Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas from Cookieland

The holiday cookie trays are finally finished. It's a statement on my general state of preparation this year that I am only this morning putting them together. I just finished the baking portion of the exercise yesterday afternoon, something which would ordinarily have been done by last week. They'll all be wrapped up in cellophane and ribbons in a few minutes and ready to go to their new homes tomorrow. To the curious, the contents are: Aunt Bill's Brown Candy, Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti, Haystacks, Date Pinwheels, Paula Deen's Chocolate Cherry Chunkies, Brown Irish Soda Bread, Mexican Wedding Cookies, and Sugar Cookies, filled out with a bakery cookie of unnatural color and a handful of chocolate kisses. For brunch tomorrow what was meant to be a harmless cranberry orange bundt cake is assuming the unfortunate form of a turkey, thanks to the gift of a turkey shaped bundt pan. If that turns out to be recognizable (or not) I'll post a picture. I have a feeling that the intricate shape of the pan will be ill served by whole cranberries. If it turns out hideous it will be a good joke.

Miss Vivian is back home after a couple of nights with us. It went quite well, partly due to the timely acquisition of a portacrib. She's learning so fast - the difference between Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon in terms of seated balance and crawling was quite apparent. Roxy's Dog Auntie behaviour improved to the point of showing Vivian her belly. Although she's not yet reliable around the baby she seems to be learning her place in the pecking order. I have laods of pictures of Vivian to load up to my Flickr gallery, but that probably won't happen until tomorrow night at the soonest. I've got a million things to finish up today. Merry Christmas and a Happy (Belated) Yule to all!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Guess Who Came to Dinner - and Breakfast

Miss Vivian came to visit with us this weekend. I picked her up Friday afternoon and she'll be here until Sunday. She's starting to crawl now and she's all hands. Right now she's trying to poke the eyes out of a very nice vintage Effanbee Butterball baby doll. A minute ago she got her hands on my keyboard and caused all kinds of mayhem. Lucky for me her crawling skills are as yet rudimentary, so she can't yet get into everything that attracts her attention. She really wants to get her hands on Roxy. This would not be a great idea.
We went out to breakfast this morning with Shelley and got back just in the nick of time. When we left home we had a light rain, southerly wind and temperatures were probably in the 50's. By the time we got home the wind had swung around to the north and the rain was changing to snow and it was much colder. Shana took Roxy out for a walk and even Roxy was ready to come back by the time they got to the corner. Right now we are happy to be indoors.
My holiday baking is done - one more candy item to make and then I can put the trays together tomorrow afternoon. Everything so far tastes great. I am planning to have it all out of here by Christmas afternoon! Last minute knitting should hit the wash tomorrow afternoon as well. Then Vivian will be going home and I will lounge around in splendid idleness. Ho Ho Ho!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

When Barbie Marries Charlie Brown

They are going to have a tree just like mine! Having really gotten behind the eight ball on holiday decorating, Shana thought we should go for something fun, and suggested we get a "Charlie Brown tree" instead of trying to get a big tree up and decorated only to take it down in a few days. . She'd been in and out of Michael's about 47 times in the last week and had noticed this sweet little pink tinsel tree with pink lights in the window. I'd been lobbying for a 60's style aluminum, but this one is even better. When Shana suggested that what we really needed was the pink tree I jumped right on it. I went for full Barbie with white pearl balls and silver & "crystal" bead garlands. It's the most fun tree I have ever had. In fact, it's the most excited I've been about a Christmas tree in years and years. We've always gone for the traditional green tree, in various incarnations, from fake to real and from huge to tiny. Even though Shana and I between us have a great selection of ornaments we've collected over the years, in recent years setting up the tree has seemed like drudgery. Taking it down has been exponentially worse. This one is all fun and no work.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Down the Christmas Home Stretch

My Christmas projects are (almost ) all well underway. I think I will be casting on for one more quickie knitted project and making up some beaded earrings, but all other deadline holiday items are either well underway or completed. This is not to say that they will all be easily completed in plenty of time, alas. I think everything that must be shipped next week is ready to go except for the wrapping.
Miss Vivian's sock monkey is ready to go, and I do hope she likes it as much as I do. I kept it pretty simple, with no buttons or clothing so it would be baby safe and easy to take care of.

