Monday, May 31, 2010

Day is Done,

Day is Done

gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.


Happy Memorial Day from Spring Hill.
Salade Russe.*

Planned to use an already-written-out recipe for a ring-bearer's pillow for a friend, but scrapped after having started and frogged all knitted elements involved. Was just miserable, miserable stuff. Find myself sort of winging it now:

Lace Edging

For the edging, I'm using that old standby, Aunt Lydia's crochet cotton on this pattern. Have no idea as to what I'm going to do for a medallion - either I'll do something modular on two needles or I'll suck it up and do a traditional doily on double pointed needles. We'll see.

Also - am *not* using satin like described in the original pattern. Can't stand satin. I've got some gorgeous white linen that I think'll be perfect for this. Again, we'll see.


Salade Russe literally means just that: Russian Salad, as opposed to the normal French conceit of composed salads. Idiomatically, it means 'crazy, mixed-up thing.' Also, I think that it might be old-fashioned language, as nowadays I hear 'bordel' to mean roughly the same thing. Oh well, I like the term, so will keep using it. (Part of the luxury of being a foreigner and cute.)
Il faut cultiver son jardin.

Got out for a bit to tend to the gardens around the Somerville Estates. Though not as manic about this as I used to be on Winter Hill (partly because I don't have Raphaella around to guilt trip me anymore), am still managing to spruce things up a bit.

Out back, rounded up and transplanted the nasturtiums in pots up front. Thinned out the chives, radishes and dill. Decided to leave the greens to grow a bit more.*

Staked the peas.

Staked Peas

Looks a bit like the camera had a hard time focusing in the low light. Sorry about that. Still, you get the idea.

Up front, dead-headed** everyone who needed it and where I found mature seeds, sprinkled them in blank spots. Worked on shoring up the little rock borders I'm making around plantings with ballast I find under the porch. Planted some more cheap annuals picked up on sale at K-mart.***

Also, moved outside and pruned the poor, half-eaten tropical thing an ex-coworker gave me when the office had a plant purge. Hopefully, the time outdoors in the sun, along with some plant food and a bit of respite from the cats will revive it a bit. I'm really fond of the thing (and of the person who unloaded it on me).

Around the ash tree this year, I planted marigolds.

Marigolds Around Ash

Generally plant either them or alyssum, as both are pretty hardy and tend to lushness. Also like the smell. My main reason for planting here is to dissuade hospital clientele from using our (and the neighbors') yard as a trash receptacle. So far, so good; have only had to collect up remains from one lunch and a couple butts. No medical waste yet, anyway.

Marigolds and Morning Glories

Inspired by the work of a friend in the old neighborhood, I decided to try planting morning glories around the tree. Started them from seed in Mid-April, and believe that, with luck, the little clumps of heart-shaped leaves will climb up the trunk and give us some purple flowers. We'll see.

Am pleased, as have already gotten positive feedback on the yard work from some hospital staff, a couple patients and neighbors a couple doors down I'd not met before. Pavel actually told me that another neighbor who puts a lot of work into her yard stopped him in the local garden store to talk plants and landcaping.

Tiny effort, small results that do grow with time. Kind of like what another dead European**** came up with the title once said - 'Se prendre du mal pour les petites choses est parvenir aux choses plus grandes.' (Taking pains with the small things leads to success with larger ones)*****


* This year it's going to be rocket, sorrel, kale, collards and mustard. I wanted tougher than lettuce and bitter/sour so the animals would leave some for us.

** Or, as Pavel put it - continued the plants' states of reproductive frustration. Kind of reminds me of what another guy friend once said about having the boy cats 'snipped.'

*** $1.89 for a package of six plants! This time around, we got some cute little fuzzy buttons in purple.

**** Not the guy who came up with the title to the post.

***** Just a rough citation from memory, so please pardon my inexactitude along with my French. Also, positive, but am pretty sure it was Samuel Beckett who said that.
Well, I'll be darned.

