Excitement, with Dogs

My sister’s closing got re-scheduled *again*! AAARGH! Current schedule is Thursday, and she has the paperwork and it appears in order; so Robin is driving to Escanaba tomorrow, helping her move Thursday, and coming back Friday. Robin should be starting behind-the-wheel training for his CDL once he gets back (currently out getting his schedule, then coming home to pack).

Friday morning Ron took Tommy to the yard to visit his truck and put groceries away. Tommy enjoyed the trip, especially sharing Ron’s breakfast, despite twice attempting to hang himself.

And then there was Gimli . . . Gimli figured out how to escape from the yard on Friday, and did it multiple times over the course of the weekend. In order to find the escape route, Robin started clearing brush from the south fence line Friday evening while Ron and I piled the cut stuff up. And then Robin and I continued Saturday morning, after Gimli broke his collar and escaped again and I made new collars for both beagles. So the yard is effectively much wider now, except that it isn’t a yard so much as a series of brush piles (even without dog escapes the brush-clearing really needed to be done), which the plan is to run through a chipper.

Meanwhile, we had not actually found the prime escape route, which Sunday night Gimli demonstrated to be the east fence line. All 60 feet of it. Headdesk, headdesk. We’ve formulated a plan for dealing with it.

Ron left Saturday morning, so he missed most of the excitement of me trying to impale my foot on a small stump/spike (only a bruise and lump on my left arch, thanks to good hiking boots), Robin getting lots of minor scrapes and scratches, both of getting minor sunburn, and me clipping a couple Pippin claws too short Sunday night, so now my light blue skirt is liberally blood-spotted. Fortunately, the skirt was already spotty (bleach, I think) and disreputable. And Pippin was very good about us getting the bleeding stopped (time, pressure, and super glue).

Sunday morning about 3 am my body announced that the UTI I had a couple-few weeks ago was back with a vengeance for round 2. Eventually I got back to sleep. The acute care associated with our doctor’s office opened at 9 am Sunday, and I was there very soon after. More or less uncomfortable the rest of the day, improvement started overnight.

I was not up to the MuseCon wrap-up meeting/party Sunday evening.

Baljeet the baby rat snake did not eat last week, dammit. Trying again tonight, will try what I did last time I got him to eat (annoy him into striking).

Meanwhile, Ron’s temporary crown came loose yesterday morning. A Google search determined that real dental professionals say that denture adhesive can be used until you can get to your dentist to get it re-cemented. Then in the afternoon-evening yesterday, Ron ended up sitting an a highway doing a parking lot impression while the mess from a semi having its fuel tank ripped off was cleaned up.

When *that* was done, and Ron was therefore in violation of his allowable drive time and trying to get to somewhere to park, he discovered that Kentucky has some badly-designed off-ramps, and he got hung up on a guard rail. Apparently this is not an uncommon occurrence, and other similar ramps have been modified, but not this one. Headdesk, headdesk. After a chunk of guardrail was removed with a cutting torch, he was pulled back onto the road by a wrecker and sent on his way only needing two new tires, some tie-down straps, and a bungee or two. The officers at the scene were very nice about it all, and even invoked pizza.

But I was a stressed, Tommy was baying at various things out the window behind the couch/right next to my ear, Gimli really doesn’t grok this out-on-a-cable thing, and I was up too late plus not sleeping the best the last couple nights (see above, re: UTI), and still off this morning, and took a mental health day.

So I was home when Ron called and said he’d probably be sleeping at home tonight, as he’s got a bright and early appointment with the dentist tomorrow morning, as he has now, it seems, *swallowed* the temporary crown.

Robin just got home to retrieve a piece of paperwork the CDL school doesn’t have, which is needed before he can drive their trucks. Yes, he’s taking his binder of all relevant paperwork back with him.

In better news, the bruising and swelling on my foot is going down. Most of the above chaos is chaos, but not crises. And most of all, we don’t live in SE Texas.

A Week in Bullet-Points

I feel like doing some bullet-points today!

CDL training:

  • Ron’s been driving on the road, and “real” driving, out on “real” roads, not just circles around the industrial park.
  • Saturday’s instructor thinks he needs just a few more hours and he’ll be able to pass the test.
  • Which is good, because he tests a week from today.

