Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nobody asked me but ....

(with apologies to Bob Smizik)

I am just not a Noro fan. I joined a monthly knitting group yesterday. We're going to be working on Wrap Me Up for the better part of a year. (It is knit in blocks.) Of course, when one joins a "class" one purchases the materials at the host shop. I have no problem with this, however, since a self striping yarn was needed my choices were Noro's, Silk Garden, Kochoran, or Kureyon, or a discontinued (but lovely) Ella Rae. The Silk Garden and Kochoran put the project out of my price range, and though there was enough of the Ella Rae, the subdued colors made me think that I'd be sick of this project well before the year was out. I'm pretty tactile when I knit and Kureyon, as lovely as it is colorwise, is pretty rough. Please tell me it will soften up upon washing and blocking.....I know it's not Malabrigo...but just a wee bit softer. Anyone? I know I'm not good with progress photos, but I'll try and do better with this. Right now I'm working on the first block, a series of three mitered squares. Noro, of course, is just looking "loverly".

I've been trying to be "flexible" with this new administration, after all, they don't know where all the bathrooms are yet, but I find myself becoming horrified at the insensitivity. I'm beginning to get the feeling that the only thing that matters is what the "friends" think. (Please to define "friends" any way you wish (e.g., "friends who got you elected", "friends in the world community" (like Iran? eep!), "friends in congress", etc.). Bi-partisian, my big hairy butt (BHB).

Bruce the "Boss" is coming to town in May. It was just announced yesterday. I nearly died when I heard the price of the tickets. As most of the rest of the country, we're belt tightening: while no one is talking "layoffs" (higher ed is thought to be "recession proof"), we have a hiring freeze, it will probably be extended to faculty soon. Salaries have been frozen, so no cost of living increase. We're running programs on thinner and thinner shoestrings. But we're supposed to pay $175 for tickets, with probably a dose if his political ideology as a side dish. One hundred and seventy five clams for tickets in a recessive economy! Working man's band my BHB! Anyone want to bet he'll sell out? (As an aside, Bruce would have to pay me to go to his concert. Not my type of music.)

I'm losing my mind. Not too long ago I saw a blog post that described a knitting book that looked interesting to me. I can usually find the book even if I don't remember the title if I browse Knitpicks or Amazon. No such luck this time. I can't even remember why it attracted me. Have no idea what this means, but I'm annoyed with myself.

As with knitting projects I usually have multiple books going at one time. I have an audio of the Seduction of Water, which I'm enjoying immensely, and I picked up Twilight to see what all the fuss is about. And I have to say...I don't get the Twilight thing. When I read the Potter books, I "got it". It was clear why they appealed to people. This, I'm not getting. Maybe it's the vampire theme. I was never a fan of Rice's books either. I'll read the series, but other more interesting things will probably come and go in between.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Update and last!

Mother-in-law update. I spoke to her yesterday afternoon, and after an unexpected extra night's stay, she got home around 11:00am yesterday (Sunday) morning. I spoke to her around 4:00pm and with God as my witness, she sounded perkier, and more upbeat that I did. Remarkable for someone who spent 2 nights in a hospital. The one institution where getting what one usually needs most (rest) is nearly impossible. She was experiencing no discomfort, and was tickled by how amazed everyone on the staff she encountered couldn't believe her age. She is now considering getting those "skin plumping" creams to try and minimize some of her wrinkles. All righty then..... moving on.

Here is the headband I started, I don't know how many times, there were so many.

I like the way it looks....(though there are mistakes that are not obvious), but it is hard for me to wear.

I also learned a few interesting tidbits. DO NOT try and do stranding fair isle on DP needles. It is technically possible, of course, but it is a major PIA if the needles are just a little short. Stick with a circ and your life will be much happier.

It is hard for me to wear because I have to slide it over my head, and then up UNDER my hair. I have shorter hair these days and the size of the band pushes the hair up in back. I'm thinking the button and narrowing of Calorimetry is much better for me.

I also finished Morgan. Photo shoot to follow. My DH who is on thin ice, rejected it however, because he is "uncomfortable" with the varigated yarn I used. Sheesh. Men!

