I have had plans in the works for a number of years. The deal with my husband is that I would retire when I turn 62. That happens to be this February 11th, and I really can’t believe that it is real. Where did the time go? It has just snuck up on me. (Of course, I would not retire until June, at the end of the school year).
When I read Jackie’s blog post on Butting Heads Farm– the Art of Aging, Part 1 about aging and what can be accomplished home on the farm while working a full-time job, I realized that we have been maneuvering ourselves toward this goal for a good number of years (I have had to let go of our sheep, our yearly meat chickens, and our yearly feeder pigs in order to keep things sane). I have only told a few coworkers and close friends so far, but it’s finally here for me. I am retiring at the end of this school year (!), and I am hoping to be able to totally give myself over to the farm and to weaving, spinning, knitting and felting from then on. The money issue will be difficult for awhile, but hopefully I won’t have to go out and get a whole other full-time job. I feel bad for all my coworkers who retire and a year or two later have to go back to work full-time, but most of those folks are single. I am blessed to have a partner who has a few sources of income, and with my NJ pension, my Maine pension, and a little bit of Social Security, I might be okay. (Although Maine is one of the two states in the U.S. who believes that getting SS and a teacher’s pension is “double dipping,” so the SS that I paid into in NJ is going to be drastically cut back when I start collecting because of my Maine teacher pension. It’s a real bummer).
And so it goes. I am frantically trying to make sure that things at work are going to be perfect for whoever replaces me, but we all know that that is a losing proposition. It will be what it will be. But I am having a wonderful time reading the seed catalogs and thinking that I can actually do a little more in the garden because I won’t be starting back into work by the middle of August, and unable to process the tomatoes and the eggplant that are just really coming ready at the end of August.
I can’t believe that I only have 80 some workdays left in my job as a Library Media Specialist. It’s been a wonderful career, and it won’t be easy to give up. But I do think that I will be having breakfast or lunch with my retired teacher peeps on the first day of the new school year. And there will be champagne or wine involved!!!
Always a difficult thing. 5 of us spent a very satisfying and lovely 4 days out on Vinalhaven. We got back on Sunday afternoon, and I have been running ever since. Some work-related meetings as well as just trying to get down to business at home with all the crazy projects I have been wanting to try and do. It’s hot and muggy again as well, and I do not function well at all on these days. The Vinalhaven fiber retreat was balm to our exhausted souls! We all got quite a bit of knitting and spinning done, and we even had an indigo dye day, thanks to Pam of Hatchtown Farm. Once we saw what the results were like, we all scurried around looking for more items to pop into the bucket! One of our merry group grabbed an old canvas hat out of her car and I tie-dyed one of my beloved sleeveless t-shirts. What a hoot! Good times with good friends is what it’s all about. Now I guess it’s time to get back to the daily grind. And while I am doing that, I will be able to dwell fondly on the lovely, restful and fun outing that we were lucky enough to have. Until next summer!
Not yet. That tantalizing thought of warmer days never materializes for us in northern New England right on the day, but hope never dies! It was a little bit of a tease, because yesterday was a bright and sunny day, and it probably hit 30F or so. But it turned much colder over night and the 25+ mph winds began to blow overnight. 10 degrees F this morning. Ah well.
As I know I have said many times before, we live and die by the weather forecast. My husband and I (plus all the farmers I know) have multiple weather sites bookmarked on our computers and iPads, plus separate weather apps, and consult them regularly. A tab on my browser is permanently set to the 10-day weather so I can click in at any moment and refresh that feed. After Tuesday it looks as though even the nights shouldn’t go much lower than 14-17F, which is a treat indeed. And the daytime temps are coming up.
So I will enjoy the daylight, if not the temperatures, but any piece of clothing that we can leave on the rack feels like a little victory over winter! I think it’s time to have a glass of wine and do some knitting.
I have been dreaming of those early days of spring when there is still a serious nip in the air, the breezes are still a little wintery even, it’s not yet mud season but the ground is bare. And you can smell the dirt and the growing things thinking about coming out and reaching for the sun. I know we are getting close, but the sun is teasing us today and I have that spring fever thing starting to rear its noisy head.
