Sunday, June 29, 2008

Random thoughts on a Sunday morning when my body aches from working on the berry bushes yesterday. This is the time of year to remove all last year's canes, untangle the new growth and tie it to the trellis, and fight against the evils of vinca, wild passionfruit and couch, which invade the growing area. I did over 2 hours at it yesterday (about 2/3 or what was left to do) and, while I am sore and stiff, there is nothing like the agony I would have experienced B.L. (before Lyrica). I want to finish it off but my hands are very sore. If the sun comes out, maybe.

The Imp amazed me the other night by demanding some of what I was cooking for my dinner. Since I eat mostly fish and she never cares about that, I was surprised when she demanded kangaroo. Roo is the only red meat I eat presently, and it's very lean yet very tender. This was the first time I'd gotten unmarinated roo, so I was wondering if it would be as tender. She told me loudly that she wanted some. I had a skinny fillet so I cut bits off the end and she inhaled that and asked for more. In the end she ate the whole fillet. Go figure that one out from Miss Fussy Eater.

I wound off the BFL I had spun to be sock yarn and it looks good (it and the new hat are drying off from their first bath). It's a dusty rose. I can't decide whether to knit myself or take to BFLB who has sent me so much sock yarn over the years and actually got me on the sock addiction. I want to spin more alpaca to take over to her because I can see it being lace. I pulled out a couple of hanks of grey handspun and wound them into balls yesterday. I think this was grey from Brown Sheep mill ends via Carol Lee. I know I spun a lot of it and I have other bits of other greys. Now to find the perfect pattern out of all the mess in the studio.

I must have been asleep (doubtful) or they didn't teach the reality of early New England when I was in school. I am reading Early Americans by Carl Bridenbaugh and found out that 25,000 Puritans emigrated in the 1630's. There were settlements at New Haven, Stratford, and Greenwich, so maybe I am connected on the Cornwell side as well. I had this image of a few hundred people huddled in the snow in Massachusetts, whereas the "huddled in the snow" part is right but the "few hundred" was wrong. It was what he calls The Great Migration and the Puritans who were organizing this exodus from England were looking for specific people who were morally and physically strong and alloted land regardless of social status, altho the larger the household (including servants) the bigger the plot. To a working man in the 1630's who hadn't a hope of getting land of his own in England, the promise of 50 acres free must have been a real draw. Maybe they did teach this but I don't remember it.

Finished Women's work, the first 20.000 Years and it should be read by every weaver, if not by every woman. It is a history of weaving and what I really found fascinating was that a tensioned loom (like a backstrap) wasn't invented much earlier than it was. Weighted looms were all the rage in prehistory, and linen was the most common for most of the Middle East and Egypt. Starting to make fabric out of linen on a weighted loom sounds all too hard for me. No wonder women got the job. My new BBB is
Enough by Bill McKibben. which put me off at first because it begins by talking about genetically modifying humans. That couldn't really happen, I said to myself, then he led you down one of those slippery slopes where one starts by curing disease and ends with designer babies. He uses as an example human growth hormone which was derived to treat a rare medical condition and then was seriously abused for other purposes. As medical technology becomes cheaper, it becomes more possible. Would I like to eliminate the gene that causes kerataconus from my hypothetical child (Charlotte if a girl, Michael if a boy)? You bet I would. How about changing the body shape that I share with my mother and sister which leads us to constant fruitless dieting? Tempting.

I also raced through three Janet Evonovich novels in record time but they are like chocolates. I only wonder that Stephanie had survived so long with nothing more than singed hair, exploding cars, and torn clothes.

P.S. the Weather Pixie seems to be having hardware problems and comes and goes. If it has permanently gone I'll put another weath link on like the Bureau of Meteorology.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's getting very close to July 1 and J thinks my body is subconsciously feeling it, although I am not too depressed in my conscious mind. I'm certainly not very cheery since all I can say is this is not the life I pictured for myself and I still feel horribly wounded when the Bear was ripped from me. I've screwed up everything I could in the past week and feel like I'm a walking accident. J is coming over in the night of July 1 to keep me occupied and the other J is going out the lunch with me the day after. I am so glad I have friends to support me, even though at the end of the day I'm still alone and feeling it deeply.

I also had lunch yesterday with M and C for a girl chat and C came over to my house afterwards for an "airing of the stash". I managed to offload to her a whole plastic box full of assorted yarns. She knits for kids and she also knit toys so lots of little bits and pieces went to her. I even gave her my green and gold handspun so she could think of something to knit with it. I kept pulling out handspun and realized I really should knit with some of it, so I am putting the saddle shoulder cardigan back in the queue and am going to knit a warm jacket out of assorted greys from handspun. I would like to think I can do it before I go overseas but I don't knit very fast. I'd like one with a zip front. I even offloaded sock yarn (gasp). The red and white hat is almost finished. I have the final row and then the finishing to do. I actually liked the pattern and wouldn't mind knitting it again. I am also going to start summer knitting with a shell/tank from Choo-Choo ribbon yarn from Crystal Palace.

