Saturday, February 25, 2006

I got a new camera

Terry's digital camera broke a few weeks ago. He started haunting eBay for another one. His requirements: It must be cheap, and it must be better than what he had. Specifically, he wanted exactly the same camera I had - an Olympus C740 that we have had for a few years. And he wanted it for under $100.

After listening to him go on and on about needing another camera, I told him to take the Olympus and I would find something else. Since the majority of my pictures are of Katie and my knitting and occasionally stuff around the office or in the backyard, I figured a downgrade wouldn't kill me.

Last weekend, we were at CompUSA and I found a camera I thought I could live with - a Kodak Z7590. 5.0 megapixels (much better than the Olympus), 10X optical zoom (same as the Olympus), video with sound (better than the Olympus), and pretty intuitive to use.

Here is what passes for an action shot with my favorite model.

Katie never met my dad, but she instinctively knows one of PaPa Roy's favorite ways to spoil kitties - give them a drink of fresh, running water from the sink. She'll lap the water from the bottom of the sink if she has to, but when it is running, she is one happy cat.

Extreme close up!

Look at the action in that tongue.

I have no knitting news to report except that I looked through some of the knitting mags today, and was horrified and amused to see this:

(I apologize for the tiny picture.) It's a knitted cover for a bicycle seat, decorated with small crocheted doilies. I showed it to Terry, and before I could even offer to make one for him, he gave me the Glare O' Death and said, "No way."

In knitting, as with so many other things in life, just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What knitting needles are you?

pink aluminum
You are pink aluminum.
Retro, straightforward and fun, you love classic things. If they're 99 cents at Goodwill all the better! You are moved by striking colors and tasty morsels, and you like a stitch-n-bitch session in the sun. Just remember, while you're being kitschy cool, don't get too cold. Ice cubes are best kept in your cocktails, baby!

What kind of knitting needles are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Commentary: One of the answers was something about knitting on a train as beautiful scenery goes my outside. That sounds like the best vacation ever.

This week in the Press: Another poem by yours truly.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Looking like a sweater

Margie, Amy, and I, dismayed about the number of knitting projects we have underway, have adopted the motto "Off the sticks in 2006" for our knitting this year. Find it, then finish it or frog it.

On the top of my hit parade is the sweater. It is so close to being done. I just broke for the front neck opening, and am working up to the back neck.

You can't really see in this picture, but I am also knitting down the sleeves at the same time. The picture here shows what the finished sweater looks like. The pattern is Ridgeway Lite from Cabin Fever. The pattern is very well written. It explains what is happening along the way, rather than just telling you what to do, which is helpful when the technique is unconventional.

Spokeskitty Katie says, "I like it, too." (But I'm not letting Fourmyle near it.)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Farewell to Don

In a few more days, we won’t be waking up with Don.

Don Forsling has been in radio longer than I have been alive, and has hosted “The Morning Report” as long as I can remember. From 6:00 to 7:00 AM on weekdays, when every other NPR station in the country is giving us yet another hour of news, WOI lets us spend an hour listening to whatever Don likes.

The show opens with a peppy jazz tune called “Have a Nice Day.” (Remember theme songs? But I digress.) There is a brief recap of world news, followed by local news, sports, and weather. (Local weather, in Don’s world, includes the coldest temperature in Minnesota or the strongest wind gust in the country.) The majority of the show alternates between NPR features from a few days ago, and music. The music tends toward jazzy, but it’s no surprise to hear “Sioux City Sue” or “City of New Orleans”, or "Three Little Fishies" for that matter. He’ll read some funny news stories, and some made-up ones, usually side by side and without distinguishing which is which. Occasionally, he will take off on a curmudgeonly rant about careless grammar in reporting, or read jokes and puns sent in by listeners.

If you listen to NPR, you may have heard them talk about “Driveway Moments”, when you become so engrossed in a drive-time story that you sit in the car listening until it is finished. With Don, we have “Bedroom Moments” when the stories and music are flowing so effortlessly, we just can’t drag ourselves out of bed.

Don has had a long career in broadcasting, and an illustrious one, having been involved with the founding of NPR back in the day. Lord knows he has earned his retirement. But, sadly for the listeners, it’s a Clear Channel world these days, and it is cheaper and easier if everyone programs all of the same shows.

Don't get me wrong. WOI is still a terrific station with some wonderful voices we will continue to enjoy (I'm talking to you, Hollis and Karen.) When Terry and I travel, we listen to local public radio, and frequently comment, "They don't have as much personality as WOI."

On a few occasions when Terry and I have talked about the possibility of relocating to another state, the ticking off of pros and cons always includes, “I’d miss Don.” Sad to day, beginning February 27th, there will be one less reason for us to stay.

Happy trails to you, Don. We wish you the best as you pursue your dreams.

And WOI? Could you please keep running The Writer's Almanac at 6:45? That's how I know it's time to get in the shower.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Catching up, quickly

The big awards whoop-de-doo is over. As I predicted, I was not a winner. My picture was in the program, though, so I'm satisfied.

The meds are working. My ear feels better, and I am no longer running a fever. I still have a cough, though. Now Terry has a sore throat. It's always something with us.

The five inches of snow they promised us ended up being about one inch.

I am so glad that NBC managed to nick Dick Button for their figure skating commentary.

Katie just gave me a nuzzle and stared at my shoulder. I think my attention is requested.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Did anyone get the number of that truck?

Saturday's stuffy ear was also Sunday's stuffy ear, plus I developed a cough, but in these days of managed health care, you need a lot more than that to get attention on the weekend. I managed to crank out an article on podcasts for the Piker Press, which was published this week.

