June 27, 2007

The Japanese Beetles are back

See the little shiny bug among the leaves? I saw one two years ago on one of my miniature roses and thought, "What a neat looking bug." Oh how stupid I was! Coming from Florida, and having never seen a Japanese beetle in our part of Florida, I thought it was just a pretty bug. However, the next morning when I went to water my roses, they were gone - the roses, not the bugs. Completely gone. That 'neat looking bug' ate all of the leaves off the roses and left me with planted sticks. I had never seen such quick devastation by such a pretty bug! Last year we planted green beans and every morning, the Japanese beetles would be getting started on their daily eating frenzy. We didn't plant a lot of beans, but enough that the bugs were well fed. How happy I was when I didn't see any this year! I have no idea what the tree in the above picture is - we don't know what it is, but it has ornamental plums on it - but last year, the beetles had a field day with it. It was skeletal by the end of summer. They are back. I was so upset. They smell weird. They swarm their prey. And they are very noisy eaters. You can literally hear them chewing. They should learn to chew with their mouths shut! This picture is starting to show some of the devastation. Soon our poor little tree will be bare.
Ah, blackberries. Aren't they growing like crazy? Remember I said many posts back that I would fight the birds for the blackberries? They don't play fair. The blackberries are almost all gone. No, those aren't our plants in the above picture. They belong to our neighbors. Unfortunately, they grow in a drain field and have been sprayed with weed killer. No, I don't think I'll be making cobbler from these berries. Plus, if you look close enough, the Japanese beetles like blackberries too!
This is our blackberry harvest - all three of them. L was asking for a cobbler, but I don't think that's going to be happening any time soon. Maybe next year!
Knitting is still going on. I kind of took a little break when I felt sick, but I'm feeling better and trying a pattern I found on the Crystal Palace website - socks, of course! R made an adorable drawstring bag to hold her knitting, but she is engrossed in an old Pink Panther movie and has promised pictures. Later. Maybe tomorrow. Her words, not mine. So, maybe tomorrow you will see one of my talented kids sewing abilities!

June 23, 2007

If I'd known turning 43 would have been this rough...

Man, since my birthday I have been kicked hard with something. Sounds vague, doesn't it? Well, it is vague because I have no idea what has got ahold of me! I've been sick since the 19th and I am beyond ready for it to be over. NO - I am not pregnant. Long story short - I have had a terrible time with my nerves for years, but since late last year, it's gotten a whole lot worse. I've been to the doctor, who is wonderful to me when I am sitting there having a meltdown in his office, and he seems to think it's a bad case of nerves. Maybe the change is in sight? Whatever - I am soooooo ready to feel better! I even missed Knit Picky's birthday today - that has to tell you how bad I feel. I missed a yarn sale. Unheard of, right? (Happy Birthday guys! I hope you had fun!) Tonight I actually feel like sitting here and writing something, so I'm taking advantage of feeling better - for the moment - and blogging.

Remember all the wacky pictures of RL and me in the backyard wrapping yarn into a big old skein, taking that big old skein and dying it and then rolling it back into a ball? Well, I finally have felt like knitting to see if I was successful with the self striping part of it. Guess what? It worked! I love how it's turning out. I got the dyes at Knit Picky and the yarn is from Knit Picks.

The little doily/linen is from my friend for my birthday. (Thanks Joni!) I thought it was a nice backdrop since it shares most of the same colors as the yarn.

I finished a pair of socks, yes, for Mom, this week too. You have to wait, Mom! They are for a special occasion. Besides, it's too hot to wear wool right now.

The yarn was a real bargain from Elann.com. I think it was $20.00 for a bag of ten skeins. Sure beats paying $20.00 for one skein of yarn, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and pay $20.00, or more for a skein, don't you? Of course, the sock blockers are my wonderful blockers from TheLoopyEwe.com. WONDERFUL place if you haven't checked it out yet. Well worth checking out and well worth ordering from. I know, I know, I say that every time I mention them, but it is true!

