Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some weaving is done, and a sampler.

What sampler, you ask? The one I wove on the big, restored floor loom, Bam-Bam. But, I'm not going to show it off because it's about as ugly as sin except for the last six inches or so. Maybe I just show off those inches.

The next project in the queue is a standard sized scarf using three different colors of cochineal dyed Blue-faced Leicester from (sales plug) Sonoran Desert Dyed Fibers. The weave structure will be twill in a houndstooth pattern. Way cool.

Probably you'll be wanting to see the Autumn Tartan shawl (a little too big to be called a scarf). It turned out great!

oh, well, not when if first came off the loom. Ugh! Look at those ratty edges! All those threads hanging out! Actually, this is after it went through the wash.  It was even more ratty when it came off the loom. Wannabe Weavers, do not despair!

Yes, I took a cellphone picture. I'm such a dork. And the color isn't quite there - the yellow is more yellow than gold. And yes, that's the headset I use for work.  One of the flute players in the Flute Choir has pictures of us in concert where I am wearing this piece so I'm hoping he'll share those soon.

So there we are. The Autumn Tartan Shawl.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Don't poached eggs just make you go weak in the knees?

I like eggs, clean, unspoiled by melted cheese eggs. Scrambled, fried, hard boiled, soft boiled, poached...My dad, Jim, used to make soft-boiled eggs when I'd come to visit. This is when he lived on Erlands Point in Silverdale. Let me say that Jim is not a culinary genius, but he's as good a cook as anyone else who doesn't have their own cooking show on Food Network. He's just no Anthony Bourdain. But when we dipped English muffins into those soft boiled eggs it just made my heart sing. Maybe it was the amazing view of Dyes Inlet out the picture window, maybe it was just about Eating Breakfast with Dad. I was 13 years old. 

Then I discovered Eggs Benedict. Whoa, Nelly! I do kinda like a little Hollandaise on my eggs once in a while, but only if Canadian bacon and an English muffin are between it and the plate. French, Canadian, English, Holland ( hahaha ) how very international. I'm sure I thought I was so sophisticated when I ordered it. There was a restaurant in Seattle, on Denny Way, that served THE BEST Eggs Benedict and hash browns. Again, perhaps it was the atmosphere. After a concert or Rocky Horror, midnight, smoking and goofing off with friends, sitting on the patio in the summer...or on a Saturday morning. It was a 24-hr place.

Dad used to also make corned beef hash with the egg fried in the middle, which essentially poached it...and I'd stick my fork in the middle and mush it around and the yolk would ooze into all the little crevices of the hash that hadn't been crisped...

Huevos Rancheros is best with poached eggs. Try it with roja. Poached eggs are to die for on pancakes with breakfast sausage and a little drizzle of maple syrup - no drenching, just enough to get an occasional reminder that it's there.

I was surfing Chow.com for an appetizer to take to a friend's Thanksgiving dinner and ran across some ideas for leftovers...it included turkey hash and a poached egg. Sounds good to me. See how it derails me? 

I have so many posts "in progress" but this one demanded to be written right now.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Curbside Delivery

When Costco says "curbside delivery" that's exactly what they mean. Take it literally. The good news is that with two men (DH and Son) and a lot of motivation (Mom with camera and pom-poms), three pallets of cabinets can be moved indoors in about 30 minutes. 

Considering the right way to haul this f****r up.

Answer: just pick it up.

Cabinets in the living room.

Cabinets in the foyer.

No cabinets in the kitchen today, but painting happened!

I can't begin to tell you what it's like to be surrounded by cabinets all packed in their protective cardboard shells. It's excellent solid wood so it smells nice but it's weird anyway.

Anyone will tell you that doing a kitchen remodel is stressful and draining. Doesn't matter if you're doing it because you want to, need to, or any combination of the two. In my world this takes the shape of me having trouble getting to sleep, then waking up at 3:15 almost every night and it takes a half hour to get back to sleep. Why 3:15am? Beats me but it's frighteningly consistent. I'm not even doing the work. My right arm is "gimpy" (tendonitis) so about the only way I can contribute is handing tools to DH while he's up on the ladder, taking pictures, swiping the check card at Home Depot. 

Tomorrow is the first day of the new school year. DH is back to a "normal" work schedule. He also has a show opening on Sept 8th. He really knows how to load up on activities, doesn't he? My theory is that I'm carrying the stress for both of us (not by choice) so he doesn't have to this week. 

I'm so tired that I have to debate whether to go to bed early or get into the car and drive one mile to the grocery store for the four items we need. It should be a no-brainer, but getting into the car is so unappealing. Maybe I'll just have a little nap...just a tiny one...

The Kitchen Remodel, Cont'd

As my die hard readers know (ha, 'cause I have SO many of you), we've been picking away at a kitchen remodel in our 100-yr old home since we moved in, ten years this Christmas.When I say "picking away" I'm really not kidding. It went something like this...

2001: Bought the house, started and finished major rehabilitation work just in time to move in for Christmas: plastering, plumbing, flooring, carpeting, painting, and basically bringing everything up to code, inside and out, and making the place habitable.

2002 to 2004: OMG, what the hell are we going to do with the kitchen?! So exhausted and distracted by teenage boys and dealing with their problems that it was all we could do to make it through the day.

