Sunday, April 27, 2008

Quick, knit something!

So, I've been pretty much corralled in my house for the past five days and I'm becoming quick and full with cabin fever. The fact that I've knitted and ripped down a scarf for my mother about, oh, four friggin' times, doesn't help that much.

I made a really cool cabled hat for my mom for Christmas. Don't believe me? Here's some pictoral evidence!

So, I intended to knit her a really cool cabled scarf to match for her birthday, which is tomorrow (Happy Birthday Mom!). Needless to say she won't be getting it. You see, I had planned to finish it this week, but mean-ass, fence-jumping dog had other plans for me. So, since she won't be getting her scarf by her birthday, and I wasn't really happy with the scarf all that much to begin with (which is probably why I waited until the last minute to work on it) I'm going to start over and make this scarf perfection. Or so I thought.

I decided to try another cable pattern. Well, the problem isn't with the patterns, really, it's my mom. And it's the yarn, too, but mostly my mom. She doesn't like wool (gasp!). So, the hat is the same yarn as the would-be scarf, and it's Caron Simply Soft Tweed, which has no natural fiber content. That means that you can't block it, so whatever pattern you use you have to be OK with the fact that it won't lie flat no matter how good your intentions.

Cables need to be blocked, that is, unless you knit them in the round for a hat and they don't need to lie flat (I think that rhymes!). Scarves, are by nature, flat and long. So, with this yarn, no cables. Back to square one.

So I tried another pattern, which was kind of lacey. Lace, too, come to find out, needs to be blocked. So no matter how many swatches I knit, it wasn't going to work. Period.

So, I've given up lace and cables for this scarf and all the little shitty swatches I made in favor of a drop-stitch pattern from my own friggin' pattern book library. That's right. I wasted tons of time looking for a pattern that would work with this god-awful yarn when I had one right under my friggin' nose. That, my dear, is frustrating!

So, I'm going to get to work on this ridiculously easy scarf and hopefully I'll be done in time to give it as a belated gift.

In related news, I've grown a bit batty.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I like the way you think, Florida!

If you remember the sordid tale of our busted water heater, you'll recall that the moonlighting plumber guy was a total mullet-tastic gem. You'll also remember he had some, ahem, rather unusual trailer hitch adornments. Well, if things go as planned in Florida, the only nuts that you'll find on a truck will be in the cockpit. That's right, there is a Legislature in the U.S. that is more worthless than Texas'! Florida has moved to ban truck testicles!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Watching Scrubs finally paid off

I decided to take some time off from work last weekend and get back in touch with nature. This is most often a great idea. Dave has never been camping before, so I figured that going to a music festival would take some of the sting out of his first real camping experience. We roughed it (No electricity, no running water) but there were porta-potties all over the place, which is so very necessary at a music festival where beer drinking is encouraged.

I've never really been a huge fan of bluegrass, but this festival was a great primer in the genre. The fans of bluegrass music are pretty outstanding, too. Lots of nice hippies. Lots of organic cotton and tie dye. Lots of campers. We stayed at Camp Ben McCulloch, which is a really good spot. It's in the hill country and right next to a cold, clear creek and it's got some really beautiful grounds. It was a stonesthrow away from the Salt Lick Pavilion, which is where most of the festival music was.

We got to the camp late on Wednesday night and had to set up in the dark. It wasn't hard because when our tent arrived from on Tuesday (in the nick of time!) we set it up in the back yard. We went with the Sirius 3 by Sierra Designs mostly because it's light enough to be carried by one person on a backpacking trip but big enough for two people on a regular camping trip.

So we set up our tent and I helped our friend Cody set up the screened shelter and then we cooked some dinner. I missed cooking dinner outside. It's a real blast. For some reason, cooking while camping makes everything taste ten times better. On the menu that night: Beer brats, sauerkraut and potato salad. I pre-made a lot of the stuff for the trip that couldn't be thrown over a grill in a hurry, like the potato salad, and marinated all of the meat before hand. Needless to say it was some tasty stuff. We stayed up and drank for a while and then I passed out. We woke up pretty early the next day and sobered up over cowboy coffee, eggs and bacon.

The downside to roughing it in the country is the lack of opportunities to shower. Lucky for me, it didn't get too hot during the day, so we really didn't sweat much. It got maybe 85, max. At night, though, it was nice and chilly. It dipped down into the 40s and 50s -- perfect cuddling weather. Despite the lack of showers, Onion Creek passed right by our campsite, so I grabbed some castille soap and washed off in the creek. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences to dive into what would become my bath tub. I swam as much as I could this weekend because it's not exactly like Dallas is surrounded by spring-fed creeks to swim in.

I almost didn't dive in the creek, though, because on Thursday, not long after our other camping companions arrived, we saw a lot of folks gathering around the rope-swing. It turns out that the creek was too shallow to rope-swing into, and one guy must have hurt himself pretty badly because he was flown out on a buck board and neck brace by helicopter. Scary.

