Monthly Archives: April 2010

Thursday

Whoo hoo! Another website to enjoy with morning coffee. Some of these were created intentionally. Some were random accidents.
funny food photos - Yes, The Card Says Donner Family Picnic. That is All.
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Funny Food Photos - Cats Love Bento Boxes
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funny food photos - My Cough Drop Looks Infested
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http://myfoodlooksfunny.com/

The kitty is too cute to eat! That is all. Happy Thursday.

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WTF Wednesday Replaced by TT Tuesday

WTF Wednesday has been overshadowed this week by Totally Ticked Tuesday.  Following another sleepless night, due to the previously whined about back injury, I sat down with my morning coffee to read my email before heading in for a shower.  Among the offers for weight loss, penis enlargement and investing money into my account for the long-lost monarch of a small African nation beset by revolution were receipt notifications from Apple I-Tunes.  Four receipts to be exact, totaling over $160.00 that were charged to my debit card.   The long, sordid store follows the jump at the end.  In short, we had to cancel our debit cards.

On the way to work I realized that my gas tank was on empty.  I had no cash with me and only the afore-mentioned canceled debit/atm card.  A frantic search through my wallet yielded a credit card. We don’t use them and I didn’t think I had it in my wallet. Thankfully I’d left it in and was able to fuel up.

Once at work my back started hurting like crazy.  A few well-intended hugs from students and sitting in a hard, plastic chair for several hours pushed it to the point of being unbearable. I left work early and threw myself on the mercy of our HMO.  After using words like, “Excruciating pain” I was able to get an appointment with a PA. 

I showed up early for the appointment so I pulled my knitting out, only to discover that even though the shawl came out of the bag, the needles did not. In addition to pulling if off the needles, I managed to unwittingly rip back over an inch in one place.  I was still frogging and fuming when the nurse called me back. The young fellow asked questions, shook his head knowingly and deduced that I’d sprained my back.  He prescribed muscle relaxers, stretching, cold and heat and then wrote a referral for physical therapy.  If it continues hurting after another week then I’ll have an x-ray.  He made me feel so… old.

After coming home I spent several frustrating hours on the phone trying to sort out the debit card/Apple fiasco.  At some point I wandered past my girls’ bedrooms and noticed that A2’s fish was looking rather “buoyant”. Normally Sammy hangs out near the bottom or middle of his/her tank. Damn, damn, damn.  A2 loves Sammy. She talks to him/her and creates artwork, etc. then sticks it on the side of the tank so Sammy doesn’t get bored. Sammy eats out of her hand. She’s had Sammy for 18 months.   As soon as she got off of the bus she asked how Sammy was doing.  Apparently he/she didn’t eat like normal this morning and was looking rather pale and A2 worried all day. When she discovered Sammy died there were tears and drama to no end.  Every attempt at consoling her, especially by her sisters, just made matters worse.  Rather than having a burial “at sea” Sammy was laid to rest in  the back yard with a private ceremony. 

Tuesday sucked. I’m glad it’s over.

  

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Catching Up

We had no new adventures or outings this weekend.  On Saturday my sister and brother-in-law drove down, again sacrificing another of their precious weekends. My DH and BIL dug up the pipes from last weekend’s temporary fix and turned it into a permanent fix. We no longer have a water leak. Hooray! The yard bears an ugly scar, but it’ll fade quickly.

As usual, laundry, cooking and cleaning usurped most of the rest of the weekend. I knitted 2 and 1/2 dishrags and baked some cookies for the upcoming week.

My sister, Jackie, and I went to several garage sales, but none of them had anything we wanted or needed.

Roxie and Bonny have taken on a new game where one of them flirts shamelessly with the other kitty, who  feigns indifference, while secretly watching.  In this picture Roxie’s acting the coquette. 

The watching kitty will observe for a short while, then either yawn, take a bath or walk away.  Bonny demonstrates the “walk-away”  in this photo.

This game volleys back and forth throughout the day, with roles switching randomly.  Either they’re trying to make friends with or else they’re taunting the other. Who knows what goes on in their furry little noggins.

