Thursday, December 27, 2007

Didja miss me?
Didja notice I was missing?

I've been neglecting my blog lately. The combination of computer crash, holidays and unreasonable work requests has pushed my blogging to zero. Therefore, next month I am planning to try an experiment. A blog post every day.

That's right. EVERY FREAK'NG DAY.

My rules are lenient.
  1. Posts must contain some content.
  2. Photos count as a post.
  3. Vague statements such as "nothing happened today" are off limits.

Monday, December 03, 2007


An eerie silence settles over Lincoln Street.

Remember all those jokes about appliances that burst into flames the day after their warranty expires? Ha ha! So funny!

Not funny.

Two weeks after our warranty expired, our PC - “Mothership”- graced us with the Blue Screen of Death. Due to either a hardware problem or a software problem, Mothership forgot how to access the XP registry keys, rendering her unable to start up.

After a day or two of Brewguy's attempts to resuscitate Mothership, I called El Jefe* in a fit of desperation and asked him to rate this particular BSOD on a scale of Bad, Very Bad, or Fatal.

He rated it Bad. Ok, not fatal! That’s fixable, right?

Turns out “fixable” is relative. Dell offered to wipe the hard drives and reinstall the operating system if we removed the hard drives from the computer and mailed them in. They carefully made no mention of the actual data residing on the drive. That, it seemed, was toast. Or if not toast, not their problem.

Losing all the data on the drive? Not the most attractive prospect. I was fairly calm about the issue, at least by Brewgal standards. I back up my files regularly and store most of them on the external drive. I was concerned about the potential loss of some iTunes songs, my knitting patterns, and some family history data I’d added since June. However Brewguy, being a photographer, faced the prospect of losing six months worth of work. At 300 photos per week, that’s a lot of photos. Let’s just say he was...motivated.

This incident has made me realize that Little Brewer #2’s sense of time is different than my own.

Can I play X on the computer?
The computer’s broken, sweetie.

-two hours later-

Can I play X on the computer?
The computer’s broken, remember?
Oh yeah. Is it fixed yet?

We had this conversation EVERY DAY for two weeks.

Finally, with the aid of Bart PE and the very fine IT guy at Brewguy’s place of employment, we were able to move all the data from the hard drive to the external Maxtor, after which XP was reloaded. It was a tortuous experience- every file had to be moved individually. The hard drive was so confused it refused to boot properly into DOS, and the conditional DOS did not have group file moving privileges.

Back up, back up, back up,
You’d better back up your files!
Back up, back up, back up,
When it crashes there’ll be no smiles.

*El Jefe is, through no fault of his own, my own personal IT guy. Being my brother he puts up with my constant computer badgering. Yay, El Jefe!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

If I were queen...

In which Brewgal reveals her cranky side...

Little Brewer #2's stint as a vegetarian was short-lived. Call it more of a vegetarian flirt. She lasted almost a week. I believe the final straw might have been my Adzuki beans and rice with sweet onions and garlic. Brewguy and I loved it. LB#2 took a bite, made a face and said, "Can I eat meat again?"

My latest task is to make sure she gets enough calcium. We discovered she has not been buying milk at lunch because she says she doesn't like it. The fact that the school only gives them 20 minutes for lunch and the lunch line takes 10 minutes might be another factor.

Warning: rant ahead.

We, as a nation, as SO VERY CONCERNED about childhood obesity, bad eating habits, lack of engagement with nature. Has it ever occurred to anyone that giving children 20 minutes to wolf down their food and then 20 minutes outside for recess might be contributing to this?? 20 minutes? SLOW DOWN. Worried that more lunch/recess time will cut into precious learning minutes? Extend the school day by an hour. That would give flexibility to either have a longer middle-day recess or a second recess at the end of the day so kids can work off some of that cooped-up energy.

And while we're at it, why aren't traffic lights and street lights solar powered? They're outside all day, right? IN THE DAYLIGHT? Has anyone ever thought to install a solar powered backup so that when there is a power outage (like last week during rush hour), the lights would still work and the morons who do not know that intersections without lights are FOUR WAY STOPS would not attempt to drive their cars through mine on their way to ... to wherever they are going?

Rant mode off.

Back to the calcium issue.

