Wednesday, June 29, 2016

summer heat

The dogs are caked in mud after they wallow in orchard puddles, their tongues hanging out, breath panting fast.  Regardless of how much I water, the pea vines begin to wilt; the spinach, tired of constant pruning bolts overnight and I lay them to rest.  Tomatoes burst upward and put out dozens of flower promises, independently reseeded from last year and transplanted to sections of the garden I don't mind them overrunning. The girls miss the simple routine of school mornings but the lack of structure and this week's free time is good for the imagination.
The sun fades evenings in the cantaloupe sky but I retreat to the air conditioned house with my knitting and my book in quiet moments just trying to sit still for a few moments before the demands of summer come calling again. 

Starshower on the needles and a finished pair of sweet Wee Pea! socks for a friend.  Being me, I accidentally knit the entire second sock a size too big but really, the tiny little socks come off the needles so fast it was no big thing.  This pattern is really great, written by my friend Lisa who lives a few hours away from here in one of the most lovely little towns I've ever seen, quite near Mt. St. Helens.  I test knit these for her and am now on my third pair, beginning to glimpse why people like knitting socks.  Every time I turn this itty bitty heel I look up and around for someone nearby with whom I can celebrate how amazing this magic is.  Unfortunately, there never seems to be anyone nearby that can appreciate the magic of it.  

The library due date for The Boys in the Boat is rapidly approaching so my main reading focus has been in that direction. The story of the University of Washington crew team that won the 1936 Berlin Olympics, it is full of descriptions of what makes a good rowing team, what makes a good boat.  There are many parallels to what makes a good ministry team and reminds me of the staff of Sacred Road here where we are so diverse with so many different strengths and weaknesses and yet we strive to row in sync together with the One who leads and calls us. 
I am also reading For the Children's Sake and listening to Wuthering Heights (audible! yes!) as well as The Count of Monte Cristo with the CraftLit podcast.

I am joining with Ginny's yarn along.  Hop over to her blog to see sweet pictures of her newest little one!  Congratulations Ginny!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

simple june yarn along

If you can't tell from the photo above, I'm deep into Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education.  It feels... right.  Beautiful.  Like the way all education should be. So as I'm nearing the end of Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, I picked up For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macauley and now I'm feeling appropriately jazzed about school next year.  YES!  Fist pump!  In seriousness, I think Charlotte Mason's ideas can be applied in one's family regardless of the kind of education your child experiences - even if they attend school. Because Charlotte Mason viewed the child as a whole person - not one to merely be molded and shaped into what the adult wants them to be- all of learning is approached with respect for the child's mind and inquisitiveness, and even the structure of the day and thorough but gentle material presentation reflects that.  That's all I'll say; I could write dozens of posts about how I feel about and apply Charlotte Mason's ideas in our home.  Maybe someday I will.  

I'm knitting Starshower.  It's wonderful.  I also have a Double Bump dishcloth that I pull out during our daily swimming lessons right now, one of my go-to dishcloth patterns.  Not too much crafting happening since my time is divided between so many things.

I'm zipping through The Boys in the Boat which is fascinating, especially since it take place at my alma mater, the University of Washington.  Although I don't often turn to biographies, I am enjoying this one about the UW crew team in the 1930s who went on to win the Olympic gold in Berlin.  It's quite good.  On top of all that, I'm doing my best to get to The Chestnut King to finish the 100 Cupboards series but I am hardly able to find time, so I suspect I will have to renew and then re-renew that one.  And last but not least, I'm listening to The Count of Monte Cristo on the CraftLit podcast.  

Linking with Yarn Along at Ginny's Small Things blog

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

it must be summer

It must be summer.  I blinked and the week disappeared.  I keep looking back around the corner for it but it seems to have almost vanished into thin air, leaving behind signs that it was here but for oh, such a short time.  Strawberry and raspberry jams now added to the shelves, peas now hanging from the vines, and tomatoes putting out yellow buds.  Everything is arriving so early this year; at the farm stand down the road this week, they already had local corn, apricots, and green beans and my eyes nearly started out of my head in surprise!  The kitchen is piled with produce.

On a whim, I made refrigerator pickles from Smitten Kitchen on Sunday about an hour before company arrived for dinner and I personally could have bypassed everything else I made in favor of a plateful of the pickles even with just the amount of pickling that hour provided.  Tart, crisp, dilly, salty - Perfection.  Somehow I left a few to keep overnight (I'm not sure my guests even got any, I was such a hog) and they miraculously improved beyond Perfection.  These are the easiest fridge pickles I've ever made and they will be a summer staple in my kitchen, no doubt.  I felt morally obligated to share the recipe link with you.

