Blogsam and Jetsam

Flotsam is the part of the wreckage of a ship or its cargo found floating on the water. Jetsam is cargo or parts of a ship that are deliberately thrown overboard, as to lighten the ship in an emergency, and that subsequently either sinks or is washed ashore. This is my personal blog version of the above. Loot freely.

My Photo
Location: The Hinterlands, Upstate NY

I'm annoyed that the world is going crazier faster than it used to be. But it's interesting to watch.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

That Fog...

...turned out pretty well for a picture I shouldn't have taken in the first place.

Wednesday Quickie

Work is still hell.

Home, however, is good: Eldest Duckling and I got our DVDs of the first two seasons of That Show and stayed up far too late last night meeting the very first round of designers.

Watched The Hunt for Red October over the weekend and although none of it is a bit relevant anymore it's still a most excellent movie. As I told the kids, it's a guy action movie but it's all about people so girls like it too. My own very favorite bit is when Alec Baldwin pantomimes for and gets a Russian cigarette...THAT is why smoking can be a Good Thing.

Casablanca on the other hand isn't as good as I remembered. Oh sure, it's got some swell moments and it's cinematographically excellent but she's a rotten female role model and he drinks too much. So sayeth the Wise Alondo, anyhow.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Just Text Today...

...Yes folks, only my words with no accompanying illustrations. Which is just as well since it's not much fun to illustrate "old" and "angrily overworked" which pretty much sum up my mood today.

"Old" is my own fault; I should've never watched The Breakfast Club with my kids. It's a great and fabulous movie and I was happy that Eldest Duckling loves it as much as I do, but it was definitely an age-defining moment to be standing in the kitchen making dinner and adoring the movie while watching my KIDs adore the movie...cue "Sunrise Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof. It was even more age-defining to go googling to see what Judd Nelson looked like these days. (I let them watch the original Ghostbusters without me but was happy to see that Harold Ramis has been aging just fine.)

"Angrily overworked" will eventually go away. Eventually.

Yes, there was knitting: more cotton dishrags and washcloths since that trip to Brazil is fast approaching. Much though I like it I'm getting damned sick of cotton though: I took a break to play with (gasp, choke) Red Heart. Yes, Red Heart--fiber purists may now delete me from your blogrolls at will. Sure it knits up a lot like the plastic bags from the store where it was bought, but its bright colors are indestructible no matter WHAT you do to it which makes it the medium of choice for afghans and baby blankets.
Anyhow the Red Heart is gonna be a baby blanket for a baby even newer than the girl who still needs booties...sure my priorities are skewed but I wasn't about to get involved in a set of cotton booties when I was already sick of cotton dishcloths. I sense the need for springiness though and suspect I'll be breaking out the wool soon. Which is funny since interpreting "spring" as relating to weather rather than tension would give so completely different a meaning to the sentence that one would be expecting "cotton" or "linen" or "fine-gauge" right before that "soon." Trust me, I mean bounciness.

No, there was no photography: the camera stayed on its docking station all weekend. Mostly because it was raining and dreary and I didn't feel like setting up interior lighting. Yeah, photography really IS all about the light and I didn't want to work that hard.

What DID I do all weekend? A lot of Worlds of Warcraft. It's our household computer game and yes indeed it's surprisingly easy to lose a whole weekend that way. Those of you who know the game will understand...for those of you who REALLY know the game I run a warlock named Thesra in the Nathrezim realm.

I also made the mistake of getting a copy of Kentucky Fried Movie. That thing was so bad I ended up apologizing to the family Sunday morning after we tried to watch it Saturday night. I'd heard it was a great spoof in the vein of Groove Tube and Amazon Women on the Moon but it just didn't work for us.

Must go have meeting with boss now....

Friday, August 25, 2006

Camera Angle

Formerly I didn't think about my photos much. Point, click and behold, another family moment captured. Then I started blogging and realized that text without illustrations was dull. Also that there was a high internet standard; at least two of the blogs I follow regularly are hosted by professional photographers.