The office exchange gift is more than half done, after experiencing a complete change of item. I had an afghan in mind which I thought would not only be a nice gift, but also would use up the last of my remaining stash of afghan acrylic. I was thinking zigzag with the various shades of black, grey, and red I had on hand. Sadly, the initial incarnation was proving to be bulletproof. Subsequent evaluation made me decide that even at a larger gauge, or maybe especially at a larger gauge, it was just too ugly to live. The color combo will work out for someone a bit more Goth than my office mates, so maybe after the holidays it will be reincarnated as a Goth afghan. Instead I am knitting a simple seed stitch scarf with a slip stitch edge with the Wool blend Moda-Dea yarn Tweedle Dee on special from Michael's that will fit under the $10.00 spending cap while being soft and pretty. The yarn is a 16% wool, and a little underspun, with tweedy bits and some gradual color shifts. I knit the first half from the outside of the skein and the second from the center, so the color shifts should be symmetrically arranged on the scarf. Two skeins will make a generous scarf on size US 15's. It will need to be done blocked and dry by Wednesday night, so the race is on. I seldon knit with such large needles these days, so I have found it a little awkward.

I started on the baking portion of the season yesterday morning, and got about half of my selection finished. This year I have access to a freezer, so the items are going in there as they are finished. I have the ingredients for all of the rest, which I plan to finish over the course of the week. I still need plates and chocolate kisses to make up the gift trays, and I think an impending trip to the local Target should settle that.

We are lucky enough to have full power at home except for one day, but at the office all this week we were down, and we are still down today. The generator produced power enough to run our computers and phones, but with few lights and no heat it has not been that much fun. I've been at work every day, but I don't feel like I was as productive as usual.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why Does all of Oklahoma's Weather Look Like Tornados?

Just a quickie today, and mostly just to post this picture.

These are/were two largish oaks of significant age (this kind is a slow grower). The recent ice storm has just about destroyed them. No matter what the weather here, everything looks like tornado.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Would You Like Ice with That?

Well no, but frankly "no ice please" is not an available choice this week. We're nearing the end of a second day of freezing rain (about halfway through this storm), and our exciting Oklahoma weather has made the national news again. One third of the state has no power at the moment, with the estimated time of power being restored as much as a week out for a lot of people. We've got power for the moment, and friends who are less fortunate staying with us. The roads range between unsatisfactory and awful, and the trees are falling all around us. Outside of the major highways, anywhere the roads are not quite horrid the curbside lane is likely to be blocked by a fallen tree or low hanging or broken branches.

This little tree is in my neighbor's front yard. I took the picture this morning. By the time I got home this afternoon nearly all of the branches had broken off at the trunk. Part of the problem with tree damage is the type of landscape plants chosen. While this scale of ice storm like this is extreme, significant storms are not unheard of. Some trees fare better than others in these circumstances. Most of the ones that do poorly are not native to this climate. Many have earned their popularity by being fast growing (flimsy), or having a rounded growth habit ( with weak crotches which break under ice). Of course with a storm like this even the toughest of native trees suffers damage.

At my office we had a lot of Bradford Pear trees. While beautiful, they are not especially long lived, as the branches become prone to splitting and the branching angle makes them vulnerable to splitting. These were nice small trees eleven years ago when I came to this job. Most of them are not going to make it. Oddly enough, although less than half of the office made it to work today, several people thought that it might be a good idea to park under these trees! You have to wonder what people are thinking. Fortunately they moved the cars after lunch when the rain continued to fall. I hate to see the trees damaged like this, and I hope we replace them with something a little more suitable.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


See how truly clever I can be - I've chosen one of the best crossword/scrabble words ever for a blog entry title. A sign of the purest desperation, or maybe I am just too easily amused. I do have a few oddments to blog about, though, and no useful way of tying them together. Pictures for this entry will also be oddly assorted, but too bad!

First up, a You Tube clip, concerning the natural state of men in winter. If you don't fall over dead from laughter you have never met a man.

