on the needles

Friday, June 29, 2007

More Angel Fish

Our other Angel Fish couple, Ozzie and Harriet.

This is Ozzie. He is the Macdaddy of the tank. A large gorgeous male.

This is Harriet. She is slightly smaller than Ozzie. You can barely see her little orange lips in this photo. She looks like she has lipstick on.

When we got these guys we were told that the color was "black marbled" but I think because of the amount of orange they have they are probably really "koi". The person who had them before said she was trying to get them to breed but with no success. We had them for a week and they spawned so I think they are happy here!

I really love these fish. They are so smart. They recognise me and come up to beg for food. They each have their own personalities and habits. The tank is in our bedroom and it is so calming to lie in bed and watch them . Today Ozzie and Harriet are having domestic squabbles. They've been pushing each other around and trying to face each other down. Must be getting ready to spawn. :)

Rasputin and Nelson's eggs were gone this morning - eaten during the night. It's just as well since they weren't going to hatch anyway. Here's another photo of the lovely Rasputin. Click on the photo for a look at her pretty rust colored eyes. Can you tell she's a favorite with me? :)

Yep - as Becky noted, it is like Noah's Ark around here. We have two large fish tanks, one with the Angels and another that is destined for Discus. We also have a lizard (an old Bearded Dragon). Then there's my flock of about 20 finches and of course the dogs. We are definitely "animal people".


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wires Wires Everywhere

Here's the kitchen at the end of the rough electrical.

Wires in the ceiling.

Wires in the walls.

Drywall starts tomorrow and they CLAIM they will hang it all on Friday. Do all the coats on Monday & so be finished by Tuesday. Do we believe them? Not so much. But I am interested in seeing how they fix drywall in situations like this:

All I'm sayin is it better look good.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's Hot and Dusty Round Here...

Oh the chaos. I'm so over it.

We've had four days of electrical work. Mucho pounding, sawing and drilling. Many wires hanging everywhere and bits all over the floor. It's dusty and hot because we are keeping the doors shut to try to minimize the dust transfer. Supposedly drywall starts at the end of the week so I have alot more dust to look forward to - but at least that will be the end of the demolition mode and the beginning of restoration to normal. But I won't feel like we are on the downhill stretch until at least ONE, just one little new thing is installed. Just one piece of tile. That's all I want right now.

So - between the heat, dust and being sick there's been little knitting or anything fun like that.

How about some more photos as a distraction?

Remember I mentioned I got some Angel Fish?

Meet Rasputin. She is a gorgeous black (obviously) fish. I like to think she is the evil genius of the tank.

This is Nelson. You can see he is missing one of his fins. So I named him after Admiral Nelson who lost an arm in one of his battles at sea. (As an aside and a glimpse of the minutiae with which my brain is filled, Admiral Nelson was created Duke of Bronte by the King of Naples. Patrick Bronte, father of the famous Bronte Sisters,was a great admirer of Lord Nelson. Scholars have argued that Patrick took his last name from the Nelson-Bronte connection, the family name having previously been Prunty or O'Prunty.)

Nelson and Rasputin have spawned. They laid eggs yesterday on one of the broad leafy plants in their tank. Surprisingly they didn't eat the eggs over night and are guarding and caring for them assiduously. Unfortunately black Angel Fish + black Angel Fish = infertile eggs. So I doubt most of them will hatch although I am holding out some hope for the few eggs that do look fertile. It's only about 5 eggs total and they will probably get eaten if they do hatch. Sigh. Oh well.

And speaking of infertile eggs it looks like Ron and Rosmerta's eggs were all duds. Poor things they tried so hard!

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Monday, June 25, 2007


Dianne at Brit Knitter tagged me for the birthday meme so here it is....

I'm lazy so I'm just going to copy my favs from Wikipedia:

1556 - Thomas Cranmer is declared a heretic.
1779 - James Cook was killed by Native Hawaiians near Kealakekua on the Island of Hawaii.
1843 - The event that inspired the song Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! is held.
1849 - In New York City, James Knox Polk becomes the first serving President of the United States to have his photograph taken.
1895 - First performance of Oscar Wilde's last play The Importance of Being Earnest at the St James's Theatre in London.
1912 - Arizona admitted as the 48th U.S. state.
1920 - The League of Women Voters is founded in Chicago, Illinois.
1989 - Union Carbide agrees to pay $470 million to the Indian government for damages it caused in the 1984 Bhopal Disaster.
1989 - Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini issues a fatwa encouraging Muslims to kill the author of The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie.

