Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

Amsterdam in Pictures March 28, 2011

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Spindle from industrial spinning machines used as art

Bike parking near the main train station


More bike parking near the station, only now on a repurposed barge.




Conversation... Me: Are those dog toys or sex toys? Hubby: I think that they are people toys. Me: Huh? Hubby: Like stoned-out-of-your-head toys. Me: Ok, that makes sense I guess!



For when you need an extra pocket during you bondage rituals. (You gotta have a place for your Chap Stick!)



I loved this grocery that was in what must have been a very grand house. They kept the chandelier and the ceilings.

The Floating Flower Market

Disgruntled fish

Floating cat shelter



Travel Tips and Hints March 27, 2011

So, I travel a fair amount.  More than some, less than others.  I almost always travel for leisure, in fact I think that I have only ever been on one business trip ever!  Anyway, I’ve decided to compile this list of tips and tricks that I have learned so that you don’t have to!  If you have a great travel tip, please let everyone know about it in the comments section!

Things to Pack

*Travel Panties (and socks):  When you have worn-out panties (or socks) that have holes in them, or worn-out elastic, or whatever, set them aside.  I quite often toss them in the empty suitcase.  When you travel the next time, just throw them away after you have worn them.  It’s not a lot of weight or space, but it does keep you from having to haul back dirty underwear (and socks).

*Thrift store clothes:  Buy some clothes at a local thrift store in your size (and that you would actually wear).  When you are done wearing them, leave them at the hotel on the bed, preferably with a note saying (in the local language) that whoever would like these clothes can have them.  This saves a LOT of space on the way back if you are a big shopper.  It is especially good for jeans, sweaters, sweatshirts, bulky items that take up a lot of space in a suitcase.

*Soak sample packs:  This is a great rinse-less delicates wash that can be really useful when on the go.  It’s sold in little sample packs that are great for one or two loads if you don’t do the whole “travel panties” thing.

*Shout travel wipes or tide pen: Cause it’s easier to treat stains now rather than later.

*Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheets:  My mom found these before our big Alaska trip and they work great. If you are going to be on a longer trip where you are going to be doing laundry, these are the ticket!  You just toss one of the sheets in and it has the detergent, fabric softener and anti-static for the load already embedded in sheet.  Genius!  No more detergent getting spilled and making a mess of the car!

*No Whites:  This one I got from my friend Malin at KC last year.  Don’t pack any whites, then you don’t have to do a load of whites!  So simple yet so easily not thought of!

*You get what you pay for:  If you are going to be doing a LOT of traveling, invest in a good bag for goodness sake!  The Hubby’s folks bought him a good TravelPro roll-aboard a few years before we were married.  If that bag got frequent flier miles, it would be in the pilots seat!  It’s still in really good shape, you couldn’t tell that it’s over 6 years old at this point (and used to get lived out-of for probably 45 weeks of the year for years!).  I also have a TravelPro and am really pleased with it.  Another bag that I have that has stood the test of time really well is a Boyt bag that my mother gave me when I was 12.  You read that right, 12.  It still looks really new.  If you are going to travel any significant amount, just get a good bag.  If nothing else, it’s better than shleping a busted bag around a foreign city! (Ask me how I know that one:-))  Another bag company that we’ve really liked is Reisenthel.

*Personal Med Kit:  Take a zippered bag and put in it a selection of OTC drugs for sicknesses that you get.  I get sinus infections, thus I have a sheet of Sudafed pills in mine.  Also, antacids, sleeping pills, ibuprofen, etc.  I also throw in a little tiny sewing kit for good measure.  It sucks to get sick when you are traveling.  It really sucks if you can’t get any meds.  A few packs of pills are light and will save your bacon if you do get ill!

*A light wrap: I usually carry a light pashmina-type wrap with me on the airplane.  It can be used as a scarf sure, but it is great as a little blanket if you get chilly.  Plus they are usually really light.

