Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve (Christmas Eve)

I am not having any angst; I have a head cold, which reduces my brain activity to a tape loop (am I hungry? am I thirsty? can I go back to sleep yet?). I was away from home from about noon on Christmas Eve until yesterday about 6 pm. It was good.

Christmas Eve, I needed to meet Sarah before I went down Boston-ward, as she had left her cell phone here. This was a very good thing, as it got me moving. I made a plum pudding, as I have every year since my father was diagnosed as celiac. I have made some weird ones, particularly the one with a base of grated carrot and potato. Actually, with enough bourbon, sugar, and butter you could probably use shredded newspaper. I have never had one of the ones you make a year in advance, but I usually try to have a bit longer lead time. I looked at the usual recipes and growled. The time I made a recipe that produced about ten pounds of pudding, haunting my fridge until March... No. And nothing with suet.

I realized it was not rocket science; it was indeed, very like a fruit cake, except it was to be steamed, not baked. I took a bowl that was roughly the size I thought the pudding ought to be (I think it was about two and a half quarts), and put raisins, figs (you HAVE to have figs, or the song won't come true), currants, a few dates, some dried apricots, and half a can of chunk pineapple (drained), enough to mostly fill the bowl. I poured bourbon over them, about half a cup, and a little water, and I microwaved it for five minutes to plump the fruit.

I took two cups of gluten free flour (I used 1/2 cornstarch, 3/8 tapioca flour, and 1/8 part fava bean flour), a half- t of salt, 2 t of baking powder, about 2/3 T cinnamon, some grated ginger until I ran out, 2 ground cloves... I had used up all the cardamom already and I forgot all about buying allspice) and ran it in the food processor with the steel blade, adding nearly 2 sticks of butter gradually.

Then I poured the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients, buttered the bowl I wanted to cook the pudding in (one of those medium blue Pyrex jobs), and stirred madly. The baking powder would begin to lose CO2 as soon as the liquid hit it, so the faster I could get it blended I hoped the lighter the result.

I poured it into the blue bowl, covered it with well-crimped tin foil, and set it on a dishtowel into a pressure cooker half-full of water. The dishtowel acted as a trivet, so the rolling bubbles wouldn't knock the bowl over and make noise. With the ends of the towel lapped over the tinfoil I had handles, so that I could gingerly pick the bowl out of the pressure cooker when it was done.

Brought it to a boil, put the lightest weight on the stem, and pressure-cooked it for 20 minutes. I would have preferred longer (30?) but I had to get to Concord to meet Sarah, who called and reminded me to bring her cell phone... And I washed the dishes and packed my bag for 5 days and put the presents in the car, and zoomed off for Concord, returning after a mile or so to pick the pudding up and put in the back of the car.

I reached Boston about four. Both my kids, my daughter's boyfriend, and my ex and I had Christmas Eve at my parents' (with my parents). I spent some time in the bedroom wrapping frantically. We met my son's OTHER girlfriend (he has one his own species, the estimable Kimberly), which I had thought was funny thing to call his iPhone, only apparently Kimberley thought it was his other girlfriend too. I knew it was a meaningful relationship and Lord, what a cute gadget.

My father makes a bean thing involving sausage (except for the vegetarian's portion) and gluten-free bread crumbs. It is delicious, and he has made it enough years now that the smell of cassoulet and salad dressing mean Christmas Eve to me. I ate too much and then we had Marron glacee puree in chocolate shells. I ate too much and then we opened some presents, because my father's father was a newspaperman who had to work on Christmas, and in his house people opened their gifts the night before so he could be with them.

My father had ordered an iPod Nano for my mother from my son, who is an Apple maniac and salesman. Sam had had it engraved for her (ask YOUR Apple retailer...) and the present I had for her was a little speaker from It is amazingly good for its size (a golf-ball). My mother's requested gift from her grandson was that he teach her how to use it. He was momentarily flustered to hear she had no music on her computer, but recovered from the shock quickly. It was fun watching them figure it all out. We were all pleased with our gifts, although Ellie decided that it would be the better part of valor not to put the Colosseufrom m that her boyfriend gave her together just yet. She did assemble a troop of Roman soldiers, who spent Christmas dinner attacking the roast beast.

Then Ellie and I went to her father's and my son went back to his and Kimberly's digs and my parents tried to get their apartment back together.

And my wishes for all of you to have a happy, interesting, secure, healthy, solvent,amusing New Year.

More tomorrow, when maybe I'll be able to breathe.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Not too bad really

Here are this year's knitting project, according to this blog:

My father's socks (April to Dec)

toe of Trekking socks.

Latvian mitten (in progress, honest) Frog Tree Alpaca

Ellie's sweater (needs fulling) Noro Silver Thaw)

Ellie's Twizzle glittens (nearly done)

Mountain Goat socks for me in honor of Jessica (2 weeks maybe from cast-on to on-foot)

My mother's socks, from May to October, Lorna's Laces

Kimono sweater (in progress, really), multi-multi-color Noro

felted, needlefelted, embroidered tea cozy (roughly November through November)

magenta grayish socks for me, Mountain Goat (really lovely. One is missing).

about five duckies (the most fun ever)

soft baby-colored wristlets for Ellie, and most of a second pair for me, finished and worn and the second set found in debris in living room, Angora Seacoast Hand-dyed.

Cascade vest with Valley yarn stripes, finished, needs armscyes redone

pair of Road to China wristlets for my mom, finished, appreciated

one very large baby bootie (lost interest)

false entrelac alpaca scarf for Doug (Dec.- Jan) Rittrata

The glittens I am making for Ellie? I decided to do the mittenish overbit in twined knitting. Feels wonderful, fun to do, takes forever. Could be worse.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

well past Late Advent

Doug has gone to be with New Girlfriend (I really like her, she seems fond of him and of me and my cats and not to be appalled by the fact that my house looks like something you might call DYS about, except there are no children trying to live here. As far as I know). I got Doug a decent Christmas present.

Ellie was here for some days and left this morning to be with her boyfriend's family for awhile. She wrapped many of the presents that I have not bought enough of, even though I am on speaking terms (so far as I know) with everyone in my family, which is not something to take for granted. I have made MUCH fruitcake and yes, you can use masa harina, just use less than 2 cups, as it soaks up too much of the sweetness. Fruitcake with peanut butter is so tasty. I am not sure if I have got her a decent Christmas present.

Lisa is here. She is the DVM/ThD hard-drinking, hard-rockin' friend from div school who comes for Christmas, thank God, and we all like her. (She drinks like an archaeologist, which explains why I looked tired so much of last week). Lisa is selfishly leaving to visit her grandmother. I got her a decent Christmas present.

I will see all of them again in the coming week. Tonight, though, to prevent me from having alcohol-and-humans withdrawal, Sarah is coming over to encourage me to wrap presents or put away laundry. I suspect knitting or spinning will take place instead. I already gave her a decent Christmas present. She also gave me one, a really nice bowl she made in ceramics that enhances any eating experience with which it is involved.

I need to go to Concord and see if I can get my father a decent Christmas present. I really like him, but he is difficult to buy for. He is getting Socks, thank the warm footed-knitting Goddess, as is my mother. My mother, whom I also really like, is easier to buy for and is getting a decent present, but not as exciting as I would like. I also like my aunt, who is not getting much in the way of decent Christmas presents. My son and his girlfriend are getting all right Christmas presents but I don't know if they will like them.

I am very fortunate in having this many people I like and getting to see several of them fairly often.

There are a couple of people in the world whom I would like to give indecent Christmas presents, but their wives would object. Neither they nor I can have everything.

Is it me or has it not snowed this many times before Christmas in about 30 years?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

so very fine

Go look at these weavers! Really, not just the textile freaks, all of you:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fruitcake weather

Of course, some places it's ALWAYS fruitcake weather. And none the worse for it. I stayed in my warm bed watching it snow a LOT (say 18"?) all day and finishing, God help us, my shopping, except for last minute guilt and ideas and oh yeah, I was going to make some silver things...

Sarah came on Saturday and we did not make fruitcake or decorate the tree.
I did finish my father's socks!!!!! We also took the sweetly non-materialist, Wal-Mart-rejecting Sarah to The Shopping Center ten days or so before Christmas. I had suggested she might find it a Bit Much but she had not thought what I might mean.

We went to Target and bought MORE plastic boxes to organize the loom room (which is getting so I am more familiar with my stash and less ashamed, even if it is an awful lot), and she got a fluffy blanket because the peer pressure was so intense. Only hers is brown. Mine is red. I got it because Heather (none of you know Heather, she is at Beloit and one of the best-loved people in New England archaeology) waxed so poetic about hers I could hardly help myself. Viral blanket memes. Willow says I must take her picture on it soon, perhaps after her belly fur grows back after the spay.

