Thursday, January 28, 2010

H is for Hockey

T has finally lost a front tooth! We tease him saying he looks like a hockey player...

I think it makes him look 2 years younger then he actually is and then I remember how tall he's getting. He is already up to my throat!

We've always teased T about loving hockey. When he was about 18 months old, I came out of the kitchen and saw him standing in the living room with the remote in his hands. I looked at the TV and got the remote away from him. He was one click away from ordering a $200 season package of hockey!

When we got our next bill, apparently the little monkey had gotten far enough that they were charging us and we had to call and wrangle the cable people out of charging us. They charged us for 1/2 the season and we made T watch every one of those games with us! Not that I mind, my dad used to get us season tickets to the minor league team in Fresno (the Fresno Falcons).

Now that T looks the part, we tell him we're going to get him some skates and send him into a game. That's not too far off either - the school had a skate night last night and we took the boys. They had an excellent time! Especially Davis - he was a fearless, little champ out there. Trev took a pretty hard fall (his butt landed right on a skate wheel) so he was a lot more trepidatious but, then, he always is when it comes to physical feats. Anyway, we saw a flyer for a class/league where they learn how to rollerblade and also how to play inline hockey. We talked to the boys about it and they start today! (Need to look in to more health/dental insurance...)

I've always loved hockey, Ruth!

Monday, January 25, 2010

G is for Gullible

Well, it's been almost 2 years now and I still haven't left Basic Training with my Military Monday nonsense (if you want to catch up, there's like 13 with the label of Military Monday). Hell, I only spent 5 years total in the Army! I promise I'll wrap up BT soon and move on to the next phase of my short military career. There's about 2 or three more posts I want to write out about BT and then... done. Theoretically. Y'all know how I am about making sweeping statements that rarely come to fruition.


As the name implies, Basic Training is all about training new recruits about Basic Army skills. While most of this training takes place outside, some of it takes place in a classroom. Learning to read a map, learning the rules and regulations in the Army (that was a fun one - riiiiight), memorizing a lot of the Army Manual (I still have mine somewhere!), stuff like that. It's a nice break from the outside stuff but it's all deadly boring.

Here's a pic of me (in my lovely Army glasses) in our classroom next to my friend Amy and we are learning to read maps...

If you look closely you'll see that I am dead asleep. Can you tell? As I may've mentioned, you don't get a lot of sleep in BT, so you catch it where and when you can. I discovered that I could prop my head up, rest my pencil in my other hand and it looked like I was taking notes but I was actually sleeping rather soundly!

I also found out that while "making my bed", I could lay underneath it, hook my hands in the springs of the cot and it looked like I was tucking in the bedclothes when I was actually napping.

I kept trying to find a way to sleep while walking/marching but never did master that - kept running into trees.

One evening, we were all gathered in the classroom for something and DS McCoy was telling Army stories and then she wanted each of us to take a turn and tell why we joined the Army. We went around the room, telling our stories and when it came time for Ms. Shitty #2 to tell hers, we were laughing so hard we were all in tears.

I don't remember what her story of joining the Army was about but I'll never forget what she told us about her first impressions of our barracks. For some reason, she had got it into her head that after Reception, we were to be bussed out to our barracks (true enough) and when we got there, there was going to be this brass band playing National Anthems and tables with cookies and punch!

We were dying laughing at this. Even DS McCoy was cracking up! She asked Ms. S whatever gave her that idea? Did a recruiter tell her that?? Ms. S said she had no idea where she came up with that but she was convinced it was true. I imagine Shock Treatment was a bit more of a shock to her then to any of us!

After we'd all had a turn telling our story, I asked DS McCoy what her story was. There were gasps and an awkward hushed silence. I looked around like, "What? We told ours!" but everyone seemed stunned I would ask such a personal question to a DS. (I did stuff like that a lot. Probably still do.)

Surprisingly, DS told her story. She said she was rushing for a sorority and one of the things they made her and her friends do was to go to the Army recruiting office and take the get-into-the-Army ASVAB test. She said her friends were smart enough to fail the test on purpose but she was an overachiever (always had been), did her best and got a really high score. She said the recruiter told her with taking the test and getting a high score, she had to join the Army. She didn't know any better (about how much recruiters lie) and so she joined.

So now we are all laughing again. Trying desperately not to, but can't help ourselves. After a minute or two watching our red faces, she says, "It's OK. Y'all can laugh. I laugh about it myself these days. I was young and dumb and didn't know any better." So we all cracked up and she laughed right along with us!

That was one of the best times I had in BT. Telling/listening to those stories and laughing like that.

