Monday, August 22, 2016

Dad's Rose, Birds, and a Plate... oh, and Knitting Too

This rose has turned its face out so I don't have to stand on tiptoe to look at it and smell it.  Thanks, Dad.




 



I saw this Chickadee perched on top of the Hummingbird feeder the other day and had to take its picture when I realized that it was drinking out of the shallow pool of water on top meant to discourage ants from crawling down to the nectar.  That same day a male Downy Woodpecker stopped by for breakfast on the suet and to show off the red blaze on his head.












You know, I can't stop taking pictures of my supper.  This is Chicken with Roasted Cherry Sauce.  First you roast 3/4# of grapes for 10 minutes and set aside. You sprinkle a little Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper on chicken breasts and skillet fry them in a couple teaspoons of olive oil.  (I'm amazed at how little oil you really need to fry things.  Two teaspoons was plenty to brown enough boneless chicken for us to have two meals.)  Once the chicken is cooked and on a plate staying warm, you boil a cup of chicken broth and half a cup of red wine plus a couple chopped shallots until the liquid is reduced by half.  Then you stir in a teaspoon of soft butter mixed with a teaspoon of flour and stir it until it thickens just a little.  Finally you add the roasted cherries and a half-teaspoon of Herbes de Provence and let it reduce a bit more.  Oh my goodness, it was delicious.  For years I've been saying that I didn't like fruit and meat but I made up my mind last year to stop saying I don't like something and just give everything a chance again.  So far I'm a fan of fruit and meat, don't mind raspberries (never really did but I let Durwood have my share because he loves them so), and appreciate a little cilantro on things.  I'm not backing down on liver, though, and I won't be eating tarragon anytime soon.  That herb tastes metallic, like a mouth full of nickels, to me. 

I sat on the couch with ice on my ankle yesterday after we got home from Piggly Wiggly so I made lots of yarn-y progress for the day.  In the morning while I watched CBS Sunday Morning I finished one and crocheted two more Xmas stocking hexagons, now I have half of them done.  Woohoo!  While icing after shopping and with my foot elevated after supper I cast on and knitted on August Preemie Hat #4.  First I got smart and fetched up a box of dollar store sandwich bags with slider closures from downstairs, snipped one corner of each bag, and tucked each skein of this slippery and easily unrolled yarn into its own clear plastic home.  Now I don't have to keep untangling a trailing end from the yarn I'm using.  It's much less frustrating.  Blue and white stripes (okay, periwinkle and cream) make a cute hat, don't you think?




August 22--Mel Curtis, Handshake.  "We'll say it's a gentleman's agreement."  As soon as he said it Ed knew it was the wrong thing to say.  Sheila's hand froze in his and then she pulled it back.  "I think not," she said, "I'll have my assistant, Justin, draw up a contract.  We'll have our attorney go over it.  I'll ask Justin to send you a copy and you can do the same."  Ed felt his muscles tense at her tone of voice.  No woman was going to tell him how to do business.  He gave a curt nod, turned, and left her office.

I got up at 7 o'clock this morning and all I've done since then is go down to get the ribs we're having for supper so they can thaw out, lay out half of the chicken leg quarters we bought yesterday on a cookie sheet to prefreeze so Durwood can vacuum-seal them, eat breakfast while reading the paper, brush my teeth, make an appointment for a test for Durwood, and write this blog post.  Now it's 11 o'clock and I need to shower like the wind so I can meet a friend for lunch at noon.  That shouldn't have taken four hours (our newspaper's not that thick).  Where did the morning go?
--Barbara
(P.S. I lost another 3# last week for a total of 16.5# gone.  Yay, me!  And I am not deprived, not by a long shot.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

"I Went to the Animal Fair...

