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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sometimes you need to be a bit selfish

And I have been the last couple of days. I knit for me. It's been a while. In fact, it's been about a year. I tend to knit for others. I see a pattern that yeah, I like and find interesting and my fingers itch to play with and see what comes of it. Or something in the back of my mind tickles on an idea for a creation and before I know it, anytime knitting is on my mind I'm messing with the thought. But with it all, I'm normally also thinking about who would like the item. Last year I knit myself a neck muffler that was cabled and dual layered with a lanolin rich wool outer layer and a soft cozy alpaca liner for walking dogs in the Wyoming Wind. Since then, they're has been a single pair of socks that was meant as a warm up to knitting two at a time socks. I figures that way if they were horrible, I wouldn't mind.

But now... I knit something for me that I've been wanting for a bit. Jared Flood's Koolhaas hat. I originally knit one last year with a set of matching fingerless gloves to have as a teaching model for a class. After class was completed they ended up being a Christmas Present for a co-worker. I then made a smaller one for a nephew and have used it a modified version for baby hats a couple times since. But I always wanted one for me.

And here it is. I decided after I was working on a pair of socks and someone mentioned that the yarn matched my eyes that if I had enough remaining for a hat I was going to make myself a hat from it. And I did!

So the last two nights I have been working on this. I thought I had it all completed last night, bound off, wove in my ends and went to the bathroom to check out my handiwork. Then I had that moment. You fellow knitters know the moment. That heart sickening moment that you know you screwed up. I had thought as the hat grew that it was getting too long. I had exceeded 6 inches of hat body and decided to stop at four repeats of the pattern. Me, a big head?!? Well, it would appear so. My ego is bruised deeply. Okay, well perhaps not.

This morning I got up, started the lasagne sauce for tonight's feast and sat to rip out the crown of the hat and re-knit the extra repeat. I'm just thankful hat was all the was required. Now, taking pictures of the back of my own head? That was a bit more challenging. God Bless Duct Tape. I no longer have a functional tripod, so no helpful suggestions guys.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Socks Done!

Lookey Lookey
That's right... I got all eight pairs done as of this morning. I got up at 0430, brewed a pot of tea and sat and knit till the last pair was done. With that, Christmas knitting is complete! I can't believe it. I'm still stunned at just the thought. It's not even Halloween and I have all planned Christmas knitting done. You know what that means? Next year I'll get Christmas Knitting done around the following fourth of July. I threw the cosmos out of balance so I must pay dearly next time around. It's just the way it works.

As for Christmas weather, we got no snow accumulation to speak of, it's forcasted for the 50's the next several days and I have to shower and get outside to rake leaves. Have a great day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


It's snowing! I'd post more of my feverish state but I worked last night and am tired, but I thought I'd post this before taking the mutts out to get wet and tired before crashing. Hope your morning is as fantastic as mines about to be!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Days Off...

The last two days have been very enjoyable. I have made the conscious decision to just kind of take each day slowly and hang with the dogs, get some knitting done, cook and just enjoy the days. This morning I got up, fed the Muttley crew, fish, and bitchy kitty before delving into prepping a buffalo stew before going back to bed. Really, that sounds so much lazier than it is. I went to bed just shy of 0100 this morning, slept until 0500, crashed again at about 0700 before getting up at 1100. That is only 8 hours of broken up sleep. When I got up, I cleaned up, took the kids out for a good romp on the mountain and then came home and attacked brownies.

I tried but was unsuccessful to text the smell of the house this afternoon to a fellow knitter who had requested it. Verizon really needs to get on that little calling plan feature. Of course, the pranking ability of such things is maybe what's keeping that out of the Research and Development Department. Yep, all those college buddies of yours that said, Dude, smell this." or "You wanna smell my finger?" Would just send you said nastiness in a neat little text. Never mind Verizon, scratch that thought.