I am doing what any good research scientist mother would do. I am experimenting with my daughter. I hypothesized that if I sent milk with her lunch, she would be more likely to drink it. Turn out it is not just the time involved, it is the taste. She does not care for the taste of milk. I sympathize- neither do I. Next hypothesis: change the taste. So far we have been through plain milk, chocolate milk and Very Vanilla soymilk. Next week it will be strawberry milk, vanilla milk and plain soymilk.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Strikke news

Remember back when I joined the Samurai's Strikke-along and I said I was going to do a variation on Veronik Avery's Sugarplum pullover?

Yeah, not gonna happen.

I spent some time reading through the instructions and for the life of me, I cannot figure out how to construct that sweater. So I'm going to change and try a simpler yoke sweater.

Here's the tricky part. I've never attempted a) knitting in the round or b) yokes. So I may be calling for help from my fellow Strikkers.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Veggie Tales

The big excitement at Chez Casa de Brewgal is that on Thursday last, Little Brewer #1 announced she was a vegetarian.

This may have something to do with LB#1 learning that we kill the animals we eat, not just after they die of natural causes. Or it could be because her BFF has also decided to become a vegetarian and being a vegetarian is so much more fun when your BFF is doing it too.

My reaction to this was, great! I'll dig out my old copy of The Enchanted Broccoli forest and we can explore 1,001 nights of beans and tofu.

I'm not bashing vegetarianism. In college Brewgal took her meals in a co-op in which meat was only served 2x week. I probably could have made the switch to full veggie had it not been for the monthly sermons on the evils of meat eating. Sermons just piss me off. In this case they made me think about all the reasons I chose to eat meat, why I like it so much and as a result, made me want to eat meat. Way to go, veggie-boy. Nothing like a little reverse psychology to start your meal. Rawr.

Anyway, we're into Day 3 of LB#1's vegetarianism and I am beginning to get the sense that her brand of vegetarianism consists of cheese, crackers, corn pops and candy. Candytarianism. If you're going to be a vegetarian you have to actually *eat* the veggies, honey.

Next up: Adzuki beans and rice with garlic and leeks.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Moderne Baby Blanket 1: Finis!

Brewgal presents the Moderne Baby Blanket from Mason-Dixon Knitting. In crochet.

Brewgal sees the stray ends and notices that it needs to be blocked. Maybe later.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Gotta love the medical library - Test your disease knowledge

I'm wavering between hope and fear that this knowledge will be useful in a practical way someday.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bug off

Little Brewer #1 has had a run-in with Pediculus humanus, aka head lice. We had received a notice from the school last week warning parents that lice had been found on a few children so I feared this would be coming.

Hair washing, bedding washing, nit-picking. It all seems medieval. My scalp itches just thinking about it. I think I would be more awed by the evolutionary marvel of human head lice if I weren't so icked out by them glued to my daughter's hair.

On top of it all, I managed to slam the loaded laundry basket into my ribs when I caught the corner on a doorframe. So now I'm grossed out and in pain.

I am enjoying Ravelry immensely. I love the database capability, although I hope they will expand their library soon so I can enter my vintage knitting books. I have also discovered I have a load of size F crochet hooks. Who knew? Is 7 too many?

I've also tentatively picked a pattern for the Strikke-along. I'd like to make Veronik Avery's Sugarplum Pullover from Handknit Holidays, using one of the stranded patterns from Norsk Strikkedesign for the yoke.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

And the seas parted

I cannot wash up

No breakfast for you, my dear

Ravelry calls me

I'm in! I got my Ravelry invite this morning. I've been watching the counter slowly approach, from a high in the 10,000's, to 132 yesterday. I cannot wait to jump in.

I'm Brewgal. Look for me!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Moving Forward, Going Back

On a whim I decided to take the little brewers to Gettysburg for the weekend. This is the first time I've stayed overnight in Gettysburg since we lived there. It was an odd, wonderful, disorienting experience. As we drove around I began to understand that life does not stand still, even in a small town. Thank goodness for that. Change and growth is good for the town but begets a whole bunch of "you can't go home again" wailing from traditionalists with a Wolfe fetish.

The little brewers had an absolutely wonderful time. This was Little Brewer #2's first experience in a hotel. Actual transcript:

#2- "Wow, look! Two beds! Do we get to sleep on one?"

Brewgal- "Yes, you two get one bed and I get the other one."

#2- "Look over here! A TV! We can watch TV, just like at home!"

#1- "And the bed is so comfy!"

#2- "Mom! There's even a bathroom! Can I use the bathroom?"

Note the exclamation points. LB#2 likes to speak at FULL VOLUME.

