Sarah Jane Humke

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

I wish this were tonight April 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 5:12 pm


A random sunset over Iowa cornfields.


Hogback Bridge April 28, 2012

In the coming weeks, I am planning on doing something a tiny bit different with the blog.  Don’t worry, I plan on still giving you lots of updates on what I am knitting, spinning and crocheting, but I am also going to be giving you a little virtual tour of Iowa.  You see, I travel around this great state a lot each week for my job, passing many interesting places on the way.  I intend to stop by some of these places, both really famous and not so famous to give you a taste of Iowa’s history and heritage.

My first stop happened on a beautiful morning a couple of weeks ago.  I had passed by the sign for the turn to Hogback bridge a number of times but this time my earliness as well as the absolutely stunning morning light made me make a quick detour to go see one of the famous Bridges of Madison County.

Now, if you haven’t already heard of them, I feel like I should really direct you to the very famous book and movie that are sort of about them.  Really, the bridges act more as a setting or as a catalyst than main characters in the book and movie.  The story is actually a love story set in 1960’s Iowa, which in itself is a little unusual.  There aren’t that many major novels set in Iowa at all.  Anyway, the bridges do play a major role in the movie and did make this little corner of Iowa very famous for a while.

So, back to my story.  I’m driving my this turn that I’ve passed a good many times and I decide to just do it.  I hit the brakes so hard to make the turn that I end up with Mountain Dew all over the car (You see the lengths that I go for you?? Ispilled Mountain Dew for you!!).  The gravel road that I turned onto is unusually steep and twisty for Iowa.  As I make my way up the hill, the gravel dust billows out thickly behind me.  I follow the signs that are posted at every intersection until I finally find the bridge.  It’s in a valley of sorts and is now positioned so that I cannot drive over it.  There is a modern concrete and steel bridge very close by for the traffic to go over.

There’s no one around this beautiful early spring morning other than me and the birds.  A total of one pick-up truck passes by on the road the entire time I am there, politely slowing down as he passes so as to not suffocate me in limestone dust from the road.  This is not the first time that I have seen these bridges, but this one seem cleaner and nicer than I remember them being.

This was explained later as all the bridges were renovated in the 90’s. It makes sense as nothing made out of wood is going to last in Iowa’s weather for very long without some serious maintenance.  Add to that, most of these bridges were still being driven over by cars and trucks and farm machinery (when it could fit) up until a few years ago and you have a recipe for some serious work needing to be done.

I know that a lot of my readers live in places where 1884 doesn’t seem that old.  Hell, I’ve lived in a house/chapel that was older than that myself in England!  However, for Iowa, this is considered a pretty old structure, especially for a wooden one.  To give you some perspective, Iowa had only just become a state about 40 years prior.  The reason given that they covered these bridges in the first place is that the timbers on the floor of them were much larger and more expensive to replace than the ones in the building above them.  Given that Iowa has never been known for its lumber, I can actually believe this.  Wood, especially lumber, used to be difficult and expensive to get here.

The bridges were used for lover’s meetings long before the book was written about them.  Young couples would carve their names or initials into the wood on the inside of the bridges.  Now they uses sharpies and spray paint, though there are still a few traditionalists amongst the romantics.

The folks preserving these bridges have tried to funnel this urge to mark the space, say, “I was here.”  I’m not sure how well it’s working…

The ends of the bridge are painted white.  It used to be that a lot of things that would be considered navigation hazards in the dark were painted white so as to not have folks running into them.  This is the reason that a lot of the trunks of the trees leading to the Southern plantations were planted white, to make it easier to get to the house without running into one of them.

Hogback is one of the few bridges remaining in its original location.  Most of them had to be moved to make way for more modern bridges.  However, I think that Hogback’s location in a very out-of-the-way place has helped it to stay put.

Most of the other bridges were named after the families that lived nearby.  Hogback didn’t have anyone close by so it was named after a limestone formation nearby.  Or so they say.  No one really knows the reason for sure.  I personally like to think that there was a pig involved with the story somehow:-)


The End is Near April 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 11:49 am
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I feel like I’ve been working on this blanket for little Matthew forever, even if it really hasn’t been all that long.  It’s just that it’s, well, boring.  With my normal scrapghans, I can change color whenever I feel like it, thus alleviating the boredom of non-stop half-double crochets.  However, with this blanket, there’s no such relief valve.  It’s either Hot Red or Bright Yellow 24/7 and it’s making me want to rip my eyes out.  However, I have decided that the end is neigh for this unholy blanket of boredom!  I am adding one more yellow stripe to it and then it’s going to get another thick red end and I am done with the hooking.  However, I hope that I can still find the fabric to be sewn onto one side of it.  I put it back into my storage unit when I decided to frog it a few months ago.


