Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of Knitty 2011

One more post for today.

I just saw this post from Knitty in my feed. I wanted to tuck it here in the blog so I can go back and look at a couple of these patterns later. Later as in when I pick up knitting needles again. Someday...

Some teaser pics:

Go alone?

I was out with a group of ladies last night for dear friend D's "21st" (again) birthday. At the second place we went to, a restaurant, the server asked to see everyone's IDs. Pause. I looked at him, with a look that I thought would simply convey that I was more than twice that age, and he said something like, "Whoa! No, you're OK. I don't need to see yours!" As though I shot him a withering look. He was trying to save time by just asking for everyone's ID, I guess.

Anyway, I was with a bunch of teachers, who, not surprisingly, like to travel in their off time. I asked them this question. "If you had the resources, but no one to travel with, would you still go abroad alone?" The overwhelming answer was "Of course!" and I thought that was interesting. I don't know where all of them are in terms of relationship status, but a couple are married, and one has a boyfriend.

My answer would have been "maybe". I'm still at a point where I don't want to do that kind of thing by myself. I spend enough time by myself. But it got me thinking that there very well could come a time when the desire (and resources) are such that the desire to do it will override my hesitation to do it alone, and I will make a trip by myself. Something on the level of going to Europe for a couple of weeks.

But yesterday I did do something that tells me I'm not totally chicken when it comes to travel. I'm going to San Francisco to give a talk at our collaborators' state mosquito conference. I don't have to be anywhere until Monday evening, so at first I picked flights that would get me there at 1 pm. Then I thought about how I was able to easily take the train from JFK airport to where I needed to go in NY, and thought there must be somewhere interesting to go that's accessible by public transportation.

Sure enough, the California Academy of Sciences is an easy train and bus ride from the airport. The hotel is really close to the airport, so I'll ditch my luggage at the hotel if I can't check into my room right away, and then hop a train down to Golden Gate Park, which houses the Conservatory of Flowers. I visited a friend in SF years ago and went to these sites. At the time (October?) they had one of the most - no, it was THE most - spectacular displays of Dahlias I have ever seen. It motivated me to grow them myself.

So I changed my flight choice to arriving at 10 am. I'll then have several hours to explore before meeting up with our collaborators for dinner. See? A wee bit adventurous after all.

Now, I've got my fingers crossed that the new lab stuff I'm trying on their project works out well so I've got good results to show at the end of January.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The what?

It's not a surprise to anyone who reads this blog (I think) that after Christmas, sometimes maybe even the day after Christmas, some folks' thoughts turn to thoughts of The Garden. That is, what they are going to be planting in next year's garden.

My garden wasn't a disaster last year, but I was left unsatisfied, because I overplanted.  It was so crowded in that little space, it was hard to see what was ripe. I've told several people to please metaphorically dope-slap me if I even murmur anything about growing more than one tomato plant. Why? I don't actually eat many slicing tomatoes. There you go. The little grape ones? Yummy. I can justify one of those.

I thought last year that I could grow enough paste tomatoes to do a run of sauce, but that has really underscored the reality about my two raised beds: they don't provide enough space to grow enough food that comes ripe AT THE SAME TIME to preserve it.

I was bailed out on the tomato thing by receiving a box of paste tomatoes in lieu of eggs last year and it all worked out. But this has made me think I need to change it up for 2012.

I'm going to grow with the intention of more or less immediately eating what it produces. Lettuce, that one tomato plant, cantaloupe (because I'm an optimist), some herbs, zucchini, a couple of other things.

I haven't given up on preserving food. It's still a practice that I want to know how to do. I think the local food movement, sustainability, and food issues in general are really important. I've been struggling with how to put my feelings about these issues into practice, and still haven't gotten very far.

But, I can support the local farmers market more, especially when I want to put up food. And I of course love the idea of CSAs. I'll look again to see how much food there is per week, but it's always felt to me like some things would go to waste with just me and Mr W here half the time, even with a single person's share.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm blaming it on the dog

Like a lot of people I sometimes have trouble staying asleep. I don't have much trouble falling asleep unless I've miscalculated my caffeine consumption that day, and I'm thankful for that. My problem is waking up at 2 (or 3 or 4) and not being able to get back to sleep. Stress is usually the cause, but before I left for my trip I was sleeping pretty darn good for several days.

