Wednesday, May 31, 2006

We call this the company helicopter: it spins round and round, then crashes. Perfect for us.


(from Grimpen Mire)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


On the way into work today, I got pooped on by a bird. According to several sources, this is apparently very good luck. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket or something.
Quel weekend!

Caught up with a friend whom I'd not seen in nearly a year. Bought yarn together and made a pact to knit the same lace tank top (hopefully by the end of the summer).

Got my first sunburn of the year out in the garden. What was I thinking spending three hours in the sun without protection? Did get a lot of work done (transplanting, weeding, pruning).

Visited a little memorial over by the Disabled Veterans Association on Broadway.

Went to the zoo:

Mama giraffe having a bit of a nosh at Southwick's Zoo in Mendon, MA

and passed through il purgatorio on the way home.

Yes, yes, yes: barbecue was involved, too.
About a year ago, Harry, our tropical plant expert, gave me a clivia and a walking iris. The clivia's a bit more persnickety and hasn't bloomed yet, but the iris has been displaying very nicely. This is blossom #2 of three:

Also known as apostle plants, these delicate looking irises are surprisingly hardy. This is a good thing for me, as I don't do delicate well.

Blossom #3 showed up this morning. As they don't last longer than a day, I'm hoping to get home in time to catch a couple images of it in decline, as they fade beautifully, too.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Taking Stock.

Have been sorting through piles of things in my very disorganized life lately, trying to make sense of a lot of the clutter. This weekend saw me reorganizing the guest / yarn room. Found in the closet a whole bunch of what're known as "UFOs," or unfinished objects.

There was a baby sweater:

For Buttercup! One sleeve was longer than the other, so I looked for some matching yarn, grafted on a few more rows, then finished the garment. A good, serious wet-blocking both evened up some of the uneven stitches and brought out the lace pattern in the yoke. Decided to pass a bit of satin ribbon through some eyelets rather than sew a button on, as I thought it looked kind of sweet. Since there's a teeny bit of this yellow yarn left, I might make a little matching cap. For those of you who are interested, here's the pattern. I've made a dozen of these sweaters so far as they knit up very quickly and people are breeding like rabbits here.

two half-unravelled tank tops (didn't like how they turned out), a striped sweater, completed but for 1/2 a sleeve, a hat/scarf combination and a stuffed toy I'd not yet embroidered a face on.

It's supposed to be a farmer rabbit from Debbie Bliss's Stuffed toy collection. The gauge of the yarn being what it is and my choice of costume makes it look more like a Mennonite elephant than a bunny. I'm thinking of keeping it as is, rather than putting a face on.

Then there were the socks:

Deer Isle colors: mossy green like the ocean in the cove interspersed with bands of gold, green and red seaweed. The wharf bleached nearly bone-white by sun, salt and age. I started knitting these socks on a boat trip into the Bay of Fundy nearly a year ago.

Don't know why I stopped with only a heel and toe to go. Don't know how these ended up under a pile of unwanted things in a spare room closet. It's funny the things we can sometimes cast aside for no apparent reason other than whim.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Well, it happened again. Found that yet member of upper management's been passing my work off as their own.

Five years, no raises and scores of bureaucratic changes for the worse later, I've taken to comforting myself with the notion that, just like the masons during medieval times who worked not for themselves but the greater glory of God, my work is appreciated. It may not be glorifying me, but someone's getting promoted for it.


Bug in Amber

I miss him, but I don't miss the relationship. I do love him, I just can't live with him. I wish that he could see past his notions of what a girlfriend should be and understand that he was strangling me. I wish that he would, for a change, take a look at himself and not constantly blame "my problems" for Us not working. I wish to God that he didn't feel that he could be friends with me because I was "the love of his life." I also wish that he didn't feel that jealousy was better than indifference and that outside friendships weren't emotional infidelity.

(from Grimpen Mire)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lobster Evolution, III

-BAW, Somerville, 05/06

(Mental note: white background washes the subject out.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What light from yonder window breaks?

Last night, caught a glimpse of a shadow that I'd not in over a week. Screamed and ran out the door to get a bit of that sorely-missed Vitamin D.

