Sarah Jane Humke

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

Autumn In Iowa October 5, 2011

Autumn in Iowa is… quirky.  It can go from the 80’s to below freezing in a day and does so often enough that it’s not commented on as “strange weather”.  There isn’t as much fall color here as there is in other places I’ve visited.  It is definitely not Rhinebeck, but few places are!  However, we do have the harvest, which is oddly fun to watch.  In my opinion, it is way more interesting than the football that everyone seems to get all excited about this time of the year. They even have stats on the evening news like they do for the sports as to what percentage of the crop is harvested, etc.

Perhaps I am a little odd.

The past week has been so warm that I feel sorry for the kids in the non air-conditioned schools around here. It seems a pity to be trapped indoors in this weather with its crisp mornings and flawless skies.  Knowing the kind of weather that will be coming down for us express from Canada in a few weeks makes these few weeks all the more glorious.
I’ve been taking the dogs out at every chance but I’ve not brought the camera all that much.  Today I rectified that.

This is a field that was harvested earlier this week.  It had soybeans planted in it and at one point they had 3 combines taking them out at one time.  It didn’t take very long for the crop to be out when you have that many machines (and people) working on it.  In the background you can see the Ackley Co-op and water tower.

The dogs are enjoying their daily walks with the exception of Meara who has to be coerced into coming along.  Micheal, who is a tubby little tank of a dog alongside Malcolm, sometimes quits early too, but he’s always game for going!

Autumn color in Iowa is more subdued than in other parts of the county, but it’s still there.  These are the sugar maples in front of our house from out in the field.

And from up close:

Trees aren’t the only things that provide fall color.  Here is a wild asparagus plant that grows in the ditch in front of the house:

One of the bad parts of harvest time is the grain trucks.  These are semis that haul grain from the fields to the elevators.  There’s nothing wrong with the trucks or the folks driving them in themselves, it’s the amount of dust that they kick-up on the road.  Even the dust isn’t really their fault, it’s just that it’s dry and the road gets dusty.  But the fact that there are probably a dozen of them going by each hour makes it so that everything outside is covered in a fine sifting of beige dust.

(Funny enough, with the 4 trucks that I took pictures of in order to get these 2 photos, all but one slowed-down when they saw me snapping pictures of them.  I’d guess that they have had complaints about their speed [they are going fast] in the past:-))

There is still a little other color around.  I found a few wild violets blooming still.  These little plants with their heart-shaped leaves have mostly taken over the lawn here and I don’t think anyone is complaining.  They make a lovely carpet of purple in the spring and summer.  I used to pick handfuls of these when I was a child and display them in juice glasses on the kitchen table.

Dad and I had dinner tonight at The Goat Barn out at Crazy Acres which is a great camping facility not too far down the road from us.  As you can guess, they put the restaurant in what used to be the goat barn.  This is a great place to camp around here as they even have cute cabins that can sleep a ton of people for really reasonable prices along with RV hook-ups and more traditional camping stuff.  The food at The Goat Barn is really reasonable with good-sized portions.  If you are around Ackley, you should stop in!


Still washing…. May 6, 2011

I finally finished washing a very large Jacob fleece that I got a couple of years ago (hangs head knowing that I should have washed them when I got them).  It wasn’t that difficult to wash, just that there was a LOT of it.  Most of the Jacob sheep that I have “met” have been pretty good-sized animals.  There are more than a few of them around here even, though I think that they are more pets and lawn mowers than normal sheep as they are fun to see with their coats of many colors and multiple horns.  I’ve moved onto a moorit Shetland that was purchased in the same batch as the rest of the British wool group.  It’s not nearly as nice as the fleeces that I picked-up in Lerwick from the special room at J&S.  Then again, the special room in J&S is a result of Oliver and his 60+ years experience working with Shetland fleeces.  When he sees a particularly interesting one, or a really, really nice one he pops it in there for the handspinners.  This Shetland of unknown provenance is nice, though seems quite dusty.  The water is less tea-like and more mud-like than I’ve seen to this point.  It also smells dusty.  Not like a barn like some of them have smelled but more like a shed where harvesting equipment is stored.  I know that is really splitting hairs (and that the majority of people in the world aren’t going to have a clue as to what the hell I’m talking about) but it is interesting.  It doesn’t smell particularly sheepy to tell you the truth.  Some of the Shetland fleeces that I got in Shetland had a lot of peat in them which made them “fun” to wash (more like I was dunking giant tea bags with wool in them over and over and over) but none of them smelled anything like this.  In fact, it makes me think that this fleece may have been from a Shetland sheep that isn’t located on the islands.  I have nothing to back this up unless I want to get all CSI on its ass (I could sample the “mud” that I am getting out of it and see what it’s composed of and then compare that to soil surveys taken of the islands…. Ok, wow, just geeked myself out there for a little bit!).