Sarah had a touch of the vapours from the crowds and sheer pressure of plastic and Chinese imports, but we made our escape. I still love Target's lack of Muzak, and they had plenty of cashiers.

Then we went to the supermarket, the beadstore for findings for Doug, the Co-op, and finally the Elegant Ewe, where I bought Sarah and me some Noro sock yarn because it is so exciting that it exists. Only I think it may be splitty. And I had vowed that I would do more more Size One needles knitting. Well, except for what's in my stash. And what I can't resist.

Last week (exactly, on Saturday, when Doug was letting his pack sniff approvingly at his new girlfriend, confusingly named Sarah C) Sarah (D) washed up here without a project and I offered her yarn. She looked at what I was willing to offer her and asked why one EARTH I had chosen this color, or THIS. At first the colors horrified her. Then she decided to make me socks and became quite reconciled to the colors as she realized they matched our drink of choice. She is really fast; here they are (there may be one more, or not):
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket. They are pleasantly warm and I think they look like Christmas house-elf socks.

Today,as I said, I stayed in bed for long time, fiddling with my computer and stimulating the economy. Doug brought me slices of warm quiche and disappeared to shovel. I spent money I do not have and hope I have fun in New York (I need to get out of town. New York is out of town, all right. Three nights in Manhattan is not cheap).

Eventually I hauled my lazy carcass out of the Amazon website and made fruitcake, which I will need to do again tomorrow, particularly if I eat all of them tonight.

Gluten-free, sugar free Delicious Fruitcake. Makes ten little foil loaf pans.

Set oven to 300.
Chop up 8 oz of apricots, 4 oz of dates, add a pound of raisins
and another 4 oz of whatever fruit – dried cherries are good, or dried pineapple, possibly crystallized ginger, or more raisins, or dried currants.

Grate as much fresh ginger as you like, if you haven’t used it as fruit (probably you should stop at a T, and use less if you’re using dried powdered), 1 T ground cinnamon, maybe some ground cloves (go lightly here) and nutmeg, maybe some cardamom.

Microwave these all in LARGE bowl for 5 minutes with the contents of one can of concentrated apple juice, reconstituted to 4 ½ cups. Or more juice and less water if you like. Maybe use some bourbon. One of the reasons one uses alcohol in things like this is that it frees up the volatile oils in the spices. Another is to share in the bootlegger mystique of Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory.

Some might say you should let this sit overnight. Probably not necessary. Allow to cool a little before you add four eggs (beaten, ideally) and ¾ c of vegetable oil (I wouldn’t recommend olive).

Food-process 8 oz of almonds until very fine (builder’s sand or better). This will make about 3 c of almond meal.

Take 2 cups of your favorite gluten-free flour (say 1 ½ c of corn starch and ½ c of tapioca and maybe some bean, or GF mix, or if gluten is not a concern you could use whole wheat. One of these days I will use masa harina.

Add a T of baking powder to the dry ingredients and stir them well. Combine with the wet ingredients.

Stir in 2 cups of walnuts and one of pecans, according to taste. For it is written ‘nutty as a fruitcake,’ and who are we to gainsay it?

Stir dry ingredients into wet. It will be gooey. Add more liquid if it is not. Try to distribute the nuts/fruits and the relatively liquid batter evenly among your pans. You can also make cupcakes or proper loaves, but you will have to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Top each cake with a perfect pecan or walnut or candied cherry, and bake for 20 minutes and then look at them. Maybe another 20 minutes; they will shrink from the sides and bounce slightly back in the center if you touch them. You might add a t of bourbon or whiskey on each when they are hot out of the oven.

Friday, December 14, 2007

White, quite white

If you drive on an unplowed road behind someone who may be running out of gas, have ice on the wipers, be very scared (charitable thoughts supplied by my mother) and is taking caution beyond practicality (20 is not too fast, and many would consider even 25 quite responsible, so 10? TEN?) and it is dark and the flakes are flying hard
you eventually start wondering is you aren't supposed to be driving THAT way and feel vertiginously as though you are falling into the sky.

Or it may just remind you of an occasion when the Millennium Falcon succeeded in jumping light-speed (oooh this one is even better, though not like snow very much).

Subarus RULE. New Hampshire State Bird. No problems with my driveway.

While worrying about Terry Pratchett, I found my way to Neil Gaiman's blog, and somewhere he found out about reviews for some of the more obscure Amazon offerings. We all knew people had too much time on their hands, but actually I would rather they wrote reviews than bought the inflatable sheep.

I am having Stockholm syndrome with my father's socks. The mini cables (2 per sock) have four untwisted knit stitches and they are the BEST. I daydream about 4wpi stockinette and the k2b, p1 ribbing of the maybe 18 wpi very beautiful and no, I can't find the yarn on the WEBS website, grows slowly. Someday I may finish these.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Terry Pratchett seems to have a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's.

Since I have been rereading all of his books as a way to cope with life in Novemeber and December of 2007, I'm not happy at having the prospect of somethign else to be philosophical about. And I can't imagine how I would take such a diagnosis; we were ruling out hang-gliding only this evening at lab.

The closest thing I had to a spiritual thought about Asterix's death was that he had no doubts about loving the world and therefore trying to do one's ecological best was something one could do for him. I think with luck and perhaps good drugs, I will have more Pratchett to use to help me cherish people with, but it would be nice to have some good news.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Catch-up Saturday?

It has been a long week. Asterix died on Tuesday.

He had been very old for quite a while: I think he quit going for walks in the woods in the fall of 2006. Being stone-deaf for probably the same length of time cannot have been much fun, and he had cataracts, too. He had an excellent Thanksgiving mugging my mother for smoked oysters, and the week after he assaulted an innocent endtable (or possibly, saved its life) extracting a shrimp-tail armed with weapons of mass destruction (he ate it for all of us). After that he lost his appetite, except for a chicken liver or so.
When he stopped wanting to eat even them, or cream, or cottage cheese, I knew the end was coming. Friday I did take him to the vet who charged me $90 for blood tests they have still not called to tell me about (they will hear about this), and he was so far out of his depth I realized again he could not last long. He had increasing trouble walking, but apart from being irritated about this he was not in distress. So we followed him around the house and stroked him, and he walked fewer places and said Yarp, and on Tuesday morning he nestled his head in my hand for a while and then I had to go to work. He was quite cold by the time Doug got home, so I think he passed very soon.

Doug and I cremated him in the firepit with more wood than you would think and a lot of olive oil. I don't recommend this for the faint-hearted (start with really a LOT more wood than you think will be needed, on all sides of your corpse). I cried a lot. My grief much better now that he has finished dying; although it reminded me of my (good) home-birth experiences, the same open-endedness was wearing. Now I just miss him.

We have lost Mena in April or May, Digger in June? and now Asterix. Compared to a woman on the Council of Churches whose house has burned down, been hospitalized for a near-by lightning strike, and just lost her brother, it's not been too bad (insert your favorite story about Iraq here).

We have three cats now, all under four. Toby just turned a year, Marten is probably now two and a half, and Willow is somewhere around two. I wish Willow would stop stalking the boys; they are terrified of her. I have acquired one of the diffusers of calming pheromones some blogger I trust and my daughter recommended, but the house is too scattered to know where I should put it. I would need about five and between Christmas and all (taxes, the 108K-mile car tune-up,spaying, $90 of USELESS BLOODWORK, taxes,and wild living) even one seemed expensive. (My bedroom just won the toss. I gave Toby and Willow crunchy treats and plugged it in next to them (maybe I should have bought the spray and just poured it over their heads in violation of the federal usage guidelines). Willow relaxed but then Marten came in and war broke out.)

The snow is beautiful and it is really cold. I could put one of the 2005 photos in for snow but it's pretty much white, with decorative edging on the trees. Sometimes the sun comes out and it is so lovely it's trite.

Do none of these women (Harlot, Juno, TooMuchWool, Julia, Norma, just look at my links in past posts, you know who they are) I admire do anything but knit? I know they don't, they travel, and cook, and go to work, and so forth. Some of them tidy their houses. I do go to work (my boss is away. I am a calmer, gentler, less productive, much happier person)but I also sometimes read and apparently fritter my life away, or I would not be worried about finishing one pair of socks (and a glitten or mlove). DOOMED.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Snowing like mad

We have about 6" on the ground and it's very pretty. Sadly, when the Concord schools close so does my place of work, so I am home enjoying the peace and quiet and working on my father's socks. If I finish them I shall be probably be as pleased as my father will be; I look at the Yarn Harlot's Christmas knitting list and am astonished and perhaps horrified. But then, she's dedicated, and perhaps she doesn't allow her friends to strong-arm her into teaching a needlefelt class like Sarah did me and Doug yesterday.

