Friday, March 28, 2008

Snow: It's Not Just for the Midwest Anymore

Well, I hope you're happy. Poor frigid oregano.

And just when the irises started popping up, too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sheep-Transmitted Disease

Last night I was talking to K the Love Monkey, telling him I felt all glum and somewhat embarrassed that I had to tell everyone to whom I'd lately sent yarn that it might be contaminated with carpet beetle eggs. He said, "It sounds like yarn-eating insects is the knitter's equivalent of an STD."

And then he popped out with the phrase, "sheep-transmitted disease."

He doesn't knit yet but I'm working on him.

Monday, March 24, 2008

D is also for Discouragement, Disillusionment, and Destruction

I thought of multiple titles for this post, including

Another reason why I don't like wall-to-wall carpets
I am not so good at the non-violence when it comes to protein-fiber-consuming insects

I spent part of the weekend cleaning up an infestation of carpet beetles. These little bastards have been appearing around the house for months now, but never in large concentrations until just recently (Friday). I found ground zero on Saturday - the upstairs linen closet/cat litter box location.

The first time I saw one of them, maybe a year ago?, it prompted me to bag up almost all of my yarn in plastic ziploc bags. Unfortunately I got a little lax.

Possibly infected yarn is now going through a freezer regimen.

Fortunately they don't seem to care for cotton (which I have a lot of and isn't bagged) unless it's soiled. Instead they've got caviar tastes: it's wool and silk and feathers all the way.

There are 2 casualties so far:
1) some holes in a length of woven silk, and
2) a well-eaten Pomatomous sock, not even worn once. I discovered this just as I finished sock #2 and took them outside to take pictures. So I'm back to 50% on that project.

So I was a vacuuming fiend this weekend, albeit one that didn't bend over much and had a temperature and a dripping nose. I feel better today, much better than Saturday (slept 11 hours). But I know they are back there, breeding. Grrrrr.

To anyone I've sent yarn to recently: I don't think you need to worry, as I have found no beetles, larvae, or sign of infestation anywhere near where that yarn was kept. However, if you want to be absolutely safe, stick it in a ziploc bag in a freezer for 2 weeks, or throw it in a pan and heat it a 150 F oven for 30 minutes. That should kill all stages of the insects. I'm sorry about the runaround on this.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

D is for DYEING

I've been doing a lot of dyeing lately. I don't really know why as I've got a bazillion other things lined up to do, but it's more dyeing for dyeing's sake, not really to produce anything. I use the excuse that I'm trying out different sock yarn blanks.


I do kettle dyeing. I could handpaint instead, but I'm just having fun messing around with this. Since the yarn is completely submerged, there's much more color blending. I've been kind of on a shaded solids kick.

I dream of Greenie

I, um, have a little problem with saturation. As in, I have too much of it. Give me a jar of dye and I go buck wild, I guess. I finally managed a little restraint last time and got something with pale to medium greens, which I like very much and seems to be impossible to photograph well (even with image enhancement, it looks like poo).

As usual, my little obsession with red. I can't get a good pic of this either; it's dark reds shading to browns and I like it very much.

I just enjoy color. All kinds and flavors. I like admiring all the other hand-dyed sock yarns out there and how beautiful they are. I like the almost-always pleasant surprise of the skein's final coloration once it's out of the dye pot and dried. With some of these dark ones, I think, oh no, I've dyed a mass of solid black, but it's surprising the subtle range in colors I get at the end.

At the bottom of the deep blue sea

However, I need to deal with this growing pile of sock yarn. Cannot. Knit. Fast. Enough.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Enough with the flowers already

This is a public service announcement for those of you in the in the North/North-Eastish bits of the North American continent:


I waffled between putting these up or not--whether it'd be nasty and mean or offer hope. I fell on the side of 'but they're just so pretty'. If it makes you feel better, last weekend there was brief but intense hail storm which stripped those blossoms right off the trees.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. My brain is dissolving out my nose, but hey, it is FRIDAY.

Another Big Fluffy cameo, on his grand tour of our backyard:
He looks mean in that picture but really he's just a big softy (Ha, Wren'll get that reference I think.) You can see from the pick just how thick his winter coat is--that iron pillar attaches to the fence. A few weeks ago he decided to sneak inside and hide in our basement for at least several hours. We were alerted to his presence during a movie when a loud yowling came from the direction of the (now closed) back door (our cat Frances was sitting on my lap at the time).

Either Frances is getting mellower or she's just scared of him so she doesn't go on territorial defense DEFCON 1 unless we're also around to back her up.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Did I mention that C is also for Clumsy?

And completely idiotic?

Latest in the line of just-how-can-I-annoyingly-(not seriously, thank goodness)- injure-myself events for this month, I managed to slice 2 of my fingers while cutting onions tonight. Onions that were to go into the chicken soup I was making because I think I'm coming down with a cold.

My typing accuracy goes way down when I'm only on 8 fingers. It took 3x times as long as normal to write this. Also numbers are hard (and not in the Barbie sense).

I'm fine; one finger's not bad, the other is deeper and of course right on the top joint so I'll self-splint the damn thing so that it heals faster. And at least it's my non-dominant hand. I think that's the first time I've ever been in (slight) shock before and I didn't enjoy it. I just got dizzy and a little nauseated for a little while.

I think knitting is out for the moment, though, unless I can figure out some way of holding things with a half-splinted left middle finger. Time to get friendly with crochet again!


Happier C's:

Croissant (this one's almond. And eaten)



and of course,

This is the chocolate cake I made for K's birthday (extremely belated). Bakerina's blog has been inspiring me to new heights of baking lately, and so voilà: my first successful cake completely from scratch. I used these eency 5" diameter pans because a 9" wide cake would be way, way overkill.

