Sunday, September 28, 2008

Untitled Weekend (too lazy to title)

Friday afternoon I had a visit from Miss Vivian. As she's grown she just keeps getting busier and busier. We went to Target to score some sparkly pink shoes, then off to the park. The swing was a big hit, but stepping on and off rocks was endlessly absorbing. She's finally gotten past the stage of picking up everything no matter how unlikely and putting it in her mouth, which makes outdoor activities much more pleasant. She is, however, getting to the phase where she does not like to be swept up and carried wherever you want her to go. She'd rather head off in her own direction as fast as possible, but will (just) consent to have you lead her by the hand.

Back to the house we went for an afternoon of go go go. She mauled the dog, played with her toys, checked (and double checked) all the doors in the house to be sure she was still barred from total access. We had a rhythm band parade and danced. She talked on the phone, climbed in and out (and in and out) of chairs, attempted to mutilate my house plants but was prevented by doing so because my big ponytail palm can defend itself with rough edged leaves, checked several times to be sure I still did not want her pulling everything out of my kitchen cupboards, and enjoyed a snack. She won Roxy's heart when she shared her teddy grahams. We had dinner. She had a bath. The only thing she never did was stop moving.

I took lots and lots of pictures, so hop on over to my Flickr gallery to see the rest.

Saturday morning I joined some of the cycling group to ride out to El Reno. It was a perfect day, and we made an easy ride of it. It's probably a sign of our progress as cyclists that a forty mile ride appeals as an "easy" morning on the bike. Five of us rode out, and whenever we regrouped the conversational groups were shuffled. I think everybody got a chance to visit on the road. I was especially thrilled to find out that Melissa has actually raised sheep and GOATS! The only thing that marred our ride was a very new chip surface on about 8 miles of road. There was a huge amount of loose gravel on the surface, so we had to slow down and pay close attention. I like to think it's a great opportunity to build our skills to run into things like this, but I really think one mile instead of 8 would have been sufficient for that purpose. We're really past the season for rigorous training now, so we were just out enjoying the day and could take our time to look around. We're determined not to lose all of our hard won endurance over the winter, but the need to keep up a particular pace has faded a bit. We stopped often to regroup and enjoy the scenery and quiet of the country, including snake spotting off of a bridge. That made a nice change, as most of the wildlife we saw was in the form of roadkill. I don't know when I've ever seen so many and of so many species. On the way out Diane and I noticed a little cat up in a tree. When the cat was still there (and looking unhappy) on the way back. Diane decided he (she?) needed to be rescued. Diane used her bike as an improvised ladder and saved the day. Then we adjourned to Jim's for a bite and some additional conversation before we went our separate ways.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Alaska Women Reject Palin Rally

Last week Sarah Palin returned to Alaska to a crowd of about 1,000 fans and well-wishers. BUT - on the other side of town, in front of the library (heh) some 1,400 gathered to show their opposition the Mrs. Palin- the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. Go here - read the article, look at the pictures, read the comments, and take heart. This week McSame will be shlepping her all over the UN for photo ops, on the theory that a picture of her with various heads of state will give her "foreign policy credentials".

On an even more encouraging note (or maybe just a chorus of "too little and too late") our elected officials seem to have grown a spine and decided not to hand over nearly a trillion dolalrs to the Secretary of the Treasury without oversight, at least for today.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Weekend with no Football

Friday afternoon Samantha and I went down to the OU Health Sciences center for a test to clarify results of an abnormal pap smear. She was nervous about the procedure, and of course her dad had jumped to the worst possible conclusion and scared her to death. As it happens, OU is partnering with a German firm to test a new tool that combines digital photography with colposcopy that allows them to get an even better look at the cervix. While I was pleased to know that Samantha was getting the best medical technology has to offer, the fact that this is new technology meant that in the little tiny room where the procedure was taking place was filled with about eight people (plus Sam and me!). Three people got to use the machinery and try their hand at focusing and taking pictures, and the company reps made helpful suggestions. The end result was that I think she got a very thorough examination and we both got a very good look at her cervix, enlarged and (basically) on TV. We got to ask lots of questions about the procedure and get lots of answers. In spite of being in a small room with no pants in front of a crowd of people, I think Samantha was fairly comfortable because of their attitude. It looks like nothing to worry about, which is the result we were hoping for.

