Thursday, April 03, 2014

I'M HAPPY AND ANGRY.

Probably the real news here is that I've knitted again, which is meant to sound as sinister as "I've killed again" because I nearly did.

People - knitting is not relaxing.

I just don't care who says it and with what frequency. For me, knitting is a dangerous game of I'M GOING TO FUCKING KILL EVERYONE IF THIS DOESN'T WORK ON THIS VERY NEXT TRY and, so often, this is what it comes down to.

My latest knitting project is absolutely no different.

See, I came across this hysterical pattern on Ravelry. Or maybe someone forwarded it to me? I honestly can't recall. The rage has erased a good part of my short term memory.

So, obviously once I saw this pattern, my fingers started twitching and swears started revving up because OH I MUST MAKE THIS.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooOOOOOOooooooooooooo

Because of its hilariousness. And eyeballness. And hilarious eyeballness.

But, of course, I can't just make things all willy nilly without a purpose, so I decided I'd make it for my dad. Because it's his birthday tomorrow. And he drinks tea.

And likes snails? Wait, no.

He likes his teapot to stare at him? Nope.

His teapot is cold? Not that I know of.

Whatever.

I thought I'd knit this crazy ass thing and offset its absolute weirdness with things I know that he does like so that he wouldn't hate me or think I was, like, late stage retarded or something.

So I knit the thing up and put it with a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints, some really good black tea and a tea ball shaped like an elephant.

Not that the elephant part is relevant, but that was what I found and it amused me and let's be honest here - it's clearly all about my amusement.

And by it I mean everything.

Obviously.

But about my rage knitting.

It was ragefull.

And let me now summarize for you a few things about knitting that inspire the greatest amount of rage.

Firstly, there was a lot of "Make two" going on in this muther fucker of a pattern. Like, "Make two eyeballs" and "Make two pupils" and "Make two shafts" (HA! SHAFTS! I'm real mature.) and such. And you know how much I hate any pattern that requires me to knit something and then, just when I'm finished with it and I see the light at the end of the tunnel and oh I have a finished object NOPE..."Make two".

I mean, I get it. If you're going to have a pair of anything: gloves, socks, eyeballs, whatever - you're going to need two of them and I know that the pattern is going to say to "Make two" and I know that when I get to that part in the pattern that I will roll out my special "Make two" swears and call it a scheming sunuvabitching whore.

But I'll get over it.

And make two like a fucking grown-up.

But here's a knitting thing that I've only touched on ever so briefly in the past but enrages me like fucking fire: Weave in ends.

OH REALLY? IS THAT ALL? Just weave in the ends like in five seconds and then we're on our way TO where everything looks perfect and will stay put just like so?

You know what I always say when I get to the part of every pattern where it says, "Just weave in ends."?

JUST FUCKING BLOW IT OUT YOUR ASS.

That's what I say. Because I am the boss of knitting. I point at the thing I've just slaved away knitting and go, "Oh yeah, sweater that I've been knitting for half of my adult life? Just weave in the five thousand ends you have dangling all over the place? WHY DON'T YOU JUST BLOW IT OUT YOUR ASS/SLEEVE HOLE?"

My rage comes from the fact that "just" weaving in the ends is always this mystery activity of where the fuck do all these ends really go so that they don't show through the front of the work and how long do they really need to be to stay in place even if this thing gets washed and what if I just tied a good old fashioned knot here and cut the ends and called it a day and such.

Because this is my thought process every time I get to the "Just weave in ends" part of every pattern after I have my temper tantrum wherein I command the pattern to blow it out of its non-existent ass.

Again - I'm real mature.

But also, saying "Attach securely to [project]" isn't helpful at all.

HOW?

HOW WOULD YOU SUGGEST I ACHIEVE THIS ALLEGED SECURE ATTACHMENT?

HOW DID YOU DO IT?

ARE YOU MAGIC?

CAN I BORROW YOUR MAGIC WAND TO SECURELY ATTACH THESE SHAFTS (HA! SORRY.) TO THIS SNAIL TEAPOT COZY?

NO?

