“H” is for Herps

No, NOT Herpes (the STD) – Herps (that’s Naturalist speak for Reptiles and Amphibians) – I love herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians. 

I am way way behind in the ABC-along, so sit tight and I’ll try to get through this.

Herp_montage I live in semi-rural central Texas and I have lots of wildlife to keep me company.  I am facsinated with wildlife that isn’t considered "warm & fuzzy".  I have seen a few snakes here on our little plot of land, all of them have been harmless.  (I took all these shots except for the one of me holding the Eastern black-necked garter snake).

Texas is home to over 115 species of snakes and the vast majority of them are non-venomous.  Even the venomous ones are not as abundant or dangerous as many people believe.

If you don’t like snakes around your home, there are some things you can do about it, and it has nothing to do with moth balls.  Really, who thought that one up? 

  • Keep your lawn trimmed low. 
  • Keep all rock, wood, brush and debris piles away from the home.  These provide great hiding places for snakes and their prey – rodents. 
  • If you feed livestock or birds, make sure the feed/seed is kept in an secure container. Some rats and mice will eat through plastic containers and it they can get to the food, they will throw a party and invite their friends.  If you aren’t controlling the rodents, the snakes will control them.

Safety practices that are just plain common-sense:

  • Never put your hands or feet where you cannot see them, like under a rock or log without checking under it first. 
  • Always wear shoes outside. 

These are all pretty simple things you can do to make your yard a little less hospitable to snakes. Myself, I like them, but I do have a 5 year-old that I have to be watchful of, so I teach her to respect all snakes.  You may have heard people say that you can tell a poisonous snake by the tri-angular head or the cat-eyes or "red on yellow kills a fellow" (okay, that one is right, but who can remember the rhyme in the middle of an adrenaline rush at the sight of a color-ringed snake?). There is really only one way to tell the venomous ones from the non-venomous ones and that’s by looking at lots of snakes.  Only with experience can one distinguish species in the field and then sometimes it’s still a little tricky.

Consumer note: Commercial snake repellants and deterrants do not work – save your money.  They will tell you that they work.  They lie.  If you don’t see snakes after using it, it’s mere coincidence. 

I have another FO to post about, as soon as I get a good shot of it.

This N That

Last Saturday was the first meeting
of our new Austin Knitters Meetup and I finally got to meet Judy in person.  It
was great to meet her and the other knitters who showed up.  It’s the first time
I joined a regular gathering of knitters and it looks like it’s going to be
fun.  Some newbies and some old hands, a good mix.  I know there are other
groups that meet in and around
Austin, but I got hooked up
with this one at the right time – the beginning.  I had to leave a little early
to attend a baby shower, but we’ll be meeting every 2 weeks.

I finished the baby blankie for my
nephews baby and I just have to weave ends.  I have so much to knit right now, I
don’t even know what to start next – I suppose I should look at deadlines to
help me decide.  After finishing the blankie last night, I organized my knitting
space.  It seems during any project I let things get messy and pile up so that I
can’t even face it until the project is done – that’s when I get motivated
because I need to tame the beast before I can decide what to do next.  I have a
lot of stash packed in Rubbermaid containers but I have quite a lot out on the
coffee table, book shelves, baskets by the fireplace, etc.  I like to look at
it.  I don’t like to hide it away even if I am not ready to work on it.

I need
to figure out a better system, one that works for me AND for my family since
they have to share the living room with me and my yarn. I ran across this over at IKEA and have been thinking that I couldn’t find a better deal on a stash container that prpotected the stash and let me look at it.  What do you think? 59  bucks plus the gas to  drive to Houston and back.  As long as I’m there, I might as well conduct a yarn crawl right?  Christine or Stacy could certainly point me to one or two.  I feel a road trip coming on.  I can’t come this weekend, it’s a holiday, I don’t do the highway during holidays – it’s just too crazy.  And Abby graduates from Pre-school on Saturday, next year…BIG KID’S SCHOOL!  I hope we aren’t setting her up for dissappointment.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Babies, Babies, Babies

Babysweater_jl Baby #1 – Tom’s best friend married a lovely Russian girl in January and they are expecting their first child in July.  The baby shower is this weekend.  I finished this sweater and booties and washcloth(not pictured) just in time.

