Sunday, December 26, 2010

I hope you had a merry little Christmas!

Christmas has been wonderful in our household -- mostly quite laid back, which I totally appreciate.  I didn't get everything done, but I got everything finished that had to be done.  Basically it's been one of those years where, if I'm in front of you on Christmas, then your stuff is done.  If not, we'll work it out.  I try to keep telling myself that there are twelve days of Christmas, after all.  Plus, I'll take presents to my side of the family on some nice weekend in the next month or so.  I do that so I have a good excuse to see them again soon. Not so I have some more time. I promise. ;)

The presents I completed before Christmas basically consist of two aprons for my MIL, who just moved into a new house and is decorating her new kitchen.  She requested aprons in red and black.

They're not fancy, but I tend to get into a real perfectionist groove that ends up making everything take a ridiculous amount of time. Also, I was totally winging it and I suppose a little more planning on the front end would have saved me some time. Oh well. I do like the finished product, though.

Here is where I would like to take a little of your time to rant and rave at a crafting corporate giant: Really, JoAnn Fabrics? I know you're all about low-paid, marginally-trained workers just sliding their shears down your little aluminum guides as fast as their little fingers can cut, but come on! That fabric was so off the grain when it was cut that I lost over a quarter of a yard squaring it up so I could use it! That's why the pocket is so shallow on the dark one. I paid for that quarter yard! Your policy is lazy and you suck. And you're not even that cheap anymore. The only thing you currently have going for you is convenient hours of operation, but I fear that will no longer save you. I live quite nicely without WalMart in my life; I can live without you, too. Remember that, JoAnn. Your days are numbered.

OK! I feel better now!

We had a lovely round of receiving, too. You can't see everything that's on display under the tree (does anyone else have this tradition, of putting the opened presents you receive under the tree to take the place of the wrapped ones you gave?) in this photo. Also, this year was heavy on the gift cards so it doesn't look that impressive (not that I'm complaining!).

Gator's main gift was a total surprise and so fun to give. It isn't under the tree, though; it's charging in its station:

Yes, that's a coconut in the foreground. I always get a coconut in my stocking, don't you? ;)

My main gift also isn't under the tree. Mainly because it won't fit. Hehe.

Thanks to a gift certificate to my LYS from my MIL, and Gator encouraging me to go wild at the Michaels yarn sale, I have so much handwork-y goodness in my future! Let's just break this down, shall we?
  • one ball Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace in red
  • four skeins Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light in green
  • two skeins Cascade Heritage Sock in plum
  • two skeins Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in navy
  • three balls each of Patons Classic Wool in royal blue, cognac heather, jade heather, and bright red
  • three skeins Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool in nature's brown
  • two balls Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in spice and one ball in claret
  • one skein each of Caron One Pound in white and sky blue
Whew! Quite an array, and enough to keep me busy for quite some time! Everything except the Classic Wool is earmarked for specific projects that I want to complete this year. We'll see how that goes. Remember the yarn storage room? How do we all think it got that way? But for right now, I'm super psyched.

I have another FO -- kind of my Christmas present to myself -- but I'll show you later after I get some decent photos. Yes, I'm delaying because of the photos, and not just so I have a ready-made topic for my next post. I promise. ;)


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Catching up with the holidays

I know I've been quiet lately, but it's no fun to blog when you can't show anything you've been working on!  Oh, Holidays and your gift-crafting -- always keepin' me down!

Yes, I can blame anything for my own laziness, it seems.

What I have absolutely no excuse for is the lack of Thanksgiving pictures, and I can at least try to rectify that. We traveled to my hometown for the holiday and were partakers in what my family is affectionately calling our "Big Fat Greek Thanksgiving".  Why would we be calling it that?

How about a lamb on a spit in the front yard? Yeah, that might be why.

My youngest niece decided she wanted to host Thanksgiving this year and she was the hostess with the mostest.

Her husband is from a Greek family and he's a great guy but maybe a little odd...

In other words, he fits right into our family. If anything, he might be a tad on the normal side comparatively.

