Thursday, February 28, 2008

Project II, I'm On a Roll

It may be the time of year. Last winter I got all crafty -- for two scarfs' worth, anyway. The first one I knit, the second I crocheted.

This year, I went at it again and produced the Möbius scarf for my cousin SuziTheFloozy (that's her e-mail handle, not a description of her proclivities.) I mailed it last week, but don't know if she's received it yet. Snail-mail earned its nickname.

Then I decided to make a Remorse Hat. I have/had a very dear friend with whom I have lost contact. Totally my fault. I moved and forgot to give her my new address.

I'm not the world's greatest letter writer and after a year or so of not writing, I was so embarrassed I didn't know what to say. I'm not going to tell you how long it's been now, but it's way past mere embarrassment.

So I decided to knit her a hat. Don't know why, just did. So I looked at 50 bazillion hat patterns on-line and in library books until I found one I liked, I thought she would like and looked easy enough for a neophyte knitter to accomplish. I got the yarn and decided on alternate trim -- the little sunflowers are cute, but I wanted something a bit more sophisticated.

Then I realized I had no earthly idea of how to knit in the round. Oops.

Ah well, what the hell, crochet is not constricted to two dimensions. I got out my trusty crochet hook and had at that yarn.

Ended up with one ridiculous looking hat.

All was not lost, however... Did you know that felting is just totally in style?

I went to the thrift store and bought a pair of white tennis shoes for $3, turned the old Maytag on as hot as it would go and let the shoes stomp that hat into submission.
The first form I tried to block the resulting sodden mess on didn't quite work. The hat is too deep and the pot handle made a notch in the bottom of it.

I made a tight roll of three old bath towels. Looks like they'll do the trick. The string is to attached the planned trim: two pompoms that will fasten to a gold button and be removable (depending upon whether she thinks pompoms are cute or dorky.)Now to work on a long and heartfelt letter to go with it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Scragging the Comments

I adore getting comments on my blog. It means it's more than just mental masturbation (can I say that word in a mostly "G" rated blog?)

Sometimes, though, I accidentally kill them when trying to post them.

The problem, you see, is the button colors in Blogger's interface. The color for "Publish" and "Reject" is blue. For both of 'em. Now how am I supposed to tell the difference? Do they expect me to actually read or something?I hit the one on the right for go and it went all right, right into the irretrievable aether.

So, Anonymous, sorry about that. I really did mean to publish your comment about my vocabulary. And, no, you're not the first one to say that I never use a nickel word when a 25¢ one will do. If it helps at all, I don't spell the little ones much better than I spell the big ones, which is why I say, "Hallelujah for spell checkers!"

Thank you for your comment and please feel free to try again, maybe I'll get it right.

Happy Cats

Sachi and Kitsu would like to send a shout out to the EarringLady and her MaineCoon cat. They own the best cat tree ever because the MaineCoon was too big for it. He tipped it over every time he tried to hop up, so EarringLady passed it along to the girls. It's their favorite place for supervising kitchen activities. And it keeps them out from under my feet, so thanks from me too.Thank you also to my ChosenSister who made the pink meow pillow, or Kitsu's Power Beneath the Throne Cushion, as I like to call it.

The thing about having two cats in one house is you cannot have CatA and CatB, you cannot have Cat1 and Cat2, nor can you have CatPrime and CatSubPrime. You must CatA and Cat Prime so that they both can call themselves Cat Number 1. The pink meow pillow and the proper attitude allows for this in the dual cat kitchen.

The Crock Pot Prophylactic

I use my crock pot a lot. It's a great way to have a meal ready at the end of a day without having to fuss. The one thing I didn't like about it was the clean-up. Geeze o' pete, that was a pain in the derriere. My crock pot is a Salvation Army crock pot; a battered old timer that came without a lid. But I measured the top diameter of the crock and found a glass lid that (kinda) fits.

A couple of years ago I discovered crock pot prophylactics and now I'm a happy homemaker. (Ain't that phrase enough to make a feminist retch?)

Tonight's dinner is a cheap pork roast that will be transformed by the crock pot into ambrosia.

1. Insert prophylactic.

2. Season meat.

3. Stuff meat into crock pot.

4. Pour in your chosen liquid to just cover the meat. I like to use the Engineer's leftover coffee, my theory is that the acids in the coffee help tenderize the meat. Believe it or not, it does not smell or taste like coffee. I don't do this if we are having Mormons for dinner company, wouldn't want to violate their prohibition on "hot drinks", but otherwise, for pork or beef, coffee is my liquid of choice. If there's not enough coffee, I will use water or canned broth to top if off.

