Monday, March 31, 2014

Rambling post about nothing.

I have decided to make an effort to post in here daily. Yes, I know, I have mentioned this before. After about a week or so, something comes up and it falls flat. I'm making another push to accomplish this goal, however. I feel like what I have to say is useless blather right now.

Currently, I have started reading the Gunslinger from Stephen King. I attempted reading the Dark Tower series years ago. I got completely repulsed by his description of a bear and put the book down not even a full chapter into it. I don't even remember which book it was. I have decided to try reading it again. I'm taking an approach that I can learn from his books why he is so successful and then apply that knowledge to my own writing efforts.

I remember somebody saying to me ages ago that an author who stops reading the market they write for is a fool. Since I have been writing fantasy and horror (because, really, these fantasy novels have turned into really grim stories that I can't avoid calling horror), I figured that I would sit down and read King's the Dark Tower series. He's a master of writing horror. I enjoyed Eyes of the Dragon (and sincerely wish that he would write a sequel so we find out what happened after Flagg ran off, but I guess that's where the Stand comes into play).

I am flailing about a bit with my writing at the moment. I feel like what I have been producing is garbage. I tell myself to just put it all down on paper and then go back to edit it later. It has been a struggle, however, getting the work down on paper. Having my computer die didn't help things much on that matter either. I have a stack of paper that is the beginnings of another Filianic work sitting on the desk. I don't know if I want to write out the rest of it long hand or convert what I have done into type.

Indecisiveness is my super power. Just ask Beloved what happens when you put a restaurant menu in front of me.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Techno-necromancy, crochet, and the saga of no computer.

A little over a week ago, my computer died. Apparently the motherboard decided to expire in a most grievous fashion and it seriously looked like there were other problems as well. My Beloved husband did some sort of computer techno-necromancy. A few new parts and approximately a week's worth of work later, I not only have a functioning computer now but all of my writing and the photos of the kids were saved. It was an enormous relief. I honestly think I would have cried if my five novels had vanished into the aether.

I did a prodigious amount of crochet over the last several days. I completed three shawls and I have approximately an eighth of this large blanket that I am crocheting for Moo left. I expect that I'll finish the blanket this week. I also have fashioned myself a new spindle. It is a turkish style spindle made from a bit of doweling, a few rubber bands, and wooden barbecue skewers. It is shockingly light.

I have started using it to spin some of the silk that my mother in law gave me a little while back. I honestly have no idea how many yards I have spun on this wee little thing. I am finding it absolutely delightful to use, though the fact that it is so light does make it a bit challenging to get it to continue spinning long enough for me to draft out the fiber. I expect that this minor problem will improve as my ball of thread gets larger. The thread that is resulting from this spindle is literally the weight of sewing thread.

I am clearly going to have to ply this in order to use it for knitting with. I am more then confident that I will accomplish my goal of spinning up thread I can use for embroidery. As I figure out how to become more consistent with the silk thread, I expect that I will manage to spin up stuff that is the weight that I want it to be for embroidery. I am terribly excited by this because this means that I am a step closer to my goal of making a 10th century dress entirely from hand (spinning the fiber, weaving the fabric, sewing and embellishing it).

I have started knitting a shawl for my Finger Lakes shawl collection. Unlike the other shawls, this one is going to be knit in modular pieces that are then stitched together. I am stealing the idea of this shawl I saw a while back. It was a triangular shawl made up of little tiny squares (or was it diamonds, I don't remember exactly now) that were stitched together. I have a book of knitting stitches. I have decided that I am going to knit one six inch square (approximately) for each stitch sample in the book.

A six inch square is exactly 20 stitches wide and 25 rows long with the yarn and needles that I am using. While my cone of yarn is not exactly small enough to go into my purse, the project will not require an enormous bag to be carried places with me. Working on this huge crochet blanket, I have decided that I needed a project that worked up faster and was easier to carry around.

