Thursday, January 30, 2014

So THIS is How You Treat Kids??

Disturbing news from Utah. Apparently, rather than -- oh, I don't know -- not humiliating kids, a school in Utah decided to rip their lunches out from under their noses because their school fees weren't paid. In front of the entire student body. Click HERE to read the story. 

And they think that's ok. Look, if you have 40 families who haven't paid, you contact the families. And they give us a song and dance about how it was "over the weekend" when they found out. So it would've cost them to feed the kids? It cost them to throw the lunches away. 

Barbaric bullies. 

I understand that on some internet forums where this is posted, the comments are horrendous. Because, apparently in some folks' eyes, it's perfectly FINE to just whip a lunch out from under a kid in the middle of a crowded cafeteria. 

Because, by GOD we can't have those little (sputter, sputter, sputter) TAKERS mooching off the system. Because, by GOD - we have to show them how to pull themselves up by their BOOTSTRAPS. Because, by GOD - we have to show them we mean business.

So we, actually, THEY, the party of "right" and "christian," bully kids. Nice. Classy.

Still Winter...

Yep. I was slightly mistaken. The Polar Vortex stuff may stick with us till MARCH says Mr. Skilling. Here's what it looks like outside my window. It's blowing so hard that my window (actually, my east wall is a window) is "wobbling." Actually not wobbling like it's going to fall out, but just making noise because of the wind gusts, which are around 21 mph or so. 

video


We're under a "Special Weather Statement" that is now coupled with a "Winter Storm Watch." Basically: go into your home and don't come out till March! Gusting, blowing snow. Drifts. Ice where the snow polishes the road. This video is actually out my back door, and it was before it got to where it is now, which is pretty interesting. 

Knitting...

Taking another day off from knitting. Since we're in "winter weather lock-down" I figure I can get a bunch done on the afghan tomorrow. I'm not going anywhere. I do have to work Saturday, so I can even bring it then. 

I can't wait to do something -- ANYTHING -- other than this afghan, or frankly, ANY other afghan for a while. I need something quick and easy. Not that the afghan isn't easy, but it's surely not quick. 

Yoga...

So I'm going to take a couple of seminars. Some have to be taken to finish my certification, but there's a Feldenkrais workshop which doesn't count toward master hours, but does sound interesting. Feldenkrais is a kind of body work which enables you to more efficiently use your body to do your daily activities. 

I think that, since so many people are asking for gentle yoga and we're seeing more people either injured or recovering from injury - and also older folks, maybe this is a good thing to look at. I'm going to take it with my local teacher, which is exciting. 

Estate Drama...

So the other nephew is bugging my brother and I to GET THE CAR TRANSFERRED TO ME NOW!!! (Picture stomping foot of toddler here) 

Apparently, and I don't even want to know this much, he needs the aged car transferred to his name ASAP. Trouble is (a) it's currently registered in Indiana; and (b) he wants to do this TODAY and we need certified copies of documents, which he needs to send for. 

Bottom line is, this isn't happening today. And not likely tomorrow either. 

The kicker? He says to my brother, "Well, I can't take care of all of this because I work." 

Funny - that's the excuse Dead Brother used to use to get out of doing stuff he didn't want to do. 

I hate drama. 

Random Picture...


Quinn's nose. That is all. 
Quinn's nose

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

So Much Going On...

I live in "How do you people..." land
Well, it's been almost a week since I blogged and during that time, things have been busy.

The weather continues to be "Winter" and the government continues to be "Stalled" and life continues to be "Busy."

Winter...

The Polar Vortex continued through yesterday. At least the January Edition. According to my favorite meteorologist, Tom Skilling, we'll get at least one more round sometime in February. 

Oh well. I guess when it's warmer in BARROW, ALASKA than in my home town, we've gotta get used to things being different. 

So far, the HVAC in my campus is working just fine. And nothing at home has gone sideways. 
Toy Box

Raisa is enjoying the snow, as you can see... 

And when the temps get to darned-near "tropical" (I mean "above-zero") I can actually get out on a walk and breathe!

Why on earth I spend money on dog toys is beyond me... My husky Topaz used to play with milk jugs. 

In the extreme wind on Monday, our lazy neighbor, who can't be bothered to mash down his recyclables, had stuff blowing all over. I can go out and pick it up, and so will Hubby. But it bugs me because it blows into Mr. K's yard, and I think it's disrespectful of the Lazy Neighbor...Mr. K is an elderly gent and he shouldn't have to deal with that kind of garbage from a guy who's younger than we are, but just too blasted lazy to move his substantial rear end. 

So anyway, Raisa and I went outside in the front yard and she found the box. She thought she should kill it. Or at least maim it a bit. Then she chased leaves. Then she plowed her face into the snow. I had Kid #2 outside with me, and he took that shot. She moves so fast, and I had to manage the long lead so she wouldn't trip either of us.

Super Bowl...

Yeah, shocking. But it's about the commercials. Mostly. This absolutely "cry in your beer" Bud ad is adorable. 

I can't believe it took them this long to make something like this. I have a soft spot for horses, and I would happily spend my days shoveling manure. Especially these big guys? They're just gigantic dogs... And to me, dogs + horses -- they just go together. I tried to embed the video but I was probably doing something wrong. So click on the "ad" word in the paragraph above and just watch the very adorable commercial. 

When you think about your next dog, please think adoption rather than going to a breeder. Not that I don't want breeders to succeed. No. In fact, a responsible breeder is the dog world's best friend. It's the back yard folks, the puppy-mill suppliers, and the retailers who'll do anything to sell you a dog and then wash their hands of it. THOSE people drive me up a wall. Go to your local shelter. Seek out a breed rescue.

