Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Deader Than a Doornail

Rigor mortis has set in for my Macbook. It's dead. Finite. Expired. Passed on. Fallen.  Perished.  Asleep. Pushing up daisies.  Six feet under.  Kaput.  Slain.  Pick your euphemism--it's the only thing that amuses me about this situation.   Every single time I begin to think there is nothing on there that I'll miss, I realize I'm wrong and it gives me a start.

Forever gone will be the patterns I've paid for and had sent to me in a PDF format and just when I was considering finally taking on Romi's spiffy hat.  There are photos that were there that I'd been meaning to back up, but never got around to doing.

The geniuses wanted $750 to send it out, and that was without a repair estimate.  Since a brand new Macbook starts at $150 more, it makes zero sense to send it out for repair when for a little bit more, I can get the latest and greatest.

I meant to get around to those photos and my music files.  It's not like I don't have an external drive with which to back it all up, it's just that I didn't get off my lazy bum and take all of ten minutes to get the job done.

Who's sorry now?  Me.  Sniff.  Pass the tissues, please.

Photo:  Google Images of a Key West Cemetery   

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day by Day

I'm home today and a bit tired, but I thought I'd show you the kinds of things we packed into our 4 day getaway.

We arrived mid-afternoon Friday to the smell of something wonderful cooking on the stove. It was a fresh stock. Aha! This was to be a gourmet weekend. As a group, we helped Mareseatoats on her mission to cook her way through the Thanksgiving issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. This was the French onion soup smothered in Gruyere. Yum.

And the sauteed artic char with a pan fried redskin potato/olive side. OMG. It was not to be believed.

The dishwasher? Moi. By Saturday night, we had the mechanical dishwasher working properly once again.

After dinner sport? Trapping what appears to be a Black Widow spider in the television room. My sister was not going to be outdone by my Wolf Spider stories. She wins--especially after I witnessed her do a catch and release. Incidentally, nobody elected to watch any television over the weekend. I wonder why?

Saturday was full with 8 hours of knitting classroom with Jane Slicer Smith and her brilliant book of patterns. I now own this book that she graciously signed.

Proof that I didn't sit on my needles during class. I learned some color work weaving with finishing secrets, mitering, short row techniques and I polished skills for adding texture to knit goods. Jane is on tour now and again in January. If you have the opportunity, I'd highly recommend her workshops (and her book). I missed the Sunday class, but I understand she'll be in Michigan soon, so I'll probably look there to take her class on sizing and fitting for her fabulous mitered designs.

While we were knitting, the men elected to follow the grapes and did a tour of local wineries. They were a bit shnockered, and we were tired after a full day of classroom, so we elected to drive to Crozet for dinner. We ate at Fardowners where the food was plentiful, delicious, modestly priced and best of all, there were no dishes to wash and no spiders to capture afterwords. However, my brothers did begin the prep for our Sunday dinner by making the brine for the pork loin.

While Friday and Saturday weather was rainy, Sunday dawned clear and warm. We piled in the car for a drive to the city of our grandmother's birth. Once home to 5 mills, the town is a bird sanctuary now with only a couple of homes with human residents. Several homes were abandoned.

I don't know the history of this home, but I found the collapsing metal roof looked like an interesting subject. It's one of the few original homes left in Pedlar Mills.

This was Flossie Constance Tucker's place of birth. My sister searched fruitlessly for the graveyard (you can sort of see her in the mid right side of the photo). The home is long abandoned.

After a long day of looking around the southwest corner of Virginia, we came home and helped cook again. Sunday's dinner was a brined and grilled pork loin, sweet potato casserole and a salad with fresh beets and goat cheese. We polished the meal off with homemade vanilla ice cream and a mile high apple pie. As an homage to home (Michigan), we topped that off with Sander's caramel sauce. I will say, most of the recipes we tried from this magazine, deserve to be prepared again and again.

As you can see, it was a great weekend and I feel rejuvenated. Still, it's good to be home and sleep in my own bed. I'll play a bit of catch up later. Right now, I'm off to find my own copy of Fine Cooking.

All photos RudeeK (with the exception of the one of me slaving at the sink).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Is it too Much to Ask?

I'd like to, just once, bump into the man who wrote this song in his home town. His lyrics and style are just a bit different and always provoke thought:

Funny the Way It Is
Dave Matthews Band

Lying in the park on a beautiful day,
Sunshine in the grass, and the children play.
Siren's passing, fire engine red,
Someone's house is burning down on a day like this?

