Monday, July 31, 2006

It's That Time Again.

The end of July. School will start soon. The bulk of summer vacation is now behind The Sheep and she must prepare herself for the task she spends June and July banishing from all brain whorls and creases. No neural activity whatsoever goes into this endeavor. None. It is a little "to-do" item that causes such angst, tears and vile language that it must be carefully worked into the schedule in order that no children, frail elders or nuns are possibly going to be wandering into the vicinity.

It is the taking out of the grown-up clothes. And seeing what still fits. If anything.

I spend my summer in loose fitting shorts, floppy sandals and t-shirts. I'll recycle the comfiest of these garments as needed in order to ensure that no piece of fabric is actually touching my skin at any given time. This type of dressing lends itself to losing perspective of one's body image. There is some "skewing..."

I have made every attempt to keep up the work-out schedule this summer...honest. But it's been tough. The heat has really made it difficult to commit, you know? When you are already sweating buckets and have managed to become literally adhered to the couch by the backs of your now-lumpy thighs it is statistically likely that you are not going to want to wriggle into work-out garb so that you can now be adhered to an exercise ball. I've pretty much only managed to hit the bike and weights twice a week on any given week since school let out in June.

The Great Clothing Trial of '06 may not go very well. Wherever you may be on this great blue marble as you read this, prepare yourself. You will hear my screams of horror and dismay regardless of distance. Seriously...I haven't worn anything that has an actual "waistband" or required "tucking" in forty-one days. Pray for me.

On a happier note, I was able to upload an actual, real, live photo tonight. It took more time than than it took Leonardo to crank out Mona Lisa, but it's there for your viewing pleasure!


Spinning Finn takes your mind off the expanding waistline!!!
I'm resisting the urge to just ply up the smaller amounts. I've got 8 more ounces winging it's way to me as I type so it's it makes far more sense to just fill up the bobbin and ply when I have the singles all done.
Color and The Sheep have an odd relationship. When I throw caution to the wind and choose a color that is well outside my comfort zone, I generally end up happier than if I went with the more conservative choice. This hand-dyed is an example of that premise. The picture really doesn't do it justice and I'll keep working on a better shot. It's yummy...so much so that my only complaint is that I want to stop spinning periodically to go get me a creamsicle!!! I've said it before and I'll say it again: You rock, Sheila!!!!!
Of course I can't have a creamsicle. No matter what the Finn is telling me. The Finn doesn't understand that I have to fit into grown-up pants soon.
Must. Eat. Celery!
SA

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Someone Called Me An Idiot Today.

I know I'm not an idiot...I've hung out with me for years now and I've seen evidence of my intelligence on a daily basis. However, when you inadvertently cut someone off in the parking lot of a shopping center they don't have much history to go on and have to make a judgment call based on what they're seeing in the moment. I'll own it...its not like I haven't been questioning my level of heat-induced brain melt of late.

Take the Muff-Along situation. Having noted that a couple of other folks had already cranked out at least one muff and were happily looking ahead at a veritable avalanche of muffs to be made for holiday gifts and such, I decided that I'd better get a-crackin' on this. I dug through the stash for suitable yarns but was stumped by my lack of appropriately sized circs upon which to create the muff-to-end-all-muffs. I figured that dpns would work just as well. And they might have...if I'd actually taken a second to look at the size. I knit pretty loosely and almost always hit gauge if I just drop one needle size. But these were well below what was going to work comfortably. Still, I figured that this would simply make a denser fabric and that is a good thing in a muff, right?

Knitting on the dpns was becoming painful after a few rows, though and I was getting ready to just frog the whole thing when a somewhat obvious solution presented itself. That little "epiphany voice" piped up with, "You know...if socks can soar on circular needles, why couldn't a muff?" I'd been perusing that tome with the idea that this might be a better way for my clicking wrists to more comfortably knit socks so this probably should have occurred to me sooner. I moved the whole thing over to two circular needles, took a minute to bang my head on the wall repeatedly as penance for my failure to catch on to this sooner and the muff is progressing nicely. Later tonight I will be drafting a letter to the Vatican strongly suggesting that Cat Bordhi be considered for sainthood in the immediate future. We'll see how that goes. I'm not actually Catholic or anything so the Pope may "back-burner" this one for a while.

My last less than brilliant moment was a tad more serious. As I was posting last night's entry, I noticed that I had begun to sweat rather profusely. Not the kind of perspiration that you can call a "glow" and pretend you're just the epitome of the southern belle...this was just a good, old fashioned soaking. I found it odd that my skin could be so cold and clammy while I was so obviously overheated. In addition, my pulse rate seemed a bit high, but that isn't really unusual for me. The stomach cramping was noteworthy, though.

If someone else had mentioned these symptoms to me I would have quickly responded with, "Why, you silly goose, you are suffering from heat exhaustion. The temperature in your living room has been holding at 93 degrees for two days straight now. You might want to start pushing some fluids there!" Of course, self-diagnosis is never quite so easy and it was at least forty minutes before I punched my ticket on the clue train and started to rehydrate, put pressure on the crampy spots and check my temperature. Fortunately, I caught it before we moved on to anything more serious and a nice, cool bath did wonders for my disposition! I'm even feeling more kindly towards the tourists that were so irritating me yesterday!

Still no photos available. My ISP is running as slow as molasses these days and this isn't conducive to uploading. Hopefully things will improve in the next few days and muff progress can be duly documented.

Off to enjoy the bliss of cooler temps and two workin' circs!

SA

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Grumpy...Very Grumpy!

I, the Grumpy Sheep, do acknowlege the following:

I made the choice to live at the beach.

I made this choice knowing full well that others in the world might want to use this beach.

Sometimes people walk.

Walking people will take up space and I need to allow for that when driving. Its a "physics" thing.


While I may be willing to accept this information, it did little to calm my rising temper as I attempted to make a quick grocery store run this morning. Don't get me wrong; I'm tickled pink, pleased as punch, happy as a clam and giddy as a school girl to know that others find my little corner of the country a nice place to visit. I embrace the tourist industry. You improve my tax base. Come on over, spend your dollars and marvel at the splendor that is the Maine coast.

Today, however, might have been a good day to give me a little space.

The pedestrians were just not giving an inch. I'm bigger, I'm comprised of more mass what with being in a large metal vehicle and all. Work with me, here. I'm not suggesting that you don't belong...just that you acknowlege my presence. Strolling nonchalantly across a busy thoroughfare as if it were a deserted field is not demonstrating said acknowlegement. I don't ask for much. Pick up the pace. I'll even accept the "bounce walk." You know what I mean: the thing where you run in slow motion but are not actually moving any faster than you were when you were strolling. If nothing else, by the sheer distance you move vertically vs. horizontally, you are showing me that you are making an effort. It's all I ask.

My mood is, I'm sure, due to the heat, the fact that I was up at the crack of dawn disposing of a defunct hornets nest, the heat, sealing my screens and...have I mentioned the heat? It's hot. Really hot. I'm just not designed for this.

I did manage some progress on a couple of projects today. I put together a few more blocks for The Quilt Of Anxiety and stitched several together just for snorts and giggles. This'll never end up in the Smithsonian or anything, but it's not looking too bad, if I do say so myself. Of course, the humidity has fogged my glasses somewhat so who knows what havoc I have actually wrought.

I then put in some wheel time and spun up over half of the Finn. I'm loving it so much that I had to take a little break from my bug killing duties to order some more. When one has spent the last month or so in full-out war one feels justified in indulging one's self. I'm also eating alot of chocolate at this point...

Photos were planned for this post but it seems that the internet is broken today. We'll try again tomorrow. The cats have been striking some truly awesome poses of late; stances which are probably inspired by their attempts at removing their flea treatment but are blog worthy all the same.

Must dash. I'm personally visiting the homes of all our town council members with my suggestion for warp speed conveyor belts at all cross walks. Wish me luck!

