Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sheepy Flowers

This is for Caroline.
I saw this and thought of you and had to buy it.
Since I can't send on the Johnny Jump-Ups, I'll post a picture.

What's actually funny is when you water it the water starts leaking out from the bottom.
It makes me think the sheep is peeing.
That makes me laugh.

Friday, April 25, 2008

But What Would a 444 Year Old Man Have Thought?

Last night I gave my presentation in class.
We each have to give a presentation - it's part of our grade - and essentially we teach the class for 30 minutes or so.
As the semester is winding down, I've had the chance to see my fellow students exercise their brilliance in their presentations and of course because my self-confidence is so sky high (not), I tried to think of what I could discuss without sounding like a complete idiot.
It wasn't until Monday morning that the Muse struck.
Okay, first let's talk about Titus Andronicus.
Very briefly so I don't bore all five of my readers. And you can read more about it at the link.
It is a bloody, gory story about a Roman general who comes back from the war only to have his entire family destroyed, his daughter raped and mutilated, his sons beheaded, he chops off his hand - and then he seeks revenge by feeding the sons of his captive Goth queen to her in a meat pie.
But you know, it grows on you, it really does.
A few weeks earlier DH and I had watched the film version of Titus starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange.
The film left me with wonderful (but violent) visuals and got me to thinking -- how could the general action of the play have changed if a single action had been changed in the storyline.
So then I got to thinking about the Choose Your Own Adventure books.
Not much time to write a book with alternate endings -- remember this is Monday and my presentation is on Thursday.
So I thought, why not create a board game.
And I did.
I called it "Who's the Villain?" and I had plenty of questions that (I hoped) would make the player consider how things would have turned out different.
Sample question -- "What would have happened if...Titus had taken the throne for himself?" or "What would have happened if...Titus had married Tamora himself?"
And some other cards thrown in - "Saturninus avenges his brother's death. Move back four spaces."
It was a very crude gameboard - I'll have to take a picture and put it on here -- I had to provide a disclaimer and tell people - this is why I'm not building bridges somewhere. An engineer I am not.
But, my professor looked at me and said, "These are some hard questions."
That made me feel pretty proud, because I wanted the questions to be difficult to make people think, but also to have some fun.
We ended up playing the game for 45 minutes - class ran until 9:15 and I think (I hope) everyone had a good time.
And I think it is apropos that we are studying Shakespeare during the week he would have turned 444.
I believe he was with us in spirit in that stuffy, basement classroom last night.
As my professor was leaving he said to me, "That was great!"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday Quiz - I am Blue, Blue I am


You give your love and friendship unconditionally. You enjoy long, thoughtful conversations rich in philosophy and spirituality. You are very loyal and intuitive.

Find out your color at QuizMeme.com!

My favorite color is blue.
But everything else?
However, something that cheers me up immensely is good British humor.
And I sure don't feel blue when I watch French and Saunders.
Here is an especially hilarious skit with subtitles for those who can't understand. Of course they're in French, but now's your chance to learn!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tales from Toronto

Well, and Niagara Falls too.
It really was a whirlwind trip.
We didn't leave until 10:30 on Friday morning and headed to the Falls.
It was the first time DN2 had been there and SN2 was there as a one year old so he doesn't remember it at all. I don't know why we don't go more often it's very close.

Oh wait, money. And gas prices (at $3.63 a gallon).
Anyway, they were thrilled to see it but didn't really want to spend all day there. It is a fun place and I would like to go back and spend an overnight there but next time I'm bringing my own food. It was $13.49 for a burger at TGIFriday's. And yes, that's Canadian money, but our exchange rate is at par so 13 bucks is 13 bucks.
I really wanted to go on the Maid of the Mist but the website said that the ride doesn't open until the last of the ice melts in Lake Erie.
In April?
I scoffed.
And then we drove across the bridge and looked down at ALL THE ICE IN LAKE ERIE!
I have to type in caps because I was thrilled and appalled at the same time.
Lake Erie certainly is a different lake than Ontario.
So as we looked at the water going over the Falls we could see chunks of ice swirling past and plunging down.
That's when I understood.
Who wants to be on a ride with chunks of ice crashing down onto your head.
I'm slow but it eventually comes.
If you look really, really, really (really) close (and magnify it), you can actually see some of the ice chunks in the water.

