Friday, May 26, 2006

When You're a Jet You're a Jet

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These are not just pushover chickies, no sir. They are TOUGH. Only, if you take them outside they don't go more than a few feet away. Which considering the hawks (and the foxes and coyotes, each of which I have only seen once here) is probably a good call. One or two of them is beginning to cluck, now, rather than cheep, and my suspicions about the palest chipmunk-colored one's maleness are not going away. They are reasonable company when one is weeding. Mascara can catch black flies in mid-air. So far they have been frightened of worms.

The woodfrog tadpoles are almost a centimeter long in the body, like oval BB's, and I am surprised at how large they are without having sprouted even back legs yet. I believe digestion gets iffy for awhile as one transforms, so maybe they are bulking up. I will certainly not lead the chickens to the backyard for a few weeks after the tadpoles leave the water, as I don't think they are as frightening as worms.

The frog, at least _a_ frog, has returned to living in the Rubbermaid in the courtyard garden. Some new-to-me kind of amphibian is singing in the woods and making a remarkable noise. Hummingbirds part our hair when we walk or sit outside. I think the sugar makes them edgy.

Ellie and I saw the bear again, at nine in the morning, walking across the driveway. I wanted to jump onto a chair and gather my skirts and shriek, but something told me this was the 'appropriate' reaction to a different animal. I am told that one of my friends kept her birdseed in a can on a screened-in porch, and a bear came and stuck its arms through the walls on one corner and tried to drag the birdseed out. Being Ann, she hit it with a broom and it ran off, accurately perceiving itself as outclassed.

I hope to see some of you at the Mass. Sheep and Wool festival on Sunday. The weather forecast is better than the one we had for NH. Tomorrow Doug and I are taking the Fiber Studio's flax workshop and then heading for MamaCate's. I am only going for the social, as I have not finished spinning anything I bought last week (two weeks).

And we are taking the smaller of our two cars. So we can't buy much.


Well, maybe a little.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The links are not working. What is interesting is that they did work on LiveJournal.

No, what is really interesting is that it's SUNNY!!!! outside and that Dick and Deb can flush their toilets again.

Try this.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rain and rain and rain and rain

A story about the unusual kind of storm it is: Here

A link to photos:Here
Except that at the time I am posting, the captions are beshrewed. Not all of these are on manchester Road in Concord.
I am going to try to go to work now. I am happy nothing so dramatic is visible from my window.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Oh and

It is not to my hypothermiated credit that I forgot to mention the pre-soak festivities. Norma got to see her motherwort plant (affectionately referred to as 'your marijuana plant'by one of her friends last fall) happy in its new home; I hope the seedlings and lettuce she brought this spring will love long enough for the soil to dry out. MamaCate, contrary to everything she says, is not even somewhat fat. I had only seen her in winter clothes at Rhinebeck and read her moaning about sizing up Kepler (now I should make some kind of moon-crater in-joke about Copernicus, I suppose) and the fact is this mother of twins has a Girlish Figure. She and Norma and JoVe and Tigger took Doug and Cimsy (a blogless Vermonter) and me to dinner, where we ate. A lot. It was good. And since it was so friggin' cold the next day there is no doubt that Norma and I burned off our (flourless) Molten Chocolate Cakes.

You can't beat knitbloggers for a good time. Tigger got taught to spin by at least four people not her mother, and found that yes, she did like a nice wheel (I hope she and her mom will be able to apportion time on the Hitch-hiker peaceably).

I had not had a 9-year-old for a while and she made a good excuse to spend time browsing when I should have been helping Doug sell stuff. Kid has a good eye for nice roving. What she ended up persuading her mother she needed for her education as a spinner was small batts of yellow, orange, and two blues. Unfortunately for her mother, who is stuck having Tigger's best interests at heart, T was at our booth long enough to spend time with the second-to-last Diak spindle from my workshop, and it really did work better for her than the lovely walnut Maggie she had... I mean, two spindles is not very many for a third-generation fiber artist, is it? Tigger was also seen giving someone spinning lessons herself.

I taught about four more people to spin. We did have a few customers, but we also sat and talked about goats and toe-up knitting and how much we wanted a hot drink. My friend Pat of Roka Farm was vending with Doug and me. There I was stuck in an echoing barn with the roar of the rain ( sounding like harder rain than it really was, and it was quite hard enough) and an icy wind and a lot of cashmere. So I got a flyweight spindle from Carolina Homespun (which, mst unfortunately, was in the closet barn to ours) and I am really impressed with Pat's cashmere roving. She has been breeding for longer staple as well as fineness and it has really improved in the last few years.

