Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Mother/My Stalker

When I rang my mother the other day, she began to reminisce. I’m not sure what it was that triggered it. Could have been the weather, I suppose. Anyway, she said she’d been thinking of me earlier in the day.

“Do you remember when you worked at Venture?” she asked.

“Yes...” I said, not sure where this was going.

“And you would work really late, and get off work at 11 or 12?”

“Uh huh...” I said, realizing that there were inaccuracies already. But I staved off the alarm bells and let her continue.

“I don’t know if you ever knew this but I used to park at the far southeast corner of the parking lot and watch until you got into your car. Then I drove as fast as I could to beat you home. I don’t remember, did I pretend to be in bed, or was I up when you walked in the door?”

“Well... I wasn’t working really late. The store closed at 9 or 9:30, so I assume you were still up.”

“Oh, that’s right. Stores closed early back then.”

Yes, that’s right. My mother used to be my stalker. I mean, when the store closed all the employees walked out to our cars together. What exactly did she think was going to happen?

A few years later when I was in college and taking a few night classes, she called me up to warn me about rapists she had heard about who were hiding under cars and cutting their victims Achilles tendon rendering them helpless. Uh... first of all... DOUBT that... and second? I drove a car with a low clearance. There was no way any grown or even half-grown human could have hidden under my car unless I had parked over one of the oil change pits. Those particular features aren’t often found in the parking lots of universities.

It’s amazing I have turned out to be such a well-adjusted adult, isn’t it? ;-)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sane Survival of Foul Weather

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Welcome to Barf Central

Before I delve into the details of why my household is currently Barf Central, let me assure you that the “Barf” is figurative and not literal. There are stomach acids involved, sure, but they are all safely tucked away in their usual bodily vessel.

Okay. Reason #1: The Weather

Yesterday the high was in the low 60s. It was breezy and blustery, but the winds were from the south. I ran errands without a coat, and wore the lightest long-sleeve shirt I own. I even endured long lunch hour lines at the Spot Not to wash the salt crud off my car.

At 4 a.m. this morning the thermometer read 49.

At 6:30 a.m. it 37.

Now, at noon, it is 12.

Factor in winds from the north clocking up to 45 mph, and we’re talking single digits or below wind chill. Oh, and it’s snowing. See?

In addition to the havoc this temp swing wreaks on me, the preceding hours affect the cats in rather unpleasant ways. They get restless, and when they run out of acceptable outlets for this restlessness, they turn on each other. Yesterday was all about minor scuffles, particularly between the two males.

Reason #2: MySQL

It has come to our attention that we really need to know how to program database driven web sites. This is a need we have been facing down and postponing for years, but now we have a personal project that screams “database driven” so I bit the bullet and purchased the MySQL Visual Quickstart Guide.

This is supposed to be an easy to use, quick start, kind of book. The thing about MySQL, though, is that it’s a very program-y language. It doesn’t have the convenient interface that we have enjoyed for decades in off-the-shelf word processing, accounting, or even gaming programs. In fact, there isn’t even an icon for it in my applications folder. To access it, I have to get all UNIX-y and open the terminal. That’s when I saw this warning:

Yes, it’s barf-o-rama time.

Sure, I just started this morning, but somewhere between Chapter 1 (introduction and installing) and Chapter 2 (running MySQL) I missed a crucial piece of information. What information I do not know, but even though it is installed, the terminal is not recognizing the commands I am giving it as spelled out in the book. I am so con-fus-ed!!

It reminds me of the art class I took one summer through the local zoo. We were all grade school aged, and I remember the instructor standing up at the front of the room holding up various objects asking if they were 2D or 3D. I had never been exposed to the idea of dimensions so I had never thought of objects in those terms. I could have figured it out, of course, but she wasn’t even using the word “dimension.” She kept calling them 2D or 3D. She held up an orange, and I wondered if it had to do with the color, or the texture, or that it was a fruit. There was a feather, and a piece of paper, etc. Everyone else piped up like the answer was obvious, and I felt like an idiot.

And that is how I feel today.

I’ll pick up the book again tomorrow. I’m pretty sure I’ll have to use a highlighter, and will probably have to resort to reading the book out loud to myself (the best way to keep the eyes from skipping over something crucial).

In the meantime I’ve got other work to do, and one (or maybe two) cups of my special Baileys Irish Cream coffee to look forward to this evening.

Monday, January 28, 2008

1 Finished Object(let) and 1 Finished Object

First, the object(let):

That’s the left side of the V-neck cardi. I’ll worry about the finishing details at the end of the project because there is still every chance I’ll need to frog it and the other panels due to lack of sufficient fiber.

