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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.


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


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.


“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.)


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.


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.


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.


“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.


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.


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.


"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.


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

The "Be Careful What You Wish For" Post

May 23, 2010

I decided a random post would be a good way to catch up on my life lately.

Stuff about my life

– A while back, I was offered some extra work and I thought "Cool, I could use the extra money!" Then I was offered more work and I thought "Cool, I will be extremely busy for a while but I could use the extra money!" You can probably see where this is going.

– I now have barely enough time to eat and sleep. Somewhere I’ve got to squeeze in some time for a plumber to come by to fix my sink and take my car in for servicing.  Luckily some of this is temporary, so only a few more weeks to go.

– While we’ve had a lot of rain lately, in between the downpours we had a few beautiful sunsets.



Stuff I’ve found on the Internet

– I’m probably the last person to find this, but I love many of these knit patterns at Coco Knits.  Course this would require actual knitting time if I were to purchase one.  One of those airy knit tops would be a good project for summer evening wear.

– I’m fascinated by these crazy bookshelves, even though they’re probably not so practical for my volume of books.  The tree is my favorite.

– For those with kids, there’s Sh*t My Kids Ruined (without the *) and for those with pets, there’s Sh*t My Pets Ruined (also without the *).

Stuff I’ve observed

– Those bird eggs you find in the middle of the yard where there are no trees around, where do they come from?

– I probably don’t want to know what the ferrets are doing when I’m not looking.

clydecouch-23may10 "Trust me mom, I do this all of the time when you’re not looking." – Clyde

The Keep Her Away from Glass Edition

May 4, 2010

It was another weekend with lots of rain and tornados here. Some people living close to the river had to be rescued. Luckily I live on high ground. Then in a little bit of irony, some construction workers hit a water main in one of the adjoining towns.  Even the hospital was without water for a most of the day.

It was a good weekend for staying inside and looking through old photos. I came across this photo of me as a kid on a pony.  It’s one of my favorite photos.


I’m not sure how old I was. I know my family always said I didn’t start growing any hair on my head until I was about two years old. (Trust me, I’ve made up for it since then.) I remember a man came through the neighborhood with a pony offering to take pictures and how excited I was.

All of this is a blatant attempt at distraction from my accident-prone self these days, at least when it comes to glass. I broke my glass coffee pot today. This is my second one in little over a month. Maybe I should consider getting something in stainless steel next time.  Then on my way to work about a week ago, a car making a turn kicked up a rock that made a ding in my windshield. It wasn’t too bad, though, and looked fixable. Luckily I didn’t do anything about it because this week another car kicked up another rock at almost the same spot in the road. Except this time, it hit at the edge of the windshield and caused a major crack. (whimper) I think I’ll try to avoid anything made out of glass for a while.  I think someone should invent clear rubber windshield.


"Why shouldn’t I jump down from the back of the couch? I bet I can make it." – Clyde

Cloudy With a Chance of Tornados

April 23, 2010

Jane of Not Plain Jane is having a celebration and making a donation to the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation for every comment she gets on her April 4th post until April 28th.  Then at the end of the month she will be awarding prizes. Go over there now. I’ll wait here until you come back.

That title is our forecast for the weekend. It’s been feast or famine with the weather here. I swear I think every day in January, February and March had rain or snow. In April we’ve had not one drop of rain.  But not to fret, they’re predicting heavy thunderstorms and tornados for the weekend.  I’d be satisfied with just a shower here and there.

We have had some beautiful weather and  flowers though. There’s the redbud trees,

Redbud Blooms

and the apple trees, and now suddenly everything is green.

Apple Blossom

I’ve been playing with fiber.  A while back I received a booklet called "Bonding and Beyond" on bonding fabrics and fibers and stuff together.  I also saw an article in Cloth Paper Scissors on doing a similar thing with a different technique.  So I layered some fabric, some fiber, some ribbons and other stuff. Then I did a bit of machine stitching and bonded it into a bowl-like shape with some Ultra Sulky.  I might do a little more work on it. I have no idea what I’ll do with it but, hey, I had fun. I’m sure I’ll try it again some time.

Fiber Bowl

I think Chris guessed correctly about Clyde and the black footprints in the sink.  She said it looked like garbage disposal / drain gunk. It did seem a little greasy so I think she’s right. Here’s some more subdued ferret activities.


"It’s not in here, Clyde." – Zoe

"Uh oh, it’s not in here either." – Clyde

Ferret Spring Fever

April 17, 2010

Spring is in full force here. Suddenly all of the trees have leaves and things are blooming. I was afraid my lilac bush wouldn’t bloom this spring since it started to bloom and then froze back in the fall. It is gorgeous this year though. There were enough blooms that I didn’t mind whacking off a few to bring inside.


Around the Internet

If you remember those video games from the 80s, you might appreciate this video of 8-bit monsters taking over New York.

