26 July 2007

Chickens and Lizards

California's Central Valley is one of the world's major agricultural areas. Most of those ag products end up getting transported on Highway 99, which links all the valley's major cities from Sacramento to Bakersfield. Consequently, it's not unusual to encounter lost produce along the highway. I've seen tomatoes, peaches, melons, garlic, cotton bolls, onions, almonds, sugar beets, and bales of hay. There was the time a train traveling along the tracks that parallel the highway sprang a leak in one of its freight cars, leading to several miles of spilled feed corn and several days of avian feeding frenzy. There was--one of my personal favorite road disasters--the overturned truck full of beehives. Today was a new one, though. Someone lost part of his load of large feather-filled plastic bags. For almost two miles, we had a blizzard of chicken feathers. Even once we got past the site of the spill, there was a constant flurry because an oblivious woman ahead of me had managed to get one of the bags wedged under her car. After I reached my destination, I found a souvenir lodged in my wheel-well.

Also, it's been a while, but I finally finished another Lizard Ridge block. This is #13, so I'm now over halfway there.

24 July 2007

Harry Potter, the Yarn, and the Pond

I'd preordered the new Harry Potter book and it arrived Saturday afternoon, but I was teaching a weekend class. I wasn't allowed to crack the book until yesterday, after I'd graded everything and handed in my grades. In the meantime, I hid the book from Thing 1 so she wouldn't read it and tell me what happens. Once my grades were in I dove into the book obsessively, and I just finished it. Now T1 can have it.

I haven't completely neglected the rest of the world for 48 hours, however. For example, today I attempted to rescue the cashmere/merino that Furgie had used as a litter box. I soaked it in OdorMute and then left it outside to dry. It was in the mid-90's today--good aerating weather, I suppose. I dunno if my attempts have worked. The smell is gone, but the yarn is drying rather stiff:

Well, we'll see when it's completely dry if it's useable.

I also took T1 to my campus today with a bag full of bread. The ducks, of course, were very shy in claiming their share:

Several of them came over to check me out while I was taking pictures, and one stood on my foot. We have mostly mallards and mallard/domestic crosses on campus, but this spring they were joined by a gorgeous little wood duck:

There was a mallard with babies, but she was warier, and didn't get close enough for pictures.

This pond is one of several on campus, and it's right next to my office building. It's very pretty. It even has a little bridge leading to a small island with picnic benches. T1 and I were on the island in these pictures. I don't know what the grounds crew puts in the pond that turns it such an unnatural green color, but whatever it is, it doesn't seem to bother the critters. In addition to the ducks, this particular pond is also home to a couple of red-eared sliders, both of whom are also fond of bread.

There are also innumerable tiny fish, and they create minature feeding frenzies over thrown bread. If you click on this picture, you might be able to see them clustered around the floating lavash:

At least one larger fish lives here, too. I haven't been able to get a really clear look at it or a picture, but it will ocassionally lunge out of the water to snatch some bread. It's at least a foot long and sort of muddy colored.

18 July 2007

See this

Neatorama had a post today about an incident I'd heard about, but never seen. The blog entry includes a video. The incident took place in Oregon in 1970, and surely belongs near the top of the list of Ideas that Seemed Good at the Time But Really Turned out Not to Be. One of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. Just watch.

New hobby, new toy, new tires

Okay, so it's not like I needed another hobby. But I have nearly two decades worth of pictures tossed into envelopes and shoe boxes and strewn onto CDs and my hard rive. It's time to bring some order to this chaos. So I've begun a scrapbook of February's Disneyworld trip. At the current rate, I'll have all our pictures in scrapbooks by about the year 3000. But they will be more fun to look at than they are now.

Today I acquired a nearly-new Macintosh in my office due to a colleague's retirement. I actually do most of my work on PCs, but I have an ancient Mac in my office that's been limping along as a web server. And I've been totally lusting after newer Macs, with their sleek and sexy monitors and lack of separate towers. So I'm very happy with my new toy, and, with the help of our extremely "helpful" IT office, the new Mac and server ought to be running right also by the year 3000. But in the meantime, at least the Mac looks pretty in my office.

