Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chicago You're Next!

If you guys thought I was proud of myself when I conquered driving in downtown Madison, you should see me now. I made it safely there and back again to visit my friends, the Brownes, up in Minneapolis. I'm positively obnoxious with power!!! Look out Chicago, you are next in line to be my b**ch!

The ride up was interesting. Ben and I saw bald eagles in Sauk City, scores of deer in the fields along the highway, awesome sandstone structures and every rest area between here and there. The girl and the dog, they need lottsa pee-breaks doncha know. One of us drank A. LOT. of diet Coke on the way! Some of the waysides had cool features like this ode to the Passenger Pigeon...

And a cool sculpture homage to Wisconsin's Law Enforcement...
The five hour highway driving was a cinch! I only got lost when I was about 3 blocks from the Browne's house. They live in a lovely neighborhood. I investigated it thoroughly...for quite some time.

But I made it. Here's proof. This here's the Brownes; Aaron, Terri and Sweet Willie B. Although I gave Will strict instructions in late September not to grow or do anything cute or new until I saw him again, he clearly realizes I have no authority over him. Last time I saw him he was kind of a paperweight. Don't get me wrong, he was an ADORABLE paperweight, but he clearly hadn't developed the MAD SKILZ he has now! WALKING while only holding your fingers, TALKING (well, making motorboat and other assorted sounds. It's not his fault that I never took BSL -baby as a second language. I'm convinced he's communicating fully, I just have a wee comprehension problem...) EATING-fruit and Cheerios (a.k.a. 'baby crack'. You should see him light up when he gets a hold of one of those oaten loops!) All in all he is the most adorable, smartest, advanced, amazing baby ever. And that's a clearly unbiased review from his honorary Aunt Min!

We had lunch and caught up a little and then they took me to the Minnesota zoo. What an amazing place! It's the second largest zoo in the country. Only the San Diego one is bigger. I've been to both and like this one best! We did the inside exhibits where it was warm; the dolphin tank; the shark tank; the birds etc. They had a great variety. We saw:

A Lotter Otters

And one of my favs, a cuddly Binterong. (Biggify this one. He's precious!)

Speaking of precious...look at this guy! (Aunt Min and Sweet Willie on the monorail touring the outdoor exhibits. Dig the tundra gear. Was I tricked out for the Minnesota experience or what!

Afterward we went home and had supper. Terri made a killer beef and lentil crock pot soup that if I can recreate even half as well, I'll post on my kitchen site later on. We visited through the evening and turned in early. I got custody of the two 80# fur beasts, Bentley and his buddy, golden retriever, Brinkley. We three had a sleepover in the family room down stairs. When I say 'sleep over'... they were 'asleep'. I keep getting pushed further 'over' to the edge of the bed. I think I have a new 'bed hog' exhibit idea for the Minnesota zoo!

This morning we went out for breakfast at a little place in their neighborhood that had wonderful food and a colorful waiter who just cracked me up. The funniest thing was watching Sweet Willie suck up pancake bits. Holy Cow! It's a good think he doesn't have a lot of teeth yet or one could loose a finger. I'm thinking of changing his nickname from 'Sweet Willie' to 'Hoover'. The boy does love his food

All too soon, it was time to go and Ben and I hit the open road for the trip back. True to our trip there, we thoroughly investigated the Browne's immediate neighborhood trying to find our highway. We could see it on several occasions, just 'couldn't get there from here'. But finally we were back on track!

[I want to put a THANK YOU here to the Brownes for the road kill rabbit you gave Bentley. He loves it! . He squeaked it all the way to the WI border and then he snuggled it and went to sleep all the way back to Mad-Town. Not one pee break! When we got home, he carried it in the house himself and is now curled up on the sofa with it. You're his favorite Aunt Terri and Uncle Aaron for sure now! Good call!

True to the way that my freaky life goes, this was my view most of the way back to Madison. For those of you who don't recognize it right away, that's the ass end of the Oscar Meyer Wiener mobile.

We kept passing each other. I felt like one of the Sausage race contestants at Miller Park. At one point I over took him (this is a closeup out the passenger window. I was hoping to get the kid who was driving and waving as I passed but I missed him.)

I'd pass them and then they'd KETCHUP! But finally, they couldn't cut the MUSTARD and I was the clear WIENER! An honor I RELISH than you very much!

