Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bubbles!

If I'm going to start blogging again, it might as well be with a bang.

Or at least the pop of a sparkling wine bottle blowing its cork.

Maybe I should back up.

Wine!

It's been so long since I posted that you might not remember hubby made a career change last year. He left teaching to purse his love of wine by becoming a sommelier.

As part of this career change he has been taking classes through WSET to increase his knowledge and gain certifications that will help in his career.

The current section he's working on, for which he will test next week, is sparkling wine.

How it's made. Where it's made. The differences in taste. Etc etc.


Part of the test includes a blind tasting of at least two, if not three, wines. So he has to be familiar with them in order to identify them later.

Dangerous Bubbles

The thing about sparkling wine? It's got bubbles. Natural carbonation.

Back in the day (i.e., when it was first discovered) those bubbles used to make the bottles explode. Modern glass and wine making methods have reduced that risk.

But if you've ever enjoyed a glass of champagne on New Year's Eve (and, by the way, it can only be called champagne if it's from the Champagne region of France), you know it's hard to maintain those bubbles long term.

He's trying to taste through them quickly, but in the mean time we're using corks from standard bottles to plug them back up.

Well, it hasn't been working so well today!

This morning I got out his first round of blind tastings. Those fat-ass bottles got stuck in the wee wine fridge and got jostled around a bit as I was trying to get them out.

When I put the bottles on the counter the cork blew right out of that Aria cava on the left! It gave me a start and the cork ended up on the other side of the kitchen.

"You'll shoot and eye out, kid!"

No harm done. He tasted his wines and I got out three more, including opening a new bottle of a Pinot Noir Cava.

This evening I'm sitting in the living room and Baru and I hear a tap in the kitchen.

Of course, he starts barking his little head off (Samson wasn't interested), but we didn't see anything when we went to check.

A little while later I go back out to the kitchen to feed them and as I'm picking up their bowls I notice a puddle behind the wine fridge.

That pink tinge is a puddle of Pinot Noir Cava. There is some Dry Sec mixed in for good measure.

Two wines(!) blew their corks and spewed all over the fridge.

Even if I'd realized what it was, I don't think it would have helped. I imagine the wine shot out with some force and I couldn't have stopped it.

Much sponging and mopping later and it's all cleaned up. I put those bottles (along with the Cava from this morning) into the regular fridge hoping they'll be more stable.

Reasons to Mop

It's the second time this week I've had a horrific reason to mop.

Earlier in the week I pulled the garbage bag out and it started to leak.

This was a particularly rank bag, full of raw chicken bones and water from rinsing the coffee grounds out of the French Press every morning.

It was so foul I actually threw up into the bag a little.

I managed to get it outside by putting it on an empty kibble bag, but there was a nasty puddle on the floor.

Yeah, that was fun to clean up. Much mopping ensued.

Hmm, smell-wise I think I'd rather mop up spilled wine!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Patterns of Behavior Sweater

At the beginning of the year I was on a kick to knit with the various beautiful yarns I've been acquiring over the years.

What was the point in having them tucked away in the dining room credenza if I wasn't going to actively enjoy them?

This plan was working well until two things happened.

First, I find it hard to juggle my personal knitting with my work knitting. There are only so many hours in the day, after all.

Second, in April I started the Patterns of Behavior Sweater.

Patterns of behavior sweater

The name will become obvious in a moment.

The original use-the-nice-yarn plan was to just knit the stuff. Keep it simple so projects would be completed and I could get on to wearing them.

That, obviously, didn't last long.

As I contemplated the Spring Pansies yarn I bought from Ellen's Half-Pint Farm during the 2011 New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival the idea of knitting another Schleppy Sweater of ribbing and stockinette didn't appeal.

No, instead it should have a big cowl neck.

And if I was going to work a cowl neck it should have an interesting stitch pattern.

And if I was going to do the neck in an interesting stitch pattern I should do the hem and cuffs in the same pattern to tie it all together.

Patterns of behavior sleeve

Suddenly, instead of just knitting the yarn already I had fallen back into the old habits, ahem--Patterns of Behavior, of making complicated projects.

In this case, a sweater with Feather & Fan hem, cuffs, and cowl collar.

Despite all that I'd been zipping along, until it was time to start the sleeves.

Figuring out the stitch count for the cuff tripped me up. And then we moved. And then I had work knitting. And, well, you know how it goes.

