Friday, March 31, 2006
This new flower spike developed very slowly, and is pretty small, probably due to the conditions in my house over the winter being pretty much the exact opposite of a nice warm greenhouse (...as Shaun is constantly telling me.... I tell him that if he's cold, to go put on something over his T-shirt.) But the window gets good light, and so the spike continued to develop, if slowly. There are four large buds, and the tip of the spike is still green and growing, so I may get more. On Wednesday, I noticed that one of the buds had finally cracked open!
This picture was taken Wednesday, and it's not quite open yet, but you can see the beautiful deep raspberry color. It's interesting to note that this flower seems to have more contrasty stripes than the flowers from the last blooming, seen midway down this page, on the right hand side of the third picture. I wonder if the color will even out as the flower matures?
In closing, is this not the cutest thing ever?!
Emma is "reading" Cobalt a story! Cobalt jumped up on the bed and settled in for her mid-morning nap while Emma and I were getting ready to head to work. When Emma saw her, she said "Oh! Cobalt's tired. Time for nap!" Then Emma ran to her bedroom, got a book, came back and proceeded to tell Cobalt a story. She even showed Cobalt the pictures on every page.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
To say goodbye
When there is no time at all.
When it all happens in an instant
And I can’t even get there for an eternal day.
A month spent hoping,
While reality contracts
To three rooms.
A hospital bed
With screens for heartbeat and breath,
A waiting room
Filled with tense-faced strangers,
And a hotel room
Where sleep comes slowly.
Endless round of sameness,
Worse than useless.
Unable to face getting out of bed
To wait through another day.
In going through the motions,
I somehow endure without screaming.
I become numb.
A year without you,
And there’s still part of me
In that silent space.
My heart’s thinly healed,
And the world
Just keeps going
One year ago today was my mom's car accident. April 2005 was a long, bleak month spent mostly in the hospital in Bangor, Maine, hoping that Mom would wake up from the coma. But she didn't. In the year since, I have been sad, happy, depressed, angry, joyful, miserable, and resigned. Often several of these at once. It's been hard.
Though she actually passed away April 23, it was on March 30 that we lost her.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The pattern is this one from Celt's Vintage Crochet. This site is a web treasure, and if you enjoy thread crochet and have never been there, you must go NOW. Hundreds of vintage crochet (and a few knitted lace) patterns, all with pictures and rewritten directions, not just blurry scans of faded originals. Christine offers these patterns free of charge, and in my opinion, this is one of the most valuable sites out there.
There are occasional errors in the patterns (this one has several), but it's a wonderful resource. I'll be emailing Christine my corrections for this pattern, so hopefully nobody else will have the gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair that I have.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Anyhoo, since I'm just waiting around for the autoclave to cycle, I thought I'd put up the pictures of the flower boxes Emma and I planted today. Last year we had petunias and verbena, but they took a long time to get big and full. We have the open house on Thursday, so I opted for geraniums that were already in bloom. Plus they didn't have any petunias yet. Emma picked out the pansies (that girl does love her purple flowers!!) and I picked out the geraniums. By the time the pansies stop blooming, the geraniums should have totally filled the boxes. That's the plan, anyway.
And more pretty! I'll admit it- I like purple flowers, too!
No progress on the urchin shawl, little progress on the doily, no more spinning since you last saw it. But Emma and I did plant some flower boxes for the deck this morning.
The most exciting thing that has happened recently, is that spring has fully sprung on San Juan Island. The trees are blooming, the bulbs are blooming, wildflowers are starting, the sun is shining, the Pacific treefrogs are calling so loudly in the evenings that it sounds like an invasion, and the air smells like dirt and grass and dew and light. It's SPRING.
I saw the first Rufous Hummingbird of the season last Thursday, and the first Violet-green Swallows today!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
This means that right now I am 22.01% done with the body of the shawl, and 17.75% done with the whole thing. I think the time I spent creating that spreadsheet would have been better spent actually working on the shawl. Sometimes less information is better.
Instead, I have been distracted by crocheting. This is the doily I started back in August, and last showed an updated picture on Oct. 3. I haven't worked on it at all since October, since the snowflake mobile extravaganza got in the way, but I picked it up again Sunday. After struggling through a line of directions which was written COMPLETEY wrong, and ripping out that row and the three following it not once, not twice, but three times, I'm finally back on track.
Cruising along, hoping to finish next weekend sometime.
