Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dispatch #7:

"It got *hot* here: lots of sun, 80 degrees right now. Was at the beach in Rockport (North of Salem, MA) and got a killer sunburn. Am getting too old for that. Ate the yearly lobster, too. I'm not crazy about lobster, but it's kind of the principle of the thing. You kind of have to do that here every now and again.

Rotten news: The @#$!! squirrels ate all my strawberry plants! Am going to have to rethink the garden. Only three weeks left of school this semester. Wish me luck...& YOU take care."
Ugh. 80 degrees. Too much for April. Had to actually iron a (linen) shirt in order to look presentable when I go out tonight.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Since the weather's so nice, am going to go up north for a couple days. Will be back soon.
Went out to fill the suet feeders this morning and found that *all* my strawberry plants were completely annihilated. Not happy. On the other hand, I did note that the marigolds weren't touched. Stuff up front isn't being bothered, either. Am going to have to think this vegetables vs squirrels thing out a bit more.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stained Glass

Is amazing how, even on the grayest of days, a little natural light can lift the spirits.
Professor's still not back yet. Hopefully soon. Not that I mind the guy pinch hitting for her right now or anything; it's just that I like her better.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yesterday's WIPS

a birdhouse:


baby booties:

Blocking Baby Booties

a burial plot:

Burial Plot

Monday, April 20, 2009

While Pavel and the Frenchie worked on a birdhouse (almost done! just needs to be finished. The Frenchie recommends canola oil.), I got the garden plot measured out, cut into and bordered. Got the soil mixed and heaped up in the center of things just before the rain started, so it looks kind of like a newly-dug grave. Pavel took a couple boards, nailed them into a cross and hammered it in. Ought to give the neighbor a bit more food for thought with tomorrow morning's stogie.

Not a big garden - only about 4' x 5' - but should be enough to keep me out of trouble this season. When the weather improves (hopefully by the end of the week; we'll see.), I plan on evening things out and planting the lettuce, pea seeds and radish seeds. After that, tomatoes, cukes, bok choy. Will have to get some more containers for the herbs (sage, thyme, oregano, tarragon, lavender, marjoram, mint) as I used my two big ones up on the strawberries.


Time now for a late tea, showers for everyone, an even later dinner, than some other work (reading on Fascism for class and this.) Pavel and the Frenchie are going to attempt this tonight. (Wish them luck).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dispatch #6

"Hope you're doing okay. I'm a little tired out, but otherwise fine. Dad mentioned sending some notepaper + envelopes, etc. I can do the same next week. Here, Spring has sprung! It was nearly 70 degrees out yesterday. The birds are marking their territory like crazy and Monday's the Marathon already! We barbecued twice this past week. Also got a Mr. AND Mrs. Downy Woodpecker in the feeder the other day! Life is pretty good. Oh. Got my taxes out late, but since the gov't owes me, I don't think they'll mind. You Take Care."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Class: another substitute. Made just a couple too many //s between Hitler and GWB. After one of several remarks about concentration camps and gitmo, another student mentioned that one couldn't compare the two concepts. And that was that.

While showing the Frenchie around, it occurred to me that my happy community college is kind of like a cleaner, more user-friendly Stendhal. (Hmm.)

Lunch: The Frenchie wanted un gros steack so I took him to the 99 across the street from school. Explained how this particular restaurant was called the 95. Fiddled around with his calculator in order to figure out how big of a sirloin he was going to get; determined that they all were pretty darn huge.

I like taking him to chain restaurants because they get such a bad rap over in France (an awful lot of chains there are pretty bad, actually, so I can kind of understand the mefiance). He admitted that a brick box was something that a Frenchie would immediately turn their nose up at, but that it was actually quite good and his steak (saignant: run through a warm room) was excellent.

Wandered over to the Constitution, checked out the repair work. Got to experience the wonders of a beautiful working harbor (pictures later).

Long Wharf: bought socks, checked out the Tea Party action. Not much going on at 4:30 pm. Very difficult to explain how a fledgling movement with a few hundred protesters (here and there which ends up becoming thousands) could be so much more threatening to TPTB than the cast of thousands that converges upon the streets of Paris roughly every other week. (Granted France does have lots of problems and shutting things down sometimes works, but not everyone subscribes to the notion that throwing money at pet entitlements is the solution to all the ills at hand). Again, pictures later.

Beacon Hill: Cherries and magnolias in bloom! Train station was gorgeous in the late afternoon light.

