project 365


One photo every day for a year. And with any luck, quality will improve as the year goes by. I’ll try not to take the easy way out (I’ll post cat pictures only when they’re really adorable.)

The inspiration is from

saturday sky


In Dorchester

Sheesh, that’s the lamest attempt at a pun that I’ve ever seen. If it’s even a pun. I blame it on too many leftover fun-size candy bars.

Leo's LeavesMoving along… my sister entered “Leo Leaves”, the quilt we saw a few posts ago (detail at left), in another show. It was on exhibition only, not judged, but out of about 480 quilts on display, it received one of two “Viewer’s Choice” awards. Yay, Maud!

As long as we’re discussing textiles, here’s a picture I took with the camera built-in to my new MacBook. Me in my second Halfdome. (If the sun comes out tomorrow, I’ll try to re-take the picture outdoors.)


For the first Halfdome, I followed instructions and knit it flat, which meant I was left with a seam to sew. Unconvinced by the designer’s curious affinity for finishing, I tried this time to eliminate as much finishing as possible.

It was very easy to knit this using the Magic Loop technique. I also went down a size in needles (actually my mother’s suggestion) to get a more substantial fabric. I have only the ends at the color changes to darn it, and next time I’ll try this technique for knitting in the tails as I go, leaving only the final tail to sew in.

I may unravel the first Halfdome and re-knit it.

rhinebeck 2


I bought only one skein of yarn at Rhinebeck, with the hope that it would match some yarn I bought at the Chilmark flea market on Martha’s Vineyard. I thought back then that I had enough for a sweater, but I mis-judged and the sweater (under the yarn) has been sleeveless for about 15 years. The label on the new skein says “Romney”, which had better be the sheep the wool came from and not a subliminal political endorsement.
Single-ply Romney from Foxhill

John bought some yarn from Margaret Wilson of Mostly Merino. The Golden Snitch says Hey, enough with the flash — I was trying to sleep here. The canvas bag is a souvenir of the trip provided by the organizer, Allison of Circles Salon. (And this is a not-so-subliminal endorsement.)
Mostly Merino

John with Margaret at her booth.



This past weekend John and I went to Rhinebeck. I know you’re thinking “Oh, what a quaint olde New England village”. And it is that. For all I know, it may also be a floor wax and a dessert topping, but at this time of year Rhinebeck is a code word for the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival. It’s a combination county fair and crafts show, complete with livestock, sheepdog trials, many, many fiber vendors, and fried pickles.

The jaunt was sponsored by Circles Salon, our LYS in Jamaica Plain. John and I skipped the communal bus trip so we could drive out Friday afternoon in daylight and peep us a few leaves. The group stayed in New Lebanon at the Abode, a Sufi community, retreat and conference center in a complex of historic Shaker buildings. Twenty people in this house — with two bathrooms. There were three of us of the male persuasion (including the non-knitting boyfriend of one of the women) but we resisted the urge to label one bathroom “Men” and the other “Women”. I’d guess that “Rams” and “Ewes” would have been even less popular. After John pruned a branch that was screeching against the window we slept quite well. And the best part — there was free wifi! Oh, and a Toast Fairy.

Saturday morning we drove to the festival, an hour and a half away. (And two hours back. Don’t ask.) The weather was beautiful; the crowd was thick on the ground. We did push our way through the barns of vendors (riding the Boston subway is great preparation for this), but my favorite part was the livestock — sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas, bunnies!

Saturday evening we had a fantastic dinner whipped up by the Abode crew, followed by a group show-and-tell where we coveteth our neighbor’s fiber. How did I miss the $1/oz wool and the 3000 yard skeins of laceweight? I really enjoyed meeting this group of knitters. There are still occasions, even in the 21st century, when a male knitter can feel uncomfortable, but these women are, every one, a class act.

On Sunday, before heading back to Boston, John and I took a walk in the woods. It was a welcome change from the crowds of the day before. Next year we’ll plan ahead and allow time for a hike up to the top of the ridge.

The Abode property straddles the NY/MA border and along this road in the middle of seemingly nowhere is this marker:

Tomorrow I’ll post pictures of our purchases.

I’ve been rather busy lately, so there’s a lot to catch up on. Let’s start with the geeky stuff.