I didn't get any pictures of the Moss' Elfin butterfly yesterday, but I did come across a beautiful patch of Collinsia parviflora on the top of a rocky, mossy, outcropping in the woods.
The plants are only about an inch tall, and the flowers are about a quarter inch across. I love spring. Along with summer (at least in northern latitudes), fall, and winter, it's my favorite season.
Monday, March 20, 2006
I look forward to these every year. I'm going to try to get a picture of my own, because the one on the web just doesn't do it justice.
Friday, March 17, 2006
I wonder how many pictures of shapeless lace-blobs there are on the internet? Here, this one shows the pattern a bit better.
I've also been doing a bit of spinning. Once again, it's some Ashland Bay colonial top. If you've been reading for a while, you know that I'm helplessly addicted to this stuff.
Beautiful rich jewel tones: purple and red and turquoise and fuchsia and blue and green and just a smidge of yellow to make the rest of the colors pop.
The colorway of this is "Burgundy," but when it spins up, it looks more like "Grape" to me.
Lastly, another aquarium plant is happy! The Amazon Sword has TWO new leaves!
I'll also have you know that this picture is taken through the long axis of the tank, yet is perfectly clear (or would be if I could get my camera to focus on the right thing...). I absolutely love the Penguin Bio-Wheel filter. It's the best. The beneficial bacteria colony is fully established now, and I never have any measurable ammonia or nitrites in the water. I just change out about a gallon of water a week to keep the nitrates under 15 ppm or so. Nitrates are the end product of the nitrogen cycle in the tank, and aren't nearly as toxic to fish as ammonia and nitrites. They also serve to fertilize the plants. Love, love, love this filter.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Due to the fact that I am an idiot, I have been wearing the same pair of contact lenses for FAR too long. (And no, I'm not telling just how long it's been, since I know of at least one person who would be appalled and probably lose all respect for me...Let's just say it's been longer than the recommended 2-3 weeks. It's also been longer than the 4-5 weeks I usually push them to...). When I opened the last pair, I neglected to take the time and order more. I do take them out at night and clean them, but it's still been way too long. I kept putting it off and putting it off, until here I sit, in the pickle that I'm in.
Last Thursday (the day of the Harrowing Trip), I noticed that my left contact had an eensy-weensy little tear at the edge. Just a smidge. Too small to notice, really. I kept wearing them, but did finally break down and order more. I'm sorry, Rizz, but I really hate wearing glasses during the day. Last Sunday night, however, the left contact tore in half. Even I can't delude myself that wearing a completely torn contact would be "OK for just one more day."
Which leads us to the glasses. Normally, I would have just worn my glasses after tearing a contact. However, Emma snapped off one of the side pieces a couple months ago. Have I fixed them? Of course not. So I'm left with one very old but still working contact and one pair of broken glasses, the prescription of which happens to be about six years old anyway.
So for three days, I have been wearing just my right-eye contact. I'm pretty right-eye dominant to begin with, and my vision isn't super-bad, so aside from the fact that everythings a bit off kilter, I can still go to work, do things with Emma, and such, but it's really not fun.
I'm a little squinty all the time and feel like I should be saying "Arrr! Ahoy me maties!", due to the lack of sight on the left, hence the pirate feeling.
And why the Mad-Eye Moody feeling? Well, I discovered Emma covered with sunscreen yesterday (the waterproof, sticky kind, of course). She smiled sweetly at me and said "Emma washing hair with shampoo, Mama!"
Constant vigilance, indeed.
Monday, March 13, 2006
This is an afghan that was given to me in a partially completed state, by a friend whose sister started it before her stroke. My friend's sister recently passed away, and I am the recipient of her yarn stash. I passed most of it along to the thrift store and other friends, because most of the yarn was acrylic and strange colors, but this afghan is wool and in a nice pattern. We don't need another afghan, so I decided that I would finish it and give it back to Trish so she would have something her sister made.
It's a simple one-row lacy pattern, with a plain row between the lace rows, and the fabric pulls into nice waves. Quite effective, I think. It was quick to knit (I did a whole skein in one evening!) and I think the finished product looks nice. However.....
As I was knitting, I kept coming across suspicious areas of the yarn that looked chewed. While I never actually saw any wriggly or winged critters in the yarn, afghan, or bag, it made me very nervous to have this fiber in my house. I'm glad that the project's finished and gone. I did give it a wash and 24-hour soapy soak after I finished knitting.
