Mitts Off My Lunch!

Sitting there, knitting and minding my own business this morning, I hear a loud THUD into the family room window. Looking out to see if the birdie is okay, I see this:


No, the poor dove is most definitely NOT okay. He's lunch. That's a sharp-shinned hawk (an adult, even though he's very small) with one of the plethora of doves who hang out in our yard. He was kind enough to stay there while I ran for the camera.

This is the mark left on the window by the dove as it tried to escape:
Dove Mark


Christmas was a wonderfully relaxing day. The animals let us sleep until 8:30, we got up, opened stockings and gifts, made breakfast (French toast made with Panettone -- yum!), and then crawled back into bed. (Our definition of a good day often involves being able to crawl back into bed for an hour or two in the afternoon. -- minds out of the gutter, now!) There weren't a lot of gifts to one another since this splurge shortly after we moved here:


That's Django. He's a recumbent bike, made by the now-defunct Burley. I chose to go with a recumbent because of the lack of stress on my wrists (carpal tunnel is forever, even after surgery). He's fabulous, and I love him dearly. Tucson is a very bicycle-friendly city, and there are many easy routes in our area. I try to ride almost every day. M also got a bike: a pink Townie 3. She loves hers,too.

Anyhoo, spend a couple thousand on bikes and another couple thousand on furniture (at least the moving expenses were all reimbursable), and that makes for a slim Christmas.

We did, however, send gifts Maine-ward:

Moms Scarf
A scarf for my mother.

Pattern: Plain weave with a sett of 16epi
Yarn: Warp: 2/8 Shetland, lilac; Weft: WEBS 2/14 alpaca/silk hand-dyed and gifted by Gail when she was experimenting with colors
Loom: Leclerc Voyageur 15 3/4" 12-shaft

and a close-up of the fringe:
Scarf Fringe
this was my first use of my new quad fringe twister (though I only did a double fringe).

Dads Socks
Socks for my Dad, and ...

Robs Socks
Socks for my brother.

Please don't ask what the colors are, though the yarn is Regia 4-ply Strato Color which WEBS had on closeout a couple years ago.

My sister-in-law received the already-blogged Monkeys, and for the niece, well, just the bestest thing ever:

Quilt and Pillow

That's a rag quilt and matching pillow. Take seven yards of cotton flannel, cut into squares, sew into strips, sew strips into a blankie, then spend two painful evenings snipping the heck out of the thing before washing and drying (guess I love my niece more than I love my new washer and dryer). Wendy gave me the idea; she even has a tutorial (pdf file). I made my squares 8" instead of 7" so the quilt would actually be almost blanket-size for a toddler bed, and it fits the bed perfectly, as you can see:

Quilt on Bed

E loves it, as does her mother (ETA: J now wants all the leftover fabric and any more I can pick up at the store to do other decorating in the room). It seems that, unbeknownst to us, they had just moved E into her toddler bed and didn't have a blanket or quilt that fit it. I love it when things just work out like that.

About the snipping: I had to stop after doing about 2/3 of it and have M finish. It's the first thing I've encountered which truly aggravates my carpal tunnel. In fact, part of the index finger on my right hand is still numb. That killed my original plan to make us one, too. I do love this quilt, and it's really very easy if a little fussy and time consuming.

Oh, the in-laws? As I mentioned, they're the hardest people EVER to buy for. We sent them a fruit basket from Harry & David, and they loved it. We really do wish we could give them something more personal, but it's really not worth it. We've tried, believe me.

Return for the Holidays

Yeah, well, we hit some bumps in the road after Thanksgiving. Homesickness and work-related stress got the better of M for a while, but things have improved immensely now, and life is once again good. Christmas in the desert is a lot better than Thanksgiving in the desert. Just remember, the first Christmas was celebrated in a desert without evergreens or snow.

Pictures of just what we DO have in the desert for Christmas are forthcoming.

Now, to jump back in, some holiday factoids, stolen from Melissa and others.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I love to wrap presents and make them beautiful with bows and ribbon and stuff. Reality, however, is that I have had to mail my gifts to their recipients at least as often as I have delivered them in person for the last two decades, so I haven't always been able to go all out with the wrapping. Okay, this is a long answer already, so here's the crux: re-use is important to me, so gift bags are a natural choice. In fact, there are some gift bags which have been making the rounds in my family for the better part of a decade. This year, many of the gifts we sent Maine-way to my family were in gift boxes (you know, the ones that already have holiday decoration?) because they were festive but easy to pack in a shipping box.

2. Real or artificial tree? Artificial -- for reason #1 see answers 3 and 4 -- real trees become dangerous after a couple weeks. Reason #2 is that I agree with my father that the idea of killing a tree so I can hang stuff on it for a month or so is just anathema. When I was a kid, we bought ball and burlap trees and planted them in the spring.

3. When do you put up the tree? If at all possible the day after Thanksgiving. If not, as soon thereafter as possible.

4. When do you take it down? Epiphany -- January 6 -- or as close thereafter as possible.

5. Do you like eggnog? No

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Can't really think of any. Though one year my grandmother gave me a whole make-up kit.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Many. When people don't know what to give the pastor, they give her a nativity scene -- and if it's also an ornament, so much the better. Our favorites are the frosted glass one I got in college and the one from the Middle East that M got as an ordination gift.

8. Hardest person to buy for? Hands-down my in-laws (both of them). Even M thinks so.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Our 2 1/2 year old niece.

10. Worst Christmas present you ever got? Really can't think of one.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail.

12. Favorite Christmas movie? None. I find most of them cloying or stupid. I do, however, love "The Year Without a Santa" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When I find things. I rarely go Christmas shopping -- I just buy things as I find them. We've even got a storage box in the guest room closet for them.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Probably.

15. Favorite thing to eat on Christmas? French toast made with Panettone.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored.

17. Favorite Christmas song? "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" and "Adeste Fidelis" (yes, in Latin).

