Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Please donate to hurricane relief.

Please donate here. These people need all the help we can give and more.

Our four-footed friends need help, too. Please donate to the Humane Society of the United States to help with animal rescue efforts.

One more thing--I'm not a praying person myself but, if you are so moved, please pray for those in harm's way and those who work to rescue them.

The Prayer of The Lady of All Peoples

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father,
send now your Spirit over the earth.
Let the Holy Spirit live
in the hearts of all peoples,
that they may be preserved
from corruption, disaster
and war.
May the Lady of All Peoples,
who once was Mary,
be our Advocate. Amen.

From the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:
Oh God, merciful and compassionate, who art ever ready to hear the prayers of those who put their trust in thee; Graciously hearken to us who call upon thee, and grant us thy help in this our need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This was a prayer written for the tsunami victims, but it certainly fits today:

A Special Prayer for Times of Disaster

Dear Lord of mercy, hear our prayer,

You are strength to those who suffer and comfort to those who grieve. Let their prayers be raised to your loving grace.

We pray for those who are ill, suffering, lost and in need of your healing light.

Make the weak strong, the sick healthy, the broken whole, and let those who are serving them act in the name of your love.

To all those in distress, grant them mercy, grant them relief, grant them refreshment, give them hope in this hour of tragedy.

As they begin to rebuild, we entrust their loved ones to your care.

Give them strength and new purpose to keep going in life and bless them with a new and bright tomorrow.

Surround those who have been shaken by disaster with a sense of your present love, and hold them in faith.

Though they are lost in grief, may they find you and be comforted;

Through Jesus Christ who was dead, but lives and rules this world with you, hear our prayer.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hurricane coverage

I think I've just about hit my limit on hurricane coverage. I've been listening to the television feeds from Louisiana off and on since Saturday afternoon, and seeing all the photos of the destruction has just been overwhelming. Even so, it wasn't until I saw a photo of a dog sitting on a piece of debris, all by himself, floating alongside what may have been his home, that I lost it. I wonder how many thousands of animals have been killed. I had read somewhere earlier today that the NO Aquarium had been totally destroyed, and I don't think they moved any of the animals except the dolphins, which were transported to area hotel pools.

It's unbelievable to think that New Orleans and half of the Gulf coast is gone. I keep thinking back to the May 3, 1999 tornado here in Oklahoma City. Right before it became totally dark that night, after the worst was over, I remember area TV helicopters flying over the damage and the reporters being absolutely speechless at what they were seeing. Miles and miles of destruction, and that can't possibly compare to what has happened now.

But you know, everything will be okay--our Beloved Leader is cutting his vacation short to supervise the recovery effort. Of course, this was after he played golf and had cake yesterday and gave a war speech and played the guitar today. All that while people are losing their lives, drowning in New Orleans, Gulfport, and all over the Gulf coast.

After all, he has to "live his life."

I'm sure he'd been there in a minute if there'd been a photo-op involved.

Oh, and George--thanks for not releasing any of those oil reserves to temporarily help us at this critical time. Gas in some parts of the city hit $3 a gallon today.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

"Deep Impact" - The Hurricane Version

I can't stop watching the weather coverage on WWL Television, and I feel like I'm watching a sequel to "Deep Impact." This is just incredible. I hear the mayor say earlier today that it would take at least two weeks to drain the water out of the city and at least six weeks to get power back on. Then you read about the potential for caskets to be washed into the streets because so many people are buried above ground in New Orleans. I don't think you could write such a horrible scenario.

And then you read this on WeatherTalk:


It almost sounds like the aftermath of a nuclear attack, doesn't it?

I've only been to New Orleans once, and it was over twenty years ago, but I absolutely loved it. It was such a beautiful place, and it's hard to think of it being so totally destroyed. God bless those people.

Blog Depression - a public service pamphlet

Blog Life Crisis

I think this is very important for all bloggers to read--you may not need it now, but it never hurts to be prepared.

This lace stuff is kicking my butt . . . .

Why am I having such a problem with this? I did manage to get through one pattern repeat yesterday, but ten rows took almost FOUR HOURS. I'm beginning to get a little frustrated. However, it looks as if I'm not alone. Blissful Knitter is having the same problems I am--it's nice to know I'm not the only one. I think a lot of my problem comes on the purl rows--some stitches will stick together and you don't realize you've knitted them together until you've started the next pattern row. I'm trying to be a little more caution on the purl rows, and I hope that will help. I'd really like to get this shawl done before I'm eligible for AARP (not that that's that far away, mind you, but still . . . .).