1847 - Anna Howard Shaw, American suffragette (d. 1919)
1913 - Jimmy Hoffa, American labor union leader (disappeared 1975)
1944 - Carl Bernstein, American journalist
1947 - Tim Buckley, American singer-songwriter (d. 1975)
1948 - Teller, American magician (Penn and Teller)

1317 - Marguerite of France, queen of Edward I of England (b. 1282)
1400 - King Richard II of England (murdered) (b. 1367)
1975 - P. G. Wodehouse, English writer (b. 1881)
2003 - Dolly, first cloned mammal (b. 1996)

And some gratuitous cuteness:


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Kitchen: End of Week One

Geez - is that all it's been?

Demo is finished - thank the gods! Hopefully that means the loudest and messiest bit is over. New plumbing has been run and the electric work has started - after a 2 hour walk through. We're gonna have one well lit kitchen (and one monster bill! I'm pretty sure we're over budget on this one...)

To answer some questions - Yes, we have a contractor doing this. It's WAYYYYY beyond our capabilities. I hope it will pay off & so far I think it will. And yep - the kitchen was vintage 1980. Our house was what I lovingly call "a brass and glass monstrosity" when we moved in. If you lived in a hip house in the late 70's early 80's you know what I mean! *shudder* I wish I had taken a before photo of the wet bar (!?) we had in the family room (which is only like 5 steps from the kitchen and if you are that drunk or that lazy that you can't get up and walk 5 steps to the kitchen then you need to cut down on the alcohol buddy!). The wet bar was shiny black (painted over what had once been red!!) and had a huge mirror stuck to the wall with adjustable glass shelves mounted on it. NOW THAT'S what I mean by a brass and glass monstrosity. Perhaps it's better for everyone that I didn't post a before photo. Sometimes I wonder how I have managed to flourish despite living in a house with such a gawdawful soul sucking horror! (And we have ANOTHER wet bar in the basement. For crissakes couldn't Mr. Former Owner just carry his drink from room to room with him? At least all the wet bars provide some explanation for the decorating scheme...)

Oh well - the ugly wet bar is gone now & will shortly become a useful and much more sightly storage closet.

Keep your fingers crossed, but I think I am starting to feel a bit better. I'm glad I've still got Sunday to rest though.



Thursday, June 21, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes

Day One:

Can you recognize anything?

Pic #1 is where the kitchen sink used to be & #2 is where the cabinets in the nook used to be.

So far so good - although I did wake up on the start day with a massive sinus infection. Great timing eh? I guess I thought I'd just make this whole ordeal a little more...interesting. I haven't been this sick in awhile. :( I'm finally on antibiotics so cross your fingers for me that they work!


Monday, June 18, 2007


Here's a tour of our crappy old kitchen.

The crappy old stove:

It really sucks to clean those burners and the knobs and the downdraft and the-bit-I-can't-really-ever-get-to-in-the-back-because-it's-too-close-to-the-wall-and-my-sponge-won't-fit-in-there. Also featured is the super fugly hood that just vents straight back into the room. What good does that do?

The GREY tile back splash and the GREY tile floor. I won't miss you. Thanks for showing every teeny little speck of dirt and making us all feel drab and draggy in the morning.

The kitchen window:

The only thing I like about the old kitchen is this window. And our sink facet which is new (because we replaced the old one). It's got one of those cool hose handles.

Don't you just LOVE our grey counter top? It's so gross. I swear I think it's just particle board wrapped in a crappy laminate. Oh and the lack of baseboards around the cabinets. Heck why finish the work right? Sheesh!

The big window:

The only other plus in the kitchen is the big bay window. But just look at the end of the "L". No rounded corners. Just plunk that cabinet and counter top right there - don't bother making it fit right either.

But wait! There's more!

The weirdest piece of crap in the whole crappy kitchen - the desk:

Because we all need a desk - IN THE KITCHEN. WTF?

The worlds tiniest pantry and oldest living refrigerator:

The pantry is even smaller inside than it looks outside AND the door drags on the tile floor every time it's opened.

White fridge + kids = fingerprints. Isn't it fugly? Hoo-boy wait until you see the new fridge!! And yes, I totally did say hoo-boy. You will too. Trust me. :)

Here's where our new pantry will go:

The wall by the oven (on the left)is coming down and the whole area where the cabinets are will become the pantry. The "nook", as we call it, really serves no useful purpose right now.

A last look at the whole shebang:

I know it's gruesome - try not to gouge your eyes out. The funny thing is that when we moved in it was even uglier. The walls were papered in "gynecologist office" pale pink and blue wallpaper that was - gasp - textured. :(

Bye bye fugly kitchen. Your hours are numbered.

