the spiritual side of sweater slip-ups

So I made a beautiful sweater, the first sweater I ever made for myself, actually. It was a massive project. I was so excited to finish it this week. I wore it for one minute to photograph it. Then I ruined it in the washing.

my sweater. before.

my sweater. before.

I thought I'd try a hand-wash cold cycle in the machine, since I have to wash my sweaters at least once a week due to baby vomit, and hand-washing in the sink takes an hour, and I don't have an hour to wash sweaters. It still seems like a good idea to me, actually. But just the motion of the washing machine felted the wool. 60 hours of work and in 30 minutes it was ruined.

In a way I'm sort of glad that I ruined this sweater. Far worse things could have happened. I could have built my own house and saw it burn to the ground. I could have lost my wedding ring down a storm drain.

There is a sort of freedom that comes when I do something terribly stupid. Of course I'm an idiot. Of course I do stupid things all the time. That's my nature. That's why I need God all the more. If I do anything right ever it's because God helped me. Without God, everything I do quickly turns to shit. It's freeing to think that there's no middle ground. As much as I wanted that sweater, I want God more.

I keep imagining disappointments that could feel worse. I could have moved across the country to start a church that never got off the ground. I could have lost a pregnancy. I could have been the australian relay runner who trained her ass off for years to get to the Beijing olympics, only to have the US runner fall into her lane before she ever got to pass her baton. (ed. note: I tried and failed to find a picture of this. I can tell you from my memory though, that the woman looked wicked super pissed.) I have a high opinion of Australians, so I imagine after the foot-stomping was over she went back home to her massive sheep farm and went on with life. If a reporter asked her about it the olympics she'd be all, "Yeah it was disappointing, but things like this happen. Stop running??? Why would I stop running? I run all the time. You got to around here, mate, to avoid all the poisonous snakes."

And there's something else. I take a lot of pride in my knitting. Too much pride, probably. Pride is a sin, and how much worse if you stretch it out over 60 hours of thinking, "Everyone is gonna think this looks so good. Everyone is going to be so impressed by my craftiness." I love knitting, but I don't want to spend my free time weaving garments of condemnation upon my soul. I want God more. I want to stitch away thinking, "Let this glorify you somehow, Jesus."

Dan said something very encouraging yesterday. He said: "You're so brave to make big things that can get ruined." I think this needs to be true for crafting and for everything. Let's admit there's an element of risk in doing big things. Let's lean into that risk anyway.

Dan things the sweater is salvageable. We put mason jars in the sleeves to stretch them as they dry, and I'll see where things end up in a few days. Maybe it could come out as some sort of tight pullover. If not, I can always felt it some more and cut it up for slippers. 60-hour slippers. I don't want to think too hard about it.

more

a video for the Jesus Project

I made this movie for The Jesus Project, a thing our church is doing over Lent which charges us to to try some sort of creative project about Jesus. I thought I'd make a movie about talking faith with my kids. Which of course didn't work. So instead I made a movie about that not working.

It took me a long time to get the footage and an even longer time to sort through it, which is my excuse for the rather poor editing. Still, I'd rather something crappy soon than something perfect never, and I think Jesus is with me on this.

somewhat leonine; and snowman adventures

Harvey playing in a little bit of snow

not much, but the best we've seen so far

We enjoyed the first realish snowstorm of winter proper the end of last week, with March coming in with a very satisfactory lion-like storm. Unfortunately, it was so warm that a day and a half of snow produced about 3 inches of total accumulation (though it was awful dense!), and the snow was also followed by a fair amount of rain Saturday morning. But the afternoon turned nice enough to let us play outside.

Waiting for me to get my things together Harvey dug a little in the snow and told me that he thought there was enough to make a bunny hole. Since by that he meant a totally awesome snow cave in which he could sit comfortably upright, I was sadly forced to inform him that that would not be possible. Instead, we made a snowman.

