Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Random Wednesday

I haven't posted a random Wednesday in awhile, so here goes. Lene had a link to this nifty little map of where you've been. Sure looks impressive when they highlight all of the US and Canada, doesn't it?

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

The same folk have another one for just the US (maybe they'll come up with one for Canada, too).

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

I'm sure that this happens to other folk out there. When I get to cleaning (which doesn't happen near often enough), I tend to run out of steam before I get to this room: my sewing room/office. This poor room just gets everything shoved into it from the rest of the house. I have one corner cleaned out, but will wait to show you the finished product.

And now for something more random than usual. I found this thing growing in my garden. Does it remind you of something?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tuesdays can really suck

Well, the inevitable happened; after dodging layoffs for the last 24 of 26 years, I got laid off today. To be honest, I'm really not entirely sure how I feel about it yet. I'm upset because I've spent a considerable portion of my life there, but on the other hand, it sure isn't the place it used to be. Only time will tell how this will work out, but work out it will.

There's going to be much investigating and planning going on around here over the next few weeks. I figure I've gotten a good start by shredding 26 years of now worthless correspondance and statements. This was really quite satisfying.

OK, I admit, I'm a bit of a packrat and have managed to put off doing this chore for quite some time. The good news, I've already gained over half a file cabinet.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Why I don't have a Saturday Sky picture

It's been a rough week around our little homestead. I (with many others) am continuing to wait to find out about job status, which will resolve itself one way or the other Tuesday. Other than I really hate waiting, I'm pretty calm about the whole thing, but it's driving DH nuts.

His week started out benignly enough, but just went downhill. Our daughter picked up all the parts needed to tune up her truck. Bright and early Wednesday morning, hubby dove in and in short order broke off two spark plugs. This is just plain bad luck, not to mention bad news. The good news is that our local mechanic could fit it in. He was able to remove the two plugs that DH broke and broke two more on his own. This made hubby feel ever so much better.

Thursday, while making his morning coffee, the coffee maker broke. They don't last too long around here between somewhat hard water and heavy use (we both love our morning, afternoon and evening coffee). Luckily, we have learned over the years that having a spare around is a good thing. He got the spare out and discovered (messily) that the coffee-snatcher lever was missing. Hubby is pretty clever, found the missing piece and got it back together.

Friday, there was another bird incident. We get many birds, I think they are starlings, that flock together in the spring and early fall. When they do this, they get extra stupid and fall down the chimney. It seems that our chimney is of such a design that doesn't lend itself to bird-proofing very well. Eventually, they work their way into the firebox of the woodstove. The usual plan is to let them flap around and get tired out. Then we reach in, grab it, and take it outside. This latest one had a bit more energy than most, so it got away, flew around the living room, crashed into a window, got chased by the dog, who knocked over a vase into a glass lamp, which broke into a jazillion pieces, the bird flew around some more, hit another window, fell down, and the dog finally caught it. But wait, there's more. Gypsy (the dog) took her prize outside, it possibly got away, she followed and discovered that her invisible fence collar was not on, so she went visiting down the street. DH realized this about the time he got a call from the neighbors who told him where she was, but take your time, the kids are having a ball playing with her.

I would have taken a Saturday Sky picture yesterday, but there really wasn't much to see other than a uniform light gray. Today, it's a slightly darker gray and wetter. Besides, it may not be a good idea to touch anything else this week.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Projects this year have included a couple of largish (for me) items like a sweater and a shawl (and both were handspun). Like many of you, I tend to toss a project to the curb when something more interesting comes along. Now that I've finished the shawl, I've decided that it's time to address these stray projects.

1. Cast on the second traveling sock
2. Mason-Dixon nightie
3. Finish up the first & cast on second Trekking sock
4. Finish up a pair of fingerless mitts
5. Figure out how to finish up a felted bag
6. Put a zipper in a small felted pouch
7. Put a lining of some kind into yet another felted bag
8. Set the twist in some recently plied yarn

I don't particularly want to contemplate the other stuff that has been pushed to the wayside lately (like dusting, vacuuming, tidying up the sewing room, weeding, trimming, vacuuming pool, defrosting freezer...). Bubba says that it's time for kitty lovins', so we must do that first.

I know there's more, but both lists are getting out of hand and bit overwhelming!

Late breaking project news...the fingerless mitts are done. This is definitely an almost instant gratification project that took me less than two evenings to complete (and part of that spent in a bar). Sometimes its good to have small hands!

Monday, August 21, 2006

KSKS has Arrived!

At the beginning of the summer, I signed up to participate in the Knit Sock Kit Swap . This was the first time I had joined up on one of these on-line swaps. I've got to say, it was as much fun creating my own kit to send out as it was anticipating what was going to show up in my own mailbox.

