Saturday, October 28, 2006

Craftulous Saturday

I'm all by myself this weekend. Shana is in Boston with her mother (who's doing very well after her heart surgery) and I have no social engagements, so I've been crafting up a storm. I worked on the Super Secret Project all day today, and made some very significant progress. The giant pile of craft supplies here is only a part of the giant pile I was working from today. Since I did not have to concern myself with cooking or company I just took out everything I might possibly need in the course of the day and laid it out all over the counter for my convenience. I don't know whether it was a good move or not. It was inspiring to have everything ready to hand, but as the day wore on it got a little out of control. I've got it all stacked up in neat piles now, since I have put this project aside for the evening. It is still a mess, and I have some things set out on the other counters as well. Tomorrow I'll spread it out again and take another run at it.

I was thinking we might get to the dog park this afternoon for a break, but I was doing so well on my project that I did not like to stop, so we stayed home all day. We did get out for a walk this morning, and will again later this evening. I put Roxy outside on the leash for a couple of hours this afternoon since the sun was nice and warm today. She loves to bask in the sun and enjoy the smells and sounds of the outdoors. It's one of her favorite activities. You'd think it would bore her, but although she'd rather be running down the street chasing cats she'll settle for a nap in the sun. Maybe tomorrow we'll slip out to the dog park with her friend Skippy.

This evening I'll turn to my knitting. I knit for a while yesterday evening while watching the Dog Whisperer. Progress is significant, although possibly boring to look at. You can be the judge. I'll probably work on the socks, although I should be started a gift afghan. I've got the yarn and the pattern, but I am putting off starting it because the first few rows of a crochet project are the hardest for me. That's when I am most likely to count wrong, or make the thing shrink or grow along the edges. Once the pattern is established it seems so much easier. The last couple of afghans I made I tore out the first four rows about three times each before I got them underway. Twister is starting, which will be good knitting entertainment, so it should be a nice evening of crafty goodness.

Fall is here - all of a sudden the leaves have turned and they are starting to fall. It won't be long before The Big Rake begins. Fall color here is nothing like it was in Ohio - there are fewer varieties of trees, and the ones we have don't put on the same show as the maples and beeches of my youth, but they are still pretty, and the fall smell is still in the air. The squirrels are socking away their winter treasure - not as many acorns as last year, I'm glad to report - and they are all fat as little piggies and busy as can be. It's just about time to take the begonias to the office for the winter. They are quite happy there, and bloom all winter.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin

Well, maybe not so much wild - maybe the Mild Rumpus? Shana is in Boston this weekend, so plans for the weekend include crafting, crafting, and a bit of crafting. Some will be publicly visible, and other items must remain TOP SECRET.

First item: Something Which Is Not Socks !!! Well, it is being knit on DPN's, but it is a pair of pink fingerless mitts with cables at the wrist and hand. The pattern is Fetching from Knitty. The pattern has a picot bind-off, which I did not do, as I think it makes the finger end roll outward. Also, I am doing it in a somewhat different yarn than called for. It calls for Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran on #6 DPNs. I'm using Wool Ease sportweight on #3's. Otherwise the same, stitch and row count, everything. They seem nice and cozy and fit my hand well. I had Shana try one on, and not only did she like them, she called them lovely and would like a pair for herself. (Mwahaha - another knitted gift victim is born!) They are fun to knit, and have an even better instant gratification factor than socks.

Of course there are always socks in progress. Blue Simple Stripes which are designed to have a roll down cuff, currently in the gusset stage, and just started some green and purple Opal. The blue ones are my lunchtime socks, and the Opal socks had to be started because of Lost. I did not have a project going at home that I could work on and watch a new episode. I needed something to work on which would not require me to look at it or count stitches or rows. The fingerless mitt was in a "pick up stitches for the thumb" state, and of course lace was out of the question. Still no pictures of the Kimono Shawl. It's not much farther along, and looks pretty blah in its current state.

I had lunch today at Jason's Deli with Samantha. This is where we usually go when we lunch together, as they really have something for everyone. This time I had Chicken Chili soup, and Samantha had a Chicken Panini sandwich with Pesto and a salad. We actually ended up swapping meals, so we each had some chili and some sandwich. Very tasty, and this time it was her treat, so even better. We had a pleasant lunch and good conversation. This enjoyable state of affairs is not always the case with our lunches, so when it happens we are both pleased.