Anyway, I am glad to see the back of the Jacob as I was starting to get a tad on the bored side with it.  After the Shetland of unknown provenance I have 3 colored fleeces that were sold as simply “Fine Wool Coloured £2.75” and a “Cheviot £4.50”.  Just to stave off the question that I know is going to be coming, the huge Jacob fleece was £3, the Coloured BFL was £5.25 and the Shetland of unknown provenance £3.75.  Now, for those of you in the US that are beginning to hyperventilate over those prices for fleece, let me explain something.  This is an island covered in sheep.  In some areas farmers burn or mulch the fleeces that they get from sheep because they aren’t worth enough to pay for the shipping to the market (though, hopefully this won’t be the case this year as fleece prices have gone up significantly there).  I also didn’t get to choose the fleeces that I got for those prices.  But (hopefully I don’t have folks after me with wool combs after posting this!) the total price for the 7 fleeces that I got from the British Wool Marketing Board in 2009 was £33.70 and that included shipping to my house.  This isn’t tooooo uncommon of a price to tell you the truth.  Last year I got a Leicester Longwool at Woolfest for around £9 and the year before that I got a really nice Herdwick for £5.  All of my Shetland fleeces from Shetland were between £5 and £10 (they were priced per kilo) and they were really really nice, like they would have possibly gone for triple digits at Rhinebeck…  Some of the more canny farmers are starting to mark their fleeces up a bit for things like Woolfest, but most of them don’t too much yet as it is just too easy for most spinners here to get fleeces for very cheap or for free still.

So, you might be wondering what brought about this wool washing extravaganza all of a sudden.  One word: Moths.  I found a few in the downstairs part of the house on yarn that had been left out for ornamental purposes.  It’s not too surprising to find them given that A.) the house has no screens on its windows so every Tom, Dick and Harry Moth can fly in when it gets warm out if they want to and B.) there are sheep (and wool) all around us.  When I go for walks this time of the year, it’s not uncommon to find bits of wool in places that I know no sheep has been around and lining the sides of the roads after the wool truck has come.  So there is plenty of food for the insidious destroyers of goodness just laying about.  Anyway, I had all of these unwashed fleeces in the attic which (thankfully) hasn’t yet seen a single winged harbinger of destruction, but I was just waiting for it to happen.  That many unwashed fleeces could just draw them like the One Ring drew power seekers to Frodo (sorry, been watching the LOTR trilogy the last few nights).

