into the woods, and back out again


Dear Diary…

Oh, poor neglected blog!

The thing about leaving something like this for two whole months is that there’s always the urge to recap the time I’ve been gone.  I even used to do it in my paper journals, when I still kept them, even though no one but me ever read them (thank goodness!)  So let’s suffice it to say that I’ve been working, and doing laundry and tending to children.  There.  Recap done.

I read Bleak House by Charles Dickens a while back.  That’s a long book, people.  It hasn’t taken me so long to finish a book since I read Gone With the Wind, nearly 10 years ago.  I actually took a three day break from Bleak House at one point, and read three paperbacks before going back.  It is a marathon of a book, no doubt about it.

Still, I really enjoyed it.  I was kind of glad I’d seen the mini-series (with Gillian Anderson–SO good), so that I had a good idea about the plot.  My habit is to rush through a book to find out what happens, and then read it over to enjoy it… and I just didn’t have the endurance for that with this one.  At the same time, having seen the mini-series spoiled a bit of the suspense, since I already knew who the villains were, who would live and who would die.  The book is full of long, descriptive passages, which (it turns out) is typical of Dickens–I’ve read other books by him and never picked up on that, or maybe I’d forgotten, and I’m not usually a fan of long descriptive passages about the scenery, but this time… I liked it.  I love how the weather almost becomes a character itself–the fog in London, the rain at Chesney Wold, and the sunshine at Bleak House.

So that was good.

I finished a scarflet for a girl at work.  I kept putting it down, for some reason, and then one day I decided I was going to just push on through the rest of it (thinking I had quite a ways to go) and then it turned out I only had a couple of inches left to knit and the buttons to sew on and then it was done!

I haven’t gone hiking in some time, but I’m determined that the next time I go hiking in the cold, I will have all the right layers.  I typically get too hot from walking, so I’ll take off my sweater, but having just a t-shirt on leaves my arms bare and they get cold… so I’ll put the sweater back on and then I’m too hot.  The solution is clearly arm warmers.  So I dug through my stash–specifically the section of the stash I inherited from Jill (there’s some really yummy stuff in there!) and came out with some variegated blue and brown stuff that was pretty soft.  Made it partway through the cable pattern I picked out, and realized that it wasn’t showing up at all because of the variegation of the yarn.  Started again with some solid navy yarn… finished one chart entirely, then became convinced I was going to run out of that color before I had two arm warmers.  Started again with some Noro: striping together two colors to make sure I had enough–and was getting along quite swimmingly when I realized this was actually going to be MORE yarn than I needed and I was going to end up with odd bits of Noro left over, which would undoubtedly then not be enough to make something else.

SO.  I finally wound up using one ball of Noro for the first arm warmer, which is finished.  The one ball was exactly enough, which is handy, since I have one ball in the same colorway to make the second arm warmer.  I’ve nearly memorized the cable pattern, which is convenient, but have not yet gone through it so many times that I’m sick of it.

The changing colors do obscure the cable pattern a little bit… just enough to make it a little mysterious, I think, but it also makes it difficult to photograph.  Did okay here, but I couldn’t get a picture with the thing on my actual arm.  When they’re both done, I’ll have someone else get a picture, hopefully when I’m out hiking in them.


a sock

I have a sock and a sweater in the bag I carry around.  The sweater is a black cotton-linen blend, knit from the top down.  I’ve separated off the sleeves and am working my way down the body.  I’m not posting a picture of it, because black yarn is hard to photograph properly, but it’s going to be a nice light-weight sweater for when I’m chilly but need something that isn’t bulky.

The sock is the second in the pair.  I think this is the third time I’ve knit up this particular yarn, but I’ve finally found a stitch count and gauge that causes it to stripe up in a way that I really like.  The yarn is called “Bart and Louise in the Garden”.  I wonder if it’s hard to name yarn colors.