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I'm married to a pastor -- if anyone wants to see me on Christmas, they have to come to me.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes.

20. Angel or star on top of the tree? Angel.

21. Open presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning -- or afternoon depending on when we get around to it. When I was a kid, we were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve after church.

22. Most annoying thing this time of year? I don't really know.

23. Do you decorate your tree in any theme or color? Only if all-the-ornaments-we've-collected-and-love is a theme.

24. What do you leave for Santa? Nothing since I've grown up. Used to leave cookies and milk (and carrots for the reindeer, of course).

Or Much, Much Later

Yeah, well, forget about catching up with the trip and all. We got here to Tucson, intact and without much (more) drama.

The house is great. Very open and light. We have purchased new living and dining room furniture (we sold ours back in MA) and settled ourselves in nicely.

The animals seem to be adjusting just fine. Pupper is behaving like a puppy (all those things you hear about the desert southwest being good for people with arthritis are true -- at least for cockapoos with arthritis). He is loving the warm and dry weather -- and is most especially loving the fact that our neighborhood is full of children who (get this) PLAY in the afternoons in the street outside our house.

It has been so long since I've seen or known children to simply play that I thought that was all a thing of the past. Alas, it is not -- these kids come home from school and shortly thereafter can be seen playing football, riding bikes, hanging out talking, or engaging in other non-adult-organized activities until it is time to go home for supper. Our house is in the middle of the street, so the kids usually wind up just in front of our house, much to the delight and amusement of both the K-Man and Pupper.

The kids are all very intrigued by the idea of a deaf dog, so Pupper's a hit when we head out for our evening walks, too.

The cats have found their spots and are enjoying the sunshine. In fact, K-man has found this spot (which we're not exactly thrilled with):

K-Man on Fridge

We are finding our way around and trying to forget for the time being that is it nearly Thanksgiving and the air conditioning is still on.

I think here in the Southwest, seasonal affective disorder works in reverse: in the north, people get depressed when it starts getting cold and dark; here in the southwest, people get depressed when it DOESN'T get cold and dark. Others who have moved here from the north tell us that Thanksgiving is the most homesick of holidays since it's so much about fall and harvest and seasons changing (none of which happens here in the desert).

We're learning how to cope and reminding ourselves daily of why we are here and how great this place and this church are.

Red Sox

Hooray! This is as good a time as any to show off these:

Red Sox!

Pattern: My own
Yarn: Cascade Fixation, 2 balls 3678 and 1 ball 8176
Needle: Addi Turbo 32" #4, magic loop style

The pattern:

  • Cast on 60 stitches with Red
  • Join white and work K2red, k2white for 1 round
  • Work in 2x2 corrugated rib (knit red, purl white) for 10 rounds
  • Switch to 4x2 rib in red only for leg
  • After 5", work 1/2 stitches onto smooth waste yarn to hold for heel
  • Go back to the beginning of the waste yarn stitches back onto needle and continue working in 4x2 rib for another 4.5"
  • Switch to white and alternate decrease round (K1, ssk, knit to 3 sts from end, k2tog, K1 on both sides of needle) with K round until 28 stitches remain
  • Work decrease round until 16 stitches remain
  • Kitchener live stitches
  • Return to heel and remove waste yarn, putting 30 stitches on each side of needle
  • Using white, work as for toe, only stop decreasing and Kitchener when there are 20 stitches remaining
But the important thing here is that my boys are the champs!
Sox Win

The Gang's (Finally!) All Here

So, I got my Ravelry invite today! Username: likelyyarns (info there, none). Figgered that was as good a push as there is to update my blog.

Well, we are here -- have been here for a week and a half, and we're just as in love with the city as we were the first time we visited. My car arrived yesterday -- thus the post title. It finally feels like we're all here and mostly settled. M starts work on Monday, and then it'll really sink in that we're not just here on vacation.

But first, Texas. I do not heart Texas in any way, shape or form. We only traversed the panhandle on our way, but it was enough (that was day five, the day after my last dispatch actually written from the road). First of all, it's a whole lotta nothin' to look at for miles and miles, though there was that "largest cross in the western hemisphere" thing. [photo courtesy of my mother -- the link, well, it's the people responsible for the cross; click at your own discretion]
Add to that the 40-mile-an-hour winds coming straight from the side (forget Ooooooklahoma -- Texas is where the wind comes sweeping down the plain), tons of 18-wheelers traveling well over the posted 75-mile-an-hour speed limit, and a slide topper on the RV trying to unroll itself as we drove, and you have a recipe for a really lousy day.

It looked for a while like it was getting better when we got off the highway onto an access road which was essentially the old Route 66. Less wind since it was below the level of the highway on the leeward side; no trucks (in fact, we had the road to ourselves); and we could go a little more slowly. All was going well until the road just ended. Dead ended. Did I mention that my parents were in a 38-foot RV towing a car? You can't back that puppy up, and it takes a wide U-turn. No problem, as M and were trying to figure out if we were strong enough to move the horses blocking the road to allow a U-turn, Dad went off road. Yep, off-road in the RV. Up a dirt track and back onto the highway -- oh, back onto the highway in a closed lane, but no bother -- just wait for a break in the oncoming traffic that coincides with a break in the traffic cones, and voila -- back on the highway and on our way to Tucumcari, NM. I was never so happy in my life to see both the change in the surrounding landscape and a sign welcoming me to any state that isn't Texas.

Suffice it to say it'll be a long time before I go to Texas again -- I know, never say never, but it'll be a while if it's up to me.

But if you ever find yourself in or near Tucumcari, NM, I highly recommend stopping by Del's Diner. The food was excellent; the service was great; and the prices were very reasonable.

Well, I need to go concentrate on the Red Sox game (6-6 in the 8th). More on our arrival and settling in tomorrow (or the next day...).

