Friday, March 31, 2017

Across America Part IV

Two weeks ago (before the scanner broke), we were just arriving at our primary destination - Yellowstone National Park.
My photos probably look a lot like those of thousands of other families (who may have all been visiting at the same time we were).

We saw thousands of acres of fire damage, but fire is necessary for rejuvenation, especially after decades of suppression.

The West Thumb Geyser basin has hundreds of hot springs, mud pots, and hydrothermal features.

Ryan continued to point out interesting features, like stumps on the shore of Yellowstone Lake. He wanted reprints
of all the stumps he had pointed out on the trip and made his own photo album that he called "Stumps of the West".

It even includes this rare and wondrous petrified wood stump at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Yellowstone Lake is huge, beautiful, and also where we learned about the Yellowstone Caldera.

There were times when the crowds got be a bit too much for all of us, so it was nice that the park also afforded plenty
 of places to pull over and do some quiet fishing. Some of us knit in between our duties as the official fish photographer.

The Grand View of Lower Falls was exactly that.

And of course we had to see Old Faithful. I was proud that after a ranger had explained some of the geology of the park
 to us at Yellowstone Lake, my kids understood that the eruption of Old Faithful was not caused by a ranger
 pushing a button and could explain this to the woman sitting next to us. 

We hiked and saw elk in velvet.

And buffalo up close. I took this photo from inside the RV because of this:

Yellowstone is beautiful and I'm glad we went, yet much of what I remember is crowds and traffic jams. We were there in early July, so crowds were to be expected. We didn't expect traffic jams, but we spent several hours sitting still in traffic every day of the four that we were there. Much of this was due to road construction and maintenance, and traffic also came to a complete standstill every time wildlife was sighted. All of this is understandable (and we were part of the crowds!), but I think I would not try to view Yelllowstone in a vehicle if I were to visit again. I would go in the fall and do more hiking.

One of my favorite times during our visit was when we got up really early on our last day and stopped by Norris Geyser Basin
 around sunrise. It was quiet, lovely, and we were the only one around besides the birds. Ah, solitude and beautiful views.

Next week: A rodeo and the race home.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hello, April

The Think Write Thursday topic for today is (no surprise here) to write a post called, "Hello, April." 

Piles of snow recede.
While daffodils are budding
The deer help themselves

April, please, no fools.
Just eggs and lovely flowers.
Spring can stay a while.

This next haiku isn't specific to April, but it did spring fully-formed into my mind when I was checking the calendar.

Time flies far too fast
I realized with alarm
I'm sixty in June.


Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Number Ten

I finally finished my most recent Hitchhiker, and even though I always say this, it's one of my favorites so far. We've had rain
 all week and it's far too dark to take any decent pictures, but I gave it a try during the six minutes it wasn't raining.

Hedgehog Fibers calls the colorway Eel, but all the eels that Justin has caught are black and slimy. 
It reminds me more of labradorite than eels.

I got the bright idea to attach labradorite beads to each end, but I don't love them. 
They only show the colorful irridescence with just the right light at the right angle, so I may be removing them soon. 

It's soft, has wonderful drape, and has kept me nice and warm in this chilly and damp weather. 
Who knows, maybe my next FO will be something besides a Hitchhiker!

Ravelry details here.

I didn't write this post specifically with Kat's new Unraveled Wednesday in mind, but since it is about knitting (and I did some unraveling with this project) I'm going to link up with her.

Kat says, "I think this is something we all do rather well – in both knitting and reading. And, while unraveling a book might be less painless than unraveling your knitting – it is necessary occasionally.
I hope you will join me on Wednesdays and unravel the stories you are reading and share your crafting inspiration – knitting, crochet, spinning, sewing, quilting, weaving, drawing, etc." 
So I would encourage you to head over to Kat's for some of her stunning stitching and to join in on Unraveled Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ready, Set, Start

The vernal equinox marked the first day of spring a week ago, but for me spring really begins when I start seeds for the garden.
 I tried to pick thirty minutes today when it wasn't pouring to get those seeds planted.

I gathered all my stuff, filled the cups with seed starting mix, and watered them well. Then I started planting. If you look closely below,
you can see little blue Brussels sprouts seeds in the cups on the left and tiny green tomato seeds in the cups on the right.

Next, I used my special seed-pushing tool (obtainable from almost any Chinese restaurant) to push the seeds into the seed starting mix,

and misted them all well to make sure the surface and seeds would be moistened. Even though it was raining lightly, 
it seemed that me, my phone, and the seed packets were the only things getting wet.

I covered the pots with plastic wrap because nobody has yet gifted me with a greenhouse and I want the seeds
 to stay warm and moist in order to germinate.

Finally, I placed the trays under fluorescent lights on my seed-starting shelves in the basement, and gently urged the seeds to get going,

This is actually one of my favorite parts of gardening, and with any luck, I'll see some tiny plants emerging in the next 4 - 14 days!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Patience for Pink

I love seeing all of Kym's garden photos, and I think the photos of her blooming clematis are especially beautiful. So it's no surprise that after a weekend filled with ups and downs, I had to get these for myself.

