28 March 2008

Sweat, Stress, Hawks

I'm eagerly awaiting the end of tax season. For the past couple weeks, I've woken up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, thinking about the work I have yet to do. I'm exhausted and edgy and sometimes I have to remind myself to be nice to the clients. But I'm getting it done; one by one, the returns are going out the door; in the next couple weeks, the last one will leave my desk and I'll do a little happy dance. The Under-eye Circles of Death will fade away; the kettle won't be always on the boil; I'll have time to do normal things like garden and go shopping and just stare out of the kitchen windows and watch the hawks building their nest while I eat my cereal.

There is a pair of hawks nesting a little ways from the house; they have a nest built high in a little oak tree. In the morning they swoop around the stream and hop around the marsh and glide out over the fields. The other day I watched one of them scoop up a length of baling twine (leftover from seeding and strawing the lawn) and carry it up to their tree -- the twine caught the morning sunlight as it trailed behind, twisted in the wind as it hung fifty feet in the air, secured between landed talons and branch. Together, the hawks worked it into their nest. I hope we have... what's the word for baby hawks? Hawslings isnt' a word. Hawklings is too awkward to say. Chicks? I like Hawslings best. Like goslings, but with less webs, more talons; less paddle-around-the-lake and more hunty-bitey-rippy action.

Hawks make me think of falconing. Have you ever gone falconing? I think it would be a lot of fun. If I were to keep a bird, I would want a gyrfalcon. A white morph gyrfalcon. It would be an awesome pet. Since they're raptors, and semi-wild, it would be on the same scale of awesomeness as having a pet tiger. There's a morbid fascination in keeping a pet that could seriously injure you -- but you have to do it right. Anybody can abuse a dog until it becomes a mean, vicious attack dog. Very few people can actually keep a tiger, which could hurt you no matter how well you treat it. Somewhere in between there is the freakin' falcon -- dangerous, noble, and terribly, terribly cool.

I'm beginning to wonder whether I was a medieval knight in a past life: I have this lovely image of me riding out on my Friesian horse with a falcon on my arm. And I'm thinking about taking a fencing class this summer (after all, why not?). If I had a past life, it's more likely that I was one of the poor medieval peasants, covered in mud and shit, wishing I were a knight.

I've been a really good girl these past few millenia, so now I get to have the charger and maybe even the cool bird, and learn how to wield a sword, too. And, uh, spend my time markedly not covered in shit. Although I don't mind the mud, and I have been known on several occasions to... yeah, probably best to leave that one locked up in the annals of Things That Happened in College history.

Speaking of history, here's a visit from one of my old leather-bound books (remember? bibliophile!):

"The Temple of Karnac," from The Museum of Antiquity, 1882.

I am halfway through the short-row toe on Nutkin #1. After dinner I chugged steadily through the last inch of the foot before starting the toe, and I worked my way until the part where you start decreasing on your YOs... and I just couldn't knit any more tonight. I'm hoping by tomorrow to have one sock completed -- and to have bought batteries, so I can show you how awesome these socks (er... technically, this sock, but it will eventually be plural) are.

This episode of "Love, Life and Knitting" brought to you by: Holy Four-Letter Word, I Haven't Slept in a Long Time!

25 March 2008

Stamps, Harlots, Dragons and Pennsylvania

Things are crazy here. Crazier, I should say.

So, what's new?

Mailed off my Ankh-Morpork Knitters Guild "I'm sending my partner some cardboard for their shoes and I was guilted into putting stuff in the box" swap box to CC. I hope I put enough postage on it...

I work all the freakin' time. I put in 13 hours this past Sunday (Easter, for those who celebrate it). My aunt and uncle, who are awesome, brought some leftovers from the family dinner to the office for me. Deviled eggs, potato salad and four kinds of cake. It just wouldn't be a family dinner if there weren't more desserts than main course and sides.

I have my very own, brand-spankin' new Epi-Pen to carry around wherever I go! It's so thrilling to know that at any time, I could be accidentally exposed to something that causes a life-threatening allergic reaction and I get to jab this handy big honkin' needle into the side of my thigh. As annoying as it is to no longer be able to carry some of my favorite evening bags (I love carrying itty bitty evening bags that are just big enough to hold ID, credit card, some cash and a lip balm), I suppose that, on the whole, having to take a slightly bigger bag along is probably better than dying. Maybe. Last time I died wasn't all that bad; it was the violent, sudden, waking up part that sucked. But that's a bad memory, and we're going to discuss pleasant things now.

There are a lot of exciting things coming up in the local fiber area. First is the Homespun Yarn Party, which I'm sure you've ready about on Ravelry. I wish I could go, but I'll most likely be working.

Yarn Harlot, Live! in a couple weeks.

Kennett Square Extravaganza, to see Franklin.

And maybe, at the end of the month (true story: as I was typing that, I had to backspace, because I typed "at the end of the money"), a Pennsylvania spinning wheel trying/buying tour!

Knitting news:

I've turned the heel and am on the straightaway for the foot of Nutkin. I've started calling them my Dragon Socks, because that's what the colorway looks like, to me.