The evening comes and we're hanging out,
On the front step, and a car rolls by with the windows rolled down,
And that war song is playing, "why can't we be friends?"
Someone is screaming and crying in the apartment upstairs

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
Somebody's going hungry and someone else is eating out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
Somebody's heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song

The way your mouth feels in your lovers kiss
Like a pretty bird on a breeze or water to a fish
A bomb blast brings a building crashing to the floor
You can hear the laughter, while the children play war

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
One kid walks 10 miles to school, another's dropping out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
On a soldier's last breath his baby's being born

Standing on a bridge, watch the water passing under me
It must've been much harder when there was no bridge, just water
Now the world is small. Remember how it used to be,
With mountains and oceans and winters and rivers and stars?

Watch the sky, the jet planes, so far out of my reach
Is there someone up there looking down on me?
Boy chase a bird, so close but every time
He'll never catch her, but he can't stop trying

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
One kid walks 10 miles to school, another's dropping out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
On a soldier's last breath his baby's being born
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
Somebody's broken heart becomes your favorite song
Funny the way it is, if you think about it
A kid walks 10 miles to school, another's dropping out.

Standing on a bridge, watch the water passing under me
It must've been much harder when there was no bridge, just water
Now the world is small. Remember how it used to be,
With mountains and oceans and winters and rivers and stars?

There is no embed code for this song on YouTube, but you can go take a listen for yourself. I hope you're having a good weekend.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Art of Avoiding the Inevitable

Otherwise known as procrastination...

There aren't enough words in the world to express how thankful I am that this weekend is FINALLY here. My plane leaves tomorrow at a very civilized 10 AM. My husband is driving us to the airport so we don't have to contend with parking and then schlepping our bags through the lots, on and off transport vans, etc.

To update you on the laundry situation (as if you cared), I now have clean panties and hand knit socks. The jeans are in the washer and on my next trip downstairs, I plan on taking the Dyson to deal with the spider webs I found down there. The main idea is to vacuum the murder weapon before I bring it up and put clean undies inside. In my heart of hearts, I'm hoping that spider infanticide was complete when I butchered the mother and that without her, the wee ones that got away did not survive. Call me heartless, but I got a clear picture of what they planned on being when they reached adulthood, and really, I should be a decorated hero. If you call me out on this, I will post a picture of mom on my blog. Fair warning.

I called the Charlottesville yarn shop to find out what I should bring. Directions stated US size six needles to make a sock or a pouch, but they didn't indicate straights, circs or dpns. I can bring whatever I'd like, and of course, if I forget something, they'd be happy to sell me what I need. They're so excited that at least 2 of us are traveling by plane to come to their big event. I didn't have the heart to tell them the big event was an afterthought when we realized that hey, we're going to be there this weekend, and look what's going on at the yarn store! Sweet! I won't burst their bubble.

Obviously, I've procrastinated enough and have to tackle those spider webs. In fact, I saw the one on top of the hot water heater is bigger today than it was yesterday. Does my arachnophobia really shine, or what?

I won't be posting this weekend because I've no laptop. Sniff. Maybe that's not such a bad thing for a complete getaway. See you all Tuesday or Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Little Sweetness

The maintenance men have come and gone.  Today they elected to re-caulk everything in the shower to see if this stops the leak.  Far be it from me to point out they've already tried this, so we'll have to wait and see if a redundant repair effort makes a difference.  They told me they'd have to bid on repairing the drywall in the kitchen to see if the owner wanted to repair this, too.  That's when I got a bit cranky.  Let's examine this, shall we?  Unsightly hole in the ceiling aside, I've learned that the following equation, Moisture + Darkness = excellent environment for mold.  Oh, I think it'll be repaired alright, and before they get another rent check out of me.  The repairman was kind enough to treat the space with a mold killer while the owner sits on his ass makes up his mind. 

On to more pleasing subjects...

The knit a long (KAL) is in full swing over at Sticks on Fire.  To date, only 3 of us are knitting including, Rose, Stephanie and myself.  It could be that Jane is still awaiting a yarn shipment across the pond.  I didn't read the pattern for the sweater Rose and Stephanie are knitting, but reports from the trenches are that it's a bit of a challenge.  Mine was a challenge too, until Stephanie pointed out I was reading the set up row directions backasswards.  After that, it's been smooth sailing.  Thanks Stephanie!