Day Four: 465 miles, 2 states, 8 hours

On the outskirts of Oklahoma City, OK, 28 September 2007, 9:29pm CDT

A long day of travel, mileage-wise, though because we're talking I-44 through Western Missouri and Northeastern Oklahoma, it was fairly smooth and fast sailing, time-wise. We're now ensconsed in an RV park west of OK City (we may or may not still be within the city limits -- someday I may get used to these western cities and where they begin and end). And the best part -- the pool is inside and still open! And they have a spa. So I finally got my swim and my soak in a hot tub. That combined with a good long night's sleep last night -- and a dinner we didn't have to cook or clean up after -- meant that tonight was nice and relaxing.

There's WiFi here, but it doesn't seem to go anywhere; I'm tired; and the Pupper needs to be emptied before bed, so I'll stop here and share the rest of our day and some observations from the road when we find WiFi that goes somewhere.

When Was the Last Time You Saw a Tractor?*

Day Three: 340 miles, 3 states, 8 hours

Somewhere SW of St. Louis, MO, 27 September 2007 5:30pm CDT

Great day; great weather; fast (and our shortest travel day) driving; and we've actually been here for over an hour. Laundry's doing, supper (spaghetti and meatballs) is in the making, and we're looking forward to a nice, relaxing evening. Unfortunately, they drained the pool yesterday, so I still haven't been able to go swimming (something I desperately would like to do because I think it would help loosen up the muscles that tighten sitting in a car for 7 hours a day. We're headed southwest, however, so at some point we're going to have to find an open pool, right?

Scenes from the road (no pictures because, well, I didn't take any):

Corn, soybeans, corn, cows, corn, fields, corn, and more corn.

Cars, cars, and more cars. Oh, and trucks, and trucks, and trucks.

Rest areas, truck stops, fast food, oh, and more corn.

In essence, we really saw nothing (nothing without words on it) that would indicate that we weren't still in the East (well, unless we were botanists, probably). But then, rounding a curve on I-55 we saw it: the first real indicator that we were far from where we'd come from; the unmistakable sight that is the gateway arch. No, we aren't in Massachusetts anymore. It was beautiful, and so was Busch Stadium.

Okay, we also saw: a tiny little house about 50 feet off the ground on a pole, looking like nothing so much as a bird house for large birds; a billboard encouraging us to "Visit Historic Downtown Greenup"; a double trailer truck belonging to a casket company; and a town called Pocahontas.

Today we did Indiana and Illinois the short way; tomorrow we do Missouri and Oklahoma the long way.

There is WiFi here, but it's $4, and we're just not that desperate to get online, so I'll post when next we find free WiFi.

* Quote courtesy of Lester Holt who asked just this question a few weeks ago on Weekend Today. Obviously, Lester's been living in the big city for too long. I would bet that the majority of the people in this country don't go more than a week without seeing a tractor. And we certainly saw plenty of them on our journey today.

Day Two: 430 miles, 3 states, 8 hours

26 September 2007 7:47pm (still EDT). Oh, and that 3 states things is a bit misleading -- we ventured less than a mile into Indiana (far enough to find what touts itself as the world's largest fireworks store -- I'm guessing fireworks are illegal in Ohio?) before getting off the highway and doubling back into Ohio.

Yes, it's much, much earlier than last night, and we've actually been here for a couple of hours. Much more casual evening, with real supper (tenderloin, roasted potatoes and green beans -- I tell you, THIS is the way to camp!) And WiFi!!!!

We made much better time today, despite the rain and a late start thanks to a cat who found a hole no one had previously known existed. The motor home gave no one any grief, the rain was not terribly heavy, no serious traffic getting around Columbus at rush hour, and yay -- a good day!

I mentioned the cat finding a hidey hold no one knew existed. I should mention that our animals are mostly behaving like troupers on the trip. Pupper may be cured of his fascination with car travel after a few boring days (he sighed a lot today -- but then again, we were driving through Ohio -- we were all prone to sighing from boredom). He sleeps or pants while we're driving and happily runs around when we stop for pee breaks. Last night he slept through the night, barely moving, so he must have been tuckered.

The cats are dealing better than we expected with the travel in the motor home. They both started out a bit nervous and whiny, but by lunch yesterday they had calmed and were sleeping under the kitchen chairs while the coach was moving. When the world stops moving around them, they're as friendly and curious and silly as they always are at home.

Interestingly, it is regal Queen B and not our nervous K-man who seems to be having the harder time. I wonder if, like many creatures who've always been secure, she doesn't quite have to tools to deal with the insecurity of her current situation. K-man, on the other hand, spent the first 15 months of his life quite insecure and may have better coping skills as a result.

In knitting news, M has finished sock #1 is and it almost ready to do the heel flap on sock #2. Circus Monkey #1 is awaiting it's appointment with Dr. Kitchener tonight. Pictures later -- I'm too tired and hungry to deal with the camera at this point.

So, things are better than yesterday and looking up for tomorrow (a short day, only 360 miles or so, which should land us somewhere the other side of St. Louis). Perhaps as we get further south, we'll find a pool that's still open and time to enjoy it.

Until we next find WiFi...

Day One: 400 miles, 4 states, 12 hours

25 September 2007 9:57pm

Well, Day One of the grand adventure was, well, adventurous. I have to believe the rest of the trip will be better or I will have a nervous breakdown right here, right now.

But first, our stuff got off yesterday without a hitch. Movers showed on time, inventoried everything and wrapped it with great care, then loaded it on a truck bound for Tucson (by way of Boston, New York, and goodness knows where else). The driver says he may be able to get our stuff there on the afternoon of the 1st (the day we were planning on pulling into Tucson mid-afternoon). This makes it even more likely that at some point in this adventure we will part ways with my parents and bolt for Tucson ourselves to meet the truck.

Today, well, today started okay, but like the first day of any long overland journey, it got off to a slow start what with having to gas up the vehicles, finish emptying the house, finish loading the vehicles and get going. We pulled out of the driveway at about 8:00am and pulled into the campsite at about 8:15pm, having driven a mere 400 miles if that gives you some idea of the day we had.