Well, then you can blow it out your ass, too. You and your pattern can have an ass blowing party and I'll just sit here and burn over the ridiculousness of this pattern and...oh wait...I got it...oh my god that's the most hilarious thing I've ever madetotallyworthitHOORAY.



So, yeah. 

The Snail Tea Cozy is, to me, entertaining and hysterical and also a little cute and that's sort of helping me forget about the fact that it took me more than 10 tries to get this thing started properly because the pattern calls for starting with 6 stitches knitting in the round on double pointed needles.

Because the chick that designed this pattern hates people, so she makes adorable patterns using punishing techniques and thank the maker that someone had the wisdom to post a crucial tip on their rendition of this pattern, "I started by making a 12-chain crochet ring, then picked up stitches out of it and knit from round 3 of the pattern."

That helped a lot, Annettle. You're tits.

Without that nugget of wisdom, for which I was wholeheartedly searching after failing over a dozen times at the start of this pattern, I would have burned my entire knitting stash after stabbing my eyes out with all of my needles.

Twice.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Obviously I'm drunk on Spring

As you probably know and are super annoyed by, it's Spring here in NorCal and has been since like, November.

Cherry tree's blooming.
ALREADY EVEN THOUGH IT'S ONLY FUCKING MARCH HELLO.

We just barely had a winter, if you can even call that five day period where it rained a normal rain, winter, and, well, the First Day of Spring is now suddenly Thursday, so OK then.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and be all WOE IS ME HOW COME THE WEATHER IS ALL SUNSHINEY AND BEAUTIFUL WHY WON'T IT RAIN AND BE COLD because I know you'll all hate me and leave stupid comments about how it was, like 74 below at your house yesterday (Hi, Sara. Yes. You've had the world's shittiest winter and I 100% feel for you. I also know that you wouldn't leave me a stupid comment, so that's why I'm writing the world's longest side note in parenthesis for you. Hi again.) or some shit and that's just not why I'm here.

I'm here to tell you about the other liquor cabinet I call The Garden.

The other beverage I consume in the garden. AKA - the only one without gin in it. (It's tea.)


Remember Gardenblahblahblah? Yeah, that's this.

Gardenblahblahblah with a side of I'M SO DRUNK ON SPRING RIGHT NOW.

Honestly, there's so much of it that I really don't know where to start, so we'll just start with what I did today.

I feel a bulleted list coming on.

Oop - here is:

  • Seeded 80 or so cucumbers, watermelons, pumpkins and zucchini into pots for the Indie Farms Spring Plant Sale
  • Seeded 100 or so companion plants, culinary herbs and flowers into flats for the Indie Farms Spring Plant Sale
  • Finally got rid of the fucking kale plants that were bolting in the garden while also serving as the condo high rise for every cabbage moth larvae and aphid in the Western Hemisphere
  • Harvested worm castings which really means I stole a bucket's worth of worms' poo. Nice, me.
  • Watered 100+ tomato and pepper seedlings for the five hundredth time
We're needy. WE NEED THINGS. Like, straightening of our tags which I just noticed is crooked in this photo. Yay.


Yesterday was a similar frazzled litany of gardeny things like:

  • Turning the compost in my new compost set up, which is harder than my old just spin the tub method in the Compostumbler, but way faster at making compost and that's what we're after 
  • Sorting seed and materials for today's seeding extravaganza
  • Ignoring the kale because I was doing it today
  • Planning my garden seeding for Wednesday because I apparently can't accomplish shit unless I plan it out way in advance and book time on my own calendar like a fucking lunatic
I've become a total calendar scheduling psychopath, y'all. I now book everything on one of my many Google calendars so that the thing looks like a fucking patchwork quilt of weird activities spread across my days. I think I need a scheduling intervention.

Or an assistant. 

Whatever.

Gardenblahblahblah rules dictate that I focus on the garden, so back to that...

The peas have germinated and tagged their lines just in time for it to be 80 FUCKING DEGREES AROUND HERE. Damnitall.

THE LILACS ARE BLOOMING. Awesome.