Harvey fashioning a snowman

a careful touch

He was very fond of our creation, only disappointed that we couldn't make it a talking snowman. He spent a fair amount of time hugging it.

Harvey hugging his snowman

lovey

In fact, so enamored was he that he wanted me to stick him to the snowman with snow or, failing that, to cover himself with snow (I suppose to be more like the snowman?). He worked hard for a while, but to his considerable distress it just wouldn't stay on.

closeup of Harvey's knee as he tries to stick snow on it

he's not sticky enough

If the snowman couldn't have Harvey it could at least have a baby made entirely of snow to console it, and Harvey could be consoled inside with dry pants and a story and an imminent departure to Grandma's house for my birthday party. So everyone survived.

the snowman holding a baby snowman

this might be the only way we get more snow this year

more

about dada

Can I talk for a second about my favorite person in the world?

the future mama and dada

If he's going somewhere, I want to be following.

goin good places

The best combo cook, gardener, handiman, lulliby singer on the planet.

the best boys

Happy birthday Danny! Every year I get to spend with you is a good year.

more

local action

Local politicians in Bedford are working on the town's latest 10-year comprehensive plan, and since we have an open town meeting that means everyone! Or at least everyone who was willing to come out at 9:30 on a Saturday morning. Like us! Except we were like 20 minutes late. Oh well, they still let us in.

the transportation session at the Bedford planning meeting

concerned citizens

That's a picture of our breakout session, which covered transportation issues. As it turns out, everyone interested in transportation planning is pretty anti-car, which is kind of cool. It also makes sense: the only complaint that car-exclusive folks have is that there's too much traffic, and the only way to deal with that (in our little town at least) is to make it harder for any individual to drive here. Rational actors obviously recognize that and are thus committed to the status quo.

Among the crazy hippies at the meeting, though, the general consensus was we need to do a lot to make the town more walkable and bikeable (and better connected to public transportation). I'm sure the political process will water down some of our more fervent desires—car-free days? passenger travel on mail trucks? neither particularly likely to become reality—but the strength of desire for something other than more parking spaces was pretty heartening.

The other sessions were pretty cool too. Folks looking at land use reported wanting more scope for agriculture, and a kitchen incubator (which I didn't even know was a thing) for the commercial district right around the corner from us—totally awesome. There was also a lot of talk about increasing density in a few areas while keeping open space, and about preserving the small-town feel we've got going on while keeping things moving forwards in other ways; pretty good all around. Who knew we lived in such a progressive town?! Go Bedford.

Zion playing with a meeting handout

he's a pro with the paperwork

Oh, and Harvey and Zion were perfect angel children throughout the whole three-hour meeting. The New Jerusalem is imminent.

more

Photo farming

The nice weather today gave the boys a house-destroying case of spring fever, so we headed out to Drumlin farm for a mid-week field-trip. Sometimes I forget that I'm allowed to do that.

milk man

We got a real treat: lambs just born this morning! Also a practically empty farm for us to play in. The place was so quiet that Harvey and Zion had the whole egg area to themselves!

masters on the egg domain

Giving me plenty of time to take some portraits of my little baby farmer model.

floor baby

Harvey and Zion sat together on the retired tractor, and I tried to get a good shot of the two of them without either falling off to grave injury. It was tricky. Still, worth the feeling of wonder looking through the camera and thinking My how these boys look like brothers.

Harvey and Zion on a tractor

fighting to drive

more

leisure time

On Thursdays I only work a half day: the teachers and administrators in Lexington need their weekly professional development time, but the kids and assistants get the afternoon off (when it comes to professional development—and many other things—we assistants are left entirely to our own devices). I'm always tempted to use the time to get things done, just as Leah is tempted to use my presence to allow herself to get things done—because heaven knows there's a lot that needs to get done around here. Cooking, cleaning, researching, organizing, crafts; those baskets won't weave themselves! But as much as we're working on enjoying the labor these days, there is something to be said for taking some time off. So we went for a bike ride.