2005: Started drafting the kitchen plan. The kids become a little more independent, DH begins his work with FIRST Robotics, and we start to feel a little more relaxed, less exhausted, and a little motivated. Replaced and enlarged the electrical panel to make sure we could add the appropriate outlets in the kitchen, which has three really inconveniently placed outlets which had a tendency to trip the breaker.

2006: DH ripped out an entire wall of cabinets and built a beautiful wall of open shelving while I was on vacation for ten days in Scotland with my mother and grandmother. Boy howdy was I surprised when I got home. I think my exact words were "holy shit."

2007: Inspired by his success in the kitchen, DH took a break and constructed built-in cabinets in the living room (but the molding and the doors on the bottom still haven't been added, even though I bought him a NEW compound miter saw the previous Christmas because our garage had been burgled). Again, he started this while I was on a two-week business trip to India. Perhaps I need to go on another long vacation...

2008: Kitchen windows shortened. A little like a boob lift. We were having all the windows replaced (all as in 30 of them, yes, and well worth it, although to be honest there are still 8 more that could stand to be replaced) and had the guys order shorter windows for the kitchen. They still hit at the same height at the top, but the bottom was filled in so we could run counter in front of the window. Even then we knew where certain elements would reside.

2009: Moved the kitchen door three feet left of it's original position. We have always known where we would move the fridge, so this was an easy thing to add to the deck work we were doing.  I think we replaced the dishwasher during this year, too.

2010: finalized the kitchen design - FINALLY! In Fall of 2010, I said to DH: just do it. I trust you, tell me when you are done. We've been futzing with the kitchen design for years, and had settled on certain things but there were details that were incomplete.
2011: This year, we replaced our gawd-awful glass-top freestanding range, whose oven thermostat ran 100 degrees too hot, with a wonderful freestanding gas range (from Craig's List!) which we just love. Of course, this also involved getting gas piped in from the street, having the gas plumbing done, etc. We also replaced the vent hood, which didn't work anyway. 

Most of the electrical is complete, and the majority of the dry-walling and misc plastering is done. We'd hoped that would all be done a little earlier so we could be done with the painting by Labor Day Weekend but you know how these things go...they had to start a day late, then ran into some old-house-wiring challenges...it happens and it's no big deal.What counts is that the work is done.

The cabinets arrived today at 6pm, and we'll hold them in the foyer and living room and wherever we can find room for them until the painting and floor is done and then we can begin hanging the uppers. 

13x13 Ferroker Floor Tiles
Backsplash - glass tile in "Arctic Ice." Ours are a little less saturated.

We haven't picked out the counter tiles yet but they'll be white, hopefully something with a little variation and interest, as in not just plain old white. In a couple of years, when we can afford it again, we'll replace it with solid surface Staron in Pebble Frost (probably, because it goes well with the floor, cabinets, and the glass tiles).

So there we are. The work commences at a roaring pace. The kitchen is barely habitable right now only because it's complete chaos and objects are continually changing places, like old base cabinets that still house flatware and pans. There is dust everywhere. 

Pictures to come...really. They are in my camera.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

This Is How It Goes

This is how it goes when I spin when I spin on a spindle. First, I pile on as much fiber as possible onto the little guy. The spindle only weighs about 16 grams, but the light weight allows me to spin very fine so I can ply three very fine singles to make a thin-ish yarn. In this picture I'm referring to the second spindle, the out of focus spindle, with the green fiber. I posted this picture a few posts ago.
So, I don't really care to ply from my spindle - a phrase, by the way, wrought with meaning in the world of spinners - so I wind it off onto a storage bobbin. The bobbins I use were recommended by one of my spinning heroes, Judith MacKenzie McCuin. They are generally used by weavers for storing small amounts of yarn. Judith has a whole philosophy about how a spinner can use these bobbins in the plying stage of the game. I will restrain myself from explaining it except to say: she's so damned wise.

Anyway. I spun up a little more than what you see here,  and wound it off onto one of my wee storage bobbins.
It's about 16 grams of fiber. I REALLY stretched the limits of the little spindle. There's some engineering involving rotation and gravity and twist per inch and how it translates to strength, and I read all of this in a book and was mostly lost in the math. Bottom line: a spindle can generally hold it's weight in fiber. I didn't make that up. I read that somewhere too, though not in the same place I read about the engineering and string theory (ha ha) as it pertains to spinning. Time to ply.

I wish I'd taken a picture of my slapdash "lazy kate." I'd love to know the origin of the name for the device that holds a bobbin from which you pull string/thread/yarn. I have a perfectly good one but it's very fiddly so I stuck a 3/8" steel rod into the spout of a teapot and put the bobbin onto the steel rod. It's quite silly looking and works marvelously if you only need to use one bobbin. On the other hand, if you have multiple teapots you can press them into use for multiple bobbins for plying two, three, four, or more strands into yarn. I'm using a single bobbin to make a three-ply yarn! Ahhh! It's magic! Nah, actually it's called Navajo plying and it is slick. 
So many colors! My goal with this round of spinning was to see how much I could fit on the spindle, and I just used whatever little samples of fiber I had lying around my desk. There's some black alpaca, creamy white cormo, dark green cormo/mohair blend, a short length of bright green mystery wool, and some teal/green/blue targhee. I was also interested to see how each of these would spin on the wee spindle. I'm still struggling with the right tool configuration for alpaca. I have so much of this fiber that there is no shortage of opportunity.
Cellphone picture. See, this little skein of yarn isn't very big. That's what 16g plied sock-weight fiber looks like.
The neat thing about this type of plying is that you can retain the color sequences of the fiber you've spun without a great deal of thought or advance planning. I've done the "split the roving lengthwise into three pieces and spin each separately, then ply." Yeah, I've done that a couple of times and all the colors SHOULD mostly line up but so far, for me, they haven't. Maybe my planning is less than wonderful. Maybe I'm impatient (ooh, rings a bell...). Now that I've figured out how to Navajo ply it's just about all I want to do. I'll deal with the other when I begin plying four, five, or more strands. 