Second, the finished object:

That is the bobbin lace domino frame that I started over a decade ago. It is supposed to frame an antique postcard of a group of children playing dominoes. Trouble is, I lost track of the whereabouts of that particular card many years ago. I’m sure it will turn up eventually. And when it does, I’ll the frame ready and waiting.

I sort of made up a technique for creating the domino dots. The main fabric is simple cloth stitch with foot stitch edging and black gimps that outline the tiles. To create the dots, I ran three pairs of gimps along the back, and drew each pair to the surface where needed. One thread of the pair was wrapped in a circle around 4 pins, and the second was knotted onto the core pair, similar to a tatted circle. Then I tightened each down, continued the cloth stitch beneath the dots, then pulled the black dot threads to the back to complete the dot. The lace was worked upside down, so I was really doing everything backward. The result wasn’t fabulous, but it created the basic effect I was going for, but in a folksy, rustic kind of way.

When I first started this project I was a member of a non-IOLI affiliated lace guild. I hauled the pillow to a lace weekend to show off my self-made design. The reaction was interesting. Pretty much across the board no one could figure out why I would bother to create my own pattern or technique, and they poo-pooed the project itself. I’m pretty sure that incident is one of the main reasons I chose never to return. There were other reasons... I tend to lose my appetite when people belch at the dinner table, for example... and more that all boil down to generally rude behavior.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Allow Me to Introduce You to My New Lover

Yes, I am a long-time married woman, but when I cradle my new lover I get as giddy as a school girl. I pondered this decision for a long time, and even asked my husband to help me find just the right one (because he knows the kind of attachments that make me happy). I mean, my lover has to have stamina and power. I want to spend the day with him and in the end collapse dewy and spent next to his side. And he needs to be ready to perform at a moment’s notice.

My lover: The Dremel 300.

I've been considering purchasing a Dremel multi-tool for several years, but it wasn’t until we starting wandering the old home with an eye toward selling and we spied those small defects that might turn a prospective owner off but we have conveniently overlooked for 21 years, that I finally made the plunge. The timing was perfect. I had Christmas money from my in-laws burning a hole in my pocket, and a coupon for $10 off any purchase over $25 at Lowes.

Meet doorknob #1: Before

Doorknob #1: After

Doorknob #2: Before

Doorknob #2: After

Doorknob #3: Before

Doorknob #3: After

Better? Oh, yeah. There are still some things that will need to be touched up with some metallic spray paint on our final paint sweep. For example, doorknob #1 turned out to be pot metal whereas all the other knobs and plates on that level of the house are bronze.

On tomorrow’s blog: 1 finished object(let) and perhaps a finished object that has been a UFO for over a decade.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Budget Tip 15a

The post-holiday news cycle is filled with budget tips. One tip in particular is old news because I learned it and learned it well in 1981: Don’t shop with friends. Why?

The last time I shopped with friends I ended up buying “The One that You Love” by Air Supply. Need I say more?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


With the continued lack of quality entertainment on television, we happily turned to our personal library of favorite TV shows/movies. Luckily we are well-stocked in that arena. The winner? Firefly.

I think that series only lasted for one season plus one wrap-up movie. Still, it is a fantastic show, and I was sad (but not surprised) that the idiots who run the networks chose to ax it. Two of the main actors from that series have key roles in this season’s fare. The actress (Summer Glau) who played River is also on Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, and (more surprisingly), Adam Baldwin who played Jayne on Firefly is also on Chuck. We’ve watched Chuck regularly since its premiere, but it wasn’t until we switched from Firefly to Chuck within 45 seconds that I realized WHO he was.

And here’s a suggestion for the idiots at the networks: Look back in your archives. Do you know how many people would watch a few weeks of classics like Get Smart or even The Flying Nun? How about The Courtship of Eddie’s Father? I’m not saying that these shows were better than the best of what is on now, but we don’t have anything on now. Perhaps you can postpone running recycled news and B-list celeb dance programs for just a few weeks while we stroll down memory lane.

Just sayin’.

In other news, there are actually temps above freezing forecasted for the next 5 days. Since the last couple of days we’ve been enduring sub-zero lows and highs in the teens, this makes me very happy.

Wednesday I took two of my cats to the vet. Eclair was the main cause of this appointment. About a week ago we noticed a swelling over her right eye. This swelling neither improved nor worsened over the week, and the fact that it did neither was troubling. And since I was going in with her I added T-Bone to the list. T-Bone had had a squinchy eye for a few days. She has the bad luck of being smacked in the eye (usually by her mother) at least once a year.

