Thursday, December 30, 2010

What I sent out with the very few cards I send out

Any year you walk away from is a good one, right? 2010 has been excellent.

I still have no job and am still getting by. I know unemployment is not uncommon and not something I should be desperately ashamed of, so picture me whistling nonchalantly. So very many people are NOT getting by that I am aware I am in really good shape. Enough about that.

Last year at this time,
A) Doug the housemate had moved back in after breaking up with a sweetie in Concord.

B) I had Marten, Willow, and Nigel in order of size and seniority, all cats.

C) I had the contractor’s extra possessions and his daughter in my house. (The kitchen is finished and works very well).

D) I had not touched beads in several years.

I visited New York with my parents (they gave me the only good mattress, the quiet room, and trips to the museums); I went to Boskone (a science fiction convention, good for me to be with My Kind); and my aunt graciously sent me to the dig in Texas, where there was snow. This year we are supposed to be going to Texas in May, which means probably no snow, but we get fire ants. Would prefer snow, but since May brings wildflowers to the Texas Hill country, it evens out.

I taught spinning and needlefelting at the Smith science fiction convention for possibly the fifth year in a row.

Doug reconnected with a friend from high school (in Pleistocene, Connecticut). Barb is a visiting nurse (in Trumbull, CT) and engaged to be married next March. They are not planning to live together until one of them retires. Since he is the World’s Best Housemate, I am hoping they both stay working for a long time.

We had a mild winter here, and I was able to work for MONEY!!! on a paleoindian dig in Keene. It was a lovely dig and we had baby woodchucks and a fair number of finds (mostly scrapers). They used the same suite of tool-stone as the people in Northern NH and in Quebec and it was pleasant to think of them as being related. There weren’t very many people here then, so they probably were. But Then lasted about a thousand years, we can’t know if any of sites was in use at the same time as the others.

Doug persuaded me to buy a truckload of topsoil, as the house is built on what a sensible science fiction fan would recognize as regolith: more or less ground-up bedrock. You cannot actually dig here, you pick at it. I bought a raised bed from Gardener’s Supply and spent the year being amazed and gratified. Not that I weeded anything again until Mid-July. We also had very hot, dry weather; but despite several kinds of neglect we harvested onions and tomatoes and parsley. Buying topsoil felt like a cop-out, but it made a HUGE difference. My compost heap was full of black gold, but I don’t produce enough organic refuse to jumpstart more than a meter or so.

Around the same time it was decided that the summer NH state archaeology field school would camp in my front yard and cook in my kitchen. People kept asking if I wasn’t afraid of the invasion, but I pointed out that the person in charge of people cooking (Heather) is obsessive about clutter and the place would be the tidier for it, and indeed, that was the case. Thanks to Sarah, Doug, and Heather, possibly the best friends EVER, we took all of Paul the contractor’s stuff to the swap shop.. And I got an empty uninsulated but glassed-in porch. There has been a pile of boxes in there since I moved into this house (hangs head in shame). There is now a smaller pile of boxes to one side of the front room (hangs head in shame), but sometimes I throw things away. My dream of getting like into the same room as like is closer to fruition and I can still walk around. Heather got all funny about the number of boxes of fleece, yarn, and beads she kept coming upon and in defense and gratitude I made her a necklace, and another for the digger who detail-cleaned my car. After the dig I reorganized my beads (perhaps I do have too many... nah) and was beading away nicely till the end of October, when Fear of Christmas came upon me and I had to knit and embroider. Almost done with that.

Having the dig in the front yard (and constantly cleaning the kitchen) was like having a party for a month. It was great. Doug put up two outdoor showers (I have an outdoor hot water spigot, or this would not have been a friendly gesture) and took empty bottles to the recycling center constantly. I taught about six people to spin and refined my teaching technique. Sarah came and did an indigo demonstration. The crew were lovely people, good diggers, hard workers. and I missed them when they left. They cooked, they cleaned and organized, they put pavers onto my sand-courtyard! If only the archaeology part of it had found anything at any of the various nice places we tried. All of them were places we thought someone would have wanted to live, but apparently not.

It was also the hottest season’s digging I can remember. No one passed out. We drank a lot of water. It is worth mentioning that those dryer sheets that don’t smell anything like Woodland Fresh DO keep horseflies away. People wearing them in their hats look silly, but much less so than when flaiing at horseflies.

The next week Dick took a few of us to a place in Jefferson NH, where someone wants to build a house. In two days we found more than we had the previous four weeks, and we know where the 2011 field school will be. Sadly, it is too far to have the base camp here again.

My house and my car are still definitely tidier than they were before field school.

The only sad note was that Nigel either took off or was eaten by something. I hope he found another human family, because he was a lovely cat, but Marten HATED him and spent a lot of time beating him up. Nigel had been coming home for shorter times with longer intervals away for a month or so, and stopped appearing at all during field school.

After the archaeological digging was over, I worked on the garden and began to double dig a long south-facing patch in front of a stone wall. I have high hopes for next year, at least until the deer find me. This patch has the great advantage of being visible from my bedroom, so I am more likely to maintain it than several other places I have tried to terraform. Gardening also put me in closer touch with the toads, leopardfrogs, and gray tree frogs I share the land with. We were also delighted to see spotted salamanders mating in the tiny frog pond, and the phoebes made nests on the back porch once again. I was also delighted by the presence of indigo buntings (at least two pairs), hairy and downy and pileated woodpeckers, both kinds of nuthatches, cardinals, bluejays, evening and rose-breasted grosbeaks, woodthrushes and veeries and I think Cooper’s Hawks. And bats. I love it here.

Katie the contractor’s daughter moved out in late August. We are working on getting her stuff out of that room.

The leaves began to turn in early August, probably because of the heat and the lack of rain, and the autumn was shorter than usual. No snow until just before Christmas, and nothing much until the last Sunday of the year, when we got a foot, with high winds.

In mid-October Sarah fixed us up with two charming kittens who had wandered into a friend’s garage just ahead of a fox. We named them Mal and Wash (after Firefly)They are now about 5 months old, now free of parasites except for the poltergeists. Marten is at least sort of friendly to them (they play together), although his catnip use has increased. Willow is becoming a little less horrified by them. They make Doug and me laugh a great deal. They have not climbed the Christmas tree.

I wish you all as much happiness and health as I and my friends and my family have been having.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

raining, kittens, and the technological sublime in KindleSpace

It's raining again. I am glad we did not have the extreme fun they had yesterday in the Midwest, but I am also tired of rain.


It's like November but not as cold and with more colored leaves, still hanging on. Yesterday it went up to 67 F and was sticky-hot and I had to turn on the fans.

I think this is a metaphor for how I feel, which varies among 'old, ill, ugly, fat, and doomed,[my God, you can get Pamela Branch again!]' 'stale, flat, and unprofitable,' and 'nasty, poor, brutish, and short.'