Baby #2 – Nephew is expecting first child in October.  Started baby blankie and purchased yarn for the little baby britches in Rowan Denim from Last Minute Knitted Gifts.

Baby #3 – Coworker, married just last year, expecting first child in October, I think.  I have yarn and pattern for a baby hoody, will probably do some washcloths too.

More_baby_knitting As soon as I finished with Baby #1 gifts I learned that our next door neighbor, Dena is expecting her 3rd child, so:

Baby #4 – due in November.  Dena cared for Abby when I went back to work after she was born until she was over a year old.  I have nothing yet planned for this one, but I have several books and still more babyish yarn.

There’s hardly any time left this year for any more baby knitting (grandbabies excluded, hear that Kandis?) what with all the Trekking around I plan on doing, not to mention the selfish knitting I had in mind.  But most baby things work up pretty quickly, the little blue raglan cardy only takes a couple of evenings to complete.

I am embarrassingly behind on my ABC-along – I need to get going and get caught up.  Please send end "H-I-J" vibes my way.

Enjoy the Spring-Do NOT get Eaten!

Warning: This is a completely Knitting-Unrelated Public Service Announcement

Besides being a knitter I am a naturalist, both by nature and by training.  I appreciate every plant and creature, whether they walk, fly, crawl, slither or attach themselves to hosts.  I have no natural fear of wildlife, mostly because I have studied them, their environments, their needs and their behaviors.  I have spent a lot of time outdoors learning the natural rhythms of many ecosystems.  My favorites are those that exist near natural water bodies.  Humans are drawn to water as is wildlife. 

Human expansion displaces lots of species of wildlife.  Some species are more adapted to co-existing with humans, like many of the smaller mammals, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, they are very opportunistic and can live near humans with relative disruption in the lives of either.  Some species unfortunately suffer enormously from habitat loss, they have narrower requirements for habitat that can sustain their numbers, we see many species become threatened or endangered populations because of habitat loss or fracture.

In my wanderings I have observed many wonderful animals, including alligators.  It seems every spring there is some sensational news story about an encounter with humans and alligators.  Sometimes it’s just about an alligator that wanders into a subdivision near Houston.  The incident strikes fear in the hearts of most parents.  It is news because we don’t expect to find alligators roaming our cul-de-sacs.  Many Americans move into new homes assuming that they are protected from lions, tigers, bears and alligators.  If they bothered to learn just a little bit about the previous inhabitants of their neighborhood, they would discover that long before the bulldozers and land speculators arrived, the area was home to others.  They may not have a financial claim to the property, and they definitely don’t vote, but they were and most likely are still residents. 

Alligators live near rivers and coastlines.  They are native to the lower southeastern U.S.  They are an ancient species and they are formidable predators.  They eat meat.  Any kind.  They even eat things they think might be meat, like footballs and other toys.  They nest in spring and they are ferocious protectors of their nests – being one of the only reptiles that actually participate in the incubation and rearing of their offspring.

Alligator It is always alarming and tragic when the news stories about alligators involve the death of a human being.  This week has been extraordinarily alarming because there have been multiple deaths in different areas due to alligator attacks.  It all makes me upset because I know that education and a respect for creatures with whom we share some of our environments is all that would have been needed to prevent each one of these adult deaths.  Children are a whole ‘nother matter.  No one with children should let them near alligator habitat without constant vigilance as well as teaching them about the possible hazards of these areas. 

With our population increasing and our ever-expanding development of prime habitat, there will continue to be encounters like this until we understand that we aren’t the only ones here.  Nor should we destroy all the species that pose some threat to humans.  They have their place in the environment, though it may escape the comprehension of the average urban/suburbanite. 

