Sunday, September 24, 2006

Back to the City

I'm back from the Wichita Wildlife Refuge after a great weekend of camping. The beautiful green object is my tent - our home for the weekend. We arrived at the campsite much later in the day than we expected - I took the day off to find my gear and load up, but Shana, and everyone else, got away from the city much later than anticipated. We left the city around rush hour, eager to see our campsite. Fortunately one of our fellow campers had been kind enough to drive all the way down the day before to reserve two adjoining sites so we could all (9 of us) have a great weekend. Also pictured is my kitchen at the campsite. We were lucky that one of the sites had a really big pad because we ended up with three kitchens set up.

The campers, engaging in our favorite pastimes: eating and gabbing. Jokes were told, and stories shared. A good time was had by all. Friday night was all about getting everyone in and the tents all set up. Two tents were completely new or unfamiliar; I hadn't had my tent out in years so I had some confusion about a crucial issue setting it up. We had hot dogs and marshmallows and finally settled down for the night.

About the time we get settled in the wind started. We "enjoyed " a nice breeze of about 40 mph, plus a bit of thunder and lightning and a sprinkle of rain, during which we all lay in our tents wondering if it would be better to go to the somewhat smelly but sturdy rock outhouse or cross our fingers and stay in our comfy tents. Guess which we chose! There was also the small matter of the feet. Shana was sure a large predator was just outside our tent preparing to chew on her feet, and also heard a person walking around the campsite. Morning revealed what actually happened.

A cooler (not mine, haha) had been left out with no bungee securing the lid. Raccoons helped themselves to some bratwurst and tasted some blueberries. The winning "prey item" was a package of Blue & Gold sausage, which tasty treat the raccoons feasted on a little ways in front of our tent. A buffalo strolled through the area in the night, leaving a "calling card" to advertise his presence.

Saturday morning was to have been a bike ride, but since the winds were still howling at about 20 miles per hour, fishing was considered the better choice. The feet in this picture are mine. Please note I was not down by the water with the fishermen. I was sitting in a carefully chosen nook out of the wind knitting and listening to a podcast about knitting while watching the herd of longhorn cattle at the park through my binoculars. We had thought that a ride later would be possible, but it basically the wind blew like crazy until late in the afternoon, so no one wanted to go. Shana and I drove into Cache (the nearest town) to score a lottery ticket and a bottle of wine, and that was the big trip for the day. Some of the campers went for a hike, and we met to cook supper.

One stove in particular caught everyone's imagination. This is the Coleman 9940 - Coleman lists this as the Road Trip Party Grill. Because it has one fairly large burner it is great for heating up a large pot. We were chanting the model number for the rest of the weekend. Everyone wants one, and this particular unit was a great garage sale find for an amazing price. Got to hit more garage sales! Checking out the Coleman website I found out that they also make a propane slow-cooker. In the world of camping gadgets that may be the elusive ultimate item! I must admit that my 20 year old Coleman 2 burner is still a reliable camp stove and I am still very happy with it. BUT - the 9940 rocks!

Sunday we packed up the tents and headed out for a hike before going back to the city. The refuge is in one of the oldest mountain ranges on earth, so weathered that in height they hardly count as hills. Because the area is so rocky it cannot be plowed, it was never settled, and has been set aside as a wildlife refuge, with buffalo, deer, elk, and longhorn cattle roaming in herds. You can't look in any direction that is not spectacular, and our hike just whet our appetites to see more. We will be back again soon and often.

Next time we will certainly not forget our sunblock, though. Shana and I both have fried necks and ears and I'm really glad I was wearing a cap, because her face is red as a beet. In our party everyone else was either smarter than we were or Native American, so we were the only ones who got sunburned. Lucky us.

And for things you don't see every day - here's an actual road sign in the refuge. There is a big prairie dog colony on one side of the road, but over time they have spread to both sides of the road, and there is an actual prairie dog crossing. I had to have a picture!