I spotted teeny tiny book necklaces at Black Spot Books on Etsy. Apparently these are real books.

I check out Molly the barn owl and her owlets from time to time, so I got a kick out of this video of barn owlets "singing" Bohemian Rhapsody.

Ferrets have a long history of running cable and wire through pipes and conduits in the military, even as recently as 1999. So this story of how Felicia the ferret helped in the construction of the Fermilab made me smile.  (If the bookmark doesn’t work, the series of stories is about halfway down the page.)

At Home

On the other hand, the ferrets here have been up to nothing good since spring hit. They’ve been wild.  The week started with strange noises coming from kitchen. When I go to check it out, I find a kitchen sink that looks like this.


Yes, that’s lots of little black ferret footprints, with more footprints all over the counter.  I’m still not sure where all of the black came from.  The big question was how did a ferret get up there. I have an old cupboard near the counters.  Apparently Clyde  unlatched the door of the cupboard. Jumped from the cupboard door to the kitchen stools, to the counter.  The first book on ferrets I bought stated "Ferrets are not known for their climbing ability." Well maybe not the author’s ferrets, but my ferrets can climb just fine.


"But mom, I had so much fun!" – Clyde


April 8, 2010

I can’t resist dyeing eggs at Easter.  I just like coloring eggs.  This year I used food coloring instead of packaged Easter egg dye. I kind of like this method. The colors seem to work out better and I can mix and adjust the colors the way I want them. The only problem was that I knew I had two boxes of food coloring. One is really really old. The other one is new. I could only find the old one though. It still worked well and had a handy color mixing chart on the back. The problem was I had only a drop or two of red.  So I was limited to blues, greens, and yellows. I remembered where I put the other box later.  I had put it in a box with some other fiber dyeing stuff.

eastereggs-8apr10I also tried some of the decorating techniques on the Martha Stewart site I mentioned last time.  I tried wrapping the eggs with lace and others with string. The string worked well. The lace was just too faint. Maybe I didn’t wrap it tight enough.  Hey I had fun though.  And no, I have no idea why I did mostly blue and green eggs, well other than the lack of red dye.

On Easter, I went to see How to Train Your Dragon with a bunch of friends and then out to dinner.  The movie was fun and a great way to spend the day.  And because I admire Nathan Fowkes’ art so much, check out his blog post with some early color keys for the movie.  The graphics and animation in this movie are wonderful. You can see some of his personal art in his other posts.

I usually think of daffodils at Easter but this year I have an Easter Amaryllis. I’ve had this amaryllis for several years. It usually spends the summer on the front porch and I try to remember to bring it in after the leaves die and before it gets too cold.  I was proud of myself this year, because I thought I brought it in just in time. It put out one leaf before Christmas and then stopped. Now I have a beautiful bloom. I thought it was because I didn’t store it properly but someone else in town said their amaryllis did the same thing.


Zoe just had fun playing and rolling in the pillows on the daybed.

zoe-8apr10 “Hey don’t knock playing in the pillows until you’ve tried it!” – Zoe

Some Random Observations

March 31, 2010

Since my life has been mostly unfocused lately, it seemed like a good time for a few random observations.

Suburban fog

We’ve had lots of rain and fog but it finally ended with a rainbow and some sunshine.


It’s actually been sunny and warm all week.  I can’t remember the last time we’ve had this much sunshine.

Observations from the Road

To the guy in front of me the other morning who was reading the newspaper while he was driving – Did you ever think that this might not be a good idea?

To the state patrolman who was waving at me as I was driving down the highway – I didn’t think I knew any state patrolmen, but since you were being so friendly I guess I do.  It’s hard to tell who you are though since you were driving a state patrol car with tinted windows.  On the other hand, everyone who knows me around town, knows my license plate so I’m at a disadvantage.

Observations from Shopping

I was at the pet store getting some fish food the other day. I stopped by the fish food freezer to see what they had. I noticed at the bottom of the freezer they had some little white plastic packages. There were some bigger ones that were a little bigger than a candy bar and some smaller ones that were about half that size. So I looked closer at the labels and saw “Large Mouse” and “Small Mouse”. 

Observations from the Internet

I thought this Pringles of Scotland animation about their sweater production was cute.

The Midnight Knitter has become so popular it has been difficult to find a good opportunity for graffiti knitting.

If you’re looking for different ideas for decorating Easter eggs this year, Martha Stewart has 62 ways to decorate Easter eggs.  (Thanks to How About Orange for the link.) The decorating ideas were good but I also liked Martha’s egg drying rack.  She put straight pins in a piece of foam board separated by about an inch or so.  The eggs rested on the pins like a bed of nails, only touching a few pin heads.

Observations from a Ferret


 “Heaven is a trash can full of trash.” – Clyde