After-Christmas Report

Wow, blogging *again*!

Christmas dinner was yummy.  The dogs got their shank bones in the afternoon. Pippin eventually came in; the beagles came in when I went out and confiscated the remains.

Saturday we did some running around doing boring errands, with more interesting stops at Games Plus where Ron and Robin got X-Wing games, and I went down the block to Mosaic Yarn Studio and got a new knitting project (colorwork socks). Then we stopped at Target to look for a new card table, as the one we have is probably 40+ years old. We wanted a plastic one, like our banquet tables, but struck out. I decided to just exercise my Google-Fu, and found a 48″ diameter round table on-line, and ordered it. Yes, that’s larger than a card table, but Robin frequently uses a 48″ square for miniatures games, and extra space is good.

While I was table shopping, Ron and Robin were playing a game of X-Wing. Fun was had.

Saturday afternoon, while playing guitar, things started feeling odd. This is why:

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Kiyohime decided I needed help practicing.

Yesterday I finally got around to making the noodle kugel I mentioned Friday. It was yummy. I also made shepherd’s pie out of the leftover roast beef and gravy. It was also yummy.

This morning I started to go to work, and by the time I’d gotten to the intersection of Ela and Palatine decided that I’d had enough and turned around at a church just to the west of the intersection. Palatine Rd. was not in good shape, nor was NW Highway, and I was driving the Explorer, which is 2WD. And I lacked motivation. So this was my view on the couch a little while later:

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And now Pippin has switched to the other end of the couch. I expect dogs-on-couch is going to be the order of the day, unless I exert my rights and evict them, temporarily.

I should know that the weather is horrid when the husky sticks his nose out the door and says “no thanks” – horrid in a cold and wet way, that is. If it was cold and *dry* that would have been a different matter.

I went upstairs Saturday to get the last three mice of the latest batch for Kiyo and the baby girls, and discovered a litter of babies. We’d already defrosted pinkies for Wonambi, Shai-Hulud, and Danger Noodle, so some of the bigger snakes took care of things for us.

Henry shed about a week ago, and Fezzik shed Saturday. Here’s a picture comparing their scale sizes:

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Fezzik’s shed is the top one, Henry’s is the bottom. Henry is probably close to fully-grown. Fezzik is about half Henry’s length, but his scales are *much* finer. He has plenty of growing to do.

Which reminds me, I need to call Animal Plastics to pay off Robin’s birthday present skink cage (still in the waiting/design period, since it’s a custom size); and order another T8 for us, thank you parents!

Busy Weekend

It was a busy weekend. But first, a couple updates on older stuff:

Sewing: Not happening, because I’m working on leather instead.
Knitting: The yellow, blue, and purple mittens (of which Pippin stole one) aren’t much farther along, because see above.
Robin’s floor: Still there, but he says it needs work. Being that this week is spring break, he has some time.

New stuff:

Cranky Prognathodon is Cranky: I have to be in Springfield at 8:30 am Wednesday morning for a meeting. Bleah. If my boss hadn’t approved me for an overnight stay I’d probably have been cranky at him. But he did so I wasn’t. Well, I’m still cranky that I can’t do the meeting by phone, but I place the blame more on politicians than my boss.

Coffee:

Last Sunday I assisted and accompanied Ron on a quest for coffee, as in, the ability to make it at home. We have a blade grinder and a drip coffee maker, but the results of the grinder are at most charitably described as “inconsistent”, and the coffee maker is another thing to sit on the counter. Plus, we have an Breville electric kettle that we like a lot and use regularly, so we don’t need another thing to boil water. We got this nice basic (and not stupid-expensive) pour-over coffee maker from Ace Hardware, a hand-cranked burr grinder (because electric ones are bulky and stupid expensive) at Williams-Sonoma, and some whole bean coffee and a nifty  storage canister at Norma’s Coffee Corner, a coffee shop just down Northwest Highway.

So, Ron and Robin have been doing coffee in the mornings. I really like the smell, but can pass on drinking it.

Yesterday Ron got some more beans at Beans and Leaves, a coffee and tea cafe (with music circles some evenings) in Long Grove, and stopped at Crate and Barrel for another couple more canisters. And other things, that I’ll get to down below . . .