Same and different:

  • The now-defunct Gettysburg Brewing Company storefront is still vacant.
  • The karate school has new digs.
  • There are at least two new coffee houses.
  • The yarn store appears to be gone.
  • There is now an Adams County Winery store.
  • Kennie's Market has a huge new store.
  • The Appalachian Brewing Company has a brewery up on Seminary Ridge (beer review coming soon). And they have good pizza!

We spent most of Saturday climbing rocks on the battlefield. We took a picnic lunch out to Spangler's Spring. The best climbing rocks are in Devil's Den, but they are a bit much for little kids. Spangler's Spring has a nice flat spot for sitting and some low-level rocks perfect for the LB's. Added bonus: port-a-potties, a must when traveling with small bladders.

I made good progress on the log cabin blanket.

posted by Brewgal @ 11:15AM

Monday, September 10, 2007

I lasted 12 hours

My father used to travel around the world chasing eclipses. Brewgal is sure she and her brother were just as annoying as the little brewers, perhaps even more so because Brewgal is renowned throughout the family for being a big pain in the ass and more than a little spoiled as a youngster. How did my mother not strangle us? I would very much like to know because Brewguy is back in Oregon on his now-frequent trip out to visit the MIL, leaving me alone with the little brewers. He has not been gone more than 24 hours and the yelling has already started.

That would be me yelling.

The list of offenses is as follows:
  • Little Brewer #2 flogging his sister with a belt (a soft one).
  • Little Brewer #1 not letting her brother change the TV channel.
  • Constant streams of "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!" Jeez, let me ANSWER, willya?
  • Having to eat dinner. Apparently serving dinner during play time with neighbors is just unacceptable. I may "forget" to make dinner tonight.
  • Bedtime. I would like to make it through one freakin' day without a bedtime tantrum.
However, it is not all bad. The 'Skins won, the Little Brewers mopped the kitchen floor, and to stave off anxiety over choosing a Strikke-along pattern I've started a Log Cabin blanket.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Woe is me

Note the normal toenail on the left.

And the injured toenail on the right.

I had an encounter with Megan, a curly-haired, beaming, mack truck of a little girl who apparently wears steel-toed sneakers. My toenail gave its life in the service of a hug. A noble end.

I should count myself lucky. I still HAVE a nail. It's just broken off down into the nailbed, making it painful and oozy.

Thank goodness I cancelled that pedicure.

In Strikke-along news, I have decided I'm going to try stranded color. I've mastered the technique in crochet, so I should be able to figure it out in knit. Right? Am I taunting the Knitting Goddess by saying this?


Monday, September 03, 2007

RenFest 2007

We took the little brewers to the Maryland Renaissance Festival yesterday. They had a rocking good time. Little Brewer #2 was particularly taken with the sword swallower. He would yell "wow!" and "whoa!" at every trick. How nice to have an appreciative audience. The little guy was so worn out from the experience that he fell asleep in the car on the way home and did not wake up until 6am this morning.

The last time I attended this particular RenFest they had just moved to their new location in Crownsville- at least 20 years ago (that's the 80's for the math-challenged out there). It was much smaller in scope and decidedly more...gritty. The performers would pass the hat around after the show, there was less food, more swearing, and a mud-wrestling pit.

What a change. The site now has more than a dozen permanent buildings, including a horse show ring for jousting (the Maryland state sport), multiple stages, and shops. No more harassing the patrons for cash. Food that includes more than Steak-on-a-stake. It is more kid-friendly but less authentic. Not that it ever was truly authentic, but you know.

I heard one fellow describe it as the "romantic renaissance." Brewguy described it as a renaissance-themed-mall.

Three things I was disappointed not to see:

  • A bakery. Bread was one of the food staples of the time. I personally would have loved to eat a variant of the ploughman's lunch with a half-loaf of good bread, some cheese and a brew.
  • A brewery. This went hand in hand with the bakery. Wild yeast in the air was used to make the bread rise. The bread starter would then have been used in brewing. In fact, beer was often the drink of choice as water was unsafe. The boiling would kill the pathogens and the yeast would crowd out the bacteria. I'm not suggesting that recipes from the middle-ages be followed exactly. The Reinheitsgebot purity law, specifying that beer was to include only hops, malted barley and water (yeast was not discovered until much later) was not enacted until 1516 so middle-ages brew from the British Isles would probably be very sour and include such diverse ingredients as juniper berries. Nevertheless, I think a good RenBrew would be well-received.
  • A fiber artist/spinner. With the exception of one weaver, there were no fiber artists. I expected to see at least one person offering homespun or spinning fiber themselves. I think a shop offering handspun yarn, raw fiber and drop spindles would be great!


