Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bad News Bunnies

So I put together the bunny I was knitting for Hospice last night. Bad news. I think the folks over at Hospice have enough to deal with without being subjected to a misshapen wad of knitting and batting touted as a cute and fuzzy bunny. Something went VERY wrong in the assembly process. I think my problem was two fold. I think I used too fat yarn and knit it up on too fat needles. Then I over stuffed it. Wait...I guess my problem was three fold. The directions were clear but my bunny didn't look anything like the adorable cuddly one in the picture on the pattern. Mine was cuddly in a Three-Mile-Island-Bloated-Road-Kill kinda way. Which is no way at all really. Back to the drawing board. I'll give it another try in a smaller gauge and if that doesn't work, it's back to Teddy Bears 'R' Us to purchase Dorie Bears from now on!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tuesday-The New Monday

What is it about Tuesdays around here lately? Honest to God. It's enough to drive a girl to drink! We had our meeting this morning where we all listened to the departmental Spin Doctor take everything everyone said, change the word order and regurge it back at us in his patently pompous manner. When he wasn't at it, the departmental weasel was taking credit for everyone else's ideas from last week's meeting. To top it off, the Big Boss had no knowledge of a web page on our site that I am responsible for. I've only been creating the metrics and updating the thing monthly for seven years. It's one of the main parts of my job and is done mostly for her benefit. I left the meeting with my knickers all in a knot .

As soon as we get back to our desks, the fire alarm goes off. I am the fire marshall for my area. I am to see that the four conference rooms are empty and that the doors are closed and that everyone is out of the building. Sounds simple enough, eh? Especially since this was obviously not a drill. We are always told in advance about those. So I quick run and close the doors and come back to find 80% of the department standing around the cake on the treat table speculating (loudly as to be heard over the deafening blare) about why the alarm is going off. I start cracking the whip telling them to get OUT OF and AWAY FROM the building. This is not a drill! It's like nailing Jell-o to a tree. They couldn't be less interested in leaving the cake. They couldn't be less appreciative that I am potentially saving their lives.

Finally I follow the last one down the stairs and out the side emergency door. Remember the AWAY FROM part of my instructions? Too complicated apparently. One of the kids is standing blinking in the sunlight by the door jamb looking around as if he's afraid to actually venture outside. One is in the puckerbrush to the right of the door looking at flowers and butterflies. Another is sitting cross-legged on the doorstep nearly getting whacked by the door each time someone comes out. They are all bi*ching that they have work to do. They shouldn't have to leave. There's no smoke or flames...yadda yadda yadda.

OK. It's over. False alarm. We can all go back inside. So do they rush back in to do the work that they were so concerned about leaving? No! I have to try and round them up, while they doodlebug around like baby ducks on crack, to get them back inside. It was harder than getting them out in the first place! I call them my 'kids' and I love them dearly but in reality they are all 30-40 year old Ph.D. scientists. My job shouldn't be this annoying!

OK Rant over. I knit a 6" square out of Red Heart Acrylic last night. I am going to make a bunny out of it. The pattern is on the Heartstrings website. I contacted the owner and asked if I could distribute the pattern to the ladies over at Hospice so that they could be made up and given to patients as part of the Dorie Bear program and she said it was OK. I'll try and make one tonight after my haircut.

The Dorie Bear program is one where Hospice collects new Teddy Bears to give to patients who are in the center. I thought these might be a nice addition especially for the older patients who tend to chose the smaller bears because they can hide them easier. They want them. They just don't want folks to know they want them! Especially the men. I'd like to have a basket of them ready next time I go in to Volunteer. We'll see. Busy week.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Go Ahead! Pants Me!

Still didn't get that darn shrug photo up. It was thunderstormy and miserable all weekend. I heard on the news this morning that in one county they had to move the hail from the roads with a snowplow! Yikes. So I did what any self-respecting girly-girl does when things are bleak. I went to the mall. I needed new pants. I've lost a little weight since this diabetes thing started. Not much, but curiously, I can take the jeans I bought a month ago off without unbuttoning them. I found this highly amusing. Mr. Bee...not so much. He got tired of me running up to him all the time with my arms above my head saying "Pants me! No really! Go ahead and pants me! They come right off!" So it was his suggestion that maybe I look into acquiring jeans that actually fit. I even got the old-lady elastic waist ones so maybe I won't have to go again soon. Yankee thrift trumps style!

Speaking of old ladies. Yes we were! Try and keep up people! I got a cute email this week that said "I'm not forty-something. I'm 39.95 plus shipping and handling." I love that!

Anyway. I tinked (tink=knit backwards. In other words I tore it out. Get it?) the Cherry Hill Alpaca Shawl. After four false starts, I figured out that maybe I was a little too confident in my ability to do intricate lace. I was wearing all the little fuzzies off the yarn-knitting it in and yanking it out.The patterns is marked 'Advanced'. So I have a couple of "intermediate' lace projects lined up for now. I'll work up to the advanced shawl.

Busy week at the old Bee homestead. Tonight-lawn mowing and library, Tuesday-haircuts, Wednesday-Mr. Bee's first ever massage, Thursday-Noisy Boys gaming night, Friday-Knit Night, Saturday-Graduation Party and Fireworks in Sauk City...fascinating eh? Why are you still reading?!?!?

