Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014, the year that was

I've been thinking about this past year for about a month, now, and not really feeling like it was a great year for me. I didn't knit that much, finished very few things, and felt like it was all work and no play. Oh, sure, it beat the hell out of 2013, which with Ella's loss and the death of a friend in October, broke my heart, and 2010 and 2005, and 1986, all of which sucked eggs for various reasons, but really, it felt more like a year in which I started and failed to complete many things.

Upon breaking it down, first as a list of what I did get done, and now, as a month-by-month list, it feels, if not a banner year, at least a year in which I moved in a generally positive direction...
No pix and few links, but a rather comprehensive list of the Big Events of 2014. 

Went to visit Russell Cave Paleolithic site in Tennesee. 
Saw "Gravity." 
I started the ESOL teaching job; a steep learning curve, but it was great to be working in my field, so soon after finishing that certification, and so soon after being told by co-workers that those jobs were really hard to get. I did a lot of training, and a lot of paperwork. 
I painted The Clamcave a wonderful golden apple color, and the ATL got a massive ice and snow storm that paralyzed the city, and gave me a week off from work. 
I started walking Cricket with a muzzle, after some unfortunate dogfights in 2013, which greatly increased my feeling of safety being out and about with him. 

More time off work due to ice and the city being shut down. 
I attended a local Druid Imbolc ritual.
I went on retreat with the knitting guild, way up in the mountains of North Carolina. I got to test my nerve and the CRV's 4wd driving capacity on icy snowy roads. 
I buried myself at work in testing and paperwork, and came home at contract hour every day, because I didn't have to write lesson plans. I went to the gym, baked pot pie, and knitted a lot. I made soap and got more comfortable with the fact that there was lye and hot fat being slung around in my kitchen. 
I traded spinning wheels with a friend, and spent the month spinning on her Ashford Traveller. I missed the Louet, and came to appreciate the Irish tension wheel. 
I buried myself in the Ravelry Outlander Swap annual orgy of crafting, obsessing over Diana Gabaldon's books, and spending more time than was healthy online. 

I went back to teaching, after my 6 weeks of testing children. I found out that I may not have a trailer the following year to work in, and was told I needed find my own space in another teacher's classroom. I did just that, and then learned my trailer was safe...a great lesson in learning to roll with the changes and craziness at my school. 
I baked a spectacular rosemary shortbread. 
My knitters had a special dinner and swap. 
I read Larissa Brown's memorable book "Beautiful Wreck." 
Another Druid ritual, this time for Ostara, held in their beautiful grove, with a simple potluck, and wonderful conversation afterwards.
My dear friends Dave and Dev visited, and we climbed Arabia Mountain, re-connected with another old friend from VA, and generally had a glorious weekend. 

Spring Break!! 
I went to VA to visit P. and see the cherry blossoms in DC. We spent some time at the National Conservation Training Center - P working, and me knitting and hiking. I saw Bald Eagles on their nest. 
I fell in love with the music of The Civil Wars. 
I met up with my long-lost cousin Tony and his partner for an amazing dinner at Cashion's. 
My sister visited, and as usual, we packed "the big box into the little one," with Stitches South, long walks, Jeju Spa, Crayfish Shack, bottle shopping at Tower Liquor, and much extravagant folicking over a 3 day weekend. 
Learned to smoke chicken on the gas grill. 
Bought a used MacBook Air for $200. 

I developed a nasty case of Achilles tendonitis, that made walking painful, and took up 8 weeks of my life. Did a lot of icing my heels, stretching, elevating the legs, and self-PT, and kept it to a manageable level. 
Infused a cucumber vodka, and developed a recipe for cucumber martinis that was life-changingly delicious. Really. I can't wait til spring comes to make this stuff again. 
Celebrated a friend and fellow knitter's 70th birthday, attending her glorious surprise party. 
Ended the school year on a happy note, in spite of having to go an extra few days to make up for the ice and snow days, which I wouldn't have traded off anyway. 
Went away to Gulf Shores Alabama with my mom and the West Virginia cousins for a long beach weekend. Explored funky small towns, bogs and wildlife refuges, fish markets, antique stores and hole-in-the-wall barbecues and cafes all over Alabama en route to and from.
Questioned whether the daily cucumber martini was giving me a drinking problem. Infused another batch. 

