Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Well, hasn't it been awhile. And bits of it have been stinkers.

My parents and my kids and I are all still alive and healthy, as are my cats, Marten and Willow. They still hate each other. Yesterday Marten brought me a live garter snake.

 My son married his lovely girlfriend (now his lovely wife: still lovely) and my daughter and her (reliable and attractive) boyfriend of some ten years have moved to Hudson, MA (almost exactly the same distance from here as it was when she was in college). Doug is married to the very nice Barb and lives more and more of the time in Connecticut, with former kittens Wash and Mal.

I have a Tumblr. My real-person Tumblr is and my fangirl Tumblr is and I am there more often. Below is an abstract from my fangirl tumblr, because the fandom thing mattered.

And today I signed papers to put my house in the New Hampshire countryside on the market, where I have lived for the past (exactly) nine years, because it's too big and the taxes are killing me and I don't have the oomph I I did when I moved in (or the beloved (not even that kind of beloved, damn it) housemates who have needed to live elsewhere.
I love the birds (best feeder birds ever, for me) and the quiet and the visual beauty and I have no idea where I should go next (because I also Need a Job). My parents live in Boston, my kids in greater Boston, and I really don't want to live in Massachusetts again (It's much more thickly populated, hotter, more humid, and more expensive than NH; but my parents are getting a lot older). Probably an apartment in Concord?
I am going to have to pack or, ideally, get rid of say, half my possessions? of which way too many are books. I don't mind divesting from the gardening supplies and the sort of things you need if you have a house (a circular saw) and I can probably get rid of the books I haven't touched in more than a couple of years... but I have been reading an awful lot of fanfic and you wonder if sometime you won't want the murder mysteries or science fiction you liked to reread again (except you will probably go reread At Least There's the Football or Katie Forsythe/Wordstrings or one of the other infinitely warm mostly safe places; but what if one day you OD on Sherlock Holmes?). And don't tell me libraries, because they are terrible places for pulp science fiction and moderately cozy mysteries.
And the archaeology that someone broke your heart and fired you and made you very angry and disappointed in them, so you don't really give a damn about the original settlement of North and South America. 15000 K BCE as much as you used to... to say nothing of not putting up a Christmas tree for the last three years because I go to my parents' and imagine at some point I'll go to my kids'.
The things I need to cull are full of emotional freight and it got to me today, a bit, signing the papers to say yeah, I'm letting go of a lot (I shall not miss the money-eating driveway).
But while I was putting off tidying (ineffectually) for the real estate agent I wrote a 221B that made several people laugh and got kudos from some writers I admire and some of the comments made ME laugh and my fandom may not be at hand by God it's real and it counts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Right, then, spring. Verging on summer. Household update.

Can I blame the weather? Yesterday it was 77. This morning I removed a tick from my belly (how it managed to find a vein through all the fat....). The crocus are in bloom, although it cannot be for long. Peepers are peeping.

My bees did not make it through the winter. The past week I have been watching (and feeding) a bunch of honeybees going in and out of the hive, but it turns out that they were from somewhere else. The week of Hope and Belief have been very useful for rekindling my interest, which is either a good thing, since I have the infrastructure or a bad thing, because bees are at least as expensive a hobby as beads.

I have just tried to kill a tea-leaf. I hate ticks.

In cats and other housemates: Barb has moved into a condo she and Doug hope will one day be their home (it's in Connecticut, but he has not found a job nearby, so he is still here. I do not want him to leave, as a friend around and a thoughtful, hardworking housemate, as well as a tenant who pays rent are all things difficult to replace). Doug is moving a piece of furniture at a time. But in February he moved Mal and Wash, the former kittens whose sugar-daddy he has been since we got them. They seem to be doing well, not making Barb's life too much of a living hell despite not going outside. A week after they left here, there was an ad

(Interrogated mole on my arm. It looked like a terrorist tick.)

