Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twas the week before Christmas...

... and all through the town,
The traffic was light, it was safe to drive now.
The students were home, nestled fast in their beds.
Their parents could worry about parties instead [of us].

Though shopping was stressful, and work hard to manage,
It was always a given that it would soon all be finished.

And as offices closed down, and gifts were all fine,
A deep sigh was heard...I'll have the Cabernet.

Merry Christmas to all. If you celebrate the Christ part, go with that. If you celebrate the federal holiday, excellent. Otherwise, it is simply the appropriate greeting of my people.

Take it in that spirit. See you all on the flip, MAYBE with the long promised knitting pictures. (I forgot and wrapped the pieces before I photographed them.)

Sigh. Dumb ass.

P.S. This is a hard closing. My one good friend, who I have known for nearly 20 years here, is retiring, effective 12/31, but actually at COB today. It will make my job exponentially more difficult. But I'm delighted for her. Every night will now be Friday, and every tomorrow, Saturday, for her.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ignorance is bliss.

... last year I was bemoaning the fact that the knitting elves had deserted me.

This year the knitting elves actually made their appearance early and have disapparated [sic: Harry Potter]. Do I have photos? Nope. I was feeling so sanguine about no more Christmas knitting, that I woke up one morning this week and suddenly realized that it was about a week before Christmas, and "ulp" I didn't have gifts that I needed to actually purchase. I had not ONE Christmas decoration scattered around. I still had shorts in my drawers, and my woolies in cardboard boxes piled up in the spare bedroom... (and it's cold here in the 20s and 30s).

Unfortunately, I have to physically drag my sorry butt to stores tonight (in addition to some weekly grocery and wine (must. get. wine.) shopping) because tomorrow we have this arriving....

The National Weather Service has forecast that University Park will receive between 3 and 5 inches of snow during the day on Saturday, Dec. 19. As a result, the Office of Physical Plant (OPP) has declared a midnight clear for Saturday night. This means that there is no parking in any surface parking from midnight to 7 a.m., with some exceptions.

The good news is that most of the students will be gone for break. The bad news is that those of us who waited for them to clear out will be SOL.

And in an installment of "What Was He Thinking?"-- I'm trying to figure out how this idiot thought he would never get found out.....He is one of the most recognizable people on the planet. Am I surprised that he is a horn dog? No. But how arrogant can you be to think that it would remain a "secret" forever? I hope his soon-to-be-ex wife takes him to the cleaners.

Still working on the sister-in-law ornament to be mailed Monday.....what was I thinking????

Hopefully, photos Monday. Snow makes for lovely photography.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Too good to pass up...

I know, that no one really cares what goes on here. Seriously, we're just a pimple on the butt of an elephant.

But sometimes, the bizarre just has to be shared:

Crow Wars

OK, the crows are a nuisance. And if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, Hitchcock's The Birds seems tame by comparison (ask me how I know this), but hearing and seeing the pyrotechnic flashes on cold winter nights, is weird. But heck...we can't shoot 'em. That would upset the eco-system, wouldn't it? Never mind MY eco-system. I also really like how they are lighting the area of the campus where they WANT them to go. How is that a sustainable use of energy?

Sigh. I couldn't make this up in a million years.

P.S. Read the comments...

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Slight of Hand

This little bit of news hardly made a ripple:

State College & Johnstown Among The Safest Places To Live

You will notice that State College is #1 on this list. If you look at the crimes that were considered:
murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft, it's no wonder. No public urination, no drunk and disorderly, no DUI, no disturbing the peace and throwing items off of balconies, or jumping/falling from said balconies. Without those there would be nothing for the police to do here. So there you have it. As long as you stay away from drunk men in need of facilities, you're golden (no pun intended).

This while the town council is trying to figure out how to pass an ordinance that will make the hosts of parties responsible for damage their "guests" might do. The ACLU seems to think this is unconstitutional because it would inhibit .... are you ready for this ..... religious or political meetings. Those wild and crazy Baptists, I'm sure they're staggering down local streets after prayer meetings.....who knew?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sometimes it's good, sometimes not so much.

Thanksgiving is usually a pretty low key holiday around these here parts. It was this year too...for the most part.

We visited my in-laws. Including my 90 year old, 8 weeks post hip-replacement MIL. How's she doing? Well, if dragging her quad cane behind her, like a bad puppy is any indication, pretty damn well. Around the house, other than getting out of bed in the morning, she really doesn't need it at all. She will use convenient furniture to support her if necessary, but she cruises around pretty effortlessly, albeit slowly. She carries the cane out with her, but it almost seems like a security blanket. I, personally, wouldn't care if she carried Gandolf's staff, if it helped.

If any of you watched Extreme Makeover Home Edition on November 29th, you saw my sister-in-law's employer in action. They were the contractor that built the home. She did all the behind the scenes stuff with the producers. I don't know much about it because we were watching the Steelers lose yet again.

The holiday downside was the unwelcome news that a relative, to which my DH was particularly close - a year younger no less, has apparently (I say apparently because we don't have all the details yet) been diagnosed with a vicious cancer. If it is what we've been told, the outlook is grim. It is particularly heartbreaking.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's me...I'm back.

Last week I was in Denver, CO for a conference - a BIG conference. Truthfully, I wasn't delighted to go. I had issues at home that needed to be resolved and managed, and the timing sucked. Well, I'm now glad I went.

The home "issues" while they didn't sort themselves out, at least remained manageable, and I got some "away" time I didn't realize I needed so badly.

The week prior to my trip Denver got FEET of snow. The week I was there the temps were in the high 60s and low 70s without a flake in sight. To say it was bizarre, doesn't quite describe it.

The conference was in the Colorado Conference Center. The upper level is an enormous atrium with stunning views of the Rockies--when they were not fog shrouded.

Outside the Convention Center the designers added a bit of whimsey. See the big BLUE bear peering in the windows?

Seems perfect for Denver. The Denverites I met were all very nice, and friendly! Even, are you sitting down?, the bus drivers. (I'm from Pittsburgh, and the natives are wonderful friendly there, UNLESS they are bus drivers. At least that's my experience....Maybe it has to do with passengers like me who leave their clog in the middle of the street while boarding a bus.....Hummmmm.)

