Sunday, July 22, 2012

a rainy week

I am loving this week of daily thunderstorms and somewhat cooler (high 80's) temperatures. Yes, it's true that my driveway and front steps are now too slick to walk upon without risking life and limb, but the grey skies suit my mood. This morning it is sunny, though, and I'm thinking that our dark n' stormy week is at an end.

At an end, as well, is the Tour de Fleece, with my best result being this lovely fiber. It is the knittyandcolor superwash merino, that was a joy to spin, and has me wanting to make some socks from it - just under 300 yards of super soft sportweight, so I could get away with some short socks I think.
I am now spinning up 8oz of Herdwick fiber, dyed in an indigo sig vat - that is, using naturally sourced ammonia. In other words - traditionally fermented with urine. I found this fiber on Etsy, quite by accident, and was so curious I had to order it. It doesn't stink, other than a slight vegetal smell, but it is a very scratchy wool. But pretty! Pics to come later. 

Some recent finish object success in the form of the Deep Sea Flower Dice Bag, a free pattern from Ravelry. I gifted this in the Outlander Clan Beauchamp envelope swap. Noro Kureyon is  so much fun to knit, though I did dissect the skein a little, to get the proper blend of colors - way too many green/blacks for my tastes in this skein. 

And a dreamy violet-hued dishcloth for the soap and cloth swap on Ravelry. This is the run of the mill Lily Sugar n' Cream cotton that I seem to have so much of. I do like the colorway a lot. I love that swap - a dishcloth is knit up in just a day or so, and getting a package in the mail with some fancy soap is always a big thrill! 

Little else going on. I am still living La Vida Low-carb, which is fine as long as I eat enough and have enough available things to snack on; veggies, hummus, etc. I don't really miss the bread, but I am missing my easy oatmeal breakfasts! Bacon helps to take the sting off that, though I'm not sure how much my thick-cut, locally sourced bacon is helping my weightloss cause...I have dropped a couple of pounds, and have added hills (there are a few in my neighborhood) to my dog walks, at least for the powerhouse Cricket walks, which should burn a few more calories. 

I've been making a very good breakfast, in the form of some sauteed kale, with garlic and lemon juice, topped with a couple of poached eggs and a smattering of parmesan cheese. I used to eat this feast on toasted garlic bread, but it is now bread-free, and still very satisfying. I leave the yolks runny, and mush it all up into a rather ugly but tasty mess. Bacon on the side. 

School starts up in a couple of weeks - classes for me, and I'm still trying to figure out this whole logistics thing of taking 2-3 classes. It looks like I'll have class on Monday and Tuesday nights, with Tiger Mother keeping me on as a tutor Wednesday and Thursdays, and the occasional Saturday. I can probably work as a sub, as well. It will play havoc with my yoga classes, though it looks like GA State has an Iyengar class in the rec center several times a week, and that would be infinitely cheaper than my studio class, if I could time it right. I could also go off the reservation and take a Vinyasa class which is tempting - imagine yoga with music! Iyengar is such a strict tradition in many ways; no music, little emphasis on spirituality, the focus is on alignment and doing things properly, and the teachers can, at times, seem rather harsh. I love my teacher, it might be nice to have a change on the mat. 

Transportation-wise, my plan is to take the MARTA lightrail downtown to classes, and save on parking fees. This should allow for some time to knit, as GA State is about 20-30 minutes away on the MARTA. 

To celebrate becoming a student again, I'm buying a new daypack. I would never have done this, except that I have lost my beloved lavender Jansport pack,  the Scotland splurge, and have looked for it everywhere imaginable; here, at P's place, my mom and sister's houses, etc. It's been missing for 2 years that I can account for, and through all that time, I haven't really required one, but was wanting one badly to use as a bookbag. I can only surmise that it got sent off to Goodwill by accident in some household purge. I searched REI, but couldn't find a reasonably priced daypack that wasn't ugly. I do have some requirements: it must be subtly colored, it must be a panel loader, it must be hydration compatible (ie, hold a Camelback bladder for water) and it shouldn't cost an arm and a leg. I went to thrift stores, but the packs I found were all trashed, or little kids' packs. I'm young at heart, but I don't want a damn Dora the Explorer daypack. SpongeBob, maybe...then I went on Amazon, and was admiring a Kelty pack that seemed to meet all my criteria, and saw that it was available used, in "like new" condition for $29, so I ordered it. Free shipping. I'm awaiting its arrival now. I've bought used items off Amazon in the past with great success, so I'm optimistic. I am half-waiting for the old missing pack to turn up as soon as I get this new one unwrapped, though. Isn't that usually what happens? 

