Monday, March 30, 2009

A Tisket A Tasket...

Another needle basket...

I always suspected I'd end up like
this..... whiling away the hours making baskets, drooling and lip-diddling in the corner of a tiny room with 80 cats....

I got the cats part wrong. It's an 80# dog. And we're both drooling.....
But we're peaceful and content.....
May you all have 'enough'...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

HELLO! My Name is "Karma's B*tch!"

Friday was one of those stellar days when all the moons aligned. I garnered an unexpected $500 bonus. I got a two rebates in the mail to the tune of $55. I even pressed my luck and bought a scratch off lottery ticket, which I NEVER do, and won ANOTHER $50. Work was productive and went by quickly. The kids behaved. Traffic was good. I found out that MY TayTay (Taylor Hicks) has a new CD out. All was right in my world. I shoulda known. When things come that easily, you know you are in Karma's cross hairs for sure.

I woke up at 1:30 Sunday morning to the smell of dog poo. One of the three of us who live here this week (Ben and I aren't pointing any fingers, Grendel) got into the garbage and had tummy trouble. I cleaned it up , dumping it and the paper towels into the toilet, thus clogging it solid. I was amazed at how alert I was at 1:30 AM. Why I could creatively string cuss words together like a pro even at that early hour. I spent the rest of the night unclogging, scrubbing and running in and out with the poor guy. Don't worry, he's A-OK now. Karma just used him to make sure that my payback day got that little extra-special, early start.

I had lunch with friend D. to celebrate her birthday. Before I met up with her I went to Joann's to look for artificial sinew. I had a half an hour to get in, get the sinew, pay for it, get out of the store and get to lunch on time....Simple huh? (HONK)! WRONG! It took me right down to the very last nanosecond. And I would have been really screwed if the restaurant hadn't been directly across the street! I won't go into details, but most of you who've been to Joann's know that it's prime hunting ground for Karma. I was easy pickin's.

Lunch at a Vietnamese place went well and then we went to a pet store where I was allowed to cuddle a ferret for quite some time. I though that at last I had finally paid off my debt to the Cosmic Retribution Gods. I loves me a little critter to snog. I finally put him back in his pen, D. and I parted ways, and I got in the car to go home. In the crisp fresh air outside the pet store, I discovered that I had been liberally slathered with Eau De Ferret. P.U.! My Saturday Afternoon Knitting Group was going to love having ME in their midst!

Went home to get my stuff. I only had a few minutes if I was to make it on time. I unlocked the door and was immediately double teamed by two 80# sniff and lick monsters. They knocked me down and were on me in seconds, like...well...like dogs on a ferret actually. At least someone appreciated my new cologne. I got them calmed down and emptied out. I grabbed my stuff and went to knitting. I wasn't too late. Had a wonderful time with the girls as usual. Thought the worst had passed really. Until it was time to go home and I looked up to see it SNOWING! I've already packed away my shovel and Karma knows it. Foiled again.

So it's been a wild ride, and though I've been lulled into a false sense of security before, it seems like it's calmed down for real a bit now. Since supper time, no garbage has been eaten. No poo has shown up unexpectedly. Much to the pup's dismay, I have bathed away the essence of ferret and smell as fresh as a Moonlit Path. [ Bet the Saturday girls wish I had thought of that earlier! ]I closed the curtains so it's no longer snowing in my world. I have a cup of coconut chai tea and Dr. Who. Hopefully Karma and I are now settled up in full. I'm sorry Karma, I'll try to just have normal rather than 'ecstatically', happy days from now on so as to escape your detection. I'm guessing it was buying that scratch off that did it wasn't it? Note to self: Don't do it again. It's so NOT worth the $50!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Note To Self

RE: The Drive Home From Work Today

Dear Molly Bee,

In your head, when you are seat dancing and singing to the top of your lungs with the car radio, you are the coolest, most talented, uber guest guitarist/soloist to ever grace the stage at a GoGo's concert. However, outside of your head, you appear to other motorists to have some kind of a seizure disorder, which is disconcerting to them. They are not your 'fans', 'screaming for more'. They are screaming into their cell phones to the 911 operator about a potential multi-car pile-up.