Never fear, there was turkey, too, and my brother-in-law carved it just like always:

Gator and two of my other nieces had fun with the littlest great-niece:

Little Miss E was very busy all day, but I did manage to catch her just hangin' out:

Since I was behind the camera all day, I decided to try for a little hubby smooshy face, but after many, many attempts, this was the best I could do. Not my fave pic but you can't have it all, I suppose.

All in all a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great visit with my fam. I wish I could do it much more often!

Now I'm back to crafting for Christmas and not showing anything until afterwards. Eh, you're busy too, I'm sure.

Oh, and by the way, the lamb was delicious!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

FO? You don't say!

We're just about to head off for my hometown for Thanksgiving, so this is just a wee update.  Much crochet has been had in the land of Sus and the lowliest of my WIPs last Wednesday is now an FO!  w00t!

Yes, I know it's a dreaded tissue box cover. But it's a gingerbread house. I think these are ssssooooooooo freakin' cute! And cute things are always good, forever and ever, amen! The construction is kind of a pain at times, but I think it's so worth it. I stayed up way too late last night finishing it, but I'm giving it away this weekend, so you see how it is. We all know how completely awesome I am at waiting until the last minute for virtually everything in the world, ever! Yes, there's at least one thing I totally rock at!

Now we're off for a four hour drive through gray and rainy weather, but at least it's not supposed to freeze. Safe travels to anyone else who's on the road today!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WIP Wednesday (with bonus turkey butt!)

Whew! Things have been busy around here. Mostly in a good way -- good friends, good family, good work projects, good Broncos(!) But no pictures to show for it, and not much handwork, unfortch.

I got stymied on the afghan because I was trying to come up with a way to piece the strips together in a way that would allow me to use one piece of yarn to whipstitch the whole length of the strip and have the yarn not show when it didn't match either of the adjacent blocks. I didn't come up with a way that I liked. So I'm changing yarn every time I encounter a new block on the strip. Which is fine. I've only sewn the left-most strips together so far.

But while I was thinking about it I just set the whole thing aside and picked up the somewhat-abandoned Baktus. I'm about 2/3 done now and, even though I weighed the yarn meticulously with my kind of crappy postage scale to determine the half-way point, I am still fairly frightened that I will run out of yarn before I am finished. I really hope not.

Both of those projects are getting temporarily set aside while I pick up another abandoned project and finish it before Thanksgiving. This gingerbread house has been nothing but a lone wall for many months and it needs to get built right away!

In fact, I'm going to work on it right now.

But WAIT!! Not before I show you the awesome present my blog buddy Judy sent me!

No Thanksgiving decoration is complete without the wonderment that is the handmade turkey butt fridgie!! It is funny, cute (and we know how I feel about cute), and festive! It makes me smile every time I go to the fridge!! Even though when I open it I will find that the chocolate cake fairies still haven't left me a present. Darn chocolate cake fairies!

Okay, now off to make a gingerbread house!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

This is just way too cute

Once again, I will extol the virtues of cute things and Star Wars things and, most importantly, cute Star Wars things. Happy!

::sigh:: I lurve Lego Star Wars.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

In other news...

...I spent the day Saturday at a conference and presented a poster (read: giant brochure) for our core facility. It was very sciencey.

...I've finally completed all the blocks for the big ol' stashbustin' afghan and have started piecing! I think that some of you probably are cringing at the thought of piecing a sofa-full of afghan blocks, but I actually enjoy the process quite a lot. I have four strips so far, and I think it's wildly colorful and cool.

...I am very tired this evening and am seriously considering going to bed at 8:00. I've already fallen asleep in my chair once this evening. It is my Papa's chair, though, so that seems apt.

Good night!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Missouri cheeseheads

Hi! I'm having a snack and have decided that you would just love to know about it! Bloggers = narcissistic? Hecks, no!