Worked another week at school, cleaning out my trailer, finishing the endless pile of ESOL documentation, and attending 2 conferences. 
Went to VA to visit my mom for a few days, and then on up to the DC area to hang out with P, and begin the lengthy process of moving him back down to The Atomic Lodge. 
Started RPG-ing again, in my friend Burdock's weekly Nerd Nite on Tuesdays, via Apple Facetime, resurrecting a character I drew up waaay back in the early 1980's. Reconnected with old friends in the gaming community and generally got in touch with my inner geek girl. 
Did a lot of yardwork. 
Hiked with my girl Mindy on the lovely Johnson Ferry trail, at the Chatahoochee NRA. 
Did not turn on my AC until the end of the month! 
Found a new swimming place for Cricket, but daily swims resulted in an ear infection that took the rest of the summer to clear up. 

Started taking my kayak out again, paddling in nearby lakes and the Chatahoochee river. 
Made goat milk soap, and learned that hot humidity and milk soap curing are two incompatible things. 
Went back to DC to continue the move out. 
Spent a lot of time bonding with VA friends, dedicated 2 days to binge-watching "True Detective." I honestly still can't say whether I loved it, or if it represents 8 hours of my life that I'll never get back. 
Spent a happy birthday with my mom and sister visiting, and going to see The Avett Brothers with P and sis.
Saw the High Museum's "Dream Cars" exhibit, a collection of concept cars - very cool! 
Finished the cucumber vodka, and decided that it was a seasonal drink, and needed to retire til next May. 
Found a raccoon in the front yard! 

Stopped by a yardsale in my neighborhood, en route to work, and found an old Lane cedar chest and a metal hospital cabinet for sale. Loaded them into the GTI and muscled them into my office to hold spinning fiber and miscellaneous office supplies. 
Stopped using shampoo, and switched over to a vinegar and baking soda method of washing my hair. 
Binge-watched 3 seasons of "Girls." Definitely time well spent. 
Started work again, moved to a new trailer and had a lot of drama with my roommate, which eventually resulted in me deciding that I wasn't going to engage in drama with her, and letting a lot of stuff roll off my back. Earned myself the reputation (possibly undeserved) of "extremely laid-back" at my job. 
Spent the entire month at work doing intake and language testing of new students. Met many children who came across the US border unaccompanied, to connect with family members in our community. 
Helped P settle into his new life as retired person. Tried not to engage in drama over the stress of combining our 2 households after 3 years of separation. Generally succeeded. 
Took a class with the Herbalista, and made ragweed allergy tincture. 

Buried myself in work, and experienced much burnout and negativity as a result.
Found a praying mantis on the trailer, and rehomed it into my own yard, where there were more bugs and things to eat. 
Caught the expected school-child crud that lingered on for weeks, not sick enough to take time off, but not well enough to really be at work, either. 
Did a lot of yard work, planting ferns, hostas, laid down some new grass seeds. 
Had a tree service disaster, wherein the tree crew cut down the wrong-damn-perfectly-healthy tree, in addition to the 3 rotted danger-to-the-house trees on the property. Convinced him to waive much of his price for the service, and to do major ivy mitigation work in our back woods property, as well. 
Sprained my pinky toe, an injury which took 6 weeks to heal. An injury which was arguably more painful than dislocating my knee in 2011, because I was not at liberty to spend days in bed, and months in physical therapy, but instead had to ride it out. 