Drawing:

  • Saturday night I started coloring the large version of “Shai-Hulud and the Fremice”. I’d had some reservation about a change I’d made to once of the mice’s legs, in ink, but decided to carry on.
  • And discovered that the reviews that said to use the back side of the Bienfang marker paper (relative to how it is bound in the pad) were correct.
  • So I abandoned that drawing, and will try again, soonish.
    Instead, I did “Smaug has a Flower”, pretty much a copy of a photo we took a couple years ago, with a baby Smaug peeking around a plastic aquarium plant.
  • I modified it so the flower is more like an impressionistic peony.
    Got carried away with the green around things, but not horribly.
  • I need to go back and add some darker shading on a couple of Smaug’s light spots. Which may not true to the photo, but as-is they look wrong.
  • Ordered three books (by one author) for myself, two on imaginary creature design and science, and the third a gallery of the author’s imaginary creatures.
  • A couple weeks ago we were at Dick Blick, and Ron found a good sized (11 x 17-ish, or it may be the A-series paper sizing analoge) LED-driven light box on sale. I said get it and call it my birthday present.
  • It is nice – Ron didn’t see a point in making me wait to use it, so I traced the Fremice using it. IIRC maybe half an inch thick, and adjustable brightness.

Weekend Natter:

  • Friday night I was pretty much a slug.
  • Saturday we were pretty much slugs, until it was time for Ron to go drive, when I worked on drawing, as nattered about above.
  • I did get my hair cut on Saturday.
  • Yesterday we were less slugly.
  • Robin had to go to open at Pizza Workplace (after closing Saturday night, boo hiss), and Ron felt like getting out of the house.
  • We waffled between Brookfield Zoo and the Field Museum, with extra “do-anything-at-all?” waffling because my back was stiff.
  • I was leaning toward the Field Museum, which led to “drive or train?” waffling.
  • I checked the Metra schedule. Train was leaving Palatine in 13 minutes. Fortunately, the dogs were already in their crates and we had our shoes on. To the Mongo-truck! (Trains only run every 2 hours on Sundays).
  • Yes, we made it, with a few minutes to spare.
  • Free parking on the weekends, lots of open spaces in the garage, and the Ventra app for ticketing helped make it easier.
  • Brunch at Ogilve station, then a taxi to the museum.
  • Since I couldn’t find my Field Museum membership card, which I never remembered getting anyway, we approached the member service desk humbly, craving their assistance.
  • Which was very pleasantly rendered. Cards should be (re-) sent.
  • We saw the “Tattoo”, “Specimens”, “Cyrus Tang Hall of China”, and some other bits of regular exhibitions on the way in and out of the named ones.
  • Those all happened to be on the west side of the museum, which is where I spent my visit last time. Next time I need to go through some of the stuff on the east side. Just because.
  • Ron took some pictures, mostly playing with his new wide-angle lens and the automatic HDRI mode on his camera.
  • Decided it was time to go, stopped at one of the shop for a couple books that called to me and weren’t available as e-books, and was also called to by another book that was available as an e-book, which I got that way, then out to a taxi.
  • I’d been pointedly not checking the Metra schedule at all until we got into the station and checked the board at the foot of the escalators.
  • Next train on the Northwest line was leaving in 5 minutes. Made it, but without time to get something to drink.
  • Got home, found and consumed beverages, and were slugly for a while.
  • Then I made dinner, loaded the dishwasher, and we were slugly for the rest of the evening.

Critters:

  • Beagles are snuggly creatures.
  • Pippin contends he’s not snuggly, he’s just forced into contact with us because we don’t give him enough space on the couch or bed.
  • Lummy has apparently decided he does not like radiccio this week.
  • Snake enclosure rearranging (moving a couple from the bedroom to the living room, who’s in which, and upgrading Kajura) following on from moving BPs to tubs has not proceeded. See above re: “slugly”.
  • The largish enclosure that’s been on order for a couple months arrived last week. Still un-assembled, re: slugly, again. I think Fezzik will be moved to it.
  • Nor have vacated glass enclosures been removed to storage. Yeah, slugly.
  • Got some indented kraft paper to try as a substrate for Buford, who has a certain special scent all his own, and which is probably best dealt with by more frequent complete substrate changes.
  • Large sheets of paper should be faster/simpler to change than shredded aspen, which is best removed with a shop-vac, and fresh stuff always always escapes and gets spread around the room while being put in enclosures.

