Friday, August 31, 2007

Each game more satisfying than the last. Sigh of happiness.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Some knitting, some Vermont and some kitties.

First, some knitting. You may recall this sweater:

It is the sample for the Momogus Knits Baby Cabled Cardigan. Well, after starting the sleeve, I realized that I didn't like that the cables were both twisting the same direction. SO, I ripped out the sleeve and the left front and started over. (You should have seen Matthew's expression as I passionately discussed and debated this with him/at him for hours....) Here is a poor quality picture that (sort of) shows the new fronts with the cables twisting in opposite directions:

Much better. So then I decided to do the front button bands. I thought that it would look clean and nice, picking up stitches along the purl wasteland at the edge. But I was wrong. Oh so wrong. Here is how wrong I was:

It was so full of hole-y badness that I was beside myself. And then there was creeping realization of dread (accompanied by more passionate debate at long-suffering Matthew) that the only way to put a stabilizing border on the fronts was to RIP THEM BOTH OUT AND START OVER. Oy.

Fortunately, it's a baby sweater, so it's not completely onerous to rip and re-knit. But still. But here it is, all done. The buttonbands are a little wide for my taste (and of course I had my usual button placement issues), but I've revised the pattern since to make them a little narrower. It's a cute sweater, though, and I'm happy with it.

And now some random images from Vermont:

This was the fire tower at the top of Stratton Mountain. We took the ski lift up and then hiked about 2 miles to the fire tower. There is supposed to be a spectacular view from the top. It's about 50 feet high. Matthew doesn't love heights so he opted out of this part. I don't have a particular fear of heights (all that roofing work), but when Gus and I got to the top level my head was swimming woozily. Gus made it to the top platform, but I stayed on the steps right below. The hikers behind us only made it halfway up before they bailed, so Gus was very proud of himself.

Here is our little Ansel Adams. I gave him my old Olympus 35mm film camera, and he went to town. He's been out taking pictures with his dad for years, so he's an old hand, but I do love this picture.

Here's what he was taking pictures of. This was "The Swamp" - a beaver-created swamp halfway down the mountain that we drove by every day that was chock-full of photo ops. This is Matthew's eerie picture.

And this is Stitchy Women in Poultney, Vermont. This was my very first sales presentation of my patterns (not counting the Tangled Web, where I had an automatically captive audience). The owner, the warm and wonderful Mary Lee Harris, listened patiently to my spiel and bought the patterns! So now my patterns are carried in TWO states! (The gorgeous Whipple Tree Yarn Shop in Woodstock, Vermont is also carrying my patterns, but they don't seem to have a website for me to link to...)

And now, a kooky kitty moment, Nuts being Nuts:

Monday, August 27, 2007

The polls are closed, and the winner is: Pudge!

The vote (after numerous hanging chads were discarded) was Pudge 6, Cimi 4, and this guy:


If you want to see some creatures that will knock your socks off, go here, courtesy of friend Kel. I was all happy looking at the sloths and red pandas and angora bunnies, but then I came to the hagfish ("Their unusual feeding habits and slime-producing capabilities have led members of the scientific and popular media to dub the hagfish as the most 'disgusting' of all sea creatures."), and it made me cry it was so super-ooky. C'mon, go look and get all skeeved-out like I did!!

I keep meaning to get to my Vermont-y goodness posts, but other things keep intervening. Soon there will a post full of Vermont, but first a movie review. Yesterday Gus and I saw "Ratatouille". It was the most enjoyable kids movie I've seen since...hmmm...."Finding Nemo" maybe.... or "The Polar Express". If you have kids, I strongly recommend you find a theater and go see it. Even though it's from the Evil Empire, it was just right - beautifully animated, funny, gentle, good messages delivered in an un-saccharine manner. I find myself cringing through most kids' movies, but not this one. An unreserved MM thumbs-up.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Webkinz Cuteosity Standings As of This Morning (voting ends Monday - make your voice heard if you haven't voted yet!!):
Pudge: 5
Cimi: 4
ks's Weird Amphibious Thing: 1

Non-Knitters Alert! This post is all knitting and yarn! Here's what happens when I finally go on vacation and do NOT have tendinitis. I finished two and a half samples:

Momogus Knits Baby Cabled Pullover (Rowan Cashsoft DK - please excuse wonky-looking hem)

Momogus Knits Basic Baby Cardigan and Basic Baby Cap (Lana Grossa Merino 2000)

Momogus Knits Baby Cabled Cardigan (Rowan Felted Tweed - I forgot to bring the rest of the yarn for this or I would have finished it too!!)