Pickled/Preserved Kumquats:

I picked up a couple little bags of kumquats, to try pickled kumquats, ala the infamous “Little Women” pickled limes of Amy’s humiliation, or preserved lemons. Saturday evening I cut them in half, and packed them in a Mason jar with salt. I decided that doing them in layers was not resulting in good packing, so I dumped it all in a big bowl, mixed it up, then packed it all into the jar (quart):

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Reading instructions at various websites, mostly this one at the “Food in Jars” blog, and this one about preserved lemons, the process is supposed to pull enough juice out of the fruit to make a brine, but kumquats are not especially juicy, so I added bottled key lime juice (and some more salt, to keep them covered):

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Looking at them yesterday morning, Ron suggested I’d added too much juice, so I poured some off, and added a little more salt. Now they get to sit for several weeks and ferment.

Not-Tagine Pilaf:

Thinking about preserved lemons made me think of a tagine that I’d made before, which is supposed to use preserved lemons, which you fry for a bit in butter. I didn’t have have preserved lemons, so I used fresh. Fresh lemon slices fried in ghee smell amazingly good, and the peels, while kinda bitter, are soft enough to be edible.

This time around I didn’t want a stew, so I made more of a pilaf. Fried the lemons (2) and browned chicken thighs (4), removed the chicken, added onion (one absolutely ginormous one, because I forgot that I’d just bought leeks, and had started cutting up the onion), and some orzo. I got the onions (and lemon and orzo) fairly brown, then added rice (1 cup), water (3 cups), a bunch of garlic puree, and chicken and vegetable base, brought to a boil, then baked at 350 for 45 minutes.

It was yummy. It was also too much rice. I was trying for just a little bit of pilaf, but got more than I wanted. Next time 1/2 cup.

Dinnerware:

When we got married we got Corelle dinnerware, 8 servings. Its nice, but not a pattern I’d have chosen. We never ever use the tiny cups, and the rimmed saucers are annoying to use as small plates, as they have divots to keep the cups in place. And everything has ridges/sharp corners, which are wonderful if you want to accumulate hard water stains. So I end up bleaching the dinnerware every couple/few years when things get bad – especially if tannin from tea of fruit is involved.

A while back I was looking at the Crate & Barrel website looking for small plates to use instead of the Corelle saucers. Not just because of the rim on the Corelle saucers, but also to encourage us to take smaller servings.  I found these little square 6″ dessert plates by the dozen, but didn’t buy at the time, because I wanted to look at them.

As I wandered around Crate and Barrel yesterday, I remembered that on-line shopping, and took a look. I found the plates, and also smallish square bowls. They’re nice plates, but I liked these appetizer plates, from the “Roscoe” line better. They’re about the same size (6″ round), and just feel nice.

So waffled, and looked, and pondered. Here’s the whole Roscoe line. The Roscoe white isn’t as bright white as the square box-o-bowls. The bowls in the box, which I do like, despite interior hard water stain-catching interior corners, are a bit smaller than the Roscoe bowls. In the end, since we couldn’t get a good color match, we decided to intentionally not match. We got the box of 6 square white bowls, and then from the Roscoe line 8 of the dark grey appetizer plates, 8 light grey salad plates, and 4 orange bowls, for when we want larger bowls.  None of the stuff is very pricey, so even with two more coffee canisters, it didn’t break the bank.

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When we got home I bleached all the Corelle, and Robin packed it away (except for the platter and two bigger serving bowls, which get used fairly regularly). Ron went through the other cupboard, and Robin packed up a whole bunch of coffee mugs, plastic cups, and we got rid of some somewhat mangy plastic cups/mugs. The Corelle is now Robin’s, probably also the mugs if he wants them.  We’ll probably also pack up our “good” Noritake stoneware, which is nice, and I could possibly have gotten appetizer plates to coordinate with. But I didn’t.

So now all the coffee paraphenalia is off of the counter. If we pack up the Noritake, as well as two salad bowls I don’t use – anybody need a salad bowl?  One is wooden or bamboo, the other is glass in a wood or bamboo base (which it lifts out of), free to good home. – I should be able to get some more things off the counter.

Where are we going to put this packed-up stuff?  Robin says the storage locker is getting full, I’m thinking maybe we can make space in the pantry closet. But packing up the Noritake then putting away boxes will have to wait until I get to the Container Store and get some boxes (cleverly, I asked for boxes at Crate and Barrel instead of bags, so we could use them for the Corelle).

To wind up:

And I did a bunch of work with leather and cleaned up bits of the dining room this weekend, too.

 

Stolen Knitting and Not-Dead Dog

Much of the weekend I was working on something like 40 pouches. More natter on that on the Otter blog.

But I did get a bit on the current mittens. As is my wont, I work on both mittens, doing a bit on one and then the other, so they leapfrog. This pair has a section of narrow bands on the fingers, and then a section of Komi geometric patterning on the palm and thumb. I’m making them top-down, got the last narrow band done on one mitten, and on Saturday afternoon was going to get the second one to the same point.

