Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A finish

The soft shoulder cowl is finished and I am quite pleased. I blocked it by soaking and this is the first time I used Eucalan. So far as I can tell it worked like a charm. The piece has a soft feel a lovely drape, as you can probably tell by the picture.

So as soon as the one is done I am off and going on a new project. A pair of Zip Mitts is the order of the day. I will be quite the colorful, cozy person when all these projects are done. I do not know what compelled me to choose bright red when I've only just finished a yellow cowl... well I suppose I do. It's that it is beautiful!

You really should check out {and buy some} Cestari Yarn. I love that the company is small, Virginia-based farm that grows both its wool and cotton here, mills it here and sells it here. Pictured above is their Mt. Vernon Collection (2ply worsted fine merino) in the dahlia color way. All of their kettle dyed colors are stunning.

On the reading front, much is the same only I have added into the mix: Patrick Taylor's An Irish Country Doctor. It is very similar to the James Herriot books only in Ireland and with people instead of animals. Nothing to tax the mind here, and on audio, the narrator's Irish accent is pure delight.

What are you knitting and reading? Show and tell with Ginny and the others.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Our Walks

the walnut tree from the end of the road

We have started what I hope will become a habit. I say this because we have done it two days in a row and I do not classify doing something twice as being a habit but it will not become one until we decide it is one. Habits are funny things.

So we walked to the end of the road; not our street, and not the next street but where the neighborhood meets the road that has business on it instead of just homes. Going there and back again twice fulfills my need to walk three miles, three times a week. I read somewhere that this is the recipe for avoiding diabetes. I have a somewhat rational fear of diabetes (coupled with a completely irrational fear of scurvy) and so we will walk.

Along the way last night, as we walked and talked and laughed, we saw cedar waxwings and eastern bluebirds by the handfuls. It is warbler season and the little flitting, flying, caterpillar chasing things still get the best of us. Too fast for us, they are.

On the first lap through, we passed The House With The Golden Retrievers and there was a teenager stabbing the ground with a pitchfork. Ears plugged with headphones, he never even looked up for a "hello." On the second lap, in his place was his dad, spreading grass seed onto The Bank That Will Not Grow Grass and lamenting. We stopped for a chat. "Throwing money on the ground, that's all I'm doing," he said. "For fifteen years I've been trying to get this bank to grow grass and it never works, maybe this time it will." Yes, maybe this time it will. Habits are funny things.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

public lands day

Today is National Public Lands day - and event that is celebrated annually to raise awareness and volunteerism for public lands. Many national/state parks offer free programing and discounted entry fees in exchange for acts of volunteering to help spiff things up a bit.

We went out with our local bird club through some backwoods, off limits areas of the High Bridge State Park. In exchange for getting to see some beautiful countryside that isn't open to the public yet (and some new-this-year birds) we helped clean up an old homestead site. The folks that lived here lived modestly but really enjoyed their soda!

Julian and I have had a great many adventures on public lands, riding our bike, kayaking, etc. In fact, most of our vacations are spent there. These places are supported by tax money, so get out there in nature, find something new, have a great adventure, and get your money's worth!

Friday, September 25, 2015


Just as yesterday was the perfect first day of fall, today is the perfect NEXT day of fall. It has been drippy. We bought a rain gauge at Goodwill this past Monday. It has dripped all day and the rain gauge remains empty. Farmville has a funny way of doing this. Our weather forecast for today was 70% chance of rain with accumulation of up to less than one tenth of an inch. Julian and I joke that what the weather man really means is cloudy with a heavy dew. But the grass is green and the dampness suits us just fine. We seeded the lawn last Friday and this is just the perfect weather for growing grass.

The leaves are just beginning to think of changing. The ones on the ground already are just the weaklings, the ones that said this nasty dry spell was more than they can bear, they quit without even changing. They didn't "change" - they browned.

The vegetables do not know that fall is coming. I know and I am nervous. Please tomatoes, ripen and give me good seeds for next year. As I type this, I can see a squirrel feverishly searching for the perfect spot to cache his hickory nut. No, not beside the crape myrtle, not beside the bird feeder. Yes, right in the middle of the yard. He knows, and he is nervous.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

{Yarn Along} Bean Trees

I will finish my Soft Shoulder Cowl this week. I had gotten stalled by my improv seed stitch not coming out like I wanted it to but I didn't know what to do from there. I am ripping back today and will count my stitches again to see if the knot stitch or the bee stitch is the best choice, as I need a certain number for either one.

I am reading two books at the moment. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver has started off well. I don't want to put it down but as I told someone, I'm not sure it is for the right reasons! I had nightmares all night long and I am sure the book is only partly to blame, with the nightly news headlines being the most guilty culprit. You may know this author from her most popular novel, The Poisonwood Bible. The Bean Trees was her first novel and I don't know about you but I was just starting chapter books in 1989.

Also going (on audio) is EM Forster's A Passage to India. I'm having a hard time getting into it, as none of the characters have started off strongly. I also finished Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers in what was quite possibly the longest time a short book has taken me. I enjoyed it a great deal and found myself chuckling often.

I do not recall if I mentioned that I read Jan Karon's new title, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good. It completely fell flat for me. I felt like there was no plot for a rather out-of-the-blue suicide attempt. Perhaps I am too far removed from the tiny town of Mitford to have appreciated it as it has been about five years since I read the rest of the series. I hope the next book, Come Rain or Come Shine, shapes up a little better.

