More Classics, More Funnies

Some more Possum Classics and some funnies which need to be recorded.

1) We were out driving one day and we all noticed two small fires in some farming land. Possum piped up to say, "Look at the fires. They must be burning something." (Well they weren't freezing something.)

2) {Background - In the City of Port Stephens is a little town called Lemon Tree Passage. Locals simple refer to it as Lemon Tree. My mother has a lemon tree growing in her garden.}
On the last morning of our visit to my mum's house in Port Stephens last July, HB handed Possum a bag and said,"Go to the lemon tree and pick 6 lemons for Nanna." Possum looked shocked and questioned him,"You want me to go to Lemon Tree? WALK there?" (Um, no Possum. Not Lemon Tree but the lemon tree.)

3) A funny from Mousie. I was laying on my back on the floor doing my chiropractic exercises. I knew my back was going to make crunching noises, so I said to Mousie "Listen to this!" As I stretched one leg over my body my lower back/pelvis made a huge crack! Mousie looked very worried. She asked "Mummy, did your bottom have a big crack?" (Which promptly cracked me up. I do have a big bottom so that means I also must have a big crack.)

4) Possum was watching the Olympics. I was in my bedroom when I suddenly heard her yell, "Yay!! The Aussies won! The Aussies won!"
"What did they win." I called out to her.
Her answer? "They won the gold medal!"
Um ... I meant which event did they win.

Actually, HB did the same thing the next day. We were in the bedroom when, again, Possum was heard calling out "Aussies won! Yay! Yay!!" I asked HB what they had won, and he said "Gold!" then called out to Possum "They won gold didn't they."

Now, to my way of thinking when you have won an Olympic event you have automatically won a gold medal. I was simply asking which race/event did they win because I was not actually watching at the time.

5) And while we're talking about the Olympics, here's another one. We were all watching the semi-finals of the men's 10m platform diving. Dragon was impatiently waiting for a re-play of the 100m men's relay, and he said something like "I wish the 100m would come on soon."
Possum piped up in a very surprised voice and said "Do they have a 100m dive event?"
Hitting the water after a 100m fall - that would probably be the biggest surprise you'd ever have in your whole life!

6) Another funny from Mousie. We were ready to go to church and Mousie was wearing her special Snoopy name necklace. Possum noticed it and asked her, "Do you know where you got that necklace Mousie?"
Mousie said "Ummmm....... I don't know."
"I bought it for you when Nano took me to Disneyland." Possum informed her.
Mousie's eyes opened wide and she asked, in a voice full of wonderment and awe, "Did you walk there?"
That's a long walk across the Pacific Ocean.

7) And from Mousie again - recently she came to my room early in the morning. She said she was scared and wanted to get in bed with me. So I let her get in the middle between HB and me. Mousie snuggled in and as she started drifting off to sleep HB began to snore very softly. It sounded a bit like a buzzing bee, and then grew in intensity until it sounded more like a chainsaw. Mousie was instantly awake, eyes wide with fright, and she whispered,
"Mummy I'm scared!"
"Why?" I asked, "You're safe here with mummy and daddy."
"I can hear a scary noise." she said.
"Oh that's just daddy snoring." I told her.
"It sounds scary mummy." Mousie whispered.
"Oh, daddy does that all the time." I said. "All night long."
Mousie was silent for a few moments as she listened to HB snoring, and then she said,
"Mummy, you must get very, very, very scared at night."
(Yes, Mousie, sleeping in the same bed as daddy can get quite frightening at times. Especially when he leaps out of bed in the middle of the night and starts commando-crawling across the room, or when he sleep-talks about huge, hairy spiders under the bed.)

8) A while ago Possum was asking why we call her Possum. I immediately answered, "It's because of your beautiful, furry tail." And Possum immediately turned to look behind her, as if she wasn't sure if she had a tail or not and just wanted to check!

Then this morning while HB was holding Kitcat he said to her, "Are you my little kitty?" To which she answered, "Yes." So HB said, "Where's your tail Kitty?" Kitcat just said, "I don't have one. Not like Possum."

(Just as well Possum wasn't around or she may have had to 'check' again.)

Shawl by Paula Bunyan

Dude, seriously.
Ninety-nine inches.

Getting to the fun part

Starting a young horse is a looooong process. I went from riding awesome Aron, the schoolmaster, to riding Willow, a barely-backed four-year-old who didn't stop or steer, and who bucked me off regularly when I was putting the canter in. I also spent a good eighteen months convincing Willow she was able to carry her head somewhat higher than knee level. This past winter I was starting to despair that Willow would ever carry herself in canter, or shorten her canter stride.

This past month, though, we are finally getting to the good stuff! It's so much fun! Today I ran Willow through everything she can do, and I realized the list is getting long! Walk-canter-walk is coming right along. Shoulder-in and travers are confirmed at trot. She's able to maintain a few strides of haunches-in in canter. I can get a respectable half-pass in trot in both directions, although I usually just ask for three or four strides and straighten. Turn on the haunches is not bad. I can get a ten-meter canter circle every so often. Collected canter left is awesome; to the right it's starting to come.