I'm closing in on the half way point of the Every Way Wrap from the fall issue of Interweave Knits.  I selected Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran yarn which is amazing.  Initially, I was going to knit from stash, but this is so much better.  Stitch definition is amazing.  Stitch repair?  A challenge, but not as much as it would be with a different yarn.  I was whipping along this morning when I noticed my stitch count on the wrong side of the cable portion was off by one.  I flipped the piece over and could see where a knit stitch had dropped about 4 rows down--through cabled portions--and was just sitting there awaiting my notice.  I got the message loud and clear:  Time for a lifeline!

On Friday, my brothers and I are leaving for the mountains.  It's been almost a year since I've seen them and can't wait to get there!  I've a few things on the to-do list before then.  I have to wade through my stash to find 2 skeins of DK weight yarn and some size 6 needles for the class Mareseatoats and I are taking on Saturday, and I need to pack.  That would necessitate me washing clothes first (this may be a good thing since I'm running out of clean underwear).

I think I may finally have to go back in that basement where the washer and dryer live.  I hope there won't be any showdowns with multi-legged creatures and I hope none of those baby wolf spiders are hiding in the suitcase I used to smash their mother.  Honest.  I fear divine retribution in the form of spider bites.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Did I Wake You?

Don't you hate those middle of the night telephone calls? The first thought I get is that someone in the family is dead or maimed. Because of this, until this spring, I haven't had a phone in my bedroom. I sort of figured that either my husband would hear and answer the phone (I sleep like the dead), or I'd recognize I had a voice mail once I got up in the morning. The wisdom that comes with age dictates the dead can wait and because I got a good night's sleep, I'd be better prepared to cope with such an event.

Following a restless night, I was awakened at 8 AM by the phone that now holds a place of prominence in my bedroom. Although 8 AM may seem civilized to most of you, because I work nights, it actually equates to about a 4 AM wake up call for me. It took about 6 rings for me to even recognize what it was that was rousing me from the tenth bizarre dream I had last night. Note to self: don't ever eat Mjudara from that restaurant again.

The caller was from Rachel's Place and it would seem that there were issues at her school that needed to be addressed. Issues that were communicated to the caregivers at 4 PM yesterday (I know. That brings up an entirely different set of questions). The label on her medication bottle was incorrect. The correct instructions for her medications are 1/2 tablet 3 times daily and 3 tablets at bedtime. The current label reads 4 tablets daily. Wow! Is that not a glaring error to you? When I called the pharmacist, he was unwilling to fix the error without a new prescription, even though he could clearly see her history with this medication on his computer and the correct instructions were always there until April this year when something changed.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought preventing errors like this was the purpose of the electronic medical record.

Since I was up anyway, I stayed awake and waited to call both the pharmacy and the doctor, neither of which were open until 9. Don't think that phone isn't coming out of my room today. If this problem could wait from 4 PM yesterday until 8 AM today, it could have waited until I awakened on my own and checked my voicemail.

Monday, September 21, 2009

This Old House

In the spring, we weathered a big move into a much too small house. There have been electrical problems with loose wiring (the electricity in the house was redone after the owners had a catastrophic fire last year and should have been up to snuff) on two separate occasions. We've had a porch invaded by wasps that Bill the bug killer, well, killed. I've personally demonstrated that I can kill bugs myself with the murder of an entire family of wolf spiders on my hands. That one was totally unexpected as I did not expect to be killing more than one spider at the time. Who knew I had it in me? Just to make life more exciting, I've killed a total of 6 wasps that despite windows being closed (because they're painted shut), have found their way into my knitting room. Let's just say that I owe my sanity to Raid.

The latest problem to emerge in this 96 year old home is a leak in the bathroom upstairs. I had no clue it was there until the drywall seam above the kitchen sink lifted and a constant drip, drip, drip of water occurred with each shower. Being responsible tenants, we called the leasing company immediately. The maintenance man came out and caulked the shower, but I knew in my heart that this was not the issue. Sure enough, the leaking continued, and we continued to call the management company. The drywall above the kitchen sink is no longer firm, having a texture more like sponge, and a hole has formed for easy escape of the water building up behind it.

These homeowners--thank God it's not us--have no exterior access to the upstairs plumbing. Since the bathtub has jets, it's obvious to me that there have been upgrades since 1914 and it's perplexing why a prior owner hasn't left an access. What a nightmare this repair is going to be for the current owner. Again, not us.

As renters, we're scouring the MLS postings for homes to buy and counting the days until this lease is finished. I'm thankful we signed a contract for just one year and not 18 months as the owner had wanted.

