Rhymes With Fuchsia

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

From the Archives

Having recently transferred some pictures from the laptop to the desktop, where my preferred graphics program lives, I've been looking through some that I'd forgotten all about. There are some nice ones of Rangeley and Mexico, but there's also this one, taken from our own back deck. There's no place like home.

(Not to worry: I have enough sky pictures for several years of Saturdays.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ten on Tuesday

Ten Superstitions, Traditions, and/or Personality Quirks
  1. I set my clock 15 minutes fast so that I have more time. My husband does not understand this. Neither do I, actually, but I still do it. (At one point I set the kitchen clock 5 minutes fast so that I'd have more time to get the kids on the school bus. It took him only one day to notice and set it back. C'est la vie.)
  2. I take the stairs instead of the elevator when leaving work, unless someone is already waiting for the elevator.
  3. During our Rangeley vacation I take a short swim every morning at about 7:15, rain or shine, regardless of temperature, which has been known to be less than 50 degrees. (All right, I wouldn't in a thunderstorm, but so far there's never been one.)
  4. Predicting an undesirable outcome of the next play during a sporting event (e.g. "A-Rod's going to hit a home run now," or "Brady's going to get sacked") vastly increases the probability that that outcome will occur.
  5. All the socks I knit have short-row heels worked on slightly more than half the stitches.
  6. I read the same books over and over. (Has anyone read T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton? I think I found a mistake on about the eighth reading.)
  7. Miss B and I have gone to every Maine Fiber Frolic (except one -- I don't remember why we missed it that one time). Other activities may vary, but we never miss the llama drill team.
  8. If sharing a bed, I prefer the right side (looked at from the foot of the bed).
  9. Marjorie, my stepmother, and I play Boggle and skip-bo whenever we see each other. (Miss B often joins us.)
  10. I've never knitted someone else's pattern exactly as written. (I got pretty close with the sweater for Peru, but I ended up doing ribbing instead of rolled edges.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tree Love

Remember the red maples with the different types of flowers that I thought were two species? Roxie, who is very clever despite not being a trained botanist, had it right: those are male and female trees of the same species, Acer rubrum.

I knew that most angiosperms (flowering plants) included both male and female parts in every flower. These, I learn from Wikepedia, are called bisexual, hermaphroditic, or synoecious. Some plants like holly are dioecious, having separate male and female plants, but I didn't expect to find this somewhat exotic arrangement in the ordinary red maple.

The first picture shows male flowers with an anther at the end of each stamen (how about that? guys really do have all the anthers); the second shows female flowers with red pistils. The male flowers fall off, while the female ones become samaras, those little helicopter things we loved to play with as kids. (My brother and I used to put them on our noses and call ourselves Pinocchio.)

You never know what you'll learn while blogging about random subjects. Thanks to Alwen and Lisa for the technical terminology (dioecious would make a great Scrabble word, except for having nine letters; but you might get lucky and have us already on the board). And Roxie, of course, is clever about everything, including hats as well as trees. You should see what she wore to the Harlot's event in Portland.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Season of Plenty

Until a few days ago I didn't know for sure if I would make it to CTSW. I'd never been before, largely because for some reason I'd believed it to take place in the extreme southwestern corner of Connecticut, too far away for an easy day trip, and, with only so many parent brownie points to spend, I am all about the day trips. Even after learning the error of my ways I was still dithering, until Julie very kindly offered me a ride; all I had to do was show up at her house at 6:30 am. Which I did; I even fed Taz and showered before leaving home. I think I missed festival season more than I knew. We picked up Debbi and arrived at the festival promptly at 9; Julie and Debbi hurried off to find a demo they wanted to see, and I followed at a more leisurely pace.

CTSW is the smallest festival I've been to recently (I think the Fiber Frolic was smaller when it started, but it's been growing every year). This is by no means a bad thing: you can check out all of the vendors, watch a demo or two, and still have time to hang out and knit.

