Friday, July 07, 2006

I wanna be a pirate

Okay, there I said it. I want to be a pirate. I want to wear puffy shirts and tight leather pants with a big belt (and a buckle made from a real working pistol) and boots that go up to 'here'. And an eye patch. And a big hat. And I want to be able to wear a hankerchief on my head and only one big earring and not have people LOOK at me like that. Being able to swashbuckle and sail the high seas and pillage, well, those are just fringe benefits. I wanna be a pirate for the fashion. Tee hee! Never mind what brought that on, I just had to get it off my chest. I feel so much better....don't you? At DD's day camp today, they were to dress as their favourite super hero. I offered to make whatever costume DD wanted, but she kept saying it was not necessary. Not so much as a towel for a cape. I figured, she doesn't really KNOW any superheroes. Batman, Superman, Bat Girl, Wonderwoman, they are all before her time and she hasn't really had any exposure to them. When we got there for sign in, they asked why she didn't dress up. She smiled real big and said "I AM dressed up". We all exchanged looks, kids are just odd LOL. So she explained "This is my alter-ego outfit....I'm dressed as myself". Alrighty then. I would like to say I don't know where she gets it from, but we all know the truth. I FINALLY mailed off the fruit hats, two each. I have been tempted to try a few more, but Christmas is looming and there are presents I haven't even started yet. Hard choices my friends, hard choices. Another hard choice I had to make, was to give away the last of the basket of local nectarines I have been eating every day. A basket of nectarines is just too much for one person, no matter how many times I insist I can eat that many with no ill effects. If you don't know what happens when a person eats too many nectarines (or cherries, or tomatoes, or....you get the picture) then keep it that way and make wise choices when you eat. Trust me on that one. They weren't even all that great either, which made the fact that I was eating so many even harder to rationalize. Not sweet nor complex enough for jam, so off they went. Wasn't that nice? Foisting off less-than-stellar nectarines on unsuspecting people? In my defence it was just payback to my parents for the sweet cherries they brought, picked right after heavy rains so they were plump and ripe and completely flavourless. But even a bad sweet cherry is a good cherry ROFL. Plus you get to spit the pits at people. Tommorow is the big day........PEDICURE! I get a pedicure, DD gets fingers and toes painted. We are both so excited. Of course, I was instructed to get flip-flops and I haven't even looked for any yet. I have this odd notion that I work best under pressure (I don't) and always leave things to the last minute. Or, I get so worked up over something that I finish way too early then the finish is so anti-climatic. There is no middle ground....ever. Funny, you would think swinging like a pendulum would be good exercise, but not so much. Like my jungle? The only half way tame part are the cherry tomatoes in the half-barrels LOL. Hope the yard guy comes soon, we could lose children and dogs in there.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Live and let live

First off, I think it is not fair that I had such a fancy lunch yesterday, and such a shoddy one today. Five baby carrots, a handful of olives, some cherries, a pickle cut into chunks, and a whole wheat tortilla spread with peanut butter. I will spare you the picture LOL. Wasn't in the mood to play in the kitchen today. Now, to business. I am not the sort of person that cares about what neighbours do. I could care less what their yard looks like, if their kids play outside, if they have pets or animals. Rarely does it bother me when a neighbour does something in their own home or yard. But when it starts to effect me or my family or home situation, well, I get a little pissy. Like when the kids from a certain family were constantly kicking down my planters and pulling plants, and breaking trees. That was not okay, and it was dealt with. Or when Jerkster revs his harley for hours on end or leaves his truck (which he parks under our bedroom window) idling for an hour or two early in the morning on cold days. It annoys me, but really, I have no control over it and I would never call the police or anything. He yelled at Ruby once and I was out there and all over him like white on rice, because that was crossing the line. Leave my dog alone you bike revving truck gunning idiot! A little dog rooing in the wind is not a threat, and now she is scared of him and barks even louder at him (gets a ridge down her back and everything. Boy, she hates his guts). Our favourite neighbours moved. We were quite sad about it, and they said "Don't worry, we screened really well and you