Samantha has been here since Thursday night. Friday morning she had her wisdom teeth extracted. She's actually doing quite well. She arranged for the procedure herself, including scheduling the procedure, checking her insurance coverage, and arranging for me to be able to care for her afterward. This is a big deal because it demonstrated to me that she is growing up and beginning to take responsibility for herself. One thing she did not have control over has given us a little trouble. She was referred to OMA for her extractions. *here begins the rant* My first clue that it was going to be all about money was the sumptuous decor of the waiting room. It was also crammed full of people waiting for their surgeries. The traditional forms that needed to be filled out were presented, in a telling order. Financial Responsibility first, at great length, in great detail. I did not give them my cell number. Then the medical form. Samantha took the forms to the desk and the excitement began. Sam called me up to the desk, where the receptionist asked me for $595 (!) on the spot. Uh, no. I pointed out that since this was a surprise to me I did not come prepared to pay such a sum at that time. The reception bot told me I had received an email detailing this charge. I pointed out that they did not have my email address until this very moment. She called out a person of indeterminate responsibility to confirm that this was in fact the correct amount, who proceeded to tell me I received an email at least a week ago with this info. I reiterated that I have received no such email, and while I did not on principal object to paying, I was not prepared to pay at this time. She called out to someone in the back to produce the incriminating email, which never appeared, and was never mentioned again. They allowed as how I could pay half of it on the spot and the rest would be billed. I put it on a card and things proceeded. Sam was finished soon, and while receiving her post procedure instructions I was offered an option of receiving her prescriptions right there, without the trouble of a separate stop, for $30 they would not file with my insurance for these meds. I asked what medicines these would be, and was told amoxyc***** and lor***. Being familiar with both of these, and knowing them both to be fabulously cheap, I told her thanks, but I was pretty sure I could get them filled for half of that price and would just take them with me. Turns out that for BOTH prescriptions, with my insurance, my cost was $8.00. Apparently there is no part of our medical system too small or mean to turn to a profit on. I think that this may be the central issue of health care today. It's all business, and we are the cash cows. Rant over.

The orange Trekking socks are finished. This weekend I am at home either taking care of Sam or hiding from bad weather, so I have great hopes of getting Vivian's sock monkey done, along with another small project (or two!). From an impossible load my Christmas crafting is beginning to slip into the manageable chaos range. Of course this also means that it will not be long before I am ready to cast on for a project for me me me!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I'm nearly finished with the Korknisser I'm making for my office mates. I had just enough corks, and just enough patience to get them all done. I've got only two more to go, and maybe a little touch up on their faces and they are ready to go. All they need is a little candy to set them off. I considered putting little hangers on them, but really they are so much cuter without. I'll let the recipients hang them up if they wish.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Before the Event

Today we are getting ready to host a party for the Big Twelve Championship. Oklahoma University will play Missouri in San Antonio tonight. We'll be hanging out at the house with the girls yelling for our team and eating good food. I believe Kimberly will be making Chili, and delicious surprises will be arriving. I have made up a tiramisu for desert. Somehow I never seem to be able to locate the same tiramisu recipe twice, but all the ones I have tried have been good, so I'm not worried. Of course all will taste so much better if our team plays well and wins.

I have been able to squeeze in a little knitting this week. The orange Trekking socks are almost through the gusset, and I have another repeat done on the pink monkey socks. I have a little doubt about the gusset pickups, but I don't really know if one side of the second sock looks a little holey, or if I just want an excuse to keep them out of the possible gift pile. Once they are washed I'll be better able to judge. Other large swathes of knitting time have been taken up with fantasizing over various choices for the yarn I picked up in Boston. Yarn was stroked and fingered, yardages and gauges compared, possibilities chosen and discarded. I think I've got the final choices: Muir for the shawl and Helleborus for the scarf. I'm mighty tempted to cast on for either or both immediately, but I must first review my holiday projects like a good, responsible knitter. Time is slipping away for gift knitting, and I think it's probably too late for anything not already under way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back From Boston

This year I was lucky enough to spend the Thanksgiving weekend in Boston. Shana and I flew into Boston and took the bus out to Falmouth to visit her mom for a few days. We arrived early enough to go for a walk around the neighborhood and down to the shore. I find the salt air relaxing and the sound of the sea so inviting, even when the weather is cool. As always, dinner was good and the conversation better. Shana's stepsister Lisa was there for the holiday with her teenagers. It was fun to be able to visit with everyone.

The Dobberteen's house is a very pretty and cozy Cape cottage with some strategic additions on a beautiful lot. Maybe my favorite thing is the view from my bathroom window. Shana and I almost always have the back bedroom where the bedroom and bathroom both have a beautiful view of Bourne's Pond. Craning your neck only a little will give you a peek at Martha's Vineyard across the water. The blue and white bedroom is so pretty and the area so quiet; I always feel rested and pampered there. I only wished we could have come just a little earlier in the year to see the fall colors and Inace's beautiful gardens.

