Sunday, May 30, 2010

I LIED ...

There was a promise made which involved NOT bringing the garden to you again until it was full and abundant.  Turns out that this is easier said than done.  You see, there are many more gardens.  One last black iris -

This is 'New Dawn' and she is truly lovely.  She emerged this morning and I was so excited.
Her blossoms mimic the shade of a ballerina slipper.  She fills my vases and rooms with her soapy-clean fragrance and makes me long for a proper rose garden so that I might have cuttings all season!  Her thorny boughs are a safe haven for the house wrens and sparrows.  And I have seen the Cooper hawk turn away from that hurtful maize in mid hunt - opting for a safer and less painful lunch elsewhere!
The honeysuckle bloomed today as well.  Lonicera ... the scent is unreal - wafting out over the entire property.
It's become so dense and prolific that one has to duck in order to get into the potting shed!  If you need something to climb a fence or stand in as a wall - this is for you.  And your backyard bees will be happy as well as the little sparrows who will build their nests in this vertical thicket!
My early lavender with the helleborus as a backdrop.  I don't have much success with lavendula in this garden as it takes a beating from the north wind.  To my mind, one can never have enough lavender.  I need to scout a location and set in a few dozen new plants.  
My 'Endless Summer" hydrangeas are astonishing - I've never seen such bloom on these shrubs.  In addition, they've shot up at least 12 inches and are covering the window boxes - a first.  I did remember to fertilize last year, but this is out of control!  I'll be eager to see if the flowers are as large as in seasons past.
The hosta and violet bed - waiting to be weeded and mulched...
Another dream is to add a water feature to my gardens, but for now I must make due with several bird baths as well as this organic rock 'pond' which I keep filled regularly with fresh spring water.  I spent eight hours in my gardens yesterday.  All good.
And, believe it or not, I started a fiber project in the very early morning.  Something for the home, something soft and needful.  Stay tuned ...
TWO projects, to be honest.  I'm no good at keeping secrets!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

THE HANSON'S or, we are what matters to us

It's a trio, but I promise not to get all Biblical on you.  There are icons and then, there are ICONS.  How curious that three of the most masterful icons (in my humble opinion) in quilting and knitting ALL share the same last name ... HANSON.

There's Anne.  She single handedly changed my view of knitting, period.  Because of her extraordinarily beautifully executed patterns, I found the courage to knit LACE ... ahhhh.  She is a master (mistress?) of our craft - with her tailor-ly  informed sensibility, her intelligence, her style and her panache.  Not only does Anne take us to knitterly places that we have never been, she embraces and introduces us to small independent purveyors of hand-dyed fibers.  She can also cook.   And when I met her at Sheep and Wool last fall, she was gracious and warm - one of us!  Approachable.  (Her husband David models for her - lucky us!)  But not this time ...

There's Maria.  This woman is a force.  I don't think that she sleeps.  Ever.  I go to her blog for inspiration and am never disappointed.  She can pony up the good stuff - not only is her taste in knitting and quilting impeccable - she offers it with humor and grace and faith.  She also shape shifts - just like I do - straddling the knitting and quilting worlds with ease and distinction.  She reminds me that it's ok to cherish both crafts, that monogamy doesn't have to exist in fiber, and that housework is a necessary evil.  She has five children - four living at home, and still, she can produce in the most prolific manner!  As I've already mentioned - the woman cannot possibly sleep.  God bless you, Maria!

Last, and certainly not least - Wanda.  Here we have a woman who understands color, and this, my friends, is a vast understatement.  Her work is brilliant - streaming with texture and form and design.  And she is unstoppable!  Visit her blog, on any given day.  You will be treated to a plethora of design walls - shapes and forms and stories unfolding before your eyes -  carried out in color combos that you've never imagined.  She makes me feel brave.  She is truly a fiber guide - one that you've waited for.  Go find her!

This entry was unavoidable once I realized that these amazing women shared a last name.  'The muse is both a deity and a messenger, is the one who makes demands and brings the gift, is the one who inspires the work of art'.  Sometimes the muse appears and we recognize her.  Sometimes we call her name.  HANSON!
(this is my all-time favorite Wanda quilt - the one I covet...)