Very, very wet

This past weekend was the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. We
think it should be Sheep and Mud, or maybe Sheep and Turtle. Last
year it drizzled on Saturday and was kind of cold, and there was a
small lake at one end of the sheep barn, and we wore our sweaters.

This year it POURED, and they had to evacuate the sheep barn as the
water went to 15" deep in some places. By the grace of God I wore my
rainpants on Saturday, which made me part of the warmest 10% of
people there, without necessarily being toasty.

Thinking of Ice Age people, I wrapped the feet and wrists of a nine-year-old in
wool roving because I was afraid she'd turn blue with hypothermia and die while we waited for her mother to come get her. It helped a lot, she said, and I wrapped my
wrists and a number of other people's (six or so) and it really made
a difference. Sunday a smaller number of people came (I could hardly
blame them) and they were much better dressed. Long underwear and waterproof boots are key.

It was the kind of thing where you sort of enjoyed being there but it
will be more fun to look back on. I behaved more sanely than usual
and only bought maybe a pound of roving, and a Weavette for my mommy.

Today I am home; I was concerned as to whether I could get out, since
it was dicey yesterday afternoon getting in. The Hillsboro end of my
road was flooded, as was the riverside part of Henniker. The other
road they have been in the process of repaving for at least six weeks
(which is to say they tore up the pavement and have graded it a
couple times but left it. If I were living on that street I would
have sued the town even before this) and it looked like it had been
mined. There was a Jeep Wagoneer ahead of me picking its way and we
took about ten minutes to go 100 yards though the potholes.

But Doug has managed to get to 93; he said they had graded that area and the
part of the Henniker end of my road that had been in the process of
washing out when he got home (after I did). Today he refused to go
to work but his ex-wife's basement is flooding so he went there to pump it
out. He does have a fine sense of loyalty. He says the Merrimack
River area looks worse than it did in October.

We are lucky; one of my friends says his septic field has saturated
and they can't flush the toilets or shower.

And many people various places have been taken to shelters.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Last weekend

I am sadly behind. Avoiding tidying the house and avoiding getting ready for NHSheep&Wool is a full-time job. You will be happy to know my bedroom is as vile as ever. But today I unwrapped my new Dolores muscle-shirt and cleaned the kitchen.

And started a glass of wine, which is why this is taking so long to write. The chickens are well and into adolescent ugliness. The pictures below show them last weekend, May 7.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Auk and Blackie, feather-footed. I was a little sleepy.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Doug, Mascara, and Brownish

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Auk, the light chipmuck who may be a rooster, and Blackie

It is now May 11 and they are taller and halfway through the Moult into real feathers. They look like the ultimate bad hair day. The pin feathers, the falling down, the awkwardness... I must take more pictures. We are going through the Murray McMurray catalogue trying to figure out what breed they may be. Auk is probably a Blue Cochin. or a Dark Brahma? Really very little idea. I am quite taken with Mascara, a relatively small one of the ones in roughly 'chipmunk' coloring, with dramatic eyepaint. She is determined to fly onto the edge of the box at every opportunity, and like to sit on my shoulder. This can be messy. They talk a lot. Or 'squawk' might be more accurate, as well as a frequent low peeping.

Meanwhile last weekend, as well as playing with the chickens, we cleaned up the 'burn-pile' of the former owner; some of it we may burn, but not the painted, glued, or pressure-treated stuff. The landfill charged us $20, which it was probably worth to rid ourselves of the eyesore, and I must thank the patron saint of avoiding pustules (St. Roc?) that we seem to have escaped poison ivy unscathed.

And we also started a batch of dandelion wine, which is more labor-intensive than you might think. Ten minutes to pick the blossoms, and three hours to trim the green stuff off. It is much easier to trim them before they close up, as they will within an hour. We are making a double batch, as it turns out that Doug remembers really liking it. I think he must have had some of the 2000 vintage, and distance lends enchantment. Not enough to forget how much trouble it is to clean them, though. It smelled like a wet dog today in its bucket. We decanted it off the lees (in this case, some raisins and what was originally 12 cups of yellow fluff) and it's in a carboy in the back room fermenting like mad, very satisfactory.

I think this is the happiest I have ever had primroses look.
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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cassie-envy; or Another Shot in the Culture Wars

Cassie makes socks. they zoom from her needles. This is because a) she is cool and b) along with SockBug and Norma and thousands of others, she works hard and often and knits when some of us are having a little Meg Cabot festival* or are zoned-out on red wine beyond anything but garter stitch**.

NONETHELESS, I thought, hey, you _have_ Knitting on the Road, you also could make a pair of Conwy socks.

Well, yes, but I only make toe-up socks. Nancy Bush writes cuff-down patterns.

But in America we have choices. And you have in the past made cuff-down socks. You could again.

