Friday, December 14, 2007

Going to Iowa

Well, I leave for Iowa in just a few short hours. I never blocked my mom's socks, but that's okay. Grandma's socks were a failure. I don't know what I was smoking when I thought I could get those done in a week. I didn't even finish one toe--and I'm doing them toe-up! It's okay, though. Grandma will understand.

In addition to family Christmas tomorrow, my nephew is getting baptized. And I get to be his godmother! I'm very excited!! Yesterday, I went downtown to the Catholic bookstore to get his present. It's hard buying a religious gift for an infant, let me tell you. I finally settled on a little pin that can be pinned onto whatever he's wearing for the baptism and some books. They're those kind of books where all of the pages are really hard so that kids can play with them. One is little prayers and the other is something like Baby Goes to Church.

But, before I can go to Iowa I have to:
  • Pack
  • Go to lab for lab meeting
  • Pick up the rental car
That's a lot to do, so I'd better get to it!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

It only took 3 hours

But I finally got the toe of the second sock done, with the exception of the grafting. I ripped it out several times and ended up having to rip back some of the foot because I realized that the second sock had one extra pattern repeat in it. Ugh! I left the grafting until today because it was pretty late when I finisheed the toe and I wanted to make sure that, in my sleepiness, I didn't completely screw things up. I haven't had the courage to look at it yet in the light of day....

I also wound one of the hanks of yarn for the next pair of socks into a ball. I really need a swift.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sock Toes

When I get to the toe of the sock, I like to do paired decreases at each side,* sometimes with a round (or two) of no decreases in between and sometimes not, depending on how long I need the toe to be. In other words, I just make it up as a I along. The smart thing to do would be to record what I did on the first sock so that when I come to the second sock, I can do the same thing. But noooooo, I just wing it, don't write anything down, then try to figure it out when I come to the toe of the second sock. Why on earth do I do this? I really need to keep better notes on my knitting. I need a lab notebook of knitting. Perhaps I should start that today.

A solution that I had come up with was to knit both socks at the same time using magic loop (I prefer magic loop to dpns for most circular knitting). I stopped doing this because I mostly knit socks on the go. Because they are so small socks make a good travel project. Well, knitting two socks at the same time means two balls of yarn which would sometimes get messy (I also tried using one ball of yarn and knitting with both ends at once and that was okay, but still not ideal) and could be especially problematic when I was knitting during a seminar (because they have the lights down so we can see the slides). Having to carry around enough yarn to work on two socks at once also make the project a bit more bulky. Finally, it felt like it took forever to make progress. I usually knit socks with fingering weight yarn on size 0 needles which means A LOT of stitches. And since I was only working on the socks on the go, I would only be able to knit a little at a time and therefore it seemed like I was making no progress at all. Still, I might go back to it because it does make it easier to make identical looking toes and it's a good way to avoid Second Sock Syndrome.

I bring this up because last night I was working on the toe of a second sock and had to take the time to minutely inspect the toe of the first sock to see how I did it (and I really wanted to know exactly how I did it because I thought I had done a really good job on that toe). I finally gave it up and started to wing it. We shall see how the toe of the second sock turns out! I can't show you a picture because it is a present for Christmas. I'll show you a picture after I give them to the recipient.
------------------

*What this means is that, using the magic loop method, I divide the stitches evenly on the two needle points. I knit until the last three stitches, do a left leaning decrease, knit one, switch to the other side in the manner of the magic loop, then knit one and do a right leaning decrease. I then knit on that side until the last three stitches and decrease in the same manner as before. Therefore, I decrease four stitches per round.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Holiday Knitting

*Kristen over at Procrastinating in Pittsburgh just had to put to sleep a beloved pet. Go give her some love.

My family is celebrating Christmas early this year. On the 15th, actually. Needless to say, this is not conducive to knitting gifts. It is, in fact, really the opposite of the ideal scenario for a knitter. Ideally, if your family isn’t going to celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25, then a knitter much prefers it to be celebrated later. After New Year’s maybe. Certainly not 10 days early in any case!

Unfortunately, while I knew my family was celebrating Christmas early this year, that fact did not connect to what my knitting deadline was until a couple weeks ago. I knew Christmas was going to be on the 15th, and yet I was still somehow thinking I had until the 25th to finish making my gifts. Once I put 2 and 2 together I realized I was not going to be able to make all of the gifts I had intended to make. The one that got cut was nephew Benjamin’s baby bunting. It’s this really cute little winter weather thing from Dale of Norway and I was very excited about it, but I hadn’t even started it and since it is a large item, there was no way I was going to finish it by the 15th. I still plan on making it, just not for Christmas.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Some knitting

Despite being very busy in lab (where I'm certain I'm going to do a real experiment any day now), I have managed to get a little bit of knitting done. I decided to bite the bullet and knit myself a sweater.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I'm knitting the cover project from the fall Interweave Knits magazine. Well, I will if I ever get gauge. I've knit 2 swatches and I'm still going down needle sizes. I'm even being good and blocking the swatches. Normally I don't go in for this whole swatch thing, but I figure when knitting such a big item it's comforting to know that you did your best to make it come out right. The yarn is Andean Silk in Sangria from Knitpicks. It's an alpaca and silk blend and very soft. On my screen the yarn looks more purply than in person.

In other news, my nephew is the cutest baby ever!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Iowa trip

Last weekend, I went to Iowa for a craft festival. The festival was held in Van Buren County Iowa which is in southeastern Iowa on the Des Moines River near the Missouri border. This is the part of Iowa my step-father grew up in and he and my mom go every year. For the last four years, I have gone with them. The festival mostly consists of various craft and antiques/junk vendors who set up in the towns of the county. The towns themselves organize some events, including a parade and covered wagon rides and, in my step-father's hometown, a lunch consisting of bean and ham soup slow-cooked in a big black kettle over a bed of coals and cornbread baked over coals. And homemade pie. Yum.

None of Kelly's (step-father) family lives down there anymore (his parents have migrated to Arizona and his sister lives in Des Moines) so we stay at an inn/bed and breakfast in the town of Bentonsport. Bentonsport is home to about 35 people (and that's if you include the people up on the hill). The inn is less than 100 yards from the banks of the river has been there a very long time and on the side of the inn; there's marks on the side of the inn commemorating various floods and how much of the inn was under water.

While trying to navigate the roads to Bentonsport on Friday night, I got a phonecall from B who now lives in South Carolina and who I haven't talked to in quite some time. This is how our conversation went:

The usual hi, how are you's and what's going on, then

Me: Oh my God, that's a deer!

B: What?

Me: A deer just ran out in front of the car, oh wait, there's another one, is it going to cross the road?

I successfully navigate past the deer and we talk a little longer, then

Me: Wait, I think I'm supposed to turn here, but it's so dark, I can't see the road sign.

B: I feel like this is the beginning of a bad horror movie.

More driving and talking, then

Me: Hey, I'm in a town I recognize, I guess I'm going the right way.

B: Is it deserted?

Me: No, there are people here.

B: Are they zombies? (B has an obsessive fear about zombies)

Me: No, they seem to be perfectly normal people.

We continue talking and then I'm really close to Bentonsport.

Me: Okay, I'm getting close to town and in the past I haven't gotten any cell phone signal in town near the inn, so if you suddenly don't hear from me, that's why.

B: Where the hell are you?! Is this some sort of Bermuda Triangle of Iowa???

Me: No, it's just a really small town and the only way to get cell phone signal is to go out on the bridge in the middle of the river--Ben, Ben?

