Tuesday, May 26, 2009

And a fine Memorial Day weekend it was.

I did just what I planned to do - almost. I spun, I dyed, I gardened. I read, I slept, I ate. I did not set the alarm. I did not travel out of town; in fact I doubt I went more than 10 miles from home.

I tidied the studio and found yarns I had forgotten about. Some are wonderful handspun yarns that deserve to be knitted into hats - and some already are new hats. Some are terrible, handspun yarns that need to be given to the thrift store. Some are wonderfully soft and squishy merino in dreary colors and will find their way into the dye pot. Some are interesting novelty yarns and now have been partnered up with base yarns to become 'Windy City' hats, like the one you see here. Some of these novelty yarns will tell me exactly what colors the dull-colored merino would like to become.

I even kitted up some of these Windy City combos and packed them into totes. One tote came to the office today to become my lunchtime knitting. And it did. I started knitting a deep olive green hat with gold and blue accents. Kind of pretty!

In the garden, J and I did a lovely job on the succulent bed; but last evening's deluge kind of wiped it out. Sad, but highly fixable.

I also dug and planted a kuri squash bed and planted a Japanese eggplant between the blueberries. Eggie looked okay this morning and we shall see if the Kuri squash comes up. I hope so. I got the seeds in an exchange a few years ago. I soaked them for a couple of days before I planted them.

The other cool thing I did was spend some time with my very young friend Nate. Nate is a bit under 9 months old and is a big (24 pound) tiny guy. His grandma, my pal Sally was caring for him at Locally Grown, her craft shop at the WNC Farmers Market. I went out to check in with Mac, bring her some signage materials, look for plants and shop for veggies. So I popped the rather mellow Nate into his stroller and walked through the stalls, talking to him while I looked at vegie and flower plants and he looked adorable. Eventually he curled up and fell asleep as I pushed him around. Later I gave him a bottle and sang sweet and silly songs. I've never been one who is gaga for any old baby. But Nate is one fine baby.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ready for the Weekend!

With a work deadline just a few days away, I think I will take a few days off and have a weekend. I'll bring home reading, but that's not bad. Phone and email have been quiet; most people probably got off to an early start.

This will be a home-body weekend, particularly enjoyable with last week's frenzy. I have gardening and housecleaning on the agenda. If I'm ever going to get started on the kitchen, I have a lot to do in the basement. I also have to visit my Brick and Mortar shops. Last weekend I was at Locally Grown all weekend, so I'm happy to just pay a semi-social call this weekend

Gardening includes mulching the roses and west perennial beds, digging the next squash hill, and gigging (and mulching) between the blueberries. It's just too hard to cut the grass between the plants. Also, I can plant things in between. Eggplant? Bush cukes? Note to self: Look up companion plants for blueberries.

In SMF world headquarters, I need to take pictures for Etsy, make up grab bags, do a bit of dyeing and tidy up. I tidy up a lot, but it seems to stay messy.

Facebook has been both good and bad. I stay off it during the day - just too distracting. I did build a page for Smoky Mountain Fibers and asked J to 'fan me.' This way I can test things on a very small part of the world. He is convinced that the world will beat it's way to my door. I'm not convinced that EVERYBODY is quite as adicted to FB as he is. On the other hand, I had a nice psuedo-conversation with my sister Jane, so that's a very good thing.

Staying on South Beach. 129 pounds.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Which I Finally Broke Down and Joined...


It's true. I really, really, REALLY didn't want to, but the reasons to join simply topped the reasons not to join.

I am keeping all notations of my small college employer out of the picture. We dare not write the name, initials or any reference to the college out of the picture. Don't want my students finding me.

I will put in connections to fiber, dance, gardening and area gatherings. I just felt like I was out of it and missing out on conversations in which I wanted to take part. Now I'm being 'friended' all around. Will it be just another distraction?

My Oceana roving found it's way into an Etsy Treasury today. A lovely one at that. Thanks! I've continued spinning a healthy amount. Not everyday; but multiple times per week. I've also been knitting a good bit, both on my Classic Lines Cardi and cranking out hats for fall's inventory.

Sunday was the last English Country Dance of the season. With great music and calling, yummy snacks and a good crowd of new and experienced dancers, a good time was had by all. Sad to see it end for the summer, but we will be back in the fall. In the meantime, I hope to learn to lead a number of dances and I'll be building a website for the group. Two obstacles: a serious lack of decent pictures and a name. AshevilleECD.com? Since we never decided on any other name for our group, I guess that will be it.

Still on the South Beach plan, level 1. Weight 130.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Getting Ready for Summer - the Way it is Supposed to Be!

This is yet another walk in the garden. I realized while I was out edging the rose garden on Sunday morning, that it has been a number of years since I have had a summer slow-down season. Now granted, I always teach some kind of summer program for in-service K12 teachers. This year it will be 2 weeks of my 'Children's History' program as well as a lot of prep work for a longer term project I've been working on. I began last summer thinking that my job was going away, so I taught the Ed Tech class in the short summer session. The 3 previous summers I was in grad school in addition to working full time, plus two of those summers I spent a good bit of time in Minnesota with my late parents.

