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.