Sweet Millie loves her new Vertebrae cardigan and I loved the making of it.  There was no yarn chicken after I went up several needle sizes and in fact, I have a good amount of the yarn left to tuck away for a rainy day.  I wove in the ends and immediately wound my MadTosh Twist Light in the colorway Spicewood.  Oh.  My.  I love the colors in this yarn and I knew I wanted a cowl with it.  I love knitting shawls but last winter I constantly reached for my cowls on a daily basis and I want this yarn to be made into something I wear often.  Originally I planned to cast on a Starshower cowl by Hilary Smith Callis but being, well, ME, I had to browse Ravelry and look at every other possible cowl pattern that could work for the yardage I had.  Only to settle once and for all on the Starshower.  This is pretty much how I make all my decisions in life.  Tedious? Yes, but at least at the end of the process I am completely convinced of the rightness of my choice.  

Help...  ;-)

Caddie Woodlawn was delightful.  Books that take place on the frontier are always suspect for me in regards to the way that Native America will be portrayed.  I can't help it - it can make or break a book for me (e.g., Betty MacDonald's The Egg and I, which I returned to the library after just one nauseating chapter and now I have to admit that, so sadly, even Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle feels a bit tainted just by virtue of the fact that they were written by such a shamelessly racist woman. I digress) and it is especially crucial to me in children's books at this point.  Our kids have had some exposure to the complex feelings and perceptions of some frontierspeople toward Native Americans, like in Little House on the Prairie, but I am cautious about it still.  It is such a complex and multifaceted conversation I get tired just thinking about it. So I was pretty happy to discover that overall the portrayal of the Native tribe near Caddie's family was generally positive.  I loved the wild and free childhood Caddie had and the slow and willing transition toward womanhood (as defined by her day) throughout.  I will look forward to giving it to Lyddie to read eventually but I think she will most enjoy it in another year or two.

I grabbed The Boys in the Boat from the library shelf which is a totally uncharacteristic read for me - I hardly ever turn toward biography but my friend read it last summer and really appreciated it.  I am waiting for the final 100 Cupboards book, The Chestnut King by N.D. Wilson, and The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge both to come in to the library from my holds list.
I am still reading a chapter a night of A Charlotte Mason Companion but I also picked up For the Children's Sake to re-read for the first time since starting school with Lyddie.  I think I'm being a little over-ambitious but there are so many good books in my world right now and what is summer for but dreaming about all the reading time you wish you had but never will? 

Joining with Yarn Along

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

now are the days


Now are the days that we live in our swimsuits.  That we live among the raspberry brambles with scratched arms and pink juice-smeared lips, and smile at pea blossoms, and burgeoning lettuces, waiting impatiently for yellow buds of melons and cucumbers.  

Now are the days of late dinners and late bedtimes.  Of trundling into the car every afternoon to play in the nearly-unbearable heat with children of our community, of hugs and smiles and happy reunitings and love in the name of the One who sends us.  Now are the days when the readers read for hours curled up with a good book, outdoors in the shade or indoors on the floor in the cool of the house.  

Now are the days to knit with cotton, row by row in a circle for a sleeve, wondering if there will be a time of cool evenings to come soon when it might adorn a little girl or if it will need to be put aside until the fall months.  Now is the time to steal minutes here and there to read in the early afternoon, propping chin on hand while sprawled before the fan, delighting in story escape that makes the real of life more beautiful. 

There is a season for everything.  Happy June, my friends.  

Joining with Ginny for Yarn Along where we share what we're creating and reading.  Are you joining to?

Sunday, June 05, 2016

out to seek the raspberries


Left undone: the laundry
Piled in a towering heap;
Bedsheets a-crumpled careless,
Though not one is still asleep.

But O! the flowers bow with
Heavy droplets from each head.
The plants were watered, dishes scrubbed
Just before I fled

Out to seek the raspberries
Reddening on the bramble.
Followed by my little ones
Along the hedge we amble.

Each berry hidden deep 
In shadows as it grow red-ripe
Await our greedy fingers
That first search, then find, then swipe.

Small green berries gaily call,
"Come back and visit soon!
We'll surely have more waiting
For you just this afternoon!"

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

yarn along, june 1


One of my favorite authors is Kate DiCamillo, which is no secret; her books have shown up often here.  Recently I read an interview in which she said that she is committed to writing two pages every day. I realized with a lightbulb flash that instead of always wishing I was writing poetry I should buckle down and do it and so I decided that I would write one poem per day this summer, and not worry about whether it's good or bad or terrible.  I feel such a sense of fulfillment when the words trickle out onto the page and I know that I'm practicing something I love.  I am considering whether to copy any of them here this summer, and I think I probably will because they fit well with the things I write about here. 

I am plowing through Kiddy Vertebrae cardigan now that I've got the right gauge and size.  I have approximately 8 inches knit under the arms and simple stockinette on the body after the sleeves were divided for makes easy take-along or evening knitting.  I am finished knitting my barn red Memoirs mitts and have decided finally to keep them for myself because I love their length and the feminine touches of lace and buttons on the back of the hand.     

