Plenty of Pretty Things

"I don't think it's fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all."
-Amy March, Little Women

I've been thinking to myself, "What this blog needs is a knitalong."

The Amy March Slippers Knitalong
With your glamorous and intelligent hosts, Bethro and Challoner (erm, that's my alter ego).

Coming soon to Ravelry, My Own Two Cents, and Half Soled Boots. The designer is Stephanie Dosen of tinyowlknits, and she has waved her wand of blessing over this whole enterprise.

Here's what we're going for:

This will be a fast knit, darlings - so all you people who have been longing to try knitting, or knitting socks, or knitting in the round, or a figure-eight cast on, or fiddling with ribbons, Fear Not! For Behold, I bring you a two-evening project.

You'll need some bulky weight yarn with appropriate double-pointed needles (designer says 6mm) and some ribbons. Stephanie has written up the pattern for us, and after a quick test knit by your quirky and magnanimous hosts, we will be starting the knitalong.

Watch this space, or this space, or this space, for more news.

Edit: The Ravelry group is up - you can find it here.

Note: If you are not yet a member of Ravelry I politely, but inexorably, urge you to consider it. It's likely that much of the discussion will centre around the yet-to-be-created Rav group, and you wouldn't want to miss out on any of that. If you have even a slight, desultory interest in hook and needle, you will be very happy you joined.

Progress on multiple fronts

Yesterday evening, with fingers and toes crossed, I reattached the browband on Willow's bridle and attempted to bridle her from the off side. Easy-peasy! No protest from Willow. Almost one year after the development of the ear phobia, we're back to almost-normal. See ya, twist ties!

Now that Willow's teeth are happier, I started up work in hand again, after several weeks' hiatus. Yesterday I got two true steps of piaffe, left-hind then right-hind, where she sat way down behind and stepped well under her center. Yay, Willow!

I think left-lead canter is finally starting to break out of the first-level plateau we've been stuck at. I'm finally feeling glimmers of pushing from my seat rather than being pulled along. Right-lead canter still has echoes of its giant, galumphing past. What fun would dressage be if everything came easy?

Prima Socka

Marina Piccola II

Pattern: Marina Piccola, by Kate Gilbert
Size: 78 stitch sock, to fit women's size 8.5-9 (UK size 5-6)
Yarn: Sock, by Sweatermaker. 80% merino, 20% nylon (I think....not sure as no ball band)
Yarn Source: Fun Knits, Quadra Island
Yarn Cost: FREE because the skein was tangled like Days of our Lives
Needles: 2.5mm Addi Turbo 100 cm long, for magic loop
Tension: 9.5 sts/inch in stockinette
Cast on: February 10, 2008
Bound off: March 29, 2008
Modifcations: Used "m1" instead of "m1 left" or "m1 right". Couldn't see much difference on such a dark yarn, and the m1 was way faster than the m1L or m1R.
Notes: I like this pattern. This is my second time through it. One thing I don't like about it is that there is no glossary given, despite the fact that this is a purchased pattern, so you are not sure exactly how she wants you to do your increases. The first time I knit it, I spent a bit of time browsing around the internet looking up different ways to "make one left' or "make one right". I wasn't happy with any of the methods, especially since I knit socks so tightly, so I eventually abandoned the directional increase in favour of a generic one.

The star toe could be explained better. The method is easy enough, but I would have liked her to be more exact about how to arrange the stitches so that the decrease lines would be in the right places. This is probably just as much my problem as hers, since I was using the magic loop method and the pattern is written for DPNs.

I LOVE the cast on that Kate calls for. You cast on more stitches than you need (114 for a 78 stitch sock), join in the round, and on the first row you k2tog, p1 all the way around. So you've decreased your extra stitches straight away, loosening up the cast on edge so there's no tightness at all, but it's also not droopy. What's hard to remember is to simply cast on at a good tension, rather than doing my "I'm-casting-on-for-a-sock-so-be-loose" thing.

The sock that results is very comfortable. It's nice and clingy, the twisted rib providing just enough stretch to be snug, without being tight.

