Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sekhmet, you fucker.

I hear this horrible crashing and bashing from the Goober's room...

Only the Goober is in the living room with me. So I go to investigate, and what do I find?

Actually, when I first walked in the room, it was the cat's butt sticking out, not her face. That window sill is at least five feet off the ground; the cat is using the new bed as a launch pad. Remember? From this photo?

You can see the flower and the edge of the window above the Goober's head, and get an idea of placement. This cat's jumping is more accurate than a rocket launch.

Now I will be able to share the joy of SekhmetYouFucker with the neighbors. She's gonna sit there and meow at them all day. There's a major sidewalk/pathway right on the other side of the window, that kids walk every day after school.

Good thing the landlord knows she's here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Update on the big girl bed.

The Goober is currently sleeping peacefully in her new, big bed.



For those of you asking where I got the watch parts, eBay. Do a search for "Steampunk watch parts" and go with the cheapest of what turns up. I'd tell you who the vendor was, but I can't remember and the packaging isn't labeled - just watch parts in an envelope.

The day in photos.

If possible, I feel worse than yesterday (yay), so we're stuck with a lame photo montage of almost nothing fiber related.

I played Civ IV and drank a shitload of tea. (Mostly decaf. The last day I drank all caffeine tea I made myself sick.)

Off to the right are my glasses, watch parts, and an inhaler. I'd say that neatly summarizes my life at the moment, all in one small photo.

I played magnetic dressup dolls with the Goob.

I'd gotten her some refrigerator magnets of Hello Kitty and some clothes, where you stuck clothes and hats on Hello Kitty and the Goober thought it was TOTALLY cool, so I got her this set of dolls and magnetic clothes from Melissa and Doug. It's been eight hours she's been playing with them, straight, so I'm calling it a win. Of course she's already lost one of the shoes. I'm trying not to think about it.

I spun about two yards of wool.

Maybe. At most. I treadled for about five minutes and started wheezing.

I made some chicken stock.

No idea what in hell I intend to do with it, but I roasted a chicken a couple days ago and my grandmothers would both come back to haunt me if I just THREW AWAY the carcass.

And I admired the watch parts that came in the mail, plotting just what to do with them.

There's another bag the same size/weight. I'm thinking I need to save a few and make earrings.

Now I'm gonna go strain chicken stock, rub my sorry torso with Vicks VapoRub, and pass out.

Thanks to everyone for bearing with me while I turn the blog into a piss-and-moan about how shitty I feel. (Boy, do I feel shitty.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Big girl, in the house.

The big girl bed was delivered today.

Between us, the husbeast and I had gotten the bedding (I really wish I'd been there to see him buy a pink and lavender comforter, covered in hearts, flowers, and butterflies). She's in there now, asleep. I keep remembering when we switched her from her crib to her mini bed, and how I didn't get a full night's sleep for two months, and I hope this goes more smoothly.

We didn't get anything more than a bed frame, because we hope to get her a bedroom suite once we buy a house and we have some idea how big her new bed room will be, and other useful stuff. Plus we don't want to move any more than we have to. Plus, if we stall another year or so, we can get her a loft bed with a desk underneath to give her some space in her room.


In other Goob News, well, she's being raised by smartasses. Which means she's got a lovely repertoire of go-to phrases, when she wants to get sarcastic, herself. Today, that got her sent to her room. She was highly irritated by it, and at one point shouted "CURSE YOU, MOM AND DAD!"

Then she got REALLY enraged when she heard us laughing our heads off.


I did some spinning the other day, and hope to finish up the orange-to-pink color blending experiment by this weekend, so I can start on the steampunk yarn once the watch parts get here. I'm also putting together a swap package for a friend in the UK. So things are gradually improving. I think I may be able to breathe soon. That would be nice.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Productivity: Nil.

Usually, when I'm sick or in pain, I'm pretty good about spinning or knitting through it. My shrink used to go on and on and ON about 'distraction' and generally not sitting around thinking "wow, I feel like shit". And I was on board with that. Hell, I still agree with it. In principle. But it's kind of hard when I feel so shitty I can't concentrate. So lately I've been staring at the walls, with occasional breaks to Tweet rude things, and cook dinner.

