Friday, February 27, 2009

Weird Science With Doug The Applications Scientist

If ya’ll have wondered where I've been, and felt a not-so-subtle shift in The Force this week, it’s because I have been in The Lab (echo, echo,echo). I’m a weird kinda cat, I am. I love all things science-y. Back in the day, I considered going to school and working at Jackson Labs in Bah Hahbah, doncha know. I watch the Discovery, TLC, National Geographic, History and Science channels voraciously. I love articles in the news about science discoveries. Love it! Love it! Love it! I’m very curious about the guts of things and how they work.

That said, I suck at math, have no concept of spacial relationships, very little inkling of abstract ideas, sport a wicked nervous tic and lack any kind of attention to detail. I’m more of an artsy-fartsy-big-picture kinda girl...with a wicked nervous tic. Those things, along with the fact that, due to my lack of patience, I am perfectly OK with quickly writing things off as 'happening by magic', makes me the world's worst candidate for any kind of futzy lab work. And yet, it’s been one of my goals to spend a little time in the lab, seeing how our products work so I’ll have a minutely better understanding of the chatter that goes on in the department all day long.

This week, the moons aligned, Doug The Applications Scientist drew the short straw, and I spent a couple of days ‘helping’ (Oh, my but is that word used loosely!) him in the lab. I LOVED it! Get this! I helped find bacteria in dirt! I know! Who knew right? Bacteria is dirty and dirt is bacteria-y. [Don’t steal that line! It’s mine. I’ll be publishing a paper soon!] Obviously Doug has reasons for doing this kind of thing that I can’t possibly fathom (see 'lack of attention to detail' in previous paragraph), but I got to help mix stuff up all mad scientist like, run PCR (just like on CSI, People!) and electrophoresis gels. We got to go in the darkroom and take pictures of things that mysteriously glowed. I got to wear nerdy goggles and purple rubber gloves! Wheeee!

I’m guessing with all of my stupid questions and observations, the ride wasn’t quite so much fun for Doug The Applications Scientist. I think I managed to take two one-hour experiments and turn them into 2 day-long events….Let’s just say I like to do my pipette calibrations vvvvveeeerrrryyyyy sssssllllooooowwwwwllllyyyy. But given the facts that I didn’t do any physical harm to myself (or more importantly, to Doug The Applications Scientist), the building didn’t have to be evacuated even once, and no mushroom clouds were reported over the greater Metropolitan area; he ought to be OK after a couple of martinis, a couple of weeks vacation and just a skooch of professional counseling. So THANKS, Doug The Applications Scientist! I had a great time, learned a lot and best of all, your extreme patience ensured that I didn't give a totally new meaning to the 'She Blinded Me With Science' song! You Rock!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oh Yeah! I'm A Rock Star!!!

So the cable thingie caused by the mistake in the sweater pattern directions was bothering me. I talked to my knitting guru at work and she said that it could be undone and fixed. I got a little weak in the knees and told her that while I redid a 3 strand cable twist, I didn't feel that I could undo and redo a 6 stitch cable that was wrong from the get-go; twenty or so rows back. She showed me how she would do it and told me that I could call her crying if I needed to, but to give 'er the old college try so I sucked it up, settled in and tried it and I DID IT. Holy crap! Who'da thunk?

Now you veteran knitters are poopooing me because this is old hat to you, but me and some of the frosh crowd are scared to death of cables. They are magical, mystical things. You follow the cryptic directions and use the enchanted little stick thingie and and they just one knows how. So, Vets, you may want just wander off and grab a cuppa while I prattle on a spell. And Mum, you might want to make yourself a mint julep and get a hand fan because you're about to have the vapors when you get a load of this! Here is my little badly shot photo essay called "Fixing The Big Scary Cable That I Didn't Think Could Be Fixed But Lynn Said It Could So I Tried It and I Did It. I Rock" by me, Molly Bee.

(Be sure and bigify so you can get the full benefit of my truly horrendous photography skills. Why do I insist on doing this crap in the dark?!)

