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."


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. 


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. 


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!

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