Sunday, September 28, 2008


(Before I begin, I have to point out that for the first time in ages, I'm actually able to post a blog on the date for which I intended it to be posted. I'm quite chuffed about that.)

I am in house hunting hell.

Well, okay, maybe not hell. I do have a tendency toward the dramatic, I'll admit.

House hunting purgatory, then. (We'll ignore for the moment that I'm Lutheran and when Luther got in a snit with the Catholics he chucked out things like Purgatory. Think the Catholics have now too, for that matter.)

The thing about moving back to small towns is that they're, well, small. There aren't as many housing opportunities.

There are lots in the small city where I'll be working, but the Things' requests (and my own wants, too, quite honestly) are for some space and especially, for my "Learning Disabled" Things, a school small enough where they won't get lost in the crowd. After years of living with LD and of working with them, I can categorically state that all LD means is someone with an unusually high IQ who tends to think outside the box and who is totally unimpressed by conventional sit on your butt and do it this way learning. Makes me wonder why the word disabled is even part of the label.

(Anyway, little me digression there, sorry. I get like that when not in full tell-a-story mode.)

So, we've spent lots of time trucking around visiting school districts and trying to find housing in them.

The general result in School District #1 has been that houses are either 1) more than I would want to pay for a mortgage, let alone rent, especially with a heating oil winter coming on, 2) actually below what I expected to pay and therefore tiny and already rented anyway, or 3) perfectly within my range and available, but not rentable to me because the landlords generally rent to childless couples only and I am not childless. I'm not even a couple. And when you have 3 homes in category 1 and a single home each in categories 2 and 3, your options ratchet down rather quickly.

School District #2 has a house. A lovely house on 8 acres. A lovely house on 8 acres in my price range with enough square footage for all our furniture and for furniture I don't even own (like a couch) and a terrific propane fireplace (which I would soooo use) and a prospective landlady who really wants us to have the place because, as she said in an email, she thinks we would take good care of her home, and that means everything to her.

It's a lovely house that is not available until the end of October. This would mean driving the Things from the town we are in to some sort of before school drop off each morning, driving into work, driving back up to get them from some sort of after school, then driving clear back to where we currently are. If you are at all familiar with Maine's "you can't get here from there" road system, you would, as I did, quickly realize that what should be about 20 minutes of driving on straight shot road between the three towns (if said straight roads actually existed) is more apt to take an hour. One way. Besides, although my hosts would say stay, I don't want to impose that long. And it's not like there's a handy extended stay hotel to live in for a few weeks either. Small town, small city. Sigh.

So, the perspective landlady who really wants us is racking her brains trying to figure out how to get out of her home earlier so we can get into it, I've emailed a friend who has a mother with a large home in a great school district father south down the road (but at least it's interstate driving; interstates are pretty straight shots, even in Maine) who was seriously considering looking for someone to move in to help pay for oil (she and I are very sympathetic on views on politics, religion and kid raising and she adores my Things so we get on like a house afire) and we go today to look at a place 20 minutes north up the interstate, which has a dean from work in the same area with whom I cold commute, and also has a fireplace and at least an acre of land, but which is more along the modular home build which will mean not lots of insulation.

(And yes, I realize that that last sentence-which-is-its-own-paragraph is the sentence from hell, but I believe it is punctuated properly enough to not technically be a run-on AND it perfectly illustrates just how quickly my brain is slamming together options so you're stuck with it. Mea culpa.)

The last house is at least the perfect excuse for lots of sock knitting. Really warm, thick socks, like the Frankensocks.

Not that the socks I am currently knitting are warm or thick. (Yes, I'm actually going to talk about knitting on a knit/crochet blog. I know that seems odd given the last few posts, but please bear with me.)

I'm knitting Shetland Lace Rib Socks from Stitches of Violet with the purple Trekking sock yarn that knocked the Frankensocks out of the running awhile back (we won't discuss just how long awhile back that was, okay?). The socks are my first go at lace, and I am loving the idea that regular mistakes (i.e. holes! Holes in the knitting!) could create something so beautiful.

Well, for real beauty, go click on the link. My stitching isn't that perfectly even yet, even allowing for the blobby lace look the Yarn Harlot talks about and the fact that I have a tiny point and shoot digital camera. (I so want a rig like Deanne has. Nice camera. Nice price too, I am sure. Sigh.)

And I've come to an interesting bit in the pattern. I'm getting ready to do the heel. Heels have never bothered me. I learned short row heels while knitting Christmas stockings and have had fun turning them ever since. But my old sock pattern (the first and only pair I'd made up until now) had me consider the stitch marker/first stitch as the center of my heel. This made sense to me, because it's where everything began. (If that's completely illogical, don't tell me. Dyslexic brains move in their own logic sphere.) To do the short row heel then, I simply slipped an equal number of stitches off of each side of my first needle and onto the other two dpns, then knit happily away.

If I use the same process here, though, I will mess up the lace patterning when I return to knitting lace; each repeat is a set of ten and I need to keep that set together or I will have an off-kilter foot. I'm off kilter enough as it is, I don't need twisted feet.

One bit of my brain says, "The sock is a tube. Therefore, you should be able to split the stitches as needed and the tube can't do a thing about it. It can't even run home to its mommy crying because it hasn't got one. Just do it." The other bit says, "Yes, but it's a tube knit in the round, which means you're knitting a spiral. A spiral might care where you say the middle is."