One of our neighbors came over just as the plumbing hole was being filled in and asked if we wanted any dirt.  My sister and I followed him back to his yard to check out the offer.  Oh my!  In his driveway was a huge pile of the most beautiful 4 way garden mix I’ve ever seen. He recently built some raised beds in his back yard and he ordered twice the amount of soil he needed to fill them.  I sent a plate of freshly baked cookies (I make big batches) to their house. This week I’ll be making trips with my wheelbarrow between their driveway and my pitiful excuse for a garden.  I’d rather have a load of dirt than jewelry any day.

If weather reports can be trusted today will be sunny and warm.  I’ll wear layers so I can strip, if necessary, or remain bundled. Happy Monday!

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Happy Earth Day & Something Finished!

True, it’s merely a cap/hat, but this is the most productive claim I can make this week.  Our house looks like a war zone, the laundry pile is towering dangerously high, the yard is still torn up (without a permanent fix to the plumbing issue) and absolutely nothing has been done by way of preparing the garden. My mom asked when I’d be ready for some starts and cuttings from her greenhouse… cricket, cricket, cricket.

Anyway, this hat was knitted using about 1/2 of a skein of Cascade 220 that Karen gave to me back in February.

The remaining yarn will be used to create a short, matching scarf… or something else, at a later date.  I love green!

I’m hoping to start chart B of the Brandywine Shawl  sometime soon.  The subtle color shifts in this yarn won ‘t overpower the pattern along the edge, but they should add some depth to the garter stitch part of the shawl.  It’s a wool/nylon/cashmere blend (can’t find the label right now) that I picked up at Dublin Bay  back in December. Maybe Hand Maiden Casbah? 

Roxanna decided to help us participate in Earth Day activities by sleeping in the recycling bin, rather than in her bed. She smashes the papers down quite neatly. 

Today was also “Take Your Child to Work” day.  My DH took A1 with him, but A2 and A3 attended school as usual.   Next year it will be A2’s turn to tag along with dad.   Cheers!

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WTF Wednesday

WTF Easily amused: I stumbled across a new (to me) website called Acting Like Animals.  Very cute pictures. Anybody need a llama?

WTF Practical Jokes: My husband’s work environment gets a little stressful at times. Lately the folks there have taken to playing practical jokes on one another to add levity to their day.  I’d love to shake the hand of the fellow who put the unknown black substance on my husband’s glasses.  This picture is hilarious.  It wasn’t permanent.

WTF Parenting Choice:  There are many approaches to education and each family must choose what’s right for his or her family.  However, the decision more and more parents are making to “Unschool” their children is alarming.  Yes, children are natural learners and they should be encouraged to pursue their interests. But to allow them to wander without structure all day long is ludicrous.  When they grow up will they “unwork”? And when children fall off of the grid in abusive homes (to include neglect) will the responsible adults claim that they’re unschooling their children as well? http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/education/26unschool.html?ei=5088&en=ac4e5990a2f8bae9&ex=1322197200&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

WTF Boring Service: You know mass needs an overhaul when this guy can’t even stay awake!

Taken in Malta during a recent visit.

WTF Volcanic Activity: Dang, as if Eyjafjallajokull wasn’t bad enough, another, much larger volcano  named Katla,  is showing signs of waking up in Iceland.  About the only good news here is that the name is easier to type and pronounce.  I feel terrible for everyone effected.

 Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

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Ten On Tuesday

To disguise a lack of knitting content I’m going to join fellow bloggers in  a “Ten On Tuesday” post.  Today’s list… some things my mother told me over the years.

1.  Always keep a nice, heavy cast-iron skillet in your kitchen.   

2. Everyone has to sleep sometime. If a man ever hits you, wait until he’s asleep then whack him good with that cast iron skillet.  Make the first hit count (knock him out), add a few more for good measure, then leave and never go back.  When he wakes up the words “Griswold Cast Iron #9” should be imbedded on his forehead.

3. Avoid men with cooking trademarks on their foreheads.

4. Don’t drink too much coffee.

5. Drink more water.

6. Go outside everyday and get some fresh air, even if there’s a hurricane.  You’ll feel better.

7.  Don’t twist your stitches while knitting.

8. Don’t check your brain at the door when you go to college.

9. All politicians are the same.

10. When pulling weeds, make sure and get the roots out too.

Thankfully I’ve never had to worry about #2, but I do have a nice collection of cast iron cookware.  I drink way too much coffee and not enough water though.  I can’t help but think that number 10 is more than just gardening advice.  Happy Tuesday!

