Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Surprise-- new babies !!!!

Well, I tried to send the picture from my iPhone, but only the caption came through.  So here is today's little surprise:



One of our hens has been squatting in a nesting box and acting all broody for the last couple of weeks, all to no purpose because we have no rooster and therefore no possibility of fertilized eggs.  Today when we went to the feed store for more chicken feed, they had chicks.  We bought three and the plan is to sneak them under Pippa tonight and see if she'll do the mama thing and raise these babies right.  If not, then my kids just found their summer project.


Above are Daisy and Lily, both Araucanas (they'll lay blue eggs . . . squeee! we're so excited).

Below is Sunny (full name Sunflower) who is a red star, which we know nothing about.


Happy summer!!!
Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Marathon Woman

1. No.   

Just to answer your first question, I am not planning to run a marathon.  Nor am I planning to walk a marathon. In fact, this post has nothing to do with exercise of any kind except futility.  If this doesn't make you want to run screaming for a sedative, then read on.

2. The Back Story
A few weeks ago, some people I know on Ravelry -- which is basically the knitter's answer to life, the universe and everything -- had a little shopping incident and bought some extra yarn.  This prompted one of the more responsible members of our group to propose that we all update our personal yarn catalogs, or 'stashes,' (Ravelry makes it possible for people to keep an online record of their stuff)  so that we can actually know what we have before we all run out and buy more of it. 

Clearly someone should have put a stop to this behavior immediately.  For one thing, this kind of self-knowledge is bad for the retail yarn industry.  It's not so good for our knitterly self-esteem either.  The reason that most of us don't keep our stashes up to date is the same reason that most of us don't step on a scale or read the nutrition label (now there's a misnomer) on a cheesecake: We. Don't. Want. To. Know. Just like I don't need to know that my cheesecake and I are both already packing enough excess calories to carry us through until Labor Day, I don't need to know that -- based on my current productivity level -- I already have enough yarn to keep myself busy for the next 7 years.

3. The Numbers
Too late now, though.  Last week I hopped on the Full Stash Accountability bandwagon and learned that I have 19.6 miles of yarn.  I also have 12.5 pounds (yes, POUNDS) of fiber waiting to be spun. Assuming, based on some very spotty and inaccurate calculations, that an ounce of fiber will yield roughly 75 yards of my average handspun yarn, that means that I have the capacity to add another 8.5 miles (yes, MILES, which have been calculated by multiplying the estimated 75 yards-per-ounce-yield by the roughly 200 ounces that I have and dividing by 1760, which is the actual number of yards in a mile) of yarn to my stash. 

4. The Problem
I don't really knit that fast.  While I was torturing my little head with yarn statistics, I took a look at projects I knit primarily in 2010 to see how fast I was burning through this yarn collection.  And the answer is:  2.  In the past six months, I have knit approximately 2 miles worth of yarn. That's all.  Two. Which El Husbando absolutely will not believe because he thinks I knit all the time. I'm a little surprised at the number myself. Two miles of yarn consumed over six months-- four miles per year-- against 28 miles of real and potential yarn.  The equivalent of 7 years (yes, dammit, YEARS) worth of knitting. And that's only if I don't buy anything else.

To make matters worse, the yarn for the four projects currently on my needles is not included in my Stash Mileage figure.  That yarn is stuck in a little no-man's-land of unaccountability, so when I finish the projects, I don't even get to subtract anything from my Excess Yarn Figure.  This is not encouraging.

5. The Solution
It is clear to me that I cannot possibly hope to use up my entire stash any time soon.  And I certainly wouldn't want to waste my money betting that I'll stop adding to the stash in this lifetime. So the only answer is to find an interesting number and try to guess when my stash will arrive at that figure.  Hence, the marathon.  26.2 miles. At some point in my future, my actual yarn plus my potential yarn minus my knitted/woven yarn will balance out to a marathon of yarn. I'm guessing October, but that's pretty optimistic considering that I still like to buy yarn and I haven't finished using up the Yarn of Unaccountability.  Still, a girl's got to have some goals in life.

p.s. This morning I hung my exercise bra up on the hook where my hand towel normally goes.  You can imagine the confusion this caused when I went to dry my face this afternoon.