This summer is a whole new thing. Granted, I am working full time, but intend to burn unused vacation days by taking Fridays off whenever possible. My calling gigs have fallen off for the next few months, and it's a fairly slow time in the fiber business. I have always spent this time building inventory - dyeing fiber, spinning yarn, working on patterns and knitting hats. But not a lot of pressure. I plan to participate in the Phat Fiber Sampler Box again in June - the theme is 'Oceans' and my watery blue greens should be just the ticket! Most, if not all of that fiber is already dyed.

My garden is my new passion. Getting it tidy, edging beds, moving plants, digging a few new beds. Really making it look and act as I want it to be. And with the rain we have been having, it's easy to weed!

Last evening I tilled the sunny bed on the western side of the house. It's hot and sunny, but easy to water. It is also just outside the reach of the Black Walnut trees. Last evening I planted peppers (hot banana, habanero & jalapeno), basil (Genovese and purple), parsley (Italian and curly), cilantro, one tomato which shall remain nameless. On Sunday evening, I set out seeds and plants of zucchini and cucumber; last night I planted nasturtiums in the same hills. Still to come: sweet peppers & at least one more tomato; green beans when the peas come out, & probably okra.

The earlier spring crops are quite happy with the Sugar Snap peas in bloom & kale full up and delicious (I braised some thinnings with green onions for Sunday supper). The chard is spotty so I may fill in with plants. I also spotted a single volunteer tomato in the same place where a mid-sized red tomato grew in abundance last year, so I intend to nurture it.

In flower world, the roses are just getting started and the rhododendron looks better than it has for years. I just hope the rain continues! The back perennial border is just getting going, but the then-tiny plants didn't get quite the spacing they need now! Some plants need to be on wheels, because they will be traveling!

Day 3 of South Beach redux. Still no cheating, but I have not gotten back on the scale. A bit too soon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

South Beach Calling

Sadly, my last summer weight loss has snuck back on. Even though I can tell myself, 'I look damn good for age 50-something and if you don't believe me, just go to any public place (though preferably someplace like WallyWorld) and take a look at the other women my generation,' but my clothes are getting increasingly snug. Now granted, I only bought a couple pair of new pants once I got skinny so most of my clothes are just fine. But that's not the point. I'm all hooked on sugar again - even drank a bit more beer than I intended the other evening - something I have not done in quite some time. Granted that was 3 beers over 5 hours, but still...

So I've decided to go back on the South Beach diet phase 1 for the requisite 2 weeks. The semester is over & the cafeteria is closed, so lunches are in my own power. They always were, but going to the cafe with my colleagues was fairly important to my ongoing sanity, particularly in those last few weeks of the term.

Starting weight: 133 lbs. Exactly where I started last summer! Even I could hardly believe it.

Requisite fiber content: I have been testing the Gaywool dyes and like them very much, even tough the colors are a bit 'bright' but I think with a touch of 'Silver birch' and other duller shades, I can take some of the 'Easter Egg' shades off of them. After making my way though all of the colors that I purchased, I began some very nice blends. Different that I have made before, but lovely.

Making fine headway - well, sleeveway - on the Color Lines Cardi. Sleeve #2 is about 6 inches long. No pictures yet, but there may be enough to photograph by now.

Spun like crazy this weekend at the market, making a large amount of dark brown & medium brown yarn.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Art Walk in DC

I just returned from a trip to Washington, DC - one of my favorite places to visit. The trip was work related, a semi annual meeting of consortium members from colleges that use the digital resources of the Library of Congress to enhance teaching and learning. The program, Teaching with Primary Sources, is a terrific resource to K12 schools and colleges. I'm happy to be the person on the ground here in Western North Carolina. I enjoy my colleagues very much and always return from those meetings energized.

I usually go up to DC a day in advance - It's hard to fly from Asheville to DC on Monday morning in time for a 10 am start. While in DC I always go to museums. This time it was raining, so I spent more time that usual in the museums, rather than strolling about. The highlight of the trip was the Louise Bourgoise show at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden. It was a huge show of large and small works, sculpture, paintings and drawing. One of her recurring themes is the spider. Bourgoise's mother was a tapestry weaver and both her earlier and later works use the spider and fibers in a number of different ways.

I have been visiting the Museum of the American Indian on nearly every trip. One of the current shows is Fritz Scholder's Indian/not Indian paintings (and more sculpture). Even with some disturbing images and his claim than 25% of something is nothing, he really changed Native American art.

The newest exhibit at the Library was the Lincoln Bicentennial exhibit 'With Malice Toward None.' This is an amazing collection of primary source documents - hand written notes, newspaper articles, drawings, photographs - even campaign buttons and banners. You can seee the online version here + the interactives will go up very soon, if not already. I saw anumber of other cool things, but these were the standouts of a fine trip.

Official fiber content: Nothing like time in airports, airplanes and hotel rooms to get serious knitting done. In this case, sleeve #1 of the Classic Lines Cardi in the rusty shades of Chipotle and Spice. Perhaps a bit too close in tone, I really like it.

Tonight is the monthly fiber group get together. I'll bring sleeve #2 and a tossed salad. We will be small. but mighty!