We watched a bit of the sheepdog trials.

The dogs were amazing as always. I almost wish we had enough land for sheep so I'd have something for a border collie to do. As it is we have nothing to herd but cats, and you know where that leads.

There was a bobbin-lace demo. My SIL used to make bobbin lace, but I think she gave it up. It looks like an awful lot of work, but the lace sure is pretty.

Baby angora bunnies remind me of tribbles; if there's anything softer I'd like to know what it is. These tiny ones were bent on escape; the kid whose 4H project they were quickly put them back in their cage when they started trying to squeeze under the edge of their little enclosure.

We ran into a whole skein of knitters, including Jess, Bev, and Manise (ssb), but my camera's battery chose that exact moment to die with a pitiful whimper, and it refused to deal with the new one I'd brought until I charged it. (Lesson learned.) So I didn't get any people pix, but you can find them (where else?) on other blogs. (All the very nice folks I met at the Ravelry meetup? I swore I would remember all your names, and they're all gone except Jen's. If you're reading this, leave a comment, willya?)

I did take one more picture after I got home, though: The Loot. Does anyone remember the name of the vendor selling those terrific batts? They were the first thing I saw while ambling after my traveling companions, and, being totally unable to resist this blue-purple one (surprise!), I hovered around until the vendor finished setting up, fearing that the blues might be all gone when I got back.

Sock yarn, check, Turkish spindle, check, but what's that boring-looking little brown skein? you may be asking. It's a bison-cashmere-qiviut blend, and it's heavenly. I got it at Still River Mill, egged on by a very evil brazenly enabling kind friend. Laurie's friend Connie was there too, and I last saw her getting her first spinning lesson from Marcy, having bought her first spindle a short time before. I tell you, do not get near Laurie at a festival. She is dangerous.

After the festival we repaired to Diane's house, where, in company with various knitters and spinners, we watched Judy demo my new Turkish spindle. The vendor had explained its mysteries to me rather quickly, but it was great to see it in action in the hands of a master. Thanks, Judy! And thank you, Diane, for such a gracious welcome and terrific goodies. (You haven't lived until you've tasted Diane's blueberry tart.)

So who's going to New Hampshire?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday Sky

Connecticut was great fun, and man, am I tired. Full report tomorrow.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Eye Candy Friday

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Status Quo

Taz and I spent what seemed like a very long day at Children's. I must be getting old. But the news, I guess I should say the absence of news, is very good: status is quo. I finished another square and a half for Cindy, most of the half while stuck in traffic on Brookline Ave. If the Sox are going to ensnarl me in postgame traffic the very least they could do is win.

The weekend decision was made for me: it turns out Grant has a rehearsal Sunday afternoon, so Connecticut, here I come. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Impulse Power Only

Tomorrow I will take Taz to Children's for his annual MRI and clinic checkup. Statistically, by now, nine years from completion of radiation, this should be nearly a formality, with no great anxiety required.

Right. Try telling that to my brain. I think I'm doing just fine, not worried at all, but day by day more and more circuits occupy themselves with freaking out and with telling myself I'm not freaking out, and the next thing I know I have barely enough functional neurons to walk straight.

Maybe I should try the trick Kirk would use on the original Star Trek whenever an alien intelligence tried to take over the ship's computer. Kirk would tell the computer to calculate π to the last digit, the computer would slavishly obey, and eventually the alien would be expelled from the computer and the ship, Kirk would tell the computer "you can stop now," and all would be well again. So help me worry about something less fraught: I can go to Connecticut Sheep & Wool on Saturday or to WEBS on Sunday to see the Harlot, but I can't do both. Which should I pick? Convoluted arguments are encouraged.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Miss B-Day

This makes an even dozen Earth Day birthdays for my favorite girl. Happy birthday, sweetie!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spin with Lynne

On Friday Grant and Miss B left on a long-weekend jaunt, leaving me and Taz to hold down the fort. It was looking like a very quiet weekend, until Lynne arrived on Saturday afternoon with her wheel and a big bag of wool.