p.p.s. Just so you shouldn't be without pictures, I'm posting an oldie.  We had torrential rain today and my kids all ran outside to play in it.  This reminded me of the day I took Nate and Isabel out to play in the giant driveway puddle we used to get at our old house. They ran back and forth, shouting and laughing and disturbing the neighbors, until Isabel fell and cut her knee.  She still has the scar, which she showed me yesterday.  Ah, the memories.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This is Getting a Little Crazy

1. This is the washing machine.  According to a statement issued last week by the Clothing and Fabric Maintenance division of the Union of Disgruntled Household Appliances, it is on strike and will refuse to work until management (that would be me) agrees to limit to a reasonable amount the gross tonnage per load that the machine is expected to wash.  We are scheduled to go to arbitration on this matter sometime between 1 and 5 p.m. this afternoon, but management (me, again) has reason to question the impartiality of the arbitrator (the Sears Repair Man), who has been known to charge management (still me) a great deal of money while issuing  lectures on Proper Load Size, Responsible Soap Usage, and 101 Reasons Why You Should Not Have Believed the Saleswoman Who Said You Could Use This Fine Machine to Wash Every Towel In The House At Once.

2. This is the last bit of clean laundry in the house.


Everything else is dirty and it is unsafe at the present time to open bedroom closets because you will certainly be lost under the avalanche of stinky clothing. Even I, with my plentiful clothing reserves, have reached the Underwear Crisis Point.  Normally, this would be the reminder that it really is time to get the laundry done, but (as noted above)  I can't.

3. This is quite a fashion statement:

fashion statement

Pretty soon we'll all be wearing get ups like this if the "Impartial" Arbitrator/Sears Repair Guy doesn't quit lecturing me and start fixing my stuff.

4.  This is my freezer door. 


It contains a water spout, which is fully capable of filling a cup well past its capacity, as Matty learns on a regular basis.  It also contains an ice maker that has been on strike for the last two years.  Today, sometime between the hours of 1 and 5 p.m., the Sears Repair Man will have the golden opportunity to lecture me on The Use and Care of Your Ice-Maker.  He will also get to charge me extra money for this treat. This is bound to make his day, heartless, pro-appliance wretch that he is.

 5.  This is my new yellow vacuum cleaner.


It is a huge improvement over my old gray vacuum cleaner in two vital respects.  First, it has a cheery yellow exterior, which gives the impression that vacuuming is fun and that  it is terribly happy to be sucking pounds of pet hair off my floor. Second, it doesn't smoke while it is working.  I would like to think that the quick and decisive manner in which I brought this vacuum in to replace my old cheerless, smoky vacuum would serve as a warning to any other appliances that were considering a work stoppage.  Unfortunately, the first thing that happened after I threw out the old gray vacuum was an epic washing machine strike that clearly was undertaken in retaliation for my failure to properly retire a faithful servant.

6.  This is why I knit.  At least with the knitting, I can either fix mistakes myself, or punish the misbehaving yarn/needles/pattern by unraveling the knitting, stomping on the needles, sticking the project in deep storage (like under the bed) for a year or two, or posting unflattering pictures of it.  Nobody lectures me and nobody charges me money for the privilege of being lectured to. Also, if things go right, I get a warm sweater, or a cozy pair of socks.  Here is my February Lady sweater.  My friend Deb brought her son over to keep my son busy yesterday and we yakked and drank coffee and stuffed ourselves with scones and did some knitting.  I finally got to the sleeve divide and the start of the lace pattern and the beginning of my second ball of yarn, which puts me firmly past the 25% done mark on this project.


(yes, I see that the sweater is upside down, but I am knitting it from the top down, so it is supposed to look like this, right?)

7. This is my second Nutkin sock.  I gave it a tiny little picture because it is still a tiny little sock and I'm mad at it.  This picture is also upside down, but that's because I'm punishing the sock.  So there.