SA

Friday, July 28, 2006

Bug Invasion Headquarters: A Briefing From The Insect General

The Insect General has just mounted the podium in order that he might address his troops. This will be his long-awaited speech detailing the next major wave in the ongoing assault upon the Sheep, her home and her very sanity. We join the briefing already in progress:

Good afternoon troops. It is my privilege to address you on this hot, humid and basically unbearable day. This weather, while not of our making, has most certainly been a deciding factor in this war as it has made the human lethargic and cranky and easily manipulated. This has truly been a glorious turn of events and one that may very well ensure our victory over The Sheep for all time. She is nearly at her breaking point.

As you know, this battle represents an unprecedented joining of forces across the species. Creepies and Crawlies of all creeds 'n breeds have come together to make this the war to end all wars. United we stand and march to victory.

To date, all has gone according to plan. The first and second ant invasions were met with minimal force. She got cocky. We followed that with an empty "decoy" hornets nest just inside her left hand living room window. This was designed to "shock and awe" despite it's being uninhabited. Next came the detonation of the baby spider bomb. She actually handled that one fairly well. What can I say? The best laid plans and all...

With her having discovered the fleas on the cats we now have this human so hopelessly diverted that we can forge ahead with our true plan: the building of the master nest on the right hand window screen just behind the blinds. This one will not be uninhabited. This one will be our command post for all future attacks. From here we can quickly escalate our plan of torture and chaos until The Sheep is, once and for all, defeated beyond hope of resurrection.

I see we have a question. Yes, there in the back...you, private. What would you like to know?

Um, well, sir...this all seems kinda mean. Why exactly are we doing this again? I mean, it's not like she is personally responsible for the hatred of all insects or anything.

That kind of talk is treason, son. We don't go there.


I honestly don't know what I have done to anger the insect community. As a child I read the occasional Spider Man comic. I watched The Bugaloos regularly, for crying out loud. I don't love the bugs, but I never mounted a full-on assault on them or anything. This is all so perplexing...

In deference to my Post "Monkey-Pox" lungs and because I live with cats as old as Methuselah I have withheld the sprays until today. A live hornets nest forming on the inside of your living room window screen, however, is cause for chemicals. I honestly do try to use as few as possible, but this has gone beyond less toxic means.

And the hornets are not happy about this. Several have found little nooks and crannies through which to squirm in and register their complaints with regard to the spraying. Their concerns will be duly noted and processed through the complaint department at a later date.

Not that they will be around to file an appeal or anything...we're just trying to be fair about this.

Hopefully there will be some news of the crafty variety tomorrow.

SA

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Sheep Gets School During Her Summer Vacation.

Today was a "stay in and be all Cathy Crafty" kind of day. It was also a day filled with teaching moments. Here is what I have learned:

1. When they say, "don't use hand-quilting thread in your sewing machine" they are not kidding. This is not a suggestion. It is a hard and fast sort of rule.

2. There is really no such thing as "free motion quilting." I don't care what anyone says. There is no way on God's green earth that anyone can sustain that level of movement. Feed dogs should remain in the full and upright position at all times. Don't be tricked into thinking that you can rampantly move the sample quilt you are practicing on without them. Urban quilting myths can be seductive but should be ignored at all costs.

3. I am not a hand-quilter. The amount of bloodshed elicited by repeated pin pricks should be enough of an indicator. However, if more proof is required, take a gander at your stitches...it's not pretty. For that matter, let's just not try that hand-piecing thing again either. No good will come of it.

4. Try to hearken back a day or two when taking out the sewing machine. If the last thing you did was a zig-zag stitch it is highly likely that you never reset the little dial thingies for a straight stitch.

5. Punching the sewing machine is not an effective means of coaxing it into doing a straight stitch. Try adjusting the little dial thingies.

Isn't it nice that The Sheep is capable of traversing the learning curve at her advanced age? And I am so very willing to share my knowledge with all and sundry. I'm a giver. This might be more of a gesture were these things not so patently obvious to anyone else or tips readily available to anyone who bothers to take the time to read up on a subject before flinging themselves headlong into a craft. But I like to cover the bases in the event that there are others out there with my general temperament and impatience.

I completed several nine patches today despite some technical difficulties with the sewing machine:




That's a whole lotta blue goin' on there!!!
This does not represent the final layout of the blocks. (real quilters are breathing a sigh of relief on that one) I just did these randomly to see what the fabrics looked like together. I'll come up with something that more closely resembles a pattern before final assembly, I swear!
In other news, I noted that the plum silk had been sitting on the wheel for quite some time now, untouched, unloved un...something or other. At any rate, while I do still love it, this struck me as an indicator that perhaps it was time to switch out for something different. I'm currently spinning up a bobbin full of the Finn that I purchased earlier this month from Sheila. Inspiration has returned! It is lovely and soft and the color is just so bright and happy! I may actually get one skein of yarn turned out before the summer vacation is just a pleasant memory.
Lastly, the front of the Boogie vest is off the needles and the back is slowly creeping towards the finish line. Yup...this one is what you'd call a "quick knit."
All in all, not a bad day's work. Nothing that I can call finished, but a good start and only minimal injuries incurred. And it was really hot today...the ice I needed to put on my hand after punching the sewing machine was just so cooling and delightful.
I believe we call that "multi-tasking."
SA

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pretend Its 8:00 a.m.

The Sheep has just completed a lengthy and detailed explanation with regard to the sensitive spots at her gumline that she would like the hygenist to not poke, prod or otherwise anger. An agreement appears to have been reached. 7 pokey things, 1 sucky thing and four fingers have just been crammed into the Sheep's mouth.

Cute Little Hygenist: So, anyway, like I was saying...me 'n my husband drove all the way to Minnesota to see this concert and he's all, "I don't know why you won't drive," and I'm all "I'm sleeping here," and he's like all mad and stuff but I told him I don't drive in the hard parts but he's just not getting it...

Sheepish Annie: Grrple snick fart (translation: you are coming dangerously close to the sore part)

CLH: I know...how insensitive can a guy be? So, like, the concert was totally awesome and it was so totally worth getting all mad and stuff. Like we sort of forgot it, you know? I mean, what kind of music isn't wicked awesome live, right? Well, I mean, I guess there's some music that sucks no matter what..

SA: Greep, tuffle snark!! (translation: no, seriously...that's the spot! Have a care now Little Hygenist!)

CLH: So I suppose people tell you all the time that you look just like Sharon Rose, right? I mean, when I saw you I thought to myself, "wow...that lady looks just like Sharon Rose!" I'll bet you get that all the time...

SA: Farkwat, Farkwat Farkwat!!!!! (translation: yeah, sometimes I do get that...oh my god!!! That's the sore spot!!!)

CLH: Just let me know if I get near that tender spot. Wouldn't want to hit that, now would we?

SA: Faffuh geet. (translation: Just what you'd think The Sheep is saying at this point.)

Aside from that, however, this wasn't as bad as it could have been. Contact with Dr. DeSade, DMD was minimal given my cavity-free state. His only cutting comment was to the Cute Little Hygenist regarding her car. It seemed appropriate to him to tell the her that her car was crap and that she should buy American. Despite the hygenist's tendency to chatter, I am very loyal to her and was horrified on her behalf. If not for her, I would be taking penicillin before each visit despite being somewhat allergic to it. (Dr. DeSade was thinking deep thoughts or something when I mentioned it...) She also had the good sense to gasp quietly when he began a sentence with the words, "at your age..." during my first visit. She actually saved both our lives that day...
It is with great relief that I report I will not be needing to visit with the good dentist for another six months. I'll update the sidebar so that we can all keep track and obsess over it for half a year, 'kay?

Sadly, my appointment at the mechanic did not go as smoothly. I need some brake work done and the car is "uninspectable." I would be grateful for this information had I not been there to actually have the truck repaired rather than to get helpful suggestions with regard to what I should be doing. Mr. mechanic man did not understand that he was being "authorized" to do the repairs and simply did the oil and filter changes. So, I get to go back again...and my truck still squeals and hums. Yippee.