We sat in the front yard and spun for a couple of hours; the kids playing ball across the street eyed us now and then, although (being boys) they didn't actually speak to us.

Achilles, on the other hand, did speak to us and did his best to entertain us, with a little help from the catnip plant.

Is there more? I don't think I'm grassy enough yet.

Lynne also gave me this beautiful roving. Note to self: invite Lynne over more often.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stupid Computer Tricks

Like a lot of bloggers, I take a lot of pictures. We have an elderly Kodak, a DX3900 I think, and while I do sometimes wish I had something with more oomph — when photographing an owl at 100 feet, for example — most of the time it's just fine.

When I say elderly I mean that we bought the camera in 2002, which, if you will cast your mind back, you will realize in normal calendar time was not that long ago (we had the same president we do now, heaven help us), but in technotime was somewhere in the Paleozoic. But if it ain't broke, as the saying goes, and I keep happily clicking away, being thankful that my 19 out of 20 "meh" shots aren't a waste of film. Now and then I take one I really like, and occasionally I even say to myself "that's so nice I should use it as wallpaper."

Friday's tree shot was one of these, and I got motivated not only to set it as wallpaper but to see if there might be free software that I could use to cycle through some of my favorite pix. Turns out there is plenty of it; I'm using this one, which seems to be fairly basic, but, like the camera, it does its job. So now instead of Windows fish I have this

and this

and this

and of course Rangeley Lake gets in there too...

there are more of them, but you get the general idea.

That last one just blisses me right out.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday Sky: (Horti)culturally Clueless

We found out yesterday that I'd been calling red maples by the wrong name all these years. I beg their pardon: being chronically misaddressed myself, I ought to know better. (My blog name is something of a three-word rant: Lucia rhymes with fuchsia, not with idea, in my case at least.) I've also always thought that there were two species with charming little red flowers. There's the one with the yellow stamens, as seen yesterday and above.

A tree in full bloom looks almost like it has orange fur.

But there's another type of flower, which has red stamens (I think those are stamens) with no obvious anthers.

I don't know how well you can see these, but they're markedly different from the yellow-stamened kind.

Lisa? Alwen? Do you have any anthers, er, answers?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Eye Candy Friday: Redbud Maple

While I know they're about as rare as wool at Rhinebeck, I've always loved the flowers of the redbuds maple. There seem to be at least two common species in New England — Lisa can undoubtedly identify all of them by both vernacular and scientific names — and I took a whole whack of pix of them in the gorgeous weather we've been having lately, with Saturday in mind. Consider the above a taste of things to come.

Note: I stand corrected. I've always called the maples that make these flowers redbud maples or just redbuds. As Alwen points out, they are in fact red maples, and the redbud is a whole different critter. You learn something new every day. I will still have more pix of, um, those trees there tomorrow.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


We're having our house painted, and high time too. We should have had it done two years ago, and we didn't get to it, and last year we got into the painter's queue but didn't quite make it to the top. So behold a house that really, really needs painting, being depainted before being painted. Some of my neighbors did inquire, after the depainting had begun, what we were about, and were relieved to hear that we didn't plan to leave the house in that state for long.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Name That Tune

The movie meme that made the rounds a few weeks ago was so much fun (although I could only identify the really easy ones that dozens of people got before me) that I'm branching out into song lyrics.

The rules: Below are ten first lines of songs (using the term "song" quite loosely in some cases). You name the song and either its author or at least one artist or group who performed it, I cross the line out, identify the song and put your name in lights. And, again, looking them up is cheating, please don't. I'll add one more caveat: if you have total recall of every lyric you've ever listened to, sung, hummed, or overheard mentioned on the subway (not that I am thinking of anyone in particular here), please limit yourself to one identification, at least for the first 24 hours.