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Run for the Hills

The plumbing store is closed on Sundays. My DH didn’t want to start excavation by himself unless he had heavy equipment. And since I’m worthless after tweaking my back yesterday he would have been on his own.  We spent the morning trying to decide the best route to take to fix the leak.  Our goal was to find an option that wouldn’t break us financially or be something slapped together  in a half-arsed way, causing another problem in the future.   We also discussed ways to pay back my sister and BIL for all they’ve done.  Long story short, the day was sunny, we couldn’t work and the girls were getting antsy. In a spontaneous move we ditched  the stress  and headed for the hills. 

Mt. St. Helens is visible from our neighborhood, but in all the time we’ve lived in southwest Washington we’d never been there.  We decided to drive up and check it out.  The visitor’s center  is a little over an hour from our house.  It sits on the marshy, west end of Silver Lake and this is what the mountain looks like from the center parking lot.

We walked the 1 mile observation trail. It’s built mostly on a boardwalk over the water and there are some beautiful views. There were lots of insects (which is why A3 has her hood up), but in the midday heat most of the other critters were hiding out.

We looked and looked for signs of life in the water, but nothing was stirring near the walkway.  A2 was disappointed  when the only things we could observe closely were a few snails, who weren’t fast enough to escape, or interesting enough for people to disturb.

We spotted several Blue Herons/Billy Cranes in the distance, but without binoculars seeing them was quite a strain.  There is one in this picture… somewhere near the middle, right side.

There were many  lichen and mosses covering the rocks and trees nearby.  I think they’re fascinating, but my family wasn’t impressed in the slightest. 

 Inside the center we watched the movie and toured the exhibits.  Watching the footage from 1980 was surreal. I vividly remember watching the build-up during the previous months and eruption when it happened. The local television stations showed little else. 

Several of the exhibits were quite bland, even the statues looked bored. But look, I just happened to have a bright, happy hand knitted sock!  My family  groaned and walked away, pretending they didn’t know me.  This often happens when knitting appears. I swear the corners of her mouth raised slightly when she held this though.

The displays weren’t extensive, but they were quite eclectic. Some featured Native American artifacts, others covered seismology.  We viewed all we could there, but the inside of a building just isn’t fun place to spend a sunny afternoon.

We loaded up and drove further east towards the mountain itself.  The Johnston Ridge Observatory  is closed until mid-May, but the views from further back were still amazing. Even 30 years later the destruction from the lahars is overwhelming.  The smaller streams and ravines branching off of this valley are still choked with trees and debris. It’s truly humbling to see what nature is capable of.

We pulled over to enjoy the scenery,  and some residual snow.  This is a hat in progress that came along too.

We drove as far as Elk Rock. From there you can still see the acres and acres of trees blasted flat.  They look like match sticks toppled over.  Most of the area inside the blast zone (with the exception of the roads and viewing stations) is being left to recover on its own without outside aid or interference. The top of Mt. Adams is peaking up from behind the hills on the left.

We could easily see where the new trees were growing back from the viewing station. In other places the ash is so thick that it still looks like a moonscape.  There are probably small bushes and plants growing there, but they weren’t visible from where we were. Obviously there’s a reason it’s called “Elk Rock.”

A nice lady took a family picture of us with the mountain as a back drop.  Yes, we are a strange lot.

On the way back we stopped by the south fork of the Toutle River so A3 could collect some volcanic ash. The gift shops were selling it in little bottles, but it was expensive and  silly to buy when it could be gathered for free.

We managed to escape the tourist traps without buying any plastic key chains, stuffed animals, shot glasses and coffee mugs, etc.  In the end each girl picked out a silver charm for their bracelets (they were still probably made in China, but at least they won’t end up in the bottom of a toy box).  A1 provided an ongoing report on cell-phone signal strength throughout the trip. 

We got home just in time for dinner and to get the girls ready for bed.  Tomorrow it’s back to work/school/major repairs and other drudgery, but the afternoon escape was lovely. Cheers!

