29 April 2009

knit one, fly too

Writing from over Nevada again…

I just finished the Liesl scarf. This was easily the most complicated knitting I’ve ever done, which meant reading a pattern for every row from what is now a softened and dog-eared piece of paper, but never while conversing, listening to music or while watching a movie. It was not knit on at either of my knitting groups, though I would show it off at said groups after sufficient progress had been made. When I’m crafting at home, I usually fall into one of two situations, either I’m listening to the radio and sewing or quilting, or I’m knitting while I have a movie on, so no knitting on this scarf then either. Working, eating and sleeping take up a goodly chunk of the rest of my time, which left one time group for complicated knitting: airplane time. I cast the project on while we were at Steamboat Springs in January (which is of meaningful coincidence, since the scarf recipient was born in Colorado). I’ve worked on it in the airspace of Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Utah and Colorado. To round it all out, the yarn is by Mountain Colors of Wyoming.

Specs: Pattern is Liesl, by Mary Joy Gumayagay at Yummy Yarn. Yarn is Mountain Colors, Mountain Goat (name of the yarn, not the source of the fiber), in the Firestorm colorway.
never mind the woman modelling the wool scarf when it's 73 degrees F outside. she's crazy.

28 April 2009

loss karma

Some people I've known are perennial misplacers. Sometimes it's important stuff like their keys or wallet, or maybe it's just their shopping list or a book. I've never been one of these people. I don't mean that I've never ever misplaced anything, but I do it so rarely that when I do lose something, I get a little wigged out about it. Which is why today, when I lost two things before I even got off the plane, I was rather put out about it, and began to believe that my entire trip was doomed. First, I lost my spork, which I carry in my bag to avoid using disposable cutlery. I used it to eat up my breakfast at SeaTac, then tucked it into a pocket so I would remember to wash it, and when I went to retrieve it (still at SeaTac), it was gone. I retraced my steps, but to no avail. I have another spork or two at home, so it's not a huge loss, but still. Dang! And then I managed to leave my handkerchief on the plane! (stop making that "ew" face -- it's not as gross as all that) I reached for it later and realized that I must've left it on my seat, where I had put it under my leg rather than wiggling about to get it back into my pocket whilst seated with my seat belt securely fastened. Dang, again! So there I am in Phoenix, sans spork and one handkerchief (turns out I had stashed a spare subconsciously in my bag), when I turn my attention to the radio in my rental car. I start cruising the stations when I notice that the display says "CD IN". What? The previous renter left their CD? That's something I've often been afraid of doing, so my initial feeling was that of sympathy. But then I got down to business to see what sort of CD I had just inherited. Assuming it was going to be something like MC Hammer's 1988 Christmas album I set my hopes low, which probably wasn't a bad idea. It's U2's new album, No Line on the Horizon. U2 has traditionally been my favorite band, but this particular album received pretty dismal reviews, so I hadn't lifted a finger in an attempt to procure it. I listened to it today when the radio stations petered out (I agree with the reviews: meh), and I'll probably listen again when I head back tomorrow, until the radio stations start to pick up again.
Whether or not I keep it though, will probably depend on how I am feeling about the loss of my spork and handkerchief.

catching up

Writing from somewhere over Nevada – on my way to Phoenix for a super quick field office visit.

I spent last weekend working, so I don’t feel bad for missing Sunday’s confessional. Working the weekend made Sunday feel like Tuesday, which makes today (Tuesday) feel like Thursday. I’ll get back to Seattle on a Wednesday that will feel like a Friday, take Thursday off (since that’ll be Saturday), then work on Friday (which will then feel like working on Sunday again). Then it’ll be the weekend again, at which point a little bit of my brain will melt and ooze out of my right ear, but I won’t complain because I’ll have the day off. Incidentally, I think this is how Finn gets so smart – he laps up my oozed brain bits while I’m asleep.

I dropped Finn off at Great Dog for some overnight play care while I'm away. He was there on Monday for day care so this will be an unusual three days straight of day care for him, which will certainly wear him out for the next several days. He’s no spring puppy anymore – he used to come home from day care and still be bounding with energy. Now he comes home, has a lagging burst that consists mostly of barking at passers by, then zonks out on the couch or bed until it’s… bedtime. Yesterday he slept even longer and deeper than usual – I think he’s going to be one exhausted pup when I get home.

The garden is nearly ready to be planted. I’ve turned the soil and amended it with four bags of Farmyard Blend compost. This Thursday (aforementioned day off), I’m volunteering at the Seattle Tilth Edible Plant Sale (sale is actually on Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be on a plant set-up crew), which comes with the benefit of getting first dibs on the plants I want, so now I have to think about what and how much I want to plant. One of the only benefits of living alone is that this year, I get to plant whatever I want.