Today is sunny, and I am getting geared up to walk Ella before it gets too hot. I am happy to say that after 3 rats, there have been no others, and I'm calling this battle over, at least for the moment. This day will involve some basement yoga, dog walking, a bit of grilling for the week to come, and then a trip to the movies, to see this: 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

a week from heck

This has been a Most Difficult Week. It started with last week, Tuesday morning, at 6am, down in my laundry room. I was putting in some clothes to wash for my vacation in the DC area, when something raced past me, and scampered behind the washer. A rat, smallish, dark in color. A rat. Seen on the morning that I was departing town for 5 days. I didn't even own a rat trap here in the Atomic Lodge, in spite of all the rat drama I survived in Hawaii. Shit. I was leaving town, a dogsitter was coming by a couple times a day to see my hounds, and I was off in Arlington with my love for a week. Shit. "Okay, you've got 5 days to party, Brother Rat, and then it's all over."

I went on to Arlington, where it was spectacularly, sensationally, insanely hot. Really, GA had nothing on the DC area for stifling, white-skied, 100+ temperatures and swimming humidity. I tried so hard to have a holiday, but it ended up being rather quieter than I'd planned, due mostly to the need to keep cool. People, you know me. I am heat-tolerant. I love the feel of humidity on my skin, welcome the sun's healing fire. But this thing that's been hitting the East Coast the past couple of weeks was bigger than all of us. I saw movies, met friends for breakfast, spindled pretty wool, watched Tour de France recaps, hung out with P, swam in his apartment complex pool, which was like bathwater. One desperate day, we decided not to go outside, in favor of watching the entire first season of The Walking Dead, in one big air-conditioned marathon. Good times, even though I would never define myself as a fan of the zombie apocalypse. One does strange things in this heat.

I came home, and set off to find my rat traps, visiting Lowe's, The Home Depot,  another local hardware store, Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, and finally, the hated Wal-Mart. It was that last place, a desperate bid, that turned up 3 Victor rat traps, which I initially thought might be overkill. I set them that night, and turned up the next morning with a rat in the laundry room trap. Next night, another. Next morning, a third, caught in broad daylight, over by the dogfood. At this point, it ceased to be a humorous thing, and turned into a panic. 3 rats in 36 hours is not a laughing matter. I emailed my friend Mike, a well-known rat killer, in CA, who offered me sympathy, encouragement, and the advice to "keep the rat death machine rolling, whatever you do, do not lose heart."

So I kept setting traps, though there have been no other kills. The week kept on being a series of ups and downs. Badly behaved, disrespectful children at work. Heat, humidity, and a nasty 5 hour stomach flu that I thought would kill me, and then mysteriously departed. Huh...

Through an act of mindlessness, I melted my plastic compost bucket on the stove burner, thus putting that system on hold, temporarily. The garbage men did not pick up my trash, leaving me one rotting rat in the trash can. It got rained on, making rotten rat soup in the can. Nature's Miracle and a lot of baking soda took care of that this morning, after they finally came. I wised up and just pitched the other 2 dead rats out into the woods, allowing for decomposition and the circle of life, but the stink of dead rotting rat is one you don't soon forget.

My dear pagan friend Leah came into town, and we went out and about in Roswell, for negronis and charcuterie at the salt factory, a cool pub in this hot town. That actually was a bright spot in my week, which continued on in its desultory way, culminating in my laptop crashing last night, and temporarily losing all the pictures in my iPhoto library. 8,000 images. Attempts to restore the photos have met with mixed success, and it looks like they are still parked in a file on the machine, and will have to be added back into iPhoto manually. I am not so happy with OS Lion right now. I back up my data pretty regularly, and it shouldn't be a huge crisis, but for a few minutes, I was heartsick.

Leah's advice to me was to join her in a re-read of Pema Chodron's great classic book, When Things Fall Apart, which I think is sound. Now it's Thursday, we've had 2 nights of violent thunderstorms, which have broken the awful heat, but left me a yardfull of sticks to pick up.