This morning, noted that the bottled sunshine I'd made over the weekend in an attempt to stave off depression looked awfully pretty when backlit:

Jardins Sous La Pluie

In the brief periods between downpours, dragged the new toy out to see what I could document of the spring flowers before the rain took them all away:

A couple years back, I caught my landlord hacking away at one of the hosta plants, his maintenance being that they were little more than weeds. Of the two bunches of them that I managed to save, I ended up giving away something like 70 plants. Kept about 30 and to distribute around the house and plant in my neighbor's yard. Everywhere I put them, they have thrived to the point that they're crowding everything out and making the place look like a jungle. Clearly they need to be divided, redistributed and given up for adoption to good homes. Any takers?

Idem with the bleeding hearts. (I've also got astilbes and irises coming up like gangbusters if anyone would like any.)

The toughest thing has been watching the poor lilacs rot on the branches,

as this is the first year that they've been out in proliferation. I'd been pruning the old trees (which had gone rank) for some time, and was looking forward to waking up to the hoped-for flowers' perfume on sunny mornings.

Maybe that'll happen if things dry up enough over the next few days. If not, well, there's always the climbing rose under my window in summer.
When life gives you lemons -

Lemon Marmalade

10 large lemons
4 cups water
4 cups sugar

Using vegetable peeler, remove yellow part of peel in strips from lemons. Cut strips into 1-by 1/8-inch strips. With knife, cut off all white membrane, or pith, from peeled lemons.

Cut peeled lemons crosswise into 1/4- inch-thick slices. In heavy nonaluminum 5-quart kettle or Dutch oven, combine lemon peel, sliced fruit, and water. Cover and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours*.

Heat lemon mixture to boiling over high heat, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lemon mixture is very soft, about 1 hour.

Add sugar to lemon mixture and increase heat to medium-high; stir until sugar dissolves. Heat to boiling and reduce heat just so mixture boils gently. Boil uncovered, stirring frequently, until candy thermometer registers 220 degrees F., 45 to 60 minutes**.

Meanwhile, prepare canning jars with their lids and bands for processing following manufacturer's directions.

Spoon marmalade into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars.

Wipe jar rims clean. Seal with lids and bands. Process jars in boiling-water bath 15 minutes. Cool jars on wire rack. Label jars; store in cool, dry place.

(Makes about 3-4 pints.)


* Since I wanted a stronger infusion, I let the lemon mixture sit for 24 hours at room temperature.

** My rule of thumb for jellymaking without commercial pectin is to simmer the fruit/sugar mixture until a spoonful dripped into cold water makes a slightly solid drop. This is more like 20-25 minutes. If I'd have cooked this mixture for 45-60 minutes, it would have ended up rock-solid.


This stuff's extremely strong (one might do well to put a half pint in a first-aid kit), so just a little will go a very long way. I'm thinking that it tastes a little like North African pickled lemons, only without all that salt. Am considering fooling around with a couple spoonsful of this, some good green olives and chicken breast. I'm willing to bet that I might be able to come up with a nice quickie tagine.

(from Grimpen Mire)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Lobster Evolution, II

-DM, Paris, 04/06

Monday, May 15, 2006

Lobster Evolution, I

-HR, Cambridge, 04/06
Nuits Sauvages.

WILD nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port,—
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!

-Emily Dickinson

(from Grimpen Mire)
The Portrait

My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek
still burning.

-My first contact with Stanley Kunitz. The Pulitzer-prize winning poet who nurtured numerous generations of young writers passed away recently. He was 100 years old.

(from Grimpen Mire)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Il faut garder la ligne.

My boss stopped by to leave me a handful of Dove chocolates. I told her to take them back, as I was now a single girl and needed to lose weight in order to find me a new man. The look on her face in response was worth two handfuls of chocolates.


Blues for a Wednesday Afternoon.

Lack of sleep, upsetting reading, memories of things in the distant and not so distant past, plus the prospect of nine days more of rain have a girl feeling pretty down right now.

There's nothing I'd like more than to be at home under my quilt, curled up next to another warm, hibernating someone. It's creature comforts I long for when I feel like this. Creature comforts and a good, long cry.


After tossing about in bed, trying to count sheep and getting up for several drinks of water, I've given up. Can't sleep another wink. It could be that gorgeous chicken curry for dinner way too late last night. Could also be the gnawing suspicion that the fellow who was staring at me from down the street when I got home had been casing the house beforehand. Might even be that the rain's been coming down in sheets since yesterday morning. Went out into it once yesterday afternoon: it felt like a cold, pulsating shower.

I want to be tired, I want to sleep. I want wake up refreshed in a few hours and get on with my life. Can't stand this limbo.

(from Grimpen Mire)
Les fleurs ne sont pas cheres.

