What a Difference a Week Makes

On the first day of Spring, you remember the views. Now Spring is springing (just ask my sinuses), and the views are much different.
THE VIEW showing greening fields and just a small remaining pile of very dirty snow.

Daffodils peeking their little leaves out through the piled leaves which have kept them warm all winter.

The first gently unfurling leaves of a hollyhock (uncovered for their closeup then quickly recovered for protection).

Some volunteer tulips -- I believe they are last Easter's tulips stuck in the garden when it was an overgrown mess last spring (I spent two consecutive weekends last fall ripping out unwanted vegetation, including some inkberry tubers bigger than my forearm) and forgotten about.

Something -- I'm guessing more daffodils -- growing beside the back steps. One of the joys of watching a new-to-you house in the spring is seeing just what grows where.

What aren't pictured here are all the irises I separated last fall (they hadn't been lifted in probaby 10 years) and replanted. Because of the very mild early winter, I do worry a little for them, though I see signs that some of them are sprouting, so there's hope. If not for the ones I planted, perhaps for the dozens of bulbs which spent the winter in cold storage in the shed (there were enough bulbs after I lifted them to plant six gardens).

And there are crocuses blooming from my needles.

I picked up an extra ball of yarn yesterday as I am now convinced it'll take more than the six balls the pattern calls for. I cracked into the fourth to finish the back, and this isn't one of those deep v-neck vests.

I also picked up some yarn for Mom while I was at WEBS yesterday. Since she's paying me back for it when I take it to her, it doesn't count, right? Besides, what are you supposed to do when your mother calls and says, "I got the WEBS sale flyer yesterday, can you get me some yarn?"

And the loom is moved!
Mom, those placemats may make the trip to Maine with us later this spring, really.

PS. What I ferried from the hotel to the shelter yesterday was nothing more harmful than linens. Though you never know what might be hidden in the middle of a large bag of clean sheets. Best not to ask too many questions....

New Things Happening

The job interview went really well last week, and it seems like a job I would really love and be good at. The search committee (which includes the person who would be my direct supervisor) was great, and they seemed to have a good time and not balk completely at my answers. And they asked some of the best and most reasonable questions I've been asked in a job interview in a while.

A little about the job itself. A few years ago the college bought an old Strategic Air Command bunker. That's right, one of those places the military could hide people and sensitive stuff during crises. It's been re-purposed to hold lesser-used library materials. Two people work there full time processing materials and responding to requests to use the materials. TWO PEOPLE. Anyone who knows me knows that short of ONE person, two people is just about my ideal working environment. I've realized I don't mind working FOR other people half as much as I mind working WITH other people.

And the whole place has this great feel to it. Think of what you think a library should be -- quiet, dusty, kind of intimidating -- that's what this place is like. She did email asking for references, so I guess they didn't totally dismiss me. We'll see what happens from here. I think I would love the job, and I definitely know I would love being back in a library, but at the same time, I like the freedom and ease which my not working has given our home life.

I am also now the President of the local Friends of the Library. I kinda got strong armed into accepting the position, but now that I've got it, I intend to do it right. Starting with making sure that Board meetings last no longer than an hour and are actually productive. Then we'll move on to planning programs properly and moving beyond "what we've always done".

Running my first meeting as President definitely gave me some appreciation for what M is up against trying to save a church which is stuck in "we've never done it that way before".

Tonight is my volunteer training for the animal shelter, but I've already got volunteer assignments. This afternoon, I pick up something from a local hotel -- I'm to go to the desk and ask for Jen and bring whatever she gives me to the shelter. I'm taking it on faith that whatever it is is legal.

Keeping busy is sooo important.

Rainbow Socks

They're done, and they're great!

Pattern: Toe-up sock with magic cast-on, short-row heel, and a 2x2 rib on the top of the foot and up the leg. 64 stitches, leg and foot.
Yarn: Regia 4-ply Nation Color #5399, 2 balls
Needle: 40" #1 Addi Turbo, magic loop style, both at the same time

I do have to admit that I need to frog the bind off and redo it. I plan on using this method thanks to Grumperina. Of course, that obstacle did not stand in the way of starting these:
I needed something to knit at church yesterday. Yes, I knit in church. I also knit in class in college and graduate school (with the professor's permission, of course), and I knit in meetings when I can get away with it. I blame it on ADHD. If my hands aren't engaged in something, I can't pay attention. [BTW: I have asked the pastor (aka my wife) if she minds my knitting in church and she doesn't.]

