Category Archives: knitting

Gnome antics and soup disasters

I’m tired today, but it is my own fault and the result of a pretty good weekend following a shite week.

Many of my close friends were in town this weekend and, as we are inclined to do, we went out for karaoke. I don’t tend to make it into the city very often; I suck at finding a parking spot, most bars are too crowded, blah blah blah excuses. Can’t take public transport (I live in Oakland and the closest BART station is about 2 miles away… where I would have to find a parking spot in a bad neighborhood…double whammy.) So I tend ot avoid the city. I’m not much of a bar person anyway. I don’t really drink, even if I did, I’d have to drive home, so I wouldn’t drink, I am offended to pay $5.00 for a diet coke and most people who I don’t know at bars are creepy.
Long story short, I texted a buddy of mine who tends to post on Facebook from a bar in that area, if not the bar that we would be meeting at and wangled a ride.
It is Halloween weekend and I was told to “bring it” so I spent the whole day knitting and in fear of the kittens wising up to the fact that there was yarn, not 2 feet from their little yarnicidal, sleeping heads and made a hat for my outfit: a garden gnome based on this guy:

Fairly easy costume to make. I have a big blue barn jacket, hat was knitted from monster red yarn (based on the Last Minute Knitted Gifts elf hat), I bought a giant black belt earlier this year for this and I bought a baby bib and sewed a polar fleece cutout of a gnome beard on it (I skimped on the beard. Didn’t have time for the quilted/stuffed version I envisioned…another time maybe). I was going to wear my Keen black boots, but I couldn’t find them in the mess that is my kitten-proofed house, so I just wore a black shirt, black yoga pants and  black Keen tennies. (I was not displeased with this set up. I can guarantee I was more comfy and warmer than the 50% of the chicks dressed up in “slutty (insert name of costume here)” outfits out there though I suspect we have different priorities. Ahem. )

Met my pals, introductions all around (now I have a nice cross pollination of local and remote folks friends) and had a good time. Mike, a troublemaker, (or possibly Barrett, also a troublemaker) put a bug in my ear that I should do some Britney Spears song in full gnome gear (the hat and beard were mostly sitting on the table because it was hot.)…he wanted Toxic, but I don’t know that one, but I do know “Baby One More Time” it was ganky enough to go with a decidely unsexy looking gnome costume. I liked the dichotomy so I did it.

Haven’t done karaoke in a while. Mostly because every time I have been in a position to sing, my voice was wrecked by a cold from the previous several months.  So I got that weird kinda weak in the knees thing, which usually evaporates once I am actually on stage. People were pretty lively at this point and I think I was on key (we shall hope because I couldn’t hear myself). I vamped and spanked my gnome ass, pretended I was in a school girl outfit which probably translated pretty well to the gnome outfit. I actually got several high 5′s from random people in the crowd and of course my lovely friends. Fun.
Loved the absurdity.

I got home at 3 in the morning and then couldn’t sleep til 4, woke up at 9 and have been a bit of a zombie ever since. I was pondering some sort of vegetable soup with clear broth with dumplings in it (trying to avoid flour ones) but it went badly at first (burned some veggies and wasted a bit of chicken stock-gah, I hate waste), then the corn meal dumplings I attempted in the salvaged soup just melted so I scooped what I could out and pretended that the blue cornmeal left in there was a roux. I added chicken later and then let it sit  for a while with the significant carryover heat from my monster enamelware cast iron pot (well, I passed out for about an hour). When I got back to the soup, the chicken was silky and completely fabulous. The stock, thankfully wasn’t purple (I only had blue corn meal on hand ;) ), just slightly thickened, the veggies didn’t retain any burnt flavor (I test drove some before I added them back in to the new pot of stock/bacon/onion/wine deglaze). So I resigned myself to a somewhat boring, but still good soup.

So I handed a bowl to Tex with the allowance that he could put whatever he wanted in there to jazz it up. He added some cheese (but he puts cheese on everything anyway) and then demolished the bowl. Second bowl, he used Tostitos Scoops to eat the soup and pronounced it perfect.
Sigh, but ok.

Recently I had a hankering for a cookbook, which I never buy because there is usually only one recipe I like and the rest are icky so  a book hangs around gathering dust and being deadweight. Instead, I looked online to see if there was a magazine that might fill the need. Found Saveur on Zinio and the first issue had a bunch of soups (Hungarian, German) in it. Just drove home the point that I am a peasant food fiend. (I’ve said for a while that I cook “trailer park with Trader Joe ingredients”.) A couple of the Hungarian soups  looked really nice…aside from the recent spate of soups I have made, I’m not really a soup fan. But I’ll be cooking more soups in the coming weeks… and test driving some yummy stuff I found in this month’s issue.

