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July 2014

Right Now . . . July 2014

Here in my neck of the woods, we're having a weird summer.  It . . . sort of . . . hasn't really gotten started yet.  Cooler-than-normal.  Wetter-than-normal.  Just sort of . . . different from usual.  So, it doesn't feel possible that it's already the end of July.

But it is!


Here's what's happening for me. . . Right Now! 

Watching . . . A History of European Art.  Seriously.  I purchased one of those super-duper-on-sale Great Courses.  I'm trying to cram a whole lot of art history into my brain before I travel to Italy in a month.  (Wish me luck.)

Reading . . . Just finished Thunderstruck and Other Stories (Elizabeth McCracken) - an excellent collection of short stories, if you like that kind of thing -- and Song of the Lark (Willa Cather) - which was . . . kind of meh.  I liked it - but not as much as I expected.  (I liked My Antonia MUCH better.)  I also read Doctor Sleep . . . as compelling a Stephen King novel as I've read in recent years.  Now, I'm settling in with what might be the ultimate in "cozy mysteries" - Death of a Cozy Writer (G.M. Malliet).

Knitting . . . Now that I'm finished with this knit, I'm ready to cast on for yet another shawl.  This one, to be exact.  The yarn is wound, the proper needle found.  Just haven't had the free moments to get started!  I'm also only inches away from finishing another of these.  (This one has an interesting lake story.  Someday I'll share it.)


Listening to . . . Tanya and Dorise.  These New Orleans street performers are incredible -- and their CDs are quite awesome.


Dreading . . . Shorter days.  Because it doesn't quite feel like I've had enough summer yet.

Planning . . .  A trip to Holland (Michigan) this weekend to take in Art in the Park with my Mom (an annual event for us) -- and maybe I'll see Brian, too.

Humming . . . This one . . . (it popped up on my iPod the other day). . . 


Wondering . . . Why it took so long for me to get back to my yoga class!!!  (Whatever the reason, I'm really glad to be back.)

Drinking . . . Every day! (But just a little.)

Itching to . . . Cut my hair a little bit shorter.  (Dare I?????)

Needing to . . . Deal with the bark beetles in my Austrian Pines.  Our yard has many (20+) Austrian Pines.  Many of them are succumbing to bark beetle damage.  I need to get some dead trees taken out -- and figure out if the rest of my trees can be saved.  (This is rather heartbreaking, and I'm in denial.)

Organizing . . .  My sister and I are headed to Italy in earliest September.  I'm converting all my documents and notes and websites into an Evernote file, so it's all easily available on my phone and/or iPad.


Delighted by . . . One of my orchid plants is getting ready to re-bloom!  This has never happened for me before (despite a long history with orchids).  I don't know what I did to encourage this activity, but I'm thrilled!


Inspired by . . . The changing sky.  We've seen some beautiful sky-scenes this summer -- clouds and storms and sunsets.  It seems I'm always running inside to grab my camera!

Celebrating . . . My "see-you-next year" check up with my oncologist!  (Things are looking good!)


Pleased with . . . Although I really do prefer my summers to be more . . . well, summer-y . . . I must say that the weather has been perfect for running!  Who would've thought that late-July running could be so comfortable!?!

How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . Right Now?


HOP to it!

Last year, I planted two little hops plants in my backyard, using an arbor that Tom installed for me.  The hops grew and flourished, but not enough for a harvest or anything.

This year, though, we've got a different story!


Yes.  This year. . . we have HOPS!

(And, really, my whole back garden would be covered with hops if I didn't keep up with my "maintenance."  Because hops want to take over the world -- or, at least, my garden!  They aren't hard to maintain, though.)

We've got a lot of cones forming now.




According to the Michigan State University Extension website, we should expect to harvest our hops sometime in September.

I'll keep you posted on our Hops Progress. . . and, in the meantime, I'm in the market for a food dehydrator!

Over and Over


Today's post needs a little soundtrack* . . .


This week, we're talking about repeat-knits . . . you know.  Those patterns we can knit . . . over and over!

I have to admit, I'm not a big repeat-knitter!  I am usually looking for variety and fresh challenges when I knit, and I'm rarely intrigued enough with a pattern that I want to knit it again and again.


That said . . . there are a few things that I turn back to . . . over and over.

1.  Spa Day Face Cloths.  I have made many of these for gifts (they make a particularly nice gift with a special bar of soap).  They're quick, not too much of a slog, and turn out really nicely (especially knit in a luxurious cotton yarn).