It won't be long until I get to entertain you with another home search. Gee, won't that be exciting? We still can't settle on any one area, though I do like the town where we live. Walking to town for dinner, shopping, knitting and getting my hair done has its charm and value. It's still a bit expensive here and these old homes may look nice, but eat a lot of money. I wouldn't want to live right downtown, either, mainly because of the Wednesday through Saturday nightclub and bar issues that occur at 2 AM. There is a house available on the east side of town that's on a canal leading into Lake St. Clair. I'm hoping to stay in the middle of my hospice territory with just a smidge more property and house. I'd like a small farm that could sustain a few animals and a D.O.G. It's past time for us to have a dog or two again.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Spilt Milk

Water is such an amazing life force, but it can be deadly, too. Just ask my Macbook which had a run in with nothing but a drop of the clear stuff. Right now, we're enduring a 72 hour drying out phase before I take it to the genius bar at the Apple store. A small part of me is holding out hope even though I think it may be finished. Makes me sick. I've googled repair estimates and they're almost as much as a brand new computer, but there I go putting the cart before the horse again. I have to let it dry before I write the obituary.

I will be blogging intermittently using my son's laptop. After all, he is the student and I mainly use my computer to waste time.

Photo: Google Images


Barring a miracle, I won't be around for a bit. It would seem I have a dead laptop. Maybe this way though, I'll finally get a little knitting done. I hope to be back online, soon. Really soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We Swears It, Precious

I didn't touch a thing and my formatting is all screwed up when viewing my blog with Firefox. With Safari, it hasn't changed at all. Is it whacky viewing it with explorer? I tried the usual trick of publishing something, and still, no dice.

Ah. Forget it. I'm going to bed and maybe by the time I wake up, it'll repair itself. The hospice phones have been burning up the wires for a couple of days. It feels like Friday already with more than half the week yet to come. I'd better go sleep fast.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The feds are once again digging up a wooded lot in Detroit. Now this news flash could mean a lot of things, but to those of us who recall the 70's (and why wouldn't we?), speculation has it that they're once again looking for Jimmy Hoffa. The search warrant is sealed and the FBI is offering no information (and who could blame them-they come up empty like Rivera always did), which only adds fuel to the speculation fire. The last Big Dig was on a suburban Detroit horse farm three years ago.

I'm curious, how much money do you think they've spent on searching for this man? Do you think it's worth it, or are there better ways to spend this kind of money?

As an aside, for some reason, I can't stop humming songs from the movie, Dirty Dancing. I'm going to miss that man.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Weekend of Nothing was Plenty

Drops Studio free headband pattern knit from my handspun. It was going great until I kitchnered it inside out. This is one of the things I'm donating for that benefit this weekend. I don't know if I have it in me to fix the problem. Maybe. We'll see.

I've had one long, lazy weekend. There are things I needed to do that didn't get done, but I did get caught up on some things.

I'm all caught up on Top Chef. I'd fallen behind these past couple of weeks, so I'm thankful I did get that accomplished. I like this show and find myself amazed at the talent out there. I'm rooting for a showdown between the two brothers. That family must have some amazing holiday meals!

I also watched an episode of Housewives of Atlantic City. The only reason I did this is because the remote was 6 feet away and I was too lazy to get up to change channels. In the past, I've tried watching these shows (HW of NY, and OC), and I'm at a loss trying to understand them. While I'm sure this show has its fans, to me it's a waste of air time. I'd rather watch Tom Colicchio.

While it was a laid back weekend, I wasn't completely unproductive. There was no spinning circle this weekend, but I did have a fellow spinner come by to pass some quality spinning time on my porch. We walked to the yarn store and I bought some hand cards, which until now, I haven't really needed, and she showed me how to use them. There are no more excuses for failing to spin my friend's dog's fur.

The offending fiber is on the top bobbin. Don't let the pretty natural colors fool you, this has been hell to spin.

I still haven't spun Boomer's fiber because I'm having trouble with the blend (amongst other issues). It can't be spun alone because it's too short and I'm trying to stay true to his colors. He was a Newfie, and while in the big picture he appeared black like a big old wooly bear, he had a lot of grey and brown in him, too. I bought some dark natural alpaca and had some dark BFL. The blend of the three is fairly close. My problem though is working with this stuff. I itch like crazy after about an hour of spinning. It doesn't matter if I'm carding or spinning the fibers, everything itches. So yesterday, I carded outdoors for two hours then spun the rolags. This yielded only half a bobbin before I had to stop, shower and take a benadryl. I can only think it must be the dog. I have to get this done! I may take it up to the shop to use the drum carder so I can finally get this project behind me.