We did the easy cat first. Fortunately T-Bone’s eyeball was not damaged, but the tissue surrounding her eye was definitely irritated. That means steroid eye drops 2x a day for the next week.

Next was Eclair. The vet lanced the tissue above her eye (a process as gross and deeply disturbing as it sounds), hoping that liquid would come out. It didn’t. That’s not good news. That means that she has a solid mass of unknown origin, rather than an infection from a scuffle. The vet was able to capture enough cells to make a slide. She didn’t like what she saw. We are in wait and see mode. But in the meantime E is flying high from her ’roid shot, so at the very least I can say she is feeling FINE! If her bump isn’t noticeably improved by the end of next week we’ll probably need to have it surgically removed. Eclair will be upset. She will frighten and intimidate the veterinary staff, then make us and all the other cats pay upon her return home. I’ve already been warned that she would have to “wear a hat” post-surgery. That won’t help matters. Fingers crossed that we won’t need to go down this road.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I took this photo yesterday when it was 13º. Take a close look.

Do you see it? Just to the right of the stained glass angel I made last year from broken bits of the windows from my family’s church after it had been burned to the ground by an arsonist?

Yes, that’s right. Someone was insane enough to go for a hot air balloon ride when it was 13º.

On the other hand, Michael and I have a very different idea of fun in conditions such as these:

Yep. Bailey’s Irish Cream coffees. YUM-MY!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Familial Geek Cred, or Stepping in for a Missing Parental Unit

My adult nephew called me this morning. This alone was a huge surprise because I can easily count on one hand the number of times he has called me over his lifetime.

“What’s up?” I asked, fearing the worst (as in “who is in the hospital?”).

“I have a technology question,” he said.

His specific question isn’t important to this story, but to settle your curiosity I will tell you that he was trying to transfer VHS home movies to DVD using his mother’s combo VHS/DVD recorder, and he couldn’t get the resulting DVDs to play in other DVD players. He didn’t know where the owner’s manual was, and his mother, who might have known the whereabouts of the manual, wasn’t home.

What is important to this story is why he made the call to me, because as I mentioned earlier, I can count on one hand the number of times he has called me over his 30 years. The answer is, there is no one else.

You see, his father was fairly tech savvy, and I’m sure he could have helped. But he died tragically and unexpectedly three years ago. When a child or young adult loses a parent, I think it is natural to seek out other family members to fill some of the resulting gaps. A daughter might ask an uncle to give her away at her wedding, for example.

There is no one on his father’s side of the family, and as for his mother’s side... among both the men and women of every generation, I’m pretty much the only one not afraid of modern machines. And I’m certainly the only one to have made DVD movies. (My husband could have helped too, but he wasn’t here and my nephew asked for me anyway.)

While I in no way presume to replace my nephew’s father, I think it is sweet (and a little sad) that he has chosen me to fill that particular gap in his life.

Was I able to help him? Yes. I don’t own a combo unit so I couldn’t help him directly, but I did do a Google search and found a discussion about this exact problem on a forum. Many of the responses said that the disc needed to be finalized. I told him he would need to find the manual, and look for those specific instructions. I also told him that if he needed me to, I could bring over my own equipment and we’d transfer the movies to DVD in a different way.

He called me less than half an hour later to tell me his mother was home, he had the manual, he found the finalizing section in the manual 15 pages past the “how to record” section, and that the troubleshooting guide did not mention it at all. In other words, if I hadn’t given him a specific thing to search for, he might never have figured it out. But it worked. YAY!

He apologized for calling me, and repeated that he only called because he thought I could help. I assured him that I was happy to help, and that even if I didn’t know the answer, I was a pretty good Googler.

And I think he will call again—in 3-5 years.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Today, Something a Bit Different: I Rant

Part of my housecleaning/purging/reorganization efforts that always lead up to the new year included podcast cleaning this time around. In December I found myself unsubscribing and deleting a surprising number of podcasts. I love listening to podcasts. My iPod is clipped to my hip at least 4-6 hours a day, and the podcasts I listen to cover a wide range of subjects and styles. So what did I delete?

Anything that hasn’t updated in 6 months or more. That included quite a few knitting podcasts.

Any podcast where the podcaster repeatedly makes comments about situations that I cannot relate to and frankly wouldn’t want to. (You had to pee the first time you went into a real yarn shop because it was soooo exciting... Really????)

