Archive for the ‘life in maine’ Category

Snowmelt 2013 Contest Winner!

May 28th, 2013 by knitnzu

My high school friend Lynne! She guessed May 27. Truthfully, I didn’t look yesterday, but it is all gone today. There was still a bit of ice under some dirt there last Thursday.

In other news.

You might think I’ve been ignoring the blog. You might not be wrong. I still can’t get in from home on my iPad, and it’s a pain to post from there anyhow (wordpress admin platform issue). And I regularly can’t get in on my laptop. But I seem to almost always be able to get in on the old, old, old PC.

And I’m very unhappy with the new flickr set-up. It takes forEVER to load, on my iPad, laptop, and PC. Sure it’s pretty, but I don’t care what it looks like. I want to be able to go in and quickly manage or grab the photos I want.

Pics, so this isn’t a totally photo-less post…

I’ve been snorgling these puppies… they’re 4 weeks old here, and related to my girls.
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Random shot around the yard from a week or so ago, before the deluge. That rhododendron in the background is beginning to bloom!
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I saw these folks earlier this month in NH… and will see some of them again this weekend at Fiber Frolic!
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Latvian Mittens! Fastest Living Thing! (Zone of Repugnance, don’t worry, no creepies here)

March 24th, 2013 by knitnzu

Or a single mini-mitt, and not quite finished…

A friend and I went down to Portland for a class in making Latvian Mittens. They are quite the art form and have a rich and interesting history, like much knitting.

Here are some photos of everybody’s mittens,
latvian mitts (6)

latvian mitts (3)

Compare mine in orange/purple in the body (red fringe) and another person’s in purple/orange (green fringe). They look so different! She used orange for pattern and purple for contrast, and I did vice-versa.

I yanked some more on the fringe on mine when I got home, and now it’s better!
latvian mitts (14)

Mistakes (shhh!).
latvian mitts (16)

All good, though, as I learned how to make that fringe, and the braid. I’m still a tad fuzzy on the finger end of the mitten… how the decreases and color work to make those ridges of color. But I’ll figure it out.

Latvian Mittens by Lisbeth Upitis. Now I need this!

… and….

Treasure!

Books and dyed yarn samples from Sam Ristich, via his daughter Ruthie. I didn’t know what was in this bag and box until after I got home from the mitten class.
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These are fabulous books and I’m so grateful to have them.
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And there are loads and loads of dyed yarn samples. I’ve just started to sort them out.
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Ruthie gave a talk yesterday for the Maine Mycological Society about fungal spores. It was really interesting, and she did a great job… even used living people to demonstrate fungal spore anatomy!

Most interesting to me was the bit about the fastest living thing on earth, a fungus called Pilobolus (just like the dance company). It lives on horse dung, in what is known as The Zone of Repugnance.

…I must work that phrase into conversation at least once a day…

The spores must get out of the Zone of Repugnance, but because they are so small, air is very viscous to them. So, to get out of the Zone of Repugnance, they have to move really, really quickly.

It looks like they just disappear… but they shoot their spore caps (asci) off so quickly (20,000 G!) that we can’t see it happen. There one moment, gone the next.

More about the fastest living thing and the Zone of Repugnance,

So it’s snowing…

February 9th, 2013 by knitnzu

And I can still get into my blog, so here are some pictures.

The big part of the storm came overnight, and it’s still going on. High winds, drifting snow, a lot of snow (especially for Maine). I think we have between 17 and 20 inches in our yard. Records are being broken all over southern Maine with 29-33 inches and still snowing). Not sure about here.

The view out the kitchen window this morning,
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and the view the other way… (Gravy in front, Zuzu in back)
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The inside of the door to the outside, and cracking it open to get out,
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We had to shovel out to go get the boyo, who had spent the night at a friend’s,
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No problems driving around in the old Subaru. DH says I want a Subaru. I think we will fix this one (it needs a head gasket and new timing belt), and probably get another at some point.

Coming back from gathering up the offspring, and coming down Sand Hill, we wondered what was going on. It was soon apparent that somebody tried going up the hill and couldn’t make it, so they had to back down the hill. A truck was sitting next to the car, waiting for it to back down the hill, and there was a line of trucks with plows waiting at the bottom.
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(SUV in that line decided that it wasn’t going to make it up either and is turning around here)

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State Street, between the rotary and the turn up Winthrop,
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Crazed driver and non-plussed sprog,
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Turning onto our road!
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And almost at our house, there it is on the left (in the right photo),
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That snowdrift out the back kitchen window?
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(for reference, he’s about 6 feet tall)

It is nearly impossible to shovel with the dogs around, especially Zuzu. She wants to catch the snow as it flies off the shovel. So she’ll put her face right at the shovel. She frequently gets bopped in the chin, but she doesn’t care. And then Gravy starts barking, because she wants in on the fun too. Here’s Zuzu waiting for the next shovelful. She was eventually enticed to go play ball and we finished clearing off the steps.
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I’m in! I’m in!