Mr. Bee has been studying like a mad dog for his Art History test on Monday. I can barely lift the text book with one hand! He will take the test and when he passes, he won't have to take the class. I think he has actually studied more material and for a longer amount of time than he would have if he'd have just taken the semester class in the first place. Since he doesn't know what will be on the test, he is studying everything. A lot of art has taken place in the last ~3,000 years! He comes up with lost of interesting tidbits and trivia for me though. He thinks it will distract me from asking him to pants me all the time no doubt. Did you know that the High Renaissance only lasted about twenty five years and that there were really only about six "Old Masters"? Who knew?

I am so proud of Mr. Bee. He has been working his butt off to get his Business Management degree. Working all day, taking seven-week accelerated courses, and studying on his own to test out of a bunch of classes. He will graduate in January. He has this test, one more test on Public Speaking and a wrap-up class in October and then he's done. What a guy! We are going to thing of a really cool place to go next spring to celebrate. Maybe Adventure Cove in Florida?

Break's over. Off to file and organize, run and fetch, bow and scrape, and look around things and under stuff.

Later: Here is the photo of my shrug. It hasn't been blocked yet. That will make it bigger and lacier! It's just a rectangular shawl with cuff sleeves.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Just A Big Old Girl!

I had my nails done today. I'm a girly girl now! Normally I cut my nails so you can't see any white since they are so peely, puny and pathetic. I decided I was going to have them professionally done as my 'reward' for getting my blood sugar test number back to normal in the three months since my diabetes diagnosis. Off to the salon I went today and had French tips done. They are still short but now they are all shiny and girly looking. I'm not tired of looking at them yet, but Mr. Bee is. I've only asked him 187 times what he thinks of them. At first he said things like 'Fabulous' in a sarcastic tone of voice. Now he just rolls his eyes. Hmph...boys! We'll see how much I like them at bedtime. I am having enough trouble just typing with the new talons. It'll be doubly hard tomorrow if I mange to gouge my eyeballs out trying to remove my contacts lenses. Being a girl is dangerous work.

Mr. Bee and I went to see The Happy Diabetic Chef today at the Sheraton. He is a really cool guy. He cooked an appetizer, entree and dessert while he talked about his experience with diabetes. I bought his cookbook and can't wait to try some of the recipe's. I'd recommend seeing him to anyone who has diabetes or just wants to eat better. It was very entertaining and I came away with a lot of useful information. I also signed up to be on an advisory panel for the University of Wisconsin Hospital Diabetes folks. They are putting together a web site. All I have to do it review it several times over the next several weeks and fill out their questionnaires. I got $100. Surfin' the web for money....can't knock that!

I know I promised a shrug photo but I haven't taken one yet. I will get to it tomorrow. I also promised I wouldn't start any new projects until I finished the two I have going. Lied about that too. I can't be trusted in matter's such as these. What can I say, I'm on a roll! Started a new shawl out of some Cherry Hill Glitter Alpaca I had in my stash. It's soooo soft and yummy. If you could see and feel it you wouldn't blame me!

Off to bed to read Dean Koontz' new book "The Husband". It's one of those 'I-Know-It's-Three-In-The-Morning-But-I-Just-Have-To-Read-One-More-Page' kinda books. It's so good, I may be able to stop looking at my new nails long enough to finish it tonight!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Bring Your Family To Work Day Rant

Today is 'Bring Your Family To Work' Day. It's also 'Bring Your Pet To Work' Day. Remember when it used to be just 'Bring Your Child To Work'? There would always be 10 or so kids tagging along to see what it was like at Mommy's/Daddy's work. It was all well and good. The kids really got a glimpse of what Mommy/Daddy did all day after they left in the morning.

Now to be PC, we have to have a whole building full of kit, kin, pets, livestock and poultry using up all the meeting rooms to make 'DNA on a stick' (gummy stuff on toothpicks), playing games, touring, snacking: just generally yelling and racing around. Not exactly the picture of what we do at work on a typical day. (I said a typical day...some days we do have our moments. I'm still scraping silly string off stuff from one of those particular days a couple of years ago.)

You can break the whole lot of them down into two groups. The employees who actually come here to work are with their 6-16 year old kids participating in the activities that have been set up to show how biology works and what we make here at the company. The employees coworkers always complain about have disappeared completely from work and the festivities. Their children (average age of 3) left unsupervised, have taken the rest of the company hostage.

I know some of the kids out there. My buddy Eli came up to see me and she was very reverent. She seemed to be really enjoying learning about biology. Her brother Rob was downstairs experimenting with Wheat Germ DNA. Mum is sticking with them and they are participating in the actual activities of the day. Their Dad is a scientist. They were getting it.