Friday, September 02, 2011

I Weft My Heart...in a Kromski Harp

There's so much to catch up on. Such as: I traded in my drum carder for a 32" rigid heddle loom. Below is my first project. The warp (long-wise) is Fannie's farmhouse sock yarn, the weft (short-wise) is Madelintosh Merino Lite. I love it. Consistent with almost all the other beginning weavers I've talked with, it took me most of the entire project to get the hang of the right-hand selvedge (edge). For some reason, I didn't have any problems with the left selvedge.

I have done a second project which I cannot discuss because it's a gift.

The third project is either a set of three towels in cotton-linen blend, for which I have fashioned a tartan pattern of black, gold, red, and yellow (which I have started to warp), or I'll do an "art" scarf with miscellaneous fibers, commercial and hand-spun. So many ideas!  So much stash to play with!

I did all this in Numbers on iPad. Neat, eh?

Just because I started warping the towels doesn't mean I need to start weaving them right away. I'm warping and chaining them (mostly) one color section at a time. As I'm warping though, I realized that the edges need something before the pattern repeat begins. The pattern begins and ends with the red, but I originally wanted it to begin and end with the black, so we'll see how this turns out. Yes, I know that's obvious when you look at the picture. It just wasn't obvious to me.

Update: I finished "sleying the reed" and my calculations were off...not way way off, but off enough that I have to adjust the finished width of my towels, and add a few more ends of black on one side. It'll be asymmetrical. Sure. That's planned.  I had to order another set of the same red, yellow, and orange to make sure I still had enough for the doubled weft.

In other projects, I'm working on a ring for a lovely faceted orange Mexican Fire Opal. I finished the shoulder bezel and, having sworn never to fit a bezel to the band again, I created a design where I have to shape the bezel to the band (which I finished since I wrote this two weeks ago, picture to come).

I figured out how I wanted to hang the big green pendant: on a combination of solid curved wire (a half choker) and chain, possibly with some beads in split complimentary colors - in this case, yellow-ey and red-violet. Or whatever I happen to have on hand :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Tool Chest

I've been looking for just the right piece of furniture to hold all my variously weighted metalworking tools and I keep coming up empty handed. Sometimes there is a perfect one that is too expensive, sometimes there is one that is would be perfect if I just cut the legs off and stacked it with other similar pieces. 

The latter is a solution I started to pursue a week ago when DH says, as we are reading the morning papers, "Why don't you just get one of those craftsmen-style tool chests?"

Oh. Duh. If it was a snake...Ever have one of those moments where your own stupidity dazzles even yourself? 

I sat there for, oh, five minutes (a) wondering how I how in hell missed something so spectacularly obvious and (b) what my price point would be when I browsed the tool category on Craig's List.

And, voila! There's even a place to hang my green girl-y apron. And no, I don't really mind that it doesn't match the rest of the Ikea decor :) The top drawer (not open because the combined weight of open drawers threatened to tip it ass over tea-kettle) contains works in progress and found objects for future pieces.

Craig's List is wonderful.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What was lost...ain't lost no more...and other stuff

Is it the most important part of my life? No. My family gets the honor of being most important. But let's face it: my technology is such an integral part of how I communicate and interact with family and friends and the rest of the world. USAir called a little over a week after we returned and said "we have your iPad!" It arrived home three days later and was promptly snuggled up on the Dexter wrap, having it's battery charged. I like my new laptop, too, but I have to get accustomed to the keyboard which is considerably different from my previous one.

 ...basically, it's getting an energy massage. 

I included some of my latest yarn and little chachki's from our recent trip to Seattle. The yarn is three of eight skeins purchased at Linda's Knit 'n Stitch. As a newly minted weaver, I thought that these three ribbon yarn colors would look really neat in a woven object. Another skein is black alpaca for the sock yarn blankie, and four skeins of Araucania Ruca Multi, which I've started working with and AM NOT liking. More on that later.

The chachki's are Seattle icons: the Space Needle and a Washington State Ferry (on the far right). I already had the smallest on the far left from a previous trip. Seattle isn't really my hometown: I grew up across the water, a mere ferry ride away. But having lived in Seattle for many years, and spent many years traveling to and fro for work, pleasure, and education, I feel like it is. I love the city. I wish we could afford to live downtown in one of those awesome highrise buildings with the dog park on top of the building. We fantasized about that during the entire three weeks out there. And about living in my parents house because my mom has the most beautiful back yard. We had fresh, warm, just-plucked-off-the-plant every other day - walk out to the patio and there they are. Mom pinched off fresh mint to brew with the iced tea. Don't worry, Mom, I promise it won't really happen! But we've never made any secret of the fact that we really do want to move back to the west coast. It's easy to consider Seattle when the weather is gorgeous, like it was on this trip. It's much harder to consider it when the gray rainy days roll around.