5. Stick in a bay leaf or two -- for the aroma if nothing else.

6. Pop the lid on and cook at the appropriate setting for at least six or seven hours. I always turn the overhang on the prophylactic up like an Elizabethan collar because the replacement lid doesn't quite fit. Turning it up funnels any condensate back into the crock pot instead of letting it drip on the counter.

7. Unplug crock pot and use one of those kitchen tools that looks like a kitty litter scoop and a pair of tongs to retrieve the meat. You'll need both because it should be falling apart tender.

8. If you want to, scoop out a little of the liquid to make gravy. My fluffy parts don't need the extra calories, so I don't. (I deserve kudos for this because I love gravy.)

9. Serve and enjoy.

10. After crock pot has cooled enough that you won't be burned, move it right next to the sink, carefully lift the prophylactic from the crock and drain it into the disposer. Throw the prophylactic away and rinse out the crock.

Dinner's over, the Engineer's full and happy. He does love pork, potatoes and cabbage.

Best part, NO soaking or scrubbing the pot. Yay, hurray!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cat Alarm

I heard great rattlings and rustlings coming from my office closet, then a snarling cat bolted out of it. She darted under the desk chair, crouched over her prey, growling.

I bent over and looked to see what she had.

"Oh crud, she's got a rabbit!"

As I bent to rescue it, I realized that she had gotten into my arts and craps storage box and pulled out a roll of three rabbit skins I've had for years. I'd made a cavewoman doll for my niece and bought pelts to make her clothing.

Ah well, had my squirt of adrenalin for the day

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Möbius Scarf - Chapter 3

The scarf is Möbiused. The end-to-end anastomosis wasn't at all difficult. The seam isn't immediately visible to the naked eye, though it has a firmer texture to the palping finger. I took all of the remaining yarn (including the remaining ends after weaving in the extra from joining the three skeins of yarn), made a scruffy little pompom and hung it from the seam. This is a very metaphysically safe scarf in that it is very imperfect. Many ancient lores hold that it is not safe to strive for perfection, thus angering the gods. Remember Arachne who challenged the goddess Athena to a weaving contest and ended up being turned into a spider for her winning efforts. Spiders weave webs to this day.

Navaho and Hopi weavers always make sure there is a break in the patterns of their woven rugs. I have heard two explanations: 1. That perfection not p.o. the gods. 2. The break ensures that the weaver's soul will not be trapped in the pattern.

Sure hope SuziTheFloozy likes it and that she will be as safe in the wearing as I was in the knitting.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Scarf Stage 2

The knitting is done. How do I know this? Simple, I have no more yarn.

The scarf is 4½ feet long and one foot wide. I knit two thirds of it on aluminum needles, then switched to bamboo. I like the bamboo better, they're not so cold and they make a nicer sound when they click together and slide off each other.

Now I need to put a twist in it and neatly join the ends, an end-to-end anastomosis as it were, to make it into a Möbius scarf.

I hadn't realized when I started this project that the knitting world had been-there-done-that with the Möbius scarf until I got a comment on my earlier scarf post from a knitter named Marsha. Now I'm going to have to try one on circular needles so it won't have a seam.

Rumor has it that there's a knitted Klein Bottle purse too. That I gotta see.

It Looks Just Like Him

When I was grocery shopping on Valentine's Day, I saw this peeking out of a pastel pile of stuffed animals. It looks just like the Engineer. I had to buy it for him.

He thinks it looks like him too (except for no mustache.)

Death Dreams

Sometimes I dream of my imminent death. It's usually either a car crash or a fall from a height. In the car crash dreams, I'm stomping on the brake as hard as I can, but I know the car isn't going to stop in time.

This evening I dozed off in my recliner after I finished the knitting on the Möbius scarf. I dreamed that I was leaping for the top of an escarpment, but I missed. I did not have my safety line on. I shouted for the Engineer to save me, but he wasn't there.

Adrenaline jolted through my body and I jerked awake with my heart slamming against my ribs.

I never actually splat like a bug on a windshield in my dreams. I always snatch myself awake a nanosecond before impact. Sometimes I shout as I sit bolt-upright in bed.

I wonder what would happen if I didn't wake.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bird Pictures

I have two digital cameras. An Olympus point and shoot that I share with the Engineer and a Canon 20D that's mine. The Olympus is great for snap shots, it's what I mostly use for illustrating the blog, but you sure can tell the difference sometimes.

The Steller's jay was shot with the Olympus.

The house finch was taken with the Canon with a 300mm lens. They were about the same distance away.

No contest.

Plastic Grocery Bags

I went to the grocery store yesterday. Normally I carry in my own canvas bags, but I didn't go to my regular store, so I guess my autopilot turned off. I didn't realize until I was in the check-out line that I'd forgotten to bring them in. (They live in the back seat of my car.)

