Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'm exhausted!

This is what happens when I read gardening books and magazines. Like most people, I get spring fever.

It's especially bad this year after all the months of nonstop rain (with some snow tossed in there too), and I've got it bad.

Since we've got classic Georgia red clay and only a few flat, sunny areas in our yard in which to plant, I decided that after Keith cleared out an area for me to use, that I would follow the advice of those books and magazines and double dig the garden area.

I'll admit, here and now, that I'm a middle aged woman who could lose a few pounds. Double digging sounds like good exercise, right?

Ok, what in the world was I thinking? It's darn hard work. On Monday morning, I did about half the garden area. Yesterday I hurt quite a bit, but by later in the afternoon, I decided to move some flagstone and hoe up weeds, thinking it would be less labor intensive than all that digging. Today Keith got up with me, and we finished digging out the bed, then added the compost, sulfur, vermiculite and organic vegetable fertilizer. Funnily enough, I don't feel as sore as I thought I would be, but I'm still too stiff to attempt yoga.

Anyway, that's why I've not been blogging as much, and I'm also apologizing for not keeping up with comments better. I probably won't be here much over the next few days either as tomorrow I get to add more granite sand and level it out for the shed foundation. I'm sure I'm the one who will get to paint the plywood floor before installation too. I've got some sort of vining weed from the mint family that is taking over my long neglected from flower beds, so once I'm finished with the parts of the shed that I can do, I've got tons of weeding to do.

One good thing about all these gardening magazines is that I've found a nontoxic recipe to kill poison ivy. I'll give it a try and report back.

I do have pictures of much of this too. They're still on the camera right now. I'll get to them soon. I'll be back as I can!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stitches Swag!

Here are my goodies from Stitches South. As you can see, I actually did have some self control.

First up, the blue and burgundy are for a vest for Keith. He likes vests during the winter, and I decided that I needed to knit one for him. The yarn is Vintage by Berroco. It's a blend of acrylic, wool, and nylon. It feels very soft and is machine washable.

I had been thinking about his vest for awhile now, and I'd looked at a very nice superwash merino from Plymouth Yarn that Needle Nook carries. While it had a great price and looks like a really wonderful yarn, many of the colors are more solid. The Vintage ones are more heathery with bits of the burgundy in the blue and blue in the burgundy.

I found the yarn at Webs' booth, and they give you a discount if you spend a certain amount. The Vintage is a moderately priced yarn, so I went and picked up enough in this heathery green to make a vest for myself too.

While strolling along, Alma and I were enticed by some of the amazing weaving of Neal the Weaver. She let us gush about her weaving, and she said that while she'd sell them, that she was really there to sell yarn. Well, we were already fondling her lovely hand-dyed silk yarns. She had Tussah silk and a smoother, spun silk, and it is quite interesting to see how they dye up differently. What you see is the Tussah silk that I got. It's much more orange and brighter in real life. Of course what you see on your monitor will vary.

I also stopped by The Sanguine Gryphon. Her yarns, especially Bugga, are some of those that are nearly impossible to get. I bought some last year that is still hibernating in a yarn bin, but honestly, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to get a bit more. It's not all Bugga. I purchase an Eidos and Skinny bugga too.
I was at Stitches both Friday and Saturday. It was great to be able to see people I've not seen in some time. I had two friends mention that I've not been blogging lately. Oops!
I have been busy with Keith. Today we're off to get the fertilizer, vermiculite and some sulfur for the garden. I may have mentioned that my soil was more towards the neutral to alkaline that I would have ever dreamed it was. As veggies actually prefer it a bit more acid, I'll add the sulfur to slightly lower the pH. This should be interesting. I've never done this type of gardening before where I test the soil and add nutrients accordingly. With the canning class early this summer, I'm quite looking forward to growing some of our own food. I doubt we'll replace the farmer's market, but to be able to supplement our diet with homegrown will be great. I'd prefer to keep it all organic, so after menu planning for this week, I'll be calculating amounts and finding what the best organic sources are for soil building.
I do have more photos, but blogger was so very slow that I'll have to add them later. Have a great Sunday!

Friday, April 23, 2010

I know!

I've been a bad blogger. It seems when I get really busy in real life, the blog just falls by the wayside.