So after several years of playing happily in the garden of figure-8 cast-ons, I decided to make a cuff-down sock, or one hopes two, and I am on the second go of the first cuff and I really hate it. First, you cast on, okay, then 'join, being careful not to twist.' I didn't twist. But I managed to make the yarn be coming to the new row in a fancy spiral, affording it all kinds of chances to hang up. With a repeat of K, P, K2, p, K, P2, I messed up which is not unusual enough even to be irritating, but it was more inevitable because I was juggling this tiny strand of loops and trying to make sure I was not inadvertantly knitting into the wrong thing and not pulling on the join and... .

After about 13 rows, I was annoyed by the fudging and concerned by the prospect of more and ripped it out. This time I remembered one trick I had used: cast on and knit the first row of ribbing and then join the sucker, which at two rows has much more character. It's less likely to fall apart and much easier not to twist, and incidentally much easier to set up a patern and count it, which was why I had only one TINY fudging to make it come out perfectly and I am now knitting with hope. Perhaps in a few inches I'll get to 'with abandon.'

But why go through all that when you could just cast on some number of toe-stitches and increase and go through the difficult time when you may have to pull it out with FAR fewer stitches (and which are all knits, no counting and cursing?)? When you can establish a pattern and rhythm peacefully with a nice solid toe that you know will fit over your own tootsie (or that of your target, if you can get them to hold still)? When you have a stretch of foot where you can decide whether this number pattern-stitches is going to work or not, and several places to adjust the numbers when you go over the ankles to make sure the entire pattern-around counts out?

Maybe I'll make the second sock toe up, once I'm familiar with the pattern. But I would never suggest that a novice knitter start with a cuff-down sock. I know lots of you have done it and done well. The starting part gives me hives.

*I really like The Princess Diaries, particularly the earlier volumes; they are nothing like the films, of which the heroine makes fun in the books. Cabot's other YA series are fun, too.

** one lousy glass and my counting gets even more abstract than usual.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A beautiful weekend

No pictures, today. But Saturday and Sunday were the Perfect Weather, not very warm (except on the South-facing deck, where it was more than warm) and no humidity. Saturday I planted a bunch of violas, and a few lupines on the hillside, and then Doug and I planted the entire Hummingbird Garden from Audubon Workshop. They sent me a catalogue and I was impressed by their prices, and then I was impressed by their packaging. It is not conservative of plastic, but the tender little plants arrived in really good shape and look like they will do well. I don't usually buy selections of plants someone else has thought out, but this could be a good one.

Later Saturday, Doug thoughtfully planted three azaleas, and I put planks along the edge of a half-realized flowerbed outside the Loom Room. This is the room that needed a little sill work? the one that ended up getting torn down and rebuilt, slightly _inside_ its old footprint so (airy laugh) the walls would be on, rather than around, the concrete slab?

There was once an above-ground swimming pool there, so one had a breathtaking view of the side of the pool out the sliding glass door. I am not a pool person, and this is NEW HAMPSHIRE, for heaven's sake, where the official frost free dates are mid-May to Mid-September. Anyway, the pool is gone, leaving a 17-foot circular pad of sand and gravel. I am hoping to stick large flat rocks into the sand and gravel and have an elegant courtyard with a fire-pit in the middle. Possibly little tufts of thyme and chamomile among the flags. Beyond the pad and the end of the deck is a potentially beautiful view, down across the seep field and farther down into a meadow bordered by a stone wall (this was made visible when we cut down the row of sumac before Easter). It's a huge improvement over the side of the pool.

Part of the removal of the pool has been the removal of a chunk of the deck. It used to run along the front of the house and around to the side where the pool was. We took a big piece of it off last year, pausing to make the timbers into a compost bin and a rather nice cedar bench (on which one sits, enjoying the firepit). But there's still framework that Doug, who is an excellent Clerk of the Works, refused to dismantle until he had some concrete footings to support the remaining bit of deck at that end.

Yesterday he dug pits and poured concrete, whicle I demolished another bit of of deck and made an easy passage across the deck to the courtyard. I do love working with crowbars and having permission to hit things with a small sledgehammer, repeatedly. We had not realized what a differenc eit would make; now you can see the courtyard from the far and of the deck, so I ties two previously unrealted places together and makes it nearly possible to walk around the house without breaking your ankle. Some work still needed there.

So after that I planted three different varieties of geranium (not pelargonium. In the pots they were little 6" mounds of interestingly divided foliage; I think they will eventually sprawl all over the place and have various colors of pink-through-blue flowers. I originally intended to put them in a messy wooded area outside my bathroom window, but after edging the flowerbed outside the loom room, which was empty, and staring at the hillside, which will probably always be a mess, I decided to get them planted sooner rather than later. If they get too floppy then I will move them.