We shall not speak of that. There is tea, and downstairs there are kittens. Sarah is nothing but a dirty rotten kitten enabler, although I am standing absolutely firm that they are Doug's kittens (apparently by some unknown mother, poor creature). He is footing the not insubstantial vet's bills. The kittens wandered into the garage of Sarah's former office-manager's sister-in-law. Sarah's former office-manager and her husband picked them up (before the fox that was apparently following them, into the garage), fed them, and mostly defleaed them (warm water and Dawn Dishwashing Liquid). They are both male and were born probably around the end of July, so they are now about 3 months old. We named them Mal and Wash.


They are light-hearted, incredibly limber, happy to see us, affectionate to one another, and would like to be friends with Marten and Willow. Marten hisses and swats, though he will sometimes share the same room with them, and Willow just hisses and runs away.

The older cats are morose (though Willow is still in the amazingly limber class), under a cloud from being such (insert words) to Nigel, and only occasionally interested in people. I would like to tell them I love them just as much. Then Willow brings me another dead bird and I fall back on trying to be just and kind and faithful. Sometimes the older cats are jerks.

I had a great idea to be a Day of the Dead cheerful skeleton for Halloween, and I managed to save the sweatpants from the initial try--freehand, with fabric paint. Maybe next year. My dreams are too grandiose. I want sequins and puff paint and merriment.

I have a fall-back costume that I hope will come to fruition.

What I originally came on to blog about was the amazing stuff you can get free from the Kindle books.YOU DO NOT NEED TO GET A KINDLE.

I am lukewarm about reading them on my computer -- I am happy to get my newspapers on my Mac Laptop, but once I started reading on my tiny iPod Touch I was amazed to find myself hooked. I thought I would hate it. But it's not bad. I don't get eyestrain and I can hold it and turn pages in one hand. No more problems with the page-turning while I'm flossing my teeth.

Jules Verne, Jane Austen, Balzac, Kipling, E. Nesbit, apparently the first hundred years of Punch (which I would like someone else to read and base thereon an amusing steampunky fantasy series with witty people). Mark Twain, Andrew Lang's colored Fairy Tales, Gibbon... enough to do odd things to your style but wow!

YOU DO NOT NEED TO GET A KINDLE. All you need to do is go to the Amazon Search-> Kindle Store -> and put in the author's name.

All kinds of great stuff, and some recent things the publishers are promoting or perhaps making some kind of error on: I got Richard Kadrey's _Sandman Slim_ for free, and sometimes there's Neil Gaiman. There is an RSS feed for top free sellers. At the moment Diana Gabaldon's first Outlander book is there.

At least the free books mitigate some of the instant gratification damage you can do online otherwise.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Trendy design Nerd 1 -- The Stainless Steel Sharpie

Yeah, I gather some people have lives too complex to spend coolhunting the Internet. Some of the rest read NOTCOT, which is a lovely site but has TOO MUCH. I may not have a life but I like to eat at least once a day, maybe wash, you know? There are many other fine blogs and sites conglmerating nifty stuff. Thinkgeek will sell them to you for a mostly reasonable price. But once in a while I find myself the envy of my friends and then I shall pass the word on.

Such a product is the Stainless Steel Sharpie ( is down, or I would have linked there).

I found out they existed because way-cool science fiction writer William Gibson (who ought to be made out of bulletproof nylon and brushed titanium, but who seems to be rather a sweet guy) had a new book come out and one of his fans gave him a stainless steel Sharpie. He tweeted about it. I figured that if he liked his, it was cool enough for Dick the archaeologist.

I hope they will make it in 'ultra fine', which is what most people would call 'normal.' SCRAP uses the ultra-fine on artifact bag tags and the allegedly 'fine' (which is kind of bold) for marking other stuff. For the moment, Dick's image as a frighteningly au courant executive is secure.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Less hot, thank heaven

I have been reproved once again about the blogging. Will try to do better. Unexamined life has lots of toast in it. Pretty good, really.

House: Parts of it are still clean.My car, which one of my digging guests detail-tidied for me, is still clean. Even my Tupperware cabinet is still organized. I had a shot at my bedroom and the bathroom up there. The bathroom is much better, but the bedroom has devolved into chaos again.

People and cats in house: Nigel has not been seen since the second week of field school. I miss him, as he was the light-hearted one. I hope and hope and hope he has found another family rather than become part of someone else's biomass; he was showing up less and less often because Marten as beating him up all the time. Hard. Marten and Willow are fine, except she is too thin and he is too fat. They are sweetly sycophantic and wish I went outside more.

Katie the teenager has moved into Concord. I hope she is well; unlike Nigel, she Facebooks sometimes,but she has left a quantity of junk in the other upstairs bedroom. She knows what happens to abandoned property here, but I suspect she is waiting for 'life to calm down a little.' I tried to tell her life didn't usually get any calmer.

Doug is still here, and an excellent tenant and good friend. He is getting married in March but says he and Barbara will not be living together for at least three or four years, when one of them retires. There are all kinds of things that many of us have said, but whatever.

I am still here (and more like Marten than Willow). My health is decent and I need a job, etc. We won't discuss that.

The forty-foot garden is almost half done. I became severely sidetracked looking for 'before' pictures and have so far had no luck. Digging it involves sifting the excellent driveway gravel out of what appears to be a construction trench (we are running along the edge of where the garage was until it burned down in 2001)(well before my time)dumping in the imported loam (of which I still have a lot left; it's wonderful) and mixing some of the sifted mostly-sand back in. It goes slowly, since it goes so much faster when Doug and I work on it at the same time and he persists in having a life.

I have been doing beads.

Photobucket. I am working through this and this. More as it developes.

Monday, August 09, 2010



Field school was a fine time. We found almost nothing in several different places. The people were hardworking, charming, friendly, I wanted to keep them around for another month. Since then some of us did a four-day, very humid dig in Jefferson, NH. Sometimes it rained there, but we were dry. We found several more flakes and so forth in four days than we had in the previous four weeks. I don't know why the paleopeople were so shy of camping in central NH. I think they probably were here, since they were in the north and the south of the state, and I hope we find them sometime.

Soil colors
This is my favorite picture from field school. We record the soil colors to record the different layers, either from geology or human activity. Geology, in this case.

Effects of field school: I taught about seven people to spin (spindle) and I made a change in the way I teach them. Now I am all about learning to draft first, and it seems to be a very successful method. Justin and several other people particularly Luke were bored and put bricks in my courtyard patio. It worked very well. Colin, who put himself through two years of college making chainmail garments and jewelry and trifles, was at a loose end watching people spin so I gave him a pair of pliers and a small sack of rings, and he made me a fab Inca Puno bracelet. Heather, while helping tidy my house, made several acid comments about people who have too many beads, so I made her a necklace. All these have made me more interested in spinning and beading and chainmail again. I wish I had gotten the picture of the six people spinning, and also one of the tents in my front yard. (thanks, Jessie!)