Is the pattern obvious yet?
I've been wanting to make Jaywalkers for a while now, and they've finally come to the top of the pile. Yarn is Regia 4-ply Mini Ringel #5217, and I'm doing them both at the same time magic-loop style on the same Addi I used for the rainbow socks. I'm really loving the two socks at once thing. I'm also loving the fake yarn bras I appropriated from one of my mother's dolls; they are perfect for holding 50g balls of sock yarn.

Pupper wants to know why Mommy keeps putting all these socks on his couch and taking pictures of them.

Oh, A Job Interview

Forgot to mention that I have a job interview this afternoon. It's for an actual library job, something akin to what I went to school to do and originally intended to do with my life. Of course, I'm seriously overqualified for this job, but it's a place to start getting my library career on a different path.

The problem I am facing right now is that I spent all of my professional life doing something very specialized in a specific type of library. And I don't want to do that thing anymore. Unfortunately, if I look for a job in that same type of library, they see me only as a specialist (of a type I don't want to be anymore), and if I look at any other type of library, the see only that I've spent my entire professional career in a different type of library.

The answer: essentially pretend I don't have the graduate degree for now and start back at the bottom, with the type of jobs I had while I was earning the degree. It'll give me "appropriate" experience to then pursue a new career path. Make sense? Mind you, I'm not lying on my resume, just downplaying my more specialized experience in favor of my more generalized education and experience.

We'll see how it goes. It sounds like an interesting job, much closer to what I thought I would be doing with my professional career than what I wound up doing anyway. AND it's a job primarily working with the books and the databases used to control them. No pesky patrons to deal with.

In other news, I started volunteer training at the local animal shelter last night, and I signed Pupper up to be a volunteer in their pet visitation program. Requirements for dogs in the program include that they must enjoy attention. That's our Pupper alright! If you will give him attention he will eat it up. And if you have other things to do, he'll just be here waiting for when you have time for him.


But first, this is spring in western MA:

and so is this:

and this:

and most especially this:

That's actually our very own maple tree, being tapped by a neighbor who's promised us some syrup. Everywhere you go around here this time of year you see two things: 1) sap lines running into collection barrels; and 2) snowmobile trails through snow-covered fields. It's a nice reminder that there are still pockets of rural America around.

And now for the retreat. M and I have both been feeling the need for one for a while, so last night I called our favorite B&B and scheduled some away time for a few days next month. This beautiful and charming inn in the White Mountains is where we went on our first vacation together and where we spent our honeymoon. The plan for the week is us, a pile of books, a tote or two of yarn and -- if it's chilly enough -- a fire. Oh, and a bag or two of penny candy from Chutters (LOVE that place!).

The inn is homey, serves a great hearty country breakfast, and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery God ever created. There are some great restaurants in the area, some fun shopping to be had, and lots of relaxing to be done. It is the perfect place for a pastor and her wife who just need some time away.

I know, I know, now that I'm not working things should be so much better, and they are, most definitely. But even when you're happy there's still that need to get away for a while, and we haven't done so for a year and a half.

And now, the greatest cat toy ever.

Hours of fun for your cat (and for you), all for the bargain price of $2.89. It even comes with a free gallon of milk. The Queen B (who DOESN'T play, mind you) has been batting this thing around for hours.

Interior ReDesign

Happy Spring!
12 hours and counting...

Been in the throes since Friday of a redesign of the office. M and I now have side-by-side desks facing out the windows towards the library. She has access to the books she needs for worship planning, and I have access to the printer with the card reader so I can upload photos so much more easily. We are well on our way to being able to list the old computer desk on Freecycle (I love Freecycle) and getting it out of here so the loom can be moved downstairs. If no one bites on Freecycle, the Swap Shed at the dump opens in May, though we'd really rather not have to move the thing ourselves.

