Monday, April 20, 2015

In which I ask you to consider donating to a worthy cause

On Sunday, March 15th, 2015, Jason Parish was killed instantly when a dead tree fell on him while hiking on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. He had just spent an incredible weekend with two friends, Miki and Kelly, and they were ready to hike back to the truck, grab some pancakes, and then head home.

Hikers and campers on the scene did everything they could to save Jason, but there was nothing that could be done. Emergency repsonders from Brunswick Volunteer Ambulance made it to the remote scene in less than an hour.

All 3 were seasoned outdoorsmen, and had prepared for this trip. Maps were consulted, gear was inventoried, back-up plans were discussed. The morning of the accident, Miki and Kelly noted the windy conditions and acknowledged that as the 3 hiked out, they'd all have to keep an eye on the trees.

In the days following this tragic, untimely loss, Maryland Department of Natural Resources shut down the shelters to inspect trees and perform maintenance.

We are collecting money from friends, colleagues, family, strangers, and other lovers of the outdoors in the hopes of being able to make 3 significant donations in Jason's name to the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Brunswick Volunteer Ambulance, and First State Animal Center and SPCA. Additionally, we are collecting money towards a memorial plaque to (hopefully) be mounted at the shelter where Jason died.

Any and every amount helps. It is our goal to have these donations and plaque ready to go before September 2015. We set a modest initial goal of $2,500 and nearly met that in the first day. We've raised that goal to $5,000, and hope that each and every person who was touched by Jason's gentle, humble, generous spirit will contribute, allowing us the opportunity to make a substantial gift in Jason's memory.

We are 75% to our second, modest fundraising goal, and I know with your help, we can meet and beat that goal! Please visit, and donate today.

To hear Jason's music, check out this link.

News stories can be found at the following links:

Washington Post

Monday, June 30, 2014

Vegas - by the numbers!

(Or as autocorrect has insisted since maybe Thursday afternoon, Begas...)

4 blisters

3 of which are on the bottoms of my feet

1 temporary tattoo

1 pair of shoes

Number of times I want to see those shoes after 5:30pm tomorrow: 0. 

8 sessions attended

No, 10 sessions

2 boxes of books mailed back to work - 38 and 29 pounds each

4 cabs taken

2 bottles of wine for the room (for me)

35 floors up to get this view 

0 dollars spent gambling

4 publisher parties attended 

12 free drinks thanks to those publisher parties

30 minutes to get anywhere - even across the street

1 Dude

Countless authors including Judy Blume, Judith Viorst, Avi, Daniel Handler, Mo Willems, and Eric La Salle

Dozens of new contacts

2 healthy meals the entire time (frustrating!!!)

1 pedicure

1 sunburn

13 hours until I board a flight home

1 - number of times someone motorboated me over FaceTime

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Birthday Camping

This past weekend, Miki flipped another year on his biological calendar. We went camping out at Gifford Pinchot State Park to celebrate.  We'd been out there once before, and it was lovely - campsites that have lake access, two disc golf courses, hiking trails, and more. This time, we had the added bonus of absolutely gorgeous weather. We parked the car at the site and spent the rest of the weekend hiking, resting, or kayaking. It was just what we both needed.

Miki's weekend set-up.

Late afternoon paddle. 

Sunset on the first night. 

Sunrise on day 2. Miki never sleeps late while camping, and I never sleep well the first night away from home. We watched the mist roll off the lake to the left and then get caught up in the breeze, forming the cloud at the other end. It was spectacular.

We took a hike. 

Or, as Miki called it, we took a jike - that's a hike, in jorts. Here he's sporting the goose feather he found in a meadow. 

As usual, we ended up on the wrong trail (or, more precisely, a non-trail), so we had to double back some. Maybe if we hadn't taken the non-trail, I'd've not felt as strongly about hiking through ankle-deep muckity muck. At any rate, this orange turtle didn't care.

