Sunday, April 27, 2008

it isn't an event if you aren't hemming something in the car

But 'it' is apparently a king-size quilt (after I specifically told Son I did not have a king-size in me, but I figured out how many squares of pattern I could get out of five yards of batik), and I can't see me hemming it on an airplane, and in fact I hope I will get to that far, and all in all it is a good thing someone keeps sneaking extra weeks into April. I have apparently found the part of my brain that messes around, because I have been doing mirror-image idiocy and needing to unpick yards of chain piecing. Which slows one down.
It's also spring, and has been warm and lovely, not quite enough to get me to do yardwork, but perfect for not wanting to leave the porch swing and go into the dark and cold dining room. Finally--the first rain in at least three weeks-- it is supposed to rain and give the amphibians a chance to have hot-tub orgies. We have had brushfire warning as soon as the snow lifted, and though we dodged the melting-floods bullet, everything is still wet and the rivers are high, so we are having a floodwatch. It's not really dramatic, thank goodness, but it is confusing.

As of yesterday I had one tiny pile of snow -- about a gallon-size, but I think my driveway finally has ice-out, April 27.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Secrets of the Great White North

While Lucy Neatby was teaching us the intricacies of Inner Garter Stitch and the Australian Cousins, she mentioned the Canadian breakfast cereal Shreddies, to universal bewilderment. They look a bit like Chex, but (now it can be told) they are Knitted by Nanas. It makes you wonder about the true purpose of that sock camp Harlot was going on about. Maybe they made her an honorary Nana, for her service as an auntie?

I forgot to mention -- Sarah finished the quilt top, and I have a woodchuck living in what he (not pregnant, probably he) probably thinks is a Bad Neighborhood. There are cats dealing drugs and having gang wars outside his doorstep. His hole is in a retaining wall built by junior and only moderately competent Cyclopes, but I am not worried about undermining.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


No deer has been sighted since before the last post. The tree peony is pushing up three (four) sprouts from the roots, and crocus has given way to daffodil. On Friday it was 83 F. in Concord, which is too hot.

On Friday night, I heard one peeper and one woodfrog. On Saturday morning, there was an egg-mass in the pond-puddle, so I think it likely that there were two woodfrogs. I am pleased as punch. There is a distant hammer of sapsucker on something metal, and I am very grateful it's not the otherwise without-function TV aerial. Redwing blackbirds appear at the ravaged birdfeeder area (raccoons, who have not been spotted around since I quit filling the largest birdfeeder. Which is one story up, or we would be complaining about bears).

Actual birdsong. Sunburn. It's very pleasant. Much of the ground still looks like it has been belt-sanded, but grass is beginning to grow in.

On the minus side, one of our nicer chickens, Joyce, a duckwing, has not been seen for several days. The last time I saw her she was wandering around _alone_, not something she had done often -- I don't know if she and Faith, the rooster, had a falling out or what, although he has been paying a lot of attention to Buffy. And then when I went to let them out of the coop, I found Auk, a rather (what is chicken for 'androgynous'?) gender-unidentified black Cochin rooster, dead on the floor. The Cochin Bantam, Dawn, who was always with him, was sitting next to his body. But she came out and followed the rest of the flock later -- now reduced to Buffy, Ms. Callendar, Dawn, and Faith (the alpha rooster). Doug said Auk had been a bit listless lately, but it would not have been easy to tell.

On Saturday I went to a class on weird knitting things with Lucy Neatby, who has a rep as an interesting teacher. She well deserves it, and she's funny, and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. We did some strange things learning how to make a knitted-on edge, how to do entrelac in garter stitch (or start to learn how,) sweet little equilateral triangles, and some relatively free-form knitting. It was truly appalling to feel my intellect plummet as the day went on; the women who were taking all three days of her have my respect.
Lucy NeatbyLucy Neatby,Lucy Neatby

Then I came home and did quilting-related activities with Sarah, whose blue and brown quilt will be lovely (in a blue and brown way, but the darkness of the brown actually makes it look less like a cloudy winter day than I was worried about) if the blood she is sweating on it doesn't stain too much. Curves are a bhitch, even when you are as good at measuring. So, to relax, she made me a pincushion out of some Japanese charm squares. It looks pre-war (WWII, all right?). It's lovely.
Pincushion by Sarah

To my delight, I apparently took the lessons I learned making an attic window quilt in about 1995, because I haven't had to redo any of the blocks I made so far (or scream, stick a seam ripper in my eye, cry, you know). It may be a testament to successful aging or good medication. Either way, it is GREAT. I was not among the least comprehending of the knitting students, either, which made a change). This quilt will be much smaller than that one, thank God, and it's a gift so no pictures until it's done and given, which we shall have to hope happens before the Apocalypse. It might.

Monday, April 14, 2008

They 1/2 E 10 Z rhododendron

And the fringe tree and the holly and the star magnolia and the arbor vitae and the tree peony and some daffodils and substantial amounts of pitch pine and metasequoia. We shall not be greatly troubled by azalea blossom this year. I have to see if they ate the rosebush I have never liked.
"They" being the deer. It was the second snowiest winter in something like 175 years of record-keeping; it was like no other year of the 15 my plough guy has been ploughing this driveway, in that he ran entirely our of places to put the snow. The first three years I was here I saw perhaps one deer a year, mostly eating fallen apples. It's been multiple deer daily for a couple of months, eating atoms and brambles.