This evening I fed the kids again then headed to knit night. And it was grand. I took the crockpot of stew and two pans of brownies (we have to have nut free choices for some) and others brought wine and we had a veritable little feast. So, maybe a lot of knitting didn't get done. A 2 year old had good laughs and times, we got to see two friends off for their wedding and all in all, just enjoyed one anothers company.

So, here I sit after coming home to walk the dogs again thinking, I need to get another blog post up for this week before returning to work. What does one blog about when one has made a point of doing nothing in particular. I have generally stayed out of public as much as possible so I don't even have little quips, stories or irritations to share. So I'll share the things that have given me the greatest smiles the last two days and the pieces of wisdom I've gleaned from them.

Not much in this world is better than a good butt scratch.
The world is such a friendly place when you have a good stick with you and someone willing to throw it.
The breeze in our hair makes any day seem brighter and sunnier.
There's not much better than cool water to wade in...
Unless it's cool mud between to toes.
And a run with a good bud through tall grass to dry off.
Oh, and don't forget to slow down and rest when needed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Knitting Season

First Jack O'Lantern of the year! I'm so excited!
Mainly for these. I love roasted pumpkin seeds. I think I love roasting them and how they make the house smell almost as much as eating them.
Damn cats always getting in the way.

The inside of the idea I had to seal off the hole for the air conditioner. Last year we wrapped the unit in place but it still leaked a lot of heat and wouldn't stay covered in the wind no matter the amount of duct tape used.
And the outside. Originally I didn't think to hard about it and accidentally put the wing nuts outside before realizing that meant anyone could unscrew it and shimmy through the hole. Of course, then they'd have to tango with the dogs. Maybe I should have left it and set up a web cam?

As I was about to clean off the counter for the last picture I realized that it kind of summed up my world. Cooking and always messing with something. I thought fresh roasted pumpkin seeds along with work gloves, eye protection, weather stripping and carpenter's pencils showcased my weekend to the T.

I've been cranking out Christmas socks in a vain attempt to get all Christmas knitting done by Halloween. I know, all knitters reading this are shaking their heads and mumbling to themselves "crazy boy, time to take those medications". I'm in the thick of pair 6 of 8. Thankfully the last two pairs are smaller sizes. I'm working on a womens size 8 and have a size 8 EEE mens and a womens 4 1/2 left still. I tried to get the big ones out of my way becuase I knew I would be getting tired of the tedium of socks. Already I've started messing with ribbings to ease the boredom. Almost there. I'm still hopeful.

I already have the next knitting project picked out for a friends Montessori Schools annual fund raiser. It isn't until February but I want the deadlines finished with so I don't have to stress them. Then I have a quick hat project for me to use up some left over sock yarn that matches my eyes before I tackle my own sweater. I was very frustrated to find out that I don't have enough of either of the yarns I set aside for either of the sweater projects I was hoping to do. Grrrrr.. Good thing one set of yarn I didn't pay for and the other set of yarn I paid about 25% off sticker for. I'm sure I can find something to do with them. Maybe a nice vest and a shawl? They're both beautiful fibers. One is a wool/possum blend from Zealana and the other is Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed. Both in great neutral grayish beige tones. Alas, I will find something to weedle down the stash with.

Well, I better get the apple cobbler and ice cream together for dinner with the in-laws... Is it bad that I drank half a bottle of wine this afternoon while carving the first Jack O'Lantern of the season to prep for tonights dinner? Ahhhh, family. And the holidays aren't even here yet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall, kind of

Today was a... good day. A very good one. I know many other Casperites would not consider a day that took turns spitting at them then showing sunny skies while trying to blow their clothing about their heads before torrential rains in said wind soaked them and buffeted them on their way home before clearing and showing them the dusting of snow on the mountain to be particularly good. Forgive me, I'm a twisted Casperite. Maybe better described as a South Central Alaskan. For there any fall day that the sun shown and one can get out and smell the fall leaves is a very good day indeed.

