Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It's Supposed To Be Springtime

It was 80 degrees yesterday and now it's snowing again.This is getting to be a little redundant.

P.S. May 1st there was three inches of snow on the picnic table.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Howling At the Moon

If you think you hear a long, quavering, plaintive howl, you're right, but it ain't no coyote, it's me.

Red Butte Garden is having its annual plant sale this weekend. So is the Iris Society.

And where am I going to be?

In Houston, land of sweat and asphalt. Dressed in my grownup clothes and wearing uncomfortable shoes. Just like every other year.

Evil Language!

Not only can I not buy any goodies for my garden, I can't tempt Kate of High Altitude Gardening to commit sins against her budget. Crumb!

Ah, but the next weekend, May 10th, is the Wasatch Community Gardens sale. It's a good one.

You up for it Kate? I'll even get up early so we can get there at 8:00.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Sweetest and the Cutest?

Look at these adorable kitties. Don't they just make you go, "Awww."
They're tricksie little wenches. Next time you see them, they'll be kicking clumps of fur out of each other.

I've learned to enjoy moments like this while I can.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Feeding the Male

In a man's younger years, a particular part of his anatomy leads him. At this stage in life, the main way a woman can catch his attention is by having big boobs. I don't care if men try to be politically correct and deny it, say it's her mind that attracts, they all like boobs.

In later years, it's his stomach that leads him. I may not have a head-turning bod, but I definitely keep him well fed and happy.

So far this week it's been:
  • Saturday: Baked cod with parmigiana mashed potatoes and green cabbage
  • Sunday: Roast pork tenderloin with cheese ravioli marinara and spinach
  • Monday: Lamb shank with mixed grains and corn (I let him pick the veggie -- if I let him pick it's always either peas or corn -- I was hoping for peas.)
  • Tuesday: Leftovers -- by which I mean pork tenderloin (I cooked two on Sunday) with potato pancakes made from the leftover parmigiana potatoes and shallots, and fresh asparagus.
  • Wednesday: He's out of town so I'll have a salad.

When he's in town and not entertaining important dignitaries or mooching off a department meeting lunch, I make him a sandwich. Monday it was pork tenderloin and cheese, Tuesday it was cod and cheese. In case you haven't guessed, fish and pork are his favorites. Cheese is also high on the list. The bread is usually homemade.

Monday night I was pretty groggy when I made his sandwich for Tuesday, so when I reached into the refrigerator to get the condiments, I came out with mayo and mustard.

What was I thinking?!?!?

The Engineer has to have the same spread on all of his sandwiches, and it certainly isn't anything as mundane as mustard and mayo.

I squeeze a big dollop of ketchup on the bread, then I put a blob of hot horseradish on the ketchup and mix them together well.

Mmmmm, yummy -- NOT!

But it makes him happy, so I do it.


Potato Pancake Recipe

Saute some diced shallots in a little olive oil.
In a medium bowl, beat together two eggs and some milk.
Add a scoop of flour, salt and pepper to taste and a half teaspoon of baking powder, mix together well.
Add a cup or two of leftover mashed potatoes. Moosh up until most of the lumps are gone.
Stir the cooked shallots into the batter.
Cook pancakes on a hot nonstick skillet well sprayed with Pam until golden brown on both sides.
Serve hot with butter and/or sour cream

(I ate two, he ate the other six.)

The FLDS Mess

The Engineer is addicted to the news. From the time he gets home until the time he turns off the lights the TV is on, playing the news. Since we live in Utah, the El Dorado FLDS mess has been playing on the news nightly and occupying the front page of the newspaper.

Last week, a group of FLDS women were on CNN on the Larry King Show. It was heart wrenching to listen to them. Not, as I'm sure the FLDS men were hoping, because their children had been taken, but rather because it looked and sounded like their minds and souls had been stolen.

If you keep up with the news at all, you've seen images of them, all dressed in pastel shirtwaist dresses with leg o' mutton sleeves, their hair pompadoured and french braided. They walk slightly hunched, showing their submission to the world.

All of them seem to speak in a childlike half whisper. The women interviewed on Larry King refused to deviate from their scripted answers regardless of what questions they were asked. They must have been instructed not to say anything about the FLDS men because when they were asked about their husbands, they would respond, "The women need their children back. Our children are crying. We are good mothers."

Women who have escaped the FLDS and boys who have been cast out are pretty much universal in their stories of isolation from the outside world, of lack of education and the requirement of absolute obedience to the men in power. It's hard to believe that such subjugation can take place in this country.

I wish that scores of women could proudly walk into that compound in El Dorado with backs straight and heads high, speaking in loud confident voices to liberate the brainwashed women and children.

