Wednesday, February 27, 2008

O is for Oil

For those of you here for cuteness:

This is D2. He often stands like this and leans his body on the couch. Doesn't look even remotely comfortable but it's his favorite position for watching TV. He was sick last week (he's fine now) and actually fell asleep like this!

For those of you here for yarn:

Yarn Hollow - Artichoke color - Merino/Bamboo/Nylon sock yarn

and this:

It's from Yarn 4 Socks and it's the first installment of the yarn club I'm in there. I know, I said I wasn't going to do clubs again but I also said I was going stash diving only this year. HA! Fooled ya! (Fooled me too. sigh.)

Those here for Alphabet Soup, here's today's installment...

I read Patricia Cornwell's Body of Evidence last month. It was OK. I like more of a twist at the end of my thrillers. Not so much with the random killer thing. Anyway, there was a piece of the evidence puzzle that blew me away:

[They are talking about carpeting used in cars]
Any chance of tracing them back to a make and model?

I'm afraid not. .... Unless we're talking about a very unusual fiber with a patented modification ration, tracing the darn thing back to a manufacturer is pretty futile, especially if the vehicles in question were manufactured in Japan. Let me give you an example. The precursor to the carpeting in a Toyota is plastic pellets, which are shipped from this country to Japan. There they are spun into fiber, the yarn shipped back here to be made into carpet. The carpet is then sent back to Japan to be placed inside the cars coming off the line.

Is it just me or doesn't that seem like an enormous waste of fuel???? I also, recently, reread The Jaunt, a short story by Stephen King found in The Skeleton Crew. It involves teleportation and mentions that when it was perfected, the cost of fuel went down to about 4 cents a gallon! Because fuel was no longer needed to ship goods/people/whatever and things were just teleported to where they were needed.

I got to thinking about my own consumption of fuel. I come from California and Californians would drive to the bathroom if the house were big enough. I drive to the post office nearly every day because of the swaps I'm in, the yarn I order, and the Stitch Savers I need to mail out. (Speaking of swaps - I started a new one and it involves yarn and knit-themed T-shirts. It's here if you want to play.)

I'm just as guilty as the rest of over-consumers and I try to balance that by recycling. I don't think there's enough recycling in my house to make it a proper balance. I've seen a lot on the TV lately about how things we think are green, actually are not. Boston Legal talked about how the billion dollar bottled water industry takes up not only fuel for shipping but the petroleum (which is a byproduct of oil) used in the making of the actual plastic bottles is astonishing.

And it cracks me up when I see those cars plastered with yellow ribbons and Support our Troops ribbons. Y'all know how much our troops mean to me since, a) I was one and b) some of my friends still are troops. But I wonder if these plastic magnet ribbon people realize that those things are also made from petroleum.

There's the report that making fuel out of corn is going to cause tons of toxic waste in the chemicals and fertilizers used to grow the stuff and that it'll take something like 6X as much as one would use in traditional oil just to make your car go as far.

I guess I don't really have a point here other then to hope that the government sends more grant money to whomever is working on inventing that teleportation machine!

Needing to walk more, Ruth!

Monday, February 25, 2008

N is for Nostalgia

There's this song from Brad Paisley where he writes a letter to himself when he was 17. He warns the younger version of himself against certain activities and encourages him towards others.

I thought I would write this letter to myself at that age (or any earlier age) and as I was doing this, I realized that I wouldn't change anything. Not even the Very Bad Things from when I was a child. All these things I've done and seen and been through - every one of them has shaped me in to who I am today.

The instability of my childhood, the reasons I joined the Army, my time in the Army, the job I had when I got out of the military, the 2 years it took me to sign up for massage school, the classmates I had in that school, the job I took after graduating.

Every opportunity. Every missed opportunity. Every lesson. Every misstep. Every adventure. Every tragedy. Every love. Every heartbreak. Every person. Every moment.


All of it led up to this incredible life. The life I've lived and the life I have now. And I wouldn't give up any of it.

How about you? Anything you'd like to say to your younger self? Anything you'd change or do differently?

Writing it down, Ruth!

M is for Movies

I watch a LOT of movies. I watch them while I'm making my Stitch Savers. I watch them while I go through the hundreds of resumes I get every day. I watch about a movie a day.

While my husband says I'll watch anything, I don't actually like them all. I will watch anything. I just got Season 3 of MST3K from the library. I discovered this show when I was stationed in Germany. My clinic had a secretary for awhile who was my age and married but her husband was in the field a lot, so she'd come over to my barracks room and we'd hang out. Her family would tape shows for her and mail them (since the shows on AFN in Germany were always a minimum 6 months behind). One day she brought a tape of MST3K over. Laughed ourselves stupid!