should like the people that bought it". And I am sure they were nice enough when they came to see the house and when they made their offers. But it has been nothing but stress since these people moved in. They have large loud parties with drunk people spilling into the street (having fights at 2am, smashing beer bottles, wandering into other people's yards). They do things like forget to close their doors and their dogs run away, which causes hours of drunken searching and yelling for them. And fights! DH and I have fought before, once loud enough to worry the neighbours. But nothing like this! Inebriated screaming and slurring and scuffles in the front yard wearing bed clothes. Sure, they are nice enough to talk to but not all that great to live by. Today has been a culmination of sorts. Our street has flooded with police cars no less than three times, and finally they took the man of the house away in handcuffs. This is after he was locked out of the house bare foot, and spent a very long time trying to kick the door in and break windows with a brick. Now the police are trying to get inside. DH was out doing stuff in the yard and heard some things, causing him to worry that maybe the woman locked her husband out then took something and now CAN'T open the door. Any minute now I am sure they will break the door in. Yes, it is not our business. No, we shouldn't feel the need to know what is happening. But for heavens sake! We can't even use our yard anyore without feeling like we are getting involved with them somehow. And I do genuinely worry about people when things like this happen. And I worry about us, and DD. Does this mean that we have to worry when we go in and out that maybe there will be more fights, more police coming and going? Do I have to worry when DD plays in the yard that she might see or hear or get caught in the middle of something? I just hate it. Complain about a messy neighbour all you want. This is ten times worse. Drinking, drugs, partying, and you should see the state of some of the people that stumble in an out of there. Sigh. This morning I was cursing my own lack of speed and inability to keep a clean, organized house. For Ruby discovered a baby preying mantis on the patio. She followed it, sniffing intently and pushing it along with her face, as it tried frantically to escape her gaze. She pretty much kept her nose on it the whole time, across the patio and up the step and up the screen. When it went too high for her to reach she settled on barking at it and doing the universal dog "let's play" stance....face down, ears perked, and butt up in the air with tail a-wagging. I don't think that preying manti like to play, particularly. By the time I found a camera (regular or video) it was too late. The bug was gone and Ruby was back sniffing grass stalks and casting wary eyes at anything she didn't recognize. DH brought two bikes over from his mother's house and put them on the patio. Ruby noticed them immediately, and is afraid of them. She won't walk past them, and even from the farthest point away in the yard eyes them warily and gives a good "oooomf!" in their direction. That sound is reserved for the most evil of dastardly things....like a strange car parked on the road, the garbage cans placed on the wrong side of the door, roller skates, and of course sudden appearances of alien bikes. I myself have reached a pinnacle of laziness and have decided my "treat", my "personal pampering choice" if you will, is to have the yard man come and weed the veggie garden for me. Is that sad or what? But the bindweed is starting to pull down my plants and really, who am I kidding. Sweeping, vacuuming, carrying laundry and weeding are things I am not supposed to and really can not do. It is extremely uncomfortable at the time, and I feel sick and sore for days. Why fight it? Do we all believe that Martha Stewart does the dirty work like weeding? NO WAY. She plans, she plants. From then on she supervises. Perhaps harvesting from time to time but I am more likely to believe that deadheading and weeding and general maintenance are left for "staff". I was threatening to kiss Ruby when I got this picture. If I make kissy noises in her direction she gets all upset and crinkles her nose roll, and looks mean. I still kiss her though LOL. In fact the more grumpy she acts the more I love to pester her and give her kisses and stuff. If I want to get her off my lap (and when she is comfy it is harder than it sounds to move her) there are two sure fire ways. One is to tell her I am going to kiss her on the lips (which I have never done but she isn't taking any chances) or touch her tail. Works every time. Poor thing. She was gifted with a kissable face and a curly tail a person can't help but touch and she hates it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Talk about a rough morning!

