Little furry velociraptors

Too heads-down busy with my deadline knitting to write much tonight, but I have to share this cat story before I forget.

This evening, I was sitting on my couch knitting.  I went and got a snack from the kitchen, just some cheese and crackers, and settled back into my spot.  As soon as I sat down, Mango materialized in front of me, staring intently at the cheese, clearly begging for some.  She edged closer and closer to the plate and I was watching her, because she is entirely untrustworthy when it comes to people food.

Just as she got within striking distance, I heard a rustling behind my head and turned to find Martini sitting right next to my head on the arm of the couch, equally intent on plate.  Realizing I was distracted, Mango lunged for the plate and very nearly succeeded in making off with my snack.  I yelled, which made them both skitter off to glare at me from under the table.  How dare I deny them delicious goat cheese?  Can’t I see that they are STARVING?

All I could think about was the scene in Jurassic Park where Sam Neill’s character describes how the velociraptors hunted in packs, and how I can’t believe I was nearly just outsmarted by a pair of cats.

 

 

Nearly a pajama day

After yesterday’s travels, all I wanted to do today was hunker don at home, chill out and work on my deadline knitting project.  I did end up going out this evening, but just for a quiet get together with a friend and her daughter.

Unsurprising to anyone who knows me, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Black Friday nonsense out there in the world.  I could sit here and tell you who this is some principled moral stand protesting our consumerism society, but if it is, it’s the easiest stand I’ll ever make.  Somehow, the concept of a boycott seems to imply a sacrifice, that you are refusing to do something that you would normally participate in and enjoy – and there is nothing about overcrowded malls or waiting out in the cold to buy a discounted TV that sounds like anything I would ever enjoy.  So, while I do object on principle to stores opening at 4 AM or midnight or even on Thanksgiving itself (Buzzfeed had the best explanation of why you should skip Black Friday I’ve seen on their site today), I’d not be out there even if I thought it was the best idea ever.

But, I’ve seen a lot of things in the past few weeks that have made me re-think how I’ll be doing my Christmas shopping this year.  The past few years, I’ve gotten lazy and done most of my shopping on Amazon; they make it so easy, it’s hard to resist.  This year, I want to spend more of my dollars in and around my own community, but not at the mall (god, I hate the mall, even when it’s deserted).  I’m going to start tomorrow at my LYS and favorite bookstore, and plan to do the rest of my shopping that way too.   It’ll be less convenient than having everything magically appear at my office door with the UPS man, but hopefully worth it, keeping the businesses I love going strong.  Now, if only my actual town where I live could get some businesses I want to support.

Happy Thanksgiving

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My dad, carving our turkey

 

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!

Hope you had a day as full of love and laughter as I did.

Thanksgiving Eve

It’s the night before Thanksgiving, and we’re getting ready for our travels tomorrow.

Like always, we’ll be up at dawn, to get through the gauntlet known as the Mass Pike before the traffic gets impossible and to arrive at my parent’s house early enough that Wiley and Hannah can go watch the road race through town (this will be its 76th year!).  While they’re off doing that, Mom and I will finish up any work that needs doing in the kitchen.

Like always, there will be turkey and meat stuffing and mashed potatoes and turnips (*shudder*) and both kinds of cranberry sauce, and if we’re really lucky, my Uncle Ronn will have bought homemade bread.

Like always, my family will be loud and opinionated (although we all know better than to bring up the election), and we will laugh more than we argue.  My Uncle Dave will be irreverent, my mother will be grumpy, my brother will be sarcastic and my cousin will be brash, in all the best ways of the word.  My dad will preside over all of it, satisfied that this, the coming together of his family, is exactly what it is all about.

And it will be exactly perfectly right.  I can’t wait.

 

Ten on Tuesday: The thankfulness edition

Ten things for which I am thankful this year:

1. My family. They are wacky and insane and sometime make me nuts (especially the mister and the kidlet), but they are never boring AND they continue to put up with me.

2. My friends. I am blessed with both a group of very close friends that I love and a wider circle of people I love to spend time with.

3. My friend Roy continues to hang on in the hospital. We will start to get a better idea this week what his long term prognosis looks like, and his doctors are still cautiously optimistic.