2.  Fleece Mittens - Family Style.  This pattern is by a local knitter/designer, and is quick-to-knit and incredibly warm.  I've knit two pairs, and I have an order (from Erin) for a third.  


One year, for Christmas, I went a bit crazy for slippers!  

3.  Duffers - revisted.  I knit 6 pair of Duffers that year.  I could make more.  (And, in fact, I've already been advised that some of the original pairs are wearing out.  Could I replace them?)

4.  Men's Felted Moc Slippers.  I ended up making 4 pairs of these.  They were much more complicated and . . . involved . . . than the the Duffers.  I would consider making more, though, because they seemed to have been a hit with the men-folk.


5.  Wee-one Welcome Set.  This is my go-to baby welcoming gift.  I have truly knit this one . . . over and over!  It's basic and uncomplicated, and looks great in any yarn (fun buttons make all the difference).  I'm pretty sure I'm not finished with this pattern yet!

6.  Baktus scarf.  I've only knit this one once, so far.  But it was fun -- and it turned out great.  I've been meaning to make another . . . and . . . someday I will!


7.  Hipster.  This is a great hat.  I've made a couple for Brian -- one he gave away to a friend, and the other . . . well . . . he had a bit of a laundry mishap.  I made a replacement for him -- using a different pattern.  That one ended up stretching out way too much -- so I need to make (at least) one more Hipster for him when the weather turns.

8.  Honey Cowl.  And, really.  Hasn't everyone made this one?  So addictive -- repetitive, but not in a boring way.  I've made three.  I'll probably make more!


 9.  Ragtop.  Best fingerless glove pattern EVER.  I will just keep turning out Ragtops.  Great pattern.  Quick to knit.  Fun to wear.  Perfect, really!

10.  Ringwood Socks.  I made a pair of socks for my Mom using this pattern last year.  I was really happy with the way they turned out -- nice fit, fun to knit.  If I ever get around to making another pair of socks . . . I'll knit this pattern again!

How about YOU?  What patterns would you knit . . . over and over?


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*  My college roommate's brother played guitar for Joan Jett and the HeartBreakers!

Deep in the Mitten

Soundtrack today!


Michigan is an incredibly beautiful state.  
A lot of people are surprised by that.  Because they think . . . Detroit.  Manufacturing.  Industry.  Cars.

But no.

Michigan is sandy beaches.


Massive dunes.

Cherry Coast Trip 067

Rugged coastline.

Lake Michigan Coastline

And water.  Lots of water.


I love the sights of Michigan!

And, without any plans or intentions, I knit myself a shawl. . . that ended up reminding me of Michigan!


It's all there.  The sand.  The water.  The sky.  The whole coastline!


And I can even wear it right now!  Because this summer is a cool one.  
Some summers are just like that . . .


Especially in Michigan!


Ravelry details here.




A Little Fun -- On Friday

Tom brought home a really fine bottle of wine last week.

Photo 2

Especially fun ... was the back label.

Photo 1

Not only did it "ticulate the festles" . . . but it reminded me of one of my favorite poems.  One I memorized in elementary school.  (It lives in my memory still. . .)

The Jabberwocky
by Lewis Carroll

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
      Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
      And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
      He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
      He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.
And with that, I wish you a FRABJOUS Friday!  (Callooh!  Callay!)

Throwback Thursday: The Prophet of Weather

Many years ago, my Grandparents (now both passed on) were "downsizing" their long-time home in preparation for a move into an assisted living facility.  As is often the case with such transitions, they passed along their downsized possessions to various family members.

My Grandmother gave me her Godey Victorian Ladies china set - something I'd loved since I was a little girl.  (The teacups and saucers make me swoon.  Maybe I'll tell you about that another day.)  I also got some knick-knacks that will always remind me of the open display shelves in my Grandmother's kitchen.

I also picked through a box of oddments; things no one else was interested in having.  I chose this:


A strange little house; pretty ratty; something I don't recall ever seeing at my Grandparents' house before.  Just a piece of junk.  But, still.  I have a "thing" for houses and buildings . . . so I picked it up to add to my collection.  It ended up at our cottage -- fitting in quite well with the "rustic décor" Up North.

Turns out . . . it's a hygrometer (an instrument that measures the moisture in the air).

It predicts the weather.

