Friday, September 30, 2005

No title Friday...

You all are simply the best. I knew knitters were supportive, I knew that even if you absolutly think that vegetarianism is complete bull, you'd still be supportive. What I didn't know was how many of my blog friends were vegetarian as well. A special thanks to Erica for sending me some veggie recipes. Anyone else interested in sharing their favorite veggie recipes with me can e-mail me at erleca81AThotmailDOTcom. I can use all the help I can get! Thank you all so much for your support.

This week has be absolutely crazy. Busy beyond belief. I would have posted sooner, but I just haven't had the time, or the opportunity, or the internet connection as it turns out... I was driving down the driveway the other night intent upon getting online and doing some blogging and e-mail reading, when I was stopped. Right in the middle of the driveway a huge tree (and when I say huge, I mean it was probably 7 or 8 feet around) had fallen down from the wind. We've had some nasty wind these past couple of days and this tree couldn't take it I guess. After parking my car, walking around it, and walking the rest of the way down the driveway (my driveway's about a 1/4 mile) I get home to find the tree knocked out the phone line and I therefore couldn't get online. So it's not entirely my fault that I haven't posted!

In a completely unrelated topic...Yesterday in BIO lab I felt like Elliot from ET trying to save the frogs. I honestly had a very strange battle going on between my moral sensibility and my sense of responsibility to my classwork. Our assignment was to see what different sorts of creatures live in different soils. So we dug up samples from the field and samples from the forest, brought them back into the lab and sifted through them to find the critters. Problem was we weren't just supposed to sift and look through the dirt, we had to take the critters out and put them into a medicine bottle full of alcohol.

Part of me said "You're going to be killing these bugs and worms for no other purspose than to study and count them when they were perfectly happy living their life until we went in and dug them up." and the other part of me said "You have a responsibility to your school work and to your teacher, so just suck it up and deal." In the end, my moral side won out, plus my teacher told me I didn't have to do it if I didn't want to, I wouldn't get any penalties taken off my grade as long as I was an objective observer. People probably thought I was crazy because they're just bugs and worms, but I just finished reading those Jane Goodall books (which I think I've mentioned about a million times now!) and her voice was in the back of my mind. She even mentioned something about worms in her book! How could I go and kill them? (My lab partner was pretty understanding, and I think by the end I must have been wearing off on him, because he found a big worm in one of our samples and he took it and put it back outside!)

Anyway, in knitting related news, I've picked up for the lining of the mittens. I (hopefully) will be posting pictures of that progress soon. The baby blanket is coming along, though I am getting a little tired of the pattern which I specifically picked because it's simple... way to think ahead on that one. Had it been complicated, at least it would have been interesting! Ah well...

For those of you who are planning on Rhinebeck I hope to see you there! I've just recently decided to go, even though, being a broke college student, it's going to be torture to look at and feel all the wonderful fiber when I know I can't take any of it home with me! *sigh* ... such is life I guess. At least I'll be able to look and maybe meet some of you wonderful people!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Going Green

I've been trying to think of what my next post was going to be about, mainly because I haven't taken any knitting related pictures recently. (Though on a sidenote, I have finished the mittens and all that needs to be done are the linings and I'm making progress on the baby blanket. I promise I'll take pictures soon) It finally hit me today what to write about.

Ever since I read that Jane Goodall book, I've been feeling like I need to make more of a difference in the world. It's somewhat daunting because you think "how much of a difference can one person make?" Well, I've started reading another of her books The Ten Truths. The more I read it, the more certain I am that I can make a difference, starting with the way that I eat.

All the research I've done recently has shown me what a difference it makes to just bite the bullet and go vegetarian. It's less of an environmental impact, it wastes less energy, I'll save some animal suffering somewhere and maybe the most selfish reason is I won't have a guilty conscience. It's easy to turn a blind eye and say "I really don't want to think about it" and continue living my life the way I always have, but that does no one any good.

I know it's going to be tough for me. I do have willpower and I know I can do it, but it going to be difficult when I don't have much of a support group for it. My brother is vegetarian, so at least I have one person, but my parents aren't (though I think my brother paved the way for me there). I think my biggest challenge is going to be the people who don't understand why I'm doing it. The one's who look at me funny when I mention it, and the ones who try to tell me it's unhealthy (where all my research has suggested otherwise) and then I get the ones who think I'm a crazy PETA person. Part of me wants to give in and join the crowd, but then I realize I've never really been one to join the crowd so I try to ignore it.