I had lost the signal. So, I go in to the inn, check in, then walk out onto the bridge, call B and leave a message saying that I'm fine but I have no signal in town. I'm wondering what he thought of this whole conversation.

It was probably a good thing I didn't tell him that the inn is haunted.

Cute Baby in Jack-o-lantern Hat

Last weekend, when I was in Iowa, I got to see my little nephew for a very short time and he graciously agreed to model the hat. But the flash hurt his eyes (his grandma was snapping pictures every few moments) so he closed them. The little mittens he has on have ghosts on them.

My sister has gone back to work so he's been going to a sitter where he seems to be doing well. He is a little bit bigger, of course, but still so tiny, although he has very big feet. I've got to get working on some socks for him--can't have my nephew going about in store-bought socks! My mom has made him a little sweater and is in the process of making a matching hat. Between me and my mom, the kid will never have to wear a store-bought hat.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Not that there was ever any doubt

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

Literate Good Citizen

Book Snob

Fad Reader

Non-Reader

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

The code doesn't seem to be working right on my blog so you can't see the little bars for how much I am each of those choices. I'm probably about 90% of a obsessive-compulsive bookworm and 10% of a fad reader.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Who knew?


My blog is worth $3,387.24.
How much is your blog worth?




Not as much as some people's but still a respectable amount. Sadly, the labwork blog is only worth around $500. I guess knitting pays better than science. Who knew?

Monday, October 01, 2007

October

In honor of the first day of October I bring you:


Pissed Off Black Cat with Jack-o-Lantern Hat

I almost laughed myself silly when I downloaded this picture. I didn't see Ghiradelli's expression when I took it because I was too busy trying to keep the hat on him.

The hat is actually for Benjamin. A slightly better view of the hat:




Thursday, September 27, 2007

If you can

My brother, Eric, (not the one who just got married, a different one) is doing a charity walk for NAMI, an organization dedicated to helping people with mental illness. From their website:

NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons living with serious mental illness and their families. Founded in 1979, NAMI has become the nation’s voice on mental illness, a national organization including NAMI organizations in every state and in over 1100 local communities across the country who join together to meet the NAMI mission through advocacy, research, support, and education.

He is looking for donations for this. Here is his fundraising page.

We all have causes and organizations that are important to us in some special way for one reason or another and this is one of those for me. I have mentioned on occasion (I think) that I suffer from mental illness. I talk a bit more about it here (this post was part of a web-ring called the ABC-along which I unfortunately flaked out on less than halfway through).

Please donate if you can. Thanks!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Not even interesting to my husband

What does it say when your husband doesn't read your blog? I set up this other blog for lab stuff because he wanted to know what was going on in lab and if I'm making progress and it's too hard for me to talk about. But he hasn't said much, just mentioned my first post. And you know how, if nobody ever comments, you start to feel like maybe you're talking to yourself? (That was NOT a hint for comments, btw) Here's how the conversation went:

Me: So, having you been reading my blog?
J: Well, I read that first post about your paper, did you put more on it?
Me: Yes! Lots more!*
J: I didn't realize you were going to post so frequently
Me: It said right there on the blog that I was going to post frequently!!**
J: Oh, I wish I had known, I was bored up there on the mountain sometimes, it would've been nice to have something to read***
Me: Well, I thought you would just check it to see if I had posted anything new!
J: I never think to check things like that.
Me: I had a cold! I got a cold, had the cold, and now I'm mostly over the cold and it was all there on the blog and you never even knew!!****
J: Sorry.
Me: You said you wanted to know how things were going and here I am telling you and you're not even reading it!
J: I'm sorry, I'll read it more often now.
Me: You need a newsreader.
J: (silence)
Me: (accusingly) It has an RSS feed!
J: Oh.

Carrol, if you're reading this, I know you're sitting there shaking your head and thinking, "That's John." Or laughing your ass off. Or both.

ANYway, the point is, now that I have the blog, it's like it's one more way for him to not pay attention to what I'm saying. I mean, I can't force the man to read it. I'd give the whole thing up except that now I enjoy writing it. *sigh*

*There are now fifteen posts there
** From my first post, "I'm hoping to post daily or every other day about what it is I'm doing in lab. " My first post was on the 6th.
***He's been in Hawaii the past week for an observing run (astronomer, remember?) and the telescope is at the top of the mountain
****We don't talk on the phone much when he's observing because of the time difference and because he's either at the summit doing work, or sleeping

-----------------------------

In knitting news, I'm going to see the Yarn Harlot at her book signing this Sat. in LA! I missed her when she was in the Chicago area because it was out in the burbs and lab and all that, but I'm heading to LA tomorrow (to visit my husband who doesn't listen to me) and there's no way I'm going to miss her twice.

Speaking of going to LA, I have the vacation knitting dilemma. You know how it goes, you want to make sure you have enough projects to work on while you are away. This number is not necessarily the number of projects you think you'll finish plus one but more like the number of projects you need in case you get bored with one or more of the ones you are working on. And then there is the knitting on the plane. It's quite a long plane ride (plus time at the airport) so you don't want to run out of stuff. But, it needs to be easy to work on while crammed into a small space. Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Little knitting

Some socks for Benjamin. The pen was included for scale. No real pattern just general sock shaping--a 2x2 rib in the cuff and stockinette for the foot. Short row heel because that's the way I roll.

I've started Christmas knitting but I can't tell you what it is in case my family reads this blog. :)

In other news, I've started a lab blog over at livejournal. It's mostly for my family, to keep them updated on my progress because it's too hard for me to talk about how long it will take me to finish this damn PhD. But, if you're interested in what it is I do all day, feel free to wander over. I'm trying to make it as friendly to lay people as I possibly can (except for the first post in which I outline my paper/thesis, but I said it probably wouldn't be understandable at the beginning of the entry). I decided to try out livejournal on a whim and I can't decide if I like it or not. You can't upload pictures unless you have a paid account, but you can upload them to photobucket and embed them that way. It's a little roundabout, but not too bad. It's not for people who are sensitive about their lack of friends, though. My homepage says: You have only made 0 friends. Thanks. Anyhow, I've posted a pic of my lab bench in its natural state for those who wonder what it really looks like in a research lab.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How depressing




You're The Grapes of Wrath!

by John Steinbeck

You're mired in a deep depression that encompasses you and everyone
you know. You're trying to get out of the depression, but your idea of help is, in
itself, pretty sad. While some are convinced that this all has a deeper meaning, you're
really just dull and tedious. And utterly obsessed with dust. You really need to focus
on something other than dust. Your best moments center around turtles.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Friday, August 24, 2007

While I realize this is technically correct...




You Failed 8th Grade Spanish



Sorry, you only got 5/8 correct!

Could You Pass 8th Grade Spanish?

...considering I've never actually studied Spanish, 5 out of 8 seems pretty good!

Back in Chicago



Actually, I've been back for a few days now, but I'm just getting around to posting. Meg and Benjamin went home from the hospital on Sat. and were doing very well when I left. He's mostly a good baby and not fussy, but when he gets mad, he gets MAD! He'll go from nothing wrong to screaming in no time at all.

The bibs I made from Mason-Dixon Knitting are too big for him right now, so no pictures of him wearing them. I made a little spring green hat from Knitpicks Shine but no pictures of that or of the little purple hat and socks I made a couple of days ago because I didn't manage to take pictures before giving them away. I'll try to be better in the future.

