Look, when I said "maybe I'll be posting more often" it was... uh, you know. It was all relative. A month later is nothing when you remember that it's been two years empty.

The Christmas Season is upon us, well and truly. Almost all of my shopping is done. I only have one handmade gift left to finish, and thankfully plain weave is fast and easy. We will go get our Christmas tree today, and I will pull out the decorations. I pulled a muscle in my back earlier in the week, and it took me until today to feel normal again. (Aren't I too young for backaches?)

Work has been slow but steady. With the holidays coming around, people aren't doing much construction, so there's not much stuff coming in for asbestos testing. Radon, though, is a big hit in the cold weather. We get full totes of radon samples in daily with the mail. Thankfully the paperwork for that is all standard and really easy to log in.
Oh! I never talked much about my new job. So, let's say you move into a house. And it's an old house, and you worry that maybe some of the materials used to build it were hazardous. Lead in the paint, asbestos insulation (they put asbestos in damn near everything, even toothbrushes), maybe mold in the basement. You're worried. So you take a few samples of them, and you cruise the internet looking for a place to get this stuff tested.

Welcome to EMSL Analytical, Inc. We do that testing. Not sure if your sheetrock is asbestos or not? Want to identify the allergens in that dust? Do you need to know the tensile strength of that dog treat? How about doing a total nutritional analysis on that new food product you want to sell? We do it. We do it all. And we have labs across the country (and some in Canada). I work in login, where we process incoming samples and sort them to where they need to go, filter out and handle any problems, and get the paperwork and information in the system so the labs can do their thing. Mostly I handle asbestos and radon paperwork, which is one of our biggest labs, but I also dabble in micro and lead. Chemistry is a beast of its own and I'm glad I don't mess with it. Ugh.

It took me a little while, but I am SO ready for Christmas. I can't wait. I got Patrick the coolest presents and he is gonna love them. My family polyanna is gonna love their stuff, too. All my friends are being a little spoiled this year. I can spare some money, for once. It's a nice feeling. I can't wait to see what they all say when they get their presents!

Are you ready for the holidays?

The wren, oh, the wren
He's the king of all birds
On Saint Steven's Day he got caught in the furze
So it's up with the kettle
And down with the pan
Won't you give us a penny for the bury the wren?
~"The Wren! The Wren!" - traditional Christmas carol


Fresh Start

Hello there! Long time no see! 

Well, it's been two years. Over two years, now, close to three. I have no real excuses for lack of updating, some things (including spinning, weaving, and most knitting) fell by the wayside as things got kind of hectic.
My life has changed. Some things are better, some are worse. There have been comings and goings, as is the way of life. So let's bullet-point some of the biggest events, but not necessarily in chronological order:
- I got my driver's license (Finally. Don't ask, please.)
- I adopted Patrick's car when he got a new one. 
- There were some family deaths. People very dear to me have departed, and I am sad to have seen them go.
- I left the world of retail for a job doing data entry in the lab-testing field.
-- I get paid better.
--- I get paid vacation time.
---- I get benefits. Sweet, sweet benefits.
- My middle sister got married.
-- I was a bridesmaid, it was a lovely beach wedding.
--- Emily was a stunning bride. When she smiles, it is like the sun coming out.
-I got married.

Yep! Saved the best for last. Patrick proposed to me back in the summer of 2013, when we were on a vacation in Jamaica. We were just married in October, and I am now Mrs. Kathryn Lickfield. Well, most of the time, anyway. I'm still in the process of changing my name. There is so much paperwork....

After Emily got married last September, Patrick and I only had a month or two before we sat down and said, "Shit, now it's our turn." Our summer was a haze of "I mailed the invitations three weeks ago and no one has RSVP'd. Did you call the caterer? What about this for center pieces? Can you come for a dress fitting? WHY HAS NO ONE RSVP'D YET?!" and other typical stresses. I started my new job in early July, and I made sure to warn my boss very early on that I had a wedding, and I'm sorry that it's so soon after you hired me, but it's a Saturday and I won't need much time off. Bossman is a cool guy, though, so he was really understanding. He helped me work out my time off so I could have some time to get ready beforehand while not losing hours.
Of course, I'm sure it helped that he knows Patrick. We work for the same company now; Patrick does IT and software development stuff, and I do clerical work.

