Friday, June 30, 2006

Hey, remember me?

Yes, I accidentally fell off the planet. Hey, it happens. Actually, I was in California and I expected to do some remote blogging while on vacation, but then, out of nowhere...I didn't. The lack of wireless internet at my parents' house perplexed me. You mean I have to plug this thing in with a...cable? Weird. My baby brother graduated from UCSB (so proud!) and there were lots of friends and family to visit. It was a nice trip all around. You'd think I'd have great vacation photos, but no.

So, I promise not to become the crochety old lady (at 29!) who gives constant updates about the Cows, but I saw something today I had to share. No picture, sorry :) A wedding party was having their photos taken by one of the cows by our apartment. Wow. They must really like cows. Madam, ha! We are totally neighbors. That is so funny.

Knitting: I think it's just been too hot. I picked my Simple Top With Contrast Stripe (or whatever that catchy name is) back up, but I'm not much further than last time. I love that Wool Cotton, Rachel. It's nice and elastic and oh so durable. Inspired by Holly, I now really want to make the Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts (if you have this book, be sure to take a look at the abundant errata). I have some Rowanspun DK in a nubby dark green that I want to swatch up for it. That, or Jo Sharp DK Wool in a light tan. You know, I knit constantly through last summer, privately judging the "it's too hot to knit" crowd. But I think I was super-motivated by my ridiculous list of Christmas gifts to be done. I now apologize to everyone I thought of as wimpy for putting away the knitting during the hottest days!

Writing: Still on Chapter 1 rewrites. Pretty pleased so far, but I'm finding more to change than I expected. It's nice to have time to get some perspective so I can be really ruthless.

Reading: Lots of summer reading. Kate, I haven't started my Trollope yet, but it's definitely in the queue. I read Janet Evanovich's Twelve Sharp, which was a cute, breezy read. Not her best, but Stephanie Plum is always fun anyway. I read a few Kathy Reichs books--I watched Bones last season, which is based on her Temperance Brennan books. Not "based on", it turns out, or even "inspired by"...more "with a main character with the same name and profession as in the books." But I don't care. If I'd read the books first, I might be upset, but I liked the show, and liked the books. I read a couple more of Donna Andrews books (her first is Murder With Peacocks). I also read Early Bird by Rodney Rothman, hands down one of the funniest books I've ever read. It's a memoir of a 28-year-old comedy writer who losed his job and decides to test drive retirement in Florida. There's majorly competitive shuffleboard, amorous septuagenarians, unbreakable cliques of little old ladies, and so very much more. This book is like nothing else you've ever read, and it's funny and poignant.

Cooking: Today I made Cinnamon Raisin Bread and chocolate chip cookies (Tollhouse recipes with Ghirardelli chocolate chips). The Cinnamon Raisin Bread rose an insane amount. Tallest loaf I've ever gotten from the bread machine! It was like a giant rectangular muffin. Since the slices were going to be 11" tall, I sliced off the "muffin top" part for an afternoon snack. Hmmm. We just went to the grocery store after being out of town, so until Wednesday, we had no food of any kind :) I have the farmer's market to go to in the morning for squash and berries (and a "sandwich" tomato for my husband), so maybe I will feel more inspired to cook interesting things.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Short Attention Span

Since I can't seem to handle working on larger knitting projects, I cast on for the Simple Baby Top and Socks with Contrast Stripe (or something) from Debbie Bliss Easy Knits. The main color is Debbie Bliss Wool Cotton in Purple-Blue and the contrast color is Rowan Wool Cotton in pink. The pattern is basically a polo with a couple of rows of contrast color on the edges. The pattern photo is light blue with a white contrast, but I decided to go a little different. Not sure what I think about it yet. The DB and Rowan yarns have slightly different gauges on the label, but they work up the same for me, and I'm not sure I can tell the difference. I love this yarn. I'm regretting my decision to knit as is instead of converting to knitting in the round, but I'm done with the back, so I'll just keep going. Here we are so far:

Writing: Slowly chugging out chapter 1 rewrites. I'm so much happier with the opening now. I think it's much grabbier.

Reading: Since the World Cup started, my husband's been pretty occupied with 2-3 games a day, so over the weekend, I watched all 4 Harry Potter movies. Then I had to read books 5 & 6. And every time I finish 6, I think "why did I not wait to re-read this until just before book 7 is out???" I like the Harry Potter movies. They don't replace the books for me at all, but they're companion pieces I guess. I finished my Clive Cussler (skimming the last 100 or so pages, needs an editor) and was predictably entertained. I'm not sure what's next. Maybe I'll start the Harry Potter books again. Or start Trollope, whom I've never read.

