Sunday, September 17, 2006

Monarch

Several monarchs visited our garden today.

Grape harvest

We harvested nine gallons of concord grapes today. They're delicious. We can't wait to taste the wine that they'll become. This year we're going to give them to Kyle's coworker Jim Thomas to make the wine for us, and we'll just score a couple of bottles. But after harvesting them and seeeing just how many we get from one vine, we're inspired to possibly try making our own next year. We have a second grape vine that didn't produce any grapes this year, but should do well next year.

Redemption

Several weeks ago, I stepped on a frog that was taking refuge from a rainstorm on our back steps. I squashed it flat, feeling every bone crunch, every organ squish. It was gross, it was miserable, it was sad. I felt terrible and have been haunted by that little green frog's ghost ever since. Then last night, while walking the dog after sundown, I came within a quarter inch of squishing another one. He and I both lept away from each other at the last possible moment. I have started feeling I am a curse to the world of frogs. Then this morning, there was a turning point. Kyle opened the trunk of my car in the grocery store parking lot and discovered a stowaway. This little green frog came from God only knows where, but he was in a very precarious spot - certain to be squashed if we lowered the trunk lid, certain to starve to death if we locked him back in the trunk. Kyle backed away, wanting nothing to do with our hitchhiker, but I knew this was my shot at redemption for my previous frog-slaughter. I gently coaxed him onto a road atlas and carried him across the parking lot to free him in a smallish patch of grass and trees. I hope that frogs leave me alone for the rest of the summer.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Reluctant model


Demon-eyes from the flash notwithstanding, I don't think Punkin enjoyed modeling the current state of my Blackberry mittens. I think they look great, but the color chart is far more complicated than my only other color-attempt, so Punkin really hates this project. She snuggles up next to me on the couch and gets minimal attention as I try to find and re-find my place on the graph. If only I could quit my job to work on these. I spent half of this afternoon looking forward to break to have time to knit just a couple of rounds.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fresh yarn

I need needles I don't have to finish the baby sweater I'm knitting, so I am taking a break to dive into my new mitten project. New balls of yarn are as fun as blank notebooks. Full of possibility, and not all messed up yet. The mittens are proving to be a fun challenge. There's a lot of colorwork in them, and the cuff is a neat braid that involves carrying the colors in front of the work. I've never done that before, and it looks pretty cool.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sheep and Wool

Erika and I puttered around the Madison Farmer's Market this morning, and then attended the WI Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson. While I was prepared to spend big bucks, my largest purchase was a funnel cake and a mitten kit from Blackberry Ridge. The sheep, goats, and llamas were very cool. My favorite were the brown sheep with the curly hair.
I stopped at the Milton Public Library on the way home to borrow a movie and several books in the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith. I absolutely no free time for reading, let alone the new knitting project I brought home today, but I couldn't resist.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lock your doors!


"EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) - U-S flags marking veterans' graves at an Eau Claire cemetery have been disappearing by the dozens.
The flags have been ripped from the poles in one whole section of Forest Hill Cemetery.
Groundskeepers suspected vandals. Maybe kids were stealing the flags at night.
Then groundskeeper Dave Ender made a surprising discovery. The thieves have fur -- squirrel fur.
Ender was mowing the cemetery grass when something high in a tree caught his eye -- something red, white and blue. Ripped and tattered flags formed the foundation of a giant squirrel nest.
No one spotted the furry thieves when they scampered across the cemetery with the goods in their mouths. Enders figures the squirrels conducted their clandestine operation at night or very early in the morning when no one was around."

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

APNP 09-06-06 1338CDT

Monday, September 04, 2006

Meat Raffle, or How to Know You're In the Midwest

I have to say, I thought I was a true Wisconsin -ite, but I learned Friday after work that there are still a lot of things to I don't know about my corner of the world. A friend at work is leaving us for brighter opportunities in Milwaukee, so we all met at a local dive to celebrate with canned beer (I was warned to avoid everything on tap - and probably rightly so - we didn't see anyone drinking out of a glass). I arrived at the bar in the middle of the, presumably, weekly? meat raffle. Patrons buy a numbered paint stirrer ("paddle") for $1, someone is asked to draw a playing card from a deck, and the person holding the chosen number wins their choice of meat products lined up along the bar. Chops, steaks, stuffed quail, and shrimp were all still available when I arrived. Very funny. Although I don't entirely understand how this event helps the fine establish- ment, as winners need to leave the bar to get their meat into freezers. The place kind of cleared out once all the meat was given away. It was fun to be out after such a long work week. (It was especially long due to an acid spill in the warehouse late Friday afternoon...thanks a lot, Brent!) The beer (in a can) tasted divine. I even for to meet my predecessor in the lab, which reminds and encourages me that there is life after CH. Later in the evening, friends JB and Mary stopped by and crashed the party. We ducked out to grab a bite to eat with them and activate the DLM (dog liberation movement).