Friday we slept in a bit, then Shana and I went for a visit to downtown Falmouth, complete with a visit to the local tea shop and a tiny yarn crawl at Sage. As usual they had a beautiful selection of gifts and yarn. The big news is that they will soon have an online shopping cart. We drove home just in time to have a little walk on the beach (where apparently only live parking is allowed) before it got too dark. Shana dropped her phone on the beach but fortunately it was easily found because it was getting so cold we only stayed out there for a minute. After dinner we all had a go at "Scene It"; a fun movie themed game that sadly revealed the gaps between generations. Saturday morning we went back into Falmouth with Shana's mom for a bit of shopping and a delicious lunch. I feasted on scallops. Later in the day we caught the bus into Boston.

Saturday night we had dinner at Giacomo's: pumpkin tortellini for Shana and lobster ravioli for me. We followed it with coffee and a pastry down the street a bit, then a bit of a walk around Quincy Market.

Sunday it was brunch at Stephanie's on Newbury (another delicious meal) and a little shopping at Lush and Newbury Yarns. Shana waited out on the street while I poked around in Lush because the melange of scents there gives her allergies a workout, but she came into Newbury yarns to help me pick out a few special skeins. We picked out a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Silken Mohair for a scarf, a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Cascade Lace for a shawl, and a skein of J Knits sock yarn. With the Austerman Step and the Classic Elite alpaca sock yarn (for itchless gloves for Shana) I picked up in Falmouth I have some pretty things to play with. Fortunately we were traveling with very little baggage, so we had the motivation to keep our shopping under control.

Sunday afternoon we went to the Museum of Fine Arts to gorge ourselves on art. There were several interesting exhibits that we had to go back to for a second look, and even more we just could not get to because our heads were full to bursting. Of particular interest to me were a couple of ceramics by Sergei Isupov that were just haunting in their beauty and complexity.

Sunday evening we met Lisa in Chinatown for dinner - scallops again for me! By Monday morning I was ready to live on bread an water for the rest of my life and it was time to go home. I was disappointed when I get settled in at home to find that most of my pictures were pretty awful. Luckily it won't be my last trip to Boston.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

At the Doggie Cocktail Party

We are in the last few days of a warm spell, with cold weather just around the corner. I thought it would be the perfect day to go to the dog park. Skippy was visiting us with Rita this weekend, so we put the two dogs in the car to visit what looks like a cocktail party for dogs. There was a lot of smelling, with some chasing and running away thrown in for variety. Skippy like to hang out near the entrance to greet new arrivals, while Roxy's main form of entertainment seems to be just wandering freely around without a leash. Every once in a while one or both of the dogs would come over and hang out near our bench for a little while before going back out to make the most of the park. I am always so glad that neither of them seems to want to go swimming. It doesn't entirely save me from muddy paw prints, because invariably a muddy dog does come up to visit me, but at least I don't have to put a mud ball into the car.

I frogged the Pomotamus sock after all, and cast on for another pair of Monkey Socks. This was a much better choice. Instead of the incessant counting and ripping back I am ticking right along with what will probably be a very cute pair of socks in a mostly pink and blue Cherry Tree Hill yarn. The yarn is, as always, much prettier in person than it appears here. I will try the Big P again, but not right away. It's a beautiful pattern, but I just don't have the concentration to get through the first repeat right now.

I've also got another sock on the needles. This one will be an orange Trekking XXL in an eyelet rib pattern. It's a good combination of pattern and yarn, and will make a nice looking sock, but the big news (see how starved I am for big news) is that I am making them by the Magic Loop method. Curiosity got the better of me, and I'm making this sock on a US #1 addi with a 47" cable. It's a simple stitch pattern, but even so I think that Magic Loop may be a little faster that my trusty DPN's. It's not really speed that leads me to try it, though. I am thinking about this week's airport knitting and how aggravating it is to lose a DPN in the middle of a trip. I broke down and bought the booklet, although on the first read through it did not make as much sense as I had hoped. Once underway it has proved to be fairly easy and intuitive. When I get to the gusset that will be the test of how easy it truly is. The pictures of this part of the process in the booklet are a little ambiguous. I'm hoping my firm grasp of the principle of the gusset will see me through. I'm part way down the heel already on a sock I started yesterday morning, which is what makes me think it's pretty quick. Instead of switching needles around 4 times per round I need only switch needles around twice. Of course the fact that these are the legendary Addi Turbo needles (insert speedy sound of your choice here) probably makes a little difference too. I thought that I might have more of a problem with ladders this way than my usual, but except for some struggling with the first two rows which will be tightened up when I weave in the ends, it does not look like there is any problem at all.

