Whalechaser's Musings

No Matter Where You Go...
There You Are
Make the Best of It

Friday, October 31, 2008

Knitting a Gift

Someone has performed a favor that warranted a really big thank-you but I was not sure how to show my appreciation. I thought about buying a gift, but somehow that just was not a 'personal from the heart' thank you. Finally, it came to me; knit a nice item. After a few moments I knew that was the right decision. I went to a local knitting store (after finding just the right pattern on the Internet) and purchased all the items needed to make this gift.

I have knitted exactly three items prior to this and though my experience is limited, I feel capable of doing this intermediate pattern. The lady in the store looked at the pattern and she showed me several stitches that were needed in this pattern and a special one for casting-on. I was pumped.

I came home and started the tester swatch; after about eight rows I figured I was ready for the real thing. I dove in with gusto; counting, checking looking for even tension in the stitches, so far so good. It got tricky after the third row and I noticed that I had made a couple of mistakes, but nothing that was visible to the naked eye so I continued.

It got much worse by the time I got to row 15 or so. I put the thing aside and just thought about it for a while. After a day or so, I decided that in spite of my exuberance, maybe I should start over. I had the wrong number of stitches on the needle and furthermore, I wasn't sure exactly how many rows I had completed. How in the world was the second half of this item EVER going to match this first half...I bit the bullet.

I took the whole thing off the needles and decided to start over. There was a thought that kept haunting me from the last time I knitted something. I had gone to the store for some help on putting it together and the lady asked how I did my knit and purl stitches. I showed her. They were not right...but they were consistent and the item looked ok, so I used it.

Maybe I need to review those stitches also before I start over. Good thing too, my stitches were so original they were nowhere to be found in any of the online instruction videos that I found. Now all is better, I know the two basic stitches, I promised my self to count EACH row and each group of stitches. I vowed no mistakes this time.

Yesterday, after we walked in Deer Grove, I began again with as much, if not more, enthusiasm. I could see by the third row that this decision was the right one. Everything was looking so much better. I just kept knitting. Occasionally, M&M (the pussycat) would come by and play with the yarn. She is just so curious. What a sweet little cat.

During the afternoon, while Chuck napped on the couch, M&M would keep me company on the end of the La-Z-Boy chair. every so often she would swat at the yarn and then go back to sleep. I stopped long enough to make and eat dinner and take in the evening news. Shortly after that Chuck went to his choir rehearsal and I kept knitting away. Wow this thing is really starting to look good.

I moved from the recliner to the sofa for some better light. I put the little handled bag with the yarn and all the other goodies on the floor, and kept knitting. I was making very good progress and quite proud of the results on this second go 'round. Even though it is a lot more work; it is so worth it because it really looks good. Then M&M came by and saw the bag on the floor.

She couldn't help herself really. I mean it is what cats do. Be curious. She saw the bag, walked up to it, sniffed the edge, picked up her head a little moved it though one handle and put her head inside the opening. I was just ready to help her get her head out of the bag when she realized that the handle was around her neck.


She took off for the basement with the bag, all the knitting goodies, my yarn and of course...my knitting! I ran after her, trying to calm her down and stopped her just at the foot of the stairs. I managed to get the bag off her head and I thought all was taken care of, but no. There was still some of the yarn attached somewhere on her. I was watching a panicked cat head for the innards of a sofa, my project was obviously totally destroyed and the basement was strewn with knitting yarn. I grabbed a long strand of yarn that seemed to be attached to the cat and fortunately, Chuck arrived in time to hold her. I removed the yard that was entangled in her collar then we all calmed down and reviewed the damage.

The cat was fine. I was fine. Chuck was fine. I found all the stuff that was in the bag: yarn, darning needles in the original package, stitch holding gizmo still in the package, lengths and lengths of yarn strewn all over the basement and my round knitting needle with my project 'sort of' on it.

