Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Today will be our first 80 F / 26 C degree day. The first real temperature change always throws me for a loop. I either over estimate or under estimate how warm or cool it’s going to get and end up dressing inappropriately. I have no illusions of getting it right today.

In other news, Yarn Rascal has decided he’s a hunter this year. His breed has no hunting genes, but that doesn’t seem to stop him. He runs from window to window and door to door yipping and growling as he whips himself up into a small lunatic. All the animals are moving this time of year, but we don’t know which one in particular is setting him off.

His breed is known to wander. The yard is large and bordered by woods on three sides, so the Rascal is always on a leash when he’s outside. It is quite an exercise for the arms walking him when he is in hunting mode. On the upside, yarn is the farthest thing from his mind when he is hunting.

It is also the growing season. Racks and racks of seedlings are sitting downstairs under grow lights, getting the tending that all seedlings need. Some have been repotted already, others are just reaching the repotting stage. I can’t complain about The Skipper this year, because I’ve added a significant number of seedlings to take us over the normal amount. Once again I have meticulously researched and sought out specific flowering plants that deer and rabbits don’t eat. I’ve selected color and the texture of the foliage so that it is a harmonious mix. Something enjoyable to look at during the summer. I’ve made sure that the plants are beneficial to birds, bees, and butterflies. Usually the whole scenario ends badly. Either the deer or rabbits decide to extend their menu options or The Skipper, in his infinite wisdom, mistakenly pulls them up thinking they are weeds. I am going to do my best to try and avoid those scenarios this year.

Knitting has taken place. Pictures will be forth coming. One baby sweater is ready for public release. The second is ready for test knitters. The third is trying my serenity, but is close to done…providing the yarn holds out. Yes, I may have miscalculated yardage. Yes, it is a specific hand-dyed colorway that cannot be matched. Yes, the bonnet is crucial to the look of the overall design. No, I don’t know what I am going to do if I run out of yarn. To make it even more interesting, I used scrap yarn from my stash for a color accent. I thought I had enough of that yarn too. But now I don’t know. I’ve tossed the stash to find more, but came up with nothing. This is masochistic knitting at its best. Still, I knit on.

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The Cheshire Cat arrived yesterday. The answer to the design dilemma was always right in front of me on the initial sketch I made. I had, in a moment of hieroglyphical madness, written “. st”. Because I am making lantern sleeves, (I call them blousey sleeves, the fashion industry uses the term lantern), I had channeled my inner anal-ness and documented the sleeves and cuffs in detail, along with all the sizing numbers and math work that goes with it. So “. st” got lost amid all the data. In short, the plan was to use “Dot Stitch” as the body pattern. Knitting will commence this weekend.

In other news, I bought more MadTosh Sock Yarn. I really wanted to start a shawl I’ve been meaning to get to, but I have had this design rolling around in my head for The Skipper’s next pair of socks and while I was perusing MadTosh Sock Yarn on the Web I just happened to see the precise color I had in mind. The design is tentatively titled Ghost Love.

In the gardening news, we have tons of tomatoes on our plants, but few are ripening. The handful that have ripened have end blossom rot. This does not look promising and I may not be able to make my year’s worth of tomato sauce. The lettuce did very well, as did the beans and carrots. The kale is magnificent. The cucumbers are plentiful, the onion and garlic did well. The beets were bountiful. The corn is looking good. It just the tomatoes.

Have a great weekend.

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Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year, magical.

Greet day with Sun Salutation Yoga Routine. Pull back muscle. Realize neck is no longer hurting.

Say hello to the roses that have miraculously bloomed after a horrendous winter. Talk to them. Enjoy their beauty and intoxicating scents. Decide a few blooms would look lovely in the kitchen. Search for clippers. Time passes, birds are singing, continue searching. Discover clippers in shadowy corner amid cobwebs. When selecting blooms get shirt caught in thorns of rose bush. Struggle to separate self from rose bush. While fighting, wonder if plant has a carnivorous side. Emerge from rose gathering with torn shirt, scratches that look like I’ve just gone a few rounds with a wild tiger, and no blooms.