On Wednesday night, I took a bus to The Lamb Shoppe. See this is how I know about bus drivers. I got some info from the hotel concierge about where to actually get a bus. Not only did this gentleman give me information, he walked outside the hotel with me to point me in the correct direction! When I got on the bus, it was dark (Standard Time), and I had no idea where I needed to get off, other than between Madison and Maple. I told the bus driver that I needed to get off at that stop (I knew the bus stop was near the shop because I called them), and would he alert me? He said "Sure!". Well, after about 15 minutes I got antsy, and we were in a VERY residential neighborhood, so I stood up to get a better look. He saw me and said, don't worry, it's another two stops away. He then told me where and when to get the bus back to downtown. When I told him I was going to a yarn store he said, "that's a first"..."it's usually BEAD stores!"

Anyway, another blogger/knitter once described the indecision of a knitter as "monkey mind". Well, I'm the original monkey. It used to happen in bead stores, I'd have a "plan" of sorts....("I'm going to buy Delicas.") Then as soon as I'm surrounded by gorgeous beads, well, forget it. I can't even remember I had a plan to begin with. That's exactly what happened in the Lamb Shoppe. The walls were just loaded with gorgeous yarns....seriously! Yarns that I've only read about. And here I was....with no room in my carry-on. In addition, there was a delightfully rowdy stitch and bitch group meeting up front. A table learning how to crochet, and another table of beginning knitters designing their own mittens...... Action packed doesn't quite describe it. For someone who, for the most part, is a solitary knitter, this was like an oasis.

So I wandered around for about 30 minutes, I bought some cotton sock yarn for my cotton loving mother, some Malabrigo, and a Skacel Zauerbal sock yarn, and herein lies a story.

A colleague of mine, who will soon be retiring (snif), recently took an extended vacation. She had seen a moebius shawl at one of our local arts festivals and was immediately charmed by the concept. In my "go big, or go home" approach to most things I said. I can show you how to knit a moebius. She is barely a beginning knitter by the way..... She bought needles, lovely Lamb's Pride Lanaloft, and I helped her cast on.... At her vacation destination, her knitting attracted the attention of other knitters one of whom introduced her to a skein of Zauerbal. Yet again, she was charmed and tried to describe it to me when she got back. I had never seen the yarn. However, lo and behold, there was Zauerbal, right on the Lamb Shoppe shelf! So I bought one for her as a souvenir from Denver.

Anyway, here is a [bad] photo, of the Malabrigo worsted (Ginger Carrot--has it dawned on anyone yet that I buy yarns because I like the color names?), and the Zauerbal.

I am using the Malabrigo to knit another pair of Fetching mitts. This time for me. They will "match" nothing...but I don't care. Nyah, nyah. I knit an entire pair of mitts while I was in Denver. They were that fast...and travel makes for lots of knitting time. (Not necessarily in the air, however.)

These are for my sister this is a new type of Araucania yarn. Loved it!!

I will definitely make the palms deeper (longer?) for me though.

There's more, but it's late here, and I do want to go home eventually.........

When I began this post it was Veterans Day, and I was going to tell everyone to kiss an available service person to thank them. Even though it isn't Veterans Day, I'm thinking this might be a good idea anyway.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

All's well that ends well, eh?

Not so fast sister.....

As we continue our saga (I had to take a time out for proposal evaluations and re-evaluation, and re-evaluations....etc. work re-entry is a bitch)you may remember that hubby and I decided to extend our vaca one extra day because we rolled craps on the weather. It was supposed to be a hiking vacation, and we had not done one step of actual trail hiking in in 6 full days. Fortunately, we usually schedule an extra day of vacation after our planned trip, and we used that to stay over.

We did finally get to walk in the woods. was lovely.

This is Jones Mill Run. As I said in a previous post, PA woods are lousy with these little runs.

Here's a little artsey fartsey shot of the run. Because of the six days of unrelenting rain, there was no shortage of water.

The difference with this particular run is that this is what you see at the head. Yup, it's that pretty.

Here's Dan'l Boone on the rocks next to the dam.

Anyway, the next day we headed back to reality. What's the one thing you don't want to hear when you walk in the door? Let me tell's hubby going into the half bath off the kitchen and saying "Uh oh!". Trust me, you don't want to hear "Uh oh" about anything after you've been gone over a week. (Last year the "uh oh" was because his car battery was dead and parked closest to the back door, and we had to unload the car from many more yards away.)

In this case, the "uh oh" referred to the fact that he was standing in stockinged feet on a wet bathmat. When I looked in the door he was staring up at the ceiling, which was marked with brown water marks and water droplets. Good gravy, what now!???

Apparently, something was leaking in our upstairs bath, though we couldn't find it, and had run down, into the walls, and out the exhaust vent (for the most part). Turns out, a washer blew, on the water line under the upstairs sink, and we had a pretty good drip going on. The good news was that it had probably just happened in the prior day or so. The bad news is that we still have to repaint the downstairs that it has had a week to dry. The fun just never ends.

I leave you with a photo of Ishbel (I wish I knew the origin of that name.) I finally finished it...still with the tinking. I do love it though, and am considering wearing it in Denver, where I'll have to travel (under duress) next week. Only I would get sent to Denver where they are currently getting FEET of snow. Why couldn't the damn conference be in Tampa? Or New Orleans? Or Charlotte? Sheesh!!

Ishbel (blocking).
1 skein Handmaiden Cashbah (some left over)no colorway on ball band - Loopy Ewe Sock Club skein.

#6 circular needles (48 inches)

Wingspan 48", depth 19"

There is also a shawl size. I'm going to wear this like a scarf. (Doesn't point to my worst ass(et) that way.

I would definite knit this again, and am thinking about taking version #2 as my plane knitting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

So how the heck have I been .....

