Sunday, March 30, 2008


Easter is over, and I'm pretty sure there are no marshmallow Peeps to be had now that the post-Easter candy sales are also over. However, this may help tide me over until next spring. Click the Peep and prepare to be amused.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Birth Announcement

No, it isn't what you think. I haven't suddenly, by some quirk of disaster found myself in a family way. The new addition to the family is of the electronic variety: the new laptop has arrived, and in spite of my misgivings and grumbling about Chinese politics and human rights violations, I've decided to keep it. The new laptop has been christened Lirael after the titular heroine of the Garth Nix novel; unlike her namesake, however, she will not be sailing down rivers or swinging swords or becoming a Remembrancer. I'm reeling at the speed and fluidity with which she performs her tasks and have completely fallen in love with Windows Vista; my only gripe is that she makes it a little hard to connect to the I-net and that her graphics card isn't of a slightly higher caliber... but I can do without the last two Sims 2 expansions if it means having a good computer that actually works and turns on. My computer needs are relatively modest, I think: an Internet connection, a bit of gaming, storage space, and a functional word processor. I can do without a webcam, DVD burner, and sundry other bits of nincompoopery added by the manufacturer... but these are simply my gripes as a truly quarter-hearted Luddite.
No, there will be no engravers sending out vellum notecards bearing the date, time, and weight of the new arrival, though I find it slightly amusing that yesterday, according to the Fed Hex tracking site, Lirael departed Shanghai at approximately 4:15 PM, arrived in Ankorage, Alaska at 2:15 PM, and arrived at the door at around 12:30 this afternoon. The International Dateline works in most mysterious ways: It allows one to arrive at a destination before one has left one's point of origin. :P I'm sleepy... can you tell?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Catnip Addicted

After debating whether or not catnip is addictive to cats and whether or not cats suffer harmful side effects from.. erm.. indulging, here I am contributing to the delinquency of a cat named Camille. She, like almost every other cat in my acquaintance, goes nuts at the scent of catnip. She cavorts, she yowls, she scampers to and fro, then rolls over to do battle with nonexistant foes that are, surely, the product of her catnip clouded mind. But she seems to enjoy herself so much that I figure it's worth spoiling her by knitting little kitty toys stuffed with her favorite herbal treat.
The original Herbert was about three times the size of the new version and did not have any catnip stashed inside. I also added some waste yarn eyes instead of plastic ones, just in case she might happen to chew one off while in the throes of catnip induced ecstacy.
She's so spoiled. I keep telling her I don't know many cats who are fortunate enough to have someone knit toys for them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

un-Red Letter Day

This was one of those nasty days where it seemed like everything went wrong. My laptop died; it's sitting in a box waiting to be properly disposed of--thank you, Rachael, for giving me an alternative to backing over it with the car--and mom's computer has gone to be repaired because it's got problems of its own. Fortunately, we have an older machine that functions well enough to allow us to check e-mail and things like that; it works as a temporary measure and we'll keep it around in case some other technological disaster should occur.
In the meantime, though, I heard from dad today. It was not, however, a response to my threat over Easter to leave messages on his answering machine with me singing the "Easter Parade" song by Irving Berlin. That, I think, would have been less dire than what he did have to deal with over the past weekend. His father has been living in an assisted care facility among people who, like him, have enough mobility and their faculties are still functioning pretty well for them to get along without too much help. Over the weekend, Dad got a phonecall from his sister saying Grandpa was feeling dizzy and had been whisked to the hospital; long story made short, he was dehydrated and weak because he hasn't been eating or drinking properly for a few days.
Reason? The cancer they thought gone is back. It's not just back, but it's back explosively and spread to the rest of his organs in an alarmingly short period of time. Bottom line? Grandpa has six months. My response? I cried and told Dad that if he needs to talk, he's welcome to call. Grandpa has always been a peppery fellow with a pragmatic streak more than a mile wide. Dad said Grandpa's not in pain and is bearing up well; he's not resigned, but he's accepted the outcome. The hospital-or perhaps one of the familymembers--arranged for a minsiter to visit him to talk about dying. Grandpa, however, wanted none of the feel-good nonsense the minister offered; Dad said Grandpa had a thing or two to say to the minister about the subject of death and dying, and that made both of us chuckle.
I know this will be hard on them. It'll be hard on me, too, even though I haven't seen my grandparents for about 15 years or so. They moved to Arizona, which isn't exactly nextdoor, and I only saw them at holidays when they'd come to my aunt's house in Maryland. After Grandma's health declined through the Beast of Alzheimers, they moved back to North Dakota. Grandma died about two years ago.
When Grandpa moved into the assisted care facility, I sent him a hand knit sweater thinking he'd need it on those biting, bitter Dakota winters. He'll need it more now, and I'm glad he has it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Death Of A Laptop