I've been watching a live stream from WWL TV in New Orleans this morning--the mayor just called for a mandatory evaluation of the city, the first time in history. Hurricane Katrina is now showing winds of 175 mph--unbelievable. This sounds like it's going to be a storm of epic proportions. Some people who are unable to get out are being allowed to stay in the Superdome. Can I just say that I would rather sit in an open ditch than in the Superdome during a storm? The very idea makes my stomach churn--too big of a place for me, that's for sure. When I was a kid, my cousins lived for a few years in Houma, which is southwest of New Orleans. I know there were storms while they lived there, but nothing like this. No wonder they ended up moving back to Oklahoma.

Yesterday the reporters mentioned that this was move-in weekend for students at Tulane, so the town was full of new students and their parents trying to get them ready for the first day of school on Monday. I bet that was a big shock to realize you're sending your kid to school right in the path of what may be one of the biggest hurricanes in US history. I wonder how many suddenly decided they wanted to go to college closer to home?

Listening to this makes me perfectly happy to live in Tornado Alley--we may get devastating storms, but they don't last three to four days at a time. Yikes.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Shhh! It's a nice, quiet Saturday . . . .

It's become very cloudy in the last hour or so, and I guess we're going to get some rain. We've had so much rain lately that we could probably do without it, but as long as it keeps the temps down, I don't care. I've got the windows open, and it's very, very quiet--just what I need after the week I've had.

What is it that causes you to have days where it doesn't matter what you say or what your intentions were, they get interpreted totally the wrong way? That's pretty much been my experience this week. I won't go into it any more than that, but it was a totally exasperating and humiliating experience. Sometimes it's better to just keep your mouth shut.

I never did report on my booty from last week's shopping spree. I was able to scrounge up a little bit of money, so I didn't just have to sit and watch Missy buy stuff. We went to three stores, SWAK in Guthrie and Gourmet Yarn Co. and Carol's Knitting Studio in OKC. SWAK was having a sale, so of course we had to go there first. I bought the last two balls they had of Debbie Bliss Merino Aran in dark blue--I thought I could make some fingerless gloves with it. I also found Ann Norling's "Big Cardigan" pattern, which gives you several different options and gauges for a sweater. I have some Lion Brand Woolease Thick & Quick in Cranberry that I've been saving for a cardigan, and I think this is the pattern I'm going to use. I'm not big on sweaters anymore, but I can always use a cardigan.

My best purchase at SWAK was a great little bag from Nancy's KnitKnacks. It's a denim bag with plaid fabric pockets inside. It wasn't until I got home that I realized that the bag is made so that you can wear it around your waist while you knit! It's quite cute. It also has a laminated tag hanging on the outside that has instructions for kitchener stitch on it. It's the perfect size for something small, like a pair of socks. How could I resist that?

After a quick lunch, we drove back to the city to Gourmet Yarn Co. I'm happy to see how well this store is doing; they seem to have developed quite a clientele. I bought two skeins of a yarn I hadn't seen before, TwoTwo by Classic Elite yarns, 3 sts/inch, in a dark red. I thought it would match or come close to the scarf I made last winter from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran--it's a little darker, but it still works, for more fingerless gloves--can you tell I like fingerless gloves? However, it matches that Woolease Thick & Quick perfectly, so I was fated to buy it, I guess.

At this point, we were running short on time, so we dashed down to Carol's Knitting Studio on south side. I have to tell you, this is the second time we've been there, and I'm really very impressed by the yarns she has in stock. Carol is carrying Lorna's Laces, Cherry Tree Hill, Blue Sky Alpaca, Brown Sheep, Mountain Colors, and even Opal sock yarns in the self-patterning, handpainted, and solid colors. If you want some really wonderful stuff, this is the place to go.

I have to say I have found my very favorite thing in the world there--American Buffalo yarn. This stuff is amazing. Yes, it's buffalo fiber, processed in Oklahoma, and it's a beautiful light chocolate color (black and white colors are coming shortly). Skeins come in two types, 2-ply lace weight and 3-ply sport weight. What makes this really amazing is that after your finish your project, you put it in the washing machine for a few minutes in warm water, towel dry it and then pop it into the dryer for a couple of minutes, and the fabric becomes very similar to cashmere. I'll say it again--it's truly amazing. Carol had a sample there to fondle, and it was absolutely exquisite. This yarn is not cheap, but I cannot resist going back and buying some for some gloves or somesuch thing. I'm sure I left drool marks all over that store--between the buffalo and all the other wonderful yarns she had, I could have spent a fortune, that's for sure.

