Sunday, April 29, 2007

Maple Leaf Socks and Yard Sale Treasure

Not much time to post. It's been a heckuva weekend, but wanted to post a picture of Mr. Bee's finished Maple Leaf socks and an awesome lighthouse tapestry that I found at a yardsale this weekend for $2! It totally goes in our Master Bedroom!

Went yard sale-ing and to the Alpaca festival on Saturday with friend-D and then Mr. Bee's folks came down from Marshfield way today for a visit so we went to lunch and to see Mr. Bee's new office....and played with Ben of course! Was a nice day. Now I'm going to catch up on laundry!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dog Origami

I stayed home from work today-my cold is at it's peak. It's actually gotten better as today has worn on. But it was a nasty, rainy cold day and both me and Ben had our grump on so we curled up on the sofa and watched daytime t.v.. That's enough to make anyone get better and back to work in a hurry.

Ben is a pretty big guy as you can see by the stretched out picture, but he can fold himself into a pretty small package if it means he gets to share the loveseat with Mommy.

First the back feet....

Then the front feet...

See! I don't take up any room at all!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Old Dogs CAN Learn New Tricks

I picked up a groovy new tip when making Mr. Bee's Maple Socks. (I turned the heel and picked up the gusset on the first one tonight so pictures will come soon I swear-maybe even on the lovely Mr. Bee's muscular calf!) When casting on socks or mittens or anything where you want a loose cast on, hold two needles together and cast the stitches over both. Once you have cast all of them on, remove one needle. Wa-la! Perfectly loose cast on stitches all the same size to divide as you see fit! What? You already knew that? Well why didn't someone tell me? Come on! Must I learn everything on the streets?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Crazy Aunt Purl's New Book!!!!

I feel like crap on a cracker today! My big boss came in hacking, wheezing, coughing, and rasping all over us last week and now I have it. She claimed it was allergies…yeah right! I’m so tired I can’t keep my eyes open, my throat burns and the glands in my neck are swollen and painful. Got to love working in an open office environment! If you have the sick days, use ‘em, People!

There is good news today! I was visiting Crazy Aunt Purl’s site and discovered that she wrote herself a book! It’s called ‘Drunk, Divorced and Covered In Cat Hair’ by Laurie Perry and is about her experiences after her divorce and how she started knitting to soothe her panicked soul. If it’s even a schmidge as hysterical as her blog, it will be worth its weight in gold! I can’t wait! And it’s scheduled to come out on October 15th! Happy Birthday to me!

I still haven’t taken a picture of Mr. Bee’s Maple Leaf socks but I will. It’s a really neat pattern where you make holes for a few rows and then pull loops through them to make a leaf pattern. I’m sure it would be easier to knit if I actually paid attention to what I was doing….but we all know that’s not how I roll! I started them at Knit Night because I thought the Branching Out scarf I was working on was too complicated to follow there. I am too much of a social butterfly to pay any sort of heed to a chart. I knit quite a bit on Friday night but the light of day proved that I didn’t do as well as I thought at it. The leaves turned out a lot like the ones on my ‘Violets by the River’ shawl; some had two petals, some had three, some had seven. By the end of the shawl class I was calling it the ‘Three Mile Island’ shawl because of its inherent genetic abnormalities. The maples leaves must have grown up in the same area because some of them were a little …unique…themselves. So I tore back almost all the way to the ribbing cuff (at least I did that right) and started again Saturday night. I have most of one leg done. Have to figure out a way to photograph it so that the leaves show….

Anyway, must get back to my duties. It’s Administrative Professional’s Week so I should at least look like I want to be here!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pretty Kitties

Two posts in one day! We went to the Valley Of The Kings today to see the rescued lions, tigers and (yes) bears as well as the horses, pigs, camel, cougars, panther, wolves, foxes and goats. What an amazing place. What an amazing bunch of folks that give their time and money to take care of them all. All of the animals are well fed and well cared for now although many bear the battle scars of their lives before coming to the sanctuary. There are over fifty big cats. The stories of how they got there are so tragic. It angers me so much to think about how humans can be so mean and ignorant.

