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...