Samantha was scheduled for knee surgery today, but it's been put off a bit pending some issues with Worker's Comp. She was not looking forward to surgery, but the knee has been painful since summer and she's getting tired of it.

I cruised on up to Sealed With A Kiss in Guthrie after lunch to see what was happening up there. They didn't have much in the way of sock yarn (and a good thing too, as I don't need any) but they did have Buffalo and Quivuit yarn, both of which I had read about but never touched in person. The Buffalo is a delicious brown, and feel wonderfully soft. That's the upside. The downside was that for a smallish skein (only 60 yards) of what the manufacturer calls worsted, and which felt more like thick sportweight to me they were asking $76.00. The fingerless mitts I am making call for about 98 yards. Luxury fiber indeed. In case you wondered (I did) no one has to work up their courage to shear a live buffalo. The fiber is a product secondary to the meat trade. Read about it here. Quivuit is made from Musk Ox fiber. Read about it here. The yarn is hypoallergenic, luxuriously soft, and unbelieveably expensive. The laceweight balls they were selling were $69.95 for 218 yards - for an example of how little that is, the yardage for my Creatures of the Reef shawl was 1,200. (I actually used about 1,000 yards). The ball is about the size of a ball of pearl cotton. It was a treat to encounter these yarns in person, but what I actually bought was a skein of tweedy mystery yarn which I am pretty sure is superwash wool in a DK weight about 50 grams - enough I think for mitts or ankle socks for 1.00, and two skeins of discontinued Wool Ease (green and a green/brown variagated) for 2.00 each and a magazine. I had a nice chat with the shop ladies and left well pleased with my visit.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Night in the Big Town

This is probably the last evening this week when the weather will be nice, so Shana and I took The Amazing Roxanne for a walk by the lake. We're just a mile from Lake Overholser, so we get to enjoy it anytime we like. This lake is a resevoir for our drinking water. There is boating and fishing, but no swimming allowed. Along the east side of the lake there is a multi-use path, very popular with walkers, and a road circles the lake. It's a really nice place for cycling, as there in often a cool breeze off the lake, lots of nice things to look at, and not a lot of car traffic. On the west side there is a very nice new playground. There is a separate channel on the east side of the lake which is popular with rowing teams, kayakers, and fishermen. The dam is on the south side of the lake, and below the dam seems to be a good fishing spot. Certainly it's a good fishing spot for birds. I often see herons looking for a good meal, and lots of turtles.
I was hoping to see some nice birds today, but didn't see much. I've seen blue herons, egrets, mallards, teal ducks, kingfishers , red wing blackbirds, and quite a few migrating birds around the lake. I have seen Canada Geese, but surprisingly few, considering that there are a lot of them who stay in the state year-round. I saw a raccoon one day, and on the other side of the lake there are a couple of pastures where there are horses, llamas, and sheep.

Please note that today I got a hair cut. The peculiar appearance of my hair was caused by my hairdresser's mania. He has every second double booked, and was in such a tearing hurry today that he really only had time to make my hair stand on end before shuffling me out and the next head in. He washed my hair while the previous client was baking her highlights under the dryer, started cutting mine, stopped long enough to rescue the other client, wash her hair and send her on her way, then finished my cut. This was all happening in a room that is about 8x10. The cut is good, but styling is not his best skill, especially when he is trying to do two heads at the same time and catch up on all his scheduling problems on my head while talking a mile a minute. He just wears me out - but gives a really good cut!

The rest of the weekend promises to be quiet and busy in a domestic sort of way. I'm going to start a gift afghan, maybe finish the purple socks that are going to Alaska, and get rolling on the blue ribbed ones. I'll probably try to get a pattern repeat done on the Kimono Shawl Sunday evening after Rita goes home, and maybe cast on for another pair of socks. The blue ribbed sock will probably stay at the office during the week and be my lunchtime socks, so what I will probably start will be something a little more complicated. I have some tweedy yarn that might look really nice with cables down the side...We'll see.

Today we got the news that Shana's mom will have heart surgery next week, so we'll be trying to get things Shana needs to do here at home and at work out of the way. We don't know yet exactly when the surgery will be, or when her mom will want her to come. Today she was thinking that Shana would be the most help after surgery, to get her through the first week or so at home. We'll just have to give her a little time to think about what she would like and plan accordingly. She's really been struggling with her health this year, so we are all very concerned. At least she's been admitted to the hospital and will stay there until the surgery, so she will be well cared for in the meantime.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday with Ellen

The work week is nearly over and it looks like I'll live to tell the tale.

