Friday, December 28, 2012

Lazy Vacation

It's pretty unusual for me to take time off without planning to cram it with activities.   This is the laziest vacation I can recall in some years.  Even Biscuit is lying down on the job.  He thinks he's helping me update the blog, but I'm not so sure he's giving his full attention to the task.

Of course the first weekend was devoted to finishing up the Christmas knits.  Nothing major there, but a bunch of small projects.  I blocked the linen stitch scarf. 

I finished up the moss cable socks. 

I made a pair of Mammoth Woolly House Socks for my sister, who lives in a drafty farmhouse and is all about the woolly. 

And last but not least, I whipped through a pair of fingerless mitts for my brother in law, who spends many hours at the keyboard in the same farmhouse. 

As you can see, nothing especially complicated, but it was nice to have them done.  Alas, the stealth project remained incomplete.  As you can see, a plain sweater.  It will make more progress as soon as I do a little math for the neck shaping.

 Since Christmas, it has been lazy in part because my husband and I have both picked up the head cold that has been going around.  Him worse than me, but it's certainly sapped our ambition for running around.  So I've been idly doing odds and end of things.  I tried Tama's bagel recipe.   Which I am happy to report is delicious.  A little too much fussing over the stove for me to make often, but a perfect vacation baking project. 

I cast on a pair of mittens for no better reason than my knitting bag was across the room and I had yarn and needles for mittens right at hand. (How's that for lazy?)

And then I also knit a second pair of Mammoth Woolly House Socks, since I had yarn left from the first pair.  (These are done in Lion Brand Thick and Quick, and take about a skein and a half a pair.)

Plus, I've read a few books, teased the cats and generally had a slothful good time.  I do have a few things it would be nice to get done, but I'm not going to worry about them.  Because worrying is on the top of my list Not to Do on Vacation. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Nothing Shall Harsh My Mellow

There is a definite sense that progress is being made.    I am officially on vacation until after New Year's.  Unofficially, I may get a call or two, as work will be very shorthanded next week, but that's do-able.   Everything on the 'must do on pain of revocation of vacation' list got done.  Nothing more- but it'll still be there when I get back.  This despite the assistance I received the one morning I worked at home while waiting for massive traffic jams to vacate my route to work.

First, Biscuit sat on my papers:

Cookie napped in the laptop case.

Then I pulled some papers out from under Biscuit and he tried to bite me.  So I banished him from the work table.   He went and sulked on the footstool.

Pretty soon, though, Cookie got up to go see to some Important Cat Business, and Biscuit promptly stole his napping spot.

Cookie was rather dismayed by this when he returned, and tried to climb in with Biscuit, but it's a one-cat-capacity laptop case.  Biscuit boxed his ears firmly and retained possession.

On other fronts, the Christmas cookies have been baked.  There was also some feline volunteerage during this process but after removing cats from the counter six or seven times, they got the idea that their assistance was not going to be permitted.

The current knitting is all Christmassy, so I shall not post photos, but I can report my strategy (which can be loosely summarized as, "Cast on ALL the things!!!") is bearing fruit.  Or FOs, at least.  Of the 5-6 planned projects:  #1 is blocking, #2 ends are being woven in, #3 is 3/4 done with perhaps 1-2 hours more work left, #4 is on the needles and 20% complete, #5 is not started but also short, and #6 the Stealth project is looking like a miss for Christmas day.   There would maybe be enough time,  except for the need for secrecy.  We'll see.  If it looks like I could finish if I gave up secrecy, it may have to be revealed to the recipient.

I will however show you the promised photos of charity knitting that was donated earlier this month.  There was a colorwork hat:

Mittens, of course:

And the second cabled hearts hat, which still needs to have the pattern written up from my notes and posted.  That's going to be a vacation project:

There's a certain temptation to get all goal-oriented about getting projects done for the holidays, but I think I've successfully stayed low-key on it this year.   I've pretty much given up any parts of the holiday that I don't think are fun.  And for the rest- I'm enjoying making gifts for some of my favorite people in the world.  They'll be done when they're done.  No worries. 

Have a lovely weekend, everyone, and a peaceful and joyous holiday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Okay.  I know I've been lax, but how the devil did it get to be nearly a month since my last post?    For that matter, how did we get to one week before Christmas without me doing more than occasionally thinking, 'Yeah, sure, I've only got 5 or 6 projects to finish.  No worries.'    (I wrote this draft yesterday and then promised myself faithfully that I would download photos and post it last night.  Instead I crawled into bed and collapsed.  There's nothing like a fluffy cat romping over you in the middle of the night to disrupt your sleep patterns.)

