Friday, November 28, 2008


A bonus Thanksgiving post. Actually this is for a contest on another blog asking for recipes for cranberries and for sweet potatoes.

Yesterday, we had Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws. I made these desserts from the Everyday Food cookbook. I used to have a subscription to the magazine. Great stuff, simple, fast, everything found in a normal grocery store. When the cookbook came out, I bought it immediately.

8 TBSP unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup sugar (separated)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 3/4 cup cranberries
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub the bottom and sides of an 8" cake pan with 2 TBSP butter. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of sugar, the cinnamon and the allspice. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan; arrange cranberries in a single layer on top.

2. With an electric mixer, cream remaining 6 TBSP of butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla; beat until well combined. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk, until well combined.

3. Spoon the batter over the cranberries in the pan, smoothing the top. Place the pan on a baking sheet; bake the cake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean - 30-35 minutes. Let cool on wire rack about 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a rimmed platter. Serve with whipped cream.

I've made this cake twice and both times when I inverted it, some of the cranberry topping stayed stuck to the pan. You'd think with 2 Tablespoons of butter that wouldn't happen. Next time I'm going to first spray the pan with non-stick spray and see if that helps.

1/4 cup unsalted butter plus more for the pie dish
3 ripe but firm Comice or Bartlett pears, peeled halved and cored
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter a 9" pie dish. Slice the pears 1/4" thick lengthwise and layer in pie plate, slightly overlapping

2. In blender, process the rest of the ingredients (except confectioner's sugar) until smooth. I had to scrape the sides a few times.

3. Pour the batter over the pears ; bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 40-45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature dusted with powdered sugar. They aren't kidding about the warm part. I took a bite later last evening when it was cold. Not so good. But when warm - spectacular! Also, I had about 1/4 cup of extra cranberries left over from making the cake so I threw those in after step one. Soooooo tasty!

The last one is a favorite but I'm tired of typing so I'll just link to it. My MIL has gotten both of us lifetime subscriptions to Taste of Home. Excellent mag. There's little to no advertising - it's all recipes and all sent in by readers. This is out of that mag. It's Sweet Potatoes with Apples.

Eat well, Ruth!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

FO Parade

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. In the tradition of Holiday Parades, I've put my own together.....
Pattern: The Harlot's Unoriginal Hat
Yarn Malabrigo Chunky (don't know the colorway but it's a rich brown with pale blue highlights)
Here's a better pic that Dave took. (I took the blurry one above.)

I made this hat twice. The needles the Harlot's pattern calls for don't exist in America. It's btw a US 10.5 and US 11. I first went with the 10.5 because I've got a tiny head. It was too small. I'd put it one and it would pop off like a cork. I pulled it apart, spit-splice the yarn and remade it with the 11's. It's still a little small. It tends to slide up my head and looks odd. My friend Donna says to block it but I think I'll probably just pull it apart again and make it on 13's.

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Moebius Vest
Yarn: JJ's Montage (again, don't know the colorway)
Needles: US 9 (I think)

When my mom visited awhile back and picked out patterns and bought the yarn for me to make her things I was elated. New yarn! In trying to pick simple things, she ended up picking things that are deadly boring. This is miles of garter stitch. Miles. Countries. But I think it came out very nice. Pooling seems to make some people crazy. It's never bothered me, I rather like the way it looks!

I joined YarnThing's Holiday KAL-CAL. My list includes a hat each for my brother, my MIL, and my FIL. Slippers for the boys and the in-laws. And now I've added a scarf and some Peekaboo Mitts for my MIL. And a bathmat (crocheted) for my BIL/SIL.
The thing is, it's so cold here in Denver that the gifts for the in-laws and the boys will be given the minute they are off the needles.
Yarn: Alpaca with a Twist Highlander
Needles: US 9
mods: No button on the flap. Didn't have one that my Chibi would go thru the holes to sew it on.

Pattern: A Hat Fit For A Boyfriend
Yarn: Baby Alpaca Grande
Needles: US 10.5
Another hat made twice. Made it (casting on 72 instead of 100 due to the difference in gauge btw called for yarn and what I used), put it on my husband who pronounced it a bit snug and too short. My FIL has a very large head so if the hat was snug on Dave.... Frogged and remade using 80 sts. When it was done, I put it on FIL's head, he pronounced it perfect so I took the needles out of the top and finished it off.
Despite the Freudian nature of making a hat fit for a boyfriend for my FIL, it's an excellent pattern. Go to the Rav link and see a much better pic of the clever decreases!

