February 2008


Yes, there’re snowdrops blooming (with no snow around them), and the daffodil leaves are several inches high, and the tulips are even starting to come up, but my favorite February flower activity is witch-hazel.  I’m so glad there’s still a witch-hazel bush on my route to and from the library…


I was introduced to Discworld while in college. My friends had recommended Good Omens, which I’d read and liked, and Equal Rites was on the syllabus for the only literature class I took (Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy, which was student-taught). Then, while I was in London to visit my dad while he was working in Scotland, I found (and bought) a copy of Witches Abroad.

Since then, I’ve read nearly everything Discworld, multiple times.  But the reason I picked Discworld for the ABC-Along is that I listened to Discworld audiobooks (especially the Tiffany Aching books) a lot last fall–when I was upset enough that being alone with my thoughts was not a good situation, I’d put on a Discworld audiobook as a focus for my last thoughts before falling asleep.  I still like them, and they’re also great to keep me entertained while I do the tedious bits of science, but they’ve meant more to me than that.  (I should also note that, while I enjoy audiobooks, they simply don’t compare to books on paper, and I have trouble listening to books I haven’t read.)

(Those of you on Ravelry might be interested in the Ankh-Morpork Knitters’ Guild.  And here’s a link to the ABC-Along group, until I manage to get the button up somewhere.)


Having learned from my experience with Foliage (and really wanting a sweater before it becomes spring), I’ve resumed work on Salt Peanuts.  As of the end of November, the last time I’d knit on SP, I was a few rows past the lace.  I clearly have a lot more knitting to do, but it’s nice to see progress.

I think Mel is mostly interested in the dangling yarn, here, and possibly the dangling camera cover (just before this photo was taken).  I’m impressed that the yarn is apparently so fascinating that he’s willing to sit on the blocking pins I used to keep the needle from curling and bending the sweater-back in half.  They’re the rounded-top double-pin kind, but they’re still metal…


This is another sunset from the lab next door. (It was beautiful–it turned lilac and then mauve before going all dark, but I couldn’t keep taking off my gloves and pulling out my camera.)  I love the views we get from here.

(In case you were worrying about my vision: I was hiding my eyes behind the windowframe, which is just to the right of the edge of the photo.  There are some advantages to the point-and-shoot digital camera as compared with the manual film SLR.)

I don’t think I’ve ever been as focussed on finishing things as I have been lately, with my WIPs staring at me from the top of my project page. Granted, the things I’ve finished lately have all been small, and some of them have had associated deadlines, but I’m actually finishing them rather than either getting distracted by new projects or letting them sit around while I work on big projects.

This comes up because I stayed up late last night to knit the last few rows on the green lace headband.


It’s too wide to tie, and I don’t like the idea of a button or pin where it’ll just get tangled in my hair, so I’ve sewn the ends together. For now, at least, the seam’s only about 2/3 of the width of the thing, so my hair doesn’t get pushed up in the back, but I’ve left the ends so I can decide what to do after wearing it a couple of times.


Oh, no!  I thought I’d spun up all of the orange wool-mohair, but I just found more…  (Yes, this’ll be good when it’s done, but I don’t really want to spin it right now.)

Aw, heck, maybe I should just go ahead and say D is for Dessert.

cocoa fudge cookies with cranberries


I’ve been doing a decent bit of cooking* lately, at least over the weekend, but it’d been quite a while since I’d done any baking. Tonight, therefore, I decided it was time for some chocolate cookies. In “flipping” through my cookie recipe collection (which is mostly on my laptop), I found this recipe, which I’d found at BakingBites. This may be my new favorite cookie recipe, even though it does use butter–I really only use butter in baking, so I keep it in the freezer, and I’m often too lazy to thaw it. These cookies are like my favorite brownies: chewy-soft without quite being gooey, and really chocolatey. I’m also pleased that they don’t use egg, which means I don’t have to worry too much about how thoroughly cooked they get.

Chocolate-cranberry cookies

1 cup flour (I used half whole wheat and half white, as is my wont)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/16 tsp salt
7 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter
1 c sugar
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350º. Melt the butter in a 2-qt glass bowl in the microwave and then mix in the sugar and the other wet ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and then add them to the wet ingredients. Bake approximately 10 minutes on a waxed-paper-lined sheet. I made pretty large cookies, so I’ll probably end up with about 18 (there’s some unbaked dough in the fridge); the recipe suggested using tablespoonfuls** and says you should get about two dozen.

*The latest cookery has been posted over at Farm to Philly, for the February Tofu Challenge.

