Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bits and Bobs

First a bit about knitting. I had a bit of yarn (225 yards of CTH Possum Sock) that I didn't know what to do with so some helpful soul suggested '189 Yards of Happiness' shawl. I'm very drawn to pretty pictures and colors, which the pattern site was laden with, and all of the others who had gone before me raved about what a simple pattern it was. The phrase 'joy to knit' was tossed around extravagantly. Oh sure, there were a couple of folks that said "WTF! Why can't I get this pattern to work out?" but they were soundly thumped by the 'joy to knit' folks and consequently disappeared from the Ravelry boards as quickly as they appeared. So I, in a blazing flash of stupidity, thought that this looked like just the 'easy' lace project for me and my possum buddy! I don't have the focus or attention span to be a lace knitter. Generally holes in my knitting appear there by accident. But those darned 'joy to knit' ladies were just so persuasive! I posted my intention on the boards, so cock-sure was I that I would bang this thing out in under two days.

Poor Chocolate Sheep decided to join me in an impromptu little knit along. Yup. Like a sheep to slaughter. We both started it at home. Many. Many. Times. We both took it to Knit Night and cursed it's very name. ['198 Yards of Happiness' my A**!] Many. Many. Times. In fact when I went to Knit Night I had 15 rows done. I worked on it for 4 hours and by the time I left, I only had twelve and I think The Sheepster may have actually been in tears.

When I got home, I sequestered myself; no TV, no music, no obvious distractions. [I say 'obvious' because with me there is always a distraction..."Oh look at that pretty dust mote in that ray of sun...Shiny!] I knit, and ripped, and swore but I gutted through until I finished it!

I don't know why it was so difficult for me. The line directions were abysmal but the charted pattern was perfectly clear. I just couldn't get it. And I never really did. It never clicked. The only thing that got it done was anger and sheer pigheadedness. I discovered that the name was apropos after all. I don't think I've ever been so happy to complete a project! [I will also take an evil glee in the future when I tell others, "Oh, you only have the one skein? You know what you oughtta to is make that uber easy little pattern '198 Yards of Happiness'! Yes, it's a JOY to knit!" Heh! Heh! Heh! Misery loves company is all I'm sayin'!]

And here's the BOB part. I'm trying to grow my hair out to one length after years of a SHORT layered cut. I told Scott H. down at Penny's Salon West (Go see him! He's a hair maestro!) that I wanted that sleek 'Sandra Bullock in Speed' type of do. To his credit, he didn't so much as smirk as he ran his fingers through my 'Little Orphan Annie Stuck Her Finger In A Socket' mop. He cut. He combed. He lather, rinsed, and repeated as needed. He moussed, gelled, dried and styled. And God love him, this was the result:

(Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of the back of your own head??)
I'm here to tell you that miracles can happen, People! Take a good look because this is the last time it will probably look like this. Scott has magic hands and I can never replicate the way he does it, but for this brief moment in time, I'm certain I shouldn't slow the bus down to less that 55MPH!
How's YOUR week going?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

♫ Ac-centuate The Positive ♫

Sorry it's been radio silence around here for a while. I've put all of my time and energy into worrying about this big galoot.

He's been VERY sick for about 10 days now and it's just been within the last 24 hours that I see some improvement and actually believe he will come out of the woods eventually. Long story short, he was prescribed aspirin for the tendinitis in his new knee and had a really bad reaction to it. For the last 10 days he wouldn't eat much and what he did it came out in ways it wasn't supposed to. He lost his oomph and Ben-ness, as you can see from the picture, and I was really afraid I'd lose him. Thank goodness for Dr. Estelle. I think she finally has him headed down the right path.

That said I didn't focus on much else this week other than the potential impending disaster and forgot to focus on the many positive things I have to smile about every day. For instance:

These are my inpatients (Franklin's favorite flower). They may be the dandelions of the garden flower world, but these are an absolute miracle given my notoriously BLACK thumb. I've had these for a whole month! They're still alive! They even look healthy! This has never happened to me before. Usually if a plant sees me contemplating bringing it home from the greenhouse it just leaps to it's death right there rather than be subjected to my wrath. I have no idea why these are thriving. I don't remember making any kind of pact with the devil but there was that one night when I had a half a paper cup of Chocovine!

