Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rain, rain

I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am. It is now our 4th or 5th day with temps below 90 F, and we've been having rain almost every afternoon. This is what summer in the south is supposed to be like. I remember the summer I went to Auburn to catch up on some classes since I changed my major, and it rained just about every afternoon around 3. Here the bottom drops out between 4:30 and 5, just in time for rush hour traffic. I'm not complaining. We have a rain deficit between 16 - 18 inches for the year. I would prefer not to make it all up with a hurricane or two since that leads to basement flooding.

I haven't had any desire to design much since I started knitting. I've been fine knitting other people's patterns and tweaking them some to make them more to my liking. That said, I had an idea for an intarsia and textured sweater this morning that I really want to make. No mentions of it here other than some of you may be asked to give opinions on some odd dishclothes over the next few months as I start to work on samples. Be prepared. I'll post things once I've finished, and since this is in the mere inkling stages, it will be awhile. And Beth, this won't have any skull motifs, but it still falls into the somewhat macabre category. For those of you who like Alice Cooper, I'll give you this hint. It was the subject of one of his songs. I hope that's no help!

Have a great evening. I'm off to make a tasty chicken salad for dinner.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Careless in Red

I know, it's cryptic. It's not meant to be. It's the title of the next book by Elizabeth George which I found on her site. This is what happens to Inspector Lynley and company after the tragic events of With No One As Witness.

Sure, it doesn't have the same sort of anticipation that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows had, but I really can't wait to read it.

Tonight I got to knit on the big sock. A woman in England has started this giant sock that is going to knitting groups all over in an attempt for entry into the Guiness Book of World Records. Honestly, I could care less, but when I asked Keith he said when else would I have a chance to do anything like this? So I knitted with very plasticky acrylic yarn on this very large circle for some time tonight. Woohoo. (and why does this make me think of Bender saying "Bite my shiny metal ass?")

In other news I'm yearning for a vacation. A real vacation where we go away for rest and relaxation, preferably with a spa on the premises. I could use a pedicure, massage and waxing. Of course this isn't going to happen anytime soon. We've discussed what to do with old kitties, specifically Brownie. She doesn't leave the kitchen. She sleeps, eats and potties. Mostly sleeps. Most importantly, she needs her medicine. Looking at her is just so sad. She's a furry skeleton who doesn't even groom herself anymore. She feels brittle when I pet her (which isn't much since she rarely moves out from under the curio cabinet where she sleeps 23.5 hours/day). And Pixel has taken to staying out all the time. She was out for a little less than 48 hours earlier this week. I think she's too old to be sleeping out all night. She still seems spry and quite vocal when it comes to demanding some of my half and half in the morning, but she also seems thinner. I think it's time to get her in to get her thryroid tested too. Let's see, medicating two ancient kitties daily will limit my possible vacation escapes even more. Even so, I dread the day when I have to load Brownie and Pixel into the cat carriers for that final trip to the vet. As long as they are both eating and not in pain, I'll put off vacation. There's always the Natural Body Day Spa. Maybe half a day there will seem like a vacation.

Keith's sweater is slowly coming along. That's one thing I love about socks is that you can see progress. Knitting on a sweater you don't always see the progress, especially a man size sweater. Thankfully he's slim and not carrying a beer gut.

Back to vacation. It's really too bad that Keith didn't qualify for the trip to Switzerland again. The Badrutt's Palace had a spa downstairs near the pool area. I did get a pedicure and massage while there. Now that was a vacation. All of this has me thinking about what to do next year for our 20th wedding anniversary. My little grey cells are furiously working. I just don't know if I can give up buying yarn long enough for the idea I've been tossing about. I have much research to do.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Countdown, part 2

Ah yes, the Autumnal Equinox. I've found the official date and time for fall to begin here in the northern hemisphere. September 23, 2007, at 5:51 a.m. EDT.

Since today is August 26, and if I'm adding correctly, that means we have 29 days (that's including today) until fall starts.

