Monday, January 26, 2009

Newbury Medal!

I was rabbitting on about this book on tape I couldn't turn off? It won the Newbury Medal today! Among the reasons Neil Gaiman is so lovable is that his second thought was to remember not to swear like he did when he won the Hugo. He didn't think it would be cute to the children's librarians. says I'm a Cool Nerd God.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get geeky images and jokes, and talk to others on the nerd forum!

So there.

It's cold (was -2 this morning), barely enough snow to insulate the perennials, but warm in the house, at least this part of it. I have now moved the little table out of the kitchenette and moved a couch in. I thought the couch was a loveseat until I saw it outside the living room, when it became obvious that it was at one time a pretty classy thing with brocade upholstery. I was lucky to be able to get it past the refrigerator. Its springs are shot, now, but it's MUCH more comfortable than the floor; now when both the cats are asleep in the sunbeams, I can join them. There are also two chairs, so I will always have a soft option without disturbing Them. They are not getting along very well, but the hole in Marten's back has healed up.

Yesterday Doug, his GFSarah and a mutual friend, Debitage, came over, postponed from last Sunday. Doug is removing the small loom piece by piece from the kitchenette (which, along with the demands of that number of guests, facilitated the insertion of the couch). Last week Debitage and GFSarah missed out on a pineapple upside down cake and a cauliflower cheese pie (with potato crust). This week I offered apricot-pine nut biscotti and Mark Bittman's No-Holds-Barred Fish Chowder. The latter is a fine but bland recipe (onion, bacon, not enough salt, fish, potato, thyme and milk and cream), and I would have used Old Bay Seasoning if I could have found it. Chipotle Tabasco Sauce, however, was wonderful. It took me several minutes to figure out what was missing before I recalled the Tabasco, but the sense of delight and mild burning were perfect.

The Radiance Cable Jacket continues nicely. I had expected to get more done in Boston watching the inauguration, but someone had to look things up on Google ("How old is Aretha Franklin now, anyway?" "Where is YoYo Ma from?") to keep the peace. I could have survived listening to it on the radio in my TV-reduced home, but it was much more festive with other people (the cats DO NOT pay attention to politics, it's hard enough to get them to watch The Middleman) and my parents cared. It did seem as though the country could have made Inauguration Day a public holiday, though, it's only once every four years (usually, thank God). it was strange to leave my parents' apartment, where I had been watching the same thing as many millions of other people, and go outside to feel connected to no one at all.

It was fine as spectacles go, though I saw no actual auguries (if someone messing up the Oath of Office were going to be an omen would it not surely have happened in 2005?). The Obamas are a wonderful-looking family who managed, in what must have been a sleep-deprived, stressed-out coma, to look really happy and healthy, and long may it wave. Here's a link to Garrison Keillor's column, which says it all well.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I have now started the Radiance Cabled Jacket (which I still think of as a sweater) three times. The first time I think I had bewitched (not in a good way, strives to find synonym for buggered) cable pattern by about the second row, and although I had done a gauge swatch and been responsible about my multiplication, a size 48 was something like 64 inches. So I did more math and the second time I pulled it all out (after 7 rows of five panels, I understood the cable pattern, but it had taken some visible fudging and there was an infelicity in the garter stitch border)it measured the same around as the sweater I was wearing. I knit loose.
Anyway, Sarah was here for the snowstorm (8", maybe 19 cm , fluffy) and gave me a good example (and a nicely knitted Flower Basket fichu) so I pulled it all out AGAIN. After she left, I finished listening to the audio of Coraline and started listening to the audio of the Graveyard Book. I have an unwholesome attachment to Neil Gaiman, at least I would if I could. He has a nice voice.

But now I have the garter stitch border and a whole pattern repeat of the jacket and no mistakes, and no desire to do anything else but knit (since I can't get Neil Gaiman into my clutches and offer him fruitcake).

Which is bad.

I thought I was going to have to spend this morning taking Marten to the vet, and that may yet happen. When I left for New Jersey he was in possession of the cat condo Ellie built, which I recently moved into the kitchenette. When I returned it was Willow's, and Marten had a hole in his back. Watching the intensity of the yoga he had to do to lick it would have been fun if I had not felt sorry for him, and my experience with cat bites (Shenzi and Asterix and Pangur....) made me worry he would get an abscess, something I thought would NOT be good that close to his spinal cord. But it's healing nicely today and Marten has been feeling lively enough to knock over the cyclamen (the equal and opposite reaction to a large cat is considerably more than the that to a small cat). If it continues clean I shall be glad. But I shall still have to act like a person and get out of here.

Maybe just half another chapter of the Graveyard Book...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Things are not bad, exactly, right now, and I am not alone in feeling the new year has not brought as much Newness as it might. As Paul told me last week (this would be Friday the 2nd) when I remarked that the radiator pipe bursting in the living room on not even nearly the coldest night so far seemed like bad luck, "No, it's GOOD luck because it's not 16 below and your house won't freeze with the furnace off."

Which is true, of course, and you would be pleased by how little damage a centimeter (2.54") or so of water on the living room floor can do. A few paperbacks were ruined and most of a ream of paper. The floor tilts toward the part of the basement designed for things to drip into, and it did.

A copper pipe with an aneurysm is a strange thing, but there it is. I had just come back to Henniker after a Cultural day in Boston seeing the Assyrian exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art (The Assyrians made really good giant stone strip cartoons with cuneiform captions in small enough fonts they must have expected people to be seeing them quite close up. And they must have expected a fair number of literate viewers, or at least literate tour guides. I was unhappy to see they practiced canned hunting and had 'lion hunts' that began with letting the lions out of a cage). I came in through the kichenette and had a small glass of wine and I was really looking forward to going to bed, when the sound reached me as I walked toward the staircase of running water where no running water should be.

The cats were quite excited and thought the soaking rug was way cool. Marten rolled on it.

I thought it was really nice of Paul, the contractor and plow-guy who sometimes works on my kitchen redo, to come out at 11 pm. and show me the cutoff again, and to fix the radiator the next day. My daughter has suggested killing him, and I can understand that point of view, but it's mean and leads to bad habits* and would not really get the kitchen done.

Anyway, the floor is not ruined and honestly the living room is not much messier. I am not traumatized but I have to admit going up to bed includes a portion of apprehension it never used to. Bad enough with the wolves and burglars under the bed to worry about.

Since then I have returned Toby and the Only Beloved Daughter to New Jersey, which pretty well killed this past week, and I have decided to spend some time working with the easier (if there are any) knotwork cable designs in Viking Knitting, because apparently I cannot do Arwen. I know I have weaknesses (chirality is involved) but I don't seem to be able to read even one damn line without messing up. Maybe Sarah will tutor me. She owes me, because if she had not run out of frog Tree Heather at almost the end of her scarf I would not have stopped at WEBS in Northampton.

My self-control was sapped. Colrain in Navaho Red is very nice. The cable looks easier than Arwen's.

*If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he next comes to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.--Thomas DeQuincey