And if you do go with a breed rescue, for the love of Dog... Do some research. Make sure you know what you're getting. Consider all ages, too...elderly dogs (heck, even middle-aged ones) have a lot of love to give you. 

Music...

So our two new "big pieces" to learn are Mozart's Lacrimosa from his Requiem, and Bach's Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring in the arrangement by Alan Ridout. Hubby has again availed himself (and me) of his lovely Sibelius program and I've got the sheet music here and the alto part set up as a wave file. I am not a piano player, and I have a hard time since as the (usually) sole alto, I'm getting blown out of the water by the sopranos and the baritones. So this helps me a great deal. 

As soon as our cleaner leaves the campus, I'll be cranking up some Mozart! She thought I was nuts learning Pie Jesus and some of the other stuff that I had to learn, but this is the best way I can do it -by pounding it into my head till I can hear it - and sing it - in my sleep.

Lacrimosa is in Latin. Jesu is in English.

And speaking of music, rest in peace, Pete Seeger. Here's a link to one of his more controversial songs. Unfortunately, the government was able to muzzle him. But this song, "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" is - sadly - relevant today. 

I have a problem with the "big fool" reference -- in my opinion, I'm thinking it's the platoon leader, but apparently, back in the day when Seeger was supposed to sing this on television, someone at CBS yanked it because "the big fool" was determined to be LBJ - this song technically references the Vietnam War, but if you substitute some dessert pictures where there's jungle? Well, same song, different war.

I'm listening to "The Village" on Sirius, doing a retrospective on Mr. Seeger. 

Knitting...

So I washed the Kauri hat. I had perhaps a reaction to the brush-tail possum in the yarn. It couldn't have been Raisa because I haven't worn the hat in a week, except for about 1 hour, after I washed it in shampoo. Problem is, it's lovely but not warm enough for -15* temperatures. 

I went to the Meijer because they had a sale and I had cabin fever. I thought, "Ok, I'll get a hat while I'm out there, because I can't find any of my other ones." I do have Sonda's Yarn hat, but it's sock yarn...way too thin! I still can't find my rolled-brim baby alpaca hat. It's in a bag somewhere. 

And my earmuffs weren't working; they kept joggling my bifocals and giving me a headache. 

At the Meijer, there were 2 kinds of hats: some stupid acrylic puffy-thing in the women's department that wouldn't keep a polar bear warm. And blaze orange men's hunting beanies. 

Oh - and entire RACKS of "Imabeach" bikinis. Gotta love retail. It's -2* outside and they're switching to spring/summer. I couldn't believe my eyes. 

Simple Hat
We got home and I dove into the stash and while I considered the Dog Yarn, I found this. It's Paton's Classic Wool, 100% "pure new wool" (as opposed to "old" wool???) and the colorway is Wedgewood. It's 77011, I think. 

I doubled the yarn, got out my Simple Hat Calculator (thank you Google!) and went down one size from the Kauri hat. This fits much better. I did a 3" k1, p1 brim, then went back up 2 stitches for a total of 86 or so, and knitted. For 2 days. I started this hat on January 27, and I finished it by the 9 p.m. news on Tuesday night, the 28th. 

My hands hurt. But my head is warm. I like how I can turn up the bottom brim; keeps my ears and the back of my neck really warm. It's a tad "poufy" in the back, now that I look at the picture, but I don't care. 

Now, I have to (a) not lose it; and (b) not FELT it! Initially, I thought about doing a huge felted hat, but they take about 4 days to dry. I also did buy a wig-head, just to reshape hats as I make them. So when I looked at felted hats, all I found was stuff that had brims. I wanted a beanie. I have some lovely grey Patons, so I might just yet do a brimmed hat. But for now, in the Polar Vortex? I don't even care about "hat head." I want warm. 

This Simple Hat Calculator is GENIUS. My gauge was a little off, but I don't really care. It's easy enough to have a template for a basic hat and I can knit these from stash as much as I want. 

Afghan in progress
This one was started on size 8 DPNs, I moved to a size 7 circular, then did the decreases (as I needed) back on the size 8 DPNs. It's weird but because of the colorway and the doubled yarn, I'm cool. It works. 

So now my hands hurt. I'm giving myself a few days off the Nephew Afghan. I have it in a bowl (sort of) and I finally did get to the last ball of the Navy. The Navy and Taupe seem to have different yardage; there's probably about 3 or 4 yards of that Taupe in the bowl left, so I figure about 4 more repeats and then I'll be on the last ball of Taupe. 

For those of you who need it - I'd recommend a lovely bowl for a "yarn keeper" - just grab one out of your cupboard. Kid #2 made me a lovely yarn bowl, but it's not meant for those bigger projects. 

I still may make it for the wedding... and if not, they get a picture of it and an IOU. 

I want to start knitting out of stash right now. As soon as I finish the Nephew Afghan, I have promised Kid #2 that I will do at least 10 more rows on his afghan. I should probably make a list. Well, I have a list somewhere. But I ought to get it out and find the WIPs. 

Here's a plan. On Saturdays, since I have to be at work anyway, and nobody else is on the Main Campus, I'll bring a WIP. Either a sock, or Kid #2's afghan, or some other project. I guess that means I'd better go and make sure that in the project bags, the pattern is stuck in there somewhere. That would be helpful. I know I have a green tie for Kid #2. 

Kid #1 already has his afghan. I've been procrastinating for Kid #2. He's calling me out on it now... I suppose I'd better get a move-on. 

But first I need to rest up from the Hat Marathon. Of course, now my mom wants me to make her one. 

Nit to Pick...

IL unemployment rates
Ok, I get that sometimes everyone has to take a bite out of the "crap-sandwich" that is life sometimes. Sometimes you're the bird, sometimes you're the statue. And all those other aphorisms that tell us that no, life's not a picnic.