Anyway, I've seen several episodes of MST that I have to admit I've actually watched on my own. The full length versions of these horrible, cheesy movies. I love the Chiller channel and it drives my husband nuts. For me, the cheesier, the better!

But lately, I've seen some really great films. I know it's been forever since my last movie review but here goes....

In my last movie review, I mentioned that I was going to watch TransAmerica. I eventually did and it was fantastic. It was funny and touching and sad and I'm glad it didn't have the typical American happy-go-lucky ending. I also (around that time) tried to watch Syriana. I have, maybe 3 movies in my lifetime where I didn't watch the whole thing, no matter how bad. This was one of them. Not because it was a bad movie, more because of actual content. The sound was bad (the background noise/music being 10 times louder then the speaking and I couldn't hear real well), so I had a hard time following the story line. Then the (SPOILER ALERT)

death of that child and the torture of Clooney's character - I couldn't watch it.

OK, more recently....

I watched Volver with Penelope Cruz. Normally not a huge fan of her but this foreign film was outstanding! It's dubbed which made for some difficult knitting but I managed. It's a really great film and I highly recommend it.

The Kingdom - holy shit! What a ride! This is one of the most intense movies I've seen in a long time. It doesn't stop pretty much throughout the entire piece. I have a friend stationed in Saudi Arabia that I worry about and now I worry even more. They have a somewhat Hollywood ending but the last minute of the film (where they are switching back and forth btw the FBI agents and the little Saudi boy) are absolutely blood-chilling.

Mr. Brooks - I thought this movie was going to be really stupid. I only rented it because I wanted to see how Kevin Costner did as a villain. Surprisingly well, I gotta say! And this movie was nothing like I thought it would be. From the previews, it looked like Costner's killer was a serial killer (which he was) being blackmailed by some man (played by Dane Cook and that part's true, also). What I didn't expect was the fact that Costner's character was split and the other side of him was played (quite well and creepily) by William Hurt. Also, Mr. Brooks treats his killing like an addiction and attends 12 step program meetings to try and keep it in check (writing about that makes that part seem dorky but it works in the film). It's a well thought out movie and if it came off a book, I'd love to read it.

Perfect Stranger - not as compelling but still entertaining. I love Giovanni Ribisi!

Fracture - can't get enough of Anthony Hopkins! This one was a little predictable but like he did on Oprah - he could read the phone book and I'd show up.

The Lion in Winter - This is one of my all-time favorites. Katherine Hepburn is my favorite actress and of her early films, Philadelphia Story is my favorite. Of her later stuff - Lion in Winter, hands down. Also one of Anthony Hopkins first films! The only thing I never liked about this film is the fact that when it was over, they never told you who succeeded Henry! I'm guessing, I could easily find out (what with Wikipedia and Google and all) but I'm hoping, if you've read this far, maybe one of y'all knows.

There's tons of other movies and I remember, recently, thinking, 'Man! I've seen a lot of good movies lately!' But my brain is small and I didn't write them down.

Cranium like a sieve, Ruth!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

L is for Las Vegas

We had the best time on our vacation! We LOVE Vegas! D and I used to go there all the time before we had kids. It was about an 8 hour drive up from Tucson and we'd go for a long weekend 2 or 3 times a year.

T went to Vegas with us 3 times before he turned a year old. D2 went with all of us when he was 2 and we haven't been back since. Until last week!

We stayed at Texas Station which has a KidsQuest where you can drop your kids off and go gamble. The first night, I won $200 and D won $100! playing Super Fun Double Deck 21 (sounds like a Japanese game show, right?) and playing Craps.

Of course, we lost it all the next day and ended the trip a total of -$250 but we had a great time doin' it! At one point, at the Craps table, I rolled for 25 minutes straight!

We also took the kids to see Hoover Dam...

Here's a view of the new structure they're building to bypass cars (or, theoretically, terrorists) around the dam...

Can't even begin to imagine how much each of those bridge braces costs or how much concrete they take. Seems it'd be a lot easier to destroy/cause havoc one of those then the actual dam. Just sayin'.

This interesting sculpture is an homage to the "less glamorous" jobs involved in the building of the dam (according to the plaque next to it). This is a statue of the guy whose job it was to sweep the outhouses and keep them stocked with toilet paper!

We took the boys to see the lions at MGM and on the way, we met the women who won the National Cheer Competition. They let the boys hold their trophy. Good job, Massachusets cheerleaders!

The lions weren't as cheery...

The things you see in Vegas...