What are you working on? Show and tell with Ginny and the others at Simple Things.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


We got rain last week which brought us back from the brink. I am always so surprised by how rain makes ME feel so much better, never mind the plants. Maybe I am a plant... and impatien, probably.

The rain coupled with some cooler nights are giving everything a bit of a growth spurt, weeds included. The brussels sprouts are in the ground with the red kale. The purple sprouting broccoli has sprouted but isn't planted out yet. The swiss chard is coming into its own. The okra has gone rather feral. The daffodils have been re-homed to make way for the strawberry patch.

I'm thinking I have about a month left before the frost. A real autumn growing season is new for me, so I hope come November, I'm filling this space with harvest delights and reports of great success. This is assuming the leaves don't get the best of this little lady in this little house in the big woods. The leaves, the leaves...

Friday, September 18, 2015


I've gotten to the point in my knitting project - the time-to-finish-it-up point  - that always leaves me so thankful for the power of blocking. You know, the time that you cast on a new project.

The remainder of the cowl has 2 inches of some weird stitch that I'm not wild about because it looks like crochet. If I wanted it to look like crochet, I wouldn't be knitting, so I tried a seed stitch. The seed stitch is both occupying too much brain power (pathetic I know) and this yarn isn't really giving me the texture I had hoped for. Now to find another neat textured stitch... perhaps I'll knit a sampler cowl *eyeroll*

Linking up (late) with Ginny @ Small Things.

Monday, September 14, 2015

lake day

Sunday was one of those kinds of day when each of us can say to the other, "what a beautiful day!" several times and it never gets old. It was just that perfect.

When we moved back to Virginia, we applied for lifetime fishing licenses. They came in the mail Saturday so we took the opportunity Sunday to get out. Of course, there is fishing but the licenses also give us access to "fee use" areas such as Briery Creek Wildlife Management Area, where these photos were snapped.

The lake is managed for bass and duck. As you can see from a few of the pictures, the water level is very low. We learned that the managers drain water off the lake so the vegetation can grow back and in the spring, they will raise the lake again, thereby feeding dabbling ducks and fish.

The lake was man-made and instead of clearing the space completely, the VDGIF just flooded it and let the trees stay. Now the environment is perfect for fish (and kayakers, and osprey, and giant snapping turtles) even though in parts it has a sort of Dead Marshes feel to it.

How did you spend your weekend? Did anyone happen to mention - Sunday was such a beautiful day!

Friday, September 11, 2015

humdrum kitchen


hawaiian beef teriyaki :: tomato sauce in the making :: {almost} full english breakfast 
fried apples :: cider muffins :: fried okra from the garden

I've been struggling lately in the kitchen. I don't really want to cook much, there are so many other, more gratifying chores to do. We've been eating breakfast for dinner more than I'd like. And rice. Lots of rice.

What have you been eating? What should I be cooking? The only thing I DO want to be cooking is stuff that we ought not be eating (see here).

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Yorktown Knits


soft shoulder cowl :: the great picnic :: our schooners :: yorktown beach :: back at the pier 
the british surrender in 500 pieces :: some reading ideas :: beach :: breeze :: symphony :: sails

This past weekend, we visited Yorktown and Williamsburg and, of course, the knitting went along. Wouldn't it be neat if all the knitted projects of the world kept travel journals?

Yorktown was a lovely, lovely day trip {see previous post}. I did get some knitting done while we picnicked with my family and watched the Yorktown Fife and Drum corps open for the Virginia Symphony. We were not prepared for the fact that picnics could be judged for prizes! Had I known I would have turned out a much more impressive display.

The riverfront had a great used bookstore and though I didn't buy anything, I snapped photos of books I'd like to check out for future reading. Julian is on The Nine Tailors, and mentioned that Murder Must Advertise was not his favorite. I am only now getting through Whose Body? after finishing All The Light We Cannot See and re-reading the D'Aulaires Book of Greek Mythology.

All the Light We Cannot See is a beautifully written book and a wonderful, wonderful story, but for some reason it left me feeling unresolved at the end. I say that about most novels these days - maybe I am just not very easy to please. While I appreciate books that do not pander to predictability, perhaps the reason plots are predictable is because our human nature is predictable in that we all want the same things: resolution, harmony, order.

What are you knitting and reading? Show and tell with Ginny and the others.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


My sister and brother in law made plans for the whole family to get away to Williamsburg this long weekend. It was nice to have a change of scenery after Julian's first two weeks of classes. On Saturday, the four of us went to Yorktown in the afternoon for a schooner trip down the York River. This is a historically fascinating part of our state and one I am not very familiar with, so it certainly piqued my curiosity. Growing up in Lexington, we were surrounded by information about the Civil War but not as much about the Revolutionary War, despite it still being relevant to our state.

The boat was incredible. I think this experience was the first time any of us had been on a vessel powered completely by sail, and with our very different backgrounds, it is hard to find something no one in the group has ever done!

Mom and Dad joined us that evening for the Virginia Symphony performance on the beach. We returned back to Williamsburg and visited Colonial Williamsburg on Sunday and the outlet malls on Monday. The whole experience, though shorter than I would have liked, was a great way to tip our hats to summer before we soldier on toward fall.