Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Adventures of Molly Bee and The Thunder King

Today is a weird day at work. All the schools are closed because of the -40° wind chill factor potential and the ice-covered roads from yesterday's storm. Usually when the city school closes, we close. Today however, we are on a 'two hour delay' which has got everyone confused and in a tizzy. Half my kids are out or coming in late. Half of them are supposed to be in a workshop and the other half on the phone. Now it's questionable as to whether we have enough phone coverage... Oh the angst! On and on and on they go. In the midst of the tumult, one of my kids asked me to make coffee. "All hands were on the phones so no one can brew it." They must have been desperate to ask me so, this one time, I said, "Sure! I'll make it".

When THEY make the coffee, they grind their own beans and make a brew called "Black Thunder" . They put in twice the coffee and half the water . The resulting sludge looks, and I suspect tastes, like used 40W motor oil. They are very proud of this fact and swill it all day. Explains a lot. I rummaged around in the drawer and found a sample package of Folger's Vanilla Biscotti, which is what I drink at home sometimes. I put the filter and coffee in and then looked over the more-difficult-than-it-has-to-be-possibly-alien-technology that is the new coffee maker. No indication of how much water to put in anywhere.No measuring device on the pot. No measuring lines in the pot. So I went to one of my kids, who is also one of the head Black Thunder makers, and asked him how to tell how much water goes in. He wanders over to the aforementioned machine. You know, the same one he couldn't go over to a minute ago to actually make a pot, stops short when he sees the froufrou coffee in the filter, sniffs it and says:

THUNDER KING: Uh...yeah...did you smell this?
ME: Yeah! (Enthusiastically) Vanilla Biscotti! My favorite!
THUNDER KING: Uh...yeah...the coffee drinkers in the department usually drink this.
(Points to the clearly marked bag of sludge-making Black Thunder on the coffee table.
ME: I know, but that's gross.
THUNDER KING: No it's not. It's what we drink.
(Tentatively poking at coffee filter and making motions like he's going to remove and dump the Vanilla Biscotti, yet eyeing me to see what I'm going to do if he does. )
ME: It's not what I drink.
THUNDER KING: (Stunned silence. Crickets chirping. Then...) Buuuuuuuutttttt.....
ME: Buuuuuuuutttttt..... I'm. making. the. coffee. (Emphatically!)
THUNDER KING: Uh...yeah...yeah...OK. Pour the water in here to just below the holes that hold the lid on and will make water spill all over the table.
[He knows this, not because he's read the instruction manual (which I rescued from the garbage that first day but has since disappeared) or because he is a scientist and has used visual information to assess it. He knows this because, to date, he has personally poured about 7 pots of water and or coffee all over the table and floor. He's one of those 'must learn by experimenting' kinda scientists.]

Anyway, guess those assertiveness training seminars are working after all. He backed right off. So I filled the department will the comforting smell of Folger's Vanilla Biscotti. I even tried a small amount, but it was awful due to the fact that pot after pot of Black Thunder has been brewed in the months we've had the machine and they have NEVER CLEANED IT. So I dumped it out and got a cup from the vending machine like I always do. The coffee in there's not great but at least the guy comes and cleans the machine once a week. And I just sat back and enjoyed the wafting vanilla scent and the gnashing of teeth I heard over my cubie wall from all of the Black Thunder drinkers who were discovering the pleasure of Folger's for themselves. But they're drinking it. And I'll bet they don't ask me again. Heh Heh Heh! I like to make my own entertainment. It's the little things!


Look! Laura over at Pickin' and Throwin' honored me with this award! What a sweetie! Her blog makes my day too! Thanks Laura!

Here are the award instructions...
"Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times."
Ooo! There are so many! There are some that Laura already chose, Elizabeth, Cindy, and Sus as well as Dale-Harriet, Beth and Peaknits . They are all 'local bloggers'. Then there's Lisa and Mel out in Maine. And Dave in Boston. And Brooke in Ohio. And the list wouldn't be complete without Franklin just south of here in Chicago. Here's to you, Gang! You are a constant source of inspiration and make my day!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

It Wasn't Baaaa-d!!

Lord People, I swear I will eat anything. I ate horse in Kazakhstan. (No, I don’t want to talk about it.) And now I’ve consumed goat at an Indian Restaurant on the West Side (Swagat at the corner of Old Sauk and High Point). And though I am an animal lover and sort of disgusted with myself, I really liked it. Goat just seems in a cuter class than the other animals I consume or something.