Actually, and not surprisingly, I had a great time. We had four students, who behaved well, did not stick the needles into themselves (or worse, one another), and to my surprise a four-hour workshop was pretty good. We had a lunch break and everyone had time to make something and get ideas to take home with their felt and needles and a bit of roving. Doug is much better at some practical things, like bringing scissors, and he also could be firm. I was the good cop and kept telling them not to worry. I was pleased because I managed to write a relatively informative handout and to remember to bring the silk spacedyed roving, which looks very very nice on wool.

Afterwards Sarah took us back to her home for soup. She needs an orange hat so she won't be mistaken for a deer in the woods (deer wear other colors, maybe they are Republic-of-Irish?)

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You may not be able to tell, but she is making the same hat as the one she is wearing. It will be superb. And Bright enough, I hope.

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What we made in felting class
The bluish donut-shaped thing on the left is a base for embroidery and looked exactly like the picture the student wanted to make.

The water wasn't too cold, once Sarah threw me in.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Adopt a sheep.

I want one.

Or, if the sheep is too much: an olive tree:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving is not one of our best holidays, since there is nothing to do but eat and watch TV, and I have no TV. Also some of us should not drink wine before 6pm, or if we do we should just be honest and go nap.

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The food was delicious and made by the daughter, everyone pitched in with the dishes and the general tidying. I reckon I am the Luckiest Thanksgiving Girl in the World because I had leftovers and no piles of dead dishes. (Or relatives). The daughter had some weird (probably Smith-influenced, commie) idea we should all eat the same food. Since she is a vegetarian, her father avoids tomatoes, my mother eschews fowl, eggs, and milk products (though not cream), and my father is thorough-going celiac, this was not easy. She made delicious vegetable soup, mashed potatoes, and re-invented empanadas. They were a tamale dough pockets, fried then baked, filled with a mixture of summer squashes, onions, garlic, and walnuts. Oh, my goodness. There were five pies (my parents and the housemate) and the daughter made pumpkin cheesecake. The wine was Acorn Medley (which is delicious, unfortunately; it's well out of my usual budget) and my father brought a wonderful salad.

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We spoke to geographically distant relatives on the phone and made remarks about what people were requesting for Christmas presents. No ne wants anything the others describe as exciting.

But it is obvious my life needs more excitement or I would not have been wistful listening to the ex and the daughter plan a trip to England (well, actually, it would sound pretty good anytime; I miss some aspects of being part of a family). Then the daughter and her friend took off for New York, and I should have stowed away, though it being her father's Beetle they might have noticed.

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The weather didn't make us any livelier.

I have been working on my Latvian mitten, my father's socks, my ex's tea-cozy, and rereading all of Patrick O'Brian. Next week Doug and I are supposed to be leading a needle-felting workshop. Oh God.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

In other news

Last winter I made Ellie a sweater, mailed it to Italy... she reported that despite swatching and measuring and everything it was somewhat large. We consider shrinking it. We are scared. It fits me fine, although it's more her colors than mine. Rueful. Warm.

My class with Beth-Brown-Reisel, whom I liked very much (she put up with someone in the room pontificating about pre-Columbian civilization the Americas and she is a good, light-hearted, informative-without-being-imperative type of teacher) did not address aging cats who don't want you to do intarsia, or people who get home from work and crawl into AubreyandMaturin and macaroni and wine.

Splendid Japanese English (much better than my Japanese), and a nice product.

Dick is doing very well and has permission to drive. Mostly I was happy to hear, since he is sleeping some 15 hours a day, that it doesn't hurt when he turns over anymore.

Autumn is pretty much named Willow, particularly when she jumps Toby. Doug swears her eyeballs turn black (I cannot find a picture to link to, but MANY people have named their pets after characters on Buffy). She turns out not to be either pregnant or spayed, the latter condition both a)proving she is not Keet-sue (Did I tell you Miss Tucker turned up uninjured in the barn next door to her home?)and b)subject to change after Thanksgiving.

Asterix is apparently feeling Just Great, even if he is bony. He has taken to jumping up to my windowsill to sit on the microwave to persuade me to give him milk, or he will deep-six the teapot.

It got cold. It's mid-November, it has permission. Today is, in fact, the 28th anniversary of my marriage (and about the ninth anniversary of its breakup). We're still speaking. Kids are healthy. Could have been much, much worse.

Nice piece of work.

Watch this. It is way cool.
Well, I had good intentions, kind of like putting my head in a blender for the Greater Good: two people I like very much were to visit this weekend, bringing their OCD to bear on certain intractable areas of my house. Their arrival would precipitate severe tidying in the relatively malleable parts of my house, leading to an overall improvement for Thanksgiving.

In pursuit of this, did I clean off the coffeetable? No, I spent $260 at Target. New spare pillows, new sheets, new blanket for the guest futon in the loom room (as well as Grace and Dahlia, my ex-spouse or a friend of the daughter will be out there for Thanksgiving and Lisa for Christmas); curtains rods for the already bought curtains for the loom room, a clock radio/cd player for the loom room because the lack of music, NPR, and timepiece has been making me insane. While it will never be Grace and Dahlia's spare room (their hobbies are not stash-involved. They have _space_ in their kitchen cabinets. And yet they are lovable), I wanted it to be more welcoming and the sort of place I would be happy to find after 16 oz of wine.

I hate all window treatments, but you can see the BTU's beating their tiny fists against the insulated glass and sneaking through eventually. Many people are disturbed by the prying glances of bears and chickens before they dress (the people. Our bears and chickens are always perfectly dressed)(one way or another). I got the plain white cotton tabbed curtains and am contemplating a swarm of potato block-prints. How to avoid pointless busyness in a room with a wool stash and a bookshelf without just having boring white curtains? The pointless dreaded pelmet? And I may have to hem them...

Last night I put up a set of curtains (insert moan about inability to use electric tools on viciously-designed curtain rod holders and incorrect placement of electric outlets), and realized that my intuition that neither the LONG nor the short curtain rods were the right length for three of the windows was spot on. One can, however, take half a long rod and half a short rod and achieve medium. Go me.

I also moved the bookshelf. Most of you will be at peace with the idea that one MUST unload the shelves. This is not necessarily the case, but it is wise not to stack the books in the turning radius through which the bookshelf (half-full? half-emptied?) is intended to pass.

Stacks of books are no more stable than glaciers.

Willow thinks I am eccentric. She kept me company, leaving only long enough to beat the crap out of one of the boys.

The loom room is not at the moment a tranquil place, but I had some idea it could be made habitable in a few more hours. But Grace called and Dahlia's mother has just had a metastatic malignant mass removed from her back and they won't be coming anytime soon. I wish it had been for happier reason, like winning a weekend at the Balsams.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

sailing nicely

The cardiac-patient archaeologist is doing very well and back home. The cat is also back home, terrorizing the other cats when she gets the chance (not that that takes much effort, in Toby's case) and being the picture of affectionate and generally sweet catness to people. She may possibly be a Willow rather than an Autumn. Alyson Hannigan would be proud.

I am in Lovely Burlington, VT, at a an archaeology conference. It was a reason to get out of town. I had not really understood, Google Maps notwithstanding, that it was three hours' ride, and leaving here on Sunday morning in time to get to a knitting class back in Concord at 10 may be a bit unpleasant (at least for the people sharing my room).

Monday, November 05, 2007

pretty well, actually

My friend is back at home. We knew he was doing well when he was discussing the difference between mastodons and mammoths on November 2.

And here's the latest on the AUtumn cat.

When last we saw Autumn, we were wondering if she might be pregnant. Then someone decided she was their cat (the third brown female tabby to be missing in Canterbury), about two miles from the village where the cat had turned up. Sarah was unsure about the whole scene: the cat alleged to be Autumn's brother didn't seem to recognize her, they hissed a lot, and the owner said Autumn was mostly feral and lived in the back yard(which was not much like the cat who had been sitting on my lap). But she was sure this her cat, probably. Autumn rushed off and hid behind the person's barn. I think saying "Sarah was unimpressed" would be putting it diffidently enough. She left and felt bad. I don't know what I would have done either, but Sarah was not happy, Doug and I were sad, and Sarah's boyfriend put forth some larcenous ideas that sounded fine to me.