I'm glad I have my own pair of these, but I think for my next pair I'll move on to a different pattern. Actually, I think I'll move BACK to a plain stockinette sock for my next pair. I like knitting without looking and this pattern does require your attention.

Finding the connection

Good things are happening with Willow! Although as I predicted, my stomach muscles are complaining bitterly. I've increased the contact in front, and doubled the driving from my seat to compensate. I thought I might get some real resistance from Willow, but she actually felt more content rather than less. I'm getting some great, definite half halts, too.

Before I bought Willow, I had the great fortune to lease a PSG schoolmaster named Aron for eighteen months. Aron rocked my world!

I learned so much from this lovely old guy. To get a left lead canter pirouette, you did the following: 1) half halt, 2) look over your left shoulder. That's it! That's how fantastic Aron is. He doesn't just give you a connection, though. It took eight months for me to really find it, and even then it would come and go. He liked to float just a little behind the bit and say, "If you don't bother me, I won't bother you." He lulls you into thinking the bridge is there, when it isn't. And he can do the tricks even when he isn't through, but he generally goes above the bit.

My point, and I do have one, is that Willow is the exact opposite kind of feeling. She never curls behind the bit, and she likes to have a strong contact. I can get a light feeling from her if I let her carry her neck low, and I've been letting her lull me into thinking that this light contact is a good thing. Well, sure, if we want to stay at first level forever!

So my epiphany came in the past week: Aron is at one end of the spectrum, Willow is at the other, but the end goal is the same: a strong, breathing contact. And even though their issues are opposite, the fix is the same: drive more to get that engine going in back. How is it that dressage can be so ridiculously complicated and yet so simple, all at the same time?

The past two nights I've felt some really thrilling moments in trot and canter, and Willow is more focused and seems to be enjoying the work. Next challenge: learning to sit this monster trot I've created . . .

650 Bone$ Later

Just when I thought my life was getting boring.

I had the day off of work on Friday, so I planned some things to accomplish.

First: Take my car to get the timing belt fixed. Nothing like getting up at 7 a.m. on your day off. When I walked out to the parking lot, I wondered, "hmm, where did I park my car last night?" I didn't see it in the usual places. Then I remembered I parked it beside Neil's truck. Hmm, didn't see the truck, either. We'd been towed.

We have, till now, had temporary parking passes: him, because he wants to sell the truck, and me, because I was waiting to legally change my name and registration first. Well, the passes expired. And the ominous sign in the lot that reads "Between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., any car with expired or no parking pass will be towed," isn't joking.

Ugh. I wrote down the number on the sign for the towing company, and went back inside. Called them. Looked up how to get there by bus. Went outside and had a terrible time figuring out the bus routes (am I completely inept?). Got to the place.

Wow. I think all tow lots are the same. The last time I went to one was in Hawaii, and I swear, this one was identical: Chain-link fenced yard with a crappy trailer inside and frightened cars that just want to go home. Trailer smells like cigarette smoke. Plexiglass window with crude holes cut in it for speaking and passing $$$ through. Big, rough-looking dudes driving tow trucks.

Our cars look so sad. That's my Rav, middle left, and Neil's truck, middle right.

Nasty trailer and another satisfied customer: This guy and I waited for the tow-truck driver to whisk the other cars out of the way so we could get out.

Amazing: The driver came flying around the corner in reverse, backed up to the Mercedes and moved it, then backed up to the red truck and did the same. I'm not at all exaggerating when I said this all happened well within 90 seconds. Their precision and execution are frightening. Um, also the fact that they had JIMMIED THE LOCKS on our cars and removed our expired parking passes!!!! Yeah, Neil called the police to query that one. Doesn't seem AT ALL legal, though they insist it is. Forced entry and theft???

It cost $100 for EACH car. Yeah, I dropped 200 bones to move my car to the other side of a chain-link fence. All because of my stupidity in not getting our passes renewed. Just when I thought I was all growed up and a real adult! Nope, I'm dumb.

Meanwhile, I called the car fix-it people and rescheduled for 1 p.m.

The next planned errand was to get my state vehicle registration renewed (it expired in Feb.! I am an immature, irresponsible girl!), and to get my county vehicle registration. $$$. I ventured to the courthouse. The parking lot was metered, so I fed the meter and went inside.