Except I couldn’t find it. I knew I’d worked on it earlier in the day, but it was gone. It bugged me all evening. I looked, Ron looked, Robin looked, Marmaduke looked. It stayed gone. I started to cast on a replacement, then pulled the cast-on back out. Hunted some more. I looked out in the yard, on suspicion of thieving by Pippin. No mitten.

I went to bed annoyed with the missing mitten. It hadn’t re-appeared come morning. We went out to get breakfast. When we got home, I decided to check the back yard again, in daylight (the flashlight function on my iPhone is impressive, but still…). Ron volunteered for that job, and found it. Pippin had stolen it, and since the (little) balls of yarn were tucked inside and the mitten pinned shut with the working needle, there was no tell-tale trail of yarn leading out the dog door, like the other time he stole knitting.

In Pippin’s favor, having seems to be the thing, not chewing. So the mitten was undamaged. And I suspects he only steals knitting that’s fallen on the floor, which I think this mitten had done. Knitting left out on a table, the arm of the couch, or even in an open tote bag on the floor seems to be safe.  And as soon as Ron walked in the door with it, he knew he was in trouble (not a lot of trouble, but still).

Anyway, here’s one of the two mittens, ready to have a bunch of ends from the narrow bands, which are alternating blue and purple, darned in, and then start in the palm patterning, which will be in blue:

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Alas, I forgot to wear purple for St. Urho’s Day yesterday. Sob sob.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Robin and I are both wearing orange and green. I have a green collared shirt, unbuttoned about halfway down over an orange T-shirt (and a denim skirt and navy leggings). Robin’s wearing an orange shirt, olive drab kilt, and black vest. I know Ron was talking about wearing orange and green yesterday, not sure he remembered this morning. I currently have Flogging Molly playing on my iWhatsit. Going to switch to Gaelic Storm if I have much loaded, or whatever vaguely celtic I have. And I have leftover corned beef and potatoes (not a cabbage fan) from last week for lunch, so I think that’s festive enough.

If wearing both orange and green makes you twitch, deal. My mother was Catholic, and a Kennedy (no relation to those Kennedys, AFAIK). Dad is a Scandihoovian Lutheran. Robin is just contrary. So orange and green it is.

 

Catching Up, Over Thataway . . .

I have a big catching-up post covering the last week, but its over on the Otter Necessities blog.

You really do want to go take a look, it turns out that Robin’s room actually has a floor! There’s photographic proof and everything!

And I condensed my yarn stash, but pictures of neatly-stacked bins in a closet really aren’t interesting, so there aren’t any. Here or there.

I finished a set of mittens this week, and have started another. The finished mittens are purple with yellow flowers, made from the leftovers from my purple, yellow, and orange Komi mittens. The mittens I’m working on now are yellow (a different one) and blue leftovers from socks I made several years ago, and some more of the leftover purple.

The purple and yellow mittens definitely need blocking. I keep looking at these mitten blockers, but I don’t like the cutouts that allow you to use the thumb bits as wraps-per-inch gauges, I’m afraid that they’ll snag floats. And the other thing is that most of the mittens I make have pointy tops.  The other choice are these longer gauntlet/wrist warmer blockers, which have smooth thumb pieces, but don’t narrow down for ribbing around the wrist.  And don’t have pointy tops. Maybe I’ll e-mail the seller and ask if I can get the mitten blockers with smooth thumb bits.

Or I could get Robin to make me a wooden pair with smooth thumbs, and pointy tops. We might even have plywood or other lumber of a reasonable thickness in the stash…

 

More Not as Planned

Thursday went mostly as planned. I drew a Germanic Dragon Corp logo:

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This is a picture of the draft. It has since been scanned, and traced and cleaned up and colored in Illustrator, and my craptastic hand-drawn lettering replaced with better lettering. The red and gold in the shield have been reversed, we went with the gray wing panels, and the sword blade is gray.

Unfortunately, Thursday evening Ron had to give up saying he was not-sick-dammit, and admit he was sick with an upper respiratory thing.

It wasn’t any better Friday morning, and using his nebulizer didn’t help his breathing, so off we went to the doctor. Two more nebulizer treatments at her office, with different/better/additional drugs still didn’t help, so she sent us to the ER. Although she did say I could drive, she didn’t insist on an ambulance. I also saw a doctor, since I was afraid I was coming down with it. No signs, but she sent a prescription for a Z-Pack (antibiotics) for me, if I did get it.

At the hospital Ron got an hour-long session on the nebulizer, along with antibiotics and steroids and oxygen. He eventually started feeling better, but immediately after the nebulizer treatment his blood oxygen level was dropping below 90% even while he was on oxygen.

