This book tells us that one angora goat can produce the wool for two pairs of cashmere socks or half a sweater. It does not specify whether this is per year or what, but it may still be helpful to any spinner who is considering bringing up his or her own cashmere for sock knitting.

The book also has lots of helpful advice about shopping. I have done more shopping — and more riding on freeways — in the past week than in the previous year. #2 daughter actually enjoys it, and I am trying to emulate her in this. I do have principled objections to rampant consumerism, but my purchases have all been of the basic food and clothing variety (and #1 son’s birthday present), so I guess I am safe from that. We did not make it to the mall, but she will be here for another day and a half, so who knows what might happen?

We did not make it to the International Festival, either. The kids, who have after all spent their entire lives going en masse to various educational festivals, kindly but firmly let it be known that they would prefer to go out for ice cream and then go home and try on their new clothes.

The boys punked out on us, but #2 daughter and I went to the gym and tried out all the forklifts and threshers — um, I mean Hammer Strength weight machines. I had previously felt that weight training, while of course necessary for maintaining bone density, wasn’t really much like exercise. We treated it as the rest period between bouts on the cardio machines. I think we were doing it wrong. Some of those things actually get your heart rate up. I’ll probably continue to do circuit training, but I am looking forward to getting proficient with the yellow machines. I am afraid that today we looked kind of girly, scampering around with our 5 and 10 pound weights trying to help each other remember how the things worked.

I had randomly chosen to use 60 pounds with lower-body machines and 30 pounds with upper body machines (we figured out a few of each) back when I first started going to the gym, and had just been doing more and more reps. However, the nice man told me a) that you use different weights for different muscles, and b) you use the amount of weight that allows you to do 10-14 reps and then not to be able to do any more. I pass this along to any of you who might have the same dilemma. The trial-and-error bit added to the girliness of our gym outing today, because we kept going back and forth adding five and ten pounds at a time. But, hey, if we gave those guys something funny to write about at their blogs, it was a good deed.

There was sign over in that section that said, “If you aren’t man enough to put it away, don’t pick it up.” I think there would be a thriving market for signs like this to put in the bathrooms and kitchens of all households containing guys. I suggested this to the ladies on the way up to B-town for the Tennebrae service, and Sewanna responded with a great story about her ex-husband which I am not at liberty to pass along. She also took us, on the way back, to see the appalling statue in the poultry science building.

Now, the Tennebrae service is the most solemn service there is in the entire year, commemorating as it does the crucifixion of Jesus. We sang sad and touching songs and left the church in the dark, in silence. But on the drive back we got caught up in the wild tales of these two funny ladies again. We became so engrossed in our conversations that we missed the exit and had to go back through town. Sewanna said, “Since we went the wrong way, we will be passing right by the poultry science building!” She had told us about the statue, and we all agreed that this would be a splendid opportunity to view it.

This work of art depicts a family of chickens. (In case any city dwellers are reading this, I will mention that chickens do not actually live in nuclear family groups in nature.) The central piece is a tree stump with an axe thrust into it. The rooster is perched on the stump, right by the axe, while his little family disports itself on the ground around the stump. You cannot look at this piece without thinking of the axe’s being used to chop off the chickens’ heads. Since someone had added a couple of bright plastic Easter eggs to the tableau, it was particularly macabre. Maybe the poultry scientists consider it a happy contrast to the modern methods of killing chickens, romanticising their death just as it does their family life. I do not know. There were no poultry scientists there, since it was nighttime. The four of us stood at the plate glass windows admiring the statue for quite a while, though.

Today we have further errands, housework, and baking, but no singing. #2 daughter and I have a plan to make a project I saw in Better Homes and Gardens while at the gym: a necklace for a large flower pot. #2 son is off on another sleepover, but we may be able to rope #1 son in for some egg-coloring.