Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sugar and Spice

Well, I finished the Iris shrug-cardi. It's definitely wee, but I think I like it as a sun dress shoulder cover-up. The pattern is Iris from Rowan magazine #35, Spring and Summer 2004. The yarn is Rowan Calmer, as called for. Normally, I don't knit with the yarn called for, but my mother and sister bought a huge amount of Calmer together. They both knit Iris and still had a bunch left over, so they handed it on to me. I pretty much followed the pattern initially, changing the decreases on the neckline so that they'd mirror each other. Then, after it was "done," I picked up along the bottom, knit until it was almost as long as I wanted (increasing a few times at the side seams after my waist) and ended with 8 rows of garter stitch to parallel the garter rows at the bottom of the shrug. My closure is a simple 4 stitch I-cord tied in a bow. I like that it's sweet but still a little bit sexy. I like that it's really a pattern but still a little bit of my own making. Of course, I can't wear it in the hospital and I don't wear handknits in the lab (it's less heart breaking to ruin a store bought shirt with bleach...oops), so I'm not sure how much use it will get. Probably not as much as it deserves.

Also, 1702 people in front of me on Ravelry. Sigh...

Last night I made up my own recipe and used a fish cooking technique I hadn't tried before! Making up recipes isn't new to me, but I just started eating fish about a year ago after not eating it for most of my cooking life (I was a stricter vegetarian). Thus, fish preparation still intimidates me a little. But last night B wanted to make pesto in order to break in his food processor and use the crop of basil we have. I wanted to put pesto on something other than pasta. Last week we bought a bunch of tilapia at Costco and froze it in lemon juice, so I figured I should try to do something with that. We also had panko, which I've been wanting to use. Solution: panko breaded baked tilapia. I guessed about temperature and time (375 for 12 minutes), and it worked out perfectly. It was fish I would serve other people, even kind of judgmental people. And B's pesto was pretty darn good too.

Kitties remain adorable. Ganymede has taken to trying to lick Biscuit clean. I'm not sure if he thinks she's dirty, or if he's just trying to be a good parent. Sometimes she lets him, sometimes she flips over and bites his face. She's getting comfortable, so she's in the punky phase. I can almost hear Ganymede sighing as she runs about all crazy.

P.S. We went to Blossom with some friends the other night. For details, see Christina's blog.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Slightly competent

Thus far, I've been feeling somewhat incompetent in the lab. I used to be really, really good in the lab; it was one of the main reasons I kept taking science courses in undergrad after I fulfilled my med school requirements. One summer I even did organic chemistry research, cultivating advanced skills like distilling solutions under vacuum and setting up and working with a Schlenk line. However, over the past three years, I apparently lost those skills. The first time I tried to pipette some media onto a dish of cells, my hands shook and I ended up mixing bubbles into the media. The cells lived, but I was embarrassed. I quickly relearned the basic skills, but I still don't know where things are in the lab. I have to ask where things like 50 ml tubes, 100% ethanol, and cell culture plates are.

Yesterday, I was making up EDTA (a solution that we use to decalcify the bone samples so that we can make slides out of them) when I realized that I was not the weakest person in the lab. We have an orthopedic fellow who is working on his research in the orthopedic surgery lab (I also work in the Reproductive Biology lab - it's a weird combination). He's very nice and clearly very smart, but he really doesn't know his way around a lab. I overheard him asking a grad student what it means to balance a centrifuge, and he confessed to me that he had no idea how to work a pipette. By the time that I was showing him how to use a stir bar and explaining how it works, I felt better. Not because he's struggling, but because it means that this is what the grad students have to put up with. They'd been telling me that I was doing fine, that I wasn't a burden, but I couldn't help feeling like I was slowing other people down with my ignorance. I actually am doing well. I'm not doing well for a Ph.D. student, but I'm doing well for an M.D. student, and that's good enough for me.

The Iris cardigan will probably end up a cardigan. I'm past my waist now with about a ball and a half left, so I think I'll make it. I'm adding some subtle waist shaping as I feel like it, which usually works out pretty well but isn't reproducible. I'm hoping to finish in the next week or so.