So this evening Sarah heard meowing at her door and it was not Abbey. It was Autumn, who had figured out where Sarah's door was by being carried (in a carrier) to it from the village across the road and from it to the car, several times. So Autumn is coming back here tomorrow and anyone claiming her can just produce kitten pictures and come to see her in Henniker.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

SIgh of relief

My friend made it through his bypass surgery. I'll feel better when I know he's awake, which at the rate the hospital is communicating may take some time. His wife was sitting in the hospital _with_ the liaison person who was trying to get information, but the hospital wouldn't give the liaison any information and instead, called the patient and (his wife)'s home and left reassuring messages on the answering machine.

I imagine the dog was glad to hear things had gone well, though.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunny with cold breeze

My father usually asks me how I am and I usually tell him what the weather is like. I have known women whom you would ask the same thing and they would tell you how the kids were. Both of these seem to me to make perfect sense. I think I am fighting a cold but basically I am fine. It's fifty F and blue of sky with a few puffy white clouds. Yesterday it rained a lot.

Doug (who has another job interview coming up, although at the moment he doesn't seem terribly desirous of a different job and is treating the interviews as interesting sources of things to ask people _he_ has to interview) is away for the weekend. I am glad it's cleared up today.

Autumn is back in the Loom(less) Room. Only one more person lately has been sure she was her cat, and then realized Autumn was not the right brown tabby. I do wonder what's happening to brown tabbies in Canterbury. Sarah wondered yesterday if Autumn had been dumped for being pregnant, but since other than eating really a LOT she has no sign of such an alarming condition, I doubt this (and people are more accepting of unplanned kittens nowadays, aren't they?). Next week we will go and get tested for kitty diseases and establish whether or not she has been spayed. It would be a welcome savings, and being a cat if she hasn't been spayed she probably is pregnant. God forbid.

Friday we had a big workshop at work,for 'prophetic preachers.' My life and Div. school experiences suggest the best preachers are always trying to get better and the woman from Yale sounded excellent. I was doing hospitality and trying to keep the potato chips flowing, which was quite satisfying. Throughout this, it was Jessica's-down-the-hall's last day on the job. We had a trip to the Elegant Ewe and beer and dinner to look forward to. At 10 a.m. she had wondered if it was a bad sign that she wanted the beer THEN, and her day, of course, became more irritating. She said she was going to march down to the yarn store and give them her checkbook.

We both survived until then. Our friendship survived the even more perilous moment when Kelly and I Confronted her and said she should not be wearing ice blue and periwinkle when wearing nice reds and russets made her look _wonderful._ And the yarn she bought to make the Kimono Sweater was lovely enough to eat or roll in, and at least the rolling will be much easier when she has knit it up.

I committed a skein of Red Willow Mountain Goat because it is finally cold enough to think realistically of warm socks. I am poised to make a pair of Monkey out of what I am pretty sure is Wild Raspberry Twizzle, but that will require attention and my brain is not at home these days (or many others, actually).

On Saturday, Sarah came over to knit and hold a gun to my head. As a result of her efforts, I tidied (and she tidied) my bedroom down to floor in several places, and I started some needle-felted stars for the workshop she has, ah, persuaded, Doug and me to do for Shaker Village. Needle felting is one of the best crafts I know, in that to be vaguely competent you don't need much tuition, a fortunate thing for any students of mine (only you need not to bleed on your creation, which is less of an issue in knitting). The equipment is cheap and you get to play with colors. She left to go make scary noises for Haunted Village Tours and I watched a curiously sweet movie called "Fido," which is well worth a viewing. It's about love and fidelity and the Meaning of Life as movies usually are. Religion and ethics make brief, dignified, and appropriate appearances. And it has Billy Connelly making Lurch noises.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why trusting the universe gives me such a headache

'When the student is ready, the teacher will arrive' and all those trusting remarks about synchronicity. I want to be that kind of person. So I say, look, universe, I have a place in my life for a cat. Nothing happens. In true American style, I haul myself to animal shelters, undertake Marten and Toby, lovely cats both with some quirks and incredibly effective bloodlust (house full of Mafia-style warnings like chipmunk head in the living room, leg in the far kitchen....). Excellent cats. I still want a nice sane kitten, preferably a queen.

The universe, doing rather badly by some of my friends --last summer's woman with lumpectomy has just finished radiation, doing fine, now her husband is having bypass surgery on Halloween; you wonder if the fun ever stops and then you hope not, to say nothing of all of Southern California) does not have time to cough up a kitten.

A sweet cat shows up in Canterbury Shaker Village, whom Sarah feeds and cultivates. After some days and some discussion, the cat strolled into the cat carrier (! ?? !!!!) herself on Monday and began to spend a quiet few days in quarantine here, provisionally named Autumn. Sarah put up a poster.

We had the slightly weird, mostly okay last archaeology lab before said cardiac patient's surgery last night. Sarah appeared and said the cat's distraught owner had turned up, clutching the poster and saying "Miss Tucker ran away just after I moved here, I'm so glad you found her, her brother misses her so much!" Sarah drove to my house and picked up the cat and I reflected how tired I am of loving beings that are not mine to love. (You can insert the appropriate Christian, Buddhist, fatalist remarks about how _everyone/everything_ is on loan, etc, but some beings are on even less of a loan than others.)

Turns out the cat I have been calling Autumn is not Miss Tucker at all. So Autumn is going to spend the next few days in Sarah's bedroom in Canterbury, not amusing her two queen kitties one little bit. Doug and I are trying to remain open to either bonding with Autumn or being delighted her people have her back (this cat has been deeply loved, unless she is a Bodhisattva cat). We have two brown female tabbies lost in the Canterbury area in the last couple of weeks, God knows where Miss Tucker is, and her brother still misses her.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I wish I weren't thinking about this. All the time.

It's Blog Action Day (it will be on Monday, anyhow) and the theme is the environment. At the very least, both the goldfinches (and the other passeriforms and aves in general, and in fact life on Earth) and the fiber bearers (sheeps and camelids mostly, most of whom are domesticated) need fairly specific ones. I had not realized that the two in my title were so opposed, one being wild and one being mostly domesticated. One being part of the ecology and largely dependent, one being a part of the ecology that gets really a lot of technological help and, given enough, will degrade the environment in which it lives well beyond the area's capacity to carry it.

I love a good polarization.

People are part of nature. We are a reflective part of nature, which allows us to do things to our environment ("I could farm here if there weren't so many trees"), and eventually to consider what it is we are doing ("I can't farm here now that it doesn't rain... I wonder if it has something to do with the lack of trees?"). The latter has only become widespread as people have spread into all the habitable ground and the effects of intense exploitation have become unavoidable. It is only a recent part of human life to HAVE TO consider ourselves part of our environment; most of the human experience has been about most becoming part of the humic layer real soon.

I like people, many in particular and quite a lot of things about us in general. We are learning so very much about how it all works as we realize how easily it can all stop 'working,' in the sense of 'working the way we like it, with food, air, water, charismatic fauna and flora,not too much dengue, a good place for Moore's Law to operate.'

There probably need to be fewer of us and we really really must take Stuart Brand's words to heart: We are gods, and we may as well get good at it. There is nothing we can do that does not matter. (This is frankly a drag.)

I have been weirdly cheered by Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe something will go better. The whole world situation suggests that none of the Marvel superheroes (or the DC ones), the Mission:Impossible team, UNCLE, or the Avengers are answering their calls (go Google them yourself if you're so young you don't know).

If I have a talent other than ineffective kindness and grammar-fascism (I rather like this link but the site may be crap)it is biblography. Not much idea how you should live, but lots on what you might read:

Historical and relevant (and not terribly encouraging):

The Long Summer, By Brian Fagan. You settle, you get used to the climate, you grow, the climate changes. Most of you die or migrate. Repeat.

by Jared Diamond. Do trees prefer totalitarians?

A Forest Journeyby John Perlin -- really brought home to me that you have to burn something.

by Charles Mann. What was my face before my great-grandparents immigrated? The only book on American history I have really been excited by.

Pretty good fiction:

Forty Signs of Rain
Fifty Degrees Below
Sixty Days and Counting, all by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Link to a list of links for Blog Action Day.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Well, it's still raining

And I suppose I can't protest much, but I will if it rains all week and all weekend, too. The leaves up north were lovely, and they aren't bad down here, but it's the kind of gloomy weather that makes you not care, even if you can see the leaves. I did, however, get the Octoberfest blog entry up, once the State remembered to bring the chip into work. I hope to get a better link but the generic site one will have to do.

Sarah and I met and knit for an hour after work since I am having social withdrawal after all the people last weekend. I know, if I were sensible I would go to Rhinebeck, but the house might fall down and I would be really, really broke, and even more overstashed than I already am.