I hate plastic grocery bags. Whoever designed them should be forced, like Sisyphus, to forever carry the dang things up a hill only to have all of the groceries spill out so that he would have to go back down the hill, collecting the spilled groceries on his way, so that he could haul them back up again.

Being not quite as dim as an 6 watt bulb, I tied shut all the tops on the bags so that I wouldn't have a trunk full of loose groceries upon my arrival home. After I emptied them, I stuffed the multitude of bags into the recycle bin. I don't feel as wasteful as I would had they gone into the trash, but still, I hate 'em.
Plastic grocery bags annoy me almost as much as check-out clerks who put cans on top of my bananas.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Happy Valentine's Day!

Thar She Blows!

The snow, that is.

My neighbor's poor snow dude is up to his belly button in the drifted snow that shut down I15 for hours last night.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Continuing Saga of Wunx~'s Knitting

Knit one, perl one, knit one, perl one.

Which row am I on? Am I supposed to start with a knit or a perl?

Am I even knitting and perling properly?

Comparing what I'm doing to the diagrams in "Knitting For Dummies", I look to be all bass-akwards.

Ah well, so far I've produced 12" by 24" of something that seems to be holding together. I think I'm going to make it into a Möbius scarf. That would be totally cool.

A Pretty Good Day

First thing this morning, I headed to the Red Cross for my apheresis appointment. It's the only way I get to see movies since the Engineer won't watch them. I lay in a very comfy chair with a needle in each arm, watching a DVD (The Simpsons Movie) while the machine sucked the blood out of my right arm, sent it through a centrifuge which separated out the platelets and some plasma, then pumped red cells and saline back into my left arm. Such fun. Somebody's gotta do it, though. I have an excellent platelet count, so they usually take "a triple unit of product" each time I go.

Then I went to visit a friend who recently had surgery. She's looking a whole lot better. I ran a couple of errands then came on home and ordered some seeds. Oh boy, oh joy!

From Seeds of Change, I ordered Armenian Cucumber and Turkish Eggplant seeds.

From Tomato Growers Supply Company, I ordered eight kinds of tomato seeds, Brandywine-Sudduth's Strain, Brandywine-Landis Valley Strain, Yellow Brandywine-Platfoot Strain, Mr. Stripey, Black Pear, Black Plum, German Johnson and Sun Sugar, and one packet o' Sweet Pickle Pepper seeds.

Tomorrow I'm going to order a bunch of assorted seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds. Their prices are the best, but they didn't have a couple of the varieties I wanted.

The seeds should arrive next week when the Engineer's out of town so I will be able to make as big a mess as I want in the greenhouse getting them planted.

As long as I clean up before he gets home...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Ice Maker

The ice maker started acting up in November. By the first of the year, it was only putting out ice intermittently. It stopped entirely the middle of January.

The Engineer, being an engineer, wants to think that he is in control of all household devices, so I have been asking him to fix it from the get-go. When it stopped entirely, I told him I wanted to get an appliance repair man out, but he told me he'd fix it.

I finally got tired of waiting and took the problem into my own hands. When he got home tonight, I announced that I'd fixed the ice machine.

"Oh, how?" he asked.

"Take a look," I replied.
For some reason, he didn't think it was funny.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Kate Made Me

I had a lovely afternoon today. Kate, of High Altitude Gardening, came down from her mountain top and we went out to lunch then to Cactus and Tropicals. She bought a pink Alstroemeria from the sale table and said I had to get something too: Purty, ain't it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Learning to Perl

I learned how to knit when I was in grade school. Santa Claus left two giant yellow needles, a ball of fat white yarn and an instruction sheet in my stocking. Using the instructions, I quickly figured out the knit part, but the perl part baffled me.

I made matters worse by asking my Mom, who knits better than anyone else in the universe, to show me how to perl. The lesson is an unpleasant memory to this day. I never did get the hang of perl. In fact, for years I ran screaming from the room if I heard the word "perl."

But I decided it was about time. I had made my Cousin SuziTheFloozy a pair of earrings for Christmas only to discover her ears are not pierced. Oops. So I decided to knit her a scarf instead. She lives up in the frozen northern Midwest, she needs a scarf.

Bought some beautiful blue ombre yarn for the scarf, but I wanted to do something nicer than knit, knit, knit for the whole length of the scarf. So the yarn sat there waiting for me. Then Tuesday morning, I went to Tuesday Morning and bought some even more beautiful multicolor merino yarn. I stopped at the library on the way home and picked up "Knitting For Dummies."

I can now perl.

I think.

Unfortunately, the four skeins of yarn I bought at Tuesday Morning are not going to be enough to make a scarf. I scanned what I managed to get out of the first skein on my Epson flatbed. As you can see, it didn't get very far.