So today was payday and that meant I partook of the glorious tradition of going to the grocery store after work. With Gator. This is an important aspect in that no two humans on the planet enable each other more than we do. Example: Gator was jonesing for some good cheese. Either of us shopping alone? One kind of cheese. Shopping together? We end up with five kinds. It goes on. But, while discussing the cheese options, I realized that what I wanted wasn't good cheese, but gooooooood cheese. You know, the kind I was raised on (Saturday afternoon snack!), which I haven't had for a long time and when I lived in Wisconsin they didn't even sell it. Like it was an affront to their cheesy ways. Yes, I'm talking about Price's Pimento Cheese Spread. That which tastes like no kind of cheese that exists outside of their little half pint tubs. That which has identifiable chunks of cheese-like substance suspended in a creamy cheese-like spready-stuff. With red bits I can only assume are meant to represent pimentos. Oh, they swear on their website that it's made with real cheese but, if it is, they disguise it well. In a good way. Needless to say I bought some.

While watching some Futurama, I busted it open, spread it on some saltines (the only way to eat it!), and reveled in the awesomeness. And missed my mama.

(Full disclosure -- I only spread it on the crackers so I could take a picture. The real way to eat it is to just dip the crackers right in the tub, but I figured you really didn't want a picture of that. Like you want this one.)

Okay, I'll lay off the random food photos for awhile. ;)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Halloween! (Early and with crafting!)

Random additional decoration coming up!

Day of the Dead Crochet Skull by Darlene Harris
(including Little Crochet Flowers by Ali Burdon)
Red Heart Super Saver; Size US G crochet hook
And with that, a good night!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Linkspam disguised as blog content

I've been a tired, tired girl this week! I went back to work on Tuesday, and I've pretty much been coming home and falling asleep in my chair every day after work until I finally give up and move it to the bed. So, not a lot of hot crochet action, in other words. I did make several more squares today for the patchwork afghan but there's really nothing to see.

But I have been collecting some random linkspam that I will take this opportunity to inflict on you share with you!

Want. That is all. Okay, that's totally not all -- check out the rest.

Also want, but in all honesty it would just sit in the corner with my guitar (since it won't fit in the drawer with my recorder). But this is serious geeky music goodness.

Awesome timesuck. Yeah, it's an advertisement, but this company wins at the innernets!

May I get married again just so I can have this cake? (If you don't get it, why aren't you reading XKCD??)

I haven't carved a pumpkin for a long, long time. I may have to start again.

I haven't bought a new swimsuit for a long, long time. I've certainly never spent this much money on one. I may have to find a way for this to change.

The Internet Archive has a bunch of fun stuff, but the Moving Picture Archive has some serious gems. Especially some of the fabulously cheesy corporate propaganda created by Jam Handy and super duper old-school filmstrip-type lovelies like Are You Ready For Marriage? I'll never be bored again.

I will now finish watching Mizzou beat Oklahoma then head to bed. Still tired. Goodnight!


Monday, October 18, 2010

I love the phrase "Skeletal remains dancing on the sideboard"

I had planned to go back to work today, but after a very uncomfortable outing to church yesterday, I decided to take another day and have a slugfest. I mean, I really did nothing. I stared in the direction of the TV, but I couldn't tell you what I watched. I took a three hour nap. I surfed nothing in particular. Total slugfest. I hope I'm ready to rejoin the madness tomorrow.

Yesterday afternoon was only slightly more exciting. While sitting in my comfy craft chair, crocheting away, I heard a strange noise outside. I sounded like someone was shoveling snow, but of course there is none. It happened every few seconds until I finally went to the window and peeked through the blinds. Ah! Not a snow shovel at all!

Six hot air balloons! The monkey one was close enough I could hear the burner as they made themselves go higher. It had been much closer to the ground when I looked out the window, but by the time I got my camera and shoes it had risen quite a bit. I could still hear it, though. We see balloons quite frequently, but six at once is fairly uncommon. So that was a nice surprise!

While I was outside with my camera, I decided to copy my blog buddy Becky in showing off my seasonal decorations. I lurve seasonal decorations. I've had my Halloween decs up since the weekend after Labor Day. On the day after Halloween, the Thanksgiving stuff will go up. And as soon as we get back from my sister's after Thanksgiving, well, you get the idea. Now, Becky has a couple of nice vignettes of decorations that look festive and photograph well, but mine are kind of scattered about. And I don't have a great deal, but I really dislike nekkid doors. I always say I'm going to make more holiday stuff, but the queue is long and it just kind of never happens.