Construction starts 7:30 am tomorrow!


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bring On The Pain!

We are FINALLY starting our kitchen renovation - after seven months of planning and working. The whole thing is being gutted - floors and all. Some walls are coming down too. In addition, a pantry is being built just off the kitchen and a wet bar (fugly!) in the family room is being torn out and converted into an all purpose storage closet. Since the kitchen floor extends out into our entryway that is all being torn up as well. All told it's going to be a minimum of six weeks of sheer hell.

BUT our kitchen is SO going to rock when it is finished. I'll try to post some before photos so you can truly appreciate the transformation. Our current kitchen is basically an old piece of crap. All the appliances are old and on their last legs so it's a lucky thing we are getting rid of it all now.

We've spent the weekend clearing everything out - almost done!

I will most probably have a hard time posting during the construction so bear with me guys! I hope to be able to post some progress pictures along the way because misery loves company! :)

Do you think when I get the kick ass kitchen I will finally actually like cooking dinner? Yeah, I doubt it. But (knock on wood) hopefully the kitchen will look so good I won't mind spending more time in there. :)

Til next time. Wish me luck!!


Friday, June 15, 2007


I won!

Author Susan Higginbotham is having a contest over on her blog Reading, Raving and Ranting in which she is very generously giving away copies of the newest edition of her historical novel The Traitor's Wife. I've been wanting to get a copy for ages, so lucky me! The novel is set in the time period of Edward II and Susan is asking quiz questions regarding his life. If you get the right answer you get a chance to win a copy of the book.

So I told Hubby that he can't say that all of my obsessive reading about English Royal History never got me anything. :)

Of course he's still probably a bit peeved about trying not to trip over the endless stacks of history books piled up in our bedroom. I quickly outgrew those super nice shelves I bought....if I knew of an emoticon for blushing I'd insert one here....but since I don't....

I won!! Woo-hoo!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Front Garden

Some of you guys requested some pictures of our new plantings that I had talked about in our front garden. Hubbs took some photos for me. Isn't he sweet? He plants them AND takes photos for my blog. :) You can click on the photos to see them better.

Don't mind the hole in the photo - I edited out our house number. You can see my collection of succulents and cacti in the window. I love love love those weird and wonderful plants. That's my indoor garden. The jade in the middle was grown from a cutting I took from a jade owned by my father. His jade is about 25 years old! So it's very cool to me to have my own jade grown from it - like a Jade Vol.2. :)

So, the outdoor garden. The Hostas and the kind of ugly Azalea (I think) bushes are the old stuff.

The ones we just put in are:

The yellow and white flowered plants are the Achillea, commonly known as Yarrow. (I like that name better - sounds more Brother Cadfaelish and medieval). :)

The sort of spindly bushy stuff with the small purple flowers is the Walker's Low of the genus Nepeta. For some reason the Wiki on Nepeta doesn't mention Walker's Low so click on this link if you want to see what ours will look like when it fills in and grows bigger. That is, if the neighborhood cats don't crush it all by getting high on it and rolling in it. Walker's Low is a type of catnip (or catmint) - so yo,yo neighborhood kitties I got your stuff right here! ;) It also attracts butterflies (yay!) and bees (uh-oh!) so we'll see how smart it was to plant it so close to the front door. :)

The little clumpy evenly spaced plants in front of all the new stuff is Monarda, also known as Bee Balm or Bergamot. Ours have lovely thistley purple flowers.

I did some research in picking out these plants for our temperature zone etc. so here's hoping they make it through the winter and prosper. So far so good.

I, perhaps rather obviously, tend to like a more wild and natural look in gardens. So it was really nice to get some of that in amongst the order of the bushy hedges. The previous owner was apparently pretty hooked on them. Luckily one of the two by the front door died and so we ripped both out & like our more open look MUCH better.

Hope you like this little glimpse of my world. :)


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It's Here!!

My hubby has launched his website! You can now find all of his nostepinnes for sale at Flaming Lotus Creations. He also has a small (but growing) gallery of some of his other works AND he has just started making pens - so watch out!

We would love to hear your comments about the new site. Hubbs has instructed me to say Thank You to everyone who has left a comment or given feedback so far. It's SO helpful to hear your thoughts and we both really appreciate it!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Little Preview...

Here are some of the nostepinnes Hubbs has created recently. These will be for sale shortly at our new website (probably launching tomorrow!):

Each one is one of a kind and much much prettier in person. You can't properly see all the wonderful figure and patterns in the wood when it's only a photograph. Especially with the lighter woods. The nostepinne in the first picture, for example, has a gorgeous shine to it and the pattern in the wood seems to swirl as you turn it in your hand - so cool!

