Sunday, November 30, 2008

Busy busy!

It's getting to be that crazy time of year! November and December are very busy for us. Not only do we have the winter holidays, but we also have a number of family birthdays as well. My Thanksgiving holiday started in a nice way when both kids arrived home on Tuesday evening. Then Wednesday after lunch my principal told us we could leave early on Wednesday. That was a relief because we had plans that night. When I got home I found a package from my new Secret Pal waiting for me! Here's what was in it:

First a beautiful mosaic tea candle holder and a bag of tea candles in Mexican Pumpkin scent which is spicy with cinnamon.

This went right on the family room coffee table.

Second, there were two skeins of Manos silk blend yarn in a beautiful olive green.

This yarn is destined to become a scarf!

Wednesday night evening Bird's friend Jack and his girlfriend Ally came over to go to the Caps game with us. Jack had gotten tickets that included a buffet in one of the clubs at the MCI Center. So we piled all six of us into my car and headed to DC. DH and I had our matching Caps Jerseys on:

My jersey, like most of the ones you see these days, has number 8 on it for Alexander Ovechkin. DH chose something more original:


Bird and Jack:

Ems and Ally:

And, of course, Bird two fisting beer!

It was a great game--especially since the Caps won!

On Thursday, we went to DH's brother's house for dinner in the afternoon. We had a great meal and enjoyed seeing family that we don't see too often. That night, we just hung out at home. Friday, I fixed a turkey dinner for us since we like leftovers and the kids wanted some to take back to Pittsburgh. We had a formal dinner in the dining room after which the kids headed back to the Burgh. Before leaving, we got into a jam session and Ems snapped this photo of me and DH rocking to the oldies:

Friday I also got a package from Webs which included this yarn that I have never used before:

That's a dozen skeins of Northfield by Valley Yarns which is 70% merino, 20% silk, and 10% cashmere. It feels incredibly soft. This is for the Baby Cables and Big Ones sweater. There was other yarn in the package, but it is for Christmas gifts so I cannot reveal what it is at this time!

Speaking of gifts--Our nephew's wife sent these pictures of baby Rupert in the sweater and hat I made for him. Isn't he a cutie?

It's back to the old grind tomorrow. The little kiddies get rather restless this time of year!

Bushism of the day:
"I think it was in the Rose Garden where I issued this brilliant statement: If I had a magic wand -- but the president doesn't have a magic wand. You just can't say, 'low gas.'" --George W. Bush, Washington D.C., July 15, 2008

Kitty cam: Mikey models the newest in E-Collars (Elizabethan Collars) for cats:

Unfortunately the other cats started making fun of him.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life with Mikey

This is Mikey:

Mikey has been keeping me busy the past few days. For those who don't know, Mikey is diabetic which typically means that he gets just a little extra care than the other kitties. Usually this just involves getting two insulin shots a day. Last Wednesday Mikey went to the vet for a blood test. Just like human diabetics, feline diabetics often have poor circulation. Being chubby doesn't help either. So the vet had to shave the inside of one of Mikey's legs and probe with the needle before finally hitting a vein. This is not unusual. What is unusual is that Sunday night, I noticed that Mikey was rather grumpy and somewhat lethargic. I couldn't figure out why. Monday night, he was clearly worse. Then I noticed a rather large abscess at the site of the blood test. It was totally gross. It had to hurt like the dickens! So Tuesday night, we went back to the vet. Because of the diabetes, the vet thought that the abscess should be cultured so that we didn't waste time determining the type of bacteria causing the infection--thus being able to pursue to correct type of antibiotics. Was I shocked to see that the culture was over $100! The total bill was $172. Boy, I wasn't prepared for that! He had the abscess drained, got a broad spectrum antibiotic injection and a pain killer. He was much better this morning and he actually ate--so I could give him his insulin which he hadn't gotten in over a day since he wasn't eating. He will return to the vet to be checked out again tomorrow. He's a funny kitty. Most cats hide after medical treatment. Mikey tolerates it well and will cuddle after as if he knows that I put him through it to make him feel better.

That's about the extent of the last few days. I've been knitting and will perhaps show some progress photos soon. I'm at the point on Silken Scabbard where I divide the sleeves and the body.

We've been having some snow flurries. The weather can be such a tease!

Bushism of the day
Keith Olbermann's Worser person addresses Mr. Bush's speaking abilities!

Kitty Cam: Harley's likes to act like royalty by sleeping on a pillow!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Secret Pal 13 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I love silk and silk blends, merino and alpaca. Merino and silk blends are particularly nice. My absolute faves are Handmaiden Double Sea or Great Big Sea. I do not like synthetics though I will tolerate viscose or microfiber in a cotton blend. I'm not fond of 100% cotton either

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have a shaker box for my straights and Addi circulars. I keep my double points in wine tubes and my interchangeables in their binder.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I've been knitting for over 40 years! My mom tried teaching me when I was a kid and she got frustrated with my stubbornness. I ended up teaching myself from a book. I would consider my skill level to be advanced.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
I have an Amazon wish list. It can be found in the sidebar of my blog.

