The Calm After the Storm

We had a pretty major storm slam through last evening. Our family and house and trees are fine, but the entire neighborhood was without power, except us. Our power flickered and surged many times during the storm but held strong. So many not as fortunate as us, those with mature trees. The winds reached something like 120 mph, and there was a tornado just south of us. Many photos today of friends in the area with every tree in their yard down.

After the storm rolled through, Mr. Ink and I went out to clean up branches that had flown into our yard. Branches from neighborhood trees that had whipped through alarmingly, but stayed away from the house itself. And we looked up and noticed the sky. It was so amazing and spectacular. The heat had broken, the wind was still blowing and the clouds and sunset were enough to bring tears to your eyes. Mr. Ink took some pictures, but nothing compares to actually being there.

In the end, we brought our lawn chairs to the front yard, grabbed a glass of wine, and sat out front watching the sunset. (And listening to the cars honk in rage as the stoplights nearby weren’t working.) It was a pretty spectacular evening, and as the sun went down I realized that there were fireflies all around us. Just an amazing top 10 summery moment. The top of the hill might not be the best place to be when 120 mph winds roll through, but it sure is the best place to be to see the amazing sky. We’ll take it.

I went to pick up Miss Butterfly early this morning from camp. That area got hit pretty hard as well, all of camp is without power, and without water. So, it’s a bit of a nightmare for them right now, and picking her up was unexpectedly tricky as well because they were so discombobulated. But, on the way home I found out that Miss Butterfly skipped a level entirely this year, is now an advanced rider, and gets to begin jumping her horse next year. It’s awesome! I really wish we had the kind of cash to send her to lessons year round, she just loves it so much and she’s so comfortable with those animals.

I finished up a scarf and got it blocked before the storm rolled through, so I snapped a picture this morning.

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Turned out pretty well, I have to say! Once again, this is Miss Marja’s handspun, and the pattern is one row handspun scarf.

And that’s it from here! Miss Butterfly is off with her father at the funeral, and I’ve got quite an extensive load of laundry to do. I am basically hoping to do the laundry and then get it right back into the suitcase as she’s at camp again after this week. We are also doing some volunteer week tomorrow evening and have a housewarming party to attend tonight. Mr. Ink works today and somehow in between all of that, we have to fit lawn mowing and yard work in. This is a weekend that’s going to fly by in a heartbeat!

More Trees

I didn’t grab any photos of knitting last evening. There’s not much new to show. Nor did I do much knitting yesterday. I did get my more than 15 minutes of weeding done. I finally told Mr. Ink that I was trying to commit to that each day. Surprisingly, his response was a very genuine “Wow! I bet you are seeing great progress!” Surprising because he weeds for hours on end.

He headed out to look for another shrub. He’s nutty, I cannot believe he’d want to plant another thing. He didn’t find what he was looking for after 2 different stores, but he came home with a new watering can and a very nice pair of little clippers for deadheading.

Sometimes he reminds me of my grandfather. I seem to remember that during his retirement, my grandfather used to listen to my grandmother talk, not really say much about it, and then suddenly the thing she wanted would show up at the house. Oftentimes in this case, handmade. Mr. Ink is like that. I’ll mention that I need a new something or other. And, then he’ll come home with “surprises.” It’s pretty awesome. Anyhow, after my weeding, me and my new titanium clippers went out and did a ton of deadheading and cutting plants back.

Today we are off to the funeral of one of Mr. Ink’s coworkers who passed away in a terrible accident. It’s a double service, as his partner was also involved. I won’t know anyone, but Mr. Ink worked with this young man for 12 years and doesn’t want to miss it. Then I found out last evening that Miss Butterfly’s great grandmother did indeed pass away this week. The funeral is set for Saturday morning, so we’ve arranged to get her picked up from camp early so she can get home, wash up, get changed, and head to the funeral. She’s going to be rather startled I think, but I know she wouldn’t want to miss the funeral. What a week!

So, all I’ve got now is photos of a few more of our trees. Not all of them of course, but a few.

