Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mid week updates

I've pretty much recovered from shearing, although my arms are still a bit achy. I'm glad you all liked the photos--it really is a special day on the farm. Ann calls it our 'harvest'.

First up, my tiny needle progress:

As a reminder, I'm doing this on blue cloth, and the white that you see is the transfer paper (the kind I use is here). This paper will dissolve in water once I'm done (and put it in water, obviously).

I've been reading.
Even though I feel like I have no time, I did finish "My Dark Vanessa" and then zipped through "I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican  Daughter." Kym, Bonny and Carole are reading this and hosting a discussion on it in May. I hope to be able to join in on that! I really liked the character of Julia, who is about as different from Vanessa as a person could be.

I have a craft closet!
We have a dedicated 'utility' room which is officially my craft room, and I've kind of exploded into it with all my hobbies. You can see in this picture that I have a lot of drawers and shelves, but not all this is for my hobbies. Some of it is for cleaning supplies, appliance manuals, jigsaw puzzles, and that drawer we all have in our homes somewhere.

At the end of the hallway, to the right, is a closet. We put up a shelf in the closet in the craft room and now I feel much more organized. I have room in the utility room for work stuff (a shelf for notes etcetera) and things aren't exploding.

Don't I look organized?

Monday, April 27, 2020

Essential Work

We bopped over to Eugene this weekend to work, leaving Saturday morning and coming back Sunday night. We took all the animals, and they are such troopers, being so patient with the drive and for being in a different place. This was the first time the animals and I had been back to Eugene in over five weeks. We missed the tulips, but I was excited to find the wisteria in bloom.

And in addition to the wisteria, there were weeds weeds weeds everywhere. Tim has weeded when he was at the house 2.5 weeks ago but I guess there was rain, sun and warm weather, and the weeds were ridiculous. So we spent Saturday afternoon gardening--Tim worked on the weeks in the back yard, I did the patio and the front garden boxes (closest to the street). We had a pile in the back of the RAV 4 to go to the dump, and Tim took a second pile in on Sunday. We didn't even get to the part of the garden closest to the house, but luckily we have a yard guy coming by to work on that on Saturday. 

Sunday was shearing day! I went to help shear the alpacas and Tim did more lawn work, including trimming branches and getting rid of wood.

Usually for shearing day Ann (who runs the farm) has about 30 people helping--her two (grown) kids come (her son from SF and her daughter from Seattle) and they bring friends and family members and it is a big work day and party. Well, none of the family could travel, and in addition Ann and Mike's house is getting 'jacked up' on Tuesday and so there's really no place to stay (Ann and Mike are doing a big renovation on their 100+ year old farm house). So the shearing crew was really small this year: me, Ann and Mike, Terry and Paul (who own an alpaca at the farm), Elissa (who owns a sheep farm nearby), Ann's son Paul (who drove up from SF alone) and then the two guys who do the actual shearing.

One guy--Steve--does all the shearing and the grinding down of teeth. His assistant (I never got his name) and Paul (Ann's son, we'll call him Paul 1) lifted up the alpacas and put them on their sides, then (and there is no way to put this delicately) trussed them up so they were stretched out. Then Steve did shears them, his assistant held their heads (to make sure they didn't flail around) and Paul gave then shots and cut their nails. The whole process takes less than ten minutes per animals. 

What did the rest of us do? Well, I had the job of grabbing each alpaca, putting a halter on them, and then leading them to the scale (the shots they get are based on weight). Then I handed them over to Terry who took them to the 'waiting area' before they got sheared (there are two shearing stations). As soon as one alpaca is sheared, they get up and then I shooed them outside (which involves opening and closing barn doors). 

Elissa made sure all the fleeces were in separate bags and labeled, and also kept track of what 'maintenance' each alpaca had (the dosage of shots, and whether teeth were done or not).  Paul 2 did all the vacuuming, and Mike held down wiggling alpacas. Ann was running around answering a million questions. We all got our jobs down pretty quickly, and we got all the herd (24? I think?) done in less than six hours.

Wanna see?

Here's my guy Calypso, after shearing:

 Another Calypso:

 This is little Chaco, who had his first shearing:
 Ann gives some love to someone. I'm not sure who!
 A bunch of boys before shearing. We had to herd them into this pen, then I had to herd them to a second pen, where I haltered them. The biggest ones weight over 200 pounds so that's a lot of alpaca to hold on to! They don't like being haltered, so I basically had to catch the, hold onto their neck while holding them still with my torso, and then wrangle a halter on.