But sometimes, someone gets more than his fair share of the poop-sicle. That would be Kid #1. He lost his job because the "Christmas shut-down" turned into "We're laying you all off" and the State of Illinois hasn't paid one dime of unemployment. They gave him an 800-number and said, "See if you can figure it out." Nice. 

And then yesterday he called me in desperation. The truck blew up. I ended up going out to get him, got the truck towed to the garage and we waited on what the diagnosis would be. I tried to be positive, saying, "Hey maybe it's just a hose." 

It's a cracked block. As in "replace the engine if you're dumb enough to pay us nearly $5,000 on a 14-year-old truck" cracked block. As in, "You can probably replace the TRUCK for what it would cost you to replace the engine." 

Luckily (and that's a stretch - so far, all he's had is BAD luck), his girlfriend K's mom has a car he can borrow for the short term. And, fingers crossed, my brother D has found him a temporary job. Temporary as in "it's not fabrication work, but you can at least make money and study for your CWI exam." We'll know Tuesday. 

Please send some good vibes for the kid. He needs it. 

Here's the thing: The only job lead he's had is as a delivery driver for Papa John's. For $8/hour. Which wouldn't have put gas in the now-dead truck. It's like bailing out the Titanic with a teaspoon. 

Conservatives like to say that this generation of kids is "entitled." They feel they are "owed." Not really. They want to work. Heck, even Kid #2 says there are at least a half-dozen of his own college classmates who still don't have TEACHING jobs. 

My oldest kid is 30 years old. We have a generation who are so far behind the 8-ball that they may never recover economically. We think that MY generation will be working till we drop dead. These kids may not get out of the gate. 

I would like to ram this down the throat of conservatives who blame it all on President Obama. THEY are the ones who only want to tank the economy so they can blame the black guy in the White House. As long as their corporate overlords are running this country into the crapper, these guys don't care. 

Random Picture...

This is MY knitting chair. Not Raisa's. But she apparently thinks it is. Ummmmmm. No. Get out of my chair, dog. 

We're having a bit of trouble with Tippi & Quinn. They got into a pretty huge fight on Monday, which resulted in Kid #2 and me running out the door to the kennel, and finding Raisa in the corner with an "OMG" look on her face, Hubby red-faced and having both Elkhounds in a headlock. He was on his butt in the snow. Both dogs were still "fur up and teeth out" and could easily have wriggled out and started again. I think that with 3 humans out there, we were at least able to get the situation under a temporary detente. 

MY chair!
I grabbed a snow shovel on the way to the kennel just in case we needed to separate dogs. It's pretty dangerous, even if they're your own dogs, to shove your hands into a dog fight. And it was pretty nasty. Normally, a loud KNOCK IT OFF will stop them. But not Monday. I grabbed Quinn's leash and collar and got it on her and darned if the little snot wasn't going to take another shot at Tippi.

But... It was TIPPI who apparently instigated this debacle. We switched dogs, because Tippi is scared of me (in a good way) and we got everyone inside. I shoved Tippi into her crate, which she did NOT appreciate, and Quinn also got shoved in hers. Everyone got a time-out. 

Then today, as I got up, I greeted them in the hall, and darned if TIPPI didn't growl at Quinn. Again. She got whapped with my Kindle because that's what I had in my hand. And Hubby says they're still pretty tense. 

I don't know. They've had a couple of doozies in the 4 years we've had them. But I don't know whether this is due to Raisa or if it's another mother-daughter thing. People I've talked to have said that mother-daughter stuff can be ugly - and I can attest to that. 

Right now, Hubby takes them out to do their thing, but doesn't let them off the leash. They're stalking around each other and we're not sure what's going on in their brains. We're seriously considering having our trainer come to the house to evaluate the situation. 

Any suggestions are welcome!
 







Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Endless Afghan...

I do not know how my Granny did it. So many afghans, both big and little ones. I'm sorry - I'm sooooooooooo over the Nephew Afghan! Now, I'm wondering why I ever took this on. And why it's a family tradition - well, that's my fault. Why couldn't I just do "wedding pillows" or something???

Perhaps for the next one, I'll start it now, and do it in neutral colors so that it won't matter. Just so I'm not on an afghan deadline. Afghan deadlines are the worst. I can think of about a dozen things I'd rather be doing than knitting on this thing. Up to and including CLEANING - anything... 

Today in History...

In 1964, the 24th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, eliminating the poll tax in federal elections. That was only 50 years ago. That could be someone's lifetime. 

Kiddos - a poll tax is an evil thing. And if conservatives have their way, we'll go back toward that. A poll tax was a tax set on people - one per head - to be able to vote. You see, we have the right to vote. But that's mainly us white folks. The poll tax was a great way to keep black folks from voting, as they usually couldn't afford the tax. Measly though it might seem now, a poll tax of a dollar was something back in the 1800s and even in the 1930s. A dollar was something big. 
Poll tax receipt

Here's what a poll tax receipt looks like. Study it, kids. And learn. This one is from 1964, from the state of Texas. You know - that great progressive state to our south. (Sorry -- I can dream, right?)  You see that it shows that Miss Kinsey is a white female, age 23. See, the thing is, poll taxes are a really good way to disenfranchise certain demographics. The poor, mostly. And the poor generally don't vote "the right" way - Republican, I mean. So, in this day and age, we really probably can't get away with an in-your-face poll tax. But hey - what we CAN do is gerrymander. 

To gerrymander is to set the boundaries for a particular precinct or geographical area to more heavily favor a certain party. And make no mistake, Democrats do this, too. But lately, with the Republican party chipping away at the Voting Rights Act, they're just the ones being more obvious. I mean, look at this graphic for a gerrymandered district. This is District 4 right here in Illinois. 

