Friday, August 29, 2008

Ancillary Factors

Trixie has decided there may be some redeeming benefits to having a dog in the house.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Real, Actual Knitting

Knitted goods continue to be popular at the Farmer's market (with only 3 weeks to go for me, since I'll be away for part of September). I need to finish another freakin' pirate hat (half done) and make a baby version, replace the football buttons on the brown sweater with girly blue ones, and finish this hat set before France and Brent of New Jersey swing back for it on Saturday. The hat is a variation of my standard pattern, using 72 stitches on 4 size 5 needles and an 18-stitch repeat of the feather & fan stitch. The baby mittens feature a small hole on one side so baby can suck her thumb without disrobing. But I also promised them booties or socks, so I need to find a quick, simple pattern that adapts to about 4.5 stitches per inch for about a 6 - 9 months size. If you've got anything like that in your collection, e-mail me. Otherwise, I feel a trip to coming on.

Oh, and look what else I have going on! That's Glimmer from America's Angora and a truly luscious silk whose ballband is stuffed inside the ball right now, to be crafted this weekend into Eloping. I'm counting on the bride being too busy just now to see what I'm up to here!

Not much else to report. As far as I know, the invisible steer is still at large. Rick reports that the weather is wretchedly hot in Florida and he's drinking a gallon of Gatorade a day to try to stay hydrated. The project is not going as well as hoped, but he is bound and determined to be on that plane Friday evening and headed towards home!

Meanwhile, I'm 3/4 of the way through Escape by Carolyn Jessup. (I'm supposed to be reading 3 other books at present to prep for Lay Academy in two weeks - my excuse is that I have Escape on CD, so it's car time rather than reading time.) It's fascinating from a wide perspective, but I'm especially struck by how similar some of the theories and vocabulary related to the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints cult are to the Greater Grace World Outreach cult. The control of communication from the outside world; holding out the husband as the "godhead" or "covering" of the wife, or the guy who God has placed in spiritual authority over her; the need for adherents to the faith to believe rather than think; the disapproval of higher education other than the teachings of the church; and the way the whole group of believers could be instructed to believe that a certain style of dress or form of communication or line of thought was not only contrary to the philosophy of the group, but actually evil. Eerily familiar.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Free Spirit

Last Wednesday, the dog and I were walking down Blueberry Road rather late at night. We had on our reflective gear and I had a little flashlight clipped to my hip, so we felt safely visible; and besides, it was a stunningly beautiful evening. But as we walked, I heard something on hooves walk out of the driveway on our left, cross in front of us, and pass through the ditch into the field on our right. It was about 20 - 25 feet in front of us, and looked like this:

I'm telling you - freakin' invisible. I tried my worthless little flashlight, but by then it was on the other side of the road and no AAA battery was going to penetrate 45' of thick Wisconsin dark. It sounded much too big (and too calm) for a deer. I thought about moose for a second or two, but as far as I know we don't get them this far south. I finally decided it was probably a large pony or small horse.

I walked up the driveway it had come down, beat on the door, and informed the guy who answered that he probably had horses loose. But he caught up to us on his 4-wheeler a few minutes later to report that his horses were all there, but the guy on the corner had lost a black angus steer. They were still zooming around with 4-wheelers and spotlights when the dog & I made our turn and walked back on the way home 15 minutes later.

When we walked by early on Friday evening, there was a posse (no, really) of 6 people on horseback in that field. Three of them came galloping up to us, freaked the dog out completely, and said the steer was definitely in the tongue of woods edging the hayfield. They gave me a number to call if I saw the steer again.

On Monday morning, I was walking early so as to run a few errands before work. This time when I passed the field there were 4 or 5 guys in pick-ups, including one with a rifle. They'd spotted the steer at dawn, cozying up to the cows pastured on the corner, and called the vet to bring over a dart gun. They'd managed to get a dart into him, but then he'd taken off and they were trying to track him. I walked 50 yards or so further down the road, and actually spotted him heading out of the woods and across the hayfield before disappearing into the corn. (I yelled, they ran over, but it was too late.) They told me Monday night that they never did find the steer before he slept it off and went back to his adventure.

So he's still out there. Part of me thinks he's earned the right to be handed off to a petting zoo or something, rather than to someone's freezer. I'd always understood cattle were not that smart - but this guy has outwitted his owners and a group of their friends for almost two weeks now. On the other hand, an invisible steer is wandering around on an unlit and uncontrolled country road where young drivers routinely travel at truly stupid speeds. (It's kind of amazing how fast some of them go. I step off the road completely when I hear them coming, reflective vest or not.) And Tammy points out that when a car hits a steer, the results tend toward the dramatic.

So, here's to the invisible steer. Let's hope he retires to a nice swamp somewhere in the back woods, away from roads and dart guns and high-liability situations.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Don't Tell Her I Told You

A long time ago, Jeff (the 2nd husband of my step-mother twice removed, if you can follow that) taught me something about cars. I don't remember the circumstances beyond the fact that we were passing the old department store in downtown Hartford which is now a community college, and I was driving a stick-shift while he was in the passenger seat - which is actually a highly unusual set of circumstances. Anyway, he said that if the car is moving at all, even rolling gently down an incline, do not shift into first gear. First is for shifting out of, not in to. I have no idea why that stuck with me.

So I think I've mentioned that Tasha has been having frustration as she masters her manual transmission. She generally tries whatever she can to swap cars with someone else, or get a ride, or talk someone into driving for her - anything to avoid having to deal with the clutch. But this week is her call to glory; she has to get some places on her own, and has to use her own car to do it. Apparently she made it to her class meeting okay this morning, because she called to let me know that her engine light is on. (It's been on; Rick thinks its just an electrical short and he'll get to it as soon as possible.) Also, she had a lot of trouble shifting into first a few times, and really had to push it. I suggest that she double clutch - put it into neutral, let out the clutch, put the clutch back in, and then shift to first. She said she'd tried that, but still had trouble getting into first gear. Besides, she didn't think she should be messing around with the clutch too much on the highway. It seems our baby girl was trying to shift into first gear at about 35 mph, coming out of a 55 mph speed zone and slowing down for a roundabout. I explained to her about not ever trying to shift into first when the car was already moving, and that the car had been trying to tell her this when it balked.

I think I should get extra credit for not laughing until I hung up.