Saturday, July 31, 2010

Defensive Driving

And when I say defensive driving, I'm not talking about the kinds of things that are said after spending 7 hours in a car with Mr. Sophanne and the dog. If I were, I'd talk about how he smacks his mouth when he's chewing cashews. And he'd likely tell you about what a boring non-verbal traveling companion I am- (although- really- who can talk over that "cashews-in-your- teeth" smacking sound????)

Just kidding. None of the above happened. It just happened in my head- but was caused by spending 2 straight weeks in nearly constant company with each other. He's off to spend his "free money" from the casino and me and the Liza-girl get a little quiet time.

This quiet time means no t.v., no video games, no sand fleas biting at my ankles, a fully charged (without the fear of blowing a fuse) iPod touch with books on it, a wireless internet connection, a clean dog and clean sheets in the dryer kind of quiet time. A catch up on the favorite blogs quiet time. A "HOLY CRAP WE HAVE GREEN TOMATOES" quiet time. An "oh lookie the bunnies ate the strawberries we never saw" quiet time. A pet the cat who survived another two week vacation quiet time. And an "oh man it's too quiet without those awesome kids and their awesome mama" quiet time. Especially when I realize that the mama doesn't get the kind of quiet time I'm having right now.

How's the dog, you ask? EXHAUSTED. The kind of exhausted where the red in her lower eyelids appears and she can barely keep her eyes open even when I'm eating pizza. She wants that last bit of crust that I always give her but by the time I get to it, she's asleep again.

But back to defensive driving. While I'm certain this behavior has saved my life on more than one occasion, there is a drawback. I realized today that every other driver is an enemy in my mind.

Not just a "mind your own business not bothering me enemy" but a "hey you pissant driver why are you so stupid" enemy.

Even when they do nothing wrong.

In fact as we were motoring down the road, I asked Mr. Sophanne to flip off a couple of harmless buses from Shandon Baptist Church. He refused- or else he could't hear me over the cashew-chewing. This "request a random flip off from your spouse" behavior is not me. I don't do these things in real life. It had to be a cumulative effect of too much defensive driving.

In a better world we will all be able to get where we want to go without the fear of running big heaps of metal into each other. I will continue to drive defensively for now and try not to be quite so defensive.

Stay tuned for a blocked Brandywine (which will be promptly gifted to the daughter of the mr.) and pictures of green roma tomatoes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wetlands Institute- Stone Harbor NJ

Yesterday was Totally Turtle Tuesdays at the Wetlands Institute. After a well-done educational session, the kids got to watch Pretty Girl (a terrapin) eat a fiddler crab.

They also saw a rescued turle set free into the marshlands- Never one to follow rules much, Mr. Sophanne took the boy on the trails in the marsh. I'm thinking these were "employee only" trails- or at least "wear big rubber boots" trails.

Marsh Muck-2 The Boys-0

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wildwood, New Jersey Part Two

Tilt-a whirl-merrygoround-The Tornado-White Shark- Aztek Helicopters-Go-Karts and the lure of the Ravens "Rice" shirt from the basketball Carnies.

The girl, the girl, the mama.

The girl and the boy

The girl and sophanne.

Favorite quote from the boy last night- "How does a war end?" I had no answer. "Badly" came to mind but I knew it wouldn't satisfy.

Favorite quote from the 5-girl last night- "I have no feeling." (I think she was saying that she couldn't feel the air conditioner in the car)

That was last night with promises of a repeat performance this evening. I mostly want to go to one of the shops and buy the Ray Rice jersey to end the strife but I realize that attachment is a wily beast and once that desire is quenched, there will be but another one.

This morning while they do the go to the beach thing, I am headed for the grocery store and the package store. When the girl has a donut for breakfast, the mama deserves a glass of cabernet in the evening.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 2 House B

Everyone's present and accounted for. My favorite line of last night came from age 5 "I can't WAIT until you see my new PAJAMAS!" Also priceless was the look on her face when presented with a box of 64 Crayolas. The puppet show that was happening took a turn something like "And then their friend was drawing and they stopped to watch her."

Age 10 and 8 played the wii we brought. I occasionally have to remind Mr. Sophanne that they don't have to do it the "right way" to have fun with it.