And . . .it works!*

This label is still on the back:


It was sold as "The Swiss Weather Prophet" and was manufactured by the Keydel Company in Detroit.  A bit of Googling led to this ad . . . from the November 1921 issue of The Modern Woodman:

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 10.22.17 PM

Back in 1921, my Weather Prophet sold for $1.25!  (Now it fetches close to $30 on eBay.)

I'm betting, based on the dates, that the Weather Prophet I picked out of the junk box of my Grandparents' cast-offs probably actually belonged to one of my Great-Grandparents.  Maybe they thought it was a charming novelty, too!

I'm really happy that I rescued it!  With no TV or internet service up at our cottage, it's nice to have a little Weather Prophet of our own.

If the children come out of the doorway, we can look forward to a fair weather.

If both figures stay in their doorways, the weather will change.

But if the witch pops out of her door . . . watch out!  It's going to rain!

And, really . . . 


What more do you need?


* The thermometer seems to work, too.  It's just incredibly difficult to read.


Jenny the Intrepid

Every once in a while, when the air is still and the light is just right, the visibility in/on our lake Up North is pretty impressive!

Up top . . . it's like a mirror, reflecting the sky and the clouds with perfect clarity.


Down below . . . you can see all the fish and turtles and minnows and frogs.


Jenny notices!


For over two hours on Sunday afternoon, Jenny hunted. . . 


and stalked . . . 


and fished . . . 


both above the surface and below.


She didn't catch anything . . . this time . . .


But it wasn't for lack of effort!

Next time . . . says Jenny the Intrepid . . . 


Over the Threshold . . . Or Through the Bathroom Window


Every day, we cross over thresholds.  From one room to another.  From inside to outside.  From outside to inside.  Even from one life . . . to another!


Today, we're talking about Thresholds We Cross Every Day.


I have a really nice front door.  It's a lovely brick red.  Our front porch is quite inviting.  And yet . . . I rarely cross that particular threshold!

I DO, however, cross these . . . nearly every day:


1.  Once I cross over from sleeping. . . to waking . . . I cross over the threshold of my shower.


2.  And then I usually cross the threshold of my closet.  (And, yeah.  I failed at the 33-items thing.  But my closet is in much better shape than it used to be.)


3.  When I leave the house, I usually step out over the threshold between the back hall and our garage. Not the most scenic route, for sure.  But the most convenient, certainly.


4.  Once in the garage, I often hop behind the wheel of my car.


5.  And then . . . out the garage and into the driveway.

  Photo (1)

6.  On workdays, I cross into the parking ramp.


7.  And then into my office.


8.  Back home, to get to the back yard and patio, we usually use the slider (the dogs' threshold-of-choice!).


9.  Pretty much every day, I use my garden gate.


10.  And, at the end of every day, I use the threshold of our bar.  Because. . . you know.  Wine.

How about YOU?  What thresholds do you cross every day?


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Over the weekend, Tom and I headed Up North . . . to our cottage on the lake.  


It's out a ways from town; secluded, but not remote.  

Baldwin . . . is the nearest town to our lake cottage.  It's about a 7-mile drive to the nearest grocery store and 10 miles to the "town center."  Some weekends, we never get close to town -- except for the drive in and the drive out.


But this weekend . . . was Troutarama weekend in Baldwin.  Something we usually avoid!  (Except one time . . . about 10 years ago now . . . when Brian and I went to town for an errand, not realizing it WAS Troutarama weekend . . . and got all caught up in the parade.)

We go Up North to get away -- and Troutarama tends to draw a nice Lake County crowd.  After all, Troutarama is Baldwins's biggest festival weekend (2nd only to the Blessing of the Bikes in May)!  Troutarama means . . . Carnival rides downtown.  A parade on Saturday.  (Of course) a fishing derby.  The annual softball tournament.  Community spaghetti dinners.  Live entertainment.  A beer tent.

And . . . a 5K!


Tom and I decided to run the 5K this year.  (If you look closely in the photo above, you can see a little ferris wheel.  That's part of the carnival "midway" set up through the middle of town!)


Tom was completely charmed by the Troutarama 5K logo . . . 




His favorite things!  He was All In!

It was a brutal course, though.  Dirt roads.  Some nasty hills (on the dirt roads).  Not. Fun.  Neither of us ran well.

But . . . 


Good Enough . . . to "sweep" our age group -- where each of us took first!  (One of us more impressively than the other.  But still. . . )


How fun was that?

We did skip the rides, the parade, and the beer tent, though . . . and headed back to our cottage for some rest and relaxation!  (And, yeah.  A beer from the fridge.)


I call it . . . Lakearama!