Aaand, I think that’s about it.

April Marches On

The post title would have been a lot better in March.

Ron started driving today, in the training yard. Forward and back, forward and back. But butt in the seat!  Robin is planning on going to the Secretary of State office to take his first exam (to get his CDL learner’s permit) tomorrow.

Latest color version of a snake drawing has made a little progress – Friday night I finalized the outlines and inked them.

Stayed home Wednesday, with miserable sinuses. I hate weather and tree sex.

The mouse and Wacom tablet seem to have recovered from the spilled water incident.

The project to turn a set of shelves holding glass snake enclosures into a rack with tubs for the ball pythons was finished up yesterday. Lots of natter about it in a thread I made, with pictures, here:

https://ball-pythons.net/forums/showthread.php?246809-New-DIY-Rack-Mixed-Success

Short version: It didn’t go quite according to plan, but obstacles overcome without any snakes escaping. Two short enclosures that are in the bedroom currently will be moving down to the shelves at some point after Moresby sheds, so by replacing the tall glass enclosures with shorter tubs, we’ve gone from four snakes to six on the shelves.

Kajura is definitely settling. Tried to attack my phone last night, but it was hovering overhead in a possibly threatening way. After the unsuccessful attack, Kajura alternated between ignoring and investigating the phone. Kajura has gained 7 grams since mid-March, which doesn’t sound like much without context, but going from 16 to 23 grams is significant growth.

And, I think that’s about it for news. It was a week.

Higgledy-Piggledy Month

Since I last posted things have kind of turned upside-down and inside-out and higgledy-piggledy.

Ron and Toshiba have amicably separated, as of February 1.

Ron is working on getting a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) endorsement, so he can drive big trucks. At this point he’s passed the written exams for his CDL learner’s permit, not sure when he gets behind the wheel.

Since Ron has been at home, he and Robin made most of the baked goods we sent to the Capricon Cafe – banana bread, corn muffins, and many different kinds of scones (I did a few scones).

Nageswari definitely seems to be getting more used to us – she’s been seen out soaking several times.

Robin cleaned the pantry a couple weeks ago. Wow, space!

I could *not* come up with any good ideas for birthday/Christmas presents for my Mom, and finally in a fit of possible insanity I ordered her a reproduction china doll (with soft body) similar to mine, and sent here a couple Japanese-style outfits. She was thrilled. Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance!

More natter about things that have been worked on over at the Otter blog.

Last Monday I fell off the step-stool while spot-cleaning snake enclosures. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch. Mostly just stiff Tuesday, pretty sore and uncomfortable (and stayed home) Wednesday and Thursday.

I was going to do some sewing last Monday afternoon, but instead I spent the day flopping around the couch being sore and headachey (did go to acute care, they didn’t think I needed imaging after physical and basic neuro exam).

We have new neighbors (house to the north sold, finally), Mom, Dad, and four grade-school-ish boys. They seem very nice.

The weather last weekend was insane. 30-40 degrees F would have been warm for Capricon weekend. Mid-60s was mind-boggling. Then last week lower-70s.

Had the house open to get fresh air in much of last weekend.

Then it got cold again, and so for the last week or more I’ve been reminded on or off that my sinuses hate big temperature swings.

Capricon: Robin commuted and worked for Dave, Ron commuted and lurked around the Cafe a bit, I stayed home.

We have a new stove, since the oven died in the old one (a while back).

Also a “portable” countertop dishwasher. Was not willing to sacrifice more floor/counter space to a larger unit.

Got rid of the full-sized dish drainer and mat, and obtained a small mat and a roll-up grate-mat that can sit across the sink for larger items that don’t go in the dishwasher (cast iron, larger pots & pans, etc.).

The downstairs bathroom faucet has been replaced with a high-arch bar faucet, with a hose adapter, and there’s a coil-y hose with good spray head hanging on a rack in the bathroom. Watering snakes is much simpler now.

