Sarah Jane Humke

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

Book Review: Crazy Aunt Purl’s Home is Where the Wine Is January 1, 2010

This was one of the books that I got as a Christmas present this year and I am so glad that I did. (However, I do really wish that I could get onto whatever list it is that they send you free copies of books that are coming out soon [especially yarn/fiber related books!] for you to read and review.  Anybody have an idea on that? [I would be willing to do giveaways!])

Laurie Perry’s skills as a writer have gotten even stronger since her last book Crazy Aunt Purl’s Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair which was laugh out loud funny itself.  Actually, it was more like laugh-until-you-nearly-pee-your-pants funny and her newest book is even better.  I guess that you would call it laugh-until-you-pull-a-muscle-in-your-side-and-then-pee-your-pants funny.  The hubby looked in on me several times while I was reading it trying to discern if I was laughing really hard or crying.  Seriously folks, this woman takes all that is the worst about being a single woman (and sometimes just being a woman in general) and makes you look at it, and I mean really look at it, and realize just how ridiculous it all is sometimes.  Her story about getting ready for a vacation to Hawaii literally made me laugh until I cried and anyone who has ever tried to get in shape will recognize themselves in her descriptions of her forays to the gym.

I’ve been a fan of Laurie’s Blog Crazy Aunt Purl ever since I read her first book a few years ago.  Since then, I’ve told anyone who would listen to me prattle about something like this (read: Happy Hookers crochet group) how great of a blog it is and how everybody should go out and get her books.  Or at the very least, check them out from the library.  Laurie is sort of like a much less whiny Bridget Jones (the one aspect that I always disliked about Bridget was the whiny tone she gets into often) with the much more realistic issues of cat litter (an issue that I have cussed and discussed several times myself), Target shopping (ditto) and yoga farting (haven’t hit that one yet).  I love the fact that she too has been on a date where the other participant spent more of the time on their cell phone than on conversation with the person sitting right in front of them.  At the end of this book there are knitting and crochet patterns which are mostly small projects that a beginner (or the obsessive, in the case of the rug) could easily do.

All in all, this book gets five (yarn) balls up (get yer minds out of the gutter!).  Way to go Laurie and please, don’t make us wait as long for the next one!!!


Going, going……. August 20, 2009

Last day here.  Tomorrow I will be getting up ass-early to haul my sorry carcass out to Heathrow airport (at least it isn’t Gatwick which is even further) to get onto an airplane to go to Dusseldorf.  I’m flying Lufthansa all the way there and United on the way home.  I am so excited that I am practically vibrating!  Which, is not such a good thing when one is trying to KNIT LACE!!!  

Anyway, my bags are packed and triple weighed and waiting in the entryway.


However, I’m a little sad to be going as well.  I’m going to be missing the bulk of my first Autumn here and I have a lot of plants that are looking very nice and are beginning to bloom.

My streptocarpus has one or two blossoms open and smells fantastic.


My dipladenia hasn’t yet stopped blooming.


I moved nearly everything that I don’t want to freeze back into the conservatory so it sort of looks like conservatories in the movies do.


I have finally figured out how to make the passion vine happy.


The best litter box screen EVER!

The best litter box screen EVER!

I have lots of happy flowers on the windowsills.


And I finally got the african violets sorted out!


For the astute IKEA fans out there these are the cheapy shelves connected by grow-bag trays.

For the astute IKEA fans out there these are the cheapy shelves connected by grow-bag trays.

My lemon tree has LEMONS on it!!


Honey, please don’t kill them!!!


13 hours and counting……..


Things I Miss July 21, 2009

The other night I was asked by someone at the Click and Clack knitting group that I was at what I missed about the US.  The first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “parking lots”.  Yes, parking lots.  I know that that sounds kinda trite but it isn’t like I don’t miss my friends and family, it’s just that parking is a daily issue that is even more of an annoyance since getting the new car.  Anywhere you go you have to plan out a parking strategy in advance, there is no swinging into a mega sized parking lot outside of a mega store where you can get everything that you may or may not need.  The parking spaces are also sized quite differently since space is at such a premium.  Instead of being able to park a Hummer  you could park a hummingbird.  The smallest parking spaces labeled, “Compact Cars Only” in the US are still larger than the normal sized parking space here.  It just makes it more time consuming and frustrating to do, really, anything, that isn’t at home or within walking distance.

