Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hot Morning, Stifling Day.

When I went outside this morning early it was still so hot and muggy I had the wet heating pad feeling all over my body and my glasses and the camera lens fogged immediately in protest for being removed from the ease of the air conditioned house to the near-boiling water in the air.  Or at least that's how hot the air felt on my tender flesh.  But the garden and the flowers are liking the heat.  I think we're supposed to have some rain overnight which will do nothing to cool us down or dry us out but we could use a little rain.

The straw bale garden looks gorgeous.  There are some nice tomatoes on the Early Girl bush.

I'm happy to report that the sweet potato plant has finally decided to grow


while the red-skinned potato plant is growing tall.

Lots of day lilies were opening to greet the sun and more zinnia buds are about ready to open.

Durwood's brother and his wife came to visit today.  We girls went out for lunch sandwiches for the boys, delivered them, and then went off to the Grapevine Cafe for a decidedly girly lunch.  She had chicken salad and I had a turkey sandwich but our food was so good that we both were too stuffed to eat much supper beyond a salad.  That's okay.  It was terrific to have them here even for such a short time.


After supper I managed to add a few rounds to the foot of the Blues Anklet.  A couple more inches of foot and it'll be time to toe.

Didn't write the prompt last night.  I was too tired from the heat and trying to keep up with a tiny nuclear reactor all day.  I'll write tonight, I promise.  Stay cool.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Even Less

It was so hot and so humid today that OJ didn't want to stay outside to play this afternoon--and that's totally unlike him.  I didn't cook, didn't garden (except for tying up a couple tomato plants), almost didn't go to Friday Night Knitting because it's just too bloody hot to cross the threshold from air conditioning to "fresh" air.  But I did go to FNK and I finished the left front of my Montparnasse Eco Cardi.  The right front is next.  Maybe I'll get this sweater done by the end of August for Fringe Association's Summer of Basics challenge after all.

June 29--Franz Xavier Winterhalter, Empress Eugenie Surrounded by her Ladies-in-Waiting.  The circle of women looked like a bouquet of flowers but they sounded like a flock of chickens.  Peter stood at the entrance to the garden enjoying the view down to the river when the peace was shattered by a sudden cackling.  He edged toward the sound, staying in the shadows, and soon saw his cousin Jeanne with a bunch of her school friends.  They were all dressed for a garden party in colorful summer dresses.  He knew that they would soon be headed his way and he planned to be long gone before they corralled him.

And that's it.  I had another guy come look at the rental side's window wells to give me an estimate on fixing them so they don't leak into the basement anymore.  I suspect that this one will be the middle bid and we'll probably go with him.  I remembered to say the magic words as he was leaving, "we'll pay cash."  Get's 'em every time.

P.S. The chili powder on the seeds in the feeder didn't deter the chipmunks one bit. Grrr.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Another One of Those Days

...that sucked me up in the morning and spit me out in the late afternoon and all I had to show for it was a cauliflower ear from being on the phone so much and the feeling that I'd run a couple 10k races.

This morning the day lilies started blooming--and you can see some milkweed in there too so the Monarch Butterflies should come around again.

Speaking of critters coming around, what haven't come around are hummingbirds.  I keep refreshing the birdie juice in the feeder and Durwood keeps an eye out for them.  He was sure he saw one zoom by, take a sip, and dart away this afternoon but I didn't see it even though I turned as soon as he said, "hummingbird!"  *sigh*

Durwood's brother and his wife are coming for a short visit this weekend and I promised my sister-in-law that I'd make some of my WW roasted red pepper hummus for them.  I did that after supper, now all I have to do is buy a bag or two of pita chips and some baby carrots or something.  Yeah, baby carrots, we're almost out of those anyway.

I didn't take a picture of supper but it was a good one.  First, an ear of corn on the cob for each of us, his with butter, mine without.  (surprisingly it's really good all by itself.  I can't wait until Sunny Hill Farms corn is available)  For the main course we had broiled sesame-lime swordfish and fresh green beans.  For dessert Durwood had chocolate pudding and I had chocolate ice cream.  Yum.  Sorry I didn't take pictures but I was too hungry.