Did I tell you that the lilacs are blooming? They are. It's my favorite.
I've kind of gotten into growing herbs because of my extreme nerdiness and this was really exciting for me to see.

Also, I'm growing some peppers.
The kumquats are happening.
The grapes are ON THE JOB.
I grew a boatload of parsnips this winter and we've already eaten them all. Yay.
The winter garden harvest was a goodie.
I harvest a bunch of onions like this about every other day and now I can't imagine not growing onions because of their extreme awesomeness.



Also, as an extension of Gardenblahblahblah, I give you the goings on at work, which I think also counts as gardening. Just bigger. And with fish.


I had to move fish at work to their new big tanks (this is about 10% of the fish, mid-move). Best job.

I grow microgreens now. A lot of them. 

And basil. I grow a lot of basil. It's really happy now that there's more light during the day. It, too, is drunk on Spring.


We just planted hydroponic blueberries under the new high tunnels. Which is something I never thought I'd say.  And is great.

I made painted stakes to mark my different hop varieties because I don't know when to leave well enough alone.

My hydro crops are really happy now that the days are getting longer.

We dug a hole in our new field during class. Then my instructor stood in it. That's all.

We went to a farm on a field trip and they had GOATS. 

Goats that knocked each other down racing to greet us. It was the best day.

Frog butt

I have to pinch the basil tops at least once a week and this is about 1/3 of what comes off. So I eat it.
Enjoyable.

Also, there's stuff going on in the front yard meadow, but I haven't been out there during good light with my good camera to take any pictures that don't look like total bat shit, so we'll wait on that for another day. I'll, like, add it to my calendar or something.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A lot of walking around


So, we're planning to do a lot of walking around in August.

Like 135 miles +/- a few off-trail hikes and such.

Plus some more walking around between now and August to prepare ourselves for all of that walking around.


You have to practice walking around when you're going to be doing so much of it, you know.


And what the fuck, exactly, am I talking about?

We're hiking the John Muir Trail this summer (well, half of it) and we've started training. By walking around on the trails closer to home.

You know, to get ready.

But who will prepare the wilderness for us? This is a real issue.

See how all of our shit feels after hiking 10 or so miles now so that we can make tweaks to our gear, figure out how many pairs of socks we need, decide we don't need to bring a tent because that means we'd rather allot that weight for booze - you know, serious preparation - so that we can hike 10 +/- miles per day for two weeks in August.

And I see you right now raising those eyebrows and you can just stoppit.

Sure - we have a lot of shit going on and maybe this isn't the best time to be planning a two week long backpacking trip into the middle of wilderness when we should probably be doing things like finding meaningful employment with our newly minted horticulture degree or something, but to that I say...pffffffft.

Plus - this is sort of horticultural-ish, right? There are a lot of plants along the John Muir Trail and on these training hikes we're taking and in the books and websites we're working through in our quest to find out what we should pack into our resupply and who will pick us up and drop us off at the trailheads and how much is *too* much Nutella (answer: there is no such thing) and whatever, there are plants there.

And ladybeetles.

Rule 1: Kiss all ladybeetles

Whatever. We're going. And we're training. By walking around a lot.

Including this lovely hike we went on a few weeks ago, during which time I discovered that my hiking boots DO have removable insoles (duh) that will accommodate my custom orthodics (because I'm 100, remember) so that perhaps on our next hike I can experience something other than searing, stabbing, soul-crushing foot pain after just 10 miles of hiking over marginally strenuous terrain.

That'd be nice. To have my feet get in line with the rest of my body that, after a 10 mile hike with a pack filled with water jugs, was all YAY! Let's keep going! while my feet were all, FUCK YOU ALL. We're going to sit down forever.

I didn't want to get up. Even though that rock was sort of raping me.
Not good, is what I'm saying.

But I realized after the hike that the insoles come out of my boots (again, so duh) and in slip my orthodics like they were meant for it and WOO if I wear WrightSocks instead of the Smartwool hiking socks I stupidly wore, I probably won't even know what the word, "Blister" means by the end of our 135 +/- hike in August.