I know others have said that they have the best swap pal ever, but they are wrong. I do. My swap pal, Brooke, sent me the best package. It starts with this absolutely terrific felted bag. She even made it with an outside pocket. She included a notions box with some stitch markers, a row counter, needles and a stitch holder. Also in the package were 2 balls of yarn, one KnitPicks Essential in a denimy blue and one of Supersock Summer, a pattern for Elfine's socks (which look very interesting indeed) and some roving to spin. It's polypay wool which feels nice and springy (just what I like for socks). Brooke topped off this treat-filled package with some truffles and sour candies.


I admit, I love gadgets and toys. Get me into places like Ikea, Linens N Things, Bed Bath & Beyond and I'm a pretty happy camper for hours. I don't necessarily have to get anything, but I sure do enjoy poking around.

This year, we've done a bit of toy shopping. Some were replacements, like this grill: When I was growing up, grilling was reserved for the man of the house. Over time, I've discovered that I really like to do the grilling. This grill is just right for me. Not too big, lots of BTUs, 4 burners. My DH even got me a really cool magnetic light to use when it gets dark out. Sometimes I use the light as an excuse of why dinner is so late.

Earlier this year, we were at a friend's house and he is also one to collect gadgets. He had smoked ribs and chicken in one of these nifty smokers. Well, since DH and I are quite fond of BBQ, it wasn't long before we had one of our own. The flamingo is supervising today's menu: pork ribs.

Last, and definitely the most fun toy is this:

Yep, this is my new computer, a MacBook. My faithful indigo iMac blew the hard drive while I was on vacation. We decided that we would get it repaired, sell it and get this nifty little guy. DH and I are both just tickled with it. We can use it anywhere around the house as I had previously set up a wireless router for the kid (rather than running cable everywhere). It has a DVD player, so that if one of us wants to watch a movie and the other doesn't, we're good to go. I have yet to figure out all that it can do, but there's time for that!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Wisteria Hysteria (and a a bit of Sunday Sky)

I thought I had a problem on my hands. About a month ago, DH and I took after the patio to clean it up. I trimmed the wisteria (as in filled a large wheelbarrow full of clippings).
We used both chemicals and fire to win a temporary battle against the weeds coming up between the bricks. In the heat of battle, we were both a bit exhuberant with the Round-Up and the flame so that most of the lower leaves of the wisteria turned brown and fell off. Oops, I thought, I sure hope we haven't done damage to the wisteria.

I needn't have worried. In approximately one month, it grew this much:

It's a little frightening. When it gets that overgrown, I feel that perhaps it's not a good idea to sit on the patio. I also begin to think things like, "Oh my God, it's heading for the house!" and "Does insurance cover that?" Well, after checking our insurance coverage (both health and home), I got out the clippers and the ladder and came up with this:

The patio is again safe to sit on.

Oh and the bit of sky you see around the wisteria is as good as it gets this weekend. It looked the same yesterday, except that it rained all day.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Summer's Done

Well, not really, we do still have some summer left to us. Has anyone else noticed that the sun is definitely setting earlier, the nights are cooler and the Canadian Geese are starting to group together? Summer is definitely my favorite season, but I do really enjoy the changing seasons also. Each season is distinct and has it's own beauty.

The summer that is done is the Summer in Kansas shawl. I blocked it last night. Blocking lace is just magical...your heap of not much to look at turns into lace before your eyes (with the help of a whole bunch of pins).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Last week, I went to a presentation at work on separation benefits for vested employees. Our area is under the gun, so to speak, for the next round of layoffs. Even though I do not know whether or not I will have a job at the end of this month, it was a good idea to go to this presentation. Since I wasn't planning on retiring for another 7 years, and benefits can change much in that amount of time, I hadn't given much thought to my pension. I admit, I probably should have been giving more thought to it and some other investments, but things like that make my head spin.

There is currently a fairly good separation package that includes choices of how to receive your pension, retraining money, health insurance for a few months (followed by a low-cost option) and 2 weeks pay for every year worked.

Part way through, a light bulb went off in my head (and no, it wasn't just the caffeine kicking in): I have some control over my future. I do not have to make rushed decisions; there will be time to gather information. If laid off, I plan on contacting at least 2 (maybe more) financial/retirement advisors so that I have some information to make informed decisions. I also plan on contacting the college that, years ago, I started to work on a BS degree and look at other educational opportunities.

Rather than feeling a bit panicky about the future, I'm looking towards my future with a bit of anticipation.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Saturday Sky

Today was just was of those absolutely lovely late summer days. The heat has broken and it's now delightful to spend the day outside. I generally don't mind the heat, but one does get tired of dripping all the time!

