Monday, July 21, 2008

Oh, the places I'll go?

I am a road trip junkie. I am jonesing for a fix. I have this weekend free. Where should I go? I would like to go no further than 800 miles from Cleveland, as that is two tanks of gas, and that's about as much as I'd like to spend. I can also drive all day Friday, spend the day at my destination on Saturday, then drive back on Sunday. So.... Where should I go? Any suggestions are appreciated. Current thoughts: Mammoth Cave, KY; Minneapolis, MN, just driving west until I can't drive anymore.....

On a side note, Zuzu has an addiction problem. I am growing some kitty grass (oats and barley) for her, and lately she has been staring at the container hoping for a fix. This morning, she did not want breakfast, but she wanted kitty grass. I was trying to sleep, but she would not let me snooze. Finally, she climbed onto the table (she is not allowed on tables) to get to the kitty grass container. She pulled the whole seed bed out of the container and made a bit of a mess. I put the grass on the tall counter behind the sink, and it was out of sight, out of mind. Once she couldn't see her kitty grass anymore, she ate her breakfast.

Also, bought more cheap yarn last night. Three sweaters' worth of yarn for $60. Can't beat it. Will link to prospective patterns in the near future.

Oh well, work is calling, so off I go.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's true - pictures get more attention than words

In response to the comments from my last post:

Mary, if I ever get off my butt and make some T-shirts, you will get one. I'll have to bring you cookies at some point, too. Also, glad you took a kitteh. I hope Bobble comes out from under the fridge!

ChickenLil, yes, you are a slacker! :-) I tagged Ktb with the meme you tagged me for. I could probably come up with 7 more random things, but I am a slacker, too, and don't feel like going back to see what I posted originally. So I'm going to ignore the circular tagging, at least for now.

Emmms, the sock yarn is JL Yarn's Salvia. No idea what they are calling the colorways, but I call them autumn/harvest and winey. And the "Sun Tea" yarn was dyed with grape kool-aid. The colors split when you leave it alone for a while. Not sure if you're familiar with Sun Tea, but that's when you throw teabags in a clear glass container filled with water, cover it, and let it sit in the sun all day. So no, I don't drink purple tea. Or kool-aid.

And finally, Ktb, thanks for the compliment on the yarn. I am still thrilled that you adopted Miss Marple, too. I think I have a new career, as a kitteh pusher.

Anyway, consider the contest from the last post closed - Mary is the only winner, as she is the only one that read to the end and mentioned cookies. I might consider sending cookies to Ktb, but we'll see.

Speaking of contests, there's one you should know of. Brittany is running a contest to celebrate the opening of her Amia Yarn Company, and giving away some beautiful yarn. Love the butterscotch! May also need to pick up a yarn bowl. Anyway, enter!

So what has happened around here lately? The Indians broke their 10-game losing streak on Stitch and Pitch night! My mom visited last weekend, and we didn't actually do all that much. We spent Friday evening hanging out on the deck (with Zuzu in her harness), Saturday we visited a cross stitch shop in Akron, my favorite garden store in Fairlawn (The Precocious Dandelion), and then went to the Rock Hall, after stopping at home to visit Zuzu and wait out the rain. We'd hoped to visit Wade Chapel on Sunday, but it rained all morning, so I made sugar-free cinnamon rolls instead. Mom was quite happy to have cinnamon rolls with frosting that she could eat. I'm not all that thrilled with the Splenda taste, but hey, Mom deserves Happy Birthday Cinnamon Rolls, too.

Monday was knitting, as always a nice time. Tuesday was SAAZ Night Out at 69 Taps. Fun evening, although the frosty glasses were freezer-burnt and the Oberon was old. Skipped WOW on Wednesday, since Mike left me again this weekend. I ended up with a surprise afternoon off, so I played with the kittens and watched Jen dye yarn. I have been trying to spend time with the kittens before the Forever Friends Foundation takes them away. Of the five kittens, Mary adopted one yesterday, and Jen is going to keep at least one, possibly two.

Mike went to Athens on Friday for Ohio Beer Week. I was very jealous that he could have as many Burrito Buggy burritos as he wanted, and I could not. Friday evening, Jen and I had some much-needed yarn therapy, and visited a family that is moving overseas and selling a yarn shop's worth of yarn. We each walked out with enough yarn for several projects - and we hope to go back today. I have looked at my Ravelry queue, and will get yarn for several sweaters.

