Monday, 30 January 2012

How to make a dead body

Apart from the obvious way, of course. Here at Pecked by Ducks we certainly don’t condone the taking of live bodies and turning them into dead ones. In this context, you understand, we are discussing the creation of a fake corpse.

Of course it’s possible that you may not live the kind of life that calls for the display of fake corpses in your home. But you never know when a little murderous d├ęcor might come in handy, so I present the following as a small public service.

You will need some clothes, including gloves and shoes, a nice big pile of towels and a disembodied head. If you don’t happen to have one of these kicking around your closet, you can always make do with a hat and some more towels.

We found a styrofoam head at Lincraft which Drama Duck took great delight in painting up. It’s clearly a female head, but we needed a male, so heavy eyebrows and a moustache were added. Now it just looks like a lady with an unfortunate facial hair problem, but no matter. Good enough for our purposes, which were simply to add a little atmosphere and scare the guests at a murder party.

So meet Roger.

Step 1: clear a big space on the floor (always a challenge in itself at our house) and assemble your clothes, head, towels and murder weapon.

Step 2: insert the murder weapon in the back of your artistically bloodstained neck.

Step 3: shove rolled-up towels into the sleeves and trouser legs of your clothes. Plump up the body with more towels and arrange the lot in a realistic pose on the floor. Add the head, shoes and gloves, and voila! Instant dead body.

Step 4: prepare for the screams as your guests arrive.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The $2,000 skewer

Remember the story of the $327 hair-washing hose? Ha! That was nothing. Just a trifle. I now have a much better “outrageous sums of money my children have cost me” story.

See that 8-inch piece of bamboo? Not the most glamorous piece of bamboo you’ve ever seen – a bit bent and hairy, perhaps – but without doubt the most expensive sliver of wood ever.

This is the skewer that, covered in yummy chicken, Baby Duck dropped on the floor on Sunday.

“Pick it up!” his sisters yelled, but Baby Duck, not being a man of lightning reflexes – or possibly any reflexes at all – sat and watched as the dog pounced. I rushed back in from the kitchen, barely ten feet away, but too late.

I’m still gobsmacked that she managed to down the whole thing so quickly. How do you swallow a whole 8-inch skewer loaded with chicken that fast? I kept staring at the floor, expecting to see pieces of wood – I mean, really? Who eats the wood? – but there was nothing.

So the worrying commenced. Monday morning she threw up, but she seemed so normal otherwise I crossed my fingers and hoped it was unrelated. When she did the same thing Tuesday morning I had to give up on the coincidence theory and take her to the vet. The vet checked her out but could find no other symptoms so it was back home to the worrying and watching.

Finally on Friday morning we had a different dog. Instead of bounding out of her bedroom (the laundry), eager to hoe into breakfast, she limped out and looked at Drama Duck as if to say “do I really have to eat that?” She had a couple of mouthfuls to be polite but that was it. She could hardly manage the stairs either and was obviously in pain, so it was straight into the car and back to the vet.

They operated and found the skewer had gone through her stomach wall and was heading for her liver. Fortunately there were no signs of peritonitis, which was my big worry, so they removed the skewer and sewed her back up. I’ll spare you the close-up of her scar – it’s quite gruesome.

But she’s back home now, looking sore and sorry, poor baby. The Carnivore’s feeling rather pained too.

“We could have let this one die and bought two dogs for that kind of money,” he grumbled. Can’t let anyone suspect he’s actually fond of the stupid animal.

I was so pleased the vet kept the skewer for me. Is that weird? I was busting to take a photo and share it with you. I guess I’ll just throw it out now, though it’s tempting to hang it round Baby Duck’s neck, like the albatross in "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner", to remind him to be a little faster next time he drops something on the floor.

Or I could just dock his pocket money for the next 40 years or so.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Turnip brain

Proving yet again that she is a cross between a particularly stupid golden retriever and a turnip, Two Planks has outdone herself. Today she devoured a chicken skewer that Baby Duck had dropped on the floor – wooden skewer and all. I am now anxiously watching her for signs of imminent death from pierced intestines.

I’m trying to reassure myself. She’s eaten all kinds of weird stuff in the past, from half-bricks to chunks of wood to thorny plants, with no ill effects. And hopefully she did actually crunch that sucker up instead of swallowing the damn thing whole. But still.

I may only be a blue belt in taekwondo, but I’m a black belt in worry. Fingers crossed this is another case of me imagining dire scenarios that never come to pass.

Does anyone else have a pet with a death wish?

Stupid dog.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

When is a ripple not a ripple?

Answer: When it’s a straight line. Something wrong with this pattern, I think. The crochet gods of the internet have never let me down before, but I really don’t think it was me. I tried a couple of times with the same result, so then I started counting the steps in the pattern, and I couldn’t make the maths come out right. There always seemed to be a couple of stitches left over, so the parts of the pattern never lined up properly.

This is what it was supposed to look like:

I tried a different set of instructions, from a magazine, and hey presto! new blanket for Little Brown Bear. All pretty and ripply, like it was supposed to be. Little Brown Bear is also sporting a new scarf in this photo – I was in the mood for crochet.

Santa brought me this lovely book for Christmas, so next I tried some of the easier flowers.

My newfound rippling skills came in handy here, as I can now increase and decrease. Crochet is gradually becoming less mysterious. Although I have to say: what the beep is with the whole UK/US divide? Whose brilliant idea was it to use the same stitch names on both sides of the Atlantic, but have them refer to different stitches?? They can go stick their crochet hook where the sun don’t shine, as far as I’m concerned. As if learning crochet isn’t challenging enough without having to begin every crochet endeavour with a sleuthing exercise. Where does this blogger live? Where was this pattern/magazine published? Because your single crochets, double crochets and every other flipping stitch are going to mean something completely different, depending on whether they’re using UK or US terminology. And then you’ve got to keep it all straight in your head. Single crochet = double crochet. Double crochet = treble crochet. And double trebles are … Aaargh!

+Deep breath+

I’m gradually building up a collection of flowers. When I have enough I’ll sew them all to a cushion. [Yay, says the Carnivore. More cushions.]

Anyway, back to ripples. I’ve been watching Lucy over at Attic 24 making her gorgeous ripple blanket, and I’ve got a serious case of ripple envy. And not just ripple envy, but wool envy too. I can’t find glorious soft wool like that at the local crafty places. Plenty of acrylics in bright colours, and I’ve certainly collected a lot of those, but they feel rough and scratchy. Nor do they drape nicely. They’re stiff to the touch.

If only I had a local wool shop like Lucy’s, I thought.

Ha! If only I had a working brain. There is a specialty wool shop, not five minutes’ drive away. I’ve just never been to it, since I haven’t been into wool before, so I’d forgotten all about it. When I finally recalled its existence the other day it felt like Christmas had come all over again.

Today I finally got there, Christmas money in hand, and just look what I got:

My in-laws always give me money for Christmas. Have I mentioned before what marvellous, charming, considerate people my parents-in-law are? Good-looking too.

Ahem. But I digress. So I rocked up to the shop today and had a delightful time, drinking in the colours, stroking and squeezing all the lovely skeins and balls of wool, cotton, bamboo and silk. Some of them were so soft and smooth they were almost slimy. Slimy in a good way, if you can imagine that.

Drama Duck enjoyed helping me pick colours. I wish I could have bought one in every colour, but alas, this beautiful stuff is merino wool from Italy, and it ain’t cheap. So I had to behave and limit myself to this glorious selection.

Sigh. Isn’t it beautiful? Can’t wait to see how it feels to work with. I just want to keep stroking it. Could make progress on the actual blanket rather slow! Wish me luck.