Tomatoes – a no-brainer. Last year we had nine plants, I think I’ll do about the same this year, but I might try some different varieties.
Peppers – I’m thinking about trying a mini plastic hoop setup to grow peppers. So far, our attempts at peppers have been lackluster, but at the same time, seemingly promising, if I could just get it right. Not sure if I’d want to try sweet or hot. Both?
Broccoli – these have worked very well in the past
Beans – sugar snap, green and yellow
Spinach and lettuce – but only if I get to these soon… if I wait too long they bolt
Eggplant –I think I’ll try that instead of zucchini
Onions – especially since I didn’t get any garlic going this year
Potatoes – they’re already reestablishing themselves from last year, but they’re good all through the winter
Winter squash – of some variety, which makes me want to consider trying
Parsnips and/or beets – since I’ve enjoyed those over the winter

I think I will skip trying artichokes this year – the few I’ve grown have been the best artichokes I’ve ever had, but I’m just not sure they’re worth it. Same for carrots – these are a favorite of Eric’s, but we get tons from our CSA box, and they’re pretty demanding for such a basic plant.

As for herbs, Last year I swore off trying to grow cilantro and basil, but now I am waffling. Maybe this would be the year I get it right! I also have in mind a little lavender garden, with three or four different varieties. And if anyone knows the secret for getting thyme to thrive, I’m all ears.

What am I missing?

18 April 2009


These pics are mostly for Eric's benefit -- so he can see what's going on in the garden, as the crocuses have come and gone, the daffodils are waning, and the tulips are beginning to show up....

I love these split-corona daffodils, but I don't know what this variety is called. They have a lovely smell, unlike most daffodils, and they remind me of fried eggs (apparently I have a thing for fried egg flowers, because I just brought one of these home for the garden, and I adore the tiny little daisies that pop up in lawns around this time of year). If you know the name of these daffodils, please leave me a comment and let me know!

a different specimen, elegantly posed against the chimney.


In the back yard, we have:

Grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)

Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

the dogwood (Cornus sp.) patch

the large Japanese maple
On to the veggies....

The camera refused to focus on something so skinny, but that there is an asparagus spear! It's about 12 inches tall, and did I mention that it's skinny? I'm on the lookout for more spears, but so far as I can tell, there's only one other, and it's about 1 inch tall.

We had another volunteer violet in the veggie space again, so I transplanted it to a pot where it will thrive until it gets hot, and then it will fry.

All three blueberry bushes are getting ready for the bees....

and the apple tree is finally joining the party.
Out the gate and around the corner to the front yard....
The front yard Dicentra, behind our new vine maple (Acer circinatum). This "heart" came with the house, and has faithfully bloomed spectacularly for the last three years. For the first two years, we had to crawl between the Rhododendron you can see in the background and the camelia that was where the maple is now to see it, but it was there, blooming up a storm. It does even better now that it's not so cramped.

Eric, do you remember the name of this guy? I don't, except that I think it has "clark" somewhere in it. And look! It has a baby off to the right. I had to lift another plant off of it to see it -- we may have to do something about that.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis sp.)

More Muscari.

The lilacs are coming, the lilacs are coming!

05 April 2009

spring cleaning

treetops at carkeek park, seattle

I am sometimes asked by my California-based friends and family if the dreary weather of the Pacific Northwest depresses me. I went to college in extreme northern California, where it was also often foggy and wet, and I've lived in Portland since then. I remember the same feelings when I lived in those places as well: I certainly don't feel depressed, or even down about the weather (I've always quite liked the rain), but man, if that first warm, sunny day of spring isn't the best thing ever, then I don't know what is.

evidence of sunlight

I had an action packed weekend this weekend: birdwatching early on Saturday (we didn't spy what we were looking for, but we saw some other neat critters -- including a squirrel expelling itself rather comically from a trash can), then therapy dog class, three hours in the garden and then I trotted off to knitting group in sandals. Today I went to yoga, and in a fit of spring cleaning, cleaned the garage and de-grimed the tops of the kitchen cabinets (ew). Took my bike out of hibernation and in for a tune-up, then ran some errands with the car windows rolled all the way down and the stereo (slightly) up.

In finished project news, I finally got the last of the seed beads put on the felted bowl....

finished measurements: 10 inches in diameter, 5 inches tall, Alpine worsted weight wool, in a charcoal grey and pale blue, seed bead embellishments.

02 April 2009

finn's blanket

For Finn's Therapy Dog training, they suggest that we have a blanket for the dog to sit on while he's on a visit. If you're visiting kids, they suggest a kid-appropriate theme (Buzz Lightyear is on the trainer's dog's blanket). I considered getting some bright fleece at the fabric store, and was looking at some when I came up with this idea:

it's a fleece blanket that we used to cover Finn's wire crate with, but since he doesn't use that anymore, the blanket was free for other uses. Like having Finn's name appliqued to it. I'd say it turned out pretty well, considering that the feed dogs don't really do much with fleece -- it was really a different sort of applique for me.

Oh, have I not mentioned Therapy Dog training? Why, yes! For the past few weeks, Finn and I have been spending an hour each Saturday morning at his day care place, where they also do obedience training, including really specialized stuff like agility training and therapy dog work. Now therapy dog work shouldn't be confused with service dog work, where the dog is at a person's side, rendering assistance all day, every day. Therapy dogs go (with their person) to visit people who could use a little puppy love, such as hospitals, retirement communities and nursing homes, psychiatric care facilities, prisons and some schools. There are two different therapy dog organizations that we're training to be certified with, Delta Society and Connecting Canines. There are also therapy cats, therapy chickens, and once our instructor worked with a therapy miniature pony.