Sure is pretty though.
I started on the blue ombre yarn today. Now to figure out what to do with the short block I've already knitted out of the merino yarn. I'm thinking maybe a hat.

Anybody out there have any good hat patterns?

Scrub Jays

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tuesday Morning

Tuesday morning I went to the car repair. I'd run my car over a curb a week ago and it seemed to have a bump-bump-bump when going 65 mph, so I was afraid I'd whacked the alignment. The mechanic said I hadn't bent anything, but that it was no wonder I was slippin' and slidin'. Seems all four of my tires were down to the wear bars.

And there goes a nice little chunk o' change getting four new all weather tires for the Subaru.

After the car repair, I decided to go to Tuesday Morning - it seemed somehow serendipitous. Tuesday Morning is a store that sells odds and ends left over from lord only knows where. They'd had a mailer a week or so ago that said they had bamboo drawer dividers. Since the Engineer's been saying we need a drawer divider for the flatware, I decided to go buy one.

$84 later, I left the joint.
Geeze o' pete, that place is as bad as Sam's Club. Go in intending to buy one thing, come out with half the store.

It's my own fault, I let myself get seduced by colors, textures and low, low prices.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

They Did It Again

Dang cats are in a bird hunting frenzy. One of them caught a scrub jay Saturday and brought it in. The Engineer and I tried to corner Sachi, who had the bird in her mouth, but she dropped it and it flew up to the highest part of the living room ceiling. The Engineer got out the latex gloves, butterfly net and step ladder again, but managed to fall off the step ladder and land on his bad knee. I caught the jay (barehanded, oh, the cooties!) and let it go outside.

Today I got home from the car repair and they had a house finch. I took that one away from them too. Then hurried to clean up the evidence and vacuum before I went out again to vote.This is getting really old, and I know the birds like it a whole lot less than I do.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

So Hard Sometimes

When I arrived at the grocery store yesterday, I followed in a woman, her tween daughter and her two year old, who was in a stroller. The little kid was anger crying at the top of her lungs.

I'm a slow shopper. I read labels, pick out just the right pieces of produce, talk to many of the store employees. It seemed like every time I turned around, there was the stroller-confined siren. The kid had an unending supply of snot and tears. She screamed commands at her Mom.

"I want a toy!"

"I don't wanna be here!"

The Mom pleaded with her to calm down, asking, "Do you want a cookie? Do you want a donut?"


The monster kept screaming.

I finally got to the checkout line and began putting my groceries on the belt.

Who should push their cart in behind me, but the siren's Mom. It was so hard. I wanted so badly to bend down and say right to that beastly baby's face, "It's a good thing I'm not your Mom, I'd sell you to the goblins."

Deep down, though, I know it's the Mom's fault for letting her kid howl like that. Maybe I should try to sell the Mom to the goblins.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Stark Naked

Sometimes I wonder why we get upset about the things we get upset about. Particularly, I wonder why nakedness and sex are rated X. Seems to me that everyone is running around stark naked under their clothes 7/24. We all have the same basic parts with a few modifications for gender. True, the parts come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, but (to quote a very old commercial) "parts is parts."

And what's the hoo-hah about sex? Not a one of us would be here without it. Though I have to admit that I suspect I was probably an immaculate conception and I know my mother was. My grandparents doing the deed... I don't even remotely want to go there.

I do understand not wanting kids to indulge in sex promiscuously. Some of the diseases out there are darn scary and unwanted pregnancies can be tragic. So why not just tell them the truth, give them the facts. They're going to do it anyway, but at least they'll know what they're doing and how to stay safe.

Personally, I think it would be great if, upon hitting puberty, everyone had little plugs put into their tubes to keep the gametes contained. Then, when they truly wanted to reproduce, they could get the plugs removed. Note the "they", both partners would have to want a baby in order to make one.

Ah well, I'm a dreamer. I've got bigger dreams too, but we won't go into them here.

Sex has become quite a commodity here in the USA. Don't know if it showed in your neighborhood, but I actually saw the infamous Paris Hilton Carl's Jr. commercial on broadcast TV before it got pulled. Didn't make me want to eat a BBQ burger in the least bit. To be perfectly honest, it did make me laugh my butt off.

Sex is so intrinsically funny. There ain't no dignity to it. If done properly both participants (I'm not traveling into the wilder realms here) get all hot and sweaty and make mindless noises. Almost everybody wants to do it -- we're hardwired to want to do it. So many folks seem to go at it like it was some sort of a contest.

Of course, hypocrite that I am, I wouldn't want to go running around without my clothes on. They keep me warm in the winter, prevent sunburn in the summer, and cover the parts that ain't so pretty.

Most of us, especially those of us out of our 20's, aren't smooth and sleek and flawless anymore.

Even kitties are less lovely nekkid.