Thursday, June 25, 2015

More Great Outdoors

One of the places we went on our days in the wilderness used to be a rice plantation but is now a wildlife refuge.  The hikes are mainly on the dykes or levees above the fields.

The car temperature gauge read 97, so walking around above the vegetation was not something we wanted to do.  Luckily, there was a narrow driving trail atop some of these levees, so we drove along and watched the murky waterways.

Aside from a wide variety of waterfowl, we spied many alligators as well!  (Truthfully, none of our alligator pics turned out, so this is an alligator we saw in a totally different wilderness--).

The hottest and buggiest day by far though, was the day we went to a State Park looking for gopher tortoises and indigo snakes.  My youngest son abandoned the trail after being attacked by swarms of sweat sucking flies.  He stayed in the shelter of this covered bridge while my older son carried on. This was one of those times when I just didn't know which kid to accompany--but I ended up staying back instead of pursuing the trail.

View from inside the bridge

I had a brief moment of intense panic right before my older son returned.  I mean, what if he was bitten by a snake out there hiking alone in the heat?  But, it was not a long trail, and he did see a grand old gopher tortoise which he said was worth the torment of the hellish heat and insects.

The best thing about going to this park was the drive through the farmland to get there.  Each little old building or house looked like it held a million stories.

I think the scraggly little crop here is peanuts.

The very best house and barn were partially collapsed and abandoned. (My roadside picture of it was totally not exciting so I haven't included it here.) My son got out of the car and went around taking terrific pictures (property of him and his artistic purposes) until we both felt a little like a crazy might come out of nowhere with a shot gun and rail at him for trespassing.

Maybe we've seen too many movies.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Georgia Outdoors

When I was a kid living our west, we used to go camping in the summer.  I loved being out in the woods breathing the smell of pine and fir trees, damp earth, and creek water.  I loved the high, clear sound of wind moving through branches above my head and birds calling across the forest.  I loved the sound of the tent zipper in the morning and the first snaps and crackles of the fire as dad got the breakfast going.  We'd wake up snug in our sleeping bags with the urge to burrow away from the the cold, but that fire and the smell of sausages coaxed us up and out into the glorious sun dappled day.

Being in wilderness down South in summer is nothing like this.

It is a tropical insect fest mostly and a sun scorch.  It makes me wonder why on earth anyone ever settled here on purpose.

 I always feel that I am in some kind of Tarzan movie.

We had an early start, but the humidity smacked us right away, and the sweat sucking insects are always hungry.  

We saw many great skinks (as below) and lizards, a snake, some fantastic herons, and a few painted buntings (birds), and a gopher tortoise.

Doesn't the fiber on this plant look like an animal?

Yeah, maybe a sloth.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Pain of the Process

This has been the week--or should I say--the weeks of the knitted fingerless mitt.  Two weeks, one mitt.
You may remember me beginning this waaaaaay back in February.  Well, something was going wrong with it, and I couldn't figure out what, and I was in the midst of school, so knitting went to the very end of my list and I went back to crochet and happily made a sweater--a little step up in my skills, but not overly complicated.

So, now that school is out, and I have decompressed for awhile knitting a simple garter stitch saw toothed scarf and reading a Maeve Binchy novel (always soothing), I decided I had the brain for getting back to the mitts--which became a project I was certain was not meant for me to make.

I made every beginner's mistake possible many, many times--dropping stitches and not knowing exactly how to get them back and unraveling so much in the process that I lost my way and had to rip out altogether, loosing stitches off the needle, making inadvertent yarn overs and adding stitches, etc., etc.   One morning I'd have all but four rows left to go, and in two hours, I'd be back with a big ball of yarn.  I watched video after video.  I tried DPNs and magic loop.  I read disheartening and unhelpful comments on Ravelry ("quick and easy," "so easy,"  "I made these over the weekend").  I dreamed the pattern.  I was just determined not to let this thing get the better of me.  If other people could figure out how to do this--well!  so could I.

Meantime, during my frustration at the hours and hours spent casting on and going again, and again, and again, I kept reminding myself that learning is about the process not the product--or that's what I always preach as a teacher anyway--"Don't focus so much on the grade," I have told my students, "Think of what you learned in the process."  Oi!  I was not enjoying my knitting process very much.  No wonder my students look at me like they'd like to throw a pie in my face--or worse.  Yeah, lady, right, I can hear them say.  Which is how I felt--still feel--about this make.  It was hard and frustrating, yet I was choosing to do it.  Why??  After all, I could just go out and buy some fingerless mitts if I really wanted to--and I won't even need any for another half a year or so anyway--if then.  It's Atlanta for pete's sake--you never really need gloves of any kind here.

