Saturday, December 31, 2011

To a new year.

I'm sure no one has missed the fact that it's been a rough year around here at House O Samurai. (For me. The rest of the family is chugging along in great good health and style.) We finally, FINALLY have finished the six month process of switching my main pain medication (FOUR MONTHS to wean off, two months to start the new one) and I really do feel like a new person. In the last week, I've accomplished more than the last six months. Boxes unpacked, things done. I'm CLEANING.

So that's it for my new year. START OVER. Start adapting this house to ME. Get the store room in the basement set up for ME. Plus the usual eat better and get off my ass stuff.

I really, REALLY feel like this is a new start, it just coincidentally starts at the new year. I'll take the symbolism and run with it.


In need of more zombie knitting, since I cast off the Half-A-Washcloth Shawl, I started another.
This is leftover Samurai Knitter yarn, from my old (defunct) Etsy shop. 880 yards of lace weight merino yarn in color "Primrose". It's a light yellow with pink flung over it in random flecks. The pink blends in some places to peach, and in other spots is nearly fluorescent pink. Awesomeness.


For Christmas, I got the Goob a sweatshirt. She loves it and wants the whole world to see it.
It's the T-Rex hoodie from Think Geek. (They also have a Raptor.) Rawr.

They also come in adult sizes.


A happy, healthy new year to all.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review!

Reading the Forested Landscape, by Tom Wessels
This is one I can't really tie in to the fiber stuff. I'm usually pretty good at that, dragging all subjects back to knitting and spinning. This one? I'm at a loss. There's some stuff in there about sheep, but it's about grazing and deforestation, not, you know, using the wool for stuff.

Anyway. The book.

Do you like trees? Forests? Woods? Do you wish you knew more about what went on there, in terms of how old the growth is, whether the land had been used before, like that? This is YOUR BOOK. Holy crap, it's amazing. The author is like the Sherlock Holmes of trees. (I don't know if his bio says that. It should.) Thanks to him, I am seeing the land around me in a whole new way. Fence rows. Pasture trees. Crop field vs. hay field vs. pasture. Beavers. (No, really.) ALL THIS COOL STUFF.

Wanna know what a field was used for? If it's old, look at the stone fence nearby. Only regular plowing (for crop fields) works small stones to the surface. So a crop field's stone wall will have little stones in it. A hay field or a pasture would only contain the larger rocks pulled out of the soil to level the field. IS THIS COOL OR WHAT? Sherlock Holmes stuff, people!

You should see me, riding around in cars these days. I kinda hang out the window. The place where I grew up? ALL sorts of logging about a hundred years ago. The field down the hill, with the farm house in it, has been cleared land for at least a couple hundred years. (You can tell by the way the giant trees on the property have grown.) I spotted a tree struck by lightning, on the turnpike.

If you like trees? You want this. Seriously. Even the husbeast has found the info I've relayed interesting, and he considers trees annoying things he has to mow around. SHERLOCK. HOLMES.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The hits!

From Christmas. 'Cause we had a great holiday. (So great I've been sleeping like DAMN.)

We spent two days in Ohio with the in-laws, visiting with hub's bro, SIL, and kids. I gave one of the kids a Glow Dome from Crayola. They're pretty cool; it's a clear dome with little LEDs along the edges, that make whatever you color into the globe, glow.
The Goob and her eldest cousin bickered, bitched, and fought over it like siblings. Then we came home and I gave the Goob one of her very own. There was much shouting and dancing.

Then there is the Spot It! card game. I really wanna tell youse with kids about this one, because it is amazing.
It's one of those rare games you can explain in a minute or less, and it's as fun for adults and children. Each person gets a card, then they try to be the fist to match things from your card, to the central card being flipped over. We played two rounds in about five minutes, before dinner tonight. I think the Goobie laughed the whole time Also, affordable for birthday gifts and stuff. Whee!

For me, the husbeast got the entire Girl Genius book collection. I was psyched.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you already know. But, when we did this last move, my ball winder disappeared. Still know exactly where my swift is, but no idea on the winder. So for the last year and a half, two years, every time I had to wind a ball of yarn BY HAND, I'd Tweet "Anyone seen my ball winder?" So guess what I got for Christmas? I'd post a pic, but it's a plain old blue and white Royal ball winder. I've already used it.

