Monday, May 22, 2006

Northern Virginia Reptile Rescue

Northern Virginia Reptile Rescue

My youngest son rescued a tiny (about quarter sized) box turtle last fall. She is now slightly bigger than a 50 cent piece.

It's interesting to learn she is endangered and after wintering over successfully in an indoor terrarium, she is reaclimating in a large (3 foot by 5 foot) wooden box/terrarium outside. We still feed her daily and provide fresh water. The box contains shelter for her and is growing grass and some weeds and is stocked with earthworms. It is deep enough that if she doesn't get too big this summer, she should be able to dig down and shelter out the winter.

The following Spring we will set her outside the box, again providing daily food and water but without the protection of the screen over the top and no side boundaries. The year after that we plan to stop feeding and just provide water.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sunning with Yarn

It is a lovely day today. The sun is shining. A breeze is blowing gently and the temperature is hovering around 72 degrees. Humidity is low (trust me, in these parts this is a rare event). I decided I really needed to get out and soak up a few rays.

I hate sunbathing. I'm usually the lady at the beach walking, picking up shells wearing long sleeves, long pants and a hat. But I know a little sunshine is good for me so I put on a bathing suit top and sat with my back to the sun and my BIG BLACK SOCK project.

I decided to knit a few more rounds on the sock I was worrying over before I ripped it out. I did follow the directions. Logically, they should be right. So I did. The lumpy bumpy part of of it seemed to smooth out. So I kept on knitting. For an hour. In the bright, bright sunlight.

I feel the heat now. I think I may be burnt. Where is my lavendar oil?

But it felt good while I was out there. And I made good progress on the sock.

I've come to realize that I'm a very slow knitter. I got a whole inch completed in an hour. I think there are knitters out there that can do a whole sock in that time. Oh well. I will get faster with time.

I also completed the shawl the other day. The point kept curling up. I was really frustrated with it. The garter stitch edge was too narrow. So I make some fringe. It really came out neat -- like a tail. I knew it would look even better once I washed and blocked it.

But I had no way to block it so I just washed it in cool water, laid a clean blanket out in the yard and spread out the shawl pulling and tugging out all the corners and edges. It looked pretty good. I was happy and I went into the house.

I came out again about 20 minutes later and found that one of the dogs had found the shawl and rolled on it and balled it up in a big ball! No, I did not kick the dog, but she did get a sound scolding. I moved the blanket and the shawl into another part of the yard. This time I put it in the sun. After the dog, I figured nothing could really hurt it.

Thirty minutes later I came out to check on it. It was dry. It was soft. All the lovely yarn over holes were opened wide and the edges all laid straight. I'm amazed at the difference! And it smells of honey suckle and sunshine (thankfully, not of wet dog).

Friday, May 19, 2006

Hurry up and WAIT!

My son is geting an amazing lesson in the military already. This kid has been trying to enlist since he dropped out of high school this winter and got his GED.

I must have put some kind of powerful protection spell over him when he was younger because it appears that the Gods and Goddesses are going all out to keep him from signing up. I suggested to him that considering the multitude of weird glitches he has experienced in this process that he might want to pay attention, but in his youthful, undisciplined, finite wisdom, he has decided I know nothing.

We finally got through all the red tape regarding my custody issues. He passed the follow-up echocardiogram they insisted on doing only to find out his heart is, in fact, perfect. We waited while the recruiter was finishing up his own divorce and custody issues. Finally, yesterday we went down to Fort Lee to pick his job and sign the contract.

Their computer server crashed. They couldn't even ship out personnel that needed to leave for Basic Training. Everything in today's Army is paperless. Everything stopped due to some breakage outside the base on civilian owned, run and operated DSL lines. Job selection is done on the computers, signatures are captured on Tablets. So we sat. All day.

I knitted and made good progress on the socks (see below).

Big Black Socks Progress

Check it out! I made heel flaps, turn the heel on one and, and, ... I don't like what is going on.

The directions I followed did not allow for slipping a stitch at each edge of the heel flap and as a result, picking up the stitches for the gusset resulted in
  1. too many stitches being picked up in order not to have holes and
  2. a weird ridge running along the inside of the sock along the edge of the gusset.

So I'm going to be very calm, give myself a few days, find my yarn needles and run some scrap yarn through and rip it!

Monday, May 08, 2006

When Smoke Gets In My Eyes

I have returned triumphant and dry from my camping adventures with Paige and Alex. It is the first time I have been camping without a male companion. I have seen women camping without men along to help set up, tear down and generally make themselves useful. I knew it could be done. I am delighted that I have now experienced it first hand.

Now, Paige and her daughter, Alex, are experienced lone campers. Paige has even set up a shop and run it while camping (did it for several years, in fact). But she is legendary for her ability to run tarps. This woman can set up a campsite so secure I believe it would take a hurricane or tornado to knock it down.

Approaching Culpeper, Virginia where I was to meet up with Paige and Alex, it was raining. This is not normally a good sign when one is planning on camping out. But I was confident that the rain would stop. It rained harder.

But I got to Paige's home and dropped off my son who was going to stay at her house with her younger children and Paige's spouse (who is a very good sport for taking all the youngsters to the golf driving range and generally keeping them entertained, fed and breathing throughout the weekend).

As final things were tossed into a cooler and then jammed into the back of Paige's vehicle, the rain continued to come down. But as we headed south towards the campground, it began to taper off. Finally, as we pulled into the campground, it stopped.

We set up. First thing we did was put up the largest tarp. Actually, Paige and Alex put up the tarp. I pulled stuff out of my car. Then we set up the tent. Then we put up a second tarp, dug out the odd assortment of odd tent and canopy poles that my husband and I haul around when we camp. We got out more bungee cords. Ropes were pulled. Stakes were driven. Chairs were put out and the "kitchen" was set up.

Using my little hibachi, some charcoal and a couple squirts of lighter fluid (yes, I cheated), I got a cooking fire going and we put the final touches and adjustments on our camp. Then we set up our camp altar.

I'm going to put up pictures here of all of this when Paige sends them to me.

We cooked hotdogs on metal forks over our little campfire and then we heard the drummers. So we went off to dance and visit with our fellow campers who had all come out to celebrate Beltain -- albeit a week late.

We danced to the drummers for a while but then felt a rain drop. Then two. We started back to our campsite. Our little fire, which we had covered, was still burning. We moved the hibachi under the tarps and grouped our chairs around it for warmth.

Ah, see, you thought you saw disaster coming. But no! We kept that little fire going (granted the air elementals were determined to smoke the heck out of both Paige and Alex all weekend) but we did not melt our tarps, we stayed warm and when a torrential downpour began around 10 p.m. and lasted all night long, we stayed bone dry. Both Paige and I had brought dry firewood from home, you see... and our little fire (although it died down at night), kept going the entire weekend until we finally put it out before we left to come home.

I still smell like smoke despite bathing and changing my clothes. It must be in my shoes... but I got lots of knitting done sitting happily under our tarps, by the campfire and enjoyed the delightful company of two very dear friends.