other things

Hey everybody, thank you so much for your concern and lighthearted mockery! No really, I mean it. I’ve been doing a pile of nothing much – cut two dresses with CK the other day (she having Very Generously offered to finish this show or I and the company would have been screwed!) It turns out, whatever it is I do might actually be HARD – at least it is with one arm. I was totally knocked out the next day, and am still doing basically nothing but enjoying the gorgeous weather. And wishing I could do something else!
The good news for me has been, I bought a new (to me) toy. Yes, I too can now sign emails with the cool-to-be-geeky tag, “from my iPod”. Which is where I’m typing this post from too, so I’m afraid there’s nothing much in the way of pictures today, as I haven’ t got any on here yet. Except those down below, which is apparently the only way I can load ’em from here, how annoying.
Well, annoying or not it is MUCH easier (don’t see any itallics either) to type on this tiny silly keypad, so I can post… and learning this thing and setting it up has kept me amused when I might otherwise have gone mad(der).
So the pictures that it promises to show, which I have no idea what they will look like, were drawn on said iPod with a silly little app that is loads of fun. Not that the pictures themselves are anything much, but as a way of sketching and developing ideas for later, “realler” stuff this is a blast.

Edit: ok I checked ’em out on a real monitor and I still like ’em! Yeah!


Ok, let’s lighten things up a bit here.  The sheep are still all ok, Momma Hen is seriously considering moving out of the house and resuming normal life as a Hen, the weather is warming up, and Vellum has discovered a few shoots of green stuff that actually seem to be attached to the ground somehow! They’re really tasty – he keeps getting this goofy, dreamy look on his face as if to say “Wow, can you imagine if this stuff was everywhere? That would be sooo cool… I could just walk around and eat whenever I wanted!”

In short, although I don’t want to speak too quickly, I think we are getting on top of this “March” thing.  Speaking of which, I fixed my calendar:


So.  The other night, (I don’t know what night, it’s all a blur – maybe a week ago Sunday?) at about 2:30 AM, Raven, who keeps later hours than I do, was going to the bathroom before bed.  Our bathroom window faces the driveway on the side of the house.  Glancing out the window he saw, in the bright moonlight, a large animal walking up the drive towards the yard.

His confused thoughts were, quickly: a)The sheep are out; b) Why would the sheep be heading back into the yard; c) That is not a sheep; d) That is a cow.  Just as he was getting to “There is a cow in the driveway”, a rather large bull came trotting along, following the cow.

Raven ran up the stairs to wake me, and I who for some not very good reason wasn’t asleep yet quickly threw on a sweater and ran outside with him to (I don’t actually know what) do something about the cows.

There were no cows.

Now, our property isn’t that big, and cattle – well – are.  It took me maybe three minutes to get down the stairs and outside, and it did not seem reasonable to either of us that in that time two cows had simply vanished.  But there continued to be no cows.  We checked in the yard.  We looked up and down the road, we scanned the surrounding fields.  (Not a lot of trees around here, and did I mention the moonlight?)

The cows continued to not be there.

At this point I might have begun to question Raven’s arguably questionable sanity, except that in the light of the flashlight I found:



cow tracks.  Very large, very fresh, very clear in my muddy spring driveway, cow tracks.  They came up the drive, they appeared (although it was dark and quite muddy) to go down the drive… and they vanished.  Rather like the cows.

Eventually, we got to sleep.  The next morning in sunlight, I could see with utter clarity that two cows had come along the (dirt) road past my mailbox, turned up the drive, grabbed some hay from the bale at the back of said drive, turned around, proceeded back to the road… and vanished.

Later that morning, a pickup came by.  They were moving very slowly, clearly looking for something.  “Have you, um, lost some cows?”  I asked.  “Why yes we have!”  So I told them what little I knew of their cows moonlight adventures.  They examined the tracks.  The one fellow in the truck was along specifically because he is a good tracker.  He agreed, unfortunately, with what I had already determined – the tracks stopped at the foot of our drive.

All day they looked for their cows.  More and more people got involved.  Every now and then a car would speed past, presumably following some lead, and then slowly crawl back, passengers hopelessly scanning fields they had already searched and searched again, when the lead turned out to be a bust.

Finally, as the sun was setting, we saw a strange parade coming up the road:  The cow and bull, ambling happily along the side of the road followed by a number of (very tired looking) guys on foot, three cars a minivan and a 4-wheeler.  Raven tried to take a picture, but he was hurrying and the light was awful:


I wouldn’t believe me either, but some desperate photoshopping on the above, and look:



The tracker had eventually managed to pick up a sign of them considerably further down the road.  They had left the road, walked up the treeline for a couple of fields, had themselves a little party by a creek, followed the creek halfway down to the lake, and were circling back along the edge of another field by the time he caught up to them.  Must have been ten, fifteen miles of tracking cows through mud.  Good times.