I think some of these are very easy, some are obscure. It'll be interesting to see what goes first.

1. Getting crazy on the waltzers, but it's the life that I choose

2. It's the 10th of January and I still ain't had no sleep

3. A long, long time ago, I can still remember American Pie, Don McLean, Zana

4. Hello, baby, hello Harmony, Elton John, Julie

5. O Freunde, nicht diese Töne! Ninth Symphony/Ode to Joy, Beethoven, CDG

6. Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone Fire and Rain, James Taylor, Mbr (do you have a blog? Blogger tells me nothing)

7. Feelin' better, now that we're through You're No Good, Linda Ronstadt, Chris

8. I am just a poor boy, though my story's seldom told The Boxer, Simon and Garfunkel, Margene

9. The lamp is burning low upon my tabletop Song for a Winter's Night, Gordon Lightfoot/Sara McLachlan, Carole

10. Comfort ye, comfort ye my people Messiah, Handel, Ruth

Knitting? What knitting? One of these days I'll have knitting to show you. Really.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Quit That

Because I've been staring down the barrel of a big work deadline, with that black hole getting ever closer, I haven't been as good a citizen of blogland as I would like. I'll be back to my regular round of reading and commenting soon, I swear. I'd better be.

This same issue has made it hard to come up with blog fodder (have you noticed the dearth of knitting posts lately? yeah, me too), so again I turn to Ten on Tuesday, since today's is another easy one: ten favorite movie comedies.

Without further ado:
  • King of Hearts The only movie I've seen in a theater more than five times.
  • A Fish Called Wanda Don't call me stupid!
  • The Birdcage/La Cage Aux Folles When I saw The Birdcage I was eight months pregnant with Miss B. Thought there would be a blessed event right there in the theater, I was laughing so hard.
  • There's Something About Mary Raunchy, tasteless and... funny. I even forgive it the one horribly sexist scene where, if I'd been Mary, I'd have said, "Show me where it says I have to pick one of you. Out, you pack of losers, everybody out!"
  • The Producers I'm hysterical and wet!
  • The Truth About Cats and Dogs As Roger Ebert said, you can't help laughing at a dog on roller skates.
  • Tootsie Not the first and by no means the last of many great movies starring serious well-known actors in drag.
  • While You Were Sleeping Great stars. Also great supporting characters. (Who told?)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail Couldn't I have just a little peril?
  • The Princess Bride For my next birthday I want a ROUS.
So what did I miss? What would you put in, and what would you take out?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Five Pounds of True Love

You may recall my mentioning that the Diet From Hell does not allow chocolate. This is not strictly true: it forbids dark chocolate, if you ask me the only chocolate worthy of the name, but it does allow white chocolate.

White chocolate may be a pale imitation of the real thing, but one learns to make do; one may in fact get so good at it that one's husband expresses a certain dismay at one's rate of consumption, and suggests that one might try abstaining, at least for a day or two. (I insist on Ghirardelli white chocolate, which at least contains actual chocolate liquor. Did you know that until recently the government had no labeling standard for white chocolate, and that it was perfectly legal to sell a concoction of sugar, vanilla, and various unpronounceable substances as white chocolate? Not even Ghirardelli sells white chocolate chips; it sells a product now labeled "classic white chips," innocent of actual chocolate ingredients. If you know where I can find the genuine article, chip-wise, for heaven's sake say so.)

Thus it was that this evening as Miss B was asking her dad to pick up a couple of things at the grocery store, I said, "Tell him I'm out of something."
"Out of what?" she asked.
"He'll know," I said. Whether he'll do anything about it, I thought, is another question.

