Hamilton House, South Berwick, ME

We finally managed to make it down to Hamilton House on Saturday, for the first time this season. And finally, we managed to pick a time when the house was actually open for tours. It was both like and unlike what I was expecting inside. The house itself was built in the late 1700s, but was donated to Historic New England by Elise Tyson, who had bought the property with her step-mother at the turn of the last century during a period where the rich were into Colonial Revival, so the house reflects that period. Still, it’s a very interesting tour, well worth the time if you’re in the area.

As usual, the gardens were lovely, which is pretty impressive considering the wretched weather we’ve been having. I just wish South Berwick was a little closer so I could visit more often. This is one of my favorite places in Southern Maine.


Knitting Notes

Pattern: Sock Yarn Baby Hat
Yarn: Three Irish Girls Adorn sock yarn in the Baltic Sea colorway
Needles: Size 2 DPNs

My first experiment in sock yarn end usage is done. It was a pretty easy knit, if a bit boring by the end of the main stockinette tube. It looks like I have enough left of the yarn to be able to add a pair of socks, so I’ll be able to keep this aside for a nice baby shower gift at some point.

Hawaiian Flowers

And last, but not least, flowers and plants from Hawaii:
Row 1: Unknown, unknown, leaf, banana, pomegranate, plumbago, ohia lehua, plumeria, hibiscus
Row 2: Unknown, bougainvillea, plumeria, Tahitian gardenia, ginger, hibiscus, Hawaiian Cotton, rhododendron, agapanthus
Row 3: Green jade, plumeria, leaf, Helconia, unknown, unknown, unknown, hibiscus, hibiscus
Row 4: Torch ginger, spider lily, banana, leaf, hibiscus, unknown, unknown, orchid, plumeria
Row 5: Hibiscus, palm seeds, ixora, morning glory, plumbago, ginger, unknown, repeat unknown, repeat unknown

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse – Robert Rankin

Read for the TBR Lite 2009 Reading Challenge.

A young man named Jack is sick of working in the clock-work factory and decides to make his fortune in the city. What he doesn’t realize is that the city is Toy City, where the vast majority of the population is toys, and the few humans are the personifications of nursery rhymes.

Jack arrives just after the murder of Humpty Dumpty, and soon teams up with Eddie, a teddie bear, to solve the crime. It’s soon clear that there’s a serial killer on the loose, as more and more of the nursery rhyme characters are cut down.

This book is all kinds of wrong – with underage drinking, car chases, and some really appalling behavior. It’s a great book, with a great sense of humor. It gets weirder and more enjoyable the further you read. Great light summer reading.

Knitting Notes

I have quite a few smallish bits of left over sock yarn that I’ve been trying to think of ways to use, and I’ve hit upon a couple of different ideas for getting rid of the yarn. Idea number one is for yarns that I’ve actually got a fair amount left, like the Three Irish Girls Adorn sock yarn I’d used for the Kiila Socks. I’ve cast on a baby hat using the pattern from the Wise Hilda Knits blog, and it’s been coming along nicely, if a bit slow, since it’s sock yarn. I actually have enough yarn leftover for this particular skein that I may be able to make some baby socks as well.

In February Lady news, I had gotten almost all the way to the end of the garter stitch on the yoke, and had to frog the whole thing. I’d somehow managed to increase an extra 18 inches, and I just couldn’t see a way to fudge that back down to the correct number. I’m already back up about halfway done on the garter stitch yoke.

I’m at least a little bit happy about the frogging because I decided to use ktbl increases instead of M1 increases this time, and I’m a lot happier with the way those look. I’ll also be able to redo the buttonholes about a row up (for each) from where I’d placed them before, and I think I’ll be happier with that, though I could have lived with their placement pre-frog.

I’m trying really hard not to cast anything else on until I’m either done with the hat, or quite a bit further along with the sweater. Once Sockdown starts up again for next year, I’m foreseeing a renewed dearth in project monogamy, and figure I better take advantage of only having two projects on the needles while I can.

Maui, Day 3

This particular day on Maui was our day to drive the Hana Highway. This is the road that encircles Haleakala, though the true “Road to Hana” is only the drive to the town of Hana, which is roughly halfway around the volcano. Anyone that’s driving usually doesn’t do the complete circle around the back side of the mountain.

The road is a rather mythic, barely two lane road through rain forests, perched on cliff-edge, and with many, many switchbacks that fold into one lane bridges over myriad waterfalls. Our average speed for the trip (despite a good chunk of 45 mph driving at the beginning and end of the day), was 18 mph. True to the rain forest label, it rained for most of our drive through the actual north coast, and only really cleared up for good when we got to Hana.

Haleakala from the road.


A view back of the highway from Ke’anae


The above photos were all taken from the Ke’anae Peninsula, a lovely little diversion from the road.

The above three photos are of Wai’anapanapa State Park. The park is in Hana, and has a great picnic area where we had lunch. (We’d stopped in Pa’ia and picked up a picnic lunch, complete with cooler bag. Definitely a good investment.) There’s a black sand beach, and a really neat lava cave running from that beach to the ocean.

The other place we stopped in Hana was the Kahanu Gardens, an ethnobotanical garden that’s part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden system. This particular garden focuses on the plants that the native Hawaiians used, be they native to the islands, or introduced by the Polynesians. It’s an interesting place to wander through if you’re into that kind of thing.

The other really neat part of this park is the Pi’ilanihale Heiau, a three acre stone compound built in the 14th century. It seems to be a combination of royal palace and temple, due to the reverence the site is held in. You can’t climb the heiau, but it towers over the gardens, and lends a certain special sense of presence to the area.