This is a decision I had to come to on my own. I think I always knew I'd eventually do this anyway and have been avoiding it because of all the things I'd have to give up. Like tacos. I love tacos! Especially with the crunchy shells because I like to crush them up and make a taco salad out of all the fixings. Well, you know what? I found out today that they make mock-burger! And I know for a fact it tastes kind of like burgers. Maybe this won't be as hard as I imagined.

I'll step down off my soap box now. I just thought I'd let you all know because if knitters are one thing, they're supportive!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Mitten Tutorial

You've all been waiting so patiently, so here's the mitten tutorial. Or at least enough to get you started.

First, I recommend that you go and get the Magnificent Mitten book by Anna Zilboorg, because a lot of what I'm going off of is in that book. Also, just a disclaimer, I'm not going to go into too much detail because that's what the book's for. I'm just showing a couple of things that are a little confusing and hard to see with drawn illustrations.

The mittens I'm making are the striped band variety and start off by casting on 5 stitches. Next, knit five rows with the stripe in the middle.After that, the goal is to pick up stitches all around the edge of your little knitted piece. But what you want to do is make sure that the three middle stitches aren't affected.
Eventually, you end up with a sequence that looks a little something like this:

This is the point where you'll be picking up stitches and following the pattern in the book. It can be a little bit difficult to see where you need to pick up the stitches so I have a couple of pictures that should help with it.
Right side pick up:

Another way of describing the right-side pick up is it's the pick up that is done at the beginning of the row.

The Left side pick up is the one that is done at the end of the row:

Continue picking up stitches each row and following the pattern at the same time. My advice here is to take it slow. You don't want to go back because you missed one stitch in the pattern.

Eventually you will get something that looks like this:I know some of you are interested in how to do fairisle, not just fairisle mittens. Well, the best advice I can give there is to learn both ways of knitting, English and Continental. Practice doing whichever one you're less familiar with until you feel comfortable with it. Once you feel comfortable with both methods, then you can hold one strand of color with each hand.

This way, you can throw whichever color yarn you need, when you need it.

I hope this has at least been a little bit helpful and that's it's maybe inspired some of you to take up fairisle, or mittens for that matter!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More changes...

I know it hasn't been an extremely long time since I last posted. I'm still doing what I can to make myself feel better. I want to thank everyone for all your wonderful support. I particularly liked the one that suggested to knit all the pain into a pair of socks so I can walk all over it. I so happen to be working on a pair of socks at the moment, but I don't feel up to knitting the pain in. There's no reason for me to hold on to the pain at this point. And it was nobody's fault so I'm not bitter. I just want to knit and let the rythmn of it soothe me.

I am in particular need of soothing today. I haven't gotten much sleep lately, but last night was on the bad side and today, as I knew I would be while lying awake in the middle of the night wishing I were asleep, I feel groggy and my outlook on the world is pretty bleak. I'm sure with a good night's sleep, I'll start feeling brighter.

I've decided to quit the chorus. Not because it's bad and not because of anything that's been going on, but because I feel like I've just spread myself too thin. I thought I'd be able to handle school, work, and singing, on top of the commute to and from school (which is now going on 1.5 hours each way). As much fun as I'm sure I'd have, I'm also sure it might be what makes or breaks my sanity in the long run. I hate quiting anything, but right now my life is moving in a totally new direction and trying to squeeze singing into it is just going to be too much at this point.

Things aren't all dark and gloomy here though. I just finished an extremely inspirational book by Jane Goodall called Reason for Hope. For anyone who's looking for a bit of inspiration and is also interested in social change, I highly recommend this book. It made me ball my eyes out, first in frustration at how horribly we treat our planet and our fellow inhabitants, and then in hope that changes are being made and that we each can make a difference in the world, no matter how small. I've never felt more like I'm on the right path in life than I do right now. I'm positive everything that has happened to me thus far has led me to this moment and this decision to take my life in a new direction. It's such a great time and I should be focusing on that.

I promise there will be knitting content soon. I'm still planning on doing the fair-isle mitten tutorial, and I started a baby blanket for my cousin's wife, who's expecting twins, so I do have a couple of knitting things to post about!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bad days

I think Bridget Jones said it best. "Whenever one part of your life starts going right, other parts fall spectacularly to pieces."

Just when I finally find what I want to do with my life and I'm finally feeling like I'm on the right path, my relationship, once again, falls apart. D and I have split up and this time it's permanent. I'd rather not go into details except to say it wasn't anything either of us could control, and as much as we tried it wasn't something that could be fixed.