Summer's heat and weird schedule, plus the daily Korean rice-and-noodle based lunch my boss makes have served to make all my clothes extra tight, and not in a flattering way. So, in an attempt to avoid the creation of a whole new wardrobe, I've stopped eating bread, rice, noodles, and sugary foods again, revisiting a modified South Beach diet, which always makes me feel more energetic, if not thinner. These days, breakfast is a slice or two of smoked turkey or veggie sausage, a hard-boiled egg, some kind of fruit or leftover vegetable. Lunch is salad, and dinner is something cooked up - tonight it's tandoori chicken legs and grilled yellow squash, because we've got a break in the rain. Last night it was this treat, a grassfed ribeye from Whole Foods, with a decadent baked potato topped with plain yogurt.
Tomorrow is a day off from work, possibly my only Friday off for the rest of the summer, as few of the other teachers want to work. I don't either, but I could use the money.

Tour de Fleece rolls on. Here's my spindling, all plied up. 120 yards of worsted-weight squishiness, some mystery silk/merino from Acornbud. Silvery greens, golds and touches of brown evoke late summer/early fall. Enough for a hat or a cowl, I think.

I am off to grill my chicken legs and walk Ella down to the labyrinth and maybe try and turn this week around before it runs right over me.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

tasting summer

Greetings from Arlington, VA! I am up here, visiting P, and digesting pizza, waiting for the Tour de France coverage to start, while P naps. It is hot, terribly hot, and many folk in the area still don't have power, due to the derecho that whirled through on Friday night. P, because he lives in a concrete jungle, with no trees of any size, only lost power briefly, which is a mercy.

I spent the weekend being quiet and subdued, in Atlanta's 106 degree heatwave. Really, I almost never left the house the whole weekend. Something about 100+ and humidity combined to make a blast outside, and the dogs and I spend our time down in the basement, knitting, cleaning, puttering. I ate easy things like salad and smoothies, and did some Tour de Fleece spinning.
This fiber was a joy to work with, and I'm a little sorry that my wheel is back in GA - now my TdF efforts must be carried out on the trusty spindle, and with some fiber that Acornbud brought to SAFF for us to play with. It's been a WIP for far too long, so I'm glad to get back to spindling it. No real hopes that I'll finish it, but I will post my progress.

Looking forward to visiting with my dear DisKnit, and some pagan friends over the next couple of days, a visit to the National Building Museum, and maybe a walk on Teddy Roosevelt Island, if it's not too mercilessly hot. I also get to go to my interim Mid-Atlantic Kaiser doctor (long story, but I have long-distance health care through 2012) for prescription renewal and grad school immunizations. It looks like I need about 100 shots, and hey, I have only a battered WHO card, that shows the last time anyone stuck me with a needle was for tetanus back in 2003. Hmmmm...hoping to talk my way out of some of them, and wondering how to prove that I've had stuff like MMR, etc. I don't even sport a typhoid scar, though one assumes that by virtue of having grown up in modern day America, and having served in the Peace Corps, I've had all those kinds of shots.

On the knitting front: I find myself in 2 swaps coming due, and so I have a sorta super secret project for an Outlander Clan Beauchamp Envelope swap, plus a pair of Dashing mitts for my friend Leah, and a dishrag for the soap and cloth swap I'm in. All amounting to a lot of work on small, satisfying projects, and a welcome break from the slog that has become the sleeves for Aidez. Which I hope to get done before Ravelympics. Or whatever they are calling this event now.

A couple of pics of summer so far:
The yarn that broke my yarn diet: some Malabrigo Arroyos, purchased at Wyrd Sisters. Too pretty to knit, but I play with it daily. 

Some surprisingly sweet blackberries, found on my Ella walk a couple weeks ago. Funny, last summer, the berries weren't at all sweet, but these were much juicier - recent rains have done them good, I guess. As you can see, i was lucky to find the few ripe ones that weren't already eaten. 

Box turtle, rescued in the road, in Floyd County, VA. I was on a rambling jaunt with my sis, out in the rural reaches of southwestern Virginia, and we came upon this box turtle, just about to cross the road. It was a really sassy turtle, popping out to visit, and very curious. We gave it a little ride to a less trafficked place, and turned it loose; later found out that you aren't supposed to move them away from their territories. oops. Master Naturalist screws up big time. 

I am still feeling a low-key blogging mojo, which I hope I can sustain through the summer.