And she felt so good today, I officially started asking for flying changes coming off the diagonal into the corner. I didn't get any today, but I was pleased with how quiet Willow stayed, and I could feel her thinking about the question I was posing. Twice she dropped to trot for two steps and picked up the new lead, so she's got the idea.

On another topic, it's blackberry season. Blackberries are a menace in Oregon. They grow wild and are invasive. I don't actually have any blackberry bushes in my backyard, but my next-door neighbor seems to have an entire backyard full of them, and they've gotten so big they're cascading over the fence into my yard. I went out and picked blackberries for fifteen minutes last weekend so my brother's family and I could have blackberry shortcake for our picnic. Here was my haul, and I wasn't even trying:

Spitting Distance

Don't talk to me please. (Commenting doesn't count.)

Book Week Parade

Yesterday the school held a parade to celebrate Book Week. The children had to go to school dressed as a character from a book. Ducky wanted to be something beautiful. Didn't matter what, as long as she could have a pretty dress and hairdo. I had to reject all of her suggestions because the outfits she wanted to wear were not suitable for the kind of weather we've been having - skimpy fairy costumes, strappy sandals, hula skirts or mermaid bras don't go well with mornings of -2C and maximum temperatures barely nudging 10C.

So I made an executive decision and said she could dress up as the White Witch, Queen of Narnia. I found this white and silver dress at the Op Shop, and it was less than half price because they are trying to get rid of their winter stock. I bought a white feather boa and a fancy necklace at the Op Shop too. I sewed the feather boa along the back of the neckline, and I also had to take up the sleeves and hem, as well as alter the neckline a bit because the dress was too big.

Then we made her a Magic Sceptre out of a roll of newspaper and some silver paper. I fashioned a point at one end. HB said it looked like a silver cricket wicket. It did. I had some silver and pearl strands of plastic beads in my craft box, so I wrapped them around the Sceptre. I told HB if he still said it looked like a wicket I would freeze him into an ice statue then and there. He just smiled in that infuriatingly cheeky way that he does. Then I did Ducky's hair with two little plaits coming around from the front and joining at the back of a high bun. We put her ballet tiara in front of the bun, and a big pearl clip at the back. Add stockings, white heels, a bit of makeup, the fancy necklace and viola! you have a White Witch! (for less than $7.00 too.) Ducky wore her white long-sleeved petticoat dress underneath, and her maroon jacket with the faux fur over top of the dress to stay warm.

Mousie was paying close attention all during the week while these preparations were happening. Then on Thursday afternoon we saw Ducky's school teacher who was accosted by Mousie and made to listen to all the amazingly beautiful things Ducky would be wearing the next day for Book Week parade. Mrs B, bless her heart, listened intently (which is no mean feat considering Mousie's speech problems) and then said, "You can go in the parade too!"

Thanks Mrs B.

"Why don't all your little sisters dress up?" she went on.

Oh double and triple thanks Mrs B. (If she wasn't such a great teacher I would have strangled her then and there!)

So off we went home to find costumes for the little girls. I made another executive decision and told Teddy and Kitcat they could just pop a fairy dress over their normal clothes. But Mousie had been invited to actually parade with Ducky's class. She insisted on wearing her Angelina Ballerina outfit. (I must pause here to thank my mother for giving me all those many, many dressup clothes which my girls love to get out of the chest and strew all over my house. I have muttered under my breath more than once, whilst packing these items away yet again, and wondered if they will ever be useful for something other than messing up the place. Well, I have to admit that they certainly helped me out in a tight spot this week.)

So here's a photo of all four girls at school before the Book Week Parade.

I really didn't think Mousie would go with Ducky and her class, so imagine my surprise when not only Mousie but also Teddy went off with Year 1 around the back of the hall to get into their places??? Here's a photo of Mousie sitting in line with all the big school children. She looks like she belongs there!
I really, really didn't think Mousie or Teddy would get up and parade. So I was surprised again when Mousie not only got up but actually stole the whole show! When it was Year 1's turn Mousie skipped around, danced and waved to everyone in the audience with a huge smile on her face the whole time! Do you think she's ready for big school next year? I do! Here she is parading around the school hall behind Ducky.I was right about Teddy, though. She sat with the big kids and watched the parade, but she refused to get up and walk or dance around.

