Saturday, 28 February 2009

I'm Not Dead Yet...Yeah, Right...

I am only writing this entry because I have a fierce sense of competition. I have been spurred on to get at least a few words down for posterity because my Smooty daughter has also posted. And, since she's sick and so am I, I figured that I can somehow muster up the energy to slap some words down here if she can. We'll see how that works out.

For the past few days, I've been dealing with conjunctivitis in my right eye, aka. the dreaded pink-eye. It starts out miserable when I first wake up, of course, and I head straight for the nice warm washcloth of awesomeness so I can actually get said eye open. Then, on and off again throughout the day it goes from nothing noticeable to watering eye to scratchy eye to just plain annoyance because it's doing something it shouldn't be doing. Argh. I have taken the new moniker of Pirate Wombat when I have the washcloth over one eye and muttering "T-yarr" (Heather, fix the spelling on that for me, please? And you may chastise me if Connor copyrighted his word.)

For this most part, this is a cold. A stupid, annoying-as-hell cold. It has not gone into my lungs but I have an equally stupid cough that, in turn, makes my lower back hurt whenever it decides to provoke me. I have worked my way through a couple of boxes of tissues and all the chicken noodle soup in the house. Last night, Ded brought me more soup and methinks my Dad, aka the Food Fairy, will be stopping by this afternoon with lots of reinforcements (tissues, Nyquil, soups, and hopefully the magic alchemy of cold-zapping awesomeness...and if that didn't make sense, it's the foggy brain...sorry)

Today I wanted to go to the handspinners' guild meeting that a friend told me about. Scratch that. Next week there is a sewing expo that my dad told me about which, for the sake of my fledgling quilt business, I really need to attend. If this is just a normal, pain in the ass cold I should be better by then.

On Saturdays, I was hoping for a Grab Bag of sorts category so I guess this post fits. As a quickie wrap-up, I finished the pink Ribbons of Hope scarf and really want to get one of the girls to pose with it so I can then send it on to its rightful home. As soon as I'm not contagious, I can do that but if I don't get well soon, I'll just have to take pics of it sans model.

I haven't finished any of the books I started last week but hope to at least finish The Road today.

I'm working again on Heather's blanket whilst watching Season 5 of Stargate SG1 and/or various and sundry other sci fi offerings. I'm also making a Tribble and some fingerless gloves for Giuli since her birthday is next week.

And I think today I shall vacuum...

and take several naps...

and ingest mass quantities of Vitamin C.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

"The web of life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together."

I had planned to share five websites/blogs/podcasts on Wednesdays but I'm not sure how that's going to work today. You see, yesterday I woke up feeling like I had been run over by a truck, perhaps a large semi loaded with evil germs of doomy-doom. I spent the day wrapped in a knitted shawl, swilling down chamomile tea and ingesting vast quantities of Vitamin C.

Today, however, is a wee bit more of a challenge. I woke up with conjunctivitis in my right eye. Oh, fun. At least it's a good thing I wasn't planning on going out in public anytime soon. Combine that with four hours of sleep and, yeah, this may be a short entry. We shall see.

Since this is my first post in my newly-reorganized Wonderful Web-day category, I think I will just share the really big time-sucks on the Internet.

1. Google Reader

Recently, I experienced large quantities of frustration (indicated by much gnashing of teeth and muttered cursing) because my RSS feeds were not updating. A couple of my Plurk buddies recommended Google Reader and I can say that my annoyances have been put aside (probably replaced by new ones, but that's another blog topic) and I am happily promoting the awesomeness that is Google Reader (cue angelic choir).

It took several days for me to get all of my blogs transferred over (adding new ones along the way, of course) but now I can immediately see not only which blogs have unread posts but also how many new posts there are. Pretty cool. I also like the home page that gives me a sampling of the latest updates.

So, if you have too many blogs to keep up with, you might want to give Google Reader a try.

2. Ravelry

Pretty much, if you are a knitter or crocheter, you know about this site. Ravelry describes itself as "...a place for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, and dyers to keep track of their yarn, tools, and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration." Other than the nails-on-the-chalkboard grammar of "where my stitches at?" I'm pretty impressed with what this site has accomplished. Unfortunately, once you start perusing everything possible, you will find that you need to hop in your TARDIS to get back those couple of hours that just slipped by.