I brought it all upstairs to review the damage. Somehow about twenty-five stitches had come off the needles (which would have been fine if that were all that happened) but they were unraveled for about seven or so rows. So like twenty five dropped stitches unraveled for seven rows. I am not that good to rebuild that!

I have to undo the whole piece, temporarily rewind the loose yarn around a pillow and start over again! I managed to cast-on the 145 stitches that the pattern calls for and then decided to go to bed. If one more catastrophe happens to this project before I finish it, I think I will just go buy a gift and forget the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gold Brickin'

This retirement is really hard work!

What's heavier the book or the cat?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Apple Crisp

Yesterday we had a meeting at Patti and Dave's along with Marlene and Len for the sole purpose of showing our respective recent trip pictures. Places visited were China, various state and federal park lands of Oregon, the Green River, Utah and Canyon De Chelly, Arizona.

We all got to relive our 2008 trips and discuss some of the more interesting events that you just can't see in photos. But the best part was the food afterwards. Patti served Italian Beef sandwiches, great tacos, fresh fruit salad, pumpkin cookies, holiday cookies and finally apple crisp made from freshly picked apples.

Hands down the BEST apple anything I ever ate! Thanks Patti and Dave!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A New 'Take' on the Same Old, Same Old

Well, if we have to listen to all the political hype...we may as well have some fun doing it!

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Annual Check-Up

Yesterday I took my KC Bird to the doctor for his first check-up. Of all the places that I have lived since I bought him, I never found an Avian vet, so now that I have, I thought it would be a good idea to have him checked out and have an historical medical file started. It is always good to have a healthy starting point in a medical file, so when an abnormality occurs, we know what is normal for this bird. Anyway, I still had my camera on my belt from the earlier ride I had at Independence Grove and thought I would take full advantage of it and get a few shots of the activities that ensued. It was interesting to see how this vet took care of the pedicure. I have seen it done at least three different ways and this one seems to be the least threatening to the bird.

Here he is before he knows that he is in for his first examination!

All examined and now for those nails...

What annual physical is complete without a weigh-in? They cover him so he doesn't thrash about and weigh, then they weigh the cloth and subtract from the prior number to get his actual weight. He got a great report!
Sorry baby...no treats for birds. But now we can go home!

And who is this Avian Veterinarian you may be asking?

Timothy Harris DVM
438 Peterson Road, Country Court
Libertyville, Illinois 60048

Telephone 847 362 5954

Monday, October 20, 2008

Community Service

One day a florist goes to a barber for a haircut. After the cut he

asked about his bill and the barber replies, 'I cannot accept money

from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The florist was

pleased and left the shop.

When the barber goes to open his shop the next morning there are a

'thank you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his

bill, the barber again replies, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm

doing community service this week.' The cop is happy and leaves the


The next morning when the barber goes to open up there are a 'thank

you' card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Later that day, a college professor comes in for a haircut, and when

he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replies, 'I cannot accept

money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The professor

is very happy and leaves the shop.

The next morning when the barber opens his shop, there is a 'thank

you' card and a dozen different books, such as 'How to Improve Your

Business' and 'Becoming More Successful.'

Then, a Congressman comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay

his bill the barber again replies,¢ I cannot accept money from you.

I'm doing community service this week.' The Congressman is very happy

and leaves the shop.

The next morning when the barber goes to open up, there are a dozen Congressmen

lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between

the citizens of our country and the members of our Congress.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ugh...Please Don't Make Me Eat That

When my brother and I were small (10 and 7 respectively) the court had decided that we would be living with my mother and (brand-new) step-father going forward. There was so much to get used to; it seemed everyday brought new challenges for us to overcome. Until that point we had spent most of our lives on a farm in a remote town in southeastern Missouri. There was little there that was out of the ordinary; everyday was pretty much like the last.

But here in this very populous city in northern New Jersey everything was new. Most of it was good, of course, but there were some things that no matter how you approached them...well, just could not be handled. We knew early on that this step father thing would be trouble and we each had our own plan for dealing with him. I figured I would pretty much obey as much as possible and keep a low profile. My brother was more of the confrontational type...that could be because he was older.

