Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

dispatch from the clamcave

Cricket, doing what I'd like to do for the next 2 months straight...
Sticking my nose in here, because I was reminded by dear Chelsea that it's been over a month since I posted. Thanks for caring enough to check in on me, hon, and I assure you, I'm fine, just in my usual December funk. We won't even talk about November, which wasn't bad, all in all. But December? It's triggering a litany of whines about things that are plaguing me.

I got the Swine Flu, about 10 days before Thanksgiving. Spectacularly sick... what I thought was mere allergy turned into an overnight 102.5 fever, and screaming sore throat and coughing. After that came general nausea, that I think was kind of a reaction to the Tamiflu, which, nevertheless, is a wonder drug. It took a good 10 days for this thing to really run its course, during which I lived on soup and kiwi fruit, slept more than I ever thought possible, and knit not at all. I feel all behind now, in spite of the fact that I'm not on any kind of serious schedule in my life; it just feels like I've lost some time, somehow.

Knitting...I swatched for the Central Park Hoodie, out of lust and curiosity, in Cascade Ecological Wool. Before I knew it, I'd knit an entire sleeve!! Seriously, folks, #9 needles, plump worsted in a soothing chocolatey color and an easy-easy cable can be so hypnotic! I've put it all up on a high shelf now, to marinate while I finish that suddenly abandoned Swallowtail Shawl, and Pinky, which is the new name for Ariann, and some other Christmas knitting, which cannot really be discussed here, just yet. Pinky has a sleeve completed, and one more to go, and Swallowtail...just starting the nupps part. Fun! I had to rip a little, as I was knitting too tightly. V-ron had warned me that I wanted to do the YO's loosely, and she wasn't kidding! So I hope I'm on the right track now. We'll see, later this evening if I've done it right...

I wouldn't be true to my blogging self if I didn't mention that the Seasonal Affective Disorder is kicking my ass this year. The combined darkness and cold (relatively speaking - 40's - 50's aren't REALLY cold) plus the rain, plus the fa-la-la commercial Christmas season with its lights and spend-spend mentality are really making me just want to crawl into bed and sleep til about mid-February. Hell, I'd even settle for mid-January...ugh. This, and the impending anniversary of my dad's death, just makes me sad. Using the usual remedies, plus trying to maintain an at-home yoga practice, and hanging in there, but seriously, let's just finish out 2009!!

I managed to hammer out a decent workspace in my office-cum-store room, and my sis and I named it The Clamcave, as a play on the term "mancave." It is cozy, and quite possibly, the warmest room in the house, mostly because of its cavelike structure, and extremely low ceiling. It's still housing the camping equipment, and most of P's library (what's wrong with this picture?) as well as all my teaching stuff, but there's a bit of room for a daybed, an iHome stereo, and my stash, and its got a little window that gets evening sun. Amazing how fast it gets messy, mostly due to the small space, which should be a big space, but see aforementioned storage capacity...

I've had a couple of interviews at a very highfalutin' private school, for a position that I'm not at all sure I want, at this point. I have to go in next week and teach a sample lesson, which would normally have me in a complete tailspin, but I'm not convinced that I'm a match for this school, so I'm not exactly fretting over it. P says he heard through his work grapevine that the parents at this particular institution are a nuisance. It could go any way, I think. I could, in the process of teaching the lesson, fall in love with the kids, and being back in the classroom, at such a fabulous place, or I could further convince myself that a low-key teacher from the trenches and ghettos of public schooldom is no match for the rarefied atmosphere of elite education.

I want money. To buy new hiking boots, to take a road trip to visit Lauriedarlin', to indulge my taste for Malabrigo without counting pennies. To show myself a good time, and to pump up my sad little savings account. But I'm just not sure I want the hassles and the pressure of this fishbowl job. Arrrrgh, between a rock and a hard place.

The Hawaii house finally sold, for real and true. Nice to have that second mortgage out of the way! We did not lose our shirts over it, and can now think about scheduling a kitchen remodel, new hardwood floors, and building a shed for this place, over a 5 year plan. The shed will come first. Mokihana had asked me, some time ago, if I missed Hawaii at all, and the answer is yes, decidedly so. I do not regret the decision to move back to the mainland; but I miss the beauty, the warmth, the incredible light that comes in a place that's so surrounded by sea and sky. I find it almost painful to look at pictures I took, there, sometimes. I keep thinking, when I feel especially stuck or SAD, that "an hour on the beach could cure this." I miss my friends, the flowers, the pidgin, the food. I miss how much of my life took place outdoors, there. Cooking, eating, leisure time. I think I spend a fair amount of time outside here, even in less than perfect weather, but it does not compare, even a little bit! I miss the aloha, even though Georgia is not without its version of aloha spirit.

On a happy note, today was beautiful. High 60's, breezy (in a way that Georgians called "high winds") and sunny. The SAD was chased back for awhile, and I went outside and planted the remainder of my bulbs, and walked around the woods with my dogs, who made much ado over a dead squirrel they found. I stripped ivy off trees and knitted on a stealth malabrigo project out on the picnic table. I watched juncos and wrens scuffle around in the leaves, and ate leftover Indian food. The balm for December...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

window into fall

Just ate lunch, a salad I grabbed from out in the world, while doing errands. Am feeling very virtuous, as a result, and hey, Chik Fil-A, in spite of their spelling, has a really decent grilled chicken garden salad.

I'm working on job applications and trying to get my teaching credential. It is an agonizing process that I can't seem to completely finish, so I give it a bit of time each day, all the while, measuring my ambivalence about working, when there's so much to do around here. Hoping a walking/biking distance part-time job will come as a result, but clearly, more elbow grease is needed. But my bank account ain't getting any fatter, so I keep pushing.

I planted hostas, ferns and coral bells (heuchera) in our backyard, and am awaiting the arrival of more shade perennials by the mail. In addition, my yard guy and I took out a whole bunch of young skinny baby trees; mostly beech and maple, thus opening up the backyard. Because it's so shady back there, I'm not really going to rake, but just let the leaves fall and mulch it. Right now, it's entirely covered in leaves and our trees still seem to have 75% of their leaves waiting yet to fall. I am thinking I'll have to rake some, or at least blow the leaves where I want 'em to go.

Knitting on Swallowtail, mostly, these days, but trying to touch Ariann occasionally. I'm thinking to put her on the back burner and knit the Central Park Hoodie from my stashed Cascade Ecological Wool; it's whining at me and I want a cozy brown hoodie more than I want a lacy pink sweater at the moment. But first, the holiday knitting has to be tamed somewhat. Being poor, I'm thinking if I can muster it, (ie, if I can get off damned Facebook long enough) I will give mostly knitted gifts for the yuletide. I've got some ideas and am feeling fairly motivated. But then... come Boxing Day, the hoodie commences!

Tonight is yoga. I have fallen quite in love with Iyengar yoga. I had always taken Ashtanga and Vinyasa classes, and loved the endless rounds of sweaty sun salutations. But I knew my form in my poses wasn't always the best, and felt like I needed a more disciplined practice. Hence the Iyengar, which is slow, precise, and sometimes grueling, but seems to be teaching me things about patience, adjustment, and opening up. I do need to work harder at having an at-home practice, though. The optimum location here seems not to be in any one place, though. My office is nice for standing poses, but doesn't have the clear wall space for some reclining poses I want to do. The living room has the wall, but is just kinda dark...I wasn't thinking "yoga room" when we bought this house, clearly! That's an excuse, now, isn't it?

The afternoon is being spent in cleaning house a bit, roasting some root veggies, and dog walking. Oh yeah, and putting the new flannel sheets on the bed.