Hubby also got me a set of Signature needles, but accidentally ordered the wrong size. They're in the mail for a return, but I'm still saying YAYAYAYAYAY! I think I'm gonna love them. (Size 1 DPNs, 7" long, for socks.)

Oh, and I have a new lap desk.
Ha, kidding. It's a really old lap desk.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Free shawl pattern!

A free shawl pattern, for Christmas. For those bloggers who've hung in this year through the chaos.

It's very simple. In fact, here's the pattern right here:



Cast on five stitches. Knit back.
*Slip one, knit one, yarn over, knit to end.*
Repeat the directions between the asterisks above.
When you're nearly out of yarn, cast off loosely.

This specific shawl uses two Crazy Zauberballs and measures approximately four feet across the top edge. It was knit on size five needles.


There ya go. I've got Scribus fired up and am putting this in a (likely one page) PDF file, so I can upload it to Ravelry.

For those wondering, here's the washcloth pattern:


CO 5 sts. K back.
Sl1, K1, YO, K to end.
Repeat, working until you've used up half your yarn. Then,
SL1, K1, YO, K2tog, K to last 5 sts, K2tog, K to end.
Repeat until you're down to 5 sts, bind off.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

That time of year.

For three years now, the Goober has gone to Ohio near Christmas, gotten gussied up, and gone to a Christmas party with her grandma. Today was the day, this year.
She picked out the dress. We walked into the store, and she saw it and said "OOOO! Purple SEQUINS." I said we needed to find a dress with sleeves. Being a good kid, she didn't argue. But we poked around and none of the other dresses worked. (What is it with no sleeves this year?!?) So, since nothing else worked better... what the hell. We got the dress she liked. (Life is short. You're only six once. Purple sequins are required.)

Then we rounded it out with tights covered in little hearts, and these:
I would so totally wear a pair of these. I posted the picture to Twitter the other day with the caption "GLITTER SHOES!" and everyone said they weren't sure whose feet would be in the shoes.

They have Hello Kitty charms on them, too.

Maybe I can get some Chucky T's and paint them with glitter.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Marsh Mallows

See, now about 1/4 of you are laughing, and the other 3/4 are going "whaaaaat?"

Yes. That, above, is a marsh mallow. They are native to northern Africa, but it's been naturalized just about everywhere. All the way back to the ancient Egyptians, it was used medicinally. The roots produce this goo ('mucilage') that soothes sore throats and helps acidic upset stomach. Some folk used it on their skin, like a moisturizing lotion. They're also grown all over as an ornamental; see how pretty they are? They're related to hollyhocks, hibiscus, and even (distantly) chocolate.

Back in the day (a couple-three hundred years ago), French confectioners used the goo in the roots to make what we know as proto marchmallows-the-candy. They'd whip the goo, add sugar, and other flavorings like rosewater.

These days, since marsh mallows aren't easy to farm, we imitate htem instead with egg whites instead of root goo.

Hmmm. Homemade marshmallows for Christmas, instead of some of the cookies. Yeah. I can do that.

Monday, December 05, 2011


Well, I spent last night and today fooling around and I can still knit. I mean, knit for more than ten minutes at a time.

It's got to be very small gauge; small and light. I assume that's because it's lighter in weight and the actual motions themselves are smaller. Even Cascade 220 is too heavy at this point. But sock yarn is working.

With luck I'll get drugged up next week so I can finish this KAL before you guys start sending me felted wool and broken knitting needles in the mail.

This also means the Christmas knitting is dead in the water. Luckily it was just a couple felted bags; I can work around that. But this will be the first year with NO knitted gifts in a long time.

Maybe if I drug up successfully I can knit a hat or two.

Keep your fingers crossed for Toradol. It would make a great Christmas gift.


I keep forgetting to mention... remember the deer?