Here's my latest. A friend of mine asked me to spin her some 'steampunk yarn' with gears and springs and shiny stuff, spun with some violet and 'red wine colored' wool. I got this far:

A 7oz batt from CopperPot at Etsy. (Great vendor. I've ordered from her twice now. She ships lightning fast and it's always nicer in person than it looks in the photo. Can't beat it. Even though she included the weight and other info on the web site, when it got here, it was about twice as much fiber as I was expecting.) It's mostly wool, with glitter and bamboo and stuff mixed in. It's darker than it looks in that photo, and soft as a baby's butt. I'm waiting for a handful of watch parts to get here from eBay, and I'll string them on some black crochet cotton and ply it all up. It'll look really cool, if I ever get to it.

So far I've gotten as far as winding some yarn off a bobbin, today. Whee.

Then there's that whole sweater for the Olympics thing. Trying not to think about it.


Since there's nothing to report, how about some Goob photos?

The other day, the Goob wanted to wear her Pwincess Dwess. The husbeast put it on her, right over her pajamas. She fell asleep face-down in her beanbag chair, wearing it. Teehee.

Here she's playing with Sekhmet.

And here she's brushing her dadad's hair.

The husbeast and I are watching motocross at the moment. I'm wishing for a new motorcycle, much the way I imagine a former smoker wishes for a cigarette. (Except the damage is done to my joints, not my lungs.) Maybe I should try to sleep, so I could, you know, do something tomorrow. Like, spinning. Or whatever.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blathering, and Egyptology.

I can't believe it's been almost two weeks since I made some sort of real blog post, but then four days of that was spent with a 102F fever (uh... 39C?) so I guess I wasn't too coherent. At any rate, I'm starting to feel almost normal and the husbeast is making noise about me getting the hell out of the apartment, so I guess things are returning to what passes as normal around here.


So far I haven't even touched my Olympics project, which was to finish a stranded color sweater I've been working on since 2005. (2004? Geez. Way too long, anyway.) I'm trying to decide if I'll even give it a try at this point. Either way, the thing needs done, so I guess I'll poke at it this weekend and see how bad it is. It needs a lot of really elaborate finishing and some alterations, so it could take a while.


This weekend, we're buying the Goober her first very own grown-up bed. She's been in a 'youth bed', a small bed that's close to the ground and easy for her to get in and out of. It's worked great, but she's completely outgrown it now. She's an amazon. It's time for a real bed. Even though we wanted to wait until we were in a house and had some idea what her room would be laid out like.

Oh well. Either way, my little girl is growing up.


Sekhmet, that fucker, really enjoyed me being sick. I couldn't figure out quite why she was so intent about laying on me constantly. Then I realized - while I ran that fever, I was like a giant heating pad for the cat. So at least someone in the house was happy.


Everyone was asking what I thought about the new National Geographic news. (For those of you who aren't all up on the archeology geekiness, they released the results of the first major DNA study done on Egyptian mummies. Article here.) And, well, to quote, my first response to the entire thing was "Holy fucking fuck, they found Akhenaten." You see, the DNA study was done with mummies from the only era of Egyptian history I find super interesting, the Amarna Period/18th Dynasty. (My own thoughts on it, from back in 2007, can be found, here.)

Damn. I'm not making any sense. I shall try again.

Oookay. In the 18th Dynasty, Akhenaten, 'the heretic king' (probably also known as 'that sonofabitch' by the priests he dealt with) declared the multiple gods of ancient Egypt wrong, announced everyone would henceforth worship the Aten (sun disc), of which he was the living embodiment. Then he moved the whole kit and kaboodle of them to Amarna, a new city he built from nothing, in the middle of nowhere, where he proceeded to rule over them. To say this era of history was chaotic is a vast understatement. Ever since modern Egyptology was founded - ever since we have had some vague understanding of ancient Egyptian history - we have speculated on exactly what in the holy hell happened then.

Then, in 1922, Howard Carter found the only undisturbed royal burial ever in the Valley of the Kings, the tomb of Tutankhamen. And unbelievably, that complicated things even more, because Tut is the person who succeeded Akhenaten on the throne, restored the old gods, and moved things back to the old capitol city, abandoning Amarana. No one was ever quite sure who in hell Tut was, in relation to Akhenaten, how he died, why he rated such a major amount of loot (not that we know, really, because we have no other royal burials to compare it to), and, well, you get the idea. Total clusterfuck.

