Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

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Monday, December 31, 2012

So long, 2012.

2012 was a better year in a lot of ways than 2011. For me anyway. Some of the high and low points...

I got to go to two major fiber festivals, and not just day trips, weekends away with my daughter. We had fun, got closer, and met some terrific people. She's a top notch traveling companion.

Bob lost his job then got a better one. We are still waiting to see how the whole Postal Carrier thing will work out as he is still awaiting his 90 day review, but I feel optimistic. The downside is, it's an incredibly demanding job physically and he is gone six days a week at it. That led to a lot of stress and frustration for me when I didn't have transportation and there were big question marks about getting home some nights. It's also taking a physical toll on him. He's no spring chicken and this much walking is very taxing.

My health has been awful. The neuropathy is getting worse all the time and I have more frequent episodes of tinnitus, as well as increased hearing loss. I feel like things started to improve somewhat towards the end of the year, though, so maybe that trend will continue.

Spent some quality time with my elder daughter. She's very busy with school and work so getting time with her is rare and special. The same is becoming true of my younger daughter. She has moved out and is very busy with school and student teaching so I'm not seeing as much of her.

I did a lot of good spinning and some good knitting, too. I also got a loom and learned to weave.

Not sure if this was a positive or not but I got into some different alcoholic libations. Visited the best beer store I've ever been to (in Poughkeepsie). Also started trying to learn more about wine, French wine in particular. I shouldn't drink but there are a lot of things I shouldn't do that I actually don't do, so it probably evens out. Plus, I don't drink to excess. A couple of nights a week Bob and I will have a beer or a bottle of wine with dinner. Thats's about it.

Here's a few photos from the year in review.

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My first knit of 2012. Also my closest brush with internet fame as this has been shared all over and pinned quite a bit on pinterest.

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In February, my mother, my daughter, Bob, and I all went to see drag queens. Three generations. I wish I'd gotten someone to take our picture. We had a blast though. The tall blonde queen in purple is Alaska, the significant other of Ru Paul's Drag Race season 4 winner, and a contestant on season 5 herself. Can't wait to see how she does!

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In March, I spun this gorgeous gradient yarn for a specific project.

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In April, we went to see Lena in a murder mystery dinner theater thing. It was a hoot.

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In May, we went to Maryland Sheep and Wool, where we had a great time and Anna and I both got sunburned. And we saw these four hour old lambs.

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in June, I finished the project I spun that yarn for.

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July was the Tour de Fleece.

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In August, we added a new family member. He has had us enthralled ever since.

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In September, I chaired my last Western PA Mensa Regional gathering, a mostly thankless task that sucked the joy out of my summer several years running. I'm happy to see the back of it.

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October was Rhinebeck, mostly good except the part where someone I thought was my friend was cold and distant and cut me twice. I'm over it, though, and I had a good time for the majority of the weekend. I hope to take Bob someday.

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November was our epic dinner at Paris 66. I reviewed it here. November is also the month I challenged myself to post a blog entry every day that month, and I succeeded, much to my surprise.

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December is when this happened, and also when I bought myself a car. But it's not over yet, so who knows.

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Hope you all have a terrific new year's eve, enjoy the day tomorrow, and have a wonderful year in 2013. I'm not normally one for resolutions but I'm going to try as hard as I can to keep this house in better order.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Stracciatella alla Fritz


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Lunchtime leftovers on Christmas eve at work.

I love making soup in the wintertime, but I don’t always have time to make it all from scratch. This recipe yields a delicious hearty egg drop soup in about a half an hour.

Ingredients
Low sodium or salt free vegetable soup broth, 8 cups. (you can also use chicken or beef. I use veg because I always have some on hand.)
1 small square package frozen spinach
Two eggs
2-4 oz grated cheese. I use a blend of pecorino romano and parmesan.
¼ cup orzo, acine di pepe, pastine, or other small pasta if desired.
Fresh ground black pepper
Tablespoon dehydrated onions
Pinch of oregano

Bring the soup base and spinach to a low boil. If you’re using pasta, add it here and stir well. Beat eggs and add grated cheese. Slowly drip the combined eggs and cheese into the soup, stirring all the while. When all has been added, cover and simmer until broth begins to clear. (it will probably still remain somewhat cloudy-don’t worry about it, it’s still good.) Add onions, pepper, and oregano to taste. You can add salt if you need to but you probably won’t, as the cheese will add salt flavor to the soup. Cover and keep on a low heat until ready to eat.

That’s it! It’s delicious and so easy.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Eve of Destruction

Finally Christmas eve is here. I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not going to finish Bob's socks. He will get them for his birthday. Everything else is wrapped and divided and ready to distribute. I've even started feeling despondent to get that out of the way.

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I did some more weaving projects.

This scarf was made from a warp of handspun sparkly green stuff and a weft of some neat Noro ribbon yarn.

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Two more sets of tea towels.
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And a scarf for a former supervisor. (knitted, not woven)


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So that pretty much wraps up my holiday gifting. I also took better pictures of the rainbowy scarf.

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All in all I think things are ok.

Oh, I also got myself a present. Just a little one.
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2006 Cadillac DTS. It's a grampa car. I needed a car I could drive, and this is a good, reliable, safe car. I hate having car payments again but what are you going to do.

