Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Link regarding the press corps in Lousisana; Meserve audio

Jeanne Meserve's audio:

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Human toll

This is the title of an entry in a blog that is advertised as having to do with Accuweather's redesign. It is more interesting than that. Carl links to a CNN transcript and suggests one scroll down to Jeanne Meserve's part. Since I am (for several reasons, not least a .2 mile driveway) tv-less, I am getting my news from the radio and the Net and and the section of transcription which Carl refers is quite horrifying enough.

I am most of the way through the Knitty Tychus hat, for Dulaan, and wondering if I should start making something to raffle for the Red Cross. Anyone have any ideas, any effort already started?

The "Tychus" pattern, btw will now be high on my list for beginner knitters (or for mindless knitting), only not in acrylic, of course (maybe I should put'fiber snob' into my profile?). I am puzzled as to why she doesn't slip the high end of each row to make it pointier and perhaps more solid, and the simple, simple design will make a fine place to use scraps, I mean play with colors. I mean both, really.

Monday, August 29, 2005

back in the sticky

Hot and horrible today, but at least my roof is still on. I do realize this is something to be thankful for. It's 88F and the humidity has actually dropped somewhat (today's word is dewpoint) and my clothes are sticking to me. We do not air-condition. We ceiling-fan. We want to sleep.

I am getting a terrible case of transference for the plumber. He came by today because the upstairs toilet had ceased to flush. Since the basin next to it had been getting less and less enthusiastic, we thought it might be some pump thing. Turned out no one had changed or cleaned the tap filter in, he figured, at least ten years. The toilet's entrails, ailing since I moved in, were no more. He also fished three small pieces of quartz and a good-sized pebble out of the basin trap (a love letter left by the kitten Abbey). He's going to come back and replace the downstairs bathroom tap, basin, and shower unit, too.
One day I will get everything in this house working. I have to admit I am waiting for the electicity to go, since the heat and the water and the roof have, but in my Catalogue of Improvements, I forgot to mention installing five ceiling fans, and the electrician had a good look at the wiring then and didn't plotz.

At the moment there are three frogs in Doug's sunken Rubbermaid tub (which is about 18" x 12") and four in the frog puddle. It rained yesterday, which was a very good thing. I went to a garden center for a few 20% off perennials (my driveway looked so empty...). The owner remarked that the rain was good for the plants and terrible for business, but at the moment he thought he would prefer the rain. I did, too. We got a little over half an inch.

Rather than exploit Doug digging ditches as I had intended, we actually sat in the Loom Room (or Spinning Parlor) and spun, and watched the rain. It would slack off and we would dump the buckets of water that had poured off the eaves into the frog puddle. Simple pleasures. The frog puddle looks better. This was the first time I have really had to spend spinning (when I didn't argue myself into doing something 'useful,' like playing Collapse) in the new space and I liked it very much. I am spinning 8 oz of Crosspatch Creations 'Black Hills Gold' blend: some black fine wool, some tussah, some bombyx in peach, and some rayon. I think the rayon is the screaming lime, which makes the whole thing come alive.

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I need (ha) a murky varied green to ply with it.

I had been feeling somewhat low since giving up, for the moment, on Birch, and reading my Spin-Off back issues has been a great help. Now I yearn after Bosnian crochet, and lacy socks, and silk bricks. I am not the fastest (nor least distractible) of crafters, so I think Labor Day will begin the great march toward Christmas... I wish my Texas aunt needed anything warm.

A friend from the other day:

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A Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid! Elegant beast.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Blog to live or live to blog...?

Today the men came for the well. Actually, there were only two of them, and they were very nice, at least so I shall think till I get the bill. This house, in the past 13 months has had: a new roof, a new furnace, and new water tank, a LOT of work done on the driveway involving gravel, ditches, and perforated pipe, and a rebuilt room. Now it has a new pump. It also has a number of small cultivated spaces, less iris, much less oregano (still plenty of that),and more hemerocallis. It has about the same amount of gaillardia, but I have moved some of them around. I did not exterminate for wasps, as the previous owner did, and so I suppose it has more wasps (of a generally very pacific disposition, thank St. Entymos*), but there were a lot of nests in the walls of the rebuilt room so I wouldn't be too sure. I believe I have cultivated goldfinches, rose-breasted and evening grosbeaks, and chipping sparows, but they have only cost the price of the sunflower hearts.