Last month I went to an EclipseWorld conference. Eclipse is an open source framework or platform for developing software applications and, because the conference was here in Cambridge, the company I work for agreed to foot the bill for the conference fees (they generally won’t fund travel). I’ve been experimenting with using Eclipse for an enhanced version of the web-based application that I engineer. I thought the conference might be enlightening and also might supply some blog material (in the under-represented geek category), but it wasn’t actually interesting enough to write home about. Most of the sessions I attended were introductions or overviews of the technology, whereas I was hoping for more detailed information.

The first day I attended a tutorial session on Building RCP (Rich Client Platform) Applications. It was led by Eric Clayberg and Dan Rubel,the authors of the book currently considered the definitive guide to RCP, Building Commercial-Quality Eclipse Plugins. The session covered a fair amount of basic material but the hands-on labs didn’t go much beyond the standard First Contact of coding, the “Hello, World!” program.

At one point, Mr. Clayberg asked how many people were developing under Windows. About 60% of the ~150 people in the room raised their hands. Linux? - about 40%. Mac? Two people - one of whom was me. Yes, the real benefit of the conference was that I finally, after more than, er, several decades as a software developer, bought my first computer — and broke free from Windows at the same time!

I also attended a couple of sessions presented by people from the company I work for, although they are based on the mother ship in another state, so I’ve never had contact with them.

I’m usually far too shy to talk to strangers but I thought I should at least introduce myself to my fellow employees, so when I spotted three of them sitting in the hotel lobby, I forced myself to go over. As I leaned over to shake hands, my back suddenly spasmed out. I should have said something about it but I thought I could just talk past the excruciating pain. I have no recollection of what I said, which is probably just as well. I can only hope that they’ll forget too.

After that painful-in-more-ways-than-one experience, I went to Wisconsin for a week to visit my mother. We drove down to Madison to see the Wisconsin Quilt Expo because one of my sister’s quilts had been accepted for the juried competition. She didn’t win, although we fail to understand why not. The name of her quilt is “Leo Leaves”, after her late, beloved cat.

Leo's Leaves

And here’s my little sister, Maud. My mother and brother Jed are on the left, so to speak.

I took my new Mac (blackBook) with me, but none of my mother’s neighbors were kind enough to leave their wireless internet connections open to the general public. Drat them and their security awareness. I did discover that the Appleton Public Library has free wireless access though, so I wasn’t completely cut off.

My mother and I also trolled the local yarn shops. Iris Fine Yarns (formerly Jane’s Knitting Hutch) is a beautiful shop, with what seems like full lines of Rowan, Debbie Bliss, Noro, Jamieson, etc., and some fascinating fiber from Habu Textiles.

Iris Fine Yarns, Appleton, WI

The Habu yarns (cunningly, if oddly, displayed in glass vases) include some made of silk and stainless steel and some of linen paper. I bought some cones of cotton and linen without any idea what I’ll use it for. I just like the look of them.

Habu Textiles fibers

I also bought some Rowan Felted Tweed to make some knucks, fingerless gloves which are knit from the fingers down. (Which means they can’t really be fingerless but I don’t have time to work this out.) This was the first time I’d used double-pointed needles. More fun than I expected. I might do it again.

Coming soon, my trip to a graveyard.



A couple of months ago I received some mail addressed to someone who used to live here. I usually open anything that isn’t obviously junk mail just in case it’s a property tax notification or some other bit of flotsam that needs attention. This was an invitation to a high school class reunion, so I figured I should notify the sender that the addressee had died.

The reunion organizer responded with condolences and asked if I had any photographs that I might send for a planned memorial for deceased classmates. I will spare you the long, boring tale about the scanner that no longer works with any functioning computer in the house, the new scanner driver I had to BUY from Umax, schlepping the scanner in to work, buying a new scanner, buying a new computer… Sorry, it’s already a long and boring story.

I met Michael in 1976, the Bicentennial year. Like everyone else in Boston, we spent the summer listening to the Boston Pops on the Esplanade, watching the Tall Ships, waving to the Queen (a real one, from England!) and participating in other quasi-patriotic activities (how innocent that seems now). He was the second guy I dated and became my first long-term relationship.