Kitcat sat with me in the audience and had a great time dancing around in the aisle. When it was Dragon's class turn to go out and parade she caught sight of him. (He wouldn't dress up, so he didn't go out and parade.) Kitcat ran over to him and tried to get him to take her up the front to be a part of the parade. Dragon wouldn't. Kitcat screamed and cried and generally threw a tantrum from that point on. She fell asleep in the car almost immediately on the way home. Here she is - a portait of an exhausted princess.
Dummy update:- Kitcat has amazed HB and me by adapting to the loss of her dummy so far without any drama! Who would have thought out 2year/4month old Dummy Queen would have given it up so easily? She does still ask for it, but when we remind her what happened she says, "That's right, the garbage truck took my dummy away and now the birdies have made a nest from it." (This is an idea she got from a book called "Where's Dummy?" by Kate Simpson.)

Obama's speech

I'm back from attending a party at a local market, where we watched Obama's nomination acceptance speech. There was a competing party at the community center, so the get-together I attended was just a handful of people, but we were boisterous and patriotic. Two people brought their dogs, and one lady bought her pet rat, which perched on her shoulder the whole time. It was a fun group.

My dog Sam's lameness turns out to be a strained ligament, so yay, no surgery required. The vet says it may take six weeks to fully heal, and I'm to limit Sam's activity in the meantime. Sam is a German shorthair, so the vet's orders are fairly amusing.

Mum-me Makes Bunk Beds

Okay, I didn't actually make them, I just assembled them. But it was still hard work, even with all my willing 'helpers' who kept helping the allen key and the screws to run away, and who helped the end pieces fall over and make delightful (that's scarcasm there) clanging noises, and who helped mummy get a really big headache.

It took me over four hours, including breaks.

Including potty breaks, answer-the-phone breaks, snack breaks, get-out-the-colouring-pencils breaks, lunch breaks, break-up-the-fights breaks, turn-on-the-DVD breaks, pleading-with-girls-NOT-to-help-me-anymore breaks, find-the-toy breaks and relocate-the-allen-key breaks.

Anyway, four hours including breaks,

68 screws,

a raging headache

and a blistered thumb later


Ducky on the top bunk in her duck bed with Teddy on the bottom bunk with her teddy bear bed.
Mousie in her Minnie Mouse bed, which is the bottom bunk of the other bed. Yes that's a spare top bunk - any takers?

But, of course, the REALLY special part about the whole event is that Kitcat no longer sleeps in her cot! She now sleeps in her Hello Kitty big-girl bed!!

You can see the prittee white cat-tees on the doona cover more clearly in this photo. (Notice that not only is Miow-Miow present, but also Crazy Cat, a small red neopet cat and, if you look closely, Raffy and Baby Beth. When we put her to bed Miow-Miow was her only companion.)

Kitcat has been quite good in her big bed. She has got out a few times and had a rummage through her wardrobe or rearranged the things on her shelf, but generally she's stayed in bed. And she tends to stay in bed in the morning until I go to her, unless one of her big sisters has gone to her room first and encouraged her to get out. She also has been keeping her covers on! And she's been keeping her head on the pillow! Unlike Teddy who often sleeps the wrong way around, across the bed, or even half on and half off! Kitcat has fallen out of bed once, but we keep a foam mattress beside her bed just like we did for all the others when they first moved to a big bed, so she had a very soft landing. This is also in contrast to Teddy who falls out of bed on a regular basis.

This morning Teddy, who had helped Kitcat get out of bed, came to me with the news that Kitcat's dummy was broken. And it was. So Kitcat and I went out to the big wheelie bin and she said goodbye to her dummy and threw it in the bin. The garbage was collected that day, so I told her the dummy would go to the dump. She looked at her dummy laying in the bin, and she looked back at me, back at the dummy, back at me, back at the dummy, back at me, and finally she said "I'm a really big girl now mummy." (Well, we will see how 'big' she is at bedtime when she really realizes that there's no more dummy.)

No cot, no dummy, no bottles, no change table, no nappies .... this house is starting to look suspiciously like a baby-free zone! We still use the stroller occasionally, Kitcat still uses sippy-cups, and there are still assorted baby toys lying around the rumpus room, so I guess we haven't quite got there just yet.

I wish it fit me.

Ruby's Drifting

Pattern: Fiona Ellis, Inspired Fair Isle Knits, Potter Craft 2007
Size: 2 years
Cast on: August 2, 2008
Bound off: August 21, 2008
Tension: 22 sts, 28 rows in stockinette
Needle: 4.0mm and 4.5mm Clover Takumi bamboo circular
SandnesGarn Smart, 100% pure new wool, 50g (100m)
5226 (A - Plum, 2 balls)
1012 (B - White, 1 ball)
7033 (C - Aqua, 1 ball)
4715 (D - Pink, 1 ball)
8615 (E - Lime, 1 ball)
SandnesGarn Lanett Superwash 100% merino wool. 50g (195m) #5836 (F - Blue, 3 balls, held double throughout)
Yarn Source: Needle & Arts Centre
Yarn Cost: around $60
Modifications: None (ETA: forgot that I did change something. The instructions for the front neck band call for picking up 46 stitches - that works out to more than the number of stitches/rows. I knit the neck band as directed and it was way too long. It was wavy, wouldn't lie flat, and distorted the neck edge. I ripped it out and tried picking up 36 stitches instead - it worked much better. I also decreased after the eyelet row on the front neck, one stitch on each side of the centre 6 stitches, to help it lie flat. This worked beautifully.
1) There is an error in the chart, on row 9. The last 7 stitches should be k3 in colour E, k4 colour A. Chart has k7 colour A with no symbol.
2) I don't like that the fair isle band is worked flat. It would have been just as easy to work the sweater in the round to the armholes, then divide - that would have made the FI band so much easier, and the finishing so much neater.
3) I LOVE this sweater. I wish I could make one for my daughter but I have a feeling it wouldn't look as cute in a gigantic size like a 7 year old, or a 4 year old, would need. I think I have enough yarn scraps to make a hat, though, so I'll get my final Drifting fix that way.

