Saturday, April 19, 2014

What's that thing you do with two sticks and a string?

Knitting... that's right... I used to do a lot of it... and I'm getting back into the habit...

I finished my daughter in law's sister's Birthday Socks (easier just to say Chessa's Socks). She got to choose the yarn from my unending stash.

Just for the fun of it, I made a contrast facing with a picot edge. Easy Peasy: CO an even number of sts- whatever your pattern calls for- in the contrast, K 12 rnds. Next Rnd: *YO, K 2 tog*, rep around, Next Rnd: K. Change colors and knit sock as per usual. Tack the facing down and in loosely (so it stretches).

I bought this yarn at the '09 Sock Summit. I love how the socks came out.

And I finished the Caribbean Bobble hat that I started on the cruise. It's knit from one skein of Malabrigo Rios, on size 8 needles. I'll post the pattern whenever I get around to writing it up.

It fits! (not always a sure thing when I wing it)

I do love the colors. This colorway is called Aguas, chosen for the obvious reason.

And, for some reason, I was moved to cast on a worsted weight sock, using leftover yarns.

I had the ribbing done the evening before, but I finished the rest of the first sock last night. One of the wonderful things about worsted weight socks is that they knit up very quickly.

I divided out all of the yarns evenly, so I should be able to knit a matching mate. Specs: Size 5 needles, 48 sts, 15 rnds ribbing, 6" cuff (total), short row heel on 24 sts, 6" foot (for size 8 1/2), Star Toe (starting with *K6, K 2 tog* rep, and decreasing the number of sts between decreases by one every other row until 12 remain).

I'm remembering how much I love knitting!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Malabrigo Cruise- Last Ft. Lauderdale day, and then home

After we left the beach and the beautiful Atlantic, my classmate Colleen (DeeAnn was a grade younger, so she and Colleen didn't meet until this trip) asked if we'd ever seen The Everglades. As a matter of fact, we  hadn't. So Colleen drove us an hour over to Sawgrass Recreation Park.

We were greeted by this fine fellow. I'm pretty sure that peacocks aren't what most folks think of when they think of The Everglades, but I bought a fridge magnet featuring him in the gift shop anyway.

Back when we were planning the cruise, DeeAnn and I contemplated an air boat ride, but we realized that the trip to the park would be far more expensive than the boat trip. We never expected to make it to the park, but once we got there (courtesy of Colleen), we kinda decided we were too tired, and maybe too chicken to do it anyway. But the boats were cool.

 Sawgrass Recreation Park isn't in the jungle part of The Everglades. The land is flat and the horizon is endless (sort of like Eastern South Dakota). Except that what looks like land is actually swamp. And what looks like prairie is actually home to alligators and all manner of bitey snakes.

But should you ever get to this place, the air boat rides are really quite reasonable.

A hug-discouraging tree...

DeeAnn and I both squealed when we spotted the Spanish Moss hanging from this tree. I'd never seen it in person, and though Dee lives in North Carolina, she'd never seen it on a tree either.

I'm pretty sure Colleen had second thoughts about being seen with us after all that moss excitement. Dee took a handful home in her suitcase.

The power lines are shaped differently in Florida.

Colleen did not encourage us to get out of the car and wander around, looking for photo ops, given that this stretch of highway is called Alligator Alley.

It was such fun to see Colleen, and it was so kind of her to shepherd us around her world for an afternoon. We said good-bye reluctantly and then just settled in for an early night. My flight was early, and it was recommended that I get to the airport at least 90 minutes before flight time, which meant I was up and ready to go at 3:00am.

The less said about the fact that the airline folks didn't open the lines until 4:30am, or that a wonky scale prompted the agent to make me unzip my suitcase and redistribute dirty clothes into a duffle bag (in front of a line of other impatient folks) when I was absolutely certain that my case wasn't overweight (and surely enough, it wasn't- the pair of bags only weighed 45lbs, under the weight allowed for a single suitcase...), the better. By the time I got through security, even with precheck status, my flight was nearly ready to board. And by the time I got to Atlanta, I had just enough time to get to my gate and board a flight so bumpy that no beverage service was offered. So by the time I got to Minneapolis, I'd been up for 10 hours already, with no food. But, the less said...

I had enough time in Minneapolis for a leisurely lunch and a beer (at 10am, with no guilt whatsoever). I spent the rest of my airport time reading The Martian, a book I recommend highly.

