Tuesday, August 30, 2011

irene, or - a river runs through it

Irene turned our road into a running stream.

She brought down huge cherry tree limbs.
She created 'instant' trees - this is a branch that landed in the hosta beds and perfectly resembles an existing maple!
Her relentless winds blanketed the place with leaves.
Those same winds toppled my bean poles and revealed a tender crop, ready for the picking.
They are so pretty!
The giant pumpkin slumbered, undisturbed, throughout the storm.  We read and I knitted and the power held.
The Monday Morning Cardigan moves along slowly.  One has to remind oneself that the knitting encompasses front, back AND sleeves - all in one!  I really appreciate the strong kink-less cable of the signature needles for a heavy project like this one.
After Irene pushed through the sun came out, the air lifted and we enjoyed a spectacular summer day - blue skies, no clouds.
My prized castor bean 'tree' survived, and with it, the seed pods for future generations of plants!  What a relief.  All in all, we sustained very little damage - unlike my poor sister and her family in New Canaan, Connecticut where a huge tree fell on the house.  She is still without power, but the roads have been reopened.  Coastal living is enviable until the big storms move in.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

the calm

This is the way that it goes; when I spend endless hours tidying the gardens, a storm will follow.  And rumor has it that this one will be of the hurricane variety!  After watching the news last evening I decided to take some images of my efforts.  When and if 'Irene' comes ashore she'll probably trash the place!
Nicotiana does not do well in a high wind.
The potted canna should be fine, but I may have to take the dahlias into the potting shed.  Same goes for my antique wagon with marigolds!
I like the look of a freshly clipped edge -
The lonicera which has blanketed this lattice for over 10 years is beginning to thin and appear sparse (it reminds me of a certain someone's hairline!).  The climbing hydrangea has ideas of its own - I'm noticing that it is inching in on the honeysuckle.  Nature has the final word.  The gardener learns to stand back and simply observe!
Notice the pile in the wagon - I take no mercy on ancient lilac or marauding maples!  The tractor may have 'expired'. Someone is going to be irritated.  Someone stronger than me will have to deal with it when he gets home.
All is calm in the ginger bed -
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this state of affairs remains.  We don't do well with gusty winds as our trees are mostly elderly.  Ever since a large portion of the maple landed on the house last summer, I have a massive aversion to storms, period.  I don't find lightning and thunder thrilling on ANY level.
We'll just have to follow Harley's lead.  We'll just have to wait it out.  Of course, there will be knitting, even if done by candle or kerosene light!  I have some Cascade 220 in a vibrant color - you know that shade that you often see in jumpsuits being led into a courtroom, or perhaps on a road crew waving a flag - or in the fall, on the heads of deer hunters trying to outwit and avoid one another ... and especially on this guy -
Monday Morning Cardigan by Laura Chau - my feeling is that if I have to be at work and wide awake, why not spread the joy?  What says GOOD MORNING better than orange?
This yarn was gifted to my by my BFF - she'll be happy that I am knitting something in it!  Oh, and a few last thoughts about the hurricane -
These are the fellas that I am most worried about in Irene's path - they JUST bloomed last week and the honeybees are delirious with joy.  When the winds come there won't be anything that I can do to save them.
But this guy, along with his siblings, knows what to do when the storm begins -
TAKE COVER!  Be well, and safe.  Go get some bottled water and toliet paper - it's good advice.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Saturday found us in Scranton, visiting Scott's youngest daughter.  She has graduated from her nursing program at Marywood and joined the working world!  AND she has her first real apartment which needed the bed that we were transporting for her.  The ride from NY to PA was pleasant - it's always a treat for me to be the passenger.  I had my knitting in my lap (of course) and I succumbed to a nap or two!  After we got the bed settled and lunch taken care of, it was time for a quick visit to the only yarn shop in Scranton - The Electric City Yarn Shop on Ash Street.  Small, bright, friendly and MOST important, the carriers of Lorna's 'Outlast' yummy-ness!
The addition of Outlast is supposed to provide some kind of temperature control for the feet - it's reported that NASAR uses it!  Well, they had me at the colors ... one for mom, one for moi.
I was reminded that my BFF's daughter will be giving birth very soon.  Time to pull out the hoodie that I started in KnitPicks Simply Cotton Worsted -
This is a sweet baby sweater and it knits up quickly and beautifully in the cotton.  I hope to finish it this week and start a blanket and a quilt.  I also have "back to school" sewing which I've neglected until now.  It seems as though my vacation is screaming toward its end! (sniff) 

Scott is still working in the city.  On Sundays I round up vegetables to send with him for grateful city friends.  I also sent along a 'scrubby' to help with some of that city dirt!
The scrubbies are quick, inexpensive and very useful!  I buy bridal tulle on the 6" roll and cut it into 2" strips.  I knot together these long strips and knit them right along with the cotton... bumpy, funky and fun!
Cast on 18 stitches and knit every row until piece measures about 5 inches.  Bind off and enjoy!  They would make great pot scrubbers and rumor has it that they work exceedingly well on rough tired feet!
A stack of them would be a nice gift for someone who washes dishes (yes Virginia, we are a rare and disappearing breed, but we DO exist!)  When you can finally afford copper, Le Crueset or All Clad, you hesitate to jam them into a dishwasher!  Still, there are times when I long for a nice Viking dishwasher ...