Friday and yesterday we had rain. Glorious rain, along with a LOT of lightning and rumbles of thunder. At least now the trees have had some relief from the unending heat and drought. I've been watching the leaves turn yellow and fall off to crunch underfoot. I don't expect much color this fall. I figure the leaves will just fall off unless we get more rain soon.

Anyway, enough rambles about the weather. It's just been on everyone's mind with the unbearable heat. Yes, August should be hot, but not like this.

I've made progress on Keith's sweater. I took it out again to add some ribbing to the bottom of it. It's slow going since there are 238 stitches in a round. I knitted for several hours last night, and I think I only did 4-5 rounds. There's not enough of it to look like anything, so I'll take pictures later this week.

I just received the newest issue of Health magazine on Friday, and it has the second article that I've seen since the doctor's visit that recommends 1 hour of cardio a day to lose weight. This article is based on NBC's the Biggest Loser. Now I have no interest in watching the show, but reading about how they did it can be useful. It's too bad that changing bad habits is not nearly as easy as acquiring them. And the things that are good for you aren't always as fun.

However, as the earth spins along in it's orbit, and the days get shorter, it's time for new beginnings. I've always felt September to be the time for starting new things. I'm sure this goes back to the school year beginning in September, but I think too that as the cool air starts to filter in I perk up after the oppressive heat of summer. The humidity levels drop as dryer air flows down from the arctic.

As for Brownie, she's still hanging in there. She actually went outside a few days ago. That was the first time she's left the kitchen in quite some time. Keith and I have joked about the oldies going out and baking their bones for awhile. Pixel has gone out today, and I don't expect her back in until maybe Tuesday, unless it rains a lot today. Then she'll have to come back in since all her hiding places will be too wet. Keith has wanted me to knit cat beds, but I think instead I'll go to the thrift store and buy some towels for the old girls. Towels are much easier to clean, especially if there are any accidents. Besides, I still have MS3, Keith's second sock, my toe up sock, Honi's present and Keith's sweater. I'm not adding another project to the list right now. Cat beds can wait a bit.

I've got to work today, so I'm off to do a few Sunday chores before I go.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

This one's for you, Honi

Hi Honi,

I read your comments about the fawn, and how you wanted to stop and save it. You're probably right. The other car was probably going too fast to stop, even if the driver wanted to.

Our neighborhood has always had feral cats move through it. We have a creek and a floodplain just a few lots away. We have a huge abundance of squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and probably woodrats. We have some resident hawks and owls that pass through. And how does this relate? Well, I've always been a softy who feeds the birds, squirrels and to a much lesser extent those feral cats. Last fall there were a couple of gorgeous orange ones living across the street. One of them is Momcat, who has been spayed & rabies vaccinated. As I headed off to work on one of the few very cold days we had this past winter, I saw one of the other orange cats dead in the road. I hate seeing roadkill, and I especially hate seeing them on my street. I went to work in a more subdued state of mind. Now remember, this was a very cold day. As I drove home that night, I saw the cat was still in the road, and luckily no one else had run over it. (You know how gross roadkill can get.) I stopped. Just what would I do? I had a box in the car, and I picked up the poor guy. He was frozen solid. It would have been like a cartoon except for the fact he was a very real, great looking, very dead cat. I took him home. When Keith got home, I told him what I had done. He said he had seen the cat also on his way out that morning, and hadn't wanted to tell me. He said he would bury him just as soon as the ground thawed out enough.

I've had to learn the hard way I can't save every animal that I would like to. Even if I won the lottery, there are too many out there that need help. However, if everyone made an effort, even a small one, we can make a difference. That may mean not going 20 miles over the speed limit in an area were there a deer. It may mean get your pet spayed or neutered. And donate to your local no-kill shelter. Even if it's only a small amount it will help.