The rest of my brain has told both bits to shut up. Some days, there is nothing more fun than being a house-hunting, dyslexic, beginner knitter with not another knitter in sight. I wonder if Maranacook Yarns is open right now? After all, it's fine to be out driving; all Tropical Storm Kyle is doing is dropping rain that sounds comfortingly heavy as it hits (that's due to a frontal boundary and upper-level trough that's pulling Kyle this way; I should mention I'm a bit of a weather geek too). It's only in fall that rain sounds that way, have you noticed?

Oh, and Arthur? Does this blog answer your question?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

On the Road (Again--Sigh)

Just two weeks after one cross-half-country trip, we're doing another one.

The Things gave us a smile

girded up their resolve

and buckled in.

The poor, beleaguered little "bread van" gamely chugged along.

(And it should. I've replaced enough of its parts that there's not much to stop it from being a new mini-van save for the paint job. Oh and all power seats and windows that you don't have to roll down manually and doors that open with a push of a button when you're half a parking lot away. But other than that? It's so there.)

We even rigged up the ultra-posh mini-van with movies look by hooking up the laptop to a charger.

(And in case any of you out there were wondering, if you accidentally drop an audio book case on a keyboard, you stand a good chance of knocking letters clean off. Just a little fyi there.) We then slotted a special cassette into the player

(Yes, you heard me right. A CASSETTE player. This. Van. Is. Old. :) ), hooked it into the laptop and viola! Movies in surround sound and with a screen far larger than those nancy little screens the cool new minis have. We even balanced the laptop perfectly between the two front seats with the laptop bag providing center support. And we felt just too darn clever for words, let me tell you.

I liked all the movies that the kids watched while I was driving, but I discovered that some don't work for the driver of the car. I adore Wallace and Gromit, but visual humor doesn't translate well for the audio listener. Lots of silences with me searching my memory for the funny part that I should be laughing at right then.

Sound of Music, though, was great. LOADS of people gabbling and bursting into song, which is a real help at 11:00 p.m. when everyone else has nodded off and it's either sing along or be reduced to carrying on pointless conversations with oneself (and I do that enough as it is).

WARNING! Never, never, put in the latest version of Pride and Prejudice at 11:45 p.m., thinking it will fill the time until you get to the hotel. I don't care how sexy Mr. Darcy looks striding across a misty field in a great coat (you're driving and not supposed to be peeking at the screen anyway). The music is so soothing and the accents so sweet that before you know it you'll be slamming the last of your soda and waking up a groggy Thing to demand that it talk to you and ask you lots of questions to keep you awake for the last three miles.

Thank goodness for family. Normally we stay with them instead of at a hotel when we reach New York, but this time there was other family there too. Hence the hotel, and a kind offer from grandparents and great-aunts to watch the kids play in the pool so mom could go back to bed, after a nice continental breakfast, and have nice siesta (I felt so multi-cultural, though when you're as mixed race as me, that's really not all that hard).

That of course, meant that we did not leave New York until check out time, which meant we could either do one long days' drive to Maine or stop in New Hampshire and crash at a former student's place. Since Jedediah's now long graduated, he can officially be moved up to good friend. Besides, he had hosted the Stanleys on my wild ride back to the east for an interview earlier this year

and they had played his drum until all hours

and then stolen one of his books.

Three Things after the Stanleys would be a walk in the park.

Jedediah lives in Littleton, New Hampshire. I LOVE Littleon. It's the only place in the US I have ever found that paints instructions for pedestrians to wave thanks to cars that stop for them. People stop to help direct you out of tricky parking lots when your van is loaded and visibility is poor, and manage to hold a entire conversation with you while still saying, "Litta more, deah, litta more. Yah can back up another fahve. Therah. That should do yah." Stop to ask for directions and you'll wind up giving your life history to people who are sincerely interested, or at least you assume they are by the number of questions they ask to keep the conversation going.

But the best thing in Littleon? Some canny yarn and fabric shop owner has guaranteed a way for knitters and crocheters to bring their non-knitting/crocheting partners to the store and keep them there indefinitely, so that the knitter or crocheter can stock up to his or her heart's content.


As long as the partner is interested in Nascar, that is.
I can't tell you how much I wished that shop was opened when we were there.

And so at last, we rolled out of New Hampshire and on into Maine. We didn't go over this

(it's the Pisquata Bridge and the Things always cheer when we cross it going north; it's their way of saying we're back) but instead came up a new way. Appropriate, I guess, as we are going to be in a new town and with a new job.

Now all we have to do is find a house to rent and we can unpack our stash and all will be well. Housing should be easy, right?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Saying Goodbye

So we made the decision. It meant leaving the land of amazing summer thunderstorms

and heading back east to the land of more trees and darker nights where all the stars are visible.

We said goodbye to family, with the knowledge that we'd see them soon.

Letting go of others, whom we might not get the chance to see again, was difficult. We left behind places like this:

and Pastor Tim and his wife Judy, who listened so well and helped so much.

And also here:

St Peter's, and all the friends we had made there.

We shut our door, packed our bags of yarn, hooks, needles and books, and headed toward the open window, taking with us all our old friendships in their new forms.

For whatsoever from one place doth fall,
Is with the tide unto an other brought:
For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.

Edmund Spenser