He so very much wanted to spend the evening at Wildwood and it took every bit of "honey do you really thinks..." to convince him that looking at the rides and fun through a raging thunderstorm really wouldn't be much fun.

This morning they are at the beach and I stayed home with the dog and made a giant salad. I wish I could like the beach more but I really don't. I like having it near me. I just am not into hot and sand and sunscreen and itchy sticky and maybe having a fish swim into you at the ocean. All that work just to feel like a whale in a bathing suit? Not for me.

Sadly this VRBO (vacation rental by owner) has not turned out as well as others have in the past. Safety concerns left the kids and the mama sleeping downstairs in the living room. There will be words with the owner later- I'm trying not to let my frustration at not getting what we paid for ruin the family fun mood.

Day 3? So far so good. More giggles and cuddling to come. And hopefully Wildwood tonight!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A or B- you decide.

This will be a retro post- I am taking you back into the past. Because of this, you need not feel bad for we have survived day one in the new rental and while there is no wireless, we did find the ethernet.

This morning while moving from rental A to rental B, I broke and gashed the right foot pointy toe. This particular toe has been broken so many times (I swear it must be some extra long genetic toe defect) that I have high hopes that this particular break will allow it to bend once again (it's been straight as a board since college)

Rental A- central air
Rental B- window units that flip the breaker

Rental A- internet service
Rental B- "it worked for the last tenants- they must have set the password- I don't know much about that tech stuff."

Rental A- doggie gate on the porch so that Lil Liza could be on the porch without the fear of her running off.
Rental B- maybe we can block the porch off with a chair.

Rental A- volume control on t.v. unavailable
Rental B- volume control available.

For the record, I could have lived without volume control.

Today we drove to Baltimore, picked up a rental car, dropped off our car to the daughter's in-laws and drove the rental back to the shore. Lost? East coast or west, Mr. Sophanne and I are the perpetual sequel to Planes Trains and Automobiles.

Failing to ice my toe before we left, Mr. Sophanne pulled off at the Maryland Welcome Center and bought an entire bag of ice to rest on my foot.

Unlike in the movie, we had no problem getting our rental car- however finding the in-laws house meant each of us in a car- no one as navigator.

The biggest win of the day was my "driving while navigating with Mr. Sophanne following" on and off I-695 to I-95 to-NJ-702. I must have been a cabbie in a past life. I'm sure the impressions my hands left in the steering wheel will come out in time. I was grateful that the broken toe did not have to slam on the brakes.

Thus ends this triple digit heat warning Saturday... stay tuned.

ETA- we slept well- Mr. Sophanne feared bats might fly out of the chifforobe (I DID NOT just use that word!) but such was not the case.

The main living area has cooled down to a balmy 79 degrees.

I finished the traveling woman shawl for the neighbor watching the cat- photos will wait until blocking because it does indeed look like a diaper.

The toe is feeling better.

Daughter of Mr. Sophanne and grands are on their way. (when they phoned last night to ask about the house I used the word "rustic" - really I should have used the words "rustic college-town rental including a drawer full of random unsorted silverware with a plethora of salad tossing forks")

Friday, July 23, 2010

Knitting ahead*

This is Romi's Brandywine in Elsebeth Lavold's silky wool. Just about 3 skeins worth- I will block it when I get home and anticipate adding about 4 more inches to the length as a result. (8 of 10)

Silky wool is divine. It's a light yarn with a substantial drape. It's heavyish without being bulky. Someday I imagine a sweater made from silky wool.

We revisited Historic Cape May- not for the history but for the shops. That Mr. Sophanne is a dear- I don't go into places because I really don't need anything and I don't want to make him crazy. His reaction is to peek in, see if he sees something I might enjoy looking at and drag me in. He doesn't do this with every place we pass- he just has a 6th sense about- "hey let's look in here."

I did visit the yarn store. Fiber Arts Yarn Shop It was a tall store- somewhat crowded given the displays and the 5 or 6 people that were in there. They were busy. They were selling things. The needles were behind the cash register- "must be 18 or older." (not really)

There was a large selection of novelty yarn as well as natural fibers. Standing out as a potential purchase was some Debbie Bliss cashmerino (oh how I love that yarn) and mmmmkoigu- in limited quantities. There was nothing that I needed or even really wanted so I left unnoticed.