So, in the interest of figuring out what the heck happened, I made a list. (I like that sort of thing- and sometimes it's even useful.)

Things I've Been Doing Instead of Christmas Knitting.

Other knitting-  The knit-a-thon closing party was a few weeks ago- we raised a bunch of money for the local food bank and donated many-many knitted items to several different charities.  (Place where knitting photos would go if I hadn't experienced a total blog fail last night.)

Playing withLearning about the features of my new car. Not to mention enjoying the novelty of having a CD player.   The whole thing where I get in the car, and press the power button to turn it on instead of messing around with keys?  Just never gets old.

Reading. I'm really not sure what came over me. I've always loved to read, but I've consumed ridiculous amounts of fiction this year.

Traveling to Washington DC.:    Awesome weekend a couple of weeks ago. While the northeast enjoyed freezing drizzle, my husband and I walked around DC in 60 degree weather, enjoying the sun. Every so often I'd look over at him and say 'Freezing drizzle!' and laugh like a loon. We also went to Library of Congress, which is an incredibly gorgeous building. They had a Civil War exhibition going- we also went to the Civil War art exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery and visited Ford's Theater- we saw Lincoln the movie a couple of weeks ago (not the one with vampires) and so we had it on our minds. The National Air and Space Museum is a long time favorite- both of us are engineers, science fiction fans, and my husband has a degree in astronomy. We went to see the Hubble film in iMax. I'm not sure the 3D added all that much, and I'm not an iMax fan generally, but the Hubble space imagery sure looked fabulous on the big screen.   (I forgot my camera, so you'll have to take my word for it that there were still flowers blooming there in November.  Also answers the question, "What's worse than forgetting to download the pictures on your camera?"  "Forgetting the camera.")

Baking- for Christmas, of course. Lessons learned this week...fig bars are sticky and the part where the recipe says 'roll the dough into a rectangle, cut it into strips and fold them over the filling'?  Is a complete fantasy. I'm considering re-engineering the assembly of the cookie to improve manufacturability. But that's a project for next year.  (I did make the recipe this year, but I'm calling the bars 'rustic' in appearance.)

Working. I'm kind of puzzled about this 'slow recovery' I keep hearing about, because my company is crazy-busy.   It's a good problem to have, but it does keep us hopping.   (Also, if we were less busy, I'd have planned to take a day off this week so I could enjoy Christmas preparations in a more leisurely manner.)

Giving cats attention. The cooler temperatures has resulted in lots of cat lap sitting. And sleeping late on weekends. Because there's nothing like a purring cat curled up beside you to make you feel all drowsy, warm and comfortable. Not to mention making it deuced difficult to move.   Now I just want to know why the devil they only curl up and purr softly on weekends, whereas on weeknights he(Biscuit) sticks his nose in my ear and purrs at high volume until I wake up.  (This has led to the use of 'porch' as a verb in our household, as in, "Biscuit was porched this morning for two hours when when he woke me up for the third time."  The porch is an enclosed sun porch, so although it's cool, it's not too cold for a cat with fluff as thick as Biscuit's to be out there for a couple of hours.)

So.  I shall return-- with pictures of knitting, cats etc-- with my camera or upon it.   (And notice how I've cunningly avoided committing to an actual date or time.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Anticipating a Long Weekend

The last week has been particularly....weeklike.   Which is to say stuff happened.

1.  My ancient and venerable Saturn has at last passed on to the Great Scrap Heap in the sky.  I more than got my money's worth- 13 years and 234,000 miles.  And I'm rather looking forward to not, say, standing in my driveway pouring oil into the engine in January.  Or having the visor on the driver's side suddenly fall in front of my eyes when I'm driving.   Or having some rather important piece of vehicle break and strand me by the side of the road.   But it's still a bit sad to see it go. 

2.  As a direct consequence of #1, I spend a good chunk of the week researching cars.  I hate shopping.  I really hate shopping for cars.  The only saving grace was the ability to do the worst of it on the internet.

4.  I settled on a used 2011 Toyota Prius. So far, I'm liking it, though it's going to take me a while to get used to the differences.

