Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dr. Frizzle in Maxi-Max

Do you know about super maximum security penitentiaries? Maxi-max? Well, poor Dr. Frizzle has been sentenced to such a life, and not for any crime he has committed.  Where once this proud hamster roamed freely through a spacious three-cage compound (bigger than some NYC studio apartments! ba-dum-bum), now he is relegated to one cage, and this cage in lockdown:

Note the cleverly-wrapped page wire.  Why? Because of our mouse "infestion" (as E has so humorously neologized).  These mice, though tiny, are repulsively abundant.  All our best efforts to date have failed to stop them from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.  And now, most recently, they have begun to "visit" poor Dr. Frizzle in his home.  Last week, A saw THREE of these creatures crouched around his food dish, chowing down, while Dr. F. cowered in his tower room.  Why doesn't he fight them off? He's enormous by comparison.  But I guess he's just too sweet-tempered, that old guy.  So finally, we've fortified the cage, hardened the target, if you will, to borrow from criminal justice lingo.

Yet, just last night, I heard a frantic squeaking.  Yes, another mouse had made his way in, through a tiny hole I'd neglected to cover, but couldn't find his way out again.  He was terrified, weeping in his little mousish way, while Dr. Frizzle just sat and stared at him. Ugh.  Needless to say, after I'd dealt with the mouse, washed out the cage, washed my hands about eighty or so times, soothed Dr. Frizzle with soft croons and caresses (yes, hamsters need these ministrations...), and stopped up the last hole, I felt strangely defeated. What now? A BB gun?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Teeny Tiny Knitting

After reading this post at Too Little Time's place, I was seized with a tiny sock mania. It seemed like the perfect solution to my, of late, inability to finish an entire pair of socks. I was definitely suffering from Second Sock Syndrome. Tiny socks are perfect--not only do you make only one, but that single is, well, tiny. I actually balked when E asked me to knit her American Girl a pair. A pair?! Never again, not even weeny ones.

So, between TLT's post and this instructional one, using size 0000 double pointed needles, I came up with this little guy:

This one, as suggested, will become a keychain very soon.  I sense more tiny sock keychains in my future.  

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My Stomping Grounds

I've been in school for a long, long time. 34 years, to be exact. And in that time, I've come to realize that I simply can't do school work at a desk. I tried in high school to work at the beautiful desk in the study in my grandparents' house, where we lived, but I always ended up on the little couch, balancing my notebooks on my knees and my textbooks on the soft arm. In college, I tried the library carrels and my spacious dorm room desks, but always got my best work done in the smoking lounge, curled in a chair with conversation all around me, or sprawled on my bed. I even had my computer (a Mac Classic, which seems almost quaint now) on an old trunk so that I typed papers cross-legged on the floor in front of it. I really did accomplish more in these relaxed circumstances, even surrounded by noise and activity, than in silence and upright position. Somehow that always seemed like too much pressure. It helps that I have a preternatural ability to focus, to the exclusion of anything short of bombs going off around me. My mother tells me that she had this tendency too, and actually preferred to study and write papers in the noisiest, most crowded places on campus.

Now instead of feeling guilty about this, I embrace it under the Whatever Works (or should that be the Cookies Before Dinner) Principle. That's one of the nice things about being older--you can do things the way you want, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. So now I have my laptop, and I work at the coffee table in front of the fireplace:

And if I need to gaze into space to marshal my thoughts, I can gaze at the Rabbi:

Or at the toy theater my sister made (I suggest once again clicking on this photo to see the details):

Or at a bookshelf (this one has some of my favorite books):

All in all, I like to have cheerful, civilian things around me when I work on my dissertation, otherwise I get to feeling gloomy and weird. The only thing better than the coffee table, though, would be across an oak trestle table from the Potions Master (I don't mind sitting upright for the sake of romance)...we'd be diligent, but every once in a while I'd look up and catch his eye...and he would raise a sardonic eyebrow at me and say "your field is mere ephemera, the basest of all the Muggle studies..."

Oops, didn't mean to get a little psychotic on ya there...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Some Inspiration

I had a late bday celebration tonight and got some lovely things. Did I mention that I love presents? I really really do.

