Friday, June 29, 2007

color me many things tonight

There's the color of my yarn, and then the color of my skepticism with Wikipedia as well. Let's start with the latter.

Annalea has tagged me with a meme (my first!), to "go into Wikipedia and find things that happened on your birthday. You're supposed to list three events, two births, and one holiday". Sounds kind of fun, actually. I've looked at things on Wikipedia before, but never poked around the site in depth. I know that there's some level of question about it as a source, since anyone can edit it, but as long as you're willing to allow for that, it works for me.

I went looking for October 9th, and one of the first things I noticed was this:

1000 - Leif Ericson discovers Vinland and becomes the first known European to walk in North America.

Now, I'm sorry to sound all spoilsporty, but who was taking notes as to what exact day Leif stepped off the boat? Do we really know for sure it was October 9? For the purposes of the meme, it counts, but color me skeptical.

Anyway, that's one, and I choose it because of my Scandinavian ancestors.

A lot of historical events are negative in a bad way: battles, deaths, and so on. For my second event, I chose one that is negative in a different way. I just like this one:

1582 - Due to the implementation of the Gregorian calendar this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

There's something about the fact that for the people of these countries, there is no October 9, 1582. I like that. (I'm just funny that way.)

And in case I get back to England any time soon, let me celebrate this event from more recent history:

2005 - Smoking is fully banned on the UK rail network.

There's something I can get behind! Smoking: ugh.

Two births next. John Lennon is the easy choice, I already knew he was an October 9 (so is Sean Lennon for that matter). But guess who else is? Oh, let me do this right.

1940 - John Lennon, British musician and songwriter (The Beatles) (d. 1980)

Like everyone doesn't know who he is. But I did not know I shared a birthday with an actor I quite like in the Shakespearean-classical-"you know, those types of movies" field:

1936 - Brian Blessed, English actor

He was in Branagh's Hamlet, in Much Ado About Nothing, in Hal V ... wonderful man. And we share October 9! How about that?

(I would have picked one of the hockey players, but I've barely even heard of them, so what fun is that?)

There are, I must say, some rather dubious-looking "holidays" to choose from for October 9. It's not explaining to me, for example, why the 9th is Sarrasin (Buckwheat) Day on the French Republican Calendar, it's just trying to talk to me about buckwheat. Still, it's rather in keeping with the flower theme I've had going of late, and it's a lot less scary than some of the others. Go look if you want to see for yourself.

So there's the meme done. Now the other part, I'm supposed to "tag" five other bloggers with the same meme. It's kind of like a benign virus that way. So, let's see. If you want to, if you have time, if you're interested, etc., consider yourself tagged, you wonderful bloggers, you:
And of course, there's no obligation. Plus, if you're not on the list and want to participate, please do. It was fun.

Now, want to see some knitting?

You know you do...

Of course, at this stage of a blanket, imagination is required. It's like Kali one year putting her excess zucchini in the lunchroom at work with a sign saying "Free zucchini bread: some assembly required." Right, Kali?

First, the blanket with cast-on and one row:

Then you have it at half a dozen rows. With flash, in focus but glare and too bright:

No flash, truer to color but slight out of focus. It's hard to get it right some days, you know?

This is the stitch pattern I'm trying. It's too soon to tell if I'm going to, a, like doing it, and b, like it in this yarn, but so far so good.

The final thing to color me tonight? Tired. I shall report in, hopefully, this weekend, on a birthday party I have been invited to which features a dunk tank (a first for me, that), and on the baby shower on Sunday. But now, to bed. May your dreams be peaceful and yarny.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

the water baby

I don't know if I've mentioned how much Pan loves water, in all forms short of total immersion.

He wants his water bowl full, and when I make it "fresh" water, he follows me back, either tripping me on the way or sitting where the bowl goes while he waits for me to put it down already, put it down!

He drinks out of the toilet (I have to get a good photo of that).

He's fascinated on the rare occasions when I take a bath, perching on the edge of the tub and patting the surface of the water with his paw.

When I lived in a house with a shower door, he sat outside it while I showered and tried to "catch" the drops as they fell.

And he loves the shower after I shower. He'll even hop in when it's dry sometimes and meow at me: who does a guy have to know to get a wet shower around here? Quite often, when I pull the shower curtain back in the morning, he's waiting on the bathmat, and hops in before I have a towel around my hair.

