No Place to Return

A couple of weeks ago, the sale on my Dad's house closed. It went to a new family, and I know their names, but I don't know anything else about them. And that part, I'm largely okay with.

Dad's house is where I lived from the time I was a baby, until I was 19, and then I took brief in-and-outs until I was 25 and finally got myself (more or less) established in the adult world. Fast forward to 32 and I returned again--this time to help Dad out, instead of him helping me out.

That didn't last, though (due to geographical distance from our jobs/friends, not Dad), and within the year we'd purchased the Hen & Thistle and moved there, bringing Dad along. A year later--almost to the day we moved here--the old house was fixed up (the real estate photos were unrecognizable!), on the market, and sold.

And that's good, but also strange.Collapse )

Originally posted at Mixed Media.

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I'll keep trying....

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Camp NaNoWriMo

So... is anyone else participating this round? It seems to be a smaller version of the November NaNo, with the added benefit that you can also set your own word count goal.

I set myself up with a "modest" 30,000 word goal. I might change it. Really, my goal is to get myself in the habit of thinking about/taking action on this story I've been poking at on and off for months on a regular basis (in theory, daily, but probably not in practice). I'm not going to worry about much more beyond that, because at this stage in my Second Life as a Writer, that's all I'm really asking of myself.

I can be found under my usual moniker of Shadawyn, although I'm not sure if you can "follow" people outside of your cabin on this version.
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Salvage Jobs

Last weekend, M and I went into the backyard of an abandoned house to its dilapidated garden. The garden had not survived the winter intact--snowfalls and windstorms beat it down--but the trellises were still in one piece, and the bird netting usable. Two blueberry bushes sat underneath, waiting to come alive again in spring, and a grape plant held on to a trellis for dear life.


We took it all--the trellis, the bird netting, and while we didn't take the grape or blueberries, we know we'll be back. We even took the little carrots and Swiss chard that had persevered through a rough winter and months of neglect.


Then we went up to the deck, and proceeded to ready the potted plants--a fig tree, two raspberries, herbs, and strawberries, all abandoned for the winter--for our new house. They all went into the truck (including all the soil from those pots), and we left.

.Don't call the police yet....Collapse ) This entry was originally posted at DreamWidth with comment count unavailable comments.

Spins of a Recent Nature

It's a funny thing, but when you decide to go do something "full time" it feels like you don't do it full time at all. I've commented to M multiple times this month that I seem to spin less now than when I did before. Objectively, though, I spin about as much, but I dye (and other shop business) a lot more, read more books, socialize a lot more, garden at all, and I keep the house half a level cleaner than I used to--that is, I'm doing plenty, it's just distributed differently. Still, I've been making an effort to get in spinning as a daily activity again, even if it's only for a little while (currently measured in Doctor Who episodes). Knitting, on the other hand.. well, the sock still languishes.

But anyway! These are my recent lovelies to show off. The first is The Misty Mountains on BFL, a past selection from my Unexpected Journey Yarn & Fiber Collection.


And the second is the result of my first batts from my not-a-torture device. I love it. Blended merino, mohair locks, cashmere, and silk noil. I've been integrating batt materials into my daily dyeing lately, so I'll have a larger library to play with soon. This will almost certainly be my next knit, assuming I ever finish the Socks of Doom. I recently read Hand Spun by Lexi Boeger, which (among other things) had tips on how to feed the drum carder that I think will be helpful when I go at my next round with the crank.


But first, I have a big lot of superwash merino on the wheel to finish....

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Wait for Spring


It's almost February, and in my "zone," that means some of our early, frost-tolerant plans will be ready to go out soon. Delicious kale, chard, lettuce, broccoli--really, I can't wait!

But wait I must. The garden area isn't ready yet, and it's not quite February. But in anticipation, the first round of plants are spending the daylight hours on our patio, hardening up for the outside world.


Inside, this snow pea (which despite its name, needs to go out ofter the frost) grows like mad. It's one of my youngest plants, but it's well over a foot tall. The baby broccoli beneath it was planted weeks before it.


I planted a flat of frost-tolerant plants on Sunday (baby bok choy, mesclun mix, chard, and lettuce which I had poor results from the first round). Within 3 days, dozens of tiny plants have emerged.