Just like last time it was tremendously windy (our local airport recorded a gust of 46mph while we were out and about), but the bizarrely warm weather as long as we weren't being knocked from our bicycles we didn't mind too much. Plus we also changed things up a bit by taking to the woods, which blocked the wind considerably. And then what wind we could feel had less effect that it might have had we been going faster than two or three miles an hour, the best we could manage through the clinging mud. Five or six miles of that, and then the same on the road on the way home, ought to earn us some kind of medal!

After that it was off to the food pantry for dinner and then the library for an hour or so; thence home and to bed for the kids and, after a reasonable amount of pleasant companionship, for the parents as well. So not much got done, but that's ok: now we're ready for tomorrow.

more

Sweater update

So after several tears and much wet stretching, the sweater is somewhat wearable. The flare that used to be for the hip is now up at the waste, making it a somewhat unflattering babydoll-type shape that'll come in handy next time I'm pregnant. For my own vanity I won't include any of the full body shots. I'll just focus on the positive and say it's nice to have a warm sweater for holding a baby on a chilly morning.

mama holding zion and wearing her new sweater

snug and warm, both of us.

(Yes, that's the Octokaidekapus t-shirt I made for Harvey.)

And when sitting and snuggling isn't sufficiently entertaining for a 10-month-old, the bell-shaped sweater works for dancing around the kitchen too.

mama dancing in the kitchen in new sweater

feeling flouncy

Meanwhile... watch out. Mama's got a new hobby. More on that next week. Tease tease.

beginnings of a basket

dun dun dun

more

crafting with kids

Doing crafts with your kids is very important, because it exposes them to a project that takes you hours to prep and even more hours to clean up. No, just kidding. It's really important for some reason. To make the other mothers feel guilty, probably.

pieces of joseph

not yet technicolored

These are some pieces I prepped for our smallgroup to create Joseph dolls, complete with custom-designed multi-colored coats. Harvey made his early as a demo. And then insisted on taking him everywhere. "Can I take my joseph in the wagon with me?"

joseph in the wagon

it's a long wagon ride to Egypt

He also said adorable things like, "Mama! Zion's trying to eat the coat of many colors!"

butterfly footprint card

as seen in their natural habitat, under a refrigerator magnet

In the same vein, I made these butterfly footprints with the kids for valentine's day. It's not so hard to do, really. First you spread paint evenly over every surface in your kitchen. The kids walk all around getting paint on their feet. They you wait for one to kick you and at the last minute, BAM, hold up a piece of paper. Repeat for other side.

No, I'm just kidding, the actual process is slightly more messy.

I've been thinking about the difference between doing "art projects" with the kids and just doing art. The former is contained within a clear set of steps, and there's a final product in mind. The latter is an invitation to make a big mess, but theoretically more creatively engaging.

harvey painting

artiste hard at work

I think I'm in favor of free-form art, at least until Harvey's finished products approach something I can coach into presentability. Or until he can do a craft kit on his own without asking me to do EVERY SINGLE STEP for him. (Dude! If I wanted to make a doll myself I'd make a BETTER one.) Now if only I could get him to stop drawing on the toys. ("But Grandma did it!" he says. I guess we all just have different metrics for how much we're willing to suffer for art.)

more

the gospel of Harvey the Pirate

These days I am spinning stories about Harvey the Pirate whenever Harvey the toddler is in need of a distracting interlude. Harvey the Pirate is a good pirate (says Mama) who sails his ship on the high seas and rescues treasure from the King's enemies. Yesterday at lunch I was recounting how Harvey the Pirate saved a schoolbus of children from a deserted island. I know that doesn't make sense. I had only half a brain turned on at the time; I was trying to eat my lunch.

"Can you tell me about Harvey the Pirate in the belly of the fish?" asked Harvey.

