Friday, July 29, 2011

Today's Favorite

My favorite picture of the day is of BrotherJerry stopping "traffic" as TallulahJune makes her way across the street.

No one looked terribly hungry at the end of the evening and I didn't stress out-it felt nice to prepare food- go figure.


I'm cooking for 12 tonight.

'nuff said.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

We're all different

You might remember a post about the Christmas Program where I point out that one of the ways kids show excitement for the upcoming performance is by asking what songs we are singing. (even after 3 weeks of practice) It reinforces the theory that everyone displays their excitement in different ways.


Grandson of Mr. Sophanne said very directly to his mother-"Aren't you excited for tomorrow? We're going to NEW JERSEY!" (somehow I think that's going to be really funny to him someday- New Jersey? Really?)

On the way home from the practice run to the airport, Mr. Sophanne passed the stadium where the Phillies play and practiced for when everyone would be in the car. As in "Look Levi, that's where the Phillies play"

Me, I post on the blog

count 'em Haley-Labor of Love- there are 120! I feel so blessed

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A New Business Plan

I won't go into details because one thing I don't like to do is complain on this blog. Everybody's got troubles. Mine aren't special or at all huge. The following describes the first 3 days at this year's vbro

As of this writing, the situation is vastly improved but suffice it to say that with temperatures in the 90+ degrees since Saturday, things got a little testy.

After taking a practice drive to the Philadelphia Airport-where Mr. Sophanne has to go Thursday morning to get the fam (which also served to cool our tempers and give the repairmen time to work) we returned to the rental hoping desperately rather than seething angrily. Not many can say that a drive to Philly at 4:30 in the afternoon is relaxing but there it is.

We got on our bikes, rode to downtown Avalon and ate at Nemo's. In my opinion it's the cheese that makes or breaks any given pizza place. I ordered the "Pizza Boli" (pizza stromboli) and really got a huge honking slab of italian like bread baked around some seriously awesome mozzarella cheese with a side order of some pizza sauce. Awesome mozzarella can make any day better.

The new business plan? VBRO POLICE FORCE.

T-1 day until the fun fam arrives!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A business plan

Today was stormy here at the ocean. Lots of thunder rumbling. Lots of shaking dog. It was a good day to snooze, read and relax.

Last night's snack run meant donuts for breakfast, salt and vinegar chips and a Ben and Jerry's ice cream bar for lunch.

Mr. Sophanne went foraging for food later in the day. I don't see what the hurry was. There were still donuts left.

Once the groceries were in-house we went out to eat. It was a place called Maggie's. The food was meh- the "gimmick" of the place were the employee shirts and signs that read "No Whining." I'm guessing we won't be going back there. I like to whine too much. Not really.

We walked onto the beach and it was sparse and lovely. Lot's of open space there. I'll get back to you on the theme music when it's not stormy and it's daytime. We'll likely go tomorrow.

With that in mind I came upon an idea for a new business plan to pitch to Gilette. I believe there is a market for razors aimed at women of Eastern European descent who haven't shaved above the knees since the last vacation. In addition to a sharper more durable razor-possibly along the lines of a utility knife, the combo pak would include liquid plumber.

Any investors? anyone? Beuller?

Saturday, July 23, 2011


If you go to iTunes and search Randy Newman and Avalon you will get the soundtrack to a Barry Levinson movie of the same name. If you listen to the first track on that album (the shortest one called Avalon) you will hear a portion of what I think is one of Randy Newman's most beautiful piano pieces. It's less than a minute long but full of lovely dissonances and his amazing ability to make a piano sound like a full orchestra. I wish I could link it, upload it, make it a part of your life, but really it's so short that if you just listen to the sample on iTunes, you'll get the gist. Sadly I was listening to it for inspiration just now in my own iTunes library and the song that followed it was Rick Dees' "Disco Duck" so I sort of lost the mood. Also I have no idea what the movie was about or if it was any good- I'll probably look that up after this post.

Perhaps you are thinking Why Avalon? Why now?