I like to use Ravelry as a pattern resource and I do occasionally post on the forums. However, in my few short months of hanging out there, I have seen the potential for total immersion in the online community and I have tried to not let myself get sucked into that. One of my favourite parts is being able to check out what other knitters are saying about any particular pattern and peruse their pictures of those projects. It can be a great organizational tool and, of course, a neat place to meet lots and lots of knitters and designers.

You can find me at Ravelry as wombatknitter. In order to become a member, you need to request an invitation. As of this posting, there are 297,578 registered users. If you sign up now, though, you should receive your invitation in about five days.

3- Plurk and why it's not just another silly time-suck.

If you spend your days on the computer, you might enjoy a little contact with the outside world. The nice thing about Plurk is that you can make connections with other like-minded people and you can stay in your pajamas with no makeup on, if you choose. I jumped on the Plurk bandwagon back in November and now have 125 "friends" there. The overwhelming majority of them are knitters and I have actually made contacts there that are proving to be helful in by knitting/designing ventures. I'll keep y'all posted on that - it looks like I have a yarn store interested in carrying one of my designs.

You can find me on Plurk as WombatofDOOM.

4 - Facebook

Okay, you knew I had to throw in my worst offender in the black hole that is "where the frack did my day go?" What can I say other than...yep, it's fun. It can help you stay in touch with people even more easily than sending email and occasionally you might even be informed of some event that you really want to attend. But mostly, you'll probably just play games. And that's okay, long as you remember to eat and sleep once in a while.

So, I'm thinking next week we'll explore some of the odds bodkins sites I enjoy. You know the ones. Stuff like this...Craftastrophe!

Monday, 23 February 2009

"What do you read, my lord?" "Words, words, words."

If it's Tuesday, this must be This Week in Bookland.

The observant reader will note I have minimized the size of my Shelfari bookshelf. This is not because I am reading any less or that the Big Damn Stack o'Books has shrunk. Fear not! I just decided to do a little blog revamping and this is one of my experiments. I am allowing myself only six books to post per week on the shelf: two fiction, three non-fiction, and one read-aloud. Restricting my choices is actually quite difficult but I'm hoping the streamlined look will help the page load more quickly.

Read Aloud
Giuli and I are still working on Inkheart. It is hard to make the time for this book, not because we aren't interested, but because she and I seem to both want to knit whilst someone reads to us. Perhaps we should enlist Mary as a Designated Reader so we can get moving along at a quicker pace. Giuli can't wait until we finally meet Capricorn as she already visualizes him as Andy Sirkis although we have yet to see the movie.

I am still trudging through The Lies of Locke Lamora. I say "trudging" only due to my reserving this book for my bedtime reading. Some nights I actually crash after a page or two, so I feel as though I will never finish this 719-page tome. In all fairness, I should probably set aside a better time for more conscious reading.

I'm "fixin' to" read The Road by Cormac McCarthy this week. Weighing in at 287 pages with an awful lot of white space per page, I'm predicting it will move quickly. This book was reviewed on one of the dozen or so book blogs that I read - bad blogger that I am, however, I forgot to note which one. But, now that I have a more organized method to my blogging madness, I hope to be much better about this in the future.

Ah, non-fiction! I allow myself three books in this category because I usually don't have to follow a plotline or remember characters so I can spread my interests around a bit more liberally.

First, I'm about halfway through The Magician's Book. This is a collection of essays by critic Laura Miller, who appears to have a love/hate relationship with C. S. Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia. While I don't always agree with her viewpoints, I am definitely learning a good deal more about Lewis' life, particularly his childhood. I have another similar volume lurking on my to-read list which I will divulge next week so stay tuned.

Alan Watts is not often easy for me to grasp, but I am still amazed that the tiny book, The Wisdom of Insecurity, is taking me so long to finish. I am, however, over halfway along and occasionally a little light bulb goes off in my head when something actually "clicks". One of those moments occured recently when I read this passage:

"Can you, at the same time, read this sentence and think about yourself reading it? You will find that, to think about yourself reading it, you must for a brief second stop reading. The first experience is reading. The second experience is the thought, 'I am reading.' Can you find any thinker, who is thinking the thought, 'I am reading?' In other words, when present experience is the thought, 'I am reading,' can you think about yourself thinking this thought?