Ever had a morning that started off right, and yet it just seemed overly wrong? I got up fine this morning, the routine was working out well for timing. Everything seemed to be going as planned. At least, until I woke DD that is. The first thing she did when she opened her eyes was start demanding things. Then she refused to wear what we had picked out. Then she not only flat out refused to brush her hair and teeth, she started to tear apart her freshly cleaned room for some reason. She had no reason to be grumpy at all. Went to bed on time, had a good sleep, didn't get up too early. Maybe just the excitement of day camp and swimming yesterday, plus she had a friend over last night for a bit. What is it about fun, that sucks the joy out of some people LOL? We finally got a smile after we got to the day camp, which tugs at my heart a bit. I mean, I work so hard to plan things and have things ready for her, and make sure she has what she needs and everything. What do I get for it? Attitude. And a perfect stranger gets the benefit of her wonderful smile. I hate to say it, but I was on the verge of tears all the way home. It seems lately that I try very very hard, only to have everything I do or touch turn to crap. It just isn't good enough for SOMEBODY. Whether it is DH telling me I bought the wrong bread, or DD telling me she hates the dinner I cooked especially for her, or the host of the party bringing out a cake they bought at Costco "just in case nobody likes the one" I made especially for the occasion. Never mind they ASKED me to make and bring it and I certainly had better things to do with that time. I started to get all crazy about all that, and then told myself to STOP. That is ENOUGH. So what if they aren't happy with life, that doesn't mean my day must be ruined. So now, I have done things for everybody else, that means I get to do something for ME. Only I haven't decided what that thing will be yet ROFL. But I already feel better. Why not indulge myself? I mean, I do special things for the BIRD for cripes sake. I deserve a little pampering and indulgence don't I? And once I figure out what it is I will let you know. Maybe I will go to that gourmet market today, and get only things that I like. Like good olives, or maybe more of those fancy tomatoes in a rainbow of colours. Rainbow tomatoes are so cheerful. I am halfway finished the Irish Hiking scarf, or thereabouts. And I love love love it. This sucker will be hard to give away, I tell ya. I love the colourway, I love the yarn, and I love the pattern. No way am I ever making another one, so I'll just have to take a lot of pictures and fondle it while I can. My mind is starting to spark a little, repeating the same two rows over and over again, thank goodness for the crossing row or I might never have gotten this far. As for the poncho/wrap, well, I still love it but progress is SO SLOW. Mind numbingly slow. Being the person that I am, and that instant gratification takes too long, why on earth would I choose a project that has a 24 row repeat, needs to be 60 inches long and by-the-way-make-two? Do you know how hard it is for me to have to knit for like an hour or more and not even complete a single repeat of the pattern? This thing grows like an inch a week I swear. Last night I was working away at it, then calmly asked DH to drive a DPN through my ear. Then I realized the DPN's I had next to me were a little too short to hit any important brain parts. Being too lazy to direct him how to find my longer DPN's I decided to just tell him to never mind (when I try to tell him where to find things his eyes glaze over and he mouth breathes, and I am not sure I could handle it at that point). And let me say he was a little too quick to agree and a bit too willing to shove a sharp pointy object in my ear. I'll have to look into THAT little fact. I think tonight I am going to go ahead and cast on for a pair of geisha socks for my niece, even without her foot measurement. I have miles of ribbing and knitting in the round to go, and a heel to turn before I need to know exactly how many inches long the bottom of her foot is so this is not as risky as it sounds. When I told her (long distance, she is at camp LOL) that I need to measure her big toe I am pretty sure she decided then and there that the rumours about me are indeed true, and I am completely insane. "You are not touching my feet unless you tell me what it is for". How rude! Have I ever steered her wrong before? Have I