In the world of crafty goodness, there has been little progress. I was a bit busy during the morning hours and needed a nap by the afternoon. (The Sheep slept poorly last night for some reason...its a mystery) I've made headway cutting squares for the nine-patch blocks with which I will be creating The Quilt Of Anxiety. I knit a bit but it was sorta hot today so that didn't appeal for very long. Maybe when things cool down a bit this evening I'll be able to finish up the front to the Puke Green Boogie Vest.

I've got some more time now that I'm not flossing 6-7 hours per day in preparation for a dental visit.

SA

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Practicing My Cringing.

I'll be doing alot of that tomorrow. Physical Cringing will occur because I have fairly sensitive teeth and have, in my dental panic, probably brushed away half of my gums leaving bare roots for cleaning. Emotional Cringing will be required because my dentist is not exactly the kind of guy who thinks before he speaks. Or he does think but is so enamored of himself and his stature as a DMD that he has lost any sense of "context" and "appropriateness" in conversations. In our time together he has suggested to me that special needs children should pay to attend public schools (I am a special educator), that the premise of a television show featuring a woman as president is "bullsh**t," and has informed me that I require a bleaching. But that he won't do it. He doesn't think I deserve it apparently.

I spent alot of time at the dentist as a wee, little lambie. Not due to poor dental habits or anything, but because of my small mouth. (note: anyone who knows The Sheep personally has just fallen off their chair and is currently rolling around on the floor in the throes of laughter) My teeth were too large for my tiny jawline and several had to be extracted to make room for all the gi-normous ivories. And, you know, I never had a problem with it. I was fine. Cut me open, rip things out of my head...whatever. I was a blase little bugger.

But Dr. DeSade DMD (not his real name) has instilled in me a fear of the dental chair that is just unshakable. Sadly, he also happens to be pretty good at what he does, albeit a bit rough. He is not a good listener and probably should have cocked an ear my way prior to the root canal when I happened to mention (ten times) that novacaine is not particularly effective on me. But he was able to reconstruct a tooth that was shattered below the gumline and I guess that has to count for something.

I'm still gonna be completely stressed out until my cleaning is over and I can escape the confines of the chair 'o doom.

Well, that might be true were it not for the fact that I am heading over to the mechanic to deal with my squealing truck immediately afterwards. Tomorrow is going to be a very expensive day, I fear.

As a coping mechanism I cast on and knit like a demon on a new vest from the Knitty archives:





It's the Boogie Vest!
Cuz I don't have enough garments in puke green. We all need at least one puke green vest in our wardrobe right? What can I say? My greenbacks are all currently earmarked for the dentist and the mechanic. I had to use what I had on hand. Why I had puke green yarn in my stash I do not know. It was probably some sort of yarn black-out or something. I'm not asking questions.
And, for some reason, I seem to have begun cutting pieces for a quilt. A quilt!!! This is going to be a bumpy ride, fraught with tears, tantrums and "the bad words."
Is no one going to try and stop me?????
SA

Monday, July 24, 2006

I've Gone Done 'N Done It!

While The Sheep is firmly convinced that it is a healthy thing to challenge oneself every so often, she also believes that one must keep ones natural skills and abilities in mind when considering new projects. For example, if the sight of blood makes you pass out for an hour or so then brain surgery is probably never going to be your shot at the Nobel Prize. Not a criticism or anything...I'm just saying.

Like anyone else, I have certain areas where I excel and others where I, shall we say, "lack natural gifts." With the aid of a rotary cutter, Plexiglas straight-edge and lined mat I am unable to cut a straight line. I have some definite issues with color matching. I have only recently figured out that my sewing machine can be adjusted to accommodate different stitch lengths and that this is sometimes a pretty good idea. I have great difficulty thinking "part" to "whole."

So I was as surprised as anyone when I ended up with this on Saturday afternoon:





By Sunday afternoon this had materialized:


And today? Let's just take a look here:


Back view of a quilted tote


Front view of a tote complete with quilted pocket.

God help me. I've quilted. This is looking like yet another slippery slope craft-wise. I've always been sort of fascinated by quilting, but knew that it wasn't anything that I was going to attempt. It always seemed like sort of "fussy" work and I'm not one who enjoys taking note of those little details...like the pervading smell of smoke or sirens, stuff like that. But every once in the proverbial blue moon I start to see the process in a way that makes sense. I had the same experience with algebra and broccoli and no good ever came from that. But that's another story for another time. In the here and now I suddenly have an overwhelming urge to quilt until my fingers bleed. This is going to get ugly, I just know it.

I have to keep reminding myself, "I am a knitter, I am a knitter, I am a knitter!" See? Look!! I knit something:


Thank you dear skein winder for being such a patient model.

Knitting will continue, I'm sure of it. I have a vest pattern on the radar right now as well as a couple of other things I'd like to finish before the summer vacation comes to it's inevitable end.

The only question remaining: How the heck do I find a mantra to remind myself that I am also a spinner before the fiber stash overtakes the house?

SA

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Full Of Sound And Fury...

...and , sadly, signifying zip, zero, nada, the great goose egg, pick your favorite euphemism. I still end up with a grand total of nothing.

I am within about five inches of the finale of the Great Shawl Experiment. So close, I can taste the victory. (and surprisingly, it tastes like chicken...) But those five inches are beyond this Sheep tonight. I've knit to the point of pain in my index finger (I knit continental) and have decided to give it a break. Perhaps tomorrow there will be an FO about which to blog. For tonight, though, I'm simply at a loss.

And this means that I can take some time to focus on an upcoming event that my ten loyal readers are probably awaiting with giddy anticipation: my dentist appointment. New readers can hit the archives for more detail, but the long and the short of it is that I have a hate/hate relationship with my dentist. This after having endured a root canal with ineffective pain killers, what may or may not have been a dislocated jaw and ten (count 'em ten) fillings over a a four month period. With each visit my dread of the dental chair grew and where else did a trembling Sheep have to vent except over them internets? My dental posts got rave reviews.

Of course, that was back when I only had three loyal readers. Standards may be different when one has an audience that has just edged into double digits.

At any rate, another installment in the ongoing saga of The Sheep and The Dentist is upcoming. Those of you who have issues with those torturers who roam amongst us may want to go read Cosmo or The Reader's Digest for a few days. If you happen to be a dentist, I'll just apologize in advance for what may or may not be disparaging comments about your profession. I'm sure that you are a nice dentist who is kind and gentle and doesn't make comments that begin with the words, "at your age." Please don't come to my house or anything. It's just the stress talkin'!

So, here's The Sheep signing off in order that she might tend to her aching digit and tweaking nerves. If you need me, I'll be flossing for the next hour or so...

SA

Saturday, July 22, 2006

FO With A Side Of Preface.

Here's the thing: Every single one of you reading this right now is a better knitter than The Sheep.

You...yes, you. The non-knitter in Poughkeepsie who stumbled into this blog after doing a Google search for "spiders." You, for all your confusion right now, are a better knitter than I. You just don't know it yet.

This is, in no way, an attempt at self-deprecation. Let's face it. My ten loyal readers are here for the wit, not the knit. I'm perfectly ok with that. I knit for the sheer love of it, not because I'm going to be a rock-star stitcher at any given point in the future. I know who I be...

I preface this post because, in a few seconds, there is going to be alot of collective eye-rolling and cries of, "are you kidding me...this is what all the angsty fussing has been about over the last couple of months?" And I won't blame you. Not one little bit. Because this should have been far less of a drama. But I'm an average knitter, at best. An average knitter knitting a specific project without a pattern and only two grainy pictures from my cell phone as a reference. An average knitter attempting to recreate a garment at the request of the person who does my hair...a big deal for me.

So here it is...Amy's Project! (get ready to shake your head in despair at your favorite Sheep)





A simple wrap with a buckle closure.

And here's what it looks like paired with a grungy Old Navy T-shirt...

