Friday, June 20, 2014

finished object and home improvements

Proof that I do occasionally finish something! These mittens are a pattern that I sort of made up on my own, taking about 120 yards of worsted weight handspun Corriedale wool. One mitten is larger than the other, and the thumbs are wonky, but they are soft and warm. I like the rustic look and feel of them. The wool was "moorit" a reddish brown color of sheep. I started these mittens on my winter knitting retreat in February, knit one, and promptly forgot about them, until two weeks ago, when I decided I simply had to get stuff off the needles. I'm suffering a terrible bout of startitis, and am refusing to respond to it...

We're getting a flurry of home improvements done this next week or so. Today is day 1 of the HVAC servicing; ducts being super-vacuumed and cleaned out, plus a chimney/fireplace cleaning. Next week, the actual heating and AC unit will be tuned up. While our AC is working, it isn't working very well, and we're hoping to put off a system replacement for another year. Keep your fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, the presence of 3 service guys, a giant sucking hose and air compressors are causing Cricket to have a major meltdown. I crated him, but it didn't stop him from growling, barking and hurling death threats to the home invaders from hell - errrr, duct cleaning men. P took him out for a walk, just to keep everyone happy and safe. In retrospect, we probably should have just taken him out before the guys arrived, and kept him gone til the service was done, as they're all over the house right now...

Last week, I had the trees inspected, and was going to set up a trimming of some dead branches and trees off the power lines. The tree man pointed out a big oak on the side of our property and said "that is coming down!!" It wasn't even the tree that was causing me concern, as it seemed overall pretty healthy, with big leafy branches, and an annual acorn production that feeds our army of squirrels. It does grow at a leaning slant, but seemed well-rooted. Distressed, I called in an actual arborist for a consultation, and he and I walked our property, including the unfenced forested ivy jungle part of it. We actually own close to an acre, about 1/2 of which is fenced and more or less domesticated.

The arborist felt the big oak was healthy, and because of its angle of growth, and the lack of erosion around the tree, particularly at its tension roots on the back side, it was safe. But in the overall examination, he felt our big pine tree in the backyard was more of a hazard, as it showed a lightning strike scar, dead wood on high, and holes low down at the base. Further inspection revealed 2 rotted out dying poplars that also needed to go, as they would probably hit the house when they went down...

He recommended that I do the removal and any surrounding pruning in the fall or winter, during their dormancy period, rather than right now, mostly for the health of the remaining trees.

Anyway, I feel like money is flowing through my hands like water, and probably will continue to do so, for the time being. Good news is that I have work for next year, and work I actually enjoy, so that's reassuring. I can always sell stash to put food on the table...amusingly, I have managed to sell a few things recently, just because I idly put it on Ravelry as "trade or sell" status, though I wasn't actively trying to market it or anything. I might list a bit more, just to see what happens.

P retires at the end of this month, and will be solidly established back here by the end of July. Hilariously, he's already getting calls from colleagues about private sector work. He's pretty dead set on a serious vacation, first, as befits someone who's worked for 20 years straight in the same agency. After that, well, we'll see... I will be glad to have my husband home for more than a week or so. We have not lived together w/o him being on a regular travel schedule since 1996, if you can believe that! It will be an adjustment, but a happy one, I think.

sigh...I just got the news that the Atomic Lodge chimney needs repairing and a damper replacement. Arrgh.

Monday, June 09, 2014

summer edition: hello red kayak

Greetings from the other side! As in summer. Oh the solstice hasn't arrived, but summer's most significant indicator: school's out, came a week ago, though I was swimming in paperwork and workshops, so Friday was my first real summer day.

I celebrated by going kayaking early Saturday morning, with my friend Angela, who has a new boat she needed to break in. My own red kayak sees so little action, and I plan to change that this summer.

We put in at a local park with a lake, and paddled around in the flat cool water for a couple of hours. Relaxing and a great way to kick off the weekend. Promising each other we'd scout out other likely urban waterways for paddling fun, after it was over. Angela is also a knitter, and I'm thinking next time that I'm going to bring a sock to work on, though she doesn't seem convinced that this is a good idea. 

Nothing new on the needles, or rather nothing much that I've photographed; I'm making the Forest Canopy Shawl in some pretty handspun. I wanted easy lace that could go somewhere and be semi public knitting without too much drama. I am desperately trying to find my knitting mojo out there. 

P's retirement is imminent, and I'm looking forward to having him here again, while being acutely aware that we haven't lived together without him being on a regular travel schedule since 1995. So having someone around every day will be an adjustment. I'm quite used to being the unquestioned chatelaine of the Atomic Lodge, and I'm hoping to somehow maintain my zen when we encounter this huge domestic shift. P doesn't seem nearly as worried about it as I am, which is typical of his optimism, and usually it's contagious. Sometimes I think we should think about getting a completely different place together, so we could start on a more equal footing...but really, in my world, I want to stop flipping houses everytime someone needs a change. 