He's an addict, actually. I was curious, before my guests came, if he was going to get in after their showers, and the answer was an emphatic yes. One day, I even had to shut him in my room. The instant the shower was turned off, he went over to the bathroom door and started meowing, demanding entrance: Let me in! I know you have a wet shower!

I let him out of the bedroom once the bathroom was vacated. He sauntered out, making it clear he was doing so of his own choice, and went straight into the bathroom. Addict.

Now that the bathroom organizer table thing that was on backorder has finally arrived, I'll be working in the bathroom this weekend, hopefully, "installing" it. It came on Tuesday, and I put it together and left it in the living room (sans litter box) for the paint smell to dissipate and the cats to get used to it (so of course they're totally ignoring it). It looks pretty nice, but we'll see how it works in the space before sending up cheers and confetti. It wasn't too bad to put together, although the illustrations were too small to be much use, and the instructions were about as good as such things usually are, meaning not so much. Still, the end result is not unimpressive. What do you think?

I like it, which is (forgive me) what matters the most.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Peas and yarn, and ... yawn

Sorry I'm late tonight. I ran some errands after work (more on that in a minute), and then do you know how long it takes to turn this:

into this:

Well, more or less into that. I ate maybe a quarter of them as I was shelling them. I'd have to have a gun to my head, and maybe more than one, to shell peas without eating some as I went along. Yum, yum, yum. Hello, dinner! This is what I mean when I say that I love peas. Exhibit A. That's 2.78 pounds before shelling (you don't eat the pods with English peas). I didn't weight them after, since that would involve not eating them as I went along; a full bowl, anyway. [I suppose I could weigh the pods, but do I actually care that much? It's a lot.]

So, first errand was the Knitting Room in Arlington to show Jackie the sweaters and hats. She confirmed what I'd thought, which is that the hats will fit (and be outgrown) before the sweaters do, but that's okay, I can make more hats very easily: I like hats, hats are simple. I don't want to make more before the shower (i.e., Sunday), but I can make them more when they're toddlers, no trouble.

I'd also gone in to pick up a gift for a knitting friend, but nothing was grabbing me for her. Meanwhile, there was this yarn ... I picked it up in one spot and said nice colors! Then in another spot I picked up a skein and said nice colors! And it was the same yarn. In the end, I bought some. I didn't need yarn, but need isn't the word to use, of course, plus it was on sale. I'm a sucker for a sale. And look at the colors:

Too pretty to pass up. Even better in person. I'm thinking a little lap blanket, but we'll see.

Is someone in here saying, "You're getting sleepy?" Because I sure am. I feel certain there was more I was going to talk about, but ... I'm getting sleepy. Perhaps it will come back to me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Let's talk about something else

Overnight I lost two green pepper plants to the miniature beast, so the garden is losing its appeal as a subject for me to think about, let alone photograph and blog about. If I see that chipmunk again ... but let's talk about something else, shall we?

On Sunday, in the midst of my laundry marathon (for a brief, shining moment, I was All Caught Up), I washed first the baby hats, and when that was successful, the sweaters. They did not, of course, revert to piles of yarn in the machines. I knew they wouldn't, but with my very first sweaters ever, I somehow couldn't help worrying. But nope, they came out looking like sweaters: it's a miracle! Knit sweaters out of machine-washable yarn, wash them in the machine, and they survive. Who would have thought? I'm now ready for the shower this weekend. I do want to swing by the Knitting Room this week and show Jackie, since she's seen the sweaters but not the hats. Maybe tomorrow night, maybe Thursday. While I'm over that way, I could go to Wilson's and buy peas (sob), they should have their own by now.

Actually, I retract that sob, I never thought my little row of pea plants would keep me satisfied. I buy a pound of peas at a time in season, and have them raw for dinner. I love peas. Note to self: let's not be melodramatic.

And let's talk about something else. In fact, let's look at something else. The cats have been fooling around with the computer, apparently, since they have brought to my attention how long it's been since cat photos have graced the blog (I suppose I should be flattered that they read my blog, though I suspect they're just checking to see what I say about themselves). I looked back and they're right, of course, it has been a while. So have some felinity. Pan "helps" me make the bed:

When the bedspread is puffed up, that's when the tail-catching is the best.

The cello pose is a hard one to maintain.

Harold didn't get all the way under the blanket, giving himself an interesting dreadlock effect with the fringe.

Pan really likes a good catnip pillow. Sometimes you lick it, sometimes you kick it...