The family history business sucks me in. I am on One Great Family which links you to other contributed family trees so my meager knowledge has been linked to others going back 13 generations. I haven't fully looked at the whole tree yes, and this is just 2 of the branches from my mother's side. I got stuck with "Tyler" which was my great-grandmother's maiden name. What has blown me away is that I am linked to some of the earliest settlers in Massachusetts and Canada. When you learn all this early colonial history in school it sort of become a soup and to think that my distant relatives were in the very first settlers in the New World is just fascinating to me. I've got a couple of books out of the Library to learn more. I never thought when the Bear and I were touring Jamestown, that my ancestors were landing in Massachusetts not long after. I'd like to learn what it was like to live then. I assume because of the early date they were religious refugees, which would tie to the family myth on my father's side that we were early Congregationalists (Puritans) in Connecticut which I now know was superficially fiction. My grandparents only joined the Old Stone Church shortly before my father was born.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I know, again. I have been trying to run at full speed for the past week or so, trying to crank up my metabolism and burn some calories. I don't know whether that part's working but I am doing a lot. I bought an apple tree with 3 different varieties grafted to the one tree. So I had to dig a hole to put it in. This would have been a Bear task but I had to try and do it myself. I got it planted although I don't think I dug deep enough. There is a limit to how far I can dig. I chose one of those annoying jogs in the back paved area (These people never made anything straight when they could add an angle) and eliminated some lawn as well. I also bought a grafted citrus with lemon and orange but I haven't potted it out yet (it's in a pot but the apple was bare rooted) because I'd like to put it in a half barrel. I've killed a lot of lemon trees so fingers crossed. The little darling has already produced a good sized lemon. Speaking of lemons, I got a shopping bag full of lemons from a work friend and have made 2 batches of honey-lemon jelly. It takes almost a kg of honey to make a batch of jelly, which is 3 small jars. I shall have to try and see if one can stir it directly into tea when you have a cold. Since it only has honey, lemon juice and pectin in it I would think so. I am going to have to learn about preventing fruit fly because apples, citrus and pears are all targets.

I have been knitting furiously on the Komi hat in an attempt to finish it before the Swans match in Canberra this weekend but I don't think I'll make it. The Swannies are playing quite well (altho kicking accuracy is still a problem) and are in the top 4 at the moment.

That little venture into family history has become an obsession. I've added great chunks to my mother's side of the family about which I knew little. I've traced various branches back to Germany and Ulster in Northern Ireland. It's fascinating to think that these people were the pioneers in the US, going out to settle in Indian land in the 1700's and 1800's. Also the trend in migration from the east coast into the middle frontier of Pennsylvania and then on to Michigan and Wisconsin. My grandfather's family all came from Elgin County, Canada and are represented in the cemetery there. Goodness, I'm one quarter Canadian, altho my grandfather told the census takers he was German despite being born in Canada. I have to keep myself from doing more searches now that there are so many sources, like cemetery records, online.

It's also soup weather and I made (very) roasted pumpkin soup, which unfortunately took my last pumpkins. Then they were selling huge cauliflowers at the markets for $1.50, so I had to make another pot of curried cauliflower soup. I coaxed the bread machine to produce a loaf of dark rye but it's not as good as its white breads. I may have to replace the bread machine when I can afford it.

I vowed I was going to start weaving today and I did. So many threading errors of the silly type (2 threads right next to each other) which don't show up when you just check for a clean shed. My sett is Way too loose so it won't be very sturdy. It did give me that foolish idea of weaving drapery cloth again but I need to weave something before I go off to school in October. I know all the principles; but executing them down to the finest detail is difficult especially when your errors don't show up until everything is tied on. Perhaps I should try heavier weft.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Where have I been, I hear you ask. I've been to Brisbane to visit the Bear's sister and brother-in-law. Despite Queensland for the most part denying it's the sunshine state, it was a good visit. I got to spend time with these lovely folks who are now one of the tiny groups who are my family. We got along well, I was stuffed senseless with seafood, and I got to hear some stories about the Bear's life before we met. I also took up to them, because his sister teaches science, the scientific memorabilia he left me. His notebook of data from one of his ballooning trips, and some additional photos. And a box of photos which seem to mostly be from his days in boarding school. And his port cask which was given to him by his friends at ADFA when he left. J&G are wine-lovers so we had long discussions about wine and I brought up 2 bottles which we polished off. G was so impressed by one he went online to buy a case. J tends to bury herself in a book whenever possible so I spent more face time with G, and it turns out we have quite a bit in common. I look forward to more visits up north but not during the summer!

I came home to damp and chilly Canberra and back to work. The girls didn't seem to have minded that I left them, but I had one night with both of them in bed which gets a bit crowded because the Imp turns to acting out to express her resentment of the Senior Cat and I spend most of the night wrestling with her. I am sorely tempted to throw her out some nights but then she'd just scratch at the door. G&J have a male blue Burmese who was much more even and mild tempered than the Imp and even had softer fur. He instantly decided that mine was the lap of preference and hardly left me alone.

I got in the mail from Elann the first yarn I had bought in 18 months: Shibu by Ella Rae which is 90% silk in a boysenberry pink/purple, and Berocco Cotton Twist, both to make sleeveless summer shells. I have been knitting diligently on tho Komi hat and made to the heel of the first sock in Opal puce and white w/black dots while watching Dr. Zhivago with G. By the time I finish this hat I may charge directly into summer stuff.

I took advantage of having access to the Library's free access to Ancestry and found a few bits and pieces more about my mother's side of the family. Still haven't a clue what the D in my grandfather's middle name stands for. His 1930 census entry has my grandmother named at Lottie which is why it is hard to locate and my mother's name is spelled wrong.