Change shirt, clean scratches. Dance through the warm grass in bare feet. Delight in the feel of earth on my way up to the garden. Perform a small pirouette then a small jete of joy, land on a bee. Return to house moving as smoothly as a car with a flat tire. Have The Skipper remove the stinger. Take a Benedryl, ice the sting area. Appreciate the gentle breeze lightly scented with honeysuckle wafting through the window. As the curtain gracefully billows notice the windowsill really needs cleaning.

With a sneaker on one foot, a flip-flop on the swollen one, and Yarn Rascal on his leash, hobble outside at 8:30 at night. Marvel at the lingering light. See the first lightening bugs of the year float up from the grass and twinkle like so many fairies. Restrain Yarn Rascal who wants to chase them. Stand like a flamingo on one leg, Yarn Rascal taut at the end of his leash. Listen as the birds settle for the night in their nests and the frogs begin to croak. Hear the drone of a small jet plane near my ear, gently push it away; caught up in the beauty of nature. Scream when the small jet plane of a mosquito lands on my scratched arm. Hobble inside as fast as I can dragging Yarn Rascal all the way. Give thanks that the longest day of the year is over.

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A Taste of Summer

The height of my weekend was seeing my first Cedar Waxwing Bird up close.

Cedar Waxwing4

As beautiful as the bird is in this picture from the Cornell University bird site, it is even more beautiful in real life. The brown leans towards a purple in certain light and perfectly blends into the yellow on its chest. I would love to spend time with this bird this season sketching and making color notes. From the Cleopatra eyeliner around the eyes to the way the color blends on the body it is a bird begging to be painted against the backdrop of the light we get in the Hudson River Valley.

I haven’t really spent time looking at him artistically, because every glimpse I get just makes my jaw drop and I get caught up in the bird’s awesomeness.

I am so blessed to live where I do, so I can enjoy the animal life around. Nature has its non-Disney World side, but I’m not going down that path today.

My plan for the Cedar Waxwing is some sketches, then some photography, make a palette of the colors, mixing until I get it right and perhaps by the end of Autumn have something worthy to show.

Yarn Rascal has been very good lately. Though he has been off his feed. When an dog goes off its feed I get nervous. I always research a pet food company meticulously, where it sources it food, where its made, how much testing of the materials goes on, how many recalls. I also check them on the US Pet Food Recall lists published regularly. This week I gathered enough information to make a switch from Halo to Organix by Castor and Pollux. Rascal loves his new food. I am happy when he is healthy and happy.

The Skipper, however, hasn’t fared as well. Between the knitting problems, Yarn Rascal’s lack of eating problem, and my round the clock hot flashes which make already hot days even hotter and sap any decent energy I have, The Skipper has had to eat catch as catch can. With the lettuces and spinach in the garden coming in strong I’ll get my dinners from now until September from the garden. Along with a fresh fruit smoothie made from fresh strawberries, pineapples, banana, and coconut that satisfies me all summer long. But The Skipper needs more that just lettuces to thrive. And smoothies are not him. He likes nothing better than grilling meat along with potatoes and vegetables followed by home baked blueberry muffins. Last year I found a great blueberry muffin recipe that has yogurt, wheat germ, whole wheat flour and coconut oil. So now it is tradition to keep him in fresh blueberry muffins during the summer and home-made iced green tea to go along with it.

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The Yarn Rascal is in top form today. Wednesday he had his traumatic bath. The howling, he’s a Bichon and not a Beagle, began the instant he and the water met. I told The Skipper to close all the windows or else the neighbors will think we’re finally killing the little imp. The howling is accompanied by repeated, unending attempts to jump out of the bathtub. Soap suds and water go everywhere, and in the end the bathroom tiles resemble a Jackson Pollock painting, if of course he’d painted in water and suds.


Thursday the Yarn Rascal got groomed. We groom him ourselves. I had 16 years experience clipping my first Bichon, Sport. Sport was a groomer’s nightmare, which was why I had to learn how to take care of him. Yarn Rascal is quite a bit easier. So easy in fact that he tends to fall asleep. But once the weight of the hair is off him the only speed he knows for the rest of the day is full tilt. He rips around the house, rips through his walks outside, he’s crazy. Both The Skipper and I stay as active as we can at our ages, but we are no match for the Yarn Rascal. By bedtime The Skipper and I were falling asleep in our respective chairs, and the little monster was still ripping from room to room.

