Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Rock saws are loud.

That is all.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Three: Yay Humor

For a minute, I thought this was book five for the year, but no. That's my sock count. Considering it takes around thirty hours to knit a pair of sock and about five hours to read a book (according to my Kindle reading speed thing), what does that say about how I spend my time?

Anyway. In my search for Fforde-esque funnies, I found Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Success! Something that amused me!
Equipment for ghost hunters: thermal underwear, very important; warm coat; thermos flask; patience; ghost. (p24)
The blurb on the front says something about it's what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the fuzz, but no.
‘So magic is real,’ I said. ‘Which makes you a … what?’
‘A wizard.’
‘Like Harry Potter?’
Nightingale sighed. ‘No,’ he said, ‘not like Harry Potter.’
‘In what way?’
‘I’m not a fictional character,’ said Nightingale. (p39)
I mean, yes wizards and yes England. But otherwise no. While I liked Harry Potter, it didn't strike me as funny. Fantastical, adventurous, and (later) dark, yes. Funny? No. But this book amused me - riots, face-explosions, murders and all.
Somebody was screaming and I had to check it wasn’t me. It could have been me. I certainly wanted to scream, but I remembered that, right then and there, Lesley and I were the only coppers on the scene, and the public doesn’t like it when the police start screaming: it contributes to an impression of things not being conducive to public calm. (p134)
Not to say that this book was focused on humor. It's a ghostly murder mystery with some river-related diplomacy thrown in, it just has an amusing outlook. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Of course, there are only four books in the series, which means it won't be too long before I'm on the hunt again for some Fforde-ish like amusement. Maybe I just need to focus the hunt on British authors - Fforde is British (but then so is Robert Rankin and I was unable to finish the one book of his I attempted to read). And British-ness does come with one (personal) negative, which is the only reason I wasn't able to fully love Aaronvitch's book: sometimes I just had no clue what he was talking about.

With my past travels and interacting with folks that learned British English (vs American English) as their second language, I think I'm pretty good about understanding British-isms. Okay, okay, so the time I read the UK edition of the third Harry Potter book, I did have a bit where I couldn't figure out how Harry's torch didn't set the bedsheets on fire as he used it to read under the covers, but I figured "eh, wizard". I did eventually clue in and, since then, have been much more in the know thanks to regular exposure to things like Sherlock, Cabin Pressure, Top Gear and other British goodies. But when name brands are used or specific grocery chains are named, I just don't get the related subtext. So there were a fair number of these moments that left me a bit out of the loop. (And I probably would have gotten the big mystery more if my exposure to Punch and Judy existed outside of brief allusions to them in other movies.)

Also, I had to look up what the heck a groundnut was. (Most of the internet agrees that it is a peanut.)

So yes, thumbs up for fun books! Pretty sure Moon Over Soho is next.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Spring? Is that you?

One of yesterday's visitors.


Needless to say, the kitties are enjoying the birds around here. (Yesterday, we had a handful of bluebirds (including the Mr. Man up there) as well as some brave Cardinals that were checking out the (now empty) porch. There was much kitty chattering. And blind clanking.)

My Turn!

I was so envious of Dan's snazzy slippers, I decided I needed to make some of my own!

Pink Slippers

Okay, so that was pre-felting. After felting, they actually fit!


While they were wet, I put them on, letting them form to my feet. I've heard it is a great way to get slippers to perfect fitting slippers but I had never done it before. After doing it with these, I highly recommend it!

Another fun thing: this pattern was from one of my books I got for Christmas. Funnily enough, this wasn't the pattern that made me want the slipper book, but it's the first pattern I've made out of the book. Yay knitting-themed Christmas!

Also, not Christmas related, but this yarn? Felted beautifully. Even though I had to felt Dan's slippers down a lot more, his slippers seem to show stitch definition more than mine do. (For those potential felters out there, his slippers were made with Imperial Yarn Native Twist while mine used Berroco Peruvia Colors.) Sadly, the yarn I used has been discontinued but there's supposed to be a solid/heathered version of it (Berroco Peruvia) that is still in production so I might have to hunt some of that down because I have the urge to make felted slippers for everyone in the world.

Which reminds me: the first time I was introduced to felted slippers was in college. A friend across the hall had gotten a package from her mom with the biggest, floppiest slippers I had ever seen. She was so excited and I was really confused as to why but she said that her mom made them to be felted down so they would perfectly fit the recipients foot after being run though a washer. I totally didn't get it but a couple of days later, my friend popped in to show me the finished product - thick, un-floppy, normal sized slippers. I think she had even put them on wet so they'd form to her feet. Who knew I'd be doing the same thing almost 15 years later. (Gah. I can't believe it has been that long.)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Official Welcome

Wednesday night Dan and I were able to pick up his car, but between one thing and another, I wasn't able to get an official welcome shot. Until now!

New Car


He's already had to make an almost 4-hour round-trip drive for work but it gave him some good bonding time with his new car.