First there was the mess that is just getting out of New England via I-84. Goodness, the traffic, plus having to drive through the heart of three good-sized cities (Springfield, MA, and Hartford and Waterbury, CT). On the other hand, the relative tininess of northeastern states makes the progress seem greater than it is (we did, in fact, traverse 4 states today -- compare that with crossing just one border tomorrow).

Then the motor home decided that it really didn't think it was in shape for all the mountain climbing that was being asked of it. It hasn't been on any significant trip since it came "home" from SC in the spring, so you really can't blame it, can you? So we stopped for half an hour or so and just let it rest. It seemed to do okay after that, and it looked like despite the slow start we were going to make it to our stopping spot in time for dinner and a good rest. Well, until we hit the construction mess what should have been a mere half hour from our destination.

Stopped (and I mean stopped -- people putting their cars in park and getting out to stretch stopped) we realized at some point that the van directly behind us had apparently been rear-ended by a big rig (obviously not at high speed, since she didn't get driven into us -- thank goodness). We didn't see what happened, but it seems that we escaped at the very least a couple more hours of whatever.

Anyway, we have arrived in Woodland, PA in the dark, have eaten hot dogs for supper and really, really want to go to bed. No WiFi, so I'll post when we get somewhere that has it.

BTW, we did get to see the premiere of "Chuck" last night and we both think it's quite cute. Missed both premiere nights of "Dancing with the Stars" -- will have to catch online when we get settled.

ETA: I just heard that Tuesday was Mountain Day at MHC, what a great day to begin this next phase of our grand adventure!

Why Did the Chicken...?

One of the things I will miss about living here in farm country is the occasional unexpected appearance of chickens in the road. Yes, chickens, wandering loose, will normally avoid the road (I don't know why -- Melissa?), but once in a while a single chicken or even a small flock -- as happened today on my way home -- will decide to roam across the road. When this happens, look out.

Anyhoo, I promised M's current projects.
Pattern: Maine and Arizona Knitted Dishcloths from Knitting Knonsense
Yarn: Peaches & Cream #4 Ecru
Needles: WEBS Hard Bamboo 9" #7

Sandra blogged about her New Jersey dishcloth, Stephanie's been collecting them on her tour, and I just HAD to see the patterns for myself. I printed the pattern for the AZ dishcloth thinking I would make one, M found found the pattern, and the rest is history. She has now made the one AZ and two Maines. There are more to come, as they will be holiday gifts. She has also gotten many of the holiday and animal and plant motifs.

This is M's first sock in progress (she's at the toe decreases as I write this). She has been saying for ages that she wishes she could knit socks, but she knows they're too hard. One day she was whining that she wanted a simple small portable project, so I handed her a 2.5mm circular needle and a ball of sock yarn (Regia Stretch Color #82) and instructed her to cast on 64 stitches. She is loving the sock, and she's now (finally!) convinced that sock knitting is not hard.

In fact, she's so enamored of socks that the only yarn we are taking with us on our upcoming cross-country road trip is sock yarn. Makes it easy -- we each only have to pack one needle, and the yarn can be tucked here and there in our luggage.

Smooch is done. Here she is blocking (I loved blocking board shots -- and I love my steamer):

and here is a very bad, very grainy, don't-ask-me-what-happened photo of her done and on:
Pattern: Smooch from Rowan All Seasons Cotton Collection
Yarn: Lang Twin Lame #159, 7 balls or so
Needles: Susan Bates Aluminum 40" #9; Lantern Moon Rosewood 10" #7
Mods: I hated this pattern when I knit the sample for the store, and I hated it when I knit this one for us. I do like the finished project, it's just that the pattern was awful, most especially when it came to the eyelets/decreases for the front neckline. So I just did it in a way that made sense for me, gave it the right shape, and put the eyelets where they belonged.

I probably won't make this one again.

And next up on the needles:
Circus Monkeys! I do love this pattern. Once again, I am doing it sans purls, and I will make the legs 7 pattern repeats rather than the 6 the pattern calls for. I call them Circus Monkeys because the yarn (Sockotta #15) is very colorful and happy and reminds me of a clown.

Red Sock #2 just needs a heel, then it'll be done and smile pretty for the camera with its mate.

I Want This!

Well, okay, if you won't let me put a link in the title... it's this that I'm talking about. And fortunately, there's enough wool in the correct weight in the stash to make a few, I'm sure.

Okay, my niece may need some Woodins, too.

So many projects... and these days all I really want to knit is socks. Well, these days all I CAN knit is socks since all the other yarn is packed. Okay, not truly inaccessible, but I'm considering it packed and therefore not available to start any new projects until we're settled in Tucson (can it really be that we leave in a week and a half?!).

The most exciting news of the week may be that I finally finished the knitting portion of our orange Smooch last night. Blocking will commence this evening with finishing and photo-ing this weekend (fingers crossed).

And this, this may make me finally break down and knit a pair of socks for my bestest bud -- who is a bit of a sock nut -- because it just seems too intriguing NOT to try. Yes, I will be buying Cat's new book, but again, not until after we're settled in Tucson (we've agreed on a moratorium on acquiring anything else that'll just have to be packed).

Remind me that later I need to share with you what M's been up to (it's soooo cool!).

Two Weeks To Go

and we're making progress.

S quit job
M quit job
Find a house
Turn on utilities
Find a mover
Final FOWL meeting
Final Council Meeting
Exit interview
Farewell luncheon
Farewell dinner
Yard sale
Final worship
Finish darn Smooch Tank
Plan road projects
Find road reading (are all the books already packed?!)
Finish other Red Sock
Dye hair
Cut hair
Dog to groomer
Car to shipper

"We'll Never Find Another Sandy"*

Or, these are a few of my favorite things. Yes, there's knitting content here, really.
My iPod shuffle, in lime green, of course. Working in a bunker in the ground with one other person who does an entirely separate job means that sometimes I need some stimulation. What I love about the shuffle is that I can load it with podcasts, audiobooks, and a whole ton of music. Set on shuffle, it just plays my music randomly; turn off the shuffle, and I can listen to pocasts and audiobooks at lunch or while doing the more mundane daily tasks. It is my best friend at work.