Need some ideas? Check out Alley Cat Allies on the sidebar, and they can direct you to a local shelter in your area.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Crazy from the heat

Oh yes, we're all a bit wierd here right now. My lovely digital thermometer shows a high today of 103.1 F. No wonder we're all going nuts.

Pixel, Brownie's sister, is a very spry 18 years old. She went outside on Monday with apparently no intention of coming back into the house. I saw her briefly on Monday when she showed up for dinner, then disappeared again. She was outside at breakfast yesterday, then vanished until dinner. Now, to be honest, I have tried to catch her, but she is not a cooperative cat. She doesn't like to be held, and has clawed the heck out of me on more than one occasion. So this morning I fed her breakfast and left to go to work. However, this evening I had more time to fool with the cat. She also appeared while it was still daylight, a major factor in catching things. I gave her some kibble which it looks like she barely nibbled. What she wanted were treats. While plying her with kitty treats I was able to manuever between her and the van. I made the lightning fast snatch and had her. She's meowing and wriggling and trying to claw me while I'm trying to hold her fast and grab her back feet before I'm horribly wounded. (I currently have some long claw marks that I think may scar on my right forearm. One is about 3" long). She's inside again now, but only until she escapes over the weekend. I asked Keith if he thought maybe the house is too cold for her old bones. At an average of 78 F it doesn't ever feel cold to me, but to a cat who has been basking in over 100 degree temps for the past 3 days, maybe that is cold.

Next is my knitting error. I'm having to fiddle around with the pattern for the sweater for Keith. Last night I cast on 238 stitches, joined and started knitting the pattern for 4 rows. Yeah! The count is correct. However, I totally forgot to do the rows of ribbing I had planned to do at the bottom! Let's see. 4 rows X 238 stitches = 952 stitches that I get to undo. I plan to put another needle around the bottom row and rip back to the cast on. I am not pleased about this. I wonder if my brain hadn't been roasting all day for the past several weeks if I would have remembered to do my edge ribbing.

One of our customers mentioned that her son lives in Pennsylvania. He said their temp was 47 degrees the other night and it was raining. That sounds like bliss right now. I could wear a sweater. Heck, at 47 degrees I'd be tempted to sleep with the window open. It's been so bloody hot here!

That's really about all. I wanted to vent about the heat and the sweater, and just think about Pixel on virtual paper. I do know that sometimes pets go off when it's time to die, but since Pixel is showing up for meals I don't think that's the issue. One of the younger, more active kitties has been feeling cabin feverish and wild, so maybe there's just been too much goin's on for Pixel.

Hurry up autumn! The days are getting shorter! Drop our temps soon!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just for knitters, probably

I did my due diligence - gauge swatch - for K's sweater. I got gauge with a slightly larger needle because I'm substituting Plymouth Galway for Lion Brand Wool-Ease. Apparently the Wool-Ease is just a smidge thicker than Galway. I started knitting the sweater Monday night, and even though it was gauge, it didn't look right. That's because to get gauge I had to use a size 9 instead of an 8 needle, and the sweater was looking a bit lacy. Not good for a man's sweater that he may want to wear skiing. I'd been debating about ripping it out and starting again, but to be sure I asked his opinion. His verdict - the wind would rip through it. He's right.

Now the fun begins. He wants a larger size sweater for things like layers. I was already knitting the largest size in Stitch N Bitch Nation, so what's a gal to do? Turns out to be very easy. Grab the Ann Budd Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, find the raglan sweaters, go to the right size and gauge, and Bob's your uncle! problem solved. Ok, mostly solved. I'll have to do a little fiddling to get the cast on numbers right in order to work with the stitch pattern (which is just a very wide rib). However, a little number juggling is nothing to someone who spent a lot of years in front of a computer straightening out balance sheets and budgeting. In fact, it gives me a chance to tweak the pattern a bit anyway. Why make it just as the book says?