Hope everyone who reads this has a great day tomorrow, whether you celebrate it or not. I plan to relax and enjoy as much as possible.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Shortest day, longest night

I am not a religious person. I'm not particularly spiritual either, not any more. Pain and practicality and life experience have made me extremely skeptical and pragmatic. But I still like winter solstice.

Science makes this the shortest day of the year. The days start to get longer, but not warmer yet, we continue angling away from the sun though our distance changes to allow more light. Or some combination of the above. I'm no scientist. But it's the beginning of the official winter season, and importantly for me, the end of deepening dark.


alien life?

We also got snow today. Not much. (certainly not as much as in the above picture.)

It's a stark, gloomy time of year. It makes me gloomy. Almost as gloomy as national events the past week or so have made me.

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I make no effort to disguise how I feel about the unfettered acquisition of firearms. I don't like guns. I don't like gun nuts. People who go on and on about their second amendment rights make me profoundly uneasy and I prefer not to be around those with that mindset. It was disheartening how many people I saw on facebook and in the real world both worried about how the tragic deaths of 28 people in Newtown would jeopardize their unfettered access to firearms. I do not need such people in my life.

Today their spokesperson, the lovely Mr LaPierre, proposed a registry of mentally ill people and armed guards in schools. I don't want to share a planet with people who think this way. I really don't. Mental illness is already so stigmatized and access to care is so hard for those even able and willing to seek it. Mentally ill people are far, far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.

But no, we mustn't limit unfettered access to whatever firearms these people require for their elaborate "freedom" fantasies. The dead children? just collateral damage.

Sorry I'm so rambly. I guess I'm waiting for the light.


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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Santa week

This is santa week at our house, the week when all the stuff I ordered for gifts begins to arrive on our doorstep. As usual, I fear I haven't bought enough, or that I've forgotten someone. And always, I have to struggle to find room in everyone's stockings, and usually leave an auxiliary stocking pile beside it.

Week after next weekend is baking at my mom's. My cousin Jessica and I have been doing the big baking, the italian nut rolls and cookies and honey balls. My mom makes a few dozen other cookies. It's a lot of work but totally worth it.

Even though I'm an atheist, I love this time of year and get excited about giving out presents. This year will be nicer than last year because I've been able to get gifts for both of my kids. Last year I was trying to figure out if I was ever going to see my older daughter again.

We had lunch today, it was nice. She needs a camera to take pictures of her paintings so I gave her my DSLR. I haven't been using it as much as I want due to lack of opportunity. For the meantime I'll use my phone. I had this fantasy of someday making a living or a name for myself through photography. I love taking pictures and trying to show other people how I see the world. But while I do have talent, I don't have knowledge or craftsmanship to become a "real" photographer. I'm trying to let go of things that aren't serving me mentally and that's one of them. I get stuck between making myself miserable lamenting the things I wanted to do with my life and trying to move forward and enjoy what is real and doable here and now. I will admit though that handing over that camera hurt. I'll get it back someday though and I am happy it will be getting use helping someone I love do what they want and need to do.

A lifelong problem for me is a lack of sticktuitiveness. I have talents. Photography, music, writing. What I don't have, in any of those things, is education, but more importantly I also don't have dedication, the ability to apply myself, the drive to practice and practice and practice and just get up every damn day and do it. Maybe I've had ADD or something all my life, I don't know. Maybe I'm just lazy and unmotivated. At my age, it doesn't much matter. I need to find peace with who I am and where my life is now, not lament what it could have been.

I had a nice glass of beaujolais with dinner, a ham sandwich, chips, and some leftover cole slaw. Bob is at a Beatles thing at a local radio station. I really liked the wine. It was mercifully uncomplicated. I will be drinking more of this in the future.

Higgs has his operation tomorrow, so keep a happy thought for my good boy that he comes through it safe and sound.
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Oh, I finished the rainbow scarf.
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Monday, December 03, 2012

Learning, Leaning, yearning.



It's always a challenge for someone my age to learn a new craft. I've been weaving some and it's a humbling experience. So many small factors can lead to disaster.

Case in point. I've made quite a few dishcloths and noticed this tendency towards leaning at the end of the weave, but it was slight enough that when the finished piece was removed from the loom, tied off, and washed, no problems. When you get into something longer, though, like a scarf, it becomes a problem.

I did a black warp with a black and sparkly gold weft that ended up a disaster because of this. I thought I had the warp on a bit unevenly and started this rainbow gradient scarf being careful to have everything evenly tensioned and in the middle of the loom, not more threads on one side than the other. It started off fine, but when I got closer to the end, I had this.

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That's a mess. I asked around on Facebook and Ravelry, got some good advice, and spent part of the weekend unweaving a big portion of the piece so I could start over, concentrating on correcting my technique. The basic problem was I was pulling the weft yarn too flat across the bottom, and also leaning the heddle a little every time I brought it down to beat. After a long piece, it built up to a pronounced lean. It's way better now.

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I hope when I take it off the loom, there's not a huge obvious place where I restarted it. I hope washing it will even things out. I love this yarn and the idea of the piece and I'd hate to waste it. But if it ends up wasted, it will have been a valuable learning experience. Lesson learned. You don't actually know how to weave yet, slow down and take your time, pay attention to what you're doing, and get it right.

I took the cutest cat picture this weekend. What do you think?
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I swear that cat is so damn photogenic.