Caddie Woodlawn (Carol Ryrie Brink) is delightful and a bit reminiscent of the Little House books.  With a chapter a night, it is fast reading, of course intended for children to enjoy but as always, I think I enjoy children's literature just as much as any child ever does.  
Dandelion Fire  (N.D. Wilson) is even better than 100 Cupboards, the first of the series.  Excellently written and exciting, intense, and not for young children.  I am very impressed and plan to go on to read everything by this author, who is working on a new series now.  

I just downloaded The Green Ember for free on my Kindle and added the audiobook for $1.99 - you should too!  Thanks to Carolyn at House Full of Bookworms for her heads up on Instagram! I haven't read this book yet but I hear such good things about the book everywhere I turn that I've been meaning to pick it up for some time.  S.D. Smith writes at The Rabbit Room which is a favorite website of mine, written by a conglomeration of some of my favorite writers and artists, so I was bought in before I heard the good reviews.    

Last, but not least, I finally caught up on the podcast installments of The Count of Monte Cristo and now I'm eager for Heather at CraftLit to release another episode - which is probably a bit similar to how the original readers felt since Dumas wrote it as a serial story in a newspaper over a long period of time.  It's fun to listen in small segments knowing that. 

I am linking up with the Yarn Along hosted by Ginny.  Do you have as many books as I have going right now?  Between my personal reading, audiobooks, and the read-alouds I do with my girls, I have at least 7 books going all the time right now and that seems about perfect - something for every mood as it strikes.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

summer afternoon whispers

Strawberries fill the refrigerator and I am tucking them away in the freezer and into jam jars as quickly as I can.  The sweet fragrance drifts through the house as the jam simmers and I can't help dipping a spoon in to taste.  Crystalline jars filled with these sweet rubies begin the line on shelves in the cellar again, in front of last fall's applesauce and the last jar of summer's peaches that I have been hoarding for a special occasion.  

Bicycles are the main form of entertainment all day; at least 80% of the time outdoors (which is most of the day) is spent with little people zooming around the place on their wheels.  When not on bicycles, chicks are being carried and talked to and fed and played with.  I like to bring my crafting or my book out to the chair and sit nearby listening to their play and getting lost in my thoughts. 

Different projects suit my different moods, and as usual, the summer afternoons whisper that fine handiwork is called for, and my needlework comes out.  I am getting much better at french knots than I used to be!  When I had to rip out all of the Kiddy Vertebrae that I was knitting for Millie, I was sorely disappointed.  Somehow I was nowhere near gauge even though my gauge swatch was fine.  I think it is because I am using cotton- oh and because the lady at the yarn shop where I bought the yarn told me it was a heavy fingering when it's really a WORSTED yarn according the the Berroco page on Ravelry.  I didn't even think to really check the facts.  The sweater looked much too large when I draped it over her this weekend, so tada!  Four weeks of knitting undone in the course of three minutes.  This sweater pattern is written for many different yarn weights so I decided to try knitting gauge with different size needles but I am at a loss of what to do.  So I think I am going to try again on a different size needle and see what comes of it.  I wish I could say I was confident in going forward but when it comes to figuring out gauge and needle swapping I get a little discombobulated (and I think that's marks the first time I have ever had to write the word "discombobulated").  My Millie girl really likes this color of yarn and I really like the idea of a little cotton cardigan for summer evenings - anything warmer than that here just won't get worn until fall.  Meanwhile I put it aside until I had the energy to figure out all of the above and realized that I hadn't finished my red Memoirs mitts.  I have only the thumb on the second mitt and then I get to hunt down some lace and buttons for finishing touches.  I love how long they are and although I am currently just looking forward to the warm summer ahead, I do cherish the thought of wearing them in the late fall when it gets chilly again. 

As for books, life under communist rule, fantastic travel to different worlds, and childhood mischief are all on the menu this week.  The books on my nightstand couldn't be more different from one another and I like the variety.  The Pastor's Wife by Sabina Wurmbrand (which I just finished) was really interesting and challenging, like most books written about those enduring persecution for their faith.  Of course I have known that life under Communist rule is very difficult but I have a clearer picture of what it was like in the U.S.S.R for believers in Christ (and others).  I thought Wurmbrand wrote with a lot of discernment about why some people chose to suffer in prisons for their faith while others maintained their position in government-run churches even while participating in the Underground Church in Romania and infiltrating the government.  I also came away with a clearer picture of why so many would capitulate and become informers to the government at that time.  It made me think of stories I have heard about China and the official churches compared to the house churches there. 

Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson:  Not for young children, but a really good book series for your older readers this summer if they haven't already read the 100 Cupboards series!  I have only just begun Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink and I can tell I am going to enjoy it too; for audiobooks, mainly The Count of Monte Cristo which is moving into the really fun part (on the CraftLit podcast).

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.  Would you leave me a note in the comment section here so I can click easily over to see what your thoughts are today?  I hope your weather is lovely and that you are healthy and able to enjoy what sunshine may come your way!