Some people think there's no point in being too predictable.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Captains of Industry

I'm not sure, but I think the thing just to the left of center in the pond is a beaver lodge. They used to have a dam right across the waterfall, which rearranged things a bit, but it eventually got washed away. Being clueless in the field of beaver behavior, I don't know why they didn't rebuild it, but I have to admit it's nicer not to have the path flooded out most of the time.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Sky: Wait 15 Minutes

Miss B and I went for a walk late this afternoon, after a day that began with rain, turned warm and sunny, and then featured thunderstorms interspersed with blue skies and fair-weather clouds. I took a bunch of brook and woodland pix, but I'll save those for another day, in favor of the one that captures the essence of New England springtime, this most changeable of seasons. If you don't like New England weather, wait 15 minutes, the saying has it, but sometimes you don't have to wait even that long: you can get clear blue yonder, fair-weather clouds tinged sunset pink, and gloomy rain clouds all in a single sky.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Randomly musing on politics recently, I decided to check this political quiz out and see if my score had changed at all. (I don't remember now where I saw the quiz originally; I think it was probably linked on one of the political blogs I read.) It's an interesting quiz, as it charts the standard left-right economic axis but also adds an up-down authoritarian-libertarian axis — so that Stalin and Hitler, for example, are both authoritarian, but Stalin is far to the left on the economic axis.

The quiz consists of statements that you're asked to agree or disagree with; there's no "no opinion" or middle option, so that if you can't give a clear-cut answer, you have to pick the closest choice. Since I hate being phone-polled because I'm always required to answer yes or no, there being no box on the pollster's form for "it depends," it's not surprising that I have a lot of trouble with some of the questions. My guess, however, is that the quiz is set up that way on purpose, to make you think and split differences (whereas I think phone polls are set up to be easy to tabulate and turn into Powerpoint presentations).

In any event, reversing the ususal pattern, I seem to be drifting leftward with age: a year or two ago I was around -5, -6, I think, and today I came in at -6, -7. If I had to explain this, I'd probably blame it partly on Bush, partly on Enron, the latter case being an excellent argument against unregulated capitalism if you ask me, although hardly anyone ever does. I don't know if that's the right explanation, though; it could also be that I'm simply getting crabbier.

On an entirely different note, since it is Friday (I'm cutting this one close), here are some of those little blue things I was talking about the other day. All previous blue-flower pix have been from years past, but I took this one today; this isn't squill, but that too is coming right along.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sole Survivor

Shadow by Achilles. Luckily cats don't eat crocuses.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Cats Gone Bananas


Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Well, not quite, or I wouldn't be writing this, but I just finished reading a piece by Christiane Amanpour on cnn.com about Van Nath, a former inmate of Tuol Sleng Prison under Pol Pot. Asked if waterboarding was torture, Van Nath said:
Yes, it is severe torture. We could try it and see how we would react if we are choking under water for just two minutes. It is very serious.

Experts on all sides of the question — former prisoners, former military interrogators, human-rights activists, retired generals — agree that waterboarding is torture, as are a number of other "harsh interrogation techniques" our government has used on prisoners.

How can anyone not get this? What kind of country have we become, where only 32 percent of the population thinks that torture is never justified, and 46 percent thinks that it is sometimes or often justified?

I don't... I can't... speechless.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Spring finally arrived in our yard last week, in the form of three clumps of lovely purple crocuses.

Make that one clump.

At least the little blue things are coming up all over the place. (I used to know their real name. Star of Holland? Something like that.) Do deer like little blue things?

I sure hope not.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


A thousand thousand blessings on my darling husband, who took the kids out for brunch and errands this morning, leaving my bad cold-germ-factory, snot-filled self to hold down the home front. (I'm sorry I missed you, Sunday knitters, but truly, it's better this way.) In due time they returned, and Miss B brought the groceries in while Grant changed Taz and tucked him in for a nap, telling him, "See if you can spend the next couple of hours not leaking."