New Car Innards

He's definitely a fan. As he should be; it's a fun little car to drive, even more fun than mine!

So yay for new cars! I hope we don't have to do that again for a while.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Number Four

I've just finished my fourth pair of socks for this year and I LOVE them!


Dan's Wilderness SocksI made these socks using the same pattern and yarn (though obviously a different colorway) that I used when I made Dan's first pair of socks. (Full disclosure: I did use a different heel on mine, too.)

I love them. They are probably the best fitting socks I have made yet. It was almost impossible to take them off to wash them, but I managed to peel them off since washing them will soften the buffalo in the yarn.

Yay for awesome socks!


The weather has warmed up with no freeze in site. Which means: decking!

Upper Patio

The upper porch part and stairs will be capped in flagstone but I'm not sure when that'll happen. But since there isn't a freeze anticipated in the next week, I'm hoping it will be soon!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lonely Garage

No new car just yet. While the service guys were tinting the windows, they ran out of tint. They were supposed to get more today but looks like it won't be in until tomorrow. Which means no new car for us tonight.

Actually, that might be for the best - freezing temps again today with freezing rain and a decent chance of snow this evening. In other words, much like yesterday. The drive home last night had a few adventurous ice-related moments and I'd hate to run into the same thing today and end up denting the new car on the first day of possession.

Tomorrow should be nice and ice-free though. A good day to drive home in shiny newness.

Monday, February 10, 2014

My New Kitchen

After massive amounts of research, two very intense days, and around a dozen test drives, Dan has a new car. In the end, we went the sensible route and chose a nice little station wagon for him.

Dan's New Car

Okay, so not what I normally think of when I think of a station wagon (especially once you see the inside), but that's what it is listed as on the CarFax report that came with it. Personally, I'd call it a sporty hatchback, but whatever. Actually, I take that back - I call it my perfect car. Sporty, high-end, and with enough room for a big grocery run (or hauling multiple kitties to the vet). I want this car. So yeah, I'm a little jealous of Dan's awesome car, but I'm also really happy for him - and not just because I'll get to borrow it.

We bring it home tomorrow since the dealership is going to tint the windows. Dan and I are both looking forward to it. Yay for a new car! And yay for being one step closer to putting this stupid accident behind us!

Books One & Two

Well, my last book of last year was The Hobbit and it's the first book of this year, too.
We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them. (p9)
I read it this time, instead of listening to an audiobook. I actually enjoyed reading it a bit more since it helped me absorb places and names a bit better. Oddly, though, I still didn't enjoy the second half of the book as much. I'm not really sure why. I like it up to Mirkwood but after that, I get a little restless until we meet Smaug. Maybe it's the way the elves treat Bilbo. They're kinda mean.
“Good Gracious!” he thought, “so that is what they are beginning to think, is it? It is always poor me that has to get them out of their difficulties, at least since the wizard left..." (p188)
Preach it, Bilbo.

I did enjoy seeing a bit of the evolution of the English language, though. Reading without the dynamic nature of language in mind can make things sound a bit odd.
...and some were harping and many were singing. (p141)

He used to turn queer if he looked over the edge of quite a little cliff... (p101)
Also, reading this made me once again want to write an essay on how Harry Potter is basically The Hobbit (and probably The Lord of the Rings) revamped.
“Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!” he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb. (p204)
Am I the only one that thinks of "Never tickle a sleeping dragon" after reading this?

Logic would dictate that after reading The Hobbit, I would move on with the series, but with all the construction and related stress around the house now, I didn't want my next book to be too long or heavy - so no Lord of the Rings just yet. Instead, I gave Ella Minnow Pea: A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable by Mark Dunn
a go.

I happened upon this book when looking for something Jasper Fforde-ish. I love his humor and always look forward to his stuff, but there's not another Fforde book out until at least April and I needed something fun now.

It wasn't as fun as a Jasper Fforde and the first quarter of the book felt a little forced. Even the book seemed to acknowledge that awkwardness.
My cousins say that I speak in a “funny,” overly formal way, whatever this means. (p30)
Yeah, whatever that means. Shall I list a few of the made up words used, even before very important letters are eliminated?
heavipendence (p35), intensured (p45), rectilitude (p45), humongolacity (p56), concomitate (p60), illegum (p63)
I also had some confusion differentiating between the voices of the characters in some of the letters (and remembering a couple of the lesser characters), but these seem to be issues many epistolary novels have and this wasn't the worst offender by far. Overall, it was an enjoyable little story.