Hopefully I'll have more to show for soon. Here's hoping next week is much, much better!

June 18, 2007

Today is my birthday!

What a fun day, or should I say, what a fun couple of days it has been. We decided to celebrate my birthday on Father's Day since Mom and Daddy would be here for a Father's Day cookout and they wouldn't have to get out two days in a row since the air quality isn't so great and the heat is up there. We had a nice day. RL grilled steaks, Daddy and I stayed in the nice cool house and chatted while Mom and the kids were outside working on something that I was not to know about. They were being so secretive! It's not easy to keep a secret in this house either! Since the kids and I are together 24/7, it's pretty easy to read them. However, they were working extra, extra hard at being sneaky this time! They had us drop this off at Mom and Daddy's on Saturday afternoon and they stayed there until midnight working their little fingers to the bones on my surprise. RL had no idea what they were making. Daddy did, but he wasn't spilling the beans. When did these people decide to keep secrets?!!!! We went ahead and had cake and ice cream and gave the dads their gifts. Daddy liked his movie - we got him 'Fly Boys' - such a great movie. We watched ' Ghost Riders' - strange movie and then I opened my gift from Mom and Daddy. New clothes! Yippee! I never thought I would be so excited about getting clothes! RL asked for navy blue dress socks. Wow - what an exciting gift. Well, he got them and was excited. He also got some other cool stuff, so he was feeling a little spoiled.
This is my surprise! They made me a swift! Isn't that the greatest thing in the world? R sketched it up and looked at all the knitting catalogs we have around the house. Mom took her to the store to get the wood and all the other stuff she needed. Luke helped her saw and sand. So, there's a whole lot of love in this gift. I have been wanting one for sooooooooo long, but I just couldn't justify the cost. I think R said it was about $30 to make. She's still working some of the kinks out, but it works great! I also got a $25 gift card to download any songs I want - whether the kids like them or not, ha ha, some new shirts, and a Michael Bublé cd. My neighbors got me a gift certificate to Michael's, so I'll have to go check out what's going on there. Oh - the kids wanted to take me to the movies so Randy took some time off and we went to see "Surf's Up". What an adorable movie! Then we came home and Randy fixed dinner. I am so spoiled, but I can handle it. Having a great family like this sure does make getting older a little easier. And, unlike the Yarn Harlot, I am painfully aware of my true age!

June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

All the Moms got their tributes, so now it's the Dads turns!

We don't have many pictures of RL's dad - probably because he's the one behind the camera at all the family get togethers! Hmm, what can we say about RL's dad. The kids all call him Popo and for some reason I do too. Here are some things I personally know about him. 1) He started counting down to his retirement probably about the time he turned 60. You could ask how much longer and he would tell you almost down to the minute! 2) He had to quit school when he was in the 12th grade because his Dad died suddenly and he had to help support the family. 3) He's the second to the youngest out of five. 4) He went back to school to get his GED when he was in his 30's - which, to me, sets a great example to his sons that you can finish what you started, even if it's been years. 5) He has three boys - I was going to say at least one terrific daughter-in-law, but as I went to type it, the keyboard shelf fell off the computer table! RL asked if that was karma or a faulty computer table. I'm sticking with the faulty table! Back to Popo - 6) He has four grandsons and three granddaughters. 7) He appreciates a person with a sense of humor and loves to pick on someone - mercilessly! 8) He's been married to the same woman for 53 years and has worked hard so she could be a stay-at-home mom. He worked in a body shop by day and drove a diaper truck by night! 9) He has been enjoying his retirement by leaving every May in his motorhome with Momo and not going back home until late October or early November. It's a rough life! 10) He gives everybody nicknames which make no sense to me whatsoever! Just ask Scooter, Pop - who is 17, Petunia and Luther.