Under the circumstances, it was really a lovely trip. Mom and Michael are wonderful and funny and generous and caring. Uncle Stan was, well, himself. We kind of had fun going through grandma's clothing and jewelry "omg, what the heck is that?!" "she wore this? Ewww." The women's shelters received a clothing bounty and the breast cancer society got a ferry boat load of wigs.

Mom has written volumes (almost volumes) about the odyssey of resolving Gramma's possessions, and I'm content to let her have that voice. I'm happy I was able to help because it also meant we spent a great deal of time together, just us. It's so easy to take for granted that my mother is a lovely woman.

More photos from the trip...

We love Angry Birds.
Mom is the one who got me playing this game. I returned the favor with an Angry Birds squeeze toy. We squeezed it every time we walked by, and the nieces loved it.

Michael is really, really good. What a treat to listen to him play.

Beneroya Hall, another reason to love Seattle. Husband included for scale.

Electronic Delays
 (this doesn't make any sense unless you know that my family name is Delay)

Okay, yes there is more to Kingston than this clock, but there was just something about it that struck my fancy.

July 4th
Crock-pot baked beans, hot dogs, potato salad, beer, strawberry shortcake. Best July 4th ever.

Gig Harbor
Gig Harbor is a very touristy sort of place, but the views are spectacular, and the air is clean, and the restaurant was terrific.

Left to Right: Chris, Zuzu, Mom, Ali, Me, enjoying one of Poulsbo's finest: goodies from Sluy's bakery. They still have the best ever maple bars, no one else's comes close.For me, maple bars and Sluy's are to Poulsbo what Krispy Kreme is to the South, but without the "Hot Now" signage.

Yoga in the back yard.
One must stay in shape, mustn't one? And when the weather is as beautiful as it was, you just have to do outdoor yoga.

Mt. Rainier
We watched Rainier be gorgeous during nearly the entire return trip to Sea-Tac Airport.


Monday, May 30, 2011

For Gramma, From Scotland with Love

 Gramma thought George was so nice. He was. Unfortunately, his Scottish brogue was strong at times. From the back seat I heard a great deal of "what did he say?" from her. Mom did most of the translating.

 Okay, yes, she HATED the walker but she dolled herself up just the same. You just never knew who you would meet!

 One of the drizzely hours. Our energy was on the wane. By now she'd mostly ditched the walker for a wonderfully carved cane that we found on Skye.

One of my favorite pictures.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

1 Fleece, 1 Tub

May 19th
Today I saw some little bugs flying around my office. Since I don't keep food up there, I figured it MIGHT be the fleece I purchase at MDSW (Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival) last year. Laaaaast year. You who have purchased fleeces know what I'm talking about. 

Ooh, I thought to myself, this needs to be washed RIGHT NOW. And if the stars hadn't been aligned just right - like tomorrow is a day off and I am feeling particularly motivated because today is my Friday, the Dawn soap and long yellow gloves were handy - then I'm not sure I'd have done it. But I did. 

Guerrilla fleece washing. Wham. Done.

Step 1: Wash. Eeeeeeuuuuuuu gross!

Step 2 & 3: Rinse. Not quite as gross, and the second rinse, which I didn't capture, was even less gross.

Step 3: Dry, turn, dry, turn, dry, turn.

So I only rinsed it twice, and it's still a teensy bit dirty, but the remainder will come out when I wash the spun fluff. Spinned fluff? Fill tub with Dawn detergent and the hottest water possible. Carefully dump fleece into tub, gently smoosh it into the water to make sure it's all submerged, leave it alone for 20 minutes, drain, repeat without the dawn. Do it again. Dump it unceremoniously onto the drying rack and in three days time there's sure to be a prince. Ahem. I mean a dry fleece.
May 29th
After turning it over and inside out and over and inside out again, the fleece is dry and clean enough to comb and card. It didn't really take ten days to dry, but it took ten days for it to dry and for me to get my act together. DH has complained that every time he stands at the mirror he keeps getting a glimpse of Chewbacca behind him and he's very pleased that the hairy mound will be moving.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Flute Choir at the Flute Faire

The Hampton Roads Flute Choir played at the Hampton Roads Flute Faire at ODU on April 16. The two pieces in the video are "Zefiro delicato" by Gary Shocker followed by Georges Bizet's "Gypsy Song" from Carmen, directed by Dr. Lori Shipley. We're played in Diehn Hall which has a nice, intimate performance space.

One of the significant others shot this nice little video, and posted to You Tube for us. No tripods were harmed in the making of this movie. Take your Dramamine.

I'm on the far (audience) right (or stage left, if you prefer), long wavy hair, playing alto flute, my "bent flute." I look very fat but it's just the big boobs. Honest.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

O Kitchen! My Kitchen!