Mr. Bee and I had never had Indian food before so we went with friends to try it and one of the dishes at the buffet was curried goat so what was I going to do? I got through it by pretending it was one of the goats responsible for my unfortunate fall into a big hole at the Marshfield Memorial Day Parade a couple of years ago *. [Never let it be said that I will not get even. You won’t know where and you won’t know when Mr. Goat…. But revenge will be mine! Bwaaahahahahah!] . But, that said, I’m drawing the line at house pets. Well, for now. I swear to God if Bentley eats one more coaster I may have to revisit that rule (with fava bean and a nice Chianti!) but for now …goat is as low as I will go on the mammal food chain.

There were lots of things other than goat and I liked most of that too; lots of veggie dishes and though spicy it was just the right amount of spice. I am slowly making friends with chickpeas. They just look like they should be crunchier. Goat was the only ‘exotic’ thing on the menu thank goodness! The food wasn’t hot spice and I didn’t spend the afternoon in ‘the reading room’ afterward, so I’d definitely do Indian cuisine again. The real chai tea from there is to die for!

Then you wanna know what I did? I celebrated SPRING. It’s 32° and sunny today. YAY! After two weeks of cold that would make the penguins in the Antarctic consider migration, it warmed up and the sun came out. We took Ben to the dog park for an hour where he romped with about 6,000 of his closest friends whose humans all had the same idea. Then I came home and went for a WALK! A real one! For thirty minutes! OUTSIDE! I KNOW! Heel goiter be damned! And ya know what else I coughed up the $5.99 and bought me 10 gorgeous hot pink TULIPS at the grocery store too! Put them right on the kitchen table in a light pink vase with my Valentine teapot centerpiece. I really didn’t realize what a cabin-fever crazed grump I had become until today when I feel SO MUCH BETTER!

My mood actually started lifting when I got out for a few hours yesterday afternoon to go to Last Saturday Knitting. I wait for that all month. I love Knit Night at the Sow’s Ear but that has a whole different flavor. There are so many people that it’s like a party atmosphere and it’s hard to hear to talk much. I love Saturday Knitting for just the opposite reason; the smallness of the group, the quiet and the wit and intelligence of the attendees: Elizabeth, Dale-Harriet, Linda, Cindy and Laura. I swear there is no topic we won’t tackle. They are open-minded, thoughtful and generous. What a gift; this lovely group of women. I’m lucky to have stumbled across them and have them in my life.

I finished one of my Mountain color socks and am halfway done with the leg of the other. The Noro Sock yarn is so close to my sweaty little needles I can almost feel it! Can’t wait to get started. BossMan gave me a $25 gift certificate to Borders so I finally went and bought Charlene Schurch’s second sock book. I am salivating over the stitch patterns. Between that and the Vogue Stitchonary…..what to pick? What to pick? We should all have such problems as mine today!

*See post for Monday June 5, 2006

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sock Suicide

I gave him every chance to live. I knew that I had put a PAIR of red basket weave stitch socks in the washer, but when I moved everything over to the dryer, I only pulled one out to hang on the rod to air dry. I HATE when that happens. So I took every piece of clothing out, one at a time, and shook it. No sock. I turned everything inside out. No sock. I turned everything back to the right side. No sock. At that point you start to question your sanity. Did I really see TWO socks when I put everything in the washer? So I checked everywhere that wasn't the laundry room to see if I'd dropped it. I questioned Bentley who has a tendency to lug off wayward socks and coat them with slobbery love. No sock, slimed or otherwise. So I proceeded to convince myself that he wasn't in the washer. This is what he wanted me to do. And all the while he was either hugging the top of the dryer drum with all his might or employing some supernatural sock invisibility technique so that I couldn't save him. Maybe it was his one wish on his birthday cake or the first evening star: "Just don't let her find me this once..."He had a death wish. When the dryer cycle was done, there he was right on top. His felted carcass a mere shadow of his former self. His mate is devastated. My right foot will be cold and I am sad that all of that time and beautiful pattern went to waste. I don't know why you decided that it was your time but I respect your determination to complete your task. Rest in peace Red Basket Weave Stitch Sock....Rest in peace.

