Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Spinning sprinting.

Last Saturday, someone in a group I'm apart of on Ravelry challenged the group at large to pack their spindle of choice as full of singles as they could manage. Since I decided that I wanted to get more spinning done, I took up my spindles and go to work. I then thought why not expand upon this. Thus, I set the goal for myself to spin as much as I could between last Saturday and the first.

So, the picture to the right is what I had done on my little supported spindle over the weekend. I then wound that off onto a paper tube bobbin and I have done up more. The supported spindle is a cherry and rosewood piece. It weights four tenths of an ounce. The fiber I'm using is undyed Shetland wool roving. I started out with carding it into rolags because I thought it would be easier to use with the supported spindle. I was wrong and then went to using the roving as it was.

The picture to the left is what I did on my lovely drop spindle with the clay whorl. I honestly have no idea what the weight of the whorl is. I'm half tempted to step on the scale holding it and do a little math to figure it out. And then I realize what a terrible, terrible geek that makes me and I reconsider the prospect. I'll be honest, I think I enjoyed using the drop spindle more then the supported one.

I'll be submitting both pictures, as well as a picture of what I have done between yesterday and today this evening. I'm really glad that someone gave me an idea for how to correct the problem I was having with my spinning trying to work its way off of the support spindle. An adjustment to how I was winding it on and I have pretty much doubled what I had loaded on there.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Belated Valentine for my Husband


Please, let me make plain the depth of what I feel for you. The deeps of the ocean are but a thimbleful of water compared to my love for you. If the infinite vastness of space were translated into depth, it may begin to demonstrate how dear you are to me. I fear that all the tongues of man are not enough to express this great and all consuming passion I feel for you.

It is beyond my ability to express my gratitude for how you have supported and loved me through all of life's storms thus far. You are truly the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have had times where I honestly doubted my abilities and strengths. You have never once questioned if I was strong enough to endure the slings and arrows of life's torments. Indeed, you have always exhorted me to keep hope and encouraged me to press forward in realizing my dreams.

Some days, I am in awed silence of the devotion you have shown to me. What pure heart is it that burns with such love that can endure the whirlwind that has been my life? The four years that I was away at college felt to be an eternity, yet you remained as faithful as sunrise. When rumors threatened to split us apart, you turned a deaf ear to them and cleaved to the truth of our relationship. Indeed, even as tragedy has come into our lives, you have remained my constant companion.

The last ten years have been the happiest of my life for I have been wedded to you. It feels as though it has been a short time that we have been married. Then I look at our sons and realize that we have been married longer then a bare four years. I have had days where I have struggled and I have had days where things were terribly confusing. I would not exchange even those difficult days for all the world. In the end, I still have you by my side.

With you, I have realized my dreams. I am honored to be your wife and I love you with all that I have, am, and will be. Happy Valentine's Day, love.

Most Faithfully Yours,
Your Adoring Wife

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Current blanket in progress.

I'm making blankets as our yule gifts this year to Moo and Sophia. This is Moo's. The colors here are what I'm going to be doing for this project. On the outsides will be bands of the 'petal pink' and then alternating sections of pink camo and 'bonbon print' until it is wide enough to fit a twin bed. On the outermost sides of the blanket, I will have two rows of half double crochet in gold. I'm debating if I want to do that all the way around it or not. I'm still undecided, to be perfectly honest.

Because Moo's favorite color is pink, I am using colorways that feature it heavily. The gold is just because it was what I had on hand when I started.
You can see here that I'm not only alternating colors here but also stitches. I'm doing nine rows of wattle stitch followed by nine rows of granny stripe. At the beginning of this, I chained 300 stitches. Then I worked my two rows of half doubles.

I'm thinking that I may want to name this thing when it's done, but I honestly have no idea what to name it. I think I am approximately a quarter of the way done here.

