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Pumpkin heads, that is. This is the time of year we used to go pumpkin hunting. When the kids were little, it was a literal ‘Pumpkin Hunt’ with small-ish pumpkins hidden like over-sized Easter eggs throughout our yard. The treasures were brought back to be painted, carved, and otherwise embellished as traditional Halloween pumpkin heads.

Nowadays we grab them out of huge bins at the supermarket or local garden supply center which is nowhere near as fun. The weather had been rainy and ucky for so long, that we just couldn’t wait any longer for a proper romp through local pumpkin fields.

Essential Pumpkin Carving Ingredients

Note how efficiently we prepared for carving: paper bags to cover the table, cutting and scooping tools, small gourds for non-lit embellishments, even tracing patterns for carving (margarita optional).

Our grandsons were hyper-excited, wanting to carve before scooping, and quickly learned that some pumpkins are very hard to poke, saw, scoop, and carve. They became very vocal supervisors to the process, no less involved than the hands and arms that did the actual poking, sawing, scooping, and carving. This year Liam chose the pumpkin patterns tool set. They worked remarkably well, and quicker than a traditional carving process which involves a lot of looking, squinting, and peering this way and that to determine the best personality of each pumpkins’ potential.

Conor and boys tape on a face to the pumpkin headConor taped on the pattern and, cheered on by the boys, commenced to carve. A third pumkin still needed to be prepped with the scooping thing, so tools were passed to Grampa. Grampa isn’t big on going totally by-the-book and added essential teeth to the pattern. SEW Pumpkin Edits

The end results:

My pumpkin at home:
Pumpkin Head 2009

working-modeThis year I mourned the loss of another annual work event, the Halloween Pot Luck lunch. This is all I managed as decoration in my cube.

The fact that the skeleton is there year-round is irrelevant.

I listen to WBZ News Radio (1030 on the AM dial) during my morning commute. I get fairly accurate road reports every 10 minutes, and snippets of current events and news to follow up on later (or not… most items in the news only need a snippet of copy to cover them in their entirety IMHO).

From todays’ business news portion of the broadcast:

“Manufacturers’ orders for durable goods increased by 1.0% last month to a seasonally adjusted $165.67 billion, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. … Durables — a car is an example — are designed to last at least three years.”

Durable means three years? That just seems so wrong.

Most of my closet contents are in excess of ‘durable’ many times over. In this context, some fruitcakes could be considered ‘durable goods’ (especially if you use them as door stops).

That makes me ultra, uber ‘durable’.

Well, caught isn’t quite the right term. I took it off the curtain rods, attached wooden dowels top and bottom, and had it all ready to put in my office. There is a lone hook on the big blank wall my desk faces. I put a dried rose there from a bouquet DD Susan sent me years ago just so it wouldn’t be totally blank.

The rose is 12-14″ long. The wall is 9.5’x20′ so it is rather swallowed up by the wall. When I moved into this new space at the end of February (yes, 8 months ago) I planned on putting this batik print on that wall. I finally bought the dowels last July. I took it down off the window (the light filtering through the batik-ed print is lovely!) and gently cleaned the dust off it and carefully peeled it off the curtain rods.

Last weekend I used fine, clear nylon filament thread to tack the dowels on. It was ready to go to work. I can say I have eaten this frog only when it is actually hanging at work.

I should put it in the car, just to be ready, right? Yeah me, I was even organized! I took it to work, managed to hang it on the wall…

And I hated how it looked. Better than nothing but… not quite the vision I was after after all.

I bought a plain, cheap inexpensive poster frame for it after SnB yesterday. I left it in the car and went into work this morning, forgetting the poster frame was there in the trunk.

Bleary-eyed from working on 11+ email campaign reports and desperate for any excuse to leave my desk… frame to the rescue! Out I trot to the trunk of my car, collect said frame, and return to my desk. (You’re probably thinking I forgot to bring my office keys with me when I went out to my car, but I know me. I keep my office keys on my car key ring.)

Actually, it did take a fair bit for me to disassemble the frame and reassemble it without smudging the plastic, and keeping it semi-evenly in the frame, and clipping the borders back together all lined up. Then the back crimp hanger thingy for the wall hook was so tightly pressed into the backboard, I almost despaired of ever getting it actually hung. But I am more stubborn than a mere inanimate item (and most animate ones too, but I digress…).

I guesstimated it was over a half hour start to finish. The actual time according to a clock? About 9 and a half minutes. The aggravation factor always makes time stretch out MUCH longer!