Up the road, we've got an archer. He's got a little range set up in a field; most of the year, he uses one of those modified hay bale targets. But for the month or so leading up to deer hunting season, he uses a deer target. It's an actual fake deer, stuffed with something to make it shootable.

About a month ago, the deer target got the attention of a real deer. Real deer gored the hell out of the target, tore it up, and probably peed on the pieces.

These are the same deer that like to lay around in my back yard.

Lately I'm worrying less about the freaking bear in the area.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


And sad. And kind of worried.
This is how far I've gotten on my annual winter socks from scratch. I haven't knit anything.

I really can't make a fist with my hand. Given a minute or so, I can carefully assemble my fingers in a ball, but it takes concentration and care. Not what you'd call a fist.

We're still screwing with my medication, but I'm starting to worry if it never gets fixed.

Yesterday, I went and bought this:
Iridescent tinsel. Even it's not enough to get me spinning. (Though, if at all possible, I am spinning this into lace weight and knitting SOMETHING crazy with it.)

How about something happier? Yes. Let's do happier.

We got the Christmas tree put up. The Goob did most of it. It's her thing.
She's been sick (the sore-throat-and-sniffles deal, nothing major), which just adds to the whole event.

First thing when the tree went up, the Goob asked "Are we going to use my star?" Years ago, when she was maybe two, the Christmas tree topper got broken. I don't even remember what it was. I had the Goober color some paper with crayons and a glitter pen, then rigged up a star with tape and cardboard.
It has survived to top the tree another year. The Goobie gets a big charge out of it, so I'm trying to figure out a way to laminate it, or something, to keep it indefinitely. But for now, it's safe at the top of the tree.

Maybe I'll drug up and see if I can knit. Or spin. Or bake. Or something. Painting my nails as my only creative outlet just isn't cutting it. (Pain doc appointment next week.)

Thursday, December 01, 2011


I've been thinking about it since I wrote yesterday's blog post. People turned to me for advice on writing their senators and representatives, for looking up congressional info, and... I knew the answers. Before this, I'd never really seen my penchant for writing snarly letters to elected officials as a protest, but you know, it is. In my mind, a protest involves picket lines and chanting and possibly mild violence of the 'throw a few punches' type. But then, my dad was a member of the UAW (United Auto Workers union), so I suppose it's not shocking that image was in my mind.

Writing seemed more civilized to me, and I don't know what I thought of it as. But it's a protest as surely as waving a sign at city hall.

See, this is all Ralph Regula's fault.

He was my congressman, where I grew up. We had a great government teacher at my high school, and she and Ralph would organize government orientations, for lack of a better word. I've actually met the guy; he retired in 2009 after 18 terms in the House. While I didn't agree with everything he ever did, he was an old-school politician who actually acted like a public servant.

With all that, then, it didn't seem odd at all to me, to write a letter or call his office when there was something I was unhappy about going on in office.

Then I married the husbeast and moved to Virginia, just in time for the Ollie North vs. Chuck Robb senate race. You remember Ollie North, the "I was just following orders" dude from the Iran-Contra hearings? Him, running against Chuck Robb, who was almost a cartoon of a corrupt southern politician. I spent about a year writing nasty letters to both Robb's offices and North's campaign offices. I don't remember if I refused to vote, or if I voted and wrote in Kermit the Frog. (I do a lot of both.)

Then on to Hawaii, and again, letters fired off to relevant people. I actually got into a face-to-face confrontation with one of the congressmen while I was there. Do not rag on the enlisted military in my presence, I will chew your face off.

Well, you get the idea. Apparently I've been protesting with the pen rather than the picket sign all this time and it just never occurred to me.

So, it's time to protest some more.

The bill discussed in yesterday's post? S.1867? It passed in the senate today, a vote of 97-3. There's a petition to impeach every senator who voted in favor of it. You can sign it, here. (The internet makes all this with-a-pen protesting much easier and faster.) While I don't think they will impeach the entire senate, I DO think that thousands of signatures on that WILL get their attention. It's a small thing. It's an easy thing. If you're outraged, go sign it.

I hope the president vetoes this thing or I'm going to be writing in Kermit the Frog again next year.