Visited VA, went to the Virginia Fall Fiber Festival with mom and sis.
Went to the AtBot with P and Rox to see the scarecrows.
Picked apples with P up in the foothills. 
Learned to make the baked steel cut oatmeal that defined breakfast for the next 3 months. 
Had a moth scare in my house, which triggered a thorough inspection and fluffing of the yarn stash, but was able to contain it with minimal damage. 
Cricket had his first senior dog check up and got a clean bill of health. 
Saw a deer across the street from our house! 
Took another Herbalista class, this one a benefit for the Herb bus free clinic. Made medicines, teas, and got a lot of valuable information about herbal health maintenance. 
Got a student intern, whom I felt barely qualified to mentor. 
Went to Asheville, NC, to see The Avett Brothers Halloween show. It snowed Halloween night, which was remarkably beautiful, with the juxtaposition of fall leaves and white stuff all around. 

Discovered the glory that is JCT Kitchen restaurant and bar, and their epic fried chicken. 
Did a lot of spinning on my wheel. 
Started buying beer in growlers at local taps businesses. 
Found the best yoga class ever, complete with guided meditation at the end, on a night that worked well for my schedule. Seriously so happy about this. 
Cleaned the house thoroughly, really for the first time since summer. 
Made a terrific Thanksgiving dinner with P. My mom and sis visited for the holiday. 
Spent a great day in South Carolina visiting the SC and New York cousins and my aunt Nicki, who is feisty and wise, at 80something. 
Had our annual Lord of the Rings movie marathon. 
Binge-read a lot of books about Minimalism, and resolved to purge many, many things in the coming year. 

Sent the student intern off for her next placement; a generally positive experience, given both our slammed schedules and work stresses. 
Had 3 admin observations in one week, mostly because they were trying to get them done before 2nd semester. Passed all 3 with good feedback! 
Knitted a lot, though not really for gifts, and little was finished. Winter just feels like time to knit, to me. 
Won a bag of Shetland, and another bag of Merino fibers at Spinning Guild's raffle. 
Saw "The Hobbit." meh. Saw "Interstellar." Wonderful! 
Spent Christmas in VA, a few days of warm weather, hiking and exploring the Shenandoah Valley with P and sister, and good times in my childhood home. 
Visited my Aunt Lucille, a family eccentric.
Visited the AtBot's Garden Lights exhibit. 
Gamed, cooked, and relaxed over vacay, while visioning for the New Year to come. 

That's it. Big innovations included having my husband home again, kayaking again after so many years, the steel cut oats recipe, the cucumber vodka, adopting no-poo routine for the hair, and the new yoga class. I'm looking forward to 2015, and hope to keep the general trend moving in a positive direction. 

Happy New Year! 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

oh what a tangled yoke we weave

Or not. I started Eunny Jang's Tangled Yoke Cardigan, a couple of weeks ago, and was proceeding cheerfully along, on my Asheville trip. I had forgotten to bring my tape measure, but decided to just eyeball measurements. I'm a math teacher, and a lifelong estimator. How bad could it be? Honestly, all my measurements were close to the pattern's recommended sizes, so that part is validating. But upon reading finished project notes, after 8 inches had been knitted, including ALL the boring-but-pretty garter rib on the bottom, I started thinking. (uh-oh, you say, can the analysis paralysis be far behind?) Eunny herself recommends that this sweater be knitted with some positive ease. A bunch of folk who knitted it, mention that it needs zero ease to look its best. I see it, myself, as a "little light layer," to be worn mostly open, or only partially buttoned up. I had started it in a size 42", ostensibly for the positive ease,but I'm notorious for knitting sweaters that end up too big/sloppy, and Rowan Felted Tweed is known for its ability to grow with washing. I got close to gauge, and imagine that upon completion, this sweater was gonna grow. I still wanted a little layer. I started to have self doubts. Plus, I wanted to add some length to it, to accomodate my own long waist, and to do that required some re-thinking of the shaping. 

So last night, I ripped it. 8 inches, and 2 skeins of the felted tweed, ripped out. I cast on again, in the 38" size, which fits me exactly, not accounting for the reputed growth of the yarn. For some reason, I kept messing up on the setup row, and so ended up taking 3 tries to actually get the sucker cast on. Sigh. Now it's presumably back on track, stitch markers placed properly, brand new stitch counter placed on the needle, and my head bowed to my task of knitting some garter rib. Which requires constant monitoring, but lets hope my experiences with the first go-round have made me smarter about how garter rib looks from behind. 