And can I just say that I am now in love with hats - even making them twice, they are so fast! Well, except this one...
Pattern: YeeHaw Lady
Yarn: Kitchen Cotton - Black
Crochet Hook: J (I think, I never keep track of these things - I used what was called for in the pattern)

Yet another one that was done pretty much twice. I made it with some help. I can't seem to figure out flat rounds in crochet. You do 7 flat rounds and then start in-the-round rounds to make the crown. The flat rounds are like ones you would do if you were making the soles of slippers. I can never get those right. I never end up at the beginning of the round where I'm supposed to. I'm always short or overshot on the beginning of the damn round. After 5 tries, I took it to Purls of Wisdom and Jen (the owner) did that part for me. (Thanks Jen!)

I went home and made the rest of the hat. Tried it on before I did the wire edging. Too. Damn. Big. I pulled out to the flat part and made it again with less increases. It was still a bit big but I did the wire edging and 2 hours later wore it to the costume party I'd made it for. Here's my cowgirl outfit...

I didn't really like the hat. At all. I felt the crown was too high. And the wire edging was a true bitch to finish. And you could see the green florist wire around the edge. (Halfway through the party, I went to the bathroom and looking in the mirror, I thought, "You know? It's not that bad!" Then I realized I was beer goggling my own hat. I'm such a dork.)
If I ever make this again, I'll use even less increases and maybe one less round of the decorative stitches in the crown. But I really don't see me making this again. It's currently waiting to be frogged and made into a bath mat for my BIL/SIL for xmas.

And y'all thought I didn't knit, Ruth!

Monday, November 24, 2008


In the comments of my last post, Tammy asked whether being written up for a broken speedometer was a legitimate write-up in the Army. Sister, you have no idea. Yes, they can write you up for a broken car. Their theory (from what I was told) is that if a soldier has a car, they are required to keep it in working condition. Soldiers are supposed to be fine, upstanding citizens who set the example - they don't want soldiers getting tickets or causing wrecks.

Just as there's 101 ways to get out of the Army, there's also about 502 ways to get put out of the Army. My favorite is the inheritance one. If a soldier inherits (or wins) a lot of money (I believe the cutoff number is somewhere around $100,000), they will be put out of the military with an honorable discharge. The thinking is - with that much money, they have no incentive to put up with the bullshit one has to put up with in the military.

Your family also needs to be example-setting, upstanding citizens. I had a friend who was put out because his wife was a complete F'up. They were living in base housing and she was a pothead. She'd get loaded and go to the Shoppette (military version of 7/11). One time she went for her munchies and apparently reeked of weed badly enough to have the clerk call the MP's on her. They pulled her over on her way home and she got busted for DUI. It was the last straw for the soldier's CO. Soldier was put out. It was my understanding it was a sort of "You can take this honorable discharge and get out or we'll put you out with a dishonorable discharge" situation. Sucked for him because he was actually a really good soldier who just married wrong.

Usually, if you're a good soldier, they don't much care what your private life is like. That's where the cop out of "don't ask, don't tell" often comes in to play. Of the 15 women on the Women's Medac Softball Team at Ft. Huachuca, I was one of 2 1/2 who were straight. (Evelyn's theory was, "Why limit yourself?" Why indeed, Ev.) The Army does not care. But if they need a reason to put you out....

Ditto for writing bad checks. And having a car that doesn't work. And failing the college courses you chose to take. And being consistently late. And a hundred other ways if they feel you're not up to par.

Have I ever told y'all why I joined the military? It's a long story involving borderline homelessness and a severe lack of college money.

So there I was....

We'll stick with the second reason for now. I was going to Fresno State as a Dance Major. I was in Dance all through high school and that's what I wanted to do with my life. I was running out of money and had no real options. I called one of my best friend's from high school, David, and asked him about the military. (He was an officer in the Army. Still is - he's currently a Major in the Armor Division and just came back from Saudi Arabia this past July.) The first thing he said was, "You're going to hate it." (I wasn't exactly known for conformity.) I said, "I know but what choice do I have??"

He came over and schooled me about the military. He said the first thing I had to do was take the ASVAB. I don't know what it stands for but it's sort of like SAT's for the military. He said after the ASVAB, the recruiter would take me to a computer where I'd pick my job. He told me that recruiters have quotas they need to fill and they have certain jobs they need to fill more then others. "This," he said, "means that They. LIE. A lot. Use your head and see if what they are saying makes any sense." He insisted that I pick a medical or dental job. He said, "Medical is not real Army. Not as much in the old days, but there's a higher level of education and a much more laid back feel." He also told me about Basic Training. He told me about Shock Treatment (we'll cover that in a moment) and then he said I'd be fine. "Ruth, they can't lay a hand on you. All they can do anymore is yell at you and try to make you feel like shit. It's all a head game - just don't play." Once he told me that, I knew I could handle it. They can yell all they like, it ain't gonna bother me as long as I know they can't hit me. What do I care if some stranger I'll only have to deal with for 8 weeks yells at me?