One would think that a voting district would have some geographical relevance, right? You'd be wrong. It's got POLITICAL relevance. Geography? Why bother? I mean, technically, there's no way that this district should be U-shaped. But it is. Because it heavily favors the Democratic party. And while I'm a Democrat, I have to say that this is insane. Here is an article showing, once again, that Illinois is the butt of political jokes. IL District 4 is a national poster child for dysfunctional drawing of districts. 

But hey - it gets Luis Gutierrez reelected. And it hasn't been challenged yet. 

And honestly? The Republicans aren't going to do any better. 

So what's a voter to do? 

Get off your rear end, for starters. Yes, it's early, but that means you have plenty of time to do your research. Look at the candidates running for local, state and federal offices. Do some digging. Decide what means the most to you and then go support the candidate you feel supports that issue.

I don't care, honestly, if you're one party or the other. The political inequality in this country is horrible, and with the Tea Party shoving the Republicans off the cliff all in favor of some restrictive, theocratic, run-by-old-white-guys government? Well, that's kind of their problem. 

It is, however, time for the sane people to reclaim this country. Take for example, this woman running against Jan Schakowsky. God, apparently, is mad at the US. So S/He sends us plagues in the form of autism and dementia. Because of gay marriage. 

Here's my biggest problem, aside from the fact that she's an idiot: "I'm a conservative Republican, and I believe in God first," she says. Ummmmmmmmmmm. No. Sorry - you may BELIEVE that, but that does not entitle you to hold public office. As a matter of fact, it's a disqualifier. You may NOT push YOUR religion down MY throat. 

Here, my dear, is how it's done, courtesy of now-Secretary of State John Kerry, when he was a senator:

“Too many people in America believe that if you are pro-choice that means pro-abortion. It doesn't. I don't want abortion. Abortion should be the rarest thing in the world. I am actually personally opposed to abortion. But I don't believe that I have a right to take what is an article of faith to me and legislate it to other people. That's not how it works in America.”


Notice the highlighted area. Then, see that last line?? "That's not how it works in America." That goes back all the way to our First Founder, George Washington. The United States of America is not, and was not ever meant to be, a Christian nation. 

Just wasn't. So all you conservative uber-Christians who want to have "less government" unless it means getting yourself into our bedrooms? You can't. It's not happening. 

The rest of us really need to get out and do our homework. We can't let the clock turn back. We could easily become India. Apparently, tribal elders decided that gang rape, in public, was an appropriate punishment for a girl in an "inappropriate" relationship. 

I could go on. But it's nauseating, and I think you get my point. 

Raisa Howls...

For your random picture/cute puppy thing today, I have a video of Hubby teaching Raisa to howl. The look on Quinn's face is amazing. "HOW is all that sound coming from that puppy???" 

She can howl just fine, actually. But it's fun when they talk back to you. Of course I say that now; I may regret that. I hope her voice mellows out. Right now, it's very piercing and "yappy." She has not yet learned to howl when the Elkhounds bark. Thankfully. 

Yet. It could happen. You never know. 

Other Than Knitting...

videoWe're under a wind-chill warning. As we speak, here near Joliet, it's 4*F and it "feels like" -13*F. We may get all the way down to -30*F with wind... I was talking to our campus police chief, and he said he remembers the snow more than this kind of cold. 

I believe he's right. I remember snow and lots of "below zero" days, but not too many in the double-digits; and certainly not this kind of string of -20 being "the norm."

It's supposed to be like this till next Tuesday or thereabouts. I can handle the cold, but I can also say that I'm not used to being outside in THIS kind of cold.

As far as my brother's estate, the final tax returns have been prepared, and it looks like we'll be able to wind it up on schedule. Thank goodness. I'll be glad to have this done. I've sorted through everything and I have the "not important crap" and the "important crap." I will be shredding a lot of stuff, that's for sure. 

And otherwise, I'll be entering at least one of my France pics in our local photo contest. I'll have to keep you updated on how that goes. It's an "artsy" thing so I'm not sure. One person won an award last year for a picture of a couch on the street. Not so sure where that's coming from, but I've been told before that I'm entirely "too literal." 

I'm certainly not "artsy" and I don't get a lot in the art world. But we'll see if anyone has any affection for some gorgeous scenery. 




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Progress. Some Slow. Some Fast

So the hat is done. Yippee!!! This was the Kauri hat - the one I frogged what? Two or three times? So I ended up doing it in a more plain style. It's a tad big, but I can work with that. It's toasty, but I could use more "warm" around my ears. 
DPNs

See the decreases? Sorry - like turning a heel, hat decreases still jazz me. So I'd do another, but I'd take it down one size. I have some superwash wool and I'd just do a "scrap hat" to use it up. 

And the button? It's a button, but I looked at it, and decided to make it a "hat pin" or actually, it could be a shawl pin. At least this way, I can remove it when I hand wash it. 

Decreases
Also, I have enough yarn left over for some wristlets. Not a full mitt, I think, but at least pulse warmers. Those will be nice, because they can be worn with my gloves. You know that little space where it always manages to attract snow, between your sleeve and your glove? Well -- wristlets! Voila - it's handled. 

I think what I'll do for the next one is a moss stitch band for the "rib" section. Oh, and I did manage to find some short-cable circular needles. Yay, again! Thanks to Le Mouton Rouge Knittery, I was able to get the button/pin as well. Hey - if I ever find that purple shawl that just needs its collar finished, this swirl will be a nicer shawl pin than the sheep pin that I have. 

Where there's hope, right? 

Hat pin/shawl pin/ button
I'm not a hat person, really. I prefer earmuffs, but I really wanted to see how the Kauri yarn felt and knitted up. Frankly, I don't think I would make a sweater with it. The brush-tail possum sheds. I'd use it for a scarf, mitts, another hat. But that's about it. The silk gives it a nice sheen, so it would also make a very pretty shawlette. 