It’s school vacation and I have been taking things a little easier than usual, but I have also been on a roll trying to get a few things taken care of as well. It’s still really cold outside (17F today), and no, I can’t dig in the dirt yet out there (can’t even see it for all the feet of that white stuff!), but I have been doing some inside gardening. Little stuff, transplanting and dividing up some of my African violets and Christmas cactus. I am also having a lovely time trying to decide how to plant (and also into what) the 3 baby succulents a friend gave me for my birthday. They are adorable! Even if my hands are not totally covered with dirt, at least I have my fingers in it today. It feels marvelous.
I have also been working hard to get my latest knitting project finished. And finally it is! My second Hitchhiker shawlette. Very colorful and light weight yet warm, I knit it from Schoppel-Wolle’s Crazy Zauberball, colorway Frische Fische. Love it!
More color in the day came from roasted veggies, my favorites, beets! Chioggias. Yum! I think it’s time for some goat cheese. But wait, the power just went out. Gotta love it! Glad my beets are out of the oven…
Really! This is ridiculous. They promised sun today, but we woke up to frantic snow showers, then drizzle, then just more grey. I am wildly optimistic for tomorrow, because I need to believe that there will be sun there at least for awhile. Sigh.
As the week wound down, at least we had a Friday afternoon that was not only mild, but precipitation free. I had the chance to get home in time to sit on the big rock and have a lovely half hour with the goatie girls. They are so sweet, and they listen to anything with rapt attention, as long as you let them nibble on your gloves, hair and jacket. (I draw the line at nibbling on my face and ears!).
So today was not a winner, but hopefully tomorrow will be, because the coming week does not look bright and cheery! I am still dragging from the cold, but I slept like a dead thing last night and didn’t even think about getting up until 6:40. Very late for me, but I guess it was a good thing as I felt quite perky today.
Listening to some good music while dinner is in the oven (Indigo Girls, Idan Raichel, Gypsy Kings, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Etti Ankri, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell). Maybe some knitting is in order. And if the clouds would just pass, maybe we will see the epic Geminid meteor showers tonight. The skies up here are certainly dark enough for the show!
Our little spinning/knitting getaway on Vinalhaven Island was a roaring success last Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as a much-needed recouping of positive energies.
Our little group always has a spectacular time, and we hands-down always have the best food. Too much, usually, and this trip was no exception, either. We did much cooking, spinning, knitting and a ton of laughing. We were almost sick the other night we laughed so long. But that’s what we needed, and to top it off, the weather was gorgeous! (The views out of every window and from the porch were spectacular as well, which doesn’t hurt!)
It was an amazing 4 days. Fantastic to be away, and good to be home again with husbands, grandchildren and extended families. And of course, I always miss my goatie crew :*)
Not exactly the day I had planned, but I kind of lost my momentum when we got word that a friend of ours passed away this morning. Not totally unexpected, but we always hoped he would have more time. He was a very close friend of John’s, and it just really stinks.
So, instead of doing the gift sewing that I had been looking forward to, I ended up doing a day of cooking and cleaning, which is my default deal when things aren’t going well. Yesterday I had finally gotten over the week that was, with budget cuts hitting our district library staff very hard, and was hoping that today would be a satisfying one. Ah well, life just happens most of the time. At least I have gotten more accomplished on my Hitchhiker scarf/shawl. It is still an addictive knit. And the winter Olympics are offering some measure of diversion.
On another note, the weather was beautiful today, if still quite cold, and it wasn’t bad spending time out there as I had to tweak a few things up in the paddocks. The goatie boys are becoming bold and practicing their moves at the gate. I was surprised that Beige Boy didn’t go right over! So I had to tie another small galvanized panel to the gate, and hopefully that will be enough to keep them in. It feels like a piece-meal affair at the best of times :*)
The one really beautiful thing about this time of year when the temperatures are hovering around zero with windchills in the negative numbers, is the sky. All the cold, clear air shows off a hypnotic blue when the sun is out, and glorious pinks and reds around sunset and sunrise. This afternoon’s temperatures were ridiculous, and even though I use heavy face cream, when I came in my face was burned from the cold. Crazy.