There may have been spitting. And Calypso gave me a little kick--he is now reaching sexual maturity so he is feeling his oats!

 This is a big group of boys after shearing. They clearly wanted nothing more to do with me.

I spent some quality time with Atom, who was not happy about getting sheared and hid in the weighing shoot.

Here is the backside of Calypso (you can see his 'spots') and Atom behind him.

 Me and Black Lace. We all wore masks and did our best at keeping 6 feet apart.

 Another of Calypso.

 A bunch of skinny girls. We can definitely tell that Tink is pregnant. Her due date is 6/5. She is on the far right.

I should have a few more somewhere on my camera!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Finally Friday

Another week of Zoom meetings, student problems, financial traumas, and rainy weather--I miss Summer of 2019. We're headed back for two days to Eugene tomorrow--alpaca shearing on Sunday, and general house maintenance the rest of the time. Tim is going to (and all the animals, as a result) for this quick trip.

I have fourteen rows left on this:

I have a lot of the light color but not a lot of the dark, and I'm supposed to finish it off with the dark. There may be some vamping happening.

See you Monday! With alpaca pictures!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

And I just keep going.

The days go fast but the weeks seem to drag. Or is it the other way around? No, it seems like the days go fast but we're not getting anywhere.

Ah well.

Some stuff is happening.


I've counted three different groups of deer that roam around--one group of six, one of three, and one of two. They wander and nibble, wander and nibble. This one is right by our driveway. They are good around Tim and I, but don't like the dogs much.

Little Needle
This is a Cozy blue pattern that I'm doing on blue cloth. What you see is the pattern on that sticky  dissolvable paper. Once I finish the pattern, then I soak off the paper and then the design will be on dark blue fabric.

I keep doing it.

I'm working on a few books. "My Dark Vanessa" is--kind of a retelling of Lolita? It is well written and pretty absorbing. I'm also reading about the making of Chinatown (the film) called "The Big Goodbye" by Sam Wasson. I also plan to start "I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter" soon.

I finished "Club King" by Peter Gatien, a memoir of the man who started a bunch of nightclubs in the 80s like The Limelight. It was actually kind of interesting. I went to a party at the Limelight in Chicago once (maybe twice?) but I was never really a 'club' person. It is kind of interesting (as I already said) and he got hounded (and deported) by Rudy Giuliani, I had no idea about that.

What's up with you?

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Weekend

Our weekend included:
-good beach walk before rain
 -not being able to tell where the ocean stops and the sky begins
 -a good deal of work on the local yarn shop shawl
-binging on "Ozark"
-banana chocolate chip pancakes (thanks to Tim).

Interspersed with all the tough stuff. So OK.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

So. Much. Damn. Excitement!

Life here on the coast is so incredibly exciting!!!

We work kind of all the time. My students are struggling. My colleagues are struggling. I'm struggling. Tim works really hard and then takes out the frustrations of our current situation by chopping wood.

However, there is a bit of fun when-

We go to the recycling place! I shared our excitement of getting garbage delivery out here--but we have to take our recycling to the 'transfer station' which is a fancy word for the dump. We had a LOT to take over there yesterday and it was a beautiful afternoon--so WHY NOT SPEND IT AT THE DUMP?

We have a social distancing Happy Hour! We invited three different neighbor groups over for a social distancing happy hour--we started on the driveway til it got a bit too windy, and then we moved into the garage (we moved the cars out). It was great to catch up with everyone and get to know then all a bit more.  Everyone brought their own chairs and beverages, and we all sat six feet apart, and it was fun.

I worked on the storm shawl! It is coming together.

We have some beautiful sunsets!

Two nights ago.

Last night, as clouds rolled in.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Finally Thursday

With this online teaching thing, it seems that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are balls to the wall busy.  It also seems (I hope) that Thursday and Friday can be somewhat less busy. I can do three crazy days with the promise of two less crazy days.

And some of this is in my own control. I have to schedule a lot of Zoom meetings with students I advise, and I can group them all in the beginning of the week. It's a new world, this online stuff, and there are increasing indications that we'll be like this through the rest of the year. We are definitely moving summer online, and given that decisions about fall might have to be made sooner rather than later, I'm guessing the safe thing will be to put fall online. We'll see. It will really hurt the school financially if we do that--we may get more in state students, but we will probably lose the (lucrative) out of state students. 

In knitting news, the Local Yarn Shop shawl is moving along:

 Yes, you get a special look at the dog food and water bowls.