Odd things tend to hit me.  I miss JoAnn‘s with a vengeance on a regular basis.  It’s exasperating how difficult it is to find fabrics or buttons or beads that are cool.  There just isn’t any selection like I am used to anywhere and you have to visit multiple shops (see the above parking issue) to get everything that you need for a project.  Admittedly, it helps keep some money in the bank account but it still frustrates me.

Another issue that is seriously looming is the lack of clumping cat litter here.  We just put the final grains of Tidy Cat from the last of the buckets that I stockpiled before moving into the litter box and there is really no reasonably priced clumping cat litter that we have found here to replace it.  The word on the street is to use chicken crumble as it clumps together pretty well and is reasonable inexpensive but it just seems so wrong.  

I miss Target with a vengeance.  Markets are all good and well until you have to schlep 30 pounds of cat and dog food hither and fro while you finish your shopping since the car is a Sherpa’s life away.  Maybe it is a good thing that we can’t find clumping litter here as it would end-up making my arms rip off!

Boring roads that aren’t very twisty-turny are an odd thing to miss but I do.  It’s nice to be more worried about the wildlife that I may hit (including humans on SOBT) than driving off of the road constantly.   I miss store clerks asking if they can help you when you walk into a store, not just look at you like you are annoying them by wanting to buy something.  

I miss our vets, they are awesome. (With 6 animals, you do miss the vet.  Really)

Being able to understand people on the phone is a daily issue.  I know that it is in theory the same language but on the phone it sure as hell doesn’t sound like it.  I miss being able to call people without it being a huge issue.

I really, really, really miss my Hookers.  I think that Thursdays are the hardest day of the week for me as I know that I won’t be seeing them at the end of the day.  The other groups are nice but definitely not the same, not even close.  Sure they may talk about penises, but they are just so damn polite about it even when they are being bawdy.  I miss my rowdy band of Happy Hookers more than I could have imagined.


On the positive side, the weather is great!


Most of the time…


Casa la Puppy and the American Curiosity April 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 1:16 pm
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Today I found the local boarding kennel.  I say the as there is only one that is, what I would call, nearby.  It’s in a small village (about the same size as Ivinghoe Aston) called Horton.  Every time we drive through it I think or say, “Horton hears a what!!!?!?!“.  It’s an illness, I really can’t help it.  I am however really glad to have found a reasonably priced place that seems nicer than some hotels I’ve stayed in in the past.  One in Washington DC stands out in particular.  It was a Days Inn and the carpets were sticky!  Sticky carpets!  And that was just the beginning, but I’m not going to go into it.  I wouldn’t make my dogs stay in a place like that hotel room.  Anyway, this kennel is great and I hope that the girls are as pleased being there as I am to have found it.

Today we also had a visit from the electrician.  He fixed a few small issues that we had quickly and in a professional manner.  However, the curiosity in the house was not the dogs trying to nip at his ankles rather, well, me.  He had never met an American and had several questions for me.  One of them was, “Are you really scared of gun violence like they say on the TV?”  It was sort of a hard question to answer honestly.  Here you so very seldom hear of people getting shot that it is a big, huge deal when someone does.  I had to answer him with a qualified, “Sometimes.”  I mean, there are areas of the little town of Apopka that I wouldn’t drive down after dark if I could avoid it.  There are parts of Orlando that I was nervous traveling through even at noon on a Tuesday.  He then asked if guns were as common as they seemed and I had to answer yes once again.  Here, most farmers have a gun for killing varmints and possibly livestock if they are needing to be put down.  There are some people that have guns for hunting but there are very few guns that fall into the “self security” or “people hunting” guns.  It is so non-gun here that they are actually trying to make it so that no-one under 18 can buy a knife (as that is how thugs here try to kill each other).  Coming from a place where 12 year-olds have guns, the idea that knives were restricted sort of blew my mind.  