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How not to spend a relaxing Saturday

We discovered onThursday that we had a water leak.  I stayed home from work on Friday to meet with people from the locating company. I called in a ticket to have utilities marked before we started repairs (as required). Of the seven companies with utilities running into our yard only three called back with messages saying that we didn’t need them to mark anything for us. The others didn’t even bother with the automated phone calls.  When all was said and done, nobody came out to mark their pipes, wires, etc. What a waste of a day off. 

Saturday morning my sister, Jackie,  and my  brother-in-law, Mike, drove for an hour and a half to come help us dig up the pipe, find the leak and fix the problem.  Mike works laying pipe and doing site preparation for a living so he knows his stuff when it comes to this kind of thing.  Based solely on the location of the meter, the layout of the yard, etc. he was able to pinpoint to location of the leak  very quickly.

The pipes were only about 3 feet down, so only hand digging was needed.  This was a good thing too, because without the missing utility markings we would have been risking major repair bills had we dug up anything.  Ironically, the cable/telephone company was one of the places who left a message for us saying we would be clear to dig. They had cable crossing the water pipe very near the leak.  Luckily it was seen before it was accidentally severed. My DH would be at loss without his internet

Without dirt around the pipe to keep pressure on it, the leak quickly turned the hole into a pond.

The leak wasn’t due to a break in the pipe, but rather to some completely whacked joins.  There are some definite code violations with this. The connections looked like Dr. Seuss designed them, but without all of the pretty pink and turquoise fluff.

After hours of work and several trips to a plumbing supply store Mike and my DH were able to temporarily fix the leak.  Unfortunately, to correctly fix the problem, we’ll need to dig up part of the yard, replace a large section of pipe and possibly replace the “T” join above.  This means  probably hiring someone to come repair it professionally. Someone who is insured (the cable is visible in the above photo) and willing to let us pay him/her for the work.  In the meantime the front yard looks like this. Mike and Jackie really saved our butts.  If they hadn’t have come down then my DH and I would still be out there digging a long trench trying to find the leak.   I tried to feed them before they left, but they refused because they just wanted to get back home.  I owe them a kidney or something.  Wonder if they’d like a daughter?

Now off for a hot bath. My back is a little sore.

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WTF Wednesday, Lessons in Humility

WTF happened to a timely WTF Wednesday? Sheesh, it’s darned near Thursday.

WTF Music: My eldest daughter been using my I-Pod since the unfortunate washing of her last one.  Monday I decided to “borrow”  it back to listen to at work while waiting for my students to arrive.  While A1 had it she added some new music with an I-Tunes gift card.  She asked first and I gave the “okay” after she told me some of the titles. Many of her song choices were welcome, or at least tolerable. Besides, it had been quite some time since new selections graced my listening library.  Please note that  I’m not a music snob, nor do I only like one genre of artists. Some of the groups and singers  already loaded on my I-Pod included  ABBA, Queen, George Strait, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nat King Cole, Classical music, Bob Marley , lots of 1980’s music as well as newer selections by performers like Owl City, Pink and Train. I take great pride in  my eclectic musical tastes, but apparently I’m not that liberal.   It just so happened that one of my co-workers walked by and picked my I-Pod about three seconds after it switched from  Aerosmith  to Justin Bieber.   Great! No amount of explaining could convince this person that I don’t really listen to pre-pubescent teenaged boys.  To make matters worse, when I forwarded to the next song ( “shuffle” mode) Miley Cyrus popped up. 

 

WTF Who Dressed You?:   I rocked the “To Do” list on Saturday. In addition to the yard work (mentioned in a previous post) I got caught up on paperwork, cleaned the inside of the house and did laundry.  I’d owned the day! Included in the laundry was my everyday jacket. It’s a black parka-style coat that magnetically attracts cat hair, lint and an assortment of light-colored foods. Luckily it came out of the dryer about the same time I finished my shower, so I was able to wear my still-warm jacket to the grocery store that evening.  Even though my body felt like it’d been ran through a meat grinder I shopped with my head held high.  Success as a modern woman; undefeated by a full-time job, three kids, a little bit of M.S. and maintaining a house and yard, made walking through the store and not telling complete strangers of my accomplishments difficult.  I totally wanted to let everyone know how awesome I was.  It may have been my imagination too, but it seemed that everyone who looked at me held their gaze longer than normal, as if they innately knew about my awesomeness. By the time I made my way to the check out stand the temptation to brag was overwhelming.  The cashier was a captive audience, but at least  she feigned interest as I unloaded the cart and recounted my Herculean tasks.  Only when getting my debit card out to pay did I notice the black sock hanging from the velcro closure on the front of my jacket.

