24 February 2010

A Wee Bit of Knitting

Yes, finally...a finished project. No more WIP for me!

No, don't look in the basket over in the corner of the living room!

So, I originally picked up the yarn at Rhinebeck in 2008. That was my first trip to the Sheep & Wool Festival and will not be my last. It is Briar Rose Fibers Robusta, and I adored the autumnal colours in it.

I found the Faggot Stitch Scarf pattern online. It is a simple 3 stitch pattern, which made it easy to knit. But I am not a fast knitter. Trust me, ask anyone. (Not those who are still expecting things a year after they were due though. They might be a bit testy.)

I knew that using the whole skein would amount to a very long scarf. Just didn't realize quite how long.

I washed it up quick then blocked it to about six inches in width. As I started pinning it I realized that it was WAY too long for the blocking board, so I doubled it up and started pinning it again. It fit the board length-wise, plus doubled back for another couple feet.

Really, really, long...

I estimate the scarf is around ten feet long. Since drying it has narrowed to about five inches, so the length is great doubled up around my neck.

The colours have also brightened, just a little, so it shines. The open knit of the pattern will let me wear it long after the wintertime.

19 February 2010

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Monkey bread!

With cream cheese icing, courtesy of Smitten Kitten, a fave cooking blog of mine. I decided to make it after reading the entry, which was at 8 PM. And I was going well at the time, until I actually read the recipe and noted the second rise of another hour. And at that time it was almost 10 PM. Sigh...

Then I read about patting it into an 8-inch square and cutting it into 64 pieces. That would be 64 1-inch square pieces. No, I didn't measure it with my ruler this time. These are not cheesecake-swirled brownies, after all. (My Twitter followers will know what that is about. No ruler this time, I was playing loose and dangerous with measurements.)

See? Just fine, even without a ruler.

Still, one must do what one must do.

And for this? I'd do anything. Well, almost.

Okay, with cream cheese icing, I WOULD do anything. Just...don't tell anyone, ok?

So this week has been a vacation week not only for the niblets but for myself. Since the oldest is now 13, there are no vacation programs until the summer for her. This is the first full week I have taken off with the kids, and it has been really good. They spent a three-day weekend up north with the grandparents and saw their dad. I got to drive over three hours to spend the night in my old room at my parent's home plus have the thermostat die and take it to the shop to get fixed because the engine light went on.

Wait, that wasn't the good part..

I sent my kids to some programs on Wednesday. My son went and played games at the JCC, my daughter went to the Art Museum and did her first classes there. I not only got a couple free hours but I had a chance to talk to one of the city counselors who supports urban chickens. We have a game plan. I have a lot more research to do, but I am happy about it. It is good work.

She thought she was hiding.

Yesterday I had a quick morning visit with a fellow colleague and friend who was in town for the Handheld Librarian Conference. While I would have loved to attended, vacation takes priority (plus it was recorded, I believe). She also got the gift of Girl Scout cookies and Monkey Bread with MY monkeys. But I got gifts too!

Hooray for increasing my home library!

The "Raising Small Livestock" books were discarded from her collection, and she knew just who would treasure them. The "American Standard" book is from another friend, all about poultry and published in 1888. Not that I ever see myself raising poultry to be judged, but at least I will be prepared!

Today is the last "official" day of vacation, as the weekend brings around the prep time to head back to work and school. It's been a good week. Besides issues with the car, there was some deep talks with family members and caring for other sick ones, but I am in a good place. A necessary place to face the coming weeks and months of...who knows?

Bee school, open source library systems, urban chicken research, public catalog design, eons of homework and laundry, garden plans...okay, so I know a lot of it. The rest will come as it does.

I'm looking forward to it all.

08 February 2010

The Bees & The Birds

I hope that you aren't expecting that kind of blog post - however I have books I could point you towards.

I am a librarian, after all.

For the last 5+ years, since moving to Massachusetts, I have learned more about organic food, local farming, and the big business of commercial animal "farms" and GMOs (genetically modified organisms). On my bookshelf sits Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Plenty, and The Backyard Homestead. I've seen The Corporation, The World According to Monsanto, and am girdling my loins for the arrival of Food Inc. from my Netflix queue.

It makes eating a scary thing. You realize that corn is in EVERYTHING, that most packaged meat in the store came from multiple animals that were crowded in tiny spaces, and that most every fruit or vegetable traveled hundreds of miles and was sprayed with hundreds of chemicals. There have been illnesses and recalls all over the news for foods that have been exposed to bacteria strains that have no business being there.

But I love to eat. So what's a girl to do, besides wring her hands and grab the next box of Twinkies? (Never. Who wants to eat a food that has a half-life?) She makes changes.

I have started gardening. I make sure that my garden seeds are heirloom. I recycle. I go to the Farmers Markets during the summer season. I freeze and can. I make most meals instead of buying frozen lunches. I have found a local provider for milk and meats and shop at the little co-op downtown. But I want more.

Earlier this summer, I visited a friend who is making things work right in her own backyard. Besides keeping her budget as tight as possible, I have seen her chickens and her beehive. Right behind the house. She made her first batch of honey this past fall. I have read the stories about Colony Collapse Disorder affecting beehives. I walked a lavender labyrinth this summer and sat down to watch scores of bees and other insects collecting pollen and nectar from the plants. Never a childhood fan of bees, I have gained an understanding of their necessity to what I do NOW. Some of my garden can self-pollinate, but not all of it. What would happen if there were no honeybees?

So, I discovered the Worcester County Beekeepers Association. They teach Bee School every year and I have decided to attend. I'm excited, a bit nervous and filled with the wonder of learning something new. I don't know if I am going to have a hive at this point, but I hold the possibility.

Free-range organic chicken eggs cost an average of $4 a dozen or more. My family can go through 2-4 dozen a month. It would be more economical - and more work, and more fun - to have chickens at home. Many urban lots are large enough to house a half dozen chickens. We currently have a 20 x 50 ft. dog pen in the backyard, left by the landlord through the winter (and where my garden will be going once it comes down). That would be enough space itself for a dozen hens or more. Alas, my city does not allow chickens within their municipal limits.

What is being called the Urban Chicken Movement has seen a big rise over the last couple of years. Many cities, larger than my own, allow penned chickens on housing lots. Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Rochester NY, among others. So, why not here? Why can't we have chickens in the city? I doubt I am the only person in town who wants them. There are so many GOOD reasons to have them. Check out the benefits of urban chickens here, here and here! Who's going to get the word out, look into how other groups enacted local ordinance changes, talk to people, get the ball - or the egg - rolling? Who is going to be the first to step forward and say "Why not?"

Gandhi said "
You must be the change you wish to see in the world", or as I like to say, "Put Up or Shut Up". So, I guess the change I desire has to start somewhere, and where better than with me.

Why not?