Any podcast where the podcaster whines about how much time it takes to produce the program and complains that if they don’t start getting regular donations they’ll have to start charging the listener. My urge to unsubscribe is especially strong when I can’t recall the last time that podcast included useful information. (I know what you’re thinking, but this particular podcast wasn’t knitting related. But yes, that one you are thinking of was starting to grate on my nerves, too.) Yes, these take a lot of time to produce. Yes, there is an expense involved both in recording equipment and hosting. But you should make a business plan and find creative ways to monetize the podcast. Don’t whine to the listeners.

Any podcast where the podcaster reminds me of someone I dislike at a deep and primal level. This particular podcast (which contains zero crafting content) is essentially a promotional tool for a man who supposedly writes easy-to-understand white papers for tech companies. I lost total respect for him when, during one of his podcast interviews, he made repeated references to his concern that he might not be able to explain his minor programming needs to a third party contractor. (It also didn’t help the situation when he remarked in passing that people always blame the husband in a divorce. - Bitter much?)

At this point you might be concerned that I have nothing left. No worries, though. Somehow I manage to subscribe to two new podcasts for every one I delete.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What You Do On a Snowy Cold Day When You are Hopelessly Behind on Your Task List for the Month:

You start a new project! Something massive. Something made with a completely new technique. Like a 5' x 7' locker hook rug!

Eclair is a huge help. She has a critical design eye, and she shares her opinions freely.

I told my mother about this project a few days ago, fully expecting to hear the usual “you’re doing what?” (She so doesn’t “get” me.) And she did have a ton of questions ranging from the general: “Blocker hook? Is it like latch hook”, down to the details of how wide I needed to cut the fabric. Then I realized that she wanted to know how I was making it because she has a need for such a rug. She has a rug under her rocking chair so the chair won’t scar her new floor, but she also has a rather large dog who sometimes loses his bone under the chair and he uses his big meaty feet with their big meaty claws to retrieve it, shredding her rug in the process.

Back to my locker hook rug.

This rug is massive, and to make it I need to access both sides of the canvas at the same time. So for the time being, and possibly throughout the process, I am achieving this by keeping the canvas rolled up and sitting on end. Then I either stand or sit, working the canvas like a harp. This way it also makes a fairly good stationery dance partner while do a solo tango to the Coffee Break Spanish’s new theme song. (Hola Mark y Kara. Rockin’ tune! I had no idea it was possible to make haggis sound so hip and Latin!)

One of the questions I have had from day one was how wide I should cut the fabric strips, but I cannot find a definitive answer. It appears that most of the time locker hooking is made with unspun wool, so there is no strip of fabric to cut. I did find one mention of making locker hook rugs with quilt fabric, but it gave no width. I finally decided that the width would depend on the thickness of the wool fabric. So, for example, a 1/2" wide strip of my thrift store wool is almost too much to pull through the canvas; whereas a 1" wide strip of the red plaid fabric I bought at Hancock’s is still pretty thin and barely enough to do the job.

Whatever, I can tell you that it I will be living with this project a looooong time.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Some Days Shopping is Harder Than it Should Be

Like yesterday. I had about a half-dozen stops to make. I knew exactly what I needed, and we chose an efficient driving route with no left turns out of parking lots.

Stop 1: Joann’s
I needed to buy some more locker hook canvas. When I had stopped at Hancock’s a few days before, they had only one package and it was smaller than my desired rug. I bought what they had but needed to get more. Joann’s, it turns out, had the canvas on rolls instead of packages. Turned out to be much cheaper, so that was good. I asked the clerk to cut to pieces in 2 1/2 yard lengths each. She whined the whole time, complained that the canvas was poking her and hurt, then she cut one of the pieces 1/2 yard too short. Fortunately Michael had suspected that she had cut it wrong, which we were able to confirm on the spot, and made her hurt her little fingers some more to cut a piece the length I specified. Then I asked if they had any wool, because I thought they might have an interesting color or pattern that wasn’t at Hancock’s. She shrugged and pointed to a table that was full of faux fur in pastels and fluorescents, and said that if they had any it would be there. Pretty sure that table had not seen a natural fiber for years. Just sayin’. (And what kind of fabric store doesn’t sell wool fabric????)

Stop 2: Dillon’s
Found everything I needed in short order, and handed the bagger my previously purchased fancy cloth shopping bags the store sells. They have two kinds: plain, and insulated with a zipper closure. I find that the baggers don’t seem to understand the insulated ones are for cold things, and if I don’t make a point of saying “put the cold things in the insulated bags,” then there is a sort of free-for-all. So, she did bag them correctly, but I’m pretty sure that was only because I had given her strict instructions.