I’m really starting to look forward to coming back to Florida.  The list of things that I want to pick-up is both long and eccentric.  Just a sampling of the list: Magic Erasers, Squeegee from Target, Fabric from JoAnn’s, Chocolate Chip (seriously, there aren’t fraking chocolate chips here!), Good Ice Cube trays, a pounder bag of M&M’s (they only sell them in little bags here), snack sized plastic baggies (the plastic baggy culture is about as developed as their yarn store culture) and cardboard cat scratchers from IKEA for the cats (as the IKEA here doesn’t carry them!).  Another thing that I would add to that list if it wasn’t so damn heavy is Tidy Cats cat litter for multiple cats.  I would never have imagined the dearth of affordable cat litter options here.  Had I, the whole damn back-end of that container would’ve been a big yellow wall of cat litter buckets!


Round-up from Rhinebeck October 22, 2008

So, I thought that I would recap my goals and see how well I did with them….


1.) Will not spend more money than have.  Did ok on this one.  I worked pretty much as a cash only thing so I couldn’t spend more than I had.

2.) Will not get drunk and diss and/or start fights with knitters at the Ravelry party.  I ended-up not drinking at all and finding a very nice mother/daughter team that both knit and crocheted to talk to.  So, no fights started (I might have ruined my hybrid mittens!).

3.) Will try not to run around screaming, “Ooo! Ooo! Look at that! Ooo! Look at THAT! Ooo!”. Utterly failed here.

4.) Will not roll naked in the Alpaca yarn and/or on the poor alpaca.  Too damn cold.  Still, wanted to pack one of the cute alpacas in my suitcase.

5.) Will try to actually take pictures.  I think that I did pretty good for me.

6.) Will not bring home a sheep. So, no sheep but 3 fleeces?  This one will have to be called by the judges….

7.)  Will not buy more yarn than can pack.  Didn’t buy ANY yarn, just fibers, so a resounding success on this one!

8.) Will try to not freak the Muggle in-laws out.  Ok, not so good on this one.  When their dogs were trying to marry my suitcases and break into the guest bedroom, I think that it freaked them out a little.

9.) Try to sweet talk someone into teaching/showing me how to spin with a drop spindle.  Ok, so I got to see lots of people and listen to lots of demonstrations on how this was done, so I think that I get it.  At least the concept of it…



I also realized that I forgot to post a picture of the fun bumper stickers that I got while I was up there.


Good for freaking out the muggles

Good for freaking out the muggles

From top to bottom: Fiberho, Flock on!, My Other Vehicle is a Spinning Wheel, The Surgeon General has determined that fiber is good for your health…Got Yarn?, Make Gloves Not War, and Agriculture Keeps New Jersey Green.

One of the things that I forgot to write about was that on day one I literally bumped into the Yarn Harlot while walking around looking at yarns.  It was hard not to bump into people, it was ass to elbow pretty much everywhere that day.  Anyway, she bumped into me with my back turned and said excuse me and I recognized her from her voice!  (That’s what you get for making an audio book I think!)  I turn around and there she is talking about how she always gets the same color (so true) to Juno.  I had to quickly walk away so that I could start laughing like a maniac.  I mean, I got to see her in her natural environment!  I’m sure that she didn’t hear the hysterical laughing or she would have had security called on me at the book signing.

So now I am back to normal life.  Cleaning-out the cat litters, doing laundry and buying groceries before the next round of flights (once again to O’Hell airport).  Luckily the flights are both non-stops, so hopefully it will be pretty straight forward.  This is for (hopefully) the last wedding of the year.  If anyone else wants to get married, they just need to wait until, oh, I don’t know…….June.


A House Divided September 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 2:12 pm
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We have 2 cat litter boxes again. 


