Monday, January 29, 2007

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let It Snow...But Not On The Damn Roads, Please!!

When I went to work last night, the prediction was for a "light dusting to one inch" of snow. And, it was snowing very lightly. Just a few flakes here and there. Later in the evening, though, visitors were coming in with tales of slippery roads and lots of snow. Uh-oh. I still need new tires on my car. Not much I can do about that now. So, I just hope for the best, and when the sun starts coming up in the morning, we can see a little more. The first thing I see are trucks plowing the top of the parking garage. Not a good sign. When the day shift starts trickling in, we hear different reports. "Very slippery." "Not bad at all." "Roads not plowed." "Great roads, just wet." Apparently, it depended on where you were.

So, I leave work, get out of the garage, and see that things don't look too bad here. I did get stuck when I had to stop for a schoolbus, and couldn't get started again. I guess I was on a patch of ice. I finally managed to get going, and decided to stick to the main roads. I don't usually take them, because there is so much traffic, but I heard that they were pretty good. Well, they were mostly clear, at least in the left lane, but the right lane was slushy in places, in fact, a lot of places. Everyone in the left hand is traveling at top speed, which I don't want to do, because a: I don't want to get a ticket, and b: I still have crappy tires. So, I opt for the side roads. That started out pretty well, but pretty soon, I felt like I was traveling on four flat tires. Packed down slush tends to be bumpy. About a mile on, the road was clear, just wet, and I could zip along pretty well. All of a sudden the road was full of snow and slush, and really slippery. It looked like the plows had decided to not even bother. The rest of the trip home was like that - white knuckle driving. Yuk.

On the bright side of this, it did look like a winter wonderland. All the snow was still on the tree branches, and it was just beautiful. The sun was coming up, and it looked like millions of diamonds sparkling in the trees and grass. I didn't have my camera with me, and even if I did, I'm not sure I would have had the presence of mind to fire off a few photos. My backyard was gorgeous. There were a lot of tracks in the snow - no pristine snow here. I think Dave had Dusty out in the yard last night, and there were a million squirrel tracks, and a few deer tracks. The deer have figured out that I put out Critter Mix for the squirrels, and they devour it every chance they get. Great. I have the squirrels raiding the bird feeders, and now I have the deer raiding the squirrel feeders.

Almost done with the socks. I'm just about to where I have to decrease for the toe. I had planned to sleep til about 1 this afternoon, but I was so tired that plan went to hell, and I didn't get up until about 4, so I didn't get as much knitting done as I thought I would. I'm still trying to figure out my next project. I really need to work on Chris's sweater, but there are so many other things I want to start - like I need any more projects hanging around. Plus, I have been working my way through the boxes in my bedroom, and have come up with several unfinished quilting projects. A new sewing machine is in the works for the next few weeks, so I can hear these quilting projects calling me, too.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hot? Cold? Sun? Snow? WTF?

This has been an interesting month, to say the least. 73 degrees two weekends ago, with lots of other nice temperatures sprinkled in there, and this week, we're in the arctic. It's supposed to be 15 degrees tonight (and of course, I'm on call at 3 am!) We've even had a little bit of snow for the last few days, and a mini-blizzard today:This was taken on Washington Road, on the way to Princeton today. It was like a white-out for a few minutes, but a few blocks away, the roads weren't even damp.

I've been moving right along on the Cherry Tree Hill socks in River Run. Cherry Tree Hill has the most amazing colors. I love this colorway. Teals, purples, greens, blues, and all set off by a bronzy-brown that shows up in there.
I may have to get another skein of this and make myself a pair. I'd like to have these done by this weekend. I probably won't have too much time to blog for the next few days - I'm working three-in-a-row. So, I'll work, eat, sleep, and knit. And, after this sock, I think I need to get working on Chris's sweater.

I've also been cleaning out my room. I've come up with a few partially finished bed and wall quilts that need to be backed. I have one wall quilt I need to finish - I have to make a few more blocks and then sew them together. I finally have a desk in my bedroom, and I'm planning on getting a sewing machine - along with the quilts, I have partially finished curtains for my bedroom. I want to take the curtains I have hanging and burn them. I'm so sick of them. That's a real incentive for finishing the other ones. I have a week off next month, so I'm hoping to get a lot of this together.

