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Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2010

tree-25dec2010

I’m croaking out a Merry Christmas to everyone who is celebrating today! Be glad you can’t hear my actual voice. If anything comes out at all, it’s a croak. But really I sound worse than I feel. In the picture above is a pottery Christmas tree ornament a friend made me, and yes that is a frog face over to the right. Other than the croaky voice, it’s been a quiet but good Christmas. It’s also been a rare white Christmas for this part of the world. Snow in January and February isn’t so unusual but snow at Christmas is very unusual. So I’ll give you a little bit of Christmas humor to finish off the day and sign off.

The Night Before Christmas by John Cleese.

A Christmas story in cookie dough.

The Engineer Cat Guys.

Katie-25dec2010 "What do you mean I’m not an appropriate mantle
decoration?"
– Katie

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Post Halloween Wrap-Up

November 7, 2010

I know I’m late posting about Halloween. Better late than never.  Rather than NaNoWriMo, I’m trying to do art every day this month.  Since I’m notoriously bad at these things, I promised myself that I wouldn’t beat myself up about it if I miss some days.  Anyway, on to Halloween.

We usually have lots of trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. They actually come in large groups in trucks, vans, and trailers.  It’s probably a good thing I didn’t need to drive anywhere because I’m not sure I could have gotten out of the driveway.  This year, I even ran out of candy way early, so no leftovers for me.

Chris had a link to fuzzy-headed pumpkins on one of her Friday linkity posts, so I had to give it a try.  By the way, each Friday Chris has one of the best linkity posts around.  Give yourself plenty of time to go through it.  So I painted faces on my little pumpkins and then looked for hair. I have plenty of unspun fiber, but I could never get it working quite right. I ended up using yarn to make Rasta-headed pumpkins with some of my not so successful hand-spun yarn.

rastapumpkins-7nov10

I also carved a pumpkin.

pumpkins-7nov10

The one of the left is ceramic. The one on the right is the one I carved. It was harder to carve than I thought it would be. I had a few knife slips but nothing too obvious.

Once I ran out of candy, I went across the street where they always have an open house on Halloween to help them give out candy. I swear I thought I had bought enough candy but it was still a fun night.

katie-7nov10

“Mom, I don’t see anything in here for me.” – Katie

And Then They Were Gone

October 10, 2010

I’ve been watching the hummingbirds at my feeder all summer. As it got closer to the end of summer, there were more and more hummingbirds at the feeder. Sometimes as many as four at one time. Most of the time they would chase each other off. Some days, they were too hot and thirsty to play the chase game. Some of the hummingbirds figured out that if they approached the feeder at just the right angle, they could sneak a drink without being seen.  (Click to embiggen.)

hummingbirds-19sep2010

They trick me every year though. Just when I decide that I’m not putting enough sugar water in the feeder, they are gone and I a feeder full of sugar water. This year they left town right at the stroke of fall. One day the feeder is busy and the next it’s abandoned.

I swear I keep trying to post more often but the long hours lately haven’t left much posting time.  It’s getting better though. In the meantime, here’s some things I’ve found on the Internet.

Found on the Internet

This illustrated guide to a PhD keeps it all in perspective.

Star Wars done with paper. I love the animation and the music in this video. I’ve watched it several times already.

Why cats suck at social media, although there are some cats on Twitter who have way more followers than I do. 

I’m kind of fascinated by this mind-bending geologic time spiral from the USGS. It’s available in poster form too.

Speaking of mind-bending, this mash-up of Pink Floyd and the Bee Gees, Stayin’ Alive In The Wall, is strange but surprisingly catchy. Watch out for ear worms.

A Visitor

Katie cat has an admirer. He/She wants Katie to come out and play, but Katie will have nothing to do with it. There’s nothing but hissing, spitting, and growling from her side while Stray Cat runs his paws and claws longingly down the glass.

straycat-19sep2010

“Oh you beautiful gray cat, won’t you
come out and play with me?” – Stray Cat

straycat2-19sep2010

“Mom, there’s a Peeping Tom outside!” – Clyde

What I was doing when I should have been posting here

August 29, 2010

Okay, so it hasn’t been all work lately. Here’s some things I’ve been doing and finding when I could have been posting here.

