Saturday, December 27, 2008
On the other hand -- the pierogi from the store were -- good, yes, but -- not like the ones I make. Just different. Except I bought sauerkraut ones, too, and they left a LOT to be desired. Next year. . .
We had a lovely Christmas dinner with friends. We went to their home where we were treated to roast turkey and all the excellent stuff that goes with. The house elf's cheesecake made the trip as well. Somehow two pieces came back home with us along with scads of yummy leftovers that turned into our dinner the next night.
All told, it was a lovely holiday.
My favorite gift -- the house elf gave me a disco ball! OK, a mirror ball to some people -- it's excellent! An eight-inch ball covered with mirror tiles. It mounts on a base that can either sit or be hung, and it rotates. Additionally there is a pin spot that comes with four different color filters. It can likewise sit or be hung. My inner magpie is thrilled. Combined with our rotating christmas tree stand, it's about all I can take!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Yes, the pierogi genes have kicked in, but NO, we are NOT MAKING them this year. In fact, today I went to Kielbasa!, a local Euro-Deli specializing in Polish food, and bought some. Only a few to have for Christmas Eve, and I'll be over it.
You see, there is no such thing as making only a few pierogi. Freeze some? Yes, I usually do, BUT. . . !
I heard an interesting comment on TV this morning about gaining weight over the holiday season. It seems most all of us do. But statistics show (don't you hate those darned statistics?) that overweight people gain more than 'normal' weight people. Go figure.
So hey, I know I'll gain some, but I really don't need to make stuff that will pack on more poundage. And I won't have to hear little pierogi voices calling out to be eaten.
No, I'm not going off the deep end. I don't intend to deprive myself this holiday season -- I don't want to be depressed! -- but will try to enjoy myself sensibly.
And The House Elf was mumbling something about a Bailey's cheesecake. . . .EEeeee!!!
Friday, December 19, 2008
No, not a go-somplace or do-something vacation. Just some time off work to do nothing in particular except whatever I might feel like doing, plus spend some time with my sweetie, maybe take in a movie. Plus he mentioned the other day (and I've felt the stirrings for about a week) that he thought the Polish genes were kicking in. Yes, they do every year about this time. It's pierogi season!
I refer to the Polish traditional Wigilia, the family-based Christmas Eve observance. It remains one of my dearest childhood memories. When all the aunts and uncles and cousins gathered for the evening meal, it was quite a crowd. All the aunts would prepare their part of the feast in advance -- one would bring the soup, another the fish, and so on -- and we'd come around the table and share the bread wafer sent from family ties in Poland.
Now my mom wasn't Polish, but she married into the tradition. And the "official" family pierogi-maker, Aunt Isabel, lived in Pennsylvania, three states away. Needless to say, Mom got pierogi lessons over a summer visit and proved a roaring success. Anyone who has made pierogi knows the work involved, so of course anyone who would make pierogi for that mob was bound to be popular. Curiously, none of the other aunts ever volunteered to make them, always protesting theirs weren't as good as hers (They were right!). So year after year, the pierogi would be made in our kitchen on Christmas Eve Day. I remember Dad and Mom working together all day on them, and the smells of onions frying in butter to slather on them as they were layered in the big roasting pans to be carried to the feast. As I grew older, I felt very important to become part of the process, and Dad readily surrendered his apron, but still hung out in the kitchen to make sure I was doing it right.
As years passed, the family expanded and the tradition went where so many of them do. We sort of kept the observance in our own immediate family units, and we'd send a pan of pierogi over to Aunt Nellie's and she'd send us soup and fish, and so on. But the cousins married and got involved in their new families. Many of us drifted miles and states away. I've never thought of myself as one who grieves over sentiments or memories of bygone days. They are just that -- gone -- not forgotten, but savored, not mourned. Times and circumstances change.
But let me indulge in a bit of seasonal nostalgia. Time to go make a shopping list. Let's see. . . potatoes, cheese, sauerkraut, butter, onions, flour. . .
I wasn't sure where this posting would end up when I started out. I didn't expect this!
Monday, December 15, 2008
I'm tired of this.
Didn't go to work today. No desire to spread the germs they have obviously shared with me.
'Nuff said there.