I'm still not convinced that I've copied the wrap that Amy really wanted. But I just can't keep reknitting this thing. I have a life. (of sorts...) The actual garment has been done for a week or so now. We ran into difficulties with the buckle. My choice was to leave it uncovered as kind of permanent jewelry for the wrap. I found a neat silver-toned one that gave it a sort of "forties" look. Amy, however, really wanted it to be covered. This was a problem given that A) I don't really know how to do that and B) the yarn was so thick that it made the buckle too small to accommodate the strap. I solved the problem by making my own buckle using plastic canvas. I then stitched over it with a needle and yarn. It worked, but is probably not what my stylist had in mind. We'll see how she feels about it. The only other option was a lengthy buckle hunt and I just didn't have it in me.

So we can now safely say that Amy's Project is "off the needles." Well, for the moment. I have a bad feeling that I will be reworking this. For the time being, however, it is just nice to call it "done."

I am suddenly very tired...angsty fussing will really take it outta ya!

SA


Thursday, July 20, 2006

My Babies Are Growing Up..."sniff, sniff..."

I'll admit it. I wasn't much of a parent to the spider who recently gifted me with so very many little grandbabies. I was never really there for her. She was left to her own devices. She grew up on the streets. Well...on the ceiling. She found herself in a "family way" without the loving guidance of a caring mother to whom she could turn with her questions and fears.

It is apparently her revenge that I raise her children. Seems fair given that, in all likelihood, I squished her.

Those of you with real children and grandchildren are probably aware of how quickly the time passes and the speed with which developmental gains are made. My spider grandchildren have discovered that they have "silk." And that this allows them a new sort of mobility. Now the little "darlings" are repelling from the ceiling and past my line of vision with frightening regularity. If one were to covertly observe The Sheep in her living room knitting or watching the tube they would see her periodically look to the left, shriek and begin flapping at what, to the distant observer, might look like hallucinated attackers. Medication would follow.

Last night, I found one of the critters swinging merrily from my glasses bow. They are so frickin' tiny that it took me a while to realize that this was an actual eight-legged entity and not a spot on my always dirty glasses. Let's all take a minute to shudder together on that one....

I look forward to their teenage years. Spider angst and rebellion should be a hoot.

On to my latest sewing crisis:

I began a new tote bag today. Much to my delight, things were going swimmingly. I was filled with a certain smugness that only comes with mastering a task that has been challenging. Go me!!! I was so filled with self-confidence that I decided to add the grommets to the top as shown in another version of the pattern. I've done grommets before. So what if I can't find the "good" grommet tool? I'll just use this hammery thingie that I have in the crafting supplies. I'm sure it can't be that different...

Here is the bag just before I neglected to test the grommet kit in it's more pristine state:



Not the best picture, but you get the idea...
Now it is a big piece of fabric with holes in it. I just couldn't take the time to make sure that I was truly "grommet ready" and cut the holes with wild abandon. They are even sort of centered. Alas, they are grommet-free. I'll be heading out to spend more of my hard-earned dollars on a more user friendly grommet tool. You know...cuz sewing my own stuff will save me so much money.
I can no longer afford to support my nine million grandchildren. Is there a federal program for this?
SA

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Spidicide.

The battle continues. There was a lull in the Great Bug War of aught-6 following the installation of the sonic bug annoyer which puts out sounds at a frequency that makes the little creepies and crawlies flee into the night. But they are crafty. They are wily. They bide their time. Who knew that they would stoop to using their own children?

I honored my treaty with the spiders. The deal was: stay on the ceiling and live your creepy, disgusting, little lives. It's just too much of an effort for me to reach up there. Come down to my level and all bets are off. It's been an uneasy, but workable, peace accord for many years. Recently, however, the spiders seem to have aligned with the ants and there is no stopping them in their unity. The baby spiders are everywhere. I've killed two of the little buggers today. The first was on the window sill. The second was discovered after it bit me!!!! That's just uncalled for. I've had it. The war is back on and I'm taking no prisoners.

And part of my battle strategy is to live my life. They will not alter my patterns. I am determined to live as a normal human being, not a war zone resident. And with the recent drop in temperature, I was able to resume knitting. Amy's project is nearing completion and looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. This has taken an ungodly long time for such a simple knit. Once I obtained the yarn I still managed to put the whole thing off for a month. I honestly didn't care for the original garment she asked me to copy and that may have had something to do with it. Truth be told, though, I think I was more intimidated by the prospect of Amy finding fault with the finished product. She's sorta "particular..."

There has also been some weaving on the sock yarn belt and I have cranked out approximately 5000 miles of cord on the new lucet. For all that, though, I have but one FO to share:



Meet Mr. Mistakey, the knitting tote.
Mr. Mistakey really isn't as lopsided as he appears in the photo. That's about all I got right. The bottom never really did fit well onto the body of the bag despite my diligently clipping the corners. And there is a spot near the top where the lining didn't catch while being sewn in so there's a little triangle thingie sticking out by one of he handles. There is really no excuse for that except that it was reeeeeeeeeeeeally hot and I was so close to the end that I didn't use the care I should have. I have spent the last day or so coming up with creative and imaginative ways to carry this bag that will help to disguise the "imperfections." Thus far, the best pose seems to involve a somewhat hunched posture and hopping on my right foot.
I'm still working on it. In between spider raids, at any rate.
SA

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Congratulate Me; It Seems I Am A Grandmother!

Surprising, I know. Especially when you consider the fact that I have no children. Well...that I know of, heh, heh. ::wink wink...::

And yet it seems that I somehow managed to successfully raise a happy and healthy spider to adulthood. And this spider has presented me with about eleventy gajillion little bundles of joy. I could be wrong. I'm not such a great parent that I have been paying close attention or maintaining solid communication with my "offspring." But it's the only explanation I have for the sudden plethora of tiny little spiders I've seen crawling hither and thither over the past couple of days. Do I get to have a shower and gifts for this?

Probably not as I seem to be squishing all my little grandbabies. This is not going to put me in line for Grandma Of The Year.

And now to The Sheep over at the weather desk. How're things looking today, Sheep?

It's hot. We hit a record temp. of 95 in the living room today. This has taken a toll on the residents and tempers seem to be rising along with the humidity. A cold front is approaching for tomorrow so we're hoping for the best...back to you, Sheep.

Lastly, I have finished the knitting tote!!! Of course, Blogger is not up to doing photos tonight so you're just going to have to trust me on this one.

I'm not gonna lie to you; this bag has "issues." Serious issues. But it was a good learning experience and helped me to recall some of those skills which haven't been used in quite a while. And if I walk along swinging it jauntily then the movement will blur it enough that no one will notice. I've put some thought into this...

Besides, I'm a grandmother, for crying out loud. I am an elder, deserving of respect and tolerance.

SA

Monday, July 17, 2006

There Are Levels Of "Stupid."

For example, there is the "oh deary me, I seem to have misplaced my glasses" kind of stupid. That rates fairly low unless, of course you need to pick up dropped stitches or do brain surgery. Then it sort of moves up in the rankings. There's the "golly officer, I didn't mean to go so fast but I was rushing to the DMV to renew my license that expired a year ago" kind of stupid. That's pretty big.

I think I can top it, though.

Allow me to present the "of course I'd be willing to undertake a task of epic proportions involving data bases and spreadsheets and the creation of mailing lists" level of stupid-hood. Somehow during Friday's meeting at job #2 I lost any sense of reality and the limits of the human body to produce paperwork. I volunteered to assist with the creation of a new client database and coordinate a service satisfaction survey. I honestly don't know what happened. One minute I was dozing and watching the clock and the next I was having some sort of "out of body moment" and watching myself as I bellowed, "hey, I have an idea!!!"

This was supposed to be a summer of rest. This was supposed to be the first summer in I-don't-know-how-long that I indulged my crafty side to my little heart's content. Visions of FO's were literally dancing within my noggin. Nothing was going to get in my way...I declined every request to come into the office...I turned down cakewalk cases that would have paid me for doing almost nothing...I was going to do this vacation in the manner of my dreams. What happened???????