Today is food shopping, running to the vet for heartworm medication for you-know-who, making tomato sauce (will this summer ever end?), baking zucchini bread, and worrying that all the knitting books I have on loan from the library are overdue. I can’t find the slip of paper that tells me because you-know-who shredded it and ate it. I could go online to check, but I don’t know my library card number off-hand.

This weekend I am blocking the Cape Ann Afghan. Yes, I decided that since most of the birds have migrated out of here, I will set up the saw horses and block it on the patio. It will certainly be safe from Yarn Rascal, and hopefully not be target practice for bird poop. Stupidity and hope forever spring eternal.

And now a word about knitting baby sweaters with collars. Collars on sweaters should be reserved for the 12 mos to 24 mos old set. At the older ages the baby spends more of its time upright. Babies 3 mos to 9 mos spend most of their time on their backs in a car seat, stroller, crib, or lap. A collar on a sweater at these ages just ends up bolstered uncomfortably behind the base of the baby’s skull. The front of the collar ends up in baby’s face, and the caretaker is continually having to smooth it down. A collar at the 3 mos to 9 mos age also makes bibs fit tighter around the throat of the baby. Bibs are crucial during the drooling stage when the baby is cutting teeth. My nephew drooled so much I worried he’d dehydrate. I knew St. Bernard’s that drooled less. So, while baby may start sitting up on its own around 9 mos, the drooling stage is in full swing and collars on sweaters are a nuisance that can be done without. 12 mos to 24 mos can handle collars better. Their necks are distinguishable enough to keep the collar out of their face and where it belongs. Bibs are not being worn by this age group around the clock.

A baby at 3 mos to 9 mos is developmentally different than one at 12 to 24 mos. The 12 to 24 mos are upright, walking. The 3 mos to 9 mos spend a significant amount of time lying on their backs, they twist and turn when supine. They crawl, rock back and forth on hands and knees. The types of movements between the two ages groups is significantly different. Dresses, matinee coats, tunic sweaters are not for the 3 mos to 9 mos group. The lengths hinder their twisting, turning, crawling, rocking movements that are essential developmental skills. Dresses, matinee coats, tunic sweaters can be worn by the 12 mos to 24 mos group. They are upright, walking. Since the types of movements between the two groups are so different, not all patterns are necessarily appropriate for all age groups.

Next up, a moment of calm. The water lily in our Serenity Pond in bloom:

water lily

I don’t have any idea how the ant got there. Do they swim?

Have a good weekend.

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Things are really moving along here. I am inundated with tomatoes. As usual, they all ripen at once. It means lots of time spent in the kitchen making tomato sauce and putting it up in the freezer for winter eating. This is also when we draw heavily on our onions, garlic, parsley and oregano.

And the zucchini just keep on coming! I’ve put them in salads, paired them with stewed tomatoes, and of course the old time-consuming standby, zucchini bread. Most days the kitchen looks like someone went crazy in it after all the cooking and baking are done. I restore order, then the next day I end up with the same mess. I keep telling myself I will appreciate all the work during the winter months.

The beans are coming in too. But they are easier to deal with and prepare for storage because The Skipper handles all things beans.

In the meantime, I have a shawl to photograph. The November Woods Shawl is going to be a free pattern. The Skipper needs to do the camera work and getting him to do that takes the exact same amount of labor it takes to put the kitchen back in order day after day.

Bath time is on the immediate horizon for the Yarn Rascal. He hates wet. In fact, it almost borders on a phobia with him. It’s full out wrestling and this afternoon is the match date.

In the meanwhile, the animals have been plentiful and visible around here. Here is The Skipper’s photograph of a Red Admiral Butterfly.

red admiral butterfly

The butterflies have been plentiful this year, but no Monarchs. It seems their habitat in Mexico has been destroyed. I miss them.

A word now about knitting or crocheting a baby sweater. The reason why there is usually no armhole shaping, especially on the 3 mos to 9 mos old sizes, is that babies at that age don’t really have shape. The diaper negates any waist a baby might have, so waist shaping is not practical. Also, many babies don’t have well-defined shoulders. A baby’s bones are more pliable than adult bones because the baby’s body needs to move through the confined space of the birth canal in order to be born. Sometimes the result is not well-defined shoulders. Where shaping is needed, however, is the neck.