So, we drank, ate and that night we went to a show at the campsite. It was pretty awesome, and what made it even awesome-er was the fact that they had HULA HOOPS!!! Any concert is better with hula hoops. Dave's back was acting up, though, so we headed back to camp before everyone else, which was a good idea because we may have been 20 yards from the campsite before it started to drizzle. As soon as we started to gather things in the tent and under the shelter it was like the sky opened and we were soaked in a deluge. Sheets of rain propelled by heinous winds crashed against our little tent while lightening coursed the sky like cracks in an eggshell. We woke up the next morning and -- surprise!-- we were the only ones in our camp that stayed dry! We had the smallest tent, but we didn't take on any water!

We hung out at the campsite until just after lunch. Plenty of time for me to finish my FIRST PAIR OF SOCKS!!!


Awesome, no? I was pretty much bragging on them all weekend, saying stuff like, "That's a beautiful sunset! It's almost as beautiful as MY HANDKNIT SOCKS, EH???"

FYI, already started my second pair!

Anywho, we went to the Salt Lick Pavilion, where they had vendors and more bands. Lots of tie dye, and lots of cool hippie-type clothing. Lots of poeple in both tie-dye and hippie duds.


Later that night we went to Gruene Hall to see SonVolt. Dave was right up next to the stage all night like a huge dork. He snagged some autographs and a picture of him with his idol, Jay Farrar.



We came back and ate grilled meat and eggplant, which was pretty awesome.



The next day? More creek bathing/swimming, more bluegrass, more gorgeous weather, more hula hoops, more relaxation, a little impromptu yoga and a LOT of beer. Dave and I brought two boxes of wine, a four pack of Murphy's and a four pack of Boddingtons and two 12-packs of Modelo. We finished the modelo, finished one box of wine, finished the Murphy's and drank the exceptional draft beer they had at the Salt Lick. In four days. My liver needs a break.

We returned to Dallas to dogs that missed us and roses that bloomed vigorously in our absence.


Now, Dave and I watch quality shows, but one that we have watched almost religiously is Scrubs. It's funny, and unapologetically so. It's good that we watch it, because Dave knew exactly what he needed to do when he took me to the emergency room last night after I was attacked by a dog. The dog freakin' jumped the fence of a neighbor's yard and came barrelling toward us. It started attacking Hornsby, and I was trying to pull on Hornsby's leash to get him free so we could run away, but I must have made that dog pretty angry, because he bit the crap out of me. See for yourself *WARNING* Don't follow the link if you have a weak stomach!

So I've been laid up at home, my leg is swollen and I can't really walk. Dave is doint his best to wait on me, but I'm sure it's getting old. What a crappy thing to happen after a really great vacation, right?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Downward facing pupster

My yoga teacher, Gregg, is fantastic. I'm not one of those students that idolizes her yoga teacher, but I have great respect and admiration for Gregg because he is a really caring, giving and attentive teacher. I've been going to his classes regularly for two years now and never have I blossomed in my practice more.

I think a lot of my yoga-related growth also has to do with the fact that I read a lot about yoga. There are a lot of really fantastic yoga teachers out there, but studying with them is so expensive. Gregg told me about this yearlong intensive with a really great Anusara teacher, and I want to do it pretty badly, but I doubt that Dave and I can afford it. Broken down, $580 is a pretty good deal for 12 weekends of intense study with a well-known instructor, but our budget is already pretty tight as is. I'm pretty frugal when it comes to a lot of things, and I wish Dave was more frugal, but I'm resigned to the fact that although I'd love to do this, I won't be able to unless I devise some ingenious strategy straight from a Saved by the Bell episode to raise the money. Alas ...

Also, Dave and I are fascinated by the way our dogs seem to have caught on to the yoga craze. It's like every time they wake up from a nap they do a long Downward Facing Dog with a perfect flow to an Upward Facing Dog. Their technique is almost instinctive!

On the knitting front: I started the second sock last night, but after all of the cool increases and decreases and techniques from finishing the first one I fricking forgot how to cast on for the second! Please, will someone tell me that this kind of forgetfulness is common among easily distracted knitters? I hope so. Anyway, for the record, 2x2 rib is boring, especially when the entire shaft of the sock is 2x2 rib. Ugh. I think that this is why lace and patterned socks were first designed. Why should the heel and toe be the only fun and exciting part?

I've been looking for a good sweater pattern that's easy to construct without a lot of sewing and nonsense. I've found three, two cardigans and one kimono-type sweater. The only problem I I have now is actually going out and buying the yarn for it and constructing it. I have project entropy like that.

It's rainy and stormy here in Dallas. The weather is ridiculously unpredictable. Tornado warnings are going off here and in Fort Worth seemingly every other day. Here's hoping we make it through the rainy season alive!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A day off, not a moment wasted

I've been working on my first knitted sock since last weekend. I've been wanting to learn how to knit socks since November, but I hadn't been able to find an accessible class ... well, until I met Silver. This was THE BEST sock knitting tutorial I've been able to find after months of looking. This is my finished product:




Her instructions made grafting the toe so un-scary. I've heard that it's crazy hard, and I was really scared to try it, too. But with her step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions ... ta-da! I have a sock. I'm starting the next one immediately!

