Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Happily, I know Block Island on an intimate basis.  It is a special place and it calls to me from time to time.  I have been thinking about imagination and how mine runs wild and unfettered.  And I remember that our imaginations are the domain of our inner world.  And that creativity is the path to that world.  So I set out, with fabric and thread and an imagination that sometimes runs so far ahead of me on the path that it takes everything I have to catch up.  

The essence of Block Island is deeply imbedded within my memory.  I went to fabric;
I was searching for the sand, the sky and the water as I knew it in early spring.  The waters off Point Judith are dark and teeming with life.  The sand is crisp and untouched by a human print and the sky is indescribable - changing from moment to moment - lavender, blue, yellow, pink.
The block comes into focus slowly.  I turn off the jury and judge in my head and simply sew -
Something resonates within, but I am unsure.  Natural light confirms some of my concerns -
Is this the beginning of a new quilt, or simply a page in the journal of a quiltmaker, one who is sadly separated from the sea?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


When I got home tonight Scott was in the driveway and grinning broadly.  Uh-oh, I thought, what can THIS mean?
We have some serious gardening equipment around here.  This trailer is one of my favorites because it holds about three yards of mulch AND it has a lift.  But what in the devil has he got in it this time?  We haven't had discussion around this and Scott is the King of Surprises ...
He's obviously quite pleased with himself ...
Compost for the vegetable garden - a gorgeous dark mixture that has been screened - black gold.  Leaf mulch and manure - along with several additives that Scott refuses to reveal.  He can be very secretive.
The lift is a God-send, especially in the heat of the summer when the beds need mulching and one's energy level is flagging.  I actually lent a hand here - but stepped back for photos.  We made several piles in the garden and will rake it out and then till it all in.  THEN the serious planting begins!
Harley doesn't give a fiddler's fart about planting!  He is very interested in rolling and kicking.  And dinner. These are the nights when dinner is had on the fly.  I made sauce and meatballs on Sunday, so it will be a snap tonight.  I am trying to be more aware of time management because there are not enough hours in an April day to accomplish everything, and food preparation lives low on the list.  
I have to go - the couch is calling and my Mara Shawl wants my attention.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Mara is such an agreeable knit - one of those projects that you always like to have tucked in your bag just in case ... you know, wicked traffic jam, power outage augmented with candlelight, delayed flights or trains or buses.  Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!  So my Mara has been traveling to the office with me this week.
She spent some time in that bag, but probably more time on my lap ...
You can see that I am getting the last bit of wear out of my knitted items - an Italian cotton cabled cardie that I made years ago as well as a little scarf - this, before the weather turns warm.  The thing about Mara is that the last border is KILLER.  It eats up enormous amounts of fiber, along with the time that it takes to K2P2 those hundreds of stitches.  Still, I really like it.  It doesn't ask a lot from me.  It requires zip in the way of concentration.  And the Blue Sky Alpaca melange just feels delicious on one's lap as it grows.  I want another, as soon as this is completed.  In fact, this shawl is going to seduce me into breaking my already pathetically weakened resolve - formerly known as "Never Knit the Same Pattern Twice" rule.  

Our boss brought in some flowers the other day and I was stumped by this:
At first glance I thought - artichoke!  Perhaps some kind of thistle?  Does anyone recognize this beauty?  The color of the 'flower' is vivid - marigold-ish.  It must be an exotic - hailing from, where?  Hawaii?  HELP!

I have to go - Mara wants her debut tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Have to get the vegetable garden in.  Turns out that the raised beds are not in the cards for 2010 - but Scott was agreeable enough to the hard work -
The shad fly is already out and relentless - making this otherwise pleasurable experience a test of wits!  
The apple trees are in full blossom and the fragrance is indescribable.  I want to hold onto this brief passage - these slim days between bud and blossom as they are so fleeting, so ethereal.
In every direction that we gaze - row after row of creamy fragrant flowers - dreamlike.  When I walked out to see the garden fully tilled, the blossoms lay on the ground - as if a gigantic ticker-tape parade had passed through -
simply magical.  No other way to describe this -  and beyond, the vegetable garden sans ornament -
BIG plans for a fully functional season - onion sets and lettuce to go in this weekend.  Everyone likes the feel of the fluffy turned earth under their paws feet!  We couldn't get this guy to exit!
No photographic documentation, but we SAW the bluebird couple checking out their appointed house - that unmistakably flash of brilliant blue on the lawn and then the peachy underside - we were so excited, so enthralled, that we could not speak!  The female actually went inside of the house while the male stood sentinel.  People - this is really really HUGE for us as we have never been able to encourage bluebirds to this property.  Stay tuned...  