I took the ASVAB. There's a lot of "school learnin' stuff" (as the recruiter told me) but there's also sections where they test for different skills - I remember a section with pictures of gears and you had to figure out which way they were going to turn. It's impossible to get 100% on the ASVAB - it's designed that way. If I remember right, I was told it involves the code section, it's too long for anyone to actually finish. If someone gets 100%, they know that person cheated. I got 97%.

The recruiter said with a 97% I could choose any job I wanted. Then he starts showing me cook and truck driver jobs. I looked at him and said, "If I can choose any job I want, why would I choose cook or truck driver? Let's see the medical jobs." He pulled up medic. Dave warned me about the medic job. It's one of the crappiest jobs in the military (albeit, one of the most important). It's shift work and shit work and blood and cleaning bed pans. I don't do blood. I'd rather not deal with bed pans. But it was a short school and since I was only joining to be in the Reserves, I wanted as short a school as possible so I could get back to "real" school as soon as possible. They had a slot for me in Basic but nothing in AIT (that's where the Army teaches the job you picked). So we moved on and the recruiter pulled up OR tech. OR. Operating Room. I looked at him and said very slowly, since obviously he wasn't getting it, "I. Don't. Do. Blood." He said, "Oh, no, it's not like that. You're no where near the table. You mostly sterilize the instruments and if you are in the OR, you stand about a foot away from the table and just hand the Dr.'s the instruments." I looked at him incredulously, "97%, remember? I'm not stupid. What else do you have?"

So we eventually settled on Optician. Short school, I'd be back by Fall semester. Had I known my very near future, I would've picked a better job, like Pharmacy Tech or something. I didn't. I had a delayed entry so I could finish out the Fall semester I was currently in. Fall semester - 1990. I was to leave for Basic training the following March.

Fall 1990. Ringin' any bells? The day after I signed my final paperwork for the Army is the day America invaded Kuwait. The Gulf war. I couldn't believe my luck.

It worked out OK, though. With my delayed entry, by the time I graduated Basic Training, the Gulf War was over. phew!

So Basic Training. (For avoiding-carpal-tunnel-while-typing, I'm going to call it BT) First they send me to the wrong place. I was flown to Ft. Dix, NJ. The other recruits and myself were trundled off to Reception. When we got there, the drills were looking at me as if they'd never seen a woman before. Apparently it had been awhile since Ft. Dix hadn't taken female recruits for the past 3 months. The Army changes its mind a lot - coed Basic Training, not coed. Not only was Ft. Dix's BT no longer coed, they weren't training any females on the entire base! The only females on base were active duty soldiers doing there jobs. I spent the night there and at dinner that night and breakfast the morning I left, all eyes were on me. The drills kept barking at the soldiers to look at their food. Awkward.

I was then flown to Ft. Jackson, SC. So happy to leave Ft. Dix. I got there and left there when it was dark and holy crap was it cold - in March! At BT, you spend a week in reception. They process you with paperwork, paperwork, shots, paperwork, physical, paperwork, get your uniforms, paperwork. Oh, and then there's the paperwork. But it's a party! There's drill sgt.'s but they're all laid back and you have a regular sgt. who's assigned to your squad and takes you everywhere. They practice a little bit of marching but it's just to see how lame you are at it, nothing real serious.

After that first week, they put the recruits on one bus and their duffel bags stuffed full of brand new uniforms, boots, canteens, etc. onto a separate truck. Once you get to where your actual barracks/training site will be, the bus stops. Then the Shock Treatment begins. As I said, David warned me about this so I wasn't shocked and found the whole thing pretty funny.

A drill sgt. comes on the bus and starts shouting at everyone. It's a huge cluster fuck from there. There's drill's shouting, you have to run from one end of the barracks sidewalk, where the bus is to the other (about a city block), where the truck is. All the duffel bags were being dumped onto the ground. You have to find your duffel out of the hundred or so on the ground, find where your squad is (there's 4 in a platoon with about 25-30 women per), find a place in line then stand still while the drill's tear into you. The girls who were crying got reamed. The girl next to me apparently found it as funny as I did and started laughing. The drill came and was screaming and spit-yelling in her face. Literally. The brim of his drill sgt. hat was touching her forehead. I could smell his breath from where I was standing. Ew. She stopped laughing. I was trying so hard not to bust a gut, I almost peed.