Now on to my Dad. I know a little more about him than I do Popo - so here goes. My Dad is the second to the youngest of six. His Dad had three children when his first wife died shortly after the birth of their third child. He met my grandmother and they married and had three children together. My Dad is the middle of those three. I never knew all my aunts and uncles weren't by the same mom because nobody ever made an issue of it. When my Dad was just a little guy of 12, he was very much into photography. He hopped a bus to Nashville - which is roughly an hour from where he grew up, by himself, to pick up an enlarger and then rode the bus home. Why did Ma let him do that? There's NO way you could do something like that now! He was always a snazzy dresser in high school and once wore white shoes to school in the middle of winter - earning him the name 'Summertime Sam'. (I love that story!) He worked his way up from being the low man on the totum pole to an Assistant Principal Engineer when he retired. While working on the Space Program in Florida, he was a wedding photographer, pilot, avid hunter and gun nut - making his own ammunition and building his own black powder guns, computer nut, furniture builder - I can't remember what else! It seems like there was always something he was into. While Daddy worked at Cape Kennedy, he met Gus Grissom. He was even working the night the space craft caught on fire on the pad and all those poor astronauts died. What a helpless feeling they all experienced that night. Daddy has always been an excellent provider and Mom was able to be a stay-at-home mom the entire time my sister and I lived at home. He is also an excellent source of positive thinking and a great Christian. I know he's helped me through some rough emotional patches in my life and still does. Daddy had an accident a few months after he retired and has been paralyzed on the left side since. Although his physical life has drastically changed, I don't think of it as defining him. He has just had to find a new way of doing things. R & L keep him quite entertained with all their antics!

Although I have some current pictures of Daddy, I LOVE this picture! He still looks like this to me - add some gray hair and a beard and there you have it!

Okay, here's another picture. This one was taken when L was just a little bitty thing. We were staying at Disney and L was explaining something to Daddy. I love this picture because Daddy is really giving L his undivided attention.

Happy Father's Day Popo and Daddy! We love both of you!

June 16, 2007

What really happens when we leave the house

This afternoon RL and I had been grocery shopping. We were carrying in the groceries when I happened to look up. There, on the loveseat, in my knitting spot, was Ginger. The remote was next to her butt, just like when I sit there. She was sitting there like she had been waiting all day for me to leave so she could have 'the good spot.' The light is pretty good. the view of the television is the best. All the knitting necessities are on the little table right next to the loveseat. It doesn't get any better. Does she even have her legs crossed? Geez!
Now, on to knitting stuff. Have you ever heard of a 'blank'? I think that's what they're called, but I could be wrong. Anywho, from what I can gather, it's yarn that is knit just like a sock, but without the heel and toe. It's just knit until it's the length you want or the yarn is all knit up. I've seen them on the internet, but don't really know where you can buy one. This way you can see what the dyeing will look like on a somewhat finished project. Well, R has a Barbie knitting machine and decided to make one. She took some yarn that she ordered from Knit Picks to dye and knit the entire skein with the knitting machine. When she was finished, she folded it so she could dye it in bands of green. I believe she used two different shades of green.
Here it is folded accordian style with dark green at the bottom and a lighter green at the top.

This is the same 'blank' unfolded.

Now it's been refolded so she can add the third color. I like this picture. It looks like fresh broccoli stalks to me - rubber bands and all!

The last color has been added and it's hanging to dry. It looks a little like it's felted a little, but I think she can still ravel it.

I'm anxious to see what all this is going to look like when she's finished. She started ravelling it to wind it into a ball, but it was still wet. Although we haven't had any rain - until this afternoon - it's been humid and hasn't dried like it should.

And there are other pictures around that I'm not sure I want to post yet. Man, have you ever taken a picture of something in your house and then thought, "Gee, my house is filthy! I am NOT posting pictures on the off chance that somebody will see that spot of mildew or dust or that stain or whatever." So, I will just tell you about the rest of our dyeing adventures instead of show you pictures - until I get the courage or get to where I don't give a crap about the background!