I've made a decision to stop knitting for charity in the short term and knit for Benjamin instead. They really have very little and minimum wage jobs don't get you very far these days, so what little they have for the baby are gifts from other peole and various hand-me-downs. So, in a way, I'll still be knitting for the disadvantaged, I just know who the person is.

P.S. I know I'm just a little biased but I think Benjamin is the cutest baby there ever was!!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

No pictures yet

But, Meg had her baby yesterday morning!!!

He was born on Aug. 16, 2007 at 10:25 am. He is 7lb 9oz and is 21 1/2" long.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Soon now

Well, I just talked to my mom and she says that Meg has finally started pushing. Apparently things are moving rather slowly (poor Meg--I hope she had an epidural). Anyhoo, hopefully it will not be much longer.

I'm going to leave for Iowa this afternoon but this time I'll be staying with my mother who has internet access. I'll keep updating and of course there will be pictures of the baby!

Oh, remember how I said I was going to try to get some good sleep? Yeah, right. I fell asleep sometime after midnight. Good thing I'm wired on adrenaline!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

HE'S ON THE WAY!!!

Mom just called and the contractions are 2-3 minutes apart and Meg is heading to the hospital!! This is it!!!

Mom is heading to the hospital too. I'm sad I can't leave until tomorrow morning, but it's probably for the best. I worked really late last night and there's a storm here and it's a 7 hour drive. Not a very good combination. I was really tired. Now I'm pumped up, but I'm going to try to get some sleep so I can be fresh for the drive tomorrow.

Will let you all know more when there is more to know!

*starts running around the apartment waving arms in the air*

MY SISTER'S HAVING THE BABY!!!! WHOOPEE!

On the way???

Contractions are 7 minutes apart! She's supposed to go to the hospital when they're 5 minutes apart and hard. But, my mom says that it all could stop even after getting to the hospital and then they'll send her home. So, I'm trying (very unsucessfully) to not get too excited. I'll keep updating as news comes in. Since it's too late for me to rent a car tonight I haven't got anything else to do.

Squeee!!!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

He's coming out whether he wants to or not

Just got a message from my sister: they are going to induce next Monday if she hasn't gone into labor by then. So, I should be an aunt by Tuesday at the latest!

Still no baby

Ya'll are probably wondering about the baby situation. Well, babyBen has yet to arrive. Meg was supposed to have a doctor's appointment today so I'll try to call her later and see what the scoop is.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dear Sock Pal Jean,

I am sorry I haven't written before. I got your package last week and I love all of it!

The socka are a wonderful, spring-like color and the yarn is soft and yummy. The pattern is beautiful and they fit very well. I love the little baby socks and I will put them aside for the day that they are needed (hopefully sometime in the next year!). The UC Davis magnets are all on my fridge. And the chocolate! Sooo good!

Love, Elisabeth

P.S. Since my cat has had all but about four of his teeth removed (I got him from the pound and he was in pretty bad shape) I have great respect for vet dentistry! ;)

--------

Someday soon, I will take a picture of my sockapalooza loot and post the pictures of the socks that I make for my pal.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Baby Alert

My sister will be going into labor ANY MINUTE NOW and my entire family is on standby. Our phones are nearby, and we run to answer them, hurdling chairs and and pushing people out of the way. Of course, it is mainly us calling each other, "Have you heard anything?" Today I called my mother on her cell while she was at work because, it turns out, I don't have my sister's phone number (I could've sworn I had it around here somewhere; I'm not known for my organizational skills or rather, I am, but I'm not good at organizing my own life). My mother, somewhat annoyed that it was her older daughter calling rather than her younger one demanded, "What do you want?" I told her to call me back later.

This is the first baby in my immediate family. I am beside myself with nervousness and excitement and I can barely get any labwork done, because I am thinking about Meghan and the baby all the time. She has been having contractions 20 minutes apart for days now. She's supposed to see the doctor tomorrow if the baby doesn't come before then.

This is a marked contrast to when Meghan herself was born. It was a Sunday, and I woke up because there was a commotion out in the hall. I went out and asked what was going on and Jason said, "Mom's having the baby!" To which I replied, "I guess we're not going to church then," and went back to sleep. I was 12 at the time and this being my third sibling and possibly another brother (Mom didn't ask what the sex was) I was not so enthusiastic. I made up for it later though, by inviting my friend over and we waited by the phone while baking a cake to welcome my mom and the new baby (don't worry, I cleaned up the kitchen) and when my father called to tell me I had a new sister, there waa much jumping up and down and screaming followed by, "Does this mean I get a new room?"* And then more jumping up and down and screaming.

This is very different. It's getting to the point that when they call me to tell me she's in labor, I might just rent a car right that minute and drive to Iowa (unless it's the middle of the night in which case the car rental place will be closed). For her sake, I hope it's over by the time I get there (it's a 7 hour drive), but I wouldn't mind sitting up with someone waiting. If it happens in the middle of the night I don't know what I'll do becuase I'll want to call someone and it's considered bad form to call your friends in the middle of the night unless you are dying or your heart has been broken. I had been iffy about whether I was going to go see the baby right away or wait until the baptism, but I now realize there is no possible way I can wait.



*My two borthers shared a room, but I had always had my own. However, my room was too tiny to be shared, even with a baby (my bed and dresser fit in there and that was about it) so if the baby was a girl, we were enclosing the back porch and that was going to be my new room and I was going to get to decorate it.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

It appears I don't exist

Top 5 facts:

Are you Well Envoweled?
How well envoweled is Elisabeth Montegna?We checked 1,000,000 names and 60.1% had more vowels than 'Elisabeth Montegna'. That means you are
averagely envoweled.
Check your envowelment, find your Power Animal, and see your name in binary at isthisyour.name



2. Backwards, it is Htebasile Angetnom... nice ring to it, huh?

3. In Pig Latin, it is Elisabethway Ontegnamay

Your name in Binary?
What is Elisabeth Montegna in Binary?In Binary, Elisabeth Montegna is: 01000101 01101100 01101001 01110011 01100001 01100010 01100101 01110100 01101000 00100000 01001101 01101111 01101110 01110100 01100101 01100111 01101110 01100001 .
Encode your name, find your Power Animal, and check your envowelment at isthisyour.name



5. People with this first name are probably: Female. So, you are constantly overcharged for beauty products.

3 things you didn't know:

What is your Power Animal?
Elisabeth Montegna, what is your Power Animal?Elisabeth Montegna, based on your name and a process known to only three people on the planet, we can tell you that your Power Animal is the: White Rhinoceros.
Find your Power Animal, check your envowelment, and see your name in binary at isthisyour.name



2. Your 'Numerology' number is 8. If it wasn't bulls**t, it would mean that you are motivated by material success and have an aptitude for business, managerial and financial matters. This comes through your uncommon discipline and persistence.

3. According to the US Census Bureau°, 0.023% of US residents have the first name 'Elisabeth' and fewer than 0.001% have the surname 'Montegna'. The US has around 300 million residents, so we guesstimate there are 0 'Elisabeth Montegna's.

What ancient language are you?


Your Score: Hieroglyphics



You are Egyptian Hieroglyphics! Monumental, ornate and even in technicolour! Your users contributed virtually all ancient knowledge on inks, dyes and writing surfaces - to the point where the popular reed of Papyrus became the universal name for organic, manufactured writing surfaces in the western hemisphere for thousands of years. Proud, upstanding and dignified.




Link: The Which Ancient Language Are You Test written by imipak on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'm not sure what to think about this....