Ellie suggests that at least the house is in better shape if I have to sell it, but given all the things the house inspection didn't find, I doubt that the improvements will show up, either.

So the guys put in a new shiny pump, and filled the well up with chlorine, because apparently you do when you meddle with it. This means I cannot fill the frog puddle for a bit. They said to let the water run after a few hours, until the mirk and chlorine smell go away. Only it's not very murkyand it barely smells of chlorine at all, so I am somewhat at a loss. It was very pleasant to have an unpunctuated shower.

During the day, she worked on curtains (with a week to go before returning to college, these little summer projects become poignant) for her room and I made a tea cosy out of duck-inspired batik for the teapot she is taking with her. Neither of us knows how to square off the large pieces of fabric successfully, but we're getting there. And the tea cosy fits just fine.

*no, there isn't one, as far as I know, and I can't seem to find the etymology of entomology, so you will just have to bear with it. I figure some saint answers these calls. There must have been one with miraculous powers over swarms, right?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

more frogs, more of the time

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The frog puddle, which was full to the brim on Sunday.

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but these guys don't seem to be too worried.

If my pump weren't dying I would top the puddle up with the hose.

It rained quite a lot Saturday night, which added much (well, mostly humidity) to the planting efforts on Sunday, and probably to the species count of amphibians: charming American toad, many greenfrogs, a red-backed salamander, a wood frog, and a gray treefrog. Doug and I got everything waiting in my driveway planted (except for the dead: a moment of silence for a red valerian, a pot full of poppies, some thyme...). The Pitch pine and the asters went up on the hillside, the willow and the two irises and the rhododendron into the swamp in the back yard, and the cranesbill, the liatris, three or four daylilies, a clump of ginger, a clump of pink coreopsis... you know, just a few things, into the garden area I am trying to create outside the Loom Room. We were clearing the brush at that side of the house, cautiously, and mourning the disappearance a couple months ago of the frog who lived in a RubberMaid tub full of broken glass. It was a dependable neighbor, but then the kittens came... and there was at least one dead frog the right size. Anyway, as we were discussing these things, the same frog or a very similar one, definitely alive, popped up. So Doug got the tub, thought I drew the line at the broken glass, and we put rocks in and water and the frog moved in less than 48 hours later. Since the kittens have moved away, and are perhaps too old for the doubtful thrill of pursuing frogs anyhow, I hope he will stay and be safe.

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I am trying to find out what issue of Rowan Birch is in, and trying something else in the meantime. More if it actully shapes up.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Another week

It's been a quiet week here... partially, I suppose, the mild yet systemic case of poison ivy that has been popping up small but very itchy places here and there. There, where I sit down. I do not recommend it. The best thing I have found for it is the tea-tree flavored stuff from Aubrey, Everything Balm. But you get tired of itching. Not knowing when it will stop coming out (I think it has) and wondering if the blotches are going to turn out to be serious enough to go find a physician who'll give me prednisone makes it more fun.

(update Aug 24 -- nothing new, and my usage of E-balm has reduced from hourly to daily)

My old dear friend Lisa
blew through on her way from possibly Vermont to Framingham, detouring through Cambridge and giving me four beautiful wine glasses and some of the local knowledge she has picked up living in California. She has become a disciple of St. Pinot Noir.
The glasses are roughly twice the size I am used to, with predictable results. Hic.

