Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Battle of Lexington

Today my sis & I took the kids to visit a Civil War historic site up in Lexington, MO, just a few miles north of us. (She's a big old Civil War buff & really wanted to see it.) The whole trip up, we eyed dark storm clouds and tried to gauge the distance of the lightning, but figured we were staying ahead of the front. Got a little lost on the way to the historic marker thingy, and ended up at the battle site itself, ten miles further down the road. This was a good thing, because the battle site had a little museum & a visitor's center & a cheesy film that ran whenever you requested that the docent start it. (It was about 15 minutes long and the biggest piece of Southern biased propaganda that I have ever personally witnessed, but it was still interesting.) The kids were bored and whiny with all that boring history stuff, so we grabbed a map and headed out for the walking tour, figuring they would run off some energy before the drive home.

Some back story: The battle of Lexington was fought in September of 1861, when Confederate forces surrounded & laid siege to the town and then fought a three-day battle to force the Federals into surrender. It is said to be one of the most convincing Southern victories in Missouri. A key feature of the battle is the old brick Anderson House, which was used as a field hospital and was captured several times (by both sides) over the course of the siege and battle.

The walking tour was the best part of the day. It started at the old Anderson house, still bearing the pockmarks of minie balls in its brick facade, once a stately home but now part of the museum. Then we walked back through the garden and into the remnants of the Union fortifications, the extensive earthworks and trenches now only shallow depressions on the rolling hills. Markers set about the grounds indicated various points of interest -- a gun emplacement here, a Union charge there. A small gravesite bore tribute to the remains of five unknown soldiers, found many years after the war ended when excavations were made for a new building.

The tour took us up along a ridge for the last three or four points of interest (including where the Confederates took shelter behind bales of hemp and rolled them forward for cover during their final advance on the Union troops -- a moveable entrenchment that was a rather brilliant bit of strategy;) but by this time we were seeing lightning strikes fairly close by & we didn't exactly feel too comfortable walking along an exposed ridge. So we cut that bit of the walk short & hustled back to the car, hoping to beat the rain. We did so by about 5 minutes, maybe -- drove home in a deluge that had everyone a little nervous (well, me anyway, since I was driving) -- but got home safe, thank the Goddess, in time for a little kicking back before we went out for barbecue. Yum!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Custard's Last Stand

My sister is visiting, we are just generally having a ball and showing her the sights of lovely central MO. We have indoctrinated her into the joys of frozen custard. :D

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Crayola Sox

I think that all sock yarn should be sold with a warning label that says, "The Surgeon General says that knitting socks is habit-forming and may cause you to neglect your other knitting projects, housework, laundry, and life in general." Alas, it's too late for me, I am thoroughly hooked. Perhaps they'll come out with a Sock Patch sometime soon and I can get my addiction under control.

In the meantime, I finished my two-circs project, the plain stockinette socks from Elann's Sock It To Me Colori. I named them the "Crayola Sox" because of the crayon-colored stripes. They turned out great! I finally tried the slip-stitch rib on the heel flap and it really enhances the shaping.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I'm so excited!

My sister is coming to visit next week!

What sights should I show her of the beautiful Midwest? I figure there will be barbeque involved at least one night.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Where have I been?

Yet another silly blog meme....

Bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

Friday, June 17, 2005

New York minute

When one finishes a large project, like a sweater, one needs a quick little knock-it-out project that can be finished in a couple days to balance out the knitting chi. Here's mine.

Yarn is "Feather" by NY Yarns, so I named the scarf "New York", because it's a little bit silly in a high-fashion way. It's my own design. It's just lengthwise garter stitch, but on every 6th row, I cast off 40 stitches and then cast them back on on the return row, so it has the effect of long fringey ends, or fingers hanging down.

Optional: Wrap scarf around head like a liripipe, with the fringe hanging down, so they look like fuzzy multicolored dreadlocks. Sing Bob Marley song in a fake Jamacian accent.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Royals 3, Dodgers 1

That was the score of the game last night that we saw at "the K" -- nobody here actually refers to it as Kaufmann Stadium. We had pretty good seats, too, second tier but only a few rows up, nearly over home but shading just a little to first. Neither team really lit it up, but Emil Brown did the lion's share of the work for KC, batting in two runs: one on a double to deep left in the first, and a picture-perfect single up the seam in the fifth. (Mark Stairs had singled up the middle right before him, also knocking in one run. It was like watching instant replay.) In the long-standing tradition that baseball stadiums have of flashing silly things on the jumbotron (c.f. Rally Monkey), for each of Brown's RBI's, the board flashed a graphic of a bag of chips and the slogan "It's not a snack... It's EMIL!" Har har.

