Sunday, February 28, 2010

Am at odds over which of the three of the "Three Colors" movies is my favorite: Liberty, Equality, or Brotherhood. Am kind of thinking that "Equality" is right now.
Harbinger of Spring:

We've had a ton of Goldfinches and House Finches out back for the past month-or-so that I've been back; is interesting in that they weren't around last year, or anything.

Have become kind of ordinary, these little ones:

Goldies on Feeder

Goldies flocking on the feeders last week. Get a load of that particularly Gold bee-hind on the top level!

Have to say that I'm surprised with how accustomed to the bright flashes of primary colors have become; sometimes even find myself looking beyond the birds to other things. Still, changes in the routine do surprise. The other day, observed something subtle, lovely, totally Springlike: a male Red Head tenderly passing a sunflower seed to a brown headed, stripy-breasted girlfriend. (sigh.) Spring is *almost* here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Put grief, hormones and stress together and you get a very tired, but wired girl. (Would love to be able to sleep.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

About the Most Honest Love Song I Know:

Ringo Starr's not only my favorite Beatle (George Harrison being the second favorite), but he's the only one I ever actually met in person. Ask me sometime about this! Comme la vielle qui radote that I am, I love telling the story.

Lyrics in English.

Ca arrive pas facile'
Tu sais que ca arrive pas facile'.

Ca arrive pas facile'
Tu sais que ca n'arrive pas facile'.

Il faut payer qqchose avant de chanter les blues,
et tu sais que ca ne vienne pas facilement
T'as pas besoin d'en crier ou sauter comme un fou,
Tu peux bien etre sage'.

Oublie ton passe et toutes ses tristesses
L'avenir ne durera pas; ca sera tout fini demain.

Je ne t'exige de trop; toute ce que je veux est la confiance,
et tu sais que ca ne soit pas facile.
Et cet amour en moi continue a croitre
et tu sais que ca ne soit pas facile.

Ouvre ton coeur; allons ensemble,
Aime un peu de plus,
Et nous amelierons les choses bien plus.


Il faut payer qqchose avant de chanter les blues,
et tu sais que ca ne vienne pas facilement
T'as pas besoin d'en crier ou sauter comme un fou,
Tu peux bien etre sage'.

La Paix, 'faut se rappeler, La Paix est comment on le cree;
C'est entre tes mains
Si tu est assez fort a la prendre.

Je ne t'exige de trop; toute ce que je veux est la confiance,
et tu sais que ca ne soit pas facile.
Et cet amour en moi continue a croitre
et tu sais que ca ne soit pas facile.*


*Just take this for what it's worth - not much. Used to play around with translating lyrics and singing them on the long walks to campus from the side of the Alp I lived on another life ago. Since I followed the Geneve-points south tracks, ended up with, among other things, a pretty good version of "I've Been Working On the Railroad."
Partagez Vos Jours entre L’Amour et La Gloire

— Prince, lui répondit le génie, partagez vos jours entre l’amour et la gloire ; Mirzoza vous assurera le premier de ces avantages ; et je vous promets le second. " À ces mots, le spectre encapuchonné serra la queue de ses hiboux, et partit en pirouettant, comme il était venu.

"Prince, answered the genie, divide your days between Love and Glory; Mirzoza (your Favorite) will secure the first of these advantages; I promise you the second." And with these words, the hooded spirit tugged the tails of his owls and left with a pirouette, just as he had come.

-the last lines of Diderot's "Indiscreet Jewels," a considerably more intelligent and woman-friendly talking tw@t tribute to today than this.
Conversation Hearts:

Valentine Hearts

For my cousin's girls; the closest I have to kids or grandkids at this point. Kind of angular with too tight seam stitching; kind of like me. Still, kind of like how they turned out.

Homespun Heart

For the Frenchie. This year's an awful lot more rough than previous years' efforts (kind of like how I'm feeling.) Actually picked up the spindle for the first time in several years since I learned and spun the yarn myself. Was really an effort to knit the finished product, as was (seriously!) garbage, but ended up with something actually kind of worth giving. Stuffed it with all the non-knit able castoffs.

(More to come.)
Happy Valentine's Day.

Swordfish steaks from a dinner a little bit back. Should I have sold them on e-Bay instead of eating them?