Still trying to recover the sleep I lost in BT, Ruth!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

F is for Flag

Did I ever tell y'all I was on the Flag team in Jr. High and High School? It's true. Here's my tale (grab a snack)....

So there I was...

In 6th grade, they gave the students an option to pick and learn an instrument. I wanted to learn piano but apparently, it had to be an instrument you could carry. Mom said an unequivocal NO to drums so I picked the flute. I played flute in 6th grade then on through Jr. High (7th and 8th grade where I lived).

I use the word "play" rather loosely. I didn't study and I never got very good at reading music but I played by ear fairly well. I'd read music just enough to learn/memorize the piece and that would be it. I never got past 4th chair but I was never in the back either.

In 8th grade, the band gave the girls the option to try out for the flag team. The flag team in 8th grade wasn't much of a job. We'd put together routines to the music the band was playing and we got to be in front when we marched in the parades. It was a way for me to be an even bigger slacker in the actual band and to still hang out with my band friends. It was also a lot of fun.

Then High School came around. I completely chickened out on trying out for the dance team in the Band and waited for the flag tryouts (stick with what I knew, right?). I helped my best friend, Nikie, make the dance team (had the whole dance memorized and just practiced with her) but was still determined to only tryout for flag. I can't remember why but you couldn't tryout for both.

Anyway, in a crushing blow, I didn't make the team! I was told I was really great but they had to have a certain # of spots held for the people already on the team (sophomores, jr.s, sr.s). I was told I would be a first alternate. I asked what that meant and it meant if somebody decided they didn't want to be on the team or moved or something, then I was in.

The summer between 8th and 9th grade flew past and a month before it ended I got a phone call from one of the Band moms. She asked if I was still playing the flute and did I want to be at Band Camp the next day. I said I didn't play anymore but that I was told I was a first alternate for the flag team and did that mean anything. She said she didn't know but I should show up anyway. So I did!

I spent the whole month at Band Camp. Not nearly as fun as it sounds. Band Camp at Clovis High School means you show up to the baseball field every day for a month and sweat your ass off in the hot Clovis, CA sun learning the placements/music/routines that will be used throughout the year for competitions and half-time shows.

I learned all the routines. I was a stand-in whenever anyone needed a break (or got heat-stroke) and that meant I learned every possible position on the field. Persistent little bitch that I am, by the time the month was over, I was on the team.

Freshman year, I was actually in a lot of the competitions/half-time shows. We flew to Indianapolis, Indiana for Nationals that year. We got 12th place - not so hot. But it was an amazing, fun trip! Nikie and I (and the 4 other freshman auxillary team members) had the job of switching out the props/flags/etc. during the show at Nationals. Whoopee.

Also, being in the band meant you spent the first half of the school year on a big smelly greyhound type bus, travelling around for competitions. Band was pretty big at my High School. We were the Clovis High Golden Cougar Marching Band and we had a separate semi diesel truck that was as big as our name to haul all the band gear/instruments/uniforms/you-name-it. It was called the Blue Goose and it broke down a lot. To make it even more fun, Band took up two periods of your school day so we all took summer school to make up classes. But it was TOTALLY worth it! Some of the best times I had in High School... band trips.

My freshman year was also the only time we attempted "Winter Guard". That's competition just for the auxillary teams. Our drum major (Chris Henrichs - where are you?) really wanted to give it a go and the school told him that we could but they wouldn't give us any money. We made our own costumes, had practices in the gym nearly every day and paid our own entry fees. To say Chris was a perfectionist would be to say the Pope is a little bit Catholic. We never did the same routine twice and we never really finished it. He was never quite satisfied with what he'd come up with or what we did. He was in one of the big professional Drum and Bugle Corps in California (California Dons? The Blue Devils? I think he did both) and he was amazing.

He taught us all kinds of tosses that we'd never attempted before and perfected the ones we did know. The single toss (no looking up... toss and catch while looking straight ahead), the double toss (toss on 1, look 2, look forward/catch on 3), the 2 & 1/2 (toss on 1, look on 3, look forward/catch on 4) and the helicopter toss (it spins over your head, parallel with the ground). For the 2 & 1/2 and the helicopter, we had to attach weights to the top of our pole so it would have the proper torque to make the turns.

I got injured on every single toss. The single, I wrapped the back of my knuckles good and hard, the double I bruised my palm (Chris made us catch it hard so it looked super sharp and practically vibrated the pole), the helicopter landed right on the soft spot at the top of my skull and I sat down hard, trying not to cry. The worst injury I had was with the 2 & 1/2. Toss on one, look on threeOhShitHereItIs - I looked up just in time to see the tip of the pole spearing down at me and it hit me right below my eye on my cheekbone. Still didn't cry but it hurt like a mother.