Since I got back home from OH on Saturday, my sleep's been so-so. I guess that I am getting enough because I haven't gotten a cold (yet). I sat next to a hacker/wheezer/sniffler on the plane ride back, and my niece was coughing as well (with much better technique, coughing into her elbow, btw), so I thought I might pick up something. I don't feel like I'm getting sick, but I don't have that "man, I got a good night's sleep last night!" feeling.

Nothing's wrong, nothing's amiss.

Thus, I blame it on the dog.

Miss Sally spent two days in the kennel that she has been do many times in her 5 years on the planet. The twist in this stay was that my friend B from the dog park picked her up. Sal's done this before, too. B has a nice dog and she and Sally get along just fine. When they play, it has high entertainment value. And B, being the good dog owner that she is (and she lives within walking distance of the dog park) took her dog and Sal over to the dog park and left them with the other folks in our little group that goes at the same time each day. Apparently this was the last straw for Sally, as she apparently bayed like a hound when B had to leave to give a music lesson. It all worked out, and I'm grateful to the dog park folks for taking good care of Sally, even if she was a bit flummoxed by the arrangement.

I think it is this flummox-ment that has caused her to be restless the last few nights, and that's been waking me up. I've got a small house. Sal sleeps in the living room, and I sleep in my room, which is right next to it. So every time she got up and shook those tags, I woke up. There's a spot on the floor (probably right on the other side of my bedroom door) that has a squeak (it's an old house) that wakes me up. I finally got smart and took her collar off last night, but she was still milling about during the night. I'm hoping this is a temporary thing, as I've got no where else I'd like for her to sleep. I think I'd lose a lot more sleep if she was in my room (I don't think she'd stay on the floor). Maybe ear plugs...

In other news, I gave away three bracelets while I was traveling, one to my BIL's (my sister's husband) new girlfriend, who lamented that she needed a gift, and the person would love something like my bracelet (we were talking about me making them at the time, so it didn't seem like a cheap play to get a gift on her part!). I took off the bracelet and gave it to her. One bracelet in circulation in OH. I gave one to my SIL who with my older brother was headed out to CA and she gave one as a gift to a person that liked it and wanted to see more of them. One bracelet in circulation in an upscale part of CA. The last went home with my SIL from Charleston, and so will be seen in South Carolina. She's a jewelry maker herself, and gave me great feedback, and a simple way to make my clay medallions into earrings (clever!).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The new guy

This is a post about work, not dating. :-)

Our lab is kind of small, although I've got a nice amount of space to work in that is mine alone. When I first started, there were four of us sharing a very small space. So small we had to schedule around each other just to have a flat surface to prepare and run our samples. My boss supervises other PI's (that's Principal Investigator) and each of them have one or two people working in the lab, with similar amounts of personal work space.

One of these PI's has had a new technician start recently. I suppose he's gone through college. I'm not sure he's worked in a lab before. An important aspect of working in shared space is to put your stuff away. Now some of this, I'm pretty sure, is the nature of his supervisor, who is even more hands-off than mine in terms of management style. Still, I think I'll have to talk to him about lab etiquette. Soon.

I worked yesterday (which was the government holiday) so that I could take Friday off and keep Mr W to a minimum of day care over his school break. I enter the lab and the lab computer is locked up because he didn't exit and log off properly. Fine, that happens (although it's more likely to happen when one is trying to get out of there in a hurry. I know how that goes, too). His lab notebook was left on top of the calendar we use to sign up for time on some equipment. He's left his bottle of ethanol by the sink. He's left the ice scoop inside the ice machine (so it gets covered by the new ice being made and makes the next user have to dig around in the ice to get the scoop). The tissue grinder I use to grind up mosquitoes before extracting DNA is somehow moved out of the hood where it's been for a year, onto another tech's bench.