Anyway, some of the new things that we were discovering was food; many different types of food. It didn't take very long for us to discover that even though this stuff was new, it wasn't necessarily tasty. After a couple of months we had made it known certain foods were just horrible. Mine was cottage cheese and my brothers was Lima beans.

Now, truth be told, I really loved cottage cheese but not the stuff you buy in the store...na uh uh that stuff could gag a maggot. My grandmothers cottage cheese that she made herself from the milk from our own cow; now THAT was cottage cheese. How my brother had developed this strong dislike for Lima beans was a mystery to me. I actually thought we had them once or twice at grandma's and I didn't recall anything unusual about them. Anyway, we voiced those opinions about the food and at the time I figured that was the end of it. We did the obligatory, eat a little bit but neither of us ever took seconds.

After some time went by this information was used as punishment for some infraction of the rules set up by our step father. We both found ourselves subject to it at one time or another. The punishment you ask; eat a large serving of whatever it is that you don't like. My brother had a nice big bowl of Lima beans. All he had to do was eat it and then he could get on with his life. I watched in horror, but it seemed he only sat there for 30 minutes or so before he just ate them all. I was really proud of him and secretly hoped I would never have to go through anything like that. But of course, my turn came too and I had that miserable cottage cheese. Oh, it seemed to take hours before I could get it all down, but I did eventually. Neither of us ever did whatever it was that brought on that punishment again.

Some years went by and I noticed that my brother was eating Lima beans at dinner one night and seemingly enjoyed them. I had to ask. How is it that he developed a taste for them when they were so repulsive a couple of years ago? He said he never REALLY disliked Lima beans but figured that one day he would be punished with nasty food so he 'made up' his dislike for Lima beans...man, I have to tell you, there is no body more crafty than my brother! So that was very cool. I still don't know how he knew there would be a food punishment down the road for him, but Lordy to put that in place ahead of time was pure genius! I, of course, was never that astute.

But just in case there is a nasty food punishment waiting for me somewhere down the road I want to let it be know right here and right now I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY HATE...NO DETEST...ROCKY ROAD ICE CREAM!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

While we were out riding in Fayetteville earlier this month, I happened to see a remarkable looking bird. I stopped the bike and just watched in amazement. This rather large bird ( about like a skinny robin ) had a long split tail and was able to hover like a hummingbird; it was very colorful and had a goldish tan under its wings. It flew from the top of things...small trees, mail boxes and light poles.
We saw it again in another area some 4 or 5 miles away 2 days later. I became obsessed with it.

Well I finally looked it up! It was a Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

I hope this doesn't mean that I will now become an ardent birdwatcher...they are so funky!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Sometime ago, at years' end, I started the ritual of writing down all the new and different things that happened to me or that I did during that year. You know all the new stuff. I guess it started because I always found the New Year's holiday depressing; sort of a let down after all the 'hoo-haa'. Three years or so into this new habit I looked back over the lists that I made and discovered that I was indeed way more adventurous than I gave myself credit for.

I guess at some point I will go ahead and give you all a separate blog on the highlights of those exceptional activities (when I have the lists with me) but for now suffice to say that looking back on that activity has spurred a new one. Anticipating the new stuff to come. Wow, this is really big for me, because I have pretty much been a 'plodder'. Set a goal and go after it one step at a time.

Before I took the eight week trek to the southwest this year, I found an ad for The Great American Cooking Expo - Chicago. Since food is my passion, I ripped the ad out and slipped it under a fridge magnet. Just in case I forgot about it during the trip; I wanted a reminder that I could still have fun once the trip was over. I had gone to two of these expos in Philadelphia when I lived in New Jersey and enjoyed them very much.

So I returned from the trip and never noticed the ad on the fridge BUT I did notice another ad in Sunday's paper and got excited all over again! I went to the website and found something else that got me as excited as any child could be in anticipation of Christmas.