I still might buy 1 or 2 of the cookbooks I saw out there while I was snooping around. They have a kindle versions which will satisfy my less crap rule. One of them is the new Paula Deen cookbook. She and I seem to work well in terms of taste. I think it is because the influence of where I grew up in West Texas is from Georgia settlers. I used to be able to place a Texas accent within 50 miles (though I am out of practice and its more like 150 miles now) but when I heard someone talking and I asked them “Where are you from? You sound like home.” they said Atlanta. This makes sense after I read an article on Texas accents in Texas Monthly a while back. Anyhoo, her recipe collection was standards and handed down recipes. I like this kind of thing. I’ll do my own variations on those.

The other one was one I sort of wanted to do my own version of from my family A recipe from a daughter/granddaughter/niece etc from a relative and a story behind it/sketch of that person. (I’ll have to find the link again.  Stay tuned.) Maybe I’ll get a gift certificate for xmoose and get those. For now, I think I’m ok with my normal web based search for recipes/techniques and the new magazine subscriptions. (Though I do see that the Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking is on e-version… mmmmm. That could be good, too. French cooking is a profound yes for me despite all my trailer park. Don’t forget that a lot of French are basically farm/rural folks with simple, but rich food.)


I seem to be knitting some kind of sea creature

A jellyfish by the looks of it. Or Cthulu.
Its supposed to be for a mysterious knitting project… which I shall reveal sometime soon-ish.

The aforementioned sea life:


Tex’s Scarf



Sleigh Ride, originally uploaded by fredlet.


Got more yarn, I’ll make him a matching hat.


Cheese Curds: The 8th Deadly Sin

(I actually didn’t eat all that many cheese curds, but when I did they was quality, baby.)
Spent my annual weekend in Wisconsin and I managed not to get sick on the trip, though I do believe I have kennel cough from the plane. I’ll be ok. Mom says she’ll make me an appointment at the vet that her yellow labs go to…

I packed a metric ton of shoes, girl clothes accessories and miscellaneous stuff (the stuff was for other people, I expected to have less coming home-foolish mortal) and still managed to have to check 2 bags on the way back. All hail Southwest airlines for their free checked bags policy.
I made Tex a scarf, which he wore and liked (no matching hat… yet. I was going to make him one that went with it as I ran out of the yarn and just put a band of the scarf yarn in it to tie it all together, but I was kidding myself that I was ok with that idea. I kept putting off doing his hat and then I knew that it wasn’t going to happen. So I found a couple more skeins of the yarn on Amazon (rockin’!) and will make him a matching hat for next year.)

My hat is also one I made. I started with Crazy Aunt Purl’s roll brim hat in Lion Brand Bulky that perfectly matches my beleaguered J. Crew roll neck raglan wool sweater and finished it off with the pixi hat pattern from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts.(I love it.) These details are on my Ravelry (login required, but it’s free) if you want to go there as well.
I’m pondering making a beige one and pretending to be Beldar the conehead.
The weather cooperated, we had lovely snow for a sleigh ride, I didn’t weep all over the barn kitties and I managed to get sleep. It was a fabulous weekend.
We also have a raffle every year to raise money for a local food bank and raised about $4k. (Want to donate a raffle prize? Let me know.) I won a bag, a ceramic plate hand made by a friend, a beautiful hand knit scarf by another friend and another bag by a local crafty person. I normally don’t win anything, so I was very pleased (it probably didn’t hurt that I piled ALL my raffle entries into those 4 things).
We do still need to work on Tex’s travel skills (know thyself and when to drink more Gatorade) possibly some tweaking of travel clothes/gadgets. He got a ScottEVest TWIT version with removable sleeves to turn into a vest if he needed to wear it under his heavy coat, but as usual the activity that we think will be the one that requires the most bundling up didn’t. I wore my sweater and put on my jacket without zipping it up and Tex wore a short sleeve shirt and his fleece. Really as long as the wind isn’t blowing, it can be 10 degrees out and I’m happy.
I took yesterday off (after traveling MON) and found that to be a fine, fine thing.
Now back to the grind for a while. I don’t have any real travel planned til April-ish then the trail in late May so I’ll have plenty of time to percolate my packing choices for both (but don’t let that fool you, I’ll do a test packing run in the next couple of weeks and be ready for it NOW NOW NOW! :) )


Some cat things, some fredlet things, some green things.


