Monthly Archives: December 2007

Pollyanna out on a WIP limb

Lyda here. First, if ya’ll didn’t yet read Anna-Liza’s post about the Goo of Doom, scroll down and read it. No, your cat didn’t eat it, it’s still down there, and funny as hell. And here I’ve been complaining about our cold weather here in sunny So Cal. Heh!

I have to confess, I have a lot of catching up to do in the “reading everyone’s blogs” department. The sun was in my eyes! A friend came in from out of town! My car ran out of gas! It wasn’t my fault! The Resident Sith Master has been using the Cosmic Innernetting for video games, and I’ve been content to sit and watch and maybe do a bit of knitting…

Ah, knitting. I’ve been working on the baby blanket in a sort of “pick it up, knit a row, put it down” kind of way. But my knitting enthusiasm is starting to come back, so soon I’ll make it through the second skein and into the third.

The irony of knitting a baby blanket as I recover from my hysterectomy is not lost on me. But ya’ll know, there are plenty of babies in the world who need blankets. But I digress…

Ya’ll want to hear about the NEW knitting project, yes?! That’s what I thought.

A friend gave me a gift certificate, so yesterday, I went to JoAnn’s for fabric for the Frog Prince Quilt. I have decided that the other fabric I purchased to finish the back is not going to work. I found a solid hunter green fabric with no formaldehyde that will work for part of the back of the Frog Prince Quilt. It is dark enough to make the other fabrics pop, always a good thing in a quilt.

And of course, I wandered into the yarn portion of the store. The Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn was on sale. I got two skeins each of the charcoal and Lumberjack Red (which is red and black twisted together, it will be interesting to see how it knits up). So now I can get to work on the scarf for Gorgeous and Available Engineer brother. Yes, this is his Christmas present. Yes, it’s going to be a bit late. Okay, a lot late. Trust me, the lateness will not surprise him. Or anyone who knows me. See “three years to make quilts for BFF’s sons.” His scarf will be much like the “Chuck Norris Bites Frost” scarf. But with a different name of course. Wow, that’s a lot of self-referencing. I think I get the prize, Marin.

My son goes to his dad’s tonight and will be there a week. Except he will be with me on New Year’s Day, because that’s my birthday. Yes, every year the whole world celebrates my birthday with parties, fireworks, and TV specials. Ya’ll enjoy my parades and football games. You’re welcome. Digression over.

So Monday will be a quilt extravaganza. I plan to get that quilt back pieced and sewn together and the quilt layers pinned together by the end of the day. Under the careful supervision of Tommy the Sith Apprentice cat, I’m sure.Then I can work on tying both quilts and then finishing the edges in the evenings.

Alternating it with knitting on the bro’s scarf.

And knitting the baby blanket.

Because apparently, the more WIPs, the better. That’s four. Four WIPs. Ahahaha. (Thunder.)

See, even though I haven’t done any quilting, and hardly any knitting, I can still talk as if I’m doing both. It’s a gift, ya’ll. 

Now I’d better go catch up reading your blogs… Did ya’ll miss me stalking you?

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Pollyanna and the Goo of Doom: a Christmas Story

Hey kids, Anna-Liza here.

We had a pretty mellow, easy Christmas this year. Having essentially a four-day weekend to celebrate had a lot to do with that!

We spent Saturday the 22nd at Darlin’ K’s aunt and uncle’s house–that was our big family celebration. We had a little difficulty getting up their driveway, as the snow had iced over in the shady spots and it’s a steep climb, but one of the cousins came down the hill and got us and we did not drop our car over the edge, so it was all good. I spent a little time showing AuntE and one of K’s cousins the fine art of needle felting. Cousin made a candy cane ornament and a couple of multicolored balls, but AuntE tried a more ambitious first project–a felted bowl and/or baby hat. It was made of some roving I’d Kool-Aid™ dyed last year. I think it turned out pretty nicely.

We had a lot of fun, just hanging out, eating, playing games. When we were leaving, I remarked to Darlin’ K that it had been the way family Christmases are supposed to be! But I have to say, I have been remarkably blessed in my family–very little in the way of family politics. We’re eccentric, not dysfunctional.

Sunday brought a visit to Darlin’ K’s grandmother, who is a darling and who made me feel welcome to the family very early in our dating. After spending the afternoon with her (and having some of her really excellent pumpkin pie), we took the kids to Casa Bonita.

