Point Me

Monday, August 31, 2009

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high.

I'm so so sad that Reading Rainbow got canceled. It really is a shame. In that NPR article I linked to, the programming director of the show's home station points out that the death of the show is partially chalked up to a shifting focus towards teaching reading. Instead of trying to inspire a love of books, the Department of Education wants to concentrate on spelling and phonics. I feel like this is a huge mistake. While teaching kids how to read is crucial, there's nothing better for literacy than reading often and enjoying it.

I feel like there's this huge stigma in children's culture right now about being smart. There's a coolness about not caring about learning, and the importance of not being a nerd is paramount. By making reading nothing more than a grammar lesson, it's not getting any cooler. It's sad to see a show that encouraged reading as a positive activity go.

To celebrate the run of this awesome show, watch this sweet clip where Levar takes you back stage on the set of Star Trek TNG. (which has been an obsession of mine lately. Can't get enough of that Jean-Luc Picard!)

3:57 - Check out "casual worf"

It's really funny how much more masculine Levar Burton's voice is when he's playing Geordi LeForge. Also how much sillier the show seems without sound effects. But you don't have to take my word for it!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Caturday IX

Lily the cat turned one year old a few weeks ago, placing her solidly in the realm of angsty-teen-girl-cat. I made her a sweet hooded kitty sweater as a present to celebrate the occasion

This was the first project I ever did knitting in the round. I got the pattern from here, but admittedly didn't follow it very well. It was a pretty advanced pattern, so I got a little confused and started improvising. Particularly around the hood and sleeves.

It came out a little wonky, but really, it was the purrfect project to start experimenting with knitting in the round. When I messed up, or things were weirdly sized, I could just shrug my shoulders and say "Whatever, it's for a cat. She will hate it no matter what it looks like."

And I was not wrong about this. Just like every other cat I've ever met, when you put a costume on her, Lily goes catatonic. It almost makes me wonder if this is where that word originates.

You could slide her around like this and she wouldn't react. In her sweater, made with love, she is dead to the world.

Paul and I are probably going to get our own little kitty soon, so maybe I'll make one of these in a kitten size. It would be a good experiment to see if cats hate costumes from birth, or if they can be conditioned to enjoy clothing. Plus, wouldn't a little kitten in a teeny little sweater be adorable?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Relaxin' to the Maxin'

The best part of going to Cobbs though, is the lack of noise and distraction. Being there gives you lots of time to relax, and lots of time for reading. I started/finished two books while I was there. Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood and Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut. This was Vonnegut's first novel, and also the first Vonnegut I'd ever read. I enjoyed it very much.

Weirdly, these two books, and the book I read before for that (Dune by Frank Herbert) all had main characters named Paul.

I also got a chance to do a lot of knitting over there. I was working on a beret for myself, out of this really beautiful olive colored yarn. This is one of the first projects I've done though, that I'm really, truly disappointed by. You see, I went out and bought new needles so I could follow the pattern exactly. It was supposed to look like this:

But it ended up looking like this:
So tight and tiny! It's nothing even remotely like a beret. It's a beanie! The hat band is actually so tight that it gives me headaches if I keep it on. Clearly, the girl who made this pattern is some kind of baby-headed freak! I'm pretty sad that I put so much time, and such a gorgeous yarn into such a failure of a hat. Oh well, live and learn, I suppose. Perhaps It's time I started making my own patterns instead of depending on other peoples. And perhaps I'll give this miniature to my little cousin.

Appalachia is Hot (hot hot)

On Wednesday, we decided to take a paddle across the pond to the Appalachian Trail. Our landing point is about a 5 day hike from the starting point of the AT. It's pretty neat hanging out over there. You get to see a lot of hikers, some fresh-faced and just starting out, others heavily bearded and smelly after hiking for 3 months straight. There's also a neat little lean-to there, that has a notebook in it where passing hikers write notes. I always really enjoy reading what people have left as their message to the world.