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This is one set of trees that will hopefully over time grow enough to give us extra privacy and help cut down on road noise. Mr. Ink put them in at the end of the first summer I think, so they are closing in on 2 years here. They didn’t grow much in year one, but we are seeing lots of new growth this spring. They are pretty happy. Beyond that is my weird weeping spruce monster. I purchased it quite cheap last year, and as it turns out, that’s because the top of it was broken. When we got it, it was desperately root bound, and a definite weeper. Such droopy branches. Once planted, it perked up quite a bit, the branches lifted, and it almost looked as if it were dancing. I call it our dancing monster. It’s a SUPER weird tree. I do hope the top fills in a bit, as Mr. Ink is training a couple of the branches to stick straight up in hopes it doesn’t look weird forever. It’s a dwarf, it’s probably already 10 years old, and likely won’t grow all that much.

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This one, too, is closing in on two years old. It was just a ridiculous spindly thing the first year and has filled in very nicely. I don’t love that it’s crooked, but Mr. Ink likes to train his tree trunks into weird shapes, so it’s starting this way and over time will probably change. It’s Kousa Dogwood, which has some really amazing buds but this one hasn’t done so yet.

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The green one in front is a vine maple, with the japanese maple behind it, and then a fothergilla behind that. The fothergilla and the vine maple are new this year, the japanese maple one year old.

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Right in front there is a Korean Fir tree. It’s a year old. These trees prefer more shady cooler weather, so it’s a bit of a stretch in this area. Mr. Ink had an elaborate set up to shade it last year. It grew not at all last year but this spring it’s got some new growth which is very exciting. To the right in the half finished garden bed is a black lace elderberry which has luckily tripled in size this year. And another interesting evergreen thing that I can’t remember the name of. There’s a whipcord toward the back under the hanging basket, not sure how big that is supposed to get.

And, that’s about it for today’s tree tour. I am slowly gathering all the tree photos for 2017. I’ve got one or two more to take and then I’ll be done. Sometimes I take a photo, and then think “This particular shrub will look better in a few weeks, let’s wait!” So, there’ll be more in the future.

 

On a Wednesday

Again with the rain by sheer force of will. I spent all last evening watching some storms on the radar. They were pretty far west, and I wasn’t sure they were going to make it here. But this morning it’s raining beautifully, and I am thrilled to pieces that our plants and ground are getting a much needed soaking.

It was even hotter yesterday, with crazy wind. Even so, I forced myself into 15 minutes of weeding, and you know what? That rose of sharon garden is looking pretty decent. And after today’s rain, it’ll be even easier to pull those weeds.

On that note, guess what those weeds are? Those millions of weeds? They are new little rose of sharons. Apparently I wasn’t aware of just how much they like to reseed. This year I’ll take the copious amounts of time to deadhead that thing as high as I can reach. I don’t really want to do this type of weeding again.

I had hoped to commute by bike this morning, but the morning rain made that a fail. Unfortunately, this means I won’t make my goal of commuting by bike once this week, as we’ve got a funeral to attend midday tomorrow, and Friday I get to walk Max, Miss Marja’s dog. So car is needed. Because I couldn’t commute in, I had extra time in the morning.

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And that means I was able to finish repeat 5 on the first side of the tibetan clouds stole. I committed to 3 repeats this week and I’ve already knit two. I really think this thing is going to be absolutely glorious once blocked!

I also finished up the next ball of yarn on the purple scarf, as I’d hoped. Now I’ve only 4 balls of yarn left to go on that. I am feeling mighty accomplished with my knitting right now. It’s nice. With Tour de Fleece right around the corner, this bodes well for my stash.

The one thing I’ve noticed this week with Miss Butterfly at camp, despite really missing her company, is that it is true that I just plain have more mental energy to get stuff done with her gone. I’ve been productive around the house and with other stuff that just plain needs to be sorted, and it feels really good. She’s got another week of camp coming up, as well as her annual trip to visit my parents, so I am just going to take advantage of that mental energy and work with it.

I guess that’s about it from here, happy halfway through the week!

Rain!

I keep joking that I made it rain yesterday by the sheer force of my will. We woke up to what looked like storm clouds brewing, but often summer storms dissipate right before they hit our city. And, when it’s mid 90s already, we call them summer storms. Thankfully they did not dissipate. The rain we got wasn’t hard rain, but it did do a good job watering our plants for us, and went a long way toward filling our rain barrel. This meant that Mr. Ink and I got an evening “off.” Because at this point our gardens are so large that watering them properly really can eat up an evening.