Your Score: Dr. James Wilson


50% Eccentricity, 30% Confidence, 80% Kindness




Congratulations, you're Dr. James Wilson! You've got the tough role of being the conscience and best friend to Dr. Greg House, which proves that you must be secretly (or openly) insane. You're always a good person for providing advice, witty remarks, free lunches, lectures, and (wanted or unwanted) psychoanalysis. You are about as confident as the average person, but you have some big issues with yourself, and may have problems living up to the ideals you have in your head. You do really care about other people, though, even if you sometimes express that caring by trying to get into their pants.




Link: The House, MD Personality Test written by freedomdegrees on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's done

Not the shirt, The Book. I finished it in 8 hours.

I was right about some things. I was wrong about some things. Some of the things that I was right about, I wish I had been wrong about. Some of the things I was wrong about I wish I had been right about.

Since I have no desire to ruin the book for anyone, I won't tell you what those things were. However, I will say that I liked the book. But, I'm kind of sad it's all over, now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

TOTAL MEDIA BLACKOUT STARTS NOW

I you haven't read up through book 6 in Harry Potter, you might want to skip this post.

I haven't discussed it much here, but I'm a bit of a Harry Potter fan. Well, "a bit" might be an understatement. I'm not going to be naming my first born child Harry, Ron, or Hermione (although Sirius might make it, you know, because my husband is an astronomer--kidding!) but I've probably read each of the books at least five times and some of the earlier ones more than that. And I went to a midnight party for each of the last two books. And, as anyone who is not living in a cave is aware, the seventh book will be released at midnight Friday.

But, I will not be attending a midnight party. Instead, I'm going to be at the rehearsal dinner for my brother's wedding on Sat. I'm a little sad about this, but that's the way it's gotta be. So, I've decided not to read the book until after the wedding. On Sunday, I'm sitting down and reading the entire thing with no stops (I'll be carrying it to the bathroom with me in case you are wondering). This is what I did with the 6th book, then I handed it over to John and said, read it as fast as you possibly can because the ending won't stay secret for very long. And, fortunately, he managed to make it through the book without reading any spoilers.

Today, a labmate told me about a website he found through CNN that has the important info from the book on it. And, being unwilling to resist, he went there and read it (he's filled with all kinds of remorse about it, now). The person had a photo of the book as some sort of confirmation that they were telling the truth. Now, I don't know how much I believe that the person truly had a copy of the book. They do have some pretty crazy security surrounding the book. However, just to make sure, I'm not turning on the tv, listening to the radio or looking at a newspaper, magazine, internet news site or reading anything but knitting blogs until Sunday. I'm also considering just wearing earplugs in between now and then to avoid overhearing anything (the wedding kind of scares me for that reason, maybe someone will have read it and they will discuss it and I'll overhear it, so to keep that from happening, I'm just going to get rip-roaring drunk so I won't remember anything anyone says anyway--though reading the book with a hangover might not be the most pleasant experience).

I'm a little fanatical about reading. I love to read and I love books. One of the things I hate about grad school is that I don't have time to do much reading for pleasure (I don't have much time to read scientific journals, either). Reading is my escape. There are certain books I only read when I'm sad or upset; they're like comfort food for my brain. I have several copies of certain books (usually a paperback and a hardcover; although I think I have four separate editions of A Wrinkle in Time, why yes, it is my favorite book, how did you guess?). I love the smell of books (books printed years ago have a different smell to them, have you ever noticed?) and the feel of the paper and the weight of the book in my hands. This is not to say that I treat them very carefully. You can tell which books I love most because they are the most beat-up (my Velveteen Rabbit books I call them). Lately, I've been listening to books more than reading them because I can do it while knitting and while on the bus and while driving and so on. It's not nearly as satisfying as reading them, but sometimes you have to make compromises.

So, what do I hope to see in this, the last book of the Harry Potter series?
  • Resolution of whether Snape is good or evil. More on that later.
  • Reason why Dumbledore trusted Snape.
  • More about Lily. There were tantalizing hints in the last couple of books, but I'd really like to hear more about her.
  • What's going on with Aunt Petunia? She seems to know more than she's letting on.
  • What happens to the relationships? Who ends up marrying whom?
  • What are all of the Horcruxes and where are they hidden? It seems like this would be a given, but I can't figure out how, in one book, in one year, Harry will find all five of the remaining ones when it took Dumbledore years to find two and destroy one.
  • The final battle between Harry and Voldemort (again, this is a given, but it is something I'm looking forward to reading about).
And, for the record, to keep me honest, here are my predictions:
  • Snape, while a mean old bastard, is on the good side. There are many, many reasons why I think this, but I think deep down the real reason is I don't want Dumbledore to have been wrong.
  • Dumbledore is really dead and is not going to somehow show up and say, ha, ha, just kidding, I've been alive all this time.
  • Harry will somehow be able to get advice from Dumbledore--most likely through the portrait in the headmaster's office.
  • Dumbledore will have stored some key memories in jars (like why he trusted Snape, for instance) and Harry will be able to access these through the Pensieve.
  • Lives or dies:
    • Harry: lives
    • Ron: lives
    • Hermione: lives
    • Ginny Weasley: lives
    • Neville: lives
    • Luna: dies
    • Snape: dies saving Harry or dies in such a way that allows Harry to defeat Voldemort
    • Other teachers (including McGonagall): live
    • Lupin: lives
    • Tonks: lives (marries Lupin)
    • Percy Weasley: dies (okay, I think at least one of the Weasleys dies and I like Percy the least, so I'm going to say him; I'd be okay with Charlie dying, though, too)
    • Draco: lives
    • Bellatrix: dies (Neville gets to kill her)
    • Lucius Malfoy: dies (Voldemort kills him)
    • Rest of the Death Eaters: live (they will still need to be hunted down at the end of the book, or they will be in prison)
    • Voldemort: dies (of course!)
That's it. That's all I'm willing to go on record saying. I think, in some ways, finishing this book won't be nearly as fun as finishing the others because we won't all be able to sit around and offer our theories on what's going to happen. That's been a large part of the fun--for me, anyway.

So, I might not be on the blog for awhile, seeing as how I'm leaving for the wilds of Iowa and don't know what kind of internet access I'll have. Have a good weekend everyone and happy reading!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Armholes--The Next Great Adventure

I took that collar and showed it who's boss. It only took me about five times, but I finally got it in to my satisfaction. Well, there is one little thing that I feel could be better, but I decided I could live with it. Then, I sewed up the sides and tried it on and it looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. So, on to the armholes! This shirt is sleeveless, so I have to finish off the armholes nice and pretty. Then, I "just" have to hem it and put in the buttonholes and sew on the buttons.

I have to say, I would probably not have stuck with the shirt if I was not so desperate to have decent clothes that fit that don't cost a fortune.

Socks? What socks?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Collar: 3, Elisabeth: 0

So, um, I spent quite a bit of time on the collar last night and it still isn't permanently attached to the shirt. I'm having some difficulty attaching it so that the seam looks smooth.

Also, I knit several rounds on the Sockapalooza socks and ended up ripping them all out again. *sigh*

Perhaps I should have realized that since it was Friday the 13th, no good could come of me working on craft projects (especially with a black cat in the house).

Friday, July 13, 2007

Adventures in Sewing

Since I have been feeling ambivalent about knitting, I have decided to work on another craft: sewing.

