Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A long treatise on chat-room friends...
I have a friend in The Netherlands who once told me that in his country when you have a birthday, you invite all of your friends, put out food, and celebrate your day. I think planning one's own birthday party is a splendid idea! In that spirit, here is my birthday celebration.   The friends I choose to invite this year are my friends from the gl1800riders.com chat room, a place where I probably spend far too much time. 
These people are an amazing and diverse group, representing many different walks of life.  In my six or seven years of chatting with this bunch, I've met a road builder, a wireless communications whiz, a chemist, grocer, tool-and-die maker, public servants, computer gurus (and many who were computer-challenged), a shoe salesman, truck drivers, postal workers, car salesmen, maintenance workers, photographers both amateur and professional, an electrical engineer, nurses, musicians, farmers, and more. 
I have chatted with folks from nearly forty states and at least seven countries outside the USA.  I have met many of them at various gatherings in various places, several have visited me at my home, and I have visited a few at theirs.  I've met up with them in Arkansas, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Alabama, and Tennessee.  I've logged many, many miles riding with them, and countless hours in the chat room with them.
Most of them use screen names: YellowWolf, Snoopy, Fuzzy, Transformer, MCMom, Galute, Brobubba, and so many more.  Others use some variation of their real names: TBeck, Jon, Robeth, and of course, RickMays. Poor Rick used to get so upset that we all had 'fake' names that everyone changed their screen name one night while he was away, and left him to figure out who was who when he came back. :D 
We talk about everything in chat, and nothing.  The only real rule is that we try very hard to leave politics and conflict outside.  We have had nights where we quoted Seinfeld and Monty Python episodes, nights when we played trivia games, and nights when no one said much of anything at all. Some nights the boys want to talk about boobs, always boobs and then they get sent to the corner until they can behave. = )
We have had acronyms and catch-phrases. GANBY? was asked frequently a few years back when a chatter had wrecked his bike and was waiting to replace it (Get A New Bike Yet?).  "Warmhogs" became a regular salutation one evening when  self-admitted poor speller Fuzzy was leaving and meant to leave me with warm hugs...we used to give spelling scores for things like that;  -1 for a minor infraction. 
One chatter calls us his 'secret friends' because that's what his wife calls us. Two others enter and greet one another, "Hey Goat roper!" "Hey, Hillbilly!"  Another greets everyone by the initials of their user name, "B!" "G!" "Uncle T! "
With the joining of FrigNbored, the prefix FrigN became used for many things...the FrigNditch he rode into on one ride down Push Mountain in Arkansas, the line of protective gear he was going to develop and market: "I'm wearing my FrigNhelmet on my ride today. Has anyone seen my FrigNgloves?", and still is used frequently to describe my FrigNdialup connection. 
One chatter used to greet me with "BITE ME", to which my reply was "As always, Rick, no thank  you!"  One ill-fated evening I learned from the Southern boys the meaning of "shakey puddin'" and that phrase continues to reverberate in chat on a fairly frequent basis. 
We have discussed the merits of fresh Road-Apple pies and whether to farkle one's bike or not with useless and unnecessary chrome items. 
We have celebrated marriages, births, and anniversaries, retirements, new homes, new jobs and new bikes, and mourned the deaths of siblings, parents, spouses, pets and even children.  On one tragic evening, we sat late into the night with a chatter from Minnesota, as he watched the lights from emergency vehicles a mile or so from his home while rescue workers pulled the bodies of kids from a school bus that had been smashed and overturned by a careless driver who did not yield at a stop sign.  We grieved with him as he prepared the meats and cheeses that were delivered from his little grocery store to the funerals of children he knew by their first names. 
On another evening, two men sat at their computers in two different states, tracking tornadoes in a third state and communicating the safest routes by phone with a chatter who was trying to dodge the storms and get home to his wife.  He made it safe and sound that night, by the way.  Another night that same man rode home on his motorcycle through a tornado and when he entered the chat room, he told us how he was passed by a tree AND a chicken coop along the way!
Through the journaling skill of that tornado-defying rider, Rickey (Galute), we traveled vicariously with five friends on four motorcycles from Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, and Oklahoma on an odyssey to Alaska and back.  We held our collective breath when one of the group became gravely ill along the way and had to be flown home.  We were sure we'd lost him, and he spent months in the hospital, but now he is riding once more. 
We followed in amazement as another of our group, Sheila Winney, also known as MCMom, rode more than 125,000 miles in twelve months on her purple Wing, suffering two crashes along the way.  The poor Wing completed the ride, its fairing patched together with heavy plastic and duct tape, and Sheila survived her wrecks with minor injuries.  The chat room waited every evening for updates from Rickey and Sheila, worrying when they didn't show up in chat for a day or two, and always asking the same question when they did make an appearance: "Where are you tonight?"
There is a surprising number of men in chat who also like to cook.  One evening, several of them were comparing favorite recipes.  Finally, in frustration because I am married to a man who does NOT cook, I asked, "Where were you all when I  was looking for a husband?" to which Frig replied, "Well...I was thirteen..."  Ouch.
We have had Mardi gras incidents, bike tip-overs, wrecks and close calls, bikes lost and bikes gained, HUGE laughs and a few tears.  We've had such good times together, and I truly consider these people to be the very best friends of my life, bar none.  They have listened and commiserated and celebrated with me during these very difficult last few years, through family problems and family illnesses, the building of a new house and new life, the birth of my grandson, the loss of my sister to cancer. 
The group has changed over the years, some have left, others have joined. Lives have changed and taken some to other interests.  Black Pirate, oh Jerry, our Jerry, was killed on his trike awhile back, and I believe the sun dimmed on that day.  Newbies are welcomed, and usually greeted with, "Where are you and what do you ride?"  We teach them the basics of chat, then sit back and get to know them.  I miss the ones who don't come in any more, though, and wish you would drop in every now and again.  Our lives are poorer in your absence, you know...