My talented sissy made me a beautiful illustration of my man friend hard at work on his dissertation (a little non-canonical elaboration, although doesn't it seem likely that SS has his doctorate?):

It's hard to see all the incredible cross-hatching in this photo, but she tells me that it took twenty pen nibs to make (if you click on the photo, you can really get a gander).  I hung it up where I can see it from my work space, and I'm hoping the Master's industry will inspire me to my own.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dad: October 7 1943-January 17 2005

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes,  
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! I hear them--ding-dong bell.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What Do a 1915 A4 Gibson Mandolin, Severus Snape, and a Whirlpool Stackable Washer-Dryer Have in Common?

Yes, you guessed it, they are my favorite beaus. A doesn't mind, though. We have a swinging marriage. The washer-dryer is actually moving in with us soon, right into the kitchen. I have a great deal to say about this washer-dryer, and I will say it soon. Whoever's reading this, you may feel free to skip over that bit. When I get a new boyfriend, I become insufferable.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Swap Questionnaires

Here are my Swap Questionnaires--If you like, you can read them all because they each have slightly different info.  Happy Swapping!

#1: Saucy Knitters' Swap

Hot Sauce:

1. What kind of sauces do you like? I have different tastes at different times--sometimes I'm in the mood for something tongue-searing, and sometimes for something sweeter with a bit of heat.  

2. Any sauces you don't like? So far, I haven't tasted any I didn't like.

3. What do you like your hot sauce on? My most favorite thing to put hot sauce on is eggs--scrambled, or a feta cheese and onion omelet.

4. What kinds of recipes do you put hot sauce in? So far, I've just thrown it on things already prepared, but I'd love to try a recipe with hot sauce.  I'm game if my partner wants to share a recipe with me, because I do enjoy cooking!

5. Any allergies? Nope.

6. Recipe you'd like to share? I don't have one, but would love someone to share one with me!!!


1. Do you knit or crochet? I do both, and enjoy them equally.

2. What are your favorite types of yarns to work with? I love a nice cotton (like Rowan cotton glace) for making colorful granny squares.  I really enjoy whipping up a washcloth or two with Peaches n' Creme in bright colors.  And I love silk blends and cashmere blends (like Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino).  Also sock-weight yarn.

3. What's on your needles? Still too many projects to name, including at least five afghans, myriad socks, and scarves.  I love having a lot of projects going at once, so I can dip into things when I feel like it...

4. favorite colors? Any you wouldn't want? I love colorful colors, and am open to anything.  I've been surprised and delighted in recent swaps by what people have chosen for me.  I'm easy to please. Oh, and regarding hot colors--I love the idea of getting something "hot" like hot sauce! I love reds, yellows, and oranges of all shades!

5. any preference in hooks/needles? I love different materials for different projects, but I favor aluminum and polished wood.  I really like the crochet hooks with ergonomic handles.

6. Notions? I can always use measuring tapes; I only have one raggedy one, and it was my granny's, so I don't like to carry it around with me lest I lose it.  I love getting stitch markers, so if my partner likes to make them, I'd enjoy getting some! I also love little scissors, for some reason.  One can never have too many little scissors.

7. Any fiber allergies? I've always said no to this before, but I've come to realize that mohair makes my nose kind of itchy, so that may be an allergy after all.


1. Are you snacky? Do you like candy? Oh, I'm a consummate snacker.  I love sweet and savory treats of all sorts.  I've rarely met a snack I didn't like.

2. Are you into recipe magazines? Knitting Mags? What kind of quick, stash-it-in-your knitting bag reading do you like to have on hand? I like recipe mags, knitting and crochet mags, very much.  I almost always have a knitting catalogue or notions catalogue stashed in my knitting bag.  I also like puzzle books, of the sort of silly word seek variety.  And fun thrillers for a quick read.  

3. What cheers you up? Well, color really cheers me.  I like to look at my stash when I'm gloomy.  And I love getting a letter, email, or comment on my blog when I'm feeling down.  Reading words written especially for me is comforting and cheering.  And hugging my dog until he grunts.  He doesn't really mind, though.  And watching sitcoms on DVD.  Pretty much any sitcoms.