I was out the door and in the office by 9:00 this morning where I promptly managed to get into a lengthy chat-fest with my boss on topics having absolutely nothing to do with the task at hand. Having decided that I would only put in two or three hours per day for this week, this put me somewhat off schedule. I suspect that I will be working on this project a tad longer than I'd projected in my "see the Sheep make a bid to impress the home office" induced burst of volunteerism.

And this is Social Work. It would be more profitable if they paid me in cheese and shiny beads.

What was I thinking?

SA

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Portents, Part Two.

Last week I posted a picture which I felt reflected a series of cosmic warnings that something might be "afoot" in my little corner of the universe. I awoke bright and early to find this in the living room and questioned whether my cats had somehow developed certain construction skills that might foretell the end of life as we know it:




Kitty Stonehenge?
What I didn't share was what happened the next day. I was cleaning the litterbox as is the duty of any good handmaiden to spoiled kitties and discovered the colorful little fuzzy ball carefully secreted away amongst the other clumps. What did this mean? There were several possiblilites.
1. The cats were attempting to hide the evidence of their evolutionary leap and are even smarter than I originally thought.
2. The cats have developed strange snacking habits and are even more stupid than I originally thought.
3. Late-night kitty play sometimes goes awry.
Keeping in mind that there had been so very many warnings of interesting times ahead, I decided to keep an open mind on this one. Yet, despite my concern, there had been no disasters of note. My TB test was negative, a zepplin did not strike my car and my recent hair appointment went well. The waiting was killing me!
My patience was rewarded today with a visit from the Gods of Stupidity as I attempted to complete a simple trip to WalMart. Recent "judgment errors" in the sewing of the new knitting tote required that I return to the store for more supplies. I arrived without difficulty. And the air conditioning was so delightful. That was the end of "pleasant."
There is no one working in the craft department on Sundays. I rang the little bell but, in fairness, am a tad self-conscious when it comes to the bell-ringing so I can't say that I gave it my all. Fortunately, another woman (less inhibited than I) arrived and gave that brass bad boy the ringing of it's life. Within ten minutes we had someone from electronics over to provide us with dubious assistance. We filled the time with discussing our mutual difficulty cutting straight lines. Turns out the lady from electronics couldn't cut straight either. We all had a fine time chatting about our common disability.
I then spent twenty minutes trying to find where they were hiding the staples.
I knocked over a display of chocolates as I discreetly tried to place a bag in my cart. I wasn't there to buy chocolate. I bought two bags to atone for my clumsiness.
I almost ran over an elderly woman who was attempting to maneuver her Rascal through the hardware department. (I was excited because that's where the staples were for my staple gun.)
Having alienated a number of employees and patrons, I felt that my work there was done and headed for the check-out. I got distracted by a Hi-Def TV display showing Lilo and Stitch and missed the little check-out girl who was trying to get me to move to the next open lane. Just as the person behind me was getting ready to commit justified homicide by running me over with their cart, I realized what I was being asked to do and shifted lanes.
Once in my new lane, I was told that I needed to wait as the gentleman ahead of me was wandering about the cereal aisle to find a bag that did not have a gaping hole in it. He was spotted and it was reported that he was moving quite slowly. My original plan was to give this inconsiderate fellow the nastiest look ever bestowed upon his form. However, upon noting that he was somewhere around 6'4" and looking for all the world like a walking wall in a flannel shirt, I changed my plan and simply avoided eye contact.
After checking out, I felt that I had made it through the retail gauntlet and that I had more than earned a reprieve from the rain of poo the universe was seeing fit to place upon my head. It was then that I noticed the two girls moving at a rapid rate past and ahead of me. I've been in the mental health field long enough to know an guided escort when I see one. And, while this was not one of the situations in which I see them professionally, I do have the common sense to get out of the way when I observe one person frantically guiding someone in a certain direction. In this case, it was the restroom. The "escortee" almost made it. She was within five feet.
And then she hurled.
The "escorter" ( a sister, I believe) did what anyone would do in that situation and retreated. Her leap backwards forced me into a direct puke path. Now, let's face it: Sheep are not known for their speed and maneuverability. If they were, we would race them. But this Sheep executed several moves previously unseen in her kind and was able to successfully negotiate her way around the offending substance with her shoes unsullied and her pedicure intact. I took this as a sign that the portents had been satisfied and that I could get on with my life.
And aside from a couple of sewing-related disasters, things have been quiet ever since. With any luck, that's all I'll see from the good folks at Karma R Us. Just to be on the safe side, I will be avoiding WalMart for a while.
They don't want me back there anyway.
SA

Saturday, July 15, 2006

There Seems To Be Something To This Global Warming Thing.

The thermometer in my living room has read 92 degrees for the past two days. Now, before you scamper off to the comments page to tell me of your childhood in the center of the Mojave where the coolest day on record was 674* and that you could only afford to vacation on the surface of the sun, please know this:

I live in Maine. We are not built for this.

Homes in Maine are constructed to withstand Nor'Easters and black flies. They rarely come with central air.

I am a middle aged woman battling a combo platter of PMS and perimenopause.

You may commiserate with me if you choose. But, I beg of you, please don't poke the bear. I am so very hot.

It is safe to say that there has not been much in the way of crafty goodness over the last 48 hours. Yesterday morning I headed out early to run a few errands before going in for a meeting at job #2. As I was being such a good little worker bee, it seemed fitting that I treat myself to lunch. And whaddaya know? The Full Belly Deli just happened to be right there when I made this decision. Ain't fate a beautiful thing? As I rarely dine out, I went whole hog (and I do mean "hog") and got myself the Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich on a kaiser roll with a side 'o fries. Just the thing on a day with full on heat and humidity. However, as I was planning on taking it back to the office where the arctic winds blow courtesy of the air conditioners, it was still a workable choice. Following the meeting, I had a Parenting Education session in a small and ungodly hot little apartment in the middle of town. Time and my dripping state at day's end did not lend itself to project completion.

I spent some time with my favorite stylist this morning and let her know that her project is nearing completion. We chose a buckle for the finished item and she was perfectly fine with my setting it aside for today given the heat. Amy may be a forceful presence, but even she realized that today might not be a day to make me go home and knit. She is a wise woman.

Following a trip to the used bookstore next to the salon, I headed home and did a tiny bit of weaving on my belt. That seemed like a fairly "cool" option. Then I made something of a judgment error.

I broke out the sewing.

Given my overheated and overhormoned state, this was the absolute wrong thing to do. Every step forward on my tote bag was followed by three back. I was able to successfully come up with a strategy for getting the handles completed (the pattern direction on this task was just not working out as intended...I fudged.) and get them basted on. I also came up with a piece to fit into the bottom of the bag to give it some stability and shape. The pattern suggests that you sew in a piece of cardboard between the lining and bag, but I felt that this would be a bad plan given my need for washability. I used batting and the liner fabric to cover a piece of foam board that can sit in the bottom of the tote and be removed easily should I follow my usual path of carnage with sodas, ink and condiments around my fashionable bag.


Remember when I said I was going to follow the directions this time? Ha!!!
This whole process took up the better part of the afternoon. I was sweating more than I typically do during my thrice weekly workout sessions and am just as sore. I am going to check in at my local gym and see if they offer sewing as a cardio activity. I may be onto something here...
Seeing that I was reaching the frustration point, (and not having seen my cats for at least an hour) I made the decision to put the project away until tomorrow. Since then, things have cooled down a bit and it looks like we will be getting some rain. This has done wonders for my mood, but I will resist any thoughts about working on my tote tonight. Knitting might be the better choice.
What could possibly go wrong with that?
SA

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I Am Exhausted!

First, a shout-out and a "thanks" to my TB-free well wishers. When you haven't had a clean chest x-ray since May and were exposed right around the same time by the woman who cooks for you and gives you mommy hugs 'n kisses, there can be a certain amount of stress around the issue. Good thoughts were appreciated.

Today was D-Day for the Return To Sewing Extravaganza. I was as giddy as a school girl at the thought of it and barely slept a wink anticipating my upcoming creation. The pattern promised me that I could crank this bag out in a mere afternoon and be out on the town with it by evening. Admiring glances and whispered words of envy from onlookers were not actually promised, but there was a certain "implication" if you know what I mean.