It's supposed to rain here all week. While this makes for a lot of dreariness, it also makes great weather for newly-planted roots to get established.

I know they don't look like anything now, but hopefully someday I'll have beautiful cascades of pink blossoms, just like the photos I'm sure!

Digging in the dirt also gave me a chance to take a good look at some of the new growth on my existing clematis vines.

I also admired my sprouting bleeding hearts (my absolute favorites) and was excited to have a chance to get my hands dirty.

It's really starting to look and feel like spring here!

Friday, March 24, 2017

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming ...

... Because the scanner is broken so I can't scan the photos for my regularly scheduled Across America travelogue. Hopefully I'll figure something out for next week, but in the mean time, here are some random bits of beauty, blooming, delight, and wonderfulness that I've come across recently.

Yellow blooming trees against a blue sky.

Fuzzy magnolia buds against a blue sky.

Grape hyacinths responding to increasing warmth and sunlight.

Interesting shadows on the patio and driveway.

I found out that authors' names matter when I accidentally got this book from the library instead of the one Kat recommended.

I disliked this cover so much along with the first chapter that I made a second trip back to the library and got the good right one.

Kat is right; The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan is magical (and now I want an owl topiary).

And finally perfecting a crispy, cheesy crust on baked macaroni and cheese was one of my favorite things this week.

Hope your week was a good one and your weekend is even better!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Think Write Thursday - The View From Here

The Think Write Thursday topic for today is to look out a window you don't normally look out of and tell us what you see.

This is one of the windows in Ryan's room. I rarely go in his room since he moved to Colorado; I've turned the radiator off and keep the door closed in our ongoing efforts to save on heating costs in this drafty old house. 

The first things I notice are that the brown blinds really clash with the bright blue walls, but Ryan insisted on both of them when I painted his room about 12 years ago. I made the valances and I can also see that they really need to be washed. 

This is what the view used to look like after Ryan saw A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe as John Nash writing proofs on his windows at Princeton. He said it helped him to better see solutions. Alas, the illumination hasn't worked so well for me. 

When I open the blinds, I can see that this really is a nice view. There is the roof I occasionally climb out on to clean the gutters and my neighbor's lovely brick house. 

I wonder what happened to the shutters on my neighbor's second story windows? They are probably in his garage and he'll get them out in a few weeks to paint them. I also notice that they even have curtains in their attic window! 

My favorite part of the view from this window is our old oak tree. I usually have a much lower viewpoint when I'm on the patio enjoying its shade or filling the bird feeder, but I appreciate this second story view to get a better look at its massive branches, gnarls, knots, and lichens. There have been times when having this huge tree so close to the house has been a concern (during Hurricane Sandy), but I've always viewed it as more of a guardian than a threat. 

Thanks to Carole and Kat for helping me take a look at some things I pass right by and for providing me with a fresh perspective!


Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Attitude Adjustment

Does this slightly disgusting thing look like it could be used to adjust attitudes? It did for me.

I had plans and a schedule yesterday. Everyone in the borough has to have their water meter replaced, so I made my appointment and knit while I waited for the plumber. He arrived an hour late and replaced the meter, but when he turned the water back on there was a fountain from the toilet and several inches of water on the floor in a matter of seconds. I grabbed towels to mop it up, turned off the water in the bathroom, and surveyed the situation. The plumber came up from the basement when he heard me yelling. He took a look and told me the part I needed to replace, assured me it was an easy 10 minute job, and I wouldn't have any problems. I'm always skeptical when someone says that, but I had to give it a try and headed for Lowe's.

While standing in the plumbing aisle looking for my needed part, I was surprised to see a friend who was also looking for toilet parts. We laughed, helped each other find what we needed, and I asked her if she was interested in meeting for lunch. She lost her husband in January, and I've been meaning to call her, but the road to hell is paved with many of my good intentions. We agreed to meet in a couple of hours and both went home to work on our repairs.

My repair was successful (with the help of several you tube videos), but lunch was even better. As my friend shared how her life had changed in so many ways she couldn't even anticipate, the inhumanity and callousness of lawyers, civil servants, and banks that she has had to deal with, she also shared that we had stumbled upon each other at just the right time. She was ready to go sit and cry in her car in Lowe's parking lot because she hadn't been able to get a plumber to fix her leaking toilet. I told her that she had come along at just the right time for me. I had big plans to finish my Hitchhiker, take some photos, write a post, and luxuriate in my FO, and I was angered beyond reason by the bathroom flood that waylaid my plans and schedule. She helped me put things in perspective and realize that my issues were simply minor molehill inconveniences that had been dealt with, not really the mountainous problems I had made them into.

So, here's my Hitchhiker, pretty much where I flung it down when the flood erupted. It's 6 rows and a cast-off away from completion, but I'm glad I learned a lesson today instead of checking it off my list. It will be finished soon enough, and I hope I'm reminded of the difference between minor inconveniences and real problems when I wear it.

Also, a big thank you to Kat for listening to me vent and her wonderful suggestions for this post. THANK YOU!