No, it's not a Pandora. We did a lot of research before buying this, perhaps more than either of us did for our current cars ("It's nice; I liked the last one I owned; I'll take it -- do you have it in silver?"). And our research showed us that there are a lot of Troll beads which we really liked, and, while Pandora beads fit on Troll bracelets, the opposite is not the case.

So, it's a silver Troll bracelet with a fish clasp, and just two beads to start (but, there's a wishlist). I think of it as my "thank you for moving to Tucson" gift. Faith, hope, and love for the elements which support the adventure we've embarked upon, and a cactus (that should be obvious).

And now for some knitting content:
Actually, it's only the first of the Red Sox -- the other is still just a ribbed band.

Pattern: My own, perhaps I'll write it up
Yarn: Cascade Fixation, 2 balls 3678 and 1 ball 8176
Needle: Addi Turbo 32" #4, magic loop style

I love the Red Sox, and I am so excited about this sock. And they will work great for Christmas, too.

* [Second title explanation in a row.] This is a direct quote from a member of the Advisory Group which oversees the Depository where I work. He is also a member of the search committee charged with finding my replacement and the person who will train my replacement. He made this comment to the chair of the search committee (who is also my boss) while they were going over resumes.

One of my very favoritest things right now is this job, and the appreciation which this comment shows for me and my efforts here. This is so very, very gratifying after what seems like ages (it was really less than 2 1/2 years) of working for people who, well, let's just say they most decidedly DIDN'T appreciate me. I have loved my time here, and it pains me to leave, though I am excited about the adventure ahead. I tell myself every day how lucky I was to find this job and these people to wash the bad taste away after my previous experience and remind me that working outside the home can be a very good thing.

They Think so Small, They Use Small Words

[Which reminds me that one of the (many) moments that told me M was the one for me was the day she called and told me that she hadn't been able to email that day because she was dealing with a recalcitrant computer.]

BTW -- there ain't no knitting content here, so if you're seeking, move along for today.
It occurs to me that an explanation might be in order for a recent post title. While I have always believed Peter Gabriel's song to be satirical if not completely self mocking, I have to say that lately I've been seeing some truth in it as well. [Forgive me, while packing I discovered the CDs of cheesy 80s music which belong to my college class -- which must be sent off to Susan before we move so that they may be available for next year's 20th (gasp!) reunion festivities -- and I loaded them onto my iPod.]

After a few years of living in and confronting (on so many fronts) the establishment of a small, small town, I have realized that there are small town people, and then there are the rest of us. It was not my intention to dis' this small town where I live or the people who love it. It is a perfectly nice place ... if you like small towns ... and were born and raised here ... and desire nothing more than to maintain the status quo (or, better yet, turn back the clock 50 years) ... and you never, ever, not even in the private recesses of your own thoughts, refer to taking the husks off corn as shucking (don't ask). I did not say I was too GOOD for this small town, only that I'm too big for it.

I grew up in New England (though, admittedly in a NOT small town), and I have always had a romantic attraction to what Bill Bryson (if you haven't, you should) called the "white-steepled beauty" if its small towns. I just haven't always had a practical affinity for them.

So for now, bring on the city (though not the "big, big city") and its transplants who don't have 250 years of family history struggling against any change, good or bad. Bring on a highly educated, highly curious, highly motivated population of people who have chosen to leave behind all that history and live in a harsh climate amongst the beasts and the cacti.

Most of all, just get me out of this small, small town.

First Monkeys

I know they're the first because I absolutely love the pattern.

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A. from Knitty
Yarn: One of Gail's first attempts at striping sock yarn, gifted months ago (color fairly true in the photo above)
Needle: Inox 40" circular #1 (2.5mm), magic loop style
Mods: Didn't purl in the lace pattern (as a combination knitter, I can be averse to purling in the round); slip-stitch heel; and I'm sure there are other differences, because I admit to ignoring the pattern after I had memorized the lace pattern (after 2 repeats on the first sock). In the future, I would not do the twisted rib -- it's a little tight going over my foot. Maybe a regular 1x1 rib, or a 3x1 even. We'll see.

Like I said, I really love this pattern. Perhaps in future I will even make some with the intended purl stitches, but I do like the gentle texture obtained by leaving them out.
These socks are destined likely as a Christmas gift for my sister-in-law. A similar fate awaits most of the socks I will knit from our stash of wool sock yarns over the next few months. I suspect we will have little need for wool socks in Tucson, at least until we start realizing that it does get cold there in the winter (they tell us this usually takes 3 years).

Next up on the needles:

Red Sox! I've wanted to make myself a pair for a while, and I finally just bought the yarn. Trust me, the color in this photo is just all wrong. That really is red and white.

I'm kinda making the pattern up as I go along, but it's pretty basic. The yarn is Cascade Fixation; I cast on 60 stitches, knit 10 rows of corrugated ribbing (as my niece, I apparently love the Red Sox more than I hate corrugated ribbing), then a 4x2 rib for the leg and foot (Fixation and stockinette, not the best of friends); toe will be white, as will the afterthought heel. I have already done all of the corrugated ribbing and have the start of the second sock waiting on stitch holders -- it is a trick to keep the hatred of the ribbing from causing second sock syndrome.

And one more project that I hope to have done before we leave. I/we need to turn a whole lot of this:

"pies", each containing something a little less than a full ball of each of four different colors of Plymouth Encore -- into this:

usable balls of yarn.