In other knitting news, there are currently 2,236 people ahead of me in line for a Ravelry login. I actually visited the site and chose not to get a login when it was brandbrandnew. I am a moron. Now I wait impatiently and hear other bloggers talk about all the time they spend there. I need to get a login while I'm still on research so I have time to play with it. Sigh... At least I'm not one of the 16,160 people behind me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Comfort food

A while ago I remembered this little device I used to use to make soft boiled eggs when I was a kid. It was an enclosed container with circle slots for eggs and a little basin for water. You'd add however much water to make harder or softer eggs and turn it on. The water would boil and steam cook the eggs, resulting in easy, perfect every time eggs. I know that you can make these eggs simply by boiling water in a pot, and typically I'm not one for silly cooking gadgets, but I really loved this egg cooker. Both my grandmother and my mother had one. Recently, Mom figured out how to use the egg cooker to steam idli, which takes it from a one-trick-pony to a....two-trick-pony.

When B turned a stack of change into an Amazon gift card, he suggested I look for it. I found it. Today it came, a modernized version of what I remembered from childhood. The egg poaching trays were larger, and it now buzzes when the eggs are done, but it's pretty similar. Also, it's so German. The eggs can be done weich, mittel, or hart. I love it! It came today, and I made two mittelgekocht eggs promptly. I'm one of those people who like ooey, gooey yolks, which I know a lot of people find gross.

An added bonus when the package came was that B had ordered a surprise gift as well. He'd heard me talking about Annie Modesitt's new book Romantic Handknits, and he both remembered the name and ordered it for me. Very impressive. My knitting queue is pretty backed up, but there are a few things that really caught my eye. The Adam's Rib jacket would be beautiful in a less floofy yarn. A Streetcar Named Desire would be perfect knit in a smaller size than it suggests for me. I love Charade, just as it is, a little wrap lace sweater. Notorious, the curve-hugging, corset inspired top reminds me of Red Carpet Convertible, but a little more summery and, you know, not a dress. There's more, but I should stop for now. Basically, it's a good book, and B is a good boyfriend.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Summer monotony

I'm kind of neglecting the Faroese shawlette. I can only take lace in small doses. It's probably because my free time, even now, is so short. I want something with occasional chunks of stockinette to ignore while I watch Scrubs, which happens to me my current favorite medical show. Unlike some, main and semi-main characters don't drop dead every episode. I appreciate that. Also, there are inside doctor/med student jokes which I also appreciate.

As mentioned, I started the Mason-Dixon After Dark robe last weekend. I really, really love the CotLin. It is, as everyone else has already said, a little tough on your hands, but it makes beautiful fabric. Unfortunately, it's cotton and linen, so it also makes really prone to wrinkling fabric. And since I keep my knitting projects balled up in a tote bag, they get wrinkled. Sorry. Pretend that it's not wrinkled. Focus on how pretty the seed stitch looks and how great the color is going to look with my coloring. Yes? Anyway, the robe is good mindless knitting, but on US 5's, a robe is going to take forever. I'm okay with that.

I've picked up stitches from the bottom edge of the Iris shrug to start turning it into a cardigan, length to be determined. In order to keep it from flaring strangely, I've done a couple of mirrored decreases at the front edges. I'll probably take it off the needles and try it on soon to see how/if that worked. I have enough yarn to do a full length cardigan, I think, but it might be cuter cropped. Either way, it is, again, a lot of stockinette, albeit on US 7's which is slightly faster work. And none of this stockinette is even in the round. Maybe I will go back to the lace soon. Or start a pair of Fair Isle mittens.

