Sunday, July 25, 2021

Rock City and a Knitting Finish


Well, here they are, my cozy little bunnies. They are all ready for winter in their new sweaters. They must have been roasting in the July heat when I made them pose for this picture! This was a fun project and if I had worked on it more diligently, I am sure I could have finished it faster. I could make them some pants, but I'm not going too. I think they are fine just as they are. The pattern is the Christopher Bunny Pattern by Barrett Wool.

We decided to take a little trip to Rock City. We hadn't been there in many years. I remember being happily impressed by it. I had heard it was all trails and hokey gnomes, but really, it is more about the rocks. It is part natural unfathomably old humongous stones, and part man-made path and archways to connect it all together.

There's the feel of old tourist park about it, coming from the stonework on and along the pathways. There used to be some constructed cave like rooms with musty mouse-frayed gnomes and elves who appeared to be miners. Some of this was still here, but it has been overhauled. The gnome bits are is still pretty corny, though less moth-eaten.

When I was a little girl, my grandma and grandpa used to travel around in a camper. Rock City was one of the places they visited and they bought one of those iconic red and black bird houses, like this one at the entrance of the park. It was originally an advertisement that used to be painted on barns to entice East Coast northerners to stop in on their drive down to Florida, I guess.

My grandparents lived a long way from Rock City--way out in New Mexico. 

This picture (from over 30 years ago--yipe!) shows the rock garden in my grandmother's back yard. Rock gardens are not uncommon in New Mexico, but my grandma hand picked most of those rocks from her travels. It was like she knew each rock. I remember her saying, "Look at this one, he's a little turtle." And, "Now where is it? Oh! Here it is! Doesn't it look like a hamburger?"  She liked this Rock City bird house because it announced her Rock City, and was part of her treasure load.

There were so many great rocks there. My mom mailed some to my oldest son once, and we laughed about mailing a box of rocks! We still have those rocks around here.

I always thought I would be able to go back there and pick up a load of rocks and shells and other souvenirs that lay out weathering in that garden, but life is complicated and I never got back and the property was sold, and who knows what became of it all? 

I'm not too sad about all that. As they say, "you can't take it with you" anyway. This week, our trip to Rock City, was also a little trip with my grandma. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Like a Train

Earlier this week, we were able to get out of the house and go visit my son at his work. These happy murals are painted on the buildings near where he works.  It was so good to see him!

It was nice to be out in the city in the sun. This has been such a rainy summer and a stay-at-home summer.
Which isn't entirely bad. 
We are inundated with tomatoes now. I think I could eat tomato and mozzarella on toast sandwiches every day for the rest of my life.

Last night, we went to a birthday party. It was at a semi-outdoors location and was almost rained out. Everyone was zig-zagging around through gallons of standing water, massive puddles. A too loud, not so good, band blasted cover songs from the indoor part of the building. But everyone seemed happy. People were just glad to be socializing, having a bite of cake and a chat with someone they had never met before.

A train clattered by on the tracks the building opened on to, and I stood for a moment watching that train and thinking of all the summers past, one after the other, pulled along like those train cars. The rhythm of summers from childhood when the back porch playroom smelled of vinegar and dill from a long day of my mother canning pickles, to the punk rock clubs where I stood on the night time fire escapes when I was in my twenties, to the night when the boys were asleep in a cheap motel in Wyoming and their dad and I sat on the concrete sidewalk and laughed and ate fried cheese.
The Summers.
Here comes a writing I think. It's been nagging around in my head for weeks. I've got eight days. I write it in eight days, can't I? At least a draft.
I'm sure I can.
Happy Summer, everyone!

Sunday, June 27, 2021

A Reason to Stay

 We wake up not too early in the morning and sit at the table eating our breakfasts and looking out the window.

This week and last, we worked on catching up on all The New Yorker magazine crossword puzzles. Some of them are harder than others. All of them make us groan and laugh. Our areas of knowledge compliment each other, so we always finish the puzzle. 

I could not knit my rabbits their sweaters because I did not have the right size double pointed needles. !! I always think I am so prepared, that really, I have every needle, don't I? Apparently not. I had to order size 4 dpns. Meantime, I started a summer cardigan in cotton. 

It took me three swatches and a note to the designer to finally feel confident enough to cast on. (Of course, I had to order needles for this too once I got close enough to the required gauge!)

What I have really been thinking about lately, is an Iranian movie called Taste of Cherry by Abbas Kiarostami. The title of this movie comes from a story one of the men in the movie tells. He explains how he felt hopeless in life and left his home one morning biding his wife and children goodbye in the normal way, but knowing inside this was the last they would see of each other. He went off into the countryside and climbed a tree with the aim of hanging himself, but hesitated for some long length of time--and then he noticed cherries in the tree. He ate the cherry and the glory of the world burst out for him. How could a person leave the world, never again to taste the sweetness of a cherry? 

Now, I know some may see this as--well, what about his wife and children? Weren't they important enough for him to stay? But the depressed person does not think that way. For this man, the visceral experience of the cherry opened his eyes, his senses, stirred in him what it is to be human, and he went back home and his family was none the wiser of what he had gone through that day.