In the beginning we lived in a two-family house he owned in Malden, Massachusetts. The other apartment he rented to his parents and his older, unmarried sister. The less said about that period, the better. In 1979 we sold that house and bought an old Victorian house in Dorchester (a part of Boston).

This is Michael and me in Huntington Beach CA in 1978. (That’s not Michael’s hand on my shoulder — it belongs to his aunt who was standing between us. The rest of her has been photoshopped to the virtual cutting room floor.)

Michael loved to shop, or more accurately, he loved a bargain, which meant many trips to the Haymarket, Quincy Bargain Center and Filene’s Basement. When I first moved to Boston, I went to the Basement, a place renowned for both good prices and an every-man-for-himself atmosphere. I was completely overwhelmed and left within minutes, empty-handed. Later, under Michael’s tutelage, I learned the secrets of navigating the Basement, especially during the semi-annual Louis sales, which back then offered truly spectacular bargains. We’d have to get there least an hour before the doors opened so that we were at the front of the pack. We were on television a couple of times when a local station had nothing better to do than send a camera crew to witness the mayhem.

Michael doted on his two nephews and would have dearly loved to have children of our own, but he never followed through on that particular dream because, as he admtted in rare moments when he acknowledged the seriousness of his diabetes, he didn’t expect to live to be forty.

Michael Frorillo died on the seventeenth of March 1988 at the age of thirty-nine. Happy birthday, Michael.

An advance scout was spotted in North Cambridge. Can the Golden Horde be far behind?

Where am I?

He’s on the roof of a building near my office. If he’s looking for a job, we have openings for anyone with knowledge of IBM mainframe OS internals, which is in fact a skill set from another century.

The flag may be a clue

John and Potter practising their Alexander technique.

This is my kind of exercise

At the recent birthday sale at Woolcott, I bought one skein of yarn, planning to knit a pair of knucks. I wanted to wind it into a ball, so went to the attic and dragged down my great-great-grandmother’s skein winder to hold the yarn. Obviously not adjustable for skein size. Those wacky pioneer folk. And, yes, it took much longer to set this all up than to actually wind the one ball.

This was inevitable. No Boston-based blogger can resist a chance to rag on local drivers, pedestrians and/or cyclists. So here is my near-death experience of the week.

I was walking down Charles Street last Friday when the lights at the corner turned red and yellow. So I started to cross the street. A red VW speeding down the street screeched to a halt inches from my person. The driver started making WTF gestures while I shouted to the idiot that the light was red. He sped around me, ignoring his legal responsibility to stop. As usual, no cop around when you need one.

Of course, this red/yellow light thing is unique to the Boston area, but if you’re going to drive in Boston, please learn the (often insane) rules. Red and yellow simultaneously signify an “all-pedestrian” phase, meaning all cars should stop and all pedestrians should feel free to cross the street. This is also known as the Barnes dance and is now, I believe, prohibited by the national traffic light standards. But it lives on in Boston. Although pedestrians live on only if they’re lucky.

Note to Boston traffic commission: the Charles Street area is crawling with tourists and recently-arrived drivers. The out-dated Barnes dance signals should be replaced with standard walk/don’t walk signals.

My second near-death experience occurred just minutes later, on the way back to the Charles Street T station. The T has decided that the overhead pedestrian walkways to the station were unsightly, so they tore them down and we are now forced to cross the very busy streets to get to the station. Few drivers, of course, bother with the traffic lights. I was almost mowed down by a truck which, although stopped, decided at the last moment, to run the red light, because, hey, why not? — it’s Boston, everybody does it.

dust to dust


I returned from my lunch time walk today with grass stains on the knees of my pants. I’m posting these pictures by way of explanation. Ahem. These headstones are in a cemetery in North Cambridge.

Many of the headstones are marble, which doesn’t hold up well in this climate.

This is my favorite. Gravestones often exaggerate the traits of the dearly departed, but this one gets right to the point.

The inscription at the bottom reads:

Elizabeth Harris,
of Lucbec, Me.
Died Aug. 22, 1849,
at Boston.
Aged 22 years

So for the record — there’s grass in cemeteries. I have more pictures, but I’m waffling between web photo applications. Should I stick with Picasa, which means upgrading my Wordpress template, or switch to Flickr?