This is a picture of my favorite lion sunning herself. It's also my new background on my desktop.

This absolutely gorgeous fellow is Charlie. A Hollywood handler had all of his claws and teeth removed so that he would be safer to work with. Now he can't have any companions because he can't defend himself in skirmishes and he has to have a special diet because he can't chew. There are no limits when it comes to entertainment I guess.

These two lions came with 8 others from a zoo in Mississippi that abused them. One of them got really aggressive and had to be neutered. So he doesn't have a mane anymore even though he is a huge male. They were all enjoying the sun and 80° temperatures. And whenever a Harley motorcycle went by out on the road, they would all lay on the ground and roar; too comfy to get up. Apparently Harley's sound like lions so they always greet them when they go by.

This is a poor picture of Jasmine, but she and her brother are cinnamon tigers, which I'd never heard of. The only black on her is a little tiny bit on the tip of her tail. Her stripes are all pumpkin, rust and cinnamon. I wish I had gotten a better shot of her face. Her markings are spectacular.
This isn't the tiger we got to actually touch through the fence but he was just as friendly. Next time we go down, we can bring chicken to feed them through the chain link. You can only get about 3 feet away and lean over a fence unless you are a volunteer due to some new FDA regulations. We got to sneak in and pat a tiger that was in the barn where there was no railing. She rubbed along the fence to be petted just like a house cat. I even got a 'chuff' or two which is a tiger's way of saying you're her pal. I was really flattered! We got to pat wolves too as well as feed a huge camel named Chewy and two blind horses.

They also have a liger; half lion and half tiger but he was feeling particularly shy and we didn't get to see him. Hopefully next time.

We were really impressed with how well the animals are all taken care of although it is obvious that there is a big lack of funds. Local farmers bring dead livestock and the game wardens bring deer that have been struck by cars. This helps on the food bill. (People have dropped off live goats, pigs and geese for food, but the owners won't kill anything to feed the animals so all of these orphans have a home there too. ) All the rest depends on donations; money for pens, feed, medicines, transportation, and veterinary care. Mr. Bee is all gung-ho to think of a way to raise $$ for all of 'his' new furbabies. It was a very successful birthday gift!

At Last!!!

At last, spring has sprung. Yesterday it was 70°. Mr. Bee and I had the day off and we rambled far and wide in the beautiful spring weather. Our magnolia burst into bloom. All was well with the world.

I went to Knit Night at The Sow's Ear last night. It was jam packed. We all had a great time. There was a Knitters' Craft Fair in the back room that featured beautiful hand-made knitting baskets, jewelry, and gorgeous, glass, knitting needles. I didn't get any of the needles because with my penchant for throwing things. I figured they'd just make me even more of a danger to myself and others, but they were works or art that's for sure. A knitting friend said that they should be made into a beautiful mobile rather than be used for knitting!

I managed to stay up late with the big kids and got a huge chunk of Mr. Bee's boot socks done. I am using the Maple Leaf pattern from the Men Knits Winter 06 magazine. It's really that is to say.....handsome in every manly way. (Mr. Bee wouldn't stoop to wearing 'pretty' socks.) and easy to knit although there is an error in the pattern (omit row 17-It's an 18 row repeat-not a 19 row one). I'll try and get a photo of it for tomorrow's blog.

Mr. Bee and I are headed to the Lake Geneva area to see his lions and tigers. Hope to have pictures of them tomorrow too...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Mr. Bee!

YAY! It's Mr. Bee's birthday!!!!! He opened his gifts this morning. I got him a membership to Valley Of The Kings Large Cat Sanctuary and Retreat in Sharon, WI. They rescue tigers and lions and other large exotics from zoos and other places where they are mistreated or not properly taken care of. They live out the remainder of their lives being safe and cared for at the sanctuary.