Home: Root Beer floats! Noticed that I got a sunburn. Time for bed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Never going to be done on time. This is a first for me.
While writing, noted a flash of red out of the corner of my eye. Turned to look and saw a male downy woodpecker on the sunflower seed feeder. Called for the Frenchie and Pablo. By the time they arrived, he'd moved over to the suet feeder and his girlfriend perched herself next to him.

The three of us sat transfixed watching the new visitors we'd only, up to this point, heard before. What a treat.

(Brings us to 16 species we've seen so far from the kitchen window.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Alright, back to the salt mines (or, more to the point, the coal mines and textile factories of early 19th century Britain).
Rhythm Section.

The mockingbird came back a couple days ago and has been serenading the neighborhood in the early morning. Today, noticed a woodpecker joining in.
The Frenchie is slated to arrive sometime this afternoon. Unfortunately, there was some sort of delay at Roissy because (of all things) a truck hit the airplane and repairs needed to be done.

Made a ratatouille and a pork loin pour casser la croute, as I think that both the Frenchie and Pavel (who went back to visit family) are going to be wiped out when they eventually get home.
Spring Cleaning.

Spent a good part of the weekend (when I wasn't trying to hide from the migraine) scrubbing the house. Am very pleased with the results: all bed linens washed and changed. All floors mopped. The bathrooms and kitchen cleaned. My room arranged to accommodate a guest.

It feels good to have the house all fresh, shiny and clean-smelling. It felt good last night curling up in the crisp cotton sheets instead of flannel as well.

Nice to feel, for a change, that I've accomplished something.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter.

Tulips Past Their Prime

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dispatch #5:

"Got your letter the other day - thank you!!! Unfortunately, you're going to have to work harder on the 'crazy, incoherent' part, because I understood everything you had to say. To answer your question: Bachelors is in French Lit. I want to get a translation degree which is a Masters in the US, but more like a Bachelors in France. We'll see. If you can get an actual Bible in the library, that would be good. There're some awesome stores there...write when you can. I understand. Happy Easter!"

Had a good day yesterday. Not only did my stitch dictionary come, but I got a nice little package full of all sorts of gifts (including a gorgeous cream-colored handspun) from a lady in Montana.

Corinna's Handspun

It's a two-plied fingering weight spun from her own Icelandic lambswool/kid mohair. So soft, so shimmery, that I don't actually want to knit it; want to keep it as it is. However, that's not what yarn is for.

With the yarn came a pattern for a pair of lacy fingerless gloves (perfect for this time of year) and a yarn-winder that one of her sons carved. Thank you, Corinna!

Stopped by Rodney's after the doctor appointment and found yet another book to put in the queue:


The author of the Madeline series was actually one of the less-talented members of a family of reknowned Austrian/German hoteliers. Still, that would make him head and shoulders above most of the competition around here, anyway.

All this was wonderful, but it was eclipsed by something completely unexpected and un peu bouleversant: a letter from my brother.
Today's Motto:

"Quand on va a la chasse, on perd sa place."*

Trouble's Home Office

My Trouble's home office. This has been happening an awful lot lately. He keeps it up, he's going to be doing my taxes.


* "When you go to the hunt, you lose your place." Pavel said that it was a favorite phrase of his middle school French teacher's. I'd never heard of it before. Will have to look up where it came from, though I'm wondering if it didn't originate at the court of Louis XIV.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

When I posted on Cambridge Ladies at the poetry site, I was serious about belonging to an eco-exchange group. Here's how the net bag's progressing:

Net Bag

(Note the 1/2 a$$ed little stitch marker doodle. Was annoyed with it last night, but now think it's actually kind of cute:)

Net Bag Detail

Am enjoying the pattern; it's not monotonous at all and is working up fast in the thick cotton yarn. Since I have tons of the stuff and I believe it'll take one skein per bag, one can guess what sort of gifts I'll be giving out in the foreseeable future.

Pavel picked up something new at Whole Foods the other day. I'm not normally a big fan of cold cereal (usually way too sweet and I get tired of shredded wheat after a while), but this stuff's *good.* It's slightly malty (snort) with a lot of added flaxseed. Love it.
Last night, heard a familiar song for the first time in a while. Searched a bit, but couldn't actually pinpoint the singer.

Where's the singing coming from?

He was somewhere up in the maple tree.

Had seen Mr. Redbreast around recently*, but he was always silent.

Standing under the trees in the chilly air, listening to his debut for the season, I felt this odd thrill. If my German were better and I could be transported back about 200 years, I'd have written an ode or something.