Although I was indeed home, I ignored my garden and had to do amazing weeding. The cilantro just bolted from the moment it was planted. I have a modest, proof-of-concept onion harvest, and the strawberries and the asparagus now that they are finally mulched are looking quite hopeful for next year. Not only did the Sungold tomato plant flourish, but the volunteer tomato I let survive among the cilantro stalks has also turned out to be a Sungold. They are little yellow cherry tomatoes that taste amazing, and apparently reproduce truly from seed. The Romas are tiny, dry, dropping, and afflicted with blossom end rot. It's from insufficient watering and not enough calcium, so I will concentrate the eggshells in the tomato-proposed patch for next year and try to do better on the watering. The other two varieties are developing slowly but well enough, The Cherokee Purple is an unsettling color but tastes fine.

I am very pleased with my plastic raised bed from Gardener's Supply. I bought the metal corners several years ago and have been trying to find locally available cedar planks ever since. I finally gave in and bought rough-sawn hemlock planks, which needed the stroke of Doug's loving circular saw to fit in the slots (light dawns: that's what rough-sawn means. I knew that). I am inclined to prefer wood to plastic, but the plastic one was so easy.

Right now I am trying to make another set of flowerbeds (and I will certainly grow vegetables in them, too) against a stone wall near the site of the vanished garage (burned before I ever saw this place. Left a big concrete pad where I could cook eggs on a sunny day). This involves digging, sifting the driveway gravel that has migrated there out of the mostly sand, adding soil from the big pile, and stirring the sand back in. It is not all that hard but it is very hot work and today, for instance, I could feel the wavy infra-red lines rising from the ground as I walked. So I am decided not to try until the sun is off that part of the yard, around five. I will be able to see this bed from the house, which should be an incentive to finish and maintain it.

The raised beds with real, bought-in SOIL (as opposed to the naturally-occurring glacial clay and crap common to bulldozed eskers) has made a huge difference, like I can enjoy gardening and things actually grow (besides the well-adapted raspberry-like thing that catches your ankle and lacerates your hands, Oriental Bittersweet, and crabgrass).

And I need work, but when's well over 80 F it's hard to want to be digging and I have no confidence of finding anything else and blah, blah, blah. I am bored with being depressed; it's better than it has often been but I want a lot of things I don't have and which are not for sale, anyway, although Sungold tomatoes are a great comfort. Here's another one:

Gray Treefrog.

I had already decided to leave the patch of raspberries behond the asparagus patch, but this was another good reason.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

To begin with

Camp Jefferson is in session. Heather got the last things out of the glassed-in porch (hereafter The Mess Hall) and vacuumed it on Sunday morning. It stopped raining finally Saturday evening so Doug was able to cut the grass; he finished the showers about 4:25 in the afternoon, while people were pitching their tents. I was still stressing out so I made food. But everyone (there are 14 tents and a VW MicroBus and a camper) has been really really nice and terribly responsible about not wearing their digging boots in the house.

The cats are not in favor. Even this weekend, with the body count down to single digit, they won't come out on the porch and be cooed at. Only the very patient are vouchsafed a vision, or I should say a tactile: Kaitlyn from a couple of years ago got to rub Willow's ears for a long time.

The first week of field school they found almost nothing, but their morale is still good and apparently they are good at the shovel test-pits. Next week we will be going to a state forest where George believes there is good reason to hope they will actually find something.

The pronouns are confused because I am not sure who They are and who We are: several SCRAP people have been digging at the site in Keene, which is a contract operation. I did some STP's there in April and helped find the kind of flakes that define Paleo sites in New Hampshire. Then the Phase Three began and we had four units (open square meters connected to other open square meters). I dug there for four weeks and at various times worried that my arms would fall off. Sometimes just from the elbows down, sometimes not. My frozen shoulder became all better but has gone a bit backward, but I am able to do my own pony tail again.

The excavation at the site to be known (to generations of Paleo wonks to come) as Tenant Swamp. I found a few tools, but none of tasty scrapers nearly everyone else did (whine, whine). Although I did find possibly the first biface on the site. It was made out of the worst grade of rhyolite we'd ever seen. But there were pretty things around, almost all of them scrapers rather than points.

The soil was so thin that the trees had trouble holding on in a stiff wind, so some of them were canted backward or forward. See the link at 'I love this place.')As they grew after these events, they corrected their slant, producing some lovely curves (sometimes more than one in a given tree).

There were also four or five baby woodchucks, BrownCreepers and Red-Breasted Nuthatches feeding their young, a bunch of other birds mostly in the aural background except for a White-Crowned Sparrow with attitude, open white pine forest, relatively few bugs,easy-sifting dry sandy soil, and generally really friendly decent construction guys. It was an idyllic location, not harmed by some unusually cool weather.

I love this place
. Soon it will be part of a new middle school. We felt better that it was not to be a Wal-Mart. They say they are not going to affect the swamp itself (right, because playing fields are so environmentally neutral). We doubt that we got all the individual hotspots (which may possibly mark the places where people were tenting (or whatever kind of small shelters they used); four meter-hotspots on an eight-meter grid, what do you think the odds of hitting them are? I know this is a very decent habitat. We found some evidence of drinking in the '80's but nothing to indicate anyone lived here any other time. I imagine there are ghosts of illicit beers and lost virginities here, and it would have been a fine place for either. The soil is very thin and the tall trees have amusing bends in their trunks from different episodes of nearly being toppled by wind and then pulling themselves more strongly into the soil, like people trying to walk and balance things on their heads.

I wish I were religious enough to think that loving and trying to see and appreciate a place makes any cosmic difference after it's gone. The huge tree I worked under most of the time was about 75 years old (I counted the rings, but there was too much sap on the outer couple inches to see clearly). If the site is a twelve-meter strip, that tree was 3/4 of a centimeter. How long will the school last? (Here's a link to make you smack your forehead, not exactly an answer, though.)It seems harder to see a place built on and blotted out that has been left alone for so very long. The woodchucks are on the swamp-facing slope, so they have an excellent chance of getting away and starting decent woodchuck lives*; they are about half-size, now.

* I know, ravaging your vegetable garden and eating your petunias for fun.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bloop. Glug.

So one puts in some tiles around the firepit (now I have to sink the rest of the second ring around, which seems to have a 6:4 ratio to the first; if the first ring was 24, the second will be 36, and the next 54; it's getting expensive) and there are dandelions everywhere. Time to make dandelion wine! So I picked them and spent a day trimming off the green part (it is said to make the wine bitter) and the VERY NEXT DAY there were just as many dandelions. I picked them again. This time I trimmed about half of them (we had a spell of 80+ degree heat and everything was too hard) and found that I could just pull the yellow off the blossom after the flowers had spent another day sitting in the measuring cup. Much faster and less fiddly than using a knife. And the next day... there were even more dandelions. I made a third batch and that is enough, even though I have now drunk the last of the 2008 batch, and 2009 is waiting for me to bottle it. I have now actually removed (in bottles) about half of the gallons of wine-on-the-way occluding that corner of the counter, and the three freshly added gallons of dandelion '10 are gurgling away. I am supposed to bottle them after 6 months, not 18.

