Friday, March 31, 2006

Knitting is in my blood, well almost...

Yesterday my new friend and carpool buddy Claudia, who is from Germany, pointed out that the German word for knitting is "stricken." Today I looked up "knitter" in an English-German Dictionary and in German it is "stricker." Apparently it seems that I was fated to be a knitter since my last name, Strickler, is only one letter off and I am of German descent so it is entirely possible that my forefathers (and mothers!) were knitters. Fun little trivia for me. Now if my mother's maiden name turns out to mean "one who talks too much" then I know I was meant to be who I am...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

If it's not mad cow, it's the bird flu...

Woo boy is it raining today! I left the house this morning with an umbrella, got halfway to the train station and the wind blew it inside out and broke 3 of the metal bars so it refused to stay up. I then got on the train, got on my first bus and was waiting at the corner for my second bus (that's right a train and 2 buses to go like 8 miles because it's like that here in LA) when it started to pour. And this bus stop, oh yeah, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO PLACE TO TAKE COVER. So that 5.5 minutes I spent blowdrying my hair this morning were a total waste. I was soaked when I got to work. I finally dried off about 3:30. Of course Magellan doesn't really care what the weather is like outside so long as it's warm and toasty behind the computer monitor.

Tristan was reading an article a few days ago about the bird flu and how it's coming for us. As we talked it over, we decided that maybe we better stop eating poultry, just to be on the safe side since we are so close to Asia and everything. Then we remembered that book Fast Food Nation that we both read which talked about how the meat industry grinds up chicken beaks and feeds them to cows. So we thought, hmm, we better stop eating red meat too, just to be on the safe side. But we will continue to eat fish and seafood because, um, what are the chances that a sick bird dies over the ocean, falls in the water and gets eaten by a tuna? Ok, so that could totally happen. But really, I can't subsist on pasta and cheese alone--wait, could there be bird flu in the cheese??? NO! I will not sacrifice the cheese. Because, to paraphrase Bush, if I give up cheese then the bird flu has won. So we will try to be vegetarians--after we finish all the meat that's in the freezer. We're a little concerned about the cats though. I'm not sure that they will adjust well to tofu....

In knitting news:
I finished off 2 pairs of newborn baby socks for Afghans for Afghans. I was working on the striped ones on the bus last week when a man offered me his seat saying "oh, jeez miss, take my seat." I was delighted and slightly shocked, thinking, there IS a civilized man left alive! Then I looked down at my knitting and realized that he probably thought I was pregnant because I was knitting a baby bootie. I decided then and there never to wear that particular pair of pants again because obviously they reinforced this guy's notion...

In other knitting news, Darcy and I are progressing on our knit along. Well, Darcy is anyway. I've finished the back and have about 4 inches of the front done but Miss Darcy is just about finished!

I'm technically on Spring Break this week but I have too many papers and projects to be working on to really take time off. I declared last Friday and Sunday Spring Break for me. Except I got sick Friday night and couldn't go bowling with our friend Daniel. I felt terrible, since it was his birthday celebration and all but I thought I was going to keel over, and not just from the thought of wearing those funny looking stinky shoes. Luckily I recovered by Sunday and was able to go to Al Gelato's with Tristan, Darcy, Michele and Mark. I had some yummy gnocchi and then some pear sorbet with a "taster" (i.e. a 1/2 scoop) of cabernet sorbet on top. Heaven! The pear was delicious. I know, it was a healthier choice when compared to the gelato flavors containing cream and I apologize for that but I had eaten gnocchi for dinner which are delicious little pasta rocks that land in your stomach and don't leave much room for rich desserts. Darcy came back to our swanky (read: somewhat less messy than last week) new pad for some knitting and Sopranos watching. But alas, the weekend is over. Back to schoolwork and regular work. I'm gonna go change into pjs now, grab my knitting and cozy up on the couch to catch up on Ti-vo'd "Knitty Gritty" episodes before I read another chapter of my Information Retrieval textbook (works better than a nightcap). Stay warm and avoid the rain--just remember it only does this like 10 days a year here!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ashes, Snow, Sand & Silliness

Tomorrow is Darcy's Birthday so today Michele, Mark, Tristan and I took Darcy to Santa Monica for a birthday celebration. Our original plan was to see the Ashes and Snow exhibit at the pier and then have dinner at Ye Olde Kings Head on 2nd Street. But we were all "famished" (just for you, Darcy) so we opted to have our fish and chips and THEN get a little culture (well, I had the mushroom and chicken pie which came with a pastry thing on top that looked like a conch shell, no lie). Darcy got her picture taken and a weird fruit/custard thingy with a candle in it. They give you your picture in a little "frame" with a history of the restaurant on it--very cute. Next time we go it will be my birthday (or somebody's because they didn't check Darcy's ID and we all decided we want pictures too!) We walked down to the pier and Mark thought he saw Aaron Spelling--but none of the rest of us did (guess we just missed him....). Luckily, Michele, Tristan and I had student IDs so we got in for $10 instead of $15. The photos are amazing and the film is good too, but just a warning, it is an HOUR long. So if you go, muscle your way to the handful of seats up front, and maybe drink some coffee before hand because the music is so soothing it just about puts you to sleep.

