All posts by Chris

A picture is worth…

After yesterday’s babble-on, I thought I would take a few pictures of what I’m working on these days. As usual, when Chaos is involved, things didn’t go quite as planned. Please forgive the blurriness of some of the pictures – things were happening pretty quickly!
The sweater that I’m knitting for a friend’s baby. It’s the basic pullover (one-year size) from Top Down for Toddlers, knitted out of tan and royal blue Cotton Fleece. I’m a big fan of no-sew knitting.

“Cool, a sweater on the table!”

“Where did the sweater go?!”

“There it is…”

“And now it’s mine.”

Wow, you mean I can actually make changes??

Three years ago, I bought a small condo in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. For the 18 years prior to that, I had been a renter. It’s taking me a while to adjust to actually owning my living space, and to be able to make changes and improvements to it – changes and improvements that won’t result in a lost damage deposit.

At the end of the first year of condo ownership, I had some guys come in and replace the bathroom fan (since it sounded like an electric mixer with bent blades and a shorting motor) and intall a ceiling fan in the bedroom. I did have to purchase the bathroom fan (very home-ownerly), but my dad gave me the ceiling fan (although it was new, he’d replaced it because it didn’t have a remote…). I also had the guys replace the regular outlets in the kitchen with GFCI outlets. Seems like a promising start, doesn’t it?

But… after that, nothing. I had plenty of things that I needed to do, such as replace the cracked and cigarette-burned vanity in the bathroom, paint the bathroom, install a dishwasher, replace the sink and countertops in the kitchen, replace the tiles in kitchen/hallway/dining room (cracking because the tile wasn’t installed on the right kind of substrate), etc. About six months ago I did buy and install spiffy new knobs for the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen, but then they clashed with the hinges. 🙁

This fall I finally started to make some progress on this home modification stuff. It started while I was on vacation. I took two weeks off from work and spent the first nine days in the Black Hills, hiking, biking, and relaxing. After I got home, I spent the rest of my vacation cleaning and organizing – the sort of cleaning and organizing that had never been necessary before, because I’d been moving every other year since I was 16! It was a world-rocking realization that I needed to pull everything out of my closets and re-organize it. Pull books off the shelves and dust behind them (ewww, let me just assure you that three years of accumulated dust and black cat hair is not pretty – don’t try it at home). Get the edger out and vacuum the edges of the carpets. And, since it is a small condo (637 square feet), sort through accumulated belongings and take lots of things to Value Village if I didn’t want to be buried in things.

All that cleaning and donating felt pretty good, so off I went to IKEA to get a new Aneboda nightstand and a Magiker shelf unit.The old nightstand had been scavenged (1992) from the basement of dilapidated house I lived in while going to the U of MN. The Magiker became my new clothes storage system, replacing about 10 black milk crates. The milk crates were great while I was a nomadic student, providing flexibily shaped clothing storage for whatever sort of living space I found, but, gosh, since I’m a settled-down homeowner now, it seemed time for a change.

Not surprisingly, my bedroom looked a heckuva lot better after the new nightstand and shelving unit were in place, so… I called Dan the Handyman to have him come in and replace my ancient and vile sink and vanity. Off I went to Home Depot and purchased a lovely white sink and white three-drawered vanity. Unfortunately, during vanity installation, Dan the Handyman discovered that there was no way in the world the three-drawered vanity was going to work with the plumbing in my bathroom. Curses. So off he and I went to return the vanity to Home Depot. I looked around for something else I liked, but couldn’t find a thing that they had in stock. We went over to Menard’s and bingo! I purchased a drawerless maple vanity. Looking at it now, I’m glad the white vanity didn’t work – my bathroom definitely needed a little bit of color among the white sink, toilet, tub, and tile.

After the sink and vanity were in, I became much more aware of the boring pale blue paint that the previous owner had slapped on the walls before selling – slapped on without sanding or repairing the walls. Hmm – I wonder if he once had an etagere glued to the wall over the toilet, before he decided to rip it out, taking part of the wall… I picked up a lot of paint chips and masking taped them on the wall of the bathroom, trying to figure out what color I wanted. I started out with medium to dark blues and purples, but quickly abandoned the blues. I spent a lot of time looking at the paint samples, but wasn’t getting any further than wanting the paint to work with my Cheng-Khee Chee print Iris 90 (this isn’t a very good representation of the rich colors of the print, alas).

Jeanne suggested finding a shower curtain that I liked first. Excellent idea! At about the same time, Ana was divesting herself of her worldly goods prior to moving to Pittsburgh, and she gave me the can of dusty purple Devine paint she had used to paint her bathroom. Based on the paint spilled on the outside of the can, this looks like the perfect color – a custom tint called “Thunder.” I need to go buy a new can of it, since I don’t want to run out of paint.

But before going out and buying the paint, I’ve been meaning to slap some of the stuff from Ana on the wall to see if I really like it. I finally did that this weekend…or tried to. No mini-roller on hand, I dug up a 1″ foam brush. Well… it gave me an interesting effect of extreme streakiness. I tried another coat today. Darker extreme streakiness. I think I’ll have to pick up a paint pad or mini-roller to get an accurate effect. I also realized that I am going to have to seriously sand the walls and ceiling (in addition to patching) before I paint – the glossy pale blue paint was slopped on very thickly, and ain’t nothin’ much going to adhere to its blotchy, shiny surface. Even then, this will be a multi-coat job.

