family & personal

rosebushes by calvary

I love backlit leaves.  And I like the way the thorns glow in this, too.  (This was taken a few blocks from my house, last Sunday.)

I’m still sick.  Not horribly sick, as I was on Monday, but sick enough that walking to work feels like a lot of work in and of itself, and I gave up on actually doing work after about twenty minutes yesterday.  I hate this.  I’m getting bored with sleeping so much, but I haven’t been able to do any of the things I want to do instead, from labwork to fiber night to cooking.  I haven’t even been knitting much, just sleeping and reading (rereading, really) and listening to familiar audiobooks.

I’m feeling better-ish today, so maybe I’ll actually manage to do something useful.  (First useful thing to do: stop whining about being sick.)

I hope everyone else has been having a better week than mine.

My grandmother died today.  The funeral is on Sunday. 

She got to spend her last month in my parents’ house, in relative comfort, which is something.

There are too many different words competing right now, so I’m not going to say anything else (here) until they’ve settled down a bit.

As I said, I spent last week (Tuesday through early this morning) visiting my parents at their home in Burlington, VT.  Most of the week went more or less as planned–lounging around, running errands with my mom, picking raspberries and grapes and such, jamming (and chutneying) with my dad, generally hanging out with my parents and grandmother…  And then, on Saturday morning, we wound up taking my grandmother to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing.  As I understand it, she’s doing okay, considering, and should be out of the hospital soon (probably with some sort of home hospice arrangement), but that’s not exactly going to stop me from worrying.

I did still go to the Vermont Sheep & Wool for an hour or so–my mom chased my dad and me out of the hospital for a while–and I was very glad to run into a bunch of friends, even if I wasn’t exactly in the best of moods for socializing.  (I know I was trying to act more chipper than I felt, but if I seemed upset or unfriendly, or just spacey, well, now you know why.)

This is the fiber I bought while I was there:


One ounce (more or less) each of Icelandic lamb/angora bunny, Icelandic lamb, and Icelandic lamb/tussah, all from Frelsi Farm.  I’m finding the greys to be soothing (not to mention the soothing properties of all that softness), and I think these’ll go nicely with the grey shetland that I bought last spring.  (I also picked up a couple of colors of dye, but the other yarns & fibers that really caught my eye were either way out of my price range or small enough lots that I wasn’t sure they’d be useful.)

*Sigh*.  Well, I’m home again now, which means I’m back with a snuggly cat (my parents’ cat is not unfriendly, but she doesn’t like contact beyond head-scritching), but also means I don’t have live-in help assembling dinner.  (Mel will only eat dry cat food, which I’m not interested in sharing.)  Time to go work on some real food.

Colorado was awesome, especially getting to meet Anne and Marisa.  I had a great time, and took about 300 pictures.  (I’m sure many of them will eventually find their way here.)

I had been looking forward to a weekend of catching up on housework and playing with Mel, but it turns out that I’ll be going to Lynchburg.  My grandfather died while I was away, and there’s a memorial service on Sunday.  This isn’t surprising–he’d been sick for a while, and had been switched to only palliative care about six weeks ago–so while I’m sad, I’m not devastated. 

Anyway, I’ve got a lot of stuff to do today, so I’ll stop trying to come up with a creative way to end this post.

Although lots of things about my life are incredibly good (a fact of which I have been reminding myself a lot), there are a few major aspects that are not making me happy at all.  I don’t want to get into the details here, but I thought I should mention that things are not great rather than just pretending that life is perfect. 

I have been soothing myself with knitting on the peacock feather shawl (still in chart 3, though) and spinning, so there should be picture-worthy fiber stuff soon. 


Happy Chanukah, or whatever other winter holidays you might celebrate.  I, being ever prepared and strict in my observances (yes, that was sarcasm), wound up using birthday candles in my menorah this year.  (They work, but I’m going to try to find candles designed for my menorah for next year–I burned my thumb while melting the bottom of the shamas so it’d stay in the candle cup.)  I also compressed my candle-lighting a bit, which is why you’re seeing all the candles lit before this evening; travel complicates things.   (Oh, and the funny extra light in the background?  That’s the streetlamp outside my window.)

