Sunday, December 30, 2007

Of my Sunday

Sleeping late was very nice, but it cut into my to-do time today. I finished my laundry, and made a batch of cookies to take to a party tomorrow night.

Other than that? Largely cat maintenance. Pan always has a hard time when I go away, because unlike Harold, he hesitates to take the lovin' from substitutes.

Harold will throw himself, literally, at the petsitter, begging for attention, while Pan will more or less sit back and say, "You're not my mother." He allows some attention, but makes it clear that it is a poor imitation. (Every petsitter I've ever had for them has said the same thing. One nicknamed Harold 'the love hog' for the way he will push in front of Pan to get the scritches.) The result is that when I get back, Harold wants extra loving, but Pan needs it. Sometimes he wants petting and scritching, and other times just my lap to sleep on.

While I enjoy spending the time with him, I do feel brief pangs for the state of my to-do list, but the bottom line is that he's more important. He's my baby, and I worry about him. I want him to be happy. And although I wish he accepted my absences better, there is something to be said for being the one person who makes someone perfectly happy.

In other news, guess what? It's snowing! According to the paper this morning, we are only a small amount behind the all-time December record, I think they said an inch and a half, and we should get about 6 inches overnight. Oh joy. I'd better get to bed and rest up for another morning of shoveling out my car. Oh, ****.

In case I don't post tomorrow, I'll say it now: have a happy new year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A couple of nice presents

My department at work is a small one and very friendly. We have birthday celebrations and pot luck meals, and give each other little presents or cards for Christmas as well as having a gift exchange. I wanted to show you a couple of things I got this year.

One of my coworkers is a painter, and she made everyone a small painting on a magnet to hang on the cube walls. Some were flowers and so on, but for mine, since she knows how much I like sea shells:

Isn't that pretty? I think she did a good job, and it's a very thoughtful gift.

In the gift exchange, we draw names and, in a new twist this year, put a clue as to the identity of the giver on the package in place of a name. You had to guess who the giver was, and get it right, before you could open your present. If you got it wrong, the next person in the circle was up, and you waited until it came around to you again.

So mine said to so-and-so, and then, "Some of my first words were in Portuguese."* It took my recipient two guesses to get me, and it took me I think three before I guessed the clue on mine.

*We were living in Brazil at the time, and I picked it up from the maids. No, I don't remember it now, and no, we never had maids again. All the exciting stuff happened before I remember.

And here's what she gave me:

You kind of have to see it in person to fully appreciate it, but what she did was transform a photo I took of the babies into this print that looks more like a silk screen, and framed it. It's so neat!

She was sneaky, too, in asking me to send her the photo so she could send it to her sister. Very clever; I didn't suspect a thing.

Do you get anything fun at work this year?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Knitting Ornaments (Knitted Ornaments?)

I really wanted to blog about this before Christmas, but when one is working on Christmas presents, for people who read the blog regularly or even just sometimes, well, it lets the cat out of the bag, doesn't it? I wanted the surprise more than I wanted to write about it (though not by much). But now that the holiday has rushed past on its merry way, I am free again. So: look what I made!

I started with scarves, ornament-sized, a great way to use up leftover bits of yarn BTW:

As I was working on them:

And some in black for my brother:

I thought, I wonder how hard it would be to make a little sweater? I bet I could fake one without even bothering to search for a pattern.

So I did, and it worked! How neat is that?

I decided to make the front and back separately, instead of knitting in the round, though I may try it that way another time. I was afraid it would be too round, and I didn't want to fool with blocking; it's an ornament, it's supposed to be quick and easy! So here's what I did (my way of explaining may or not make sense to anyone else, so by all means, ask 'em if you got 'em):

I used stash yarn and size 2 US needles. Your results may vary. Gauge is hardly an issue here, unless you want a perfect fit for your Barbie doll.

Cast on 14.
K1P1 for 4 rows.
K1 row, P1 row six times.
K2tog, K across to last two stitches, K2tog. Purl next row. Repeat these two rows twice more, totaling 6 rows.
Bind off.

Do that once and you have a front, again and you have a back.

I actually sewed the front and back together before I made the sleeves, since I wanted to see how it would look. Turns out, it looked like this:

Promising enough that I continued!

