Progress report

Just for me. Seriously, none of you should be reading this. This is me using my blog as a personal journal. Go watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer instead, then come talk to me about it later. It will be more fun!

But if you must continue reading this post, then I will tell you the topic of my thesis, as it stands. It’s not the topic started out with  —  at all — and that is unfortunate; I am mostly viewing this whole exercise as an education in what not to do. But anyway, my topic now is basically this: we spend lots of money restoring and creating wetlands and then we suck at seeing how well they are doing. There is no great spike in money for site monitoring forthcoming anytime soon, so I’m looking for ways to better use the dataset that current and past monitoring protocols have generated (and are generating now). Wouldn’t it also be nice if the folks who are doing this monitoring would share their data with the rest of the world? Wetland Festivus for the rest of us? Stupid government agencies sitting on their data and never publishing a shred of anything. I’m not saying that last part. But I’m thinking it**.

Yesterday: No hours spent writing, but that’s okay because Brad took the kids to a birthday party today and so I had a guaranteed big window of time to work on it. I didn’t go to bed until after midnight, though. That was an accident due to, well, not looking at my watch.

Today: 2.5 hours spent writing, for reals. I have new citations and paragraphs and everything now to prove it! However, I think I may have made my entire introduction obsolete and will have to re-write it. Sigh.

I have met my obligations today. I am now free to weave, bake cookies, clean the bathroom, and play with my kids when they get home from the birthday party. And order the rest of my seeds. And make a calendar for planting seeds and transplanting starts. Yay! Perhaps I should consider measuring the pasture today so I can start developing an estimate for how much it will cost to fence in my hypothetical flock of sheep.
I can do all these things guilt-free today! Time management is so awesome!


**I’ve thought that often. When I worked on the GSL, we had a pile of data — a big pile — with nary a publication of any of it. There was all sorts of concern about giving away the locations of our super secret sampling sites. I get needing to keep those under wraps, but then why not just do that, eh? And still let someone publish something. Or make a presentation of it to someone. Something, please! The whole pile of data just sits. I made a map with some of it and sent it to a professor as a project (there was much, much angst and worrying about that from the bosses). My map, sadly, did not reveal anything super cool about the deep brine layer like I totally hoped it would (also: it did not reveal the locations of our sampling sites), so I’m still left with just the knowledge that the deep brine layer smells very, very bad and not much else. But there’s data about it, oh yes there is, and there’s more to explore but no limnologist will ever get their hands on it because no limnologist works on that crew (including me I’m not a limnologist I just think limnology is cool) and errrrrrr. I’m getting het up.

Howdy from the slog.

So, hi. Haven’t dropped in for a while. That’s because I’ve denying myself all things (except the ongoing textile projects, which cannot be denied but can have their time limited) in an effort to find the self-discipline to write my damn thesis.

I have become disturbingly lacking in the ability to focus, so this denial plan has totally failed. It turns out I would actually rather stare at a wall. And I would just do that sort of all night, feeling like I shouldn’t go to bed because I hadn’t gotten enough done and, well. I’ve stayed up late a lot and spun my wheels a lot too.

So. New plan. It’s not so revolutionary. Instead of vague self-denial that just makes me unhappy and doesn’t get me anywhere better, I’m going with time management!

One hour of writing per day.

Ye gods, this is slow going, but I put in one hour yesterday and one hour today and I have updated graphs, an updated table, two new references, some corrected in-text references, corrected formatting, and two or three new paragraphs! Pararaphs, y’all, and some are in my Discussion section. One of them even has an assertion, sort of. A weak-kneed, jello-like assertion, but I just have to write this stupid thing and get it off my back.

In the interest of time-management, I’m not planning a return to regular blog posting anytime soon, but it seemed okay to do this picture-less post after having put in my requisite hour tonight. And now I will maybe weave for a few minutes or hang out with Brad.

Other aspects of my new time-management plan: go to bed by 11:30 every night. After two weeks of this, re-evaluate and see if I think I should join the YMCA. Working out takes time, but I well know from experience that done in moderation it increases my energy for everything else, so it will probably help. We’ll see after two weeks of normal sleep scheduling.

Um, Holden turned 10. That is a big deal and we had a big party, but it must wait a while.

