Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Girl says...

"That's my childhood, right there..."


"and that's what you looked like, too."

Assimilation and Renwal

"What the heck are THOSE?"
"Uh. Is that what we are?""Hey, what have you got?"
"If I am like you, then I want what you've got..."
I really really thought Eleanor would whack T2 on the head and take this back. She didn't, but she looked a little stunned for a few. "What just happened?" I could remind her - she hatched them, what more did she expect?
Pipping - the moment I know there's really something in there:

Working on it...
Free at last:
Leaving the egg behind:
Things are looking up:
By morning, we're almost ready for the brooder:
One lone fuzzwuzzit. He will probably grow up utterly confused as to identity since there's not so much as a feather to make him realize he's a bird. But we'll see how he grows. And I should not say he, I should say it since I won't know for a while what it is, but for now he's he. Tomorrow if he has not died of loneliness I will name him.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I go to the hospital. I get discharge plans. I swing through my mother's apartment for clothes, make a few stops for various paperwork, then run home and write on a lot of clothing with permanent marker. I check my eggs which are not hatching and need to be got rid of. I am sad. My dad drops by and I give him his house pictures for his roof warranty claim. I leave, returning to the hospital to get my mother and take her to the nursing home. I spend some time there, and ponder just how much I miss the act of nursing though not the politics. I come home and begin to walk dogs, start supper; normal evening stuff. I notice Mr. W. is walking Boo and looking oddly at the chickens. I say "Who's missing??" I am thinking maybe a me the trouble.
But no, that would be too easy, after this week, way too easy for me to be missing one bird or two. Six. Including both roosters and the best hen I ever had, the only one I let myself get attached to, who was more pet than layer, Tut. Woe be unto the predator. I cannot think of a single animal that would or could in broad daylight, take SIX birds unless for sport. Half of my birds gone in one fell swoop. Half. And the six remaining hens showing varying signs of damage to feathers or personality. We found some piles of feathers scattered in the woods.
This is, in 10 years of rearing poultry, the worst loss to predator ever. The max before this was two stupid hens who one night would not go in the house and fell asleep with their heads against the wire of the yard. Survival of the fittest, no?? The roosters did their jobs. Both are gone. Preserve the flock at all costs. They just failed to save the one chicken who could make me cry.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Thursdays and Saturdays

