Maybe we should name the place “Tortuga Haven”

One thing I was ecstatic to see the first time we went out to look at the property was that there were gopher tortoise holes. I’ve been a fan of gopher tortoises since I lived on the farm; we had them out there. I just love the slow, steady, “ah-yup” feel to them. They are terrestrial (land-living, as opposed to water-living) tortoises whose ancestors go back more than 60 million years. I feel like a babe in the woods compared to them, and love them for a lot of the same reasons I love alligators. Well, I love alligators from a safe distance.

So like I said, I was glad to see burrows; gopher tortoises are unique in that they build large burrows which go down for anywhere from 6 to 10 feet below the surface and while usually the runs are about 15 feet long they can go as long as 40+. You can tell if the burrow is a tortoise one because the entrance will be shaped, well, like a tortoise. Some people call them bread-shaped.

Signs of life Signs of life

I was also glad to see that some of these looked like shared burrows, in that there was more than one kind of animal track at the head. Gopher tortoises are what’s called a “keystone species“. That means that they’re a species that while they take up little space and resources, they’re so important to the ecosystem of their location that without them, the ecosystem might change or even cease to exist. They share their burrows with up to 350 different species of animals (not all at once). This can include rabbits, burrowing owls, and foxes – and we have seen both fox prints and scat out at the property, which just makes me squee with delight.

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Works-in-Progress Wednesday (03/25/15)

(Cross-posted from my work blog)

There’s very little work-work going on at HaldeCraft this week (again, I thank all y’all for bearing with me while we fix the place up, pack, and move).

Today's Daily Deal item is a small green tumbler decorated with a ball of yarn and knitting needles. Oh, and, good morning, y'all! #ceramics #hcdailydealIn ceramics, I’m trying desperately to carve out time to clean some greenware so I can fill and fire the kiln. I’m also still trying to figure out this decal thing; I think I’ve got it worked out and will actually be throwing a few pieces in with the bisque firing to see if that’s the right temperature. And of course I’m doing the Daily Deal! What do you think of this so far? Today is 15 out of 36 items… If this is the kind of thing that everyone really likes, I might do it again closer to Thanksgiving.

In soap, I need to have some dryer weather so I can wrap just a few bars that I made for restocks. I’ve been waiting for the humidity to go down and have not had my whispers to Mother Nature answered… but as soon as it does, I’ll have a couple of restocks. That’ll be it until we get settled in the new place; I believe the next week I’ll be making soap is the week of May 17-23. Am I out of your favorite? You can either, on the product page, sign up to be notified via email when I get it back in stock (look for the green “NOTIFY ME” button on the left side of the page) or I’ll be taking custom orders again after May 3rd, so you can contact me then with a wish list.

Did I mention the small yarn update? Including a couple of One-hit Wonders.  Coming tomorrow morning to the shop! #handdyedyarnIn yarn, I had a small update the week before last, and that’ll be all I do in yarn until after we move. Next time I work on yarn it’ll be in my new studio, dyeing yarn club! Eeep! I can hardly believe it! I’ll have enough space then to get at least two more crock pots, potentially almost doubling the output of what I can do now (of course, then it still all needs to be wound, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it).

Sixteen rows until the bind-off of the front of this sweater. Then it's the arms, and seaming. On the needles since 2010? 2011? I might even finish this year! (PS. This is my worsted yarn, Tepper, in the Weathered Wood colorway.)  #HCtepper #knittersofins In knitting, I’m working on a couple of things. Mostly just a pair of stockinette socks (passenger knitting when That Poor Man and I drive out to the new property a few times a week) but also my Oakleaf Sweater that I cast on in January of 2006, and knit the back of… and then just sat on. Lately I’ve been wanting to work on it (inspired, maybe, by all the oak trees on our new property?) and as a result I’m almost done with the front. Then it’ll just be knitting the arms (a cake walk, after the front and back!) and seaming. Whooooo! I may get to wear it by the time the weather cools down this Fall!