So I started paying more attention to my pictures...and have discovered I rather like photography. Sure, every path resident learns SOMEthing about it since we all have to be able to take a decent shot of interesting specimens (Important aside: never get anything a PATHOLOGIST thinks is interesting) to share with our colleagues, but using a camera fixed to a light table is a far cry from taking pictures.

That means it's all still new for me...which is why I found these two pictures interesting.

This is a ceramic owl MIL brought with her for the garden; he's about 7 or 8 inches tall.

Same day, same light, same 2x zoom...but this time the camera was lower (and more level; it was resting on the walkway.)

Big difference, no? That's the kind of thing I mean.

So I've started carrying my camera everywhere I go.

I'm also starting to think more about composition; that's why you didn't get a picture of each separate item the other day. Haven't moved past the realm of things but did learn this morning that if one wants to take pictures of fog on the mountain one should stop the car first. Don't worry-- nobody else was out at that hour.

Post Scriptum: If you know of a good beginner's photography book, please drop me an email or comment--the selection is overwhelming to me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Monster Eating: A SPAM

Found this eye-catching subject line in my inbox and had to share...

-----Original Message-----
From: Glenda Hanna []
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 6:26 PM
Subject: monster-eating

old-womanish night partridge Mid-european onion couch milpa system Pan-arabism oil pan mother ship pantechnicon van Out-timon

with less effort. His glides ended not with the usual feet-down splash

I liked "old-womanish night partridge" and noticed that a mere change in punctuation could yield "Out Timon with less effort" and wondered how Timon might feel about that.

Yeah, the language fascinates me, perhaps more than it should.

Thursday Miscellany

Last night I worked till an unheard-of EIGHT pm so the entire night got pushed back. Watched two (taped; I just love tech) back-to-back episodes of That Show and didn't get to bed till past one. Have lots of work and meetings so I give you two photos:

The Loudly Laugh-In dishrag in-situ (it's really too big--get it wet and it becomes a sloppy monster-towel-thing)...

...and my favorite elephant.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

There's Been Knitting, Too

I finished those booties.

Also made what turned out to be a blanket for Eldest Duckling's "Samantha" doll--it was supposed to be a washrag but turned out way too big and floppy (which is a problem the Loudly Laugh-In Dishcloth has too.) Even on things where it shouldn't, gauge matters.

So I found some smaller needles (US #1) and started cranking out cotton. These are for Lidia; MIL is leaving for Brasil on the 5th. Astute viewers will also notice that ball of pink Speed-Cro-Sheen in the basket--that's for the other co-worker's girlbaby booties. The hemp yarn (that smudge of purple on the left) didn't have enough body to make for a good baby bootie. It also wasn't exciting enough to do a before-and-after of the swatch washing--softened a bit but didn't change enough to be photo-worthy.

Why It's Worth Carrying a Camera

This was on a vehicle parked in my hospital's employee lot yesterday morning.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

There's This Show, See...

It all started during The Big Move of MIL up from the Burbs of NJ last month.

On the hottest day of summer I had enough of schlepping dreck to the dumpster so I collapsed on the floor of the one room with both air conditioning and cable where Eldest Duckling had set up camp on the air mattress. Te TV was blaring but I didn't pay any attention till I'd recovered somewhat.

After the sweat had stopped running freely I realized the people on the screen were making things. Thought it was some public-television or home-improvement-network show and started watching. Realized the people were sewing things.

Strangely enough, the people (and there were a bunch of them) seemed to be sewing Barbie clothes. But not for the Real Human Being Sizes. Okay, fine, in Fashion Model Sizes, but you get the idea. The people doing the sewing were stitching up a Barbie-doll outfit for a walking, talking human being. THAT was I watched a while more.

What's Christie BRINKLEY doing here and how can she look so good when I know she's at least ten years older than I am? And why is she acting like she owns those people? Oh wait...that can't be Christie Brinkley; this woman has a German accent. Oh I get it...this is some sort of CONTEST. No wonder she's being such a five-star bitch. But whatintheHELL are they DOING?