Carol's is located at 9300 South Pennsylvania, and it's definitely worth the trip. Be forewarned, though--bring cash or your checkbook, because she doesn't take credit cards.

There just weren't enough hours in the day to get to Norman to Luff's, so we decided to leave that trip for another day. When I got home I found that that was a bad move--Luff's was having a sale!!! That meant we missed the only place in town that sells Koigu--and it was on sale! Oh well, by that point I was out of money, so I couldn't have bought much anyway, but dang, it's hard to pass up a deal like that.

So I hope you have a quiet, peaceful Saturday to rest and recouperate from the week. Maggie and I are going to do our best to enjoy every minute of it.

PS--if you're looking for something in the realm of an alternative religion, maybe the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is for you. Apparently Pastafarianism is really catching on . . . .

PSS--A little birdie told me a great big fat secret yesterday--but mum's the word for now!!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Great White Hunters have returned!!!

We're hot and tired and cranky, but we're back from the great fiber chase. Missy's happy mojo at being free from the Crackhead Son was shattered when she walked in the door and realized she had to be "Mom" again. Me, I hightailed it out to the car and headed home before she corralled me into staying to watch the fun.

I was able to scrounge up a few bucks to spend, and I'll go into that later. Unfortunately, the biggest expense of the day was filling up my car--15.169 gallons at $2.539/gal equals $38.51.

I thought I would croak.

Luckily, a tank of gas can last me 3-4 weeks if I don't have a lot of running around to do, so I'm luckier than most, but still--geez! Think of the yarn that would buy . . . .

Friday, August 19, 2005

Saturday Road Trip!!!

Tomorrow Missy and I are headed both north and south--north to SWAK in Guthrie (there's a SALE!), and then back south to Gourmet Yarn Co. and Carol's Knitting Studio. Unfortunately, I am more broke than the speed limit on the Hefner Parkway, so I pretty much plan on acting as the cheering section for Missy's purchases. I had planned on babysitting the Crackhead (aka Missy's son), but her husband is going to take care of him, so we are free as the breeze, baby!!!

I shall report back from the field as to what transpires.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Misguided priorities . . . .

Bush defends ignoring protest

"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job,'' Bush said on the ranch. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say.''

"But,'' he added, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life.''


In addition to the two-hour bike ride, Bush's Saturday schedule included an evening Little League Baseball playoff game, a lunch meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a nap, some fishing and some reading.

"I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy,'' he said when asked about bike riding while a grieving mom wanted to speak with him. "And part of my being is to be outside exercising.''

"So I'm mindful of what goes on around me,'' Bush added. "On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live and will do so.''


Wow, being President is SUCH hard work!!! It's nice to know that a bike ride and a nap are more important than meeting with a grieving mother. It really IS all about him . . . .

Okay, one more . . . .

Bossy Little Dog: Oh, how interesting.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Washington finally gets a clue?

U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq

The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."


"We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic," said another U.S. official familiar with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. "That process is being repeated all over."

U.S. officials now acknowledge that they misread the strength of the sentiment among Kurds and Shiites to create a special status. The Shiites' request this month for autonomy to be guaranteed in the constitution stunned the Bush administration, even after more than two years of intense intervention in Iraq's political process, they said.

"We didn't calculate the depths of feeling in both the Kurdish and Shiite communities for a winner-take-all attitude," said Judith S. Yaphe, a former CIA Iraq analyst at the National Defense University.


Ironically, White said, the initial ambitions may have complicated the U.S. mission: "In order to get out earlier, expectations are going to have to be lower, even much lower. The higher your expectation, the longer you have to stay. Getting out is going to be a more important consideration than the original goals were. They were unrealistic."

Damn, I'm speechless . . . .

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I think I've finally found my lace mojo!!!

I had to frog 2 rows to correct an error, but I've now done 14 rows without any problems! Woo-hoo!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you--hold the applause, please!!!

And, to top it off, it's raining again--wheeeee!!!

Ahh, sweet relief . . . .

It started raining sometime early this morning and has tapered off in the last hour or so. It's in the low 70s at almost 12 noon, and we have a 50% chance of more rain today, so I've got the AC off and the windows open, listening to the birds at the feeder and opera on the radio. Ahhhh . . . .

This is my favorite type of day--overcast, cool, light breeze, and rain. I have more energy on a day like this than any other. I always tell people I must have been a mold spore in a previous life because I like it wet and cool. I'm hoping it doesn't make that high of 84 today.