The best news so far: No lines! I got my registrations and went back out to the lot -- where a ticket tucked under my windshield-wiper blade read EXPIRED TAGS -- $40.

Duh. Seriously, what kind of cop does that? WHY do you think I'm here, where you get your registration??

After going inside where I was assured the ticket would be voided if I filled out a form to contest it, I went back outside to see ANOTHER ticket, written by the SAME cop for EXPIRED METER -- $25.

Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? I scanned the lot for this practical joker, but didn't see any officers. Honestly, it's like he or she was hiding out, waiting to pounce on my car. Well, the meter was indeed expired, so I fed the meter before heading back inside to pay the fine.

I stuck a couple dimes and a nickel in, which left the time on the meter flashing :00. Huh? Looking closer, I read "METER ONLY ACCEPTS QUARTERS." Oh my gosh, this is really is a joke. I found two sticky quarters underneath all the crap in my console. I put them both in, for good measure. This funny, funny cop wasn't going to get me again!

The lady with the ticket-contesting forms advised me to add this ticket to the form I'd already filled out, and she thought they would grant that one, too, so that was cool. Honestly, what a ridiculous comedy of errors.

Finally, I got out to the car fix-it place, where they courteously fixed my timing belt for $430. This was one of the more expensive days of my life.

I actually met some interesting people during my 4-hr. wait, so it was fun:

  • A guy from Sierra Leone who is studying to be a pastor. He has a wife, a 2-yr.-old girl and another on the way, and he advised me to have babies (thanks).
  • A guy whose 20 and 29-year-old daughter and son belie his age (he looked 40, tops, but is actually 51) who works for Lockheed Martin from his laptop in Starbucks every day (I happened to venture into his "office" to get a snack, and I sat in the armchair beside his) who attends a sweat lodge ceremony once a month. He actually extended us an invite. That would make for interesting blogging material!
  • What appeared to be an impromptu meeting of an Alzhiemer's support group at the Toyota Service Center: A group of middle-aged and elderly ladies who were talking about watching their fathers and husbands die of the disease. One of the elderly ladies told a story of someone she knew who visited a nursing home, where his mother no longer recognized him. He said, "Hello. Do you know who I am?" His mother replied, "No, but if you go to the front desk, they'll tell you." LOL! Having worked in nursing homes years ago, I've often found myself the one dispensing that information.
Anyway, the interesting folks helped to brighten my day, and when I got home, I talked to my dear friend, Aly, (see Georgia posts from Oct.) who is coming to visit next week! Then my bay-bay came home and we went to din with another dear friend, Leslie (no, not you, Leslie ;), and her bf, Andrew. And then a movie with the Healeys. Crappy movie (there's a reason nobody wanted "The Sasquatch Gang" from the freebie bin at work). But good company, so although the day started out crappy, it got better and better and the evening was fun.

A Gesture of Goodwill Toward the Planet

I'm spending tomorrow night in the dark. Care to join me?

Saturday, March 29 from 8:00 to 9:00 PM, turn off your lights for Earth Hour.

Overheard in the Family Room

(It is Em's fourth birthday today. Partied out, the kids are sprawled in front of the TV, watching a documentary.)

CHARLOTTE: Hey Em, that man just said that a baby beluga stays with his mother for two years.

EMILY [excitedly]: I could do that!

CHARLOTTE (dispassionately): You did. In fact you get to stay with your mother for LONGER than two years.


EMILY (relieved): Whew -- good.

Body of horse, neck of giraffe

Willow's teeth issues seem to have resolved. She has gone from whole-hearted bucking in the canter, to half-hearted bucking, to no bucking at all last night. This is a good thing, because she's pretty good at bucking. I think she finally realizes the poky places in her mouth are gone.

Her mouth issues were also causing her to suck back (often as a prelude to bucking!) and that hasn't entirely disappeared. I've been patient with the sucking back long enough; last night I did a little butt-kicking. Our first real quarrel! Willow would rather go along to get along, though, so she gave in pretty readily.

Now we're going to get serious about shortening her frame. Willow has a lovely, long neck.