We went to the Atlanta Botanical Garden to see the Henry Moore sculptures exhibit. Amazing. This one is my favorite, because of its pastoral setting, and the view of Atlanta's high rises through its window. It was such a beautiful day, right before Halloween. I am still in love with the fall, here, in its slow, stately march toward yellows and browns.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Stealthy Christmas knitting:the Swallowtail Shawl, in Schaefer Ann.

And a happy end of October/Halloween/Samhain/Daylight Savings Fall Back time to you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

fungi and a progress report

Fall mushrooms in our woods:

I do love the mushroom. I don't eat the ones I find out in my rambles, only the easily recognized morels I've found in Northern VA, but I used to have a neighbor in Arlington who was a great forager of various local 'shrooms. I just don't feel confident of my own ability to find edibles in the fungus family yet. Still, I love the look of them, and take every opportunity to drag P around the woods checking them out, on our hikes. He's actually starting to notice them and point them out to me, now, too, a great victory in the department of making my obsessions contagious! Anyway, fall is the time for finding mushrooms; sunny days after a lot of rain and it seems they spring up out of nowhere.

Knitting is fairly unproductive these days. I'm doing it, and nothing seems to be growing. Meh. Ariann grinds on slowly. I should call her the "minimalist cardigan" since minimal is the effort I'm putting on her right now. I'm cheating on more smalls; this time, a cowl out of some Woolarina handspun BFL from the stash. I started it last week, and knitted it nearly up, then decided it was too big around and ripped it back and re-started it on #8 needles at 75 stitches. Better fabric, and a smaller circumference. Mindless stockinette makes for pleasure, and this pretty wool needs no real technique other than knitting up. I'm all about the utilitarian garment right now.

The waking early and the walking are going okay. Ella is the dog of choice on the walks, as she lends herself to just walking; no training, no corrections, no thought whatsoever toward how she's behaving. I walk and she walks. Cricket will come along on some of these, but he requires considerably more handling, and so he's getting his own excursions that are more leisurely, and involve frisbee and off lead time, too. Getting up early is progressing, too, even though the cold, and a couple of headaches this week have threatened to derail me. I soldier on, though. I'm very challenged by going to bed early, I realize, and am totally denying myself my lifelong habit of an afternoon nap, these days, in order to facilitate the re-set of the body clock. Sad, but necessary for this project. I hope the early morning hours will be reward enough to compensate for this loss. I've been putting the walks in the normal nap time (3:00-4:00) which is helping a lot.

Did I ever blog about reading Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" this summer? I don't think I did. My sis loaned it to me, and I'd been waiting for a couple years to read it. I'd be really interested in hearing what other folk think of this book. I struggled with it. I so loved the idea of the book; after a harrowing time in her life, a woman sets off for a year of travel and self-exploration centered around food in Italy, spirituality in India, and pursuit of pleasure in Bali. But it ran all amok in the telling, and kinda left me cold. I wanted more food, more religion and more Bali, less of the author's self-centered navelgazing. It gets touted by some as a self-help book, but few of us can afford to help ourselves to a year in Italy, India and Bali, now can we? Now there's a movie coming out about it, which really chaps my hide, because my girl Julia Roberts is starring in it, which means I'll have to go see it. And probably, it will be like "Twilight" as a movie. A movie whose book I found a bit grating, but which worked just fine as a pretty little escapist chickflick. With a good soundtrack. Gotta love that Twilight soundtrack.

Today is all about cooking up the food in my fridge. Squash casserole, black eyed peas cooked with bacon, grilled chicken. I'm also really craving some scones or muffins or some breakfasty baked good, so will peruse my recipes for some inspiration there, too. Something that will involve the craisin, the grated orange peel and use of my carefully hoarded stash of walnuts. Something that will fuel my impetus to keep getting my ass out of bed at the crack of dawn.

Monday, October 19, 2009

small pleasures

It's turned from rainy to cold here, and after serious resistance from my frugal self, who is trying to acclimate to the march of autumn, I turned on the heat. Or, rather, sent P to turn it on Saturday morning, when the household temperature had reached 58 degrees. I'd been doing okay, as long as I stayed busy, took frequent trips outside, and employed my handknits in the battle against the advancing chill. My nose felt cold, my cheeks felt rosy, and I was wondering if I could make it to 55 degrees. But it was the getting out of bed in the morning that was the challenge, and the thought of taking a shower was unbearable. So we turned the heat up to 65, which seems to make it liveable without being too tropical. I may crank it up further, but for now, it just feels like a huge relief.

Ariann has been getting some love. I'm not 100% thrilled with her, but my need for warm sweaters supercedes my perfectionism, in this case, and I'm nearly up to the point where I leave the body to make the sleeves, again. But I've also been continuing to indulge my need for smalls, and last week came up with these darling things, from a skein of Kureyon that Blogless Michelle swapped with me for some of the frogged Rosedale.

Details: Maine Morning Mitts: The Knitter's Book of Yarn
Noro Kureyon,#215, #7 dpns.

I love these milky, muted colors, which remind me of mist or smoke overlaying a landscape. The Kureyon 215 colorway is a favorite, though please note that the mitts are definitely fraternal, not identical twins. No color really repeats itself. I had 2 skeins of this yarn, and thought at first to dissect them to make 2 identical, or at least more similar, but the 2nd skein had a different sequence altogether, and at that point, I decided to just surrender to Eisaku Noro's greater wisdom, and go with it. Took a little less than 1 whole skein, and was a pretty easy knit. They've gotten quite a bit of wear, in their 3 days of incarnation, and promise to be a favorite.

Next up, a cowl, in some Woolarina handspun. My quest for woolen warmth, and my shopping of the stash continues!

After a hard struggle last week, with a Monday of crushing depression, I'm starting to crawl out of my hole. The Hawaii house has a buyer, and things are progressing nicely. I am still unemployed, though feeling like this, too will end. Cricket graduated from his training class, and is strongly recommended to continue with his training, which I'm all too willing to do. I'm feeling like things are moving forward, now, if a bit slowly, instead of mired in a horrible muck of stuckness.

I'm working on 2 little life improvement projects right now:

1. Going to bed at a decent hour and getting up earlyish. Since I've moved to Georgia, I've been sleeping in, til 8 or 9 am. It's shocking, unless you consider the fact that our house is in deep shade, and because we're on the far western edge of the time zone, it doesn't even start to get light til around 7am. I've also fallen into P's nocturnal schedule, and have been staying up til 12 or 1am each night. Just crazy. He sleeps in and drives into work around 9 so he can avoid Atlanta's crushing traffic, most days, but it all just leaves me feeling like the day is wasted and I am really worried about how jacked up my body clock is getting. So I've begun the march toward more self-discipline, and an earlier bedtime. A little harder, with the onset of cool weather, but the reward of being up early, while the house is still dark and quiet is worth it.

2. Taking a walk each day. One would think this was a no-brainer, with 2 dogs, but it isn't. We live backing on to woods, with a trail which leads to a meadow, and often I just stroll the dogs back to the meadow and throw the frisbee til they are worn out. Not really exercise for me, though it does grant a certain amount of peace and joy, being out in nature. But by nature, I am a sluggish couch potato, and the walk is more a fitness thing. I'm trying for 30 days of brisk walking, which, if it goes well, will kick over into the Couch to 5k Running Program. I have no designs about running long distances, or even ever more than 5k at a time. But I like to run, at least for a short while, and am looking to get a little fitter, a little stronger, and this looks like a gentler way to do it.

I thought by putting these two things here on the blog, I'd actually be a little stronger in my commitment to actually stick with them. They are my two big projects for this moon cycle, and I'm thinking if I can sustain them for a lunar cycle, they're pretty close to becoming a habit.