I'm a beginner sewer seamstress. Last summer, I sewed a dress with the help of my mom while she was visiting Chicago. It was at that time that I bought my first sewing machine. Since then, I have made one skirt. Which really doesn't make up for the cost of the machine. So, I've been wanting to sew more. Then, a few weeks ago, I went clothes shopping. It was a less than pleasant experience. I have come to the conclusion that in order to buy clothes that fit me, I will either have to lose 30 pounds or gain 30 pounds (because, I had no luck at Lane Bryant, either, though it did make me feel skinnier). At the time, I dreamed of creating a new line of clothing stores called, "Just Average," or "In the Middle" for women like me who are not lithe little stick figures, but are also too small to fit into "Women's" clothing. However, given my current time constraints and the fact that I have virtually no sewing skills and absolutely no designing skills, I decided the better approach would be to make as many of my own clothes as possible.

This is easier said than done (see: Beginner Seamstress).

Currently, I am working on a sleeveless, collared button-down shirt with bust darts. So far, after many, many hours of work, I have:

  • Figured out the best way to cut out the pieces since it was NOT the way the pattern suggested
  • Cut everything out
  • Read the directions for ironing on the interfacing several times
  • Disintegrated the interfacing when the iron touched it directly, ripped off that interfacing
  • Cut out and ironed on more interfacing
  • Sewed the shoulder seams
  • Finished the edges of the shoulder seams
  • Put in the bust darts
  • Tried on the proto-shirt (this involved pinning the sides together, too, and the facing on the inside so that it would hang approximately like the finished product), realized the bust darts ended exactly on my nipples such that it looked like I had pointy breasts
  • Took out the bust darts and put them in again, shorter this time
  • Tried on shirt again only to find that by making the darts shorter it changed how the shirt layed such that the darts were pointing at my waist
  • Spent a heck of a lot of time trying to figure out how I could mark where the "fullest part" of my "bust" was without having permanant dots on the shirt over my nipples and settled for pins
  • Spent even more time in front of the mirror making sure I had the pins on the "fullest part" of my "bust" so I could aim the darts in the proper direction
  • Took out the too low darts and put in darts that actually fit right.
  • Tried on the shirt again. Victory! I made darts that point at my nipples--hooray!
  • Sewed the pieces of the collar together
  • Spent a very long time staring at the pattern trying to figure out how the hell I was supposed to put this collar on the shirt (I need more explanation of what those figures mean, please!)
  • Basted the collar on the shirt backwards such that the seam allowances were facing the right side
  • Ripped out the basting and re-basted it
  • Pinned the collar to the facing and sewed the seam to attach the collar to the shirt
  • Looked it over, didn't like the way the collar seam looked and ripped it out.
I should probably mention they bill this as a "Quick and Easy" pattern. I'm sure it is for someone who's been sewing for awhile, but for me, not so much. The collarless proto-shirt has been hanging in my hall closet since Wednesday. I may be ready to work on it again tonight. I think I can devote 3 hours to it in which time I hope to attach the collar.

Can't wait to get to the buttonholes!

In knitting news, I need to knit 0.5 inches on the foot of the 1st Sockapalooza sock and then I can start the heel (I'm knitting it toe-up). I have decided that I'm going to knit each foot up to the heel, then do the heels, then knit both legs at the same time and stop when 1) I run out of yarn or 2) I run out of time, whichever comes first. Sadly, although I like the feel of the Panda Cotton, I don't so much like knitting with it because it has a tendency to split. On the other hand, it's one of the few cotton sock yarns out there that doesn't have wool in it. And since one of these days I'm hoping to move to California, I don't so much want socks with wool in them. Yeah, I know I'll be visiting cold places, but I probably won't need 20 pairs of socks for those visits (I can just see it now, I change socks twice everyday so I can get through them all when I'm visiting Iowa or Boston). And it does come in a nice range of colors, soooo, I probably will still knit with it a lot, or at least something else comes along that I like better.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Long absence = Long post

I have been operating under the delusion that since I've been gone a long time, I need to write a long blog post to tell you everything that I've done since last we spoke. And, since I haven't had a nice stretch of time in which to write this long post (or when I did, I was not "inspired"), I haven't written. And the longer the amount of time I've been gone, the longer the post would have to be and so on snowballing into me not posting in over a month. None of us are very happy about this.

Knitting News
Adding to my blogging apathy is my knitting apathy. I just haven't felt like knitting for awhile. So, I haven't. Instead, when I come home from lab, I plop on the couch, turn on the tv and sit staring blankly at the tv screen. Sometimes I think about knitting, but the thinking usually goes something like this: [with regards to a plain stockinette sock] "That just seems too complicated," or [when contemplating getLinkting off the couch to find my knitting] "That seems like far too much effort." Pathetic, but true. So, not much knitting going on.

However, here is what I have on the needles (no pictures because that would involve more energy than I have these days):

Sockapalooza 4 sock: Knit in Panda cotton in the Fruit Salad colorway; pattern--Chevron from Sensational Knitted Socks. I have got to get cracking on these because I'm supposed to mail them out the first week of August!! So far, I have the toe and half the foot of one of them done. I'm knitting them toe-up because I was planning on knitting the leg until the yarn ran out, but I think what I'm going to do is start the second sock when I have the foot of the first sock done and then knit both legs at the same time until I run out of time.

Afghan square: Rebuilding Greensburg project (button in sidebar). I've gotten one done and I'm over halfway done with a second one. I should be able to cruise through these, but... (see apathy).

Mystery Stole 3
: Technically this isn't on the needles. This is actually still in the shopping bag with various bits all over the apt. I'm not sure why I decided to join this, all things considered, but it sounded really cool and fun. Although I may or may not start it before the knitalong is over, and the newsgroup has far too many posts for me to keep up with.

Non-knitting News
I'm still in lab. Still in Chicago. Still no PhD. Please do not ask again. *sigh* I know people mean well, and they are just trying to show that they are interested in my life, but I thought I would be done several months ago and every time somebody asks when I'm going to finish, I am reminded that I am here way longer than I wanted to be. For me, it's the equivalent of asking, "So, when are you going to get that grotesque, horribly disfiguring birthmark removed from your face?" Or possibly, "So, when are you going to start that diet?" Anyway, partly because of this, I tend not to want to be around people much except for my really close friends and my labmates. My brother's wedding is coming up and I'm not looking forward to giving everyone the spiel. Perhaps I should print my answer on business cards and hand them to people when they ask.

John is well. We see each other once a month. That's about all I have to say about that.

My friend from lab, R, has now given me two riding lessons on her horse! I've always wanted to learn to ride a horse and I'll be definitely taking lessons when I get to California, but in the meantime, R is happy to take me out every once in awhile. This last time, I successfully sat a trot (western style) which I have never been able to do before, so that was pretty cool! It takes every bit of my concentration in order to do it and I can barely pay attention to steering when I do it, but hey, I'm a newbie.

Hmmm....I guess that's it for now. Hopefully it won't be another month before I post again.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Don't Fence Me In

It seems I am not the only one who yearns for those wide open spaces. But, Imbrium, I'm sorry to say that mountains make me claustrophobic. It's not so much being able to see the open sky as seeing the flat, flat land stretching for miles and miles that I miss. As you might imagine that means I'm not a big fan of the mountains in the LA area (well that and because they keep the city smog from blowing further inland and therefore all you see is this nasty brown haze--yuck!). Don't get me wrong--mountains are beautiful. And I'll never cease to be fascinated by them (topography is very two dimensional in Iowa), but they make me edgy. I guess I'll always be an Iowa girl.