*Underwear, Socks and toothpaste:  Put a pair of socks a pair of underwear and your toothbrush and paste in your carry-on.  If your bag gets lost, you’ll thank me!

*Print-outs:  Print out the details of hotels, flights, etc that you have booked prior to your trip.  You may not be able to easily get to the info on your computer or smartphone once you get in the cab from the airport…  Also, a copy of the front page of your passport is a good thing to have on hand in case it gets stolen or lost.

*TP: I always carry a little plastic clam-shell that contains a mini-roll of TP.  It’s Charmin to go, but other companies do similar things.   It’s saved my ass many a time! (Yes, pun intended!)

*Plastic Baggies: Just throw a few extra Ziplocs in the suitcase when you leave.  I really love the Jumbo Hefty zipper bags (2.5 gallon!!).  They are good for putting that bottle of exotic booze, perfume, or whatever it is that you want into.  I’ve saved myself a damaged suitcase and clothes many, many times by doing this.  They don’t take any space, and when you get home, just leave them in the suitcase for the next trip!

*A flashlight:  This one I’m a little OCD about.  I usually have 2 or 3 of them in my purse on a normal day (including a headlamp, yes I know I am a serious dork!).  As good as the LED technology is now, there is no excuse not to have at least a little key chain light in your bag.  This is more for safety than anything, dark streets, dark hotel rooms are all a great way to trip and fall.  In a power outage, you’ll be the most popular person around!

*A Collapsible shopping bag:  Handy to have when you hit the markets in a new city.  Carrying a crappy, ripping plastic bag with something breakable in it as you are sightseeing around a city is NO FUN.

*Scale: If you are staying at a hotel while you are traveling, a luggage scale can save you a lot of money at the airport.  Especially if you like to shop:-)

*Earplugs: Screaming baby + 6 hour flight.  You’ll thank me!

(I know that this sounds like a ton of stuff, but most of it is quite small and a lot of it you wouldn’t take on every trip.)


*Hotel: Take a matchbook, business card, whatever with you when you leave the hotel.  If the crap hits the fan and you cannot, for whatever reason, remember where you are staying (believe it or not, it’s easy to happen) you have a name and address.  However, do not keep it in the same place as your room key in case of pick-pockets.

*Carry-on packing: Remember to pack for how long you are going to be traveling for.  A flight of a couple of hours doesn’t need as much stuff to keep you entertained as an over-seas flight.  Don’t pack 3 books, a 2 knitting projects and a selection of magazines for a 2 hour flight!!!

*Allergies: If you have an allergy, make sure that your travel companions know about it.  If you are unconscious in a foreign hospital, you want someone other than you knowing that you are allergic to morphine.

*Sleep:  If you don’t sleep well on planes (I don’t) , don’t try to force yourself with sleeping pills unless you absolutely have a serious meeting the next morning.  Otherwise you will end-up cranky and feeling unwell.

*Sleep Part II: Take a 3 hour nap after a red-eye flight then get up and have a full day.  Your clock will be pretty much reset.

*Driving: Don’t drive in the UK if you’ve taken the red-eye and have never driven here before.  It’s dangerous.  Trust me.  I would be wary of driving in Europe in general (cannot say for anywhere other than N. America and Europe) as the laws are quite a bit different from the US.  Spend a day on foot or public transit before hitting the road.

Tips for Knitters

*Needles on Airplanes:  You can, you can’t…. who the heck knows?!?!?  Here in the UK it is different from airport to airport and even airline to airline in the same airport.  So, take your knitting, but don’t take your favorite needles, don’t take metal needles and don’t make a big deal of it.

*Don’t take big, long, straight needles.  They freak people out.  Take dpn’s or circulars.

*Leave the knitting in the bag during take-off and landing.  That sometimes freaks out the flight attendants.  I think that they are afraid that you will stab yourself if there is an accident during take-off.

*Have knitting on the needles when you go through security.  That makes them freak out less:-)

*If you are really worried about having needles taken away, put them in with a bunch of pens and pencils.  They look more or less the same.