Monday, I didn't notice the ear so much, but I could barely hold a thought in my head or focus on anything for more than a nanosecond. Terry picked me up from work at noon, and I slept all afternoon and dozed most of the evening. I was too tired to go to Monday night knitting - that's how bad I was. Tuesday, I stayed home again, and went to the doctor, who told me, Yep, it's infected.

So, while I don't have much to report for the last couple of days, I'm all medicated now, and moderately well rested, and I'm going to try going to work today.

Since Terry was off yesterday, he had gambled on being able to get me a Valentine card while I was at work. Bad gamble. He had to go do some shopping in the afternoon, though, while I took a nap, and came home with a box of chocolates and the new "Breakfast At Tiffany's" DVD. I love that movie. Young George Peppard is Le Stuff Hot.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Powering through Saturday

The first thing I noticed this morning, before I even sat up in bed, was that my ear was really stuffed up. I tried all of my airplane tricks - yawning, chewing gum - to no avail. I finally took a decongestant. That helped some, but the ear has stayed wonky all day.

There were snow flurries this morning, sparse flakes that glittered under the street lights. It kept spitting snow all day, but it didn't amount to anything.

There were a couple of things I had been wanting to do for awhile, so I bundled up and went out to do them. After I had lunch with Terry (who was working), I headed to the Art Center. Rather than having a special featured installation, they brought some pieces out of storage (and unfortunately, stored a couple of my favorites) and rearranged everything. We have some fine works in the Art Center, but none of the crowds you see at the big museums. It's neat to be able to get up close with a Hopper or a Rodin, and linger with it as long as you want.

Then, I headed to the East Village and visited Gong Fu Tea. What a gem that store is. You like tea? They have tea. They don't have a menu - they have a 20-page booklet. My favorite kind of tea is oolong. They have 10 oolongs to choose from. One of them, Oriental Beauty, costs $36 for two ounces. I passed on that one. I did get a cup of lesser oolong to drink there, and a Papaya and Sunflower black tea to bring home. The label tells how much tea to use, what temperature the water should be, and how long to steep it. They are serious about their tea.

Back home, I did some writing and some knitting and some cat snuggling. As soon as this is posted, I'm going to go do some husband snuggling.

We are still having snow flurries, glistening under the street lights.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's an honor just to be nominated

I learned today that I am on the short list for Employee of the Year at my company. I am the only nominee from my department.

I was nominated a few years ago, and arrived at the awards event to learn that they had left my picture out of the program. Geez, was that supposed to be a hint?

While the recognition and cash would be cool, I'll be happy if they just get me in the program this time.

Check back late next week to learn the outcome.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sunday at home

Sunday afternoon at my house. My roommates were both quite content. Terry had a new astronomy book to read. Katie had a warm lap. And after an outage, the cable came back on in time for me to see the Steelers win the Super Bowl. It was a good day.

Have you heard about the Knitting Olympics? The Yarn Harlot challenged knitters to knit a challenging project (challenging as defined by the knitter) during the time the Olympic torch is lit. I'm not signing up - I'm trying to finish stuff I already have started - but 2500 people have registered. I get a kick out of looking at all of the teams that have banded together, complete with blogs, message boards, and team buttons. They have even been getting some press - MSNBC and BBC, for example.

If I were going to participate, I would seriously consider joining under the Team Wales banner. I once dreamed that I had to do some work in Wales, so I think they would let me in. As it is, though, I am just going to keep plugging away on my sweater, and hope I get it done before spring arrives.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Poetry revisited


It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

--from Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens

Last spring, I wrote about an out-of-print book of poetry I wanted to get my hands on (The Art of Love by Kenneth Koch.) I read it when I was in college, and wanted to revisit it. Just before Christmas (very convenient for Santa), The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch was released, and The Art of Love was included. Thank you, Alfred A. Knopf, and Terry.

Aside from being a prolific poet, Koch was also a teacher, and he wrote several wonderful books about teaching children and adults to write and read poetry. One of his techniques for teaching children was to present them with a poem, and have them imitate it, and one of the poems he used was Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.

I've imitated this poem myself, writing several short haiku-like stanzas about a single topic. At some time in the last two years, I must have been thinking about such a poem at work, because today, when I sorted through some old papers at my desk, I ran across a copy of Stevens's poem I had printed out for reference.

My favorite stanza has always been IV: A man and a woman/Are one./A man and a woman and a blackbird/Are one. But today, with winter weather returning after a week of false spring, the last stanza caught my attention. Even though I was in a downtown office building, in my mind, I could see the color of the sky and feel the temperature against my face. I was surprised to learn that I understand how it can be "snowing" and "going to snow" at the same time.

The moral is, don't be afraid to revisit a poem. You may find something you didn't realize was there before.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Silent Poetry Reading

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear times’ waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish’d sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d and sorrows end.

--Sonnet 30, William Shakespeare

You follow enough links around the 'net, you find something you might like to do. Today, that something, for me, is Reya's Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading. In a nutshell, you put a poem in your blog on February 2. Since I am a poetry editor in my spare time, how could I resist joining in?

I discovered this poem on a greeting card when I was in college. (I still have the card somewhere.) Of course, at 21, I didn't have a lot of old woes or grievances forgone, but I just knew that, someday, every line of the poem would resonate with me. Now, I don't claim to wallow in self-pity - quite the opposite - but I do believe that the companionship of good people can make one happier. Shakespeare, fortunately, said it much better than I just did, and it is always my pleasure to share his words with others.