...the birds and the beasts were there,"  Visiting the County Fair was a great way to spend yesterday afternoon.  It wasn't so great initially.  See, I'd bought reduced price tickets from the newspaper and printed off the receipt, thinking those were the tickets, and didn't read the fine print that said I had to go pick up the REAL tickets at the newspaper building.  *head, slap* And of course I couldn't scroll back in my email far enough on my phone for the ticket guy to honor them.  So we ended up paying for entry.  I felt bad but got over it.  My knitting friend and I went in the afternoon for a couple hours that we spent tromping around the barns and exhibit building.  We started in the chicken area; I never imagined how many varieties of chickens people raise around here.  Some had feathered Afros, others had long feathered feet.  All of the roosters were vying for "loudest crowing" and one looked like it had stuck its beak into a light socket, its feathers were all standing up.  Next came the sheep, all sheared, and we were aghast to learn that they burn or throw away all the wool.  I asked a lady sitting there and she said that they raise Suffolk sheep and have been told that the wool is no good for spinning into yarn.  I just looked them up online and, while it says they're raised primarily for meat, they are also raised for their wool.  Those people need to do some research; selling the wool would give the 4-H kids another revenue source.

Next were pigs.  Pigs are big and the first one we saw was a gigantic sow with 9 piglets.  That pig was easily four feet from nose to tail and she had to be three feet tall--one formidable mama who didn't like it one bit when her owner dangled his legs into the pen.



After the pigs came goats.  These are New Zealand Pygmy goats (or something like that).  They were about as big as a Schnauzer, not a standard one, either.





Cows were in the next building.  There were a lot of cows and a lot of really big cows.  It wasn't until we'd walked up and down three aisles of cows that I realized that they were all tied to stanchions in the middle so that their back ends were aimed at the walkways (which were scrupulously clean, btw) so we walked a bit faster and paid more attention to the south ends of the north-facing bovines.


Then there were the bunnies.  All kinds, all colors, all shapes of bunnies.  These little guys were nestled in what looked like a grooming tray for the exhibitors to use to get their entries ready for judging.  This gray, fluffy bunny was so soft that when I petted it I couldn't really feel its fur.

The next barn held the horses.  I was looking forward to petting the horses but there was metal mesh over the tops of the stall doors so you could look but not touch.  A few of them looked almost too big for their stalls, and it turned out that they're part of a drill team.  It would have been fun to see them perform.  There was no tractor- or horse-pull.  No demolition derby either.



We wandered past the Bookmobile which KW remembered coming to her neighborhood when she was a kid and was my first post-college job, not on the same vehicle for either of us but seeing it brought back fond memories.

After much searching we found the building where the vegetables, woodworking, sewing, and KNITTING exhibits were.  There weren't many knitted or crocheted entries but we checked them all out, the few felted items too.  KW looked at all the names and she said that a lot of the entries were by the same few people and thought that we might suggest to the Knitting Guild that we knit to enter the fair, so we tracked down the lady in charge and she made copies of the categories, etc. for us to look over and present to the members.  It's only $4 to enter as many items as you want, granted the cash prizes are measly, but think how much fun it'd be to show off a fair ribbon on something you made.  Even if the Guild doesn't go for it, I'm sure she and I will play along next year.


I had made up my mind to have a funnel cake at the fair.  No cotton candy, no sno-cone, no popcorn, just a funnel cake, so we got one and split it.  I even put it on my food diary.  *feeling virtuous*  It was just as crunchy and sweet as I'd hoped, so totally worth the points.  By that time, my ankle was hurting.  It was the most I'd walked in one stretch since April so we called it a day.

August 21--Mel Curtis, Tyson with Daisies.  That dog stuck by the boy no matter what.  Shep lay on the church steps on Sunday mornings while Ty and Grandma Jean were at services.  Shep would have been in the pew right next to Ty but Pastor Macklin said he was allergic to dogs and didn't want to sneeze his way through sermons so the dog had to stay out.  The same for school.  Mrs. Ethnel said she wasn't willing to risk anyone having an asthma attack because there was a dog in school.  Shep was Ty's only family, aside from Grandma Jean, since Ty's mama and daddy died in that train wreck right after Ty turned two.

On the way to drop her off we stopped at the first LFL I put books into week before last.  I was surprised to see that all of my books were gone.  So I put in more.  I'm giving my feet a rest today, although I think Durwood and I are going to the Pig for some chicken they've got on sale later.  It seems I've always got someplace to go or something to do.
--Barbara

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sturgeon Moon

That's what I saw in the eastern sky driving home last night.  It's called the Sturgeon Moon by tribes around the Great Lakes and Green Corn Moon by others.  The clouds left just enough of a gap for me to hurry home and then dash into the backyard with my camera.  It's actually waning, past full by a day, maybe two, but it's full enough to make a picture and call it full.






