Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Yarn Along, travel edition

The twisted seed stitch pattern of my Shalom cardigan is very pretty but is time-consuming.  It takes me so long to do one row. I also hadn't figured on the fact that the stitch pattern in the yoke may take up a lot of yarn in comparison to the stockinette sweater I repurposed the yarn from, but considering the original sweater had a collar, sleeves, and pockets and this project is cap-sleeved and sweeps away from the midline, I think I should have plenty.

Right after taking this picture,  I read the last two chapters of Little House on the Prairie. Every time Almanzo made an appearance my heart went pitter pat in such a silly way! Today was our eighth wedding anniversary,  and reading about sweet young beginnings of love at this time made me remember so clearly the first days and months of our love. 
In a similar yet unrelated vein,  every time a shawl or wrap was mentioned in the book, my knitter's imagination ran zigzagging away from me wondering about the style, color, and origin of their garments. As a living history reeanctor in my younger years, I have a love affair with understanding civilian lifestyles,  woman's daily fashions, etc, of times past. Aw, knitting. You provide such a fulfilling link from my present mind to the women who have come before.

Next up, These Happy Golden Years! I am joining up with Ginny but typing on my phone since we are out of town right now, so providing an actual link may or may not happen.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Good Yes

He fell onto the couch Monday night, nine o'clock, the kids finally all quiet in their beds, looked at her with a smile and said, "So where you want to go tomorrow?"  
The look on her face betrayed her confusion.  "You mean camping?  I thought we agreed last week that we weren't going to try to go."  
"We should go.  Can we go?"
She hemmed and hawed, intimidated by the sheer amount of work it would take to pack and load five people, three of whom were under age five, into a car with food and gear, and to a campsite by the next day.

She couldn't outright refuse, in fact, the look in his eyes told her she was going to say yes because she hates to snuff that hope and excitement, the boyish joy of outdoors still living in him. 
So she said yes. 

Sometimes the hard Yes is the best choice you can make.  She keeps seeing all over other women who are working hard to say "No," but her heart is being pulled toward more "Yes." Yes, yes, yes.  This Yes, she knew, would mean a flurry of stress and unexpected work but she knew she wouldn't regret it.

They were in the car right after lunch next day, packed to the brim with food, stove, tent, clothes.  She was determined to pack as light as she could but to bring the things that would make this Yes a good one.  That camp kitchen, the one that pops up in under five minutes and provides a counter-space and a place for the stove... that is a worthwhile space-taker.  Those extra outfits she longed to bring for clean clothes changes?  Left behind.  She determined to believe that really, God really did make dirt and dirt don't hurt. 

The baby wore dirt the whole three days and the grease in her hair built up until she thought maybe she should just rub the griddle on her own head before cooking up those pancakes.  She focused her thoughts on helping him devise a pancake flipper instead and the dirt and the grease faded as they smiled at each other and remembered again what made them friends in the first place.

She turned to see the early morning sun glint off that little girl's golden hair, nearly gasping at the beauty of the simple smile meeting hers. At the quail muttering in the empty campsite nearby, the rabbits bounding through the brush only feet away. Him showing his children the tracks of a raccoon come to water. The woodpecker clicking into the tree overhead.  No profound thoughts, no insights.  Just a quiet watching.  This, she thought, this maybe, is what it means to "treasure up all these things and ponder them in her heart."

His mercies are new every morning.  Stumbling out of the tent when the clock read three in the morning, to find a bush with a small child - that requires mercy.  Asking forgiveness when her sharp tongue lashes, overwhelmed by the dirt or the need - another mercy required. Hearing the racket of no less than six raccoons scrabbling around our campsite looking for food scraps, seeing the wonder in the eyes of a child at their charming faces - that is mercy.  The coo of the mourning dove in the soft glow of morning light; the flop of bass jumping clean out of the water; reading "Goodnight Moon" on a camp chair in the quiet evening - new mercies.  Roasting marshmallows over the campstove since a burn ban is on and seeing the chocolate smeared on sticky smiles.  His creative tales whispered quiet in the tent to eager ears and that little girl's excited contributions when daddy asks for help with ideas for how to solve the conflict - a full heart. 