However, as I recalled my last venture into the world of pins and needles, it occurred to me that I might want to take a moment and reflect on the many, many....many errors I made back in the day and try not to repeat them. With all the solemnity of a nun taking her vows, I made the following declarations:

I will read the pattern all the way through before I cut anything.

I will do what those directions tell me to do. They are there for a reason.

I do not have enough technical skill to "wing it" and should refrain from doing so.

If I make a mistake, it is better to take the item apart and repair it instead of promising myself that it can be covered with a colorful patch. There is a limit to the number of colorful patches one can get away with when one is in her forties.

That said, I dragged out the machine and began. Persephone, a wise creature in her own right, chose to observe from a sensible distance.




I've lived through several of these "phases." I've developed coping skills.
Three hours later, dripping with sweat and with a my thumb stuck in a pair of stork scissors, I opted to call it a day.

I will not be taking my new tote out on the town tonight.

To my credit, I actually did follow a couple of my self-imposed rules. Sort of. I read through the first half of the directions before I lost interest and scampered over to the machine. I spent 30 minutes meticulously pinning the bottom of the bag in place per the directions. I then spent another 40 minutes taking it apart to account for the puckering before I decided that I could just cover it with a colorful patch. And even though I elected not to use the correct layout for the pattern pieces thereby denying myself the necessary yardage for a liner, I did think about doing it the way I was supposed to. For a minute anyway. And if the liner I am choosing to use instead is of a fabric not recommended by the authors of the pattern well...that 's how things go sometimes, isn't it?

All in all, it's not a failed experiment and I am not ready to consign the whole thing to the recycling bin at this point. The fabric was only a dollar a yard so even if it does go completely haywire on me it's not like it's much of a loss.

I have to go in to the office tomorrow for a meeting and some paperworky stuff then head out for a Parenting Education session in the evening so its doubtful I'll put any time into this project for the next couple of days. And it wouldn't be such a bad idea to make a little more progress on Amy's Project given that my next hair appointment is Saturday. It might not have been wise to promise my stylist a hand-knit item...she can do damage if I'm not working at an acceptable pace.

Now I must go rest from my labors. All that sewing induced cussin' and fussin' really took it out of me!

SA

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

TB Free...

...and yet the battle between rational mind and hysterical mind seems unending.

See? I told you there was nothing to worry about. We're fine.

C'mon!!! She barely glanced at it. And remember? The stuff leaked out!! Did we remember to tell her that the stuff leaked out???

I believe it was mentioned. Several times, in fact.

Awwwww...I knew we shouldn't have poked it! I told you not to poke it!! Should we call and tell her that we poked it?

No. Absolutely not. We are fine. It's over. Why don't we go take a nice nap?

Good idea. I do my best work in the subconscious milieu.

I hate you. Seriously.

I know.


I have decided to withdraw from this debate and leave that part of my brain to it's own devices. They will settle it soon, I'm sure of it.

Meanwhile, I decided to celebrate my consumption-free state with a little shopping excursion and a reprieve from today's workout. I've been fiddling around with the sewing machine a bit of late in the hopes that I might re-learn some of my long-lost skills in that area. Not wanting to spend gobs of moolah on that which may soon be relegated to the "never gonna finish" pile, I opted to use good old WalMart as my source.



Wait...what is that in the center of the pile??? Is that batting?
It seems that the quilting bug has crawled back into my field of vision. And why not? Every other creepy, crawly creature has invaded of late. I'm not sure if the low loft batting will see the light of day any time soon, but it'll be there if I decide to pursue this.
Meanwhile, I spent some time today cutting out pattern pieces for a couple of simple tote bags. We'll see if I can remember where everything goes. I've got scads of fabric left in the stash from the last sewing frenzy so there is plenty upon which to practice. If all goes well, then I may just have me a new knitting bag.
If all goes as I think it will then I will have me a new trash can liner.
SA

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

She Said, She Said...

Inside the mind of The Sheep there is an ongoing debate between her rational mind and her hysterical mind as they interpret the status of Monday's TB test site:

Oh, my God! It's purple!!!!

It's fine.

No!! It's purple! It's not supposed to be purple!!!!

Don't you remember? We had a little bleeding after the injection. It's just a little bit of pooled blood under the skin. No worse than a bruise.

Bleeding??? Bleeding!!! Bleeding is bad!

Not necessarily. You can't bleed if you're dead. This means we are alive. Yay us.

But that means that all the stuff came out...the stuff's not supposed to come out!

Well, I'll give you that one. But, can you recall a time when we didn't have some seepage after a TB test? It happens every time. Worse case scenario we wait a bit then have it redone. No biggie.

I can't go through it again...I just can't!!!

Relax. There's no blistering, no bump, just smooth purple skin. We're fine. Let's go knit something.

I'm going to poke it.

Leave it alone.

No, this could be useful data. We'll call it a "clinical trial" and...

No.

But...

Leave it alone!!!!!!

umm.....

What?

I poked it.

Feel better?

Not really. The data is inconclusive. I'm gonna wait five minutes then poke it again.

Seems logical.

Meanwhile, lets just stare at it and see if it does anything.

Okey dokey.


Now this took up more of my day than I'd care to admit, but there were breaks in the drama. I got a new toy with which to distract my brain:




It's a mini lucet!!
I took this photo right after the whole project took a turn for the worse and I completely lost track of what I was doing. But you get the idea. I think it is safe to say that you won't be seeing The Sheep at your local Renaissance Faire cranking out cord olde school style any time soon. However I have to say that it is remarkably simple to make a length of cord in a fairly short time. And if you can live with certain, um "imperfections" then it can be quite satisfying.
Tomorrow I will head back out to see Dr. Judy and find out whether I need to redo the whole TB testing. Here's hoping that I can avoid that. I'd almost rather have consumption than listen to the voices in my head for another day.
The rational one is winning but is, by far, the more boring of the two.
SA

Monday, July 10, 2006

Interesting...

There were portents. One should always pay attention to portents. Yup...love them portents.

#1: I overslept. The alarm was set for 6:00. Which would have given me plenty of time in which to stagger out of bed, stumble about the condo whilst trying to recall important details such as my name and why I was awake at this hour. Yes indeedy. Would've worked like a charm had I set it for 6:00 a.m. instead of p.m.

#2: I discovered this:



Evidence of simple construction.
Apparently, sometime during the night, Persephone and Desdemona made some sort of feline evolutionary leap and are now capable of creating rudimentary structures. This could mean something....
#3: Any day one is faced with a dour nurse holding a sharp, pointy thing and querying, "Which arm do you want it in?" is going to be simply fraught with portents. (for the record, I chose the right)
#4: Bloody arm. I don't recall anyone telling me what to do should the injection site bleed. I did what any Sheep would do when on "portent overload." I ignored it.
Now what all these portents mean, I couldn't tellya. I cast on for Amy's project in the yarn of her choice and have had no dramatic setbacks. There were a couple of ant sightings, but a plague of locusts has not descended as of this posting. My hair has not caught fire.
But I'm not taking any chances. There will be no life-altering decisions made in the immediate future. I will not purchase a lottery ticket. I will not comment on the fashion choices made by local biker gangs.
I'm lying low.
Does anyone think that it would be over the top if I was wearing a helmet as part of my regular ensemble? Not that I am, or anything...that would be weird...I'm just curious...that's all.
Honest.
SA

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Nuthin...

I had hoped that by posting a bit later in the day I might increase my chances of having an FO or even a mildly impressive WIP to share with my ten loyal readers. I've pretty much given up on that goal at this juncture. It's just not working out.

I headed out to the pharmacy today bright and early. In my sweet, but naive, little way I assumed that no one would think to have their scrip. refilled on a Sunday. I anticipated little in the way of waiting. The line running from the pharmacy counter all the way back to the photo drop-off did not bode well, but I opted to assume that there was another cause for this many grumpy looking folk hanging out at the local drug store on a sunny weekend. Perhaps Zamphyr, Master Of The Pan Flute, had arrived for an impromptu concert...rock on!!!!!