There on the right side of the Expo homepage was an ad for a passionate non-professional cooks'-- cooking school...YES! This is what I have been searching for - - for a very long time. I actually found one in lower Manhattan just before I moved away, but being a big city driving scaredy-cat, never was able to attend any of their classes.

So now I am looking forward to the EXPO which takes place on November 14, 15, and 16. I think I'll try for the 16th since they have many cooking demos that I would like to see. What I am really looking forward to, is the 3 day basic cooking course that is being held by Viking That of course will take place after the EXPO, on November 18, 19 and 20. I would have done it this weekend, but I have a triple birthday celebration to attend so that, of course, takes precedence!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Writer's Group Meeting

We had our 'occasional' writer's group meeting today and it was sure nice to get back together with everyone again. Each of us writes a personal memoir; it can be recent or not so recent and we read our contribution aloud to the group. After each of us has read we usually have some discussion about the piece and offer positive suggestions for consideration.

What I like about this approach is the sharing of the personal experience through the written word. Once it is committed to paper, the event usually becomes a 'deeper' experience for the writer and of course, the sharing among the group is a way of becoming a bit closer to each writer.

Topics covered today included a father and sons' continuing growth through high school and college, a grandmothers' delight in the daughters' birth of twins, several poems on topics as diverse as nature and rebirth after a forest fire, the process of perfection and what if animals stalked us instead of the other way around, the rite of passage into the professional world and a young boys admiration for his uncle.

None of it appears earth shattering, but each of the stories was quite moving and revealing of the personal capacities of each writer. Each story held a deep meaning for each writer and was a gentle opening into each others' lives.

Our next meeting will be in December so I will need to be thinking about a new topic to present at that time. I suppose that is the hardest part of this whole process; coming up with a topic that I think is interesting enough to share with the rest of the group.

Here we are grabbing a quick bite and settling in for our memoirs readings...

Friday, October 10, 2008

KC Came Home Today

Wow...it has really been a long time since I have had my little feathered friend on my shoulder; and those birdie kisses...how I missed them!

But we stopped by Julie's house today after our bike ride with Dave and Pattie, Marlene and Dave on the Fox River trail in Crystal Lake. He actually looked happy to see me and yet not anxious nor nervous at all...truth be told, I think he really enjoyed being with some other birds for a while...and to have someone cooking his meals for him probably didn't hurt either.

Here he is and all his friends..of course I had to take some pics of his friends it won't be long before he is lonely for them. Then I will show him the pictures and everything will be ok again...(I can dream right?)

Just a little roost stepping for mom...
This bird just loves to pose for pictures
So does this one! Although my camera was not fast enough to catch him giving high-fives. He would take his right foot and raise up and behind his head....amazing.
This one wanted out and on my shoulder in the worst way...I just know he did!
Here's Julie...you know why she smiles so much right? All these beautiful birds, all day long...who wouldn't?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

10 BAD Things that are Actually GOOD for You

Ok, I was surfing the net and found the top 10 things that have always been considered...well, if not bad for you (they certainly shouldn't be overdone) are now GOOD.

Here they are in reverse order:

10 Beer

9 Anger

8 Coffee

7 LSD (huh ?)

6 Sunlight

5 Maggots (Double HUH??)

4 Marijuana

3 Red Wine (well...even I knew that!)

2 Chocolate

1 Sex (er...was there a question on this one?)

Go to this link to see the details for each of the above.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Big...beautiful...double rainbow from my backyard. Too bad it was so large I could not get the whole thing in the picture!

Bacon Onion Pepper PIZZA

So I was trying to use up some of the odds and ends I had in the house and wound up making this really terrific pizza. Better to show the steps along the way than try to explain it only in words. So now that I have selected the pics...we could call this pizza in 5 easy steps. But of course you have to understand that I was using left-over dough from an earlier pizza escapade a couple of days ago! Where I had the whole thing put together and tried to get it on the pizza peel and destroyed the whole thing. Actually salvaged it somewhat and tried to slip it on the pizza stone and all the toppings slid off...oh well, that is definitely another story.