As for some of the others...if they really want to see what Mommy/Daddy does in a typical day, I have set up a checklist of tasks. First one done gets to call in sick and then go golfing:

*Arrive 20 minutes late to work.
*Oh, did that meeting start at 8:00 a.m.? Arrive 30 minutes late.
*Interrupt and ask questions about what was discussed the first half of the meeting.
*Doze through the remainder of the meeting.
*BS a report about the meeting and defend it vehemently when inaccuracies are pointed out.
*Drink enough coffee to get good and cranky.
*Take it out on a subordinate.
*Go through folks' lunch bags in the office fridge and take out things you like.
*Spend a half an hour discussing the Brewers out by the mailbox.
*Make an hours worth of personal calls
*Take a two hour lunch.
*Come back with garlic breath and no mints.
*Take an hours worth of personal cell calls.
*Disappear from your desk leaving your constantly ringing cell phone behind.
*Pass the buck no matter what you are asked to do or accused of.
*Fail to plan ahead for a project and sponge supplies off coworker. (Do not consider replacing).
*Jam the copier making posters for your kid's soccer game and then just walk away.
*Take your two allotted 15 minute smoke breaks even if things are really busy.
*Lose track of time talking to fellow smokers and come back 20 minutes late.
*Play solitaire on the computer while maintaining an "I'm Extremely Busy" look on your face.
* Pocket a few office supplies.
* Sneak out early.

But I digress. When is PC too much? Does Fido really need to know that Daddy is in IS? Do the rest of us who don't want to bring granny and the goldfish to the gummy festivities get a paid Holiday? It's impossible to work with all of the running and screaming in the office area. I believe I will start my own tradition. 'My people' will choose to celebrate Bring Your Pet to Work Day in the privacy of our own home. It is sacred to us. Yeah...that's the ticket.

(Before you ask me to add "Write Your Blog Entry At Work" ...I am done working for the day!)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Black Waters Coffee

I just received the gift basket from Shawna at Black Waters Coffee Company. As you may recall, Shawna's response to my fan email was the only thing that kept me from crawling up onto my desk and jumping to my death on the disaster that was Tuesday. The box contained fifteen 10-cup pouches of lots of their different flavored coffee and two thermal travel mugs. Black Waters is my favorite coffee and today...Shawna is my favorite person!

Tonight I will finish the dreaded shrug!I have been working on it off and on all winter. I am half-way through the last cuff. I'm pretty proud of it but am extremely glad that I am on the home stretch. It's like knitting an afghan and it's hot now that summers here. I will take a photo and post it here tomorrow.

After I get that done, I have to rework the button band on my top-down cardigan. The cardigan is about hip length. The button band however, is about belly button length. Not exactly 'styling'. No amount of blocking can repair that so I will rip the whole thing out and start over. My friend Anne did hers about three times before it came out long enough. Not sure if it's the pattern or because it's my first sweater. Surely it's the pattern. Knitting goddess that I am.

From there is will be on to finishing the Hospice Comfort shawl that I have a third of the way done. After that I can start on a new project. Maybe another pair or socks or a light shawl pattern-nothing too heavy for the humid weather.

A friend is starting a quilting group in town. The organizational meeting is the second Wednesday in August. I don't have Hospice that night so I can attend. It would be nice to get back into a quilting group again, but finding a night that I am consistently free tends to be difficult. I have Hospice and knitting groups. Mr. Bee has game nights and classes. Since we share a car, we walk (er...ride?) a fine line sometimes. The group will be at the new library in town so it will be so much more conveniently located than the other groups I've been in. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it lands on a night I can attend regularly.
In another instance of how Someone up there is looking out for me. I lost my drivers license about a month ago. Sometimes I stick it in my pocket when I don't want to carry a purse so it regularly shows up at laundry time. Sometimes I stick it in my knitting bag if I am going to The Sow's Ear so it can usually be unearthed on one of the multitude of bags I use. This time, no luck. Couldn't remember the last time I'd seen it. Looked high. Looked low. No luck. So I went to the DMV Express on the west side of town to replace it, only to be told that they only do renewals. I would have to suck it up and go downtown to the big 'depression-era-bread-line' feeling one. Only open at the most inconvenient of times. Dimly lit. Long lines. Bad smells. Grumpy desk clerks. I had resigned myself to having to spend most of the day Monday trying to obtain a new license. At around 2 this morning without thinking about it at all, it came to me exactly where it was. So I got up, after four weeks of fruitless searching, went and got it, put it back in my wallet and returned to bed. Thanks Big Guy! I think I'll carry my purse from now on.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Primal Scream (Subtitle: Is It Monday Again Today?!?)

Why did I even bother to get out of bed this morning? It probably had something to do with a screaming tomcat sitting on my neck alternately screaming at me and grooming my nose hairs. The day has gone straight downhill from there and it's not even noon. I have the headache from H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. I poked my thumb THROUGH my Styrofoam coffee cup thus coating myself, my notebook and all of my papers with brew and sending a hazelnut-scented waterfall down the back stairwell onto some unsuspecting coworkers. Someone scammed the room I had booked for a meeting that I had set up for 15 people and I had to scramble to find a replacement two minutes before the meeting. My 'children' have picked today to pitch the business end of hissy fits at me regarding all sorts of earth-shatteringly important topics such as toner, spiral bound notebooks and the width of the lead in their mechanical pencils. All I want to do is go home and crawl back under the covers and not come out until it's safe....say 2010 based on the way it's going today. But since I can't do that I decided to come here, whine and beg for cyber hugs. Come one people...I need to feel the love!