My cat thinks it's time for me to go to bed and he is probably right.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In the works

I am back from a really lovely long weekend in the White Mountains digging holes and taking pictures of dirt and rocks (soil profiles and artifacts). I have most of an entry written and I hope to get it up at the NH Underground blog this evening (no link until there's something to see), after I have retrieved the pictures I want from the State, Whose camera I was using (the rocks and dirt belong to all of NH, after all).

I have finished my mother's socks.

My milk stout, upon mature consideration, is undrinkable.

Corned beef hash is unknown in France and not widely known in Quebec. It's very tasty.

Keum Boo is not all that much fun if you are not an abstract person and keep trying to make _things_ with scraps of non-adhering gold leaf.

Hold a good thought for Doug the housemate, who has an interview possibility.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Deep breath

I made spaghetti sauce before work. I stayed calm at work (so did my boss, even though he had forgotten I was leaving for an early weekend) and I am told the #10 envelopes will work fine. DEEP BREATH.

Jessica at the end of the hall
has a new job, so she will be LEAVING ME ALL ALONE THERE in early November. But I'll be fine, sitting there in the dark.

I punted lab and went to the supermarket to get healthy snacks and the cocoa Dick forgot. And cat food and Kitty Litter (not the TM kind)and Asterix's drugs and a bottle of propane for the Tripod of Orodruin, which boils one's tea water real quick of a frosty morning. And some of it all is in the car and soon, honestly, I will get the rest.

Probably not much updating will take place in the next four or five days. Some knitting, with luck.


I am still employed and my boss is uninjured. The poor man wasted a ream of 11x17 paper (one side had one orientation, the other had another; America is not ready for this)and said he felt sick, and I thanked him for making me feel better. We also had a tacit truce because he has not figured out Microsoft Publisher and I have (to some extent).

I am not ready for Octoberfest and not really happy with the gold on the ring I am Keum-booing (a Keum Boo-boo?) but life is okay.

Here is a really spectacular hummingbird picture. I didn't take it but it lifts my heart.
And Here. The photographer is a firespotter and there's a story about him in the newly-free New York Times.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Perhaps it will get better

Okay. The weekend was great. I also acquired gingko leaves to play with in the silver clay. I returned home and went to work to find that the 200 envelopes I ran through the magic mail function had the wrong return address on them. My boss, already unhappy because it took me so damn long to generate the list he said I ought to have been able to make in a few minutes, got to stick 200 return address labels over them on Friday night.

He also found we had roughly 10% of the envelopes you put in when you send an appeal out. This resulted directly in my printing and stickering 2000 self-addressed envelopes yesterday. Even 500 is a lot. I called to find out what size envelopes the mailer wanted. She said bigger was better, 9's would do. Staples does not have 9's, so I got 10's. 4/5 of the way through the boss suggested the 10's would stick out of the mailer. I said she said bigger was better, and Staples had no 9's. He said I ought to have gone somewhere else and not assumed (he barely managed not to make his usual remark about how assuming "makes an 'ass' of 'u' and 'me,' " which I didn't find endearing the first time). I don't think there is anywhere else in Concord.

If the 10's don't work I am going to offer to resign. I can't stand much more. We communicate badly; he can't believe I don't think and remember everything the same way he does. Much of the time, he knows a lot more about running a non-profit (not surprisingly). I am also doing things like forgetting how to do weird things in Word in less than six months. Some of this may relate to a certain amount of stress, since we are running on the boredom-punctuated-by-panic business model.

He is right, we ought to have had more envelopes on hand. If there were anything to say on my side, it would be that he has been saying we would be sending out a mailing since the beginning of August, and as of yesterday at 5 pm, he had not yet written the copy. The inelasticity of my brain has not allowed me to make it automatic that the word "Mass mailing" should lead to a nice complete list of useful stationery, since I tend to think "Oh God, ACCESS," even though Access is behaving a bit better for me (after nearly 2 years, we are beginning to get along better).

He also wants me to be responsible for tidying the supply room, which is unfortunate because he has a much lower threshold of messy and if he didn't go in and tidy it I would know what we had on hand. The disposition of the boxes changes daily and not always in a useful way. I think it is nice for him to have something concrete to do and if he wants to disarrange the supply room it's fine with me, although I wish he would not hide things.

I had planned to leave work at two, go to the grocery store, the bank, and pick up some more fresh silver clay,get the cat's prescription, then go home, make spaghetti sauce to freeze for the archaeological weekend, use the gingko leaves in the clay before they dry out, and do a major kiln firing, as well as cut an intricate piece of gold foil for the class tomorrow (today).

I left work at about 5:00, reached the bead store at quarter past five (it closes at five, I thought it was six, but not always true...), but the nice woman had already let a family in and we all promised to leave quickly and we were all cheery and happy. I drove to the bank, endorsed my checks, and found I still hadn't got my ATM card back in my wallet. I drove to the vet, who closed at six, arriving at five past. I went to the small local grocery store which has a poster of the local buffalo it sells, perfect for dig spaghetti sauce, only it is usually out of buffalo, it turns out, which makes the times I have bought it there before relatively unusual. I bought cholesterol-laden, ecologically unsound ground cow and went home. It was 6:30 and I didn't actually do anything productive except help Doug throw back the tide of dangerously full wine bottles in central New Hampshire.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mittension of Rovaniemi

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Actually, it was a fairly laid-back class; we were quiet because we were _busy_, thank you.

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Susanna Hansson is a good teacher and a fun and pleasant person, as well as one of the most astoundingly fluent non-native English-speakers I've ever encountered. I was happy that she has encountered and used correctly the fine word schlep, which my years at Brandeis taught me was best translated (when used as a noun) as 'A steamer trunk full of rocks.' She did have a good deal of stuff with her.

And though the room (rather harshly lit) was full of knitting teachers there was a familiar face who picked out a familiar colorway:

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I don't seem to knit as loose as I once did, as 000 needles turned out to be unnecessary and 1's were fine. I think either I am growing up or my drugs are perfectly balanced because I restarted once because I screwed up the first row and ruined the cast-on, at least once; then I learned I hope for the last time that if you're knitting in the _round_ you read the chart normally (like a typewriter, for you antiquaries) instead of boustrophedon;then I just plain read the chart wrong and skipped a color repeat: and yet I was not crazed or suicidal, or even the least complete in the class by the time we gave up and shopped, being at WEBS after all. I'd have a picture of my partial cuff but I pulled it out again this afternoon because I would really like to do it right. But I may try it again in sport instead of fingering and with a whole line of different colors because I managed to get the first and second and third pale greens mixed up.

One particular thing struck me: Susanna was discussing Saami weaving and one thing led to another and there I was talking about Women's Work, the First 20,00 Years,which some of you may recall my mentioning other times. Anyway, one of the WEBS employee-students went and fetched the four copies in the store and people bought three of them. My kind of fanatics.

Susanna and Lene will have a article in PieceWork this coming winter sometime and The Secret of the ColorChange Will Be Out. It will still be a lot easier to learn with kindly human tuition. I can't show you over lunch. It is really absorbing and those folk (you know, folk tradition) were awfully clever.

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Everyone picked colors that went with what she was wearing.

I behaved fairly well at WEBS except for the five skeins of sportweight alpaca... And I have almost finished my mom's second sock!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I am about to go to WEBS (slightly more than halfway down) and be out of my depth, but I am sure I will have a good time anyway.

Here is how I've been: As the week went on, I became more and more impatient with Being at Work. Usually it's just a dull throb but this week it became acute, until by Friday I wanted to snap "Oh, get a HOBBY! and stop talking about things I already know and just LET me ALONE so I can DO my JOB!" The boss is in one of his slightly manic moods where the forest is thick and he is concentrating on teeny little leaves, while complaing that we must make it through to the other side in the next ten minutes. It makes me anxious.

Down the hall, Saisquoi did her job in seraphic calm. It is a comfort when you know someone understands why you're making Igor "The-Marsther-ith-MAD! MAD, I tell you!" faces and full-body gestures all the way to the bathroom.

The weather decided to be strange. Along with peri-menopause and heat sensitivity from SSRIs and being fat, I hate high humidity. I hate all of these things and all of them are active in my life. So it was 65 degrees F (usually a well-enough behaved temperature, if not clammy)with about 90% humidity and my knees were sweating. This was toward the end of the week; it had been 90 F+ and broken records on Wednesday, not your dry heat either. It's better now; I am wearing wool socks for the first time since about March.

