Monday, April 30, 2007

Get Well Smudgey

No wonder Smudgey is looking annoyed in this picture. He probably already had the abscess on his anus that burst over the weekend. Poor cat! My own backside is sore even thinking about it.

Smudgey is currently at the Lort Smith Animal Hospital, recovering from surgery and we can pick him up tomorrow morning. YAY!!! Apparently he is doing well, taking his medicine and drinking, but is quite grumpy. Now wouldn't you be grumpy if an abscess burst on your anus and you had been injected, shaved, cut and sewn up again?

If only he was covered on our family health insurance...

Here is a photo of Smudgey looking much cuter but still regal. It's the wallpaper for my computer at work and home.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Maybe it is something about the cooler weather kicking in but I felt compelled to start another pair of socks. I had bought some plain black Opal yarn earlier this year and decided to team it with some leftover Trekking to create colourful toes and heels. It's my favourite sock pattern - simple but very comfortable to wear. It's basically a plain toe-up sock with 2X2 rib on the foot top and around the calves. I love this pattern; I feel so good wearing socks I've knitted myself from it.

The Trekking is definitely nicer to knit with than the Opal but I'm glad to have the plain yarn so I can make these socks.

Irish Hiking Scarf heading for the post office

The Irish Hiking Scarf is knitted, washed and ready to head overseas. It ended up a little longer than I expected, which is good as I was terrified it would be far too short. I hope my pal enjoys wearing it as much as I enjoyed knitting it. This has been a great experience - I have never knitted cables before so this took me out of my comfort zone, but it turned out to be much easier than anticipated. I'll head off to the post office tomorrow with 27 pieces of identification and documents to ensure the USA will let the parcel in. I've popped in a couple of Australian souvenirs which I hope get through.

Both my pals seem really lovely; I just hope my most recent emails have been getting through as I haven't heard for either of them lately.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Adultery at the Green Grocers

"I feel like we are committing adultery," said Jeff as we walked into Toscano's on Saturday. I knew exactly what he meant. We were entering an orgy of middle-class mothers squeezed into a respectable Kew shop front. And the feeling was compounded when we bumped into the parents of a friend of mine. "I didn't know you shopped here!" they exclaimed.

"It's our first time," I said weakly. "We normally go to Greythorn."

Toscano's is an institution of the leafy eastern Melbourne suburbs, a hugely popular large green grocery store that combines fine produce with reasonable prices. It is always full and always bursting with parents with prams and toddlers and smug little smiles because they know they are buying from the best value best quality fruit and vegetable store in Melbourne. It is insufferable. Jeff and I love good quality fruit and vegetables but we can't stand crowds, especially not smug-faced 4WD driving middle-class parents - hence we normally shopped at a smaller local store with friendly staff. But over the past few months the quality had been dropping and the prices had been rising. We had no choice. We had to find another option. Earlier that day we had tried the supposed Farmers' Market, but found the choice fairly limited. Hence Toscano's.

I wish I could say that the produce was no better than Greythorn; that the prices weren't lower - but I can't. There was a huge choice. Everything was of excellent quality. The prices were reasonable. The fruit and veggies fresh and tasty. No wonder the place was overflowing with people. It was surely worth 30 minutes of jostling with crowds and we would be foolish to not return next week.

I just wish I didn't feel so dirty for changing green grocer stores.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Monty Python and the Holy Grail in Lego

This is possibly one of the best Lego animations ever - the Camelot musical skit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was commissioned by Lego, presumably to advertise their products, and is apparently now an 'extra' on the Monty Python DVD.

Jeff's urban camouflage scarf

Yarn: 4 X 50g Mondial 'Bizarre' 100% fine merino wool colourway 625 (plus tiny amount of other black wool for final triangle)
Needles: 4.5mm straight bamboo
Pattern: Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf
Length: 185cm/74 inches
Width: 15 cm/6 inches

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Irish Hiking Scarf finished

Posting a picture requires me to find the camera and I don't think that is going to happen tonight.

I've finished the knitting for the Irish Hiking Scarf. I'm not sure how it happened but it finalised at about 70 inches which is a bit longer than my knittee requested. Hopefully she can live with that. It's certainly not ridiculously trip-up-your-feet long, and I'd prefer the extra yarn in the scarf rather than cluttering up my stash because it is too good to chuck out but too short to do anything useful with.

I'll make up the package to send out this weekend. I'm not sure whether I'll do the cruel Australian thing and include Vegemite (the most repulsive spread on the planet). Tim Tams are delicious but a bit bulky; maybe Caramelo Koalas.

One of the evil enablers on the Melbourne Stitch 'n' Bitch list (hi Larissa) posted details of a 20% off sale at Cleggs last week. I decided to use the opportunity to try some new yarn, the deliciously soft Lane Mondial 'Bizarre' 100% pure fine merino yarn. There was an interesting black/grey/tan/beige mix that made me think of wolves and I decided to get this colourway and knit a scarf for Jeff. He quite likes plain garter stitch which is not the most exciting thing to knit. I decided to use the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf pattern which is a bit more interesting way of knitting garter stitch and is generally great for show-casing variegated yarns.

I'll have to post a picture of the scarf. Overall I am not overwhelmed by this yarn and doubt I will buy it again. It knits up into a lovely soft fabric and feels great. But unfortunately the yarn tends to split as one knits and I'm not impressed with the way the colour pools. It's also quite pricey ($8.40/ball on sale - $10.50 full price). Still it is great to try a new yarn and it is good semi-mindless knitting for in front of the TV.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Best version of Star Wars Episode One

YouTube clip of the day: Weird Al Yankovic 'The Saga Begins'
Spoof of Star Wars Episode One (the first of the new ones) set to the music of 'Bye Bye American Pie'. Defintely more entertaining than watching the film.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Halfway through Easter long weekend...