Here we have Exhibit A. The back of the sweater. The pattern was written correctly so the 6 strand cables frame the honeycomb. Unfortunately the two in the front both went in the same direction. What's a girl to do?
That's right! I took 'er clear back to the neck ribbing! Cowabunga!
With a fortifying snort o' Zinfandel (which may or may not have been a good idea, depending on which camp you're in on that kinda thing) I set about twisting the cable the other way round. And guess what! It worked! I didn't call Lynn crying once!
I redid the entire thing with two sock needles and adjusted the tension as I went. 'Cause the sock needles are twos and the sweater needles are sevens. Don't ask me how long it took me to figure that out. Couldn't fathom where all the extra yarn was coming from. So there you have it, if I can do it then ABSOLUTELY ANYONE can.

Oh, yeah and I've been fiddling with Piknik a bit! :-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

You Know, You Use Your Thumb More Than You'd Think....

Had to stay home Friday since I have a sinus and ear infection so I missed Knit Night at The Sow's Ear. The Ravelry thread sounded like they were winding up for quite the evening of mayhem and debauchery too. Sheesh. I missed all the fun.

I slept all day and all night Friday. I thought for sure I had contracted narcolepsy. But then on Saturday I felt a wee bit better and so puttered around the house, made a bread pudding and worked on my sweater.
I got the upper back finished (down to the arm pits) and have started the front. The front isn't worked on one big piece like the back. It's worked in a left and right section and then joined below the neck. I learned a new technique, wrapping stitches. The instructions were a little confusing, but I got it. Now I have to knit that to match the back. Then the rest of the body is joined in the round and knit down to the bottom ribbing. I was dissappointed that there were a couple of errors in the pattern. On the back, there is a right twist six stitch cable on one side of the honeycomb and then a left twist one on the other. I didn't realize until I was finishing stitching last night that the error in the pattern makes both six stitch cables twist in the same direction on the front. It'll look OK I guess, but it won't match the back. As long as no one sees me coming and going I guess I'll be OK.

I'll have to put the sweater aside for a while. Ben yanked his leash out of my frozen hands this morning and I have a huge, deep bruise on the pad of my right thumb. Doesn't sound like much until you try to do ANYTHING, and realize how much you use your thumb! He's in the doghouse right now and he knows it.

Off to lunch and a Wallis and Gromit flick at a friend's and then have hurry home, pick up Ben and go to Make Your Own Pizza Night at another friend's. It's getting so I don't have to cook much on weekends lately. I'm a lucky girl! Good think I dont' have to make ThumbPrint cookies!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bath Time And Bed Time With Bentley

I hosted Craft Night at my house last night. Two friends from work came by as did KittyMommy. A third friend from work broke her ankle and so she couldn't make it, but sent her beagle, Reddy, instead. She needed a little respite and so Ben provided Doggie Day Care for her pup while we girls sat knitting and visiting. Isn't Reddy a handsome little guy? Just look at those come hither eyes!

First they rough-housed a while:
...and then Ben got down to business giving Reddy a two hour bath which, although it grossed the rest of us out (the slurping-YUCK!), Reddy seemed to enjoy...especially getting his ears done.

After Reddy went home, Ben was exhaused from his efforts-not to mentioned parched and a quart low apparently...he drank an entire dish of water ! Then he had a little sit down on the sofa...

...before settling down for a much deserved nap


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Celtic Knots Under The Sea

I went to see 'Under The Sea 3-D' at IMAX last weekend. I've been waiting and waiting for it to get here since I saw the preview in December. I loved the other 3-D documentary I saw last year and I was not disappointed with this one. It SO ROCKED! Oh, there were a couple of uncomfortable moments when my lap was full of poisonous sea snakes, but other than that I was totally enthralled.
As an ocean lover with a healthy fear of sharks and drowning (and after this film, Garden Eels which I heretofore hadn't know existed-CREEPY!) this was the perfect way for me to scuba through coral reefs and frolic with fish, sea lions and whales. And since I am infinitely more appealing in my jeans and jacket than I am in a wet suit, it was a win-win situation. It was so realistic that at one point I was convinced that I had discovered yet another superpower; breathing under water with no gear! This, combined with my current superpowers of taking off my socks without using my hands, ability to eat tall stacks of chocolate in a single sitting and achieving complete invisibility when trying to get someone to wait on me at Shopko, had me pondering what color cape I should make myself. [Uh, that's not true. We all know it would be purple satin with copious amounts of glitter and Bedazzle gems.] At any rate, run, don't walk to this wonderful 40 minute treat. Jim Carey narrates and that concerned me at first but he was wonderful and I didn't get sick; sea, 3-d or otherwise.