I can't even entertain the thought that he may have seen me working on my new Mountain Colors red mini bamboo sock and thought that he was being replaced. I must admit, although the new color is a little Red Hat Society for my taste, it is really soft and I love the pattern but I wanted the new sock to enhance my sock family, not replace anyone in it....

Let this be a lesson for one and all. Pay attention when knitting new socks that your older ones feel loved and in no danger of being ousted from their sock kin so that it never comes to this. And now a moment of silence for Red Basket Weave Stitch sock....

Monday, January 21, 2008

Lotsa Socksa

Since it's too dang cold around these parts to do much, Ben and Bash have decided to spend their days sleeping on the sofa in the sun and dreaming of the tropics...

And Mr. Bee and I have decided that February is 'Finally-Remodel-The-Basement-Storage' month. To that end, we will need to move all of the junk...uh...that is to say...priceless treasure... from the storage area on one side of the basement to (sob) my quilting/yarn storage room on the other side! Given the extensive plans we have for shelf-building, our total lack of knowledge or experience regarding construction matters, the length of time it take either of us to actually get anything accomplished, and our overwhelming lack of enthusiasm about this particular project, I am anticipating the quilt/yarn room will be off limits until at least the end of April when we try to unload....ummmm...I mean...regrettably part with... a lot of said 'priceless treasure' at our neighborhood yard sale extravaganza. So I spent yesterday afternoon picking up and making room to move the storage stuff over and then I gathered up all of the skeins of beautiful sock yarn that I've collected and set to spinnin' it up into cakes. It's gorgeous stuff, but I am so lazy that I will grab a lesser quality, already skeined, ball when looking for a new project. How pathetic. So I made Shaefer-Anne, Jitterbug, Fleece Artist, Sea Silk, Artisan, Socks That Rock and Blackberry Ridge cakes and brought them all upstairs in a knitting bag along with all of my double points. That way I don't have to dig around for supplies amongst all of the 'riches' that will be piled in that room. It's all organized. Smart no? Here is a picture of all of the cakey goodness.

Also meet my newest best friend. This is the book that Mum got me for Christmas (THANKS Mum!) unabashedly showing itself off with my new melted peacock Noro sock yarn (THANKS Donna). The book so TOTALLY ROCKS! It has a ton of stitch patterns; regular, lace, traveling and even some oddities. Armed with this and all of that sock yarn, I should be able to keep myself out of trouble for a little while at least. If I adapt one of the stitch patterns in that book to a sock does that make it 'MY' sock pattern? How does that work? Does anyone know?

While down in the quilt room, I also grabbed my poor bedraggled tiger cross stitch pattern that I started working on 7 years ago now. I put it away in lieu of quilting and then knitting and never got back to it. The pattern is nine full pages long but when it's done it will look like a photograph from a distance. The pattern is VERY detailed. I tried to work on it a bit last night. In the span of 15 short minutes, it made me wonder why I used to like counted cross stitch so much. You work and work and work and there is almost nothing to show at the end of that time. Teeny tiny fussy work. And apparently, my now seven years older eyes aren't as accustomed to counting those linen threads as they used to be. Yikes! I had to wear my purple-rhinestone-old-lady-librarian magnifier specs to see and succeeded in giving myself one heckuva headache in the process. I will finish this if it kills me, but I think now I am going to be ready to part with my extensive cross stitch pattern collection in the yard sale. Don't believe I'll be starting anything new again!

Mr. Bee and I got a recumbent stationary bike this weekend. I haven't been able to walk because of my ankle cyst and Boy Howdy do I need my daily walks! I've been a walker for years now. I need it as much for mental as physical health, if not more so! I've really been missing it and I'll bet Mr. Bee has been too, considering how unbearably crabby I've been this winter. So we got this bike to fill in the gap until the ankle heals; no pounding pressure on one's feet. It's a pretty sweet ride if I do say do. Even has a video game mounted on it with joysticks on the hand grips. The faster and harder you pedal the more advantage you have to win the games. Pretty smart! Given Mr. Bee's love for all things electronic, as well as all games, he ought to be totally paralyzed by Thursday!

