30 July 2006

Sock and Dagger

Okay, I couldn't resist. I signed up for Sock Wars. Hopefully the sense of urgency (and the prospect of carrying off a successful "assassination") will compel me to actually finish a pair of socks. Chances are, though, that I'm a dead man. If you're jonesin' for a little sock and dagger, then sign up. You may even get to kill me and my size 13 feet.

The Rules

1. The first rule of Sock Wars is, you must talk about Sock Wars
2. The second rule of Sock Wars is, you MUST talk about Sock Wars.
(no really, for this to be a success we need as many combatants as possible)
3. Two socks to a fight
4. One fight at a time
5. No shirts, no shoes, just socks
6. Fights will go on as long as they have to
7. If this is your first time in Sock Wars, you have to fight.

Other Stuff

My first week back at work has been a relatively busy one. On Thursday night, I had two surgeries, one of which was a splenic torsion in an english bulldog. I had my tech take a photo during surgery, which can be seen here (not for the weak of stomach). In the last 15 years, I can probably count on one hand the number of these that I've seen. Until this case I had never heard of it in other than a large breed dog, so this one was truly exceptional.

Tonight, thankfully, was surgery-free, but we did take in a litter of 8 orphaned opossums. Mom was hit by a car and killed, so we had to pull these little guys out of her pouch and move them to a makeshift artificial pouch. They're fairly young, but they're big enough and strong enough they at least should have a shot at survival. I'll be dropping them off with a rehabilitator on my way home from work this morning.


29 July 2006

The Woolhead Returns

It's been a little while since I've shown any progress updates. Remember this?


It's been over a month since I frogged & restarted this one. Compare the pic here to the one above and you will notice that there is indeed progress. I've even started a second skein, which means that I'm a bit further along than I was when I decided to frog it before. As I mentioned in the last post, it was a welcome distraction flying to and from Hawai'i, and I actually made decent progress during those nearly interminable flights. Enough to make me feel like I actually have a shot at finishing something before I die.

Sock Wars

I found out today about Sock Wars, which is being organized by Yarn Monkey. I don't think that I'm a very good joiner, in general. I've never signed on for a knit-along before. The whole "death by socks" and intrigue aspects of this have really piqued my interest, though. I just think I may be hard-pressed to knock out a pair of socks before being killed. That and what are the chances my killer will actually knit up a pair of socks that'll fit my size 13 feet? I suppose, though, that it would mean one less Christmas gift I'd have to worry about.

28 July 2006

Hawai'i Trip - Final Leg: Puako or Bust

After returning to Big Island from Honolulu, we spent our last three nights at a gay-owned B&B in Puako, which is basically just a dead end road along the shore in the South Kohala District, surrounded by swank resorts and plagued by what appears to be an explosion of new houses. It was a sleepy road, but I fear it may not remain so.

On our first full day there, Alicia & Norma took the day off to come play, so we drove down to the beach at the end of the road and spent a few hours snorkeling around a fantastic reef where we saw a ton of fish, including a couple different species of moray eels. Then we retired back to the B&B, where we spent an idyllic afternoon noshing and gabbing until they had to return home.

That night we drove up the highway a short distance to the Mauna Kea Resort for dinner. This particular resort is known for shining lights into the water in the evenings. This attracts plankton, which in turn attracts the manta rays which feed on the plankton. We did get to see a smallish manta circling about peacefully in the shallow water, beautiful and seemingly oblivious to its audience. At the restaurant we got a slightly chilly reception ("You're not staying at any resort?!") but they did deign to give us a table. The food was good, but horrendously overpriced. I don't think I'd go back.

On day two, Friday, we set out on a bit of a mission. David's friend Katharine, in whose condo we had stayed at the beginning of the trip, has also bought some acreage on the windward side of Big Island, in the Hamakua District near a state forest reserve. She had given us directions to go see the property, and asked us to continue her family's (still new) tradition of "marking" it, which we dutifully did.



Note the steers watching David. He managed nonetheless to overcome his performance anxiety.

Afterwards, we drove up the coast a short distance to Waipi'o Valley.


Much gets written about this valley in the guide books. It's a popular destination, there are all sorts of horseback trips and hiking tours there, and I have to admit that it's a pretty impressive spectacle - wide and lush with streams freefalling over sheer cliffs to the ocean below. Still, it's an inhabited valley, where people cultivate taro and other crops, and that just makes it more, well, tame. I'll take Pololu, thanks.

