Sunday, July 31, 2016

Irina Update

I  sort of put down Irina for a bit--no good reason, I was just enjoying doing the fisherman's knit sweater ("Kathy's Sweater") and now that I'm on the sleeves, Irina is very easy to pick up and put down. Well, all that pick upping and put downing has resulted in this:

One more sleeve to go and I"m done. This is interesting construction--the sleeve was knit in the round to the armholes and then worked flat. So there's no seam there, nor are there side seams. So basically when I finish the other sleeves, I block it, pop in the sleeves, sew the top seams and I guess do something with the neck, and that's done.

I've also finished with the entire bottom half and the top back of Construction Zone--it is a fun construction too as the bottom half is knit in the round, the top halves are knit separately, and then joined to make a neckline and cap type sleeves. So that is close to being done now too. Close meaning less than 25% left.

So I will probably take some time and focus on getting these two done in the next week or two weeks or so. I have a pile of things I'd like to cast on for but I thought I'd try to get the WIPs in a bit better shape. And that seems to be happening!

I finished "Versions of Us" and friends, it was good. If you see it on your library shelf you should check it out.

Yesterday we did a 3.5 mile walk--BEFORE BREAKFAST--with the dogs. We went up to the woods near our house, walked through the woods, and then down through the University district. The hot hot hot weather of late in the week had broke a bit. We're off for a ramble around the river soon.

Hope your weekend is beautiful too.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Right now

Watching: "The Great British Baking Show" and "The Good Wife". We've just discovered both of these! We're watching the current GBBS on PBS and the earlier seasons are on Netflix. Yay! We're on Season 2 of The Good Wife. Such a great cast! I'd watch Alan Cummings read the phone book.

Reading: I just finished Siracusa--it was OK--and am reading "The Versions of Us" by Laura Barnett which tells the story of a couple's relationship from three points of view, depending on what happened after the first time they met. It's good.

Knitting: It's hot but there's this:
One side of a cardigan front.

Humming: New Radicals, You Get What You Give.

Drinking: Right now, coffee, but it is going to be shandies this weekend.

Needing to: do laundry, return books to library, pick up cat meds, make the bed.

Delighted by: the idea of a new yarn store opening in my little city. I'm not buying yarn, but I like that there's that optimism for a new venture.

Looking forward to: Hawaii in five weeks!

Planning: revisions to my fall term class. I'm using a new book and trying to figure out the best ways to integrate it.

Celebrating: creating closer bonds with two faculty colleagues on our trip up to Portland yesterday. Not celebrating the horrific traffic though.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Heaven of Animals

Yesterday Ann and I scattered some of Brownie's ashes under the 'birthing tree'--the tree on the farm where the pregnant girls tend to hang out. I read the last two stanzas of James Dickey's poem, The Heaven of Animals. The whole poem is below:

Here they are. The soft eyes open.   
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If they have lived on plains
It is grass rolling
Under their feet forever.

Having no souls, they have come,   
Anyway, beyond their knowing.   
Their instincts wholly bloom   
And they rise.
The soft eyes open.

To match them, the landscape flowers,   
Outdoing, desperately
Outdoing what is required:
The richest wood,
The deepest field.

For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done,
But with claws and teeth grown perfect,

More deadly than they can believe.   
They stalk more silently,
And crouch on the limbs of trees,   
And their descent
Upon the bright backs of their prey

May take years
In a sovereign floating of joy.   
And those that are hunted   
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk

Under such trees in full knowledge   
Of what is in glory above them,   
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.   
Fulfilling themselves without pain

At the cycle’s center,
They tremble, they walk   
Under the tree,
They fall, they are torn,   
They rise, they walk again.

I first read this poem in college (it must be in one of the Norton anthologies) and it has always stuck with me. The poem is somewhat controversial because of the 'having no souls' part: I think some religions believe that but it is not what I believe.