You can see where this is going – they kept him. Happy Valentines Day, eh what.

More nebulizer treatments and drugs later, along with a distinct lack of sleep, and he was feeling better Saturday morning. Not great, but better. And the doctor agreed he was better, and turned him loose. We even had time to get lunch before the 2:00 MuseCon meeting.

I skipped the MuseCon meeting to work on a program book for the floodplain managers’ conference, and also ended up cooking two meals – chicken curry that we had for dinner, and a quiche of unusual size – made in the 3-quart sauteuse pan, with spicy breakfast sausage, cheddar, and onions. Very oddly, the egg and cream mixture got under the crust and floated it, so the crust is in the middle of the quiche. But it tastes good.

Sunday morning I started taking the antibiotics, after Ron picked it up Saturday evening (at which point I was waffling) with his meds. Hopefully between the drugs and not being as tired and stressed as Ron was last week I won’t get it as bad.

Had today off for President’s Day. I cancelled my dental cleaning, don’t think the hygenist needed my germs. Got some more content for the program book, so I worked on that this afternoon. Ron also had the day off, so we sent Robin off to school with the truck. We told him to call if the roads were too bad when he got out, and we’d come down and get him home, and he wisely decided to do so.

Knitting-wise, Friday and Saturday I finished the mittens I started at Capricon. Yesterday I started another pair. I’ll try to get pictures real soon now.

The Christmas Report

Tuesday the office was pretty quiet. Even quieter/more deserted today.

On Tuesday Ron and Robin went to Games Plus to replentish the supply of Robin’s business cards on the bulletin board. He did need to leave some more, but no business has been garnered yet. However, in a bid to try to drum up some business, Robin got a set of miniatures for a fantasy/SF football miniatures game, which he’s going to paint and then put up for sale in the store’s display/consignment cabinet.

Tuesday while I was at work Ron cut, folded, and printed some little to/from cards/tags for gifts. But I forgot to get pictures.

Robin’s Christmas presents arrived Tuesday, two kilts from UT Kilts (“Wild” model), who are significantly cheaper than a lot of places, but only do off-the-rack waist sizing. I’d ordered based on the waist size I’d supplied Alt Kilt for his other ones, which turns out to be too small, especially across the hips. Exchanged mail with the UT Kilts proprietor about the proper size kilt for his hips, and will be sending the too-small ones back and ordering the correct size tomorrow. I’ll probably also get one or two for Ron.

Opened presents after breakfast yesterday (a tradition that has driven some of my family members up the tree in past years, as did letting toddler-Robin take his time and play with his new toys instead of hurrying him on to the next presents). My stepmother thoughtfully sent Ron shirts in several sizes, and me fabric to make one or more new dresses (one piece of fabric, haven’t checked yardage, seems like more than enough for one dress), as well as gift cards to Kohl’s.

After opening presents, we got even more dressed and went to Brookfield Zoo. I’d weighed myself in the morning, and surprisingly have lost weight in the last week or so – I’ve been trying to be restrained with holiday treats, but I didn’t expect to do that well. I’ve lost enough weight that I can comfortably wear the jeans I have again. Ron says I look strange in pants, its been quite a while since I last wore them.

I ended up over-dressed (cotton leggings under jeans, t-shirt, sweatshirt, coat, scarf for my ears, and heavy gloves), as did Ron (cold-weather motorcycle jacket). We visited The Swamp, Birds & Reptiles (used to be the Perching Birds), the big cat row, The Fragile Rain Forest,  and Pinniped Point. We weren’t quite the only people there, but it was a very quiet day.

Since we last went to the zoo, over a year ago, several of the exhibits in The Swamp are of South American species instead of just North American. Not complaining, just a data point.

Most of the big cats (and the spectacled bears) were hiding from the cold, and the tiger was sleeping. The young snow leopard and his mother, however, were active, and right in front of the viewing window.

We arrived at The Fragile Rain Forest just before the keeper started working with the binturong. First she called the squirrels to their crates for treats and to not steal the binturong’s treats. The binturong was feeling lazy, and wouldn’t do all the keeper wanted her to do. Then the keeper let out a pair of asian small-clawed otters and gave them their lunchtime fish.

Got home and had a late lunch. We’d tried the restaurant at the zoo by the dolphins, but it was closed (not surprisingly).

After lunch I creased more to/from cards for Ron, and sorted cards and To/From cards that Ron had printed, to give to various family members as gifts, while he printed the to/from cards. IIRC he did 4 different designs – three Santas, and a Christmas tree.  He may start printing the interiors (“To:” and “From:) tonight. This batch will be for sale, so I should probably figure out how much they cost, at least in paper, to make (ink is harder to quantify, as the 1# cans we got are going to last a long time).