Upside: some knitting has been accomplished. Not a lot -- I keep falling asleep in the middle of a row -- let's hear it for dextromethorphan. (I'm sure I spelled that wrong, but hey, I'm sick.)
and I'm about to megadose on Nyquil and hit the sack. DH couldn't find the Original Green stuff; this one's Cherry flavor. Sure tastes red! Looks like True Blood. Mmmmmwahahaha. . .
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I had decided to head to Richmond for the bead show today, but canned that idea when I woke up. There were a few things I needed; shopping online may prevail. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel more energetic. Being able to talk would be good, too.
More tea! More horehound!
Dad used to give me equal parts of lemon juice, honey, and whiskey when I was a kid. He called it tea, but I don't think Mr. Lipton ever came near it. It was hot and good and I slept like a log. Mom claimed it was the Vicks Vap-O-Rub, but I don't know. . . .
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Another craft show is over. I knew it would not be good. It was better than I thought it might be in terms of sales. It was what sold that depresses me. No, it was what DIDN't sell.
Twice a year I participate in the Colonial Williamsburg Employees Arts & Crafts Show. I spend way too much time working on jewelry and accessories for the event. (We're talking months here -- actually most of my free time all year is devoted to the shows.) This year was no exception.
Given the state of the economy and the fact that my employer is in the throes of blood-letting that seem to have no end in sight, I approached the show with a cautious attitude. I tried to have a good supply of small items (under $20) to attract sales. Pins, collage necklaces, copper shawl pins, small purses. Nice things, but not the creative challenge I enjoy when making a unique piece of jewelry or the sense of accomplishment as I take a completed shawl off the loom.
Yes, I did sell a shawl -- my major single sale of the weekend -- and one "nice" necklace. A bracelet and a large pin went, too. The rest was the small stuff, including the cookies made by the house elf. I have to admit, we didn't make much on the cookies; most of the profits were passed out to friends or (gasp!) eaten by locals. Chocolate is a wonderful thing.
Now I suppose I should be happy that I've little stock to replace before the next show. In a way I am, but there's a tiny little voice inside suggesting that I need to make more; perhaps the jewelry I have wasn't good enough -- it didn't sell -- or perhaps not trendy enough, the wrong color, size, who knows???
Common sense tells me otherwise. I'm not the only one who had a less-than-stellar show. Though there was a fair amount of floor traffic, the lookers far surpassed the buyers. I've done the C.W. Employee shows for (about 10) years, and I'm proud to say I've developed a positive reputation with repeat business and referrals. Yet there were not many familiar faces there this time. I also have to consider that some of my colleagues no longer have jobs, much less the money to spend on other than necessities. Indeed, there is anxiety on my part that others of us are moving toward the same fate.
What remains to be seen is how I will respond. Right now I'm in a grungy funk. Depressed. Insecure. Additionally I'm in the creative slump that always (for me) comes after the weeks of preparation and the show itself. I don't want to see another bead or fiber. For at least three more days: there's a bead show in Richmond this weekend! Never mind I don't have any money to spend on beads. I probably won't go, but I am feeling the need to make something. Let's hear it for stash!
So yes, the muse is still there. The self-esteem is badly bruised, but has to admit that it tripped and fell over its own two feet, not someone else's. Depression -- this, too, shall pass.
These are hard times for all of us.
It's the economy, stupid!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Now how can you not appreciate that?? A camera can only capture a bit of the moment, and my photos are an attempt to do that. Though far from professional, I think I don't do too badly. The moment is captured for me, and if sharing encourages just one person to look around and really see the true beauty of this earth, then I am happy. OK, enough of that rant.
Bunnies aside, we met this little fellow on the way to dinner, waiting patiently at the lodge dining room door:Hmmmm. . . are those nose- and paw-prints and drooly smears on the glass? I think he might have been here before, huh?
And bold as brass. He let me get down right on his level and snap several pix: guess he thought he'd be compensated for his efforts. It didn't work. Later we heard that he was indeed a frequent visitor here and had a cache under the stairs. He takes food offered, runs down the stairs, stashes it and comes back for more. When no more treats are forthcoming he retreats to his treasures and stuffs himself. A clever creature. Cute, too.