On Tuesday I had a pleasant but not very productive silver class. On Wednesday I had a fine time at lab, where we gave Dick an atlatl for his birthday because I was tired of listening to him try to explain how they work. The atlatl is the way most of the projectile points were are occasionally lucky enough to find were used to kill food
or in other parts of the ancient world, food. His wife won't let him hang it up over the mantelpiece with the little brackets made of dead deer-hooves. I can't really blame her.

Thursday they had promised the weather would break, but it did not. I went to tea at the home of friend's mother, and it could not have been nicer. The most English home I have seen in the New World, with (honestly) horse brasses and blue-and-white ware on the walls. And zucchini bread, which was a nice touch of inculturation (I suppose they might have zucchini bread in England, but I rather doubt it).

When I got home I found Effectively Blogless Sarah had, as she promised, come to visit. And tidied the whole downstairs. I kiss her feet. I said I would make us something to eat and she pulled the quiche out of the oven. Sarah is welcome to raid my stash anytime (which she has only done with encouragement, I hasten to add. As far as I know. The stash is such that quite a number of things might be disappeared before I notice. But don't get any ideas, I am going to do the Ravelry penance/inventory soon, I mean next week, I mean in mid-October...).

I have finished one of my mother's socks. Taking a class is hardly the same as starting another project, is it? I mean, I have no choice about the timing. Or buying supplies...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Kool-Aid is tasty

In particular, I finally Did Something with my Ravelry invitation (Jess told me I must have signed up for a beta tester several years ago. I have only the vaguest of memeories of doing so). Just ankle-deep, of course. I joined Facebook last week; it has been great for being in touch with my friends of the later generations. Like, I hear 40% of Facebook are over 35, but I haven't run into anyone my age. My father is 80 and possibly the oldest person on it; one of his friends invited him.

Both of these are addictive timesinks. At least Ravelry has the prospect of doing me some good; my stash is bigger than I am and some kind of fearless exploration would be a good thing. I wish there were some kind of book thing (any suggestions?) I could add to this blog; Facebook has an 'I'm Reading' app that ties into Amazon, which I would feel guiltier about if I were not one of their frequent flyers.

I forgot to mention I bought just a very small Icelandic fleece at Wool Day. Moorit. I would enjoy it just for the pulling-into tog and thel goodness.

Honestly, I will take some pictures soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pictures? Why would I have taken pictures?

A delightful note on boredom as an anthropological item.

I figure I am reasonably contented these days but the fact is I am reading way too much and the house has descended from barbarism through savagery and is dipping into chaos. One reason to find solace in Robin McKinley is that the space inside a book is tidy, and also not my problem.

Except that we are in a drought, the weather lately has had some perfect days. It managed to be pleasant for the Canterbury Shaker Village Wool Day, where Doug and I go and spin. This is a very small atypical wool festival, in that the demonstrators far outnumber the vendors, and the visitors often know _nothing_ ("Is that a spinning wheel? Do all spinning wheels look like that?").

I am finally beginning to recognize some of the people I don't know from blogging, like the woman whom I taught to spin four Wool Days ago. She would pop up and say "Hi! Remember me?" and I would gulp and say, "Um, no...." She managed to imprint on my adamantium skull at Spa and even though I couldn't recall her name I knew who she was. Hi, Pam! Maybe we'll get solid on your name next.

My parents came up from Boston and enjoyed the sheep. I dragged them the extra hundred yards to see Gina Gerhardt (whom I just Googled and ended up with my own blog entry (down a ways) as the top pick. Gina, your profile is TOO LOW)'s flax braking setup. I take spinning and even weaving pretty much for granted (unlike most of the visitors, which is why they are at Wool Day), but flax processing is rare. My parents were gracious enough to be actually interested, and Gina was gracious enough to let me play with her stuff and demo it for them. She was a hoot, actually, and yelled at me for not remembering _everything_ she had taught me a year ago. Since I failed to remember _her_ when I saw her at Fiber Revival (you would have thought the hank of flax on her wheel would have been a hint) this was particularly funny. (I do usually recognize my parents.)

I have roughly enough silver equipment to furnish a small craft fair, and no apparent time, no apparent space, and a tendency to freeze. I am taking a Keum-Boo on Argentium class and messing around in Keum-Boo with silver clay and it's _magic_.

I will post this and go to work and hope to update more soon. But this weekend, because I need another project, I am going to Northampton to visit the daughter and take the Rovaniemi Mittens workshop at Webs. Why, given that I have maybe 12 projects ongoing and am not that great a knitter in the first place? I blame the Harlot. Show me a lost art and I am anybody's. (Raider of the Lost Art...)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Art and fear and housework and !@#$% global warming

Finally, something to which I can find washing catfood cans preferable. I blame Sara Lamb for starting me down the silver clay road to ruin. Sending me back to hang with the vicious, friendly, vegetarian bead store owner, who happened to have classes... chainlink jewelry with beads. Doug, my so-called friend, dragging me with him to a wirework class (at the Fiber Studio! Even in a warm fuzzy place full of fiber, the sultry gleam of brass and copper and silver. Carol is giving another class there Nov. 11). There are books on enamelling out there and I already have a small kiln.

Sadly, as the equipment and materials and books piles rise, so does my apprehension. I know, this is neurotic. But I really needed to clean the kitchen up last night, and I am really happy I did, and I still managed to go play a bit. I am making a cross for my ex (I know, the ex has me, who needs another cross?), whose birthday is Monday. I want it to be nice. The design options are vague: no stones. "Make it look maybe like a tree." What, it's a cross, and it's teeny, and it's silver. And I am not rich in technique or experience. I am trying a couple of things involving carving a Sculpey mold. As always the work was not nearly so intimidating as the anticipation. It may not be what the ex wants, but it will be small enough to put in a drawer if necessary. And I _will_ finish the tea cosy by Christmas.

Imagine how hard it would be to start if I were an industrial-size metal sculptor.

Meanwhile, we are having a drought. Two months and counting since there was any significant rain. I top up the frog ponds from the well, wondering how the aquifer is holding out. NPR woke me up with a cheery tale from the BBC about rising sea-levels in Bangla Desh leading to refugees in Assam. Assam is where the tea I like best comes from. AND the human suffering, yes. As good as the wakeup last week about the Huichol being done out of their peyote by drug tourists (one of whom didn't sound completely evil, either).

On the plus side: the mozzerella recipe from the Kingsolver website works, if you have a source for rennet (Sarah, in my case). With tomatoes from the farmers' market and olive oil from the daughter's sojourn in Italy on the homemade bread. Yum. I nearly want to eat more healthy.

The hummingbirds left after Labor Day. They were insane, and like Etherknitter, I miss them. I would not have believed how noisy they are.

Reading: Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum, not the stuff with cars, and not for the first time; brain candy), The First Fossil Hunters(brain whole-wheat bread).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Two things I learned this summer

One is important and should be generally known: Original Ban Roll-On Deodorant, applied liberally over poison ivy, eases itching A LOT.

The other I learned this morning: Sometimes when your trousers are harder to button than they should be, they have haven't shrunk, and you haven't gained. They're inside out.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Revival was EXCELLENT

I have been on a go-slow with the knitting this summer (it was too hot, I have too much stash, I want to make stuff out of silver...leading to self-castigation for having too many hobbies, a messy house, a depleted bank account, and no finished objects, it feels like, ever, in any medium) and did not connect this with an increasing tendency to gnash my teeth and mutter. I knew I missed the lively social life of digging (is it lively, if you are grateful for one another's company, happy to eat together, and stagger off to bed at 8:30, totalled on two glasses of wine?). So I began to think what impractical thing might help and there was Julia.
For some reason the plea for chairs brought it to life for me and I decided to go to the Revival. After a summer of relative chastity, I spent too much money at the Elegant Ewe (the Woven-Stitch Kimono-style sweater in Noro)on Friday, and I feared this was the beginning of a binge. I was mostly okay though -- fortunately, there were not too many vendors at the revival and 4 oz of roving and a pair of needles is hardly anything, right? And I blame Cate for the roving; I was looking for help when I complained that there was a completely unlike-me colorway (neon green +) of roving at Heather's booth, and damn if three minutes later Cate didn't decide she needed to see it. And then she suggested we could make matching socks (although I think she may make four little ones instead of two big ones). It does spin like a dream.

It was wonderful to see people from faraway Northampton and people I know and like whose last names and homes I have no idea of. And Kelly's baby, to say nothing of Kelly. I have almost met the Island Pond Spinners enough to recognize them now.

I noticed that similar makes of spinning wheel seemed to clump together. No Majas were in evidence, but more Schacts than I would have expected (they don't seem very portable, but I must be mistaken). Three darling Victorias, some Lendrums, our small ode to Joys (three in a row).