Got the mittens I’m working on almost done. I have half of one thumb to go, and then the yarn ends from the thumbs to darn in:

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The pattern is from “Selbuvotter, Biography of a Knitting Tradition” by Terri Shea. Selbu mittens (Norwegian) use a modified peasant thumb, which has a subtle thumb gusset. The yarn is Claudia Handpaint Fingering, the purple is “Last Night’s Wine”, and the light multicolor is “Crocus”, obtained at Stitches:

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I also dug out the wave mittens and orange, purple, and gold Komi mittens I made earlier this year. Turns out I still have a bunch of ends on the Komi mittens (from the thumbs down through the cuffs):

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 The plan is to finish both pairs of mittens off at lunch/this evening, and pack everything (including kilts to be returned) up and get postage/mailing labels on tonight so they can go out tomorrow. The kilts won’t fit in the mailbox, so I’ll have to either drop them off at the post office, or the outgoing mail at work.  I also need to invoke plastic and dispatch gift cards for some of the relations.

For dinner last night we had beef tenderloin and popovers. I’d cut a section off a whole tenderloin for dinner, just about the perfect size. Ron and Robin took care of the leftovers, and I don’t mean to imply that any made it to the refrigerator (or dog tummies, to their disappointment).

Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas, in case I don’t post tomorrow!

As one might infer, we ate a bunch of pasties last week – lunch and breakfast for me every day, except for Tuesday, when I went with a co-worker (as opposed to a cow-irker) to a meeting in Springfield. Should have taken a pasty, the McRib clone at our HQ building was eminently forgettable.

On the printing front, I finished up the snow maiden holiday cards on Saturday:

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 The “Happy Holidays” text is in my 18-point Parsons, on the inside of the card.

Doing these, we discovered an issue with cheap cardstock. Using Neenah Pape 110# Astrobright stock (which I think I previously mentioned is much thinner than French Paper Co. 110# Smart White cardstock), we get bleed-through of ink. It doesn’t show up right away, and didn’t photograph very well, but it is there.

Not being one to delay holiday preparations, I distributed some of the cards around the office, which is very de-populated, today.

Ron’s also been printing, he’s made calling cards for Xaplet Major, and proof prints of our various fonts.

Last night I sorted out another of the pied fonts. IIRC that leaves one that will probably get sorted, and the big pile of at least two itty-bitty (guessing 6-point) fonts that may not ever get sorted.

I think I mentioned previously that we want/need a bigger font for cards, etc., than the Parsons. Well, on eBay the other day I discovered someone selling new sets of Uhlen Rundotisch:

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I have lust. Its fancy, without being too fancy over-the-top. But we weren’t sure about the size – was 30-pt going to be too big.

Sunday morning, we had a knock-down drag-out fight with Adobe InDesign Creative Cloud (yes, we went with the CC subscription model about a year ago, because it was about the only way to upgrade one or more pieces of the software suite to get upgrades we wanted.), and dis-satisfaction with Adobe’s on-line chat support (you need real tech support, call back on a weekday), I gave up and printed out some sample text in Pages, Apples word processor:

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 As you can read from the text on white paper, it isn’t Uhlen Rundgotisch, but it is close enough for the purpose. My test electronic font has slightly fancier capitals and LC zed, but they’re clearly related.

The initial thought was that 30-point would be too big for calling cards. The blue paper is cut to modern business card size (2″ x 3.5″). Yeah, you can use it on cards, you just aren’t going to put a lot else on there. Also, Victorian calling cards varied in size. The pink paper is a quarter-sheet (5.5″ x 4.25″), which is the size of the Christmas cards I’ve done. 30-pt is a nice size for that. I think I’m going to buy it Friday. And also spaces, because it doesn’t come with any.

Uhlans are/were cavalry, originally Polish, usually armed with lances. That style of typeface is often referred to as “gothic”, and the bits of German I have floating around my head are gotisch=gothic and rund=round, so I think Uhlen Rundgotisch could be translated as Polish Round Gothic. Because I’m geeky in that strange way.

Do you detect a hint of 1930-40’s Germany in that font? Yeah, me too. And in poking around, I discovered that the Germany had a whole “Antiqua-Fraktur dispute” in the 19th and 20th Centuries, which the Nazis decided by fiat. Yes, as I said, I’m a word nerd. But in any case, it isn’t the poor font’s fault, and it isn’t as, um, loaded as a swastika. If you can feel sorry for a symbol, there’s a prime candidate. Kipling used to use it on his bookplates and it was on the covers of many of his books, but that ended with the rise of National Socialism.