Furthermore, that guy in the van is not your 'fan club president'. He was smiling because he was partaking in an odd looking cigarette and besides, smiling while shaking ones head sadly is not a sign of approval...even if he was waving his lighter back and forth at you and mouthing the words 'Free Bird'. Just sayin'....
Safety Consciously Yours,
Molly Bee

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ahhhh! Spring!

Nothing says spring like a trip to A to Z farms to see the new babies! I got there right when they opened and it was crowded already. Guess a lot of folks learned their lesson from trying to go later last year too. It was LAMB-DE-MONIUM in there ! As you can see by the tally board. They were in high gear. There were lambies:














And piggies...

(Who quite frankly looked like their mama mighta kicked it up a little with the Holstein kids' dad one cold night in the barn! Shhh! )











There were bunnies and chickies and turkeys ...








And best of all!!!!





TREASURE!

Confetti batt from the Frene Creek Farm vendor. It's 2 oz of a mixture of 'many types of wool, camel, tussah silk and firestar' sparkley stuff. That's right! Melted peacock colored, soft as kittens and shiney. Don't get much better'n that! Hello spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mitten Knittin', Country Girls and What's In The Cards For My Future

First of all, lest y'all be thinking that with all the goings on with the manatees and wallabies and tigers(Oh My!), the basketry, the sunburns and all of the other shenanigans lately, that there hasn't been knitting going on. No Sirree! Don't you fret one bit...there's been knittin'. I took my mini mitten kit bag with me to FL so there was lots of mitten knittin' on the flights and in airports. True to form, here is an ill-lit photo to prove it. I have 15 pairs total so far-right on schedule.


If you haven't stopped over to Kate's Chronicles of a Country Girl site you should go over and check it out. Right now. I'll wait. Dumdedumdedum. What didja think? Not only is it a wonderful site, but she's having a mug giveaway. Apparently mentioning it here is called 'pimping a giveaway'. Doncha love that?! So I'm pimping away! But don't win it OK 'cause I'd really like it for me!

Friend D. and I went to lunch on Saturday and she treated me to a special surprise. She took me to Mimosa on State Street to have my tarot cards read. I am a just a weensy smidge new agey though I hide it well...uh...until I just outted myself there...oh well...so I was curious to see what it was all about. I was prepared to be told general things such as "You will talk to someone today" and "There's a 50 % chance of rain in your future". I was pleasantly surprised. First the lady wasn't hokey at all, other than the little-table-behind-the-curtain-spooky-bit in the beginning, and the things she told me were pretty specific to me. It was really fun. And she didn't have those freaky tarot cards that you see in horror movies, dripping blood and all that. Hers had flowers and herbs on them. Pretty non-threatening. I was disappointed when all of my cards came up upside down apparently signifying that I would need to 'participate' and 'work to make things happen' in each area. I was so hoping to be at a place in my life where the goods are all given to me on a silver platter. 'Cause that the style to which I've become accustomed doncha know!

I sat with D while she had hers read and most of the things that she was told were pretty spot on for her as well. Kind of a cool and unique experience. I'm really racking them up in my 'Year of Saying Yes To Opportunities', no?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pine Needle Baskets

A friend in Florida makes absolutely gorgeous pine needle baskets. Here is the one she gave to me:

Isn't it gorgeous?! The pine needles in Florida are Jurassic-sized and are everywhere. A lot of of folks use them as mulch. So I picked up a handful to bring home and try to make my own basket. I watched a little bit when my friend was making them but didn't have much personal instruction and didn't try it while I was there, so I just kinda winged it.

First I poured boiling water on the needles and let them sit a couple of hours and then laid them out on a towel to dry a bit.




Then I just started making a spiral. The blue thing is a little piece of soda straw to keep the needle bundle a uniform size. My friend had a metal gauge but I didn't know where to get one so I improvised...Thank you Culver's!

I sewed it with some artificial sinew that I got at Michael's craft store. After the bottom was as big as I wanted it I started coiling up the sides. I only brought a few spills home so I decided to make a little change holder for my dresser.