When we returned to Puako, we quickly changed to try to get in a dip in the ocean before dark. We found the nearby and now-famous "Beach 69", described by the guide books as "quiet" and "frequented by locals". The beach got it's name because the telephone poles used to be numbered and it was nearest to pole #69 (so get your minds out of the gutter). It was nice, but not much reef close in to shore. Plus the sun was getting low, which is generally prime time for shark attacks, so we only stayed in the water long enough to get wet, then watched to see if the tourist teenager floating on his bodyboard kicking the water would get eaten. He didn't.

Our flight home on Saturday didn't leave until 11PM, so before packing everything up, we got up fairly early and drove past Beach 69 to a more secluded beach nearby that our host described as "mostly gay" and "clothing optional" (we opted for, if you must know). There was a tour bus parked at Beach 69, which helped confirm our decision. At our chosen beach, the only people when we arrived were a pair of hippie chicks doing nude yoga on the beach (which begged the thought, How can she do that without getting sand in her....).

We quietly made our way past them to the water so as not to disturb, and I promptly smacked my toe really hard into a rock hidden in the swirl of the waves. I managed not to curse like a drunken sailor, even though I was nearly in tears, and was shortly rewarded for my restraint with the most incredible reefs we had seen on our entire trip. The corals were extensive and vibrant, growing on large lava rocks surrounded by wavy white sand, the water was unbelievably clear, and the fish were huge. I spent the entire time in sheer awe. The photos don't even begin to do it justice.

We spent enough time in the water that I had quite the sea legs when I stepped back onto land, but we made our way back to the B&B, packed all our things, then set out on the road to Hawi to visit Alicia & Norma once more (at Norma's clinic this time) before we had to come home. Alicia had recommended Thai food from a local vendor who sets up a tent under one of the big banyan trees on Saturdays, but we arrived too late and they had sold out. So instead Alicia pointed us across the street to Sushi Rock where we had amazing sushi and the monkeys had fun viewing the artwork.


Afterwards they insisted we stop at the banyan tree for a bit, 'cause what monkey doesn't love a tree?


Then we went back to the clinic, spent a little more time with Alicia & Norma, and headed out on the scenic route back to Kailua-Kona - over the Kohala mountains (where I think I could actually live - up in the clouds looking over rolling, emerald green pastures) to Waimea then down through the plains to the coast. We arrived in Kailua town in time to drop off the last of the disposable cameras for developing and get a cup of coffee at Lava Java before David had an appointment to get one of his tattoos touched up. Then we rushed to pick up photos and return our rental car and hopped on a plane for a long, exhausting trip home.

I did no knitting whatsoever while we were in Hawai'i, but it did help me get through a long, cramped flight from Phoenix to Boston, stuck in a middle seat and trying like mad not to let my claustrophobia get the better of me. I do, however, have 189 photos from our snorkeling outings that I have yet to scan in. I think that, rather than try to write more about this trip, I will post photos from time to time as I sort through them all. Vacation is over, I just got another pound of Junior roving in the mail, and although it's hot right now, Fall will be here before we know it.

25 July 2006

Into the Fire: Volcano, Part 3

Our final day in Volcano was fairly low key, mostly because we were still exhausted from the previous day - not to mention the fact that I was walking around with bandaged feet. We headed back down Chain of Craters Road, though, to see things we'd missed the night before. First, we took a side road off of Chain of Craters to go see the Hilina Pali.

Pali is the Hawaiian word for cliff, and the Hilina Pali, we learned, is what is called a fault scarp, meaning that over time, part of the land has shifted about 1000ft. downward along a fault line, creating a spectacular view of the coastal plain from the higher ground. The drop is not quite as sharp as it appears, but it is steep - especially when you're climbing back up. You can see David in this shot giving a bit of perspective to how impressive it all is.


After that little trip, we made our way down, stopping along the way to look at various old craters and trying not to be blown away by the wind, which by that time had reached gale force. I never saw an official measurement, but it was strong enough to make driving alongside sheer drops just a smidge frightening.

As we made our way closer to sea level, the wind died down a bit, and eventually we came to the Pu'u Loa petroglyph field, which is the largest in Hawai'i. Here the ancient Hawaiians had recorded images to tell about their lives. There were also a number of piko, which were small holes cut into the lava where part of the umbilical cord of a newborn was placed to ensure the child's long life.