This photo is upside down. Sorry.

Yesterday started with a bang--we got a phone call a little after six am from the dispatch of the alarm company we subscribed to. An interior motion sensor went off, but no door entry sensors. They sent over a security guard type person, who called from the house and reported that all was well. It was a bit of a nervous thirty minutes--and now we have to figure out why the interior sensor went off. I think it was due to a spider.

Never a dull moment.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Catching up!

It's so busy, this online teaching thing.

We had a lovely Easter, and it seems like our rocks/eggs were a hit!

I cast on for the Storm Shawl

We had an amazing sunset.

I finished "A Good Neighborhood" which was good but very sad.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

A different Easter

We usually don't do a lot for Easter, but we try to make it a little special with cards and candy and a special dinner.  Easter is a little different this year, but we still have some special things planned.

This is the bag of painted rocks (to look like Easter Egg) that we stealthily delivered last night to eight of our neighbors (and to two restaurants in town). We just wanted to give people a little surprise on Easter morning, and had fun painting them as well.

I made this table decoration using the Silhouette.

I did get some Easter candy at the little grocery store and decorated a glass jar with a purple holographic bunny. As one does.

I finished my little Rainbow town this morning. The pattern is "It Takes a Village" from Cozy Blue Handmade.

Not Easter related, but I did these Koi cards for some people who have birthdays coming up.

Enjoy the peace of this day!

Friday, April 10, 2020

What I'm doing!

I'm blocking without blocking wires.

I'm wondering how this will be enforced.
 I'm seeing alpaca faces in the fence posts.
Do you see it?

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Three on Thurday

I don't usually do Three on Thursday but I have three pretty pictures today so I'll do it! Three colorful images from my house!

One: more little stitches! I did most of the medium green. This still needs some light green and some little flowers but it is on its way to being done.

Two: Easter Egg Surprises! I think I mentioned we are painting rocks to deliver on Easter to our neighbors (and to our two favorite take out restaurants).  We started the decoration but need to ramp that up, obviously.
 Three: last night's sunset.

Tim is over in Eugene: watering plants, seeing what yard work needs to be done, picking up a prescription, bringing back a grill.  I woke up at 4am and finished "Lady in Waiting" and it wasn't that good, unfortunately. I really need a new 'absorb me' book.

Online teaching is going ok. I have had a few people blow off my undergrad class but whatever; I made my expectations clear and if they choose to blow it off, that's on them. They have their first exam on Monday so that should indicate something (not sure what, but something).

My graduate class is once a week, and it is fun. They all know and like each other, so it seems like they have fun and the time goes really fast.

I hope you are doing well and staying safe. My only outing today is to walk the dogs, and then to go to the Post Office. We don't have mail delivery here, but I can walk in to get my paper mail and they have lock boxes for many packages. Sometimes I need to interact with the postal clerk but not often. She is wearing  a mask and gloves, and has a plexiglass plate in front of her.

I have to say, in the past I've been jealous of people who can get Insta cart delivery or have stores where you can get curbside pickup, but I wouldn't give up living in our tiny town for anything right now.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Choose Something Like a Star

Robert Frost
"Choose Something
Like a Star"

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud,
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says "I burn."
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Settling in

Here are my updates from Pacific City!

  • We ordered garbage pick up service for the coast. This is a big thing--it means we are really here for a while. We have been taking trash either back to Eugene (when we're here for a weekend) or to the 'transfer station' (aka the dump), where the recycling still needs to go. But we'll cancel our garbage pick up in Eugene because we won't be out there much. For a while.
  • My colleague thinks that we'll be all online through the end of the year. I worry about what this will mean for our graduate program--it was just taking off, and now it will kind of screech to a halt (oh, we'll have some people withdraw. I kind of don't blame them.
  • I am now playing yarn chicken with the ABQ sunset scarf.  You can see the amount of yarn I have left there. It looks bigger in the picture than it really is--ok I just weighed it, and it is 21 grams, so maybe I have enough?

  • I'm halfway done with the lace edging--maybe I'l do half of the half remaining and call it done. 
  • I think that's it!
  • Oops no I forgot. I went to the grocery store this morning at 9am and was the only shopper there. Didn't get close to anyone til the check stand, and the checker had a plexiglass plate in front of her.  Did a good stock up and we should be good for a week.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Snow report: no snow!

It ended up not snowing, just kind of cold, and yesterday didn't get rainy until later in the afternoon.