an ad, I was saying, about a brother and sister pair of cats whose previous staff had moved to Australia. The day I read the flyer was the day before the cats had an appointment with a shelter.  The person who put up the flyer did not want them to be separated. I caved. Now I have four cats, Marten and Willow , who have been here awhile, and Arthur and Sheba , who look a bit like I hired them to play Marten and Willow. Everyone is tabby. The males are swirly. If Arthur lost about seven pounds (the women who was fostering them said he had been even fatter) he would have lighter bones than Marten, but as it is he's just huge and makes Marten look svelte. The females are more evenly-marked, but where Willow looks like a Chinese demon (puggy, short, compact body, tense and hostile -- it's cold out there for a demon),

 Sheba looks like she had parents with money. She's quite lovely, and her fur is soft.

She also talks a lot and screams bloody murder (much louder than "I'm bein' oppressed") at times when Marten is NOT thinking about beating her up. Though he often is, and someone has bitten Arthur hard on one hip. We are hoping it will just heal up.

These are very nice cats, although not kittens, and the blended-family stress has been noticeable.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It is winter, which is as it should be here.

By which I mean it is cold (under 25F out of the sun) and there is snow (and significant ice) on the ground. It is January, and it should be this way here. Before the cold snap. I was worried by the swelling buds of lilac and magnolia. And then after it did get cold, we lacked snow, which was hard on plants and mice and anyone hibernating in the leafage, to say nothing of the tourist industry. We need people to come and ski and so on because the state is broke. The legislature is full of Tea Partiers, who may have mixed feeling about the state providing snow removal on the roads, or indeed, roads... they have lowered the cigarette tax and are trying to eliminate the Department of Cultural Resources. Doing so will disqualify NH for a bunch of Federal aid (The government shouldn't be putting paintbrushes in people's hands? Just guns?)... I am going to a hearing tomorrow in Concord to try to persuade that committee to keep their hands off my archaeologists.

It's too early in the day to drink.

I am having trouble with the picture a day thing. How many sunrises can I stand to post? It's not that my days are ugly or even uninteresting, but they are not very photogenic.

 I signed up for a small online painting course, which gave me almost my money's worth just in anticipation and art supplies, mostly kindly supplied by my mother. Monday I start rather slowly... clear off half the table in the window (covered in beads, try to put them away tidylike) listen to podcasts while doing the warm-ups, eat lunch, you know... it's 3:30. Bang. Had to go buy food as should have done so previous Friday. Bought food. Bought power strips/extension cords because the living room, the bedroom, and the loom room all have perversely placed and a scanty number of electrical outlets. Talking a picture of the hardware store? No. Nor the supermarket, thank you.

Now it's dark, Doug is home, we had wine and knitting and badinage. Never opened the water colors. I considered taking a picture of the half-tidied work area with the art supplies laid out so bravely-o. Nah.
Tuesday, I make an early start, get down there by tennish, look at the workspace. It could be better. I could put just a couple more things away. At this point, we had the freshly lowered sewing machine table, the freshly raised cutting table, the ironing board, and the bead table. The futon was folded and covered with cloth and cats.  I had realized even in the small amount of art the day before how much too tall the beading table was, so I'd been considering either cutting it down, too, or not having it. Since the cutting table was taking up nearly all the remaining floorspace, removing one table would be good, and the beading table was a) too nice to ruin by abbreviation and b) not mine but Doug's, I figured I would ask him to find it a different home.
At this point the phone rang. It was Nathaniel, a dear person who digs with SCRAP and is doing research for his PhD all over the place. He needed crash space.  I was delighted. Thought it might be nice if he could get to the futon. Even nicer if there were room to unfold it into a bed.