Last week was my first week really, really in the lab. Right now I have results from immunohistochemistry of an earlier bone specimen, two osteoblast cell lines growing, and two newer bone samples decalcifying. While I'm no closer to actually knowing anything new, it makes me feel like I'm doing something. Of course, it means that my days of reading articles on my couch with a kitty in my lap are over, but that's probably for the best.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Nose kisses

Biscuit has been home one week now. After keeping her in the back of the house for the better part of a week, she and Ganymede finally met face to face last night. I think the cat psychologist slow introduction plan actually worked. When they first met Gany was a touch nervous. There was one hiss and then some power play, but they touched noses a few times. There was no yowling or swats to hurt, just swats to prove he was alpha cat. She, of course, mostly thought it was a game, but by the end of the night she was moving into submissive posturing. He's more than four times her weight, so I think it's pretty easy to establish who is in charge.

We separated them for the night after about an hour of play. In the morning, when we let Biscuit out of the office again, she walked up to Gany, touched noses with him and walked on. Now, they're hanging out in the living room together calmly. It's far better than I could have expected. She's still going to challenge him and try to catch his tail from time to time, but it seems like he's accepting her despite her high energy level. We are very pleased.

We also built them a kitty jungle gym from Target. It's cheap and plastic but has levels to help establish hierarchy. I'll take pictures once they're playing in it regularly.

As far as the Iris shrug goes, it's "done," as in the pattern is done. However, I think I'm going to pick up around the bottom and turn it into a cropped cardigan because I have so much yarn left. I did start on the Mason-Dixon knitting bathrobe in teal CotLin over the weekend. I've been bad about taking pictures of knitting however, since I've been struggling to catch pictures of the cats in a still moment. This bathrobe is not going to make for very interesting photography either, what with the feet and feet of stockinette. I'll put up something soonish. Maybe.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Icarus and Biscuit

So, first to get the knitting content out of the way. Yes, out of the way. Today there are more important things.

I finished blocking my Icarus shawl last week. It took up the whole guest bed. Although I did wear it to a wedding this weekend, I didn't take pictures. Too busy having fun. If I run across pictures that other people took, I'll link to them later. Until then, these blocking pictures will have to suffice. I really, really loved this pattern. It's simple but has enough "real" lace action at the border. At my age, I don't really rock the all over Shetland shawls yet, but this is just modern enough. The yarn is lace weight Misti Alpaca, which is soft and warm and even protected me from the bugs in Maine. for the best part of today. B and I went to the APL. It took two trips for a final decision, but in the end we went home with a three month old kitten. Her tentative name is Biscuit, because she seems to live for making biscuits (you know, kneading with her front paws). We knew we wanted a young female cat because we already have a three year old male, and that's supposed to be the best combo as far as resolving territory disputes go. We also went with a three month old instead of a two month old since we wanted her to have a few defensive maneuvers in her arsenal when she heads off against Gany.

It's a good thing we had to pick a female, because it would have been impossible to pick out of all the little boy kitties. After we'd picked out Biscuit and were waiting for her to get her FELV/FIV test, we went and played with the guys we knew we couldn't take home. I found a little orange dude who licked my nose and posed for the camera. I found a little orange guy who licked my nose and made me want to take him home. But I was strong.

Right now, she's confined to the office while Ganymede gets used to her scent in the house. He's a little skittish and on guard already. We'll slowly introduce them to each other over the next week or two. She's spending a lot of time playing under the bed with her new toys. As she gets used to her surroundings, she'll probably become easier to photograph. She's learning to climb, and soon she'll be sitting in the windows like Gany, looking for birds and chipmunks.

And maybe someday I'll have a picture of her and Gany cuddled together.

Note: Biscuit sleeps in her kitty pi! Hooray!!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Minneapolis bridge collapse

My parents are fine. Jenny is in Korea. I don't know about a number of other people. I doubt Lauren or Rachel or Laura or other people from college and high school still in the Twin Cities would have been driving on that bridge during rush hour, but I guess I don't really know. There are a lot of people doing grad school at the U of M and living in Uptown... Hopefully, they take the Hennepin bridge. And I'm sure their families are busy calling them, so I won't take up their time (also some of them go to sleep early). But I worry.

Mom and Dad said this was the first time they were glad their daughters no longer lived close to them.