All right, on to the photos.

This first one is to show you how many ends you are looking at weaving in, if you knit this sweater (I'm talking to you, Kristine). It took me two and a half days of weaving - not steadily, but whenever I had a chance. I am careful with ends, and these are superwash, of course, so you do have to run them in pretty thoroughly as they won't felt in by themselves. It was okay though: I just queued up about 15 episodes of Cast On and let my butt mould into the shape of the corner of the couch. When there are this many ends, you have to be careful, too, to not run them all into the seam at the same don't want the seam too thick.

See? Seamy goodness. (The side seam shot is kind of a trademark of mine.)

On this sweater the left side button band opens, but the right side button band does not. You're supposed to just sew the buttons right through both layers, but to make sure Ruby's grownups aren't confused by the mysteriously "stuck" buttonholes, I also whip-stitched the right hand button band closed, so it would stay purty. Didn't get a very good picture of it, though.

Here you can see the left-hand button band as well - the one that opens.

I love the feel of this sweater - the weight of the finished fabric. It's very heavy and warm, but so soft and pleasantly drapey. The two different wools do feel different - the purple on the bottom is "new wool", a bit scratchy, and the blue is merino. Divinely soft. I suspect that the blue may pill up a little bit, but the purple should be good for a long while.

And it's time to pack this up for its trip back east...of course I am a gigantic geek so I have wrapped the sweater in five colours of tissue, matching the yarn colours.

Yes, I know. Go ahead and laugh. It would have been six but I can't find the purple.

I would knit this beautiful sweater again in a heartbeat. It was fun, very quick, and so satisfying to see all those vivid colours together. I think it's going to be so lovely on little Ruby, who has dark hair and eyes.

Joe and Dave, I hope you like Drifting. And I'd love to see some pictures of it on Ruby, after her birthday. Thanks for commissioning me to do this - it was an absolute pleasure.


Then I Played the Concertina While She Interpretive-Danced to the Skye Boat Song.

Last night I dreamt that I met a woman at a conference, and befriended her. We went out for coffee a couple of times over the weekend we were there. She liked my kids. We had some really good conversations and during one of these I discovered she was a knitter. The day she left, she brought a box of yarn over for my daughter - the box was huge, like the size of a coffee table. She said she had this kit and wasn't going to knit it herself, so Charlotte could have it. I was astonished to see "Isle of Gress" on the box, and peered rather closely at my new friend.

It was Alice Starmore.

ALICE FREAKING STARMORE, and she LIKED me! She really liked me! I woke up feeling the press of happy tears, and I wouldn't have been a bit surprised to find my hair had all turned white.

True story.

Recipe for Sultana Coconut Muffins

After about 4 years in a baking wilderness I am finding the time, once again, for baking treats for my family.

From scratch.

I have not made these muffins for at least 4 years, but it won't be that long before I make them again. I forgot just how yummy they are!

Sultana Coconut Muffins

Ingredients: 125g (1/2 cup) butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon grated orange rind, 2 eggs, 2 cups self-raising flour, 1/2 cup coconut, 2/3 cup orange juice, 1 cup sultanas (raisins).

Method: Cream butter, sugar and orange rind until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each one. Fold in sifted flour and coconut alternately with orange juice. Stir sultanas into mixture. Spray muffin tins with oil or line with paper cups. Placed heaped dessert spoons of batter into large muffin tins. Bake for about 18 minutes at 180C. Cool for 5 minutes in tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Now you can eat these warm, cool, wrap them individually in cling wrap and freeze for school lunches, or glaze them with Orange Glaze for a special afternoon tea treat.

Orange Glaze
Place 1 cup icing sugar and 1 teaspoon grated orange rind in a bowl. Gradually add orange juice, just a little at a time, and mix until it becomes a thick glaze. Spread a little glaze over the top of cooled muffins.

Did you notice how healthy they are? Wholesome butter, eggs, sultanas, coconut and orange juice?

If you want low-fat muffins just replace the butter with reduced-cholesterol margarine and the sugar with Splenda. The recipe also works with just egg whites instead of whole eggs. Whip up the whites a bit before adding to the butter/sugar (or margarine/Splenda) mixture.

