Sunday, November 27, 2005

oh very well

My parents are standing behind us (very, very, very old, they assure me); Sam, 21: Laura, 49 with Asterix, 16; Daveifer, or David-now-Jenny, my ex-husband and former guy person, 52; Ellie, 19.


So we picked me up and took me to the grocery store, and as Ellie had figured out what we were going to have, it was okay.

She and my father and I can't eat wheat. She is vegetarian. My mother does not eat dairy or chicken or turkey or much egg. My son used not to eat dairy, but he got over the asthma attacks, and my ex-husband and Doug both eat everything.

So no turkey (or stuffing... I miss stuffing), but we needed some kind of festive meat. Ellie suggested that I figure that out myself as she was not cooking it. Turkey is a fine American meat, what else is? Alligator! No, not easy to find in local stores (also they say it tastes like chicken, which my mother...). My father suggested raccoon, but I opted for bison, which is quite easy to get (and if I had thought of it in advance I would have been able to get locally-raised, too).

Thanksgiving was the first day Doug has had off in about a month. He rose to the occasion by tidying the daylights out of the living room, which would almost make a person think it needed the work. I washed dishes in the kitchen while Ellie cooked black bean soup and polenta. My parents were bringing salad and mashed potatoes, and my son was bringing pumpkin pie. They and my ex were driving from Boston, leaving Early, Daveifer said, to get up here by 11.

Around noon we finished cleaning and I made a squash gratin (sliced thin with onions like Martha Stewart told Susan Stambourg) and conventional cranberry sauce, and Doug swept the steps again and dug out his car because it was snowing hard. My family called sadly from the tollbooth and said the traffic was horrible. We all changed clothes and took a few breaths. About 1:30 my son called. He and his father had jacknifed the VW in the middle of the road up here, blocking my parents, among others, and borrowing a phone from someone who had a service that works up here as his and his father's and my parents' phones do not work near my house.

We had sort of been expecting them to call from the bottom of the driveway,

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but this was more dramatic. We had about five inches; usually the town plows really well, but this was a holiday. Doug went out with his Subaru and my father got the VW out of the snowdrift and they all went four miles back toward town and parked at the gas station. We got to eat (scheduled for 12), around 3.

This was after Sam had started the fire in the fireplace; the wood stove has been running, but the fireplace is more festive. Doug had thoughtfully laid a one-match fire and I assumed he had opened the damper. He assumed no one would open the damper before they lit the fire, and Sam has never lived with a fireplace and may not know about dampers, so of course he did not check. It is much more fun to open the damper with the fire GOING, and so Sam tried it, and then since the damper is tricky and the living room was filling with smoke I tried it, and then I put out my hair (only an inch or so lost) and Doug tried it (picture increasing billows) and he ended up putting the damper gently in front of the hearth.

Dinner, fortunately, was delicious.

The traditional holiday photos are grisly, but we had a good time.
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After everyone left I finshed the last Harry Potter. I was sad because the person who dies died and I was out of books.
My giant red socks felted beautifully and fit me (women's 9 and a half), which is unfortunate because I made them for my contractor (men's 11 and a half).

It has been a pleasant couple of days and in an hour I will take Ellie back to Northampton (!).

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Like, stress, much?

The day I left for Northampton (well, that trip to Northampton), two formerly sane people on my yahoogroup blew up into a flame war and I had the second actual day at work. This meant that I met the (equally new as I) bookkeeper (she has sheep and llamas and thinks she might like to learn to knit. What....? It usually goes the other way) and the Tech Support Guy. They sat in front of my computer all four hours I was there. I took the insanity on my list much too personally, but there was some stuff going down about people being defensive of the RC church, and people being offensive about the same, and I am more than a little conflicted about being back in the theological saddle again myself (hey, I can be around it without having to inhale, right?). And not conflicted at all about wanting both of those involved to SHUT UP. I was frazzled most of the way to Smith.

Once there, I had a great time and saw a truly inspired awful hat, based on a monster in a comic book, being knitted by the kid down the hall from my daughter. I hope it turns up in Knitty one day. The next day I went to Helen's and had a wonderful time with Deanna and Susanna and Cath and Helen and Teresa! They were (no big surprise) soooo nice.... It was interesting because Deanna and Helen are old-timer Sheep Thrillers (Susanna is someone I hope I see more of; this was I believe her first gathering of fiber people and I think she had fun), and Terri is a newer friend from blogging and it was good to have people from both communities.

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I don't think Helen's cat was very happy about us being there.

There was enough food for perhaps 30 people, so I could not eat the gluten-free cookies Teresa had brought. She made me take them home. They were tasty. I worked on the Experimental Hat, which Susanna had wondered if it might be made of tin foil. But I told her not to be silly, they have worked out all the important standards for making hats to protect your brain from alien thought-transmissions, and I was by no means reinventing that wheel.

