Saturday, December 31, 2016

Yeah well.

I guess a 'thing' on blogs is to have some kind of summary post about the year.  I think every year has its share of challenges and successes, perhaps the unique thing about this year for me has been the challenges have been pretty darn challenging and the successes don't quite seem to balance them out. But I'll give it a try.

The good: I had a great sabbatical from January-March which gave me a huge hunk of time to get some research and writing done, and those chickens have come home to roost at the end of this year where I've seen a flurry of publication acceptances---two of which were to top journals. So that's good! Our book on Mechanical Turk has also raised my profile as an expert in this area. Knitting wise, I've continued to knit from the stash and to try new things (brioche! next up: two color brioche!). I started working out more and cut wayyyyy back on Diet Coke (although the magical 'and I feel 100% better than I ever have! has not occurred) and I read some great books.  I've become more involved with the alpaca community and have made some good friends there.

The bad: administrative changes have almost eliminated faculty governance at my University, and that's just hard. Brownie the alpaca's death from complications from childbirth is still hard to deal with, along with the profound experience of helping to deliver a stillborn cria.

The hope: Tim will finish his PhD next year and he won't have to work 24/7 (or let's say 16/7, since he does sleep). That will give us more time together. The dogs and cats continue to be healthy. My new alpaca, Tink, will deliver a healthy cria in August. And I'll figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Colorful Post

I just noticed that Blogger changed some of their fonts. When did that happen?

So it has been a somewhat busy break--we're both feeling a bit off our schedules (the dogs too, but they are good at adapting). I don't go back til the 9th, which is good because I've done minimal prep for the class. I also was appointed as a deputy editor for a journal and that work just started this week, so there is a bit of a learning curve there. So this should be a busy term even though I only have one class. I'm glad I have a bit of time to get my act together. The ice storm followed by no internet followed by Christmas kind of threw me for a loop.

We had a lovely dinner on Christmas Eve and then opened presents Christmas day. I then had some weird stomach bug that lasted about 24 hours. On Boxing day we went to our friends' Steve and Jen's house for brunch, and then that evening we went to the alpaca farm for a gathering. Tim worked on Tuesday in Corvallis--yesterday he worked at home and we did some errands that were not satisfying (we had two things to buy, neither place we went had the things we wanted). He is off work Friday-Monday---we're not big NYE people. We are taking two of my PhD students out to breakfast with their families tomorrow.

Two Christmas gifts should be noted. First, a Sodastream. This is a magical tool! I love fizzy water and now I have non stop fizzy water at my house. La Croix value will decrease.

And this.
A potholder loom! I made my first potholder (which we always need) and am excited to make another one.

The brioche scarf is done, too. It is really heavy.
How are you?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Last Quora of 2016

Kudos to Kathy (and this week also to her daughter) for all the QUORAing this year!

Christmas day was very quiet--I had some little tummy bug but feel  much better now. We missed our dinner with friends but do the things we planned to do.

  •  Name your best FO of 2016: it has to be "Kathy's sweater"--
  • Ask someone in your family to name something you’ve knit for them--I asked Tim and he said 'socks and hats'
  • Did you get any yarn gifts this holiday?-sort of? I got Norah Gaughan's book about cables.
  • Did your pets get any gifts?-the dogs received very large rawhides that we had to take away after they chewed on them for half an hour (probably was a bit too much rawhide there!). So they'll get rawhides for New Year's too. The cats--no, but they don't expect a lot.
  • What is a great tip  or idea you got this year?-that's a good question.
  • How did you surprise yourself in 2016?I agreed on Friday to try scuba diving! I told Tim's scuba teacher I would do a pool session if she went kayaking with us. I'm claustrophobic so I don't think scuba will 'take' but I'll give it a try.
  • Name a favorite book you read in 2016. "Barkskins" and "The Ecliptic"
  • What is The latest you stayed up in 2016?-well 2016 isn't over yet so we'll stay up to Midnight then.
  • Name a play, show  or concert you went to in 2016.We loved Book of Mormon and we also enjoyed all the symphony concerts we went to.
  • Name a new drink, dish or dessert you found in 2016.-Tim gave me a Sodastream for Christmas so making all kinds of good water (how boring is that?)!

Saturday, December 24, 2016


This is one of my favorite days--and one of my Twinnie's favorite days too (HI TWINNIE) when the world just goes quiet at sundown and we allow ourselves to embrace the magic of Christmas.

