About Crickets And Criquettes And Such...

Even though I hate mid-summer, I do love the sound of the crickets singing their little hearts out for a date. And there are lots of Los Lonely Cricket-Boys singing for some sweet cricket-lovin' these past few days. Since I don't have any exciting Knitting news to share, I thought I'd turn our thoughts to our little crunchy friends today.

Crickets come in different sizes and colors:

They may be famous:

You can get them covered in velvety chocolate:

Or munch them straight from the can:

Did you know some crickets are particularly devout?:

This is also a Criquette.
She loveslovesloves crickets. For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner and for little crunchy snacks.
So if you are a Los lonely cricket who is thinking of taking up residence in my garage or basement, please reconsider if you value your life. And in case you are a cricket who doesn't read, please note the following scematic:



So for those crickets out there on the prairie who may not remember the Great Basement Cricket Massacres of 2004 (conducted single-pawedly by Criquette), let this serve as your final warning.


Ramblings From A Heat-Stroked Brain

As a cool-weather junkie, I have always intensely disliked the summer, especially the stretch in between early July and late August, even as a child. Midsummer is the ugliest time of year. The quality of light is harsh and ugly, the plants and grass are drying up and looking ugly, my hair and skin look and feel ugly. It's hard to breathe, think, move. I've noticed that my mood becomes more irritable and depressed.

In fact, mental health scientists are beginning to recognize a phenomenon similar to seasonal affective disorder that strikes many people in the winter months. It is being referred to as summer seasonal affective disorder. I've thought of it as my "summer sickness" for years now and thought it was just another of my little eccentricities. However, I am comforted by two thoughts: (1) if scientists are giving it a name, it's not just my imagination that I feel this way every year; and (2) there is an end in sight - at some point, the autumn will be here and I will be in euphoria once again until next July. It's interesting...my youngest brother (aka "Air Force Boy") seems to have the same kind of reaction to the summer as well, only I don't think he is aware of the SSAD phenomenon.

Thank God for Knitting, that wonderful activity that can be comfortably indulged without having to go into the heat (except to go get more yarn). I recently saw a question posted on the Knitting Novices forum, as to whether people were still Knitting despite the heat. Heck yes! In fact, do Obsessed Knitters ever not want to Knit?

As I was driving home from a yarn run yesterday, I stopped at a light that is across from a community pool. Temperature was around 100, heat index 107. So hot, the pool was almost deserted. But laying on a chaise, in the full, beating sun, frying her brains and body to a crisp, was a bikini-clad Knitter, needles flying on some wooly project. No question, this was perhaps the Queen of Obsessed Knitters. I bow to her level of commitment to Knitting and hope she had on a really good sunscreen.

The BIL kureyon scarf came off the needles yesterday and is looking amazing. I plan on blocking it tonight and will post a picture next week. And I started a new scarf, from some beautiful Noro Iro yesterday - since it's a silk/wool blend, it feels a little cooler to work with. I got about 2/3's of the way through and should have finished this afternoon, except for the fact that I forgot my Adderall today and totally forgot to pay attention to the (simple) pattern so now must frog 2 rows of lengthwise stitching. RRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! So I decided to put it down, do some other stuff for a while (like clean house, make groceries, do laundry) and then pick it up later this evening.



Now it is later this evening, and I decided it would be less frustrating to just rip the whole thing than try to carefully pick up 350 stitches without twisting or dropping them. While I was at it, I decided to cut out an olive-brownish-yellow section of Iro that just did not go with the other bright, summery colors. I also decided this was a good time to learn how to do a Russian join. This particular was not a good candidate since there is no twist to speak of. But I did a good enough job and have learned a new Knitting skill.

So now I am off to cast on and furiously Knit away at what I am calling the Gaugin scarf, since the colors remind me of his lush tropical paintings. And just to thumb my nose at the heat, I am going to watch a DVD called "The Cooler". Take that, heat wave.


Where Are The Baby Hats?