Given that the Brandywine above was knit in stash yarn purchased at least 3 years ago, I believe it all worked out for the best.

Because the house we are staying in was not available for 2 weeks in a row, tomorrow we are packing up and moving 2 houses down. We are also preparing for the second round of family which includes driving to Baltimore and picking up a rental car. This has worked out well primarily because we now "know the territory." We can find putt putt and batting cages and the zoo and Wildwood and ice cream stands.

And - because you never know when kids might want to knit- we can find a yarn shop.

*This title makes me laugh and I looked for an image of "knitting a head" but could not find one.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fishing? Really?

Mr. Sophanne is fishing. He is happy. I am knitting. I am happy.

While I'm knitting, I'm thinking about fishing. Fishing as a hobby. Fishing as a relaxing venture. I don't get it.

Up to this point while fishing in this bay, he has hooked two horseshoe crabs and two turtles. All have made it back into the water with varying degrees of "hook damage" that I have to pretend they will recover from. My buddhist "hurt no living thing" self recoils when he proudly catches a fish.

I eat fish. I know where it comes from. I'm not a member of PETA. I get the whole food cycle- life cycle thing.

But when I see a turtle or a crab suffering and in the same moment am obliged to say "ooh- you caught something," I struggle.

It's much easier when he plays Mario Video games while I knit. Then I only have to say "Look, Another Gold Star! Woo Hoo!"

Sensitive much?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

at the bay

Nothing exciting to report here in vacation land- but I guess that's how it's supposed to be.

Anyone care to guess as to why I become an impatient witch to be around on vacation?

I've got a handsome husband, a great dog, and if he doesn't turn left when I tell him to, I become an eye-rolling devil.

Note to self- work on that.

Mr. Sophanne caught a horseshoe crab whilst fishing. Liza is uncertain. A couple of more dog shots to distract you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I love them nieces!

These are nieces of Mr. Sophanne- currently Target Employees but the one on the left has a music ed degree (like me.) Right now she's o.k. with staying close to home and mama and sis and living some life. The one on the right is in college. The first time I met them we were making arrangements for their father's funeral. They are a delight. Funny, brilliant, quirky, non-mainstream and quick. Love. Them.

Re: The Superhero of Horseshoe crabs. (pictures compliments of nieces). These guys wash up on the beach and sometimes get flipped over. If their karma is good, the tide carries them back out before the seagulls find them. (They can't flip themselves back) Here you see the before and after pics- one little shove with a croc on my foot sent them on their way.

Just imagine one of those little tentacles squirming around most unexpectedly.

Given last summer's fascination with hermit crabs at the sound, I can only imagine the delight in store for next week when Grandchildren of Mr. Sophanne arrive!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wildwood, New Jersey

on a Saturday night- what a trip!

That and being the horseshoe crab superhero with her trusty sidekick Lil-Liza were the highlights of the day.

Have you ever seen the squirming underbelly of an upside-down horseshoe crab? Creepy barely describes what it looks like.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Band Camp

In spite of my distaste (MOUNTAIN MAMA- I WAS NEVER A BAND GEEK IN A FORMER LIFE!) for marching band, my career as an elementary music teacher would not have existed without moments of band camp geekery. This post is about observations made and lessons learned.

High School- band camp lessons learned-

Your legs do not look better if you leave the Nair on longer. In fact the opposite is true. Happily it was my best friend you can ask about this and not me. I've been a stubbly legged doofus all of my hair growing life.

Maybe steer clear of the girl who likes to give massages all the time. (not that there's anything wrong with that)

The instructors had WAY MORE FUN than we did.

It's easier to direct the band than it is to carry an instrument- you don't have to carry all that crap around and remember what notes to play- you also get to hear a little more of what the instructors are laughing at.

College- band camp lessons learned-

As a music education major (in college), one semester of marching band was mandatory. I did it in my sophomore year and realized through observation that there was a level of band geekery that I would NEVER go to.