The next night we were late getting in, and I decided to sit out on our balcony and watch the moon rise. Oh, my! How incredible.
Suddenly there was motion, rustling and foot-pattering. Startling, but obviously nothing large enough to pose an actual threat. I was highly amused to see a young racoon trundling along the balcony railing. Could have been the one in the picture, or a friend. He came up to where I was sitting, looked at me, turned around and headed back the way he had come. Do you think the scent of chocolate is attractive to raccoons, too?
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Seriously, my ADD self knew that when I started this blog, it'd be a challenge to keep up with on any kind of regular basis. I was right!
So many things to tell!
Actually I can't possibly remember them all, so it'll be hit and miss -- mostly miss, I"m afraid -- to catch up.
First, apologies to those who may have been following this blog. Many of you know me and that I am easily distracted, highly disorganized, try to do more things that I ought, take an awfully long time to do them, and . . . oh, well. I'm a bit of a lazy bitch at times, too. Oh, look! A bunny!
And so -- New Mexico was a memorable experience, hopefully to be revisited in the not-too-distant future. We'd like very much to retire there someday. Soon!
Where did the summer go? We got back from New Mexico, took a breather for a couple of weeks, then headed out on the bikes for another vacation. First to Buena Vista, VA for A Laid Back Affair, an annual gathering held by the NNMC. It's always a fun weekend, and this year with "Margaritaville" as its theme was no exception. Nice mountain riding, too!
We laid over for an extra day after the weekend, mostly to sober up and find/pack our stuff. Then off again to Cumberland Gap, TN to visit friends. Wonderful country there, and wonderful people too. The wildlife was a bit peculiar, though. Wild turkeys in particular.You'll have to turn sideways to view this properly (technically challenged tonite) and be sure your sound is turned on:
As I said, peculiar. We had a fabulous time, saw incredible mountain scenery, went to a yarn shop in Knoxville, ate yummy food and just had a fun time! Thanks, you two!
Time went by too quickly, and we were on the road again, this time to Breaks Interstate Park. Known as "The Grand Canyon of the South," this out-of-the-way little jewel sits on the VA/KY border. Did I say middle of nowhere?
Breaks will have to wait for another time, as it's getting very late and I have to (shudder!) work tomorrow.
And I now have an etsy shop! Ratbiker's Emporium at www.ratbiker.etsy.com
Have a look!
Monday, September 1, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The day was beautiful, and we headed east over the Organ Mountains.
Heading over the mountains brought us into the Tularosa Basin, an ancient lake bed which is the location of the world's largest gypsum desert, White Sands National Monument. You may also recognize the name as associated with the missle test range, but we didn't go there, just to the National Park area. The visitor center was only a teaser for what was in store. We passed on the opportunity to get saucers for sledding on the dunes, and opted to drive the scenic loop tour. We started out in fairly vegetated desert, but the further we went, the more vast the whiteness became. We were soon surrounded by dunes. Kids were indeed sledding (saucering?) the dunes. It was surreal to be enveloped by the whiteness and not have it be snow! It looked like snow, and the "feel" and soundlessness of driving on the sand-packed road was eerily similar, albeit 90+ degrees and without the slipperiness.
We were chagrined to learn that there would be a Full Moon Walking Tour that night. We'd be unable to attend because we had an early morning breakfast date miles away. After a brief but fascinating tour, we decided the White Sands deserved a future visit to explore more and perhaps the opportunity for a Full Moon Tour.
We pointed the car eastward again and headed for Alamogordo. We'd seen the curious phenomenon of the desert rainstorms, where you can watch the rain and lightning descending from a cloud not too far away while all around is sunshine and beautiful weather. As we headed into the mountains we were destined to experience one of these storms. It was fairly brief, but very intense, including a torrential downpour, lightning and thunder, and pea-size hail.
Once the rain subsided, we were treated to a pleasant drive into the mountains. After Alamogordo we headed south to Carlsbad and put up for a very brief night. We hit the sack early and got up at 3 a.m. for our breakfast rendezvous with the bats of Carlsbad Caverns. Yes, I said BATS! Thousands and thousands of them. I personally think bats are way cool and fascinating, though I realize not everyone shares this opinion.