Crafty goodness in progress includes purple striped Sockotta socks which will be taking off for Alaska to warm up some cold toes as soon as they are finished, and ribbed blue and white Simple Stripes. The blue socks were my campfire knitting last weekend. I'm going to teach one of my camping/biking friends to knit as soon as we both have a bit of time available. Then I won't be the only one passing the time with my pointy sticks. She's thinking Christmas scarves, which will be great fun.

Last weekend we camped again at the Wichita Wildlife Refuge. I went down Friday night, and Shana joined us Saturday morning. I took a bike, and had time to go for a ride before anyone else got to the campsite. Friday night was cold, but Saturday was perfect. We had a combination of hiking, biking, and fishing planned, but somehow on the way to get fishing licenses we got sidetracked and visited a couple of the local towns. Medicine Park was having an arts festival, so we drove over to take a look. The town is very cute, with a local cobblestone building style that is unique. Medicine Park was a spa in days gone by, and reportedly a hideout of Bonnie and Clyde. Wikipedia has a nice article about the town HERE . Also, here's a picture I saw at several different sites. This style of cottage is still very much in evidence there, many converted into rental cottages of B&B's.

The arts festival consisted of two prints and one pot - an exaggeration, but not by much. There was an iron worker whose wares one of our party had admired at other events, and took advantage of the occasion to buy a piece or two. There was a beer stand, where we each got a can of beer. The little park along the river said "no alcohol", so we sat down on the wall outside the park to enjoy the view and the beer. The local police came to shoo us along (not too nicely). By the time we walked back across the street to the beer stand where one was allowed to imbibe, another cruiser had come along to be sure no reinforcements would be needed to handle 4 women with 3 cans of 3.2% beer. The food stand was offering the odd selection of ribs and chop suey - and not very friendly at that. We drove down the road to Meers for a burger.

Meers, Oklahoma is the home of the Meers Store and Restaurant . They serve delicious longhorn burgers, home made pie, and also host the Meers Geological Observatory. The Meers fault is thought to be capable of producing a 7 point earthquake in the future, although the last movement was quite a long time ago. If you click on the link to the Meers Store and Restaurant you'll see a very nice article about the seismograph and the fault. Meers also provided us with an evenings entertainment in the form of saying MEEEEERS - sounds like a cat meow! Meers also host a bicycle tour called Tour De Meers in the spring - one I am unlikely to try because it is intensely hilly and would probably kill me dead. I dare not dwell on it for fear I'll be tempted...

We went back to the campsite to cook steaks and tell jokes. The campfire gathering broke up about 10:30 pm, which was not a moment too soon. It started to sprinkle, then it started to pour, and then it poured down rain all night and most of the next day. Some of us went into Cache for breakfast, others were put off by my description of our destination as "The Nasty Diner". It is, but the food was very good. It shares a building with a junk store that boggles the mind by its sheer lack of organization. You might find a loaf of bread or a fishing pole or a bucket of old golf balls just anywhere. We dawdled along in there, in no hurry to head back to camp because it's not so much fun to break camp in the mud and the rain. I still need to set my tent up in the driveway to wash the mud off.

Tomorrow is Blood Drive day at work - I'll find out whether my efforts have resulted in lowered cholesterol. Also haircut day for me - and not a moment too soon!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Day in the Life

On the way home from my gym tonight I thought it might be fun to show some of the features of my drive home. I go this way almost every day. It's usually the fastest route, and there is almost always something interesting to see. Today it was almost sundown, so the light is not great. Summer is over and the time of driving back and forth to work in the dark is nearly here.

The highway shot demonstrates why I don't like driving anywhere else. Our traffic here is not crazy 24-7 like it is a lot of other places. This level of traffic is what I usually experience. I am at work before rush hour, and leave after rush hour. As an additional benefit, I am always going the opposite way from the bulk of the traffic. I do run into the odd traffic jam. but I am lucky enough to be able to say it's rare.

As you can see from the 7-11 sign, gasoline prices have come down. Do you wonder why? Why, it's an increase in exports from the Saudis and a release of oil from the Strategic Reserve, something that the shortages after Katrina were not enough to effect. November 7 is a looming emergency of unprecedented importance. Be sure to fill up your tank on the way home from the polls, 'cause this is an artificial low.