We have been busy getting ready, and have made FOUR types of cookies plus toffee--that is what happens when you don't have cable or Internet. We will share with neighbors and have three gatherings to go to in the next few days (and there may be some additional ones that are re-scheduled from the ice storm). Today is for hanging out and cooking--I make a stuffed tenderloin for dinner and we'll also have creamed spinach and layered potatoes (both first time recipes, keep your fingers crossed). Tim made chocolate peau de creme (sp?) for dessert. We'll watch a Christmas movie and open one gift. Tomorrow we'll have presents, phone calls, and then we're going to Corvallis for dinner with friends. Monday we have a traditional boxing day brunch with friends and then that evening is an open house at the farm. So we have lots of places to share out cookies.

This sweater is going well:

I've started the bind off for the raglan sleeves and so that's good.

I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Solstice--the coming of the light (and cable)

Just a mere week after the ice storm, our cable and Internet are back as of the middle of the night last night. Until this week, we've never really had a whole lot of issues with Comcast, but this week has made up for our previous 15 years of Comcast friendliness. Basically, it was the misinformation--estimated repair times changing every eight hours, no real explanations as to what the delay was, customer service reps whose only power is to set up a text alert so you'll know when the service is back (and I'm still waiting for the text--eight hours after it has been back on).  Sadly we have no alternatives except cord cutting, and then we'd still rely on Comcast for Internet (although there are other services, but cord cutting kind of scares me). So yeah. All is calm, all is bright.

A few knitting pictures: first the sweater:

 Then the Trinket mitts which I finished a while ago but haven't woven ends in on yet:

And Tim's socks.

Sorry for the head tilting.

I'm going to dash out to the alpaca farm this morning and take over our downed fir branches--we have several big branches from the Diadores and a neighbor's juniper bush. The pacas apparently like evergreens! So they'll get a nice Christmas treat. And my car will smell good too.

I made two batches of cookies yesterday and probably will make toffee tonight.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Ice gone, Internet still MIA

I'm writing this blog post today using the personal hotspot on my cell phone. I'm sure we'll be knocking at the data ceiling this month but we'll have a nice credit on our Comcast bill.

So some lessons on not having cable or (instant) Internet:

  1. Things that I used to think were important and must be done now--aren't. It has been too easy to just stop everything and jump on the internet to solve a problem. Now I just wait. Or realize i it isn't really a problem.
  2. Things that I probably would have put off (or ignored or just not done) in order to pfaff around on the Internet  got done early. Good for me.
  3. Thigns that before might have upset me (e.g. a bad review for a paper)--now I have time to think about them and I can deal with them fine,
  4. Books. Books are awesome. 
What hasn't been happening--for whatever reason--is a lot of knitting. But this got done last week:

Look around the door frame.

 It is the  mitten garland!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Thawing out and Monday Quora!

Hello from the melting state of Oregon! The temps haven't gotten above 32 til today, so the ice stuck around. Luckily, the streets have been dry, Tim got back from SF only an hour late, and life continues. We still don't have Internet or Cable, but I allow myself a few moments using our cell phone hotspot to do some work and to check up on the knitting world! There's knitting going on too so I'll share that in the next post, including THE MITTEN GARLAND!

Kathy asks:
  • Have you ever been stuck in an airport?  For how long? Where?: Never overnight or anything like that. I've been pretty lucky, although I've landed in some whopper snow storms in both Boston and Chicago.
  • Have you eaten any holiday goodies yet? Tim and I were out yesterday and had our traditional 'holiday coffee'--Eggnog latte for him and peppermint mocha for me. Unfortunately because of the weather several parties were cancelled last week.
  • If you made pairs of socks with all the stash you have for socks, how many new pair would you create? Oh man, maybe 50?
  • What is the best yarn store you have ever been to? Hmmm. That's a good question. I haven't been to a BAD yarn store, and not sure what would be the best--but I'll just say the Farm Storm at Aragon Alpacas!
  • Have you seen anyone wear a Santa hat this Holiday season ? Yes, so many I don't notice them any  more!
  • Have you played a fun game and you want to share it? WE mostly play banangrams.
  • Peppermint or gingerbread? Coffee: peppermint. Tea: peppermint. Cookie: ginger.
  • Have you cancelled a subscription lately?  How did the company respond? No but we're close to wanting to cut off Comcast.
  • What should I bring to a 90 year olds birthday celebration? A photograph?
    (they said no gifts, but I just have to)
  • Tell us a favorite Holiday gift you recall from your childhood please. One year I got a guitar and a carom board (I think that is how you spell it). That was awesome.