Look at a baby. It is basically, with the help of diapers, two bowling balls on top of each other with tiny legs and tiny arms. The biggest feature on a baby is its head. The feature most lacking on a 3 mos to 9 mos old is a neck. The neck does not distinguish itself until 10 mos. It is quite distinguishable by 12 mos. Why shaping is needed most around the neck for the 3 to 9 mos old is to prevent constriction around the throat. Keep it loose around the neckline. Cardigans are good because they have a loose neckline. The very top button on a baby cardigan should be 3/4″ (2) cm from the top edge of the sweater. Sweaters with V-necks, boat necks, sweetheart necklines, keyhole necklines, square necklines, any neckline that doesn’t constrict the throat area is good.

Friday I’ll ask why designers put collars on sweaters for 3 mos to 9 mos olds and why designs that go from 3 mos up to 24 mos usually don’t work.

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Friday and things are hopping here. The Yarn Rascal who was MIA for the last 15 minutes just jumped into my lap all happy with himself. He’s done something dastardly, I just know it, and it has to do with yarn. It’s wet and rainy so it is not his kind of day. He hates being wet on any part of his body, including his feet. From the weather, it looks like today he won’t get his requisite number of walks to help lessen his puppy energy, which means yarn disasters, shredding, and gnawing on cables and electrical wires. When he is tired, he doesn’t have the energy to do these things, although you can see it in his eyes that he wants to.

The Skipper shot these three pictures of a yellow warbler who is frequenting our Serenity Garden. I think it has such a cute face.

yellow warbler c1

yellow warbler c2

yellow warbler c3

We specifically designed the Serenity Garden with birds and butterflies in mind. Year after year, it doesn’t disappoint.

The Cape Ann Afghan is 75% complete. I am crocheting the border and plan to block it Sunday. I’ve settled on a large plywood board over two saw horses as the blocking table in the garage. The garage is a complete out of bounds area for the Yarn Rascal so the afghan will be safe there. I’m going to cover the plywood with towels. It will probably take a few days to dry. I was worried that I might not have enough yarn to finish but the fear was unfounded. Yeah, something finally worked out right!

I’ll spend the rest of my day tech editing the Victorian Baby Coat pattern. I completed the schematics yesterday. The plan is to finish editing the fronts today and then edit the sleeves tomorrow, all the while being aware of the saying about how plans of mice and men go astray.

Have a great weekend!

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As I was running from errand to errand, the front of a card caught my eye in a store window. It said something like what would you be doing if you knew you wouldn’t fail at it? That put a little stutter in my step. What would I be doing?

At first I was running through jobs that would follow my interests: Painting with birds as my specialty, working in a museum restoring and preserving old books, sheep farming has always been a life-long desire with an alpaca or four thrown in—they are just so cute.

As I continued my errands, I started to think about the question in a different way. I felt it was assuming that I was currently not doing what I wanted and I was unhappy. I allowed the fear of failure to stop me. But this is not the case. If I allowed the fear of failure to stop me, frankly I wouldn’t be getting out of bed in the morning. I am happy with my present. I am at peace with myself and what I do. If I was meant to do something different I’d be doing it. The way Fate works in my life, I wouldn’t have a chance to do anything but what I should be doing at the moment.

Right now I have stacks of zucchini sitting on the kitchen counter that I need to deal with, as they are having the same effect on my nerves as a stack of live torpedos.

The Skipper planted 37 tomato plants—what was he thinking—and each plant is loaded with tomatoes. Soon I am going to be elbow deep in making tomato sauce and freezing it.

The cucumbers, beans, kale, all need to be harvested and used. The fall crops of lettuces need planting and I’d like to get the garlic in so we have a crop next season.

In the meantime, I have managed to make mistake after mistake on the afghan. Suddenly, I can’t seem to attach the motifs to the right part of the afghan. I suppose being able to fully unfold the thing and see exactly where I am would help, but the Yarn Rascal just lives for the chance of that happening. Paws, claws, mouth, and teeth would all have to be disengaged from the afghan many times before I could identify where I am working. By the time I fold it back up and sit down to work I will have lost my place again for sure.