After leaving the petroglyphs, we drove to the end of the road and contemplated trekking it back onto the lava fields to see the flow again, but by that time we were just too tired and not up to being around the hoards of people who were there for nightfall - something we'd pretty well avoided by going later the night before. So instead we drove back up to the 1000ft. overlook and watched the steam plume flow as the light faded and the lava glow again became apparent.

The following morning, we packed up, said our goodbyes to our host (but not before I had bought two of his Buddha carvings - one mask and one seated Buddha) and took the long way back around the Hilo side of the island to the Kona airport to head to Honolulu, about which I've already written.

I didn't take pictures of our drive on the Hilo side of the island. We weren't in a rush, but it's just as well, as I managed to leave my driver's license in the rental car when we returned it and had to spend a good bit of time retrieving it so that I could get on the flight to Honolulu. The entire Hilo side, though, was very much like our visit to Pololu Valley writ small - lush valley after lush valley after lush valley, most of them small, but very steep and achingly beautiful. Exploring them is yet one more reason to add to my list of why I should return.

24 July 2006

Into the Fire: Volcano, Part 2

We actually got home this evening, so I've got a bit of catching up to do. Moving back in time again to Volcano, I had previously gotten to the point at which we headed down Chain of Craters Road to see the lava flow by night.

Chain of Craters is an 18 mile-long (30km) road leading past the remnants of several lava flows, both ancient and modern to the field from the current eruption. In 2003, the end of the road was covered by new flow, so it now ends abruptly at a ranger station, which had to be moved a mile closer in from the road's previous end to escape the flow. As we drove down the road in the dark, we weren't able to appreciate the extent of the old flows, but when we got to an overlook at 1000 ft. altitude, we could suddenly see this in the distance (enlarged more than the later photos, so please excuse the shift in proportions).


When we drove back down the road the following day, we could see that that particular glow was from the lava flowing into the ocean. Here's the view during the day, when all that's visible is the steam plume.


We continued on to the end of the road and proceeded to walk out onto the lava field for about a mile, but the glows never seemed to get any closer. I had brought my binoculars, though, so we were able to get some good views of both the steam plume and a skylight up the mountain that looked like this at 9PM


but by midnight had opened up to look like this.


We could potentially have hiked another several miles and gotten closer to the lava, but we had already done a fairly strenuous hike that day and the terrain was both very irregular (lava rarely lays itself down in neat layers) and very sharp, being surfaced with shards of shiny black volcanic glass. As it was, I still got blisters (with well broken-in boots, no less) and we were still able to see some pretty humbling views of it.

And as if just seeing the lava weren't exciting enough, as we sat and watched the flow, the moon, which was just past full, came out from behind the clouds and shone on the water. And when I looked up over the side of the mountain, I was able to see a hazy but perfect arc which struck me as fairly odd. As I looked a bit more closely, though, I could make out faint bands of color - it was a moonbow!

Now I can safely say that I've traveled more than the average person and probably seen a good bit more than the average person, but a rainbow at night while sitting on the side of a volcano watching lava flow into the ocean? I don't think I'll ever top that one.

19 July 2006

Fast Forward

I'm doing a little temporal shift here to my last 5 days here in Honolulu. This is largely because I don't have as much to say about Honolulu and I can get it out of the way quickly. Honolulu is, in a nutshell, another city by the sea. It is somewhat dirty, congested, and being what it is, a bit tacky. Waikiki Beach, in particular, is more like the Brady Bunch version of Hawai'i than anything else I have seen. One nice thing I can say is that the nighttime skyline is quite pretty.


One thing I hadn't quite anticipated was the number of Japanese tourists. I have heard more Japanese in the past 5 days than ever before in my life. The good thing about the Asian flavor here is the ready availability of, well, Asian flavors. Other than the first night, when my cousin Brian & his girlfriend Cara hosted us for dinner, we have eaten at a different style of Asian restaurant every night. We've also been able to find soy milk very easily, which is a very good thing as far as David's concerned.

The conference itself was okay, though it never really has as stimulating a scientific program as I would like. It is, first and foremost, a political meeting. Otherwise, its focus is more on public health (which I like) and things like food safety & food animal (beef, poultry, swine) health, which I'm not so big on. Aside from this year's venue, the main reason I have primarily attended this particular conference is that it is also when the Lesbian & Gay Veterinary Medical Association has its annual meeting. I was on the board of LGVMA for 6 years, including two as President, but even being off the board I continue to be somewhat active in the organization.