The last daylily is stretching out its swan song in such a beautiful manner -
Summer is moving on - one can feel it in the cool evening breezes.  There's been a lot of activity in the sky as the Canadian geese seem restless now.  Can the harvest be far behind?

Friday, August 19, 2011

red shoes

Last Sunday I took a header on the wet, leaf covered patio stones.  It was a vicious fall which involved one foot turned back and mashed under my butt, one palm savagely crushed into the pea gravel and the finale - the back of my head smacking the flagstone (which was the last sound that I heard).  It happened so quickly that I couldn't reverse the chain of events, but I do remember thinking (as I was slipping into oblivion)- oh crappers, I've broken my ankle!  When I regained consciousness I found Harley sitting beside me, panting.  Or no, that was ME doing the panting!  How did this happen?  I was chasing the dog as he was chasing a chipmunk as the rodent was heading for the road.  And I was running in flip flops.  In the rain.  With the leaves.  And the wet stones.

The flip flops were of the inferior kind that you pick up at the nail salon when you've forgotten to bring pedicure sandals.  They are made in Taiwan and thinner than a slice of deli cheese.  You know the kind.  If you step on a pebble while wearing them, the pain can take you to your knees.  People, throw these suckers out.  Immediately.  And then get on line and buy these:
Crocs.  Rubber shoes with traction.  If you find yourself feeling a bit antiquated wearing these, or worse - (obsolete, timeworn, old hoary fossil) remind yourself of days gone by - your twenties and thirties and early forties when you could freaking RUN in heels!  It'll be alright.  (How about those bug bites?  Mosquitos cannot resist my ankles and feet)

In keeping with red things - first crop in before the storms.
Some of my plum tomato plants toppled over and the fruit was grazing the soil so I harvested them, although I dislike picking vegetables prematurely.  They'll ripen on the sill and be perfectly eatable.
The green tomatoes will lend themselves to salsa - my cilantro is almost ready to pick!  The last few days we have been experiencing violent summer bursts of lightning, and of course thunder, and driving rain - not so good for the vegetables.  But the castor bean seems to think that it is starring in a Jack in the Beanstalk series -  one could almost climb into its limbs!  It's well over seven feet tall now!
I wandered out after the rain to survey the damage, as there had been talk of hail.  The mimosa was soggy, but tropically gorgeous.  It always amazes me to see it's delicate fronds in this northeast setting when I imagine it in the caribbean with its palmy sisters and brothers - sand and salt and sea.
I talked about the Cascade Epiphany last week and my plans to knit the Hanson Leaving cardigan.  I was quite a way into it before I realized that the lovely bloom of the cashmere/alpaca blend was obliterating Anne's clever design work.  What is the point of knitting something so exquisite when one cannot make out the details?  So, I need some help.  Truly - I need suggestions.  I want to make a sweater - I have at least 2500 yds of this yarn, maybe more.  I am considering Vitamin D by Heidi Kirrmaier.  It looks delightful, but I worry that it might emphasize my less than svelte mid section!  All comments gratefully accepted and considered!