Kitchen! My Kitchen! our remodeling trip is (not quite) done;
The room has weather’d every track, the range we sought is won;
The end is near, the barks I hear, the doggies all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady gas contractor, the hood large and shining:
    But O oven! oven! oven!      
    O the crappy thermostat of dread,
    Where on the curb my old range lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.

...with apologies to Mom, Jane, Whitman, and Lincoln.

 Like my pano pic? Notice the letters, corresponding with the narrative below...

A. These windows were longer and, in true Me & DH style, we had them shortened when we had all the windows replaced. The sill once hit below the counter-top, now we can run counter along that wall. Of course, we knew then it would be some time before new counters would be installed to cover up the, ahem, mess. Actually, we did think the window dudes would do the finish work too. Oh well. Does anyone remember when we replaced a landing window in our other house and, in between the time the old window was removed and the new window installed, we shoved the queen-size box-spring through it and up to the 2nd floor? Yes we did.

B. There was a door and we moved it to the left when we rebuilt the two-story deck on the back of the house. So, that's all unpainted plaster. Again, not wanting to do things twice, we are waiting until final cabinets are in place before we paint over the whole thing. And we haven't been able to match the yellow yet. 

C. Ah, Letter C. Today's work, April and May's work: installing the gas range. We love cooking with gas and it seems every house we move into has a non-gas range. We hate operating an oven that runs 100 degrees hot. It's not easy cook "low and slow" in those conditions. We replaced the range in our last house and then sold. This time we're replacing the range and NOT selling. Ha! It's been a little more complicated, though, because we've had to open a work order with the gas company to flag the meter location, have a plumber come in to lay the inside piping, gas co. dig up the curb and run gas and install the meter, have the plumber come back out to finish the work and actually install the range and the hood...The thing you can't see in the photo is that the old range hood had this weird complicated commercial extinguishing system that scared the crap out of us and requires some specialty work to disconnect. 

D. We haven't gotten to D yet, but that involves relocating sink, dishwasher, and related plumbing to below the left window, relocating the fridge and it's ice-machine plumbing, and relocating the porch light switch. Sometime this summer maybe. Or in the fall. We still have flute convention to get to.

E. Not in the photo: new cabinets which the DH is crazy enough to build himself. He has my full support. Personally, I think it's just an excuse to buy new man tools. That's what a woman would do, right? "Oh, I'm SAVING money by buying this table saw." We know that trick.

That's just life in a 100-year-old house.

I'll never, ever do it again. If I do, shoot me.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Catching up with Garrr

From the Seawall Art Festival, August 2010. We had an afternoon gig, thankfully under a tent near the beautiful Elizabeth River. Water, water everywhere. Today I needed a smile, and I got it from Garrr, made with care by Jen, and I decided to trot out his picture.

Another Jen, entirely unrelated to the MisfitMoppets Jen, posted an amazing resource on her blog. The resource: Play With A Pro. Filmed masterclasses with renowned musicians. I noted clarinet, trumpet, baritone, oboe, and flute represented. The one I downloaded is Emmanuel Pahud (flute, duh). He's not hard on the eyes, for sure. But more than that he's a brilliant flutist. I learn something new every time I attend a masterclass, and this is no exception. I guess "attending" in this sense is a little different because it's a downloadable, high definition video, and it doesn't cost any more than what I'd pay to attend his masterclass in person, probably way less. Since he won't be teaching in my area any time soon, this is a total bargain...although he might be at the Charlotte convention. I'll be star struck. 

VNG (our gas company) arrived around 2pm Friday and started digging up the grassy-strip-between-the-sidewalk-and-the-road (cannot remember what the hell that's called) in order to drill the path for the gas line. They were here for over three hours, installed the pipes and the meter, finished, cleaned up nicely and even put down some replacement grass seed where they dug. I thought they'd schedule it with us, but it guess it wasn't really necessary. They didn't need me at all. So, come Monday, I'll call Synergy to finish the plumbing and then we'll be...wait for it...cookin' with gas! Ha, you knew I'd go there.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Scorecard Purgatory & Other Miscellany

Back in March I wrote (but forgot to finish/post):
I've been upgraded from eternal damnation to mere endless suffering. Once upon a time only one day a week was devoted to dealing with The Scorecard. Now it's two and a half days a week plus the odd 2:00 AM call with developers whose time zone is 10 hours ahead of Eastern daylight.

That was my month of March.

So, in the background Roxio is installing...and for the love of Pete it takes forever! Sheeeeeit. Oh. Because I upgraded to Windows 7 in January and am loading software as I require it. Photoshop was required soonest :) Roxio is required now because I don't like using Windows Media Player for DVDs (it's a Microsoft thing) and I can't put a DVD into my iPad. I bet there's a solution for that.

We're in green smoothie heaven. I know this probably doesn't sound wonderful, but 4 cups of spinach, 1 1/2 cups of strawberries and 1 banana in a high speed blender make 2 quarts of awesomeness. Less sodium than V8. Drink your veggies, people! Oh, I'm not doing the whole "green smoothie revolution" or raw diet thing. I just know I needed more veg in my diet.
As it turns out, that was my April, too. Now it's May, and for two months I've been dashing off posts in my head that never make it to the keyboard. I suppose everyone needs  break now and then. My break is over. I'm renaming the blog, and soon I'll move it to a new address. DH and I were joking around about flutes, and he commented about my playing a bent flute (my alto flute with the curved headjoint). I liked it, so I'm using it. As always, he's The Namer. It's perfect on so many different levels!