They were certainly a big hit in the childrens' lunchboxes this week!

And I Know He Watches Me

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 5, Number 4

Mary Doria Russell

I'm torn. I have just finished this novel and have sat down to write the review, but I feel compelled to write instead an essay. That would be boring for you to read, though, and probably irrelevant unless you've already - and recently - read this book. I'll try to find some middle ground, examining theme and metaphor and technique without getting too technical...but if I don't succeed, forgive me - there is a lot of information swimming around in my head, jostling for position in an attempt to settle into some kind of meaningful analysis.

Father Emilio Sandoz, SJ, is the sole survivor of a Jesuit-sponsored mission to Rakhat, in Alpha Centauri, where humanity has at last detected the first traces of extra-terrestrial intelligence. After the disastrous mission comes to an end, he is sent home to account for the events on Rakhat and to face allegations of murder and sexual depravity. The novel is set up as a retrospective (which, by the way, is emerging as my favourite novel structure - characters living through a difficult present as they are forced to acknowledge, explore, and dissect the tortuous past) which Mary Doria Russell unfolds in her characteristic cryptic, uneasy style. This is another case of knowing the bare bones of what happened, but craving the meaty detail - the fleshing-out of the story.

You'll understand that last sentence all too clearly when you read the book.

There are a lot of characters in this book, which I also found true of A Thread of Grace, Russell's story of the Italian Resistance in World War II. It can be confusing, at times, to keep the names straight and remember what's important about everybody. It's helpful to read the thing quickly, though - your experience of the book would be much less if you kept putting it down and picking it up over the course of a couple of months.

If you've read Orson Scott Card's Hugo and Nebula Awards winner Speaker for the Dead, you'll find some similarities in The Sparrow. There is the Catholic mission attempting to reach and observe the culture of a forest-dwelling, outwardly pacific race of sentient beings. There is the moment when foreboding becomes horror as the characters discover the aliens' capacity for gruesome, ritual violence. There is the uncovering of cultural and biological reasons for the bloodshed, and an examination of how impossible it is for an observer to understand, in any meaningful or visceral level, a culture different from his own.

But the culture discussion is not the most striking one in the book. The really good stuff happens on the spiritual plane. Here, as everywhere, mankind is seeking God. And I was tempted to say "something higher than himself", in order to make this review palatable to everyone, but it wouldn't have been true. The main character is unapologetically seeking God. The deity. And not finding God "within himself", either, or any other cosy, feel-good, pat answer. He's not "in nature", he's not "all around us", he's not "in the love we give others".

Emilio Sandoz is already a priest when the story begins. But he doesn't experience a true vocation, a calling, until the first music is heard from the binary star system Alpha Centauri. He hears the song of an alien voice from the sky; the Arecibo Radio Telescope is his road to Damascus. His journey from that moment is inexorable: orchestrated, he is sure, by Heaven to bring him to where he can see the face of God.

He undertakes the mission to Rakhat not to save souls, not to bring a gospel, but in search of an answer to his own questions. The journey is the refining fire that will strengthen him, a vessel worthy of its calling, sure at last in the presence and the intent of the Divine. Like mankind itself, though, Sandoz steps, in innocence, on a path that will bring him not to enlightenment, but to utter darkness.

It all begins with the garden. There is beauty and fruitfulness, followed by bloodshed. There is anguish, horror, and a steadily mounting grief as everything good is stripped away. Even then, bound and stricken, the stumbling priest is sure that he is sustained by God's unerring hand. He can feel meaning, just out of his grasp but coming nearer every moment. He turns, before his captors, to see at last what he is sure will be the face of God. What meets him is not divinity, but devastation: the methodical and thorough destruction of spirit.

The Sparrow is an uneasy experience. It creeps into your chest and wriggles in chilly lines into the pit of your belly. Mary Doria Russell asks questions that she doesn't give answers to. She tells you dreams for which she, herself, has no interpretation.

It may not be for everyone, but it's brilliant. It's an intelligent and unflinching story that asks hard questions and, more importantly, leads the reader to ask the same questions. Mankind's quest for God is the overarching theme, but Russell doesn't take an easy path. She leads her readers on a gruelling climb, bringing them to the top of the mountain hungry, blinded by scorching sun, with bleeding feet. Then she leaves them there - confused, helpless, choking on the bitterness of betrayal - to make their own way down.

Half Soled Boots Highly Specialised Book Rating System
The Sparrow gets

Reread? Undoubtedly.
Given to Others? Yes.
Bookplate? Yes. I only wish I had ordered a hardcover.



Thanks so much, all of you who commented with your favourite books. I used my good old hatpin to stab a winner...I was going to simply choose one, but began to feel responsible for the dejectedness that would surely result amongst the non-winners, and chickened out.