-A small group of bluets photographed at Ginny's place over Easter. Such a long time between then and now. Wow.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I don't consider lacy, frou-frou or sexy to be a natural state for me, so it's kind of strange to think that I might want to try being so a little bit.

Was looking around on one of my favorite knitting sites, one by a former designer for Frederick's. Am feeling the most incredible craving for raspberries and for chantilly; neither of which is very practical. The Puritanical Bureaucrat in me tells me that it might be better to stick with slightly more work-appropriate. It's still lacy and feminine enough to satisfy this new taste I've developed, however.

I wonder who's going to be holding the credit card when this all hits the shopping cart: sexy thing or bureaucrat?

Fresas Emotivas

I came across a strawberry windfall on Sunday at a time when I needed it the most.

Brought my boxes home, collected up some jars and lids (had just enough - was meant to do this), then started in on some meditative jam-making. My recipe, by the way, is based on the one in the Women's Home Companion Cookbook (1942 edition, same as what Grandma Z used):

Wash strawberries thoroughly, hull, remove bad spots, cut into desired-sized pieces (whole berries make preserves, cut/crushed berries make jam). Weigh the fruit and, for each pound of berries, measure out a pound of sugar. Place fruit in a large enough pot to accomodate bubbling up, then heat until boiling. When this point is reached, add sugar, mixing until all is dissolved.

Cook mixture for 15-20 minutes (low boil), making sure to stir often so it doesn't scorch. Test for done-ness by dripping a bit of the liquid off a spoon: if it 'sheets off,' it's jelled enough. Pour jam into clean, sterilized jars and seal lids.

Lots of intense good thoughts went into this batch and, honestly, I think it's the best I've ever made: ruby red, perfectly jelled, tasting of sunshine and spring. I'm enjoying looking at the jars in a row on my cupboard, souvenirs of a beautiful lovemaking session that they are.

(from Grimpen Mire)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I tried to be gentle as it hurts me more to cause pain than to have it inflicted on me, but his reaction was again to accuse me of infidelity, of shutting him out for shutting me out, of all sorts of absurd things. I finally lost my temper and told him that whatever our relationship was at the start, it had degraded into something completely unhealthy and that I couldn't live with such misery any more. I then went into the house. He rested on my front stoop for something like a half and hour before wandering off.

There's really no nice way to tell someone that you'd rather be alone than with them, is there. If there's one thing I'm particularly proud of, it's my honesty. Still, I feel sick for having said what I did.

(from Grimpen Mire)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Vermont, Spring 2006

The end of April found us on a serendipitous getaway to Stowe, Vermont. Yes, it really is that picturesque, too:


Since skiing wasn't what one would call optimal (the temperatures being in the high 60s most of the time), we convinced a sporting goods store to let us rent bikes, even though it was a bit early in the season. Some views from the bike path:


I do not like heights. I do not like gondolas, either, for that matter, having been trapped in one elsewhere before. The guy and his mom, however, took the trip to one of the summits of Mount Mansfield:


A pale-face mugging on a pre-mud-season hike to the Stowe Pinnacle.


Where we stayed:

Trapp Family Lodge

Arija and birches on the Trapp property

The view from our balcony

Ceci n'est pas un centerpiece.


Before it became a resort, the Trapp homestead was a working farm (and for a brief period in the 50s and 60s, they had a music camp). To this day, they still make maple syrup:


The highland cattle still remain:


Spent an afternoon in Burlington, Vermont. A pleasant enough place, but given its reputation as being some sort of progressive mecca, I found it very dingy, litter-filled and a little disappointing. The views across Lake Champlain were very impressive, though:


On the way back, we made a pilgrimage to King Arthur Flour in Norwich, VT:

This sight might have been more impressive to me than my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. (To each his or her own.)

(Thanks to my number one shutterbug.)
Spring around the Mystic

Took a walk around the Mystic Reservation last weekend: it's amazing what there is to see that's new and different with each change of seasons.

Last fall, we were lamenting the dying leaves falling from the trees. We did, though, take comfort in the knowledge that stuff would spring back in the following months when they were good and ready:

Some sort of beech?

Maple fruits

Buds that look like little locusts from a plant that most certainly wasn't a locust

Budding ailanthus


And they call this a weed.

Yeah, right.


Spring romance?

Potential goslings (I can think of no other place I'd rather be if I were an egg. Doesn't this look cozy?).


This fellow was either practicing or he saw something that looked appetizing near us. A couple times, he got a bit too close for comfort.


(Thanks to the Guy, as always, for the photos)