Then I went back to Smith and picked up my daughter and knitted giant shrimp (the Experimental hat is modular, an I thought they were going to be turkey feathers but actually, they look more like Jumbo Tiger Shrimp) and a giant red sock all the way to Woburn (where the boyfriend of daugher abides). I forged on from there to Dedham, where I could not find the restaurant where I was to meet my friends, and ate popcorn and sulked until they turned up, perfectly on time, and with movie tickets. This Harry Potter is not a happy story, but the movie is well-done. Considering how much sub-plot they trimmed out, it was amazingly coherent and impressive.

After the movie we went to Chili's for caffeine and I had chicken tacoes. Most places, a taco involves a corn tortilla, right? Not at Chili's. I was not happy. The filling was not bad, however. I got home at twenty to two in the morning.

The flame war had not abated. Rather than go online, I spent Sunday rereading Harry Potter and the ...., well, all of them. Yes.
I read fast.

Work on Monday was much more serene and I actually got to fill an order and read some of the materials left by my predecessor. Tuesday was similar, only I drove to Northampton carrying only the toe of a giant red sock.

As I should have expected, my poor daughter was stuck in Term Paper Hell, probably because I had taken her to visit her boyfriend on Saturday. She worked. I finished the second giant red sock that night about midnight. Suddenly...I had no project.

Granted I was in the same town as WEBS, the place was not open at midnight, nor yet when we left at 7 am ... so I drove. I was home in time to take a shower before going to work (10 to 2 are very, very luxurious work hours, and I realize it). The tranqility of the day was short-lived, as I got a particularly unfair speeding ticket (my second in my LIFE), there was STILL the SAME flame war going on and it was the day before Thanksgiving and my house was a mess and we hadn't been to the grocery store and guess who had PMS? My daughter patted my hand and made me have tea.

More tomorrow, God or other Outmoded Philosophical Concept willing.

Friday, November 18, 2005

a short trip

I am leaving this afternoon to go Northampton for the night; visit Bay Colony Helen; pick up daughter, and go toward Boston to meet friends and see the new Harry Potter Movie. In a perfect world I wiould also see my parents, but I am hoping to get home late Saturday night so I can try to repair the untidiness I have inflicted upon my allegedly tidy house, where we are theoretically having Thanksgiving. That's a whole different panic.

I will be outside my home for perhaps 30 hours. I have with me: an experimental hat which needs not that much more knitting (book to find out how to make modular half triangles); the first thirds of two FairIsle socks; two huge balls of worsted and another book to start a fancy angled scarf; a Dulaan hat; a spindle and roving. And probably at leas tone more project in case I am take n by aliens and need more knitting.

Does anyone else overpack their projects? I have some clothes, too, I htink, but who cares about that?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

not awful for November

So the second day of my new job, I think I was paid to go on a day-retreat with a bunch of generally very intelligent people (theme: Forgiveness) and very, very good lamb for lunch. Despite my having successfully avoided theological situations for several years, quite a lot of my brain snapped to attention (it used to be quite good at that). So far I am surviving.

I suppose it might well be argued that if I was trying to avoid supernatural attention I shouldn't have made a dashboard Mary (Our Lady of Good Parking) for a friend in San Francisco who just bought a small beige Honda.

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I am very happy he likes her, even if he does ask for her intercession under the name of St. Mary Boniface. Others invoke St. Anthony (lost objects), St. Jude (hopeless causes) and St. Deonotus ("to-be-named-later," a popular name for players destined to be traded in the major leagues). I figure Someone answers these calls, which can be pretty darn heartfelt (in this case, also needlefelt-ed).

It was fun to needlefelt again and I only bled a little.

Last weekend, Doug's friend took him away so I had to fill in for him at a rughooking/knitting class. I made a small bag. I do not think the design-color and the background contrast sufficiently (though it has that 'dead leaf' mojo) and the shoulder-strap hasn't felted enough, so I haven't attached it, Photoshopped in some contrast, and put that up -- but I have been doing fiberwork.
One pair of Christmas socks is done, another seriously started, and I avoided spending too much money online in Norma's yarn shop by going to mine and spending more there. Buying yarn and a pattern is the same as working on something, isn't it? I blame Norma, even if it was mostly for a Christmas present and therefore not part of any sensible person's yarn budget.

I ought to be complaining about the weather. It's the Butt-End of the Year, the Old God is dead (till New Year's, who did you think that baby was?) and it's !@#$%^& dark at 4:15pm. It did rain yesterday. Today, however, it was crisp and sunny and altogether bearable. Which is just wrong, but I am sure I will be complaining in January.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

got work!

I appear to be going to be doing 20 hrs/ week administratively
assisting the joined-at-the-hip-since-1959 NH Council of Churches /
NH Bible Society. The two non-profits have entirely different
missions and the office is in a building just outside Concord owned
by the United Church of Christ, which runs a media center in
connection with the Episcopal diocese.

My boss is a liberal Democrat, NPR-listening Catholic with a degree
from Weston, like me (a male person married to a non-denominational
Protestant woman therapist, not like me). I have no idea whether I
will like it or not but it has possibility and it is so refreshing to
meet an interviewer who is delighted that I have an MDiv.