Click here for an article on Dawn "Grandma" West who has been a member of the Mountaineer Marching band for 26 years. (not that there's anything wrong with that.)

After college I got a job as a junior high band director and had band geekery on two levels. One as the band director and the other as a lowly camp instructor. Most of the lessons learned were as the instructor rather than the person in charge.

Band directors that behave as though they are martyrs (weeping and saying "can't you guys do this for me") should be reported to Child Protective Services.

There was (and probably still is) a good reason for WV to establish anit-hazing rules in the public schools.

If you don't drink enough water, you will get a UTI and end up in the emergency room.

There are still creepy camp instructors who hit on young girls and believe that proper punishment for disrespect is cleaning toilets with a toxic combination of chemicals. (as an aside- Parents, trust your instincts. If the sleazy looking trumpet instructor looks like he might be a child predator, keep your kid away from him no matter what his references are or how well his students play.)

I have never laughed harder in my life than in the after hours with other band camp instructors. Never. Take a good knit night laugh and times it by 100. (But NEVER with the creepy camp instructors)

At one point I found myself with a group of band people that were way too intense. I mean seriously- We were standing on a hill about 50 feet above the field and the director was screaming at a kid to move 2 inches to the left in a 100 yard field. This nonsense was not for me. I was always the funny one walking on the field keeping kids morale up and the drama down. More than one kid got in trouble for laughing with me but no one ever cared.

High school kids will gladly march perfectly if you carry around music note stickers. They will be sad and jealous of their friends if they don't get one.

For the seven years I was the person in charge of 40 junior high band kids, I learned that junior high kids CRACK ME UP and that I was not perhaps the greatest music educator with them because I enjoyed their company too much.

When you are no longer a band director leading junior high kids in parades, it takes about 5 years of going to the occasional parade before you can stop laughing at the insanity of the job you used to have.

These days my only connection with band geekery comes in the form of teaching kids to play their instruments in the first year. This is magical. It's their step out of childhood and into something a little bigger. I do cringe though when, once they are able to play a note or two, I see them trying to march and play at the same time. One time at band camp....

Hey- here's an idea- I know that at least one or two of you have a favorite band camp story. Don't be shy- you can even post as anonymous- don't worry about the comment length- just share a story- then come back and see if anyone else did.

Daily blogging

I'm blogging today because I like to blog- fair warning in that I have little to say.

There's a new song going through my head. It goes like this- "The Dog goes on vacation but the cat stays home." (l dd ll ss ff m r d for the Friends of Solfege)

Packing-I am a thorough packer. (switch that around and it sounds like a name in a mystery novel- Packer Thorough.) This comes from about 15 years of "going to band camp" (yea, I know "one time..") Band camp packing is different from rental house packing and I think I'm finally beginning to get the hang of the switch. (how sad that for many years, band camp WAS my vacation?) With great effort I try to remember the things we never have when we get there. That said, coffee, filters, laundry detergent and garbage bags are ready to go. I may forget the obvious but we WILL have coffee.

Much has been written in blogland about what a knitter should pack. I am slowly overcoming my need to pack the entire stash. This success relates directly to the fact that I've heard there's a nice yarn store in Cape May. But- of late there has been both crocheting and knitting in these parts and I am hoping there's enough room to include both giant bags. How much space can 20+ skeins of wound Cascade take anyway? The knitting is all lace so I'll be able to fit 5-6 projects in a similar sized bag.

The availability of books on-line (I use the kindle reader app on my iphone- the actual kindle clicks too much when I change the pages-I should have waited for the iPad) make for much lighter travel.

I'm also a big fan of the Old Time Radio and Vintage Radio podcasts of "Suspense" and "Lights Out" (and others) so I will stock up on those as well. I finally found the old-time radio channel on Mr. Sophanne's XM radio so if I'm driving, he'll be in for a surprise.

I considered purchasing a prepaid mobile wireless internet (addicted much?) because I fear this beach house (which doesn't have phone service) may not have internet. Looking into, it I found too many similarities to the cell phone industry and decided to wait.