The flight from Minneapolis to Aberdeen was smooth and short (it's usually around 42 minutes).

And the land at home, while still brown, was at least not white.

And when I got home, after a very long day, I found that The Hub had surprised me. It'll be at least a month before we can swim, but a girl can dream.

So, wonderful trip, wonderful homecoming. Next weekend, I am teaching in Rapid City at the Black Hills Fiber Festival, and after that, I'm home until mid-August! Woot!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Live Blogged AI Season 13 Top 7 Elimination 04-17-14

So live blogging again. This could become a habit.

Parks and Recreation ran over, so I missed the beginning of last night's recap, which was barely worth watching the first time. I should have stayed with Leslie Knope to the very end.

Oh! Kevin Bacon! Did I ever tell you all that I'm just two degrees from Kevin Bacon? (that is if KB himself counts as one, otherwise, I'm just one degree away).

Ryan is wearing his navy blue suit tonight, with a white shirt and black tie. Or maybe, like Prince William, he has a closet full of them. JLo is wearing a very very mini dress that looks like it's made of some heavy Chanel-adjacent fabric, and thigh-high boots. JLo looks very 60's tonight, with her hair in a sort of swoopy updo. Keith is wearing a black tee shirt with a red cross- in honor of Easter? Harry is in a suit too.

Last night's post-show involved toasting with water glasses. Sam mentions Alex's pee dance, and Harry seemed ill. I am surprised that Jena likes Demi Lovato... she seems better than that (Jena, I mean).

The kids are lined up on stage and Ryan wears a fedora. It looks dumb on him too. The Fordmercial is about the revamped mustang and what the kids would do if they had one. My guess is that at least two of them will get to find out on the finale.

Alex in a pale blue striped summer shirt, Dexter in a backwards cap and tan jacket, and Jena in a long sleeved chambray shirt and some gold chains, are called down first. First saved is Jena, who is very happy. And Alex is safe. I would have thought that all three were safe, but nope. Dexter is in the bottom two.

Is this Dexter's first time in the bottom?

CJ in Grandpa's ratty old brown tweed sweater and fedora, Sam in a blue on blue raglan tee, Jessica with her hair pulled back and a short-sleeved black leather jacket and red pants, and Caleb in a black velvet jacket are called down next. Caleb is safe first. CJ is also safe, to everyone's surprise. And finally, Sam is safe. Sam is surprised, Jessica is not. Jessica is not pretending to smile.

And the one going home is.... Dexter! Whoa. I'm not sorry because I think he peaked long ago. But I am surprised. I fully expected Jessica to hit the road. Well, next week, probably.

I don't dislike Dexter, I just don't care for the music he likes. I hope he finds success. And I hope his sad mama feels better soon too.

Man, I like half-hour shows.

Malabrigo Cruise- Last days in Ft. Lauderdale

I couldn't get a flight out the day after we docked in Ft. Lauderdale, so we ended up staying an entire extra day. We didn't do anything but collapse once we finally got into our room on Sunday (folks were returning from cruises and leaving for cruises all at the same time- the lobby and shuttles were chaotic, and when this motel said that check-in was at 3pm, they weren't kidding. We had several really exhausting hours to kill). We walked across the street for supper at Chipotle and then conked out early.

A street sign I'm not apt to see any time soon...

Our first motel was far nicer, but this one had a good pool.

Neither DeeAnn nor I intended to drive anywhere in Florida, so mostly we expected just to sit around for our last pitiful day in sunny Florida. But my old classmate Colleen came to our rescue. I've known Colleen since the 6th grade, but we hadn't seen each other in person for decades. She lived nearby, so on Monday she drove over and took us to the most marvelous little canal marina restaurant for lunch.

The Bahia Cabana is attached to a motel/resort/canal. The entrance was entrancing.

 We got a waterside table, and commenced to watching the many many boats.

Lovely Colleen, our hostess and guide!

If we had had longer in Ft. Lauderdale, we might have been tempted to ride on this one.

The food was wonderful, and the atmosphere fantastic.

More boats (I'm pretty sure I'm okay in calling these boats rather than ships).

  Rubber biscuit?
Oh, those sculpted black pants? In the sunshine? They're hot. Almost blistering hot.

I never knew that such a thing as revolving plastic toilet seat covers existed.

After lunch, Colleen drove us to a fairly secluded beach. I have no idea who the owner of the bent-over backside is. I'm sure she's happy not to be named.