I spent the day at the Valentown Peddlers Heritage Festival. Our guild was invited to demonstrate spinning. We didn't have much of a turn-out, but the few of us that were there had a very pleasant day spinning and chatting.

This festival used to be mainly an antique sale, so hubby filled the car with small pieces that I could handle. I was only able to sell a few things, so we plan on going again tomorrow since the car is still loaded. By loaded, I mean full. It's a 3-D puzzle and tomorrow morning I'll have to figure out where to put my Hitchhiker as it is currently residing on the front passenger floor. Good thing it's little.

I made up some stitch markers to try and sell. Lots of people looked at them, but no buyers. I'm not too surprised at that, since you really do need to be around a bunch of knitters for these to find homes.

Sounds like I'm going to get to goof off and spin all weekend. Dust and laundry can's much better to spin in the sunshine with friends!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

It's All Good...

I have left the black hole of knitting on my Summer in Kansas shawl. Or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I have reached the halfway point and feel that it's all downhill from here. Bubba is obviously not as excited as I am, but was somewhat amused at the happy dance!

I've even had to get more fiber from Robin and spin a bit more to have enough for the lace edging. I hope I have enough spun, but if not, I still have a couple of ounces as backup.

And now for some parental bragging: My daughter neatly ran herself and Chancey to Reserve Champion, Novice Games yesterday. She's pole bending in this picture.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Another Saturday Sky

Yee Haw! We're on a roll as here's another sky picture that made it up on-line on Saturday.

This was a really nice Saturday. I slept in (really late). Then hubby and I went off to the Park Avenue Fest. There were many nice things to look at, interesting people to look at and much yummy-looking/smelling food. However, all I came home with was some maple sugar candy (sorry Mouse) and a package of stroopwafels. Then we stopped at our favorite Mexican restaurant and had dinner.

We've tried out a new product, Off Power Pad Lamps. Since the mosquitos this year have not read the memo on not biting me, it was time to either douse oneself with repellant repellants or try something else. Son of a gun, the darn things seem to do the trick. I was able to stay outside and knit until I couldn't see anymore. Nice way to finish off a nice day!

Friday, August 04, 2006

First Yarn off the Hitchhiker

It's been pretty busy around here, so it took me awhile to complete the first skein of yarn off the new Hitchhiker. I'm really loving this little wheel for it's portability (thus saving my hubby-made wheel from further bangs against doors and such)! It even fits under the cargo deck in my PT.

I got some Wensleydale roving from my friend Joan at Cloverleaf Farms. I chose it because it's absolutely effortless to spin and I wanted to be able to concentrate on how the new wheel feels and operates. It was a great choice (another friend calls it "poor man's mohair").

After I plied it, I was afraid that I had overplied it (a lot), but after setting in slightly warm water, it looks like this:

I'm thinking that I need to ply much tighter than I have been in the past.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sock Kit Swap

I wrote this post over the weekend, but wanted to wait until my sock pal received her package to show a picture. Surprises of the yarn variety are always nice. She seems pretty pleased with her kit.

The yarn is from Cloverleaf Farms in Spencerport, NY. Joan dyes yarn and rovings in some really fabulous colorways (and I'm not just saying this 'cuz she's my friend)!

The bag was a complete change of plan. I was going to make something more pieced, but then found this fabric (that matched the yarn perfectly) in my stash. There is a feature to it, though, between the outside and lining is a plastic container. This should help prevent any needle punctures and can be set down in a damp location.

There is a package of small-sized metal needles. For those of you looking for these (at least in the States), JoAnn's Fabrics has this bulk package (000, 00, 0, 1) available in their yarn section and they send me a 40% off coupon every month. What a deal!

I managed to find my beads and put together a couple of markers. One of these days, I really have to take one of those classes at the local craft store; I have no idea what I'm doing (and it shows!).

Other goodies include a sheepy card holder, maple tea, maple sugar candy and a catnip pocket (for my "kittee's kitty"). She has other critters, but I thought it best to suck up to the ruler of the roost!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Summer Heat

OK, so maybe there's something to this global warming. It has been beastly hot here in western New York state. By that I mean highs in the upper 90's and so humid that you can work up a sweat drinking water. When I left the building at work today, I swore my eyes were going to melt. It was just heaven to get home, change and fall into the pool.

Our governer even waived the entrance fees to state parks today; many of them are either on natural water and/or have pools. We thought about taking Gypsy to Hamlin Beach State Park (on Lake Ontario), but decided that it was too much effort to drive there (about 40 minutes away). Much easier to fall back into the pool and spray Gypsy with the hose.

Besides, Gypsy would have to leave her new best buddy; meet Mr. Fan. She's been spending her days in either her "tiger trap" (large shallow hole in one of my gardens), in the basement, or in front of a conveniently placed fan.