Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It's 64 degrees inside this morning, and I'm opening the house up, because I'm certain that it's warmer outside! The east coast is having a snap of fall weather, as P said it was cold in DC yesterday. Well it could be that we're just hothouse flowers, transplanted from the tropics, but it does feel nippy, and the Must Have cardigan has finally felt like something other than overkill!

Back when it was warm, aka, last week, I broke out the ice cream maker and whipped up a batch of vanilla ice cream.
Was intending to make a fig/lemon recipe, but my figs were few and not really that luscious, so I satisfied myself by eating them with chevre instead. What we made, this dreamy french vanilla, involving a cooked custard and real vanilla bean, was yummy and consumed with some hot fudge sauce. I have a problem with maintaining the texture of my homemade ice creams; they go a bit icy in the freezer. My research reveals that maybe 2 eggs in the custard are insufficient. Mayhaps 5 or 6 are needed. Yeesh. I saw a recipe that called for 8, suddenly making 5 eggs seem not all that excessive.

Pleased to find another spindler in my knit group. It gives me the motivation to go on with this silly little fascination of mine with making small amounts of inconsistent (ie, Novelty Yarn) and wrecking my wrists in the process. I have spun up all the blue and brown Romney, and am now in the process of plying it, which goes slowly, and with much attendant wrist and elbow soreness. I will post the finished yarn, which I don't think is going to make my hoped-for 200 yards goal.
I do think this roving is really pretty drafted up, and I'm hoping the yarn itself will soften upon washing, as it's a wee bit scratchy now.

Because of the (ahem) chill around here, I started knitting Wanette Clyde's Felicity hat. I had some Cascade Dolce in my stash, and I'm hoping it's enough, since I sized up the needles to #6 and #8. The Dolce is my new true yarn love, soft, shiny and strong all at once. I have never knit a hat I liked, due more to mismatches of pattern and yarn and gauge than any real dearth of good hat patterns out there, but I'm hopeful for this one, as my hat buying days are over, or so I intend them to be.

More coffee is called for at this point.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

fall cleaning and planting

Temperatures are plunging...50's in the morning, and we're supposed to hit the 40's by mid week. Brisk. I actually closed the bedroom windows last night, and allowed the dogs to sleep on the bed for warmth. I found this poplar leaf and dogwood berry on our deck this morning.

Today, tomorrow, the rest of this week is about finishing the unpacking and setting up of my office, finally! I took a room in the basement, a rather large bonus room, to use as a studio/yoga room/office. But it's been the holding space for boxes o' stuff that we haven't gotten to, and enough is enough. I'll still store camping equipment til the shed is built, but am going ahead and setting up part of the space as an office. There's a bed, too, for napping.

I bought 40 mixed daffodil bulbs and 20 purple crocus to set out in the yard. Later, some Hostas and some other perennials will go in, launching my Perennial Landscaping Efforts.

Monday, September 28, 2009

bug du jour

This is what I found out on the deck this morning when I went outside. Not sure what sex it is (Blogless Michelle? Chris?) though I hope it reproduces and spreads all over the area, as they're one of my favorite insects ever. It was sluggish, and so was I, with the weather this morning being overcast and in the low sixties. Fall has come, after days and days of torrential rains that have put Atlanta on the map. Our meadow, featured last week, became ever more flooded, and we discovered a wee leak in our roof, that hopefully, will be repaired under our roof warranty.

Lots of rain means lots of potential mud in our house, and Cricket's paws are testament to how much of his time is spent outside, holding canine smackdowns in the gladiatorial arena that is our backyard, complete with dirt floor. We keep towels by the door, and wipe paws off before they come in, but some mud gets in, anyway, and our carpet is taking on a nice patina of grunge. Hopefully it will spur us to replace it with the dreamed-of hickory flooring, sometime after the kitchen re-do.

I started knitting the Monkey sock a while back ago, in the yarn that my co-blogger DisKnit sent me. It is a good match for our surroundings. A little pooling of the colors, but in a good way. The Monkey is a rather addictive knit, even though I'm no sock knitter. I might actually finish these!

While we're on the subject of knitting, I may as well confess that I'm having some issues with PinkAriann. I've made some ugly, uncentered buttonholes, and inserted some un-called-for decreases adjacent to the buttonband. Then, when I clumsily tried to add back in the missing stitches, with my favored kfb increase, more ugliness ensued. In a less shocking color, in a different part of the sweater, you know me; I'd leave it. I'm notorious for just making errors and following the rule of "It Won't Be Noticed From the Back of a Galloping Horse" which kinda just slides right over the fact that I haven't ridden a horse in 20 years. Nevertheless, I can't take this full-frontal ugliness, so it's being frogged back to just before the buttonholes and I'll proceed from there. I'm gonna proceed with knitting the sleeves, while the frogged ugliness marinates, on the theory that if I finish 2 sleeves, I'll cheerfully repair the body. It IS an enjoyable knit, which is why, no doubt, I soldiered on cheerfully, leaving mistakes in, willy nilly.