I had to go into Concord for an NH Arch Soc meeting that night, but by the time I left the beading table was clear, the sewing machine table had moved into its place and was almost clear (the sewing machine doesn't mind living in its case), the power strips were in place.  Put clean sheets next to futon, adjusted cat, made it look homey. I have an insight that my life would be better if NOTHING was stored as a matter of course on the work surfaces, since they always have things that aren't supposed to live on them, on them anyway. Moved furniture around. Removed a bookshelf from my bedroom (not the books, of course. Tomorrow is another day, when maybe a comet will hit the earth).

  Went to Staples for printer ink (so I could, if I chose, print out the art class sheets, which might cut down on the web-browsing when I am supposed to be making contour drawings) and Lowe's to see if there was something like a tracklight fixture I could stick up and plug in (If I waited to wire it in, the Messiah would come first and sometimes it's nice NOT to have to have a big fat hairy deal involving holes in the wall. So lazy. So dark in half of that room. The working half. The sitting and reading or sleeping half has so many tracklights they actually warm you up, which, despite the energy waste, I am not replacing just yet. Winter, remember). Did not take a picture of the NHAS board or Lowe's.
 Obtained such a light, and two water-hyacinth baskets to put on the shelf. Survived board meeting. Found Nathaniel. Had a Chinese dinner that couldn't be beat. Remembered once again that I need a nice sampler with my network password on it.

The next day I went into lab early and actually got work done on the inventorying of the glass-mounted boxes with the goodies in them. I left the lab a little after 5:30 pm to go to the Central NH Permaculture meetup, which was supposed to be less than an hour away in New London.  I arrived in plenty of time, and didn't even get lost on the way home, which is always a nice surprise. The Meetup was for people who wanted to hear more about the permaculture movement; the college is offering a certification class this spring and Sarah told me about it because I had been grouchy when the Concord version had cost $50 (though that was two nights). One of the teachers in her certification class was giving to talk and he was fun and sensible and a good speaker. The room was full (about 50 people). It was encouraging. The Wikipedia article is pretty good, and offers a lot of links. I don't know if permacultural ideas can save the world, but they look like offering more hope than any of the other alternatives (ignoring the unsustainability of the current industrial and economic models, or paying attention to that and screaming a lot before thinking about something else seem to be favorites).

That being said, having hope is uphill and probably involves trusting other people.

This morning I surveyed the near-Hoarders condition of my house, and decided that what I really needed to do was to put up a birdfeeder. Found a bracket, screws, drill, drill bit, extension cord, ladder all in the right places (!!!!)  and put it up, and put all the tools away properly. Did not actually put the feeder in the right place, but since it was 15F and I was wearing pajamas, I think I might have done worse. (I am dressed now. I would never appear to my dear readers in less than clean, business-casual wear. Or not that you'll ever know, right? In fact I usually wear a prom dress.)

The post is for me to hide behind, so as not to scare the birds?

Then, of course, I had to get most of them out again, but the end result involves three brilliant fluorescent bulbs and decent light in the loom room. If you get bright fluorescent lights, you may want the soft yellow ones even if you think you would prefer the bright white ones (which are still warmer than the alleged 'daylight' ones, which look like maybe you're on a planet of Rigel or Vega). Even the mid range ones look somewhat industrial, like I should be drinking straight grain alcohol instead of a nice up of tea.

Look into the permaculture stuff. It might cheer you up.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Photo365New Year's Eve Sarah
P1000548 deer x chickadee crop

365, a set on Flickr.

This is the location of the Flickr set for my Photo-Nearly-Every-Day undertaking. Many of the pictures will be mediocre, because Apple hates me because I don't want an iPhone. Blame me for loving USCellular, it's my destiny!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's (after) Christmas and I don't know where I am.

This isn't quite true.