As for the intarsia and duplicate stitch. I've been looking at the duplicate stitch in the photo in the book, and to me it just looks a bit sloppy. I haven't decided if it's the nature of duplicate stitch or maybe the sweater was knit up pretty quickly. I think I'm doing intarsia instead of duplicate stitch for the yellow. I think it will just look better. If not, I'm not afraid to rip it out. I've got 2 hours of Nova and an episode of In Search of Myths and Heroes tonight, so let the knitting begin. (and yes, I love PBS. Send them some money so they can keep producing quality tv like Nova)

Gotta go. The laundry won't finish itself. I'd say why don't we have robots to do that, but I'd end up with Bender.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

In lieu of a thousand words

The UT blanket

The Rowan Summer Tweed Sweater:

The first toe-up sock:

A Sweater for Keith

Yarn is like lipstick or nail polish. I always seem to buy the same colors!

Random insect picture. I love to find the praying mantis around the yard or on the house:

Saturday, August 18, 2007


How long until September? Only 13 more days. Approximately 34 more days until the autumnal equinox. Ah, then the earth will be tilted in the other direction with the northern hemisphere gradually getting further away from the sun until the winter solstice. Why these fun factoids? It is so hot here. It's been above 100 degrees more days than I care to think about. I don't want to leave the house. I feel like a hermit, locked away in the house, only leaving when I have to.

However, I have done some finishing. The UT blanket is finished. My first Summer Tweed Sweater is almost entirely pieced together. My Cherry Tree Hill "car" sock is moving along nicely now that the heel is turned. In rush hour traffic I can get a surprisingly amount of rows knitted while waiting at traffic lights. MS3 stole is in time out. I've started Honi's wedding present and have knitted about 8" of length. Depending on how long I can stay awake, I'll finish piecing the sweater. That way it will be ready to wear when the heat abates. I keep thinking, only 13 more days.

I know, there's nothing magic about September, but it seems that at least the nights start to cool off a bit then. Considering that it was 80 degrees yesterday at 8 a.m., anything will be better.
Ending with a random cat picture.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The heat is on...

a.k.a. just some weather data. Yesterday the high temp at my house was 100.2 F. Today it reached 101.7F. We have a computerized thermostat, being energy conscious. It goes down to 78 around 5:00 p.m., unless one of us has been home during the day and turned it down earlier. It's 9:09 p.m. now, and it's still 81F in the house. I wouldn't mind the Arizona temps if we had the same low humidity. It's like a stinking steambath here with the ozone and pollution.

I went out to check the birdbath and wildlife water dishes this evening. It's really quite funny how both the birds and feral cats keep a lookout for me. Ok, it's not just ferals. One of the neighbors has a senior cat. Her husband won't let the cat in the house, but she lets him in when hubby isn't home. The rest of the time the cat keeps an eye out for me in the yard. He's a grumpy old mooch who is quite happy to see me refill the food dish. As for the birds, they have been fussing a bit since the suet feeder is empty. The downy woodpeckers have actually been lowering their standards and eating at the sunflower feeder. I think the suet would melt in this weather, or go rancid in no time. The funny part is if the feeder is empty, the chickadees and titmice (sp) raise a lot of hell if I go outside and don't fill it. They don't have much fear of me, as one of the nuthatches landed on the feeder mere minutes after I had refilled it, and I was only about 4 feet away.

With these extreme temperatures, I haven't seen any of the blue tailed skinks lately. On the plus side that means I won't find lizard tails in the house until it cools off again. I don't have the same experience catching lizards since we haven't had them around here until just a few years ago. I think is was the summer of Katrina when we started seeing a lot of lizards around the yard. Even 2 years ago the old kitties were still hunting a little, but not like the days of their youth when I could count on finding live chipmunks and snakes in the house. I'm an old pro at catching chipmunks and the occasional snake, but lizards are more elusive. I had one lizard catching attempt back in the spring which ended when the lizard darted outside on its own. I do miss seeing them in the yard while I don't miss seeing their tailless selves darting under furniture.

