29 April 2006

Gone Awry

a•wry (ə rī'), adj.
1. In a position that is turned or twisted toward one side; askew.
2. Away from the correct course; amiss.

TSKP is, or at least was, progressing very well. I managed to get most of the seaming done in the wee hours of the morning.


The biggest drawback to the pattern book I'm using is that there are no schematics. The instructions simply tell one to seam all the pieces up, as if it will be perfectly obvious and natural how all the parts are meant to fit together, like pieces of a puzzle.

Puzzling, indeed. Most of the parts are quite easy to sort out and very straightforward, except for perhaps the most important section. There are four main pieces involved in the assembly, with no clear explanation of how they are meant to fit together and only two artistically done photos to use as references. "Artistically done" is the key phrase, as a fairly crucial portion of the assembly is not visible in either photo - cut off in one, and simply not visible in the other, which is also tastefully blurred so as to obscure any other details which might be useful.

So anyway, I forged ahead, thinking I could sort it out from the inadequate photos and just plain intuition. I was wrong. It came out looking sad, pathetic, and awry in both senses of the word. So now I'm faced with trying to rip out all the seams, which I'm just too tired to risk taking on tonight. The good news is that even if the scissors slip and I have to reknit those four pieces frantically, I should be able to finish it on time without too much trouble.

28 April 2006

Busy As A....

When I got to work last night, I saw these behind the building next door:

If you don't recognize them or the title didn't clue you in as to what these are, then maybe this will help:

I've always thought it would be fun to keep honeybees. I loved watching them work as a kid - still do. They're just fascinating little critters all the way 'round. Of course, I also love love LOVE honey, especally the raw, straight-from-the-hive stuff. Perhaps one day, when I have a farm and a small orchard....

I felt a bit like a worker bee myself last night. It wasn't terribly busy, on the whole, but cases kept coming in steadily all night, leaving me with no time to work on seaming TSKP. The most interesting one was a dog who was shot in the course of a break-in - crazy stuff for Maine, especially as it sounded as though it was over some drug-related dispute, but the dog was very lucky and should do okay (despite the fact that she's now carrying evidence around in her leg that the police would really like to have - I decided it was safer to let her heal some before attempting surgery).

Now I've brought TSKP home and still haven't done any more seaming on it. My excuse is that I had a bunch of errands to run after I got home and was up for 24 hours before going to bed, then only slept for 6, but I think I'm going to go watch House of Flying Daggers and work on it for a while. Then it's back to bed so I can be a worker bee all over again tomorrow.

25 April 2006

More Dangerous Than France

Lately I've been thinking an inordinate amount about Onion Head Monster. I've been a fan for a number of years, since I lived in North Carolina when the artist, Paul Friedrich, was exhibiting fairly regularly at Lump. I even bought an Onion Head Monster painting for my cousin George one year (He loved it). I think having a monster of my own has been bringing back fond memories of Onion Head, so I just thought I'd share. His website also has some fun little animations here.

In Knitting News

I continue to work on the sweater sampler on my nights at home. I'm up to the raised stripes, so it's possible I might finish by the end of the week, but TSKP is about to take center stage even at home. I finished the last piece of TSKP last night at work, but the death and destruction closed in and I didn't have time to do more than that. On Wednesday, though, David is headed to a big alpaca show in Pennsylvania, which means I'll actually be able to work on TSKP both at work and here at home through the weekend. I have to have it finished by next Wednesday, which is his birthday and the day he leaves for yet another alpaca show in Denver. Dinner & birthday cake may have to wait until he's home, but I really want to have this project finished. I guess I'm going to have to get really good at seaming really fast.

22 April 2006

A Dremel Is a Beautiful Thing

It was a lovely spring day, though a bit cooler than yesterday's lovely spring day. I missed a fair chunk of it because I couldn't get to sleep worth a damn until well after the sun was up, then slept until well into the afternoon. Rosa, however, managed to spend most of the day outside making the most of the sunshine.

I did, at least, manage to get to the town office before they closed and get her dog license, so now she'll be legal when we go to the beach. Now I just need to get the Frontline I ordered for her, so that at least one of us won't be bringing home ticks from the beach (yesterday it was both of us, from the grassy peninsula between the two crescent-shaped beaches).

