Showing posts from 2013

Knitting blog: Gifts Without Occasions

Two projects are off the needles this fall and in use. In both cases, they were gifts to people I love, just for the heck of it. In one case, I finished the gift on a happy night, so it turned out to be a gift that coincided with an occasion.

First: the Jacki scarf, designed by Nancy Marchant.

This scarf is knit in the brioche stitch, and Ms. Marchant is the world’s leading authority on this stitch. I knit a mohair sweater in brioche stitch years ago, so I’m no stranger to the cushy, double-faced rib-like fabric. Brioche also creates a reversible fabric, an attribute that appeals to me. I signed up for Ms. Marchant’s class at, because I got a deal and because I like the class projects. After I was a few inches into knitting the Jacki scarf, I knew it was a gift. An inch or two more, and I knew it was a gift for my sister.

She loves quality clothes with good lines, and she always looks fantastic. Years ago I sewed her a kimono style jacket for Christmas, and she still has tha…


Three milestones in my life this past week, in order of increasing importance:


When we bought our Honda Civic 3 years ago, I did a rough estimate of how many miles we were likely to put on the car each year. My prediction: we would roll over 100,000 miles right around the time we would make our final payment.

Early this week, I was out and about and had a thought, “Gee, that last payment is coming up. I wonder how close I am to my prediction?” I tripped the odometer to the life-long miles driven counter and found this:

Right on schedule! I’m still tickled that I happened to push the odometer button at exactly the right moment to capture this.

One less debt
We are - now that I’ve written the check for the final payment on the Civic - in that most joyous condition of having NO CAR PAYMENT. We also are not currently in need of a replacement car. Losing that monthly payment puts us in a better position to pay off other debts before we retire. Let’s see how long we can go before we buy a…

A morning ritual ends, and I am bereft.


For quite a while I have started every morning by stirring a rounded teaspoon of this lovely stuff into my cup of coffee.

Keeping it on hand has required a certain degree of foresight and cunning, especially since I am a frugal soul. I could buy it for quite a price from the natural foods store, or I could get it much more reasonably at a Hannaford supermarket. The two Hannaford stores in our area are many miles from my home, however, and they have only carried the product from early fall through spring. As soon as it was time to expand the shelf space devoted to iced tea mixes, the Ghirardelli hot cocoa mix disappeared from the shelves. I would pick up an extra can or two if I could in March, and hope my supply would hold out until September. Sometimes I resorted to buying a case of four from Amazon, if I didn’t make it to the store before the change of beverage season. This year I ran out, and spent the summer without my morning hit of chocolate.

A few cans materialized on the s…

On Meeting an Old Friend for the First Time

Several years ago, on a now largely defunct social blogging site, I met Eleanor through the words that she writes. Over the years we have had a stimulating series of conversations in blog posts and comments, and we both long suspected that we would like each other a great deal if we were to meet.

Meeting is not nearly as far-fetched as one might think. Eleanor lives in Quebec, east of Montreal, and we go up to Montreal frequently to visit our daughter. The issues for me were whether I would take time away from family to visit with a friend, and whether I would gird my loins and drive in Montreal. Once I decided that yes, I very much wanted to meet El and yes, I can drive in a busy city with cut-throat drivers, I emailed her with a possible date. She was available that weekend, and we settled on meeting in Granby, halfway between my daughter’s apartment and her home.

I drove out of Montreal successfully, into a landscape that never fails to enchant me. This is good, level farmland, wit…

There's no such thing as too much zucchini.

This is a repost of something that I wrote in August 2007 at another blog site. I still love this soup!
Are you overwhelmed with the bounty of your garden - or with the bounty of other people's gardens? Are lonely, homeless zucchini turning up on your doorstep, looking for a purpose in life?

Last year my stepmother gave me her recipe for zucchini soup. I love it, and I'm not alone. The whole family seems quite content to eat it frequently in zucchini season, and my friends love it, too. I have come to believe that this soup is zucchini's reason for existence.

So here is the recipe:

Start with a couple of large zucchini, or several small ones.

Chop into chunks.

Put into a large pan. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water.

Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until the zucchini chunks are very tender.

Puree the zucchini and cooking water in a food processor or blender.

Chihuly takes Montreal

Blown glass is magical. I’m not a person who spends a lot of time with my memories, but I have fond ones of a visit to the Corning Glass Museum when I was a child. So when we went up to Montreal recently to visit our daughter, a visit to the Chihuly exhibit currently on display at the Museum of Fine Arts was in order.