Shana and I stopped in Chickasha to eat at Jake's Rib - really good local barbecue that we had meant to sample on other occasions but never quite got there. The ribs and brown beans were excellent and the service friendly and prompt. I had a dish that was basically Okie nachos - Fried potatoes with cheese, green onions and bacon and sour cream on the side. Yummy, and not at all the sort of thing a person should eat very often! It was well worth a stop.

Tomorrow we are back to the daily, but we'll be going back to our work week refreshed and refilled by a great weekend of outdoor fun.

Friday, September 22, 2006

On the Road Again

This will be a quickie post, as I'm almost on my way out the door to go camping in the beautiful Wichita Wildlife Refuge with some of my friends and the Oklahoma Bicycle Society. We're going down tonight, with a bike ride tomorrow, hiking, fishing (for Shana) and birding for me. The car looks like we are going to be on the road for a week, but it's really only two and a half days. I took today off the pack up the car, and almost lived to regret that I'd put EVERYTHING off until this morning! My tarp is AWOL (borrowed one from Dennis), but everything else is just where I thought it was. Amazing, isn't it?
The sock-in-progress pictured here has gone to the frog pond. It was too wide, the stitch wasn't working with the stripe, and it totally just looked like hell. It's almost back to the same length now, and looks much better. It's going to be a simple stockinette over 60 stitches with a 3x2 rib top. Camp knitting at its simple best. I was thinking that I wanted to shake up my socks to feature some different kinds of stitches and ribs, but sometimes you just have to work with what you have and stop trying to fight the yarn.

Time to load up the bikes. I'll have some pictures of the camp event when I get back (Stay tuned for the excitement) Peace On!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Still later on Saturday

It's football time, and a good time is being had by all - if your team happens to be Oregon. So far the old Twinsburg cheer applies "We Got No De-Fense"!

The delicious breakfasts at left courtesy of the Apple Orchard, our neighborhood diner. All good all the time. There was uproar and confusion in the kitchen today - key kitchen workers were out, but it didn't effect the food. We did peek into the kitchen on our way out, though - all the faces back there looked desperate - like they had managed to get through breakfast but were just realizing that the lunch rush would be hitting in a minute.

Next up entertainment for the morning was a visit to the dog park. Rita and I took Skippy and Roxy out for some wild fun . Of course the only pictures I have of Roxy are of her backside, running away. I swear I have not peeled the face right off of her. I'm just showing off her beautiful tail. Skippy is a pound puppy, originally billed as being a Cocker Spaniel/ Beagle cross, which Rita picked out for herself. Nancy thought the cross would produce a dog who would run away howling. He's turned out to be a very clever dog, and has revealed what appears to be a big streak of Border Collie. The dog park was big fun, with lots of butt-sniffing for all. Our experience improved 100% once we scored the bench in the shade. One adolescent German Shepherd thought he might like to bully Skippy, but Skippy set him straight. Every once in a while he'd come back, but the response was still the same, shoving teeth, and a short growl, so he eventually gave up. He wasn't getting anywhere with Skippy, and the other dogs were showing their disapproval at his gauche behavior.

Well, back to my game (boohoo). At least Virginia Tech and Ohio State are still doing well. The most fun thing about the OU game is going to be watching Bobby Stoops get hotter and hotter on the sidelines!