The resulting long-overdue clean/purge of the file cabinets and desks will send six bags of recyclable paper (most of it shredded) off to the dump today. I'm hoping there'll be room for me and Pupper once I have all the trash, recycling and compost in the car.

And that's what I've been doing with my weekend. Did a little bit of work on Crocus Tank over the weekend, but I am knitting wounded right now, so discomfort kinda prevailed. Oh, it's not a horrible wound, just one of those really deep skin splits that plague me every winter. This one, on the tip of my right thumb, makes holding the needles (especially size 5 needles -- let's not discuss the size 1 I'm knitting the socks on) rather painful.

In the interest of knitting content, however:The nearly-done back of crocus. I am still worried about the quantity of yarn. I am almost at the shoulder shaping for the back and about to finish the 3rd of 6 balls. I realize the front will take less yarn, but this thing has ribbing at the neck and sleeve openings, and that'll eat up yarn. Will probably call Karen this morning and have her set another ball aside just in case.

Here's a close-up of the crocus lace motif:The sun is finally shining again, so the color is fairly accurate in the first shot -- a little washed out in the close up.

As for the rainbow socks:I have turned the heel and gotten going on the leg. It was completely unplanned, but I have to love how the light blue stripe was just enough for the toe and then just enough for the heel. There are about 5 color stripes left before I finish, so they should make it to knee sock length. The foot is a smidge too long for my feet, but they fit M perfectly, and since most of the other socks I've made (with the exception of her Pink Socks) fit my feet perfectly but are small on her, I guess it's only fair.

And now I leave you with this beefcake shot, courtesy of our delightfully sweet K-Man, showing off all he ain't got.

Ah, March

WARNING: Image-heavy post

Just three days ago we were basking in shirt sleeves in 70 degree temps. Today, we wake up to this:(That's the lawn where just a couple days ago I was surprised by a flock of robins.) And this:And this:Which is essentially the same view from Thursday's post, now with more snow.

Okay, back up. We didn't really wake up to those pictures. Those are post-shoveling pics (note the shoveled sidewalk in front of the library in the second pic). What we woke up to this morning was Pupper barking at the plow guy (who's only slightly better than nothing) -- anyone who has ever been startled out of a deep sleep by a barking dog will understand the kind of start that gave our day.

Today's scent was something very dark and musky. Probably called "Tahitian Moonlight" or some such -- still not sure if I liked it, but it was an interesting accompaniment to the day's shoveling. I'm not implying that we can always smell the candles (in fact, most of the time we can't), but there are certain climatic conditions under which we can be treated to all sorts of interesting aromas. Then there was the day I wasn't sure if I was smelling apple cider from the orchard up the street or apple cider candles from the factory across the highway....

There must be some sort of bird signal that humans just don't see or hear or whatever. Almost as soon as I came inside from shoveling, this happened:

This is the aforementioned "cat TV" we installed to keep our indoor cats entertained during the day. It keeps us constantly amazed as well. It's fun to watch the birds vary from season to season.

And one more:It's not just Snowie buried up to his neck. You see that mound on the other side of the door? That's Honker, the penguin who got completely buried last night.

Okay, some more just to celebrate the snow:

I may dislike the cold but I do love snow. And I really love shoveling snow. Call me crazy.

I Am Poodle, Seek Me Sulk

Pupper hates the blow dryer, and with his thick fur, it would take a lot more strength and perseverance than this one Mommy has to hold him still long enough to dry him. What this means is that in the winter (when going outside with wet fur could kill) Pupper gets bathed a) by the professionals when he gets his every-8-weeks haircut; or b) not at all. I suppose we could take him to the groomer in between, but do you realize it costs more for one Pupper trip to the hairdresser than it costs for M and I both to have our hair done! [Funny side note: the salon where we have our hair done moved about a year ago, and in its old storefront is the groomer where Pupper now goes.]

Enter a glorious day in March when the temps are pushing 70 and the Pupper is due for a good bathing (because of his skin he can only have a bath every four weeks or so). Pupper doesn't fight his baths, but he certainly makes it clear through body language just how little he likes it. Think of it as a massive dose of cockapoo resignation. When the bath is over:we are not sure how much we like Mommy right now.