Which reminds me, Robin is taking German next semester. Should be interesting, I had two years in high school, Ron had some in college. So maybe we’ll all (re-) learn. I can fairly quickly get to the point where I can can read German again, with a little help from a dictionary, but other than very basic stuff, my spoken is hopeless. But I watch movies with spoken German (usually WWII movies) and it always bugs me because I feel like I *should* be able to understand it.

Moving on to food-ish things, I made a batch of scotch eggs (baked) for lunch on Sunday, which we finished off for breakfast yesterday.

Dinner tonight is potato sausage and mashed rutabaga (an Ohman family Christmas Eve tradition), and tomorrow we’re having beef tenderloin. And probably mashed potatoes, because its Christmas, dammit, I’m having spuds.

Need to stop at PetWhatever on the way home tonight, hopefully they’ll be open, and get something for the dogs. I don’t love them enough to share the good beef, and I don’t think we have any more shank bones in the freezer.

Ron and Robin are home today. I wanted to take half or all of today off, but I ended up taking time off to deal with the car instead. But I think I earned some comp time going to Springfield last week (we didn’t get back to the office until 8 pm), so I might take part of New Year’s Eve off. Or not, since Ron has to work, too. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they get turned loose early anyway. So I’m waffling.

Anyhow, Ron did finally get InDesign working on Sunday. Keeping our fingers crossed that it really is fixed-fixed, and not just temporary good behavior.

On Saturday he made sure all the blocks we’ve bought were in his spreadsheet (got a bunch in the mail Friday evening), and numbered them all. We tried test-printing some of the larger ones, which led us to the conclusion that we need stronger roller springs on my press and/or to do some other adjustments.

Saturday morning, before we were started playing with letterpress, we went out shopping for woodworking. Robin is making us some trays to store wood furniture and borders, and some for himself for miniatures. We were debating how to do the joints in the sides. We weren’t sure the nice (and expensive) router bit that would do thin finger joints would work in our current router table, and a new table to use with the router that the bit would fit in was out of the budget, so we decided to go with a simpler joint, which I think he’s cutting today.

Robin found lumber to rip down for the sides in the stash, so all we had to buy were brads, a brad driver, and masonite for the bottoms. Ron and Robin cut the bottoms Sunday, and Robin cut the sides (many sides) yesterday.  I was thinking of paying Robin in enough lumber to build his trays, but since he found the lumber for the sides, looks like it’ll be cash or credit at the Bank of Mom.

Robin put the Christmas tree up Saturday morning, which led to a trip to Ace for lights. Apparently we got rid of the lights last year. That actually worked out fine, as all Christmas stuff was 40% off, and they still had plenty of strings of white LED lights. Robin also got some trees (meant for train layout/lighted village setups) for miniature wargaming, since he’s fine with flocked pine-ish things.

Last week, maybe a week and a half ago, I finished my mostly-black socks that I did the gusset increases and heels twice on. They’re still too tight. I’m not sure if I’m keeping them or giving them as Christmas presents to somebody with slightly smaller feet. Started another pair in Socks That Rock Mediumweight, this time I’m doing a less fussy/fitted foot, and using a basic toe-up gusset/heel, that fits fine in STR lightweight in my red/flame socks. I’m about ready to turn the heels on those, but realized that I should have been working on Christmas knitting instead.

Friday night or Saturday morning I started a pair of mittens for somebody for Christmas. I’ve finished the cuffs and am about halfway up the palms (working cuff-up this time). No pictures yet. Hopefully I can finish them tomorrow. I also dug out the wave mittens I made earlier this year, and I just got my brother and sister’s addresses.

Yeah, I’m a little slow on that whole Christmas-prep thing.

Staying home tomorrow, since I only have the one day off, and traffic, dogs, possibly weather, and too many years of going too many places on Christmas day, yadda yadda yadda. Not sure if we’ll be knitting, printing, something else, or a little of everything.

I’m Back

So, that was the last couple weeks.

Surgery was a week ago today. I took Thursday of last week off for the clear liquid diet and other surgery prep that was more comfortable at home.

Surgery was initially scheduled for 12:30. About mid-day Thursday the hospital called and moved me up to 9-ish – a change in exact time was expected, and earlier was fine with me, less time to wait. Then later in the afternoon they called again, back to noon. (with arrival times 2 hours pre-surgery). Ok, whatever.