Weird surreal existence has been mine since Thursday. Well maybe since Tuesday. I wasn't sure if or how to blog about this, but it's becoming pivotal to my life, so, blog on, right? No one is dead, no one is dying. After a long week of odd occurences and refusals of treatment my mother is in the local hospital with no-one-knows-what. The theories surrounding her condition have ranged from simple to insane. She's fine, then not fine, then fine again. Tests on top of tests. Lots of conversations. The short story is that for now, she cannot live alone. She's going into a nursing home for a bit for some rehab and we'll see what develops from there.
There's been some ups to this whole fiasco. Like I now have a fur-baby, temporary or not we won't know for a while. But here she is - Dazee - making her fist blog appearance.I am going to knit her a sweater. I think Noro. And maybe a nice cabled pullover in a color that compliments her fur-tone. Winter is coming, and if she's here she'll need it. Because my mother has not been able to walk her for a long, long while, she's not housebroken. Or rather, she is housebroken, she just uses puppy pads. Since coming here Friday afternoon she has not had a single indoor "accident" on or off her pad. She asks to go out, as if she's wanted to all along but was only using those pads to humor the humans. She loves to chase chickens and run in dirt. She is a disaster of mud and dirt and grass stains, and if my mother saw her she'd probably call the ASPCA. Dazee, for her part, is thrilled at being a dog. She's utterly dominated Boo and the cat. She's a very in-charge sort of girl. But she's bumped into a head stronger than hers (mine!), and she's loving it. And oddly enough, so am I.
Thursday was the awesomest day in a long, long while. Mr. W. and I went to Hartford and saw Brad Paisley with special guest Jewel (and Julianne Hough and Chuck Wicks, but since I don't really know who they are...well, they both have strong singles out right now; she's got "Had That Song in My Head All Day" which drives me bonkers and not in a good way and he's got "Stealing Cinderella" which makes Mr. W. weepy and makes me kind of gag a little)
Things I learned in Connecticut
1.) Fan club seats rock, totally. I will pay for the fan club membership again just so I can get seats like this. We were right next to a catwalk, way down front. No more nosebleeds for me where Brad is concerned. This was too perfect.
2.) One single phone call, well-timed, from a parent who thinks she's having a heart attack but refuses to go to the hospital can nearly ruin a concert.
3.) I love Jewel.
She did mostly old stuff, and I love her old stuff.
4.) This man knows how to distract me.
Added to reasons why I love Brad Paisley (there's a list - he's a Mason. He loves his wife. he's a fantastic picker. He sings real, wry and funny. There's more but I won't beleaguer you.) we now have 'comes out on stage and says that whatever worries we have he wants us to forget them for a while'. So I did. I screamed and yelled and acted in general like a 13 year old freaked out fan. Mr. W. laughed a lot. I like to think he was laughing with me, not at me. He likes Brad too, so sang right along. I did all the screaming for both of us though.
5.) My husband, who is the most wonderful man on earth (hence the blog name...) has some little issues.Note the bag of chips. On our way down we stopped at River Valley Market for something healthy to eat, so we would not nosh our way around the food vendors at the Meadows (or whatever. Dodge Music Center??). I got a nice salad. he got a nice roast cow sammich with veggies. I got water. He got...soda. And chips. I said "Chips? Chips are not healthy..." Ready for this?? "But it came from the health food store, so it must be."
Sigh. I said "It is not a health food store. Just because they have soy milk and local food does not mean they are a health food store."
"Nope. Health food store. And do you know what else I saw there?" (smiling now, like a small boy who's just discovered toads).
"No. Please. Tell me. What?"
"Oatmeal Cream Pies" (big grin).
I quit.
Today or tomorrow I am going to pop my mother in a nursing home, which I feel a pretty intense amount of guilt over. It's just for rehab and she should be out in a couple of weeks. But still. It's not my favorite thing. I left for a reason. And I am putting her into that same system I left because of the unsafe staffing issues and the compromised patient care. It's an ethical nightmare, really.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I forgot...KNITTING!!

F.O. - Berrocco Flow in Seduce, color Muscari, 6 hanks with a lot leftover, size 34. I tried on the 34 at Webs and it was perfect. I would never, under ordinary circumstances, knit anything that small. My genetic gifting makes it a poor choice generally. But this works, and works well. I love it. Mods - well, first it's in the round with a false seam stitch on either side kept in purl throughout. Which is probably the biggest mod. Second, I whacked an inch off of the total length, because I am a pygmy (why can't I ever just use the 'S' word?). It's unblocked, but I wore it to dinner Friday anyway. I'll wash it eventually (soon). I've already endangered it by catching a thread on my skirt zipper, and not noticing till I got home. It will run back in well.This was a great, fast, instant gratification knit. I was going to put beads around the neck in a crochet trim ala Pixie, but I could not find a beading needle and just wanted it done, so I did the reverse st st instead. I can change my mind later - there's more than enough yarn to redo the neck. Twice. The thing is unbelievably flattering to every person who's tried it on. I have not once seen it on someone and thought "Oh, no. Just no...", not even on ME which is leaning toward unheard of. It's just one of those things that everyone can knit and be happy with. Get yours today! (really, it's so satisfying, unless you...mess up...which, gratefully I didn't - I think the in the round bit helped.)
And since I am here anyway...Hummingbird, but not in the sun because he's not cooperating with me at ALL. Normally he'll ignore me. But if I have that camera? He acts like it's an uzzi pointed at his head. Birds are too smart.
And the bird that wakes us up every morning at 5:30 am.He sits behind the house (here he's in front) and goes on endlessly. In fact, there is not a moment when I go outside that I don't hear him, which makes me wonder how and what he eats. In the evening, when we're on the deck, he moves to the front of the house and sits on the wire and makes the same deeeelightful noise he makes at 5:30am. Diligent and consistent, if nothing else.

