Monday, May 28, 2007

Return of the Wildwomen

It's Memorial Day, and we have returned this afternoon from the Wichita Wildlife Refuge after a long weekend of camping. The weather was chancy, but we ended up with heavy rains after 10 every night, with only an hour of so of rain one afternoon. We had planned to take a hike this morning before heading back to the city, but the rain started early this morning. We hustled to pack up and load the car because there is little that is less enjoyable than taking down a tent in the rain.

The refuge is gorgeous this time of year, with all kinds of wildflowers in bloom. There was Sneezeweed, Barrel Cactus, Cholla, Verbena, Coreopsis, Monarda, Indian Blanket, and so many more. My old enemy Indian Paintbrush is still in bloom, but I outsmarted it by starting Claritin before we got down there. It's a beautiful flower, and when I am not choking and sneezing I can appreciate its charms. Nearly everywhere we went was just a sea of blooms stretching as far as we could see. Photos really cannot do it justice.

There were two buffalo hanging around the campgrounds all weekend. One of them came through our campsite Saturday morning and hung around just across the street scratching various parts of himself on the trees and the campsite number sign. He was not happy to have people around - two girls came around the road and were rather close before they actually saw him. He stopped scratching himself and turned toward them - when they took another step forward he charged them. They backed up quickly; he was satisfied and went back to scratching himself. Another buffalo came within a few feet of us in another part of the campgrounds without seeming to be particularly disturbed by our presence.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Mad Women of the Prairie Ride Again

This will be a camping weekend. We'll be participating in the Tour De Meers ride on Saturday. Shana and I will be staying through until Monday afternoon, if the rain doesn't get too bad. The forecast is NOT good. Still, we can still have fun in the Taj M'Shana - I'm bringing cards & other indoor entertainments. If it's not absolutely pouring down we can still enjoy a little hike. This picture is from a previous visit. I'll load up some new ones Monday night.

I did visit Miss Vivian today, but as usual my camera would not cooperate so I have no new pictures. She's still might cute, even though she slept through almost my whole visit.

Gotta run - I'm supposed to be packing the car instead of nattering on. I have not even started to get my clothes together and I can't find my binoculars, so I'd better flame on, since I', only 20 minutes from departure time.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Candidate for Moron of the Year

It has come to my attention that my esteemed representative James Inhofe, he of the "global warming is a hoax" announcement, is blocking two bills in the U S Senate to honor Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring. He apparently thinks she does not deserve the honors because in his opinion she had promoted junk science. I would like to go on record that I did not vote for this moron. I do not understand his knee jerk negative response to anything that suggests environmental responsibility. I do not understand why he has not been voted out of office. I do not understand anything at all.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tying Up the Loose Ends

Shana's mom has been here since Thursday evening, so I was unsure whether or not I'd be able to finish up any projects. Her visits are usually rather crowded with social activities and elaborate cooking. I seldom have a lot of down time while she's here. This time has been rather low key, with smaller family occasions and a fair amount of down time, so I have been able to get a few things moving along. Thursday Nancy came over, and Friday we went to Nancy's house for dinner. We had the benefit of perfect weather, so cocktails on the patio were a pleasant feature. Today after we took a walk by the lake Inace went out to see some other family members. I stayed home and took some time out to craft.

I had not started my Mothers Day Project embroidery yet, so this morning I took it out to work on while the house was quiet. Apparently I still have the elderly eyes, because I needed reading glasses to do it. I volunteered for the project without a second thought because I had learned simple embroidery as a child. It was only after I saw the small size of the piece that I remembered that I have not embroidered anything more complicated than a sock monkey face for years and years. Once I got started it moved right along, though. I'm pleased with how it came out. I do need to write a little essay to go with it before I send it in, but that can wait a few days. I'll let the ideas roll around in my head for a few days, then get them on paper.

Vivian's sweater is finished, and even has buttons. I think I could have made it up in a bit tighter gauge, and the buttonhole spacing is imperfect, but I think it will be a comfy cozy garment for her. The Plymouth Encore is soft and squishy - it should be quite warm. I had initially intended to put on 5 buttons, but I closed the bottom buttonhole because it does not need any more buttons. Five would be overkill. I have yarn for another one, but I think I will try out another pattern for it, (probably Trellis, from Knitty) and a bit larger, for next spring. I'm going to make a hat to go with it before I take it to her. I'll have to look up how big a hat for an infant should be, though. Left to my own devices I'd surely make the standard man-head size.

