Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It was a bit warmer yesterday, but it's getting colder again.
The cardinals, chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches like our safflower feeder.
Eli said the snow was going down his neck, so he didn't stay out long.
Robbie skied in the alley. He needs new boots--his are too small so he had to wear Bruce's boots and skis.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
He's a British Robin--I didn't have quite the right brown for him--should be a bit lighter. Still, he's cute.
I think I'll make some Iowa goldfinches once I can find some bright yellow yarn!
The birds had a tough night of it last night--we had blizzardy winds and icy temps. We got up this morning to find the thermometer at -10F. Ugh. It's warmer now (maybe -1) but the winds are still nasty. I'm staying in to crochet and watch a movie called Center Stage, supposedly a fiction piece about the ABT.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Yes, it's a front post double crochet! At least that's half of it. But the rest is easy.
The pattern: 3 fpdc, 3 bpdc (back post dc). You do a bpdc the same as a fpdc, but just from the back of the work. YO, insert the hook from right to left around the post, YO, etc.
On the next row, alternate. That makes the lovely basket weave pattern.
My foundation row is just plain dc.
Keep in mind:
- this goes slow--each row overlaps a bit with the one before it, so you make progress about 3/8 inch at a time
- it makes a very thick fabric. You may have to crochet your pattern bigger to make up for the thickness of the fabric . . . something I didn't consider when I started my project :-(
I'll do some small projects for a bit and then come back.
And if anyone has any thoughts about how to deal with a project that looks like it might be too small, let me know. One idea I have: crocheting around the sides and shoulder seams to make it bigger. Might make pretty seams to have something different along them . . . maybe a crocheted cable, or even just a row of plain dc.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Mini review (in my Reader's Notebook):
Scientific explanations of what happens in "A Day in the Life of Your Body."
I like this kind of non-fiction, books that make science come alive. This one's angle, following the body's activities through a day, is clever and fun.
I found out the title of the book is also the title of a 1995 song by King Crimson.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
On the way to Robbie's trumpet lesson the other day, we were listening to a story about Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on NPR. His profanity-laced (bleep-laced), corrupt statements filled the car. What a slime-ball.
"I think the coolness factor of swear words is going to fall because of him," I commented.
It's true. We haven't heard as many swear words in our house since the story broke, even from the person who, when about 8, said to me "Mom, aren't swear words cool?" (Robbie denies saying this, but I heard it from his lips.)
When the occasional swear word does occur here, all I have to do is yell downstairs (where video games seem to cause occasional swearing) "is Governor Blagojevich down there?" No more swearing.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Besides the usual ingredients, they have candied fruit, strong coffee, and anise flavoring.
The cookies are Pfeffernusse, or, as my grandmother called them, peppernuts. They must be some odd variety, because most recipes I've seen for pfeffernusse call for the anise, but other than that are basic refrigerated butter-and-sugar cookies. My friend Karen makes them.
Ours are strange, but we all love them! When Grandma couldn't make them anymore, Mom did. Then I took over. Now it's tradition that I bake them.
It's an all-day project. First you make the very sticky dough, made with honey and corn syrup, as well as those odd ingredients. Chill the dough. Make small balls and bake them. Cool. Then dip them in icing made by boiling sugar, water, and anise.
Finally, roll them in powdered sugar.After all that, the icing hardens so they stay fresh pretty long, and freeze well.
I divided the batch in 3rds and sent some off to my siblings, who love them. Might as well; they're a little too weird to take to a cookie exchange or give to the mailman!
Friday, December 12, 2008
I like this pattern and this yarn because it gives a kind of Fisherman's Knit look: bulky, textured, and warm. I had considered doing some crocheted cables (had a nice pattern) but I didn't like the way they worked up. Crochet can look very clunky sometimes, with chunky rows that fold in on each other. So I opted for this "basketweave" stitch instead. It makes a better whole fabric than many of the cable-y stitches, and it almost looks like knit basketweave.
The only trouble with this basketweave is it goes very slowly. It's almost two layers of yarn for each row, as you crochet "around the post" to make those neat basketweaves. That also means I'm using a lot of yarn!