I have done nothing whatsoever productive today, except laundry. The Random Laundry Generator is no respecter of illness.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Saturday Sky: Great Expectations

Have you seen Roxie's magnolia pictures? In the Pacific Northwest the magnolias are blooming in all their voluptuous glory. Here in New England we just have buds, but they're getting bigger every day. In a few weeks the tall trees will be sporting tiny leaves, and my neighbor's magnolia will have its day in the sun.

I took the train into Cambridge today for my double knitting class hosted by the lovely Lucy at Mind's Eye Yarns.

The class was taught by the double-knitting Master himself. (I got a close look at his amazing triple-knit cable hat. It's amazing.) We'll be knitting a hat in the round in two-color reversible double knitting. We made a gauge swatch, casting on using a technique that was new to me, then cast on for the hat. I got as far as knitting the first round, so I didn't bother taking a picture of it, especially as I may have to frog if I turn out to have the wrong number of stitches after I figure out what motif(s) to use. There will be much experimental charting. We have a little over a month before the second half of the class to chart and knit the hat up to the beginning of the decreases.

It looks like I'm in for a busy spring.

Friday, April 04, 2008


You knew it had to happen, right?

I didn't see Stephanie's post until late Tuesday afternoon, and I hadn't brought my camera to work, so the sock had to wait until yesterday to meet Gymnast Dude.

I was thinking about finding more photo opportunities in the office park, but I had to stop, because Grant was waiting for me...

...and the sock had gone to pot.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

By Acclamation

The duckie would like to thank all who voted, and promises to keep things clean and on an even keel. Seeing how the voting was going, and because, truth to tell, she was my favorite too, I added her this afternoon.

By the way...

69 words


I had to stop trying to break 70. Can you say "carpal tunnel"?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sock on the Water

(and other miscellaneous adventures in footwear)

The long-lost inchoate sock (last seen at Rhinebeck) surfaced and sallied forth bravely with me today in search of a suitable entry for Stephanie's contest (international freestyle category, of course, since the chances of my getting to Toronto any time this decade are on a par with the likelihood that George W. Bush will admit to ever having made a mistake). And we did get some pictures, but I really can't decide which one to use.

Rubber duckie, you're so fine...

Come sail away with me.

The town conservation chairman thinks I am a bit, um, unusual, but is willing to share some local history with the sock.

There's nothing like a well-stocked public library.

Susan the reference librarian thinks I am perhaps a trifle strange, but appreciates the sock's scholarly aspirations.

The sock works on its circus act...

...and exhibits a sense of the macabre.

Any opinions? (Not that knitters have opinions or anything.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ten on Tuesday

This will be my first Ten on Tuesday; although I've seen it around quite a bit, I hadn't been tempted to use it, but today I have nothing else to write about, and I couldn't resist the topic: Ten Things You'd Fix in Your Home (if you had the time and money). We will actually be doing #1 this summer.

  1. Get the house painted already. (We let this go too long last year and almost made it to the top of the painter's queue, but not quite.)

  2. One word: curtains.

  3. Sand and revarnish the hardwood floors, which have suffered mightily from incontinent cats and children.

  4. Respackle and repaint the inside walls where the foot plates of Taz's wheelchair gouged them. (There's a gouge all around the first floor, including some of the furniture, about six inches high.)

  5. Replace the scarred laminate kitchen countertop, with granite, of course. Actually, never mind that, we have the money, right?: build an addition, turn part of the current kitchen into a mud room, and put in a new kitchen with a decent-size pantry, the abovementioned granite countertops, and a propane stove.

  6. Use some of that extra space for a laundry room.

  7. And the rest for a family room/den.

  8. On the second floor of the addition, enlarge Miss B's room.

  9. And add a study for Grant.

  10. Replace the horrible Laura Ashley wallpaper in the master bedroom with a more muted pattern in a warm color.
It's not easy to stop at ten, is it? I could go on listing stuff forever, like repapering the bathrooms, landscaping the front yard, not to mention the back yard, getting the rugs professionally cleaned, and... so what would you do?