I don't know that much about James Dickey beyond "Deliverance", but here is what I found on one website: "Many of Dickey’s poems also explore the perspective of non-human creatures such as horses, dogs, deer, bees, and hybrid animal forms. Such poems attempt to fuse human and nature into a transcendental vision of wholeness." Source:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Still OTN

Number 4 is still on the needles but I just have a wee bit left of thumb.

Four calling birds!

This one went pretty quickly.

Please tilt your head to the left to see the number 4.

In other news: I read "The Woman in Cabin 10" by Ruth Ware and it was great--I think I lapped it up in about 2.5 hours. I'm now reading "Siracusa" by Delia Ephron and it isn't as good as I hoped it would be.

Tomorrow some colleagues and I are going to Portland to attend a one-day seminar taught by Edward Tufte. I've always wanted to go to one and he is not getting any younger, as they say.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

ToT: HotHotHot

Carole asked for ten ways to beat the heat. I'm lucky we've had a lovely summer here in Oregon, but it is supposed to warm up later this week. So here are my ten ways:

1. AC. Tried and true.
2. Alternatively, get in the shower and take your sheet with you, and then jump into bed without toweling off (of course, this only works at bedtime. Or if you don't have a job or anything). I call this "St. Louis Air Conditioning" because it is how I survived when I lived in St. Louis after graduation.
3. Big big big glass of cold cold cold water.
4. Drive an hour west to the ocean, where it is always 20 degrees cooler (if you live where I live. Alternatively: "it's cooler by the lake."
5. Drive around with all the windows down and the sunroof open.
6. The movies.
7. Big bowl of ice cream.
8. Sitting in the shade with an ice pack behind your knees.
9. A fan.
10. Walk the dogs really really early--it is 7am and *almost* a bit too late. So got to go. Happy summer!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Faith and begorrah--it's a Quora!

*You are getting yarn in the mail today as a gift.
Oh I don't know--I love a surprise! I hope it is sock yarn though.

*You are knitting poolside. 
What are you ordering from the cabana boy?
Probably Diet Coke with a lime--although I've pretty much given up Diet Coke. But hey, it's by the pool!

*You are asked to give a 5 minute presentation about any aspect of knitting at all. What is your topic?
Hmm. Maybe Judy's Magic Cast on for toe up socks? That can be done in five minutes.

*You can ask for a knitter to finish any of your WIP
Which one is it ? 
Oh lordy. I don't even like to say because it has been OTK for so long. But probably the romeo shawl.

*You take good care of your hands. 
Are you nails short or long?
They are very short, because I don't take good care of my hands (sorry Kathy).

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Good weekend

We had a good weekend with busy-ness and relaxation equally mixed in. Saturday we got up and went for a 3.5 mile walk by the river before breakfast. I got to 10000 steps by 1pm on Saturday, yay me! We went out to lunch and ran some errands and I hung out on the porch. Two more books got finished: "Heres to Us" by Elin Hildebrand and "Invincible Summer" by Alice Adams. Both were fine, neither are ones you should run out to get.

I knit a lot on the big pink thing:

Today we got up, took a brief walk (I will not get to 10K steps today, fyi) and then took the kayaks out to the reservoir. A beautiful, breezy morning where we had a bit of a rolling trip for part of the paddle, and smooth in the middle. We also enjoyed watching flocks of white pelicans play in the skies above us. A lovely paddle.

OH--I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to a knitting group at the alpaca farm. Ann has hosted it for a while but I've never been. It was nice. It is weird to come in to an existing group but people were friendly and I'll go back. So yay me!

I hope you had a lovely one too.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Three French Hens

This mitten had quite a bit of white space so it was pretty easy to whip up. You can see the three hens there, yes?

And the other side:

It needs a good blocking. And a good weaving in.