Friday, February 12, 2010

South Beach, Day 15 (again, I know. It's working, though!):

Oatmeal with flax, apples, pecans, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and (honestly, I swear!) a teaspoon of honey:

(Friends, you don't know how good that honey was.)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Had been thinking about a trip to Iceland for a while, though maybe moreso now that the currency isn't closed/hyperinflated anymore. It's a beautiful terrain and I'm interested in the language, culture, history. Enthusiasm's been seriously curbed, though, by general rudeness in the past when folks didn't seem to need foreign money so badly.

This might be the biggest challenge yet. Spent the morning classifying, logging-in and calling folks about the bills that've started coming in from my mother's stuff. Head's reeling.

The housemate was kind enough to get us a pizza for dinner tonight and I'm happy to have gotten a good night's sleep in and have taken a good, long walk in the sun.

Can't shake the nagging thought that an awful lot of this was deliberate.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The housemate has a sore throat; I feel like my head's a big bubble. (Also feels as though I'd been grinding my teeth in my sleep; understandable but not wanted.) Looks like it's going to be a day of not too difficult reading, tea-drinking and dumb knitting. Oh yes, and a big pot of soup. Need the soup.

Last night, used up the last bit of pork cutlets that I browned with some baby onions, garlic and fresh ginger. Decided to make a broth of tamari, mirin, chili and basil to simmer it with. Also added the peeled and julienned leftover broccoli stems still hanging around from last Saturday's dinner. Oh yeah, threw in a few preserved black beans, too, for good measure, since I have a ton of them anyway. Wasn't bad - was light, comforting. What it really could have used, though, was some Asian pickles of some sort to add some zing. Thought of adding some pickled ginger, but decided against. Would have loved some daikon or whatever vegetable the folks at my favorite Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood put in their pork and pickle soup. (Where to find, or should I just read up and make my own?)

Today am far less disposed to being so adventuresome. Maybe will toss some beef or chicken, whatever broth I have laid away in the freezer, some mixed vegetables and the first herbs that come into view into a pot, apply some heat and leave it at that. Too tired and ech to put much thought into this right now.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Pavel offered to fry some cutlets and steam some frozen veggies. Just came upstairs to ask me if he should let onions cook to transparent or to brown them a bit (suggested the latter - but over slow heat). Also asked what would go better with pork: rosemary or thyme. I suggested both and also recommended throwing them, along with some garlic, in with the onions first.

Anyway: Dinner was loverly. We had pork chops with carmelized onions, garlic, thyme and rosemary. As a side, broccoli and green beans. Everything was perfect! He kept trying to say that it wasn't Great. My response was, well, maybe Great is a lot easier than you might think?
Skippy and Fabio are no longer. Am trying to figure out if I didn't add enough anti-chlorine treatment or if there was too much. If the water temperature was too high or too low. Gave them both a seaman's burial last night. (Sob!)
Almost Forgot:

Modular Lace using Short Rows.

What this means, essentially, is that you treat the circle like a pie and you treat the spokes like individual, but attached, pie pieces:

Short Row Lace

Knit from Lion's lovely organic cotton string. I think I used almond here. The doily didn't turn out as I'd wanted - meaning, there were a couple too many rows, so it looked like a princess with a cleft palate or something. Ended up giving it away to someone who seemed pretty happy with it, though more for the time spent on knitting it than anything else, I think.

Couple things came to mind while I was knitting this one. First, that favorite verse from the Tao Te Ching that I'm always quoting. Second, Sunshine:

How much are the guitar's arpeggios and arabesques like the above's knits/purls/yarn overs/k2togs?

I'm smart, but feel dumb most of the time. Far more adept manually than what I give myself credit for, am easily intimidated by anything that looks 'too hard.' What is too hard, though? Especially in terms of knitting.

Started knitting some basic lace patterns back in the day when we could bring knitting on airplanes. I liked that it both occupied my hands and kept me focused mentally when nervous fatigue would make reading, for example, impossible. Last year, got through two gorgeous scarves: Falling Water (first lace ever!)

Falling Water

Katia's Alpaca. This languished for nearly a year before I got up the energy to block it. It's currently on pins and wires in my room as I type.

and Nancy Bush's Stork's Nest.