What other adventures... let's see.... Should I tell you about my friend Tiffany Mount? She was also in one of the professional corps. At the end of the competitions, the bands would all be on the field in formation for the ever-so-long handing out of the awards. Tiffany was hypoglycemic and she'd often forget to eat a little something before going out on the field for awards ceremonies. One time we saw her starting to sway. We knew what was coming and it was particularly bad since she had this 8 foot pole with a tip-to-top flag on it. We were joking that she was going to be picked up by a gust of wind and blow away. If only. She passed out. Not only did she pass out but she took out a drummer on her way down. Clocked him with that giant pole and knocked him cold!

Then there's the time when I was a sophomore and we had a girl get really sick so a freshman who'd never actually been on the field had to take her place. During practices, the freshman had always been on the other side of the field and this particular part of the half-time show, her half of the field is moving forward while the other side is moving backward. When that time came, she went forward, as practiced. We're all whisper shouting to her and when she saw her mistake, she started laughing. She was laughing so hard, she just sat on the field and literally peed her pants. Luckily, it had rained that day and the field was a soggy muddy mess so no one could really tell.

Sophomore year, I tried out for and made the dance team in the band. We were in the Rose Bowl Parade that year!

Here's a pic of Nikie and I coming in from practicing in the rain in L.A. while waiting to be in the Parade the next day....

I'm on the left. I remember we were so pissed that the Band powers that be made us practice in the pouring rain! I also remember a reporter from the Fresno Bee came up and spent the night with us (in the school gym where we were staying - no hotel rooms for band!). A band mom came and kicked the reporter's sleeping bag (with the reporter still in it!) and barked at her to get out of the aisle. We said, "Hey, she's an adult! You probably shouldn't treat her like you treat us." The reporter put my picture on the front page of the Bee (although it might've just been the front page of the Lifestyle section - I can't remember). It was pretty cool! She took it when we were out practicing in the rain. We were in a football field (of the school where we slept), practicing our half-time show. The routine starts with the dancers facing back-field and when the music starts (BOOM), we turn and stick our jazz hand in the air and smile. She said she took my pic because I was the only one who smiled every time.

So next question.... If we were on the dance team, why are we carrying flags? There was some rule or decision or whatever that all the auxillary would do a flag routine for the Rose Bowl Parade. As the dance team, we were pretty pissed about it, but what could we do?

The parade was... surreal. We get up at oh-god-thirty in the morning and get to the parade site. Get in formation, walk about a block, turn a corner and that's where the judges stand is, then walk another 5 miles. We put Vaseline on the bottoms of our feet because it keeps your feet from slipping around in your shoes and that means no blisters. Also on our teeth so they don't dry out from smiling. We weren't allowed to eat or drink before the parade because there wouldn't be any bathroom breaks. And 90% of the spectators had spent the night in their spots. Spent the night but not asleep. Most were drunk beyond drunk and some would offer us drinks or offer us food by throwing cookies at us. Gooooood times.

My junior year, our dance coach got an opportunity to start a dance company at the school, outside the band. We all jumped on it and that's what I did junior and senior year.

I'm sure I've got a million other band stories but this post is long enough. I do want to show you one other thing....

About 2 months ago, I started working out at the free rec centers where I live. I have been listening to music that occurred to me would make great music for choreographing flag routines. (It's not band music.) Once I got the idea in my head, I couldn't get it out. A month ago, I went online and bought a flag. It wasn't expensive (although the shipping cost as much as the actual flag!) and I thought it would be much more fun for working my arms then lifting boring weights.

The rec center I go to has a full-sized indoor soccer field and I am in there 4 days a week, after I do my cardio, with my flag and my ipod. It is SO much fun! My husband can't stop laughing at me but I so don't even care!

People (including me) toss their kids into that field with a ball or two while they work out and I have this strange, small audience. Particularly two girls (7 or 8 years old) that come a'runnin' every time they see me. They sit in front of me Indian-style and just watch. It's a bit weird and I always tell them to move back as sometimes when I'm doing tosses, it gets away from me.

I'm having complete cellular memory with my flag and I'm also getting a couple of the same injuries. I've whacked my hand a couple times and I've also taken a couple of good head shots. Still hurts like a sonovabitch, just like I remember! But it is more fun then a bag of cats and my arms are starting to show results so, what the hell!

Flying my geek flag high, Ruth!

Friday, January 15, 2010

E is for Eyelashes

As I've mentioned in the past, I'm a BuzzAgent. This means that from time to time I get to try out new products for free (they call these try-outs "campaigns"). I try out the products and give my opinions and the opinions of my friends about said products.