"Okay," I say. "One day Harvey the Pirate fell off his boat. God arranged for a great fish to swallow Harvey the Pirate. And he was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. And Harvey the Pirate prayed to his God from the belly of the fish - "

"Noooooo," interrupts Harvey. "He didn't pray. He just couldn't see anything down there."

"Oh, okay. So he didn't pray. And the fish vomited Harvey the Pirate onto dry land. And from there he went to Nineva and spoke out against it because its evil ways had offended the Lord."

"Can you tell me another story about Harvey the pirate?"

"Well, if we're on this kick, one time Harvey the Pirate was crossing the sea of Galilee when a terrible storm came up. And the wind was blowing and the waves were crashing, but Jesus was asleep on the deck of the boat. So Harvey the Pirate woke up Jesus and said, 'Don't you care? We're perishing!' And Jesus said to the wind, 'Stop blowing!' and he said to the waves 'Be calm!' and they were! And Harvey the Pirate said quietly, 'I think this is the son of God!'"

"Ha ha," Harvey laughs. "Can you tell me about Harvey the Pirate nailed to a cross?"

"um, well, okay. Harvey the Pirate was nailed to a cross next to Jesus. And there was some other guy on the other side of Jesus, and the other guy was mocking Jesus saying, 'If you're the son of God get us all down from here!' but Harvey the Pirate said to Jesus, 'Don't listen to him. Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' And Jesus said to Harvey the Pirate, 'Truly I tell you, this evening you will be with me in paradise.'"

"There's a tomb in that story."

"Yes, er, then they were all laid in a tomb. Jesus and Harvey the Pirate and this other guy."

"But then other people came."

"Yes, other people came to the tomb and Jesus wasn't there. The angel said, 'Jesus is alive!' And they were happy. Hurray! The end. Now at your lunch."


Golly. I hope Harvey stops asking for these kind of stories by the time he's old enough to find this upsetting.


(Now for a joke only Dan will appreciate: Earlier Jesus had said, "You ask to see miraculous signs. I tell you the truth. No other sign will be given except the sign of Harvey the Pirate. For just as Harvey the Pirate was three days in the belly of the fish, so the Son of Man will be three days in the depths of the earth.)

more

my first basket

In 2003 I drove across the country, bound for my new life in California. As my friends and I traveled through Indian country, all I could talk about were baskets. These baskets are incredible! Have you seen these baskets! Look more baskets! My friends were somehow unmoved by the amazingness of basketry (Hi Oona! Hi Janet! Can you believe you put up with me for two whole weeks?). But I had met a burning passion in myself and I knew with certainty: One day I would weave baskets.

Fast forward nine years. The life in California didn't work out (at least it started this blog!) but I never lost my desire to some day pick up basket weaving. Then I saw this book in the new books section of the library and it all came together in my mind. Now is the acceptable time. Now is the time to make Zion an easter basket.

basket being woven

in process, curious head in the background

Baskets are made out of reed (i mean, usually. That's like saying sweaters are made out of wool, but whatever...) Reed come in various sizes and widths for different purposes. So the stakes of the basket are a different size from the weavers, and then you need something else for the rim and a further size to lash the rim down. Reed is sold in one pound bunches, which give you a lot of baskets worth of material but means you're like $80 in before you can start your first project. That seemed a little daunting to me, so I bought a single-basket kit to hedge against the possibility I wouldn't like the hobby.

basket without rim

before adding handles and rim. Displayed with the other random crap I was working on.

Why would I think I wouldn't like it? Obviously because I'm crazy. Of course I'd love it. Because oh my goodness, it's basketry! It is to knitting what crack is to cocaine.

The directions for this basket say 5 hours, and that's probobly right. I had this on the kitchen table in various stages for about two weeks, though the weaving part went really quickly. It was the wittling for the handle that took longer than fun. I'm not really a big fan of wittling it turns out. So much scraping and not getting anywhere, and it hurts my hand. At one point I said to Dan, "This is stupid. Can't I just BUY a basket handle?"