But my, how curly.You can certainly see the poodle in his gene pool there.

A few hours and good comb out later, a clean, shiny, soft Pupper is ready for his closeup. Would you prefer serious:
Or ready-for-fun:
Perhaps a more contemplative full-body look:My he does stack well, doesn't he?

Yes, I hauled the Adirondack chairs and table onto the driveway (lawn is still waaaay to wet/muddy/snowy for comfortable sun worshipping). What you can't see in the pic is the small piece of cotton which the arm of the chair tore from my second-favorite pair of jeans. I know, some people pay many dollars to have someone else rip their jeans for them, when all they really need is an old piece of lawn furniture.

And now for the saddest "person" in our whole tiny village:In the middle of that circle there, on what is decidedly the WRONG side of our neighbor's window is her cat, Sam. Sam is the cat-about-town in these parts. I have mentioned we live in the center of town, and this cat manages to get around. He visits the post office, the inn, the town hall, the library, and a few houses around, too. He's been seen as far away as the church (a little over 1/4 mile down the street) and the old schoolhouse (around 1/4 mile in the other direction). Everyone knows Sam.

Unfortunately for Sam, however, he spent a night away from home a couple weeks ago and got into a tussle with something. Who knows what happened to the other guy, but Sam came home with a gash on his head and a series of bite wounds on his "arm". Nothing serious, and he's well on the way to recovery. Unfortunately, the vet has recommended that Sam-About-Town stay inside for ... wait, anyone who knows outdoor cats will love this ... 45 days! Wonder what kind of drugs he's suggesting prescribing to get the Mommy through this ordeal.

One more picture to leave you with. I've mentioned the view. Well, it's not the best time of year to see is in all its glory, but this'll give you some idea:Just imagine it with the trees and fields all greened-out. After that happens, you won't be able to see the place where they make the candles which is visible if you look dead-center of this pic.

PS. Yes, I allow a wet dog on my sofa. There's a thick cotton blanket and a towel on the seat, and the whole thing's been Scotch-guarded.

In Love

I am a bit enamored of this little number from the Spring Knitty. I think it would look fabulous on M. Problem is I don't believe there is anything in the stash that will ... oh wait, I bet there is.

Yep, cones of some no-longer-produced 6/2/2 in dark teal and fuchsia that I picked up for a song a while ago would probably do quite nicely. When I have a chance, I will have to swatch it and see.

Okay, one of the projects (on the long list of household projects to get done now that I'm not working) that needs attention is an inventory and organization of the stash. Wanna glimpse?
On the left there is about half of the stashed stash. The rest is on the other side of the room in similar tubs as well as overflow bags. The pic on the right shows the projects-in-waiting area. These are all yarns and patterns which have been matched and are in the queue. Remember, there are two fiber addicts in this house, so it's not quite as dreadful as all that.

And that doesn't include the sock yarn. Oh no, the sock yarn has its own home separate from the rest of the stash. Do I have a problem?

While I was upstairs flashing the stash, I couldn't help but flash this as well:This is the bed in the tiny bedroom at the top of the front stairs. Shortly after we moved in the cats claimed this room and this bed as their own. From the window behind the adorably sleeping K-man they can watch the world go by -- or at least pick up its mail. We live in one of those small, one-postal-employee towns without rural delivery. If you want mail in this here village, ya gotta git yerself to the post office (conveniently located one driveway over from ours). This window has a perfect view of the post office/town hall parking lot and the parking lot of the inn across the street. Oh, they can also see the small driveway island where we've placed the "cat TV" (otherwise known as a bird smorgasbord).

Flash: The temperature here in Western MA is supposed to reach the mid-60s today (back to freezing by the weekend), and I just looked up to find no fewer than 10 robins hopping around on the small bare patch of lawn at the library next door. Does anyone else remember learning the vocabulary sentence, "Robins are a harbinger of Spring."? I'm still not sure I know what harbinger really means, but I do remember that sentence all these years later. I've heard rumors that many robins didn't even leave this winter, but I'm still taking the flock next door as a positive sign that soon I may not be freezing by substantial buns off.