In other news:
-my Fitbit broke last week (I had a Fitbit Charge and the button that you push to see your steps and the time, etc fell off) and since it was no longer under warranty, I got a new one for 50% of the cost. That's not bad. They didn't have the Charge with a black band so I got an Alta with a black band. The Alta doesn't do flights of stairs but it also doesn't have a pesky button--you tap it to get the count. And you can easily get reminders to get up and move. So that's a win.

I'm not doing that great on Book Bingo--I've read several books (honest) but I've also started and not finished a bunch. I read:

"The Singles Game" by Lauren Weisburger (who wrote one of my favorite books of all time, The Devil Wears Prada, and has written kind of dumb books since then) which was OK. This is about the life of someone on the professional tennis circuit. Kind of interesting but kind of not.

"Marrow Island" by Alexis Smith. This sort of reminded me of "The Lightkeepers" only it wasn't quite as good. A woman returns to her home in the San Juan Islands 30 years after a major earthquake to investigate a colony of people who live there now. It is fairly short (a plus) and one of those books where you have to wait to the very end for all the questions you have to be answered---unfortunately there's not a lot to make sure that we care about those questions. But it is short.

"Rich and Pretty" by Rumaan Alam is another short book about the nature of women's friendship in the modern age. It is really good, the two main characters are great and you can relate to them, and I'm stunned this was written by a guy.

I had one of those situations where six (SIX!) new books I had on 'hold' at the library all became available at once. So I'll be reading a lot in the days to come!

Finally, here is a photo of Brownie taken as she was going into labor.

 Rest in peace dear girl.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Working on Normal


I'm trying to get back to normal. It is challenging when life is just there waiting for you at every turn. Yesterday I drove up to Tualatin (90 minutes north) to pick up Brownie's remains at the crematorium. Now that was Fellini Icing on the Fellini Cake that the last week or so has been.

Thanks to all the support from you guys, and a big hug to Rachel who knows why she is getting a hug.

There is knitting, believe it or not:

This sweater will always be known as Kathy's sweater--not that she's going to get it (sorry Kathy) but because she inspired me to knit it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Because Monday

It wouldn't be Monday without Kathy's Quora.

1-I'm giving some away, (Lets just say) do you want  Homemade pickles or homemade salsa?
I would say salsa but Tim would say pickles.

2- Should I pack my knitting all in one box or spread it around in the event  a box goes  missing?
I'm very confused--wouldn't that be a huge giant box? I would spread it around. I would keep the best yarns with me in the car during the move. 

3- Best yarn sale this summer?  Share the savings!
I haven't bought anything, although if I found some linen on sale I would purchase it!

I'm running out of underwear. 
So less to pack. 
Should I buy in a month?
Just wash what I have for a few weeks? 
It's clean for goodness sake, I'm just running out
I would buy more. It really doesn't take up much room.

Give me your best no cook summer dinner. 
The barbecue grill ran out of fuel. I don't want to refill it. 
Also Fireman just cleaned it really well. 
I can't turn on the oven in this summery heat-
Carry out!

I'm drinking coffee from the dear Fred Rodgers Mug. 
Fred says,
"You can never go down the drain" 
What is your favorite Fred saying?
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Al's knitting with Quince and Co linen. 
Apparently linen shrinks, but stretches back. 
What's been your experience?
I'm not sure I've ever knitted with linen, but want to.

I think I may make a silver and gold Christmas stocking.
Would this be weird? 
This would be beautiful.

What network do you use for a new cable company.
We liked Wide Open West, or WOW.
They don't service in Wisconsin.
We use comcast for everything and I hate them.

The cicadas have started singing their summer song. 
I like this sound.
What summer sounds do you like?
Summer rain!

A New Day

Last week was, in a word, horrific. Alpaca are very tough animals (they are prey animals that live 1000s of feet above sea level) and stillborn births are rare. It is also rare that moms develop complications from birth, so it was a perfect storm of horror last week.

