Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Snow, but with redpolls and wine kits

We had three weeks without snow. It was strange at first, but I became reconciled to it. Marten and I took walks.

Then we had six inches of snow and a couple more and then about eight; it compacts and sublimates (and drifts) so it is not an even coating. But there's a good solid six inches on the driveway and Marten tells me I am on crack when I suggest a nice perambulation.

I have been fortunate enough to attract a second flock of finches; the first was ALL pine siskins, which was quite fine. They are irrupting like mad, apparently. I love them; they are tiny (stare at the smaller finches long enough and hummingbirds seem a little less ridiculous) with amazingly needle-nosed beaks for removing seeds from pine cones.

But I also like Redpolls and Birdchick was taunting me with hers, so it was with added delight that I realized my monochrome (almost) though lovely siskins had been augmented by sparrows dipped in raspberry juice. This is the usual description of a house finch, or maybe a purple finch, but in the gray of winter maybe the respberry juice is half frozen? It was quite startlingly bright. And goldfinches, who are in civvies for the winter, though quite lovely themselves.

There are more squirrels to be seen, red and gray and very tense. I don't blame them, there is a hawk spending a lot of time around. The deer were out during the day last Saturday as well; Sarah spotted four or five through my kitchenette window and there was one, possibly doomed, wandering around on Rt 106. I hope they don't eat my azaleas this year, but I am still struck by the pure, maybe completely ditzed-out, look of inquiry on their faces. None of the pictures I can find seem to show their focus, all ears and eyes... and maybe no analysis of any kind. At least they don't chew gum. I do not expect to like deer as much as I do, since I know there are usually far too many (and not enough wolves). But it is hard not to feel for them this time of year, and they look so polite. You would be amazed how much noise they make when they are in a hurry.

I spent much too much of yesterday putting my Radiance Jacket sleeves into the body. I have to do the non-button band/collar and it will be done. I hope it looks less tatty when blocked. Give me a nice halo-ey worsted to hide any number of flaws, particularly the putting together parts. And this is fundamentally a warmer-weather, slightly dressy sweater. It's never going to be warm enough here. Get real.

So maybe I'll make some Coraline socks (I do not need a blue sweater that will show, I suspect, every bulge of my fat), with holographic thread (this link has some nice Coraline pictures) and duplicate stitched stars instead of appliqueed cloth ones.

My original impulse to blog was related to a wine kit I am making. I have had great success in the past (drinkable) with Vino Vida and not so much with this kind, but I don't know if it's them or me. Twice. A kind of hideous uber-grape flavor. (I am making vinegar, now.) The failure, expensive in both effort and money, has made me inhibited from trying again. But I have had a kit sitting in the corner for two years (and fortunately, a spare sachet of the right yeast) and I decided to give it a shot. This was a more expensive kit, with oak chips and toasted oak powder (re***MARK***ably sludgy) and I mixed it up last week and have been enjoying the change of smell from Welch's to something more sinister. Yesterday I transferred it to the secondary fermenter. It made absolutely no more mess than killing a pig (probably. Definitely less noise. Not that I have killed a pig, really, in or outside). Only I would not have killed a pig in the kitchen.

The carpet needed replacing anyway.

And now, reading farther, I find this fancy-pants wine would like to sit, bottled, for six months or better yet a year before I try it. This will not be a tolerable solution to my need for a low-cost tipple anytime soon, the more since it is at least a month off from getting bottled.

Time to go through the sofa cushions for change and off to Kettle to Keg.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

the loneliness of the monogamist knitter

We have to get a better word. I am not married to my knitting. As such. Even it occasionally screws me over or supports me... no.
Anyway, I have knitted ONLY the Radiance Jacket since January 12 and there is no doubt I am in the home stretch. It's like pulling teeth. I thought getting out of the sleeves and back to the back would help. It hasn't, much. It's still a good pattern; maybe if I hadn't broken the rhythm of the repeat by doing the sleeves... only I would still have had the fiddliness of the fronts. Should have skipped to the back.

I have a little cute bag kit based on the Egyptian sock that I bought from the Spanish Peacock (it's not on his site. Does anyone know of a Carol New?), and a skein of Dream in Color In Vino Veritas and a new (to me) book called Knit One Below.

I want to knit something else.

I want to be Fiscally Responsible. I don't want more of the woolen equivalent of subprime mortgages (mind you, the properties in the Loom Room are fundamentally sound, they just need development...I should not be allowed to visit yarn shop or a fiber festival for about about 8 years). I would like to see a sweater instead of a pile of parts and neatly rolled balls.