So last weekend the hubby and I made fleece bags (large, pillowcase-like bags to hold [in my case] clean fleeces) out of some old sheets that we had from Florida for covering plants when it froze there.   He did the sewing and I did the cutting and we busted out a about a dozen in a little over an hour.  Into these bags I put a small notecard with all the information I have about a particular fleece covered with a plastic baggie.  I also put any original paperwork that may have come with the fleece into this baggie if I can.  The plastic baggie keeps the paper from getting funky and makes it a little easier to find.  After I put the fleeces into the fleece bags I will then put a couple of fleeces in their individual bags into a large, IKEA Dimpa bag and zip it closed.  That way I have a couple of layers of defense between the fleeces and the dusty-winged bringers of doom (layers of defense: Clean fleece [moths like it dirty], cotton bag [not much of a defense, but it is a layer] plastic breathable bag [more of a defense {I do not believe the stories about moths eating through plastic bags, much more likely in my opinion that there was a small hole in the bag to begin with or that (and I know that no-one wants to believe this of themselves) they put the woolen product away with moths or their eggs already on it and they then had a feast inside the sealed plastic bag} though still not perfect], in the attic [have lots of the new type moth balls up there {not the nasty ones we remember from when we were young, these are sort of greasy and actually smell nice}]).  I’m glad to finally have these washed as I’ve worried over the past few years that I was going to go up to the attic and find big paper bags (that’s what the fleeces came in) full of little squirmy moth larvae with their parents fluttering towards the heavens.  Also, at least in this house, clean fleeces take up less space than the dirty ones do.  This is mostly (I think) from the rather intense skirting that I give to some of them.  I’m not going to try to scrub caked-in manure from a fleece unless it is made from freaking gold.  Life is too short, fleeces are too cheap and it’s just plain icky.  The manky bits that I don’t use go to a neighbor to either compost or use as mulch on her allotment.

I do plan on getting some more fleeces at Woolfest this year if I can.  I live in a place where some pretty rare breed fleeces can be had for a really reasonable price.  Even if I don’t spin them for a while, I am going to wash them ASAP this time so I don’t stay awake at night having visions of Tineola bisselliella chowing down on them.

In completely unrelated news, I had good luck (in my opinion, not so much in my husbands) at the Tring auction.  Since I was busy last Saturday I bid on-line, which is really quite easy, though I’m not completely sure that you will get the absolute best price you could for it.  One of the things that I won was a set of Gardening Dictonary from the 1890’s which is in excellent condition with all sorts of clippings and even a proper letter inside one!  I love books with extra bits of emphera in them.

I also got the rockingest little set of tables.  We currently have a big, long sectional couch that has no end tables or coffee table for visitors to set their drinks on when they are chatting with us.  This solves that problem with little tables that slide out and can be used for each person!  Score!  Also it is the perfect size for our printer downstairs.  Double Score!!

I also signed-up for classes at Knit Nation again this summer.  I nearly forgot about the registration opening despite receiving multiple e-mails reminding me about it.  I did get 2 out of the 3 classes I wanted and am on a waiting list for the 3rd.  The two classes I’ll be taking (for sure) are both by Judith McKenzie and are Spinning a Fine Thread and The Gentle Art of Spinning for Socks.  The 3rd class that I wanted was Franklin Habit‘s Photographing your Fiber which, if I read things right, sold out in about 5 minutes after registration opened.  (Me thinks he might want to offer more of that class in the future!)  So, I would never ever wish ill on someone (who wasn’t cutting me off in traffic [and lets face it, that doesn’t technically count as it would be physically impossible for them to actually do that]) so I’m wishing for really really fantastic things to happen to everyone in my way of taking that class.  Winning trips to Tahiti, getting married, having a baby (that they really wanted of course!), moving to Australia, whatever floats their boat so that I can take their mooring space when they leave.  It’s not bad for your karma if you wish good things for people so that something good can happen to you is it??

I’m also getting ready for 2 Finns and a Yank hit the road Part II.  Barbro and Malin are coming back over for (hopefully) a more laid back visit (for all of us!) again this summer.  We are driving up to the Lakes District to go to Woolfest as well as to check out the area.  We’re going to be spending 3 nights up there.  This will be the most time that I have spent up there and I am looking forward to having a leisurely look around for once.  They will be staying with us for about a week and we are all really looking forward to it.  Well, except for Kali, Malcolm’s girlfriend next door.  Malcolm gets so wrapped-up in Malin that he frequently forgets about his other blond!  We’re driving up the day before so that we can get there bright and early and I at least, plan on hitting the fleece tables early and often!  (I can hear the husband keening as he reads this tonight… Sorry honey!)

So that takes care of June and July and as of right now I don’t have any concrete plans for August.  There might be something there, but it is with the hubby so am keeping it under wraps for the moment.