5. What's your favorite scent?
It depends. I like unscented body products. For candles, I like food type scents--particularly spicy ones like apple cinnamon or citrus scents.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I love dark chocolate--especially if it has fruit or nuts in it. I indulge in a small amount of it daily!

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I do not spin. I sew a lot and I love designing garments. I make jewelry--both metal work and beaded jewelry. I dabble in woodwork and paper crafts as well. I love to cook and garden. I have a vegetable and herb garden. Fiber arts, though, are my first love.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
My computer does play MP3's. I like just about any kind of music except rap. I have rather eclectic taste.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I love earthy colors like rust, gold, orange, brown, olive green, sage green and teal. I also like periwinkle or dark purple. I absolutely do not wear pink or gray in any variety.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I am happily married and an empty nester. I have two grown kids--a boy and a girl. I also have 4 cats, who are now my babies and a water turtle.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I wear scarves a lot. I love hats but don't wear them too much. I wear gloves but not mittens. I don't wear ponchos, but I do like shawls!

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
My favorite items to knit are top down fitted sweaters. For smaller projects I love to knit hats and make quite a few of them as gifts. I also enjoy knitting scarves and gloves.

13. What are you knitting right now?
I am currently working on Stitch Diva's Silken Scabbard, Classic Elite's Feather and Fan Cardigan (from the Make it Modern book) and a scarf.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Absolutely! I would be thrilled if someone took the time and trouble to make me something special!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I prefer circular needles. I particularly like Addi turbos and Knitpicks options nickel plated needles. I like very slick wood needles--Lantern Moon Ebony are my favorite wooden ones.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Yes--I own both!

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
I think it is about 4 years old, but I may very well have lost track!

18. What is your favorite holiday? What winter holiday do you observe?
I love Christmas! I can't get enough of it! I start getting ready for it the day after Thanksgiving! I also love my birthday.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
I collect unusual snowmen--I like handcrafted or antique ones. I also collect scotty dogs. I also collect unusual buttons--particularly antique ones or hand crafted ones. I also love unusual cookie cutters and molds.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
My Amazon wish list has the books I would like on it. I would also like to try KnitPicks Harmony needles. They look lovely. I subscribe to Interweave Knits.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
None that I can think of.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I'm not a sock knitter. I have a small stash of sock yarn and a lot of patterns, but I've just not been bitten by that bug. I like hats and gloves for my small projects. I wear a standard size 7.5 shoe.

23. When is your birthday?
April 8

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?
Yes I am on Ravelry. My ID is kozykitty

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sweet Victory

I've been meaning to blog since the election, but life got in the way.  I think I was coming down with a cold last week.  I stood out in the mist last Tuesday and handed out materials to those coming to vote at my school.  It was interesting to see the voters.  The neighborhood is extremely diverse with many non English speakers.  Many of them had questions and all seemed very excited to vote.  It is an overwhelmingly democratic district.  

I stayed up until 2 a.m watching the election returns and commentary. I was a nutcase the next day as I was totally exhausted. That's okay. It's not often that one gets to experience that type of victory!

My sale book order from KnitPicks arrived on Thursday. Check out the goodies:

I love all of them, but my favorite is Boutique Knits. It has some very unusual accessories. Also--check out this scarf from the Nicky Epstein scarf book:

Of course that page would catch the eye of the Crazy Cat Lady!
I also started the Silken Scabbard. No photos yet, but soon!

Saturday, DH and I headed for Pittsburgh to celebrate Ems' birthday which is actually on November 11. We got there around 3:30. Her street was covered with leaves. I love the houses on her street. They are rather large brick or stone homes with neat architectural details. Many have stained glass windows as well.

Here is the side of Em's house. Her apartment is on the second floor and she has the curved windows that you see.

Everytime I go in that house I see details that I missed before. Check out the plaster work on the ceiling:

We met Bird at the Double Wide Grill on the Southside for dinner after which Bird went to work. Ems, DH and I ended up meeting Ems' friends at the Forward Lanes in Squirrel Hill for a couple of games of ten pin bowling. I have to admit that it's been over 40 years since I've bowled ten pins! It was fun. After bowling, we took Ems back to her place and we checked in our hotel. Sunday morning we met up with Ems and Bird at Ritters which is a diner in Friendship. After a trip to Joanns, we took Ems home and we headed for the road, arriving home around 7:30 p.m. I paid a sitter to take care of the kitties so they were well provided for.

I think things will get back to normal for a short time until we hit the Holiday madness.

A bit of Nostalgia
"It was twenty years ago today . . ."
Here are some pictures from Ems' 5 year old birthday party. She just turned 25! We used to have wonderful theme parties at our house. This one was the Wizard of Oz! Can you guess who Ems was?

That's right! She was Dorothy! And of course, I was Glinda!

I just knew I'd find a place to wear that flea market 50's prom dress!
And no party at our house was complete without the special birthday cake that Nannie made. This one is of the Emerald City with Wizard of Oz figurines:

All the party guests received a goody bag with a "Doctor of Thinkology" diploma, a heart ornament and a medal of courage!