For the past five years I've been the proud parent of a Hewlett-Packard laptop. Little did I know that planned obsolescence would make this relationship short indeed; after three years of smooth running, Sanar needed a new hard drive after it developed a bad sector. Six months later, the CD drive needed to be replaced. That's not bad for such an aged machine! Now, though, it's time to bid Sanar farewell and make way for the next generation.
Sometime around the first week of April, the replacement will arrive and Sanar will be given a fitting... erm... disposal. I'm not sure how to do this, but I'm considering triple bagging with trash bags and backing over it with the car. I've read that things like laptops and cellphones shouldn't just be tossed out in the trash because people can find all kinds of things out about previous owners, and that it's probably a good idea to rip the innards out before you... just in case.
For those of you who care to keep informed, my presence will be sporadic until the replacement arrives and we get used to each other. Take care and enjoy the Easter sugar rush and spring weather! :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Never grow old, Robert C.

Okay. Senator Robert C. Byrd has grown old indeed. They don't make 'em like him anymore, perhaps the last of the great political orators in this country. Long live Senator Byrd. And long live Bill Moyers. I strongly urge any and all to go HERE.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Popul Who?

Today was library day and I completely forgot to look up anything relating to Popul Vuh until I got home with an armload of fluffy (and one not-so-fluffy) books with which to entertain myself. So now, because I said I wouldn't use the I-net, I'm doing what I said I wouldn't and looking up sources in case anyone besides me (i.e. Miss Rachael... ahem!) is interested in creation cycles and mythology.
Popul Vuh, however, isn't a who; it's a what. Wikipedia gives the translation as something like a council book or codified oral histories; this contains the creation cycle and the stories of two pairs of heroes. The original document, written in the mid-16th century in Quiche (see note at the bottom of the post) appears to have been lost but it is believed that the San Bartolo murals correspond to much of the lost document. Definitely worth taking a look if you're curious.
Wikipedia breaks it down thus, though points out that the break-down varies with the translation:
Part 1

  • Gods create world.
  • Gods create first humans from wood; these are emotionless and imperfect.
  • Gods destroy first humans in a flood; humans are turned into monkeys.
  • Two diviners named Hunahpu and Xbalanque destroy the destroyers.

Part 2

  • Diviners produce brothers.
  • Diviners also produce "Monkey Twins" HunBatz and HunChouen.
  • Lords of Xibalba kill the Monkey Twins.
  • Diviners produce Hero Twins named HunHunahpu and HunXbalanque
  • Hero Twins defeat Xibalba houses of Gloom, Knives, Cold, Jaguars, Fire, and Bats

Part 3

  • First four "real" people are made: Jaguar Quiché, Jaguar Night, Naught, and Wind Jaguar
  • Tribes descend from these four, speaking the same language, and travel to TulanZuiva
  • Language gets fouled up and the tribes disperse.
  • Tohil is recognized as a god and demands live sacrifices; goes into hiding later.

Part 4

  • Tohil affects Earth Lords through priests and his dominion destroys the Quiche.
  • Priests attempt abductions to get sacrifices, which the tribes resist.
  • Quiche found Gumarca and the Feathered Serpent Lord Gucumatz puts them in power.
  • Elaborate rituals instituted by Gucumatz.
  • Tribal geneaology.
Believe it or not, that's the short version. The entire twelve chapters of the cycle have been translated from Quiche (no, that's not a cute little French pie with eggs and spinach, it's a language) into English HERE if anyone else wants to read it. Notice, please, the elements this cycle has in common with numerous other creation cycles in existence; since I'm feeling magnanimous (and proud of myself for noticing the similarities.. thank you, Dr. Carter), I'll donate a woolly prize to the first person who gets it right. :P


Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring Pumpkins

Remember that ginormous pumpkin that got slaughtered last autumn? There's still some left in the freezer, but it's being put to good use. Last night part of it went into some pumpkin lasagne; the original recipe was on the Better Homes and Gardens website, but there was some tweaking--as per usual. I found it a bit bland, but I'm sure the addition of a few more spices and some different types of pepper would perk it right up.