I had promised a sketch for a friend at work to use in a flyer for a Desk and Derrick function at the zoo. Desk and Derrick is an organization of women who work in the energy industry. That's another project I was determined to get finished this weekend. The general idea was to make zoo animals look like roustabouts. I decided on the kangaroo early on, because to my eye it seemed to be the animal who would look the most reasonable wearing work gloves. I had a lot of trouble deciding on another animal until I thought of making a snake be the bit. I'm having my doubts about the general appearance of the kangaroo - I think it looks like a dog. Still, I think in a lot of ways I think they do have a superficial resemblance to dogs. I hope it will suit the purpose for my friend.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Break in the Action

It's finally Friday afternoon - my golden time all to myself. The weather is perfect and Roxy is at Social Club, so I'll be on my bicycle in a few minutes taking a turn around the lake - sprints and intervals if I'm smart. I've already made my ritual appearance at the local Hancock Fabrics - the one near me is closing, so I'm cruising by once in a while to pick up a few things at bargain prices. Today's haul included some buttons, 5 skeins of Lion Brand wool yarn, a little embroidery hoop, a big package of embroidery floss, a packet of fat quarters, and some knitting needles. The entire price was just under $25.00. I'm trying to keep the balance between picking up things I know I will use for a great price and buying a bunch of junk just because it's cheap. They have a lot of fabric still, but I really need to have some projects in mind before I buy any. I don't really do a lot of sewing these days and I don't want to amass a big fabric stash that I have no plans for.

Vivian's sweater is nearly done. The knitting is done, and I lack only the assembly. I picked up a few more buttons to try. The buttonholes came out a little larger than I thought they would, and the garter stitch texture really needed something a little larger even if they had not been so large. I'll have enough yarn to make a little cap to go with it. I'm thinking one with a turn up brim in the box stitch that accents the sweater. I'll put ribbing under the brim to snuggle up to her little head. A pom-pom is not out of the question.

There are a couple of other projects in the works for this weekend. I have a little art project for a friend which I promised for Monday. Also I've offered to be a part of The Mothers' Day Project. This is an art project by Ann Landre which will consist of tote bags featuring the embroidered names of American servicewomen who have died in Iraq. Each name will be embroidered by a different woman. Then tote bags will be assembled with these names. The bags will circulate among the participants to be displayed or shared in any way we choose to call attention to those women lost to the war. I have my name: Regina C. Reali. She was a 25 year old Army Sergeant, killed by an IED in Baghdad.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Why I Don't Ever Have to Feed the Dog

I was minding my own business checking my email and surfing around the Internet when I heard a sound I could not place. Many years of resident boys and dogs have taught me to run immediately in the direction of any sound I have not heard before. This is what I found when I got there. The lid is not removed from the peanut butter jar in the conventional way. The lid is chewed completely off.

This is how it got that way. That creature with the adorable fluffy ears akimbo is the famous Evil Wild Dog of the Prairie. The moral of this story is do not leave a jar of peanut butter in your handbag and your handbag on the floor unless you want to time the dog to see how quickly she can destroy the jar and run her tongue all over the delicious doggy treat within. Why was it in my handbag? Maybe it's better not to know everything.

Mothering Sunday

On Mothers' Day Samantha told me she was going to stop by and give me a gift (turned out to be a massive rechargeable screwdriver head and socket set - a very handy item indeed), then go over to Alex's house to babysit so Alex and Jamie could go out for dinner. Of course I suggested that I go over too so we could visit and we could both maul the baby. By the time we got there Alex and Jamie had decided to order carryout from Olive Garden because every restaurant in town was slammed. Just before we got there Samantha told me Alex was going to propose over dinner. Sam and I played with the baby and visited with Jamie until Alex got back with the food, then they went into the other room and we started a movie. Alex came out a couple of times looking NERVOUS & we laughed. In a little bit they came out all smiles to give us the good news. They were sooo happy, and so were Sam and I. It was fun to be there and be in on the surprise.

It was the last touch on a really nice weekend. We were fortunate in the weather department I got out for two nice bike rides with a selection of WAACO's. Rita's birthday party was outside on Buddy's patio, which is always the nicest place to be in May. I was going to take some pictures so Shana could see everyone, but through a process of confusion and stupidity I did not bring my camera. Pat took some and I am hoping she emails them around because no one else remembered theirs either. I got some yard work done, including a clean out of the rose garden. Too bad today I have to go back to work.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Home Alone

Shana is on her way to Marco Island this morning, setting off for a week at the beach. I was not able to go this time, but she really needed the break and there was no reason for her not to go with friends. I'll have plenty to do here to keep me out of trouble. By coincidence, her mother is coming Thursday, so my plan it to get the house in reasonable order before then so it does not look like the lair of wild beasts, and enjoy her mother's company until Shana arrives back in the city. The trip was not so much meant to be a visit to Shana as a chance for Inace to get together with Nancy, so it does not matter much that Shana will not get back in town until the day before Inace leaves. Fortunately she's an easy house guest, with plenty of plans for herself.

