Tuesday, January 31, 2006


i love animals. you know that is a true statement if you know me well. those of you who have been reading my blog and don't know me can probably make the same conclusion.

i have been wanting to get a betta for my desk at work since i started my latest job back in 2004. i thought it would help to have the little guy there for me to watch when i needed a diversion. so i finally gave into my need and bought one at petco this past weekend. now that was hard for me to do since i normally wouldn't promote buying animals at a pet store, especially petco. but i couldn't resist. i saw a bunch of crowntail betta varieties i never saw before.

here's a picture i borrowed from another site of the beautiful fins.

the one i bought is a combination of blue and red. i named him "spike" after my favorite character from buffy the vampire slayer. i thought it was an appropriate name given the personality of the male betta and the appearance of his tail.

once i got home i went into typical obsessive mode. was the mini aquarium i bought the right home for spike? what is the best food for him? on and on my obsessive mind went. then my obsessive fingers took over. i hit the internet and read a bunch of conflicting information.

long story short, i decided to use the mini aquarium i bought since my desk can't fit anything larger. i also bought better food than what came with the 'kit'; spike ate it immediately.

so the title of my post reads "critters". that's plural right?

so you're probably wondering what else i bought. the other animals that we have were free.

F'n Ants

f'n ants!!!

it's been raining so much lately that ants have been infesting our kitchen. we've tried ant traps, caulking cracks where we think they are coming in from the outside, and mass squishing. but we can't seem to stop them.

one night i came home to find a trail so thick and wide on the floor that i thought it was a bunch of dried up dirt. there were actually thousands running down the wall from the cabinets, on the floor and then inside the garbage can. it was soooo groooooossssss.

we have bate traps everywhere. i honestly don't think they are working. i think we're just attracting more!

when i was a kid i had always wanted the ant farms that were advertised in comic books. you know what they say, 'be careful of what you wish for!'

p.e. (post entry) a very weird thing happened. i posted this entry and got a comment from cheryl only to find this morning that some gremlin unpublished my entry and reverted my edits to an earlier version. weird.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

soooo close but yet ...

david and i had such great momentum going on our projects. i had only a couple more seams to go on my sweater. and the ceiling texturing in the 2nd bedroom was moving along quickly.

then murphy reared his ugly head (or law)!

yesterday i received 2 back-to-back calls on my cell phone from david at work while i was in a meeting. i sent the first call to v-mail but picked up the 2nd call knowing that something was up. david sounded really upset. being a typical jew, i immediately assumed the worse. sasha, our 21-year old cat, was having problems with her eye for a couple of days. i honestly thought he was going to tell me that she died.

thankfully the news wasn't that catastrophic (the slight pun was an accident). david worked practically non-stop and finished texturing the remaining third of the ceiling. all the texturing was done. that was the good news. the bad news was that he was a little too ambitious and wound up straining his neck. he thought that he might have to go to the emergency room if the pain didn't subside. luckily the pain did lessen and there was no need to take a trip to the ER.

one mishap doesn't mean that we summoned the nasty murphy, right?

so i got home from work that same day, cooked dinner, ironed my shirt for the next day, and sat down to watch american idol with the intention of finishing my sweater. i had completed seaming up one side earlier in the week and it was looking pretty good. there were a few hiccups along the way that i managed to work through (the underarm hole being the biggest issue). as i was working up the other side and approaching the dreaded underarm, i started to notice that there were too many rows on one side which caused the stripe across the chest not to line up and some fabric to bunch at the underarm crease. the obscenities flew from my mouth as if i were channeling the possessed regan at her worst.

why aren't there tutorial videos on the internet that show the best knitted garment construction? if i can't figure out how to fix the problem i think i'm going to cry.

i'll keep you all posted.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Secret Present #1 Revealed

the secret present #1 was an extra long scarf for jessica's birthday.