... some of you may have noticed that we here in Central PA had a "bit" of snow last week. If you watched the Weather Channel, you were led to believe that the most pressing problem was that PSU banned tailgating around the stadium and it was homecoming weekend. (The grassy areas were muddy, and there aren't enough paved areas to allow the huge RV's to set up their tailgates.) Never mind that there were folks who were without electricity from Thursday evening until Saturday evening (in some cases). My boss told me he came to work on Friday just so he could have electricity. I mention TWC because that's how we found out how nasty it really got. You see we were supposed to be hiking in the Laurel Highlands. I say supposed to be, because we really didn't get to hike.

I'm no shrinking violet. I've hiked in rain, I've hiked in cold, but on Wednesday afternoon, when I went outside to decide whether to wear a down vest, and realized that it was not just cold, but raining and sleeting, I gave up.

Cold AND rainy, means I'm not going anywhere. Add heavy duty fog to the mix, and well, you get the drift.

We heard about the snow in Centre County when I got a PSU text message on Friday morning informing me that classes were running on time, but that the snow was continuing to fall. Huh? Snow?

A look out the deck doors showed me unrelenting rain and fog, but snow? PSU began an emergency text messaging program not long after the VA Tech tragedy. They text message emergency announcements from water line breaks to panels blowing off the scoreboards and closing roads, to class delays.

An odd manifestation of the system is that my phone interprets the P in PSU as

Poetic, no?

So after getting the message I turned on TWC and by golly, one of the weather weenies was in a parka standing in a driving snow storm in front of the stadium. He was telling us that the University had prohibited parking in the grassy lots, and what were the homecoming tailgaters to do? It was surreal. Especially since here I was at a ski resort in the "mountains" and THERE WAS NO SNOW! (Not that I wanted any, mind you.)

So here's what I did instead....

Meet Ishbel and Ishbel meet Handmaiden Cashbah, no idea what colorway. It was the first yarn in the 2009 Loopy Ewe Sock club. It is so lovely...the color is no where near as lovely as it is in person, that I couldn't bare to put it on my stinky feet. Ishbel is a lovely pattern. Lovely, if you're smart enough to pay attention. I, apparently, am not nearly smart enough and have spent about 20% of my time tinking. First in the stockinette portion of the program I somehow added an extra stitch on one side and pulled it out 3 or 4 times, until I figured it out. Then, I can't seem to "read" the lace pattern, and make silly errors, on a regular basis, that I can only fix by tinking. The one thing I can tell you, is that if you have the time to put into it, it is a fast knit. I really should have been concentrating on my Christmas knitting, however, I have been itching to start this forever! I blew through the first three charts and stockinette in no time, and since I've been home, have knit two (count'em 2) rows. This job just really cuts into my knitting time.

So we missed the catastrophic snow storm. Here's what I saw on Sunday morning.

Sad part is that on the way down, there were still a lot of green trees. With all the "weather", it seems that many trees dropped their leaves without ever getting a chance to turn. The pelting rain, and heavy snow, just pulled leaves right off the trees (and in the case of Centre County knocked large branches down all over the place). We ended up extending our stay by one day, because, wouldn't you know....Monday, the day we originally planned to leave dawned bright and sunny -- cool, but dry and bright. The past two days it has been in the 60's.

Timing is everything.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The change of seasons.........

A treat for the senses...... OK, just kidding, it's been a long week already.

First the FOs.

#1 Girasole

Soaked, blocked, and with a "real" photo shoot. These photos were taken at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Home of the PSU Nittany Lion baseball team, and the State College Spikes (short season, low "A", of the Pittsburgh Pirates, though it's hard to tell the difference from the big Pirates at this point-Sigh). "Fear the Deer" - I wish I were kidding. You can see Mt. Nittany in the background. We held a conference, which should get a post all its own, at the ball park (they rent out their facilities out of season), and I got the opportunity to take a few photos.

Updated Stats:
Pattern: Girasole
Yarn: Dream in Color Starry, Lipstick Lava
3 FULL skeins, fingering weight
Needle: #6, Options, 60 inch (though shorter would have been OK too), switched to Denise, when the join pulled out of my Options (which Knit Picks replaced pronto)

Unblocked I got 46 inches, blocked I got 58 inches. I am so very glad I did the extra repeat on chart G. But the stress was awful!

The lace also opened up like magic. I'm delighted with this piece, and wore it a bit in the morning yesterday, over my leather blazer, because we had "breakfast" on the open concourse in 50 degree weather. Gotta be a hearty soul to work for PSU. This was an EASY knit....really. I only had one misstep and it was right at the beginning. If you want to try your hand at lace, this is a nice, deceptively difficult looking, but easy-to-knit piece. As a process knitter, this is right up my alley. I am definitely planning another (or two) in worsted weight for my mother-in-law and mother.

#2 Wrap Me Up

This came about, not because I loved the pattern so much, but because it offered me the opportunity to knit with a local group. The local knitting guild meets Thursdays and that is generally not a great night for me. (OK, I'll fess up, DH and I, spend Thursday nights, shoveling out the hovel so we do not have to do much on the weekends. I really like this system.) This knitting "class" met Tuesdays, and that suits me fine. So I thought what the heck...the first class Cynthia (LYS owner extraordinaire)told us she planned for us to have this piece finished by the last Tuesday in November. By sheer dumb luck, it turns out that we'll be finished by the last Tuesday in October, when we'll get together for an ice cream celebration and FO shoot. Because of the Steelers, and the Super Bowl (during the game I couldn't stop knitting I was so excited), I got way ahead, and finished last week.

So here in a remarkably boring photo is Wrap Me Up, a la Cindy:

Notice the rapidly fading patio planters in the background. Those 40 degree nights are not making them happy.