 Spinning continues to be my main fiber pursuit these days: 
I spun up this beautiful dark gray shetland over the past couple of weeks. It was a Christmas gift from my mom. Rather, it spun itself, into a light worsted. 8oz =405 yards of the pretty stuff. Two washings in Eucalan, and it still smells sheepy. I'm hoping that tones down a little over time. Our humidity is so intense right now that it didn't dry out completely when I hung it in the bathroom. So I put it in the truck, on the dashboard, and parked the truck in the sun. Now the truck smells faintly sheepy. I was actually spinning for a project, Lisa Lloyd's Tilly scarf. I love her book "A Fine Fleece," which is knitting for spinners, and I would love to spin for one of her sweaters, but for now, a scarf will do. I got the suggested 400 yards, so this is actually dedicated yarn. So nice to have a plan. To the someday goal of spinning for a sweater, I'm continuing to spin up mixed gray BFL, at roughly a dk weight, and just keeping it in my stash. At some point (4 oz at a time) I'll have a sweater's quantity of more-or-less uniform yarn, then I'll get serious. 

Today's project is continuing the deep cleanse of the kitchen. I cleaned the fridge yesterday; it was unbelievably filthy, and now it's pristine. This makes me incredibly happy, and in the mood to keep pushing with the scouring of the house. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

stash revelations, sickness, sleep, and sweetness.

Last week, in a routine cleaning effort, I dumped out all my yarn, handspun, and spinning fiber for a stash fluff. What I discovered horrified me. No, silly, not moths. Worse. SABLE - stash acquisition beyond life expectancy, or at least life for the next couple of years. The fiber diet just got more serious. I love when life's lessons get reinforced by everyday acts. In the countdown toward Stitches South, and moving into April, when the WEBS fiber sale that got me into this trouble in the first place is coming up, my resolve is strengthened. No fiber acquisition.

There. That feels better. As always, browsing the stash is pleasant, knitting from it does not feel like walking in a dry, hot desert; rather, a place that merely calls for knowing what to do next in order to ensure one's survival. As a necessary first step, I think I am going to finish photographing and adding my stash to Ravelry. Yes. I am guilty of not having reported everything in those green Rubbermaid tubs. So I'm on it, and you should see the results in a few days.

A lot of things happened this past week.

I got really, really sick from a reaction to my NSAID, Diclofenac, and spent 48 hours puking, shitting, and sleeping. I feel great now. No. Really. There is no feeling as good as the feeling of recovering from a rapid, heavy-handed sickness. Especially when the illness means that one also gets to sleep and sleep. I arose on Friday morning, weak, happy, and ready to move forward. Knee brace on, ice pack in hand.

Friday evening, my friends Dave and Devlin visited. They were traveling back to VA, after being down in Florida, closing out Steve's estate. We spent the weekend talking, hiking at Arabia Mountain, getting together with Steve's ex-wife Sara, and generally catching up with each other's stories. These are people who have been in my life since college (late 70's, early 80's) and with whom I never feel I have enough time. So the weekend was pure sweet indulgence with many laughs, memories, and some healing.

Tomorrow I have jury duty. Tuesday, I have school STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) training at the district office. Recent frequent absences, and the time of year are starting to look like I need to spend a few 10 hour days AT work, starting next Wednesday, but it's all good. My job has a lot of paperwork, now, and while I'm pretty good at just putting my head down and grinding it out, I think I am going to just start working longer hours for the rest of the school year, to stay on top of it.
Right now, instead of yielding to the temptation to nap after a late night, I am going to shower, go to school to finish some lesson plans for my sub for the next 2 days, and then go eat some pho. I'll come home, do some dishes, and then go to bed early, because not only does jury duty require decent dress, it wants to see me at the Decatur courthouse at 8:15. Oy. Somewhere in the mix there will be a Cricket walk, and some knitting. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

alban eiler: spring

Oops! I fell off my effort to post daily on the blog. The week got too busy and I was working on report cards, so every time I sat down at the computer, I felt like I had to enter grades...
It is finally Spring, according to the pagan/cosmological liturgical calendar. It's even reasonably warm, though today the sun has faded off into some greyness that is somewhat less than cheering. I am heading out tonight to a spring celebration in Gwinnett County with some druid practitioners I know, whose rituals I've started attending. They are pleasing, a small group, simple rites, earth and sky and sea centric. I am not an official member of their group, but a welcomed guest.

My knitters had their swap last week. I gave my swappee Gudrun Johnson's Crofter's Cowl, in green cashmerino aran. What a sweet pattern to knit. Even the grafting, 80 stitches in the round, was not difficult, and I think I may have finally mastered Kitchener stitch by memory. 80 stitches will do that...I also added in some homemade soap, stitch markers, and some rosemary shortbread that was to die for. Really. My own swapper gave me a skein of beautiful olive malabrigo worsted, destined to become part of a cabled tea cozy, I think. She knit me the long-queued, deeply-coveted Selbu Modern hat, in some grey and charcoal alpaca/bamboo yumminess, and gave me the cutest green frog bowl, which is now holding hexipuffs, but I'm thinking next winter to use it to house some hyacinth bulbs for forcing.  No pics because I am lazy, and I left the hat at work yesterday.