Yesterday was another Adventure in Yarn Dyeing. Valerie sent me a HUGE box of handspun yarn for dyeing and felting. I have some Jacquard Acid Dyes on order, but they haven't arrived yet, so the dyeing experiments involved kool-aid and Wilton's cake dyes. Mary and Jen came over to play. Quite a fun afternoon, and the perfect day for it. Afterwards, we ordered pizza and played with the kittens before Mary took one home.

pile of yarn with Zuzu
Yarn from Valerie. Zuzu is included to provide scale.

test hand-dyed handspun
Dyed handspun. Kool-aid on the left, Wilton gel on the right

I will be making a bag or kitty bed from the dyed yarn, to see how it felts. Yarn has been wound into a giant ball, and I cast on in the round, but haven't really started knitting yet. I have too many projects going on right now!

Oh! I should talk about some of the other wonderful things that showed up in the mail this week. Got some goodies in a sock-knitters' swap, as well as a surprise from Norway. (I am really getting to know our mail carrier.)

zelda mittens
Beautiful zebra mittens from Elin, to match Zelda, the zebra hat she sent me earlier this year.

sssk swap
Swap goodies from Sherry. Love the sock yarn, and looking forward to testing the Paula Deen cookbook!

Have a road rage story to share. Was merging onto the express lanes of 271N. There was a guy, also merging, behind me, that wanted to go faster than I did. One would think that since there was no one in the left lane, he would have merged into the right lane behind me and then immediately moved into the left lane to pass. No. He stayed in the on/off lane, on the right. I had cruise control on, and did not change my speed. Apparently I was supposed to move into the left lane to allow him to merge, because he sped up just before the off lane ended, and stuck his hand out of the window to flip me off. Could I have changed lanes? Of course. Should I have moved into the left so that the angry guy could pass me on the right? You tell me.

What else? Have been hanging out around the house today, knitting, even. We had planned to visit a friend in Kent, but scheduling has been an issue. Waiting on a callback about the yarn, and will hopefully later tonight. I have not yet taken pictures of the yarn that I bought, but I will... I am lacking lots of pictures. Maybe that is how I will spend the afternoon. Or trying a strawberry cake experiment. We'll see. I should post this so I can get moving on to something else...

I will leave you with today's token cute Zuzu picture. No, that is not my leg.

kitty stretch
Stretchy Zuzu

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Where does the time go?

Wow. Where has the time gone? I understand the passage of time, but the way the days just add up and suddenly a month is gone just baffles me. And really, I am not normally as grumpy as the last post would have me seem.

So what has happened in the last three weeks? A lot. Aside from having several miserable days at work, I've actually had a lot of fun. So yes, this will be quite the long post.

The weekend of the 20th was quite busy. Mike went to the National Homebrewing Competition and Conference in Cincinnati, so I was alone, but not unoccupied. Friday night was "Hamlet" with the knitting group. Mike called around 10 to check in, and I told him I went to see a boy. Hamlet's a boy, right? Saturday brought the Kirtlandia meeting in the morning, lunchtime with Zuzu and a trip to JoAnn with Jen, and dinner was a potluck at Elizabeth's. From Parma on Friday to University Circle and Elyria on Saturday - I did a lot of driving!

I skipped knitting the next week, because I needed to spend some time around the house - Kelly was coming to visit! For those of you who don't know, we've been BFF's since we were 8, which is more years than I care to acknowledge. Her plane landed around noon on the 26th, and thankfully I escaped work with just a few moments to spare. Kudos to CHIA for having 30 minute free parking!

You know when friends are visiting from out of town, there's a lot to do. On Thursday, we went to Melt for lunch. YUM! I will be going back there. After lunch, we visited the Christmas Story House. Which was fun, but I don't know that I'll do it again. I will go back to the gift shop and museum, though - must have some leg lamp chocolate bars. I refrained from buying any that day, as I didn't want them to melt in the car. After that, we stopped at Friendly's for ice cream, as a Rav-friend had been promoting their Reese's cup sundae. Yes, it is quite tasty. Thursday night, we went to the Rocky River Brewing Company for dinner with Mary and her friend Marcia, although I didn't eat much, as the ice cream had filled my tummy. The beer was great, though. As I've said many times, Matt Cole makes good stuff. Most exciting news of the day? I taught Kel to knit while we sat at the bar waiting for our friends. Mary's friend Marcia was especially amazed to find us knitting at the bar.

