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


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!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cilantro and Ceilings

The garden survived the high winds of last week very well.  My basil was having problems, though, and the name of their problems was cilantro.  Since I enjoy basil much more than dish-soap-flavored green stuff, I decided to turn most of the cilantro into pesto. 

Cilantro, by the way, is a very hardy plant.  I planted some last year in a very shady spot in the hopes that the spot was not so shady as I thought, and that I might perhaps get some delicious Mexican Parsley, that vital accompaniment to so many dishes, out of it.  Well, the spot was indeed the shady, but a rather leggy three plants of cilantro grew, became coriander, was harvested ... and became the parents of several dozen volunteer cilantro plants in the shade, plus some transplanted into my new garden, and my mom's garden, and some gardens in other towns.

The ones in my sunny garden were about 30" tall when they decided to lay down and gently cover my entire basil patch.  Armed with scissors, I went out and snipped all the main stems and brought them inside. 
Abigail and I went through the pile a stalk at a time, removing the leafy bits and leaving the stems and seeds for the compost pile.  This pile became 2 cups of pesto, with the addition of some olive oil and a bit of parmesan cheese. 

The sour cherry tree is bearing nicely this year. There's a pie in the fridge, jam in the cupboard, and many more cherries on the tree to pick.  If Filia and Filius get more picked today, I will probably make another batch of jam.  It is amazing to me how varied the jam recipes are.  One recipe called for 7 cups of sugar and 2 pouches of pectin for 3 pounds of fruit.  The one I used called for 3 cups of sugar and one pouch of pectin for 4 pounds of fruit.  And it is yummy! 

Not exactly before, but not after either
We're also on the brink of a living room remodel. Sometime in the hopefully not-too-distant future, a team of drywallers is going to come in and put some nice smooth drywall on our living room walls and ceiling.  In preparation for that, all the trim has been taken down.  We may be taking out some lathing, too ... fun stuff! 

Knitting is going on in the background of life.  The next thing I really should be doing, knitwise, is write some patterns... but I would rather knit than write.  And since I don't have much in the way of a knitting queue, all sorts of other things are getting done around here. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ducksies and Suitcases and Storms, Oh My!

I haven't knitted for two days. Something to do with visiting libraries, being passed a steady stream of Discworld books by my son, not having a knitting project, and an amazing amount of tree branches which were disconnected from their trees yesterday morning, no doubt. I hope to remedy the situation today. I did finish the Duck hats. They came out just as I had planned, not too small, nor too large, and Just Right as far as yarn usage went. I had a few yards of green left over. They're a present, but I am fairly sure the recipients don't read this blog, so I present to you ....

Vir was away to Atlanta the week before last, for a reunion of his college housemates.  It's always interesting when one receives a phone call saying that one is owed a new suitcase, due to a small fire, but just about everything else is okay.  (The 'everything else' did not include the cell phone charger, table charger, a pair of shorts, a shirt, the back cover of an appointment book, and a few toiletries, however.)  I image it was quite a surprise to load up the luggage carrier, settle down in the car for a nice long drive, and arrive at the destination with a hole in the luggage carrier and smoking luggage inside it.  Farewell, blue bag.  You served me through trips to college, Iceland and Scotland, Tbilisi, Omaha, Baltimore, California, camp ... but not more.  And I didn't even get to say good bye. 

Yesterday morning, we made national news!  Some storms passed through the area.  Before they passed through, our main concern was not getting caught in a nasty downpour during the morning paper route.  Thunderstorms can make one exceedingly wet in a very short period of time.  It was dry when the papers got delivered, but there was a band of clouds the size of Pennsylvania lurking a few minutes west of us, so they were delivered by motor vehicle instead of bicycle.  Good thing, too.  Before we'd been inside a minute, God opened the fire hose on us and visibility dropped to 'not across the street.'  After a while, the rains dropped off and the winds picked up. 

Lots of winds. 

Turns out, we should have been concerned about getting walloped by a tree or trampoline or roof during the paper route, not getting wet.  One article in the papers says there are more trees down in town than there are people.  That *is* an exaggeration, but not much. 
Across the street. 
Happily, our willow tree did not lose any major branches, nor did any other tree in our yard.  It was the work of a half-hour to gather up the debris from our trees and from other trees that landed into our yard.  I was a bit curious how we would GET all the debris (two solid pick-up loads, perhaps) out to the compost facility when it opened up on Saturday, but thanks to some neighbors and a flat-bed tow truck, it is gone already. 
The back yard ... our property goes just a wee bit beyond the garden beds
Our neighbors don't usually have a whole tree laying down in their yard.  And they usually have a power line connecting their house to the grid, too.  Once the power company got the line properly dealt with (it's under the tree in this photo), a chainsaw or two and a skid loader made short work of the tree.  As the day progressed, I learned that we might have been the only ones in town who had power (except for a minute or two in the afternoon, probably when the rest of town got reconnected.)  Us, the empty house next to us, and the church next to that, are the only places I know had power.  An amazing blessing - and we didn't even know it wasn't a common blessing!

Canis was MOST unhappy when the power flicked off in the afternoon and the carbon monoxide detector beeped. 

I got two packages of yarn yesterday.  One for a test knit, and the other for playing with.  Alpaca laceweight .... mmmmm! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Smoke Alarms and Oregon Ducks

Filius is a scientific sort.  He did some research and learned that smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years.  We have lived in this house 20 years minus one month ... and have never replaced a smoke alarm.  So, that got put on the to-do list. And do you know what happens when you put a battery into a smoke alarm?  It beeps.

So, as we were getting ready to install a new smoke alarm yesterday, I thought it prudent to have pooch be somewhere else in the house while I put the battery in.  Maybe on the other side of a door and down a set of stairs.  It didn't work. I am his safety blanket, and when the thing beeped, he dashed up the stairs and burst through the door.  Which wasn't latched.  Old houses, old doors, and all that.  But we now have a functioning upstairs smoke detector.  Next up on the agenda is to replace the wired-in one that caused all the panic (for the dog) in the first place.

I have been casting around for something to knit, and remembered that I have some Oregon Ducks hats in my queue.  And I have yarn for them!  I do not have yarn for the Antifreeze balaclava-y thing I owe Filius for running his former one through the wash.  It would now fit a much younger Filius.  But I do have John Deere Green and Yellow for the Oregon Ducky hat, and a picture of a hat.  Take those two things, and I shall come up with a hat.  Two hats, actually. Yayyyyy!  Something to knit!  Over the weekend, I was reduced to knitting swatches for projects I didn't quite have in mind.

Today is a beautiful day, perfect for working in yards.  So that is what shall happen.  The canine will be delighted to chase rabbits far, far from nasty smoke alarms that go BEEP. 

I leave you with a nice tranquil photo, albeit one without the chipmunk I was trying to photograph.  This is the view from my front porch.  The trees are apricot bushes, theoretically 4-6 ft tall.  They overachieved. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Cilantro, Sage, Parsley, Chives. Thyme, and Lavender

Tomatoes and Basil

Kale, Lettuce, and Asparagus

Peppers and Beans and Peas, Oh My!

A pound of fresh oregano

Yesterday morning, today was going to be a nice quiet day at home. Yesterday afternoon, today was going to be spent in town, running a few errands after picking up some now-working power wheels for a wheelchair. And this morning, the phone call came in which said that yesterday morning's plan was actually correct, and today WAS going to be a nice quiet day at home. So we get to pick up the wheels when we're supposed to be getting 1-2" of rain (followed by 1-2" more at night. I don't think I need to water much today.) I now have rhubarb-pineapple jello in the fridge, along with a quart of rhubarb syrup for rhubarb-lemonade slushies, 2 cups of oregano pesto, and a half-gallon of minty sun tea. A kale-banana-rhubarb smoothie is in the plans for lunch, and homemade yogurt will start incubating around then. Three loads of laundry have come out of the dryer, too. But it's been a quiet morning.

Yesterday was another matter.  Yesterday we ran some errands in town (mostly to get groceries for starving teenagers), did some work at my mom's in 90+ degree heat, and then came home to an Utter Mess.  Our poor pooch (whom we have had for 5 years as of today, according to Facebook's memory thingy, making him 13 years old!) had stayed at home and things had not gone well.  Puddles and a pile greeted us, plus a dog that wanted OUT.  NOW.  My first thought was that the chocolate he had consumed Sunday (sniff.  MY chocolate, from the 4th shelf of a bookkcase) had given him some tummy issues.  So out he went, and I began cleaning things up.  Then Filia noticed that the electric smoke detector was giving the 'low battery' beep.  On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is l put it on a to-do list and ignore it for a few days, and 8 is clean the poop off the kitchen floor from in front of the sink, low battery beeps are around a 3.  So I didn't think anything of it, grabbed a mop, and began to make the kitchen a safe place to walk-n-wheel.  I wondered if the pup had gotten into the compost bucket as well, since there were things that looked like sweet potato peels laying around the kitchen too.

Oddly enough, the glass with asparagus in it had been knocked over on the counter, but the asparagus hadn't been eaten.  That's a serious indicator of an unhappy pooch.  He will, given a chance, climb into your LAP at the dinner table to remind you that you must share your asparagus ends with him.  He adores asparagus.  (And radishes, and dill, and parsley, and sweet potatoes, and pea pods, and and and ... but not iceberg lettuce)

As the clean-up progressed, I found four piles, a knocked-over trash can, a knocked-over harp (EEEEK!), and zig-zaggy splashes all throughout the downstairs.  And the windows were a mess.  Kinda like some kid with dirty hands had reached up as high as he could and then dragged his hands down each windows several times. 

This was strange. 

So I checked on the pooch, who was laying down in the shade outside but quite happy to come in. He came in, had a huge drink of water, ignored the food in his dish, and looked most unhappy. 

Until the smoke alarm beeped.  At which point, he jumped out of his skin and halfway up the stairs. 

Poor thing.  For whatever reason, our electric smoke detector, which has not had a battery for some time, decided that it was going to beep once every few minutes while we were gone.  And the pooch got stressed.  So stressed that our house looked like a textbook example of 'What happens when a dog experiences severe stress.'  (Except the textbook left out the asparagus on the floor, the paw-streaks on the windows, and the splinters from trying to chew and scratch his way out of a door or two.  And the harp.  They didn't mention anything about knocking over a harp.)

Fixing the beepy thing became much more a priority.  But how do you make a smoke detector stop the low battery beep when there is no battery in it?  Happily, my intuition gave me an answer that worked: whap it a few times with the mop handle. 

(we interrupt this blog post to accept a box of unexpected chocolates from the UPS man. I will keep them UP two feet further than the last box of chocolates was kept.  The one which met its demise on Sunday.)

Clean-up continued for an hour, and I still have some windows to clean (didn't notice yesterday that he reached the upper pane of the windows) and will probably mop again today, and maybe if the smell lingers still tomorrow, wipe down more walls and cabinets.  The stressed pooch just wanted me to settle down so he could sack out and collect his poor tender nerves.  Eventually things got tidied up, the groceries got put away, and he settled down.  He's not letting me out of his sight today. 

Poor, poor pooch.