I feel like hanging one of those signs that says, "Your mother doesn't work here. You'll have to clean up after yourself"

It's funny how much this has irked me. I guess it's because I try hard to take care of that shared space and put things away. The way I look at it, if I keep my area neat, and keep track of my stuff, it reduces the amount of uncertainty in a process where your samples may or may not turn out how you want. It's so clear to me that one would want to be systematic about doing lab work, and he doesn't have that perspective yet.

So, we'll see how this goes. I'm not one to stew about this kind of thing silently, especially when it makes more work for me to put his stuff away.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Well, the dust has settled and we're back in CO after a really nice trip to Ohio. The travel this time was as painless as it could possibly be. We were delayed by about 25 minutes when we left, but other than that, everything ran as scheduled. My brother and SIL had the anxiety-provoking experience of the TSA security people finding an unclaimed bag, right before they were to go through the checkpoint, which forced the checkpoint to close down and everyone to go to another checkpoint. The door was closing when they made it to the gate, but they made it.

It was so nice to see everyone. We ate good food, drank a lot of wine and stayed up way past our bedtimes. But for a few days, it was heaven. I don't see these people enough, and I'm going to try hard to get us together this summer. Maybe we'll rent a house or something.

Here are me and my dear sisters-in-law. I thought it would be weird to be in my sister's house without her there, and it was, but it was also OK. It felt like she wasn't forgotten, but that time had passed and this was the new reality. Hard to explain, but it felt alright. My brother-in-law is dating someone and I am happy for that, they seem like a good match. My sister is missed, but I kind of felt her there.

Here are the kiddos. My sister's boys are in college now, and doing well. That's Mr W in the gold shirt, and my brother's girls. I was very impressed how the younger kids were able to occupy themselves while the adults hung out. I remember the days when we could only get a sentence or two in before someone needed a refill, snack, diaper change or boo-boo kiss.

We rode the light rail to downtown Cleveland, walked around a bit and had lunch. This is the West Side Market, which was largely closed that day. We had hoped to go to a brewpub/restaurant in the area, but they had a very long wait, so we ate at a little diner.

The shark shirts were a hit! All the boys thought they were a little goofy, but were good sports about it.

Here's my dad with my sister's older boy, Pat. We celebrated my dad's 77th birthday when we were home, and I hope I'm in as good of shape when I get to be 77.

Mr W and I rolled into town around 8:30 and his dad wanted to have their Christmas on Christmas eve, so I dropped him off. He still finds his new step-brother to be mostly a pain in the neck, and it sounds like the kid is having some difficulty adjusting to his life changes (which are significant - mom gets married, kid has to move and start a new school). I'm going to talk to his dad again and get his perspective on things.

After I dropped off Mr W, I picked up Sally, who did some time at the kennel and then was picked up by a friend from the dog park to stay with her and her dog for a couple of days. Apparently getting picked up by Beth was a little confusing to my dear dog, but it worked out. I'm thankful to have Sal around, as the house is pretty quiet with just me here. She of course is sleeping on my bed.

I thought I'd make some cookies to share with dog park folks later, work on some bracelet stuff, unpack, etc. today. A low key day.

I hope you get to celebrate this day exactly how you want to.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The lead-up

Preparations for our big trip to Ohio are underway here at casa LindaCO. Yesterday was one of those sneaky sorts of days where it seemed there were just a couple of things to do, and then it got really busy and I was a half hour late to two things I wanted to do. I'm thankful that the people I dealt with had more perspective than I and were OK with it. I was reminded once to breathe.

Today is less regimented, but we've got several things to attend to so that we can have a smooth evening tomorrow night and just pack and get a good night's rest. I have to admit, I'm a little leery of traveling around the holidays, because of our, ahem, adventure last year. But we have direct flights at reasonable times of the day, and that's all I can do, you know? We'll have all of our stuff in carry-ons, including the new computer his dad and I have bought for Mr W. Don't ask me how I'm going to get it through security without him realizing it. I might just have to smile and say, "none of your beeswax, pal" and leave it at that.