On other unrelated news, I’ve had very good mail this week.  I got my first installment of Knit magazine’s sock club that was dyed by Skein Queen.  It’s a lovely yarn with a nice twist and colors that I like.  She named all of the colorways that she did for the sock club after books.  Mine is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  It’s a great start to the club and I am very pleased with it!


Insanity Wrap-up October 27, 2009

I’m sure that some of you have noticed that I haven’t been on here in a while.  That is because, my dear readers, I have been asleep or catching up on things that needed catching up on here in The Old Chapel.  Mostly sleeping though to tell you the truth.  I turned into sleeping beauty without the spinning wheel (or being a teenager for that matter!!!).  The hubby had to leave for France the morning after I got home which was probably good for him in all reality as I was a very boring person to be around for the first few days back, I don’t even snore (I just always look a bit angry when I sleep for some reason [I think it’s really a look of concentration, I take sleeping very seriously!]).

Anyway, I realize that I haven’t posted about the tail-end of my trip so here it goes:

While in Florida still, I had sort-of a crazy last day getting to see everyone that I hadn’t seen up to that point.  I was booked for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Wednesday.  It was sort of insane but very fun to get to see everyone.

On Thursday I flew out from Orlando to White Plains on AirTran.  Everything went well though I lost my sunglasses somewhere in transit (it was ok, the weather in New York was less than sunglass weather!).  I met my roommate Malin at the White Plains train station after a few navigational delays and we headed North towards Rhinebeck.  Once again I am super happy that I used Ravelry as a way to share room/rides as Malin and I hit it off amazingly well.  Well, I guess that isn’t too big of a surprise since we both traveled thousands of miles to go to a sheep and wool festival (crazy likes crazy).  The drive-up to the Hudson Valley was not as pretty as in years past as we had first rain, then sleet, then (I kid you not) snow.  As I have not driven in falling snow with insane New York drivers passing me like I’m road kill in a while (read: ever) it was a sort of disturbing drive for parts of it.  Also, because of the weather, the beautiful fall colors the area is known for were obscured.  However, we made it to our hotel without incident and went shopping.  Yes, you read that right, we went shopping.  Malin had never been to a T.J. Maxx or Marshalls or any store like that before so we went to the Marshalls nearby and she liked it (a lot).  I got a few things for home as well.  We also went to Target where I checked-off a bunch of things on my very odd list of things to get in the US including 2 extra value sized bottles of Pepto (it’s really expensive here).

On Friday Malin and I both had workshops that went all day.  It was nice to be there before the whole festival opened up as it gave both of us a chance to see just how really big the place is.  We checked-in and went off to our individual workshops.  This year they had fun goodie bags for all of the workshop participants with a pen and a button that featured Leicester Longwools, this year’s breed of sheep on it along with some candy bars and coupons for various booths.  My classes were both with Annie Modesitt who is an awesome instructor.  She’s a really fun teacher that I highly suggest that taking her classes is a must to anyone even if you think you already know everything!!!  Annie battled the noise in the building all day long and mostly kept her temper about it (I would have been about 10 bajillion times more bitchy.  I would have turned into a fire breathing knitting Godzilla of doom!!)  Malin’s class was a little less, uh, good.  The instructor for the class was ill  (a very common thing I found as I traveled, the flu was early this year) so a replacement was found a half an hour prior to the class starting.  Now, trying to set up a class on designing lace patterns on the fly cannot be easy.  I’m hoping that the committee will refund the folks in that class their money like they discussed.  Though, from what I gathered, the lady that stepped-in to teach it did as good of a job as possible on such short notice.  Anyway, at the end of the day I bought two of Annie’s books and had them signed by her.  If you haven’t already checked them out, I would totally suggest it.  They are: Knit with Courage, Live with Hope and Confessions of a Knitting Heretic.  They can both be purchased in the normal channels or via Annie’s Website.  The first class of the day I also got a copy of one of her awesome flip books detailing how to do “Grandma” knit and purl increases.