Now she needs to learn to carry it higher and not drop into a horizontal balance whenever she feels like it. Which means I have to get serious about not letting her. Look out, stomach muscles.

Ear phobia update: Willow let me put the bridle on from the off side again last night, although this time she was ready for me and it took a little longer. New carrot therapy exercise: folding her ears forward.

Heard the distinctly "summer" sound of frogs on my drive home from work tonight. Sleeping with the window open. This is for real.

Souvenirs from the gate of heaven

At the gate of heaven little shoes they are selling
For the little barefooted angels there dwelling

Slumber my baby, slumber my baby
Slumber my baby, arru arru.

- traditional Basque lullaby (see below for original Castilian Spanish)

Saartje's Booties for Baby Hana

Pattern: Saartje's Booties
Yarn: Jager Icelandics Single-ply Sport
Yarn Source: a gift from lovely Lizbon, who bought it at Rhinebeck.
Needle: 3mm bamboo double-points
Finished size: 3" long. (Newborn to about 4 months?)
Cast on: March 16, 2008
Bound off: March 17, 2008
Buttons sewn on: March 24, 2008
I made three of these because all babies kick off their booties, but the third one was inexplicably larger than the others until my daughter said "I like dose baby shoes mummy. I twied one on but it was too snall for me." I'm including it anyway.

I tacked down one strap on each of the booties so that the mother wouldn't have to button them both every time.

This pattern was cute - nice and easy. They barely take any yarn, too, so overall they are a definite thumbs up, but getting the button placement right can be tricky. They also look better stuffed, so I filled them up with a bunch of blue cotton balls.

I think the baby's mother will have to put some cotton socks on underneath the booties, as they are a bit scratchy.

There's something so whimsical about booties. I think they've faded a bit from popularity in the last few decades, replaced by socks and little sneakers, or little leather footlets with elastic at the top. But there's a charm about making and receiving them - with their amazing tininess and their rounded edges and their plump looking toes. They just seem so suitable for little teeny babies with their warm, soft, untrodden soles.


A la puerta del cielo vendan zapatos

Para los angelitos que andan descalzos.

Duermete, niño, Duermete, niño

Duermete, niño, arru, arru

First of the year

Log Cabin Afghan

Pattern: How to Knit a Log Cabin Square
Yarn: Naturally Tussock 10-ply, 20 balls with about 3 balls' worth left over.
Yarn Source: Fun Knits inventory counting party
Yarn Cost: FREE, baby. This was the grand prize draw. Replacement cost of the 20 balls of yarn is $11 per ball or $220.
Needle: 5.5mm bamboo circular
Cast on: December 30, 2007
Bound off: March 23, 2008
Finished size: 53" by 63" unblocked, slightly stretched
I had an overall plan for using the colours, but it didn't work out. I had to keep adjusting the colour distribution as the strips got longer and longer, therefore using more and more yardage.

I wanted a slight rectangle shape so it would go all the way from chin to feet. I doubled the width of the strips on opposite ends, twice, to end up with 10 extra inches of length.

A lot of people have remarked that this seems like an awful lot of work. You do have to cast off the entire length of each one of those strips, then later pick up along the entire cast-off length with another colour. There were a fair few ends to weave in, but not as many as one would expect. I did a bit of (sloppy, uncertain) math and figured out I bound off 928 stitches. And that means I also picked up 928 stitches. This is give or take, but basically you're looking at about a thousand stitches bound off and a thousand stitches picked up.

But you're not doing this all at once, so it's really not a problem. It's therapeutic, really, and I would absolutely make another one of these. Maybe with different colours though.

I am completely happy with this blanket. It has this amazing soporific effect on me, its weight and warmth and sheepy smell putting me straight to sleep. Luckily, Mr HalfSoledBoots thinks it's uncomfortably scratchy, so I shouldn't need to worry about him claiming it. He's more of a polar fleece guy.

It was an awful day today. Snowing when we woke up, then rainy, dark and miserable. At 2.30 I made myself a lovely boozy hot chocolate and cozied up with my blanket.
Marshmallow courtesy of Butter Baked Goods. (That marshmallow is worth $0.80, I'll have you know. [Eeesh.])