The kids loved it. Dogs, cokes, souvenir batting helmets, peanuts, and cotton candy were enjoyed by all and sundry. A summer tradition lives on.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

100 Things about Me

1. I have a twin sister who is three minutes older than I am.
2. People who don’t know us very well say that we look a lot alike.
3. We don’t look that all that much alike, however, according to family and close friends.
4. When we were little, we developed our own twin language.
5. I don’t remember any of it.
6. I played professional tackle football for three seasons, as an offensive lineman for the California Quake in Long Beach.
7. I hated tackling. I was a lousy tackler, truth be told.
8. I was, however, a great longsnapper. I was the only woman in our league who could consistently do a standard NFL-style 15 yard snap.
9. Most women can only snap 10 to 12 yards. This makes blocking punts very easy.
10. I never had a punt blocked.
11. I have a national championship ring, but didn’t get to play in the championship game because I was on injured reserve. (Something I still regret.)
12. I grew up in Southern California, and lived there all my life until I moved to Missouri in the spring of 2005.
13. I love my new home. The people here are so friendly.
14. We are building our dream house -- a concrete geodesic dome -- because it is more environmentally friendly than conventional building techniques.
15. We also like the fact that domes are tornado-proof.
16. They are also incredibly low-maintenance.
17. They are also just plain cool.
18. I don’t like coffee; I drink chai latte or green tea in the morning.
19. I have dark brown eyes and brown hair.
20. I spent one season as a blonde, but it looked really fake & was way too much work.
21. I went blonde only because my sister showed up at our family’s Thanksgiving dinner with blonde streaks.
22. Obviously, I had to be blonder than she was by Christmas.
23. I love seafood, especially shrimp.
24. I had terrible eyes (myopia & astigmatism) until 2002, when I had lasik surgery.
25. I now have 20/20 vision in one eye & 20/15 in the other.
26. I learned to knit when my grandma taught me at the age of eight.
27. I have my grandma’s funny knitting style, because she was a natural lefty that had been “corrected” to use her right hand.
28. Sometimes other knitters assume I am a newbie & try to show me the “right” way to hold the needles.
29. The biggest thing I have yet knit is an Einstein sweater-coat for myself (XL!)
30. I plan to open a yarn store someday.
31. I am half Irish.
32. I have three tattoos.
33. I learned to swim almost before I could walk.
34. I am a huge fan of all sports.
35. My favorite teams in “The Big Three” pro sports (basketball, baseball, football) are the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and my newly adopted home team, the Kansas City Chiefs.
36. I also love the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
37. I was at the game where they sealed their 2nd WNBA championship in 2002.
38. I currently have two cats, named Pyewacket & Friday.
39. One of my sillier dreams is to appear on “Jeopardy!” some day.
40. I would say, “Why yes, Alex, I played pro football for three seasons.”
41. My favorite pizza toppings are mushrooms & onions.
42. Everyone else in my family likes meat, meat, and meat on the pizza, no veggies.
43. I almost never get to order the pizza my way. It’s too much arguing.
44. I had crazy teeth as a kid & wore braces for seven years.
45. I love bluegrass music.
46. I can’t whistle.
47. I went to school at Pomona College, a small liberal arts school in Claremont, CA.
48. Hardly anyone has heard of Pomona.
49. Or, they get it mixed up with (much larger) Cal Poly Pomona.
50. My bachelor’s degree is in Studio Art.
51. I did a gallery show instead of a senior thesis.
52. My faculty advisor, Karl Benjamin, was a dead ringer for Ernest Hemingway.
53. I have a brown belt in Shaolin Kempo karate.
54. Arnold Palmer is my uncle.
55. I have worked in lots of different fields. I have worked as a cook, a librarian’s assistant, a jeweler, and a construction worker.
56. I was in the marching band in high school, playing flute & piccolo.
57. I used to sew all my clothes.
58. I wish I still had time to do that.
59. I am a medieval reenactor, and a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.
60. I met my (former) husband in the SCA.
61. We have been married since 1989. (update: divorced in 2009)
62. We have two wonderful children who are my biggest joy (when they are not driving me crazy).
63. I have robo-feet – am 8mm screw in each ankle to correct a pronation problem.
64. I like to cook, but hate to clean house.
65. I love board games & card games.
66. My favorite game at the moment is "Cranium".
67. I am an obsessive reader.
68. I like to re-read books that are particular favorites.
69. I have re-read the Lord of the Rings trilogy about once a year since 1978.
70. I have memorized big chunks of LOTR by now.
71. I can solve the Rubik’s Cube puzzle.
72. My average solve time is around two or three minutes. Won’t win a prize, but it’s respectable.
73. I have asymmetrical ear piercings – three on the left, one on the right.
74. I’m allergic to penicillin.
75. I am mostly a good driver.
76. I hate to parallel park, however, because I am pretty bad at it.
77. I love greasy-spoon breakfast foods – sausage, eggs, hash browns.
78. I like my eggs over easy.
79. My favorite color is green.
80. Three weeks before our wedding, my husband & his best man taught me to rappel.
81. The best man presented us with nicely framed photos of us hanging off cliffs at the rehearsal dinner. My mother was horrified that I had done this, exclaiming, “What if you had broken your leg? You would have had to walk down the aisle in a cast!” Whatever, Mom.
82. I worked as a computer programmer for 15 years.
83. I was laid off or downsized three times in the year after the dot-com crash.
84. I am a big-time trivia nerd, as is my sister.
85. She nicknamed me the "Trivia Imperatrix" (bad Latin for Empress of Trivia), because I outrank ordinary trivia queens.
86. It’s a house rule that we are not allowed to play on the same team in Trivial Pursuit.
87. I am hopelessly hooked on reality TV shows.
88. Survivor is still my favorite of the genre, although it’s gone steadily downhill since Thailand.
89. I had a non-speaking role in an episode of "American Family" with Edward James Olmos.
90. It was a football-themed episode, and at the end, a teammate & I hoisted Olmos on our shoulders and carried him off the field.
91. We almost dropped the poor guy on his head! He was pretty heavy.
92. I have a good uncial and a decent italic hand in calligraphy.
93. I absolutely adore anything made with funky veined cheese.
94. I have a totally killer dip recipe with Gorgonzola & green onions.
95. I love Ridley Scott movies.
96. I saw "Blade Runner" on opening night in 1982 at the Bruin in Westwood.
97. I can type 47 words per minute.
98. I don’t drink alcohol, except for an occasional glass of champagne at a wedding or on New Year’s Eve.
99. I drive a mini-van, but I try not to be too uncool about it.
100. I am still quite enchanted by fireflies.

