On the road again

While I was typing away last night, I forgot the most important update. Despite the fact it was 6 degrees Celcius or less, we went biking yesterday. We did 19.3 km in about 47 minutes for an average speed of 24.6 km/hr. For a first ride, that’s pretty good. I remember being much slower than that last year. With the 40 km I did on the trainer thus far, that’s 59.3 km for the year.

That’s 1.6% of the distance of the tour and I’m 3 months into the year. Have no fear faithful reader(s). I will make this goal if I’m riding on the trainer through Christmas dinner and the countdown to 2008.

I now need to find a tracker to track the distance graphically. I’m 1/4 of the way into the first stage after the prologue. Here’s a page with the route. I think I should start calling it the parcours like the French. It sounds much cooler.

Looking at the excel file I have titled “B’s Quest for the Tour 2006” I was at 272.8 km by May 8th last year. That included a month off the bike for a major repair (I mishifted and needed 2 new d√©railleurs and broke 2 spokes on Mavic Kysrium wheels. Snapping spokes on those wheels is not common at all, especially for a lightweight like me – note the link is to the new 2007 wheels, I have the 2005 version). I should be on track for at least that now that I have weekends free and the snow is gone.

We’re going to try to get out on the road tomorrow. Goodnight bike. You’re so stealthy.


Time for kitten updates

Fred and Ging are growing like weeds. It’s hard to believe they were so tiny when we got them. They’re now big. I should weigh them… OK, Fred’s at 8.8 pounds, Ginger’s 5.6. They each weighed about a pound when we brought them home, so that’s a big change.

Ginger has discovered that she can sit on my computer’s tower and try to catch the cursor from above. It’s also warm and lets her look out over the room so she’s a pretty contented kitty.


Fred loves the coffee table. It’s just a flat wooden table in the middle of the living room, but he lies there like it’s the softest place he’s ever been. He prefers to be the only thing on the table, so he will push everything else off. To get up, he comes running into the room, then jumps and slides across the table, like he’s landing on an aircraft carrier. Unfortunately, his nails sometimes come out as brakes, so there are a few Fred Scratches there that we need to fill in.fred-and-hat.jpg That’s Fred lyign on the table all content with the world. He’s modeling an umbilical cord hat I made for a friend’s baby. It’s from the leftover Cashmerino Aran that my SP sent me that I used to make Shedir for myself. It was a really fast knit, but I knit the cord to long, so I looped it over. This next picture is “gangsta kitty”. He’s on his turf


That’s about it from around here. It’s warm enough that we got out the BBQ this morning and had hotdogs for lunch (you can see D BBQing in the picture below). We’re going to vaccum out our cars now and then go biking this afternoon. It’s a high of 8, so I’ll have to bundle up, but the snow’s gone! Horray!


That’s our new patio – exposed aggregate, much bigger than before. We don’t usually have a shopvac out back, D was using it to clean up something (I was doing the dishes). The big tree in the centre of the picture at the front of the house is coming down in the next few weeks. I’m sure there’ll be a blog post about that!

How’d it get to be Wednesday?

This week is flying by. I have so much to do and the weekend is approaching so fast I don’t know what to do.

I recently got sucked into the timewaster that is facebook.com. It’s really interesting to track down people I knew many years back and to find out the little connections between them now. For instance, D’s godfather is the father of a good friend of mine from a band I was in during high school. Another friend found me and asked how I ended up married to some relation to Doug’s dad. He’d also read an article I wrote for my undergrad campus paper in 1999 and kept it in the back of his head because he really enjoyed it. That’s so rewarding to hear.

School wise, it’s funny how something that seems so small can magnify into something HUGE. I did a set of experiments last week that were really fast. Well, the data collection part was. Now I’m stuck in the analysis portion. It needs deconvolution, then looking at numbers in books and finding patterns. I really need to sit down and do it systematically, but my brain is all over the place right now. EEP!

Speaking of all over the place, I spent some time outside on Sunday doing a photo shoot of my knitting FOs (finished objects, as opposed to UFOs – the unfinished objects). Here’s a Picovoli in knitpicks Shine. I didn’t really like knitting with the shine – I found it hard on my wrists. The fabric does feel awesome though. This is the knitting that D hid the rock under to propose in Curacao last year. I’m not 100% enamoured with this project – I don’t like how the neckline gapes and the picot edging wants to roll. I know I have problems with turtlenecks bagging up under the neckline, so maybe it’s something to do with my build. Narrow shoulders perhaps?


I had to crop my head off because I really am a bad model. You’d think that watching several seasons of America’s Next Top Model would give me some hints and tricks, but I can look really bad when I’m squinting and trying not to shiver. (and yes, PhD students do need a break to watch trashy TV).