I don't know if I wrote that I finished the UT blanket last night. I had reached the point where I was tired of working on it, and it was a good size. I'll take a picture before I send it off.

I had planned to work on MS3 tonight, but it's getting late and there were goodies in the mail. Magazines and catalogs and patterns and yarn, oh my! It's been so lovely tonight with no tv, just the soothing whoosh of the a/c. I did just finish Wolf to the Slaughter by Ruth Rendell last night. Don't start it unless you can read it through! And before you think I merely read tales of murder and vampires, I must admit to an impending dig through all my paperbacks to find Beowulf. I read part of it while taking Old English in college, then this translation came out several years ago. It's wonderful. This modern English version has the cadence of the old. And you will recognize some of the names within - just compare it to The Lord of the Rings for fun.

On that note I bid you goodnight.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Under pressure

Yesterday's blog entry really felt kind of forced. I hadn't blogged in a little over a week, and I felt some pressure to do so. OK, it's not like I'm filled with witty observations about life, just the rambly day to day stuff that only those who know me might be interested in.

One thing I would like to clarify is how I really feel about the MS3 knitalong. I have found the whole thing quite amusing. I don't feel the same drive to be part of the Internet community, and I'm sure there are other knitters out there who just wanted to knit some lace. I have found it fascinating to see there are some people out there who must comment on every little item that gets posted to the list. In fact, I'm starting to see some of the same people on some of the other knitting lists I've joined. I'm amazed that with all the stuff that these people say they do (and there are so many more women out there homeschooling!) they have as much time as they do to read these endless, many times pointless messages and respond to them. I have the greatest admiration and sympathy for Melanie having to slog through all of them. She's a trooper. I scan the subject lines and hit delete quite a bit. See, not a bit of snarky commentary here.

It's a lovely day in Hotlanta today. The high is around 100 with an absolutely abysmal air quality. How I yearn for September. As we approach the autumnal equinox, at least the nights will begin to cool off slightly. The jet stream will shift, blowing out the humidity and bringing with it cooler air from the north, if the north pole hasn't melted by then. Even keeping our a/c at a not that comfortable 78 F, it runs constantly. I've found a volunteer oak tree that will shade our west facing house sometime in the next 10 years, but at only 4' tall it doesn't do much yet. It's been miserable ever since we had to take down the 2 sweet gum trees that were out front. They shaded the house and kept the temps somewhat lower. Unfortunately they had both been struck by lightning during their lifespans and were diseased and weakened from it. I miss them intensely right now.

This is Mr. Chubbikins, one of the few ferals I feed. He's been looking for a cool spot to hang out while waiting for breakfast. I'm not sure why he's decided this planter is that place, but he looks so cute. He still needs neutering, but since I've spayed all the available females, I think he can wait a few more weeks until the weather is a tiny bit cooler. Even the garage is toasty, and I don't want him to be horribly uncomfortable post-op. Behind him you can see the yarrow and mint are not enjoying the heat.

Here's Monster, freshly shaved last week, lurking in the cool wild violets. The cats won't stay out for very long with this heat. They rush out to potty in the garden, then melt on the pavement.
As usual, I am avoiding housework. I should be mopping, but I just finished some food prep. I went for the annual poke and prod today, where I get the fun of discussing my weight with the doctor. It turns out my doctor, a very petite woman, does 1 hour of aerobic exercise every day, 7 days a week. Obesity runs in her family, and she works like mad to stay healthy. I had planned to go grocery shopping at the farmer's market afterwards anyway since I skipped it yesterday. I was inspired to leave those delectable carbs off the list except for some whole grain organic cereals. The problem with eating fresh stuff is that you have to fix it, and each week I spend some time doing food prep. I have cleaned celery, baby carrots and cucumber. I have steamed broccoli and chopped/deseeded watermelon. I did skip the gym today, and I told myself that I would pack up tonight so I would have no excuse not to go tomorrow. The most recent case of poison ivy is almost all gone, so I won't gross out anyone using the weight machines after me. (Very mild case this time, only 2 small blister areas.) I think next time I pull weeds I'll have to find something disposable to cover my arms. Poison ivy is an irritant that has a cumulative effect. You can be exposed to it and not have reactions for years, then all of a sudden you will start reacting. Lucky me. I hit critical toxin mass earlier this year which has been a real inconvenience since it grows all over the place. I have to wear a hazmat suit to pull it up.
I've goofed off enough now. Time to tackle the futility of mopping a white kitchen floor. Next time I'm going for Georgia clay red.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The theme has been revealed!