Then we headed for Toronto which was a very pleasant drive.
On Friday night we wandered around the center of the city - well, Eaton Centre and Dundas Square - and watched the people on the streets, and just spent some time becoming accustomed to city life. DN2 couldn't believe all the people out peddling things and drumming and dancing, etc.
She asked me, "Are they really allowed to do that?"
We don't see much goings on like that here in our small town on the NY frontier.
I definitely wanted the kids to go up in the CN Tower and after seeing how much we paid, the next time they can go and pay for themselves.
But it was totally worth it.
On our way to the Tower (we walked) we saw a movie or tv show being filmed so like the rubber neckers we are, we stayed and watched for a few minutes.

Then we got to the Tower and waited in line for about 30 minutes, but again, it was worth the wait.
Here we are at the top.

Look, here's a true bird's eye view of Blue Jay stadium.

And then when we went to the glass floor I had to lie down face first to see the view.
It wasn't too scary - probably because it smelled like a dirty gym floor. That was scary.

We also went to the St. Lawrence farmer's market - wonderful, wonderful. I looked all over for pretzel brochen like we used to buy in Germany but they didn't have any. Tell me, how can you be a European bakery if you don't have pretzel brochen? Honestly. But the meats and cheeses and veg - yum, yum, yum.

And we did stop at Ikea.

Ahhh, Ikea. We love your Swedish meatballs, boiled potatoes and lingonberrry sauce! And your inexpensive goodies. Definitely worth the stop. Next time, though, try to have the Lingonberry juice machine working properly. Thanks.

So that's the story of our trip. I did not get a chance to stop at Lettuce Knit, so I pouted about that for a bit but I got over it. I really do have some socks to work on already and a presentation that I'm working on for tomorrow, so I should maximize my time towards my schoolwork.
Next time I will stop for sure.
And perhaps hit the Coats and Clark outlet in Mississauga.
Has anyone been there?
Is it worth the trip?
I'll go up again, because I love Canada and I love Toronto.
I wonder if anyone will hire me so I can live there full time.

P.S. The stories are true. Canadians really are very polite people. Even in the city.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This is the sound of....

...crap yarn leaving my house.
Earlier I had mentioned that we are putting together a knit for charity group at work. Our purpose is twofold: knit for charity but also teach others how to knit.
It actually has three purposes, as my hippie flower child friend wants to have it open as a networking opportunity as well.
Of course we're looking for a hooker too (AKA someone who crochets).
Come on, we're not that kind of a group.
Can you believe that I'll be teaching someone to knit???
It's one thing to teach DN2 - but actual adults?
I'm flabbergasted.
So we've been working out the details of what we'll knit and for whom and my suggestion is that we teach people how to knit squares for an afghan (a la Warm Up America).
What I'm really focusing on is Major Knitter's excellent training that is ingrained in my brain housing group, namely, for your first project find something small and knit it. Don't start off too big, you'll only get discouraged.
She's right, that one is.
We've worked out what our committee will be paying for and what everyone else will bring, but in the meantime Linda, who is helping with this idea, and I have some yarn to donate. This is my first donation:

And you know I have more crap yarn in my house, but some of it I actually use.
This should be fun and hopefully we get a lot of participation.
We'll be donating the finished blanket to the local nursing home which obviously has elderly folks who really tend to get cold. Linda's mother was just there recovering from a stroke and even though she passed away while there she was so thrilled to have a blanket across her lap to keep her warm. Someone had knit it using baby yarn and in pastel colors, but her mother loved it!
I think it is a good cause and it's local, and we want to focus on keeping it local.
Now, onto something less serious.
Here is a picture that shows why you should never get one of your high school friends to "trim" your hair:

A face and bald head only a mother could love.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Black Yarn Swap

I just joined another swap.
This time around it is the Black Yarn Swap, hence the title of this post.