Woke up this morning to a smoky, sweet scent that reminded me of burning incense. Now, I have been reading a lot about the Byzantine Empire but am not generally subject to olfactory hallucinations (crazier than a bedbug though I might be), so was a bit curious. Wandered around the house, then went outdoors to sniff around. Yes, the smell was everywhere.

A short time later, Pavel came downstairs. First thing he mentioned was the pretty but strange smell in the air. Wondered aloud on what was causing it. Nobody does leaf fires in the neighborhood - too dangerous with all the wood houses stacked on each other. Certainly wasn't a house (or more likely a series of houses - when one goes up here, the neighbors get hurt as well), as we didn't hear any fire engines overnight.

Found out later that we were smelling (and still are smelling, though a bit less now) is ash from forest fires in Quebec brought down on the wind. Apparently, too, here in Southeast Middlesex, there's an air quality alert in effect until tonight.


Update - early afternoon (about 13:15 ish) - smell's gotten stronger and one can really see the haze. Any outdoor work that needs to get done will be done out back under the trees, I think.

(18:30) - air quality has improved slightly, but is still pretty hazy out. Took a walk around the neighborhood for a couple hours and didn't have any trouble breathing. Eyes are kind of bothering me, though.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunset on Spring Hill

Sunset on Spring Hill

The view from the front porch isn't the prettiest but sometimes it can be surprising.
Pavel tells me that the hamburglers are out again by the Mystic. He heard the high-pitched calling, approached a blueberry bush and scared a half dozen or so out.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

"If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, and - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"

Dennis Hopper on Johnny Cash's show in 1970. There are other recordings of him reciting Kipling's poem during different stages of his life; all are interesting to watch. One can tell that he really took it to heart.

Rest in Peace.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Afternoon Feeding.

A male housefinch feeding a baby. It's a pity my camera doesn't have sound; the babies' squeaks are so incredibly high-pitched and loud that, really, only hearing is believing. Also, note the little one flapping just one wing: it knows full well how to feed itself, but if it can scam a free meal, it will.
Oh Dear.

Don't know if I should be laughing or be crouched in a corner rocking myself calm after this.
This week's Weekly Standard just arrived and I see that the cover story is about the notorious Barnes Affair. This is something I'd been looking at for some time because the Barnes Foundation (much like its Brahmin Sister, the Gardnner Museum) was one of my favorite art collections (heck, or even places in the world).

The precedent that this case (followed by a similar challenge by Princeton against an endowment specifically to its Wilson school) set regarding charitable giving is a pretty frightening one, even to a non-lawyer type like me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Finished my first arrowhead lace shawl - turned out to be more of a scarf, as the Noro ran out and I didn't have anything complementary to finish the shawl off with. Kind of reminds me of a First Communion veil or maybe even a mantilla.

Little Arrowhead

Thought I might give this to Karen, but now am not so sure. Don't think it's in her colors.

Was such a joy to knit, that almost immediately after binding off the first, I cast on for a second one:

Jewel Tones

I'm cannibalizing a kit a friend gave me; plan even on incorporating the included beads.

The yarn's a bit more difficult to deal with than the Noro; sticks a bit to the needles. Love those jewel tones!
Too Hot.

End of May in New England, the temperature should not be in the 90s!

Poor cats are dealing as well as they can:

Pauvre Trouble

Le Pauvre Trouble.

Misery Loves Company.


Even noted that the fledglings are doing an awful lot of mouth-breathing. Do they not have sweat glands either? We put some ice cubes in the bird bath in the hopes that that would help some.

Weather breaks by the end of the week (hopefully!).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sea Legs.

Couldn't concentrate on lace for a while. Or knitting. Or putting one foot in front of the other, exhaling after inhaling, etc. Had to put aside the pretty but kind of complex 12 row repeat pattern I was working, as was tinking back more rows than was knitting forward.

Glasgow Lace Detail

Here's the start of my Glasgow Lace pullover, anyway. Can't tell from the rather old picture, but I'm about 1/2 way through with the back panel. Am planning on making the body longer, giving it some shape and shortening the sleeves. The yarn's some seriously vintage wool (possibly as old as me) I picked up at the Salvation Army in Leominster not quite 10 years ago.