As we crossed a small stream, Miki stopped and pointed into the water. There was an empty turtle shell in the streambed. Laying down on the rustic bridge, he snagged it and popped back up to his feet. He carried that the rest of the way. 

Both times we've visited Gifford Pinchot, I have been struck by the beauty of the place. On Sunday afternoon, after nearly everyone else had left, I snuck over to the adjoining campsite and spotted this paddleboarder, and if you look dead center by the treeline, Miki fishing in his kayak.

Both nights we were treated to gorgeous sunsets. The second night, we had the bonus of a calm lake.

I love this photo. I've made it my lock screen, printed a color print and framed it on my desk at work. At the same time, Miki made it his work desktop. It's clearly a picture that makes us both happy.

Our last morning, after running 8 miles, Miki propped the skillet on a log and proceeded to finish off the sausage, egg, and veggie hash I'd fixed up. I call this hobo-style.

It was such a great trip, and we spent some time scoping out sites for our next visit. If I could go tomorrow, I definitely would. There's something to be said for turning off mobile devices and just taking in the world around you.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

I'm a hooker now!

Guess who learned to crochet finally?

Yup, me. 

This is my progress so far on a basic granny square blanket using sumptuous Quince & Co Lark. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

On house parties, hobos, and memories

Many years ago, we held our first house party. It was part housewarming, part open-house. We invited nearly everyone we knew - friends, coworkers, family, neighbors. Every 1,275 sq ft of the house was packed with merry-makers.

I wasn't really a crafter that long ago. I might have been creative, but I definitely didn't knit. Or spin. Or weave. I might've just started cross-stitching... Anyway, the point is, every room was free of the "secret" cache of crafty-bits - no ort jars, no open-this-and-shove-a-half-knit-sock-in-it drawers, no baskets overflowing with spinning fiber, no 36" wide loom looming in the corner of the dining room. Essentially, the house was cleaner, less cluttered, and still had that lingering stale cigarette scent from the previous owner.

The house was decked out for the holidays. In addition to the 1 full-size tree, I had a scattering of smaller trees decorated throughout the house. Every room had Christmas-ness going on! The beginning of my snowman collection was on display, too. Empty step on the staircase? Opportunity for a wintery vignette! Also, tripping hazard.

That was our first Christmas in the house, and I don't think we've decorated to that extent since. Sure, there were a couple of years when we had the artificial (but super-realistic) tree in the bedroom and installed a live tree downstairs. But mostly, we've scaled back on the Christmas decorations since we end up spending the holiday driving around and visiting nearby family. We've also spent more than one winter elbow-deep in some renovation or another - bathroom, electric, basement, bedroom, other bedroom, dining room...When we brought LucyCat into the house, I was more hesitant than usual to decorate, especially with any type of tree, simply because she was so super-skittish, uncoordinated, and I was sure there would be a Christmas decor massacre every morning. And night. I've fortunately been proven wrong the last few years - she's as uninterested in the decorations as she is uninterested in being held.

If I recall correctly, I did all of the food prep myself. No caterers for me! My mom came up and helped, and my dad was put in charge of spinning tunes in the basement as well as minding the chimenea outside. He came prepared for the night wearing a Carhartt one-piece. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground from earlier snowstorms, and the temperatures were definitely January-esque. The basement is unheated, and even more so when the Bilco door is propped open all afternoon and into the evening.

Throughout the party, people were invited to tour the house. By this point, we'd redecorated every living space. In each room, we had before and after pictures to show what we'd done. It was set up to be self-guided, and we definitely encouraged everyone to wander around. Having the whole house open to partying definitely helped with the crowd - I never felt like we had more than 25 folks in the house, but I know we had closer to 50. It was nice to see each room full of friends and family. Even the bathroom got some party action - I think we had 6 people in there at once!