What? Well, the pies are from back when WEBS used to sample yarns featured in their catalogs. This is one of the methods used to make than sampling a little easier. Why? M and I do a lot of charity knitting (what a former co-worker used to refer to in a tone usually reserved for those drowning kittens as "knitting things for poor children"). The separated colors are destined to be scarves, hats, mittens, etc. Okay, except perhaps for one of the greys, which is likely to become one of these.

Parade of Socks

Here are the promised socks:

Pattern: Cascade Yarns Two-Toed Sock
Yarn: Cascade Fixation # oh, I don't know -- me and ball bands, you know -- but it was 2 of the variegated and one of the purple
Needles: Addi Turbo 40" #4, magic loop style

These socks were my gift to myself after finishing (and watching her fall in love with) M's pink ones. I love them as much as M loves hers. Very soft and comfy.

Pattern: Basic 72-stitch top-down sock with 1x1 ribbed band and 3x1 rib on the leg and instep
Yarn: Plymouth Sockotta #367, one ball
Needles: Inox 40" circular #0 (2.0mm), magic loop style

Sockotta is easy to work with, and I love the colors of this sock (it goes beautifully with my pink All Stars, too), but now that I've felt the TOFUtsies, it's hard to go back to "cotton" sock yarn with that wool bite. They'll be nice for cooler weather in Tucson, though. In fact, these socks are my time measurement: they were knit on our first trip to Tucson, one on the way out, the other on the way back.

Pattern: Same generic pattern as the Sockotta sock above, though done over 64 stitches rather than 72
Yarn: Here we go again, it's Regia Multiringel in some colorway that Webs no longer has on closeout
Needles: Inox 40" circular #1 (2.5mm), magic loop style

What is there to say? Like the yarn, like the colors, though I'm not sure what the colors will go with. Guess that's not important with hand-knit socks, if they stand out all the better.

Pattern: Basically, it's the heel and foot of a basic 64-stitch sock with 3/4" of ribbing at the top
Yarn: Regia Stretch Crazy Color #115, one ball
Needles: Inox 40" circular #1 (2.5mm), magic loop style

Told you I'd been busy knitting socks. I don't know why, but that's about all I've felt like knitting lately. Guess it's that portability, simplicity, undemanding nature of socks. With life as uncertain, upheaved, and crazy as it is right now, I don't need big projects that demand a lot of attention.

I have almost finished my first pair of Monkeys. Just one pattern repeat and the toe to go on the second, then will photo and post.

I'm Too Big for this Small Town

[There's knitting content here for those who persevere.]

I've moved before. I've moved many times before. Both U-Haul-wise and hire-the-mover-wise (never yet been fortunate enough for one of those hire-the-mover-to-do-the-packing-too moves). But I have realized recently that I have never really MOVED. That is, moving across the country isn't anything like moving across the state.

First off, we've got not only the two of us and all our earthly possessions to move: we've got two kitties, one doggie, and two cars. While this experience has helped me understand why people leave pets (especially cats) at shelters when they make long distance moves, I could never do that (WE could never do that). But how to get two cats, neither of whom is fond of the car 2200 miles?

Flying is out as the K-Man is too big to comfortably spend 7 hours or more in an airline-approved carry-on, Pupper is way too big to carry on, and I ain't shipping anyone cargo. Driving could prove to be a nightmare scenario for all involved, but especially the cats who'd have to spend many hours a day for 6 days in their crates.

Enter my parents and this beautiful beast known as a 38-foot motor home. They've got friends in Albuquerque who've been after them to visit for years; the Balloon Festival begins on October 6; and the cats are more likely to take the trip in stride if they take it in style.

Have I mentioned that I love my parents? And that I owe my father big time for this one. Six days in a motor home with 2 cats, a dog, and three women could try the patience of anyone. Fortunately, my father is one of the most patient people I know.

So, we leave in caravan: my parents, M, and the cats in the RV; with me following behind in M's car with Pupper. My car will be shipped. M and I will trade off driving her car with the dog, and we'll all meet up for lunch and to sleep for the night.

And where are we going when we get there? I'm happy to announce that we have signed the lease (finally!) on a great house. We and our stuff have a destination. Hooray! And just one thing to share about that:

I knew when I saw these circus tent stripes on the wall of one of the guest rooms (probably the one that'll be my workroom) that this was the house for me.

Okay, some knitting content:

Pattern: Tidal Wave Socks from Southwest Trading
Yarn: TOFUtsies #726, one ball
Needles: Inox 40" circular #1 (2.5mm), magic loop style

I LOVE this yarn; I LOVE this pattern. For a yarn that is 50% wool, it is not at all itchy on the foot, and it is a dream to knit. I'd heard people rave that they loved the yarn, and I'd heard people rave that they hated it. It definitely has no "give", and you have to be careful with your tension, but I found it comfortable, soft, and quite fast to work.

We bought just a few more balls of TOFUtsies on a recent trip to Webs to spend the last of our credits and gift certificates before the move. Our aim on the trip was to stock up on non-wool sock yarns, and we succeeded:

Let's see: Cascade Fixation in 3678 and 8176 for a pair of Red Sox; Cascade Fixation in 9936 because it went with one of the day's color themes; Online Supersocke #1001 (I know, wool, but it fit the OTHER color theme); Filatura di Crosa Maxime Print #5047 (again, wool, but the color, you know); and TOFUtsies #784, 725, and 790. Sock Yarn Doesn't Count (and with M learning to knit socks, there are now two of us to keep supplied)!

What I may love most about the Tidal Wave socks is just how perfectly they go with my pink All Stars:

Chaos, You Have Met Your Match

So, to defeat the forces of chaos (or kaos, to extend the "Get Smart" metaphor), I must take this:
boxes full of books stacked in the tunnel, and turn it into this:
nice and neatly organized and findable materials (which are sent here because few people are looking for them, but that's beside the point, the point is that we can find them -- and that they're stored in the most space-saving way possible).