Local stuff

There was my favorite festival, the W. C. Handy Music Festival.  For one week you can find live music almost anywhere in town.  There are free outdoor concerts, live music at most restaurants and bars, live music at schools and churches, and an art exhibit.

sunset-aug2010  

A sunset hike at Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge with a local group.

hummingbird-aug2010

Watching the hummingbirds chase each other around my feeder. Either there was a bumper crop of baby hummingbirds this year or they are migrating through or a little of both. I’ve seen as many as 5 hummingbirds around the feeder. (Click photo to embiggen.)

Web Stuff

This to That tells you which glue to use to glue anything to anything else (via How About Orange).

A funny video about spiders and drugs. (Make sure you watch to the end.)

Another video that’s not what it seems about a mouse, a mouse trap, and cheddar cheese by an animatronics and robotics specialist.

I’m not a quilter but the Victoria and Albert Museum has an online software that converts an uploaded image into a quilt pattern. It seems like you could also use it for other purposes, such as mosaics (which I also don’t do).

This Molecular Gastronomy Kit from ThinkGeek looks intriguing and a little scary when you look at the kit contents.

Awwww… Tiger kitten. Check out those paws!

Ferret Stuff

For those of you who wondered if the ferrets would go in the shower with the water running, the answer is yes.

dextershower-aug2010

“Hey mom, did you know it rains in here?” – Dexter

While I was out

August 14, 2010

This summer continues to kick my ass. I’ve been extremely busy again. I’m still busy but at least I’m starting to get back into a routine, or at least a routine that’s a bit more than work, eat, sleep, and repeat.  So this will be the catching up post.

It hasn’t helped at all that almost every major road in northwest Alabama is being resurfaced, whether it needs it or not.  There have been some days where it has almost doubled my driving time in the morning.  This has given me lots and lots of time to study this sign. (Sorry it’s a crappy cell phone photo.)

groovedroad

Am I the only one who thinks of the Wizard of Oz and Miss Gulch / Wicked Witch of the West when they see this grooved road sign? I know it’s supposed to be a motor bike, but I just can’t help thinking of the Wizard of Oz. It actually took me a while to figure out what it meant. Much much later, I discovered that you can see reflective stripes if you look at the sign from the side.

Remember the tadpole pool? Well it’s been an education in the cycle of life.  Back before it got miserably hot and it was raining almost every night, I managed to catch a photo of mom or dad frog.  He/she was calling to another frog that was just out of photo range in the dark.

frog-july2010

Then I started noticing that there were fewer and fewer tadpoles as the days went along. It’s been miserably hot here with 100 degree days for many weeks. The pool sits right out in the sun so I assumed, the hot weather was taking it’s toll.  Then one day there were no more tadpoles. A while after that I found this guy.

dragonflynymph

It’s hard to see but that’s a dragonfly nymph that I found in the pool. They eat a lot! That’s probably a better explanation for where the tadpoles went. Now both nymphs are gone so I don’t know if it emerged (usually it takes months) or something came along and ate it.  I have seen some dragonflies around the backyard though. Who knew so much could happen in a $10 dollar wading  pool?

The rest of time I was able to spend some time at the W. C. Handy Music Festival at the end of July and I’ve been going to the local farmer’s market most Saturdays.  Those are  my two favorite parts of summer here.

Morning routine number 1.  Open shower door and turn on water to warm up. Get ferrets out of shower and put drain cover back in place.

dextershower-july2010

“Mom, did you know you have a tunnel in your shower? 
Why didn’t you make it big enough for a ferret?” – Dexter

Why yes, I do knit

July 5, 2010

June seemed like a hard month, not just for me but for lots of people.  It wasn’t a bad month for me, I did have a lot of fun. It was just a busy month. So this month I’m going to try to get back on track.  Lets start with knitting.