Paul and I went in Kayaks, and everybody else went in canoes. Mom, Dad and Tom in one, and my grandparents another. I was pretty impressed with my grandparents, they're both in their mid-80's and managed the multiple mile paddle in pretty heavy winds remarkably well.

On the way over, we stopped at Gull Rock, which is slightly farther than half-way across. Tom got out of his boat to climb up.

Once we got to the AT, we hiked a little ways down to this really beautiful waterfall.

We took turns throwing in sticks to see if it would survive he ride, but the water was way too churning and destroyed everything.

We also walked down to this other fishing camp that does a pancake breakfast for hikers. They used to be a full-blown camping operation like cobbs, but they've really scaled back over the last few years. It's a strange little outpost now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Upper Pond

Cobbs is on a series of connected ponds. On Tuesday, we went on a cookout/adventure to the upper-most pond. We spent the day on "Big Island" which is the biggest of the 7 land masses people camp out on up there. We went with two guides, who drove the motor boats and cooked us an amazing lunch of cookout foods and fried potatoes. There were also delicious homemade pickles. My grandma got excited that I was excited about pickles, and happily asserted the traditional assumption. I'm almost positive she's wrong....

After the cookout, we had a few hours to explore the island and read and such. Tom went fishing with the guides and was quite successful. He caught a salmon and a trout. Pretty impressive eh? They were delicious, we ate them for breakfast the next day. He was lauded as the mighty hunter for the rest of the week.

It was another really hot day, so when Tom got back, we decided to go cliff diving. Paul, Tom and I all took the plunge.

It's pretty amazing how long you feel like you're in the air when you do the jump. Guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Hiking we will go.

On the first full day we were there, the whole family went on a hike up Cobb's Knoll, which is the small mountain behind the camp. It's about a 2 and a half mile loop, and has two really pretty overlooks. The first oversees this beaver pond.

2 years ago, when we hiked up here, a dog (Bo) that belonged to one of the guides followed us. He was a big fat black lab, who was really sweet and friendly, but not very bright. He also had some arthritis type joint issues (arf-rightus?), and Bob, his owner, would always ask kids not to bring him swimming, because it was bad for him. Well, Tom was up on this cliff throwing rocks into the swamp, and Bo went to fetch them, as his instinct told him to. He ended up getting stuck in chest-deep, sticky mud, with his collar caught on one of those sun blanched, overturned trees. He was really struggling, poor guy. My dad and uncle went down to try and coax him out. While the rest of us were watching him paddle around disorientedly, looking for the sunken rock and wearing out his arthritic paws, both of my grandparents, at different times, managed to lose their balance and almost go hurtling off the cliff. In the end, nobody plummeted to their doom, and Bo managed to find his way out and shake stinky swamp water on all of us, but it was crazy how many things almost led to death! We all still joke about that hike being cursed.

This year though, fotunately, nothing quite that dramatic happened. Tom even snuck away and took a nap. He was on such a wacky sleep schedule while we were there. He stayed all night, in total darkness (they turn off the electricity at 10 pm), wide awake, then took approximately 6 naps a day, everyday.

After the hike, we went swimming to cool off. It was so refreshing and satisfying. We somehow managed to have the most beautiful weather ever this week, with temps solidly in the 80s and no rain. I went swimming almost everyday. The water was even pretty warm, and I managed to get a pretty good tan going. It was the most summer-y I've felt all summer.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Triumphant Return

Paul and I are back from our week in Maine. It was an awesome, relaxing time. We were at Cobb's Camps on Peirce Pond, which is about 40 minutes away from the nearest town, North New Portland. We went with my parents, brother, and grandparents.

If you drive much more northwise than Cobb's, you're basically in Canada. It's really beautiful up there, the nature is really pristine and untouched, so you get to see a lot of wild life. We didn't get to see any moose this year, sadly, but we did see a gigantic reticulated woodpecker!