Once again, you must stop thinking just, 'I am reading.' You pass to a third experience, which is the thought, 'I am thinking that I am reading.' Do not let the rapidity with which these thoughts can change deceive you into the feeling that you think them all at once."

The lightbulb turned on and I proceeded to tell Paul that I couldn't ever really say "I'm reading" because I wouldn't actually be reading as I said it so I would just be saying that I was reading but that would not be true because...well...nevermind.

The third book of non-fiction is Book by Book by Michael Dirda. In his Preface, Dirda explains his time as a book reviewer and columnist for the Washington Post Book World.

"During these past three decades the Post has kindly allowed me to write about nearly any sort of book that caught my fancy, and my fancy can be quite promiscuous -- ancient classics one week, science fiction and fantasy the next."

What bookworm wouldn't love a job like that? And, since I definitely fall into that category, this book struck my fancy when I read the back cover blurb, which states "...the wit, wisdom, and enchantment of the written word informs and enriches nearly every aspect of life, from education and work to love and death." With a Who's Who reaching from Charles Addams to Stefan Zweig, Dirda shares what he has learned about life from his reading. I recently began compiling a never-ending list of classic books I want to read, and I am sure I will find many titles to add whilst devouring this little gem.

One more thing, I nearly forgot that today I began listening to Pride and Prejudice on the Craftlit podcast. The A&E version from 1995 with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle is a favourite of mine but I have never read the book. So, I shall be knitting along to Jane Austen whenever I can.

That wraps up this week's reading. Please don't forget to leave your comments! And check back in on Wednesday for another topic in my revamped weekly lineup.

To Knit, Perchance to Quilt...The Ribbons of Hope Scarf

Remember on Saturday when I posted a picture of that gorgeous scarf and I was just flying along with its progress? Yeah, well, today is a whole different story. Not that there is anything wrong with the pattern or the yarn; it's just my perfectionist tendencies and how I deal with them.

So, the story begins on Saturday. Giuli and I had knitted for a while during the day (she's working on a lovely lavender washcloth with her own design which I shall post as soon as she finishes. About a week ago, I taught her how to make yarn-overs and knit-two-togethers to get eyelets and the girl's design genes have kicked in big time.) She was looking for a change in venue late in the afternoon, so we headed out to run a few errands with plans to end up at Borders, our regular knitting hang-out.

I digress for a moment to share one of my delights...

For the past six years or more, I have used Noxzema cleansing cream exclusively as a facial cleaner. It smells great and takes off makeup better than anything else I've tried. So, when Giuli and I were at Target to pick up a couple of jars, I found that they also make an exfoliating cleanser. It comes in a 6-ounce tube and, thank goodness, it still has that great Noxzema scent. Serendipitously, Target only had one of the 14-ounce jars left of the regular cream, so I figured I give the new kid on the block a try. The early results are in and the exfoliating cleanser gets a thumbs up! Yet another reason why I don't believe in buying the fancy-named expensive products. I do love my Noxzema (even though I often get those bizarre visuals of Wesley Snipes in To Wong Fu Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar...but let's not go there right now.)

Back to the knitting...

I completed about three pattern repeats on Saturday, including a small amount at Borders whilst perusing the newest knitting magazines. Several of my friends complimented me on the project and I was happy to brag about how much I love this yarn and the pattern. Unfortunately, a small disaster was lurking - waiting for me to perform a more careful examination of my work after I got home.

You see, this pattern involves wrapping the yarn around the needle four times for every one stitch on the right side of the scarf on the fifth and eleventh row of the patterning. Then, on the sixth and twelfth rows, not only do you magically change those wraps into long dropped stitches, but you also cross four stitches over four others and then knit them in this totally different order which results in (what else?) a crossed stitch. This is not really difficult; however, you must be really, really careful not to accidentally mess up the order of said crossed stitches or it will show up on the back of your work...usually a day or so after you've actually produced what I have now dubbed the "star-crossed" stitch. (Only because I'm a big Shakespeare geek and Romeo and Juliet was recently being performed down at the Shakespeare Tavern, thus the term is fresh in my mind.)