And sometimes you rest on it like the king of all you survey.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I Used to Grow Peas

The varmint spent the weekend in the garden.

Friday, the peas as they had been, attacked but still in fair health:

Monday, the Place Where The Peas Used To Grow:

Only weeds. I am very sad.

There is slight comfort in that the little devil does not also like my green peppers, cukes, and basil, but there is no denying that the peas were my favorites (you can say that, in the garden, and no one ends up in therapy later ["Mom always liked the peas best!"]), and it is a harsh blow. The Powers That Be in the Company Garden are looking into making the gate and fence more secure, but too late, too late. My peas are gone.

I'm not the only one who suffered from his attacks, of course (thank heavens; just imagine how paranoid I'd feel if only my plants had been taken). But somehow that doesn't make me feel much better. I was prepared to accept that the plants might not grow for mysterious reasons, but this was not an end I had considered. Having been taken by surprise, even unreasonably, I feel much more cheated than if the plants had simply not thrived, or been blighted, or eaten by insects. These were outcomes I thought of. Thieving omnivorous lock-picking furball never crossed my mind for some reason.

The cukes, trying to make me smile, have started to burst out with their tiny babies. They are cute, aren't they? I'll be happy when it's time to harvest them, it's true (although that does sound macabre, given my anthropomorphizing in the earlier sentences). Look at the wee cucumbers:

And the basil fortunately doesn't mind that weeding has not been my top priority lately. If you can make it out among the surrounding crap, it's doing quite well.

Does anyone know, is there a way I can pick it ahead of time and keep it fresh at home, or am I better off just picking it as needed?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Trouble in the garden, plus various yarn and a little hockey

Yes, it's another one of those "everything but the kitchen sink" post titles. They're descriptive, though!

Yesterday, I went out to the garden at work to check on the crops (it amuses me to call the little-bitty plot I have "crops"). The gate was found to have been closed but not latched by another gardener, and I can sort of sympathize: I find the latch hard to close myself, since it has a bit of a rust issue, and my hands having a bit of an arthritis issue, well, there's a bit of an issue there. I wasn't even worried at first when I opened the gate and a chipmunk hurried out. They're cute, right? Unfortunately, they're not nearly so cute once you learn that they like peas, too:

It turns out he (I assume it was the same little bandit) ate through several stalks, leaving dying plants dangling from above, and stubs below. What a waste! I am not amused! And although I wouldn't have been happy no matter what he ate, for him to go for the peas, the nearest to my heart, that was a low blow.

As though they wanted to console me, the pea plants produced a pod that was ready to harvest. I love growing peas! These things rock!

And by the flowers on the cukes, they'll be working it soon enough, too. (I know, not soon-soon, but it's promising.)

Still ... that little devil.

Anyway. This flower isn't in the garden, and true to my usual, I have no idea what it is, but isn't it neat?

Now, to yarn. I finished the second hat.

I almost finished it last night, but the pom-pom had a set-back after it was attached. I was only just rational enough to realize that, one, it was fixable, and two, I was too tired to fix it and stay sane. I very carefully put it away and managed not to have a total meltdown, only a very slight outbreak of the vicious snits. I had a really long week, and to come so close to accomplishing something only to have victory snatched away by a very firmly attached pom-pom that was trying to disintegrate would make anyone cranky, I like to think. Anyway, I repaired it today (after spending the morning and half the afternoon finally reading The Harlequin, which was a lovely way to while away time), and it turned out fine. Next, I will wash the hats and make sure the yarn doesn't do anything funky, before I wash the sweaters. Cute, right?

Now, some other yarn to show. When my friends visited from England, I heard something I never expected to hear: "I read your blog, so I think you'll like this." I did know she read my blog, of course, but the idea that such reading would lead to something ... fascinating! And what, exactly? This:

Close up:

It's gorgeous. I don't know what it wants to be yet, but I can't wait to find out.

Similarly, I don't know what I'll do with this:

But aren't these fun 'problems' to have? One of the women in my stitch and bitch went to a wedding in Peru, and happened to find a yarn outlet while she was there (she had to buy another suitcase to come home). She brought some to share, which was so nice of her. I can tell it's alpaca of course:

But the rest of the label is a little harder to read.