When I got almost as tall as I wanted it to be, I added beads to one coil and then finished off the top by tapering the bundle size down to just a few needles and then back stitching Xs back around the top.

I'm pretty happy with it, especially since I didn't really know what I was doing. Now I have a useful, pretty reminder of our wonderful trip to Florida!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Florida-The Last Couple of Days

On Monday, we rested up and nursed our sunburns after the Steeple Chase. We did a little shopping in town and I gathered up pine needles for a potential basket. Then we had an early supper and went back out to Pine Island for the sunset. It was stupendous. We had a couple of hours to walk the beach and y'all know how I loves me some beach walking! There were lots of little jellies washed up on shore. I asked everyone I saw if they were from the area and knew why the big die off happened. Turns out that no one in Florida is actually FROM there. (And it also turns out that if you point out all of the dead jellyfish, they won't wade with you anymore. Wusses! ) I finally found a guy from the area and it turns out he was a marine biologist! What luck! Not really. He didn't know why they were all dead. Kept saying, "They just got cooked, I guess..." which may be some kind of marine biologist tech speak that I don't know about, but I doubt it.


Gulf of Mexico

Black headed gulls at low tide...

There weren't many shells but there were a lot of fossil rocks. I did find a couple of beautiful shells and picked them up only to be freaked out minutes later when all of these legs, pinchers, antennae and eyeballs shot out....hermit crabs! Once I got over the initial...er...'surprise' [Read: 'she screamed, launched the crab 20 feet straight up in the air, did a bit of a dance and then ran for shore, jellyfish be damned' (which is not easy in 2 1/2 feet if water, I might add) here.] Yeah. Not exactly a Baywatch moment. But I quickly recovered and then started playing with them and using them to terrorize my vacation mate. Heh. Heh. Heh.

The sunset was amazing. Once it gets started it happens so fast:

Going...
Going...
Going...
Gone. Tres romantic...

The last day we went to Weeki Wachi State Park to see the Mermaids swim. It was so neat! Weeki Wachi is another spring (all of the big springs are direct accesses to aquifers). It was crystal clear and had a theater built down into it with a show of girls dressed in mermaid tails and performing completely under water with air hoses. It was very graceful and surreal. There were fish and turtles in there with them and one turtle was bound and determined to be in the the show and kept chasing one of the mermaids. I couldn't get photos because I couldn't turn my flash off. :-(

We saw these beautiful peacocks ...

And took a boat ride down the river from the spring. Saw lots of blue herons and other water birds as well as their nesting sites. Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful! Florida. I highly recommend it!
Well, there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know about our vacation! Aren't you glad I was only gone one week!?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Florida-Day 4. The Little Everglades Steeple Chase


On Sunday we were treated to a day at the Little Everglades Ranch Steeple Chase. This is a charity event that is held on a 2000 acre ranch in Florida's horse country every year . There were Irish and English jockeys, Jack Russell terrier races and craft exhibits. Lot of the ladies were dressed in their southern finery including huge hats like at the Kentucky Derby. Our host had a party tent right on the back stretch of the track. It was a beautiful sunny day as I proved by getting a sunburn despite SPF 55 lotion. I'm from Wisconsin, Y'all! I'm lucky I didn't burst into flames! Here is the tent. A lot of them were decorated with themes for judging. Guess what our theme was?
I, of course, scouted out the animal ops. Here I am with a 15 week only tiger:
We rubbed her tummy and feet until she fell asleep. I can honestly say that I've had a tiger by the tail now!
Here is my new bestest buddy. She is a two year old albino wallaby. She ran right over to me and gave me kisses and snuggles. I suspect her 'kisses' licked off the SPF 55, hence the sunburn, but it was totally worth it!

And here is the skinniest horse I've ever seen! I know it's not a 'real' animal, but it was a beautiful sculpture so I got my picture taken with it.

I watched the Jack Russell terrier races for quite a while although it was impossible to take a photo. Those little guys are QUICK! So I'll leave you with this one of a little racer after the race:
Don't you think Ben would look great in this handy little carrier? Now I only need 15-20 of you to volunteer to help me lift him in it!