Below is the third try and it looks like it was a smashing success. It was...very tasty and no leftovers on this one.

Notice that I ditched the peel and the stone. Much easier this way!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Arkansas & Missouri Railroad

We took the train from Springdale to Van Buren, Arkansas on Friday. Yes, it is a touristy ride with the conductor all dressed up in his black suit and cute hat. There was also a guide telling us about the history and other interesting facts about the cities and countryside that we traversed along the way.
This is a car similar to the one we rode; I say similar because this one does not have ceiling fans. Ours did.
Just for a little something different...here is the washroom that they have on the train. I especially like the big frosted window they provided.
Everybody gets a picture of the front of a train....I got one looking out the caboose door!
Here is the front view...

We stayed in Van Buren for a couple of hours...enough to walk the historic section of town, grab lunch and a great ice cream cone. The weather was perfect and if I were into 'antique-ing' I'll bet I could have done some serious damage to my budget!
Lots of stuff to look at and imagine about.

Once we returned to Springdale, we found ourselves in the middle of rush hours traffic...well it was a good excuse to stop and eat dinner at Red Lobster! Did I tell you they were offering "endless shrimp"?! Well they were and I think both of us have filled that shrimp quota for a while.

I don't know what it is about a train ride, but it sure makes me sleepy! I was struggling to stay awake until the Cubbies game which was supposed to start at 9 PM. After snoozing on and off for a while Chuck informed me that they weren't playing until TOMORROW night at 9.
Ok then....nighty, night!

Divine Intervention

This is my second year of following the Chicago Cubbies. Chuck has followed them ALL HIS LIFE!!! During that time they have NEVER won the pennant. This year (up to now) promised to be exciting and possibly the END of that dry run.

Last night and the night before they lost badly. Today could be the clincher for them again; if they lose this one it is goodbye until next year.

Gee, if I could ask for a great birthday present for Chuck...could you just let them have the stupid pennant this year and then we can all go back to sleep again!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder

Thank goodness there's a name for this disorder. Somehow I feel better, even though I might have it!!

Recently,I was tentatively diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.

This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden. As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.

As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mail box earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only one check left.

My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of Pepsi I'd been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Pepsi aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over.

The Pepsi is getting warm, and I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Pepsi, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye - they need water.

I put the Pepsi on the counter and discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I'll be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

So, I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do. At the end of the day: the garden isn't watered the car isn't washed the bills aren't paid there is a warm can of pepsi sitting on the counter the flowers don't have enough water, there is still only 1 check in my check book, I can't find the remote, I can't find my glasses, and I don't remember what I did with the car keys. Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all dang day, and I'm really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail....

Do me a favor. Forward this message to everyone you know, because I don't remember who the heck I've sent it to.

Don't laugh -- if this isn't you yet, your day is coming!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fayetteville Farmers Market Revisited

Since we arrived at my place I have been struggling with a nasty cold. Not enough to send me to the doctor or to bed-- but practically down for the count on everything else. We did squeeze in a visit to the Fayetteville farmers market, in hopes of finding some fresh ears of corn; but the season is definitely over. There were none to be found...anywhere. So we saw lots of fall flowers and other veggies on a slow Thursday.
It was nice to see all the construction is completed and the new plantings in the square are doing fantastically!

A Man's Attempt to Understand Women

A man riding his Harley was riding along a California
beach when suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the Lord said, 'Because you have tried to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish.'

The biker pulled over and said, 'Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can ride over anytime I want.'

The Lord said, 'Your request is materialistic. Think of
the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking: the supports required reaching the bottom of the Pacific and the concrete and steel it would take!

It will nearly exhaust all natural resources. I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that could possibly help mankind.'

The biker thought about it for a long time.

Finally, he said, 'Lord, I wish that I and all men could understand women. I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she really means when she says nothing's wrong, and how I can make a woman truly happy.'

The Lord replied,

'You want two lanes or four on that bridge?