Oh sure, it's pretty, but I abhor those sleeves. It's painful to think how many times I've knit them. Third times a charm.

In addition to spinning Boomer, I finished my swatch for the knit along, spent a fortune at the yarn store, knit a headband and dragged out Sara's sweater. I put it on the model so the unfinished sleeves can taunt me into action. They need to be ripped out and redone.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pass the Smelling Salts, Stat!

This is beyond disgusting, but THIS is what I found in the basement today when I was fiddling with the circuit breaker. Never mind that I had a house with only half the power on today, what's disturbed me most is that I'm apparently sharing my abode with these things (it's the second such creature I've found this week). Now don't make fun, because to me, it's so distressing, I can't even post the picture on this site to look at for days on end. If you're brave, you have to click the link. If you think you'll puke, don't look. I won't hold it against you because I would NOT click that link myself.

I'm telling you, this BEAST was gigantic and apparently carried its own luggage. When I smashed it with the closest thing to me, a giant suitcase, many tiny relatives tried to high tail it out of my way. They were smashed, too, although I had to change weapons to get to them. The mop came in handy.

Generally speaking, if you have more than 4 legs, you aren't welcome in my home. Ditto that if you have wings and a stinger.

Do you know what kind of beast this is? It's a wolf spider, and damned if it doesn't carry its offspring right on its body. Don't think that didn't surprise me. I thought I was watching the movie, Arachnophobia. Really.

I'm never going in that basement again.

Now pass the emesis basin. I think I'm going to be sick.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Riding the Fence

Since Father's Day, Mr. Larger Than Life has been doing a slow, downward spiral. Although he's not circling the drain just yet (medicalese for get ready to call the code), he is requiring more attention these days. In between episodes of feeling poorly, he's just as mean and wretched as ever. What do you do with an 81 year old man who is too ornery to live with, but unsafe to live alone?

When he had his emergency embolectomy in June, he told my husband he was afraid to be alone. Since that time, either my husband or my son has stayed there with him. They aren't allowed to open windows to let in the breeze on a balmy summer night. MLTL gets chilled. **At this point, if you cross your arms then briskly rub them, you'll get an idea of the visual cues that go with his complaint of being cold.** It doesn't matter if it's 90 degrees in the house, if the window is open, he'll take a chill. And we won't discuss cooling the house on a 98 degree day, either. Rather than put on a sweater, he makes them swelter. According to my husband, last night, he turned on the heat and set the thermostat to 75 F. Add that to the high humidity and the night was unbearable, but still, he is unwilling to compromise to make his guests comfortable. He nitpicks everyone to death: you dirtied a glass, you're using too much paper towel, you eat too much, your shower was too long, blah, blah, blah. Yet, he doesn't want to sleep alone in the house, eat alone or live alone.

Impossible to please, it takes a saint to live with this man, but he isn't safe to be by himself. He leaves doors unlocked, garage doors open, stove burners lit and water running (except for the shower which he steadfastly refuses to use--it'll be three years in November since he had one). The other day, my husband and son left his home and MLTL came out on the front porch yelling, "where are you, where did everyone go?" They were in the car, close enough to touch the man and he couldn't see them.

This hasn't stopped him from driving and I don't know what to do about that. Part of me wants to report him and part of me realizes that even without a license, he'd probably still get behind the wheel of a car. Lately, he's back to driving downtown to the casino every day. When he cracked his noggin, fractured his skull and survived his subarachnoid hemorrhage three years ago, he'd been going to the casino every single day. He never talked about his losses, but a review of his bank records showed withdrawals of hundreds of dollars every other day for months from the casino's ATM. After his accident, we went to pick up his car at the casino where even the valet staff knew his name and asked after him. In this manner, he's pissed away his retirement savings--in a way, pouring money down the drain. Interestingly if I were to tear up a 100 dollar bill of his in front of him, this man would scream at me, but he sees no problem gambling it all away. Not only do we worry about his gambling problem, we worry he'll be mugged on his way out of the casino or at an ATM. He's a sitting duck and way too blind to see it that way.

After his head injury, his behavior has worsened, and aging hasn't made him mellow. He has no social brakes and blurts out inappropriate things at the unsuspecting public. Since he can't hear himself, he's loud when he does this and has caused complete mortification of family members in public with him. One of these days, he's going to insult the wrong person and get himself clobbered for the effort. Nobody is safe from his verbal assaults that come out of the blue. He had some sort of run in at our dentist's office and "really let them have it." This is code for saying he screamed at some poor girl at the front desk and now can't return there. Ever. Too bad for him, he was in need of emergency dental care this week and ended up seeing someone who fleeced him. The next time I see my dentist, I have to find out what really happened there.