Tonight I plan to pick up the urchin shawl again, and get at least 6 rounds done. Each round is so long now, that they eat up a big chunk of time.
I also wanted to post an update of the aquarium. I got some more tetras (both kinds- glowlight and black neon) and a couple plants, so the tank is now fully stocked and in my mind, complete. Except for maybe more plants. Definitely no more fish.
Fish: 6 glowlight tetras and 5 black neon tetras.
Plants (left to right): Java fern (front)- Microsorium pteropus, Amazon Sword (back)- Echinodorus sp., some grassy thing they told me was "Lily Grass" but could be anything (even a non-aquatic, as it's doing so poorly), Borneo fern- Trichomanes javanicum, and tapegrass- Vallisneria sp.
Other critters: Physid snails.
The Java fern came mounted on a piece of wood, and the Borneo fern was loose, but I got another piece of wood and tied it on myself, since they don't do well just in the gravel. I like the wood in the tank, and it is helping lower the pH somewhat. Our well water is moderately hard and alkaline, so having the wood really helps.
The snails haven't become a problem yet. I actually saw the largest black neon tetra female nibbling at an egg mass yesterday, so they may never become a problem.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Anyway we all went, leaving on the 6:00 am ferry (ugh) so that Shaun could get the test done and be back in time to work in the afternoon. He rode back with the other swimmers on the 11:00 ferry, but Emma and I stayed longer to do the Home Depot, Costco, etc shopping.
When we were on the this ride it was somewhat windy and wavy, but not really rough. I felt the waviness, but I'm more susceptible to motion sickness than a lot of people, and it wasn't enough to bother even me much.
So Emma and I went along our merry way and did our shopping. Uneventful, except that Emma had a little "accident" in the middle of the aisle at Wal-Mart. The very nice young man who brought the mop and bucket to clean up the puddle said that it was the third time this month he had to clean up something of the sort. We then proceeded to the shoe area to find a dry pair of sneakers, and to the toddler clothes area to get dry underwear and socks. (Luckily, she had a spare pair of pants in the car.) I guess if she was going to have a major public accident, Wal-Mart was a good place for it to happen. I purposely got sneakers and socks that were too big so she can grow into them, and she had fun stomping around in her giant clown shoes for the rest of the day.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the harrowing part.
We planned to take the 2:30 ferry home. We got to the dock at 1:30, and Emma settled in for a nap in her carseat. By 2:15, the ferry still hadn't arrived, and the announcer came on the PA system to say it would be about half an hour late due to windy conditions. OK, fine, that happens sometimes. Emma's still asleep, I have a book, no problem. I notice in passing that the winds are in fact quite stong, and the trees and light poles are bending a lot. Oh well, Anacortes is usually windy.
When the boat finally arrives, unloads, and we can drive on, it's about 3:20. The winds have picked up significantly, and I'm glad to be getting on the boat so that the rain doesn't pound on the windows so loudly. It might wake up Emma.
We leave the dock about 3:30, and it happened that because we got to the ferry terminal early, I was the first car in my lane when they loaded the ferry. At the very front, with an unpleasantly clear view out the front of the boat. As soon as we get out of the harbor, I see Rosario Strait. I immediately wished that I had stayed in Anacortes. The waves were HUGE. I also wished that I had woken Emma and gone to a higher deck of the ferry. Emma was still asleep when we drove onto the ferry, and rather than wake a sleeping toddler (a cardinal sin), I decided that we could just stay in the car until she woke. As it was, by the time I wanted to leave the car, it was too late.
The crash from the first giant wave woke Emma up, and the second set her shrieking. The ferry was rocking sideways as well as front and back. I wasn't too scared until waves started breaking ONTO my car. As the ferry crashed down into the waves, the water surged up over the car deck. My car was probably a good 20 feet back from the edge of the deck, and I had green water- not spray, not foam, but actual solid WAVES- flying toward me and breaking onto my car roof. The deck had at least 6" of water sloshing around after each wave, and a couple times I felt the car shift forward or back as the water rushed around and the boat rode up or down a wave swell.
It was mondo scary. The very serious faces of the ferry workers dashing around as they reset the tire chocks and added new ones to my car didn't reassure me at all. Every time we rocked and hit another wave, Emma would scream "No more wave Mama! No more wave!" Then the water would hit the windshield and she would scream again. No mother ever wants to hear her child cry like that. I was shaking and gripping the steering wheel very hard, and wondering how fast I could get to Emma and unclip her seatbelt if the car went over the edge.