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Strikke out!

I've decided to join the Strikke Along (see description on Samurai's blog here). Unlike the Steek-along, I'm eligible for this knit-o-rama because:

  • Brewguy is 1/4 Swedish, making me Scandinavian by association.
  • I own Norsk Strikkedesign.
  • I have some Dale of Norway in my stash.

I am quite nervous about this. I've never joined a knit-along before, primarily because the time I have to knit is never predictable. I may go a week or two without working on a piece due to child/work/whatever issues, so I fear joining and falling behind.

Imagine me sitting on the porch 20 years hence with my grandchildren, working on this project.

My other fear is I will not be able to keep up technically. I love the designs in Norsk Strikkedesign but they are WAY out of my league. (ha! Get it? League? Strikke out? I slay myself.)

I may choose one of the stitch patterns from NS and work it into a hat or scarf. That might make to project more manageable.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

RIP Michael Jackson

No, not *that* Michael Jackson.

The other one. The beer-huntin' guru of brew.

Obit from
LONDON, England (AP) -- Michael Jackson, a leading world beer critic who praised the brews of Belgium and acknowledged he would never be as famous as "that Michael Jackson," has died. He was 65.

Jackson, known as "the beer hunter," died Thursday of a heart attack at his home in west London. His body was found by his house cleaner, Paddy Gunningham, his long-term partner, said Friday.

She said he had kept writing and traveling, despite suffering from Parkinson's disease, and that he planned to write a book about the ailment.

"He was simply the best beer writer we've ever known," said Tim Hampson, chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers.

"He told wonderful stories about beer, breweries and far away places. He told the story of beer through people, and he was humorous and erudite at the same time," Hampson told The Associated Press.

Jackson especially loved Belgian brews. His books "The Great Beers of Belgium" and "World Guide to Beer" introduced them to many export markets, including the United States.

By identifying beers by their flavors and styles, and by pairing them with particular foods and dishes, Jackson helped give birth to a renaissance of interest in beer and breweries worldwide that began in the 1970s, including the North American microbrewery movement.

Craft beer lovers everywhere shall mourn.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pain threshold

Note to self: in future, wear pants whilst working on laptop.

Laptop vent fan = 1, knee = 0. The marks look faintly Dalek-ian, don't you think?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Blog days of summer

I love August on the East Coast. Love love love it. I especially love the end of August, when the heat is intense and the humidity is so great you imagine you can actually see air.

A screened-in porch is absolutely essential in August to protect you from the mosquitos and yellow jackets. This allows you to sit outside without being molested, listening to the cicadas sing and sing and sing and darn it, sing some more because I don't think those cicadas in CANADA heard you.

When Ken Burns made his documentary of the Civil War, it was his use of the cicada sound loop that made me realize he *got* it. Summer has a sound and it is the cicada.

When the heat/humidity is 98/90, sitting is the best possible activity. And maybe because you've had two children your stomach is not as fine and toned as it once was, and pooches out a little when you sit down. That makes a little roll of fat that tends to get kinda sweaty, which leaches through your shirt leaving a little wet line of sweat. And if you look at it from far away and squint you can imagine it might resemble six pack abs but you know it really doesn't?

That's August.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Winners and losers

The results from the fair are in.

I entered eight items this year (I know- crazy!): three hats, two scarves, a small afghan, a sweater, and a belt. The sweater nearly killed me. I was sewing seams two hours before the entry deadline.

I am proud to say that not only did I successfully attempt CABLES and BLOCKING, but the sweater actually fits me. Except for some weird arm shaping. I think I can fix that post-fair.

First, the losers.

Item 1: Knit scarf, in a 2x3 broken rib-type pattern. Prize: honorable mention.

Sorry about the poor detail photo. There's nothing particularly wrong with this scarf, although I admit it's not my best effort.

Item 2: Crochet baby afghan, half-double crochet surrounded by single crochet and a curly border. Prize: fourth place.

The crochet afghan category is highly competitive. I thought the curly edge would catch the judge's attention. It's perfect for little hands to grab on to. Alas, the judges did not agree.

Item 3: Crochet adult hat with celtic border in tapestry crochet. Prize: third place.

Wha? Third? This was the hat I made for my father last Christmas and in my opinion, the most challenging piece for me. This design was incredibly difficult to execute. Third??

Next, the winners.

Item 4: Crochet scarf, overall curly. Prize: second.

(I love how they display the entries under Saran Wrap.)