ever done anything so completely wierd that....well....okay so she is right to be suspicious. But how bad can something be if it involves TOES? Okay. You have a point. I may have to spill what the gift is so she will let me near her feet - tee hee! What are geisha socks? Socks with a big toe knitted in so you can wear them with flip-flops of course. Gee, get with it! When I expressed my desire to make nephew a hat for christmas (I need his head measurement), my sister sounded less than enthused. Isn't he a hat wearer? Don't cool boys wear skull caps these days? Would he rather a scarf and mittens? It seems his school has banned scarves completely, along with any kind of hood on a coat or shirt. They are also not allowed shoe laces until grade one, must bring certified peanut free foods for snacks and lunch, and their goodies are inspected daily to make sure they aren't eating too much junk food. I offered to send her a roll of bubble wrap, helmet, knee and elbow pads, and chest protector too. After all, he might trip in the school yard or something. She gently chided me for over-reacting, since everybody knows they aren't allowed to play in the school yard anymore! Sheesh. What was I thinking. I told her he was getting a hat with skulls on it and he was going to like it. "Not sure about the skull thing". Oh, grow up. The kid is 10, what does she want me to do, knit him a hat covered in BUNNIES? I might as well knit him a sweater with a block on intarsia on the back that says "BEAT ME UP". I think she is a little freaked out about the idea of somebody measuring his head as well. Why are people so afraid of a measuring tape anyway? (Get away from me with that thing. You aren't funny. Nobody likes a smart aleck). My dad was joking that he would like some hand-knit socks for christmas. I was enthused at first, what a good idea! He is so hard to buy for. And hand-knit socks are so comfy, and it would give me a chance to try some guy patterns. Then he told me he had size 12 feet. I suggested that maybe when he selects his next wife, she should be a knitter. SIZE 12 FEET? On size 2 or 3 needles? It would be faster to write a master's thesis on the mating habits of an animal species that hasn't been discovered yet. Now I could crochet him socks in an hour, but they wouldn't be wearable. Sock yarn is too expensive (I have to mail order it) for socks you can't wear. Why is it that the only people willing to let you measure things like feet and heads (and really really want and appreciate hand knitted goodies) have gargantuan proportions? A friend of the family would be thrilled to get a sweater, knitted by moi. She better not hold her breath. I love her dearly, but she is a size 5x and has breasts the size of watermelons. The thought of that much stockinette in the round makes me wish for death, and I am not even knitting yet! Plus she has the longest arms I have ever seen on a woman. Nope, sorry. She might get slippers. I haven't decided yet, as I have to measure her feet. Things are looking up. This is the lunch I made for myself today (sitting and waiting patiently to be eaten as I finish this blog). That is a grilled veggie sandwich on a multigrain ciabatta roll, some "spring vegetable broth" and a local nectarine. The sandwich: zuchini and eggplant, marinated in a vinagrette dressing then grilled. Chilled in the fridge. Spray split roll with butter flavoured spray and sprinkle wth garlic powder. Toast. Spread one half with herbed goat cheese. Add a layer of zuchini, then a layer of eggplant. Add chopped grape tomates (or a slice of a really good garden tomato, which I do not have at the moment) and "olive salad" made by pitting and chopping various mixed olives with a teaspoon of capers. Top with shredded mozarella cheese and broil until cheese is melted. Place halves together. Let cool for a bit on a rack (makes it easier to eat when it solidifies a little but is still very warm). Yum yum yum! The soup: Add a handful of chopped grape tomatoes and a 1 inch wedge of chopped orange or yellow pepper to 1 cup hot water. Add 3/4 to 1 tsp chicken bouillon and up to 1/2 tsp tomato bouillon (watch out, they can be salty!). Microwave for 1 minutes 30 seconds. Puree using a stick blender, then strain into a cup. It sort of tastes like "spring vegetable" flavour cup-a-soup without the odd dehydrated beans and weird bits ;).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Deferring to the hat

