Friday, May 22, 2015

Can You Believe It's Memorial Day Weekend Already?

I'll sound too old if I complain about the rearrangement of holidays to give government employees 3-day weekends so I'll sound almost as old by saying that time sure flies these days.  When we were young and optimistic we'd go camping on Memorial Day weekend but it inevitably turned cold and most of the time it rained on us.  Rain is no fun in a tent.  It's not even fun in a pop-up camper, it sounds cool pattering on the roof, but it's just wet and sloppy.

This morning I was excited to see Mr. Oriole and then Mrs. Oriole at the feeder.  Naturally my camera was nowhere nearby, so no pix.  Durwood saw a Red-winged Blackbird at the birdbath--twice, and I had my phone on the table so, look, birdie!

See how pretty my loaf of bread baked up?  It's getting sliced right now (thank you, Durwood) and I'll be taking it along to knitting tonight to share.  I hope they like it but it won't go to waste.  I could probably eat a whole loaf in a day without even working at it.

May 22--Phil Banko, Stormy Window.  Being in the storm was like being in a slow motion movie.  The glass had broken with an almighty crash when the neighbor's tree fell.  One of the branches backhanded the window like an abusive spouse.  That let in the wind which picked up every piece of paper in sight and set it all levitating around the room.

I keep looking out the window.  The lawn mowers are supposed to be here today and I love watching someone mow my grass, someone that isn't me.  It's a gorgeous day out but someone said it's supposed to rain Sunday and Monday.  Isn't that just like Memorial Day weekend?  It's Friday Night Knitting tonight so I'd better go round up some knitting that I can do that I don't have to think about.  Too much talking goes on to take knitting I have to focus on.
--Barbara

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bread & Cloth

Last Friday at knitting we were talking about bread and salt and carbs because a couple of the knitters have diabetes and struggle with carbs and one of those knitters also needs to watch her salt (I do too but not as strictly).  They complained because commercial low-salt, low-fat bread "tastes like cardboard" so I told them about the bread I make that's low-salt and NO-fat, and said I'd make a loaf for them to try next Friday.  Well, next Friday is tomorrow so I've got to get on the stick.  I stirred the dough together yesterday morning and after my shower today I formed a loaf.  It's rising now while the oven preheats and as soon as I finish this sentence I'm going to go paint it with cornstarch wash, sprinkle on sesame seeds, slash it, and slide it into the oven for half an hour.  Oh, and throw a cup of hot water into the oven so it makes a good crust.  Be right back.  Pretty soon the house is going to smell great.  Mmm, there's nothing like the smell of baking bread--unless it's onions, peppers, and garlic sauteing, that's pretty fantastic too, don't you think?

Yesterday at work I drew out the pattern for the tepee I want to sew this weekend, or at least cut out, so I didn't knit much.  Last night while icing my ankle I finished knitting the Anzac Poppy Cloth for my veteran friend's Memorial Day gift.  Naturally I ran out of yarn 6 rows from the end so I went down to nab another skein of red dishcloth cotton.  Naturally it's not exactly the same color, probably a different brand, definitely more an orange red than the blue red of the original yarn.  I almost threw a colossal s--t hemorrhage about it but then I realized that it's a dishcloth/warshrag plus my friend won't mind the color change.  He's a knitter himself and understands these things.

There was a pair of male hummingbirds having a "dogfight" around the near feeder last night but there was no way I could get the camera up and ready fast enough.  No. Way.  But it was very cool to watch for the thirty seconds it went on.  One of these days maybe we'll get one of those motion sensor movie cameras so we can get them on tape... film... pixels, whatever.

May 21--Bart Gorin, Hourglass.  Lucy had loved to turn Papa's hourglass over when she was small.  She would watch the sand grains sift through the pinch in the glass and tumble into a pile in the bottom.  Papa told her that it was a way to mark time, like a clock, but much older.  From then on she watched for hourglasses in souvenir shops and tucked into game boxes in thrift stores.  People thought she collected games but it was really the timers she was after.  She had the rule of never paying more than two dollars for an hourglass unless it was an exceptionally beautiful one.  Her favorite was Papa's, of course, with its walnut frame and glass body with the continents etched on it.

And that's it for today.  The guy's coming to tune up the air conditioners for the season in a couple hours so I need to make sure that Durwood's up and decently attired, and I have to put a note on the renters' door that we'll be letting him in to do that.  I forgot last night  Have a great day and let's hope the temperature hits 65 today.  It's Memorial Day weekend, it's about time we got to stop worrying about nighttime frost.
--Barbara

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

And It Fits!

I spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening sewing up the side and underarm seams of the Red Marl sweater.  I sewed in some of the tails too, not all of them, but some.  I was too chicken to try it on last night but this morning I was feeling brave so I slipped it on over my jammies.  It fits!  Would you look at that?  I'd have laid even odds that it wouldn't fit, that it'd be too small or way too big or look stupid but it does none of those things.  Now, about that collar...  I still don't know but it's kind of too warm to wear now anyway so I've got a little time to ponder.

The lilies of the valley are blooming.  Yay!  And the ferns are unfurling.  I love the way they look curling up out of the thick lily leaves.  There's nothing like the fragrance of lilies of the valley.  Mmm, dreamy.
















Yesterday evening I managed, after much attempting and many empty frames, to snap a photo of a lady hummingbird sipping nectar and a gentleman downy woodpecker having a snack on the suet feeder.  Those birds, they're so zippy and their timing is just right so that as soon as I'm ready to push the button or even as I'm pushing the button off they go and I get a picture of an empty feeder, no bird in sight.  It's frustrating.

In weather news, we had frost warnings last night and when I got up there was ice on the birdbath.  It's May 20th, people, MAY 20th.  We truly live in the tundra.  I fully expect a polar bear to come lumbering down the street any day now.  Sheesh.

May 20--LaFavor/Parallel Productions, French Horn.  The muted glow of the single light touched the brass of the old horn making it look better than it was.  The finish had dulled over the years and time in a junior high band room had not been kind.  The horn had a good, true sound.  Years of abuse hadn't changed that.

Not an inspiring image after all.  I think I'll take a roll of paper to work today and draw off the tepee pattern so I can maybe cut it out tomorrow and sew on it on the weekend.  Or I'll sit and stare at the computer screen like a zombie.  Might be one of those days.
--Barbara

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sleeves On!

I got over my mad at the Red Marl sweater yesterday (kinda sorta) and sewed on the sleeves at work in the afternoon.  It didn't really take long and was rather satisfying even if the abomination of a collar flap thingy is still attached to the neck back.  I intend to sew up the sides today while icing my ankle (it still aches and is a lovely shade of black and blue), then I'll only have the collar to think about and finish.  Being that close to finishing I think I'll give myself permission to start something new.  A reward for good behavior, so to speak.  Or maybe an amuse-bouche before the final collar slog.  (that's a one-bite appetizer, a little something to tempt your tastebuds)

Birds!  I want to talk about seeing birds, two of them I don't have actual, eyewitness photos of but birds that I have been longing to see and finally saw.  First, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are back at the feeders.  (I took this picture)  There's a little teeny tiny female zipping in for a sip at both the near and far feeders throughout the day, one male, and another female or two making random fly-bys.  I haven't seen an oriole again but the level of nectar's down in their feeder too so I'll be whipping more up later.  

On my drive up to the last (boo hoo) Door County Shepherd's Market on Saturday I saw a Snowy Owl (yes! really!) perched on a sign in the median coming around Brussels.  I was sorely tempted to swing across on one of those police car turn-arounds and go back to snap a photo or ten but I was absolutely certain that I'd get a ticket if I did, so I have no proof that I saw one.  But I saw one. I think it was a male because I saw it from the back and it didn't have many stripes.  It's my first "owl in the wild" sighting and I'm so excited.  (this photo and the next one are from Wikipedia)

For years I have been considering planting a shrub that makes berries to attract Cedar Waxwings to the yard but don't really have a good spot visible from the patio doors so Durwood can keep watch for me.  Last night while supper was simmering I saw a flurry of wings in the top of the blooming apple tree, looked up, and at first I thought there was a flock of female cardinals but soon realized it was Cedar Waxwings feeding on the blossoms.  No way could I take a picture of them, the tree was white with flowers, the sky was white with clouds, they're gray green and were flitting around up in the tippy-top of the branches.  Take my word for it, they were there.  I looked them up in the bird book and it was definitely them.  I could see the little bandit stripe across their eyes.  

I haven't been able to snap a photo of the Mama and Papa Chickadees feeding the babies in the birdhouse, I've seen them coming back with bugs and worms but they're too quick for me to snap a photo and it's been too chilly to sit out there stalking them (yes, still, it's bleeping 45 right now supposed to rocked up to 53 today, grrr).  Durwood says that sparrows have nested in the birdhouse under the honeysuckle but I've only seen a pair of them cavorting on the dead branches, haven't seen them going in or out.