I may not post for a little bit, but I'll be around.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Awesome is one way to describe it

This weekend was fantastic. I had no idea I'd love volunteering as much as I did. Of course, it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was volunteering for something I'm excited about and the people I was volunteering with were awesome. It's excellent finding a group of people you feel at home with because they have the same passion you do (incidentally, finding knitters is this way for me too). One of the kids is not only into animals and has had a lot of experience with them, but we got to talking and it turns out he spins and knits!!! How crazy is that?

So my volunteering duties came down to manning the mountain lion exhibit. Everyone, I'd like you to meet Boo. She's one of two mountain lions they have there. At the time of this picture Boo was watching the elk in their enclosure that's directly opposite hers. Apparently she also likes to stalk children as they're walking by. I didn't see her do it, but that's what I was told.

My job was to talk to the visitors about her and mountain lions in general. Oh, and I had to keep the red wagons that people like to pull their kids along in away from her enclosure. It turns out she really doesn't like red wagons at all. Again, I didn't experience it, it's just what I was told.

It was sometimes more interesting watching the people react to seeing the cougars, especially seeing the kids get all excited. Though the kids that liked to scream and yell at them were a bit obnoxious. Sorry kids, but you were.

What was great about being at the mountain lion exhibit was that it was right next to where they had the stage set up for presentations. Here's where one of the zoo staff was giving a presentation on the otter. The zoo has two otters but at this point it's in the process of raising funds to build a new otter exhibit for them. It definitely helps to have some cute and cuddly (or so they seem) otters to make people feel generous!

There was also a group that brought exotic animals to the zoo to raise awareness. The kid I was talking about earlier (you know, the one who knits) worked for them for a couple of summers so he introduced to me to a couple of really cool animals.

For instance, the binturong . It's also known as the asian bear cat, even though it's neither a bear or a cat. My friend is the one holding the leash. A really cool thing about binturongs is that their natural smell smells just like popcorn. Bet you didn't think I was going to say popcorn did ya? So cool. At that point I already thought I was lucky for even getting to see something like that. But that wasn't even the beginning of it.

Here's the African serval that they brought along. Later in the day I actually got to pet him. Talk about an experience only two months ago I never thought I'd ever do! These cats are described as minature cheetahs. The thing is they don't hunt like cheetahs. Their prefered method of hunting is to jump and pluck their prey right out of the air. Can you imagine being able to jump up and catch a bird in mid-flight? Amazing stuff.

Later on in the day, after my mountain lion watching duties were over, I went around to some of the booths that were set up, one belonging to the group that brought all the exotic animals.

My friend was there and he showed me all the different animals that they had like a juvenile alligator, a coatimundi, a chinchilla (which, by the way, is the softest thing ever), lots of different reptiles and rodents, the binturong and serval from the show and probably some other things I didn't get a chance to see. But I did get to play with the bearded dragon and the macaw they named Sunkist.

To say the very least I had an excellent time and I'm really looking forward to all the other awesome things I'm going to do!

Friday, September 09, 2005

A bit of this and a bit of that

It seems I've survived my second week of school. Already I'm starting to feel like I've accomplished more in the past two weeks, than the whole of the past two years. I've been out of school for those two years, working meaningless jobs that don't have the capacity to make me feel like I'm making a difference, and now that I've started down a whole new road I feel rejuvinated again. I feel like I'm working towards something that not only could make a difference in the world, but will also allow me to feel fulfilled in my own life.

This weekend I'm volunteering at the zoo for a big exposition called Fragile Wilderness. It's actually quite a big event with all sorts of wildlife experts, educators and rehabilitators. I'm thinking it's going to be something like a wildlife fair with booths set up throughout the zoo and stages for presenting exotic animals to the public and I hear there's going to be a bird show. I'm not even sure what it is I'm going to be doing at this point, but the possibilities include face painting, working the concession stand, helping the keepers with the education animals, and a million other things including wearing the outfit for the zoo's mascot, which I think is an otter. It should be a ton of fun and the fact that I don't even care that I'm getting nothing but the experience out of it makes it that much better. You know it's something you love to do when you don't care about monitary compensation right? Hopefully I'll get a break to take some pictures for the blog.

Speaking of the blog, I just realized that I started this blog a year ago, so happy bloggiversary to me! I can't believe it's been a year and I've loved everything about blogging. I'm so fortunate to have found such an awesome community to be a part of! Thank you everyone for making my blogging experience excellent.

I also wanted to thank everyone for the links to all the hippo things. I never knew there was so much out there on hippos, or that so many people are obsessed with them! It makes me wonder how into them some people would still be if they knew about some of the things I've been finding out about them. They're interesting, but they are in no way cute and cuddily.