My family is abuzz with rumours. All about me, and let's face it, isn't that the way things should be? All about ME Me ME??? Tee hee. You see, I have been knitting again (still?). No, not the projects I should keep plugging away at if I want them done by christmas (and BTW, that poncho is looking more and more like a wrap every day that trickles by and brings us closer to that holiday). I have never made a baby hat before. I adore them, I want to make them, but alas there are no babies for me to make a hat for. Then I read that Yarn Harlot was suggesting that a certain project needed baby hats. Fruit and veggie hats for babies to promote breastfeeding, to be exact. Oooh, a good cause! Ooooh, an excuse to make those adorable hats I've wanted so bad to try! So that is what I have been doing. And rather than ask me WHY I might be making baby hats, they talked amongst themselves instead. And according to the rumour mill, I must be pregnant if I am knitting baby hats, and the baby must be due in the winter since knitted items are for snow, right? Don't worry, I'll shut the idea down before they throw me a shower or anything ROFL. Using some yarn leftovers, I created two plum hats. Or they could be italian eggplants LOL. The first one I discovered a bit of a tribble in the pattern I found on the internet, but once I made a small correction the next hat turned out lovely. Very quick to knit, I made these both in the same evening. I wouldn't suggest doing that, I ended up making my left hand very very sore and should have known better. But I was like posessed! "Must finish baby hat!". The original pattern and my comment with the correction can be found here, at KnitChicks. This is the same pattern I used to make the Tomato Hat, since I couldn't bear not to make it in the colours called for. Of course, I had to go out and buy some red yarn because I didn't have any. This baby hat thing was starting to turn into some kind of obsession. Never mind the naked baby doll I borrowed from DD to be my model. It's head is small, the hats are not freakishly large - in case you were wondering. So once I had made that pattern three times, and figured some things out, I decided to try to convert a stitch pattern called "raspberry stitch" and come up with my own pattern. Which would have been fun and easy if I had any brains in my head and can do simple figuring, logistics, and basic kindergarten math. This hat, this one teeny tiny little raspberry hat took TWELVE hours to knit. That is right! My entire day off yesterday was spent making this hat. There are some things of note, when converting a flat stitch pattern into knitting-in-the-round. First of all, let somebody with enough brains to feed themselves work it out for you. If that is not possible, then at least remember that there is no "wrong side" and "right side" in that you are knitting around and around and around and not back and forth - you aren't turning your work. This means you have to convert wrong side rows to make them right side rows, and account for the fact that you are basically knitting them in the wrong direction. Here I was, knitting along, thinking gee, for a raspberry stitch pattern it is awfully flat and boring. Oh well, too late to start over and too lazy to rip back, so keep on going. And boy, was it a bugger to knit! I was halfway through before I figured out that those purl rows that were very tight and a bitch to "purl3-together" should be KNIT rows, since the purl would be the wrong side in flat knitting leaving you knits to purl together (which is much much easier and causes less swearing and flinging of projects, which is always optimal when making baby hats). Also, the knit 1 at the beginning and end of each row is meant to keep your flat swatch from curling on the ends, and is completely unecessary when knitting in the round. In fact, it will be an undesireable flat space with no pattern on your finished piece and can ruin the effect, unless you realize this soon enough to eliminate those stitches before you have gone too far. ALSO.... Oh yes, there is more! - funny, for a small hat I learned a lot of lessons. Next is that if you do a reduce row, and want to maintain your pattern which is a repeat of four stitches, that you want to knit three and then knit two together rather than knit FOUR and knit two together which leaves you with extra stitches and pretty much in the same quandry you started with. I'm just saying. Imagine my surprise when I went to sew in the ends, and turned the hat inside out to find....THIS!