Way back in the year 1902, I started this pair of striped socks. At least that’s the way it seems.  I long ago forgot when I started these socks.  The good news is that I finished them at the end of June.  I had to reformat a large hard drive one Saturday at work, so what better time to knit on my socks. I ended up finishing the last sock just about the time the hard drive finished formatting.  Maybe I’d get more knitting done if I had to reformat more hard drives.

stripedsocks-5jul10

The yarn is Steinbach Wolle Strapaz, Ringel Color. It was a little harsh to knit but it isn’t bad after they’re washed. You don’t get a lot of yarn in each ball. My feet aren’t that large and I ended up with only a few yards left. They’re nice and bright and I like them. I even managed to do a halfway decent job of matching the socks.

Frogging, the amphibian kind

I seem to have acquired a batch of future frogs as pets. Okay technically they’re not my pets but now I feel obligated to take care of them.  It all started with this little plastic kiddy pool I’ve had in the back yard for the ferrets to play in.  This spring has been very, very wet. It’s been so wet, you can hear frogs croaking all around the house every night. Every time I would empty the pool, it would storm and fill up again the next day. If I turned it over, it would storm and blow the pool around the yard and the pool would fill up again.  So I kind of got tired of emptying it. It rained so much though that the water stayed clear so I didn’t worry about it too much. Then the other day when I went out to fill the bird feeders, I noticed it had turned green with lots and lots  of little black dots.

tadpoles-5jul10

Yes, I’ve got about a hundred or more tadpoles in my little pool. This picture really doesn’t do it justice. Now that it has stopped raining, I feel obligated to make sure there’s plenty of water. Plus what the heck do tadpoles eat? If it’s algae, I’m okay. If even half of those tadpoles become frogs, it’s going to be hopping around here.

dexter-5jul10

"Sure, you’re worried about what the tadpoles are eating and I’m wasting away. It’s so bad I have to steal the cat’s food! Yeah, that’s it!" – Dexter

The Food Edition

June 10, 2010

Ah, that’s better. I’m back to a more normal level of work now. Even though it was a hectic month and a half, I actually had a lot of fun.  I also probably ate more fast food in the past month than I’ve eaten in the previous 10 years. Now that things are settling down to a dull roar, I’m looking forward to real food. Well that and trying to get my life back in order over the weekend.

My first stop was at the farmer’s market near the house.  The produce is so much fresher than the produce in the store.  That leads me to the latest local controversy. Apparently the Alabama Department of Agriculture visited some of the local farmers markets and decided the vendors had to use commercial quality scales instead of the much much cheaper scales designed for home use.  The public outcry on that was so great, they changed their mind.

apple-10jun10

A couple of years ago I bought an apple tree for the backyard. The first year, it had a couple of apples on it. The next year, it had none. But this year, it has a bunch of apples on it for its small size. Our rainy weather must be agreeing with it.

I was doing some major grocery shopping the other day and on the way through the frozen food section, I noticed some frozen Indian meals from Amy’s Kitchen (Chris, they’re gluten free!). I love Indian food, so I grabbed one to try out. As luck would have it, I ended up at the checkout register with the Indian cashier. She was as excited as I was to see frozen Indian meals.  It was pretty good for a frozen meal. I’ll buy more of them for those days when I don’t want to put much effort into eating.

Several months ago, I read a good review of the vegetarian cookbook Love Soup. Now I’m not vegetarian at all but I don’t eat a lot of meat so I’ll buy good vegetarian cookbooks now and then.  Several people mentioned in the comments that the author also wrote an excellent, older cookbook called The Vegetarian Epicure. I made a mental note to buy the book someday. (Have I mentioned my small collection of cookbooks?) Fast forward a couple of months, and I grab my favorite, very tattered vegetarian cookbook.  I notice the title on the cover – The Vegetarian Epicure. Why yes, often I don’t notice the obvious.

The ferrets have been crazy since I’ve been so busy. That means I end up with lots of pictures like this if they spot me with the camera.

zoe-10jun10 “What are you trying to do now, mom? Can we help?” – Zoe