Friday, January 23, 2009

This is how I want to be....

On December 27th we celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday. She turned 90. Now I read a lot of postings and board messages about evil in-laws and how much trouble they cause etc. But I'm here to tell you, I won the in-law sweepstakes. My in-laws are golden-even, for the most part, the siblings and spouses. So here is a photo of dear Marcella, celebrating her 90th at a local watering hole. (Please note that she is surrounded by wine and champagne. I promise only one of those is hers.)

Doesn't she look great? And, though she says her memory isn't what it used to be (who's is?), she's sharp and connected.

Here she is checking out the pearl bracelet we had made to match the long strand of pearls around her neck. (We stumbled across that pearl strand a few years ago and gave it to her for Mother's Day. She wears it alot because there is no clasp.) Because she has difficulty manipulating clasps, we had our jeweler replace the traditional lobster claw with a magnetic clasp and add a guard chain. It is perfect.

Before we left the house she asked me if she should wear the pearls. "Oh yes, indeed", I said. "Definitely!"

Today this dear lady is having surgery - for breast cancer. Her younger sister died as a result of breast cancer over thirty years ago. As you can imagine we are all concerned about the effect of general anesthetic on a person of this age, and I'd appreciate positive thoughts and prayers, or whatever is your habit, for Marcella. She's kind of like a Timex. Takes a lickin' and keeps on ticking. But you can't have too many positive thoughts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No self-esteem?

Is it my imagination, or has the world gone stark raving mad? Doesn't ANYONE have any SELF-esteem?

If the Borg wanted to assimilate our planet, now would be the time....... The non-conformist part of me is getting the "creepin' eeps"....bad.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Building of New Nation

On this day, as the rest of the world cannonizes, coronates kisses the ass of swoons over a guy who won an election, I'd like to post something about a real grass roots nation. One that precedes and will outlast this and future presidents.

This was published nearly three years ago to the day. To those uninitiated with Pittsburgh and it's environs it might explain some of the hysteria that will be building over the next two weeks. While some of the names have changed, or retired, most of the context remains the same. The author is a Pittsburgh media figure, best known for his wacky on air commentary, and snarky sense of humor. A man after my own heart. It was written in the aftermath of a drag down, knock out fight to fund two new sports stadiums, with a third, a new hockey arena, on the horizon. (The new hockey arena is scheduled to open in 2010, after much drama!)

Nation Building
January 18, 2006
Scott Paulsen

Think about this the next time someone argues that a professional sports franchise is not important to a city's identity:

In the 1980's, as the steel mills and their supporting factories shut down from Homestead to Midland, Pittsburghers, faced for the first time in their lives with the specter of unemployment, were forced to pick up their families, leave their home towns and move to more profitable parts of the country. The steel workers were not ready for this. They had planned to stay in the ‘burgh their entire lives. It was home.
Everyone I know can tell the same story about how Dad, Uncle Bob or their brother-in-law packed a U-Haul and headed down to Tampa to build houses or up to Boston for an office job or out to California to star in pornographic videos.
All right.
Maybe that last one just happened in my family.

At this same time, during the early to mid-eighties, the Pittsburgh Steelers were at the peak of their popularity. Following the Super Bowl dynasty years, the power of the Steelers was strong. Every man, woman, boy and girl from parts of four states were Pittsburgh faithful, living and breathing day to day on the news of their favorite team. Then, as now, it seemed to be all anyone talked about.
Who do you think the Steelers will take in the draft this year?
Is Bradshaw done?
Can you believe they won't give Franco the money – what's he doing going to Seattle?

The last memories most unemployed steel workers had of their towns had a black and gold tinge. The good times remembered all seemed to revolve, somehow, around a football game. Sneaking away from your sister's wedding reception to go downstairs to the bar and watch the game against Earl Campbell and the Oilers - going to midnight mass, still half in the bag after Pittsburgh beat Oakland - you and your grandfather, both crying at the sight of The Chief, finally holding his Vince Lombardi Trophy.
And then, the mills closed.
Damn the mills.