We really didn't stray much from our immediate surroundings, but Brian took off early from work today, picked us up at our hotel, and took us around the island, including some snorkeling in Shark Cove on O'ahu's North Shore. No sharks were sighted, but I did take a lot of photos, some of which will hopefully be decent enough to show everyone when I get them developed and scanned. The North Shore is quite lovely and is the antithesis of Honolulu.

After snorkeling, Brian dropped us off to change while he went to pick up Cara and we all went out to dinner (Vietnamese this time). Then we went to the Hale Loa Hotel, which is a few doors down from our hotel and owned by the military for their personnel and guests. The hotel has an outdoor bar on Waikiki Beach, so we went to have a few cocktails before saying our goodbyes. There were a large number of very young, very drunk military folks there, including one guy named Garrett who kept hollering at his group, "I'm so glad I'm not a fag!" Finally I said, "So are we," not loudly enough to incite a brawl but enough to give our little group a chuckle. It did make one wonder why Garrett felt the need to be so insistent about that bit of information, but hey.

So once Garrett and his crowd had either dispersed or passed out, we managed to have a fairly nice little visit. Brian and I are very different people (He likes heavy metal and extreme sports - not exactly my cup o' tea), but he's a good guy and we get along well. And as we only manage to see one another every couple years or so depending on his leave time and where he's stationed, it's always good to catch up. Eventually, though, we all started feeling our age and it was time to say goodbye.


Tomorrow it's back to Big Island for our last three nights before heading home. And I promise that I will get to the rest of the Volcano portion of the trip.

18 July 2006

Into the Fire: Volcano, Part One

As I mentioned in my last post, the guest cottage in Volcano was quite tiny, but the monkeys found it very romantic.


They were also fond of our host, Ira.


So they decided to stay in while we spent our first day exploring the park. We initially walked a bit of the rim of Kilauea caldera & got to see the Halema'uma'u crater, where the goddess Pele is said to live.


Despite being fairly sunny at first, it was a very windy day out and a bit brisk. On our way to the crater overlook, we passed these Red Hat ladies sitting near the caldera rim.


When we were returning to our car a short time later, something seemed different about them.


As we continued on around the caldera rim, a cloud began to roll in over the far edge, so that by the time we reached the trail to hike down into the adjacent Kilauea Iki crater, we were right in the middle of the cloud mist and the anticipated heat never arrived. We hiked down the 400 foot vertical drop along a trail that looked like this,


but at the bottom, the lush vegetation abruptly gave way to this.


Anyone up for storming the Dark Lord's fortress?

One of the few things growing on this crater floor, which last erupted in 1959, were the omnipresent 'Ohi'a trees, which are the first trees to grow and bloom after an eruption.


As we (slowly) made our way back up the steep trail and returned to our car, we saw several large Kalij pheasants, which were imported here from the Himalayas. They were not included in the list of non-native species the Park Service is trying to eradicate from the park, so I assume that their impact is relatively more benign. Although a little bit shy, they didn't seem overly perturbed by our presence.


After that rather exhausting hike, we took a break for dinner before heading down Chain of Craters Road to see the lava flow by night. That, however, will have to wait until next time.

16 July 2006

The Road to Volcano

When we left Kailua-Kona on Tuesday, the road South first headed up into the hills. I knew the city was built on the side of a mountain, but I didn't realize just how quickly the ground rose. Within about 15 minutes, we were 1000ft. (300m) above sea level.


We had a lovely drive down to Pu'uhonua o Honauau, which means the Place of Refuge at Honaunau Bay. We went first of all because Norma had suggested it as a snorkeling site. It was indeed that, and a very spectacular one. Tons of fish of all sorts of colors and stripes, green turtles, and we even saw three moray eels in the deeper water. After we'd had our fill of that, we went around to the actual Place of Refuge, which Duffy wrote about here and which is a National Historical Park. We got a few photos of the ki'i, which were figures carved to protect the temple.



And David decided that this was where he wants to have our front yard.


I wonder if we can recreate that in Maine?

