Wednesday, January 18, 2017


It seems that I've gotten in the habit of celebrating my birthday every other year (maybe I'll age more slowly that way?)  Four years ago I went skydiving.  Two years ago we went to Universal Studios--specifically Harry Potter World.  This year I hopped up to Boston for a few days to visit Mike and Margo.

Mike had just been for a visit for the Halloween Howl, but during those visits we tend to be a little preoccupied with the Howl itself and don't get to visit as much as I'd like.  Besides, Mike had a workshop built several years ago (which he keeps calling his "shed" and  I insist is his "maker space".  He reads too many British woodworking magazines--in the UK a "shed" is where a guy makes stuff, whereas in the US it tends to be a place to store junk.  But I digress.)

It's always hard for me to be away from cats, if only for a few days, but we all thought I'd be OK because they do have a cat, Moonlight.  Little did we know that Moonie would take an immediate and intense dislike to me.  I got glared at.  For three days.  She didn't hide, and she wasn't aggressive (except for a time that I attempted to casually scratch her ears and got hissed at) but she glared (well, one morning I came down just as she finished her breakfast and she barfed at me).  The most disconcerting times were when I got out of bed and opened the door to find her in the hallway glaring at my room.  To assuage my ego, we all came to the conclusion that she really really dislikes other cats--and, of course, despite the fact that I do bathe and wash my clothes, I *have* to smell like a whole herd of cats.  Especially since my slippers by this time are probably 50% wool, 50% cat hair. 

Despite my intentions to mostly hang out in Mike's "shed" we of course had to go to at least a couple of museums.  The Fullerton was having a steampunk exhibit paying homage to the area's history of producing shoes (and odd combination, but it worked) so that was a must-see.

And I had to go visit Mike's museum--meaning the one where he volunteers.  The Charles River Musem of Industry and Innovation--the name about sums it up.  Lots of 19th century tools (from steam engines to fly shuttle looms, printing presses, and Mike's particular toy that he's worked on--a paper-bag-making-machine). (hmmm--too much talking, no picture-taking . . .)

But, as planned, a lot of time was spend playing in Mike's shed (giving Margo time in the house to placate Moonie).  The shed is not large--about 10' x 20'--but it's a good thing it's built on bedrock because he has managed to pack it to the gills.  Lathes, grinders, engravers, all the stuff to make stuff with--it's a heck of a playground.  Not too long ago he had built a machine to do engraving via computer program.  His experiment while I was there was to see if he could replace the engraving head with a small laser.  Which he did, and could burn intricate designs on pieces of wood.  I had just happened (cough, cough) to bring a couple of bone discs with me (I use them for spindle whorls for spinning) and, being that bone is organic, he was able to burn a delicate design on it (have to admit that burning bone stinks a bit).  What I found most charming was the way that the machine "sings" while it's working.


And on my last morning there we even got a sprinkling of snow.


Fun trip, and after I got home I overcame my slight trauma by scratching/hugging every cat I could find--mine, the cat at the feed store, the cat at the hardware store, a friend's cat--just to assure myself that most cats like me.  It wasn't me--it was her.

The rest of December was mostly doing December stuff--getting ready for Christmas (including our traditional viewing of "The Hogfather" while having meat pies and sherry), having Christmas eve with friends, and a quiet Christmas day at home.  Quiet except for a bit in the late evening when we heard a knock on the door (a rarity--out here someone knocks on our door about once every 10 years) and it was a couple of sheriff deputies.

Back story:  When we moved out here we had problems with trespassers in the woods behind the house.  We posted signs, which were of course completely ignored.  Later we took to nailing baby dolls to the trees, which worked quite a bit better.  Seriously--who wants to risk going on the property of someone who nails baby dolls?  But there is a stream on the border of our property and people still tend to paddle down that (officially we own only one side of the stream).

This year, after the Howl, we were cleaning up and got ready to toss an old plastic skeleton--there was only the top half left, and even that was missing an arm.  But--what the heck--we brought it home and took it down to the woods, and hung it where it could be seen from the stream.

Hence the deputies knocking on our door.  Someone was paddling down the stream, saw it, and freaked.  Fortunately the gentlemen of the law thought it was pretty darned funny.  And it's nice that if they had to work on Christmas, at least they got a good laugh out of it.

And that about wraps up 2016.  New Year's Eve was spend quietly at home (although we did manage to stay up until midnight, but opted for a glass of eggnog rather than open champagne).

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