16 December 2012

08 December 2012

A Cautionary Tale

I assume most folks who stop by here have heard of Tuvan throat singing, but in case you haven't, it's this:

It's a type of what's called overtone singing, where the human voice operates something like a bagpipe -simultaneously producing both a constant drone note and overtones that carry a melodic line. It's also found in some Tibetan Buddhist chant.

Anyway, it's neat stuff, and while I don't speak the languages nor do I know the exact technique, it is fun to try to play around with the concept. I can usually get a little bit of a harmonic going, too, though nothing approaching the high, whistling overtones the Tuvans can belt out.

So this evening while making dinner, I was singing to the dogs and generally being silly, and once I was done with my prep work, I decided to sit on the floor to serenade them. I'd been trying to sing a song - I don't remember which - in a low bass, but on the low note I kept ending up well sharp of where I needed to be. The dogs seemed particularly interested by the low notes, though, so I decided to start in with a low drone and tried adding in some overtones.

Theo got in close, but then jumped back, not quite sure what to make of it. Chauce stood and watched me for a bit, but all of a sudden he decided he couldn't hold in his excitement and sprang forward, the top of his head slamming into my upper lip and driving it against the edge of my teeth.

There wasn't as much blood as I feared there would be, but it stung when I taste tested the stew I was cooking, it stung when I was eating, and because it's still rubbing against the edge of my teeth, it stings right now. If I wake up tomorrow with a noticeably swollen lip, I'm telling everyone that David came home drunk and slapped me around.

Which will make anyone who knows David pee their pants laughing.

29 October 2012

Post-Rhinebeck Post

I took no photos during the festival this year. Actually, I take that back. I took this one for Carol, who wasn't able to make it this year.


And then the ever-adorable Stephen West stopped by to dance under the disco ball in his knit hotpants.


As always, it was a good show, and great getting to see all the people that we only seem to see once a year. Also, buying wonderful things. I came home with a gorgeous black Icelandic fleece, which I'll be taking off for processing so that I'll actually be able to knit something with it in my lifetime. I also found a perfect contrast yarn to make Julia Farwell Clay's Queequeg (which I'll be modifying to eliminate the boob shaping, and possibly with rolled hems). And in case you didn't know, Edie Eckman's latest book made its debut at Rhinebeck.

Granny hex

Maybe I'll show up next year with granny hex hotpants in lieu of the kilt.

14 September 2012

Now We Are Six (Months)

Now we are six (months)

We also got neutered 9 days ago and started obedience school 4 days ago, but we're managing both pretty well.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Turns out, graduate school takes up a lot of time. A really, really lot of time. Which means I don't have time for much else. Which means that blogging has gone right out the window. As if you hadn't noticed.

So anyway, here's the short, short version of my summer. We went to South Dakota to visit the in-laws.

N.B. - These are not the in-laws, but I did take the photo in South Dakota.

Part of that trip required that we publicly embarrass ourselves.

Then I had a super busy July at work. Of which I have no readily available photos. And then I managed to be away for most of the month of August. First I went to San Diego for a conference. For funsies one afternoon, I took the trolley down to the border and spent a few hours in Tijuana.


It was dirty and sad and pretty much what I expected, and now that I've been there I don't have to go back. Perhaps someday I can visit a nicer part of Mexico (by which I do not mean Cancún). At any rate, I got back from that trip and was only home for a week before we left for...







This time my parents went with us, and we were there for nearly two weeks and had an absolute blast.


That's sheep! By the ocean! On a fjord! And even though you can't really tell, those are seals out on a shoal behind them! And I have a whole huge whack of photos from the trip here. All I can say is that the trip totally refueled my desire to live there, even if it's only for a year. Or three. Or maybe a decade. Or longer. Meantime, a lot of wool came home with me, and there has been knitting.

Now, though, it's time for bed.

30 May 2012

Puppy Windup

Chauce is always excited to get home from work so he can see little brother Theo. David's glad when Chauce gets home so somebody else can deal with all the puppy energy.

15 May 2012

So, yeah.

That last post? The question was more or less rhetorical.

No name, as yet, but hopefully within the next couple of days. We got to meet both parents, and they were very nice dogs. Out of the 5 (!!) pups in his litter, he seemed to be the most easygoing, and he gives sweet puppy kisses. He still has quite a bit of puppy energy, though, and I expect the next few months will be interesting.

Chauce has been very good, but he's made it clear that he is Alpha. Fortunately, the pup knows to pay attention, though I can already see him testing to see just where his limits lie. Did I mention the next few months are going to be interesting?

11 May 2012



So we're three weeks into the new dog, and he's pretty much fit seamlessly into our lives. His name did turn out to be a bit of a sticking point, though. Personally, I was fine with Chaucer. It's a good literary name. David didn't care for it, though, and he was still feeling pretty burnt over the situation with the puppy-who-wasn't-to-be. Naming is a serious business around here.