At some point in the evening, Mike's bosses arrived. Their wives paired off and explored on their own, and I found them in the kitchen just before they left. They were talking to my mom about how lovely the house was, and how great of a job we'd done with the redecorating. The one wife was particularly impressed, though, with what we'd done for the homeless.

Boss 1's wife: "I didn't realize how selfless Mike and Heather were!"
Boss 2's wife: "It's very admirable what they are doing."
My mom, looking perhaps a little confused....
Boss 1's wife: "You know, because they've opened their house to a homeless man..."
Boss 2's wife: "...the man that lives in the basement?"
Me: "You mean my dad?"

Turns out, while everyone was traipsing through the house, anyone that braved the basement was told by my record-spinning, fire-poking father that he wasn't allowed upstairs, he lived in the basement, and he was homeless. And I imagine with him wearing the Carhartt oversuit and scuffed winter boots and a ratty knit hat, he very much looked the part of someone down on their luck.

I think it's time we throw another house party!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A very long swap

I have the best friends! A long time ago, I whined about having cold hands and no squirrel mittens. My friend Anj suggested she knit me mitts and I spin her a sweater's worth of fiber. Deal? Deal!

I'm still chugging along on the fiber (crafting ADD), but she's delivered on her end of the bargain!!! And just in time for more single-digit lows and a foot of snow....

Pattern is Hello Yarn, yarn is Quince & Co, and lining is handspun alpaca/yak/qiviut blend. 

Wherever I go, I will have two hands full of nuts!!!

Thanks, Anj!!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

It's my life

I'm laying belly-down across the bed, waiting my turn to shower, and PennyCat decides that my rear is the best place ever to nap. When Miki comes out of the bathroom, I slowly roll to the left and right to dislodge the cat. Instead of jumping off, she instead scoots to whatever end is up, as if she's log rolling. 

Miki: did I ever tell you about what I used to do with the barrels my brother would bring home?
Me: no....
Miki: wait, yesterday my boss told me he got a rain barrel for Christmas, and that it was under the tree. I said, did you know what it was before you unwrapped it? And he said, it was kinda obvious, and was only under a blanket. I said, well it could've been a rodeo clown in a barrel. He just walked away... Anyway, my brother would bring home these barrels, 55 gallon drums really, from work.
Me: yeah, that sounds about right....
Miki: and they were full of that super scrub stuff mechanics use, so my brothers and my dad would gothrough  one of those in a surprisingly short period of time. I mean, they didn't live at home anymore, but they had cars in the yard that they would work on-
Me: so, redneck times, yes?
Miki: yeah, redneck times. Whenever they emptied a barrel, though, I'd practice barrel rolling all over the back yard.
Me: now here is something I did not know about you!
Miki: and when I got really good at it, I'd barrel roll out front to show the neighbors. I could go from one side of the front yard to the other!
Me: you are a man of many talents...
Miki: is this going on the internet?
Me: yup.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Walk in the Woods

Miki and I took a couple of days off and hiked a short section of the Appalachian Trail.

We drove up to Mohican Outdoor Center on Friday night. We got there later than planned due to unexpected rush hour traffic in Allentown. No worries - we had 2 headlamps and a powerful LED flashlight. We set up camp as the chill crept into the evening, and then set out to make some dinner only to discover that the featherweight cooker no longer worked - instead, it spewed white gas everywhere. So, off to the nearest town, which offered us the choice of a Tractor Supply Store or an A&P. With no luck there, I turned to the internet, and found the closest Walmart was a mere 18 miles away.

Having procured a new cooker, we settled in for a hot meal around 9pm - not the early night we'd wanted, but hey, at least we could cook food! I think if we had not been able to get a cooker, that might have been a deal breaker for me.

After a hearty breakfast (diced ham, eggs, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and Africafe coffee), we broke camp, checked in with the rangers, and then hit the trail. I carried a 35-40lb pack, holding sleeping gear, cooking gear, food, first aid, maps, tent stakes, hammer, camp chairs, and a pump for the kayak (among other things):

The folks at Mohican "rented" (there was no fee or collateral involved...) trekking poles - I'd left mine at home, on the couch. Whoops! Trekking poles were a definite Must Have.