Cooking: Not much. I did make frozen bananas, which my grandmother used to make with us when we were kids. The simplest version is 1. Peel a banana. 2. Wrap in foil or waxed paper. 3. Stick in freezer. I dipped them halfway in melted chocolate chips. You can also use Magic Shell topping. Or brush with melted chocolate chips (or Hershey's Kisses), then roll in chopped nuts, shredded coconut, etc. For "fancy" eating, impale with a popsicle stick or skewer before freezing.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Too hot to move

It's cooling off, finally, but it's been pretty hot around here. The cats stretch out as far as they can and give us reproachful looks, as if to say, "We're wearing fur coats! Turn on the darn air conditioning!" Sometimes we'll look over and Geronimo is hanging out belly-up. They've switched to warm weather sleeping spots--the kitty carrier (they love their kitty carrier, so we leave it out all the time), the dining room chairs, the linoleum floors. When it gets really hot, Mirando sleeps on top of the toilet or in the sink as well.

Blogger has gotten over it's two-day snit (not sure what I did to deserve that).

Knitting: Nothing new.

Writing: I started extensive revision, including new subplots and a renovated first chapter. I think I may add in a chapter between 1 & 2 as well. I'm still working on the chapter 1 revisions. It's hard for me to decide what to revise now and what to hold off on until the second full draft. In this case, the new subplots (including a couple of new characters) need to be established and then carried along throughout, so I needed to revise early.

Reading: I admit this? I am reading Black Wind by Clive Cussler. Yup, a Dirk Pitt novel. Sure, they have wildly implausible plots, and I think Cussler gets the giant box of adjectives/adverbs at CostCo and makes sure to dump them all in the book, but heck, they're fun.

Cooking: It's been too hot to cook. This weekend, maybe.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lazy Summer

Knitting has been sporadic and not very productive. But, here is a picture of the "join" of the baby blanket.

You see that little hole? That's just before I figured out how to attach in a non-wonky fashion. I'm happy with the progress past that point--it might not be perfect, but I think it looks fine, and it's a heck of a lot easier than sewing the whole thing together later, which I don't think I would ever do. Something I thought of in posting the free pattern...I wonder if I need to direct people to buy the Orangina pattern for the lace pattern. I feel like my creation is completely different, but is the lace pattern proprietary? Perhaps I need to contact the designer. Most lace patterns seem to be just "out there", and while I'm using that one aspect of the pattern, it's a completely different piece. Hmmm.

Writing: Argh. Still at 25,000. Lots of stuff going on right now. Must get moving on this.

Reading: I read a delightful cozy mystery, Murder With Peacocks, by Donna Andrews. Meg Langslow and her family are hilarious, and Meg's coping with planning three weddings, keeping an eye on her father's wild experiments, and dodging the romantic advances of the most annoying man in the world, are very well written. Delightful dialogue, and wonderful characters (including a nephew with a beloved pet Duck), made me ready to read the rest of the series. This series takes place in small-town Virginia. I also read two Dennis Lehane novels, which are sort of the opposite of cozy. They're very gritty suspense novels about two P.I.s in Dorchester (a rough neighborhood in Boston). While I think Lehane is a very good writer, they're not books I would re-read. I should explain that I'm a big re-reader (though I will not admit how many times I've read the Harry Potter series). I have "good literature" that I re-read periodically (Kate Atkinson, Time Traveler's Wife, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, Gregory Maguire, Jane Austen--can you say eclectic?), and "comfort books" as well--Diane Mott Davidson, the Aunt Dimity series, Dorothy Cannell, Janet Evanovich. I can't even always explain how something makes it into my "re-reading" section. But while I enjoy the Lehane books, they go into the "sell on amazon" pile once I'm through. They're much more violent than the cozies I've settled into, and often horrifying, and I find that my interest in reading about deranged psychopaths has waned considerably. Perhaps it's that I read too many Faye/Jonathan Kellermans and I've reached my limit. Knitpastis, if you sort of like James Patterson (and I'm with you on the "didn't hold my attention" thing--I used to read him, but his books have gotten so formulaic. Or they already were, and I'm just weary of the formula), you might like Lehane quite a bit better. A Drink Before the War is the first in the Patrick Kenzie/Angie Gennaro series.

Remember my rant about the New York Times Book Review best novel thing? (Of course you do--you memorize my posts, right? :) ) Well, I missed my last book club meeting, and they've decided to read Beloved in response to the NYTBR. And I don't think they mean it in an ironic or subversive way. Didn't everyone read Beloved in high school? It's not that I didn't like the book, but geez. What's next? Lord of the Flies?

