Saturday, June 24, 2006

Final preparations

I'm really damn tired. We're catching a bus to the train station (to take the train to Vancouver, to get on the plane to Calgary, to transfer to the plane to London) at 5:50 a.m. Ouch. So I'm not really expecting to feel coherent or well-rested anytime soon.

After a few last-minute near disasters, we're packed and ready to go. I'm afraid we both got a little uptight about packing light. In the picture below, you're looking at a shirt on a digital scale.

Yes, we're sad and pathetic. But in the end, we're headed to England for two weeks carrying only these two (relatively) small backpacks. I don't think we'll even have to check them.

(Hers and his, in case you're wondering. Oh, and the nylabone stays here.)

There may be a few blog updates from Jolly Olde England, so stay tuned.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Profound sigh of relief

I'm done grading. Finished. I've never doled out so many F's in living memory, but I can't really help it if my students elect to not turn in papers and don't come to the final exam. Twits. My only remaining official duty is to attend graduation tomorrow and hand out awards to my humanities students.

Now I finally feel like I can start looking forward to our trip. I've been printing confirmations and itineraries and directions and such. I still feel hideously unprepared because we're headed off early Saturday morning and the number of household tasks still undone is...well, menacing. But we'll manage, somehow, I'm sure. The great thing about deciding that we're only carrying small backpacks is that packing won't take long.

The Chloe Report

Ms. Chloe and I went to her first SplashDog appointment on Wednesday. She was delighted to get out of the house and go somewhere fun, and she took to the pool like a duck. (Well, a furry, splashy duck who fetches dog toys, but still very duck-like.) The delightful therapist, J Linn, is confident that the exercise will help Chloe fairly rapidly since she's so willing to swim. Hopefully she'll be back to trotting around the off-leash park soon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Busy = bad blogger

Bwak! Bwak!

It's been a whirlwind. I had to be at work early both Friday and Saturday. Saturday night we went to see Jolie Holland (with opener Sean Hayes, who was a delightful surprise) at the Triple Door. Our friends Sam and Eugenia were in town and went with us. (Sam owns a business that makes a very cool camera accessory, and Eugenia is the painter responsible for the wild and beautiful paintings that appear in some of my household pictures.)

Sunday, I frantically graded papers so I could submit grades for graduating seniors, and we prepared for more houseguests. Monday, we wandered around Seattle with our guests, I graded some more, and we cooked a lovely dinner.

Today, I'm giving another final exam, grading more papers, and going to see Amadou and Mariam at the Showbox.

Crafty stuff

I finished 8 oz of Crown Mountain corriedale pencil roving in the color "Silver Fox." It doesn't photograph well, but it's a subtle mix of gray, lavender, blue, and some other surprising colors. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it. It's about fingering weight, and (I think) about 700-800 yds (though I've been too lazy to figure it out exactly). I could make a simple shawl, or two pairs of socks, or something else entirely.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thank you Secret Pal!


I received a lovely and delightful package from my secret pal today. Everything was inside this very cool hatbox:

Inside, 2 skeins of sari silk yarn, a sheepie tape measure, a bar of very French and very lavender soap, and a pretty card.

I'm excited to try the silk yarn. I seem to remember a pattern for a mitered bag made out of it in a magazine (Interweave?) a couple of years ago, so that's a thought. Or maybe a fabulous scarf/stole with dropped stitches to show off the yarn?

Meanwhile, I just sent my pal some soaps from The Alchemic Dragon. Goodness, there's yummy stuff there. I was hard pressed not to order all the tea soaps for myself. Mmm, chai.

Knitting? What's that, again?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Operation Stalk and (not quite) All

The Hogweed saga continues

Jamie and Nancy came over today to deal with the hogweed. They made a plan,

they suited up*,

and they chopped that sucker up.

(Sadly, the action shots of the hogweed toppling were extremely blurry, possibly because I was running away at the time.)

Unfortunately, due to a failure in intelligence-gathering, we were unable to complete the mission. We ran into a hornet's nest. No, really. When Nancy tried to dig out the stump of the hogweed, hornets started buzzing up out of the ground. I'm going to deploy small amounts of herbicide to finish off the remainder of the evil invader.

*Note: Actual Tyvek suits! While this may look like a slightly excessive level of precaution, Jamie told me the real-life horror story of her housemate, a landscaper who inadvertantly got into a bunch of this stuff and now has wrist to shoulder blisters, so it may not be very excessive after all.

World Cup fever continues

What a good thing that we're really cheering for the Netherlands and not our native country. The US just stone cold sucked against the Czech Republic. I mean, there's no shame in losing, but there's lots of shame in wandering idly around the field like it's a kindergarten recess. I felt bitter. My gauge is probably off on the rows I knit during that match.

I'm still knitting the shawl. I'm going to add some lace repeats because it's not as big as I'd like. Sorry I don't have anything more exciting to report on the knitting front.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Attack of the Giant Hogweed


Last year I noticed a plant with huge leaves just past my yard, on what is probably city property but maintained by myself and my neighbors.

This year, the plant shot up a 7 or 8-foot stalk and proceeded to bloom. Nancy and I were chatting on the phone on Saturday when I mentioned it, and she freaked out. Recent biology graduate Jamiehad just told Nancy about this dangerous noxious weed that can cause horrible photosensitive blisters if you come in contact with the sap. Nancy felt compelled to race over and confirm the giant hogweed sighting. Sure enough, that there's a hogweed, and it must go. I've filed on online infestation report (hee!), but who knows if I'll hear anything.