And I'd like to empty the wallets and bank accounts of the dehumanizing elder men to pay for unbrainwashing their chattel women and children and integrating them into the modern world.

If it was even possible.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Photographing Colors

Why is it that some colors simply will not photograph properly?

Have you ever tried to take a picture of a blue flower? It ain't your fault if it came out lavender or purple -- they're like that, obstreperously uncooperative. If you look at the flowers labeled as blue in seed catalogs, you may notice that the leaves are also blue from the color correction done on the blooms.

And this dang ball of yarn,
photographed multiple times with varying white balance settings, in daylight on a neutral color background.

Now what color would you call it?


That's what it looks like.

It's a little better here in photo #umpteen after fiddling with it in Photoshop.
But it's really red.

Red, RED, RED!

It's frustrating.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Again With the Bad Cats

The girls were at it again today. They caught a spotted towhee and brought it in to play with. I heard the excitement and took it away from them. I've always had a way with birds, they calm right down when I hold them. There hadn't been towhees at the feeder during the winter, and there have been quite a few of them in the last couple of weeks. I think they must be migrating through.

Maybe that's why the cats are being more successful in their hunting -- Kate has been complaining about the same phenomenon -- the passers-through don't know about the evil felines and aren't as cautious as the local birds.

I locked the girls in the house the rest of the day as a reward. I hope their little cat brains figure out this cause and effect.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It Was 81 Degrees Yesterday

And look what it's gone and done today...

New Day, New Blog

Or if I'm going to be accurate: new night, new blog.

I decided the knitting stuff was niche material, so I've given it its own blog:
The Clueless Crafter.

Seems to fit with the Witless Wanderer theme.

Monday, April 14, 2008

He Loves Me

The Engineer and I went to the American Women Geoscientists annual silent auction and wine tasting on Saturday evening. I saw an ammonite necklace that tickled my fancy, so I put the opening bid on it. It was upped a couple of times, so I rebid. I rebid again after a few more uppings. The Engineer wandered by just as my third bid was trumped. I sighed.

He asked, "Do you really like it?"

"Yes," I replied.

So he walked over and bid 50% over the last bid.

He's an engineer through and through, he's not comfortable with human emotion, but he loves me.

I'm more than a little fond of him too.

The Continuing Story of Knitting Misadventures

Another blog about knitting to celebrate my invitation to join Ravelry. Ooh, ahh, folks who won't think this content is boring!

I decided to knit my brother a hat. I figured he needs one, he lives just south of the US/Canadian border. Cold, cold, cold in the winter and mosquitos the size of fighter jets in the summer. Obviously the hat should be made of 100% wool.

Being adventurous, I decided to make my first Internet yarn purchase and ordered two balls of "Superwash Chunky" from I'm still very much in learning stages, so the yarn wasn't quite what I was expecting, but, what the heck, I started in with the knitting. When I was approaching the end of the first ball of yarn, I realized that I was not going to have enough to complete the hat.

Now I'm not so much of a neophyte that I don't know about dye lots. I'm not sure where I learned about them, but seems like I've been aware of them forever. I knew the problem with ordering more of the same yarn was that I would be taking potluck on the dye lot. The Engineer may not be able to tell blue from green, but I am very color aware, so I decided to make a new start on the BrotherHat. I got some Debbie Bliss "Donegal Tweed Chunky" and began all over again.

But what to do with the partially knit hat. Hmmm... My brother's daughters live up in the frozen northland with him, they need wool to keep them warm too. The color wasn't quite up to lively tween tastes, but I could work around that. I bought some Lion "Fun Fur" and knit it double with the rest of the green into a smaller hat. Learned about knitting by braille. Geeze o' pete, I couldn't see what the heck I was doing with all of those silly eyelashes in the way. Also ordered a couple more balls of the Superwash. I plan on adding scarves to both side of the beanie in stripes of furry and not-furry. I figure that way it won't matter if the dye lots match or not.

So I knit and knit on the BrotherHat until I had 12 inches, then moved to double pointed needles -- yet another learning experience. How the dickens does anyone gracefully maneuver that many needles at one time? It felt like I was trying to make love to a porcupine. I did manage to close it up, though.

I tried it on. It was just a wee bit too big. So I had the Engineer try it on. It was just a wee bit too big. Dang! And then, to make it even better, that dim little bulb over my head finally lit up...

My brother is bald. No chance of getting out of it, my Mom's Dad was bald, so that's what she thought was attractive, so that's what she married. Brother gets the gene from both sides, he had no chance of retaining his hair past his early 20'a. Anyway, it suddenly occurred to me that his naked scalp might find the 100% wool tweed just a wee bit itchy.