Soleil Completed

Here's my finished Soleil. As I think I mentioned already, I changed the pattern to omit the waist shaping, since I am depressingly thick around the middle these days. *Sigh* I also widened the straps a bit. I'm not sure I did a great job sizing this pattern up for plus size, the neck seems to be a bit wide. Oh well, live & learn.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Go Sagehens, er, Spurs

As if I didn't have enough reason to root for the Spurs in the NBA playoffs (i.e., anyone playing against Detroit gets my automatic support), I just realized that San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich used to coach for my alma mater. No doubt he enjoys the perks of his higher profile these days, but you know he's got to miss the coolest fight song in all of collegiate sports.

When Cecil Sagehen chirps,
We're gonna fracture the foes of Pomona's might!
When Cecil Sagehen chirps,
We're gonna wail on their bods for the blue and white!
Our foes are filled with dread
Whenever Cecil Sagehen flies overhead!
We're gonna C! We're gonna H! We're gonna I, R, P!
When Cecil chirps his way to vic-to-ry! Chirp!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sunny Days

Soleil is finished! Here is it blocking. Sorry about the poor color choice on the towel, if I had used a different color you might not have to endure the Clash of the Different Greens. But anyway.

I used Schachenmayr's Micro Big Shine and size 8 needles on this project. Micro is another splitsville yarn, I don't know why I have so much trouble with yarn splitting lately. Hopefully it's due to my recent choices in summer weight yarns & not my terrible technique. I had a divvil of a time with the crochet edge, because I have only marginal crochet skills to begin with, and then the yarn wanted to split & do its own thing every inch of the way. But it looks mostly OK, I hope.

The lace bottom opens up beautifully with blocking, and the yarn becomes soft and shimmery. Can you believe I never used to block my finished pieces? Then again, I never used to work with yarns that really required blocking to make it look finished. I'm a total convert of blocking now. (Knitty, as always, has a good article on the whys and hows.)

Can't wait to wear it tomorrow!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Two Socks on Two Circulars

I finally broke down and got a couple of 30" Addis to try the two-needle technique on my next pair of socks. Now I'm sorry I took so long to get around to trying it!

Here's the start of the two socks. I'm using Elann's Sock It To Me! Puzzle in the colorway called (somewhat nonsensically) Little Red Schoolhouse. They're just plain stockinette stitch with a band of ribbing at the top; I didn't want to do anything fancy on my first try. (I'd heard horror stories at SnB meetings & whatnot from knitters who had a lot of trouble grasping the technique.) Dude, it's not difficult at all! There are a zillion tutorials out there that walk you through it step by step -- Sockknitters has a good one -- and once you get past the first row or two, you're off. Try it, it's a great technique.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

We finally got around to seeing Star Wars Episode III last night, and we liked it. Didn't love it, but we liked it.

Warning: Very Mild Spoilers
I remarked to Mike as we were walking out that it had to be incredibly difficult to make a movie where all the major plot elements are already known. Is it a spoiler to say that Anakin turns to the dark side, or that the Jedi are all wiped out except for Obi-Wan and Yoda, or that Padme's twins are separated & sent into hiding, one on Tatooine & the other with Senator Organa? Duh, we know all that from Episodes IV et al. George Lucas did a decent job of keeping it fresh, and throwing in a few plot twists that didn't disrupt the mythology of the Star Wars universe too much, and saturating the whole thing with so much stunning visual imagery that you don't really care that the story is weak & predictable. Best moment in the whole movie: When Vader is rescued from his horrible near-death and is tended by the medical droids (in an obvious Dr. Frankenstein homage), as the mask is put on his face & he draws his very first iconic gasping breath on his respirator, the haze swirling as he exhales... Lucas is nothing if not detail-oriented.