Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wonder in an April Sky

In Nebraska, weather is a topic which guarantees conversations between total strangers. The changing clouds carry rain, drizzle, sleet, hail, snow, and dust depending upon the season. In the Spring, we wait for sun and hope for rain while respecting the clashing weather fronts that spawn tornados and damaging storms. Walking on windy days, I watch the changing light in the sky. Now and then I try to photograph the sky

which is a bit silly. Who wants to look at photos of the sky? Still, I find such beauty in the changing light. Several times I've charged inside for the camera, returning too late to capture the picture I wanted to save. Now, I try to savor the light and colors of the present moment. In the meantime could someone dye some alpaca yarn in the spectacular periwinkle blue, gray, and light gray sky colors of this April sky? I would like to try and knit a sunset.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

End of Winter Socks

Friday evening, I finished knitting a pair of what I refer to as "end of winter" socks. I love winter. The sunsets are beautiful, the air is crisp, and the neighborhood is quieter when it is nestled under a blanket of snow. By the end of February, I yearn for more hours of daylight and warmer sun on my face. For the past three years, I've cast on a pair of socks in a bright Spring/Summer color to carry me though the last blast of winter. This year's project was "A Nice Pair of Ribbed Socks" in a pattern by Glenna C., available at I chose Grimm's Willow Wren colorway in Blue Moon Fiber's lightweight Socks That Rock. The Easter egg colors were a welcome sight during the last gray days of winter.

The basic 3 x 1 ribbed sock fits well and is a good project to carry in my purse. I knit on them at Book Group and at Crafting. I knit on them while waiting for the dental hygienist and in the cellular phone store. I finished the socks on April 15, at the end of a snowy/rainy evening while waiting for warmer Spring days.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lucy's Desk

For the past few years, I've written from a serviceable oak desk purchased for my now grown up daughter. Although I have a good chair, the desk height did not allow me to work with my elbows at 90 degrees to the keyboard. My husband tried to buy a new desk but could not find one. After one particularly sore episode of scrunched shoulders and aching back, I moved my great grandmother Lucy's desk from our living room into my study. The antique desk, stained a dark mahogany, has a small drawer and four compartments across the back with pencil trays on either side. A writing top slides out over another narrow drawer running the width of the desk.

Lucy's mother was pregnant with her as she traveled from Wisconsin to Council Bluffs, Iowa and then west to Washington. Lucy was born in Hulda, Washington on October 4, 1879. When she was a young girl, she and her mother moved back to Omaha, Ne. In 1898, Lucy married Harry, my great grandfather who worked as a traffic policeman. Together, after the turn of the century, they raised four daughters and one son in Omaha.

When Lucy moved in with my grandparents, the desk came with her. Placed in my grandparents dining room, the desk collected stamps, mail, bills, and numerous copies of my Grandmother's car keys. After I brought the desk to my home, I opened the lid and searched the two drawers. I found four letter openers (one with a Fuller Brush man on the top), four metal hinge pins, a wooden ruler inlaid with one inch samples of twelve different woods, and my grandfather's brown leather driving gloves. Leaving the treasures in the desk, I set up a display of family photos.

Although I never saw Lucy sit at her desk, I did know her when I was a little girl. She was a tiny, proper, lady who wore a hat, gloves, and navy blue suit to church. During the week she wore cotton shirtwaist dresses and often pinned a small brooch pinned under the collar. When I sit down to write on Saturday morning, I imagine her taking out a piece of crisp stationery to write a letter to one of her daughters or granddaughters. I think she would be pleased that I find her desk a comfortable place to work.

Black Gold

I spent a few hours this afternoon digging for black gold at the bottom of the compost pile. Two years ago, I unearthed a family of moles as I dug for compost. Although I try to appreciate all critters, moles are my least favorite. I'm sure they serve a purpose and they probably make better compost. I just find them rather unnerving. This time, I stood a long handled flat shovel nearby in case I needed to deposit baby moles into the second bin.

I began by shoveling the detritus of yard and garden clippings from one compost bin into two garbage cans. At the bottom of the bin I found five inches of rich black dirt which had accumulated over two years. As I forked, shoveled, dug, pushed a wheel barrow of the stuff up to my herb garden, and then dumped and hoed it into the ground, I found another reason to care for the environment. Mother Nature and I worked hard to produce soil.

Although it is easier to buy dirt in a bag (and I should know because I've done it many times) I take great satisfaction in keeping leaves, grass, and kitchen scraps out of the landfill. I also decided a compost container with a drawer across the bottom might be a good investment.

Compost bin number one wasn't home to any moles. If they have taken up residence in the second bin, I'll try not to shriek.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Walking after work clears my head.  Weather doesn't bother me but sometimes I need a knitting or NPR podcast in order to get off the couch and out the door.  Last Friday after spending an afternoon hunched over the computer, I left the ipod at home.  Breathing deeply, I savored the neighbor's daffodils and the cool Spring breeze on my cheek. I also smiled and said hello to folks who were willing to make eye contact with me.

Four blocks from home, I heard an unfamiliar bird call.  Phoebes have been calling to each other but I haven't been able to catch a glimpse of them.  I knew the call I was hearing wasn't a phoebe but still I stopped to scan the roofs and trees. After turning 180 degrees, I found myself looking into the brown/black eyes of  a 17 inch owl.  Against a bright blue sky, the owl with a gray face appeared to be a mottled gray/brown in color with lighter flecks on the breast.  As I watched, two blue jays flew in to scold him but he did not budge from his perch next to the tree trunk. He swiveled his head once to look at the jays and then gazed back toward me. After a three or four minute stand off, I resumed my walk.

After consulting a field guide and wikipedia,  I decided the bird was either a Barred or Spotted Owl.  While Barred Owls are common to the midwest, the plumage of this owl more closely resembled  a Spotted Owl. Spotted Owls are more common to southwest United States so if he was a Spotted Owl he was a long way from his typical habitat.  Regardless, if I'd been plugged into "Poetry Off the Shelf" or "Cast On" I'd have missed the owl. Walking without ear buds has advantages.