So, yeah, in the newly-bright light of my studio (a bulb blew out in my ceiling fan light when I got home after the Borders visit and I actually replaced it in a timely manner) I decided to closely inspect the 180 rows of the awesome scarf of awesomeness. (Cue the Psycho music here.) EEK! I had not just one, not even two, but three (count them) three star-crossed stitches - the first one being back around repeat number seven or so! No, you wouldn't have seen them from a galloping horse or (going back to my ballet wardrobe mom days) from the audience. But I saw them. I knew they were there. They taunted me. ("Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt like elderberries!"...okay, perhaps a slight exaggeration.)

I decided to sleep on, not the scarf. sigh.

Three hours later, I was up again. My perfectionism won out. There was no way I was going to make something for someone and knowingly let a mistake get by. The beautiful scarf once again became a beautiful ball of yarn.

Am I bitter about having to frog my work? No, not really. Do I consider the hours I put into it a waste of time? Again, no. I have found a few helpful methods that are paying off now that I'm reknitting. The first time, I had to try three different sets of needles before I found ones that are most suitable to the yarn. I thought I was being careful with my crossed stitches but found that careful wasn't enough - extra careful is enough. And I have discovered that I need to switch from my normal Continental style to English for one row of the patterning in order to accomplish that extra care.

So far, the results are stunning. I do love the way this yarn feels and it's such an exquisite pattern that I may have to incorporate this stitch into another project which Giuli suggested (No! Not a blanket, Giuli. Think smaller...much smaller.)

So, on my next knitting post I shall have photos of the finished scarf and I will share my tips on the three things that I have utilized in order to turn this project into a Dilettante's Delight.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Ribbons of Hope Progress

This is just a quickie post. I received the most gorgeous silk yarn on Thursday and am working on the pattern, Ribbons of Hope, from The Unique Sheep. Last night I put in a goodly amount of work whilst watching all my favourite sci-fi shows so I thought I would put up a photo of the progress I've made.

For the math geeks out there (stand up and be proud!) I will share with you that I am 36% finished (yes, I figured rows per inch, number of inches needed, number of pattern repeats, all kinds of fun stuff). The colour may not be exact because I took the pic late at night and had to use a flash. Sorry about that.

I do love the pattern stitch but I can tell you that there are two rows out of the 12-row repeat that have numerous wraps around the needle and that particular movement is causing a bit of achiness in my right wrist. I had to quit last night after a few hours, put some Pain-a-trate on my wrist and took some ibuprofen. I think a good overnight rest has helped and I'm raring to go today.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Under Construction Due to Overactive Organizational Tendencies

For the past few days, I've been listening to lots of podcasts, many of which have a set pattern of the topics they hit on each episode. I've found that I really like this because I know that at a certain point in the show Dr. Gemma will get to her Blather, Meghan will tell us one of her Favourite Things, or David will let us know what's at The Bottom of the Knitting Bag. (And these are just a sample of the podcasts I listen to.) Knitting podcasts will have the obligatory What's On My Needles, but I like the variety of the shows that veer off into something unique.

So, how does this relate to my blog? I've been considering a daily blog with a different topic for each day - since my interests are so scattered, smothered, chunked, diced, topped, capped (ask my kids for the correct order and I'm sure they'll get it - and let me know what I left out). I really think I can come up with at least five regular topics and a wild card so that's what I'll be working on for a couple of days. I'll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging as soon as I go all obsessive-compulsive and litter my desk with an obscene amount of notes, analyzing to my heart's content and, of course, using lots of geeky math skills. (okay, maybe not, but there's still hope)

Here's my obligatory crafting and reading update:

After finishing my slouch hat and Michael's fingerless gloves, I started a pair of fingerless gloves for Giuli in the same mint green as her slouch hat and a pair of baby socks. There's a small baby explosion amongst our friends and I'm experimenting with some toe-up socks as gifts. I'm taking part in the Knitting Purls Toe-Up Sock Knitalong that began on the 17th and hope to make all 3 pair of the baby socks plus a pair of socks for moi during the KAL.

Readingwise, I'm about halfway finished with The Magician's Book, about one hundred pages into Inkheart with Giuli, and barely making a dent in The Lies of Locke Lamora. I have two books on loan, The Well and the Shallows and The Road, so I have to set aside time for them pretty soon.