Of course, now my mom wants one. A hat, I mean. I don't think she'll either care or want it knit with the Kauri. Besides, I'll have to order it. I got it in Indianapolis, and I'm not driving out there again! 

Actually, this thing knit up relatively fast; just took about a week of knitting time, considering I also have a full-time job. 

So now I'm back on the Nephew Afghan. It's a slog. My hands hurt. But I may end up just taking a picture of it and giving them an IOU for a wedding gift! I'm almost at the end of the 3rd set of yarn balls. I have one more set. So, progress, but a slog. 

Catholic Church...

Speaking of progress, the slower progress is with the Catholic Church. The Archdiocese of Chicago released a boatload of records regarding the pedophile scandal. Even Cardinal Bernardin, who was held up as a paragon in the Archdiocese, was implicated. He shifted priests around and asked forgiveness when he should've asked for prison time. 

Now the victims and their families have to pick up the pieces. And the congregations are left to wonder if the "crisis" is really done. I don't mean to demean it by calling it "crisis" with scare-quotes - but what I'm trying to say is: is the BULK of the abuse uncovered now, or are Catholics just waiting for the other shoe to drop? Is there another generation of pedophiles waiting in the wings? 

Don't know. But hopefully, the Church might have learned its lesson. If it's going to come back under Pope Francis as a stronger, more viable institution, the transparency has to be there. I think this pope is trying. But I'm also in the "waiting for another shoe to drop" category. 

I'm not going back to the Catholic Church. But I would not like to see the whole edifice fall because of institutional blindness. 

Recipe...

In all truth, I have no idea where I got this from. But it's a good one. I like dark greens and this is a rather flexible recipe. You can use a variety of greens, or a mix. 

Garlicky Greens Recipe

1 lg. bunch of kale or chard                2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt                                 5 cloves garlic, crushed & chopped
1/4 c. grated Parmesan (opt)            crushed red pepper flakes (opt)

De-stem the greens (if they're the big ones); grab the main stalk and strip the leaf from the stem to the top. Tear big leaves into bite-sized pieces or dice them with a knife. Wash them in a large bowl or sink. 

WASH CAREFULLY to remove the sand/grit. Wash, rinse, repeat - at least twice, in my experience! Set aside.

JUST BEFORE you want to eat them, in large skillet, heat the oil, add the salt (a couple of big pinches) and the greens. They should hiss & spit when they hit the pan. Stir till they're bright green and they just start to collapse - perhaps up to 4 minutes, depending on how hot your pan is and the size of the chunks of greens.

About 30 seconds before you pull the pan off the heat, add the garlic, and stir up to cook - don't burn the garlic! Pull off the heat, add the cheese and then the pinch of red pepper flakes if you want. 

**You can make this vegan by removing the cheese and using toasted almonds or pine nuts. 
**You can use bagged baby greens - in that case, you don't need to de-stem, but perhaps 
trim the stems.

I've done this and it's fantastic. I prefer the baby greens or a mix of kale and spinach. The big kale kind of knocks me across the room. The baby greens are lovely. I will seriously eat the whole pan. And you should; greens are good for you!

In addition, I might consider using this as a base for a soup. Or maybe add this to a soup in the last minute or so that I was heating it up.

Raisa & the Elkhounds...

Well, things are progressing both fast and slow. Fast in that she's adapting to our routines. Slow in that Quinn is a bit sketchy toward her. And this morning, she jumped on Tippi, who was NOT happy. We've tried to defuse the snarl-fests, but at some point, they'll learn. 

This pic was before she lost her "couch privileges." She's only allowed on the floor for now, till everyone figures out where they belong in the line-up. 

We figure a couple of weeks and then we'll all be one big happy family. 

She goes to "Puppy Play" next week, and then her lessons start in February. She and Quinn will be trained together, and then she and I will proceed through the CGC training. With luck, she'll also be a therapy dog. 

Right now, everyone's pooped out and napping. So we have a "little piece of quiet" before all heck breaks loose again. 

Weather...

It's snowing again, and about 15* outside. It "feels like" 2* - which is warm, compared to this morning, when it was about -6*... But wait, there's more! 

We're supposed to get somewhere around -28* by 10 p.m. tonight. The wind has picked up. The birds are at the feeders. The dogs really want to be out there. But it's too cold. 

It's January and this is what I remember when I was growing up. People are griping about it now because we've been spoiled due to the climate change. 

Random Picture...

It's not a picture. It's what happens when you give a baby Siberian Husky a tennis ball. Yes, it's a little blurry. But she moves FAST! 

videoRaisa passed her vet check with flying colors, though the vet says she's a little on the light side. We've got her back on puppy food. From what we understood, perhaps her rescuer had her on "big dog" food. But they need the nutrition and extra fat of the puppy food for that first year, so we've got her back where she needs to be. 

We're looking for her to fill out eventually. She's already as tall as Quinn, but not as "beefy" as our River. 

And boy is she noisy!! The Elkhounds are still wondering how such a little puppy can make so much noise. 


Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's TOTALLY Ironic...

...to awaken on your 56th birthday to a period. 

Seriously. I was just at my gyno and I asked him. He said, "You are among a handful of my patients that I term over-achievers so don't worry."

Thanks, doc. I appreciate that. 

Anyway, we have a cloudy, snow-ish day. We shall see how things go today. Of course, it was supposed to snow TOMORROW, so I have totally the wrong shoes on - I have the Shoo-booties on. They're fine as long as we don't get a lot of snow. One of my lovely professors, upon finding out that it was my birthday, handed me 2 squares of Ghirarelli dark chocolate. My kind of guy!

No big plans. Not planning a dinner. Having Raisa come on Saturday is probably all the excitement I need right now. 