This weekend is graduation weekend and so A (Temporary Roommie) and M (former Roommie) are in town. I'm very happy to see them, but it's rough hearing them talk about graduation when I am not graduating. And watching them graduate tomorrow is going to be hard, too. Which reminds me. I don't believe I ever introduced:

Dr. MRR! She has been part of my core group of friends that have been with me from my first day at grad school (M and A are the other two). She actually defended way back in the middle of May, but I've been busy going crazy over lab work and not posting regularly.

So, getting back to the whole not graduating thing. I've known for awhile, of course, that I would not be graduating this spring. I made that realization several months ago and most of the sting had gone out of it, until these last few days when I suddenly felt very very sad I was not going to be in my cap and gown with the rest of my friends. I think it might not have been so bad if only one or two of them were graduating but with all three, I definitely feel left behind. And I know I have to move past this--life is what it is, right? I mean, there's really nothing I can do to change this so I dwelling on it and getting morose and crying into my beer (wine, actually) is not doing anyone any good, least of all me. But no matter how much I tell myself this (and that it will not be the end of the world) it still bothers me.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The sister, she is very pregnant

Due date: August 9 (the day before her birthday)

I went to Iowa this weekend for my brother's fiancee's bridal shower and as much family time as we could cram in without killing ourselves. And, of course, pictures.

It takes an amazing astological event for the circumstances to be right for my entire family to be in one place at the same time. Hell, it takes an amazing astrological event for me and my siblings to be in one place at the same time. Jason lives in Atlanta and I live in Chicago. Meghan is in Iowa and so is Eric. So, it's really getting me and Jason in one place at the same time that's the issue. Anyway, anytime we are all together, there has to be a picture to commemorate the occassion.

Left to Right: Me, Jason, Eric, Meghan

Even more rarely, we are all in Iowa and my stepgrandparents (stepfather's parents) are in Iowa at the same time (they live in Arizona and come back to Iowa for a couple weeks out of every year, but I am usually not there at the same time).

Me and my sibs, plus Mac (in the back), Derek (step-cousin), and Pat

While it was good seeing everyone, it was pretty damn exhausting.

Here was the schedule for the weekend:
Thursday--pick up rental car (it was cheaper to get it on Thursday than on Friday, very strange)
Friday--Go to post office to pick up I-pass that they are holding hostage there waiting for my signature (the I-pass is a device that allows me to go through tolls without change, it basically tells the toll that I have money in an account then deducts money from that account; John had it in California where it was useless, so he sent it to me) drive from Chicago to Grandma's in Iowa (6 hours due to traffic)
Saturday--drive from Grandma's to shower (2.5 hours), have fun at shower, go to aunt's for dinner (fortunately, she lived close to the shower location), drive to Ames to stay at a hotel for the night (1 hour)
Sunday--Go to church in hometown with Mom, Meghan, and Grandma (very close to Ames, that's why we stayed there), talk to people I haven't seen in 10 years, go back to Ames for family lunch, drive back to Grandma's (about 2 hours), sit and stare at the backyard for awhile because we are both dead tired
Monday--get up early and drive back to Chicago (5 hours--traffic was much better), return rental car, collapse in my apt. and go to bed early

One thing I have discovered about myself after living in cities for the last 15 years is that I really miss wide open spaces. Therefore, I decided to try to take some pictures of them as I was driving back to Chicago. All of these were taken while driving (drive-by pictures, if you will).



That last one is the Mississippi River. The pictures really don't do the landscape justice, but I think I'm going to make them the screensaver on my computer anyway, just to have a little wide open space in the city.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Slight upswing

More good news. One of my lab projects (another "winding up a ball of yarn" project) is starting to work out better. Unfortunately, the problem was I was a dumbass and was doing something wrong and I had what I needed all along, but was doing the wrong tests so I thought it was bad. Oh well. It's all straightened out now so now I can move it forward! Hooray! Also, somebody else in my lab was having a problem and I gave her some advice and it fixed the problem so that felt pretty good. See, I really am smart, it's just that my own projects hate me.

In knitting news, I worked a few rounds on the pink tank top last night while watching What Not To Wear and Numbers. Do any of you watch Numbers? They film it on CalTech campus sometimes, so John sees the film crews. Anyway, I was totally not ready for that ending! I can't believe it--he seemed like such a nice guy!

What Not To Wear always makes me want to throw all of my clothes in the trash, take out a personal loan, hire a fashion expert, and go shopping. It also makes me long for the perfect "structured jacket" that will solve all of my body torso issues (unfortunately, it's not going to fix the fact that my butt and thighs are apparently way too large in proportion to my waist such that pants that fit my waist don't fit my butt and vice versa). I'm afraid to let Stacey and Clinton at my wardrobe, though, because if they threw out my handknit shawls and my handknit bolero, I'd have to walk out and give them back their $5,000 gift card. Last night, this woman had all of these sweaters and they were throwing them out. They weren't handknit, but still. Also, Stacey pointed to a cabled sweater and said something about crochet which made me cringe. If you're going to insult the craft, pick the right one!

In other news, I'm going downtown today to pick up some yarn I ordered from my LYS. It's Wick in the blue green colorway and I'm going to make some socks for John from it. It's made from soy and polypropylene (which is weird because we have tubes made from polypropylene in lab) and is supposed to "wick moisture" away from you. It's a really nice yarn. Last Friday my LYS had a "yarn tasting" where we got to knit up samples of various summer yarns and this was one of them and I loved it. I haven't made socks for John yet, so I really should since I seem to make them for everyone else.

Speaking of socks, I am trying to figure out what kind of socks to make for my sock pal for Sockapalooza 4. She indicated no preference for color or kind of yarn. She lives in the Midwest, so wool would be okay for winter, but she's going to be getting them in August and that is definitely not the time to be wearing wool socks. And I still don't know what pattern to make, either. I've checked out her blog and her finished projects, but she doesn't keep most of the things she makes for herself, so I'm not sure what her personal style is. I'm kind of hoping I will wander around the LYS and something will just jump out at me. Maybe a nice lacy pattern--I haven't made lacy socks and that might be fun. Hmmm.....

Friday, May 18, 2007

Laughter tinged with hysteria

There's a lot of that going on at my lab bench these days. Every day seems to end with me sitting at my desk with my head in my hands and saying, "I don't get it." And everytime I get a result I just laugh--laugh and laugh and laugh--because they are so absurd I can't do anything but laugh. I really don't understand how it could all go so horribly horribly wrong.

The good news is that this isn't a really experiment, this is just ingredient preparation. It is the equivalent of winding a ball of yarn before you start knitting. The knitting is the experiment, the ball winding is what I'm doing now. Except, instead of a lovely, center-pull ball, I have a horrible knot. A knot that is so big and hairy and loopy and heinous that I may have to just cut the yarn and start over.

Most of what I do in lab is the equivalent of winding balls of yarn. In fact 90% of my time is winding the yarn and 10% is the knitting. I am very very sick of winding yarn. I just want to knit so I can wear my sweater.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm all about the analogies.

Anyway, keeping with the "lab is like knitting" analogy, I am basically putting this yarn aside and winding a different ball of yarn for this project. It will work almost as well, and I can't stand the sight of the previous one. The previous one is so bad, I'm considering doing the equivalent of getting new roving and spinning the yarn again. I'm going to need it for something else later, so I probably shouldn't put it off for much longer.