Upon leaving Honaunau, we continued down the coast into the Ku'a District, which is a largely arid district sitting in the rain shadow of Mauna Loa. It is also where the southernmost point in the United States is located. We didn't drive the extra few miles down to South Point, mostly because I wasn't sure how good the road would be for the rental car, but shortly after passing the point by, we came upon this overlook.


Like pretty much every other turn we had rounded on the island, it was breathtaking. We continued a bit further up the coast and stopped for a bit at Punalu'u Beach Park, which is home to a black sand beach and some pretty wild surf.


Being on the windward side of the island, the currents were pretty rough, as evidenced by the very steep beach. Nonetheless, there was a group of 8-10 year old boys out in the surf with bodyboards and surfboards, seemingly without a care. The closest David & I got to the water was washing the salt spray off of our glasses two or three times while we were there. I'd like to think that being old enough to be aware of my own mortality is generally a good thing, but those kids sure did seem to be having a good time.

Pushing on yet again, we had another half hour to drive before we arrived at our resting place for the next three nights - a cozy (read: tiny) guest cottage in the village of Volcano, nestled behind an artists' shop.


More on the cottage and the volcanoes later, but now I must sleep.

12 July 2006

Hawai'i Trip - First Leg

I'm going to try to give you a taste of our first three days here. I can't possibly fit it all in, and some of the pics I've taken on disposal underwater cameras, which means I won't be able to share them until I can scan the film in. We really have managed to pack an amazing amount of activity into a very short period, though.

With our arrival at Kailua-Kona on Saturday afternoon, David's first priority was to go snorkel somewhere. And snorkel we did, at the small but popular Kahalu'u Beach Park in Kailua Town. We were actually in the water to see the sun plummet below the horizon. The tropical sun doesn't mess around when it comes to sunrise or sunset, and for someone who's used to sunset around 8:30 or 9:00 this time of year, it's a little disconcerting to see it get dark so early, but we both seem to have adapted to the time shift without much trouble.

In Kailua, we stayed at a condo belonging to David's friend Katharine. The condo is on Ali'i Drive, which is the shorefront drive and a fairly busy road. We were back from the road enough that noise wasn't a big problem, but we did have plenty of small visitors. Thankfully, they had the courtesy to stay outside, as I think David might have freaked out if they'd made themselves cozy indoors, as well.


We went back to Kahalu'u on Sunday morning and had a great time snorkeling and taking pics (which will come later) of all the reef fishes and green turtles, which seemed quite unperturbed by the crowds of locals and tourists who were there. Despite the liberal application of sunscreen and strict adherence to our plan of spending only one hour in the water, we still managed to get a little sunburnt. I do at least have some capacity for melanin production and wasn't burned too badly. David, however, is from Norwegian-German stock and ended up with a bright red back which still lingers.

As mentioned in my previous post, we met up with Alicia & Norma on Sunday afternoon. We had a nice lunch and some fantastic beer at the Kona Brewing Company. Curiously enough, Alicia & Norma told us that all of the brewery's bottled products either on the mainland or here on the islands are actually brewed in Oregon. The brews on tap at the pub, though, are made right there on site. If you ever have the chance to visit them, I highly recommend the Hula Hefeweizen - light, fruity, perfect for a tropical afternoon.

While we were there, a local zydeco band started playing. One of their number was wandering around with a washboard, and as Alicia's a drummer, we convinced her (and the monkeys) to give it a whirl. After all, rhythm is rhythm.


After lunch, they led us to the beach at Honokohau, where the ancient Hawaiians had a heiau, or temple, and had constructed a system of lava rock walls that would trap fish at low tide so that they could be caught more easily. We returned on Monday to snorkel there, but there are no underwater pics, as it proved too murky. As we parted ways, it was raining quite nicely - a rarity right along that section of coast due to the rain shadow effect from the volcanoes. Upon returning to the condo complex, I snapped this photo looking back up the hill.


On Monday, after snorkeling, we headed North towards Hawi, where Alicia & Norma live, hoping to be able to meet up with them for their hula class. We drove through quite a lot of dry, brown lava fields, but as we got closer and closer to Hawi, we finally started to get out of the rain shadow of Kohala mountain and get some of the trade winds that sweep across the ocean to the islands and bring the rain that caused this.


The photo doesn't do it justice, but if you look closely, you can see the faint outer arc of this double rainbow. I think I now understand why Hawai'i license plates look like this.