Mr. Bee LOVES tigers. Now he can go visit them any weekend for the next year! They have work days when you can help with building pens etc. if you're interested or he can just visit. You can take friends and family with you. It's not open to the public unless you're a member. I've been so excited about this because not many folks seem to have heard about it and it's such a unique opportunity for him to get face time and help out with his favorite animals. We are going on Saturday to visit for the first time and see what it's all about. He was so happy he teared up. And around here it's not a successful birthday until someone cries! :-)

Tonight we are going to Takara birthday sushi for supper . Then I have to come home and tear out a large portion of the latest Branching Out scarf that I've been knitting because last night I had too many stitches, tore back a few rows and then restarted on the wrong row so I have about 5 rows with branches and leaves that look like they must have been planted really close to Chernobyl and then about 30 perfect rows after that. That's what you get for watching 'Bones' and knitting at the same time!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Polite Puppies and B-Day Surprises

Since I joined the "Purling Puppies' web ring today, here is a gratuitous picture of Bentley practicing his 'Polite Puppies Wait To Be Invited To Go Outside' command. It just about kills him when he can hear other dogs and kids outside, but he does it! I wish you could hear the 'poor, pathetic, me' whining!

So I told Mr. Bee to keep this Saturday open; that we would be taking a trip for his birthday. I wouldn't tell him where or when or why-'cause it's a surprise. So he says to keep October 14th open because he 'already has my birthday present.' I mean it's cool that he thinks so far ahead, but to torture me with it for 6 months in advance seems a little mean! So I've been guessing (which is what he wants me to do) big things like my new car will be delivered to the house that day, or we will be jetting off to Ireland for a month. So far I haven't guessed it! ;-)

Watched 'Drive' on FOX last night. We've been looking forward to it since we saw the ads weeks ago. We are both HUGE Nathan Fillion fans. I was riveted for 2 hours and there is another hour on tonight. Doesn't get much better than that! It's a really smart show that makes you think. Not many of those on now. The other one we really like is Raines with Jeff Goldblum. We are going to tape a special on National Geographic tonight about a man who rehabilitates wolves. Supposedly he lives with them, acts like them and teaches them to survive in the wild.

Have been keeping tabs on the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech. On the way home to lunch I said to Mr. Bee, "They should be looking for a young Asian male. I don't know why, that's just what I see when I imagine how it happened." Sure enough, we get home and turn on MSNBC and find that the shooter was a young Asian male. Spooky. I've done this several times when big news stories hit-like the time when that mom said she'd been carjacked but had actually rolled her car into a lake with her two, toddler boys still in their car seats. I knew they were in the water. And when a UW student went missing this winter, I knew he was under the ice. Weird huh? Freaks Mr. Bee out that's for sure! Maybe I can tell him to stop teasing me...I already KNOW what my birthday gift is. Don't worry Mr. Bee. It doesn't work that way!

Talked to Mum back in Maine this noon. They are getting wet snow, sleet and slop...again. I really don't miss the long Maine winters. Wisconsin ones are enough thanks. I actually saw a neighbor guy out mowing his lawn yesterday. That wasn't such a big deal, it did need to be mowed. What was funny was watching him push his mower through the little piles snow that were still left on the shady side lawn! Now that's pushing spring! Funny how guys get so gung-ho to mow the first couple if times and then the novelty wears off and it's like pulling teeth by the end of the season!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Quilt To Do List

Finally finished my 'Cardinals In Maine Pines' quilt! Each cardinal is appliqued on and has embroidered pine branches and bead work under it. That's what took so long. But it was apropos that just as I finished it, I could hear two male cardinals battling for territory in the back yard.

So after I finished I was itching to see what I could start next. I went downstairs to poke around my quilty kingdom and found that I need to :

Rip out all of the machine quilting I did on my 'Robbing Peter to Pay Jack' quilt. I really muffed it and there are a lot of warps so it's back to the drawing board on that one.

Tack all of my elements down on 'Mattawamkeag Lake Landscape', put a border on, batt and quilt it.

Finish machine quilting the 'Loons In The Cove' wall hanging.

And last but not least, batt, back and tack this Dutchman's Puzzle couch throw. I guess I won't be starting anything new for a while even though I have eleventy-million ideas.