Here is a gratuitous baby picture, then it's back to the "salt mines" for me. Shana and I are the fortunate recipients of a house blessing to be performed on Tuesday evening. I'm happy to have it, but I don't want to think that Pastor Sharon will be exposed to the sketchier aspects of my housekeeping. So it's time to get the dusting done. One benefit will be that when we get back from Boston the house will be tidy and we can relax for a minute before swinging into the holiday frenzy.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oiled Birds

No, not a dish I am planning for Sunday Luncheon . I was just visiting another blog whose author has been working on the birds damaged by the recent oil spill in California. Go look here, her pictures and descriptions of how this is done are amazing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wednesday Lunch Date

OMG - midweek post! Don't get too used to it. I was lucky enough to have company for lunch today. Samantha was planning to meet me for lunch and by a lucky chance Vivian had been spending the night with her, so she brought Miss V along to join me for lunch. It's just the most convenient thing ever to have a cafeteria on site so that when Sam comes for lunch I don't need to spend part of my lunch driving to-and-from. Sam had the chili, which looked good, but I had a sore throat (allergy) and had a yogurt parfait which I shared a bit of with Miss V. Samantha would not let me take her picture today, so it's just us two.

This week we started wearing our new ID badges at work. Since the company has grown so much we can't count on recognizing everyone on sight anymore. The badges were passed out with black cord lanyards, but of course I decided to do something different. I picked up a packet of beads and with the addition of some odds and ends I had at home I made myself a somewhat cuter and certainly more festive unit. I may make up a few more for a change of pace or to gift out. It will take my mind off the way the Pomotamus socks are kicking my butt. I'm sure in a few rows I'll be in the rhythm, but at present I keep getting off my count. How pitiful.
Tomorrow is "snakie day" at the office. Of course it's "snack day", but we call it snakie after a memorable typo in an announcement of the event a few years ago. I'm making cinnamon rolls tonight so I can set them to rise overnight and bring them in hot and fragrant. While I'm at it I'll make a pan for Shana to take to her office too.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Today Shana and I hosted the second Shoun Sunday Dinner with an attendance of 10 1/2, April Rose Shoun was the 1/2. She proved to be a very good little guest. Roxy was inspired by her to act like the wild beast she is. On the menu today was pot roast with pearl onions and carrots served over egg noodles, spinach gratinee, stuffed tomatoes, and home made rolls. Nancy was in charge of desert and brought a spectacularly beautiful and tasty German chocolate cake. I made her leave a slab of it for my supper!

I think everyone had a good time. The food was delicious and good looking, which it should have been because when a dinner party is in the offing Shana is obsessed with having the perfect menu. We go through two or three complete menus with major shuffling of components before the final choice is made. Of course we had a few bumpy bits. Funnily enough both involved my rolls. First I ran short of flour and had to run up to the corner halfway through mixing my dough. Then I forgot that we had only one baking sheet to fit our oven. When we moved we had three good ones, but they proved to be to big for our ovens and we gave them to Nancy. We had only purchased one new one of suitable dimensions, and that one was full of stuffed tomatoes waiting to go into the oven. Again I ran to the corner to get two more baking sheets. True to the usual performance of my butterhorns, because they were needed at a particular time the first rise was a bomb. Luckily I have learned to to put too much stock in how the first rise looks because they are rising on only one packet of yeast and can be slow to get going. In the end they were perfect.

I've got a Pomatomus sock on the needles, but since I only have about 3/4" done and isn't even past the ribbing I think I'll wait until it gets a little bigger to show it off. I started an afghan for an office gift exchange and worked on it for a few hours, but I think I am going to have to tear it out and start over because at this stage it has some serious problems. It's smaller than I would like. 'way smaller. I could go along with it being a lap sized afghan and give it a beautiful fringe if it didn't have this other teeny little problem. It's worsted weight yarn on a size H hook. Because it's a single crochet ripple stitch if has a bit too much body. It will stand by itself, walk around, and stop bullets. I crocheted on for several hours in denial, but I must face the truth. It is evil and must be destroyed.