More knitting is happening, thank goodness. It makes me feel like I have a hedge against the cold, somehow. Martina Behm is one of my favorite knitting designers, and for awhile now I have been wanting to knit her Hitchhiker scarf/shawlette. I came across some yarn that I had bought last year at the Spa weekend in Freeport, and it was the perfect fit for the pattern (String Theory Caper Sock in shale). I needed a good portable project, so I got started. Oh my gosh, is this an addictive knit! It’s an asymmetrical scarf that is longer than it is wide, and is about a 7 row repeat. It’s a no-brainer and too much fun! As it goes along you bind off 5 stitches every 7 rows, while at the same time you are increasing like crazy. Love it. Just the right project for a cold winter evening!
Finally! We got the party off the ground yesterday, unfortunately without a few of our favorite people. The weather lent a lot of atmosphere to the day, but the snow was pretty persistent and when you live on a road that’s far off the main roads, it’s always difficult to predict the condition of the mains. The only reason this was an issue was because our friend Chris in Brunswick hosts the party, and that is about 20 miles from our house, but much farther for a few of the other members. So I picked up Pam from Hatchtown Farm, and our roads were atrocious, but then we got out onto Route 1 and everything was fine.
We excel at putting on a party that involves great food, fiber and friends. So we ate a beautiful meal and we did our show and tell with our island retreat fiber projects, which are totally awesome! (On our Vinalhave retreat last summer we dyed the fiber with cochineal bugs and some with osage orange, and each of us took two small skeins and some uncarded fiber to come up with a project). I knitted a hedgehog pin cushion, Pam made a beautiful wine cozy, Christine knit a fantastic warm and beautiful headband, Chris felted a snowman who wears a scarf knit from the yarn and is holding a heart made from the fiber as well. We are dying to see the project that our other island friend has made, but we will have to wait for that one. We also do a ‘hot potato’ gift pass around our circle which is always a lot of fun. I do not have my gift yet, as it will come from our friend who didn’t make it.
And so we finally were able to have an afternoon of laughter and fun. With a lot of great food! Now it really feels like the new year can begin!
Partly the time of year, I know, but I usually have a few knitting projects on the needles at all times. Multiple projects in the works usually mean that I don’t get very far on any of them, but they each serve a purpose (knitting that’s portable for faculty meetings, knitting for relaxing at night, etc.). I try to stay away from gift knitting because it actually has a ‘must be done by’ date, but baby gifts are different!
I am reasonably sure that the recipient of this gift does not read the blog, so I am posting the photo. I love making the little Owlie Sleep Sacks that I began making a few years back, and since I had some superwash merino yarn on hand that I had painted, I thought I should use it. For once in my life I actually got something finished a week before the gift needed to be given! I am not wrapping it still damp from blocking! (Although I am very glad that I washed it when I did the other day, because it took a few days to really dry nicely… it’s been warmer this week and the furnace hasn’t been cranking). I am not a huge fan of superwash yarn. It feels funny when it gets wet, almost slippery. but it should be a help to a busy mom because it is washable.
More finished objects that have been blocked as well are the hats I knit for the Halos of Hope Foundation. (They donate hats to chemo patients all over the country). I used to do a lot of preemie hat knitting when we lived in NJ and I have only recently learned of the Halos group. Some of my favorite knitting podcasters are challenging their loyal listeners to a ‘throwdown’ that involves donating hats to the Halos foundation, but logging them in the name of their favorite podcast. I believe the final tallies will be counted the weekend of Stitches West which is on February 23rd and 24th at the Santa Clara Convention center in California. Most of the podcasts are pulling names of their donating knitters to win prizes, etc., but I am sure that most people agree that it’s just nice to be able to knit something that someone will get some good use from. I am throwing my two hats in with the Knitmore Girls podcast and the Knit Knit Cafe podcast. The podcaster teams really have quite the rivalry going, which hopefully is bringing more hats in. The purpley-blue hat in the photo is from a Woolly Wormhead pattern in Wee Woolly Toppers (Tubey). It’s much cuter in person than in the photo! The yellow hat is just a simple cap with ribbing.
So I have actually finished some knitting projects which feels pretty good. The problem is that I now have to decide what to knit next! And there are about 20 things that I would like to get going…
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!