Because I wish Avalon, New Jersey looked and felt the way that piece sounds. If I could go to a place that sounded like that, it would be amazing.

Remember that year we went to the North Carolina shore (emerald isle) for Thanksgiving? Now that place felt like Avalon sounds. I'll have to think about the soundtrack for my current locale. I can tell you that it's fast, the beats are close together and it's probably from the '80's. Or maybe the soundtrack should just BE Disco Duck.

It's all good. I'm not complaining. The rental is very clean and modern (I'm on line without wires) and there is plenty of seating and sleeping space when guests arrive. The air conditioning works, the ocean is 2 blocks (.5 mile) away. The tourist town built around this part of ocean is cute and quaint in a mini Cape May kind of way if that means anything to you. And really, if you were coming from NYC (which many tourists here do), it would feel downright spacious. And there is a giant Pirate putt putt course that we didn't get to go to last year after dinner.

If you were coming from NYC and bringing your dog, said dog might be thrilled to have stone/gravel laden front yards to sniff and consider. For the moment, our 'Lil Liza is wondering how those "city dogs" ever do their business. Given that she's not allowed on the beach and there's no grass to be found, she's probably going to go home thinking her life is a vacation and she has to endure the ride in the car and 2 weeks of gravel-pooping in order earn her lovely vacation home.

And for those long time readers who might be wondering if this annual vacation exchange happened:

Mr. S: which way do I turn? do I turn left here?
S: No, you turn right here.
Mr. S: I think I turn left. The other cars are going that way. I think that looks right.
S: maybe it does but if you want to go back the way we came and get home, you should turn right.
Mr. S (as he is U-turning after a left turn) I guess it was right.

It did. Only this time we had it without the usual accompanying exploding head syndrome. All without any alcohol or medication. There's magic in that 8th year of marriage.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

wow. that's it. Just wow.

A few weeks ago I posted my first forays into photoshop Many of you may recall that my initial results were less than stellar.

Jane posted an encouraging comment and when I visited her site I was blown away by her digital portraiture. Her most recent post is of Sammy (a now gone but once beloved pet.) She wrote that she was looking for other images to practice on and I gave her permission to play with any old picture of Liza or Annabelle that struck her fancy from the blog.

Today I received this in the email.

In the original the girl is looking out a window- here she is posing for a portrait. Jane's email also said

...I really appreciate your letting me have my way with your photos. I'm thinking of having a link for purchasing prints and greeting cards with some of the proceeds going to a charity like the Humane Society or Friends of Children. I haven't finalized the details yet, but I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you could mention to your friends/followers that I'm looking for cute canine/feline photos to use for this purpose, I'd appreciate it.

Her work is lovely- she made me love my dog even more (and I didn't think that was possible) and maybe someday my sweet baboo will help sell cards that will help her less fortunate dog friends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's just leftover yarn

but it makes me crazy. Because I KNOW that 1) if I made my socks from the toe up 2) if I bought a yarn scale and divided the sock skeins in two or 3) actually paid a tiny bit of attention to the yardage in a skein of sock yarn, I would not have so much left over.

Sometimes there's enough left over for a third sock (which some people recommend in case of emergency). I can't do that- it defies every inclination for symmetry and balance that I have. There is nothing balanced about a third sock.I think it's a sign of negative "just in case" thinking. And there's probably "not quite" enough for a third one anyway.

If I know it's a hearty yardage, I'll go for broke and make 8" from the top down and then finish the foot. If I'm not sure of the yardage I'll go 6-6.5" from the top down.

It doesn't matter. There's always yarn leftover. I can either throw my money away or make some mitered squares.

These are tiny- 32 stitches done on size 2 needles-2 colors-4 ends to weave in- If this little project doesn't inspire me to find something interesting to knit, nothing will because it's going to be a big load of tedious!

It and a sock will, however, fit all of my vacation knitting needs. Simple, easy to pick up and put down, a small bag of knitting as opposed to bringing my whole stash, and no end in sight. And there is a yarn store in Cape May if I get desperate.