----

On to real knitting! I was having some difficulty knitting my new tank top (the pattern is from Artyarns--you can see a picture of it here; the yarn is bamboo from Southwest Trading Company and you can see a picture of it here). The bottom part is lace and I was consistently screwing it up--on the first row! Finally, last night, I got the first row (round, really, because it's knit in the round) set up properly and I am on my way! Yay! Something's working!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shawl photos

So, um, I forgot to post those pictures of me wearing my April Wedding Shawl for the Cabin Cove Along.



I want to take some nice pictures of the shawl by itself to send to Dave for his gallery, but alas, I have been putting it off. I'd like to take them outside, but that means I'm going to have to wait for nature to cooperate. Maybe this weekend.

As for the rest of my Cabin Cove stash, I'm feeling a little apathetic about the projects I have started or planned for it. I was making a pair of socks for my Roommie as a gift, but they are wool socks and he is going to be moving to South Carolina and I'm wondering how much he's really going to need wool socks. So, I need to to think about that a little bit. That and the fact that I'm worried I may run out of yarn for his humongous feet, and I'm thinking maybe I should think about making those socks for my husband who doesn't have sasquatch feet and find a nice bamboo/wool blend or cotton/wool blend, or soy/wool blend for Roommie.*

I still want to make a shawl with the grey laceweight, but it's been pretty warm in Chicago lately and I have this burning desire to make a tank top.

So, with one thing and another, I've been neglecting the Cabin Cove. But, I'm not worried about it. I'm certain that I will soon hear the siren call of the Victorian Lace Today and want to knit up that shawl and everytime I see the started socks, I feel their pain--the pain of neglect--so it's only a matter of time before I pick them up again.

------

Lab is still lab but fortunately not as crazy as it was yesterday, so maybe the Laws of the Universe are settling down and taking a break from trying to screw me over. Hey, I can dream, can't I?


*Yes, I know, my husband lives in Southern California, shouldn't that be worse for wool socks? But you forget that he goes to the telescope on the top of the mountain in Hawaii and it's very cold there (winter coat cold) and so for one week out of every six, he'll be needing warm socks, at least for the forseeable future.

They're coming to take me away-ha-ha!

They're coming to take me away-ho-ho!

He-he Ha-Ha He-He Ho-ho--to the funny farm!

Where life is hysterical all day long!

Yesterday, I had one of those days. Those days where, in everything you planned to do something is so seriously screwed up that you realize that astrology cannot possibly work because if it did, Mercury, Mars, and Saturn would have to be aligned and Jupiter had reached critical mass and became a star a la 2001 in order for so many things to have gone wrong at once. It's nothing tragic, nothing really all that horrible, just little bits of my labwork failing in the most absurd and completely unforseen ways. Ways in which you think, Yes, there is a God and he really doesn't want me to study transitional ER sites in Pichia pastoris. To use a knitting analogy, let's say you are working on a plain stockinette sweater in a lovely cream alpaca and you've been knitting on it for awhile and everything is fine and then one day, you pull it out of your bag and there's a bizzaro cable in red acrylic about halfway down the sweater and you think, how the hell did that happen? Was I smoking crack last night when I was working on this? There's not even any red acrylic in my stash! And I don't know how to do cables. And there's no way to fix it but to rip it all out and remove the offending red cabled portion and go back to knitting your lovely cream alpaca sweater. And you become convinced that there are little gnomes who come out at night and mess with your stuff. Or wonder if you can get an exorcism done.*

I am becoming more and more convinced that there are indeed gnomes who live in the walls of our lab who come out in the wee small hours of the morning (the only time when there is nobody in the lab, you'd be surprised at how late people are here at night) and spit into my reagents and mess around with my experiments and change the labels on my tubes. I'm not sure how to counter this considering I already have an evil eye hanging over my desk (a friend brought it back from Turkey for me; my desk is attached to my bench) and an Infant Jesus of Prague mini statue on my bench (one day, it showed up in the mail [at home, not in the lab] with a request for money; I get a lot of Catholic junk mail, especially since I do make contributions to a convent in Indiana)**. Perhaps I should purchase some good old fashioned gargoyles.... Suggestions, anyone?


*We have a post-doc from Greece and apparently it is relatively common to get a priest to come and bless your home or whatever, especially if you have a run of bad luck. I suspect though, that if I went to the campus priest and asked him to do an exorcism of our lab, he would be very amused. And then say no. Maybe I could just steal some holy water, put it in a spray bottle, then spray down my bench....

**Molecular biologists are very superstitious--you wouldn't believe how many good luck charms there are in our lab. We have this little finger puppet called the PCR monster that sits on our PCR machine when we are having a problem with the PCR reaction working. You cannot actually use the PCR monster the first time you do a reaction because that is abusing the PCR monster. The PCR monster can only be used when you have already tried the experiment and it failed and you are trying it again. Someone else in the lab has a buffalo figurine/toy called Al that she uses for all sorts of things. Somedays you come in an Al is sitting on top of an incubator or in her ice bucket or on top of the PCR machine. Al is a very well-traveled buffalo. I wonder if I should get a buffalo for my bench. Do you think the gnomes would be scared away by a buffalo?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Us!

By the numbers:

Years we have known each other: 13.5
Years we have been together: 12.5
Years we have lived together: 7
Years we have been married: 7
Years we have lived together while married: 3

We need to work on that last number a little bit....

-----
Some interesing tidbits about my wedding day:

*There are several pieces of advice I give to people who are planning their weddings. One is: don't do your own hair. I had practiced doing my hair and it had always turned out fine, but the day of the wedding, it was just not behaving. I had bought this beautiful hair comb and made a veil that attached to it that could be removed. I had planned on removing the veil for the reception, but my hair was such a disaster, I left it on. To let you know how frustrated I was, I actually looked at my very good friend from college and said to her, in all earnestness, "Okay, here's what we'll do. You're going to cut my hair...."

*John and I have similarly sized hands and therefore, similar ring sizes. At the ceremony, the best man (John's brother) put the rings on a glass plate for the priest to bless. The priest then picked up a ring and gave it to John to put on my finger. Which he did, but it felt slightly loose. I didn't think much of it until the priest handed me the second ring and I tried to put it on John's finger. It wouldn't go past his second knuckle. At that point I realized that the priest had given us each other's rings! However, as soon as the priest saw my confusion he made a gesture that amounted to, "just go with it," which we did. Immediately following that was the candle lighting. After lighting the candle, we stood behind the altar and waited for the song to be over while contemplating our lit candle. The timing was perfect. I nudged John, and whispered, "give me your ring." That's when we exchanged rings. Literally.

*I had my bridal shower two days before the wedding because that was the only time I could have my family and John's family at a shower. We decided that we should send the men off to dinner for John's "bachelor's party." The men included all of my male relatives and all of John's male relatives. I wasn't worried about it getting out of hand. Besides, that night several people were flying in, so they decided to have this dinner at O'Hare (the airport). They asked the people at the airport where they might have such a dinner, and they suggested a steak place in one of the hotels. They showed up at this "steak place" which has a rather innocuous name like "Fireside Grill" or something, to find that the waitresses were dressed in high heels and teddies. To this day, I am amused at the thought of my poor, straightlaced husband at such a place with his (even straighterlaced) father (the man once left the room during an episode of Rosanne because they were talking about breast reduction surgery), my stepfather, and my two brothers, among others.