I think about this a lot. Taste of Cherry is an unusual movie, but the ideas in it always tickle at the edges of my mind. Often, I think, all of us, need to pause at the seemingly mundane and rediscover the wonder of living. Breathe like a poet for a moment.  For me, this week, the sound of rain caught me. The smell of rain. One of the great pleasures of life. Another reason to stay.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Slow Summer Days

This week we have been working on clearing some of the sediment out of the pond so that the water will be clearer. I think we will need to do another treatment after the rains subside. It is a process of adding something called flocculent and then catching all the sediment that clumps up in quilting padding as it flows to the pump. This means keeping an ear/eye out for when the water can no longer move through the padding and having to jump up and change it. It's a good time to sit and read or knit or work outside. The work isn't hard, it's just a little messy and you have to be there.

Here is a little goldfinch friend who comes to eat the cone flower (echinacea) seeds. He's a little early for these flowers I think.

In summer, we love to eat simple salads and lots of fruit. I make a smoothie almost every day for lunch. Of course we have LOADS of cucumbers. We have given sack fulls to all our neighbors and we still have more! 

The half sour pickles came out delicious!

But sometimes, the healthy eating gets pushed aside. This week we made s'mores. I was so craving them. And they were great--even without the campfire--haha. 

I've been working on knitting a pair of little rabbits. The second one is almost done. All he needs are his legs and tail. Then I will knit each of them a sweater. This is a sweet summer project because there is no long heavy fabric to deal with. Christopher Rabbit Pattern

The balloon flowers and gladiolas are opening. So beautiful!

It was a lovely slow week here. Hope yours it going well too!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

In the Garden

 So, the vegetables:

We got lots of peas before the powdery mildew and heat did them in. I just pulled out all the plants yesterday. We'll plant cowpeas there next, which should go good for the rest of the summer.

The cucumbers exploded. We've been eating them every day. I canned a few jars of bread and butter pickles and my husband made some jars of half sour spears. There are still plenty to put in salad and give away.

We've also got a bunch of eggplants coming and pablano peppers and bell peppers and jalapeno peppers too. (We love peppers!) If we can find them, we will add some shishito peppers. We love to pan roast them in olive oil, salt them, and eat them as a snack.

And of course we have tomatoes. We just picked the first one yesterday. This year, we are trying the string between posts method to keep them upright. Last year, they were huge and out-of-control. We hadn't anticipated that. The plants quickly grew out of their spiral tomato cages and I had a mishmash of garden frames and stakes holding them up. So far, the string and post method is working well.

And then, the flowers:

Well, everything is just happy as ever.

Lace cap hydrangea. We have loads of these in white and purple.

I had to stretch and hold my camera up over these six foot beauties.

Gorgeous ones like these only last a day or two!

Cat whisker reseeds itself
and grows like a weed. This year, I am letting some of them stay in certain areas of the garden.

We have few plants growing in the pond this year. Last year they were sucking up so much water we felt like we were refilling it nearly every day.

I had to stake these hydrangeas this morning because they were blocking the gate. We've also go an incredibly huge patch of blue one.

I know it's not for everyone, but I am so happy to work outdoors nearly every day. I love going out and pulling weeds and smelling gardenias and listening to the birds (or my audio book). I love staking overgrown plants and de-heading and trimming back and fertilizing. I love that bees come here and butterflies and hummingbirds and dragon flies. I love all the many bird regulars who nest around here. I love to see (or hear!) the occasional frog.

I hope you have a great rest of your week!

Sunday, May 2, 2021


 Oh my goodness! Is it May already?

April was a fast and busy month. I finished knitting my Stopover sweater! I am super excited about how well it turned out.  These colors were suggested by the pattern. I am not good at dreaming up my own color combinations or adapting other yarns. Often, I am attracted to a pattern because of the colors in the picture. I loved these colors.

I am excited to try another sweater like this, but I'm going to wait until the weather cools down. Right now, I'm working on a little rabbit.  He came as part of a kit.

So far I have the head and one ear done. 

I haven't been knitting too much because I wanted to get the garden planted. I have spent a lot of time working on the vegetables and planting lots of flower seeds.

The plants just love this sunny space and it has been fun to watch everything grow day by day. 

It has also been irritating to find plants (though not the vegetables--thank goodness) devoured by slugs. I trap them in jar lids filled with beer. Most of them are very small (but they are plentiful). I did find one mack-daddy of a slug though. (Alas, he never made it to the 'bar').

School is winding down and everyone is tired, teachers and students. It will be good to see an end to this school year. We are all on a countdown. I am looking forward to a long break.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Pollen Time

 Pollen is a serious thing here. We have so many trees and flowers that bloom around this time of year, and on top of that there are the pine trees. When you live with pines, you know they bless you in different ways every season. In the early summer, squirrels chew the seeds out of the pine cones and litter the ground with peeled petals and discarded cobs. In the fall, pine straw covers the ground, and in the spring there is the glory of golden pollen which clings to everything. Just this morning I had to use my windshield wipers to clear the the glass enough to see to drive.

Here is a cluster of pollen cones that a squirrel cleared during a "road work" session. These are green and haven't opened yet.

 I haven't been knitting too much. I have only just finished the sleeves of my sweater and connected them to the body. I've been busy outside the garden instead, cleaning everything up and making sure the plants are all ready for spring. And we've put in some new raised beds since we discovered last year how well vegetables do in this space.

It is a joy to see so many plants blooming and pushing up from the earth.

It's always fun to find such odd little things like this cocoon. 

I have a little shelf outside where I collect some of the things that turn up in the yard. By summer's end there will be more bird nests. 

I've got one more week of school until spring break. I am so excited! Of course I have all kinds of gardening and knitting and reading plans. 

Until then, here is a little video of the pollen. Really, just so you know this is the norm and will continue for a few more weeks.