I was into the curlicues last year. I actually wore this scarf in my passport photo. I look like I'm being strangled by a sea slug.

Item 5: Crochet infant hat. Prize: second.

More curlicues! Brewgal's standard baby hat design.

Item 6: Knit sweater, plain knit with cable arm design. Prize: second.
A step up from last year's shruggigan. Cables attempted! Ha!

Item 7: Crochet belt. Prize: second.
I made this for Little Brewer #2 last year. I entered this on a whim just because there was a category for it. I couldn't tell if there was any competition in this category. Little Brewer #2 was very anxious when I entered this. He was afraid he would not get it back. Not that he ever wears the darn thing.

And finally, Item 8: Child's crochet hat with flower. Prize: first.

I made this the week before the fair. Little Brewer #1 chose the color scheme. I felt it was a winner. Faux hatband with two-tone crochet flower? How could the judges not love it?

In conclusion, I have no idea what the judges like. They typically do not provide comments, so I cannot tell what I did wrong or right. I'm plotting next year's entries. I may attempt a log cabin blanket from Mason-Dixon knitting.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Hot enough for ya?

I love my car. It has all sorts of cool bourgeois functions like heated seats (fabulous!), heated side mirrors (a triumph!), windshield washer fluid that also cleans my headlamps (those tricky Swedes!), and a radio I can control from the steering wheel (luxury!). It also has a thermometer built into the dash. If the temp drops below freezing, the readout is supplemented by a cute little snowflake (danger! snow!).

On days such as today, there should be a small cactus next to the readout. Or perhaps a melting glacier?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Postsecret video

The Postsecret video is up at youtube:

Click here

Friday, August 03, 2007

We're thinking of you MN

I was planning to write something about the Minneapolis bridge today but I couldn't. I mean, really, what can you say? I'm sorry? That makes it sound like I'm apologizing for an event over which I had no control.

My deepest condolences to the people of Minneapolis and Minnesotans everywhere.

I like Minneapolis. It will forever be etched in my memory as "the city that vacuums its sidewalks." Seriously! When visiting Minneapolis many years ago on the way to Duluth, I happened to be up very early. Looking out of my hotel window I could see a fellow carefully pushing an industrial vacuum down the sidewalk. "Wow," I thought to my 12 year old self, "they must really want the city to be clean."

Granted this was many, many years ago, but that's how I've thought of Minneapolis ever since. The city that really wanted to be clean.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Frog and Duck

Sounds like a pub. Brewgal's area could use a pub or two. She misses the Gettysburg Brewing Company something awful. She and Brewguy used to spend almost every Friday and Saturday at the GBC drinking Dave's beer and hanging out with the crew. The love of good beer would bring together both townie and college folk. Darts would be played, mug numbers* would be compared, chit-chat would flow, growlers were filled and carried home.

There was a pool table in the back and no TV. Children were welcome. Lite beer was not.

We met college professors, battlefield guides, construction workers, teachers, tourists, and local craftspeople.

Tourists had a hard time with the place. It was run English pub style, which meant there was no table service and the only beer served was Dave's own. You had to go back to the counter to get your food (lovingly prepared by Gail). And did I mention there was no TV or lite beer?

Eventually Dave got tired of both running the counter and brewing the beer. He sold off the brewing equipment, allowing us to drink the remainder of the beer. We had one last mug club party/wake.

The saddest day was when they carted off the tables and chairs.

Now I live in a county that controls alcohol distribution (there are only two counties in the whole darn country that do this). Number of pubs in my local area = 1, and I don't really want to hang out there. It is mostly a restaurant. The beer isn't brewed there. The wait to be seated on any given day can be as long as 45 minutes.
I'd rather sit on my back porch and drink homebrew, thankyouverymuch.

Back to the Frog and Duck.

We all went to the pool last weekend. Soon after we arrived a boy, attended by a rather large gaggle of other boys, walked past cradling something precious in his hands. His mother was calling after him, "don't put it back in the pool!" Turns out he had caught the cutest little frog. As he turned to reply, his hands opened and the frog escaped. There was much screaming and chasing as the boys attempted to recapture the amphibian. It was finally cornered next to the benches. I believe they put it through a gap in the fence so it could find its way down to the nearby creek.

That was wildlife #1.

About an hour later, I noticed a commotion in the main part of the pool. Little Brewer #2 doesn't swim yet so we keep to the 2-3 foot area. People had formed a moving circle in the pool, a circle that was coming our way.