Stop 3: Petsmart
They were nearly out of the only food that’s safe for Miss-Food-Allergies. They had two large containers and 2 small, and I needed three large. The stocker was nice enough to arrange to sell me the 2 small for the price of 1 large, so that was good. He escorted me to the register and handed the clerk the tag off the shelf. The checker scanned the tag three times, then starting ringing up my bird seed, etc. Then I realized that he had also started scanning the good containers in my cart. In other words, I was going to pay for everything 2x. I stopped him, and he backed that out, but in the process of backing it out he seemed to have removed a bag of cat treats. I had to get back in line so I could pay for it, too. Sheez.

Stop 4: Target
In the crush of holiday cooking I have pretty well destroyed my spatula and potato masher, so I thought, surely, Target would stock both those things, and quality models of each. Found the spatula with no problem, but the only potato masher they had was so cheap I wouldn’t trust it to mash week-old bananas. Whaz up with that?

Thankfully, my next two stops were relatively uneventful. But I cannot understand how anyone can find shopping to be an enjoyable experience. It may not rise to the level of waterboarding, but it’s still torture in my book.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Dance of the Two Toms

As promised, I present to you herein and forthwith, a faithful retelling of the fight that my two male cats got in while I was out of the house for a short period yesterday, using the residual claw marks in my leather recliner as a visual aid.

The curtain opens. One lone chair sits at center stage facing the audience. A black male cat (BMC) is perched on the left arm. A male ticked tabby (MTT) sits on the floor facing the chair, his attention 100% focused on BMC. MTT flattens his ears against his head and begins to howl. BMC cowers, and attempts to look as small and insignificant as possible. He whimpers.

Enter stage left, an adult male human. He speaks to the two Toms calmly, pets them both, and attempts to quiet the howling MTT.

MTT inches backward and quiets.

Adult male, seeing that all is calm, exits stage right and is heard entering the room of “inconvenient interruptions”.

MTT sees that the coast is clear.

BMC realizes that he his protector is no longer around, and that there is no safe avenue of retreat. He attempts to look tough as he whines and whimpers.

MTT leaps into the chair, and using his mighty rear claws for traction, body slams BMC in an effort to knock him into next week.

BMC manages to hold his position despite owning only the most minimal in cat weaponry.

MTT body slams him again, this time knocking BMC not off the chair but onto the seat.

MTT’s rear end is pushed upward onto the right arm, and were he digs is claws mightily into the leather grain in order to evict the dreaded BMC.

BMC leaps away, exiting stage left. He is heard descending the stairs at a rapid pace.

MTT leaps after him, leaving claw marks on the left arm has he leaps off stage. He, too, is heard descending the stairs at a rapid pace.

The adult male is heard off stage exiting the room of “inconvenient interruptions” and calling after the two Toms.


As the curtain opens on the second act, the adult male is sitting calmly on his lounger popping potato chips and watching “The Brothers Grimm” on t.v.

An adult female enters stage left. She stands quietly in front of her chair as she stares at the claw marks.

FEMALE: Was there by any chance a fight while I was gone?

MALE (getting up to look at the chair with her): Yes, actually. And Nacho is hiding under the bed. I can’t coax him out.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Terrible Choice: Feed the Knit or Feed the Knerd?

The weather finally cooperated this month so I could attend the podcast meet-up in Kansas City. I was excited about that—there’s nothing like one geek talkin’ geek things to other geeks over a good beer. But the terrible thing (as far as I’m concerned) is that the once-a-month geek meet-up conflicts with one of my twice-a-month knit meet-ups.

Still, it was a good meeting, and I met some good people and talked geek things over not one but two beers. And a bacon cheeseburger. And successfully registered for podcamp.

On the downside, I got zero knitting accomplished today. Not one row. Not one stitch.

On the upside, I bought lots of wool on sale at Hancock’s for the locker hook rug intended for the new house.

On the downside, Now I have to cut said wool into a bazillion little strips. Hancock’s also didn’t have canvas in the dimensions I expected, or enough of the one size they carried to make a rug close to the dimensions I had planned. There is much to be done.

This morning I registered for a beginning spinning class. Yes, you remember correctly. I had attempted to take a beginning spinning class last year but the class was full on the date I could attend. This time I registered online and within a week or so of the class being posted on the web site. The snail-mail class schedule is only now being delivered. In other words, there is a slim chance they actually have a slot open for me. Still, though, I expect to find a “we’re sorry” email in my in-basket come Monday.