Friday was another long day. Off to Tommy's for brunch, the Natural History Museum in the afternoon, Indian food for dinner with Mary, and then back to Parma for "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead." The Cleveland Shakespeare Festival was playing that and "Hamlet" in repertory, which works quite well, as many of the characters overlap, and those with bit parts in one have larger roles in the other. I can now share details of one bit of my secret knitting - I finished the sun as part of the Mobile Menagerie that the knitting group was making for Patti's baby shower. The pattern was a bit odd, and suggested making the sun in two halves, and grafting together. I made one piece, as my grafting skills are not that advanced. Worst part of the whole thing was the embroidery on the face. I was not very happy at first, but was either satisfied or got tired of the attempts. What do you think? Thanks to Megan for the picture. (I didn't have time to take one before the mobile was assembled)

sun on mobile

At the play, started another big alpaca blanket. It's good mindless knitting, which keeps the hands occupied while the brain is elsewhere. And a quick knit - I started it on the 27th, and am more than halfway done. Not sure who will get this one, but unless Zuzu steals it, it will be a Christmas gift. No pictures yet, but they will follow eventually.

Saturday morning, we were off early to visit Woolfest. I was somewhat disappointed, as there weren't very many vendors, and Kelly wasn't really inspired by any of the yarn. She bought a pair of alpaca socks, though. I found some nice sock yarn, and some Classic Alpaca. Jessica made a pair of socks out of that, and I couldn't stop petting them. I might make some socks with it, or I might make something else. Not sure. Whatever I make, it will be very pettable.

Woolfest haul
Woolfest goodies

After a light lunch, we were off to Patti's baby shower. It was wonderful to see Patti again. She'd been in Georgia since just before her husband came back from Iraq, which was in April. We've missed her! Sadly, Kelly got a migraine and lost her lunch, so we drove home through the rain and vegged the rest of the afternoon. She woke up around dinnertime, and it was off to the Lizard.

Sunday morning we slept in. Well, Kelly slept in. As always, I have a kitty to wake me. We listened to Chasing Infinity (a Sunday morning ritual in the Zuzu household - thanks, Ed, for playing the Zoo song!) and dyed some yarn. It was my first time dyeing, and obviously Kelly's as well. Jen had provided several useful links and documents, and after reviewing a few of them, I decided that the microwave method would work best. We used Kool-aid of varying colors, and dyed Kashmira yarn that felt like noodles when wet. I think we got some good results! We also used some Fisherman's Wool to try the Sun Tea method with grape Kool-aid, as supposedly its dyes break down well.

kool-aid kashmira
Yarn dyed with kool-aid. Note Zuzu snoozing in the background.

fisherman's wool - grape sun tea
Sun tea yarn

We left the yarn to dry, and went to Aladdin's for lunch. Then it was off to the zoo! Tradition held, and we were rained on. (For those of you not in the know, when we went to Sea World it rained all day. We were soaked. Therefore we sat in the front row of the Shamu Show.) We had some good weather, though, and I think the threat of rain kept the crowds down. We had fun visiting the animals - it was only Kelly's second trip to a zoo, ever!

Oh yeah, I guess this is where I should say that Mike left us for the weekend. He went to Origins in Columbus. Funny, we were both at the Columbus Convention Center in June. He got home just in time to bring the yarn in out of the rain. We stopped at Romeo's on the way home to pick up pizza for dinner. Good stuff.

Monday we visited the Rock Hall, which is always fun. Went to Great Lakes Brewing for lunch, and then wandered around Whiskey Island for a while. Always nice to look at the lake for a bit. After that, we headed over to the Beer Engine for knitting. We were there early, so we got a good bit of knitting done before the rest of the group arrived. I made a few kitty toys for Sebastian, Kel's cat, and worked on the big blanket.

Tuesday morning we slept in, and headed to the Brew Kettle for lunch. (Yes, I made Kelly drink many beers during her visit. She has become a muscadine wine snob, and I wanted to make sure she knew about all of the beer varieties available!) Then it was off to the airport, and poof, she was gone.

Tuesday afternoon I hung out with Jessica, and we saw WALL-E. Cute movie, with several "Idiocracy"-type digs, and some 80s pop culture references. She'd had jury duty, and they finished Tuesday around lunchtime. Spent Tuesday evening with Mike, which was nice, since I'd hardly seen him during Kel's visit. Somehow, July started.