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Did I mention that Scott is home?  He's returned from three weeks on Staniel Cay and we are all settling in, remembering what we liked, and didn't like about each other.  For instance - Jack Russell likes to sleep behind Scott's knees.  I do not like this practice and cannot tolerate it, (Jack has porcupine hair) but Scott doesn't mind at all.  So Jack is happy.  Harley adores Scott, so he is exceedingly happy and vocalizes this at every opportunity.  I like Scott pretty well myself, but I'd forgotten how high maintenance he is.  You know, he wants Breakfast.  And Lunch.  And he keeps looking at ME as the source of his sustenance!  Tonight we collaborated on dinner - warm water lobster and mahi mahi - all caught on the Cay and frozen and flown home.  I split and baked the lobster tails and then went to work stuffing them.
I used shallot, garlic and baby bella mushrooms - to this I added the lobster chunks, light cream and good sherry.  The crumb mixture is a simple parsley and butter and Ritz cracker combo.  Simple and delicious and FRAGRANT!  Scott went to work on the mahi mahi fillets - covering them with olive oil, onion, red pepper, carrot shavings, red cabbage, seasonings (he won't reveal these) and asparagus from the garden - the very first spears.  They were tucked into aluminum packets and grilled.  They landed on a bed of balsamic rice.
The kitchen smells really amazing - I wish that there was some way to convey these aromas.  It was exciting to cut the first asparagus.  I'd waited for Scott to return and a few had gone by, but who can complain?
But there were some 'unsettling' aspects of this weekend.  Maybe you are thinking - what is WRONG with this woman!!  I know, things seem pretty cozy around here, and, for the most part they are, they really are.  I am not complaining - I'm just sayin' . . . I realized that I was experiencing deep envy - decidedly so, of the people who were participating in Sock Camp.  I really really REALLY wanted to be there.  I talked about it a lot, and Scott nodded, but uncomprehendingly.  He knows that I am passionate about my knitting, but he cannot relate to the words.  It's the same with the gardens - they exist on two planes.  There is the earthly vision with its needs and demands.  And then there is the garden that I carry inside of me, in my mind, where potatoes grow without beetle infestation and delphiniums never collapse under the weight of a sudden July storm.   

The 'New Dawn' rose, which had arrived earlier in the week, was planted today.  I chopped up a banana peel and added some good compost to the hole.  It doesn't look like much, does it?  Wait.  New Dawn is exuberant and she never lets one down, from her beautiful ballerina-pink blossoms to her shiny green foliage, she makes a safe haven for my birds and a shoulder to climb over for the clematis.
The warm weather that we experienced last week has encouraged all kinds of growth.  Two years ago I installed a peony border which lines the driveway.  In it I have planted my favorite varieties including one whose name I do not know.  She is blood red, and I can hardly wait to introduce you!  Three fat buds ...
I pulled out my sock UFO's. I convinced myself that I COULD be a sock contender IF I went to Camp!  And then I previewed this post and realized, once again, that I have more than enough to be grateful for.  And so I give thanks.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Discovering Anne Hanson's designs was akin to opening the windows on a bright spring morning.  Suddenly the knitting was flooded, no - AWASH in possibility and delight.  Lace, especially, had never held any appeal before tripping over Knitspot patterns.  But that is all behind me now - and it seems as though I have lace projects tucked away in every corner.  Remember, UFO's are a REAL problem around here.  