Okay, time for some math -- the kitties can look out their window to see the post office and town hall, and I can look out my office window at the library. Yes, that means we pretty much live dead-center in this little hamlet. Positive: It is very easy to give people directions to our house. Negative: We can't get away with nothin'.

A Sneak Peek

Quite a while ago I whipped up this little sample:It's a 4-shaft gothic cross twill in 8/2 tencel with a sett of 24epi (convenient as the repeat on the threading is also 24 ends). Warp colors are (from the outside) amethyst, red purple and gray mauve; weft is all gray mauve. M loves it, and M needs a new purple stole. Of course, since I am unlikely to get this woven before the end of Lent, she won't need said purple stole for another year (unless she chooses to wear purple during Advent), but I still think this might be her birthday present. Yes, she reads the blog, but do you know how hard it is to keep a project this big secret from the person you live with? Hiding a knitting project is one thing, but hiding an entire loom? Don't think so.

Best part: I can do this on the little loom (a 15 3/4" Leclerc Voyageur 12-shaft) while Mom's placemats are still on the "big" loom (a 32" 4-shaft Purrington).

Raise your hand if you were beginning to doubt that I really weave.

Haulage and a New Project

Saturday I had to drop off Baby Surprises 5 & 6, and I got caught. There we are (M was with me -- the kiss of death), in a yarn store (okay, in what some term THE yarn store), and we just couldn't help ourselves. I want to send a special thanks to LA for pointing us to the new sock yarn in the warehouse.
Clockwise from upper left: Regia 4-ply Ringel Color #5047; Regia 4-ply Stretch Color #119; Regia 4-ply Mini Ringel Color #5219; Trekking XXL #90; RYC Classic Soft Lux #007 (enough for a jacket); Laines du Nord Dolly Baby #81 and 181 (for a hat); Regia 4-ply Mini Ringel Color #5220; Cascade Fixation #9843 and 6388 (I succumbed to my envy of M's pink socks); and Regia Stretch Crazy Color #115.

All except the Trekking and Fixation are closeouts, and as far as I can see, only the Soft Lux is on the website right now. They're a little backed up, so I would expect that the sock yarns will be up shortly, but if you're in the area and itching for sock yarn....

Since the Soft Lux and the Dolly Baby are for M and all the rest are sock yarns, I really don't feel too badly about breaking the "no new yarn" vow. Sock yarn doesn't count, right?

Of course, I also picked up this little beauty while I was there:
It's a tank in Nashua June, and it's a sample, which means store credit, which means money with which to buy more yarn (this will probably go to weaving projects, however). I cast on and have gotten this far:
The yarn is surprisingly soft and easy to work with. I was a little worried about the four thin plies in something without a lot of stretch or stickiness, but it really hasn't shown a tendency to split. The pattern is straightforward and easily memorized (the main lace panel has a 16-row repeat). I am a little worried about the amount of yarn it's going to take, however. The pattern calls for 6 balls for a medium. I'm about half an inch or less from finishing the first ball, and I have about 4 1/2" of the back done. I'm getting both stitch and row gauge (a miracle) in the textured rib, so I guess I'll have to trust that it'll work out. [Sorry about the washed-out color in the picture -- darn flash. It is a very soft sage green, but not quite that blah.]

We also made a little side trip to the library:
Clockwise from upper right: The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved by Sandor Ellix Katz (an exploration of our unhealthy relationship with food creation and the food economy); The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen (I like memoirs by people who know how to write and how not to take everything so seriously); Exit Strategy by Michelle Cromer and Remember Me by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen (both modern explorations of death and funeral customs and how they are changing -- no reason other than a fascination with ritual in general and M's professional interest in the funeral game); and Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman (a lay introduction to New Testament textual criticism).

That should all keep us busy for a bit, no?

Right now there is a man in my basement cleaning my furnace and vacuuming the heating vents. The thumping and bumping in the walls is a little wierd, but it'll be so nice to have the dust gone.

They're Heeeeere!