So what would I rather be doing? Nothing. I’m right good where I am at.

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A myriad of things need my attention today. A list maker I am not. I find it too organized, and in being too organized, too constricting. I know what needs to get done, I’m not that forgetful yet. (Still searching for the baby sweater skein of yarn I hid from the Yarn Rascal. And it’s been years since I’ve seen the box cutter I hid from The Skipper so I would be able to find it when I needed it.) But let’s not digress.

I have tech editing on a pattern for a client to do. I need to contact her with some questions. It’s a lovely pattern, that’s about all I can say right now. When it becomes available I’ll show you the pictures.

I need to get the pictures and videos off The Skipper’s cell phone and onto his computer. Not a small task as the phone has no drivers to sync it with the computer. The maker of the phone wrote me a small tome on ways I might be able to do this. Who makes a phone that can’t transfer pictures and video to a computer? Kyocera. At the time, I begged The Skipper not to get that phone. Now it falls to me to deal with it.

The zucchini are out of control in the garden. I have six loaves of zucchini bread stored in the freezer and still the zucchini are amassing on the kitchen counter. I have bought so much organic flour that the checkout person at the store asked if I was starting a bakery. Seven more zucchini appeared over night. I don’t want to develop a phobia, but I am starting to fear going into the kitchen in the morning.

My camera broke. Yes, little black plastic pieces, can’t repair those, just broke off. The Skipper’s remedy for everything that falls to pieces is duct tape. Here are 3 pictures it took before the little black pieces broke.

yellow sunflower

I love having sunflowers in the vegetable garden. They make me smile, and I don’t have to bake them into bread.

red sunflower

I love my Echinacea too, but they don’t seem to have done well this year.


The Yarn Rascal needs bathing and grooming, all of which I do. Since his access to yarn has been severely limited, he has developed a new talent: shredding. But that is another post entirely.

Also on the list that I don’t make of things to get done is knitting the sleeves of the baby sweater. The math is complete, now I need to find a block of time to sit down and knit. Yeah, right.

The afghan needs at least two more rows of motifs to make it 60 inches long. Why did I think that 10 rows measuring 5 inches each equaled 60 inches? Lucky me, I decided to measure it just to make sure it was long enough before I started the border.

Finally, food shopping for something to eat with the zucchini, and while it is embarrassing, I need more flour.

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Go, little brook, and wish to all
Flowers in the garden, meat in the hall,
A bin of wine, a spice of wit,
A house with lawns enclosing it,
A living river by the door,
A nightingale in the sycamore!

Robert Louis Stevenson Envoy

The two fronts of the baby sweater are done and I will block the back along with them today. I hope to start at least one sleeve today. I am reworking the numbers regarding length and width. The stitch count of the border pattern and eyelet pattern has to agree with the width requirements. To work it out I need a block of quiet time where all my attention can be given to finding the solution to the problem. The obstacle to this is the Yarn Rascal. He is feeling much better and is up to his old tricks along with some new ones he must have cogitated on while staying quiet during his recuperation. The cone is off his little head and the house and all its nooks and crannies is his oyster once again.

I am also getting close to needing the second skein of yarn for the sweater set. I bought two and hid the other one so the Yarn Rascal wouldn’t get it. The problem? I don’t remember where I hid it. But let me take one issue at a time today.

Outside we are in high summer. Everything is drying up and browning nicely, especially the grass. We had nothing but rain from March to early June. Now not a drop.

The deer are eating the pears from the pear tree.

bambi deer

This is good. Nutrients and water are what they need. The pear tree is unusually full of fruit this year. And it is all for the deer.

pear tree

A handful of sunflowers have made an appearance. I love sunflowers in a vegetable garden.


sunflower 2

Many more should be on the way. The birds love the seeds.

Surprisingly all the hot weather has not caused our lettuce to bolt.


Our zucchini is doing its amazonian thing. Each day we pick zucchini and the next day there’s more. We are inundated with zucchini. We use it in salads. I make bread with it which I store in the freezer for eating during the winter.


The Yarn Rascal has just dashed by with a skein of yarn. However, it is not the particular skein I am searching for, I can tell by the flash of color it’s not. Maybe I’ll slip out to our local library for some quiet time and leave the little one to daddy.

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