He is very excited to go to OH and see the cousins and family. Me too. It's been a while since we were all together. Last year, I had to mention that it was time for Mr W to get a little something for the important people in his life. It didn't have to cost anything, but he needed to make a gesture, as that was what Christmas is about. So this past Friday, a full 12 days before Christmas, I pick him up from school and he says proudly, "Look what I got you for Christmas, mom!" Right then and there at school. It was one of those moments when the right thing to do was to stop and look at the items, not say, "No! I don't want to see it until Christmas". It was very sweet. And useful, too. I got a stirring spoon with a smiley face on it that I will have for years and always think of him - a perfect gift.

We have it good.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Human nature?

I spend a fair bit of time by myself. At work, there are other people that work in the same lab, and it's nice to chat with them, but by and large, I feel like I can go for hours with only my own company. And I'm not complaining, it's how the job is set up and it's fine.

When Mr W's not here, I'm also on my own. I feel like I've filled my time adequately these past few months, with banjo lessons, and the nascent bracelet business. I feel like I've channeled my mental energy away from online dating into creative pursuits and it is a lot more satisfying. A lot.

After going a bit overboard with the Meet Up groups, I'm happy with the amount of stuff I'm doing with those groups. I've figured out what I already  knew in one regard: I'm not a go-out-to-a-bar-and-dance-with-strangers kind of gal. I'm not judging that kind of recreation, it's just not my thing. There's a song by David and David called "Swallowed by the Cracks" with a line that goes, "We just drive around in circles, getting nowhere all night long. Getting drunk with strangers, telling lies and singing along with the jukebox." And that sort of sums up how I feel about the bar thing.

But there are good events with other groups and now I know more of what suits me, so that's good. I went to a book club and I want to continue with that one for sure.

Anyway, things are good. I feel like work is going along well. I've got a couple of ideas that I'm trying out, with the blessing of my boss, and we'll see how those pan out. My life outside of work is satisfying, too. Still looking for a good stable relationship, but am convinced that it will come when it comes and in the meantime, I'm trying to get on with things.

So, is it human nature to think that once I feel satisfied with how things are  going, something bad is going to happen? I'm listening to "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" and it makes me wonder about getting cancer, and dying young. If it's not that, then I worry about my kid. Occasionally, the inevitable uncertainty over whether my job will get renewed rises up. I think it's a byproduct of the amount of time I spend with my own thoughts, and I always eventually beat back those thoughts (at the very least relegated to the bin of "I'm doing my best here, so that's all I can do"), so I regain an equilibrium. But it's odd to me to think that something bad with happen once I've got my life more or less how I want it. As though the converse is somehow true: that if I'm not happy with some aspect of it, that's enough to keep major bad stuff from happening? I don't really believe that.

Ha! Maybe it's holiday stress. I don't have much, but there are a bunch of details to attend to before Mr W and I fly to Ohio this coming Tuesday.

OK, thanks for letting me vent. Here's a fun holiday video that made me smile.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I appreciate my routines most of the time. Things run more smoothly in the morning, for example, when we do things the same way most of the time. But I try not to be rigid about it. When I get to work, there are people who park in the same spot every day. That kind of adherence makes me wary, and I deliberately don't park in the same spot every day. Yes, sometimes I have to look for my car, but for some reason, that level of doing it the same way every day doesn't appeal.

I've had two thing happen recently, though, that make me see I still like things to run a certain way. There is a major remodeling project at work, where they are putting offices into spaces on our first and second floors. Thus they have closed off the lobby, and restricted stair access that goes near those floors. This has left it so we have to come in through the emergency exit on the first floor, take the stairs to the basement and take the elevator to the 4th floor to where our desks are. To get to my lab, I have to take the elevator instead of the stairs.

It's not a big deal in the larger scheme of things, but the first couple of days last week I was grumbling quite a bit to myself about having to go the long way around to get to where I wanted to go. Yesterday, one of the two elevators broke down, so it took even longer to get things from the stock room in the basement, drop those off at my second floor lab and then take samples up to the fourth floor for sequencing. I sort of wish it was the other way, where I was forced to take the stairs more, not less. The project is supposed to take five months, and then we'll all be in the same building, which will be good.

