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Monday, August 30, 2010

Blood-Sucking, High-Hopping Freaks

(Alternate Title = "Banished!")

No, this is not a post about True Blood, Twilight, or any other vampires...per se...

Somehow, my indoor cat ended up with fleas. It's probably my fault for letting her out on the balcony occasionally, but maybe I can still blame the downstairs neighbors' little rat-dog (who is actually pretty darned cute). Of course, since fleas jump 5-6 ft, and I actually do leave my house from time to time, I might have brought these pesky suckers (literally) home myself.

I didn't have a clue that the cat had fleas until the other day, when I was reading an article about the recent increase in bedbugs across the US. Looking at the photos of the bites shown online, I thought maybe that's what was wrong with my face, which I just thought had been breaking out semi-subtly. While checking the head of the bed (where my cat tends to sleep near/on or around my head and face) for signs of bed bug invasion, I noticed something I hadn't seen since my old cat Merlyn...disgusting flea dirt! I'm actually glad it wasn't bed bugs, because they seem near impossible to get rid of.

After stripping and washing the bed linens, followed with a nice hot spin in the dryer (for the linens, not me), I banished the cat from the bedroom for the time being. I picked up a flea & tick comb and gave Gracie a good once (or 15-time) over, and yes, did rid some actual fleas from her, as well as their leavings. Poor kitty! I was amazed that she actually let me do it. Usually she starts attacking any brushes/combs on the third or fourth stroke.

I went to vacuum and found that my 5yr old cleaner wasn't having it. It now sucks up most of the dirt/debris/cat litter off of the carpet, then redeposits it in a tidy little stripe of concentrated crap in it's wake. Instead of figuring out where to take it for repair, and how much it would cost me (the vacuum was a gift, so it was free) I decided to run out and buy a cheap, well-rated vacuum to use for the infestation, and if it doesn't last long, at least it was cheap!

I don't like using harsh chemicals in my house, and really don't want to use spot treatments, bug bombs or even a flea collar on Gracie. Considering the warnings online and even on all of the packaging, which simply makes me think of Happy Fun Ball (do not taunt the flea collar), I would prefer to fight these little suckers in the most natural way possible. I did buy a flea collar, because I read somewhere that if you put a piece of one in your vacuum bag, it will keep the eggs from hatching. I haven't used it yet though, since I don't know if it would just blow the chemical residue into the air.

Ugh. Any suggestions? I'm thinking about using food grade diatomaceous earth in the carpet and upholstery, but will probably have to buy it online. For now, I'm off to comb the vermin out of the cat's fur...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Adventures in Entrelac, part I

One day a few weeks ago, when I was just this side of finished with the crocheted cables baby blanket for Moriah, but was itching for something different, I received my Knitting Daily newsletter from which included this video on entrelac knitting. I've always liked the look of this style of knitting - like a woven fabric without all that pesky weaving. Of course, I never tried it before since I couldn't knit to save my life. But, after watching Eunny explain it while demonstrating how to work the stitches, I thought it looked manageable.

So, I picked up some sticks and some unused cast-off cotton yarn, and stitched up a swatch. Here are my results - don't judge, I'm new to increasing/decreasing...
I thought it wasn't too bad for a first try, though it could use some looks better in this shot, since you can't see the joins between each block:
Still doesn't look like Eunny's work...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Long time no see!

Okay, I realize it's been over a year since I've posted here, but I've been thinking about reviving this here old blog... So, this first one is going to be short and sweet (like me, only not as short, and much sweeter).

Over the last year and half, I've been pretty well occupied with the stress of my last job ending (phasing out the end of operations for the closed company) and 3 months of unemployment (which were surprisingly non-stressful). The end of ops at the last job was a little bittersweet - I had some pretty awesome co-workers, and I'd been there for 9 years by the end. Oh yeah, and since I generally don't like change, I was having some pretty nasty IBS symptoms (Or at least, that's what the doctors told me it was most likely to be, after running tests and x-rays) during the last 6 months on the job. The up-side of the IBS symptoms was the weight loss, which I described to my doctor as involuntary anorexia - no appetite, had to force myself to eat. Of course, after finding my new job (which actually found me), all that weight came back with a vengeance. I'm working on that again...

As for the new job, I won't be saying much about that here (too public a forum), but so far it's going pretty well. I ended up with the same old commute though, but have thought about moving closer. Not making any big decisions yet though, since it's only 2 months in.

As for the 3 months in between, I spent lots of time with my family and did some traveling - Boston and Santa Fe. I did the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Sacramento, to benefit local breast cancer research and services in the Sacramento Valley - and I walked it, because I definitely couldn't run it! I also continued my crazy crafting obsession. I took it into my head to attempt knitting again, and it finally took. I don't know why this time was different, but I've finally managed to master the knit stitch and the purl stitch. Of course, that's pretty much the full extent of my skill at this point, though I did try Entrelac. More on that in another post.

Anyway, I think that will be it for now. I need to save something for subsequent posts, after all!