February 8th, 2013 by knitnzu

I have been unable to access my blog from home for weeks… so there’s a lot to catch up on.

Some highlights.

napalm!

hair (1)

It’s faded quite a bit since I did it two weeks ago (date of the photo). But it’s still pretty entertaining.

spa!

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More photos in the flickr set.

knitting the sky

I’m about 3/4 of the way around the edging on my star chart shawl, Celestarium. Here it is before I started the garter stitch edging,
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Other knitting… I interrupted the edging to make a quick pair of fingerless piano mitts for somebody who is moving to Wisconsin, and then I forgot to take a photo!

it’s snowing!

ayup.

And the State, in it’s everloving wisdom, uses leaf-blowers to move the snow around on the sidewalks,
snow 8 feb 2013 (5)

And either the state or the city uses not one, but two plows to clear the path along the river… the path in the woods that doesn’t go anywhere.
snow 8 feb 2013 (21) snow 8 feb 2013 (22)

This makes me wonder. And this also makes me wonder… the state has decided to invest in plastic trash cans. So we can all have identical rectangular cans. Because something was wrong with the old round metal ones. Or maybe they’re going to make a lot of money on them in scrap. Honestly, why?
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I miss my round can. It was a subtle subconscious signal for “put trash here”, while the blue rectangular plastic can means “put recyclable paper here”. Now I have to pause and think… where does the paper go? Where does the trash go? These two things are the same size and shape. One is just blue and doesn’t have a plastic bag liner.

I did see some pretty things on my walk…

Bark blowing in the wind,
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redbreast!
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and I love looking at bark and branch architecture,
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(white ash bark, black cherry bark that somebody’s been nibbling through, white ash branches, sumac clones)

and even though it’s rather stark, there’s beauty along the river, and in the old Stone Building,
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Well, we’ve just had the “appetizer” part of the storm… the real deal should happen tonight. Stay warm, stay dry!

And if I’m absent, it is in part that I can’t get on the damned blog server.

making tallow for face cream!

January 6th, 2013 by knitnzu

I have dry skin. I have always had dry skin.

When I was 17, my friend Ana and I went to the makeup counter at Jordan Marsh to find out about moisturizers and such. The clerk was gushing over Ana’s skin… “ooooh, you have such lovely skin, such peaches and cream complexion“. True enough, but the snarky part of me was thinking “huh, she’s got a forehead covered in acne“. (Ana still seems to have very lovely skin…)

And then the clerk got to me.

Oh. My God. You are sucking up everything I put on you.

Needless to say, I’ve used old lady moisturizer on my face for decades.

I’ve been making my own body lotion for a few years now. It’s great stuff, and cheap to make. Only three ingredients-though I often add a bit of beeswax and also some essential oils. It isn’t the best thing on my face though.

When I was in Spain, I picked up some Argan oil, and it has been great… except now that it’s winter, I need a bit more. The regular face cream I have isn’t working for me anymore. With the dysosmia, it just stinks (smokey, heavy, wet, a bit fishy), and I have to immediately wash it off.

Yesterday, a friend was talking about making face cream… from tallow! And so we went to Bisson & Sons in Topsham to get suet to make tallow (they raise grass-fed beef).

tallow making (1) tallow making (2)

Basically, you get all the fleshy parts off, chop the suet into bits, and then heat it over a low heat for some time to get the tallow out of it. I chopped it up with a knife (some people use a food processor), and put it into the crock pot for about 6 hours. Zuzu was very interested in this…
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I cooked up the meaty bits for the dogs… they licked their bowls for a long time after finishing the kibble…

I forgot to get a photo of how it looked when it was done in the crockpot, but here’s what I ended up with…
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The open jar is a little cloudy as it was squeezed from the cracklings. I may cook with it.

And in the morning, it was all hardened up,
tallow making (8)

I basically used this method, though I chopped the suet more finely. Here’s another link about how to do this. Both of these links talk about using suet for cooking. I suppose I could have saved the cracklings, but I didn’t this time around.

For tallow face cream, the general proportions are 10 parts tallow to one part oil (I used olive oil). You can add some essential oils if you want.

Now before you go ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, read this and this (though this latter link is regarding home made lard). Basically, unless you are making your own lotions and creams or using a vegan product, you are probably already slathering industrial waste from a rendering plant that renders hormone laden meat… and that would be the waste that wasn’t good enough for hot dogs, or that pink slime everybody was talking about a few months back.

The tallow face cream I made does feel really good, and yes, it does have a faintly meaty smell… even with the essential oils. After one use last night, I didn’t have the instant improvement experience that mommypotamus did, but I’ll give it a while and let you know later.