I've got so many memories of Basic Training but this post is getting over long as it is. Again. Maybe I'll start a Military Monday and write some memoiries (not misspelled - I like making up new words).

The point of all this is here...

The Army is the irony of my life. I joined to get college money for my Dance Major. In Reception, they gave me boots that were a half size too small and told me they'd stretch. They didn't stretch, they just caused nerve damage. When I went back to school, I couldn't go on toe anymore and had to give up dance. When you think about it, it's actually kind of funny! It's the only reason I went in and then I couldn't do it anymore because I went it.

Of course, it wasn't funny at the time. I was 21 and it was devastating and all very dramatic. I went back to the Army and said I wanted to go Active Duty (I'd only joined the Reserves, remember) - I figured I needed time to develop a new plan for my life and if I went Active Duty, I'd get twice the college money in half the time. I obviously wasn't thinking too straight since "half the time" also meant full time - Army 24/7. I said I wanted to get as far away as possible, so wanted to go to Korea. I'd been to Europe on a trip with some classmates the summer between my Junior and Senior year and figured I'd seen it in the 6 weeks we were there. (What a schmo I was!) The recruiters told me all they had for my job was Germany. I sighed and snapped, "Fine." Yeah, fine - I had the time of my life while stationed for 2 years in Germany! They made me take the ASVAB again, since they'd lost my test scores from the year before. I got a 98% and those idiots were all impressed. I reminded them, "I just took this a year ago. It's. the. same. test. Not like I memorized it but, come on!" After that, I was on my way to the next 4 years of my life.

The way I found out about the nerve damage was pretty funny, too. I was gimping down the hall and the drill saw me. She was the only female drill in our platoon and was small, wiry and hard as nails. She said, "RIGGS - get over here." I was in my pajamas (in BT, that's your PT outfit) and said, "I gotta go to the bathroom." She was at one end of the long hall and the bathroom was at the other. I was in the middle. She yelled, "Come here." I knew she was wondering why I was limping but I wasn't about to tell her. If you have to go to Sick Call for too long, you get "recycled" which means you have to start Basic Training all over. From the beginning. It was week 4 of 8 when she spotted me. I said, "After I pee." and started run-gimping down the hall. She was chasing after me and quickly overcame me.

Drill: What's wrong with you?
Me: Nothing.
Drill: Don't lie soldier, is it your leg?
Me: No
Drill: Soldier, I ain't here to play 20 questions with you.
Me: (finally breaking and bursting into tears. It's the first time I've cried during BT) My feet.
Drill: (looking alarmed at my tears) Let me see them.
Me: No. I'm fine.
Drill: I'm not going to ask again.

I took off my socks and showed her my feet. She actually gasped. The bottoms were completely black and blue with bruises. The tops of my toes were also bruised. "It's really not that bad," I lied. She asked what the hell happened and I told her I didn't know but I suspected it was from my boots being too small. She asked why I hadn't told them the boots were too small. I said, "I did ask for bigger boots at reception. When they gave me my pair, I told them they were too small. The guy said to stop complaining and that they'd stretch. I guess they haven't." She laughed and said, "I guess not. I'm sending you to Sick Call."

I almost started crying again and begged her not to. I told her it wasn't so bad and if she just got me boots that fit, I was sure they'd heal quickly. She reluctantly sent me anyway and, so I wouldn't get recycled, I lied like crazy to the doc's when I was there. She got me proper fitting boots. The bruises healed but the nerve damage never has. To this day, if I wear shoes that are too tight around the toes, the nerves in my toes crack and it feels like they are being electrocuted.

Don't feel bad for me. When the subject comes up and people hear this story, they get all sorry for me. Shit happens. I don't regret a thing in my life. I had the best time in Germany, I had the crazy Major at Ft. Huachuca, I ended up in Tucson where I met my husband and had my kids!

That's just the way it goes, Ruth!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Reason I Got Out

I recently got reconnected with someone who was very good to me while I was in the Army, stationed in Germany. She's one of my favorite people - ever! When I was getting sent to Ft. Huachuca (my time in Germany being, sadly, over), she informed me that I was going to have Major Palmer as my CO. She warned me that Palmer hates tardiness (I was always late) and to watch out because Palmer was rumored to be a bit weird.

My friend in Germany had no idea. I promised her I'd tell all so here it is. Grab a snack.

So there I was...

stationed at Ft. Huachuca, I had the worst CO (commanding officer) ever. Well, at least in my limited 5 year military experience. She was the second worst boss I've had in all the jobs I've done. (Someday, I'll tell y'all about the worst.)

