Tuesday, May 28, 2019

May Journal of Wonder

Peony - Lauritzen Gardens*
I missed posting about wonder in March and April. Sometimes I forget to nurture my sense of wonder. This cool damp May, I return to this journal of wonder with a little bit of wanderlust. More wonder occurs when I take time to wander.

This month:
I wonder why the robin chose a nesting place so high in the birch. Won't the wind knock down her nest?

I wonder how the hummingbird came to be feeding in the apple blossoms during a thunderstorm.

I wonder if wind makes the birds jittery.

I wonder if the common yellow warblers will make their mid-May appearance in the birch. They did not. They are becoming less common.

I wonder why the maples are loaded with seeds this year. Maybe the trees in our neighborhood have finally grown up or maybe (as the newspaper reported) the trees were dormant last year and so produced a bumper crop this Spring.

I wonder why this administration is promoting an open pit copper mine in a pristine area of the Arizona desert. The area is sacred to Native Americans.

This world is so beautiful. I wonder why we don't take better care of it.

I wonder why farm women planted peonies in rows in their yards.

I wonder why the sound of rain on the roof is so peaceful.

Why are scrappy projects so satisfying to me?

I wonder if Emily Dickinson would have written fewer poems if she had been trying to publish them in books.

I wonder which enterprising woman first added sugar to rhubarb.

I marvel at the few minutes needed for pale yellow iris to be outlined by the morning sun.

I wonder if this rainy spell will come to an end anytime soon.

*The Lauritzen Gardens is a Botanic Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Last week, my sister and I visited. The daffodils and tulips were finished blooming but the Peony and Rose Gardens were waking up.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Looking Ahead

Recent May days have been unseasonably cool and wet. I'd rather walk in the sunshine but head out in between rains. While I walk, I've been pondering Pipher's book, Women Rowing North. In my opinion, Pipher is an extrovert and writes from that point of view but that is a soapbox for another day. Regardless there is much wisdom in this book. I read the chapter, "Creating a Good Day" twice. Pipher describes a woman who cares for a husband with a degenerative disease. This gal got up in the morning and asked herself, "What will make us happy today?" I think it is a good question for any day.

When it rained again on Tuesday, I asked myself that question. I knew I should polish the set of silverware that my parents left to me. Frankly, the task is tedious and not much fun but I wasn't walking in pouring rain. I put on some music and realized taking care of this gift made me happy. While I worked, I thought of the holiday meals when my sibs and families gathered at their table. I thought of the many times my grandparents were present and the stories we told. Afterwards I sat down and completed my summer reading/listening list. When I taught, I'd make a summer reading list in May and order a few of the books -used from Powell's. I rarely read everything on the list and often picked up some other title that caught my attention. At summer's end, I made a list called, "What I really read," compare the two and smile. Even though I am retired, I enjoy making the lists.

My bum shoulder slowed my Spring knitting so I am thankful it feels better. If I attend to body mechanics and take breaks, I can knit on most any of my projects. Would someone please kick me in the pants when I forget to do this? This past week I needed to finish something - anything. I unearthed this half finished swatch cowl and knit to the end of the skein. I created the project to determine "in the round" gauge with this yarn. I had a sweater pattern in mind for the yarn but it's been so long ago, I can't remember what it was. Now I have Ravelery notes about the gauge and needle size. Remember these socks? I finished them last weekend.

Currently I'm making good progress on Norah's Flax. When that sweater is finished, I'll need some new summer projects. I pulled this book Luxury One Skein Wonders off my shelf. I look at it frequently but never seem to get around to knitting any of the patterns. There are several small projects that would work well with yarn in my stash. If I get distracted by something else that would be ok too. I really like to let my knitting happen. I am fortunate to have time and choices.

Although a day late, I'll link with Kat and the Unravelers. I can't believe we are heading into Memorial Day weekend. My son and grandson from Texas will be visiting. We are looking forward to seeing them and getting a real hug - you know that Mom and Dad thing. Sweet May is flying by. I hope you are looking forward to the long weekend.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Hello Sunshine

Here comes sun. After a long spell of chilly rain and gray weather, the days are warmer and brighter. Ahh - warm sun on my back is one of my favorite things about Spring. This year the maple trees in my neighborhood are loaded with more seeds than usual. These are the seeds my kids called helicopters. Some are dried and some are quite small and green. When the wind gusts, hundreds of the dry ones spin out of the trees and through the air. I could search for reason for this phenomenon but I think I'll just enjoy their glittery presence.

Saturday I planted tomatoes, basil, parsley, cucumbers, and zinnias. Yesterday I installed drip hoses among the vegetables. This sounds like I have a big garden but I don't. Drip hoses just work well to water six tomato plants and a raised bed for cucumbers. I made a little sketch and saved the tags from the tomato plants. Last year I had no idea which tomato variety I planted where. None of them produced as much fruit as I wanted so this year I jotted a few notes. The garden journal I kept for a number of years was such a mess I threw it away. A file folder with a note or two will work better for me.

I'm knitting along on the little baby cardigan. I hope the sweater is proportional when completed. If it is completely wonky, I'll knit another before the baby arrives in August. Late last night I attached the sleeves to the yoke. When I started that row at 9:55 p.m., I knew it would be better to leave it for another day. We all know how that goes. No matter the time, I always think I can knit one more row. At first I thought I had attached one sleeve wrong side out but I had not. Fortunately I have no unraveling to report in this link to Kat and the Unravelers. Some projects are an adventure and that is part of the fun.