I'm still drinking my veggies. I started doing that shortly after I started taking synthetic thyroid hormone, so I don't know if the change in my energy is because of the have a functioning thyroid, the green drink, or both. I don't care enough to mess with it - I just know that 24 ounces of green smoothie first thing in the morning and another 16 ounces or so in the afternoon and I have all the energy I need, no more crashing fatigue that requires two hours of sleep (unless I really haven't gotten enough sleep the night before, ha ha!) Better focus, too, but that's almost entirely due to the thyroid stuff. DH has discovered that this green drink thing is pretty awesome, too. He loves it after yoga. We are purchasing huge amounts of kale and spinach. It's amazing how fast you can go through the greens when you're smooshing a tightly packed four cups (or more) into a blender. Usually we're mixing kale and spinach about 50-50, then either a cereal bowl's worth of frozen strawberries and one banana, or two mangoes and one banana. Thank goodness for Costco's bulk packages. These two seem to be our favorite combinations. Blueberry plus banana is yummy, too. DH did one with avocado but I wasn't that keen, but he also used the "artisan" greens instead of spinach, and I do not like those "artisan" greens.  Blech. As good as the blender is, it still has a hard time with raspberry seeds so we don't bother. 

What doesn't really work? Besides the artisan greens: grapes. Maybe a sweet red grape would be better than the green ones. Romaine, surprisingly. Romaine is my favorite in salads, but for me the taste doesn't really translate in the smoothie realm. There are LOTS of recipes out there on the internet and clearly we've only dipped our toes into that water.

Other things we are doing with our super-duper blender: hummus! Chickpeas, garlic, sesame seeds, olive oil. OMG so tasty with those "Food Should Taste Good" multigrain chips (again from Costco). Tortilla chips too, the thick ones. It's my new go-to comfort food. We're whizzing the tomato soup in the blender. We'll be doing margaritas this summer. We've done an applesauce, with pears, very tasty. Watch out for pears in this type of concentration: can produce gas.

And that's the news that's fit to print.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Proof: Recalcitrant Sun Dog

Tasha, not interested in leaving her spot in the sun. Not interested at all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

BE the garden

"Most people, early in November, take last looks at their gardens, and are then prepared to ignore them until the spring.  I am quite sure that a garden doesn't like to be ignored like this.  It doesn't like to be covered in dust sheets, as though it were an old room which you had shut up during the winter.  Especially since a garden knows how gay and delightful it can be, even in the very frozen heart of the winter, if you only give it a chance."
-   Beverley Nichols

How I try to cultivate winter gaiety in myself, I'm giving it a chance, but I loooooooong for spring.  February will tease us with warm weather - summer in the sun, winter in the shade, as Dickens says (although he was referring to March) - and follow promptly with a dastardly spell of something rainy and cold. 


The sky is blue. Light beams into the yard and the dogs covet each patch of sunshine and give me looks of reluctance when I invite them back into the house. I feel the same way.

Each season has it's joy and beauty. I've had enough of Winter's joy and beauty. Give me Spring.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Stranger

Sometimes other people have the right words. The Stranger, from The Big Lebowski, said it (and the Cohen brothers wrote it) perfectly:

Sometimes you eat the bar,
and sometimes, well, he eats you.
Today the scorecard ate me.

Image shamelessly scavenged from http://www.asylum.co.uk/2010/10/13/police-miss-murder-as-undertaker-finds-knife-in-dead-mans-back/

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A Chicken in Every Pot

Herbert Hoover: A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.

Erin: A spinner in every home, a spindle in every room.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Flute and Spindle

Wouldn't that title be a nice name for a blog? I'm thinking of changing mine. Although, it also sounds a great deal like a 17th century pub. My life is mostly about family, fluting, spinning, knitting, and other crafty things, with occasional forays into other enterprises. Besides, I'm seeing "postcards from..." something more and more and I hate being just like everyone else. It's time for a change.

I referred to my spinning resolution a couple entries ago. Oops. No, I didn't. Jeez, I'm really certain I did. Think of this as a teaser (or a reminder). Here's the fiber I'm working with. Ain't it pretty? Ashland Bay Merino/Silk, color "Damson."

That's the spindle part of the story.

Here's the flute part (ha ha). More specifically, the alto flute part (ha ha ha ha, doesn't get old).

My DH, my darling DH, gave to me a curved alto flute headjoint as an anniversary gift. Whadda guy! He really knows how to make a girl smile. I smiled a great deal. There was just one tiny little problem...the manufacturer didn't ship the headjoint in a case...just marvelously bubble-wrapped.

Before I go on, there's a story behind this. There's always a story, right? I've owned an alto flute for about 20 years, also given to me as a gift by DH: a beautiful solid silver Gemeinhardt 10AS with lovely tone and a straight head. 20 years ago no one was making curved headjoints. I don't think they were anyway, and I probably would never have thought of it. Okay, it's not the top of the line but it sounds nice and that's what counts. I played it off and on over the years, and I really love playing it, but sad that my wrist hurt so much when I played because the darn this is so long. A different set of body mechanics needs to be employed when you play an alto, and I have never managed to get it so my wrist wasn't cocked at a gross angle. Combine that with very short arms...you see my issue.