Next we have the restaurant I always call "Gas Station Chinese" . I think it was probably a hamburger drive-in style restaurant when it was built, but it's been a Chinese take out for years and years - at least 12 that I know of. There is a reason why it's been able to stay in business so long. The food is good, cooked to order, and fabulously cheap. It's one of Alex's favorites - he loves a good bargain. It's obviously family owned, and the family works it themselves. One of the ladies does not speak great English - she sounds like Margaret Cho's impression of her mother. Also. she does NOT like special requests. Especially "No Onions". She'll say "No Onions" after you about 4 times at increasing volume before she turns your order in. Of course one reason why we like to visit the Gas Station Chinese is that it is locally owned and all profits stay in the community.

The Old Orchard has been featured here before. Like the Gas Station Chinese it is locally owned and the food is plentiful and cheap. I think it must be an OK place to work because they don't seem to have a big turnover in waitresses. They do a Land Office business early in the morning, a good lunch, and an OK dinner. They feature a good burger and a very respectable pot roast. There has been some remodeling this year - the city passed a smoking ban unless the business has a separately vented room. When that passed they were closed for several days to paint, change out all of the ceiling tiles, and wash everything down. Used to be the main room would choke you to death. They are continuing the improvements with some new tabletops which should be installed in a few weeks. When Jennifer is in town she meets up with us for breakfast.

This is our house from the back, as I see it when I come home. I'm always glad to see it, and the end of my busy day. When I pull in Roxy is usually at the kitchen window barking. By the time I get out of the car she is already at the front door jumping up and down. As you can see, I am too lazy to pull my trash bins into the back yard.

This is my car. It's pretty basic, but exactly what I need right now. The gas mileage is good, and although the car is small it can carry a bicycle in the trunk because the back seat lays forward and extends the trunk. We'll find out this week if I can put a bike rack on the outside, because I am taking it down to the campgrounds myself on Friday. I'll have to take most of the gear, as Shana is not coming down until Saturday morning. If I want to have a bike there on Friday it will have to go on the outside. Alex borrows my car if he drives to Tulsa - and it looks like a clown car when all the boys unfold themselves to get out.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Another Lazy Sunday

This has been a lazy weekend so far, and that's a good thing. Rita and I took the dogs to the dog park to enjoy the perfect weather, scoring the bench in the shade right away - a rare treat. Skippy seems to really enjoy seeing other dogs. He was particularly attracted to a Golden Retriever who looked at lot like his old buddy that died last year.

Socky goodness is continuing apace. The pink and purple units are still living at the office during the week, so they get only a few minutes per day of progress. The (beautifully matched!) green and yellow ones are the ones I started for our camping trip last week. They are plain stockinette, so they go really fast. One of our camping buddies was so fascinated by them and was so inspired by sock lust that I'm going to give them to her as a surprise. I know they will be going to a loving home.

This is a picture of my favorite dog walking street, proof that I do not always walk the dog under cover of darkness. Now that fall is upon us I only see daylight for our morning walk on the weekend. This is a nice walk, with a couple of horse pastures on the way, and the sound of a rooster about halfway down the street. It's almost a little escape from the city, and just a step around the corner from the house. Roxy especially enjoys it because there is always something exciting to smell - lots of skunks and raccoons pass through, and other dogs visit frequently. Today we got a particular treat - a

tree full of buzzards! I know - now that I see it for myself it does look odd to have "buzzards" and "treat" in the same sentence! There is a dead tree in one of the open lots where I often see a hawk or some of the local gang of crows. This morning I could hear the crows raising a ruckus, and when I looked up there was a bunch of buzzards hanging out in the dead tree. It's hard to tell from this picture, but there were about ten of them. I often see them flying (or circling!) but almost never perched anywhere, so this was a nice surprise for me. Of course trying to get close enough to get a recognizable picture of them I got poor Roxy's feet all full of stickers and had to carry her out. The stickers are bad this year because of the drought - they tolerate the dry weather well and nothing else was doing well enough to choke them out.

Here is proof that I have not (yet )pinched the face off the dog. I'm trying to get her confidence by taking pictures of her in daylight. She's so afraid of lightning that the flash scares her. Whenever she sees the camera she runs away.

Rita is here this weekend, and we'll be baking cookies later to try to fatten Larry up. For now she's hanging out with me eating a bowl of oatmeal while I update the blog, add a monkey to the Etsy Shop, and read the New York Times online. Later we'll have company for dinner - tonight it will be an east Indian dish accompanied by a lemon pie. Yummy!