And so, tomorrow is my birthday and I invite you all to come.  I will put out food, and we will celebrate.  Next year, don't wait for November 24th, just come any day, and we will have a party.   Until we meet again, in the words of NJREF:
'Be well, my secret friends!'

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Well, this is cool!
After I finished the lovely Kroy FX Clover Colors socks, I emailed Kroy, telling them about the gauge difference I encountered from one ball of yarn to another:
To: Patons Inquire
Subject: Small problem with Kroy Socks FX

I love your Kroy Socks yarn, and have used it for several projects over the years. I recently had an odd problem with two balls of Socks FX in Clover Colors. You can see the finished socks at the link below:


if the link doesn't work, go to www.sunnybookyarns.blogspot.com and scroll down to the Oct. 30 post.
As noted in my blog post, the dye lots were different so the socks are very different in color, but that's not a problem for me. However, I use the 2socks/2circs technique always when knitting socks, so they were knit at the same time on the same needles, but came out with very different gauges. You can see the difference in size in the two socks pictured. Is this a common occurrence with the FX line? I hate to think (because I despise swatching!) that I will have to start knitting gauge swatches from every ball of Kroy Socks yarn.
Once I noticed the difference in the gauge, I simply knit one sock a little longer than normal and one a little shorter than normal, and they came out ok. Both socks fit acceptably well, and I LOVE the colors.
Thank you for the feedback, and lets see MORE of those gorgeous FX colorways!

Becky Yoder
This was their customer service rep's response:
Dear Becky,
Thank you for contacting our company. With regards to your concern about the pattern in the Kroy FX yarn, there is no perceivable problem with the yarn itself the FX is a random patterning yarn. It is meant to create an interesting ‘effect’ – hence ‘FX’ and the socks will not match exactly in terms of the patterning-colors remain the same but the way they flow together creates the effect.
This product is a 4 ply yarn and it is combined of four different strands of a variegated yarn which is all different as well and they are spun together making each ball a little different and unique. That is why two socks will not be identical. Remember, every project will be a special one-of-a-kind treasure, so have fun creating your very own knit or crochet design.
If the two balls are the same lot and colour they should be the same gauge, we sincerely apologize for the difficulties you have experienced, and appreciate your comments. Please forward your mailing address and we would be happy to send you some complimentary yarn.
Once again, we thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to our attention and thank you for choosing our products.
Yours truly,
Leah Cherrey
Customer Service

Ok, I thought, that was nice, they're going to send me a couple of balls of yarn...but nooooo....
I arrived home from work today, and this was waiting for me    --------->
Three balls of Kroy Socks Jacquards in Turquoise!
Three balls of Patons Stretch Socks in Licorice!
Three balls of the ever-lovely Kroy Socks FX Clover Colors!

Holy cow!  Complimentary yarn, indeed!  Sooo...if you're using Kroy Socks FX, be sure to get the same dyelot number OR swatch every ball!  Oh, and I checked...the dyelots are the same on all the colors they sent me. =)
I love good customer service!

Monday, November 15, 2010

And now for something completely different...