June 28--Robert Cozad Henri, Boy and Rainbow.  The storm had been fierce.  Rain fell like arrows drilling into the soil, lightning forged jagged trails between iron gray clouds and the ground, and thunder rumbled nonstop.  Caleb sheltered in McCoy's tumbledown shed at the edge of the pasture.  His dog, Rags, flattened herself on the dirt floor and tried to disappear.  Once the storm moved away the rain slacked off, dragged east by the clouds, and Caleb watched for the sun to emerge.  The first shafts of sunlight threw rainbows over the farm.  He wished he could find the end of the rainbow where there was supposed to be a pot of gold.  He didn't really believe in it but he'd like to check it out.

Hopefully I'll have something more to show you tomorrow than some incipient flowers and a Tupperware of hummus.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Flowers That Bloom in June

Dad's roses are blooming with abandon right now.  There are clusters of buds and flowers on the end of each cane... well, except for the one that the %#$&! chipmunk gnawed off.  This is a time that I wish we had smell-o-vision because these roses smell like heaven.  Actually they smell like Grandma Angermeier's garden did when I was a little girl.  She didn't have a pretty, decorative rose garden, she had two loooooong rows of rose bushes along the edge of the field right next to the house, all colors, all types, and she knew every one by name.  Her favorite was the Mr. Lincoln which was a deep red rose much like Dad's rose but I know for a fact that this isn't a Mr. Lincoln.  I don't know which one it is but I do know what it isn't.  Oh, and speaking of the chipmunk, I put seeds in the platform feeder this evening and the little devil can shinny up the crook, even with a Slinky on the pole, so I liberally sprinkled chili powder over the seeds.  It won't bother the birds but it should wreak havoc with the chipmunks.  I hope.

These are the last of the yellow Asiatic lilies for the year.  There are no more buds to open and the bunnies have nibbled up the leaves to just under the flowers.


I was excited to see that the first zinnia bloomed today.  It's tiny, maybe the size of a half-dollar, and I think it looks great towering over the mass of white petunias it shares a planter with.


More red day lilies to come.  One seems to open every day.

Today was a knitting day.  I added quite a few rows to the left front of my cardi--after counting stitches and rows and engaging in some arithmetic to figure out the best plan to decrease to the correct number of stitches in the correct number of rows.  I think I've got it.  I do like knitting that decreases rather than increases, it's just so satisfying when progress speeds up.

June 27--Royal Crown Derby, Vase.  Clarissa stood at the table dusting the ornate vase that she always thought looked like a genie should live in it.  Every week she rubbed the vase with a soft cotton cloth and while she did she murmured her three wishes--that Mama would make someone else dust all this stuff, that her pimples would go away, and that her sister Hildy would stop hogging all the cute boys at choir practice.  She didn't think that was too much to ask.

I wore my new fish dress today.  I like it.  I look good in it.  It's probably too scratchy to wear without a shirt underneath it but I suspect that I'll be wearing it and washing it enough that it'll soften up over time.

I see that I'm getting better at getting this blog written before the witching hour.  Good for me and good for getting enough sleep.  Pleasant dreams, dudes and dudettes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

I Gave In To Temptation

I have very little to report today.  Most of my time was taken up with calling around to schedule estimates to get the leaking window wells of the rental side of the duplex repaired.  

Then I went downstairs to sew.  Look what I made--a red fishy Dress no. 1.  The fabric is outdoor fabric so it's pretty stiff which means it'll stand out instead of drape so I'll look a bit like an escapee from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta but I don't really care.  Can you imagine how good I'm going to feel in this bright red dress?  I know I'll be smiling all the while.

This little plant is called penstemon.  I bought it last year and planted it in the row of blueberry bushes.  The bunnies didn't eat it down to the ground and according to the tag butterflies and hummingbirds like it.  It's kind of out of my sight line but I like its flowers and the purple green color of its leaves.