This past weekend, P and I endured a 2 hour drive, in a dark downpour to go to Athens, to see The Decemberists, which was a big thrill. I've been a fan of their epic storysongs for a few years, and they have a crazy new album, "The Hazards of Love" that they performed, as a sort of rock opera, in its entirety at the show. Great fun, gorgeous atmospherics, courtesy of a simple backdrop, a smoke machine and lots of good lighting. I'm really happy about the plentitude of musical offerings in Atlanta. Yayness.

Monday, September 21, 2009

back when the sun was shining

Was it last Sunday when the sun last shone? I took a walk with Ella to get some shots of our woods and meadow:
(as always, click on the pic to biggify)

The spiders have been working overtime, this week, to maintain rain-damaged webs. This is a pretty one.

The notorious yellow daisy, of festival fame. Our meadow is full of these flowers.

I like the quiltlike pattern of this golden leaf, a harbinger of the fall to come.

Nandina berries. They should turn red or orange in a couple months.

We've had a few days, since last Tuesday, really, of heavy rains, thunder and lightning. Today, unpacking a box, I stumbled on a bag of nicely dyed Romney roving. Very rough, almost felted, but so beautifully dyed that I'm back to spinning it up, anyway. I'll ply it and see what comes of it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


It's the little things, isn't it? Even not working, I love the weekends.

Today, we went to the Yellow Daisy Festival, at Stone Mountain Park. Which I thought would be fabulous, and maybe would have, if not for the fact that every one else in north Georgia had the same idea. Plus, I did not know it would cost $10 to park at Stone Mountain. And didn't know it, til we'd braved horrendous traffic to get to the entrance. The festival was free, though, with music and people watching, some of it irritating, as it was a real draw for families with ginormous strollers to amble through the sweaty crowds. I didn't have much money, and having just unpacked a house with far too much of my stuff, didn't feel the need to buy much more. I did get some nice hand-dipped beeswax candles, and some lavender and spearmint soap. But all in all, the Yellow Daisy Fest has demystified itself for me into a never-to-be-repeated experience.

Strangely, there ARE yellow daisies that grow everywhere here. I have never seen this variety, and knew only the classic white-with-yellow-center oxeye daisy.

I finally remembered to take a pic of our house. Here it is, the Atomic Lodge.
Note the flat roof, and the multilevels. It's almost always this dark overcast shady look, here, which can be a bit disconcerting, except that it adds to the cool, and the light coming in the windows is rather green, due to all the trees. I am dreading the leaf fall, a little bit, and wondering if it might just be a matter of letting them fall where they may and just raking them off walkways and grass, but in the back, leaving them to mulch themselves out? Still trying to decide a final answer, but I know one thing...those leaves are coming down! I read somewhere that a mature poplar tree may have 20,000 leaves on it. Yikes. Deciduousness is exhilarating. I do know that I will love the winter light, it was one of my favorite things in Arlington, when all the leaves were down, and our house was luminous inside, due to the sunshine, that we never saw during the summer months.

And a gratuitous Cricket shot:One of the things we are learning in the new class we're taking, is to send the dog to a spot and have them hold their place with distractions. He is watching Ella playing frisbee with P, and was extremely distracted, but held his stay really well. When I released him, he was so intent on watching the frisbee action he didn't even hear my release word! The training is fun, and is helping me to be less frustrated with my crazy dog. Meanwhile, Cricket is already more manageable, and I feel a better bond with him. In our earlier moves, I always took classes with Ella, upon arrival at the new place...she seemed to fall apart as badly as Cricket upon changing venue. She is a little crazy right now, still, but I'm trying to concentrate on the dog who is a danger to himself and others, so it's Crick who's getting the formal training. Ella goes on the fitness walks and we're mostly managing her craziness with some at-home obedience work and exercise. She seems a lot younger, here. I think she likes the woods and all the swimming.

Friday, September 11, 2009

muscadines and scuppernongs

These showed up in our CSA box the other day. A few days before that, driving around up in the mountains, we stopped by a little roadside market, and I saw a basket of the green ones. Had no idea what they were, and gave them a sniff. Once I smelled them, I was able to identify them, because a friend in Hawaii, Mel, had given me some muscat-scented tea.

They are a native American grape, with an intense fruity smell. The skins are thick and a little bit sour, and they have seeds, 2-4 in each fruit. Supposedly they have crazy amounts of antioxidants and super phyto properties that immediately turn your life around and make you a better person. I am eating them, and actually loving them. I think part of what I love is their appearance, they're so pretty, with that bronzy yellow-green nestled up against the reddish black. Purple n' green, my favorite colors, but with an earthy twist.