I baked bread on Sunday, for the first time in months and months, maybe a year.  I was really excited about the prospect of a weekend day for just housework, and I went back and forth about whether I wanted to bake fancy bread, like challah, or just honey-whole wheat, and whether to make a braid or a rectangular loaf…  I had been planning to write something about process v. product, and how I’m much more a "process" person when it comes to bread than I am for knitting. 

And then I got a phone call saying that Star had died, completely out of the blue. 

I had met her for lunch the week before, something we’d had scheduled for weeks because we both tend to be extremely busy, and the end of our conversation had included the idea that it would be nice to bake bread together sometime. 

This is the kind of time when I wish I were better at writing and at explaining my emotions.  My analytical bent works better for science, and my non-biology vocabulary has been suffering these last few years…  I didn’t know Star really well, although I would say we were friends.  She was an amazing woman, and she will be missed.  There is more that I would like to say, if I but knew how to verbalize it.  So…go read some of her writings, call a friend you haven’t spoken to in months, and appreciate pirates or vampires or zombies or robots or (other) shiny gadgets or ballroom dancing however you may see fit.


I have been to New York five times since the beginning of this academic year. I’ve visited for my uncle’s wedding, for his funeral, for Thanksgiving, for a day of wandering around and meeting Cassie, and, yesterday, for the funeral of my uncle’s widow. I spent six hours on trains yesterday, with my dad (who was and is again in Philly for meetings), and never once pulled out my knitting. (We did do a couple of crosswords and a sudoku, though.) Hey, world? I know that people get old and die, and I can deal with that. But could I have at least six months to recover from this year so far before anything else scary happens to my family (or friends)?

So that this post won’t be entirely depressing, here’s a picture of a sign we found amusing, on the way from dinner to the train home.


My holiday trip to Virginia was not really anything like the super-relaxing vacation that I’d expected. It was stressful, and I’m at least as tired now as I was when I left last week, and it’s only the ridiculous number of fun things planned for this week that’s keeping me moving much at all. (And I’ve still managed to be either late or really late for stuff, and I’m starting to question the sanity of my planned trip to New York tomorrow. But if I don’t go tomorrow, how am I going to use the extra dollar on my metrocard??)

The trip to Virginia did include some funny bits, though. One example of the somewhat-inappropriate humor was the sign in the hospital that said “Skilled Care [Wing]”. That kinda struck me as implying that the people elsewhere don’t have/need skill. (My cousin, the occupational therapist, said something about how it’s a difference in how much the nurses do versus assistanty people, but I’m not really clear on that.)

And then we saw a very amusing sign on the way home, which I’ve reconstructed here:


And, aside from all of the weird bits from actually celebrating with other people, my Chanukah candles make me happy.


sorry about the low contrast, but check the background

Mel, who’s never seen either the menorah or candles on the floor before this week, is just curious about them. (Yeah, yeah, when I get my table cleared of clutter and blocking boards, I may switch to lighting candles on the table instead of on the floor.)

I’ve also been knitting some lately. The trivet got its foam base sewn on okay, and it went over well. I’m maybe 40% through the head on the baby bobbi bear (but I have yet to knit the legs), and the new Jaywalker has switched colors and the leg pattern is visible. And I survived a fiasco of plying my alpaca-silk (into mostly laceweight 2-ply) that required assistance from both my parents.


If all goes well, by the time you see this, I’ll be at my grandmother’s house, a few blocks from this railroad bridge, having travelled by Amtrak. (Not over that bridge, though.)

I’ll have limited internet access over the next several days, but I’ll be back to Philly, if not blogging, on Tuesday evening.

There must be effects on package shipments like the ones that make cars clump up on highways, ’cause I got three packages this afternoon.

First up: the final package from my Secret Pal, who turned out to be Emily of Knitting Chemist. Thanks, Emily; you were a great secret pal!