June 26--Amadeo Modigliani, Jeanne Herbuturne Wearing a Hat.  Her ice blue eyes stared at the rain.  She didn't blink; she was beyond blinking.  She didn't try to shelter from the rain; she was beyond that too.  Martin Ellsworth stared down at the young woman lying in a field behind the warehouse district.  He thought that her night had started with eagerness and gaiety but it ended here in the cold rain and litter.  Martin hated seeing people discarded like empty candy wrappers, carelessly tossed aside like they didn't matter.  That was what kept him on the force, kept him out hunting the people who held life in such low regard.

Those words came fast and with very little effort.  It's very satisfying when that happens.  Look, I'm might get to bed at a decent hour tonight.  Wish me luck.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Eastern Comma


That's what kind of butterfly stopped at the birdbath yesterday.  I told you that I thought I had a butterfly ID book downstairs and I did, so I paged through until I found one that looked something like our visitor.  I also searched for butterfly ID sites online and found one that let me pick the main color of the butterfly and there my initial identification was confirmed.  It's an Eastern Comma, which I have never heard of.  Have you?


The red-skinned potato plants are growing by leaps and bounds.  The sweet potato, not so much.  I think it has only grown one more leaf but I'm afraid that the chipmunks might be nibbling on it.  Only time will tell.


This woodpecker has been visiting the suet on a regular basis, so regular that OJ has learned to recognize a woodpecker having a suet snack.  He's very smart.  Just ask me.  I'm completely objective about both my grandchildren.

I've been adding rows to the Montparnasse Eco Cardi left front and I'm liking the gentle angle of the decreases but my gut tells me that it's not quite steep enough so I think I'll figure out a way to ramp it up.  Let's see... 50 stitches decreased to 12 stitches=38 stitches.  80 rows divided by 38 stitches = 2.1... so I need to decrease one stitch every 2.1 rows.  Hm, that seems problematic.  I foresee more stitch counting and math in my future.

I went out to look at the garden just before dark and saw the moon hovering over the house.  I haven't taken a sky picture in a long time so I thought it was time we had one.  Just for old times' sake.

June 25--Paul Cezanne, Apples and Biscuits.  Paula smelled the apples when she opened the door.  Mabel turned from the stove, her forehead glistening and wisps of hair sticking out.  "Help," Mabel said, "can you get those jars into the hot water for me?  This batch wants to stick."  Paula dropped her purse on the sideboard and hurried to put as many jars into the sink of hot water that she could.  Two hours later both of them sat sprawled in chairs, glasses of iced tea at hand, looking at the rows of gleaming jars of pale pink applesauce.  "It's a pretty color," Paula said.  Mabel took a big gulp of tea, put down her glass, and said, "I hate peeling apples."

I can't think of any clever way to wrap this up.  Oh, I did want to say that I've lost 33# since the middle of November and I bought a pair of knit pants at T J Maxx last week that are three sizes smaller than I've bought in the past.  Granted they're pajama pants so they're roomier but still--yay, me!  I bought them thinking I'd use the knit fabric to make leggings but I might just keep them the way they are AND wear the size tag on the outside.  Not really but it's tempting.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Lazy Sunday

I didn't accomplish much today--and we all know that my days aren't complete without a
laundry list of finished chores or things made.  Part of me feels like that makes today a failure day but another part of me (probably the more mature part of me) thinks that makes today a relaxing day.  I spent a bunch of time downstairs ironing the facings on a quartet of Hawaiian shirts I made Durwood years ago and then stitching them down, since over the years the interfacing hasn't aged well so they're hard to button since the facings are all crumpled.  Then I unearthed a few scraps of that turquoise fabric I made a tunic out of and fashioned some inserts to make the neckline a bit narrower to cover my bra straps.  They're not perfect, one of them needs a little tuck at the shoulder to take out some excess but it'll do

Dad's roses are putting on their summer show.  There are lots of buds on the canes and this clump of blossoms lured me out in the early morning to admire and sniff them.  Remember how roses used to smell?  These still do, the fragrance wasn't hybridized out of them.