I have just begun to read Women Rowing North: Navigating Life's Currents and Flourishing as We Age by Mary Pipher. I especially like what she wrote about the title. She chose the word rowing because it isn't always easy to stay on course. It takes effort. We all meet bumps in the road but as older women we draw from a life time of experience and hopefully strong relationships. We aren't floating or sailing toward "old-old age" but rowing. I think her metaphor is excellent. I've never been in a row boat but I have paddled (just a little) a kayak. The water pushes and pulls against the paddles. There are efficient ways of paddling but moving the kayak through the water requires effort and readjustment. And this is just the beginning of the book.

Rachel Carson was a resourceful woman who navigated life's currents with strength and purpose. I found On a Further Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson by William Souder well worth the listen. In addition to Carson's biography, the book contains many details about the history of radioactive fallout and pesticide use as well as the conservation movement. If you like detail and back story this is a good biography.

I wish you the warmth of spring as you navigate the season. 


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Spring Notes

Spring, yes Spring. Today's sky is gray but the extended forecast is for four or five dry days. I often plant my few vegetables and herbs on Mother's Day weekend so I may be able to get them in the ground soon. Spring skies are changeable. The lilacs, mid-size phlox, and bleeding heart are blooming. Last summer I wondered if the bleeding heart would survive August heat and pests. I am happy to see it looking hearty and gaining some growth. I plan to sow zinnia seeds to add to the summer blooming black-eyed susans. The chives have buds while the sage and oregano are taking more than their fair share of the herb garden. I potted up some of the oregano and gave the sage a good trim. This week I cut some fresh thyme and oregano to season a marinara sauce. Happy days.

I knit the baby sweater up to the sleeves, left the stitches on a circular needle and cast on the sleeves. They are knit flat and then joined with sweater stitches at the yoke. Ravelry is so helpful. Project notes of this pattern confirmed my thoughts that the sweater body is slightly wide and short. I knit two extra inches. I also knit a pair of fingerless mitts as a graduation gift for a sweet young neighbor. I planned to make regular mittens but the yarn, sold as DK weight, feels like a lightweight sport. It doesn't seem heavy enough for winter mittens on a Nebraska college campus. I enjoyed the yarn though. It had a nice hand and the color changes were fun to watch. I thought I'd found a point mid-skein where the colors began to repeat but obviously not. These are playful fraternal mitts and I think that is just fine.

I'm listening to the biography, On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson and enjoying it. I wasn't sure if I liked the narrator but after listening to a few sections, I find his style suits the story. The author includes some history of conservation as well as back story about books and scientists that influenced Carson. It is long so I hope I can finish listening before my library loan expires. Oh no - more listening and knitting time, how will I ever cope? ;-) In her second published book, The Sea Around Us, Carson commented on melting glaciers and rising oceans, a woman ahead of her time. This book won many awards and is now on my to read list.

I haven't unraveled any knitting this week, how about you? Click on over to Kat and the Unravelers to see what other makers are creating this week. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Happy May Day

Flax Sweater
Happy May Day! Once upon a time, my dear Mom helped my siblings and I assemble and deliver May Baskets. Sometimes they were paper cups with pipe cleaner handles and other times they were more elaborate construction paper creations. We filled them with popcorn and small candies - gum drops, M and M's, and/or candy corn. The custom was to set them on the front porch, ring the doorbell, and then run so the recipient wouldn't chase after you and kiss your cheek. My Mom never wanted any child to be left out so we placed May Baskets in large dress boxes on the back seat and she drove us to the homes of classmates who lived further away. When Mom was a girl, she filled May Baskets with flowers from the yard and only a little candy. My children carried their baskets to nearby neighbor children. Today my Connecticut grandsons are delivering a few to church personnel, much to the recipients' surprise. Is this a Midwest custom or did children in other parts of the country also deliver May Baskets?

Yesterday light rain fell and today is gray and damp. In between rains, I weeded two perennial flowerbeds. The iris show a few buds and the lilacs are blooming. This week has been quite chilly but that will change. I am dreaming about planting tomatoes and basil after the last frost date. In the meantime, a healthy crop of weeds grows in the vegetable patch.

Since I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers, I add knitting/sewing and reading notes. I haven't finished any projects but I haven't unraveled anything either. This past week I finished sewing together the blocks of Norah's Christmas Quilt. The next step is to shop for fabrics for a simple border and backing. Slowly but surely. No deadlines makes the process much more enjoyable. I also knit on two little sweaters. I hope this baby sweater blocks flat. I have knit this pattern previously and had no trouble with a rolling edge so I am hoping for the best. Norah's Flax Sweater begins to look like a sweater. I rarely knit with the yarn/gauge specified in a pattern so I swatched for both projects in order to choose an appropriate size. I tend to knit a little bigger size as babies always grow. This new little one, due in August, is a second cousin to Norah and all the boys.

Louise Cardigan

I am almost finished rereading The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland. As usual, I had forgotten parts of the story. Emily Carr, the heroine and main character is certainly intrepid and unconventional. I may look for a little information about her. I am always curious about how closely historical fiction follows fact. I listened to The American Agent, the latest Maisie Dobbs novel/mystery. Maisie moves into World War II in this novel. Descriptions of the Blitz bombing of London in 1940 as well as Maisie's personal life, including a romantic interest and a child she is adopting are part of the story. Returning to this series is like meeting up with a good friend. The narrator is excellent. Time and tea with Maisie Dobbs are perfect for chilly spring evenings. Both of these novels are pure escape reading but sometimes escape is just the thing.

Welcome May. May the sun shine a little brighter on all of us. I am looking forward to flip flops, capris, and tee shirts. What about you?