No. It was a line of pill-needers. I waited patiently behind the lovely young lady in the white pants with the visible thong. I continued to wait as she whispered her needs to the pharmacist who asked, "do you need something to work immediately?" It is somewhat interesting to note here that she seemed to prefer a remedy that would work sometime later today. He escorted her to a display of the desired item and returned to his post. I waited further while the store manager came in to report that none of his techs were available and that he would just have to "hang in there." I became concerned for my pharmacist.

Nobody's eyes should bulge like that, I'm sure of it.

When my turn arrived, I happily handed him my prescription. I noted that, for some reason known only to him, the pharmacist was wearing a polo shirt with the Homeland Security logo. Thus, when asked if I wouldn't mind coming back later to pick up my order, I happily agreed. When one is requesting a controlled substance one is cautious of the Homeland Security's possible interest. You never know... I'm reasonably sure that there is not some office somewhere with a file containing grainy photos of The Sheep knitting and eating pizza, but I'm not going to go out of my way to attract the attention of Big Brother.

I'm more fun without the meds anyway.

I returned home thinking that I might actually get a few things finished, but it was not to be. The heat and humidity began to rise and the very idea of working with wool became repugnant. That's right...repugnant. I'm hot and I'm grumpy. The wool is repugnant.

To top it all off, every time I looked up I was greeted by this sight:

HI!!!!!!
It was either one furry critter or the other. Neither seemed to sense my heat related mood nor seemed particularly affected by said heat. Everybody wanted to be in my lap. I pointed out several times that they are really not quite as helpful as they think they are and that perhaps they might want to go find a nice cool place to have a lie down. No dice. The babies love their Mama.
I did manage to cast on for a hat and hope to get a couple of rows done before I pack it in for the day. I'm weary of socks and need a take-along project should the need for portable knitting arise. The yarn is a coopworth/silk noil blend that I spun up about a year ago. It's soft, but there really isn't enough to do a larger project.

Obligatory lopsided photo of yarn for your viewing enjoyment

Here's hoping that tomorrow is a bit more productive. I have an early morning appointment with a nurse and a needle. A little something to look forward to on a Monday... Then I'll go visit my favorite Homeland Security Agent/Pharmacist to pick up my prescription. After that, the day is mine to do with as I please.

And it would please me greatly to finish something in a feline-free setting.

SA

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Frozen Pizza, Part Two:

Goodness, who knew how many opinions there might be on such a prosaic subject as frozen food? Yes, I do actually eat frozen pizza every night. Well, I do have the occasional "wild card" day where I veer from the routine. But, in general I eat what I want. And that is pizza. Lean Cuisine and Lean Pocket varieties during the week and DiGorno on the weekends. If it makes people feel any better I eat only salads during the day...well, during the school year, anyway. I fall off the wagon a bit in the summer what with the lack of a schedule and all. In addition, I successfully managed to take off approximately sixty pounds just over a year ago and have kept it off through regular exercise and portion control. I see my doctor every other month for a weigh-in and med. review due to the ADD medication and have had a plethora of tests run over the last few months due to the Monkey Pox debacle in May. I am well taken care of and probably won't expire from malnutrition in the foreseeable future.

I am an excellent cook. Italian foods happen to be my specialty. I can make my own pasta from scratch. I bake bread that would make you cry.

I live in a resort community with access to some of the best pizza and pier fries you've ever had. And cotton candy should the mood strike.

Sadly, in order that I might have disposable income, I work two jobs. I teach full time and work for an agency in my off hours. Truthfully, the Monkey Pox took a toll on my ability to really put in the hours that I used to, but you get the idea. Time is something I don't have much of on many days. I don't cook as much as I used to.

The disposable income I mentioned is currently earmarked for my hobbies, although a good portion is continuing to go to Dr. DeSade DMD in order that I might pay off the ungodly amount of dental work that my insurance didn't cover during the six months that I was privileged to spend with this delightful gentleman. I would love to order out regularly, but would much rather get me some of that sweet, sweet fiber I do so love to spin.

I'm picky. And single. I have the luxury of eating what I want for dinner. The only thing I ever seem to want to eat is pizza. What can I say?

That's not to say that, should you invite me to your house for dinner, I will turn up my Sheepie nose at whatever you may be offering. My mama taught me better. If you tell me that we will be dining on lightly braised cow nostrils over a bed of pickled grass freshly harvested from your neighbor's lawn with a cactus salad on the side, I will withhold judgment and dig in just like one of the family. And, given that you work with such exotic ingredients, you will probably prove to be a chef of the highest caliber. I will not only take home the leftovers, but I will demand the recipe fully intending to dine on this fare for the remainder of my days. Said days will be numbered, however. For my will is weak.

I'm picky. I always end up back with the pizza. As choices go, it could be worse. I could have an ongoing hankering for Oreos or crack.

I do promise, however, to take my vitamins, eat my veggies and drink all eight glasses of water I'm supposta.

Honest.

SA

Friday, July 07, 2006

Dear Local Grocery Store:

You are a lovely grocery store. I should know. I grocery shop approximately once every 36 minutes. I'm not big on lists...they feel oppressive. And dictatorial. Plus, I end up losing them. I've tried making a list of places where I might have inadvertently left my list, but you can see where that might get cumbersome.

Where was I? Oh yes, your store. As delightful as I find your establishment, I seem to be having something of an issue these days.

You are hiding the frozen pepperoni pizza on me.

Last week, I ended up with a pineapple pizza. I, to some degree, blame myself on that one. The store was crowded with happy tourists and I found myself having to run a cart/child/sunblock display obstacle course in order to reach my goal of pizza satisfaction. I was a bit distracted...

This week, however, I made a point of shopping on Thursday morning. Most folks were at work and the weekend sunbathers had not yet landed. I had the time and focus needed to carefully cull the arctic shelves of the freezer section to find my dinner. And yet I still was unable to find what I sought. I had to be "content" (and I use that word loosely) with a cheese-stuffed crust version of the simple pie.

Pizza is not difficult, dear grocery store mogul. It has crust, sauce, cheese and pepperoni. I realize that there may be others out there who are all dare-devilish and rogue who get a thrill out of trying things that are new and exciting. I am not of their number. I like it traditional. And frankly, it seems to me that it might be cheaper to produce the variety without all the bells and whistles. I acknowledge my ignorance here. I did not go to pizza school and I do not run a grocery store. I just eat alot of frozen pizza. Alot.

In fact, it is practically all I eat. I am picky. Very picky. It is highly likely that, without frozen pizza, I will wither away and die. Oh sure, I'll make a big show out of "oohing" and "ahhing" over the fresh veggies and fruits when they make it to the produce section. I'll even buy them. But we all know the harsh truth. I'll eat a single portion at the most then eat frozen pizza. Did you know that all vegetables and fruits will go from a solid to a liquid, back to a solid and then kind of evaporate into a toxic gas if you leave them in the fridge long enough? Fun fact...tell your kids.

And so, dear grocery store boss, I beg of you. Return my frozen pepperoni pizza to your freezer case. If you can't do it for me, then do it for all the others so devastated by this turn of events. Do it for the little stock boy who is still weeping into his apron after hearing the language used by a certain Sheepy customer. Do it for the lovely couple from Massachusetts who just wanted a pleasant long weekend in beautiful southern Maine and will now be in therapy for the next six months in order to get over the sight of a middle aged woman throwing a tantrum worthy of a two year old. Do it for the children, for God's sake...do it for the children.

Sincerely yours,

SA

Thursday, July 06, 2006

FOs And Shortcakes And Cats...Oh My!

When The Sheep was just a wee, little lambie she dreamed of a life filled with roses and rainbows. Well, that might be something of an exaggeration...at any rate, it is unlikely that she got all giddy at the thought of a future filled with cat poop.

And yet it seems that this is to be my lot in life. First, I get one leaving deposits on the kitchen counter.