I can't believe it is the end of March and this is my first finished object post of the year. I don't really know where the time went. But Saartje's booties are lined up for an FO post, and soon I will have my Marina Piccola socks finished, so I guess I'll catch up soon enough.

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Mel over at Pipe Dreams and Purling Plans brought this to my attention last week - it's a new thing called "Messy Tuesday" where we all come clean (but only in the figurative sense) about our 'unideal' homes. She posted her first Messy Tuesday today, and luckily I will never have trouble coming up with something to post on at least ONE day a week.

Just inside the front door. Note the bits of leaf and dirt, bag of thrift store donation, bike helmet, recyclable grocery bags, assorted shoes, and scuffed-up flyer.

The stereo cabinet. The perplexing thing about this mess is that it is so obviously a quick and easy clean. And yet, there it sits. (Let's conjugate that verb: It sits, it has sat, it will sit.)

The top of the cedar chest in my bedroom. Clean, folded towels (they are on about day 8 on the chest), a coin belt (day 7), crumpled discarded clothes (various vintages). At bottom left-centre you can also spot the end of another laundry basket which is full of odds and ends from a crisis clean a few weeks ago. You know the kind of thing - grab a laundry basket and run through the living room, sweeping everything off surfaces and into the basket, deposit the basket in a bedroom and shut the door, with the vague intention of sorting it all out later.

Mel says I should do something that's NOT cleaning and tell you about it, so I will go have a cookie and read some more of Time Will Darken It while the kids are watching Max and Ruby.

Man I have a great life.

Thanks Mel.

Edit: Are you guys serious? You don't think that's messy?! Okay, then what about THIS:
Floor in the corner of the bathroom. NOTE THE DIRT.
Laundry room.
Is that better?
I've got one awful picture I'm holding in abeyance, but please don't make me show you a flash photograph of the floor behind my toilet. Please.

Primavera, Printemps, Springtime

I am looking forward to seeing the cherry blossoms this year in D.C. I missed it the past couple years. Now that I don't work for an accounting firm on the weekends before April 15, and I live in Arlington, I am def making my way across the river to see this glorious rite of spring.

Some cherry plum trees and forsythia are blooming in the courtyard outside my window, so I went out and cut some to put around the apt. And then I got all dramatic with the camera:

Play Dress-Up With Mirror Wall

Happy Easters!

I have (annoyingly -- to myself and, probably, others) found "Nacho Libre" endlessly quotable.

That said, I finally saw a new movie last night. "I Am Legend." Have you seen it? It's very good. I didn't really like the ending, though. At all. But it's good to see a movie that makes you think, even if you think "man, I didn't like how that movie ended."

We went over to our friends' house -- another married couple -- to watch the movie. After dinner with a dating couple. I am thinking it may be true that, after you get married, you find yourselves hanging out more naturally with couples. I don't know. We did hang out with some semi-single folk Fri. night, but everyone paired off at the end of the night.

Nothing too exciting has been going on in my life. I am beating myself up over the fact I haven't done my thank-yous from our wedding yet!!!!! I am a terrible person! I need to do that asap. I was hoping to get some sympathy on beating myself up, and you probably felt sympathetic until I finished the thought with "I haven't done my thank-yous," at which point you probably thought, "You SHOULD beat yourself up! Yes, you ARE a terrible person!!" I know.

Today marks 40 days that we have been married. Crazy. I only know this because when I'm bored, sometimes I look at a link I made:

One thing about me: I like calendars. A lot. Not the pictures. I just like to note the passage of time. The link above used to be a countdown, which was fun. But since Feb. 12 at 10:00 a.m. passed, it turned itself into a ... what's the opposite of a countdown? Whatever counts elapsed time. Cool!