This Yes was a good yes.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014


My car went to the shop today and got a diagnosis of about $1000 repair + new front tires needed.  That was a big blow as we were hoping to have a tiny bit extra this month for gas for a few simple travels to visit family and friends.  Now we not only won't have the money or a vehicle for much traveling but also not enough money to even repair the car in the first place. I am feeling so frustrated that every single time we start to get a little (and I mean, a little) savings it is blown away by some car emergency, medical emergency, or major home repair.  It doesn't seem like we should be struggling this much when I do the math for the budget each month and yet, we always are.  I usually take this kind of news in stride anymore since it happens really regularly to us (it does seem like there is a component to it that is spiritual combat on the mission field) but this time I'm just tired at the end of a very long summer and I was so looking forward to making some special family memories away from the ever-present distractions of home where all my work continues to take place no matter how hard I try to rest.  I know we can make family memories anywhere but I'm running low on energy and ideas for stuff to do around here that is relaxing and fun.

So I thought I'd just be a little honest with my very real struggle with discouragement tonight. It will all come out fine and it might just be awhile before we have good working cars again but it will work out somehow.

 Yesterday the girls and I picked at least 15 pounds of blueberries at the u-pick farm nearby.  Then on the way home I swung into a new produce stand and found a box of apricots for only $7 because they were so on the verge of being overripe.  The blueberries went into the fridge once we got home and I got busy putting away those apricots with all my might.  I ended up with 6 pints of apricot lavender jam, 1 quart bag of dried apricot halves, an apricot crisp, and then today the last few went into a batch of blueberry apricot basil jam. Yum!  I also canned 3 pints of regular blueberry jam, froze at least 15 pints of berries and have some left over for fresh eating.

 I really enjoyed working with Lyddie on the jam together while the other girls napped.  She. talks. so. much.  So I was trying really hard to just enjoy it but my ears get tired and I run out of answers.  And this from a woman who talks alot!  I am amazed at the difference in personality with each child and love spending time with Millie and Rosie too, and have been making an effort to give them each just at least a few minutes of mommy-only time each day.  I never regret those five or fifteen minutes we steal alone.

Instead of working on a "to-do" list for the next day each evening, I've been working on a "got-done" list.  It is really encouraging and inspires me to look back over all I've done instead of thinking about all the things I probably won't get to for the next day.  Today the list included all the food preservation, making cornbread and baked potatoes for dinner, planting a bush I picked up on sale a few days ago, pulling weeds digging overgrown sod out of the flowerbed, taking care of the chickens and dogs, picking up the house, laundry, turkey and chicken pulled out to thaw for the next few meals, mountains of dishes, working compost into part of a garden bed, and shaving my legs (! what a treat!).  These are the good things from today that I will jot into my gratitude journal and try to keep my eyes up to the Lord.

I asked Jesse in the car this morning if he had his knife.  He looked at me a little confused and said he did, so I told him to take the longer way home and pull over by one of the piles of wild sunflowers growing along the irrigation ditches.  I flew out of the car, hacked off several big stems of sunflowers and dashed back in.  I've been dying to pick some for days but yesterday when I tried, I realized I needed a knife or scissors to cut through the tough stem.  They are sitting on the table lighting up the room whenever I walk in.  I look forward to reading my Bible next to them early tomorrow morning.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

yarn along {and an ode to pickles}

 Last week I was working on a Shalom for myself but ended up getting about an inch in and had an extra stitch on my needles.  Normally I'd just k2tog and move on but I am afraid it will mess up the pretty yoke and since I'm not that far into it, ripping it out and starting over seems to be the simplest decision.  