Anyhow - enjoy & we would love to hear any feedback! :)

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Request

Hubbs has been busily turning hunks o' wood into purty and useful things, making heaps of nostepinnes in advance of launching his Wood Turning Empire. Since he aims to please he would like some input from you guys - his potential customers. He asks:

If you were to buy a nostepinne, what information would you want on it?

1. Artist signature
2. Date
3. Wood type

Which of these do you think should be permanently on the nostepinne,
versus on a separate information card?

If you can leave your answers in the comments section he would be much obliged. :)

Saturday, June 09, 2007


There's a long story behind the reason for my long blog absence.

The short version is that it turns out that - in a colossal mix-up! - I've been taking the wrong medication. For a year and a half! And neither the doctor or the pharmacy wants to take the credit for being the one who screwed up. But that's not even the real kicker. The punch line of this ridiculous situation is that the medication I've been taking has a component that is, in the words of the doctor "a powerful tranquilizer".

Hello! No wonder I've been complaining to anyone who would listen (including several doctors) that I was tired - very very tired. All the time tired. So tired that I was starting to seriously think I had chronic fatigue syndrome!

The mix up with the medication was finally discovered when I went back to the doctor for a check in type visit. I had run out of medicine so he just wrote me a new prescription. When I got the new medicine I (of course!) noticed that these new pills looked different from the old pills. At first I just assumed that it must be the difference between generic and brand name pills - plus there were other logical reasons for me to think it was no big deal - too long to go into here. Anyhow, it was only after I started suffering (and here I really mean suffering!) from the effects of withdrawal from the tranquilizer in the old wrong medicine that I really knew something was wrong.

Well - I'm here to tell you folks. Don't mess with the tranquilizers. It is no fun. Totally no fun at all.

I'm pretty much back on an even keel now but it was a very crappy month.


Aside from the oh-so-fun-kicking-the-tranquilizer-habit-I-didn't-even-know-I had, here's what has happened while I was gone.

I lost:

Lily - she never recovered but she spent her last week comfortably. It really sucks that she died but I think it was inevitable.

I found:

Homes for most of the Society Finches. My bird flock is back down to manageable size.

I watched:

Innocent (BBC series), Life on Mars (BBC series), Clatterford (BBC series - hmm a trend perhaps?) and my mostest favorite show Deadliest Catch.

The baby birds coloring in. The two yellow Godric and Minerva babies are in heavy moult now. They have purple chest and red faces. Twins! And the foster chick is slowly coloring in too. I think that she will eventually look just like Harry Potter. And - I'm pretty sure all three babies this year are girls.

Ron and Rosmerta are sitting on 6 eggs in the new nest box. So far it is a great success. But the eggs haven't hatched yet (any day now!) so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for no chick tossing.

Hubby landscape the garden. Hey - I just pick out the plants I don't dig or get dirty or sweaty. The new plants look great - Walkers Low and Yarrow were the principle additions. Now we have lovely purples and yellows in the garden.

I blocked:

My first lace. The Spring Things Shawl. I had a mental block about actually blocking lace. But it was easy peasey. So easy that I also blocked the Branching Out Scarf too. :)

I worked on:

A mitred square blanket for the nephew. It looks awesome so far but I'm out of yarn and only halfway done. Waiting for the next batch of yarn to arrive.

Another lace shawl. Almost done with the Luna Month Shawl - a free pattern at Elann. I really like this one.

I got:

A tank of angelfish. 4 large adults. They are beautiful and make me very happy.

I saved:

A nest of baby Mockingbirds. Hubbs was trimming a bush in the garden and found the nest. Using garden trowels I picked up the nest and put it back in the bush, securing it with some loose branches. I then had to search around to find the babies - they had all fallen out. There were four of the little guys. It was cool to see how different they look from the finch babies. Although mom and dad bird were pretty upset at all the activity they did come back to the nest and finish raising their babies.

I read:

About the Bayeux Tapestry, Vivienne Eliot (1st wife of TS), and Brother Cadfael.

And last but not least - Hubbs has set up a site to showcase and sell his turnings. He's got nostepinnes! Details to follow in the next post.


that's been life for me lately. Sorry for the long incommunicado. I hope everyone understands and that I still have some readers out there! I've been keeping up with my blog reading but haven't commenting much. It was kind of hard for me to mentally string together sentences there for a while and the thought of actually typing them out was way too much. It was my own mini version of Trainspotting - but without all the buckets. And no Ewan McGregor either. Yeesh. :)