*Only carry-on the needles that you need for the project.  Put the rest of them in your checked-baggage.

*If you’re still really nervous about knitting on the plane, take up crochet!


Please feel free to add your favorite travel tips and hints in the comments!  I’ll hopefully blog tomorrow about Amsterdam…..


A Good Day to Be Born March 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 12:50 pm
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In the field over the road today we have lambs being born in:



And Three’s!

The score so far (it’s a little after noon) is 2 singles, 2 twins and a set of triplets.  9 so far today!

(sorry about the photo quality, long range lens with little moving things….)


“The Family” March 22, 2011

For all of the new members of the Task Force, we’ve made a cheat sheet for surveillance purposes.  This is, for all intents and purposes, a cast of characters seen entering and leaving The Old Chapel.  Some of them have only been seen through windows from the outside.  Many of these photos came from an inside informant.  Others were taken on the daily territory marking rounds that members of the security team make.    This list is for identification purposes only.

(in Alphabetical order)

Belle (AKA Belly)

Seldom seen outside of The Old Chapel, it is thought that this member of the family may be on drugs given how often seen asleep.  Overly fastidious with her grooming, is often seen cleaning herself obsessively.  Transplanted here with the bulk of the family in 2009 is the (twin) sister to Willma.  May have ended-up in the family via a pimp (not confirmed).

Brompton (AKA The Bike)

This hunk of metal is seldom away from The Hubby’s side when he is away from The Old Chapel.  It is very transformers-like, unfolding to become a ride-able bike only to origami back up into a heavy, vaguely box-like mess of gears and spokes.  It can go very fast.  Joined “The Family” in 2010.

Fluffy (AKA Fluffs)

This aloof blond is also a neighbor next door.  Often seen walking with “The Family”, her alliance is unknown.  Has been known to spend nights at The Old Chapel.  Not much is known about her origins except to say that this is not the first home that she has had.  Not known to be dangerous, but will not inform on “The Family” as is deeply suspicious of strangers.

Hubby (AKA Tech Support)

Seldom photographed in the wild, this is the heart of the operation.  This is the best photograph of The Hubby that we have been able to get since a random fluke of chance in 2005 in Amsterdam.  Taking out The Hubby would take out the entire operation, but he is very hard to get to.  Tends to keep to an evil lair in London or The Old Chapel where he is protected by the rest of the gang.  Not particularly dangerous on his own but is well protected by the rest of “The Family”.  Transplanted here from Florida in 2009, but origins prior to this confused and unknown.  Often seen riding The Brompton to the train.

Jiji (AKA The Pain in the Ass, Large and in Charge)

Runs the daily operations at the house.  Extremely dangerous, has been known to stab and cut at associates for no other reason than to make a point.  Her origins are lost to history, but she joined the family in 2004 when The Hubby joined.  Is diabetic and on a special diet because of it, she is extremely ill-tempered. Only seen leaving the house for medical visits.

Kali (AKA Snow Queen, Mud Queen)

Girlfriend of Malcolm, she is a local who lives next door.  Is extremely dangerous, approach with caution.  Has been known to take out multiple kneecaps and to tackle unknown people approaching.  Has also used gas warfare to neutralize threats.  Is frequently spotted completely covered in mud carrying a big stick.  Do not underestimate this bitch, she can mess you up.

Malcolm (AKA Mr Beautiful, Mal)

Malcolm is the social man of the group.  He is frequently seen making contacts with other families for unknown purposes.  His charm and beauty will disarm you from suspecting him of ill-doing, but be warned, he can go from 0 to 60 in a few seconds flat.  He has no patience for sneaks and informants, preferring to keep his group under tight rein.  Though appearing to be in charge, he is actually subordinate to Meara.  His origins are murky having simply showed-up with Sarah Jane one night in 2009.  We suspect Romany roots.  Often likes to woo the women with his impressive…tail.

