Monday, October 30, 2006

How pathetic is this?

For the past couple weeks, I have been dragging the SCRAP database into the early 21st century. Really: I have been entering data from as early as 2001. No wonder that binder was overflowing. When it is doing what I want, I love Access. Things look so tidy. Now I am making personalized timesheets for the seriously hooked lab participants, which I plan to print on different colors every year, so if it ever gets this bad again it'll be easy to sort out. The timesheets have to do with getting Federal funds in return for time donated.

So I am making a fiber-in-my-possession database. I realize I am not the first to do this, but it's a new one on me. Now I HAVE to learn how to embed photographs. I can tell I am going to be carrying the files around like so many fuzzy grandchildren.

It will, unfortunately, make it entirely clear how LAME I am (no offense intended to the halt, of which I am one sometimes), because so very few entries will actually have the last line filled in: Fate. What I did with the stuff. Mostly, what I do is start something, usually a sock, and put it carefully aside until I need the needles, when I rip it back.

Daughter has the nerve to want me to finish her gloves. I am scared enough I plan to leave all the fingers unfinished, until I can put her petite digits in them. Finishing will give me something to do on Thanksgiving Day.

I am also at the -you-must-pay-attention point (narrowing the fronts and backs) of the generic vest, doing a very delightful garter-stitch shawl, perfect for the car when I can get someone else to drive. Maybe it's time to make Christmas presents. Maybe people will be lucky to get gift certificates...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Winter's coming on

The leaves that remain, mostly oaks, are becoming less brilliant every day. It is getting seriously cold. I have about 30 lbs of bulbs in my front room. I may have waited too long.

Asterix has suggested that he would be feeling EVEN better if I were to buy a small container of heavy cream and give him some of that instead of milk. Since he does not projectile v. from cream. He's doing fine, bless him. For however long.

Two eggs appeared in the henhouse yesterday, the first. Chickens hatched in mid April. Doug still thinks Cordelia is a hen and thinks they are hers. I notice changes in Buffy's and Joyce's combs and think some serious hormones are happening there. Whatever. I would be grateful if Doug would not refer to the eggs as 'our first lay.'

The saddest remark about my character is that for devious reasons I undertook to make a massive database of SCRAP volunteers and I am finding playing with Access on my own time really, really interesting.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

If you hate party politics, skip this liberal attack

From a friend's blog:
Want an extra vote?
I can't give you that, but I can give you an opportunity to affect the upcoming election. How? By spreading links to informative uncomplimentary articles about Republican candidates. The idea is that voters doing Google research will be more likely to encounter these articles. The more people play, the better it works. The more prominent your web site, the more such links on it will help. This idea had its start on DailyKos.

You can play too. Go to this link, copy the text you see there and put it in your blog

If your blood pressure is low, try reading a few of the articles

-AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Monday, October 23, 2006

I regretted missing the people

but not Rhinebeck itself. I still have an awful lot of stash. I still have an awful lot of projects. I haven't been home all weekend for about a month and a half, and it isn't getting better any sooner. Which means that my desk is still glaciated, and I still have an appalling weight of daffodil bulbs to plant, but I caught up with the laundry.

On Saturday we had the autumn meeting of the NH Archaeological Society, with about 50 people in attendance. I knew probably over half of them by sight, and apart from starting repellantly early in the morning, it was a pretty good time. I should get some kind of recognition for two board meetings in three days, right? But at least the NHAS has slides (some of them even of rocks!) and not enough took place that I needed to take notes.

Sunday I ought to have been planting bulbs but Doug and I tidied and I have had so little time at home that it was almost as pleasant as it was necessary. One of our friends had relatives visiting and we had lunch with them at the local Nice Restaurant. I wish I were sleeping better, but life could be a lot worse.

Asterix continues to be alive and vigorous. And obnoxious.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Schroedinger's cat

Yesterday, for the first EVER, Asterix did not wake up and plague me through breakfast. He was breathing but deeply asleep. I spent the workday bursting into sobs.

Many years ago now, a dear, previous cat named Pangur Ban came down with pneumonia and fell asleep in a tight doughnut on a garden path. Even though I knew she had a slow cancer, I woke her up and took her to the vet. She got antibiotics and recovered completely -- from the pneumonia. We had just moved to a suburban house, with a big yard and prey, and I hope she did enjoy it. Her death maybe 18? months later was long and nasty and ended in a vet's office. I do not wake sleeping cats over seventeen years old who have been losing weight slowly but steadily.

He was fine and mouthy when I got home and has already plagued me this morning. Ain't love a bitch?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Octoberfest '06

For more than you probably want to know about my dig last weekend in the Mt Washington Valley, go to

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

the wages of enabling

SO Doug and I spun at the Canterbury Shaker Village WOol Day, and I was spotted by one of the women who works down the hall from me. The next week she came in and asked if I knew anything about angora rabbits. A lot, I said. Within a few days I was scouting for rabbits on her behalf and last week, when I was particularly exasperated with my job, I took one of the Diak spindles down the hall and a some of Mary Pratt's Romney and taught her to spin. Poor Jean.

So today I went to pick up the red-eyed white rabbit I had met on the Wool Tour and the Spinning Bunny lady mentioned that Doug (who bought a spindle from on the Wool Tour) would want to know she had a new shipment of Forrester spindles in hand. Including ones with pyrography.

A better person would have started her Christmas shopping.