Now, thanks to modern DNA testing, we've answered some of the questions, finally. (To have solid answers about a confused era of history three thousand years ago is nothing short of miraculous.) Tut was the son of Akhenaten. The two young girls buried with Tut were his daughters. Most amazing of all, subject of my 'holy fuck', they identified, for sure, the mummy of Akhenaten. It had been chucked into an unmarked tomb (KV55), with all identifying marks cut off. There had been speculation for a hundred years over whether or not it was Akhenaten. Now we know. (One of the ways we know for sure is because it was compared with the DNA of Akhenaten's father, Amenhotep III, whose mummy we have had, positively identified, for decades.)

I had been sure the priests burned Akhenaten's body. It would have been the ancient Egyptian version of sending him to hell - removed him from the afterlife, essentially.

Even though I was wrong, I'm reveling in the idea that with modern science, we've positively ID'd three-thousand year old bodies. That's a victory for science, no matter how you look at it.

For those wishing for a more coherent, educated commentary on these findings, pop over and visit the blog of my friend, Shoveling Ferret. She's formally trained at this stuff, I'm just a hobbyist. She's discussing the piles of information they got from the mummies other than basic identification - health, possible causes of death, family relationships. Good stuff. And even though she's formally trained, she's putting things in everyday terminology.


Hopefully, after this, I will manage to get back to regular blogging.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Still not dead.

Thanks for all the concern, everyone. (Some of the e-mails in particular have been highly entertaining.) My fever broke Sunday morning and I've pretty much been sleeping it off since then. Today was probably the first day I felt human. I hope to finally start on my Olympics project tomorrow - good thing I'd decided to take it easy for the Olympics, huh?

So, no news, but I'm on the mend. Thanks to all who checked in.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Not dead yet.

Yeah, it's that time of year, and I've got pneumonia (or what is nearly pneumonia; I'm running a fever and can't breathe, sounds like pneumonia to me). Again. This is a nastier germ than the one I had at Christmas; either it's a mean germ or I was still worn down from the damn Christmas bug. Anyway, I'm on medication, hoping it will kick in, and sleeping sitting up. That's where I've been the last couple days.

So, the few bits of news and cuteness we've got around here.

It's still snowing, off and on. They 'plowed' our road with a backhoe, yesterday. (If you plow a road with a plow, does that mean the road was backhoed, yesterday?) This is the view out my living room window:

(Sorry for the blur; I had to take the photo with a low light setting to avoid flash on the glass.) What's restricting the view is a whole lot of snow and a shrub that exploded from too much ice and cold. I know I'm in a ground floor apartment, but good grief. Really fun here.


With the Goober and me lying about, the husbeast wound up laying on the Goober's pink beanbag chair to watch TV last night. I tried to get a photo. He said "You're going to- blog- fucker!" But right then his phone rang and he got up, so no photo. Sorry. But it was funny.


I was awakened from a nap yesterday, to the Goober tucking her teddy bears around me. Normally she gets in big trouble for waking people up from naps, but that time she got hugs and was told how nice she is for sharing.


We now have a frog humidifier. It really classes up the living room.


I've found a rather odd and entertaining drug side effect. Some of my stronger painkillers dry out the mucous membranes. While I'm not suggesting you take class four drugs for a stuffy nose, it sure does help. When I take them for my hand, my nose clears right up. Finally, a GOOD side effect.


The Winter Olympics start at 9PM, our time. I'm hoping to watch the opening ceremonies while starting on my project. I'm doing WIPs. So the first project will be Innsvinget Ganser. It's been languishing since 2005. I need to put it out of its mercy. If, by some miracle, I get that done, I've got something else I could work on.

That's it at my house. I intend to spend the weekend unconscious. The fun never ends.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Sekhmet, you fucker.

First, she crawled into the Goober's beanbag chair and spit and growled and swore at anyone who tried to move her.

THEN, she was caught eating one of the Goober's chicken bits.

So she went and took a nap on the clean laundry.


Aussies, we have a situation.

So I'm wandering through Target today, killing time before my prescription is filled. (That's another story, I'll put it at the end so you can skip it if you want.) There, on an end-cap, something caught my eye. It was the words. But the packaging wasn't quite right.