We have her training set up, and she'll be going to Puppy Play at the end of this month, on a Sunday. We'll be training her alongside Quinn, so they bond a bit. Bobbie, our trainer, said that she doesn't recommend that Raisa go into a puppy obedience class, since our girls are 7 and 3 respectively. She should learn more about being around older dogs. 

Of course, being a Husky, she'll be smart. Stubborn, but smart. And I think she'll be fine at the regular Basic Obedience. By the time we get her there, she'll be almost 4 months old, so it will be ok. We just have to be careful to watch when it's about "heat" time. She'll be fixed after her first heat, so she gets the full benefit of all those hormones. 

Hopefully, as SHE goes INTO heat, I'll come out of it, right? 

Knitting...

 
The hat is coming along nicely. I started it out on 3 DPNs but since it's a DK weight, I really think the needles weren't long enough. So I did end up with the size 7 circular, even though it's a 24" cord. It works well, and I will still end up using the DPNs when I decrease.

What I can do, if I want, is make it a tad shorter. I'm supposed to knit 8" on the body of the hat, but I measured my head... I can probably do fine with 6" or so. But I'm really thinking I will probably do the 8". First, I have the yarn. Second, I did a 1" Garter Stitch band, so if I have to roll it, it won't be awful...It'll be Garter Stitch inside or out. I'd rather have that extra length because I want to wear this when it's cold! 

I still would like to knit a beret. If I could find a nice felted one, I'd buy one, but hey - I knit. I can MAKE one!

The afghan is in temporary limbo right now. 

And tomorrow, after my board meeting, my knitting friends are going to go with me to Le Mouton Rouge Knittery to take a peek. Doris needs some yarn to match beads and work up a shawl. I want to get a yarn bag. 

Yeah, I know - like I need one. But Kelly's got some good ones and I would like to pick up one of those, and perhaps that set of size 7 circulars with the 16" cord. If I'm lucky, maybe they'll have the square ones. 

I did finally go on Ravelry to see what was going on. I had an "ancient" message about some Cascade I had in stash. Well, I would had to have remembered WHERE it was in stash! I answered the lady, and it took her forever to reply. She found another yarn to do her project.

I may try to pull a cloche pattern out of my binder and do that as a felted hat. That would be cool. I saw one at Knitty Magazine that had kind of a shell design done in a contrasting I-cord that was built into the construction of the hat. It looked really nice and it seemed to be an easy-enough pattern. 

With this Kauri hat, I tried it on last night, and perhaps it might be a tad loose. I figure I can make a dart and add a really cool button. That would be a nice addition and a 'special' touch to a rather plain hat. I'll be bringing the hat with me so that I can find a button that I like. I would like to get one that obviously I can hand-wash, but also something unique. 

If I can't find anything, maybe I can get Kid #1 to make one out of glass for me. Or metal - if it won't rust. That would also be very nice. 

Full Moon...

Well, that's why my yoga students were all confused on Monday! It was nearly a full moon. So last night, as I'm driving home, I see this lovely moon. The sky really was that navy-blue color, it's not my crappy phone! The moon was low in the sky at that time, and I stopped outside a park gate (they close at sunset) and snapped this. 

It was lovely. I really like the full moon and especially when it was as huge as it was. The picture is deceiving, because you all know that what you see with your eyes is dramatically different than what you see through a camera. Though Hubby has a large telescope to which we can hook the camera, I think we've only taken it out twice. It's hard to do because the thing needs a vehicle of its own. And it's fussy. And, where we live, in order to really get the good pictures? We'd need to be out after midnight. Which doesn't work with our schedules right now. 

One day. At least I hope so. I'd really like, at some point, to take a weekend perhaps at Starved Rock State Park and maybe see if we can get some good photos. 

Politics...

Antonin Scalia is an idiot. Well, maybe you already knew that. But in case you didn't, he is. 

In today's Chicago Tribune, there's an article entitled Justices question need for clinic buffer zones - and it relates to a Massachusetts law that sets a thirty-five foot (35') buffer zone to prevent protesters from approaching women's health clinics offering abortions.

Opponents have, of course, called the law a "violation of free speech" and said that it hinders "peaceful conversations" on a public sidewalk. 

Proponents of the law defended it as a way to "deal with the violence and disruptions that have been seen at abortion clinics in the Boston area."

Justice Scalia, the lead conservative, said that his banc of justices feels that the law "clearly violated the First Amendment."

The liberals on the court wonder if it needs to be a wider buffer than the original 35' stated in the law. 

What fries my cheese is the quote from Scalia:  "Surely, you could have a law against screaming and shouting within 35 feet. ... These people want to speak quietly in a friendly manner."

The man has lost his reason. If he ever had any.

I have seen this up-close-and-personal. Back in the days when I lived in Virginia, in the town where I lived, my credit union shared space with a women's clinic. That was in the early 80s. Well before direct-deposit or online banking, right? So every 2 weeks, I'd stop by to deposit my paycheck. And every 2 weeks, there were protesters lined up with their signs, their banners, their garbage cans of "bloody babies" for us to look at as we went into the credit union door. 

At one point, I had Kid #1 with me. He was asleep, so I heaved him onto my shoulder to take him into the credit union so I could do my banking. Suddenly, he screamed and jerked... Some moron shoved a "bloody baby" in his face and started berating me for "going in to kill a baby."

I stopped in my tracks, whirled around and said something along the lines of "Get that out of my face or YOU will need a doctor."  My kid had a total melt-down, as most 2-year-olds would when so abruptly awakened by a stranger who was shaking a bloody, beheaded doll and screaming in his face. I mean, imagine. You're sound asleep, dreaming toddler dreams. Feeling mom holding you securely and feeling all safe and sound.