So the details:

Pattern: Wrap Me Up
Yarn: Noro Kuyreon, 229 & 40, # skeins unknown.....I think I bought one or two more than was recommended and ended up with one left over (I bought three more and will eventually knit one of the Jared Flood's Noro striped scarves.) Lambs Pride worsted, Lotus Pink for trim (1+ skein - I had extra from other projects). The last thing you have to worry about in this pattern are dye lots.
Needle: #7, Options circ, various lengths.
MODS: Lots more beads. When I caught on to what the designer was doing, I put beads in most of the trim color areas. Unfortunately, I didn't catch on until one end of the wrap was more or less finished, so the beading is a little lopsided, but only I would think that. I also strung the beads first and used a bead knitting technique that "popped" the beads to the front of the piece. I didn't apply I-cord in all the areas recommended and DID NOT apply the little "piggy tails" (little unattached lengths of I-cord). Here is my largest mod:

Rather than fussing around with the two-toned "dragon tooth" edging, I bound off with I-cord. This is a five stitch I-cord using a #9 needle (two sizes larger). I'm lots happier with how this looks. I tried it several ways, but I ended up picking up the bajillion stitches along the edge, and then using the I-cord bind off. It made for a neater edge than applying I-cord directly.

The dimensions are "similar" to the pattern, but that isn't any more important than dye lot, it is plenty long. I soaked it in hair conditioner, and spun it for about 5 minutes, in a net bag in my washer. It didn't take very long to dry with much of the water out. Then I applied the I-cord and the edging.

This is one of my favorite blocks...I don't know why....

This is the basketweave block, and I had no idea how this would look until it was finished. I liked the surprise.

That is one of the fun things about this. You don't know, exactly, what you're getting until you're done. This is another process piece.

Because I was out of the office for the first two days this week, I need to get caught up. I expect that there will be radio silence for awhile, but I'll be back, with new projects....Christmas is coming and I've already started some fingerless first. Yes, I was a fingerless mitt virgin.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Answer to the riddle....

So what does any self-respecting knitter do when he/she thinks they are running out of yarn?

Why.... Knit FASTER of course. Why do I do this? I ask you! I had about 30 of the damnable points to finish, and vacillated between thinking I had plenty, just enough, and resignation that I would have to purchase a whole new skein, just to finish a couple edging points.

I had planned to finish knitting on a day trip we were taking to a not quite local festival, but the weather was so miserable (anyone who watched PSU v Iowa on Saturday night saw the rain), we decided not to go. The canceled trip also canceled my knitting mojo, and I spent the 2nd half of the game napping. As it turns out, both decisions were excellent choices. (We've been selling our [40 yard line] football tickets for the past few years. Long story short, the changes in the atmosphere of the stadium, and the poor early season scheduling, make it so not worth the effort to go, even for a local. I know lots of folks who feel the same way, weird, no?)

Anyway, I finally finished yesterday morning and THIS is what I had left .....

Ta Da!! That's all folks. Knitting is not for the faint of heart, that's for sure.

Here's the finished product. No blocking yet. I have to pin it to the living room floor in order to block, and need to choose a day when DH traffic is light. (And when I have the time to pin 200+ points.)

Pattern: Girasole
Yarn: Dream in Color Starry, Lipstick Lava (3 FULL skeins)
Needle: #6, Options, 60 inch (though shorter would have been OK too), switched to Denise, when the join pulled out of my Options (which Knit Picks replaced pronto)

This is a 46 inch diameter, unblocked, and I'm hoping I'll get about 52+ inches total with an aggressive blocking. There is one extra repeat in the last chart.

Here is a better color representation.

I actually loved knitting this, but it took me a long time, not being project monogamous and all. I'd like to do a blankie for my MIL and mother maybe using Paton's SWS. I'm tempted to start the blankie for my MIL for her birthday in December...but I'm starting my Christmas knitting now and I'm not sure I'll have time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quickie update ....

MIL update: Though surgery was successful, rehab has been slower than we had hoped. Mostly that it took a long time for the anesthesia to clear and my poor MIL kept falling asleep during her sessions. Time is a great healer though, and she is now feeling well enough to want to "get up and move" on her own. She'll be hobbling around, but hobbling independently. Needs to get her tiny appetite back though. As baffled Daughter #1 told me, "I can't understand it. I've never been not hungry in my life". My father-in-law, at home, is being nurtured by my delightful sisters-in-law with ongoing deliveries of delicious dainties and uninterrupted TV watching. However, we all suspect that he is reveling in his preferred diet of Raman noodles and frozen burritos. Daughter #1 says she sees the light at the end of the tunnel....she's also hoping it isn't a train.

News from Kitty Camp: Dementia and Velcro (aliases that only I call them, but are much more descriptive of their personalities), are "surviving", and the kitty counselor (read: sitter) has even had a few Dementia sightings. Dementia barely tolerates most people, and LOVES my sister, so spends most of her time hiding when my sister is at work. The fact that she has appeared to a perfect stranger (albeit one bearing food and treats) is a good sign. It's kind of like a visitation from the Virgin. (Step back, because I'm probably going to be a black mark when the lightning hits!)

Here they are ready to "help" with the remodel:

Dementia is on the top...

Meanwhile I have a riddle:

What do you do, when you think you may be running out of yarn ..... (this applies to any project, but this is the Girasole...I'm not pulling it out! NOT!)

Answer Monday...maybe with photos.

P.S. Thanks for the offer of the adult beverage....I'm liking nice cabs at the moment.

P.P.S. A "just shut up" (for Just Shut Up Thursday) to Barak. Buddy, 45 interviews in 9 months? (To compare: Bush (6) Clinton (7), or the reverse, in the same time frame) 1000+ "I" references in 41 speeches? You are so played out.....

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm going straight to heaven.

No, really, I'm not "passing go", not stopping to "collect $200", just straight to heaven.

1) I accompanied my mother to a Red Hat charity luncheon over the weekend. You know the "Red Hats", they're women over 50 who wear purple with red hats (if you don't know-Google is your friend). The things you find out about your mother when she's with her friends...I tell you. First, they think she's a hoot! They have no idea that my sister and I occasionally discuss where we'd hide the body. Second, she ALWAYS "forgets" her red hat. She has, at least, half a dozen, but apparently never wears any because she doesn't want to mess her hair. It was educational in so many ways.