Friday, December 16, 2016


Our ice storm was horrible. Tree limbs are still coming down. We were without electricity most of Wed night but it is back now. However, we have no internet or cable at home, and so I'll be a bit silent until that is back. But I'm safe and sound!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


We're having weather today--ok I know we have weather every day but usually our weather is fog (November and March), rain (December-June) and sunny (July-September). Today we're having a mix of snow-sleet-rain and ice! I have no place to be, a refrigerator filled with food, plenty of stuff for the pets, a lot of knitting and books, and electricity, so I'm fine. Even if I lose the electricity (which probably won't happen) I have the fireplace and books and candles. So yay weather!

The only thing which would make it perfect would be if Tim was here, but he's in SF and enjoying lovely 50 and 60 degree weather, and I'm glad he's not coming back til Friday when this should all be over with.

My goal today is to finish off my 12 Days of Christmas swag and read and knit (and maybe work, but really don't feel like it). Last night I cast on for a new scarf using a new stitch--Brioche.

The yarn is a thick-think yarn that doesn't make the brioche stitches pop that much, but it looks fun. The yarn is Rowan Biggy Print and is very fun and colorful. I'm using the Sookie Scarf pattern for the scarf (which was written for size 15 needles--I'm using size 36).

I also want to make the Manning Park Hat because it is so cute and snowy looking.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

New Project

I needed a project that was a bit of a thinking project but not another cabled sweater. I had ten balls of Zara in the stash for a long time, in kind of an awkward color--Duck Egg. I saw the Limerick Henley in the new IK and even though it is a guy's sweater, I thought the patterning and the color of the yarn would make it a nice sweater for me. And.

It appears to be working. The color is a bit greener than this but it looks good. This yarn is a dream--truly one of the nicest yarns I've knit with.

Tim is out of town, and I'm on break, but I feel like I've been go go go! I had a few holiday errands to run yesterday, plus had a bit of intestinal discomfort (bad food). Today I need to pop in to the office for a meeting.

Before Tim left, we watched the last Hollow Crown--Richard III. Benedict Cumberbatch was the title character and he, my friends, has some Shakespeare chops. Of the three (Henry VI pt 1, Henry VI pt 2 and Richard III), this one was the least violent but the most evil. These are airing on PBS stations as 'Great Performances' and you should watch them (at least Richard III.  You don't need to see the Henrys to watch it, but here is a way to catch you up: War of the Roses. House of Lancaster versus House of York. Who has claim to the throne? Everybody, apparently. So let's smote a bunch of people and see who wins.

Richard the III has some great lines. "Now is the winter of our discontent." "My kingdom for a horse" (which is an incredibly heartbreaking line in this play), "off with his head" (Did Shakespeare coin that?). And little Princes in the tower---heartbreaking. This is really just one heartbreaking play.

If you watched "The White Queen" on Starz, you'll know the story and will be able to follow just fine.If you haven't, here's the key: Richard III is One Bad Dude.

Other than that, I've been rereading the "All Souls" trilogy which is wonderful cozy winter reading.

I need to do some work, but I also obviously need some down time.

Monday, December 12, 2016


I spent most of yesterday knitting icord so I can finish off my 12 days of Christmas mitten decoration this week.

Now, that's a sentence that I won't write often!

In the wintry wilds of Wisconsin, Kathy has some questions for us.
  1. Have you ever knit a Christmas Ornament? Have I? I've done plastic canvas. I'm looking on the tree now and I don't see any. Hmm.
  2. Have you ever knit with sparkle yarn? Oh I'm sure I have. I love the sparkle.
  3. Did you buy yarn while traveling this year? Hmm? I don't think so. But then I didn't go a lot of places--I'm pretty sure I didn't buy any in Hawaii.
  4. When’s the last time you wore something you knit? On Thursday. I wore 'your' sweater for the first time! Oh and I wore a hat to walk to the dogs this morning.
  5. Do you remember your dreams? I remember dreams--don't know if I remember all of them!
  6. What’s the one thing you don’t want to run out of? It used to be Diet coke but I have cut back on that. Another hmmm. Probably coffee?
  7. Deep dish or thin pizza? Deep dish in Chicago, thin crust everywhere else
  8. Name a favorite holiday music cd, or album for us oldies "A Winter Solstice"--a Windham (sp?) hill compilation
  9. How do you remind yourself a candle has been lit? I don't think we use candles enough to worry about it.
  10. What’s the ringtone on your phone? Brrrrrriiinnnggggg!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Silver Bells