My father decided he did not want to drink commercial root beer, as he is unhappy about drinking corn syrup. I got a book. We had all this black or sweet birch that Sarah was kind enough to cut down and then cut up (out of the driveway, and the twigs into 2" lengths). I boiled about a gallon of twigs in about one and a half times the same amount of water almost swooned form the smell. It smells much nicer than wintergreen, to me, and adding sugar to it made it delicious. I wanted to drink it all. But I added more sugar (my dad has a sweeter palate than I do, and carbonated needs more strength of flavor than still) and then a tiny amount of yeast, stirred it all up and capped the bottles. 48 hours at room temperature is MORE than long enough to carbonate the bottles. I put them into the refrigerator -- since one is not using the yeast to make alcohol, just fizz, you want the fermentation to stop before the yeast eats all the sugar--and waited a day. It's not bad. I used bread yeast, but I may try ale yeast and see if it leaves less of yeasty niff. In any case, I shall try to make an extract so my dad can mix it with soda water, since explosive bottles are scary things to drive to Boston.

Sarah is trying to get me sassfras bark. In immoderation it's not terribly good for you either, but it's supposed to be closer to the taste of root beer than the birch. I have never been able to make much difference between root beer and birch beer anyway. But it was very cool to boil twigs and make something that smelled that good.

If anyone needs a kombucha mother, let me know. I was reading this and had a failure of making my own vinegar (I think the problem was the same reason the wine was so bad; I had not fermented it enough to make a decent amount of alcohol, so there wasn't much for the vinegar process to work on. Then on a whim I bought kombucha drink at the co-op and found it a) delicious and b) exactly like drinking really nice vinegar. So I got a kombucha mother and have been fermenting sweet tea. If you like tasty sour, try it. I've been mixing it half and half with fruit juice. It's fizzy and delicious and very easy. I don't know if it will save my life or cure cancer or anything (I hope I don't need that anytime soon) but live fermentations are pretty much a good thing for the body, it has practically speaking no alcohol, and it tastes great. And wow can it build up ahead of steam in its bottle.

So the floor here is sticky and Doug keeps mopping it.

I have been working on a decent vegetable bed, one to contain actual soil, in the sense of organic matter rather than variations on rocks left behind by the glaciers. I have not finished the second one yet. Filling the first one (half about 12" deep and half maybe 16"), with a mixture of imported loam, the sifted and de-rocked native crap, and the contents of five years' worth of haphazard compost-heaping (black gold, it was amazing) was a lot of work. I hope I get some results. I think it would make me happy, if I were a plant. In the pretty cool raised bed thing I got from Gardener's Supply, I planted soybean 'Envy' for edamame, some cilantro seedlings, some basil seedlings, some cilantro seeds, and some garlic and onion sets today. When I find the right tomato plants, I will get them, but the NH frost-free date is not for another week and it has actually been quite cold. So no hurry. The raised bed thing is dark green polypropylene and has nothing the can be put together backwards or upside down, which meant even I found it pretty delightful. I can see one spear of the asparagus I planted coming up. It never rains any more. I use leaky hose.

The salamander tadpoles seem to be developing, slowly, in their eggs; the leopard frog tadpoles look like they will be sprouting legs any minute. There are blackflies, though not all the time; the same with mosquitoes. But I can also hear the wood thrush and yesterday the hummingbirds arrived.

Friday, April 30, 2010

That went fast...

April, I mean. It snowed most of the day Wednesday, but did not stick much here. Today was in the 70's. It's hard to feel secure or put away one's Polarfleece nightwear.
I got paid for digging more days than not in the past three weeks. I found some flakes in one place and really a lot of nice agricultural dirt in another (behind a Big Ugly Damn brewery, which made me insane with scents of hops and malt... smelled better than the beer ever tastes). I hope there will be more digging. It's fun, painful, enjoyable, great exercise (I think working in archaeology to get in shape for field school is supposed to be backwards, but we all know where my heart is) and they send me checks in the mail, with which I buy mulch and few, a very few perennials, honest.
Briefly in better shape, I dug a garden bed last Sunday and started another one yesterday, and Doug and his girlfriend Barb finished sifting the one I was trying to rehab, and I moved some plants around. Pictures when it's mulched.
While putting off working on the second flowerbed I weeded the other neglected bed on the far side of the front steps. It now looks like someone went over it with a particularly nasty herbicide, but it was just me. Pictures when it's mulched and has some live plants in it.
And in the courtyard, I have been setting patio tiles a few at a time, buying them a few at a time (along with mulch, which I need more of both). When I bought the house there was a decrepit aboveground pool. I removed it, and there was a lovely 17' circle of deep sand. It's had a firepit thing in the center for a few years now. Pictures sometime, perhaps.

Have I mentioned that the archaeology field school is going to be based here in June and July? Twenty people camping in my front yard? Heather will be here or there is no possible way I would have agreed. But where she decrees order, there WILL be order, and I am trying to prepare the way for her.

This means there is some point in having a garden, as I will be here to water it. And to making the whole place look less like an abandoned building. Doug persists in having a social life, which cuts into my exploiting him, but he assures me he will cut the grass and hep me generally clear areas inside and out. As Paul the contractor left a lot of his stuff here, most importantly where I hope people will be able to eat (the glassed-in porch area) I have agita and am trying to get people to take it away. It's wrong to throw other people's stuff away. And yet it's also wrong to dump at someone else's house and disappear. I think I would rather have a problem from expecting people to be responsible human beings than a problem from expecting them to be schnorrers. But mostly I want people to be tidy and rational and bring me nice things to eat. It's good to dream.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Amphibians do it vernally

It has, as I may have mentioned, been raining a lot. Finally, it got sunny on Holy Thursday and hotter than hell on Easter Saturday, when my parents came up to help tidy a garden or so. One way and another, we ended up trying to repair 18 months of neglect (I didn't garden last year, at all) in the heat of the day. My father, who is a bit like me only not as fat or menopausal, and I just about had heatstroke and crawled off to die. My mother, who is a lizard, kept trying to rally the troops until she got tired. They left and as the sun set gently to one side I started shovel-and-sifting the former mint-and-oregano bed, which last year went to more grass than usual and the delphinium died no reason after 4 years of apparent happiness.

Anyway, more digging needs to be done. I also received a big pile of loam, probably ripped off from somewhere full of endangered species (although it had no apparent human body parts, as sometimes happens. Honest). I have tried to use the soil around my house, but the fact is, my house-lot was bulldozed into an esker and I don't have much soil. And Enthusiasm is thinner on the ground than it used to be, so I will do doubtful things in pursuit of my own tomatoes. If Gardeners Supply would send my damned raised bed kit and Doug would ever stay home and be exploited I could get more done. I have been working, mostly driving around from one elementary school to another, which cuts into my spare time.