Lessons learned from training hike #1:

  1. Take out hiking boot insoles and place them forever in the garbage. Replace with orthodics. Live happy life.
  2. Wear WrightSocks because you get blisters otherwise.
  3. Soaking thy feet in a cool stream at midday is about the best thing a person can do.
  4. I can lose myself for a long time in a ladybug swarm which other hikers in my group might not appreciate.



    Such an educational day.



    Wednesday, February 26, 2014

    I make booze now and I think we'll all agree that makes sense.

    As you may recall, I had a recent beekeeping disaster.

    As always, because it's my way. Sadly. I'm just the world's worst beekeeper is what this is coming down to, but whatever because I have honey.

    Like, 25 pounds of it or something like that.

    Got to start somewhere, I suppose.
    I'd walk you through the process of how the honey got from the hive into the jars via my usual rambling and swearing, but I daresay you can get the gist with a few photos captioned with limited rambling and swearing.

    Let's see...

    Firstly, I covered my kitchen with all of the cardboard I could find on our property. It was not enough. Obviously. Then I set up my extractor (big shiny thing), the super of honey (the white box on the counter), my bucket (white bucket, hello) and a box (surely you can recognize a box) for the frames once they were harvested.

    If you've never seen a frame of capped honey from a beehive, here you go. Honey is in all of the cells and there's a thin layer of wax over the top of each cell to keep the honey in. I can't believe I'm explaining this.
    In order to get the honey out of the cells, you have to cut (uncap) the honey with a big ol' knife and then you're supposed to stick it in the extractor, crank the arm and SPIN the honey out of the frames using centrifugal force.
    "Supposed to", being the key phrase there.

    Well, guess what doesn't SPIN so easily when it's 50 degrees in your house and the honey's been just a hangin' out in the yard in the box for OH THE WHOLE WINTER or whatever? Yeah, honey. 



    So, to loosen up the honey that was clinging to the frames with all of its cold might, we turned two space heaters up to MOLTEN LAVA and pointed them at the extractor. 

    And then I cranked and cranked and cranked and basically guaranteed that I'd never do anything productive with that arm again. Feel free to take from that sentence whatever filthy or tragic activity you like.
    Nasties, all of you.

    And then we gave up on the extractor and decided FUCK IT ALL let's just use the crush method which is exactly what it sounds like.

    You scrape the honeycomb off of the foundation (the yellow stuff there) into a filter and you crush it.

    Scrape. Crush. Scrape. Crush. Scrape. Crush...for 20 frames.

    Some of it came out all nice like this, so we saved it.

    Some of it did not. So we crushed it.

    Then we ate some as a fancy appetizer with our neighbors. Plus cheese and apples.

    And once it was filtering and flowing and I'd apparently sown my tomato seeds, there was a toast. Honey harvested.

    Some went into jars to sell.

    Some went into the cutest tea cup/saucer set in the whole wide world given to me by a very sweet friend.

    Some of it went into refilling my own supply.
    And a LOT of it is going into mead.

    Are we all clear on what mead is?

    Some people call it honey wine, but that involves some shit I'm not into mixing with honey (like fermented grapes), so we are calling it mead.

    Dry Mead to be precise. Just water, honey and champagne yeast essentially mixed together, fermented and then racked off to sit and clarify for a few months. 


    Here lies Thnead Mead. 

    From which we drew the original gravity RIGHT ON TARGET BOOM.

    71 degrees for a few weeks is all.
    And soon we will rack it into a nice Mead Only keg to sit for a few months where it will become THE MOST DELICIOUS BOOZE OF ALL.

    Seriously. I love it lots. I also owe a bunch to some very nice friends whose mead I swiftly demolished while they were off gallivanting around the globe.

    Sorry, friends. That'll teach you to leave me unsupervised around your liquor. Be glad I don't like rum.

    So yeah - mead is happening and bees are arriving again in April and I've cleaned out the hive for their arrival which involved replacing all of the foundation and torching the inside of the boxes to rid it of ghosts and cooties and I now make booze.

    I'll let you guess how long it'll be before I try my hand at distilling gin because even though I've said a million times that I'll never do that, I bet you know that that's becoming a lie pretty fast.