It was AWFUL. I was so scared I didn't even feel seasick. It probably wasn't quite as dangerous as I felt it was, but still.... I kept telling myself that the Captain knew what he was doing, a Washington State ferry has never sunk, and things like that. Thankfully, after we got past Rosario Strait and Thatcher Pass and were in among the islands, the waves settled down. When we were getting ready to drive off the ferry, I asked one of the deckhands how high the waves were in Rosario Straight, and he said "Probably 10-12 feet." And this morning, I looked online to see how hard the winds were blowing, and found this:
Approximately 30-40 knots (35-46 miles per hour), gusting higher. Crazy. I hope to never have another ferry ride like this again.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Please, tell me what part of this sign is unclear and/or difficult to understand:
Leaving the common-use sink and counter full of dirty glassware and used Kimwipes is not nice. Especially when my workstation is right next to said sink and counter. Just because you let your mess spill over into my space does not mean that it becomes my mess. I don't know what kinds of chemicals you left in that half-full, unlabelled bottle. Are they hazardous? Can they go down the drain? Will I mutate if I touch them?
Oh, and while we're at it, stop taking my Sharpie, labelling tape, and box of Kimwipes. I don't mind at all if you use them, but put them back when you're done and if you use use them up, get a replacement from the supply cupboard! This does not mean that you can wriggle out of going to the supply cupboard by using up all the Kimwipes and stuffing one back in the top so it looks like the box isn't empty, then putting the box back at my station. I can tell that the Kimwipe has been removed and replaced because you just poked it in the box, and the folds are different.
Respect, people. Respect and consideration.
Monday, March 06, 2006
All that's left is:
Sand, spackle, and repaint the cracks above the propane heater.
Dust everything. (can't do this until after sanding)
Touch-up paint as needed throughout the house. (can't do this until after dusting)
Finish washing the carpet. (can't do this until after painting)
De-clutter the garage.
Make sure the fridge is presentable. Wipe down its shelves.
Wipe down the pantry shelves.
Make sure the area under the kitchen sink is presentable.
Finish the deck.
Take a load of outgrown clothes, toys, and miscellania to the thrift shop.
My house is looking fabulous. I love it even more, and wish we weren't moving. Enough of that. I, for one, am sick of looking at lists of chores.
On Saturday, I got to meet Kris! She and her husband and daughter came up to San Juan Island for a weekend vacation, and we met up for a couple hours to say hi. It was really neat to meet a blogger in person. And can I just say- Her daughter is so cute! We initially met at the beach, but it was really windy and cold, so we went to the playground instead, which was much better. Emma and Anna Grace had fun playing (though at this age, there wasn't really much playing together, just near each other...), and Kris and I chatted. Fun!
Kris, Anna Grace, me, Emma
I'll close for now with pictures from the latest installments of "Adventures in Toddlerland." Remember the time last March when Emma hid the TV remote? Well, apparently March is the month to do this. Luckily, it was only lost for 12 hours or so this time, before Shaun found it.
Carefully tucked inside the back of the couch. And this morning, I came across this in the hallway:
I felt a little bad about stopping to take a picture, instead of talking sternly to her about not drawing on the walls. But it was her very first time doing this, after all, and I felt it needed documentation. She did get the talk, and had to clean it up herself.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
What have I been doing? Well, the house is now on the market, and is available for viewing tomorrow. YIKES!!!
Since Friday, I have:
- Cleaned both bathroms. CLEANED them. Wiping off the baseboards-dusting the tops of the lights-cleaning behind the toilet-scrubbing the floor kind of cleaning.
- Re-caulked along the tub in both bathrooms.
- Re-caulked along the kitchen counters.
- Washed every window in the house, inside and out.
- Picked up all toys from the livingroom and found alternate places for them, either in Emma's room or in the blanket chest. Weeded out some that she doesn't play with.
- Collected all Emma's books from all over the house and put them neatly back on her bookshelves.
- Collected all my books from all over the house and put them neatly back on my bookshelves. Shaun can do his own books.
- De-cluttered the catch-all bookshelves in the living and dining rooms.
- Went through all Emma's clothes and weeded out all the ones that are too small.
- Loaded, ran, emptied, and partially loaded the dishwasher.
- Four loads of laundry
- Vacuumed all the livingroom furniture, even into the cracks.
- Did a preliminary carpet vacuuming, in preparation for the real vacuuming and carpet-washing that will take place tonight.