Because she is on a fixed income and we weren't there for her recent birthday, hubby and I wanted to pay for the tickets, the majority of which goes to Ruth's Place, an agency for homeless women, a fine, but tiny charity. I knew there would be a brawl if I tried to give her money outright. So I left the cash, with a note, in an envelope on the dresser in the bedroom where we stayed. Sure enough, first thing this morning, I got an angry phone call asking why we did such a terrible thing. Ummm...maybe because we're working, we like to give to worthy causes, and treating ones family is hardly a hardship. Sheesh....Mom, just say thanks!! 'K? I have now fielded no less then 3 phone calls in 30 minutes about this, while I'm trying to work out a presentation with a colleague that we have to deliver on Friday. (See what I mean about hiding the body?)

I don't usually shill for charities, but if the spirit moves you Ruth's Place (that's Ruth from the bible by the way), is in great need. And while we're on the subject, there is also The House Of Care a tiny non-profit here in State College. They take care of individuals at the end of their lives and run on a shoestring. My director is the president of the board this year, and not only does he run the operations and finances, he mows the lawn. That's how small this operation is. I have a soft spot for those people who see a need and just do something. They don't have the weight of grants or the United Way, or whatever behind them. They just do SOEMTHING. OK, those are my PSAs for the month. Back to regular programming....

Anyway, the Red Hats raffled off donated gift baskets, had a speaker (who was too long, though interesting), and singing nuns....yes, the singing nuns from the Sisters of Mercy. The only one wearing a habit, also wore blue satin bloomers trimmed in lace under her habit. (Yea, ask how we all saw the nun's bloomers.) One of the other sisters looked like she was wearing hand knit socks....but, I never got a chance to ask her.

2) I would appreciate good thoughts, prayers, burning sage, etc. whatever is your habit (no nun pun intended) for this lady...My MIL fell and broke her hip (what else?) over the weekend. As of today, surgery was successful, we are hoping that the post surgical recovery is uneventful, and have our collective fingers crossed for successful rehab. To say the family is a tad worried, considering her age, doesn't quite describe it. Broken hips are very dangerous at this stage of life, and can really change the dynamic of how an elderly person lives. My sister, Nurse Rachet, however, was quite optimistic. She calls my MIL feisty, and if anyone can bounce back she can. I'm hoping she is right.

3) While fielding angry mother phone calls, updates on my MIL (because the sons never get those calls do they?), I'm getting worried emails from my sister who is leaving for vacation, and has a sitter watching her cats. She is worried about her cats. Shall I retype that? She is worried that her cats will be lonely. I told her to worry that they'll poop in her shoes from pique! One will spend the entire time hiding, the other will hardly know she's gone. I have also been given the task of not putting them in a shelter "if something should happen". I told her I'd sell them to a circus. Dementia would make a great lion (maybe not tame-able), and Velcro has a future as a clown. No problem. can open those pearly gates now!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


As you may guess from many postings, we are news junkies in our house. And no we don't limit ourselves to Fox, though it is pretty good one stop shopping, because it is usually sourced and I can figure out the pedigree, and thus the accuracy, of any particular story. But last evening I was doing some chores to keep the authorities from declaring our place a Superfund site, TV was on I'm not sure what channel, and I heard this....[paraphrase]....

The person speaking was a Democratic strategist, I didn't get her name, but she was addressing the ever decreasing support that HR3200 is getting from "unaffiliated" voters. (That would be those of us who are not registered to a party or committed to an me.) She was postulating that Obama has to "TELL" us what is right and good with his policy so we understand that we should support this bill.

I have news...we are "unaffiliated" (i.e., independent) BECAUSE WE EITHER DON'T WANT OR NEED TO BE TOLD what to do or think. We have enough gray matter to figure it out for ourselves. And in some cases we will agree and in some cases we will not, and we, as a group do not move in lock-step and THAT'S WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN INDEPENDENT VOTER. The idea lives or dies on its own merits. When these (define these however you wish) people start to truly understand this, well, the landscape will change. I'm not holding my breath. Until then, I am apparently, someone who should be TOLD what to think. (Makes me giggle just thinking about it.)

Speaking of independent, here is Wrap Me Up, pre-blocking:

Pretty interesting no? I am looking to "wrap up", pun intended, a project or two here in the very near future. I do not just cast on at a whim. I keep a couple or three things burbling, but never more than three, and that's counting socks. At the moment, I have the WMU, Girasole, and Oceania Cardigan, which is giving me the vapors. I'm at the end of the trail on WMU, and hope to finish Girasole in the next three weeks. As soon as I finish sleeve one, I am suspending operations on the cardigan until Girasole is finished.

But I digress, if you look at the pattern page for Wrap Me Up (and as an aside, does that model look pissy or what? I'm wondering if she thinks that's sexy-pouty or something--weird), you'll see that it has a "dragon tooth" edging on one side. (You will also see some other details that I refrained from including, but I'll deal with those when I finish.) I'm not that partial to that edging, so I'm thinking a nice applied I-cord might be better. I've also just noticed that the edging has two colors. One is the contrast color, screaming pink in my case, and the other is the main color. I think this piece has enough going on without adding to the circus with the edging, don't you? And as I sit here and contemplate my navel, instead of evaluating worksheets, like I should be, it occurs to me that I will also not have to pick up a bajillion stitches on that edge if I choose to do applied I-cord. unexpected payoff.

So the wrap is soaked, spun in the washer, and blocked and dried, now I'm hoping to get the edging worked by the next knitting group. Then I'll be picking Cynthia's brain about the cardigan...I think I have fitting issues. I'm so not proud....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I started this post as a "some of the things I think post", but it is so mis-mashed that I had to start again.

RIP Teddy: Karma is a harsh mistress. A lesson to be observed.

The number of rude people in the world is getting larger
just in the past three days I've been a party to:

1) A person who parks his/her (though I'm pretty sure it is a her) Jeep Cherokee over the lines in the parking space, so no one can park next to her. She is backing in, which is entitle to a rant all it's own, and can't seem to get between the lines. Now that the students are back, parking is at a premium. Once, could be a mistake, but multiple times, honey, you need parking lessons. I was so ticked I left a note on her car.