While fact-checking at work, I happened upon this hilarious Jane Austen character dating-game-esque thing:

It features voting for faves from a bio and pic of all the "Men of Austen." For example:

William Collins, from Pride and Prejudice
Age: 25
My job: Rector
My place: Today, Hunsford; tomorrow, Longbourn
My income: Very sufficient, thanks to my patroness, the Right Honorable and Most Gracious Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Favorite things: eating, reading writing, working in my garden
Games and exercises: whist, backgammon, casino, quadrille, walking
Turn-ons: titled society, family connections
Turn-offs: reading novels, anything that displeases Lady Catherine
My friends would call me: stately, formal, grateful, malleable, attentive

I'm not the biggest JA fan, but the bios were funny.

A million sugar cubes for Willow

I took a notion tonight to try bridling Willow the old-fashioned way, but from the off side. Lo and behold, she let me do it! She was slightly concerned about her ears, but nothing like she had been. In about five seconds, the bridle was on. I didn't actually give her a million sugar cubes; it was more like eight. Now we'll have to see if she lets me do it again tomorrow--it's possible I surprised her into compliance tonight.

Maybe I'll be able to ditch the twist ties and reattach the browband before long.

It's the first day of the week.

Last year I blew the contents out of 24 eggs and almost had an aneurysm. This year I prudently settled for twelve.

You can use a glue gun to make pretty designs on your eggs.

Just don't heat the water when dyeing them, or the glue will melt. Cold water, food colouring, and a splash of vinegar work just as well. It takes about an hour for pale colours, longer for darker (depending on how much dye you use in the pot).

Hollow eggs float, so you'll have to use a strainer or something to weigh them down and keep them under the water.

Peeling the glue off is easy and quick, just don't press hard enough to crush the eggshells.

Make sure you empty all the water out of the eggs after they are coloured, either by re-blowing them, or setting them onto dry paper towels to wick the moisture out.

Mound them in a pretty bowl or hang them on a tree with ribbon like I did last year, and celebrate resurrection.

Peace be unto you.

More on Obama

Here's a video somebody took on the soccer field. I actually had a much better view of the senator than this person did, but at least this gives you an idea of the size of the crowd and our enthusiasm!

It's late. Forgive me.

My friend invited us to go swimming with her family the other day. I had planned to skip it, but unfortunately her daughter told my daughter about it and I was cornered. We were pretty pressed for time, but there's a MINIMUM of preparation necessary for public semi-nudity, if you know what I mean, and I can tell you I felt quite resentful that I had to SHAVE MY LEGS IN MARCH. It's still freaking winter, people, plus I have been using the same razor for like nine months ("not using"?) and being out of practice and on a tight schedule it's a wonder I did not end up weltering in my own blood. Then there was that eerie thing when you go to bed and you can barely feel the sheets on your legs because you're too damn smooth.


(Actually this might count as another "crap housekeeper" post. Also I should assure you that I am perfectly hygienic. Leg hair has nothing to do with hygiene.)

"Screen wipe: new scene."
-Andrew, Buffy the Vampire Slayer 6:4

Because I know you're all chewing on your fingernails wondering about my knitting, the Log Cabin afghan was about three hours from finishing, but the needle broke. I just got a replacement tonight. Then there are the ends to weave in, and with luck and good management (ha!) I should have the FO post for you by the end of the week.

The Marina Piccola socks were kind of neglected for a couple of weeks, but I have picked them up again and am determined to finish by Tuesday. I am almost through the heel flap, so it'll get quicker from here onwards, as the sole stitches are in plain stockinette.

I have lost one of the booties for my sister's friend, and have knit another but - TRAGICALLY - they are not exactly the same size. Why this should be, I don't know. I think I will block the small one and stretch it out, and then I will sew buttons on them and send them off. Besides, if she wants two booties exactly the same, she can no doubt find those at China-Mart. (I am being brusque and dismissive to cover up my feelings of chagrin and disappointment.)

By the way, I should ask. I have been noticing there is more Life and less Knitting happening here lately. Is that okay with you guys?

Obama in Eugene

Barack Obama spoke at Mac Court in Eugene this evening at 9 p.m. I got in line at 5 p.m. There were already two insanely long lines wrapping around both sides of the arena and on down past the track and field center.

I made friends with a nice lady named Joyce. I had also brought along a book to read, but Joyce and I passed the time chatting. We were lucky to get an evening with no rain. At 7 p.m. the doors opened and the line started moving slowly. We were four or five blocks from the entrance, and there was another line, just as long as ours, off in the other direction. But everyone was hopeful we'd get in. There were at least as many people in line behind us as in front of us.