Maggie's not feeling too well this morning. I had to give her two Benedryl when we went to bed last night because she couldn't settle down, and we had to get up once to go outside because she was sick. She did finally get under the covers and go to sleep, and she slept through the storms until we got up about 8. I think she hurt her shoulder yesterday afternoon. I was giving her a hug last night while we were sitting on the couch, and she whimpered and acted like it hurt. I wonder if perhaps when she jumped off the dishwasher door it bounced back and hit her. Anyway, she's been curled up in the chair all morning. Poor sweet baby!

What a great day to be at home--peaceful and quiet and cool . . . I'm planning on hitting the couch soon to knit.

Friday, August 12, 2005

TGIF, indeed . . . .

I left the office at 3 today because I needed to run a few errands. About 15 minutes after I left, a huge thunderstorm came through, dark sky and high winds, lightning and thunder, and lots of rain. Now Miss Maggie is deathly afraid of storms, especially bad ones, and she freaks out really badly when I'm not with her.

By the time I got home, she had gone nuts. It looked like she had tried to climb out the window in the dining room--she had knocked a medium-sized plant and a couple of candles off the windowsill, and dirt was everywhere. She did not, thank goodness, break the window. She also pulled the trash can in the kitchen out from the wall (I guess to hide behind) and somehow got the dishwasher door open and tried to climb inside it--luckily it was full, but she did pull a sharp knife and a spoon out of the silverware container. There was dog hair all over the dishwasher door.

So I have to clean all this up. I clean up the kitchen, get most of the dirt up from the carpet, and then go get the vacuum cleaner to finish the job. There was a little area I couldn't clean because it was wet, so I thought "Fine, I'll get that tomorrow." As I'm rewinding the cord onto the cleaner, I hit myself in the eye with the cord plug . . . .

If anybody needs me, I'll be back on Monday--I'm hiding for the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

GuestMap problems

I think the GuestMap feature is working now. If there are problems, please let me know. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Down but not out . . . .

We're still having 90-plus degree days, and it's starting to take its toll on my flowers and veggies. Here's my poor tomato plant:

Poor thing, it looks like someone took a blow torch to it. I'm still watering it, but I think it's a goner.

However, there is some good news--my grape tomato plant is blooming like crazy and actually has fruit on it:

I'm just not sure it's big enough to handle many tomatoes, but it's trying!

And my poor eggplant--I finally cut off the one fruit that was on it because it was just burnt up. I figured that was the end of that, but since then I have found five new blooms! Maybe it's just getting its second wind.

And I actually have knitting to show! Here is one completed gusset, finished on Sunday:

I did a simple k1 p1 heel, and it seems to be plenty stretchy enough. I'm not crazy about sl1 k1 heels--I like the way they look, but I tend to knit way too tight, and it hurts my hands when I knit.

Can I tell you how much I love this yarn? The yarn I used for my last pair of socks had issues with the color patterning in the white stripes. This Opal, however, does not have that problem-it just does what it wants. It looks really nice, and there are no futzing issues like before. It's pretty mindless, and I'm all about the mindless.

This is the modified stitch marker I spoke about earlier:

Using this to keep track of my rows really worked well--I think it's a keeper. This is one of a set of markers I made with bees and smiley suns.

There's a Yahoo Group, "Oklahoma Knitters," that's meeting tonight for the first time. Missy went, but I didn't go. Maybe next time. I think they're trying to meet on Saturdays, too.

We've been talking about going to south OKC and Norman for some yarn shopping, but we haven't committed to anything yet. We need to go soon because OU football starts the week after Labor Day, and there's no way I'd get close to Norman on a game day.

And, alas, the shawl has not progressed. I was so excited to have gotten through my gusset so easily that I couldn't put the sock down. I'm considering trying to pick it up again this week. Surely I can figure this out, can't I?


PS--the Guestmap is not working for some reason. I am trying to figure out what's wrong, but for right now, it's useless. I don't understand--it worked when I installed it . . . .

Saturday, August 06, 2005

To our visitors . . . .

It's an unbelievably wonderful feeling to know there are people out there in the "great beyond" reading Plains Girl. Maggie and I appreciate your visits, and we hope you will continue to drop by from time to time.

I've added a Bravenet GuestMap on the right side of the page. Please feel free to add a pin and leave a comment. It would be great to see where our visitors are from!

Again, thanks for visiting--we appreciate it!

KatyaR and Maggie

Sometimes the light bulb is a little slow . . . .

My biggest problem when knitting socks is working on the gusset. You knit and turn the heel, pick up all those stitches around the edge, and then alternate rows of decreases and straight knitting to get back to your original number of stitches. I can never keep track of whether I'm decreasing or just knitting a row--I usually keep a piece of paper and make tick marks as I go along. If there's an even number of marks, I'm on a decrease row; if it's odd, I'm on a knitting row.