So, I'll see y'all soon with a revamped schedule of things to come!

Friday, 13 February 2009

US Government Says "Let the Book Burning Commence!"

If you own an original copy of this book, hide it now!

I wasn't prepared to blog right now - after all, it is 4am and I was thinking more along the lines of something resembling a nice warm bed and, who knows, maybe sleep? But, as fate would have it, I just had to read a few more blogposts and, holy cow, take a look at this! A number of y'all know that I have been a children's book collector since way back and my favourites to get my hands on are books from the 1960's and earlier. Well, I don't know how I missed this atrocity but I am absolutely appalled that all the really good books for children are now hazardous to their health...or at least according to the government, that is.

I don't think I could possibly sum up the situation better than the poster of the indicated blog when he said:

"Whatever the future of new media may hold, ours will be a poorer world if we begin to lose (or “sequester” from children) the millions of books published before our own era. They serve as a path into history, literature, and imagination for kids everywhere. They link the generations by enabling parents to pass on the stories and discoveries in which they delighted as children. Their illustrations open up worlds far removed from what kids are likely to see on the video or TV screen. Could we really be on the verge of losing all of this? And if this is what government protection of our kids means, shouldn’t we be thinking instead about protecting our kids from the government?"

Thank you, Walter Olsen, and I do believe I need to add his blog, Overlawyered, to my never-ending reading list.

Also, I would like to thank Chris, author of the book-a-rama blog, for her post which drew my attention to this stupid, stupid law.

What's next, people? Are the book Nazis going to go from house to house, searching to see if we have "dangerous" books on our shelves? After all, I'm sure there are some fanatics out there who would certainly want to protect all those at-risk children from their irresponsible parents who refuse to see the potential health threat lurking in the deep, dark recesses of our bookcases. Sounds ludicrous to you? Of course it does, if you're a rational-minded person. But we shall see...

Personally, I'm wondering if it's time to start the old dumpster-diving routine at the libraries again.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Brain Overload

Is it possible to be unable to blog because you have too many things to blog about? After this past week, I'm thinking the answer is an unequivocal "YES" and therein lies my problem. I have a little notebook in which I began jotting down various and sundry things that I wanted to blog about and so far it looks something like this: Follow the bouncing ball, puns, Ten Percent Won't Pay the Rent, bathroom shelves, visual reminder board. And that doesn't even include the book list or the WIP list.

So, this is my attempt to at least catch up with my reading list, which I think will be the shortest entry of those above.

In the reading aloud category, Giuli and I are enjoying Inkheart. I already read it but I felt I needed to review the first and second books in order to finally read Inkdeath, which has been on my "to read" list for a few months now. We finished Heidi a week or so ago, which has been an ongoing project for way too long.

For non-fiction, I have so many books scattered around the house that I could read something different in every single room, including the hallway in the bookcase across from the washer and dryer. I have two books in the master bathroom (because who among us does not stash books in the bathroom, I ask you?): The New Feminine Brain (because I want to know what was wrong with the old one, of course) and Mindful Knitting. In the guest bathroom (aka the kids' bathroom) are Pickpockets, Beggars, and Ratcatchers and The Wisdom of Insecurity. Amazingly, in the downstairs half-bath, I only have magazines...which shows you that I don't often use that bathroom. Non-fiction I am actually reading before I drop off at night - The Magician's Book, which Paul just finished reading last week. I am sure I will reread the Narnia series after finishing it, too, just as Paul is doing. I'm thinking of using that as my read-aloud series after we finish the Inkheart books.

Fiction - I finished the Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume One, which was actually two books in one volume. I read the first part a couple of months ago and decided I was in the mood for juvenile fiction so went back to it. I'd like to read more by Diana Wynne Jones - of course, the next book in this series was not in stock at Borders the other night. She also wrote Howl's Moving Castle which I'm sure is familiar to many of y'all. I also finished Coraline, which was delightful in a way that I think only Neil Gaiman can provide. Now I am reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, which was recommended by Heather. And my classic book that I put down for a while but will get back into shortly is Don Quixote.