Another thing that makes me smile is my newly spun and Navajo plied 'Highlighter' yarn. I plan to use it with black to make stranded mittens.

The colors make me happy just looking at them.

And my final smile-inducing blessing for this post is this:

The barn swallows have a nest up in the corner of my patio. Remember thGrumpy McFeatherbutt who leaped to his fate a couple of weeks ago and I took to the wild animal folks? Well he had two siblings that are smart enough to stay put until it's time to leave the nest. They're almost ready and Ben and I get the evil eyeball (Biggify pic to see what I mean) whenever we go in or out the sliding glass door. The parents of this guy are in the process of building another nest two rafters over and they bomb dive us when we come out. It's an epic Hitchcockean adventure just to get out to the sidewalk. They're pretty fierce for little feathered puffs that don't weigh any more than a dust ball. I don't think it even occurs to them that I could show them just why Badminton players call the shuttle cock, the 'birdy'. They are too cute and provide both of us with endless entertainment.

Anyway, now that it appears the worst is behind us, I can focus on the many blessings I have in my life rather than borrowing trouble. What blessings do you have to smile about.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lettin' It All Hang Out

Y’all are lucky I’m having trouble downloading photos after the weekend I had! I met friends, Joe and Steve, down at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. We made our way around the square looking for the fabled, yet elusive, frozen cheesecake on a stick vendor. No luck, it’s still a dream, People.

We then ambled down State street to stake out our spot for the parade. Saturday was Bike Nekked in Public Day. My bike had a flat (darn it!) but about 50 hardy souls hopped on their cycles in various stages of undress and rode 8 miles through the city. Nudity doesn’t bother me at all. The logistics of bike seats and all of the chaffing make me a bit queasy, but the parade was awesome! Saw two girls from Knit Night at The Ear. One had green hair with a flower wreath, pasties, a tutu, and a smile. The other one had a teeny-weeny hand knit bikini on. They were having a blast and so was everyone watching them. Folks were cheering them on.

There were about 10 folks completely clothe-less on the way up State Street, but they got arrested somewhere on the square and weren’t with the group when they came back down. The word on the street is that the police told them that anyone with their ‘naughty bits’ exposed would be arrested. The fine was almost $500 bucks. I love that the authorities led and followed the parade with squad cars but didn’t arrest anyone until halfway through the route. The news hardly mentioned it only to say that 10 arrests were made for disorderly conduct, making it sound like there was a problem. The 10 were the ones mentioned above. There was no problem. Madison is a pretty progressive city. How does that quote go? Madison is 85 square miles surrounded by reality?

Anyway, I loved it and it was in keeping with my usual... unusual weekend shenanigans and another thing to mark off my ‘Now I’ve Seen It All’ list. My friends seemed a little disappointed. I believe the quote was “How come there’s never anyone you WANT to see naked?”

What did YOU do this weekend?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not So Wise Wednesday

I know it’s Wisdom Wednesday, but I swear things I've been so thickheaded that I haven’t learned a thing this week. To say it’s been pretty mellow at Chez Bee lately would be an understatement. It’s been so rainy lately that I haven’t wanted to go anywhere, so I've nestled in at home with spinning. I go by fits and starts with Mabel-the-spinning-wheel, but I’m really in the groove right now, making a bright, highlighter-colored, variegated 3-ply, fingering weight to use with black for Fair Isle mittens. I’ve also been working on a 198 Yards of Heaven shawlette out of some gorgeous CTH Possom Sock, but I’m not a very accomplished lace knitter and it’s turning out to be an exercise in major frustration. I’m contemplating re-crafting it into some kind of big ball of yarn as early as tonight! I did break my personal record and knit an ENTIRE sock in less than an hour! I KNOW! You may bow to me now. I’ll wait. Um.... OK. ‘Fess-up time. It was this one that goes on the cute little sock blocker key chain that I got at The Ear.

