Sunday, November 22, 2009

I know I need more sock yarn like the proverbial hole but I spotted this on Etsy and couldn't resist. It's hand dyed superwash Blue-faced Liecester, which is one of my favourite wools. From Stash Up Yarns, thank you very much. Meanwhile I am knitting away at some wool/cotton blend socks from Bendigo Woollen Mills. They don't advertise that they sell sock yarn, so you have to hope they have it when you're there. I am also knitting the sleeveless shell out of silk/rayon blend. It's knit in the round in plain stockinette and is rather boring.

The real story here has been the weather and I am soooo glad I got air con installed. Friday we reached 39C (according to my weather station), which is somewhere over 100F. It's gotten somewhat cooler (only 32C today) but the weather gods can't decide whether to give us a thunderstorm or sun. I have gotten all my plants in the ground bar some rhubarb seedlings and mulched everything to keep them cool, damp and snail-free. I won't have any pumpkins this year because they kept disappearing and I gave up. Why rhubarb seedlings when I planted 2 rhubarb roots this spring? They weren't red! This is the second time I've planted rhubarb only to get the variety that isn't red. It tastes the same but it just isn't real rhubarb to me if it isn't red. I picked all the peas off the first planting of peas (Early Crop Massey) and had a feast last night--they were so sweet and tender. The second crop was Dwarf Blue Bantam and they didn't come up so I replanted some of the Early Crop but they are struggling in the heat. The third crop was Tendergreen and they are doing well and filling out their pods now. The asparagus has stopped for the most part. Beans doing well and I must stake the tomatoes. I will have to plant lima beans somewhere when there's room from the peas. My citrus has set fruit but I don't know yet what's what. One of the great vigorous branches it produced turned out to be from the root stock and not the grafted bits, so it got pruned off. I have pots of geraniums and portulaca and hanging baskets of nasturtiums on the back deck. Aside from lots of pruning and weeding and judiciously watering or praying for rain, it's now up to the plants to perform and produce.

Yesterday I got my new awnings installed and they look spiffy. Instead of white with green stripes (or rather grunge with green stripes), I have green with tan and brown stripes. and the side I see from inside is solid green and completely blocks the sun. The funniest bit was the reaction of the Imp when the installer took down the awning of the window she was sitting it. She nearly exploded trying to get away. Since I got an unexpected $900 dental bill (I knew I was going to get a bill but not that much) I may postpone replacing the brush screens at the front till next year.

Today is the anniversary of the shooting of JFK and probably the day a lot of kids my age suddenly entered the adult world. Killing the President of the US is such a cowardly and obscene act and I can remember that day vividly. The principal of my high school told us the news over the PA (I was in Latin class) and that was the first time I ever went to a Catholic church. I think it was Sue who took me with her to pray and light a candle. I was so shell-shocked and that day and the following ones are etched in my memory. I watched a movie last night that J gave me for my birthday because it is a musical using Beatles songs, Across the Universe. The movie clearly showed what the end of the '60's was like for kids of my age, altho J is of a different generation. It showed the hippie life, psychedelia (loved Bono as Dr Robert) and the anti-war protests, culminating in the general university strike of 1970. So much changed in American culture in that decade that many younger people take for granted today, from political activism to feminism to tie-dyed T shirts. I felt truly alive and like I was growing in every way then; we thought we were creating a revolution and I suppose in some ways we did. However, I am not the only person in my age bracket who looks at their present life with a feeling of disappointment. Sort of "Is this all there is?" after a lifetime of work. We thought the future would be different, and it is and it isn't.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I promised studio photos when I cleaned up the studio. That doesn't seem to be high on the list these days and I feel like I owe my loyal readers (whoever you are) promised content. So, at left is part of the right wall. Out of view further right are bags of alpaca, more of Robin's fleece, and a wardrobe with miscellaneous other textile stuff such as dyes, quilt fabric and a half done quilt, my sewing basket, an unwashed fleece, etc. The bookcase houses all of my craft books, and behind the doors at the bottom, boxes of magazines. I've dropped all my subscriptions except Interweave knits and Handwoven. I seriously have enough patterns and ideas. The two white bookcases have my coned yarn (weaving) stash. Most of it mill ends since shipping fibre from the states costs the earth. The black thing with the red patch is an apron from the ANU School of Art, and the white thing is the Bear's old lab coat. Between the bookcases covered with a plaid cloth is my inkle loom, which I have also neglected. It has a second warp of my hand spun and dyed English Leicester which I intend to make a tote style bag out of. In the blue plastic bag in front of the back bookcases is clean brown alpaca. Beyond the bookcases is my spinning stash (5 plastic boxes).