I’m doing a really nifty heel for these socks.  I like the way a heel flap looks, but I hate what the gusset decreases do to a variegated yarn.  The stripes get all off track and the instep looks different from the whole rest of the sock and sometimes the foot doesn’t get back on track to match the leg.  I don’t always love short-row heels, though, because they aren’t as roomy as heel flaps and the instep ends up a bit snug.  The perfect compromise is a band heel–I think it’s also called a strap heel.  It looks like a heel flap and is as roomy, but doesn’t require a gusset to decrease back down to the correct number of stitches, which means the striping pattern of my variegated yarn isn’t significantly disrupted.  The only thing I don’t love is how the sock looks when it’s not on the foot, but mostly you’re looking at a sock when it’s being worn.

Of course, it’s been a while since I did the last one, so I have to figure it all out again when I finish with the leg of this second one.

The difficulty right now is that my job is wearing me out.  I take my knitting to work, and it sits in my bag… I’m too tired at lunch to do anything more than stare at the wall.  I bring my knitting home, and it sits in my bag… if I can even muster the energy to watch t.v., I’m doing pretty good.  Helping to open this new store is challenging in ways I didn’t expect.

So, there’s still this trick of having a life outside of work that I’m trying to figure out.

Cathedral Rock… almost.

L and I took a much longer drive than usual to get to our trail on Saturday.  In fact, I think it’s a testament to our friendship that we could go on such a long drive, then walk 7 miles and still have stuff to talk about on the way home… or at least, not have any awkward silences.

In any case, our trail was located over Snoqualmie pass and down a couple of very long roads.  We drove through Roslyn, which is a charming little town, and who knew it existed?  The last stretch was about 10 miles on the bumpiest gravel road I’ve ever driven.  Seriously, I’ve never had to drive so slow in fear of busting my car.

After an hour of driving, we came to a stream, which crossed the road.  As we watched, a couple of other vehicles crossed through without damage, but having ruined a car in my adolescence by driving through swiftly flowing water, I decided we weren’t taking our chances.  I parked, and we walked the rest of the way to the trail head.  Of course, first we had to get across the stream, which was very cold, and then the rest of the way down our bumpy gravel road.

We walked.  And walked.  And walked.  I had on my pedometer, which read just over 3 miles by the time we reached the trail.  We visited the surprisingly clean outhouse, then crossed a little bridge.  A half mile into the woods and we found another creek.  Well, this was one fording too many, and we’d already walked quite a way, so we turned back and decided maybe we’ll come back later in the summer, when the water levels have gone down a bit.

It was a little anti-climactic, and I don’t like being disappointed.  Not only is it an unpleasant emotion, but I’m not much for complaining or lamenting that things haven’t gone the way I’d like.  There are two ways I deal with disappointment.  The first is to look for new answers or alternative directions.  The second is to find something positive to take away from every experience.

So… this hike wasn’t what I would have liked it to be, but I’m grateful for the time I spent with L.  She’s a good friend, much better than I think I deserve and we’ve been friends for a long, long time.  I’ve had a lot of transition in my life: all the times we’ve moved from one house to another, all the jobs I’ve had… a lot of people that have come and gone.  I’m glad for a friend who has been around for so long, and stuck by me, even when I wasn’t always such a great friend in return.  She was there when I got back together with the Man; she was my maid of honor; she was there when both my kids were born.

So?  There’s my positive thing.  It was a sunny day and a pleasantly long walk with a good friend.  And that’s enough.

swirling, twirling, misting

Today began as one of those days that if I couldn’t have laughed, I would’ve cried.

We got up bright and early and prepared to head out for a hike with some friends from church.  We ate breakfast, packed lunch, got dressed and actually arrived at our meeting place on time.  All was well and good until we were halfway to Anacortes, and then the Boy threw up.

My sister reads my blog, so I’ll spare you the gory details.

The other car in our party went on ahead, which was probably good for the Boy, who didn’t need anymore witnesses than necessary.  We decided to try to catch up with them, so K could ride on with them while I took the Boy home, but  no dice.  They’d already gotten far enough along that catching up with them would have taken more time than we liked, and the Boy was looking pretty pale in the back seat.  We drove back toward home, and he threw up again.  We stopped to pick up more cleaning supplies, since we’d used up all of our bags in the previous clean-up.