Saturday Morning in Pig Girls' House

Oh yes - it's awful. This week has been totally idle, at least in terms of housework. I though yesterday afternoon would be a tidy afternoon, but I forgot that I had a haircut, so I spent an hour driving back and forth across town , plus time in the chair. Fortunately the conversation was good. When I came home I could have started in on the chores and really that was my intention, but once I had done my daily blog crawl and had a snack I noticed that Project Runway was on and I missed the first five minutes on Thursday when I watched the rerun from Wednesday and then I had to see the look on Heidi's face when Michael Kors made fun of Uli's German accent, and then Shana came home and we ran off to Walmart for the weekly grocery spree and then....well, then it was Cubis Time. Every time I play I swear it is the last time because it takes we THREE HOURS to get near my best score, and every time I fail to get a better score. It's such a monumental waste of time that it has been relegated to Friday nights ONLY. Anyway, today I am waking up in the same pit I woke up in yesterday. We'll be at the Old Orchard for breakfast with Shelley, and then Shana has to run off to work. Shana usually has breakfast with her on Fridays, but ran out of time this week, so we're doubling up. It's not quite killing two birds with one stone, it's more like Shana enjoys her breakfasts at the Old Orchard with each of us, and in order not to miss out we'll overlap. Fine by me, since recent overscheduled madness has meant that I haven't seen Shelley either.
Current knitting is (almost) all socks all the time. These are the two socks in progress. The pink one is living at the office during the week, and the striped one if my TV sock. Please note how beautifully the stripes are matching up! We'll have to wait to see if it all goes south after I turn the heel. I'm not too (or at all) compulsive about the number of stitches I pick up for the gusset, and that will often throw off the matching for the foot a little, but I don't think it's a serious enough problem to make me want to make a note of how many I picked up on the first sock.

And in any event as problems go it's nothing. Our IT manager lost his youngest son in a stupid accident this week. He's been with the company for about eight years and we all just love him. It's breaking our hearts to think of how he must be feeling now. We have so many daily reminders of grief and distress all around us every day it's hard to justify how often we feel unlucky.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Store Is Open

My Etsy Shop is open for business, and I've got my Paypal account set up, so I'm all ready for sales. So far I've only listed two monkeys, but will be adding more one or two at a time. I hope someone thinks they are as cute as I do! In case you don't get over there to look (click on the link on the sidebar to go there) here are the pictures of my first two "products":
The grey one is really my favorite. It's not as colorful, but it's a lot softer and cuddlier.
They are both cute, though. I have about half a dozen additional monkeys to add, and then I don't know what I will put up in the shop.

I do have some ideas, and one nice thing about Etsy is that you can put up one-ofs and single items just to see what happens. Some people with fairly popular websites for hand crafted items do all of their testing on Etsy.

Alex and his friend George came over and covered the pool for me tonight. Surprisingly, when I told him I'd like him to help me with the cover at his convenience, he immediately volunteered that he could come over tonight with a friend and do it for me. He seems to be still among the living, working at a pizza place and looking for something that pays a bit better.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Grand Opening

Well maybe not grand - but opening, anyway. I am setting up a shop at Etsy . At the moment there is nothing in it, and I have to set up my Paypal account which is proving to be more annoying than I had expected - the problem may be that I've already set one up and forgot all about it. Nevertheless, I'll have a place to show monkeys looking for homes, or any other bit of crafty goodness I'd like to sell. I only had one monkey sell over the weekend, so I've got plenty to stock the store. I'll keep a link over on the sidebar for easy access.
I'll be sending the monkeys over a few at a time, to keep myself on the "new" pages as often as possible. Tracey still has them, so as soon as I get them back I'll start taking pretty pictures and thinking up how best to pack them up for shipping. I'm thinking shoe boxesand bubble wrap, and I'll have to weight, etc so I know the exact shipping cost for my billing. I hope by the end of the week I'll have everything ironed out and ready to sell.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lazy Sunday