And that is what today reminded me of. As I strolled with my pack of mutts, I kept getting whiffs of something that almost, almost to the point of making me home sick smelled of home. You see, autumn back home is one of my favorite seasons. Granted, it's a short one. On a bad year it can last about, well, about three days. One night you get a good frost, the next day you start getting golden leaves, and two days later a good rain knocks them all from the trees and it's winter. But on a good year, you have cold nights that change the leaves but warm days that are a pleasure to wander the trails amid. And the nights frost ripens the low bush cranberries and they fill the air with their musky, tangy, wonderful scent. There's an aroma memory there for me that always equates that smell with sunny crisply blue skied days. Ahhhh... Many east coasters lament that we truly only have gold and yellow autumnal foliage in Alaska but that is simply not true. Granted, yes most of our trees only have those two colors, but much of the imported mountain ashes have a gold thats blushed with reds. But if one gets above the tree line before the snows fall, climb into the Chugach along the Huffman trail basin or the Williwaw loop you get to see the most amazing scarlet's and reds that the crow berries and the low bush blueberries create. Mixed in with the deep greens of the scrub hemlock and the orange and golds of the labrador and it's like a flora patchwork of ground covers that rival any New England autumn.
Even on a good year, autumn is a quick season. Maybe two weeks worth of it's dazzling glory before the foliage is gone, the berries have either been eaten by bears before going to ground or fallen to the soil below to re-seed next year. If you're unlucky enough to have one of falls substantial wet heavy snows before the leaves fall it's also the time of year for power outages as snow laden limbs take down lines. It too, is the season of the moose. No longer hidden by the foliage they become more apparent even in urban areas as they traverse the green belts and raid back yards of the last of the summers plant growth. I feel as though many of them have hunting season figured out and wander down out of the mountains and take up fall foraging where the hunters can't shoot.

As we watched the rain storm sweep closer I caught that smell again. The smell of wet yellow cottonwood leaves and rain. All it was missing was that musky tang of cranberries and it would have been home.

After we got in from the rain I decided to replace the batch of quick cook brownies that Bob made last night form a box. As I was slowly coming awake this morning I heard a ruckus in the kitchen and had found that a four legged mammal of still unknown species or name had raided them. There are two possible culprits. The dog that had taken himself to the crate (most likely) and the cat that tried to innocently clean her paws in the window seat (second most like accomplice). The old girl who would be my other guess what out cold by the front door. In her old age she's going deaf and was oblivious to the whole shindig (Truly, she's not that good of an actress, though she can be very dramatic). The other two boys were in the living room on the couches awaiting judgment but otherwise not acting the guilty party. You would think that the Great Dane who at a standing position can easily rest his head on the counter or look down at our table would be the bigger issue, but oh no... It's the border collie mix that seems to have food thieving propensities.

As the smell of fresh homemade (that's right, I made homemade brownies with a touch of cinnamon and chilli pepper even, no box mix for me) brownies filled the air I began the next set of socks. I now have three done and am starting on the fourth. The two for the remotest ranch that Bob will be visiting this weekend with his parents before the weather moves in for the winter are done. Next I will be attacking the three pair for the Alaska box. I want to make sure I get everything mailed home for Christmas so that perhaps this year everyone will have presents at Christmas. Fingers crossed on that one. Then I'll attack the remaining pairs that will be here for Christmas. Then perhaps, just perhaps, I'll get to work on the sweater for me I keep putting off in favor of projects for others, Once again, fingers and toes crossed.

I hope you all have a great week. I'm off to pop in a movie and make a valiant attempt at staying up late so I can return to work tomorrow night revived, refreshed and ready to tackle a new week. Truly, there was no sarcasm there. Well, not purposeful anyway.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Manners at the Pisser

That's right. We're going to have a little chat about public bathroom etiquette. Now I know this has been discussed on internet sources before, but after leaving a bathroom yesterday feeling dirtier than when I walked in although I had just washed my hands after a quick use of the urinal, I feel like it can't be discussed enough. So... Let's start with the basics.