Jessica's Scarf

Jessica's Scarf
(i have got to find a different location to take these pictures)

it was the first time that i used #17 needles and 2 different "novelty" yarns (crystal palace mikado ribbon #7308B & karabella mirage kid mohair/polyammide blend). i normally don't care much for garter stitch but it was a good choice to show off the fiber. the fringe was an after thought that really added a nice touch. sometimes simple is good.

it was fun knitting with a different fiber and fat needles. david said that i could use the needles to kill a vampire (buffy would be so proud)!

a lot of people on the BART stopped to ask me what i was knitting. one man (i assumed a banker-type) said, "i hope your friend will appreciate the hard work you put into the scarf." he meant that as a compliment. there was not a bitter tone in his comment. another woman said, "that is so beautiful! i'd love a scarf like that!" it's been great knitting on BART; i feel like a spokesman for men who knit.

well jessica did love it and really appreciated the handmade present. it makes knitting all the more fun!

Friday, January 20, 2006

i'm still alive (long entry)

once again i apologize for the long span of time between entries. it's not for lack of stuff to write about. i just haven't been very motivated to do much more than watch the tube* once i get home from work. and the weekends have been full with different activities, none of which included blogging.

here are a few things that have gone on over the last couple of weeks.

knitting projects
adult sweater
i finished the sleeves last week, blocked all the pieces and knitted in the neckband. all that's left to do is to sew the seams. my blocking board and all the blocking accessories (steamer, blocking wires and t-pins) worked beautifully. i felt like i was back in high school pinning down an earth worm in preparation for dissection**

Orange Sweater w/Steamer on Blocking Board

all the books, knitting shows and internet knitting tips are absolutely right - blocking is an important and necessary step to finishing most knitting projects. the curled edges and slightly uneven stitches magically went away.

Orange Sweater - Sleeve before blocking
sleeve before blocking

Orange Sweater Sleeve After Blocking
sleeve after blocking (don't be scared. i'm not making big billowy sleeves. the sleeve actually gets folded in half.)

there were a few points when i was knitting that i swore the pattern was wrong, especially after i measured the pieces as i was pinning them to the blocking board. but i'm pretty sure that it's going to fit after all.

Orange Sweater, Almost Finished
sneak peek at the almost completed sweater

secret present #1
all i can write is that it's done since i haven't given it to the recipient yet. david and friends have said that this person will love it. i will post a follow-up entry with a picture once the gift has been given.

another baby hat
i love knitting baby hats. they look cute and make great presents.

Theo's Hat

this one was for theo, the baby that cathy and jim adopted 8 weeks ago. we finally met him last weekend. beth, cathy, jim and theo got together over at seneca and lisa's house for an afternoon of great homemade pizza, snacks and wine. it had been some time since we all were together and it was so nice to see theo in person. he is really adorable.

bathroom renovation
we completed a bathroom renovation more than a year ago. like most construction projects, the actual costs far exceeded our initial budget. we had to take on some of the finishing work on our own in order to keep the budget from going completely out of control. we hit the ground running and completed all the finishing touches on the bathroom.

another fact about renovations ... there is a domino affect. we had to take a foot of space from the 2nd bedroom in order to install a separate stall shower in the bath. since the 2nd bedroom was a quarter renovated, david and i decided to tear down the old and very damaged plaster walls and ceiling and install insulation and put up new drywall. knocking down plaster walls is not fun. and we lost steam after the insulation was up. we took our contractors advice and hired day workers to put up the drywall. david and i had good intentions but i'm sure we would have needed a divorce if we tried to install drywall ourselves.

the drywall went up pretty quickly and didn't cost an arm and a leg. the next step was to faux plaster finish the walls so that they would look like the original plaster walls in the rest of the house. so we thought why not see if they could do that as well. that was not a great idea. i stopped him before they went far. their technique looked like crap.