Life update
We took the dogs for a long walk and then got carry out lunch from one of the two little places in town that we're supporting.

As we're basically homebodies, life doesn't seem *that* different these days, other than the difference of living in a tiny town. We order a lot of stuff online. We have a tiny grocery store in town, and as it is off season there are rarely more than three or four people there when I go (and given that it is a grocery store in a tourist town, it has a lot of snacks and very little meat and fresh produce, but enough for now). AND I snagged a box of TP from Amazon one lucky day and it arrived yesterday, so we're good for a few months in that area.

We're lucky we have Kindles and a smart TV, we have good internet, we are both healthy and the animals are all healthy, and we have plenty of wood for the fireplace.  Social distancing seems to be working in Oregon, and our curve seems to be flattening.  I did get a bunch of bandanas to do the folded mask thing (I found two rubber bands), in case things get worse in our county or for when I do my quick dash to the grocery store.

Tiny Needle
I've been working on my little village:

This is a very calming project, and I'm using random colors that all seem to play well together. This is one from Cozy Blue, and it's called "It Takes A Village"--I'm linking to the PDF page from her website in case you'd be interested in trying a little tiny needle project.

A few cards
I forgot to take pictures of the cards I sent out to my mom and Tim's mom yesterday, but here are a few more:

Painted Rocks
I've ordered acrylic paints to do painted rocks to hide around the neighborhood on Easter. We don't have a lot of little kids, but we have a few, and it will also be a nice little surprise for our neighbors.  I read about this on Kym's blog and told Tim about it, and we'll get some rocks when we go to the beach today (plus, we live on a rock road, so we have rocks right outside, the beach ones tend to be smoother and prettier).

I really need a 'take me away' book--I had a good run but now I'm just starting and stopping, starting and stopping. Maybe it hard to concentrate? Anyway, I'm reading:

  • "One Perfect Day", a non fiction journalistic investigation of the wedding industry. It is pretty much what you would expect, and it is challenging to read it thinking of all the brides and grooms that won't get the wedding they worked so hard for. 
  • "Adequate Yearly Progress", a novel about a struggling high school and a young faculty member's experiences trying to make it better. It is described as "The Office for High School" but it isn't, quite.
  • "In Five Years": I'm not sure how I would describe this novel, but I'm sticking with it for now. The story is, a woman spends one hour in her life five years in the future, and then goes back to her real life. As her life goes on, the implications of that hour become more apparent. It is pretty good, although the premise is just odd.
  • "Actress": started it, it didn't grab me, I'll try it again.
  • "Lady in Waiting" about a woman who was a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret. I love a good royal story, but this one is oddly dry. 
  • Tim is making pizza from scratch!
  • We will take a walk on the beach! We could walk from our house--it is probably 3/4 of a mile since it isn't a straight shot. But, we have friends who have a place that's only 1/4 of a mile and they said we could park there (the parking lots at all the beaches are closed). So we'll take the dogs down there and have a bit of a different viewpoint.
  • I may do a bit of glass etching.
  • Shearing is still on for three weeks from today, and I'll go to Eugene for that. Ann usually has a big crew come from San Francisco and Seattle, but the SF people are definitely not coming, and if the Seattle people come they will have to self isolate. So it will be a small crew, shearing in the out of doors, all of us wearing masks. I guess the shearer could still cancel.
  • Tink is due on 6/5, and I am sure I won't be there for the birth :-( but will definitely head over to Eugene once the cria is here.
That's it from here. I think of all of you often and hope you are safe and sound. 

Friday, April 03, 2020

A few things

I'm a little tense today--we are hearing some very bad news about the financial situation of the University, and while as a tenured faculty member I'm fine, this is not going to be a good situation for us moving forward. Yikes.

I have a bit more done on the Local Yarn Shop shawl--

This will look better blocked.

We had a beautiful sunset--

And now we may have snow.


Wednesday, April 01, 2020

A Poem for April

In April by 

This I saw on an April day:
Warm rain spilt from a sun-lined cloud,
A sky-flung wave of gold at evening,
And a cock pheasant treading a dusty path
Shy and proud.

And this I found in an April field:
A new white calf in the sun at noon,
A flash of blue in a cool moss bank,
And tips of tulips promising flowers
To a blue-winged loon.

And this I tried to understand
As I scrubbed the rust from my brightening plow:
The movement of seed in furrowed earth,
And a blackbird whistling sweet and clear
From a green-sprayed bough.