I think many of the chomped shrubs will live, though their actually recovering enough to flower may not happen for a few years. I am taking it remarkably calmly, perhaps because not attracting deer has been such a good excuse for not doing more to terraform the garden area.

The recession of the glaciers here (don't mistake these things -- they may not be a mile thick yet but they are Just Waiting, the great icy baftards) has also revealed a touching sprinkle of failed presidential candidate spoor, Romney and Richardson signs coming up like rather bent snowdrops.

One of the weirdest things has been the persistence of light after dinner, usually a sign that it is time to put off raking and weeding, concurrently with huge piles of dirty ice. Land Comets. They are diminishing gradually.

It was supposed to rain all day Saturday, and Doug had scheduled a fiber day in a warm living room -- he even used the last of the wood to start the first in the the woodstove in a couple of weeks. At first this looked like an excellent call, but by noon it was in the 60's outside and we moved onto the porch, where we got sunburned. I was okay with that. Then I drove to Northampton, MA, basically to hang out with the nearly graduated daughter. They even have swelling lilac buds and fully open daffodils. Now it's sunny and clear and Monday again, for heaven's sake.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Still not spring

As Aragorn might have said in these circumstances.

I had a very pleasant time last weekend. It stopped snowing around noon and I reached Northampton without incident. The ground cover of snow stopped a few miles north of the town. There were still a few piles hidden in the shrubbery but you had to look. Saturday was brilliantly sunny and colder than the whole previous winter, though the thermometer said it was above freezing. We were not.

And yet not one person in the spinning class tried to hurt me and they all learned to spin. One of them, the Dread Pirate Roberts, had learned to spin in junior high, so she remembered very fast and took off.
(Flickr set of needlefelting pics) She also came to the needlefelting the next day, except then she was Ms. Frizell. I find it very relaxing to be among science fiction fans(although figuring out who people are dressed as can be confusing since I haven't watched TV in a while). Several old graduates whom I liked had come back to campus for the convention and it was a delightful time.

After the spinning, we had impromptu needlefelting in the hall for people who needed to leave early the next day. After a while, I went downtown, _freezing_ in the wind, and got a haircut. A bunch of us met for dinner and then we went and sat in Ellie's room with all the lights turned off (it being the hour people were supposed to show their support for the earth).
Sunday I finished my socks, by refusing to put on any socks until I had cast off the ones I was working on. It only took about ten minutes.

knitted socsk

Needlefelting the next day went well too, and it was warmer. I stayed around until dinner time and went home just before dark.

This past week my boss was away. He is taking a sabbatical this May - September and I will have an interesting balance of going mad from loneliness and boredom with the desire to pay my oil bill. Friday it snowed again. The deer are still everywhere, hungry.

Saturday we had enough sun to melt the snow back and reveal snowdrops and crocus

flowers. Sarah came over. Doug went to visit his GF in COncord and Sarah NEEDED to go get 17 more swatches of blue fabric, since she had only come up with a pathetic 35 blues from her personal stash. She has fallen into the teeth of the Quilting Beast (so far I have escaped), so we went shopping. Then
although my house is hideous and guests were coming for dinner, we sat in the sun on the front porch and made like turtles (who knitted and embroidered, but very much into the basking). Afterward Sarah did the Best Friend EVAR thing and tidied the living room while I made food. Food-processor enhanced borscht. Saute onions, potatoes, cabbage, carrots; add shredded beets and water, simmer and then puree it. Serve with yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Amazingly easy and good. We also constructed pizza.
Doug reappeared for dinner, sadly minus the GF, and Cindy and Susan showed up pictures of their horse. It was a good evening. Then veryone but Sarah left and we put out the blues (Sarah had washed, dried, ironed, and cut them in what seemed like no time) and arranged them.

blue color wheel

She brought a lovely book to look at, Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts. The owner of Purl in New York wrote it, which goes to explain the affinity between the shop's logo and the clean light design of the book. Too Much Wool took me there a couple years ago (the entry is January 25, 2006). I had warm feelings for Purl and Too Much Wool and admired the Color Wheel Quilt that has bitten Sarah so badly that she put down all her projects and began a blue and brown version. Turned out to have been made for the book by Too Much Wool's secret identity. I went on turning pages to what turned out to be my favorite project picture in the book, a big multi-yellow randomized strip-pieced warm quilt. There was a closeup. "Holy cow," I said. "Some insane person hand-quilted the whole thing. And did a really lovely job." I read the copy. It was Too Much Wool. Way to go. Where does she get the time?

This morning dawned cloudy and bleak again.No sun-bathing. Sarah and I went in search of the perfect dark brown for her blue color-wheel quilt.
It will be a beautiful quilt, particularly if you like blue and brown together, but in some ways it looked too much like the snow/soaked, dormant vegetation/overcast sky we were driving through. Though we went even unto Keepsake (about an hour's drive from here), we have been forced to retire and work on other projects.

Willow is sitting on my feet and it is a good thing; we are both warmed.