To get the loaded trays of books (some of which weigh 75 pounds) to their final resting place (M does insist on calling this place the book cemetery), I have to take them on this long journey:
Whenever I take a full cart of trays off to be shelved, I am put in mind of the final scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where the carton containing the ark is being wheeled off into some warehouse deep below the capital (at least that's where I always pictured it being).

And yes, those shelves you see in the distance are over 10 feet tall. And many of the trays weigh over 50 pounds. And yes, I have grown muscles in places I didn't know girls could have muscles since I started working here. And I have been happier working here than I have been at work in a long time.

Okay, lest you think the work is all heavy lifting and ladder-climbing, there's a whole lot of magic with the computer between the chaos and the order (the important part that makes the books findable in the end). It is particular and picky, and while basically easy for anyone with any tech services experience, it is complex at the same time.

Believe me, I just had to write the manual for it so that my replacement can be trained by someone who's never done the job after I leave. [The wheels of academe, they do grind painfully slowly, especially in the summer -- two month's notice was not enough to have my replacement here before I leave.]

Next up -- finished socks. I promise!

How I Get to Work

So, yes most mornings I feel a little like Maxwell Smart when I get to work. Security gate, other gate with surveillance camera, security doors, regular doors, two alarm systems (with different codes), more locked doors (one which shrieks when opened), and then a call to security to let them know I made it in safely.

And like Max, my job usually involves attempting to keep the evil minions of kaos from taking over the world (or at least this small underground piece of it). Perhaps more on that later.

And I do promise a return to some real knitting content soon. There are FOs to show off.

No More Secrets

Good grief, where did I disappear to for four months?! Well, into a hole in the ground and behind a veil of secrecy. Interestingly, the two have nothing to do with one another (or with our Vice President).

The New Job

I LOVE it! What's not to love for an introverted librarian about working in an underground bunker processing books. There are only two of us here, and our jobs are unrelated (or at least un-intertwined) enough that we don't really interact much in the course of the day. Ahhhh bliss. M is thrilled to have me come home from work at the end of the day not completely exhausted by a) dreadful working conditions and/or b) dreadful human interactions. We can actually have a social life.

Boss is truly wonderful, which makes it just that much better.

Which also makes THE SECRET a little harder to deal with.

The Secret

We're moving to Tucson, AZ. In less than a month we and our stuff will be in transit to the desert. We are thrilled, terrified, nervous, and a little overwhelmed at the whole idea.

We have known since March that this could be a possibility, but we couldn't say anything to anyone, especially with me in the middle of a job search. Yes, I was a little uncomfortable searching for a job here knowing there was a possibility we'd be moving this fall, but I needed a job, and there was also a very good possibility we WOULDN'T be moving in the fall. So search I did, and then, on my 2-month anniversary, as M was home rather excitedly preparing her letter of resignation, I told my boss (with slightly less glee) that I would have to leave in two months (my last day being just four months and two days after my first day).

Why? M has a great new position with what seems like a fantastic church.

More to come in future posts. I promise I will be better now that the secret's out. Well, at least until I get frantic over the packing.

Employment At Last

Okay, so "at last" might be a bit dramatic. Have I really seemed to be missing the daily grind since January?

But anyway, yesterday I got the call offering me the library job I interviewed for a few weeks ago. I accepted, and after salary negotiations and an official offer this afternoon, I will start sometime the week of the 14th of May. Starting date complicated by a trip to Maine scheduled for May 4-5 and another to Tucson over Mother's Day weekend the 10th through the 14th on my end and a number of meetings on my new supervisor's end.

Still trying to get my head around what it means that I will once again be working outside the house during the week. Of course, for Pupper it means a return to spending more time in his kennel and getting spoiled by his dog walker (who seems quite happy in a way to be getting her job back). For us it means cleaning the house, doing the laundry and going grocery shopping on weekends and evenings at least until M is out of school at the end of June.

And of course, there will be far less time for knitting, weaving and writing. Not to mention gardening, straightening out the stash and organizing our ridiculously messy pattern collection. Alas, the life of a working stiff one again has entrapped me. Cue the violins.

In other news, here is the promised Cork sweater photo:
Pattern: Top-down raglan with rolled collar and garter stitch cuffs. I created a basic pattern with Sweater Wizard based on the gauge, but mostly I just started a sweater and made it to fit (ah, the beauty of top down construction).
Yarn: Rowan Cork #047, Pleasure, 9 balls or so (it was less than a bag, I know that)
Needles: Addi Turbo 40" and 32" #11 (the 40" for magic looping the sleeves); Inox Nickel Plated 32" and 24" #10 (for collar and cuffs).

I love this sweater; I've actually loved this sweater since the first time I slipped the yoke over my head to see if it was time to divide the body and sleeves. It is warm and soft -- soft enough that I could probably wear it with a short-sleeved t-shirt underneath, making it exactly the sweatshirt substitute I was hoping for. Cork is a great yarn, and it is definitely a shame that they discontinued it. Having this sweater finally finished (I started and abandoned it over a year ago) is making me regret in some small way letting the bag of brown that I had stashed go.

Why did I abandon it if I loved it so? I don't know how other people do it, because it was killing me to try to knit the sleeves on #11 DPs without ladders. So I frogged the sleeves and started over using two short circs, but the dangling bits were annoying me. So I abandoned the sweater until I could figure out a solution.

For a while it was looking like the solution was going to be to knit the sleeves flat and seam them (which is what I did with Fantine); then I got tired of always worrying about losing the extra DP from my sock bag, and I got tired of poking myself with the DPs while knitting socks so I finally learned magic loop. Not only have I not knit socks any other way since, but this also presented the solution to the sleeve issue with the Cork sweater.

Monday afternoon, M got home early so we headed down to the big city for some shopping. We hit WEBS, and M is now the proud owner of a Molly of her very own. Hers is blue. I also picked up some hot pink Rowan 4-Ply Soft to make us some socks and a couple of balls of Tofutsies. Everyone I've read or talked to has a very strong opinion one way or the other about this yarn, so I'm curious to try it. We couldn't decide between colors 727 and 726, so we bought both. I'll have to find a really good pattern for it.

