Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Road

The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began...

unless, of course, the excavator has removed the road. 

Things seem to be moving along nicely.  The house and I are still here, although I idly wondered about the likelihood of that changing when the excavator was digging a trench around the natural gas pipeline.  'Around' as in the pipeline ran crossways to the trench and was nicely exposed.  The workers were definitely careful!  The trench is now filled, and the location is marked by our new fire hydrant.  
Sunday parking ... not the usual cars from church
Morning wake up call - 7 AM
TWO fire hydrants

A picturesque corner

All this work would be perfect if Filia and Filius were back around 4 years old, and they could sit in the window all day and watch the Big Machines.  And, knowing our town, they could probably get a ride in the equipment, too.  But they have grown, and have fled departed the nest, and are coping with a modified first day of college classes.  Poor Filia ... after four years of unmodified first days, the college goes and throws a modified one at her.  Filius has only had two years in which to accustom himself to normal first days, but at least he got a mailing about what to expect as a 'new' student. 

Today is my first day 'at home'.  Ahhhh.  Yesterday ought to have been, but I heeded the cry for "My Desktop Computer, Please!?!" and ran it up to college in the morning.  Today I processed some tomatoes.  Four pints of crock pot salsa, and a yet-to-be-determined amount of spaghetti sauce.  It's cooking down on the stove now, and smells delicious. 

The apricots are DONE wreaking fermenting havoc on the yard, although I hope to sit outside and play 'pick the pit' so there are less trees to pull come spring.  The plums are also done.  I decided the hot peppers were done, and have a tray of them dehydrating in the back room.  Stuffed bell peppers are on the supper menu for tomorrow.  Any favorite recipes? 

I learned that a nervous dog will chew on a pumice stone if left alone.  Sigh.  I suppose I need to limit my bike rides to when the excavator isn't working within earshot (mine, or the dog's?) or after Vir comes home. 

And that's the news from Lake Roadbegon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

More plums!


We have definitely shifted from Apricot Management to Plum Pickups.  It's been raining the past two days, so I NEED to get out there and tidy up once things dry off slightly.  The picture shows a day's haul of usable plums.  The unusable windfalls went into the compost bucket.  (The 30 gallon compost bucket that gets dumped at the town compost heap.  I have learned that fruits with pits make wretched compost, especially when a generous quantity of those pits sprout the following spring.  It's bad enough having to patrol the yard looking for trees that the squirrels planted without myself planting them in the garden thoughtlessly!)

I've got about 5 quarts of frozen plum halves, just waiting to be used in smoothies, 2 quarts of dried plums, a dozen plums ready to be eaten fresh ... and about as many as there are in the picture, waiting to be picked up.  If you're local and want plums, come visit!  But keep reading, too.  

Lunch
 I've been lunching off the yard lately.  Two leaves of kale, a sprig of parsley or basil, several plums, ice cubes, and some miscellaneous additives like flax seed and cocoa powder, and I've a delicious lunchy smoothie.  I think it also covers my 5 fruits and veggies a day in one container.

  
Tomatoes


 The tomatoes in the garden had a lovely time of it last week, what with the warm temps and lots of sunshine.  (This week, not so much.  Drizzly, temps struggling to get to 60 today.)  I picked a nice crop on Monday and turned them into tomato sauce.  Fourteen pints canned and ready to go for homemade soup in the winter!  My favorites are the Black Krim.   They make a nice meal all by themselves, too, or perhaps with an ear of corn on the cob from the stand in town. 


 Our sidewalk, Thursday
Our sidewalk, Friday
Construction work on the sewer/water main improvements is continuing, as well as the weather allows.  Last Friday we lost our street.  Happily, the driveway is on a different street, so we're not affected much.  Bandit doesn't much care for the beeps of the equipment as it back up, and some in the household care even less for the fact that the house shakes as the excavators break up the pavement and scoop nice deep holes out there ... but this too shall pass. 

Knitting is going knittily, and biking would be going much better today if it were dry outside.  Ten degrees more of warmth would be nice, too.  I got myself a bike jersey, just in time for the 80s to become 50s!  Argh.  And once it hits 60, the winds are supposed to be in the 20s.  Planning one's ride out of the wind just does NOT happen on rural roads in corn land. 

Enough computer for today ... time to head off and look to the house!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Plums??

This is going to be a quick one ... other activities call!

The end of the apricot pick-up is in sight.  Most of the ones that are falling now are pre-dehydrated, and there are less of them.  It helps that Vir has removed a dozen or perhaps a score of branches from the apricots, so there are less branches for them to fall from.

In place of apricots, though, I am now picking up plums.  This is not a bad trade-off.  The plums are delightfully edible, freezable, and there are fewer of them, probably by three or perhaps four orders of magnitude.  Instead of two hours of collecting apricots destined for the compost heap (the town heap, not my own heap.  Those pits sprout!!!), it's more like 5 minutes of collecting and sorting - into grades of Yuck, Freeze, and Fresh Fruit. 

The beefsteak-types of tomatoes are ripening now.  I put up 3 pints (wow.  Three Whole Pints!!!) of tomato sauce this morning, and did enough other puttering around the kitchen to move my computer time into the afternoon.  The house smells like basil and lavender, while the back room smells like dehydrating onion.  It's a good day. 

No sock pattern yet, but there's a custom order at the yarn shop which should keep me busy for a few weeks.  The yarn for some personal projects arrived, too, so when that is done I won't have to look far to find what I'm knitting next.  And that's good. 

Annemor #9, sort of.





Also on the docket:  bike rides (next up, a 20 miler), Leviticus, harp practice, and LOTS of miscellaneous items. 

Better be off to do them!

Today's Haul




Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Pictures? What pictures?

Hmm.  As I sit down to the computer to write this week's blog post, I see there are no pictures with last week's post, DESPITE carefully loading pictures to some place via my iPad and then putting them in the drafted blog post and publishing it.  Where did they go?  Why aren't they there?  And how can you appreciate the apricots if they're not showing up?

Too many questions for a Wednesday.

Unless it just so happens that I forgot to publish the post, because I wanted to carefully put the pictures near some appropriate text, but never got around to it.  Sigh.  Well, it will just have to be two blog posts this week.  (clicks 'publish' on last week's post)

The king-sized quilt is now two smaller quilts. One is nicely bound with the original binding, and the other has a contrasting binding halfway sewn on ... next step is for Filia to finish tacking it down on the back side.  She's also just two rows and a bind off away from finishing a custom-made-for-her cardigan.  Maybe today will see both projects completed!  I'm eagerly awaiting a sock pattern from a friend, and am passing the time by working on Annemor #9, a pair of mittens in Teri Shea's Selbuvotter.  I'm also redesigning them.  Because of my gauge and yarn choice, they will fit me (unlike a mitten that was knit to the pattern specs).  I've tweaked the cuff design so that the Selburoses are correct, rather than charmingly botched.  And to avoid some issues with a large motif plastered in the middle of a checkerboard pattern, I changed the stitch count on the second mitten.  Other than that, though, I'm following the pattern perfectly!  (Oh, and I worked the thumb gusset on the right mitten so that it matched the one on the left ... I think the chart had an issue with the printer)
The Menu
The apricot production has slowed down, but not before Vir removed over 25% of the branches in an attempt to prevent future overabundances.  He's not done yet. I've discovered zucchini brownies and honey mustard green beans - recipes from Valley Veggies, a farm up the road from us.  We're enjoying Koralik cherry tomates, Amish Pastes, and a few Black Krim tomatoes.  I'm starting to contemplate what to do when the deluge hits.  (Of tomatoes ... not a second world-wide flood.  Ain't gonna happen.)
And the watermelon jumped out of the sling.  Unripe.

Monday, I spent with a friend whose littlest one was having surgery.  It made for a long day - leaving home before 5 AM and getting home not too much before 11 PM - but was a wonderful time of getting to know her better, being a Pack Mule, Manager of Miscellaneous Papers, and Organizer of the Hospital Room.  Tomorrow is the offical 'Get Spinning Wheel and Drop Off State Fair Entries' day, with a side trip to Ikea.  I've never been to an Ikea, but think Filius and I could easily spend a day there.  It's about organizing stuff, right?!


Last Friday I got a stick-to-the-window finch feeder, and have been enjoying the goldfinches jockeying for position at it.  They're at it when I first check in the morning around 6, and keep on until sunset.  The hummingbirds have investigated it, but it's not their sort of food.  (The goldfinches, on the other hand, regard the ant moat at the top of the hummingbird feeder as their personal drinking fountain.)

Until next week ....







Still more apricots

If life goes as planned today (July 29ish), there will be pictures of apricots in this blog.  The plans of life include the rain stopping, the sun coming out, a stiff breeze springing up to dry off the grass, and ... apricots.  Rumor has it that they are almost done dropping, and that if I would just let them rot in the yard they'd be gone in three or four days ... but if they fall for three weeks (and counting), that's a month of a yard overrun with bugs and a reek of fermenting fruit.  Who wants to walk over that to fill bird feeders?  Not moi!

Life today also includes a cherry pie (baking right now, before the day heats up), putting the bean trellis back together, Day 1 of Precept's Leviticus study, and knitting.  Of course it includes knitting.  I hope to have a pattern to test knit by the end of the week, so I will see what small project I can put together from my stash.  This week has seen the Maplewood Mittens, Spruce Mittens, and a Norwegian Stash Hat come off my needles.  My LYS should have yarn in sometime next week for two personal projects, too.  I'm looking forward to it.  It's nice to have space in one's knitting calendar, and it's also nice not to spend most of one's knitting time figuring out what to make next. 

Another project today is cutting a king sized quilt from the thrift store down to a twin bed size.  (Don't panic, Dawn.  It's bright pink on one side, medium pink on the other, and is otherwise unremarkable.  No quilter's feelings or hard labor will be harmed in the dissection of this quilt)  It has only one thing going for it over the quilt it is replacing ... it fits into a household washing machine.  Hopefully this bit of sewing will not turn into a total neglect of the rest of the household in favor of sewing ALL the things.  Like the Roman shades I am idly planning for the downstairs, once the walls and ceiling are re-drywalled.  No date for that yet. I'm not holding my breath, nor am I moving all the books and furniture out yet. Color me pessimistic, but I think the work on the street may finish up first.  Speaking of which ... the street on the other side of the highway from us lost it's top yesterday.  Sidewalks, curb, asphalt ... all sitting in a nice pile outside of town in a field by the grain elevator.  The secondary water supply is in place -- a cute little blue pipe attached to the fire hydrant on the corner, and from thence across back yards for supplying the individual homes.  Where it crosses streets, it's tucked in under a nice comforter of gravel.  Speed bumps for the morning paper boy!

My State Fair entries are all ready to be dropped off.  Since I have a spinning wheel up in St. Paul, I'm hoping to drop off my entries this year rather than mail them in.  Drop off the knitting, pick up the spinning, go to IKEA (which I've never been to, even though it seems just like my kind of store) ... a nice day trip.  My fair offerings this year fall more into the 'humble submissions' category rather than 'exquisite craftsmanship', for the most part.  I am looking forward to sleuthing around on Ravelry to find the prizewinners!

Dog-wise friends ... got any wisdom for the perplexed owner of a dog who has decided that anything that remotely sounds like a chirping smoke alarm (such as a single squeak of an oven shelf expanding as the oven heats up) is grounds for racing upstairs in a panic?



Friday, July 24, 2015

More apricots

Life doesn't exactly revolve around apricots, but I am getting plenty of exercise squatting to pick up apricots for an hour or two each day.  Today there's a banner crop sitting on the ground, thanks to the early morning thunderstorm and winds that went past.  Twenty gallons, perhaps?  I'm not sure if it's a pity that they're mealy, so we just toss them, or if it's nice that they're not exactly tasty so we don't fret about tossing them.  Regardless, apricots are on today's agenda once it dries out.  Then, showers and slushies.  Heat index is supposed to stay in the double digits. 

The garden grows, and grows.  I'm enjoying a daily dose of cherry tomatoes (Koralik) along with my kale smoothie, and we have some wee little watermelons that are developing nicely.  The peppers are peppering, the herbs are herbing, and the beans have so completely dwarfed, overrun, and conquered the trellis that I am unsure if I will be able to find either it OR any mature beans this year.  It's called 'learning stuff for next year.'  I made sage pesto, basil pesto, and destemmed a few tablespoons of dried thyme this past week.  There are 5 bunches of dried sage on the kitchen counter to destem today.  It's lovely having one's own herbs in the pantry.  Except for cilantro. I could do without that.  I dried some dill for mom, and if I don't pick the seed heads soon, will have thousands of dill plants next year. 

Construction work has stopped on the street for a while, as the pipes are now happily settled under the highway and work on the other half of town will commence.  Our turn comes afterwards.  They'll be removing all the pavement from street and sidewalk, putting in new water and new sewer (plus a new sewer line from our house out to the street).  And then, hopefully have enough time before winter to put in pavement for street and sidewalk, and plant grass.  If not, the adventure will just be a bit longer.  And we won't have a sidewalk to shovel! 

I've picked up the book Favorite Mittens and am knitting random mittens from that to destash my worsted and keep myself occupied. Some of my pattern-writing has moved forwards, and some hasn't.  Little by little does the trick? 


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Apricots

The main feature of my life right now is apricots.  Or at least, it seems that way.  Our Manchurian Bush Apricots, adult height of 4-6 ft, surpassed their genetics and have become two 20 ft tall behemoths with a 30+ ft spread and a bountiful crop of tiny, mealy, not-particularly flavorful apricots.  Thousands of them.  I estimate that I will be picking up 100 gallons of apricots over the next week or two.  Because if they're not picked up ... well, image spreading that much of applesauce on your lawn and waiting a day or two in the hot summer sun.  Bleagh.   Kale-apricot smoothies aren't too bad, though. 

We keep our collection container tightly lidded, and it STILL is a buggy, fermenting humid mush after just two days. Two days in the 90s with high ambient humidity, that is. 

The garden is getting a bit dry, and may well need some supplemental water in the next day or two.  I miss the daily/every other daily rainstorms in the wee hours.  Filius added a trellis for the watermelon, and I did some serious pruning of the sage as it was crowding everything around it.  The pruned bits turned into three bunches of sage hanging from our ceiling fans to dry, and a bottle of sage honey.  Mmmmm.  Sage tea is supposed to be good ... I'll probably thin out some more sage this weekend, and collect some thyme, and dehydrate some basil.  I'm looking forward to the tomates ripening! 

The tree chopping activity across the street has ceased.  Seven trees on the other side of the street and 5 trees on this side are no more.  Our view is seriously changed.  It'll be even more changed when the willow loses its leaves this fall and we can see across the street from our living room! 

Nothing is on my needles now.  I finished a second pair of slippers and am contemplating whether I should keep making more and perfect things, or find some other bunny trail to go haring off on.  In the meantime, I am working on making some patterns of mine publishable.  A little bit of polish here, a little bit of polish there, and then they'll be up on Ravelry!





Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The end of an era

Across the street from us for the past twenty years, there has been a row of majestic crimson maples.  Today, they are getting cut down, and we are sad.  I suppose if a new sewer/water main system is necessary, it's necessary ... but the view will take a long time to be the same, if ever it is the same.

Closer to home, our cherry tree is only 10 or so foot from the curb on another street.  It's not getting the axe this year, but I'm not so sure if it will be spared when the mains are replaced on that street.  Next spring, I will be planting a new cherry tree so that we aren't too many years without jams and pies!

Life continues on.  The knitting patterns I needed to write last week still need to be written this week.  There's no deadline, so it is just a matter of me determining to sit down and write them.  I'm knitting a cute pair of slippers (Noomi) out of stash yarn, and didn't make it through the first outer slipper before starting to mentally rewrite the pattern.  I have lots of ideas, and am beginning to wonder how many pairs I will knit before I settle on The Ideal Slipper.  One-piece, or sewn?  Twined, or not?  Garter, or stockinette?  Tossing felting into the mix will require a good bit of size change.  The originals call for slight felting, but they're too small in circumference to begin with, so I am not planning to follow that part of the directions.

Three students have signed up for a minicourse I am teaching on twined knitting.  I'm excited to see their swatches!