And then a total stranger starts hollering in your face and shoving something in front of your eyes. You don't know what's going on. You hug your mom's neck tightly and start screaming yourself because you're afraid. 

You readers who are moms out there - you tell me how YOU would react. I'd like to know. 

As you could imagine, the encounter got slightly worse and the security guard at the credit union had to come out so that I could go in.

Ultimately, there WAS no "quiet, friendly conversation" with ANY of us. If you were FEMALE and you were in the parking lot, you were "going to have an abortion." A lawsuit was brought by the credit union and at least one other tenant of the building because obviously, their clients were being harassed. 

I ended up having to give a deposition. They were subsequently barred from the parking lot. They could stand on the easement alongside the sidewalk, but they could NOT trespass on the sidewalk (which butted up against the parking lot), which had a hedge about 4' tall next to it. 

So... They stuck their "bloody babies" and their signs on 6-foot poles and waved them in our faces. Hey, THEY weren't in our way. But their signs were. 

It was incredibly disgusting. 

Scalia has obviously never been anywhere near (a) the outside; and (b) a women's clinic. Because some of these zealots would protest a women's clinic no matter whether they provided abortions or not. 

I mean, right now as this lawsuit stands, it could affect these kinds of zones which are now being used to protect government and military facilities... Really - you want a crazy near a military facility?? 

And let's be perfectly clear here: GW Bush had protesters put MILES away from where he was. Where was THEIR "First Amendment" right? Was that any different? Was him staying in his little "everybody LOVES ME" bubble more important? Apparently so... 

But women? Obviously, we can't be trusted to have a body and make decisions about that, even though we are making a lawful decision about a legal medical procedure. Or maybe just getting a check-up because we're poor. We felt a lump. We have a problem. Or we're just picking up birth control. You know, being responsible about our sex lives. 

Well. We can't have that. The protesters must have their pound of flesh. And if Scalia and the extreme conservative judges on the SCOTUS have their way, of course women will pay the price. As we always do.

Random Picture...

This is Sallie, my little stuffed alpaca. I bought her at a Stitches, I think. For a while, she was on my desk at school. But I brought her home and she's sitting on the shelf in my knitting room/office/yoga room/music room/studio/junk room/used to be kids room.  Really, it's my office. Well, in name. 

Actually, it's all those descriptors above, including "the place we wrap Christmas presents" and "the place we stash our junk when people come over." 

One of these days, it'll all be sorted and it'll just be my office, yoga room and studio. Or, when Kid #2 leaves, I will get HIS room and make THAT my yoga room! I can dream. He hasn't left yet. 

I don't suppose that Sallie means much to anyone, but I thought she was cute. She's very soft. The dogs thought she was their toy, but I quickly moved her out of their reach. Alpaca is actually one of my favorite fibers.

And in my "dream life" I have enough land to not only have a small herd of alpaca, but to have a canine rescue section. Oh, and a horse rescue. 

Oh, and a bazillion dollars to make all of that work!






Tuesday, January 14, 2014

No Guns Allowed....And Don't Text, In Case...

...the guy behind you is a retired cop with a gun.

Seriously. Here's the link:  http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/13/justice/florida-movie-theater-shooting/

This guy texts his 3 year old. OK, aside from the fact that it's ok for mommy and daddy to have a date night and who texts their toddler anyway??? -- he's texting and he's not supposed to be.

Cop-with-attitude-and-handgun asks him to quit. They argue. 

Again - really? If you're that anxious to text your toddler, then perhaps (a) you stay home; or (b) you GET UP AND WALK OUT OF THE THEATRE. 

CWA+G goes to get theatre employee, apparently comes back really annoyed, sans employee.

Again - USHERS??? That's what they're supposed to be there for, and if not an usher, how about a manager???

Then shots fly. Texting Daddy dies. 

CWA+G sits down after shooting, with handgun in lap. 

Only in Florida. Well, not really, but come on. A black kid gets shot because some vigilante nut job thinks he "looks suspicious" and now this??

Screen in the movie theatre says "Please don't text. And handguns not allowed in theatre." 

Well. There you go. Everyone plays by the rules, right? 

Just one more responsible gun owner exercising HIS freedoms. 

Except somewhere in Florida, there's a toddler now without a dad. Sure, the dad was being a jerk texting in the theatre. Sure, the theatre posted warnings. But really - the retired cop HAD to shoot him? Why? The light from his phone bothered the cop???

This does not bode well for a couple of things.

First off, Florida just might beat Chicago in gun violence. That would wreak havoc on the tourist trade... "Come to Florida. With Luck, Leave Alive." There's a ringing endorsement!!

Second, of course, is Illinois' recent leap into insanity (well, MORE insanity) by allowing itself to be bought by the NRA. We were, up until last year, the only sane state in the US. 

Broke. Corrupt. But SANE - no "concealed carry" here. Well, no LEGAL concealed carry. But noooooooooo - the NRA and gun-nut-lobby folks had to have their way. So now, people are applying for concealed carry permits. They are required to pass background checks and take 16 hours of gun safety courses, but there are still too many loopholes... Enough for one of Former and Jailed Governor George Ryan's illegally-licensed CDL drivers to drive through. Unscathed. 

Take, for instance, road rage. Illinois, especially Chicago and the collar counties, is infamous for its traffic snafus. Let's put it this way: 

Hillside Strangler
One of our worst areas for traffic is nicknamed "Hillside Strangler." Then there's Lower Wacker in Chicago. Then there's Rt. 80, where if you're not a trucker, you're road kill. Then there's... well, anywhere else in the immediate "crossroads" area in and around Joliet. 

For example, just try to get anywhere during "rush hour" at Rt. 80 coming into Joliet. At Larkin or Rt. 55. Or try to get somewhere on Rt. 53 going toward Bolingbrook. 

