Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Dear Mom,

I firmly believe in celebrating our Independence, and remembering, with gratitude, the sacrifice, bravery, dedication, inspiration and FAITH of our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) as they drafted and printed that Declaration which "brought forth on this continent, a new nation". God Bless America,  land that I love!

Unfortunately, for Olive, this is the night that the sky is falling.

 Actually, it has been falling in little pieces all week.
Tonight will be bad. Tomorrow (after all those fireworks go on sale at clearance prices) will be worse.

We have the Thundershirt ready.
We have extra strength prescription meds from the veterinarian.
Even with these interventions a panting, trembling Olive will be glued to my side. We'll either need to build a blanket fort over the dining room table for shelter, or go to bed before sunset, turn on the tv for white noise, and hide under the covers. I'll have a flashlight and a good book.

Monday, June 22, 2015


Dear Mom,
We've had plenty of rain, and heat and humidity, too, and my flower garden is blooming!
Dame's Rocket


Bee Balm

Tickseed, Delphinium, Hollyhock

Morning sun on Marigolds

Oak tree sprouting from an acorn! I found the freshly sprouting acorn when prepping the
soil for the new flower garden. I am sure a squirrel planted it under the hot tub.

Isn't the Hollyhock beautiful?

The zinnia's are beginning to bloom also. I have a snapdragon, pincushion flower and a zinnia in the milk glass bud vase on my kitchen window sill.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

How Does My Garden Grow?

Dear Mom,
Can you believe a month has gone by since we planted the cottage flower garden? So far, everything seems to be thriving. I've just lost one english daisy and the delphinium I transplanted has disappeared. I'll make a trip tour favorite local nursery to replace them. I've added some Dame's Rocket transplants from a friend's garden and some sort of sedum ground cover between stepping stones from the same friend's garden.  I need to thin out the marigold seedlings, which will require some hard hearted-ness on my part. I am not sure I can actually do it. I think every single marigold seed germinated! I should probably sprinkle more zinnia seeds throughout some of the bare spots as fillers until the perennials can.
The temporary Olive barrier fence is still in place. I've tripped over it enough times that I am ready to take it down and keep my fingers crossed that she will not trample everything. However, the fence  is now working hard at keeping the peonies from falling into and smothering the cranesbill so it will remain until I invest in a plant support for the peony.

I planted both perennial and biennial varieties of foxglove. It is the biennial foxglove that is blooming now.
This is ice plant- something I'd never heard of before. I fell in love with the charming little daisy-like flowers. The foliage looks like it is a succulent of some sort. The flowers open and close with the sunshine.

English daisy

Daisy and columbine in bloom along the fence border, under the pussy willow. I've planted stock, asters and pinks along the edge.

The fruit on the serviceberry trees is ripening. We planted one just outside the screened porch to filter the sun as it sets. I have a somewhat hidden spot to watch the birds eat the fruit. They are quite determined and acrobatic, and extremely entertaining. 

I've tried three times to get this next photo to load vertically, not horizontally. I give up. Just tilt your head onto your right shoulder and pretend. 
I am slowly but surely lining the borders in the back yard with rocks. A new cul-de-sac is being developed as part of our neighborhood, in what has been part of a horse farm for as long as I can remember. I wish some things could stay the same. Anyway, that abused and savaged piece of farm field is ripe for rock hunting, and My Hero and I armed ourselves with a shovel and the wagon and went hunting. I was able to fill in one section and have 3 more areas I'd like to cover. Don't worry, I won't line the entire back yard! 

As I am writing this and uploading photos, I realize that our backyard is a reflection on the new chapter in our lives. We've taken the swing set down.  17 and 21 year olds don't climb into tree forts, slide down curvy slides and see how high they can swing. Our goal was to raise adults, not children and letting the swing set go is expected. However,  I can't help but wonder if Maybe the world would be happier if we never stopped swinging.  

As I contemplated the demise of the swing set, I began to plot a use for some of the lumber. Up 'til now, my clothesline has been a retractable line that extended from the house to the swing set. Might we build a real clothesline with some of the salvaged swing set? 

 I now have 4 lines for pegging up my wash. I think I will actually be able to dry all the sheets and pillowcases and maybe even a blanket at the same time. 

And lastly, because we are talking flowers and marigolds- here is the shawl I knitted using the handspun, marigold dyed yarn. Elle decided to tiptoe through the tulips squat in the marigolds for this photo shoot. I used Orlane's Textured Shawl Recipe, and knit up every single centimeter of the yarn. (I had to go to the tiny bit that was left on a bobbin to finish binding off the last 20 stitches.)

 This came off the needles last night and blocked and dried while I slept. There is something very soothing about knitting and wearing shawls. This one is knit from the top down, so I cast on using the skein with the least amount of yardage and worked my way up in yardage as I worked my way down the shawl. It will be nice wearing this one with its ties to summer marigold flowers.

Enjoy the sunshine and blue sky. My sheets are going to smell heavenly!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Race Day

Dear Mom,

I don't want to look at the camera.
I really don't want to look!
Please, PLEASE  don't make me look!

Olive, Will you do it for a Cookie?

Can I just look at the treat?
This is as good as it's gonna get.

Unless I can sneak up on her…..

Good Dog.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Not My Gift

Dear Mom,
Painting watercolors is clearly not My Gift, but as MelissaWhoSpins told me, it is good because it is not fiber-related. Something inside me has shifted and I've gone from being tickled when something sort of turned out okay totally by accident, to being discouraged because the paintings don't always turn out okay.

Maybe my standard of what is okay has shifted.

I still have lots to learn. This is good. I like learning.
For me, a Big Part of that learning is knowing when to keep going and when to quit. And to be patient and let the paint dry, goshdangit.