At some point a few weeks back, maybe when the Frenchie was here, got seriously tired of not knitting. Needed to do get the hands moving and it needed to be simple. Since I'd gotten enough grief about the state of my worn-out but much-loved quilt, so decided on a new bedcover.

Sediment Blanket

Here's the start of my "Sediment Scraps" blanket/throw thing. The working name for it is Puddingstone.

Puddingstone Again

A close-up view of the latest rows added. I'm just a little short of 1/2 way done with what looks like either a 60" square coverlet or even rug, it's so heavy.

There's no rhyme or reason to the color scheme; am just picking the colors as I go along. Don't know that the transition from greens to purples in the early stages is very successful, but am not too worried about it. It's kind of fun to see how this progresses. Also, a bit weird: each time I grab a new bit of yarn to tie onto a knitted end, I feel like that guy who got transported to his childhood home during teatime. (Sometimes pleasant, sometimes not.) If I had the gift of putting as inneresting a spin on my memories as he could his, I'd knock off a volume or two myself. Think I should just stick to knitting for now, though.

Anyway, while rooting around for another something to add to the above yarn stew, happened on a lovely, forgotten bit of silky stuff I'd received in a gift package some time ago. Now, I have the hardest time using yarn that friends give me because I don't think I can do justice to the gift (strange, I know). This, though, was kind of calling out to my hands to play with it, it's so soft. Seemed, too, to want to be something lacy, in spite of the fact that I don't normally like to use variegated yarns for that (often distracts from the stitch work).

Little Arrowhead Lace Shawl

Pam Allen's Little Arrowhead Lace Shawl, available here for free. Why not give it a try? Seriously, it's a good beginning exercise in chart-reading. The yarn's Noro's Silk Garden in a beautiful scale of sandy tones.

Since Karen's birthday was a couple days ago (same as Grandma Double-Vey's), figured I would send this out to her. She normally likes really bold colors, but I think that this could hold its own against her. For some reason, too, she was the first person who came to mind when I started the project.


Don't know if I'm regaining the Sea Legs; hope so. I really do hate it when I lose the taste for doing stuff that normally makes me so happy.
Still feeling off but hungry, decided to make a bit of soup for breakfast. Not bad:

Gratuitous soup shot. Am growing to like playing with the camera again. Couldn't be bothered with it for a while.

Nothing really exciting: just some chicken broth, a handful of fresh spinach, 1/2 an onion, a couple mushrooms a clove of garlic and four or five cubes of frozen cilantro (the smell from that alone calmed the upset stomach down right away). Simmered it all for about five minutes, then poached a couple eggs in it.

This felt about as good going down as a bowl of miso soup. Come to think of it, maybe I should revive the practice of having a bowl of that for breakfast.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Anyway, Safe Mode. Had to put aside the History books and Stendhal for a bit, as the brain is so cloudy right now. Started reading another from the growing pile of Time Life cookbooks in the pantry. Tonight, got interested in a brief summary ancient Romans' tastes, their love for sweet/sour blends and what I guess could be their equivalent to Worcestershire sauce, Garum.

Am sort of operating in "safe mode" as the hormones start cresting. Though all my life I've been on a 21-24 day cycle (save for the year or so when I was training for the Tour de France. Then, it was a roughly six-week cycle), am still neither used to or happy with it. Wish it didn't have to be as physically painful as it's always been. Wish I didn't have the 2-3 days of utter hopelessness that show up before the bleeding.

The Change can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tentative Takeoff.

The first sparrow fledgling of the season paid a visit to the yew yesterday. This morning, we saw at least three perched on branches taking in data and begging. Early evening, one little dope flew smack into the kitchen window, bounced off and managed to gain a foothold on one of the dead branches. Shook the kinks out of its head, then immediately started flapping its wings and begging from a house finch.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sorry to take so long to get back. Family's being Family as per usual, and am responding to that as though I'd never learned my lessons with them. So - am putting something up to divert thoughts and to leave people with a happy feeling. (Hug! Help!)