A maniacal Jack o' Lantern is nestled amongst the bushes next to a fierce alligator...

A creepy black wreath of foreboding festoons the front door...

The inside of the front door as well as the door to the garage harbor representatives of the unnatural...

Bad luck and spooks abound on this bookshelf...

Skeletal remains dancing on the sideboard add a macabre punch to mealtimes...

Hee! Did I mention I lurve seasonal decorations?? Do you have some?? Show me! Show me! (I'm from Missouri, I can't stop saying that.)

Please show me?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's ending to smell a little like...

I have a co-worker who whistles subconsciously while walking through the halls. He has a dozen or so go-to tunes, but he does get stuck on one from time to time. At least two of the songs in his repertoire are Christmas carols and they break out regardless of season. In fact, July and August were big Sleigh Ride months. I find this trait endearing and I don't mind the year-round caroling, that is, until the songs get stuck in my head. So when, in thinking of a title for this post, I thought it might be cute and apropo to go with "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...", I slapped my head and started saying, "No, no, NO!!" Now that song will be stuck in my head! Argh!

Hehe. You're welcome.

Look down! Back at me!

Surgery recovery continues and things are going pretty well. Especially when I either stay up or stay down. It's the in-between that still gets me, but we're progressing. So I stay up for a bit, puttering in the kitchen or running a broom over the floor (this place is a dried grass magnet, I swear!), then I sit down and veg out, surf the 'net or crochet a bit. I've been working on the never-ending afghan but, as promised, I took a break to make a Christmas stocking.

I made all the motifs on Friday, then pieced them together Saturday morning. I didn't get a very good photo (red is so hard to photograph accurately!), but this will do. I re-photographed it in natural light (go figure!) and it looks a lot better. I think it's colorful and fun a good size for collecting lots of Christmas loot! I hope the recipient of this bit of holiday cheer likes it!

Polka Dot Christmas Stocking by Priscilla Hewitt
Stash acrylic yarn
Size US H hook

I like it and am quite happy with it. It's alsoreally nice to have a completed project to look at and stroke and share and talk about in the midst of a long afghan project that has felt like it would never end.

Now back to the afghan with a little more pep! 14 blocks to go! It's beginning to look a lot like an afghan! Hee!!!

You're so, so welcome. ;)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Can I make "sofa-full" a standard measure?

A long-held belief of mine has just been sent down the tubes. I was apparently one of many who thought that one had a year to send a wedding gift. According to Emily Post and Miss Manners, this is not so. Not that I ever thought it was an awesome idea to wait a year to send a gift, but I like to make beautiful things for people, and sometimes beautiful things take time. Often longer than the time from the receipt of the invitation until the event, anyway. So it turns out I've been an even crappier friend and relative in many instances than I thought. Oh joy. Having said that, I don't actually think that anyone has ever received a late handmade gift from me and thought, "Well, this would be awfully nice if only it weren't so freakin' late!" I do realize it's all just a bunch of nebulous guidelines for a bunch of folks just honestly trying to do their best. And so I soldier on. But I'd really been relying on that one-year thing. Ah well.

One of my very best friends got married a few months ago. Not only was I unable to attend, but I didn't get the gift done in time. It's still not done. But I've been trooping along on it and am at least on the downhill side now. It's a patchwork sampler afghan and because I'm only using yarn from the stash, it may be a little trippy. Which I think will suit the happy couple just fine. At least I certainly hope so. I have 3/4 of the squares done and am hoping the last 1/4 will go a little more quickly (oh, we always hope these things). I'd been feeling like I was just working and working on it and not getting anywhere, so laying the completed squares all out for a photo made me realize that I have actually accomplished quite a bit. Blogging can be therapeutic in so many ways!

So if my recent lack of handwork content has made you wonder what I've been up to, now you can see for yourself. One sofa-full of afghan squares, coming up!