It's really beautiful and Doug already has two Forresters, anyway. Now I have one.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Wool Tour. Friends from Massachusetts, ripe for enabling. The first clear three-day weekend we have had ALL YEAR. A tidy fiber room, meaning I have a reasonable idea what I have in the fiber holdings.
We went to the Fiber Studio. The Daughter who points out accurately that she has enough stuff allowed her bestial nature to get the upper hand for just long enough to allow me to get her one small skein of Raspberry Mocha pastel, part-angora hand-dyed (fingerless gloves, I have the cuffs done already). And that was all I bought. See my restraint?

Then we went to lunch, which was delightful and took far too long because there were not enough waitresses. This left not enough time to go to more than one more site (of five) on the Wool Tour; we went to the Wool Room, so we could see our friends from the Elegant Ewe (two patterns is not very much) as well as check out Mrs. Hennessy's health. She runs the Wool Room and has been recovering from a stroke. She's doing very well, her daughter says, she certainly seemed in good shape. I found a couple of books. And some other small things, very. I got Sarah a Christmas present, which is perfect for her, perfect, and I will just say I think she will like it, but I won't tell her what is it, hey Sarah, I know something YOU don't know... anyway, at least one person will get one thing she'll like.

Then we went to Chauncey Farm, where I got Sarah the blue-shot-with-orange roving from Brimstone Hollow Farm, as she had bought one bump back on Canterbury Shaker Village Wool Day and one was not enough.

And then we went back to the Fiber Studio where I bought 4 oz of melted frozen raspberry roving and two more books... I have been wanting the Baby Bootee book for years, despite the dearth of babies in the immediate future, and the Harlot made me get the weaving book... I think it was the Harlot...well, there was still room on the bookshelves.

I hope to visit the alpacas of Mirage Farm on the way back to taking Daughter home to college this afternoon. Isn't she home now, you ask? Yes, but she explains rather sadly that Home is where you aren't, at the moment.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I have a kind of life-ADHD. It's inherited, and I found it irritating in my parents and I know my daughter finds it irritating in me. I am still about the goldfinches, and still about the fiber, and for that matter the gardening and the cats and the digging.

Right at the moment, however, I seem to be mostly about the brewing. The generations on either side of me worry that I will become alcoholic. I don't think so, and I pay attention (although I notice I've had have an empty tequila bottle next to my bed for the past month and an empty prescription container on the floor, giving me a pleasing Hunter Thompson ambience).

Although the kit wine I made was generally pretty decent (as long as I bottled it in a reasonable time,and bearing in mind that I have tried to keep my palate from becoming refined/expensive), and although I actually drink more wine, I love making beer.

It smells good. You get to make potions. You get to use yeast, which makes it more about symbiosis than cooking usually is (I used to be a a kickass breadbaker, but the gluten intolerance put an end to it. Also makes the beer somewhat problematic, though I get no detectable reaction to the dilute, chopped around proteins that survive in malted barley tea.). You get to have airlocks, kind of auditory LavaLamps that say 'Bloop' when you walk past.

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Sometimes it's _really_ glad to see you...

It smells good, and it does bona fide amazing transformations over the brewing, fermenting, and bottling periods. The ingredients are not too expensive, and they have wonderful names like Maris Otter.The hardware is not too bad after the initial ~$60 investment, though there are a satisfying number of nifty gadgets to continue bleeding off unwanted cash.

I suspect some of my enjoyment in brewing plays off the same delight I find in using millenia-old technology to prproduce clothing, though the use of hops is pretty damn recent -- after the introduction of knitting to the West, barely becoming widespread before the European discovery of the New World (in other words, post-mediaeval crap). On the other hand, I haven't had much success with non-hop bittering, despite the earnest condemnations of Stephen Buhner.

My first forays into mead, the other ancient brew, were disappointing; though they smelled like honey/heaven, they tasted like a moderately dry white wine. It is quite easy and much faster to just buy a bottle of white wine, assuming you want to waste your money not buying red (this summer was the first time I really regularly appreciated the lightness of white wine on a hot evening). But then I tried some of the herb-infused meads, metheglins, which is a cool enough word to be almost worth the trouble right there. The problem with meads in general is that they take much longer to mature than beer or kit wine or even fruit wine (this is the book that started me off. Blame the SCA). Eighteen months is the minimum, and I have not been as good about recording recipes as I should be. I can't remember how much nettle and sage went into the tea after a couple of years. My more recent efforts have better records, partly thanks to Doug who has been very kind about about trying to get the details nailed down, like labels and mopping the floor. And my mead recipes tend to be in one-gallons, which seem hardly worth the trouble when after 18 months you end up with maybe ten 12-oz bottles.

Fortunately one of those bottles is enough to dispatch two adults.

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This is the current lineup in the engine room, from left to right: Try to Remember September Ale, with pumpkin, a touch of saffron and honey, ready maybe in a month; Persephone's Lament pomegranate melomel (all fruit meads are technically melomels), appearing March 2008?; multi-berry Barkshack Gingermead, ready about the same time or maybe later; Shaker Peach Wine (the peaches are from Shaker Village, though the Shakers did not imbibe socially), ready next July or so; Blueberry Melomel, about 18 months if it ever settles down; Sweetfern Metheglin, another couple of years, and 2 jugs of Dandelion Wine, due for consumption in March of 2007, practically next week and I hope it loses the edge it had the last time we racked it.

When I go to the recycling center, I drop off some beer bottles (with screw-off tops; they would need special caps) and pick up others. God bless Sam Adams; if they ever go to unscrew caps, I will have to consider buying my beer bottles empty. The sad thing is that I like brewing better than drinking and I have largely non-drinking relatives. I can't sell it and there's a limit to what the basement will hold.