And on that note I bid you Bon Nuit. My tired muttley and I are going to hit the hay! What a wonderful weekend! Sweet dreams all!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Moving At The Speed Of Light

It's been a busy week or so at Chez Bee. Nothing earth shattering; just seem to be in constant motion, putzing and stuff. My big thing last week was purchasing a beautiful new set of bedding (flannel sheets, comforter, shams, pillows, and dust ruffle) on Monday with some money Mum gave me for Christmas. Every night is like sleeping in a fancy inn! You can't tell by this pic but it's plum and gold.
Friday night I went to dinner with friend D. We ambled on over to Frugal Muse afterward to kill some time before going to see Sherlock Holmes at Point. I have a serious addiction to books. Looking at the shelves with D. I couldn't believe how many of the titles I've read...and were I still a book purchaser, I would have left the store with more tomes than a dozen men could carry and a much lighter pocketbook. Thanks Goodness for the Dane County Library system. Harriet may try to kill me on occasion, but it sure is cheaper to borrow than to buy when you cruise through books like I do!

For those of you who haven't seen it, Sherlock Holmes was AMAZING, due almost entirely to Robert Downey Jr.. He is just SO talented. I'm so glad he seems to have gotten his 'stuff' together after living life on the edge for most of the 80's and 90's. He's at the top of his game now.

Saturday I ran errands, baked dumplings, read (Last Night In Twisted River-John Irving=Two Thumbs WAY UP!), knit, and hosted supper and game night at my place. My friends brought their 5 year old over for pizza, Jenga, and UNO. That kid is 5 going on 40! I just love him and the life lessons he never fails to provide. I was a nervous wreck playing Jenga; afraid that I would be the one to topple the tower of wooden blocks. The wee lad would confidently pluck pieces out like a pro and then when the tower fell...he'd CHEER like he won the big prize. Even failure was fun. There's something to be said for that!

Finish It February In January continues. I finally finished the second side of my lace scarf this weekend. It's from the Blackberry Ridge 'A Week In The Life Of A Cat' scarf patterns. If I counted all of the repeats I knit and then tore out because they weren't perfect, I bet I actually knit the entire thing at least 6 times. Last night I set to the final step of grafting the ends together and the Kitchener line broke. I put it down in disgust and went to bed. Finally finished it early this morning after some spitting and splicing. Here is is unblocked:

And here is a closer look at the detail:
I used Blackberry Ridge lace weight. I got the whole kit and caboodle at one of their open houses a few years back. I just love their yarns. They are such a pleasure to knit with. Their lace weight is delicate yet sturdy at the same time....just don't yank it when you're grafting...but I guess that goes without saying for all lace weights.

Next up at bat is the foot of a beaded sock that I designed many moons ago. I'll have to pattern it after the finished one, because the directions I'd written out disappeared in the move last year. Sigh. Don't know if it's worth the bother of writing them up again in hopes of publication or not. I'll let you guys decide once I post the picture.
Off to watch House and knit. Hope you're all having a good evening too!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Finish It Feb...anuary

I had decided over Christmas that I was going to take the month of February and 'Finish It February' and complete all of the half done projects I have laying around. I had the flu last week and a LOT of down time so once I felt like I could get myself in a sitting position, I grabbed the purple socks...and finished them:

By then I was feeling better enough to spin a little so I set to plying the natural brown wool singles that have been sitting on my wheel for far too long:

And finished that...It's SOFT, chocolate brown, lace weight with a sprinkling of white. It's hard to tell from the photo.
Then I set my sights on the Ninja Death Scarf and finished THAT! Despite the possible danger associated with the actually wearing of this scarf, I managed to bend it, and then I made Ben model it. At first he looked all around... case any of his buddies might be lurking. Didn't want to take a chance on them laughing, name calling, and barring him from playing in any doggie games.

Nary a soul in site so he sucked it up and worked it for the camera!
You go Ben! Today the living room, tomorrow the cover of the J. Crew catalog!!
At any rate, now I've set my sites on a lace scarf that has been sitting in my work basket since knitting was invented. It's now 3/4 done. It would go faster if I didn't insist that all of the three petaled flowers actually have three leaves and keep frogging great chunks of it! After that it's 1/2 a sock and my shadow piano scarf and I'm DONE! I'm wicked psyched lemme tell ya, but this early start sure messed up the catchy name I'd intended for the task. Finish It February. I guess in reality it's Just Do It January?