4. Do you collect anything other than yarn? vintage knitting and crochet patterns, blank notebooks, beads, stationery, little stash bags, bath products like scented soaps and lotions, stickers.

5. Do you have pets? A dear old dog, a hamster, and a fish.  I love and adore and worship animals.  My dream is to have a dachsund and a small bird of some sort to add to the menagerie.

6. Any other allergies? Nope.

7. Are you a swap newbie, or have you done this before? Any good advice for newbies you'd like to share? I've been in quite a number of swaps.  Here's my advice: Have a ton of fun, because swapping is after all only for fun.  Keep an open mind about what you receive--it's neat to see what someone else, usually someone who doesn't know you very well, chooses for you.  And I always like to take time with the presentation--wrapping the items, and packing them up.  Also, make sure to write a friendly note to include in your package! And to thank your spoiler immediately and publicly.  Okay, that was probably too much advice...

Previous Swaps:
#1: Knitters' Scavenger Hunt Swap

1) Do you knit, crochet or both? How long have you been doing it?

I've been crocheting since childhood--my grandma taught me. I've been knitting since high school (just lopsided scarves back then.)

2) What is on your needles/hook right now?

Too many things to mention. But some highlights: several ripple afghans, a Charlotte's Web shawl, my second Baby Surprise Jacket.

3) What is the most frequently used tool in your knitting bag?

Probably my scissors.

4) What are your 3 favorite yarns (fiber type or brand)? What are your 3 least favorite?

My three faves are: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, Rowan Cotton Glace, and Koigu premium merino. My least faves are Lion Brand Homespun. Gosh, how I hate that stuff. It looks perfectly nice, but ooo the feel is like dusty potatoes.

5) What is your favorite color?

I just like color--saturated color

6) If you had a 5 minute shopping spree in your LYS, how would you plan your attack?

I'd go to my three faves and get multiples of every single color.

7) What is your favorite FO and why? 

My first Baby Surprise Jacket, and the three pairs of Koigu socks I've made.

8) What are your favorite things to knit/crochet?

Probably crocheted ripple afghans; they're so relaxing.

9) Do you collect anything?

I collect ribbon; yarn (!); old horror and romance comics; vintage textiles; cookbooks.

10) What are your five favorite things (not necessarily knitting related)?

I won't mention my family, because that's the sine qua non. Instead, coffee, music, knitting, Brooklyn, the Adirondacks.

11) Are you on Ravelry? What is your ID?

My ID is leahsimone

12) Do you drink tea/coffee/cocoa?

Java, java, rah rah java

13) Favorite Sweets?


14) Any allergies?


15) Do you have pets? kids?

dear little girl, dear dog, and hammy and a fish.

Swap #2: Longing for Spring

1) Do you knit or crochet? How long have you been at your craft?

see above

2) Favorite yarns? Least favorite?

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, Rowan Cotton Glace, Noro Silk Garden.  Least Favorite: I tend to like natural fibers, although the exception is Vanna's Choice.  I like the colors very much, and it's really very nice for acrylic.

3) Favorite colors? Least favorites?

Favorites--saturated colors.  Garnet, teal, orange.  I love color.

4) Warm weather project I'm looking forward to:

Finally finishing my Charlotte's Web Shawl in Koigu, and making lots of amigurumi for my daughter and whoever else takes a shine to the little creatures.

5) Favorite scents? Least favorite?

I love unusual scents that you don't smell coming and going.  I'm addicted to several of the Fresh scents, like Fig Apricot and Pink Jasmine.  I like woodsy scents, and fruity scents (pear and orange especially).  And almond.   I'm a total perfume and scented soap/lotion junky.

I'm always up for trying a new scent, so I won't say I have a least favorite.  I'd love to experience a swap pal's favorite scent.

6) What is your favorite flower?

Oh, gosh, do I love flowers.  Geraniums, daffodils, tulips, Gerbera daisies, regular "sunny side up" daisies, carnations, roses, tiger and lemon lilies, lily of the valley, hydrangea...I'll stop now.  those are some of my faves.  I can't narrow it down.

7) What are your favorite springtime hobbies/activities?