It's Sunday afternoon and I am having a lazy day. The original plan had been to take a long bike ride, but it was rainy earlier so we decided to laze around. Shana is grilling up some chicken for this week's salads, making a sweet potato pie, and cooking us some pasta for supper. I'm knitting and watching movies, preferably ones I've seen before so I don't lose count of my stitches. So far I've watched Secrets and Lies and am currently into Men in Black. I'm working on the Kimono Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls. The link is to the fabulous Eunny - I hope mine looks as pretty as hers. Mine is a beige-ish merino from Knitpicks - I'll post a picture when I get a few repeats done. Right now it just looks like a skinny rag. I'm into the second striped sock, and may even pick up the dreaded Triangles Within Triangles shawl. It's really not that dreadful, I just got a bit fuzzled with it. There is also the matter of Icarus for which I have suitable yarn in my stash. There is a Knitalong going right now and I am mighty tempted to sign up. In my spare time. Of which there is almost none.
These are yesterday's jewelry project. All things green went to Shana for her birthday gift. The earrings right above the bracelet are meant to match a necklace she bought for me last week at a crafts fair. I'm not sure what I'll do with the others, so I am stashing them away for a bit. Who knows, I may need an extra holiday gift. One set of findings will have to go back to the shop - it broke and I think I can expect better performance than that. It had never even been worn. Besides it gives me a good excuse to stop in again!

Friday, September 08, 2006

The weekend is here already!!!!!

Can't believe I haven't posted all week. OK, actually I can believe it. This has been Frying in Hell week at work, also known as DEADLINE. The last thing I wanted to do was type stuff in after I got home. Also, I was in major Monkey Mode any time I had a bit of time to spare.

These little monkeys are going to market. Tracy, in my department, has a table at a crafts fair this weekend and is taking "the kids" along. She and Heather are taking jewelry, and the monkeys will supply something different to attract a little extra traffic. Good for them and for me. I've had them lined up on the edge of my desk for the last two weeks, which will probably translate into some Christmas orders, so next week I'll be making monkeys again, but at a slower rate. Last weekend I made three.

This is the view from my office window at work. Nice, isn't it? The big plant is just visiting. It's owner has an inside office which does not agree with it. The four African violets all started from one plant I bought at Home Depot when we first moved back to 701 Cedar Lake. My department had been part of the Chaparral Diaspora when we ran out of space in the building in 2000. We were supposed to be back in a year. We came back in 2004. Now we are spreading out again. A couple of departments are now officing across the road, and we are breaking ground on another addition later this month.

Apparently we are very close to another big acquisition. I have mixed feelings about this. In a way I look forward to it - life in the office has become pretty routine, and it's almost (but not quite) fun to get a handle on a big project. And I can't deny the overtime involved would be a welcome addition to my income. The higher gasoline and home utility payments this year have kicked me around the block. However, none of us can forget the last big one - seven days a week for eight months.

In other crafty goodness, please note evidence that I have visited the Spiral Beadery this afternoon, and not a moment too soon. Tomorrow is Shana's birthday. She's asked me to make her some new (green) earrings in honor of the occasion. Yes, there are too many little bags there for one pair of earrings. I am planning to make her two pair, and there is also most of the findings I will need for a couple of pair for Christmas gifts. I usually make a pair (each) for Shelley and her daughter, Jennifer, and Katie Humpries. They make lovely token presents. I'll probably need to make a trip to Elements Beadery in Bethany later in the season to get a few more items.

In knitting news, it would seem to be all socks all the time. I've currently got two pair in progress. One lives at the office during the week for my lunch time knitting. The stripey one is my football sock - an easy pattern to knit while I watch football. I do have another two projects on the needles that require more attention, and I'm just about ready to cast on for another. After some initial hesitation, I find that the bamboo dpns are my favorites for socks. I think I will still like metal needles for really small gauge, but I love the #1 bamboos. The birch needles not as much, although they are nice. The 5 inch length is nice and compact for a carry around project, but they are a little stiffer, and stickier, and not as pointy. Love the pointyness of my Chrystal Palace bamboos.

A crochet project is under consideration (afghan for Alex) to be started when the weather cools down a little more. He'll enjoy an afghan this winter, I think. I'll need to check out my patterns for something "manly". If I go with a red, white, and black color scheme I might be able to make about half of it out of stash yarn.