I wrote words from each of your comments on a piece of paper (freedom, impoverished, historical, individuality, utterly, despair, profound, cerebral) shut my eyes, spun the paper, and jabbed wildly. Congratulations to Rachel, who should email me with her address.

Let The Bandwagon Pass Me By

I've been thinking about how I avoid bandwagons. Not all of them, just selected ones. The first time I remember doing this was when I was eight and my whole family got really into playing Tetris. Something about the fact that everyone liked it turned me off, so I avoided playing it.

Everyone's been talking about these vampire books, which sound weird to me, but people whose opinions I trust are saying they're really good.

The problem is, they're saying they're really REALLY good, I CAN'T stop reading them, I can't WAIT for the movie!! I started a club! We ALL read them within 24 hours!!! YOU should read them, YOU'LL LOVE IT AHHH gagaga I'M IN LOVE WITH EDWARD!!!!

Creepy stuff like that, that's so enthusiastic it's off-putting.

So that's one bandwagon I'm avoiding. This isn't the first time I've avoided something because it got SO popular it went past the point of drawing me in and instead deterred me.

A short list:

I've never read any of the "Harry Potter" books
I've never seen the "Star Wars" movies, old or new
I've never played Solitaire
I've never seen "Lost"
I've never worn gaucho pants
I've never read the Book of Mormon (JUST kidding)
I've never seen "American Idol"
I've never tried (?) Sudoku

That's all I can think of for now. Obsessive, no?

Maybe being carried away by vampires to a high school fantasy land could improve my life. I guess I'm missing out on some of life's pleasures simply because of my own stubbornness in wanting to rebel against what's insanely popular. It's not at all that I think I'm better for it. I just feel freaked out by some things that are very popular and want to avoid them, if possible.

There is hope that I may come around to a fad once it dies down a bit, just to see what all the fuss was about:

In high school, a friend finally convinced me to watch "Top Gun." In college, my friends got me to finally see "Dirty Dancing."

The Stable Scoop Radio Show

The Stable Scoop Radio Show has posted its 2nd episode. Stable Scoop is a horse related podcast that I think you will enjoy. You can listen on their site at, subscribe through iTunes or listen right here by clicking the Listen Now button below. Enjoy!

The Stable Scoop Logo

Stable Scoop Radio Show Episode 2: Poop Eating Worms and Other Olympic News:

Equine Olympic coverage is the theme for this week's show, with a few twists thrown in. A couple of fun guests assist us in taking a look at the Olympic results and don't forget those poop eating worms! A couple of the things discussed in this week's episode:

  • Olympic poop eating worms

  • The Olympic results

  • Blog of the Week interview

  • A chat with a Canadian friend about Ian Miller and other goodies

  • This week's news headlines, Stable Scoop style

  • Cool facts about the Budweiser Clydesdales

  • And so much More

Listen or Subscribe to The Stable Scoop Radio Show:

Download to your Computer: Stable Scoop Episode 2 (Right Click and Hit "save target as")

Subscribe in iTunes:

Play Now: (Opens in your default music player):

Kitcat Climbs Her Way to a Hello Kitty Bed

Kitcat has been climbing .... .....out of her cot! And not just when the side is down, as in this photo.

It all started about 3 months ago when Teddy or Mousie would come tell me that Kitcat was stuck in her cot. I would go to see what was happening, and there she was sitting in her cot crying to get out. She had climbed in to get her dummy and Miow-Miow, and then could not climb out! She did this once when she was sick with the 'flu, and by the time I discovered where she'd gone she was nearly asleep.

Then I started noticing that at times Kitcat was walking around the house with her dummy and Miow-Miow when I knew I had put them away in her cot. So I figured she had learned how to climb in AND out of the cot, while the side was down.

Early one morning Teddy ran screaming into my bedroom saying Kitcat was hanging off the side of the cot. By the time I got to her bedroom Dragon was already there. He said she had been on the wrong side of the cot rails and he had helped her down. I tried to get her to show me how she did it but she either couldn't remember or didn't dare try again.

Then one evening, about 3 weeks ago, after Kitcat had been put to bed Possum called out to me and said she had heard Kitcat crying in her bedroom. When she went in Kitcat was sitting on the floor and the side of the cot was still up! Again, I asked Kitcat to show me how she'd got out but she wouldn't. I removed all large pillows and soft toys from her cot, thinking she must have been getting a boost up on them. (Those toys and pillows weren't even supposed to be there! I blame it all on Miow-Miow.)

But no, it wasn't any of the toys or pillows, it was her own strength that was getting her out of the cot. I caught her in the act one evening. While I peeked through the not-quite-completely-shut door she simply hauled herself up onto the cot rail and swung a leg over. Then she hung there, on the wrong side of the rails, until she got her footing on the mattress, ran her hands down the rails, and gently lowered herself to the floor. She had the whole routine perfected. If cot climbing was an Olympic sport our little Kitcat would have scored a "10" for execution.

Anyway, the realisation that our baby could escape from her night-time prison swiftly put Operation Big Bed into action.