They're not made by Arnott's. They're made by Pepperidge Farm (a reasonably large corporate bakery here, like Keebler or NABISCO). So I pick up the package, and there it is, "Australia's favorite cookie!" on the front. See it? And I muttered to myself, "If it's Australia's favorite cookie, why don't we just fucking import it like normal people?" and got a startled look from a lady walking past.

Of course I bought them. I brought them home and read the packaging closely. Near as I can tell, the Tim-Tams were made in Australia, shipped here, and packaged by Pepperidge Farms. "Produce of Australia - Tim Tam used under license". They look and taste (I'm chewing one now) just like the ones I've gotten in care packages from Australia. I don't know what to think. Well, yeah, I'm thinking, why didn't we just import the damn things? Why the re-packaging?

I have e-mailed the company to ask why they're confusing Tim-Tam lovers with this new package. It's just dumb. Further notices as events warrant. (The Goober is on her third Tim-Tam.)


The Goob and I went to the doctor today. She's fine, just congestion and a head cold. I have nearly-pneumonia again. So I'm back on another round of the drugs I took at Christmas, when I had near-pneumonia then. My response was kind of like "Huh. I didn't think I felt that bad."

It started snowing again an hour ago, and they're predicting another foot of snow. We're in pretty good shape here - our building is on the same part of the electrical grid as the schools, a nursing home, and the hospital, so we're high priority by default. But there are a lot of other people, gonna have a hard time tonight. And the back streets still haven't been dug out from last weekend's snowblitz. (Before I got distracted by Tim-Tams at the store, I was planning to do a series of blog posts about foods that make life worth living in a blizzard. I'll probably keep on with that plan, now that I've ranted over faux-domestic cookies.)

It's gonna be interesting. Brace for further weirdness.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The day from hell.

This week, I had two doctor's appointments. One this morning with a pain specialist, and one tomorrow with my regular guy. After last weekend's snow, I figured I should give myself some extra time this morning, so I left the house an hour and a half early. In normal weather, the drive would take about twenty minutes (conveniently, the new pain specialist is about five blocks past the yarn store).

After an hour and forty minutes on the road, I finally accepted that I wouldn't make the appointment if I was given FOUR hours, turned around, and went home. If it hadn't been for the other yahoos on the road, I'd have made it. The roads were okay - not great, but driveable. Unfortunately they were full of people going "AAAAAH! SNOW!" and slamming on the breaks. I saw one lunatic park their car in the middle of the road and walk away.

Then the doctor's office called me to reschedule tomorrow's appointment, because there is MORE snow coming and they wanted to close the office early.

I got both appointments rescheduled in a timely fashion, but I still feel like I've been beating my head on a wall all day.

So to distract from the fact that I'm STILL not doing anything around here, some Goober photos!

She was playing 'house' under a table last night:

And this is her this morning. She wakes up in a worse mood than I do.

That's popcorn in the bowl next to her. She likes it for breakfast, and I figure, what the heck, it's a whole grain (sort of), and full of fiber and not full of sugar.

And here's Sekhmet, trying to fit herself into a little sunbeam on the floor:

It didn't work too well. She wasn't happy. So she took out her frustration by waiting and pouncing me at about midnight.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The joys of winter.

Well. Yesterday the husbeast spent most of the morning digging out his Suburban. And yesterday afternoon, the property management company sent snow plows through the lots. So this morning, most of the rest of the tenants in the building emerged to dig out their cars, including the two feet of snow on the roofs of them. Around noon, the husbeast decided we'd put it off long enough and it was time to go free my Jeep. His plan was to hook a tow strap up to the Jeep, and pull it out of the snow with his Suburban.

While he was futzing around getting the Suburban out of its parking space, joking with the neighbors digging out their cars, and rummaging for tow straps, I waded through the nearly hip-deep snow (it was up past my knees, and I am not short), hopped in the Jeep, and started it up. Now, you see, there are different kinds of four wheel drive. There's "four high", which is high speed four wheel drive, for highway and regular street driving; it's good for occasional icy patches, or in heavy rain (I used it a lot in Charleston in the rain). Then there's "four low". That's the really low speed, high torque, crawling four wheel drive, that you use to climb out of ditches and over logs and stuff. While the Jeep was warming up, I looked down at my little shifter and pulled it into four low.

If he was pulling me out anyway, I might as well get stuck first.