We poked around a little bit in Hawi town, which looks very much like a frontier town there on the edge of the world, then continued on a few more miles to where the road ends at Pololu Valley. The further we went, the wilder and more lush the scenery became. This is the sight that greeted us at the road's end.


And this is how the valley looks as it works its way inland.


The valley is a vertical drop of about 400 ft., and much of the northwest coast of the island looks like this, with sheer cliffs that were created when that side of the island just fell off into the ocean during a landslide of unimaginable proportions thousands of years ago. At the bottom, the surf rages and crashes against a beach of fine black volcanic sand.

Although it was getting a bit late in the evening, we decided to hike down the sometimes challenging trail into the valley, which took us through vegetation that looked a lot like something from the set of Land of the Lost (or maybe Jurassic Park, for those who didn't grow up in the 70's in the US).



On the beach, we found a couple of small Portuguese Man O' Wars that had been thrown up by the surf. This one, the larger of the two, was only about 3 inches long, but still plenty big to deliver a very painful sting.


Of course the currents along the beach there were such that anyone who might have been swimming there and gotten stung would have very soon drowned from the surf. Under those circumstances, the Man O' War would have been a relatively minor inconvenience.

And now it is well past time for bed. Much, much more to follow.

11 July 2006


Really short post, as we're heading out today for Volcano, and I'm not really sure how long my laptop battery will last. The past three days have been really wonderful. Kailua-Kona really isn't my idea of where to spend an entire vacation - muggy, touristy, crowded - but it's been a good jumping off point. The monkeys have had fun, too.


They also got to meet Norma & Alicia, which was an absolute blast. Such wonderful, fun people.


There's so much more to tell. So very, very much more - with tons of pictures. But it will have to wait until I have the time and connection to sit still.

08 July 2006

Monkey & Other Monkey Take a Trip


In 3.5 hours we will be en route to Hawai'i for two whole weeks! Almost everything is packed, including Monkey & Other Monkey. As you can see, they are very happy about this. Postings may be somewhat sporadic, but various digital accoutrements will be accompanying us & the Monkeys shall try to keep a decent photojournal of their travels.

07 July 2006

Last Night...

... at work before vacation. Absolutely nothing is packed, but I started in on the laundry before leaving for work to make sure everything's washed. My list of must-pack stuff is all ready to go, DVD's to watch on the laptop are all lined up, and Introduction to Sanskrit, Part One arrived a few days ago, so I'll be able to take that with me. The preface says that learning Sanskrit should be undertaken in a relaxed state of mind, so I figure vacation in paradise is a good venue.

I think I'm also going to take along Crónica de una Muerte Anunciada, as I haven't read it in a long time and I've been thinking about it lately. It has what I consider to be one of the best opening lines in literature, though I think it renders best in the original Spanish (Actually, I've never seen it in English, but I can't imagine a translation being as good):

El día en que lo iban a matar, Santiago Nasar se levantó a las 5.30 de la mañana para esperar el buque en que llegaba el obispo.

The first time I read this book, as a student in Spain in 1988, I absolutely could not put it down. The first sentence tells you the name of the man who is to die, how utterly unaware he is of what is to come, and sets the stage for the horrible drama that is about to play out. It's no wonder that García Márquez won a Nobel Prize. I may have to take along Amor en el Tiempo del Cólera, too, as I haven't yet gotten around to reading that one.

As for travel knitting, I think I'm just going to take along the sweater vest. I figure I won't be knitting when I'm on the beach and probably will only pick it up in the evening in an air-conditioned room, so who cares if it's not cotton or laceweight.

Other Stuff

Here's a photo of little Liberty Rose Firecracker.


Wicked cunnin'.

I also plied skein #2 of the Junior last night - almost exactly the same yardage as the first, so I feel like I was pretty consistent with my spinning. I haven't washed it yet, but it'll wait. No pics yet, as I was falling asleep while I was treadling, but I'll see if I can manage to get something up before we leave.

05 July 2006

Houseguests, New Babies, All Sorts of Stuff

There's been a good bit going on the past few days that I haven't really written about. David's friend Johanna, her husband John, and their three kids came to visit us for a couple days. They're heading out in the morning, most likely before I get home from work, but a bit more on their visit later.

David woke me up at 11:30 on Monday morning (That's early for me, remember?) with three rather unwelcome words - "The clinic called." Because Monday was technically not a holiday, we didn't have a third doctor scheduled to work overlap between the day and night shifts. Turns out we should have.