For Christmas I made, starting in about October (when I found the Catkin Quilt fabric and I decided to make it for my ex, who is fond of cats and bright colors): a quilt (it strongly resembles the one in the model, but has interesting fudged things and an extra border)

; two pairs of fingerless mitts; two Bandana Cowls (which are splendid); a false entrelac scarf for Doug; several tiny elephants, dispersed among the nations, about forty imperfect classical beaded earrings, waiting for perfection; a bracelet for Lisa; several pairs of simple earrings showing how much work I have before I become better at making decent wired loops; six batches of biscotti, two batches of fruitcake, one of World Peace cookies, and probably some other stuff I forgot. What you can do when you have No Job and are lazy.

My right hand is not entirely happy about all this.

I owe many thanks to Sarah, who asked if I needed her to hold a gun to my head to finish the quilt (I did, it didn't take that much but I was stuck); Donna, Chris, and Sue the Bead-It! goddesses; the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast; and as always, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And now, feeling directionless, I have begun making some of the Catkin leftovers into a quilt for Barb and Doug, which will undoubtedly eat up a lot of non-scrap cloth, too, because its accessory fabrics are so pretty with the main pieces, and hard to match otherwise. Doug has thoughtfully sawn the legs of the sewing machine table lower, and made pieces of plastic pipe to raise a cutting table to the height of the ironing board, which makes a terrible cutting table but was better than anything lower. The cutting table, like the ironing board, folds away, but the loom room is hard to navigate these days.

It's snowing. The only significant snow we have had this winter was in the autumn (yeah), and it lasted only a day or so. It has been cold enough to be hard on all the beings who could use snow for insulation, to say nothing of the tourism.

Meanwhile yesterday I spent reading Sepulchre, which held the attention and did not degrade my morals, even though it took place near Rennes-le-Chateau and usually anything with the word Templar in it makes me wild (not in a good way). The HolyBloodHolyGrail content was minimal, however.

So this coming year I am going to try the 365-pictures thing, which I will put a link to as soon as I get going.  And I'll try to blog more, because it's a useful way to see what I am doing and what I think of it. Mostly right now I am thinking about my digestion, which is not happy with anything.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Actual fiber. Goldfinches are in eclipse plumage.

I had a great time in California in September. Sometime I will blog it. It's warm and very different geography out there; they also have a lot more people around the Bay area than live in all of New Hampshire (and probably Maine and Vermont as well).

(Warning -- digestive oversharing)
I seen to have become gluten intolerant again. This is not surprising, but it's expensive and inconvenient. I am selling my soul to King Arthur Flour's Gluten-free mixes. They might as well have it as anyone.  My gut is also unhappy when I eat anything very fiber-y ( a _delicious_ lentil stew with potatoes and onions) more than twice in 24 hours. I would not care as much if the unhappiness did not also include a spectacular itch.

My son has also quit eating wheat, rye, barley, oats, beer. I hope my vegetarian daughter remains able to eat the stuff. Celiac vegetarians have a really hard time.

Comparing blood samples from the 1950s to the 1990s, Murray found that young people today are nearly five times as likely to have celiac disease, for reasons he and others researchers cannot explain. And it’s on the rise not only in the U.S. but also in other places where the disease was once considered rare, like Mexico and India. “We don’t know where it’s going to end,” Murray says. “Celiac disease has public health consequences.” And therefore, it has a market. New York Times

And since it has a market, there are a lot more options than there were (Such as KAF being interested in my soul, not that it didn't already have it).

Enough about that.

Since October I have been crafting for Christmas. You really can knit more if you don't do other things, like reading, or eating (or drinking alcohol. Tea is okay, though it tends to get cold.).  I cannot post pictures because there might be gifts involved.  I can say, however, that the tiny kitted things of Mochimochi Land melt the stalest heart.  I have no pictures because I keep giving elephants away. (Maybe I should make a white one?)