2009 co-op shares are sold out already!  How excited am I?!

I am right now carding wool (from sheep who think oats and straw are some kind of ritual adornment)  so I’ll be back later with more news.

(and if you haven’t actually physically purchased your share through Etsy but you talked to me about it, yeah, I’m counting you in.  It’s ok.)

I’m feeling very bouncy about this.  I’m going to go hug a sheep.

Sorry, no pictures today.  This is just another ramble about the hand/brain thing.  I have been spinning that batt I dyed, and there is also knitting.  I will have pictures next time.

Today is just another musing… is it strange, what is happening to me, or only strange that I even notice?  Because, I think my left hand is plotting something.

I am right-handed.  Very. I have always been verbal, analytical, and extremely competent with my right hand, while my left has been the stupid sibling.  Sweet enough, willing to put in the effort, but just kind of slow.  And clumsy.  Pretty much incompetent, in fact.  When I was younger I used to try to make it better at things – teach it to write, for example, but it just couldn’t catch on, and the right hand and the brain figured out pretty early that holding things in place and keeping out of the way were about the only jobs the left hand could manage without disaster.

Over the last while, I’ve known that my ‘right brain’ was taking a bit more of an active part in things.  I’ve developed my visual senses more, sometimes at the cost of vocabulary, but I’m not minding that.  I’m not writing, but I am drawing and designing and having a great time with all that.

Last summer, on a family trip to Virginia, I knitted dishcloths.  All the way there and back, I made dishcloths.  At one point, to break up the monotony, I tried to teach my left hand to carry the yarn.  It was like learning to knit all over again, wonky tension, utter confusion over where exactly the yarn was supposed to go, how I should hold it… I did manage several rows, lopsided and ugly though they were – enough to persuade me that if I was doing colour stranding and if I was very careful, I could probably stumble through it, but it was slow and frustrating.

Then last week I started these mittens, which are two-colour multiple chart mitts.  Enter the left hand.  It was doing fine!  It is fast, even, no stumbling, and it can even wrap the yarn around its own fingers without help.  Out of curiosity, I decided to knit this shrug with the left hand as well.  It is going swimmingly.  In fact, the left hand  is now petitioning that I should learn to knit properly (actually I knit kind of backwards, which isn’t a problem when I’m doing it with the right hand, but it makes purling nigh impossible with the left) so that it can purl too.

I’ve also noticed that sometimes the left hand is reaching for things now – and not dropping them!  Not all the time, but frankly it has never shown this much initiative.  And the foot is getting in on it too – I’ve been leading with my left foot when spinning.  And my final clue that something is up?  I’ve been pulling to the left when backing into my driveway.  I mean, way to the left, I’ve managed to get the truck stuck in a snowbank twice in the last week.  This is because I usually drift to the right, and so I am used to compensating for that – but now I am overcompensating.

I’m thinking maybe soon I will let my left hand try to draw a picture and see how it does.  I’m not sure what I’ll do/feel if it is actually successful!

Yes, brace yourselves – after months of gabble about geese and sheep and chickens, I am making a foray into the “craft” side of this blog with a display of (gasp!) Finished Objects!

Finished Object the first, and a long time coming it has been too, is my brother’s aran:


No criticism on the quality of the picture, please – I haven’t got a better because it was finished and delivered on time, on Christmas Eve. And he was probably afraid to model it because I told him if it didn’t fit I never wanted to know and he had to keep it as an heirloom forever. It should be in his will. But there, I finished it. Something like a million miles of handspun worsted, from Freyja, started and re-started at least four times, took me about a year and a half all told. Gasp.

What else we got? A pair of fingerless gloves for my MIL – suspiciously like ‘fetching’ except I haven’t actually consulted that pattern since it was published and I did something weird around the thumb to give it some more ease. But for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s “Fetching”.


And yes, I wove in the ends on everything before I gave it away. That is worth mentioning, because stuff I make for me often has ends dangling all over the place which I really mean to get to someday, honest.

Then I made a collage for my sister in law, which probably only confirmed her opinion that I’m ‘not quite right’, but it was fun. Next year I’d maybe better give her the sweater, though.


AND I finished two masks and a… fabric thing. With the material and the fire and the fun-fun-fun.