*Do they hang around here in the winter? I don't think so. Don't remember ever seeing any in the neighborhood before about April, anyway.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Is it something in the water?

The male sparrows are doing their get-a-girl dance in the yew and a pair of squirrels are (ahem) 'wrestling' on a woodpile in the neighbor's yard.

Haven't seen this much action in a l-o-n-g time.
It's Official.

Mr. and Ms. Cardinal are an item. (Just saw him crack a seed and feed it to her.)

Am looking forward to the mating dance*, which based on accounts that I've read, looks a bit like this:


*(Am not sure whether this is actually a mating dance or an aggressive display.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Got started with my Spring planting up front today. Put in some primroses, pansies, columbines and some sort of composite with fringe-like petals whose name I forget. Did an awful lot to cheer things up.

Since I was up front, noted quite a few people stopping to take a look at what I was doing. Even got a few compliments on the arrangement and lack of color scheme. Was surprised that this came mostly from hospital people and glad that they noticed. Hopefully this will help push the notion that the houses that remain in the neighborhood are homes. Perhaps, by extension, the notion that the driveways aren't free parking and the lawns aren't trash bins or ash trays might gain traction as well.

Anyway, next up will be the strawberries, tomatoes and lettuce we picked up over the weekend. I want a decent-sized vegetable garden in the back, but really need to think on where to put it - both to maximize the sun time and to minimize the squirrel damage. (This is going to be tricky.)

Monday, April 06, 2009


Certainly felt like it walking back from school today. On a good note, though I was thoroughly soaked by the time I got home, at least nobody splashed me. In fact, noticed that people were going out of their way to either avoid puddles or slow down if they needed to drive through them while they passed me. Am really appreciative of that.
Was glad to see our professor back again today, even if her arm was in a sling. Had every reason to be out last week, as apparently, she was in an accident and separated her shoulder. Hasn't been fixed yet; hopefully that won't be too complicated or traumatic.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


"Would Doctor care for a brandy before retiring?...Some warm milk?...Ovaltine?"

Recently had the most incredible craving for a warm mug of Ovaltine, which was odd in that I really never drank the stuff as a kid. (Grew up in a Quik household. My favorite was strawberry).

Picked up a jar of the malt, as that's what I really was in the mood for, and served it up the evening the weather was particularly miserable. Heavens, did it hit the spot. Warmed me up better than a hot shower (or toddy) ever did. Also got rid of the headache that was dogging me the past couple days. Guess I was lacking something that the stuff has - it's got more vitamins in it than the gosh darned pill I take every morning.

Looked at the company website, as I saw that on the package that it belonged to the Nestle holding. Was surprised to learn that it was invented by the Swiss and went by the name of Ovalmaltine; Ovaltine is apparently a sort of Ellis Island spelling. (Funny that, as a while back, was talking to the Frenchie about it and he kept referring to it as Ovalmaltine. Haven't found it at Monoprix yet, but will go looking for it the next time I visit.)

Anyway, am very happy to have followed the craving; this stuff's good and it seems to be pretty good for you. Need more of that in my life.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Irritée Contre le Monde Entier.

Felt the hint of a headache coming on this morning. Tried some extra caffeine and a few glasses of water to see if that would help, but only felt worse.

I think it's the weather - was bleak, cold and damp all day with an awful wind wreaking havoc high up in the trees.

Pavel was pretty cranky and headache-y, too.

Am forcing myself to stay up an hour or so more, so as not to wake too early tomorrow morning. All I'm really up for right now is a bit of knitting and comforting music.

"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you..." Perhaps not quite appropriate for the season, but soothing, just the same.
Angrily Happy.

Angrily Happy Little Girl Cat
Need to get out today to look at flowers for the new garden. Pavel likes primroses and pansies. I want a lot of cheap perennials like hostas, bleeding hearts and astilbes.


Naturalized primroses in the Frenchie's yard. February, 2009.
Something I was sorely tempted to get, but decided against.

This guy was a super hero. The three volumes in question make up a bilingual edition of his exploits in Spain, Texas and South America. The Spanish he used doesn't intimidate me. (Heck, can't be any worse than Montaigne's French, and I navigated that pretty well as a kid.) However, it doesn't make sense for me to drop that much money at a time when I really need to watch what I spend. Maybe I'll try to find it at a library and, if I like it, will consider getting it for myself as a sort of graduation present.