So for gift reasons I needed to look at Ravelry, and I finally fell through the rabbit hole. I had not understood how people wasted the hours there they described. Now I do.  I made this for myself, in the middle of something else (that involved FOUR skeins of Noro, AND I still finished it in eight days), only I haven't seen it since Thanksgiving and a trip to Boston. I think it's with a muffler. I hope it's somewhere safe. And there is this, which answers the perennial question, "What should I do with leftover sock yarn?" Actually, of course, you should put it in a bag in your sock drawer to darn with, but no. The hexipuffs will also use up any of your spare time that you've carelessly not filled making tiny mermaids, Christmas presents, or gluten-free food.

 Or beading.  You would be right if you said I have not had much time to bead if I am constantly knitting. But the social interaction at Bead-It! is so good, I just dropped by, and the quietest of the three goddesses, Sue, had made... another thing I am making as a Christmas present. But this is a really lovely book, despite having not the best directions (knitting patterns are easier to write, but they also say things like 'four stitches added,' or '94 stitches this row,' which would be a help in beading, too).

I am reading Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon. It's weird but not unreadable, particularly if you like entirely gratuitous Star Trek references.  I also read Carrie Vaughn's Discord's Apple, which would be better if it were not a one-off (I liked the conceit and the characters very much), and The Unbelievers which was a gripper but kinda grim. And Second Sight, which falls into the Guilty Pleasure category, but it was tasty and I would read more Amanda Quick. But maybe not her alter ego, Jayne Ann Krentz. I liked the Victoriana. Try not to buy any of these from Amazon. We need the other booksellers, indie and chain alike, and Amazon keeps having nasty stories told about their labor practices.

I have not reacquired my desire to garden. The bees are still foraging on warm days, which we keep having. The weather now is like October ought to be, despite the 20" of snow we got in October.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Megantic 2011

We had no trip to Canada last year because our friend Dr. Claude Chapdelaine was digging way on the west of the province, too far for a day's drive and  long weekend. This year he reopened the place near Lac Megantic and a few of us were invited up. It is always pleasant on BiEre 14 (Pronounced Beer Quatorze. I once took a picture, but I can't find it...). This year they put us up camping outside a very nice cabin


I want a fancy screen door.


supervised by a charming, very old cat. They also had mean and painful mosquitoes.

The site was, as always, shady, bird-loud, and relatively mosquito free.


It's near where the river debouches into the lake, and it's lovely, though curiously pocked with plastic-lined pits.


They dig in sous-quadrants there, every meter divided like ours are into four, and those into four again.
You can see it to the right here. This allows them to get a bunch of people into a rather small space.

Diana, Colin, Dick, Claude, possibly Pierre,George
Joy, Laura
Pierre Corbeil, Abbie

Abbie was allowed to find a nice Munsungun preform (a probable point in the making that someone messed up and gave up on). Dick had to leave early, but we were allowed the presence of Francine, Claude's wife, who is awfully nice and whom we had not seen for years.

Claude and Francine

They have apparently given up on making us do paperwork, which is all right, since they still fed us magnificently.  And the cottage was close to the actual Lake Megantic, so SCRAP got to go swimming there for the first time.



We sacked the Dollar Store and came home with flamingoes, throw rugs, small camping stools... foreign cheese, cookies.... it's a wonderland.

So, Field School


Last August we did a small dig in Jefferson, NH, a setting to which I am partial for its beauty, its lack of poison ivy, and its name. Dick the archaeologist is partial to it because we find stuff. We found stuff during the small dig, and so we had field school there: Jefferson 6.

It's next to a B&B where people digging some other earlier Jeffersons (1-5, et al), and sooner or later the landowner wants to build a house. Meadow with a spectacular view of Mt Washington.


The supervisors were Heather

Heather supervised Block A

and, because we received some additional funding from the Mountain View Grand Hotel, Abbie.  Abbie has only been around SCRAP since 2009 but we all think it must have been longer. She has taken to agreeing that she was there since 1987. She is 23 and at the beginning of the season she was unhappy to hear she needed to cultivate the Boss-quality of making people slightly uncomfortable when she was near them. By the end of the dig she was properly evil.