I saw a curved headjoint for the first time when I joined the Hampton Roads Flute Choir a few years back. I got excited. I started researching. Most recently I was working with Flute World to check tenon joint diameters and lengths and inner diameters and outer diameters and so forth, I knew I'd have to start saving my dimes and nickels and twenties for a Pearl headjoint. It is the one that fit the best, according to Flute World. I had no idea what it would do to the tuning, but Gemeinhardt wasn't making a curved headjoint for purchase separately at the time I made that decision.

Fast forward. Gemeinhardt started making a curved headjoint not too long ago...like a few months ago...I think mine might be one of the first ones off the line. Back to the one tiny little problem...how to transport? We started looking at alto flute cases. Sticker shock. Holy cow! What the cuss! These things cost more than the headjoint. Jeez.

That was a couple of month ago. Last week I got an alert from UsedFlutes.com. I set up an alert on alto flutes over a year ago. Last week's alert was for an alto flute case accommodating a straight AND curved headjoint. What luck! I got it, knowing I'd have to do some modifications. That's okay. I have the tools and it doesn't involve soldering. Not that that's a show stopper...it's just extra work.

The first piece is removed. No turning back!
The case is in terrific condition. I almost felt bad cutting into it. But cut, I did, and more and more. The body and the headjoint are the only sections that require modification. the foot and straight headjoint fit perfectly.
I like how I can use my own tools.  Headjoint is sitting in the
lid of the case. I'm using the flex shaft to carve out a wider
and slightly deeper curve to accept the crown of the
There was padding beneath the crook of the neck that
I had to remove and lower. I am also adding a velvet
covered shim beneath the crown end of the head for
balance. This allows the case to close securely without
over enthusiastically squishing it.
I need to carve 1.9mm into the side of the case. This
happens to be the kerf left by a heavy duty cut-off wheel.
This cut  is to make room for the body of the flute and
accommodate a single layer of velvet.

That's where I've left off as of last night and I have made good progress. I don't have enough leftover velvet to cover some of the exposed wood support parts so I'm making a trip to the fabric store today. Every part should be covered with some kind of protection so it doesn't damage the finish or the mechanism of the flute. Velvet is the most common, but I'm sure there are other fabrics that would do just as well. Shims can be made out of just about anything that provides slight shock absorption. Rubber, plastic, folded cloth, felt...I have some felted wool test pieces that will make a great shim beneath the headjoint. It really just needs to be stable.

I'm winging this entire enterprise based on reasonably good mechanical assembly skills. I bet Barbara and Fred never thought I'd put their silversmithing training to use like this, but it also wouldn't surprise them. I'm not a woodworker, though, so I get a teeny bit intimidated by working with wood. I know how silver and copper behave. Not so much about the wood.

And for anyone who wants to try this themselves: your mileage may vary. You have to be willing to take a loss on the case if it doesn't work.

I will rip everything out and start from scratch if things really go south. So far, all is well.

Cya anon,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Warm and Almost Clean

The heat pump is cured! Not before it got down to 42 degrees in the house on a couple of the coldest days this month. I praise multi-zone heating systems.

The fan fell off it's peg inside the heat pump. Really. One bolt. I mean, really.

"My computer won't turn on."
"Okay, ma'am, is your computer plugged in?"
"Is that the black snake with the prongs? It's just laying there on the floor. I smacked it with a hammer a few days ago. I think it's dead."

Humiliation is free. Heating technician labor is not free.

In other breaking news, the dryer works. Two years ago, and I really thought I'd blogged about this, we had a spectacular nor'easter which made the water table rise which flooded our basement a foot or two b and prevented it from draining for about a month. Hard to gauge how much water there was, but all of us up and down the street had our sump pumps going 24x7 for several weeks. After all the excitement we were able to determine that the washer and dryer, only a couple of years old, were goners. Whirlpool came out and said, sorry, it's flood damage and even though you're under warranty, you'll have to go through FEMA. Riiiiiiiight.

For the past two years we've been schlepping to the laundromat with clothing, soap, and entertainment gear in hand. Did you know they use re-loadable swipe cards now? Instead of cash? Meanwhile, I didn't know DH was checking to see if either of the appliances had come back from the dead, but a few weeks ago he sprung this info on me, that being the aforementioned dryer.

Me: happy dance.

It appears that by this weekend we'll also have lucked into a washing machine.

Me: happy dance, including a few tap moves.

I'm sure it's a basic run-of-the-mill washing machine but that's more than acceptable as long as it resides in my house and sitting atop two courses of cement blocks.

Right, then, on to other life tasks. Like taxes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Sunday Morning Looks Like

Whilst I browse my favorite department store, Amazon.com. I didn't buy anything. This time.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


The cussing heat pump is rattling like a jar of pennies and we think a bearing is on it's way to the big HVAC in the sky, so we've turned that heat pump off. Good news: two zones! so the second floor is comfortable. Bad news: it's about 50 degrees down on the first floor. Maybe colder. Really chilly down there. Instead of catching up on our Tivo recordings (downstairs) we're hanging out in my lair (upstairs).