And he was like, "Leah, you can just buy a basket."

the finished basket

dah duh dah

Here is the finished basket. I know, a cat's head shape isn't really traditional for easter, but it was the best kit I could find. Plus the swing handle is super fun to play with. I might just make Zion another easter basket and save this one for gathering eggs. That is, if I can get it away from Mr Grabby McGrabbersons.

harvey stealing the basket

hey! I was trying to photograph that!

Harvey, meanwhile, is adament that he doesn't need a new easter basket. He's pretty attached the the CVS white-painted version that Grandma got him two years ago. But he's more than happy to play with "Zion's basket," and just now asked me if I was going to make Zion another basket to put toys in. Oh Harvester, you know me all too well. There's about $80 of reed on its way to us as we speak.

more

boring administrative news

We switched web hosts overnight. It was rather easier than last time, due to good planning (and, you know, just general intelligence) on my part. Some things still might not work quite right; I'm working on fixing what I know about as time allows, but feel free to point them out to me, as I might not have noticed: general intelligence only gets you so far on four hours of sleep.

Also, people with mail at squibix.net might have to get in touch with me to get a new password; in no cases could I remember the old ones.

more

weeding the seedlings

We're into serious seed-starting season here, and just to keep things interesting I've run into an entirely new problem. Over the winter mice got into the grass seed in the basement, which is fine—it was oldish and the mess cleaned up easily—but as well as eating much of it they also buried a fair amount in my seed-starting medium. So, despite the probable poor germination rates of the four-year-old grass seed, when treated to the premier seed-starting conditions we provide here at the squibix farm enough of the the little grasslings have been able to emerge alongside the authorized sprouts. Imagine my surprise!

This isn't more than a minor annoyance for most of the plants, because the grass seedlings, monocots as they are, are pretty clearly different from the cute little seed leaves of the tomatoes and peppers. The onions, though, are very grass-like in appearance (or the grass very onion-like) so I take more time that I should trying to figure out which is which (and then to cut the grass sprouts off below the surface of the soil in order to not disturb the other seedlings by pulling them). Good thing I do this all for fun, or I might wonder if it's really worth it!

I'm also thinking about growing a very small demonstration lawn. At about one-foot by two it wouldn't be too hard to mow by hand, would it?

more

weekend chickening

We mucked out the chicken coop this weekend, the first time I performed this bianual chore. I really wanted to write "I mucked out the chicken coop," because I want to be all confident farmer about these things, but the truth is that I couldn't do it all myself because I needed Dan to tip the wheelbarrow to the right level. And help me find a board to put over the coop entrance. And the shovel. And oh Lord I'm so hopeless by myself out there in the yard.

chicken muck in the compost

poop and pop, both hard at work

That's the used chicken bedding on the left hand side compost bin. As Dan said, "That's the least mucky muck you'll ever have to muck." But enough about me. Harvey was OVERJOYED to play in the newly cleaned out coop.

harvey in the chicken coop

hey, who invited this guy in? they both wonder

He enjoyed being up close with the chickens and even pet some of them! I get so excited when Harvey's brave. He isn't always (understatement of the year.)

harvey talking to a chicken

getting to know you

Since the weather was so eerily lovely we also treated the chickens to their first backyard free-ranging adventure.

chicken next to the garden

she only wanted to eat the grass

In the six months since we've had them outside we've only let them in their little enclosed area. When they were small I was afraid of hawks. And I'm still pretty afraid of hawks, actually. But I think a little supervised backyard time is good for everyone. The chickens love picking in the bushes, Dan would like them to eat grubs from the garden, and Harvey is crazy excited to run around and herd them in the yard. Even Zion liked watching the festivities, as long as he had something in his hands to chew on.