 

WTF Knitting Ego: Several people I know have recently taken up knitting.  Even after decades dedicated to the craft I still would never claim to be more than intermediate, but it’s still hard to not give advice, especially when it’s solicited by novice stitchers.  Yesterday during lunch one of them asked what I was currently making, so I reached into my ever-present project bag to pull out the nearly finished socks for admiration…

Sadly, the finer details of the socks went unnoticed as cold, brown tea dripped from their soggy strands.  My travel cup had fallen over and leaked. Because my bag is waterproof the liquid didn’t leak out and the socks acted like a sponge, soaking up most of the spilled beverage. What the socks didn’t pick up, the pages of a borrowed book did.  She didn’t ask to hold it.

Today the same person bravely inquired again about my knitting.  Luckily nothing had spilled. Unfortunately, when it emerged (it’s a new pair of Fetching for my middle daughter) the ball of yarn was missing.   I began rifling through the bag, muttering to myself all the while.

 

Only a wee little string was attached to the thumbless, unfinished second glove.  I began rifling through the bag, muttering to myself all the while.  A final dump of the bag revealed that the yarn wasn’t missing, I’d just ran out.  Crappity crap crap. When the reality dawned I said a few choice words then shoved them back in the bag.   My ramblings about  ripping back back a few rows from the first (I made them longer, as requested by A2) then using the yarn to finish the second thumb were peppered with outbursts of profanity.  Chances are, she won’t ask to see any more of my knitting.  Hopefully she won’t quit her own knitting for fear of becoming insane.  I knit to relax dammit!

 

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Time With My Girls

My poor DH had national guard training this weekend.  He enjoys serving,  but 12 days of straight work can be tiring.  The weather was gloriously sunny with mild temperatures both Saturday and Sunday so I worked outside on our front yard.  A3 has decided that she’s terrified of wasps (although I only saw honey bees flitting about) so she watched from the windows, while A2 and I bustled about.  Besides the usual lawn mowing and weeding we undertook to daunting task of removing a hedge along the front of our house.  It had grown out of control and was up against the siding, in spite of numerous attempts to keep a clear path between the house and the bushes. Not only that, but it was just plain ugly most of the year. During the winter months this is how it looked.

Some of the roots and center trunks were almost the diameter of my wrist and were bigger than the manual limb cutter could manage so I had to use a small chain saw to cut through them.

A2 was a trooper and we managed to dig out most of the root clumps.  Once they were gone then we planted lavender, edged the flower bed and spread some mulch.  The cherry tree is in full bloom, the lilac bush (which must be moved this fall) is starting to open and many other spring blossoms kept us company.

 

Our final outdoor task was to move the bench that belonged to my late Father-in-law.  For many years we would drink his morning coffee and smoke a cigarette while sitting here. The boards are warped down at one end from him sitting there.  A2 scrubbed the cobwebs off of it and we plan on putting a protective finish on it later.

There is still a ton of work left to do, but this is how the yard looked Sunday afternoon.

A3 and I continued our 3 day Monopoly marathon.  She owned most of the board, including all of the railroads. The meager holdings in my possession had largely been mortgaged to pay train fare and rent.

She generously offered to give me money, but even Bonny knew it was time to quit.

In return, I taught her how to make macaroni and cheese.  She followed each step meticulously and it turned out perfect.

A1 had no interest in yard work or cooking so I took her shopping to pick up some make-up and she picked out some movies for us to watch together in the evenings. Note to self, “Don’t watch scary movies if you expect to sleep at night.” 

I must have really enjoyed the current socks in progress because I knitted both toes twice.  Same mistake, same place.  Duh.

Happy Monday everyone!

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