I backed up a couple feet until the snow compressed and I couldn't go any further. Then I pulled forward as far as I could, and backed up again pushing more snow out of the way. After three or four repetitions of that, I thought "you know, I could probably tromp it and get out of here on my own". Except the husbeast was back there with his Suburban and his tow straps. So I leaned out the door and told him to get out of the way. He glared for a minute, and did.

After a few more rocks back and forth, and a little spinning, I backed myself out of the space, blasting snow in all directions. All the neighbors cheered. I waved my arms in the air like a prize fighter while we all laughed.

Working back and forth, I put the Jeep in and out of the space a couple more times, to make some space on either side so I could get in and out, then I parked the Jeep and headed back in. The husbeast was standing with the neighbors, glaring at me and pretending to be angry (the husbeast was glaring; the neighbors were amused). He looks at them, and says "I spent TWO AND A HALF HOURS digging out my Suburban yesterday. Then SHE comes out and is all" here he shifted into a high voice and waved his arms around "I'm gonna back my Jeep right out! Heehee!" Then he glared at me some more. "Bitch."

I told him it was because I was wearing the magic pink boots. He doesn't seem convinced and would probably rather shovel for two and a half hours, if it came to it. Since getting back inside, he has grumbled some more, and muttered "bitch" a couple times.

Heh heh heh. Sometimes I really love winter.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Is it too late to move to Hawaii?

We had a blizzard hit last night. Remember my photo from November, of the first snowfall of the year?

Now the front yard looks like this.

That thing sticking up in the middle of the photo? It's a railing for the stairs that are under the snow.

The parking lot looks like this:

The husbeast went out earlier to shovel out his truck.

He worked at it for about an hour, gave up, and came back inside.

The snow's about a third of the way up the windows.

And, well, I'm digging in for a nice quiet day of napping, knitting and spinning. I don't think we're in any danger of losing power. So it's just annoying, nothing major.


For those of you demanding photos of 'the weird hand thing', here you go.

If it turns out all of you can do this, I won't be surprised. I've long wondered just what the cause/effect link is between dexterity and knitters. Do we knit because it's easy due to our dexterity, or are we dexterous because we knit all the time? Probably a little of both.

As for touching my back, between my shoulder blades, yeah, I can do that, too. Both by reaching up over from above, or up from below. You should have seen me while I was doing yoga. Hm. I should probably get back to that.

Friday, February 05, 2010

A tale of three phones.

Last week the husbeast bought himself a new phone. He was quite excited because it was the first time he was ever able to get one without worrying over security restrictions; while in the Navy, he wasn't allowed to have a phone with a camera, or much other stuff. So he's been playing with his new toy (a Blackberry with still camera AND video, GPS, internet, and who knows what else). Inevitably the subject has come up about the last time he got a cell phone.

It was while we were living in Hawaii, and he was attached to the SEAL team. He was there to do industrial inspections, but their need for industrial inspection was small, and he became their jack of all trades. If you needed someone to drive a forklift, rig a crane, work on a marine diesel, he was usually the guy to do it. It was fine with him. He loved that job; he hates being bored and loves variety, and everyone appreciated that he volunteered to do all kinds of things, so it was like the job was tailor-made to fit him. I'm sure if I asked him, he'd say that was his favorite job of all time, ever.

Well. He went out and got himself a flip phone that was as high-tech as he could get, with all the security restrictions. Since he worked an industrial job, he took out insurance on the phone when he bought it, considering it sensible.

It was.

Within two days, I got a phone call from him. He told me he was calling from a new, new cell phone, because he'd just dropped his old new cell phone into the bilge of a boat he'd been working on. Bilges are full of pretty much every disgusting thing imaginable; dank water, oil and diesel fuel, human waste, dirt, gunk, drowned bugs, and in the larger ships, even dead rats. I'm not sure he ever recovered the old new phone; if I were him I'd have left it in there rather than fish for it, or gods forbid, reach in after it.

The insurance paid for it, and we didn't think much of it.

A couple weeks later, he came home muttering, and showed me his new new cell phone. It had been on his hip and got struck by a swinging shackle at the end of a crane cable. Smashed it into pieces and broke the view screen.

Off to the store to get new new phone #2. The insurance paid again.

