Saturday, July 27, 2013

In the Yard

 I don't have one of those neatly landscaped yards, with tidy edges and well thought out beds of perennials and annuals. Instead I have a mish-mash of plants, some doing well, others being crowded out by weeds and volunteer saplings. But when mid-summer arrives, and full-bloom settles in, it's lovely to behold. And a constant work in progress.
The better part of today was spent pulling trees and cutting out wild raspberry canes, and liberating a giant hosta. The temperature dropped to an almost chilly mid-60's which was perfect for doing hard labor requiring long sleeves and leather gloves. Now that the area is clear, it holds all kinds of potential. I have a long way to go, and many more trees and canes to remove, but it's so exciting to have some fresh dirt to dig in!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Yarn Along - Ribbed Cap

Joining in with Ginny again this week.
I'm still reading "Food Matters" by Mark Bittman. I put it aside for a while to look at magazines and do some word puzzles, but I'm back into it now. Looking ahead a bit, it does look like it's going to turn into more of a diet book, and that's not really what I was looking for. Also, the "Food Matters" DVD came in at the library. I don't think the book and the DVD are connected, even though they share some of the same principles. The DVD was a bit extreme. Instead of coming away with a positive attitude that I am making conscientious choices for the better, I felt that unless I became a raw food vegan who downed bottles of supplements each day, that I was doomed. I have the follow-up DVD "Hungry for Change" to watch next, so I'll see if it improves.

And on the knitting front, I cast on yesterday for a ribbed watchcap. The yarn is SR Kertzer Trenton, which the label says is a 100% Merino Wool superwash. Hmm. It doesn't feel anything like merino. I've used this yarn before, and it does soften up after the first wash.

And the yarn is wound into a round ball, because I just grabbed a skein as I was going out the door to get my car serviced. I should have wound it on the ball winder, but I didn't have time. I cast on while waiting, and had only done two rounds, when up comes a knot! So I ripped it out, undid the knot, and then wound the yarn into a ball, just to check that there weren't any more knots hiding along the way.

The cap is for one of our summer hires at work who will be leaving next week. It's funny how ribbing pulls in so much. I've been stretching it out, and I hope it will be big enough. If not, I should be able to knit another one in short order!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Who Says Safety Can't be Pretty?

The bag on the left - a safety kit for the car; a Christmas gift from a few years back. A handy thing, with jumper cables, flashlight, HELP sign, etc. I stowed it in the trunk, always meaning to add a few more bits and peices.

The bag had velcro on the bottom, which I think is meant to keep it attached to one spot in the trunk. Yes, well, that  really never worked very well. The bag still slides around, and all the velcro does is get stuck on everything else it shouldn't: the stadium blanket, the cloth carrier bags, and even yarn that fell out of a sack during a shopping trip.

I cleaned the car yesterday, and when everything came out of the trunk, I debated about whether or not I wanted to put the safety bag back. I carried it over to the Goodwill pile, and there the lightbulb went on. For on the Goodwill pile, was the gingham tote bag. It was in an auction box I recently purchased, and although it was a handy size, I didn't like the vinyl handles. So, not nice enough for knitting, but a perfect replacement for the safety bag! The jumper cables and other items fit nicely inside, and I was able to add my ice cleats and a few of the other loose items from the trunk. A much nicer bag, and the blue gingham matches my blue car. Much more cheerful!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Feline News and VIews

Rusty - 16 years old
Lily - 13 years old
Rollie - 10 years old
This has been a challenging year for me and my kitties. Each one of them have had health issues: some ordinary, some very serious. It started in January when Lily went blind due to hypertension. Luckily, with quick action and medication, she regained her vision, but developed other complications that pointed to renal failure. She was just about a goner in April. With lots of medications, and many vet trips, she has rebounded, but still needs daily observations for signs of another decline. She's so fragile.
Rusty was on the decline in May and June. Digestive issues, similar to Miss Lily, although much more pronounced. Again, medications, treatments, new diets, and constant monitoring were needed. He has also lost weight and some of his vigor. 
Rollie only had a little eye issue, and is by far the healthiest of the bunch, although he's probably actually a tad overweight. He's very good at cleaning the plates when the other two are in a finicky eating spell.
It's been a long haul, to be sure, and I have to be much more vigilant with their care. For a while, I was at the vet more than once a week, with one or another of them. Now, it's been a whole 9 days since I've needed to take someone in, and that feels great!
It's been stressful, and expensive, but I realize that as these cats age, it's to be expected. I have some limits as to when to make that difficult final choice for them, and luckily, it's not come to that (although Lily was pretty close). For now, every good day is a special joy, and I'm learning new animal care skills that surprise even me!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Yarn Along

Well, look at this. Two weeks in a row, joining in with Ginny and the Yarn Along! I hope it keeps me motivated to keep posting regularly.

This week I’m working on this pair of plain socks, for me, knit from Lang Aktion yarn. It’s taking me forever to finish these, because I’m always switching to something else that’s more important. I hope that I can get them done over the holiday weekend and get a different pair of socks started.
Just because they are plain socks, don’t think I didn’t learn anything. I learned that I really need to buy ONLY ONE ball of yarn if it’s one that I haven’t tried before, and then see how it goes. I have three balls of this yarn in my stash, this being one of them. While I really like the random patterning, the yarn is just a little too fine for my loose knitting style. Even on size zero needles, the socks feel thin. They might full up a bit with the first wash, but still, not my preference. I’m considering added along a strand of very fine coned yarn with the next pair I knit with this yarn, even though that’s going to affect the patterning.

The book I’m reading right now is Food Matters by Mark Bittman. A Guide to Conscious Eating. More facts about the effects of factory farms,  over processed food, and other nutritional nightmares. I’m actually waiting for the DVD of this book to arrive at the library, along with the DVD “Hungry for Change”. But I thought I’d read through the book first, as there are recipes included.

I am making an effort to eat healthier, but also just to eat more simply. And carefully. For a long time, I knew that ingredient labels were getting longer and longer and often listing more chemicals than food. But I think the tipping point was when I read about Hershey and other chocolate manufacturers pushing for a loosening of the requirement of how much cocoa and cocoa butter needs to be in a product and still be called “real chocolate” and not “chocolate flavored”. When they start messing with my chocolate, that’s serious! Not to mention all the labor issues Hershey has.

So little by little I'm making changes. I joined a CSA this year, and will write about that soon. Until I have the time and energy to have my own vegetable garden again, it seemed like a great alternative. And I really do like the community aspect of it. Plus I love surprises - this week's new food: pea shoots!