Meara (AKA Peanut, Potato)

An older member of “The Family” Meara is also one of the most dangerous.  The other members may “talk the talk” but Meara doesn’t need to since she “walks the walk”.  Another of the transplanted group, arrived on our shores in 2009 from Florida.  Definitely the head of the lower minions, she only answers to Sarah Jane.  Do not approach this one.  Run if she comes after you.

Micheal (AKA Tubby)

The American branch of “The Family”, Micheal lives in Iowa.  He has been known to greet men by running up to them and kicking them in the nads.  Not seen at all in The Old Chapel due to passport issues.

Milo (AKA Trouble, Destructo-puss)

Not particularly dangerous to people, Milo has a known knack for destroying equipment.  We have not been able to discern if this is accidental or on purpose.  However, this member of the family is the primary reason all audio and video wiretapping has failed.  Bugs bug her and then she destroys them with gusto.  Transplanted with the bulk of “The Family” in 2009, Milo comes from extremely humble origins.  Her siblings were all eaten by a large snake as infants, her mother then ran away in a blind panic only to be run over by a car.  It was only by blind chance that she ended-up with “The Family” where her illnesses were taken care of and she was nurtured.  She has a strong attachment to Sarah Jane and will not rat-out the family.

Sarah Jane (AKA Me)

Often found in The Old Chapel or harassing the nearby hoods with much of “The Family”.  Quite often carries dangerous pointy sticks with a garroting wire between them.  Has a bizarre obsession with sheep.  Is the brains of the operation.  Approach with caution.  Transplanted here in 2009 from Florida, though was raised on a farm in Iowa.  Has many special skills due-to this unique background.  Do not underestimate.

The Old Chapel (AKA The House, Headquarters)

This became The Family’s headquarters in 2009.  A former Wesleyan Chapel, it was abandoned for many years before being renovated in 2000.  With views of fields of sheep and horses, this is the perfect place for The Family to carry out its work.

Weezy (AKA Weasel, Wiener)

Don’t let the subject’s small size fool you, this is among the most dangerous members of “The Family”.  What she lacks in stature, she makes up for in ferocity.  This bitch has been spotted going after horses screaming threats at the top of her lungs.  Is considered Sarah Jane’s bodyguard and can almost always be found (literally) in her shadow.  Small size means that escape is a prime problem with this member.  Transplanted here in 2009 from Florida, this little dog is a survivor having lived through hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, her birthplace.

Willma (AKA Miss Independent)

A rare photo of the twins together

Willma is not often seen outside, except from the window behind her in this rare photo.  We aren’t sure if she is a captive or is willingly being kept in The Old Chapel.  Is the (twin) sister of Belle.  Transplanted in 2009, she was a Florida street kitten brought into “The Family” by Sarah Jane.





For all the people out there… March 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 6:31 pm

For all of my friends with small children out there (and there are a lot of you) read this.


Blanket Update March 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 6:18 pm
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I realize that I haven’t shown you any pictures of the sock yarn blanket in a while.  It continues to grow under my nurturing care, just the camera wasn’t behaving all that well.  (It’s amazing how many more pictures one takes when one has a camera that is working properly!)




The last photo was included in order for you to get a sense of scale.  The cat (Willma) is a normal sized girl cat and the blanket was laid-out on a queen-sized bed.


A Sunny Day March 19, 2011

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Today was absolutely beautiful here.  It was one of those days that reminds me why I moved to this often grey and rainy island in the first place.  To take advantage of the lovely weather we went for a family walk.

Malcolm loves to run in the field:

Weezy was doing her best modeling pose:

There was lots to sniff…

…and paths not taken.

Even Meara came out, though she clearly longed for home.

There were puppy paws on picnic tables…

…and little wet noses in the sunshine.

Malcolm loved rolling in the green, green grass…

…and then playing with his girlfriend Kali.

After Kali passed on by, Malcolm came upon Harris, another doggie friend.

Kali caught back up with us, a Frisbee was added, and much fun (and panting) was had by all!

A very good walk indeed!