I’ve managed to avoid never been to Casa Bonita in the nineteen years I’ve lived in Denverish. However, how many restaurants are there in the world that have been featured on South Park? We knew the kids would love it, and they’d been very, very good at their great-Grandma’s house, so off we went.

The kids did love it, and I had a pretty good time, too. We watched a magic show, a puppet show, some corny (and brief) melodrama, and the cliff divers. They got candy from a piñata, and Mr. B talked to Santa. (Mr. R preferred to check out Black Bart’s Cave, but decided halfway through that it was too scary).

I will say this–people talk about how bad the food is, but one cannot truly comprehend it until one has tasted it. I am no food snob–I eat at Dairy Queen® for goodness’ sake–but OMG that was the worst Mexican food I’ve had in my entire life. I am including the school cafeteria food of my childhood. Ewwww. Next time (and, knowing my kids, there will be a next time), I’ll pick something with less sauce. This is the first “Goo of Doom” referred to in the title of this post. ‘Nuf said.

The second “Goo of Doom” (Two! Two Goos of Doom! Ha ha ha ha! cue thunder) refers to my utterly failed attempts at candy making over the holiday weekend. I have traditionally made divinity at this time of year. It’s a fairly tricky kind of candy to make even in ideal conditions, and making candy at altitude has … interesting … complications, mainly due to the fact that things boil at lower temperatures here, and sugar syrups don’t always react predictably.

I tried twice, I failed twice. Both times I ended up with a large bowl of vanilla-walnut goo that refused to stiffen into actual divinity. Zombie Son had particularly requested divinity this year, and the goo tasted good (if intensely sweet), so I presented him with a plastic container of goo, and told him he could eat it with a spoon. I recommended he not eat it all at once, however. The second bowl of goo is in my kitchen as we speak, and I’ve had a few spoonfuls here and there. One spoonful makes a full dessert, so it will probably go in the trash before I get through it. Anyone out there want a tub of goo?

I did get my Christmas knitting done, but I forgot to get a picture before I gave it away! No fear, it was a set of fingerless mitts for Zombie Son, and I’m sure he won’t mind bringing them back so I can take a picture reasonably soon. I need one for my Ravelry notebook, as well as here.

I based them on the Irish Hiking Wrist Warmers, by Delia Rau. I altered her pattern in several ways. First, I knit them in the round to the thumb slit, then knit flat (still on DPNs) for the length of the slit, then joined in the round again for the finish. I made the ribbed portion a fair bit longer, and I made the ribbing between cables a 2p x 3k rib rather than 2×2. I also added a thumb gusset by picking up 24 stitches around the thumb slit and starting with 2×2 rib, then decreasing gradually to 1×1, then binding off. They’re ambidextrous (as is the original pattern), but they’ll give Zombie Son more warmth than the original when he’s out there gunning for bad guys–or good guys, depending on what game they’re playing–when he plays Airsoft. (He was recently voted “most fun player”).

edited to add: I should mention that I got the extremely snuggly yarn, Elsebeth Lavold Classic AL in Forest, at Sylvia’s House of Fuzzy Crack (aka Posh: A Yarn Boutique). If you follow the link before January 5th, you’ll notice that Sylvia’s having a big ol’ sale on January 5th through 7th–time to spend the Christmas money!

The weather has been sort of non-cooperative as far as getting out and doing stuff. We’ve had lows of around, well, zero, which is about 20 degrees below normal for this time of year. Tomorrow is supposed to hit 40°F for a high, which is quite a respite from the absolute ass-freezing we’ve been getting for several weeks now. As a result, we didn’t go anywhere on Christmas Day itself–we stayed in and stayed in our pajamas, watched the kids open their gifts, and enjoyed the company of Zombie Son and some friends who came over with their kids for a while. (Knitting Sprite had a packed day between her dad and her boyfriend’s parents, so she didn’t make it on the day. Not a problem–we’ll get together soon).

So once again, Joyful Midwinter Holidays to you, and what are you thinking of doing for New Year’s? Darlin’ K may or may not have a firespinning gig, so we’re still not sure of our plans. I suspect they will involve staying up late at home with the kids, but I don’t want to make you jealous of my exciting, exotic social life!

Pollyanna’s Friends Make the Season Bright

Lyda here. I’ve been enjoying my last week of freedom  leisure  recovery before I return to work. And spending as much time as possible with the Resident Sith Master, which is my real holiday treat.

So, how were/are your holidays? Did Santa bring you the yarn of your dreams?