5.  I'm still knitting that scarf.  Or perhaps I should say that I'm not yet finished with the scarf, which is both the partial cause and effect of swapping off with a couple of different projects.

6.  Such as, when in doubt, knit a hat.  

7.  And I whipped through a nice little pair of fingerless mitts for a coworker who was freezing at her desk.  These wound up being a few rows shorter than originally planned, as I ran out of yarn.  There was some last minute robbing Peter to pay Paul to make them come out the same size. 

And now I am so looking forward to the long weekend.   Wherein I will visit and eat and play with yarn.   And then repeat it until I run out of weekend.  Here's hoping yours will be as pleasant. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

It's All About Sleeping

It's been a busy week, and a dark one, what with the time change.  And I've learned a few things.  For example, I've confirmed what I always suspected....when it comes to cats, it's all about sleeping.
What?!  Cats are trying to sleep here.

A cat's castle is his castle.

Mmn, warm toasty fire.

On the coldest nights, even fluffy cats want to climb in bed
with the people.

The only thing happier than one cat napping is two cats
napping.  (Have you ever heard the sound of one cat
 napping? It sounds like purring. Interspersed with little
cat snores.)


We can sleep in any position.


Asleep in front of the, birdfeeder.

Cookie takes a turn in front of the wood stove.
I have learned other things, however they are less photogenic.  For example.

- A splitting maul is indeed a better tool for splitting wood than an axe.

- It may be the case that one can split some kinds of wood with just the maul, but for the remnants of giant hardwood trees, wedges are still required.

- If one is a forty-something person who hasn't split wood recently, spending a couple of hours doing it will make one rather sore.

- As sore as one may be after splitting wood, I'm experiencing a strong suspicion it's going to be worse in the morning.

- Giant logs need to be split not once, not twice, but into about six pieces before they are small enough to fit in the stove.   (The tree was approximately 24" in diameter.)

- For an allegedly flammable substance, wood fires can take some persistence to get burning.

- But giant logs burn for a gratifyingly long time once you manage to ignite them. 

- It is much wiser to dwell on the pleasant warmth of the fire than the fact that you split only one of the giant log chunks in two hours and have several dozen more to go.

...Yeah, I'm still knitting that scarf.   You knew that, right?  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I went.  I voted.  Now I'm just hanging in until 8 pm when the polls close and people stop bloody calling us. 

And if you haven't voted yet, please do.  It's important. 

Shuffling through leaves, a few weeks ago in Amherst MA. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I think someone must have hit fast forward, because the week has fairly flown.  I still had power when I got home from work on Monday (driving through wind driven rain), so I threw some bread in the breadmaker and then we had grilled cheese sandwiches on homemade bread and leftover chili for a quick dinner.   It turned out to be unnecessary to rush- the power only flickered once and never went off.   At the height of the storm I could hear the firecracker-like pop of branches snapping, but nothing big came down near me.   Some of my co-workers lost power; mostly the ones who live in wooded areas.   Most had it back in a day or so.  My work didn't lose power either.  So- great for us, but there was a good deal more damage on the coast, and of course folks further south are going to be a long time recovering.

I did find time during the week to rip and reknit the scarf, this time in linen stitch.  I absolutely love it.  The pooling is a thing of the past. 

Today my parents came to visit.  They said they wanted to see us, but I know better.  It's the grandcats who were the stars of the show.  And Biscuit was very brave. He actually let my dad pat him.   After they left, the cats were completely worn out.  Cookie retreated to the cat castle:

And Biscuit sacked out in his favorite armchair.  Note the sleepy look.

No napping for me, though.  Today was the first day I was home in daylight without rain since the storm.  My husband raked, and I picked up kindling in the yard and piled it with the firewood, then fished tree branches, and then the pool cover out of the pool and re-secured the edges to the deck.  No big surprise that the pool cover had come adrift in that wind.  I'm just happy it stayed in my yard- it could easily have taken off in the wind and come down somewhere west of the Berkshires. 

I also got caught up with housework, laundry and went in to the library to return some books and pick up more, including the latest Mike Shepherd which they were holding for me.  I do love my library.  It isn't as pretty as the gorgeous historic building in the town where I grew up, but it's large, well stocked, and the staff are terrific. Admittedly I'm predisposed to love any place that is full of books.