So after a bit of *ahem* gentle discussion, we finally decided on a truncated version of his existing name that wouldn't land us in divorce court. Of course, I've been spelling it Chauce, and David's spelling it Choss, so it's just as well the dog himself can't spell. Maybe we should go with a phonetic alphabet and spell it चॉस्. Half the time I call him BigBoy, anyway.

All debates aside, he's settled in phenomenally quickly. He loves to walk the neighborhood loop, loves to ride in the car, and gets excited when he sees the harness for either or those. He gets along well with the kitties, gets excited when I come home from work, loves to be cuddled, wants to sleep between us when we watch TV in the evening, and loves having his teeth brushed before bed (poultry-flavored toothpaste - YUM!). In short, he's decided we belong to him, and vice versa.


29 April 2012

"A Fascinatingly Disturbing Thought"

In Rome (of all places) I was approached by a young American evangelist who was, apparently, trying to convert all those Roman heathens to Jesus lovers. I told him that I didn't believe in a Creator and explained that being part of this universe was special in its own right, that the fact that we exist at all is beautiful and awe inspiring in itself. The only response he had was, "I just feel like there HAS to be something." What he didn't realize is that there IS something, and it's called quantum physics.

23 April 2012

Our New Bundle of Joy

There is one, but not the one we thought we were going to be getting. It's a long, sordid tale, but the super brief version is that the co-owner of that pup, who had been raising him, decided on Tuesday, the day before we were to get the pup, that she couldn't give him up. We found out later that she had been blindsided and railroaded into the whole situation, so as much as we had become emotionally invested in the idea of having him, we certainly understand her feelings and wish her and the pup the best.

Anyway, since we were back at square one, we went back to some of the other leads we had. I had filled out a very extensive (and novel, and very impressive) online screening questionnaire at one breeder's website but had not heard back, so I e-mailed them and briefly explained our situation. Not too long after I got a very nice e-mail back telling me that they had an adult male, a champion show dog they'd recently retired from their breeding program. They thought they'd found a home for him, but that situation fell through at the last minute, also on Tuesday.

David and I decided that we wanted to meet him, so after a bit of e-mail exchange, we drove down to the same venue where David had met the other pup to meet the breeder, who was showing that day. We had a wonderful conversation with him and met the dogs he was showing, then agreed to meet elsewhere that afternoon to meet Chaucer, the boy they were trying to place. We also learned more of the back story regarding the situation with the other pup David had met. Suffice to say, it left us less impressed than we already were with the other breeders.

At any rate, he went home with the other dogs, retrieved Chaucer, and we met up in Connecticut to see Chaucer for the first time. He clearly knew SOMETHING BIG was going on and was a bit keyed up, but he was a sweet boy and asked me to pick him up right off the bat. So after spending another hour or so with him and the breeder, we decided to bring him home with us.

He was a bit wound up about the kitties, but he's been super good with them. He also has an incredible level of energy and loves to run and play, though he's perfectly calm and content to flop down and sleep when he's indoors. He's also extremely intelligent and willing to learn the rules of the house.

He is, of course, not Tuck. No dog could be. That said, the synchronicity that brought him to us could not have been more perfect. He has integrated into our household so seamlessly that, just as with Tuck, I can't imagine we'd have been able to find a better dog for us at this time. I don't really believe in much, but I do believe that some things are meant to be. This is clearly one of those things.

08 April 2012

On Loss, and New Beginnings

T.S. Eliot got it wrong. This year, at least, March was the cruelest month. A really, really horrid month. On the 10th, we lost Sylvie, whom David had adopted as a pound kitty back in 1995. She had lost some ground from apparent inflammatory bowel issues, but we seemed to be making headway dealing with that. Within a 4 week period from February to March, though, she developed a liver tumor, most likely a biliary adenocarcinoma, and deteriorated quickly.

Sylvie was the Jan Brady of our little blended family, always complaining that her adopted siblings were stealing away her attention. In her younger years, she had been something of a teenage runaway, once escaping and getting trapped in a nearly inaccessible space between two apartment buildings in New Jersey.

Then exactly two weeks later came the cruelest blow of all. We had to say goodbye to our dear, sweet Tuck. As happens with his type of condition, his lungs had fibrosed to a point that they simply couldn't sustain him anymore. After a week of back-and-forth between home and the clinic to put him in oxygen, we finally had to face the reality of the situation and the fact that it just wasn't fair to him anymore. I always tell my clients that quality of life for a pet means they can eat, drink, pee, poop, and sleep reasonably comfortably. When all was said and done, Tuck could only sleep relatively comfortably, so he spent his last hour and a half lying on a bed between David and me, with his head resting in my hand and equal measures of tears and kisses.