The circle opened. And a duck swam out.

A female mallard. She calmly swam around the pool, speeding up if anyone tried to get too close to her. If kids started splashing her, she just swam away a little faster.

What was a duck doing in the pool? The chlorine couldn't have been too tasty. There are no plants or other edibles (hopefully) in the pool. Had she been raised by humans? Was she lonely? The thought of this duck having lost her family and being forced to seek out company was heartbreaking.

A few minutes later the lifeguard's whistle blew signalling adult swim. All the kids got out of the pool, leaving only a few adults. The duck swam around for a minute more, then took off, flying away over the fence.

I guess she wasn't yet 16.

* The pub had a mug club. Each person was assigned a number on their mug based on the order in which he or she had signed up for the club. The lower the number, the more "status" you had because that meant you had been around since the beginning. Brewguy and I were numbers 11 and 12, respectively. If you're a former GBC mug clubber reading this, I salute you.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

By midnight I will no longer have the adventures of Harry Potter, the 2007 Tour de France or the weekend to look forward to.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Designs that fail, part 2

Remember the evil eye hat? I remade it with trees. I feel the hat has suffered in the process. I look at the hat and my overall impression is "meh." If you squint, the design resembles evergreens as seen on a winter's day through a snowstorm. If you squint really hard you'll see sparkles. This means you are squinting too hard and should stop now.

I've worked this design before, much more successfully. For some reason it just doesn't thrill me here. I do like the two-tone curlicue at the top- I'll use that again. I was hoping to enter this in the Montgomery County Fair but I probably won't. Unfortunately, this means I'll have to crochet a replacement, in addition to finishing the pullover I'm working on.

The fair countdown begins!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Not dead yet

The goldfish Rainbow is doing poorly. Rainbow is our last surviving pet. Kiah the cat passed on this winter, a victim of polycystic kidney disease. We got a lovely note from the vet staff on his passing. I am continually amazed at the kindness of vets.

Rainbow and her (his?) sister (brother?) Rosie (I'm not a goldfish sexer) were county fair goldfish. You know, the ones you win by tossing a ping-pong ball into a glass? I hate those games. Those poor fish sitting around all day in the hot sun, cooped up in tiny plastic bags. Ninety percent of the fish taken home don't make it through the next day.

Rosie and Rainbow both beat the odds. We upgraded them to a spacious 10 gallon fishy condo with neon pink gravel, plants, a heater, a oxygenating fountain, and a light. The tank is tastefully bare. I really wanted to get one of those fake treasure chests that blows bubbles when it opens. I was overruled. Brewguy changed the water and the Little Brewers fed them. So much and no more, never more than a spot. By all accounts, Rosie and Rainbow loved their new home. They chewed the plants to oblivion, chased each other around the tank, and gazed at us through the glass as we gazed at them.

Rosie died a few months ago. Quite suddenly. S/he was found floating upside down in the morning and was buried in the garden next to the hosta. Then, a couple of weeks ago, Rainbow started swimming sideways. "Uh oh," I thought to myself. "This can't be good." Rainbow was spending more and more time at the top of the tank, on her* side, as though she was stuck to the surface. Uneaten food began to drift around the bottom (I've never known a goldfish to leave food lying around so I took this as a bad sign). When we would walk past she would flip away as if startled, but eventually she would float back to the top.

We all came to grips with the seemingly unassailable fact that Rainbow was about to pass on, said our goodbyes, and left for the beach, fully intending to find an ex-fish when we returned. That was a week ago. Rainbow is still with us. She is spending less time on her side, although there is still quite a bit of side-hanging going on.

Here is the dilemma: what do we do? Will Rainbow recover or is this just the long road to the end? Is the fish suffering in its current state? (Not to sound heartless, but I am not going to take a county fair goldfish to the vet. That money goes to the college fund. I'm already hyperventilating over the projected cost.)

So we are playing the waiting game. The water is changed, the fish is fed, and we gaze at each other through the glass. And every morning we say to each other, "I'm not dead yet."

*Little Brewer #1 insists Rainbow is a girl, so I'm going with it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Island girl

We took the little brewers on their first camping adventure last weekend to one of my favorite spots in the world, Assateague Island. Sun! Sand! Tents!

Wild ponies!

Bugs! Fiberglass sharks!

In the past, it was easy to get a campsite. Brewguy and I would pack ourselves up and head out across the Bay Bridge Friday night, arriving at the island around 3am. Once there we'd sleep in the car until daybreak, hanging on the beach until the campsite lottery at 11am.