Vacation Socks!! There are two things you need to know about this picture. One, I love knitting dk weight socks for my boy. I'm not quite sure why. Those are his on the left - Steinbach Wolle Strapaz from the wonderful Stitchy Women in Poultney, Vermont. His feet are still small enough that it wouldn't be a huge pain to knit him fingering weight socks. I am just addicted to knitting him dk weight socks. KnitPicks used to have awesome dk weight self-patterning sock yarn that cost like, a penny, but they discontinued it. I wish I had bought a hundred balls of it.

Anyway, by Tuesday I had finished the projects I had taken up with me, and I was desperate for a fix. We stopped in HandKnits in Wilmington, Vermont where there was a huge supply of Koigu. I gleefully picked out two skeins, like a crack addict who just came across some, ah, crack. I wound it over my knee in the car and cast on right away. I got about an inch into it and realized this amazing fact: I had discovered the only ugly colorway of Koigu on Earth. I was lulled into thinking it would be pretty because it had orange and bright pink in it. What I ignored was the grey, grey-blue, grey-green and greyish-purple that were also predominant. Ew. But what's a knitter to do?

Of course I kept going, and then I decided to do an experiment. I've always done the heels and toes of my Koigu socks in regular nylon/wool sock yarn - to stretch what I thought was the skimpy yardage of the Koigu and also to give the socks some durability. So I decided, since I didn't have any regular sock yarn and since I was knitting the socks toe-up, that I would conduct an experiment and see exactly how far a skein of Koigu goes.

I finally bound off when there were still probably a couple of yards left. These ended up significantly longer than I usually make my socks. That said, I'm a very lazy knitter and doing the socks toe-up always means that I get bored about 2 inches after I turn the heel so my socks are always on the short side. I knit these on a #2 needle and only on 56 stitches, but I ribbed almost the whole leg (I started the ribbing when I couldn't stand the stockinette in that horrid colorway anymore) so my conclusion is that 175 yards is plenty of yarn for an adult sock. I wear a size 9, if you need further information for comparison or wish to buy me some shoes.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Blog Contest!

Like many families with kids these days, we have been over-run with Webkinz. I "drew the line" [insert mocking and disbelieving laughter here] after Gus received one as a present, but now somehow he has seven. I think we are still in the average zone, but they seem to be accumulating at a mad rate. I can't get too upset though, since they're cuddly and he takes good care of them and it's better than playing with explosives.

Anyway, Gus wanted to get involved with the blog and proposed that we have a weekly contest to see which Webkinz people think is cuter. I talked to him about judging people on their appearance and how maybe one Webkin would have its feelings hurt if they lost and of course it's like talking to a wall. He listened patiently to my boring maternal lecture and then said, "So when can we start the contest?" So today we have the First Weekly Webkinz Cuteosity Contest. Please indulge a weary parent and leave a vote in the comments!!!

Which do you think is cuter?

Cimi the Lion


Pudge the Pug

Please vote - Gus has asked me about 165,473 times since yesterday if the votes have been tallied yet. And you don't want to disappoint the cutest 7-yr-old on the planet, do you????

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Latest Culinary Adventure

We're back in the swing of things, CSA-wise, which is good since we ate, ah, quite well, in Vermont and not always, ah, quite healthily.... The last package from Herrcastle Farm had four gigantic peaches that sat in a bowl on my kitchen table and perfumed the air with their peachy goodness. I looked at them yesterday and saw they were about to turn, so I decided (in my dreaming-I-was-a-Vermont- farmer's-wife way) to make peach cobbler with them. I've never made peach cobbler before, but it sounded like what you would make with fresh peaches and how hard could it be, eh? I turned to the usually-reliable "How To Cook Everything" but apparently Mark Bittman should have titled it "How To Cook Everything EXCEPT Peach Cobbler". Hrmph. It's the first time (admittedly in a million tries) he's let me down.

