preparations.

On Sunday night, I baked a coconut loaf. You know, to add to the pile of already prepared food available in the event of a multi-day power outage. (Also, to test out the recipe, also from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook.) It was delicious.

I also gathered a decent amount of water, tea lights (to float in those blue bowls of water), my extra headlamp, and (ahem) the gin.

Here’s what the sky looked like as I walked down the hill from campus on Monday.

I knew Boh could tell that something was going on. He never really goes into the guest room, but yesterday it was where he wanted to be.

We settled in for an afternoon and evening on the couch, alternating between writing a few sentences of the dissertation and reading storm information.

This isn’t Sandy’s fault. A leak developed last week, and the management company patched it on Friday because Sandy was approaching, but this was only supposed to be a temporary fix. It held through most of the night, and began leaking early this morning. Nothing to complain about here, especially when I look at images of NYC and the coast. The Sandy trajectory had the eye of the storm heading north right through here, but everything seems to be slowing down and heading further west. I’m thankful for that, and thinking of all my friends in NYC, DC, CT, and everywhere in between. And while I rarely discuss politics (in this space, anyway), election day is a week away, and I think it is important to consider the different ways that Romney and Obama approach the role of government in situations like Sandy. The New York Times, in a morning editorial on partisan ideas about federal emergency response titled, “A Big Storm Requires Big Government,” had this to say about it: “The agency [FEMA] was put back in working order by President Obama, but ideology still blinds Republicans to its value. Many don’t like the idea of free aid for poor people, or they think people should pay for their bad decisions, which this week includes living on the East Coast.” I am all for responsibility; it’s just that the way I see it, responsibility means accountability and action on the part of the United States to acknowledge the ways in which our actions are influencing the complex systems that govern global climate. It means broadening our sense of caring and community to include those who are most vulnerable — and not only when disaster strikes. Significant resources at the federal level are necessary to deal with significant problems. (You can donate to the American Red Cross here.)

Hope you’re safe, warm, and dry, wherever you are. Stay tuned for more knitting!

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five (oops).

My fifth blogiversary was a couple of weeks ago, and I was out of town and totally forgot to post. This space continues to mean so much to me — it is a place to document my world and connect with folks who care about similar things (knitting, spinning, cooking, outdoor frolicking, sweet and wrinkly dogs…) as well as an opportunity to write something, and often to get unstuck (in lots of ways). I like having this record of sorts. I’m a historian, so I guess that shouldn’t be surprising, but perhaps because my academic life, though punctuated with deadlines, has reached the stage where I’m working on a Really Big Project, I particularly value this alternate way of documenting some of the other pieces of my life here in the blogosphere. Thanks for being here — for reading, for commenting, and for blogging! Now, about those socks.

Yesterday marked the ceremonial(?) putting on of the handknit socks — the first time this fall! (These happen to be handspun as well.) We’re expecting a solid seven days of rain from the storms converging on the East Coast this week, and last night, as I was leaving the house, it was just beginning to drizzle. These kept me cozy all evening. Are you wondering what’s under that foil?

Deb’s Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel. You should add puff pastry to your grocery list. Seriously. This tart was so easy that I felt guilty bringing it over to the home of D and T, even though T had seen it on Deb’s blog and requested it. (It felt sort of like microwaving my dinner might feel. You know, if I had a microwave.) These are the basic steps: put puff pastry in pan, add apples, top with sugar and butter, bake. While baking, melt sugar, add a few things, and brush the caramel over the top of the tart. And it is SO GOOD. And pretty. And because my apples were huge and a little soft, I didn’t make the spiral that Deb made. Still tasty, still pretty.

Here’s a snapshot from Friday’s Yoda Thorpe fitting. M brought over some gardening wire for the ears, and we added the appropriate level of wrinkling. I’m hoping to get a picture of M’s Sexy Yoda costume to share with you!

I’ll wrap up today with some sweetness. Boh has conjunctivitis, so he’s been extra cuddly. (Except when I put his eye drops in three times a day. Poor dog.) Yesterday he napped while I graded.

Good thing I’m right-handed! We have a few more papers to work on together today.

These are my favorite trees on campus. There’s something about the golden shade of fall leaves that looks extra brilliant on dreary days. At least I have these trees to look forward during this week of rain ahead. I hope everyone in the path of the Frankenstorm stays safe, warm, and dry.

golden weekend.

In surgeon-speak, a “golden weekend” is a weekend you’re not working or on call. For my dear friends in St. Louis, these back-to-back days of family time are precious — and noted as such on the calendar that hangs in the kitchen. I had a golden weekend of sorts. I managed a kind of balance between writing the dissertation, playing in the kitchen, prepping class, and walking with Boh amidst golden light and fall leaves.

Oh how I love fall.

Fennel slaw from The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods. Do you read their blog? You should. And you should totally consider purchasing their gorgeous cookbook. This fennel slaw was simple and unexpectedly delicious. And after spending a couple of evenings flipping through the cookbook, I was inspired to make this pot of white beans:

Even though I didn’t have all of the ingredients called for, these beans and leeks are amazing. (And I say “are” because I’ve eaten them for two meals, and I’m psyched to have them again for lunch today, maybe this time on toast.)

I dug out my Agnes to wear while I worked on Sunday morning before the sun warmed the house up. I tug at it a little bit — it is slightly short, and the neck is a bit snug. I don’t think I ever blocked this, so once my dining room table is free (I’m slowly moving everything back into the kitchen), I think I’ll give it a good soak and pin it out to dry!