The shadow above (oops! to the right. Couldn't figure out how to flip it, sorry) of this pick is actually about a bamillion strings. Each shiny piece of this chandelier is hung on it's own individual string. I would've loved to see them hang that thing. It must've been a tangled nightmare!

Also, can't go to Vegas without taking your picture with Elvis...

and some "showgirls"....

These girls were actually handing out Mardi Gras beads as an enticement to come into their slot machine place. The boys went over and asked for some beads but they weren't allowed to give any to minors. So a nice guy standing nearby got a bunch and came and gave them to the boys. Then the showgirl said, "Don't let them suck on those!" OK. I won't. Um, they're a little older then sucking on lead-laced beads age. But thanks for the heads up! This was all at the Filmore Street light show.
We took the boys to this interactive kid's museum (Lied's?) and we were in that thing for about 2 hours! Then we took them to Circus Circus where they got to see a small show...

(Dave joked that Circus Circus was were Circue de Sol performers went to die)

and ride the rides in the Adventuredome. D took T on his first real roller coaster! He was a bit ambivalent about it. Much to my dismay, he didn't want to go on it again. (So D got to go on a roller coaster but I didn't. sigh.)

In this pic, it looks like D2 is getting eloctrocuted by Spongebob!

We took them to see the pirate show at Treasure Island but it was too windy and it got cancelled. Bummer! But the boys did get to take a pic in front of the well-endowed ship's bow...

The boys ended each day like this...

and even a little during the day, sometimes, like this...

Awesome! And they were little angels the whole damn time!! I asked them why they didn't listen this well at home? At home, D2 always holds my hand, but rather lightly in case he wants to make a quick getaway. The whole time in Vegas, he had a death grip on my hand. I think they were so well behaved because they didn't want to be left behind when we went home. hmmm

On the Etsy store front: (hee, hee - storefront?)

These are now available at Gail Knits in Vegas and may be coming to Wooly Wonders in Vegas soon. So you can get one without paying S&H if you are local.

And in the Etsy store, I've added more of the Stitch Savers (since the first batch was about sold out! Splee!) and also added the whole Custom option! Like these...

Seven come eleven, Ruth!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

K is for Knit

Really what else could K be for?

I've been knitting since I learned in the summer of 2003. It's been a great way to pass time as I sit and watch TV, or stand in line or am a passenger while Dave's driving.

It's been my sanity when my life gets crazy and my insanity when the yarn or pattern goes nuts. I've met many new people both in knitting groups and online.

It's occupied countless hours of mindwracking fun to try and figure out... everything. I've read books on knitting. Taken classes about knitting. Met Knitting Royalty.

We are flying away to our vacation tomorrow. If anything should happen to me, here's how I want my yarn divvied up:

Lisa Litton of Tucson, AZ gets first dibs as she is the goddess who taught me how to knit. Rachel H. gets next go at it. Then, if someone would be so kind as to put the rest on a destash site for $5 a skein/needles/notions/etc. and put the proceeds to:
50% to my family, 25% to Hiefer International and 25% to The House That Yarn Built

Whoever takes on the monumental task of putting the destash sale together gets to go through and pick what they want first.

We'll be gone from Sunday - Thursday, so my next post should be next Friday.

Going off grid, Ruth!

Friday, February 8, 2008

J is for Jackass

Yesterday, at the post office (of which I've had many problems with recently), I had to go through the sloooooow line. I usually use the automated centers but for some reason, it's stopped allowing stuff to go overseas.

Usually, when you get to the part where you punch in the zip code, there's an "International" button. You push that, select your country of choice, and it kicks out the necessary postage. Well, it wouldn't do that yesterday. So - the line. sigh.

When I get to the front, I get the old guy. Bob. Hate Bob. I ask him why the automated things aren't doing the International postage anymore. He says, "It's not allowed for anything going overseas."
Me: What changed? It used to allow it.
Bob: Nope. Never did.
Me: Yes it has, I've used it.
Bob: Nope. Never happened.

WTF?? So basically he's telling me I'm insane and I've hallucinated using that machine to get postage and send packages to Singapore, Spain, Puerto Rico, Canada, England....

I saw it was useless to argue with someone who's mind was so clearly set in stone so I shut my mouth (shocker, right?) and finished my business and left.

Also, I forgot to tell y'all about the traffic jam last week.

My husband calls from his FedEx truck and asks me to check the news to see if I can determine why he's been sitting in one place for over 20 minutes. It was quarter to 5 - no news was on and there were no local tickers or anything so he got no information from me. 10 minutes later, Rachel calls (from that same traffic mess) and tells me the scoop.