My dog caught fire. Happy New Year!

It’s very cold. Nevertheless, today Brad took the dog outside to play frisbee. I guess when Emerson came in he was feeling pretty cold, so he got close to the woodstove. Really close. Veeery close. And started steaming, so Brad took a picture because a steaming dog is sort of funny. Oops.

He wasn't steaming.

He wasn’t steaming. No worry! He’s okay!

Then we had lots of burned hair bits on the floor and a nasty burned dog hair smell in the house and now one of his haunches is grizzled. He’s a grizzly dog. Yet he’s sleeping behind the stove with his snout underneath it most of the time. I didn’t think animals just accidentally got themselves all singed like that.

Also, he is supposed to be a smart breed — the smartest smarty-pants breed of all.

He doesn’t get Brad’s slippers for him very well, either. Sometimes he gets them if they’re right in the room and he can see them and maybe if Brad actually puts one in his mouth for him. Then he shakes them to break their slipper necks. At least he drops them on command.

But my dog is smart, really. It’s just that he’s smart for a dog. I choose to view this singeing incident as merely underlining the superiority of humans, which my children have been trying to convince me of for the past two or three weeks. C often announces humans are the smartest animals. I enjoy responding by asking him if he can catch a fast fish using just his mouth. Or if he speaks dolphin. I am raising my children to have a confusing childhood to look back on. Fondly.

For instance, is New Year’s actually a birthday? Brad said it was a birthday for 2014, so he made a cake and we sang and had candles. I think it was just an excuse for cake, although cake doesn’t really need an excuse. Happy 2014! May it bring you fewer singed hairs than it has already brought Emerson.

I write stupid post titles. How about “Lovely December”?

We are too cool to care. Solstice. Whatevs.

We are too cool to care. Solstice. Whatevs.

Fooled you! Can we open a Solstice present now?!?!??!!?

Fooled you! Can we open a Solstice present now?!?!??!!?

Yes, they could open a Solstice present now. So. My kids get to open one present each on Solstice. Just part of me making up stuff and calling it family “tradition” as I go along.

Here’s another new tradition for us: winter band concerts. H plays trumpet now. It’s shiny and loud and he’s not too bad for having been at it only a few months. But H is a performance hater. I can relate to that feeling, but I can’t quite relate to the intensity of how he feels it. Boy howdy, does that boy *not* want any music to come out of him and be heard by other humans. At least not humans who are paying attention. So even though I can’t believe I’m doing this, and I totally don’t expect anyone to click this YouTube link, I have to say that this little clip actually means something to me because I think it means something to H. You can’t even see him at all — it’s just for the audio. And putting it here, I’ll be able to find it this spring when he has a spring concert and we can compare. Yup, I am using this public space as a filing cabinet.

I went to Brad’s work party. That is not so big a thing, a holiday work party. The big thing is that Brad danced with me and now I know how to make that happen. Tell him he should dance with me, listen to his excuses, then shrug and go dance anyway. His overactive guilt-and-duty gene then took over and that’s that. Well, alcohol always helps too.

Anyway, then Christmas came! As it always does, and it’s always lovely.

Here is Christmas Eve, waiting for the night to be over.


And here the wait is over. Finally.


Christmas went as Christmas usually does when you have a couple of excited kids and you’re generally just ridiculously lucky. Not much else to say about Christmas Day. Except Brad cooked some kind of beefy thing and I’ve not had it before and it was good. Coming on the heels of the fancy-pants paella from Christmas Eve and the itty-bitty (perfect size) turkey on the day after Christmas when his parents come to visit.

Which is when I happened to get this photo, which is gold for family files (again with the filing cabinet, I know.)

Y'all. This is a four generation photo. PLUS a cat. Future heirloom photos don't get better, you know. Well, except maybe with actual photography skills. I mean they don't get better when I'm the one taking the photo.

Y’all. This is a four generation photo. PLUS a cat. Future heirloom photos don’t get better, you know. Well, except maybe with actual photography skills. I mean they don’t get better when I’m the one taking the photo.

Then today Brad took the boys to a museum in Worcester. Sadly, it is closing its doors forever in a few days, so this was the last chance. I didn’t go, but here is the coolest picture they brought back.