Now I could have sworn that I posted a blog with pictures of the baby hats I have completed for my charity Knitting group. But I can't find them anywhere! I can only attribute this to either an ADHD moment or a hormone moment, neither of which are pretty, let me tell you. Especially when it comes to remembering.

I discovered this fact when I went to send my first reply to the Knitting Novices group over at Yahoo, in which another novice asked for help with figuring out sizes for baby hats. I was going to use a link to this blog so she could see the pictures, and realized "What pictures?" This shook me up so much, i almost lost my courage to send the reply. You see, I've never done that sort of thing before. Isn't it amazing how such a small thing can make a person so nervous? Like, if I get it wrong, what will they do...fire me?

So here are the pictures, taken in my June garden:

So, in case you are wondering, here are the relevant facts.The pink/white/yellow/green hat and the blue striped hat are based on the watermelon hat pattern so kindly provided by the Yarn Harlot. These were both knit with Simply Soft yarn, using US9 circs. The green and yellow hats are the result of my playing around with some scrap yarn, in my effort to find a pattern I like, in addition to the little roll brims.

I still have about 3 or 4 little premie hats that just need to be stitched up and then will be ready to go to Truman hospital.

I have cast-on and have about 4 rows of the Kureyon scarf and now I get it! I knew it would self-stripe, but I had no idea all of the subtle shade differences are in that one little ball of wool. It's so much fun to see what's coming next. I can't tell yet if I like the way the garter stitch is going to look knit lengthwise, and only hope we don't hear the croaking of friggin froggin around here!


Grits And ButterBeans

GRITS (Aug 24 - Sept 23)
Your highest aim is to be with others like yourself. You like to huddle together with a big crowd of other Grits. You love to travel though, so maybe you should think about joining a club. Where do you like to go? Anywhere they have cheese, gravy, bacon, butter, or eggs. If you can go somewhere where they have all these things, that serves you well.

BUTTER BEAN (Oct 24 - Nov 22)

Always invite a Butter Bean to a party because Butter Beans get along well with everybody. You, as a Butter Bean, should be proud. You've grown on the vine of life, and you feel at home no matter what the setting. You can sit next to anybody. However, you, too, shouldn't have anything to do with Moon Pies.

When I was a child, never, never did I ever imagine that I would marry a bowl of grits. David Cassidy, maybe, but grits, never. But here I am, and I must say, it's not so bad.

I had an email the other day from a friend who apparently has just discovered the Southern Zodiac. I was first introduced to this many, many years ago after I first married Mr. Grits. He was not at all amused since (1) he hates grits, being a Yankee and all that, and (2) has a low tolerence for silliness. Personally, I think he was just jealous that he was not born to be a butter bean.

Being re-introduced to this again was a lot of fun. Of course, I had to share this with Mr. Grits again, who STILL was not amused. But I'm okay with it, because I looove grits, especially when they're swimming in butter. But not butter beans, I don't think that would quite be right.

But here on the prairie, this butter bean sure does like being with her bowl of grits. And thanks her lucky stars she didn't end up with a Moon Pie!


Christmas in July

Maybe it's denial, or maybe it's a way of coping with the heat, or maybe it's just plain boredom. Whatever the reason, I gave in to an overwhelming urge to go to lys'g this afternoon. I was trying hard to stay away, because the last thing I need is more yarn and I accept the fact that I am not a person who can go to a knitting shop and "just look". So I justified the trip and the certain purchase by deciding that I need to knit some Christmas gifts and if I wait too long, I'll never get them finished on time, blahblahblah. So I found the idea for the pattern in the book Teen Knits. It calls for 2 colors of yarn (100 yds of each color), to be knit horizontally, first one color, then the second color. The end, that's it, how easy!