Dare I mention that I have a small collection of books on my desk which I can grab at a moment's notice when the urge strikes? The obligatory Little Oxford English Dictionary and the Visual Quick Tips Microsoft Office 2003 are pretty standard fare on a computer desk, right? Others that might not seem so expected are: The Well and the Shallows, Instant English Literature, Green Clean, The Importance of Living, Once Upon a Galaxy, Shakespeare - The Invention of the Human, The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, and last but not least, Mason*Dixon Knitting. I have not listed the authors here because all these books are on my Shelfari up at the top of my blog.

So, in typing all this up I have realized something that you may have picked up on, too. I think I have a greater attention span when it comes to non-fiction than fiction. I need the continuity of story, which is difficult to do if you are immersed in too many fantasy worlds. Also, when it comes to fiction, I absolutely feel the need to finish the damned thing if I get very far into it. I can't think of any books offhand that I have had to abandon completely, although there are several that I had to start 2 or 3 times before I was in the right mindset to be able to delve into them. Amazingly, Outlander was one of those books. I do have an excuse for the first attempt, though. A friend gave me a copy when I was in the hospital back in '95 when I had Guillain-Barre. I think my attention span was just not up to the task and even Jamie and Claire could not hold my attention. Granted, I didn't get that far into the book before I gave it up. I have no excuse for the second attempt but, as they say, third time's a charm and that time totally sucked me in. Even though I haven't read all the books in the series yet, I'm still excited to see yet another Outlander title coming out soon!

So, how about some feedback from the peanut gallery on this one? What type of reader are you? Scattered and smothered like Waffle House hashbrowns? Perhaps you have a favourite genre? Any books you wanted to throw across the room? (Anxiously awaiting Paul's input on that one) Or what tome do you constantly come back to, rather like a comfort book?

I didn't really pare down my blog topic list because, in looking at my notebook, I see that I have managed to completely avoid every item there. *facepalm*

Oh yes, I am 80 percent finished with my slouch hat! Hooray! I hope to post pictures tomorrow when I finish.

Happy Reading!

OMG I did say I thought this would be a short post. Colour me embarrassed.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Applause for Stephen King, Please

At last year's Dragon*Con I was tickled to hear author Peter David say that he would love to have a book on the NY Times bestseller list like Stephenie Meyer's sappy vampire series but "I can't write that badly" - which drew applause from the audience of published and aspiring writers alike.

Now, Stephen King minces no words as he also slams Meyer. I particularly love the quote:

"The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn." (Wow, does King really use the word "darn"??? I don't remember ever reading it in his many novels.)

I love that! Yes, there are those of us out there who would just as soon use the books as paperweights or flower presses. In fact, when this latest installment came out, Amazon had a huge outpouring of negative reviews.

I don't know about y'all, but I'm looking forward to the full interview of King in the March 6-8 issue of USA WEEKEND.

Monday, 2 February 2009

The Bloggers' Silent Poetry Reading

WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading

WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2009

WHERE: Your blog

WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day

HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to post February 2nd.

RSVP: If you plan to publish, feel free to leave a comment and link on this post. Last year when the call went out there was more poetry in cyberspace than we could keep track of. So, link to whoever you hear about this from and a mighty web of poetry will be spun.

Feel free to pass this invitation on to any and all bloggers.

Thank you, Reya, for beginning what is now an annual event.

And now, one of my favourites:

Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)

The Highwayman



THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.


He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.


Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.


And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—


"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."


He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.



He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
King George's men came matching, up to the old inn-door.


They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.


They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now, keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
She heard the dead man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!


She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!


The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain .


Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!


Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.


He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.


Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

* * * * * *


And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.


Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

The above poem can be found in print, for example, in:
Noyes, Alfred. Collected Poems. New York: Frederick A.
Stokes Company, 1913.
A recording of the poem being sung can be found on:

McKennitt, Loreena. The Book of Secrets [CD]. Burbank, CA:
Warner Bros. Records Inc., 1997.

Conflicting Ground Hog Reports - Who Do You Trust?

Happy Wombat Day! Oh drat, it's that other furry animal, isn't it? Sigh.

Anyway, Punky Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter but our good old reliable General Beauregard Lee had something to say about that. Since the General lives a couple of miles down the street from me, I'm going to go with his prediction. Springtime weather, come on down!