Friday night we went out to eat with a bunch of the other Rodeway Inn Raveler’s at the restaurant that is right by the hotel.  It was surprisingly nice with several birthday parties and, I think, a wedding reception going on.  The group was super fun and the food was excellent.  I got a calamari pizza that was surprisingly tasty, even cold the next day!  We left the restaurant full and pleased and really ready for bed!



Most of the "Rodeway Gang" on Friday night.


Saturday was the opening day of Rhinebeck.  Malin and I got up early and got a great parking spot close to the 4-H gate.  I can definitely say that this year wasn’t as busy as last year was.  There was only really a couple of hours that you had to fight the crowds off whereas last year it was the majority of the day.  I think that the fact that it was not the nicest weather this year had something to do with it all.  It was overcast and cold and constantly feeling as though it was going to to break into a storm at any minute for most of the day.  However, it was still the glorious insanity that is Rhinebeck and lots of goodies were bought and even more were fondled and oohed and ahhed over.   A few really fun things that we both did were knitting on the big sock (they are trying for a Guinness World Record [it’s a FREAKING big sock]) and getting to meet and have her new book “The Knitter’s Book of Wool” signed by Clara Parkes.



Still some lovely fall colors despite the rain





Goats are always fun!



One of the parking lots



The Saturday Ravelry Meet-up


Yes, there were even kangaroos there!!!


Aflac!!! Aflac!! A couple of the actual Aflac ducks.

By the end of the day, we were both pretty zonked so we stopped at the grocery store that is near the fairgrounds for some provisions and headed-out towards the Ravelry party in nearby Red Hook.  We got mildly lost (didn’t bring the parking instructions) but it was ok as we were really early still.  The parking lot at the nearby school was pretty empty when we got there and we were on the first bus.  The party was great!  With-out the parking hassles, everything went so much smoother this year compared to last.  The food was yummy the goodie bags were, well, goodie and the company was fantastic.  Malin and I were on the first bus in and the last bus out!!!  Woot woot!! Party girls!!!!  Major props to the Ravelry crew for putting together such an awesome event once again!


On Sunday we didn’t get up nearly as early nor were we out the door as fast.  Since we were checking out of the hotel, we needed to make sure that we packed everything and had it all loaded in the car for that afternoon.   Even with the later start, we got an even better parking spot on day two!  It was significantly colder than it had been on Saturday.  We kept hearing rumors about bad weather in the city which made us both nervous about getting home in a timely manner.  Plus, we were both pretty exhausted.  We went around to a few of the places that we weren’t able to get to easily on Saturday.  It was so quiet that The Fold (home of Socks that Rock) didn’t have a line.  At all.  It was amazingly quiet.  We got a few more things and watched some of the Sheep to Shawl competition and did some of the food tastings and left around 1pm.



Some of the ladies in the Sheep to Shawl competition


Blue Ribboned entries.


There was a guy there doing these awesome pumpkin carvings!


The drive back down to White Plains was pretty uneventful.  It was rainy and blowy but otherwise, no big surprises.  I dropped Malin off at the train station and made my way back to the White Plains airport where I dropped my car off and struggled to get all three of my very large bags into the airport.  I had just gotten into the door after a massive struggle when a very kind lady asked if I needed any help.  She didn’t work there, she must have just seen the look of near desperation on my face.  This kind stranger got me to the United check-in area where something even stranger faced me.  A really nice United gate worker.  He took one look at my face and had me just chill and breathe for a few minutes.  (I must’ve really looked like hell is all that  I can think!)  He then checked me in for my flights and even helped me carry my bags over to security!!!  Going through security was a breeze and I was left to chill in the airport as I was a couple of hours early.
However, as the time approached for my flight to start boarding, there was no notice anywhere.  I went over to the United counter and there was a sign saying that my flight to DC was delayed an hour.  This is seriously not good as I only had about a 50 minute transfer.  Speaking with the girl behind the counter, it pretty quickly became apparent that I was going to be spending the night somewhere that was not in the air London bound.  So, when the puddle jumper finally arrived, I got on it with a sense of resignation knowing that I either A.) would have to run like a bat out of hell for my gate or B.) would have a night in DC.  It was the latter as I missed my flight by about 10 minutes.  So, I walked over to the customer service area and amazingly my luck held as I got another very nice (though harassed) United employee who set me up for the night in a really nice resort hotel on the Potomac.  Luckily, the pub in the hotel was open until midnight so I was able to get some excellent food before going to bed.
My flight left the next morning at 9:30am and since my luggage was still in the bowels of Dulles airport, checking in was a cinch.  Everything left on time and we arrived at Heathrow a little bit early.  Really, the whole thing wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the hubby hadn’t taken the day off to hang-out with me.  I was more upset by that than anything else.  As it ended-up, I got in at around 9pm and it takes a good hour plus to get home from that airport.  The hubby had to leave for a business trip to Paris the next morning at 5am so we didn’t get a whole lot of time to spend together.