That's 47 squares and I have 16 to go. Then layout, seaming, and edging. But I may have to take a small break to make a Christmas stocking. Thank goodness I have a few more days off and streaming Netflix!

I shudder to think what other dearly held beliefs might be wrong...


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The story continues...

Hi there! So, you know how I've been complaining and complaining about how this hurts and that hurts and woe is me and that other thing hurts and I have uncontrollable digestive problems? Yeah, I bet you're sick to death of that. Well, hopefully this is that last of those!

Current complaint: It feels like I've been stabbed in the gut four times. Why is that? Well, mostly because I was sort of stabbed in the gut four times. Legally, mind you, by a trained professional who was dearly compensated for having the privilege. Oh, I'm ever so dramatic, aren't I? I had my gallbladder removed yesterday in a laparoscopic procedure that involved four incisions into my abdomen, all of which now sort of hurt a lot. Oh, there's Vicodin, which may be responsible for my current ridiculous blogging style, but it doesn't really keep much pain at bay. Which is pretty annoying, actually.

Really, the surgery went smoothly, and recovery is going just as it should be, and I don't really have anything to complain about. In fact, I have quite a lot to be thankful and happy about. You see, gallbladders are pesky little things. Not only has my icky little diseased organ likely been the cause of many of my digestive problems for the last few years, which isn't surprising at all, but gallbladder pain refers in interesting ways. Like into the right side of your back and shoulder. Seeing a connection here? Not that I didn't have real rotator cuff issues, but we couldn't figure out why, after months of PT and all kinds of stretches, exercises, and obvious strengthening, I couldn't get rid of the pain. Granted, I'm taking Vicodin, but I have had zero shoulder pain since the surgery, even when I woke up this morning hours after the drugs had worn off. So I'm hopeful, hopeful, hopeful that two birds have been struck by this stone. Or the removal of these stones, so to speak. Happy dance!

This was my first surgery and my first admittance to the hospital. I've really been extremely lucky in my life. So I'm not used to having to "get well soon" or being the recipient of beautiful pretties such as my darling coworkers had sent to me today:

Aren't they purdy?? The flowers are just really lovely. Let's zoom a bit, shall we?


The next post will have handwork content. I promise. No, really. For true.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

We had a visitor!

My sinuses have been trying to crawl out of the front of my head all day (most of the time I actually feel pretty good, but you'd never know it if you only read this blog), so when I came home my plan was to heavily medicate and crawl into my bed. Before I could, Gator urgently bid me come out on the back patio and "see something". It's like nature knew I was feeling poorly and sent a tiny emissary to cheer me!

He was so small and unafraid -- he almost tried to hop right into the house as I was taking pictures of him. It's actually Gator's and my first encounter with a baby wild rabbit (which, in retrospect, strikes both of us as kind of odd). I looked it up on this innernets (so it must be true!) and since he no longer has a white blaze on his nose, he is old enough to have been kicked out of the nest by his mother, so we're going to try not to worry about him too much. He's pretty fast, but I also read the depressing statistic that 95% percent of all wild rabbits die before they are six months old. But we're not going to think about that.

Here's another photo of our sweet little friend, with Gator's feet for scale. So adorable and wee!

Live well, tiny visitor. Stop by whenever you'd like; you're most welcome here.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

There's a lot going on here

Just in this post, mind you. Not in Real Life, goodness forbid!!

Last weekend, I decided that I was tired of Gator disparagingly referring to the spare bedroom as the "yarn storage room". Granted, it's where I keep my yarn, as well as my sewing machine and ironing board. We don't actually have a bed for the spare bedroom, so that's pretty much all that's in there. Oh, and empty boxes. Lots of those. But it's not like the "office", which is so full of his hobby crap that I can't use my own desk, gets referred to as the "wargaming miniatures storage room". Although I think I'm going to start. So there. Ppbbfftt.

