip one by the humans, but that was cured by giving him his own bedroom. Every night, he was locked in the pantry in the basement with a nice, soft rug. He discovered if he left a liquid deposit or a "calling card" that he had to sleep in very close proximity to it all night long. Cured him real fast.

Within a couple of months, he was a well mannered and affectionate dog with a whole arsenal of tricks. When he got old and went deaf, he learned to do all of his tricks to hand signs instead of voice commands -- even added a couple new tricks to his repertory.

He was one smart puppy.

In common with most dogs, however, the humans trained him.

Cats are not trained by humans; they do the training.

My cats are waited on hand and paw. I give them food and water on their command, I clean their litter box. Or, as I call it, mining for cat jewels. If they want something, they tell me and I do it -- though occasionally I'm downright obtuse and don't comply.

Sachi's very favorite water comes out of the bathroom faucet. Whenever I make a bathroom trip, she hops up onto the counter and expects me to turn the faucet on to a trickle for her. Sometimes she doesn't realize that I'm in there immediately and comes in after I'm already seated, so the service isn't up to its usual standards.

She has discovered that standing there with her front feet in the sink, alternating stares at the faucet and at me does not get the water turned on immediately. If she starts licking up the inside of the faucet, however, the human will squawk, "Don't french the faucet!" and make great haste to turn it on for her.

Guess that shows who trains whom in this household.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Baked a Brick

Across the street from me are two very nice elderly couples. Every once in a while, I do some baking just to let them know they are well thought of. This time I decided to bake the Irish Oat Bread (recipe on 3-17-08 blog entry) because it's delicious, different and easy to make.


I decided to spiff it up a little with cinnamon and raisins.

Big mistake.

Actually. the idea wasn't a big mistake, my methodology was.

I added extra brown sugar, about 3/4 of a cup total, and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to the basic recipe. When I got the raisins out of the cupboard, I discovered that they had dried out.

Since the bread dough is on the dry side to begin with, I didn't think it would be a good idea to have the raisins pulling moisture from the dough. Being oh so smart, I boiled some water, dumped the raisins in and let them plump before mixing them in to the dough.

I baked it the specified amount of time.

It looked beautiful.

Unfortunately, when I stuck the knife in to cut it, the knife came out gooey.


So I baked it some more.

Still gooey.

And some more, etc, etc, etc, until I ended up with a brick. It smelled nice, and if you didn't break a tooth gnawing on it, tasted pretty darn good too.

Ah well, back to the drawing board.

I Is For Idiot

How apropos.

I've entered a new dimension of knitting. The third dimension.

Scarves are fine and dandy, but I've decided to mix it up a bit and try my hand at not-flat-stuff. What I really want is to knit myself (oh, greedy girl) a hat out of the beautiful merino roving yarn.

I have four 50 yard skeins of it. Some research revealed that I probably cannot get any more. It's an Italian yarn that doesn't seem to be available in the U.S. right now. Evil language!

So I went back to Tuesday Morning, where I got it, to see if they'd gotten any more in.


I've learned the hard way that knit projects don't always (ever) turn out like I envision, so I decided to play it smart and bought the two skeins of a different color that they did have. I found a hat pattern that I liked and proceeded to knit and perl my way to a very gaudy glory.

There wasn't nearly enough yarn for a hat. My four skeins of the beautiful merino will be enough though (big sigh of satisfaction.) I decided to make a head diameter purse instead.

Upon finishing the body and flap of the planned purse, I had a grand total of four inches of yarn left. Talk about cutting it close! To further my self-imposed education, I plan to felt the resulting knit tube to see how it looks and how much it shrinks. But I don't want it to be just an educational exercise, I want a working purse at the end of the process.

Always resourceful (or nutso, your choice), I decided to use an ancient partial skein of black 100% wool worsted from my stash to knit an icord to make a bottom and strap for the purse. I also got some black lining fabric and a big black button for a fastener.

I've read that the "i" in icord stands for idiot. Again, how apropos.

I started my first icord yesterday using a double strand of the venerable worsted and size 13 (big) needles. Knit, knit, knit, knit, slide, repeat. That's how one knits a four stitch icord on double pointed needles. It worked, but it surely ain't pretty. Thank goodness I'm planning to cover my knitting sins by felting it.

After getting about 18 inches knit, it was time to do the dinner thing. I laid the icord out on the chair seat and got a good look at it.

"Hot dang! I'm knitting a snake!"

