Monday, June 30, 2008

In Which There Are Toes

Finally, pictures. I think I need to be a little more attentive to measurements and stop when the foot measures seven inches from the end of the toes to the beginning of the heel; they ended up being not quite as snug as I wanted, but the next pair will be better now that I know what I'm doing. It's too hot to wear these right now, though, so I just put them on for picture purposes and whipped them back off again as soon as I was finished.
I've just cast on the toes for the next pair: purple toes and heels to go with Christine's yarn. I'm not sure what she used to dye it, but the colors--I'm sure I've said this before--remind me of Johnny Jump-Ups, which is what I'll probably call the socks for filing purposes.
The heat is really getting to me. It's been stormy here, but this hasn't lessened the humidity--go figure: rain=higher humidity--and I feel sluggish and ill because of the heat. Right now I'm hiding in my room with the air conditioner on and have no plans to poke my nose out the door unless the dog needs to go out or the house decides to burn down. It's okay, though, because I have a stack of library books to keep me occupied, and I've got socks to knit.
Dad wants to go to New England in August; I've told him he's nuts, especially because he wants to drive. I mean, really. He's driving here from Minnesota, which is already a huge distance and huge expense and huge amount of gas; I'm not sure he'll turn right around and drive to New England the minute he gets here, but after at least a couple days of recovering, he'll want to bundle into the car and get started, which will be another huge distance and another huge amount of gas. It'll be nice to get out of town for a bit, I admit, but... it's really a quandary.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Having finally finished the first tabi, I can now offer an opinion on binding off. I pulled out my copy of "Knitting Without Tears" and took a look at the options offered therein; I already knew the regular knitted bind-off wasn't going to work for me, so I looked at the sewn bind-off. At first glance it seemed a little intimidating, but once I did the first couple stitches it got easier and easier. EZ mentions something about rolling, but I didn't notice that it rolled at all. And, to make things even better, it has a good bit of give; definitely more give than a regular bind-off, I think, so I might stick with it unless other patterns call for a specific method. It's possible, though, that the long tail needed to do it might get tangled up. That's the only drawback I can think of, especially since it doesn't happen if you're doing a knitted bind-off with live yarn coming from a ball rather than a cut tail.
I wouldn't say this is a problem, per se, but what happens when you get to the end of the round? Since knitting in the round is essentially a continuous spiral where the end is slightly higher than the beginning, how do you finish when you get to the end of the round? This doesn't seem to be addressed in any of the books I've read. It's not the hiccup that bothers me--nor does it bother me when I'm doing Fair Isle-type work which definitely does have a hiccup indicating the end of the round--but the little gap, sure does. I'm not sure I handled it the right way, but I poked the needle through the stitch that would have been the beginning of the next round if I'd continued knitting, then started weaving in the ends without tying a knot. The weaving in of the long tail ended up taking about ten minutes because I wanted to make absolutely sure it wasn't going to come undone even without a knot.
The other thing I had to do was go up a needle size and use heavier yarn. I just can't seem to get six stitches per inch using fingering weight yarn and size 2 needles. Argh! But it's fine. I like sport weight yarn. I just wish I'd bought more than one color when I was in Minnesota! The idea of socks with contrasting heels and toes is just more appealing somehow. :p

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Guido Lives!

I have no idea why we keep giving the turtles Italian names. Scratch that. I know why I named Vincenzo, but the new turtle was purely accidental. Yesterday morning while I was out in the yard with the dog--she's a sweet dog and doesn't eat turtles, unlike some other dogs in my acquaintance--I saw a strange bump in the grass. I didn't have my glasses on, so I went across the yard to investigate; the closer I got, the stranger the bump became, especially because it developed a long, skinny neck and beady orange eyes. Turned out it was another boxie basking in the sun. A perfectly healthy, gorgeously colored, roughly ten-to-fifteen-year-old boxie. You can tell by looking at him how vital he is, and what a difference there is between poor Vincenzo and him.
The rest of the good news is that we marked him with a little dot of brightly colored nail polish to make sure we know who he is if he comes through again; chances are the dot will wear off and we won't recognize him if he does come back, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. After his photo shoot, I let him go and giggled while he trundled down the walk and disappeared into garden. Which leads me to my next thought.
Since endangered and extinct species have been in the news recently, I'm going to take the opportunity to grumble about conservation and preservation and how silly the local government is about not being more attentive to these issues: If a species is at risk and you know it's at risk, either due to habitat loss or population loss, doesn't it behoove you to do something about it before the species in question is extinct? I don't know the exact statistics, but I do know the information isn't hard to find. If even three adult box turtles are removed--and yes, three is a comparatively small number--from the wild, the effects on the population are devestating. So, if the DNR works with local people to band bats and songbirds, why not consider banding turtles so you can keep track of them? College students, the DNR, the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club... SOMEONE needs to think about this before the boxie goes the way of the dodo and carrier pidgeon. Not just boxies, really... but I think you get the idea.
"But they're not in any immediate danger," some overworked, harrassed bureaucrat will probably say.
That's exactly the point. People probably thought there would always be carrier pidgeons. People probably still think there will always be this animal or that plant. We become complacent, and when a disaster occurs, we mourn it, and then we begin to forget, until all that's left is a blurb in a biology textbook or in an encyclopedia, and there's a sad, stuffed specimen collecting dust in a museum.
Maybe my view is a little grim, and maybe there are bigger problems than the plight of a backwoods herp in Appalachia--that sounds like a good name for a book--but I prefer to be realistic.
On a more positive note, our property is now a certified wildlife habitat and we've got a sign tacked up to prove it. More information on such things can be found by clicking on the picture, yes it can. ;)