The other hit to the routine was that we had a substitute teacher for our Spin class yesterday. I know, this sounds so trivial, and it is. This other teacher was one of those that talked almost the whole time: posture, get some water, smile, feel it in your quads, shoulders down, c'mon you're worth it, etc. At one point she said, if I heard her correctly, that it wasn't supposed to be fun, we were working here. I worked plenty hard, but at the same time found myself not liking her very much and thinking that if she were the teacher all the time, I probably would not have stuck with this for the last year. That was an interesting thought. There is a kind of synergy among our regular teacher and other people who do this Spin class that makes it a nice mix of social and physical.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

This and that Saturday

The plan is to get out of the house soon, so that I can do my best to beat the inevitable crowds of holiday shoppers that will be where I'm shopping today. Included on my to-do list today are the following:

1. Buy new banjo strings
2. Do some miscellaneous bracelet stuff
3. Set up Mr W's new netbook that he'll get for Christmas (can I tell you how nice it will be to get my computer back?)
4. Make spaghetti
5. Catch up on laundry
6. Get the rest of the Christmas lights up

That's about it. I need to replace all the jump rings of the first set of bracelets because one of them (that I made myself) gave way on a piece I was wearing. Wouldn't that be awful? Sell bracelets that come apart after a few times of wearing them? Ick.

I've been bidding on some old cufflinks on Ebay and have been outbid at literally the last minute on stuff that would be really nice to have on the bracelets. Maybe that's going to be a future effort, as they're kind of expensive. I need to figure out just how much I'm willing to spend per piece. For example, this morning, these lovely cufflinks  were listed, and I bid up to $8.00 for them. In the last 30 seconds, when my bid was still at $1.29, someone swooped in and outbid me by $.50. No time to up my bid, which I suppose was just as well. Is $2.00 in the ball park of what I want to spend per "charm"? I think so.

I think my Christmas shopping is done. I'll pick up one more gift card, but I can do that at the grocery store. It's exactly what this person will want, so that's an easy one.

I'd better get going. Hope you all have a good Saturday!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More boring bracelet stuff

Well, I haven't sold any bracelets, but I've made several improvements in the second round of them. The top one has all the tweaks. First, I'm coordinating the colors of the clay medallions and placing them closer together. You can see the original clasp that comes with the bracelet blank in the bottom bracelet. It's a fold over clasp and it's fine, but it makes the bracelet a little tight on my wrist, and a friend told me that it can catch on things.

I bought a bunch of different toggle clasps, and, not surprisingly, the ones I like the most are the most expensive ($1.80 per). But they are totally in the spirit of the piece, as both ends have little stopwatch tops, so they look clock-ish. They make the bracelet longer, too, and I think the length is good. I'll put the more expensive toggle on the rest of the ones I make. I can attach them with split rings (like a tiny key ring), which makes them more durable than using jump rings. The bracelet I work while on my work trip last week came apart at one of my homemade jump rings after I had worn it for a couple of days, and I can't have that.

I'm enjoying the details of the process, if that's not abundantly clear. I'm still playing the banjo and enjoying that a lot too, although I confess I've forgotten to practice a couple of times because I've been thinking about the bracelets. And I'm knitting a tiny bit. I hauled my Lanesplitter skirt (about 2/3 done) with me on my trip - what a pain - and only got about three inches done on it. It's officially a slog, but I'll like it when it's finished, hopefully this winter yet :-)

I was puttering about eBay and discovered another source of bits for the bracelets, snap cuff links. Below is a picture from a listing that I'm watching and might bid on. They are PERFECT in size. I need to figure out how to cut them so they have a flat bottom (might need to fill them with something - suggestions?). I asked my ex and got the ancient (circa 1995) Dremel tool we had, but the charger is missing. I went to Home Depot and they don't sell chargers for stuff that old (what was I thinking? I don't know), but the cute and helpful clerk said I could use the Dremel attachments in my regular drill. I'll look into this, and would prefer to do it in a way that doesn't result in me going to the ER. I'll have to buy a vise.