Seriously, how hard can it be. It's pretty obvious that you either push the button or pull the lever. Especially when at a urinal guys. For F's sake, the lever is right there in front of your face! You retract, zip it up and reach up before stepping back and pull! Don't leave your last nights drunken thick yellow alcohol fragranced puddle for the next person to deal with. It's disgusting. Just flush because if I ever have to wait behind you for a chance to pee and you walk away before flushing, you can sure as hell betcha that I'm going to use the moment to do some public education.

Now, as obviously as this bugs me with a urinal, I'm even more disgusted by the leftovers you find in many stalls. I still recall the revoltion I had one day when I went to use the bathroom at work  and walked into the stall (I really try not to have to use a stall at work but sometimes nature just won't let you clench all day) and found someone else had left behind samples of their diet plan. As I reached over to flush it my name badges clip decided to give up the ghost and drop right in. Granted, at the time I even found it funny as I searched out a rubber glove to retrieve the badge and wrap it in before I could do my own deed. My boss asked me why I didn't just leave it to which I replied, "Are you kidding me? So someone would walk in and think I not only left the mess but then signed my name to it with my badge?" The gals in HR who remade my badge found the whole situation very humorous. I was glad I lightened the end of their day.


How hard is to hit a urinal? Really? It's right there in front of your crotch. If you can't manage to hit the urinals mouth, what does your home toilet look like? If you're married men, please give your wives my sincerest apologies and let them know that I think there are such things as justifiable spousacide.

And if you're one of these guys that can't hit the urinal, you better sit down when forced to use a stall. Granted, I don't like my bare skin to hit the toilet seat in public restrooms either, so you have a couple options. Hover, toilet seat cover, the toilet paper draping of the seat, or one that I learned from a lesbian roommate, the iron cross. We'll delve into that a little bit later. But if you have targeting issues, please, just sit and tuck it down before relaxing the urethra.

Before we move on to other subjects, let me share with you this nice little visual chart I found to remind you of some basic bathroom manners in case you can't read (why are you looking at blogs then?) or just that dense and laugh at my comments but don't see how they relate to your own dribbling indiscretions.

And now... Let's discuss some etiquette issues I have before the first flush ever happens.
Considerate Construction:
That's right builders and designers, I'm holding you responsible for tacky and inconsiderate bathroom design that makes bathrooms inherently un-hygenic and/or makes the users so uncomfortable they run like rabbits after barely getting their business concluded and secured behind the zipper flap.

First Item - The trough urinal
That's right ladies... the trough does exist. And I have to admit, this is one of the nicer ones I've see. At least it has a motion controlled drip bar to slowly and gently rinse the urine down the drain. I even see urinal mints! Nothing makes a bathroom smell so nice as a piss soaked urinal mint. Other than a few gallons of bleach and/or a really good fire.

This set up is quite popular with sports arenas and other large occupancy venues. Why you may ask? I haven't a clue but I'm sure it's why the men's bathroom doesn't have the line the women's always does. One look either scares the piss out of you or causes your prostate to seize and makes urination impossible. The only thing scarier is the circular troughs in the middle of the room. Yep, while you pee you get to look right across at someone else peeing or play the "Don't Make Eye Contact" game in fear that someone will think you're checking their junk out. Really designers? You think this is okay? You enjoy using this bathroom your self? If you do I wonder about your sex life. Yes, yes I do.

Second Item - The floor urinal
Other than the lack of privacy I just have a fear of spreading pathogens with these. I have this mental imagery as I pee of the little cloud of mist and spatters by my feet that I then track throughout what ever establishments or homes I go to that day.  I mean really? You piss from a standing position against a porcelain back and it tumbles to the ground. God forbid you drank the 64oz iced tea and have been holding through the end of the movie and have some force behind your release. Yeah that spray back you're feeling on the back of your hand as you control the aim is just in your imagination. That's why dogs take their time smelling my shoes on the street as I walk home. I always just feel the need for a shower and a load of laundry after I've used these.

