Friday, June 26, 2009

The Tragic Face of Tortoises on Crack

I hit my local drug pusher today, the produce department at Raley's. Between the cauliflower, cabbage, and crack, I completely forgot the other C: collards. Treppie started marching around the kitchen, then doing his annoyingly annoying attention-getter: scratching at the storage drawer under the oven. He will pace back and forth, making that (did I mention annoying) clangy scratching sound for hours unless I deflect him by putting him outside or....drugging him. With crack.

Uhm, in case you haven't read my other posts referred to tortoise crack, I am actually talking about that sugary goodness others know as corn on the cob.

Mike is still spending some time most afternoons exploring the couch and throws. Yesterday, he was on the couch when Karen stopped by to pick up some things. She sat down next to him to visit with us for a while. When she'd been sitting there for 5 minutes or so, Mike started bobbing at her because, can you imagine? She wasn't paying attention to him! The nerve of some people! So, she started petting him. As long as she pet him, he didn't bob at her or give her Stink Eye, the fading gleam of which can be seen in this photo:

Someone I know, a Canadian who became a U.S. citizen last year, just bought his first house (well, he and his wife did). I thought I'd knit them a little something. I came across a website that had designs for wash/dish cloths among which were a maple leaf and a U.S. flag. "Poifect!" I thought. However, I'd stayed away from knitting these types of 'embossed' patterns before because my brain just couldn't track the different instructions for each of the inside design rows (the space between the side, top and bottom borders).

So, before leaping in to make the CAN/US set of cloths, I thought I'd try one of the patterns first and make myself a washcloth. I grabbed the dwindling ball of leftover discontinued sky blue Cotton Ease, and made myself the Liberty Bell. I found the pattern easy to read and make, and whipped it out in one evening (if your evening ends around 1:15 in the morning).

Unfortunately, my gauge is really tight, so instead of making a 9" x 9" cloth, mine came out 8" x 8". Which is fine, but I wanted the larger size for these gift cloths. So, I added 8 sts, 2 each on the side borders, and 2 each to both sides of the inside space, and I worked two more rows on the top and bottom borders (and realized after I was done that I should have knit 3 more rows instead of 2, as the finished cloths are somewhat rectangular rather than square), and ended up with cloths slightly bigger, 10" x almost 10".

I decided to knit the leaf and flag cloths in red, figuring it was a better color for dishcloths than white, which could start looking grungy without being occasionally bleached, and blue seemed silly for a Canadian maple leaf.

These patterns were designed by Emily Jagos, and can be found at her Designs by Emily website.

(Looking at them, you can tell how much my gauge and consistency in making well-formed stitches is affected by the amount of pain, range of motion, and function (or lack thereof!) of my hands on any given day - these cloths were knit on three consecutive days, one cloth a day. Check out the samples on Emily's site - nice and neat!)

Now, back to work I go on a kitchen towel...

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wherein Mike finally realizes...

...if the couch is good enough for Sidney to sleep on...'s good enough for Mike.

I heard Mikey moving around at his usual time this morning (~0630 hrs), but never heard him come down the hall to his bathroom or make a circuit through my bedroom. I got up to investigate and found him snuggled under the handknitted throw (my one and only entrelac project), which lives on the couch, on top of which is a 'sheepskin' blanket I keep for Sidney when he's here. I left it folded up on the couch figuring Mike would spend some time investigating it, which he has, daily, since Sid went back home last week.

Guess which one of us does not miss Sidney?

Backtrack...and Update

This is what I actually saw when I went looking for Mikey in the late afteroon Saturday, after I got back home:

He had gotten up on the couch and inserted himself under the knitted blanket. I covered him up a bit more, and since the night was mild, let him sleep there. The next morning is when I found him with his snout poking out, after he wriggled farther across the couch during the night.

Yesterday evening, he was kind of wandering around the house more than usual, ending up i the kitchen about the time he would normally head up to his sleeping area to sack out...but he just sat in the kitchen, body facing his room, head turned around to look at me. It being a warm day, and he being pretty warm himself, and the night promising to be (uncomfortably) warm (for me), I decided what the heck, give the boy a thrill...and so I put him inside of Sid's sheepskin blanket, so he was nestled between the "fur" layers, snug as a bug in, uhm, a blanket. And there he slept all night, getting pets from me through the blanket throughout the evening, just like Sidney does when he's here.