Right now I'm in a campaign for L'Oreal Lash Serum. They sent me a tube of the stuff along with a tube of L'Oreal Double Extend (with Lash Boosting Serum) Mascara. I'm to put the Lash Serum along the base of and along my top eyelashes for 4 weeks. It's supposed to make my lashes look "fortified". I'm very interested to see what fortified lashes look like. I know how "longer", "thicker", and "fuller" lashes are supposed to look but I don't really know how lashes can look "fortified.

Anyway, I'm to take naked lash before and after pic's. Here's the before...

Probably should've tried to get the brows under control before I had Dave take these super-close-up shots but... I didn't. You're welcome.

I'm halfway through my 4 weeks so I'll post the after pic's later.

I also went for my twice yearly haircut and color shenanigans. As y'all know, I hate getting my hair done. It's a pain in the butt and even though I have an amazing hairdresser, I still don't like sitting in the chair for over an hour getting my hair fussed with.

My hairdresser always asks if I want her to blow dry/fix my hair when we are done and I always say no. I don't fix my hair at home and I don't think I even own a blow-dryer (unless there's one with my craft stuff) so why take another 1/2 hour off my knitting life sitting in the hair chair.

This time she tricked me. She was engaging me in a lovely conversation and I didn't even notice she was blowdrying my hair until she was half-way done styling it. She moussed, gelled, finger-curled and blow-dryed my hair for over half an hour! When she was done she said I had "Victoria Secret Model's hair". I don't know about that but it was fairly large and diva-ish.

I had Dave take a pic when I got home. If for no other reason then to prove to myself why I really don't do anything with my hair. In the 30 minutes it took me to get home, my hair was 1/3 as big as when I left the salon....

To me it doesn't look Victoria Secret Model hair anymore as much as it looks shaggy stoner chick hair. The only time my hair ever held a style easily was, sadly, in the 80's. I shared a pic of that awhile back. It's here. Again, you're welcome.

I do love this new color though. It's much closer to my real hair color but with more depth and some of the red that I love. Last time it was a bit too light.

Anyone else out there hate having their hair done or is it just me?

Feelin' shaggy but pretty, Ruth!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

D is for Dead

You may or may not remember but xmas before last I made these ribbed slippers for all the men in my family (both large and small).

I did a little finagling on the toes of the boys' slippers so I could remove and replace them easily as little feet grew. Turns out, it wasn't an issue.

After just a few days, the boys were pulling what they called "slipper snot" out of the slippers and after about two months, Dave and the boys had large holes in the heels of their slippers.

Seems I shouldn't have used alpaca for something that was going to be walked on and I ended up with 3 pairs of Dead Slippers.

Dave still wears his. I threw out the ones I made for T and D2. I keep trying to throw Dave's out but he won't let me. They have these HUGE holes in the heels but he says they still keep his feet warm. I've got some leftover alpaca from making his so I'm going to make patches for the holes and probably give them a go through the washing machine to felt them a little (they were a bit large anyway).

I'm going to make more for the boys. Or so I plan. It's been a year since the untimely demise of their first set and I've yet to settle on an appropriate yarn. I was going to buy the Big Wool it calls for in the pattern (actually Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky Handdyes - pretty much the same thing) but I'm afraid they'll end up the same as the alpaca - holes felted right through.

I'm thinking I'm just going to go Berroco Comfort. It's cheap, it's in a range of colors and it's really soft, nice... acrylic. I don't have a problem using acrylic for these slippers. They won't felt holes into themselves and I can throw them in the washer/dryer for cleaning! The only thing I am worried about is if they'll be warm enough. I'll have to double the Comfort to get the bulky gauge so I think it'll be OK.

Any suggestions?

Y'all know how I love a good rib, Ruth!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

C is for Cable

Try not to be too stunned that I'm actually blogging about knitting on my knitting blog.

And try not to be too blinded by my pale skin...

These are the Kumara Bed Socks from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2009 (scroll down the link).
Yarn: Malabrigo azul profundo Worsted (less then one skein)
Needles: US 8
Mods: None! I even knit them one at a time! (Magic Loop, of course.)

I adore these socks. I love them with a passion that shall not be named. My love spans many leagues and several reasons.

Reason the First:
I was rooting around in my stash and found not one but TWO skeins of this beautiful dark blue Malabrigo. I have no idea where they came from. I didn't buy them (Malabrigo. I would remember buying Malabrigo.), I didn't get them in a swap (did I mention it was Malabrigo? I'd remember receiving some Mal!). Apparently I have finally acquired so much yarn that it has begun breeding in the bins. And begetting quite lovely children!