Being the team player I am, I got up and drove in to help out. I ended up working 5.5 hours - not really a full shift, but enough to feel like I worked. Had I not gone in, things would have gotten horribly bogged down, and there would have been ripples carrying over into tonight, I'm sure. I called home on my way out the door, and David told me that the guests had just arrived.

I stopped off to pick up a few things at the grocery store and made a big salad for the grown-ups when I got home (Kids, apparently, have to be fed earlier in the evening to keep them happy). Then we all walked down to the town pier to watch the fireworks across the river in Portsmouth.

Walking back from the pier, we were talking about Johanna's friend Dena, whom David & I met at Rhinebeck last year. I remembered that Dena lived in Northampton, so I had wondered if she knew mamacate. So when Johanna told me that Dena's working at Webs, I was pretty sure, and when she said that Dena has a blog, well, that pretty much clinched it. Come to find out, they're practically neighbors, even. And I always thought the veterinary community was incestuously small.

This morning at around 10:30 (really, really early), David woke me up to tell me that his girl Spooky had given birth to a female cria earlier in the morning. Spooky's a light rose grey and this cria is a dark rose grey - not a common color, but a really neat one and one David likes in his herd. He, the guests, and Wendy were all going over to see the new arrival. He's got pics on his computer now, so I'll try to post one soon.

I tried to go back to sleep but realized it wasn't going to happen and got up before they left. David generally does not like name suggestions, so when I called after him, "You know you're going to have to name her Liberty Rose," he let out a pained cry and started running for the van with his fingers in his ears. "Betsy Ross," I yelled.

After they returned from the farm, We all went to the local lobster pound so that John could indulge in some of Maine's most popular frutta di mare. Afterwards we went to our local beach so we could poke around the tidal pools. There is always an abundance of green crabs, often starfish, and today we discovered that one small pool actually has a cluster of sea anemones. We also learned the best spot for finding large starfish, occasionally lobsters, and other treasures, though the tide had come in enough to cover that area by the time we got there.

After the beach, we parted ways. I headed home to gather my things for work, while everyone else went to get ice cream. Somehow it didn't seem quite fair, but David assures me the ice cream tasted awful.

04 July 2006


Since I was rather (understandably) distracted over the weekend, I didn't get around to putting up photos of the first skein of the Junior yarn.


I'm also continuing to spin this roving up.


I managed to track down an e-mail address for this farm and, wonder of wonders, they still have some of the Junior roving. I have yet to hear from them about the Zachariah roving, which is a red heather, but I'm definitely getting more of the Junior so that I should have enough for a sweater.

03 July 2006


That's her name, pronounced à la française. Actually, when I get her registered, her full name will be "Cabezalana Juliette". Everyone had good suggestions, but I must admit to being rather particular about names. When I first adopted Rosa, for instance, she had been named Frito. Not only was it a bad name, it was also patently not her name. Neither was Snoopy, which was what my techs at the time wanted to call her. It took me a week or two to know what Tolo's name would be. It may sound kind of crazy & new-agey, but I feel that the name reveals itself to me, and I just can't give a name that I know isn't right. What I want to know is had she been a boy, would Cate have suggested Henry?

I went back out to the farm today to see her and take more pics.


It appears that she has heterochromia iridae, which is a condition in which the eyes are of different colors. In this particular instance, the iris of each of her eyes have areas which are very light grey in color. It's curious in that I've never seen this in an alpaca before (though it's a common enough phenomenon, in general, and some white alpacas do have blue eyes), and it makes me wonder as to whether she'll be a bit of a wild card in the color department. Alpaca color genetics are still only partially sorted out and fairly complex, and she's got quite a mix of colors in her background. It'll be interesting to see what happens when she enters the breeding pool in a couple of years.

01 July 2006

Much Awaited

When I got home from work this morning, David's first words to me were, "Get your camera. It's a girl." So Madelyn waited for 354 days, then popped her baby out in the 15 minutes that nobody was watching her. That woke me up enough to drive another hour to the farm, where I took photos (naturally). So here are my favorite three:




No name, as yet, but she seems to be very healthy (an enormous 22#/10kg!) & was nursing very well. Right now I'm too tired to stay awake, let alone think. Any suggestions (people names, please)?