So I went to the first shop, a somewhat new place called Cottage Fiber in Mission, Kansas. PJ, the owner, is actually a spinner and weaver, and not a knitter. That means there's more roving and batting and other strange fluffy hunks of fiber than there is actual yarn for knitting. She does have lots of hanks of natural-colored yarns but I am not yet ready to try hand-dying so I did manage to restrain myself there. (Mental note to self - this is where I am heading when it is time to try hand-dying my own - I am already lusting for some silky alpaca that will knit up into a luscious scarf pour moi.)

Since I was "in the neighborhood" - alright, 10 miles away, close enough - I had to go explore a shop I have heard much about, The Studio. I don't know if I like it as much as KnitWit and The Yarn Shop, but I certainly liked it enough to buy yarn for not one, but 2 Christmas gifts! I did like the gals who work there a lot. not only were they all helpful, but there was a conversation going on about "knitting ADD" AKA the phenomenon of having about 23 projects all going at the same time. I love it, felt right at home with my own kind. Plus, they must have every single kind and color of Noro yarn, about which I have read so much on various knitting blogs. This will be my first time - popping the Noro cherry, so to speak. It already is enticing me to forget all of the other yarns that sit waiting for me, either on needles or in the stash, and cast it on, now, tonight. I am soooo weak....

So here is a picture of the latest stash members:

Starting from the left, the Noro Kuryon (#51) and it's partner, Lamb's Pride worsted in black; Cascade 128 Chunky (#183) and it's partner, Classic Elite "Beatrice" (#3272). It looks like the Kuryon will knit up in shades of grey, dark blue-green, sienna, and black - perfect for my quirky bil who takes himself way too seriously. The Cascade is a gorgeeeous shade of dark loden and the Beatrice, a smooth merino, is composed of 2 variegated yarns twisted together. It is in beautiful colors that remind me of pretty camo - light and dark leafy greens, chocolate and mocha, and light and dark thundercloud grey. It should make a sophisticated fashion statement for one of my Bambi-hunting brothers, who is obsessed with deer in much the same way I am obsessed with Knitting. Only this scarf will be his city scarf, used when he out hunting for parking places and the best spot for lunch.

So now I am going to sign off so I can go and pretend to knit some swatches and get started on Christmas, even though it's just July.


Baked Beagle Brains

And so it came to pass that on the fifth day, God created the creatures that would inhabit the land, sky and water. And God saw that it was good. And He told the animals to get in line for their brains. But lo, the Beagles were not paying attention because they were off chasing the Bunnies, so they did not get any brains.
But because they were otherwise cute and loveable, God blessed them on the sixth day by creating Humans, to care for them and keep them safe from their own selves.
And God saw that it was good. Amen. (from The Good News Bible For Beagles, 2nd ed.)

Now I love Abbie dearly but must be honest. Beagles are not known as the Einsteins of the canine world. They are not the brightest light in the chandelier or the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you get my meaning. And although Abbie is not a 100% beagle, she did not inherit her brains from the Jack Russell portion of her DNA.

I offer this as proof:

The temps all week have hit record highs, as in 100F degrees in the shade, heat indices of 110-115. And if we don't keep the porch door firmly shut during the day, guess who's out on the porch, laying in the full, beating hot sun? She will eventually cook herself for so long that she'll finally stagger inside like a drunk puppy and collapse into a panting heap. Then, 5 minutes later, she tries to head back out to bake what few brains she was given. She is relentless in her begging to go out this week, but, as her Humans, it is our sacred duty to protect her from herself and keep her inside, no matter how much she pouts and huffs.

And don't believe anyone who tries to tell you that Abbie's Human mom doesn't have any brains, either. Just because I've pulled the thick, wooly basketweave scarf back out this week to knit on doesn't neccessarily mean my brains are baked too. It just means that my brain is good and properly hooked on yarn. And God saw that it was good. Amen.