My stash basket already runneth over, with yarn of incredible provenance. AntiM yarn! BFF yarn! KarenM yarn! The yarn from KarenM is becoming a baby blanket, and I’m loving knitting up this soft colorful yarn. And plotting the next project, now that I’m off medication and can count again…

The Resident Sith Master gave me a copy of “Mort” by Terry Pratchett. Weirdly, I had not been able to find this particular Discworld book and had not read it yet. See, I told you it was weird. Of course I finished it the same day.

You know what? Humans are really an amazing and lovable species. No, really.

I have this one group of friends that I met them in one of my many previous work incarnations. Although I left that job long ago – four years? five? it’s all a blur – I got to keep the friends. We try to get together once a month or so for dinner and laughter and maybe a few drinks and, always, decadent desserts.

These friends designated one person to bring over some handmade, frozen meals for us after my surgery. Yummy and so very welcome. And then right before Christmas, two of them came over with gifts from the whole gang.

They were teasing me about how they drew straws to see who would deliver them, because they all knew I would cry. I’m pretty famous for crying. My son won’t look at me during a concert or graduation because he knows I’ll be crying with pride. Ya’ll, I cry during commercials, and not just sappy “home for the holidays” stuff. But I digress… They were right, of course, I got all misty-eyed and choked up. Okay, I cried. Just a bit.

But friends understand.

BFF has been calling regularly to check in on me, of course, and to make me laugh. And so have my siblings. My editor sent flowers and fruit. I just love saying “my editor.” My coworkers sent a card and a gift certificate. My son’s dad – my ex-husband, ya’ll! – drove Gorgeous and Available Engineer brother to the airport two hours away for his departing flight. Friends have been sending funny cards, and stopping by to check in on us, and calling.

My heart is full. My body is healing. And I’m learning to trust the Universe again.

Next time, more knitting news, and some Random Weirdness perhaps.

Ho ho ho, ya’ll.

It’s 4:04 a.m. Do You Know Where Pollyanna Is?

Pollyanna of the Rocky Mountains has just wrapped her last gift (including Christmas knitting, bound off and everything) and will shortly be collapsing into bed … for the two to three hours left before the kidlets get up. 

It’s totally worth it.

Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, and Joyful Midwinter Holiday of Your Choice. (And a good night’s sleep for all).

Pollyanna and the Random Weirdness of Humans, Canine Edition

Lyda here. As promised, more about dogs and the random weirdness of humans.

1) In the new Will Smith movie, “I Am Legend,” one of the main characters is a German Shepherd – a canine, not a herder from Germany. This movie – no plot spoilers here – got me to thinking about the relationship of humans and dogs.

Thus, this Weekly Random Weirdness of Humans post, Canine Edition.

Yes, I know it’s been more than a week since the last Random Weirdness post. Trying to re-establish normality, “as soon as we can determine what is normal anyway.” Heh. Name that quote. But I digress…

On with the human weirdness about canines.

2) TV and movie dogs include Rin Tin Tin , Lassie, and Asta of the Thin Man movies, of course. There are a gazillion others. Dogs steal the show.

3) Dogs were the first earth beings to go into space and come back alive. Even when exploring “the last frontier,” dogs went first.

4) Maybe because we’ve always counted on dogs to scout ahead. We’ve relied on their talents and companionship since prehistory. Dogs have been sleeping next to our fires since… well, since we’ve had fires.

5) Scientists believe that humans cannot take credit for domesticating dogs. This PBS NOVA program discusses the idea suggested by Raymond Coppinger, professor of biology at Hampshire College and coauthor of Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior & Evolution, that “wolves themselves chose domestication because of the easy pickings in Stone Age refuse dumps, where those animals that weren’t scared off by people had a better chance of finding food and surviving.”

Hanging around the humans was and is a successful survival strategy. Lucky for us humans.

6) That NOVA program also explores other traits – barking, floppy ears, curved tails – that scientists believe are linked to the trait of being more tolerant of human presence, less skittish, less aggressive. When a scientist bred foxes based on their tolerance of humans, in a few generations the foxes became… dog-like. Barking, floppy ears, curved tails, even changes in coloration.

Barking can be a big asset to humans. Barking warns of approaching enemies and predators. Unfortunately, dogs don’t always understand the difference between invading Mongol hordes and the mail carrier. And they sometimes get confused about who’s the alpha of the pack. Faulty training by humans, not the dog’s fault.