And I'm realizing now why it's taken me two weeks to write this. As much as I know that it was the right thing for him, I miss my littledog so very, very much. The funny thing about grief, though, is that it's not linear.  Sometimes it sneaks up and grabs you by the short hairs when you least expect it. 

And although there will never, ever be another Tuck, his absence left a hole in our lives, so it didn't take long for us to start looking. I thought about a border collie, partly because it seemed like less of a cheat, I suppose. David, however, would have none of that. He wanted another frenchie, and really, I did, too. There's a lot of personality in a very compact, but decidedly non-froofy package - all the things I love in a dog.

So I started by looking at the rescue listings and none seemed appropriate for our household, so then I moved on to breeders. We agreed that a younger, healthy dog was what we wanted this time. Losing Tuck so soon was a heartbreak like no other, and we don't want to go through that again for a good long while. And after a bit of communication back and forth with a few breeders, David ended up driving to Springfield, MA, early this morning to meet a juvenile male, 9 months old today, whom the breeders had decided to cut from their show line. It was, apparently, love at first sight. Having such a young dog will be a change for us, but it sounds like the reason they decided to end his show career was that he was more about snuggles and lovin' than about prancing in the show ring. And that's just fine by us.

We don't even know yet what his registered name is - most likely Campcovo Bella Luna's {insert pop song title} - but we won't be keeping his kennel/call name. David informed me that it's his turn to name this one, though, so I guess we all get to wait to learn what he'll be called in this house. Hopefully he'll be coming to live in this house within the next week, so fingers crossed David hurries up.

08 March 2012


So I missed my 6th blogiversary a couple of weeks ago. A lot's been going on - much of it very stressful and for another day when I feel up to writing about it. School, so far, is going well, though I'm still not as into a groove as I probably should be. Again, a story for another day.

On the knitting front, I've been working on a top-down lopapeysa with Álafoss plötulopi I brought home last year. I decided I wanted to work a yoke with the Deathflake motif and fashioned a sword motif to go in between the repeats to keep the floats from being too long. I love the way it's turning out, though I'm going to have to snip out the neck and redo that - my shoulders are too wide for the pattern section, so the neck bunches up at present. Since I can't rip out from the neckline, I'll have to cut somewhere just above the pattern section & pick up stitches as I pick out a round. Then I should be able to do a quicker reduction in stitches and make a new, somewhat wider neck.


It's a look that suits me well, I think.

02 February 2012

Ste. Brigid's Day

I'm not sure if anyone is still doing this out there, but I like the bloggy tradition of Ste. Brigid's Day poetry, even though I've not always been consistent about it. At any rate, I thought that this year I'd share one from a poet I actually know.

Dream: Intruder

by Mark Wunderlich

A storm boiled the ocean.
The room's heavy timbers shifted
as the wind pushed the town.

Beside you, I dreamed I saw a ghost.
Blond and ageless, he mocked me
with large teeth, slipped his arm

around your tan shoulder
and cradled your neck
with what once was his hand.

I cursed him
for stepping through the membrane
of his world into mine,

for pressing to you
his T-shirt and faded jeans
which he must have worn in life

and were now a bitter shroud.
Like a ship's hold, the room swayed
as I fixed him with narrowed eyes

and pointed with one finger,
forbidding him to ever come again.
You remained sleeping

unaware that he had found us
or that the draft that tarnished the room
blew from the other side.

Photo flagrantly lifted from here (and lightly photoshopped).

01 February 2012

Startitis Lopapeysum


I decided that I needed some quick-ish gratification, so after a bit of swatching and some calculating over the past few nights, I cast on this evening for a new lopapeysu made með tvöfaldum plötulopa að ofan I'd been trying to decide what to do with for months. That it was going to become a sweater for me was never in question, but I hadn't decided on the form.

Truth be told, I'm not entirely certain even now about all the fine details, but I have design inspiration and a motif I've been wanting to use for a while. And, I hope, enough wool to pull it off.

22 January 2012


I got the call this morning that my maternal grandfather had passed away in his sleep overnight, two days after his 97th birthday. I had been hoping to get to South Carolina to visit him sometime this winter, as I knew that his body was beginning to fail. My mother hadn't expected him to survive through another year and had just gone down there for an extended stay. It sounds as though he passed shortly before she found him this morning, pretty much as she had put him to bed last night.

I've always felt exceptionally fortunate that all of my grandparents survived well into my adulthood. None of them was famous or particularly known outside of their respective families and communities, but within their realm and within my life, they've been nothing short of monumental. Their presence in my life has always been something I've treasured deeply.