There were some good things that came out of it, and as I spend some time reflecting on things they pop out here and there like fireflies on a dark night. The love and support of the alpaca and sheep community, Ann's patience and calmness, the great help and advice of Dr. Long, even when he was traveling, and the wonderful care from the Large Animal Hospital at Oregon State. I learned so much last week about animals--both biologically and -- I guess I would call it spiritually.  I was accepted with open arms by the alpaca world and that was so nice, as I have been feeling without a place outside my family for a while.

Most of the time when I wasn't with the alpaca or at the farm I was staring into space, and did forget about the third 12 Days of Christmas sock. But I did cast on for it Saturday night and got a start on it:

Three french hens. But they haven't arrived yet.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Positive energy and prayers please

I’m writing to ask you to take a moment and send out prayers and good energy to Brownie, my alpaca.

As many of you know, Brownie delivered a stillborn baby Tuesday evening. She seemed OK yesterday and early this morning, but at about 10:30 am she began showing signs of being in obvious distress. Her temperature was low, she refused food and water, and she had little energy. She was showing signs of severe dehydration. There is most likely a complication from the pregnancy and birth.

She is now at the Large Vet Hospital at OSU, receiving fluids and going through a number of tests. Preliminary bloodwork showed an infection, and it might be a fairly easy to treat one or one that might require major surgery. Of course, we are hoping and praying for the latter. I hope you can send some good thoughts her way as she struggles through a very stressful time. Let’s hope there’s a good light at the end of the tunnel.

She’ll be at OSU for at least four days and longer depending on the prognosis.

Thank you so much for reading this.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sad news

Brownie went into labor at 5pm but unfortunately the cria was not viable.  Thank you for all your positive thoughts and wishes and energy.


I'm tense and anxious.

The cria is not yet born. The vet was out at the farm today and thinks that Brownie will give birth in 24 hours (and that was 3.5 hours ago, so that means Brownie should give birth in the next 20.5 hours).
Brownie is the one in the 'middle--the one wtih the green bandana. You can see that she's carrying a load underneath (although I apologize for not having an unpregnant alpaca to show you for comparison).
This isn't any better, sorry. They are not great posers.

You can feel the cria in there and there's not a whole lot of room left. Her udder is full (Brownie's) but she has not dilated very much at all. So now we wait.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday Quora

 If it is Monday, Kathy has a Quora!

*After a long day of knitting would you rather:
a) soak in a hot tub
b) have a massage
c) have a manicure

Definitely soak in a hot tub. I am not a fan of strangers touching parts of me!

*Many of us are sock knitters. 
Have you ever put rubber dots on the sock bottoms for slippage?
No--I do have some leather soles for slippers that are in the 'hiatus' bin.

*Super secret Revelation:
I haven't had a pedicure yet this season.  WHAT? Hush, no shame as the Fat Squirrel knitter Amy Beth would say. 
When was your last pedi?
Never--see #1!

*Are you waiting for anything to bloom in your garden?
I am. I am waiting for our first Rose of Sharon blooms and the first Zinnia blooms. Everything else has been up and running for awhile.
I don't think so--the butterfly bush is in bloom and that is usually the last thing to go.

*Do you own anything at all, anything, solar powered?
I have a solar powered porch light that's amazing. 
I have some solar powered holiday decorations for the yard.
We have some solar powered yard lights that don't work that well.

*So Many CUBS are in the All Star lineup this year.  It is so super exciting to me.  Will you watch the home run contest or the game?  Neither? Both?  (BOTH FOR ME) 
I don't think so but you never know.

*Finally, Your name for a winter yarn were all so amazingly awesome.  Let's try again.  Name a midsummer Yarn Colorway. 
Here are a few of mine: 
Perfect Pedi (corals) 
Firefly (yellows and grays)
and Green tomatoes on the vine.  (Greens) 
Summer Storm (greys, blues and yellows)
Wildflowers (pinks, purples, cornflower blue)
Oregon Summer (every single green ever)


Sunday, July 10, 2016


We have had rain since Friday. This may not seem odd to you---I mean, I live in the Pacific Northwest, doesn't it rain all the time?--but in reality, it really doesn't rain between the 4th of July and Labor Day (last year, the 'no rain' bit started Memorial Day). To have an afternoon of showers is rare. To have three days of showers, with a few pretty hard (but short) downpours mixed in, is unheard of.

