Penny for Our Thoughts

Here are two shots of the little kitty I’ve been fussing over this past week, courtesy of Jen, UCSC’s Animal Control Officer (with uploading by Melissa).
Sweet kitty
Isn’t she pretty? With the copper tinge to her fur, I realized her name must be “Penny.” In fact, I went whole hog and decided her full name is Penelope Angelina Lambeaux—though of course the people who adopt her will come up with a name of their own.

She is shy but hopeful
The “Lambeaux” comes from one of my beloved former cats—Joanna Clambake Lambeaux—a sweet little pastel calico who began life as a feral kitten. Like Joey, Penny has the courage to reach out for affection, despite her knowledge of the many dangers and unkindnesses of this world.

P.S. I know there’s been an absolute dearth of knitting content here lately. I promise to work on remedying this over the weekend.

Way Too Cute!

I don’t even have a kid this age in my life, and I’m still planning to knit this sweater. After all, there are kids all over—I shouldn’t have trouble finding one to give it to.
Little girl in a striped sweater
I picked up a copy of this pattern as a freebie at Michaels a while back, but you can also get it at Lion Brand Yarn’s website. (You may have to register at their site before you can access the free patterns.) Depending on the size you knit, it takes only 3-6 balls of Cotton-Ease, which is quite a nice yarn to work with and costs around $5 a ball. I’m planning to use the terra cotta and maize colors for stripes as shown, but I’m switching the background color to lime, which is really not as loud as the color name implies.

So far, it’s been smooth sailing with the final processing of the writing placement test results. Huzzah! I have every hope that life will be getting saner any day now.

My People Are Back!

Well, half of them anyway. The other half will be back before the week is up. And by “my people” I don’t mean “the students.” I mean the casts of Bones and House and CSI and Numb3rs. I just adore those folks: smart, assertive, poorly socialized. I admire their intelligence and empathize with their awkwardness.

Melissa is very patient with me and “my people.” She doesn’t follow any of these shows, but she knows I do and is quite thoughtful about not calling while they’re on-air. She also spends more time than she should have to listening to me summarize episodes and talk about my hopes for the characters: cases they can solve, personal breakthroughs they might make.

In the summer, I turn the TV on only for baseball (and the occasional science program on public television). During the fall/spring TV season, I treasure my Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays with “my people.” I’ll miss a show if I have to, but it takes something special—say, a performance by Red Priest or not-just-good-but-really-amazing free food—to get me to give up my shows. Last night, I got to meet up with the folks from Bones and House for the first time in months. I feel a bit embarrassed admitting how happy that reunion made me. OK, so things are a little tense right now between Seeley and Bones. They’re working it out. Jack continues to be good-natured in the face of Angela’s recently revealed prior marriage. Zack is back from Iraq, a bit shaken, but in one piece—he’s got everyone in the cast and all sorts of nut cases like me out there in TV-land rooting for him. House is still House. I don’t think I actually like him, but I can’t help coming back for more. His low-level autism/OCD/whatever-you-want-to-call-it feels oddly familiar, given all the years I’ve spent in academia. And with the glass wall of the screen between us, I don’t have to worry about his nastiness being directed my way.

I’ve been working on a list that explains why I find these particular groups of characters so compelling. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

1. Intelligence. On every one of these shows it’s intelligence—not beauty, not wealth, certainly not “cool”—that makes a person valuable.

2. Female leadership. Bones heads her unit at the Jeffersonian, and her supervisor is also a woman. Who does House report to? Cuddy. Grissom heads the CSI unit, but Catherine is a team leader. The core group on Numb3rs includes FBI agent Megan Reeves and math whiz Amita Ramajuan. In these worlds women are not bimbos. Yes, they all have that traditionally-beautiful-like-you-pretty-much-have-to-be-to-get-on-television thing going, but their looks aren’t why they’re there.

3. Problem solving. I love a good puzzle to fiddle with, and each of these shows offers an interesting puzzle at the heart of every episode.

4. Dedication to ideals. These ideals vary from show to show and character to character, but over and over again “my people” show me how deeply rewarding it is to engage in work because you genuinely believe that work has some hope of making this world a better, safer, fairer place.