She appeared late on Sunday. We had hoped she would be able to celebrate my birthday (it was the 12th, but I was trying to keep people out of the traffic) on Monday, when my parents came up for lunch, but she was zooming somewhere. My daughter made a very good edition of lentils and spinach (extra butter) and a spectacular gluten-free marmelade cake. This was even more remarkable because Ellie doesn't think people should eat marmelade; but by the time she was done with it, even she had a second piece. We felt sick. It was fine.

Lisa left the next day just before my son and his fabulous girlfriend arrived for (as far as I know) the final stage of my birthday. (8-24 --my very decent ex-husband drove them to Annapolis in my parents' van to their spandy-new apartment. This will be the first time they have lived alone with one another. One wishes them luck. One would have misgivingings, but one cannot blame one's son for not wanting to live in a dorm where he was often the only one not hammered out of his skull on weekends, and his girlfriends is really someone we all like. Might as well keep her.) They bore with them my birthday present, the latest Stephanie Plum, which I managed not to start until after they had left. It was not great literature, but it made me laugh more than once, which is about all I can ask.

The wonderful Julia played out the final hours of her internship with honor, learning enough Photoshop to be dangerous. I catalogued things. We looked at tiny pieces of pottery. I mourned the sudden death of U Vermont anthropology professor Jim Petersen, shot by coked-up robbers in a restaurant in Brazil. I did not know him, but I had hoped to; we leaned hard on his studies of New England Woodland pottery the last few weeks. It makes me nervous when archaeologists in their early 50's die, nothing to do with any NH state archaeologist passing out on his kitchen floor and needing his carotid artery reamed out last November, why do you ask?

Someone is writing a book about knitters who take up spinning, and she interviewed me and wanted to know if I had any designs for knitters who have just learned to spin, i.e. for varied, lumpy yarn. All I could offer her was the Woolly Mammoth Tea Cosy, which I made a couple years ago when I was a new spinner and not having enough fun making socks big enough for, well, at least a modern elephant (I felted them and sewed on suede soles). I have no idea if she will use the cosy in her book. But I have been working on producing a coherent pattern, since apparently what I thought was regular double-knitting was not the same as the nice book with the horsie [my WORD, how prices go up!]. This involved finishing the half-finished one from two years ago (and starting another copy) trying to pay attention as I worked. I had no idea how I was increasing. Unreliably. It was quite cheering to felt the thing and have it start looking better.

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A bit porcine, but felting really disguises a number of faults. Though not a kind of Plimsoll line from changing roving in mid-copp.

The last few days the MahJong site I try not to overuse has failed to load. One of the alternate games at the same site is Collapse. I have been irritating the daylights out of my poor daughter playing it too much. You will notice the site is not highlighted, as I don't want anyone to fall into bad habits.

Today I bestirred myself to go to a plant sale at The Fells,

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somewhat north and west of here. The weather was not terribly helpful, although I would rather have a nice cool shower than heat. They had some interesting plants. I was trying to behave myself, so I didn't get the hellebore or the chaemecyparis or ... . I bought a cranesbill, an asarum europaeum, a pitch pine (how often can you get a three-foot tree for $6?) and a smaller, very graceful rosemary-leaved willow to plant in the Swamp. One hopes the rain will hold off long enough to plant them tomorrow, along with doing the other useful things I hope to get done.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cold fog

No, not the inside of my head, definitely the outside.
Maybe not NOT so much as AS WELL. Two glasses of wine and I am still feeling tipsy this morning.

Despite well-founded misgivings about the future, I have been having a good time lately. Still going to the lab and playing with finds (now photographing them for the catalogue), for a few more days while Julia the Splendid Intern completes her internship hours (interring?). Saturday I went to the Dye Day at Julia the Moth Heaven's and got a shot of morale vitamins (and a margarita before noon....bad Claudia) and some color in my retina, some truly delicious white wine (if the Lovely Man were to tell me the variety, I would pursue its acquaintance)(the Lovely Man would be well worth pursuing but I liked him and Julia together, apart from wanting to live... I respect Julia deeply and she could SO take me) and generally really pleasant people some of whom I had met before and all of whom I hope to meet again. My toes have have almost returned to their usual color. I was so pleased that many of these legendary blogwomen were just as much fun in F2F reality. Julia's house and garden
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are lovely, and her son has excellent taste in toys (farms and trains).