About 7:00 Friday morning, while Ron was out getting breakfast and I was packing up my CPAP and change of clothes, the phone rang. My gut said it was the hospital again. It was. Could I be there at 8:00?  Yeah, I can. Fortunately, Ron was about a block away, so we finished packing up and off we went.

Blah blah blah surgery prep. What do they do with your arms during surgery? I wondered, as gurneys are narrow and if they’re operating on my abdomen, my arms can’t be on my tummy. Good question (and the operating table is even narrower) – they go straight out to either side. I remember getting onto the operating table, getting my left arm (with IV) on the extension, and I have a vague memory of doing something with my right arm, and that’s all she wrote.

Then I woke up really really sore and nauseous. Laproscopic abdominal surgery means your whole abdomen gets inflated, which makes your chest and shoulders sore. Eventually better living through chemistry helped, and they moved me up to a room, IIRC about 2:30. Pain makes me nauseous, so pretty much the rest of my Friday was napping, feeling queasy, and playing with the hospital bed trying to get comfortable. With the bonus excitement of having to stand (and not barf) for an Upper GI X-ray/CT scan/Whatever it is. Thank Ghu the radiologist was fast. The nurses would have liked me to get up to walk Friday evening, but going to the bathroom and back was the best I managed (being flattish helped the nausea).

Sleep, hah. My CPAP thinks I got at least 4 hours Friday night, it must have been in tiny chunks. About 5 am Saturday I got disconnected (IV  from power outlet, my calves from anti-clot massagers) enough go to the bathroom, and did go for a walk.

Ron came back. Mid-late morning I made the switch from injected to oral pain meds. Robin came for a visit. I had a bunch more mini-naps. Late afternoon I finally got sent home (I think my nurse actually delayed a bit at the end so she could get me a dose of pain meds just before going, giving us time to get the Rx filled).

Ron dropped me off at home, and went out in search of my prescribed liquid pain meds (basically vicodin syrup, aka the red heavy-duty cough syrup without cough supressant). Fortunately, the Walgreen’s he tried (after our usual CVS failed) had it, and the pharmacist stayed late to fill it. Which reminds me, I owe the store a thank-you note.

Saturday night was a bit better for sleep, but not much. Sunday night we got it set up so I could reach my CPAP controls myself, and just plain healing made it easier to move and sleep.

Every day gets slightly better. Tapering off the pain meds during the day, which is the nice thing about liquids. Today is the last day of liquid diet, tomorrow starts “week 2”, which is a slightly thicker diet, then another week of still squishy. Yeah, getting tired of drinking mostly everything (Jello at VS – woo!), but at least since the surgery I’ve got more flavor choices. And starting tomorrow I can have mashed potatoes among my mostly-thickish liquids.

My stomach looks like a war zone. 8 various small holes with steri-strips (fiber packing tape for people), one larger bandage over my belly button, several sets of staple holes, and an array of bruises. Lap-band and fill port installation, hiatal hernia repair (should reduce reflux problems), umbilical hernia repair, bruises around most of the incisions plus extras from some of the blood thinner injections, which were every 12 hours in the hospital, once a day at home, last one tomorrow, yay.  Ron says its much easier to do on me than it was to do them to himself. I had to do one myself, I can believe it.

Pippin and Elrond are going to be sad next week when I go back to work. I can’t say I’m thrilled either, but I think physically I’ll be ready. Although waking up still tired is no fun, its getting better – I’m not waking up nearly as sore, at least.

Been knitting a lot. Coloring/playing with markers requires more leaning forward, knitting I can lean back on the couch. Yesterday I finally started working on the Windycon book again, will do some more on that later today, and the pocket program.

I think it was Wednesday that we noticed Elrond was off, took him to the vet, he has another UTI. Last time was just before Ron’s surgery, when Ron was getting ill just thinking about the protein shakes. This time is just after mine. I’m wondering if Elrond fussed himself sick both times. He’s doing better now, though. Another win for better living through chemistry.

And now I should probably go for a walk. Which, BTW, is/was the main solution for the chest/shoulder soreness from the surgery.

Catching Up

Oops, haven’t posted for longer than I realized.

A silly little lab mouse:

Lab Mouse front.jpeg Lab Mouse side.jpeg

Since then I’ve finished a sock yarn Manta Ray, a Boo Bat, a Chickie, a baby sea turtle, and started a larger Rabbitty rabbit. Rabbitty is kind of on hold, as I’ve been working on leather things.  See recent Otter Necessities blog entries for more natter about that.

Last week I visited a cardiologist, who amazingly enough did not say I needed any further testing, and did say not to panic when they do an EKG on my on the day of the surgery, because odds are high the hospital staff will take care of the panic part, and send him the results to review, and then he will probably sign off on the results and surgery will proceed as planned.