But the wedding went off without much of a hitch. We had a backup plan in case of rain (did you know that rain on your wedding day is lucky? Probably eighteen people have told me that), so even though we didn't get to have the Pine Barrens fall wedding we really wanted, everyone showed up, no one was drunk or hungover, and there was no drama. As Em says, as long as you end the day married, it was a success.

But things are settling down here now. I'm a much happier, much less stressed, and just generally feeling better in myself.

So, perhaps I will be blogging more often. I'm certainly picking up the needles again. I've got a scarf, a shawl, and now a hat for Patrick OTN. Plus a cool Christmas present for my friend Caryn that is going on my tabletop tapestry loom. Overambition? What's that?

It's hard to say what it is I seen in you
Wonder if I'll always be with you
Words can't say, and I can't do enough to prove
It's all for you
All For You - Sister Hazel (our wedding song)


Future Days of Green

Let's cheer up a bit after that dreary post I made the other day, shall we? With color, and plants.

Probably, your local emergency services have a flower sale (if you're northern hemisphere) around Easter. It's a pretty typical way for them to make money. Well, I always try to buy from my town's fire department whenever they sell anything, because, well, if my home is on fire, I'd like for them to be able to afford to respond promptly. My parents plant all the bulbs out front of their house, and my mom says that looking at the flowers is like looking back at Easters past.
This year, I got tulips with bright colors for myself and some purple hyacinths (sorry, no picture) for Patrick's mom. We brought her some last Easter, and she really liked them, so Patrick suggested we get a few more this year. I said, sure, why not.

I also visited a local garden center and got myself a few things.
First, a pot for morning glories. I found a pack of morning glory seeds at the dollar store and I couldn't resist. Besides, if they never grew, well, they were a buck. Not a big financial loss. Well, in about ten days they've sprouted to about three inches high and are still going. I removed them from their small pot and replanted them in a larger one with a hand made trellis (just some pieces of dowel tied together with yarn) to keep them upright. They bend with the sun in the kitchen window.
I got some of those cardboard-y, biodegradable pots for seedlings, because I also have some sunflower sprouts that are on the up-and-up. Those, though, are going up to Emily because as much as I really, really love sunflowers, I have nowhere to put them when they eventually reach six feet in height. But the autumn beauties will be in lovely reds, oranges, and golds, and even though the flowers of this type are smaller than the typical yellow sunflower, they grow in bunches instead of singularly. Plus, they self-seed, so she won't lose them when they die off for the winter.
I've been planning this one for a while, but I set up a long planter-pot with some herbs.
I can't have a real garden because the property owners probably won't like it if I till up some grass and put down plants. So I made up a small one for myself.
It sits right under the kitchen window, which gets all the morning sun.

There's apple mint...

...sweet basil...


...and "husky cherry red" tomatoes. Well, only one tomato plant because Patrick won't enjoy fresh tomatoes. But I will!

I'm looking forward to these small plants growing over their planter, ready for me to use them. I want to hang some to dry, especially the mint, which makes my kitchen smell so wonderful. I also know that rosemary is one of my dad's favorites, especially with pork and figs, and that with all the snow in the last few winters, his rosemary plant has finally died. I'm going to save some choice stems for him.
The tulip bulbs, when they die off, will go to my parents as well and add to their garden. Another Easter to remember next year.

Have a wonderful holiday if you celebrate it; and if you don't, have a glorious Sunday.

Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.


The Shortest Story

Were you feeling happy today? Maybe a bit cheerful? Perhaps this sunny, spring-like weather has your spirits up?
Well, let me fix that.
The Shortest Story
Harry Chapin

I am born today, the sun burns it's promise in my eyes;
Mama strikes me and I draw a breath and cry.
Above me a cloud softly tumbles through the sky;
I am glad to be alive.