We are going to try it for a couple of months and see how it goes.

Laura, starting Wednesday (10-2pm)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Message to Sandy about twining

Sandy, I would be happy share the cuff with you, only I can't access you through the 'comments' so I would need your address. Mine is lauraejATTtdsDAHTnet.

The twining is labor intensive, until you get used to it (then regular knitting just seems fast). They say you _cannot_ do it left-handed, as is natural for a Continental-style knitter like me, but this does not seem to be true. I woke up the day after learning the twining right-handed/English-style and my left hand had figured it out.

Anyway, the cuff is the result of knitting every other stitch and purling every other _other_ stitch, K1 P1; except that since you are using two strands, one just stays on the outside and one on the inside. This is a pleasant change after the twisting inside. I suppose it makes a two-layered seed stich.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Finished (and unfinished) Objects

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The Koigu "Fanning the Flame" modular mittens. They are pretty bright. They are also a bit too big, because I didn't want go any farther down on the needle size and I knit loose. But Kelly of the Elegant Ewe, who taught the class, assured us that loose mittens were warmer than tight ones.

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There was going to be another set of Finished, but the weather went to mediocre after I was lying on the porch swing telling my mother in Boston (where it was already mediocre) how beautiful it was here today. But any time you can knit outside in New England in November is worth crowing over even if it comes to a cooler, cloudier end before you finish.

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Both these pairs of mittens were nearly done last week at the somewhat dull NHAS meeting (during which our state archaeologist came out in hives. He says it was a reaction to his meds, but I have my doubts). I had four rows and a cast-off to do in the Koigu and I needed the other butterfly of remaining wool. So then I worked on the twined-knitting Dulaan mittens and ran out of yarn, period. If the first one I made had not had a 'reservoir tip,' (but they're not actually ribbed, at least. Since I was making up the pattern as I went along I do not feel as bad about it as I should; at least they are warm) I might have had enough yarn to finish in one color but Norma has given me resolve and the determination to keep my head high. I don't have to undo the last centimeter of cuff on the first mitten and do it in mossy green so they'll match... but I might anyway.

It seem it might all have been much quicker to use a cuff-up twined knitting pattern or just knit it normally, but I like the way the twined-knitting feels, I know it's warmer, and I have not had good luck with the fancy decrease-toward-bind-off I learned (ha) for twined-knit mittens. Corkscrews. Not good. And since I knit my socks toe-up and Anna Zilboorg makes her lovely mittens tip down, I wanted to give it a shot. It seems to be possible. The thumbs are not too elegant, either, but they are on the appropriate sides.

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Taken from ground level, this time. The foliage took a beating during the tail-end of Wilma+Alpha last week.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

They're in

All the bulbs I had, I planted. It's going to be thin on the ground in the Courtyard Garden, but maybe I'll try this restraint thing people tell me of.

Yesterday was the third day of Perfect Weather in a row, probably the best we've had all year. Whimper. Dancing on the grass, sunbathing. It is so good, and so very much borrowed time.

The blessed rage for order has departed, I fear. The house looks like a ransacked warehouse. I have more of my books available and in categories than I have in some years. It is more than a little strange to walk past a bookshelf and have my 14-year-old self from 1970 wave at me, then another shelf - pow, 1991-- then another, 1986... .

I have too many books. Even more than I have too much stash, and I have a lot of stash. I reread the fiction, sometimes much too often: there are several authors (Jennifer Crusie, Terry Pratchett, Lois McMasters Bujold)I can about lip-sync, have to leave them for a few years. If I don't either remember the stories strongly or reread them, they can go to the used bookstore or wherever.

The non-fiction is more difficult. I am not likely to read Howard Carter's three volumes on the Tomb of Tutankhamen again any time soon, but I remember how pleased I was to get it. Ditto James Breasted's history of ancient Egypt, which is probably so outdated it should be in History of Ideas instead of history. But I am reluctant to say goodbye to the person who loved ancient Egypt. The huge trove of left-of-center Roman Catholic theology and pastoral ministry is even worse, has less of a market, and was part of me much more recently. I don't think I am going to get my faith r my interest back enough to work in that field, but... .

I pared down the beading and the quilting and the embroidery books and some of the stash. but how many books on watercolors do I need when I don't ever paint? But I would like to. It's not that I collect books -- I don't collect books, I collect information. I collect options. I think a lot of different kinds of stash are about collecting the chance to be a slightly different person, perhaps a completely different one.

What I am reading:Mapping Mars, by Oliver Morton. A lovely book, the best-written science journalism I have had in a while. It is the history of the exploration of Mars with reflections on the planet's impact in our culture. The writer is British, so he makes silly remarks and discusses Alan Moore's Watchmen comic books and Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series with reasoned and affectionate analysis. I want a sequel to bring it up to date.

Windfall by Rachel caine. Meterology and sorcery. This is the fourth in the series (Ill Wind being the first) and while they are not Tolstoy, you probably won't hate yourself for enjoying them.