4. Freedom from want. We may not have everything we could possibly want, but we damn sure have everything we need, and a whole lot of the things we want. There’s far, far too many people out there who can’t say that.

5. My cats. Even when they make me want to stake them out in the yard to be coyote canapés.

6. Co-workers with a sense of humor, especially the ones who appreciate my sarcastic gallows humor self at my best (worst?).

7. Curiosity. I hope I never tire of wanting to learn and figure stuff out, and that I am lucky enough to remain surrounded by other people who are continually seeking.

8. Books. My house, it could collapse from the weight of all the books we have crammed on every horizontal surface. I love the feeling of diving into a new book.

9. Knitting. It is slow and useful and keeps my hamster brain occupied. It has brought wonderful people into my life and gives me a way to create beauty every day.

10. Cooking. Just like knitting, it is a hobby that lets me be creative and fill a essential need. It makes me happy and is its own reward.

What are you thankful for this year?

Birthdays and Startitis

Today is my mister’s 40th birthday. We celebrated with a little seafood dinner and then a trip to the Apple store where he got to indulge his little gadget loving heart with a new toy, which he is happily setting up right now. He’s very cute when he has new toys, and I am very happy I got to buy him one.

Me? I am battling a wicked, wicked case of startitis. My deadline project is looming large, and I realized today that my deadline is WAY closer than I think it is, which means I really should be working on it.

And after that, I have two sweaters to finish, two hats to repair, two more hats promised to other short people in my life, a sweater promised to Ms Hannah and christmas presents to finish start.

But (isn’t there always a but?), yesterday I took a wicked fun color theory class with Ann Weaver. As our project to explore our experimentation with color, we started on an Albers Cowl. I had, until yesterday, mostly avoided the pull of log cabin square projects, but this thing has completely sucked me in. It’s so charming and cunning and I am having SO MUCH FUN plotting out my colors, and now it is the only thing I want to work on.

This is going to be bad news.

My first center square, in Dragonfly Fibers Djinn Sock in “Blood Orange”. The white for the next stripe is Jill Draper Makes Stuff Splendor Sock in “Vanilla Bean” and it is simply LUSCIOUS.

Tonight’s entertainment

It might be that we are kind of terrible pet owners.  We like to tease our cats, perhaps, sometimes, more than we should.  They seem to still love us, although sometimes I wonder if we just have some feline Stockholm syndrome going on.

Tonight’s entertainment though, has been spectacularly funny.  Wiley put down the cat food container, with the lid open, on the floor next to the (very) empty cat dish.  If any of them knocked over the container, there would be food everywhere for them to eat.  None of them have been smart enough to figure it out.

In turn, each cat has walked up to the container, tried to stuff their faces into the hole at the top, glared at the empty food dishes, glared at me, meowed a bit and then sat around for a few minutes hoping the food would magically pour itself into the bowl.  They’ve all stalked off of their corners of the house now, although regular patrols wander by to see if the situation has improved.  Each patrol repeats their behavior (sniff, glare, glare, stalk off).

Now, they’re all back in here staring balefully at me and at the food container.  I’d long thought we had at least one problem solver in our herd, but it appears not.  I wonder how long this container will stay upright in here.

Oh, and if we’re ever found dead in our beds with strange puncture wounds, the only mystery will be which cat did it.

Enemy Number One

My lovely Mystery Shawl

Isn’t that a lovely shawl?  I knit it back in 2007, the first mystery knit along I ever joined.  I blocked it on the floor of a hotel room so that I could wear it for my dear Shani’s wedding.  Last night, I realized it was ruined.

I went into my dresser to put a scarf away and noticed that there was a wee bit of brown crud on the shawl.  My heart sank, because around here, that generally means one thing.  Carpet beetles, the scourge of my knitterly existence.  As hungry as moths and, it would seem, much harder to get rid of, I have been battling these things since we moved into this house.  Despite their name, the fact that there is not a lick of carpet to be had in the place means nothing, which hardly seems fair.  Their tastes for expensive wool over crappy just adds insult to the injury.

But this one hurt a lot.  They couldn’t eat the old and pilled clapotis that was right next to this one, or the store bought wool wrap that, while lovely, is store bought and just not that special. No, they eat the shawl I love that.  When I first saw the hole, I thought it could be saved.  I pulled a thread through the loose loops and tried to work out how I might repair it.  Then I realized there were holes all over the piece, and I knew it was hopeless.

