Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Car Trouble

We're still waiting for word on Aaron's truck. The shop called at 8:30 this morning to say that the air conditioning was leaking, and ask if we'd like it fixed. Since one of the things I really like about the truck is that we can have air conditioning for the dogs, I'm glad he said yes. But they're just saying "sometime this week" for the repairs to be complete, so that isn't real reassuring.

And I'm back to car trouble of my own. The battery was dead this morning, probably thanks to a stuck headlight. When I opened up the hood to check on the battery, I found this:

A birds' nest. In my car. Three people have been poking around under the hood as I've tried to get the car running, so I can't believe that we all overlooked it until now, but there it is. Doesn't seem like a good place for birds, does it?

So now the battery is re-charging, and one way or another I'll fix the headlight at my first opportunity. Probably with a hammer.

Today was, by the way, a very early morning, because we got up at 5:15 to see the total lunar eclipse. The sock came along, too, but I didn't manage to get sock and moon into one picture.

So here's the moon, just a few minutes before the eclipse became total. My fully-automatic camera wasn't a very good tool for taking eclipse pictures, so I don't have any of the total eclipse. The red moon was really impressive, especially as the sky began to turn blue with sunrise. I don't think the dogs noticed, but they enjoyed the early-morning walk, and are sleeping peacefully now, perhaps a result of the disrupted schedule. How can eclipses be bad luck if they help dogs sleep quietly?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sock Club Saturday

It's the last Saturday of the month, which means it's time for Sock Club! I didn't go last month because of the doggie road trip, so this was a welcome opportunity to discuss a pattern that hasn't been working very well for me - Elizabeth Zimmerman's Moccasin Socks.

I love the yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted), and I thought I'd love the pattern. They seemed to be knitting up really fast. I even finished one last month. But it didn't fit, because it's hard to calculate how long the instep of the foot should be. And then there are the holes - all the picking up of stitches for the sole leaves lots of holes around the heel.

Unfortunately, these seem to be common problems, so Sock Club didn't provide much help. I've now re-made the instep much longer than I think I'll need, so I hope I'll have a finished Moccasin soon. If I can get the pattern to work, people may be getting these for Christmas. They probably will be fast to knit once I don't have to do them twice!

In other good news, we got a replacement for the refrigerator that died on Wednesday. I almost had to skip sock club to wait for its arrival, but it would have been worth it.

Friday, August 24, 2007


It's Oscar's Dogoversary! A year ago today Aaron was getting ready to go to Germany, I was moving, and a new dog showed up and turned our lives upside down. Max, the VeryBadDog, was sedate by comparison to this little puppy.

We were loading a big chair into Aaron's truck when I felt something cold on the back of my leg. The something cold turned out to be a little black nose, attached to a little brown dog. He was very friendly, and didn't object when we picked him up and examined him. At the time we thought he was an escaped pet, because he looked to be neutered (it turns out he was just a late bloomer).

We couldn't just leave him loose outside, so we carried him into my apartment. Max jumped up in his usual rambunctious greeting, so Aaron tried to caution him, "you can't play with that little puppy like you do with Maggie." I think he got to "puppy" before the little puppy started trying to wrestle with Max. Since the dogs obviously got along like brothers, a few days later he became ours. Choosing a name was harder than choosing to keep the dog. I'd suggested Laszlo, in honor of Aaron's graduation and doctor-father, or Barak, since the dog bounces around the room like lightning. But Aaron didn't like either, since having to say "Laszlo, what's in your mouth?" complicates one's relationship with one's adviser, and Barak would have led to Ehud- or Obama-related political discussion with every walk. So he became Oscar, a name with its own honorable past.

He's celebrating his anniversary by doing all sorts of fun stuff. This morning, there was a lively wrestling match with Maggie, the neighbor dog.

And a break for some good stick-chewing. Even on this special day, sticks are outside toys.

I brought home a present, which Oscar opened all by himself.

It's a squeaky frisbee! Eventually all dog toys are communal, but Oscar will probably spend some time keeping it close by. He's loved playing with these at the Dog Park, so now he has his own.

And I had my own excitement today. Purdue holds an Activities Fair every fall so all the student groups can show off and recruit. I was there to work on behalf of Students for Barack Obama, but had some time to look around. So I visited the Tae Kwan Do booth, and broke this board with my hand. My knitting hand. How foolish cool is that?


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Half a Sockday, with a bonus

Today was Heather's sockday. I'm sure she'll blog all about it soon, so I won't share too many details. She was really looking forward to it.

But I will share my own sock. Note that I say sock. With all that's gone on, the second sock is only half-finished, so I'm afraid I wasn't properly ready for Heather's sockday. But it will be awhile before she can wear socks, anyway, so I think I'll have them done in time for her. And she got a pair of bonus socks - albeit orange Red Heart socks - so she's not too far down.