When I returned to the knitting after dinner, I somehow managed to get the icord turned inside out and made my snake a cloaca. Raw talent - I have it.

Good thing that felting will make it into a fuzzy blob so the "interesting" parts won't show.

The Phone Switch

What I want to know is who is in charge of wiring the switch for the telephone and how he knows where to put it.

Seems like every time I'm in an awkward position, say crawled up under my desk fiddling with wires and cables, the phone rings. Since, inevitably, one of the wires I've just disconnected is the phone wire -- and I dropped it behind something large and heavy when startled by the ring -- I not only have to extricate myself from the tangle of wires under the desk, I have to get myself into the Engineer's office and climb over his crap (oh, no, I can't call it that) his valuable papers, only to have whoever was on the other end hang up just as I get the receiver to my ear. Since I probably bumped either my head or my funny bone on the way out from under my desk, it's a good thing that the watching cat does not speak English.

If the Engineer is home, he always answers the phone. Unless I'm in the awkward position and assume he will. Then it rings until the caller gets bored and hangs up. Five seconds later, the Engineer bounds up to me wanting to know who called.

This is not nearly as bad as when he answers it, it's for me, and I'm in the awkward position.

What part of the bathroom door shut and the shower on does he not understand?

Take a message for heck sake!

Or I'm kneading bread dough. Why does he try to hand me the phone?

Take a message!

And why on earth did the phone switch guy build one into the toilet seat? And how can it sense when I've gotten all settled for some quality bathroom time? This usually happens when I'm getting ready to head out for an appointment. Gotta answer it because it might be a call from the person I'm meeting.

The Engineer seems to think I should carry the phone into the bathroom with me every time -- just in case.

Frankly, there are some things I'm just not comfortable talking on the phone while doing. If I'm covered with soap and shampoo, it might be detrimental to the continued functioning of the phone to pick it up and hold it to my lathered head. (Bet that's not what you were thinking...)

Another thing I hate is when the Engineer calls me on my cell phone. Or, "My Leash", as I, oh so fondly, call it.

If I don't hear it immediately and retrieve it from my purse within two or three rings, he hangs up then calls back almost faster than the speed of light. Repeatedly. Despite the fact that I've told him many times that he jams up my phone for outgoing and incoming calls when he does it. Then he gets PO'ed with me because I didn't answer.

So if you know the guy who wires the phone switches, send me his name and address.

I've got a baseball bat I'd like him to become intimately acquainted with.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stitchin' & Bitchin'

Did you know there's a series of knitting books titled Stitch 'n Bitch?

I saw the initial book at the library a few months ago and thought, "That's funny, and it rhymes." That was before I started learning to knit. Now I understand that the title is descriptive of a deep truth... You stitch, you bitch. Or I do anyway.

This is being a learning experience. I decided to do a sampler scarf to try out lots of different patterns. I discovered that not all 40 stitch rows are created equal. Not even when they're right next to each other. The result is a scarf with quite a curvy shape. Ah well, I've got enough cattitude in me to pretend it was intentional.

Then I saw some lovely bouclé. The colors delighted my eyes and it was soft like a bunny. It was on sale. Of course a couple of skeins went home with me and, of course, it turned out to be a real pain in the derriere to knit.

To try to make it less onerous to work on, I am alternating knitting a scarf of the bouclé and a scarf of plain worsted. Which was also on sale...

I must learn that on sale does not
equal good. If it's on sale, there may
be a reason.

Actually, I think it's just I don't like working with synthetics. Both of the current yarns are acrylic. Wool is much nicer.

I'm knitting the bouclé on size 10 needles and the worsted on size 9 -- same number of stitches, same pattern. It's amazing to me how differently they're coming out.
Yes sir, this is a learning experience. I'm learning lots. It's good for me.

If I keep telling myself that, maybe I'll start believing it.

P.S. to Kate: I have gotten the yarn for your Remorse Hat clone and shall begin crocheting soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Psychedelic Quakies

These are the same quaking aspens as the picture on March 16, just taken with different exposures. Kinda cool what a difference it makes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Great St. Paddy's Day Recipe

Irish Oat Bread
2 ½ C Oatmeal
2 C Buttermilk or sour milk
3 C Flour
1 Tbs Brown sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking soda

Soak oatmeal overnight (or a minimum of 3 hours) in milk.

Sift together other ingredients and combine with oats. It will look too dry, but don't worry. Knead for a few minutes until a smooth dough forms.

Press dough into 1½ inch thick circle.