There is also an altered book on the (way back) back burner. I actually have the book. I bought it several months ago at a thrift shop, but haven't started working on it yet. There is also the small matter of my knitting journal, which is meant to feature pictures, yarn samples, and copies of the pattern of finished projects, with pattern notes. I do have some of that done. I've obviously got too many irons in the fire (and more projects are under consideration).

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Labor Day Weekend

The long weekend is here at last!!!

Big plans for Friday included some house cleaning for Nancy who has been unable to manage the vacuum cleaner due to a big lupus flare. I took Roxy with me to play with Skippy, who misses doggy companionship since his friend died. The dogs had a wonderful time sniffing each other and running around the yard. Other excitement for my Friday afternoon included picking up Shana's bike from the shop - repairs for the disaster were only $20.00. Thank you Pro Bike, thank you John - he got it fixed right away. I did the usual errands, grocery, etc. and headed on home.

Saturday I had planned to get a little ride in early, but rain intervened. No matter. It was the first Saturday of the month, so it was Yoga Saturday. I took a class. Tina does something completely different on the monthly Saturday class than she does in her regular class, so new weaknesses were exposed. Looks like I need to do more work on my back - the backs of my shoulders and arms are very sore today. Picked Rita up, and the rest of the day was devoted to FOOTBALL and monkeys. Ohio State looks good. OU not so much. Here's a little close up of my craft desk, for anyone who might like to be envious. At last a place where my sewing machine is not in the way if I leave it up for weeks at a time. I've got room for fabric scraps, yarn needles, craft books and magazines, ribbons, notions, beads, all in one place.

Today will be church, house cleaning, cooking for Nancy and the work week, dinner guests, and more monkeys. Tomorrow a nice ride to El Reno, home of the Onion Burger with Shana and probably Sharon B. It will actually be nice to have a longish ride (40 miles round trip) which is not a big stretch and is not training for something else. I've promised to ride nice and slow, and we'll have an onion burger before we turn back for home. It was a guy from El Reno who started the White Castle hamburger chain, so the El Reno onion burger is the real deal.

Shana requested that I add to my blog an objection to the recent fad of French manicures on the feet. For your reference - normal foot, French manicured foot:

Important disclaimer - the French manicured foot is not mine. Shana thinks that the FM foot looks like "Troll Toes" - toes that need a good clipping. I must agree - it's a nasty look. I am seeing this look particularly recommended for brides. To match their fingers, I suppose.

Next weekend is the Bricktown Streak . I am planning to ride, but am late in registering because we were planning to be out of town in a cabin in eastern Oklahoma. This will be a 30 mile, almost easy ride. There are three humongous hills, but otherwise a pleasant ride in the country, so long as the wind does not kick up too much. The only options are 30 miles 100K and 100 miles. I'm not up t0 62 miles of hills yet, and anyway I planned to ride with Shana since this will be her birthday weekend. The Bricktown Streak last year was my first bike event ever, and the longest ride I had ever done at that time. Apparently my next event will be a triathalon at the end of the month, so I'll have to start training for speed after next weekend. I will be doing it as part of a relay, so I will not have to run or swim. Shana will do the swimming, and she's talked a friend into running. I'm glad to have a short term goal for speed, because that is one of the things I'll have to work on before I can ride 100 miles. Every course has a cutoff time at some point in the course, and I do not think I am fast enough for it at this point. It's going to take practice to get a cadence which will give me some decent speed, and this will be the most boring training I can think of. Sprint and recovery, sprint and recovery, sprint and recovery. The upside is that from my reading I think the sprinting will actually (indirectly) build endurance, which is also on my list of things I need more of for the 100 mile ride next year. A short term goal will help a lot. I'll probably try getting out on Saturday to ride with the Oklahoma Bicycle Society. They have a variety of groups who ride on Saturday mornings, and if I can work my way into the 18 to 20 mph group that should be fast enough for most of my goals. OBS is a great resource. They provide all kinds of maps for good rides of various lengths, among other things.