I keep telling myself there is no way on God's green earth that I could live with this man, but if we don't do something, he'll hurt himself or someone else. What if he leaves the burner on when my son or husband are there and burns the house down? I'd never forgive the old goat.

If I cave on this issue and either take him in, or we move in with him, I'll need to start a bail fund. Even if he didn't live forever, a month, a year or two would seem like forever. Sheesh, even dinner with him seems like eternity. I just know I'd end up braining him with my niddy noddy and probably by the end of the first day.

I'm crazy to even be pondering this, but damn it, I want my family back. I'm not liking this split life we're living so MLTL can be looked after. The burden of the past few years has been tremendous and has fallen primarily on my husband's shoulders. I feel badly for him and feel like I should be doing more to help out. I know it isn't easy for him or my son. In the past I've told my husband that if MLTL were to lose his tongue become incapacitated, I'd be happy care for him, but now I'm wondering if I'm wrong about this stance of mine and the time to act is now. If he were a kind man, there'd be no question about what to do, but believe me, if anything, I've understated how horrible he can be. I can positively guarantee that he'd charge us rent to take care of him. Oh. No, I'm not kidding. He absolutely would.

Obviously, I need to be talked off the fence. I would be insane to even consider living with this curmudgeon, wouldn't I?

Photo: Google Images

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Y oh Y oh Y

I think he's missing more than a Y....

I may not be good at punctuation, but I do know how to spell.

In addition to his C, he may be a few more letters short of a full alphabet.


Over at the nut knit house, projects have been started and, praise be, completed. Over the weekend, I finished one pint sized chemo cap, only it's not so pint sized. It's amazing how big a child's head really is. My 21 year old has the same sized noggin as the 6 year old so it was nice to have a live-in model. I used the Seaman's Cap pattern I found on Ravelry and it turned out well in the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. I love the color.

And even though I said never again, another pair of Fetching was also completed. I knit so many of these a few years ago, that I was all fetched out. It's a reliable pattern and goes really fast. I can knit a pair of these in about 8 hours. It beats the heck out of me how the designer got a pair of these from one skein of Cashmerino. That's impossible. Even using every last scrap of yarn, I can't get it done without busting into the second skein. I love the cable border on this and thought I should create a hat using that ribbing. Good thing I checked Ravelry first as I'm not the first one to think of this, and there are already patterns (free ones) to select from.

I'm between projects now. Instead of letting the Fetching leftovers go to waste, I'm swatching with it. I wanted to see how the Every Way Wrap would look knit up in the Cashmerino. I can't really talk about this though because despite checking for errata, I'm having a hard time getting past row one. I have a horrible time interpreting cable charts. I think I may use the color coding trick after I blow up the pattern. I've ripped the swatch 6 times. Somethings gotta give.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Opening up my work email today, I found a wonderful note about Ruby from a coworker. She had been to the fair on Sunday and was surprised to see my name on the shawl. It was the reminder I needed to run down to the fairgrounds to pick Ruby up and deliver her to the yarn shop. I was a little sad when I left because the state has withdrawn funding for the fair (the country's oldest state fair) and this may be the last one for awhile, maybe forever unless a benefactor steps forward. I think that's unlikely. I thought I'd share a few photos I took this past week.

When we walked the 2005 Breast Cancer Three Day, the fairgrounds were where closing ceremonies were held. We heard a lot of people plan on where they'd meet up that day if they were separated, and "meet me by the stove" was a frequent refrain. You really can't miss this.

It would be nice to see a return of a bull market. Since Michigan won't be needing their bull mascot, maybe we could send it to Wall Street.

This was some sort of insane ride apparatus. Though I'd never get on a ride like this, I can't help but think that the photo composition is pretty fabulous. I can't remember if I took this with the Sony or the Nikon, but I have a feeling it was probably the latter.

When my husband and I were leaving today, we took the opportunity to drive around the fairgrounds. The Budweiser trucks were there to pick up their Clydesdale horses. They were pretty spirited and I regretted leaving my cameras behind. Most of the rides were packed up and leaving and the fair was beginning to look desolate. I'm hoping that somehow, the state will find the money to keep this going, but I do understand the need to withdraw the funding. In a state that has had to lay off employees due to lack of assets, we need to be reasonable about what can stay and what has to go and right now, I think it's the fair.

I wonder what they'll do with this land? JL Hudson donated this property for fair use. If it's sold to be just another strip mall, that will be a shame.