In fairness, I must say that Shaun cleaned the whole kitchen, is doing his laundry, and is working on finishing the deck. He dug a giant hole for the footing of the steps yesterday, and laid the cement blocks and installed the stringers today.
Still to do? Too much.
- Sand, spackle, and repaint two small areas above the propane heater where the wall settled slightly and cracked a bit. It was like this when we moved in.
- Touch-up paint as needed throughout the house.
- Finish the deck (it just needs railings).
- Vacuum and wash the carpet.
- De-clutter the office.
- Take all recycling in.
- De-clutter the garage (which won't be bad once the recycling is gone.)
- Mow the grass.
- Put all flowerboxes under the deck so people can't see last summer's dead petunias.
- De-clutter the top of my dresser.
- Organize the hall and bedroom closets.
- Make sure all laundry is either clean and put away or in a laundry basket in the closet.
- De-clutter the divider counter between the kitchen and dining room.
- Dust everything, including the ceiling corners.
- Clean the cat box.
- Make sure the fridge is presentable. Wipe down its shelves.
- Wipe down the pantry shelves.
- Make sure the area under the kitchen sink is presentable.
- Make sure my fiber closet is presentable.
I'd better stop writing, go home, and get to work!
Friday, March 03, 2006
I wrote this little article for my local textile guild newsletter, and I thought it might be of interest to some of the fibery community.
Blocking and Starching Doilies:
1. ALWAYS wash the doily. I use mild dish soap and lukewarm water. Gently squeeze the suds through then let it soak, like washing a sweater. Don't twist or rub the doily. Rinse thoroughly, at least twice. Squeeze it out, then roll in a towel to remove as much water as possible.
2. Prepare the blocking board. A double layer of corrugated cardboard works well, just tape them together so they don't slip. You need something thick enough to hold the pins securely, and at least as big as the finished size of your doily plus a few inches extra all around. Tape a blocking guide on top of the cardboard and cover it with plastic wrap. The blocking guide is just a series of concentric circles (or rectangles or squares or whatever) or radial lines marked with measured tick-marks, that you use as a guide to ensure that your doily ends up perfectly round or with even corners. Draw the guide using a permanent pen or a pencil so that the ink doesn't run and stain the doily.
3. Using T-pins (stainless steel if you can find them), pin the doily to the board, using the lines on the blocking guide to make sure all the sides are even. Cotton doilies are quite sturdy, and can be pulled very tight. The doily will probably have shrunk a bit and tightened during the wash, so stretch it in stages. Pin it out as far as you can without overdoing it, let it rest 10-15 minutes, then stretch it again and repin. It will usually grow a bit after the rest. Starting at the center and working your way out can be helpful when blocking large doilies, as this ensures that all areas of the doily are evenly stretched.
4. Use a lot of pins. How the doily looks on the board is how it will look when it is finished, so pin out each picot, shell, chain loop, etc. This includes the interior of the doily as well as the outside edge, if there are areas that do not automatically settle into place as you stretch the doily.
5. When the doily is completely pinned, you can spray it with starch. This is not always necessary, depending on the thread used and if the doily is densely crocheted. Use your own judgement based on the look you want. Doilies with a lot of chain loops usually need more starch to maintain their structure. If a heavy starch is desired, spray lightly once, let it soak into the thread, then spray it again. After spraying, blot up the excess (especially around the pins) to prevent the cardboard from getting soggy and to speed drying. The plastic wrap will help prevent soggy cardboard for the most part, but the starch solution can still run down through the pin holes, so multiple light sprays with blotting are better than one heavy one.
6. Let the doily dry thoroughly, completely, entirely, before unpinning. At least overnight is best. If it's not completely dry when you remove it, it can lose its shape and all your careful pinning will be for nothing.
7. To store a doily, wrap it in acid-free tissue paper and if possible store it flat or rolled around a tube, not folded.
This method gives a non-permanent stiffening that is still flexible, and will have to be repeated if you wash the doily. If you're blocking something, like a snowflake or a basket, that needs to be very stiff, you can dip it in a solution of slightly diluted white glue before pinning it out (squeeze it out and blot it before pinning, to get rid of the excess glue). This method is hard, permanent, and will not wash out. Sugar solutions, boiled starch, and commercial fabric stiffeners can also be used, but I like the white glue.
This sounds like a lot of work, but the result is worth it. Taking the time to properly block a doily makes all the difference in the world in how the finished piece looks.