You already know that Bunny is still moving smartly along. (There are a few new issues, but frankly, I think they are old cat issue but I’ll fax my very patient vet anyway and spare all of us a stressful rush visit where he skritches her head and pronounces her very old and very pretty.) But are you wondering about me?
I suppose some people are.
Last year was the year of preparing myself for the inevitable. I hunkered down and told myself that she’s here now and be happy that you have her here still, but the crazed part of my brain (you know, most of it.) would wig out at the impending gut-wrenching loss and loneliness that I was going to feel when she left. By all accounts, last year was a little strained, but Bunny really had no major issues until the end of the year when her ear (and I think the root cause of that was her teeth) started giving her problems.
This year, I told myself to knock it off and get on with things. Unfortunately, Bunny seems to be showing her age finally even though her renal numbers and blood count are all holding steady. The teeth thing are starting to sort themselves out and she eats well, moves around and is somewhat snuggly again. However, she still is pretty quiet and her back legs and hips are starting to be a little weak. There are associated unpleasantnesses along with this, and I don’t mind, I just do more laundry and rearrange the furniture to accommodate her. But she isn’t amused by it and it distresses her a bit which kills me.
So, I’m not really enthusiastic about this…and a little afraid.
But that is all I am going to say about this because I don’t function when talking about that stuff. (You can label me with things out of the DSM-IV all you want, but I won’t ever be able to cope with talking about it.)

Ahem.
Had to take a break there.

So me…
As I may have mentioned before, I am a crap JavaScript coder. HTML and CSS is marvelously clear to me, but JavaScript, while I can read along and tell you what does what and occasionally update parts of it, turns into a hot mess when I try to actually write any from scratch. Perhaps if I had formal training instead of the usual seat-of-my-pants “I have to have this functional, pretty and out the door by 5:47pm” it might be better. To date, I have not had that luxury. Maybe it isn’t really a luxury now.
I think my career wheel is about ready to make another rotation and I find myself thinking “What to do next?”
*warning* the next couple of paragraphs are a trainwreck of thought….
A lot of stuff out there, the formal job descriptions as I know them (having worked in dev for the past 15 years), include requirements that I don’t fulfill. The BS in comp sci I could skirt if my coding chops were good; work experience counts for a lot. Fer crissakes I have a French degree and an art degree (neither of which I would give up for the world) and I have been solidly in tech despite their liberal arts bent, but my brain starts to tangle up writing JavaScript.
I read somewhere that the eastern languages, such as Chinese and Japanese and others built on components put together to build strings of meaning-Lego languages(!), create brains that are predisposed (allegedly) to handle code and maths well. This is interesting to me (languages in general are – in fact, my “Win the Lotto” thing to do would be go play in a linguistics program somewhere.) It reminds me that when I am speaking in French, some of the concepts behind what I am saying prompt me to think differently. So when I have to translate an idiom (like something food based or created out of historical import) I groc the whole reason why they approach a problem the way they do and it explains why they are nonplussed (or outraged) by a situation whereas an English speaker without that historical perspective might not be. Well, its not the best analogy, but I understand the whole “language as an underlying mechanism for thinking process.” argument.
The other thing that I think might get me is that, having started in QA, I tend to work a problem backwards. Testing software and reporting bugs you are only seeing the UI, the results and any variables you might have introduced using the software. This is where you get into tangles with developers and bug reporting as well as why it is so crucial to provide a really clear step-by-step reproduction of the crash. Its kind of a pain reproducing these sometimes as unconscious gestures/habits might be adding to the mess or the fact that you hit Ctrl(Cmd)-C vs using the menu system to copy could be tweaking something wonky in the code. Then the developer can start from the bottom and move up to where the the break occurred in the code. I’m starting to reverse this trend – more than start, the last 3 years have been HTML and CSS heavy so I think in the structure now… not quite Neo reading the matrix screen, but close.
Its all perspective and about being systematic… which can pretty much describe my entire existence during the last 2 years.
So, I am looking into lots of interesting things right now while maintaining Bunny and just thinking about this upcoming turn of the wheel.

I did get a yarn winder though, that was exciting! It helps with the knitting ceramic feeder that I got at xmoose.
Also, turned the heel successfully on my sock. (Knitters if you have problems with this process, just put on “What’s Up Doc?” then it should all work out for the best. That movie has mystical knitting properties, I tell you what…)

I seem also to be adding lime green kitchen utensils into the mix. KitchenAid red and lime green, its a helluva combo (I just tell myself it can be part of my tiny home kitchen-one of these with all my lime green utensils in it.)

Here are a couple of the limeys in question:

and I could only find the picture of this one in apricot but you can just pretend its green (though I think the orange is pretty and if I end up with some of the orange things I can just call it Shrek Kitchen. I already have the orange/green Shrek Gameboy, so its not like I don’t like those colors together.)

and I LOVE this (photo below) and want one for my tiny home so that I can chop up Bunny’s food and not have to worry about power:

Adorable.

Little things really, though that’s all I have time for of late… little things wedged into the few empty spaces and dreaming/scheming of how to work the next 10 years.
I’m fine, I suppose. The hard part will be here soon enough but I’ll deal with that when it comes.
Until then I’ll be in the laundry room… warshin’.


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