One pattern in particular has captured my heart - ' Honeybee Stole'.  
This is Wooly Wonka lace merino - the softest, buttery color.
I've been working on this piece for a very long time.  Because I was arrogant clueless, I ignored Anne's directions to do a provisional cast-on.  (collective blogger gasps!)  Yes, that's right.  I was so excited about the yarn and the pattern that I cast on in my usual fashion and started knitting lace . . . aaaahhh.
Also, I neglected to use the fiber life line.  So when the inevitable struck, I had no where to go - no safety net to drop into.  I was out on my proverbial lace limb ALONE.  As I struggled to retrace my steps, the stitches literally wiggled off of the needles and disappeared.
It was a bad day.  Because this pattern is knit in two pieces and joined at the center, the provisional cast on IS a necessity.  (Never question authority when it comes to lace knitting!)  I am left with a beautiful first half of the Honeybee Stole which ends on I-don't-know-which-row.  This is a problem.  So I bagged it.  One wants to believe in resurrection, but there is a real possibility that this stole may never be completed.  Perhaps one of these days I will be lucky enough to sit with a Lace Guru who can lead me out of the woods!  Until then, it feels like a sewing and quilting day!

Monday, April 12, 2010


Sometimes you notice that your best friend isn't feeling very happy.  There are all kinds of signs - subtle and not so subtle.  It could be the way that he holds his head on his paws.  It could be the absence of a tail wag when you speak to him. You might notice that he isn't lying beside the sofa when you are watching 'House' reruns.  He isn't waiting for the dregs of your Greek yoghurt container or the last bits of broccoli in the steamer.  Mostly, it's in his expression - those liquid caramel eyes, that tell you - something is NOT RIGHT.
So I called (texted) my son and said - your dog misses you.  And he came over, because he's the best son in the entire world.  On almost any given day!  I have to add this - Harley will not jump into the back seat of my CRV.  Seriously.  I have to lift his substantial girth  - he places his front paws on the seat and the rest is up to me.  But when His Boy came over (actually, His Man) he hopped to it!  His was instant JOY.  How he loves Andrew...
He'll jump any obstacle to be close to the One That He Loves.
Look at that face.  Happiness.  These two belong together, but Andrew has to work nights as a firefighter.  It's not right to leave that golden dog alone for so many hours on end.  So, we do the best that we can.  And maybe one day, before you know it, Andrew's situation will change.  From my mouth, to God's ears.

I've got something going - it's really pretty.  More on this, tomorrow!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Stonewall from the amazing Anne Hanson was completed last night.  It was an extraordinarily wonderful knit and I enjoyed the process so much. The Blue Sky Alpaca Limited Edition was one of the most delicious yarns I've ever fondled knit - I was sorry to bind off!
I've not had great success with blocking - mostly, I've sent my things to knitters more experienced (and willing!) than I.  But I'm thinking - geez. How hard could it be?  I'll send to Knitpicks for mats and wires and then I'll become a self-sufficient knitter.  Right?  Autonomy-in-knitting.
Like any knitter worth her yarn salt, I've started poking about the vast array of patterns collected over the years for my NEXT PROJECT.  There is a problem - I can hear my UFO's whimpering from their bins.  So, in the interest of finishing something that has been waiting, I thought that I'd photograph them.  If I do this, if I "tell on myself", these projects have a chance at seeing the light of day.  Scott calls it - "pulling down your pants".  We try not to do too much of that around here!  Moving right along ...
This lace merino came from Wooly Wonka Fibers and the color is dreamy - I think that it was called 'Tidal Pool'.  I've not been able to locate them as their website is for sale.  Does anyone know where they have gone?  This shawl is another Anne Hanson masterpiece - Simurgh.  
Once I've started gardening in earnest, it's nearly impossible to keep my hands smooth enough to work with lace.  So, I'd better get busy with this and show you the other pitiful UFO's on another day!  I'm making this for Hilary.  She looks divine in any shade of blue.

Friday, April 9, 2010


The campus is so beautiful this time of the year.  
Being indoors is difficult when such loveliness is just beyond the front doors.  We've had crazy high temperatures all week - reaching into the upper 80's.  My little peas emerged yesterday - so very exciting!
A trip to the nursery is crucial today to restock my Liquid Fence supply.  We have an enthusiastic bunny population and I don't mind, as long as they remember that the garden is off limits!  The evil stench of the LF really works.  I wonder if they make anything to discourage THIS kind of behavior!!!!
What a wicked beast - more than two acres of potty access and he chooses the rhubarb plant.  Almost every season a little wren makes a tiny nest in the center of that plant.  The large leaves offer protection from the elements and keep the babies safely invisible to predators.  We strolled around in the soft rain this morning to discover that we have BLOOM-AGE!  (seemingly overnight).