Not pictured is the actual catnip mouse, which was swiftly abducted by the kitten. I’m pleased to report, however, that he has not been unusually active. Yet. Also not really pictured is the fact that the green mohair has little splotches of brown, so it’ll probably work up to be sorta licheny. (This is a good thing, although I realize that not everyone would agree. I recall one time in college when a friend of mine asked how a particular outfit looked–I said something about how it reminded me of moss or lichen. She was not pleased, and immediately changed clothes.)

Next is a birthday present from my friend Emma:



In case you can’t read it, that says olallieberry jam–I’m excited to try it and see what olallieberries are like. I will also not be lacking for fun pens any time soon… The bumper sticker I stuck to my window at work (I have more of a window than that one, but it fit nicely there), since it seemed silly to have a bumper sticker in my apartment. (I should note that I don’t think Republicans are necessarily evil. I have even voted for at least one–Jim Jeffords, who’s now an independent. But I like the bumper sticker. Not all Republicans are New England-style ones, and some of those others do not seem to have the best interests of the whole country–or most of its people–in mind.) Also, the socks really are super soft, just like they claim to be.

And, third in the package lineup, the least exciting–my latest Knitpicks order:


That’s a big pile of yarn for the shadow-knit neuron scarf I’m planning for after I finish the current round of projects, both gifts and not, plus a whack of dpns. I should have a much easier time knitting bear limbs with my nice, new dpns than with either two circs or three mismatched dpns…and easier means faster, which is all to the good right now.

I’ve read a lot of posts this week about Thanksgiving, both of the “why I don’t like the holidays” variety and the “hurrah, holidays!” type. I’ve always liked Thanksgiving, but there’s a good bit of that that’s liking going to New York. Up through high school, we’d always spend the whole week (my parents still do, actually), and it was a chance to go to museums and the Strand and see my mom’s side of the family. Over the last few years, though, my attitude toward family Thanksgiving has changed a bit. I live close enough that I get to New York a lot more often, plus I can’t take the week off the way I used to. The one year I stayed at Oberlin for Thanksgiving was a lot of fun, and it was really relaxing to not have to travel.

All things considered, though, my Thanksgiving was quite nice. I got to spend Wednesday evening with friends, which made me much happier to head up to New York on Thursday. It might’ve been nicer if I’d gotten more than four hours of sleep (why is it that I keep going to New York while extremely sleep-deprived?), but I had a nice nap on the train.

I was then drafted into helping chop vegetables and such for what wound up being the smallest Thanksgiving dinner I can remember: just me, my parents, my grandmother, and Carrol, as Andrea and Victor (and their one-year-old) got stuck in traffic in Maryland. Dinner turned out quite well, with the turkey cooked perfectly, good stuffing, perfect roasted roots (carrots, purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, a parsnip, and a portobello mushroom for good measure), tatsoi sauteed with garlic, and the traditional Junior’s cheesecake for dessert. (I ignore the candied yams (ick!) and broccoli cooked dead for my grandmother.) And Carrol liked the felted bowl.

The other exciting thing about the train ride was this:

Dscn3775jaywalker cuff the first

I started my pair of Jaywalkers. I’ve decided to swap yarns for the heels and toes, now that I’m a few rows into the patterning and I haven’t switched yet.

Just to check, though–it’s normal for wooden size 1 dpns to warp a bit, right? And, you know, before they’ve been used for more than the cuff of one sock? That is, should I be worried that mine all look at least a smidgen wavy? They’re lovely to knit with, though. (Also, I asked my dad to see if he could identify the wood, and he thought it might be teak.)

Back to the theme of Thanksgiving, though. I’ve been thinking that, on top of all of the basic health and family and friends things, I’m thankful for the very reason I’ve been too busy to enjoy Thanksgiving as thoroughly as I have in the past. I’m glad to be in grad school, doing work I love, and to be alive in a time and place when I can do so. And now I’m going to do some more work.

« Previous PageNext Page »