P has gone to Denver for a week, and the dogs and I are facing the cold together. I've got 80 bulbs to plant, this week, and my friend Joni and I have a pumpkin patch trip planned for the end of the week, if the weather holds. Last night it was 37 degrees. I brought in the spider plant and the Christmas cactus, against the off-chance that they'd freeze. I do not like this unseasonal cold, and 37 degrees is as cold as I'd expect Atlanta to ever get, and I'd accept it in January, but by gum, mid-October needs to be a little bit warmer!! Especially during the day! Ah well, it's calling for snow in New England, so I should muster some gratitude.

Today's missions are the making of chicken broth, from a roasted chicken carcass I've got laying around. I'm jonesing to make bread, but I just feel I'm not quite organized to do it today. Some housecleaning and the training of the Cricket.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

rain complaints mostly

Hard downpour, a sore throat, and interminable online job applications have me in a cranky brain fog. My dogs are languishing; it's like they've given up hope of ever running around outside on green grass again. Extreme sad sigh here.

Working on things like job apps and business stuff is not easy for me at home, office or no. I found a place about a mile from here with free wi-fi, and tomorrow, I'm going to make some use of it. Meanwhile, letting my pedicure dry, getting ready to do some stair pushups (my new fun fitness pursuit) and gearing up for a visit to the public library, because anything's gotta be better than sitting around watching the rain pour down...

My new strategy of getting up early worked out so-so today. I got up, got coffee, but wasn't especially productive. See aforementioned rainstorm and sore throat. I actually stayed up a little too late knitting a fingerless mitt. Yup, I succumbed to the siren call of the Maine Morning Mitt, in some Kureyon I had laying around in stash. Pics when I comlete #2.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

craving candy, but soup is smarter

Blogging definitely works better when one does it more often, I think. Sort of like knitting, which is a thing that Ariann is teaching me. Knitters I knit with in Roswell are probably snickering, as this past Sunday, I announced my burning desire to frog Ms. Ariann and walk away from her. But I felt like I needed to check with Chris, first, and Chris is busy with many things on her plate, and shouldn't be called upon to make critical decisions about Ariann right now, so I knit on. And on. Admittedly, my problems with this sweater come when I pick it up and knit awhile and then put her down for days on end. Ariann is a harsh mistress, and wants my full attention. So, even though one day I love the candy pink, and the next day it makes me want to puke, or scratch my eyes out, I am trying to serve her well. While ignoring the come-hither calls of some Noro Kureyon and the Maine Morning Mitts pattern, or the beckoning of Swallowtail shawl in some Schaefer Ann...Ariann owns me now. But I post no pictures of her, as you will only feel sorry for me, when you see what minimal progress I have made, after my one-step-up-two-steps-back phase of last week. Suffice to say, I am not burning up the needles on this project, and it's not Bonnie Marie's fault, either.

Fall is here, and it's cold. Low sixities in the daytime, rain, or feeble sun. Low 50's at night, necessitating closed windows, and a fleece blanket on the bed. Leaves remain mostly green around here, but acorns are falling, and the squirrels are working themselves up into a frenzy. Someone asked me if I'd seen kudzu here, and what did I think of it? I'm stunned by it, by how much of it there is, (and I don't really think GA is deep kudzu country, is it?) It seems to grow on the edge of the forested areas, so it must like sun, and it makes these fantastic sculptural shapes of the trees. Leaves appear in a triad, which upon first viewing, caused me a big panic, when I thought it was a new kind of poison ivy. Closer inspection revealed that while the real poison ivy grows around here, this wasn't it.

I wonder when it was introduced? I think it must have been post-Civil War, and imagine that Sherman didn't see it, as he rolled over Atlanta. I don't especially like it, think it's invasive as all hell, but it does form graceful curtains down from some of our taller trees in the meadow by Nancy Creek.

Unemployment continues, in spite of my efforts, and I'm trying to cheerfully accept this time in my life, knowing that when I start teaching again, I'll feel my ass being worked off, and recall fondly this down time. The long-awaited depression came rolling in last week, and greeted me like an old friend, which, in fact, it was. I'd been expecting it this time, though, and it didn't hit me like a train, but merely caused me to up my quantity of St. John's Wort, lengthen my dog walks and try and keep the house a little cleaner. Which is kind of a "fake it til you make it" approach, but it can work, given patience and perseverance. Wearing my handknit sweaters has helped immensely, I have to say. Another reason to keep grinding away on my harsh mistress, I guess.

I've found myself in a fair number of skirmishes, recently, not all of them my fault, or so I would like to believe. One of them happened on Facebook, as I made a political comment, which provoked a firestorm-y rant from someone whom I shouldn't have friended, because I've also been the subject of her religious rants in the past. I tried to play it down, but for a few days, it really bothered the hell out of me. This person tends to run off at the mouth, and is quite conservative, politically and religiously. She lived down the hall from me in college, when we were both young and silly and while not friends, she was a good acquaintance, who dated a guy I knew and liked. When she appeared on friends' lists, I friended her, having no real reason not to. Or so I thought. Now? not so sure I want to read her ranting and scolding. Yes, we agree to disagree, but lets do it respectfully and try not to involve too much of our personal bitter baggage, no?

When I drew the 9 of swords tarot card today, it hit me that I'd been torturing myself unnecessarily over this interchange. Self-flagellation is not pretty, is it? Nice to be reminded that I am, in spite of worries about what people think, my own spiritual (in a loose use of the term) authority in this world. Again, tarot to the rescue, in unexpected ways. I'm reminded that I hold the tools to break through a lot of what's been bothering me, in the form of meditation, reiki, yoga, and general spiritual pursuits. More time at the altar, and less time on frakkin' facebook are what's called for in my life, I'm well aware.

Felicity is done, and loved. I teeter on the brink of gifting her, and fight the temptation to knit numerous other smalls, but for today, I wear her.
Yes, my cheeks are chipmunky in this picture, aren't they? I like it, though, as it seems to show a smug satisfaction in having knitted such a fabulously simple hat.

It sounds like DisKnit is thinking of leaving The Knitted Brow, to pursue writing elsewhere. I hope she drops by with a farewell post, but who can say? She has a lot on her plate, too.

I am reading The Knitter's Book of Yarn, and it is a fabulously informative book, full of technical information about different yarns, and how they get from animal or plant to knitted garment, and the qualities and taxonomy of yarn in general. There are nice patterns in the book, as well, and more than a few smalls to tempt me, like so many knitting bonbons...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It's 64 degrees inside this morning, and I'm opening the house up, because I'm certain that it's warmer outside! The east coast is having a snap of fall weather, as P said it was cold in DC yesterday. Well it could be that we're just hothouse flowers, transplanted from the tropics, but it does feel nippy, and the Must Have cardigan has finally felt like something other than overkill!

Back when it was warm, aka, last week, I broke out the ice cream maker and whipped up a batch of vanilla ice cream.
Was intending to make a fig/lemon recipe, but my figs were few and not really that luscious, so I satisfied myself by eating them with chevre instead. What we made, this dreamy french vanilla, involving a cooked custard and real vanilla bean, was yummy and consumed with some hot fudge sauce. I have a problem with maintaining the texture of my homemade ice creams; they go a bit icy in the freezer. My research reveals that maybe 2 eggs in the custard are insufficient. Mayhaps 5 or 6 are needed. Yeesh. I saw a recipe that called for 8, suddenly making 5 eggs seem not all that excessive.

Pleased to find another spindler in my knit group. It gives me the motivation to go on with this silly little fascination of mine with making small amounts of inconsistent (ie, Novelty Yarn) and wrecking my wrists in the process. I have spun up all the blue and brown Romney, and am now in the process of plying it, which goes slowly, and with much attendant wrist and elbow soreness. I will post the finished yarn, which I don't think is going to make my hoped-for 200 yards goal.
I do think this roving is really pretty drafted up, and I'm hoping the yarn itself will soften upon washing, as it's a wee bit scratchy now.