And finally, want to go somewhere that you will feel funny, clever, interesting, and otherwise delightful? Just go to my knit night. I love it. And for blogless, vicarious Lisa SImpson (her real name)- passing along the fact that you think I'm funnier than the Yarn Harlot and should write a book- is a little tidbit I'm going to hang on to for quite some time- I don't care if you're delusional. In fact sometimes I wonder if knitnight Gina just made you up to make me feel great.

p.s. when I came home from knitnight last night, I noticed that Mr. Sophanne was wearing his felted clogs... SCORE!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

When all else fails,

knit socks. I don't know what I feel like doing next. Socks in summer always make me feel like a squirrel collecting nuts for the winter. The yarn on the left is from Stitchjones. The other two are Wildefoote (which I like to pretend is pronounced like "wildebeast" ) From whence shall inspiration come? I know not. But until then, sock it to me!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A PhD.

If ever I wanted to do a PhD in the history of elementary music education in America, I blew my chances and threw all of the sources in a dumpster this week.

MountainMama (mama of da brudders) got a new job at a great school. The teacher that retired from that job was not a minimalist. In fact I believe he threw little away. He had the textbooks that I remember using in elementary music and general music textbooks that went back as far as 1954.

He had cassettes, filmstrips, records and reel-to-reel recordings. For a few brief hours I thought for sure MountainMama would double her yearly budget when I went to sell film strips and projectors on ebay but come to find $10 was about all they were worth. If only he'd kept a reel-to-reel player.

The two dumpsters outside the school were both half full when we arrived on Wednesday. By the time we were finished on Friday afternoon, both were overflowing.

That is where I've been- that's what I've been doing. Next week is figure out what to take, what to cook, think about vacation week. If anyone has any favorite "we're renting a house and we might have to feed 11 people" favorite recipes, feel free to post/link them in the comments.

The coming week is the last of the free- no husband-no obligations- summer vacation days. How quickly this time flies.

I have been remiss in garden posts but things are really starting to look good. Since I didn't have any dumpster pictures, here are a few from the garden.

from the front gate




Tuesday, July 12, 2011


My Feet are Gnarlier than they used to be.

My Fingernails are stubs.

I am Overweight in a Noticeable and Uncomfortable way.

My Feet are unlikely to Ungnarl.

My Fingernails will never grow.

I will never weigh what I did 20 years ago.

All that being said,

I will ROCK these pink toenails,

I will ROCK these stubby fingernails,

And I will ENJOY the ocean in a bathing suit.

And I will call it Aging with Grace.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Felted Clogs

Felting clogs gives me the same feeling as when a jello mold works. I'll shave them after they dry.


Mr. Sophanne's daughter has a blog and a plan. For the last year and a half she and a compatriot have been trying something "new" for a month and blogging about it. It's been inspirational and I often find myself "playing along" in some small way. I believe that we have a garden now in no small part thanks to the inspiration from reading her blog and watching her go through the various months.

This month's "challenge" is to memorize a poem and recite it in public. She has been blogging about poetry, stage fright and other related thoughts. This morning when I went looking on my shelves for a little something to read I found a copy of "Ten Poems to Change Your Life" and was prompted to have a look.

The very first poem was like a gift to my good friend who is going through some not so good times. Her life is changing for the better but every now and then it doesn't feel that way. I am posting this poem in her honor today.

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice--

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"

each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do--

determined to save

the only life that you could save

Saturday, July 09, 2011

No daily blog post?

It's summer, I feel a mission to keep you entertained. And yet knitting a pair of men's size 13 clogs has been pretty time consuming. I told Mr. Sophanne that everyone in the knitting world said they "were the bomb" and maybe he'd want a pair. At first he declined but once I said "o.k. I won't make them for you..." he said, "well if they're the bomb..."

The bonus is that I have some gold cascade that I hate the most the most. I'm mixing it with some dark brown and getting rid of that crap color!