Today is too nice for quilting. We took Ben to the dog park for a bit where he was an absolute goofball. Seems like all of Dane County had the same idea and it was a dog circus out there. He ditched us right off the bat to play with this 47 billion new friends. He had a great time and is now laying exhausted in the middle of the living room fast asleep.

This week will be a busy one; Tuesday I'm having dinner with the long absent Mrs. M. We haven't caught up in a while so it will be nice to have a sit down with her. Wednesday it's doggie school for Bentley. Walking only since he knows the basic stuff, just not how to leash walk so well. He's getting better but we are looking for more tips. Thursday is Mr. Bee's birthday. I have a really cool gift and can hardly contain myself. He has chosen Takara for dinner so sushi it is! Then we have Friday off just as a day to play together. We usually do this one day in the spring. Then Saturday I am whisking Mr. Bee off to actually see his birthday gift. Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait!!!!! I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Guess I'll go take a nap in the middle of the living room floor with Ben!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ben The Snow Eating Dog and The Blue Man Group

It’s snowing this morning. We could get 7-10 inches before it stops. Looks like summer will be held from 2:00-4:00PM on July 9th this year! We’re both tired or cold and shoveling. I came into the kitchen this morning and saw Mr. Bee standing by the sliding glass door watching Big Doggie out on the deck. He stood there for quite and I started to get concerned:

ME: Whatcha doin’?
MR. BEE (dispassionately): Watching Bentley eat snow.
ME: You know it’s probably not that great for him to eat a lot of snow.
MR. BEE: I know… but he’s almost finished with the deck.

I fully expect Mr. Bee to let him have a go the driveway after work!

We went with friends to see the Blue Man Group at The Kohl Center last night. I didn’t like the opening act at all. He was one of those young-whipper-snapper-record-scratching guys. Those of us that grew up counting on vinyl for our tunes were highly agitated. You remember the days….sitting around with friends, listening to the latest Arrowsmith LP….someone bumps the hi-fi (yes, I said hi-fi, I’m that old) and the phonograph needle skitters across the record. Remember the sound? Remember how everyone in the room cringed like Freddy Krueger had just run his nails down a blackboard. Yeah…well, I maintained that face for over 25 minutes as song after song was scratched and mutilated. And it was so LOUD!!!!!! I found it hard to complain incessantly to my friends about it over the thundering cacophony. But the younger folks all seemed to be grooving so I guess he was good at it. I just wish he had invested as much time and money in music lessons as he did in all of his electronic gadgetry. Then we could have all been treated to a nice, sedate violin or piano solo instead. God. I’m. Old.

But the Blue Man Group was really good. They made it look like so much fun and I was so enthused that I came in the morning and told my boss that I was giving two weeks notice so I could shave my head, paint it blue and beat on PVC piping for a living. I didn’t know you could get such great sounds out of plastic pipes and hoses. There was a lot of visual stuff too: lasers and video as well as sight gags. It was very smart and very current for a band that’s over 20 years old.

The next to the last song was a slower piece that was a tribute to 9/11. They gathered a bunch of charred papers that fell from the sky near their New York studio and made them into a video. You’d see paper falling on the screen and then a close up of one of the actual documents; sales receipts, calendar pages, memos-all burned and torn. It was very moving. But aside from that it was fast, loud, rock music; heavy on the percussion and I loved every minute of it. Maybe I’m not so old after all!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Stinking Socks and Slobbery Geodogs