My nice room courtesy of United Airlines


See, really can't complain.

I then proceeded to sleep for the better part of the week while he was gone with at least 3 animals touching me at all times.




Milo giving me some love while I sleep

It’s good to be home.



Bad Blogger, No Cookie! October 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 3:26 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yeah yeah, I know I haven’t been up here very much in the past couple of weeks.  I have a few very good reasons for this actually.  A.) I was tired of posting all the time.  B.) Internets were iffy a lot of the time C.) Iowa was pretty boring and D.) I have been really busy since I got Florida.

Good excuses huh?

Anyway, since I have gotten to Florida, as I said, I have been busy.  I’ve been booked for dinner or something almost every night since I got here.  Of course I went to the Happy Hookers on Thursday night and it was as great as usual.  However, they decided  it wasn’t enough “Sarah time” and a plan for dinner on Friday night was hatched!  We went to Nonna on Edgewater and it was EXCELLENT!  I would highly suggest it to anyone wanting a great place to eat in the area.  Anyway, afterward a few of the hookers still hadn’t had enough “Sarah time” and kidnapped me (that’s my story at least and I’m sticking to it!) to the Drunken Monkey, a great indie coffee place near Bumby and Colonial.   We hung out until nearly midnight!!  Yesterday I went with Cesar and Pam to IKEA and the millenia mall.  Not a whole lot of time to hang-out and write blogs posts…

So, Florida weather has been intent on reminding me why exactly I’m kinda glad not to be living here anymore.  It’s been extremely freaking hot the entire time that I have been here.  It’s been so hot that even the people who like it hot are complaining.  Hot and muggy have been the words of the day around here.  I feel like I need to grow gills in order to take a walk outside!

There are so many things that I miss about Florida, but the weather is soooooo not one of them.  I miss my friends here all the time.  I miss the ease of, well, everything here.  Want to go out to eat?  Hop in the car and run to what ever kind of food you have a hankering for.  Need some yarn for a project on a Sunday night?  Run to Jo-Anns before it closes.  In England everything has to be planned and plotted before you can really do anything anywhere.  Admittedly, it has made us better at conserving the car and resources but it is a pain-in-the-ass at times.  I don’t miss the aggressive traffic that seems to follow you with the nose of their cars up your tailpipe.  And I don’t miss the HEAT!!!

Honestly, I now know that this trip has been just about 10 days too long.  So, for future reference, if I am ever planning a 60 day trip again would someone remind me of this before I leave?  I’m really happy to see everyone but I’m kinda done.  I want to be home in my own bed with my own pets.

Yes, I’ll take some cheese with that whine.

However, I get to go to Rhinebeck in less than a week.

I know, I suck.