TreefallIn moving, like I said above, we go out there every couple of days. That Poor Man has been taking Thursdays and Fridays off from work, and he’s got a whole weekend planned for “projects” in the days coming up. We now have electricity on out there, which means we also have running water (it’s an electric pump). Tomorrow we’ll get a quote on the driveway (did I tell y’all about the driveway? It’s a limerock road. The first 50 or so feet of our driveway is solid sand. Well, not so solid sand. And it’s erratic, lumpy limerock with runoff damage until about 200 feet into the driveway. So we’re getting a quote to take off the top four inches for about the first 250 feet of the driveway, and to replace it with concrete millings. Right now you can only come see the place if you have a four-wheel drive!). And That Poor Man is putting together a materials list for the house back deck, the fenced in yard for the dogs, and the studio front porch. We hope Lowe’s can deliver out to our house… after we get the driveway worked on!

That’s about it for my week. How is your week going?

Sugar Feet

Holy cow, y’all. I knew I hadn’t blogged my knitting in a while? But I didn’t realize I hadn’t blogged it since February. Of 2014. Expect a lot of catching up….! (Edited to add: I’ve pre-blogged a little under half of what I’ve knit since I last posted, and doing one a week, I’m already up to June 15th. Remind me to blog my knitting more often!)

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Yarn: HaldeCraft HandDyed Andre
Pattern: Maeva by Stefanie Bold
Started: 01/03/14
Completed: 01/29/14
Notes: The short story is that these socks made me insane.

How do Anniversary Party guests easily get to Gainesville?

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The joke around here is that all roads lead to Gainesville… and that’s kind of true.

Interstate 75 runs through Gainesville, as does US Highway 441, so it’s relatively easy to drive from anywhere in Florida. Which brings me to the other joke about Gainesville… that we’re two hours away from everything… and that’s also kind of true. We’re about 1.5 hours away from Jacksonville. Two from Orlando. Two to 2.5 from the Tampa/St. Pete area. So if you are flying, say, from a big city and don’t want to connect in Charlotte or Atlanta to jump a smaller plane to Gainesville’s airport, you can take a direct flight to Orlando, Tampa, or Jacksonville and drive over without too much fuss. You can take I75 directly from Tampa, you can take I4 to 75 from Jacksonville, or you can take the Turnpike to I75 from Orlando.

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If you want to sing out, sing out. And if you want to be free, be free.

…there’s a million things to be and you know that—- they’ll all happen at OUR NEW HOUSE!

WE GOT IT

Sweet Zombie Jesus, what a trial. If this place turns out to be haunted or something? Like, the Amityville Horror of Keystone Heights? Those ghosts better step the fuck back because I fought hard for this place and I’m not going to give it up to some paltry undead.

I’m working on a Flickr album here, if you want to look through. I think I’ve got about 50 pictures there right now, of the land and in and around the house and studio. I’ll keep updating there, and pulling from it for before/during/after shots as we fix some things up.

You guys. YOU GUYS. WE GOT IT. It doesn’t even seem real yet… I think I’m still shellshocked from the process. I have so much to say but I don’t even know where to start… it’s as if I asked my brain where to begin and it gave me the finger. So feel free to ask questions, and I’ll start blogging the fix-up process soon — we’ve already started!

And thank all y’all so very much for all your support… you’ve really held us together through all of this. xoxo

(Whispers)… “Houston, I think we’re a go for launch”

OK, I really, really hesitate to put this out there for fear of something ELSE going wrong… but we saw a lot of friends over the weekend, and of course they asked, and I can’t NOT answer, and then if I answer them I can’t just not say something online where people have been so wonderful and supportive… so as not to bury the lede… according to the lender, we got the loan.

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Remember how the other week I was doing a lot of yard work? That was because on Monday, March 2nd, the lender told us that we needed to get our house appraised, to make sure that we have a minimum of 30% equity in our house (what with Tim not being able to get to his retirement money until RETIREMENT and all), and after that we’d be approved. So that week I primarily worked on the yard, doing some maintenance on it and the house to spruce it up a bit.

We got the appraisal on the 6th. I have to admit that it didn’t come in as high as I was hoping it would, but it did the job. And it’s not the appraisal we have to use to sell this place, which means we can fix it up and get it appraised again in a couple of months.

Then we had a few days of “hurry up and wait”.

On the 9th, they told us that we would be closing on the 13th, and that the paperwork was almost done.