For the sleeves, I cast on 12 stitches.
K1 row, P1 row five times.
K2tog, K across to last two stitches, K2tog. Purl next row. Repeat these two rows once more, totaling 4 rows.
K1P1 for 4 rows.
Bind off.

Do that twice and you have two sleeves.

I didn't do the world's best job of "finishing", but hey, I'm pleased with it anyway, and my parents liked it, too. Which is far more important.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I'm home, my poppets!

Yes, I have spent quite a nice day at home, recovering from My Most Excellent Christmas Trip. It was wonderful, truly, but I so made the right decision to take this extra day off, even though I was coming home yesterday. The cats agree, so we're unanimous.

They have been limpets today, sleeping on my lap and on the couch and on the other couch and on my lap. Limpets. Remoras. Sweet and cuddly, but in a "make me feel guilty to get up to tend the laundry" way. Still, despite copious amounts of kitty maintenance, I managed to do four loads of laundry, catch up on the newspapers, e-mail, and blogs, and run and empty the dishwasher. I also did some unpacking, though not all.

But after I work tomorrow, I'm at the weekend (let's hear it for the one-day work week), so I should get things somewhat straightened out then. I'm also hoping to see my friends with the twins, who are home from London for Christmas, yay! You should see the Christmas card they sent me, with a picture of the twins in the hats and sweaters I made them.

I also need to finish my Christmas cards this weekend. I may not get them all out by Christmas, but I want them out before New Year's, for the love of yarn.

I spent part of the afternoon watching a marathon of The Biggest Loser on Bravo. It's very inspiring, or am I just suggestible? I watch Clean Sweep and want to declutter, I watch The Biggest Loser and feel the impulse to exercise. Good thing I don't watch things like American Idol or America's Got Talent and start having delusions!

I have so many things to blog about, but not tonight. I'll show you one teaser, though. Here's what I knit while I was away. The quarter is for relative sizing:

Friday, December 21, 2007

So Long, Farewell, Happy Holidays!

I don't know when I'll post next, but I can practically guarantee it won't be until after Christmas. I leave in the morning (over the river and through the woods), and the chances of me blogging from Grandma's are slim to none. I'll just have to take notes to remember everything I want to tell you!

Here's something for you today, though. It's the list (from of 2007's top out of print books, and I was pleased to see that on the U.S. list, two of them are knitting books! I mean, it's too bad that they're out of print, but cool somehow just the same.
6. The Principles of Knitting (1988) by June Hemmons Hiatt. An indispensable resource on hand knitting
8. Aran Knitting (1997) by Alice Starmore. History and how-to about the Irish knitting technique
It finally stopped snowing overnight, and the forecast for Sunday contains rain (gasp), not snow, if you can believe it. According to different sources, it's either the second or third snowiest December on record for Boston, which frankly disgusts me.

This morning I was flashing back to my last winter in Boston before I moved to North Carolina. This was 93-94, and all I remember was a steady cycle of going out in the morning and cleaning off my car, going to work, coming out at night and cleaning off my car, and going home. Lather, rinse, repeat. The Globe started to put a little drawing of one of the Celtics (Robert Parrish, maybe? he was 7 feet tall, wasn't he?) on the front page, and drawing the height of the snow as it compared to him. By the end of winter, they had drawn a snorkel on him, because it was over his head. I really, really hope this winter doesn't continue like that one ... but the portents are not encouraging.

Still, Christmas is coming. The family is gathered at Grandma's, and once I finish my packing and (hopefully) get some sleep, I'll be heading that way. Merry Whatever You Celebrate to you, and I'll catch up with you next week.

Remember, the days start getting longer now!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"If it's Thursday, it must be snowing"

Thanks to Jack Edwards, the Bruins' TV play-by-play man, for that headline. Last Thursday, of course, there was so much snow that the Bruins, trying to fill seats, discounted the best seats (usually $80-ish to over $100) to under $20. If I hadn't had the three-hour commute that night, I might have gone, but there was no way I was leaving the house again.

It snowed Thursday, it snowed Sunday, it snowed today.

It only took me an hour and a quarter to get home tonight. Sad that that's not bad.

No, I don't think it's pretty. It's messing up the roads and I have to clean off my car again. There's nothing pretty about that.