Getting to Cobbs is kind of an adventure in itself. After driving through the various declining towns of central Maine, and other towns that are simply territories named with combinations of letters and numbers, you traverse dusty logging roads. These roads used to be unmarked, making finding Cobb's impossible for a novice, but they're really improved the sinage lately. We followed my dad, who kicked up an impossible cloud of dust behind him.

At times, we couldn't even see him in fromt of us at all, just a thick tornado thing. Then, he'd hit some low lying bridge or ditch, and we'd see his tail lights fly up wildly.

After the logging roads, you have to stop and talk to the gate keeper. This guy has a sweet deal. He lives in this cute little cabin in the woods, with a cute little garden and a "moose crossing" sign in the window. He monitors who comes in and out of Peirce Pond, checks fishing liscences, and calls Cobb's to let you know you're coming. He has an enviable life.

After that, you arrive at the shore and wait to get picked up by Fred, in the camp boat. Fred is a certified wilderness guide, and basically the man. He has lots of neat little anecdotes about nature. This year, he told me all about winter tick which is totally terrible and kills majestic mooses! I also learned that if you ice fish, the fish go blind in 30 seconds, being out in the freezing air. He's kind of a cult figure in my family, and we joke about him being able to make anything/everything out of wood

From there, you take a boat over to the main camp. It's a beautiful ride.

I'll be posting more about the trip more over the course of the week. We had a few noteworthy adventures!

Today though, we got back and started working on fixing up the house. Paul's family came over and helped clean up the yard, and rip out the dog and cigarette seaped carpets. It was a revelation tearing them up. The house instantly smelled 100x cleaner as soon as they were gone. Their removal also revealed major evidence of lax housekeeping, stains and tons of unbelievable dirt.

We're thinking of putting down laminate wood to replace it. Also, here's a shot of the "root beer" tinted study, painting in progress.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Life Update

You may or may not have heard yet, but Paul and I closed on our new house in South Hadley a few days ago. It's been an exciting/busy couple of days getting to see our place and figure out what needs doing before moving time.

The place does need a little work. It still has the smell of the previous owners in it, pretty strongly. They were smokers and had 3 dogs, so it's not exactly a sweet bed of roses. But I think tearing up the old icky carpets and repainting will make a huge difference.

We started painting yesterday, and it's been really fun! We choose a really warm dark brown for the office/ study room. The color is called "Root Beer."

It's been fun making decorating decisions and making multiple daily trips to Home Depot. I continue to be totally amazed by the paint mixing machines and their mysterious powers.

In other news, Paul and I are going to be leaving for a week-long trip to Maine tomorrow eve. We're going to Cobb's Camp at Peirce Pond, which is an annual destination of my family. It's a hunting fishing resort for wilderness-type peoples, located right off the northern tip of the Appalachian Trail and the Kennebeck River. I plan to take a bunch of pics, and post a photolog of sorts when we get back. Until then, I hope you don't miss reading my blog too much!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stella the Steggo

This is my most favorite project yet, I think. I made this knit stegosaurus for Addison, my maid of honor and fellow dino enthusiast.

This was a going away present, as Addison is moving to LA for 1 whole year. I'm going to miss her a lot! I hope she has an awesome year though, and that this little guy (or girl I guess? Addie has since informed me that she named her Stella, which I think is perfect. The dusky blue color of the yarn matches the evening sky.) is a reminder of the people who miss her on the other coast.

I made this prehistoric pal from this wonderfully detailed pattern. It has many helpful pictures. Since I used a significantly smaller needle size, I didn't bother doubling up the back plates and sewing them together, as they stood up stiffly pretty well on their own. I also used buttons for eyes instead of embroidering on a face, which I think gives it a classic toy look.

Have fun in LA Addison! Enjoy that California weather for the rest of us!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A New Favorite

The first day Season 2 of Flight of the Conchords came out on DVD I rushed out and bought it after work. Since we are without cable, Paul and I had not seen most of the episodes yet. It's been a real treat watching them, we're about half-way through. The one we watched last night had one of my favorite songs of theirs ever in it. It's been totally stuck in my head all day.