Anyway, it is going to be done and done one way or another by the end of next week.  I am declaring it so!

In other news…  Miss Sweetie Pie is back from her big visit to the vet to become a grown-up cat.  Which, in case you didn’t know, in the case of a female cat is called a Queen.  So, I guess you could say that her crown has been taken?  However you want to say it, she has been spayed and is recovering nicely.  She spent a night at the vets and was quite ready to come home today.  She’s moving slowly, but doesn’t seem to be in any pain and the stitches are the dissolving kind, so all that’s left is to keep an eye on her for a few days.

One thing that is amusing is that she is clearly annoyed with the shaved part of her tummy.  Each time she seems to get fixated on it I keep telling her it’s her, “Summer Haircut”

She’s not buying it.


Doctor Strangelove April 6, 2012

Today I made an appointment for little Miss Sweetie Pie to get spayed next week.  Since it is warming up rapidly, I want to get her out of my room!!!!! She is a teensy bit destructive and annoying and I am tired of being scratched and bloody (it’s how she shows her affection… purr, purr BITE!). However, I can’t put her outside in her current state as I’m sure that she would be preggers faster than you can say, “What’s your sign baby?”.

What are you lookin' at?

In other news, I will be attending my first fiber festival since being back Stateside.  It’s called Shepherd’s Harvest and it’s held in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  My mom is going with me and is thinking about taking a weaving class while there.  I’ve never gone to this festival before and I’ve never gone to a fiber event with mom, so this should be interesting on several different levels!  I heard about it because Deb Robson tweeted that she is going to be there and I plan on catching her talk on Saturday night.

I have been hooking and knitting, but that crazy thing called “having a full-time job” has seriously cut into my crafty time.  (Not that I am complaining, I am very happy to have gainful employment, it just means that the crafty doesn’t flow quite a quickly as it was!)  I finished this scrapghan this weekend.

It’s a little different from my usual version in that I experimented with fringe.  I think that it adds a bit of a playful aesthetic to it, but I doubt that I will do it again.  It just got in the way a lot and was really time-consuming in the end.  It’s going to be raffled off by the Ackley American Legion Auxiliary in the coming months as a fundraiser.

Remember this?

I thought for sure that it was headed for the frog pond because I couldn’t find any more of the red yarn.  I looked in Michael’s and JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby and not one of them carried this particular shade of red.  Guess where I found it.  Wal-Mart.  I detest going into that store, but it’s really the only thing sort-of local and while I was in there looking for something else I just moseyed down the yarn aisle and there it was, bright as day, just sitting there!  It’s a good thing I really didn’t want to rip it out as now I have enough yarn to finish the blanket!  Woot woot!  And, I am planning on taking a little weekend trip out to Chicago to see Sarah and her crew in the next few weeks so hopefully I will have it finished by the time I get there and can give it to the little guy in person.  Just in time for summer…


In which I sound cryptic and mysterious (when I’m really not) April 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 9:21 pm
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Quiet.  That’s not what my life has been lately.  Unfortunately, not a lot of what has been going on with me has been blog-able.  Work has finally kicked into full-gear and truth be told, I don’t feel like I have a lot of time to myself anymore.

However, I’ve not forgotten you, my determined blog reader!  I have an idea for a sort of series of blog posts about things that I see as I am traveling all around Iowa.  Hopefully, interspersed amongst them will be posts about the normal tidbits of my life.

Spring is speeding forward at record speeds here.  There were parts of the state that got into the 90’s today!  It’s the first of APRIL!  Mom and I are planning a garden and I’ve gotten some onion sets and seed potatoes to get started in the ground.  My brother moved the goats out into the pasture this weekend.  The little ones kept trying to go back to the shed where they lived as they had never known anything else.  However now they have figured out that grass=good and are staying put.  I’ll try to get some pictures for you next week.

Otherwise, my life is still one big transitional mess with a bunch of stuff going on that I cannot talk about (yet).  Suffice to say, I have some things that I am working on but nothing that has been finished or finalized.

Sorry.  I’ll get back on here a bit more when I have more to say:-)