Right next to the roses the four pots of coleus are looking beautiful too.  I'm a big fan of the lime green one and the pink and green one too.  As long as I pinch off the flowers they bush out and don't get too leggy and tall.  They're a great plant for the south side and they tolerate my brand of neglect well.


There's a baby tomato on the bush Early Girl plant.  Woohoo!


And the bales are composting.  See the mushrooms?

June 24--Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life:  Youth.  "It's an allegory," Rita said looking at the painting.  "What's an allegory?" Eddy asked.  "Looks like an old painting of an angel, a kid in a boat on a river, and a castle in the sky."  Rita nodded.  "It's that on the surface but the angel could mean birth, the boat on the river could be childhood, and that castle in the sky might represent the future."  Eddie's mouth turned down in a frown.  "Why can't anyone just paint a picture?  All this thinking makes me tired."

I noticed what looked like a leaf in the birdbath this afternoon, then it moved again and I realized it was a butterfly.  Soon it moved and opened its wings.  Isn't it pretty?  I don't know what kind it is.  I think I have a butterfly book downstairs; I'll have to look it up.  Tomorrow.  'Night.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

I Made Sewing Today

I had some sheets to wash today, two loads' worth, so I used the time in the basement to sew up the hybrid Shirt no. 1 & Dress no. 1 fish dress.  I think I like it.  It needs a good wash and dose of fabric softener because it still smells like being stuffed in a bin for the last 10 years or so.  It's been an age since I've had or made something that's as lightweight and swirly as this stuff, it feels silky but I'm absolutely certain that it's polyester.  It's an interesting mash-up of two patterns, not sure if I'd do the side-seam pockets again (they feel a little low) but I'm proud of my daring putting two patterns together on the fly and having something wearable in the end.

The spiderwort looked especially pretty this morning in with all of the green daisy leaves around it.


The carrots are going great guns but I think the chipmunks are harvesting the infant bell peppers as soon as they reach pea-size.  Grr.

As the Master Gardener I spoke with at the University Extension office last month predicted, the blueberries are coming back.  They won't make berries this year but the rabbits didn't kill them by nibbling the branches all the way back to the ground.

After supper I about doubled the rows on the left front and am much happier with the gentle
angle the left side is taking.  This is 21 rows on the way to 80 or more (depends on how long that is) (and halfway to where I was when I ripped it all out last night) and over those 80 rows I need to decrease one stitch every third row for a total of 38 stitches decreased (50 stitches down to 12).  When I get closer to the length I want I can decrease every other row if need be and it won't look too odd.  I hope.

I found a package of chicken thighs in the clearance bunker at Festival Foods the other day so I fired up the Weber and cooked them for supper and supper and supper.  (there were 6)  Man, there's nothing like chicken on the grill, is there?  Even if you don't eat the skin, which we don't.

Didn't write last night, it was too late when I finally got to bed.  Time to wrap this up and hit the sack so I have a few minutes to crank out some words by hand before sliding into dreamland.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Back It Up

Well, I hauled out my cardi left front at Friday Night Knitting to consult on whether my impulse to rip it out and start over made sense to LB, who just knitted a sweater for her son--without a pattern.  She was able to explain how she figured out the raglan sleeve decreases that made sense to me as it pertained to the angle the front needed to be.  See the band of yarn going in the opposite direction on the ball/cake?  That's all the yarn that used to be the first half of the left front and that piddly few rows OTN are my second run at it.  I'm decreasing every third row instead of every second, that should make the angle gentler.  Fingers crossed.

My red day lily bloomed!  It used to live down by the light pole in the corner of the lot but when the pole fell on Easter Sunday last year I managed to save it from being trampled or tossed out by the linemen (not that I'd blame them if they did, who'd want to deal with a fallen power pole on Easter?) and planted it in front of the house.  It's such a pretty color with its dark rusty red and yellow petals.

The lantana is very happy in its new pot hanging from the crook outside the kitchen window.  I love love love the colors of the flowers.

This is about the last of the bleeding heart flowers.  For the rest of the summer they'll be just a big clump of leaves but they're green and the flowers are so pretty while they last that I forgive them for being so fleeting.  Plenty of my other flowers are fleeting-er, I forgive them too.