Now you can reserve campsites online in advance. We went online in February for July dates. There were no campsites available for more than two nights in a row. This was in February. Fortunately, once we arrived, we found single night spots. Unfortunately, that meant we had to move the campsite every night. Let me tell you, unpacking and packing gets really old fast.

Brewguy's great idea was to simply pick up the tents and walk them to the next campsite. I was somewhat more skeptical, mostly because carrying a large, fully constructed tent across the campground was way too close to the
Beverly Hillbillies for my taste. In addition, like most great ideas, this one had a fatal flaw: wind. A fully contructed tent acts as a sail.


We gave up on the tent moving and setting for moving the screen house. Campers are a laid-back lot. Upon observing us hauling the screen house, one remarked "moving day?" Gotta love these folks. I did attempt to knit but after constant interruptions for "Mommy, look over there!" and "Mommy, I'm hungry," and "Ew, horse poop!" I surrendered and started reading 1776 instead.

Things learned at the beach:
  • Brewgal needs to reapply her SPF-50 during the day or she will burn in uncomfortable places.

  • Food cooked on the campstove tastes much better than at home.

  • Live mole crabs are cute but dead, disembowled ones are not.

  • Mosquitos piss me off. I mean, really. What is the purpose of mosquitos?

  • Our tent is indeed waterproof, thank goodness.

  • Seagulls (those flying rat bastards) can do an amazing impression of a small child yelling "HEY!"

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Metro Vest

It seems like it has been forever since I've finished anything. Besides crocheted hats for small babies, that is. Althought I certainly do not begrudge the newborn their haberdashery, I felt it was time to make myself a little something. Et voila! An honest-to-goodness finished item. I saw a blue version of this vest about two months ago on a woman riding the Metro. She was across the platform from me at Metro Station. I thought to myself, "Self, I WANT that!" So I designed my own.

It's a low-cut front, racer back vest. It doesn't seem like much on the hanger, but I think it looks great on.

Here's a shot of the back. Sorry about the bathroom clutter.

I didn't measure. I tried out a few stitch patterns until I found one I liked. The 2x2 rib is cute and has a lot of stretch to it. I used one of my old tank tops as a guide for the racer back. I just laid the piece down on the tank and guessed at the shaping. Brewgal is rather slight in the bust (36") and long in the torso, so take these instructions for what they are.

Here is the pattern I worked out.

Yarn: 3 1/2 skeins Plymouth Encore Colorspun DK (wool/acrylic blend)

Needles: size 6 straights

Crochet hook: approximately size F (Wouldn't you know it, I chose the one hook in the house that isn't size labeled. It claims to be non-inflammable, which means it could burst into flames at any moment.)

Finished measurements:

Shoulder to waist = 24 inches

Armhole to waist = 15 inches

Bottom of neckline to waist = 14 inches

Width = 8 3/4 inches (I relied on the stretchy nature of the 2x2 rib)


Cast on 70

First row: knit

Second and succeeding rows: 2 x 2 rib (knit 2, purl 2 to end)

Work in 2x2 rib until armholes

Armhole shaping (back)

Bind off 2 sts at beginning of every other row for 4 rows (this is the outside edge of the piece)

Bind off 1 st at beginning of every other row for 8 rows

Work in pattern for 26 rows

Neck shaping (back)

Work 20 sts in pattern

Bind off 14

Place remaining sts on holder

Work 1 row

Bind off 2 sts at beginning of 1 row (inside edge)

Work 1 row

Bind off 1 st at beginning of every other row for 4 rows.

You should have 14 sts remaining on needle. Work in pattern for 2 more rows, bind off all sts.

Join new yarn to stitches on holder. Repeat shaping for other side.


Cast on 70.

First row: knit

Second and succeeding rows: 2 x 2 rib (knit 2, purl 2 to end)
Work in 2x2 rib until you want to start neck shaping.

You'll be shaping the neck and armholes at the same time.

Neck and armhole shaping (front)

Work 26 sts in pattern

Bind off 18

Place remaining sts on holder.

Work 1 row in pattern

Bind off 2 sts at beginning of 2 rows (this is the inside edge of the neck)

Work in pattern until armhole

Bind off 2 sts at beginning of every other row for 2 rows (this is the outside edge of the armhole)

Bind off 1 st at beginning of every other row for 4 rows. You should have 14 sts on needle.

Work straight until piece is same length as back. For me, this was 40 rows. Bind off all sts.