I finished August Preemie Hat #3 last night at Friday Night Knitting, making two little antennae to top it off.  Then I cast on the August Seamen's Cowl.  I'm sure running late with my charity knitting this month, aren't I?  And I have to confess I am sorely tempted to jump in to Fringe Association's Top-Down Knitalong.  Karen has challenged knitters to use her FREE basic pattern (which is more tutorial than pattern) for a top-down sweater, Improv, and to just do it on the fly.  NOT without planning and swatching and measuring and making copious notes, though, with lots of prep and hand-holding from her updated tutorials.  I have a sweater quantity of  Cascade Ecological Wool in three shades of gray and red (of course I have red, what other color would I have?) which is bulky yarn which makes for faster progress.  I could measure my all time favorite sweater, knit a swatch, and go for it, right?  RIGHT?  What else have I got to do?  I'd just knit a plain crew-neck pullover, no fancy stitches, nothing but a sweater.  I am terrified and excited about the prospect of not having a pattern to follow line by line, but just measure, swatch, and go.  Kind of feels like jumping into the ocean in dive gear the first time.  (I might have just talked myself into something here...)







This morning while doing my yoga practice a tiny flutter caught my eye.  There was a little hummingbird perched on the hand of the sculpture hanging outside the patio door.  I grabbed the camera while it fluttered in front of the door, then it bumped the glass, and perched to collect itself on a tomato cage in the drizzle, kind of a resting shower.  It hung around a bit, checking out most of the feeders and it was even still hanging around when I was out filling all the feeders, dipping its beak into the honeysuckles and trying to figure out a way to access the grape jelly.  Durwood will be pleased as he's still convinced that we've "lost" them.











When I came in from filling the feeders a young chipmunk hopped up onto the step (the dreaded ankle-breaking step) to do its morning grooming.  They're so cute--and so annoying.

Didn't write last night so, see ya.
--Barbara

Friday, August 19, 2016

Two More Little Free Libraries! Plus Eggs!




These things are everywhere.  I mentioned to KW last night at Knitting Guild that I'd found 14 of them over the last week and she told me that there was one on the street behind her house and another one down a street perpendicular to the street in front of her house.  See?  There were lots of kids' books in the first one and I found a book about little lizards that I took for LC (because I've taken to calling her "Newt," it makes both of us smile), there were almost all adult books in the second one and it didn't look like an official LFL but it was right there and chock full of books.  I put in my couple volumes, took a picture, put it on Instagram, and left for the official library where a knitting book was waiting for me on Hold.

After that I went over to water DS's garden.  It's been very dry lately and they've been busy so I said I'd water it today in return for whatever eggs were there.  (I'd have done it without eggs too)  I took the bag of peels and ends and hulls for the chickens with me.  I love that they come clucking out when I open the gate.  "The Treats Lady is here!"  I turned the water on first thing but the sprinkler stayed still and dry so I went over to see if there was an On/Off switch.  There was a timer between the hose and the sprinkler and it wasn't watering time.  I saw a Manual setting and tried to turn the dial but it wouldn't budge.  Then I noticed a lever that I tried pushing in to unlock the dial and managed to squirt myself in the hair, forehead, and glasses--three times-before figuring out that I had to push the lever down, not in, then it turned just fine.  I took my dripping self over to the coop, dumped in the peels, etc., collected a couple eggs, and then went to sit on the patio to page through my library book--after drying my face and glasses on my shirt, of course.  Go ahead and laugh, I've been giggling at myself for an hour.  It was quite a shock, at least the first time, but it was refreshing too.  I swear, some days I'm like a one-woman Three Stooges.
 

The nasturtiums are... I should say the nasturtium (singular) is blooming nicely.