No, I don't find it very funny to think that it isn't "really" winter until Saturday. We have more snow on the ground than we got all last year. This is winter.

And the next time they predict 1-3 inches, I will have the chance to practice my hollow laugh. That's what they were saying we'd get in my area today, and we got at least 6. Charming. Why do I even bother listening to them?

The side roads still weren't great yesterday, before this storm came along. Now we're back to slush one, I mean square one.

And the person who plows our driveway has buried most of the building's trash cans in a snowdrift that is almost as tall as I am. That thing won't be gone until spring thaw. It should make our trash situation very interesting, which is not something I want to be saying.

Meanwhile, my last Christmas present came in the mail today, so I have just a bit more wrapping to do. Dinner first, though: one of my neighbors is cooking something that smells delicious, and suddenly I'm so hungry!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Wrapping

Yes, I am finally getting to wrapping presents tonight, happy merry! And thank you to YouTube for letting me hear this from the beginning, since this year every time I run across it on the radio, I seem to be coming in at "... brought this tale to a very happy ending".

Got to get going. I hope your holidayness is going well!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Musical thoughts, Christmas and otherwise

What is it with music and the human brain?

I understand how I can hear a song on the radio while driving to work and be humming it all morning, and I don't even mind much as long as it's a song I like, but why am I then suddenly whistling "Immortal, invisible, god only wise...", which I don't believe I have sung since the year I spent in England in 1986-87? Where did that come from? It's all very well for Dave Barry to say that earworms are caused by radio waves, but that doesn't explain this one.

The other question currently besieging my few remaining brain cells is this: what is it about Christmas that leads to some truly bizarre duets?

I thought David Bowie and Bing Crosby was an odd pairing (and, well, it is), but in recent days I have run across Frank Sinatra with Cyndi Lauper, and then Rod Stewart with Dolly Parton. Say what? Who has these ideas?

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Won't Even Wish for Snow*

According to Barry Burbank with WBZ,
Boston's snowfall in the recent two storms totalled 18.1" with this month's total at 19.6" which is 2.5" more than the city received all of last season! Based upon records dating back more than 130 years, this is the 8th snowiest December behind the 22.5" in 2003.
And of course, that's the 8th snowiest December as of today, December 17th. I wonder where we'll be by the 31st. Keep in mind, too, that that's for the City of Boston. We frequently get more out here in the suburbs, away from the coast.

Can you believe it?

And guess what it's going to do Wednesday night? Go on, three guesses. You'll never guess...

Can we talk about something else? I have a question for any other Ravel-ers out there, a question of Ravelry etiquette. Have you ever had someone you don't know add you as a friend? (You can tell I've never done anything remotely like a social networking site before.) So far, the people who have added me as friends are people I know, either in real-life (whatever that really means these days) or through reciprocal blog-reading. Even someone I met once, we exchanged Ravelry IDs so we could look at each other's stashes and projects and so on, and she added me as a friend, and I was fine with that.

But someone I never met, never heard of? I looked at her profile, and although she does live in Massachusetts, I'm still pretty sure I don't know who she is. Why would she want to add me? Anyone? Ideas?

*I was listening to Christmas music on the way home, and Mariah Carey singing "All I Want for Christmas" came on, and when she sang that line, I muttered, "no kidding!" It seemed like a good title for this whining-about-the-weather post.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Around the Tree

After Christmas, I'll be able to explain why I had the camera close-up to my tree in the first place, but I thought I would share some of my favorite ornaments, since the alternative is scenes like this:

Pretty, but depressing. (That was Friday on the way to work.) This is better:

In grade school, we made ornaments out of real eggs (contents blown out, of course), using our imaginations to decorate however we liked. (I don't remember exactly when this was, but probably 4th or 5th grade--9 or 10 years old). I made two, one a random patchwork of fabric bits:

And one your classic bunny head:

The ears droop, of course, always have; what are you going to do?

Another time, we took foam balls and wrapped them in bits of fabric, for a quilt effect:

Then there's the hockey theme (of course); you can see a Bruins ornament below, but if you look closer at the top, you can see a pair of penguins playing hockey:

Doesn't everyone have hockey-playing-penguin ornaments on their tree?