So today, after I drove for about five hours, I was pulled over to be told nicely that I had forgotten to get this year's license tags when I got it inspected. I know one year I got the tags and forgot to get it inspected. At least I was not speeding. Nor was the policeman upset when I explained that I hadn't seen my license since I was carded in Massachusetts at Conbust. It could have been worse. But I was not terribly happy. It is an expensive ticket.
But I was happier whenSarah called after an intense board meeting to say she would be coming over with wine. I made macaroni and cheese, and Sarah ad Doug and I watched last night's Castle. Afterward, Sarah wondered if either of us would go for a walk and look for salamanders even though it wasn't wet enough. It had rained all day in southeastern Vermont, and it was drizzling here on and off. It was largely off when we left.
Halfway down the driveway, we came across a spotted salamander and Sarah proclaimed her night made, possibly her year. We ended up seeing four spotted salamanders, 13 red-backed salamanders, four Eastern red-spotted newts, 16 peepers, and a wood frog.
Then I said, before we went inside, we might as well look at my little pond in the back yard. Where there were at least seven spotted salamanders Doing It, several wood frogs in compromising positions, and a newt looking for action (I assume). It was very fine. We were all pleased. Doug was proud that he had dug the littler pond by hand (about 3 square feet, as opposed to the maybe 9 square feet of the one we tried to make with a tractor) and I was still delighted, as I am every time I see anything swimming around (except for the mosquito wigglers. Who are already out there, too). There was already a ball of someone's spawn there from a couple of days ago; I hope that some of these unions bear fruit. And eat mosquitoes and perhaps blackflies.

I hope you can reach the pictures, which are in Sarah's Facebook album.

I tend to think Big Night was a couple of days ago, when it was raining hard and Doug swore it was over 50 degrees. But there was evidently some action left. Last year I noted it as being April 3. It was a fine time and the only casualties we noticed were two unlucky peepers. I am lucky to have frogs and people who make me go out and enjoy them.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Today's fiber is by Manic Panic

PhotobucketMy hair is blue again. It was in honor of Conbust, where I also forgot to wear my Coraline shoes. It was MUCH bluer than last time, probably because I left it on too long, and has only now calmed down to a sedate, lifelike blue that doesn't make me look too pale. About the time I dyed it I read a remembrance of Andy Hallett, who was green on _Angel_, that recalled him standing in a parking lot in full makeup asking people if they had 'a problem with visible minorities.'

This stuck in my mind. I am still definitely an older chunky white woman, but the blue hair sends a signal. It made the body language of people in the Conbust parking lot just visibly relax ('she's not someone's mother causing trouble, she's going to the con,' I assume). Teenagers hanging out in front of the Twilight display at Borders, a Gothy proprietor at the local sex toy emporium, some perfectly normal-looking women my age, and a bunch of elementary school students all wanted to say they loved my hair. I was really touched by the elementary school students (one of whom asked if it was my real color). They were so short, and so polite.

Maybe blue hair is liking having a puppy; anyone can talk to you about it. I like it. It's good to show some of the weird on the outside and this only threatens a few people. Who were already right to be frightened of me. I'm still not nicer.

Friday, April 02, 2010


It doesn't seem to be raining. And indeed, it did not rain yesterday.

I got home from Texas. The following Monday I began working at a non-profit where Linda works, helping get out the spring mailing. They do woodcrafts and adventure camping and wilderness expeditions for kids and their hearts are in the right place. I cannot say the same about their mailing list. So I have been working there several days a week. It is 30 miles (Concord is about 20) from here, driving through not very much, some of which has rivers and creeks. They have been very excited lately, and every time they start to recede, it rains again. I have been spared any flooding, though Dick's wife tweeted about the difficulty of explaining to a house-guest why he could not flush the toilet: the septic field was flooded.

As always, I loved spending two weeks digging, with people I love dearly or at least like and don't have to feel too weird around. The weird only came up when I asked if anyone else there read XKCD and no one, not the high school-students, not the techier grownups, had any idea what I was talking about. Making an archaeological version of the BoomDeYada song was out. I felt the Digital Divide almost as keenly as I did a couple weeks later when I tried to explain to the NHAS webmaster why it might be worth having an RSS feed and the rest of the board listened with indulgent uninterest. My head exploded (if you're reading this on a blogreader, you know what RSS feeds are. If not, why not read the nice explanation here? RSS Feeds? A Feedreader?! (about a third down, middle column)).

Conbust: Last week I drove to work (45 min), and from there to Brattleboro (45 min), picked up the order from the printer's, and back to work (45 min). Then I drove to Saxton's River, Vt. (theoretically 45 min, but more like an hour and 15 when you take the wrong turn toward Cambridgeport (and why is there a Cambridgeport in western VT? I thought I left it in MA)).
In Saxton's River I met with Tom Diak, formerly half of Grafton Fibers but now the woodmaster of DyakCraft. I collected a flock of a dozen Cheap Sheep spindles and a FiberShip spindle (spaceship variation; Tom thought I needed it as I was going to a science fiction convention. The evil thing forced me to buy alpaca. It's very happy now).
Then I drove (a bit over an hour and a half) to WEBS, umm, Northampton, but since Linda Diak Does not deal out of Tom's wood-turning shop, I needed fiber. Never mind that I would never have wasted a gram of Linda Diak's delicious colors on beginners and I really needed generic Romney. I behaved fairly well and only bought Cat Bordi's latest and an ounce of alpaca and some markers (and a lot of Romney). Around now I realized that for the second year in a row I had forgotten to bring the sponge thing into which one needlefelts. Since I was teaching a needlefelting workshop, this was not good. I could not face driving to Hadley (30+ minutes) and decided to stop at the con on my way to Grace and Debbie's, which was PERFECT and very heartening (EVERYONE there reads XKCD). My workshop was either on Sunday or Saturday at 4 pm, which meant I could go to Grace and Debbie's (7 mins) and crash.

My spinning workshop had five students, which was perfect. Then I drove to Hadley, got foam after I located the well-hidden Joanne's, picked up some food, and bought seeds at the lovely garden center (2.5 hours, including asking for directions twice). Back at the con, I took a friend's naalbinding class. She was trying to teach the York stitch to about ten people, including at least one with a learning disability. Without diagrams or teaching assistants. I'll learn it sometime.

I persuaded the nice woman knitting in a corner of the corridor floor that she could sit in the room we were using for the crafts track and it would have chairs and a light. It was her first con and she had not learned how to live at cons (An it harm none, do what ye will, where 'harm none' implies 'not vandalizing the elevators') . The needlefelting workshop went very well; it is possible to have idle conversation while needlefelting, which is not true of Beginning Spindle. The knitting woman, Kate, watched us needlefelt and ended up paying the materials fee and going off with a set of needles, sponge, and colored roving, and I think we all enjoyed it. Objects varied from an elephant plaque to a Sith Lord sigil and a Hebrew sign indicating the direction of the Temple Wall. Everyone can needle-felt. My former neighbor Cindy appeared, too. It was a fine time, and in Northampton, sunny.