Back To Normal

My brother and his family have left. The house needs straightening, sheets and towels need to be washed. The cats have come out of hiding. It was a good visit, and just the right length as we all still want to visit each other again. We went to Hunters' Heaven (aka Cabella's) for my brother, so he can find new toys that will help him kill more Bambies. Lucky for deer in Clinton, Mississippi, he just ended up getting lots of clothing items with Bambi pictures on them. I went "hunting in the trophy gallery with my camera and got a good closeup of one of Bambi's relatives that I plan on putting up at the edge of my yard to warn all deer passing through to stay away from my flowers (aka "deer candy")or they will join this guy in the trophy gallery at Cabella's!

We ate lots of good food, especially Kansas City barbeque, which I would argue is maybe the best barbeque anywhere (and please do not send coments to the contrary as you will not change my mind. And I am done talking about this now.). We saw "Pirates of the Carribean", which was more dark and violent than the first, and not nearly as good, but any movie with Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom eye-candy still gets at least 2 popcorn bags in my review.

One of my favorite things was going hiking at the arboretum. The weather was dry and in the high 70's with a brilliant blue sky and light breeze - could not have been better. The woods were spiritual in their beauty. Abbie got to go and pretend she was tracking rabbits for us - she was ecstatic! She started moaning and yipping when we were still at least 2 miles away (don't feel sorry for Chloe - she doesn't have the stamina for hiking so she got to hang out in the yard with "dad", plus she got some extra treats). Here are some pictures from the trail:

And in the course of all of our driving about to various places, I got in enough Knitting to make 2 baby hats for my charity knitting group. I'm really obsessed with baby hats right now. Every one is a variation in pattern at this point, as I am experimenting to find one I like the best. so far, I am still not satisfied and so the quest continues. The other poor projects sit in my bag languishing...


Company's Coming

Life can get lonely here on the prairie. That's why it's good to have company come to visit. In this case, my brother, his wife and one of my nieces (who briefly lived on the prairie with us after Hurricane Katrina left her temporarily homeless). They are very easy to be with, low maintenance and just plain old fun. I had quite the love/hate relationship with this brother (aka "the Instigator") when we were kids. I am the oldest and he was the "baby" at the time, before my sister came along and usurped his place (hahahaha!) - but that is a different story for another day.

My second brother and I were convinced he was spoiled rotten and did our best to torment him. Unfortunately, he decided that it was his mission in life to make our lives miserable, which he did quite successfully. He picked at us, teased us and tattled on us constantly. The worst thing of all was when he would slap himself and make himself start crying. He would call for our mom and when she came to see what the fuss was all about, he would tell her that we had hit him. Meanwhile, we would be playing Barbies or a game in a different room, minding our own business. Mom always believed him and would descend on us in a fury, spanking us and sending us to our rooms for the rest of the day. And there would be the Instigator, laughing at us behind her back. We would pray at night for the gypsys to steal him or for our parents to finally admit that they had brought the wrong baby home from the hospital and return him to his real family.

We grew up to become good friends and I love him and his wonderful family dearly. He still instigates, teases and torments, of course, but maybe I have grown wise to his tricks and can no longer be riled. I am happy to report, however, that about a year before our mom died, we were all visiting by her house. The subject got around to when we were kids, and the Instigator's trick to get us in trouble. My mother had never believed that he would do something like that. Well, he finally admitted it and my mom was forced to face the ugly truth of what a little demon she had spawned! So we all had a really good laugh. And I get even with my brother by giving him really dumb gifts every birthday. This year will be a box of chocolate-covered creams with cockroach centers. Yes! Really! And, being the funny guy that he is, he will love it!

And now, when I am counseling families about sibling conflicts, I hear from many, many kids how they have a sibling who will hit or scratch themselves and blame it on my innocent patient who then gets in big trouble. And of course, the parents never believe them. It is always such a JOYFUL thing for me to validate these kids and help the parents come up with a suitable consequence for the instigator in their family!

Let me close with a baby picture of my brother, the Instigator. Have a great 5th of July (since the 4th is practically over). (Happy late birthday, Mark! Love, Your big sister, Empress of the Universe and Boss of You and don't you forget it).