Bushism of the day:

"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008

Ouch! I think we are figuring out now!

Kitty Cam: We got to meet Ems' little baby, Chelsea. She's a wild thing, but she is absolutely gorgeous! She has beautiful markings!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Rock the vote!

Election day is upon us, so--whatever your political affiliation-- don't forget to exercise your right to vote!

I will be working the polls at the elementary school where I teach for a couple of hours tomorrow afternoon. I will be campaigning on behalf of Board of Education candidates and against a Tax Referenda question on the ballot. I typically don't do this because I don't happen to live in the county where I teach and I've always felt that it would be somewhat hypocritical for me to campaign on tax issues when I don't pay tax in that jurisdiction. This year, things are a little different. There are a lot of new voters who have recently registered and they may not be very savvy on local government affairs. Unfortunately, I've seen first hand how some of these property tax limiting legislation can totally ruin a school system. I began my teaching career in another neighboring county which passed such legislation. After six years of teaching I, along with about 500 others, got laid off. To make things worse, this happened just after DH and I had bought our house with the 18% mortgage interest rate! Can you tell that was in the early 80's? Hard to believe we paid rates like that, but we did. It was a scary time because it was a time of teacher gluts unlike now when we have a national teacher shortage. Things got pretty bad--so much so that we almost lost our house. But looking outside of my own little world--the school system went straight down the crapper! By the time they laid us off, they had been in a 5 year decline due to lack of funding. It literally got to the point where parents were stealing reams of paper from their government jobs to bring to the teachers to use at school because we just didn't have any. Things continued to get worse and my friends who remained in that school system told me that getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to me. What does that tell you!

I'll never understand how American citizens don't make the connection between taxes and public services. They scream for lower taxes but they don't want cuts in services. And those of us who provide some of the services perpetuate the problem by continuing to do what we do--including hours and hours of unpaid overtime--because we care for the kids. If we decide that we can't continue to provide the same level of service when our pay is cut or we lose benefits, we are made into the bad guy!

Dear Government--Taxes are bad. Please lower our taxes. And while you're at it, please find us jobs, provide us with health insurance, bail out our sub prime mortgage and give us grants so that our kids can go to college. That is the bill of goods that people will buy. There is just no logic in it. Now I don't love paying taxes, but I understand the necessity and I understand that when the money is used wisely, it can make our society better. Other democracies pay much higher percentages of taxes--but then they get health insurance, retirement, child care, college education etc. etc. Wow! You can't tell me that the standard of living in such a place isn't better for everyone!

Here's to hope!

I'm planning on bringing my ongoing Petal Edge Scarf with me to knit in line at the polls just in case it's a long wait!

Let's hope that tomorrow night we are toasting a victory rather than chugging shots over a defeat! I suspect that it may be Wednesday before we will even know the outcome.

Thankfully, our days are numbered for the following!
Bushism of the day:
"A lot of times in politics you have people look you in the eye and tell you what's not on their mind." --George W. Bush, Sochi, Russia, April 6, 2008

Kitty Cam: Mikey would like to offer a nonpartisan message.

Cosmo, on the other hand, isn't so nonpartisan.

I guess you could call him a Democat!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Another FO

I finally finished my peasant blouse. In my usual manner, I took longer than necessary as I made the entire blouse using French seams. The pattern instructs you to use French seams on the sleeve flounce since the seams might show. I like the insides of my garments to be finished and raglan sleeves lend themselves to being sewn with French seams.

Here is the finished blouse:

Here are some details:

Pattern: New Look 6678, Size 10

Fabric: Vintage embroidered cotton given to me by a friend
Buttons: Mother of Pearl
Modifications: I made the body of View A which had a low Neckline and I made the sleeve to View D. View D had a higher neckline so I had to redraft the sleeve pattern at the top as it is a raglan sleeve. Because I didn't have enough facing, I also used solid white fabric as the neckband facing. I reduced the fullness in the sleeve by a little over a half an inch. This is because the sleeve piece was a little too wide to fit on half the width of the fabric which was only 36 inches wide.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well this blouse fit. The low neckline may be a tiny bit too low to wear to work, so I will wear a nude camisole under it for work. I really like this pattern and may eventually make a summer version--perhaps View C which has the lacing on the side front. I think that would look cute in an eyelet.

I hope to cut out my next project tomorrow night. I am also casting on for Silken Scabbard. I swatched it and my gauge is right on!

Now that it's November, I start thinking about the holidays. We are scaling way back on the gifts this year. I think DH and I may choose a joint gift--something that we both want and just get that. We are at the point in our lives where we just don't need stuff. It certainly makes shopping easier!

Here's one more Halloween photo that I actually stumbled upon:

Funny--Someone sure has good pumpkin carving skills!

Bushism of the day:
"We're fixing to go down to Galveston and obviously are going to see a devastated part of this fantastic state." --George W. Bush, Houston, Sept. 16, 2008

Kitty Cam: The two big lugs compete for space next to Mom on the couch!

And now, for an opposing viewpoint!

In case you missed SNL with John McCain. . . Very Funny!