They're done! They're done! The Stinking Socks are done!
I've been glad to get projects done before but never so much as these socks made with that stinking yarn!
Now that I've done my little Snoopy Dance...
Happy Easter Everyone! Hope everyone survived the ham overload and all of the kids and their sugar highs. We kept it low key this year. We went to Quivey's Grove for a wonderful Easter Brunch with friends D and T. Then they came over to meet our newest furbaby. He was his delightful-please-please-won'tcha-snuggle-me self. They did and he rewarded them with slobbering all over their Easter finery. Ah...puppy love. Sometimes it's soggy going.
We cleaned in the basement some and then took a break and went to Mount Horeb to score a geocache. It was to be Ben's first adventure as 'GeoDog' so we got all of our winter duds on since it's in the 30°s, got the cache coordinates loaded in the GPS. Got new batteries in the camera. (Gotta document his first treasure hunt for posterity!) Put the dog blanket in the back seat, grabbed his leash and water dish, hit the road and drove 15 miles. Got to the spot...........and discovered that the cache was only 20 feet from the car. Heavy sigh....Turns out this was not Ben's first geocache. But is was the first time he ever sat in the car and watched Mommy and Daddy scrounge in the shrubby by a parking lot. Yeah. We didn't get photo documentation.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Small Small World

A new guy started at work today. I found out he was from Maine so I went over to introduce myself. He's originally from Iowa but we both attended UMO and he stayed on for seven years. I told him that I was from The County. Turns out he worked at the greenhouses that are right next to my Mum's house. How cool is that! It really is a small world!

Made me a little homesick though so I dug out my new favorite cookbook 'Recipes from a Small Island'. It's by Linda Greenlaw. She was the swordfish boat captain from the book/movie "A Perfect Storm. She lives on Isle Au Haut, Maine now and she and her mum wrote this cookbook together. I scrounged up all of the ingredients and rationed out one of my tins of Maine blueberries and made the blueberry cupcakes with lemon glaze. They smell heavenly. Mr. Bee had his gaming group, The Noisy Boys, over tonight, so as soon as they cool, I will take some down to the depths of their basement lair and try them out on them. Will let you know the reviews!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Book Recommendations

I got the most fascinating book from the library tonight. I've skimmed it and am now settling down to really get into it. It is Traditional Knitting by Michael Pearson. It's out of print now I think and it looks like used copies online are pretty spendy. I am fortunate to have stumbled on it at the library. Pearson traveled all around the remote fishing villages of Eastern Scotland, and Northern England to document traditional knitting patterns. The book is full of wonderful history and photos of gansey and Fair Isle patterns. If you are intereted in ganseys (my new pet interest) this is a definite read. Not sure how reliable it would be in the way of the patterns but the history is amazing!

In the fiction realm, I am almost finished with Spin by Robert Charles Wilson. I'm not a SciFi fan per se, but this is a GREAT book. It's futuristic earth so there are no funky aliens from weird planets in imaginary galaxies or fairies riding unicorns or anything. I have just sucked this book down. I highly recommend checking Amazon to at least read the blurb about it. Really good!

Next up is a book called 'I, Mona Lisa'. Sounds facinating!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hard Old Day

Today is a hard day. My Dad died of cancer on April 1, 1999. Most of the time it seems 100 years ago, but on April 1st and November 1st (his b-day) it seems like yesterday and all the old feelings come back; good and bad. I miss him terribly. Cancer is a horrible, evil, awful thing. No one should have to go through that-ever.

Horrendous storms rolled through last night spawning tornadoes. I hate when they come at night. If you can see it coming it's not so scary somehow. Thank goodness for the advances in weather technology. Our local news guy can pinpoint bad weather to street level but the nighttime ones are still the worst for me. One of the tornadoes last night was about 10 minutes away.

Today is cold and windy and rainy to make the day even more bleak, so I decided to clean my quilt room and work a little more on my Eleanor Burns quilt. It's from her Quilts For All Seasons Book. It's still in progress so forgive the wrinkles. It gets pretty mussed up due to all of the hand work. There are cardinal blocks which are appliqued and hand embroidered and pieced pine tree blocks.

My quilt room is in the basement and it's dark out today as well, but people have learned not to expect stellar photos from me by now haven't you?

Also here is a photo of one the sucky socks I finally finished. I'm almost through the leg on the other one. I couldn't nail down the stripe pattern either. It's not regular so I can't make identical socks. They will be really fraternal.

DaVinci DaVotion and Lunchtime Luck

Although a lot of other groovy stuff happened, the main reason for going to the Mississippi River Museum was to see the traveling DaVinci e...