In my own knitting, I'm working hard to finish a gift for my upcoming Outlander Swap, and then it's back to the WIP effort. I'm feeling the itch to cast on a whole bunch o' things, but I'd like to get a few more things off the needles before that happens. Namely a pair or two of socks. I love wearing handknit socks, but damn, I hate knitting them... No. That's not strictly true. I like knitting them, I just find them slow and tedious. I get tired of the sock before the pair gets finished. I think I am going to take ONLY SOCKS to VA over my spring break so I can make some headway on the 3 pairs I have on the needles. If I finished even one pair, I would feel like I was making some forward movement in the effort.

I've been out of coffee this week. I'm trying hard to eat up the food in the house, so I haven't been to the store, which means there's been tea every morning. Today is no different. Now I have perfectly decent tea - Peet's Irish breakfast, with milk and a tiny touch of sugar, so it isn't really a hardship, and it is lovely with toast or a piece of the aforementioned rosemary shortbread. Yesterday I made a chai soy latte, and I'm thinking this period of no coffee might just be transformational. I have no intention of giving it up for good, but it's nice to go off it every now and then. It helps keep the tea stash trimmed to a reasonable size.

Other things going on this weekend: gym, serious housecleaning efforts to accomodate next week's houseguests, spinning guild (yayayayay!) and the associated Decatur errands of Rainbow Grocery(a tiny little health food store), preliminary shoe shopping, and barbecue eating.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Because yesterday was 75 degrees and beautiful, and today it's a mere 50, cloudy, and windy. I find myself out-of-sorts, and impatient, and suddenly, I understand why! gah...

I need a day off, and it isn't coming. Thus, I am taking the evening to cocoon, at home with my dog. Some roasted vegetables, a martini, and some knitting. Playing catch-up on many, many episodes of The Walking Dead, which won't improve my mood, but my roomie/trailer-mate at work is antsy to discuss this season's episodes, and I'm not caught up, so duty calls...

Last night, Cricket went outside and raised holy hell, in the middle of the night. I gave up wishing he'd come in, and went out to check what he was up to. A possum was running along the fence, and he was chasing alongside it, barking his head off. He could have easily leapt up and snatched it off the 4 foot fence, but fortunately for the possum, Cricket is not a problem-solver kind of dog. Adrenaline junkie, yes. I got him in, and the possum escaped unscathed.

This image pretty much sums it up. A note on this has shown up in my iPhoto imports and I can't remember how I got it. I like it, though, and so if it's yours, please drop a comment and let me know who you are so I can give you credit. Or ask me to take it down. I'm willing to do either or both. But it is a splendid shot of a worthy thing to remember. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

showing up at the page

I don't feel all that inspired to write, but I'm making some changes around here, one of them being "showing up at the page" and just writing, whether I'm in the mood or not. I was all set to go to yoga this afternoon, but my knee is giving me problems, and I thought that I'd rather come home, take a diclofenac, and do some gentler, less knee-involved practice down in the basement. But I am so, so tired...I am trying to get myself to bed at a decent hour, and the new hour of daylight that we've uncovered is messing with that.

I was not at all upset when I was asked to cancel my ESOL classes today and sub for a 2nd grade teacher who couldn't get a sub. I am normally all about them, but I felt like I wasn't very prepared for my pull-out lessons, so subbing gave me an out - the true confessions of a slacker.

I think a nap on my bed of nails may be in order so I can find the strength to prep my lessons and even crawl onto that yoga mat this evening...
Digging up the yard yesterday for perennials. I moved a log aside, and lo! a salamander popped out. You can't see it, but he has pretty yellow spots on his sides. I see them so seldom that they are always a scary little thrill. 

Okay, dragging myself to my rest. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

a crocus can surprise you

I have always been interested in phenology; the activities of plants and animals in relation to changing seasonal and weather patterns. The march of spring is my favorite march, and this March is marching on. I spent a bit of time today, after a tea and knitting date with Debbie, in the yard - planting some Joe-pye weed I'd separated, sowing grass seeds on my ever-spreading bare spots, entertaining Cricket throughout, by throwing the little blue ball for him to find and fetch.

In the front yard, this crocus, that I'd forgotten about. I put some crocii in the first year we lived here, but our spring bulbs are so hit-or-miss here, with our hot summers, excessive rain, and deep shade. A crocus or two, and a measly daffodil is all I ever get. I dream of a sunny yard, with waves of jonquils, snowdrops, and hyacinths. Someday...meanwhile, I take the surprise, the brave striped crocus, as a sign.

Tonight is lesson planning, and organizing the recycling, taking out trash, and foraging for salad amongst the less-than-interesting denizens of the crisper drawer, when what I really want is a thick slice of Fellini's white pizza.