Hooray! The FedEx truck came yesterday and dropped of these beauties. Pupper has been duly warned that even a contemplation of coming close to these with his teeth might result in his nice warm fur coat keeping someone else warm for the rest of the winter. Mommy is just very jacked at the utter loveliness of her new foot joy.

Pupper seems calmer to be spending his time alone in his kennel. I think he feels safe in there. And when he's in there, he knows we're not home so he doesn't have to worry about looking for us. You see, Pupper is deaf. Not completely deaf, but enough so that he doesn't hear us speaking to him, and he can't figure out where we are in the house by listening. For this reason, he gets nervous when he can't see us and starts looking around the house for us. I think it's when he can't find us that he gets scared and starts digging through the trash cans or chomping on shoes. If he's in his kennel, he knows he doesn't have to keep track of us and he can relax. Usually we come home to find him asleep in the kennel. And like I've said, he goes into the open kennel and naps in the mornings when I'm in the office.

PS. The second pink sock is done, and M is wearing them to school today. Now I hope to get these finished for me:
They're my first foray into two socks at the same time on one circ (I'm loving it), and only my second into toe-up socks (also loving knowing I can make them as long as I have yarn). The yarn is Regia 4-ply Nation Color in #5399; needle is an Addi Turbo 40" #1. Pattern is a very simple 2x2 rib on the top of the foot which will be carried up the calf. I'm about one color stripe away from the short row heel (they would be fine on me now, but M has these long narrow feet, so to make it possible for her to wear them, I have to make them a smidge too long for me).

I have to say I love the reaction these socks get when I knit on them in public. Knitters see the closed toe at the beginning and wonder what I'm doing or how I did it; non-knitters just can't get over the size of the stitches. After last night's Lenten Study/Art Appreciation lesson I was surrounded by people asking questions about the yarn, the pattern, the needles, and how the heck I could knit two socks at once and on only one needle. I just can't wait to have them done so I can wear them.

Pink Sock, Knitting From the Stash, and a Loom Move

These are for M. She LOVES pink, especially hot pink.

Pattern: Cascade Yarns, Two-Toed Sock
Yarn: Cascade Fixation #9298 (2 balls) and #6185 (1 ball)
Needle: Inox 32" #4 circular, magic loop method
Mods: Used magic loop method rather than 4 DPs. Made foot longer to accomodate M's preternaturally long and skinny feet.

I had never knit with Fixation before, and I do have to say it was a bit challenging at first until I learned to just knit and not think so much about stretching or not stretching the yarn. M loves the finished sock -- says it fits perfectly and feels very comfy. I fear I may suffer from sock envy when I am finished with these and see M wearing them around. Oh well, does a need for purple socks to match M's pink ones qualify as enough of a need to count towards Knit From Your Stash?

Yes, I am planning on knitting from my stash this year. There are plenty of planned projects and plenty of undedicated yarn up there to keep me busy for the next year at least. I am allowing myself no "get out of jail free" cards, but I am allowed to buy yarn I really need for projects that can't wait. Though I think I'd be hard-pressed to find a project I can't accommodate from the stash. And M is allowed to buy all the yarn she wants (see how easy it can be to get around this when you live with another fiber addict?).

Of course, I will be knitting (and probably crocheting) from the stash for the year. I said nothing about weaving. With the project I have in mind for M, I will need to buy weaving yarn in the next few months. But first I must finish my mother's placemats before she disowns me.

Problem with the placemats is the Pupper. The loom is in my workroom upstairs, which is great 'cuz it fits and it's got a great view, and it's close to the yarn, BUT Pupper can't get up there. He doesn't like stairs anyway, and right now the only staircase in the house which he can navigate is closed off for the winter. This wouldn't be so bad if Pupper weren't a) deaf; and b) a "velcro dog". In other words, my going upstairs to weave is tantamount to my leaving the house in Pupper's world. And if I do that without putting him in the crate, well....

So this morning we walked the office downstairs (it is a large room) and realized that now that we only have laptop computers, the largest of our desks is redundant, and removing it would allow room to put the loom in the office. Problem solved, and I can finish those darn placemats (why, oh why, did I give her log cabin as an option?).