Do not be afraid to go outside, to explore the wilderness, to become one with nature.  But please arm yourself and your family with the knowledge that there may be wildlife that we may threaten, requiring they defend, or that simply sees any animal as a meal.  Very few animals in the continental U.S. will even attempt to actually consume a human.  Most of the ones we need to be concerned about will attack if startled, cornered or protecting young.  Learn about the critters wherever you plan to go.  Alligators are amazing to observe in the wild, from a respectable distance.  But they can eat you.  Respect that fact.

Learn about alligators

More still on alligators including a map of US range

NEVER do this – it is pure stupidity!

Next post: knitting, I promise.

Got Blog?

Want to keep it? Maybe you’ve gotten the email.  Maybe you pay attention to what Congress is doing.  If you are a blogger, you should know what is going on.  In the interest of a free internet, consider the alternative.  Remember, we don’t knit in a vacuum.  We don’t blog in one either.

Save the Net Now

Sign the petition.  I did.

You’ll get no FLAK from me

Winter_branches I bought the yarn to do the FLAK, but I got impatient because there was a lot of math involved and decisions to make about too many things.  Yes, these are all excuses.  The truth is I lacked the commitment to do the FLAK because it required more of me than I could afford right now.  Then I saw this and the gauge was right and I like the styling and it was a free pattern and well, the yarn was just sitting there not being used, so I knit it.  I like it.  It’s a perfect fit, not much shaping, but it’s not entirely a bag either.  If the Perfect Sweater pattern ever sees the light of day, I will probably drop everything to knit it, but in the meantime there has been an explosion of expected babies in my life, so I need to get going on cute little baby things for part of the summer.  One day I will knit the FLAK, in another color, when the pattern is completed and I have the added benefit of seeing what all everyone else did with theirs.

Pattern: Winter Branches from KnitNet Feb 2006 (free pattern)
Yarn: Elann’s Peruvian Collection Highland Wool in Arizona Clay
Size: 42
Comments: My first saddle shoulder.  The pattern repeat makes the knitting easy to read once it’s established.  I made no changes to the pattern.  I think I’m conviced to purchase a subscription now.

We came. We saw. We swapped.

Staci invited me to a Yarn Swap – in Houston, a two hour drive away.  Christine was there and her friend Katy and her daughter, so there were familiar faces.  I could tell you the whole story, but others did it better.  There was the meeting of the tattoos and I got rid of some unloved or leftover yarn and brought home all new stuff to play with.  It was lots of fun.  Kelly has good photos. 

My Socks Arrived!

Holy cow, was that fast?!  See these y’all?  My Sock pal must have jumped the gun, cuz I got these yesterday when I got home.  Perfect fit.  And see how long they are?  Do you KNOW how much I love long socks?  Well, they don’t make them in stores long enough for me.  I get cold all the way up so it’s great to have socks long enough for these long legs.  Pam Ankrim, from New York City, thank you so much, these are great!  Oh and the Go Knit Pouch she added is so cool, I already set it up with another sock project – I have a meeting this week.  I am not sure, but I don’t think Pam has a blog since I couldn’t find one on the Sockapaloooza page, but it’s a shame.  I sent her a note thanking her and if she stops by to visit, I want her to know.  I love my socks.  They have already been to lots of places that I could never take them, like Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Miami and London, so I am pleased that Pam showed them a good time before they settled down here in Texas. 

Everyone Loves a Slinky!

Slinky_socks Well, let’s hope so anyway.  These are done and packed and headed to their new home with…XXX.  I hope she likes them.  I hope they fit. 

Pattern: Slinky Socks by Rae Blackledge
Yarn: Trekking XXL color #134

Mods:  Just one, the instructions call for you to turn the knitting to the inside so you can knit every row. I didn’t want to fiddle with turning the knitting so I decided to simply purl alternating rows of 6.  Starting with 10 rows purled, then knit 6 rows, and purl 6 rows till you have 7 slinky sections.  Not a major change, but it worked out for me.  Since I had knit a hat this winter using a similar technique, I got it right away.

This was my first afterthought heel.  I can see how it would work with certain yarn color patterns, but normally I would prefer my usual heels, less ends to weave.

I love the pattern and the yarn and I hope my Sockapaloooza Pal likes them too.  Thanks Allison for another smashing sock event.