It's yellow layer cake with milk chocolate buttercream icing. And it is DEADLY, let me tell you.
Deadly but delicious. (Is that an awful enough segue to D?)

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Anti-Back

K the love monkey got free tickets to Cirque du Soleil, which I have never seen, so we went last night. The show was beautiful, very impressive. It's probably best I never saw this when I was a kid because I'd probably have tried to devote my life to getting into it (I was kind of an attention hog kid. What'd I want to be when I grew up? A movie star.) That would've been disappointing because I'm extremely uncoordinated and not exactly the tumbling body type (I sucked SO MUCH at ballet. And I was only 6).

Anyway, I was enormously impressed and entertained, and I admit to complete and utter envy that people could contort and move in such ways, especially as I was sitting there hoping my back would last out sitting for 2.5 hours. Really, still pictures don't do the show justice--a huge part of the show was the lighting, ambience, and sound, as well as the costumes and props and movement. If you ever liked watching the gymnastics at the summer Olympic and wished, oh, that there were better costumes and it was more like Ice Dancing, you'll love this. Except the dude hanging from the girl's hair. OW.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My spine & I

Thanks all so much for the sympathy and suggestions. I wish I could say I'm feeling better, and I was feeling better and optimistic at the end of last week. My lower back and I had a temporary detente and plans for possible mutual disarmament, but something changed (? who knows what) Sunday and we're back to open warfare. My ice pack (bag of frozen corn. Don't mock, it works) and I are on very close terms lately.

I think I'm going to have to break out the big drugs as every day this week has been progressively worse. Today I'm walking around with a noticeable list to the left and no position stays pain-free for more than 10 minutes. I refuse to let this stop me from doing things though. I'll hobble around and sit uncomfortably and do everything glacially slow but I will NOT stop.

Sigh, this has happened before, it's like the Wheel o' Back Pain 'round here, every few months->years I spin the unlucky number and lurch around like Quasimodo and bitch and whine and mope about and generally feel miserable. It takes about 6 weeks to heal to "normal" levels, so I just have to trust that it'll heal again this time. This fact that it's getting worse worries me though. The absolute worst thing is the worry, especially the worry that this time I'm screwed and it'll never get better and I'm going to have to live restricted and in pain for forever.

The timeline of back suckage started 8 years ago while doing squats in a kickboxing class. I figure I probably partially herniated a disk then, and occasionally I'll sleep on it wrong or overtax the muscles, which makes it flare up, leak a bunch of fluid which then presses on the spine which presses on the nerves. My Highly Unscientific Conjecture is based on the fact that warmth==very bad more pain but ice is my friend, which makes me think inflammation. I Am Not A Doctor, but then again all the doctors have ever done is throw pills at me and say "try to move around, don't just lay in bed; it'll get better eventually" (yo, there was the time I could hardly make it to the bathroom without falling on the floor. I'll stay in bed and not be in pain, thanks all the same).

Nah, I've never seen a specialist. I should probably hunt down a good chiropractor but I never get around to it until I really need one, and then I don't have the energy. Massage seems to make it worse, but I only tried it once. I should probably try again, I know that sometimes things have to shift around a bit and feel worse before they feel better.

I REALLY ought to be doing yoga; I saw at least one study that shows that it was more effective than traditional muscle strengthening/conditioning at reducing the incidence of chronic lower back pain (and the strengthening in turn was more effective than doing nothing). But I have to do it at least a couple times a week for it to be effective and I don't know how to fit that in yet. I barely make it to the gym (ha, not for the last couple weeks) for an hour in the morning. Sometime in the evenings? Hmm. I need to shop around for good class.

And finally there is the plain and obvious, "lose some weight, stupid." I'm trying, I really am. It's just hard to move around when I want to curl up in a fetal position. I've been very good about food intake lately, lots of veggies and grains, low sugar & fat. I just can't help but envy the pizza & a coke crowd. The ones who are eating all those Friday donuts. Do you KNOW how long it has been since I've had a carbonated beverage? Or a hamburger?

Anyway, enough on the self-pity. I need to figure out how to hobble out for food. I've got an apple in the fridge but I forgot to bring anything more substantial. bleh. Hope you all have a happy, motile, pain-free day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Signs of Spring


Hydrangea shoots

Ornamental plum blossoms


Monday, March 10, 2008

Big Enormous Thank You

I am something like 3 weeks late in posting this (ha, what else is new?), but I'd still like to do so.

A bit ago Zoe sent me a fantastic wonderful package full of knitting goodies. It was such a fabulous surprise to come home to, and I want to publicly thank her for doing such a lovely thoughtful thing for me. I opened it up and thought Damn, I've died and gone to Heaven and it's a yarn store after all.

Some Regia silk sock yarn, so soft and a gorgeous slate blue; variegated Wool In the Woods (more socks! woop!) in toasty browns and greys. There is a skein of lovely soft brilliantly colored Sophie's Toes that I can't wait to try, and a skein of Sundara silk lace yarn in a beautiful silvery slate grey. I can't stop touching it, I'm such a silk addict. A skein of Skylark yarns in alpaca and bamboo that is so amazingly soft, and an awesome sock yarn bag and the Mindful Knitting book by Tara Jon Manning.

Thank you so much, Zoe, you made my day (& week & month).

Monday, March 03, 2008


I'm breaking my own rules by posting without having replied to all your great comments, but I'm feeling annoyed and I have no one to bitch to except the ether.

Stupid back, stop hurting. Can't concentrate, can't sit down for long, can't even walk normal speed. I walk like I've got something stuck up my rear end. OTC painkillers don't help, prescription painkillers make me fall asleep. I don't know how people live with chronic pain. Don't even know what I did to make it like this, or I'd stop doing it. DAMMIT STUPID BACK