I am holding Felted Tweed responsible for me persevering on this project. It is wonderful to knit with. Rustic, yet soft, and oh-so-pretty. The colorway is called "rage," yet it inspires nothing but love in my heart, the deep autumnal red of oak leaves, and Arkansas Black apples. No pix, now, because I only have an inch of garter rib on the needles. I do not see this as a project that will be quickly completed; there's that scary yoke, for one thing, and my own personal bugbear, the picking up of stitches for button bands, and neckband facing. But I hope that a year from now, I can wear it apple picking, and it will comprise the perfect light layer. 

Monday, November 03, 2014

composed while watching Breaking Bad...

Today is the obligatory "I uploaded some random pictures and captioned them" entry. Composed while bingewatching "Breaking Bad." Avoiding schoolwork, for the moment, anyway. 

 Cricket, reminding us that it's important to relax. Really, he spends so much time in this position. I love it. I adore this dog, who has settled down finally, and has become calmer than ever, who has become P's dog, since he is home all day, now. I can't believe he will be 9, come February.

After this tv binge, I am going to follow Crick's suggestion, and go upstairs for a hot bath; epsom salts, lavender, and baking soda - then bed. Project Z, my endless pursuit of serious sleep, continues.

More Halloween aftermath, snow on the Jack o' Lanterns, in Asheville, at a side street cafe. We spent all day Saturday walking around the city, with the storm howling around us; snow blowing horizontally. We dressed warmly, and ducked into galleries, bookstores, and bars for periodic warmth and sustenance.

Of course we checked out some neighborhoods in the city, namely in West Asheville, and then in nearby Black Mountain, as well. I love envisioning other lives, other possible realities, even though the thought of packing up and moving right now gives me hives. There is a little nomad that lives inside me, though, and occasionally she gets restless...Asheville definitely warrants further study! 

See all this garter ribbing? The beginnings of Eunny's Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I'm using some destash Rowan Felted Tweed, the recommended yarn. Not a bad knit, though it strikes me as miles of stockinette, punctuated by a very scary cabled yoke. But right now, reassuring garter rib, pretty and soft, and then soothing stockinette. I will cross the cable bridge when I come to it. I have been in a knitting doldrum for months; starting things, not finishing them, frogging projects, putting other projects in time out...will this sweater find me my mojo?

Sunday, November 02, 2014

a cold and snowy trip to asheville

After a few years of Samhain coming and going without much change in the weather, it appears that the day was actually the harbinger of winter, at least here in the southeastern US.

Pat and I went to Asheville for the weekend, to see the Avett Brothers play on Halloween night, which they did, in full Wizard of Oz get-up. A different kind of Samhain, and one that reminded me of the giddy fun that dressing up in a costume on Halloween night can bring. It's not something I do very often, these years, but seeing them up on stage, unrecognizable until they sang, it hit me again.
Then, we came home from the concert, checked into our motel, and slept, hard. Next morning...snow. 

Spent the day roaming around in Asheville, tasting craft beers, admiring art in galleries, and generally freezing our asses off in the howling wind and nearly horizontal blowing snow. All this bluster amounted to about 3-4 inches altogether, and never did the roads freeze. 

I love Asheville; like all college towns, it is walkable, and full of lovely things to eat and drink. There's a crazy, creative vibe here, as well as a terrific, folk-tinged music scene. The Avetts call it home, so the concert was extra shiny-happy, given that the boys were coming home after a tour. 

Now. November. A month I used to dislike, but now it, like January, feels like a bit of a fresh start; the pagan new year, given Samhain is the last harvest. Time to tilt toward winter. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

finished object and home improvements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 09, 2014

summer edition: hello red kayak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 30, 2014

stash revelations, sickness, sleep, and sweetness.

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

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

A lot of things happened this past week.