Also on the menu for the weekend are a couple of bike rides with assorted WAACO's, and Aunt Rita's birthday party. Also Mothers' Day is tomorrow, and "those people" may or may not plan something for me.

Knitting this week seems to be mostly purple, which is odd because I seldom wear purple. Up close to my face it makes me look like a cheese, and not a very nice one. However, purple feet should not be a problem until I get enough flexibility to wrap my feet around my neck. I don't think that day is very close. The big ball is Lonesome Stone Mountain Feat in shades of Lavender from Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins in Boulder, where Mom and I went on our yarn crawl in March. It looks denim blue in this picture, but in person it is all shades from deep purple to lavender. In the ball it looks like a giant eggplant. It is going to be another pair of Monkey socks. I love the pattern and I'm sure it's going to suit this yarn perfectly. The other purple on the needles is Wildfoote in Rhapsody, in my favorite 3x1 rib. The colors are nice and rich (pretty true in this photo, at least on my monitor), so even in a basic rib it will make a very pretty pair of socks. This was the first pair I cast on for after the Koigu Monkey Socks, so initially I was sure the wool felt like barbed wire, but actually it is very nice and soft.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sunday Craftiness

I actually have finished objects which I have not yet shown. I finished the Monkey socks at last. The yarn is Koigu that I bought several years ago at Newbury Yarns in Boston. Newbury Yarns is the most beautiful yarn store I have ever visited. It's tiny, with yarn stacked floor to ceiling all around the room arranged by color. The yarns are beautiful and luxurious, but when I went in the effect was overwhelming. Not quite the store to dash in and grab up some basics for the stash! I was saving the yarn until my skills and the right pattern converged to take proper advantage of this beautiful yarn. This is Monkey, from Knitty. I will almost certainly use this pattern again. It seems to be error free, fairly easy to knit, and looks beautiful. Of course it is now too warm to wear woolly socks, but they are a nice objet d'art to admire until fall.

I've also finished the Kimono shawl. I give up on getting a good picture of it. Anyone who has seen it in person can attest that the yarn is very attractive, no matter how unphotogenic it seems. I actually finished it in Denver and gave it a quickie steam blocking to see how it looked finished. I thought I might like the merino with a little less agressive blocking than usual to let it bloom a little more. I changed my mind last week and gave it a proper blocking on wires and pins, which improved the drape and size. I think I will use it a lot, but will never try to photograph it again.

On the needles right now: a Haiku cardigan for Baby Vivian, and a pair of plain 3x1 ribbed socks in Wildfoote Rhapsody. I'm planning on skeining up some alpaca for the Icarus shawl this week, and swatching for my Phoebe sweater. Shana will be vacationing in Florida week after next, so I think I'd like to get a a couple of new projects going to keep me amused while she's gone.

We are enjoying extra dogginess this weekend. Skippy came to spend the night as an experiment to see if he would be OK at our house when the Humps are out of town. The last time he was left for a few hours at a strange house he tore all of the blinds off the windows. Lucky for us and him this did not happen today. He an Roxy are good buddies, so all went smoothly. He's a good dog, and very easy to handle, although his leash manners are not perfect. This is the gang on their way out for a walk. Skippy is grinning from ear to ear and Roxy is so happy she is (almost) looking at the camera without cringing running, or hiding.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Friday

What could be better? Friday, perfect weather, met my work deadline so I could saunter out of the building on time. I guess it would be even better if it was also pay day, but I really can't complain.

I went to visit Miss Vivian after work today to see how much she had changed in a week. You couldn't prove it with this picture, but she's more alert and even prettier than last week. Her skins looks so pretty, and she opened her eyes and communicated with me a little. She likes bright colors and music and has already been to Target. Please note how she makes the afghan I made for her look fabulous. I took several pictures and will load them on on my Flickr Gallery. Just click on the sidebar link; I'll put her in a set by herself. I didn't get a good picture with her eyes open though - I didn't want to flash her too much.

I saw the oddest thing when I went in to work this morning. There is a new "church" near our building that has only been there about a year. As I drove up this morning I noticed that Godzilla and King Kong were on the roof. I was going to report to Richard that I noticed that Saint Anyone's was lacking this important invitation to worship, when one of the guys in my office pointed out that it was a 5 year anniversary thing. I guess a like display was on a Catholic church in 5 AD and I just missed it. Still, I am having a lot of trouble making the connection.

This is the one week out of the year when it becomes obvious why I planted the "Lavender Dream" rose in the shade. The color of the flowers matches exactly my "Roseum Elegans" Rhododendron and they bloom at the exact same time. The rest of the year the rose hangs on in discontent while I feel sorry for it, but this week they are perfect together.