At the community arts center this morning, I ran into the woman from the fair who'd called me about the man who wanted to buy my shawl. She told me it would be her favorite fair story for the year. I just hope that next year, we can get her a new story to tell.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lather, Rinse & Repeat

It's the end of summer around here, so I've decided to let my mind have a nice long weekend off. I don't want to consider anything too deep or moving--I'm saving that for Obama's scandalous speech for kids to stay in school.

When the shampoo bottle instructions recommend to lather, rinse and repeat, do you? Repeat, I mean. I think it's a waste of money--right up there with expensive shampoos and wool wash. Though I like the smell of wool wash, at $64 a gallon, they can keep it and I'll use good old fashioned dish soap.

Of course these thoughts came unbidden during a shower this morning as I uncapped the $3 bottle of Pantene and thought it smelled pretty nice. Not as nice as the really expensive shampoos I used to wash down the drain, but it does the job.

I picked up the Pantene at Target yesterday. As usual, I went with a mission to buy an inexpensive steamer, and only the steamer, for my yarn and clothes. It was modestly priced at $30. I ended up forking over 5 times what I'd intended to spend just to buy more crap I thought I needed. Have you priced razor blades lately? They're out of their minds, and if hair on my legs were something that didn't bug me, I wouldn't have bought them. Since it's been awhile since I've shaved my legs, I bought a box of band aids to keep around just in case tragedy struck while shaving. And neosporin. And jammies for Rachel. Oh... and some hand cream. I congratulated myself on that one, because I had been planning on going to Bath and Body works and spending way more on hand cream than what's necessary. What I won't spend on wool wash, I will on hand cream.

Finally, after reading the news today, I was amazed at the gimmickry Wall Street is up to again. There are groups of investors who'd like to buy your life insurance policy off of you before you die. Of course, they're only going to give you a percentage of what it's worth when it becomes clear that you have a more definite expiration date. When you're six feet under, they'll cash it in for the full amount. Instead of your family getting the money they thought was coming to them, some invisible investor will. I guarantee that this investor will have nothing to do with swabbing your mouth and wiping your behind while you're dying.

Pondering this news in the shower, I got to thinking that this may indeed be the ultimate death panel. I mean, what if you're told you're dying of cancer? You take your diagnosis home and decide that rather than treatment, it's time to live it up. You see a Wall Street Flim-Flam Man who makes your wish come true and with a new jingle in your step, you tear up the town. Two weeks later the doc calls to tell you, "um, they got your slides mixed up with somebody else and I need to tell you that to our knowledge, you not the one dying. Some other poor schmuck is. Great news, isn't it?" Ya think? I foresee a posse of Wall Street Fat Cats--or their designated vermin-- that will ride out and make sure that those who danced with this particular devil will pay the price.

Money for nothin'...No such thing.

Gotta go start the grill. I hope you're having a lazy weekend, too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ticking Away

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Pink Floyd

It's only taken fifty two years, but I've come to embrace the fact that I love deadlines and the ensuing pressure to get a job done. Take those afghan squares I knit for my sister as an example. She sent me the yarn back in April or May, but I waited until right before they were due in August to finish them up completely. I didn't even start them until mid July. How's that for dawdling and denial? I couldn't knit them until the fire was nice and hot to urge me forward.

Today I looked at the calendar and realized it's September 4th. It doesn't seem like it should be, and I believe that's because Labor Day is late this year. I've been ignoring the calendar, but while looking for when the full moon falls (today), I realized that once again, I've been procrastinating. I have a deadline for a few items that are due on the 19th, and here I've been dawdling and whining saying that I just can't knit...I've lost my muse...I'm all used up after knitting Ruby.


All I've needed is a deadline and now that I've let one get uncomfortably close, my needles are flying again. You see, one of my colleague's grandchildren is sick. Really sick. I'm knitting some items to raffle off at a benefit for him on the 19th of September.

First up, is a hat for him for when he loses his hair. This is his second dance with chemo, so he knows it's coming and just in time for the cold weather. Well not to worry, he'll have the hat I started last night and I've mostly completed. Forty more rows and it's a done deal. Next up will be a pattern out of Nicky Epstein's book, Knitting Never Felt Better. It's a stockinette scarf that will be felted using nuts (still in the shells) as molds to create a bubble effect. It's two thirds done. I bought enough yarn to make a pair of fingerless mitts that will be raffled, too. I'm thinking that for the heck of it, I'll throw in some felted bars of soap, a skein of handspun wool and a pattern for a scarf or neck warmer to top it off.