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

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

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

Saturday, March 22, 2014

alban eiler: spring

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

showing up at the page

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

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

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

Okay, dragging myself to my rest. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

a crocus can surprise you

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

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

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

Sunday, March 09, 2014

getting away

I just booked Cricket care for 2 mini-vacations in the upcoming. Crick is a high maintenance dog, what with the aggression issues and general neediness. I use a paid service, with confident sitters who love him, and are unfazed by his tendency toward hysteria.
Caring for one dog, however, is far less expensive than caring for 2. Ella required 3 visits per day, due to medication issues, and while I never begrudged it; this is why I work, I was pleasantly surprised the first time I traveled and got care for just the one dog...of course Ella was an easy dog, who would cheerfully go to live in the homes of friends, loving their dogs, cats, and children...Cricket, not so much. 

I'm going to the DC area to visit P one last time, before he retires and moves back here. It's a little last forseeable mid-Atlantic spring, to a city whose spring is spectacular. Luckily, I'm hitting town around cherry blossom time, and so will take full advantage of that spectacle. Hoping to get some good pictures, and fully drink in the incredible loveliness of that place, in that time. I'll see some old friends, as well, and visit the usual hangouts. P and I will also take a mini vacation (work for him, vacay for me) to a rural conference center in West VA, for a couple of days. Time for me to hike, sip wine on the porch, and knit to my heart's content. 

The second getaway is heading out to the Florida panhandle and Alabama beaches with my cousins. Oh yeah. My crazy West VA cousins are renting a condo on the beautiful, blue-sea'd, white-sanded beaches of 'Bama for a few days this spring. A 5 hour drive for me, and I am delirious with excitement. For seriously sure. I've always been a huge beach lover, and post Hawaii, the beach has been a rare luxury. My cousins and I usually only see each other at funerals, so to go somewhere together, during a time (knock wood) when we all are healthy, all employed, in stable relationships or happily single, is a glorious joy. There will be wine. There will be stories. There will be swimming in blue water. There will be seafood. There will be all manner of crazy, uplifting fun. They are departing the condo 2 days before I have to be back at work, so I'm taking the rest of the time for a leisurely backroads wander up through Alabama and south Georgia. Looking forward to that, too. 

I need a getaway. Not to put too much emphasis on the harshness of the winter, as I did indeed embrace the cold for much of it, but I am much in need of warmer good times. 
This is me, last month, embracing the cold, in Highland, NC. A retreat with the knitting guild, an unplanned snow-in, and a beautiful hike. 

Saturday, March 08, 2014

a few little knits and a wish for spring

Why hello there! It's just on the edge of spring, around here - that is to say, we've been enjoying our typical Georgia weather pattern of 40's>50's>60's>a day of gloriously 70 degrees, then back down to 40's and 50's again. But the daffodils are popping, and birds are singing their early spring courting songs, so I'm calling it spring.

Will I ever get back to regular blogging? I'm trying to play catch up in all aspects of my life right now. Somehow, a daily (or even weekly) blog post seems like an insurmountable task, but I do feel the jones to do more writing right now. I feel the jones to do many things, these days, and after the most difficult SAD-ly winter in recent memory, it's a welcome thing, believe me. Longer day length is making me very happy. I have tried very hard, this coldest winter, to embrace the cold, forcing myself outside for walks, wearing all my knitwear, buying a cheerful new red coat, and the effort has kept me getting out of bed, I do believe. I'm calling this winter done, and my project of surviving it a  success.

Right now, I'm trying to drop a few pounds (well many, actually) by changing my eating a bit. I've broken up with bread and sugar for the most part, and am hitting the gym 2 - 3 times a week. I haven't lost much, but I've found more energy, and acquired a wee bit of waist definition, and my clothes are fitting a bit better. I was really having a crisis about what to wear, a couple of months ago, as it seemed the plumpness was taking its toll on the closet, and work clothes. I'm doing a lot of yoga, back to the Vinyasa style, and it feels so great. I joined the YMCA in my area, and the new yoga teacher is good. I miss Iyengar in some ways, mostly my matter-of-fact, no-nonsense teacher, but I wanted access to weights, elliptical trainers, and a pool, and so I had to sacrifice the Iyengar studio class. Gym yoga IS different from studio yoga, though, and the background in Iyengar is helping me to remember alignment, prop use, and just being safer in poses that the teacher sort of tosses out without much prep. I'm not a bendy 25 year old anymore...