We also made it down to the ‘O’heo pools, past Hana, but there was high water that day, and they were closed to swimming, so no good pictures there. After that, we actually kept going. Not long past ‘O’heo, the road is unpaved for a while, which is why most people with rentals don’t venture down there. We also had the added adventure of a small traffic tie up when someone managed to flip their car. Needless to say, that’s quite the event on a barely more than one lane unpaved road. Even with that slight annoyance, the back of the mountain may have been my favorite part of the drive. There’s no one else around you, and you pass into the rain shadow of the volcano, and the landscape dramatically changes out of the rain forest into Mediterranean scrub, with dramatic cliff falling into the sea instead of beaches. It’s not an easy road (I doubt my sister enjoyed this part of the trip, since she was driving), but if you can enjoy the scenery because someone else is driving, I highly recommend it.

The Crow – Alison Croggon

Read for the YA 2009 Reading Challenge.

The Books of Pellinor center around Maerad of Pellinor, who was sold into slavery with her mother at a very young age. In the first book of this series, after she has escaped from slavery, and in the course of her adventures, she finds a young boy, who turns out to be the younger brother she barely remembers. They’re separated at the end of the first book. In this book, which is the third of the series, Hem’s story after the separation is told.

Hem was sent south to live with the Bards in Turbansk, the greatest city in the south of Edil-Amarandh. All too soon, this beautiful city is drawn into the war with the returning forces of the Dark. Though he’s still a child, Hem ends up journeying far into the face of this terrible darkness.

I was initially a little leery of this book, because until now, I’d been following Maerad’s story, and wasn’t sure how a diversion into the life of a thirteen-year-old boy would end up comparing. However, Hem has to grow up rather quickly (and frankly, due to his childhood was fairly grownup to begin with), so it wasn’t as jarring a difference as I’d feared. This part of the story was also much less Lord of the Rings-esque than the previous two books, probably because of the differences between of the cultures of the northern and southern portions of Edil-Amarandh. It was a remarkably fast read, mostly because there was a lot of action packed into a fairly short period of time.

One thing this book has that I’ve really enjoyed in the previous two books is the Appendix notes, set up as if this were a true translation of a lost work only recently discovered. (The author presents the series as the translation of documents found in Morocco that came originally from a continent lost long before our current civilization rose.) I actually enjoy scholarly appendices, and she’s done a great job doing these with a completely straight face. They’re a joy to read.

I’ve been really enjoying this series, and can’t wait to get my hands on the final volume, though I think I’ll be a little sad when it’s all over, and I don’t have any more to look forward to.

Maui, Day 2

The Western Mountains




Our second day on Maui ended up being volcano day. We still weren’t acclimated to the time zone, so woke up early, and were ready to go by 7:00, which worked out nicely for taking pictures along the beaches along route 30, which runs from Kahului around the southern tip of the Western Mountains to Lahaina. There are gorgeous beaches along most of the road, with decent surfing (you can barely make out a surfer in the third picture down – turns out the best surfing was the day we left, so I don’t have pictures).

We headed up to the summit of Haleakala (the island’s eastern volcano). For whatever reason, Haleakala, from most vantage points, resembles one large mountain, unlike the carved up appearance of the western volcano. It’s also a lot larger, and when you’re in the lowland between the two volcanoes, Haleakala wins the looming game.

As you drive up the volcano, at a certain point of altitude, the landscape suddenly turns into the rolling, green hills of Ireland, and you’re surrounded by cows. (And jacaranda trees. I love jacaranda trees.) As it happened, this was the cloud belt on the morning we went through, so I sadly have no pictures, but it’s a beautiful landscape.

Above the cows, the trees grow thinner (and eventually disappear), and you hit Haleakala National Park, which houses the summit and the crater of the volcano. This was the one place on the island where I actually had to put on a sweatshirt (we arrived around 10:00, so it was in the 50s, and as a hearty Mainer, I eschewed jeans. It was probably a bit breezy to eschew jeans, but I survived).

Apparently the crater isn’t really a crater, but I’m not enough of a geology buff to remember the whole story behind that. What I do remember is how much it resembles a moonscape. It’s incredibly beautiful, and the clouds were close enough to provide an interesting contrast (though they did deny us what I’m told is a stunning view of the lowlands and the Western Mountains).

The Big Island from Haleakala.

The drive back down the volcano is interesting. It’s a steep enough grade that for the entirety of the park road, and a bit longer, you’re riding in a low gear through switchbacks. My sister drove that, and I confess I’m happy she did. I’m way too much a lowland driver to be entirely comfortable with that much active driving management.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Jaywalkers by Grumperina
Yarn: Sophie’s Toes in the Handsome Park Ranger colorway
Needles: size 1.5 DPNs

I cast on these Jaywalker socks last August. I have to admit, I got bored with the pattern. I think I would have enjoyed it more had I made these closer to the beginning of my knitting career. The pattern is really simple, and looks really good, but with only a two row pattern repeat, I got sick of it really easily. I’d put these aside as something I could work on while traveling, but I’ve learned that I don’t really like to knit while traveling, so it became apparent that I was never going to finish these if I didn’t just do them. Now that they’re done, I’m definitely glad, but I will not be making this pattern again.

I definitely enjoyed working with the Sophie’s Toes sock yarn. It’s pretty soft, and I really like the colorway. It is a bit smaller than some of the other yarn I’ve worked with, so I was starting to get a bit worried by the end that I wouldn’t have enough yarn to finish the socks, but my fears there turned out to be unfounded, and I actually had a little bit leftover (though not really enough to be anything other than scrap yarn).