The ocean sound was amazing. This was my first time putting my toes into the Atlantic, and I loved it. The sand on this beach was grainier than on the Caribbean beaches, for whatever that's worth.

It was windy.

DeeAnn always looks great in the water.

One last view of the beautiful Atlantic.

And one last afternoon of adventure in Florida.

Thursday Tab- The last of this batch of magazine dolls

That was a nice big folder of amazing scans. Next week, back to books and sets.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Live Blogged AI Season 13- Top 7 Performance, 04-16-14

So, here we are, live-blogging again. Last week it was a stop-gap thing, but I actually enjoyed the instant... well, gratification isn't the right word, but I definitely liked not spending two hours after a two hour show trying to translate my handwritten notes. I'm willing to give it another shot...

We open with teary Malaya saying goodbye, and a reminder that only one will win. Ryan is once again dressed all in black, with an open collar and no tie. He calls the kids out. Lordy, Jena may be wearing bedazzled cutoffs. I just now realized that there are only two girls left.

JLo is wearing bright gold tonight... possibly a leather dress. Her hair is long and straight and yet it still manages to look like bed-head. I hope Harry is a little more calm tonight- last week he was outta control.

The Theme? Randy Jackson saying wassup about 12 times in a row. CJ cannot roll his eyes far enough. Anyway, the kids are picking songs for each other. This may be interesting. Maybe. Everyone chose a song for everyone, and each kid gets to chose their song from the list. Hmmm

Caleb loves tennis, snores loudly, and is afraid of spiders. He loves horror movies and thought about being a director at one time. Alex chose Family Tree by Kings of Leon for Caleb, who is wearing a red tee shirt and a black jacket. I am totally unfamiliar with this song- I don't know if it's originally a yelling rock song, or if Caleb is calebing it up out there. Either way, the audience is into it, and so are the judges. Well, JLo and Keith are. It's always hard to tell with HCJ.

Keith loved it, and thought it was a great choice. JLo agrees. HCJ enthuses.

Jessica has 8 tattoos and designed 7 of them, loves wolves, was rejected by an unnamed music school, an evil pony chased her, and she believes in aliens and may have been abducted. She's wearing a blue sleeveless shirt and black leather flare-leg pants and she has a couple of blue streaks in her hair tonight. Sam chose a Miranda Lambert song for her, Gunpowder and Lead. Jessica begins in a spotlight, without her guitar. She's fierce tonight and showing some emotion, which is good. The less time with the dead-eye, the better. Ooh, steam jets and wind machine. I think she's doing a good job with this.

JLo- loves Jessica's voice but thought she was *off* a bit, HCJ agrees with JLo and suggests Jessica listen to heavily rhythmic music and practice moving to it in front of a mirror, Keith also loves Jessica's voice but thinks there was a dissipation of energy. I will say that Jessica is able to listen to criticism without looking hurt.

Ryan brings Demi Lovato out. Why is Ryan bringing Demi Lovato out? Why does Demi Lovato have a half-shaved head? Why are we listening to a plug about her tour during the performance show? Why do we have to see Randy's saggy butt? So many questions.

Alex and Sam are doing a duet again, which is okay with me. I like their voices together. Passenger's Let Her Go. They sit on an actual couch and play in what looks like a basement sitting room set. This is a pleasant song, and they look like they're having a lot of fun. Alex's pants have cuffs but they're not rolled egregiously high. I enjoyed it.

HCJ liked the couch. He thought the performance was sweet, but he didn't mean it as a compliment. Keith thought it was chintzy. Demi thought there was good energy (Why do we care what she thinks? What does JLo think about not having time for her critique?)

Now Terry Bradshaw is haranguing the judges. He liked the duet with that Ricky Nelson kid and then mangled CJ's intro. Why is Terry Bradshaw there?

CJ loves Sponge Bob, loves grilling, loves taking pictures, would like to be a standup comedian, and is a neat freak. Caleb chose Gravity by John Mayer. CJ is wearing a green shirt over a white tee. Maybe the smoky stage will distract everyone from CJ's consistent off-tune-ness. This bluesy song is perfect for CJ, and if he's terribly off-key, I can't hear it tonight. There really is *something* about this voice that connects with the audience.

Keith waves at CJ's adorable little boy. Keith liked the performance. JLo likes CJ's growing confidence, and thinks he needs to look for more *moments* in his performances. HCJ thinks CJ has a gift for connecting, and thinks this was his best performance to date.