The theme for Mystery Stole 3, that is. Clue 5 and the theme reveal came out this past Friday, and quite frankly, it has been amusing to watch all the chatter about it. Swan Lake is the theme, and one side of the stole is going to have short rows for shaping like a wing. It's been like watching a virtual ant colony get stirred by a stick. Some love it, some hate it, and what I keep thinking is - it's just knitting! Get a grip. One person was very upset about the waste of time and materials. In my mind, any time spent knitting is great. Sure, there are projects that go on way too long, but eventually they get done. And if I don't like it, I'm pretty fearless about ripping it all out. (Or letting it sit - there is always something else to knit).

So what's been going on here that's kept me from blogging? The after effects of my birthday. I had a great birthday this year lootwise. My family checked my Amazon wishlist and showered me with knitting books and DVD's of bizarre cartoons. I've worked my way through Alf Tales, disc one of season one of Pinky and The Brain, and 2 discs of season 2 of Futurama. Not to mention that with all this knitting I may just wear out my Predator DVD. However, our DVD player is acting up - it won't play some of them which can be frustrating.

It's been interesting at Knit Night at the store. I have been staying for it even though it conflicts with yoga. Knit Night was originally a summer event, and hopefully I'll be back at yoga again in September. I really miss it, and none of the other class times are as convenient as this one is. I also think this is the only class Twiglet teaches. (The woman who teaches yoga is just the tiniest little thing.) Anyway, we had a conversation about movies one night. I must admit that during my college days I went to see art films or foreign films with subtitles. That's what you do when you go to a liberal arts college. Then I met Keith and started hanging out with him and his buddies. I was almost always the only woman along, and I usually had a lot of fun. And more to the point, I started going to action adventure movies instead of pseudo-intellectual fare. Well, I did drag Keith to see Eraserhead. So now I'd much rather watch Clint or Arnold than some film that going to make me think or bring me down, but one of my friends from the shop is always telling me how I need to see whatever meaningful movie it is that she's just seen. I really feel like been there, done that, now I want some fun. She wants to watch Babel; I'd rather watch the Mummy. It was so lovely to hear several of the other folks say how they prefer to be entertained that made to feel sad from a movie. Anyway, we've reached movie detente. We both like spaghetti westerns, so the next knit night at her house will probably include The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. (I'm just waiting for the Sergio Leone box set to come down a bit in price - I must have it).

As for Brownie, she's still on the slippery slope of ill health in the elderly cat. She will officially turn 18 sometime in the next week or so. I don't know her actual birthdate. I'm not sure I ever had that info, but I do know she and Pixel were born in August. Pixel is still very spry although she doesn't do much grooming anymore and isn't the most cooperative when it comes to getting brushed. She still seems healthier than Brownie which is good. I'm not looking forward to having to medicate more than one each day. However, it beats the alternative. These girls are my first ever cats, and I don't look forward to the day when they are no longer with us.

See, really no reason to blog at all. The UT blanket seems neverending, but that's because I have other things I'd rather be knitting. I'm at the heel turn of my first toe up sock, which is pretty exciting. I'm just barely into clue 4 of MS3, and I've got about 2 inches of cuff for Keith's second grey & blue sock. I've finally decided what to make for Honi's wedding too, so I've got wind yarn for that as soon as I get the blanket finished.