*My brother was one of the people flying in two days before the wedding. He was flying back from a semester abroad in The Netherlands. In fact, this was one of the reasons we chose this weekend for our wedding, because he would be back in the country. He ran into some delay in New Jersey and so called me to let me know so I could tell the people picking him up at the airport. He had this advice to give at that moment, "Never drink so much that you can't remember how you got home the night before a transatlantic flight." Imagine, if you will, him arriving at O'Hare, seriously hungover, tired, confused, and then led to a "steak place" in the airport where there were scantily-clad women to have dinner with a bunch of people, of whom he knew less than half. Apparently, "surreal," didn't do it justice.

*The photography company was a pain in the butt to deal with, but the photographer they sent was fun and took wonderful pictures. John's brother and my aunt spent the evening trying to decide which one of them he was hitting on. I'm not sure they ever came to a conclusion about it.

*My reception was in dowtown Chicago and one block away from the Hard Rock Cafe. At some point during the evening, I was looking for my brother for a picture and was told, "he's at the Hard Rock Cafe." Apparently, John's cousin had a burning desire to go to the Hard Rock Cafe and he convinced my uncle and my brother to go with him. He also tried to buy them a drink there, but my uncle convinced him that was crazy seeing as there was an open bar at the reception. The next morning we had an informal brunch at our apt. John's cousin wore his brand new Hard Rock Cafe Chicago t-shirt.

*The petticoat I wore under my dress has since been worn by two other brides. It is so full and stiff that it can stand up on its own!

*The other piece of advice I have given to people is the following: "Remember, the purpose of the wedding is to get married. If, at the end of the day, you are married then it was a complete success." This is how I approached my wedding and I gotta tell you, it was very liberating. It allowed me to let go of all of the silly little fears about things being perfect and just enjoy the day. Once John, the priest, and I (and the marriage license) were all at the church, everything was going to be fine. All we needed were those three people and that document.

Even now, years later, there is very little I would change about that day.

Well, I would've hired a hairdresser!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I lied

I forgot to get a picture of myself wearing the shawl. But, I'm going out for my 7th wedding anniversary tomorrow, so I'll have another opportunity for a picture. In the meantime, you'll have to be satisfied with this one:


Ghiradelli helped with the blocking process. It's entirely possible that bit of the shawl wouldn't have laid flat if he hadn't laid down on it. The diamond you see there is actually the sunlight shining through the window.

It does look like I pinned it unevenly but in fact, I measured across it as I was pinning it to make sure that the width was even.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Oops

In trying to post anonymously on my sockpal's blog, I created a new gmail account. Little did I know that it would link it to my current blog and email address. So I have been back-tracking, trying to fix it just in case. I erased the new email account but it still shows up in the google profile. So, I've blocked my profile and so on for blogger just in case. So much for trying to be sneaky! I didn't think I was logged in, but some cookie must've told Google who I was. It's hard to be anonymous these days! Hopefully, my sockpal won't investigate too closely..... I would hate to ruin the surprise.

And a good time was had by all

The wedding was wonderful. The weather was beautiful and actually a little too warm for my shawl but I wore it anyway because that's the way I roll. (I'm still needing to buy something in order to get pictures off my camera by the way. I promise to post pictures as soon as I can.) The groom was a member of my entering class in grad school and we joined the same lab. So, I know a bit of what he went through in his quest to find the right mate. He was a big fan of internet match sites for Jewish singles (it was very important to him that he find someone who was Jewish; as an aside, about half of the people in my lab are Jewish, one person is Hindu, and the rest [except for me and a new post-doc who is Greek Orthodox] are agnostic or atheist, this is very different from where I grew up where religious diversity meant being either Methodist or Lutheran) and went on a lot of dates (several years worth) before meeting his wife. It was a rough road for him, but he persevered (spelling?) and you could tell by the look on his face it was all worth it.

People generally are happy at their own weddings, of course. But sometimes it feels like they are no happier than their usual relatively happy state. And then there are some people where the happiness they are feeling is palpable. This guy fairly radiated joy and it really was wonderful to see. And even though I was missing my husband (who couldn't come with me) and I was tired and fretting about my lab work, the joy of the happy couple was coming off in such huge waves that I couldn't help surfing along on it.

The wedding itself was at a country club and was a fairly traditional Jewish ceremony. The wedding program had lots of information about the various rituals for us Gentiles and included the story of the first recorded Jewish wedding in that county of Ohio which was officiated by the man who started the Reform Judiasm movement. The huppah was a log frame made by the bride's father covered with a quilt top made by the bride which will eventually become a quilt for their bed. The ceremony included the stomping on a wine glass which was in a little pouch also made by the bride. The bridesmaids were all in dresses in the same spring green color and fabric, but of different styles. I never would have thought of that yellowy green color for bridesmaids but it was beautiful and flattering. The flowers were yellow and white. Between the green dresses and the yellow and white flowers and the log frame on the huppah, it felt like we were in a spring meadow.

After the ceremony, there was a wonderful reception full of Israeli dancing led by a member of the band. I'm not sure I've ever seen people have so much fun dancing. There was also the traditional "chair dancing" in which the bride and the groom sat precariously in chairs that were raised high above the crowd while people circled around them. As a sign that it was a fabulous party, nobody wanted to leave and the reception hall people had to kick us out. Following the reception, members of the "younger" crowd (including myself) congregated by the nearby river at an old railroad trestle bridge to have criminally strong mixed drinks made out of illegally obtained vodka and whisky (some of the bride's cousins bought it from the hotel management; the illegal part comes from it being a Sunday night when no liquor is to be sold) mixed with scanty amounts of Sierra Mist or Pepsi (why yes, I did have a tiny headache the next morning). It was very surreal--like I had suddenly been transported back in time to high school, except that I was never invited to do such a thing in high school (and may not have went even if I had been invited). All we needed was for someone to suggest we toilet paper some trees and I would've been convinced that the last 15 years had never happened.

Sadly, nobody commented on my shawl except for my roommate who knew that I had made it. Oh well. You can't have everything. Besides, it was perfect for me and this occasion and that's all that really mattered, right?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

New shawl

Well, now that I've finished the April Wedding Shawl for the Cabin Cove-Along I'm starting a new shawl. I may have a "problem." I seem to have temporarily replaced my sock obsession with a shawl obsession (I have no idea why I say temporary, it could be permanant, though I think that very little can beat the sock for travel knitting).

The yarn is Cabin Cove merino Lace Cake in silver grey. I bought it at the same time I bought the pink for my (now finished!) AWS. The pattern is from Victorian Lace Today "A curved shawl with diamond edging." For those of you following along at home, the pattern starts on page 72. The center pattern reminds me of an heirloom baby bonnet I once saw (which, at the time, I thought was tatted, but now I'm not so sure) which I was fascinated with at the time. The difficulty is defined as "intermediate lace" and involves a "loop cast-on" (I'm not sure why since it's not a circular shawl) which I've redone about five times now trying to get it right. And I've started tinking already and I'm only on the third row. This may be partially due to the fact that I forgot to bring stitch markers with me and with lace, I like to put markers between repeats to make it easier to keep track of things. How I could make it anywhere without any stitch markers at all I don't know but I've dug through everything I have and nary a stitch marker to be seen. I did a search for LYS in the area and guess what! There is one, but it's closed on Sunday and Monday. :( So, I may be making a trip to walmart to see what they have.

I think my current obsession with shawls is partially based on my trips to California these past few months. While SoCal is maybe not the place to wear a heavily cabled sweater, the weather is perfect for shawls--particularly in the winter. When we'd go out at night, I'd just grab a wrap and as long as we didn't walk too far, it was perfect. I think I may also develop a strong interest in shrugs and little ballet wraps and cropped cardigans.