Thing 1 is attending gymnastics camp this week, which requires me to make twice-daily trips to the gym, 20 miles away. On Monday morning we passed 5 cars with flat tires, and I joked that it was National Flat Tire Day. "I'm glad we're not celebrating!" I joked.

Hah hah.

Apparently, it's actually National Flat Tire Week, and I am too celebrating. As I was on my way to pick up Thing 1 this afternoon my tire suddenly blew. Luckily: a) I hadn't yet got onto the freeway; b) my car handles really beautifully, even with a sudden flat; c) it was quite pleasant out today, so I didn't broil while waiting for AAA to arrive; and d) my tires were about due for replacement anyway. A sharp metal bolt was the culprit, and the tire is toast. Hubby had to leave work early to pick T1 up, but we did all get home safely. Now, don't you go celebrate too!

15 July 2007

Plague Scarf

FInally, I have a new FO, the Berry Berry Bubble Scarf. Both pattern and handpainted mohair are from Blue Moon. I prefer to think of it as the Berry Bubonic Scarf, first because the bubbles resemble buboes, and second because making it rather plagued me. It's a zillion rows of boring stockinette and 3x3 rib, knitted on size 4 needles, and using really fluffy sticky mohair. Then you have to attach lots and lots of little wooden balls using rubber bands, felt the thing, and then remove the lots and lots of little wooden balls and rubber bands. It is fun and funky looking, though, the yarn feels light and yummy, and I like the colors. Of course, it was 97 degrees today, so I'm clearly not going to be wearing this anytime soon.
Unfortunately, and quite by accident, I recently discovered this site. I warn you now, if you treasure your slumber time at all, do NOT visit this site at 10pm when you have to get up at 6 the next morning. You've been warned.

12 July 2007


Anna sells patterns for very cute knitted stuff. I especially like the Rainycloud. Anna also has a MIL with a yarn stash that took my breath away. You have to look--it's amazing. And the next time Hubby comments on the size of my stash, I'm going to show this to him.

09 July 2007


Thank you to all of you on the sympathy and advice on my hypothetical yarn. I just so happen to have some OdorMute, so I'll try that plus some drying time outside in the hot air. I guess the worse that could happen is I'd have to throw it away anyway. I've now removed all yarn from the lower bins, except yarn wrapped in plastic. I do learn from my mistakes.
Today I wanted to share with you my very favorite thing I ever knitted:

I made it probably 9 years ago, back before Thing 1 was even conceived. I knitted a lot of baby stuff back then because it's quick. I figured if I didn't have babies someday, someone I knew would. This is a Dale of Norway pattern knitted in Dale Baby Ull, machine-washable merino. I remember the yarn cost over $50, which was a healthy chunk of my assistant professor salary. Even though it's tiny, it took a zillion years to make because of the small gauge (size 1 needles) and fair aisle patterns--three colors in the ladybug rows! On top of all that, it was knitted in the round and steeked. It was my first steeking experience, and was highly traumatic (although it turned out just fine). Those were probably my first socks, too.
But the results were so worth it! I've never seen a cuter kids' sweater pattern, and the yarn is so soft and springy. Here's what T1 looked like wearing it, some time around her 1st birthday:

When the Things wore that sweater, people used to stop and ask where I'd got it. I always replied, oh-so-modestly, "I made it."

When you put a lot of time and effort and money into baby clothes, you're faced with a choice: either let them actually wear the clothes and hope they don't get instantly ruined, or save the clothes but never let the kids actually wear them. The Things wore this sweater a lot. It held up very well against two messy, active little girls. I took that picture of it with the socks yesterday, and you can see it still looks nice. And the yarn has only gotten softer.

Hubby and the Things are having a garage sale this weekend (while I'm teaching a class all day--ha ha!) so I've been busy sorting baby clothes. This one definitely goes in the "save" box.

What's your favorite thing you ever made?