zion with a ball

enjoying baby-style

The only one who doesn't appreciate the exercise is Rascal. We locked him in the house for obvious reasons, and he spent the hour yapping and howling and trying to rip a hole in the door. Maybe he'll learn to play nice one day. I hope so, because I do have fun acting like our backyard is a barnyard. And it gives me an excuse to pick up four fuzzy chickens when it's time for them to go back in their home.

mama holding a chicken

hen mother

My God, how thin I look! From now on I only wish to be photographed from above and holding a chicken.

more

handmade-me-downs

One big bonus to having two boys is that clothes I made for Harvey get a second life as handmade-me-downs. Remember these pants I made for Harvey? When he was walking around and all? Well they're now gracing this cute crawling bottom.

zion in harveys tan pants

budding cyclist

Or the octokaidekapus t-shirt. Here it is on Harvey and then on Zion.

Harvey modeling his oktokaidekapus shirt

18 arms to hold you

zion in octo shirt

wigglin

What is it with my babies making Rollin with the Homies hand gestures anytime I try to take their picture?

Anyway, it gives me incentive to work up some more upcycled pants once the Easter sewing madness is done. And by done I mean began. And also middled. It's so difficult when playing on the porch is so much more adorable!

zion smiling in the high chair

cheese!

more

return from exile

signs and barricades closing off the bike path

how can they do this to me?!

For the past couple of months the Lexington DPW has been working on the bikeway, and for the last three or four weeks they've been working on the part of the bikeway that I use to get to work. For some reason they didn't let me ride through, though I'm sure I could have gone around the trucks and things on the grass. Instead I was exiled to the road, forced from my calm and secluded path onto surfaces much less convivial. In fact, I'm pretty sure some of the drivers were trying to kill me.

In their defense, they were just trying to get to work, and they probably didn't know that I was too. Also their vehicles are much bigger, which gives them greater moral standing; and I had the potential to hold them up, while if they got in my way I could just go around them. So it was totally fine for them to honk and try and run me off the road!

Actually, it wasn't that bad. I'm pretty confident on the bicycle, and probably just as much of a jerk as most of the drivers—I totally know how to take the lane if necessary. When the detour had me going through Lexington Center I even occasionally enjoyed being able to outpace traffic-slowed cars over a mile-and-a-half distance. Still, while thrilling, the experience was not particularly conducive to a generous state of mind upon my arrival at work: something about people threatening your life to get somewhere 15 seconds faster tends to bring out the rage, I'm afraid. And when the work shifted west a bit and I was driven onto this—well, forget it!

But now the barricades are down and my early-morning peace-of-mind has returned. I can ride as fast or as slow as I want, and my mind is free to wander to plans for the garden or future blog posts. All is right with the world—or would be, at least, if the two months of closures had included time for repaving all the sections of path that were ripped up for the work. Oh well, at least I'm better off than the roller-bladers.

more

garden scrounging

Even though today wasn't nearly as warm as the last few days, we put in some heavy gardening time. The season has been opened, so we have to keep moving even if it's cold and gray. Today we enlarged the garden a bit and put in peas, with help from our reliable farm-hand Kyle. But that wasn't all: Harvey and I also took a little expedition to the woods to fetch back some things that've been catching my eye for some time.

Harvey's wagon loaded with a rhodadendron and a large timber

no room for passengers

We'll use the big timber—it's actually the cross-piece of a telephone pole—to edge the raspberry bed and make it easier to mow the grass along it. I noticed it lying near the edge of the woods, oh, two years ago and always meant to bring it out, but it was inaccessible summers due to the heavy growth of poison ivy that surrounded it. And winter, of course, I wasn't thinking of mowing. The past few days, though, the plants have been springing up and out in fast-forward, so I figured the time was perfect to finally grab it (if that's the right term for so heavy a thing). There was a little green on the dreaded plants, but the cold meant that I was bundled up pretty good. No rash yet.