Because of the (ahem) chill around here, I started knitting Wanette Clyde's Felicity hat. I had some Cascade Dolce in my stash, and I'm hoping it's enough, since I sized up the needles to #6 and #8. The Dolce is my new true yarn love, soft, shiny and strong all at once. I have never knit a hat I liked, due more to mismatches of pattern and yarn and gauge than any real dearth of good hat patterns out there, but I'm hopeful for this one, as my hat buying days are over, or so I intend them to be.

More coffee is called for at this point.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

fall cleaning and planting

Temperatures are plunging...50's in the morning, and we're supposed to hit the 40's by mid week. Brisk. I actually closed the bedroom windows last night, and allowed the dogs to sleep on the bed for warmth. I found this poplar leaf and dogwood berry on our deck this morning.

Today, tomorrow, the rest of this week is about finishing the unpacking and setting up of my office, finally! I took a room in the basement, a rather large bonus room, to use as a studio/yoga room/office. But it's been the holding space for boxes o' stuff that we haven't gotten to, and enough is enough. I'll still store camping equipment til the shed is built, but am going ahead and setting up part of the space as an office. There's a bed, too, for napping.

I bought 40 mixed daffodil bulbs and 20 purple crocus to set out in the yard. Later, some Hostas and some other perennials will go in, launching my Perennial Landscaping Efforts.

Monday, September 28, 2009

bug du jour

This is what I found out on the deck this morning when I went outside. Not sure what sex it is (Blogless Michelle? Chris?) though I hope it reproduces and spreads all over the area, as they're one of my favorite insects ever. It was sluggish, and so was I, with the weather this morning being overcast and in the low sixties. Fall has come, after days and days of torrential rains that have put Atlanta on the map. Our meadow, featured last week, became ever more flooded, and we discovered a wee leak in our roof, that hopefully, will be repaired under our roof warranty.

Lots of rain means lots of potential mud in our house, and Cricket's paws are testament to how much of his time is spent outside, holding canine smackdowns in the gladiatorial arena that is our backyard, complete with dirt floor. We keep towels by the door, and wipe paws off before they come in, but some mud gets in, anyway, and our carpet is taking on a nice patina of grunge. Hopefully it will spur us to replace it with the dreamed-of hickory flooring, sometime after the kitchen re-do.

I started knitting the Monkey sock a while back ago, in the yarn that my co-blogger DisKnit sent me. It is a good match for our surroundings. A little pooling of the colors, but in a good way. The Monkey is a rather addictive knit, even though I'm no sock knitter. I might actually finish these!

While we're on the subject of knitting, I may as well confess that I'm having some issues with PinkAriann. I've made some ugly, uncentered buttonholes, and inserted some un-called-for decreases adjacent to the buttonband. Then, when I clumsily tried to add back in the missing stitches, with my favored kfb increase, more ugliness ensued. In a less shocking color, in a different part of the sweater, you know me; I'd leave it. I'm notorious for just making errors and following the rule of "It Won't Be Noticed From the Back of a Galloping Horse" which kinda just slides right over the fact that I haven't ridden a horse in 20 years. Nevertheless, I can't take this full-frontal ugliness, so it's being frogged back to just before the buttonholes and I'll proceed from there. I'm gonna proceed with knitting the sleeves, while the frogged ugliness marinates, on the theory that if I finish 2 sleeves, I'll cheerfully repair the body. It IS an enjoyable knit, which is why, no doubt, I soldiered on cheerfully, leaving mistakes in, willy nilly.

This past weekend, P and I endured a 2 hour drive, in a dark downpour to go to Athens, to see The Decemberists, which was a big thrill. I've been a fan of their epic storysongs for a few years, and they have a crazy new album, "The Hazards of Love" that they performed, as a sort of rock opera, in its entirety at the show. Great fun, gorgeous atmospherics, courtesy of a simple backdrop, a smoke machine and lots of good lighting. I'm really happy about the plentitude of musical offerings in Atlanta. Yayness.

Monday, September 21, 2009

back when the sun was shining

Was it last Sunday when the sun last shone? I took a walk with Ella to get some shots of our woods and meadow:
(as always, click on the pic to biggify)

The spiders have been working overtime, this week, to maintain rain-damaged webs. This is a pretty one.

The notorious yellow daisy, of festival fame. Our meadow is full of these flowers.

I like the quiltlike pattern of this golden leaf, a harbinger of the fall to come.

Nandina berries. They should turn red or orange in a couple months.

We've had a few days, since last Tuesday, really, of heavy rains, thunder and lightning. Today, unpacking a box, I stumbled on a bag of nicely dyed Romney roving. Very rough, almost felted, but so beautifully dyed that I'm back to spinning it up, anyway. I'll ply it and see what comes of it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


It's the little things, isn't it? Even not working, I love the weekends.

Today, we went to the Yellow Daisy Festival, at Stone Mountain Park. Which I thought would be fabulous, and maybe would have, if not for the fact that every one else in north Georgia had the same idea. Plus, I did not know it would cost $10 to park at Stone Mountain. And didn't know it, til we'd braved horrendous traffic to get to the entrance. The festival was free, though, with music and people watching, some of it irritating, as it was a real draw for families with ginormous strollers to amble through the sweaty crowds. I didn't have much money, and having just unpacked a house with far too much of my stuff, didn't feel the need to buy much more. I did get some nice hand-dipped beeswax candles, and some lavender and spearmint soap. But all in all, the Yellow Daisy Fest has demystified itself for me into a never-to-be-repeated experience.

Strangely, there ARE yellow daisies that grow everywhere here. I have never seen this variety, and knew only the classic white-with-yellow-center oxeye daisy.

I finally remembered to take a pic of our house. Here it is, the Atomic Lodge.
Note the flat roof, and the multilevels. It's almost always this dark overcast shady look, here, which can be a bit disconcerting, except that it adds to the cool, and the light coming in the windows is rather green, due to all the trees. I am dreading the leaf fall, a little bit, and wondering if it might just be a matter of letting them fall where they may and just raking them off walkways and grass, but in the back, leaving them to mulch themselves out? Still trying to decide a final answer, but I know one thing...those leaves are coming down! I read somewhere that a mature poplar tree may have 20,000 leaves on it. Yikes. Deciduousness is exhilarating. I do know that I will love the winter light, it was one of my favorite things in Arlington, when all the leaves were down, and our house was luminous inside, due to the sunshine, that we never saw during the summer months.

And a gratuitous Cricket shot:One of the things we are learning in the new class we're taking, is to send the dog to a spot and have them hold their place with distractions. He is watching Ella playing frisbee with P, and was extremely distracted, but held his stay really well. When I released him, he was so intent on watching the frisbee action he didn't even hear my release word! The training is fun, and is helping me to be less frustrated with my crazy dog. Meanwhile, Cricket is already more manageable, and I feel a better bond with him. In our earlier moves, I always took classes with Ella, upon arrival at the new place...she seemed to fall apart as badly as Cricket upon changing venue. She is a little crazy right now, still, but I'm trying to concentrate on the dog who is a danger to himself and others, so it's Crick who's getting the formal training. Ella goes on the fitness walks and we're mostly managing her craziness with some at-home obedience work and exercise. She seems a lot younger, here. I think she likes the woods and all the swimming.

Friday, September 11, 2009

muscadines and scuppernongs

These showed up in our CSA box the other day. A few days before that, driving around up in the mountains, we stopped by a little roadside market, and I saw a basket of the green ones. Had no idea what they were, and gave them a sniff. Once I smelled them, I was able to identify them, because a friend in Hawaii, Mel, had given me some muscat-scented tea.

They are a native American grape, with an intense fruity smell. The skins are thick and a little bit sour, and they have seeds, 2-4 in each fruit. Supposedly they have crazy amounts of antioxidants and super phyto properties that immediately turn your life around and make you a better person. I am eating them, and actually loving them. I think part of what I love is their appearance, they're so pretty, with that bronzy yellow-green nestled up against the reddish black. Purple n' green, my favorite colors, but with an earthy twist.