Pumpkin photgraph by Suzanne Collier.
For more information:

You may remember me saying that our little garden produced just one pumpkin this year.  It got picked yesterday, and I roasted its seeds and used its pulp to bake two fairly decent pumpkin pies!  I started with this recipe from cooks.com REAL Pumpkin Pie.  I didn't have rum or raisins in the house, and I had already started baking the fresh pumpkin to cook the flesh, so I did a little fiddling with the recipe, which then became:
Drunken Punkin Pie
To make two pies
Pastry for two 9" pies, fitted into pie pans, with edges fluted and bottom of crust pricked with a fork so that steam can escape
4c. cooked pumpkin, mashed or pureed
2 T flour
2 c. sugar
* 2 tsp cinnamon
*1 tsp nutmeg
*1/2 tsp cloves
*1 tsp ginger
  OR substitute 3 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice for all ingredients marked with *
2 T Molasses
2 T butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 c Maker's Mark bourbon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix all ingredients together, stir until well combined, and pour into pastry-lined pie plates.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake until done.  I checked my pies the first time after thirty minutes at 350, but they were not even close to being done.  It was closer to an hour and a half before they were set up enough that a knife inserted near the middle of the pies came out clean and they were baked.  You will want to check them about every ten minutes or so, and may need to protect the edges of the pie crusts with strips of aluminum foil.
Let the pies set on a rack to cool, and serve with whipped cream.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's almost that time of year.  We've had an exceptionally mild Fall, with temps well into the 70s and even higher many days, but it's time.  The nights have been cold, and we've had frost in the mornings.  It was down to 18F one morning when I left for work, but the warm, sunny days have held at bay the normal cool crispness of autumn. The last couple of days have felt different, though, and the skies have been dark gray-blue and threatening on several occasions. Snow must be on its way. 
I am that odd person who loves winter.  I love the cold, the frost, the snow, yes, even the snow.  I love the special beauty of winter; icicles dripping from the eaves, my breath-fog in the air, the snow-cloaked evergreens and fences.  I love the silence that accompanies a snowfall, and the quiet that blankets the earth when the ground is snow-covered.  I love the bright reds and blues of the cardinals and the bluejays at my birdfeeder, and the gray/black/brown of the stark, bare trees. 

There is a particular light that fills the air on the morning after a heavy snowfall.  I can tell as soon as I wake and open my eyes, and even before looking out the window, that snow has come.  Hitting the 'snooze' button and burrowing deeper beneath the warm quilts in a cold bedroom on a snowy winter morning is one of life's great guilty pleasures, made even greater with someone to snuggle beside you.
I am awestruck on very, very cold winter days, when the sun shines brilliantly even though the temperatures are in the single digits, and the moisture in the air freezes into nearly invisible ice crystals that catch the light and sparkle like diamond dust.  It is magical.  I am amazed to see the great, huge flakes that form and fall and SPLAT!! against my windshield when the air is very damp and the temperatures have just reached freezing. 

I know that I post pictures of snow every winter, but I love, love, love it.  These images are from last winter, one of the loveliest I can remember...but then, I say that nearly every year!  This year, 2010, has been one of change and loss and stress and conflict, and I am ready for some peace.  Let us have winter.  Let it blanket us and comfort us and bring us rest.  Let it come. 

Snow be with you!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

What a difference a year makes...
a year ago today, I was driving to the hospital to visit Rich after his motorcycle wreck the night before...today, I went for my first ride on our 'new to us' wing.  We've had the bike for two weeks now, but I wanted Rich to get the feel of riding again before I climbed onto the back seat.  I figured today that he'd had enough time, and I wanted to go for one ride at least, before it gets too cold to ride.  I put on an extra layer or two of warm clothing, pulled on my riding jacket, pants, boots, and helmet, and we took off.
We didn't go anywhere special, just out and around. We stopped at a nephew's house for a quick visit and saw another nephew, a niece, and a great-nephew and great-niece while we were there, so it was a bonus visit. = )  We rode through some familiar country...this is a beautiful area, with plenty of trees and water and other natural glories to be seen. It was a nice day, with plenty of sunshine to help warm us.  It was a good day.
It was good to be out on two wheels again. 

And last night, there were grandkids! :) I spent a couple of hours with Layla, Robby, and Andrea while their dad and Rich ran an errand.  We watched Jumanji and played, and Layla did my hair for me. What a fun evening!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Sweet... :)
This little baby set is for the forthcoming grandchild of friends.  Baby things knit up SO quickly, and the "awwwwwe" factor is always high.  These are in Schaefer Ann, in a colorway I've forgotten, with some Lorna's Laces in China Blue for the sock feet.  The Ann was left from my very first pair of finished socks in 2003.  I'd given the yarn to my sister, but my brother-in-law gave her knitting stuff to me after she died, and this yarn was so pretty I had to use it for this wee hat and socks.  This pic is way too dark, but I can't find my good camera right now. 

I found the basic sock pattern here and the basic hat pattern here.  I made some adjustments to the patterns, working a different toe on the socks and adding a cuff and a different stitch pattern to the cap.  Very, very cute and soft!