I noticed these red and black bugs all over against the house on the renter's side the other day when I went over to uproot some thistles and today I saw them on our side.  I just looked them up and the Friday Night Knitters that told me they're Box Elder Bugs were right.  Now I just need to figure out if they're something I need to be worried about or if I can just let them go about their buggy business in peace.

I finally managed to get over to DS's house to meet the new grandchickens, they're the darker colored ones.  Two of the previous trio were dispatched by a possum so the flock was down to one lonely chicken, LC Jr.  DIL1 found these on Craigslist and DS went to get them a couple weeks ago.  LC named them this week.  They are Bokkers, Henita, and Cluckers.  I don't know which is which yet but I think she has a gift for naming, don't you?

June 22--Jean-Etienne Liotard, Portrait of Marie Fargues, wife of the artist, in Turkish Costume.  Marie tucked her left leg under her as she sat down on the daybed.  It had been a long morning.  Jean-Etienne had her posed in the most uncomfortable way and then demanded that she hold the pose for over an hour.  He had frowned and mumbled as he painted, throwing down brush after brush, before finally flinging the canvas out the window into the courtyard.  As she sat relaxing he strode back into the room, looked at her and said, "That's it.  Don't move."  Marie sighed but held still.

I know I'm up late again but we don't quit knitting until 9 o'clock and then I went to Walmart for a few things on my way home so I didn't get here to the laptop until after 10 o'clock.  These blog posts don't just fall trippingly from my fingers either.  Some days I really have to work to find things to say.  Okay, not very often because I'm convinced that every word that falls from my fingertips is a pearl.  And with that great egotistical pronouncement, I'll say goodnight.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Little Sock-ing, A Little Front-ing

This was a busy day, appointment in the morning and visitors in the afternoon and early evening, so all I got to was knitting on the sock foot and the Montparnasse Eco Cardi front.  The garden got a quick look over but nothing noteworthy or new to report.

Here's the sock.  I'm about a third of the way to the toe, I had a lot of time to work on it this afternoon.  The colors aren't true in the photos, actually the yarn is purple, teal, and lilac, but since it looks like shades of blue in the pictures I named it Blues.

This is the left front of the cardi halfway knitted.  I'm concerned that the angle is too severe and will peter out before the piece gets as long as it's supposed to.  I'll take it with me to knitting tomorrow night to get LB's input.  She has a good head for figuring out stuff like that.  I may end up ripping this out and starting over decreasing every third row instead of every other one to make the angle more gentle.  I'm afraid if I continue this way there'll be a too-long straight strip up to the shoulder.  All this thinking and math--who knew that knitting required math?

June 21--Serge Gladky, Design from Nouvelles Compositions Decoratives.  They followed the realtor into the house and stopped, stunned into silence.  The great room with its soaring windows and cathedral ceiling was covered in the most god-awful wallpaper right up to the peak.  The background was a medium peach color overprinted with black, gray, and gold shapes.  Jean thought it was the perfect wallpaper for a torture chamber.  They walked through the rest of the house but both she and Charlie kept being drawn into the great room to gape at the wallpaper covered walls.  Finally Charlie broke the silence.  "Why?"

And that's that for me today.  I got myself into bed early last night and intend to do the same tonight.  You have a good night and a great tomorrow.  I think I'll take someone small to a playground if I can manage it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Little Garden, A Little Yarn

I've never bought a tuberous begonia before but always admired the ones our across the street neighbor on Liberty St. planted under his living room window so when Stein's had a coupon for one for about three bucks I got one.  Remembering that Mr. Brand had his on the north side of his house I potted this one up and set it on the old park bench that faces northeast and it likes it there.  See?

The "thank you for the tomato cages" tomato plant is growing like a weed.  It's got a bunch of little green tomatoes on it too.


I got up way too early this morning and couldn't go back to sleep, couldn't even manage a nap, so I sat on the couch for most of the day and turned the heel and knitted the gusset of the Blues Anklet.  Now I get to knit around and around and around for about 8" until it's time to toe.  I'm so glad I decided to make an Eye of Partridge heel flap because doing that wove the variegated colors together in a very interesting way.

June 20--Edward Henry Potthast, Brighton Beach.  The water was cold, washed onto the sand after a trip around Iceland and borne on the north wind to the shore.  Still the children played tag with the waves, built sand castles, and swam in the shallows until their mothers called them, blue-lipped and shivering, out to be bundled into thick towels and get the heat rubbed back into them.  Wicker baskets held cheese and bologna sandwiches, celery filled with peanut butter and raisins, and chocolate chip cookies as big as saucers for dessert.  After lunch the mothers settled the children in the shade of beach umbrellas to rest for an hour because everyone knows if you swim right after eating you'll get a cramp and drown.

Now there's an old wives' tale that I bet will never die.  I swear I'm going to be in bed long before 10 o'clock, I'm that tired.  Hasta la vista, babies.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

If You Knit It...

... it grows.  Yeah, yeah, I know I said that I was going to be monogamous with this
Montparnasse Eco Cardi but I got lured into casting on that Blues Anklet the other night and then knitted the heel flap last night, but today when I got my chores done I plonked myself down on the couch, picked up the left front of the cardi and got knitting.  The great thing about this piece is that on every right side row you decrease one stitch.  That's what makes the nice even slant on the left side.  Unlike the sleeves which get wider by two stitches every four rows so the rows get longer and longer, these get shorter and shorter.  I like rows that get shorter.  The first time I made a triangular shawl I dug around until I found a crochet pattern that started with the long edge and decreased down to the point.  In my book shrinking is preferable to expanding--at least in yarn circles.

A gray bird has been visiting lately and I finally got a (blurry) picture of it this afternoon.  It's a gray catbird so called because one of its calls sounds like a cat's meow.  No, really.  And I swear that I caught sight of a hummingbird that whizzed to the nectar feeder, didn't really stop, and then zoomed off toward the honeysuckle but when I got up to see if it was buzzing around the flowers I didn't see it.

I planted pots of red, tubular flowers for them.  These on the old park bench in the corner are looking especially alluring, I think.  (And the mints that I pulled out of the garden edge to make room for herbs seem to like it just fine here.  Hopefully the mint will thrive, spread, and make like ground cover.) The rectangular planters on the edge of the patio are filling up with zinnias which the seed packet said that hummingbirds like although there're no flowers yet, and the pots on the other side of the patio by the fountain are all red and white and tubular too.  Hummingbirds, where are you?

I planted some snapdragons this year too and look at the color of this plant--deep red-violet with yellow.  Pretty.


The garden is growing well.  Look how tall the red-skinned potato plants are,

the butternut squash has gotten long enough for me to weave the end of the vine into the fence,


and the scallions and carrots are doing just fine.  Not as many scallion seeds germinated as I'd hoped but there are some so I'm happy.  The cherry tomato plant has some tiny tomatoes and the other plants have blossoms on them so Durwood should have some tomatoes in maybe a month and OJ will have tomatoes to pick for Baba.  He's looking forward to it.

June 19--Japan, Late 19th Century, Mail Runner or Postman with Irizumi Tattooing.  The substitute mailman had the whole town's tongues wagging.  He was tall, dark, and silent which wasn't a problem.  People in Streamwood were used to quiet people, especially men.  The mailman wore the summer uniform of shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.  It was the parts of him that showed below the shirt sleeves and the shorts that got the town talking.  He had tattoos.  Not just an anchor like Ed Wayne who'd been in the navy in WWII, not a heart with "Mom" across it on a ribbon like Marcus Greeley who everyone agreed had "mother issues" but tattoos that covered him like clothing.  "How long did something like that take?" people wondered aloud.  A few of them asked, "How much did it cost?" but no one had the nerve to ask.

Look at me, getting this blog post typed by 9 o'clock.  I guess getting over 9 hours of sleep last night was a good thing.  It probably helped that I didn't run myself ragged today either.  Maybe I'm turning into a grown-up after all.  Nah, probably not, probably just an aberration.