So, last Sunday, I had a fit of grownuppedness in which I did not merely hurl insults back in kind, but I actually put empty boxes in the attic, went through all the stash, organized, labeled, stacked, and now the room is quite clear of yarn-type debris. In fact, it's an almost totally clean slate upon which to create anything! Also, yes, that is my giant tower of yarn bins, thankyouverymuch, and that's not even counting the bins of fabric that fit in the closet. Those are, yes, just yarn. One of them is just #10 crochet cotton. I know. It's a sickness.

So I get it all cleared out, clean slate and all, and guess what the conversation turned to?? Yep. All about how we should really turn this into a game room. Billiards? Fooseball? Of course not, sillies! Wargames! Argh! It's such a good thing that he's such a sweet, charming, lovable boy. And he is. :)

While I wading through the stash, I came across a source of frustration that I had shoved in the corner in an attempt to make it go away. But it didn't go away and I had to deal with it. Again, Argh! Almost two years ago I started a delightful pair of No-Purl Monkeys with my very first skein of Trekking XXL. I was loving them! Then I found a big ol' knot in ball, connecting two lengths of yarn. What up, Trekking people? Who taught you to make balls? One of the true beauties of making a one-skein object is the distinct lack of end-weaving! Grumble, grumble, moving on. So I continued with my hunky dory sock until it became obvious things were not hunky dory... See that distinctly brighter orange spot on the upper left, there? Yeah, that one?

Well, it turns out that not only does the knot join two lengths of yarn, they are apparently not of the same dye lot and very quite possibly even not the same colorway. So, I say, SRSLY, WTF, TREKKING PPL!?!? You do not even warrant full words. You are supposed to be professional yarny people who sell things people say nice things about! I know! I read many reviews of your products! A little splitty sometimes, sure, but overall a good, solid sock-making experience!

I'm not mad, Trekking, just very, very disappointed in you. Now go to your room and think about what you've done.

So I frogged the sock and can maybe get even two coffee cozies out of the frogged bit. The rest I still may be able to get a pair of anklets out of. And I can send two colors from one skein to Becky for her sock yarn blanket, if I ever get around to being a good friend again. Right now, though, this yarn is so seriously in time out that I don't even want to look at it for a bit.

Hi, I have very intense feelings about my yarn! I am that kind of crazy!

So, does this mean that there will be no delightful sock-yarn coffee cozies until I can stand to look upon my wayward Trekking innards? Why, no! It does not! In fact, there may be a simply gorgeous sock-yarn coffee cozie in my very near future! And how's that, you may ask? Well, it is thanks to my wondrous blog-buddy Laura! She had a contest on her blog a while back and asked folks to identify the uber-cute mug her parents gave her upon completion of her Physical Therapy coursework. Because I am a complete science dork and made up waaaayyy too many crazy ways to remember things while pulling all-nighters for gross anatomy, I was the winner!

Here's my awesome prize -- A sweet note, a scarf book, a sock book, and a tiny skein of Malabrigo that I am so excited to cast on! Let's just look at that charming little skein a little more closely, shall we?

Mmmmmm... Knitting pr0n...

In other news, I am still cursing my arm daily (the Biothrax injection in that arm didn't help matters any) and starting an elimination diet to see if I can figure out why my stomach is upset all the time. Also, I continue to putter along on the wedding afghan and have finally completed half of the blocks. More in the way of visual reports in the near future. Now I'm off to cook my last pork for at least two weeks. Oh, and drink my last beers... :(


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Just don't ask me to explain

I am old. I say this with complete comfort and an embrace of the curmudgeon-ness that accompanies it. The most pressing way this elderliness is manifesting itself lately is music. Man, I just can not find a way to care about most new stuff on the radio, be it on the rock station, the alternative station or the “cool” station here in town. And don’t get me started on Top 40. I was a teenager in the 80’s and still like a great deal of what I listened to then -- U2, REM, The Smiths, Adam Ant, Duran Duran. You get the idea. On the other hand, I love some good rock-n-roll. I’m a huge Rush fan (going to see them tomorrow -- w00t!), have mad props for Iron Maiden, dig on Queensryche, Gator and I had a little tribute sing-a-long when Ronnie James Dio died -- again, you get the idea. Irish music? I’m there. Other random stuff that prevents me from getting prettily pigeon-holed? You betcha.