Partly because they were running every test with a full cast of characters, and partly because of the way clinics always seem to run, we went in for a 1:30 appointment and didn't leave there until after 3:30. We had plenty of time to visit, and had quite a pleasant time together.

Saturday Shana and I attended a bridal shower for Katie, which was a nice little party. The guest list was small: the bride, her mother, Shana and I, Aunt Rita, and Nancy's best friends. Money gifts were given after lunch; then we adjourned to the living room for cake, coffee, and presents. Except for some honeymoon treats (of a non-embarrassing nature) the gifts were sentimental and sweet. Nancy had an artist's sketch of Katie's wedding gown enlarged and framed, the ring bearer's pillow that I made for her was one of the gifts. The last gift was her wedding veil. Katie is wearing her mother's wedding veil, beautifully remade for her by her Aunt Jeanie. Katie was surprised and touched - tears all around.

I had planned for an afternoon visit with Vivian, but due to some scheduling conflicts we were not able to have our visit. Instead Shana and I went out looking for outfits for Katie's wedding, which will also serve for our own wedding. We both met with success, and snatched up our choices. There will be a little tailoring for Shana's choice, and we will both need shoes, but the major decisions are made. We'd been a little anxious about it, so it was good to have that out of the way. For the imperfect, shopping for special occasion clothes is fraught with anxiety. It can be hard to maintain your self esteem in the face of clothes that do not fit, are unflattering, or do not come in your size. It's funny how after you try on things for a while you begin to think that it's not the clothes that don't fit or are unattractive, but yourself. You want something nice, but do not want to drop a pile of money on something that may not be wearable in future. I was concerned that not only would I have trouble finding something that fit well and would be appropriate for both occasions, but would also suit a shawl already in progress, so to everything else I added color requirements. Shana had initially been thinking of a dress, but ultimately selected a suit with pants that will not only be dressy enough for the two scheduled occasions, but also would be suitable for work meetings. She has a position on a company wide committee, and will be happy to have a nice outfit to wear when meeting with the company president. Her normal work wear has to be suitable for sitting on the floor with children, so dressy clothes are a very small part of her wardrobe. The prospective shoe shopping holds no fear for me - what could be more fun than picking out shoes to complement a beautiful dress? There is also the issue of a suitable handbag. I may have something already in my arsenal, but who could say no to a cute new clutch?

After the shopping trip I adjourned to my craft room to work on the Peacock Feathers Shawl. I've started on chart 3, row 87 of 250. That sounds like I am nearly halfway done, but that is only an illusion. The shawl gets wider with every row, and for every row of the chart there are two rows of knitting because you purl back after every row of the chart. I'm a slow but persistent lace knitter. How people can memorize a chart and buzz right along is a mystery to me. I've got post-it notes with stitch numbers laid over every line, and I still have to count my stitches going both ways for every repeat. Also, once the knitting is done there is a looped crochet bind off that will take a fair amount of time. Luckily crochet holds no terror for me. The Yarn Harlot has said that lace in progress looks like a**, and in this she is certainly right. I have now arrived at the point where I will no longer be able to stretch the shawl out to get a peek at the pattern without risking dropping part of it off the needles. Except for its ever-growing size it will look exactly like the yarn barf you sometimes get when trying to find the leading end of a center pull ball until it's off the needles and blocked. This is the leap of faith that is lace knitting. Oddly, even though it looks awful, getting to this point gives me confidence that I will be able to finish it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Warm up the House With Football

Diane and Sharon broke in their new house last night by hosting the WAACOs for football. It would have been hard to go wrong with a Mexican themed menu, a winning football team, cake for those celebrating September birthdays, good company, and kittie cuteness.