I think our neighbors are moving because of us. Mom said we are 'eccentric' and I think she's right. Shoot, I KNOW she's right. I wanted to dye some yarn with a striping pattern, but didn't have a 20 foot space to wrap the skein. RL and I went outside and moved one of the horseshoe pegs so it was 20 feet from the other peg. RL held the yarn onto the peg until I got it going. Man, I must have walked a mile. You are being forewarned, the yard looks like crap, but I'll show us in action:

Here I am kneeling and tying off the sections for the stripes. RL is standing over me and helping when I need it. L is sitting on a stool looking about as interested in what we are doing as he possibly can. Maybe that's why he's reading!

After it was dyed, it needed to be wound into a ball. I was going to use the horseshoe pegs to hold it while I walked in circles around them winding the yarn. However, hot water does wonders to yarn and it had a shrinking problem! RL agreed to hold one end for me while I put the other end on our neighbor's fence post. Little did I know, he decided NOT to hold it with his hands, but looped it over his neck. I'm telling you - this is why our neighbors are moving! We do weird things with yarn! Taking pictures of socks in trees...wrapping yarn around horseshoe pegs...looping yarn around your husband's neck. I'd move too! As soon as I have a swatch of it knit up, I'll post it. I promise I'll take the picture in a clean part of my house...as soon as I can find one!

June 12, 2007

A Good Day to Dye

We are trying something new this summer - we are trying to wake up before noon and get some fun things done before it gets dark. Today the kids got up at 10:30 and you would have thought I was killing them! They survived and were amazed at how much you can get done in one day! First we headed to Knit Picky so R could pick up some needles that she needs to get a project going. On to the grocery store for some things we needed and some Kool-Aid for dyeing yarn. We must have gotten 40 packets at one store and nobody said a word. When we went to the second grocery store and got 40 more packets of different colors, I don't think they believed us when we told them what we were using it for!R chose lemon-lime with a little blueberry for splotches. The splotches didn't turn out, but it made the green a prettier color. We can't decide if her hands look like she's turning into the Hulk or that she strangled Gumby!
This is a pretty accurate picture of her yarn color. It's a whole lot of green! She also dyed some in various shades of reds and purples. I told her she better keep an eye on this color! I might just steal it from her. The picture doesn't do it any justice at all!

Here's one of her artsy pictures. It's the yarn I dyed with pink and yellow lemonades. I don't know why I like those colors together, but I do.

Argosy finally got it's chance to have a photo session without Ginger nosing in. It's such a nice scarf and I'm really glad I made it. I would definitely make this pattern again.

June 10, 2007

Of course it's a Pacer - What else????

Photo courtesy AMC Pacer.com

Don't we look elegant next to our new Pacer? We have even lost weight and feel the need to dress classier just so we can stand next to it.
Yeah, right, Kel. We got a Pacer. Where is your head? We couldn't even bring ourselves to think of such a classy vehicle. Who do you think we are? Wayne and Garth?

Since we couldn't dream of finding such a classy vehicle, we opted for this:

Oops! That's my nervous knitting I did while waiting for the wheeling and dealing to end. It's pretty though and it matches the color of our new car. By the way, yesterday was Knit in Public Day and I didn't even know it. I did manage to knit in public without even knowing it was such a great day. Should have been a bank holiday or something as important.

Nope, this isn't it either. It's my sock from the inside of our new car. Still curious? Keep looking. (Aren't those neat needle holder thingies? Yes, that is the technical term for them, or at least it should be. I got them from the Loopy Ewe some time back and I love them! No more needles falling out or poking me or my bag!)

Here it is! A new HHR. R finally got to drive it last night and fell in love with it. Maybe now she'll get her driver's license and get rid of her permit once and for all. L even expressed an interest in getting his permit. Will wonders ever cease? I think the Expedition intimidated them too much. A little intimidation while learning to drive isn't such a bad thing though, is it?