Cut deep cross in top for heat penetration.

Place in greased pie pan.

Bake 34 to 40 minutes at 450.

Serve warm.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

Erin Go Braughless - or - An Underwear Disaster

Yesterday I was rushing around cleaning and cooking because the Engineer's company's Spouses Association (our little chapter in a world wide organization) was having the monthly meeting at my house. As I rushed to the recycle bin, my arms clutched full of newspapers, cardboard and bottles, something wet went down my chest. My language went down the toilet.

I didn't have time at that point to stop and change my clothes because folks were about to start arriving.

This morning, in a rush to get out of the house, I wasn't thinking and snatched on the bra I'd worn yesterday.

On my way to the car, I thumped the old bird seed out of the flat feeder and refilled it, then took off on a long drive around the beltway. As I was merging into traffic, I realized that my nose was being horribly offended. Despite the snow, I cracked both windows on my side so that the stink that had blown in could blow back out. The stench grew worse. After driving a couple of more miles, I realized it wasn't coming from outside, it had to be me.

I sniffed at the shoulders of the jacket I was wearing. It seemed okay. I bent my head and took a whiff of the middle of my chest.

I thought I was gunna gag!

I was too far to turn around, and it was just one quick errand that needed doing, so I went ahead and did it.

Of course the line for the cashier was long and slow. I tried to stand back from the person in front of me. The person who came up behind me quickly backed away. I almost died of embarrassment as the cashier waited on me and tried not to breathe and not to give me a "look" at the same time. I wanted to say, "I don't normally smell like this. It's not my hygiene, I spilled garbage water on myself," but I was too embarrassed.

I drove home at highway speed with all windows open. At least it had stopped snowing. I rushed into the house and tore off my clothing, gasping for clean air. I threw the offending bra across the bathroom...And realized it wasn't the bra, it was the sweater I was wearing. That was fresh from the laundry.

Only thing I can figure is that some of the icky old bird seed (or maybe some bird or squirrel poo) I'd knocked out of the feeder had splattered on the sweater. Sure was gross.

Culinary Incompetence

I am reputed to be a "good cook", but there are a couple of things that I simply cannot get right.

The best biscuits I've ever had in my life came from a KFC right on the border of Chapel Hill and Carrboro (Siamese twin towns) in North Carolina. They were light and fluffy, tender and moist, a mile high. Pure ecstasy. Ruth's Diner, in Salt Lake City, has what they call Mile High Biscuits, they are delicious, but they're more like cake than biscuits -- much too sweet to be genuine. I'd never kick one off my plate, though.

I think degree of sweetness in quick breads is a matter of personal preference, but my preference is for not-sweet biscuits and cornbread. I can make truly excellent corn bread, but the Engineer won't eat it. If I make spoon bread, however, he devours it.

Wandered from topic again, haven't I...

Since I can't trot on over to the CH/C, NC KFC, I keep trying to make my own biscuits. Until a couple of weeks ago, all of my efforts were abysmal failures. Got the flavor right on that last batch using a recipe from The Bread Bible (and thank you to my niece for that Christmas present.) They tasted wonderful. I think it's because the recipe called for unsalted butter instead of shortening (yum!) They still didn't have the loft of the best biscuits, but I'm going to work on it.

This morning I ran into my other culinary brick wall. Poached eggs.

Of course, poached eggs are something I love. If they weren't, I'd wouldn't try to cook them, so I wouldn't know I'm terrible at it.

The itch was initiated a couple of weeks ago at my anniversary brunch. I had a smoked salmon egg benedict. The poached egg was perfect.

My Mom makes poached eggs using a little insert for her big sauce pan. It has three removable, round bottomed cups that she smears with margarine then breaks an egg into. As the water in the saucepan boils, it cooks the eggs by steaming them.

This is cheating. Poached eggs are supposed to be dropped naked into boiling water.


Every time I try it, even when I carefully pour the raw egg from a custard cup into the water, the white spins off into a mess of filaments and froth. When I scoop out the sad center that has managed to cling together I end up getting enough water to float the Spanish Armada along with the egg.
Now, imagine that scene from "Gone With the Wind" where Scarlet is standing on the hill with the blazing sunset behind her and the wind blowing her skirt and hair. That's me. And this is my vow: "As God is my witness, some day, some how, I will cook a perfect poached egg!"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ever get a song stuck in your head?

It plays over and over. You can't make it go away.