7) Prehistoric human groups with dogs could have been safer, more successful in the hunt, and more able to hold territory. As humans thrived and spread, we took dogs with us.

8.) Dogs are a brilliant evolutionary success. Maybe 50 million owned dogs in the U.S. alone. And they are remarkable in their plasticity – they alone of earth’s creatures come in so many shapes and sizes. Why? No one knows yet.

9) Seeing dogs as the social parasites they are, this scientist says, does not detract from their beauty nor diminish the love between the species. Seeing dogs clearly, instead of as furry humans, is better for us, and much better and healthier for dogs. Read this excerpt from Chapter 1: “The Irredeemable Weirdness of the Dog: An Introduction”, from The Truth About Dogs: An Inquiry Into the Ancestry, Social Conventions, Mental Habits, and Moral Fiber of Canis Familiaris by Stephen Budiansky.

10) There are dogs that work for a living. Here’s a slide show of dogs at work. But most dogs are pets, and spend their time loving their humans and waiting for us to play with them.

Dogs are such good companions – or such good social parasites – that people often forget that they are dogs, and treat them as furry people.

This is a disservice to the dogs.

They are better than that.

And unlike cats, they don’t rub our faces in their superiority.

No wonder we love them.

Pollyanna and the Zombie Patrol

Lyda here. Finally. Sorry for the delay in posting.

I’ve got a zombie sighting for ya’ll. And about bloody time.

We went to see a movie in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day. Very decadent, ya’ll.

We saw the new Will Smith movie, “I am Legend.” No plot spoilers, I promise.

Now, ya’ll know I loved this movie. They had me at “Will Smith battles zombies” – oh yeah!  But this movie does what really good science fiction, and in fact all good art, always does – it explores what it means to be human.

The secret appeal of zombies is – they are our dark side. They are drooling, decaying, disintigrating Mr. Hydes. Human bodies with the humanity gone. That is what makes them so creepy and so fascinating.

What makes us human? How do we hold on to our humanity, to the best parts of ourselves? How do we keep from giving in to despair and tedium? How do we keep on lighting a flame instead of cursing the darkness?

Humans need hope. And we need each other. Terry Pratchett writes about the importance of the Brownian motion of humans bumping up against each other. It keeps us sane, and human.

Fortunately for Will Smith’s character, he has a dog. And dogs are some of the most sane, most human beings on the planet. Ya’ll know.

See the movie. Don’t take the kids.

More about zombies, dogs, and the random weirdness of humans in the next post. I’m going back to bed. Where the Dread Cat Tommy lurks. Cats of course are not sane. There is no promise of actual sleep. Sigh.

Pollyanna sees the light at the end of the tunnel… train, WHAT TRAIN??

Lyda here. T plus 13 days and counting… Tomorrow it will be two weeks since the operation. I’m feeling enough better to be bored, but not enough to go back to work. Ya’ll should thank me for not sharing the details. Really.

So, I’ve been home for two weeks, napping and watching TV, sometimes at the same time. Of course, it’s hard not to nap through daytime TV. The construction next door continues, with lots of noise and vibration in our little apartment. Fun. The Resident Sith Master has been playing video games with me, which keeps me from going completely zonkers. But it’s a close thing.

Today I took pictures of the gift knitting (completed except for a scarf for Gorgeous and Available Engineer brother – for which I don’t even have the yarn yet, so I’m not sure that it will actually be completed in time for holiday gifting. But I digress…)  and the two Prince Quilts (still in progress – but no progess since the last report) with a disposable camera. The Dread Cat Tommy consented to be photographed with some of the projects, and the Resident Sith Master modeled a scarf or two. So, if I can scan the pics some day, there may be pictures to post. Ya’ll don’t hold your breath on that, ‘kay?

I’m continuing to knit the potential baby blanket – it keeps my hands busy, and doesn’t require counting or purling or anything complex like that. I’ve already frogged it once and started again, due to.. uh… technical difficulties. Yeah.

Meanwhile, back at the TV:

We watched “Last Action Hero” (1993) yesterday. This movie’s box office was terminated (ha ha) by “Jurassic Park,” but it’s a sleeper cult favorite, with a science-fiction twist to the action genre. It parodies action movies and Arnold (the star) – but is still full of over-the-top action sequences and corny lines. Austin O’Brian, the young actor playing the protagonist, is excellent. And he’s the right age to have played Anakin in “Star Wars: Episode II.” Sigh. If only… This was also Art Carney’s last film.

Tomorrow, hopefully a Random Weirdness post…