It's nice and soft, though. Maybe after I make the second sock for the one I was working on before I started the baby sweaters, I'll make another pair of socks? Or maybe it wants to be something else. Decisions, decisions.
I did watch the first round of the NHL entry draft last night, up to the point the Bruins picked. Not that I'm excited one way or another about who they picked, and that's nothing personal against Zach Hamill, but from the way the announcers make it sound, only the number one pick this year has a chance of playing for his team in 07-08. The way the Bruins have played the last ten years or so, I can't get too excited more than a year in advance. I hope he's a great player, but if he's not playing for Boston for a few years, and we all know that he may not sign with them, he may get traded, and that's if he develops, if he doesn't get injured, etcetera, I'm just not throwing much confetti today.

That said, I still watched, I was just knitting at the same time. There's all the drama of the ones who were ranked higher but not getting called, the ones who were ranked lower but got called early, the guy who started to call the wrong team name and gave someone in the audience a heart attack I'm sure, and did anyone else notice Peter Chiarelli, congratulating the Stanley Cup champions, called them the Anaheim Mighty Ducks? Um, sorry, that used to be their team name, yes, but they're just the Ducks now. How long have they been just the Ducks? I bet the other GMs are going to tease him about that all season.

The Bruins had our own Hall-of-Famer Cam Neely announce their pick, since he's from British Columbia and so is Hamill. That's nice, eh? I did feel a little cheated, though: each of the first seven picks, the TV guys had an interview right after, usually with the kid and someone from the team, but at least with someone from the team. Right after the Bruins picked, the next team picking traded their pick, and all the media guys did was talk about the move and all the possible repercussions and never talked to anyone from the Bruins (well, not in the next five minutes, at which point I figured they had well and truly moved on, and I turned it off). Humph. Was Andy Van Hellemond in charge?*

*Van Hellemond used to be a referee in the NHL, and a long time ago when he got between Terry O'Reilly and someone else in a fight, O'Reilly shoved him, dumping him on ... the ice. After that, Bruins fans never felt like VH gave their team a fair shake, and he was an official on and off the ice for a long, long time.

So, it was a little bit of hockey, and now I have to go the rest of the summer on stories of free agents and contract signings. Training camp will start in September, and while I'm looking forward to it, I don't want to rush summer by, either. I like summer. I just made an appointment this week that's for the end of August, and I'm in no hurry to get there.

Off to laze away the rest of the weekend now. Enjoy whatever you're up to.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Tribute to a Nice Man

I've been going to the same hairdresser for about thirty years, since I was a kid. Of course, when I moved to North Carolina, I did get my hair cut by others, the way you have to. Every time I planned a trip back up here, though, I would time my haircuts down there so I'd be due for one during my trip, so that I could include a visit to Karl as part of the visit. In years of change, of moves and jobs and life-altering whatevers, there's always been Karl.

Until this week, when I went in to the salon for a routine cut and was gently told that he passed away two weeks ago, pretty suddenly. He wasn't old, not at all, but his health hadn't been great recently. The illness was unexpected, I gather, and even then they thought he was going to recover, but he didn't.

The people in your life, you know? In some ways, I didn't know Karl very well. But in others, he was such a regular part of my life, for so long, and I'm in tears to think that I'll never see him again. I drove there thinking how we'd talk about the new Bruins coach, and he wasn't there.

Instead I sat in the wrong chair, and Judy cut my hair, and we both sniffled part of the time, and laughed a little, and agreed that it would be slightly easier next time. She's having to tell everyone, of course, and that must keep the pain fresh all the time, as if it wouldn't be hard enough, I mean she's worked with him for twenty-some years, too. She said she'd tried to call, but she just couldn't, she didn't want to call and break the news to me when I was at work, nor did she want to leave a message on my answering machine. Understandable, and I'm not blaming her, but it was quite a shock. Still, of course it would have been a shock no matter how I found out.

When I was a kid, my mother went to a few different hairdressers that I vaguely remember before she found Karl. She liked what he did with her hair, and mine I suppose (I was too young to have a say in it), and we followed him when he moved to a different salon, this one. He suffered patiently through my years of cut it off/grow it out indecision. (When I moved back from NC, the first time I went in, he asked, "Are we growing it out?") He understood when I got the rag-top and wanted "top-down hair", hair short enough that it wasn't in my eyes no matter how fast I went with the top down. We had an understanding in terms of "product": he could put in whatever he wanted, mousse or gel or spray or all of them, and blow dry or whatever, and he'd pretend not to know that I was going to go home, sleep on it that night, and shower it all out in the morning, then never do any of it myself (I'm low-maintenance-girl, and only own a hair dryer for the coldest winter days).