5. Hope. Besides the gimmicks of interesting crimes or diseases what holds these shows together is the characters’ loyalty to and willingness to work with one another. Yes, they’re a motley and poorly socialized bunch. Bones is rational to a fault, House is downright maddening, Sara has who-knows-what kind of baggage lurking beneath the surface, on his worst days Charlie’s just a hair shy of being an idiot savant. But this lack of social skills never prevents them from standing beside one another in the face of challenges. (OK, so maybe that’s not completely true of House. The jury’s still out on him. However I have hopes his team will either be reunited or rebuilt in a way that leaves ample room for everyone.)

This is the week my people come back, and I am one happy camper. Some folks might say “get a life.” My response is, “I already have one. And these folks are part of it, thank you.”

P.S. The other good thing about hanging with “my people”? More time to knit!

Tuesday Mewsday: The Kitty Saga Continues

Well, I’ve spoken with my excellent vet (Go Kerrin Hoban! Go Harbor Vet!) and she’s agreed to take the kitty in as an adoption. They have a whole procedure for advertising rescues to make sure the cat doesn’t already have a family looking for her, then will get her vaccinations up to date and offer her for adoption.

I have her in my office now. (She’s a bit ambivalent about this. My office is quite a change from the drainage pipe she’s been calling home.) Campus animal control will come take a picture of her, in case anyone calls looking for a missing cat. Then I’ll go get a carrier from home and drive her over to the vet.

I will try to get a picture of her for the blog, so that you can see this charming little lady who’s had me so preoccupied.

P.S. She’s been in my office for an hour or so now and has relaxed. She’s cozied up on my desktop in front of the computer keyboard, letting me work—slowly—so long as I keep giving her lots of petting.

If the Sock Fits…

Hooray! By ignoring the suggested measurements and working things up a good inch shorter than recommended on the leg and foot, I have produced a sock that fits me comfortably.
Sock and a nicely arched foot
(Check out the boho-chic, paint-spattered artist’s-loft-floor we used for the photo shoot.)

If this sock looks familiar, that may be because it’s worked from the same yarn as my last (and first) pair of socks, which came out lovely, but not the right size. That pair is now with my mother, whose feet they do fit.

I used Sensational Knitted Socks to work up this pair, going with one of the simple, four-stitch repeats for the pattern.
Archy has doubts about the sock and a nicely arched foot
While I am quite pleased with the results, Archy appears nonplussed. “Why,” he asks, “all this fuss over something a kitty cannot eat?”

I have survived the adminsitration and scoring of the first writing placement test under my watch. Once the results are transfered over into students’ records, I’ll be in the clear until November, when we’ll give the test again to a much bigger group of students. (We had just under 500 students take the September exam; we expect about three times that in November.) I keep waiting for something to spontaneously burst into flames or to discover that I’ve completely bollixed things up in some mysterious fashion that I should have anticipated, but didn’t. When I make it through a few more days with no puff of smoke or sirens or SWAT teams or whatever, I’ll feel much calmer.

The sweet kitty by my office stopped by to say “hello” this morning and was very glad of some treats and a drink of water. She didn’t mind at all when I slipped a collar around her neck, just kept munching away. I hope, I hope, I hope that she has a home and people who love her and that I’ll get a call today or tomorrow, saying “Thanks for your concern, but this kitty is no waif.” Please keep sending good kitty vibes my way.

What About the Kitten?

It’s not even Tuesday, but I am full of fretting on behalf of this dear little cat and must give vent to my feelings.

A sweet little kitty has started turning up where I work. She has no collar, so I can’t tell whether she belongs to one of those rare people who live on campus and are allowed to have a pet or if she’s a stray someone dumped here. I’d guess she’s just a bit less than a year old—small and slender with that I’m-a-growing-kitten indentation in front of her hips. She’s marked rather like Sparky, but with ruddier undertones.

I first met her last Wednesday when she came moseying by my office window, which, because my office is built into a hillside, is at ground level. When I caught sight of her out of the corner of my eye I couldn’t quite figure out what she was: too big for a squirrel, too small for a fox (and the foxes on campus don’t mosey, they trot). Then I realized she was Felis catus, just a bit out of her element. This kitty is definitely not feral. She’s more jumpy at some times than others, but will readily let a calm, patient person approach her to offer some petting.

I brought treats up for her on Thursday (don’t tell Sparky, he’ll be furious that he’s sharing involuntarilty). That day, she nibbled at them, but was diffident, which made me suspect she does have a proper home here on campus, but today she wolfed them down—and later I saw her sniffing about drainage pipes as if she might be looking for water. I cut the bottom off a plastic soda bottle to make a bowl for her and left it outside my office. I’m not sure where she is just now, but I’m hoping she’ll find it if she’s looking for a drink.