It sounds pretty exciting, don't you think?
Sign-ups are open until May 31st if anyone is interested.
Here are my (lame) answers to the questions:

1. Do you knit, crochet, or both? Knit only
2. What do you prefer to knit or crochet? (socks? sweaters? cables?) What would you like to try to knit or crochet? Just learned how to knit socks!!! I would like to try some lace, but right now I'm digging my heel turns and gussets.
3. What are your hobbies outside of knitting or crocheting? reading, extensively and periodic navel gazing
4. Do you have any fiber allergies? Fiber preferances? No allergies, no preference
5. Do you have any favourite books, music, or tv shows? If so, what are they? Favorite books - so hard to answer - love YA literature, don't read enough contemporary fiction, love watching NCIS, the Ghost Whisperer, Numbers and Ghost Hunters
6. Do you have any pets? my husband has a dog, I have 2 cats, and my daughter has 4 fish which I feed every morning
7. Do you prefer salty or sweet snacks? ssssnackssss - any kind
8. Do you prefer coffee or tea? tea - hate coffee - it makes me crazy
9. Aside black, which colours do you like/dislike? dislike baby blue, not crazy about browns but love reds, blues and purples
10. What is your favourite time of the year? (season-wise or holiday-wise) Fall!!!
11. What is your favourite scent? besides apples?
12. What do you collect? yarn, books, dust
13. If there's anything else you'd like your swappee to know, list them here: I'm excited for this swap!

Friday, April 18, 2008

And they're off

We're off to Niagara Falls and Toronto (with a stop at Ikea and perhaps Lettuce Knit) for the weekend.
And we're leaving right now....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday Quiz - Ecological Footprint

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, and because this is my Thursday quiz day, an Ecological Footprint quiz can be found at this link.
Go ahead, click on the link and find out what your ecological footprint is.
I have to say I am not at all pleased with mine.
The only good thing I have to say about myself is that I rarely drive to work, well except during the winter, and I shop at local stores so I can keep my mileage to under 100 miles per week.
Here are my results.
Let me know how you fare.









Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Did Not Get Lost in Cleveland

I returned to New York but got extremely busy with life - and work - and haven't taken the time to blog.
We went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and it was amazing!!

We ended up buying an annual membership so we can go back whenever we want. Memberships like that definitely do pay for themselves as we would have had to pay $74 for four of us to get in. An annual membership cost $120.
You can see why.
So we all loved it, the museum is right on the waterfront (lovely, grey Lake Erie) and while we were there we actually did see two celebrities.
Bootsy Collins from Parliament-Funkadelic was there and we shouted to him, "We love you Bootsy!" DH and SN2 actually got up close and watched him being interviewed by the Parliament exhibit where two of his outfits are on display.
He certainly is a larger than life figure in an awesome, funky rock and roll way.
And we love that.
Then up by the actual Hall of Fame on the third floor we saw Spencer Davis, founder of his eponymous band.
DN2 was thrilled to see all The Ramones material there - she's a big fan via Guitar Hero (or Rock Band - one of those games).
And SN2 was just completely overcome by the thrill of it all - but I believe he liked The Beatles exhibit best.
I think The Beatles are making a big comeback with this generation.
I loved seeing Duane Allman's guitars and Neil Young's fringe jacket.
The gift shop had framed albums for $110!
I told SN2 that we could go up in the attic and pull out some albums, frame them and save ourselves a lot of money.
It was about a four hour drive to get there but on the way back time flew as we played the rock band game.
Never heard of it?
Well what you do is think of the name of a band. I think you can start it with anyone you want.
Let's say Tori Amos (she pops into my head mostly because I'm listening to American Doll Posse while I'm typing this). Then you take the last letter of the artist/band's name and find another artist or band who starts with that letter.
So - Tori Amos can become The Sugar Hill Gang. Then you have to find a band that begins with "g". First one I think of is The Grateful Dead so now find a band that begins with "d".
Got it? And we ruled that the article "the" doesn't count.
It can be a lot of fun, and it can be even funnier if your 9 year old is throwing out names of bands that you have never even heard of!!
That older brother/sister influence. Although DH doubted me when I threw out Echo and the Bunnymen.
Anyway, it was a great trip - just overnight but long enough to have a great time.
Next time around I'm going to suggest that Kristi meet me in Cleveland we can be two rock chicks hanging out in the rock palace.
But she's much cooler because she drives a Harley.
Now, one more day of work and I'm off for two days.
Another quick trip this time.
Can you guess where we're going?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Can You Guess Where We're Headed?