But I"m not complaining--the newspaper reminded us that last July we had non stop temperatures in the high 90s and this week we've barely made it into the 70s. It really is quite delightful. And Tim left yesterday for a week in St. Louis so it isn't like we had Big Plans that had to be changed due to the weather.

Enough of weather. Except this: it would have been the perfect day to sleep in, but that was not on Pilot's agenda. He was awake at 6:15 (which is odd given someone was shooting off--something--last night around 3am and he was awake then too and anxious) and invited me to get up too. I invited him to snuggle down for a bit and I listened to see how hard it was raining. It wasn't. I got up and it was just sort of raining, and the weather app on the phone said that there was a 60% chance of rain starting at 7am and the chance of rain would just increase from there. So I got up, fed everyone, put on leggings and a t shirt and a rain coat, and off we went. It was drizzling when we started and we had one semi-strong burst of rain at about halfway through our 3.5 mile walk, but it was a great day for it (cool and no other dogs out) so we had a good time.

I've been working more on this sweater (it has a name--the "Must Have" sweater but in my head it will always be the  Quora sweater) and have almost one repeat done--

There's only three (maybe 4) repeats in the back (this is the back) so it is moving along quite nicely.

I've been reading "Modern Lovers" by Emma Straub and I like it. I am not sure I'd hihgly recommend it but it is in interesting take on the challenges of modern families today.

On my agenda today: if no cria comes I'll watch (and knit) during the soccer finals at noon. Not sure what else.

Hope it is lovely where you are, even if it is raining.

Quick update: I got a text from the farm that Brownie might have been in pre-labor (a several-hour stage prior to labor) so bopped out but it was a false alarm. But she has started dilating so the cria should be here in the near future!

Friday, July 08, 2016

Searching for peace

I'm really confused with the world right now. It seems that sense has been left behind and violence becomes the only solution. It scares me, and it makes me scared for my black neighbors and colleagues and students. All I can think of to do is to be extra sure that I send peace to everyone I meet and let them know that we are travelers together. I really don't know what else to do.

In other news---the news of the cozy world I can try to control--I was not sleeping the other night and thinking about knitting, and thinking in particular of what I wrote for Kathy's Quora--that I wish someone would knit me a fisherman's knit sweater. I recalled, then, that I had bought a pattern and yarn for a sweater that (I think) Stephanie had knit a few years ago. I knew exactly where the yarn was (and found it), and found the pattern book fairly quickly too.

It is this one--a pattern from 2007. And yarn from 2007 too. SO I cast on and with a few changes got this far:

So not a bad start! Jessie approves too.

AND in other other news--I think I have tennis elbow---my left elbow has been a bit sore and I read that 'gripping' activities can exacerbate it. So between weights and paddling, I am a Major Gripper. I need to learn how to relax my grip, particularly with paddling, and so I'll take a few days off of the weights and see if I can heal it with aspirin and ice. Today I did mat work for abs (oof) so that's fine. In reality, my abs need much more work than my arms and legs do, and mat stuff if optimum, just not fun.

Tim is off to see family for a few days so I'm flying solo this weekend and for most of next week. I wonder if my alpaca cria will ever be born?

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Christmas (in July) Quora

Kathy is apparently the Queen of Ting a Ling  and wants to know about Christmas.

1. We all have our Christmas movie favorites.
Do you have a summer movie you watch over and over? 

It has to be either "Love Actually" or "White Christmas."

2. How's your Holiday 2016 knitting coming along?

The second of the 12 days of Christmas mitten is done!