One of my neighbors is really sad about my plans to smite the hogweed, arguing that it's pretty. Nancy, however, is a woman with a mission. I received the following email from her on Saturday night:

Dear Melinda,
Jamie also wants to see the Giant Hogweed and assist in its eradication. We feel very strongly that this enterprise needs a Republican euphemism attached to it, especially since Republican cheapness is likely to be the cause of reduced noxious weed infestation management budgets: Operation: Stalk And All is my preferred choice. Perhaps as soon as Tuesday. Meanwhile, I am plotting logistics and strategies. I feel that a trip to Archie McPhees for a paper hazmat suit might be in order. Any tips on where to borrow a welding mask? Should we expect Media Coverage?


Trent recommends that we go for Tyvek suits.

World Cup fever

We got out of bed at 6 a.m. this morning to watch the Netherlands' first match. Our Dutch friend P.J. sent Trent a spiff jersey to help us cheer more effectively. Here's a picture taken at halftime, with a clock to prove that we really watched it live.

Happily, they won. Chloe would have been heartbroken otherwise.

*No dogs were strangled nor humans bitten for this picture.


I'm still working on the shawl. Chloe also kindly consented to model it. You can't really see the lace in this picture, but it gives a good idea of the color.

I've also been spinning up a storm. I've just about got the corriedale pencil roving I bought at the Expo done. Pictures after it's been washed.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Handspun finds a purpose

Remember the yellow and red handspun in this entry? That was spun from the red and yellow roving balls in this entry? I gave it to the lovely, talented, and extremely speedy Karen, and she turned it into a Clapotis. Through the miracle of math, she has just that wee tiny ball of yarn left.

Now I feel strongly inspired to spin the rest of it...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Big ball o' nuthin'

I haven't been the most faithful blogger. It's nearing the end of the academic term, and I'm swamped. I've developed computer shoulder from grading electronic papers, and I've developed a super-bad attitude from discovering plagiarists.

In happier news, I attended a super-cool author event Tuesday night. My friend Nancy (blogless) volunteers with the tutoring organization that put it on, 826 Seattle. (They're also responsible for the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co.) I made Alton Brown's chocolate muffins (from I'm Just Here for More Food) to contribute to the one-night-volunteer-PTA.

I've finally tracked down a therapy option for Chloe's leg. We're going to be going to Splash Dog and doing warm water therapy to build up the muscles so she's less likely to develop arthritis or injure herself in the future. Trent's comment? "So, you're taking your dog hot tubbing?" Yup, pretty much.

In my precious moments of spare time, I've been knitting on the Wool Peddler's Shawl pretty exclusively. I'd take a picture, but lace on the needles looks like crap. I've finished the second repeat of the lace, and I think I'll really like it when it's done.

I'll try to be more entertaining (and have more pictures) soon.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Overnight in Aberdeen

Saturday night, Trent and I performed our annual volunteer function for the Seattle International Randonneurs; we manned the overnight stop on a 600 KM bike ride. As the SIR website explains, "Randonneuring is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling. This style of riding is non-competitive in nature, and self-sufficiency is paramount. Participation in randonneuring events is part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in France and Italy. Friendly camaraderie and perseverance are the hallmarks of randonneuring."

Perseverence is certainly necessary for this event, and the friendly camaraderie explains why Trent and I sign up every year to help out with the overnight stop. The riders have to check in at various points along the route within a certain time frame. Because the ride is so long, the club rents a block of motel rooms at about the 400 KM point, and we hang out there to sign time cards, assign rooms, and feed the riders cup o' noodles. It's strangely fun, partly because people get a little goofy when they've been riding for that long. It's a little fuzzy, but here's the scene in our headquarters room at about 3:00 a.m.

In previous years, there's been a quiet spell in the wee hours, so I was banking on getting some grading done. Alas, with 46 riders, we were always busy. Trent and I crashed at about 5:00 a.m. when a roomful of riders cleared out, leaving the rider organizer to finish sending everyone on their way.

On our way out of Aberdeen, we noted that the town has really spruced itself up in the last couple of years. It doesn't have quite the patina of despair and poverty it had when we first visited four years ago. The people are all incredibly nice, too. The scenic overlook, however, still looks over the timber mill. It's a use of the word "scenic" that I'm not familiar with.

Meanwhile, in the knitting kingdom, I've been working on the Wool Peddler's Shawl. I'm surprised at how fast it's going. I also finished Trent's rainbow socks. Look, Mom, they really do fit!

Yarn: WIldefoote handpaints "Rock n' Roll" + Regia for toes (I ran out of Wildefoote).

Blogger ate my post

I wrote a very nice post with pictures and hyperlinks and everything. Then Blogger ate it. I'll try again later tonight, when I'm back at home. Curses.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Exciting news

The divine Vickie's latest book has started appearing in book stores and knitting shops, despite the fact that the release date is still about 3 weeks off. It's a fun and fabulous book, designed like a high school yearbook and full of cute and surprising patterns. I'd like it in any case, but...

I have a pattern in there!

I'm responsible for the goth offering, the Bat Shawl. I can't begin to explain what a kick it was to see my name and my pattern in print.


We did in fact make it to the arboretum on Monday. I'm ashamed to say that I've lived in Seattle for 6 years, and this was my first trip to the Arboretum (and Saturday was my first exploration of Discovery Park). It's a lovely place to wander around and admire the plants.

Meanwhile, Trent and I are busy planning our trip to England and our ramble in Yorkshire. We've booked B&Bs in both London and York (yikes! the exchange rate is killing me!). We had been planning on walking the Dales Way from Ilkley to the Lake District, but we found a British Footpath Guide by reasonably local author Richard Hayward for the Three Dales Way, which includes more villages and therefore more pubs. It's looking like a better choice since it doesn't include anything like 17 mi. walking days without services.