Don't say "to hell in a handbasket" either, please.
And it wouldn't be just any basket, it would be one of my 300 Longaberger baskets.
So there.
Anyway, you're making me digress.
Focus, focus.
We're off on a short overnight trip.
SN2 is celebrating his birthday on Monday and we want to go somewhere special.
I'll think we'll find that special place right here.
Can you guess where it is?And yes, I will knit socks while I'm there.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday Quiz - Are nerd and geek synonomous?

Here is my nerd score. What is yours?

I am nerdier than 42% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My New Treasured Item

I have to say up front and without any hint of egoism, I have met or have known (or been around) a good number of famous (or infamous) people.
This has happened primarily because of the places I've worked and the people for whom I have worked.
I'm a straphanger of the first order.
In my current job I'm still connected to some well-connected people.
Does it mean much to me?
Honestly, no, because I'm not overly thrilled by much.
Being able to knit socks thrills me.
That should be your indicator.
I've never been much of an autograph hound either.
Just saying "Hey" to someone and having them say "Hey" back is cool for me.
However, there are some people who absolutely thrill me.
They hold a special place in my heart because they are connected to memories of a particular time or place.
And mostly just because what they have to say resonates with me.
So when this came in the mail today from my good friend Julie in Minnesota, I WAS THRILLED!!!
Here's what it is:
And here's the inscription:
Now this is awesome!!
Can you read it?
This is obviously a birthday present from last year, but honestly, this is a perfect present at any time of the year!!
I love Garrison Keillor's books, his tapes, his radio show, and the fact that he is an English major and knows just how much (and yet how little) we contribute to society.
Many, many thanks to Julie who is great for more reasons than just because we share the same first name.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

An Inch an Hour

Sunday evening we sat and ate dinner and watched two movies.
After I had finished eating I picked up my second sock and got to work. I have taken it with me everywhere and knit on it when I can, but having devoted tv time is almost priceless.
I'm also working on another sock so this second sock keeps getting pushed to the side as I go back and forth between projects.
I started working on the leg and I figure that I knit about an inch an hour during the two films that we watched.
(Wash up the dishes? Shouldn't the cobbler's elves be taking care of that later?)The first film we saw was The Seeker, and you know I was prepared to be underwhelmed mostly because it is based on Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. It should say loosely based, because this movie contains only portions of what the books has. And even then it is not really clear. On a rating of 1-10 I'd give it a "meh".
Then we watched Into the Wild. It was beautifully filmed but I know I'm getting old because I can't help but wonder why he couldn't find his enlightenment until he was near death and alone.
SN2, however, who is 16 thought it was outstanding, so I guess the theme of wanderlust is alive in our youth and not quite so much in old fogeys.
The music was superb. But it was Eddie Vedder.
Do the math.
And I can totally see how Hal Holbrook was nominated for an Oscar for his role - he was superb.
So I watched and I knit, and I knit and I watched, and imagine my surprise when Monday night I realized that the leg was not supposed to be 9" long, which I kept thinking it was, but 7"!
It is those special moments you have to treasure, because this morning I turned the heel!
I was 5 minutes late to work, but how do you leave a heel right in the middle?
I will bring my sock with me today and continue to work on the foot.
I've got to get it done because I also started another sock yesterday - but it's knit with Lion Brand Thick and Quick on size 13s. I'm already staring the heel in the face.
And loving these socks!!!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Charity Knitting

I'm putting together a knitting group at work.
It's not just for my office but for the entire campus.
I envision this as a networking/charity knitting group. Of course those who wish to crochet or participate in other crafts are encouraged to attend as well.
I've written up a five-paragraph order (of sorts) that identifies what we're doing, when, how, why, and with what materials.
Does anyone have any hints or sage advice that they could share that will help me as I embark on this new adventure?
I would appreciate it.