Apparently, our beloved President (coughjackasscough) had to come through. Not only did they shut down E470 - they wouldn't even let anyone drive underneath it (which is what caused the traffic snarl where Dave and Rachel were stuck). Nor were they redirecting traffic so as to avoid this mess.

The stopped traffic was only supposed to take 3 minutes. The Prez was 20 minutes late, so they just kept it stopped until he made it through.

This pisses me off. Why would he do that to people? I understand he has an overly busy, tight schedule to keep. I understand issues of national security (I've encountered them firsthand) and that you don't want people knowing when and where he'll be at all times so no one takes a potshot at him. But seriously - could he not have waited an hour so as to miss ruining an already difficult rush hour?? There's no one he could've met for dinner? Or drinks? It's not like he has to be on time to make his flight. It's his plane!! It ain't leaving until he gets there.

Traffic was a mess for miles. And for hours. The daycare people at our elementary school said the last parent showed up after 7p (they normally close at 6p). What a jerk.

Can't wait to start my vacation, Ruth!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I is for Indecisive

We are going on vacation next week (so no sneaking over to steal my yarn stash, OK!). I always cast on something new when we head out on a vacation. Thankfully, it's not the only time I cast on as this is our first vacation in 3 years!

I've been racking my brain as to what to take! I know I'm going to take a sock pattern (and yarn and dpns) and I even know which one for this. But I can't think of which sweater pattern I want to take. I have taken the Bed Jacket out of time out and really just want to take and try to finish that but what if I get out there and get stuck again!? I was going to take Juliet but the yarn I custom ordered (that fall down the stash stairs at Etsy I had. OK, the second fall) is being mailed from Canada tomorrow and won't be here in time.

I thought about Tubey (which was in my 2008 Knitting Goals) but then I've got to figure out the provisional cast on and knitting with black yarn on a plane seems a bit of a strain on the eyes when I think about it.

I'm leaning towards Wicked but have many questions and a whole lot of ball-winding that needs to be done first. I've asked Becky about it since she used the same yarn I'll be using and she's already finished hers.

I'm probably going to take the skein of yarn I won from Rabbitch (well, made by Rabbitch, won from LibbyLoo) to make a So-Called Scarf.

sigh. Any suggestions?

Too many choices, Ruth!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

H is for Handy

I've been making these keychains...

I got the idea from Girl on the Rocks tutorial. I tried the bendy thing but they kept breaking so I went and got me a Dremel. Love the power tools!

I've been cranking them out like crazy!

Yesterday, I made about 32 of them and it took me about 2 hours. Well, 3 hours if you count the hour I wasted putting together the little work bench I bought. I bought some safety glasses but they are the slide on style and with my little peanut head, every time I look down, they fall off. Also, about 10 minutes before I finished the power tool section of creating these little bastards, I noticed all this metal dust everywhere. It occured to me that much of that was going into my lungs! Yea, aluminum dust. Probably going to be getting a face mask for next time.

I'm not terribly handy but, apparently, I can swing a Dremel with a modicum of skill.

And, also yesterday, I did some more snow shoveling. I like to shovel snow. I don't want to do it as a career or anything, but I like the break it gives me from small, loud people that inhabit my home. I put my ipod to use and go to town on the powdery stuff.

Yesterday was a great opportunity for it as we'd got about a foot of snow dumped on us overnight. I went to do the shoveling but the snow shovel was gone. I thought Dave had taken it with him in case his truck got stuck. So I used the only other option available. The kid's snow shovel. It's very small. And short. Even for me, at 5'2". It took me close to an hour and a big backache later but the driveway was cleared.

Then when Dave came home, I asked him about the shovel and he told me he hadn't taken it, that it was in the back yard!! sigh. I went looking for it today, but it's buried under all that new snow. He can find it. And he can shovel next time.

Power tools makin' me giggle, Ruth!

P.S. The keychains are in my new Etsy store if you're interested.

Monday, February 4, 2008

G is for Ghost

Have any of you ever seen a ghost?

I have. Twice. Or maybe one and a half, since the second time it wasn't really a ghost, just a visit.

Get a snack, here we go...

When I was a kid, we lived on this 5 acre ranch in California. All the houses on the street were on the same side and about 5 acres each. Behind us was nothing but open field and same across the street.

The house next to us (to the east) was haunted.

When we first moved in there was a family there but they moved away shortly after we moved in. (Was it something I said? jk) The next family moved in. My brother and I watched from our yard but there wasn't much to see. Their front door was obscured by trees and a bad angle relative to our yard. We could see the window of the bedroom that faced our house.

We saw the silhouette of a mover working in there and after about 15 minutes of watching the working man, we got bored and went back inside our own home.