The picture isn't that great, and you might not be able to see the detail. But somehow, the INSIDE of my hat was covered with little tiny bobbles, and it DOES look like a raspberry! No idea how I did that, I guess I really have no idea how to convert a flat swatch to knitting in the round. It was a nice surprise though LOL. I added the little bow and admired the green ruffle that will never ever be made again, because casting on twice as many stitches than you need, knitting one row, then immediately reducing back by knitting two together all the way around (while a cute idea) is harder than it sounds, more fiddley than you can imagine, and makes a person want to poke thier eyes out with size 9 DPNs. Just so you know.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Great Canada Day

We had an awesome Canada day. We had a nice day at home, with DD playing in the sprinkler then a bbq dinner (okay, the dinner was edible but not much more than that. Still working on the whole bbq chicken thing). Dh finally convinced me that he wouldn't set the house on fire with fireworks, which called for a visit to a fireworks tent. Perfectly legal, and I am over the age limit, although I still felt like some kind of criminal ROFL. We bought a "noiselss kids pack" because DH already had some he inherited from his father that were noisy. My sister and her Dh and kids, and my brother came to see the show. The rest of the family was travelling. When I was younger, holidays like this were spent camping at a trailer park in Grand Bend Ontario. We were never home to plan things. I remember a few times having fireworks in our back yard (remember those spinny things that got nailed to a tree or fence? Those were my all time favourite). But mostly we were gone on long week-ends. Not so much into camping now, I would rather stay home. We had such a good time that we plan to make a day of it next year, having a bbq and fire along with the fireworks. Now. When it comes to anything noisy or dealing with fire in any way I am a big chicken. We hosed down the yard and trees, DD's play equipment, the fence and flower beds, and the shed. And still, I insisted on a bucket of water, a pail of sand, and the hose to be at the ready. DH filled a planting flat with dirt to use as his "barge", and it worked out really well. As for arranging and lighting them, he used the "light the fuse and run like heck routine" which worked out well for him LOL. Not only am I a wimp about noise and fire, so is my daughter, sister, niece, and my nephew somewhat. Before each one we would ask "is it noisy?" and if it was we would retreat under the sun shade. Yeah, hide under an acre of fabric that would probably go up in flames instantly. We may be scared, but we aren't smart apparently. Seeing these things being set off in a field is one thing. But in a small yard with them going off right over your head, well, it's kind of nerve wracking. I am pretty sure we thought we would be rained with sparks, but that never happened. We had only one dud, that blew the top off the cylander which then plopped down on DD's slide and continued to burn. It was put out instantly and expertly by my brother, and the slide is no worse for the wear. The finale was something called "Flying Blue Fish". We weren't sure what to expect, although it was part of the noiseless pack. It was the biggest one in there, which is why we saved it for last. Dh considered setting off a couple of small noisy ones at the same time, but when he tried to do more than one at a time earlier in the lineup, he had trouble lighting and getting the heck out of the way in time, so decided not to. So there we all were, standing there for the finale. And DH sets it off, and off it goes with a huge BANG then...........nothing. First, we were startled because there wasn't supposed to be any noise and that was a very large bang. Then we figured it was a dud because nothing happened after that. Just as we all took a breath to do a dissapointed awwwww.......ZZZZRRROOOING! A point of light appeared above our heads and expanded outward in a large circle of dazzling white lights and blue squigglies chased by more white rings. It was beautiful. Too bad we were all horrified and struck dumb with terror. Have you ever seen a movie where vampires are exposed to sunlight? They shield their eyes with hands outstretched like claws, and cower staring helplessly upward - eyes vacant and large with pure terror? Yeah, that's pretty much what we looked like when that sucker spread out. There was a good long delay between detonation and effect, and that canopy of light was BIG. I can still hear that sizzling sound as it spread out above our heads, like something from a sci-fi movie. Once we realized that no, there hadn't been a nuclear explosion and that it was just "blue flying fish" we laughed ourselves silly like the bunch of idiots we are. And I still giggle uncontrollably when I think about it. Next year, I think we will go out to a field near our house so we can enjoy our explosions from a more civilized distance, and not spook like horses over every spark and noise. Afterwards, they all left and we had a small fire to cook hotdogs and marshmallows. DD fell asleep on a lounge chair waiting for her hotdog, so DH and I just sat for a while watching the fire, and enjoying the quietness of the night. Well, at least until the party our neighbours were having spilled out into their yard and onto the street. We took that as our cue to get inside before the drunken rampages and inebriated fireworks started. Good thing too, several of their fireworks landed smouldering on our patio when they tipped as they were being set off. Oh well, all's well that ends well, no permanent damage, and a good time was had by all.