Got the drafting table mostly cleaned off again (see Otter blog), and used my big cutting mat.

Did sewing this weekend – two vests and a jacket, all un-lined. The jacket is kimono-style, vests have kimono-style collars, and square shoulders. Finished the vests, except for a good pressing that will hopefully tame trim issues on one, hand-sewing on the jacket to go.

Vests are to wear over mock-tee shirts at the annual floodplain managers’ conference next week.

Waiting on a new enclosure for Fezzik, Tanami, or Nageswari – depends on how big they all are when it arrives in a couple months. Yes, a long wait, but worth it.

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:

Blue & Gray Holiday Card.jpg

 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:

Uhlen_Rundgotisch_UC.JPG

 Uhlen_Rundgotisch_LC.JPG

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:

Untitled1.jpg

 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.

Not Completely Letterpress Natter

We did not spend all of last weekend playing with letterpress printing. On Saturday we had an SCA event north of Milwaukee, so that was our Saturday. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to overdose on dairy with dinner, so the trip home was prolonged by a couple stops for gastric distress. Dinner was a fried chicken salad from Cracker Barrel, which included a deviled egg, a chunk of colby cheese, shredded cheese on the salad, and honey-mustard dressing. Our best guesses are dairy in the dressing, really cheap “cheese” that hasn’t had the lactose fermented out, and/or milk in the deviled egg. Very strange.

Sunday we went out in the morning for new rollers for Ron’s little press. The person we got the rollers from is in McHenry, and at first we thought the increasing snow on the ground as we went north was due to areal variations in distribution, not accumulation. We figured it out on the way home.

Monday night I had an encounter at Eurofresh with a person who had issues with my driving and followed me to a parking spot to tell me about it – as best as I can tell, she was in a hyper-snit because I refused to turn left on a solid green when she thought the gap in traffic was large enough. And I failed to just walk away/into the store, foolish mortal.

Tuesday morning I had a low tire pressure warning, and discovered a flap in the sidewall of my driver’s side front tire. Snit-bitch had parked on the driver’s side of me Monday. Coincidence?

Maybe not, as John and Scott’s determined that the wheel bearing(s) for that quarter were in bad shape, so the flap in the tire may have been from whatever caused that damage. And I’d also be needing a front brake job soon, which would be cheaper by one wheel disassembly worth of labor if I had them do it now.  Which I did, because while it was a lot more expensive than Ron and Robin doing it, we don’t have a garage, and the brakes weren’t going to last until spring. The noise that John & Scott’s attributed to the bearings has gone away. I had thought it was noisy tires, as I had the front tires replaced in April. Apparently not.

After much flailing, Robin has signed up for classes for next semester. I don’t think he’s entirely decided if he really wants to continue with college or do Something Else, but Ron pointed out that whatever he does, college credits won’t hurt. And for him to be covered by Ron’s insurance he has to be a full-time student. (Although now there is the ACA, Yay!).

This morning I made the house payment. This evening I pay the deposit on tuition (Harper has almost-automatic tuition payment plans, yay). Plus car repair bill Wednesday night. Listen to the giant sucking sound from the bank accounts . . .

So this week I ordered envelopes, another printing book, and parts/supplies for the presses. I also ordered spaces for my Parsons type, because it didn’t come with any. Ron also got some type that didn’t come with spaces, but its in a size we have spaces for from other fonts. Some of the orders have arrived – I got the wrong book, and they missed one of the supply items.  I already own the book I was sent, so I couldn’t just say to charge me for that one and send the right one, which probably would have been my solution otherwise. Fortunately, the missed supply item is one we have some of already.

But we do need to find a really long allen wrench to put the parts on the larger press. The 6″ ones Ace has are not long enough. We’ll probably check Menard’s and Berland’s house of Toys tonight or tomorrow.

Sunday we sorted one of the pied fonts of type, and printed up some business cards for me. Unfortunately, a lowercase U snuck into the lowercase N spot in the type tray, so I’m a Eugineer. It would be more amusing if it didn’t have that icky eugenics connotation.