The first song that ever did that to me was "Tell Me a Story." It was on a kiddy record that my little sister owned. When she realized I didn't like it, she played it continuously. I hate it to this day and can sing all the verses.

I've had lots of songs run a continuous loop through my brain; mostly inane songs, advertising ditties, kids' songs, etc. Occasionally a song that I like will inhabit my head. By the time it moves on, I usually don't much like it any more.

Combating one of these songs can result in a Pyrrhic victory. Like the time I had " Never Been to Me" playing and drowned it out with the Oscar Meyer Wiener song. Which, of course, got stuck itself. If I did drugs or alcohol, I think I would have resorted to them -- heavily.

The most recent one to get stuck is 'Ricky" by Weird Al Yankovic. Why that one? I never loved Lucy. I always loathed Lucy.

Oops, maybe I just answered my own question.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Savage Warrior Kitties

BadStrangerCat likes to torment Kitsu by coming up to the dining room sliding glass doors. She stands on her hind legs and shadow boxes at Kitsu. Kitsu understands that this is a dire threat to her territory and herself, so she howls, growls, hisses and puffs up her fur.

If I'm home, the yowling draws my attention. I run out the back door shouting threats, "BadStrangerCat, get out of my yard! I'm gunna tear your ears off if I catch you! I'll kick your fuzzy tail into next week!" etc, etc.

I suspect the neighbors think I'm crazy, but nobody threatens my kitties and gets away with it.

Today Kitsu persuaded me to let her into the greenhouse. Both cats love to sit on the greenhouse chair cushions in the sun on cold days because the greenhouse is on the south side of the house and toasty warm on sunny afternoons.

Sachi heard the sliding glass door open and came running.

Kitsu did not want to share the greenhouse. She stood on her hind legs in front of the door opening and shadow boxed at Sachi. Sachi was totally unimpressed and waltzed right on in to the greenhouse under Kitsu's punching paws.

Kitsu deflated like a punctured balloon. Why didn't shadow boxing make her horrifying like it does BadStrangerCat? Why didn't Sachi understand the depth of the threat?

Poor paper tiger Kitsu, she don't get no respect.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


The Remorse Hat is finished.
I found buttons I liked and made pompoms.

The pompoms are removable. There's a loop at the top of the cord to button them to the top button and then the cord wraps around the other two buttons. The pompoms are easy to put on and take off.

Now for the hard part -- the letter to go with the hat.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Early Anniversary

Thursday the 6th is the Engineer's and my 9th anniversary. Perfectly amazing that he hasn't strangled me and I haven't hit him with my baseball bat. Isn't that the case with anyone you live with, though? I do think he's cute and he's never boring, so I guess I'll keep him. He seems pretty fond of me too.

Since he's going off to Houston next weekend to go to The Rodeo and see Martina McBride with a hot blond (actually, she's non-genetic family, but it gives him a cheap thrill when I say he's going with a hot blond) we went out to brunch today at the Glitretind Restaurant at Stein Ericksen Lodge for an early celebration.

It's not every day we eat at a five star restaurant -- thank goodness, the prices would kill us!

Fortunately it's at a ski resort, so you don't have to dress for brunch. Half the folks there were clomping around in ski boots and bib overall ski pants. Everyone was intent on doing some serious damage to the buffet and their waistlines.

When I visit a spread like that, I don't fill up on bread rolls and salad, I head straight for the expensive protein and out of season fruit. The Engineer was a happy glutton because they had fish in multiple formats. Lox, shrimp, crab claws, muscles, clams, sushi, pickled herring, encrusted halibut, eggs benedict with smoked salmon instead of Canadian bacon -- he laid waste to all of the seafood. I staged an assault on the prime rib, shrimp and bacon, and surrounded them with raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.

I did take one crab claw. I didn't realize it, but the cocktail sauce had migrated to puddle under the crab claw, so when I picked it up to crack it open, I got red sauce all over my fingers.

So I daintily cleaned them off on my napkin and continued with the feast.

Perhaps my parents should have named me Grace. When I stood up, I realized that I had missed my napkin and wiped cocktail sauce all over the white table cloth. At a five star restaurant.

I wonder if the Engineer will ever take me out again...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Schizophrenic March

This morning dawned sunny and balmy. It actually got up to 61, the warmest it's been in months. The snow was all gone from the picnic table.

Then the wind started to blow. The temperature dropped more than 20 degrees in one hour. Rain began to fall and quickly turned to snow. There's about 4 inches on the picnic table now.

That's March.