The Dear and Fluffy Lord hears all prayers apparently and things are looking up. I got an email from the Black Waters coffee company a few minutes ago. I love their coffee. In fact that was the very coffee that I shared with my coworkers just this morning in the stairwell. Here! Have some Black Waters...on me...and you! Anyway. I wrote them a note last week and told them that I really like their product. I do that sometimes. I remember how much I liked those kinds of emails when I was in Customer Service. They wrote back and asked for my address to send me a goodie basket! As it happens...I love goodies! Of course that changes the fan letter I wrote into a what would appear to be a shameless sucking-up letter, but it's the one bright spot in my day so I'll take it.

PS-Thanks for the Cyber Hug, Renee. Someone out there loves me! :-)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sweet Tart Socks and WIP (Work In Progress)

I finished my Sweet Tart socks. I SOOOOO loved doing them both at the same time so I didn't get one all finished and then have to start the second from scratch. The leg and top is a garter rib and looks kinda waffley but you really can't tell in the picture. (Nice shadow of my head in the lower right! )

And this is a landscape quilt that I have been working on most of the late winter and this spring. My Mum is an amazing landscape painter and always says not to keep dinking with a painting once you get it done because you can always find a little thing to add here or there and before you know it you've over done it. But I don't listen to her. Never have. Ask her. She'll tell you. 'Over done' is my middle name. So I've spent months alternately letting the thing sit and 'rest' and adding leaves and branches here or there. It's beginning to border on being a FrankenQuilt so I'd better quit and get it quilted.

I thought I'd hang it in my living room and replace the quilt I have there now. Which is this one. It's been up for ~5 years . It's getting a little old.

Anyway. Not much time tonight. Good movie on Lifetime. See where my priorities lie? Off to finish my knitted shrug. I'm all about finishing all my WIP's before I start another darn thing. Today anyway. There is a very high probability that something shiny will catch my eye tomorrow and then all bets will be off! But for tonight at least I am the picture of industry and virtue!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Fur Babies/Animal Parenting

We have three very 'unique' pets at home. We started 16 years ago with a tiny black kitten. Mr. Bee and I went to the shelter and looked at all of the cute kitties that were begging for attention; all rubs and purrs. Then we went to the a dimly lit, cobweb-filled corner of the shelter. Thunder rumbled. Lightning flashed. Against the far back wall we could make out a small cage. Through the bars of the kennel black, sharp-clawed paws slashed the air. An attendant came and pushed a plate laden with ripe carrion across the room with a long stick, enticing whatever was in there to make tasmanian devil type sounds. "That's the one we want." says Mr. Bee. No cutsie, suck-up cats for him. And so we took Sebastian home.

We've never regretted the decision. He has been the loviest, most loyal, little guy I've ever met. He showers us with kisses and songs and snuggles. We cannot, however convince anyone else he's ever met that he is such a sweet boy. In the presence of anyone other than me and the mister, he becomes a shrieking, screaming, biting, scratching, spitting demon from further down in the depths of hell than even Stephen King has ever imagined. He flies across the air towards people who aren't even aware of his presence until his talons and teeth sink into their unsuspecting shins. Anyone offering a kind hand and a 'what a nice kitty' will pull back a stump. This was the product of our first attempt at animal parenting.

Furbaby number two is Sneakers the bunny; rescued from a program here at work that teaches inner-city kids about baby duckies, chickies and bunnies each spring. They bring in bunnies from a nearby farm and the kids have the option to take them home at the end of the week. Three years ago there was one bunny that was orphaned by it's third grader. Rather than send her back to the farm to be eaten. I took her home. Teeny, tiny, cute, fuzzy little handful of fluff. Docile little bunny. Sweet, snuggly little bunny. Yeah...right. She was snuggly until she got used to her new cage and about 12 weeks old. Then she became an territorial, aggressive, hormonally charged little she-devil. One finger through the hatch of HER cage and she grunts like a pig, charges and bites whatever she can get a hold of. Hard. One of Scott's friends fed her while we were on vacation and ended up using the Reader's Digest as a shield just to get food in her dish. Even having her 'fixed' which they assure us would cool her jets didn't work. Once you get her out of the cage, she is all snuggly, but until then she is the Vorpal Bunny from Monty Python's worst nightmare.

Recently she has discovered that overturning her litter box in her cage makes Mommy very angry. She's always been a shameless beggar, but now she begs for treat and if I don't come give her one, she picks up the corner of her potty box and looks at me. Blood shed, threats, extortion. Is that the image YOU had when you read all those stories about Peter Cottontail?

Still stupid enough to think that this too was a fluke and not bad Furbaby parenting skills, we adopted Wee Fergus three years ago. The shelter called me and said that they had some kind of a 3-4 year old Maltese, Lahasa Ahpso, Bijon Friese mix dog that they though we should come look at, so we did. We took their word for the supposed breed since he was totally shaved when we first layed eyes on him. He looked like a tiny pink pig with a long naked scaly rat-like tail. But he seemed to want to go in the car with us so we took him home.

After one week he convinced us that little puppies are so cold and alone on the floor all night (even in his expensive sheepskin bed) and that they really need to sleep in the big nest with the rest of their pack. After the first night of allowing this, he whined and moaned (literally...he doesn't bark he 'hummmmms') every night until allowed on the bed. He can't jump up on himself because he's too small. Once firmly esconsed on the bed, he takes the lion's share of the room as well as the covers and somehow reworks the laws of gravity so that if you should try to move him he weighs a boneless, immovable 800 pounds rather than the 12 that the bathroom scale shows. If he awakens and realizes he's being moved, he hums grumpily. Plus, from the minute it gets dark he spends his time shooting us meaningful looks, humming and then tearing down the hallway to the bedroom. He wants to go to bed. It's his favorite thing. He repeats this over and over and over until we actually go to bed around 10:00. It makes for a long evening when it starts getting dark at 4PM in the winter.