I kept watching. Figured out it was another Reality-TV show and that the contest was actually a "challenge" designed to make someone be "out." Just like that stupid Joe Millionaire fellow a few years ago...but instead of female beauty, it was sewing. Okay, fashion design--same thing (don't argue.)

A sewing reality show? Now THAT I could appreciate. Why? Because my mother made sure sewing was in my blood before I even started school and I've been trying to dialyze it away ever since. She was (still is) an amazing seamstress; she taught Singer sewing classes for several years after the divorce. Taught me too--I sewed the side-seams of a simple A-line dress for myself the summer before I started first grade and she recently sent me the "Holly Hobby" long calico dress with leg-o-mutton sleeves I made the summer I was nine. Yes, nine--I'm no slouch behind a needle myself.

Which establishes the conflict. Being a nonstandard size on a substandard budget, I ended up making damned near all my clothes for more years than I care to count. The conflict arose when my process-oriented mother (who French-seams my kids' nightgowns) took umbrage with my very results-oriented construction methods. One of her constant refrains was that nothing I made would EVER last through the first wash*, especially anything where I turned the hems with Fray-Check (fabric glue) or gawdforbid didn't backstitch my seam ends or tie off the loose threads before cutting them. She also had strong opinions about fabric, style and cut which differed substantially from my own. Yes "differed substantially" is glossing over a lot of territory. Don't make me go there; I'll hurt you.

So although I got really good at it, I also got a lot of Sewing Issues. After making a boned lace-over-taffeta strapless black formal for a dance when I was twenty-one, I stopped sewing. Completely. Even when I knew I could produce a better product that the one for which I was offering up my charge card.

Therefore getting to watch Somebody ELSE be on the sewing chopping blo--I mean cutting board--was the best entertainment I'd seen in ages. Not only that but I could critique with confidence since it was a field I knew. What's not to love? Schadenfreude even matched the language of the hostess! Only thing left was to find out more about the show from Eldest Duckling.

Most of you on this continent have already deduced that I'm talking about Project Runway.

Anyone who follows the show has also deduced that I'm talking about a PREVIOUS season too, as I learned from my daughter that day.

After the Big Move, I went back to my usual news-junkie ways and forgot about "that really cool sewing reality show" till just last week. That was when Eldest Duckling pointed out that there was a new season with all-new players...and offered me to watch with her.

Can we say mother-daughter bonding? Can we say fabulous knitting time? Can we say TiVo-ed all the old episodes to get caught up? Sure...and we can also say "DVDs of Seasons 1 and 2** en route even as I type. Feel totally free to email if you're afflicted with the same disease; we'll dish.

* It always did. Always.

**(Don't tell my mother but I got extra copies for her birthday...she doesn't subscribe to cable and therefore has no more clue than I did. Won't SHE be surprised!)

Fall Flowers

In my corner of the world, the nights have gotten noticeably cooler and longer in the past couple weeks which means fall is soon to come. Fall is my favorite season so I'm happy, but it got me thinking that the flowers wouldn't be with us much longer. So I took a few pictures Sunday evening:

Some clover in my yard

Something Else in my yard

The black-eyed susans across the road (on the far side of a muddy ditch; had to use the 3x zoom)

Better black-eyed susans

The morning glories take over my garden every summer. Mostly I let them.

Have decided most of these suffer from need of cropping. The images, not the blooms.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Mosaic knitting Revisited

It seems an entire lifetime ago, but one of my earliest posts was about how enamored I had become of the "Mosaic Knitting" technique as elaborated in Barbara G. Walker's book of the same name.

(those posts are in the June and July archives; I can't make a link work this morning.)

Part of why I loved the principle so much was because I had considerable experience with two-color slipped garter stitch. I finally unearthed the reason why:

This square (destined to be a pillow top) is how I finally decided to work up my first (probably only) attempt at naturally hand-dyed yarn. The center squares are four-color slipped garter stitch and the twelve around the edges are all the two-color combinations.