Februrary Beer Tasting: Blueberry Ale & Apricot Wheat Ale

This month, I forgot to post earlier when I sampled some of Ithca Beer Co.'s Apricot Wheat ale. I also had a bottle of Blue Point Brewing Company's Blueberry Ale. I'll start with the Blueberry Ale.

When you open up the bottle, it has a strong scent of blueberries. The color is a nice golden hue and it doesn't have gobs of foam to it when you pour it out. (Which I prefer over really foamy brews, it seems.) I tried a sip of it warm and it was ok. I then chilled it, which was superior to the warm sip.

The first thing that hits you when you sip this is the flavor of fresh blueberries. I was surprised by how well they captured that. It was totally unexpected. The blueberry flavor then melted into the crisp, clean tones of the ale proper. As far as ales go, I can't say that this is my new favorite but I would be willing to drink this with out giving the person handing it to me a funny look. I had it with hamburgers and it went surprisingly well. The suggestion of fruit was balanced well with the fresh veggies that I put on my burger.

The apricot wheat ale is definitely one I would have again. I had a sip of it warm and it was pretty good. Cold, it was almost as good as the Lambic that I first had. (I haven't found anything that has supplanted Lambic Peche yet. That stuff is fantastic!) Another light colored ale, I found it had a bright flavor.

The apricot was one of the after notes. While it wasn't the same as biting into a fresh apricot, it was still pleasantly potent. I had this by itself, so I would be at a loss for ideas as to what it would be good paired with. Given the fruit elements, I would probably have it with something else that helps play that up. That final hit of sweetness after the sharpness of the other flavors is really delightful.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Long day.

I'd like to say that I accomplished a lot today but I don't feel like I did. I knit a few more rows on the kerchief that I am making. I managed to keep the kitchen clean despite making meals (dishes are not my friend). The kids played relatively well. We even went outside for a little while in the afternoon.

Right now, however, I feel like I am about as useful as a bump on a log. I am more then a little upset with this writer's block that I'm struggling with. I don't know what to do about this contest for Amazon. I keep trying to put together a pitch for my novel and it keeps coming out like garbage. It makes me want to pull my hair out with frustration, to be painfully honest.

I am somewhat dreading tomorrow. I have two appointments back to back. I worry that I am going to be late to the second and that this will be problematic. I suppose, however, that is life and if I'm late, then I will be late. I will do my best to keep a cheerful outlook on all of this.

Look for the positives and all that. Who knows how well this is going to work out.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Conservative values bear strange fruit.

Over the course of the last week, I have seen more and more evidence that the political movement of 'conservatives' has become ethically questionable. Indeed, I see that there are many who have become down right repugnant. I try not to think about the vitriol that gets spewed about by people in the increasingly polarized political climate of the USA. It makes me heartsick, gives me heartburn, and at times makes me nauseated all at the same time.

I've got a real problem with people who seem to think that their First Amendment rights absolve them of responsibility for their actions. I think that Phil Robertson was given an appropriate response by A&E when he said what he did. They had to send a clear message to him that his actions, as a public figure and de facto representative of A&E, were not appropriate because they were not inline with the views of the corporation. If you walk around waving your fame as a television star, you should expect that you are going to be viewed with more scrutiny then your neighbor down the street.

A wise person would conduct themselves in such a manner that it doesn't reflect poorly on their employers *ON NATIONAL TELEVISION* and in major media outlets. If Phil Robertson had said what he did in a private conversation, it would be an entirely different ball of wax. He said it as a public figure conducting an interview. The cameras were on. If they were off and he said it off the record, it would be the same as if he said it in a private conversation. Then, in those circumstances, I would have been inline with the folks saying that A&E was in the wrong to take the actions they did. But he didn't do that.

I've a problem with people who seem to feel that their religious beliefs must be the law of the land. I have a BIG problem with that. When a "religious freedom" bill that is designed to perpetuate the discrimination against a minority population in this country is waved around as how people are going to be practicing those religious beliefs, that's wrong. Let's look at this from two separate angles.