Irish Hiking Scarf is now up to 48 inches. No point posting a new photo because it is just a case of more of the same. I think it'll make it to the 55 inch mark (she says nervously chewing her acrylic fingernails).

Ivy that somehow managed to grow over the next door neighbour's fence and up the side of the house has been cut down. Only destroyed one pair of gardening gloves in the process and managed to get almost half of it into the green waste bin. Resolve to ensure it does not get so out of control again. Remind myself that I made the same resolution
18 months ago.

Horseradish roots have been replanted with the hope they will grow in time for next Pesach. I enthusiastically scooped several shovels of compost-dirt and earthworms into the garden bed and mix with several buckets of water. Will try and remember to water them at least one more time before next Pesach. I have not so much a green thumb as a brown and grey one. Even weeds die on me. I cannot explain why the Ivy is so virulent. Maybe it is because the roots are in the neighbour's yard.

Returned to the gym for the first time in a week. Am relieved to discover that despite Easter (eggs and hot-cross buns) and Pesach (2 eight-course meals and enough matzo to feed an entire African village for a week) that I have only re-gained a kilogram. Resolve to be more careful over the next few weeks and make more effort to get to the gym and walk to work. If I can achieve two out of those three I at least should not regain any more weight.

Discover Weird Al Jankovic on YouTube. Yes, I am a geek behind the times - this gem was first posted in September 2006.

Knitting site of the day. Harry Potter and the Book Seven KAL (Knit-along). Of course. Makes perfect sense. The scary thing is that I relate to this and may have even joined had I discovered it earlier. Re-read all six previous books, discuss them and knit Harry Potter - themed scarfs, hats and jumpers while waiting for the final book to be released. Someone has even created a Quidditch jumper. From there I found a link to a very good Sorting Hat quiz.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Star Trek and the Holy Grail

Question: What happens when geeks have too much time on their hands?
Answer: This
A must for Monty Python and Star Trek fans.

I have been wasting way too much time and broadband on YouTube over the past week but it is just absolutely compelling. I think I dropped my jaw to the floor last Saturday and it is still there today.

It started with me looking for an old 1980s music clip. Before long I was watching a Lego-animated movie of Star Wars versus Star Trek. The voice-over from the trailer to Pride and Prejudice set to scenes from Harry Potter. And noticing at least half-a-dozen re-edited Harry Potter clips implying a homo-erotic relationship between arch enemies Harry and Draco.

There are versions of 'Brokeback Trek' for fans of The Original Series and Next Generation - the love that dare not speak its name with the added intergalactic inter-species twist.

Final Fantasy may have been the worst movie ever made but it is being redeemed on YouTube where geeks have re-edited scenes and created an amazing film clip for the classic David Bowie song from Labyrinth. Then there are the geeks who have spent God-knows-how-many-hours creating Sims versions of famous music video clips.

Yes, there is a lot of crap on YouTube and it is very easy to waste a lot of time there. But there is some very funny stuff there too.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Scattered thoughts

Irish Hiking Scarf: 94cm (38 inches) and well into my second skein. Hoping and praying there will be enough yarn for my knitters request for a 55 inch scarf.

Preparation for Pesach: Expensive. Spent $230 at the grocery store and then realised we had forgotten to buy eggs, potatoes and Chicken Maryland (for soup). Spent $50 during our second visit to the supermarket. Discover Coles and Safeway supermarkets no longer stock Chicken Maryland or have in-house butchers who actually prepare the meat - everything arrives prepackaged from central warehouse. Chicken shop at Doncaster Westfield closed down due to shopping centre renovations. Damn! Third shopping trip, went to our favourite quality butcher in Hawthorn - no chicken Maryland on display but staff obligingly go out the back and track down the wretched pieces. I love proper local businesses. It seems that few people make soup using actual chicken anymore. Soup currently cooking on the stove.

Condition of the bitter herbs: Two scraggly roots have survived the drought - enough for display. Bitter lettuce and pickled horseradish in the jar will have to do for the meal.

Pesach gift for 7-year-old second-cousin: There is so much badly-made crap around. Jeff finds a Slinky on sale in a bookstore (naturally). We have been playing with it all day. I have the horrible feeling that it will be a present all the adults will play with while the 7-year-old looks on in bewilderment.

House cleaning: Cats are in shock. We moved all the furniture out of the main dining room and hall in preparation for the carpet cleaners coming tomorrow. Scraped approximately 500 cobwebs from around the corners of the ceiling. Blackened two clothes wiping down skirting boards and window sills. Notice that the house-shifting (from the drought) has led to the creation of several more cracks. Foundations still sound so will resolutely ignore the cracks - everyone in the neighbourhood is in the same boat.

A timely discovery: Bag of old t-shirts and hiking clothes in garage in my current size. Yay! T-shirts to wear at the gym that won't reveal my bra-strap.

State of the nation: Depressing. I think history will judge our current leaders very harshly. The case of David Hicks is beginning to resemble a Kafka novel - after five years of imprisonment without charge he has pleaded guilty to a crime that didn't exist until 18-months ago - and is now being threatened with being jailed for a further 7 years for perjury if he claims he only pleaded guilty because he didn't think he had a hope in hell of a fair trial in Guantanamo Bay. Conveniently for Howard it appears Hicks' sentence - agreed to in a plea-deal - means he will remain in jail until just after the Australian Federal elections. It's enough to make anyone sick. Hicks may be stupid and racist and unworthy of sympathy, but the treatment of him and the abandonment of the rule of law or any semblance of due process is bad for us as a society and nation.

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Some people have way too much time on their hands. If you type "Harry Potter" into YouTube you will find Lego versions, a Sims version and even a re-edit of footage suggesting a homoerotic relationship between Harry and Draco.