Peat pellet-grown beets await anxiously. I'm not sure how well they'll do in transplant, but at least I'll have some live markers for the seeds that will go down the same day they go outside.


My window is full of green, and it makes me happy.

(Cross Posted from Mixed Media.)

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Gone Batty (Again)


This is not a torture device.


It's a device of enablement.

Since I got hand carders last year and played with making batts, I wanted a drum carder (and two years ago, M saw a drum carder at a Ren Faire we went to, and wanted me to get one). I wasn't quite planning on getting one now, but a good deal cropped up on this art batt carder (handles fiber chunkier and with more texture than a standard carder), and these things aren't cheap, so I snagged it.

Then I made a huge mess dyeing up bits and bobs to blend. Batts are great in particular for using blends of lots of fibers, and making an expensive fiber, like cashmere, go farther. Also, they're just plain fun.


Then I carded that huge mess into another big mess. These batt blends included merino, mohair locks, silk noil, and cashmere down.


I've been spinning off those messes and the end result so far is very textured, very "arty" and very pretty. There will be pictures. Oh yes, there will be.

(First posted at Mixed Media.)
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Checking In


Lately, it's been cold outside. At least, cold for my neck of the woods, in which most years tend toward 40-50F from September to July with the occasional dip just barely into freezing that doesn't last long. This dunking into the 20s into the morning and night, regular frost, and random snow flurries for weeks and weeks? Not so much my thing. Yes, yes, stop laughing.

Really, it wouldn't be so bad under past circumstances of staying in a nice climate controlled office all day. But since I left that world to pursue fiber arts, instead I'm plunging my hands into (ice) cold water in our chilly half-basement with a window or two open for ventilation while I dye up my wool. And any other time of the year, or at least when the weather is remains cheerfully above 40F, that's a fabulous way to spend my morning and I feel a little like a jerk for complaining at all about it.

So I thought about it today, and realized that I'm not under obligation to do my dyeing in the morning, so now I'm going to try doing it in the afternoons when it's "warmed up" a bit. Or at least a little later in the morning.

Of course, I did that this today, and so by the time noon rolled around and I considered what I'd accomplished, I felt like the biggest slacker that ever slacked (even though I did some of my usually-afternoon activities in the morning while I waited in hopes it would get above 32F. It didn't). This "setting my own schedule" thing will take some getting used to.

On the other hand, my seedlings (who have grown in both size and quantity since you last saw them) are thriving happily in the warm sunshine that flows through the (upstairs) window.


I'm falling into something vaguely like a routine now-a-days--or at least I was until I decided to switch up my dyeing schedule today. I'm still reading a fair number of books, have started playing in a fair number of RPG and other games with friends, and am quite prolific in non-dyeing craftiness like spinning and cross-stitch.


I haven't been so much into the knitting lately. I've been working on a pair of knee-high socks for about forever (5 weeks) and I've vowed I will not start another knitting project until they are done. Which apparently means I'm not knitting at all.

I believe this afternoon, I'm going to start another round of seeds, because even though I know that the average last frost is not until April, I'm determined to grow things right now, and consider finishing that sock.

(Mirrored from Mixed Media.)
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Or, "What I'm Obsessed With Right Now"

Every year, I propose to read X, Y, or Z amount of books, and every year, I fail that. This year, I decided not to worry about it. I’m recording all of the books I’ve read in a spreadsheet, but I’m not aiming for any particular goal, or stressing about whether or not an audiobook, reread, or graphic novel counts, or if it counts as read if I thumbed past a section that didn’t apply to me. In the end, I’m just reading. And it’s glorious.

Here’s the list so far:
Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson: A short little book that challenges many well established business practices as being more about habit than about effectiveness, and encourages business owners to think outside of that box. I don’t agree with everything they say (like I ever do)--but I do recommend the book to small business owners and managers of maybe not-so-small business.

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett: It’s Terry Pratchett! Need I say more? Okay, then, I will. This is the first Vimes/Nightwatch novel, and it poked fun at the “returned king” trope among many others. I will be reading more Sam Vimes books in the future.