Travel Plans August 8, 2009

So, it is now really real.  My travel plans are pretty much in carved in soap stone at this point.  This means that they are booked but could change due to the varagancies of the Travel Gods.  Or weather.  I mean, it is autumn in the Midwest not exactly an area known for it’s weather consistancy.  Still, I don’t think that I should have too many problems the time of year that I will be there.  So, here is the plan as it stands today:

August 21st London to Chicago via Dusseldorf

August 26th Chicago to Iowa

August 28th to October 4th  Iowa to Alaska back to Iowa

October 5th Iowa to Orlando

October 10th-ish Orlando to Key West with the hookers

October 15th Orlando to White Plains, NY

October 16-18 RHINEBECK!!!

October 18th White Plains, NY to London via Dusseldorf


I should start calling this the “Traveling Insanity Tour ’09”.

 Anybody who wants to meet-up with me on the way just give me a holler in the blog comments!


Shopping List August 7, 2009

Here is my shopping list for the US so far*:

Kool-Aid Believe it or not they don’t sell this paragon of sugary virtue here at all.  However, I don’t want it to drink, I want it to dye with as apparently it makes an excellent wool acid dye that doesn’t smell bad and it pretty non-toxic.  It is also something that is good to trade with other fiber freaks (sort of like smokes in the “big house”, ya know?).

Fritos They don’t have Fritos here.  This makes it rather difficult to have the chili-with-cheese-and-sour-cream-eaten-with-Fritos meal.

Jeans Everything is sized so differently here.  I swear, given the sizing of the jeans, no one has an ass here.  They are just sitting on the back of their legs.

Orchid Basket I need this for one of the orchids that they have.  I guess maybe I just got used to being in Florida where these are sold at Home Depot.  Then again, orchids grow like weeds in the trees there too….

Beads, Buttons and Fabric  JoAnn’s, here I come!!!!

IKEA Cat Scratchers I guess that cats here don’t scratch, much like they don’t pee or poop either as evidenced by the lack of clumping cat litter.

Underwear See “Jeans” above.

Yarn/Fiber Duh.  I’m going to Rhinebeck dudes.

Lysol  I guess that they don’t have germs here either.

Charmin On-The-Go  This is a little roll of Charmin that has a hard plastic case.  It’s great for traveling.  I carried on of these in my purse for a year and it saved my ass many times!  Alas, the version that they sell here has a plastic bag type of covering for it and I fear that when the roll gets a little smaller it will be less sturdy and in need of the protection.

Plastic Baggies  The baggie culture here isn’t nearly as sophisticated as in the US.

Pepto-Bismol  This stuff costs a small treasury here.  Seriously, it is mucho expensivo.  For what folks living in the States (I’ve become more sensitive to saying “Americans” since I got here.  I mean, there are lots and lots of Americans and only some of them come from the US) would consider a “travel sized” bottle you pay something like $20.  Dude, this is on the list for Costco!!!!

A Cheap DVD Player  Our US DVD player bit the dust a few weeks after we got here.  So we got one that would play UK DVDs (yes, they are different, doesn’t that suck on so many levels???) and Tech Support thought that he would be able to break  I mean hack it so that it would play all the different DVDs no problem.  Alas and alack, it has proven more difficult than that and I have not been able to watch any of my favorite DVDs except on my computer.  Doh, suck.

Black Beans  There is also not a whole lot of Mexican cooking here.  Go figure.


I know this sounds like a hell of a shopping list, but I have 2 large suitcases that are going to be filled mostly with things that are not coming back with me.  I’ll give you a hint, there are 2 afghans, a throw blanket, 4 small travel pillows and a passel of large books that aren’t coming back with me.  I’m not taking a lot of clothes with me (see “jeans” and “underwear” above) as it is obvious by the length of this trip that I am going to need to hunt down a laundromat at some point in the trip.

*List is subject to change.  Change may occur because the writer saw something that she did not think of in the UK or merely because it was “way cool” or “so fraking cheap!”  


