Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Grand and Noble Experiment

I have been casting about for what to do with some yarn I've had languishing in a box for a very long time. I didn't have enough of any one color for a project, so I kept trying to find something that would use up the yarn, but wouldn't require more, since I can't get any more of these colors.

I couldn't find anything. A sweater required too much, hats and scarves too little and so I decided to try a vest. Of course, after a lot of hunting, I couldn't find any patterns that met my requirements. So I grasped my courage in both hands and knit a swatch, got out some graph paper and made something up. 


So far, I really like it - way more than I thought I would. So, what could possibly be the problem? How could it all go wrong? Well, I've never done anything even remotely like this before, so my yarn calculations could be off - the amount of the gray yarn I'm using is beginning to alarm me and I fear I will run out before I get to the end of the stranded pattern section - and I still only have a sort of vague and evolving plan for how this garment will look as it reaches arms and neck. Then, I still need to figure out how to make the evolving arms and neck part actually fit my concept when I get there - that is, if I don't run out of the gray yarn first and have to rip the whole thing out and start over again. 

I keep laughing and telling myself it's a great learning experience. I just hope it's a success experience in the bargain! I expect you'll be subjected to another post about this little foray into fashion design, one way or another. The next picture could be three piles of yarn on the floor - or it could be a vest. Or, if I can't figure out how to do the arms and neck, it could turn into a wind sock! 

As a friend of mine frequently says, "Updates at 11".  

Monday, August 28, 2017

Feeling Chipper

The singing overhead wasn't coming from a tree on this bright summer morning, but rather from atop a large wire strung across the road. 


This little chipping sparrow hardly had anything to hold onto, since the wire was so big and his feet were so small.


That didn't stop the small songster from the morning serenade, though.



The first picture gave a good view from the front, the second one from the back, and here he is in profile, balanced atop the wire and giving a grand solo performance.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Planning Ahead


And now for something completely different....

At Christmastime every year, the little church at the end of the peninsula puts up a hat and mitten tree to benefit local children who may not have warm winter gear to keep the chill at bay. This year, I've gotten a little head start on the project and just finished knitting my first set of wearable ornaments to add to the tree. 


The pattern is a hybrid, using the basic form my mother used as we were growing up along with a little bit of sizing help from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. This set should work for a late elementary school child - I think the next set will be for a more early elementary size.

Whenever I work on mittens, I always think of my mother's lessons when I knit my first pair and how she told me, when I was all finished, that I now knew everything I needed to know in order to knit a sweater. I was floored, but she explained that I had learned how to do an edge treatment on the cuff, how to increase and decrease while shaping the hand, and how to make gussets while doing the thumbs. Pretty tricky way to fit all those lessons into a small project, right? She was smart that way.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rabbit, Run!

Baloo loves bunnies.


This bunny was happily munching grass (notice the blade sticking straight out of its mouth).


Baloo went on point and the bunny went on full alert.


While Baloo loves bunnies, the bunnies don't seem to love Baloo that much. This one made a hasty exit in a blur of fur - more blur than usual, since it was getting on toward dusk and the camera didn't have a lot of light to work with. I loved the shape of the hop, though, so I'm including the picture, fuzziness and all. It looks a little like a small exercise in pointillism, doesn't it? 



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Pepperoni-a-palooza!

Pepperoni made only with our own family harvested venison, spices and nothing else is a new flavor extravaganza for me to experiment with while making pizza for family gatherings.


For this version, I used three cheeses (fresh mozzarella, fontina and parmesan), artichoke hearts, red bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, onions and black olives, along with my own tomato sauce made from tomatoes my brother shared with me from his bumper crop last summer and herbs from my garden. I topped it with a sprinkle of extra pepper flakes for a little extra punch. 


Add a crisp, green salad and a glass of pino noir...


...and you have the makings for a family feast.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Snappy Breakfast Food

I rarely get to see snapping turtles in the bay, since they're so good at hiding, but every now and then I get a glimpse of one. 


On this occasion, I got more than a glimpse, since this happy turtle was feasting on a fish near the shore. 


It was difficult to get a good picture, since the early morning sun shining on the ripples lapping against the shore created some glare. I just had to wait until the waves framed the little beastie and try to catch the right moment.