At 6 months he needed ACL surgery (just like the football players) because he blew out his knee practicing flying lessons off the bed. $1500. A year later he needed hip surgery to correct an old unattended injury. $1500 A few months later he went profoundly deaf....not that he listened to a thing you told him or came when you called him anyway. And now he is losing his vision and can only see thing in bright daylight and about 5 paces away. 3-4 year old dog? I don't think so!
I believe he's closer to the geriatric category!

Recently he has begun to attack the vacuum cleaner. No one knows why. He was fine with it for three years. But now the best bet is to put him up on the couch while you're doing the rug. When you move the vac towards him, he does an Elvis-lip thing. When you move it back he stops. Towards...Elvis. Back...normal. It's disturbing but entertaining.

The only thing weirder than each one individually is all three together. The cat rules the roost The dog is afraid of him after some set-tos that happened immediately after we brought him home from the pound- and rightly so. The dog is also afraid of the bunny because she is bigger than him and follows him around trying to kiss him. (Gone are the days of the cute, little handful of fluff.) The bunny LOVES the dog and the cat. She follows the dog around as he keeps looking alternately over his shoulder fearfully at her and desperately at us until we finally take pity on him and put him on the couch out of her reach. The cat allows her to follow him around for a bit, thus lulling her into a false sense of security, whereupon he whips around and solidly thunks her on the top of the head with a lighting quick swipe. She looks dazed and bewildered for a few minutes before she shakes if off and starts in again.

All in all it keeps things interesting around the old homestead, but I'm guessing that under the 'three strikes you're out' rule, the ASPCA must have a poster with our faces on it down at headquarters.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Lovely and Talented Mr. Bee

Here is the "Violence By The River' shawl being good-naturedly modeled by the lovely and talented Mr. Bee. God love him....he puts up with so much. He draws the line at knitted lingerie though. He has to retain some dignity.

And here is a close-up of the Chernobyl-esque flower pattern. Of course it's not blocked yet. That would mean actually finishing something and well...I just don't do that.

The only thing I don't like about it is it has that silk smell. You know the one? It's organic but still disturbing. I think it smells like worm butts. Maybe a little lavender soap in the blocking process whenever that may be.
It's weighs like 2 oz but is a warm little bugger!

Speaking of rivers...and we were weren't we? Bow to me! The Queen of the Fine Line Segues! I went geocaching with my boss at lunch the rain...through the weeds. Might as well have jumped in the mighty Mississip fully clothed. My pants stuck to my legs, my shoes squished. What I won't do for that 1% raise, eh? Actually it's my fault. I found out that there was a brand new geocache close to work. I know he loves to be the 'First to Find'. Who doesn't? There is usually one 'big' prize in the bounty for the first one to get there. One time Mr. Bee and I got a $15 gas card...back when that would actually by more than a thimble full of gas. But I digress....

I sent him the information and asked him if he had his GPS at work. He didn't. Neither did I. We commented that that was too bad and that was that. Two minutes later he prairie dogs up over my cubicle wall suggesting that I go home and get mine and we'll go together and get the cache at lunchtime. I agree 'cause...he's the boss right? (At least that's what I let him think.) So I go home and get the GPS and by the time I get back to work it has started to rain.

Me: It's raining.
Boss: Not too hard though.
(Rain immediately gets heavier. We look at each other.)
Boss: It'll pass.
(It rains so hard that you can't see the parking lot)
Me: Yup. Looks like it's letting up already.

He sits back down and finally I go to his desk:
Me: Well, Sir, I'm guessing this mission is aborted, but you can take my GPS and do it on the way home. It's supposed to clear up.
(He motions towards his computer screen where he has pulled up a full-motion Doppler scan of the area.)
Boss: It's passing through. It'll clear up soon.
(At least that's what I think he says, the rain is now hitting the roof so hard that I am now lip reading since all I can hear is the roaring torrent).
Me: Alright, maybe if we take a late lunch...
Boss: I was thinking an early lunch...
Me: OK. I have raincoats in the car.

Off we went, following the dubious satellite signal (satellites aren't really readable through heavy cloud cover), until we finally find the 'path' to the treasure. The path is an old railroad bed. We are very fortunate in Madison. This is a progressive city that really believes in bicycling for health and for emission control. They have removed the rails and ties and turned a lot of old beds into wide, paved, public pathways for biking and hiking. This was not one of them. The rails were still there, the ties were still there....and about 10 years worth of thicket had taken over between and around them. And it was wet from the aforementioned rain. And the treasure was half a mile down through the puckerbrush. One way.

What I thought in my head-"OK. Well. We came. We saw. It's too wet.' We'll just go back to work and come back a drier day."
What I said out loud-"Right behind you, Sir!" as he plog-hogged into the bushes.