As for the plant, I only noticed it a few months ago. Someone took out a rhododendron and threw the stump a couple feet back in the woods, maybe last year, and thanks to the indomitable nature of the species (they're currently trying to take over our front porch and side stairway) it didn't die. Maybe it'll even bloom this year so I'll know what color it is before I decide what to do with it! Because I have no idea—I just knew I couldn't let it sit there where it was any longer. Thing's worth like thirty bucks! We'll plant it around here somewhere, or else give it to my parents; Mom, do you want any more rhododendrons?

Harvey was very excited about the whole thing until he realized there wasn't any room for him to ride back in the wagon. Actually, he didn't precisely realize it, and over the course of the walk home—it was all of a quarter mile—he must have asked me some two dozen times if he could ride. Failing that, he wanted uppy. Of course, there was no hope of either happening; it was all I could do to keep that load moving at all. I must say, the wheel and axle is a marvelous invention.

Only one person saw us bringing the bounty home (besides the neighbor kids, that is, and they already know we're crazy). She gave us kind of a look, but I just smiled because a score like that was totally worthwhile. We'll have to go back soon; there are some very attractive-looking rocks that I've had my eye on for a while.

more

on organizational communitation

One of the reasons that I'm an anarchist is that I'm uncomfortable with the way communication—and, by extension, control—works in large organizations. And by large, I mean any bigger than, say, fifteen people. Think of a committee meeting. It's set up to let people address their grievances and to come up with a plan for fixing them. All the participants work together, and while they may have their disagreements they can get along and with the best will in the world want to solve them in a way that will please everyone. And yet.

How does this work out? Each person thinks of what they want to say, and then needs to translate that into appropriate language to share with the group. Whoever is taking notes processes what he hears and translates it again, into language that can be written down and fits the tone of the organization's written communications. Next it's read by decision-makers, who bring their own understanding to the text and refashion it into a proposal for the whole organization to consider. Reading it, do the originators of the ideas recognize what they initially wanted to say? Yes, in that they can translate the organizational language as well as everyone else involved with the process; but at the same time there's an unsettling sense that "that's not quite what I meant." Only there's no way to fix it, to get at the real meaning: every thought has to go through the same process and be filtered in the same way.

It's not that I think there's a bad guy in this process. No one is ever trying to subvert individuals' meaning or desires, it just happens. And it's probably inevitable, because the alternative is working out every single difference of opinion on a one-to-one basis, which would both take forever and create additional problems when separate resolutions led in different operational directions.

This happens everywhere: I've experienced it in the workplace, local government, churches, and volunteer groups. As I say, I can't imagine a workable solution short of disbanding all those organizations (hey, what a definition of workable!), but I think being aware of the problem is helpful in itself. There must be all sorts of literature on the subject already, too; maybe someone can point me towards some good examples? And maybe we can try as much as we can to address problems we have with other individuals as soon as they come up rather than letting them become institutional issues. Doing that might involve breaking down some hierarchical boundaries to organizational communication, so hooray, it's a double win! Who wants to go first?

more

that's gross, guys

I've mostly made my peace with the other class of cyclists with whom I share the bike path, the ones on bicycles that cost ten to thirty times as much as mine who ride not for transportation but for exercise or, as I understand they put it, training. They're out there because they like riding, and more power to them for it; even I manage to ride for fun on occasion. Sure, I disagree with their fashion choices but I'm sure they think my fleece socks pulled up over "nice" work trousers are just as ridiculous. And some of them shout "clear" at intersections when there are no cars coming, which is very considerate of them. But I'm not a fan of the spitting.

Even nose-blowing I can understand. Some of us carry handkerchiefs (I confess I often multi-purpose with my grease rag) but those cycling jerseys have limited pocket space. Since I like tissues even less than bodily fluids on the ground, I can grudgingly admit that the good old-fashioned snot rocket has its uses. But not spitting.