Turning left and taken from the opposite end of the room are my two looms. They are on a cheap door bought at the hardware store for $20, which is supported by the Bear's school desk and a filing cabinet. I was thinking I'd have room for my sewing machine but that was before the 16-shaft arrived. The 4 shaft is closest to the camera and has my sad tea towel on it. I haven't warped the other one yet, but a tea towel I bought from Laura Fry is draped over the breast beam to taunt me. Since they each cost a whopping $200, I don't feel as guilty as if they were expensive and neglected looms.

It's unfortunate that I get spurts of energy and ideas when I don't have the time to do anything with them. Plus the old fibro thing makes me so tired all the time that, given the choice, I usually take a nap instead of doing something interesting. That or do chores around the house. Today it will be ironing. When I retire and can wear T-shirts eery day instead of trying to look halfway presentable at work there will be no ironing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Life is boring. At least most of the time. I do the same things over and over and sometimes am at a loss for content here. I get up and go to work (boring), come home either directly or via some other route (shopping, dentist, etc.), cook my dinner, watch TV while knitting or spinning or carding alpaca. Repeat. Now that I've got all my veggies planted, it's wait and watch them grow. We're in a patch of heat that is beastly late in the day. My rejuvenated weather station tells me it's been over 30C every day this week. I keep the house closed up and the drapes closed all day and turn on the a/c when I got home, just until the sun goes down and then open the house up again. One of the unfortunate features of the house is that it is surrounded on the north side by paving, plus a large area in the back (east). When all that surface gets heated up, it radiates heat back at the house for some time.

I've got all my plants in, the last being pumpkins (butternut). My yellow squash plants, loving raised from seed, have simply disappeared. Even left a hole behind. I planted some new seed but I may have to live without yellow crookneck this year. Aussies don't know them. My peas, the first planting at least, have pods. The second planting is blooming, and I'm running out of stakes for the third planting. I'm eating lots of asparagus. I should have some strawberries soon if I beat the snails to them. The bramble berry plants are in bloom, and my back fence neighbours have promised to cut their shrubs back, but not till December. My citrus is a fountain of scent and is surging with new growth.

Book report: Rebels of Babylon by Owen Parry, one of his Abel Jones Civil War mysteries. This one takes place in New Orleans where Mr Jones's nose is constantly out of joint about the laxness of the Union forces, the decadence of the natives, the plight of slaves, and practically everything else about New Orleans. But then, that city wouldn't be comfortable for our righteous Methodist Welshman in the best of times, much less during the Union blockade. I started reading these novels because the Bear did, and this one was left over after the big book clear out, since I hadn't read it. I enjoy them even if Abel's pious manner can be tiring. I know I need new reading matter like the proverbial hole in the cranium, but I had a gift voucher for Borders, so I got the new Janet Evanovich, Michael Connelly, and Kathy Reichs.

My MIL sent me a clipping of Maggie Alderson's column from the SMH about tails, as in cats' tails and their expressiveness, and her own desire for a tail. I also have thought that a tail would be a wonderful method of expressing one's emotions, altho the logistics of sitting on one always bothers me. If you follow the anatomy of a cat, you'd be OK. The Imp gets into moods when she gets what I call the "windscreen wiper mode" when the tail lashes back and forth with great emphasis. Since I don't know what's going on in that brain I don't know why these spells occur or what she is trying to express. Since they can come on when she's doing nothing but standing on the basin in the ensuite, having demanded a drink straight from the tap, I remain mystified. She is getting more vocal but I can't decode "Mao!"

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I must do penance today. I mowed the lawn yesterday after a 3 week hiatus. All the rain we've gotten had made it look more like a hay field. Once I finally got the knack of starting the mower, mowing was a Herculean task. I could do one pass through the lawn and have to stop and clear grass (or more commonly clover) out from under the machine since it just couldn't push the lush growth out of the blade area. So I man-handled (I ain't no man) the mower into places where I could restart it and restarted it about 15 times. Got lots of clover for mulch. But today my back is telling me I should not have done that in one go, but really needed to do it in stages. I know one of my many flaws is being pig-headed about these things. After all these years of living in pain, it still sometimes comes as a surprise to wake up and be sore all over. Just like I used to be surprised ever month I got my period. Duh.