Sarah felt bad because all around her people were spinning wild colors and she was doing white. She is intending to make a handspun, naturally-dyed Bohus sweater and spinning white for a LONG TIME is part of the deal. I can't wait to see it. It will be my own fault that that will take longer because she decided she also needed to knit the Kimono thing (which the Ewe really needs to put up on its website). I spent Sunday muttering until I finally just gave in and knit instead of doing anything useful, and Doug is knitting a new floor for the chicken coop, I think the wood is 4-ply...

Real life. Bah.

Monday, August 13, 2007

She blogs, but not very often -- trying to catch up

Okay, it's been busy. Only not really. I came back from the last week of digging on August 4. We never did find anything but the foundations of a good-sized wall. Tidiest early Americans EVER.

It was very hot. It was very humid. It was harder to cope with than the greater, though dryer, heat of last year, even though we had patches of shade sometimes this year.

While I was digging (except for the first week when I thought I would die, that I was too old, that I had fibromyalgia, and then remembered to take aspirin/ibuprofen/ something like that BEFORE going out to dig) my knees and back became perfectly good and did not hurt particularly. Both places are getting cranky again now I am home. I don't really know what to make of this, as I do not really want to go be a contract digger.

Two days before the end of the dig I got a couple of very small patches of poison ivy, much less than most people. I did not get horrible dripping pustules, but the patches did propagate random very itchy dots all over my body. These finally stopped itching a week later, when I heard Deb was not going to need chemotherapy after her lumpectomy. I like good news.

I believe that was also the night we had guests.
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Dark they were and golden-eyed.

On Wednesday, my daughter got back from her trip digging in Italy (she landed in MA late Tuesday night and stayed at her boyfriend's parents' home). She was not impressed by the administration of the dig but she learned to use a pick and found some pottery and tiles and was in Italy. She liked to cook before she went there (and has not been exceptionally lucky as far as the food she got from the places she studied) and within about half an hour of my arriving home after work, she and her boyfriend and I went to the Henniker farmers' market, where she made crooning noises over the tomatoes. I am very fortunate.

On Thursday, we got her a new driver's license and a cell phone and she was able to take a deep breath because she existed again.

On Friday we visited Sarah in Canterbury to get some rennet (enzymes are sensitive to heat. It is excellent ricotta, though) and we went for a walk through the Shaker Village gardens. This was closely followed by a trip to the Shaker Village vegetable stand, since the little yellow cherry tomatoes were addictive. I began tidying and OBD began cooking for my birthday party (scheduled for Saturday; birthday on Sunday). Friday and Saturday were both gorgeous, with lower humidity than we have had lately, which was good because it had been too miserable to do anything as lively as decluttering

My parents, my ex, and Dick and Deb arrived in the late afternoon and found they had lots to talk about. The daughter and the boyfriend worked through the first course (fresh and delicious bruschetta, bean salad, and mozzarella-and-tomato with basil) working on the pasta, but were able to sit with the rest of us (Doug the guests and me)outside for the second course. She is prone to stress over cakes, but loves making them. Her gluten-free chocolate cake is better than most people's conventional. Her father has always made beautiful cakes (the year of the giant cardboard apatosaurus you could hide several kids in, matched with the cake with the blue Jello pool with a plastic plesiosaur, is unforgettable) and they made me an archaeology cake.

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We had the cake inside as the waether was actually cool, though the mosquitoes remained active. All afternoon the hummingbirds parted people's hair. Excellent party.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Butterflies all over

I went to get my camera so I could show off the bracelet I made this week, but I was hijacked by some unusually amenable butterflies (names are links). They really do like bergamot and buddleia, and oregano. It's glorious here, more bumblebees than you can count. Still too hot, though.
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Eastern Tailed-Blue

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American Copper
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Atlantis Fritillary

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Two-Spotted Skipper

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This one I haven't figured out yet. There are also Monarchs and cabbage whites and pale yellows
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And daylilies and frogs.
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I can't begin to do justice to the hummingbirds, them with their special-effect flying and dysfunctional family life. There is chittery cursing everywhere and deeply-involved dive-bombing high-velocity chittering UFO's. Flying knots. I worry they will be so intense they'll forget to miss my eyes.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Update update

I finally wrote something about the archaeological field school, to which I return tomorrow night for the last week. I have been having a decent time despite spending this week at work instead of in the field. It has been sickeningly hot (which I am handling worse and worse) and I am glad Doug and everyone survived. All cats are well and the archaeologist's lady has been getting better after her lumpectomy. Every time I move my right arm I think of how glad I am to be healthy right now. Aches and pains, yes, many, though MUCH better once I remembered to take Ibu or aspirin first thing in the morning as well as after the damage of the day occurred. Opinion now suggests the muscle spasms in back were stress-related, since they got better on the the dig and went away altogether in Quebec. I have not had them back this week, though it was very definitely low-key semi-productive at work.

More soon, perhaps tomorrow.

Monday, July 09, 2007

On vacation

For the next two week sI am on vacation. The weekdays will be spent digging, and I will likely be blogging them from New Hampshire Underground. Any crafty things will probably get put here. I do wish I would sleep later henceforth, lovely and quiet though it is. And the cable internet was a wonderful surprise.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A nice damp 4th

Well, I caught up on blogs (be sure to catch the sensitive artistic rendering on New Hampshire Underground). Then I finished weeding the small flower garden in the front and mulching it with well rotted horse-manure. The soil was dry enough to pull some excellent long grass rhizomes out, though bindweed needs something like a Mohole-borer to actually reach roots. I need to plant some more mid-season daylilies or something.The cosmos has self-seeded from last year very nicely.

Then Doug and I dug a small adjunct pond near the main puddle. This is in pure clay (this year I really will make pots out of it) and since it has been so dry it didn't quite fill while we were digging. It was noticeably wet and heavy with very clean worms. We called quits after four little cartloads of dirt apiece to a dip in the location sort of near the compost heap. Which cartloads were small but pulled up a short hill were quite heavy enough. It will be a nice size.

I wanted to work on "deep" and tidy up the loose at the bottom. Doug kept saying it wasn't going to rain, so he gets to try to tidy the bottom now that it's wet. I haven't said I told him so but he knows.

I should mention, because I forgot, that last Sunday we killed and ate Spike. My friend the ThD/DVM was here. She knows how to kill and gut things. I know how to cook. On the one hand, both of my parents and 99.99999% of the human species throughout history have eaten things they knew before the things became groceries. On the other hand, even though he was tasty and I know eating him is reasonable payback for a LONG life for a chicken (16 free-range months, with rapine and pillage), and good except for one minute of angst, I just was not entirely happy about consuming him. It was good chicken, not "the best I have ever eaten," though (it tasted, well, like chicken). Now it is much quieter here; Faith only crows a reasonable amount and doesn't attack anyone. It remains to be seen whether the hens grow back their feathers.

Anyway, after several nice rests and cans of seltzer, we bottled wine. I got to
use the new corker which really is nice. The wine, however... I made a batch that stayed in the carboy for two years after I moved here. It tastes strange to me, oddly grapey and as though someone had used Welch's grape juice. By the time I bottled it I had forgotten what kind it was (I know. Keep better records. I mean to use sunscreen and eat a more balanced diet too) and I thought perhaps the taste was a result of its cavalier handling. I have about a dozen bottles left; it's better it you leave it open for about three days; aerating helps some and is slightly faster. So for the first wine kit after this semi-debacle (I wonder if it would be tastier mixed with orange juice? Or grenadine? [Or run through a still?]) I took care. Unfortunately I didn't go with one of the Cabernet kits I have used before; I tried a Zinfandel . It tastes remarkably like the batch I made three years ago and mistreated. I think I really don't like kit zinfandel. Live and learn. I wonder how much I can unload at the dig?

It began to rain. We needed rain. I am sorry for all the holiday makers and campers-out at fireworks displays, but we needed rain. About 2/3 of the tadpoles have apparently transformed and gone, but we need the puddle to stay wet for the adult green frogs and the newts. To say nothing of my neglected perennials.

Then I washed up and we went to see a friend's new apartment, which is in a
house not an apt. complex, in Nashua. Nashua is Far. It is lovely (hardwood floors, interesting walls) and much more tranquil than her old place, where she could hear when anyone flushed the toilets somewhere down the hall. Curiously, I was not much company and kept zoning out. I must really be in crappy shape, as Doug was lively and
cooked the steaks. Our friend apologized for the cancellation of the fireworks, but I was okay with it, pointing out I had come to see her new apt., not fireworks.
She was pleased. It was pleasant. She killed us at Skip-Bo. I tried to stay awake all the way home.