Nid de Cigogne II

My version: knitted with some lovely-looking, but kind of difficult stuff from Vermont. The color name is "antique brass." Love that.)

Nid de Cigogne Detail

Where's my closeup?! Close up!

Both took forever because I saved them for flight/airport time, but both were incredibly satisfying and made (in my opinion) lovely gifts.

Was really pleased with the flat-knitted results (especially when, after Falling Water, I figured out how to do purls without twisting the stitches. This may seem obvious to 85% of the population, but I'm left-handed, so was a bit of a casse-tête.)

Anyway, based on all this success, decided to take thing further and try a circular (yes, like a doily) bit of lace. The joy of this is not having to purl every other row unless it's germane to the pattern. Decided on Brooklyntweed's interpretation of Hemlock Ring:

Spruce Ring

My dad was kind of nonplussed by this project as, during a difficult family time, I was cursing like a stevedore late at night when everyone was trying to sleep. Found some errors in the pattern, y'see, and was having a hard time resolving them/'reading the lace'/concentrating in general. Lace problems: solved! Family ones?: Not so much yet, anyway.


Finished knitting in Fray-ance chez le Frenchie. Kind of fitting that I end up with a cabbage flower for un petit chou, non? (snort)

The Frenchie with his Christmas Gift

Aah, the magic of blocking!
Am so pleased at how this turned out. The Frenchie, also, as one can see.

You all saw what I did for me as a Birthday gift. Was down and out enough to not leave the house for a bit, but could still knit. Decided to try the little bird spreading its wings on the needles construction, as that's kind of what I'm feeling like right now. A new friend's fearlessness and a free pattern (not to mention a huge stash of lace/sock yarn) are what's fueling the latest project:

Swallowtail Beginning

The Journey of 400m Begins with But a Single Cast-On. It's called Mesange Bleue because "Blue Tit" is something that the 12 year old boy in me won't allow me to call it (snort).

I'd like to do a new lace project a month. Something that'll challenge me technically, hopefully, too. As I'm working on a new physical body as well (more later), would like to make some nice Summery stuff for me.

(We'll see, right?)
It's That Time of Year Again.

Heart Bomb

Many of these are in the process of being knitted/sewn together/stuffed. All will be revealed a week from Sunday; don't want to ruin the surprise.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Found my next knitting project. (Hint: it ain't this.)

A Bit of a Snag.

Is up and keeping with my goal to knit a lace scarf/stole/shawl a month this year. I have other goals, too. Will talk about them soon enough.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Sister Moon.

Climbing up to my squirrel's nest last night, caught a glimpse of the moon peeking out through the maples.

Atop Spring Hill

From my little perch high atop Spring Hill. Really, you had to be there.

She seemed more demure, less blowsy than while in her Wolf phase the other night. Still very radiant, though. Anyway, brought to mind that bit from St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Sun:
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

One thing I'm noting: even when down, am not necessarily out, as there's too much beauty about for me to completely lose interest in life.
My fat cat diet and laser pointer therapy seem to be working, too. Since last March, I've lost 22 lbs. The goal is to lose another 15 and to get myself back into decent athletic shape. I think I can get the weight lost by mid Spring - just in time to start some serious hiking again.


Am still trying to decide if I'm a Happy Cat at heart, though, or too sad from too much bad. I know I try to be happy, just doesn't always happen, though.
Am noticing something interesting: Ampersand was not a happy cat. Her early life was rough and she was just too traumatized to really ever be at ease. I think she was thankful to have a warm place to sleep, people to keep her company and decent food to eat, though. The best I could do in her case was to make the end of her life better than the beginning.

Magnolia, on the other hand, seems to be a happy cat at heart who just went through some recent tough times. As the shelter folks thought might happen, she is starting to blossom into a more confident, strong animal. On watching her break up a fight between the boy cats today, I got the impression that she just might end up the boss of the house.

The Good Ship Magnolia.

The Good Ship Maggie. Just got word from the vet: aside from some bad tartar and gingivitis, she's in good shape. Need to get a tooth cleaning scheduled soon.

Apparently, like me, she's a nervous eater when she's unhappy. Have her on a diet and am exercising her a good bit with the laser dot. She's going to be okay.