I remember seeing this about fifteen years ago on the PBS series "Long Ago and Far Away", hosted by the venerable James Earl Jones. Fifteen years. Damn, I feel old... but I sure don't regret having grown up on a steady diet of PBS, back before PBS sold out to people who will remain nameless. You know who you are and I hope you feel guilty for wrecking something wonderful.
Over the past week I've been plundering the depths of Netflix and watching a bunch of stuff I remember from my childhood (vaguely remember, sometimes) and teenage years. I squealed gleefully when I saw they had listings for "SeaQuest DSV"--I remember sitting in a rocking chair and watching it with my algebra book perched on my lap and looseleaf paper fluttering around me--and "Gimme A Break". The latter, while being a sitcom, chose to tackle relevent social issues in a humorous context. Plundering YouTube also turned up a few episodes of "Long Ago and Far Away". One of my favorites was the story of Svatohor; another was "The Talking Parcel" in which a parrot sings a song about mooncarrot pie. "Rarg", however, is in a class by itself.
Enjoy and have a happy Solstice.

P.S. If the embed doesn't work, try going here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cookie Modster

Thunderstorms today. This is the wettest summer we've had for quite a while, though the downside is that things in the garden might actually start to rot from too much water. Because there's little to do outside during a raging thunderstorm, I opted to stay in, stay dry, and bake cookies. Double death by chocolate cookies. Yup.
Between switching cookie sheets, I've been working on the tabi. This pair fits perfectly, but I'm still trying to figure out which method of binding off is the best to use for toe-ups. Michelle suggested something that sounds similar to the regular knitted bind-off but, instead of just going on to the next stitch, you slip the looped stitch back to the left needle, knit it again, and then slip PSSO. I think. I'm not sure I understood it. There's also a sewn bind-off in the EZ "Knitting Without Tears"; this one was recommended by the Up With Toes group on Ravelry. Since the regular knitted bind-off didn't work for me, I definitely need to try something else. And I need to figure out which one to try since the leg of the first sock is preogressing apace!
The turtle is doing fine and eating like a little piglet. His favorite snack is strawberry pieces, though I've now expanded the menu to include cherries, and turnip and mustard greens. So far I haven't offered him any greens, but I saw some at the store this morning and bought him a few leaves to see if he might feel inclined to eat them. He will not, I think, be getting any cookies! I have my own weird system for making cookies. Instead of creaming the butter with the sugar, I mix all the dry ingredients, beat the eggs with the vanilla, and melt the butter in a separate bowl; THEN I add the butter to the dry stuff when it's cooled enough that the eggs won't scramble--ick.. scrambled eggs in cookies would totally stink!--before I put in the eggs. It's sort of a reverse of the way a professional would do it; it works fine for ME, but go ahead and use whatever method works for you.

Double Death-By-Chocolate Cookies:
2.75 cups flour
.25 cups cocoa
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1.5 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla
about 4 tbsp chocolate soy milk to adjust the consistency
6 to 8 oz dark chocolate chips (or milk.. or whatever type you fancy)

Preheat oven to 350 and make sure there's a rack in the middle position. Plop (technical term.. really.. I promise!) heaping tablespoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 9 minutes. These guys are a little on the soft side and they do spread out a bit, so give 'em some room!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eggshell Storm