Finally, since you can see the ribbon loop strands in some of the photos, I wanted you to see the "birds making ribbon loop strands" ornaments, too:

The one in the foreground holds the loops, while the one in the background has the glue. Of course.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A New Record for My Commute

Well, today's storm was going to be a small one a day or two ago, they thought, but yesterday they started talking about 6 to 12 inches. Oh, guck. So today at work, those of us who could, left early with stuff to do at home.

I left at 1:15. It had only been snowing less than an hour, so you would have thought that would be enough.

Well, no.

My commute takes 25 minutes outside rush hour, and usually runs 30 to 45 minutes. Today, I would have expected it to be perhaps double, but instead it was three hours.

Yes, I got home at 4:15, and need I add I was in no mood to work? (I did, of course, after some kitty time, but really.)

We all heard about the storm, so why did the people in charge of plowing and sanding not get the memo? The roads were terrible, every one, back road and highway, and I didn't see a plow until I was almost home. Well, that's not quite true, I saw plenty of vehicles with plows on their fronts, but none of them were plowing. Terrible!

And there's more coming this weekend. Oh, joy. As someone said to me recently, why do you live here?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Of winter (uck) weather and candy canes

Can anyone help me understand why I'm not that fond of peppermint, but I really enjoy candy canes? I mean, candy canes are peppermint, right? They are, aren't they? So why do I eat them, and like them, when the rest of the year I don't eat peppermint, hardly at all? It's a mystery ... but one I prefer to the conundrum of what is up with the weather this month.

Because honestly, by next Monday we'll have had as much snow and other crud as we did all last winter. There's a small-to-medium storm coming in tomorrow and another, a big one (it may be a Nor'easter! Eight to fourteen inches! Panic now!) over the weekend.

I think having advanced weather forecasting is a decidedly mixed blessing. Knowing what's coming may allow me to prepare for it, but it also rather depresses me.

So let's talk about something else. I learned today that I can create a calendar online, with my own photos, and have it be for sale to anyone who wants it. Do you think anyone would buy one? I could do New England scenes, or the cats, or something. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sorry, No Details

'Tis the season to not be able to write about certain things. I can allude, of course, but it's not really as satisfying.

Not that I won't tell what I can! I can tell you that I got a present in the mail today, one I ordered for someone else, that is, and I was very, very pleased with it! But that's all.

And I'm knitting ... something(s) ... and I like the way it's/they're turning out. No more than that, though.

I had a hair appointment tonight, and on the way over I was thinking of it in terms of lost knitting time (my, how I've changed in the last few years), and wondering how long I could knit under the cape, if it was plain knitting, without having to look at what I was doing. It probably wouldn't work, but it would be interesting to try.

Anyway, to make up for the lack of actual content, let me share a story that I simply loved reading. It seems there is a secret organization in Paris dedicated to restoring France's cultural heritage. They were "discovered" recently when they let the Panthéon's administrator know that they had repaired the building's clock.

Yes, they broke in, and set up a secret shop to fix the clock (which had been allowed to fall into disrepair in the 1960s).

These are my kind of criminals. The best line in the story? I vote for:
"The Panthéon's administrator thought it was a hoax at first, but when we showed him the clock, and then took him up to our workshop, he had to take a deep breath and sit down."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Probably I won't knit this, but...

But I am tempted!

Not for me, for my Dad, who grew up in New York City and is a civil engineer and why wouldn't he need a Brooklyn Bridge scarf?

Well, for one thing, he lives in Florida.

Hmmm. So probably not. But isn't it fun? Or funny? Or both?

It's from Son of Stitch'n Bitch. I saw this pattern mentioned in a review, and got the book out of the library to see what was involved. I haven't done double knitting before, so I'd want to try it in a smaller project before diving into this, but before I go there, there's just no getting around the fact that my parents live in Florida, and Dad does not need a nice, warm, double-knit scarf, no matter how a propos. It's only funny for that first moment of opening, and then what would he do with it?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday thoughts

Note to self: I must try, and really try, to get, really get, that everything is not about me.

So-and-so is not doing thus-and-so solely to annoy me. If it does annoy me, well, that makes it my problem, not hers.


Sometimes being a grown-up sucks, doesn't it? And I'm finding that I can't have ice cream for dinner every night.