Join new yarn to stitches on holder. Repeat shaping for other side.

Joining back to front:

You'll be putting these together just like you would if you were sewing; right sides facing each other, sewing on the wrong side. I usually start piecing together at the points hardest to fix if I've made a mistake- the top of the shoulder. I can always go back and fix a crooked hem, but sloppy shoulders make me crazy.

Hold right sides together. Start join at shoulders. Placing the two sides together, take a crochet hook and single crochet through the stitches on both sides.

Next join: armholes, down sides.

Once pieces are joined, turn vest right side out and single crochet around the neckline and armholes. This gives a more finished look.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Playing tic-tac-toe yesterday:

Little Brewer #1: Yay!
Brewguy: She smoked me!
Little Brewer #1: I want to play Mommy next. She's the challenging one.

Friday, July 06, 2007

How We Spent July 4

I received this text message on my phone:

Sent on: 07/04/2007 16:35:23

I have now learned that my wireless connection works in the basement.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It's the Fourth of July. Indpendence Day for the United States. The Brewers and I will be taking it easy. I will find time to do a little knitting. We may do a little tidy-ing up in preparation for tomorrow's visit by Brewgal's relatives. Grilling of dead animals may be involved. We may travel to observe airborne explosives. It is during these times of peace that my thoughts turn to...

Zombies. The walking dead. In folklore, the zombie might be a dead person reanimated by a sorcerer. In that case the zombie would be under the control of the reanimator, having no will of its own. Alternatively, the zombie could be someone who appears dead but whose consciousness has fled or been otherwise destroyed.

Modern zomibes want to eat you. Who sat around thinking, "Gosh, it would be SUPER scary if the dead came back to life and wanted to eat your brain!"


Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

My strengths: would look for a hideout and fortify the entrances, would run away from loved ones if they turn into zombies.

My weaknesses: have never fired a gun, would go looking for family/loved ones, can't run very far.

The flaw in the zombie apocolypse theory (there's always a flaw, isn't there?) is the same flaw that stalks the vampire theory. Eventually, all the humans would be destroyed and only zombies would remain. Then what? Do the zombies continue to wander around the earth in packs? Do they gather in giant zombie mosh pits singing unhhhhhh and flinging stray limbs?

Happy 4th everyone!

Thanks to Rabbitch for the zombie survival link.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Someone left the gate open

Because of this...

I found this wandering around my yard on Friday afternoon.

The mower's right there, buddy. Think you could do the back yard?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fortunate Thursday

Ok, I have no idea what this little bit of Irish wisdom is supposed to mean. Listen to the river and you'll get a trout? What am I listening for, trout chatter? Perhaps all the tying of flies and endless casting into the river are useless. I need only listen for loudmouthed fish.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Last Sunday was brew day at Chez Brewgal. Mr. Brewguy brewed a Hefeweizen in preparation for next month's BBQ. This was his Father's Day present. Brewgal loves how easy it is to make Brewguy happy.
1/4 ounce hops to be added later.

First wirt hopping

It's the sparge! Note how Mr. Brewguy is dressed to blend into the mash tun.

Alien landing craft? No, the boil! As an added plus, the aluminum foil keeps the beer safe from unauthorized interstellar transmissions. I kid.

Brewguy's biggest worry is that the basement is now too warm to get the wirt down to yeast-pitching temp in a reasonable amount of time. There was mention of "ice bath" and "clear out the refridgerator." That's just crazy talk.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Designs sometimes fail.

Witness the example below. I had very high hopes for this one. It started with a nice charted design.

Unfortunately, the execution left a lot to be desired.

Not what I had hoped for. This looks more like evil eyes.

The design was inspried by an ancient middle-eastern tapestry fragment in the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon. The original is much more curvy and intricate (see my badly photographed example below).

As an aside, the Gulbenkian is a very cool museum. In addition to their regular holdings, which include a fabulous collection of Lalique jewelry, the museum had a special exhibit on Cartier. Two jewelry exhibits at once. That smear on the glass display case? My drool.

Can you imagine showing up to a party with this attached to your midriff? Dragon Lady indeed.

This is the advantage of hanging out with The Professors. I never would have thought to go to the Gulbenkian on my own. I tend to avoid museums when I'm on vacation. I like to hang out in street cafes, drinking local brew and people watching. However, going to Lisbon with La C is a different affair. Not only did she introduce me to this little gem, we got in for free! La C and her lovely husband have this innate air of culture and intellectualism that permeates the atmosphere, forcing my inner yee-haw to keep up.