You guys should have seen Mr. Bee trying to put the thing together. He was sitting on the floor which put him smack dab in the middle of Bentley and Sebastian's domain and they didn't hesitate to let him know by sitting on his lap (Ben) and climbing all over the parts, rubbing and purring to the top of his lungs (Basher). What should have taken 20 minutes took a whole lot longer what with all of the curiosity, lovin' and overall slobber going on. I was highly amused. Mr. Bee? Not so much. But he took it in stride. The price of having fur babies!
Off to go break into my sock yarn stash and watch TV with the boys.....

PS-The cornmeal chicken I made last night was a success, Mum! I put the recipe over on Molly Bee's Kitchen site! See the link to the left!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Quick Update

My cold is doing much better. Thanks to all for the good wishes and suggested remedies. Mr. Bee now has it as well but we're both getting a little better each day. It's supposed to be -1,000° this weekend so it'll be a good time to hunker down, stay inside, drink lots of tea and finish healing! I even went to get groceries tonight so I don't have to do it this weekend.

We had a belated Christmas last night with friends and they gave me (drum roll please....) NORO SOCK YARN! In my favorite color! Melted peacock! I had just started knitting a pair of red and purple Bear Mountain socks with a new 'mini bamboo' stitch pattern from the Vogue Stitchonary that my Mum got me for Christmas. I was really enjoying it until I got the Noro. Now I'm knitting as fast as I can just to be done with it and get started on my new yarn! I've already got another new stitch pattern picked out!

I also finished spinning up the singles that I've had on Mabel for a while. I couldn't spin for a while because of my ankle but I whipped up the rest of the singles with no apparent problems and have started plying it. Hopefully I'll get some photos up this weekend.

Taking all 16 kids out to lunch tomorrow for a belated holiday bash. Lunch at The Stables at Quivey's Grove and a Yankee Swap gift exchange. I've been arranging temporary phone coverage and all of the other details that will allow us to leave the company grounds for an hour and a half all week long and I'm already exhausted. Shepherding them to and from the restaurant and getting them all to order and eat and swap gifts ought to finish me off. One of the side effects of this stupid virus is extreme fatigue. I doubt if I'll make Knit Night at The Ear tomorrow.

Off to watch the rest of the Mythbusters. I just caught them doing a myth about sneezing with your eyes open that was one of the drop-dead funniest things I've seen in a long time.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Icky Sick Chick

Lordy Y'all, have I been one sick puppy. It started last Saturday with a small code in my node and then evolved into The Cough (echo, echo, echo). Not a namby-pamby little 'ahem', this. The Cough was a spastic-rib-snapping-harbor-seal-like-repetitive-barking nightmare that left me curled up in the fetal position, seeing stars and trying to get some semblance of air into my now inside-out-and-clearly-on-fire lungs. By Tuesday afternoon I was spending half the time scared that I was gonna die and the other half afraid I wouldn't, so Mr. Bee bundled us up and trudged us off to Urgent Care.

The Cough and I stood three people back in line at registration with a massive wad of Puffs Plus trying to be inconspicuous. We failed miserably. We basically cleared the room of all but necessary personnel, who at this point were wondering just how necessary they were really. I got to the head of the registration line quicker than usual as the two folks ahead of me decided that they clearly weren't that ill; broken limbs and massive bleeding from the head be damned. The lady behind the desk looked right into my tear-streaming eyes, waited for me to stop seizing for air, and asked me why I needed to be seen. I croaked, "I think I may be coming down with a little cold." She didn't even crack a smile. She thrust a surgical mask at me, gingerly took my $15 co-pay with a speed I haven't seen from my HMO in a looong time, told me there would be an hour wait, and waved me away from her area with a flick of her wrist. People tend to have no sense of humor when they feel you are capable of giving them The Death Virus at any moment.

The waiting room was packed so Mr. Bee, The Cough and I took the only two seats available in the crowded room. One look at the surgical mask and the lady to my left took her leave to stand across the room and glare at The Cough suspiciously for the next thirty minutes until her name was called. Everyone else bravely held their ground although leaning as far away from us as possible. They occupied their time stealing peeks at the freak in the mask, wincing sympathetically at The Cough, and hanging their heads in guilt when their name was called to go get their hangnail looked at.