Monday, July 21, 2008


You know, why travel all the way to New York when you can just stay home? Travel is over-rated, right? At least, I'd like to convince myself of that. Due to circumstances beyond my control, we did not head to NY this weekend as originally planned. I am bummed, but believe I shall recover. Maybe there will be time in the fall for a day trip into the city, and we can see and do a few things.
In spite of this terrible change of plans, we managed to have a Staycation sort of a weekend. You've heard of them. Most people do it to save money. We were doing it because we were here, and I didn't want to be here, so we pretended we weren't here. We did things we don't normally do. We ate out three times in three days. We never eat out three times in three days. We went to a movie. We never go to movies. I became the pansy. I was one with the pansy. "BE the pansy", I said.
And I took pictures of chickens and hawks and mushrooms and lilies and - wait for it - KNITTING!! A miracle. (The pansy thing will begin to make sense now.) On Thursday a very intrepid knitter appeared at drop-in questioning her sanity. She was working on Noni #117, Girly Backpack, fall 2007, complete with the most lovely pansies ever knitted. Trouble was, she was having some difficulty knitting them. I read the pattern, and it felt like Greek. Now maybe it was the crowd (it was a very busy drop-in!) or maybe it was the night air (my mind sometimes stops working after...I wake up) but no matter how many times I tried to read the pansy pattern, it made no sense. I know, I just KNEW that if I could sit down with it and knit it, it'd work. But drop-in is not the place to do that, especially on a night when there's 20 - 24 knitters in attendance. I snagged the pansy directions and determined to make it work, no matter what. I gave my grave promise that in 2 weeks' time I would be prepared to assist this student to self-pansying. I figured it would make good train knitting. Since, in the end, there was no train in my weekend I decided it might make good car knitting instead. I toiled for a bit in the car when we went to fetch shavings and soymilk and fresh local produce. Then we stopped driving and I decided maybe it would be good cheap wine on the deck knitting. Soon I had it - an unfelted, but definitely recognizable pansy!The petals are intarsia, so we're talking about a lot of ends to run in. Tedious, since I am not a fan of intarsia or loose ends, but rhythmic once you get going. A second glass of wine and some heavy duty scrubbing in very hot water and soap resulted in a serious pansy. Now all I have to do is make enough of them that I can make this look easy for my Thursday night knitter, who's due to return in two weeks to have a flower lesson. It did, as I moved along, become easier and more understandable. I am serious about 'being the pansy'. As I moved to pick up the next set of stitches off of holders, I asked myself what a pansy would do. Now, I adore pansies which might be cheating, but somehow it all came together and a pansy was formed.
Eating in the Valley - bearing in mind that I am a foodie, and a bit of a snob at times about where and what I eat and the quality thereof - we went for the first time to my former laundromat. I kid you not. I washed diapers in this place until my dad bought me a washer and my ex bought me a dryer. I'd say that this was my laundromat of choice for a good two years. Now it's an Italian place called Ristorante DiPaolo, small and a bit upscale in the middle of a town that's...not. We had a gift certificate that we've been dragging around since Christmas. I am not a big lover of Italian, and neither is Mr. W. But we were curious as we'd heard good things about the place. We were not disappointed. I will say that I felt like the price was a little high - not just because of the unusual location, but also because the food, while good was not what I'd call stellar. We were seated in the exact spot my hairdresser had warned me to avoid; behind a wooden screen close to the bar, front door, and kitchen. This made for a disruptive dining experience with people coming and going, loud kitchen sounds, banging and crashing of trays and dishes and shouting employees. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the meal. I had barramundi, which is so local to this establishment as to be within about 5 miles of where my chair was located. That always makes me smile. I began with a really nice salad topped with gorgonzola and carmelized pine nuts, beets and pears. Mr. Wonderful had pan-seared scallops with mushrooms finished with white truffle oil that were nice, but a bit too seared. My large fillet was a little dry toward the tail end, although I know from personal experience how difficult it is to get even cooking in a piece of fish that ranges in thickness. The jasmine rice was average and a bit under done, but a small pile of kale was very properly cooked - still crispy and bright green. Mr. Wonderful's main course was a shrimp dish that he was not in love with, but since he does not like cream sauces and ordered one, we're not going to go into detail about that one (buyer beware - of you order something you do not like, you do not get to complain!). I had a glass of something red that was good - memorable in large part because the temperature was right and it perfectly complimented my fish, but not memorable enough for me to...remember what it was! I want to say it was a Shiraz. Mr. W went with BBC's Steel Rail Pale Ale (weirdo. who drinks this? it's not even beer. want beer? try BBC's Imperial Stout, or Coffeehouse Porter, or the one with the oatmeal...oatmeal stout...wait...that one's from The Pint. 