3. I have more time to read in Summer than around the Winter Holidays.  What have you read lately?

best thing recently was "The Ecliptic". But I have H is for Hawk on the kindle and should read that.

4. Is there anything better than an iced Christmas cookie ?

I do love those, but I love any type of Christmas cookie, to be honest.

5.  Have you knit a gnome? 

No and I want to know where do all these knitted gnome patterns exist? I have needle felted a gnome though.

Are you more excited about your Christmas tree or your summer garden? 

Oh definitely the tree.

You've just created your favorite winter colorway.
What do you call it? 


Someone is secretly knitting you a Christmas gift.
What do you wish it to be?

A big and cozy fisherman's knit sweater.

If you need snow for the perfect Christmas, 
what do you need for the perfect
4th of July?

Peace on earth and no fireworks. Yes, I live in a dream world.

Let's make the last one yes or no.
Yes or no, :
No it is quite lovely here today! I don't think it got above 80!


LWR=Long Weekend Recap

Generally the 4th is crowded and hot, and we tend to avoid places that are crowded and hot, and this weekend we had the added gift of waiting to see if the cria is born (spoiler: no) and so that changed things. But we did manage to have a good time!

1. We took a hike on the ribbon trail near our house.
2. We had brunch at Steelhead Brewing and tried new dishes.
3. We wandered around the Saturday Market and marveled and what people will spend time doing.
4. We drank shandies on the patio in the sun and took little naps.
5. We took a long walk by the river with the dogs on Sunday.
6. I made pasta salad and it was very good!
7. We grilled out sausages and ate baked Kettle Chips, which are AMAZING and not really bad for you at all.
8. I cleaned my closet (Tim worked from home on Monday).
9. We went for a paddle in the kayaks in the Canoe Canal in town--it was very crowded with people parking and walking to the Olympic Trials but we did snag a good parking place and paddled for about an hour.
10.We took care of Pilot, who is one of those dogs that think the world is ending when fireworks go off.

I read two books that weren't very good: "The Paris Apartment" and "Everything We Keep". Both I could have just stopped (The Paris apt was a library book and Everything We Keep was free on Kindle) but I persevered. That doesn't mean you should.

Happy 5th and Maybe Happy Cria Day!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Still waiting

We're trying to make the most of the waiting time--and we're doing pretty good! As you might guess, still no cria--it is about 11am on Sunday and there's still a chance it will happen today but we'll see.

Which means probably not.

We started the 'long' weekend (in quotes, because Tim will be working on Monday--we didn't have any plans and he gets 'floating' holidays that he can take when he wants to, so without serious plans it makes sense to work from home)--anyway, we started the 'long' weekend with the Lyle Lovett concert Friday night which was great. It was outdoors and beautiful (and non-buggy) night. We had great seats (birthday present from Tim to me) and the concert was a lot of fun.

Saturday we slept in (for us) (8:30) and got up and took a long walk/hike (wike?). There's a park with trails near us, so we walked up hill to the park and then walked the dogs on one of the trails--much shadier and cooler for our short legged pups! Then we went to lunch and to the Saturday market--just kind of strolling around. We came home and I hung out reading while Tim worked on his boat.

Today we were up early and took another long walk with the dogs. We stay close to home on the weekend of the 4th since Pilot hates fireworks. They already started last night.

And I finished the entire bottom and the front of Irina:

Turn your head sideways please. Thank you.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Rabbit Rabbit

Happy first of July! This is my official 'stop blowing off everything and start doing stuff' day--kind of an odd day to pick for the first day of a long weekend but whatever. I need to start being focused and stop wasting the beautiful summer. It has been challenging because of feeling on hold for the cria--and said cria is still not here! So I guess I'll be waiting around again this weekend. I really thought s/he would be here by now.

So I"m halfway through 'day 2' of the 12 days of Christmas:

I think I'm doing better--you can kind of see the two turtle doves, can't you?

And here's the other side--half a 2:

 What is up with you this July 4 weekend?