Martin Garrix... who the hell is Martin Garrix? And Rhonda Rousey, who is evidently a boxer. So much filler... so damn much filler.

Dexter loves adrenalin, wants to sky dive, loves strawberries, and listening to crickets, and his first plane ride was hairy. Dexter is wearing a frontward ball cap (!) and a gray short sleeved tee shirt. CJ chose Muckalee Creek Water, by Luke Bryan. The song is slower than Dexter's usual,  but it's all of a piece: a shouty country anthem. Smokey bar music. Somewhere, a bar will happy to hire Dex to play on Saturday nights, two drink minimum.

Keith talks about the band on stage, and struggles for other things to say. JLo liked it for him, she enjoyed the darker edge, but thinks it wasn't spectacular. HCJ wonders who did the arrangement, and then says everything but the *K* word.

Jena and Caleb are also dueting again, this time on something from The Stones. Jena really is wearing bedazzled white shorts. Or is it a skirt? Or is it maybe a sparkly diaper? Caleb swears, possibly more than any other AI Contestant ever. They're singing Gimme Shelter. Oh, Caleb is wearing a black shirt with embroidered skulls and roses. I am not a Rolling Stones worshipper so this isn't tripping my trigger, but they're doing fine. Caleb and Jena are both insanely talented.

JLo says that was A Moment (that's A Good Thing). HCJ thought it was really cool. Keith thinks they were just a bit stiff. Demi thinks they killed it. Sigh.

Alex likes gardening, likes cooking, enjoys freestyle skiing, would be a dermatologist if music bottoms out, and was a linebacker in high school football. He's wearing a blue shirt and a white jacket with an all-over pattern of fireworks or blue palm trees on it. Or maybe they're spiders. Dexter chose The A Team by Ed Sheeran. Alex is getting a sort of 3-D back stage projection of columns and archways. This is a peppier song than he usually sings. I'm on record as liking Alex a lot (if I have a favorite this year, it's him), and I think he's doing just fine with it. And, as usual, he's doing the pee dance.

JLo waits for the audience to stop cheering, which they do not do any time soon. She thinks it was a perfect song for him. HCJ agrees, and he loves Alex's quiet performances. Keith loves how Alex makes every song his own.

Sam is adventurous, is not athletic, wrote a song at the piano even though he can't play, he plays pranks on his grandparents, and skateboards. He's wearing a gray shirt with a small print, and a red knit cap. Jessica chose Sail Away by David Gray. I like the lighthouse and ocean back projection. I have no quibble with Sam's voice, but I think he's just too young and inexperienced to connect with most songs. He might have been studying his Ricky Nelson though- he's looking down and then up through his eyelashes in a fairly flirty manner. He sounded good on this song.

HCJ says Sam is a work in progress and he's making progress, but didn't think this song was well known enough for the audience. Keith also likes the progress. JLo connected more looking at the monitor than watching him with her own eyes.

Jessica, Dexter and CJ will sing a trio (I wondered how they were going to divide this out). All three are from Alabama, which they hammer home. And we're reminded about the Crazy Mother who predicted Jessica would be out early on. Ha ha Crazy Mother! Lady Antebellum's Compass is up. Jessica is wearing a blue, white and black leather dress. CJ and Dex are in tan jackets. These three sound okay together, and I honestly think Jessica performs better when she's not alone on stage.

HCJ didn't like it at all. He thought they were all off-key throughout. Keith said the same thing, comparing them to a shish kabob. Demi liked Jessica's voice, but she agrees with HCJ. Once again, why is she here?

Terry Bradshaw plays the guitar? So many inexplicable things this week.

Jena wrote her first song in the 6th grade, she peed her pants onstage once, would like to be a makeup artist, she dances ballet, and she wants a skull tattoo when she turns 18. Caleb chose Creep by Radiohead. Jena starts at the piano, wearing something other than rhinestone studded Pampers. She's still sparkly though with sequined shoulder adornments. I like Jena's hair straight, with the bangs- it looks good on her. This girl has a HUGE voice, and sometimes the big notes go wonky, but when she dials it back, she's amazing.

JLo and Keith give her Standing O's. Keith loved it, loved it, loved it, loved it. JLo: Jena can sing anything.

And now, when the judges have something to say, they're running out of time... maybe they could have cut Demi Lovato... Or Randy Jackson... or Terry Bradshaw... HCJ thought it was the best performance of the night.

So, best tonight? CJ, Alex, Jena

Worst? Randy Jackson and Demi Lovato