Sarah Jane Humke

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

Adventures in Moving: Day 1 September 12, 2011

At 9am this morning my house was invaded by 5 strong men armed with packing tape and giant rolls of bubble wrap with cats on it.  The moving crew had arrived.

They immediately set to work boxing and wrapping everything that they could get their hands on.  It’s actually quite remarkable.  The speed and efficiency at which my world is being put into boxes and bubble-wrap is truly incredible.  That, and the amount of paper that they are using!  Since the actual booking was sort of last-minute they are loading everything into these big crates and then they will put everything into the container when it gets there.

It’s sort of like a dance of the hippos watching these guys manfully handle all these very heavy boxes and pieces of the furniture down stairs and around corners.

Jiji is still unflappable despite the organized chaos around her:

Mal was very social in the beginning, but decided that he wanted the sanctuary of his crate pretty soon:

Later in the day Mal, Meara and I went on another road trip to right near Heathrow airport.  Mal was going to get measured for his custom crate!  I didn’t take a picture of it, but it is a rather industrial looking bit of kit made out of wood and wire.  This new-to-us crate enabled us to get the price down enough so that he could so that he could travel on the same flight as the rest of us because it was several inches smaller than the great big crate in a few dimensions.  This is good news so that we don’t have to wait around all day for Mr. Mal to arrive!

I’m exhausted so I’ll write more tomorrow…




I can’t even… September 9, 2011

I am so stressed right now I can’t really write at all.  So instead I will give you pictures to show what my life is like right now…

Malcolm's massive travel "carrier" with Belle and Jiji atop it.

A selection of the clay pots scrubbed and bleached ready to be packed.

The top landing of the house filled with bagged-up fleece and fiber and a little bit of bedding.

These little towers of catty-ness are all over the place. Technically I'm not "allowed" to pack but if it was already in something they said not to unpack it....

More fiber and bedding. I'm kinda afraid that one of these piles will have a fleeceslide and bury me!


And still no sweaters….



“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.





Great (Cat) Balls of Fire!!! November 2, 2009

A couple of nights ago the hubby and I were setting up for an invigorating game of scrabble (I know, we are the most boring couple on the planet!!) and we had lit a few candles on the dinning room table.  Now, I’m not sure what Jiji thought that I was doing up there, but food (her usual motivator to do anything that requires, you know, moving [Jiji is our personal incarnation of Jaba the Hut {but without the hot, ill-fitting metal bikini clad Carrie Fisher on the end of a chain}]) wasn’t part of the package.  So, she hops up on the table to nose around and, well, not to put to fine of a point on it, sets herself on fire.  Now, something that I learned from watching the fire woosh up her side is that cat fur does not have the same flame retardant/resistant properties as wool!!! She wasn’t hurt at all, just had a bunch of her hairs singed which caused her to clean herself for hours after we brushed the cat fur charcoal off of her so that she wouldn’t ingest it.  Ahhhh, the smell of burning cat fur right before bed….

Tomorrow night is Yarn Therapy here in lovely Ivinghoe Aston.  I know I haven’t mentioned it too much of late but it seems that everyone decided to join a knitting group while I was traipsing around the US and Canada.  So, to that end I will be in the pub two nights in a row as tonight is Quiz Night!  Woo hoo!  On the first Monday of each month we have these down at the Village Swan.  Neither Tech Support nor I are any good at them usually, sort of a cultural relevancy issue mostly.  What I mean is that people who are famous here are quite often not the same famous people as in the US.  That, and we didn’t really learn Prime Ministers in the US:-)  Anyway, it’s a fun night for us as we usually learn a great deal about recent the history of our village from one of our team mates as well as it being a really good time to pump people for information about, well, stuff around here as most everyone in the village without small children tend to attend.