An hour later we had indeed been the 'first to find'. There had been another cacher there when we arrived. [I know! I couldn't believe it either! This 'First To Find' problem really needs a Twelve-Step Program or a Betty Ford-type center or something!] She was nearby but couldn't find it and was beating around in the deep woods when we snagged the 'first to find' right out from under her! A blood-thirsty sport it is! Yes...the highly-coveted 'First to Find' prize of a brand new DVD copy of the movie "Stand By Me" (circa 1980-something) was indeed ours. And we only had to risk brush-cuts, burdocks, stinging nettle, mosquito bites, poison ivy, lyme Ticks and the first-ever case of downing while walking in the middle of a railroad track to get it!

Then we squish back to work and sit in the air conditioning. Add frost bite to the list above.
Inv-v-v-v-vigorating. You know I can see the value in starting your own business and being your own boss*.

*Disclaimer...This entry is for entertainment purposes only. My boss is a really nice guy. Really! Especially when he signs my paycheck!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Seafoam Scarf and Tofu Talk

I finished the seafoam scarf I've been making out
of the SoySilk yarn. I am amazed that it is actually made out of proteins from the residue
from making tofu. I love tofu and now I love it even more! It's multi purpose! Stir fry it! Knit it!
Just don't bake it into a cheesecake. I tried that once fifteen years ago and have yet to live it down. Tofu is many things. It is not, it turns out... a decadent dessert. No matter how much chocolate glaze you drizzle over the top trying to disguise it. Oh it looks gorgeous and yet it still tastes like...well...bean curd covered in chocolate sauce. And it will put you in the pastry dog house for years no many how many 'good' desserts you make after that.

Here is a close-up of the pattern. It's not blocked yet. It's just a series of dropped stitches. The pattern was a freebie that Heather down at The Sow's Ear designed. It's on their website Look under patterns. It's called Silky Wool Seafoam Scarf...but I think when Heather sees how this works up in tofu she will change the name to The Sucky Cheesecake But Totally Terrific Tofu Scarf or something.

I was going to take a picture of my 'Violets By The River' lace shawl. I am so impressed with Jerry's lace work over at When Knitting Was A Manly Art. I'd been drooling over it for over a year when I decided to bite the bullet and take a class at The Ear. Usually I pick up stuff pretty quick but this class was an exercise in frustration for me (and the other two ladies in the class) despite my teacher Amy D. who has the patience of Job. The jokes were that it was really called 'Violence By the River' or better yet, 'Violets by Chernobyl' since our lacy flowers were so misshapen. Some had 3 petals-some 7. Plus I made mine in silk that is not stretchy at all so you couldn't even count on that to cover up the bad....that is to say...eccentric...spots. But I followed through and although it hasn't been blocked yet it is done. Unfortunately so is the battery in my camera. It gave up the ghost after I took the scarf pictures. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Semi Annual Butchering of the Shrubs

Today I performed my semi-annual butchering of the shrubs. That's why I didn't take a wide shot of our new flower pots. The bushes to either side like they got a pretty bad (and vicious) haircut. Witness the leftover carnage splattering the walkway. But like a haircut, they'll grow back just fine. They go very well with the lawn that Scott butchered with the new edger. Edger... Edge-er. Edge of the lawn. How hard is that to understand? It's not called an 'Edge-and-then-a 6-inch-diagonal-slash-into-the-lawn-er'! Sheesh. That too will grow back but tomorrow we won't be able to get in the door for all of the landscaping and gardening brochures and business cards heaped on the front step! [Please...for the love of your neighbors and good plants everywhere...let us do your yard work for you! Huge discounts! Really!]

But the impatience are pretty. For now. It's only been one day but they are still alive. That is kind of a coup for me-notorious black thumb that I am. And I didn't cut the extention cord running the electric hedger like I did last fall. There was a big pop and a bright flash and everything stopped working. Handy woman that I am, it took my five full minutes of head-scratching, kicking and blaming the 'stupid hedger' before I figured out what the problem was. Oops. It was our best extention cord too. The hundred footer. I tried to get Scott to look on the bright side. That we now had two-count 'em- fifty-foot cords. (Actually more like a 90 and a 10 but you could see how I was trying to spin it.) He was not amused. Oh not upset enough to take my hedger away and do it himself mind you...but unamused none the less.

Must take Wee Doggie out....again. He came out during mid-slaughter this morning, took one look around and decided the best thing he could do for all involved was to eat the evidence as fast as humanly...ummm...doggily(?) possible. He scarfed leaves down with gusto until I took him back into the house. Now he has to go out every 10 minutes to see if there's anything I may have missed. Nothing left out there but chalk outlines of shrubs on the sidewalk. But was I really disfiguring the foliage? Or just making the dog a nice salad?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cheesy Camera Tricks

I took a spinning class today. Here is the huge skein of yarn I made with my drop spindle. Cool huh? Would be if it wasn't actually the length of my middle finger! Three hours worth of work...enough for a hamster scarf. It was really fun though and I was happy with the consistancy. I learned how to ply and skein it once it's spun. Also learned a lot about different kinds of animal and plant fibers.