This was very mathematically pleasing. The technique looks more complicated than it is and the mood completely changes with the background color.

Here's a closeup of an edge...the purple-green square very close to the green-purple square for comparison. Also a nice bit of contrast between the brown and the undyed wool. I liked that tan so well I might make more someday.

Oh but "make more" reminds me: the tan is just a whole bunch of teabags. The pink is acidic red cabbage and the green is basic red cabbage (hey, chemistry really works!)

As I was noodling around with the colors for those squares I realized that one COULD make more elaborate designs if one thought about it in advance. I didn't play with the idea but I'm very glad Barbara Walker did. I have plans to get back to that book someday!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Kinder Ovo

My Brazilian mother-in-law brought these back one Easter about a decade ago and I've been singing their praises ever since:

These are the coolest candy-toy combo ever. Inside that box is an egg. One half of the egg is white chocolate and the other half is dark chocolate. Inside the chocolate is this:

That little pellet contains the coolest plastic around. Puts even the best HappyMeal toys to shame.


Part of the fun is that you have to BUILD the toy. The instruction sheet is always completely iconic, no language required, and one ends up with something like these fellows:

Of course the wheels really turn; it wouldn't be nearly as cool otherwise.

I'm very fond of this little fellow and wish we'd managed to get more of the series of which he's a part. (Sorry the photo's stinky; it was the best of a sorry lot.)

But my VERY favorite Kinder Ovo toys are THESE fine creatures:

I wish I could add a little video to show you how amazing they are in motion--they move sideways like real crustaceans and the legs skitter in a MOST pleasing way.

I was apparently a trendsetter. MIL says Kinder Ovo have become much more popular in recent years. She's going for a visit soon; I can't wait to see the current toy lines.

I've also heard they're available in Europe.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Duckling Self-Portrait

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Supershort today

Finished the first pair of booties and learned today that the second pair will be going to a girl-baby. Pictures soon.

Birthday dinner tonight at Red Lobster for Eldest Duckling; I think I'm as excited as she.

Still haven't washed that purple hemp yarn yet but the Loudly Laugh-In kitchencloth survived well and didn't turn the entire load bright red.

Need a vacation desperately and it's still five weeks away.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Life Interferes

...with blogging, that is. Which is why the six of you missed me yesterday; I couldn't summon enough literary energy to even provide a link to STD treatment.

It's work and property ownership, both of which have been dragging me down. Way too many hours at the former and way too many dollars for the latter. You'd think those two would compliment one another but they don't thanks to that word "salary." Such is the way of the world.

I've still been knitting of course. With so many new babies in the forecast I've resigned myself to Bunches of Booties and even brought those Daggers-of-Megiddo quintuple-zero needles with me to the office today so I could do a few rows at lunchtime.

Which reminds me: I had a Happy Fiber Accident last night.

A few weeks ago while still in thrall to Mason-Dixon Knitting I went online-shopping for linen yarn and discovered that it doesn't come cheaply. I remembered that hemp was very similar to linen and lots socially I ordered some lovely aubergine sportweight from this place in Canada:

At least I thought it was sportweight. When the package arrived (with a huge "100% HEMP" sticker on the outside label) I discovered that it was indeed a lovely shade of purple...but it was fingering weight. Damn. Yes, it was my own error--even though I thought I had checked closely, I had asked for the wrong thing. I was irked because I don't care much for lace knitting but I wasn't about to send it BACK (Fiber People never return yarn) so I put it in the stash thinking "well I can always double it up for something."

Last night I was sick as snot of the happy duck-yellow indestructible and soft but VERY splitty baby acrylic that's been becoming a pair of booties. Thought I'd have to stab myself in the thigh with one of those damned steel pins if I put it through HALF the stitch yet again...when I remembered that I did have different "baby weight" yarn in the house. Grabbed the one skein I'd already balled up, cast on a fresh bootie, did a couple rows and LOVED it. Where has this stuff been all my bootie-making life?!? No splits, no fuzzies, no can't-see-the-damned-stitch.