For the second day in a row I had to work at work yesterday so it wasn't until the very end of the day that I finished August Preemie Hat #2 and wove in the tails.  At Knitting Guild I cast on and knit a bit on #3--and forgot to take one picture of the group.  *sigh*  I didn't remember until I was taking my things out the car in the driveway and by then it was too late.

August 19--Mel Curtis, 3 Old Gentlemen.  Sacha saw them every day from her desk.  Three old men had staked their claim to a park bench in the shade.  She noticed them on the first warm Spring day and saw them every day after.  At first they were bundled up with thick padded coats and woolly knitted hats, looking like identical triplets, but as the season warmed they emerged as individuals.  They talked all the time and she thought they had been in the Army together or maybe they were friends from college days.  She couldn't have been more wrong.  At one time those three nice old men had been the most successful bank robbers in the state, and they'd never been caught.

Well, it rained this morning.  Thundered too.  Now it's just thick overcast but it's supposed to rain again tonight and most of tomorrow.  Naturally it's going to be a rainy weekend, the county fair is on.  I'm hoping to go see the exhibits on Sunday.  Who doesn't like to look at 4-H calves and pies and projects?  Maybe there'll be a tractor pull.
--Barbara

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Nobody Here But Us Tomatoes

(and that's pronounced "to-mah-toes," btw)  

I didn't knit a stitch yesterday, there's nothing blooming except some seriously scraggly purple coneflowers, and the interesting birds that stopped by did just that, stopped by and left because the jelly dish was empty.  They were a variety of oriole that I think are Orchard Orioles, but I'm not absolutely certain.  Aaaanyway, aside from the sky, all I have to show you are the rapidly ripening tamaters.

 
First comes Health Kick, the extra-Lycopene small, firm, plum-ish tomatoes.  They're great on sandwiches and in omelets, etc.


 


In the middle are the Bush tomatoes.  They're medium size and the slowest ripeners.  Haven't eaten one of those yet.




Last, but certainly not least, are the Celebrity tomatoes.  They're in the only black pot I have so they've suffered a bit of lack-of-water and heat stress which is why they're got that yellow-orange collar around the stem. (I looked it up)  They are also cracking good (can you tell I'm listening to an English period cozy?) on sandwiches and just eaten out of your hand, which is Durwood's preferred method.  That way there's nothing between him and nirvana.

August 18--Peter Brandt, Daniel's Ball.  The ball dwarfed his little hand but Daniel could keep it bouncing.  People smiled at the frown of concentration on his babyish face but he kept his eyes on the ball.  He wasn't coordinated enough to walk or run while he bounced it, that would come later.  For now, he was happy with the ringing thump of the red playground ball on the pavement.

The pace of my ankle tissues and tendons healing hasn't been as fast as I'd like and lately it's really been bugging the crap out of me to have my Achilles tendon hurt when I walk, plus I'm not liking wearing a compression stocking on my left calf to help control swelling but I'm wearing it.  Evidently I don't mind mismatched socks but abhor mismatched legs.  Yesterday, one of my many customers had on some lovely red shoes which reminded me that wearing red shoes has always lifted my spirits.  This morning I dug out my old orthotics that only go halfway from heel to toe (thereby not cramping my toes) which allows me to wear my red canvas hi-tops today.  Hooray for red shoes!
--Barbara

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Another Picture of My Plate

You're probably getting tired of seeing my plate but I'm having fun making delicious food out of the new WW cookbooks so I'm showing you the food.  Look away if you must.  Last night's offering was in the breakfast section but we have a surplus of eggs right now so a frittata seemed like a good idea.  Plus we'd bought turkey bacon and wanted to try it.  This is a Bacon & Veggie Frittata with Goat Cheese.  Very tasty.  The bacon isn't Nueske's, not by a long shot, but it's edible in a dish.  It looks like the bacon equivalent of fake crab--some pink and white meat paste formed into a strip with a bit of bacon-y flavor and a lot less salt.  (kind of like Bac'os without the blood pressure raising level of salt)  I adjusted the recipe for 2 servings and left out the potatoes, partly because we don't have any but mostly because I wanted toast with it--and then forgot to make toast.  Oh well, we'd started with a cob of corn so we had a "bread"-ish item.  As much as I'd rather not dedicate 5 of my 30 daily points to a cob of corn with a tiny bit of butter, as long as there's Sunny Hill Farms corn we're having it.  The fresh corn season is too short up here in Tundra-land (although it's been a very un-tundra-like summer; please take away the humidity; we'll keep the hot, just ditch the humid, pleeeeeeze) to not eat it while we can.  I treated myself to a Quick Cherry Crisp for dessert.  I am not suffering here.