Here’s pictures of other print experiments, on cheap yellow cardstock that we had around the house:

photo.JPG photo.JPG photo.JPG

I think this weekend we’re going to try printing some Christmas cards. Wednesday morning, while home with the car in the shop, I cut and creased cardstock for cards, and sorted some of the press accessories.  We’ve also been sorting type into the plastic multi-compartment craft containers we got.

Tomorrow afternoon is Cookie Lab and a MuseCon meeting. Not sure how much baking we’ll do, since cookies are not exactly conductive to weight loss. Baking isn’t required at Cookie Lab, but then again, the baking isn’t the problem, sampling is.

Yesterday was the work Christmas party with our downtown Chicago office and whoever was willing to make the trip up from Springfield. It was at Pilot Pete’s restaurant at the Schaumburg airport, which was surprisingly busy. Unfortunately, the heat hadn’t been turned on in the private room we were supposed to be in, so we were in the main restaurant, which was noisy, and we were kinda crowded in. But the food was good, and not too expensive. This year the secretary who organized it tried something new – everybody just ordered off the menu and paid their own bills. It seemed to work out well, and saved her a mountain of hassle in figuring out a menu and dealing with getting money from people, no-shows, unexpected unpaid attendees, etc.  Hopefully it also dealt with the  people who have bitched about the prices previous years.

Last night Pippin discovered that yes, he can piss me off. I was cutting up cauliflower, he tried to steal Elrond’s piece of stem (Crunchy people food! Yum yum!), and discovered that The Alpha Bitch of the household Does Not Approve of that kind of behavior. Then he went out to the living room, got in trouble for trying to investigate Ron’s plate, and then came back to the kitchen to see if I was going to give him any more cauliflower.

 

Knitted Things and Other Knatter

Friday night I finished the shell on the nautilus. I took all my silly knitted things with me to the MuseCon post-con meeting/party, to show Wendy. As expected, she liked them. But I didn’t get any more done on the nautilus.

I got the eyes and tentacles done yesterday. The pattern for Knitilus Nautilus suggests 8 tentacles, but I had to check Wikipedia to see how many tentacles a nautilus has – up to 90. Ok then, 8 sounds good. Then I bought some more patterns: Glubby Goldfish, Sheepish, Lab Mice, Chickies, Bun Bons, and Obstinate Octopus, and made Glubby Goldfish:

photo.JPG photo.JPG

Once I finished the goldfish I started an Obstinate Octopus.

No! I do not have a problem! I’m not obsessed!

In other news, Ron and Robin did the front brakes on the truck yesterday (sounds much better now, no grating, squeaking, or chirping), and discovered that a chunk of suspension was broken. Ron dropped the truck off at John and Scott’s this morning, and since I definitely need the car tomorrow for an appointment and a meeting, let him take the car to work.

I’ve been alternating between working on the octopus and sewing swivels on tails. I’m down to the tentacles on the octopus (knit from the body to the tentacles), and 8 out of a dozen tails done. And had both dogs snuggling at different times. Between the tails and the dogs I’m covered in fur. Pippin has been very good about the tails – he’s sniffed, and he has to at least turn and look every time I open the bin, but hasn’t done any more than that.

Saturday morning I sat down to work on the Windycon progress report, and discovered that I hadn’t set up my style sheet (my term) – the document where I define all my text styles. That took a bit, but got it pretty much done before the MuseCon meeting. I finished up the progress report yesterday about 11 am, did a couple-three editing passes with Bill and Angela, and once a backup that was sucking serious CPU cycles was done, I uploaded it to the printer last night.

Marmaduke was over yesterday, so it was a good thing I made an entire half brisket for dinner. The locusts left nothing of it and two packages of vegetables but a little sauce.

Robin is getting positively domesticated: He’s got me slowly emptying the freezer of meat. I believe he has the ulterior motive of defrosting the freezer. I can’t really complain. So, for the next few days I have a package of elk stew meat, Polish sausage, and three probably-pork chops.

For the MuseCon party we took a bowl of salad, which was, to be honest, a clean the refrigerator salad. In it went three heads of romaine, tomatoes, carrot shreds, and some mint, all of which were left over from last week’s salad binge, along with some sweet pepper, red onion, and a sweet and sour dressing.