Before the daylight faded, I broke out the Dremel to see what I could manage with the mangled Brittany. I ground down the chewed-up tip with a sandpaper drum attachment, then used this buffing attachment to smoothe it out.

Not exactly as good as new, but much better than before and very usable, at least. And the Monster has been watched very, very closely tonight.

21 April 2006

The Monster Attacks!

So I've been working on Jacqueline Fee's sweater sampler and things have been going fairly well. When I decided to cast on, I couldn't find an appropriately-sized circular and decided to just do the whole thing on Brittany dpn's. So tonight I set it down briefly to look up something online and turned back around to see Tolo happily chewing on the tip of one of the needles, leaving it looking like this:

That little fucker.

This house does not have decent lighting to do macro photography, so the photo is only light enough thanks to Photoshop and doesn't even do the damage justice. It doesn't show where the needle's missing a chunk on the other side, and it can't give a real impression of just how wonky and in danger of falling off the tip is. This is going to require the Dremel, really fine sandpaper, and probably some clear nail polish. I have the first two, but rummaging around for power tools at 3AM when your partner's trying to sleep isn't exactly conducive to domestic bliss. So I soldiered on, wonky needle and all and managed to get to here:

And now the sky's starting to turn pink, so it's time for me to head to bed.

19 April 2006

Pasta for Breakfast

At David's suggestion we had some of the leftover curried chickpeas over penne - breakfast for me, supper for him at 10PM. It was yummy, and I had some chocolate for dessert.

On my way home from work this morning, I bought two balls of Paton's Classic Wool - the only pure wool yarn they're still making, I think - to make the sweater sampler from Jacqueline Fee's Sweater Workshop book. I may try to cast on tonight, or I may decide to go to bed early, as I'm still pretty tired.

Celebrity Foolishness

When I got up this evening and was reading through news headlines, I read that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's baby girl had been born and that they'd named her Suri, which I found just hilarious. I wonder if she'll grow up to look like this.

It has been suggested that I look into whether they're selling their ultrasound, but one of the things I need is a probe for doing transrectal studies (I'm not joking. This is essential for early pregnancy diagnosis & for evaluating the prostate in male 'pacas. In dogs I should be able to see the prostate with a transabdominal probe). If they had one, I'm thinking I would be afraid to use it.

17 April 2006


I've probably eaten more chocolate than I should have today, but it was necessary after last night at work. In my 10+ years of doing emergency work, I've found that the upper limit of a reasonable caseload is an average of one case per hour across a shift. It's rare, of course, that cases are spread out evenly over the course of a shift, but that average seems to be quite manageable, albeit busy at times.

My shifts are 15 hours, plus I often stay a bit past the end of my shift to take phone calls and finish up any lingering paperwork. Last night I got in a half hour early, as is my custom, and things were so busy that I started in almost immediately. Within 6 hours I'd seen 19 cases, with one more early morning case coming in before my shift ended. The scary thing is that it isn't even summer yet, and that's far and away busier than any other season. Not much got done on TSKP, but I was able to pick it up for a short while.

I came home to yummy blueberry pecan muffins that David made last night, then went to bed and slept hard all day. This evening I got up and made curried chickpeas and my first ever attempt at naan, which was tasty but just a bit more leavened than it should be. Then we watched Fellini's 8 1/2, and I did a few more rounds on the vest.

I was just reading Brooke T. Higgins's blog (after looking at her cute "Reid" pattern in the latest issue of knitty - a pattern I may need to make for my sister's girls). Anyway, she's propagating a Wikipedia meme, which I hadn't seen before and am now about to spread like an insidious virus (with apologies to JoVE). Go to Wikipedia and search for your birthdate (sans year), then list three interesting events, three people who were born, and three people who died on that date. So here goes:

On my birthday, April 2....

1792 - The Coinage Act is passed establishing the United States Mint.
1930 - Haile Selassie is proclaimed emperor of Ethiopia.
1956 - As the World Turns and The Edge of Night first aired on the CBS network in the United States, as the first half-hour serial dramas.

