murder in the neighborhood

Of crows that is…

crows 002 crows 013

(sorry for the blurry pics!)

They are raucous and incredibly entertaining. Some of them make cronking noises almost like a raven. I think that’s because there are sometimes ravens nearby, and the crows are trying to play with the big boys.

crows 005 crows 037

The Cornell Ornithology Lab has some info, including recorded sounds. The crows around town make caws, calls, and rattles like those, but they also make that cronking sound. I have no idea what it is.

Hmmm… Life Histories of Familiar North American Birds suggests it might be a lovesick crow…

The prolonged ‘car-r———-a———-c——-k’ of a love sick individual in spring, uttered in various tones and drawn out into prolonged gurglings, though somewhat like the call of the young for food is still quite different.

But they do this all year round here…

In a 1923 excerpt at the Life Histories book, Townsend notes this…

The conversational notes of a small group or family of Crows are always entertaining, and the observer is impressed with the extensiveness of their vocabulary and with the variations in their feelings. At times the notes are low and confidential, pleasant and almost melodious, if I may use that word here; again they are raucous and scolding, bursting at times into a veritable torrent of abuse. In the same way, in human conversations, one may, even without understanding the words, be able to interpret the meanings and motives involved.

Maybe I’ll manage to record their crazy noises and play them for somebody who knows about such things.

In the meantime, we also have a super lucky elephant.

elephant 002 elephant 001

Twenty-five pounds of jasmine rice. Is that a bat hanging on that elephant?

another step closer

…to finishing the back living room (aka the living room living room as named by boyo when he was 3, to distinguish it from the family room living room that we actually do the “living” in). The living room is probably the prettiest room in the house, and the least used of the downstairs rooms. We close it off in the winter with a blanket in the doorway, and it gets really cold in there.

All summer I’d been noticing a faintly mildewy smell (or more accurately for me, taste) in that room, and when I’d walk by the doorway to go upstairs. It was finally time to take some action. I learned this summer that I have a slight mold allergy, and even with the dysosmia issues, I can still taste mold/mildew perhaps more than smell it. Not especially pleasant.

The beginning

liv rm project (1) liv rm project (5)

liv rm project (2) liv rm project (9)

It’s not too cluttered in these photos, but it is… Stuff just lands there. Camping gear, stuff that should go into the attic, stuff that should go in the barn, stuff that should just go away… Often there is a weight set in there over the winter and/or a bicycle in a stand. The room serves as library, laboratory, and herbarium. There’s a fireplace behind that chest, but we closed it up because of the drafts.

When the house was built, this was originally two smaller rooms. Not sure when they opened it up, but I’m glad somebody did. Now the room measures about 25 feet by 10. This is half of the downstairs of the main part of the house. The other half is the kitchen, which is open into the dining room. Open from the dining room is the ell where we mostly “live”, and where there’s a woodstove.

in progress

Two coats of paint on the ceilings took longer than I thought it would! And then…
liv rm project (24) liv rm project (34)

There was loose wallpaper around the fireplace. Yes, somebody had painted over the wallpaper. I wasn’t going to take it all down, but I had to get up that hanging, loose bit. And then it was hard to stop. And then I had a good time skim coating it (really, I did).
liv rm project (40)

Two coats behind the bookshelves, ceilings done, trim has a coat, and a coat or two on the walls…
liv rm project (46)

There are six windows in this room! When I did the back (red) wall, I just painted the window, but as I did the rest of the room, I realized that three windows needed attention, and I may as well take out and put back in the one with the sash weights so that the cords are new.

things i discovered

The window that had cords hanging from the lower sash, and pulleys at the top of the window case, doesn’t actually have pocket doors to access the sash weights. I have no idea if there are sash weights in there or not! Also, this window glass was cracked, so out it came. It’s still in the barn, waiting for a piece of glass.
liv rm project (60)
Where is the weight pocket???

painting windows pc heat gun
Painting the lower sashes and trim pieces that hold the windows in. The heat gun is a new toy; it allowed me to get the old glazing out of the window with the broken glass without killing myself or the window sash…

Two windows had the sash weight/pulley system replaced with something called a Caldwell Sash Balance. They still make these things, but they are totally different. Generically, these things are called coil spring balances.
caldwell sash balance (6) caldwell sash balance (9)

caldwell sash balance (7) caldwell sash balance (3)
They sit where the pulley goes, and there is a metal strip that comes down where the cord goes, and that open triangular hookey thing goes where the knot goes. All of mine are broken and/or rusted. And the windows need sticks to prop them open.

Do you think anybody makes these anymore? I’ve found a company in the midwest who sells them, but their sizes are a tad different than what I have. I have to call them soon. I have two other windows in the house with these things in them. Pain in the ass. Why did anybody replace the so easy to maintain sash and pulley system???

Be still my beating heart!
I think I just found them!!

I also discovered that at some point the mantel was gold. Bright, shiny, and gold.
liv rm project (66)

The stuffed chair that was in the room is especially mildewy. It came to us with some issues, and they’ve gotten worse. It’s a good chair, but it’ll be ~$700 to reupholster. I may try to do this myself… I mean, what is there to lose?

And now

liv room painted (5) liv room painted (8)
(things still aren’t quite picked up… we need to organize some of the plant specimens… and I never pulled the stuff off of this wall to paint it, but it’s totally covered by cabinets and shelves. Maybe in the spring.)

The oldest books (over 100 years old some of them, but none valuable… they’re all in middling condition or so) are going through an airing regimen to get rid of some of the mustiness… and they got sprayed with Lysol. We just need another sunny day or two to put them out again.
airing old books (1)

What’s interesting is that the wall changes color in the different lights,
liv room painted (3) liv room painted (10)

and the best part?

We’re getting a gas fireplace insert and planning to use the room this winter!

Striped Mushroom Sweater Finished!

It’s actually been finished for a week or two now, but it had to be blocked, and then I had to get pictures of DH wearing it… all the important things, ya know? It’s been two years in the making, but it’s done.

Two years ago I went to Rhinebeck and picked up 11 skeins of plain Bartlett Yarn. A year ago I caked up all the yarn I’d dyed with mushrooms. All the details about which mushrooms gave which colors with which mordants are here. DH’s birthday is in January, and this sweater was intended for his birthday, January 2012. He finally got it mid-September!

Here are a few re-cap pics,
cakes 013 <striped mushroom sweater body

And here it is done,
finished and blocked mushroom sweater (10)

The back, and a sleeve,
finished and blocked mushroom sweater (2) finished and blocked mushroom sweater (7)

And on,
mushroom sweater 009 mushroom sweater 013

Shoulder detail,
finished and blocked mushroom sweater (15)

This is the Real Raggsock pattern from Inger Fredholm’s Knitting with a Smile. I’ve met her and her (late) husband Nils. She’s a lovely person (and he was as well). My pal Alphy is friends with Inger, and I hope she sees this version of her pattern!

More details over on my Ravelry project page for this sweater. Basically I did a bunch of short-rows in the back to account for shoulders. We always think of men as straight up and down, especially DH, who is thin, but men have shapes and these need to be accounted for, just like boobage in women’s sweaters. I made this sweater for DH years ago (another Ravelry project link), without additional length in the back, and it just rides up, about 4 inches in the back! Makes me crazed, but he still wears the thing… even after re-kitting the cuffs twice (and currently the elbows are worn through and the cuffs need to be re-done).

I’m hoping he’ll treat the mushroom stripes the same and wear it all the time.