In the wake of the destroyed smaller digital camera, I'm back to using ol' clunky again. I should dig out the manual and try and figure out how to actually maximize its capabilities. I'm trying to take more pictures, and am wondering if something like Project 365 would inspire me, or just feel like a horrible burden? Has anyone done this? Were you able to keep up with it?

My main project for today is just to keep working on the house, cleaning and organizing. I can't believe what a beast moving is. I should know from experience...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

k-brow: summer into fall

It feels like fall here, even though I'm told that fall is a lengthy process in Georgia, and the temperatures are still in the 80's. But the nights are cool and crisp, and yesterday, I saw some ripe fallen acorns on my walk with Ella, so I can hope, and look forward to a change of seasons, at last.

Pink Ariann progresses enjoyably. The color is not growing on me, but I like the rhythm of the stitch pattern, and the Cascade, never a favorite yarn of mine, is knitting up nicely, and is squishy and cooperative. I feared for its future, for a few days this weekend, as I was so ambivalent about its color, all of a sudden. But now, Bonnie Marie Burns' elegant pattern writing has taken over, and I'm enjoying the knit. I may overdye it, though, when all is said and done.
Here's a progress shot, though admittedly, I am quite a bit farther along than this one, of several days ago.

My old companion, episcleritis, the nasty eye inflammation, has resurfaced again, with a red, swollen right eye. I went to a new opthamologist today, one who proved to be extremely nice. We talked about possible causes, having ruled out, in HI, all the usual associated suspects of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and tuberculosis, Chron's disease, etc. He remarked that it was his suspicion that it was triggered by stress and anxiety, and that once activated, was hard to banish completely from the body. Maybe so. I'm on another round of steroid eyedrops, which provided immediate relief, though I'm to take them for another 15 days, then we'll see what happens.

The Nuuanu house has not yet sold, though we have had some recent interest in it. There are some problems that have also surfaced, as a result of the Federal appraisal process, that we have to address, that I won't go into here. I'm trying not to angst too much about it; I loved the house, but just really want it sold now, and want to have only one mortgage, asap. It appears we may not completely lose our shirts over the damn thing, but whether we sell it to the Feds or to a private buyer, remains to be seen. Anxiety and stress? Not me...

When I went to the Olde Country, one of the things I brought back down with me was a big box of homegrown tomatoes. We've been eating gazpacho, toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches, and that most delightful of summer treats; the caprese salad. Thick slices of dead-ripe tomato, topped with a slice of fresh buffalo mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped basil. Yum. This dish really only works at home. The times I've ordered it in restaurants, it's never as good, the tomatoes never as ripe, the flavors somehow flat. It's a rare treat. I am coming to the end of those Virginia tomatoes, though I have a box of wee yellow cherry tomatoes from our CSA that should do nicely for a chopped version of the same. The CSA isn't the one I wanted to join, here; that one must be joined at the new year. This one is fine, for now, and we've been enjoying weekly surprises in the box. This week brought some mixed potatoes and beets, fresh peanuts, apples, lettuce, a bell pepper, and muscadine and scuppernong grapes. The grapes are deserving of a blog post in and of themselves, though, so I won't elaborate much on them here, other than to say that they are native American grapes that bear no resemblance to anything I've ever eaten in my life. More on them later.

Our house is taking shape, slowly. The kitchen is too small, but I've rigged up the florescent lights on top of the cabinets, and now it is light. I'm enjoying cooking again, and am trying to focus on summer produce, which is easy to do here, with so much coming in. I'm still knitting with the local knit group, at the cute little cafe in Roswell. Nice to connect with other knitters. I still have avoided all LYS, but am planning some hats and mittens knit from stash. I realized, going through my closet, that I have a fair number of sweaters, and perhaps should knit some smaller items. I've been recently inspired by Gay's focus on the smalls, little projects that can be quickly completed. My Ravelry queue is growing!

One more episode of "True Blood" before the season ends. I'm not sure what will rush in to fill the void...maybe I'll take up "Dexter" again. I left him midway through season 2, and am curious to see what he's been up to...I am loving True Blood so much! (Warning: spoilers ahead) Just when I think it's gone over the top, and I'm starting to disconnect from it, something marvellous happens, like Godrick's departure, or that wacky and thoroughly likeable vampire queen shows up. This show is such a pleasurable escape.

I've been spending too much time on Facebook and on Goodreads, too, and am going to have to re-activate Leechblocker or some other such timesuck prevention measure, I think. Both have re-connected me to friends in real life, though, so I hesitate to be too terribly draconian about them.

My bed, and the latest book, More Than It Hurts You call to me. I have to kick the dogs off though.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

k-brow: moth and owl and little else

Last week, I saw a fluttering in the backyard. I thought it was a small bird, and went out to investigate, and found this guy:
I put him up on the side of the house for a better shot. It's a Tuliptree Silkmoth, a male. Callosamia angulifera by any other name. Handsome, no?

We also heard a Barred Owl, last night, verified with the iPhone birdcall application. Very cool. I'd heard screech owls in the area, a few weeks ago, but was thrilled with "who, who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?" call of one of my favorite owls.

I wish I had happy news to share about Pink Ariann...I couldn't figure out which size to knit. I'm torn between a 38 and a 40, and have a track record of knitting sweaters too big for me. My front porch is size 38, but I wanted some ease, but didn't want to swim in it. I cast on for the 40, but was knitting in on #6 needles, to reduce its size a scooch. But alas, the fabric I was getting was just too stiff. I hadn't swatched (I know, I know...) but Chris convinced me that maybe I needed to stop all this dithering and start with a swatch. I did so on #7's and got gauge, as I knew I would. I think I'm gonna knit the 38. It's lace of a sort, and will open up a bit, I think.

So back to casting-on couch.
Progress pix tomorrow, I hope!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

k-brow: a pink sweater in the making

What a drama queen I am. Laying out a big "this is how it's gonna be" post, and then running off to VA and not blogging for a solid week. Apologies to all who might have been waiting for the "more blogging" I suggested. Pah!

Thank you for all the nice comments. I appreciate the openness and support of my people! To Acornbud, Blogless Michelle, Chris and Opal...I miss you more than I can say, and in so many different ways. I feel very blessed to have such dear friends in Hawaii. May, I'm sorry we didn't know each other longer, in the face-to-face realm. I will definitely be following your art and whatever else you put up in the world. Chelsea and Mokihana, thanks for the encouragement. I feel like I know you both in person, dear blogsisters.

To DisKnit; you are always welcome to post here, I will leave you up as co-author, though I won't be miffed if you don't post. I have other means of keeping track of your adventures. I know you're busy; inside the Beltway has a way of eating one's life. Mayhaps you'll come south for a visit?

So, I ran off to the Olde Country for a week, flying into Lynchburg, VA, visiting my mom, visiting a very old friend for too short a time, hanging with my sis, eating chili dogs, shopping for yarn, ( I bought NOTHING!!) picking blackberries, and in general, relaxing and enjoying being off the grid. I took the small Canon camera, fully intending to document the trip, but upon arrival in VA, discovered that I'd broken it! The view screen on the back of the camera doesn't work anymore, and shows fragmented images. It may still take pix; I was so horrified at the event, I just shut it off and put it in my bag. I have to investigate getting it repaired, as it belongs to P, who doesn't use it, but still...I loved that little camera. So no pix of the dinner-plate size mushrooms growing in my mom's neighbor's yard. No pix of the gorgeous wayside flowers, or the beautiful Virginia countryside. Nor of my sister and her friend, nor of the incredible mountains of North Carolina, on my drive back down to Georgia. Just fond memories.