Abbie supervised Block B

The students were almost entirely women; in the middle two weeks, all of the students were women and we could number the guys (returnees) on one hand.  Other than, in Dick's opinion, a great deal more giggling and a great deal less drinking, it didn't make much difference.

We camped around the same cottage as we did in 2004, down a precipitous slope off Rte 2.


 Being in a river valley means bad cell phone reception. All summer we waited for the internet guy to come, but he was never able to deliver (his life got in the way, and we could not blame him).  The tents were set up along the powerline that runs from Quebec to somewhere south, Boston at least.

The cottage has an adequate kitchen, a great porch,

and almost no natural light inside. The water runs, but it has a rather high coliform bacteria count, so we were advised not to drink it.  We got water from our friends across the road from the site,

The pump at Pat's place. It was clean.

 and from local friends who also turned out to have a high coliform count in their well, which might explain... . Well, clean running water is indeed all it's said to be.
Supplemental sanitary facilities, nearer the road, had better cell phone reception. At least, that was George's excuse.

The food was delicious. One week, we had strawberries brought in from Quebec, George's pulled pork, and a chicken and cherries dish made by Rose, who really thinks main courses are just a prelude to desserts. She made a tasting menu of five desserts: little cheese cakes, fruit tarts, tiny brownies... I forget, but it was an amazing week.

So we were excavating a site that probably had to do with the view (still amazing after 12,000 years, though now with trees) one might have had of caribou migrating into the Israel River Valley.  We put multiple-square meter units around places where we had found things in test pits. All of these are carefully lined out on a grid, which maps onto the the state topo maps and the world.

Crammed for dear life under the shade at lunch...

...chatting and eating...

...or in some cases, napping.

We also continued to dig test pits, supervised by Mikey

Mikey on the right

Colin on the right.  A visiting botanist saved our lives with Popsicles. Thank you, Page!

until he was forced to go on vacation, when Dick allowed Colin to take over.  Someone bought Dick two more pop-up tents for the test-pit digging crew, by that time off in a world of their own. I mean more than usual.

You will notice (in the pics of Heather and Abbie, for instance) that the site was rocky. The rocks were large and frequent and the paleos tended to tuck flakes and things right under them.  They reflected the heat (what they didn't absorb) to make the units into nice reflective ovens.


It was hot the last four weeks in particular. Very Hot. REALLY HOT, like one week it started in the 90's and worked up to 105, and not much better in the shade. The air was not clear and one day (forest fires in Canada?) we could not see the next mountain over.  Our brains were melting out of our heads. Since we were in the mountains, it generally cooled down at night.
Clouds over the campsite

The natives rejoiced.

We were very glad when it rained, which cooled things off a little.

Dick and Abbie supervise B.

The six weeks each went faster and faster. The end of the first week, some of us went to Megantic for a long weekend (next post); Nathaniel went to Outer Mongolia. This is not a euphemism.  I took pictures, which is my excuse for not finding too much. I am not bad at digging test pits, and in the units, I was several times surprised to find I had dug down to the correct level.  This happens rarely, usually when the level is messed up. I redeemed my reputation when Jess and I dug, profile-drew, and backfilled a test pit, carefully supervised by Mikey, only to be told by Cindy (the youngest rookie,  a smart-mouth of 15) that we had dug it in the wrong place. Mirror-image problem.  I called Cindy a rotten kid for the next 48 hours, pleasing her a good deal. The rest of the time she was "My Young Apprentice," but she was not familiar enough with Stars Wars to get the overtones. Otherwise, she shows a great deal of promise. I shall follow her career with interest.

There were more science-fiction and fantasy fans (geeks) than SCRAP has ever had. Though I was way older and did not watch most of their TV shows, we had enough in common for me to feel at home. Not that I didn't already, since I have spent two to six weeks in Coos County in 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2011, not counting the long weekends of Octoberfest since about 2005. I like the north, and the people I dig with.