Then there’s my Clapotis. I knit it from two skeins of Paton’s Kroy sock yarn on 3.75mm needles (I think!). It’s itchy. I may not have washed it after I finished it, so I washed it this week when I did a gauge swatch for a top secret knit so it might have softened up. I do want to do clapotis again in a nicer yarn. I’ve learned my lesson. The other problem is that the two balls were different dyelots! One is WAY brighter than the other. I was using it first and loving it, then hit the second, greyer ball and had to really push myself to finish. It was practice OK?


See the squinting? I get dimples on my cheekbones when I squint. The wind was also blowing and my hair wouldn’t stay out of my face. That’s it. I need spring. The weather forecast this morning was fun – it was “high of 5 today, going down, I mean up to 9 overnight”. Gotta wonder about that eh?

Any readers out there that listen to the CBC? Does the chime tone before the news now remind you of the Beatles song “Long and Winding Road” but on a slightly different pace? Like if you’re in Toronto the subway doors closing chime is the open triad that starts the Sesame Street theme? I’m always humming or singing when I get off the subway because of that. D tells me the one in Tokyo is the start of the Beastie Boy’s song “Girls”. I wonder if the designers think about that when they choose the notes.

That’s probably enough for one sitting – my legs are asleep and it’s almost bedtime at the Casa DB. I think we found a place to rent in Spain. YAY!

D’s vacuuming

D’s vacuuming, so I’m taking the time to blog. I’m very lucky – he does dishes as well.

This has been a busy weekend. We went to a “St. Practice Day” party on Friday to practice for Saturday. It was a weird snowstorm and the drive which would normally take 20 minutes took about twice as long. Lots of skidding and slipping, but we didn’t see any accidents so it seems people were taking the weather seriously. We weren’t going to stay long but we got sucked into a new to us game called “Settlers of Catan”. It was good fun and I ended up winning (with some help as everyone wanted to go home so I was getting some very favourable deals!).

Saturday we got up and cleaned the laundry room. Our house is a 1200 square foot 1950’s bungalow and the laundry room is about 1/4to 1/3 of the basement. It’s a big room. When we moved here we put boxes on the shelves the previous owner had built and pulled stuff off as we needed it. We we adopted Fred and Ginger Fred was obsessed with licking the baseboards in there and got very sick. We’re not sure if it was something he licked or something he came with.

We decided we needed to clean the laundry room. What a job. We went through and cleaned out 5 bags of garbage, 2 boxes of paper recycling and a big bag of clothes for charity. We also scrubbed the floor on our hands and knees and washed the baseboards and walls. We were tired folks.

As a break, D drive me to the yarn store. I went to the NSLYS (not so local yarn store) as our local one is very new and a little high-flying for a grad student at times. D didn’t realise this one was a 20 minutes drive away and thought I was lost. He was confused by two very similar town names. We got some good stuff, but I can’t show it as I got the same stuff for me and for my secret pal. It’s soft though.

Then we went for dinner with my parents and brother and came home and finished cleaning and moving the washer and drier back into place. hard work.

Today we’ve snuggled with the kitties, watched the F1 race, talked to my cousin out west, done some stuff for the family business, gone to the art gallery to find art to spend the last of the wedding money on and done the groceries. D’s done vacuuming now and we did a photoshoot of handknits. I’ll spread the pictures out over a few days, so check back.

The current WIP total is really bad. I need to finish something!

I have about 2 inches to go on the first Monkey sock in Regia Bamboo from my SP.


I’ve got a Kepler in 1824 wool in a teal blue on the go, but I’m scared of the armholes as the pattern is in a different guage. I was feeling confident, but I’ve lost that confident feeling.

I’ve got a second bib from Mason Dixon knitting for a friend’s baby but another friend says he thinks the neck straps are too short. We did find D’s old beaver uniform and badges yesterday and he gave me permission to put a badge on the bib, so that will be cool.

There’s something else in the mystery yarn tote in the living room, but I don’t want to go unearth it right now and let D know just how much I have on the go.

I should sign off now… I promised to make brownies for dinner and it’s getting close to dinner time and I haven’t started yet.

Food, Fun and Gin

I was trying to think of something to write on my blog today, but I don’t have thesis progress, knitting progress or cycling progress (I did mention I did another 10 kms the other night right? I promise, it’ll go a lot faster once it gets warm and light out more often).

I was telling a classmate about a dinner I created and she really liked the sound of it, so I thought I’d share it with you, the not many of my blog readers. I like to eat well and if it’s fast, I like it a lot!

B’s Fast Chicken and Gnocchi for 2

Put a pot of water on to boil the gnocchi in.