well long story short and more than a year later david and i finally got around to the texturing. the walls are all done and david is about half way through finishing the ceiling (i can't do the ceiling because of neck issues). so we'll probably be ready to paint in a week or so after we do a little more prep work.
dog with cabin fever
it has been raining a lot. when you have a white dog and most dog parks are like small ponds of mud it's quite hard to find a place clean enough that won't turn her black. so we have done our best to keep her occupied. imagine the pent up energy a young cattle dog/terrier mix would have after weeks of chasing a ball up and down the small living room/dining room area.

that's right, not a pretty picture.

we didn't want to relive what happened last rainy season. we made a mistake and took trixie to the alameda dog park after it had been raining for a few weeks. she wound up with a bad case of giardia after running through and drinking muddy stagnant water.

and then there was sun!
thank goodness there were a couple of weekends with a break in the weather. 2 weeks ago david, lisel, i and the dog took a nice long walk up to a spot in north berkeley called "indian rock". don't ask me how it got it's name. it's a huge bolder in the middle of a very nice and affluent neighborhood that from the top has some spectacular views of the bay.

trixie had a blast.

here she is ... and i seriously think she's laughing with joy!
Trixie Laughing #1, Indian Rock, Berkeley, CA

we all had a great time
Me, David & Trixie, Indian Rock, Berkeley, CA

lisel even got a kiss
Trixie & Lisel @ Indian Rock, Berkeley, CA


we did our best to keep trixie as busy as we could as the rain continued to plummet us. we played with her and took her on as many long walks as we could when the rain let up.

but i it wasn't enough. early this week trixie decided to let us know how upset she was. she dug herself a little nest in our bed (of which she's not allowed on) and peed.

i guess she told us.

you can't be mad too long though. all it takes is one look like...

Trixie Relaxing

she is cute as hell, right!!!???

* i wonder how long it will take before younger generations won't understand the term "tube". what will the nickname for a plasma or lcd TV be? can you imagine someone saying, "hey all i did all weekend was sit in front of the pixels!"?

** back in high school we had to dissect animals in biology. i had no problem with dissecting a worm. but made myself physically sick the night before we had to dissect a frog. thankfully my mother didn't make me go in the next few days because she knew how upset i would be to pin down a frog on the dissecting board.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Monogamous Knitting

it has been a while since i've written about knitting. it's not like i've not been knitting. on the contrary...i've been knitting away on my orange sweater. i finally finished the sleeves. i figured i'd spare ya'll out there in blogland, lurkers and commentators alike, pictures since ya'll already know about my struggles and mostly because pictures of sleeves aren't that exciting (btw, i'm not from the south. i'm originally from new jersey but i love typing ya'll).

i received all my blocking aids: blocking board, t-pins, and blocking wires. i even went as far as buying a hand steamer based on reading crazy aunt purl's review and demo on how well it worked on her scarf. i didn't however buy the scunci since i found a similar steamer for half the price (gotta save money for the next knitting projects). now all that's left to do is to weave in all the ends, block, assemble and knit the collar! hopefully i'll be done by the end of january. this is my first sweater done flat so it might take a few attempts before i get the hang of the different finishing techniques.

so in the 2+ months that i've been knitting this sweater i pretty much knitted nothing else. you see i'm a monogamous knitter. i wish that i could take credit for the term. i was watching my favorite knitting show, knitty gritty, on DIY Network when i heard the guest designer claim that she was a monogamous knitter. i was like, "wow! that's what i am!!!" well at least practically. i only cheated twice and for good reasons. i needed to knit a few quick baby presents.

now being a monogamous knitter doesn't mean that i don't plan my next, well, 100 projects ahead of time. i wouldn't be me if i didn't.