I think it looks *much* better now…the wall AND the print.
And another frog bites the dust…

p.s. The analogy of ‘eating a frog first thing’ is catchy, but it really isn’t a motivator for me due to the whole eating part. Catching frogs is gross enough for sissy me!

I was drooling over them for 2 months and they came in red! They were in stock at WalMart for pete’s sake! On SALE!

I agonized.

I hesitated.

I tried to rationalize how its lighter weight would be easier for traveling but we weren’t likely to be making an overnight trip for a few months.

I was thinking too linearly. I can tote Reba anywhere, anytime. I can bring her to SnB meet-ups so I can have access to knitting resources, and show Karen how to do her own email.

Getting Reba connected to the network at home ended up being a headache from the word “GO” because… dyslexia happens, ya know? The security encryption code for our wireless network is a standard 28-key HEX string of letters and numbers. Fortunately they are not case-sensitive! But twist any of them about and it won’t connect to the secure network. If you carefully write down the encryption sequence, type it into a form field, then copy and paste it into a .txt file for future reference, you will be replicating the original typed version over and over.

If you transposed pieces of THAT… you spend hours trying to figure out what the trouble is. The network hub is checked. The online help files are scoured. And each time you create a new instance, you cut and paste in that same original string of characters.

Guaranteeing the same results every time.

I was ready to return the blasted thing. There were two more red ones in stock I could swap with. I had resigned myself to that chore when DH came in with a new, hand-written encryption sequence which we compared to the one we had been using. There was a single pair of swapped characters differentiating them… oh…


Meet Reba:

Over the past couple of days I have been struggling fighting with the validation and send mail code for an online form that should have been a piece of cake.

But it wasn’t working.

It worked over there, and there, and on this other one, too. So why wasn’t it working on this page? Validation scripting was being ignored, the page was being submitted willy-nilly with the confirmation note showing up as if it was a done deal, but I wasn’t getting the email. The email that was supposed to be sent between the submit button and the confirmation text.

I checked my naming syntax. Nope. I had copy-pasted the variable names throughout so the issue of mis-typed/typing would be a non-issue. (Copy-pasting is my favorite thing for code! The alert box is a close second.)

I took my code down to the IT department and begged help. A half hour later we were no closer to a solution or even an understanding of why the email was not being sent.

Taking up the gauntlet this morning (in my cube this time), the IT contractor showed me how far she had gotten in debugging the page. According to her, the validation worked. I still wasn’t getting the email and now the confirmation text and the page it was on were no longer appearing.

We fixed that easily enough. And stared again at the perplexing issue of WHY no email.

Glancing at the surrounding desktop I noticed that my Junk Email folder had quite a few items in it. It gets emptied regularly. The spammers must have been working overtime…uh…

The missing emails from the past two days had been going into my Junk E-mail folder. I had spent all that time debugging something that wasn’t broken.


(I feel so stoopid…)

Liam has requested a pajama hat to wear at night. He described a long cone-shaped hat with a tassel at the end. Using his crayons, markers and colored pencils, he showed me the colors to use, and that the tassel needed to be white (he got a  black piece of paper so it would show up).

Since there was a yarn sale going on at the online co-op and the yarn company makes really good stuff, I asked Liam to help me select yarn for it. He looked at the sale yarn online, compared colorways to his color ‘chart’ and selected a specific blend.

As we were leaving (this was at last week’s regular dinner visit) Liam wanted to know if I was done making his pajama hat yet.

Explaining to a 4-year-old that the yarn hadn’t been shipped in the 2 hours since he requested it, nor had I whipped up a hat in that time was a reality check for him… that bounced. He glumly agreed to wait a little longer.

Liam likes his practice pajama hat, but the real one should 'be down to here' (hip level), he says.

Liam likes his practice pajama hat, but the real one should 'be down to here' (hip level), he says.

I did not have the colors he asked for in my current stash. I didn’t have an actual ‘pattern’ either. This is a first draft, a practice pajama hat to tide him over until the real yarn gets here and I can make a better one more to his specifications… as in, make it longer, and please don’t forget the tassel, okay?

Liam is generous in showing appreciation. He made me (well, me and grampa, and uncle Phil) bookmarks out of an index card, decorated with a Mickey Mouse sticker and mine also had a really good flower drawing. He ‘wrapped’ the gifts in colored construction paper and gave them to us tonight.

They have all been getting into the Halloween holiday spirit, decorating windows and walls with jack-o-lanterns… next Wednesday we will do real PUMPKINS!

Getting into the Halloween holiday spirit!

Getting into the Halloween holiday spirit!