A little territorial dispute between Gremlin and Mr. B. it never got too far, because Chris was standing there.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sick, Sick, Sick

Yuck. What's worse than a winter cold? I've felt sort of under the weather all week long, and last night, it really hit me. My ears hurt, my throat hurts, even my hair hurts. Ugh. All I want to do is vegetate. I did venture outside briefly to take my Saturday Sky picture. It's been a while since I posted one of those, so here it is. Nice blue sky. Looks lovely, doesn't it? It's somewhat misleading, though. Those little white clouds are accompanied by wicked winds of arctic temperatures. And every now and then, one of those blasts of wind is accompanied by a five minute blast of snow flurries.

Because of the cold weather, my birdfeeders are doing quite a business. I have the squirrel feeders filled up, but as you can see, they still go for the birdfeeders. This particular feeder is filled up with safflower seed coated with hot pepper powder. I'm told that squirrels hate safflower seeds, and that they cannot stand hot pepper powder, but
I guess this squirrel didn't get that message. You can see three other squirrels at the ground feeder, and another squirrel on the left near the feeder, plus a few opportunistic doves cruising around. The other picture is a few finches at the nyjer sock. Sometimes that entire sock is covered in finches. I was trying to get a picture of a fat little wren who was busy cramming herself into the cage part of my cage feeder. I feared she wouldn't be able to get back out, but apparently she can make herself svelte enough to fit through the cage openings.

Am still knitting along on my Cherry Tree Hill gift sock. I'm heading to the toe, and I don't have a picture of the progress I made since last night. So, just to put some actual knitting pictures on here, I've got some pictures I took today of some afghan squares

I have hanging around. They're being knit of Red Heart acrylic (I know, I know, please don't enlighten me), but since this afghan is going on the couch, and it is going to have to deal with 14 cats and a golden retriever sleeping on it, it's a good choice. I made afghans out of this yarn 25 years ago, and they're still going strong. it also looks like I may have dye lot issues, but once again, this is an afghan that's going to get used, so I really don't give a rats ass. Boy, being sick really makes me crabby, doesn't it?


Heh. While typing the last sentence of the last paragraph above, my phone rang. Our unit secretary was on the phone telling me I was the mandatory on-call, and needed to get in there.
So, I did. Fortunately, I was only there for three hours, which isn't bad at all. So, I'll finish my post, get my pictures up, and get this thing published.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Slip Sliding Away

Oddly enough, I was listening to that song this morning as I was navigating our somewhat frozen streets, while attempting to get home in one piece. Yesterday, around 2 in the afternoon, we got a surprise. Snow. I had just pulled in the driveway, and as I got out of the car, I noticed lots of tiny white things in the air. Tiny snowflakes. By the time I got in the house and said "Hey, it's snowing", they had changed into big fat fluffy flakes. They covered everything pretty quickly. It snowed for about an hour, and then stopped, and then started again, and then stopped for good around 5 in the evening. Just in time for me to go to work. The ride to work was better than I thought, and I got there uneventfully. I did notice that the town I work in had less snow than we had. However, around 6 this morning, when I looked out the window, I could see the streets below had some snow cover, and traffic was moving slowly. Uh-oh. People coming in for the 7 am shift were reporting that roads were slippery, and depending on which direction you were going in, downright treacherous. So, feeling a bit nervous, I got in my car, and drove out of the parking garage. Right off the bat, I noticed a problem. The exit from the garage is a slight incline. I slid down that incline and landed in the street. The car behind me seemed to have the same problem, but managed not to hit me. Crap. This is going to be some ride home. It really wasn't that bad. The salt trucks had been out, and except for one or two spots, wasn't bad at all. But, as we all know, even one spot can be bad. I was coming up to a stop sign, and stopped slowly, because the road looked like glass, and did do a slide to the right. I managed to right my car, and get home with only a few new grey hairs. The picture at the top is what things looked like after a few minutes of snow.