I was very happy that I was allowed to take pictures. I only had my cellphone camera, however, so the quality of these photos is not the greatest. Some colors are hard to photograph in any circumstances (I’m talking to you, bright red), and if what you are trying to photograph is also shiny... there were many wonderful objects that I didn’t even try to capture.

The magic starts at the front of the museum.

The museum is showing a short stop-motion video of this piece being assembled. Wonderful!

You walk, walk, walk from the entrance in the modern part of the museum complex, under the street, up the most unnerving stairs I know (very wide steps with a very shallow rise), t…

Knitting Blog: New Socks

Finally - a second project for the year is off the needles! I have a new pair of socks that are in a different color than the warm peachy and burgundy tones that dominate my pile of handknit socks.

The pattern is Hickory, designed by Jane Cochran, and published in Clara Parkes’ The Knitter’s Book of Socks. This is a fine sock pattern, relatively quick to knit, and incorporating a subtle rib pattern that is an excellent choice for the kettle dyed yarn. The yarn is Araucania Ranco Solid, a toothy sockweight yarn that seems slightly less civilized than other brands I have knit.

Contrast these to Lorna Miser’s Escher socks, which I knit a while ago:

There is a similar effect, but let me tell you, the Hickories were a much easier, faster knit, and they are considerably more stretchy and comfortable. I might well make another pair of Hickories (they would be a good choice for gift socks), but I will never knit another pair of Eschers.

Still on the needles: the emerald Lorelei cardigan. Here…

Anita's Principles of Blogging

The social blogging site where I first cut my teeth as a blogger is about to be transformed. It will either go dark, or become a somewhat pricey paid membership club, where you can drop in and read for free but you have to pay to publish. I won’t be one of the people who pays to play. It’s not that I think “FREE” is the only way to blog, but I established a mirror blog on Blogger years ago, and it is now my home site.

Impending change is a kick in the pants, and a jolt to the thought process. I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned about how to blog, Here are my guiding principles.

Is this my story, or does it belong to someone else? I can be much freer when I write about my stories and thoughts. When I write about someone else’s story or when I include someone else in a post, I’ve learned to be careful with my words. Several years ago I realized that I don’t know who is reading my blog. A post about events in my town that I thought was harmless was printed and posted in the local…

Knitting Blog: Proving a Rule

Matching a yarn with a knitting pattern can be harder than it would seem. The first major consideration is gauge. You can’t use a fine yarn to make a heavy cabled sweater, nor can you use a bulky yarn to make a delicate lace shawl. Gauge distinctions can be subtle; a yarn that looks like it would be appropriate for a given pattern may not “make gauge” no matter what size or type of needles you try. The power of multiplication means that being off by just a wee bit from the pattern gauge can have an enormous effect on the size of a knitted item, as a small discrepancy multiplies over the inches of the item’s width.

The next consideration is color. There is a rule of thumb: complex patterns require a simple coloration, complex colorations require a simple pattern. In my experience, this rule of thumb is almost as immutable as the laws of physics.

Sometimes you fall in love with a yarn, and you buy that yarn, and then you realize that both major knitting considerations are making it rea…

A Middle Path on Climate Change: "Deep Future" by Curt Stager

There seem to be two points of view on the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, and the global warming that we are starting to notice. One is that there is no problem, it’s all just the weather which is unpredictable and changeable. The other is that rising carbon levels are an unmitigated evil, dooming the planet to catastrophic change.

Could there be a third way to look at this issue? A middle way? I’m not talking about a political compromise, but a rational, fact-based analysis that points the way towards acceptance of what has happened, relieves eco-guilt, and offers policy guidelines for going forward.

Curt Stager’s book Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth lays out a just such a rational middle path by taking a long view. Carbon pollution has happened, and will affect global climate and ecology for thousands of years. There is more than one scenario of what these effects will be, depending on whether we can taper off from our carbon-based energy…

Ghost House

My winter route to work takes me past a house that has a story to tell. It’s a private story about a woman who died too young, and I don’t know more than a few intriguing pieces of the tale.

A couple of jobs ago I was an account clerk in a county highway office. One summer we hired a young woman, still in college, to work in the office. We were working with a map publisher to revise and reprint the county highway map in conjunction with implementation of a county-wide 911 emergency call system. It was important for the map to match the information at the call center, especially since many roads had been renamed and renumbered. One of M.’s main jobs that summer was to pore over the proofs we got from the publisher, looking for errors. It was a harder job than it sounds, and a big responsibility entrusted to a young person. She fully engaged in the social life of the office. M. had strong opinions, loved the draft horses that she and her father owned, and managed her money carefully. …