I just heard an immature hawk fussing outside. They sound vaguely like a seagull, but not quite. I first heard/identified one when we were building the kitchen porch. Last year we didn’t have much fussy-hawk, but this year’s fledgling is more so. But not as bad as the one two years ago – once I figured out what it was, I called a rescue group to ask if it could be in trouble (as opposed to just a crybaby, which was the conclusion we came to).

Robin left a while ago for the first day of fall semester classes. Hopefully this semester goes better.

Oops, Didn’t Mean to Disappear

I just realized how long its been since I posted.

When last we met, I was preparing to go to the annual floodplain managers’ conference in Bloomington, traveling via train. The day prior to the conference, a Tuesday, was one of a string of Tuesday heavy snows. Harper closed early, so I left early to get Robin. Ron also left work early, arriving in time to take me to the Palatine Metra station. Given the weather I took a train downtown that was an hour earlier than I originally planned. There was little to no delay of Metra, as it turned out, but I’m not sorry I did.

The Amtrak trip to Bloomington was fairly uneventful. There were some crossings around Joliet and Bloomington where the train came to a stop before the crossing, a conductor got out and made sure everything was safe, the train would cross the road, the conductor would re-board, and the train would continue. There as alo a high-speed section where we went 110 mph. Whee! Unfortunately, between darkness and snow on the windows all I could see was the occasional light zipping past.  In the end we arrived in Blomington less than a half-hour behind schedule.

At first I had trouble figuring out where my hotel was from the station, then I took another step away from the front of the station and saw the sign. Google’s tenth of a mile away estimate was good.

The conference was boring. The trip home on the trains was also uneventful, although the Amtrak train was packed to the gills with students heading home on spring break. I think one of the conductors said they had sold all but one seat. I got into Palatine about 10:30 pm. The Metra train stopped in front of the Palatine station parking garage (short train) instead of the station, which are about a half-block apart. Had we been thinking, we would have expected that, bet we didn’t so Ron was waiting for me in front of the station.  Oops, trudge trudge.

Pippin was Not Pleased with me being away. He rather pointedly snubbed me when I got home, for which I just laughed at him. He also spent the night snuggled up. He kinda snubbed me next morning, by the next evening I’d been forgiven.

Let’s see, what else since then?

Ron went with Xap to a funeral in Michigan last week.

Monday afternoon Ron and I had fairly routine visits to the family doctor. I have a bruise and a lump where they drew blood. My good cholesterol was low.

Ron has tomorrow off, and Robin’s on Spring Break this week.

Kind of fell off of the cooking from the cookbook routines for a while, started again this week.

So far we’ve done:

Grits Polenta with Kale Zucchini, Cheese and Sausage. The grits-polenta change is pretty minor, IMO. Zucchini was a suggested alternate. I think I used to much, it was a bit soft. But not bad.

Steak, potato, and green bean salad: I used skirt steak from Eurofresh, trimmed and tenderized. Also over-cooked a bit, but it was tenderized enough that it wasn’t chewy. I used “yard-long” beans (more like 16″ beans) so I didn’t have to trim as many tips, lightly cooked so still firm but not raw. Boil small spuds, then cut up, and douse everything with vinaigrette. I thought the dressing was going to be overly aggressive from shallots, but sitting on the hot potatoes seemed to mellow it. Do again.

Vichyssoise, although the cookbook referred to more mundanely as simply potato-leek soup. The recipe called for a pound of leeks, a pound of peeled spuds, six cups of broth, and a half-cup of heavy cream. I threw in the whole half-pint (cup) of cream. It was yummy.

Tonight is a salad with spinach, chicken, kumquats, and I think pecans. I’ve never had kumquats, which look like olive-sized (and shaped) oranges, before. I got some extra, Robin reports they’ve very sour at first.

Saturday Robin did a thorough cleaning of the pantry. I encouraged ruthlessness when we got home from errands and found the pantry exploded all over the hallway. There’s a floor in there now!  Also a box of not-expired but WTF food (like beans with jalapenos, and more cans of evaporated milk than needed for the canned pumpkin supply) to go to the food pantry, and a bunch more expired stuff that Went Away. The scariest was a bottle of blue cheese dressing that expired in, IIRC, 2009. We looked in horror but did *NOT* open it.