Worked two days, and went to WOW with the knitting group on the 2nd. Didn't do very much for the 4th; just hung out at home on Friday, and spent some time with friends on Saturday. Oh, used the weekend to knit a bag for a swap. On Sunday, Jen and Nick called and asked for help capturing the stray kittens in their back yard. These guys are so cute! And they need homes. Does anyone want a kitten? (Jen took the pictures)


Anyway, kitten capture wasn't as difficult as capturing mama cat. Mama got trapped, but then escaped when they tried to transfer her into the carrier. She is quite nimble, and climbed up the walls of their garage into the eaves. Apparently she has escaped the garage, and has been hanging out near where Jen and Nick are keeping the kittens. The daddy cat has also been hanging around - we are wondering if mama cat is planning to have more babies in the near future. If all goes well, mama will be trapped again and fixed, so no more stray kittens.

We are nearly caught up! Went to knitting on Monday at Abuelo's, and to the zoo with Mary last night for ZooFriends night. We walked quite a bit, then stopped at Rockne's for a late dinner. I'd never been there before, and was pleasantly surprised with their food. Granted, they had very few vegetarian options, but the fruit salad was quite nice. I am told that their soups are good, but did not ask if they were vegetarian or not. The mushroom and brie soup sounds quite tasty, if I can eat it.

Oh, on Tuesday I started test-knitting a sock pattern for Emmms. Because I can't follow directions, I ripped out the toe Wednesday morning and started over that afternoon. When I remembered how to read, the toe went much more smoothly. I haven't made it past the increases yet onto the foot of the sock, but I am further along than I'd gotten when I decided to frog. Snapped a needle and gouged another, so it is now Magic Loop for me! I had pondered scrapping her three-needle directions, but was going to continue for the sake of testing the pattern, but my needles have forced me to go ML. Pictures will follow when there's something to show. Until then, here is the yarn:

mountain colors bearfoot - juniper
Mountain Colors Bearfoot, in Juniper

Tonight is Stitch and Pitch with the Indians! Let's hope they can play a good game against the Devil Rays. Worst case scenario, I will get to visit with other knitters, including the HS girls I taught during the school year, and work on Emmms's sock.

This weekend, Mike is again leaving me, and my mom is coming to visit. He will be hanging out in Pittsburgh, with his message board pals, and Mom will be taking the turnpike west to Ohio. I know she wants to have some projects framed, so we will go on a framing spree, and maybe I can frame some of my projects and posters that I've ignored for quite a while. Should be productive, and Mom and I always have fun.

Oh! I should share the excitement. Have I mentioned Zuzu's Chipmunk Friend, Alejandro? (I was listening to Alejandro Escavedo when he told me his name.) Well, Alejandro has been spending time on our deck recently, helping himself to the sunflower seeds in the bird feeder. Apparently Alejandro is a gardener, because he planted little clusters of sunflowers in several of my vegetable plant containers as well as all around the house! I have a photo essay on my flickr, if you would like to see how Zuzu and Alejandro interact. And for good measure, here's a preview:

vulture kitty

Well, the other morning, Zuzu was running frantically from the sliding glass door to the window and back. I wasn't sure what was out there attracting her attention, but I knew she had a Mystery Friend out there. Mike discovered on Tuesday that Mystery Friend is a raccoon. Rocky Raccoon was coming up on the deck and eating the sunflower seeds, too, right from the bag in which they are kept. The seed bag is no longer on the deck, and the bird feeder is no longer on the ground. Sorry, Alejandro, but you will need to climb if you want seeds. We don't want Rocky's sort around. Yes, we are species-ist. Raccoons and skunks are welcome to live in the woods and back yard, but are not welcome in the house, and since the deck is an extension of the house, they are not welcome there. I don't want my sweet, innocent (non-rabid!) little kitty to be corrupted by their sort. Chipmunks are fine; they are cute and good gardeners. And non-threatening to the Zuzu.

Anyway, I should move along. Kudos to you if you've read so far. Maybe I should post a contest here at the bottom, to see who is paying attention. I will send cookies to the first three people to comment or send me an email about this small, silly contest, as long as you promise me that you read *the whole thing*. Maybe I should even make T-shirts that say "I can't believe I read the whole thing!" Or "I read a huge blog post about mostly nothing and all I got was this lousy T-shirt." Thoughts? I will laugh if no one comments. Anyway, I am off to straighten up the house a bit. Have fun!