Later that day, the new family came over to introduce themselves and to ask if the former family had left any keys for them. My dad said they hadn't. The new family said they couldn't get into one of the rooms and the realtor mentioned that the former family may've left the keys with us.

The room they couldn't get in to was the room where my brother and I watched the silhouetted man working in. My brother and I looked at each other and thought, "Naaaah. Couldn't be." Later, we went over to play with the new kids and my dad went with us to see if he could help out at all. Sure enough - it was the same room. My dad and their dad jimmied the lock and we got in. The youngest kid (L.S.) picked that room. It had this big portrait of a creepy looking old man on the wall and L.S. decided he liked it and would keep it up.

Fast forward 3 years.

The next family to move in was a big one. They had 6 or 7 kids and the oldest was Johnny K. sigh. Big crush on Johnny K. The boy smelled so good! He was about 4 years older then me and was really nice. He picked the creepy room and left the portrait up. He played guitar and was a nice kid who really looked after his younger siblings.

All the neighbor kids came home on the same bus and we'd usually head straight for the K.'s house because they had an Atari and a stay at home mom who'd give us cookies. Johnny's after school activites kept him til the late bus. One day, we came over to the K.'s house as usual but their mom had gone into town for more fabric (she used to make the most beautiful quilts).

We'd been there about an hour and were in the game room playing Atari when we heard Johnny playing his guitar. Barry K. thought Johnny had ditched his after-school stuff and went to knock on the door to ask him about it. I was standing next to him (any excuse to get a glimpse into Johnny's room!) and just as Barry was reaching his hand up to knock, the guitar playing became this screeching, feedback, crazed and LOUD noisy nonsense!

We covered our ears and were yelling for Johnny to stop it and to open the door. Then it stopped.

And then Johnny walked up behind us and asked what the hell we were doing and who was messin' with his guitar.

Barry and I about wet our pants.

Johnny opened his door and there was nothing in there.

A couple of weeks later, Johnny was doing his patented devil voice. He used to use this gravelly, scary devil voice to scare us younger kids and he'd chase us around and when he'd catch one, he'd tickle them til they begged for mercy.

We were all hanging out in Johnny's room and he started the devil voice thing. We started laughing and begging him to stop because we knew the tickle torture/fun was about to begin. He was just winding up in to it when all of a sudden, he went crazy. He started swinging his fisted hands around and Barry told him to cut it out, that he was going to hurt someone. Well, J ended up knocking us all to hell. He hit Barry first and knocked him in to the edge of his waterbed. Then Paul (another brother) came up behind J to grab his arms. J knocked him in to the closet, breaking the closet door. He knocked me into his weight bench - it fell over and just missed crushing my head with the free weights on the bar. The whole incident lasted less then 2 minutes with J jibbering nonsense in that devil voice. Then Aimee (the neighbor kid on the other side of them) ran up and slapped Johnny as hard as she could.

He stopped. He looked around, sort of dazed and confused. His eyes got all teary and he started apologizing profusely, helping each of us up. After that, he explained how, sometimes in that room, he'd be looking at that creepy portrait and he'd get these really weird thoughts in his head. He wanted to get rid of it but he just couldn't bring himself to do it for some reason.

That was it for us. We did it for him. We took that portrait off the wall (I remember it was suprisingly heavy) and cut it up and broke the frame and threw the whole thing in the trash.

There were never any more instances in that room as far as I know.

The other time was when I was stationed in Germany...

I was sleeping peacefully in my bed in the barracks of the hospital I was stationed at in Wurzburg, Germany. I woke up and there was a bright light at the end of my bed, like someone had opened the door to the hallway and shone a spotlight in. My brother was standing in front of the light and I could only see him in silhouette. I couldn't really see his face because of the backlight, but I'd know that stoner hair anywhere.

I asked what he was doing here and how'd he even get here. He turned his head ever so slightly so I could see his face and he just smiled at me. I reached for my glasses on my nightstand and when I looked back, he was gone. I thought it must've been a dream but I did have my glasses in my hand and it all seemed so damn real.

I went back to sleep and when I woke up the next morning I called my brother to tell him about this crazy dream I'd had. He was just coming home from the hospital. About the time I had my dream (or whatever it was), my brother had crashed while riding his motorcycle and it was a pretty nasty crash. Not as bad as most, he had a helmet on and didn't break anything, but they spent about 4 hours cleaning gravel out of his skin. If you've ever had road rash that needed debriding, you know how painful it is. If you haven't... well, trust me - you're very lucky. He was never in any danger of dying or anything but, I don't know, I still think he visited me.

Crazy, right?

Do y'all have any ghost stories that you've experienced?

Need a good campfire, Ruth!

P. S. Very cool raffle here.