6th c BCE Corinthian helmets

This photo requires more yakkety-yakking than a mere caption can hold. Those helmets are from Corinth, from about 550 BCE. Now, I’ve seen old things before. Lots. I’ve even visited Corinth. And I do generally like very old things (though when visiting museums with children, I’m not very able to look at things for more than a split second as I zoom past. Come to think of it, going to museums with Brad is also that way. I need a fun museum buddy.) Anyway, I do generally like to look at old stuff — cuneiform tablets, statuettes from Mohenjo-Daro (not that I’ve gotten to see those in person, I’ve just had Harappans on the brain lately), Aztec pyramids. I like bog men and torques. Ruined buildings so old and so ruined that you can only see outlines of foundations left. Oh. Well, I like all of it, more or less. though the weapons are almost always less interesting.  But those helmets! They’re like something out of one of those Hollywood epics I can’t help loving (Ben Hur! What a ridiculously principled hottie! The dancers in Cleopatra! Sexy as all get out, no consideration of principles required.)

What maybe gets me is that they’re used. My kids are standing, smiling, in front of these three helmets that people wore a really long time ago while they, presumably, killed other people. It’s creepy and fascinating.  Normally, I’m not really into glorifying war, which a weapons museum sort of does, but somehow I have a different feeling about them. Why the fascination?

Probably I’m falling into that trap Thoreau ridiculed, “When the thirty centuries begin to look down on it, mankind begin to look up at it.” Still, I was not terribly interested in, say, the weapons from ancient Pacific NW nations I saw in Ottawa a few years ago. Those artifacts were just as old. Why is this?

It occurs to me that Thoreau was probably not a fun museum buddy.


I’m a skeptic. I don’t know when I became a skeptic, but maybe I was born that way and had to grow into it. I’m thinking that skepticism may have a genetic link, like religious belief is, maybe. I do remember being a sucker for Santa Claus, though only dimly, and don’t recall when I stopped.H believed haphazardly until a friend of his told him the truth, and my belief is that he’s been on a secret, forbidden crusade to educate his little brother ever since. C started saying last year, speculatively, testing the waters, “I think you’re just putting presents under the tree. Not Santa.” Now, that’s true (sorry to break it to y’all), but I also label the presents clearly as being from me (or Brad), so it’s hardly a revelation. I remind C that Santa doesn’t leave presents under the tree at our house, but just in the stockings. Then he remembers that’s the case, says, “Ooooooooooooh,” and looks at my sideways for a while.

So my small skeptic is onto me, which is fine. I love a good skeptic. That being said, this is probably the only picture I’ll ever get of this nature:


And he only did it to humor me. Look at the fakey fake smile and the leeeeaning away.
Now, while I love a skeptic, I love a skeptic who humors me even more.

At the moment we’re all about advent calendars in our house, both the purchased Angry Birds K’Nex kind and the homemade activity-based kind (which is actually a Solstice Advent calendar — hence, only 21 pockets):

ImageWe’re about through it — only four more to go. And I could really do with a little more sun. Or a lot more, if the solar system is so inclined this year.

We also do a tree. This one is the top of one of our very sick looking Colorado Blue Spruces, which need to go. At least one of them has served a noble purpose (other than getting burned in a firepit, I mean, which is also their fate).


Decorating is serious. Morose, almost. At least that’s about where the tree-drama stopped this year. It’s always been sort of a volatile activity for my boys. I don’t know why. Much tantrum, in the past. This year, only a little resistance to using the damn ornament hangers.

Western Mass is in the grip of, um, lots of snow. Which I spent lots of time tonight blowing around with our very heavy, very old, very loud, and reasonably effective snowblower. Just trust me. You’ll have to, since I’ve not taken a picture of the lovely, white, cold blanket all around. It’s out there, being all bright and glistening.


A cozier way to indicate winter’s arrival. Ye gods, how I love to put on warm boots.



Detail from ‘The Midsummer Night’s Fairies’ by Robert Huskisson

A friend posted this on FB this week. I really really love this image and I’m so glad I saw it (thanks, Tim!) The tiny guys have clearly been fighting bravely, but ineffectively and are now in retreat. Except the one unlucky one who is getting a snail eye to the chest. I normally can’t help snickering when I see pictures of naked warriors (because why? why go to war naked? Artists! Just portray naked guys without all the war trappings! It’s okay, I promise.) But I guess if you’re going to fight a snail with drum major batons you may as well fight naked. There’s not a lot of pointiness in a baton or a snail to make you regret your nakedness decision.