Finally, the fish was pretty much consumed and the snapper came up for a breath of fresh air.



Here's the close-up, Mr. DeMille.



Friday, August 18, 2017

Roadside Revelry

As Baloo and I wander through our days, I always try to keep an eye open for anything interesting along our various paths (so does he, but we don't always agree on what's interesting).


We encountered an absolute riot of pink (both light pastel and dark fuchsia) sweet peas blooming along the road that runs parallel to the bay. 


I thought the colors were just outstandingly vivid and rich. Eye candy!


Then, we meandered past this little profusion of lavender flowers. I had not met this plant yet (or if I had my retention was seriously lacking). I looked it up in my trusty wildflower guide and identified it as Eastern gray beardtongue. Quite a mouthful for such tiny blossoms!



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Seagull Snacking at Sunset


 No, not snacking *on* seagulls but snacking *of* seagulls. 


One lovely evening, while taking Baloo for his customary sunset walk, I noticed a large colony of seagulls (yes, as you have probably guessed if you have read much of my ramblings, I am a bit of a word nerd and that's actually the proper name for a group of these birds, not flock) wheeling and swooping around and around just over the tops of the trees. You can see them as specks against the glowing yellow clouds in the picture above.


I tried to figure out what was going on and finally decided that there had been a hatch of some delicious seagull snack with wings - I couldn't see what variety of flying insect they were feasting upon, but they were very happy with the evening's gastronomic delights.  I got the best zoom I could, given the lighting conditions - it doesn't begin to capture the magnitude of the enthusiasm nor the extent of the colony. 

I enjoyed watching their acrobatics while Baloo kept his nose pointing toward earth as he looked for bunnies and ground squirrels.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Indigo Blues

One of the walks Baloo and I frequent in the summer months (to stay in the shade and keep the black dog solar collector out of direct sun as much as possible) has an indigo bunting that scolds us severely every time we pass through his territory. 


I've been trying to get a good picture of him as he flits through the foliage and gives us his vehement lecture, but every time I start to focus the camera on him, he moves and I have to locate him and start all over again.


So, whenever we walk there, I try again (and again) to see if I can have a little better success.


I finally caught him at a distance, perched at the very top of a maple tree as he proudly surveyed his domain. It's still not a great picture, but it's the best I have done so far. I'll keep trying...


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bee Bop A Ree Bop


Rhubarb Pie!


Rhubarb Custard pie, to be precise.


This is a flavor from childhood - complete with nutmeg. Yum!
And yes, I shared the feast!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Framed!

If you wondered why I dropped off the face of the blog world for a couple of weeks, here's what happened. I was challenged to share a booth at a local art show with a couple other artisans who wanted to dip their toes into marketing their work. It's something I had been thinking about doing for a while and it was a great opportunity to get some feedback.


So, I went down into the studio and spent a couple weeks gathering all the images I had already finished, printing up things I thought people might like, matting, framing, packaging and getting ready for showing my carved art. Here you see everything loaded into the back of my car ready to go to the show venue.


Here's my little section of our table setup. I had individual cards, boxed cards, matted prints and framed prints. 


Here's another shot from a different angle. It's crowded, yes, but I guess that just means I got really excited about getting ready and wanted to make sure I had enough of a selection for people to see.


And here are a couple framed pieces at the back of another part of the display. 

The show was a great experience. There were 45 local artists showing their work and there was some awesome stuff there! I learned a lot about what people responded to and also made a connection with a local gallery shop that has started to carry my work. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Monday Moon

The full moon on Monday was absolutely beautiful. 



Here it is rising over the trees. I just love the whispers of clouds drifting across the face of the moon.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Birds and Bee...

I was visiting my sister a couple weeks ago and admired the variegated weigela bush that grows at the edge of her yard.


I find both the flowers and the foliage quite striking. 


A bumble bee was busy enjoying the blossoms, too.


And then a pair of mallards wandered in to snack on the sunflower seeds and other tidbits that had fallen from the feeders. My sister said it was the first time she had seen them do that. Interestingly, they didn't seem at all daunted by people moving around to and from the grill. They must have practice visiting other feeders in the area, to be so unperturbed.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Flowers of the Field

There always seems to be something either blooming or bearing fruit out in the big field where Baloo and I walk just about every morning. I like to see what's new each day while Baloo noses around sniffing for ground squirrel or bunny trails.