During the evening, he turned himself around in there (he always does a 180 degree turnaround during the evening, no matter where he sleeps), so he was facing the other way when he poked his head out in there morning, continuing to sleep there until I dragged his spoiled butt out of there at 11 AM.

This afternoon, he climbed up on the couch and onto the coffee table and wing-back chair. I shoved the table against the couch and chair some years ago because in his travels across the table, he's always disperse to the floor things on the table that I wanted to stay on the table (it being a sort of an extension of my filing system and knitting projects baskets).

I used to keep the pretty giraffe afghan Juliette knit for me across the top of the chair, but Mike kept trying to climb it, resulting in both him and the afghan going sliding, another reason for keeping the table shoved up against the chair (less risk of a forcible tail separation that way). Today, the lovely black afghan she knit for me is there, here providing a soft perch from which Mike can decide which way he will get down that will cause me the most aggravation:

Who, me? You talkin' to me??


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Time sure flies...

...when you have a life. When you don't, it c r a w l s. In other words, I can't believe a month has passed since I last wrote. Still battling various bugs, one of which caused a horrendous bout of bronchitis which, I was dismayed to find last night, is starting to rear its ugly head again. Fie! Be gone! Yes, well, that was far more cathartic than effective. By doing pretty much nothing, I am hoping to stave off a full recurrence.

On a far brighter note, the end of May saw the beginning of an extended stay here of my favorite goddog (okay, only goddog, but, still), Sidney! We haven't had a good long visit in quite a while, something we've both missed, though I have to say that it hasn't bothered Mikey one bit.

Though, truth be told, after a couple of days of getting used to a moose in the house, Mike starts to enjoy it, since Sid is still very nervous around Mike and freezes when Mike approaches if he isn't able to run in the other direction from where Mike is. Mike takes that as Sid's recognition of Mike's Supreme Allbeingness, which goodness knows Mike doesn't get from me. When even the big tortoise contests Mike's right to rule the feeding station, Mike is happy to subjugate anyone who spends any time in this house besides the usual crew of freaks, er, me, the tortoises and the weeny turtle.

Speaking of whom, Tobago was itching to get out of her enclosure the other day, so I took her out while I cleaned up a bit, letting her hang out with Mike:

Needless to say, I kept an eye on them, in case Mike decided to vent his ire against Treppie, with whom he jousts at the feeding station, by dumping it on Tobago, who wouldn't hurt a fly. A snail or mini-crawler, yes; fly, no. Alas.

Sid spends some of his time here outside watching the tortoises carefully, making sure they don't try to escape from their shells. When he's not doing that, he is on watch for the rat that has taken up residence in my yard, which I discovered when the whole ears of corn I put out for the tortoises started disappearing.

For a year or so, there was a cat--feral or just someone's outdoor cat--who spent the nights sleeping on the lounge chair on my patio. I didn't mind her there, and during the cold, wet winter, I put out some food and water for her on days when she didn't leave her roost. She stopped coming after the first time the new neighbor's dogs broke through the fence into my backyard, something they've done repeatedly over the past year since they've lived there. Before then, my backyard was a rest area on the local cat highway, with many cats making their way through my yard, hanging out and sunning themselves, like this one, whom I called Scairdy Cat because s/he always fled when any of the other cats came around:

Anyway, Sidney is a renowned ratter, so I was counting on his ratting skills to nail this sucker. To date, it's Rat 1, Sidney 0. ::sigh::

Sidney watching the tortoises:

Sidney is showing many signs of age, including not demanding to play as often or as long as we used to. Now, our mornings go something like this:

6:30 AM - Sidney lets me know that Mikey is up. When Mike makes it into the hallway, I get up, run his bath, pick him up and go through our morning bath ritual before putting him in the tub. While he soaks, I let Sidney out, clean up Mike's poo, and make Sid's breakfast. Sid and I go back to our respective beds until

9-9:30 AM - As Mike nears the end of his bath time (he usually gets out of the tub about the time his heater's timer goes off), Sid lets me know that it's time for me to get up to take my meds and, more importantly, stuff one of his hollow cow bones with peanut butter.

The rest of the morning is spent with Sid excavating peanut butter from the bone while Mike dawdles over his food and eventually makes his way back to his room. Sid helps me eat my breakfast, and helpfully cleans Mike's leftovers and any other leftovers if the tortoises have been inside that morning.