Aside from the little naked warriors, I cannot stop thinking about snails now, and whether they’d be dangerous if I were the size of these guys. I know they can put away a lot of leaf in a night, so I started wondering what their mouths were like. The holes they leave in leaves are pretty chomp-y looking.

Shamelessly stolen from UC Museum of Paleontology (, which you should go look at it immediately.

And now we know. If Huskisson also knew what a snail mouth looks like, it puts a slightly different spin on the little men running away so desperately from it.


No teeth. Only raspy tongues, like tiny slimy toothless cats. Assuming that Huskisson did not know what a snail mouth looks like, I believe the little warriors are needlessly worried,  unless the snail is checking him out with its eyestalk to see if he is raspable.

I would now like to capture a snail and give it some leaves and see if it checks them out with its eyes before eating them. Also, I’d like to look at the edges of slug holes, because they always looked very crisp to me, like the edges of grasshopper bites, but they must not be, and I’d like to see that. Alas, such must wait until summer and figuring a way to lure some snails, because I haven’t seen a single one in New England yet.If I had some tiny naked warriors to use for bait, that might help.

And now for some snail knitting content.

Holidays come and holidays go.

And some holidays aren’t really my own traditional holidays, but I like them anyway.


Working on our sugar skull decoration with a few friends.



Respect the real sugar skull artisans, and just give us credit for trying.

Then comes the late autumn, when we have scenes like this.


And later autumn, still, when we have this.


Giant chicken, stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc. to be added shortly after.

And now we are getting to the good stuff.


I bought this barn star at a tag sale before we had even made a deal on the house, because barn stars are important, yo.

In other news, I got a job. It seems like a real job so far, even though I’m not 100% certain of the name of the company I’m working at. But I do know the name of the guy I’m working for, and he did pay me, and I am doing work, so I’m calling it real. Seemed pretty sketchy at first, but now it only seems very marginally sketchy. The hours are good. I’d still like to work here and hopefully will someday, but I like where I am right now and what I’m doing.

Ohhh, and we did get those family additions a few weeks back, courtesy of Craigslist and a guy next town over who was just sick of them. Here they are — five molting Rhode Island Red hens. I admit, one of the five is already toast — taken by an unknown predator. We still let them roam during the day, but not all day long. At least not when there’s no one home. The other four are eating and drinking and crankin’ out eggs and scratching the hell out of all bark-covered and bare dirt areas they can find. I haven’t the heart to keep them in all the time, even if they might get taken by, well, pretty much any wild animal that lives in New England comes across our lot. So they’re in danger, yup. But they really like to roam, so I let them. They are very grumpy in their coop. Be free, chickens! They come back to their little henhouse at night, and I close them up safe. And Emerson is having fun rushing at them and scattering herding them. He is actually helpful if I want to put them in during the day. Those hens got no respect for me and occasionally no interest in the yummy scratch I offer, but they worry about Emerson, and do what he says.



I’ll be back soon. We’re going to have some new additions to the family soon (not the human kind. The kind that’s much more likely to get killed and eaten eventually.) Here’s Halloween night, though. H’s mask did have two tubes on it, but an entire evening walking through the drizzle sort of melted the paper mache. But it will be re-glued, because I think this mask may be required for day-to-day use. I fear we may all be upgraded in the coming weeks.

White rook and cyberman

White rook and cyberman


Hey. Since my last post we moved (twice). First to Greenfield, MA.

Where I homeschooled H for third grade and put C in part-time pre-school

At his end of year party

At his end of year party

Now he’s in his second year of preschool, full-time nowadays.

C first day pk

And H is in fourth grade, both at the local town elementary.



H joined Cub Scouts (he’s in his second year now),

In spite of me and BSA not seeing eye to eye on everything, H learned to make a tent (of sorts) with a tarp. Yay!

In spite of me and BSA not seeing eye to eye on everything, H learned to make a tent (of sorts) with a tarp. Yay!

so he did Pinewood Derby

With very little help.