Despite the fact that the rain made everything super humid, I decided to go out and weed the rose of sharon garden bed. Now, yesterday Bagheeracr at Experiencing Local made the comment that maybe I could set the timer for 2 minutes and then get on with it. I figured I’d do myself 3 minutes better and set the timer for 5 minutes. And, I figured if I do that every evening I can, I am likely to feel less overwhelmed. So, I set my timer for 5 minutes, weeded for 10 or 15 minutes, and made decent progress without feeling overwhelmed or miserable. In fact, even in the humidity, that amount of time wasn’t enough for me to break a sweat.

So, I am going to try that trick again. But next time with a bucket rather than throwing the weeds on the lawn, which always annoys Mr. Ink even though he comes by and picks them up anyhow. (The patience of that man is quite amazing, so we try not to take advantage of it too often.)

If I was really smart, I’d go out and weed first thing in the morning before work! In fact, I wandered out this morning to look at the garden very briefly, to see my huge lily beginning to bloom!

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Isn’t that wild? I thought “I should really plant some more of those” and then I realized that those are ones which I propagated, so I’d better not. With any luck, I’ll have more in a few years, and they’ll get overwhelming quickly.

This garden bed is a constant work in progress. You can see that we’ve still got lots of area to fill in. And I’ve got to get my mums pinched back again. Mr. Ink just bought a plant for that garden, but has planted it so far back it’s hard to see. I think he’s going to be moving it forward so it doesn’t just smoosh in with everything else. There’s some stuff in there I am allowing to stay for now, but will be removed in the future. But, it’s a pretty vast improvement on last year. img_4534

This. This is what that garden bed looked like last year. (And what you don’t see are the huge volunteer tree roots that we kept cutting back but really needed digging up. We still find them sometimes.)

I was pretty motivated to work on the list from yesterday, getting my work bag cleaned out and more than half a repeat done on the tibetan clouds stole, in addition to regular keep the house running chores. I always get irritable at the thought of having to put away dishes while Miss Butterfly is away, it’s her job. But then I realize that Mr. Ink and I use fewer dishes overall, and I really only have to run the dishwasher twice when she’s gone for a week.

After those things were done, Mr. Ink and I finished our listen to A Man Called Ove while he made dinner and I worked on this new project:

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The pattern is the One Row Handspun Scarf, and the yarn is some of Miss Marja’s handspun. I’d tried to make it into another scarf awhile back, but could tell I’d run out of yarn. Let’s see if I can find a photo:

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There we go. The ruching ate up way too much yarn, so I had to rip it back out. I still want to make the above pattern at some point, but I’ll save it for something with more yarn. I the meantime, I really love how the one row handspun scarf pattern is showing off the yarn. I started with 7 balls of yarn, and I am currently knitting on my 3rd ball of yarn. I bet she made this yarn on spindles, because all the balls are about the same size. Which means at the rate of one ball of yarn per day, I’ll have a completed scarf by the end of the weekend.

A week or so ago I think I expressed that I really wanted to work on something out of handspun, rather than working on all my projects out of commercial yarn. Now I’ve got two handspun scarves on the needles, which really helps scratch that itch! I am enjoying my month of knitting. Earlier this year I was able to get my yarn stash down to JUST ONE cabinet. Since my spinning picked up again, I was struggling again. But, with this latest month of knitting I’ve got everything put away in that one cabinet again, much to my relief. I never want to expand beyond it! In fact, I’d like to get it down to such a reasonable level that I can easily move yarn about in the storage cubes, making each skein easier to see. Right now they are sort of stuffed in there pretty tightly.

I guess that’s it for around here! I am pretty pleased with my progress yesterday evening. So much so I’ve made myself an additional list of other stuff I need to get done, like purchasing plane tickets for vacation and stuff. Let’s see if I can be equally good at getting that one done!

 

This Week June 12-18

Last week:

  • Clean the outside of the fridge and microwave and keep up on other normal chores.
  • Get herbs and veggies and get them planted.
  • Weed rose of sharon garden bed. Again.
  • Finish center square on the tibetan clouds stole.
  • Work on final clue of mystery stole.
  • Commute by bike once this week.
  • Finish up the shopping for Miss Butterfly, and get her prepared and packed for camp.

I am not making excuses for the two that I didn’t get done!

Let’s talk instead about that mystery stole that I finished this weekend! You know what? I couldn’t have imagined a better way to pull it all together.

It turned out great, I really like it. And I enjoyed knitting it. It’s quite wide really, which will come in handy. The yarn is a high silk content merino, so it’s really very soft and drapey as well.