1805 - Hans Christian Andersen, Danish writer (d. 1875)
1947 - Emmylou Harris, American singer
1965 - Rodney King, American victim of police brutality

1657 - Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 1608)
1872 - Samuel Morse, American inventor (b. 1791)
2005 - Pope John Paul II (b. 1920)

15 April 2006

Friday Night Social

Thursday night at work was non-stop until about 2AM, then settled down until 5AM, when it started back up again. It was good to get home and go to bed. I woke up at about 6PM to David telling me that we were going over to the boathouse where Wendy, one of our landladies, has her art studio. We had Mexican food, a few alcoholic beverages, and a belated birthday apple pie for me.

After David went to bed and I did a bit of cleaning up, I decided to do a bit of work on this vest that I'd started then set aside for a few months:

The yarn is Harrisville's Flax & Wool. The plan is to work a traditional Fair Isle design across the chest in their Orchid yarn, which I have in black, and then work a shallow V-neck. At this point the plan for the neck, at least, is a bit tentative, but I figure I've got several more inches of stockinette to get through before I have to think too hard about it again.

During my little break at work last night, I was able to make a bit more progress on TSKP and even did a little bit of seaming. Only 18 days to go!

13 April 2006

Books, Books, Books

One of my big goals over the past year or so has been to work on getting myself out of debt. The Village Knittiot recently wrote about this, and her experience has not been terribly dissimilar to my own, except that she's probably a bit more practiced than myself. David & I have both read Dave Ramsey's book, and though the evangelical stuff is a bit much for this committed heathen, the financial advice is pretty straightforward. We may not follow it down to the last jot and tittle, but we are careful about finances and I've been getting my debt levels down steadily, which is a very good feeling.

One credit card that I have and probably use more than any other, though, is an Amazon.com Visa. I actually try to avoid using it and am fairly successful, for the most part, but it is where automatic charges like my phone bill (Vonage - I've been very happy with them and it's very inexpensive) and gym membership go. The big attraction of this particular card is that I get kickback in the form of gift certificates to Amazon, which I know will get used - often very quickly. And yes, I know that it's better to go through independent booksellers (or directly from the publisher in the case of a lot of knitting books) and I will often do so, but if they won't take my gift certificate directly and their books are available through Amazon, then that's what I'm going to do.

In any event, I recently received a gift certificate from them, and while sorting through paperwork to do my taxes I found another I'd misplaced in last year's moves. So tomorrow I should be getting these two books:

And in a few weeks, I should be getting this book - Barbara Walker's First Treasury. I'm very excited.

12 April 2006

Heading Home

After a fairly restful weekend off, my busy work week started off with a bang. Last night kept me fairly busy until well after midnight, after which it slowed down enough to let me make some more progress on TSKP. I actually only have 4 pieces left to make, and then it'll be time to start seaming. Here's a pic of everything so far, which I think is nondescript enough so as not to totally give away what it's going to look like when finished.

David knows I'm making him something for his birthday and knows that it's not a sweater (mustn't tempt the curse), but that's all he knows so far. Only three more weeks until his birthday, but I should finish it handily by then.

My big accomplishment of the weekend was getting my taxes done. I had the fun of filing in two states, as well as having a bit of self-employment income to factor in, but I'm getting a hefty return back from the Feds. I also got a little back from each state, but donated those refunds to wildlife conservation & pet spay/neuter funds. Some of the fed refund will go into savings, which is a little depleted at the moment from having to pay local income taxes for the 5 months of last year I was living in Pittsburgh. The remainder will go towards paying down credit card debt - a task which is progressing nicely. I hope to get rid of a couple of credit accounts in the next month or two and have a couple others and my car loan paid off within the year. If I'm able to stick to the plan, I hope to be debt-free in the next 3-4 years.

Now, though, it's time to go home and sleep.

08 April 2006

TSKP Update

I recently realized that I hadn't given a proper update in a while. I've finished the last of the big pieces and another of the little pieces, leaving me ten little pieces to make - all in stocking stitch with minimal shaping. Three of them (the three largest of the remaining pieces) are literally plain rectangles. I have 3 1/2 weeks to get everything done and assembled, but I don't anticipate any problems in doing so unless I go really. really. really. slowly. Or unless work gets too crazy for me to spare the time, which is always a possibility. Let's hope for neither

07 April 2006

Gotta Love That Gay Pop Sound

This is my new favorite, just-downloaded-from-iTunes album du jour - very retro with an infectious homo groove. I owe it all to the CBC Radio 3 podcast, though it does make me wonder where I would find an equivalent source for good American indie music. Any suggestions?