Monday, August 15, 2011

monday, monday

We woke to the sound of rain tapping on the copper roof.  At 4:00am it's too early to let the dog out, especially since the warning appeared in the paper about roaming coyotes.  But one wants to go to the garden to view the magic - a magic that only appears after 24 hours of gentle summer rain.  What was miniscule yesterday today reaches the fence.  What was shoulder height two days ago now towers over my head.  The rain is the magic-maker, the shape shifter.
Little plump globes that fattened overnight.  More importantly, these vines have finally scaled the pergola and can begin their nesting and settling in.  It was a heady climb and we held our breath through every punishing storm.
A sister wisteria begins her ascent on the other side...the promise being a shady canopy to sit beneath one day, a place to listen to the hum of the bees and nod away an afternoon.  I wanted a giant silver linden or a copper beech.  There were delicate negotiations.  We decided that we may not live long enough to see such exuberant shade, so the grapes must suffice. We will have, one hopes, many years together (from my mouth to God's ears).
I have my fair share of fence hangers this year.  
What can we say about this configuration?
Give 'em an inch - they'll take the fence!  I haven't figured out how to harvest this one yet.
Here's the giant pumpkin that you didn't see before - this starlet is not anywhere NEAR to being ready for it's close up.  If wishes come true, it will become a contender for the county fair weigh in! 
 I've talked about my great affection for the deadly castor bean plant.  Last week it was sensational, but today, after the rain, it's head is in the clouds!
It's an instant tree, for crying out loud.  The shade that it casts across the pond has already encouraged wildlife.  I have two frogs and one sighting of a turtle.  Or maybe I imagined the turtle.  The heart wants what it wants.  The imagination follows.  Sometimes it leads.  Never mind.
I'm quite happy with my little pond.  It will never aspire to the pages of House and Garden, but it makes me smile and there is something so bewitching and charming about the sound of its waters tripping along while one is weeding and poking about in the garden.  Knowing that I have the option of easing my tired feet into its depths is soothing.  Thank you, Scott.  Thank you for my mini pond.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

a good day

Saturdays that include cooking dinner for the firemen, planting the last of the marigolds, finishing a terrific book, seeing a movie with friends and MAYBE sneaking in some knitting on Leaving, are the best.
Along with this, freshly sliced COLD sugar baby watermelon and poppy seed cake.  That's right guys, we appreciate all that you do!  There was a huge fire yesterday which kept our firefighters at work for hours.  Nothing is too good for these men.

I know that august seems late to be planting anything, but I have leftover marigolds saved to accompany small mums for a fall display.  My pumpkins are slumbering mightily, awaiting their debut... no images allowed! 
Wandering around my Saturday gardens - feeling unquestionably at home in this world, my resident nomad sleeping, silent.  
The gardens, this place, sometimes curb my appetite for wandering and getting lost.  I am missing the ocean this season, and hoping against hope that the opportunity will present itself to dip my toes in the Atlantic again.  I'll be ready to go at the drop of a hat, or whatever it takes!  I'm keeping the gas tank full.
My window boxes are juicy after all of the rain.  They'll be fine without me when the ocean calls.
Knitting on Anne Hanson's wonderful Leaving sweater can only be done in daylight.  (This is my newest preoccupation).  I have discovered another knitter through our splendid Ravelry network who is knitting this sweater as well.  She's much more advanced a knitter than I, so I hope that she will not object to the inquisition that might develop!  Just kidding, ArtLady.  You should go and drool over view her work - stupendous!
I love the Cascade 'Epiphany', but it doesn't love me when the light fades.  That's my signal for this - a good read, one that has comforted me so much.  (thank you, Chrissy!)
This book is a kind of spiritual treasure for anyone who loves and loses their canine companion.  It takes patience to learn deep love over time.  And patience to heal when the love departs.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Someone got into trouble this morning because he forgot his manners.  In his defense, things are massively quiet around here, what with Jackie Boy passing on and Scott in the city all week.  For the most part, we don't get a lot of company. It's easy to understand someone's bad dog behavior enthusiasm when a friend turns up for coffee.  Long story short, someone was scolded.  And then he disappeared, skulking away to sulk and devil the cat.
It just kills me when I find him on the sofa.  He rarely parked his big self on the furniture until Jack died.  Maybe he's assigned himself to filling Jack's 'paws'.
Speaking of paws -
You can't make this stuff up!  He was sitting there, perfectly poised - one 'dainty' paw over the other - "I'll show HER good manners!"  I adore this beast.  There's been some whispering going on to which he cocks his head whenever the word 'puppy' is spoken.  'Rescue dog' doesn't register, and he makes no distinction between Corgi or Jack Russell OR Mutt.  He's lonely and we are getting ready to remedy this.
I'm waiting for the bread to rise.  Upstairs in the sewing room it appears that a bomb has gone off!
Lotsa shakin' and movin' and creatin' going on.  I'd love to see your work spaces in action.  Nearly no one posts the beginning, middle or aftermath of a really jazzy project.  The messier the space, the better the work. 
 My sister is going to celebrate a significant birthday later this week.  Translation: she's now older than dirt!  (it's fun being the baby of the family, a fact that I rarely miss rubbing in)  Anyway, I've been making something for her big day.  Jayne, don't look!
Little Clementine.  I mean to add her name and perhaps a swallowtail butterfly sailing overhead.  Some beads would be nice as well as a bit of quilting.  I need to shake a leg!  I wonder if the bread has risen ... this is the maiden voyage of a gluten-free recipe I am testing for my daughter.  Living a gluten-free lifestyle can be challenging, especially when one has to pass up the bread!  Can you imagine?  I can't.  Keep your fingers crossed ...