I have to say, the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee just kick ass. They are so much bigger than the Blueridge along the Shennandoah Valley. I was amazed by them, and really enjoyed my drive back home! The new truck, my dad's 2004 Toyota Tacoma, is just great, tackling the steep hills bravely and not guzzling too much gas.

I'm home, now, and it's in the mid-60's outside, and overcast. I am cold, and am wrapped up in Lady Eleanor, and drinking wine, in the papasan chair, which is my indoor perch of choice these days. I present to you my outdoor perch of choice:
I've never had a hammock before. It's the most relaxing place to be! But too cold this evening to be out in it. I'm almost tempted to make a fire. We do have wood...

In my last weeks in Hawaii, I hung out a bit with Chris, and we observed that we tended to knit the same things, not always in a deliberate knitalong, but we seemed to have the same knits on our radar as well as on our needles. Klaralund, Lady Eleanor, February Lady, Clapotis...yes, I know, those knits are viral, and everyone knits them. But we decided to do a real knitalong, of Bonnie Marie's Ariann cardigan. Not just a sweater knitalong, but because we both had screaming pink yarns in became a Pink Ariann Knitalong. Today was our official cast on day, and I had intended to blog it earlier and call all and sundry to join in, but as you see, it's come to this. I cast on for it this morning, promptly messed it up, and ripped it. I will re-cast on just as soon as I finish this post, which was also on my to-do list today. So, if you want to burn some pink yarn in stash, or just want to knit Ariann with us, jump right in. No rules, no deadlines, nothing but sweet, cherry-bubblegum pink knitting. I wound up 6 yarncakes this morning. This is Cascade 220, purchased for $4.00 per skein at Ben Franklin's, back in the spring, making this an affordable indulgence. I like Bonnie Marie's designs. I don't know why I was unable to count this morning on my original set-up row for this sweater. I think with this glass of wine and the evening's coziness, I'll make a better start.

Monday, August 24, 2009

k-brow: saying what needs to be said

Worlds Collide, or This Entry Has No Pictures

I haven’t blogged in awhile, except for backdated entries in an attempt to make some acknowledgement of the passing time. Now, as I try to compose an entry and get back into the habit, some thoughts come to mind. This entry is for me, mostly, but want it here in The Knitted Brow, as a reminder of sorts.

I’m making the transition to life in the Urban Forest/Glop fairly well. Urban Forest is the term I gave, back when I was living in Arlington, to those places we’ve always made it a point to live; wooded areas adjacent to a large city. The more wildlife, nature spirits and trees, the better. “Glop” was a term I borrowed from Marge Piercy’s book “He, She, and It,” that lovely dystopia. It is used to describe urban sprawl, specifically all up and down the East Coast. Let’s say from Boston down to Miami, all linked by freeway. In Piercy’s book, the Glop was solid urban sprawl, and one needed to take a bullet train to get through it, but here and now, we’re still dependent on the dinosaur ooze of fossil fuels.

So. Transition. Living in the house I’ve come to call the Atomic Lodge, due to its 60’s modern construction, redwood ceilings, and woodsy setting. All our stuff’s been delivered from Hawaii, and we are in the process of unpacking, putting away, weeding out, and throwing away, giving away, wishing away. I purged personal possessions in Nuuanu before the move, but am feeling the need to continue that process, in this different house, with less space for storage. Everything is being re-evaluated, its value, useful or sentimental, weighed. The space issue, and the fact that we are looking at a probable kitchen renovation in the coming year, make the purge a good thing. Let’s face it, P and I have a lot of stuff. Some of it could use a new home.

So here, at the end of a summer in which I’ve mostly been alone, mostly been working on breaking down or setting up housekeeping, I’ve come to realize that in doing so, I’ve spent a lot of time on facebook, connecting, re-connecting, and generally defining myself to a hoard of people I don’t see all that often. We’re talking YEARS, kids. It has me thinking about who I really am, and whether this blog reflects that. I don’t give my blog address out to just anybody. Well, since it’s a public blog, that statement isn’t entirely true. But more correctly, relatively few people in my face-to-face life know enough about the blog to find me, unless they hunt me down, via Ravelry or some other such means. It’s not a super-secret blog. It’s a discreet blog. Knitting friends in Hawaii read it and inspired it. (yo, Chris, are you reading? Please read me!) DisKnit reads or doesn’t, but of course, is welcome to contribute. My sister reads. And a whole host of blogfriends, some of whom I’ve met through the blog read it. That said, I’m a pretty private person. I do not desire to share my ramblings in cyberspace with family beyond my sibling, who knows it all anyway. I want to reserve the freedom to write of things that strike my fancy, without fear of evangelism, argument, or judgement, no matter how evangelical, argumentative or judgemental my own entry may be.

In my facebook life, I re-connected with a lot of very Christian friends. I do not define myself as Christian, though, for a pagan, I would say that I am very Christian-friendly. I like Jesus, I like churches, I like a lot of Christian liturgy. I won’t take the Christian label because I do not believe Jesus is the one and only savior of the world and people’s souls. I cannot accept that my acknowledging and honoring other gods and goddesses, an alternate spirit world, and non-Christian practice is going to damn me to hell. This is one thing people need to know and accept about me, and it’s been the hardest thing to share with folks from my Olde Country, high school and past. Truth be told, I always had pagan leanings, and finding other people, books and groups to practice with felt like coming home in a way that nothing else ever has. Even as I define myself as “solitary pagan,” I would say that I enjoy meeting and celebrating with like-minded folk in a circle is delightful, and something that I hope to find here.

On religion, though, if you are family, or of a fervent evangelical nature, I would say I’m of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” persuasion. Moving back into the Bible Belt has me feeling like I just need to put that thing out there on the blog.

I write all this down because I’m trying (if thinking about it and composing entries in my head is trying) to get back into the habit of blogging, and due to a dearth of knitting content, am considering a re-format of sorts. I don’t want a separate blog. I have readers, The Knitted Brow is all tangled up as part of my identity, and I have too much going on to maintain multiple blogs. So as Aunt Pam said, so many months ago, I’m still trying to drop it down, here, without fear of backlash.

I’ve been meeting with a little knitting group, the past couple of weeks at a lovely coffeehouse in the Roswell area. It’s helped take the sting off missing the Aloha Knitters and the splinter groups I knitted with. As with any new endeavor, the challenge becomes one of figuring out how much to share, while continuing to maintain one’s identity, which is ever-changing in the new homeland.

So…dear reader, if you’ve always read me, read on! I hope to be here more often, with whatever comes to mind; knitting, dogs, domestic pursuits, spirituality, creativity. Be forewarned, there might not always be pictures. I’ve been so hesitant to blog, at times, because I don’t have photos to illustrate the entry, and I’ve recently heard and read a couple of remarks made by folk who didn’t seem to be too happy about blog/forum entries that lacked pix. This particular corner of cyberspace is for ME, and sometimes, there aren’t pictures. I’m just sayin’.

Also, if you read something that offends you, rest assured that: (1) it’s my space, my party (okay, DisKnit’s too) and I’ll say what I want to, and (2) I like to write, unedited, at times, and am a woman who changes her mind with amazing frequency. So if you don’t like it, click on outta here, but if you come back, you might find me taking an entirely different tack on things.

All that out in the open. Feel free to comment, or not. Of course, like all bloggers, I’m a bit of a comment whore. Not a very good one, judging from my comment history, and not always good about leaving the comments in other blogs I read. But we’re all trying.
More interesting content to follow.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

k-brow: an open letter to Nu'uanu

Dear Nu'uanu,
I fell in love with you the day we met. I was intrigued by the idea of living for a time in Hawai'i, as I had never really considered even as a vacation spot; preferring the less expensive, though farther flung locales of Bali, Java, and Sumatra.

