Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cowtown on the blog

I'm just so tickled this morning--I got up to read my favorite blogs, and what did I see but that Jo of Celtic Memory Yarns went on a weekend trip to my hometown, Fort Worth! What a wild and strange paradox--in 1999, I went from blistering-hot Texas to Ireland on a pilgrimage in search of wools and sweaters, and now she just went from Ireland to Fort Worth in search of the same (well, in search of a dyeing class).

I hope Cowtown treated you well, Jo!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ravelry invitation!

I'm so excited--I got my invitation to Ravelry this morning! They are really working quickly through the waiting list. Just last week, there were 400+ people ahead of me, so they're getting people signed up fast.

Now, to find time to get going!

Life here is getting busier, but it's all seeming to fall into place. We had an offer on the house yesterday! Finally, after all this waiting!! I knew it would happen, but these kind of things always seem so impossible until they happen. I love this house--I have always loved this house--so it's not a crazy idea to think that someone else would love it, too. But until that actually happened...

I've been hearing such pessimistic news about the housing market here in Boston--prices plummeting, house sales down, qualified buyers evaporating. How different it all is from the time I bought this place! Back then, in the balmy pre-9/11 days, buyers were fighting for property in Boston. Houses went on the market on a Friday and were sold--with multiple offers--by Monday. People were even skipping inspections in order to get an edge over other buyers. It was so competitive.

Fast forward seven years, and it's a very different landscape. Houses are sitting on the market for weeks and months. I've known people to give up and take their houses off the market because they aren't selling. And I've had a well-meaning co-worker asking me all too frequently if the house has sold yet, and I've had to tell her again and again and again that no it hadn't, and no we had no offers.

But that's all changed now! Hurrah!! Now, to get on with LIFE!

I'm in the middle of two projects--the first is the famous French Market bag. The knitting is complete, but I haven't felted it yet. (Does anyone but me have a problem with the usage of "felting" versus "fulling"? What everyone calls felting is actually fulling, and there seems to be no correcting it. Grrrrr....)

My next project is one I started planning back in a former life (or so it seems), long before we began considering our move to the Finger Lakes. Last summer, we'd been there on a visit, and I stopped into what was then a brand-new LYS, Finger Lake Fibers. How friendly they all were! What a great shop! I was ready to plan a new tam (I love tams!), and I bought two skeins of a lovely local yarn from Carole and Mark Harth's Bear Farm in nearby Burdett. Lovely natural shades of Oatmeal and Dark Sheep's Grey. I also picked up a skein of Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool in a rich brick red for an accent color. Now I've been sketching and planning a tam of my own design. More to come!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

a day out

One more chapter in the saga of the long, slow goodbye to Boston.

Today, it was time to have another ride on the Swan Boats. These are such a Boston tradition (going back to 1877). Fifteen minutes of peace and quiet, of watching the ducks and the geese and the swans (still no cygnets), and imagining how different and how similar the view would have been back in 1877.

When I first moved here years ago, I really wanted to take a ride on them, but I felt a little sheepish going on my own without kids. Fast forward a few years, and I have kids who are more than happy to take their mom on a Swan Boat ride.

Some beautiful iron fencing around the Central Burying Ground on Boston Common. I'd never noticed this before. How simple, and yet how lovely.

A grim reminder about the price of "progress." When Boston began building its subway in the 1890s, they ended up moving some unidentified "persons" to a mass grave in the Central Burying Ground.

Hours and hours of walking, and "seeing what we can see," and talking and laughing and pointing and listening and questions questions always more questions. Finally, keep the kids quiet and cool with an ice cream in a special spot on Beacon Hill. A buck fifty for an ice cream and a view of life on Charles Street. Life is good.

It doesn't get more local than this

One of the things I'm looking forward to about our move is having more time to cook. I do like cooking--real, authentic, good, flavorful food that isn't microwaved or warmed-up, and that isn't a 30-minutes-or-less kind of meal. But that kind of cooking doesn't work with the crazy schedule we've had. By the time we've finished our full days of work, picked the kids up from daycare, and decompressed a little around the house, there isn't much time for good old-fashioned cooking. And the weekends? That's for catching up on all the other things we couldn't get done during the week. And interesting menus seem to fall by the wayside most of the time.

I've been watching a few shows about good, real food, mostly on BBC. Jamie Oliver's shows often annoy me, but I have most of his cookbooks and I like what he does. Gordon Ramsay, as rude as he is, celebrates good food (though in places I could rarely afford to eat in). And I've found a new show called "Food Heroes" that celebrates the regional foods of Britain. It's a celebration of local food, and that has given me food for thought...