Finally it was our turn. We had a peach of a nurse who took my vitals, gamely risking her life to actually touch me with Latex gloves. She slyly whispered several time-proven methods to exorcise The Cough, made the sign of the cross in the air, whispered, "May the Lord Be With You, Child" and scurried out to count her many blessings. A few minutes later, in waltzes Dr. Suav-ay. He strode across the room, hand thrust forward, introducing himself. The Cough took this as an opportunity for one-ups-manship and stepped up to let his presence be known. Dr. Suav-ay stopped coming towards us, withdrew his hand, made a big arc around us and said, "Maybe I'll just wave from over here." Great. We scared a sacred-man-of-the-stethescope.

After searching frantically for some kind of a NASA-inspired, HAZMAT suit and coming up woefully wanting, he settled for over zealously applying liberal quantities of Purell and creating a three-foot buffer zone of safety between the two of us by backing up his rolly stool further and further while he asked me about my symptoms. He discovered the error of this method when he realized that he would actually need to look for The Cough's lair in my ears, nose, and eyes with his magic peeking-into-head-holes thingy. This called for another coat of Purell that looked like it had been applied with a firemen's hose, but God love him, he got in there and looked and even listened to my back and chest to see if he could hear where The Cough was hiding. No luck, so he proclaimed it 'a virus', prescribed some Codeine cough medicine and a bunch of over the counter stuff and told me to 'go home and get better'. Thank Goodness for medical insurance. I would have never thought of any of that on my own. I swear I heard him whisper, "Demon, Be Gone!" as he raced from the room.

I filled the prescription and took some right away. People, we can put a man on the moon and get toothpaste in those little tubes, can we please make medicine that doesn't taste like elixir of hemlock and rat poison? Bleck! PLUS the fact it didn't work and only ticked The Cough off. He spent all night proving how impervious he was to the voodoo potions of the medical community.
Wednesday morning, I felt like I had been lifting refrigerators all day and sounded like someone with a two-cartons-of-unfiltereds-a-day habit. I was about to give up and resign myself to a life of misery, obviously I was working off several incarnations of bad karma, when Mr. Bee saved the day. He went to the gas station on the corner and came back carrying an extra large hot chocolate. Aside from the fact that it was in a styrofoam cup with its own undertow, there didn't seem to be anything extraordinary about it. But I'm telling y'all, it was magical. It instantly soothed my ravaged throat and quelled The Cough for minutes at a time. Eventually enough minutes racked up so that I could actually SLEEP! For the first time in days. I started to gather strength and wrestled The Cough into submission! It's now Friday and I can say with confidence that The Cough has been banished to the Underworld from whence it came. I still have a few battle scars such as the inability to blow my nose because my ribs hurt so bad, and a voice that could actually be a benefit should I decide to enter a 900 number business venture, but overall I think I'm gonna live, People! Which just goes to show you, CHOCOLATE CAN CURE ANYTHING! I've been practicing preventive medicine for years, but will make a concerted effort to up my dosage from now on! I suggest you all do the same!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I Heb A Code In My Node

And precious little time to write between tissue runs, so I'll just post another couple of finished objects. Here are the slipper socks that a friend asked me to make for her and her daughter. The purpley ones are done on size 10's dns and the multicolored are done on eights. Cast on 32 stitches-top down. It was some extra chunky acrylic super soft yarn that she got at Hobby Lobby. They sure knit up quick. And they are sooooo snuggly.

If you look carefully, you can see my penguin jammie pants and new fur lined crocks peeking in there too! Gotta be comfy when you feel crappy and sound like Bea Arthur!
Here are some mittens I made to go with my new purple jacket. The color is off in the photo. It's actually grape purple Dale of Norway. I finished them the night before we went to Maine and they came in handy. I've worn them non-stop since which accounts for the shabbiness in the pictures. Try to imagine them pristine. They were at one point. The pattern is from Knitty.
I like the palms as much as the tops!
Off to snort and blow some more....See ya!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Thrummed Mittens

So much for the post holiday slow down. I've been busier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! I did want to jump on here quick and post a picture of the thrummed mittens I made Mum for Christmas. I knit them out of dark green Cascade and put in thrums from the roving that I got from Sandy's Palette some time ago. Crummy pictures, but I was happy with the results and I think they'll be nice and warm.
Thrummed Mittens
Thrum close up
Does anyone know if Knit Night is this Friday at the Ear? Is anyone going?

Cooper and The Garden Guest

I discovered earlier this summer that finches aren't the only thing that like my thistle seeds. Even though there is a plethora of seeds...