Another thing that fills that need is the preemie baby hats that I have been crocheting for the last week. When I was at the spinning guild meeting this month, the call was put out by one of the ladies who works at the Golisano Children's hospital up in Rochester for hats. Apparently they have a shortage of hats for the preemies. In the last of the yarn that was donated to me for my blanket project last year, I found a ball of baby yarn. I have been using that and a terribly simple crochet pattern to make these tiny hats.

I had an eerie moment yesterday. I crochet my seventh hat and a chill went down my spine. I made the exact number of hats that I had for the children that I lost in early pregnancy. I was naming them as I worked on the hats. As such there is a hat for each child that I would have had before I had the boys.

  • Alexander  (1995)
  • Jane (1999)
  • Sarah (2001)
  • Elizabeth (2001)
  • William (2002)
  • Gregory (2003)
  • Daniel (2004)
My memory insists that there are two more but I honestly am not sure because the time period that my brain insists this happened is a blur due to my psychological difficulties. It feels bad to say that, like I should remember each and every pregnancy that happened. Never mind the fact that with most of them, I didn't realize I was until the miscarriage happened. (It was during the first trimester. I would have thought it was merely a late period except for the fact that there were clots of blood and a tiny pink form approximately the size of a pencil eraser each time. The one that happened in 2001, there were two.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Snowmageddon 2014!!!1!

Today was a snow day. Oh boy was it a snow day!

The kids were bouncing off the walls crazy. They settled down for a little while in the afternoon. It was basically long enough for me to have a cup of tea to settle my nerves and then they were back at it. I confess, I kinda hope it's still pretty bad tomorrow this way hubby can be home with me and stuff.

Partly because I feel it would be fantastic to have reinforcements. Partly because I want him to have a day to relax. And partly because I just want to hang out with him. So... I guess I'm rooting for Skadi to lay a big fat one on us. C'mon, give us a big jotun sized kiss! <3 br="">

Friday, March 07, 2014

I seriously didn't expect this.

My little book has not only gotten a glowing review. (And I have had the splendid opportunity to speak directly with the person who did the review. They were every bit as charming as their writing declared them to be!) Not only have people been talking about it and recommending it to others as a useful thing.

No, I was utterly gobsmacked and amazed when I discovered (quite by accident) that it was being listed as "Additional Reading" on a wikipedia entry that is being generated right now for Filianism. I am speechless with shock and delight.

It was my intent that my little book prove helpful and serve to make the lives of the readers a little more peaceful. This goes so far beyond what I anticipated.


Image from Here
I was having a good afternoon, then the boys started fighting and my right side started to hurt. It had been feeling a bit achey for a few days now and I figured that I had picked something up the wrong way. Now, I feel like someone has landed a solid punch in the area of my right ovary. I deduce that I had a minor ovarian cyst that just popped.

I am on one hand thankful that it popped now when it was fairly small. Having lived through having an ovarian cyst the size of a small orange, I really don't care to repeat the experience. At the same time, however, I don't enjoy feeling like I have been randomly punched in the side. Some days, I think I am going to reincarnate as a male to avoid the experience and then I realize that with how my luck goes on those days, I'd probably come back as a male seahorse.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

March Beer Tasting: Great Lakes Brewery's Conway's Irish Ale

I had two different beers but only one of them is getting mention. The reason why is because I only had a mouthful of the Shocktop Chocolate Wheat. It just hit me entirely the wrong way and I poured the rest down the drain. Some may say it was a waste of good beer and such but, honestly, I can't say I mourned the loss all that much.

Now, Conway's Irish Ale was an entirely different story. I was enjoying it by itself but I think it is another one that would go with a nice hearty meal. It has a lovely color, as you can see in that pic to the right. I found the flavor was improved by chilling it.

All in all, it was a delightful bit of alcohol. It had a refreshing hit on the palate and the hops didn't overpower the other flavors in the ale. On the whole, I think I would have this one again. Possibly when I make colcannon and corned beef for St. Patrick's day.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Morning chores and a challenge.