The Sooner look good so far, although I'm ready to see them play a better quality opponent to see how they do against a team with a little more speed. On the other hand, I was terribly disappointed in Ohio State. USC is a mighty opponent, but I really thought they would do better. They looked awful, and I expect this weekend's results will shake up the rankings.

Little Simba is growing like crazy and showing off his big cat instincts. He's just beginning to master walking, and is already pouncing and chasing anything that moves away from him. It's surprising to see how much complex animal behavior is hard-wired. He's still the cutest thing ever - even more so now that he's becoming so lively. He's still bottle fed, and his best friend is still a sock. He's all the way up to 13 ounces from the 6 ounces he was when he came to his new home. No wonder he looks visibly bigger every time I see him.

Everyone brought Mexican treats for potluck and did we ever have a feast! It was topped off by birthday cake for all the Virgos, and in spite of the plates of yummy treats we all had I don't think there was a single crumb of cake left. Testament to the excellence of Dianne's baking, and the universal appeal of chocolate.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's a Family Tradition

This weekend I have several deadline projects in the queue, so it's nose to the grindstone time. I've finished the Ring bearer's Pillow, which I had put off until the last possible instant because I thought that the fine crochet with mercerized cotton would hurt my hands (which it did). Next up on the schedule should be a baby blanket due at the end of October, and then the shawl for my wedding. I will probably just cast on for a pair of socks today, because the worsted weight yarn hurts my sore thumb. The shawl doesn't hurt anything, but takes concentration and with Rita and football around concentration will be hard to come by.

Working on the little pillow, I was reminded of my maternal grandmother. she was super crafty. She could do any kind of needlework you can name. She did petit point, beautiful crocheted lace, quilting, cross stitch, and sewing. She always had some kind of work in progress. She gardened, including putting canning and making jam. The only thing I never saw her do was knit. She had learned to knit and spin in Ireland as a child. Knitting argyle socks for money turned her off knitting for the rest of her life. When my mother wanted to knit she had to teach herself. Even when I was a little girl when I took my handwork to her she would always look at the back first, to see if I was doing it perfectly so that the back looked as good as the front. When I was making the pillow this morning I could almost hear her in my head advising me that threading my needle with a really long thread so that I would not have to thread it twice and make two knots was sloppy and would take more time because I'd have knots all over.

Probably because she was such an avid needlewoman, my mother grew up a crafter. We were short of cash, so if we wanted something we first thought up ways to make it ourselves, with extra points if it could be made from something we already had around. Mom taught me to crochet, embroider, sew, and knit. Every Christmas we baked, and also had some other kind of seasonal project, like candles or kissing balls. We made clothing and slipcovers. As I got older I still played with my dolls - it was fun to make clothes and accessories for them. Because Mom was crafty I always had lots of scraps around the house to spark my imagination. I still keep a pretty varied crafts stash, and still love to make things. Thanks Mom!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

A Good Thing, and a Bad Thing. First the good thing. This little kitty came to stay with me last Saturday while his mommies went out. To give an idea of the size of little Simba, he's curled up in a hamster bed! Simba's real mommy was feral, and in the process moving her kittens when she was killed by a car. Simba was the only kitten that anyone was able to find. He was lucky enough to find a loving home with people willing to take on the bottle feeding of a kitten so young he did not even have his eyes open yet.

Now to the Bad Thing. When I went to the ATM earlier this week I apparently did not take my card from the machine. Two men had been hovering behind me when I used it. I felt rushed, in addition to being in a hurry that night anyway. I think what they did was watch when I entered my PIN number, then snatch the card out of the machine before it beeped to remind me that I forgot my card. They sure didn't call out to me that I forgot it. Within minutes they had pulled $400.00 out of my bank account. My bank will probably replace the money, because they will have film of the theft, and I have ordered another ATM card. For me the moral of the story is: when you are using the ATM don't be nice - I knew they were too close behind me and the thought even crossed my mind that they could be watching me enter my PIN. I did not cover the keyboard or ask them to move back. Never again. Also, this happened at the Belle Isle WalMart, which I KNOW to be jammed with thieves and creeps. Lesson learned, I guess, and I hope it does not cost me too much.