Almost fraking done! August 1, 2009

So, the Flower Power blanket, otherwise known as the blanket for Cesar and Pam, is very nearly done.  I finished sewing it together this week (thank the Gods) and am working on putting the edging on it.  I’m so happy that this project is done I could (and have) done a little dance.  It’s not that I didn’t like making it.  I really liked crocheting this one up.  Well, except for that whole unexpectedly ran out of the yarn that I needed for the center of the flowers when I’m several thousand miles away from a place that sells it thing.  That kinda sucked (thanks again Lily!).  Honestly, it wasn’t even the sewing.  It was the headaches that I got from the sewing.  I know that I should go see an eye doctor but I just can’t bring myself to go through all of that until I am back from my big trip to the states.


Speaking of the trip.  I realized that I haven’t yet put up an itinerary for where all I am going and roughly when (I don’t even know all of it yet!).  So, here it goes:

I start off flying from London, Heathrow to Chicago on the 21st of August.  I will be staying in Chicago from the 21st until the 26th when I take the California Zephyr (Amtrak train) to Osceola, IA where my mother is going to be picking me up.  I will then be staying in Iowa until the 28th or the 29th when my parents and I are leaving by car for Alaska.  We will be gone on this part of the trip for anywhere from 4-6 weeks, not really sure yet.  So when we get back, sometime in the end of September or beginning of October, I will then make my way down to Florida for a few weeks.  There is a trip in the planning for Key West with a bunch of hookers the weekend of the 10-11th of October.  The next Friday, the 16th, I’ll be making my way up to Rhinebeck for the NY Sheep and Wool festival.  On the 18th, I fly from White Plains to DC and then back to London, Heathrow.  I will have been gone approximately 60 days.  I will also be spending a LOT of time on United Airlines (gag).  I wish that I could take Amtrak a little more (luggage restrictions and all of that are easier) but it really wasn’t feasible at all.  Now, a few things in this itinerary…  I plan on being at the Ravelry party on Saturday night so if anybody wanted to meet me this would be a good place to do it.  I may or may not make it to the Ravelry meet-ups at Rhinebeck as I always mean to and then get too excited about everything going on and totally forget.  Maybe I’ll have more control this year (snort!).  I’m also thinking about taking a class at Rhinebeck if I get in early enough on Friday.  Annie Modesitt is teaching several classes this year and, shockingly, they aren’t sold out yet.  (I think that this is sort of a Sock Summit “shadow”.  It will be interesting to see if the crowds at Rhinebeck are thinner this year because of it as well since so many people only have enough money to do either one or the other…)

I have at least finished one thing this week.  The traveling baby blanket that I made out of leftover Cottontots is completely finished, even the ends are woven in.  I plan in taking it over to my neighbor sometime next week for her church to use as a fundraising tool.  Here it is:


Today has been…rough.  I couldn’t sleep last night at all.  I was still perky and awake when the birds started singing this morning.  At around 7am I took the dogs out for a good walk.  I wasn’t tired for any of it and the Hubby got up and joined me.  I then abruptly became really tired and more or less passed-out for about 4 or 5 hours.  Ugh.  Then I got up and made banana bars and managed to overbake them.  I won’t say burnt as they are really only just a tad too brown.  Still, it was annoying.  Then I made banana bread (are you seeing a theme here?) where half of the batter went into a normal sized loaf pan and the other half went into 4 tiny little pans.  The little ones turned out ok, the big one, not quite so.  I’m not sure what happened there but I guess I’ll just have to try again!

Last night while I wasn’t sleeping, I designed and ordered some mini “business” cards with Moo.  I saw a lot of these at Woolfest and thought that they seemed much cooler than traditional business cards.  I decided to get some for myself as I noticed that at gatherings of fibery folks I was always asking what folks Ravelry names were and then forgetting it before I had even gotten home.  I put my electronic contacts on these cards and then an assortment of photographs on the other side of them.  I figured that I will probably be meeting a lot of folks on my trip and pulling out one of these cute little cards was way easier than trying to record things on napkins or scraps of paper that always get lost.  I totally suggest checking out the site as you can order 10 normal business sized cards for free.

One cool thing that happened today was that I finally got my actual paper degree from UF.  It looks quite official and fancy.  I was surprised that they put a little thing on the actual degree that said “Cum Laude”.  How cool is that?!!?  Now I just need to find a frame for it!