One thing I've noticed over the years is that whenever it snows, my birdfeeders do a booming business. I usually have a lot of birds, but they tend to come in spurts during the day. When it snows, the first birds show up right away, and more and more keep coming. They do this until it gets dark, or stops snowing, whichever comes first. I had about three dozen juncos, several woodpeckers, a dozen doves, a couple dozen purple and gold finches, and several cardinals and bluejays, plus the usual assortment of chickadees, titmice, and woodpeckers. Add in some rowdy squirrels, and it was a fun time out there. I had refilled the feeders the day before, so there was plenty to go around. The picture is taken through my family room window, and is what my cats see from their vantage point. You can see at the bottom of the picture, a window feeder attached to the window (it feeds birds, not windows!), and an assortment of pole feeders, suet cages, nyjer bags, and a cage feeder to keep small birds safe from the big birds.

I'm moving right along on the Cherry Tree Hill Socks in River Run. I took nearly two dozen pictures of them, both indoors and outdoors, and felt kind of frustrated because I cannot capture the true colors of this yarn. It looks very blue in the picture, but it is a beautiful mix of teal, purple, medium blue, green and a bronzy-brown color. I know it's expensive, but these colors and the feel of these socks when they're on your feet are a real treat. These are not going to be mine, because I'm making them for someone, but it's going to be hard to part with them. In the pictures, they look very similar to the pair I made for myself in October, but the colors are distinctly different. In real life, at least.

Gremlin deals with the whole snow thing by parking his body on the nearest heat vent, in this case, the one near the sliding glass door, where he could watch the bird circus outside. Unfortunately for him, I seem to have taken this picture at a rather odd angle. When Dave saw it, he said, "why does Grem look like he has such a big butt?" Ahem. While Grem is somewhat chubby, he is more in proportion than this picture shows. It kind of makes him look like a furry termite. Good thing he doesn't understand pictures.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Through The Fog

That would describe my trip home this morning. Cool, drizzly, and foggy. Fortunately, not enough to be a hindrance to driving, and because of the holiday, very light traffic. I'd just finished my third 12 hour shift in a row, so I appreciated being able to get home in one piece. Another shift tonight, then I'm off for a few days.

Since I wake up only an hour or two before work, I haven't had time to knit for the past few days. I do have a work in progress, though. I'm progressing nicely through a pair of gift socks. I love Cherry Tree Hill yarn.
The socks I've made for myself from that yarn go through the washer and dryer nicely. I know it says to hand wash, but I'm not a big fan of that. Oh, yeah, notice how the yarn is wound into a nice yarn cake? That's the result of my new swift and yarn winder. Why didn't I get one of these before?

Anyway, I'll catch up more later in the week. Gotta go earns the means to keep my electricity, thus the computer, on.

Caught Alex munching on the garland around the stair banister during the holidays. Gotta love the "Who, me?" look.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Blame It On Chris Noth...Or, Why I Shouldn't Knit While Watching "Sex And The City"

Well, I started the "Something Red" in blue over the weekend. I already made this sweater once, in red, and didn't have any major problems knitting it. However, since I started this sweater in blue, I ripped back twice. Last night was the last straw. I found three different knitting mistakes. Aaargh!
You can see all three in these pictures. In the first one, I've managed to move a stitch marker over by one stitch, creating a definite jog in my nice straight line of yarn overs. In the second and third picture, I've managed to twist stitches and leave out a yarn over. Or both. In any event, the result is the same. As I said, I'm blaming it on Chris Noth. I've been watching the first season of "Sex and the City" on HBO on demand for the last couple of nights while I've been knitting, and clearly, my mind was not on my knitting. How could it be? I thought Chris Noth was a hunk way back when he was on Law and Order. I mourned when he left the show. I didn't watch "Sex" when it first came on. I tend to not hop on the bandwagon for "popular" things. (Soprano's was on for a full season before I caught on. And, I watched the second only because my son got me the first season on DVD for Christmas and got me hooked.)Where was I? Oh, yes, screwed up knitting. Mr. Noth is tall, dark, handsome, and a hunk anyway you look at it. I'm not to be blamed for skipping stitches. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