My only concern is the durability factor: Baby wear needs to be indestructible and ought to be able to survive a hot-water-bleach load and I don't think this stuff will. I certainly intend to find out this space for before-and-after someday.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Washcloth Weekend

Yup, the cotton and I were a team the whole time.

The green one is for my friend with yesterday's impressive flowers. The others are for MIL to take to Cida and Lidia in a couple weeks.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Flower Shoot

One of the women in my department grows exceptionally nice flowers. When her lilies came in really well she brought me a second bouquet; I was so touched that I celebrated the event in photography. I also noodled around with lighting.

First on the back porch with direct sun from behind.

Then on the shadowed front porch.

Where I also tried the 2x zoom.

Then into the dark living room for some flash work.

And the obligatory O'Keeffe tribute.

In-situ: my actual kitchen table.

(also proof we're STILL unpacking boxes.)

Similar shot, this one cropped (and successfully re-saved.)

I love memory cards; you can shoot to your heart's content and keep only the good stuff. I was so pleased with how these turned out that I bought photo paper. The hardcopies are equally good.

A Cat

Feyd is much too cool to ham for the camera.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Trich on Friday

No, that's not a typo...I'm talking about the little critter:

Near the lower left-hand corner of the image there is a single pinkish oval that doesn't have dark grape-y looking things in the center, see? That's a trichomonad. All the other things around it are white blood cells (specifically neutrophils) trying to get rid of it.

My techs and I were excited to see the second case this week so I thought I'd share the joy. And the knowledge:

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Strangest SPAM Yet...

The link doesn't seem to go anywhere...but it's honest-to-Pete real computer junk mail.
I thought the freetext at the bottom (which I've set off with italics just for all of you) was FABULOUS...

-----Original Message-----
From: celka patterson []
Sent: Thursday, August 10, 2006 1:34 PM
To: joann rodrigues
Subject: Its gonna be secret

Respect yourself!

Shortest way to be happy!

half line spotted-fever tick fox grape
boiler tube vat dye great circle
twice-detained knob lock coal brass
charity bazaar half-oxidized fruit spur
winter sweet to-do face urn
out-of-school extension-gap lathe tommy system
galley slice time-tested two-cent
gull teaser dim-gleaming vegetable fibrin


I can't wait to call someone a "twice-detained knob lock" or (better still) a "pile of dim-gleaming vegetable fibrin!"
Not to mention the workplace annoyances that can be summed up with acknowledging that one's place of employ is nothing more than "an extension-gap lathe-tommy system!"

Blogsam and Jetsam: Cida and Lidia:

Because I can't get to my own newest post, I give you a link:

Blogsam and Jetsam: Cida and Lidia:

Or you can now just scroll past yesterday's post; the other one finally left "draft" phase and showed up, although not in the spot I would've preferred.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Stitch Comparison:

These guys are VERY close relatives:

Ballband Dishcloth (from Mason-Dixon Knitting)

"Big Dotty" piano bench cover stitch (also from Mason-Dixon Knitting)

They are the same process carried out over differing numbers and types of stitches.

The dishrag pattern is two rows of plain stockinette stitch with one stitch out of every six slipped over three additional rows of reverse stockinette.

The dotty pattern is two rows of garter stitch with two stitches out of every eight slipped over six additional rows of regular stockinette stitch.

Therefore if you can do one, you can by definition do the other. Cool or what?

Cida and Lidia

A Story of Fellow Fiberists

Cida is my mother-in-law's oldest sister and Lidia is her oldest child. They both live in a remote part of Brazil (5 hours by bus from Sao Paulo) and I've never met nor spoken to either of them.