At any rate, the event we were to attend was the 51st Annual Breakfast With the Bats. No, we didn't really eat with them. We went to Carlsbad Caverns, about 30 miles out of the town of Carlsbad, where we and a large number of fellow bat fanciers were treated to a humongous burrito breakfast feast by the park ranger staff at 4 a.m.
I was thinking about getting a second cup of coffee when a ranger came through the dining area announcing that the bats were arriving. We hastily scuttled the breakfast remains and filed quietly down the pathway to the Bat Amphitheater where we were seated on stone/concrete benches in the pre-dawn.
By way of explanation, the bats (Mexican Free-Tails) live in the cave, or at least one chamber of it, during the day and spend the summer nights foraging for insects, making baby bats, and doing whatever else it is that bats do. Winters find them migrating further south where they can find food; they don't hibernate, unlike some bat species. Now this is probably more than you care to know, so I'll cut it short. The public are allowed to view the bats from the amphitheater each evening as they leave the cave. But once a year, the park allows viewing of the bats as they return from the night's hunt and descend into the cave opening.
We were cautioned to be as quiet as possible and forbidden to use any electronic devices (cameras, phones, video cams, etc.) out of consieration for the bats and our fellow bat-viewers.
The dawn was perhaps a faint promise in the east when we became aware of the bats. One by one at first, and then in increasing numbers they flew over our heads and down into the mouth of the cave. As the sky lightened we could see their silhouettes as they flew. At my age, their echo-location sounds are inaudible, but the velvety rustle of their wings was fascinating. These bats are not of the tiny 6-inch varieties that populate my eastern habitat. No, their wingspan approaches 12 inches. A few low-flyers moved the air enough to be felt, but I must add that (for you bat-fearers out there) NOT A SINGLE BAT landed in anyone's hair or proved otherwise hostile!
As the dawn became more evident, we saw other sillhouettes in the sky, but these were leaving the cave. It seems that swallows have taken up residence in the rocky hollows near the mouth of the cave, and a strange sort of "shift change" manuever ensued as bats flew in and birds flew out, again I might add, without collisions.
We were among the first 150 people to arrive at the bat event, and were thus offered the opportunity for a free lantern tour of the cave. Our group headed in at 6:30; by this time all the bats were in and the sun was up. We descended into the mouth of the cave and down, down, down into the darkness, illuminated by the faint glow of a dozen lanterns spaced among about 75 of us.
I had a photo here, but it has disappeared and won't reload, so I suppose I shall have to continue in another post. Just as well; it's getting late. Another time. . .
Thursday, August 21, 2008
They really sounded better than this video indicates, though the guitar player did seem to be in his own zone from time to time. When I put a tip in their box they stopped to talk to me and proved to be quite fascinating.
While we were looking for the location of the market, we drove around the main section of downtown and finally parked in this lot. Imagine my surprise when I got out of the car and looked up at the building in front of me!
BTW, did you know that New Mexico is the only state that has U.S.A. on its license plates? Seems that a surprising number of people think that it's actually part of Mexico! I'd heard folks from Alaska and Hawaii remark that their states weren't always recognized as such, but at least New Mexico is part of the contiguous U.S.
We thought it might be a good idea to get a feel for some of the local real estate in terms of price, location, and the like. We contacted a realtor who agreed to show us around with the understanding that we were NOT in the immediate market for a home, but would like to get an idea of what we could expect to find in our price range. We were pleased to see several places that we liked, and wished that circumstances permitted us to move immediately when we found one especially lovely home with a mountain view at an attractive price. I suppose there will be another in a few years when we are ready to make the move.
These explorations took us a couple of days, and as you will see, the adventure continues. Stay tuned. . .
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Next we have Ginger. The Hostess. Nearly always at the door to greet me when I arrive and anxious to make sure that food and water bowls and litter boxes are tended to in due fashion. Always the first to check the litter box after it's been cleaned, no doubt to make sure it's up to her standards! A very sociable kitty who enjoys a good body rub.
Mittens is the character of this bunch. She truly believes that if she works on me long enough that I'll relent and open the door to let her OUTDOORS! She climbs on me, rubs against me, licks me, purrs, and miaows ever so plaintively in hopes of getting to go OUTDOORS. She is a sweet kitty, but the cabin fever is getting rough on her, poor thing!