Friday, April 04, 2008

And we all chose a chicken dish

DN2 and I went out to eat with my buddies Jean and Sheri.
With them I'm always guaranteed a "laugh so hard you pee in your pants" time. Sure enough....
Anyway, we met up for dinner at a Chinese restaurant and we sat close to the giant fish tank. If it's over so many gallons is it then called an aquarium? I'll have to find out.
Yeah, I don't really care.
There were big fish but none on our table.
We filled up with fried noodles and duck sauce - or whatever they call those crunchy thingys they give you for free.
The Chinese version of salsa and chips.
I didn't realize how long we were there but when we left I realized we had spent almost 2 1/2 hours in the restaurant. Our waitress probably expected more than an $8 tip.
Well bring some more salsa and chips without us having to ask!
She did, however, bring the oranges at the end.
Here's Sheri enjoying hers:
Work that orange, girl.
No, she doesn't do that professionally.
Just kidding!
And here's Jean. Smile pretty for the camera, Coco:
You can practically read the words in her eyes, "Take the damn picture already, would you before I smack you!"
I almost brought my completed sock along, but I forgot it at the last minute.
We'll just have to get together very soon so we can all take a picture with what should be socks by then (plural, not singular).
We had a great time catching up on what's going on with the people at work and also what my favorite anesthesiologist is doing.
No, that's not gossip, it's called back-briefing.
Do these two faces look like they belong to gossipy women?

Sheri's son is graduating from college this year - exciting times ahead for him.
And now DN1 can stop threatening him at parties by telling him, "If you don't behave I'll tell your mother!"
True story.
Surprisingly enough it usually shuts him up.
He should make a good husband someday.
Oh, and we all got chicken dishes - General Tso, sesame chicken, lemon chicken, and chicken lo mein.
We'll have to go with some beef dishes next time.
But no fish.
We'll leave them in the aquarium/tank.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday Quiz - Typing

How fast do you type?

82 words

Speed test

I think you get faster each time with this test.
But I'd love to know your speed.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

We'll drive great distances for good pizza

And we'll also drive good distances for great pizza.
Last night SN2 and I took a 16 mile round trip drive to get pizza from a place that he swears "has the best pizza in the world."
The pizza shop is located in an inauspicious location in a town with no traffic light, so you know it is a hole in the wall.
You walk into the store that is celebrating its 30 year anniversary and to the right are two tables where customers can sit and eat their pizza. The other window alcove is stacked with 50 pound bags of flour. There's not a lot of room in a shop that is this narrow, but there are some groceries on the shelves. This town has no grocery store, they have to travel 14 miles roundtrip to hit the grocery store in my town!
But there is definitely a line for pizza.
People know good pizza.
The phone rang 3 times while we were waiting in line with people calling in take-out orders!
You can buy a whole pizza or by the slice, and they have 6 varieties of slices available.
SN2 insisted we had to get the country sweet with chicken.
The pizza is not made with tomato sauce but with some kind of sweet sauce.
It is good, the crust is soft but crusty, the chicken chunks are a good size and I will definitely give it a try again.
Because who wouldn't drive that far for good pizza?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Board Games

When I was commenting on her great new Hogwart's cross stitch piece yesterday, I was telling Micky about a new board game I found.
When DN2 and I were in JoAnn's on Saturday I saw this in the store - it is called Stitch-opoly and it is from DMC.
The board has embroidery stitches and I believe the cards even tell you how to stitch them.
The game pieces are little stitching tools:
It was so unique and I really liked it. I would have bought it but it was $25 and I thought perhaps I would find a 50% off coupon in Sunday's paper. I didn't, so I still have to get out there and somehow get this game.
I don't normally collect Monopoly games, but we do seem to have quite a few -- at least five. It starts as many collections do, not intentionally but once you have more than two, you have a collection. Right?