Miki carried the 10lb tent, a life jacket, a 56lb inflatable kayak, and used his paddles as trekking poles.

My husband is full of crazy ideas, and it seems that so far, the craziest of these ideas has involved this damn kayak. Remember a couple of years ago, when he all but gave up on life while kayaking from Philly to Carneys Point, NJ? Yeah.... This time around, his idea was to hike in from Mohican to Sunfish Pond, a mere 5 miles of uneven terrain.

I told him I had massive concerns about this idea, but that I was not going to tell him no. But, I also wasn't going to judge him if he got a mile in and decided to drop the kayak.

From Camp Road, the trail ascends for about a mile. It's rocky, and slow-going, even without the added weight of a backpack. We took lots of breaks - probably twice as many as we might have if one of us wasn't carrying 66 lbs on his back. After about 45 minutes, we found ourselves along the ridge. The trail at this point was narrow, with loose rocks and moss littering the path. Another hour, and we found ourselves at a rock face overlooking the reservoirs to the east.

We broke for lunch and dropped the packs. While soaking up the sun, a guided tour group came through. I envied their light packs out loud.

Back on the trail, we continued at a slow pace. The kayak was starting to wear on Miki and he needed to take lots of breaks. Every half mile (or less, maybe), he'd take a break, seeking out a large boulder to rest the weight of the pack on. I was, surprisingly, doing okay with the heavy pack. 

About 3.5 miles into, it became obvious that things weren't going well for Miki. He was taking more frequent and longer breaks. He started to fall behind, so I let him lead (and set the pace). I watched him as we continued to hike, and started to worry. He was barely picking his feet up for each step. He was making painful noises with each step. And, he was refusing to drop the kayak even though it had clearly become a terrible idea to bring it. I tried to be as encouraging as I could without seeming hokey or superficial, and maybe it made the difference. Still, I haven't seen him like this - physically - in a long time. Maybe ever... 

We took another (much-needed) break at a stream. This time, I dropped my pack too (so that I could go 100 feet off trail to pee) and Miki filtered some water for our 4 water bottles.

Packs back on, we got back on the trail. This part of the trail was fairly easy for a stretch, but that meant nothing for 145 lb Miki... The recommended pack-to-body ratio is 25-33% of your body rate. My man was carrying closer to half his body weight. Not cool. 

As we got closer to Sunfish Pond, each step seemed to be pure agony for him. We took another break (and there may have been crying....) and I looked ahead. Through the trees, I could see water! "Mike, Mike, LOOK! THE POND!!!" The last half of a mile was pure adrenaline and stubbornness for him as he pushed on, Hulk-style. The trail was no longer a route but a mere suggestion. Twigs, loose rocks, and fallen branches were all smashed, kicked, and plowed through, as he only had eyes for one thing.

Finally, we had made it the 5 miles to the tip of Sunfish Pond! There may have been a primal scream or two at this point. Miki dropped everything, secured the kayak in some brush (but at that point dared any other hiker to try - TRY - to hike it out at this point...), and then we continued south. To give him a break, I kept my pack on, even though the plan had been once he dropped the kayak, he'd take the pack from me. Aside from the utter pain in his back and hips, his shoulders were raw from the straps of the Yukon pack he'd used for the kayak.

We were now working against time. It was about 3:45 when we got to the pond, and we still had another mile to go. Seems totally doable, but the next 3/4 mile was over boulders and loose rock. Below is a photo from the January 2010 Miki and a friend took up to Sunfish Pond. This is the trail.

Slowly, we picked our way over and around the rocks. Halfway around the pond, I handed the pack over to Mike and took the 10lb tent. I carried that by hand until we got to the end of the pond, and we took another break. Another hiker had told us that the backpackers site was just another quarter mile ahead, so while we were both tired, we felt almost-victorious.