I spent Sunday (raining) hanging around with Grace and Debbie, made them some artisan-bread-in-5-minutes-a-day (it gets very flat if the second rising (40 minutes) lasts for four or five hours. But still tasty). While we were in town, I ran into Robin, the SheepThriller I last saw at Birka Market. She had Kate from yesterday with her, because there are only four or five people in Northampton and of course they know one another. I left for home around 7 pm. I was listening to a Patrick O'Brian book-on-iPod and overshot the Vermont exit, so went home the way I had come via Bellows Falls. When it is dark it is not very well signposted, so a 98-mile trip took 130, and about two and half hours instead of one and half.

And then next day I drove to work (raining), and back, also on Tuesday (raining), when I had to race home to get Katie and take her to work as her car had collapsed, and on Wednesday I went to Concord (raining), and yesterday I went to seven of 17 public schools in Manchester (dropping off leaflets) and home in time to take Katie to get her repaired car, and to Concord to have my taxes done (five hours, almost all in the car). Now I am putting off either going back to work or back to the other ten schools in Manchester, and that's why, I contend, I haven't done much with the Gault pictures so far.....But as I said, it didn't rain yesterday. I may live.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Back to winter

I had a fine time at Gault. Really. I got a new trowel, trowel in the sense that an AK-47 is a handgun. The Lesche Digging Tool , variously referred to as 'Clark's murder weapon,' 'the Trowel of Mass Destruction,' 'the Silver Dagger,' is very good at clay. Liz and I both
went home Tuesday night and ordered one (through the very-slow-but-way-better-than- nothing MiFi of Rich; since it was slower the more people on it, I mostly stayed off). This did not mean my arms didn't feel like they might fall off, and since I returned home, there has been doubt about my knee.

But now that my car starts I am in much better spirits.

Some things I learned:
1. Do not quit your aspirin/ibuprofen regimen just because you quit digging.
2. Do not drink more than 2 bottles of Midas Touch even if it tastes harmless (and, BTW, much better chilled. I think they have cut down on the saffron, a mistake).
3. Tea is probably more important than beer, but sometimes scotch would be better than either.
4. It is not summer in Texas, not even a New England summer, in February. Or really March, either.
5. So ALWAYS heed your housemate when says to take your thermals. I was very glad I did.
6. Also probably to the little voice that warns you not to try t bend the earpiece on your glasses. Fortunately, Dick had duct tape available while we waited for our ride from the airport.

Things to do this week: Blog or otherwise write up my trip.
Pay my taxes.
Get new glasses.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Once more, with Texas (and without fire ants?)

I appear to have been a little tired last year. All of it? Anyway, here's the link to the rather cursory blog regarding SCRAP's field trip to Gault last year. It was slightly better than the one from March 10, 2008.

Because I am ashamed, and so I will not feel obliged to go through all of the background again, I have posted an essay and a bunch of the pictures from the 2009 trip (which took place in early May. Early May is when it becomes beautiful in New Hampshire, and though it is also wildflower time in Gault, and Painted-Buntings-fighting-like-kung-fu-NBC-Peacocks time, it is also fire ant time. February will probably not be fire ant time, or even snakes-coming-out-of-hibernation).

If you go to YouTube there's more, not by me, though my nose and voice show up in this one. Notice the heavy clothing? That was in March. We're going this year on Sunday, February 21.

Right now I am putting off packing or tidying my room, very successfully.

Tumblr allows one to send posts by one's phone, in audio. I am hoping to call a post in or so; These will show up in Facebook, or you can put the Tumblr link in your RSS. Tumblr will also show you when I update this blog.

In other news: Nigel's head is all healed up. He pretended to be mostly okay about the antibiotics, but he sure made himself scarce for a few days.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lonely no more (God Bless You, Mr. Boskone)

I felt bleak last week. Moaned and whined. Then for whatever reason (tired of feeling like the weirdest person in the room) I checked to see if there were a science fiction anything happening anywhere nearby, and there was Boskone in Boston, where I have a LOVELY older couple who look after a pied-a-terre for (my parents think it's their apartment). Warned by the story of the guy in a flood who says God will save him, then refuses to be rescued by a boat or a helicopter, and drowns, saying "GOD will save me" (God says "But I sent the boat and helicopter...")I figured I should go.

I won a pair of sneakers from the Coraline movie last winter and I have been saving them for a special occasion. I found a blue long-sleeved T at the feed and grain store and stamped very subtle stars on it, and dyed my hair blue. This was fun. I have some partially blue towels and a bluish bath/shower thing now.

My parents were charming. My father picked me up at the bus station and observed mildly that my hair was blue. I remarked that it had been a Photoshop accident. My mother said it suited me. We watched the Olympic opening ceremonies and wanted more Francophone content and fewer women with pianos. The effects the lighting person produced were amazing. It was still too long.

I went to Boskone for the first time in many years (like five?). It was once a rowdy con with lots of TV and movie ties-in, although its association with MIT has always given it a turn toward harder science than, say, Darkovercon. They ran aground and were exiled from the Boston hotels for a long time, but they are now considered to have rehabilitated themselves. They got a Boston hotel into the distant port-convention center area, and the con is now mostly book-oriented. There were relatively few costumes, but several people liked my hair.

I went to a panel called "The 'Suck Fairy,' and Other Horrors of Rereading." It was a good discussion of what happens when you reread a book you loved the first time and then the racism, the ideology, the sexism, the heavy-handed message, etc., appear). A woman from Randolph, NH (it was on her name tag) sat next to me. Randolph has a population of about 330 on a good day and is mainly notable for a motel with a shop selling wool yarn (sic) and a quietly spectacular PaleoIndian site where I have had the great joy to dig. Because there are only a few people in the world, she lives across the road from it. It's weird enough to meet another science-fiction fan from NH, let alone one older than I am.

Then I tried out a panel on retro-actively inserting story changes into serials, but I was not far enough into the comics they were discussing, and then what turned out to be a not interesting enough one-person panel about researching if you want to write fantasy. Might have been better if she had been less relentlessly specific about pattern-welding, though since she was writing a sword-smith it made sense. I ended up at a very funny panel about 'what series should have zombies added to it next.'

Then I went and ate at the very, very well-stocked (if you like bread and things to go on it, but they were also aiming to feed the gluten free and the vegetarian) ConSuite buffet,and looked at books, and watched a woman with a spinning wheel explain the mechanism to two engineers, who were fascinated. And I talked to an iPod Touch fanatic, which was informative.