I went through all of my cookbooks (which are mostly those kooky local spiral-bound fundraiser types, which I love and which have a lot of Jello recipes and which I think should have had a lot of peach cobbler recipes), but NONE of them had any recipes for peach cobbler!! What's up with that? Finally I turned to Paula Deen's old Lady and Sons cookbook, which did have a recipe. Here is what resulted:

Looks good, eh? It should - it had 1.5 cups of sugar, one cup of flour, a cup of milk, a stick of butter and those four gorgeous fragrant organic peaches. You melt the stick of butter, pour the sugar/flour/milk mixture into the butter, and then spoon the peaches on top. Welllllll........ believe me, I'm not a picky eater or a gourmand or anything like that, but it was GROSS! How can that be? The "dough", which was supposed to, in Paula's words, "rise up through the butter", congealed on the bottom and never cooked through, despite 45 minutes in the oven. The butter swam on top in such an unappetizing way that I ended up fussily spooning it off before I dug in. The peaches were good, but how could they not be? I'm very sad about this whole experience - I've baked dozens of things from scratch and they've almost always turned out just right. I never had such an abysmal failure. And it's not like it was complicated or anything! I have a feeling that some crucial ingredient like eggs or baking powder was missing...

AHA! I just found this recipe which is basically identical, but calls for AN EGG and some BAKING POWDER!! I WAS RIGHT! I am vindicated. But sad. And left with no peaches and that icky doughy mess......

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sister Laura said that last post was so depressing even she didn't want to comment. Well, I got it off my chest. It's still gloomy here, but at least it's stopped raining. I have many many pictures of Vermont-y goodness, but first I must talk about the Phillies.

Last Pitcher Standing:

Consider this: the Phillies' Opening Day rotation was Hamels, Eaton, Myers, Moyer and Garcia, with Lieber starting the season in the bullpen. Then Lieber went on the DL, Garcia went on the DL, Eaton went on the DL, Myers went to the bullpen (to replace Tom Gordon, who went on the DL) and then HE went on the DL, and now Hamels is on the DL. Only poor 44-yr-old Jamie Moyer is left from Opening Day. The Phillies rotation right now is Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, Kyle Lohse, Fabio Castro and J. D. Durbin [who refers to himself as "The Durb", so we do too] And you know what? They're doing okay! Kendrick has been a revelation, Lohse hasn't been awful, and The Durb shows flashes of brilliance.

Of the other pitchers brought up to help out or in the bullpen, Gordon went on the DL, Ryan Madson went on the DL, Yoel Hernandez went on the DL, Mike Zagurski went on the DL, Scott Mathieson went on the DL. And then of course, in a string of catastrophic bad luck, Utley, Victorino, and Bourn all got injured within a few days of each other (Victorino and Bourn in the same game).

In all of my years of watching this beleaguered team, I have NEVER seen so many injuries. Not even close. And YET, this team is in second place in the NL East and in first place in the wildcard race. How can it be? Could it possibly be because I have had my Phillies flag up since the Fourth of July? (I secretly think so...)

Cross yer fingers.

Here's an extremely mossy moment from Vermont:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's been raining and cold and dark for the last two days since we've returned. Unfortunately, this exactly suits my mood right now. In addition to the post-vacation letdown, my life has been filled with other depressing stuff lately. Brace yourself if you read on - it's not a light-hearted post. I've tried to keep all this gloomy sad stuff off the blog for the last year, but it's just come to a head this week and I need to blurt things out.

Last week was the one-year anniversary of my mom's death. The whole year since she died I kept thinking, "I can't wait till a year has passed" because every time I thought of how life was a year ago it would make me sad at how cluelessly happy we were, not realizing what was about to happen. But now when I think of a year ago it just makes me sadder because, contrary to my expectations, though the initial wrenching grief has passed, the deep pervasive sadness that replaced it feels even more oppressive.

Then our family home for the last 40 years was sold, and we've spent the last couple of months cleaning it out. It was fun in a weird way for a while to divvy stuff up, but then the poor house became more and more denuded and sad. My sister said that she had "broken up with the house" emotionally before she moved, and I know what she meant. It's been a sad place since my mom died, and I didn't really want to spend much time there because it was so painful to realize what was missing, but still. Today the new owners (who are the wonderful and warm young family from across the street) move in. I just can't fathom what this new reality will be. I have to drive by the street the house is on twice a day to get Gus to school, so I can't avoid it. I'm trying not to anthropomorphize the house too much, but I have to admit it's soothing in a way to think that a new cycle is beginning and a new family will grow to love the house as much as we did.

I'm just not sure how I can get my brain out of the groove it's been in for the last 40 years - that the house is there, that it will always be there, that it is the safe haven where my family is. Now my family is all scattered or gone, and I'm the only one left in the area. I know that these things are cyclical and that it's time to move on and into every life some rain must fall and all that, but I feel like it's pouring, baby!!

Don't get me wrong - I am extremely happy and contented with my lot in life. I've been remarkably fortunate to have the family and friends that I do and count my myriad blessings every day. It's just all this ding-dang rain.