Why didn't I just knit a fisherman's knit sweater, you say? I'm really a beginning knitter, and much more comfortable with crochet. In fact, I'm designing the sweater myself, working it out based on 3 different patterns. Crochet's construction makes it easier to tear out mistakes, too, and when you're making it up as you go along, this is important!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Normally, I finish books I start. But not always.
I started this book with the expectation of enjoying it. I love "family under stress" novels and generally like 1st novels and novels from the UK. But I read the first two "Junes" of Three Junes, and I'm not going to read the last.
My 1 sentence book summary: Members of a Scottish family, most notably the gay son, have trouble communicating with others as they go through life and consider their past.
I couldn't figure out why this book won an award. Normally, I've enjoyed National Book Award winners. I read some reviews. The author called the "Three Junes" a triptych. Nice metaphor. But I didn't like the characters (nor did I find them intriguing), and the story, especially the middle "June", rambled along pretty loosely. So I just stopped reading
Oh well. Time for a new book!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Despite the busy times, I put up my mom's creche during the first week of Advent--I think she always put it up then, too. I wanted a star to hang above the stable, but couldn't find one I liked. But then I saw this beautiful berry wreath and knew that's what I wanted above the creche.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Scabbers and Link
Fredrick and Snickers
*Btw the basement hawks are a rare species of invisible hawk that apparantly lives in our basement.
Monday, November 24, 2008
(No, you can't look inside; I got my image from Amazon!)
A young teen girl observes the reactions of her small-town neighbors when a camp for Japanese-Americans is built nearby during WWII.
(This is also our choice for the 2009 Linn Area Reads book.)
When an editor is slain in the newsroom of a New York Times-like newspaper, chaos ensues. Delightfully mordant humor with Dickensian names and characters.
Tell me what you've been reading.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Here is the largest key compared to the smallest one. The largest is 7 1/2 inches while the smallest is just under 1 inch.
This one I'm not to sure about. If you know email me (my address is BobMackelson@gmail.com).
This is the largest key. I think it is a key to city or some other type of ceremonial key.
I got all these keys at an antique store called antique avenue. I would recommend going there.
I bought this wool-blend yarn on sale today so I can make myself a sweater. I've always wanted to crochet an aran sweater, so I'm going to do that. I didn't find a pattern I like, so I'm combining a few patterns--one to get the right sizing, another to get the right shape, and another for the basic stitch, a mini-cable. I'm thinking of adding some more fancy stitches, at least on the front panels (it'll be a cardigan).
That sounds kind of crazy and difficult when I write it out. But as for altering and combining patterns--when do I NOT do this??? There are very few items, garments especially, that I make exactly as the pattern says. I'm always altering, combining patterns, etc. etc. I'm pretty good at doing this in sewing, and I'm becoming a better crocheter, so I should be OK.
Let's hope this one works!
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
There is a long story of how Eli came to acquire this game but to make it short, he sold a Game boy Advance and bought it from Gamerz, a video game store in Iowa City. The game, Mario All Stars, is not a sports game as the title sounds, but a collection of the Mario games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Famicom Disk System. The games it includes are the Super Mario Bros. series (1,2, and 3) and Mario Bros. 2 Japanese Version. The games have graphics updated to the Super Nintendo's 16-bit color, and new music. One of the drawbacks , however, is the fact that the controls are still the original ones which are not very precise.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Election Day was quite exciting at our house.
Bruce had his usual stint at the local radio station, giving political analysis as the counts were coming in. He enjoys doing that--maybe you know that his original career goal was to be a radio announcer.
I had to teach that evening, so the boys had their favorite babysitter, Courtney, over.
They didn't spend the evening playing retro video games, like they usually do with Courtney--they watched the election returns!
Robbie had a US map and red and blue pens--a project for his social studies class. Eli was just interested in watching. We'd taken both of them to the caucuses in January, so they've been part of this all along.
Caucuses are great interactive theatre, by the way, and a great place to introduce kids to politics. The democrats elect their nominee with their feet, as in "everyone who's caucusing for Hillary, over in that corner. Obama, you guys come on up here." Then we count off how many people are in each group, determine which groups are viable, and reshuffle if necessary. Goofy! And very exciting.