**I know it’s technically supposed to be ‘tablespoonsful’, but I’ve always preferred pluralizing the ‘-ful’ when I’m reusing the spoon or hand or whatever.

I finished my plying!


That’s 200 yards of icelandic lamb/angora (~1 oz, mostly laceweight) from Frelsi Farm, purchased last September at the VT S&W and 130 yards of wool/mohair (maybe 1.5-2 oz 1 oz, approximately fingering weight) from Three Waters Farm, ordered in the fall of 2005 after I spun the fiber I’d bought at MDSW.

This means I’ve completed one entire goal and maybe a fifth of one of the other goals from last month’s priorities post. Sure, they’re two of the easier ones, but I am pleased.


Gah!  Two days later, I have discovered more of the orange wool/mohair!  I’m not done…

• Cats.

thud sleeping

Thunder was the cat I grew up with. We got her as “my” cat when I was ten, and she stayed “mine” until December of 2004, when she died of a heart problem. (I named her Thunder because she purred extremely loudly.)



Mel you’ve probably seen before, if you’ve been reading long at all. (And there are lots more pictures under ‘small and fuzzy’ if you want to look.) He came home with me in the spring of 2005, and grudgingly puts up with the amount of time I spend away from home because I do, eventually, come back. I often return to find him waiting by the door, asking me why I left him alone for so long.

I’m very much a cat person rather than a dog person or a no-pet person. (…As I sit on my couch, with Mel leaning against me.)

• Camera.



Although I have never seriously studied photography and have only spent a little bit of time in darkrooms, I am very fond of photography, especially when I’m using my “real” camera. My parents gave me this Vivitar about ten years ago; they’d bought it (used) about twenty or thirty years before that. I love this camera. Point-and-shoot is all very well for action snapshots, but I’m something of a control freak at times.

Despite my fondness for this old camera, though, I’m feeling like it might be worth shifting over to all-digital. (I am impatient! And film is expensive!) I’ve heard good things about the Nikon D40 and the Canon XTi. Any other recommendations, or suggestions about which of those might be better? Alas, I fear there’s no chance my Vivitar screw-on lenses will work with either…



I love odd signs.  Although typos in other circumstances usually bug me, they’re often somehow more funny than irritating when they’re on signs.


I’m working on learning to knit Continental, as of last week.  I can deal with the knit stitch, and I think I’ve figured out Norwegian purling.  I’m still slow (no, really?  after only half an hour of total knitting time?), and my tension is still off, but the one thing that’s really troubling me is exactly how to work a psso.  It’s probably silly, but the project I’m practicing with is the green lace headband, which is full of skp and s1k2togpsso.  Also, I know I’ve heard a bunch of people say that they think Continental knitting is particularly appropriate for left-handed people, but I’m feeling like it involves a lot more right-hand coordination than English knitting.  Ah, well, maybe I’ll stop feeling that way once I get the hang of it.

If I only actually work on two knitting projects, and they’re both simple lace, I can finish a hat in less than two weeks. Just astonishing. [/sarcasm]


When I finished my mom’s green Fetchings, I had an extra skein of the green yarn that I thought would make a nice hat to wear in the chilly microscope room. I wasn’t sure I had quite enough yarn, even for a lacy hat, so I figured I’d pick a top-down pattern…and Foliage came to mind pretty quickly.

As you can see, I did run out of green yarn, so I added a bit of the russet yarn from the Dashings I knit for my dad.

Were I to knit this hat again, I’d probably actually knit the ribbing on smaller needles, as suggested in the pattern, but I think this will work well for my purposes, even if it doesn’t look neat.

Basic specs: Foliage, on 5mm needles, with two colors of my handdyed Elann Peruvian Highland Wool. More details on Ravelry.

For the second evening in a row, I came home out of sorts and hungry. (Today’s complaints: the snow turned into freezing rain, the freezing rain meant that I opted to take the shuttle instead of walking, and the fact that no one wanted to walk home meant that we waited half an hour for the shuttle instead of ten minutes.)

And then, as with yesterday, I got home to find some mail that cheered me up.



My friend H. had a Valentine-making party a couple of Saturdays ago, and she sent me this.  The color’s off in these pictures–it’s pink with white and burgundy.

I really like the quotation she picked.

what made my day

It hadn’t been a bad day over all, but I was tired and hungry and generally out of sorts when I got home this evening, and then I found this letter from E. As she noted, it’s on some of the cutest stationery ever. (I love the ring of fire that the lion’s jumping through! And the monkey!)


(One of the reasons I haven’t been knitting faster is that I’ve been working late.  There are really nice views from the lunchroom, though.)

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