For my last trick, I built a nice fire in the woodstove.  Biscuit and Cookie have both discovered that the chair in front of the woodstove is a nice warm spot:

(Cookie has a warm spot too, he's asleep on my lap, making it deuced difficult to type.)

Lots to do tomorrow as well- we need more leaf bags,  I've got some work work to do, and of course knitting.  I'm probably going to be trying to stick mostly to Christmas knitting for a while.  My ratio of UFOs to FOs on the holiday list is nowhere near where it should be!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Storm Watch

Hard to say how much wind we'll get from Hurricane Sandy,  but it doesn't hurt to take some basic precautions.  I've got all the pool hardware put away, and brought in the the deck furniture.  It won't hurt to hold the trash until next week, and the recycling bin that usually sits on the steps outside is now in the kitchen.    There's dry kindling inside for the woodstove, oil for the oil lamp, and some food we can eat without cooking if we lose power.  I'm not terribly concerned- we're very close to a busy commercial strip so we're in an area that generally gets power back first after an outage.  And we've lost so many big trees in the last few ice and snow storms that most any branches weak enough to come down have already fallen. 

Cookie and Biscuit are also ready- they've found comfortable sleeping spots where they can stay warm and observe the humans taking care of anything that needs taking care of.

Today I went down to the local charity knit-a-thon, now in it's third year.  Knitters were ready, and we filled a table with donations at our kickoff party.

Once we showed off our donations, we hung out, knit, had snacks, and generally had a fiber-filled good time.

I finished weaving in ends and tagging the last few pairs of mittens to donate on the spot.

The closing party and final knit-a-thon donations will be collected in early December.  So plenty of time to whip through a few more donations before the holidays.  (Don't worry, Mom, I didn't donate everything here- I've still got a bunch of mittens for the Holiday Baskets collection too.)

But certainly I've got plenty to knit should say, my workplace lose power and I get an unexpected day off.  (Hah.  This is not actually likely- my workplace loses power even less frequently than my house does.)   Still- all we can do now is wait and see what happens.  See you on the flip side.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012


For once I've had an entire weekend day at home.  No place I had to be, nothing I absolutely had to do.   It's been a very pleasant day puttering, reading, drinking mocha coffee, rescuing the butter dish from Biscuit's earnest attempt to pry the cover off,  and weaving in ends on a few FOs.  Mittens, of course. 

I've also started a couple of new projects.  A scarf:

The yarn is gorgeous, but I'm not entirely happy with the pooling, and the way the pattern is working with the colorway.   I'll probably give it a few more inches before I decide if it's working or not. 

The other project I'm quite pleased with.  More socks:
The yarn is Valley Yarns Huntingdon, and I'm really liking the way it shows off the cabling. 

And now I still have a couple more hours to watch Castle, resist Cookie's incessant begging for cat food, and maybe bake some blueberry muffins. (Cookie has just curled up beside me on the couch- it makes it easier to monitor incipient cat-feeding behavior.)   Gotta run.  Well.  Gotta pet the cat, then run....

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cut to the Chase

I feel like it's been a little blah in the blogging department here lately (aside from the bird invasion), but the truth is, there has been working, working, collapsing in a pile of books on the weekend and more working the last few weeks.   But there has been some knitting going on around the edges. 

For example, in a fit of boredom with everything else I was knitting a couple of weeks ago, I went through my pile of patterns-I mean-to-knit-Real-Soon-Now and cast on a Falling Water scarf.    Saturday I finally had a chance to block it.

I also finally finished the socks I've been working on for approximately the last two months.   Apparently I wasn't in the mood for plain knitting.  I expect these to be very comfy basic socks.  They're a tad more blue than they look in this photo.

There are the usual random mittens kicking around.  There would be more, but I have a pair in time out waiting to be reunited with the main color of yarn, which was left at a friend's house.   I'm not entirely certain whether I failed to pack it back in the knitting bag, or whether the resident felines thought it looked intriguing and helped themselves.   (I feel so at home with loaner cats to help me knit.)