Anywho, this is what has become of that particular project. I'll start it again, when I'm ready to devote my full attention to it. But, all is not lost. I started another project today. No, I don't have project ADD, it's a gift for someone. I do need to get it done fairly quickly. A pair of socks, done in Cherry Tree Hill "River Run", a nice blend of purple, blue, green and brownish-gold. And, you'd better believe these are for someone who means a lot to me, especially if I'm giving up a skein of Cherry Tree Hill yarn. And, I used my new ball-winder and swift for the first time today to wind this yarn. Wow! I was amazed at how easy it was, compared to my old drape-the-skein-of-yarn-over-my-feet-method. I wound it up in just a few minutes. The only mistake I made was losing track of the beginning of the yarn, so I have to unwind from the outside. Oh well. Live and learn - next time, I'll leave a longer end, and keep track of it.

Mr. B at Christmas. He was a good boy - he was outside the tree. However, he did give this ornament a good whack, and knock it off the tree seconds after I took this picture.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Christmas is Over...

I spent this afternoon and most of this evening taking down the tree and the decorations. For the last few years, when my life was nuttier than it is now, I just jammed the decorations into any old box. That really played havoc with us this year, when I wanted to decorate. A box marked outside? Guess what - tree stuff. I wound up buying new garland for around the front door, along with new lights for the door and the windowboxes because I couldn't find them. I just found the old stuff yesterday. I tossed some of the old stuff out because it was ratty, and the lights looked like hell. So, I'm more organized this year.

I was really happy with the real tree this year. For years, we've had an artificial tree (because my husband said so - I didn't have too much say in it). My kids hated it, and so did I. We used the artificial tree for the years I was in school, because I didn't have time to really think about it. This year, they asked to have a real tree, and I said go for it, and they did. We wound up with an 8 1/2 foot Frasier Fir. Really, really nice tree. And the best part is, the cats stayed out of it. Every year they dismantle our artificial tree, but this year, nada. No cats in the tree. How nice was that? I didn't have to pick up ornaments from all over the family room and dining room, and branches off the floor.

I think I forgot to mention that I got a ball winder and a swift from some of the kids. I'm so happy - up until now, my ball winding has been to drape the skein over my feet, and wind from there. Very time consuming - it took about a half hour for each skein to be wound that way. So, when I had 14 skeins of Philosopher's wool to wind, I knew it would be a while before I could knit, even if I just wound one ball of each color I was using.

And, here is a picture of my current project. Rats. Why rats?? Well, I was this far along at least on Sunday afternoon, when I noticed that I'd left off two of the YO's, which make up the decorative pattern along the raglan sleeves.
Crap. So, I ripped it back. And wouldn't you know it, I had to rip back nearly to the beginning. I made the mistake in row 6. Double crap. So, I spent last night watching episodes 1-9 of Sex in the City on my On-Demand channel. It kept me up til 4:30 in the morning, which turned out to be a Good Thing, because I forgot I was on call from 3am-7am. Fortunately, I wasn't called, but staying up that late fouled up my day today. But, I am loving the blue and the yarn. The more I knit, the better I like it.

I haven't been on ebay lately, which is another Good Thing, because I haven't bought any yarn. It's about time the yarn diet started. My stash is not nearly as big as some others I've seen, but it is certainly big enough to keep me knitting for quite a while.

It was 74 degrees here on Saturday. Beautiful day. Felt so nice. I have a crappy car, and lousy tires, so I'm hoping we get minimal snow this winter. Today, we had a monsoon. I don't know how much rain, but we had a pond where our backyard used to be.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My New Year's Resolution Is....

to quit spending so much damn time on Flickr and quit playing minesweeper, and pay more attention to my blog. So, with that in mind, here I am again, for the second time in three days. Not bad.