Women Against Sarah Palin

I find myself very distressed by the direction the campaign has taken since Sarah Palin became the Republican Nominee for vice president. My main objection to her as vice president is that she is seriously unqualified to serve as president should it be necessary. Her education and experience do not qualify her. As Mayor of Wasilla she oversaw a staff of fewer than I have supervised in my work life, and she proved unequal to that task and hired an administrator to perform those functions. She has never been outside of the United States except to visit National Guard troops stationed abroad. She volunteered that she did not have much of an opinion or know much about Iraq. Her right wing creationist anti-feminist leanings should not be carried to the top of the government. Aside from that, I find her mean spirited, not-quite-truthful parroting of the Republican talking points alarming. Not because I believe them, but because people I have had reason to believe were reasonable reality-based adults seem to believe her. Maybe they just want to believe her. I can only assume that people farther down on the educated and media-doubting scale will take every word she says as gospel and we will be saddled by at least another term of war mongering incompetence.

When I look around and see what to me seems to be obvious graft, corruption, and incompetence and I hear educated people saying how they back the Republicans if feel like I am in a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and I feel frightened and confused.

Go here to read some opinions of some other, more thoughtful women about Ms. Palin.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fish Heads on a Stick

Today I rode in the Oklahoma Bicycle Society Streak. I only planned a 25 mile ride today because I am still recovering from my crash two weeks ago. Almost all of my road rash is healed, and most of my bruises, but I must (reluctantly) concede that my right thumb is broken. It's not as much of an impediment to cycling as it is to yoga, but it does make most riding hand positions uncomfortable and I don't enjoy the ouchies so much. This year I rode with Kim & Susi, with Ruby & Dianne catching up with us later. It was a lovely cool morning, overcast until nearly noon. We had a lovely ride, dawdling along and visiting.

As always, I brought my camera along in case I might see something interesting. As always, I did. First I saw a tree full of Turkey Vultures. They wait until the day heats up a bit before they take off, so they were still roosting when we rode by at 7:30 in the morning. Later in the day I saw them circling over a recently ploughed field.

Farther down the road I saw a country artifact: a bunch of dried up catfish heads nailed to a pole. It's an odd sight, and one I've seen several times when out riding in the country. The first time I saw the traditional display of fish heads they were hanging on a series of fence posts and I thought maybe they were cattle skulls hung out to dry and be cleaned by wild scavengers to prepare them for sale. Closer examination revealed them to be fish heads. I have no idea why people do this, but they are pretty common. I have read that they are hung up to dry so they can be used as fertilizer, but the fact that they are always hung close to the road tends to argue for their trophy value: Behold the Mighty Noodler! The large size of these fish heads (probably from 40 or 50 pound fish) makes it seem likely that they were caught by hand - noodled. This is a very popular sport in Oklahoma, and displaying the results of your efforts on a pole or fence in front of your house apparently seems like a good idea. Personally I think they are gruesome (not too gruesome to show you some pictures!), but I don't think I could be persuaded to take up the sport. It's bad enough to blindly stick you arm into a hole under water and hope there's a nice big fish you can get to grab you so you can pull it out by the by the mouth. The fact that other creatures do take over those holes and you could just as well be reaching for a beaver or a snapping turtle instead is just horrifying.

I'm currently on the second knitting of the first 50 rows of the Peacock Feather Shawl. I had faked and fudged a bunch on the first few rows and was willing to let it pass because the first few rows don't really show, but when I got to chart 1A and started on the wrong row I had my stitch count seriously off and no matter how hard I tried to rationalize extreme fudging there really was no help for it. My yarn tangled while frogging because although it's not really fuzzy it's kind of sticky and very fine, maybe somewhere between cobweb and lace weight. After half an hour of trying to untangle it I ended up just cutting the yarn because I have about 300 more yards than I need to complete the shawl. Of course I am hanging on to the cut off bit in case I desperately need a tiny bit more yarn, in which case I will have to revisit the untangling. In this picture the color is very true - at least on my browser, but of course, being lace in its unblocked state, it doesn't look like much yet.