Ben is still on the mend. His progress took a little detour when he developed tendonitis from trying to do too much too soon. Now he takes glucosamine, aspirin, and fish oil capsules and he’s getting better again bit by bit. Good thing; at the rate he was going, I would've had to get him a motorized scooter! (Wouldn't he love that? Ears all blowin’ in the breeze as he tooled around the dog park.) He’s still bitter about not being able to jump up and sleep on the sofa all day. He’s sore abused and has to settle for his fleecy, new dog bed on the cold, hard, carpeted floor. He was particularly pathetic about it the other night so I gave him the empty peanut butter jar which kept him busy and elated for hours. The sounds emitted while he cleaned it out, however, were horrifying.

(Click to biggify to see how far a dog's lower jaw will fit in a Skippy jar!)

We did have a wee spot of excitement I guess. This little guy pulled this daredevil stunt all day yesterday even though he isn't even close to ready to head out on his own.

Consquently, he took a swan dive (...er sparrow dive?) onto the patio.

We watched him all morning and no one came to feed him. By lunch time he had stopped moving around and was lying on his side with his little birdy feet sticking out, so I picked him up and put him in a shoe box to take over to the wildlife rehab folks. I went to wash my hands because he’d used the ‘peep-like-you’re-being-ax-murdered-and-poop-on-your-rescuer-as-many-times-as-you-possibly-can’ defense. [If it’s not in the Audubon manuals it should be. It’s been used on me-more than once! It’s just that kind of attitude that gets you a nickname like Grumpy McFeatherbutt ! ] I came back in the living room after washing up and Ben had his big, goofy nose stuck in the hole at one end of the shoebox and was snuffing and snorting as fast and as mightily as he could. I don’t know which was more amusing; the thought of what the little bird saw in the hole, or the vision in my head of him being sucked over to the hole and then blown back across the box over and over. He was none the worse for wear, although I think Ben sucked 'that new bird smell' out of him. The Rehab folks seemed to think he’d be just fine.

Click to Biggify! He's so cute! Look at how grumpy he is!

Other than that I’ve been plowing through books. There is nothing like snuggling in with a good novel on a rainy evening. Two recommendations: ‘The Swan Thieves’ by Elizabeth Kostova (who also wrote ‘The Historian’) and ‘The Widow’s War’ by Sally Gunning. Good historical fiction that will suck you in and keep you up reading until way past bedtime!

Oh! I lied! I DID learn something this week! I learned that not everything translates well into English. Here is the label from the lid on a box of chocolate covered 'almonds' received from Japan.

Finally chocolate 'treats' I can totally resist! How's your week goin'?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hometown Parade

I moseyed on down to the Ear on Sunday. It was "Knit In Public Day" and they reserved all of their front lawn for knitters who wanted to watch the HomeTown Festival parade.

There were bagpipers. I LOVES me a man in a kilt.

And Scoopie from Culvers
The Swiss Fire Brigade that climbed up a ladder in the middle of the street.
Human Porcupines ...
And Mr. T wannabees, on bikes.
Great Danes...
... and this guy. This is Katie's son Cole. He's rocking this season's Cub Scout look with panache! Note the scarf undone a la Arrowsmith, and the shades!
Who cares if you're in the middle of a parade? A photo op is a photo op! Glad the kid behind him didn't run over him!

It was a great parade and though it was overcast, the rain held off until about 10 minutes after the parade was over. We Hoggenbloggers went inside The Ear and knit the afternoon away while the rain pattered outside. Perfect way to spend a Sunday!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday

I had an exceptionally bad couple of days last week. At work, I was so far behind I thought I was first and at home I ended up in a rut so deep I could hang up posters. My friends rallied round with words of encouragement and wisdom when they were very badly needed. My knitting friends took me under wing on Friday night, poured two bottles of Chocovine into me and by Saturday morning all was well with the world. Lesson: Friends will see you through. Especially friends with chocolate wine!