With very little help.

Bought a house in Northfield, MA with outbuildings and land.

Yay! Now I need to replace the decrepit cattle fencing with good sheep fencing and we're good to go!

House from downhill

Painted the house blue.

blue hosue

Smurf house.

Had a bunch of holidays and birthdays.








Went to visit Oregon and back to Wanakena.

We were so happy to be eaten by the giant skeletal shark.

We were so happy to be eaten by the giant skeletal shark.

OK, this isn't actually in Wanakena, it's Blue Mtn Lake, but that is an ADK chair, so it counts, right? And those are Wanakena kids there, too.

OK, this isn’t actually in Wanakena, it’s Blue Mtn Lake, but that is an ADK chair, so it counts, right? And those are Wanakena kids there, too.

Got about 65% through writing a thesis.

CCA combined spp added parameters

Brad has a job at Deerfield Academy.

I’m looking for one. A job, not an academy.

In the meantime, I started weaving like crazy on small looms like frame looms, tri-pin looms, backstrap and inkle. And some tatting.  Did one craft show with it this past weekend, which didn’t go particularly well, but being a glutton for punishment, I’m signed up for three more and am looking to get into a fourth.

Inkle-woven collars


Hokay, that’s about the re-cap. All I’m likely to get to, anyway.

So, moving right along. Today I met Laverne, esteemed teacher of backstrap weaving. I bought her book, but remained nearly monosyllabic, as usual when meeting someone I “know” from online, failing to even help them make the connection with my own online identity. I’m very stupid that way.

All about H. Well, not entirely.

So, H is 8 now. I didn’t do a birthday post. Because I am inconsistent, essentially. But no matter! Because there are other significant childhood things to document! I am feeling proud of H lately. He is a big allowance saver. For instance, he saved his allowance (which was only $1.75 per week then), plus did extra chores, and also saved any gift money that came his way for about a year to buy himself a guitar. That was last fall, though — it’s not really news. More recently, he saved up for a fishing pole. Since then, he’s been fishing more. Here’s his first fish:

I have never seen a smaller fish hooked. You could almost not distinguish it from the bait, hanging at the end of the line when he pulled it up.

And, a few days later, his second fish. It might technically be his third. I’m not totally sure. But it was a trout, not a chub!

You can see it better! It’s bigger than the width of his hand!

Fishing is a thing that requires patience. The first time I took H fishing, over a year ago, he didn’t get anything. Which is not shocking. In fact, I’ve since learned that that spot is a terrible place to fish — I’ve never gotten anything, not even many nibbles. Anyway, H thought that when one went fishing it meant immediately pulling fish after fish out of the water.  Little waiting, sure pay-off. It was difficult to convince him that wasn’t the normal experience. So I was pleased to see his interest, and have been pleased to see his patience paying off, finally, too.

And then there’s the little matter of hiking Cat Mountain with his dad last weekend — a 10-mile trip. Since H is typically a pretty whiney hiker, I was extremely concerned that this trip would sour him on hiking pretty much forever, what with Brad insisting on going on, and H insisting he hates the whole idea. But nope, that apparently not what happened.

On the way.

At the top.

On the way back down. Note that he is still smiling, after having walked, um, like seven miles, some of it on steep terrain.

Then H finished second grade.

Last day! Now I’m a third grader! A home-schooled third grader….

In non-eldest child developments, I finally got access to my study sites. Finally. After months. Now the only issue is lab access. Oh, yeah. And money. Also, having a firm study plan. Details, you know. Withoug disclosing any details on location, here are my sites. It’s all super secret, you know.

Site N. I have a flair for romantic names, I guess. AKA, The Place With No Birds For Some Reason.

Equally romantic Site S. With 100% more ducks! And one wooded edge, which makes me a little irrationally worried about mountain lions. I need to stop listening to people’s worst wilderness stories. It’s like watching A Baby Story when pregnant.

Random picture of me that H took. I don’t usually post pictures of myself, because I have that common neurosis of hating pictures of myself. But this is the best picture H has ever taken of me. Normally, they’re so awful I could just…. well, just delete them, I guess.

Cannot think of a reason to give why I put this photo in. I just like it.