The lady next to me asked the teacher three different times how she washed her fleece to get the lanolin out before spinning. The teacher told her three times that she puts in the kitchen sink with hot water and Dawn dishwashing soap and lets it sit then she rinses it well. Lanolin has a low melting temperature so that should do it. The lady just wasn't happy with that answer and she asked each time why it didn't felt. The teacher kept patiently explaining that it wasn't the hot water that felted the fibers it was the aggitation. Come to find out the problem was that the lady didn't know what 'aggitation' meant. So I said, "Just don't leave it in the hot water and call it names." She didn't get that either but the rest of the class liked it. (Here's a shout out to the original pun master, Uncle Donn).

We spun up some sheep wool, some alpaca and a sheep/alpaca blend. We learned about spinning with the direction of the fiber versus crossways the fiber. We learned that $5 dog brushes are just as effective for carding at $70 carding combs. We also learned that it's not called a 'drop spingle' for nothing. They got dropped a lot. I'm thinking about calling mine a 'swear word spindle' because there was a lot of that going on as well. All in all if was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

This morning we went down to the town fair. There was a craft sale but it didn't pan out to be much. On the way out I bought a $1 cup of animal feed and took a spin around the petting zoo. I justified the expense as therapy. I needed to get over the mean-spirited goat attack of last weekend. They had a huge tortoise that for some reason wasn't all that into the pellet food. Or maybe he was just too slow getting to the side of the pen when I called him to come get it. There was a skiddish, baby bison, and some alpacas. I spent most of my feed on a groovy little highland cow and small white camel that wanted to put his cheek next to mine and nuzzle my ears. I'm a sucker for the snugglers. There were goats too, but I managed to remain upright so the whole experience was worth it. I'm 'back in the saddle' ,as it were, as far as petting zoos are concerned.

Scott bought a new lawn edger at Menards this afternoon. See what happens when I'm not around for a few hours? I hear lots of hacking going on outside so I'd better go see what's up. Will take some photos of our new impatients plants out front and post them tomorrow. If they live that long. Animals I'm good with...plants...not so much.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Just a short entry tonight. I have to be at Hospice at 6 for my volunteer shift. I have to admit, I was pretty scared about volunteering in the in-patient unit to begin with and I always kind of get butterflies in my tummy when it's time to go in the building, but it has truly become one of the richest experiences of my life. It's not without its difficulties-all of the roller coaster emotions that death brings- but the rewards far outweigh the tears shed. I have met so many amazing people; patients and staff alike, and learned so many valuable lessons. It certainly puts one's own life in perspective.

On a typical night I can do anything from filling the birdfeeders outside the rooms, collecting dinner trays and menus, stocking linens, refilling ice water to stocking the fridge. Other nights find me feeding someone, reading to someone else, running when a call light comes on, visiting or just holding a hand as the end draws near. Nothing huge in the great scheme of things, but being with the patients is truly amazing. So many lessons to be learned. You see such strength and spirituality under all of the pain. It's not at all what I thought it would be. Makes me realize how truly blessed my life is.

Just got home after yet another amazing night at Hospice. Did a lot of things including 'walking' the grounds with a young guy in the later stages of ALS. He had a big motorized wheelchair and the use of his right index finger to make it go. He was very difficult to understand, mostly talking with air instead of sounds, but we were both patient and had a nice walk and visit down by the fountain. We talked about family, Chicago, birds and the deer that everyone had seen eating grass out back earlier in the evening. On the way back, we had been slowly 'strolling' all along, but he started going even slower and I asked him if he was OK. He said yes and that the chair loses its charge more when it's going slow. I said "Well kick it in the butt then! I'll give you a dollar if you can take out those four road cones over there!" He took off across the parking lot at, conservatively estimated, 900 miles and hour with me running behind him yelling, "Stop! Stop! I don't really have a dollar!" He stopped in front of the road cones and was laughing his butt off. I stopped worrying that they were going to find us in a big heap in the middle of the parking lot, surrounded by parts of wheelchair and road cones and started worrying that he was going to hyper ventilate and pass out! He was fine though and when we went back in I told the nurses that he was a menace and had been hot-rodding in the dooryard. He was all smiles. A young man is still a young man, muscle control or no, voice or no. Just give him a set of wheels and a warm summer night....

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tornadoes-Two for Tuesday

Wow! Two entries in just one day! There is a lot of tornadic activity in the area tonight. Makes for some excellent cloud formations!

This one on the right is just south and west of us over by Mount Horeb and New Glarus. It will just miss us if it keeps on its current path. Three tornadoes from this one and lots of funnel and wall clouds. No serious damage as far as we know. One hit over by Barneveld, a town that was completely wiped off the map by an F5 a few years back.

This one on the left is to the north east of us. Lots of tornadoes and had caused a big pileup on I90/39 by Portage. Apparently a trailer truck ran in to some raining debris.


Madison seems to be sandwiched in between them and will probably escape the worst of it.....ah...forget I said that. The siren is blaring again. Well, better head back to the basement to duck and cover!

Lil' Angus And The Gift That Keeps On Giving

No Angus sightings in the last few days. I think he has moved on. I discovered that he will never truly be gone however when I mowed the lawn last night. I saw this weird weed in the grass so I pulled on it. Up came the sprouts and a small cache of sunflower seeds. About as many as will fit in the mouth of a thirteen-striped ground squirrel named Angus. As I continued mowing, I discovered more and more caches. My peanut butter must have been really offensive if he moved out with that much 'treasure' buried around. I can't figure out why our lawn service didn't get them when they sprayed a couple of weeks ago. Conditions must be just right now because they are all starting to sprout. Angus. Gone but not forgotten.

