Saturday, January 26, 2008

First visitor of the day

So, you can tell I've had a pretty dull week when I talk about our new bird friends, but I gotta tell you, they are really fun to watch. Our new house has tons of huge windows, one of the many reasons we fell in love with it. One of the biggest double windows is in our living room looking out onto our back deck.

Mark got 2 bird feeders and essentially set up a birdy food court out there for Dru, our cat, to watch, but we stare out the windows for hours too...did I mention life here was kinda slow? I've always known birds were kind of piggy, but it's not until you see how much food they eat in a day and how much they drop below that you realize that they make pigs look good in comparison. Granted we get a ton a visitors, but Mark has had to refill the feeders almost everyday. This morning we got up and we're sitting on the couch trying to wake up and think about all we need to get done today. We look outside and notice that despite the icicles on the feeders from yesterday's storm, they were once again mostly empty and there was a mess of food on the deck...literally piles.

Mark jokingly grumbled: "Geez they're messy. No more food until they clean up after themselves. We can't have the only feeder around here. Let 'em go make a mess elsewhere." He can grumble all he wants but when we got our first visitor this morning, Mr. Cardinal,

all three of us (Dru, Mark and I) were mesmerized for a while. After he left, a slew of smaller birds showed up for breakfast and sure enough they started to clean off the deck. They may be piggy when they eat (after all it can't be easy eating without hands), but they do eventually clean up what they drop.

We'll inevitably keep the food court open and the birds will kindly let us watch them and be entertained. Maybe we'll even learn a thing or 2...

As for knitting news...I finally finished Mark's socks which took forever because the yarn, albeit nice is really fine. It's all good, because he likes them and will wear them which is all that I ask.

Now back to the Chevron socks for Sandy. I love this pattern so much, I am definitely going to make a pair for myself, but I should have these finished this week. 1 down, 1 to go.

PS After writing this, I got my first delivery from the Rockin' Sock Club (Blue Moon Fiber Arts) and after doing some work on the house, my day turned into a sock knitting frenzy. Serious yarn therapy! More about this soon.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Got what we came for!

Mark and I had planned to spend the whole weekend in Biloxi, MS. We got tickets to see Kathy Griffin months ago and since we were driving 4 hours, we figured we might as well stay the weekend and check out Biloxi.
Kathy G. appeared at the Beau Rivage, the fanciest shmanciest casino. You can tell you are at a fancy shmancy casino, because of the pretty fountain. You can tell you are in Mississsippi because there is a Waffle House across the street with it's ever present yellow sign.

We were a little worried about leaving after 1:00pm on Friday since the show started at 7:00 and we would need to find a place to park, pick up our tix and get dinner before the show. That just goes to show how little we know about casinos...Parking - FREE and plentiful...Box Office - easy to find...Dinner - tons of restaurants and buffets right there in the casino. Casinos really don't want you to leave once you get there so they make it easy for you to stay. The food wasn't free, but once we paid for the buffet (which was the biggest I had ever seen) the drinks were. Coulda been dangerous if I hadn't had someplace to be.
This is the buffet. You know you're in Mississippi when the fancy shmancy casino has a chandelier made of a big mess of copper pots.

A close-up of the pot chandelier which just kept making me giggle.

The show was freakin' hilarious. You have to know some celebrity trash news to really appreciate her humor, but not too much. It also helped that we're addicted to her show, 'My Life on the D-List'. I know I have plenty of friends who are anti-TV, but watch one episode of that show and you will love it. She's great.

After the show, we went to stay at our cheaper hotel, cuz we ain't foolish enough to pay to stay at the fancy shmancy casino hotel. It was cold and very rainy the next morning so walking around and checking out the coast was out. Rather than look for things to do and blow another night on the hotel, we decided to head back on Saturday, but still stop in Jackson as planned....Buh-Bye Biloxi...maybe next time. We'll probably be back there at some point for another show.