I also want to give a great big shout out to my friend Terri Pike who got a huge mention on Cast-On today!!  Go check out her very cool website with tutorials on how to felt.  Just remember Terri, we were on Cast-On first 😉

I am sending to the pond once again, the gray sock.  Not only does it not fit my feet but while traveling home from the US an entire needle slid out dropping all of the stitches which, pretty bad on it’s own, was then compounded by the motion of the baggage being moved around and such making all of the dropped stitches run like wussies back down the foot of the sock until they came to the heel.  This sock is not only being frog-ponded but it will have the added pleasure of being put into the time-out corner as well!  Since that left me sans a sock to knit on, I got out the Krafty Koala sock yarn that I got at Woolfest this spring.  It’s called Tui Sock and is a Merino/Cashmere/Nylon blend in the colorway “Undergrowth”.  To say that I nearly had a yarngasam just balling it (get your mind out of the gutter!) would be an understatement.  This stuff is so soft and smooshy I really would love to knit a pillowcase out of it.  The color is a dark green with just hints of blue-ish in it.  I will post a picture when I find a time that I can stop fondling it.  Until then, I have some yarn to molest 🙂


Insulin Anyone? July 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 8:27 am
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This has been a seriously rough weekend here at The Old Chapel.  Jiji, the cat that my husband had when I first met him, became quite ill on Thursday night.  She stopped eating and was quite lethargic so I stayed up all night with her trying to get her to eat and drink every half hour or so.  On Friday I took her into the vet where they put saline under her skin and gave me some more to take home to keep her hydrated while we awaited the results of the blood tests that they took while we were there.  That evening Tech Support stayed up with her, both of us thinking it was a death vigil as her condition had worsened despite the massive amounts of fluids injected into her.  On Saturday we got the results from the vet and they were really surprising to us.  Jiji seems to be diabetic, which accounted for all of the symptoms, even ones which we didn’t perceive as such like the fact that she had lost a lot of weight over the past year.  We had to take her straight to the local ER vet (I am NEVER bitching about how far the ER vet in Casselberry was every again!) where they put her on a drip IV and started trying to get her blood sugar back down into a safer range.  She spent Saturday night there and we were able to pick her up again Sunday afternoon and bring her home.

She’s getting better slowly.  We know that she has more energy as she’s been bitching about the diet food that they put her on and rambling about the house some more.  This disease means that she will get twice daily shots just under her skin for the rest of her life, which she is dealing with admirably.  

I’m just happy that this isn’t being written with tears streaming down my face…



They are watching me! September 12, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 8:59 pm
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Ok, so maybe I am little paranoid, but I just got a webcam for a distance ed class that I am taking, and it is freaking me the fuck out. It’s a little voyeur into the life of my cats and I. I feel like it is watching me, even though the little lens case thingy is closed. Ugh. I hate it. I have fought (successfully) for several years against having one of these in my house. Now, against my will and required for a class that I need to graduate I have one perched on the top of my screen. Sigh. Next they will implant a chip into my neck. They’ve already done it to the cats and dogs! Y’all think I’m paranoid….just you watch.

The view from the Logitech Webcam

The view from the Logitech WebcamJiji on webcam!Milo in Motion!Jiji is being watched too!Milo in motion!

Today I got some new books. Through Paperback Swap I got Died in the Wool, Knit Fast, Die Young, A Deadly Yarn, and Needled to Death. Are you seeing a pattern with the book selections? Thought so. Now I am going to blow that pattern out of the water (sort of, if you really know me, the following selections won’t seem too odd). This afternoon I received signed copies of these books: Cutting Propagation and Nutrient Deficiencies in Bedding Plants. I am a geek on so many levels. And I have a seriously eccentric library!

The lovely and sweet Ivy cat is recovering well at the vets office after her surgery today. She will be coming home to the greenhouse in the morning and I am sure will receive much attention from all there. I always feel so bad for the cats and dogs right after I get them from surgery. With one big exception. When the vet brought Micheal out from his neutering, he was literally bouncing on his back two legs. When the lady at the desk said that I needed to keep him calm and as immobile as possible. I just looked at him, doing circus dancing tricks all over the lobby, then at her and asked how she proposed that I do that? She didn’t last too long at my vet’s office.


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.