Even most of what I consider new stuff that I like well enough to spend money on I realize with a bit of disbelief is already 3-5 years old -- Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco!, The Faint. It’s kind of like when I realized not long ago that almost all of my go-to clothes were over ten years old. How do these things happen?

Yes, I’m old, but it seems very strange to me in a kind of weird way. Now, I know the cliché is that you get old, look to the younger generation, and say, “That’s not even music -- that’s just noise!!” I don’t have that. Not at all. Well, okay, there’s that death metal crap that Gator listens to sometimes where the lead “singer” is really just a lead growling throat screamer -- I mean, there’s no tune or anything! But I sort of digress. From the point I was choosing to make, anyway. Death metal notwithstanding, most new music bores the crap out of me. I mean, I can’t even stand to listen to the entire sample clip on Amazon. Bored! Moving on! Nothing remotely interesting happening here! It’s frustrating, not only because listening to the radio can become torture, but because it’s uncomfortable to talk to most people about new music. Inevitably, someone will start talking about some person or band that I know only because I remember that I couldn’t switch away from it fast enough, and I find myself cocking my head at this person and thinking, “How can you, who seem like such an intelligent person, actively listen to that crap on purpose???” And, yes, someday this intelligent person may be one of you darling people that I love.

So, actually, all of this is really just background for what I’m going to do next. I’m going to inflict my music opinion on you. Yes! More than I already have! But, you see, the great thing about doing this on a blog is that you can cock your head at me and wonder about my sanity safely behind my back. Or skip it altogether. You have so much control here!

I feel about music the same way I feel about literature and the visual arts. I don’t come for the technique. Yes, I understand that without some technical expertise the finished product will be crap, but I figure that kind of comes along with being a professional. You can have awesome technique and still produce a crappy final product. I also don’t come for the subtlety of tone in the third beat of the 41st measure or the artful metaphor on the last page of the sixth chapter. For the most part, I don’t come for an artist’s statement. I have a brain and can read primary source material. Soap box to somebody else. What I want is to be moved. It doesn’t have to be dramatic or life-changing. If I want more, you’ve got me. I don’t have to know why. Frankly, I don’t care why. I want something that strikes a chord. No deep analysis. It can be totally stupid and nonsensical, but it’s got to make me want to listen/read/see it again. Period.

Amazon has hundreds of free MP3 downloads that I sift through occasionally. I try to do it monthly, but I just realized that I hadn’t done it since about February. Oh, look! Sus sucks at being timely about something! And something she actually likes to do, even! Imagine that! (Egad, how do any of you even put up with me?) Here’s my extremely scientific methodology: I start the clip. Within about four seconds I decide, based on my level of boredom, whether I will commit to downloading the song or skip directly to the next clip. All the songs I download (this is a very small percentage) go into a playlist and onto Ippy, my iPod for a few days of repeated listening. Then I cull out the ones that are actually boring or otherwise annoying after all, and everything else goes in the permanent lineup. I’ve purchased a couple of albums due to this (BLK JKS, Har Mar Superstar) but, honestly, I often find that even if I like one or two songs by an artist, the rest of the album does nothing for me. So I play my free songs game and have a grand ol’ time.

And now I will force it upon you! play before a live audience (sorta)!

Without further ado, here are my picks for best free singles on, August 2010 version!

And there you have it! A selection of free mp3 downloads that I like. There are several whole sampler albums for free on Amazon as well (I especially like the middle eastern stuff), but that’s another post altogether. Maybe you’ll find something you like as well. If you do, please share!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Woe is me (feel free to jump directly to the picture)

So I am home sick today with a head full of cotton wool soaked in vinegar (or at least that's what it felt like this morning), and that seems like a perfect opportunity to go on at length about how my aging body is betraying me and how that is affecting my life including, most importantly, my handwork. Now that I've slept like the dead for the better part of the day, that is.