All of us, I believe, have functioning throats and manage to swallow our saliva for most of the hours of the day. Why should it be any different just because there's a bicycle involved? This afternoon I was passed by a gentlemen who, before he passed out of my sight, spit twice; I estimate I had him in view for about a mile, so assuming a thirty-mile ride (that seems about right if you take the trouble to put on all that gear, don't you think?) and a tablespoon of expectorate per expulsion, that means he deposited a total of three and three-quarter cups of spit on the ground over the course of his ride!

Oh, it's because he was working so hard? Do they spit in spin class? They do not. So please, gentlemen (and ladies!)... do us a favor and save it for the baseball diamond.

more

theraputic tomatoes

I have a tray of tomato seedlings sitting here on my desk, right next to my keyboard, as I type away on painful and difficult work-related matters. Exigencies have apparently rendered my attempted Lenten fast—no computer after dark—impossible. But every time I start to get overwhelmed I reach over and brushed the little plants, and the wonderful smell of tomato foliage makes life bearable once again. It would be even better if I could get a little sleep, but then, we can't have everything.

wooly good time

Drumlin Farm's Woolapalooze is such an important annual pilgrimage for us, it's hard to believe this was only our third year there!

a pair of wooly sheep in the pasture

before

I love animals, but it's always amazing to me to see people who really WORK. Because they are on like a totally different wavelength of interacting with animals. From the sheep dog trainer to the sheerer who only uses scissors, those guys are in charge with the four-footed. I have never been so jealous to be a farmer.

a sheep being sheared with big scissors

oh the indignity

Though rainy, the weather felt more like early spring than dead of winter, which was a nice improvement over last year. There was a moment though, when we were waiting for the sheepdog demonstration to begin and I felt the wet cold seeping directly into my bones, that I left Dan and Harvey to and took Zion to the food pavilion. Man, that cup of coffee was the best $2 I ever spent. Zion also enjoyed his Bertucci's roll.

zion eating a roll

chomp!

Then the other boys joined us and we ate lunch on the deck of the new farm life center. Look at me knitting while my children finish eating. It's like I have an addiction or something.

Leah, Harvey, and Zion relaxing under the porch of the Farm Life Center

putting the wool to use

With lots of warm wool on our heads and bodies we made a great day of it; FOUR FULL HOURS at the farm, if you can believe it. The more I get into the fiber arts the more I have really technical questions to ask. So what was formerly a 30-second pass through of "Look Harvey, that's how they spin yarn" is now, "Hey, are there tension adjustments on that thing? How expensive is the roving? Is it the same process to ply?"

The highlight of my day was talking to an artisan who ran a booth filled with soap and Norwegian looking knit items. "This looks like something out of a Jan Brett book," Dan said.

"Actually, that's a replica of the sock that Hedgie gets stuck on his head in The Hat."

"Seriously?" I say, "I love looking at the knitting in Jan Brett's books. I've always wanted to remake the sweater that Treva wears in The Trouble with Trolls."

The women's eyes glittered. "I sell that pattern on my website," she says.

If I'm wise I won't try to size up a child's sweater pattern... instead I should wait for a girl child to come along and in the meantime make myself some useful Treva socks. Or Lisa socks. There's a lot on the website, in case you interested. (Though I feel our blog readership leans more towards "marvels at your craziness" than "actually likes the same crap.")

Here are my additional takaways from this year's woolapalooze:

- I reconfirmed my opinion that spinning looks like a fun but expensive hobby, so I'll only venture into it if we move to a farm and raise sheep.

- On the other hand, people seem to sell handmade soap for $4 a bar. So, like, I should already be selling handmade soap. I calculate it costs me about $1.95 per bar, and I could certainly cut them smaller.

- Actually, I should get goats and make goat milk soap, because that stuff looks sooo beautifully creamy. That wouldn't require moving to a farm per say... only buying a bit of property off our next door neighbor or something like that. Of course, then the cost per bar of soap would be something approaching infinity.

- I like festivals. I want to go to more festivals.

a shorn sheep in the barn

after

more