Afterwards we took a walk on the beach and snapped some pictures, because it was sunny and we all have blogs to fill with stuff.

Michele, Darcy (birthday girl!) and Me

Mark, Michele, Me and Tristan

Tristan and Me
Michele and Mark looking so cute!

The Guys bonded over discussions of computers, electronics and Bill Maher.
In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, Mark entertained us with an authentic Irish Jig, performed in the cold, cold, water of the Pacific... No pictures of all 5 of us though, we had trouble finding someone who was close by who didn't look like they'd run off with our cameras...Ok, now back to schoolwork. Gotta get all my stuff finished so next Sunday we can go to Al Gelattos!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Flowers, chocolate and scary nature...

I've been quite the busy little bee the last few weeks and my husband got this bee flowers last week! Tristan's not really the romantic type, which is fine with me because I'd rather he clean the bathroom (which he also did) than feed me strawberries by candlelight. But last week I was just so tired that I kept falling asleep while doing my reading for school and then hubby went out to have dinner with a friend and came home with the pretty bouquet above, just because. Brightened my day considerably. And, because he knows me so well, he also brought me these:

Nutty Bars are one of my weaknesses. Tristan has really been helping out quite a bit since I started working--doing the dishes, cooking dinner, going to the grocery store, cleaning the cat box and even dropping my library books off for me. Sometimes I really hate being an over-achiever. I thought of course I can work 3 days a week and take 3 graduate classes and move and finish those Christmas gifts I just haven't quite gotten around to (those ones from 2005 that haunt me from their tote bags each time I pass by them...) and a million other projects I have in my "to do list." Afterall, in college I managed to complete two bachelor's in 4 years, be president of our women's caucus, vice president of the Circle K volunteer service fraternity and participate in weekly service projects, write for the student newspaper, maintain active memberships in three honor societies and two major-specific clubs and have a social life. How? I don't know. I look back and think perhaps I had one of those crazy time thingys that Hermione (had to look that up on Amazon because I had no idea how to spell it) used in the newest Harry Potter movie, so she could go back and forth in time and appear to be in two places at once. Or maybe it's because I'm not 18 or even 21 anymore. Does old age start at 27? Whatever the reason, I just can't handle as much activity as I could when I was young. It doesn't help that I decided to move and start a new job all in the same week, about two weeks before my midterms. So if you see me soon and my eyes look a little glazed--believe me, I want to pay attention to you but about 1/3 of my brain might be sleeping--it's taking shifts.

In knitting news---well, there isn't any. I made one washcloth for the yahoo group Loves Many Cloths and one pair of newborn socks for Afghans for Afghans, which is having a drive to collect 100 hats and 100 socks/booties for newborns by the end of April, if you've got any soft wool to spare. Other than that, I haven't had time. I manged to work on those two things on my lunch break at work and while I waited for journal articles to finish printing. Oy vey! One of these days I will be all caught up and even ahead on my school work and my house will be all unpacked and clean and my taxes will be done and the Siamese will give up her most recent hobby of peeing on things...and Magellan will finally be able to get that grasshopper who's taken up residence in the flowerbox outside our living room window.... yeah right.

Which is scarier--this grasshopper or Laurie's square watermelons?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Cat People v. Dog People

So have you ever looked at someone and thought "he's a dog person..." or "oh she's definately a cat person.." ? Since I now often take public transportation and I have a job that puts me in frequent contact with all sorts of people, I've felt the psychology major in me seeping to the surface of my conciousness. Yes, I admit it, I've been theorizing. You see, I'm a bit of a chatty cathy and I often end up deep in conversation with complete strangers who feel compelled to tell me about their kids, their jobs and even their pets. Most times though, I don't need them to even tell me what kind of pet they have or prefer because I CAN JUST TELL.

Just a warning, what I'm about to say may be offensive to dog people. I'm sorry, it's just the way things go---not everyone was thrilled with Freud's penis-envy stuff so really, you can't please everyone. To better understand my theory, I ask you to picture in your mind someone you know who owns a cat (or cats because cats seem to be like potato chips, you can't have just one) and a separate someone who has a dog--leaving out for the time being those persons who own both types of animals. Still thinking, ok, I'll give you a minute, I want to break into that Take 5 bar I have in my purse anyway...Ready, ok moving on.

Ok, now think about the stereotypical characteristics of dogs. Dogs need lots of attention, you have to walk them and take them outside to do their business (not to mention pick it up and carry it around til you find a trash can) and you can't leave them home alone when you go on vacation. Also, dogs are continually amazed and overwhelmed that you actually come home to them each and every day--there's barking and tail-wagging and a plethora of sloppy wet kisses (and if they had aposable thumbs I'm sure there would be "welcome home" banners). Dogs also constantly want to play fetch or play with toys, usually involving their humans in the game. Dogs must also be registered yearly and get shots yearly and .....well, you get the picture.