Is it cheating, though, that I knit it up in worsted yarn instead of fingering weight? I didn't have any sock yarn, and I didn't want to wait any longer to start making my first sock, so I just used some worsted tweed I had on hand. I think it really helped to learn on a chunkier yarn, though, because not only did it knit up faster, but the worsted weight was a lot easier to manage. I think it would have been much more frustrating to learn with fingering weight, especially since I've never knitted with a gauge that small.

Although it's a pretty big accomplishment for me to finish my first sock (and it fits!), that wasn't the only big thing today. I took today off for what my husband would call a religious holiday: Opening Day. Today was the first home game for the Rangers, and regrettably, we lost. But that doesn't mean we didn't have fun!


I did do a lot of sock knitting during the game to distract me from the Ranger's heinous performance against the Baltimore Orioles. I do have to say that Baltimore fans are some of the greatest. Nice, gracious folks. Rangers fans, in general, are spoil sports. Lots of booing from the cheap seats today, which is something I really can't stand. If you're going to heckle somebody, get creative. Dave is a wonderful heckler. He's been almost thrown out of ball games many times, but never thrown out. There is a line to genuinely great heckling.

Anyway, besides some spastic work e-mail when I got home, it was a great day. Time to get started on that second sock!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My life was made for weekends like this

It's phenomenal that it's April in Texas and we've turned on our most hallowed appliance, our air conditioner, only once! Right now I'm sitting in our living room, watching the boys of summer and sipping on an extra cold pineapple horchata. I feel so relaxed, like I've done nothing all day, but I've done so much this weekend it's hard to remember everything I've accomplished.

The weather, sunny and slightly cool, was the only incentive I needed to do some much-needed yard work. Before Dave's back went out, he had pulled up half of the hedges in our front yard and then left them by the side of the house to put out for heavy trash day. The following weekend, Father-in-Bob came over to show me how to use the electric hedge trimmer because I've never used one. Seriously. I've never used a push-mower either. Needless to say, many hedges were trimed and many branches were pruned and much trash was gathered by the side of the house to put out for heavy trash day.

Well, Dave usually does the majority of the hauling of heavy things around this house. He also does the majority of the jar-opening, trash-taking and dishwashing. Well, at least he did before his back went out.

Yesterday it was all up to me to haul all of the branches to the curb. It took me at least 3 hours and forty bajillion trips to the curb and back to et all of the god-forsaken limbs and leaves to the curb for heavy-frickin'-trash day. Eff that. I get much more joy from pruning and hedge trimming than I get from the disposal of the branches and crap. Dave, though, likes the haulin'. Weird kid he is.

So, lots of yard work was done, roses were staked, hedges were clipped, weeds were pulled and so on and so on. It was much more fun than it sounds because I had a nice, cold beer by my side and warm sun on my shoulders. In between rounds of hauling and clipping and pulling we both sat out on our deck and soaked up our yard, which is quickly turning into awesome.


Today I woke up late, on purpose. I love doing that. Most of the times I wake up late the first thing I do is freak out and yell, "DAVEOHMYGODWE'REGOINGTOBELATE!!!!"

Dave knows that that exclamation is an outright lie. "We're" not going to be late. "I'm" going to be late. If we didn't carpool, Dave would never be late. It doesn't matter what time Dave wakes up, he's always ready to go on time. Why? Because it factors out for him. If he wakes up 5 minutes late, that's 5 minutes off of his morning regimen. That means, not brushing your hair, or, maybe, not putting on deoderant. Sometimes it means wearing the clothes you wore yesterday, all because Dave just doesn't do "late." These things, however, are things I can't skip. Period.


Back to today. Dave and I started drinking pretty much right after our breakfast of peaches and cream oatmeal. We emptied a bottle of blanc de noirs with some fresh orange juice. Best mimosas ever. Then it was a bottle of Famega Vinho Verde. We wend through half a bottle of Pacific Rim Chenin Blanc before one of the klutzy dogs ran into the table and knocked my wine glass over, pretty much ending our boozing spree.

Because I can't stand baking late at night, I started making dough for pizza and ciabatta early this morning. I had planned on making eggplant parmigiana pizza. I know I mentioned that we had been boozing a little. One of the side affects of boozing is laziness. Sometimes, often unexpectedly, laziness is a good thing. Like today, I was too lazy to crust the eggplant and all that jazz that I used leftover grilled chicken, peppers and onions from our fajita dinner Friday night. It was probably one of the best pizzas I have ever made. So frickin tasty, and it was ridiculous easy, too, which is good because I was super lazy.

I am looking forward to having a sandwich on that ciabatta bread later this week. That should be good, too.

And that's about all the randomness I can muster.