My friend Ellen and I agreed that the next step should be to buy her a collar and a tag with a message like like “we’re worried about this kitty, please call to tell us she has a home” and a phone number, in hopes of discovering that she’s not an urchin scrabbling about on her own.

But what if no-one calls? Sparky and Bea have not asked for a sibling and I’m not eager to add to my household (regular vaccinations for two cats already stretch my budget uncomfortably), but I worry about her alone at night here on campus where she’ll have to defend herself from raccoons, coyotes, drunken students, and who-knows-what.

And if someone does call? I’ll know she has a home, but I’ll probably still worry—I’m not sure I trust parents who let her wander about without any identification. She’s just a wee little thing.

If you have an in with the angel who watches over kitties, ask her to keep an eye on this girl, won’t you?

When You Live in Santa Cruz (Non-Knitting Musing)

Everyone has an opinion and is quite ready to share it.
Lefty or righty?
Sometimes the tricky part is understanding what that opinion means. Is this a lefty car or a righty car? Does this car think folks worrying about global warming are as wacko as folks who expect the four horsemen of the apocalypse to literally come riding into town with the next stage? Or does this car think that we aren’t taking global warming seriously enough?

The global warming car was parked in front of a house with this message pressed into its walkway.
ain't it the truth?
Now that’s a philosophy I can get behind. And yes, facts can be relative, can be interpreted different ways, etc.—but I weary of living in a nation that confuses “fact” with “whatever opinion is being shouted most loudly.”

Stitching and Pitching

Tragically, the A’s lost Sunday’s game, despite the fervent cheering of the many knitters and other needleworkers in attendance. But we knitters are a stalwart bunch and remain faithful despite the setbacks.

Not only was Sunday Stitch ‘n Pitch, it was also Hispanic Heritage Day, which meant we were treated to some folklorico before the game.
Folklorico in pregame festivities

Our Stitch ‘n Pitch gift was a darling little project bag.
Goodies from the game
And, because we were among the first 10,000 fans, Melissa and I also received A’s cowboy hats. I am so not a cowboy hat kind of a gal, but let me tell you, that was one comfy hat. It’s nice and roomy, the open weave keeps it from being too hot, and it makes a heckuva lot more shade than my usual baseball cap. Much to Melissa’s delight—she has a cowboy hat she likes very much, thank you, and has been frustrated by my disdain for it—I intend to make mine a regular part of my baseball wardrobe. Yee-haw!

As at the Giants’ Stitch ‘n Pitch, I found myself surprised that relatively few knitters brought projects in the team colors. Really, I think we would be more effective knitting missionaries if we took the time to color coordinate. Here’s one knitter who did not have that problem. She was wearing an absolutely gorgeous examplar of the beautiful union that knitting and baseball can be.
Original A's tam

I worked on my Origami Cardi.
Progress on the origami cardi
I’m down to just an inch or two more on one front panel and then the sleeves, one of which I hope to work up at tomorrow’s all-day meeting.

Here’s a beautiful Midwest Moonlight Scarf (pattern in Scarf Style) in an absolutely delicious yarn from Cider Moon.
Knitters at the game

Th day’s big irony was a bench-clearing melee in the bottom of the first. Nick Swisher—who’d just received the Athletics’ nomination for the Roberto Clemente Humanitarian Award in a pre-game ceremony—was hit by a pitch and charged the pitcher.
Big fight
Needless to say, neither he nor the pitcher spent any more time on the field that day.

P.S. Have you seen Nanette’s (of Knitting in Color) new “Bewitching Gloves” pattern? Now I confess that I may convert them into wrist warmers to avoid niggling with all the fingers, but I am definitely buying a download—genius!

P.P.S. There’s a new free Harry Potter dishcloth pattern over at InsanKnitty. Whee!

Tuesday Mewsday: Shiver Me Feline Timbers!

Let me open by noting that I can claim no credit whatsoever for this act of knitting genius. All I did was surf the net looking for opportunities to exploit the brilliance of others. This pattern comes from Kate, of Knitting After Hours, who has been generous enough to make it available for free.

So, for all of you who have sea-faring cats longing to release their inner pirates—behold, the Kitty Eye Patch.
Kitty with an eye patch
Read about the eye patch, check out the blog, have fun. I’m off to another all-day meeting.