My Granddaddy, Ervin Merchant, was born in 1915 to George and Lessie Baird Merchant. He was 14 when the Great Depression hit and ended his formal schooling, as he and his brothers had to work to help keep the family afloat. He worked for quite a long time as a buyer for the large timber companies, and I remember riding with him as a small child as he paid his work crew, using an old pull lever adding machine to  calculate their wages. As a second career he worked as a driver for the state home for the mentally handicapped, and throughout both those careers, he and my grandmother maintained a farm to feed the family.

Along the way, he and my grandmother raised four kids, became fairly comfortably middle class, traveled the country, built themselves a vacation cabin in the North Carolina mountains, and generally lived the American Dream. Although he spent his entire 97 years living within just a few miles' radius of where he was born, he was most definitely a larger than life person. He could be stubborn as a mule and twice as tough, but he was a fundamentally kind and fair-minded person, and I never heard anyone speak ill of him.

Although we're all feeling a sense of loss, his mind had decompensated badly after my grandmother's death a year and a half ago. I think that escaping in the lost corners of his mind was the only way he could get some temporary respite from his grief, though I don't think it gave him much comfort in the end. Her loss was devastating, and he wasn't able to recover from it. As difficult as it was for the rest of the family to deal with, for him it seemed like pure anguish trying to hold the mental demons at bay while he waited for his body to give out. And for as sad as it is to lose him, there's a definite relief that he can finally have some peace.

19 January 2012

Making Progress

I'm a little past the first repeat of the first color chart on my Luke's Diced Vest. I only do one or two rounds while we watch TV at night, but I think that keeps it from feeling like a slog. The red is einband Icelandic from Frelsi Farm here in Maine, and it's haloing ever so slightly, which is pretty much perfect.

18 January 2012

Sopapillas not SOPA/PIPA!*

Fortunately, it appears that my Congressional delegation is united in opposition to SOPA (the House bill), and its companion Senate bill PIPA, which is scheduled for a vote next week. Because of that upcoming vote, though, and because I don't always trust Snowe and Collins to follow through based on their expressed concerns, I just sent them both the following:

I am writing you to express my opposition to the Protect IP Act. I understand that your office has expressed concern about this measure, and I do hope that you will vote against this bill when it comes up next week. While I certainly understand and support the need to protect intellectual property, applying a ham-handed, scorched earth policy such as this is not an appropriate way to address the problem. It is akin to destroying the Interstate Highway system because somewhere, at some time, it might be used by criminals. As much as it would stifle the free exchange of ideas, it would also stifle innovation and commerce.

As a nation, these are not losses we can afford, especially given the current economic and geopolitical situation. While this bill may be well-intentioned, it is not well thought out, and I appreciate your help in defeating it.

My Representative, Chellie Pingree, has come out more forcefully, indicating her intent to vote against SOPA, but I still sent her a version of the above thanking her for her opposition. If you're a US citizen and you haven't taken a few minutes to contact the people who represent you in Congress, why not? If you don't know what to write, just copy, paste, and adapt what I wrote. Go ahead, I give you permission.

*I don't know that Congress should mandate sopapillas either, actually, but I probably wouldn't get too upset if they did.

08 January 2012

Luke's Diced, in Progress

Hopefully, this should work.

06 January 2012

Back in a Flash?

So, there really was going to be more of a report from Rhinebeck, but it seems that over several months, life has kind of continually sidetracked me from the blog. Anyway, it was a nice time. Busy, as usual, and we didn't see nearly everyone I would have liked, but such is life. We also had a nice day after hanging with my folks and seeing some of the sights in Hyde Park, so on the whole, it was another good Rhinebeck experience.

Yarn was also purchased, and there was supposed to be a photo here of my Luke's Diced Vest that's in progress, and in which I'm using some Rhinebeck yarns, among others. As it happens, though, Blogger and my phone seem to have communication issues, and it's already past my bedtime, so no pic tonight, I'm afraid.

I think part of the dearth of entries here is due to the Facebook effect. In fact, I'm sure of it. But I think that the shift in my work schedule also plays a role, since I don't have as much time for expository writing, which is what I've more typically done. The omphaloskepsis continues; it's just not making it to this medium. I could schedule time to blog, but I'm not sure I want it to feel too much like work.

So in the new year, I'm trying to decide how best to continue this. In a couple of weeks, I'm going to be starting an online Master of Public Health program through the University of Massachusetts, which is going to add about 50% to my level of busy. I may shift to shorter entries - longer than tweets but shorter than essays - and I may look into porting everything over to Tumblr or another platform. Blogger's got issues, aside from the aforementioned communication ones, and I'm not sure if I should stay in this neighborhood or find somewhere that suits me better.

Anyway, I'm still around, still living life, and looking forward to the new year.