But let’s assume for a moment that that sorry email doesn’t come, and there is a slot for me. That would place my class squarely in the middle of me time. Ooooo... the plans I will make...

Tomorrow I will attempt to choreograph the cat battle, that occurred on my leather chair while I was out of the house for an hour, based on the spread, depth, and number of claw marks left on the arms and seat.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Me, as a Pen

A few weeks after Christmas, my mother called to ask, “Did you leave a pen here?”

I considered this a moment, then recalled having handed my sister a pen so she could fill out slips for the Christmas ’08 drawing. And I hadn’t gotten it back. “Yes, I probably did,” I said. “But how did you know it was mine?”

“Because it’s a fancy writer’s pen. The rest of us use pens that say ‘Dillons’.” [Dillons is the name of a local grocery chain. These pens in question are those cheap stick pens emblazoned with the store logo that are set out for the convenience of customers who are writing checks or signing credit authorizations.]

Okay, so it’s no Dillons stick pen, but this “fancy writer’s pen” is still sold in bulk at the regular office supply store. It’s hardly a Waterman or Mont Blanc. Just sayin’. But if you were wondering what I would be like if I were a pen, according to the woman who gave birth to and raised me I look like this:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Doctor Who Strategery* Victory

When we left off, a Fellow Doctor Who Enthusiast (FDWE) was also renting the series’ discs in sequence - one disc ahead of us. And this enthusiast was taking nearly a week to watch each 3-4 episode disc. C’mon!

On Monday, January 7, I returned discs 1 and 2, and found disc three was checked out. That left 4 and 5 on the shelf, which I was tempted to rent because they were there, but renting and watching would totally destroy our watch-in-sequence work. The clerk looked up the record on disc 3 and informed me that it wouldn’t be due until the 11th (but it might be returned before then, she assured me. Yeah, right.) I pondered my situation, and realized that when the FDWE returned disc 3, they would likely rent 4, quickly landing me back in my current situation. If I rented 4 and 5 on the spot, and the FDWE waited to return 3 until Friday, that would only give me three days to watch all three discs. It’s do-able, but not in a fun way, and Saturday we have plans that will take us out of town for half the day. (Plus Michael’s pre-sell homeowner’s fix list begins Saturday morning. He has a date with a stair balustrade and a can of orange shellac. Dates like this can’t be broken, even for Doctor Who.) So instead, I only rented disc 4, and it has been sitting by the DVD player (mocking me) while I waited patiently for the FDWE to return disc 3.

Which still hadn’t been returned Tuesday... but had been returned Wednesday. I found disc 3 nestled on the shelf alongside discs 1,2, and 5. Here’s the scenario I imagined:

FDWE drops disc 3 into the video return box as they saunter back to the television racks where they expect to find and rent disc 4 - the next in series. But nooooooo! (said with a slight echo effect) Disc 4 is missing. Does FDWE rent 5 instead? No, because FDWE would be watching the episodes out of sequence. The FDWE leaves disappointed, but plans to return in a few days when, surely, disc 4 will be back on the shelf and they can rent both 4 and 5 just to be safe.

But FDWE will likely be disappointed, because when I return disc 3 tomorrow, I will rent 5 even though I haven’t even started disc 4, thus ensuring our ability to watch the rest of season two in sequence and in advance of season three beginning on BBC America later this month. The FDWE will have to wait for satisfaction until Saturday or possibly Sunday. There is still the possibility that my plan will be foiled, but I remain hopeful.

On to knitting news.

V-neck cardi: I’m an inch past the hidden pocket and back to mindless stockinette for the foreseeable future.

Bi-color cables: I have finished all my decreases, and am now working on a few repeats of the most basic chart before I begin bust decreases. If bust decreases are around the corner, can my underarm landmark be far behind?

Knit blue air shawl: Atmospheric conditions have forced me to set this aside for the past week. Sooooo behind.

Serviceman’s socks: Still haven’t finished the 3" ribbing on the first sock. But I’m 2/3 of the way there, so I guess that’s something.

Sea Feral Purse: Has officially begun. Yes, those are washers you see. And there will be more.