One of the unseen benefits of the collapse of the value systems our families believed in – that the mill would look after you through thick and thin – was that now, decades later, there is not a town in America where a Pittsburgher cannot feel at home. Nearly every city in the United States has a designated “Black and Gold” establishment. From Bangor, Maine to Honolulu, Hawaii, and every town in between can be found an oasis of Iron City, chipped ham and yinzers. It's great to know that no matter what happened in the lives of our Steel City refugees, they never forgot the things that held us together as a city - families, food, and Steelers football.
It's what we call the Steeler Nation.

You see it every football season. And when the Steelers have a great year, as they have had this season, the power of the Steeler Nation rises to show itself stronger than ever. This week, as the Pittsburgh team of Roethlisberger, Polamalu, Bettis and Porter head to Denver, the fans of Greenwood, Lambert, Bleier and Blount, the generation who followed Lloyd, Thigpen, Woodson and Kirkland will be watching from Dallas to Chicago, from an Air Force base in Minot, North Dakota, to a tent stuck in the sand near Fallujah, Iraq.

I have received more email from displaced Pittsburgh Steelers fans this week than Christmas cards this holiday season.
They're everywhere.
We're everywhere.
We are the Steeler Nation.

And now, it's passing from one generation to the next. The children of displaced Pittsburghers, who have never lived in the Steel City, are growing up Steelers fans. When they come back to their parents' hometowns to visit the grandparents, they hope, above all, to be blessed enough to get to see the Steelers in person.
Heinz Field is their football Mecca.
And if a ticket isn't available, that's okay, too. There's nothing better than sitting in Grandpa's living room, just like Dad did, eating Grandma's cooking and watching the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Just like Dad did.

So, to you, Steeler Nation, I send best wishes and a fond wave of the Terrible Towel. To Tom, who emailed from Massachusetts to say how great it was to watch the Patriots lose and the Steelers win in one glorious weekend. To Michelle, from Milwaukee, who wrote to let me know it was she who hexed Mike Vanderjagt last Sunday by chanting “boogity, boogity, boogity” and giving him the “maloik”. To Jack, who will somehow pull himself away from the beach bar he tends in Hilo, Hawaii, to once again root for the black and gold in the middle of the night (his time), I say, thanks for giving power to the great Steeler Nation.

All around the NFL, the word is out that the Pittsburgh Steeler fans “travel well”, meaning they will fly or drive from Pittsburgh to anywhere the Steelers play, just to see their team. The one aspect about that situation the rest of the NFL fails to grasp is that, sometimes, the Steeler Nation does not have to travel. Sometimes, we're already there.
Yes, the short sighted steel mills screwed our families over.
But they did, in a completely unintended way, create something new and perhaps more powerful than an industry.
They helped created a nation.

A Steeler Nation

This is not imagination or wishful thinking at work. There are two things we can always count on when we travel. There is ALWAYS a Penn State Alumni Association chapter or Blue and White Club somewhere in the vicinity--including odd places like Chapel Hill and Ann Arbor. And there is ALWAYS a self-proclaimed Steeler bar. Like Bubba's Beach Club in Virginia Beach, or the 5,000 member Steeler Fan Club of Maryland, based in Baltimore, the Steeler Fan Club in Italy, oh yeah, there's the group in Vegas, and Oklahoma City. So you get the drift.

Is it bizarre, yeah, sorta. But if you'd have ever lived in the 'Burgh, you wouldn't bat an eye. Is it weird that I get choked up about it, sorta. But in a good way.

Time to Paaaartay!

Noooooo!! It's not what you're thinking....I'm, personally, so sick of hearing about the inauguration, that I could throw up....more about that later.

It's this nation that we here at Casa Black n' Gold are so very excited about.

Steeler Nation

I can tell you that it got pretty tense yesterday for awhile. Now it's going to be a fun two weeks!

Gotta have priorities kids, and if I'm going to drink kool aid it's not going to be the kind that is being drunk in Washington now. Yinz can make mine an Arn (Iron City Beer).