This sock is another Turkish-style one, with the main pattern taken from Anna Zilboorg's Simply Socks. There's a small diamond pattern on the sole. This sock isn't as complicated as it looks, because I used Dale Baby Ull for the red, and Regia Crazy Color for the mostly-green contrast color. If I ever teach a class on Turkish socks, I intend to encourage the use of self-striping yarn. I hope I'll have the second one finished before Sock Club on Saturday, although I don't know how likely that is.

There are bits of good news to report. Aaron found a friend to drive him out to get the part for my car. Walter's Auto Import Repair is one of the coolest places in town. Walter is best known as the expert at keeping old Volkswagens running, but he got the part for my Honda in 24 hours. His entire lot is covered with cool European cars in various states of repair and disrepair; a shiny Volkswagen Golf parked with a Porsche with '80s plates and a rusting-out Rolls Royce. I want to own a Beetle just so I have an excuse to go out there again.

Aaron's trip (and his auto-repairing might, since I wasn't able to get this part out by myself), means that at least we have one working car, even if it is a 1989 Honda Accord with a squirrely engine and a leaky roof. So that's good news. The bad news is that our refrigerator died last night, and so far we haven't been able to get anything done about it. So thank you, everyone who's sent knitterly good wishes. I intend to send personal thank-yous, but that may have to wait until I'm not using a borrowed computer.

Tip for the day: Don't use the windshield washer if your sunroof is open!

And one more bit of good news - the Dish Rag Tag box was delivered today. Go, POST knITS!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I've been playing Emily's Dish Rag Tag, and yesterday I was it. Dish Rag Tag is Emily's attempt to encourage some knitting competition, with a race. There are teams of 10 people, and each person receives box, knits a dishrag from yarn in the box, then sends the box along to the next person in line. The first team to get their box back to Emily wins!

My box came yesterday, and this is what was in it. The dish rag, the full ball of yarn, and the yarn cutter are all for me. The ivory ball of yarn was full when I got it - this is what's left after I made my dish rag.

Here's where the story gets ugly. This is competitive knitting, right? So it's important to go fast. I knew the box was arriving on Monday, so my plan was to go to class, go home, get the box, go to work, knit all evening, and send the box off first thing in the morning. Good plan, right?

But yesterday it rained. Really rained. We got more rain than we usually get in August in just one day. And I found out the hard way that this is bad for the roads. My car isn't working, and needed a part. So Aaron let me borrow his truck to go get it. I was on my way home (almost ready for the "get the box" step), when someone stopped suddenly in front of me. And nothing happened when I hit my own brakes - the truck skidded forward, right into the poor guy's Blazer. So now the truck is at the body shop, where it will remain for at least a week, while we try to come up with the $2700 necessary to fix it. (Is it good or bad that I was already frantically trying to come up with some liquid funds, because my computer is totally dead?)

My car not working + Aaron's truck wrecked = NO CAR. There's a part for my car at a local mechanic, but I don't know how I'll be able to get out to pick it up, or if it will really work. Not to mention that all the paperwork and running around to deal with post-wreck things meant no time to go home and get the box.

This is the "wonderful boyfriend" part of the story. Even though I'd just destroyed his truck, his beautiful truck, the one he bought himself when he finished college, rather than sit in his office plotting ways to kill me Aaron took the bus home so he could get my box! He then enlisted a dear car-owning friend, Sigulf, who drove over, picked up the box, and delivered it to me at work. So thanks to these two wonderful people, I was able to knit for about three hours last night, and get the dish rag mostly finished.

I finished it up this morning, and here's what's in the box now. Our box is getting a little beat up, but we're supposed to try to have it make the entire trip, so I just added another layer of tape. My dish rag is in the Quilted Diamonds pattern, using the ivory Sugar 'n' Cream yarn. The surprise is a crocheted bead bracelet, and some goodies from Endangered Species Chocolate, an Indiana company which promotes green operations and ethical trade. Vickie, you'll be doing a good deed when you eat this chocolate!

But the bad luck seems to be following me. Because of the No Car problem, I had to go to a post office that was accessible by bus. Which meant the Postal Contract Station in the University Bookstore on campus. They'd decided to have a single line for everything at the customer service desk - postal service, book returns, and book buybacks, and then they staffed the desk with people who knew nothing about the postal service. My cashier kept calling for help, and when someone finally arrived, he just said "just send it regular priority," and walked away. That was exactly what I'd been telling the guy I wanted to do, so I'm not sure how helpful it was. Anyway, I saw him put postage on the box, but getting a tracking number for me was far too much of a stretch for the guy who spent a lot of time looking for a Secret Code Book when the postage scale asked for a ZIP Code. This still seemed like a better option than waiting until tomorrow to try to get to a different post office, or trying to arrange a carrier pickup. I hope it all works out. Something needs to start working out. Good thing the dishcloth looks good!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Plants From Hell

These have turned up in my front yard. I have no idea what they are. Sometimes they die in the morning, then reappear in the evening.