We left the side of the cot down at bedtimes (to prevent any potential falls from her nocturnal cot-climbing adventures), and the following weekend we went bed shopping. We ended up buying two new bunk beds to go in the room shared by Teddy, Mousie and Ducky, and decided to move the bunks from their room into Kitcat's bedroom. But first the cot had to be removed from Kitcat's room.

Here's Kitcat sleeping in her cot for the very last time. HB and I have assembled and dismantled this cot many, many, too many times in the past 13 and a half years! All of our babies have slept in it, and it's an end of an era. This time is will not be stored in the garaged until the next baby comes along. It has already been given away to a family who are expecting their third {surprise!} baby. HB asked me how I felt as I waved goodbye to the folk who took the cot away. I thought I probably should feel sad, but instead I was just relieved to have it gone (and even more relived that there were no future cot-occupiers residing in my tummy! Even though it may look like it.)

So I got busy on Tuesday morning, 12th August, and that evening Kitcat went to sleep in her Hello Kitty big bed. (Doona cover set, mattress protector, and pretty pink blanket were part of Nano and Grandpap's 2nd birthday gift to Kitcat. She likes them! A lot!! She sits on her bed and points to the pictures saying, "Dere's pittee white cat-tee, and dere's pittee white cat-tee, and dere's pittee white cat-tee and a-nov-da one too!!") And here's Kitcat in her new big bed. Note that Miow-Miow was not discarded along with the cot. There it is tucked under Kitcat's arm, as always. I am a bit worried. This bed is bigger - and Miow-Miow has more room for her midnight parties.

Now to anyone reading this who has had babies climb out of cots before, you may be wondering why I am so surprised. Well, out of all our 6 children, Kitcat is the only one who has ever climbed in or out when the side was DOWN, let alone climb out when the side was UP!!! But my mother-in-law has told me how, as a toddler, HB used to climb out of his cot so regularly that she kept the coffee table beside it so he wouldn't hurt himself - so I lay all the blame on HB's shoulders (or at least on his DNA.)

Back in the snaffle

Willow is spoiling me with all her excellent behavior. We're back in the snaffle, and everything feels spectacular. She's both more elevated and softer. Walk-canter-walk is really starting to come together. Collected canter is now maintainable once around the arena. Ten meter canter circles are happening every so often. And she just feels so content with the work right now, which is the best sign of all.

Tomorrow morning I'm taking Sam the coneflower-eating dog to the vet to have his left shoulder looked at. He's been gimping around on and off for about a week now. He's about nine, so maybe he's getting some arthritis, or maybe he's got the same problem my vizsla had a couple years ago, and has a piece of cartilage broken off and floating in the joint. Oy. It's an expensive surgery, but very effective.

My brother and his family arrive tonight for ten days of fun in the Willamette Valley. They've managed to miss both the heat wave and the chilly rain. Lucky them.

Feet, Don't Fail Her Now

My friend Mel over at Pipe Dreams and Purling Plans needs your help. She and her husband Tad will be walking 60 miles for Breast Cancer research - 20 miles a day on October 3rd, 4th and 5th - to honour the memory of her mother Linda, who succumbed to the disease in 2004. To increase awareness and to raise funds to benefit research, Mel is holding a little blog contest.

She is offering a chance to win one of her beautiful prizes for every $10 donated to the 3Day. She started out offering two prizes: a copy of the out-of-print Poems of Color - Knitting in the Bohus Tradition, and a skein of beautiful mohair yarn. As word has begun to spread, though, others have donated prizes for her to award, and her full collection (so far) can be viewed here.

Please click over to Pipe Dreams and Purling Plans and read Mel's story for yourself. Donate if you feel you can, or if you have some irresistible knitterly prize, consider passing it on for the cause.

Never Smile (or pull faces) at a Crocodile

On the weekend that our friends came visiting from Port Stephens, we went to Mount Selwyn on the Saturday. On Sunday we visited The National Science and Technology Centre, otherwise known as Questacon (have a look at Possum's blog post about this day too.)

The ground floor houses the "Sideshow Alley" exhibits. This one is always a favourite. Two people (here is Dragon and friend) strap themselves into the seats which then spin around faster and faster while you try to throw a ball to the other person. This teaches about how you might think you are throwing in a straight line but because you are moving it ends up being a curved line. (I am sure there is a very technical mathematical term for this. I am not ashamed to own up to not knowing it.)
And here Possum and friend have their turn. It makes me dizzy just looking at these photos.Questacon's upper levels are the home to some of Australia's most dangerous creatures, such as this huge funnel web spider. Dragon made a lucky escape from this monster.

But Possum was not being so careful when confronted with this huge crocodile. She wouldn't listen when I told her not to smile at it.

And she wouldn't listen when I told her not to pull faces at it. Look how cranky it is now! Just moments after taking this photo it grabbed possum around the head.