This blog began as a knitting blog. In just a while or so I will have some huge knitting to show. I've finished chart three of the giant Queen Anne's Lace in white malabrigo lace-weight. I really think it's going to be gorgeous and gigantic -if I have enough room to block it. Patience, my pretties, patience. I anticipate finishing that and Babette the 2 by the end of the summer. Then it will be time to get the sweater mojo going again with some handspun (not my own) in a tiger's eye color.

Monday, July 12, 2010

dinner- for us and the bunnies

This morning's beautiful Purple Queen bloom is gone. I hope it was yummy, bunny. It's once again a lovely decorative plant. GardeningNeighborMarilyn came by this morning and reviewed the troops We've got daisies- maybe some digitalis-definitely not a weed and something I never even noticed- strawberry plants. No wonder the bunnies and deer love us so. I'm not going to count on any fruity products but there will be no more Mr. Sophanne weedeating over there.

The creamed chicken was good. I've tried creamed dishes before- usually whipping cream and flour in some combination- an alfredo sauce of sorts. This cream sauce had the above and also included egg whites. It was very light and fluffy- not a heavy cream sauce at all.

I made an excess of mashed potatoes but really is there such a thing? And they reminded me of my grandma. And they reminded me of how hard she used to work when we went there for dinner. So much homemade food- the kitchen always hot and steamy- winter or summer. I just felt her there in the mashed potatoes. It was lovely.

There was fresh broccoli as well and enough leftover for a sweet little lunch tomorrow. For once "makes four servings" was telling the truth. It wasn't difficult but quite time consuming. I've added a "dollar store" paring knife to the kitchen supplies and had a nice time mindfully peeling potatoes. These recipes were no doubt in the time when the mama/wife had all day to put them together. It was also nice to have something tasty and chicken-y with fresh ingredients that didn't involve "add one can of cream of chicken condensed soup."

Soon we will be vacationing- the remainder of the week will involve preparing supplies for traveling to New Jersey with the dog. New Jersey? Really? We're headed to the bay side of Cape May- Reed's Beach.

The last time we went to Jersey I did not have a blog. This is a good thing. We rented the bottom of a house next to a noisy-water-craft rental place. It was the first post-marriage coming together of Mr. Sophanne's family members and I- things are always rocky at the beginning- we love each other muchly now. And at the end of the week, Mr. Sophanne lost his brother.

I'm hoping there's no Jersey hex or we're in for a doozy.

Today's blog post is brought to you by Nature

Who needs a gardening book when you have brilliant blog friends? That's todays motif. Clicking makes the pictures a little bigger but I hate a slow loading blog so not very much bigger.

The first item up for display is a known entity. The unknown factor is the bloom that appeared this morning.

I thought these were more "decorative because our leaves are purple" sort of plants. This morning this one said "Surprise!"

I can (I think) identify some of the ground cover in picture number 2 as myrtle, yes? What about that yellow flower? A wildflower maybe or something more definite?

#3 is a bit of a mystery that may or may not be solved before vacation. My heart of hearts is hoping it's a dahlia but that seems so unlikely. It also may just be a gianter leafed version of #2. Or it may be a giant weed

Finally (#4) there's this little something something living happily in the "bad dirt.".

My zen mind says "flowers are flowers- there are no weeds." My "want to be a little bit of a garden planter mind" wonders "garden member or eradicate?"

In fiber news-the crochet afghan is moving right along as is the Queen Anne's Lace. That lace is going to be a doozy. The spinning wheel is going back into time out. It's more frustrating than happy-making right now and I'm all about the happy.

In cooking news- That Jello-mold high lasted well into the late evening yesterday. I was laughing and joyful all day long. It wasn't just Mr. Sophanne who was the funny guy although he did have the best line of the day. *insert Brooklyn accent*

You know what comes after jello don't you? long ominous pause puh-ddin'

There may or may not be jello molds arriving from ebay in the next week or two.

Today's mission- unless I change my mind- will be to cook some chicken in that ceramic pot. (I'm thinking if I put chicken broth and garlic in there on a low temp for a few hours, I can't go wrong.) Then I'll turn said chicken into creamed chicken (as per a recipe in the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cooking (now and forever known as WD-EOC). I'll mash some potatoes and see what fresh vegetable I can find-comfort food city- unless I change my mind.