First, the Constitution of the United States has this one little section that a lot of people keep forgetting. That First Amendment that those Conservatives I'm speaking about love, they're as selective about that as they are about their Bible. Because if you take a moment to read the bloody thing, you'll notice something really big here. For all y'all who don't have it easily accessible, here's the text:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

That "religious freedom" bill and related ephemera that is getting thrown around in the halls of the legislative branch in damn near the entire nation, it is taking a value set from a religion and making it law. This is a clear violation of the separation of church and state.

Now, there's one other angle to keep in mind here. This kind of proposed law is a blatant violation of civil liberties. You know the ones that say that people can't be discriminated on the basis of gender, creed, etc. Yeah, those rights that people want to wave around when it keeps them all cushy and comfortable but don't want to extend to those people who they find unsavory... You know who I'm talking about. I won't even mention the C- word here.

One other big thing that has been bothering the hell out of me, when an advertisement on nationally syndicated radio says that they're going to inform us about what the "bible says about interracial marriage" that tells me that we've got a big problem with discrimination. What color your skin is doesn't determine if you are a person. Attitudes that there is something somehow wrong or questionable about interracial marriage shows that you're a bigoted asshole.

Additionally, when I am out and about in public and I over hear casual conversations wherein people don't think anything about saying "not that I'm racist or anything, but so-and-so is a Jew and you know how they are" or that people of Arab descent are "sand niggers" I get torn between the urge to verbally eviscerate the person who dropped that kind of comment and to go off into a corner and quietly vomit. Who in the name of Hel has decided that this kind of behavior is 'ok'? You'd be fighting mad if someone was talking about you in this fashion or your race.

And then there's the topic of sex. I could rant on that one for a while. But I want to narrow my focus on one specific incident. Maybe you haven't seen this news story yet. I'll warn you, it's disgusting. A 5 year old girl is raped. The mother is told 'boys will be boys' by the county attorney's office. This is wrong on so many levels I have no idea where it would be best to begin. Let's start off with the fact that a KINDERGARTENER was raped. Not 'merely' molested, but raped.

The fact that it was done by a teenager really doesn't excuse the matter in any sense. For the county attorney's office to take such a cavalier attitude towards this kind of case is beyond reprehensible. This is a crime that has, quite possibly, caused this little girl physical injury that she may carry with her for the rest of her life. Why? Because her body isn't as developed as an older child. To put it plainly, she's built smaller so the act of rape will have greater likelihood of causing tearing within her body. And let's not forget the psychological effects this will have. And those will last for a very, very long time.

Next, when sexual assault is lumped together with consensual sexual activity and viewed as something to be moralized in the same fashion, you start to see things like this happening. People take the word rape and assume that on some level the victim wanted it or it wouldn't have happened. We have had people on the floors of Congress go so far as to say that the body could reject the semen of a rapist if it were a 'legitimate' rape. (Which completely defies logic and biology, but we will just let that lay because we've got bigger fish to fry here.)

Consensual sex is worlds apart from sexual violence. The 'rape culture' that people talk about, this is what the attitudes of 'boys will be boys' comes out of. This is where the question of what the rape victim was wearing comes out of. This is where the question of if the molestation victim orgasmed came from. Rape culture ignores the fact that a person has been victimized and instead focuses on diminishing their humanity so that culture doesn't have to feel icky about the idea that anyone could be victimized.

No one asks what the victim of a robbery was wearing. No one asks if the victim of a beating was drunk. No one asks if the person who was knifed enjoyed it. These are questions that no one would dare to ask such obviously victimized people. But the double standard that sex crimes are fair play for these kinds of questions is beyond the pale. To have people in the position of power and have the capacity to get justice for a victim of such a crime be so dismissive is beyond my ability to express bad.