Today something went off in this pea-sized brain of mine. I had been trying to figure out how to use a marker to show which row I was on, but I couldn't quite figure it out. Finally I realized--make it a removable marker! I took one of my pretty bead stitch markers and put a claw clasp on it. Now when I'm knitting a decrease row, I attach this to the center-heel marker that marks the beginning of the row. When I start the straight knit row, I move it to a decrease marker on the side.

Center heel--decrease this row

Side--knit this row

So far, so good--no mistakes so far!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wow, can I have one of these? - Needles pick up stitches to help knitters - Aug 3, 2005

Keeping track of where I am in a pattern is my worst problem--I'd love to try this out!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Actual Fiber Contentâ„¢

Since I obviously don't have any RECENT fiber progress to show, here's a photo of my first dyeing and felting project, the Kool-Aid Striped Felted Bag:

I've gotten a lot of complements on this bag. It's quite colorful and fun. It can hold a lot of stuff, and I like to use the lid from an extra-large container of margarine in the bottom to help it hold its shape.

I pretty much followed the color scheme with the striping as stated with the pattern, but I did have to adjust it a little because I ran out of some colors. I also added a flap by picking up some stitches on one side of the top and knitting a long stripe with whatever colors I had left.

There are several very good internet references on Kool-Aid dyeing, including this one and this one. I used the Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool and separated the skein out into approximate one-ounce skeins for dyeing purposes. I used a 9" glass baking dish and set the skeins in my microwave. I do recommend a few things:

1) Use heavy-duty rubber kitchen gloves--the lined kind are best. You will be dealing with not only the dye but very, very hot water and steam--you need to be careful and you need the protection.

2) Make sure that when you rinse your yarn after setting it in the microwave that you match the water to the temperature of the yarn. You should be able to match it just fine by feel. If your rinse water is too cool, your yarn will felt--not good!

3) Buy LOTS of Kool-Aid and dye more fiber than you think you'll need. I found, especially with the dark colors, that I sometimes had to dye the yarn more than once to get a darker, even color. You don't want to be in the middle of a big mess and run out of a color. Many times you can get Kool-Aid on sale--I've been able to buy 10 packets for a dollar. (You may also run into the fact that four different stores in the same company will not carry the same colors.) If you keep it cool and dry it will not spoil.

4) There seems to be a trick to the dyeing process. Maybe I used too much vinegar, I don't know, but there were times when it was difficult to get an even color. The yarn tends to absorb the dye immediately where you pour it and not so much when you're squishing it around in the mixture. (Yes, "squishing" is a scientific term.) Especially with the dark colors, you won't be able to always tell if you've gotten an even color until the yarn is dry--this is when it's good to dye it again. Of course, if you like the unevenness (and some of it can be very pretty), there's nothing wrong with leaving it that way.

5) Realize that your house will smell like fruit and vinegar for a few days afterwards. Not everyone likes this aroma, so you may want to open a window or two!

It's really just a matter of experimentation. You can probably ask seven people how they dye wool and you'd get seven different answers. The trick is just to try it and see what works for you. If nothing else, your resulting yarn will look very pretty displayed in a bowl as a centerpiece somewhere!

I've also tried dyeing with food coloring and unspun fiber and had different results. I think it's harder to get an even color with the fiber, but they still came out very pretty--almost jewel like in color:

These were from a fiber sample kit from Woodland Woolworks and are all different fibers. Some did better than others. If you're going to dye fiber, it's a good bet to do a little research into which ones will dye best.

My favorite reference for dyeing in general is the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook. If you love color and spinning and socks, THIS is definitely the book for you--mine has drool marks all over it. Most of the dyeing in this book is done with Lanaset dyes, and I've bought the "sock knitters' dye kit" from Sheep Hollow Farm & Fiber which has all the colors used in one of the book's examples. However, because these dyes are toxic, they have to be handled differently, and I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to do that in my apartment. I hope to try this in the fall.

As for the felting, this has a lot of good information. However, BEWARE--Rob felts his items loose in the washer. We found that using a zippered pillow cover contains the shedding, and we had no trouble getting things to felt. He's not kidding with those pictures in the article--you will seriously mess up your washing maching if you're not careful.

So now I've had Actual Fiber Contentâ„¢ on this blog--it's about time, don't you think?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Wow! Who woulda thunk?

You Are a Boston Terrier Puppy

Aggressive, wild, and rambunctious.
Deep down, you're just a cuddle monster.