European Ginger always says 'spring' for this garden.  I divide and plant it every season, everywhere.  I love the way it holds up in the deepest heat of July.  Here's another harbinger of spring - the primrose that my friend Ida brought to me from her mother's garden.  
We may have to take a trip to Ida's - she gardens in Rhinecliff, overlooking the river.  She and her husband Norman were my neighbors for a few memorable years - they were weekenders then, commuting from Albany.  My kitchen window faced Ida's and on Sunday nights, when the last light was turned off and their car headed north, I would experience an intense loneliness - looking out my window at the silent house next door.   I was a single parent in those years and Ida and Norman were benevolent tenderhearted substitutes for family.  Because of them, and a few others, we truly knew what community meant and we felt that we belonged to something very special.  We did.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Saturday - all day in the sewing room.  Brief excursions outdoors for canine exercise and well being.  I am working on Completion.  I want to empty this room of its projects, real or imagined.  This piece has been languishing for TOO LONG!  I won't tell you how many years ago it was created - I suspect that it was my first foray into paper piecing - a string quilt, inspired by the amazing Gwen Marston.  My goal is to finish the borders and get it batted and backed and into a hoop ASAP, nothing fancy, just instant gratification.  I NEED a project that I can hand-quilt.  I MISS hand-quilting.  I want to sit on my front porch with this quilt and just stitch away.  I want to listen to the spring peepers and the sounds of my neighbors finishing their dishes and the quick whirling wings of the sparrows who have muscled their way into the eaves again.  Quiet.  Peaceful.
I love to see all of these old cottons.  Each one evokes a special memory - transporting me back in time.  Today's fabrics just do not hold this kind of nostalgia, this appeal, for me.  It may be that there are SO MANY fabric lines to choose from - a person can get confused.  Narrowing down one's choices becomes irritating and hard on the wallet as I usually give in and buy everything!  In the old days, we were happy if we found more than a dozen patterns in one color way.  Remember?

Saturday was a special kind of day  -  I blew off all invitations and hunkered down in my PJ's and never got fully dressed.  I spent the better part of an hour brushing Harley outdoors and throwing his favorite squirrel frisbee, and then there was piecing and knitting and cooking.  Hilary and Carson came over to share in some black beans and rice and a gorgeous walnut/cranberry salad.  We are learning to eat healthier as a result of Hilary's gluten issues and Carson's lactose intolerance.  It's all good.  I miss Scott.  He called from the island and it seems as if he misses all of us too.  Did I tell you that the Cay that he goes to was where 'Thunderball' was filmed?  You have to be kind of firmly lodged in middle age to remember the 007 series.  Hilary had a blank expression when I mentioned this piece of trivia.  When did I get so old?  I thought that EVERYONE knew who James Bond was!!!!

Today, Easter Sunday, is an important high holy day - the Day of the Resurrection.  Hilary and I took the grandmother's to lunch at an area eatery - The Bonefish Grill.  It seemed like the right thing to do.  WONDERFUL choice, Hill!  Actually, we only provided the transportation - they paid for the meal!  It was nice.  Afterward, mom and I went to the nursing facility - not so nice.  Growing old isn't what it used to be.  People just don't lie down in their rose beds when things wear out - instead, they go to facilities that keep a failing body alive long after its time.  

I came home to find that my good helper, Marcos, was still hard at work.  He comes sometimes, on the weekends, and helps out around here.  He likes it when Scott isn't dispensing the work orders - I'm a softy and I assign 'girlie' jobs and the day passes in a pleasant way.  I've sighted bluebirds in my neighbor Andy's yard - across the stonewall from me.  Bluebirds, people.  I want them.  I need for them to nest in MY yard.

 Now, Andy is an amazing neighbor - the best ever.  He's a classically trained retired musician and he pipes the loveliest music out into the yard when he gardens, which is continual.  (The fact that he is a gardener makes him just about perfect in my view).  His people farmed this land for many years and he is a font of information when it comes to the vegetables.  I have the highest regard for him.  But.  I. WANT. THOSE. BLUEBIRDS.
That's right - I pulled out the big guns - I had Marcos installing my houses where they could be clearly seen.
I take my bird population seriously.  Happy, blessed Easter to you all.