Using the rope from the Yukon pack for the kayak, I slung the tent over my shoulder messenger-bag style, and we plodded on again. Miki was clearly still delirious when he exclaimed from behind, "You look sexy as shit with that tent slung across your back!" 

1/4 mile turned out to actually be more like 3/4, but finally, just as the sun was setting, we arrived at the backpackers site.

We quickly set up camp, reveling in the awesomeness of a 4-season tent (it was TOASTY in there). There were about 30 or so other people camping with us, including kids as wee as 3 or 4. We put our food and trash in the bear box, and then hit the hay by 7pm. Our pillow talk consisted of looking at maps and figuring out a way to get to Sunfish Pond easilier. 

Yes. Easilier. 

Miki decided to NOT try to hike back with the kayak the next day. Instead, he'd go back to where we'd dumped it, paddle across the pond, and then hide it closer to the (easilier) trail access. He fell asleep quickly, and I spent the night worrying about him (I kept waking up to make sure he was breathing and hadn't had a heart attack) and worrying about the kayak (will someone steal it?).

The next morning, he got up and began making breakfast and coffee while I broke down camp. I was queasy, but figured it was hunger. I managed to eat half of a breakfast sausage before losing it behind a tree... I started to worry that the sausage was bad, or the beef jerky was bad, or the water was bad, but rationalized that Miki was eating and drinking the same things with no inkling of ill effects. I chalked it up to nerves and exertion.

We hit the trail just after 9. By 9:25, we were at the edge of Sunfish Pond.

He left me there and humped over to the far side of the pond to get the kayak. By 10:15, he was paddling over. A day hiker and his dog kept me company (and confirmed that the trail we looked at on the maps the night before was indeed the way to hike out with the kayak - mellow, river-side, a short 3 miles....).

The jury's out as to whether it was worth hiking in with a kayak, but I'm pretty sure he loved every second of his paddle on the pond. We made short work of packing the kayak, hid it in the brush, and then continued on northward. Day 2, things were so much better for him. He was carrying a stable pack, at an appropriate weight. I had the tent and life vest mini-Yukon-packed on my pack.

We even found a route that skirted the rockiest part of the trail around the pond, cutting the time to hike around it in half (and reducing the chances of twisting in ankle while hopping boulders). We hiked at a good clip, and were so focused on moving forward and getting back to the car, that we took a wrong-ish trail, following the double blazed trail to the left, rather than the single-blazed to the right. This was something of a long-cut (as opposed to a short-cut), but did offer spectacular vistas. We stopped for lunch (I ate a Larabar and did not vomit!). Here you can see the rain moving from the west to the east. You can also see a brilliantly yellow copse. 

We hit the stream from the day before, filling up on water again. As we hiked north, I found myself mentally counting all of the places we'd stopped the day before to take breaks. In some instances, there were barely 1,000 feet between them. I was increasingly glad that he'd hid the kayak at the pond. Day 2 would not have gone as well with it on his back...

Around 2pm, we reached the Large Pile of Rocks, a destination that the morning before, I'd thought was a complete joke. It is indeed a large pile of rocks! And on Sunday afternoon, it was crowded with people that seemed to all be part of the same group. As we hiked past, one of them eyed Miki's paddles and I quipped, "Oh, there's a story!" She replied, "We KNOW!" We stopped and told them the tale, and one of the group joked that Miki was going to get a trail nickname if he kept this sort of thing up. "Appalachia Paddle Boy!" Upon request, he hiked off using the paddles as trekking poles, and the group cheered raucously.

We were soon at the reservoir overlook. We stopped briefly, marveled it was barely 2:30, and kept on going. The trail followed the ridge for a bit more, before we began the descent.