I'll leave this on a lighter note. This was my first and last meal in Vermont - the Best Chili Dog On Earth (and I would know!), fries and a vanilla milkshake from scratch, courtesy of the Bennington Tastee Freeze. Evidence that life is still worth savoring:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

We're back.........

This is where we were yesterday morning, contentedly skipping rocks into Lake Raponda:

Now we're home, and it's good to see the kitties and all, but I think we've all decided we're going back up to Vermont next weekend. And we're going to stay there FOREVER.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

We're Off!!

This is what I'll be looking at in, oh, about six hours:

Our first real vacation-y vacation in two years!! I hope I'm not putting too much pressure on us. We usually go up to Vermont every summer, but events transpired to keep us from going last summer and the summer before that Gus and I were both sick the whole time we were up there which put a damper on our time.

But now we're all healthy (KNOCK WOOD!)* and my tendinitis hasn't kicked in (KNOCK WOOD!), so yippee-yee-haw! Off we go! Have a good week!

*Of course after I wrote this Funny got sick and we had to go to the vet's, but she seems okay now. NOW we're off!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Elements of My Happiness

I'm not saying that these are the only elements of my happiness - I do have the son and the husband and the nice life and all, but let me tell you, around 6ish every evening or so, these elements play a very important part in keeping me happy. Now let me tell you a little bit more than you ever wanted to know about my evening cocktail.

I usually buy gin in a plastic bottle - for some reason it is more pleasing to me than gin in a glass bottle. I always have my evening gin and tonic in one of those plastic glasses with the sailboat on it. There's a fence on the other side - I know to fill up the gin to the bottom rail of the fence. I bought them about 20 years ago for my grandfather's shore house and then inherited them back when he died. The weird thing about the plastic gin bottle and the plastic glass is that I've basically eradicated as much plastic as possible from my life. I love glass, but my evening gin and tonic must be in that stupid plastic glass. I started with six of them and five of them have cracked over the years, so I am on my last one. I don't even order gin and tonics when I'm out because I'm so obsessively-compulsively specific about my requirements.

You may be wondering why I felt compelled to post about my evening cocktail. I was speaking to a friend recently about her dad, who is also a huge gin and tonic fan, and she said that he would be very sad about me buying gin in a plastic bottle and that I should splurge on some good stuff. I used to drink Boodles, but then I just drifted toward the ding-dang plastic bottle and that's where I've been.....UNTIL LAST WEEK. Last week I went to the state store to buy gin and came across the wondrous product pictured above. I had an epiphany!! It is LIME-FLAVORED GIN!!! Yes, yes, I hear you purists saying, "Hey, why don't you just have a wine cooler or a drink made with peach schnapps!! Don't put anything flavored in my gin!!" But you would be WRONG! This is the most delicious stuff put on this planet, I tell you.

As a disclaimer: I am not an employee of Tanqueray Gin Company, nor do I receive any sort of celebrity endorsement compensation for this message. Now go out and buy some of this stuff!!!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Now that I'm done with vacation for a while, my tendinitis is completely gone. I would eye my arm suspiciously, but I'm just glad to be knitting again. We're leaving for Vermont in a week, so I figure I have about a week of viable knitting time before my tendinitis kicks in so I can't knit on another six-hour car trip.

Anyway, since I knocked off about eight Momogus Knits samples, I thought I would treat myself to a knitting project that was not company-related. So I pulled out the Spring Garden shawl (the brown blobby thing). It's from the Spring Knitter's Magazine and it has beads in it. The beads are placed with a crochet hook, which was so much fun that it spurred me on through the rest of the (not really inspiring) pattern to get to the bead rows. Anyway, I picked it up, knit a few rows, saw that I had made a mistake a few rows back, and decided to abandon the whole thing. Then I gleefully cast on for a new Momogus Knits sample. Those are the two backs of two baby sweaters - the pink and the beginning of the blue. SO WEIRD.

I'm sorry I have such uninspiring knitting to show you. The Fall Interweave Knits came and there is a cardigan knit in Felted Tweed that I would love to make, so someday (like when the temperature drops below 95 degrees) perhaps I will cast it on and wow you with my fancy-pants knitting. In the meantime, not so much.

The Phillies traded for starting pitcher Kyle Lohse the other day, and he got injured in the FIRST INNING he pitched. Wha??? The Phillies always have some hard luck during their seasons, but this season has been ridiculous: Myers, Gordon, Madson, Garcia, Werth, Howard, Utley, Lieber, Victorino, Bourn, Barrajas, Lohse. Ouch. And yet, they are still in second place...