Dragon to the rescue!! He caught the crocodile by using the secret ear-gouging technique, which instantly stuns it and renders it incapable of closing its jaws any further. And they both got their photo in the newspaper. (Possum really is okay - it took a while to revive her after they prised the croc's jaws open.)

Land Ho!

Drifting is almost completely finished. I have numerous - not to say multitudinous - ends to weave in, and she will be all done. I tried to get some nice pictures for you but it was horridly dark today and the flashed shots were just too garishly lit for my taste. I opted to suppress the flash, ending up with a more subdued colour than in reality, but preferring the mellow tone of these photos.

I went to the fabric store this evening in search of buttons. Buttons are difficult. Buttons are problematic. Buttons are a tricky thing. You don't want them to overwhelm the garment, but it's all too easy to err on the side of caution and end up with nondescript, boring buttons. You want them to be eye-catching, but not obtrusive. As to size, you have to be careful with knitted items because the buttonholes are often fairly tight to begin with, but are easily stretched. A too-large button will pull the band out of shape - a too-small button will come undone at inopportune moments.

Today I had a pretty good button-search experience, actually, only trying seven different buttons before I found the winner. I tried two or three rather rustic-looking, matte plastic hearts and flowers, but though they looked fine on the papers, they looked cheap on the sweater. I went to a more standard, round button, but they were jaw-crackingly boring.

Then I spotted, hiding on the bottom rack of the button spinner, some beautiful pewter butterflies. They are a great shape for knitwear - about twice as wide as they are tall, so they will be easy to button (provided you put them in wing-tip-first) but the width will keep them in place once they are there. Also - butterflies! Pretty!

And here's more button love for you.

I spent yesterday blocking the sweater, and tried a new technique this time - forcing steam through the knitting using my iron, without touching the soleplate to the fabric.

It worked remarkably well. The knitting smoothed out beautifully, and dried quickly. I love blocking - everything looks so right, pinned flat and with a patina of mist over it. Wool loves water, and water covers a multitude of sins. I'll use the steam blocking method again, because it was so darn fast and easy. I still prefer the soak-and-stretch, but this garment was already biggish for the child's age.

Which brings me to, how can the final knitted piece be three-quarters of an inch bigger than the pattern says it will be, when my tension was spot-on? I am getting exactly 22 stitches over 4 inches - I should have a piece that is identical in size to the schematic given. That it is not, is just another example of how knitting can mess with your mind.

I'm trying not to get too annoyed, because it doesn't really make any practical difference in this case - the child is not going to get any smaller, after all - they can always roll her sleeves up for the first year she wears it.

But still. Irritating.

I will soon have the FO post ready, but I have a date with a tapestry needle, first. I will be busy for a couple of days, I think, weaving in ends, and then I will give the entire thing a once-over with the steam just to pretty it up a bit. The button bands need a good steaming, as they weren't knitted yet when I blocked the four individual pieces.

The button band, before the advent of buttons.

This was a nice quick knit - I would definitely do this pattern again. More notes on that, in the FO post later this week....or possibly next. In the meantime, here is a glimpse of the (pre-blocked) wrong side of the Fair Isle band, in case that floats your boat (as it does mine).

New Happy Place

I spent this past weekend camping with my daughters, along with my cousin and her two girls, at a lake in the mountains about forty minutes from town. It was a sun-drenched, lazy-water weekend with long, hot afternoons and just the right amount of breeze. I took some pictures for you. (Click 'em - you'll be glad you did.)

I love how the lakes around here are all the same - deep, cold, clean, with conifers right slap up to the edge. It was a bit crowded, though: there were four other families enjoying this lake on the same day we were there - a Saturday. It was hard to get along sometimes, but we managed not to step on each other's feet too often.

I'm being facetious.

Here's where I realised I was not capturing the feel of the day and the lure of the water, so I shifted my perspective a bit. I put my camera in mortal danger for you all

but decided it was worth it.


This is such a cool spot. On the left of the above picture you can see there is a narrow channel (it's about 8 meters wide) between the mainland and the sandy beach of an island. The children could easily cross this little land bridge - it was covered by only about 70 centimeters of water.

We took the girls up to one of the boat-in sites we could see from the beach - it was vacant but I promise you, at this time next year it won't be. (I'm looking at you, Mark. I'll bring the Hermann's.) This was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been - looking down on the bay in which we'd just been swimming.

There - you can clearly see the little neck of water between the island and the mainland.

It was hard to get a smile - everybody was hot and thirsty by now.

And here they are, happy and tired. They're smiling now because I am holding up two golden marshmallows on a stick.

Pepsi and a Top Dog, and a spot out of the smoke...doesn't get any better than that...even if you DO have a gigantic mosquito bite on your leg.


I have finished Drifting, and will show you blocking pictures tomorrow. It's beautiful. I'm seaming right now but have yet to pick out buttons. Maybe I'll get to that tomorrow as well.