One (non-book-related) complaint, though: when you open a book on a Kindle, it starts at the beginning of the first chapter. This can bypass any introduction, notes, or preface. That's rather annoying and can really detract from the story. In this book, if I hadn't flipped backwards after opening it I would have missed a short list of definitions, including the one that gives the setting of this book.
Nol•lop (nol′ep), n. a 63-square-mile autonomous island nation 21 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. Established as a quasi-communal society by dispossessed southern Americans in the 1840s, the island declared its independence from the United States in 1870. Over the years the country’s leadership has sought to uplift its black and white citizens through almost monastic devotion to liberal arts education and scholarship, effectively elevating language to national art form, while relegating modern technology to the status of avoidable nuisance. Formerly Utopianna, the country’s name was changed in 1904 to honor native son Nevin Nollop, the author of the popular pangram sentence The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
This information, particularly the autonomous nation off the coast of South Carolina bit, is pretty vital for understanding how the events of this book occur. It makes it an alternate universe setting so things that would be completely impossible in our world now are accepted in the story as being possible because of the alternate setting. So yeah, I love my Kindle but I find that "feature" excessively annoying.

I'm not sure what is next up on my reading list. I should be reading a book on composting but I want something fun still (and probably will until the pool is all done) so I think I'll end up reading some more fiction.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


After just four days of work, we have a fence!

New Fence

It's a ridiculously nice fence. And since it is board on board, it's really more of a wall than a normal fence. It's kind of crazy and I pretty much love it. It makes it so easy to forget there are other homes on the other side!

New Fence

It's also ridiculously large since it covers our whole lot. It does make our yard seem smaller since it closes it off from the front yard and the neighbor's open yard behind us, but at the same time it makes our yard feel more accessible and useable.

New Fence

We do have a section of fence that isn't up yet, but that's not going to be put up until they are finished with the pool (since they'll need to get machinery into our yard to do the decking, plaster and the final grade). It'll eventually have a gate there, too.

New Fence

We also are planning on getting the fence stained, but that won't happen until the final bit is installed. So I suppose technically it isn't done, but it's pretty dang close so I'm excited.

Now if we can just get some days that stay above freezing so we can get our deck poured!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

That's Not Sand

Surprisingly, some work got done on the pool yesterday. (Surprisingly because it was below freezing pretty much the whole day. I had never seen guys on a construction crew wearing fur-lined earflap hats. But now I have.) They framed out the decking, packed the area with sand then put down steel. It's all starting to look amazingly real.

Decking (and Snow)

Of course, when Dan looked out side this morning, he noticed that the sand they put down was really white. And... falling from the sky? No wait, that's snow. So yeah, probably not going to have any work done today, at least not on the pool. Fence guys might be here again but I'm not sure about their sartorial choices. (Yesterday there was nary an earflap hat amongst them.)

Also, I would like to say: what the what?? Snow? We should be gearing up for spring! What's with the snow? Was the week-long ice storm not enough for you this year? Stop it! Where is the sun??? I'm really going to need one of those to go with the pool! Stop with the whole winter thing!

Monday, February 3, 2014


The insurance company has declared Dan's car a total loss.

Naturally, it wasn't worth that much since it was a 2005 with over 200k miles on it, but still. Very annoying. We hadn't planned on buying a new car for a few years.

Dan has yet to get his desired 250k miles on a Toyota. His cars end up totaled just before he can get there.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Achievement Unlocked

I have finished my first pair of socks for February! I had intended them to be my second pair of socks for January, but illness conspired against me. These were too thinky to work on, so a simple pair of slippers for Dan ended up being January's "sock" number two and this pair got bumped back a month.

Owlie Socks

I cannot convey the lack of joy these were to work on or the total awesomeness the finished product is.

The reason for the lack of enjoyment: cables. Apparently I don't like them. They create extra tension on the round which gets passed to me. So something like this with lots of cables? Lots of tension. Also, the cables and (super-neat twisted stitch ribbing) created a lot of pull in on the socks, so it wasn't exactly comfortable to use my 9" circulars. In fact, I broke one of my tips (and am shocked I didn't manage to break the other one).

Owlie Socks

That being said, I think the finished socks (and the thoughtfulness of the pattern) are beyond awesome. I can't see myself knitting a pair of these ever again, but now that I'm done, I'm happy I've made these.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Well, I'm still sick, Dan has gotten sick, he's still a bit tense from his accident, we have no news on his car's repair, and Emmett has a hairball... but day before yesterday the rock wall and coping was finished! This morning they sprayed it down with some muriatic acid to clean it so we finally got to see it in its non-dusty glory.

Rock Wall & Coping

There are a couple of pieces that have some saw cuts on the face and will therefore be replaced (perhaps Monday) but I figured it's still done enough for me to post about it.

Monday they are supposed to start on the deck, but I don't imagine they'll get much done this week. They can't do anything when it could freeze and we are heading back into unhappy cold temps soon. Freezing weather is why the rock work took so long to finish - they had to skip a decent number of days that the mortar might have frozen at night. The joys of having a pool build in winter, I suppose!

Also, we have started the fence process by writing a check. The building should hopefully start this week. Hopefully it will be awesome.

Yay progress! Now if we could both shake this stupid cold...