To assist I made clean-out-the-pantry soup for lunch on Saturday: chicken and onion (not from the pantry), broth, a small jar of red sauce, a can each of Veg-Al, green beans, garbanzos, and corn, (including the liquid from the veg, but rinsing the slime off the garbanzos) some jasmine rice, a partial bag of vermicelli, a squeeze or three of lemon juice, and whatever herbs and spices jumped – I think Penzey’s Bavarian and Turkish.

Four Humanities courses at once has proved too much for Robin. He’s not failing any, but his Mythology teacher suggested that he see if he can change the two mythology courses to auditing instead of credit, since he’s past the refund/drop date.

Finished the Van Dyke socks, currently up to the heel turn (working toe-up) on my socks from the “Flame” yarn.

Trip Preparation

First, the important parts: I finished my bag (pictures on the Otter Blog shortly), scanned in patterns, decided what yarn I’m taking, and wound balls.

Both pictures are pretty fuzzy, they’re really only good for color.

Here’s the “Flames” yarn from Lorna’s Laces, once again forgot to read the label for the specific variety of yarn, wound up:

From Drop Box

And here’s the purple yarn, which is Melody Superwash, no clue if it has a color name or not:

From Drop Box

This morning I packed. I have my red briefcase I usually use for my laptop, and my new bag, which is stuffed pretty full.

I was going to take the 3:25 train from Palatine, which is scheduled to get in 45 minutes before my Amtrak train. I think I’m going to take the 2:25 train instead. I’d rather kill time in the station than worry about delays. Also, Harper announced a little while ago that campus is closing at 11:30 today, so heading home early to get Robin anyway (decided he didn’t want to walk today).

Updates, Chicken Coconut Curry

Took Alleve last night and this morning, ear and throat are feeling better. Not perfect enough to say it wasn’t a problem, but cautiously optimistic.

I was the first one home last night. Opened the crates and two black-and-white streaks disappeared downstairs. Smaller streak reappeared while I was in the restroom, checked Robin’s door, then disappeared again. When I got downstairs both dogs told me how terrible their day cooped up in their crates had been. Pippin repeated for Ron and Robin.

Eowyn and Elrond rarely went in Robin’s room. Pippin doesn’t see why he shouldn’t, and Elrond is also getting the idea that its OK to go into Robin’s room. Robin, I think, quickly learned that he can’t leave things he doesn’t want dogs stepping on down on the floor. Elrond still won’t try Robin’s door if its shut, but Pippin will.

This morning I had a response to my e-mail to the ebook.inquiries address for the UK publisher for “The Fishing Fleet”. They don’t have US rights (which I’d assumed), and the author’s publisher is still trying to sell the book to a US publisher. the Audio & Digital Manager who sent it also said he’d let me know if the situation changed and an ebook became available (I’m assuming he means from his firm). So, not the answer I’d have liked, but I can’t otherwise complain.

Chicken Coconut Curry

This recipe called for browning boneless skinless chicken thighs, adding shallots, garlic, spices, coconut milk, chicken broth, and 1-inch chunks of carrots and sweet potato, and simmering until the vegetables were very tender.

I’d gotten pre-sliced carrot chips, so I cut the cooking time for the rest down by cutting the chicken up, and cutting the sweet potato into smaller bits. My cunning plan of letting it simmer in the oven at the same time as the rice worked, the curry and the rice were done at the same time.
I thought three pounds of chicken was a bit much for the three of us, so I cut that in half, and eyeballed what seemed to be about half the carrot called for. I didn’t cut down the sweet potato, shallots, spices, or liquid. I used dried lemon grass instead of fresh, which was a mistake, as it was still pretty chewy. Next time I’ll use fresh lemongrass stalks, which should be easier to fish out or avoid.

Flavor-wise this was more of a Thai than an Indian curry – ginger, garlic, fish sauce (skipped), lemon grass, shallots, and curry powder (we used Penzey’s Maharajah).

It was yummy. I have some of the leftovers for lunch.

Tonight is the shepherd’s pie.