May 19--Andrew Child, Droplet Sequence.  The sound of the drip hitting the water standing in the bowl in the sink echoed down the hall and woke Kelly from a sound sleep.  She meant to move the bowl and put a dishcloth down to muffle the sound but she forgot.  She meant to get a washer to put into the faucet and silence the drip, drip, drip once and for all but she hadn't had time.  She lay there in the darkest hour of the night with the piercing sound of it drilling into her brain and thought about dollars going down the drain with every drop.

Don't you hate how things are magnified in the night?  I'm glad I sleep through most nights.  I rarely have trouble falling or staying asleep *knock wood*, and I'm really really glad.  I might get dressed today, oh, I have to get dressed because I have a tank to drop off.  Oh well, it's nearly noon, time to dress no matter what, right?
--Barbara

Monday, May 18, 2015

Locks Are...

Inquiring minds want to know about the locks I bought, what I'm going to do with them, and why they're not called yarn.  Well, this is where mohair comes from, kid mohair, these are the shearings from goats that grow the fiber that mohair is made from.  A few years ago fiber producers (goat ranchers?) started selling locks for people to spin on their own but knitters bought them and began incorporating them into their knitting as is.  That's what I plan to do with what I bought, and why they're not called yarn.  They're pre-yarn.

A couple years ago I bought a skein of handspun from Goat Hill Farm in Brussels and a couple ounces of coordinating, undyed locks, then I found a shawl pattern to knit with the yarn and started just knitting in a lock every once in a while.  I liked the way it looked but wasn't sure I'd have enough for the whole shawl.  That's why I called to find out if she'd have more at last weekend's market and (mostly) why I drove up on Saturday to meet her and buy what she had.  Now I have plenty to finish my shawl.

The dyed locks I bought on Saturday are for a secret (shh!) project, so far, so you'll just have to be patient, although I did give one green lock to a lady making hand-made paper at the market.  She took it apart into individual fibers and embedded it in a sheet with leaves and pine needles.  It looked pretty cool.  But I don't need another hobby.  No, I don't.  That's also why I resisted buying either of the looms in my price range that were for sale at the market.  No more hobbies.  *nods firmly*

I knitted a bit on the Anzac Poppy dishcloth at knitting the other night because I was so frustrated that the Red Marl collar was a bust and I knitted a bit on that Jane's Locks shawl yesterday while icing my ankle.  I think I'll take the Red Marl sweater parts to work today and sew them all together so that the only remaining part to finish is the collar.  That way it'll be all done except for the collar while I'm working out in my head how I'm going to do that so it doesn't look like the dog's dinner. 

May 18--Jack McConnell, Choosing Good Health.  Feeling like Eve in the Garden of Eden had long passed for Rebecca.  She had come to the orchard with her friend and neighbor, Maggie, to pick some apples to make applesauce to put up for winter.  It had started as a sunny, crisp autumn day but the wind had risen to blow out of the north and clouds had rolled in to blot out the warming rays of the sun.  She moved her ladder to the next tree and said, "This is the last one.  I'm getting cold, aren't you?"  Maggie just grunted as she carefully put a double-handful of apples into her bucket.  Rebecca climbed up the ladder and reached for an apple only to find herself face to face with a man hanging upside down from a higher branch, his mouth stuffed with an apple.  She screamed, and it took a while for her to stop screaming.

Well, that's a nice, grisly way to start the week.  I have some tanks to drop off for service so I'd better saddle up and giddy-up outta here.  Talk to you tomorrow.
--Barbara

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Off to the Last Shepherd's Market



That's right, I said "Last."  There was a sign on the door announcing the 21st Annual (and Last) Door County Shepherd's Market.  *sigh*  I'll admit that I haven't gone every year but I like the idea that the vendors live within about an hour's drive of my house and me buying something makes a difference in their lives.  I went there to meet Judy who raises mohair goats looking for more of the same color locks I bought from her a couple years ago for a shawl I have OTN because I'm determined to clean up my UFOs and I wasn't sure I had enough.  I'd kept her card in the bag with the yarn and locks and called her on Friday to discover she's no longer vending but she said she'd be up there selling raffle tickets yesterday and she'd bring the locks she had left and was willing to sell.  We talked about the color I was looking for and I told Durwood I was driving away for an afternoon in Door County.  I got there just after noon and it wasn't very busy--far fewer cars and fewer vendors--but the wares were just as appealing and irresistible.