Reason the Second:
This pattern? Worsted weight socks? I made these socks in SIX days. Six. Days. I could've finished them in 4 but I had to relearn the Kitchener Stitch (again) and on the last cable of the last sock, I lost my cable needle. Poof! I was so desperate to finish them, I used one of my naked Stitch Savers as a cable needle (as much as I like selling my Stitch Savers, I don't recommend this activity). Tell me again why ALL socks aren't knit in worsted weight? Oh. Yea. That whole "I want my shoes to fit over my socks" business. Whiners.

Reason the Third:
Did I mention the Malabrigo??

Reason the Last:
The pattern had very little stockinette stitch.

I have been plugging away on Dave's sweater for a little over a year now. And by "plugging away" I mean I work on it for as long as I can stand the endless stockinette before it makes me nauseous and irritated and I throw it in a corner for a few weeks here and there. Stockinette in the round on size US 7 needles. Sometimes, while I'm working on it, I have to jab myself in the eye with those needles just to keep from falling asleep with the boredom of it.

It doesn't help that I like my guys big. You know...
Have-To-Throw-A-Rope-On-'Em-And-Climb-Up Big. That means the body is 17" of stockinette (to the armpits) and the arms are 'round about another 15" of stockinette. Each. At least it's in the round!

Anyway, this pattern is a lovely mix of cables with a few lacy yarn-overs thrown in and it's still an incredibly easily memorized, easily made pattern! This pattern makes me so happy, I'm considering making a few pair for xmas presents this year! I probably would, too, but I'm a greedy Malabrigo hoar and I'd probably substitute some basic Cascade 220 or something equally good-but-not-Mal-good and then I'd feel all guilty. So, truthfully, I probably won't.

I borrowed this mag from a friend and I should probably spring for it and go get myself a copy! But there's not too much else in there that makes me want to spend $15.99 on this mag. Yes. it's SIXTEEN dollars! For a magazine. Granted, there's about 30 patterns in there but I think I'll wait until IWK puts the patterns out individually and just buy the Kumara pattern. But then I'd be spending, what... $5 or $6 for one pattern? Still debating....

Walking around with happy and toasty toes, Ruth!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

B is for Beat

This is my third annual Alphabet Soup (started in the last post, obviously).

I kind of toyed with making it an all video Alphabet Soup but that seemed a bit of a cop-out. OK, yes, it would've been a complete cop-out!

So, not all video but I couldn't resist throwing this one in. It's described as:
Tim Minchin's brilliant & witty demolition of irrationality in all its many guises - with rolling text from me -all in the medium of a 9-minute beat poem.
and I think it's quite clever.


If you'd like to see him actually perform it, it's here. I've chosen to post the written video of it here since his accent is a bit difficult at times and I want y'all to get the full effect. Love him!

Wishing I were that clever, Ruth!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A is for Animals

Post before last, I threw in a little word riddle. Obviously you are all smarter then Dave and I because we couldn't get it. I should've had you raise your hand if you didn't get it!

The answer, of course, is that all the words are homonyms for animals...

Hoarse/Horse, Mousse/Moose, Guerrilla/Gorilla, Links/Lynx, Bare/Bear

Now, as I said, about five years ago, Dave and I were in the book store with this book of logic puzzles and we came across this one. We couldn't figure it out and we were laughing about it. We turned to the back of the book for the answer but we couldn't find the answer and that made us laugh even harder. We felt that if we couldn't even find the answers they gave to the puzzles, we should put the book of logic down and back away before we hurt ourselves!

Have you ever had something strike you as funny and you just can't stop laughing at it? That's what happened to us with this stupid little book.

We finally found the answer and said, "Of course!"

I said, "Even if I got some of them, the Links/Lynx thing would've thrown me because you don't often hear about that animal."

Dave said, "No, I got that one but what's a Bear?"

I was laughing so damn hard, I couldn't breathe but finally said, "A BEAR??!!" And then it dawned on him what he'd just asked about and we about died laughing.

We still use that line whenever one of us asks a bonehead question, "A bear?"

Just last week I was talking about a friend's pet and said, "She still needs to get it spayed." and Dave said, "She's buying it a shovel?"

I looked at him in confusion and he said, "Spayed. A Spade. You know... a Bear?"

It still makes us laugh!

I've always thought one of the best things about having an SO (besides someone to scratch that middle part of your back you can never reach yourself) is the little private jokes you share. It's so nice to be able to say something stupid and the other person totally knows what you're talking about and gets it. Gets you.

Off Bear-hunting, Ruth!