And in the meantime, I'll just hang in there until October 22 for the real Wombat Day.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

My desk area totally rocks

I finally got in the photography mood today, so here are pics of my dad's carpentry creativity that I blogged about recently. Yes, that is some wild and wacky pipe cleaner art created by Giuli that is hanging on the wall and on the computer tower, with the exception of the pet mouse in the exercise wheel which Mary made for me. As you can see, I now have about double the space for storing the necessities of life: pens, pencils, oddball knitting needles, scissors, tissues, notepads, sticky notes, my business cards, knitting pattern-a-day calendar, and about 8 or 10 of the latest books I'm reading or using for reference. And, of course, the ball winder.

This shot gives you a closer view of the right-hand section of the L-shaped bookshelf. I am so pleased with this new arrangement. Everything is at hand and, since the desk is a wooden door sitting on two file cabinets, you know that those file cabinets are full of things I need to keep handy also (like the Sims2 and Lara Croft gaming guides, software, magazines that aren't organized elsewhere...oh, right, and even files.)

So, for those of you who are jealous because your daddy isn't as handy as mine, I feel your pain. ;-) But, in the meantime, I'll just enjoy my nifty desk space and you can picture me here the next time you see me Plurking or hanging out on Facebook.

Oh yeah, for those of y'all who are Alan Rickman fans, don't you just love that desktop picture?

I think Jimmy Hoffa may have been hiding in my dryer...

...and thereby lies a cautionary tale.

Last night I began a crazed cleaning, reorganizing binge. Don't ask me where I got the energy because I have no clue. The Java Monster drink is still in the fridge so that didn't do it. Apparently the neat fairy smacked me upside the head when I wasn't looking and it worked. For starters, I popped into the local Publix last night and bought a large box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, a two-quart jug of white vinegar, and a few bars of castile soap. This is to go along with the book I had just purchased at Borders, Green Clean by Linda Mason Hunter and Mikki Halpin. Armed with my natural cleaning supplies, I was ready to clean something...anything.

Of course, I went home, putzed around in the kitchen and rearranged a few things, then promptly got on the computer for a while, watched Battlestar Galactica, and went back to the computer to goof around on Facebook. Yep, I really got cleaning. I did, however, do a load of laundry and have started using my dryer balls. I can't tell if they are softening anything but there's no static so the jury is still out on that one.

Now, those of y'all who really know me can attest to the fact that I just get this urge to move furniture at, say, midnight or thereabouts. Yep, that's the night owl in me. The nocturnal wombat nature just emerges without warning. And, aha! I'm going to attack the kitchen! I'm talking really attacking it this time.

The kitchen now has real honest-to-goodness counter space. Everything is gone on the main countertop that separates the dining room from the actual cooking area. I moved the microwave into the corner, sitting kitty-corner and facing the cooking space and there is a small bowl for the bananas out. That's it. The box of vitamins is neatly in the cabinet under the silverware drawer. The breadmaker is under another cabinet. The two irons and the blender are in another cabinet. Everything is still neat in the cabinets - I didn't overload them - and I can see into the dining room now. Awesome. But, that's not all...(we'll send you a second set of Ginsu about that) I also cleared off the other counter because I moved the microwave from that area. Now I only have two ceramic jars which hold tea bags and Sweet & Low, and the electric tea kettle. The pseudo-butcher block countertops are all scrubbed and pretty and the kitchen looks twice as large.

That was a pretty good accomplishment and I decided to let things go at that...for a while. Then, at about 3am, I got another burst of energy. I headed back to the dining room and started rearranging things. I moved two bookcases and the table. Once again, another room that looks so much larger than it did before. I'll take some pictures tomorrow and put them up. There are still a few boxes in the dining room but I will just have to attack them little by little and toss what I can, then probably store stuff over at Dad's if I really need to keep anything.
Well, tomorrow is another day - right, Scarlett? So, tomorrow being today (hope you followed that logic) I wasn't finished with my wacky cleaning extravaganza. I vacuumed the area where Heather's piggers had been living while they visited and moved all the crates with my knitting books back in here. That made me happy for a while and I finished the fingerless gloves I was working on just to accomplish one more thing. But that still wasn't enough for one day.