And speaking of 'helpful' cats, Biscuit has renewed his interest in my breakfast cereal.  Or rather with the milk that is on the cereal.  He's looking shyly aside in this photo:

But don't underestimate him.  It's only because I was pointing the box-that-makes-nasty-flashes at him.   The truth came out a few minutes later:

I do have to keep a close eye on him, because if my attention wanders from the bowl I'll have a fuzzy face stuck in it before I can say 'That's my raisin bran, you twerp!'.   One of these mornings I'm going to eat chili for breakfast, just to weird him out. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Rescue

So there I was, staggering around in my usual early morning fog, single firing brain cell fixed on the imminent prospect of tea, when I heard a rustling, followed by the unmistakeable patter of paws. Since unidentifiable noises interspersed with cat noises generally indicate that there is something going on that humans ought to be aware of, I turned around. Both cats were prowling around the woodstove, sniffing and peering in the front glass. And each time they did there was a rustle- no a fluttering of terrified wings. After considering for several minutes the chances of me getting myself around a cup of something hot and caffinated before the terrified bird did himself an injury, I sighed, and considered options for removing it. First and foremost was the need to deal with the cats, since I regarded the prospect of overexcited felines as decidedly not a benefit to this exercise. On further contemplation, it was quickly evident that any option that involved confining said overexcited felines away from the action was going to make enough noise that my sweetie was unlikely to sleep through it. Add to that the desire for moral and physical support, and I went to the bedroom and woke up my husband. "I need a hand here," I told him.

He awoke reluctantly and regarded me with instant suspicion . "With what?"

"There's a bird in the woodstove."

He made a face that suggested he'd rather bury his head under a pillow until I went away, but extricated himself from the bed, donned a bathrobe, and followed me out to the kitchen. "I have no idea how to get it out," he protested.

"That's okay," I told him. "Neither do I."

We both looked at the stove. Cookie had concluded that however interesting it was, he couldn't get to it in the stove, and had gone out to the sun porch. Biscuit, however, was still peering into the window of the stove and terrorizing the bird into paroxysms of fright. "First let's remove the cats," I suggested. I scooped up Biscuit and shut him, protesting, in the bedroom. Cookie was corralled on the porch and relocated to the bathroom. The noises of indignant cats pawing at the door, interspersed with occasional meows from Biscuit accompanied me back to the kitchen.

"I'd thought of using a large tin," I said, referring to one of the giant popcorn tins I usually use for yarn.

"How about a garbage bag?" Jonathan said.

"Sure." A garbage bag was light enough not to harm the bird and flexible enough to fit over the door of the stove. We opened doors, and readied our bag. We had neglected however to consider the bird's point of view.  He clearly didn't think  of the bag as something having space to fly into. He cowered in the back of the stove, staying well away from us.

We tried again, but the bird spotted his chance and swooped out of the stove, evaded the bag and headed straight to the closed windows in the living room, instead of out through the door. There he perched on the edge of the cat castle and gave us a wary look.

It was at that moment that Cookie managed to pry open the bathroom door and joined the fun. I snatched him up before he managed to sight his prey, and this time incarcerated him in the basement, which has a catproof latch on the outside.

My husband meanwhile tried to shoo the bird toward an outside access. The bird swooped back to the kitchen window- ignoring all three open doors. "You birdbrain!" Jonathan exclaimed, accurately enough.

There ensued a brief period wherein two barely clad humans chased the bird back and forth from window to window, just barely managing to cut him off from getting into the upstairs (which would be quite hard to get him out of), and finally, with much cursing and flapping of bathrobes, managed to chase him out the door.

Fortunately, it was still early enough that there was no one out on the street to appreciate this spectacle. My husband went back to bed. I got my tea. The bird lived to cheep another day. And the only disappointed ones were the cats, who prowled around the woodstove and kitchen after their release, complaining that they'd been left out. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Turn, Turn

There's a hint of a chill in the air, and a certain crisp scent on the breeze that heralds the end of summer.   And if that weren't enough of a clue:

Lap season has clearly started.  (The lovely quilt atop the husband and underneath the cat is my mother's handiwork.  Cookie *looooves* the quilt.)

This week, I've knit some socks, some hat, some sweater, and some mitten, but I don't have any FOs to show off.   I blame the cold- I picked up a low grade infection Monday that is a picayune measly little thing as viruses go- but yet enough to make me want sleep, sleep and more sleep, and to be a nagging irritant when I'm awake. 

I'm planning to kick its little viral butt this weekend, always supposing my fuzzy housemates let me sleep it off.    Biscuit, however, has added a new trick to his repertoire of 'ways to get Mom up when she's lying there being boring'.  Yep.  It turns out to be really hard to sleep when a fluffy cat is patting you with his paw in your armpit.   Wish me luck!