Major Cindy Palmer. I hope she googles her name and reads this someday. Not that she'll care.

Whenever you get to a new base, it's usually best to get a bank account on that base and have your direct deposit go there. Makes money access so much easier. I was at the bank on Ft. Huachuca with my boyfriend, Aaron. This family came in and signed in to wait (just like I had) and sat across the room from us. Aaron and I looked at each other with decidedly WTF?? looks on our faces.

The family was very tall. The husband and wife were well over 6' and the 2 boys were as tall as me and taller (not saying much there - I'm 5'2"). That's not what we thought was so strange. The strange part - they were all dressed the same. Same exact madras plaid shirts, same exact khaki, knee-length cargo shorts, even the same damn shoes! White keds. Very strange.

So I get to work the next day at the eye clinic for the hospital (I was an optician - screened patients for the Optometrists). I get my "welcome to the base" briefing from my new NCO (non-commissioned officer in charge, i.e., my Sergeant). It went a little something like this:
"If it's poisonous and lives in North America it's here - to include water moccasins and the brown recluse spider. Hydrate or die." I said, "Sounds like a lovely place." (I had a run-in with a brown recluse shortly before I got out of the Army. You can read that adventure here.)

I was given a tour of our meager offices and then introduced to the staff on hand. I was told that there was going to be a new Major and that she would be there the next day. The next day came and guess who my new Major was. Yea. The crazy lady with the family that all wears the same outfit.

I was stuck with her for the 2 years before I got out of the Army. She's the reason, the very specific reason, I know of that at least 3 other people gave saying, "yea, that's enough Army for me". She wasn't the only reason I got out (as the title of this post implies) but she was a big help. Maybe I should actually thank her for being such a bitch that it woke me up to the truth. The truth of my having become complaisant to the idea of staying in the cocoon that the military becomes for so many people. People like me who originally joined just for college money.

She was uberchristian yet seemed to never get enough of other people's business. Including the tragedy and business of strangers - she couldn't get enough true crime books. She once got caught in the clinic next to ours when we were moved to the new wing of the hospital. That clinic was the OB/GYN clinic and they kept their records in a small room locked with a key. She was caught in that room going through people's test results. Pregnancy, STD, and Pap results.

We could hear the Major from that clinic ripping her a new one through 3 closed doors. Of course, nothing happened to Palmer, other then being told to find her OB/GYN care downtown somewhere, at her own expense. Had she not been a Major, I'm sure criminal action would've been taken, but such is the Army.

Just as I'm sure, had she not been an Optometrist in the Army, she would not have had a successful practice. She was always a minimum of 20 minutes behind (usually, more like an hour). Even Cpt. J once said, "There's no way she'd make it in the real world." And she was a horrible leader. One of my duties was to keep the clinic stocked with whatever we needed. Palmer would come raging out of her office, yelling at me (oftentimes in front of patients or anyone else who happened to be standing there) because she was out of something. After the 4th or 5th time, I raised my voice back at her, "What am I supposed to do? There was no psychic class in my training. You won't let me into your office to take inventory. You don't tell me when you're low on things, you just yell at me when you're out. So what am I supposed to do?" After that, she started giving me lists of what she needed. I should've stood up for myself much earlier!

The first year there, she had a Christmas party at her house. She and I were stationed there in July and in that short 6 months, she'd already alienated everyone in the clinic. But, she's our CO, so we gotta go, right?

My captain in the clinic was a female, we'll call her J. J had a wife (D) and everyone knew it. My NCO also was a female with a girlfriend and everyone knew it. No one really cared. They were excellent soldiers (I was not. At all.) and so no one cared. The day of the party, I was hanging out with our receptionist guy (a retiree named Stu) and Palmer came up front to hang out, too. She was making small talk and then asks, "Is J. coming tonight?" Stu and I didn't know. Then she says, "Is she bringing D?" Again, we didn't know. Then she asks, "So.... what is D? Like her roommate or.... what?" Stu whips his chair around and is suddenly very busy at his computer.

I look at her dumbfounded and when I find my voice (silenced by my low rank and my desire to keep the college money I'm in the Army for), I say, "Well... I don't know. I mean, it's really none of my business and if you have any questions about Cpt. J, you. should. really. Ask. Her." And I mosy on to my desk in the back office. What a bitch!

But wait, there's more....

At the Ft. Huachuca optometry clinic, one of our duties was to go to Yuma, AZ once a month. They had a tiny base in this tiny, desert, OK - shithole of a town and it wasn't big enough to warrant their own Optometrist. So we went. One Optometrist and one Optician. No one ever wanted to go with Palmer because, well, as I've said, she'd pretty well alienated everyone she ever met.