So much carnage, so much sadness.  Someday I’ll figure out how to get rid of these damn things.

 

 

Photo class, the long version

Finally, enough time to actually talk about my photo class.   I’ve already talked about how much I enjoyed it, but I am hoping that you are interesting in hearing the details.

We started with looking at a slide show of Gales work – both photos that worked, and also ones that hadn’t.  As we went through the slideshow, she talked about the good and bad points of the shots, why this one worked but that one didn’t, the challenges in getting the shots, the choices she had made in setting them up.  I loved this, for a couple of reasons – first it was gratifying to realize that even the teacher, who get paid real American dollars for her photography skills takes bad pictures and makes bad calls about what will work in a picture and what won’t.  If she does it, maybe I don’t have to beat myself up quite so much when I do it – and it doesn’t mean she can’t get amazing and awesome pictures, and so can I.  Second, it was priming the pump for my creative brain to engage, looking at her collection of creative work and thinking critically about color and composition and framing.

After that, we started putting ourselves and our cameras through some hands-on exercises.  Nearly everyone had brought samples of their handiwork to use in our exercises – I brought shawls that I have knit, one woman was a weaver who had brought a bunch of her amazing work, another made these fantastic felted dolls, and a fourth had gorgeous colorwork hats.  We used these for our photos.  Our first exercise was a simple color exercise, trying a sample piece on a number of different backgrounds, to see how the different colors would work together.  After we had played with that for a bit, we moved on to having our volunteer model wear different sample pieces and we worked together as a class brainstorming where and how she should stand, what she should do and snapping picture after picture.  Gale offered advice and suggestions, showed us different tricks for lighting and reflecting light exactly where we wanted it, and then pulled out fabric for backgrounds so we could see the effects we could create with those.

We broke for lunch and downloaded our pictures onto her machine so we could review them after the lunch break.  Before we reviewed the photos, we did a quick photo processing tutorial, where we learned how to do some basic image editing.  A lot of that was review for me, but I definitely learned some new tricks as well as finding a cool online processing app, for those times you don’t need full-blown Photoshop.  The photo review was instructive, with everyone offering compliments and criticism of each others work, and it was interesting to see how a group of people all taking the  “same” pictures ended up with very different pictures, depending on where they were standing, exactly, or the moment that they chose to snap.

We had daylight left after the review of the mornings work, so we headed back outside for more practice, with different garments.  They were different colors, different fabrics, different types of knitwear and we talked while we worked about what we would need to do differently to capture and show off what made each piece special.

I got a lot out of the class, and the hand-on time with guidance was definitely something that I’d not gotten a lot of of from the other classes I’ve taken.  The biggest piece was edging a little further past my biggest block in learning to take good photos – that I need to step up and control my shot, as much as I can.  Working with a model, I need to get comfortable telling them what I need, even if it looks goofy outside the frame of the photo and changing things if something isn’t working.  Working with still life components, I need to get over feeling like it’s excessively twee and precious to create the shot I want.

I carry around this idea in my head that all those gorgeous pictures I see just “happened” – that the photographer was somehow magically in the right spot at the right time, or just always lays out their food just so, or magically sees a perfectly framed shot that I don’t see.  The more I practice, the more classes I take, the more I realize how foolish that mindset is, but I’m still struggling with getting over myself and creating the scenes that I need to create to get the photos I’ll be happy to show off.

I think if the weather is good this weekend, I’m going to make Miss. H be my model and take lots more pictures.

Best laid plans and all that

I was going to write all about my class last Saturday this evening, but then work ate my entire evening, and maybe my face.

Instead, I’ll promise to write that tomorrow, and will instead give you a link to one of my favorite comics strips – yesterday’s Two Lumps was particularly apt to the moment.  I was going to grab the comic, then realized that, duh, they probably wouldn’t like it if I swiped their stuff.

 

While I’m at it, I’ll share a link to clips from last Sunday’s NFL Kickoff on ESPN.  If you know me, you’re wondering why the hell I would even KNOW about NFL Kickoff on ESPN – you’ll see.