Cooking: We made pizza over the weekend. Yum. I made spinach and garlic, Matt made pepperoni. Matt always makes pepperoni, which I think is funny, because I always do something different with my pizza. Last night, I made Cinnamon Crepes with Peaches and Cream Cheese (from guess where? and they were delish. Mirando quite liked the filling, too.

Our view is pretty awesome. Even with the cows :) Thanks to everyone for your sympathy on the wee-hours cow installation. Marie, apparently, it's supposed to be as though they appeared magically overnight. Even though it was in the paper a year ago that they were coming. Ahem. It's fun to watch people stare at the cows and take each other's photographs next to them. I swear I saw one man checking the cow's teeth. Rain, I think they may have picked summer for the cow display for just that reason--the students are all gone! Holly, it takes two and a half hours to install cows. Isn't that good to know? I didn't count the number of beeps from trucks backing up, but I think it was around 11,000. Rachel, my husband and I love declaring things "moo", too :) It cracks us up every time, too. We're so well-matched in our nerdiness.

I leave you to contemplate Geronimo enjoying a two-handed tummy rub, and Mirando napping on my pillow on our un-made bed:

Saturday, June 03, 2006

It's just a moo point...

It's been a while! I don't think I've ever gone this long without posting. I've had other things going on, and I haven't had much progress to post.

Anyway, the cows have come to Madison. Not *those* cows--the artsy ones. If you have no idea what this means, click here.

Perhaps my enthusiasm is dampened because I lived in Chicago during their cow parade thing, so I've already seen this. Or perhaps it's that they installed them at TWO IN THE MORNING across the street with what may be some of the loudest equipment and most annoying flashing lights ever created. It's hard to tell. I actually quite like driving past grazing cows, and in general, I have nothing against cows. I'm just ambivalent about their man-made cousins. When I was in Chicago, I walked past them, thinking, "Um...okay. So, anyway..." I don't know. Some of them are very creative. Apparently, it's quite good for tourism and charity, so I'll try not to be too crotchety about them :)

Knitting: No knitting updates :( It's been really warm, and I haven't felt like knitting (!) much.

Writing: Still at the same spot :( 25,000 words.

Reading: Now, this, I've been doing. Mysteries, mostly. A couple of Georgette Heyer mysteries--Footsteps in the Dark and Why Shoot a Butler? These are amateur detective novels from the 1930s. She wrote a ton of them, but I hadn't tried her before. Overall, they're great. The writing quality is excellent, and the suspense is well done. There are occasional disturbing sexist or racist comments, but it was a different time, I suppose. I also read Down the Garden Path by Dorothy Cannell. This one is not an Ellie Haskell mystery (though I enjoy those as well), but focuses on the Tramwell sisters who are minor characters in the Haskell mysteries. It was fun, as Cannell usually is. I also read A Dose of Murder by Lori Avocato. It was cute, but a total ripoff of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. Instead of Ranger, her mentor is the mysterious Jagger, and the respectable yet attractive Nick is Morelli. Instead of nutty Grandma Mazur, there's kooky Uncle Walt. Instead of the Hungarian housewife putting dinner on the table at 6 every evening, it's a Polish housewife putting dinner on the table at 6 every evening, and, like Stephanie, Pauline hates going there for dinner, but she does anyway. Pauline quits her job as a nurse, while Stephanie loses her job as a lingerie buyer. Instead of Lula, the plus-size black sidekick, Pauline has Goldie, the Creole transvestite. You get the idea. But fun and diverting, anyway. Enjay, I have read Tamar Myers before, but it's been a long time!

Cooking: I made Cavatappi With Arugula Pesto and Tomatoes last night. The recipe is at Cooking Light. It was fantastic. Incidentally, Stephaneener, that's where my ricotta cheese recipe is! I've never made chevre before, though. Yum. Despite the warm weather, I continue to crave soup. Weird. Today I made Shrimp and Egg Flower Soup from (guess where?) Cooking Light. Except with snow peas instead of shrimp. It was quite good.

More kitty pictures later in the week :) Marie, if it's cold, Mirando will stay tucked in for ages. It's pretty darn cute. And Rachel, we're not quite to laughing about the camping trip yet, but we're at the point where we can imagine laughing about it someday :) Oh, and for people who didn't watch Friends, here's the dialogue that the title of this post is from:

Joey: All right, Rach. The big question is, "does he like you?" All right? Because if he doesn't like you, this is all a moo point.
Rachel: Huh. A moo point?
Joey: Yeah, it's like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter. It's moo.
Rachel: Have I been living with him for too long, or did that all just make sense?