I picked the sweater back up a week or two ago. Rhinebeck pressure, you know.

The sleeves flew along once I started knitting them. I decided to work them one at a time, in the round, on double points.

The yoke, which always seems to take forever when I'm working a sweater in the round, has moved along briskly as well.

Patterns of behavior sweater

I was working on the sweater last week during Adirondack Yarns' open knitting session and had a really constructive conversation about the collar with one of the other knitters.

We decided I should work the first part of the collar in stockinette stitch so I can easily work the increases to get to cowl size, then switch to the Feather & Fan pattern.

I'll have to remember to reverse it when the time comes since it's going to fold over and I don't want the wrong/back side of the knitting showing.

I'm getting really close to having the yoke done. Unfortunately, my left wrist is cranky so I think it's best to take a knitting break for a day or two.

At little rest now prevents a long rest later!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Boo!

I may have mentioned that the house we're renting was built in the mid-1800s.

Although I try not to think about it, I'm sure many people were born and died here since that is what you did back then.

Hubby and I were standing in the upstairs hallway as he got ready for work.

The door to the spare room was mostly closed. This is usual since I'm trying to keep the unused areas shut off to save on our heating bills.

But then the door rattled and closed the rest of the way.

We both stopped and looked at it.

In my head I told myself it was the wind, even though there aren't any open windows and the door at the other end of the room leading to the back steps is closed as well.

Hubby said, a little too causally, "Weell, I'm going to go ahead to work now. Try not to think about today being Halloween."

Rising to the challenge, I decided to open the door so we could battle whatever monster was lurking within together.

I almost pissed myself when I saw movement in the room as the door swung open.

Why the heck was something moving in an empty room?!

As the door swung fully open Samson came bursting out.

Much to our relief and laughter.

I had actually been wondering where he was for at least an hour, but had assumed he was napping under our bed.

He likes to lay on the floor in the spare room as it gives him a good view of the hallway and down the staircase.

Our theory is the door was only half open when he went in and he knocked it shut the rest of the way.

What we don't understand is why he didn't bark when he wanted to come out.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Bad Sign

I've been working from home for over two years now.

During that time I've occasionally thought about that cartoon on The Oatmeal blog about the pros and cons of working from home.

When we were in New Hampshire I think my social skills weren't able to slide much because I saw Hubby regularly during the day and I'd have to get dressed to meet him for lunch in the cafeteria.

Basically, I was interacting with people on a regular basis.

Not so here in New York.


No, here I've been able to rapidly become feral and jump straight to the one year mark on the degradation of social skills panel.

To make myself feel better I like to blame hubby's weird schedule. I wake up before him but don't want to make noise showering. Then when he leaves I have to get to work, with the end result being I either shower at 4 o'clock in the afternoon or I don't shower at all.

This is wrong and I know it.

I've been thinking for a while now that I have to be more diligent about showering and dressing as soon as I wake up.

The urgent need to enact this new routine was driven home this morning.

The house is a pig stye and needs to be cleaned. When I announced that this morning Hubby responded, "We've been saying that for months." And I had to point out that it's really true now (as opposed to before when it was just slightly messy).

I decided that since I had a lot of housework ahead of me it would be easier to tackle if I was ready for action, which means wearing shoes.

So I got dressed.

Then I went downstairs and put on my sneakers.

And Samson lost his mind.

He started dancing around me.

He ran to the front door and rang his bell.

He ran back to me, danced some more, and woofed.

It was very obvious that he thought something exciting was going to happen--most likely a walk--because mommy was putting clothes on.

Wow. I've got to make an effort to get dressed every day.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Walked by a Pup

When we lived in New Hampshire I would walk a two mile loop with my friend Judy every morning.

This was good exercise for us and a chance to get some fresh air.

When the pups were on their morning out I would call her, which was the prompt to put on her shoes and come down to meet me.

We were very consistent. Since the pups always had to go out every morning, which meant I had to be out in all kinds of weather, there were few excuses not to. I mean, once you're dressed and standing in the rain why not walk?

It hasn't been that simple here in New York.

First off, we have a yard again so I can stand on the porch in my pajamas watching the pups romp.

Second off, walking by myself isn't as fun.

So I decided to take Samson with me as company and in a vain attempt to wear him out.
It was actually a bit worrisome.

Or should I say eye opening?

Now, Samson has run off a few times. When we first moved here he mainly ran off to the landlord's house across the property to harass their dog.