I almost wore my Kerrera on the walk I took with Boh, but I decided I’d be too warm. (That turned out to be a good choice. Soon…) It also needs blocking, or at least the collar does.

And in the knitting department, I present to you Yoda Thorpe! Since snapping this photo, I’ve used the sides of a coated green hanger to thread through the ears, and now it needs some more seaming to support the additional weight. I think M. is going to be a fabulous Sexy Yoda for Halloween.

There’s a pile of grading waiting for me today, which means that instead I’m making granola, doing laundry, and generally catching up on life this morning. Pretty soon I’ll have no choice but to sit down to comment on papers…

porch writing.

If you have to write a dissertation, I recommend doing it this way. Seriously.

Working from the porch means you get to watch the sunset.

This morning, I fried two eggs, added a little bit of green chile, and took it out to the porch.

It was a little chilly, so I pulled on my first handknit sweater. (This is how I know it is really fall.)

Fall (okay, and playtime with my neighbor’s dog) makes Boh sleepy. (I wish you could hear the snoring.) Another sign of fall?

Roasted tomatoes.

Roasted tomatoes on homemade pizza. With gorgonzola.

Also, scalloped tomatoes with croutons. I love this recipe. In conclusion, I love fall. (In case you can’t tell, it feels really good to set aside grading and fellowship applications, even if only for a couple of days, and get back to my project. I need to remember this, and aim for a bit more balance in my work-life.)

roasted tomato soup and a sleeve.

Well, and this Peanut Butter Popcorn. I doubled the amount of popcorn so that there would be a better ratio of savory/not so bad for me : sweet/bad for me, and I’m happy with that decision. (Plus, there was more popcorn.) This totally helped me power through a lot of comments for my students yesterday.

And here’s that soup: Heidi’s Roasted Tomato Soup from Super Natural Cooking. This one has been in my fall and winter rotation for a couple of years now, and every time I make it I am oh-so-happy.

Last night’s debate gave me some dedicated sleeve knitting time — one down, one to go!

Boh doesn’t seem anywhere near as excited about this as I am. (Maybe that’s because I made him wait until I bound off the sleeve to go for today’s walk…)

Also, thanks for all of your ideas and comments about my mice! I don’t want to jinx anything, but so far so good. I’ve caught a few, and I’ve filled every gap I can find with steel wool. I also got some pouches of spearmint and peppermint labeled as natural, pet- friendly mouse deterrent. I figure it can’t hurt, especially with my critter-filled attic and earthen floor basement. Despite last night’s temps in the high 30s, I found no evidence of mice in the kitchen this morning! Hooray! I’m going to wait a few days to move everything back into the half of the kitchen I moved into the dining room, but I’m optimistic.

field mice and snowbird.

This is what my battle with the mice has turned into: the contents of my knife drawer and my silverware drawer are on the dining room table. Also, any pots and pans that normally hang out on the stove are here too. I’ve emptied out the space underneath the sink, as well as the drawers the mice seem drawn to. Everything has been cleaned and disinfected, and the traps are baited and set. If I can convince them — through encouragement (in the form of the all natural spearmint packets the hardware store sells that convince mice to move on) and with a little bit of violence (there are rules, as K would say) — to relocate (again, physically, and in some cases, also spiritually) before it gets too cold, I’ll be able to reinhabit my kitchen and enjoy the rest of fall. If I can’t, well…I don’t want to think about that.

Instead, I’ll knit on another project started long ago: Snowbird. I had gotten as far as the collar and the raglan increases, and then the pattern has you start the sleeves before working the body. I was about 20 rows into one of the sleeves. I worked on this for about an hour last night, and I remembered why this was sort of slow going: reverse stockinette. I think I need to focus on relaxing my hands while purling. Or something. Good thing I love the idea of this sweater.

All right. Back to Monday, which for me, means writing midterm comments for my students.

signs.

I don’t watch Game of Thrones, but I’m pretty sure nothing says “Winter is coming” like a baby mouse scurrying around my dish rack. (Filled, of course, with no longer clean dishes.) This guy hid in this jar-shaped glass when he saw me. After I took his picture, I escorted him to the bottom of the driveway. And then I began the process of investigating for evidence of mice, and scrubbing and disinfecting everything. My love of old houses  means I’m familiar with this process, but I was a little cranky about discovering this mouse late on Tuesday night just as I had finished all of my prep for my Wednesday morning class. Sigh. I understand that the mice are just looking for a cozy place to hunker down. I’m willing to negotiate: they can have the basement (which has an earthen floor — there’s no way I can keep critters out of there), but the kitchen is off limits. Hopefully I can convince them that it is in their best interest to agree to my terms now, before the cold really sets in.

But enough about that. How about some pleasant signs that cooler weather is upon us?

I wore my wurm cowl yesterday. And I totally want another one.

I drank my Thursday morning latte pretty quickly at the coffee shop yesterday. (And finally finished a workable draft of that fellowship application I’ve been complaining about!)

I wrapped myself in my stripe study shawl and sat on the porch with my first cup of coffee this morning.

Aren’t the leaves lovely?

I’ve been spinning! These are Targhee singles in the Sprout colorway from the Hello Yarn Fiber Club (April 2011). In the background you can see what are probably my last snapdragons of the season. Even if winter is still a ways off, the first frost is near. I picked those at the farm on Tuesday afternoon. Happy Friday!