Sunday, October 29, 2006

Busy busy

Head colds, general activities, some knitting -- I'm past the frogged yarn on that lace, and back into the ball . . . that about sums up my week or so.

I got all into the beehive yesterday in what I hope wasn't the last gasp of warm weather. No matter how many times I do this, I'm still delighted by it. Maybe it was all those filmstrips droning on in warm classrooms, or nature specials on television, but it sends me. With the help of my spouse, I got the heavy top box off of the hive, and went through the bottom, where the colony "lives." I saw the drone brood, with its convex caps that look like bullets, watched two different forage dances, saw the worker brood, capped and uncapped, probably saw the queen (and greeted her appropriately), and treated for mites with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Since the top box was too heavy for me to lift alone, I pulled out three frames of capped honey, lifted it back up without that load, and replaced one frame. I then harvested the other two -- my inspection led me to believe that they had enough pollen and honey to get through to February, when the big eucalyptus bloom hits in this area.

As in so many areas, practice improves my skills. I draped kitchen towels over the hives, only revealing the frame I was examining, and that kept them calmer than in previous inspections. I still make plenty of mistakes, but I'm learning.

I learned enough doing mine to adjust the pattern to make another pair of mittlets for Thing 1 (hers are Plymouth Encore, so they can be machine washed). I think they go nicely with her newly-pierced ears, don't you?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Unexpected goodness

This morning, all of my Things went for a walk around the block, so I got a shower! Whoopie! Then, they happily played outside for a while. I used the absence of a small person clinging to my leg to clean up the house and make lunch for our homeschooling park day.

There was still time left over, so I tried my Amazing Powers of Recipe Creation and made these, right out of my head.

Deep Chocolate Wonder Cookies with Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. I wonder what it says about my cooking habits that I can make a passible cookie with very little thought?

Anyhow, if you want to do this too? Just cream 1/2 cup of butter with 1 cup of sugar, and then add 2 eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla. When it's all nice, add 1 cup of cocoa, 1 cup of flour, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda. When everything is mixed, stir in some peanut butter cups.

Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes. Eat. All measurements are pretty much the palm of my hand or by eye, so your mileage may vary.

Plus, I frogged and reknit the larger mittlet, so they match and are lovely. Unfortunately, I had already mailed my scarf package. And, when I pulled the needles out of that cotton lace? It's so definitely wide enough that I just ripped out the bad rows and think I'll get moving on it tonight. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Look what I got!

I got to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium today with six children and my sister! Much hoo-ha ensued. I'm never going to take a walking toddler out in public like this without another adult who is not responsible for her own children (although my sister, "AnNees" to the toddler), is a true help with her. I just would have enjoyed another pair of free hands.

Nevertheless, the Ocean Sunfish had us cracking up. Fun fact? Beginning as larva one-tenth of an inch long, sunfish increase their weight 60 million times. This is one silly-looking fish. Then there were sea otters -- cutest faces in the Pacific -- and jellyfish, and that Great White Shark who cruises around and around and around, and the kids got wet touching rays and decorator crabs ("What you need in this grotto, darling, is more kelp! Maybe that frilly-edged kind. And while you're at it, maybe drape some fishnet around for an edgy detail. Got any anemone friends you could talk into moving in?" Heeeee.) and my favorite animal maybe, the Brown Pelican. They aren't in the aquarium, they're outside gliding around. I want to fly like them just once. Or maybe be one. I don't think they can knit, though, although there's room in that pouch for a whole lot of yarn.

After I got a rare cup of coffee-with-caffeine and the children played at the edge of the bay,it really was time to end this adventure. I didn't even look for a yarn store as our day wound down, though, which I take as evidence of my being completely overwhelmed by that point growing maturity and consumerist self-control. Plus, the baby was tired and we had a long way to go. And I'm not yet a brown pelican.
Me. See? No pelican here.

After driving in excessively heavy traffic both ways -- man, am I glad that commuting isn't any part of my life and yes, I know how lucky I am -- I got home to this:

Aha! My scarf exchange pal is more onthe ball than I am, and when I opened it I saw just how much more! Her very first lace project is in here. Say it with me. This woman sent me her Very. First. Lace. Project. I don't know about you all, but my first [successful] lace project isn't going off to someone I don't know. It's going to my mother, if I get it done. That way, I sort of get to keep it, you know, because it's my mother. Okay, no points for blathering about how fundamentally selfish I am. Maybe it's just because I'm not very lace-intuitive or something.

This scarf is made of Kaalund Yarns' "Classic Two," and it's made in a lace pattern called Fishtail. How appropriate is it that it came today? (Except the sunfish really hasn't much of a tail. Maybe this can make up for it?) The colorway, "wine," has all of Northern California's redwood country in it. Burgundy, like the redwoods, and a deep green, and a winey color I've seen on some suspicious-looking fungus. Anyhow, it's gorgeous.