I unpinned the Black Bean Shawl so I can take it along to show off at the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild meeting tomorrow evening.  It turned out almost exactly the way I envisioned it.  I probably could have blocked it more severely to make the lace open up more but it's a nice size for my shoulders and will be a good wrap for the autumn being 60/40 wool and cotton.  Plus it's black and black goes with everything.

After supper I buckled down and worked on August Preemie Hat #2.  I decided that it needed stripes and not just plain stripes either, which upon reflection seems like a lot of ends for such a tiny hat but look at it, isn't it just darling? Or it will be when I finish it later today.   I figure just because you're little and sick you don't have to have a boring hat.  I'll do the rest of the hat in the orange and maybe leave off the little i-cord and make a regular crown.  Time will tell.

I didn't refill the book box last night so I hope I don't see any Little Free Libraries on my way to work.  Oh, wait, there's one a couple blocks from the store.  Hmm, guess I'd better get cracking... holy crap, I just remembered that I have to make lunches.  Type faster, Barbara.

August 17--John Dittli, Badlands Hiker, Death Valley.  Hot didn't cover it.  Hal felt as if every molecule of moisture was being sucked out of his body.  Just as his tissues were being dessicated while he walked, his mind felt as if the blazing sun and shifting sands were peeling layers of his sanity away with every step he took.

Time to run.
--Barbara

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Found Another One

I went across town for an errand yesterday and happened upon another Little Free Library so I stopped and put the last 2 books in my box in there.  Now the box is empty.  I need to go grab more because I'm going to be out and about in a different part of town and there are sure to be LFLs to be stalked.  If you know of any in your neighborhood (and live in Green Bay, WI and its environs) please comment or email or private message on FB with the address so I can widen my scope.  Thanks.





Look at the clouds this morning.  If the grass hadn't been dewy I might have just laid down and watched the light and cloud show.
 




The birdies are up and about.  A bluejay made swift strikes at the suet and birdbath.  A chickadee actually held still long enough for me to take its picture.  A goldfinch posed.  There were three males, all in their glorious summer yellow and black, squabbling at the finch feeder.  This is the victor.






 
 
We read someplace that yellow bee guards on hummingbird feeders actually attract bees, etc. so I got some red tempera paint, dug out a couple paintbrushes and painted them.  Durwood made some new birdie juice and I hung out one with all red flower parts.  We think there are a few fewer bees and wasps around to chase away the hummingbirds.  We'll keep an eye on it.







Last night I finished August Preemie Hat #1 and cast on #2.  It's still hard to wrap my mind around the fact that there are babies born, babies that live, with heads small enough to fit in this hat.  It reminds me of a thimble.

August 16--John Dittli, Northwest Territories Canoe.  Mike listened to his breath.  They had been paddling up the narrow inlet for three hours.  Gabe sat in the bow of the canoe leaning forward with every stroke.  Neither of them had spoken for the last hour except to call out "shift" when one of them moved to paddle on the other side.  The longer they were out in the cold and damp the more ragged Mike's breath became and this morning he felt a pain grow on his right side.  Sun glinted off the snow caps of distant peaks and the blue-white of Andersen Glacier at the head of the inlet seemed to wink at them when clouds passed overhead.  Gabe didn't notice when Mike stopped paddling.  He didn't feel Mike slump forward and lose his grip on his paddle.

After spending an hour working on the Knitting Guild's library at a downtown church I roamed around the Astor neighborhood looking for Little Free Libraries.  I found six plus a couple of them I passed but need to park and walk to--and now I need to fill up the book box again.  I didn't totally empty it today but almost.  I am really enjoying this.  Can you tell?  This one has a little pile of firewood next to its chimney and flag.
--Barbara