We were down to one very large Booda Clean Step domed monster for about a year.  We used to have a bunch of omega pawroll over type litter boxes, but Jiji got to the point where she would pee out the back of it with the front of her body completely in it.  We haven’t had that issue with the Booda since a cat has to walk completely into it in order to get to any litter.  Now she just randomly sometimes poops on the stairway into it.  Anyway, when Willma decided to move back into the house, I had to break out the omega paw box once again.  She would only sit and hiss at the litter box where the rest of them go.   She also hisses at their food as well.  I can only imagine that this is where the term “hissy fit” came from.  Well, unless it came from something like “pissy fit” which is another thing altogether.

So, now we have a separate food and cat litter box set up for Willma in the front room and the regular box in the office.  It is a lot of litter.  It is a lot of poop.  And the smell is more widespread.  It is not ideal and hopefully I will be able to get Willma to gradually move into the office where the other cat litter box is.


We are also having issues with the remaining puppies going to the bathroom in the house.  I don’t know if it is because Micheal is gone, and he was REALLY good about not ever going in the house (ok, there were a few exceptions to that statement.  A few times he totally protest pooped while we were on vacation and he had a few accidents when he was sick.  But for 10 years, that’s not a lot of interior pooping.).  It could also be that we were gone so much over the summer that they, I don’t know, forgot their training or something.  Anyway, they are both on “lockdown” for a while.  Which means that they cannot be anywhere in the house not in sight of either the husband or I at all times unless they are enclosed in their crates.  They are not happy about this.  Hell, I am not happy about this, but it is the only way that I can think of to get them to stop doing this.  Basically, start over and act like they are puppies again. 


Part of the Pee/Poop Factory

Part of the Pee/Poop Factory

It is a pee and poop fest ’round these parts!



Milo and Weezy being extra cute

Milo and Weezy being extra cute


What month is it? September 4, 2008

Today I have spun yarn, attended a garden club meeting, tried on a dress and found that it fits and done homework.  I have not yet done the cat litter, workwork, lawn mowing or substantial cleaning of the house.  And I still cannot remember what month it is let alone what day of the month or of the week for that matter.  Doh, going on vacation for a month unless everybody else suffers from the same collective brain lapse for weeks afterwards.  If you are the only one, it just makes you look (and feel) like a ditz.


I spun a 2nd bobbin of wool singles and plyed them together tonight.  The yarn is hanging in the bathroom drying currently.  It is different from my first yarn, it is more consistent, though still not what one would call “good”.  Hell, right now I am still just happy that I got the wheel together and that it actually works!  And, I know that practice is all that I need, lots and lots of practice….

The Lady Lake Garden Club meeting was as wonderful as I had expected.  I love how the members of this group do their roll call by showing a flower of something that is blooming in their yard at the time, or pay a quarter to the club funds.  I am so happy to have been chosen by this group 2 years in a row to receive their scholarship andI am always glad to see them.  They try to feed me and laugh at (most of) my jokes.  Totally my kind of people.

I am attending a wedding in California this weekend that I expect to be pretty fancy.  It is in a fancy area, the people are fairly fancy, and the wedding invitation was quite fancy.  So, I needed a dress that was a little, well, fancier than the J. Jill pack and wear dress that I’ve been wearing to weddings up to this point.  So, I’ve decided to break out the (kinda on the sexy side) Ann Taylor dress that I scored at a thrift shop a while back.  I am going to have to find shoes to go with it tomorrow (my shoe collection is growing at an astronomical rate lately, I blame my husband) and I am also getting a haircut/trim.  After all of that, I will be shiny.

I am into week 2 of class, and for once I did my homework BEFORE IT WAS DUE.  I am a huge procrastinator, huge.  Normally, I do homework in the hours prior to it’s due date/time.  I should do this non-procrastination thing more often I think.  I kinda like it:-)


Non-sequitor.  I am going to buy some glow-in-the-dark yarn tomorrow.  It is very exciting to me (though a little pricey, will use the 40% off coupon at Michael’s) and I plan on using it in one of the massive scrapghans that I am working on.  It could be fun to go to be only to see a glowing stripe across your bed.  Ideas like this amuse me.


Jiji the large cat has just awoken and decided that my lap is too empty.  I am going to sign-off for tonight in order to protect myself from a grand mauling.  Hopefully, pictures will be forthcoming.