Monday, May 24, 2010


I edit the photos on this blog a lot.  Usually I don't comment on the heading, but in this case ... will you LOOK at that boxer!!!  Not only is he wearing one of my flannel quilts on his head, he is also laying on a really special piece which is intended for human use only!  Let me assure you - Bubbha is the only canine who can get away with such infractions.  There is nothing mysterious about the love we all share for that boy.  He can wring a smile out of the most deeply cantankerous of this lot.  I've seen it, I know it's true.

There hasn't been much knitting or quilting going on around here.  I spend an inordinate amount of time during the work day perusing the blogs of others who are more fortunate than I - those who have larger blocks of free time in which to knit.  I have to stop from time to time in order to accomplish my work load.  Bummer.  I have a new Wish List forming in my head which includes the likes of Blue Moon and Twisted Evolution (thanks, Maria!) as well as some serious Briar Rose and a cashmere which I cannot list because you'll all race to your wallets and get it before I do!  I did pull out a Knitspot lace project that has been clamoring for equal knit time.
I reminded it that it was an AUTUMN project -one that would have to get back in line and wait its turn.  Can you see that I have some serious UFO issues?  I do.  There, I've admitted it.  Again.  We are having a joint yard sale this weekend and I am contributing substantial amounts of great quilter's cottons.  CHEAP.  If you are in the New Paltz area, c'mon over - you won't be sorry.  I'm unable to part with any of my yarn.  I wonder what is up with THAT.

These beauties were waiting for me when I pulled into the driveway this evening.  My point-and-shoot camera cannot do them justice - they are truly Snow-White-prick-her-finger-blood-RED!!!  Amazing.  There's something else that I need to share.
I realize that this image is not great, but, bear with me.  You're looking at my 'Josephine' clematis - one that I planted two years ago - the same vine that never appeared last year, but, for some reason beyond my understanding, decided to emerge this past week.

Two years ago this week, I saw my Aunt Josephine before she went to meet her Maker.  She is my namesake and we were alike in more ways than I can list here.  She was an upholsterer by trade and she delivered the goods to the Rich and Famous and was never impressed by the trappings of the clientele that she served so magnificently.  She was a simple woman who possessed a great gift with fiber and children and animals and gardens.  She was loved beyond explanation.  She also smoked like a house on fire - as did so many women of her generation.  And she was struck down with lung cancer, which was further complicated by the stroke that she had while trying to deal with chemo.  In short, this sturdy woman of good farm stock didn't have a chance to fight for her life.  The last time that I saw her I leaned down to kiss her and all that she could manage with her total paralysis was to press her face against mine.
I quit smoking that evening.  I've never relapsed - not once in two years.  I'm done.  Thank you, Aunt Joey for this final lesson.  Why did I have to lose you in order to find myself? 

 Sometimes, when I fret over the money spent on bird feed and exciting perennials and cutting edge bulbs from Holland - I pause and think of you in your garden - and how you devoted yourself to beauty, both inner and exterior - the simple goodness that you exuded and the faith and love that you possessed, and shared.   I know that I am fortunate to have grown up in a world that you inhabited.  
I miss you, still.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


So you have been warned, gentle reader.  This entry has nothing to do with fiber - this entry is ALL about taking back the garden from the critters that refuse to be 'discouraged'.  Oh, something came in the mail - but do I have time to look through it?  Maybe tomorrow ...
It's my kind of read - and I am anticipating many wonderful projects to spring from this book.  I digress.  It was out to the vegetable garden at 8:00am.  And I stayed out there until nearly 6:00pm - and many wonderful plannings and plantings came to pass.  So, bear with me.  I'm going to take you through my newly seeded garden and I promise that I won't reveal any other pics of this plot until sultry summer comes to visit and the nasturtium and the Italian sunflowers and the zucchinis and the dill plants are heady and high.  
First off - the beautiful pots of parsley that were chewed to the ground have reemerged - oh happy day!  Parsley is like that - effervescent and reliable - a good friend in the garden - one that reappears in early spring, one that always satisfies. 
You are looking at the broccoli which was devoured and replanted.  I'm using a combination of landscape straw and black fiber to keep the weeds down this year.
More carrots, more yellow onions, more of everything now that the fence is in place...
This corner is ablaze with yellow finch who come for the thistle seed.  I've planted cabbage and a pot of Italian sunflowers here - by mid-July we will be enjoying much color and activity as the birds will have the tall flowers to perch and hid in.  Notice the hammock in the background - 
Everybody gets into it - no kidding!  What would summer in the country be without a hammock to relax in?
You've probably seen more than your share - it's hard not to be enthusiastic about a vegetable garden that is going to be sensational, beautiful AND productive!  There are zinnias and Mexican sunflowers and purple carrots and black beans - all manner of peppers - and squash and horseradish ... I am really excited about this garden.  Tomorrow I may post about a HUGE haul of yarn and needles that came my way - see you later!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The sweet baby dog is 4 today.  Andrew came by and took him to the river for a swim - the equivalent to a day at the spa for us, or a night in a casino ... he's happy.  He's such a great dog.
This was my first view of him - my son called from the Cape and asked me to bring a crate, a BIG crate with me.  Oh boy - I knew that something was up.  And then he sent a photo from his phone - an image of himself with a fluffy golden beauty on his lap.  It was then that I KNEW life was about to change!

