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.