Jojoland "Melody" in colorway MS29.
Image property of JoJoLand.

Pictures when I remember to buy new Li batteries for my camera.

18 March 2008

Spinning Wheel

I need a wheel. It has moved beyond the point of want and become a need -- fiber artists understand this. I rented a wheel from my LYS, because I wasn't sure whether spinning was going to be a continuing obsession or just a try-it-once, ok-curiosity-satisfied adventure. I'm fairly well headed down the path of obsession. And yet, I'm still reluctant to take the plunge...

I have the money available... sort of. It's earning interest and compounding and growing and doing what it's supposed to be doing. I have this thing, though, about taking money out of my savings. I see savings as what my dad calls, "attitude money." It's what you have in reserve, so if your checking gets a little low, or things get a little strained, you know you have that little bundle in the wings, just in case. It's not meant to be spent; it's meant to be... well, saved. I've taken money out of it before -- to buy art, which I rationalize as an investment -- even though I'm not sure how much the pieces I've bought will appreciate, if at all.

Buying art, up to a certain point, is a bit of a gamble. There are some artists I know whose work will definitely appreciate; others, who knows. There's little way of knowing what will be in demand fifty years down the road -- only educated guesses. I stick to buying what I love; that way, even if it doesn't appreciate significantly, at least I will always enjoy having it around.

Spinning wheels are like little bitty cars in terms of depreciation. Cars are depreciating assets (I hope you've heard this before) -- they lose value as soon as you take it off the lot. There are exceptions, of course, including classic cars, and some Porsches, if you keep them in perfect condition. A used spinning wheel is not going to sell for the price you bought it new, even in perfect condition. Like cars, though, the depreciation is on a sliding scale -- a used Schacht in perfect condition will sell for proportionately more than a used Louet in perfect condition. There is probably more chance of selling a used Schacht than a used Louet, because more people can afford a new Louet. I'm also wondering if the resale market is so small because people don't want to get rid of their wheels, i.e. if you buy a Schacht, you keep it for 20 years. Thoughts on this, anyone?

When I opened the savings account, I had the intention of buying a bear rug. I told myself that when I had saved twice as much as I needed to buy the rug, I could buy one of my choice (probably grizzly. I really wanted a polar bear but there's no easy, legal way to obtain one in the United States).* I had a place for it right in front of my fireplace. Problem is, I sold that house three years ago. Now I have the money, but no perfect place for it, which is why I'm not so keen on it anymore. Priorities have shifted. And I'm afraid of that happening with my wheel -- so important to me this past year, but in a couple years -- who knows?

ATTENTION SPINNERS: Do you have a wheel you love? Did you have a wheel you eventually sold? Tell me about it! comment here or email me at cshopmail at yahoo dot com.

The other hesitation is that I'm a little overwhelmed by choice -- I've researched so many wheels online, from the small craftsmen to the production companies, and I still can't make a choice. So far, all I know is I will probably buy a castle wheel because of its size and portability. My wheel must be portable. I probably want a double treadle, or one with a big single treadle, because I've found plying is much easier using both feet.
  • The Schacht Ladybug caught my eye because it has a red wheel. It's cute; it's portable; it's relatively inexpensive (for a Schacht). Anyone tried one? Does the red wheel become annoying with time?
  • The Schacht Matchless is one of my top choices, but on the higher end.
  • The Ashford Elizabeth is my favorite-looking wheel, but not portable = not an option right now.
I'm also going to need some high-speed bobbins/whorls. I like to spin fingering/cobweb weight yarn. I'll need a Lazy Kate (or two). I found that three bobbins are not nearly enough for me. I like to spin up lots of singles and then ply them at will... I'm going to want at least five bobbins to start.

*sigh* I'm going to buy a new orifice hook at Sheep & Wool (the dogs ate the one I bought last year).

A few of my spinning friends have tossed around the idea of a trip to The Mannings for a wheel expedition. I like that idea better than making a decision at MD Sheep & Wool -- I don't like making that kind of decision on the fly, in a crowded, pressured situation. No matter how laid-back the staff is, festivals and fairs are pressure situations -- there's a time limit built into them.

Not all things with built-in time limits are bad, though. Most weekends I go downtown to a little flower shop and buy myself a bouquet -- does wonders to get one through the winter. Last Saturday I bought a bunch of fritillaria meleagris. The checkered flowers turn white with age. I want to buy a bunch of these and naturalize them down by the stream.

*side note: if you're against fur, it won't do any good to tell me I'm a horrible person. I've accepted this as a part of my animal-loving, meat-eating, fur-wearing personality. I'm okay with you thinking I'm a horrible person; your condemnations cause me no shame or guilt, because that opinion doesn't matter to me. Please keep those comments to yourself, or share them amongst your friends, but don't waste your breath on me. It would be as fruitful as me trying to convince you to wear fur. I'm a lost cause, and happily so.