Aha! Let's check out the dryer. I had a sneaky suspicion that, although I am very good about cleaning out the lint filter, some of the more persistent lint may have fallen down below into no-man's-land. So, I thought I would just get the vacuum and attach the hose thingee (yes, that's the technical term) and have at it. So, yep, there was some lint...and there was some more lint...and then I got the flashlight. Holy crap! There was enough lint down there in the bowels under the dryer to make a small wombat! I plurked to my buddies that, for all I knew, Jimmy Hoffa could have been hiding down there. I must have spent about a half hour wiggling the vacuum hose down there and sucking up gobs of lint. It was disgusting. And I am just appalled that I never even knew that crap accumulated like that.

So, now I want everybody to run (don't walk) to your dryer, remove the lint filter, take a flashlight and check out what's lurking under there. That really has to be a fire hazard so I'm not kidding - please go check it out.

Now, some knitting content. I finished a pair of fingerless gloves that a friend had ordered so I can take them to him tomorrow and happily get paid! These gloves were really taking on an albatross factor in that I had to knit the left one three times. Yes, I had issues with the patterning so I took it apart. Then I was nearly finished and about to bind off the thumb when I discovered I had two right gloves. I had followed my lovely pattern in my steno book and I simply copied what I had done on the first glove - therefore ending up with the thumb in the same place. Duh! So, I took it apart again. Third time's a charm and, yes, I did finish it today after giving it an overnight break. Interestingly, I'll note here that the two photos of the gloves were taken with and without flash just for comparison's sake. The shot taken with natural light coming in from the window is not as true to the colour as the other shot with the flash. Shoots my theory all to hell because I figured I needed to get some nice sunlight to get decent colour. Oh well. I need to just leave the techie photo stuff to Steve.

I still have Heather's blanket in the works and one glove is finished for Michael but I have to head back to Joann's to get another skein of Woolease in order to make the second one. I haven't finished the chemo cap slouch hat I was designing because I needed to let the design sort of ferment whilst I thought about whether I liked it or not. I've decided I'm going to take the last few inches out and rework them because I changed the patterning and, although the pattern is very pretty and all cable-y, it doesn't really go with the first part of the hat so I'm probably going to make an entire hat with that pattern next. It just isn't making me happy for this one. Frankly, it looks like I took two different patterns and put them together. Which is what I did. Bad knitter - no cookie.

However, I really couldn't resist the idea of actually casting on something for me. I mean, I've knitted slouch hats for Caitlin, Mary, and Giuli this winter and I wanted one, too. I bought some lovely wool on sale a couple of weeks ago in a deep purple and a dark medium blue but I've been putting off starting a new project until I finished my orders for those fingerless gloves. So, after determining that Jimmy Hoffa was not hiding in my dryer, I wound the purple yarn, decided it was too dark to really show off the patterning in the hat, then wound the blue yarn, and just finished casting on for this project. Which brings me to something else I want to share my my knitting buds...

I have previously said how much I really love the Gretel pattern by Ysolda but I just have to rave about the fact that she has tutorials on her site, too. The cast-on for her hat is a tubular cast-on and, if you're like me and a visual learner, reading somebody's directions is not always enough to understand what's the what. However, the video on Ysolda's site is superb. And I noticed this evening that she has a tutorial on jogless stripes which looks pretty easy to follow. I didn't realize that these are also described as helix stripes. I've made a hat with several different colours using the helix stripe method and it's very cool. I'm thinking about just following Ysolda's tutorial and making the little bear hat that she has pictured so Mr. Teddy Bear can trade out his Jayne hat that's way too big for him.

OMG, that reminds me of something I saw late last night on Lime & Violet's Daily Chum. It's a Cylon Centurian hat! I am pretty sure I'm going to have to make several of these for Dragon*Con. Or, perhaps a Star Wars Stormtrooper knit hat by the same designer.

For those of y'all who are just geeking out over the knitted sci-fi stuff, check out this site - Geek Crafts. I leave you with that. Go - embrace the geekiness!

And, just so you can see the "library" area in the studio, here's another photo. Note that the two blue crates are schoolbooks but the rest is all knitting related. The fat notebooks are, of course, full of knitting and crocheting patterns. And the fishing tackle box - knitting supplies.