Also I figure that if I have to be disappointed about a felting failure, I'll have more support if he has a stake in it too. Two more soles to knit and attach and it will be felting time.

After reading the pattern for the third time I noticed that the last round before the cuff says k2, k2tog then knit to the end. Sadly on my own pair I read this as k2, k2tog AROUND THE CUFF. The footholes on mine are going to be notably undersized. If you somehow know this won't make a lot of difference and that I can stretch it out, I'd be much obliged for such knowledge. This confirms my inability to follow directions in spite of previous gloating to the contrary.

And finally- the best part of my day today happened at 10:30 a.m. when LizaJane decided I had slept in enough, jumped on the bed, licked my face awake and left and came running to me with my shoes. The second best part of the day was when after noticing a pinkish color in her poop I discovered the two earplugs that I couldn't find 2 nights ago. Lawd-a-mercy I love that dog.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


while the garden was growing, I knit a giant clog to be felted. I started it yesterday afternoon and finished it this afternoon. It is the fibertrends pattern gifted to me many moons ago by Yarnhog. It's taken about 4 years to get over previous felting traumas and try it again. it didn't hurt that there was a perfect amount (I'm hoping) of wool to make these in the goodneighborMarilyn bag. It's a lot easier to accept failure with yarn your not particularly attached to.

laptop shown below for scale

There was a time in early knit night adventures when a young girl would come in seeking weekly help "in the next step" when making these. That and warnings of difficulty kept me away from trying. That'll teach me. I'm pretty sure though that it was watching knitnightDebbie show a million people what to do next on them made me understand what I was doing better. Whether these actually felt the right way or not, this one looks like it's supposed to and the rest is up to chemistry.

I better get knitting before second-clog syndrome kicks in!


while the garden was growing, I knit a giant clog to be felted. I started it yesterday afternoon and finished it this afternoon. It is the fibertrends pattern gifted to me many moons ago by Yarnhog. It's taken about 4 years to get over previous felting traumas and try it again. it didn't hurt that there was a perfect amount (I'm hoping) of wool to make these in the goodneighborMarilyn bag. It's a lot easier to accept failure with yarn your not particularly attached to.

laptop shown below for scale

There was a time in early knit night adventures when a young girl would come in seeking weekly help "in the next step" when making these. That and warnings of difficulty kept me away from trying. That'll teach me. Whether these actually felt the right way or not, this one looks like it's supposed to and the rest is up to chemistry.

I better get knitting before second-clog syndrome kicks in!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

3 posts in one day?

I let it block flat for a while so that the stitches would speak out. Now it's on the glass head.

GoodneighborMarilyn called earlier today and said she had a bag of yarn for me. It was decent yarn that I won't discuss because I always think that's kind of boring. If you're into that sort of thing, I've updated my stash on Ravelry and you can see what I've got to play with.

I mention this because there is a boatload of this stuff pictured below and there was no label. The weight and skein size feels similar to alpaca that I've purchased so I'm going to guess there's at least 800 yards. I'm also going to guess that there is some acrylic/viscosey thin in it but I'm not sure if it's completely synthetic- there's a thin thread of something running through it, I'm guessing to give it stability. Anyone have any guesses? It smelled like moth balls if that's any clue. you wouldn't really need to put acrylic yarn in moth balls.

Maybe I can find someone who is allergic to wool and someone else who is allergic to alpaca and see if they react.

I thought I could wait
but I was mistaken

Once it's dry, I'll show it in action on the glass head.

Why there is always fur on my kitchen floor...

Can't you hear all the other kitties say "my turn, my turn!"

Doublemassa is finished and soaking for blocking. Soon there will be pictures.

Today I get to visit my yarn and patterns and decide what's next.

Also I ordered a 20"x30" print of my abstract art to hang in my classroom. It will remind me that it can always be summer in my mind and that it's o.k. to play.

Monday, July 04, 2011

abstract art

Just move along if this isn't your cup of tea...