I also disregarded my pledge about not using the air con unless it was beastly. 86F or 28C is not really beastly in my standards, but I was so hot from my exertions that I turned it on. It felt so good especially when I had to follow my shower by blow-drying my hair. In the future there will be smart climate controls that will only heat or cool the room you are in, instead of cooling the whole house so I could turn a hair dryer on myself.

Finally, I have been neglecting the Imp. All that alpaca has resulted in no lap for many nights in a row and she's needy. Also warm nights mean no blankets to burrow under. My MIL says she's got me wrapped around her little finger (paw?) but I know she's a powderpuff under that gun metal grey exterior and she needs attention.

So it's a cool holiday morning, and I'll take a pill for pain and go back to bed. We had a late thunderstorm last night that dumped enough rain to overflow the gutters again so the yard will be soggy (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Of course there are a million other chores I could do but most would make my back hurt even more.

Another thing I am pondering: The Happiness Project. As one of the suggestions is getting anough sleep, I cannot agree more. I am always tired and never get "enough" (whatever that is) sleep. I am still grieving but trying not to hang on to the Bear to the point of morbid obsession. I just miss him and 58 was still too early to die. Working on the things that get in the way of happiness would be a noble goal although a cure for fibromyalgia would help.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

I have been blessed with over abundance. I have started writing this entry at 1AM because I can't sleep. Being tired does not always lead to sleeping. Today I was patting myself on the back as I went to put the next to last (ha) of clean brown alpaca with its similar lot in the studio. While there, I decided to address the problem of garbage bags of alpaca springing "unexplained" holes by re-bagging them. It was then I discovered that, in addition to another bag of white, which I had expected, I had another bag and a half of brown and only half a bag of black. Alpaca has a true black unlike most wools aside from shetland, so I don't mind the relatively short staple length of the black. But all this very filthy brown! A lot more prep work on it before it's usable. This lot at least (the half bag) is long lustorous locks, with shine and a length of 4-5". I have dealt of this type of alpaca before and I haven't come to grips with carding it. It's either spin from the lock (a recipe for uneven results) or carding thru the drum carder but having to cut the longest locks. If any one would like some truly filthy brown alpaca to try their finishing techniques on, please leave me a comment. I haven't felt like knitting but I finished the brown/beige Regia cotton/wool blend socks. Started spinning a lovely hand-dyed hank of Optim from Conjoined Creations in jewel tones. Feels very much like silk and don't know how it will ply.

Other chores accomplished today included cleaning out the gutters along the driveway of tea-tree debris, which breaks down rapidly to sprout weeds, spreading snail bait to protect seedlings, cutting asparagus, going to the supermarket, fixing the remote sensor for my indoor/outdoor weather station (no mean feat), rejoicing in the return of my ill lawn mower to I can now cut the meadow which has sprouted in the back. I now have more seedlings to plant and lawn to mow. The tomatoes are doing well and the early peas are blooming and all the beans have sprouted. I have cukes and pumpkins to plant and maybe more tomatoes, altho there are 8 already, mostly not red ones but orange, black and Green Zebra (my fabourite flavour wise). There's always weeding and mulch and fertiliser. This time of year I'm flat out.

Due to giving us Melbourne Cup day off and taking Monday as leave, I have a large window to get sll this done, despite temperatures predicted for 30C and late thunderstorms. It threatened that today causing me to rush out and take in the laundry but then no precipittion followed the thunder.

I went to the movies earlier in the week and have been listening to the audio-book for The Time Traveler's Wife, in anticipation of seeing it. Altho I am pleased to see Eric Bana as the male lead, I am dubious about the transition from printed to film. The two characters have very amusing internal voices and the whimsy of that cannnot be translated easily to film. I gave up on the sci fi I was reading as it had too much physics in it and trying to follow it (whether it was real physics or make believe) msde my head hurt. Instead I am reading Owen Parry's Rebels of Babylon. I've read quite a few of his but have missed a couple. Another plug for Better World Books, since I picked up a novel that turned out to be the 3rd in a trilogy and Better World had just what I needed, and a sale of 3 books for $15. All recycled library books which I like because it's sometimes hard to hold dense paperbacks.