These are just two of the worst general set ups that I think should be punishable by law. Maybe not the death penalty but I think there should be some jail time, or a lifetime of community service. Some of the other worse set ups I've seen involve the absence of doors. No, not a stall here and there, but all together. In a bar in Fairbanks I went to use the bathroom and found that there was no door from the hallway and as you looked in there was a urinal on the left wall that you could see the guy using it's dangling participle, and a stall with a sit down toilet facing the open doorway. Luckily that bar burnt down... Seriously I had nothing to do with it. Wasn't even in the town when it occurred. I instead had decided since it was a dark winter night I'd have more privacy in the back of the parking lot so I went and winter watered a willow that by it's stunted and gnarled appearance, many others had too.

A Wyoming specific thing I have noticed in the mens bathrooms, are the lack of toilet seat liners. Like I stated above, I am not one who likes to put my bare bum on a public toilet seat. Hell, after a party where I've witnessed my own toilets heavy traffic I don't like to put my bare bum on my own until I've scrubbed and sanitized the bathroom. So why I ask, do we not have toilet seat liners in this state? Granted, I have gotten great lower body work outs as I squat into a hover over a seat and try to relax a specific group of muscles while keeping the rest very tight. I know! Who would have thought there could be Toilet Yoga! If you try this, please remember to put a couple layers of toilet paper on the surface of the toilet bowl water or you get lots of splash... and then you might have well just sat down for the effort.

I was once discussing this issue with a roommate of mine and she told me that she uses the handicap stall so she can utilize the grab bars to do an iron cross over the toilet. Now, said roommate was a little Chinese gal all of maybe 5 foot 2. Doesn't that give you great mental pictures?
Personally, I don't even like to think about touching those bars or the lock on the stall door but when push comes to shove. Oh, but again, don't forget the toilet paper on the bowls surface, although you won't splatter easily into your own clothing since it's all suspended over the floor. You should try it, it's a great workout.

So, builders, designers and contractors, just in case you need a visual, here is the ideal urinal set up.

Granted, I know it's a bit more expensive and I'm sure the solid surface full length dividers are not necessarily needed, but you get the jist, right? Give a dude a little privacy, just a bit and guys, remember to flush. It's right there in front of your face. Just pull the damn lever. I'm watching... Ooooh, forget that, that just sounded wrong in so many many ways and I really don't want to discuss "Water Sports". But just a hint becuase I had to ask, it doesn't mean watching Olympic Mens Water Polo (I mean, who doesn't, right? Especially the underwater camera).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Peaceful Weekend

I decided to break up the Sunday morning relaxing with a bit of blogging. I typically brew myself a pot of teas as Bob walks the dogs over for a paper and relax in my chair knitting on Sunday morning's. It's to pay myself back for the typical Saturday morning of cooking and scrubbing.

This morning's project is a continuation of the Christmas Socks.
This is the third set of eight I have to get done. I finally broke down on this set and converted them to two at a time. One of my biggest issues with socks is getting them to match. This way I know I'll have to identical socks, barring any major stupidity on my part. We can always hope.

Being the first weekend of the month, we got the kids to the bath after a good romp. We normally hold off on river outings for at least a couple days after baths in a vain attempt at keeping the dogs clean. We know it's useless but we all have dreams don't we? So before hand we normally get them out for a good romp before hand to get some energy off.

It also helps for when you're having people over for dinner. You don't always have to keep telling them to go lay down while serving if they're tired enough to do so on their own. Makes people think my dogs are good.

Of course, getting up in the early dark hours of the morning to get the soup on and pies cooked leaves you kind of exhausted by the time you're sitting around after dinner and desert. I apologize to my guests for trying to fall asleep with my wine in hand while your were talking. It wasn't a commentary on your conversation, I promise. I had just been at it from early on. Don't gripe, you got the better part of the deal, I promise.
Oh, and just to pass on the peaceful feelings, here's a blood pressure lowering picture of the newest denizens of the menagerie.