As for yarn use, I got VERY lucky. You may remember that I thought maybe I was pretty light on the green amounts, so I added in a bit of coral as well? At the end of the stole I had just enough green left to crochet the end in very carefully. Not even enough to use a darning needle for weaving in the end. And, I had less than half a row worth of the coral left. So, I really pushed it, but was also not terribly nervous because I figured I could easily throw in a bit of one of the other colors to make up for whatever I lacked. I just didn’t have to. So, because of the color differences, my stole is not symmetrical. But I don’t think it matters one bit. It’s still lovely. It still uses yarn I dyed by hand. It still uses up quite a lot of yarn from my stash. All things I expect out of my knitting right now.

For this week:

  • 3 more repeats on the sides of tibetan clouds, I have 3 repeats done on the first side. I need 8.5 before the final border charts. I am struggling with this one a bit. The lace is complicated, I can’t memorize it, and it’s not intuitive either. I need to look at the pattern for both sides, it’s not a straight purl back either. So, it’s slow going and I am tiring of it after 3 repeats. It goes on the list, and I can just keep after it until it’s done.
  • Clean out work bag! It’s a desperate situation at this point, I can’t find anything.
  • Commute by bike once this week. (Maybe this time I’ll get it done?)
  • Deep cleaning of the bathroom. I’ve been neglecting it. Mr. Ink has been doing so much planting that scrubbing down the walls feels pointless, as the next day there’s mud on them again. Sort of like the fridge door. But, this is NO excuse to fail to get the job done!
  • Some weeding of the rose of sharon garden bed? JUST SOME? Maybe the issue is that it feels overwhelming so I don’t even start.
  • Get photos of all the trees for 2017, and put them in an album for comparison next year.

Miss Butterfly is off at camp, and I’ll tell you what. I am already eager to go get her on Saturday. It’s so weird, her getting older. I don’t have that “I need a break desperately” feeling at all anymore!

That’s it from here! I’ve got a full day of work training (read full day of knitting) and am off to that in just a moment. I am oddly excited about this prospect!

Sunday Update

We had a wonderful busy Saturday. That kind where so much gets done, and you just pretty much enjoy all of it.

We started with morning mowing. We knew it would be a hot day so we figured we’d get it out of the way. I tried something new, and something I really should have tried before this. You see, Mr. Ink and I have two mowers. We each brought one into the relationship. And it’s worked well for us, since I don’t mind mowing, I like the exercise, and it helps me feel like I am actually really helping with something practical in the yard. Now, I know I’ve been complaining about all the trees lately, and mowing around them. But, I don’t want to stop mowing, I want to keep helping.

So, it was much to my surprise yesterday when Mr. Ink talked about getting rid of his mower. “It’s too heavy” he said. “I repaired a plastic wheel last year and now another is broken.” He complained. I panicked, talking about how it’s nice to have two mowers and get the job done fast. He said “Oh, I’d get another!” So of course I tried to figure out how we would keep both.  Then I remembered something. His mower is self propelled, even though it’s a feature he never uses. So, I agreed to switch mowers this weekend, and try the self propelled feature. And guess what? A self propelled mower zooms right around those trees nicely. The parts of the lawn Mr. Ink takes care of are on steep banks, and the self propelled feature doesn’t work well there. So, making the switch seems to have worked quite well.

We had some lunch, then headed to the plant store to pick up a few things. And browse. And take pictures of plants we may want in the future. It’s pretty much like going to a local yarn shop for us, but we both get to enjoy it. I brought home two more delphinium and a lily to add to my collection, in addition to that elusive cayenne pepper.

Then we were off to a friend’s home. He’s having surgery this week, and so was on call for work this weekend and couldn’t leave the house. We headed over there to visit with him, and drink his home brewed beer with him. He had 3 great delicious beers on offer, we tasted each and then chose one, and then sat and socialized with him and his girlfriend. Our social time has been severely lacking lately, and perhaps theirs as well, as evidenced in that all 4 of us introverts couldn’t stop talking.

Once back home we grabbed a quick nap, then I had some iced coffee, and we got back to work in the yard. It was hot and humid, so a bit miserable. But, I had stuff I really wanted to get done! I moved my purple coneflowers, they’d grown too large for the spot I’d put them in. I removed a large hosta to keep my delphinium clear. I planted my new lily, planted the pepper and another basil plant, and then watered everything and called it good. By the time Mr. Ink was done with his yard work it was late and we went out to dinner. (At 9:30 p.m.!)