Incidentally, K handled the barfing really well.  I mean, what are you going to do?  But she didn’t gross out at all, which I appreciated.  I was just really glad we were in my car, since she usually drives.

We decided to have a “girls hike” after taking the Boy home, which is how we ended up at Twin Falls.  The trails begins by following along this river:

It climbs up, and then down, and then up again.  We saw salmon-berries ripening along the trail and we inspected ferns to see if we could find any that might be edible, noting the many varieties.  The Girl chatted with K most of the way, taking up my usual self-appointed task of keeping K entertained.  *ahem*  Actually, it was really cute.  She likes to rave about how peaceful the woods are (completely missing the irony) and she finds places for bunnies to live under roots and rocks.  Everything is amazing to her, except for when it’s “impressive”.   She was very brave with some of the dogs we saw along the trail.

It’s only about a mile to the lower falls:

The upper falls can be seen from a bridge over the river, a half mile up from this lookout, but I neglected to take pictures there.  Apparently.

We stopped for lunch, where a very friendly and brave chipmunk skittered around us for a few minutes, hoping for a handout.  We disappointed him, so he went away.

The trip back down was much as the trip up.  Back in the truck, K asked, did I mind if we stopped at Fall City to see the falls there?  I didn’t mind at all, so we took a little detour through Fall City.  We wound up at Snoqualmie falls… not sure if that’s the falls referenced in the name “Fall City”, but it was impressive anyway:

There was a very cool gift shop, which we strolled through, and K bought some magnets.

Much of the landscaping in the park seemed to reflect the local flora.  We saw a couple of varieties of rhododendron, some kind of currant, and roses which first attracted our attention by being very fragrant:

These were also distinctive for having rose hips on the bush, which I’ve never noticed on cultivated plants, but how much do I know about roses?  Approximately zilch.

I took a nap when I got home.  The Boy seems to be feeling much better and now it’s Doctor Who time.

at Thornfield Manor…

I watched the newest “Jane Eyre” last night.  The girl who played Alice in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” plays the part of Jane in this rendition, and a very good Jane she made.

In a way, it’s surprising that people keep making movies out of books like this.  How many versions of all the Jane Austen novels do we have?  And Jane Eyre is right up there too… IMDb lists 21 titles for Jane Eyre.  I would think it must be hard to come up with new ways to tell these old stories, but I guess this is why new versions keep being made: everyone has the way they think the story should be told.

As far as this offering goes, I enjoyed it, although I don’t know if I could have followed it if I hadn’t read the book umpteen times.  It’s a full two hours, and still crops huge chunks of the story out, since you really can’t tell the story in two hours.  Certainly you can’t tell the story in two hours if you want to linger over any details, which this film does.  There is time spent just watching Jane… which I found intriguing.  Since the story is told from her point of view, that’s what we get in the book–she rarely observes herself, so neither do we.  The film has scenes where she’s teaching Adele, or examining a painting in the hallway, or watching people out her bedroom window.

This time spent simply observing the characters is what this film is good at: it’s like a series of snapshots from the book which help you picture the story better.  With any of the Bronte books, I could never get a sense of the business of the household–my mind’s eye always pictures people alone and never with servants bustling around them.  I always found it difficult to get a sense of Rochester’s manners, but the actor who plays him this time does a good job of being abrupt and sarcastic, but also kind and funny– very much the gentleman, but definitely a gentleman who doesn’t conform to the rest of his society.

The film captures the atmosphere of the book very well.  When Jane is teaching Adele, I got the sense that Jane is content here, at this time, but that her heart yearns for more.  When she is tending Mason while Rochester fetches the doctor, the feeling of tension and fear is palpable.  On their wedding day, Rochester hauls Jane down to the church with exactly the right attitude–he’s so close to getting what he wants that his fear almost overcomes his happiness.