Due to an impending motherboard crash we replaced our computer this week. The old one has making so much noise that two rooms away it could keep you awake. It was giving us new and fascinating error messages that I have never seen before, and making up ever more slanderous lies about our (admittedly difficult and scurrilous) printer. When I turned on the new box I didn't think it was on because I could not hear it running! That's the upside, along with the larger amount of RAM we have on this unit. The down-ish side is that it's running on Vista, which is completely different from what I am used to. I don't find it very intuitive, but what I hear from the techs is that it will "learn" my preferences as I use it and will not seem as clumsy once I've sued it for a while. I know we will both be proficient soon, but at present it kind of makes me itch. Outlook has been replaced with a different kind of email account setup, which was not quite intuitive. I ended up with both of our emails loaded up into one account. I did not try to transfer any of my pictures or Ipod files to the new box, so I will have to set some things up again, along with our favorites and bookmarks. I had already put most of my pictures up on Flickr, so I wasn't too worried about those. It's taking a fair amount of time to get things set up the way we like them again. This tinkering with the setups has really cut into my free time.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

WAACO Gothic

Last Sunday Shana, Aunt Rita and I joined some of the the WAACO's for a breakfast at Madison's Pancake House and some yard slave adventures. When Kim said she'd like some help tilling up a bed and planting a few shrubs I thought she meant to renovate an existing bed. Turns out I was hopelessly optimistic. We all got together to make a new bed across the front of her house after digging out an established stand of Bermuda grass. It was a big job, to say the least. However, it is true that many hands make light work, and with all of us digging in we were not only able to get the job done but also had a fun time of it. I think on the whole we did as much laughing as working. The weather was just perfect and an afternoon outdoors with friends is always a good time no matter what we are doing. One reward for coming out to garden was that I got a chance to operate a rototiller. Kim and Susi had a brand new unit for the occasion - a nice little one suitable for the home gardener and not too heavy. I had never had occasion to do this before, so I was eager to try it out. I thought it was a lot of fun to do, and also to watch. There is something about the soil pouring down that is just mesmerizing. Turns out that it is also quite strenuous. We all took turns using it, so although we were all probably a little sore the next day, none of us actually ended up "down in the back". Susi generously loaned us all gardening gloves from her large selection, so we were well protected. When the edging was on and the shrubs planted and mulched it really looked nice, and made a nice addition to what was already a very cute house.

The rest of this week has been very quiet, and a good thing, although it makes boring reading. Madly creative ideas are bubbling away in the back of my mind, but none are coming forward to take form yet. The warm weather has been holding on, so it doesn't feel like the season is really changing and I feel a little stuck. With Standard Time returning tonight and the cool weather coming Monday I think I'll get the little push I need to get rolling. This weekend I'm planning to get a few projects started and get my sketch pad out on my desk to capture any creative spark that floats by. I've got everything else set up at my desk to inspire, with my materials at hand and lots of postcards, books, and toys to get me thinking. It might be that what I really need to do is just set a little time aside every day to draw and play at my desk.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Things That May or May not Go Bump in the Night

Halloween is coming and scary things abound in the world. The Neel Vet Clinic is having a trick-or-treat party for dogs tonight. Roxy and Skippy are going. Roxy is going as a ghost. Skippy was planning to go as a bunny, but at the last minute decided on something a little more obscure. He will be attending as "Christmas Dog". This should be interesting indeed. Shelley is also being escorted by a canine companion whose costume is yet to be announced.

I had an overnight guest Friday night. Alex was having a Halloween party at his place, and Miss Vivian came to spend the night where it was calm and quiet. Friday night she was a bit of a fusspot, but Saturday morning she made up for any ill humor the night before. What a cutie! She's not crawling yet, although she's making attempts at the classic Marine low-crawl. She makes up for that by rolling around wherever she wants to go. She can just about sit up without support, but has moved on to standing as the preferred posture. There is no point in sitting or lounging when there is someone around to hold you up on your feet or stand you up next to a handy support. Roxy once again showed herself to be but a poor dog auntie. She's not altogether sure whether Vivian should be classified as prey item, competition, or food source. None of these choices are appropriate. The Evil Wild Dog of the Prairie had to stay on a lead during Vivian's visit.