On the 12th, they told us the paperwork had just been finalized, but that the 13th wouldn’t work, it might be the 16th.

On the 13th, they told us that we’d be closing on the 18th… the ONE DAY that I have an appointment in the middle of the day which I can’t change (a friend had a heart attack a few weeks ago and while she’s recovering quickly, she’s not yet been cleared to drive – so I’m taking her to doctor’s appointments and I am not by gawd going to be THAT FRIEND who says “call me if you need anything, oh, but now that you’ve called me, sorry I can’t help!”).

So now we’re set to close on Thursday, the 19th. Eleven weeks and one day after the LAST time we had a closing date for this property. Ten months and three weeks after we started trying to move. Holy shitballs, y’all, I coulda had a KID in that time. I wouldn’t have, but I COULD have.

I swear to Flying Spaghetti Monster that if this closing date gets pushed back I may pop a blood vessel in my brain. Or get all River-from-Firefly on people and start killing folks with my brain.

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Why do you want to live in the ass end of nowhere, anyway?

Sweet Zombie Jesus, I hardly even remember why, at this point.

Well, I say that, but then I do things like trip over the garbage can while trying to thread my way between my desk and the stack of HaldeCraft yarn without knocking the drying ceramics off onto the floor, and I’m all… SPACE. That’s why I want to live out in the ass end of nowhere. SPACE. And technically it’s not the ASS end. I’ve lived out in the ass end. This is more like… the elbow of nowhere.

Tim’s formative years were spent in a small town in the mountains of western North Carolina. The kind of town so small that when you say Cashiers, people just stare, so you say near Highlands, and they still just stare, so you say near Franklin, which it’s not really but maybe they’ve heard of it, but they STILL just stare, so you say southwest of Asheville and they nod, mostly to get you to stop talking. I don’t even want to show you on the map where it is, though, because it’s so breathtakingly beautiful up there I want to keep it to myself, like a secret jewel. It’s got one stoplight and even that seems a little excessive. Alton Brown says he’s had just about the best BBQ in his life there. The town is on the kind of road that hugs tight to the mountain as if it’s afraid of falling off the other side of itself, and the road curves so hard you wonder how anyone even gets a delivery truck up there, let alone an RV. Tim played in mountain waterfalls and went to school and had a part-time job and was close with his family and loved the land.

Close to the same stage of my life was spent on 40 acres here in Florida, halfway between Archer and Newberry out near Watermelon Pond (it’s ok, you can stare blankly). I both hated and loved it. Nobody wants to be 15 and stuck out in the middle of nowhere, unable to drive, with parents not willing to drive over an hour to let you walk around the mall with your friends on a Saturday. But the older I got, it felt less like a cage and more like a refuge. After I moved out, I would come back for weekends like some people go to the beach; for rest, for relaxation, for quiet reflection.

Tim and I have always wanted a bit of land. But things keep getting in the way of us making plans for that; me quitting a “real” job to open a yarn store, him getting laid off and not being able to find a job for a year, the yarn store closing and me becoming an artist/maker with HaldeCraft. I know, I know, as the man said, life is what happens when you’re making other plans. So last year we decided to go ahead and talk about exactly what we wanted. Then, on the last day of October, we went out to look at this place. Fifteen acres. A house that, while it is a mobile home, is a third larger than the house we live in now. And a finished workshop that’s surprisingly just a tad larger than the house. And as we’re walking around looking at it, I’m silently asking my dad, “did you send me to this? Because this place looks just like Tree Frog Farm.”

The pictures in this post? How each picture has two photos in it? One photo is from Tree Frog Farm; the other from the property we’re trying to buy. Getting closer to buying.

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I love the time
and in between
the calm inside me
In the space where I can breathe
I believe there is a distance I have wandered
To touch upon the years
of reaching out
and reaching in
Holding out, holding in

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So, where are we?

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I’m writing one of those long, involved, navel-gazing posts about why Tim and I even want to move out into the ass end of nowhere, and it occurred to me I haven’t really updated recently where we are in the game — I mean, the circus — I mean, in trying to get a house loan. Mostly because even though every time we talk to someone they say “soon” but I think their clocks are set to plate tectonics, not to Greenwich mean time.

So.

To recap, and catch up.

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