on my knitting list (the list gets rearranged as needed):
  1. secret present #1 (superseded #2 on the list just this weekend)
  2. new scarf for david (i still haven't decided on the pattern yet. i know i want to try something with cables)
  3. secret present #2
  4. sweater for trixie (still beating to death the search for the perfect pattern)
  5. socks for me (this time with a yarn that won't itch)
  6. bathroom rug
  7. men's vest (for me or david)
  8. secret present #3
  9. unknown felting project
  10. finish checkerboard throw (this project was started more than a year ago. my mother convinced me to knit a throw using synthetic yarn because it would be easier to wash. i went to michael's craft store and bought red heart brand acrylic yarn. i began to hate the way the finished squares felt and abandoned the project. i guess you can say that we broke up. maybe some day we'll make amends and i'll finish it up)
alright, so there aren't a 100 projects on the list. but i'm sure that the list will continue to grow as i read more books, magazines, see what people are wearing and watch knitty gritty.

i will begin project #1 since all the knitting is pretty much done on my sweater. i would suffer the DTs if i didn't have some project on needles. plus i have to get project #1 done in the next week.

as they say on knitty gritty, "knit on!"

Monday, January 02, 2006

Goodbye 2005

now that 2005 had come to an end many of us, like myself, reflect on the year that past. it was a pretty stable year all things considered. i think i'll take foo's advice and write a list of good things that happened in 2005 (well maybe not 25, but i'll do my best).

but before i do that i want to pay tribute to the 3 pets we lost in 2005. our pets are our children and the loss still affects us. even though they were with us for only a relatively short time, they left an indelible mark on our hearts.


Christmas Cassie 2004
May 2004 - January 2005

cassie was a sweet, goofy and energetic puppy. we adopted her through smiley dog rescue about a few months after our dog sandy passed away at 15. anyone that met cassie was immediately enamored with her funny personality. cassie was a whippet / shepherd mix that loved to run. she was unfortunately diagnosed with bone cancer in october 2005. she was only 11-months old when she passed. we miss her more than words can say.

Yoshi & Quico
Yoshi & Quico
1998 - 2005

yoshi and quico were pacific parrotlets. parrotlets are smaller than love birds and originate from central america. yoshi and quico joined our family just 1 year after we settled in san francisco. they were brothers (clutch-mates is the proper name) that had completely different personalities. yoshi was shy and demure and quico was feisty. they passed after a freak accident. our house isn't the same without their whistles and chirps.

now for the just about 25 good things of 2005 (in no particular order)
  1. my job is still good
  2. i was promoted to a sr. producer
  3. after 2 years of being mistreated and unappreciated at a horrible previous job i finally felt like i could make a difference at work.
  4. we adopted our dog trixie
  5. i knitted (or is it knit) my first sweater, albeit baby sweater
  6. i started "stitch 'n eat" a knitting group at work
  7. i discovered blogging thanks to "k" and started this blog
  8. david and i celebrated our 15-year anniversary
  9. we had a great vacation in san diego
  10. lots of friends had babies - i love kids!!! cathy & jim adopted theo, paula and roger had matthew, susie and adam had hank, and terri and mat had rainer
  11. my brother is still in remission
  12. our senior cats remain in relatively good health for being 20+ and 17+
  13. i turned 44 (i figured if i list this as a good thing i would feel that almost hitting my mid-40s wouldn't be a bad thing)
  14. david turned 40 (he finally joined me)
  15. the cats and dog finally showed signs of beginning to tolerate each other
  16. my hair got grayer but at least my hairline didn't diminish (at least not too much)
  17. i put on a few pounds (this is a good thing. gaining weight for me is the same struggle as loosing weight is for others)
  18. some really good movies were released like King Kong, Serenity, House of Flying Daggers, Sideways, Sin City, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Batman Begins, Finding Neverland, and david wanted me to write Star Wars, Episode 3 (david wanted me to add the star wars movie, i thought it was entertaining at least)
  19. gay acceptance got stronger, at least in the media and urban areas
  20. Brokeback Mountain!!! heath ledger and jake gyllenhaal, screen play, direction all excellent!!!
  21. logo tv, the first, free gay cable network was launched
  22. martha stewart was released from jail
happy, healthy and prosperous new year to all!