From Here
Since getting the kids to pick up their toys yesterday reduced my chores for today, I am now focused on a project that I put aside. Before I got to play, however, I cleaned up the kitchen. Now, I am processing my first bit of raw fleece.

When I was given the fleece as the Genesee Valley Handspinners Guild meeting last month, I remarked to my lovely Mother-in-Law that I had no clue where to begin. She kindly offered that she would be happy to help and I bravely said that I would muddle along and call her if I found myself well and truly confused. The fleece was greasy with lanolin and smelled of ... well, sheep.

Uncertain where to begin, I did what any good person would do. I went to the oracle of Google and did a search on how to process fleece. Many sites popped up and I clicked the first non-Youtube link that I saw. After doing some reading, I learned the following:

  1. In addition to lanolin, there is sheep sweat, bits of grass, dirt, and sheep dung that will be found in fleece. (I looked my bit of fleece over and didn't find any large bits so I'm hopeful that I don't have much in the way of sheep dung to worry about.)
  2. You must use really HOT water to rinse and wash your fleece. Tepid or cool water will not be sufficient to soften and liquify the lanolin and strip it off of the fibers.
  3. Shampoo will not work to clean off fleece because it will not remove the waxy lanolin. Dish soap or laundry soap are a more effective option.
  4. You can not use Oxyclean or similar products to clean your fleece. They contain enzymes that react with proteins and will dissolve your fiber along with the lanolin.
  5. You must be very gentle in agitating your fleece, if at all. Anything substantial will cause your fleece to felt.
While brand-name dish soap was recommended, I decided to use the generic stuff that I have in the kitchen. I'm going to wash this with the dish soap however many times I need to until the water runs clear. Drying it will be a touch challenging because I don't know how well it will work out on my drying rack. Once I have this stuff clean and dry, I am going to card it with my handcards and I think I'm going to spin it on my Ashford student spindle.

Once I have the fiber spun up, I am thinking I should actually knit something with it. I honestly don't know how much yarn I will get out of this, though. I may wind up only making a small swatch with it all. That would be ok, though, because I'm going to start knitting and crocheting gauge swatches. I figure as I start a new project, I will get into the habit of doing this. After I get a decent sized pile of swatches together, I'll stitch them together into something. Oh, I forgot to note, but the breed of sheep that this is from (and pictured above) is Cotswold.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Just another Monday.

I have a few minutes free to post right now. Soon, my eldest will be home from school. My youngest just got home and is happily wandering around the living room with toys in hand. In a little while, I'll be directing the boys in picking up their toys and then letting them dust and run the electric sweeper over the floor. Monday is chore day in FLYLady's world and I try to keep that practice up myself.

I have a sink full of dishes to wash, approximately six loads of laundry to put away, and gods only know what is in that pile of papers sitting on the table. Most days, I would be on the verge of panic over this. Right now, however, I'm busy being thankful for these things.

The sink full of dishes tells me that we have enough food to eat and the means to prepare it safely. The laundry tells me that I have clothes for my family to wear and be warm and safe from the weather. The papers tell me that I have things that I am important enough to have paperwork over. And the mess around the living room with the toys scattered about, it tells me that my great dream of being a mother is truly realized.

On the whole, I am looking around and seeing the blessings around me rather then the work to be done. I must admit, this feels pretty damn good after struggling with depressive episodes for the last little while.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Long day is long.

I have gotten a considerable amount of stuff done today. I'm pleased with this. I am not pleased with the fact that my knees have been bothering me ALL day. The aleve I took earlier helped some but it has not been a pleasant day on that front.

Beloved is a wonderful, wonderful man. He not only helped me out by carrying the umpteen million bags of laundry out to the car but he managed to get the kids to pick up most of the apartment too. I so completely win at life right now!