A few weeks after that, the husbeast came home, positively ranting, and threw his phone down on the kitchen counter. It had been ripped apart at the hinge and was in two separate pieces. He says he doesn't remember this part. I will never forget the dismembered cell phone. All the heavy industry he worked with hadn't killed this phone. No. He'd been walking past his desk, bumped up against it, and ripped the flip off the phone clipped to his belt.

Off to the store again. This time the insurance company terminated his policy (three dead cell phones in five or six weeks). I don't remember if we had to pay for the last replacement phone. I really don't want to.

So this time, when he got his new cell phone, he got one that didn't flip. And he immediately ordered a protective case for it (from Otterbox, who also made my shock-resistant and waterproof to really deep iPod cases). We'll see how long this one lasts. At least the insurance policy will replace it once or twice.

Mostly I'm sharing this tale for laughs, and so that people understand if he busts up this Blackberry and I write some long, ranting blog post about it. He DOES have insurance on this new one. For the good it does us.

Keep your fingers crossed.


Hand stuff ahead: As always there will not be a test later if you wanna skip it.

Yesterday I went to the occupational therapist for hand evaluation. I went to the same place that taught me to use my TENS unit, and I'm very happy with the staff there. Nice, friendly, helpful, all that good stuff. (If anyone needs physical or occupational therapy in the Pittsburgh area, let me know, I'll hook you up.) The occupational therapist spent an hour and fifteen minutes with me, basically giving me the appointment after mine, since the person was a no-show. As soon as he was finished with me, he was heading to his kid's school for a school play; he could have booted me out after half an hour with NO repercussions but chose to stay and work with me instead. It was the most thorough hand exam I've ever had. Can't say enough good things about the whole office.

The news was so-so. My hand is deteriorating, but very slowly, and is still well within 'normal' ranges, though with significant differences from my 'good' hand. (Among other things, a twenty-five degree loss of range of motion; if I hadn't started out with a crazy-good range of motion to begin with, I'd be in trouble; most people would have serious problems after a twenty-five degree loss.) I'm losing bone mass. And a new one, the tendons are going screwy on me, pulling the muscles and bones in new ways as I try to compensate for lost motion and strength.

There's no magic exercise to make it all better. You'd think after all this time I'd learn that, but I'm still disappointed. They DO want to do strength training, but I need the okay from my new pain specialist first. So, things are moving and I'm doing what I can.

The fun bit? Apparently I have a freak ability, to get my thumb to lay completely flat across the palm of my hand. I can do it with both hands, so it's not injury-related. The OT said it was the first time he'd ever seen it, with decades of experience behind him. So I got home, and I was telling the husbeast about it, and he immediately turned to the Goober and said "Hey, Goob. Can you do that?" and gestured to my hand.

The Goober looked, said "What, this?" and immediately laid her thumbs flat across the palms of her hands, just like I was doing.

The husbeast and I looked at each other and laughed and laughed. At least I have company in my weirdness.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Conversation of the day.

Like quote of the day, but longer.

GOOBER: Momma! The brachiosaurus is missing!
ME: Oh heavens.
GOOBER: Momma! The raptor is missing TOO!
ME: Oh heavens.
GOOBER: Quit saying oh heavens. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!

Odds and ends.

I got the sidebar re-updated. Any readers out there who aren't in the "Community" of links in the sidebar, and want to be, let me know. I think I got everyone who left me their blog links from my last shout-out a week ago.


There were also a lot of comments on the spice rack post, and I thought I'd follow up with all the herbs and spices that got mentioned. I'll add them to the end of the actual Spice Rack post, for anyone who goes wild and looks it up later. But to make it easy on you guys and avoid a lot of scrolling around, I'll throw it in here, too:

-Basil is related to mints, and grows in many of the same areas. It's another of the famous Eurasian plants that's probably native to the eastern half of the Mediterranean, somewhere. The chemicals in basil are delicate and cooking destroys them, so make sure to add it to foods at the last minute, before you eat it.

-Epazote isn't really a spice I don't think (technically) but a seed eaten as a grain. It's a chenopod native to S America, meaning it's most closely related to quinoa and goosefoot. (I talked about this a couple months ago in my 'native American foods' post.)

-Fennel is related to carrots, dill, and a bunch of other culinary plants. We eat the 'bulb', which is similar to onion in physical terms - it is a tightly curled rosette of specialized leaves, not an actual root. Technically the whole plant is edible, though it isn't always eaten that way. It's native to somewhere in Europe.