But it was an extra coupla hundred bucks TDY pay to go, so I usually went with Palmer because I could pretty well let her craziness roll off me. Or so I thought.

The first time we went together, we drove. I didn't bring my Walkman because I didn't want to be rude. I listened to Christian talk radio for FIVE HOURS in that car. At one point, I almost opened the door and jumped onto the freeway going 75 miles an hour. yea.

On the way back, I settled in to sleep through the next 5 hours of Christian talk radio. Palmer asked me to stay awake with her because she was sleepy. sigh. I busted out my book, thinking, "I may have to make sure you stay awake but I don't have to entertain you." Wrong again. Only her form of entertainment was to rip into me about the books I read. I love the scary stuff! She said, "How can you read that trash?? It's so graphic and disgusting!" I asked, "Well, how do you know that if you've never read it?" (Not that she was wrong mind you, just bein' snarky.)

Palmer: I used to read that stuff when I was younger and I know how graphic it is. You shouldn't fill your mind with such filth.
Me: (eyeing that car door handle again) Well, you read true crime books all the time. Those are way more graphic then anything I read.
Palmer: That's different. Those are real.
Me: (turning red with incredulity) Doesn't that make them WORSE?!?

We didn't talk much after that.

The next time... we flew.

Each base had it's own tiny airport and we flew in these little puddlejumpers. Her family gave her a ride to the airport and was hanging around until she left. Her boys were 8 and 11 (this was in 1995-ish) and the younger, as I said, was as tall as me. (Palmer was a little over 6' and her husband was around 6'6".) At one point the younger walked up to her and put his arms up. I was thinking, 'How sweet, he wants a hug'. Uh-uh. She picked him up and carried him around for almost 20 minutes! The 2 guys on staff and myself couldn't stop staring. I wanted to scream at her, "Woman, he's eight years old - put him DOWN!!"

I'll get more into the way they treated their kids in a moment.

When we flew back from this particular trip to Yuma, she asked me if I could give her a ride home. Her husband had taken the boys on a bike ride to the OK Corral in Tombstone. (That's about a 30 minute drive from Ft. Huachuca, btw). I reluctantly agreed. What else was I going to do? It was almost comical to watch her fold her body into my little '66 Mustang. Even more so since my passenger side door didn't work and she had to go through from the driver's side. Anyway, she managed to get in and I gave her a ride home.

The next day, she had me written up because my speedometer didn't work.

That was the last straw for me. I refused to sign the negative write up and took it to the Hospital's First Sergeant. I had been keeping a record of my negative write-ups, which were many. I showed him the timeline I'd drawn out and said, "You notice the only time I get written up is when it's just Palmer and me? Whenever Cpt. J and my NCO are in Yuma or when they are on leave - that's when I get written up. And this last time? The only reason she knew my speedometer was broken was because she asked me for a ride home and I gave her one." My First Sergeant (who was about 40+ years old) went, "Nuh UH" just like a little kid. To which I replied, "Yuh huh!" He tossed that last write-up out and I started paperwork to get out of the Army.

So. Her kids.
These poor kids were home-schooled. Now I don't want a bunch of crappy comments on the joys of home schooling and how I don't know anything about it. That's true, I don't. Two of my favorite bloggers home school. I'm only giving an account of my personal and very limited experience with home schoolers.

Yea, they were home-schooled by her husband who was a stay-at-home dad. They had absolutely no contact with other children. Palmer once told me how she told the lady across the street to keep their kids home since they were a bad influence. The Palmers went to a Korean Baptist Church - the Palmers are not Korean and one of the sons told me that most of the kids there don't speak English. In the Ft. Huachuca area, if you don't have cable, you don't have TV - the mountains are too close and there's no reception. They didn't have cable and other then the occasional Disney rental, they had no TV.

From what I've read around the web, I hear that home schoolers have a reputation for limited social contact and being very sheltered, but even this was taking it to the extreme. I always figured those poor boys were going to end up in a watch tower with a rifle when they got the culture shock of experiencing the real world for the first time. They'd be about 21 and 24 now. I wonder what's become of them.

So there you have it. My last experience with a crazy Army person. There are other crazy experiences/people I encountered in my brief time in the military but those are for another day.

So happy to be out, Ruth!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Around The Internets

I've been seeing some really great stuff online lately...

New Blogger - go say hi!
Knitting With Dogs

A very impassioned piece from Keith Oberman. Love that guy! In this segment, he appears to be near tears a couple of times. As many times as I've watched him, I've never seen him like that. It's here.