Then I would have gone to a panel about revamping Asimov's Laws of Robotics, (nearly all attending were men) but I got bored, and went to Fantasy: Getting Away from the Traditional, which was okay (nearly all women), and then I misplaced my knitting and fretted for awhile. Then I went a panel on 'the Heroine's Journey:' something new, now that women are living in larger numbers past the age of child-rearing, and also having careers and money and stuff; and a reading by
Lois McMasters Bujold, whose new book about Miles will be coming out in November.

I tried to meet the person I was supposed to meet for dinner, but she got stuck in Rhode Island, so I went and checked Quincy Market (Chowda Company= not very good chowda, sadly). There was a free shuttle from the hotel, so I went to wait at the bus stop with the other people. One of them was a friend of a friend with whom I had gone in 1985 to get my ears pierced. She barely remembered this (she was getting a second piercing in one ear, to be edgier -- this was A LONG TIME AGO, when double pierced was still a little weird), but she recalled the Japanese lunch beforehand and that my infant had been refusing the nice Japanese miso-and-tofu baby food and preferred to plunder my tuna rolls. "Yeah," I said. "Now he's 25 and works at the ----- St. Apple store."
"I know someone there," she said. "He's named Sam." She is friends with his fiancee.
"Blond? Hair down to there?"
"Yep," she said.
"That's him, the baby who was eating my tuna."
Her jaw dropped impressively.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Last ('09) January 12 I recorded that Marten had a small infection on his back. It got all well. Yesterday I dragged Nigel to the vet with a fever in his ears and a lump the size of a quail's egg over his eye where Marten, almost certainly, had whacked him. I think they get bored in the winter.

The wound was three days old and not getting better, and I figured being a one-eyed black cat would be a bit much (he already looks Eldritch). Sarah was here. She left her glasses at home for the first time in her life and came in contact lenses, which did not respond well to being stored in boiled water overnight, and ripped across. Sarah can't see very well. But she managed to help confine Nigel (who wasn't sick enough to go gentle into that good vet's, not at all, kthx). By 11:30 I had, instead of a pirate cat, a Zombie cat with a shaved area over one eye dripping blood and pus. He looked awful and he was like to go into shock, poor baby. Sarah and I were not much better (except nothing had been lanced. No dripping).

Then I drove Sarah to Canterbury, where she was reunited with her optics.
Then we drove back to my house and her car, and she went to visit her mother. I baked bread--the second set in 18 hours, as the first loaf got kind of black when I forgot about it. This did allow me to take a couple small loaves (of great beauty, I must say) along with the Mostly White Stew (see Dec. 12, 2008, note at end, and don't crockpot it; the artichokes fall apart) to the SCRAP Party.

The room is always too small and the crew associated with the OTHER dig (a Contact-era thing on what they call here the Seacoast) tended to clump outside in the hall, but we eventually mixed and talked to one another.

There were at least eight crockpots going, so next year I will perhaps bring a salad. But most of the crockpots were mostly emptied; my friend Abbie won Rookie of the Year, which I really support since I think I want to be Abbie when I grown up (she's short, blonde, intelligent,funny, and 21). The Avocational Archaeologist of the Year award was split among the four people who helped Dick put up and then break down Octoberfest, which is actually kind of fun.

SCRAP certificate

Friday, February 05, 2010

Right then, it's Fore-Spring

We went to New York. It was good. Not only did we fail to need to kill one another, we often enjoyed one another's company.

Tourist in New York
Our hotel and my father, looking like a Hopper painting LBJ photo

My mom had found a hotel that gave us two rooms (I could go to sleep!) for $149/night. My parents had the one on the street side and were not happy with the noise or the mattress, and though the hotel had a $10/day internet scheme the room was in a nearly dead zone. My room was quiet, my bed was fine, and we had a microwave and a tiny fridge so I had proper early morning tea. I loved it.

And my parents liked the Danubian exhibition, which, as well as being small but choice, was free admission.
Hamangian figures
Funerary figurines. At least they were from a grave.
We regretted not taking more pictures, since we didn't know they were allowed as long as they were not with a flash. Although the NYT article has an excellent slideshow, they left out my favorite bowl. It had a little naked clay couple in the bottom of it.

We ate simply. My father is allergic to gluten and my mother doesn't do dairy, and the smell of the pizzerias we passed wafted unanswered. The price of NY restaurants was breathtaking (a very nice unspecial lox and onion omelet was $12.95, but two eggs any style was $7.95) and the portions were too big. But it was tasty, and I like the Bialy very much. Something like a cross between a bagel and an English muffin.

We went to the opera, as my mother loves the opera; my daughter imported herself from New Jersey and joined us at Lincoln Center. I am not much for concrete structures and I missed the gorgeous pseudo-classicism of older concert halls, but it was not bad inside despite having no murals of half-naked people.

Swarovski crystals are always welcome. LBJ

The opera itself was Stiffelio, a strange tale of jealousy and maybe forgiveness among the 19th c. Protestants. This had an unfortunate effect on the costumes (black) and all of us wondered why Verdi thought it had been a good idea to write. I thought a couple of zombies would have helped a lot, or some poisoning or an elephant. Apparently you are allowed to have opera without any of these. I am told they sang very well. I don't think I am made for Culture, at least not High Culture.

The Silk Road Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History (why here?) was okay, but for me it exemplified many of the stupidest tendencies of modern museum-ship. It had a couple of interactive things (mostly broken machines to 'stamp' your 'passport;' some much better perfume amphora to smell) and a lot of 'gee! look!' kind of commentary. But they were trying to describe a long stretch of caravan route over several hundred years, and as a result I had no feeling of any place at any time, and it was bit like generic Orientalism, which was almost certainly not what they wanted to do. On the plus side, my father had never heard of the place and said it was a decent introduction. I'm a history snob, I guess.

But the book store was great, containing several of my favorite books in a very select sample, and I bought The Mind in the Cave.

One way and another we ended up at MOMA without time to look at the museum properly, so we did the tacky but satisfying thing and went to the gift shop(s). They were overpriced but delightful, and now I know where ThinkGeek gets some of its stuff.

We were very lucky with the weather; I have been so very cold in New York, and although it was sometimes a little breezy, it was mostly above freezing and sunny, very walkable. I love New York. I was sad not to see Beckett (LOTS of police presence, though, and nasty murder on the TV)or Mia but it was pretty cool anyhow. It started to drizzle as we made our way to Penn Station.

I like travel by train. I took the bus from Concord to Boston and back, and that went very seamlessly as well.

Then I came down with my father's cold and had to sleep all last week. It was a fluent headcold. My brain was on hiatus; I have found great comfort in punctuating the Castle transcripts at the Dustjackets wiki. And the transcribers say they are delighted since they are just trying to get the damned things written out and to hell with the hyphens and commas!(shocking.) They are otherwise really fine internet friends. Since I have been trying to finish a regular plain-vanilla (except for the soapboxes, which taste about as good as you would suppose in a vanilla confection) police procedural fanfic, the wiki has been useful. I am not going to defend fanfic right now, but of course I wouldn't feel like it if it weren't several rungs down from pulp fiction. But it feels good and leaves no marks so I am doing it (and at least I'm not a furry). (You should look at the link in the previous sentence, it might weird you out or it might make you give the Smile of Recognition).