'pale ale'. uggh.). Hey. Who said that?? Someone broke into my blog. I didn't say that. I would never imply that my dearly beloved spouse is a beer wimp. NEVER!! Anyway, I digress. For dessert he had something with a tart crust that I ignored (crust = diablo). I had...ok...I had (wait I need a drool cloth)...flourless chocolate cake and chocolate mousse in a chocolate ganache dome. With raspberries. I brought half home to Girl. She's old enough now. She was incapable of speech or thought for about ten minutes. It was SO good. Overall it was a good meal, and a nice time, and we would go again if we had another GC to soften the blow. Our other 'big' meal out was last night, at Hope and Olive in Greenfield. We'd heard about this place, owned by the owners of the former Bottle of Bread Pub in Shelburne Falls which met with an untimely end in December 2005. We'd never made it up there claiming it was too out of the way for us, but since Hope and Olive is fifteen minutes away we have no excuse. We'll be back. I had Chicken Tikka that was perfectly complimented by a Key Lime Martini. The chicken was a fantastic balance of flavor, topped with a mint cucumber raita and mango - and oh what music they made! This is Indian rib-sticking food. Good, basic, melded, stew-like and just excellent. It was topped with a great big fresh papadam. I loved loved loved this. Mr. Wonderful had a sirloin which frightened him because it had "sauce". In the end he seemed pleased by it, regardless of the presence of the sauce (it looked a bit mol`e, but I could not taste it since we didn't clear it for gluten content). He fell madly in love with his potato, which was excellent, and after scraping the beets ("taste like dirt...") off of the farmer's salad, he dove into that with relish. Again he had some watery beer thing. I mean. Some lovely local pale ale. Mmm,mmm. Can't get enough of that pale ale. Maybe it was the martini. Maybe it was the nice table not next to the kitchen. Maybe it was our very comfortable server, or the relaxed environment, or the excellent food, or the price, or maybe it was a combination of all of those things, but I suspect that Hope and Olive has become my new favorite local restaurant. It's simple lines, bright colors, cheerful staff and great local food with lots of international flair just made for an out-of-the-park dining experience. I'd love to, say, take my sample knitters there. It would be a great place to just sit at the bar for a few hours. A great place to be social and comfortable. Everyone should go! After dinner we walked up the street to see a movie. We chose Wall-E and could not have chosen better (although the theater needs some seat was not attached to the floor and kept shifting wildly, but I did not want to disrupt Mr W or miss anything so stayed put, and the facilities were..less than tidy). I am a bit surprised that Wall-E doing as well critically and with the public as it is, since the underlying subject matter, if you really look at it, is not comforting or sweet or charming. It is, at it's heart, a scary look at what might be the future of man. Can we continue to consume and dispose at our current rate and sustain ourselves on this planet? The answer, really, is "no". And Wall-E does not shy away from that. It does present the possibility of apocalyptic human survivors, drifting far above the earth in a sort of space-station meets staycation. Human contact is obliterated. I am still trying to reason out where the babies came from. Investing the charming and adorable main characters, both robots, with emotion softens the blow against humankind. But if you can come out of the theater unaffected by the underlying message, you need to go watch it again. My guilt level at my overconsumption reached all new highs that were not so easily glossed over in the light of day. We emerged from the theater to a brilliant light show to the north and a wind that increased a good bit as we trotted back to the car. We dodged lightning and gaping puddles all the way home. "Poor Boo. Poor Mervin. Poor House..." But all was mostly well upon our return. There were a lot of leaves and small branches down, but the lights appear to have stayed on, everything seems to work this morning, and the dog only took about an hour to come down from the ceiling.
In other exciting weekend news, the chicks have reached that stage of development that makes me so glad adolescence is over and never to be revisited. They are gawky, geeky, mostly but not quite all feathered.They are clumsy, and adorable as they jump from object to object in their little house, and practice jumping and 'flying'. They really think that if they try hard enough they can. It's a wonderful but ridiculous time. It seems like only yesterday...Then there were lilies:
Proud hens who seem to be a bit too aware of the camera:
Bee Balm visitors:
More 'shrooms (I dig the red ones):
Babies on the move - big time:They've been out of the nest for days now. Mom seems to be calling them here and there and encouraging them to hunt. Sometimes that does not work out so well, and there's mass chaos with lots of noise and distress. In my heart I know their mother is laughing (on the inside) at their failures. Remember the first time you watched your kid pour milk? And you tried not to laugh, and tried not to grab the carton, and the seriousness of their expression and panic at failure was enough to break your heart and leave you in stitches all at once?
I love tails. The fluffiness kills me.And the color, the iridescence that I am still working on catching.Bees, bumble style.Chicken wire. Good fences? They make safe gardens!!
Phew. Man can I talk when I get going.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