Pumpkin Lasagne:
1 package lasagne noodles
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp olive oil; reserve 1 tbsp to add to the filling after you use 1 tbsp to brown the meat
27 oz pumpkin puree (about 1.5 cans of the Libby's Pure Pumpkin, but not the pie filling!)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
4 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup red wine
1.5 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
8 oz shredded part skim mozarella
2 cups part skim ricotta

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while you make the filling.
Brown the meat with 1 tbsp of olive oil; add the mushrooms, onion, red wine, salt, pepper, garlic, and spices. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until the mushrooms have released some of their juice and are softened but not mushy. Add the pumpkin and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Mix thoroughly to combine all the ingredients, and add a little more wine if necessary to make the mixture less stiff.
Grease a baking pan and put down a layer of noodles. Use approximately 1/3 of the pumpkin mix to cover the noodles, then add ricotta and some of the mozerella. Repeat until all the noodles, cheese, and filling are used. Bah.. use whatever method for constructing lasagne is your normal one. Cover the baking pan with tin foil and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Let stand for a little while before serving.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Keeping Up Appearances

No. This has nothing to do with Mrs. Bucket-pronounced-Bouquet.
I've never believed in using blogs as a way to air dirty laundry or ramble about grievances, but sometimes it just makes you feel better to get things off your chest while the beast that is the I-net provides a modicum of anonymity.
Anyway, today I got a message out of the blue from someone I thought was out of my life permanently. Friends move, friends "break up", friends change allegiances, and then they come back and lay the blame at each other's feet for inexplicable reasons.
Say, for instance, someone does something you think isn't necessarily a good idea and, while you don't attack them outright for making a not-so-good decision, you refuse to participate in activities revolving around the not-so-good decision because any participation on your part makes it seem like you agree that what's going on is a brilliant idea. The person in question then stops speaking to you after you offer an explanation, even though you're not actually obliged to give one; for well over a year, you hear nothing further and consider the friendship dead, so you write it off. Yes, like taxes.
So, at some point, you get a message from the person asking if you're talking to them yet. And this leaves you scratching your head because, far as you can remember, who weren't the one who stopped talking. How, then, are you to react? Do you lash out and lay blame and say, "No, no, no, no, I'm not the one who did X, Y, and Z! YOU blah-blah-blah-de-blah-de-blah"?
It's a picklement, as Piers Anthony has been known to write. It really is.

Monday, March 3, 2008

When the Kauni Comes Home

It's almost time for another yarn review, I think, but there will be a slight delay owing to the number of projects lurking in my basket and in my knitting bag. I'd like to finish at least one of them before I start something using the yarn that arrived today.
Every so often trends pop up and spread like measles; the world of knitting is no exception here. I've never been a trendy person. I hate clothes shopping and ignore the advice offered by magazines like Vogue and choose my own palettes depending on my mood or on a whim. In general, I avoid trendy yarns, too, and instead choose things based on budget and my own quirky tastes.
Anyway, for a while Malabrigo seemed to be the It yarn. I don't know that its popularity is waning; I see it and ads for it everywhere. Now, though, it looks like the new trend is something called Kauni. Kauni, from what I understand, is made in Estonia. When it first became available, shops had a hard time getting it, and now that its popularity is surging, they're having a hard time keeping it in stock. So much so, in fact, that some vendors actually have waiting lists for it because they've had to reorder it or have yet to get their first batches. I wonder if knitters will be lurking behind mailboxes to swipe each other's boxes, or if there will be stampedes similar to those from the heyday of the original Cabbage Patch dolls--I remember hearing about people literally being trampled to death in the rush to get the last doll on the shelf. I hope knitters behave better.
So here's a bit of Kauni porn to titillate anyone who reads this. I'm not sure what I'll do with it. Stick it in the bank with some mothballs, maybe, and hope I can find a pattern that will make use of LOTS of fingering weight yarn dyed in a self-striping rainbow.