Later....This just in! Lookee here! Turns out I'm not the only one participating in Finish it Febanuary!! Mum finally finished the socks she started when she came to visit in 2007! Here is the pic she sent me today! Zexy fets der Chick!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Frosty Frozen Fog

When I opened the drapes this morning, I thought there was a blizzard going on outside. I was puzzled because snow wasn't predicted. Upon closer inspection I discovered it wasn't actually snowing; the wind was blowing the lacy ice crystals from the tree branches. Yesterday was fairly warm so we had a heavy fog in the evening. Overnight it froze to every little branch, needle and twig making for a Christmas card scene in the front yard. It's beautiful days like this that don't make me dislike winter as much. Here are some photos. (Click on 'em to biggify if you can. You won't be disappointed!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Watch It Or I'll Go All Alpo On Yo A**!!

So I stop at the store to get food for the Fur Beast that lives in my house. Food is the one thing that rocks his world and I never want to be in the position to find out what happens should we ever run out. We were down to the scraplins in the bottom of the bucket. I didn't want the maintenance man to get a complaint about the funny smell coming from my house and have to break in only to find me missing and Bentley gnawing on a bone that still had a New Balance sneaker attached to it, so off I went.

I didn't go to store where I usually go to get it. It's cheaper there, but it takes a lot of psyching up and mental fortitude on my part to actually go in there. Usually the briefest of visits, having to plod along behind the cattle to get my hair spray or whatever, makes me absolutely hate my fellow humans and besides, the crashing sound from all of the falling prices scares me. Instead, I stopped at the one with the bulls-eye logo and picked up two 5# bags to see us through for a spell while I worked up the Zen-like attitude I would need to go back to store # 1.

I was coming out of the store with the two dog food bags, each in it's own white plastic bag with handles, one in each hand, minding my own business, when it happened. I hit the only minuscule particle of ice on the whole darn sidewalk. Of course. Have you ever had one of those slow- motion-out-of-body experiences where you see the whole thing happening from above? Here's what I saw:

Me: Doing the light-freakin'-fantastic in one of those spectacular falls where you almost go down, but then you don't, but then you almost do....all the while swinging the two five pound bags of dog food in some strange kind a numb-chuck-come-windmill move that in itself should have wiped me out, but is strangely contributing enough centrifugal force to keep me upright.

The Lady To My Immediate Left: Thowing her hands over her head, ducking down and uttering the most slow motion, unGodl-iest, Psycho-In-The-Shower scream I have ever heard in my life.

The Gentleman To My Right And Slightly Ahead of Me Who Didn't See The Initial Slip, But Heard The Screamer: Turning around in time to catch the tail end of my interpretive dance, deciding that I was wielding some sort of terrorist kibble bomb, and doing some kind of Crouching-Tiger-Hidden-Dragon-Wire-Fu move that transported him half way across the parking lot without actually requiring him to touch the asphalt. Yes, ladies...chivalry is dead and gone. Gone in a whole lot less than 60 seconds as it turns ...and in Timberland work boots.

I finally regained my footing and composure, stopped flailing around like a dork, and just stood there taking stock of the situation. There was that moment of silence. You know the one where it feels like time stops completely. Then the Screamer starts giggling. Then I start giggling and before you know it we are both doubled over laughing like loons in that way you do when only seconds ago you were sure you were going to die but now it's all Okey-Dokey Thank You Very Much. We had just calmed down a little when I pointed out that He-Man had made it to his car without once looking back and we start in hooting all over again. (Incidently, the piece de resistance was getting the finger from him as he drove off. I'm so sorry my near demise ruined his day! )

Lessons learned?

  • Animal feed, when used incorrectly, can be interpreted as a weapon of mass destruction.
  • Work boots will get you there faster then the best running shoes in a foot race.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wintery Weather Knitting

Snowy day in Wisconsin. 6" or so on the ground and another 3"-4" on the way. My work load today was all computer stuff, so I decided not to join the fracas on the roads and to work from my home office today. It kinda cramps Ben's style because he can't follow his normal nap regime. He's afraid he'll miss something. He was sorely disappointed today! The task was the archiving, renewing, cutting and pasting extravaganza that is my monthly reports session. Every month I send out revenue reports to thirteen of our Branches around the globe. It doesn't take a lot of brain power, just a dexterous mousing hand, the patience of a saint and a talent for remaining conscious!

Ben solves the consciousness problem by morphing into his alter ego 'Mad Dingo'. One minute he'll be sitting there swaying, eyes half-mast, head drooping and the next minute he's getting his blood pumping by doing hot laps around the living room like his tail is on fire. He's an 80# wrecking ball and the racing space is roughly 10 feet square so you do the math...and then come over and help me set the furniture back upright!