I hope I finish soon. I keep zoning out and finding I have been listening to the book on tape (American Gods with my mouth slack and unfocussed eyes, which is fine for listening but my hands are still.

Right. It's not even very many stitches per row.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

now yer talkin

Which creature of the night are you?
Your Result: Demon

Your raging id needs no chemical incentive to break out into a fiery orgy of destruction. When you're not burning, you're brooding. All you need is someone to point the way out for you.

Cthulu Spawn
Which creature of the night are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

My Political Views
I am a left moderate social libertarian
Left: 5.91, Libertarian: 1.54

Political Spectrum Quiz

Of course some might same these say the same thing.

Monday, February 09, 2009


On January 28, I first heard chickadees this year discussing the possibility of getting together over coffee. On January 29, there was a woodpecker drumming. They are all overly hopeful.

However today I saw two squirrels chasing each other, despite having to cross vast stretches of icy tundra where a hawk could nail them. Sex is a fearful thing.

Yesterday it was in the 40's. Perversely, it felt much colder outside than the windless day-before-yesterday in the 20's. Much melting took place; I know this because the snow on my deck is now some 4" below the level of the concrete-filled bucket in which the feeder-tree is planted. Previously about the same amount above it, which made flling the feeders much easier. I gather the raccoons are asleep somewhere, and for whatever reasons any squirrels (gray, all them, so far this year) that come here eat only a meal once in a while and do not plunder or ravage.

The remaining snow on my deck, about a foot, is as dense as the styrofoam protecting computers or stereo components in their shipping boxes; I walk on it without leaving any impression or getting my boots snowy.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Not a moment too soon. I want it to be warm enough to sit on the porch. It isn't. It is warm enough in the sun to enjoy the heat and have little flashes that I think are 'wanting to garden' or 'wanting to do archaeology.'

Marten is getting fat, so he and I are now walking the length of the driveway and back. Two days running, now. He doesn't really like going out of sight of the house. He tried to go snowshoeing with me, but I got out of sight several times (I fell over several times). He was managing to walk onto top of the slightly crusty 2+ feet of snow, but I was not. He, who is practically a silent cat, yowled until I staggered into view and then yowled until we went home.

So we are walking the driveway, which seems fairly flat going down and noticeably uphill going home.

It has not snowed much in probably over a week.

I need a Job.

Meanwhile, I am probably 4/5 done on the sleeves of the Radiance and making progress.

I went to see Coraline on opening night. Other parts of the country (perhaps it was only Portland OR, where the studio that made it is), there were lines and throngs. New Hampshire, while practically perfect in every way, is deficient in fans. The cinema was maybe half full. We liked it, and though it was pretty scary (I am too long out of the game, but I would guess most 8-year olds and up would be fine) at times it was mostly good. The fact that all the things in the movie were three-dimensionally real (pruning shears. Knitted gloves. Snapdragons.)made my miniature-loving self very happy. I wish the museum exhibit would travel closer than Portland.

In fact, I think I would have gone so far and said it was Quite Good if I were not a literary purist. I understand why the director had to add a character (I only understand grudgingly, but for me a movie about a girl talking mostly to herself and a cat would be autobiographical) and most of his other touches. While The Lord of the Rings was coming out and all of us Faramir (and Sam) fans were spitting nickels and even larger denominations, I decided it was like different versions of big oral-tradition epics, where it would make perfect sense for different places to have slightly different versions (like ones of the King Arthur cycle where Lancelot got put in, or the Grail). Even Star Trek has various canons (not going there unless you ask, while offering alcohol). So I manage not to be haughty about all the places it varied from the book, or not too haughty, and I enjoyed the movie (except for one gratuitous kick at the cat). The 3-D was excellent. I had never seen any 3-D movies before; mind you, I didn't notice that ViewMasters were supposed to be 3-D until I was about 15. But the hummingbirds and the dancing mice and all of the credits were lovely.

Since I am internet-stalking Neil Gaiman (no more than about twenty thousand others with me, and apparently no one is ruining his life IRL, so I guess we are all well behaved) the movie finally coming out was a big deal. His blog and that of his assistant, Lorraine, and the craft and design blogs have all been following Coraline-movie a fair amount. Then Neil Gaiman won the Newbury Medal in the middle of the movie tour and I practically had to sit and fan myself following him and Lorraine around their preparations. Lorraine also has a number of cats, and NG has a Dog, and the Birdchick is their beekeeper, so there is quite a bit to follow. They live in Minnesota where it is even colder then here. Coraline in the book lives somewhere indeterminate, probably England, where it rains and is misty, but at one point the sun comes out and she stares at beauty of the cat's fur in the light, just as I have been noticing Willow's.

Enough with the winter.