Purple and white vetch are both blooming, sometimes creating tangles that are difficult to navigate, but are beautiful to look at - and apparently a good source of pollen, if the number of bees are any indication.


In the first picture you can also see the yellow hawkweed flowers dotted among the vetch. There's an orange version of this plant that I believe I highlighted last year. They were favorites of mine as a child - what a great name! Why hawkweed? Apparently, the Romans thought that hawks fed on these flowers to improve their eyesight. I find plant lore fascinating!


The Canada anemone is another field dweller, though it seems to like the wetter, marshy areas more than the dry, sandy ones. If you look carefully, you'll see that the flower on the left has a tiny bee collecting pollen.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Border Patrol


As you have no doubt guessed by this time, I am a fan of whimsy. I have previously shared another piece of delightful yard art from this farm that sports a border collie driving a tractor with the help of some chickens. 


This piece is every bit as much fun, with a border collie driving a "Border Patrol" cart loaded with sheep. 


I've never seen any sheep at the farm, although they have had goats, chickens, horses (including a magnificent and enormous work horse), mules and ponies of various kinds, as well as lots of cherries, grapes and apples.

They decorate all their farm buildings and I always admire the art and animals when I drive by on the way to visit favorite walking trails with Baloo. For his part, Baloo doesn't seem to care about the menagerie - he's more interested in getting on the trail and exploring the fauna in the woods. Chipmunks and bunnies are two particular favorites...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Small Wonders

Sometimes, tiny things are overlooked, as they are overshadowed by larger and flashier things. I thought it would be nice to highlight a couple of them.


The tiny (about 1/8 inch across) blue toadflax flower perches atop a threadlike stem that is only an inch or two tall. This specimen bravely stood in a dry, sandy field and I wondered at its tenacity.


Sometimes, when I'm looking at one thing, I find something else entirely. While trying to get a nice closeup of the vetch flowers, I spotted a bright (spotted) ladybug standing out against the greens and purples. 


This little snail caught my eye as Baloo was sniffing around the trunk of the tree it was on. It would have been easy to miss, since the mostly gray coloring matches the bark of the tree so well. Intricate spiraling detail on a shell that was no bigger than my thumbnail was its own natural wonder.


Unlike many of the creatures I try to photograph, the snail stayed put long enough for me to zoom in and focus. Birds, beasts and bugs are not usually so cooperative.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Temptations and Tantrums

When we go walking in any meadow, Baloo is always hunting for ground squirrels.


I'm always trying to keep him from pouncing on them and he's usually pretty good natured about not getting to have his way, even though they're a mighty temptation. 


He is, however, always reluctant to end the walk and when he realizes that we're on the final, homeward leg of our journey, he frequently throws a little tantrum.


He plops down on the ground to snort and roll and kick for a little while.


So, I stand there and wait for him to finish expressing his discontent.


Finally, he'll reach the stage of resignation, whereupon I tell him, "Protest duly noted. Let's go home." 

Then, he gets up and we finish our walk - even though sometimes, he tends to lag behind, rather than beside me or exploring ahead. On particularly draggy days, I've taken to playing games with him on the way down the road back to the house, up the driveway and to the front door to keep him moving in the right direction with more enthusiasm. It works as a bonus training session, so it's a win-win!


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Mmmmm.... Pizza!

I had my sister up to share a venison pepperoni pizza.


Homemade crust, fresh mozzarella, fontina, Romano and Parmesan cheeses along with sweet yellow peppers, onions, fresh cherry tomatoes, as well as sun-dried for extra tanginess, hot pepper flakes and fresh basil.

Along with a nice salad, we ate really well.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Pinks and Poppies

Just a little cheerful color for the day!


These colorful little beauties are blooming in my front garden. They are a member of the Dianthus family and they really seem to like the spot under the little crab apple in the front yard.


These eye-popping poppies escaped from the garden in the yard across the street from where they have now firmly established themselves in the weeds. They're a beautiful addition just up the road from my sister's house and Baloo and I got to admire them on a walk while we were visiting.