This is one summer that will not be filed under the category of "Wasted."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jello Mold Heaven

Do you remember "bff and creator of cool stuff", The Claw?

He sent me a facebook photo of his mostly circa 1950 kitchen to remind me that I had access to jello-molds a plenty- Let the planning begin!

(I think the picture will embiggen with clickage)

I wish you could have heard me this morning.

It became obvious to me last night that while I have eaten plenty of jello in my life, I have never really MADE any jello.

Just before bedtime, I checked the progress and found myself quite gleeful when I saw that it had mostly hardened. I said "Well look at that- that cracks me up."

This morning I woke up (and again thanks to some buried "my mom made jello molds" factoid) I put the jello mold in hot water in the sink. I accidentally got a little hot water in the mold but it didn't matter much.

I pulled out the cake plate and


Oh the laughing and hilarity that ensued. I insisted that Mr. Sophanne leave his comfy chair and come and look. He said "it's a jello mold" He just doesn't get it. I MADE A JELLO MOLD! ON THE FIRST TRY! It was powder and water and fruit and now it's a piece of (albeit simple) food architecture. It seriously cracked me the h-e- double hockey sticks UP! I've even been taking laugh breaks as I type.

The recipe came from Victoria Belanger's blog, Basic ingredients - knox gelatin- gingerale-water- fruit. She called for champagne which I would think would make it yummy but was too complicating for a first try.

Why, my friends, does this make me laugh so much? What is my deal-io? Do you recall your first jello-mold/jello making experience? Was it similar or does it mean that perhaps I've achieved enlightenment because such simplicity astounds me? Do I now actually have something to bring to the "let's all bring something to eat" parties at school?

I'd like to thank my wise and wonderful blog friends for pointing out that it was indeed a jello mold I acquired yesterday. After doing a little preparatory jello research, I discovered that those goofy copper molds are actually used as jello molds and you can be sure I'll be flea-marketing for some of those in the near future. Even if I never eat a bite, the joy it provides will be worth the seventy five cent investment.

The masterpiece is in the refrigerator, recovering from a close call with hot water. This afternoon I will acquire some cool whip to complete the fabulousness. Oh what a life I lead.

ETA- it's Tasty too!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pampered Chef?

Not so much.

A visit to the Humane Society's annual yard sale netted some more kitchen clutter. This collection cost all of $2.50. The electric wok works-though the inside is gently seasoned. I got it because when I tried to make chicken lo mein a few weeks ago, I ran out of pot.

Not knowing a whole lot I'm going to guess that the two pans are a bundt pan and an angel food cake pan. I'm assuming they are two separate entities intended for very different uses. I'll let you be the educators in the comments. For 25 cents apiece, if nothing else I can take them to school and let kids bang on them.

I think the ceramic pot was the best deal- it was $1. I have memories of a friend putting stew meat in such a container, putting the oven on low and cooking it for several hours. I'm not a big meat fan but it was the best time I ever wanted seconds on beef.

Last November, my mama sent me a "magic bullet" for my birthday. Having blown out several blenders and automatic little choppy machines, I was reluctant to get it out. Yesterday I picked up an assortment of berries and some plain yogurt and ice and made a smoothie. Go figure. I even put the appliance in a kitchen cupboard (where Mr. Sophanne does not visit) so that it will be handy.

In gardening news- the first of the purple/blue plants is indeed Scabiosa. The second is Veronica- also called Speedwell. Thanks to all who helped me figure that out. The roma tomato plants have one yellow flower each which I anticipate disappearing in the next several days unless Liza was fierce enough to keep the groundhog away permanently.

I purchased volume 7 and 8 of the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cooking on ebay (so mama you don't have to worry about finding/sending them). Now I think I'll go look in volume 1 and 2 for bundt cake and angel food cake recipes- (stay tuned for macadamia cookies- Mr. Sophanne's favorite- they are in the M's which is volume 7!)