I had a doctor's appointment tonight, and the doctor was running more than an hour late*. I got a lot of knitting done! The ruffles scarf is almost finished, so I should be able to give it to the twins' mother for Christmas (see how I try to appease the fates by saying 'should'). What to knit next? I have a couple of ideas, but I may just work on a plain old hat while I ponder.

*Not to mention that I went to the office and found that they'd moved down the street. "Oh, didn't you get a call about that?" No, if I had, I wouldn't have gone to the old office! Silly woman.

One of the errands I ran after the appointment was to the Post Office to get stamps for my Christmas cards. U.S. knitters, have you seen what they have this year? I was caught by surprise:

We must be taking over the world: they made stamps that look knit!


I zoomed in on the tree both because I like it the best, and because it's apt: I started decorating my tree tonight! Lights and ribbon loops are on, as is the top ornament. The other ornaments, candy canes, and icicles will be tomorrow, hopefully. I'm tired and my hands are pine-sticky, but it's so pretty.

And Harold helped!

I used to help my dad with putting the lights on. It's much easier when someone is feeding the string to you, instead of having to do it all yourself, right?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A new twist on political candidates, and brrr

On the radio yesterday morning, I heard two DJs discussing an unusual aspect of politics. They were opening the phones for a discussion of whether you would be more likely to vote for a candidate who could fly.

Like Superman. You know. Superpowers.

So, okay, this is a rock/alternative station, and thus not a really serious political discussion. But hey, they were talking politics! They did specify that the candidate would have no other superpowers, just flight, and though I didn't hear anyone calling in (I got to work before they returned to the topic), one of them mentioned that he had watched recent coverage of one of the candidates who didn't impress him, and how he didn't think his feelings would change if that one could fly.

Such a funny way of looking at it, don't you think?

The weather lately is getting on my nerves. I'm not a big fan of winter, and although snow in December isn't unheard of around here, it's supposed to melt in a day, two at the most, not linger getting grayer and more dingy. Instead, it has stayed freezing effing cold, and it's still icy and dangerous* underfoot in plenty of places, and yuck, me no likey.

*Two of my neighbors have fallen in recent days, I learned at tonight's condo meeting. One is afraid she broke her elbow, though as she said, "I'd know if it was broken, right?" I would have thought so, but what do I know?

What doesn't help is that we're having some sort of problem with the heat, and while it isn't broken (thank heavens, as it drops into the 20s), it is very, very chilly in here. For a residence, anyway. Not warm enough for me, anyway. We have someone coming to check it out, but until then, brrr.

Off to watch the rest of the Bruins game. Oh, let them hold onto that lead!

Monday, December 03, 2007

What Happened Today

See what happened today?

It started yesterday, but it Did Not Stop today (or never for long, anyway; why do I even listen to the weather-people? turn to rain, indeed).

What else happened today? Well, this:

I thought it was fun, but I'm like that. It actually turned over just before I parked for stitch and bitch, which was fortuitous, since today especially was no day to be messing with photography in motion.

This happened yesterday:

Look, a little tree! Well, I think of it as little, since only the top-ornament bit is taller than I am. It's possible other people have different size standards. I can't wait to start decorating; maybe tomorrow. Tonight I had to make cookies for a pot luck lunch tomorrow.

This also happened yesterday, but I wanted to share anyway.

So cute! I woke up this morning pinned by Pan, who did not want his heat source getting up, thank you.

Clearly my title needs editing, but I can't even be bothered. It's so past my bedtime! But I enjoyed stitch and bitch, the Bruins won, I did a load of laundry (clean long johns), and made the cookies. I have earned bedtime, I think!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Fast Knit

I started mitten number three on Thursday night, and finished it tonight, and started and finished number four tonight (before the Bruins game was half over), so the mittens are done! I do love a quick project, it's so rewarding. I started the first one on Thanksgiving, so that's 4 mittens in 10 days. Plus, I knit a little on the group scarf and another scarf during that time as well.

And as I've said before, almost anything is infinitely cuter when baby-sized:

The red pair is not identical, since I ran out of red yarn a row or two before the amount I'd used in the first of them. I'm okay with that.

I like how my transition-row experimenting turned out, too. Alternating colors on that row gave a fun, "portcullis" effect that tickles my fancy. Why yes, I am easily amused, how did you know?