But, of course, I came up with an elegant solution. I got a couple of skeins of Noro "Cash Iroha", 40% silk with lambswool, cashmere and a little nylon for strength, and knitted a liner. Now to stitch the liner in and block it.

This is gunna be one warm hat. (Better be, it sure as heck wasn't cheap.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Exorcising a Demon

I had a bad, bad dream last night. It was about someone I love. I'll call him Guy.

I was in a house in a semi-rural western mountainous area with the Engineer and Guy. The neighbor was over. We heard her dog start barking like a maniac. We looked out the kitchen window just as the dog started shrieking. He was being killed by four grizzly bears, a big sow and her three almost grown cubs.

We turned from the window in helpless horror.

When the dog's cries stopped, her horse started screaming. The Engineer and Guy ran from the room. I stood paralyzed for a moment before I realized they might be planning something stupid. I ran after them.

They were on the front porch trying to scare the grizzlies away by squirting them with the garden hose.

At first the bears looked puzzled, but then one of them started moving towards the house.

"Get in, get in, get in!" I shouted, "Grizzlies are fast, get in the house!"

The Engineer came in. I continued to shout at Guy.

He turned and came through the open screen door. He looked me right in the eyes, then he grasped the knob of the wooden door and pulled it shut while he was still on the outside.

I snatched the door open and stared through the slowly closing screen door as Guy stepped off the porch and walked deliberately towards the grizzlies. His back was straight and his strides were sure.

"Get in, get in, get in!" I screamed.

He stood between the bears and looked at them like he had looked at me, then he spread his arms and tilted his chin up to look at the sky.

I screamed myself awake just as the biggest bear rose to her hind legs and swung a sledgehammer paw to decapitate Guy.

I've been crying off and on all day because Guy is in a bad space in real life and there's nothing I can do to help him out of it. This dream was too real, too possible. I don't know what to do other than accept that he has to make his own life choices. I hope he knows I love him, though. And that I'm not the only one who does.

Writing this doesn't seem to have exorcised the demon. It's still gnawing on my heart.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Keeping His Ears Warm

I knit my beloved Engineer a headband to keep his ears warm when he skis. After telling me he liked the color, he said it needed to be lined - and he didn't say "Thank you."

He accepts gifts so graciously.

Instead of strangling him, I went ahead and knit a whole 'nother ski band to make a reversible ear warmer.

I decided to be romantic. Our wedding rings were custom-made with a Latvian good luck pattern on them, so I did my gauge swatch (is the virtue shining out of me, or what?) then printed out some custom knitting graph paper from a Japanese knitting web site, tata-tatao. (Amazing what you can find on the web.) I graphed out the pattern of the wedding ring as best I could in the space I had. Then I had to knit the darn thing. It was (gee, have I ever said this before) a learning experience. I knit from the left side of the graph to the right side, then knit the other half while counting backwards. I put yellow highlighter on the graph rows as I completed them so I would know where I was in the pattern. I perled all the places I wanted to be flat and knit the places I wanted to be raised. It works with cables, so I figured it would work with lines too.


Ah well, edumacation, it's good for me.

I decided I liked the wrong side better than the right side, so I whipstitched it to the original headband so that the inside was the outside - or was it the inside was inside - or some such dang thing.

Anyway, here it is. It looks better on because the pattern is more visible when it's stretched.

Dr. PickyEngineer likes it and thinks it will now be warm enough to keep his tender parts toasty. (And he didn't say "Thank you," again. Poo-poo face butt head!)

It Makes Me Think

This link,,
leads to a series of photographic portraits taken of people before and after their deaths. There are brief quotes from the talks they had with the photographer about dying.

Some of them look so at peace. Some of them don't.

I didn't find it disturbing, but rather deeply affecting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bad Cats

Sometimes I don't like my cats very much.

It can be hard to wrap my head around their duality. Right now Sachi is laying over my forearms as I type, purring, snuggling, doing the happy cat march on my boobs. Occasionally she will reach up with a loving paw and pat my face. (Of course, right now she's started licking her butt -- how utterly charming.)

Then I walk into a room and find something like this.

Sachi, Kitsu, both of them are bloody little predators. They kill with joy. Even though their tummies are full of the expensive canned cat food, even though they have crunchies in their dish 7/24, they delight in slaughter.

I never used to understand when my Mom told me when I was a kid, "I love you, but sometimes I don't like you at all."

Now I do.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bacon and Wonder Bread

My Mom was never much of a cook, so I grew up on Velveeta and frozen vegetables. We always had good bakery bread, though. Wonder Bread was not on the menu.