Circling back to that video I linked at the beginning here, I just have to say, for people who claim to have the values of this nation at the core of their political ideology, these Conservatives are doing a damn bad job of it. We just went backwards fifty years. You know what was going on then? Lynchings. Murder for being black in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

We should never as a nation go back to that. It was and still is wrong.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Keep calm and carry on.

I've been spending some quality time at my altar praying today. It has been a particularly trying time over the last few weeks for reasons that I'm not entirely comfortable talking about here. What I can share, however, is pretty big stuff all on its own.

I may or may not have mentioned it before now, but I am diagnosed with Bipolar II, social phobia, and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. With all three conditions, the more stress I am under, the more problems I have with them. Over the last few months, Beloved and I have had more then our share of stress to deal with.

Some of the stress is just the run of the mill nonsense that goes with being a parent and dealing with the current economy in Western New York. (I swear bread and milk get more expensive every other week.) Some of the stress is from the challenges of getting the boys appointments taken care of.

As a result of all this scheduling and running hither and yon, we now have a diagnosis for Cuddle Bear. He's been diagnosed as autistic. This will, in theory, make it easier for the professionals to help him out with stuff at school. At his parent-teacher conference a little while back, they were telling me how they are lobbying for him to get a 1:1 aide. I'm hopeful that this diagnosis will help them obtain what additional supports he needs.

 All of that said, I'm scared.

I'm scared that the developmental delays will become worse as time goes on. I'm scared that I am somehow contributing to their problems by trying to compensate for the difficulties that they have.

Most of all, I am scared that autism means that my boys are going to be developmentally disabled for all their life. The doctors tell me that Cuddle Bear is on the moderate to high functioning end of the spectrum. This should give me hope. For some reason, though, I only feel dread and fear right now. Thus, I pray.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

New novel in the works.

I'm working on the third installment in my fantasy series. So far, I am 3,675 words in. I kinda feel like what I'm writing at the moment is just fluff. However, I felt that way about the whole thing when I wrote The Red Chair.

I did some crafting this morning when I was waiting for my coffee to finish brewing. It is a little ninja, in case you couldn't tell. I kinda like the way he came out looking like a stick figure. As a proof of concept piece, I think it came out pretty cool.

I'm considering making a few more as key rings or jewelery. I'm not decided yet.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Dreaming of Spring.

In the midst of putting out the recycling this afternoon, I looked at the corner of the front yard where I have been attempting to do a bit of gardening and the spot where I was trying to put in a flowerbed last year. I felt kinda bad because of all the weeds poking up out of the snow.

I recognize, however, that now is not the time for ripping weeds out. Now is the time for planning. When the kids go to bed, I think I am going to pull out the graph paper and my colored pencils.

I want to attempt vegetables again and I want lots of flowers. I also want to grow some strawberries. I realize that the lighting conditions of the yard is going to make some elements of this challenging. As much as I would love to be able to grow stuff like tomatoes and peppers, I am going to be severely limited in what space I am going to have available.  A lot of the plants that I really would love to have are full sun and I simply don't have the space for that.

Thinking about that burn pit that I want to turn into a flower bed, I think I'm going to start stockpiling newspapers. Then, when the weather gets nice, cut the dead weeds down and put a solid layer of paper down before I do some manure and then some top soil. While I could theoretically get some manure from my folks (they're raising pigs on the farm) I think I am going to go with buying bagged stuff. Two reasons for that. One, it will be easier to transport. Two, it won't make the car smell awful.

If I had a pickup truck, I wouldn't worry much about it. I'd just throw the manure in the back with a tarp over it. That, however, isn't what I have to work with. I can only do so much with a little hatchback. I have been dealing with the gardening itch by talking to my houseplants. At some point in the near future, I have to repot several plants. That should help soothe that urge.

I am going to do my 'indoor gardening' when the kids are off at school. Last thing I need is little hands getting into stuff and making an utter mess of it all. It's one thing when we're outside and I don't have to worry about getting mud out of the carpet.