Alright, shift gears just a bit and consider the attributes of cats. Generally, cats decide when and if to show you affection. They don't need your assistance to go to the bathroom--although you do have to clean their commodes eventually. You can go on vacation for a few days if you leave out enough food and water and not have to worry about them. When you come home, the cats might even be asleep and really they don't care all that much that you have returned, so long as you feed them. Cats generally entertain themselves by pushing fake mice or the plastic things from milk carton lids, no human required. And you don't have to take cats for shots very often nor do you have to register them with the city.

Ok, you're thinking yeah, yeah so that's what dogs are like and that's what cats are like but how does this relate to those people I've got hanging in my mental picture frame? My theory is that some people who prefer dogs are seeking to fill a void in their childhood. Perhaps they didn't get enough attention or affection or maybe they were never really given responsibility and were allowed to do whatever they wanted as a child. They may need to feel needed and appreciated and a dog is more than happy to provide those experiences.

Cat people, on the other hand, seem to me to be more well adjusted. They don't need effusive displays of affection when they return home each day. They are happy when their cats snuggle with them and ok when the cats decide to sleep on the other end of the house, under the bed, for hours. Cats and their humans can be together without doing something together. Ok, I am tremendously biased and this is not so scientific a theory and I have no real means available to test it but it's just a wisp of a notion I've been pondering recently...

And for those people who have both--they might be even better off because they don't need constant affirmation of their cat's love but they do have the patience and attention to give to their dog. Of course, this theory is based on sterotypes. All cats and dogs may not behave the same. For instance, Magellan is usually waiting for me by the front door when I come home at night and he likes to play fetch with me.

Just something to mull over. I wish I'd thought of this 6 years ago when I dated a very clingy guy--guess I should have just bought him a dog instead of moving out of state to put some distance between us...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

No, I didn't move to Swaziland, I've just been busy...

It feels like I made this lapghan about a million years ago but turns out it was just last month. In case you all didn't hear, we moved on February 17th from West Hollywood to Hollywood. There are still boxes everywhere because that week I also started a new job. Oh, and I'm taking three Master's classes and so is Tristan and...we can't afford to hire someone to unpack for us so lots of stuff is still trapped in cardboard. I'm slowly making dents here and there over the weekends but it might be April until I get some pictures up here. (Hey Michele, if the gnomes are finished with your place, could you send them over here?)

In the mean time, I thought I'd post pictures of the afghan I finished a few weeks ago but didn't get up on the blog because we had no internet--story for another post! Anyway, I did this crocheted afghan in Rainbow colors of Sugar n' Cream yarn that I bought from createforless for cheap! I sent if off to a friend of mine in North Carolina as a birthday present--only about a month after her birthday, surprise! I did the traditional granny square, starting the squares with different colors, doing 6 rounds per square using an H hook. It took about 3 balls of most colors but 4 for the purple.

I laid them out like this: (the color is the first starting round in the inside of the square)
R=red, O=orange, Y=yellow, G=green, B=blue and P=Purple







I tried several different ways to join them but nothing seemed quite right. I wanted to have some black showing around the squares to sort of frame them. So I made up my own way. It's fully reversible and I honestly can't decide which side I like better. The photo on the left is the "right side" and the photo on the right is the "wrong side." Squares will be joined first into rows and then the rows will be crocheted together, followed by a border.

1st: Hold two squares wrong sides together and line up the corners.

2nd: Slip needle under corner space of square closest to you and do one single crochet.

3rd: place hook under corner space of other square, making sure that wrong side is facing you and do one single crochet.

4th: turn work slightly so that you can comfortably slip hook under the corner space of the first square and do another single crochet.

5th: turn work slightly again to whatever angle works for you and do one more single crochet into the corner space of the 2nd square.

6th: slip hook under the first stitch after the corner space on the 1st square and do one
single crochet.

7th: turn work slightly and make one single crochet under the first stitch after the corner space on the 2nd square

8th: keep alternating back and forth from one square to another, making sure that at the end of the squares you do 2 single crochets into the other corner spaces but keep them alternating so you don't end up with holes. You will be making one stitch into each chained arch too, not just into each double crochet stitch from the previous round

Joining the rows:

1st: do the same thing that you did to join the squares, line up the rows with wrong sides together.

2nd: Alternate from one side to the other doing single crochet, making sur
e that you do two stitches in the corner spaces at the beginning.

3rd: when you get to the point where you joined the squares together, make sure that you are doing 2 alternating stitches into each corner square so that you actually have 4 single crochet stitches over the black yarn that joined those particular squares before you start doing stitches on the colored yarn. Again, make sure you keep alte
rnating to avoid holes.

To finish, I used the "Shallow Scallop Edging" from the Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches (p.311) just to give it a little more pizzazz (sp?) except that I just picked up the edge and did a row of single crochet to start as my foun
dation instead of working the edging as a separate piece and then attaching it as it is pictured in the book.

Today, March 7th is Magellan's birthday. He is one today. I can't believe my baby is all grown up. He got extra treats as a birthday present but I told him he'd have to wait at least another year for that pony. At least now we are living somewhere with flower boxes so he can watch ladybugs to his heart's content... from the top of the vacuum cleaner box that mommy still hasn't opened--guess you know I haven't done any vacuuming recently....