And finally, I end with a photo explanation of why I love having a mother/daughter feline team in the house:

* See December 29 post for a full explanation of definition and proper use of made-up word.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

2008: The Year of Being Me; and a Bit of Media Commentary

While monitoring Ravelry forums and checking blogs on google alerts, I’ve discovered that 2008 is the year of being a Fearless Knitter. Gosh, I was never invited to eat at the cool kid’s table in high school, and tend to live my life on the fringe. But apparently patience has paid off, and decades later it’s cool to not just be with me, but be me. Who knew?!

My rationale for being fearless is simple: the only way to improve in life at any skill is to extend beyond your boundaries, and even experiment a bit. It’s not brain surgery. If making an ill-fitting garment is the biggest potential tragedy, that’s tragedy I’m ready to risk.

Now for the media commentary part of this post.

The new season of Medium started on Monday, and it was totally worth the wait. Those last five minutes or so were the most haunting, soulful, beautiful and tragic moments I can recall from any televised series past or present. While actress Zoe Hall(?) sang My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music, the show would cut to the detective finding and gunning down the psychopathic killer of a young boy. Ahhhh, I add this episode of Medium to my list of favorite things.

The third season of Doctor Who begins later this month, as well as the second season of Torchwood. Yeah! In the meantime we are renting Doctor Who seasons one and two so we can finally watch them in sequence (one of the hazards of our globe trotting lifestyle). This effort of renting is much more exciting than it sounds since Hastings only rents individual discs from the box set, and there is some bastard, er, I mean fellow fan, who is one disc ahead of us and who seems to be unable to watch and return said-disc according to our time schedule.

Beyond these (and Project Runway) there is very little to keep me awake and interested in the evenings. Oh, there’s politics, sure. But Kansas probably won’t hold a primary, and if it does, most of the candidates will have dropped out by the time it comes around. And no one bothers to stump in the sunflower state. I will say that there is one candidate in one party I can live with, and multiple candidates in the other. In the best case scenario, the new White House will turn our economy around, will somehow find a way to improve our standing in the international community, and in turn make this a safer world for the generations that will follow. In the worst case, I’m hoping that they won’t be in office long enough to screw things up irreparably. Whatever happens it will be interesting. (Note that I am carefully not divulging my particular political views.)

And allow me to rant about news media for a sec. I used to watch NBC’s Weekend Today, but I have grown to despise the lead host: Lester Holt.

In the beginning I had nothing bad to say about Lester. He seemed competent, and he delivered the news. That’s what I want. Then there came a day when he nearly dry heaved when someone mentioned “biscuits and gravy,” which had had never tried and had apparently never heard of - then he had the balls to guest judge on Iron Chef America like he’s some kind of foodie or something. But the worst thing? The thing that topped it off for me and makes me run for the remote every time I hear his voice? It’s his visible contempt for his female co-host. He mentioned some family tradition he had, maybe it was centered around Thanksgiving, and she made a remark about wanting to join Lester’s family for that day. He looked stunned at first like someone had squirt a lemon in his eye, then he gave a resounding “No, that’s not going to happen.” (I can’t even find the name of the co-host on the Weekend Today website because Lester’s photo is taking up 3/4 of the page.) If a blizzard ever blows Lester up to my door and he knocks seeking shelter from the storm, I’ll let him in. But I will force him to eat biscuits and gravy for every meal, even it I have to walk five miles through the blizzard to get the ingredients. I’m not heartless...

Back to good news: Rumor has it that the final season of Battlestar Galactica begins in March.

In the meantime my personal library of DVDs is well-stocked, I’ve got knitting, and tons of good books. And as a writer myself, I continue to grow my stray chin hair in solidarity for my fellow writers. Solidarity, brothers!

Monday, January 07, 2008

The First Finished Object of 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, I present “Shield Quilt” for your consideration.

The quilter’s chalk pencil marks were a booger to remove. In fact, I had scrub the heck out of the topper with a gel stain remover, then run it through the washer. I managed to overlook the stain treatment on one mark and the wash barely touched it, but I suspect I’ll be the only one to notice. Me and all those quilt experts I plan to bring to my home so they can scrutinize it thoroughly (never going to happen). At any rate, I now know never to use a quilter’s pencil of any ilk on anything I care about.

For now, the quilt resides at my office where it coordinates beautifully with the existing color scheme.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Progress Check - Week 1

It’s been a week of mixed results. I’m still recovering from a nasty cough/cold, and finally had to make a trip to the pharmacy where I turned over my driver’s license so I could buy the good over-the-counter medicine (in other words, the effective stuff that doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription. You know: the stuff druggies make meth out of?) And speaking of colds, what’s up with that involuntary grunt that we sick people make just as we are slipping off into much-needed slumber and that inevitably wakes us back up?