In the wake of the destroyed smaller digital camera, I'm back to using ol' clunky again. I should dig out the manual and try and figure out how to actually maximize its capabilities. I'm trying to take more pictures, and am wondering if something like Project 365 would inspire me, or just feel like a horrible burden? Has anyone done this? Were you able to keep up with it?

My main project for today is just to keep working on the house, cleaning and organizing. I can't believe what a beast moving is. I should know from experience...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

k-brow: summer into fall

It feels like fall here, even though I'm told that fall is a lengthy process in Georgia, and the temperatures are still in the 80's. But the nights are cool and crisp, and yesterday, I saw some ripe fallen acorns on my walk with Ella, so I can hope, and look forward to a change of seasons, at last.

Pink Ariann progresses enjoyably. The color is not growing on me, but I like the rhythm of the stitch pattern, and the Cascade, never a favorite yarn of mine, is knitting up nicely, and is squishy and cooperative. I feared for its future, for a few days this weekend, as I was so ambivalent about its color, all of a sudden. But now, Bonnie Marie Burns' elegant pattern writing has taken over, and I'm enjoying the knit. I may overdye it, though, when all is said and done.
Here's a progress shot, though admittedly, I am quite a bit farther along than this one, of several days ago.

My old companion, episcleritis, the nasty eye inflammation, has resurfaced again, with a red, swollen right eye. I went to a new opthamologist today, one who proved to be extremely nice. We talked about possible causes, having ruled out, in HI, all the usual associated suspects of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and tuberculosis, Chron's disease, etc. He remarked that it was his suspicion that it was triggered by stress and anxiety, and that once activated, was hard to banish completely from the body. Maybe so. I'm on another round of steroid eyedrops, which provided immediate relief, though I'm to take them for another 15 days, then we'll see what happens.

The Nuuanu house has not yet sold, though we have had some recent interest in it. There are some problems that have also surfaced, as a result of the Federal appraisal process, that we have to address, that I won't go into here. I'm trying not to angst too much about it; I loved the house, but just really want it sold now, and want to have only one mortgage, asap. It appears we may not completely lose our shirts over the damn thing, but whether we sell it to the Feds or to a private buyer, remains to be seen. Anxiety and stress? Not me...

When I went to the Olde Country, one of the things I brought back down with me was a big box of homegrown tomatoes. We've been eating gazpacho, toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches, and that most delightful of summer treats; the caprese salad. Thick slices of dead-ripe tomato, topped with a slice of fresh buffalo mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped basil. Yum. This dish really only works at home. The times I've ordered it in restaurants, it's never as good, the tomatoes never as ripe, the flavors somehow flat. It's a rare treat. I am coming to the end of those Virginia tomatoes, though I have a box of wee yellow cherry tomatoes from our CSA that should do nicely for a chopped version of the same. The CSA isn't the one I wanted to join, here; that one must be joined at the new year. This one is fine, for now, and we've been enjoying weekly surprises in the box. This week brought some mixed potatoes and beets, fresh peanuts, apples, lettuce, a bell pepper, and muscadine and scuppernong grapes. The grapes are deserving of a blog post in and of themselves, though, so I won't elaborate much on them here, other than to say that they are native American grapes that bear no resemblance to anything I've ever eaten in my life. More on them later.

Our house is taking shape, slowly. The kitchen is too small, but I've rigged up the florescent lights on top of the cabinets, and now it is light. I'm enjoying cooking again, and am trying to focus on summer produce, which is easy to do here, with so much coming in. I'm still knitting with the local knit group, at the cute little cafe in Roswell. Nice to connect with other knitters. I still have avoided all LYS, but am planning some hats and mittens knit from stash. I realized, going through my closet, that I have a fair number of sweaters, and perhaps should knit some smaller items. I've been recently inspired by Gay's focus on the smalls, little projects that can be quickly completed. My Ravelry queue is growing!

One more episode of "True Blood" before the season ends. I'm not sure what will rush in to fill the void...maybe I'll take up "Dexter" again. I left him midway through season 2, and am curious to see what he's been up to...I am loving True Blood so much! (Warning: spoilers ahead) Just when I think it's gone over the top, and I'm starting to disconnect from it, something marvellous happens, like Godrick's departure, or that wacky and thoroughly likeable vampire queen shows up. This show is such a pleasurable escape.

I've been spending too much time on Facebook and on Goodreads, too, and am going to have to re-activate Leechblocker or some other such timesuck prevention measure, I think. Both have re-connected me to friends in real life, though, so I hesitate to be too terribly draconian about them.

My bed, and the latest book, More Than It Hurts You call to me. I have to kick the dogs off though.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

k-brow: moth and owl and little else

Last week, I saw a fluttering in the backyard. I thought it was a small bird, and went out to investigate, and found this guy:
I put him up on the side of the house for a better shot. It's a Tuliptree Silkmoth, a male. Callosamia angulifera by any other name. Handsome, no?