We were all excited to see Obama slowly pull ahead--at first by just 200,000 votes, and then by more and more. I sent the boys to bed just before McCain gave his gracious concession speech.
Now we're looking at a new era, and it's exciting. I can't even imagine wanting to be president at a time like this, but I'm glad it'll be Obama.
I wasn't sure about him at first. I knew I'd go for a democrat because I agree with their policies; I just wasn't sure he was the one. But I was slowly convinced by his thoughtful, rational explanations of his positions (he is a former college professor!); his determination not to use the "us-and-them" approach--"we're not red states and blue states but the United States;" his coolness in stressful situations. And all of us in the Rhetoric department are thrilled--THRILLED--that we now have a president who is an eloquent and knowledgeable speaker!
That's why I voted for him: I think he has the makings of an excellent national leader.
It's odd how much of the news coverage is about the symbolism of this race: a bi-racial person was elected President--that means we are no longer racist in America! Or whatever. I agree that this election has a lot of symbolic weight--probably more for people of color than for me. But we all elected Obama--well I did--because we thought he was the best person for the job, and in a way, it didn't matter whether he was bi-racial or African-American or white. I was shocked to hear the radio reports about how some people found it difficult to support him because he's dark-skinned.
I hope that the symbolism isn't "now a dark-skinned person can be president" but "now the best person, no matter what they look like, can be president."
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Plus the timing was right, as Halloween is next Friday! I made it out of some midnight blue cheap acrylic worsted from my stash.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Bruce said "I'm going to have to borrow those." I said, "I made them for your office!"
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
It's not really a recipe, more like instructions: 10 apples, chopped and 1/2 c. H2O in a crockpot on low for 4-6 hours. They say to add sugar 3/4 c. at the end and cinnamon as you serve. I don't think I'll need sugar, and I'll add a cinnamon stick, too.
The apples are really nice ones, from a century farm (the farm where Steve is building the Easter Island head--Ann is Steve's wife). The apples are dark, dark red, almost purple, which doesn't really show in this photo. They have Delicious-type bumps on the blossom end, but they're more round in shape. They're hard like Delicious, but much more tangy and flavorful. They kept their shape so well that when I made applesauce with them last week, I had to mash them a bit. With a potato masher.
I'd love to know the variety. They seem to be resistant to disease.
I saved out a half dozen of the big ones. My plan is to make a pie with those tomorrow.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
He's been telling us about his biggest sculpture yet-get this:
This is the back of the sculpture. It's hollow, and you can go inside. He's going to close it up with one more panel.
Here's Steve in his art shed. It has a forge where he makes bronze.
Here are some scraps from old cars. "Those are free," he told us. He uses the old hoods to make yard art birds. Here Steve is demonstrating a roller that shapes fairly thick metal. The boys were fascinated with this.
Here's the head one more time. It's almost done! Just about time for a big head party!
"Was it that big Abingdon Bible Commentary?" Bill asked. Grandpa H. was a life-long Adult Sunday school teacher at the Methodist Church.
"No," I said. "It was a black bible, and it lived on the end table in the living room, near that big greyish chair he used to sit in, the one that Grandma had recovered after he died. Don't you remember it sitting there? It had lots of bookmarks in it."
We talked about it for a while--about Grandmpa and his study in the upstairs of the house with Grandpa's big desk (Bill has that now, in his office at work), and the two shelves of commentaries and books of 19th century sentimental poets.
Bill didn't remember the bible on the end table--he was 5 or 6 when Grandpa died. He didn't see it when he sorted through stuff.
"But I know where it is," he told me. "It's in your memory. And it's sitting there on the end table. And you know you can always find it there."
And he's right. It's right there, and Grandpa's right there, too.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Here are some of the pesto ingredients. Yes, I use walnuts instead of pinenuts. I like the taste better, and they're a bit cheaper.
Robbie and I made a cooking show video with the HandiCam I bought for our department last week. We'll get it edited and post it here later.