This landscape was a class project a couple of weeks ago. It went through an awkward teenage phase and I really didn't like it, but then I fussed about and somehow by mistake it all worked out.
Next up…
I got this far on this and was happy enough with how it looked to be scared that I would ruin it before I finished.
Olive was lending moral support. She is never too far from my fingertips. I love that.

Such was my fear that I didn't touch that painting from last week's class to this week's. Today I got it nearly done and then it needed some teacher intervention/correction/rescue attempt. When I got home I made another attempt at finishing touches. I think I need to call it quits on this one and know I learned from it.

I may need to reproduce this same image, much the way I obsessively painted all those pears, and see if I can get it right. Or I'll just fuss this one into a sodden lump of wilted paper.


Monday, May 18, 2015


Dear Mom,
It is nearly noon on Monday as I write this. I am puttering, still in my jammies (but wearing an apron!) and because I've crossed many things off my To Do list, I am rewarding myself with a fresh pot of tea and some blog catch up time. We had a busy weekend and sitting here in my quiet house feels good.

It is that time of year when keeping on top of the outside and inside work is overwhelming and feels impossible. We've had a string of wet, humid days and yesterday, even though I knew Olive would be tracking wet paw prints in, I could stand the condition of the kitchen floor no longer and mopped it. I think it took at least an hour to dry. I know it is cleaner that it was yesterday, but it looks like a floor that dried in puddles and prints.

The busy weekend really started on Friday. I taught my knitting class on Friday morning, got home in time to take Olive to an appointment for laser therapy on her elbows, then picked you and your garden tiller up on the way home (scaring Olive with the tiller handles hanging over the back seat). We dropped off the tiller, headed to The French Seam to take advantage of their Birthday Sale- I got fabric for another Factory Dress and buttons for a sweater- and then home to till up the garden.
Knowing that rain was coming, I did manage to get the vegetable garden planted on Friday evening. I was a sweat-soaked, limp rag when I finished. My glasses were sliding down my nose, sweat was dripping in my eyes and when I showered, my clothes peeled off in twisted clumps.
Carrying on with my 'Keep it Simple' approach, I only planted tomatoes and green beans this year. In March I planted potatoes in big containers and added cabbage on top, knowing the cabbages will be harvested before the potatoes are ready.

After all that I should have fallen asleep as soon as I sat down. I must have been running on an adrenaline burst or something because I stayed up very late. I finished a sweater and stayed up to watch the newest episode of Outlander as soon as it was available for viewing  On Demand at midnight.

Here is the sweater, freshly blocked and finally dry. Knitting with cotton is never my favorite thing, but this Rowan Handknit Cotton is agreeable. My hands are ready for wool, though. I've been contemplating shawl patterns that I can knit using my marigold dyed handspun.

This sweater is  a basic raglan cardigan. I made a sort of hybrid neckline- taking some of the stitches out, crew-neck style, right away, and then decreasing the rest in a gentle v-neck slope.
I picked up the button/neck band and mitered the corners, adding 2 stitches, every other row, to the outer corners and decreasing one stitch on the "inner" corners every 3rd row. It worked out as I'd hoped it would.
The stitch pattern is "Wildflower Knot Stitch" from one of the Barbara Walker Stitch Treasuries. I've used this in sweaters before. It is one of my favorites. Here are some close-ups of the buttons I purchased on Friday. Aren't they perfect?!
You can see, in that first photo, and in this next photo, that my flower garden is coming along. The peony, no longer blocked by the hot tub, is thriving. It should start blooming soon.
I've had to put some temporary wire fencing around the garden to keep Olive from running through and bringing mud in. The nasturtiums are sprouting in the planter beneath the bird feeder. It looks like I've just lost one english daisy- everything else looks healthy and my marigold and zinnia seeds have sprouted. I have had thousands of safflower seeds to weed. I wish the birds were just a little bit neater. I use safflower seeds in the feeder because the squirrels don't like it. Having that feeder right outside the kitchen window in enchanting and I was treated a week or two ago with this:

A pair of rose breasted grosbeaks were guests for a few days. I was hoping they would stay for the season (I'd already named them), but I think we were just a stop on their spring migration.

Okay. One more thing and then I really should get dressed! Writing this blog post was interrupted once when Olive accidentally-on-purpose opened the storm door and ran out to chase our neighborhood fox. I must not have had the door locked firmly. Luckily she did not run far and is not built for speed. I am sure I was a sight to see frantically chasing after her in my jammies and apron with leash in hand. Thankfully, she fell for my desperate shout of "car ride" and the view of her leash pin my hands and came running. I guess she is also proving that the laser therapy is working, because she did not come limping back after that effort.

I have more watercolors to show you, but I'll save that for another day.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Dear Mom,
My visit to The Fiber Event in Greencastle a few weeks ago inspired motivated me to get spinning. I have 3 rather large boxes of roving to get through and have more coming once the angora from Duncan is processed.
I finally finished spinning the wool I dyed with marigolds last summer. It's not that there was so much of it to spin; I just needed to buckle down and spend time spinning it.
There should be enough to knit a shawl. I ply-ed it to take advantage of the gradient shades.

The next bundle of roving I pulled from the stash was one that I dyed in the workshop I took at Tabby Tree a long time ago….

 Oh my. I see from THIS POST that I took that workshop 5 years ago!
Oh well. Five years ago I would not have been able to spin that roving into something this lovely. I think this just might be the prettiest yarn I've spun so far.

I am so enamored with it that I am taking its picture wherever I think it will look prettiest. It is only the fear of having to explain myself to a neighbor that has stopped me from draping the yarn in the lilac bushes.