Anywho, the cold is improving, my synapses are firing, and I’m back to my usually-moderate level of energy. So where am I on my crafty goal list for January?

Serviceman’s socks: cast on and knit a whopping 1/2" of ribbing. Yeah. Got a ways to go if I’m going to finish the first sock by the end of January.

Knit Air Shawl: There haven’t been many days that met my rules for working on it. I’ve got about 1 1/2 inches done, and I’m pleased to say that when I gave it a close examination (after Michael said he’d found Caper playing with it) that there was no obvious damage.

V-neck Cardi: I’m almost to the pocket. Ways to go on it, too, but not in a huge toot to get it moving.

Shield Quilt: I found my thimble and needle threaders, so I should be able to start hand-tacking the binding during Amazing Race tonight.

Bi-Color Cables:

Good golly, but if that isn’t loads of progress! Fortunately I’ve been doing two work things simultaneously that allow me to knit, but preclude me from writing or doing other work things at the same time. Of course, my lack of concentration might explain why I spent all of Saturday tinking, knitting, and re-tinking, arriving at the end of the day squarely where I had started it. We’re talking about 6+ hours of tinking, knitting and re-tinking. Oh well.

And more astonishing: the domino bobbin lace frame! Had to spend some time untangling and de-linting the thing, but that’s to be expected given the months it has been set aside.

We’ve been timelining the move. Jeez there’s a lot to be done between now and then!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

If it Quacks like a Duck it’s a... Sewing Machine?

Yeah. My sewing machine started quacking like a duck. I discovered this sewing the binding for the Shield Quilt, and very nearly threw in the towel on the both. I got a reference for a good shop, confirmed its address, and found out their Saturday hours. But I knew that if I dropped it off, that I would have to move Shield Quilt onto February’s goal list, and that would push every thing else back as well.

Oh, well that ticked me off.

So I sat down and started trouble shooting the darn thing, and within 15 minutes I had the thing back up and running, and quack-free. Now the binding is ready to be tacked down by hand in odd evening hours. Yay me!

I have cast on for the first of my Red Cross serviceman’s socks.

And the Sea Feral purse. The banana fiber (below) is soft and beautiful, but shockingly brittle. I’m making a mental note to make the structural parts of the purse out of one of the other fibers.

More surprisingly, I’m about 2/5 of the way to the underarms on the bi-color cables cardi. Getting this to the underarms will mean that I can switch needles, allowing me to frog back and re-knit the back of the V-neck cardi to the longer length I now need.

And the shawl is coming along. I’ve had to set down 8 ground rules for myself:

1. I will not work on the shawl unless I am the only human in the house.
2. I will not work on the shawl while there is a cat on my lap.
3. I will not work on the shawl if I’m listening to a podcast.
4. I will only work on the shawl if I can complete two rows: the pattern row and the purl row that follows it.
5. I will only work on the shawl during daylight hours when the sun is shining bright.
6. I will diligently and consistently count my stitches before I begin knitting, and again while I’m knitting.
7. I will make sure that I have the proper number of stitches between markers before beginning the purl row.
8. If I tink back to fix a missed stitch, and that causes me to goof up another section that had previously correct, and I am unable to fix what previously had been correct, then I will not frog. I will attempt to do a make-do fix in the least offensive way possible, and move on.

Knitting the shawl is clearly a battle, and I am in danger of losing my mind.

In other news, I realized an obvious fact that smacked me so hard across the forehead that I was nearly laid flat. Cleaning the kitchen, putting dishes away or washing pans, or something equally mundane, I realized that there was going to come a day - hopefully this year - when I will wipe the counters, lock the door on the way to take the trash out, and never come back.

You’re probably thinking “sure, that’s what happens when you sell your home.” But keep in mind that I have lived in this house longer than anywhere else my entire life. In fact, I have lived in this home longer than I was a single person. As for my childhood home, that’s where my parents still live, so except for a few dorm rooms and an apartment in a former HUD development that was cursed with aluminum wiring, cockroaches, and periodic floods, I have always been been able to revisit the places where my memories were made. I have no intention of maintaining a sense of ownership once we leave. The paint choices, plantings, etc. will be the privilege of the new owners much as it was ours when we bought it. But the idea that there will soon come a day when I will no longer keep the back storm door propped open with my left toe while I unlock the door, and I will no longer hear the squee of the alarm system when the door swings open... I can hardly wait!

I checked our lease agreement and it ends September 30. That means I only have eight more lease payments. YIPPEE!!