And last week I went to the SCA market in Manchester, but my cleavage would not behave and I felt like this. I behaved well and only bought a cup and a bowl and a book.

And now I must be human, as there is the SCRAP party tomorrow. Every year lately we have it in the NHDHR office building, which has no possible sightline for a decent photograph, although it does have heating (which is why we no longer have it in the much more picturesque State Library, which does not have heat on weekends). There will be food, and I must make some.

And finally, on a seasonal note: I survive every winter hanging onto Groundhog Day, or Candlemas, or Imbolc, when I KNOW the light will have improved, and by Copernicus, it has! Still light at 5pm, the analemma is making it hard to sit by an SE window between 8:30 and 10 am, and this morning a chickadee made the first 'Hey, Baby?' call of the year.

Monday, January 11, 2010

cold with a lack of focus

I miss Christmas. I still have a little fruitcake left (and half a pair of socks and a late-arriving mittlets) but the fine-pointed guided missile of purpose that I was in December is no more.

Tonight we are expecting the first snow in a couple of weeks.


Marten watching us in the driveway.

Doug and I decided Paul was never going to get the stuff out of the kitchenette. Doug wanted the space. I wanted him to have it. In a burst of energy yesterday, He and Deb and I rearranged Paul's stuff into a disused portion of freezing porch (safe from rain and snow, however) and Doug rented a steam cleaner and did the rug. Today he is moving furniture in. Katie continues to live upstairs. I hope she gets a better job soon.


Marten from inside the house. With orchid cactus.

Right, the sun is coming out. Between four to eight inches tonight, for sure. Yesterday it was about 45 degrees F and delightful.

My parents, who are either saints or have decided my company will provide an alibi of some sort, are taking me to New York City for three nights. My mother wants to see an Egon Schiele exhibit. I want to go to the Old Europe exhibit at NYU. Any other suggestions?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Looking ahead

With an actual rent-paying tenant, things are much better here. I still need to want a job.
And following that, to get one. And not get depressed over my lack of qualifications. I can do lots of things adequately. I hate the whole 'selling' myself thing really a lot, and feel people would do well to get a more recent model. With a better operating system and a slimmer footprint.

The main effect of my holidays has been an actual desire to see more of my family and friends more often. Amazing.

I still need to do serious, I-am-not-a-hoarder tidying.

I want to work off some of my fiber stash, and spin, and some of my yarn stash, and knit.

I want to write more. This would involve losing the url for MahJongg.

Really, I want to dig more holes.


It was excellent. We had, at dinner: Sam and Kimberly, Kimberly's father Joel;


Lisa and John;


Ellie and Matt;
Matt and Ellie

my mom and dad;
My daddy
Jenny my ex


and me.

Me, Sam, Kimberly

My mother points out that no one took pictures of her. (She took all these pictures.) She's right. And no one got a picture of Lisa and John together, either.

I am in charge of plum pudding at Christmas. I make a gluten-free one and take it with me to the ex's house. Where, and previously at Melrose, I have made minor grease fires in the oven (though not for the previous couple of years, to everyone's disappointment) with the Yorkshire pudding (no relation). This year, there was a HELL of a lot of smoke because the fire was in a part of the oven you could only see from across the kitchen... .

"Dinner will be ready when the smoke alarm goes off"

Anyway the plum pudding: we set it afire with booze. I was out of brandy, so I stopped on the way down and noticed there was 150 proof rum for only 2$ more than the 75 proof, so I got that. The oven fire had made the ex a little more nervous and control-issued than usual, so she was not listening and preheated a CUP of rum, poured it over the pudding and set alight before I could get her attention. Pudding flames did not quite reach ceiling. Nor _quite_ melt table cloth, which was still an excellent wick and provided flames around the plate of pudding as well as on it. But it was very impressive.

Pudding '09

Looking Back

I was starting Arwen? I don't even remember... oh right, I gave the yarn to Alice. Good call. The Radiance Cable Jacket is unfinished. I think it made me look fat.

New Year's Truth 1: I look like a manatee. They say that the fibroid I have is not causing any trouble, even though it is now larger than a grapefruit. It cannot be blamed for my umm, bottom. On the other hand, I don't obsess about my diet. I hope to eat more vegetables in the New Year.

I made Christmas socks for my father and Katie and almost finished the ones for my mother. And they were on size 3's (well, not Katie's, which are half acrylic because she is a severely-affected teenager. She still lives here, in theory, but not since it snowed very much. Depends on what happens to her license, too) and done in honest Sock-weight. Ellie's are somewhere in limbo; I have not seen her sock since Thanksgiving. (Oooh! It turned up!)

I made about five of the Noro scarves (finished one this evening that I found carefully tucked away). I gave about four of them away, two at Octoberfest, as well as the one I made Knitting One Below, and if only I could find that book in this dreadful, interesting house I would make another. It is very satisfying to give people warm things when they are cold.

I made some most unpalatable wine and am scared to try again, although I am going to be more severe with my specific gravity. The vinegar wasn't much good, again, perhaps because the original must had not fermented enough. Was it too cold? was the yeast no good? Was the must dreadful? I did label everything I could find in the basement. Some of what I could not identify was delicious. Trying Kombucha this year.

The FLUXX deck I bought Grace and Debbie in March, I gave them in December. Someday we shall play it. I also bought myself the FLUXX Stoner deck, though I continue to be stuffy about people my age who smoke much dope (nasty realization of the year. I thought I was cooler than that) and don't know anyone in the state who would think it was funny.

I Do have a kitchen! I love it. It has lights and counters and more cupboard space than I know what to do with. Sadly, I have not yet fully unpacked the boxes o'Stuff that appeared in my living room when I moved out of the kitchenette. But I am cooking again fairly often, particularly in an effort to make regular meals with Doug. Because Paul, having moved himself and Katie in in June (he had no work they needed a place to live smaller than the house he was renting), moved out in November, shortly after Doug moved out of now-ex GF SarahC's house. Doug is my tenant again! And I will be kinder to him He is a wonderful housemate and a good friend, and I hope he has fun with his friend in Connecticut but doesn't move there. Paul is living with a girlfriend somewhere else. 'Paying tenant' was never a good description, but he did build a couple of closets. Katie sort of lives here, in that she has stuff in the spare bedroom, but the condition of the driveway and the condition of her car have not been a fortunate combination.

Nigel is definitely tired of the aggro here, but since Willow is happier when she can dominate Doug, he gets some better times. Marten chases both of them. None of them will go outside for more than seconds when it's below 40 degrees F. Wimps.