I also made clogs for Raven’s sister, who wore out the ones I made last year, and a hat for a gift exchange.  I can’t seem to find a picture of the hat, even though I know perfectly well that I took one.  It was just a hat, you know, but still.  It was evidence!   Oh well.  I baked a pie:


It is “Katt pie” from a Traditional Welsh Cookbook that CK gave me for Christmas.  It’s OK if you think that’s funny.  I think this pie is indescribably  weird – no wait, I can describe it:  Lamb, brown sugar and raisins.  (Should be currants, I didn’t have those.  I don’t think that would make it any less odd.)  Raven thinks it’s great, and has eaten two big pieces.  I think it’s great that he likes it, because I have to be in town tomorrow and that means he can eat the rest.  It was quite easy to prepare, I wonder how long I can get away with feeding it to him when I’m gone before he figures out I don’t want any?

So we have this broody hen.  I don’t know why they keep deciding that November/December is a great time to try and raise chicks, but as they keep telling me, what do I know about being a hen?  Nothing.  Nothing at all.

Yesterday I had some stuff to do in Chatham, and unexpectedly wound up working in the gallery for a couple of hours because no one showed up to open, and so Raven was stuck looking after the fluffies.  Which is fine.  Granted, he does sometimes call me and say things like “they look hungry, should I feed them?”  but that is ok, I just say “Yes” and run around checking everything when I get home.

So yesterday afternoon when I got home, Raven reported that broody hen had not been on her nest, because Cthulha Hen (When she is sitting on eggs she is very fierce and scary) wanted to lay an egg in that box and kicked her out.  This has happened before, they seem to have an arrangement, so fine.  Except Cthulha wasn’t in the box either.   Nobody much was going in the coop.  I went in to see what was up, and found – a kitten.  An extremely scruffy, burr-covered skinny kitten, with a very recently inflicted wound on its face in which my chickens are definitely implicated.  If someone grabbed the fur on the face of a skinny kitten in their beak and pulled really hard, it might sort of scalp the nose of the kitten in just this way.


When we brought it in, fed it stew and combed all the burrs out of its fur, the kitten proved to be a shaggy, extremely affectionate and really very extremely vocal female.  With a million toes.  She’s got extra toes on three paws, and two extra toes on the fourth.  I know that is a common mutation, but WOW this cat has big feet.  Obviously, cats are conducting their own breeding programs to develop thumbs so that humans will no longer be able to lord it over them with that advantage.

Her markings are quite similar to Velcro’s, but she has more black on her back and tail, and her face is very different in shape.  And Velcro wants nothing at all to do with her.  Nothing.  VelcroCat will put up with hens, chicks, geese, dogs, bunnies, and for all I know pigs in the parlor, but she draws the line at kittens.  Firmly.

So the kitten is on the porch.  I treated her nose, lent her a sweater Velcro wasn’t using right now, and she found the dog cat house on her own.


Imagine it with really loud purring.

CK is coming over later to meet the kitten, and it is probably going to wind up living at her place as long as her cats can deal with that.  If not, we have a porch/yard kitten.

I seem to have come down with “Languishing Heroine Disorder” (LHD). You know, those Victorian damsels (and sometimes secondary male characters) who suffer from long-term unspecified ailments whose only notable symptoms are etherial beauty, frailty, frequent swooning, and the ability to survive for decades on the occasional spoonful of milky tea? Usually they die, either fevered and raving, or after making long-winded sweet and forgiving speeches – cause of death usually being their approaching marriage, presumably because swooning damsels are fine, but a matron confined to a couch is not a sympathetic character at all.

I don’t think my case is terminal: I must have a light dose, because I’m still getting by on mugs of black coffee, there hasn’t been any more feverish raving than usual, and my last chance at “etherial beauty” evaporated around the age of twelve.

See? It’s been all downhill from there. Anyway, I’m already married, and so I’m much more of a Thackeresque figure of fun than a swooning beauty. Although Raven has promised that if I can’t pull my act together soon I can have a fainting couch on which to languish picturesquely. Personally, although the couch is a serious temptation, I would much rather just wake the heck up and get my energy back.

So these last few days of Victorian recline/decline have been the reason that I haven’t already posted these barnyard pictures I was promising Red Kate.  Baby chickens have recently decided that sheep are cool.  Or more accurately, that sheep are warm.  And soft.

Even the hens are starting to get in on it.

That little one on Blackie’s head in the first picture is our best sheep-wrangler – he can even stay on when she shakes, and he rides around the yard on her head or neck.

In fact, though, I’m not certain whether it is the sheep specifically that attract them, or if the sheep just happen to be in the way.  They’ll climb on any one/thing.

There has been some spinning, and next time I’ll post the finished wheel mod, since I’ve done some more tweaking and balancing – no major changes, although a couple of the things I’ve done look big.  Also, Raven took a very nice close up of Phil the Goose, which is still in the camera, which is over there.  I am over here, languishing.  So I’ll get that up next time as well.  Now excuse me while I go try and give my head a shake.  Maybe I should try some of that milky tea?

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