Even as a child, if I had a slice of Wonder Bread I thought the only reasonable thing to do with it was pull the crust off, roll the middle into hard little balls and flick the balls at the other kids. Even better to put a little spit on them right before you flicked so they'd stick.

I was also known to call it "marshmallow bread" and say the "Wonder" was on the name because you wondered if it was really bread.

Yes, I'm a bread snob. I usually won't eat grocery store bread unless it's Le Brea, which is one of the best breads ever. Its only real competition is homemade bread or Spatz bread. I would commit minor crimes for a loaf of Spatz bread, but, unfortunately, you can only get it right around Saginaw, Michigan.

The best breakfast in the history of the universe (and I am not indulging in hyperbole) is a bacon sandwich. Not a BLT, nothing so fancy as that. You simply toast two pieces of bread, butter them and fill 'em up with bacon. It is heaven.

It cannot be just any bread, though. Wonder bread would be sacrilege. It has to be a bread with character. Spatz is best, but homemade or Le Brea will also work. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

My Mom might not have been a cook, but she did teach all her kids about the best breakfast ever.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

The Remorse Hat has been rechristened the Happy Hat.

I made the hat last month and sent it off last week to a long lost (totally my fault) friend, along with a card and a letter for her birthday.

She called today. She's not mad, just glad to hear from me after all this time.

I am so happy!

Male Psychology

Read an interesting article today.

In the Shivpuri district of the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, the government is giving gun permits to men who get vasectomies.

Seems shooting bullets with a gun more than compensates the macho men for shooting blanks biologically. I don't even want to begin thinking about the ramifications of this.

God, I'm glad I'm a woman.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


There was an Amber Alert in Salt Lake City yesterday for a seven year old Burmese girl. They found her last night. Dead. In an apartment in the complex where she lived. She and other neighborhood kids played and watched TV in the apartment she was found in. The man who's been arrested is also a refugee from Burma.

Why do people do these things? How can they live with themselves afterwards?

I didn't know the little girl or anyone involved, but there's a big burning hole in the middle of me thinking about her and the family who loved her.

It's not right, it's not fair.

Why do these things happen to the innocent?

Interim Knitting

The Engineer has been watching me as I've learned to knit and I've been asking him what I could knit for him. He doesn't wear knit hats except for an ancient, raggedy, pale blue doubleknit. My Mom knit both the Engineer and the Twin hats for skiing last year and neither hat has ever seen the light of day.

The Engineer never wears a scarf or mittens.

My Mom also made him a beautiful fisherman knit sweater a few years ago which has lived at the bottom of a drawer since he received it.

Now I'm not implying that I could even begin to contemplate knitting him a whole sweater. With his track record, I assure you, I'm not ever going to try. It would be a total waste of time.

But the light bulb finally went off yesterday. He likes to wear ear warmer headbands when he skis. The one he has now is pretty ratty, so...

I remembered an old, old partial skein of 100% wool worsted tweed in my stash, so I dug it out.

I wanted something that would knit up fast in case it got deep-sixed like so much other stuff, so I decided to knit with the yarn doubled. I looked on-line for a pattern, but didn't find anything that tickled my fancy. I decided to go it alone, knitted up a swatch to get the gauge, did the math, and set to. From swatch to weaving in the ends, it took me about two hours.

Here it is.I rolled it up and tied a gold ribbon around it then stuck it in the fridge on top of his beer. (It's a place he's always bound to look.)

His comments upon finding it were (in order):

"What's this?"

He untied the ribbon and unrolled it. "A headband. I like it, it's a good color."

He tried it on. It fit. "It's not lined. The wind will whistle through my ears."

"And all the way through your head," I wanted to reply.

Ah well, I've got one ball of a very soft and lovely gray merino that I will knit into another headband. I will put it inside of this one and he'll have a fancy-dancy reversible headband.

Which he'd better wear if he wants to live.

Ribbed Ski Headband

Worsted weight yarn, unknown yardage, but less than 3 oz.
Size 13, 16-inch circular needles
Knit with two strands of yarn held together
Gauge: 10 stitches / 4 inches
Finished size: 21 inches circumference by 5 inches

Cast on 61 stitches

Round 1: Slip last stitch cast on onto left side of needle and knit it together with the first stitch that was cast on to make 60 stitches total. Perl one, then *knit one, perl one* until end of round.

Slip a ring on the needle to mark the beginning/end of the round before beginning next round

Rounds 2 & 3: *Knit one, perl one*

Rounds 4 to 13: *Knit three, perl three*

Rounds 14 to 16: *Knit one, perl one*

Bind off.