2) People who park huge vehicles in spaces that are not meant for them, and make other spaces inaccessible. (See premium parking sentence above.) I could explain this further, but, let's just say that it is easier for THEM to BACK into a middle space, rather than take the time to park on an end so others can park next to them. It is pure selfishness.

3) The lady in Wal Mart who apparently thought the photo kiosk was her own private photo editing lab. She was scanning OLD photos, and then EDITING them one at a time, over and over--cropping, undoing, lightening, undoing, rinse and repeat. She was still there over 40 minutes later, when I checked back and finally left, not getting my stinky ONE 4x6 print made. She had a line behind her, knew it and was completely unconcerned. I almost said something, but was too pissed. I would have wanted to burn her ears in a "nice" way, but wasn't in a frame of mind to do that.

The number of good people is getting smaller
. Read this. Notice the part about his wife having twins in December. I didn't know him, but I knew his father. Sigh.

Knitting has been happening. Photos have not.

I am two rows away from the last chart (G) on Giriasole. Because it is a big circular blob, on a 60 inch circ. Not much to see, but I'll give it a photo shoot anyway over the weekend. Every time I pick it up I wonder about EZ and her claiming that all you need is a 24 inch circular needle. Stitches would be committing suicide at an alarming rate if I tried to keep this on a 24 inch circ.

Anatomy of an obsession:

You're knitting away on Girasole right before leaving for the office. You find that you are missing a stitch. Now this is a lace pattern. Did I drop it? Did I miss a YO? No time to figure it out.....But you now spend the better part of the morning wondering if you should "run" home at lunchtime to set this right. That night you have your Wrap Me Up knitting group, and toy with the idea that you should take Girasole instead to figure out the problem. You don't, too weird, but you leave early (!) to study Girasole. Upon careful scrutiny you find that you missed a YO, pick it up, and ahhhhhh....the world can revolve again.

Wrap Me Up is on the home stretch. Some applied I-cord, not where the designer suggests, and a hard blocking (with hair conditioner, this is Noro after all), then the edging, also not what the designer suggests, and voila (as one of our grad students says in her emails, she's French, gorgeous, and very sweet--damn you can't even dislike her for being gorgeous...), it will be done. I'll blog all the changes I made, some that the LYS owner suggested to the group, and some that I'd make if I knit this again. All-in-all if you want to knit a bunch of patterns, overcome a fear of picking up stitches, and just never be bored, this is the pattern for you.

My Oceania sweater, I'm still on first sleeve island. It is a weird pattern. The measurements are huge. But the sleeves were SHORT, like by 4 inches short for me. They are like bat wings in width. So all bets are off with this baby. I hope I'll at least be able to wear it to yoga.

None of these are documented on "The Place That Shall Not Be Named" though they probably should be.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Miss me?

Don't worry, I know you didn't. So'K. I was away for a much needed break. That away was from the office...oops, excuse me while I change my voice mail back to standard.....

Done. Being away means away from the internets too. Yeah, I checked in once in a while, but really, we didn't try and do too much.

We went here.

This is the Pittsburgh Steeler Training Camp at St. Vincent's College in Latrobe, PA. We were only there about an hour, and a thunderstorm came on fast.

You can see the darkening sky in the distance. They chased everyone (all 5,000 fans) off the field, and we made it to the "Steeler Store" tent, just as the sky opened up. Now conventional wisdom (from here at weather weenie central), is that a massive storm usually is fast moving and lasts around 20 minutes. In other words, stay protected for about 20 minutes and you should be fine. Well, more than an hour later, and we were still waiting for the pounding rain to stop. They were trying to close the tent. We didn't have any rain gear with us at all, so I had to buy two Steeler ponchos (you know those plastic bag thingies).

I ran to the basilica (St. Vincents is a Catholic college and a monastery) and DH walked the half mile to the car. By the time he drove back to pick me up, the rain had finally slowed to a drizzle. My hero.

We spent a few days at a music festival in the north central woods--and I'm not kidding about "in the woods". Tioga County is so remote, GPS couldn't get a fix on our location. You'll never find the place on Google maps and it's a black hole on the satellite map. Don't bother carrying your cell when you hike. It is of no use. But you also do not hear cell phones ringing all over the place either. Nice!

The concerts are in venues all over north-central PA and the Finger Lakes region of NY. Most of them in the Wellsboro/Mansfield area. And many of the venues are churches, and in a few cases the County courtroom. This makes the concerts intimate. You can be an arms length away from the tympani or the concertmaster. And the music is superb. And this is all done via local volunteers, and resources. It is truly pretty amazing.

After a weekend drinking wine and listening to fine music, we hiked in the "Grand Canyon".

Pine Creek, best trout fishing in the north east, was running higher than we've ever seen it. The rocks that you see in the foreground...well, there are more, but they are not completely covered. We usually sit on those rocks. In fact, people have been known to wade across the creek, and hike up the east side of the canyon (this view is from the west bank). The only problem is that you are then 12 miles away from your vehicle, if you parked on the west rim. It is a long way by road or trail from one rim to another. (Except directly across the creek.) No one was wading on Monday. As it is, the hike down on the west side of the canyon, is a rather rugged two miles, along narrow ledge-like trails, with a sharp drop to a run along one side. The trail was also unstable in spots, and slippery due to the recent heavy rains. It is plenty challenging when the trails are dry.

View of part of the trail on the way UP out of the canyon.

View of "run" on the drop side of the trail. I'm not sure, but I think it is "Little Four Mile Run".

This is one of those little falls that dot the runs all along their length.

And so we're back, and this is what we were greeted with yesterday.

Yup, rain. Again....sigh. At least we got something of a break from the exhausting political news.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I wasn't planning this but .....

It's "just shut up" Thursday, and I have a couple or three candidates:

1) Robert Gibbs the Press Secretary of the president:

Briefing reporters Tuesday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs suggested that the opposition is being organized by a small group seeking to create "manufactured anger."

"I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the AstroTurf nature of so-called grass-roots lobbying," Mr. Gibbs said.

Umm... Mr. Gibbs I believe those among us, not in a coma, recognize this for what it attempt to dismiss and ultimately chill First Amendment rights. Since every word you say is now saved-somewhere-FOREVER, you (and ultimately the administration) can't take it back...You definitely should just shut up- and maybe quit the job you are so ill suited for.