Well! That was a piddly thunderstorm. Now, as I say that, I suppose the sky will turn black and the power will go out. The local television network has been issuing dire warnings since earlier in the afternoon, and now, after some rumbles and a ten-minute downpour, there's nothing happening. Bleh. Which means we'll just end up having more steamy sauna weather.
I found out today that it's much easier to chop an egg in its shell by using the food processor than it is to do it by hand. Go figure. They make these things for a reason, right? I'm not sure Vincenzo notices the difference, but I sure do. I don't know why I didn't think of doing it that way for the last two eggs he ate; hopefully I'll remember next time.
In the meantime, I need to work on finishing and polishing a piece of short fiction for a friend.
This is a bit more disjointed than my normal posts, but my mind is elsewhere at the moment. I just got back from knit-night at Pocket Meadow Farm. Vincenzo was invited as a guest speaker, though for a guest speaker he had very little to say and instead chose to burrow under the paper towel in his travel box. He did, however, see fit to sneak out long enough to eat a bit of strawberry. Michelle totally fell in love with him and sat on the floor and talked to him--before anyone concludes that she's nuts, she's a delightful person and was treating him exactly the way I do, and I completely think it's important to talk to animals the same way one talks to people. She even contributed to his delinquency by donating a giant fish tank that formerly housed her red eared sliders. Thank you, tons, Michelle!
Kim, the poor dear, was dreadfully embarrassed by her mother's behavior, which only made things worse with us babying the turtle and acting like he was a cute little kid who needed to be spoiled. She was sweet and brought banana bread--yummy!--but I didn't find out if it was her own recipe or one from a book. I'll have to pester her about it next time I see them, which should be Saturday at the KIP Day at the park.
On the downside, one of the ladies present at the meeting said she's going through some.. unpleasantness. I don't want to say too much, but I will say that I hope things work out for her and that she knows we're rooting for her.
I suggested a sweater design contest with turtles as the focus, though I don't know that turtles would relish wearing sweaters even though they're unable to regulate their own body temperatures--cold-blooded, remember? I need to think about it some more, but I have a few ideas bouncing around in my head. I'll post more about it sometime soon, I promise. :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New Boxes For Turtles

Mr. Vincenzo got to the vet today and she was able to squeeze him in between appointments. We found out several things:
1. He has a calcium deficiency.
2. He has a vitamin A deficiency.
3. He does indeed have conjunctivitis.
4. It's possible he could regain the use of his hind legs, but not altogether likely.
So, as far as the second and third problems, I get to dose Mr. Vincenzo with antibiotics and cod liver oil. This becomes an amusing proposition because turtles aren't known to be cooperative creatures under even the best circumstances; they tend to clamp their mouths shut and refuse to open them unless they're good and mad, and then they hiss and glare. How, then does one administer oral doses of anything to an irate turtle?
The vet gave us a little vial of antibiotics and a syringe with a blunt needle, so I get to put on rubber gloves and wait for Vincenzo to open his mouth. The first time I tried to dose him with antibiotics, he refused to open his mouth; I had to stick the needle under the end of his beak and wait for him to hiss. It worked, so I'm happy. Vincenzo is furious, though, and has been sulking since I put him back in his box. I'll have to do this with cod liver oil, too, to get his vitamin A deficiency under control.
Speaking of boxes, he's now got a new, bigger box lined with shredded coconut fiber. We also went to PetCo and got him a basking lamp so he can stay warm at night and a cuttlebone to help with his calcium deficiency. I put him back in the box after his dose of meds and he promptly overturned his food dish and buried the egg, strawberry, and broccoli in the coconut fiber (see picture). So far he seems happy in his new house, even if he's sulking about his experience with the antibiotics.
The vet said that, in the long term, if he doesn't get the use of his legs back, maybe we could get someone to make a little set of wheels for him using something small like matchbox cars--that way he won't tip over, which would be bad for him.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Great Fluffy Bunny Debate

I've been reading about this on several message boards and am a bit puzzled. Yes, there are people who purport to be witches and can't really back up the claim, but what, I wonder, is the truest definition of what it means to be a witch and what it doesn't mean? I was a bit surprised to see how much animosity there is and how many people say "No, my definition is the right one and all you other people who have your own definition are wrong".
Other religious groups have divisions like this and it leads to squabbles, name-calling, and all manner of other unpleasantness. The above argument reads an awful lot like the same kind of nonsense; it also reminds me a bit of the division between U and non-U, which can get pretty hairy, too. The ones who are legitimately U know they are, and their associates of the same background know they are, and that's all that matters. The ones who aren't and aspire to be--i.e. nouveau riche and moneyed bourgeoisie--do as much as they can to prove they're really U, and the true-blue U's who know look down on them for being crass and vulgar and being pretentious.
I hate labels and pigeonholes, and I dislike the idea that people look at me and make silly assumptions; I have a feeling everyone else secretly feels that way, too. I prefer to be an individual, just like everyone else, and if that puts me in a fluffy little pigeonhole, that's just too darned bad.

Gasp! A turtle-less post.. what is the world coming to?