A custom poem made for kmkat. She won it! It's a very moving bit of writing. I'm always envious of people that can write in such a way as to provoke actual emotion. The most I can manage to provoke is annoyance.

Candidates facing off. Hysterical!

An origin of the Pop Goes the Weasel nursery rhyme. And a follow-up.

Wasting time on the web, Ruth!

Monday, November 10, 2008

SP13 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I've become a bit of a fiber snob over the years and only like natural fibers. I've been in yarn swaps where my upstream partner said they only have access to the big craft stores and I've replied, "Really? Because you're online and there's tons of stuff online!" (What a snot I am, right? In real life, I was a bit more diplomatic.) I don't care for mohair or anything scratchy. I don't need any felting stuff.

Also, not likin' the cobweb yarn. I've got 3 or 4 skeins of the stuff and I just don't like working with it. I love lace knitting but only if it's in a weight of 28sts = 4" or more! I don't really have any use for wraps/stoles but I like lace knitting in socks, sweaters, scarves, etc. Know what I mean?

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I have a cardboard wine tube ($2 at Michael's!) that I store my old bamboo straights in, a fabric needle roll for some of my DPN's, and my other DPN's kind of roll around in a plastic bin full of knitting notions. I have a set of KnitPicks options (metal) in their little "book" thingy, a set of KnitPicks metal DPN's (US 0-3) in the case they came in and a ton of addi turbos in a Brown Sheep Company holder that makes me think of a CD case.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I learned in the summer of 2003 and my friend taught me. She's a midwife and I'm forever grateful! I feel I'm pretty advanced.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Etsy wish list
Amazon wish list

5. What's your favorite scent?

I like fresh, citrusy stuff. Grapefruit - love grapefruit! I don't burn candles but I love soap and body stuff.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

I'm a fiend for sugar. Chocolate Riesen - well, chocolate anything really! I also love to try homemade sweets (cookies, sweet bread, whatever). And jam, love interesting jams.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I don't spin. I used to cross-stitch but I've got a huge, dusty, ignored bin of that stuff. I only knit now.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I'm pretty much wide open here. I've got everything from country to rock to classic rock, blues (love the blues), alternative, some classical. I have an iPod.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

Again, pretty much wide open. I prefer dark and jewel tones. I don't like pastels, and I'm not a fan of yellow, orange or purple.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

One husband (for now - jk!), 2 little guys (7 and 5) and a cat.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

All except ponchos.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Again, I'm all over the place here. Socks, scarves, mitts, hats, sweaters, wraps. I don't do blankets and I don't do too many wraps.

13. What are you knitting right now?

How much time do you have? I'm almost done with a Pimlico Shrug. I've got 2 sweaters on neeldes (one for me, one for my husband), btw 3-5 socks, an Icarus (in waiting), a shrug I'm designing and don't even get me started on the WIP's in the Closet of No Return. I'm planning to start some serious Xmas knitting (3 hats, one bath mat, 4 pairs of slippers).

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?


15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

I'm pretty well set for needles. I prefer metal circulars and am completely addicted to my KnitPicks Options. That being said, I wouldn't mind trying some of their Harmony tips for my set! And I can always use a couple of extra cables (I use mostly the 32"ers) as I'm addicted to knitting but not as addicted to finishing anything as I out to be.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

yes, both

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

I'd have to dig through the Closet of No Return but the one that jumps off the top of my head is about 2 years old. There's probably some older then that stuffed away in there, though.

18. What is your favorite holiday? What winter holiday do you observe?

We are NOT religious but we do Christmasy stuff. My favorite holiday is Halloween and my birthday (which I'm hoping the new president will make a national holiday).

19. Is there anything that you collect?

Hand-dyed sock yarn. Well, yarn in general.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I have no Wollmeise or STR. The STR I've been eyeing - Nodding Violet and Typhoon Tina, anything from the Raven Clan - any weight!

Oooh and Malabrigo! Malabrigo anything (but laceweight) and I've heard/seen around the web that new Malabrigo sock yarn. *drool*

I don't have subscriptions to the only mags I read - Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits. I used to just use the 40% off coupons from the Sunday paper but recently, they stopped letting you use them on books/mags - drat!

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Not that I can think of.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

I like to think I am! Despite some 30 skeins of sock yarn (and so many sock WIP's), I have yet to finish one! Still collecting...

toe to heel - 10"; arch circumference - 9"; base of the toes/pad of the foot circumference - 8"; ankle - 9.5"
I wear a US 8.5 or 9 shoe. Surprisingly big feet for someone of my stature (5'2").