2) That US Senate embarrassment (though she has a lot of company) SENATOR Barbara Boxer: Boxer says she can tell that they’re fakes, because they’re too well dressed. How does she know that this is a problem? Because well-dressed people apparently told her to get the hell out of Florida in the Bush-Gore recount, too...[video]

So, if you want to be taken seriously by this administration and their lackeys, dump the tie, don a Save the Whales T-shirt.

Barb, please, do us all a favor and just shut up.

3) From white house new media Director Macon Phillips:

"There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care,'' W.H. blogger Macon Philips wrote. "These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to''

Ummm the only problem Mr. Phillips is that all this information will be permanently SAVED. There is no help for it.....You should just shut up about your snitch list, and go back to programming.

Does no one else see a pattern here?

ETA: It's not the real point of this article (based on the title), but read Mr. Caldwell's 5 Steps to improve our current health care system. Nearly genius. I, as a lone voice in the wilderness, believe there are problems in our system that should be addressed, however, HR3200, ain't gonna do it.

Monday, August 03, 2009

I'm back....

... but just for a bit.

The last two weeks of July were simply hair raising, or hair graying, as the case may be.

1) I was in the throes of finishing a six week long seminar with faculty at two of our eastern campuses. This seminar is very time intensive because the material is presented in an "online" format, but the seminar includes 3 face-to-face meetings. I am often asked by faculty at commonwealth locations if we couldn't just put the whole seminar "online". They just want to complete the assignments, and call it a day. However, every experience we've had with this course, tells us that the face-to-face meetings are irreplaceable, and every group tells me that they want MORE of them not fewer. It may surprise folks but it is rare for faculty to have the opportunity to just sit down in a non-threatening environment and talk about their work. And when they do...the floodgates open, and all kinds of revelations occur. I have yet to have a faculty member tell me that this kind of opportunity has not made them a better instructor. And isn't that what you want for your tens of thousands of dollars?

2) I was trying to organize for my "spring" cleaning. Yes, in July. Every July, an Amish friend brings a young relative or two, and they spend the day, washing, dusting, vacuuming, and all the things that we who work have no time to do on a weekly basis. It means tearing all the rooms apart, and then putting them back together when the washing, dusting and scrubbing are finished. When I drive them home for the day, it doesn't look clean at all, more like a Murphy's Oil Soap Tornado was through. I usually have most of the "mess" reorganized though by the end of the day. This year, however, nothing was "normal". They stayed longer than they originally planned. I obligingly stopped at a grocery store on the way home (which is about 15 miles out in the country), so M could shop a bit. Everything, of course, took longer than planned. I didn't get back to my house until 7:30. Yoi! And on my way back, a phone starts to ring, and lo and behold, it is M's cell phone. (Apparently, cell phones are allowed for business purposes.) Her basket overturned and the phone was left on the floor of the car. (She carries her lunch in a basket, just like Red Riding Hood.) So I spent the evening and following morning trying to get her phone back to her. And let me tell you, she got more calls that I do!!

3) Mid month, we spent at day at our local Art's Festival with our niece, nephew, and their new baby, our great nephew. He was just about 3 months old, and just starting to get the drift of smiling etc. What a cutie. I think he looks a lot like Sean his daddy.

4) It wasn't all work and no play, because one Saturday we went to a jazz performance. However, because I'm a dope, with too many balls in the air, I forgot to get tickets when they were available a block from where I work, so on the warmest Saturday so far (which really wasn't all that warm) I drove to Tallyrand Park in downtown Bellefonte to purchase tickets. (Did you ever see the original Pollyanna? It is a park like that.) I have never walked to the park during the day (mostly because I have no reason to be in Bellefonte during the day). But this day, I parked on the other side of a little bridge and walked across Spring Creek to the park. Here's what I saw on the bridge:

Yes, it's duck food in bubble gum machines.

Then there was this sight when you look over the railing of the bridge:

After a bit of research I figured out that those silvery things are fish...probably, trout. BIG trout. Fishing is prohibited in Tallyrand and now I'm wondering if the food is actually for the fish. They're big enough.

Now I'm trying to get all my outstanding stuff done before I take a much needed break before arrival weekend. (Someone stab me in the heart, please!!) But I'm blogging instead. I must be crazy.

Hopefully, I'll be able to update my knitting before I leave, which has been happening regularly, even though I had to miss my knitting group because of my "spring cleaning".

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The wisdom of Bezzie...

From the comments on yesterday's post:

Maybe the goldfish was actually an Al-tuna? Ok, yeah that was bad.

Ya' think? Well, not so fast.

Meet Al Tuna.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thank you for ....

...indulging me for the last loony posting. I guess I'm tired of worrying myself to death about the great Cap and Trade con, that will probably drive my elderly mother from her home, which we probably won't be able to sell because it's over 40 years old and not energy efficient, and we do not have the resources to have it either inspected or upgraded... of course, we'll probably be too sick with no viable options to even worry about it, and on and on. In comparison, the Sportbeat "issue" seemed almost "solvable". I'm incredibly cheery am I not?

But on to knitting. Here's were I am on the Wrap Me Up shawl:

This has turned out to be a fun piece. And even though I still don't really feel the Noro love, it looks pretty cool. I can't imagine actually wearing it, but they'll be setting the building temps lower in order to save money this winter (it's much warmer in here now in the summer), and I might need it. The other fun thing is that this piece lends itself to lots of ad libbing. Don't like a color, instruction, pattern? Do something else. It's all good.

I may as well knit ahead, 'cause I won't be getting to my group this month. My Amish friend is coming to help "spring clean" that day, and though we'll be long done, I'll be a wet rag by evening. Last year I drove her home, stopped and got fresh corn from a farmer, cooked and ate it standing up in my freshly cleaned, yet disarrayed kitchen. I was just too mentally and physically tired to do anything else. Blah!

Here are two progress pictures of Girasole. When I took the first, I had just reknit it to the point you see. This was right after the July 4th weekend.

