Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It Was the Best of TImes, It Was the Worst of Times

Today is my last day of my vacation.

It's been nice. I've been able to hang with Chunky.

I got a lot done on my to-do list.

Dr. Mad Scientist got a job.

I got to experience the New Jersey Judicial System from the other side (maybe a separate post on that later).

But today is a very, very sad day.

Today we say goodbye to a beloved member of our family.

My creation

Springs the cat.

He's been becoming pretty frail, and in the past three weeks has really declined. He's not the cat we know and love. We decided it was time to say goodbye and have scheduled him an appointment late this afternoon.

We adopted Springs as an adult cat from a coworker, S, in Michigan. Her husband had always been allergic to cats, but could tolerate them well enough.

However, as time went on, his feline induced allergy/asthma got worse, and as he was an EMT/firefighter, breathing clearly was kind of an important part of his job!*

I'll always remember the day S brought Springs to come live with us. About a year and a half prior we had admired her sleek, playful, long Bengalese cat at the baby shower for Chunky that my coworkers hosted for me at her house.

He explored our Michigan apartment checking out the lay of the land. I had a garden statue of a pig I used to keep our closet door open and I remember him stopping, arching and hissing at it.

Mr. McDoodle (one of his many names) had quite an amazing life.

I remember, with great apprehension, the idea of moving from Michigan to Texass with him and Squeaky.

He and Squeaky did pretty well. And Bengal cats, while normally very vocal (you could have a full "conversation" with him), are even MORE vocal in the car!

By the time we moved to New Jersey we were old pros at moving with cats. However, while we were holed up in our hotel in southern New Jersey while we tried to find a place to live, there was one day where he slipped out the hotel door.

We discovered that he was gone pretty quick, and so Dr. Mad Scientist went to look for him. He discovered Springsy chilling in a room a few doors down with the cleaning staff.

That hotel experience is also where we opened the door (because we had no choice!) of letting him sleep in the bed with us at night. In Michigan we would close the bedroom door at night and he was OK with it. However, when we tried to do that in New Jersey, he knew what he was missing, and we were weak and let him in!

In addition to being a lap whore, he also had that habit of blanket humping that some cats seem to do (even though they're fixed!). Many a night I awoke to the rhythmic kneading of pokey cat paws on my legs as he got down to business with his favorite afghan (a hot pink and blue acrylic nightmare that my grandma made me when I was around Chunky's age).

I joked to Dr. Mad Scientist in 2008 that if Moochie was born with a cat tail, we would know who his real father was.

You could always count on my sweet Old Man Cat for a good snuggle be it on the couch watching TV or in bed reading.

That's where Dr. Mad Scientist will miss him the most. He likes to read, grade papers, play DS in bed and Springs is always there with him. Or in the mornings, when I wake Dr. MS up, you could bet that Springs would spring into action and lie on top of him, pinning him down and sapping his motivation to get out of bed to go to work.

I dubbed this phenomenon "Lazy Man Society" with Dr. MS and Springs sharing the presidency. Perhaps Lazy Man Society even had a theme song.

Lazy Man Society!
Lazy Man Society!
We only get up when we have to pee!

Springs was also amazing with the boys. Somewhere, and I can't for the life of me find it, there is a picture of Springs sleeping in Chunky's crib with him.

I will admit, as McDoodle became and Old Man Cat, he got a little grouchier with kids.

When Moochie was still in that not-quite-crawling-but-flailing-around-on-the-floor phase, I caught Springs nipping him once. But despite this, he tolerated the occasional todder-tail pull quite well.

In fact, it kind of saddens me that I don't think Moochie will be old enough to remember Springs. I think back to my first memories, and I was a little bit older than he is today.

You might also remember that Springs was quite the connesieur of crafts and yarn.

Be it modeling my handknits...

That's his aforementioned "girlfriend" afghan he's posing on.


To huffing yarn/knit items...


sniff sniff

To even helping me with my sewing patterns.


So finally, if you've made it through this therapeutic rambling of mine--


Farewell my sweet little kitty cat. We will miss you so much and our laps will be cold and lonely without you.

* S also had a son that was a year and a half older than Chunky at the time. When he was little he never showed any type of pet allergies, however as he got older and would visit other people's cats, he too seemed to be like his dad in reacting to them. This made me feel better about adopting Springs!


Saturday, June 25, 2011


Thursday was my birthday.

For my birthday I bought more blueberries so I could make 8 jars of jam--


Now with 100% less glass. I should have gone with my instinct before. But I started reading up on blueberry jam on the internet and the recipes I kept looking at kept saying to heat to 221 degrees.

Stupid stupid.

So the second time around, no temperature monitoring. Just a stockpot full o'Jersey blueberries, four and a half cups of sugar, a shot of lemon juice and you stir the whole thing for an hour and a half to two hours.

Also on Thursday Dr. Mad Scientist had another job interview.

This was his fifth one.

Interviews #1, #2 and #4 he interviewed for and did not get.