The weekend was fine, but by Monday, the Chocovine was (mostly) out of my system and I found myself a little gun-shy and tense on the drive in to work. So I took a deep breath and asked The Universe to give me a sign that things were going to go better this week. At that moment (I'm not kidding you, at that VERY MOMENT) a beautiful deer popped out of the woods and into the ditch and ran beside my car for a full 30 seconds before popping back in the woods. WOW! Feeling cocky, I then asked The Universe for the winning Power Ball numbers. My call hasn't been returned. Doesn't The Universe work on the Genie-In-A-Bottle system of three wishes? If I had KNOWN you only get ONE....I mean the deer was beautiful and all, but... Lesson 1: If you really need a sign and you believe, the Universe will give you one. Lesson 2 : Be very careful what you wish for... because end up with a fleeting glimpse of deer in a ditch instead of $200,000,000!

What did YOU learn this week?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Weekend Fun

This post contains pics of last weekend and this weekend because my computer has been a bit peckish and I haven't been able to import pics. The problem seems to be solved.

Last weekend I went to lunch at friends Scott and Michael's house.
Michael handcrafted yummy marinated kabobs. He is a chef extraordinaire!

And we had a wonderful lunch on the patio at their beautiful new house.

Afterward Scott got a second installment of knitting lessons. See that face? That's what he thinks of knitting when he doesn't see the camera.
This is his "I'm on the air and I LOVE knitting" face.

This weekend I threaded my way through the Kinder soccer extravaganza at Redden Soccer Park to see friends Pat, Wee Paddie and Brenda.

Beside ripping up the field like Pele (two goals and at least one assist thank you very much!), Wee Paddie had fun climbing on the Verona Fire Truck.That kid is just cuter than a speckled pup!
Rain cancelled my Sat. night plans so I had some unexpected down time for reading, spinning and nursing the sunburn I got at the soccer game. Guess they don't call it Redden Park for nothing!
How was YOUR weekend?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday

(After I read this entry, I realized it was a little bawdy as well as containing an inexplicably high rate of scat references. Read at your own risk!)

♥All of my ‘over-achiever’ friends scattered to the winds this long weekend to celebrate the ‘official kick off’ to summer. Expensive airline tickets, boats and water gear, camping gear, campground spaces, water park passes, and gallons of gasoline were purchased. Impressive amounts of alcohol, warm potato salad and pork products were consumed. Much merry was made. Come Tuesday morning the reviews came pouring in. All I heard was complaints: too much $ spent, heat exhaustion, traffic jams, long lines, sun burn, rashes, ticks and other bug bites, food poisoning, broken equipment, and hangovers. I just don’t get it. I spent a wonderful low key weekend. Kicked it off with a fish fry Friday night with a group of friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Geocached a little on Saturday morning. Knit a little on Saturday afternoon. Movied a little one Sunday and then capped it off with a lovely picnic lunch at dear friends’ house on Monday. Tuesday found me, calm, happy, healthy and refreshed. And debt free. I like doing all of the things my friends did, just not all in the same weekend, and because I’m ‘supposed to because it’s Memorial Day’. Lesson 1: Pace yourself, People! Lesson 2: Happiness is free and doesn’t require special equipment. Lesson 3. If you’re gonna follow the herd, you’re gonna step in some poo!

♥I have an appt. for my annual mammogram today. TMI. I know. Deal. Understandably it's not particularly my favorite thing and ANY kind of doctor thing makes me nervous. And I’m going to a new place so I had to look up the address on MapQuest. Imagine my surprise when I realized the clinic is in a building that used to house a billiard parlor. Story of my life. 'Yeah, I’m just gonna mosey on down to the pool hall to get a mammo.' When I told my friend, she predicted that they would tell me that their equipment was broken and they’d have to perform the exam manually. But she also said that if I played my cards right, I could get them to PAY ME! I’m now to amused to be nervous. Lesson: Life is WAY amusing if you know where to look.

♥I was pooh-poohing an idea that was suggested by a friend. He was wicked excited about it and I was being a Debbie Downer about the whole thing. He looked at me and said, “Don’t be a turd in the sandbox!”. Then later that same day a friend used that as her status on Facebook. I’d never heard it before and thought it was hysterical (both times, because I’ve met 9 year-olds with senses of humor more mature than mine). The Universe was obviously delivering the greatest lesson/phrase EVER into my capable hands. I’m pretty sure this will be a regular part of my vernacular from now on. It’s apropos for so many occasions! General Life Lesson: Don’t be a turd in the sandbox!

What did you learn this week?