They could be tulips from Halloween Town in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Or maybe flowers for the Wedding Chapel in Hell.

All I know is I'm not touching them.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

You don't know me...

unless you know that...
  • I still have the stuffed fish that my mother made when I was 7, and he travels with me.
  • His name is Fishy-Wishy, an early indicator that I've never been especially good at coming up with names for things.
  • The first mammal pet I ever had was a guinea pig, named J.R.
  • My father single-handedly won World War II.
  • Chocolate gives me migraines, but I'll eat the good stuff anyway.
  • I have two dogs, Maximillian the Voracious and Oscar.
  • My first dog was Shadow, who we got when I was in high school.
  • I don't think it's bedtime until at least midnight, and I never have. I mourned Johnny Carson like a grandfather. One of the first sentences I ever spoke was describing something from The Tonight Show.
  • My mother was a Sunday-School teacher for inner city children for more years than I can imagine.
  • I got my first needlework kit when I was 4, and still haven't finished it.
  • Every single "I thought I was about to die" story I have involves my friend David.
  • Two of the nicest, kindest people I have ever met are evangelical Christians.
  • So is one of the biggest dickheads, but I try not to dwell too much on his example.
  • I'm not Jewish. Really. And neither is my advisor.
  • It took me three tries to learn to knit, partially because when I'm learning to do something, I naturally try to do it left-handed. But I'm not left-handed. I may be ambisinister.
  • I'm really impressed by the branch of the family that lives in Martinsville. None of them go to college, but they collect and renovate houses for fun.
  • When I first heard that a guy named "Barack Obama" was speaking at the Democratic National Convention, I assumed he was Jewish. I didn't realize that he wasn't until he talked about his father.
  • I hate artificial fibers.
  • I used to play Janet and Columbia at the Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Even so, I'm really very shy and reserved.
The Wednesday Challenge has returned!


Saturday, August 04, 2007

My Quiet Saturday

I don't have any new knitting to show. What I do have is a nice little clip of how my Saturday morning started, with the monthly tornado siren test:

Notice the white things all over the floor? That's from the loofa dog Oscar was tearing up before the siren went off. He loves the loofa dogs - just not in that cute cuddly way you see on the PetSmart commercials.

So, no new knitting.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Camp Obama

I'm back from two very long days in Chicago, at Camp Obama. There were no songs, no crafts, and no s'mores. It wasn't really what I expected at all. They said they weren't just teaching us to vote for, or to support Barack Obama - they wanted us to be Barack Obama.

It's easier than it sounds - I'm not expected to transform into a skinny black guy with a funny name. What they were teaching is how to be a community organizer - how to do the sort of work, and build the sort of power, that got Barack his start.

Chicago's community organization tradition goes back to Saul Alinsky, but things have changed some since the glory days of protest via fart-in. We're just supposed to recruit volunteers for phone banks and canvassing - no baked beans involved. But that radical touch is still there. Here's Mike Kruglik (on the right), an Alinsky student and Obama mentor, with Miguel del Valle, the Chicago City Clerk who was repeatedly described as a "progressive" politician. I'm still new to this left-wing lingo, so I'm not exactly sure what that means. But I can report that they were both lively and inspiring speakers, and Kruglik gave lots of useful information for organizing people for all sorts of things. I also learned from the previous day's session by "Dino" Martino, where we were taught that you have to ask for what you want people to do. So I asked them to pose for a picture with a sock.

The Obama volunteer headquarters is located right downtown, just across from the Sears Tower. They're open long hours, and encourage people to just drop by when they have some time and do whatever they can. This is a far cry from my past experience, when I've had to beg for jobs to do. Office space is pretty bland, so they've been asking local kids and the children of volunteers to provide wall decorations.

I stayed at the J. Ira and Nikki Harris Family Hostel. It's really nice for a hostel - amazingly clean, well-appointed (there was soap and paper towels in the restrooms!), and offering a friendly staff and a free breakfast. On the downside, you have to wash your own dishes (which means you're eating from dishes washed by some random stranger), and this is the view out the bedroom window. Still, for $35/night in Downtown Chicago, it's a good deal.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to enjoy much of downtown Chicago. We met until late Wednesday, because they took us on a tour of the campaign headquarters on Michigan Avenue. It was already getting pretty dark at 8:00, so I was really glad that the Central Time lobby didn't prevail here - I can only imagine how much worse it would be further east. So I only tried for one picture, stopping by for the sock to visit Millenium Park. There's an interesting set of fountains here, but it was much too dark to get pictures of them - and I didn't want to get the sock wet!

I didn't get much knitting done, but I'm glad I went. I didn't get much knitting done, but if there isn't a Knitters for Barack Obama chapter already, I'm going to start one. Contact me if you want to join!