In a skillet, cook 2 or 3 slices of bacon that have been sliced into small (dime sized) pieces. Drain them once they’re brown.

Add a dash of olive oil, 2 cubed chicken breasts and a crushed garlic clove. Cook (with stirring) over medium heat till it’s ALMOST cooked through.

Then add a chopped up tomato or two (three if they are Roma ones as they’re small) and a bit of bashed up rosemary (bashing it up makes it more flavourful). Stir this around.

Put in the Gnocchi in to cook and as they come to the surface, drain them in a slotted spoon and put them directly into the sauce. Stir it around and eat.

Yum. Don’t eat it too often or you will blow up like a gnocchi (or so says Ivan the mechanic at the bike shop I used to work at. It was followed by “Too many cute slim girls have lost their figure after discovering gnocchi. Don’t become one of them!”)

That’s the food. The fun is imagining this… look down a few posts for a picture of Fred… there? See him? The orange one?

We think he needs to join my sister in medical school.

I have a gurgley stomach. If I push it in and out it will gurgle on command. I was doing it on the couch tonight and Fred came to investigate. He sat with his head cocked, listening, then put a paw out to press on my belly in various locations. He got his ear down to listen closely, then started licking the gurgly spot. Guess that’s what cats do to solve a problem. I stopped then as he was getting very concerned and I didn’t want there to be teeth involved.

The Gin is a card game – D and I play every so often. We taught ourselves from a 1940’s edition of Hoyle’s card games at the cottage after our wedding. We cheat and keep score on a cribbage board, so we play to 120 instead of 100. He beat me in the first game tonight, then I had two really good hands scoring over 50 points on each one and beat him from behind in the second game. That’s the best type of gin for me!

Not much to say here

We spent the weekend at a friend’s cottage with 3 other couples and 2 babies. We were hoping for a winter weekend so we could go skating on the lake and other outdoor stuff, but it was raining for a lot of Saturday and that killed most of the outdoorsy ideas and make walking on Sunday exciting – I got a soaker walking in the snow and hitting a hidden puddle.

Knittingwise I finished the umbilical cord hat from somewhere that everyone’s made (it seems!). I used the rest of the pink cashermerino aran from my shedir. I don’t have pictures as I am feeling lazy due to the time change. I also did the leg portion of a monkey sock in the Regia Bamboo sock yarn my SP sent.

Really, that’s all that’s exciting around here. Otherwise, we’re trying to find a place to stay in Gerona (Girona) Spain for our trip. D’s doing god husband duty and emptying the dishwasher (my least favourite chore EVER). The kittens survived our neighbour’s attention – she’s trying to convince us to leave town more often so she can have more kitten time.

Schoolwise, I have a busy week. Lots to do and I need time to sit ad think as well. The internet isn’t helping me much there. That and office 2007 doesn’t run well on a computer with only 256M of RAM.

I guess I should go gain some good wife points by helping with the dishes.

BTW – the husband socks yarn is the super soxx surprise from RAM Wools, the pattern is the universal sock one from knitty

Hooray for socks!

Socks to be you!

D here – I’m hijacking B’s blog today. B rules. She made me socks. They have stripes. Stripes are good. B spent many, many hours making these for me. There was much cursing and counting of stripes involved. Now I can wear them out in the real world (as opposed to blog-land) and gloat about how my wonderful wife made me these wonderful socks and nobody else has socks as wonderful as mine! And they have cool stripes. Oh, and they’re soft. Not as soft as our kittens, but that would be tough to beat.

That is why B rules.


It’s a RED letter day

If I knew more I’d make that RED up there RED.

After the calamities of the weekend, I had a great day today. I passed my thesis along to the former supervisors for their approval. Hopefully it will be rubber stamping – the document is mostly one that was approved as a PhD proposal 2 years ago, a project for a class I got an A+ in and a wrap up of some experiments that didn’t work.

Then I went and checked out flights for D and I to Spain in May. The travel agent found flights for about C$1200 per person, so I left the TravelCuts office and went back to my office. I remembered I had a book for one of the professors and I went to return it and we got talking about Spain. Turns out he’s planning his honeymoon for June in Spain and had found a deal from our local small airport instead of the big city airport. I e-mailed D and we ended up getting flights for both of us for C$1300 from a local airport where the difference will easily be made up for in not paying for parking at the big city airport! YAY!

Then I went by the bike store to pick up a form for my taxes (I worked there last summer) and saw they’ve done more of the renovations. It looks great. I got home to find a box on my porch. I could see it from the road. Funny, I haven’t ordered anything by mail lately, maybe D did and didn’t tell me.