I have more than enough reading for classes to keep myself busy. However interesting the material might be, though, every night I need to take a break from it.

Lately, have been making my way though Edith Hamilton's Mythology, something I'd not looked at since I was a kid. It's a particular delight to read her introduction to each story, where she discusses her choices of whose source material to use for each and why. Her language (and interpretation of the original authors' language) enhances the compelling nature of the myths.

Am currently about 1/2 way through the book; just finished the story of Theseus. Honestly believe that the best thing he could have done for Ariadne was to leave her on Naxos. She definitely "married up." Also believe that Medea throughout time has been given a bum rap, that Jason did wrong by her and that she did not have many (if any) other options available to her at the time.

Next up is the story of Hercules. Then the story of the fall of Troy. (This is a major cut off point in actual Greek history - apparently, after the fall of Troy, there is a great 'dark' period about which we know absolutely nothing.) The last perhaps 40 or so pages is devoted to Norse Mythology, something I know very little about. Am looking forward to that.

Am still slogging my way through the introduction to the edition of the Federalist Papers that I picked up sometime last fall. It's very good background material, just a bit difficult to digest late at night. Should try reading it with my morning coffee.

While out searching for a Birthday gift for Pavel, I happened upon a Book of War. Have read a couple translations and all sorts of commentary on Sun Tzu's work. Might be interesting to read it back to back with von Clausewitz's treatise on Total War. (Why not?)

One of Pavel's gifts this year this book on a favorite bird. He read some of it to me while I was knitting last night. It's lovely. Might try to seek out any other books in this series that might exist.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Dispatch #4:

"Hope you're doing okay. Today's my friend Paul's birthday. Gave him a couple books on birdwatching, then went out to lunch at a brew pub in Harvard Square. Not as clean as it could be, but the food was pretty good. (I had fish and chips; he had meatloaf.) Didn't do much else because the weather is awful right now - cold, rainy, dark. Typical New England in April. The cats're okay; the birds started courting. I'm knitting myself some slippers. Take care."
(He asked for Debbie Reynolds in a cake.)

Happy Birthday, Pavel!

Thursday, April 02, 2009


At least four, perhaps a half dozen house finches have visited the yew tree diner over the past month or so. Of those, two of those seem to be regulars:

Mr. House Finch

This is Mr. House Finch. He's been eating well, so is getting redder and redder with time. If you were looking from above, you'd note a brown spot on the top of his head.

Mrs. House Finch

Ms. House Finch. Same sleek shaping as Mr. House Finch, only without the bright red. Note the dark stripes on the light-colored breast.

Normally they tend to eat side by side with Ms. Finch on the sunflower feeder and Mr. Finch on the thistle sack.

Yesterday, I noted something unusual. Mr. Finch was all alone at the sunflower seed feeder and he wasn't hanging around the food like he normally does when the lady is around. Instead, he was pecking at the feeder and flying off somewhere. After seeing a few rounds of this, I decided to get up and watch what was going on from another point of view. Saw that he was flying between the feeder and the maple tree in the neighbor's yard, something I usually only see our lone chickadee doing. Why would a house finch be acting like a chickadee all of a sudden?

More importantly, where was Ms. Finch? Squinted a bit, scanned Mr. Finch's flight path and saw her perched up in the maple. At this point, Mr. Finch returned to the maple from the feeder, sat down next to Ms. Finch and offered her a seed which she gracefully accepted.

Something tells me that, in addition to food, we're going to need to provide nesting material pretty soon.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

By the Way,

April Fish

Fish Market, Versailles.

Happy April Fools Day!
In less than two weeks, Paris comes to Boston again. Can't wait.
Haven't been getting enough sleep lately, and the sleep that I have been getting hasn't been the best quality. Lots of dreams.

Early this morning I actually dreamed myself into a movie scene. After after being chased, I was in a small boat in the fog.

Ugetsu Monogatari, my favorite by Mizoguchi so far.

Though things were calm at the moment, I had this awful feeling of desperation. Managed to wake myself up with much difficulty; felt much like surfacing from a deep dive. Was very glad to get out of there.
Got to class early today, prepared and everything for a change. However, the prof didn't make it in. I'm hoping that everything's okay.
Metternich, Bismark, Frederick William.

Garibaldi, Victor-Emmanuel, Cavour.

Second Republic, Second Empire, Third Empire.

Schlesweig-Holstein, Piedmont, Crimea, Sedan.

Oy - if only I'd have been born 1000 years ago. I'd have had much less history to learn.