Oh, for crying out loud! Let it go already...the rest of us have somehow managed to move on.
Now I have to spend my days comforting the other one, a constipated creature, and administering various forms of poop liquefiers in order that she might get past this somewhat indelicate condition. Sheesh!!!
Somehow, though, I have managed to carve out a couple of minutes to knock out the last few rows of the Jaywalkers. They've been kitchenered, end-woven, modeled for the uninterested felines and are ready for their blog debut:

It was a long walk for the Jaywalkers...but they've reached the finish line!!

Whew! I thought I'd never get those off the needles. I really like the solid yarn with this pattern. I tend to wear more of the plain socks than the stripey variety but love to see more than plain stockinette. The KnitPicks Essential worked well, but was a tiny bit "splitty." Otherwise, I'd say it was a pretty good and economical choice. I'd do 'em again!

Needing strength from my nursing and knitting duties, I decided that a little snack might be in order. Feast your eyes (since I'm the one who got to feast my tummy) on The Sheep's fresh strawberry shortcake with grated dark chocolate:


What more can I say? Oh, I know!

"Seconds, please!!!!"

SA

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bits "n Pieces...

In between imagining TB symptoms and dealing with a constipated cat (you heard me...Persephone is having another one of her "episodes") The Sheep made some progress on her Jaywalker before heading in to the office of job #2. There was great hope for an FO about which to blog tonight. But it was not to be. I'm gearing up for The Great Toe Decrease of '06, but ran out of time in which to actually complete the task. Fortunately, there are other things with which to distract my ten loyal readers.

Here is the stunning Finn that I meant to post yesterday:


Mmmm....almost yummy enough to eat!
If you haven't had a chance to visit Ewenique Fiber you simply must. This is some of Sheila's hand dyed roving and the color is just gorgeous. I'm not abandoning the Plum Silk just yet. But I am going to be spinning a bit faster so I can switch out projects!
On the strawberry front there has also been some progress. Two quarts are safely tucked away in the freezer and another will be prepped with sugar tonight for what I hope will be strawberry shortcake tomorrow. If my energy stays up there, I will break out the biscuit-fixin's and bake up a batch. If my energy ends up being more devoted to inventing symptoms of impending TB then I will hit the bakery and just tell everybody I baked them. Either way works for me.
And speaking of strawberries, here is a shot of my Mom's homemade jam on a Wolferman's english muffin:

Mom is a bit quicker on the uptake in terms of processing her berries. Even with TB...

Yup, dear old Mom has her berries frozen, jammed, shortcaked and diced. According to Dad, this was all pretty much done on the same day as the picking occurred. You know...the day that The Sheep came home and flopped on the couch for a nap. Yeah...I am humbled.

But Mom isn't dealing with a constipated cat and that takes alot of energy and focus. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

SA

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Family Fun

When we consider the larger gene pool in which we swim, it is fair to say that my immediate family is pretty normal. Really. Why, what did you hear????

Anyway, we still have our moments. Consider this little gem of a discussion, held after the Independence Day cook-out/eat-in-due-to-weather event. It included The Sheep, Daddy Sheep and Mommy Sheep.

Mommy Sheep: Whoops! Forgot to take my TB medicine. (leaps from chair and races to the kitchen where she retrieves a daily pill minder roughly the size of The Encyclopedia Britannica)

Sheepish Annie: ???????

Daddy Sheep: Can you believe that her insurance co-pays are lower than mine?

SA: I'm sorry, did she just say, "TB?" As in tuberculosis...that TB?"

MS: (resettling in her chair) Yes, dear. You know how it is.

SA: No, perhaps a bit more explanation would be helpful here.

DS: I mean, I don't wish her ill-health or anything. But why should she be paying less when she takes more pills than I do? Where's the logic in that?

MS: It looks like I have a dormant strain of TB that might be woken up by another medication...it suppresses my immunity. It's all just a precaution...I think.

DS: See what I mean? She takes alot of pills.

SA: This could be sort of useful information to have, here. I'm on a bit of a "TB watch" right now according to Dr. Judy and I think that she might want to know about this.

MS: Oh, it's nothing...just a precaution.

DS: I should call the insurance company...

SA: Besides, if you have TB, shouldn't you be living in some sort of sanitarium or something?

DS: They don't do that anymore...there's a pill. Your mother takes it. Does anyone know where my insurance card is?

SA: Well, at the very least I think you have to move to a drafty garret, wear shoddy black garments and write angst-filled poetry that will not be truly appreciated until long after your death. I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere.

MS: You are so funny, dear!

SA: Let's focus here, people! Do you or do you not have TB???

MS: I dunno.

DS: Probably.

SA: .... (sinks lower in her chair and mumbles something about having been adopted.)


I love my family. Whether they have TB or not. And I'm honestly still not sure. Happily, there is something else upon which to focus at this point.

I just received a lovely, silky Finn roving from Sheila at Ewenique Fiber! And the speed of shipping? I was barely offline before it was being slipped into my mailbox! I think we may have a winner for the next fiber to make it to the wheel. Thanks, Sheila...you rock! Pictures to follow...Blogger just ate the last one! Honest...it was there just a second ago!

A happy and safe Fourth of July to my American readers and the same sentiments to those from "away" only for your Tuesday activities.

Happy and Safe are good things on any day...oh, and being TB free. That is good, too.

SA

Monday, July 03, 2006

And In Other News...

The score on the "fiber related activities" board was a grand total of 0 today. 'Twas a truly bleary-eyed and coffee deprived Sheep that stumbled out to the truck this morning to begin her next round of "let's try and be more social this summer" activities.

I met up with my favorite mom (what with being mine and all) to hit the farm for some strawberry pickin'. We didn't get to go last year due to a rather pitiful crop so I was really looking forward to having some nice fresh berries with which to tempt my palate and stain my fingers. While the berries were sorta small thanks to what I presume was a torrential downpour effect, a strawberry picked by your very own hands is going to taste yummy no matter what. And the picking went far more quickly than either of us anticipated. We filled up two flats for Mom (jam production begins tonight, I'm told) then returned for four more quarts. Three came home with me as I'm the one who put in the manual labor and all. One will go to my brother. This isn't one of his favorite activities, but I am a champion berry picker from way back. Even as a child, Mom made sure that I was the chosen one when she felt the urge to bring some fresh-picked fruit into the house. It's a gift...what can I say?






And these little beauties are the "fruits" of my labors!










We were able to pick our fill in under an hour and were left with more time than we knew what to do with. For all of thirty seconds, that is. The shopping gene runs strong in my Mom's side of the family and I have inherited a full load of bargain hunting DNA. I found two cute pairs of flip flops (one with a 3" heel, god help me) at half price. This meant that I could indulge myself with a copy of Mason * Dixon Knitting at the bookstore!







And Mom quietly picked up The Harlot's book
for me...isn't she just the bee's knees???









Exhausted from our labors, we had an early lunch and called it a day. Despite being home early in the afternoon, I couldn't seem to summon the energy to do much more than snap a couple of pictures for tonight's post before I flopped on the couch for what I determined was a well-deserved nap. I don't get out much...

My second wind is kicking in somewhat and one quart of berries is drying and will soon be ready for freezing. I am fully aware that there is a large contingency of foodies to whom the idea of washing a berry is repugnant at the very least. "They must be wiped, my dear Sheep, never, ever washed!) Here's the thing: I've seen nature. I know what's out there. Sometimes it makes it's way into my house. I've learned that nature is somewhat messy. Birds poop, bugs wander through the poop, worms cavort blatantly wherever they see fit...any of this can end up on my berries. I won't have it. I just won't have it.

Can't say how far I'll get with the Strawberry Project this evening. I must rest up for yet another round of family fun tomorrow. Dear old Dad is firing up the grill and I suspect that there may be some strawberry shortcake to be had at some point. Its a "can't miss" sort of event.

We'll be factoring in at least one extra workout this week, methinks! Shopping/Berry Picking does not burn the calories one might think it does.

SA