And the matriarch, the ever-so-above-all-this-outdoor-nonsense Killian. I'll just stay curled up here and nap, if you don't mind. You may pet me and rub behind my ears if you wish. I'll purr gently, but don't expect any rash displays of affection. The sweet, little-old-lady kitty.
And there you have "The Girls," as I've come to think of them. I do enjoy cats, and these four are special treasures. Their Humans will be home tonight, so my duties will end and Mittens will get to go OUTDOORS at last, along with Nala & Ginger.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
It's okay, but I'm not wild about it.
I couldn't resist snapping a photo of one of our resident pond frogs, Fergus. (Okay, I know I'm a little off the deep end when it comes to animals, but doesn't he just look like a Fergus?) Fiona, the shy one, hit the water with a splash as soon as she saw me headed for the pond. The pair of them were on this rock, a favorite morning hangout. She's a bit larger than Fergus and has quite a bit more green.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Sorry for the sloppy skein -- it's a personal shortcoming -- but ain't it purdy??? It's very nice in real life. 2 ounces, 140 yards.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
And finally, a delightful 725 yards (5.25 ounces) of 2-ply SKINNY yarn! Ask me why I didn't measure WPI? Duh.
I am just happy with it. IMHO, it's the best yarn I've spun yet in terms of consistent thickness and twist. The colors are yummy. I had passed on buying this roving before, but was at Colonial Fiber for a Sunday Sit-n-spin session and decided to chance it. Spun a bit in the shop on my drop spindle and decided it was a keeper. Put it aside for a while to finish other spinning projects. Finally got to it.
Now I don't know what to knit with it, but am toying with a Leaf Lace shawl from Evelyn A. Clark's "Knitting Lace Triangles." I think the yarn and pattern would both be shown to advantage.
If only I could finish the other 42 things(at least) I have going. Let's see -- a pair of socks, three lace shawls, a hat, a sweater for DH, an Einstein jacket, 2 or 3 bags to finish & felt, a vest of sari silk yarn I'm committed to. That's knitting. Spinning-- 2 partial fleeces to finish carding, a pound or so of llama to card and spin, alpaca, bamboo, soy silk, angora, a bunch of icelandic pencil roving to spin & dye (or an EZ Adult Surprise Jacket??), targhee, rambouillet, some hemp tow (toe?) and an ounce or so of hair from a friend's cat. There's more, just can't remember. Then beadwork -- 2 major projects going that need finishing soon, a host of smaller things, and stock to replenish for the fall craft show. Oh -- Weaving--TriLoom shawls to be done for the show as well, and I've got an old rigid heddle loom that's been calling out to be warped for a couple of things. And let us not forget the remains of the skinny yarn roving -- I've spun that quickly and rather texturally with the thoughts of trying my hand at coil yarn or something else artsy to use on the RH loom.
So what are YOU doing to keep off the streets?
. . . And on the Alien Crystal front, the local fauna are not impressed. They continue to enjoy the imported flora during the dark hours, in spite of the glow. And we've observed it blinking/pulsating in the early pre-dawn hours. We figure it's signaling the Mother Ship. . .
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The frogs defended me loudly while I prodded the thing with a stick.
Whatzit? The basic solar-batteryoperated floating glowing plastique waterlily thingy.
You just can't trust cat-sitters these days.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Or would that be sock? Imagine my surprise when I looked for the yarn to change and discovered I had been knitting with it. Tink.
I had this sock yarn in my stash from several years ago. It's Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Rainbow colorway. A bit bright perhaps. I chose the Jaywalker pattern (from Grumperina). I thought the zigzag look would go well with the rainbow striping. So far I like it.
These are also the first time I've tried top down. Somehow toe ups are safer feeling; knit until you run out of yarn, then stop. Top down leaves me wondering if I'll have enough yarn to cover my fat legs and feet. I guess I can always make the toes purple or something.
Now I have to figure out what pattern for the Trekking I bought. Pomattomus? Monkeys? Widdershins? Probably one of the three. But I got a sock book from the Library, too. Let's see, I think I have some more sock yarn stashed somewhere. . .
HELP!!! I may be addicted!