08 July 2007


Okay, let's say there's a woman who owns 1000 yards of brick red lace-weight cashmere/merino, which she stores in the bottom bin of her yarn organizer. And let's say this woman also has an 18-year-old cat, who, while otherwise quite healthy and spry, occasionally has potty-related senior moments. And let's further suppose that the woman goes away on vacation for 2 weeks, and the cat is perhaps a bit put out by her prolonged absence. Finally, let's suppose that in the woman's absence, the cat decides to use the 1000 yards of cashmere/merino as a very soft, very expensive litter box.

Does the woman:
  1. Attempt to salvage the yarn, which cost her $60 at Stitches West two years ago? or
  2. Sigh sadly, chalk this up as a Lesson Learned, and dump the yarn in the trash?

Speaking hypothetically, of course.

05 July 2007


Today's entry will be varied. First off, pictures of the knitting project I made while in Portland.

Behold the world's biggest hat! Herby was impressed. Here's what it looked like after felting:

The pattern is from Felt It! It's supposed to be a placemat with several swirls of color. But when my Mom made the pattern, she discovered it makes a better bowl than placemat. I thought it'd work well as a Yin-Yang bowl, and I am very pleased with how it turned out. I may make more.

Yesterday I promised more pictures from our travels. Rather than clog the blog, I put them up as a couple of photo sets on Flickr. Feel free to browse so you can view Voodoo Doughnuts, a chocolate stash (did I tell you I found a source in Portland for Curly Wurlies??), and more.

Ruthie spent the last few days at the kennel, so when we picked her up this morning she had that kennel smell. Plus she'd spent a lot of time playing in water and she was looking bedraggled. It hit 109 degrees here today, and I decided it was the perfect opportunity for a dog wash. Ruthie usually isn't too thrilled about baths, but today she didn't even bother with a token struggle. Hose water feels good when it's this hot!

Now Ruthie is still slightly damp and she smells like baby powder-scented shampoo. Thing 1 and I quite enjoyed the process too, and we jumped in the pool afterward.

Finally, Mim has tagged me, so here are 8 random things about me: 1) I have a scar on my right index finger due to a run-in with a meat slicer at a pizza place I worked at in college; 2) I also have a small scar on my left arm from a hot french-fry basket at my first job, McDonald's; 3) I like to write short stories and would love to have one published someday; 4) Also in college, I once earned money spending a weekend scooping poop at a dog show; 5) I have a reputation in my family for bringing up yucky conversation topics--bugs, blood, dead bodies, etc.--during meals; 6) I got a D in calculus my senior year in high school; 7) In law school, I won an award for having the highest grade in my class in my Wills & Trusts course, of all classes; and 8) I really want to take a glass fusing class.
Rather than tagging any specific people, I tag everyone who reads this!

04 July 2007


I'm tired!!

Well, maybe not as tired as my Dad's dog, Foenix, who likes to sleep in the tub.

We returned home from Oregon Sunday night, but then left for San Francisco first thing Monday morning. I'll post more pictures later, but here are a few highlights.

For about a year, someone in Portland has been chaining plastic horses to the iron rings that still exist in some neighborhoods, from when people had to tie up their (real) horses. We found this one near Northeast Alberta Street.

The next couple of pictures are from San Francisco. Even though I teach Criminal Justice, I'd never been to Alcatraz until yesterday. We lucked out with some gorgeous weather. I really enjoyed the prison tour, but here's something a bit more unexpected that we saw:

That is a baby seagull. For all the zillions of times I've been around adult gulls, I don't think I've ever seen a baby before. It was peeping cutely at its parents, which are just off-camera. Incidentally, Thing2 insists on calling these birds "eagles," much to the amusement of everyone around.

One more shot from Alcatraz:

It's a pity we don't have one of these at home. It would make time-outs much more meaningful.

I'm planning to spend the next couple of days resting and catching up on things. I'm actually going to be staying put at home for a few weeks now--maybe I can catch up on some knitting. Tomorrow I'll post a pic of the FO I made in Oregon.