In Jackson we went to the Rainbow Whole Foods Co-op and the adjacent High Noon cafe which was really really really great. The cafe is only open for lunch but the food was absolutely delicious. We got a membership at the co-op and bought a ton of food staples since there is nothing like that here in Starkville. The whole little plaza included a great health food store, a yummy vegetarian cafe, a store that sells crafts and art from local artists, a community cyber center, and a little used book table. I will definitely be back down there once a month to shop for real food.

Mark also humored me and took me to the new local yarn shop in Jackson which had some of my favorite yarns. I had to buy at least one thing there, so I got more pretty sock yarn, big surprise.
Overall, we may have cut our trip a day short, but we totally got what we came for and it worked out well that we left on Saturday, because the cafe is closed on Sunday. We got back here around 6ish and treated ourselves to a dinner out since we had saved $ by leaving Biloxi a day early. I would love to say that we both spent all of our extra day doing tons of work around the house unpacking. Mark got a ton done. I got some done, but kept getting distracted by Sandy's chevron socks in progress.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chevrons and Politics

I'm addicted to both of these things. First the chevrons. I just finished and blocked my chevron scarf and I am so happy with how it turned out that I can't wait to wear it somewhere. Perhaps this weekend when we go see Kathy Griffin in Biloxi (AKA Mark's and my favorite bitchy potty-mouth comedian). I started trying to figure out gauge and a pattern appropriate for this great yarn I bought to make my sister in law socks. I tried 3 different needle sizes, 2 different patterns, and nothing made me happy so I designed a chevron pattern sock, that so far, I love (big surprise). It's an easy pattern, looks cool, and goes well with the bright variegated colors. Weee...more chevrons for me.
For those who are interested, the basic chevron stitch pattern is very similar to the feather and fan stitch pattern, but use 'Knit Front & Back' increases instead of 'Yarn Over' increases. I'll include the whole pattern, or a link to it in the next couple days.
(Notice that I'm getting better at the close-up photo thing. There's still a fair amount of luck involved, but I'm beginning to figure it out.)

Now for politics. Mark thinks I am predisposed to my political junkie ways, kinda like the child of an alcoholic is more likely to also be an alcoholic. I admit I was raised by a mom who had a TV in every room (including a small one in her bathroom) so she didn't have to miss any of the news (this was before DVRs let you pause live TV). My mom also ran for political office which was no fun for our family (don't get me started) but it did leave me with more insight than I ever wanted about the political process. I also grew up with politics discussed every night at dinner. I didn't pay attention back then, but now I think there must have been some absorption going on, cuz I am way into this Presidential race. I watch all the debates (while knitting) read the columns, and even listen to the pundits (who are soooo full of crap). It's like watching a slow moving sports event that will go on for months with match after match after match. I guess it also helps that I'm excited about the candidates too.
I'll try to not to blather on about politics, but YAY, go dems!!! Mark also has a vested interest in the presidential race too. After the 2004 debacle, I wanted to leave the country, but because I was working on my Ph.D. and just starting to get really serious with Mark, I sucked it up and vented a LOT as things slowly got worse and worse and worse. Well, now my PhD is done, and I'm married and if the dems lose in 2008, I am headed to Toronto, no lie. Mark realizes that I'm serious, so he's rooting for the dems, and researching Canadian jobs in Forest hydrology.

All of this fits in well to my extreme lack of life here. I work, I exercise, I knit, I read a bit, I hang out with Mark and my cat, and I watch debates and read the political news. I probably should make some social effort, but this is good for now. There are much worse things than having a crush on Jon Stewart and Keith Olbermann.
Yes, I know taking pictures of my TV shows just how much I lack a life, but he's cute and smart and I'm good with my lack of life for the moment...except when it bums me out.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tornado excitement

So yesterday (Thursday) I was excited to go back to the yoga class here which I love. Mark and I went and rejoined the gym in the morning and then I went home to work. I went back to the gym, which is on campus, for yoga at 12:30, but the minute I walked in the door, I realized that wasn't gonna happen. When I was leaving my house, I was thinking how warm (60 deg. F) and dark it was, but since I ain't from around here, I had no idea what that might mean.