This afternoon picture the first became picture the second in my continued exploration of PSE9

The exploration of effects enchants me.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

more of the same but more

So I was disentangling cucumber curlicues from tomato plants (note to self- when they say 18" apart, they really mean it) and watering and I found this-

Then I went to photoshop and figured out how to do this with yesterday's tomato picture.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Farewell Sweet Prince

If Aunt of Sophanne wants to wear him out she need only break out the hose. He's going to try to go home tomorrow- out of a life of servitude and back to the castle.

He was probably doing the "we have 2 tomatoes" happy dance.

Fat Quarters

It seems to me that while I make a list of "things to do" in the summer, it's just that a list. It's not the law. Photoshop was not on my list but one thing led to another and there it was. Fat quarters are now on my list.

This morning I went to a "knit night" at a sewing shop Sew Much Fun In McMurray, PA. The owner is a knitter and has decided to stock yarn as well. I'll tell the truth about that place- and I'm an expert in this- it's cluttered. I think there is probably a lot of really cool stuff there sewing wise (the yarn wasn't out yet) but it was really difficult to wrap my mind around it- likely because I'm less familiar with the "genre"- someone with more knowledge than I might be able to make sense of the surroundings a little better. I didn't know what to look at.

The visit DID tickle the sewing part of my brain and the ever elusive quilting part- I get the idea of assembling the top but how does that turn into a quilt- that's where I struggle. Oh yes, I have a rotary cutter and some of the plastic measury things you need for such a project, and a "how to" book for beginners. I'm just lacking some skills.

I refrained from indulging.

Then I remembered that the Burg of Wayne actually has a quilt shop (I know- go figure) so I stopped there on my way home. The smaller more focused local shop was a little more manageable to my visual filter and the owner was as nice as could be. She told me about classes that would be offered in the fall and helped me find a little project for some practice sewing to tide me over until I learn stuff. This place is LESS THAN A MILE FROM MY HOME! As long as she offers night classes, I'm good to go with a new hobby and a person to go to for help.

The project I bought there is a little quilters travel case that would also be perfect for dpns. She says "just follow the directions." I tried to refrain from chuckling. But if I get confused, she's right there and she'll want to help me because then I'll buy stuff from her!

I read some directions and was a little intimidated so while at the annoying "W" store I saw that they sold fat quarters. I decided to pick some up to use as practice. Similar colors means no fiddling with the bobbin. There's also the matter of clearing off the work space that I have allowed to become horribly cluttered.

The "real" quarters are on the left, the fake ones are on the right-

Dog of Aunt of Sophanne may try to go home tomorrow and as far as I'm concerned, I've already had a full day, but look out Tuesday (assuming decluttering will take 2 days) because maybe I will make something.

Just in case you come here for knitting,

First up is the "downstairs" sock. So named because I knit it when we are downstairs and I need a break from the complicated. The yarn is from Stitchjones'. oh how I love her stuff. I forget the name of the colorway.

The "upstairs" sock also known as the "knit in bed" sock is Wildefoot with some number as opposed to color- let's call it Sage. Both use my favorite feeling broken rib sock pattern- one row of k1p1 and then a row of k3p3

The downstairs project that I sometimes need a break from is the Doublemassa from Charlene Schurch's Hat's On. If you have someone to knit a hat for and are o.k. with simple color work I can not recommend this book enough. I believe that in 100 years, it will be the book you'll be looking for because it's not in print anymore and it's the best hat book ever. Well, actually maybe you won't be looking for it but someone will. If you need a reason to get it, consider it an investment. It's gold. (totally unsolicited endorsement)

If you're unfamiliar with the construction and don't feel like clicking the link, what you should know is that the all black and about 4 inches of the color work is actually lining and roll it up on itself part at the forehead. This means 4x's the warmth around the forehead and ears. I'm doing this one in (big surprise) Elsbeth Lavold silky wool on size 4 needles. I tried making it once before without putting stitch markers between the larger pattern rounds and that was an error. Things are going much more smoothly now.

Holy too many words blog post batman- if you made it this far AND read the words, you are a better person than I am- thanks!