I managed to enjoy a bit of knitting time and quite a bit of indoor clean up time in there as well. This morning I finished my mystery stole, so once that’s dry I can grab photos. I also started something new.

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I took that wild and crazy yarn I was using last week and began a very simple mindless scarf. I think this will show off the yarn and not be too busy at all for it. It’s also fairly mindless, which is great since tomorrow I’ve got a day long training that I suspect I’ll be able to knit through if I keep it under the table. Plus, I needed something for today! I may be socializing again, amazingly enough. A girlfriend of mine decided she wanted a day at the lake so she’s invited a few cyclists out for a gravel bike ride and some lake time. I figure I’ll bring my knitting if I go.

That’s it from here, I am hoping we’ll have a dry mystery stole in short order because I am so eager to show it off!

Trees and More Trees

I haven’t any knitting to show off today. Thursday evening the final clue came out on the mystery stole and I’ve been knitting away on that ever since. I am about halfway through the final clue. Depending on my speed and the speed of blocking, I’ll have a finished object tomorrow or Monday to show off. I can tell you this though, connecting the two pieces is AMAZING. It looks great! I can’t wait to show it off. But it’s so amazing that I am not going to even post a photo of where I am now on the knit. It’s a surprise!

In the meantime, I took some photos of some of the trees we planted last year. I mean, it’s so valuable to try to compare them to what they looked like last year, so much do they grow in a year.

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See the cypress behind the rose bush?

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It seems almost as if it’s doubled in size, and boy has it filled in! Can you tell it’s windy? The wind is whipping it around in this photo.

At the beginning of last year, we also put in a japanese maple. Just a plain traditional one. We’ve put in a bunch more since them, specialty items Mr. Ink researched and fell in love with. However, this one was the first, and I really loved it. But, it didn’t do well last year. In fact, there was a point where the japanese beetles ate it completely down to nothing, there were no leaves on it at all. Just a pathetic stick in the ground. Once we managed to fix that issue, (regular application of neem oil helped) the poor thing then got bag worms, before we figured out what bag worms were. Thankfully this year we know what to look for, and the japanese maple I fussed over all last year looks great this year.

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I am thrilled with how well it’s doing! Mr. Ink threatened numerous times to get rid of it, but I’ve put a hard stop to that and I think it’s here to stay.

Up next, Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick Tree. I love this one. Mr. Ink pointed one out at the botanical garden last year, and then we came right home and got one. It’s on one of the front banks. This is not a tree that gets overly large from what I can tell. In fact, none of our trees get overly large. In any case, this one is amazing for it’s odd, twisted, contorted branches, and ours is doing that quite nicely.

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I’ve spent a lot of time this winter being semi critical of all the trees Mr. Ink was planting. And, I am highly critical of them when it comes time to mow. But, the other day I was wandering about the yard. I looked at the paperbark maple, new this year, and said “That’s my current favorite tree!” Then I said “No! No, my odd weeping pine is my favorite.” Then I corrected myself again. “No, that’s not true, my favorite is the cypress. Or maybe it’s the new weeping redbud. Or the walking stick!” And then I realized something. I am not actually critical of the trees at all, in fact, I can’t seem to make up my mind about which one I love best. I guess I’ve come around to the idea of our yard being a forest of odd trees.

We’ve been in an all out war with the weeds the past few days, that’s what’s going on in the garden right now. It’s so amazing really. I mean, it’s hot here. And we need rain. The plants droop without it, and yet the weeds NEVER droop! It’s like the revel in it. They are thrilled. They love it, it makes them all the stronger! I’d like to make a stop at the plant store, I never did get there after work this week. I need a cayenne pepper plant! And, I want a few more delphinium. Mr. Ink agrees. They look great, and if they like our soil, we should plant more.

That’s about it from here. Miss Butterfly is with her dad and then headed straight to camp tomorrow. We are having quite a bit of quiet around here. Mr. Ink is puttering in the yard, and I am hoping we manage a bike ride and a little socializing later. Though that’ll depend. The heat will be in the mid 90s and the wind is whipping at 20-30 mph. Not ideal biking weather, that’s for certain. We might just do the socializing part. I can’t decide!