I had not paid attention and ended up with THREE more stitches after the first chart. One then knits six stockinette rows, and when I started the next sequence, I was shocked to find I had extras. I pulled it out to before the stockinette rows and started over.

This is almost through the third chart. I'm doing much better reading the lace, so I can see the errors before I get too far. You didn't think I stopped screwing up did you? I just know how to fix them better.

In this photo you can see the bits of silver in the Dream In Color Starry.

It's a little blurry because I'm struggling with my macro feature. Must. Read. Manual.

Still working on the cardigan too. Pretty boring photo fodder though.

I'll leave you with two cell phone photos from the Altoona Curve game. The ball park is a very nice place to attend a game. You will notice the roller coaster, Leap The Dips, in the background. That is a vintage wooden coaster which is classified as a National Historic Landmark. When the amusement park is open the cars have GO CURVE on the side as they climb the hill facing the ball park. The first photo, is so typical of a minor (AA) league team. There are all kinds of games and prizes and the "kids" run the bases after the game and are greeted by the bizarre array of mascots, including, this year, a goldfish!! No idea how the goldfish relates to the Curve in particular, or Altoona in general. I just thought the last photo was interesting as the fireworks lit up the coaster. (Which had just been doused in water by the fire department to make sure it didn't get set aflame.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

When you wish....

....upon a star....yeah, no dreams comin' true here.

If you look through my postings, you'll probably notice that we here at Casa Black n' Gold are a little nuts for Pittsburgh sports. DH is a native, and once a 'Burgher, always a 'Burgher. I, though not a native, easily adopted this mindset. Though all of the teams wear black, for the most part, they are thought of as the "good guys" in a western. Back in the early 90's we left the Burgh, and thus left behind the local sports news. It was awful. No sports talk, no newspapers, nothin'. DH was devastated. Then a cable channel that catered to Burgh sports began. Mecca for displaced Pittsburgh fans. About 18 years ago a rinky dink sports talk show was produced by the original channel called Sportsbeat . As time wore on it turned into THE information conduit for all sports information, with an emphasis on Pittsburgh. The hosts changed over the years too, but primarily it was manned by Stan Savran and Guy Junker. Pittsburgh fans all over the country bought their sports tiers and packages just to be able to see Sportsbeat and get Steeler, Pirate, Pitt, Penguin,and even Penn State news. For us, I had to tape it every night for DH to watch. The station itself went through many modifications over the years, and lastly has morphed into a Fox Sports Affiliate. Sometime in the past 18 months, it was purchased by Liberty Media, who sometime in the past month decided that those five hours of Sportsbeat was too much locally produced regional programming - never mind that it was watched all over the country; never mind that the ratings didn't flag. They decided that broadcasting poker and the Top 32 Yo Yo Tricks was more cost effective. They had already, unceremoniously kicked Guy Junker off a few years ago. So after 18 years it was announced last week that Sportsbeat would be no more and last night was the final show.

OK, you're all thinkin' I've really gone round the bend. Why does this matter? Our country may be slowly imploding. We have nuts in other countries trying to figure out how to kill and maim our citizens. I have a friend who will soon be deployed (for the second time in two years) to Afghanistan. But all I can try and tell you is that it has something to do with the water/air/implanted microchip that you acquire living in Pittsburgh. There--it is a way of life. Where else can a gnome with a voice like a rusty gate be a beloved broadcaster. Where else will THOUSANDS of fans travel to sit in the hot sun and watch big men run around seemingly aimlessly. (And yes, we'll be there. I'll take pictures.) So this came as a blow. I didn't see the show, I taped it for my DH, but I had just gotten home from yoga, when Stan Savran (who is remaining with the station), did his final commentary, and I literally couldn't hold back my tears, and apparently neither could he. He said that he had to pre-tape his remarks because he was afraid he'd be too emotional.

Folks, I don't know this man from a cake of soap, but he has come into my home every night for 18 years, and shared a bit of what we still consider home.

Now, of course, I'm wondering how to find out about FCC licensing and how to complain that FSN isn't supporting the local community. (There is always some public comment period when a license is to be renewed.) It's not like there isn't enough evidence. I'm working up to ripping 'em a new one.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Finito #1

The Vanilla sock!!

Happy Birthday Mom....Basil (the bear) not included. I figured out that if I actually worked on the blasted thing I'd finally finish it.

Knit Picks Dancing, wool/cotton/nylon blend. It is rather thinnish and has quite a bit of give. They no longer have this yarn, but mom loves it, so I'll have to find a good sub. I'm thinking something with bamboo. Let me know if there are better options.
No idea what color. The way it knitted up reminds me of Sweet Tart candies. (Yes, I'm loony, why do you ask?)
Knit on two #1 circs.

Finito #2


Please, please, please, no mas!! Reverend King he is not! He was a sadly, self-destructed individual.

Finito #3

Finally, over the holiday, we got to one of the state parks we've been interested in for a long time. It is on the "endangered" parks list. PA, like so many other other states has a huge budget shortfall, and there are 20some odd state parks that may be closed due to the budget short fall. We have some glorious areas in PA, and it would be a shame!

This is Trough Creek State Park. It is over an hour south east of us. What I liked:

The Rainbow Falls. But I could have done without the felled tree down the middle.

The Falls stairs, which looked a heck of lot like Cirith Ungol for you Lord of the Rings geeks.

The Balanced Rock, a remnant from one of the ice ages. It is balanced precariously over Trough Creek. One of these days they expect it to tumble over the precipice. I hope the idiots who think it is the place to proclaim their love for each other with magic markers stop before it happens.

The cliff side view.

This is taken along one of the ridge trails. Only problem with this park is that most of the trails are up! Makes for tiring hiking. But the views are wonderful.

This is a suspension bridge. It is wonderfully swingy, and made me very nervous to cross. It felt like being in a ferris wheel.

What I didn't like were all the signs that reminded us that rattle snakes are protected, and there are lots of snakes in the park....Not a snake fan, alas, and I kept wondering who would protect me from snakes.......! Thank goodness I didn't meet any.