23. When is your birthday?


24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?


I'm adding my own questions here:

25. Are you in any Sock of the Month clubs?

I'm in Scout Swag and the Nefarious Yarn Clubs.

26. Anything else?

I have a cat and I keep it away from my yarn. Obviously, it doesn't live in a big hamster ball and is near things I'm actually working on but any other yarn is safely sequestered in bins behind the closed door to the basement.

I loathe anything smoky. Cigarette smoke, smoked meat, smoked cheese - barf!

I'd love to see what you have around your area. Whether it's edible or yarnible things, I love local stuff!

Forever addicted to swaps, Ruth!

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Little Political Foofaraw

I'm not a political person. I have, as you know, many opinions but I don't follow politics like I should. Hell, I get most of my news from The Daily Show and Boston Legal.

Here's some opinions, nonetheless...

I was joking with Dave that since Sarah Palin was in the spotlight so much and some of the idiot things that came out of her mouth, I wondered whether she'd even be re-elected as Governor of Alaska! He reminded me of the fact that Alaskans just re-elected a convicted felon to the Senate. Now, I'm no genius and I say idiot things all the time but I'm a bit baffled by this. Isn't it illegal for convicted felons to vote? Then shouldn't it be even more illegal for them to be elected to office? (See, idiot things - "more illegal"?? Is that like more pregnant or more dead? sigh) And if it's illegal for felons to vote, how can he even do his job as a Senator as? I mean, isn't a huge part of being a Senator voting on things on a national level?

Here's another thing I don't get and this applies to Congress as a whole, not just Ted Stevens, but he's an excellent example. I think there should be a limit to the amount of times someone can get re-elected to Congress. I don't think people should be able to be re-elected until they DIE. Ted Stevens is 84 and according to Wikipedia's article about him, he's been a Senator for 40 years!! WTF? This may be age-ist but I don't want people driving a car past 80, much less driving our country. Strom Thurmond left office at age 100, after having been in office over 47 years! Both of those men have/had been in office longer then I've been alive. Again, maybe I'm being age-ist but I feel there's something wrong with that.

I also feel that when you have someone so firmly entrenched, they get complaisant, set in their ways, and lazy. I don't want a quick turnaround, because you need some training and experience in the position to be really effective. I think 10 years, 12 max, should be plenty. And don't even get me started on the BS that is their self-voted lifetime pay and health benefits. Again, I say - WTF?

And speaking of term limits, let's go presidential. Have y'all read The Daily Show's book called America? I highly recommend it. Despite being a great laugh, it's got some very interesting points in there (and I'm not talking about the naked pic's of the Supreme Court). One piece (I believe it's a Stephen Colbert contribution) talks about how the President of the United States spends 2 years being president, then another 2 years trying to get re-elected. I'd never thought about it like that before I read this piece but it's sadly and entirely true. I think one 6 year term, no repeats, should suffice.

I also like the way Canada does it. The link is to the Harlot's description of how they manage their Prime Minister position - it's at the bottom of that post in the PPS. I think that makes the most sense of any political process I've ever heard.

In our town, we had 3 bonds on the ballot that didn't get passed. 2 were for more schools - so we could stop this year-round nonsense and have enough schools to accommodate the children in this state. The third was for a bigger, better library.

OK, our library is pretty good and maybe we don't really need a whole cultural center in our smallish town. But we definitely need those extra schools. I heard people say things like, "Doesn't matter to me, my kids go to private school" and "I don't even have kids! What do I care?" Here's the scoop - these kids that "don't effect" you are citizens in your community. If they don't have proper schools and great places to hang out after school, they will be hooligans and grow up to be bad citizens. I can't believe people don't get that.

Trying to pay more attention to politics, Ruth!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Hope everyone got a chance to vote yesterday.

Pretty exciting times, right? I was very impressed with the dignity and grace of McCain's concession speech. And Obama was inspiring as usual. And the Daily Show/Colbert Report coverage was excellent!

Some kid in my 7 year old's class keeps saying things like, "If Obama wins, he's going to make America change it's name" and "If Obama wins, he's going to take all the guns away from the Army." I told my son to tell him, "The president can't do anything without the approval of Congress." Silly impressionable children!

I'm especially excited to realize the ads and slander and signs are all coming down. There were 2 women who's ads in Denver were getting so vicious against each other that I wouldn't have voted for either of them, given the chance. It really chaps my hide that I had to sit through all that shit-slinging and they weren't even on our ballots here in little, ol' Parker! Not that TV can filter that way but wouldn't it be nice? (jealous of those with TIVO!)

Glad the campaigning is over, Ruth!