We're friends anyway because we're all fiber people. One interesting thing to me, a knitter in Upstate NY, is how differently people living in the tropics use their fiber. The lack of weather-related need means that wool is nowhere to be found and that crochet takes precedence over knitting. Today I want to share their work with you:

They both crochet all the time and this is a sample of their "beige work"---MIL has a toilet-paper holder that hangs over the back of a door which is similar in style. In a yet-to-be-unpacked box are several oval floor rugs in a heavier cotton that are FANTASTIC in the kitchen; I can't wait to find them.

This is the other style of rugmaking they do. It's in the needlepoint/crewelwork family.

(yes those are cat-paws in the background; Duncan wanted to be part of blogsterity.)

Middle Duckling is modeling my last year's Christmas present...

This lo-o-o-o-ng scarf, which they knit specially just for me because they knew I lived someplace where I WOULD appreciate wool. Neither one of them are knitters by preference so I was particularly touched.

Mostly though, they make these incredible dishcloths.

The edges are beautifully crocheted

And I have several more towels with these patterns (some of which the children have stained badly--there's a flip side to "must use the handcrafts.")

But the newest and most amazing development in their repertoire is that border: yes it's MACRAME.

Isn't it fantastic? Go ahead--click on the photo and really look.

Having been a child in the Seventies, I remember doing plenty of my own macrame including a nice handbag and about a million plant hangers but I would've never thought to scale it down like that...which is part of what makes it so exceptionally cool.

I was so impressed that I refused to let that one go in the drawer; it's now on display as a kitchen curtain.


I took several but this is the only decent picture of my hexagonal Mason-Dixon washcloth.

(You'll notice I said "decent" not "good." Guess who wants manual zoom for her birthday?)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Very Fiber Moment

Stopped by the cafeteria just now for a cup of tea and saw a woman in historical garb with a basket of FLEECE. I got that bright-eyed hopeful look that only we fiber-possessed get and gave her a smile so she, being a kindred spirit, walked right up to me so that I could see she also had a drop spindle about halfway full of yarn in her basket.

ME: Oooh! You SPIN!
SHE: Oh yes! This is Bertha, the prizewinning fleece from [our] County! holds basket out for me to touch
ME: fondling the tweedy tan wool OH she's so NICE!
SHE: Yes, she's a VERY nice sheep!

We grinned at each other and went our separate ways...but wasn't that just the neatest thing?!?

It's always nice to connect with a complete stranger.

Quick Movie Recommendation

Twelve Angry Men is an incredible film. I like it better every time I see it.

You should see it too.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Weekend Knitting

Last week I learned that gauge does matter: my mileage varied enough on the Mason-Dixon baby kimono that two balls wasn't enough yarn and I couldn't buy any more. Thus was born Plan B, a pair of baby booties.

Let's face it, I don't much care for making baby booties. My gauge is always loose so I have to use the teensiest of teensy stainless steel needles: 00000 ordered from Scotty Malone specifically for baby booties. Frequent flyers will also recall that I dislike making two the same of anything either.

Therefore it should come as no great surprise that I had to take time out to play with a stitch pattern that had been calling my name from the moment I saw it:

I now have a Very Laugh-In Potholder/Dishrag/Multipurpose Kitchen Cloth.

HBF: "'s loud..."
Eldest Duckling: "WOW!! NEAT!!"
ME: "Hey, this only LOOKS hard!"

Really, it's EASY.
If you can knit, purl and slip a stitch you can make this pattern. The slipped stitches do the hard part.

Once I got THAT out of my system, I got back to the booties. Babies are by definition a Greater Good so it's worth the effort to make them some swell lovin' booties.

I use indestructible acrylic (so it can be bleached indefinitely) even though it tends to split.

The final product.

Works in progress: Two pairs of feet that wore the very same booties. "Mother Owl" was a virtual stranger to me when she gifted my first pregnancy. That was my first example of charity knitting and I've tried to keep the faith. I've also kept the booties.

Had to take a break before starting the second bootie though. Does the cotton look familiar? And what are those lumps?

Yep, that's a bobble! Watch this space for progress on a hexagonal washcloth from the Mason-Dixon knitting book.