I picked it up and it’s from my Knittyboard Secret Pal, Spoilingboo! She sent it before the last one arrived in case it was lost. It was a really neat package with warnings included. She’d drawn cartoons of Fred and Ginger and her cat attacking the Martian men on the paper. Ginger was even eating one and another one was trying to rescue a friend from Fred.

There was also a ball of TOFUtsies yarn, 2 balls of Regia Bamboo (in a colour called “Passion”), a little package of Soak wool wash (that’s why one package said “don’t squeeze me too hard!”) and a really nifty PhD sized pencil holder that’s already in use on my desk. Here’s some pictures….


Note the instructions on the wrapping. That had me flummoxed for a bit. Between the two balls of Regia was a package of liquid wool wash and we don’t want that to pop!



The inside of the pencil holder is really neat. I can’t read it, perhaps I’ll have to send a picture to D’s brother and his Fiancee – she’s Japanese and he speaks the language – they live in Japan. Hopefully it is Japanese!


So to Spoilingboo, you did great. The fact that you mailed this before the other one arrived shows that you care that I’m looked after. It really warms my heart to know that there are honest and good people out there. My cynical father thought this Secret Pal this was hogwash – how can you trust a stranger to do something nice? Well I’ll have to show him.

I’ll practice my yarn photography skills tomorrow in daylight. D says our camera has “supermacro” but I can’t find it! OK, he’s reading over my shoulder and just showed me. More tomorrow when it’s light out!

What’s #3 gonna be?

D’s threatening to tie me to the couch for the rest of the weekend.

Yesterday we took a wire jewelery course. It was really fun. We bent wire into various shapes and added beads. The beads are really not our thing, but most of the others were beaders so we just sat in the back and played. D is really good with the tools and he was producing professional looking stuff right away. I had troubles doing consistent, even bends, so mine didn’t look as great. I did make a pair of earrings though, so I’m really happy. These are similar to a necklace D bought me in Ireland a few years ago. (eep – he didn’t pay that much!)


The course was really good, except that I didn’t know this weekend is cursed. I was hammering a piece of wire and the hammer slipped and I hit my thumb HARD. I’d hit my first finger with the previous swing and thought wow, that would hurt if I did it much harder and wham, I got my thumb next. This is the result:

bruised thumb

In the background you can see the Fleece Artist Celtic Vest I finished a few weeks ago (probably more like a month now). I really like it and it was a really easy knit. I think I should have made it a little longer by making the rows longer.

So that was #1. #2 came this afternoon. I was running around trying to get some tools together to go help my dad with something and I ran into a metal sign that was lying on a shelf at eye level in the basement. BANG! I didn’t know what was happening but my eye instinctively closed, so I cut myself about 5mm long about 2-3 mm below my bottom eyelid. I don’t think it’s going to be a black eye, but it’s really smarting right now. Ouch.

So what’s going to be #3 in my list of injuries? D’s on to cook dinner so I don’t have to handle any sharp implements.

In knitting news I finished a baby bib from the Mason-Dixon book with one of the balls of Peaches and Creme yarn I got in the States. It was really fast – Friday between finishing the major parts of my thesis (YAY!) I got it done. Now there’s just final revisions tonight and handing it to the department head tomorrow.

Here’s the bib – we were trying to get Ginger to look like SuperKitty, but it wasn’t working. Fred was much better. I will wash it thoroughly before it goes to the recipient.img_0731-small.jpgimg_0733-small.jpg

Please keep your fingers crossed that #3 isn’t a doozy!

Updated at 10:25 EST to add – IT’S DONE!¬† It’s not long, it’s not great, but I’M HAPPY WITH MY THESIS!!! and IT’S DONE! I’m going to bed now.

It’s sleeting

I left school early as it started to snow and the weather people say it’s going to be sleet and freezing rain this afternoon. Since I didn’t have to be at school, I left. I got a lot done this morning – I met with my new supervisor, got a chemical into an oven to dry so it can be used next week and scanned some negatives I took in the electron microscope on Tuesday.

I’m really finding it hard to buckle down and finish my thesis. I just don’t care any more. I’ve moved on and every time I look at it I’m reminded of all the cool stuff I wanted to do but couldn’t. Finishing it is in my best interests and I will be able to get a professional designation (P.Eng) when I’m done, so I have some incentive, but I can’t buckle down. It’s much more fun to look for a place to rent for a week in Girona instead! What about one of these? Okay, one of those is in Barcelona, but there’s not much listed in Girona. The spellcheck on here wants me to change Girona to Flatiron. What an unusual change – the words aren’t that similar.

With this weather, I thought I should post a picture of somewhere I’d rather be. This is on the island of Curacao, it’s a small beach D and I went to on our trip there in October 2005. He proposed on the trip and 8 months later we got married. D took photography in highschool so he can frame pictures well. I’m still working on that skill.