-Marjoram is an herb so closely related to oregano, I wonder if one is the ancestor of the other. They are different species of the same genus, and closely related even for that.

-Mexican Oregano is a very close relative of European oregano, just native to south and central America instead of Eurasia.

-Pink Peppercorns are from a tree native to South America. It's not a true pepper, and not very closely related to 'real' pepper (which is native to India). It goes by a lot of folk names - American Pepper, Peruvian Pepper, etc. It's the red/pink stuff you see among the black, green, and white peppercorns in bottles of 'mixed' pepper. They've been used in S America for at least 1500 years. Probably longer.

-Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean area (not shocking, considering the native cuisines it is popular in). It contains lots of iron, is an anti-oxidant, and works as an anti-inflammatory. The wood is aromatic and used in grilling, and we use the leaves when cooking.

-Tarragon is related to wormwood (the stuff in absinthe) and white sage (the native American incense). It's also related to tumbleweeds, if memory serves. It's native to nearly the entire northern hemisphere, though there's argument about whether the north American versions are naturalized from imported plants or truly native. We eat the leaves.

Other thoughts:

Dried herbs are nearly always stronger than their fresh counterparts. (In fact, I want to say always but I'm not going to look it all up.) They also get bitter when dried. That's why so many of you mentioned your preference for fresh herbs. You aren't imagining it, the tastes really are very different.

We had mint growing in the yard, when I was growing up. It got so bad my dad gave up on it and just let it grow in the shady areas under the trees, choking out the grass. He (and later I) would mow it just like the grass, driving over it with the riding mower. The mint put up with it, simply growing back. It wasn't quite like getting maced, breathing all the mint in the air while mowing, but it sure wasn't pleasant. (My cousins once dared me to drink a whole bottle of Listermint. Mowing the mint was a lot like that.) I also remember my mother going out there and ripping some out of the ground to cook with. We beat that mint to heck and back, and I'll bet you there's still some there in that yard, twenty years later.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A day in photos.

I'd been flipping through the last couple weeks and it looks like a whole lot of blah blah blah around here, so I took some photos today. Then I got lucky just now and snapped a photo montage that's hilarious. Or at least, hilarious to people with cats and kids. (So, what, maybe a quarter of you. Not bad. Maybe some of the rest of you will get the joke.) For the record, I color-corrected some of these photos, so if some of the background scenery looks a little funky, it's because I was shooting for proper-looking colors in whatever it was I was actually taking the photo of.

First, today, I got some business cards in the mail. I'd had them printed in such a way that they could serve as tags for yarns and fibers for my Etsy shop.

These are really meant as tags, though the space at the bottom will be handy for scrawling my name and number if I want to give that out. After extensive marketing research (reading a lot of blogs), I've found that people keep their yarn information (fiber, weight) more than they keep manufacturer's info. And I wanted my info to be kept, in case someone says "Who made that really nice merino I spun a while back?" That way if they have this kind of tag from the fiber, they'll know. The logo? That's a cropped photo of the Purple Trainwreck that I hand-dyed and then spun, last summer. Seemed the obvious thing to take a photo of, when I was trying to think of something to use; I sell as much of that stuff as I can stand to dye, both as yarn and unspun fiber.

Yes, this means things are slowly getting underway for the shop again. Between the moving and the economy, I've left the shop by its lonesome, but things are picking up. I HAVE been dyeing fibers and spinning yarns and putting them aside, so I will have stuff to list when the time comes.

A while after that, I was sitting around with the cat on my lap, and the Goober climbed up into my lap with me.

It amazes me, how much contempt a cat can communicate with just a glance, when their face is covered with fur.

Then I took a photo of the next installment of the color-blending project I'm spinning.

Odds are high I'll be selling this, simply because I won't have enough time to knit it up any time soon. If I want more that badly, I can always spin more.

The husbeast is working tonight, so I decided to let the Goober eat dinner in front of the TV. So she did, rolling around on the floor in four-year-old fashion. For some reason, Sekhmet got interested in what the Goober was eating. No idea why. It's VERY unusual for the cat to show any interest in human food. This time? Well. You can watch it happen.

After I snapped the last photo, the Goober caught on to what was happening, grabbed her food, and said "Shoo!" to the cat.

Sekhmet is now pretending to sleep while plotting how best to stand on my head later, when I go to bed.