I don't know if I mentioned it before, but in lieu of New Year's resolutions, I pick something to study and learn each year. This year, I am putting a concerted effort into learning to draw Celtic Knots. Must be all the cables I've been doing recently. I'm starting out with the easy ones, and I've found a new guide that actually makes sense. I've used someinstructions in the past that basically instruct you to build a time machine, go back to Celtic civilization, become a monk and learn from the originals but this new book is way better. Here is one of the first ones. Go easy, it's only been a few days....Sorry about the flash burn...
Maybe I'll get better at it by St. Patrick's Day. But if you get a wonky, lopsided Celtic Knot on your St. Paddy's card from me, you'll know I haven't quite completed my Tardis just yet.
The banana wontons met with rave reviews. They are best completely cooled thought-there is something decidedly unappealing about hot mashed bananas, even if there is chocolate involved. There were so much fun to make that now I want all of my food wrapped in tiny, tidy wonton packets. I've been thinking about several combos for the future:
  • a few fresh raspberries or blueberries sprinkled with sugar
  • thin diced apples drizzled with honey
  • that pre-made Philly cheesecake stuff in the dairy section at the supermarket-maybe with a Hershey's Kiss in the middle
And I think glazing them with a simple powdered sugar glaze or drizzling them with melted chocolate would work well.
For you Bentley fans, he's been doing well-really enjoying the spring-like weather; so many new things to sniff, so many new things to pee on. He's made several new friends in the hood-mostly little ones. He loves all dogs but it's fun to see him so extra gentle with the wee ones. He loves to kiss them a lot, which must be like getting hit with a big, warm, Milk Bone flavored tsunami when you are a Lhasa Apso, but they tolerate it very well. And they tend to run him ragged. All that playing makes Bentley's very, very sleepy...
He likes to sleep with all of his feet on one big pile where he can see them. "Foot count. One? Here! Two? Here! Three? Here! Four? Here! Whew! Good! ZZZZzzzzz."

There has been knitting. I've been working on my sweater. I'll put another project pic up when I finish the upper back part that I'm working on now. Only about 4 more inches to go. I'll have to put it down for an hour or so to make a pair of mini mittens. I had a little cushion towards my one pair per week goal, but now that I'm obsessed with the crack sweater (which I've renamed the Sugar Camp Sweater since the snowshoe cable and the honey comb remind me of maple sugar season up in Aroostook County. That and the fact that, for me, sugar of any kind=crack...) My knit time per pair is down to a little over an hour now, but even 30 minutes without crack is painful. We are talking major cable obsession here!

I'll leave you with a couple of things I heard at work that amused me last week:
  • Upon hearing that Window's Outlook was painfully slow and crashing left and right, one of the kids declared, "Outlook is grim..."
  • Someone bought a new coffee bean grinder because the old one didn't pulverize. That is to say it 'didn't work for beans'....

Yeah, that's what keeps me going back to work every day...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Big Ball of Domesticity and The Crack Sweater

Yeah...well...the best laid plans and all that...I decided not to go to Rainbow Fleece Farms after all today. I'm in a spendy mood today and I could get in a whole heap 'o trouble in the yarn barn down there. Best not to poke at The Fates too much, so I decided to do some chores around the house and run some errands in the hopes that I will have all day tomorrow to goof off. I took Ben for a loooong walk, went to the grocer, baked some goodies, and did laundry; all the things a good little girl must do in order to not feel guilty while she spends tomorrow reading the paper, doing the crossword and going to the movies!

I baked Banana Chocolate Chip Wontons. I saw them on TV and then looked on the net for a recipe and then finally tinkered up one of my own. They are good-not too to make. I have a friend coming over later so I'll test them out and will see what the opinion is there. The recipe's over on Molly Bee's Kitchen.