Interview #3 happened three weeks ago and he was invited to give a practice lesson shortly thereafter (I guess practice lessons are the teaching equivalent to a second interview, plus they get some free labor out of applicants.)

We still haven't heard back from #3. I assume he didn't get it because they started advertising for the position again. The least they could do is reply to his email asking the status. There's nothing worse than stringing along a job-seeker. Dicks.

Anyway, needless to say, we weren't holding out much hope for Interview #5.

I was off work for my birthday (as part of my end-of-school-fill-the-childcare-gap). When he came home after the interview, he told me it went well--which usually is an indication that he didn't get the job! (The aforementioned rejections he had a positive feeling about after he got back--the one he got to do the practice lesson for he thought the first interview didn't go all that well).

He told me that they wanted him to come in for a practice lesson (summer school session) and then he paused when retelling the story--and then said that at that point the Principal interrupted and said "I really don't think I need to see a practice lesson, would you like the job?"

HOORAY!!! Best birthday present ever!

So come Fall, Dr. Mad Scientist will no longer be working at the institutional cesspool that is known as Newark Public Schools and instead will be working for a high school here in Our Town.

The school is actually a vocational/technical school that's part of a county set of high schools that have their own county-run school board.

The Principal is actually a graduate of the high school.

It's a Blue Ribbon School.

It's a five minute commute for him!

It's actually more money than he made at his old job (not like that matters...as long as he can cover Moochie's daycare, we're golden).

And the best part: He'll be teaching biology! He taught chemistry this past year, but his first true teaching science love was biology.

So, did you make it this far?

Good. I will reward you with pictures.

Pictures of something I made to grace the walls of his new biology classroom this fall.

Dissected Frog Wall Hanging

It's a dead frog!

My favorite part?

Dissected Frog Wall Hanging

This little detail!

Unzip Mr. Froggy to reveal--

Dissected Frog Wall Hanging

His dissected innards!

Ha ha!

The pattern is my own. I googled some diagrams of dissected frogs, drew the frog body applique and innards.

I appliqued the innards into the "cavity" of the frog, sewed the two abdominal "flaps" with zippers an then appliqued the whole thing onto the brown background (remember those brown wax dissecting trays?).

For the quilting I just traced around him and then just kind of doodle-traced around that original outline.

The binding is my favorite kind--just flipping the backing over the edge.

Speaking of the backing--it's morbidly cute!

Sharing my KODAK MOMENTS with you!

Ha ha!

I even gave him a bit of a New Jersey twist by inking his scientific name on the tag below him.

Dissected Frog Wall Hanging

He's not actually a Hyla andersonii, but I couldn't resist!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I took these.


And some of these.


And filled up this.


And I made seven jars of blueberry jam.

While the jars were in the stockpot sealing--I munched on the dregs of the jam left in my stockpot.

And I crunched down on glass.

The tip of my candy thermometer had broken off into my jam.

Seven jars of jam contaminated with broken glass.

Seven jars literally down the drain.



Monday, June 20, 2011


Tomorrow I say farewell to being the mom of a third grader (Dr. Mad Scientist astutely pointed out that Chunky will officially be halfway through elementary school by 12:30 p.m. EST tomorrow...gah!).

And I will say hello to five(ish)* days of vacation!

The school year for Chunky ends tomorrow and Dr. Mad Scientist doesn't start unemployment until June 28. So there's a five business day gap where we didn't have anyone to watch him.

Thus my seven day weekend!

There will be baking--
This week's Cookie of the Week: oatmeal sandwich cookies--a homemade version of the Little Debbie kind. So damn good!

There will be sewing--
A summer knitting bag I made myself this past weekend out of some oilcloth and cotton scraps I had lying around.

And depending on the weather, lounging by the "pool"--
Basement neighbor built a platform for the pool this year so it's perfectly level. The boys are going to have a blast in this thing!

If I can accomplish all this stuff and lounging in one weekend, imagine how much fun it will be during this time off!

Although Dr. Mad Scientist and I are already making bets about how many times the office will call while I'm out. Ha ha!

*"Fiveish" because the last two days of my vacation I got called for jury duty. I was told by work I don't have to count those as vacation days. However what they don't understand at work is: ANY DAY I DON'T HAVE TO BE THERE IS VACATION! Plus I
always get boned out of taking all of my 10 days off a year. If I don't count those days as vacation days, I'll probably have to say goodbye to them on January 1, 2012. I also don't want to have to show up at work if I get dismissed early. Chunky will go to school with Dr. MS those two days and help him chip the gum off the bottom of the desks.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Deep Thoughts

This might not be something you know about if you don't live near places with Hispanic populations or watch Spanish language TV...

But why does the T-Mobile girl have a Latina twin?

(click to embiggen--sorry about the rainy-day drive-by shot)

She looks almost exactly like the Gringa version, but I swear her dresses are a smidge longer in the hem.

I'm holding out for a Spanish speaking Verizon Can You Hear Me Now Guy (even though he's officially retired).

¿Puedes oírme ahora?

And finally, continuing in the vein of shit I see while I'm driving around:


Why would anyone patronize a gas station where the gas is $1.02/gallon less across the street?