The evenings this week had been pretty quiet. Lack of social obligations and the cold weather made for a few nights of tea sipping (new favorite: Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile) knitting, TV watching, and Ben cuddling, when he slows down long enough. I finished one of my new socks. I'm a sucker for anything with purple in it. Sometimes that is not a positive in this case.


And I knit another couple thousand feet on my Ninja Death Scarf. A friend told me to wash it with lost of Downy when I'm done and it will soften up. I'm holding her to that! If not, she may see the business end of its wrath! ZOT! It won't be pretty!

And since my friend Steve thinks all I do is knit meat and vegetables, (i.e. the Turkey hat and the Snowman hat-carrot nose don'cha know!) here is this week's 'meat knitting'; a mouse for Punkin, my Mum's cat! (Thanks to Knitzu for the pattern. You should go to her site. She has photos of her mice's exploits!) I thought it would be a turn-about-is-fair-play kinda thing to make the mouse/prey hunter orange! Try and give him a fighting chance against the mouse destroying machine that is Punkin.

All in all a cold and snowy week to slow down and catch up before the festivities of this weekend and next week. Hope you all are snuggled in and warm too!!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Wonderful Weekend!

As usual, I managed to pack a lot into this long weekend. New Year's Eve dinner with friends (see last post including comment section where the author of the book I recommended commented! Squeee!), dog sitting, visiting, coffee drinking, baking for neighbors, cleaning, shopping, knitting and watching the last David Tennant episode of Dr. Who (sob!).

Saturday afternoon and evening were spent in Middleton at Natalie and Dan's house playing games. Had a great time. All present are great company. Dan's special salsa, guacamole and stuffed mushrooms were divine. We played 80s Trivial Pursuit and 80's Scene It.... People. I lived through the 80s. It was MY decade. So why can't I remember any of it? I totally tanked at Trivial Pursuit and did only marginally better at Scene It. Friend Jen blames the memory loss on all of the Aqua Net we inhaled trying to get our hair stand up like that. I'm going to go with that rather than the fact that since the 80s was MY decade, I'm probably old enough for early onset dementia!

Today I met Friend Scott at a local coffee shop to attempt to teach him to knit. It's a good thing he's clever because I am a terrible teacher. I was sure one or the other one of us would leave in an ambulance with pointy sticks sticking out of our anatomy somewhere. But turns out he's a natural (a term he prefers to 'idiot savant' as it turns out) and caught on VERY quickly. It was fun to watch him go from:

" What the ^&*#!? Can't be done! It's the Devil's work I tell ya!"

" AHA! Now I get it!"
(Check out that cocked eyebrow. Does he look like he can rule the knitting world now or what? )

So it was a good lesson. No one was injured. No restraining orders were filed and we were still happy and friends at the end. And I suspect I may have lured another one over to The Dark Side. All in all a great beginning to 2010. Hope you're off to a wonderful start too!

Friday, January 01, 2010

2010: Day One-So Far So Good

2010 is bound to be a happy and prosperous year for all of us being that the blue moon fell on New Year's Eve! At least that's what I'm counting on. Mine started off great. I went to friend Steve's house for supper. Steve has a farmhouse south of New Glarus and the ride down was beautiful with the full moon glowing on the snow in the fields. Friend Joey made us a delicious steak dinner complete with baked potatoes, green salad and home made gingerbread. It was a veritable feast! They sure do know how to treat a girl right!

Joe has three Boxers and Steve has a Golden Retriever mix. They are all super friendly, sweet and cuddly. I would include a photo but I was under the pile of them for most of the night. Better than a woobie any day!

We watched the ball drop in NYC and since Steve and I are both from the East Coast we counted that as the start of 2010. Sorry Joey. It was a wonderful night of friends, a feast and furbabies. I can't think of a better way to welcome a New Year. I wish it didn't happen only 'once in a blue moon'. Get it!?!?

Today was spent babysitting Mike and Hef's dog Panga. She is such a sweetie and she and Ben played and cuddled all day, so his New Year started off right as well. I mostly snuggled in with my woobie and read all day. If you're looking for a great book, 'The Day The Falls Stood Still' by Cathy Marie Buchanan is a good one. It's fiction but based on facts of the early days of electrical power plants on the Niagara River. Very interesting story.

At any rate, Day one comes to a close and all is well with the world. Let's hope the rest of 2010 follows suit! Happy New Year!

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...