When I walked in the gym building they were requiring everyone in the complex to go to the locker rooms for safety because there was a Tornado Warning (i.e there was one in the area headed towards campus). I could have either gone right home or gone to the locker room. I decided to go the locker room because a) I don't know nuthin' about Tornados and didn't want to be stupid and b) I was hoping the warning would end and we could have our yoga class. The biggest bummer was that I FORGOT MY KNITTING. I always have knitting with me and here I was stuck with a bunch strangers (nice strangers though) and no knitting.

The good news is that my very cool yoga teacher was spunky enough to to try teaching yoga class in the women's locker room. We couldn't have a complete class cuz there are certain things you can't do on a tile floor with such limited space (and of course the guys in class were SOL) but I got a good stretch, a decent workout and a great laugh and then chatted with some folks until the tornado passed. I left before the rains let up though and got SOAKED on the way to my car. All in all, not a bad first tornado.

And since I didn't get to knit during the day, I made up for it by finishing my chevron scarf last night...yay, yay, yay! I blocked it today
and I'll be wearing it by next week. It's perfect for this non-cold climate.

Settling in...I guess

I've been meaning to write, but holy crap, have I been exhausted from all of this travel. Puerto Rico was great, mostly just hanging on the beach, drinking Mojitos, knitting reading and eating lots of great food. I should qualify what I meant by beach. This was the view from our window.
My mom doesn't really like sand, so they lie on what I refer to as a seaside grassy patio under a grove of palm trees. The view is amazing and the hotel has an outdoor bar nearby for yummy snacks and cocktails. Yep, it was lovely. Here's my mom chillin' on the beach.
Yes, she's reading a court brief here, because she loves her work and finds this stuff fascinating.
My parents were psyched to have us there because we were up for stuff like walking to the Old City which is really nice and were up for any restaurant they felt like going to. This is my dad at the El Moro fort. he and Mark walked there while mom and I went jewelry shopping. I've been to the fort before.
All the restaurants were great, but the trick to not over eating was to just order multiple yummy appetizers.

Mark and I also rented a car one day and went to El Yunque Rainforest which was less than hour away. We hiked up to the top and even had some brief moments of an amazing view.
Yes. that is the ocean you can see in the distance. Here is Mark at the top.
We then hiked down the touristy path to the waterfall. Which was fun and a little crowded and a great little additional workout. All in all we hiked about 6.5 miles and my calves were screaming the next day from all the elevation change. Fortunately, I was able to spend most of the next day recovering on the beach with more mojitos before we flew out in the evening.

The flight/drive home was long, but now I'm feeling normal and back to working full time and unpacking. Once the house is more unpacked, I'll post more pix.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Quick stop at home before we leave again

New Years in Blacksburg at the Bat Ranch was just a whole big bunch of casual yummy fun, as usual. I think this is the 4th consecutive year I've been to the Thai potluck New Years gorge fest and even with Molly still recovering from surgery, it was a blast. Even though she was under the weather, Molly still managed to roast two chickens (Thai style), make a huge side dish, make drinks, do a few shots of tequila with me (mmmm), host a party (with Mike's help) and keep an eye on 3 kids (also w/ Mike's help) of course. After that, she outlasted me by at least an hour or so and still got up to make breakfast for all. Geez, talk about superwoman!

As for me, the trip was great and worth the long drive. We ended up doing a short hike with Jess and Brian at the Cascades
because we all wanted to get back in time to shower and cook for our respective parties. Jess and Brian were going elsewhere. I found a great recipe for a yummy Thai noodle slad that also included fresh spinach...mmmm. I also brought some chocolate to melt and strawberries and almond cookies to dip in it. Dipping stuff in chocolate is so freakin' easy and always well appreciated. Here is Maggie at the New Year's party wearing sandys' very cool black and white snake. When Maggie is a famous vixen, I'll be able to say I knew her when...
Here is Linden, Molly's youngest, and at the moment biggest challege, in the morning. He likes cameras.
As I said, the trip to Blacksburg was well worth the long drive, BUT, it left us with less than 24 hours at home before we left again for Puerto unpacking, doing laundry, and packing again was all we had time for. It also stressed me out to leave my cat alone so much, but such is life. Definitely a good start to the year.