We started a tradition the first year we were married to get a commemorative silver sleigh bell every Christmas. My mom gave them to us for a bunch of years and then she stopped getting the catalogue so we've been getting them ourselves for the past five years or so. The grand total this year is 23 (just counted on my fingers). This is the first year I've remembered to order this year's bell before Christmas though.

For a while they hung from our light fixture in the dining room, then we got too many and now they hang in our cozy room. Every year when we put them away I think "I ought to polish some of them"---the ones from the 1990s are pretty tarnished. Well, today I got them all out, polished them all up, and now they're waiting to be hung.

It was a bit of work but they are all so nice and bright and shiny!

Thursday, December 08, 2016

A Wee bit brain dead

Today: woke up to a bit of an ice storm but drove in anyway (it was fine), graded, had three hours of skype interviews for a new professor position, followed immediately by a two hour meeting where lunch was supposed to be served but the date got mixed up and no lunch, followed by more grading, but



Not quite a Christmas miracle.

These socks are slowly coming along:

The tree is trimmed:

Our favorite ornament is in its place:

It is a silver reindeer.

And all I have left is one presentation to sit through tomorrow and MAYBE a student meeting but maybe not, and I'm done.

Monday, December 05, 2016

First December Quora!

I guess it is time to change the background of my blog to something more Christmasy! Kathy has some Christmas questions (and some non-ones too)!

*Can you knit something by *heart*: Yes, I can knit a sock by heart, and if a cable pattern is fairly basic I can do that too---I did two sleeves for a sweater by heart with a cable pattern.
*Would you like some yarn for Chirstmas? I never say no to yarn.
*Did you shovel any snow this December? Well, it is early, but no I haven't. We don't get a lot of snow here in Oregon.
*Can you make a bow for a package or gift? Define 'bow'. I can make a bow that looks like a shoelace bow. Does that work?
*Do you buy used books or new? Both! Plus the library.
*Have you seen a living Nativity? Yes but not for years and years.
*Have you ever received home baked cookies in the mail? I don't think so--maybe in college? Are you offering, Kathy? (kidding).
*When was the last time your toes froze and your nose was red? Hmm. Not sure. Maybe it was when I was in Chicago for a conference a few years ago. It was March, it snowed, and it was freezing.
*Did you know that Christmas and Hanukkah are intertwined this year? I didn't but I do now!
*Do you love to get a Christmas card?  Who doesn't?

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Pairfect pair

I love knitting socks for Tim, and I love knitting with all wool, but all wool socks often aren't the best thing for Tim---sometimes they don't stay up well, or they wear out quickly, or some other reason. So I looked around and I'm trying socks made out of a yarn called Pairfect by Regia.

The basic idea is that you have one ball that has 'leader' yarn in the middle (and at the start and end) so you know *exactly* where to start in order to have a perfectly matched pair of socks (pairfect--yes?). I got the yarn at Webs (here's the link) and this I think, is the 'orient' colorway. I also have two other balls because I think these will be good for Tim (they're 25% polyamide, or basically nylon).

For Tim's birthday in November, I gave him a laser light thing for the front yard. It is very cool and we bought a few more. We put them up yesterday, and realized we could shine them up in the trees and they look reall cool. I'll take some pictures and put them up for you to see.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Sweater revisited

Earlier this week, in my braindead grading head (BGH), I spent time weaving in ends. Usually that activity bores the living daylights out of me, but when I'm in BGH, it was oddly soothing.

Plus buttons.

In other news, outside of grading, researching and writing (I find I need to write when I spend all that time reading), I've been reading "Swing Time" by Zadie Smith. There are some Zadie Smith books I like and some I don't--this (so far) is in the 'like' range. I haven't had a lot of knitting mojo but hopefully it will be back. Part of the problem is that nothing in my queue is particularly exciting (although I did spy something in IK that I might want to knit (spoiler alert: sweater).