Luckily he is beautiful and charming and they like dogs so they don't seem to mind much. The landlord also realized he could just order Samson to "go home!" and he would.

But then he started expanding his territory.

I realized just how much on our first walk.

I let him be off the leash because he pulls too much (still) and he walked with purpose and determination. He stuck to the right hand side of the street, but then occasionally crossed to the left hand side to sniff and pee on a particular tree or fence.

Then he'd cross back.

Of course, he didn't look either direction when he crossed, which was heart stopping. We're on a dead end road, so it's relatively quiet but people tend to fly down it.

There is a field and a barn up the road and he detoured into the field and around the barn when we got there.

He continued to lead the way until we reached the big end in the road half a mile away.

There is a large apron on the bend because there is an access road going into the fields.

He trotted into the apron to pee on the fence posts. I continued to the far end of the apron and stopped to wait for him. Shortly after we moved here I mapped out both a two mile and a three mile loop and I was ready to keep going.

Samson had other ideas.

After he left his calling card he trotted over to me. However, instead of blazing the trail as he'd been doing he stopped, looked at me, and then headed for home.

We'd reached the end of his territory.

He'd checked the perimiter and it was time to head back.

Holy smokes, is that where he'd been running off to?

I followed him home and he repeated the behavior of crossing at set points to make his mark.

A routine was definitely in place.

The thing is, however, I'd never noticed that he disappeared long enough to do the entire mile loop and I never noticed him coming home as tired as he did from our walk.
But I can't imagine that his behavior was just a one time thing.

My suspicions were supported a few days later when I let Baru come along. It was immediately apparent that Baru knew the patrol route as well!

Those dogs are a caution.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sock Season

I have spent most of the summer running around barefoot.

This is not necessarily an issue since I like being barefoot.

It has been possible for my toes to enjoy their freedom because I work from home and, now that we live in the middle of nowhere, I don't spontaneously go places anymore.

In fact, my slide into being feral recently led me to be concerned about what I'd do in the event of an alien invasion. How prepared would I be to battle aliens barefoot and in my pajamas? Although I don't expect to be going places, shouldn't I get dressed everyday in the off chance that I might have to make a fast escape from an intergalactic threat?

These concerns are being naturally addressed by the advent of cooler weather.

Maybe the threat of an alien invasion can't get me to put on shoes, but cold weather sure will.

And you know what? Sock season is awesome!

Is there anything quite as awesome as wearing handmade socks in comfy shoes? Aside from knitting more socks for future wear?

Really, if you have to give up going barefoot, due to either cold weather or aliens, handknit socks are the way to go.

There is just one problem with it.

The need to eventually wash those handknit socks. With commercial socks you just toss them in the washer and dryer and move on with your life.

Handknit socks should not be subjected to such abuse. They need to be hand washed. That isn't to say that they are delicate flowers, but...they are delicate flowers.

Trust me, I've lost at least one pair of socks to the horrors of the dryer.

Now, I must confess that when I was living in Connecticut and had a brand new washing machine, and even in New Hampshire where the washer was fairly modern, I shamelessly and without hesitation threw my handknit socks in the washer.

I would machine wash cold on the delicate/knit cycle and then hang them to dry on a collapsible wooden drying rack.

My socks and I lived happy lives.

But those days are over.

The house we are renting now has an ancient washing machine.


Don't get me wrong. It's a solid unit and it's doing a great job cleaning our clothes. But I don't trust that it's knit cycle is really as delicate as my handknit socks want it to be.

This presents me with a dilemma since I like hand knitting socks, but not hand washing socks.

Actually, it presents me with a dilemma and a massive pile of dirty socks on the bathroom floor.

 And cold toes that are unprepared to face aliens.

As you can see, I own dozens of pairs of hand knit socks (there are also two sweaters in that pile adding to the bulk). But even my sock drawer has a limit.

A breaking point is being reached.

I'm either going to have to hand wash the buggers or risk ruin and throw them in the washer.

In actuality, I might split the difference by putting them in the bucket to soak and then running them through the spin cycle to get the excess water out.

Honestly, I don't understand how letting the socks stand in water for a bit actually gets them clean. Don't they need the agitation?

Action must be taken soon.

It takes me two weeks to knit a pair of socks. I only have nine clean pairs left in my drawer.

I hope the aliens don't show up anytime soon.