My first stop was at the desk where Judy was selling raffle tickets, she had locks that matched well enough so we struck a deal.  Well, I paid what she asked, so that worked.  Then I wandered around "just to look" because it's polite to look around when people are selling stuff they'd made.  I found more things to buy.  Of course, I did.  After swearing that I don't like dyed locks, I bought a 3 oz. bag of them for nine bucks.  They're a little matted together but I have an idea about how to use them in a project.  Then on a bottom shelf of a rack in the same booth was this huge skein (495 yards) of fingering weight undyed wool for less than $22 from a variety of sheep called Jacob ( I thought the sheep's name was Jacob but it's a kind of sheep) and right next to it was this 150 yard skein of DK Romney for under ten bucks.  I had to buy them.  I'm thinking I'll put all three of those items together to make something interesting for next year's Design-A-Thon, and maybe I'll even get on it right now so that I'm not scrambling around like a crazed weasel right before the due date.

In other news my ankle is feeling a lot better much faster than I thought it would and I owe it all to Durwood's brilliant Ace bandage wrapping skills.  My advice?  Marry an Eagle Scout.  He can save your bacon a bazillion times over the years, and even cook it too.  And he's so darned cute.  It's a win-win.  I recommend it.

May 17--Ron Sanford & Mike Agliolo, Flat Maps and Globes.  "I miss maps," Therese said fiddling on the touch screen of her phone.  "I was sure I programmed in the route last night."  She frowned at the screen, then swiped her finger across it to start again.  "Does that phone have Siri?" Len asked.  She shook her head.  "Nope.  This is a Windows phone, it has someone called Cortana and I'm not at all sure how she works."  She looked out the window at the desolate landscape.  "Can't we just stop somewhere to ask directions?"  "Sure we can," he said waving at the windshield, "any one of these rocks or trees should be able to help."  She went back to poking at her phone's screen.  It was going to be a long day.

I'm excited.  DS is taking me to lunch today as my Mother's Day gift and we're going to Kroll's.  That may or may not be the best idea since the PA of the Cellcom Marathon kickoff at Lambeau Field woke me at 6:30 this morning and Kroll's is right across the road from where the race starts and ends.  We might have to change venues but maybe most of the people will have run and gone home by then.  Maybe.  Or maybe we can just creep up on the restaurant from the back.  It pays to know your town and be well-versed in avoiding Packer game traffic.  I'll report.  There may be a photo of a Kroll's burger tomorrow.
--Barbara

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Foggy Day


It's foggy today.  Not "down to the ground London" fog, just no wind and higher humidity fog.  I don't mind.  It's not raining although it may later.  It's not cold, but it isn't hot either, it's warm-ish.  My ankle feels better today.  Good enough that I was able to go downstairs to dig out the oriole nectar feeder, make some birdie juice, and hang the feeder out this morning because when I was at knitting last night Durwood took pictures of a lady oriole trying to sip from the hummingbird feeder.

Since it's foggy and nothing new is blooming I took more apple blossom pictures but this time I didn't slide down the hill.  I was wearing real shoes instead of slippers.  *pats self on back*

Instead of going to the grocery yesterday I sat on the couch with my foot up and an ice pack, and finished the Red Marl sweater collar, sewed it into the neckline, tried it on, and IT LOOKED HORRIBLE--and unredeemable.  So I unsewed it. I'm going to frog the collar and make a plain old narrow ribbed neckline by picking up stitches and decreasing so it lays flat.  For an insane moment I considered just frogging the whole sweater so I could enjoy nine balls of pretty red yarn, but I settled down, consulted with the Friday Knitters, and got some tips about how to make it wearable.  I'll take a day or two to recover and dive back in.

May 16--Garry Geer, Fruit Bowl.  The pear looked like it was melting into the pottery bowl.  The skin of the fruit had the same brown freckles as the bowl and the cloud of fruit flies told Sasha that she wouldn't be having a pear for lunch after all.  She ran her finger over the golden green pear and thought how sickly a room painted that color would look.  There had been a dress that color on the clearance rack in one of the shops and she was certain no one would buy it no matter how low it was marked.

And now I'm going to saddle up Beverly and trot on up to Egg Harbor to the Door County Shepherd's Market to see about buying some locks.  It's too complicated to tell about now, I'll lay it all out tomorrow. Love ya.
--Barbara