I have also been working on my sweater as my hands will allow. I overdid it a bit last night, insisting on knitting even after my hands totally fell asleep.This was after receiving excellent advice from Mrs. Sable not to do so. And she's been there and done that so you'd think I would listen... but the lure of the Crack Sweater was too great. It's been so long since I did anything but mindless knitting that I am so grooving on this pattern. I accidentally knit through an entire episode of 'What Not To Wear' before I remembered that I hate that show, such was the concentration!
It's not easy to take her picture; the Crack Sweater, she is elusive. The wire on the circ that I am using is made out of some industrial strength Flubber Stuff and will not uncurl and lay flat no matter how much I swear at it (and I tested the very limits of swearing lemme tell ya) but you get the general idea.

Here's a little bit of a closeup. Anyway. My friend is due to arrive soon so I'd better git going. Hope you all are having a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

One Step Forward Two Steps Back/Will I Be My Valentine?

I spent the last week working on my sweater. As of this moment it looks exactly like the top picture of my last post. What happened was, I picked up the stitches for the back and knit almost ten inches of it when I decided that I didn’t like the openness of the fabric. I was knitting the large size and to get gauge, I had to knit it on 8’s (the pattern called for 7’s). So I ripped it all out and started making it over in the XL size on size 7 needles. I hope that does the trick because I like the pattern/fabric so much better on 7s; not so sloppy looking.

I also changed from bamboo needles to metals which is making a world of difference on the ease of knitting. The bamboo was awful sticky and the ends aren’t pointy enough. Adis are much better. Especially in light of the fact that I ended up getting splints for carpel tunnel yesterday. I’ve been waking up every morning for the last month or so unable to turn off my alarm because my hands are two cement blocks on the ends of my arms. Kinda like trying to toggle the button with a coupla dead fish. It was amusing at first, then it became scary because, ya’ll know me, carpel tunnel never crossed my mind, my hypochondriacally bent mind went right to ‘hand cancer’. But no….some kind of repetitive motion says Doc W….oh I dunno maybe blogging, knitting, drawing, computing, (------- fill in that blank with all of the other things I do that make my life worth living)…has wreaked havoc on my poor wrists. But as you can tell by this blog entry about me working on my sweater, I’m not exactly slowing down much….I am wearing the stylish hand frocks to bed though and last night at least it helped tremendously. They aren’t a beautiful as the boot but still….with my XXL men’s t-shirt, penguin jammie pants, and multicolored wool socks, I can work it baby! It’s a bold fashion statement whose time has come!

As usual, my social calendar runneth over….Last weekend was jam packed; Knit Night on Friday night and then lunches, coffee, dinners and games with assorted friends, old and new on Saturday and Sunday. Last night was Dishcloth Night at the Ear although I left early because I was too grumpy to be tolerable. I have a friend coming over for supper tonight. I whipped up a Shepherd’s Pie last night so all I have to do is stick it in the oven. I’m making Oreo Truffles for friends, neighbors and the kids Thursday night and then on Friday I have lunch date. Whew!

Saturday is Valentine’s Day. It used to be my favorite holiday. It was the anniversary of when Mr. Bee and I met and I just liked the concept of having a day to lavish more attention on him than I already did. Yeah. Well. That ship has sailed. This year the day is irritating the hell out of me. I can’t believe how much mush there is out there including a Hallmark commercial that has a card that plays our song and runs approximately every 15 seconds all evening long. And I’m not supposed to eat chocolate either! Oy!

I’ve decided that this VD is a time to lavish attention on ME. I’m going to Rainbow Fleece Fiber Farms to see baby lambs. I’m going shopping for some spring clothes and I have date with a bubble bath and a good book! I’m going to make myself a meal that includes asparagus and fresh strawberries. I may even take me to a movie (That new 'Under The Sea' IMAX 3D movie comes out this weekend)… but I won’t put out afterwards...not on the first date…what kind of girl do you think I am? Since VD is on a Saturday, I may even make a weekend of it! Especially since a friend loaned me her Blackpool DVD’s OMG! Too funny! I could spend the entire weekend just watching that! And of course the whole thing will be liberally sprinkled with puppy smooches and strolls!