With only the expected difficulties on the descent, we were back at the car by 3:30, and en route to Shawnee on the Delaware by 4pm. By 5, we were taking the best showers of our lives, and by 6, we were enjoying a delicious dinner. We were in bed by 8, and spent Monday morning enjoying 3 hours each of spa treatments. 

Overall, it wasn't a bad trip - and by that, I pretty much mean nobody died. Day 1 and Day 2 were opposites, for sure. I will definitely go backpacking again, but not with a 55lb kayak anywhere in the mix... I did much better than I ever expected I could do (and didn't even complain when it started to rain).

Friday, October 18, 2013

And for the 17th year in a row

Here we are again, 17 years after saying "I do" for the first time.


Happy anniversary to my best friend! Here's to another 17 years (and more)!


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Catching up!

Lots of things to share! Here are some of the highlights.

I FINALLY got my new motorbike back in early July. It's a 2013 BMW G650GS, and I couldn't be more happy.

Overall, the process to replace the stolen bike wasn't that bad - I just did not like waiting 2 months to get back on the road, you know? I'm still waiting on some accessories to come in, but am otherwise good to go! I haven't been riding it to work as much for a few reasons - I'm working in a new location, and there's no easy/free parking, I've been riding my bicycle to work, and some other things. After 2 months, I've finally hit 600 miles!

I've been crafting a LOT: spinning, weaving, sewing, knitting. I got a new-to-me loom, a Harrisville Designs 4h, 4t 36" beast. Fortunately, it folds up to a petite 14" or so depth, so I can sorta, kinda tuck it away in the dining room (for now! I'd love to get better shelving for the craft room, and eventually move the loom up there...).

The first project on that was a set of tea towels as part of an exchange. It was a great learning experience, and proof that I need to weave more to continue to improve my skills. The tea towels came out FABULOUS, but there are no photos of those to be shared - yet. The yarn was an unplied four-strand that made for an interesting warping (hundreds of cobwebby ends tangling as I tried to thread the heddles... Not enough wine* in the world!).

In July-ish, I spun and then knit this shawl:

And I spun this yarn and knit most of one shawl before frogging it and then starting and finishing THIS shawl:

Many thanks to my dear friend Anj for taking the two shawl photos!

Finally, I went on a shirt-making binge in August. Last year, I made 2 shirts, and the year before I made 1. I wear those shirts about once a week in the summer, and wanted to add a few more OOAK tops to the wardrobe.

This is McCall's 5640, and I cannot wait to make another one! I have fabric for 2 more shirts, and I think one of them will become a 3/4 sleeve version of this pattern.

And this one is the Schoolhouse Tunic from Sew Liberated. I've made this one before, and love the first one MUCH more (I'm wearing it today as well as in the first shawl photo above...). It's mostly due to the fabric, a super-light, gauzy cotton that just flows and hangs and whatever the right way. The yellow one I just made WILL soften with wear and washing, but there were other issues with it. I made it way too big, so had to do a lot of alterations. I thought the bodice was too long, so ending up shortening that (and now I think it's too high...). I neglected to cut the sleeves on the fold, so I have 2 sleeve seams (though I tried carefully to piece those two halves so that it doesn't look TOO obvious). I also took the skirt in by about 4 inches, and I like that alteration the best.

*That's another post for another time - soon?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Birthday Toast

Over the last few months, I've been planning a semi-surprise party for my husband's 40th. I'd toyed around with a few different ideas, but in the end, I kept it simple. We had a few of our closest friends over, and capped the evening with a tiny house concert featuring musician-friends Jason and Jess (that was the surprise part).

Before the concert started, I made this toast:

Thank you for joining us this evening as we celebrate the man of the hour. Whether you know him as Mike, Miki, Sparksy, or Zipperboy, you are all aware that he possesses a certain ... shall I say, essence.