The line kept moving, and we were a block and a half from the entrance. I called a friend whom I knew had gotten in and asked, how many seats are still open? Maybe 10%, he said. Uh oh. About ten minutes later volunteers came by and told us the arena was full. BUT . . . Obama would make a brief appearance on the soccer field behind the arena before the rally. Off we trooped to the soccer field!

Can you see the hope?

No one had a clue where the senator would appear, so Joyce and I just chose a spot randomly. We were in the middle of a crowd and couldn't see much of anything. People started to cheer, and we could hear Obama speaking. Suddenly I realized he was right in front of us!

I know that looks like a smear, but I swear, that's Obama. He spoke for about five minutes, then shook as many hands as he could, and off to the rally he went. As we were walking back to the car, we could hear Mac Court rocking and rolling. Oh well, at least I can honestly say I got to hear him speak in person.

Woozy Willow

Willow had her teeth floated today and was an excellent patient. She even tolerated the power tool the vet used in her mouth. She had a few sharp points and ridges, so I bet she'll be a much happier camper now.

She was still pretty stoned when I left; the vet said she'll wake up in a couple hours.

Crayon Physics

I just spent an embarrassing amount of time playing a freeware game called Crayon Physics. You draw rectangles with your mouse, and when you finish drawing gravity takes over and they drop. The goal is to use the rectangles you draw to move a ball towards a star. It sounds kind of stupid, but I swear, once you start it's hard to stop!

After I got through all the levels, I kept playing, drawing levers and seesaws and making rectangles go flying. I'll probably dream about it tonight. Download it here:

The game's developer is working on Crayon Physics Deluxe, where you can draw wheels and axles in addition to rectangles. I signed up to be notified when the game goes live.

A Cautionary Tale

Four things I've learned from being a crap housekeeper.

  1. Boil the potatoes long enough, you barely have to mash them at all. Straining can be a problem though.

  2. Before you attempt to open and scrape out that forgotten Tupperware whose lid is bulging from the noxious gasses within, freeze it until garbage day.

  3. If people come over and you want to make them think you have been cleaning, turn the dryer on. It sounds very productive.

  4. If people DO come over, your oven will hold A LOT of dirty dishes. Just don't forget they're in there.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go find out what that smell in the fridge is.

Proof of Life

This one's for you, Dave.

Just in case you thought the candy store thing was a hoax.

Ten minutes of toddler-y goodness (with a shot of baby)

Here's my brother and his lovely family.

Free lungeing Willow

Even with the bit riding a little higher in her mouth, Willow has continued to give me some signs that something isn't quite right in there, so I have an appointment to have her teeth checked and possibly floated on Friday. In the meantime, I'm giving her and me the week off (no bit in her mouth 'til we get this figured out). Because it's supposed to rain all week (quelle surprise!), she probably won't get much turnout, so I'm still heading to the barn every night to free lunge her.

It's been forever since I've free lunged Willow off the halter, with no other tack. We had fun! It was great to see her naked, so to speak -- I could really tell how much she has muscled up recently. I can also tell that she has built a lot of strength over her topline. She used to like to drag around on her forehand, head to the ground, when I free lunged; now she carries herself in front. She was showing off her newly discovered trot extension, too. I sent her down the long side a few times, tearing alongside her as fast as I could, and she quickly picked up on the game and got very fancy.

She also popped a few flying changes in the canter. Whee!

I'm anxious to get back to riding, but we're both enjoying this change in the routine, too. Maybe tomorrow I'll set out some cavaletti.

The miracle of slipcovers

I've had this black chair for about six years. It's in kind of sad shape, visually, but it's still very comfortable. The dogs' toenails have done a number on the seat, as you can see.

Last week I purchased a slipcover from It's stretch suede in a lovely cocoa brown. It was a little tricky to put on, but the result looks great! It's like a new chair! A new, suede chair!

Someone’s in the kitchen with Dyyye-NAH.