Chick Days by Jenna Woginrich: A half-information, half-photo book about getting day old chicks and raising them into laying hens. I found it a very cute informational introduction to the adventure we’ll be getting ourselves into in a few months.

Small-Plot High Yield Gardening by Sam Gilbertie and Larry Sheeham: I got this one from the library, but I’ll be getting a copy of own very soon. A great reference book on organic gardening for your backyard. We’re using his plan for the 400 square foot “starter” garden as a basis for the vegetable patch we are working this year, and the author also discusses helpful things like companion planting (pairing bug-deterring plant around one another) that I’ll be experimenting with.

The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan: An all-purpose introduction to backyard homesteading, from growing vegetables and fruits and grains to chickens to beekeeping to cows and sheep and goats to foraging wild plants. I admit I thumbed past the sections on meat-raising since I live in a vegetarian household, but I found all the information to be a valuable introduction to the concept.

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman: A fun little alternative timeline graphic novel starring many of the key people in the Marvel universe. It had the right amount mind-bending wackiness and witty one-liners that I expect and appreciate from Neil Gaiman.

Made From Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich: By the same author of Chick Days, a mostly thoughtful and humorous memoir and partly instructional about living the “handmade” life from her failures to her successes along the way. Everything from growing your own food and livestock to making your own clothes. One of the things I like about her attitude is that while she’s pretty hardcore about how she lives her “handmade” lifestyle, she knows other people aren’t the same--whether it’s a window garden and knitting your own scarves or getting a farm and going off the grid, all she advocates is adding a bit of home-made to your lifestyle.

You can pretty much tell where my mind is right now based on what I’ve been reading. I’m also slowly plodding my way through
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, but the adventures of Gentlemanly English Magicians often takes backseat to the newest chicken-raising book that is ready for pick-up at my local library.
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Planting the Seed

So I have a problem. Okay, I have a lot of them, but this is one of them:

Give me a little knowledge about something (especially if it’s low risk), and oftentimes I’ll jump right in doing it the way that makes sense to me and then start in the research of the more experienced if the interest sticks. Sometimes, even after the research, I keep doing it my way, not because it’s better, but because I enjoy the process more (and it’ll get similar results).

For example, my garden. It worked all right last year in our test plot at my Dad’s house--not everything turned out, but enough did for us to enjoy the fruits (well, mostly vegetables) of our labors. So while the gardening book suggests to plant some seeds straight into the garden, I’m starting them early in my mini-greenhouse.

(The instructions say to keep them in a warm place out of direct sunlight until they sprout, so they live in my office which is all of these.)

This is not because I think I know better than an experienced gardener. It’s because find my greenhouse a lot of fun, and it gives me something to take the edge off of wanting to plant while the raised beds are set up and we wait for the frost to go away. I know, it’s only January--I’ve got two or three more months ahead of me. If the little guys are doing well, and the weather is still frightful, I’ll transfer them into bigger peat pots until we're ready to put them outside.

(But only if this is feasible. For example, carrots really do need to be planted in the yard due to their root structure and I’m not going to mess with that. Last year, I found spinach seemed to germinate better in the garden than in my greenhouse, so the majority will probably be planted that way. On the other hand....)

Swiss chard and kale are pretty frost tolerant (and some gardeners even suggesting letting them get hit by frost because it improves the taste), so those are already getting started in the greenhouse. If the little guys are doing well, and the weather is still too frightful, though, I’ll transfer them into bigger peat pots. When those seedlings go out, I’ll probably seed some directly into the ground, too. Swiss chard was a staple for us last summer, so I want a nice continuous crop to harvest from, and we’ve become very fond of kale this winter (although it has been from the grocery store) so I want a fair bit of that, too. M and I are big fans of leafy greens. We can’t live on them alone, but we sure like a lot of them in our life.

And truthfully, the seed packs are way more seed than I can plant in my garden (some of the seed packs are from last year’s planting season). So even if they don’t do well in the greenhouse, I still have plenty to plant directly outside and to recoup from my impatience this winter. I've had some success so far, though--here are the ones that have already sprouted from my planting on 1/4 and ready for the "sunny window."

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