1. So many of their songs this season so far have been raps, which I love, but it's nice to get something so sweet and in line with their folky roots.

2. Bret's dancing is fantastic.

3. Jemaine has some wicked hot ex-girlfriends.

4. I love the small details in the video, like Bret's synthesizer controlling how Jemaine looks.

5. It's certainly not their funniest song ever, but it's one of the best musically.

6. I can't wait to see what the rest of the season holds!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stryped Mittens

Last Saturday, Paul and I drove out to beautiful Melrose MA to celebrate Jenny's birthday. It was an awesome fun good time, with good food and drink, good company, and a hot tub thrown in for good measure. It was also the first time I had seen Jenny since she left to teach English in Budapest. I had missed her face!

For a present, I made her a pair of Stryped August Birthday Mittens. I'm very, very pleased with how these turned out. They were my first ever attempt at making mittens, and my second ever project I did working on double pointed needles in the round.

Knitting in the round is probably the most intimidating seeming skill in knitting. It comes with all these mysterious accessories, like stitch markers and place holders, and generally sounds complicated. I want to assure you all though, if you can knit on two needles, you can start doing 4. I picked up the process from watching this video:

It still looks mighty complicated, I know, with all those needles clamoring around so busily. But I promise that you can do it! The knitting itself is all the same, you're just working on a series of connected panels. Plus, if you work in the round, you don't have to turn your work and purl to do a stockinette, you just knit the whole way around. Also, you don't have to deal with seaming. Easy peasy!

I worked Jenny's mittens from this really great pattern. It's a vintage pattern from a 1953 catalog called "Gloves and Mittens".It's awesome because it provides easy to read instructions for a bunch of different sizes, from child's small to mens. It also has directions for 2 needles or 4. The yarn I used was the same yarn that I used for the hat/bootie set I made for Peem and Amy's baby (btw, Amy had the kid in July. It's a boy! Hooray, my color choice was traditionally gender appropriate!).

I really like working with patterned yarns. It adds some novelty, seeing how the transitioning colors end up lining up on the needle. I think the anticipation encourages me to work faster/longer. I still have a ton of this particular yarn left over. I'm not sure what to do with it. Any suggestions/requests?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Caturday VIII

Kitty Office Space.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Paul has a blog too!

You should all read it, because it is awesome just like him.
Husband's blog is all about THE FUTURE.

Paul's got some pretty awesome ideas about science, technology, culture, and the destiny of mankind. If you want to hear what he thinks too, read The Future According to Paul.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I'm super, super excited about this! An auction house called Profiles in History is holding a gigantic Lost prop auction next spring at the end of season 6. They're going to be selling thousands of items used in the show, including some very iconic stuff. You'll be able to buy Charlie's guitar and Driveshaft ring, Jin's handcuffs from back when he didn't speak English, and even the wreckage of Oceanic 815 (perhaps to build your own beach-side shanty with?). Personally, I want to get the "new recruits" photo, or Sawyers copy of Watership Down.

I bet the auction is going to be super competitive, with all the rabid lost fans out there. Maybe I'd be able to afford something small though, like a box of dharma crackers or something...

Monday, August 3, 2009

From Flipping over letters to dropping a stitch!

Hey all! I haven't posted about my knitting in awhile, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working on stuff. My summer projects have almost entirely been gifts for other people. People who, perhaps, read this blog. So I don't want to post about anything until their presents have been presented.

However I would like to point out the weirdness of my most recent yarn purchase:

Vanna's choice. "The yarn for all your projects. I know you'll love it as much as I do!"

The lady from wheel of fortune is officially a yarn spokeslady.

Did you know that she's been walking back and forth in front of "the puzzle" for 27 years? No wonder she like knitting, she's basically a grandma!

She still looks pretty darn good for 52, and she still knows how to work those sexy evening gowns. Way to go Vanna. Knitting granny by day, gameshow sexpot by night.