June 9, 2007

Argosy and Ginger and Big Red

I finally finished my Argosy scarf (from Knitty.com) and only had to use three sets of needles! The Crystal Palace Daisies broke - Knit Picky replaced them with a 2nd pair. Second pair broke when I was about 3/4 finished. Knit Picky offered to replace them, again, or give me store credit. Store credit - by all means. (By the way, Crystal Palace answered my e-mail about the needles and offered to replace them. I really appreciated it but declined since Knit Picky came through for me.) Out came my too long metal needles and I finished the scarf. Since I didn't have a chance to go outside and take pictures, I decided to take them on the back of the loveseat. All was going well.

See, my picture session was just getting started.

Somebody got a little curious...

This exact 'somebody' who is a touch me not decided that I must be doing something interesting.

'Somebody' won out and the Argosy will have it's own photo session at a later date. How could I resist taking pictures of Ginger when she's so desperate for attention - something that rarely happens?

What happens when a full glass of ice tea spills onto your keyboard? You get a new keyboard! It's a little hard to navigate around this new one, so if there are any boo-boos, that's why.

Today we said good-bye to Big Red. We have loved our Ford Expedition - almost to death - and it was time to replace it. We went to find a new family car, with no intention to buy, but that quickly changed when a deal fell into our lap - after some negotiations, of course. When you have a 16 year old who is showing NO signs of slowing down heightwise, an Expedition is the car to have. However, when gas is over $3.00 a gallon, it's time to second think an Expedition! The first time RL came home from the pumps after paying $75 for a tank of gas, and near tears, it was just too much. I hate to see a grown man cry! What did we get? Well, since it's too dark outside to take pictures you'll just have to wait until tomorrow! I'll also have a picture of a sock I nervously knit on while the wheeling and dealing took place!

June 6, 2007

Little Michigan Peanut

This is Nicholas modeling his beautiful Michigan hat. His Dad said he was a little cranky and not really up to a modeling session, but I think he looks just fine. He looks like a little peanut in a hat that will not fit him for at least another winter! I thought it was best that he have a hat he could grow into. He's a cutie.
I finished the Argosy scarf. It's not blocked yet, so there's no picture to show. I meant to get some foam core boards so I could block it, but left the store this afternoon with just about everything else but that. I even asked L to remind me - but I forgot to remind him to remind me again. Maybe tomorrow. I want to start some socks, but I've got an order coming from Knit Picks with the needles I need, so I have to be patient. Wish me luck on that whole patience thing!
By the way, Knit Picky did give me a store credit for those lousy Daisy needles. I really appreciated that. They are nice needles and easy on the hands, but if you knit a lot and want needles to last through at least one project, don't get a pair of them in size 5!

June 5, 2007

What is wrong with this picture?????

What indeed! Second pair of #5 Crystal Palace Daisy needles. Second time the tip has broken off. First time I chalked it up to defective needles. I have NO idea what to chalk it up to now. I'm not a tight knitter. My knitting guru, R, has assured me of that. I've e-mailed Crystal Palace, but have yet to hear from them. I guess it's back to the LYS and throw myself on their mercy and hope for a store credit. I love Crystal Palace bamboo dpns and consider it a privilege to knit with such great needles. These needles - forget it! Never again!

What is this? I had to order some needles to make those socks that my Mom loves so much. Knit Picky had a huge sale last week on their needles and sock yarn and sold out of the needles that I needed. My knitting guru has confiscated my other needles of this size and they are in one of her many projects upstairs. Believe me, it is easier to buy a new pair than to try to locate the other pair. Somehow or other this sock yarn found it's way to my house. How did that happen? Yes, it's from the Loopy Ewe, the great place with the wonderful customer service - and I mean that 100%! Guess what it's called!!! Florida! Being a native Floridian, I had to get it. Now to find the perfect pattern... They also had a NC colorway, but it was sold out. I can get that anytime, I hope, but I had to get Florida.

