Monday, March 23, 2009

A Whole Miscellany of News

(as you can see, Badger has fit in perfectly here. Doesn't he clean up nicely?)

Maple Mania

Today is Maine Maple Sunday, one of my favorite times of the year. No matter how crappy the weather might be, the very fact that the sap is rising means that spring is just around the corner. Next, the daffodils will come up and the Red Sox will return to Fenway. Only then can we truly declare the winter to be past in this latitude.

Real spring in this region rarely if ever coincides with the vernal equinox; the coming of March 20 is merely a signal that we're headed in the right direction.

I just love Maple Sunday, though -- it's one of my favorite holidays in the springtime calendar. All the local sugar houses are open, and the air smells of boiling maple sap. You can sample pancakes with maple syrup, maple cream on crackers, hot dogs boiled in maple sap with maple syrup on top (hey, don't knock it till you try it), maple syrup on ice cream, maple baked beans, maple whoopie pies, maple fudge, and even maple cotton candy. Of course, the 2009 crop is also available for sale, and Greg and I usually stock up for the year.

It should be a good day for the sugar houses. The weather is beautiful, today is not Easter Sunday, and everybody has at least a touch of cabin fever. Hope that sales will be good in spite of the sucky economy. At least more people are conscious of what it means to buy local these days, and I'm hoping that helps the farmers as well.

And in Woolen News

My dad went completely bonkers for the gray Scheepjes socks. I finally finished them just before heading to Richmond, and gave them to him on the southbound trek. By the time I made it back north a few days later, he had them on his feet and was wondering whether I could make him another pair, or two, or a few. His feet get cold enough so that wool-blend socks are welcome at any time of year -- so now I have a standing order for as many men's socks as I care to knit.

Greg has hinted that a few more watch caps would not be unwelcome, too -- so I have my knitting orders for a good while.

My friend Fran and I signed up for a Wednesday-morning knitting class offered through the local school district's adult education program. The instructor is an old friend of ours from the days when Bumblebee Quilts was still open in Waterboro, so it's been like going to a reunion every week. (One of the good things about not working is that you have the time to do stuff like this.) I finished a class dishcloth project, and have been tackling a lace bookmark using leftover sock yarn.

I've also been working on another pair for Jody in red Happy Feet yarn. Know how there are some yarns that you just love working with? Knitting with Happy feet is just a pleasure; I enjoy the heck out of every stitch. I just like the feel of the yarn, its substance, the feel of the knitted fabric, and the fact that it doesn't split easily. I need to make at least one pair in every color.

And in Music News

You have to love technology. Last week, Greg's String Quintet was recorded over in the Czech Republic. The producer set up a laptop running Skype in the studio so Greg could see the string players and interact with everybody there. He was able to talk to them about interpretation of certain passages and other inputs, and they were able to respond. The whole session was simply amazing, and everyone went away delighted with the result.

I'll add more in a subsequent post. Blogger is having technical difficulties, and I'm afraid that if I don't push the button now, I'll lose everything in this post.

To Be Continued...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Travels with Badger Blue

Meet Badger (Breaksea Revolution)! He's handsome and sweet, he's 6 years old, and he fits into our pack as though he's always been here. He also has a fine appreciation of music, including that old Irving Berlin tune "Blue Guy's smiling at me...".

When I met up with Badge down in Virginia a couple of weeks ago, I didn't know whether I could ever help fix this poor dog. His owner had died at the end of January. He seemed sad and lost, as though his heart had been broken and he didn't belong anywhere any more. The light appeared to have gone out of him. He started to perk up a bit after a night's sleepover with my dad and sister in Massachusetts, but he refused to eat or pee, and he still seemed timid.

However, when we walked into the house here and he was introduced to the three resident Beardies, he turned and gave me the biggest, toothiest grin I've ever received from one of these shaggy buggers. He knew he was home. He simply fit into the pack and was accepted instantly -- no doggie-fraternity hazing, no discussions on pack hierarchy... none of that. Dinah loved him instantly because she never met a man she didn't like, but even the boys were romping around the dog yard with him within minutes.

I didn't fix this poor dog's broken heart -- my other dogs did. All he wanted was a pack to call his own. Now he's the Mayor of Everything, Mr. Hail-Fellow-Well-Met. Everyone loves him -- people, puppies, even a few cats here and there. I thought I would have to hard-sell Greg on the concept of a fourth dog, but Greg is as smitten with him as the rest of us are. Badger will be Greg's new running buddy.

Of course, only I could leave Maine for the South and get snowed on down there. Mother Nature laughs at me; we were visited with 10-18 inches of the horrendous white crap that i thought I'd left at home! I ended up staying an extra day in Virginia before the roads were cleared, but we made it home eventually.

Even though I could have made it to Richmond in one 11-hour stretch, it sure was nice to be able to break up the traveling into pieces and to see friends all along the way. This might be as close as I get to a vacation this year, so I'm glad I was able to mix in a little fun between rest stops.