Friday, July 09, 2010

Spin Try #3

This is not plied yarn- (obviously?) but my singles are improving... I'm calling it a day- time for a nap.

easy street

The heat wave of late has been a little taxing on my brain. Combine that with a few attempts at spinning and I don't really feel like thinking too hard about my other handcrafts so much. I also came to the realization that in spite of the fabulous plan I had for my Kaffe Fassett stranded knitting project, that really is one of those things I'm never going to do. Dear Knitting, Purling with strands is too hard for me.

Given these circumstances, I pulled out the crochet hook and the scads of Cascade that I bought for that workshop and started another Babette of sorts. When all else fails, mindlessly double crochet granny squares of varying sizes. I started thinking about which colors to use when but gave up on that after the center block. The only real method to the madness is that I'm trying to start the "next" square with the outer color of the previous one. Beyond that I'm trusting the colors to play nice together. However, no matter what it's next to, the yellow-gold on the far right center offends my sensibilities regularly.

Two more plants have been added. This first one had a tag but it's nowhere near me right now. I do recall that the tag says it attracts butterflies- and I saw one last night.

The second has no tag and I'm inclined to drive the 30 minutes back to the nursery to get it lest my garden journal be incomplete but have not yet done so.

I think butterflies might like it too. When pointed out these two plants to the kind helping guy at the nursery I referred to them as "purple." He gently suggested "Do you mean the blue ones?" Does blue = purple in gardening? Is there a secret color code that I don't know about? So much to know.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


So after posting about our little groundhog encounter yesterday, I went through my GoogleReader blogs and jellidonut had this to share about her back yard visitors. Elk? Really? They're giant and I'm pretty sure would chortle at the thought of confetti poppers.

It was a knit night last night and while there were only three of us it was one of those evenings where everything seemed funny to me.

Marc said "the joke around our house was that when the smoke alarm went off we knew dinner was done."

Claire told of the squirrels in her yard sitting on the fence post cracking open burred chestnuts to get to the sweet meat. And of the birds that sit on the ground beneath the squirrel to catch whatever he drops. I just pictured birds who have migrated from Jersey to Pittsburgh saying- (insert Jersey accent) "Hey squirrel- throw us a bone here" or "You gonna eat all that or what?"

There was a job interview taking place a few tables over that we could not help but overhear bits and pieces of. Mostly the woman asking the questions was the Loud Talker so we heard those but not the answers. Tell me about a time when you set goals and how you worked to achieve them." My answer in my head "I'm here aren't I?"

Mr. Sophanne and I have been watching bits and pieces of "The Last Comic Standing." Come to find we both occasionally imagine ourselves doing that. I told him he'd be the kind of comic that would be like fireworks finale time- pow then pow- then p-p-p- powee!

At first I thought I'd be the dry delivery with a punchline girl. After last night I was thinking I'd be more like the escalating series of funny funny funny. Today though, I realize that i would be a terrible failure at it because my set might include lines like "so there was this squirrel eating chestnuts on a fence post- isn't that hysterical!?!" I mean who really has time to go into all the details? Can't you make your own jokes?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

thank you internets

Thanks to a Spinning 101 video from knitting daily, I am now speaking to my tension knob and it's beginning to learn who's boss.

I'm not a Tour de Fleece girl but company loves misery- or something like that. I think after a few more "10 minutes a day" (any more and you'll lose your mind) spinning practices, I'll be liking it again.

Crouching Liza Hidden Groundhog

Just when you think that the only thing to blog about is how hot it's supposed to get outside, nature pitches you a blogpost.

I woke up this morning to the dog barking frenetically and Mr. Sophanne yelling "get the camera!"

A closer look at the invader-

Being the "more like city-folk than anything else" that we are, we first watched the goings on sort of like a nature documentary. Finally it occurred to us (when Liza got too close to the GH and he snarled and surged forward) that someone might get hurt and maybe we better "do something."

Mr. Sophanne said "I'll throw some rocks at it- maybe it will run away." I suggested that it wasn't going to run anywhere lest it be chased by the dog so I managed to get Liza inside.

With dog inside, Mr. S began throwing some rocks. GH was unphased. Seriously, what are a couple of rocks compared to a barking dog-

Then he said "Get the confetti poppers!" (these were left over from his birthday celebration.) Our thinking? Maybe if it sounds like a popping gun shot the groundhog will run.