This week I had a pulmonary function test, an upper abdominal ultrasound, and last night I had a sleep study. Hopefully that is the last hoop to jump through, and they can (expletive) schedule the (expletive) surgery (expletive) soon now.  Except the paperwork from the sleep center says it takes about 10 days for the results, boo hiss.  Surgery probably won’t happen this month, but hopefully early October.

I e-mailed the parental units to let them know I was going to have bariatric surgery about the time I last posted. One mother-figure reacted unexpectedly well. The other mother-figure? She means well but . . . expresses it in a difficult manner.

In more fun news, I made the mistake of getting Ron a planimeter to measure areas for doing stained glass. Do not ask me how a planimeter works, as far as I can tell they’re magic. We now have several in the house. Ron’s also been looking at slide rules again.

In looking at/for slide rules on eBay, he found a couple people selling CDs of old texts about slide rules. The sellers listed titles, authors, and dates, so I took it as a challenge and exercised my Google-Fu to find them on-line for free (out of copyright). A couple were challenging. One had the author’s name mis-spelled, in a way that wasn’t entirely obvious. The other was a little hard to find, and then I discovered the PDF available from Google is corrupted, although the on-line reading version is ok. I finally tracked it down to the digital holdings of the Bodleian library of the University of Oxford, and am feeling smug about it.

Other recent Google-Fu successes include a possibly-discontinued set of large hole punches, not-green scrubbies for prepping stained glass for patina (although those weren’t that hard to find), and buckles for reproduction of Civil War-era cartridge pouches. I’ll probably natter a little more about the buckles next time I post on the Otter blog.

I went from the sleep study to work this morning, so I expect that Pippin is going to tell me exactly what he thinks of me for not being at home last night. I’m pretty certain that Disapproving Dog disapproved of it.

Tomorrow night at midnight is the main deadline for Windycon program book content, and the deadline for final tweaks is two weeks from Sunday night. . My plan is to try to get a good chunk of the book together this weekend, because see above about surgery scheduling.

The first “normal” visit from the cleaning service was last week. Yes, this was a good idea.

Amigurumi Antics

I still say I’m not obsessed.

Since my last post I’ve finished Obstinate Octopus a BunBon, a Chickie, and a Lab Mouse, all out of fingering-weight yarn (mostly sock leftovers). But I forgot to e-mail the CHickie and Lab Mouse pictures to my Picasa account.

BunBon Side.jpeg BunBon Front.jpeg Obstinate Octopus.jpeg

Yes, the BunBon has giant pupils, and they’re purple. I decided he needed anime eyes. The tail is turned purl side out to give that fluffy effect.

The octopus’ tentacles weren’t difficult, but fussy times eight. They’re I-Cord, about half the rows start with knit into both the front and back of the first stitch, and then on the next rows you purl those two back together. Why?  To make the suckers! It may also help the tentacles curl.

Almost as soon as I found the plugin to make Picasa/Google and WordPress play nicely together, Google broke Picasa again: now I the editing function doesn’t work under FireFox. So I installed PhotoShop Touch and iPhoto on my iWhatsit, and I’ll just use Picasa for hosting, dammit. Layers in PS Touch don’t work quite like they do in “real” PS (you can’t make an adjustment layer, you have to edit your base image in its layer), but I’ve pretty much figured it out. iPhoto didn’t quite do it for me.

I also discovered that the (expletive) G+ app on the iWhatsit doesn’t talk to your Picasa/G+ albums. So you can’t post pictures from G+ to G+ with the app. You can from the mobile version of the website, but only one picture per post (the full website you can do multiple pictures per post). Google may still say they’re trying not to be evil, but “stupid” seems to be on the table.

Robin likes to stack my critters:

Kiwi haz BunBon Hat.jpeg Octopus on Splat Cat.jpeg

Obstinate Octopus starts looking rather sinister when he’s riding a Splat Cat. And the Kiwi is looking up at his Bun Bon hat.

Unfortunately, Robin is not the only one who likes to play with my critters. Yesterday I got home and learned that Kiwi, Manta Ray, and another (Splat Cat, IIRC), had gone outside to play, and Kiwi has two snags in his neck. I suspect Pippin. I’ll probably just run the snags back into the kiwi, they haven’t pulled his neck or the affected stitches too funny.  When I left today, I put all my critters in a box, up out of easy dog range. I’ll have to find somewhere better to keep them than lurking about the couch.

I’ll try to remember to post pictures of the Chickie and Lab Mouse. Currently working on another Manta Ray, will probably finish him tonight.