And no, it's not because the expensive station is full-serve and the other isn't--New Jersinians enjoy the fact they don't have to pump their own gas. Little do they know it probably contributes to their leadfoot/flip-you-the-bird-if-you're-going-too-slow tendencies.

Pumping your own gas is MUCH faster.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tweet Tweet

When I met my Youngest Younger Sister in Philadelphia over Memorial Day weekend, she brought me something she had been promising to mail me for a while, but never got around to it.

It was this sweater.


A nice little purple cotton zippered hoodie that she got from American Eagle.

She gave it to me because it was ruined with two or three of these:


Basically she gave it to me because it had a really nice metal zipper and she knew I'd enjoy ripping the zipper out and using it for something else.

But when I ripped the zipper out, I felt kind of guilty just throwing the rest of the holey sweater away.

With Toni Janome, and this pattern in mind, along with a few scraps of fabric from my stash, I made Youngest Younger Sister this:


A little birdie pillow.

I used a coordinating fat quarter I had in my stash for the back of the pillow.


All I did was applique a birdie out of some scraps on the back of the sweater. Then I cut out a decent sized square from the back of the sweater (I left the bottom ribbing in because I thought it gave an interesting effect. Maybe it looks like grass...and the birdie is floating over it...ha ha!).

Then I just sewed an identical sized square of the aforementioned fat quarter onto the back, stuffed it, and sewed it shut.

(But seriously, who doesn't know how to make a pillow in theory at least?)

I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. The pillow could use to be a bit fluffier, but I ran out of stuffing!

Now, just as she kept forgetting to mail me down the sweater, I need to remind myself to mail her up the pillow!

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Fee Fie FO

I've actually got a knitted FO to show you.

Because it's supposed to reach record highs of 100 degrees tomorrow (they've called a half day of school because of the heat...which is coincidentially Reason #100 Why I Hate The Lower 48: In Alaska school isn't cancelled for heat) I finished a sweater!


The details:

Pattern: The Shawl Neck Cover Sweater from Sirdar Baby Crofter #377

Yarn: Sirdar Baby Crofter in some numbered color--i.e. a faux green fair isle.

Needles: US 5

Notes: Chris and I went on the NJ Yarn Crawl and while at The Blue Purl in Madison, they had a shop model of this sweater all knit out in the blue Sirdar Baby Crofter yarn. I'm usually not one to fall for stuff just by looking at the shop model, but I fell in love with this sweater. It helped that the booklet had tons of cute BOY sweaters that go all the way up to a six-year-old size. (There are some cute baby girl sweaters too, as if the knitting world doesn't have enough of those already.) So I caved and bought the booklet and five balls of the yarn. Unfortunately they didn't have five balls of the blue that I originally wanted, but the clerk was able to sway me on the green.

And I think Mooch will look just fine in it.

Come winter time!!!

My favorite part has to be the shawl collar.


Which, now that I look at it, I think I crossed the collar in the "girl" style instead of the "boy" style. Whatever. I didn't realize there was a difference until I was reading the directions.

I made it a bit big, so when the weather does go below zero (aaahhhhh!) it should fit him just fine.

For now he'll have to be content to run around in his socks and sandals while it's still cute for a person to do so.


At least the Pot Garden is enjoying this hot weather.

I'll catch you all later--I've got a cold shower to take and an air conditioning unit to curl up with.

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Friday, June 03, 2011

Longest Short Week Ever

Or so it felt!

I capped off the week with not getting paid. We have a new office manager and allegedly the payroll company did something wrong so that we'll get our paychecks on Monday, not today.


We could have opted to have the firm write us hard checks. But then imagine the pain in the ass it would be to have to return the paycheck that will come on Monday...ugh. No thanks.

I really need to find a new job. But right now we're concentrating on getting Dr. Mad Scientist one. His contract is up in a few weeks and then it's back to square one. Literally.

I feel bad for teachers. Their careers are pretty much made or broke on an hour of someone watching you do your job. What the hell else other job is like that?

He's had a couple of interviews, and a couple of rejections already. All told right now he's got about 30 applications out there.

And while I'm sure there are things he could have done better, when he told some of his students that he wasn't coming back next year and some of them literally cried and others wanted to take out the department head (hee hee...welcome to Newark!) I think that speaks volumes.

But I'm going to finish this post on an up note, because it's the weekend and the weather here isn't supposed to be sufferably hot.

I leave you with a snippet of my pictures from our Philadelphia Memorial Day weekend.

Thing #1 I learned about Philadelphia: Ben Franklin is always watching you!

From the facade of City Hall...

...to the Library of the American Philosophical Society...

...to fire station plazas...

...from his final resting place...

...and finally from face down on a $100 bill in a fountain in Washington Square. So I don't know if it's a real $100 bill, but the fact it was in such great condition in the water leads me to believe it is.

There were three homeless dudes sleeping on the benches around this fountain and you know it was obviously put there intentionally--assuming it was real--it seemed wrong to fish it out!

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