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!