We went for a drive today. We went here and here and stopped to walk around here for a bit. On the way there I did one of these, and on the way back I did the other one.

Above was the post I originally wrote. I think I was going for succinct (though links would have been provided) but ended up just sounding tired and thought I should rework it.

I've been working in the garden, meditating on the teachings of St Alsatius, watching Buffy by night, and planning my spring knitting. Things calmed down a bit in the last few days but right now my oldest daughter has an attitude that would curl your liver. I thought we're about 9 years early for this kind of crap, but apparently 6 year olds are known for it. So I will trudge on, hoping desperately that it's a phase that will pass, and in the meantime flexing my disciplinarian muscles. I have developed several strategies for causing her various degrees of pain and anguish depending on the severity of the offense, so as to avoid having to come up with something on the spur of the moment and, as likely as not, ending up either yelling at her until we both burst into tears (been there, done that, resolved never to go back, but went back so many times I ended up with a frequent customer punch card) or taking away all her toys FOREVER.

By the way, GREAT sentence structure there.

So we are dealing with the six year old. Then there's the saintly almost-4 year old, who has cultivated this lovely nice-as-pie expression which she uses as she's cooing to me "Whatever you say Mummy". She might as well just say "I'm the good daughter" because that's exactly what she means. She puts on this toddlerised smile and cavorts around, pretending to be all innocent and daisy-chain-making, and though she's not fooling me, her poor sister grinds her teeth into a fine grit watching this display of disingenuousness.

Anyway, between the two of them I feel like my mental faculties are always on the brink of mutiny. One of these days I will answer the door wearing a tinfoil hat, playing a paper banjo and chewing on my own hair.

So, this drive. We went to look at the teensy doggies!! And may I say, they have NO RIGHT to be that cute. They wooed me. They chewed on my fingers and lost their footing on my lap and fell asleep with their noses in the crook of my elbow. They did not wee on my jeans (no doubt they've planned that for later).

We left my daughter's cotton rag quilt with the breeder. She will put it into the puppies' kennel for the next month and on April 20, we can go pick up puppy and blankie and bring them both home. It was tricky talking to her and bringing the blanket in and whatnot without alerting my children to our plans (as far as they knew, this was just a friend of ours that offered to let us look at her puppies), but they were luckily absorbed enough in the dogs that they weren't listening too closely to the adults. I didn't manage to get any pictures for you, but there will be plenty after April 20.

On the way to and from, I did this:

This picture makes it look like the baby is half Lilliputian and half Brobdingnagian. I assure you the booties are not so disparate in size as they appear.

Isn't this yarn scrumptious? It's the beautiful Icelandic "Tinkerbell's Wings" colourway that darling Lizbon sent me from Rhinebeck.

We stopped at a place called "Coombs Country Candy and Creamery". I saw the billboard announcing it, then there was one of those highway signs, or whatever, saying "Artisan – Candy". Sounds promising, doesn't it? Well, it was okay, but not fantastic. They were playing this really loud music so you had to almost shout to make yourself heard by the (vacant, barely-civil) girl behind the counter.* But they had a sale where you could get three slabs of fudge for $11. So we got chocolate peanut butter, vanilla, and maple walnut.

The kids wanted an all-day sucker but I'm not such a chump.

We also stopped here. Enjoy the photos (click to embiggen), as well as your first ever (sideways, blurry, distant) glimpse of Mr HSBoots' handsome visage. I have used him as scale for the root system of one of the "Fallen Forest Giants" we passed. (So dubbed by the Forest Service, or maybe Environment, Lands and Parks, or maybe just the dude who writes the text for the nifty signs.)

Boy it's dark in there under the canopy.

This tree is practically roaring "Clumsy Ox come home!"

Where's Waldo?

Too bad I can't provide scale for this fallen tree. I can only tell you it is HUGE. Like, I don't know, maybe a hundred or so meters long? Dunno. HUGE.


"...opened the forest". I like that.

I'll be back soonish. I just realized tomorrow is Monday, and if I can dredge up a book review I'll post it. I'm sure you'll understand if I don't get around to it though….I might be busy cutting out my banjo.

*Note: I have bad luck with these candy-counter girls, don't I?