Monday, July 16, 2007

B is for...

Berries (again)



Look how big they are!

Strawberries are gone for another year (real strawberries that is, not those styrofoam imposters from the grocery store), but for the next three weeks it's raspberry and marionberry season. Which, of course, means more jam.

I managed 10 pints (5 raspberry/5 marionberry) and 9 half-pints (all raspberry) last night after dinner. I had a few more berries left but unfortunately had run out of jars. Time to shake down relatives and friends for last year's empties!


Mr. CPA and I spread 5 yards of bark in the front yard Saturday. It really requires at least 10 yards but we only wanted to tackle what we could do in a single day (which, sadly would have been about 10 yards just a few years ago ::sigh::).

That pile sure doesn't look like much in the photo but it's about 25 full wheelbarrow loads (which actually felt like 50 in the humid 80 degree weather).


Umm, no photo but aren't you glad? This has literally been a PITA. I've been having bad hip pain for the last few weeks. It's much worse when I'm sitting, which is most of the time since I sit professionally in my capacity as computer programmer. So by the end of the day I'm even happier than usual to be out of my chair at work. This has impacted the amount of time that I'm willing/able to spend sitting at home in the evening. So not much is happening right now at the home computer. Or with spinning. Or with knitting. Well, you get the drift. Apparently everything I like to do involves sitting.

Hmmm, maybe this explains my ongoing battles with my ever-slowing metabolism?

Friday, July 13, 2007

High Fiber Friday

(barely under the wire but it is still Friday here on the Left Coast)

The blog chi has been unbalanced of late due to the dominant Yin forces asserting themselves and overwhelming the more retiring Yarn energies.
To correct this imbalance, I hereby submit evidence of some actual yarn and fiber-related activities here at Casa del Chaos:


Twist and Lace Scarf

Yarn: Lisa Souza Merino Sock!
Colorway: South Pacific
Pattern: Twist and Lace by Brenda Patipa (also available from Lisa Souza)
Progress: about 50%

I started this while on vacation in Ireland. This is a very easy to knit pattern. I think I’ll really enjoy wearing it once it’s done.

Leaf Lace Shawl

Glorified swatch....

Yarn: Lisa Souza Baby Alpaca Lace
Colorway: Olive Tones
Pattern: Leaf Lace Shawl by Fiber Trends
Progress: Barely started (row 35)

This just came out of the Project Time-Out Closet last night. I frogged the whole thing and started over (due to the unequal size edge yarnovers). I’m happier with the new results.

I do wish I’d made a better needle selection. I’m using an Inox circular. The points are a bit dull and the join on the needle keeps catching the yarn. I went to my LYS today to get an Addi Turbo replacement, but once there I found that I had selected an odd size when I swatched. The Inox I’m using is a 2.75 mm and the Addi brand only came in 2.5 mm or 3.0 mm. I’m not ripping the shawl back again so I’ll just have to deal with the minor irritation of the current needle.


Clockwise from bottom right

Fiber: Winderwood Farms Blue Faced Leicester (BFL)
Colorway: Unknown
WPI: 14 wpi (appx) – slightly heavier than DK weight
Yardage: TBD

This wool was gifted to me by Lara. The color is a more vibrant in person than the photo shows. If I had this to do over again I would have spun this as a softly spun single to better showcase the gentle pastel colors.

ETA: I started spinning this at Black Sheep and finished it about a week later. That's about lightning speed for me and maybe even my best time ever (me: aka 'slowest spinner ever').

Fiber: Dicentra Designs BFL
Colorway: Longbottom Leaf
WPI: 16 wpi - about DK weight
Yardage: TBD

This is the fiber I started spinning back in April. I can’t remember when I finished it but it was before Black Sheep Gathering. I had planned to buy some more of this colorway at Black Sheep but Lisa didn’t have any and didn’t know if there would be anymore. It seems that Lisa dyes much like I cook – the dying equivalent of ‘dump and taste’ - so she wasn’t sure she had the ‘recipe’ needed to duplicate the roving. Darn! I’m not sure of the yardage at this point but it doesn’t look enough for much of anything.

Does the last one look familiar? No? It’s the yarn mascot – only now as a full-fledged finished yarn!

Fiber: Sweet Grass Wool Targhee
Colorway: Grass Valley Green (long since discontinued unfortunately)
WPI: Between 16 and 20 wpi
Yardage: TBD (are you sensing a theme here?)

Thanks to an excellent suggestion by my color guru, Angela, the yarn mascot is a vision in green, blue and purple tones complimented nicely by a charcoal grey lace weight commercial yarn used as the second ply. The finished yarn has a nice squishy-soft hand due to the sproingy* nature of the Targhee.

There seems to be plenty of yardage here (well, I haven’t actually calculated it, but it is a nice large skein)

I don't know about you but, my Chi/Qi feels better already!