This rendition of Jane Eyre was really good at staying true to the spirit of the book… I just wish there had been more.  The only real problem with the film (besides the Rivers sisters being too thin and not getting enough screen time) is that it isn’t long enough.  It really should have been done as a mini-series.  I kept missing details, like St. John being in love with a girl from town, or the time Jane spends trying to get food after running away from Rochester, or when Bertha tears her wedding veil.  OR the fact that the Rivers are related to Jane–a detail which could have made it into this film, but didn’t.  Much of the visit from the Ingrams is left out and most of Jane’s time at Lowood school is missing.

I mean, really, I just need to go read the book now.



Rosamund: the finish

I’ve had this sweater, the Rosamund cardigan, knitted for a few weeks now.  I was apprehensive about the size, since I knit it with negative ease and it was a little… um, snug… before I blocked it out.  Yesterday would have been a good day to have this sweater to wear, though, so I wove in the ends, soaked it in the tub, then spread it out on my blocking boards.  This morning, I put it on, still damp, and am now basically blocking it on my body.  I had gambled that the wool would loosen up with water and I was (thankfully!) right.  It fits perfectly and all I have left is to figure out the hook & eye closures.

Of course, my bathroom is too dark to get a good sense of just how fabulous it is, but in the sunlight, it’s a lot more golden:

up a creek


Okay, seriously, just having a hard time coming up with a catchy opening paragraph.  Deception Creek is a trail we visited last Fall, but due to time constraints, we didn’t hike as far that day as we would have liked.  It was a beautiful trail, so we decided to go back today.  As it turns out, there is still a lot of snow in the mountains, and we made most of our progress by following a previous hiker’s half melted footprints.  Consequently, I didn’t take many pictures.  There’s a bridge over Deception Creek, which some time I would like to cross in dry weather:


Up until this point, the trail was pretty clear, even with the snow.  I had on my pedometer, which also measures distance, but I think it measures distance by multiplying my stride length by how many steps I take and I don’t think it factors clambering over snow, which involves short strides, long strides, and strides that end with breaking through the crust and ending up hip deep in snow.  So, I really don’t know how far we went, but when we lost our mystery hiker’s tracks and couldn’t find the trail, we decided to turn back.

We didn’t feel ready to quit hiking, though, so we headed back to the truck, then drove on down to the Iron Goat trail.  The main trail-head was closed, so we took a little back road to pick up the trail further down.  The Iron Goat trail is almost perfectly level, due to once being a railroad track, and the old tunnels are still there.

I had trouble getting a picture that gave a good sense of the scale, and then I had light issues, so this is what we have.  Just think: this tunnel is big enough for a train to get through.  It was huge and a little creepy.  There was also this:

I think that’s the supporting wall, which keeps the forest out of the tunnel.  Again, no sense of scale, but it was enormous.

We ate lunch, and then covered a couple of miles in a pretty short amount of time.  We saw more tunnels, and admired the view over the pass, and then we found backpacks lying on the trail.  Noticing a badge on one of the backpacks, we realized that they belonged to trail maintenance people.  Not much further on was… well… an avalanche across the trail, but we saw that someone had cut some very nice steps into the snow, so we decided to continue.  About a quarter of a mile later, we found a group of mostly older men just finishing up on some task.  Another avalanche blocked the trail, but they hadn’t done anything to cross this one.  We approached a little warily, not sure how thrilled they’d be that we crossed the snow pack to get so far, but they weren’t fussed.

“Tell you what,” one quipped, “you can cross this next one too, but do us a favor and tie a 50 foot string to your hat.  That way, when you fall into the snow, we’ll be able to find your body later on.”  We talked with them a bit about the work they were doing with the Volunteers of Washington, and then walked back with them.  One gentleman, in particular, turned out to be great fun.  We had a very nice chat, and then we left him when the others stopped to cut through a tree across the trail, being a little concerned that we were making him walk too fast.

All in all, we walked 6 or 7 miles, which isn’t too shabby!  We’ll go back to Deception Creek later this year when the snow melts and see if we can’t make a real hike out of it.