About eight months ago, my right elbow started hurting. Soon, I couldn't even straighten my arm without intense pain. I went to the doctor who determined that I had lateral epidondylitis (tennis elbow) that was actually due to a (probably very old) rotator cuff problem. Physical therapy for my shoulder was prescribed and a cortisone shot in my elbow so I could stand to do the exercises. Theory being that once I strengthened the shoulder, the elbow would resolve itself.

I'd never had a cortisone shot before so I didn't know what to expect. It worked like a dream and after two days my elbow was completely pain-free. I breezed through physical therapy and everything was peachy. Then I opened a bucket.

To be fair to myself, it was a weird bucket. Five gallons with a sealed lid that could only be removed if you cut several spots around the top with a pair of snips. I apparently didn't snip sufficiently because when I went to pull the lid off, I felt what seemed like a separation in my elbow and intense pain. It swelled up but I iced it and by the next day it was a little better. Since this happened at work, I went to work injury where they assured me I had just strained a muscle, put me on restrictions for a week and the pain slowly lessened to nothing. Two weeks later I had a completely clean bill of arm-related health.

Then the cortisone wore off.

Since then I've been trying not to go back to the doctor, but I've been in constant pain. I do not just want another cortisone shot and another round of PT. I'm a Smart Girl (tm), so I've been researching some of my problems on my own. I've learned that my pecs were very shortened and I've been stretching them which really does seem to affect my elbow. I am sore in every trigger point of my right latissmus dorsi, but I've so far been unable to find a lasting way to relieve this. And, let me tell you, the effects of this muscle are far-reaching. My teres major is pretty pissed off. And my triceps are none too happy. I read, I stretch, I exercise, and sometimes it seems to help. But it just doesn't last. I'm not quite ready to give up, but that day may come. But if their response is another shot and another round of PT, that copay will be the last of my money they'll see.

The reason I tell you all of this: It's really cut into my handwork. It often hurts to crochet or knit. So I'm not getting much done. Which particularly sucks because I have this big project I'm working on for an extremely dear friend who got married last Saturday and I'm not even half done. Now I realize that Miss Post says I have one year to present the happy couple with their gift, and it's not that I've never utilized this convenient rule of etiquette in the past, but I really should have been able to get this done. And that just makes me sad.

So that's my story -- things are pretty slow around here. But while the cortisone was still chugging away, so was I. I showed some in progress pictures earlier in the process, but I failed to show the finished product -- an imminently pretty cross stitch for my mother-in-law. And I got it done in plenty of time for Mother's Day, complete with mat and frame.

Click to embiggen

It's not high art, and it's not a show of immense skill, but I think it is just very, very pretty. It was a kit that I luckily stumbled upon in a clearance bin, and it was hilariously called a "Weekender". This is about like the redonculously named "Square-A-Day" tablecloth that I've ranted about before and remains the bane of my handworking existence. Seriously, who are these people??

So now I continue to plod along on the big wedding project when the arm doesn't stand in the way. But at least it's not titled something that constantly makes me feel like a slow, inadequate crafter with too much of a life. I'm free to impose all of that upon myself.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Reason I love the interwebs #239

None of this is brand new news. I'm just now getting around to posting it.

You may recall that, some months ago, I designed a crocheted snowflake. Before I posted the pattern, my dear blog buddy Judy beta tested it. In thanks, I whipped up a small, pretty, useful knitted gift -- the Soap Sweater. It's soap, encased in a wool sweater that will felt as it's used and I think they're darling.

Soap Sweater by Cynthia Hall
(cable pattern from Very Cably Mittens)
Patons Classic Wool

I sent it off to her, it was well received, and everything was lovely.

And then, maybe as a thank-you for the thank-you gift, or maybe because I'd complimented others she had made (okay, maybe I'd done that about 27 times, but it wasn't a hint, I swear), or maybe just because she is awesome, I was gifted with the wonderfulness that is...

...wait for it...

...the incredible lavender chicken potholder!!!!!!!!!

Isn't it glorious? Doesn't it scream, "my kitchen is a delightful place to be!!"? I've had it for awhile now and I still get giddy every time I see it. Yay! Thank you again, Judy; I lurve him! I am thinking of naming him Ramon.

And that is why I love the 'net. It's where my friends live. :)