He knew my hair, what to do with it, what it will do and what it won't, better than I do. (I was almost startled when Judy wanted to talk about my hair: oh, right, that makes sense, that's logical, she hasn't cut it before.) He was a really good hairdresser; he never gave me a bad haircut, not once, never did one thing that made me think I should look around, never pressured me to do anything, never did anything but listen to what I wanted and gave it to me. (When the thought crossed my mind, I tried not to think about how he'd probably retire one day, you know, in ten years or something. What would I do then? How would I find someone else who could do what he did for my hair? And what would I talk to that person about? It wouldn't be the same.)

He was just nice. He could tell if you wanted to have a conversation, be talked to, or sit quietly. He was interested in various sports, not just hockey, but he would talk mostly about hockey to me since that's my primary sports interest (obviously). I don't get that many in-depth hockey talks, so it was a treat. He watched a lot of movies, so I could count on him for reviews. He'd often tell me about TV shows that I should watch, like How It's Made, or Two and a Half Men, which he'd told me at least twice that I should be watching. He always had real groaners of jokes (my favorite kind).

He was only 60, so when we first started going to him, he was younger than I am now.

I'm really going to miss him. Rest in Peace, Karl.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Welcome to Boston, Monsieur Julien (plus, knitting)

Welcome to the microscope. The coach of the Bruins lives there.

Yes, the Bruins have a new coach, officially (their 28th, in about 80 years in the NHL), as of today.

Not for long, most likely. As the CBC noted,
No Bruins head coach has survived at least 400 games behind the bench since Don Cherry went 231-105-64 between 1974 and 1979.
Of course, Claude Julien used to coach in Montreal. He knows what it's like under the microscope.

And he was fired there, and in New Jersey. He knows the short-term thing, too.

(How do they do it? Live like that, work like that? I can't imagine.)

I hope he's thick-skinned, though one imagines he must be, to survive the profession. Try to be understanding, Claude, of the announced preferences for candidate Mike Milbury in the press this week. Bruins fans are always going to have a preference for former Bruins as coaches, especially Bruins players who are known for having on occasion gone into the stands to defend their teammates; it's just how we are. Nothing personal. I don't think anyone was surprised that Peter Chiarelli hired someone with whom he shares history, rather than someone with Bruins history (I wasn't), but you can understand Bruin fan wistfulness for someone we know. Asking us to accept a former Montreal coach is a slightly bitter pill, vous savez?

Meanwhile, there's been no word about what former coach Dave Lewis will be doing for the Bruins for the next three years. You remember, he wasn't fired, he was relieved of his coaching duties, and was going to be reassigned to other positions within the club. Is it just me, or is that a little ... vague? He could be cleaning the bathrooms, as far as that goes. And for myself, for that kind of money, I would clean bathrooms and whistle while I worked, but hey, that's just me. I do think it's a little weird that he's going to be hanging around, not coaching. No doubt I don't understand the subtle legalities of such things, but hey, if you don't want him, fire him. Let the man go home and lick his wounds in private. Really, what are they going to have him do?


Meanwhile, there's knitting. You remember, I knit? No, really, I do! You may recall, way back, I mentioned that I was going to make hats to match the baby sweaters, and I have finally gotten around to it, and finished the first one (the second one is halfway done: when I get to a thing, it gets got to). If I do say so myself, cute!

And here with its sweater:

Can't wait to see a baby in there! (And yes, of course it's going to be a while, I didn't make the smallest size. A girl can dream, can't she?)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Have a flower, nice reader?

As promised, the flower pictures from recent weeks get their own post, separate from yesterday's inordinately long catching-up-from-vacation posting. I don't know when I turned into someone who can't pass a flower without photographing it, but that seems to be what's happened. I mean, really, look at this!

This lot was taken at a friend's house on Sunday, when we were there for a Father's Day cookout (they have lovely gardens, and before you ask, I don't know what any of them are, but if you really need to know, I can find out):

There was lots of nature at Plimoth Plantation, too, which isn't surprising. This first one is my favorite; it looks like an organic version of a firework going off, boom:

And the last, lone entry, from the Public Garden in Boston, just because it's cool (and also kind of like a firework, really):

Tomorrow I believe there will be a return to More Words, but the photos simply had to pop out.