Some people were asking about the mittens I started. They're from Anna Zilboorg's book Magnificent Mittens. The technique is pretty interesting and once you get it down these mittens are really fun to make. Plus they make great Christmas presents. And don't let the fairisle scare you. Blocking is an amazing thing and almost any imperfection with fairisle can be blocked out. So if you're interested I say go for it. Maybe I'll do a little picture tutorial on the mittens. Would anybody be interested in something like that?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Is that a tranquilizer dart in your ass, or are you just happy to see me?

School was eventful today. And by eventful I mean, I got to see a raccoon have a tranquilizer dart shot into it's hind end. This wasn't exactly what was suppose to happen today. It was supposed to be an uneventful day spent out around the zoo, familiarizing ourselves with where all the animals are and how to get to them quickly, then spend a little time observing whichever one we wanted to.

Well, a couple of us noticed the bobcat acting a little funny, as if it was really interested in climbing up one of the poles that holds the mess fencing up. Later, when we passed the bobcats again, we noticed why. There was a raccoon up at the top of the pole. This caused a huge stir when we told the staff about it.

I got to be the lucky one who watched the raccoon and made sure it didn't run away (how, exactly I was going to do that, I have no idea, so it's a good thing it didn't go anywhere) while the vet went to get the tranquilizer darts. They even gave me the walkie talkie. You know you've reached a new level when being the one to hold the walkie talkie makes you feel special.

Unfortunately, class ended before I could find out how the whole raccoon situation played out. All I really got to see was it being tagged by the dart. But still, that's not something you see everyday. And this is only day three!

Monday, September 05, 2005

So I hope you haven't forgotten about me. I know it's been awhile, but you just wouldn't believe how busy I've been.

School is awesome, it's everything I expected and I'm sure it will be even more than I expect. After all, its only been a week so far. I'm still getting adjusted which is tougher than I thought. I think its the early mornings, then the working afterwards. Or vice verse as the case may be. Singing starts up this week too, so that's one more thing to add to the list.

Already I have a presentation to give in one of my classes. Of course the prof. made us draw from a hat to decide who goes when and, as is my luck, I drew the 1. Ha! I have two weeks to prepare a 15 minute presentation on the hippopotamus. I'm psyched because he wants us to make it interesting by adding some humor and I was thinking about playing that hippopotamus song. You know..."I want a hippopotamus for Christmas" song. It's gonna be great!

Believe it or not I have been doing some knitting. My sock is progressing nicely. I turned the heel and am working on the foot. But I'm not gonna show you any pictures of that, instead, I'm gonna show you a picture of this...

Did I not promise some Mitten Cakes? I figure I should get started on these because I can start to feel the chill in the air. And we all know fall flashes by and before you know it, it's Christmas. It likes to sneak up on you, but I'm ready for it. No sneakin' this year.

In totally unrelated news, a couple somethings arrived for me in the mail this past week. One being the new laptop I ordered. I love this thing, it's better than any computer I've ever owned. Not to mention they had a great financing deal going on, so I could get it. Otherwise, it was just not going to happen.

The second package came from Japan. Looks like my sister remembered my birthday. And you'll never guess what she sent me...
Is this not the cutest thing you've ever seen? The minute I opened it I remembered that she and I had a conversation about purses a little while before she left and she said she could probably get a designer purse while she was over there. Looks like she came through huh?

Funny thing is, I'm not much of a purse person. I usually will get one and use it until either it falls apart, or it gets extremely stained and dirty. I pride myself on being a low-maintenance, no nonsense kind of girl. Looks like my sisters trying to turn on my girly side.

And now for the not-so-happy news. My cat, Pookie, hasn't been seen for about two and a half weeks now. I've had her for about eight years and she was a gift from my first boyfriend. It really breaks my heart because I fear the worst. And yet, we don't know what happened. Sometimes not knowing is worse than the unknown. I like to think that she found another family and is doing fine, but the other side of me fears she's dead. If she is, I hope it was quick.

We do have a new feline addition to our family, though, that has nothing to do with the loss of my cat. My brother moved back home and with him and all his stuff came his cat. She's such a sweetheart.

Her name's Isosceles. Can you tell my brother is really into math? Only a math major would name his cat Isosceles.

She's a real cutie and she almost reminds me of Pookie. Or at least, their personalities are similar.

I'd love to keep writing and tell you all the little details of this past week, but unfortunately it's getting late, and by late I mean 9:30 and that's late for someone who gets up at 5:45am!