Wednesday, February 20, 2013

starting and finishing

After I had to rip back the entire yoke on Tim's sweater (those blasted shoulders!), I wanted to knit something less heartbreaking. And so: the cotton candy running cowl.

Reading Week, so far. I am trying to do everything I ever put on hold in order to finish a paper or go to bed on time. The bread experiment progresses splendidly, and I am working on the brown paisley dress. Tim and I have been on a walk. I'm trying to root four little aloe vera cuttings; upstairs, my father-in-law is starting to paint the walls dove grey and lay porcelain tile. On Monday, mending a tear, we managed to superglue my fingertips to my yellow Tretorns. I walked to work in full light this morning.

Fourth recipe in Bread Matters--baps. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February is the oddest month. Last year in March I said, "It's February's fault". Much like last year, I've spent the past week arranging for new tenants upstairs. Right on cue, we have renovations on the brain again. A dear friend is getting married on Monday. For me at least, this is the month of new beginnings before I feel ready.

But--joy!--the Reading Week break starts today. As a student, I am granted the privilege of catching my breath. Today I am going to start the final (read: most terrifying) part of Tim's saddle shoulder sweater--the saddle shoulders. Knitting Without Tears is on the bed beside me, and it is now time to plot my attack. Have a lovely day, readers.

Monday, February 11, 2013

resolute: baking bread

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)

120 pages into this book, the recipe section commences. Having read every one of the warnings against industrial bread (some of which I found reasonable, some slightly hysterical), nodded along with the author's defense of the pleasures and advantages of baking bread at home, and closely attended to the sections on bowl material, types of flour, water temperature, and kneading techniques, I felt the only thing to do was to start with the first recipe. 

So I did. "Basic Bread" came out of the oven yesterday, and I have a page of notes on it, and a small knob of dough sitting in the fridge, waiting to be incorporated into the next recipe, for "Old Dough Bread".  I aim to pull a Julie Powell, and, by the end of the year, bake every recipe in the book. (Thereby, I will translate a vague, qualitative resolution into an accomplishable, concrete sort of resolution.) Tim likes this plan a lot.  

At the same time, experiments on my own with the already-established sourdough:

Also: do you see that sun?

There is nothing like pausing every couple of hours to dissolve yeast in warm water, measure flour, punch down a cushion of dough, preheat the oven, pat and shape the loaves, check on their proofing, peek into the oven. (I don't want instant food--I want to coax glue to turn into bread.)

Happy Monday you all! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


 I was born here. I will never expect spring until May. 
But here, we see winter's first slip up. This is dripping liquid water, and this is the Queen of Narnia's mistake.

Monday, February 4, 2013

As a reader?

"As a reader, I often feel I can detect the spoor of word processing in books, particularly long ones. The writers--no longer slowed by having to change their typewriter ribbons, fill their fountain pens, or sharpen their quills--tend to be prolix."                                                                 

- Anne Fadiman, from "Eternal Ink"

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Resolutions in January

Thank you for the beautiful comments on Wednesday's post. I could not have asked for friendlier support, and I feel very lucky indeed for the friends and readers that I have. 

Much of January looked like this. I promise more pictures in February.

One month in, how are these looking? Still relevant, still doable? 

- learn to make my own happiness (because it is not Tim's job, and because circumstances will not always be peachy) 
Obviously this one is hard to quantify. What does "making my own happiness" look like, anyway? One of the most important things I did on this front was to start talking about my sexuality,  booting some of the guilt that I've never really lived without. 

- complete one wearable sewn garment (hello brown paisley dress)
I've made a sewing date with Laura and a promise to make some progress on the dress beforehand.

- master fair isle knitting (in order to make things such as this)

- remove makeup every night (this has never, ever been a habit--now that flossing is down, it's time)
I think I am currently managing this about 40 percent of the time, which is an improvement. 

- reach goal weight once and for all (140 pounds)
There is a slight problem with this goal, in that I haven't weighed myself in about six months. I've been going by clothing fit, muscles. By those rubrics, I am doing well. My once-impossibly-small-grey jeans tell me that I'm about as skinny as I've been since I was fourteen, and my biceps and abs tell me that the strength training is paying off. (Also, I can do better push-ups now, and I'm using 17.5-pound dumbbells instead of 10-pounders.) I'm not super happy about my cardio. I need to drink more water. I'm not super happy about my eating habits, though I have, somehow, gone two full months without eating pastries from the cafe, and feel better for it. 

- pay back money owed Tim (so very close)
Even closer. I have a very mere amount left to pay back.

- pay off student loan (not so close)

- repair book cubes (damaged in the move last spring)

- further improve backyard (especially firepit, but also hope for fruit trees, removal of gravel, chopping of hoary huge evergreen)

- write something (anything) every day (this should be at the top of the list)
I haven't written every day, but I have written more. There is plenty of room for improvement. 

- learn more about math and computing (calculus, number theory, Python)

- publish in at least one magazine (which means submitting)
I'm still holding out for a print journal, but I did have a poem accepted at The Blue Hour this month, which is an excellent start. 

- give excellent presents (better than last year)
Tim's birthday was yesterday. He got a radiant heater for the workshop, an enormous Pyrex measuring cup to use as a tea cup, and a Leapmotion, which was, for once, a surprise. I am almost finished his "Christmas" sweater. Yes friends, this one is going well. 

- apply for at least one "real" job (something outside the service industry, something challenging, something that utilizes my skills)

- properly repair bathroom ceiling and baseboards (and begin to learn about renovating a house)
Well, Tim fixed the shower door . . . 

- play the violin again (Vivaldi's "Winter")

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)

- get a tattoo (at last at last)
Does haunting galleries of knitting tattoos count?

- put more of myself into relationships (especially that relationship with one Tim Put)
Prompted partly by Allison's journaling assignments, and the writing that followed, Tim and I have talked and listened more over the past three weeks than in the three years previous. I have apologized for shocking, old, ugly hypocrisy, callousness. I am exhausted, but our lives are raw material again. Hope springs. 

- use my nice things (and remember that I have many)
Ethiopian tea has been drunk, fountain pens have been drained, headphones have been listened through, the daunting dried porcini and black trumpets have been turned into soup, and nice writing paper has been turned into letters.

- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)
Blue cardigan, black cardigan, makeup bag, orange camisol--check, check, check, check--by which I mean fixed.