I want to learn how to cook regionally and seasonally. That doesn't mean swearing off foods that aren't in season or that don't come from a 20-mile radius, but I'd like to learn how to make the best use of the best food out there--which is food closest to the source. Ithaca has a good farmer's market, and I plan to make good use of it once we've moved.

But for now, here's our local-most produce. It doesn't get more local than this--straight out of the garden.

Even better with a big serving of organic vanilla yogurt.

Mmmm. Boy loves berries.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A tavern, a monument, and lots of ducks

Some months ago, we discovered a great little place in Charlestown--the Warren Tavern. Apart from the lure of the historical (supposedly the oldest tavern in the U.S., a favorite haunt of Paul Revere, and a place where George Washington was known to quaff a pint), we like it because (and this would horrify Washington, Revere, and the rest of the Patriots), it feels so ENGLISH. I've been to so many fake-Irish pubs (pubs-in-a-box, some of them built in modular form in Ireland and shipped over), it's nice to have a meal and a pint in a place that seems a bit more authentic. (That said, this place has probably changed so much over the centuries that it most likely bears little resemblance to its 1780 self.)

So on Sunday, we headed north to Charlestown to have a leisurely lunch at the Warren Tavern and to see what we could see.

Gaslights--real, or reproductions? I think they're pretty fabulous, whether they were put up in 1880 or 1990...

Of course, no trip to Charlestown is complete without a trip to the Bunker Hill Monument. Okay, so the battle actually took place on Breed's Hill, but what's a little historic specificity among friends? I have yet to make it to the top of this thing, and I can confidently say that I never will. The last time I tried it, it was about 95 degrees and wicked humid outside, and I was (unbeknownst to me) in the earliest stages of pregnancy. I hiked like a maniac up the spiraling stairs, higher and higher, ignoring the growing feelings of claustrophobia while climbing inside an obelisk with only a few random slits in the stone to let some natural light in. About 10 steps from the top (and there are 294 steps to the top), my head started spinning, I broke out in a freakish cold sweat, and I knew that if I didn't sit down That Very Minute, I would pass out and tumble down each and every one of the 284 steps I had climbed.

Needless to say, I'm not keen to give it another go.

But being near the Bunker Hill Monument is pretty darn fun on a beautiful summer day. We had blue skies and cool breezes, and the kids enjoyed frolicking on the lawn.

Aidan has learned to do cartwheels, which he demonstrated proudly.

We puttered around the area for awhile, soaking up some atmosphere and taking pictures of architecture. The house we're buying in upstate NY was built in 1876 and is currently painted in a shade I think of as Tedious Boring White, so we're looking for interesting color schemes. Out came the camera!

I love the colors on the house on the right--they're a bit richer in real life than in the photo. They seem wonderful rich and warm, without being in your face. Something to think about...

I love the roof pattern of this house and the details around the window.

Our new old house has pairs of rather plain brackets just underneath the roof line, and while I wouldn't replace anything that's authentic to that particular house, it got me thinking about brackets.

What I have often found interesting about historic houses in the Boston area is that the exteriors may be ever-so plain, but the brackets show off the age of the house.

Well, I could only keep a soon-to-be-three-year-old and a 5-year-old interested in architecture for just so long, so we hopped on the Orange Line and headed back into familiar kid territory. Time to visit Mrs Mallard and the ducklings in the Public Garden. But on the way we saw...

...the weirdest bike thing I've ever seen. This is a Pedal Party bike, where 6 or 8 people can sit on the thing and pedal it together. It looks like a weird kind of fun, and if the kids had been just a bit older, I'd have said we should hop on and give it a whirl!

So we finally made it to the Public Garden. This is the time of year when they try to fool you into thinking that Boston is tropical. I never get used to seeing palm trees in the Public Garden!

And every year, they bring a mating pair of swans to the pond there. They fence them away from nosy visitors and cross their fingers in the hopes that the eggs will hatch and there will be little cygnets on the pond.

Mama Swan is doing her best. When she stood up to change her position, I could see a number of eggs in the nest.

But there are always duck families on the pond in the summertime. Here's a happy duck family--could it be Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack, and Mrs Mallard, too??

Toward the end of the day, a stroll down to Copley Square. The reflection of Trinity Church was tremendous. What a great place for peaceful contemplation (if only that were possible with kids in tow!)