See? That's all I needed: a purpose and not a lot of time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dear XM

For several years now, I have been a faithful subscriber to your satellite radio services. I've carried your service in 3 vehicles. This past month, we completely lost our minds in an effort to support our economy, my husband and I bought our son a brand spanking new Ford Focus. We just couldn't see him driving into the city in his old hooptie anymore and quite frankly, we were worried that he lacked the skills to make the car go like Fred Flintstone could. Any day, his feet would have gone right through the floor boards of his old, beat up, though well used and loved jalopy. Along with his spanking new car, he got the fancy option of attaching his Ipod to listen to the music HE wants to hear. If you can imagine, it really is commercial free which is something you promised to be, but no longer are. He also got 3 free months of satellite radio which we'll take but aren't likely to renew when done. So you see, he doesn't need you anymore. He really only needed you because Mr. Larger Than Life broke his antenna and he couldn't get the more attractive free radio in the first place.

Imagine our surprise when not two weeks later, my husband totaled his own car. Although I'm sure the junkyard employees would appreciate satellite radio, we can't listen to that particular account in that car anymore. And guess what? His new ride also has free satellite radio and the same option to play his Ipod music, commercial free of course. Yes, he got a Ford, too.

That leaves just me, but you're billing me for 3 accounts when I only need one. Truth be told, I mostly listen to local AM radio when I'm working out of my car so I know where the traffic kerfuffles are located. These days, I only spend time in my car when I'm working and last I looked, AM radio is free. I think you can plainly see that I don't need you either. Because of that, we desperately need to close these accounts but doing so has been an exercise in futility.

I've been trying to accomplish what should be a simple task for some time now. Today, your company has taken valuable time spinning yarn away from me. My calls have been transferred all over the world from one department to another where I have spent a disgusting amount of time on hold only to be disconnected for the effort. You know, I went through this with an AOL account I had years ago and I'm a little concerned that although we have good reason to close our accounts, seeing as we have little need for them, I worry that your business is impossible to navigate to get this job done.

If I didn't already have a head of gray hair making it impossible to count them all, I'd think you gave me 20 more today.



Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sticks on Fire

I'm still not knitting much these past few weeks. It's as though I burned myself out trying to get through the must do knitting and left no fuel for anything else. Maybe I can set fire to my needles to see if that will spark a flame. Or...Or I could start a knit along. Why not?

One of the things that sparks my creativity is knitting or spinning with a group of like minded people. I usually have an incredible time and I love having the opportunity to draw on the experiences of others, while simultaneously gleaning priceless information I didn't know I couldn't knit without.

Rose and I have been going back and forth with this KAL idea since first seeing the fall Interweave Knits Magazine. There isn't an unattractive pattern in the entire issue. Well OK, the Fair Isle patterns don't entice me, but they're still pretty. It's just not my cup of tea to knit with all of those colors. Maybe it's yours. Hey! Someone has to knit that stunning Bohus sweater.

Consider this your formal invitation to join this KAL being hosted at Sticks on Fire, a virtual knitting circle. This is a BYOP (Bring Your Own Pattern) group, so grab your fall issue of IK Magazine, select your yarn and needles and be ready to cast on by September 21st. It's that simple. All skill levels welcome.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rolling Apples

They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, but what do they know?

Saturday, I went to the grand opening of my daughter Sara's restaurant. It was the second such opening in about 6 weeks, but this was the formal unveiling, with the first being a soft opening where what could go wrong, inevitably did. Sara has had no formal training in how to open a restaurant, but for the past year, this is the project that has consumed her life.

From the beginning when Sara took over an old building, she's worked with architects, contractors, artists and vendors and now the art of negotiation is a feather firmly attached in her cap. She has become adept at the art of schmoozing politicians and licensing organizations as though she learned at the knee of Donald Trump. During the build-out, this child of mine learned to put up with a lot of nonsense from petulant, and sometimes threatening tradesmen. She is now an employer to mostly youthful humans, many who are 10 to 12 years her junior and she's handling them with aplomb. Some of her employees waited weeks to start work just to be able to have a job. During these hard economic times in the Detroit area, she's proud to be an employer.

Where did she learn all this? When? I know she didn't inherit any of these skills from me. I mean that. Sara has always been a bundle of energy and incredibly intense from the day she was born and it seems she's found a way to channel all of it into something creative. I couldn't possibly be more proud of her than I am today...except maybe on the day I had her 28 years ago today.

Happy Birthday, sweetie. After so many years, you continue to amaze me!