And again with the camera

Thank you all very much for the NY help. We are going to go to TKTS, and at coffee Tuesday Gail suggested these lovely red bus tours and I think we're going to do that, too. Mr. W. is going to take Friday off so we'll be in NY much earlier than I'd planned. That means we get a whole extra half a day on the ground, so to speak. I am getting excited, even though my favorite lizard pointed out that it's going to be mighty warm in Manhattan this weekend. I am determined to not let it ruin my weekend.
Today I sorted yarn into piles for the new book - "Definitely. maybe. not sure yet. definite maybe. possibly. I just don't know. I HAVE to have that." I think it went something like that. I need more warm colors, I think. My 'process' is jumbled and scares people. At this point, nothing is organized, everything is serendipity, loose, uncontrolled. Anyway, that was fun and occupied a great deal of my time actually. But I am not showing you yet. I am kind of protective of the whole process at this point, which is why you get mushrooms and trees and stuff. Come January I'll share some. For now, mushrooms and trees, babies and occasional non-book knitting. The good news, I suppose, is that if you like reading about knitting stuff and non-knitting stuff while looking at pictures of hawks, babies, mushrooms and trees, this is totally your blog! I may start photographing other people's knitting just so you've got some to stare at. Example - I am writing a pattern that I am submitting to a Major Online E-Zine (go ahead, guess.) and it clearly states in the guidelines that the item submitted can't have appeared anywhere before. So, I can't show you that. Then Flow, which is just a pile of Seduce with no shaping yet. So you don't want to see that.
My day goes like this - I work randomly (today was yarn-sort and contemplate. Tomorrow may be something completely other, like draft something with which to torment a sample knitter)
Then I go for a yard-ramble, and I find things in bloom or fledging, and you get stuff like this:

Back inside, I knit for a while, or write, or plan something. Sometimes I have company (and sometimes the company is not so happy, because they are teething...):

So I alternate making unhappy guests smile again and pretending to work until other people come along to do some of that for me:

Next it's probably supper time, pictures of which would be pretty lame, especially last night. After supper I generally sit and knit, usually on something fun, but sometimes I go for woodland quests for more mushrooms:

You know, there is more to life than knitting. (right. sure there is.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Egg on my face,

spinach in my teeth, toilet paper on my heel, sixth grade best friend told that boy I thought he was cute AND showed him the note, bailing kids out of jail, feminine hygiene accidents...all pretty embarrassing, right? Yeah. Well try this - you're home on a Sunday enjoying a conversation with your stepmother and father, husband and kid. A nice relaxing family afternoon, sitting around and chatting, when the phone rings. You hear your kid so "Uh, no....she's here. I don't THINK she does..."

She turns to you and says "Do you have a class today?"

No. No I do not have a class today. I checked my date book. There's nothing in it for this weekend. What IS the child on about? You move to take the phone but it's disconnected. Still grumbling, you grab your date book and check, just to verify that you are, of course, right. But you're not. You're wrong. DEAD WRONG. You have a class, from 1-4, Beginning Lace. And it's 1:15. And you are a half hour from Webs. And you've been in the garden most of the morning, so you're in stinky t-shirt, dirty shorts and dirt-caked bare feet and unshaven legs.

What do you do (besides turn the air blue, I got that one right off the bat)?

Well, did you know that you can go 80 MPH and not get stopped as long as you stay behind the person from Connecticut who's obviously also late for a knitting class (and is the teacher)? Did you know that knitters are very forgiving (even of unshaven legs and dirty shirts), warm, wonderful people who, when you finally arrive 45 minutes late and breathless, smile up at you and say "Oh, it was great. Barb let us in and we sat and talked and knitted and looked at yarn!" Seriously. They did not flog me, shoot me, or demand money back. They did not howl, threaten, or get angry. They sat, in the dark and quiet coolness of Webs on a Sunday, got to know each other and knitted up a storm. I love knitters.

And um, customer service, when you get in this morning and there's a crazed, incoherent message from me, something about a class and students, and "sorry"? Uh...I also didn't realize it was Sunday until I got to Hatfield. So just erase that, please, just forget all about it. I wish I could. Really, I need someone to promise me that the brain does grow back. Really. If this is not temporary, there'd better be a pill for it.

Advice please: if you were going to New York and had only two days, and only could convince your traveling partner to hit one yarn shop, which would it be? And, since Wicked is like $300 a ticket or something equally staggering, what show would you see? Or is there a way to get cheaper last-minute tickets? I cannot believe I convinced him to go, we're days from going, and I am totally unprepared, unplanned, unfocused. Seriously. If this is menopause, you can have it. Give me the estrogen. Sign me up. "Fuzzy thinking"?? This makes postpartum brain death look like a cake walk.

Still obsessed with the camera, but getting better about controlling the urge. I have a particular fascination with mushrooms and there's a lot of them around. Also the garden, which is lush and lovely right now, except where the woodchuck got it. Mr. W. put up a fence this weekend. He seems to not want to kill the woodland creature. I, of course, have no such scruples and would gleefully whack him, if only he'd come out when I am out. I think he knows who to run from. The young hawks are spending more and more time sitting around the nest on branches. They're still quiet silent. They should fledge at about one month old, but we don't know when they actually hatched. I'd say we're darned close. I know some hawk species teach their kids to hunt and forage before they're fully independent. I don't know what these guys will do. We watch and wait. I think it would be nice if they'd hang out for a while. Yesterday when I was letting the chickens into their yard (since running in mine now carries the added danger of a nest of young hawks eager to learn to feed themselves) I noticed a big hole in the aviary netting. I am hopeful that it wasn't my aviary netting that resulted in Mom-hawk's damaged leg. They don't usually go after chickens unless they're very hungry or very young and inexperienced. Chickens are too big to cart off. Snakes, chipmunks, moles, mice that sort of this are preferred.

Hawks around nest (there's 3, look close)
Mushroom Problem