Tomorrow: Sunset at the Beach

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Florida-Days 2 & 3

Forgot to show you this shot yesterday. I took it in Homosassas State Park. A blue heron, manatee and turtle in the same shot!


There was a small woods near where we stayed and I had a great time grubbing around in it; picking up pine needles to make baskets and searching for wild tortoises. My searching finally paid off. The first day I only found active nest sites:

But the next day, this guy strolled right out to have his picture taken!

Friday we went to Pine Island Beach. Since Tampa is on the nature coast, there aren't a lot of beaches. They are mostly south, but Pine Island has a wonderful small beach with an unobstructed view of The Gulf. We missed the sunset, just got the melting cloud colors, but went back again on Monday and I got some great shots. I'll show you those later.


Here is post sunset at the beach!


Saturday found us at Swamp Fest. It was a craft festival with music and all sorts of exhibits. I got to hold a six week old otter pup but I don't have an e-pic of it, just a hard copy. If I think of it, I'll scan it in. Swamp Fest offered Florida 'color', like this guy and his 'gator hat.




And this guy selling Hillbilly Banjos; a one string guitar made out of a stick and a soda can. Don't laugh. He and I had a jam session and picked a mean 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' to the delight of onlookers! We got a standing ovation. Sure there were no seating available at his booth, but I'm still counting it!
From the 'while in Rome' department, I ordered the alligator tail for lunch and it was very good. You see, I graduated from the Gail Jackin's School of Tourism. Wherever you go, you experience the local flavor and try the things that make that region unique. I'd say picking banjos with a hillbilly and eating alligator fills that bill nicely.

Friday night we also got to see a rocket launch. They put up a rocket to find other earth-like planets in the farthest reaches of the universe and we could see it from where we were staying. Pretty amazing. We were disappointed to learn that the Shuttle was going up on Wednesday night after we had left, but I heard today that it's been delayed again so I don't feel so bad.

Next time: The Little Everglades Steeple Chase and my encounter with a ferocious tiger!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Florida-Day One

Just got back from a week's vacation in the Tampa area with a friend. Tampa-80°...Madison-14°. Temperature shock upon walking from the Dane County Airport terminal to my parked car in just a sweater-100%. Vacation of a lifetime-priceless.

We got so many unique opportunities on this trip it was amazing. We got great photos too, so I thought that for the next several days, I would take it a day at a time and share them. The first full day we went to Homosassas State Park to see the manatees. A person that had been there a few days before said that they didn't see any in the canal behind the park, but we saw 35-mamas and babies were so cute together. What good luck!






There are 4-6 rehabbed female manatees in the park that they feed. We watched them being fed sweet potato slices and carrots.







The park has an underwater observatory called 'The Fish Bowl' where you walk right down into the crystal clear spring and we got shots like this...






There were so many other animals and things to see in the park. Even though they have had recent frosts that killed a lot of the foliage and flowers, they were starting to come back and the pines, palms and Spanish moss were all so beautiful. And the springs are so clean and clear!





There were plenty of flamingos and other birds...
........like these ibises.....

and this very cooperative owl...






The prerequisite 'gators... (Did you know that they don't eat from November through March? Their metabolism slows down for the cooler weather and eating could actually kill them. No wonder they always in a bad mood.)





And a retired movie star hippo named Lou who slept through our whole visit there. That was OK though-better that he sleep that demonstrate what this sign means.



I've decided I want to be a manatee when I grow up....I already have the figure for it!

What an amazing day. I can't remember any other vacation where I've had so much fun. I highly recommend this park if you want to see and experience Florida wildlife. (More trivia-it was formerly the home of the bear in the Gentle Ben TV series with Clint Howard).

Tomorrow: Friday and Saturday/Swamp Fest, Hillbilly Banjoes, wild tortoises and rocket launches!

Monday, March 02, 2009

PCR At Home

I was so enthused with my time in the lab that I tried replicating DNA at home last weekend. I think I did something wrong. This doesn't look like Doug The Application Scientist's results at all. Is one BIG DNA worth a bunch of microscopic ones?









It'll take a really long time to make enough to clone anything. It's 100% wool. Is this how Dolly the Sheep got started?






(Pattern can be found on Ravelry: Baby's First DNA Model)