Somehow, after a week's vacation, and househunting, I stumbled upon your cool valley, with the lush green banyans, and mists pouring down over the Pali. When the rest of the island was hot, you still offered morning rains, and gentle breezes. Most of the time. I am forgiving and forgetting the howling nights of wind, and screens blown out of the window in the dining room, time after time. I will also forget the standing water in our yard and the mold growing on the furniture, not to mention my Birkenstocks.

Now that it's time for me to take my leave of you, I know you've been slyly showing me your best, with a wink, as if asking me, "Are you sure you're really ready to give me up?" Y'know, Nu'uanu, sometimes, I just don't know.

It's hard to leave a friend, especially one who's seen you through some of your hardest days, as well as your best ones. You were there, as my home, the day I found out, so shortly after moving here, that my friend Christie had died. You were here to return home to, each day, after I fled what was surely the most frustrating job I've ever had. You housed us generously, and were here, the day we brought baby Cricket home from the airport, feral and un-housebroken.

You brought me friends, other residents of your valley, who appreciated your charms. You also ensured that I wasn't ever alone in my house, bringing me hordes of rats, centipedes, roaches and a mongoose. Not to mention an army of toads, geckoes, anoles and skinks. My guests complained that they were unable to sleep through your symphony of doves each morning. But why would anyone want to sleep through one of your slow, sweet dawns?

So, dear Nu'uanu, I take my leave of you. I cherish the memories, and hope I return often to visit. Take care of yourself, dear cool, breezy valley.

So much love,


Saturday, July 18, 2009

k-brow: dog and distraction

I like this picture of Ella, who looks like she's laughing.

Sometimes I feel as if I am too tangled up, energetically with my dogs, more so than is healthy. I've done ritual work with them in mind, put hours into their training and care, and worry about them, more often than not. But as Acornbud would say, it is what it is, and so we continue. I think this picture of the shadows shows how enmeshed we are as a pack.

Friday, I shipped Cricket to Atlanta. All week, I'd been worrying about it, dreading the moment when I would put him in his crate, and watch him be hauled off to the belly of the plane. Cricket has traveled before, and done very well, but it doesn't lessen the worst-case-scenario thinking, and the general sadness of being parted from my dog.

I had groomed him, clipped his coat, applied tick and flea meds, taken him to the vet for his rabies shot and travel health certificate. The night before he was to go, I took he and Ella to the Nuuanu schoolyard for a long run, in the beautiful evening light. I gave him lots of reiki the evening before, and just spent some time telling him about his journey, how it was gonna be. The day of the trip, we took an hour long walk, well before he was to leave, so he'd be tired, but cooled down for the travel.

I'm happy to report that Delta Cargo's Pets First program does well with dog shipping. The people at the airport were incredibly nice, to me and to my prickly dog. They let me keep him out of the crate til time to take him away, were concerned about his height and head safety in the crate I had for him, and were even jovial when he displayed a bit of temperamental alam when a guy bumped into him with a box. They bumped me up a crate size, from extra large to giant size. It was a crate big enough for me to ship in. His head still was close to the top of the crate. Cricket is a tall dog with a long neck. Bystanders were commenting on the enormity of the poodle. I think when folks hear the word "poodle," a small white yappy dog comes to mind. Something in a tutu, perhaps.

Then, when they came to take him away, he began to bark, not hysterically, but just repeatedly. I cried a little and wished him well and godspeed. They wouldn't let me watch him board the plane, (I couldn't go out to the passenger area at the regular airport where the plane was parked, about 1/2 mile away) but I waited at the cargo bay, and they told me when he was boarded. It was a beautiful, cool, overcast, breezy day, perfect for shipping a dog who suffers in the heat.

Then to console myself, I went to Savers and did some thrift shopping. Scored some shirts and a sweater. I came home, played with Ella, who seemed mystified that I'd spent the whole damn day with her packmate and rival, only to returned home without him, carrying a bunch o' stinkin thrift store clothes. I explained to her about cashflow therapy, and how a flattering glitter Roxy t-shirt can erase a lot of worry for a short time. Later, I gathered up my wine, chocolate and knitting and drove over to Chris's house for further distractions. We ate creamy brie, sushi, drank wine, knitted on our respective February Ladies, and discussed all things Harry Potter. Her husband came home, and we discussed Dexter. Hey, I have obsessions for everyone!

So I headed out to come home around 11:30pm. I went out to my car, opened the passenger side door to put in my knitting, and glanced across the car at the drivers seat, where I just happened to see...a huge centipede ambling slowly around exploring the seat. I shrieked, Chris shrieked, we stared in horror, and I sent her to go get the spouse, (like he was going to bravely fight the 'pede) and he came out and stared in horror, too. We were transfixed for a minute or so, and decided we had to get it out of the car, but it was dark, and there were so many places it could slither off to, if it were frightened. Believe me, I was NOT going home with that centipede in the car. It must've been 6 inches long.

Finally, I took a ziplock bag I had, screwed up my courage, and put it over my hand, and quickly reached out and grabbed it. I turned quickly to hurl it out into the yard, and hit Chris, who was standing behind me, looking over the shoulder. She screamed. I screamed. Fortunately, I did not let go of the 'pede. Then I threw him down, and dispatched of him quickly. Yeeeesh. If I had sat on him he'd have bit me. If I'd been driving, and he crawled on me, I'd have had an accident for sure.

Got home, showered, and went to bed, but I was too angsty to sleep, so I read, til P called at 1:00am to let me know that Cricket was safely in Atlanta. Ahhhhhh...

Such a day.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

k-brow: party time

Last Saturday, Acornbud had a get-together of some friends at her house on a rainy, misty day. A nice gathering, up in the Dowsett Highlands of Nu'uanu. We just hung out at her house all eve, with margaritas, grilled meat and veggies, heavenly salads and decadent dips and then Lilikoi brought some tequila-lime cupcakes. As vegan as I am not, the offerings from that cookbook "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" continue to thrill me. Anyway, it was a great time, one of the memories of Hawai'i that I will cherish. Here are some pics. I am a lazy photographer, so they are just random things: (as always, click to biggify)

It was off and on rainy and cloudy, and really pretty cool when there was a breeze. I love these clouds. I'm enamored of the juxtaposition of white-grey-blue these days.

Here's the patio behind her house. It's lush and green, with old mosses growing up between the stones.

Acornbud has some crazy orchids blooming on her patio. This one is all curly and convoluted. I will miss the very commonplaceness of orchids, when I move to the mainland, and I think they'll be a plant that I'll actually try and have in my new house. I've always grown things like pothos, spider plants, cactus, etc. but here I haven't bothered to have houseplants, except for the occasional orchid, which lives its blooming life indoors and then goes outside when it goes dormant.

Party girls (counterclockwise from left) Teri, Barbara, Maureen, Opal, and Dayna. I think Maureen and Opal are pointing at the flowers, but they might just be debating something else.

There was also knitting. I am still slugging along on FLS, and her neverending sleeve. I say sleeve, because we aren't even at the second one. I am just finishing up #1 now. I will buckle down and finish this sweater to wear on the plane, I must finish this sweater to wear on the plane! But just as a backup, I have Clapotis, which is serving magnificently as a bed blanket on these breezy nights.

Friday, July 10, 2009

k-brow: empty house

The movers have come and gone, and now I am living in a mostly empty house, getting geared up for the final push of this transfer of my life, from the islands back to the east coast. I like being in the empty house, surprisingly. Without all my stuff around, I find myself breathing, gazing at the surrounding beauty of the valley, really catching the cool misty breezes. Very nice.

An update on the headache sitch…I had my visit with the Kaiser neurologist on Wednesday. Or, as my mom calls it, the “neurosurgeon.” The neurosurgeon prescribed me a powerful new migraine med called Maxalt. I have to say, I’m pleased with it, having already had the opportunity to try it out. Joy. It’s a melt-on-your-tongue kind of pill, that has a pleasingly minty/bitter taste. Fast acting, good-tasting; what more can one ask? Neurologist doc was very nice, giving me all sorts of practical advice for handling the migraines and the tension headaches.