I wish I had talked to Claudia about Birch. I cannot get the lace in the second tier to come out alternating with the lace in the first tier, which explains why I have been unable to get farther than the third or fourth line of the second repeat no matter how many times I rip it (Italics indicate my James Earl Jones voice).

It was indeed somewhat warm that day.

It was less warm but more humid on Sunday, when Doug came over and did garden stuff with me. Regardless of the weather. While he waited for me to finish tidying the kitchen (so the excellent daughter would have scope to make me a birthday cake (the birthday was Friday. I am 49. How silly. Ellie gave me earrings, Julia the Intern gave me flowers, and Doug bought me Thai food. Due to the heat I was about as lively as a three-day old potato chip), Doug fixed the kitchen window so it actually opens and shuts now. Then we planted a bunch of things I have been buying because the prices were low and I could not resist: a dawn redwood (less than $20! I really liek the 30% off this time of year), the daylilies whose blooms you have already see in these pages, and several other perennials with enough character to get through crippling heat and neglect. We even managed to get to the lawnish bit outside the loom room where I have been wanting to make a shady garden. almost everywhere I have lived since 1980 has been shade-garden, so I am both weirded out and exhilarated here at Casa South-Facing to the Point of Sunstroke. But it was good to get back to a clime I know and put in some hostas.

It became more, and more, and more! humid and we could hear thunder in the distance until suddenly the wind swirled around and it POURED.

The frog puddle is full once again.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Back in this part of town

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The field school is over. Like most digs it is changed, not ended, as there is a load of cataloguing and then, God help someone, analyzing to do. A great deal of the (rather small amount of) scholarly analysis I have read seems the way I thought of geometry: they go to a great deal of trouble to state and defend the obvious. I was terrible at geometry and I don't think I have the temperament to enjoy that kind of scholarship. Also as with geometry, however, they can make some fairly solid and impressive edifices I could never begin to build. But I do enjoy walking through, and we need some kind of rationale for me to catalogue the tiny, tiny chert flakes from Maine or the rhyolite flakes from Massachusetts -- all the little points potentially part of a line that leads somewhere interesting.

I like being a non-com: I get to play with the finds and not have to go to graduate school. Unfortunately that lowers the chances of my being paid to do archaeological things even below that of the many anthro majors now working at the Apple Store, for instance.

But apart from the actual scientific/manual/clerical labor side of digging it's a particular social milieu: people who don't mind getting hot and dirty (and the corollary, people who appreciate cool breezes and warm showers and sitting down), people who are self-selected a little weird (sometimes more), and often have a working vocabulary of over 500 words, none of them directly concerned with reality TV. It's another community like fiberarts people, though farther and fewer and certainly grittier between (I imagine the shepherds come close).

So with the end of the dig I am having social withdrawal from the completely unstressful (ha) but rich human interactions of the dig.

There is an oversupply of change in my life at the moment as Sarah is moving to Canterbury, pretty much this weekend. I feel like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz; I knew (and frequently pointed out) that she would be leaving sooner or later, but this is sooner and I feel just awful.

I don't know if Asterix and Mena (the cats) will miss Sarah's kitties or not. Ellie and I will. Local moles, shrews, and frogs will not. The coyote that finally noticed Sarah's chickens will be miffed, but I don't care much about him.

My daughter will be leaving here for sophomore year at college in about three weeks and my son, living in Massachusetts this summer, will be going back to Maryland in about two weeks.

This house is too big. I need a tenant for the self-contained apartment, possibly a new housemate as well -- but that is a much stickier problem, as I don't want to live with someone I don't know and let them have access to my kitchen, my liquor cabinet, or my stash (fiber, of course)(what did you think?) -- and I need a job for the money and the social.

I also need it to stop being so damned hot and humid, and do some honest raining.

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This person agrees.