We also heard a Barred Owl, last night, verified with the iPhone birdcall application. Very cool. I'd heard screech owls in the area, a few weeks ago, but was thrilled with "who, who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?" call of one of my favorite owls.

I wish I had happy news to share about Pink Ariann...I couldn't figure out which size to knit. I'm torn between a 38 and a 40, and have a track record of knitting sweaters too big for me. My front porch is size 38, but I wanted some ease, but didn't want to swim in it. I cast on for the 40, but was knitting in on #6 needles, to reduce its size a scooch. But alas, the fabric I was getting was just too stiff. I hadn't swatched (I know, I know...) but Chris convinced me that maybe I needed to stop all this dithering and start with a swatch. I did so on #7's and got gauge, as I knew I would. I think I'm gonna knit the 38. It's lace of a sort, and will open up a bit, I think.

So back to casting-on couch.
Progress pix tomorrow, I hope!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

k-brow: a pink sweater in the making

What a drama queen I am. Laying out a big "this is how it's gonna be" post, and then running off to VA and not blogging for a solid week. Apologies to all who might have been waiting for the "more blogging" I suggested. Pah!

Thank you for all the nice comments. I appreciate the openness and support of my people! To Acornbud, Blogless Michelle, Chris and Opal...I miss you more than I can say, and in so many different ways. I feel very blessed to have such dear friends in Hawaii. May, I'm sorry we didn't know each other longer, in the face-to-face realm. I will definitely be following your art and whatever else you put up in the world. Chelsea and Mokihana, thanks for the encouragement. I feel like I know you both in person, dear blogsisters.

To DisKnit; you are always welcome to post here, I will leave you up as co-author, though I won't be miffed if you don't post. I have other means of keeping track of your adventures. I know you're busy; inside the Beltway has a way of eating one's life. Mayhaps you'll come south for a visit?

So, I ran off to the Olde Country for a week, flying into Lynchburg, VA, visiting my mom, visiting a very old friend for too short a time, hanging with my sis, eating chili dogs, shopping for yarn, ( I bought NOTHING!!) picking blackberries, and in general, relaxing and enjoying being off the grid. I took the small Canon camera, fully intending to document the trip, but upon arrival in VA, discovered that I'd broken it! The view screen on the back of the camera doesn't work anymore, and shows fragmented images. It may still take pix; I was so horrified at the event, I just shut it off and put it in my bag. I have to investigate getting it repaired, as it belongs to P, who doesn't use it, but still...I loved that little camera. So no pix of the dinner-plate size mushrooms growing in my mom's neighbor's yard. No pix of the gorgeous wayside flowers, or the beautiful Virginia countryside. Nor of my sister and her friend, nor of the incredible mountains of North Carolina, on my drive back down to Georgia. Just fond memories.

I have to say, the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee just kick ass. They are so much bigger than the Blueridge along the Shennandoah Valley. I was amazed by them, and really enjoyed my drive back home! The new truck, my dad's 2004 Toyota Tacoma, is just great, tackling the steep hills bravely and not guzzling too much gas.

I'm home, now, and it's in the mid-60's outside, and overcast. I am cold, and am wrapped up in Lady Eleanor, and drinking wine, in the papasan chair, which is my indoor perch of choice these days. I present to you my outdoor perch of choice:
I've never had a hammock before. It's the most relaxing place to be! But too cold this evening to be out in it. I'm almost tempted to make a fire. We do have wood...

In my last weeks in Hawaii, I hung out a bit with Chris, and we observed that we tended to knit the same things, not always in a deliberate knitalong, but we seemed to have the same knits on our radar as well as on our needles. Klaralund, Lady Eleanor, February Lady, Clapotis...yes, I know, those knits are viral, and everyone knits them. But we decided to do a real knitalong, of Bonnie Marie's Ariann cardigan. Not just a sweater knitalong, but because we both had screaming pink yarns in became a Pink Ariann Knitalong. Today was our official cast on day, and I had intended to blog it earlier and call all and sundry to join in, but as you see, it's come to this. I cast on for it this morning, promptly messed it up, and ripped it. I will re-cast on just as soon as I finish this post, which was also on my to-do list today. So, if you want to burn some pink yarn in stash, or just want to knit Ariann with us, jump right in. No rules, no deadlines, nothing but sweet, cherry-bubblegum pink knitting. I wound up 6 yarncakes this morning. This is Cascade 220, purchased for $4.00 per skein at Ben Franklin's, back in the spring, making this an affordable indulgence. I like Bonnie Marie's designs. I don't know why I was unable to count this morning on my original set-up row for this sweater. I think with this glass of wine and the evening's coziness, I'll make a better start.