It is my seventh day, I taste the hunger and I cry;
My brother and sister cling to Mama's side.
She squeezes her breast, but it has nothing to provide;
Someone weeps, I fall asleep.

It is twenty days today, Mama does not hold me anymore;
I open my mouth but I am too weak to cry.
Above me a bird slowly crawls across the sky;
Why is there nothing now to do but die?

Wait, wait! Don't run away! I'm sorry I just made you cry, Mom. But, well, you were talking about Harry Chapin and how his songs were never about popular things. And I thought of this one, which is something I've always kept tucked away in a sad little corner of my mind.
But I'm done with that, no worries.


The End of All Things

With Mass Effect 3 reaching the "beaten but thoroughly replayable" category of my game list, I have a few thoughts to share. If you don't really care that much, you can skip to the next section. I'll make it easy to notice.

I am satisfied. Not happy, but satisfied. The game lived up to most of my expectations, and those were exceedingly high. I laughed out loud for minutes at a time, I cried quietly into a tissue, I raged at the audacity of my enemies, and I sat in stunned silence. Often all within the same hour.

Despite the many virulent and violent arguments against them, I am okay with the endings presented (I have seen two of the three possible choices). I don't love them, but I don't hate them. I wish they were a little less vague and showed a little more. I was disappointed that the nearly 100-hours I spent playing the series was rewarded with about 10 minutes of cutscene.

I was braced for Shepard (the name of the character you carry through the games) to die. I believe that a person like Shepard couldn't just retire somewhere sunny and live off the royalties from the vids. Everyone builds and leads their Shepard differently, and in the end, all the choices that everyone has made leads to a totally different Shepard each time, and many people were upset that Shepard dies. I, personally, have a number of Shepards that all went through slightly differently, but Jane, whom I've carried up since Mass Effect 1 to be a caring, understanding person, has reached the end of her metaphorical rope. She has given every thing she has to accomplish her goals, and there is no victory without sacrifice. Jane Shepard won her ultimate victory against the Reapers by sacrificing her life.
Tecumseh, the Native American chief, is quoted as saying, "...When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home." This, I think, describes Jane Shepard perfectly. Even my not-so-nice characters.

You know what's unfair? Bonding with a character that is terminally ill. Thane Krios has a disease called Kepral's Syndrome which essentially effects how much oxygen his blood can carry. It is noncommunicable and thus far, incurable. By the time you see him in Mass Effect 3, Thane's doctors gave him three months to live... nine months ago. He's struggling to keep going, but it's a losing fight. You meet him in a hospital, where he is a resident, and after some chatting and begging him to join your crew again, he flatly turns you down.
Later on in the game, Thane (once a great assassin) helps you to thwart an attempt on an important politician's life. He gets stabbed through the abdomen for it. After chasing off the enemy (who runs like a little coward, that bitch), you find Thane back in the hospital with his son, Kolyat. Thane asks Kolyat to read a passage from their holy book, and it talks about redemption and finding peace in death. Thane passes away quietly. When Shepard asks Kolyat why the passage reads, "she" and not "he," Kolyat replies that Thane has already sought forgiveness for the deaths he has caused. He wasn't asking for the passage for himself, but for Shepard.
That's right. Thane's dying wish was a prayer for Shepard to find forgiveness and redemption in the afterlife.
I cried a lot at that point.

The emotional scope of the game is just gob-smacking to me. Each personal moment I have with my crew feels like it means something, like it's bringing us one conversation closer to saying, "Goodbye." And when you actually do have to say goodbye, in the end, right before you begin the final mission, all I could bring myself to say was something along the lines of, "This isn't the end."

The number of people who want to buy Shepard drinks when "this is all over" reached astronomical heights. I decided that if the Reapers didn't kill me, I'd die of alcohol poisoning.

There will be a lot of kids running around in the next baby-boom generation named Shepard.

Interaction with my crew and when my crew interacted amongst themselves felt much more organic. Previously, everyone would stay in their little corner and only talk to Shepard. My Child Development class called this 'parallel play.' In 3, they move around the ship, they have conversations, you find them in random places on the Citadel... It was handled much better in 3.