I've added a couple of items to the finished object list. The Jigsaw Socks are complete, and one Marsan Watchcap has joined the list. The socks are good looking. Oddly, while I made no attempt whatever to line up the striping because I though the pattern would obscure it, the striping seems to have lined itself up. The cap, while very attractive in person, is less than interesting in a photo. I've got a photo or two in my Flickr gallery which is hideously overexposed but shows the stitch definition beautifully. Sadly, it looks like an alien hat floating ominously in space under its own power.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

An Idle Weekend

Last Sunday Shana and I hosted a dinner for some of her aunts and uncles. Over the last few years as they get older and some of them are experiencing poor health they have all been trying to connect a bit more often and it seemed like a good idea to get some of them together for a brunch at our house. Shana selected a menu with several of her grandmother's recipes and eight of us sat down to an old-fashioned Sunday dinner of ham, cheese grits and fried cabbage with conversation. Turns out it was such a good idea we may be doing it once a month. Next week we may have a dozen for pot roast. Fortunately they entertain themselves and have pretty straightforward taste in food.

This weekend Shana and I have dropped out of social activity for a minute. No football party, no family dinner, no Meet-up-at-Starbucks, camping trip, cycling event, spinning class, potluck. Nothing. Beautiful, relaxing nothing. Shana actually has a couple of work related events: a seminar and a softball game. All time not required for those events we are spending hanging out together and resting up. We may cruise over to Home Depot for some barbecue supplies and a peek at their pots (my tropicals are going to have to come inside really soon). I've been able to set aside some quality knitting old movie and napping time. Monday should find me rested and restored, with a better idea of what the coming weeks will mean in terms of holiday crafting.

I've put in a few more inches of the Big Bad Baby Blanket. It is probably about a third done. I've pushed it back a bit because it's a little hard on my wrists and will not be needed until after the first of the year anyway. I'm picking it up for a row or two a day, but no more than that. I'm well past the gusset of the second Jigsaw sock, still no more than half of the inside of a pocket of the cabled stole. Lots of knitting, no finished objects. Yesterday I added the Marsan Watch Cap to the works in progress. Like most caps, it's a quick knit and I'm really liking it. In black chunky Wool-Ease it's moving right along, and the twisted ribbing looks great. Shana says it's a good-looking hat. I should be into the decreases today, and may be finished tonight all things being equal. The challenge is going to be to get a good picture that won't turn this good-looking hat into a mysterious featureless black blob.
I should be back next week with more pictures, etc., but for now I am enjoying my weekend as the Laziest Woman on Earth. Peace On.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Lunch Fun

Since today is Friday (yay!) I took the opportunity to enjoy a part of my free afternoon visiting with Vivian. Alex happened to be off work today, so Vivian, Alex, Jamie and I went out for lunch. As usual, I was arriving during Vivian's naptime. Jamie bundled her sleeping body into the car seat and away we went to a local sandwich shop. We ordered our sandwiches and settled in to eat, occasionally taking flash pictures of Vivian sound asleep. Serves us right, not one of them came out. I was using Shana's Panasonic, which I really don't know how to use. Every flash picture came out overexposed. But - all the flashing woke her up, and I brought her up to sit with me. Her main interest was my sandwich, my glasses, and the camera, in that order. After we finished our sandwiches we went on to ice cream. Then the interest turned out to be all ice cream all the time!

She changes so much every time I see her. Now she's trying to crawl and likes to try all sorts of food. She's crazy about guacamole, of all things. She's looking less like generic baby and more like her little self. It seems she'll look a lot like her mother, with the same eyes, lips, and chin. Her nose is beginning to look like it will grow into her mom's too.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Boomer Tuna

This weekend the OU Sooners payed the Texas Longhorns. In addition to the usual ongoing rivalry there was this little extra twist. Because each team had already lost one game (gee thanks Colorado) the winner of this one would continue on in contention for the Big 12 Championship, and the loser would go to the basement with Baylor. Shana and I entertained the WAACO's for the event. The game was fiendishly close and there was much screaming and groaning. Ruby arrived late in the afternoon and said she could tell we had scored before she even got into the house. There was also much munching and snacking thanks to an excellent Mexican themed potluck. Next game up was LSU vs Florida - Shana and I were exhausted by the time that was over. College football this year is so exciting.