After wishing the unmoved groundhog a belated "Happy 4th of July," we analyzed the situation. Was it hurt? Was it rabid? Was there blood on Liza's mouth? Are we in danger? What should we do? Thankfully we don't own a gun (yes we are Western PA anomalies).

Mr. Sophanne went to the bedroom to put on his "smack him with a shovel-make sure you've got a good ball cap and long pants on"- outfit.

I made a phone call to my favorite school custodian. I described the goings on and she said that the groundhog thought he was hiding. She essentially gave me the "Little Bo Peep" cure. "Leave him alone and he'll go home, wagging his tail behind him." Which he did. Although if you would ever meet Shirley the custodian you would be more likely to believe that the groundhog overheard what she said and behaved accordingly.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Those with true wisdom

know it's time to take a break from trying to spin BEFORE they look at the tension knob and defiantly mutter "you suck" at it.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

I *heart* Lydee

Lydee my friend in blogland AND real life posted a great idea in yesterday's comments- A Garden Journal. I so didn't want to throw those little informational tags away and was afraid I'd forget what I had going on out there- it's Brilliant.

It also coincides with my right brain desire to do some drawing- and plants don't move around much. I'm not that great at it but I love love love the way paper and lines of ink become something else. Talk about an exercise in letting go and not being perfect. I could only tolerate it for about 20 minutes- this will be a skill to practice.

I won't post these regularly- it would be a journal of a journal and that seems a little silly but here are the first two pages because I'm so excited about the idea.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The real reason

that I got fake nails is because I wanted to play "dress like twins" with Aunt of Sophanne when we went for dinner at Sister of Sophanne's. The search for a blonde wig was fruitless although I could have purchased Paris Hilton hair for $40 at the local Sally beauty supply. Why did I do this? To crack myself up.

My entrepreneuring niece set up a blanket after we left and sold 4th of July beads I brought for everyone at a 500% mark-up-just in time for vacation. There's one girl that won't have to worry about collecting too much stuff.

Because her family was leaving for vacation today, I didn't bring this cake

and instead opted for some healthier cantaloupe that would travel better as leftovers. GoodNeigbhorMarilynn told me how to do this one- It's a purchased angel food cake sliced in three layers. The topping is pudding, coolwhip, and mashed ripe bananas. I froze it overnight and it tastes like a nice light cake and ice cream. Looking at myself in the "dress like your aunt" picture, I think the next one will be made with sugar/fat free pudding and cool whip!

Something has discovered the garden- a deer or a bunny or a bear (possibly what LizaJane was barking at All.Night.Long) and I woke up to find a little yellow flower missing.

Should this continue, I may rename the garden "Sophanne's House of Fast Food Carry Out"

Here's a closer look at what I added last week next to the tomato plants. I don't remember the name of anything and these flowers were saved- possibly by a barking dog.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Passions and Hobbies

Today I realized that a person can have both.

My passions are knitting and making good music with kids. I do my best at both. I will spend a great deal of time and money to get better at both. They are the two things that take up most of my creative brain thinking time.

Lately I've ventured into cooking and gardening. I do not feel an overwhelming passion for either. I wouldn't want to do either as a profession, but sometimes I have fun while doing them. I'm calling that a hobby. Too much time with either and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be fun anymore.

Today I hobbied. I extended the "garden"

I bought some cake doilies

and I got an almost complete set of these cookbooks at the thrift store for $4.50-

I already have #2- #7 and #8 are missing. I think my mom has the set but I'm pretty sure it would cost more than $4.50 to send them. Maybe she'll dig out seven and eight. The good thing about these is that they look alike if you don't look too closely so Mr. Sophanne won't know how many books I actually brought into the house today.

And I bought these:

Jason (at this blog) blogs about drawing every person in New York. His simple pen and ink drawings inspire me with every post in an "I can do that... Can I do that?" kind of way. It's another one of those fleeting whimsies that you'll either hear more about or you won't.

I am fairly certain that without this blog and the the blogs you write, most of these hobbies would become another one of those things I'll never do. So hey blogland friends- thanks for reading my blog- having blogs of your own, and inspiring me to have adventures.