I'm not going to bore you with any embarrassing tales about his first 40 years on this planet. You already probably know about the time a neighbor had to remove a tick from his delicate bits (he was, what, 12?). And you know about the time he was bit by the acting bug and decided to perform as a dung beetle, naked, in front of a sliding glass door. There's a reason we no longer have cable and I'm looking at you, Animal Planet.

You'd think this means he likes the creepy crawlies, right? Not so much - you've all heard about the time he vaulted over a couch after seeing a wasp in our first apartment. I'm pretty sure that's how the original kung fu got started - 1 man, 1 wasp, hi-ya! Or how about the Attack of the Cicada last year - remember how he defended himself with a 1/2 gallon of melting ice cream (no ice cream was wasted, FYI).

The year you were born, Miki, was a good one, and not just because Marvin Gaye released "Let's Get It On", or Aerosmith sang "Dream On", or Elton John graced us with "Candle in the Wind" (and "Benny and the Jets"). Nor is it because the Wailers jammed out with "Get Up, Stand Up", or because Slade wooed us with their power love ballad, "Cum on Feel the Noiz".

1973 was a good year because suddenly, there was you. Sweet, innocent, and optimistic. What the hell happened? But seriously, I've known you since September 1990, when we sat across from each other in our drafting class, Supe at the helm with his enormous sausage fingers. I can honestly say that you've not only aged well, but that you've definitely gotten better with age (that is what she said). Just before your 21st birthday, you swept me off my feet for the 2nd time - for real, for real - and I can only hope that - with as little touching as possible - you'll sweep me off my feet every day, every week, and every year, again and again and again.

Happy Birthday, my love. And you know, 40's not that old - if you're a tree.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Have you seen her?

My poor little motorbike was snatched from outside of the house sometime last Sunday night. And, after a day of going back and forth with the police, it was finally listed as stolen early Monday evening.

Happier times - returning from motorcycle camping last June

I worked last Sunday afternoon - a beautiful, sunny, blue sky kind of day. I got off around 5, and didn't complain when I had to take the long way home (detoured due to an event along the river drives). I'm glad I had the extra mile or so of twists and turns through parts of Fairmount Park. And, when I finally got home, after filling the tank for the coming week, I went about all of my normal routines: pull up, turn off, kickstand down, push it the rest of the way into its spot, lock the fork, remove helmet and gloves, lock them in the trunk case, enter the back yard, enjoy some wine. Or was it whisky?

When we put our trash out that night, the bike was still there, nestled behind Big Blue, the Wacky Sacky, just like usual. All was right in the world of Sparks.

Monday morning, I lazed in bed a bit longer, pinned by cats. When I got up, I did what I always do - look out of one of the windows facing the backyard. A long time ago, before there was the Kawasaki, there was the vintage Honda. Mike had a love/hate relationship with the little bike (similar to how I felt about my vintage Honda). He'd park it in the street, pretty much where my bike is in that picture above, and it was largely untouched. Except, over the course of just a couple of months (mere weeks, really) his bike was knocked down not once, but twice. These older bikes don't enjoy that sort of abuse, so every time it was knocked down, it was not just a matter of getting it up again (TWSS), but then performing some level of maintenance. So, I got into the habit of checking for another toppled bike every morning.

Then, when I got my wee Honda and nestled it up next to his Wacky Sacky, I continued checking the newly installed bike pad just to get a little bit of a squee feeling whenever I 1. saw the bike, and then 2. made the connection that it was Mine!!! I am an easily amused badass.

It makes perfect sense that I then continued this habit when I got Trixie (named for Speed Racer's girlfriend, and because at first, this bike was tricksy to ride, compared to a 200cc vintage Honda). You can imagine the anal chill I felt when I peeked out first the craft room window and then the entertainment room window, before going outside in my garden gnome pajama pants, hoping that maybe, just maybe, Mike had parked my bike in a neighbor's driveway, only to find that there was no bike anywhere.