Walking around my Brooklyn neighborhood, enjoying the surprising amount of lovely greenery--trees in bud and bloom, tulips, forsythia everywhere.  I also like to revel in the longer days, leave the kitchen windows open while I cook dinner, and take my daughter to the playground with friends.  Boy, I cannot wait for Spring...

8) No garden.  How sad.  I'm thinking of growing some herbs in a window box, however...

9) Favorite sweets:

Chocolate covered fruit (like orange peel, cherries, ginger, etc.) is my fave.  I also loooove cake of all sorts.  I'm always up for a cake recipe!!!

10) Do you collect anything?

See questionnaire above, and I'm adding: yarn, knitting needles, pretty blank journals, stickers, amigurumi patterns, perfume, beads.

11) Allergies? Nope

12) Pets? Dog, hamster, fish


Friday, January 11, 2008

You Can't Fight City Hall

Here's Pippin in "his" chair. Actually, A chose it for himself, with visions of putting his slippered feet up after a hard day of work. Then Pippin coopted it. For several years, A refused to call it Pip's Chair (as in, "go to your chair, boy!"). He insisted, misguidedly, that it was still his own. Then, two nights ago, I heard A utter the fateful words. It seems that you can't fight city hall indefinitely. City hall will win. And a dog cannot be swayed from the dogged pursuit of abject comfort. After all these years, A has finally admitted defeat. Pip won't crow over his victory, however. In his generous, doggy way, it's enough for him that he snooze the hours away undisturbed by territory battles.

Monday, January 7, 2008

My Spruce and Maple Romance

My new vintage 1915 Gibson mandolin. He is so loverly. A present from mimmy. I knew he was the one for me--our eyes met across the room. He whispered his name to me:

And I was smitten...

In one hour it's my birthday! I love my birthday. I'm turning 38 and I don't think I'll ever outgrow the birthday feeling.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Goodbye, 2007, for Once and for All

I found a very nice list on a blog, and decided to use it myself:

(Some of) What I Learned in 2007:

1. To play an instrument purely for my own enjoyment: without self-criticism or pressure, the violin has become a delight. I've never enjoyed it so much in 33 years!

2. Playing duets with a loved one (in this case, A) is romantic. It's put me in touch with a very sweet form of communication which I'd never experienced before.

3. Live music, with everyone bringing a voice or an instrument, creates shalom in the home. We have Dan Zanes to thank for this.

4. I should have finished my dissertation several years ago. It only gets harder to motivate yourself.

5. I love to write. I'd forgotten about this side of myself. Interestingly, my cheesy Potions Master romance reintroduced me to it.

6. I'm good at writing romances.

7. Yelling at E is counterproductive--it doesn't stop her from bad behavior, and it raises my blood pressure. It's not like I'm one of those constant screamers, but I've come to believe that even a little isn't a good thing. One of my only resolutions for 2008 is to have a completely yell-free household. Okay, maybe it's a little unrealistic, but I'm going for it.

8. "Children are where they're at," is my mom's parenting mantra, and it's a great one. In 2007 I finally started to understand it a little bit.

9. I love technology and gadgetry.

10. I don't have the patience to finish hand-knit garments properly, and that's totally okay. I just won't knit any grown-up sweaters. I can knit whatever I want! (this one seems incredibly silly, but hey, it's something I learned)

11. I'm not that into television.

12. I'm a goth. I've always been one. Who knew?

So, what did you learn in 2007?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

A lovely New Year's Eve with dear friends and dear family...and Moscato di Asti (which, as sissy says, is like alcoholic Sprite--but sooo tasty) and Faycat's incredible--something--I can't recall the name--I'll get back to you--with a creamy rice-pudding-like filling of faro and orange flower water, among other ingredients, with a sweet crust that managed to be both light and dense...sublime. I made chocolate gelato, which froze like a chocolate rock, but when tempered, became pretty yummy. A made up a fire in the fireplace. Pippin nosed around hopefully for brie bits. Dr. Frizzle stuffed his cheeks with carrots and yogurt nuts. Then I fell asleep face-down on the rug. Happy New Year!

p.s. "pastiera napoletana," as Faycat commented. Check out her ordeal here, but I can personally attest to its utter deliciousness.