Help me name my office/craft room/place where I spend 8+ hours of my day Monday thru Friday. I telecommute from this room. My knitting stash is here. My spinning stash is here. Sometimes my spinning wheel is here, too, but lately it's been in the dining room. My silversmithing equipment is here. My sewing equipment is here. My flutes and music are here. My ginormous Ikea Galant desk is here. And right now I am here. It's a good big room. It has no name. Calling it "my office" sounds a little pretentious. "My room" sounds presumptuous, although it is my room and DH has his room/office/playroom wherein resides his computer(s), misc electronics, big honkin' man desk, theatrical paraphernalia, and Yamaha keyboard.

I also need a name for my spinning wheel. I've been referring to it as Betty but that just doesn't have the right ring. Also, I would like to tattoo the wheel. Or, paint tattoo-type images of Koi and Japanese waves and things.

I don't know why I like this so much: So Now You Know: World's Heaviest Snow Plow, but this blogger shared an amusing caption written for an old wood block print: Cupcakes?

I upgraded my laptop to Windows 7 last week. As if I didn't already have enough on my plate what with trying to launch that darned scorecard I mentioned in the last post I wrote in 2010, oh back in August. Yes, since that time I've been pushing developers, negotiating with stakeholders, and writing project documentation all in a race to launch a new online executive scorecard before the end of the calendar year. We would have made it, too, if one of the developers hadn't (a) resigned and (b) failed to actually complete (like he said he did) some key components of said scorecard prior to leaving. He was supposed to leave at the end of December and decided to leave ten days early. What a smeg head. I worked over my Christmas vacation on this. My manager worked over her Christmas vacation on this. We discovered last week that even if the defects we found had been resolved by 12/31, we never would have been able to launch it because, lo and behold, our erstwhile developer did not build the space on the production web server and the new owner of the web server says "oh no, server not stable, can't use it, go elsewhere." No amount of escalation was able to break through that barrier. We have a solution, we repoint the URL to a different web server (found one, owner says "sure, come on in, mi casa su casa," then build the new space, load the code, and test. It was an eventful week.

But you know what? It's friggin' done. The code is complete, all the functions work, the interface is as clean as my stakeholders have allowed (we disagree about flashy thingies) and I'm getting ready for a JAD session to design requirements for the next release. I gave life to this monster but did I mention I have to feed and water it? And, I expect that sometimes it will poop on the floor and I'll most certainly step in it. This has been an enormously valuable learning experience. I've learned that it's okay to break an egg as long as you say "yep, my egg. Does anyone have a towel?"

I wonder how many other metaphors I can mix and destroy tonight. DH will be counting.

I need to upload pictures but there are obstacles. Windows 7 upgrade. Right. Photoshop isn't loaded, but I'll probably do that tonight before bed. MyPad won't sync with iTunes on the laptop. It wasn't syncing before the upgrade so not a step backward. I have an assortment of lovely photos on the iPad from Christmas and, lamer that I am, might have to...I don't know...upload them to a cloud and then download them back again. Google Docs might be the ticket and I haven't tried that yet.

Cya anon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year, New Blog Goal

That being "do more blogging." We'll see how that works out. I sure do like the idea of doing this while sitting in bed, though, and it might be the perfect incentive.

Christmas at Mom's in Silverdale was relaxing and lazy and full of good cheer. We walked through their neighborhood of Klahowya, visited one of the best yarn stores I've ever seen (Linda's Knit n' Stitch has a WALL of Koigu, dude), spent some time with my grandma and Uncle Stan, we ate Ivar's at the airport before we bothered to pick up our luggage, and didn't go to Seattle at all. We did some shopping, naturally. One must aquire accessories for one's new toys. Best Buy was conveniently located across the parking lot from Costco. The Silverdale Costco positively dwarfs ours here in Norfolk. You could put two of our Costco's inside theirs.

Note to Mom: My Costco has that yummy sheep's cheese and hopefully not just for the season.

Our plan this year is to really get moving on our kitchen remodel, but we'll be doing it in stages. We agreed to sacrifice some important events this year to make this all happen. This weekend we'll be scouting ranges, and two base cabinets. We badly need a new range, and the base cabinets allow us to make the first major modification: moving the sink from the peninsula to the wall and getting rid of the butt-ugly peninsula. Did I say butt-ugly? What I really mean is grossly, sadly, spectacularly butt-ugly. Hyperbole: not a thing of the past.

So unless I get a really spectacular bonus (I did well but not five-figures-well), and no more horrible automotive issues, I won't be getting a second spinning wheel this year, I will only be going to a little fiber festival locally, and am scaling back my fiber purchases this year. It's not a fiber diet, just a tightening the belt thing. DH is giving up a couple of conferences, although we might still be able to do the yoga teacher training.

Meanwhile, I've been configuring the heck outa my new iPad. I love these apps right now:
  • Flickpad because I can see all photos my friends have posted this by the week to Flickr and Facebook.
  • Flipboard because I can do basically the same thing with this and the blogs I follow as I do with Flickpad. Flipbook formats it all into a magazine-like format, which is very lovely. If only I could drop Flickpad into Flipboard...
  • Angry Birds. What's not to like? It's so fun!

And I'm going to stop right there and post the damn thing! And by the way, typing on the iPad isn't nearly the headache I thought it would be. It works just fine, thanks.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad