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Com(meme)bo post featuring random greenness

Laundry Laundry_basket On_the_line

Clothespins Compost1

Compost2I was recently tagged for a meme that I may already have done, and I've been meaning to do another tag-less meme, so thought I'd join the two.  Can I do that?  Of course I can (and I don't have to be ordained or anything) because it's my blog!

There's The Green Meme, spotted at Carole's, Kristi's, Birdsong's, joining with The Random 8 Meme (which always makes me think of Crazy-8s, my favorite card game), for which I was tagged by Vicki, and I now pronounce you...

The Random Crazy-8 Green Meme (now tag-less and with no rules but my own)

Green 1:  I used earnings from a rummage sale as seed money to purchase our high-efficiency, front-loading washer which was the talk of the multi-family sale that year!  Despite recently having to call the Maytag repairman, I've been pretty happy for -- wow, I don't know -- five or six years now?  Probably more.  I've also been doing laundry almost exclusively in cold water for at least the past six months.  Old habits die hard, though, and the whole Howard Hughes-germaphobe-dust mite-OCD-MomMonk thing needs to be squelched on a regular basis -- not to mention all that training in the use of harsh chemicals, rubber gloves and elbow grease by Mom over the years -- so I'll admit to a handful of "hots," always with a cold-water rinse, though, and there's not a warm in memory.

Random Crazy-1:  I folded laundry under the pergola recently and contemplated my pile of clothes.  I've been trying to work a little more color into the wardrobe; I could use more prints and patterns, don't you think?  I'd love to meet Stacy and Clint.  I'd love to have a makeover of any kind (especially hair).

Green 2:  I proudly "buy used," including lovely old wicker laundry baskets, books, housewares and clothing, at thrift stores and rummage sales.

Random Crazy-2:  I've been tuning in and warming up to The Closer -- actually, it's Brenda I've had to warm up to.  I totally get the sweet tooth, and I've been liking her more as I get to "know" her, but here's the scene from a recent episode that cinched it -- and now I'm well past warm.  Brenda is making mashed potatoes in a huge pot -- with a masher in each hand.  She uses a big spoon to serve some on a plate for her boyfriend, then takes the pot and spoon over to sit down at the table where she starts to eat those yummy, smooth, creamy mashed potatoes directly from the pot as if it were the most natural thing in the world!  Mmmmmm. I'll have mine with butter (no gravy).  And make 'em blue!

Green 3:  It's no secret how I feel about airing my laundry on the line, and I do it as often as I can.

Random Crazy-3:  Madeleine has made a number of bracelets for herself, her sisters and her friends, by joining the springy things from clothespins to make a "chain."  My clothespin supply has been left somewhat diminished.

Green 4:  We have and use a big compost bin, purchased several years ago from the county at a reasonable price.  Sometimes, I bypass the bin and just dump and spread coffee grounds straight, at the base of acid-loving plants such as rhodies, azaleas, hydrangeas.  I use the boiling hot water from cooking pasta to pour on the weeds growing in the sidewalk cracks; the water from cooking/steaming veggies, after it's cooled, to water outdoor plants.  That's a lesson learned from grandma.

Random Crazy-4:  I don't know that I'd compost as much as I do if I hadn't found the most adorable, covered, enamel berry pail to use as a compost bucket by my kitchen sink. It's so cute, it even makes the annual battle with the fruit flies worthwhile.

Green 5:  When I buy new, I try to buy as well as I can -- superior quality, longer life, and all that.  It doesn't bother me to spend more than the big-box price on a good quality, classic shirt in a nice color because I know it'll look nice and fit well even after I wash it (you know what I'm talking about when it gets all twisty and won't lay right), and will continue to do so for a long time -- sometimes years and years and years.  I've worn shirts for 20 years or more ('til there's nothing left!).  I have nightgowns that are older.  Similarly, if those good quality clothes can be had at the thrift store with a little life in 'em yet, well that's a no-brainer, now, isn't it?

Random Crazy-5:  Do you know how my beauty plan is similar to Ellen Barkin's?  We both use an eyelash curler!  (Ha!)  The only difference is that hers likely came from a department $tore, and mine from a discount store.  Also, we both shampoo only once or twice a week (she's more of a once-er and I'm more of a twice-er).  I've recently begun rinsing my hair with vinegar (the jury is still out) rather than conditioner -- it's supposed to aid in flakiness (as in there should be less on the scalp) and cutting soap residue which should result in more body and shine.

Green 6:  We have used canvas grocery bags for many years.  Our local Piggly Wiggly sells them for about $3.99 -- a wonderful style made of heavy canvas, shaped just like a paper sack with strong handles, silkscreened with their name/logo -- and gives us a 5c/bag credit every time we re-use them.  We have toted a lot more than groceries in those bags over the years, and we're most definitely "in the black."

Wee1Random Crazy-6:  The Wee Wallaby is finished except for weaving in of 14,000 ends.  This is my first in-the-round raglan sweater and it's MAGICAL!  I didn't have enough yarn for a hood, so made a nice collar instead.  The intended recipient (Mack) has shown some interest and initiative in the area of potty training -- or perhaps more of a disinterest in the diaper, claiming that it's "bugging me."  He helped to pick out his new toddler bed, having given up the crib for the baby.  Awwww.  I finally found buttons for the baby's Saartje Bootees and I'd better get crackin' if they're to be the baby's first shoes!  Meanwhile, I've begun another Baby Surprise Jacket.  The kid knitting will continue just a bit longer, and then I'm casting on for Kent's Moss Stitch Beret which has moved up in the Ravelry queue (it may have been influenced by those eyes).  ; )

Green 7:  I have a growing awareness of where my food comes from, how it's grown and the distance it's traveled from farm to table.  I am also coming to terms with words and phrases such as sustainable, organic, healthy, CSA, free range, eat local and chemical- or pesticide-free -- and what they mean to my pocketbook.  I'm finding ways to reconcile; knowing I can't afford to be 100% anything (can't afford to be 100% healthy?), I am doing something and prioritizing.  I caught the tail end of The Endless Feast (106-Virginia) on Saturday.  A sumptuous meal prepared and served in that manner, sharing the bounty (and the wine) with all the people I love, is definitely an item on my list.

Random Crazy-7:  I did not go north last weekend.  I was hopeful, as evidenced by my last post, but in the end, I decided against being alone for days in the northwoods (where I have absolutely NO cell service) while in such a vulnerable (and painful) state.  Instead, I spent a very low-key weekend at home -- very near a pair of hands, ready and willing to massage tight muscles whenever needed.  Until I work out this one last crick and stand up straight, I kind of remind myself of my grandpa -- not really my best look.  But I am so much better.

Green 8:  There is lots of room for improvement and, for me, one of the biggest areas is lighting.  I have a couple of CFLs, but due to my intolerance for their poor quality (color) of light, they're relegated to areas that don't matter much or, in other words, areas that aren't used much and so nothing really is gained.  I know that this is a little thing with pretty big impact.  Thankfully, technology has changed with demand -- different shapes, some are dimmable, and improved color and I'm ready to try again.  The color temperature -- measured in degrees Kelvin -- is the most important number to me and I'll be looking for something in the daylight area, well over 2700K.  Any suggestions?  I am also hopeful that LED will be an even better solution for the future.

Random Crazy-8:  August is busy.  Dish Rag Tag begins tomorrow!  Ali starts a new, very, very part-time, supplemental job at the mall on the 9th.  I will have a new niece or nephew on that date, if not before, as well.  Katie moves to Madison on the 15th!  Maddy registers for school that week.  I might be registering for school, too.  Ali starts her new coffee shop gig (a transfer) on the 20th, and will be moving home sometime during the month -- either all at once on a particular day that is yet undeclared, or slowly (possibly taking weeks, though I can't imagine because she doesn't have all that much to move!).  At some point, I'll need to spend a long weekend with the new baby and his/her big brothers.  ; )


At Tuesday's Knit Night, I suffered an injury -- took one for the team, you might say.  I bent over to pick up a fallen DPN, having begun my cast-on for a Wonderful Wallaby sleeve, then twisted to pick up someone's purse that I'd knocked over, and I felt the snap, crackle, pop of several back muscles giving way.

I think I'm still going up north.  DH said that he thought I should go, "...otherwise, you'll just want to do laundry or something."

Oddly enough, with the built-in lumbar support, my car is one of the most comfortable places to be.  I'll pack my knitting, ibuprofen and coldpack, will stop for food (and yarn), and I'll probably be back on Saturday or Sunday!


Moth Pouch

This week, with the 2007 EAA AirVenture in full swing, you just need to wait a minute before you see or hear an airplane around here.  You don't have to be anywhere near the EAA grounds or an airport; heck, you might just be driving down the highway...  That's called Sharing The Road.

We had a tiny little airshow of our own at the front door last night.  I don't know if this is a moth or some other kind of bug (click for big), it's kind of creepy and looks like it could bite, but pretty cool in flight.  (Note to self:  Time to paint the front door?)

I didn't rip back the Wallaby pouch after all, and I'm glad I gave myself some time to look it over and think about it.  I'll be making more of these, so there will be opportunity to do things differently.  I'll be starting Wallaby sleeves at Knit Night tonight.

Continuing with my never having the same schedule two weeks in a row this summer, I'm working tomorrow (my usual day off), taking Thursday and Friday off intead to head up north for the weekend.  I'm planning my travel route with yarn stores as my guide, and may make an adventure of it on Friday -- Hurley and Ashland, for sure, possibly Bayfield and Madeline Island?

Weekend update

WallabyThat's a Wonderful Wee Willie Wallaby soaking up the dappled-through-the-pergola sun yesterday afternoon.  I am using two colors, a sage green (same yarn as Shirley Shrugs) and a kind of maize-y gold, and striping in a Fibonacci sequence, except not exactly because I just noticed where I made a few sequence mistakes.  I liked these colors together better when they were in the ball, not so much in progress.  I think I'll like it better when it's all finished.

I picked up and knit the stitches for the pouch last night, except I reversed the colors -- the stripes that are green on the sweater are gold on the pouch -- and the jury's still out on that move.  My next task is weaving in the ends on the pouch -- it was easier to cut and reattach yarn than try to carry it along the edge and if I had to do it over again, I'd probably do it all a little differently, except for reversing the stripes because I really do like that idea.  Actually, I'm going to take one more look at it and don't be surprised if I rip it back for a do-over and it's at exactly this point at this time tomorrow.  A little deja vu warning...

Blue_potato Blue_potatoes

Last night's menu:  bison burgers, steamed baby carrots (real ones, not those whittled-down pretenders), smashed blue potatoes, ensalade caprese (thanks for telling me the name, Carol!), and pretty much everything 'cept the ketchup was "local" and purchased at the farmers' market.  Those potatoes are trippy, no?  That's not the half of it -- the water they were cooked in was green at the end.  I was so excited about the smashing (they really are blue!) that I forgot to add a little milk and so there were a tiny bit dry.  Oooh, but they tasted so good!  That tiny little dollop of butter was all I added and, just as the farmer said, they had a buttery taste all their own!

In the pink and a reminder to hug your librarian

Coneflower2 Coneflower1 Daddy_2

QueenMy purple coneflowers are less than vigorous (I think they could use more sun), but the colors are still stupendous.  I've never knit a Fair Isle sweater, but I can see where inspiration comes from, can't you?  Oh, wouldn't it be fabulous?  What a color combo!  You can click on all the pics to "make big," of course, and the hydrangea has a special, long-legged surprise.

I looked out the window to the back garden on Wednesday and saw a small, frothy bunch of pink flowers that I've never seen before.  I thought:  No!  Is it...?  Could it...?  Dare I think it...??  Is my Queen-of-the-Prairie finally in bloom???  IT IS!!!  I don't know how many years ago I planted this thing -- I'm sure Maddy was still in grade school.  It was planning on the tall side of three to six feet tall, making this a highlight and centerpiece of the garden.  The flower atop that tall stalk that reminded me of a pumped-up astilbe.  Well, the thing's never grown much taller than my waist and isn't even that tall this year, but there's finally a flower!  It's more like Princess-of-the-Prairie size, but princesses often grow up to be queens, do they not?  First the peonies flower for the first time this year and now this -- I don't even tend much to the gardens these days, and look how I'm rewarded!

I had an email from my library this morning, in response to my April inquiry about borrowing Elizabeth Zimmermann's "Knitting Workshop" DVD through the state-wide interlibrary loan system.  One of the librarians wrote that she'd just received this notice: "...because of its popularity these owning libraries will not circulate it outside their systems. I ordered a copy for our library this morning so when it comes in and gets processed you will be the first to check it out."  Emphasis is mine... ALL MINE!  I really do feel like hugging her, but that would be kind of weird, so I did the next best thing.  I wrote back, thanking her profusely, telling her that she made my day, and admitting that, while I often say it to other people, I don't often say it to the people that matter:  I love my library!  (She wrote back and said that I made her day, too, and so, really, we're just having a library love-fest over here to kick off the weekend.  What goes around, comes around and all that.)

Have a great weekend.

It's thyme for a Baby Surprise!

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The buttons are reflecting the light but trust me, they're perfect!

Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket in Araucania Magallanes.  Started Saturday, July 14th.  Finished Thursday, July 19th.  One of the most fun, quick, and enjoyable things I've ever knit.

I grabbed some Lamb's Pride Brown Sheep Worsted in a nice, grassy green to sew up the sleeve seams and was really taken with how it coordinated with the Magallanes.  I decided that there was a little bit of a gap in the front of the sweater that I could easily remedy with a short, solid-color buttonband.  I picked up stitches to a spot in the pattern that I'd have to think real hard about how to describe -- maybe you can see it, where it turns a little corner there -- it's a spot that looked good, probably 2/3 or 3/4 the total length of the front, and made four buttonholes.  I decided, then, that it also needed a little bit of contrast at the collar, but I drew the line at cuffs.

As one of my sisters might say: "I like the solid color band because it gives the eye a place to rest."  Honestly.  I've heard her express that exact thing.  She knit a sweater for me once with lots of fruit motifs and she omitted a bunch of cherries on one of the sleeves for this reason.  The eye needed a place to rest.

At any rate, I couldn't be more thrilled with this quick, enchanting, little sweater.

This little piggy goes to market

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...or to the beach.

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Plymouth Yarns Fantasy Naturale Market Bag (free pattern).  I used nearly all of two hanks of "Fantasy Naturale," a mercerized cotton; a pair of 10-1/2 US straights and a 15US circular; and I think it took about a week to knit (with breaks).  I made one mistake in the pattern toward the top, but it isn't obvious, doesn't affect the function or compromise the strength of the bag, and no one would ever notice -- so "design feature" it is, making the bag my own.  ; )

Dsc00841It is shown, at top, holding three BIG boxes of cereal with room for more -- perhaps a fourth box of cereal and a loaf of bread on top.  There are four towels in the bag at lower left, with PLENTY of room for more towels, sunscreen, lotion, a book.  One of the things I like best about the bag is the garter stitch square that forms a solid bottom.  Any dishcloth cotton would make an excellent, very affordable substitution.  Great pattern.


I need to call myself to attention!  I can't believe how distracted I've become with my knitting.


I think mostly of my elementary teachers when I hear, "Attention!"  Mrs. Pinch (or was it Pynch) in second grade.  I always thought it was so gross when she'd bang her fist against the blackboard for emphasis -- over and over again -- and her upper arm fat would get to jigglin' somethin' awful.  Yeah, I wish I had a different memory of her, too.  Second grade was hard -- new school, and no school friends that I recall.  And be careful about what you're calling gross because that upper arm flab is now a problem of yours truly (but at least I know better than to go 'round banging my fist on things).

I think of Mrs. Gaines (we used to call her Mrs. Gainesburger -- it was a brand of dog food in the day).  She didn't like me.  Third grade was hard -- new school, though our neighborhood was "young" and I was making some friends.  Somehow, by whatever stratetic method Mrs. Gainesburger employed, I was frequently chosen to be room monitor.  Let's just say that it became very clear, in third grade, that monitoring would not be a good career path.  I was giggly and boy crazy and they (the boys) all knew it; it was never long before they'd start clowning around and I'd start giggling, even though I was supposed to be monitoring and -- why wouldn't she just throw my name back in the pot and pick another one?

I don't think of Mrs. Kelly, my first grade teacher, or Mrs. Worcestershire (not her real name), my fourth grade teacher.  They were my favorites and I do believe that I was theirs.  I think it's terrible that I can't remember Mrs. W's name, being one of my favorites and all.

And and a little of Mrs. Schmidlin (or was it Schmidke or Schmidlkofer or just plain Schmidt -- like Shirley) (she of the Friday afternoon music appreciation interludes avec the Boston Pops).  She was supposed to be my sixth grade teacher, too, but I was able to convince my mother otherwise and she made a successful lobby for change.  It was a decision that we'd later both regret.  My mother because my best friend in the new and improved sixth grade class was the daughter of a guy who owned a local strip club and she didn't like that -- in fact, I think I was forbidden from hanging around with her (which I totally ignored, of course).  I think I'd have stretched my wings some in sixth grade, anyway, but maybe not so far.  I had to do a lot of writing-as-punishment work in sixth grade.  Once, I was supposed to write a however-many-thousand-word essay on why I wasn't supposed to do whatever and I ran out of things to say, so finished up by writing, "I will not do whatever it was" however many times necessary to reach the required word count.  It didn't fly and I had to find the words.  Sixth grade was great and I liked Mr. M. (it makes Schmidlkofer look easy), but I think the original plan was probably a good one.

I requested a teacher only once for one of my kids and I ended up regretting that, too.

Did I say I've been distracted with my knitting?  How about my life?  Knitting, blogging, cooking, cleaning, organizing, reading -- oh, look, gardening.

I finished the Plymouth Yarns Fantasy Naturale Market Bag (free pattern) and I'm very happy with it!  It was too dark last night and not enough time this morning for pictures, so hopefully tomorrow.  I worked a bit more on the EZ Baby Surprise Jacket and that will continue tonight, since I'll be knitting out, and there's only about five minutes of work left on Saartje's Bootees (free pdf)...  Maybe I'll feel more focused when these distractions are finished!

Pondering the daisical

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Lady Madame Victoria the Lackadaisical of Londinium-le-Thames
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Courtesy of Her Grace Lady Kathryn and her Studley Roger.

"The Lackadaisical..." couldn't be more true.  I think I'm definitely lacking the daisical today.  It started out okay -- the alarm went off as it should, I got out of bed, made a good strong pot of coffee -- but quickly went downhill. The note on the kitchen table that said, "Mom, You need gas," was definitely a factor.  Finding out that she wasn't kidding -- the gas pump light was illuminated on the dash, indicating a critically high level of need and requiring a stop for gas first thing (on a Monday?) -- definitely took its toll on the daisical.  It is my right, as owner of the car, to hand off the keys in such a manner and I often do (I also, more often than not, hand off the greenbacks to purchase said gas), but someone obviously needs further schooling in Borrowing Mom's Car Etiquette.

This morning's rain is a factor, no doubt.  Windshield wipers slapping time to the radio news, causing almost hypnotic reflection on one of the most sad and bizarre local news weeks in memory.  Three almost incomprehensible, freak accidents that each resulted in a tragic death; lives altered, burdens to bear, reminders of the fragility of life.  There's a beginning, a middle and an end to each life, and (wow) it can change in a blink.

Surprise1Enough with the maudlin.  The sun will come out!  It's already brightening up.  Moving forward...

I'm somewhere in the middle of my Baby Panic Surprise!  I have no idea, but I think I'm closer to the end than the beginning -- and I do believe we're looking at a sleeve.  I love the thick-thin of this yarn -- Arcaunia Magallanes -- and also the colors, from creamy white to limey green to spruce, avocado and olive, punctuated with an aubergine that is nearly black.  I love it.  I think this will be one unexpected (and I daresay sophisticated) baby sweater.  I've changed the background color of the blog to something close.  I think I may have a new favorite color.  Come to think of it, that's darn close to the color of the trim on my house, so maybe I'm being reacquainted with an old favorite.

Okay, so bordering on the random here (but not quite, V., I shall save it for another day)...  I have been accused in the past of skimming the blogs -- and rightfully so, there is no denying, I've even been caught (red-faced!).  There is so much to read and so little time...  Imagine my delight to discover -- on one of my favorite (and most informative blogs) -- that there is, indeed, a time and a place for skimming.  If you're not reading TECHknitting, you're missing out on one of the best resources around.  Pass it on.

Is it Friday yet?

Baby Panic...


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I mean... SURPRISE!  My sister's been pregnant now for, well, about 8 months.  That means that in another month, there will be a baby -- and that, my friends, is no surprise.  That's the way it works.

What is surprising is that I haven't knit a darn thing for the new baby.  I guess I've been figuring that there's plenty of Mack's hand-me-downs available -- booties and socks, hats and sweaters -- and I've been resting on the laurels of my previous baby knitting.  Now, all of a sudden, I'm in baby knitting panic mode.  The new baby simply must have something (or two) new, all his or her own.

On the left, Saartje's Bootees -- New (Red) Shoes -- started on Thursday night with some Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere from a project frogged a while back.  Teensy tiny and very red.  I love my new red shoes, so why not new baby shoes -- "stepping out" into life with style and a little (just a little) splash!

On the right, Araucania Yarns Magallanes.  I have a Baby Surprise Jacket in mind for this -- I hope it works.  I've never knit one before, I've seen some stunners recently, and I have a good reason -- Trifecta!

Oh!  That reminds me!  I accompanied Katie to a tattoo place today -- she wanted to discuss a project she's been working on (and will have a full consult on Monday), and I wanted to browse some designs.  I've been looking on the 'net, mulling over ideas, taking suggestions, but not really finding "it."  Today, I think I found the basis for a "tri" design -- Celtic in nature, but not "too."  It's a very simple design that will not only symbolize my three daughters, but also have room for some personalization by them.  I haven't quite figured that part out yet -- I want something of them, by them, for them -- something that is them -- interlocked with each other, with me, yet separate and unique, and (as we know) individual.  Yeah, still taking suggestions.

Friday's Flowers

Fruity and Freaky!

Blacktulatomato Green

That's a Black From Tula tomato baby -- so far there are three and I expect a few more.  I can't wait to watch them ripen!

I left work a little early yesterday and took a slightly different way home along the river.  The weather was just beginning to change -- and it changed FAST!  Dark clouds from the north quickly took over an otherwise happy blue sky filled with puffy white clouds.  I had to stop and take a picture of the river -- incredibly green, reflecting the strange light.  There was no wind, no rain, no thunder, no lightning -- just this ominous darkness moving in overhead.  Shortly after I got home, the wind started to blow, but that was all -- dark clouds and mighty wind.  I never saw dust blow down my street in a cloud like that before, never saw such wind without rain and ruckus of a big storm -- a more traditional storm.  Lots of twigs and leaves fell, and a few larger branches, and then, finally, it did begin to rain.  The rain lasted for just a short while, and then the clouds moved off and the happy blue sky filled with puffy while clouds returned.

Very freaky.

Dad2 Dad1

Dad3 Dad4

There was an email from my dad this morning -- with flower pics (how very timely) -- so the flower portion of the program is his, direct from the coast of Oregon:  a swallowtail butterfly, poppies, passion flower, and crocosmia.  Thanks, Daddy-O.

One thing leads to another

I was at someone's blog one day last month -- I'll bet it was either Irisheyes Kathy B or Yarn Miracle Emily -- and there was mention of a fairie naming contest on another blog.  I had never been to Jen's before, but I toddled over and did a little reading and then entered her contest.  Lo and Behold, I Won.  Mmm-hm...

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Dsc00812A lovely selection of stitch markers, hand-dyed cotton yarn in the softest shade of pink -- lovely, really -- a notepad, some tea and chocolate, all in a cute Ruby June bag that'll be perfect for keeping a small project together.  Thank you, Jen!

So, I was catching up on Jen's blog this morning and she mentioned Anne of Green Gables, which made me think, of course, of Colleen Dewhurst.  She's been popping in and out of my head for a while now, and I remember that I've been meaning to queue up a selection of films.

Colleen Dewhurst.  Sometimes it's like I have a need to hear her voice -- a voice like no other -- that marvelous voice, matched with her incredibly warm smile and, oh, the sparks of life and love in those eyes.  Many a great thing has come out of Canada, and she is simply the best!

In the course of writing this post, I've reserved her autobiography at the library, along with an audio book of Isak Dinesen stories read by her and a few movies, and also updated my Netflix queue.  I do so love the internet.

I bought some 15US circs last night (using a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby -- yay!) and commenced the in-the-round part of the Fantasy Naturale Market Bag, a free pattern from Plymouth Yarn Co.  I like this pattern because of the garter stitch square it begins with, which makes a nice, solid bottom for the bag; the handle construction looks very clever, too.  I intend to make a couple/few of these things using different patterns and yarns -- Elisa's Nest Tote at Purl Bee is next -- to use at the farmers' markets and to complement the canvas bags I use at the grocery store.  Watch for the Green Meme, inspired by Birdsong and Carole!

Grandfather rocks

One of the reasons I get on so well with many of DH's relatives is because of things like "grandfather rocks."  His cousin Chris and her husband, Don, built a house about 10 years ago on a parcel that was once part of the family farm.  Whose family farm? His family? Hers?  Both!

Research has shown that DH & Chris's grandparents bought and worked a farm that was once owned by Don's grandparents.  They did not know that when they purchased the property (here is where the genealogical spark becomes a flame) and have since made a wonderful commemorative with pictures and dates.  As facts became clear, stories began to unfold and Don and Chris learned that both of their dads had been put to work, by their respective fathers, piling up rocks that surfaced in fields as the land was worked.  These piles of rocks dot the farm property to this day and are affectionately known as The Grandfather Rocks.  Chris has used many of them to border flower beds, walkways and other landscaping features -- and there are neat, ready piles of material for as many more as she could ever want.

DH's grandparents named the farm using a combination of their given names -- a name that they'd be proud to see is still in use today -- and a road that borders the farm is named the same.  Various old painted wood signs from around the farm have been rescued over the years and are proudly displayed by family members, and highly coveted by others.  I'll admit it -- me -- it's mostly me -- I covet the signs, especially the one that shaped like a shield.  I'm not even really family, just married-in.  Makes no difference.

Truth be told, I covet the rocks, too.  Mostly, though, it makes my heart sing that lowly piles of rocks and painted wood signs can command and hold such reverence, that all the things they represent still do, too, after all these years.  I think it's a little like this family's "Midas touch."  It's corny.  I know.

Northern fiber stops & an FO

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Celtic1Celtic Braid Socks #157 from Cabin Fever, finished Sunday morning al fresco on the deck overlooking Mud Hen Lake near Grantsburg, WI.  These were worked in pewter Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock from Iris Fine Yarns in Appleton.  The pattern was ordered by email/phone/mail from Yellow Dog Knitting in Eau Claire (excellent customer service there, folks; Carole can vouch for 'em, too).  I'm not so crazy about the color distribution in the second sock (one reason for setting them aside last year), but they're socks -- who else is really gonna care?  The pattern and semi-solid yarn were a nice match overall, and I do love them -- especially that braided cable!

I was so happy to add these to my list of projects in the brand new "Knotty Knits" group on Ravelry.  If -- when -- you're Ravel-rousing and you share a passion for the cable, whether you are a connoisseur and collector of the cable needle or do without, I hope you'll join, too!

To prepare for our quick weekend trip to the north, but not being sure of our exact route or how much fiber time I'd actually be able to negotiate, I threw together a Knitting In Wisconsin Google Map using mostly my sidebar list of Wisconsin resources (both map and list are perpetual works in progress) (oh, look, here's someone else's map).  I left off places along the way that I've been to before and came up with a list of five likely suspects possibilites in the general area of our destination -- Northwind Book & Fiber in Spooner, Wool Farm Crafts in Grantsburg, Pins 'n Needles in St. Croix Falls, Mrs. I's Yarn Parlor in Osceola, and Highland Hollow Emporium in Elmwood.  I'm inclined to think that Pins 'n Needles is actually more of a quilt shop, so in the end I was able to make it to two of the remaining four suspected "yarn" stores.

North1DH must have read my mind, as he planned our course first across the state, then north on Hwy. 53 to Spooner before hanging a left on 70 for the final leg.  I said, "Hey, Spooner's on my list!"  We entered town just as roadways were being blocked in preparation for a big rodeo parade, but we persevered, found parking and made our way to Northwind Book & Fiber.  I left a happy DH in a very nice book area and made my way to fiber in the rear of the store -- also skirting and dipping into the arts and crafts area a little bit.  It's a very large store with lots of room, high ceilings, good light -- one of DH's cousins said that she thought they recently expanded/remodeled.  I found a pretty good selection of yarn, needles and tools, including the 5US DPNs on my list, and I bought two hanks of Plymouth Yarn's Fantasy Naturale to make a FN Market Bag.  There was also a pretty good selection of related books.  There's a nice list of classes for those in the area, and plenty of knitted samples -- in fact, there was a recent class for the Market Bag and the sample is what sold it to me.

By that time on Saturday, the reunion was already well underway and time was short -- I considered myself lucky to have made one stop.  We visited with the aunts and uncles and cousins and my-oh-my, there were lots of babies, too!  As is the case in many a large farm family, some of DH's cousins are parents to newborns and some are grandparents to newborns (and even older -- like up to 9 or 10).  ; )

On Sunday morning, I decided that I wanted to see Grantsburg proper, having been in the area a few times, but never actually "downtown."  I truly, truly mourn the loss of Small Town America and crossroads country stores.  I'm thankful that freeways and interstates can get me where I'm going (mostly quickly and mostly safely) and that shopping centers and malls are oftentimes convenient -- but not always.  I'm not sure that the resulting strings of ghost towns dotting the land isn't really the short end of the stick.  Ah, the good ol' days.  I'll tell you, I have wished more and more often recently that there was a nice, convenient, small market in walking distance of my home.  There used to be a few.  Yeah, anyway -- how about another fiber story!

It just so happens that I knew, being in downtown Grantsburg, we were already half-way to Wool Farm CraftsImagine that!  I also happened to have their address and phone number handy, and a few available roaming minutes, so I had a little chat with Amy regarding whether she was open and directions and then told her, "We're on our way!"  I knew that this shop was going to be more fiber/spinning related than yarn/knitting, but I also know that the end result of fiber/spinning is usually YARN.  The odds of finding something of interest were good, plus I got to pet some lovely wheels.  She was admittedly low on yarn and preparing for the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair in Crystal Lake, IL (July 20-22), but I managed.  I couldn't resist a small hank of mixed barberpole, some brazilwood indigo dyed, and some yummy brown alpaca.  A few more pics (including close-ups) at Flickr.

Wool1 Wool2 Wool3

Amy will also be at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival (Sept. 7-9) and already had the book!  Which means that I have one, too!

Saturday Sky


P.M. version.  This was our view from the cabin and deck on Mud Hen Lake where we stayed over on Saturday night.  Looks wonderful, doesn't it?  And it was.  It was also HOT HOT HOT!  I enjoyed this same view, along with a slight breeze, on Sunday morning as I finished off the Celtic Braid Socks!

DH and I made a whirlwind weekend trip to far NW Wisconsin for a party -- part celebration of his aunt and uncle's 60th wedding anniversary, part family reunion.  I'd been on the fence about it for weeks -- right up until Friday evening, but his northwoods relatives won me over years ago with their warmth and generosity.  Plus, the deal was sweetened with the promise of fiber stops along the way.  More on that tomorrow!

Sock it to me

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On the left, this morning's Saturday Sky from the back porch.  On the right, a (possibly Saturday) sky from about a year ago -- probably on our way up to the lake or to my sister's.  I'm up early on this Saturday to prepare for a quick weekend road trip.  Can't leave without feeding the blog, though.  It's predicted to be 95 or so on Sunday, but only the high 70s on Monday, so I imagine there will be some drama in the sky between the two -- maybe like that!  Yay.

Happy weekend!  I ought to have a finished pair of socks at the end -- yeah, wool socks -- on one of the hottest days of the year.

Flowers (and Foliage) on Friday

BalloonbudIt's a picture-heavy post, for which I do apologize, but the hostas were calling for attention last night.  First up, though, is promise.  I get positively giddy every year in anticipation of the balloon flowers.  They truly do look at lot like this (oh, that's on my list of things to do*), except not so big and all purple.  They've been spreading and my love only grows.  They are utterly fascinating.

Weekend plans?  Up in the air.  (Heh.)  It's possible that I'll be spending many hours in the car, which means that I ought to have a finished pair of Celtic Braid Socks, and possibly that Fixation + Bikini Top (= Fixini).  (I can't help it -- it's like an affliction or a disease, a compulsion -- I have to give these things a catchy name!)  The hold-up is locating free needles of the correct size and type.

Campanula Coral

The flowers:  Campanula and Coral Bells.  The Coral Bells always draw me in at the nursery, second only to hostas!

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Blue Angel in the back, I'm not sure of the variety in the foreground (it sure is pretty, though!); Golden Tiara on the right.

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Elegans; Francis Williams.

Hosta5 Hosta6

Sum and Substance.

Hosta7 Hosta8

Guacamole; and that same one I'm not sure of again.

Hosta Library is a fantastic resource.  I think I link to them every time I post about hostas!

*My book club is reading The Next Thing On My List and we're all coming up with our own (shorter) lists to share at the meeting.

May as well be random

It sure feels like Monday!  I had last Monday off, and again this Monday, and with the holiday smack-dab in the middle of the week... it'll be a while before things feel "normal" around here.

*KNOCKING ON WOOD* and *REPHRASING THE EXPLETIVES*  I think it was a false alarm with the washing machine, a little hiccup while spinning.  I will be monitoring operations very closely, but I won't say/demand/threaten anything more for fear of The Jinx.

I turned the heel on my Celtic Braid Sock (scroll down a bit) while watching the Boston Pops!  When I was in fifth grade, back in the day of Arthur Fiedler, my whole class listened to the Boston Pops every Friday afternoon.  My teacher was a huge fan!  We could read or write, even put our heads down on the desk and take a little nap -- any quiet activity, so as not to interfere with Arthur's good work.  I suppose she was doing her best to enlighten us, force a little cultcha on us.  It definitely created my soft spot for the Pops -- obviously, I think of Friday afternoons in fifth grade and that teacher every single time, and I didn't even like her very much.

4 more films I can watch again and again
- The Wizard of Oz
- Showboat
- To Kill A Mockingbird
- North by Northwest

The other day, when I was cleaning in the upstairs kitchen, I ran across a newspaper clipping about my brother's accident that Alison must have clipped -- the date written at the bottom was in her handwriting.  There was a picture of Michael's completely smushed up car with rescue workers standing around and the headline stated that he was still in critical condition.  That was 16 months ago.  Mike and his wife met us at the local farmers' market last Saturday and as I watched him walk toward me, I remember thinking, "He sure walks funny."  The operative words, of course, are "he" and "walks."  He walks, he talks, he thinks, he drives, he plays guitar, he lives and breathes.  Emergency brain surgery, back surgery, five weeks in the hospital (most of them in ICU), many more weeks in a body brace, more weeks after that recuperating and in therapy.  He will never be the same (he's at least an inch or two shorter -- and he walks funny), will never be pain-free, but he is.

It was a day-to-day fnancial struggle for a while.  The bills still keep coming, even when you're on life support!  Disability insurance helped a little, and Michael used up a TON of vacation time (that goodness he had a bunch saved up), but his wife took family leave from work -- unpaid, of course -- and it took a while to get back to "normal."

Gse_multipart5137I bring this up because of Annie Modesitt and what her family is dealing with right now -- because it's not just Right Now -- it was a couple of weeks ago, and today, and tomorrow, and next week...  It is not breaking news, you've seen it all 'round blogland and read about it before, as have I, and perhaps you've already donated -- maybe more than once -- but it bears repeating.

Larger Than Life Dilemma and The Power of Four

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I guess draperies aren't very heavy and I should have stuck to hauling only yarn in the Larger Than Life Bag!  This is going to be kind of a pain to fix.  The bigger pain, at the moment, is that I think my washing machine is busted again.  I'm sitting here listening to it behind me... not spinning.

>insert all of your favorite expletives here, and I promise I won't delete a single one<

I can't find my receipt from the recent repair, but I did find the carbon copy of my check...  April 5th.  That's, like, 90 days tomorrow.  I honestly don't remember if it was 30 days or 90 days and/or a year and which corresponded to parts and which to labor.

>insert all those expletives again, with emphasis!<

Dsc00704We had an early Fourth of July cookout -- shishkabobs on the grill and Mom brought some Death By Chocolate -- and it's actually my red, white & blue bunting in the washing machine -- a little late, but it'll be up on the Fourth.  DH & Maddy took off for the "beach" -- Wisconsin's "east coast" on Lake Michigan -- and Katie had to work late and Ali's working double shifts, but it's holiday pay and -- well, at the moment, I'm home alone and not too happy with developments.

On a happier note, Lynne received the Special Swap "In The Garden" package that I sent and, oh, I couldn't be happier with her response.  I had so much fun putting it all together and trying some new things!  The next swap theme is "Picnic" and that's going to be fun to play around with, too!

Deb tagged me with a Power of 4 Meme and I thought it was appropriate -- here's my Four for the Fourth:

4 Jobs I have had in my life (other than being a mother)
- Typesetter
- Proofreader
- Library assistant
- Sales -- My dad is a natural-born salesman and once, when I worked for him as a typesetter on the weekly shopping guide he published, he thought I might follow in his footsteps.  They were awfully big shoes to fill and I wasn't too confident or outgoing or comfortable in my own shoes, never mind his, so I never really bothered to put that on my resume.  These days, however, I do feel more confident (most days) and outgoing (sometimes) and definitely more comfortable in my own shoes (especially my new, red Keens) and I'm not trying to fill anyone else's shoes, and I can't believe I'm even saying this, but I've actually thought about trying sales again -- it would have to be something I love, love, love, of course.

4 films I can watch again and again
- Shawshank Redemption
- The Sound of Music
- Oklahoma!
- The Godfather Part II

4 places I have lived
- Denver, CO
- Pacific City, OR
- St. Louis, MO
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada

4 TV series I watch
- Grey's Anatomy
- Ugly Betty
- Antiques Roadshow
- Law and Order (any and all)

4 places I have been on holiday
- Grand Marais, MI
- "At the lake"
- Lake Geneva, WI
- Disneyland

4 things I do every time I go on the Net
- check my email
- check the blogs
- check Ravelry
- check my email again

4 things I would NOT eat for anything in the world
- escargot
- octopus
- tongue
- bugs

4 places I would love to be right now
- a yarn store with no money limits (that was Deb's answer and it's a good one!)
- in Italy or Greece or somewhere in the Mediterranean
- traveling the US North America in an RV (that was Deb's answer, too!)
- knitting with friends

4 people to tag
- up for grabs, folks

I think there was some of that Death By Chocolate left over and it sounds pretty good right now!  I was going to sew, but I think I won't test the machines anymore today.  I made good progress on the second Celtic Braid Sock at Knit Night yesterday and I think I'll carry on with that -- closing in on the heel!

Food, glorious food

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I made dinner last night and I did good.  Mmmm, tilapia -- "Josh's Fish In A Flash" from Dinner Helpers.  I'll tell you, the best thing about Dinner Helpers is that I try new things -- new foods and new dishes, or at least dishes that I never thought I could make.  I actually made Pad Thai a couple of weeks ago -- and it was good!  I usually hesitate buying different types of fish, because I'm a little particular about it -- but now I know, I love tilapia.  I made potatoes and green beans, too, but the mozzarella and tomato salad (with a little salt and pepper, some fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil) along with a little bit of bread was plenty.

Huh?  Knitting?  I tore out what I'd started on the second Celtic Braid Sock and started anew on Friday.  I didn't get a whole bunch of knitting time over the weekend (Mack was here!), but I'm several repeats in and it's going well.  I'm starting to get anxious about a new, finished pair of socks!

It's a weird week work-wise, and I'm going to have to let things stand at that for now.