But there was something that made me want to be able to do this, and now that I have and am starting on the next mitt (and actually I will have to make a third too because after all that, this one is a tad too small, which is why I didn't finish up the thumb part) I really do feel a kind of victory and satisfaction that giving up would not have satisfied.  I know that I am a little unusual in this--that I have a tremendous tenacity.  So, I think I am going to use this mitt as an example--a visual aid for my students in the fall--when we talk about grit and success and towing the hard line.

I am sure my next two mitts will come a little easier, but I am also sure that I will not make them all in one go without stopping a lot to breathe and rest and clear my head and probably ripping out.  I'm going to have to figure out the thumb part and re-examine that bind off.  The process is ongoing.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of a salad we ate yesterday with vegetables from our fabulous garden!  We grew the sugar snap peas, the eggplant, the cucumber, and the tomatoes!  Yea!

And--here's my crochet sweater. (It gave me a bit of a chainmail vibe before the detail work.  My sister thinks it could be part of a Joan of Arc outfit!)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Swan House

Last night we went to another art show--this one much more uptown than the last.  After perusing a lot of tasteful art objects well out of our price range, we decided to wander the adjoining grounds for a bit even though the gates were all closed.  We started off by following a deer--really an actual deer--into a little wooded area by the car park which somehow happily got us around the gate and onto the grounds of this estate (which is actually used as a historical museum).

We were the only two there, and I felt like I was in the book Atonement or some English murder mystery.  I was jokily looking for a body poking out from a hedge or something.

It's fun to imagine being a person living here or just going to a big party with people like Scott Fitzgerald, etc.

Actually, as it happens, I did go to a charily sponsored Easter-egg hunt here once.  Though, it wasn't really the same--no dancing or hedonistic carrying on--alas.

I have to say I preferred this swan and child statue MUCH more than the weird Leda and the Swan statue I saw in Florence recently.  That story and sculpture are just too weird and have ruined swans for me, I'm afraid.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Art Space

To me there is something romantic in the idea of the artist's studio, spaces to get away from the world and create things.  This artist space is one of my favorites.

Of course, the fact that there is space for goats biases me completely!

I'm struggling with my camera though.  I took so many photos here and most of them turned out terribly.  The ones here are only so-so. Part of the trouble is my eyes which are starting to fail me, and another part is my impatience, some of it has to do with my camera.  Few of these pictures are as crisp as I want them to be, but I am posting them anyway.

You know, there's that idea of 'a room of one's own.'  I love the thought of washed wood floors and flowers in a simple jar and everything spare and light.  But really, when I am in the creative zone, the physical room hardly matters, as it disappears. The room I am in becomes the room--the world, the day, the moment, the breath--my mind creates.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Last weekend we went to ride the ferris wheel.  The air at night is light and cool (for now) and it's nice to be out and about.

I love that now that school is out for holiday, I can resume my "real" life which includes going out after dark at night instead of starting my day with the moon!

Here is a picture from this afternoon as the grads waited for the ceremony to begin.  I particularly love this class (2015).

I had 45 of them in my last class of the day when they were 10th graders.  I had 39 of them in the class just before.  Never have I had such packed classes, and it was only possible because they were so good.    I am leaving this school for another one (after 10 years), and it was a great way close the experience, smiling with so many wonderful young people.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Goats and More!

It was a full and lovely Mother's Day.  We started off eating Hungarian crepes cooked up on a portable stove by a sweet entrepreneurial lady who set up shop in what is sort of a closet or space adjoined to an old time gas station that has become some kind of never-open shop.  Then we headed out of town (sort of--it is so woodsy it feels out-of-town anyway) to a little miniature animal farm.

These are Nigerian goats!  Only after we left did my husband dare tell me they sell these little dears!  After enjoying many little cows, BABY PIGS!!!!, alpacas, teeny ponies, baby sheep, and combing grateful shedding ponies, we decided to wander along the river to look for--yes--snakes.

And what a find!  An eastern king snake.  We were just commenting how there was probably a snake right under our noses, but we could never seem to spot them like my son, when we turned away and Bam! My son pulled this guy out of the underbrush, just like that.