Apparently, Scooter Libby has said that Cheney told him that Bush said it was okay to leak Valerie Plame's name to the press. Not that this comes as any real surprise, even though it only kind of implicates Bush by hearsay in a seemingly very middle schoolish kind of way. The funny thing is that Alberto Gonzales has apparently said that Bush has "inherent power" to decide to declassify information, by way of saying that it would all be okay if Bush said it could be done. But if that's the case, then the Administration is left with no explanation as to why Bush publicly condemned the leaks and why we've gone through this whole special prosecutor thing and why Scooter Libby was indicted if this whole thing was really legal in the first place because Bush said it was okay. It's all very confusing, so I'm just going to go along with Garrison Keillor on this one and put my money on love.

I love David, even though we still don't seem to have sorted out the whole sleeping arrangement thing with our respective coughs (his is from a massive allergy attack at the alpaca show last weekend). Mine is slowly improving, but I've run out of codeine, and without that to mix with antihistamines and/or alcohol, there's not much chance of uninterrupted sleep.* Tonight he woke up for a while and we held each other and coughed until I made us both some herbal tea and did a shot of some generic Dayquil and generic Robitussin mixed together in the vain hope that it would help. Now he's trying exile in the guest room, and I'm off to see if I can do a bit of spinning until the sun starts to come up and I need to rest up for work.

*I'm kidding about the alcohol, really. That stuff's horrible for sleep.

05 April 2006

Still Breathing

At the moment I have five different drugs in me to help settle down my cough enough so that I can hopefully get some sleep again tonight. And even with five drugs, every movement of air across my vocal cords is like fire. This is actually better than last night, believe it or not. I'm going through the codeine the doctor prescribed much faster than I'm supposed to, but it takes that and more just to cut down on the coughing jags and allow me to breathe relatively normally for a while. And to give my abs a rest. All things considered, I think there must be more pleasant ways of getting a six-pack.

David got home yesterday, but I slept last night and will sleep tonight in the guest room so that he can actually get some sleep himself. It's been a week now since we slept in the same bed, and as I'm back at work Wednesday night, it'll be at least a couple more. I'm just hoping that work isn't so busy, so that I'll have fewer clients to whisper to.

The last time I had the flu was 17 years ago, and I remember that I had a cough for 2 months afterwards. I think this time may be worse. I'm definitely getting the vaccine this fall.

02 April 2006

Happy Birthday?

So today I officially moved from my mid-30's to my late 30's. I was hoping that for my birthday I'd get an end to the fever, but no such luck. It did break for a while early this morning, which was nice, but it's crept back up to a low level and stayed there all day. The cough has also been getting worse and more bronchitis-y, so I'll be going to see my physician tomorrow and will probably be forced to reschedule my acupuncture appointment.

The weather was lovely, though, so I fished one of my beach chairs out of the closet and Rosa & I sat out in front of the house in the sun and napped for a little while this afternoon. It's the first time I've been able to do that this year, and it felt so wonderful. Even if once in a while I had to stop napping to cough up a chunk of lung. My friends and family have been calling through the day, too, and while I don't particularly care to have a big fuss made - living another year doesn't generally feel like that huge an accomplishment - it is nice that people remember the day and call.

My mom's shawl is all dry, and now folded until I can get it to her. I did take photos of it unfolded, though, so here's the best one.

I should have done it earlier in the afternoon when the lighting was better, but I was napping in the sun. I did try to take a close-up detail shot, but the camera has a hard time focusing on anything too textural, and I wasn't pleased with the results. In any event, the pattern is the "Garter Lace Triangle" shawl from Martha Waterman's Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls (Interweave). The pattern is very basic and alternates bands of garter stitch with bands of openwork, increasing in the first and last stitch of every right side row. I wanted something that would be beefy and warm, as my parents live in a drafty old farmhouse, so instead of lacy & fine I went with Peace Fleece's "Baghdad Blue" yarn, of which I have a good bit in my stash.