This, my friends, is the scene of the crime. The local squirrels empty this feeder out faster than I can fill it. I had noticed that the strings holding it up were looking a little frayed the past few weeks. RL told me to look outside and there it was. Poor feeder - it dropped six feet to it's doom. I'm going to have to devise some sort of something or other to hang it so the squirrels can't chew through it this time. Must think like a squirrel and be craftier than them!

I have to wish a happy birthday to my favorite cousin today. Happy Birthday Shirley! I wish I had some sort of embarrassing picture to post, but I don't. You're my favorite and I want to continue to be on your good side, so we'll just leave it at the birthday wish! I love you!

As for knitting content, R is feeling better and has started knitting on her Lady Eleanor stole again. I'm still plugging along on my Argosy scarf. It will be finished soon provided my needles don't break anytime soon. Luckily I found a good old metal pair and will, hopefully, finish with those. I'll post a picture as soon as it is finished or blocked or both!

June 2, 2007

A day late and a dollar short

With all the sneezing and coughing around here I completely forgot to blog about a very special day. Yesterday, June 1st, was our 10th anniversary of living in NC. We had big plans. We were going to get some Moravian sugar cake, go to Old Salem and then out to dinner to eat NC BBQ. However, nobody felt up to anything more than watching old movies, eating chicken noodle soup and occasionally moving from the couch to the recliner. Seems like that's the way special days have been this year.
We did discover something special this evening though. Right above R's garden is a cardinal's nest. We had been seeing a baby and its Mom and Dad around the feeders lately, but had no idea where they were coming from. I was headed into the house and just happened to look up. No more than two feet above my head sat their little home. We thought it was abandoned until a little later when Dad started getting a little testy and was trying to persuade R that she needed to get away from the nest. Then Mom later came in for a spell. I didn't manage a picture of them, but I still think their home is special enough for a picture!

When R went to turn on the hose she heard a noise and jumped back. She said there's always something alive in the bushes by the hose and she doesn't like it one bit! Then we saw it...a big brown frog. He's kind of hard to make out in the picture, but believe me, he is there and big and ugly! I leave you with a picture of portulaca and a cactus growing in R's garden. It's such a pretty and vibrant flower.
Happy Anniversary to Us!!!!!

June 1, 2007

Cough, cough, achoo

Not a whole lot has been going on here this week. RL came down with a cold over Memorial Weekend and decided to share. As soon as he was back to work, R and L came down with it. I'm slow to catch on and decided to wait until the kids were feeling their worst before I came down with it. So, between the coughing, sneezing and nose blowing, not a whole lot is getting done. Luckily the monthly birthday cakes for RL's work were finished before everybody felt their worst. We didn't take many pictures this time because we were sick of cake by the time they were finished and didn't feel like posing them for a proper photo shoot! This was the best looking one out of the bunch. It was not a good day for cake decorating!

Remember the little cable hat I made last month? Well here's the fine looking fella modeling it for us. Isn't he a cutie? I'm so glad the hat fit. It looks like if it was a little smaller it wouldn't have worked.

This is currently on the needles for me. (R hasn't felt like knitting - at all. That's how we can tell she is sick.) I got this yarn when Noro was on sale at Knit Picky. I don't know if I'll have enough and that's a bummer. As long as the dye lot is close enough, I'll be alright. I just won't be getting it at 40% off! The pattern is from Knitty.com. It's the Argosy pattern. I definitely think it will look better when it's blocked.

Here's a picture of the needles I am using. They are Crystal Palace Daisy needles, size 5. This is the second pair since I started the scarf. See the cute little purple tip? Well, on my first pair, it popped right off! I was reminded that I didn't pay top dollar for these needles and that's right. However, I would like a pair of needles to last through one project! So far this pair is hanging in there.

Pray for us to get better and to keep our sanity through the sniffles, coughing, sneezing - you get the picture!