However, that means I have to have something to blog about. That means I have to do some actual knitting. And of course, that means I have to be able to find my actual knitting. Truthfully, I can find the knitting I intended to do, I just can't find the book with the pattern. I saw it before Christmas, so I'm assuming that it just got moved around, and will show up again after I put the Christmas stuff away. So, just because I don't have nearly enough UFO's hanging around, I decided to start another one. What you see here is the baby beginnings of another "Something Red". In blue. I already made one in red, and I was less than thrilled with it. No, not the pattern, the yarn. I made the red one in TLC Cotton Plus, and while the cotton part was fine, I was underwhelmed with the Plus part. Too shiny, too limp. I'm making this one out of Lion Brand Cotton-Ease. I know, I know, Lion Brand blah blah blah. Bite me. If you don't like it, that's fine. I've made a couple of things out of it, and was pleasantly surprised at this yarn. I don't like cotton yarns as a rule, because they grow. I hate making a hip-length sweater, and having it become a knee-length sweater in a short amount of time. I've made acrylic sweaters, and while they do have a place in my wardrobe, I'm not crazy enough about them to wear them all the time. But, add a little acrylic to cotton, and suddenly the cotton behaves much better. And, I love this blue. It's a sort of royal blue, without being the in your face color so many royal blues are. And, I love blue anyway. I try to expand my colors, to wear and make things out of other colors, but I keep coming back to blue.

I've also been doing a little reading, and watching a little tv. I saw United 93 a few weeks ago, on PPV. I was surprised at this movie. it was so much better than I thought it would be. No "love story" crammed in there, no Bruce Willis-type hero. It was done in real time, and in a documentary style. I didn't think I could stand seeing it, but I'm glad I did.

Just finished reading the Great Hurricane of 1938, about the hurricane that hit Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. No one knew it was coming, and it was a disaster. Kind of hard to believe, when nowadays we hear endless reports every time there is a storm of any size.

And, I read 102 minutes, which happens to be about people trying to get out of the Twin Towers after the aircraft hit, and before they collapsed. Once again, an amazing read. I read it in two nights.

I just remembered, I need to wind a ball of yarn for the last sock in my "socktoberfest" knitting. I knitted one pair, and one sock out of the second pair, and then got busy for the holidays. And, thanks to my kids, I can wind a ball of yarn quicker. I got a ball winder and a swift for Christmas. Yay!! Now I don't have to drape a skein of yarn over my feet, and wind from there. That is a tedious and boring process, and god forbid I should have to get up before I finish. Turns into a real mess.

Megan says "Get off the #$%@!& computer and pay some attention to me!"

Monday, January 01, 2007

Hi There!

I'm back! While I know that thrills all one of my readers, I'm going to try to keep this up a little more. I was doing pretty well until the holidays hit, and then my blogging went to hell in a handbasket.

Still trying to figure out my next project. I think I'm going to finish up Chris's Philosopher's Wool sweater. In the meantime, I've been working on my "small" project - "small" here meaning that while there's a lot of yarn involved in this project, it's done in pieces. I'm talking about the Great American Afghan. I started this a while ago, and it's a convenient project for when I am suffering from major indecision, or just feeling to lazy to work on a large project. At least it gives me the feeling of being somewhat productive, instead of just lazy.

Speaking of lazy, I still have some major overhauling to do here. Been getting some of it done, but my bedroom in particular needs a lot of work. When my sons switched bedrooms, and my husband moved out, a lot of stuff landed in my room. Some of it is still sitting there. So, I'm taking a week's vacation next month to work on getting it organized. Can you stand it? I mean, I'm a real party animal, aren't I? How many people take a week off from work to organize their bedroom? I think I need to get back in the habit of having a real life. I have worked all sorts of part-time jobs over the last thirty years, mostly so I could take care of my kids, when they were kids. This type of job doesn't usually come with vacation or sick time, and my husband was never one for actually going on a vacation, so I don't know what else to do with myself at this time. Oh, yeah, I guess there is a small matter of money. I don't have enough money to really go anywhere, but hopefully, that will change.

Christmas was pretty nice. We split the day between the in-laws (I'm still friendly with them), and my family. I just avoided my husband while we were at his family's celebration. I got all three books of the Lord of the Rings on audiobooks - that's 46 cds. I figure that will keep me busy for a while. I am thinking of getting a treadmill. I really need some exercise, and my work hours right now kind of keep me from getting any decent exercise during daylight hours.