Keith was home on staycation last week, and we installed a foundation for a shed. That took a lot of work over 3 days. We had to rent a truck, get lots of gravel (2500 lbs!), unload the gravel, build a frame with landscape timbers, and finally move all the gravel. We couldn't drive and unload the truck close to the shed site because we can't drive over the septic field, especially since it's not even a year old! I think it took Keith 23 wheelbarrow loads to move it all. (I did help shovel, and I took one small load up, but he did the bulk of it. I did, however, drill holes and hammer enormous nails into the timbers.)

I'll post pictures of all that later.

Yesterday we emptied out the composter (and I have no idea when the last time we did that was) and moved 3 wheelbarrow loads to the front where we're planning to plant some veggies and a few flowers. I tested the soil and discovered it needs just about everything. That means a trip to Home Depot to pick up fertilizer and vermiculite to lighten up the clay soil. The compost will help, but I think it will need more than that. I'll post a few pictures of that too.

I went to Stitches South today and was pretty controlled about buying yarn. Being a former yarn shop employee and helping Gale with fiber festivals this past year has really helped me in the self control department. It has to be knock me off my feet gorgeous for random yarn purchases. There were some nice yarns, but other than some Berroco Vintage for a vest for Keith, I only purchased a few from Sanguine Gryphon and Neal the Weaver. The best part was going with friends and seeing others there that I've not seen in awhile.

I'm off to do more laundry. The dryer took some time off, and now it's working again.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oh! My aching legs!

I've learned two things don't go well together - spinning for the first time in several months and deciding to start Couch to 5K.
That means you'll get shin splints within the very first 2 minutes of walking.

However, the Moonbeams are just gorgeous.
Keith is on staycation this week, so the future holds more physical torture for me. He's doing C25K also, and he's in better shape than I am. He's got a longer stride, so I'm having jog a few steps every here and there just to keep up with him when we're walking.
Our future holds building a shed this week. It's been in pieces in our basement since just before the monsoons started last September. Today will involve gravel, lots of it, for a shed foundation.
Before the day is over, I may be wishing that I was dating House just so I could snag a Vicodin or two. I'll have to settle for Tylenol and a hot soak with Epson salts.
I hope I'll be able to spin that last Moonbeam tonight. I'm looking forward to plying them together and using my lazy Kate for the first time.
ETA: I do have better pictures of the spun Moonbeams. They're still in my camera, so I'll post them later today, Keith willing. (He can be a harsh taskmaster when he's on a mission.) Hey, I'll post pics of the shed too.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Finished Citron

Here is the finished Citron. I haven't blocked it yet, so it's more ruffly than it will be in the future. It's so lightweight and soft, the perfect type of shawl to toss into your purse when going to the movies this summer. (I haven't been to a movie since last summer when we saw Terminator Salvation, so hopefully something interesting will come along.)

This other item is the beginning of a top down, wrap sweater. That's the neckline you see there. I'm using Zara by Filature di Crosa, and I'm loving it. It's a tightly spun merino wool, so it's very soft and has a squooshy feel to it. I'm so glad that I got this when it was on sale, but now I'm wishing I'd gotten more.
I'm about 2 rounds from the heel on Keith's second Malabrigo/Prairie sock. I need to sit down and get that done so I can get those socks finished.
In other news, the sun is finally out! We've had several days so far with no rain, and I'm looking forward to getting a bit more yardwork done tomorrow. Enjoy the weekend!

Of women, cephalopods and space monsters

On Tuesday while I was perusing the various message boards over on Ravelry, I came upon a thread about a rather offensive video game. Yes, of course I had to go read it and see what had upset this woman so very much. The video game was about rape, and I would have stopped reading it except for the discussion had sequed into some observations about Japanese culture.

I'm the first to admit that I don't know much about Japanese culture as there are other cultures that interest me more, so I read a bit more, and that is when a side topic of certain types of Japanese pornography appeared.
Apparently there is a subgenre that is of women being ravished by tentacle monsters. Yes, you read that correctly. To illustrate the point, one of the Ravelers linked to a picture from 1820 that demonstrates this. Before you go look, let me say that it's probably not safe for work, definitely not safe for your kids, and that what has been seen cannot be unseen. I've piqued your curiousity now, haven't I? Here it is.