I’m now without reliable internets, though I can steal from a very slow wireless network somewhere in this ‘hood, I’ve found. Its very pokiness and wavering signal make reading blogs and socializing on Facebook difficult, though, and I’m only really using it for email. Good for me to take the internet diet. I have no patience with slow networks, so I won’t be waiting around for this one.
Cool and rainy seems to be the order of the day today. I breakfasted on papaya, and am gonna inflate my aerobed and try and catch a few more z’s.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

k-brow: turning energy around

True to form, Hawai'i is delivering the perfect summer weather that makes me want to stay here forever, or at least until my 4-seasons soul starts longing for winter. Perfect clean mornings, washed by the nighttime rains. Soft breezes scented with plumeria.Yellow flowers that can't help but make me smile. A lot. Though I'm still embroiled in getting ready to move, and am delaying my days of beach lounging this week until after Friday, there's that promise, too.

I think I'm about to turn a corner, finally, in this packing, though it's the little stuff that remains, and little things can be daunting, too. Still, I'm enjoying the solitude, the little excursions to dump recycling, go to Goodwill, run the dogs. The Nu'uanu schoolyard has been utterly empty, mowing has ceased, and so the grass and clover have been lush, making it an altogether pleasant place to hang out with dogs.

I've knit so little in recent days. The mojo has departed, which is unfortunate, though I can only guess that it'll return after all my furniture is gone and I have no tv. Then I'll have to take it to a cafe, I guess. Though I am saving our most comfortable camping chair to stay here with me, and it looks like I'll be around until at least the 25th, due to contractor slowness. That's okay. I don't mind. I've got FLS to finish, a scarf that is a gift for my dogs' sitter, the long-missing-shoulda-been-finished-by-now Neapolitan second sock, and the Simple Yet Effective Shawl, and the Cursed Koigu Chevron Scarf to finish. All, except for FLS, small projects that pretty much fit into one little bag, and will do me until September or so, when my stash and Earthly Possessions return to me in Atlanta

Megan gave me a loaf of homebaked sourdough a couple of days ago, and I've been pretty much living off it. So much for La Vida Low-Carb, which will have to wait til Atlanta. This bread is amazing, and I have been just eating it with unsalted butter, for the most part, with the occasional cornichon pickle or slice of feta. I've never tried baking sourdough before, preferring the dense, honeyed whole wheat offerings of the Tassajara Bread Book, but this bread makes me wonder if that's a direction I want to explore... A perusal of Megan's blog (check out those Day Geckos!) reveals that she's done a lot of trial and error experimentation to get this fabulousness. Still, yum.

I'm trying to turn some energy around here, today, by getting as much extraneous stuff out of the house as possible. Old towels going to the Humane Society, a recycling run, more stuff to Goodwill, bulky things kicked out to the curb for the trash guys to get this week. I think, as more stuff flows up the steps and off the property, the packing will flow. I've written in the past about this place being kind of an energetic sink, it's at the bottom of a very steep hill, where things can flow in, but don't always cycle out, mostly because one needs to carry them up the 31 steps to get them out. It has made it hard to be motivated to purge. My own energy is up, though, and in spite of a low-key headache, which I think will unwind with exercise, (though not necessarily heavy lifting) I feel like I can face it today.

Friday, July 03, 2009

k-brow: shoyu eggs

When P and I were traveling in Indonesia, years ago, we used to eat a lot of Padang food. Padang is a style of meal, where the foods are served in many little dishes, curries, sambals, fried rices, etc. One of my favorite Padang dishes is the curried egg. An egg is hard boiled, then peeled and cooked again in the curry sauce. I've made these curried eggs, and they are quite wonderful, but I didn't want to make curry, in this heat, so I made some shoyu tamago. Or maybe it's tamago sauce eggs:
This treat couldn't be simpler. Hard boil and peel 4 eggs. Mix together the following ingredients:

2Tbsp shoyu
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp grated ginger
pinch of cinnamon
1 Tbsp rice vinegar or mirin
1/2 cup strong green or black tea

My own recipe was really more or less to taste. One needn't be so precise.

Put the peeled eggs in a ziplock bag and pour the sauce over them. Zip it up and set it all in a bowl. Turn it occasionally to ensure even distribution of the sauce. Let marinate for 24 hours. Or however long you can wait. Then take out, slice and eat. Yum.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

k-brow: bucking up

I am cooking up a big pot of dog stew in the kitchen: soft meaty pork neck bones, chicken hearts and gizzards, mung beans, barley, celery and sweet potatoes. In my efforts to eat up all the food in the house, I'm having to actually shop for food to complete recipes and meals. Meh. It's stretching my kibble out, anyway. I love cooking for my dogs. When the high-end kibble that I typically feed my dogs started basically doubled in price from what I'd paid for it on the mainland, I realized that there was no obstacle to my going out, shopping the farmers markets and Chinatown, and cooking up stews and brews for my beasts. Everything that comes here by boat, in a container, is expensive. Local (or local-ish, in the case of chicken and pork) is fairly affordable.

It's been a tough week. Last week, as we were gutting out the rotted wood in the bathroom, we found live termites crawling up and down the doorframe. I'd hoped to avoid this scenario, particularly as these guys were identified as subterranean termites, as opposed to drywood termites. Our house had been fumigated for drywood 'mites and we had a warranty for that type of treatment. Naturally, this particular infestation wasn't covered by warranty. Arrgh. Another spendy step on the road to selling this house!

Social insects fascinate me.

The 'mites, the continued rat trapping, (which has been successful, I suppose) and endless grind of sorting, purging, packing and cleaning, without feeling like I've yet turned a corner, is a grind. The corner will come, soon, I think, as we resume some contracted work later this week. Lacking a corner, combined with the endless chipping away, has made me sad. The sadness has been layered with the sadnesses of deaths, hither and yon. The passing of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson - icons of my teen years, the death of a dear friend of my mother, last week, and today, the passing of Jake, Reya's beloved gold puppy... Death draws lines, divides our lives into eras. The "before" and the "after" phases.
I want sweetness, light, gentle healing, for my mother, my friend, myself.
I want this:

Honey At The Table

It fills you with the soft
essence of vanished flowers, it becomes
a trickle sharp as a hair that you follow
from the honey pot over the table

and out the door and over the ground,
and all the while it thickens,

grows deeper and wilder, edged
with pine boughs and wet boulders,
pawprints of bobcat and bear, until

deep in the forest you
shuffle up some tree, you rip the bark,

you float into and swallow the dripping combs,
bits of the tree, crushed bees - - - a taste
composed of everything lost, in which everything lost is found.

- Mary Oliver

I keep my pictures on iPhoto as a screensaver for our desktop computer. The other day, I walked into the office, after the termite discovery fiasco, to see the unexpected picture of my dad on the screen, looking particularly sassy. The shot had been taken the day we moved from Virginia; we'd stopped by my parents' house to spend the night before we drove west. The old man seemed to be saying "buck up" and after the momentary stunned gasp (I so am not prepared to see his face these days, and yet, I cannot remove him from the screensaver - I need this) I guess I bucked up. It's advice that keeps coming 'round. Reya says people are resilient, even as she survives the most awful loss imaginable to a dog lover. I hope to be. Resilient. I embrace the creaking-yet-lively Ella, and savor the moment, her sweetness. She moves away and asks "where's my ice cream?" Dogs are so in the moment, really.

I pine for the pines of Georgia, for the reunification of my primary pack, all under one roof again. For closeness to my family. And I mourn, in advance, already, for the goodbyes that are coming up.

Bucking up here, as best I can.