I spent the day trying to find it. Of course, I called the police first. There was a report called in that the bike had been found, but I was given the wrong address. After nearly 10 hours of waiting and both physically running and getting the run around, the bike was officially marked as stolen. 

My disappointment in the system is currently immeasurable. I know that in the scheme of crimes, a motorcycle being stolen does not trump homicide or rape or kidnapping. But, at the same time, none of those other things happened to me. My heretofore safely parked motorbike was gone, and it turns out that protocol wasn't followed for recovering it (the officer that finally responded to my second 911 call said that if a vehicle is found [as I'd been told around 9am], they are to "sit on it" until the owner or the tow gets there, and that was not done). 

As each hour, and then each day, passed, my hope for finding it waned. By Thursday, I didn't want to see it ever again. Unfortunately, this is not an attempt at leading you to a happy reunion. I've gotten no news about the bike. 

Fortunately, I have full coverage insurance, something that I am likely never to give up AND that I hope to never have to use again. The peace of mind I've had this week is due in part to having sufficient insurance. The other peace of mind comes from two sources: one is the outpouring of support from friends and family. From gentle pleas for updates, to offers of motorbikes as lenders, to rides home and to possibly recover the bike, to Facebook reposts, and everything, I am beyond grateful. 

The final source? Amusement. Somewhere, there's a thug or a wannabe or self-declared I-don't-give-a-shit-Bad-Guy who may or may not be getting the business from his partners-in-crime over stealing a bike with squirrel reflectors, "heart"a librarian bumper sticker, and a sheep decal. Also, if whoever it is breaks into the cases, they will find a Buff that should've been laundered maybe 2 weeks ago, but instead is covered in an assortment of neck sweat and snot.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My one regret from Rhinebeck 2011 was NOT getting a Loop! Spontaneous Spinning Bump, so I was very excited to nab one this past fall. Now, my one regret is not getting more than one*, because hubba hubba, hallelujah, this was so awesome to spin!

I ended up with Autumn Hike, a merino/silk blend. I don't think I have pictures of the bump pre-spun, partly because I started spinning it as soon as I left the fairgrounds. The color changes were so subtle when spinning that I didn't realize the extent of their shift until after I caked the finished yarn.

I almost didn't want to do anything but lovingly gaze at this cake of n-ply gorgeousness, but I couldn't resist the call of my loom. 552 yds of sock-weight gradient looks like this when warping:

This was only my second large weaving project, so I took my time threading the heddles, adjusting the tension, winding the warp, and all that. Then, I labored over what to use for a weft. I wanted something that would coordinate and almost blend in with the warp; and I also wanted something that would fade into the background, so to speak - warp-faced, I guess. After a few failed attempts at finding a weft, I found the perfect fiber in the bottom of my stash, and set to spinning it up.

This is a blend from Kid Hollow Farm that I picked up a few years ago. Before spinning, I hand-carded it once to blend it just a bit more. Then, I spun it fine and plied it to an ethereal laceweight. It's a mohair/border leicester blend that has sheen, softness, and a fuzzy halo. Basically, it's the best.

I had the loom warped for quite a few weeks while I went about finishing (and, ahem, starting) other projects. But eventually, I got to the point where I had some weaving time, and went to town. It took all of a few afternoons/evenings to finish the weaving! It went fast for a couple of reasons: I took the time to really set up the warp, and I deliberately beat the weft so that it would have lots of space - I wanted this to be light and airy. I didn't calculate the yardage on the weft, and I wish I had - I feel like I used next to nothing, maybe 250 yards, over a 65" warp.  Below is just the first 1.5", but you get the idea.

I hemstitched both ends (the start looks better than the finish), then twisted the fringe. Then, I ran some hot water and wool wash in the tub - maybe 2" - and agitated things a little bit. The weft and warp played really well together! Here's a close-up of sorts:

And here're some FO shots:

I am so pleased with how this came out - it's exactly what I wanted it to be.

*I've got 2 - YES, TWO - more bumps coming my way.