8. This is two skeins of Dream in Color Classy, in the Beach Fog color.


They want to be a Springtime Bandit when they grows up and I'm trying really, really hard NOT to wind the yarn into little yarn cakes and begin this project.  With the exception of my incorrigible Nutkin sock, I'm finding that the benefit of actually working on a project is that you actually make progress on it.  If I start a third project, I will begin to experience the Project Dilution Cycle, in which I will (1) knit little bits on a whole bunch of different projects; (2) fail to see sufficient progress on any of them; (3) grow bored with the lack of progress; and (4) cast on more projects so I can feel like I'm getting somewhere.  This is a vicious cycle and I refuse to perpetuate it.  So there.  Again.

9. This is the end.  Bye!

Monday, June 7, 2010

In Which A Whole Bunch of Stuff is Jammed into One Post

I. In which We Witness an Amazing True-Life Transformation

Imagine, if you will, a world in which this: 


becomes this:


And this:

becomes this:



What if it was possible to transform this unsightly alcove

into this Thing of Great Beauty?


And what if this ordinary set of "contractor's special"  steps

could someday grow up to be this . . .


complete with  Beauteous Rays of Light At No Extra Charge?

Maybe in such a world the people who created such fine works of art would also be willing to haul your old step to the fire pit to top El Husbando's rocks and make you this little bench:


(looks like a mini-Stonehenge, doesn't it?  The bunnies like it too.  We caught them hopping through the tunnel tonight.)

Ah, what a world!

II. In which I am Out of Work and Resort to House Cleaning

I finished a project on Thursday.  Usually when I do this, there is already another project waiting for my attention.  This is an annoying but very secure feeling:  the work is there (relentlessly), which is annoying, but then again, the work is there (as is the paycheck) which is good to know.  Right now, there is no work in my in box.  No one has  offered me work recently (this is actually a bald-faced lie:  work was offered, but retracted), and I do not  know when anyone will be offering work.  I am FREE.

It is really giving me the creeps.

I have a long list of projects that I am supposed to do now that I'm FREE.  I don't want to do too many of them, but without my regular work, I have no excuse for avoiding them.  The first thing I did on Friday-- after I parked myself on the patio to knit for  a while-- was clean out my office.  It was overrun with Matty's toys, but with no work in sight, there is no reason to clutter my very own personal space with Little People, or their barns, garages, cars, and ten thousand farm and zoo animals.  This led to more cleaning, which was very high on the list of Things that Must Get Done Before I Become a Screaming Lunatic, but even higher on the list of Things I Never Want to Do Again.  I would even have preferred to clean out my garden and repair the garden fence, but it rained non-stop on Sunday and there really was absolutely nothing else to do.  Even for a FREE person.

One benefit of going through two months of junk mail and school papers is that you find a few gems hidden in the mess. Like this classic Mother's Day poem from Isabel:

which -- in case you can't decipher the code-- reads:
Dear Mommy:
From bunnies to chicks you're nice.
Your kind is not easy to find.
From Earth to the Sun, you are number 1.
From Pluto to Mars, I love you up to the stars.
If cows talk about you, they would do so much more than just moo!
They would whisper in their cow-ish voices "Oh, that's the lady who made all the great choices.  I so wish she were mine!

And this letter, also from Isabel, which the local Tooth Fairy was kind enough to save for us:


To The toothfairy:
I lost a tooth, but then I lost it again (a.k.a. I can't find it!). So if you can please accept my note and give me my usual payment, I shall be very pleased.
Best to you,

It took me five hours of sorting through papers to get to this stuff, but it was worth every minute.

III. In which we Issue a Fashion Update

Style Guru Emma, in conjunction with the newest runway sensation, Supermodel Matty, offers a few fashion options for the truly trendy pre-schooler.  First up, the Shaggy Purple Toga.


Please note: walking while wearing this confection is neither recommended nor possible.  These are trained professionals; please do not try this dress at home.

And for those seeking the latest in head-wear, consider the Moderne Conehead Ski Cap:


The Giant Inverted Fleece Hat:


or, for those with European flair, The Purple Tweed Beret.


IV. In which We Find Yet Another Reason Why Children Should Not Use the Camera

It doesn't matter what I do, they still get hold of my camera.  And I end up with moody compositions like this:


also known as "Pink FlipFlop on the Shadow of My Heart."

And this striking bit of edible art, 


subtitled "Pretzel Bit Boat on the Back Seat of my Van."

Knitting news will have to wait for another day, especially as I'm tired and there hasn't been much progress on anything.  G'night!