The new Project on the needles is the Big Bad Baby Blanket from the first Stitch & Bitch book. I started it in the car on the way to Beavers Bend and continued it at the campfire (while daylight lasted, anyway). I'm still plugging away at it, but the endless rows of stockinette and reverse stockinette will take some determination. This one will be for Jennifer's new arrival. Nimrod (funny story) is due in the middle of February, so I've got a fighting chance of getting it in on time. The odds of completing it are also increased because it is the ultimate in TV knitting. With a couple of stitch markers I hardly have to look at it at all. Jennifer picked it out as her first choice when she was last here - I noted than this beautiful object in the book called for 8 skeins of Kiogu. At around $13.00 per skein that's a bit rich for something for the baby to throw up on. I'm going with Caron's Simply Soft in Off White. The yarn is a bit thicker than the koigu, and since it's held double throughout, on the size 7 needles I happened to have free I think this blankie may outlive us all, and also repulse terrorist bullets. I think it will also be quite nice looking, although it make take more talent than I possess to make it photogenic. In a few more inches I'll take it for a festive outdoor photshoot to see if that will get me better results.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Midweek Political Post (sort of)

By (somewhat) popular request, I have been poking around for some information concerning Blackwater's domestic contracts and I will post a few links. I think I can confidently confirm that Blackwater is doing work stateside. The contracts for drug enforcement do seem to emphasize overseas operations, but do not exclude domestic activities. Blackwater was involved in Katrina security activities, so they have already been active stateside. More information is rather quickly coming to light because of ongoing hearings and investigations. Look here, here, and here for more detail. By the way, I consider these three sites to be fairly reliable, so if you have time look around and see what else they may have to offer to supplement your regular news outlets.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

At Beavers Bend

We're back from Beavers Bend, wishing we had a few more days to spare. Shana and I had a little trouble getting out of town and to the campsite: little things like not being able to find a highway entrance, things like that. Luckily we were not the ones charged with getting there early and getting us a good campsite for three tents and a teeny tiny camper. We arrived to find our group in a nice campsite at the rear of the area, full of tall trees and backed by a river.

Diane and Sharon had brought the Tab out for its maiden voyage. We had all been looking forward to seeing it in person. Sharon couldn't keep it at her house, so it has been pining away in a storage facility where none of us could see it. Everyone had looked at it on the Internet, but it's even cuter in person. It's little; when the bed is unfolded it fills most of the trailer. It's tidy and compact like a boat, with lots of little cubbies and storage niches all over. It's the most adorable little trailer ever, and we're all jealous.

Of course we had also been looking forward to seeing another camping luxury: THE OVEN! It was brand new in the box, and vintage Coleman. It's a little different in appearance from those available now, but the principle is the same. It goes on your camp stove, in this case the enviable and highly desirable Coleman Roadtrip Party Grill (item 9940). You fire it up and pop your biscuits in. Susi earned her "Queen of Campsite Cooking" badge by making us tasty golden biscuits for breakfast before we ran out to our various pursuits this morning.

Beavers Bend is a beautiful park, with a lot to do. There are stables and a narrow gauge railway, a little beach, canoe and kayak rentals, fly fishing, hiking, bike trails - if it happens outdoors this place has it in a stunning setting. On Saturday part of our group went fishing. Shana and I rented kayaks, and the rest of the party went out mountain biking. Saturday's fishing wasn't successful in terms of catches, but the spot was lovely and everyone had a chance to relax.

Our kayak trip was really nice. We paddled along on a peaceful river with beauty on all sides. I saw a pair of courting copperheads - a startling sight, and one difficult to photograph since they were entwined on a pile of sticks of nearly the same color as their bodies. After our river adventure Shana and I went for a short hike. We were looking for an easy ramble, but being unfamiliar with the trails we ended up with a challenging steep and rocky trail. The views of the river were spectacular, but more strenuous than we had planned for. After about a mile of that we turned around and came back. The mountain bikers took that trail by mistake as well, and found it to be an exhausting experience.

This is the last place Dianne saw her cell phone. She was in a bit of a hurry, and her cell phone jumped to its death. She was extremely reluctant to rescue it from its horrible fate. Although the incident was sad, I must admit we all got a great deal of entertainment out of calling her phone in the hopes of startling subsequent visitors. Dianne was a very good sport about it, but then she's had plenty of practice. This is the third phone of hers to have suffered a hideous death this year.