Doug says the new pond has a frog in it already. Who says there's no need for
affordable housing?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

And continues well

The operation went well and nothing untoward was found outside a well-encapsulated slow-growing malignancy. Summer can continue.

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The weather seems to vary between God-awful hot and rather on the cool side. I like the cool side, although it is sometimes unnerving to have to wear a long-sleeved shirt in July.

As a way to deal with my anxiety over Deb (I think the archaeology boss's wife can have her own name) I thought about talismans. I made her one, realizing that the best ones always give people only what they already have, though one hopes it will enhance the quality and make it easier to draw upon. Since Deb does InformationTechnology in a public school she can always use more:

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and the lily pads are the ones in the back yard.

I had another crown prepped and my tooth keeps hurting.

My boss is often on vacation and I am working (ineffectively) on inventorying the Bibles. Next week I will be on vacation. This is a good thing, because my office work ethic is flickering out. Inventory by yourself is really slow.

I should craft more and play Solitaire less.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

All is well for now

My Only Beloved Daughter remembered the ancient technology known as a telephone. Worked remarkably well. She is alive and not doing too badly, despite a journey from hell (wrong stops of trains, five sleepless hours in a country train station, you know) and says Murlo is a sweet mediaeval village. Unfortunately the house the FORTY of the student-diggers are staying in is too small and the dig boss spent today fixing the showers. The fact that he could make headway fixing the showers is encouraging.

My archaeology boss's wife is having a lumpectomy on July 2. Since she is probably the only woman in the world who deserves him (oh, now, she hasn't done anything that bad) and they love each other rather sweetly, for 35 + years of marriage, I ask your help in sending good thoughts. I have very few relatives so I have very little experience in people I care about. (Really, in general. Insert whatever verb you like about what I have little experience in.) I so disapprove of people having any intimations of mortality. I hate it when I can't do anything. I hate it when anyone I love is unhappy. Nothing should happen that can't be cured by a good book or a chocolate cake. We have had approximately TWO sightings of honeybees this year. I know it is all going to hell in a handbasket, I know that's what entropy is all about. I don't know why I cry about it.

It was the most perfect early fall day this morning. The climate is seriously deranged. Doug and I went to a weird gem shop an hour away where we had hoped to find dichroic glass cabochons. There were very few, but there were many other things. I think I behaved pretty well except for the string of peridot beads. Cheap turquoise, inexpensive amber. A bad place for people who like to look at pretty rocks. We had lunch at a little non-chain snack bar overlooking a lake. The fish and chips were not much good but I am not poisoned, and the people were friendly, and the seating was available outdoors. When I complained that a lake that big ought to be able to afford loons, Doug found two distant black dots, who dove and surfaced very satisfactorily.

It's an awfully nice planet, and I am sure that in a million years it won't care much about the warm period in this interglacial. We who are not here for long are obligated to care about the other phenomena that aren't here for very long: rainbows (several lately), hummingbirds, one another.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The post before the previous post

The post before the one about sustainability actually brings us up to date, so you might scroll down. I should note, as it is unusual, that by and large I am not complaining about the weather; it hasn't been too hot and yesterday evening was lovely. The Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks are having a great year around my feeder. The tadpoles have yet to show legs and we have not seen more than two frogs at the puddle this year (as opposed to 20-some, last year).

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floribunda rose by the mailbox

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

we have the right to expect adaptation only from ourselves.

"In our everyday economic behavior, we seem determined to discover whether we can live alone on earth. E.O. Wilson has argued eloquently and persuasively that we cannot, that who we are depends as much on the richness and diversity of the biological life around us as it does on any inherent quality in our genes. Environmentalists of every stripe argue that we must somehow begin to correlate our economic behavior — by which I mean every aspect of it: production, consumption, habitation — with the welfare of other species.

This is the premise of sustainability. But the very foundation of our economic interests is self-interest, and in the survival of other species we see way too little self to care.

The trouble with humans is that even the smallest changes in our behavior require an epiphany. And yet compared to the fixity of other species, the narrowness of their habitats, the strictness of their diets, the precision of the niches they occupy, we are flexibility itself.

We look around us, expecting the rest of the world’s occupants to adapt to the changes that we have caused, when, in fact, we have the right to expect adaptation only from ourselves."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I was going to write about how the male in my life is only using me, but complaining about an 18-year old cat--well, of course he's getting difficult. But I swear, although he likes sitting on me the only time he shows me much attention is when he wants me to give him something. Milk, usually.

Wrote that last week. Nothing has changed.

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Here finally are the two brooch-type things I made in the wire class now about a month ago. Last week I finished the first project a ring:
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the silver one, remarkably featureless

I have the third silver-smithing class this evening; I think we are going to undertake the Bezel.

(I was just thinking I felt silly calling it a silverSMITHING class when mostly I file and sand instead of hitting things with hammers, when I realized smith was almost certainly connected to the word smite. No wonder.)

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This is the coin of the lost tribe of cat people, with terrible production values and an artificial patina. Below is a somewhat better one of a coin of the Lost Tribe of Bunny People:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket. The reverse needs work.

I am getting a tremendous kick out of carving slabs of half-baked Sculpey into dies and smooshing silver clay in between. I hope to do a coin of the Sheep People soon.

I am still spinning and actually knitted a bit while driving with Ellie into the Boston area before taking her to the airport Monday night. I had an e-mail from her from the Rome airport on Tuesday, in her late afternoon, as she waited for the luggage to catch up with her from changing planes in Paris. A 45-minute connection is not enough. If I know that, why did they schedule her for one? She was a bit concerned as to whether she would get to Siena that night, where she could take a cab to Murlo. Murlo barely shows up on Google Earth. Nor have I heard from her, and now the rest of you can help me wait. I am not worried, exactly, but I wish she would use that outmoded form of communication, the telephone.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Neither Baltimore nor the British West Indies. My back has been peculiar since the inital wire work class. It is, in fact, somewhat Out, and I should find a cheiropractor.

So I came home, forgoing the bank (bad Laura) but somehow managing to stop at the Garden Center. My peonies - I got three cheap year before last, and one bloomed last year and one looked like it might die, undermined by chickens. Last year I happened on a peony sale at the garden center in Hadley, MA (Does everyone use visits to her daughter as an excuse for horticulture?) and one of those has not opted to bloom, but the other two look great (yes, I should have taken pictures). I may have mentioned this is not a year when the desire to garden has been noticeable. The peonies haven't changed all that, but together with a couple of Siberian Iris...

So I stopped to look for more Japanesian iris, not that regular bearded are bad, and also got a peony. The one that wanted me to buy it was in full bloom and has no buds. I could not turn it down for the one with three fat buds. The fully-blown one was too much.
And this was before I even got home and opened a bottle.

And a Solomon's seal and a somewhat hybridized Ragged Robin of cheery pink. They're all perennials, which means it's practically not like buying them at all, since they will likely be back next year.
Not only is my spinal column only really happy when I am in my ergonomic driving carseat, but it was stinking hot and even the nursery guys were fading in the humidity. I managed, with rather suspect perfect posture, to unload the four pots and went inside. I found a bottle of mead, which is, of course, a muscle relaxant. I went upstairs just as thunder rolled and Toby dashed under the bed. If any of the peonies survive the battering, there will be pictures.

Also of the coin of the ancient Iron Age British Cat People (Catuvellauni?) I found out what I seem to want to do with PMC is make ancient British coins.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

decent Father's Day promotion

This is the first Father's day come-on I have seen that has not made me ill. Check it out. And I _like_ my father.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Could be worse

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

The real question is whether it will stop raining sometime and yet not be 85F. I have annuals suffering on the front porch. Some of the grass is as high as an elephant's eye.

Yesterday Doug forced me (You'll have fun." "I donwanna. Costs money." "I'll pay.") to go with him to a silver (and brass and copper) wire workshop. The teacher was really nice and had brought flexible-shaft machines (think Supercharged Dremels) and a grinding/buffing wheel. Apart dodging brooch pins--grabbed by the buffer and thrown across the room-- (all right, maybe this only happened to me) everyone had a good time. Much too good a time: Doug and I have signed up for a silversmithing class. I do not expect to become Leslie Wind over night, or even ever, but it seems like a reasonable thing to study, particularly in light of the metal clay, and either Doug or I already have most of the tools, and the (Web siteless as yet) teacher lives and works out of Concord. Because I don't have enough hobbies. As it is I already have to succeed in making a shawl, because I have two nice pins.