Let's take a minute and talk about it, shall we? My first reaction was a mixture of "ewww!" and laughing. Yeah right, that's what women dream. Who wouldn't want to get it on with an octopus instead of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn? As for Keith's reaction when I showed it to him, well, I got another laugh out of that. The look on his face was so funny to me. It was mostly disgust. However, he did say the octopus looked like an alien, and that's when the thought hit me. If you look at science fiction, there seems to be a tradition of tentacled aliens. Let's look at a few of them after you indulge me while I ramble.
Why are cephalopods used as aliens so much? If you've read my blog for any length of time, you will know that I think they are amazing creatures. Not in the "I want to take one to bed" sort of way, but in a "wow, how do they do that?" way. The various members of this class of creatures can do so much that astounds humans. They are quite intelligent. (Which can be astounding enough considering what we encounter going about our daily lives. Imagine if the DMV were run by cephalopods.) This intelligence allows them to reason to some extent. Their skin changes colors to indicate emotions or to allow it to camoflage itself. I do love in one of the documentaries how a smaller male cuttlefish changes its color to look like a female and is able to mate with her right under the nose of a larger, more agressive male. You must admit that is very cunning.

However, it's their appearance that makes us use them for aliens. They are so unlike us. The soft body that can seem to change size. The tentacles which are very versatile and tactile. They look so darn different and otherworldly, and when trying to imagine an alien species as unlike us as possible, they probably just come to mind. I read somewhere that the reason there are so many other bipedal aliens in the Star Trek universe had more to do with the constraints of having to use human actors than anything else. (This was explained in an episode of The Next Generation where Picard, a Romulan, Cardassian and Klingon discover that all species have a common ancestor way back when. The name of the episode escapes me now. I'll do some research once I've had some coffee.)

Anyway, back to the space monsters.

The first one that popped into my mind is actually only described and never shown in their natural state. We'll blame lack of special effects for that since they are in Star Trek: The Original Series. The episode is By Any Other Name. If you read through you will find a reference to when Spock mindmelds with Kelinda and sees a creature with hundreds of tentacles. It's really too bad they didn't have the technology to do the special effects. Imagine a cuttlefish piloting a spaceship.

Next is the baby Agent J delivers in Men In Black. If you've seen the movie, you might remember seeing J being tossed around by tentacles coming from the car as mama space monster gives birth. Soon thereafter we see J holding a cute little octopuslike creature that smiles at him and then barfs on him.

Actually, as I thought about this and more aliens popped into mind, I recalled as a child reading over and over again the Classic Comic's version of The War of the Worlds. In this version the aliens were gray tentacled creatures who have a head shape that remind me of The Brain. I was glad when they died instead of wondering if I could date one of them.

Another example where this time a man falls in love with one is Galaxy Quest. Tony Shalhoub's character falls in love with Laliari, and during one of their makeout sessions we see her tentacles surrounding him. (I've looked all over and haven't yet found a picture of the Thermians in their natural state, so go buy this movie and watch it. It's wonderful and fun.) I'm wondering if maybe this is what Japanese men really want, but instead sublimate their octopoidal fantasies and project them onto women instead. But, I digress. Let's go back and look at more fictional tentacled space monsters.

I'm sure there are more, but of the ones I can remember, I left my favorites for last. Kang and Kodos from The Simpsons. In one episode it turns out that Kang is Maggie's father! I'll admit that the conception scene would never make it into a Japanese porno as Kang uses an insemination ray on Marge and never actually touches her.

And finally, he's not a space squid, but a demented lobster monster. Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama does have some squidlike features. Once again, go buy Futurama and watch it. Zoidberg is much more concerned with looking for food although they do go to his home planet when he contracts a case of Pon Farr, although that's not what they called it.
Anyway, perhaps I won't find myself thinking of sci-fi cephalopods in the back of my mind as I go about my daily routine tomorrow, although scrubbing out the dog houses and planting a few new plants does give one's mind plenty of room to roam the cosmos.

Have I induced nightmares? Well, if you dream you're about to be ravished by an octopus tonight, you can remind it just how damn good calimari is and dream yourself up a heaping mound of delicately fried rings instead.
Pleasant dreams.