I haven't done much knitting. Work is keeping me pretty busy right now, and most of my projects are big and heavy (alpaca blanket-shawl, anyone?) and I don't want those on my lap when it's 75 degrees out.

On the subject of work, I'm halfway to being promoted to shift-runner. I have some computer training to complete, and in about two or three weeks, I have two classes I have to take. Then I get a dollar raise whenever I run shift, which will be most of the time.
When I'm ready to run shift, they're moving me to third shift, which is overnight. 11P.M. to 6A.M.

I'm not excited about that part.

"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."




Well, I promised you some knitted love, and so here it is. With pictures!

This lovely beauty is my most recent completed project. A shawl, as you can probably guess. She's hand-dyed baby llama from my lys, spun with a bit of glitz in there to make it shine in the sunlight.
I added the extra panel on each side so that it would be a cozy shawl I could wrap around me in the cold weather, and boy did that work out great. The shape makes me think of batman, though. Maybe I'll do a basic one in all black next.
I would have made her even bigger, but I was running very low on yarn when I finally cast off.
The edging pattern is just something I drew up really quick on some graph paper, knit a quick test, and then put into use. It was supposed to be mountain-y looking , but the way they stacked ended up making diamonds. I should have expected that, but whatever. I like the look. I've been calling her Igraine in my head, after the character from Marion Zimmer Bradley's book, The Mists of Avalon. It's a whimsical connection. Igraine, the father of Arthur Pendragon, goes from the mountainous cliffs of Cornwall to the comfort and luxury of being queen of Britain.

Mountains to jewels, get it? No? I thought it was kind of tenuous, too.

My current WIP is this guy, who doesn't have a name yet. This is all handspun (not by me, unfortunately) alpaca gained at various sheep shows. I originally wanted one that was a pretty neutral color, hence the cream (I know it looks white, but it is definitely a cream color), but I quickly ran low on that, and so I had to improvise or frog the whole thing and make a scarf.
I am nothing, if not determined.
So, I hunted in my stash for something similar and came up with a few inches of scarf attached to a ball of dark/light gray alpaca of the same approximate weight. It's hard to be exact with handspun. One ripped scarf and a few randomly spaced stripes later, and I had a pretty sweet looking fade from one yarn into the other, and I was going along with the gray, of which I have significantly more yardage.

This will be a big, warm shawl when I am done.

And now, for a break from my knitting. I spoke before about a video game called Mass Effect, and how much I enjoyed it.
Well, in a week, the final game in the trilogy is coming out to massive anticipation from gamers. This is the culmination of every decision you made over the last two games. The war for Earth has begun, and not everyone will survive. Let me quote Bioware to give you a brief summary: "An ancient alien race, known only as "Reapers", has launched an all-out invasion leaving nothing but a trail of destruction in their wake. Earth has been taken, the galaxy is on the verge of total annihilation, and you are the only one who can stop them. The price of failure is extinction."
Their marketing campaign for this game can be, and is, summed up by the phrase, "Take Earth Back". The start of the game sees you fleeing into space with your crew, newly reinstated to Commander, to gather allies and rouse the galaxy against the Reaper threat. Earth is in crumbling, flaming ruins. To fail in your mission is to watch as all life in the galaxy is annihilated.
Their trailers and commercials are poignant. I want to share two that really hit me.
The first is simply called Take Earth Back. Sound isn't necessary, but it helps.
The second is called Fight. This one is live-action and needs sound.

"Faced with becoming nothing, we fight for everything."
~the Fight trailer

P.S.: Those squid-cuttlefish-looking things descending from the sky? Those are Reapers.


I'm a bit late for the Brigid-inspired poetry, but here is my contribution. Ogden Nash has a huge collection of poems, short and silly and some sweet. This is one of my favorites of his.

This is my dream,
It is my own dream,
I dreamt it.
I dreamt that my hair was kempt.
Then I dreamt that my true love unkempt it.

Ogden Nash

Tomorrow will be knitting stuff.