The great news aside. Here's my take on the whoop-de-do. I'm extremely proud (unlike certain soon-to-be first ladies, snarky? yup! true? also yup! She had to win to be "proud"--what's up with that?) to be a citizen of a country that every 4 or 8 years has a completely civilized transfer of power. The only guns and uniforms are those that are ceremonial or for the protection of the folks. I also never had a doubt that a person of another race (gender, creed etc.) would be elected eventually. I, unlike those who turned racism into a cottage industry-Jesse I'm a'talkin to you, do not believe this is a "prejudiced" country. Are there bigoted and prejudiced individuals? Yes there are, and there always will be. There are as many (maybe more) people who would refuse to vote for a Morman, as there are who wouldn't vote for a woman, or a Muslim. This is also bigotry in my book. At least it is today in contemporary society. So I'm sick of the plates, and the coins, and the waxing poetic about history. If we were really a country of equality, this would just be another celebration of a peaceful transfer of power.

Because I want this country to continue to be successful and safe, I am hoping for the best for BO. God help you sir.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The car says.....

..... it's 1 F. Bad car.

(It's a running joke that I always ask my husband when we're driving "What [temperature] does the car say?" This is actually rather important when we're driving over Cresson Mountain between Altoona and Pittsburgh in the winter.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yeah, it's winter, yeah, it's Central PA, I get it!

So, since last Tuesday, we've had multiple days of freezing rain/sleet, snow, and now biting cold. If you live anywhere it snows, you'd recognize this cold. I call it freezing nose hair weather. The severe weather alert thingy on my browser has been getting a real workout. It's great for the meteorology students though. Must be boring taking meteorology at say...Stanford. Actually, we haven't been this cold (sub-zero), for around five years - that is according to the wonks over on Science Park Road at Accuweather. So I suppose we're spoiled. I'm wearing double layer wool long underwear. Do you blame me?

Wanna see what it looks like here today -- Campus Weather Service. I think this pretty much illustrates the genesis of SADS. And if you're really bored check out the Bad Meteorology page. (The author, a distinguished professor, plays the bagpipes and has been known to wear a kilt. How can he not have a sense of humor?)

But I'm bored with the weather. I'm having a knitting crisis. Back in the late 80's early 90's I easily knit 3 fair isle sweaters. I had no problems managing the colors. I knit two fisted. I made it up, I was knitting in a vacuum - no online, no knitting buddies or yarn stores. It was, as I recall, if not "easy", "not hard". I need to photograph my fair isle sweaters for proof. Last night I cast on for a little fair isle headband, and it defeated me - totally. I used this pattern from Nanette, Ankara. Lovely no? Well, first my cast on was too loose. I redid the cast on. Then as I was starting the pattern, it really looked bad. Not just beginning bad, but REALLY bad and the stitches loosened up by the minute. I'm going to try once more with a smaller needle. I couldn't even get the two fisted rhythm going. Sigh.

Right now I have the Morgan hat blocking/drying. Still finishing to do before I have a verdict. Beware that the pattern for the brim (peak) insert doesn't print properly. The designer doesn't know what to do about that and neither do I. Right now my peak is a little smaller than I think it should be, but I'm going to go with it anyway.

I also have a Lace Ribbon Scarf on the needles, in an apricot colored Koigu. Verra nice, but I need something a little more challenging, and W.A.R.M.

I still owe birthday photos, and now I'm thinking about the fair isle sweaters, should document those somehow.

Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I'm back ....

.... and not happy. I'm never satisfied according to my DH, which is perfectly true.

Here's what's on the agenda for today:



The weather channel calls it "disruptive ice". What a euphemism!!

As I was leaving the building for lunch (actually to run to the bank and buy birthday cards), I ran into a friend and we chatted on the sidewalk for about 15 minutes. With my unerring good timing, just as I had left the building it began to sleet (freezing rain?) lightly. After about 15 minutes of catching up, Lisa asked, "Is it my imagination or is the sidewalk feeling slippery?" It wasn't her imagination. The sidewalks, the roads, EVERYTHING was feeling slippery.

I skated to the bank, stopped to buy birthday cards, and skated back. The roads were white with ice by this time.

Now why couldn't it do this when I was home with my Morgan on the needles and a cuppa raspberry tea?

And that damnable weather thingy on the bottom of my browser keeps popping up the severe weather alert. THANKS ALREADY I know!