Just before I discovered the error, I realized I really wanted to knit up a soaker or two for my Rosie-pie since we're down to two useable diaper covers and that means washing diapers every other day or using disposables more than I like to, so I frogged the Much-Too-Big-Large Vanilla soaker I had almost finished a couple months ago and went down to a size medium which is looking way more reasonable but... I haven't knit in a few days.  Because of this:

and this:

 and even this:
 The summer months end up with constant busy-ness.  I am surrounded with access to good cheap produce right now and I know in a few months the ground will be frozen and nothing will grow and we will be longing for a taste of summer again, so I'm trying to squeeze in as much preserving as I can.  It has been hot-hot-hot again here with temps usually in the 100s and not cooling down much at night.  This afternoon I picked up a few new perennials at the farm supply stores and when I trekked outside to plant them, I glanced at the hills and noticed... I couldn't see the hills.  I initially thought it must be smoke from a wildfire since they are rampant through the state right now and the smoke tends to drift our way and hover.  The air was so still and heavy, and more humid than usual.  I went back to digging and felt a soft breeze tug at my hair and it was like it was whispering "Watch this," and I heeded the notice and glanced up, knowing instantaneously that it wasn't smoke blocking the view of the hills, it was dust.  Within seconds the wind was raging and howling through the elms and spruce and dust was stinging my eyes.  Lyddie had just wandered outside and concern flashed across her face; we have had hot but sunny and quiet afternoons for days now and this was new.  We ran out to the pool and started gathering armfuls of pool toys to toss into the root cellar.  She trailed me out to the chicken coop where the wind had blown their window entrance shut, and then we dashed inside.  While the wind tore through the valley, we loaded into the car and went by the library to return books and chat with the librarian as we browsed.  Once home, the rain hit.  Rosie and I walked out and she had such a look of wonder on her face.  I can't remember the last time it poured for awhile and she clearly can't either.  "Girls!" I called, "It's raining!"  "RAIN!" they shrieked and squealed and tumbled outside to the patio to see.  

Toto, we're not in Seattle anymore. 

The storm brought the coolest evening air we've had in a while and it was so pleasant tonight to go out to the garden and pull some weeks and pick some beans and tomatoes without sweat soaking through my clothes.

I screwed up the courage to try a lacto-fermented cucumber pickle.  I have been reading about the process and the benefits of fermented foods for, oh, several years now, and when the bags of cucumbers sat in the fridge and I had only a short window of time to pickle them and not enough hours or energy to do a water bath, I decided to take the plunge instead of the vinegar based refrigerator pickle.  Google brought me to this excellent recipe/article, which I realized after reading was by one of my favorite bloggers which clinched it.  They bubbled away on the counter for a few days and are now ready for cold storage.  Oh. my. goodness.  They are delicious; as I was writing I thought "It's time to go TASTE ONE!" They are incredible- sour, salty, dilly.  They're a little fizzy from the lactic acid fermentation (fizzy sounds weird, but it's really incredible). I am sold.  Hm... what else can I try?  I think another batch of cucumbers may be in my near future.  They took all of 20 minutes for four quarts start to finish.

I am reading The Long Winter and spend an embarrassing amount of my mental energy mulling over the Ingalls family and their adventures lately.  Jesse thinks it's embarrassing too, I think, since his eyes glaze over a little when I start processing my thoughts yet again.  I'm also still listening to North and South via CraftLit.

Next week you'll get to see a finished soaker and a real picture of a Shalom, I hope!  Joining up with Ginny and the Yarn Along community again this week.

Did you see the supermoon this week?  

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Yarn Along

 I am so pleased with the darling buttons I found for the little Clementine sweater I've been knitting for a friend's baby!  The only step left is to send it on for a sweet baby girl who is due soon!  I also knit up a quick spa cloth for a friend's birthday and thought it was a sweet pattern and such instant gratification - two hours and done!   Today I cast on a Shalom cardigan for myself; one of my goals last year was to make myself a sweater and I just didn't get to it because the quantity and expense of the yarn needed was too much.  But last winter I deconstructed a cardigan I'd had since, oh, high school, a pretty cherry red yarn in a sweater that no longer looked flattering or pretty on me, and I tucked all that bulky yarn away with the Shalom in mind when I was ready. I am following modifications to make just a little bigger than the original pattern and hope it works out.  I should have it done and ready for this fall when the weather finally turns cool - not that that seems anywhere near; we spent all day in our new little pool today because it just so hot out and even our day trip up on Mt. Rainier was really warm earlier this week. 

Just still reading On the Shores of Silver Lake and picked up Wendell Berry's poetry this week to peruse here and there.  I'm linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along again this week and hope you will too!