I finished Fylingdales, finally. Did I blog this before? No. Here's a rundown of the knits of the last few months. I'm telling you how long it took me to knit them, to show you how erratic my knitting really is. Slow and binge-y, all at once.
Fylingdales, by Lisa Lloyd. 6 skeins of Bovidae Farms 2 ply worsted, mostly Corriedale, in the colorway Chicory. I have my complaints about this sweater, but warmth is not one of them. The yarn was fabulous to knit. If I did it again, I'd change the button band, and add more buttons, as it's a little gappy. This sweater was on the needles for about 16 months, which is ridiculous, given the ease of the pattern and the deliciousness of the yarn. I guess I was savoring it.
Osmena, a laceweight beret, knit on #2 needles, of Lang Baby Alpaca Grande. It is the perfect cozy hat, in a screaming orange, which keeps me from getting shot by deer hunters, as I ramble through the woods. I found the yarn in the sale room at Cast On Cottage last summer, and fell in love with the punchy orange popsicle color. It's soft, and yummy, and elevates my red coat into something loud and crazy. Which I kind of like. On the needles for 6 months. Again, could have been a quick knit, but I stretched it out. 
Mapes, a shawl knit for my mom from Malabrigo worsted, in the Applewood colorway. Mapes is a Barbara Benson design. Barbara is in my knit group, and is pretty brilliant. I've had this pattern for a few years, and finally got around to knitting one. It's a good marriage, Mapes and Malabrigo, and I'm thinking it might happen again. My mom loves it! She is knitworthy in the extreme. This was on the needles for about 10 days, which is unusual for me to knit something that fast. 
The Leafed Hat, from an old issue of Interweave. Malabrigo Chunky, in the Sealing Wax colorway. Yummy, squishy and fun. On the needles for a week. Fun and easy. I'm thinking Malabrigo is directly correlated to my finishing projects quickly. 

I'm knitting other things, right now, a combo of desperate effort on my WIPs, and secret swap knitting. There's also the spinning: 
Fibercharmer merino-bamboo, in the Giant Clam colorway. Sleek and beautiful. It's taking me a long time to get through this 4oz braid, due in part to busyness, and partly because my treadling knee (NOT the knee I dislocated 2 years ago) is acting up. I'm trying to coddle it, whilst maintaining a normal life, which may not be working - I might need to resort to full on coddling for a while. 

I might add that there's a stash diet going on. I am not buying spinning fiber nor yarn this year, in an attempt to reduce the existing backlog, and to just safe a little money. I am not making any hard and fast rules, though. Stitches South is coming up in April, and my sis is coming up. She is on a similar austerity measure for fiber and yarn, but we both agreed that a giant yarnmarket in our backyard is perhaps not something to avoid. Stitches' new location is accessible by MARTA light rail, though, so we won't drive. This means that we won't be able to carry tons of purchases around, thus keeping us modest in our expenditures. Unless we buy quiviut. Quiviut isn't very heavy...

Today's agenda includes some housecleaning, the writing of lesson plans, a trip to Snellville to see the movie "August Osage County", the purchase of Cricket food, and some knitting and spinning. I've been up for a few hours already - since 6:30, without the help of the alarm clock(!) and have finally watched the season finale of Downton Abbey that was marinating on my dvr. Wow. I don't quite know how to let the Crawley family go for the next few months. As much as I enjoy Game of Thrones and Vikings, I have to say that Downton Abbey is my great television love. Well and truly. 

I have some perennials to plant; bleeding hearts, hostas, and astilbes, and some grass seed to put into my patchy lawn. I think I'm going to save that task for tomorrow, though, which is supposed to be 70. Here's to spring! Please come, I've been waiting!