Yep. Let's let everyone carry guns in their cars. That'll fix the traffic situation.

I talked to a friend who's a Vietnam vet and thank you very much, a good video game will do just fine; he's not interested in owning a gun anymore. The Army cured that itch. He says that his ideal would be to not have "concealed" carry. "Just have them carry open - at least then you know." Which is a good point. Let's just let it all hang out. Then I can see you. 

I mean, think about this. What do you do when you see someone creepy, maybe in an elevator or coming at you on the sidewalk? The SENSIBLE person either doesn't get into the elevator or crosses the street. The SENSIBLE person doesn't go all John Wayne on the other guy. 

Pardon my cynical nature. But I don't really see "sensible" being the overriding principle now. I see "John Wayne" happening more and more. "I'm safe because I have a gun. I'll take 'em all out!" 

My friend Chuck says he knows that most civilians aren't prepared. Even with your 16 hours of training. You're just not ready to handle the ramifications of handling a lethal weapon. 

Guns have no purpose other than killing. Let's be blunt. Guns kill. 

Whether it's hunting, which by the way I'm fine with, as long as you're eating what you're shooting, or whether it's pointing it at a human. Guns kill. Period. End of sentence. End of discussion. 

There must be some responsibility somewhere along the line. And it has to be taken by the person holding the lethal weapon. Your hand holds the gun, you must take the consequences, whether they're good or bad. You took the gun. You take the heat. 

Overall, though, I'm interested to see how this plays out, particularly at my employer. I'm in a university and our policy is pretty simple: No guns on campus. Simple. Mostly one-syllable words. 

Knitting...

"Rip-it, rip-it, rip-it."
So I frogged again, as I said. It's so bad that, after I cast on YET ANOTHER TIME, Kid #2 says, "What?? Again???" When the kids notice, you know it's an issue.

I'm doing a very simple hat. About 1" of Garter stitch (K one row; P the next) and then straight Stockinette. It's on DPNs, but I may nip out to see if I can find a size 7 circular with a 16" cable. 

Speaking of nipping out to get needles, we had a tragedy at our LYS. It's a store-front, in a strip mall. Apparently, they had someone drive through the window. Into customers who were sitting in the "knitting area." 

Back in the day when my friend owned the shop, the "knitting area" was in the back, facing the front. Sonda believed that (a) this was cozy and it was usually warmer back there; and (b) she could keep watch on the store from the back. When the new owner took over, she initially had a seating area somewhat in the back, but she recently moved it to the front, right by the plate glass windows. 

The last time I was in there knitting, I sat on one of the rockers along the side, so that I could see not only the check-out desk (where the employees gathered) but out the window as well.

Call me superstitious. Call it the early training I had working in a prison. I just don't like my back to where I can't see something. Even now, at work, my back faces a wall, and I have the view of the windows on my right, and on my left, I can "see" the front entry, peripherally, at least. I'm aware of who's here and where everyone is at. I like that.

One of the gals I know was sitting in that chair and she saw the whole thing. Another, who was seated on the couch, had gotten up to go toward the Keurig machine for tea; she was in a prime spot to be hit with the car. The woman who ran into the building apparently thought someone was under her car because she backed away from the window. Had Lynn been under her car, she would have been killed. 

There was lots of flying glass and the injuries that resulted were from that glass. 

Each shop owner has the right to do what they please with their establishment. But shortly after this woman took the shop over, someone drove through the plate glass in the shop next to hers. 

The windows are right at the sidewalk. Logic would tell you that perhaps this was an accident waiting to happen. It's a shame. I don't know what will happen. I hope she opens back up soon, and hasn't spooked her customer base; and I also hope she puts it 'back the way it was.' 

It's one thing to do your own thing. But really, you should keep the safety of your customers in the forefront of your mind.

Listening to...

Krishna Das channel on Sirius. Blissing out on just lovely chants from Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band. 

I need to figure out how to get this on my phone. I know it can do it. It's a Windows smartphone. I can't let the phone be smarter than I am!

Reading...

Still plowing through the complete Jane Austen. Holy crimoley --- the "Letters" novelas are horrible. Horrible. First off, the language is enough to gag a diabetic. Second, I can't figure out who's who. Third, it's fragmented. 

Perhaps they had more imagination back then. Perhaps these were the writings that flopped. I'm betting on "flopped." 

My next book would be the yoga book I have to report on, and then another one from my Kindle; haven't decided which. Maybe "The Princess Bride." I think that would be fun. I need some fun after Jane. 

The other option is The Canon. Excuse me. "The Complete Sherlock Holmes." It's been a while since I've read The Canon. And with the new season of "Sherlock" coming up, it might be nice to refresh, even though Stephen Moffatt has turned the concept on its head.

Not that it didn't need freshening. And I could listen to Benedict Cumberbatch read the phone book. I rather like the idea of trying to figure out where the new stories come from. Sure, some are quite original, but some are takes on the classics. 

It's an amazing thing to have one character portrayed by such a variety of actors in such a variety of media - and for so long. 


Lake Lee, Alberta


Random Picture...

This is something I snagged off a friend's Facebook page because it looks amazing. This is actually from Jaime Vedres Photography, and it's Lee Lake in Alberta Canada. 

Look at the stars. I have been to Alberta, but it was for a meeting with their roofing association. Not a fun trip; I mean, the roofing guys were a hoot, but I didn't see any of the sights. 

And we went into Alberta when we went on our honeymoon. I want to go back there, because it's a beautiful place. My idea would be to stop in Banff National Park for an extended stay. It's beyond words gorgeous. It would be a great place to take the dogs - except I'm not sure how we'd get them into Canada. Rats. Oh well, it was a thought. 

If you get a chance, you don't have to go to Europe. You can just go north of the border. Our neighbors to the north are lovely people and they have a lovely country to explore.