Ok, that was pretty boring. 🙂 Especially since my pictures of the wall were too bad to include.

Alarming thoughts

My brother stopped by earlier for final sizing of the replacement cutting board he’s making for me and he thinks that Chaos has grown taller during the past month. How is this possible?!? The cat is two years and two months old – shouldn’t he be long done with the growing thing?!? Is it just that he’s slimmer now, so he looks taller? Or is that simply wishful thinking?

Personally, I think that this cat is plenty big – he’s 15 lbs, and the vet says that’s a good weight for him. He’s tall enough to fish things off of the countertop when I cook. When he’s sprawled on my lap (winter only), he stretches from groin to mid-shin (not including his kinked and slightly short tail). Who needs an afghan when you’ve got a catghan?

Speaking of winter, here’s the view that greeted me from my living room window this morning:

I missed getting a picture of Chaos looking out the window at the snow. So I wrote a haiku instead.

Silhouette in black
Pointy ears twitching, watching
Dreams stalking snowflakes

Turkey and Falling Leaves

Thanksgiving was interesting this year. My dad and stepmom are in the UK (staying in the castle used for the Harry Potter castle exteriors – how cool is that?) this semester, so there was plenty of advance warning that it wouldn’t be the regular Thanksgiving at their house. Now that my brother Matt is married and part of an extremely large family of friendly, happy, and slightly tipsy inlaws, I simply invited myself along.

There was precedence for this, as two years ago my stepmom went to Jamaica for Thanksgiving with one of her daughters and my dad stayed behind, convinced that he would be unable to get any suitable food (bland, as in no vegetables, spices, or parsley). So he and I joined this extravaganza then. (I should take this moment to point out that you would’ve been fine, Dad – true, they were in Jamaica, but they were staying in some hotel that was part of an American chain – there would’ve been plenty of Dad-appropriate food. Probably more than during your recent visit to Morocco… but I digress.)

Today there were probably 40 people wandering around the inlaws’ house. When you consider that my nonwork time is primarily spent hanging out with Chaos, such a crowd was pretty mindboggling for me. But I persevered (with only minimal nervous eye rolling), and there turned out to be another knitter in the crowd – yay! So we talked knitting a bit. And I realized that I’ve now been knitting for slightly over five years.

Anyway, after much food was consumed (there were 38 pounds of turkey to start with, but not a heckuva lot left but bones in the end – and I can assure you that I didn’t eat anywhere close to a pound of turkey), a group of us settled in the living room. Many fell asleep, but I pulled out my sock project (which is always in my backpack of a purse, waiting for such interludes) and got the heel turned while listening to the occasionally cacophonic chatter. It was a pleasant afternoon, although I was cursing myself for not bringing along the baby sweater for my coworker whose baby is due very, very soon.

As you might be able to tell, I was having a bit of trouble trying to photograph my sock, and gave up trying to get a good picture in the interest of saving my Addis. I’m using the lace pattern from Falling Leaves (Fall 05 issue of Knitty) in a pleasantly autumnal shade of Koigu (which might be color P615 according to my KnitAble record, but it sure doesn’t look like the pictures of P615 I found through Google).

Attempting to relax

Sitting down to recuperate a bit from making cornbread stuffing to take to my brother’s in-laws tomorrow. It made me realize how very little cooking I’ve done in recent memory. Or in not-so-recent memory for that matter. I blame it on microwave popcorn; specifically, Orville Redenbacher’s SmartPop! Kettle Korn. The stuff should have a warning label: “This product is extremely addictive. Once you’ve had it, you will abandon normal dinner food and spend your evenings eating SmartPop! Kettle Korn and swilling chardonnay. Hee hee.” If I’d been forewarned, would I still have purchased that first box?

Recuperating turns out to not be particularly relaxing, as I did the old yardstick under appliances and bookshelves sweep earlier to retrieve cat toys. This means that Chaos is in “fetch mode.” “Fetch mode” requires two conditions. The first is the availability of one of several favorite fetch toys – tonight it’s been “sparkly purple mouse” and a plastic doohickey that once sealed a carton of Silk soymilk.

(Let me assure you that, blurry and spit-ridden as sparkly purple mouse is, he is much more photogenic than the plastic doohickey.)

The second condition is for me to be sitting down at my desk or, um, well, in my bathroom. Enough said about that.

Anyway, Chaos is so devoted to playing fetch these days that my shoulder has a perpetual faint achiness. It’s gotten to the point that I’m pretty happy when a treasured fetch toy is misplaced under a piece of furniture. I’ve known where sparkly purple mouse was lost since last Wednesday afternoon, and only retrieved him this eveninig. I’m pleased to report that he’s lost again. But don’t you think that Jeanne’s knitted Noro rug (thanks again, Jeanne!) shows off both Chaos and sparkly purple mouse to their best advantage?

An experiment

Ever since I started to read Laurie’s blog Crazy Aunt Purl, I’ve had this blogesque running mental commentary thing going on throughout my daily existence. So perhaps it’s time to give this blog thing a shot… but since I’ve been trying to catch up on all the backstory at Crazy Aunt Purl, I’m afraid that my posts are going to sound like Laurie. Um, imitation’s the most sincere form of flattery and not just a rip-off???

If you’re here because you know me (and really, why else would you be here? Wherever “here” is, of course.), the blog name will be self-explanatory.

Whew. I think that’s enough blogging excitement for my first attempt.