The rest of the day is spent with Mikey getting periodic visits and cuddles from me in his room, where he can also glare at Sid who comes in to see what's going on (and maybe there' will be food)(or petting). The day is also punctuated with Sid helping eradicate the household population of grapes, and the occasional almond from my trail mix, or a peanut I hold back from the squadron of scrub jays that come around a couple times a day.

Sometimes Sid goes into the backyard alone, sometimes with me. Sometimes he watches the tortoises, sometimes he annoys the dogs next door (which I wouldn't worry about other than for their ability to claw their way through the fence to get into my yard).

One foul day, while I was watering my fig sapling that had a couple of ripening figs on it, Sidney ATE MY FIGS!!!!! Bad dog! There were fewer treats that day, and I intend to exact revenge on his mom's fig tree when hers come into season late this year (that is, if Sidney and Ginger have left any within reach - damn dobies can jump and harvest anything within my reach!)

Here's Sid tuckered out after cleaning all the peanut butter ouf of his bone. And not just any peanut butter, mind you, but the organic fresh ground (when she bought it in March, at least) peanut butter from Oliver's.

Sid's age is also showing in his reluctance to lay long on firm surfaces. So, he came not only with three containers of peanut butter and two bones, but also a large dog mattress for the floor, and a "sheepskin" blanket, sheet, and two pillows. I, ahem, also have a "sheepskin" blanket, so that's under there, too.

I had plans to take him to the dog park, and to the pet store so he could pick out a treat, and even cleared all my emergency/disaster response stuff out of my back seat so he'd have something more comfortable to lay on instead of the cargo area. (Spoiled? My goddog?? Nevah!)

Okay, so Mike's letting me know that it's time I talked about him. Hear his chin banging on the window sill as he bobs his head? Oh, wait, he's doing that because he sees Sidney outside.

Anyway, I took these photos last month, but never got around to sharing them. They are something only an iguana lover will appreciate: seminal plugs!

Mike had been cranky for a couple of days. Karen was over and had been petting him, and noticed that his hemipenal bulges felt more bulgy than usual. The next day, he deposited these plugs. Here's a close up of one of them:

Fascinating architecture, eh? And no wonder male igs get a bit testy (ar ar) when these things have built up, solidified, but they haven't yet been able to expel them. For those new to them, check out the article on seminal plugs at my site.

Because I had to suspend the treatment for my Bartonella flare in order to deal with some other health issues, my hand and arm hurts too much when I knit socks for me to be able to work on them. I wanted something rather mindless but useful, but wanted a break from kitchen towels (of which I have made 11 of the planned 30), I decided to make another market tote bag, and try to figure out a better way to finish the top, since I wasn't happy with the way I faked the tops of my first two.

Despite knitting them with two strands of worsted weight cotton held together and using size 10.5 needles, the bags still take 15-20 hours to make (I really need to time it to see for sure), so they aren't something particularly salable, unless someone wants to pay through the nose for a reusable handknit tote bag.

Here is a photo of the two new ones I finished - the green/white one is folded over itself so you can see the blue/yellow/white one beneath:

The bottom of the bag is knit in garter stitch, then stitches are picked up all around the rectangle and knit in the round for 3 inches before changing to the pretty (and expandable) faggot lace stitch. Because it is knit in an endless round rather than back and forth, the 'ribs' of the pattern are diagonal, instead of vertical as they are when knit back-and-forth. Here's a close up of the outside of the bag ('right side' of the st):

And here's what it looks like inside:

I did manage to work a couple of days of role play at the public safety academy. Driving up there the first morning, I noticed some hot air balloons in the early morning sky. After the morning's briefing, we role players and evaluators headed out to our assigned places at the other end of the campus, awaiting the first of the day's recruits to be dispatched to our locations. Since the campus is surrounded on a couple sides by farms and ponds, there's always a lot of birds around, so I always pause to look...and look at what I saw:

One of the balloons was still aloft when the morning winds faded away, and so they had to come down rather abruptly:

They were able to avoid landing in the big body of water that is on the other side of that grassy berm, just visible under the horizontal line in the photo that is the shade cover over the PSA parking lot:

But since the berm is angled on the other side, too, they risked being toppled into the water. They were able to get enough lift to bump their way up the top of the berm and down on our side with the help of a some folks who either scrambled over the fence or jumped out of the basket:

It was hard for me to see who scrambled to help, as I was actually rather far away:

And that concludes our program for the day. Sidney, having supervised me making lunch, is now resting before he goes on leftover/plate cleaning duty after I eat said lunch.

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