So for all of you out there who DO have a Valentine this year, snuggle them, cuddle them, lavish them with chocolate and be aware of how truly blessed you are. And for all of you who don’t have one this year, be your own Valentine! Love yourself enough to do something special just for you!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Molly Bee Watches Too Much TLC, Craves Lobster, And Would Like To Know Where You Are Going

An Open Letter To The People With 160# Tumors:
For the love of God, how did it get to be 'The 160# Tumor'? Couldn't it just as easily have been 'The One Pound Tumor'? Or 'The Five Pound Tumor'? Or even 'The Ten Pound Tumor'-if it was in a place where it wasn't easily detected? Look, I'm all for procrastination and all, but when the tumor starts to weight more than you, you may have pushed that envelope a little too far! Just sayin'....
Molly Bee, Who May Need Therapy After Watching The Documentary On Your Surgery
An Open Letter to The Sloppy Lobster Seafood Market:
My friends and I went to your deli at noon for lunch yesterday. I had been gearing up for a lobster roll all week. When we arrived, the sign on door claimed that you were open from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM and yet the door was locked, the lights were off and no one was home. So we went to the restaurant next door where I had a toasted cheese sandwich. Although it was a fine toasted cheese sandwich (made with Gruyere and apple wood bacon on sourdough=YUM), a toasted cheese sandwich does not a lobster roll make. Just sayin'...
Molly Bee, Who, Frankly, Is Still A Little Bitter
An Open Letter To The Guy In The White Ford:
Dude, your truck seems to have inadvertently been released from the plant without it's blinker package. You may have missed the recall notice in your mail. Please return to your dealership and have it installed immediately. Some of us haven't finely honed our telepathic skills and so when you slam on your brakes, then speed left through three lanes of commuters and veer into oncoming traffic like that, we worry that you're going all Kamikaze-Jihad on us and are concerned for your safety and the safety of others. We worry. Some of us even said bad words and almost wet our pants. Just sayin'.
Molly Bee, Who Is Sending You The Dry Cleaning Bill Today
An Open Letter To The Readers Of This Blog:
Molly Bee has insomnia and has been ruminating all night long. Opinions here are strongly fueled by sleep deprivation and do not reflect the thoughts or feelings of other inhabitants of Chez Bee. Just sayin'...
Bentley, Who Is A Little Cranky About Being Awoken For Smooches All Night Long

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Head and Shoulders Sweater

I'm attempting the Snow Shoe Aran Sweater pattern from Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill. I've made one other sweater pattern before-Beginner's Top Down Cardigan. I made three of them in fact-one of which actually fit the person for whom it was intended....and the sleeves were almost the same length on both sides too...on at least one of them. Almost. So, armed with this knowledge of, and confidence in, my mad sweater stitchin' skillz, it was obvious to me that my second sweater should be a frickin' Cabled Anne Bosch Extravaganza! 'Cause that's how I roll here on Planet Delusional. I am SO in over my head. But I'm having a great time attempting it and if it turns out to be a misshapen cabledy disaster, well, I shall still wear it proudly. In fact I've tried it on several times already even though it only looks like this:

So far it fits like it was made for me! I must be a natural! This is a photo of the cable pattern from which it gets it's name. Little snow shoe tracks!! Anne is a genius!

Other than that, not much has been happening around Chez Bee. Ben had a friend over this weekend. They spent the whole time snuggling and cuddling and just generally being adorable:

They also 'snuggled' with me Friday and Saturday nights. One slept up against my right side and one against my left. I was pinned and felt mummified but at least I was WARM!

Michelle over at Boulderneigh said the sweetest things about me on her blog and presented me with the Lemonade Stand Award. This came at an especially meaningful time since it seems like I've had to juice them lemons like crazy around here lately! Thanks Michelle!

There are many in my life who are also making the best of what they've got. I'm bequeathing this award to three who are each inspirations:

Mousey Linda who just got laid off last week but is digging right in there to find new work and handling it with her usual aplomb!

Mrs SABLE who's husband is also trying to find work so she is starting her own design/consultant business which she will totally ROCK at...

Dale Harriet who is going through some woes with her family and is learning pinochle rather than collapsing in a heap over it.

I am so fortunate to have such strong, caring supportive women in my life. Your lights shine bright! Keep juicin' those lemons!

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...