I am nearly done with the back of the Crocus Tank, but no pic since it looks pretty much the same as the back of the other one (scroll down the page about halfway), only it's periwinkle this time. [If I had better Photo Shop skills, I'm sure I could just doctor the photo, but I've got other things I'd rather do.]

I'm still loving the tank and the pattern, and this one will probably make the trip to Tucson with us. I wonder if I'll have time to make us a Smooch before then, too. I hear it's already very warm down there in desert (at least during the day).

And here's a final parting pic of the felted penguin, all dressed up for his next great adventure, the school's fundraising auction and arts night Saturday.His hat and scarf are made from more of my nearly endless store of DK weight superwash using the directions that are in the Fiber Trends pattern.

De-Tox, Re-Tox, and De-Tox Again
(and other tales of vacation)

So, I think I mentioned before that M and I were engaged in a spring detox regimen because we came out of winter feeling completely blah. Well, we cleverly planned it so our detox ended a couple days before we headed for vacation.

Did the detox work? Oh yes, indeed, it did. We were both feeling better, looking better (clearer skin and everything), and our clothes were getting downright big. Hooray.

Well, we decided to be bad on vacation, and boy did I pay for it. My system rebelled big time against the excess of bad food being put into it. So now that we're home, it's back to strict detox for another week, then just eating healthy until we can lose the rest of the weight we are looking to get rid of (I'm aiming for a size 10 by the UCC's General Synod at the end of June -- not an unreachable goal, but it'll take work).

We did have a wonderful time despite my system's rebellion and the snow. We pretty much had the Inn to ourselves since most other guests had bugged out at the threat of up to a foot of new snow to start the week. The foot of snow never materialized, and we were able to enjoy all of our favorite White Mountain pursuits (with the exception of hiking 'cause the trails were just way too muddy). This time we even indulged ourselves with in-room massages. After that we realized the we both need to get massages more often.

So, now we're home, the rain has finally stopped, and it's supposed to hit the mid-80s today (before dropping back into the 50s by mid-week; this is, after all, spring in New England). I hauled the grill out of the garage yesterday and grilled both lunch and dinner. We also found one of the few creamees that are open this early and indulged in a little cold refreshment -- much to Pupper's delight; he loves ice cream. [For those who are wondering, "creamee" is Western Mass speak for a shack by the side of the road where one can buy soft serve ice cream. Some also do hard ice cream, burgers and hot dogs, french fries and the like, but the soft serve is what defines a creamee.]

But one of my favorite things about summer's imminent arrival is this:hot pink toe nails and my way cool sandals-of-many-colors.

There was some of the promised knitting on the trip.
Please excuse my very white legs -- would you believe I've already done two applications of self-tanner?

Pattern: Top-down sock; 72 stitches; stockinette leg and foot; 2x2 cuff; short-row heel; round toe
Yarn: Plymouth Sockotta #5616, 1 ball
Needle: Inox nickel-plated 40" #0; magic loop, one at a time

I love these socks, with the possible exception of the round toe. I don't think I'll be doing those again. The colors are perfect for those summer times when I need socks for whatever reason. Sockotta is fairly easy to work with, though I find it a little hard. Perhaps it'll soften with washing. I have another ball of Sockotta in color 367 which I will probably be making another pair of simple socks from, but not right now. While I love knitting socks on size 0 needles, they take a toll on my fingers. If I had a dime for every time I poke a hole in the tip of my index fingers with the needle....

So, the next socks will be my purple fixation socks, the ones I had to buy the yarn for after finishing M's pink ones. They're knit on a more reasonable size 4 -- hard to poke holes in my fingers.

I did finish the Cork sweater as well, but it's upstairs drying on Clara, and since it looks absolutely awful on her, you'll have to wait until it's dry and I can do a mirror shot of it on me. And I've got a few inches done on the back of the crocus tank I'm making for M and I.

And finally, here's what the approach of summer looks like at the parsonage (the kitties love their porch):

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Mud Season

... for a little more snow (like, about 2 inches).

And now on to more of the FO extravaganza.

Pattern: from Handknit Style II
Yarn: Rowan Big Wool #28, 7 balls; some red lurex
Needles: Addi Turbo 32" #15 and 40" #13

I actually made this one before Christmas last year, to wear on Christmas Eve. I had been eying this color of Big Wool ever since it arrived, and when Handknit Style II showed up, I found the perfect thing to do with it. I also happened to have bought a lifetime supply (14,000 yards on a cone) of red lurex at WEBS' $3.00 cone sale a while back. Once I had the shrug finished, M declared she couldn't wear it 'cuz she doesn't have the chest for the style. I think she looks fine in it, but anyway.

Enter Fantine. She was supposed to be M's super warm fancy Big Wool sweater, but she got derailed before Christmas and just finished yesterday.

Pattern: Fantine from French Girl Knits
Yarn: Rowan Big Wool #31, 7 balls
Needles: Addi Turbo 32" #17 (never again!)
Mods: I made the jacket longer to fall at M's natural waist, and gave it full length sleeves rather than the 3/4 sleeves the pattern calls for. All together, that wound up using just over 2 balls more than the 4 the pattern calls for.

She is modeled here by Clara, a dressmaker's dummy I found in the attic when we moved in. The woman who owns the house was seamstress to the town for many years (we have a small closet upstairs with more tulle than I think it healthy). Clara is a great blocking tool for sweaters which are knit in one piece as Fatine is. Believe me, though, Fantine looks sooooo much better on M.

And finally, we had a visitor yesterday.

Yep, that's a real pigeon, and if you look closely you may be able to see that he's banded. No clue where he came from or how he got to thinking that our rural garage was where he should be, but he hung around for over half an hour before leaving. Even the sparrows were a bit confused.