Mystery bulb

Charlene put a bag of bulbs in my Easter basket this year, and they've just started to bloom. I can't for the life of me remember what they're called, but they look awesome.

Grapes and hops

Our grapes are almost ready for picking. Kyle's co-worker Jim is going to take them for wine- making. Maybe we'll even score a bottle. Mmmm... On the beer front, the hops vine I planted this spring is still going strong, but I think it may not produce any actual hops until next year. That's good, because it'll give us more time to figure out how to actually use them in Kyle's beer making. His kits come with these dried hops pellets that look like rabbit food, so we're not sure if we can just drop fresh hops into his wort or not.

Pirate Bees


This is the best time of year for my Bluebeard Bush. It's blooming like crazy and the bumblebees come by the hundreds to crawl around on the beautiful purple flowers. It'd look even better if I weeded around it. Hence the close-up picture.

Jungle

Every year, I get really excited about my garden in the spring. I weed religiously. I research new plants to add. I water. I walk outside 8 times a day to admire the plants. By late July, however, I give up and let the garden do what it will. Usually, that means the weeds take over and the perennials turn brown. Knowing this about myself, I generally don't plant vegetables, because by the time they're spitting out food, I've retreated into the house, away from the wasps and hot sun. This is my "tough love" gardening philosophy. I toughen up my plants via neglect, allowing the strong to survive. (Yeah, this is justifiable in my head, really.) This year I only put one tomato plant into the ground - an heirloom "hollow" tomato, supposedly good for stuffing, that Erika and I found at the plant show at Concordia. I abandoned it months ago, and it's taking over the perennial bed it's in, having overgrown the small cage I provided long ago. Too bad the tomatoes it produces aren't overly sweet and juicy. They'd be terrific for stuffing, I'm sure, but I don't really have any recipes for that sort of thing. I tried stuffing one with feta and olives, which was good. But I'd use regular tomatoes far more often. I've learned my lesson. Next year I'll try something less quirky.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Meredith Rocks

I take back everything bad I've ever said about my sister (hee hee). She sent a package from her trip to New Zealand that included 3 balls of amazingly soft, amazingly pretty Hummingbird Calliope 8-ply mulit-color wool. Of course I started dreaming up everything I'd like to knit with this gorgrous yarn. Add this to my list of projects to look forward to...I might give in and order more. I think it'd make a lovely raglan v-neck sweater. Thanks, Little Pickle!

Oh baby



I have a new love - knitting baby things is fast and fun. My Belgian sister Elke is due in January, and, knowing my propensity for procrastination, I thought I should get going on a sweater right away. My mom found this yarn at her LYS and it's awesome. It's Artful Yarns' Candy. (Cotton, acrylic, nylon and elastic) It's the perfect colors for a critter of unknown sex (and for a tank for ME next summer, I think!). The pattern is fun and easy - Baby Tunic from Knitting Pure and Simple. I'm definately getting my confidence up.

I need to start knitting faster, however, because my wish list of projects is growing faster than my list of FOs. Most immediately, I have a sweater picked out from this Falls' Interweave Knits, a hat I've promised to knit for Kyle, and a stash of brown wool I'd like to use.

Punkin likes hats

I finished the "Almost Famous Luggy Bonnet" from Weekend Knitting. I love it, although it's a little big. Becky taught me how to crochet so I could finish the edge. I used cheap-o yarn from Michales since there were so many colors, and modified the pattern to have 4-row stripes instead of 2-row. (I hate weaving in ends - this was bad enough!) The stars I reknit got a little better the second time around. Still not perfect, but close enough for a hat I'll probably wear to shovel the driveway or go sledding. A male friend at work offered to buy the hat from me, so it's a hit already. (His fiance vetoed the idea, thinking the stars were a bit girly.) Now I'm ready for fall. Bring on the wind!