The dogs love to smell the world rushing by. They each have claimed a window in the back seat. Humans need to get in the middle because they can be real stubborn (AND heavy!) about moving away from ‘their’ spot. I tried to sit in Dixie’s spot while mother was visiting and she sat on me in order to be at ‘her’ window. Moving to the middle was awkward because she refused to assist in the seat transfer. She had plunked her bottom on me. I was now part and parcel of ‘her’ seat, and I wasn’t allowed to move even if it meant getting out of her way.

Puuush de button (down, down, down!)

Puuush de button (down, down, down!)

Duncan sits all perked up as if attending a concert, resting his forepaw lightly on the arm rest while gazing out. He almost looks relaxed…well, relaxed for a wheaten terrier, anyway.

Dixie has made the connection between the power window button and the window opening. She will paw at the button, trying to activate it. Occasionally, she actually does manage to operate it. Then both paws go on the arm rest in order to raise herself higher and farther out the window. This always gives me a heart attack, worrying that she will fall out as we travel highway speeds to our destinations. Since an open back window when the front windows are closed makes an awful air pocket thumping noise, it’s really easy to notice when she has managed to open it.

Dixie is a very verbal dog. She ‘woo-woo’s’ for meals, and to remind us it is past time for a walk because see! Other people are out with their dogs! See! See! We should be out there, too!

Duncan is an intense butt-wagger. His docked tail twitches up a frenzy and he bounces straight up and down when excited. Although Duncan is smart, he still hasn’t figured out the connection with the window buttons. Dixie has, but she doesn’t have the manual dexterity to properly operate it consistently.

But she tries.

I am sorta like her because there is whole lot of stuff I can’t quite do, but that doesn’t stop me from trying!

4 adults
3 laptops
1 kitchen

One is checking a recipe.
One is logging in to check email, and also confirming contents of recipe being used by current cook (see previous).
One is attempting to log in to a new account on a new netbook.

They are all conversing with one another at the same time… well, taking turns to speak, of course, but having actual social dialog while they check the recipe, the email, and the login procedure.

For the past several years, holiday meals and meal planning have not featured piles of cookbooks spread across counters in the kitchen. The more common sight ’round these here parts <g> is the cook(s) staring intently at a laptop screen as they stir, peel, measure, or assemble shopping lists and ingredients.

Welcome to the future.

For cooks it has to be the best of times. We have access to fresh fruits and vegetables year ’round. We can store meats, entire meals, and freshly-picked organic produce in freezers for months on end. In the dead of winter we can taste new spring peas, blueberries, and carrots.

When cooks find themselves with an overabundance of one item, they can search the ‘net for what to do with it (chicken sausage was my most recent one). Just type in what you have in your cupboard, and voila! A list of recipes using your ingredient(s) appears to choose from. (If you find one for broccoli rabe, skip it entirely no matter what the comments say. yechh!)

You know, I can do that for knitting too. I can log into Ravelry and look for patterns using XX yards of [insert yarn type/name here]. Granted, the results can be quite extensive, and hard to pick between, but the deal here is, you have access to people who already did this project — and instant human reference for assistance! They have photos of the finished items in most cases.

In addition to the wonderful Ravelry site, I can find video tutorials for almost any stitch you can name. In the privacy of my own laptop I can watch, re-watch, and watch again how to to the kitchner stitch (almost 20 times, but who’s counting?). I can now do the kitchner stitch with minimal visual reminders for assistance.

Ahem…but I digress…

Computers in the kitchen are now as basic as the dishwashers, refrigerators, and microwaves. And more multi-functional to boot!

“I’m at the age where I unlearn something every day.”
Janice Hess, erotica writer

Knitting for car ride ‘to’ – check
Toothbrush – check
Knitting for car ride ‘from’ – check
Nightie clothes – check
3rd knitting project in case first projects are too boring – check
Miscellaneous Toiletries (read: makeup) and medicines – check
change of underwear/outerwear – check
new knitting project – hey, the car ride is over 3 hours each way AND we are looking at foliage (I can *so* knit and look at trees out a car window!) – check
extra sweater (it was Vermont, after all!) – check
show-off knitting project (take votes on which button works best with finished sweater) – check
small flashlight to see with, so you can finish the row if it gets dark before you get to a good stopping point -check
extra flashlight in case the batteries die on the first one – check


I dropped one of the needles (project #2) between the seats and couldn’t reach it. Projects #1 and 3 were requiring more brain than I had available to figure out the next step while riding in a car and gaping at fall foliage. The show-off project was all done except for voting on the buttons.

I should have packed a 4th project for this overnight visit.

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