*highly technical wool term

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Mr. CPA and I were doing some much needed yard work at a small rental property we own on a recent Saturday. The building itself is circa 1940 and is on about a half acre of yard.

The property had a plethora of “deferred maintenance” issues (real estate talk for run down) when we bought it 2 years ago and we haven’t quite caught up on everything yet, though it currently looks much better than when we started. It seems like something critical is always popping up and competing with the time we have available for regular things (like any additional yard work outside the weekly mowing and weed eating) . It’s a constant struggle to thwart the building's attempts to return to the earth and the grounds from looking like a complete jungle!

But I digress - back to my main story:
We started in early on Saturday morning and after filling a 90-gallon yard waste container with weeds and pruned branches (and stomping down and filling it some more), we decided to tackle the ivy that was starting to overgrow the rickety picket fencing still remaining near the front of the property.

The new American Gothic - with ivy!

Mr. CPA hams it up for the camera

It was a hot day so Mr. CPA and I were taking turns using the mattock so the ‘resting’ person could just use the pitchfork to pile the uprooted ivy into the second 90-gallon yard waste container.

Now I should mention here that just the previous day one of the tenants had called me to say that she had mice in her unit. We had the exterminator in the same day to take care of the problem and this episode was an added incentive to get busy removing all the ivy around the yard (ivy, it seems, is tremendously popular among the rodent set for cover and habitat).

So while taking my turn on mattock duty, I took a swing and pulled up a chunk of ivy. As soon as I did I saw three rat-sized grey bodies take off in three different directions – one almost running over my foot. I yelped and jumped back, dropping the mattock. “EEEEE – RATS!”, screamed the hysterical, rodent-phobic ‘lizard brain’*. But the more developed part of my brain quickly noticed, “Hey, wait, those rats don’t have any tails and…aren’t those ears kind of long?”

Bunny Nest

Evidently ivy is also the preferred habitat for adorable little baby bunnies waiting, quietly hidden, for their mother to return. ::sigh::

Two of the babies had run out and then doubled back into ivy. One bunny though had taken off across the lawn some distance from the family home and into another flower bed.

I took off after it to attempt to return it to the rest of the group (they were really quite small and I was afraid it was easy prey out in the open and so far from the group). It let me pick it up and it easily fit into the palm of my hand (I had dirty garden gloves on so I’m sure I only smelled like dirt). I took it over to the same approximate spot as the others. I wanted to return them to the fur lined nest, but they started to scatter a bit as I moved towards them so I decided to leave well enough alone. We placed some ivy over the bunnies for protection and decided to call it a day. Or a month. Or however long we think it will take to give them enough time to grow up a bit more before we remove the rest of the ivy.

I really hope mom was able to round up all of her babies when she got back…

(I didn't get a picture of the disturbed bunny nest until after this whole episode was over. I had the camera because we were doing 'before' photos of the mess. I wish I'd thought to get a photo of the bunny in my hand, but at the time I was too concerned for it to think about blog photos! After they were back in the dirt near the ivy it was almost impossible to see them, due to that agouti fur coloring, and I didn't want to get too close and risk scaring them off again.)

*The ‘lizard brain’ is the term we use here at Casa del Chaos for that rudimentary part of your brain that handles the basic functions - like breathing , sex drive, or an inherent disdain for rodents and other icky things!

Friday, July 6, 2007

A Fruitful Fourth

(posted late, as usual)

13 pints and 12 half-pints total

I celebrated the Fourth of July by making strawberry jam.

Thank goodness I showed an unusual bit of common sense and self-restraint and did not give in to my initial urge to also buy a flat of raspberries to process the same day. Especially given that I didn't quite finish up with all of the two flats of strawberries (they'll freeze up just fine for later use).

I love seeing all those finished jars of jam lined up and ready to go down to the basement pantry! There's such a nice feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction in seeing the visible results of my labors. It is a bit of work but knowing how much my family and friends will enjoy this jam makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Battle of the Sexes - Laundry Edition

(or, Men are from Mars, where evidently they don’t do laundry)

“After enlightenment, the laundry”
Zen Proverb

Female Method
Mom (aka ‘the laundress’) announces to the family that she’s going to be washing a load of light-colored clothes and asks for additional dirty items to make a full load.

Despite hearing strong denials that any additional dirty clothing exists, she manages to fill at least half a laundry basket with additional items. She proceeds to start the laundry, adjusting the water and soap levels as necessary.

Male Method
Dad, to self: “hmmm, these three shirts need to be washed.” He proceeds to the laundry room and places only the three shirts in the washer (despite overflowing laundry hamper immediately beside washing machine), adds a full scoop of laundry soap and leaves the water setting on “High.”