And the other treats in the box -- a tossed-off facecloth. "Oh, it's only entrelac," I can hear her saying. Yeah, right. And it's only the first lace thing you've ever made, blah blah blah. Wrapped in that little trinket? Lavender soap. Nice lavender soap. And some lip balm -- locally made. Her local, that is. Sesame candy. Some locally made knit-related cards (whoopie! I can impose my passion on people from afar!), and a beautiful moon shaped Moon Valle Bees and Botanicals -- boy, did Stephanie nail me and my passions -- bar of lotion. My sad little cuticles and dry knuckles are, I think, purring.

So hey, Stephanie! Hi!!! Tell your friends I love it. Tell them to read my blog and leave lots of comments! Hi there, Stephanie's friends! Just another nut out here in knitblogland. . .


I finished these last night. If they didn't have the obligatory mistakes that I have to frog and redo so they match, I'd send them to my scarf pal. As it is, she's going to get something else to go with that scarf. I know what I'm going to do tomorrow.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Drat Beatrix Potter, Anyhow

The dead mouse count in the kitchen is now four, and we're wondering how many more there are. Cooler weather plus a house with walls that resemble swiss cheese equals rodent incursions. Sigh.

In happier news, the ISE3 scarf is finished and tasselled. I'm glad I went ahead with them, because it looks nice and finished now. Blocking helped counteract the big roll tendency, but it's not perfect. The tassels eat yarn, though. This picture is the "almost there!" shot.

Cable closeup:

I was also gifted with two lovely skeins of linen. I can't tell you enough how pretty they are. There's a little sheen on the yarn. Someday I'll make a beautiful complicated lace something. Not any time soon, though.

Speaking of lace? This

is going to be ripped out today, when I can clear an area on the table and lay it all out. Not only can't I fix the mistake I made in it, I decided that I really want it a few repeats wider. As I recall, it was fun while I was knitting it, so I should be able to redo this. Probably not by Christmas, though. Thank goodness for honey.

Saturday, October 7, 2006


Miracles, minor or major, are all over.

It was warm and sunny today, after a few days of rain and chill -- reminders that our winter is on its way, and there will be lots of rain. But today was a grace note, and it was nice outside.

My kids had flashes of lovely graciousness towards one another.

We now have doors that shut off the living room from the dining room. Well, we've always had doors,
but now we have doors that close.

I wonder how many years it has been since that view was available from this seat (where I have my knitting place). We did discover that children have been children for many many years -- this house is at least 110 years old -- because there was an old wooden top behind a door. In order to get this top behind a door, a child would have had to probably to fling the top up and over an open door, into the track space above. Needless to say, this has never ever been how you are really supposed to play with tops. Closed doors will be a great benefit when it does get chilly, as we can heat one room and huddle there together.

Thing 4 said "angry bees" today.

She said this while I was harvesting approximately 20 pounds of honey from the hive. Added to the nine or ten pounds I've already pulled out, it's a nice harvest for a first hive.

And it will be miraculous if I finish the cabled scarf in two weeks.


Monday, October 2, 2006

It's good to be home

Just had a wonderful, wonderful camping trip with my homeschooling group at Portola Redwoods State Park. Now that the kids are growing older, we had drama, angst, love, danger -- and not all among the teenagers! For the first time on a camping trip that I can remember, I got to go on a hike. Be very clear, however, I didn't get to go on the planned hike. On that one, Thing 4 dropped off to sleep on the first hill, and I decided not to haul sleeping baby around.

By the time it became clear that she wasn't going to stay asleep if I tried to set her down, the hike had gone on without us. So we followed at a distance. And saw things! A banana slug, a newt, some unidentified (but interesting) scat, a dead mole. . . leaves of Big-leaf Maple . . . redwoods galore. It was awesome, in the nicest possible way.

The children loved the creek, and spent a lot of time getting wet despite the chilly weather. Bug kudos go to my sister and brother in law for supervising my middles so I could watch the little one. They do such a good job of taking care while letting them play, and I usually have no complaints at all.

That said, I did have a minor bone to pick with them when I came back from something (the hike, maybe?) and put down a sleeping baby so I could knit a little bit. I pulled open my bag and found this:

Two library books, some killer hand lotion from my friend, a skein of KnitPicks Merino Style, and a deceased crawfish/crayfish/crawdad. However you name it, it's nasty to find. This was a nice, freshly dead one, and didn't smell or anything.

With my sister's help, I found the culprit and had her carry it back to the stream so the omnipresent omnivores, the raccoons, could eat it there. I didn't think I needed to brown-bag for them. As long as Thing 2 is around, nature comes to me!

I even got to knit a tiny bit. So although I'm not as far along as I'd like to be on the ISP3 scarf, I'm hopeful that I will be done in two weeks, which is my self-imposed deadline. I decided not to get the lifesized banana slug refrigerator magnet to include with it. I think they're an acquired taste, so to speak.

Oh, and today, I made the cutest pair of sweater-arm pants for Thing 4. My sewing machine parts came while we were gone, and it works again! Not enough time for all I want to accomplish, that's for certain.