13 March 2008

Political Post

Disclaimer, since we live in a world of oversensitive pansies who like to misinterpret things and feel like victims and whip out lawyers to sue people over things that don't matter: If you don't like what I have to say, that's okay. I'm not out to deliberately hurt anyone. If you disagree with my ideas, that doesn't bother me. You are as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine. The following is my opinion.

responding to this article, and specifically the following quote:

"Obama's proposal would shift the tax burden toward the rich from low- and middle-income workers. "

He's just telling his voters what they want to hear. Nobody wants to hear that the top 1% of Americans pay 90% of ALL income taxes in America. Nobody wants to hear that low-income workers don't pay jack shit in taxes -- the poorer you are, the more tax breaks you get -- bottom line, they are POOR. The rich are already paying 60-70% of their income in taxes, people -- to take care of people like you. How would you like it if 60-70% of your year was spent working to support people you don't even know? Think about it: seven months of work -- seven months of time spent away from your family, seven months spent busting your ass, seven months under stress to make it work -- sucked out of your bank account and sent off for someone else to squander.

Oh, but it's okay for the rich to pay so much, because they earn so much, right? No. It's called a scale of proportion. Taking 60% of someone's income is taking 60% of someone's income. It's no more right to steal a car from a rich person than it is to steal a car from a poor person. The object changes, but the deed is the same.

So, here we are, with the wealthy not being allowed to keep 60-70% of their earned income. Last time I heard about people working to produce a product that they couldn't keep and from which they could not gain, it was called slavery. This is the slavery with mass appeal and a friendly face -- let's enslave the rich through social engineering and government regulation, and we can all feel good about stealing from them, because they're rich, and we all know that being rich means they must have done something bad, immoral, or evil to get there! So let's take it, because stealing's okay when it's done to someone else! Let's take it, because envy means entitlement!

It leaves me to think: Do you people want it all? DO YOU WANT IT ALL? COME AND TAKE IT, BITCHES. Suck us dry, and see if you like it when the teat drys up and there's nothing left for us to give.

Nobody likes to hear that the wealthy are what keeps an economy going through recession. They are the people who are spending money, buying products, stimulating tourism, keeping people employed. They put money back into the system so it keeps going. The wealthy pay, and they pay, and they pay... and no one wants to acknowledge that, because we need to feel something, instead of think about it.

But that's not what the masses want to hear. They want to hear me say, "Yessuh, I go pay my taxes now. Yessuh, I pay 'em good."

07 March 2008

I aten't dead... full edition.

Last Saturday, I went to tea at Serenity Tearoom (click here for Teamap link) with my cousin and my grandmother. I'm a huge fan of Serenity's teas. They are second only to the Leaf Tea that Lindy sent me from Australia (their Baileys is bar none the most delicious flavored tea EVAR). The food at Serenity is excellent, the teas top-notch and the service impeccable. I have to say, though, that the miniature chocolate éclairs at Cafe Anglais are still at the top of my dessert tray rankings.

After tea, we went shopping downtown. I bought a hat (suprise). It's brown felt, which means it's a cool-weather hat, so I don't know how much I'm actually going to wear it... but I love it.

ETA: I wore it today (7 March) and it was great!

I stopped in one of the little bakeries, PROOF, and bought a brioche à tête to take home. It was fantastic. Yum yum yum yum... I want another. I also bought two cupcakes: one carrot cake and one red velvet. The carrot cake was delicious; the red velvet so-so. I liked the icing on both -- cream cheese, a little tart, not too sweet. Just right.

Knitting News: I finished the capelet. I edged it in Glitter, a mohair/sparkle 2ply. Next step is to find an appropriate closure. I'm thinking about either doing buttons in silver, or having a glass closure made, such as those from Moving Mud. All I have to do is send them a fiber sample. This may work out, since I have total about 4.5" of yarn left, in two pieces.

Eleganza Yarns is participating in a sock design contest. Monetary prizes. Check it out. Entry forms at the shop, as well as this link. Those of you who like knitting socks -- more power to ya.

Chugging along on this little sweater for my nephew... trying to get it done by his 1st birthday (end of March).

On Wednesday I mailed off my Pratchgan squares to cherryred in Scotland!

BS Johnson's PAPCaRTAW-IMGP1781

I was called in to angel for the Ankh-Morpork Knitter's Guild "I'm just sending this box so my partner can have cardboard for their boots and I was guilted into putting stuff in it" Swap. This weekend will be shopping and putting the parcel together. And uh, knitting something for it (such as... uh... dishcloths on size 20 needles).

Other food news: I had lunch at Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg (VA) today. If you go there, have the pumpkin ravioli. I'm not easy to impress... most of the time I eat out, I'm disappointed... and I was impressed with this dish. Pumpkin ravioli with asparagus, roasted parsnips, broccoli and parmesan in a cream sauce. My taste buds were dancing. It was the kind of taste sensation you just want to linger over. I had a bite of my date's portabella burger (get it with goat cheese instead of brie) and that was good, too. Okay, I know this is a knitting blog, not a "wonderful things Courtney's eaten lately" blog... so that'll be all for now.


05 March 2008


Just thought I'd let you know. Hang in there, readers. In the meantime, go read Yarn Harlot (as though you needed telling, right?). She has some good stuff up recently on her antics in the woods.