Anyway, aren't those snap links neat? It's got me thinking about the evolution of men's jewelry. There is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of men's cufflinks on eBay. Does anyone wear cuff links anymore? It seems at one time, men would have a collection of cufflinks. And these are economical - 4 charms per set of snap cufflinks.

This was supposed to be a short post and I have rambled. 

I did finally comment on some very nice comments that have been left about the bracelets. I apologize for not acknowledging them sooner, I appreciate the feedback very much.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Here's this year's version of the my Christmas tree. It was part of a busy day yesterday where I got some stuff cooked to freeze and we rearranged Mr W's room. When I bought this house, 6 years ago, I had the back porch bumped out 4' to make a small room for him. It's 8 x 8, and I'm pleased (relieved) that we were able to move stuff around in such a small space.

Six years! Now I will tell you a tale of woe and subsequent adjustment. When I was married, our Christmas tree was covered with homemade ornaments from my ex's aunt. So when it was time to set up my own tree, I started from scratch. So I went to (where else) Target and bought a bucket of those satin string colored balls, and a bunch of plastic snowflakes. Add a couple of things Mr W made at school and there were the ornaments for the tree. It bugged me at the time, and seemed to be some kind of symbol of what I had lost after getting divorced.

But as time has gone on, and I've perused the after-Christmas sales for quirky ornaments, and have received some ornaments as gifts, I'm good. The one I got from the estate sale across the street, with the red dot, fits right in. I've got a few more ornaments than I put on the tree, and there's just a few plastic snowflakes and satin balls on there now. The tree, bought 3-4 years ago at the Goodwill store, goes up in a flash, I've got the right amount of lights, and the process now gives me satisfaction instead of being a reminder of something lost. As it should be.

In a Christmas ornament related train of thought, we'll be celebrating Christmas at my sister's family's house this year. If you're not familiar with the story, my sister died in 2008 at age 45 of stage 4 colon cancer that was simply detected too late. You can look at the label "Sister Kris" if you want to read more about that. She wasn't a nun, just one of several people of that name we were keeping track of.

Anyway, after my mom died, Kris got all our family ornaments. Now that Kris is gone, they're part of her family's traditions. Still, I'm hoping I can talk to my BIL and see if he'd be OK with me taking a couple. There's on in particular that hung on my mom's family's tree when she was growing up. Not much to look at, but so very sentimental. And along those same lines, my dad called me the other day, and said he's moving to Florida. My initial reaction was "'bout time!" since he's talked about it for years. But he's a little nervous about getting everything either packed up or sold off, naturally. He mentioned that he'd be bringing over some of my mom's old little statues and figurines that he kept but is ready to part with. We'll see how that goes.

My initial plan was to have us just use carry-ons. Hmm. Still undecided. Anyway, it looks like there will be some shuffling of family objects. It's all good.

Finally, here's something I thought my nephews (20 and 22) might like? Maybe...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Barely keeping up

I seem to add more and more interesting blogs to my reader. If I don't have time, I mark it to read later and try to get back to it to read it or let it go (a good skill to have, I'm finding). Of course, the new entries just keep coming. So I've decided to dump some links here in the blog to have a record for myself as much as anyone of stuff that I have found interesting and did get back to, or want to get back to.

Study on weight loss and aging (a life well-lived seems to matter)

Person joins a new bartering club

Latest Carl Zimmer post, on viruses

Geeky Christmas gifts

Geeky Christmas gift books for kids

Art from coffee lids and stirrers. I got to this, but it's worth sharing.

Ravens seem to communicate with gestures - a non-birdy thing to do

20 things you may not know about the periodic table

Science books for grownups

TED interview for this talk. A la "Dance your PhD"

Argentine ants. This blog has amazing photography.

Kids' interests are their own

Amazing study on how moss acts as old growth forest in recording environmental events

TED interview with Adam Savage (Mythbuster) on inspiring kids with science

Geeky games (more Christmas stuff)