We had always had a golden retriever in our lives, luckily.  Our last was Harley #1, and he was a prince of a dog.  He embodied the very best that we know this breed to be - gentle, loyal, sweet natured, fun loving and eager to please - and always, right in the center of the family.  A true tribal dog - a loving and trusting soul.  This Harley was lucky enough to gain a second family when I could not care for him any longer, our situation had changed with the winds of divorce and my good friend Becky and her husband Tobias took him in and gave him a beautiful life.  It was heart breaking to say goodbye, but I knew that my friends would be kind to him - that he would never lack for anything.

He had a long life and he was loved.  But we never really got over having to give him up.  Andrew was his 'boy' and my son struggled with the changes that included finding a new place for his dog. 

This new puppy, this "Harley" was destined to make his way into our hearts.  For the first year of his life both he and his master lived with me.  Andrew was working a lot of night shifts as a career fire fighter, so Harley and I naturally bonded.  He was a hand full - sometimes his energy and bad manners would make me weep with frustration!  And I didn't appreciate the time that he dragged one of my quilts into his crate and devoured it.  But I loved him and cared for him and when he and my son moved out, I was sad for a long time.  There was a void that I could not fill.

Last year Harley returned when Andrew had his motorcycle accident.  And he stayed.  And we like it that way.  So, Harley boy- happy birthday.  You are a fixture here and we cannot imagine life without you.  Many happy returns of your day!!

P.S. When I went out to the garden this morning I was shocked to discover that ALL of my broccoli plants were gone, as were my cauliflower and cabbage seedlings AND carrots AND parsley.  And beans.  In short - total devastation.  I called Scott, wailing.  Tonight he came home with fencing and steely determination.  This is one event that we WILL succeed in winning.  WATCH ...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The blossom of this tree peony is eagerly awaited each season. . . last to appear, quickly shattered.  The color is so delicate and beautiful that words can hardly describe it.  Lemon chiffon.  Magenta accents.
This moment is when I long for a superior camera and the skills to operate it!
There isn't much knitting or quilting going on - when the gardens beckon I cannot resist their siren sounds.   I did cast on an Adamas shawl - in a pretty Knitpicks lace.  Hilary is attending a wedding in June and does not even know that she NEEDS this yet.  I hope to have it finished and ready to present (casually!) in time for the big day!  
You know, when and if she calls to ask - if I have 'anything' in case the night grows chilly ...  
This is JUST the thing - a delicious peppermint-stick pink baby alpaca shawl for my darling girl.  She looks exceptionally beautiful in ANYTHING that she wears.  My hands are raw and chapped from gardening - I have to stop and reapply moisturizer just to be able to work on this lace!  And it's worth it - every stitch.  There is such incredible pleasure derived from creating something of beauty for my daughter - all of you who are mothers know exactly what I am speaking of!

The gardening efforts were gigantic this weekend.  We managed to put in a few raised beds and new ideas are on the horizon for the direction that the vegetable garden is headed toward.  
I am giving the cloth a second chance - I will try anything that promises to eliminate the hours and hours that I spend weeding.  What a peculiar photo of my tomato wires!
New asparagus plants went into the ground - along with basil, parsley, cabbage, lettuces, red and yellow onions, peppes, broccoli, tomatoes, beans, zucchini, horseradish, dill, leeks, etc!!!  It's going to be a good season.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Plunge your bare hands into the northeastern April soil - you'll know that you've crossed wires with God for a moment.  Can there be any doubt?  
What else could explain this revelation within the mystery?  I've never known a faithless gardener.  When I grow weary and need encouragement I simply look up -
That's my Gingko - it's about 15 feet tall now.  It's leaves are an inspiration throughout the growing season.  All around me - artists are borrowing its shape and form - such good little and industrious imitators are we... always trying to find a new way to say the old thing.  My oldest and most beloved friend Lally said it best tonight - "we all deeply desire to be in a good story".  


Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Handsome young firefighter, carrying blue flag.
That's my son, Andrew.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY and many happy returns of your day.  You are an extraordinary person and the best son imaginable .. most of the time.  You've grown into someone that we are so proud of -strong, sweet, brave, compassionate, sensitive, funny, argumentative, intellectual, loyal.  I wouldn't change much about you except, perhaps, for the motorcycle.  I want you to have an amazing year because you deserve all of the love and happiness and JOY that life holds.  I want you to be cherished and respected and adored and FEEL it, KNOW it, never have to question it.   I want for you what you embody - honesty and integrity and the ability to take the high road without hesitation - the very very BEST of all things.  This is my birthday wish for you - good health, good luck, good laughter, good times, good work, good love -EVERYTHING GOOD!
all of my love,

Saturday, May 8, 2010


It took awhile, and went from this -
To a really pretty finish.  I haven't blocked, and I may not because the Melange has such a nice hand when knitted in garter stitch.  This may be for my mom, if I can bear to part with it.  My thanks to Amy Hendrix for the Mara pattern.   I am grateful to the designers out there who give us these lovely free gifts.
We woke to thunderous conditions and heavy rain - the perfect morning to trot over to the Loew's in search of tomato plants.  While we were there, a few other essentials 'hopped' into the cart!  Isn't that always the way?  Pauline, if you're out there - I thought of you!  I know that you would have enjoyed our little spree through the garden selections!
In years past I have made several trips to assorted nurseries in the valley who carry unusual and heirloom vegetables.  I pay more and have been disappointed, year after year.  So this year - I'm going for the 'garden variety' that Loew's carries.  It should be an interesting season. 
The lettuce is ready to hop into the soil - we could already be enjoying some of this!  Red peppers - 
Can you BELIEVE how pricey they are compared to their green-skinned cousins?  Appalling.  I've never had any luck growing peppers OR eggplant.  This could be a banner year though, because I have enough Liquid Fence to repel a small army of critters!  And all of their relatives.  
Have to grow lots of zucchini for Hilary - it's the one vegetable that she will actually walk out to the garden with me to collect!  I'll stop here, so as not to bore you with seedling images.  We brought the cannas and agapanthus up from the cellar - time to go repot and fertilize!
My fig trees look dismal ... it was a long hard stretch waiting out the winter - I'll keep a close eye on them and hope for the best!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Do you ever tire of images of yarn?  I don't.  This came today - from WEBS.
It's even yummier than it appears - Misti Alpaca and I are having a relationship.  I'm hoping to get it skeined and started later this evening.  Presents and surprises.

 I was out on the front porch earlier where I like to sit in the mornings with a cuppa.  But, I am sorry to report that there is trouble in paradise.  Where we once encouraged and were delighted by a house wren or two building their little nests under the eaves, now we are faced with many many bad tenants.  Dirty birds.  Birds who build sloppy houses and make a terrible racket and use our table, chairs and all other surfaces (including the front of the house) as toilets.  They also drop their eggs onto the porch which makes it impossible to enjoy one's coffee while stepping over ruined yolks.  

Scott has tried many remedies - beginning with the painting of the ceiling to resemble the sky (i.e. no protection for the nests).  People.  I don't know which genius came up with THAT theory, but trust me, it's BOGUS.  

Then he tried building screens, which they kicked out.  Then he ordered some plastic doohickies which were guaranteed to discourage nesting - again - useless.  These pointy plastic things were not inexpensive.  See how they mock us?
 I KNOW that they are making fun of us - snickering through their dirty bird beaks.
People that know me understand that I have a soft spot in my heart for all of God's creatures.  I mean them no harm.  I would not allow Scott to touch these nests until the babies hatched and flew away.  But these damn birds are relentless.  They lay 'em, hatch 'em, kick 'em out and START OVER AGAIN!!!
It's hopeless.