Speaking of weird animal things, Wee Fergus, geo-dog extrordinaire, is having an all-out hissy fit that he cannot go out on the back deck to survey his kingdom like he always does several times every day. We hired someone to come and stain it yesterday and we have to stay off it for 48 hours. I understand this. Scotti B understands this. Fergus? Not so much. Even after I let him out the front door to do his doggie business, he comes in and goes straight for the back door and scratches enthusiastically. Can't really sniff the breeze like he likes at ground level I guess. He is kinda short. He needs the 2 foot boost that only our back deck can give. Things will be back to normal tomorrow. He's starting to get on my nerves.

I'm taking a workshop on Drop Spindle Spinning this coming Saturday afternoon. I bought a $5 beginner spindle two years ago and spun up a little alpaca and a little sheep's wool. Not enough to even make anything out of really. Then one of my kids brought her drop spinning to work one day and after watching her spin silk into the thinnest most delicate yarn I have ever seen, I was hooked again! So at this year's Alpaca Festival, I purchased a nicer, heavier spindle and some beautiful soysilk fiber which is made from tofu residue-no really! It is! So I want to attend the workshop to get the pro's spin (spin-get it?!?!) on it all and learn how to ply the singles once they are spun. I have a friend that has sheep. How cool would it be to meet the sheep the roving comes from, dye it (the roving, not the sheep....although....), spin it and knit something out of it?! I am such a fiber geek!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Only a 2.5 from the Romanian Judge

I fell in a hole. Heavy sigh. Scott and I went up-country to visit his mother. It was DairyFest weekend. We were walking downtown to see the parade. The streets were all blocked of so we were out on the tar instead of the sidewalk. There was a petting zoo on the right and while I was making cooing noises at the goats, I stumbled, did the some amazing gymnastic moves and then fell in a huge pothole, hitting the far, raggedy-concrete/tar edge with both knees, my left arm and a shoulder. Didn't even come close to sticking that landing! Of course I popped right back up and claimed I was tough, it was alright, hardly hurt at all-blah blah blah. I felt like such an idiot- falling (literally) for the oldest trick in the book . Everyone knows that goats love to distract people to make them fall down. Hardy Har Har. They have a mean sense of humor. Stupid goats.

We continued walking to the parade and then stood for 45 minutes in the sun watching. Everything stung and I was trying to look like I was not trying to brush all the gravel off and survey the damage. We went to a nearby church for lunch and I went to the rest room to check things out. My jeans were stuck to my knees which were both totally shredded with road rash and gashes. Glad I wasn't wearing shorts! My right knee was the size of a grapefruit and mottled purple. The left one was better but not much. After lunch, we walked what seemed like 40 miles to a pie and ice cream social. My jeans were steel-wooling away on the fresh cuts. Then we went geocaching. I was never so happy for a day to end in my life!

By Sunday monring everything had stiffened up so I spent the day taking it easy and making Scott wait on me. After all it was his family that we were visiting and he knows how easily distracted I am by farm animals so it's all his fault! It's certainly not mine...Miss Talent and Coordination 2006!

On a good note, I found my old childhood friend Sarah after a couple of years searching for her. She moved away when we were in Junior High and lives near Dallas now. She got the letter I sent and send me a short email I hope to hear more from here very soon.

Did work more on my socks last night. Both legs are done now so if I have time after mowing the lawn tonight I will start on the heel flaps. I am really grooving on this doing both sock at the same time stuff. I also love the Knit Picks yarn. This is a cotton/wool blend. I like it better than their 100% wool stuff, but that's not bad at all either. I'm a yarn ho. As long as it's pretty colors, or better yet-shiney- I like it. As they'd say back home...'worse than a tame crow'.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Molly Bee-Geocaching Expert

So I went to the Park Commission meeting last night to give my dog and pony show on geocaching. All of this started when I called them in April and asked permission to place a cache is a park near work. No one had placed one in town before and so they needed more details, so I brought them; history of the sport, finding a cache, hiding a cache. I had presentation packets and visual aids. All my ducks were in a row. All to get permission to stash a cache.

It started out great. They all thought it looked like fun and would be a good way to draw people to the area. They were all for me hiding the stash. Then some kind of voo-doo-feng shui-kung-fu-alternate reality happened and I began to question them about their decision. I put enough doubt and lack of clarity on the table that by the time I left I had successfully convinced them to withdraw the permission for my cache to be placed. Somehow I also volunteered to research and draft their guidelines/ permits for future caches, and teach a geocache camp for kids one night in August. I walked back to the car literally stunned. I have no idea how these things happen. I think I black out sometimes. I'd like to meet this other 'Sure!Sign-me-up-I'll-do-it' personality who thinks we has time to do my job, Hospice, house work ...and the work of half of the park commission. Oy!

I've calmed down a bit and decided that the guidelines/permissions stuff will be almost fun. Especially since I intend to snark a lot of the work already done by other towns in the area. But 25 kids, the dark? What was I thinking?!?!?

Sturgeon Bay Speed Racer

I was in Sturgeon Bay over the weekend and went to see the Third Ave Playhouse's matinee of Shooting Star with Doug Mancheski and Amy En...