1. Week #1: What We Did With Our CSA Share

    June 4, 2014 by Carol

    A photograph of a salad with cucumbers

    I do grow some of the vegetables my family eats, but the garden has been hard for me to maintain for the past several years, so this year we downsized the the vegetable garden and signed up for a CSA half-share with Tantre Farm in Chelsea, Michigan.  (Read more about community supported agriculture here.)

    Tantre is well-regarded locally, but I didn’t fall under their spell until my daughter’s preschool took a field trip to the farm.  It is a magical place — welcoming, hardworking, and kid-friendly.

    This is not my first CSA, but it is my first since having kids.  We decided to hedge our bets and split a share with some good friends of ours.  Since there’s only two of them — and they’re not vegetarian — they were only too happy to go halfsies.

    Here’s my record of what we received and what we did with our Wednesday box of mystery!  All amounts were halved unless otherwise noted.

    Week One

    Arugula, Asparagus, Sorrel, Green Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Radish, Rapini, Sauerkraut, Spicy Salad Mix, Spinach

    Arugula: We received both Astro and Sylvetta (aka wild rocket).  We used some of it in a dinner salad on Saturday and the rest went into pasta sauce on Monday night.  I’m not completely sure which type went into which dish.  I had figured out which was which (Sylvetta is more deeply lobed and pungent than Astro), but I wasn’t involved with Saturday’s meal prep and Monday’s meal happened really fast.

    Asparagus: We didn’t get a lot of this — after splitting, I think it was 4 big stalks — but we added to them a few spears from our own asparagus bed and they were roasted with oil and salt for Saturday night’s meal.

    Sorrel: I haven’t used it yet!  I have some in my own garden (a VERY winter hardy vegetable and yet it took a beating this past winter) and want to make Sorrel soup with it.

    Green Onions: First of all, they’re huge.  Easily twice as thick and twice as long as the ones you buy at the grocery store.  I forgot to use them in my pasta sauce so they’re still in the fridge.  My mother gave me the idea last night to plant them so I might do that!  Green onions are perennial and I have some growing in my garden already.

    Parsnips: There were about 4 or so small ones and I gave them all to my friend because Matt does not like the flavor of parsnips.

    Potatoes: We each got a quart of German Butterball and I still have mine (potatoes keep well!).  Maybe we’ll make oven fries or hashbrowns with them tonight because we’re having eggs and oatmeal (aka BFD, breakfast for dinner).

    Radishes: We got about 8-10 French Breakfast radishes after splitting. My five-year-old and I ate these with lunch on Saturday.  Yes, I am not kidding even a little bit about that.  Yes, I was also surprised.  We had them with dipping dishes of oil and salt, which I learned from my soon-to-be sister in law, who swears to me that radishes are just vehicles for salt.

    Rapini: Also known as broccoli raab, this one was tricky.  I was all for cooking it, but my weekend chefs decided to put it raw into a salad.  The salad disappeared so no harm done, but I kind of hope we get more so I can try it my way.

    Sauerkraut: We got a half jar of pickled watermelon radish made by the Brinery a very new local business that is in partnership with Tantre Farm.  It is zippy and yummy.  Matt kept putting it on hot dogs this past week (we had a lot leftover from a cub scout picnic) and I ate it as a side dish with my lunches.  We’re about halfway through our half jar.  It will get more tangy as time goes on.

    Spicy Salad Mix: This went so fast.  It was used for some sandwiches, etc, but ultimately ended up in Saturday night’s big salad.

    Spinach: It was used on sandwiches, but I think I still have most of the spinach!  Of course, last week I only just finished off the bag of spinach I received three weeks before at our membership meeting.  I couldn’t believe how long it kept — talk about fresh!  If we get more spinach this week, I might cook it with some bacon to make greens in the style that my mother-in-law’s family makes.  That or it goes into a salad.

    That’s week 1.  In less than an hour, I am going to pick up our Week 2 box.

    In other local food news, a friend gave me a dozen eggs from her suburban chickens yesterday (hence the dinner we’re planning) and my son is taking great pleasure in picking greens from the deck planter to put on his daily lunch sandwich.  I planted mesclun seeds a month ago on a whim because it was too cold to put in the flowers yet.  Then the squirrels or chipmunks dug around so it’s rather uneven, but as I like to tell people when they express nervousness about gardening: the plants WANT to grow!  And grow they did.

    It sounds like we eat a lot of sandwiches, doesn’t it?  Not really, except maybe the boy, who is picky.


  2. My Inner Child Wants Everything to Be Rainbow-Colored: Afghan Edition

    May 21, 2014 by Carol

    Raise your hand if you remember me starting a scrap project to use up the yarn left over from the scrap blanket I made for my daughter when she was born.

    Yes, I am a serial scrap blanket maker.  I pull out a pile of yarn (or fabric or cut up t-shirts… my desires to both thrift and make things feed each other), decide I am going to use it all up on a scrap project, choose a project, start said project, run out of something and go buy more materials, finish said project, and then — and only then — realize that I have more materials left than when I started.  Doh!

    First there was Squeaky, the quilterly knitted blanket I made for my daughter (ostensibly to use up random balls of Wool-Ease) while I waited for her to spring, fully formed, from my womb.  Which, she pretty much did if you’ve ever heard THAT story.  Oh and I ended up buying a lot of yarn to make the colors in the blanket work.  Wool-Ease has a weird palette.

    About six exhausting months later, I lit upon the idea to crochet an afghan to use up Squeaky’s leftovers.  I had spied a pattern that was basically a giant granny square, but looked like an Around the World quilt.  I’m not much of a hooker, but I can handle a granny square.  So I lined up my leftover Wool-Ease and soon realized I had a rainbow palette.  Well, almost.  I just had to buy a bit more yarn.  [Cue scary music.]

    Four and a half years later, the rainbow afghan of my dreams and nightmares is finished.

    Photo of a crocheted afghan in rainbow stripes

     

    What else do I have to say about this project?  I didn’t work on it constantly.  In fact, years passed sometimes between putting hook to wool.  It was really fun at first because crochet is FAST.

    Also, I am never actually sad to buy more yarn, which this project amusingly and repeatedly required to be completed to my spec of 4 repeats.  It has 13 different colors, 12 Wool-Ease, 1 Plymouth Encore (light blue) because Lion discontinued the delft colorway.  (Why do companies get rid of good, basic, timeless colors like baby blue?  It’s Lion’s loss ultimately because now I have seen the Plymouth Yarns website and know what an amazing palette their wool-acrylic blend Encore has.)

    About 2/3 of the way through this project, the rows became very long, hours to finish just one, and it was a slog.  I just wanted to be done.  I could have stopped at any time, but stubborn ol’ me wanted to stick to The Plan.

    So I did.  And now the rainbow afghan lives on my couch and gets fought over — when we’re not all four crammed together with it draped over us.


  3. When Your Space Heater Dies in May, Knit Up Some Fingerless Mitts

    May 20, 2014 by Carol

    Feels a little bit like I’m living in a Dickens novel, but I am stubborn enough to wait until fall when space heaters are available again at the corner hardware store.

    Photo of a fingerless mitt.

    Meanwhile, in this cold spring, after working for an hour or two in my basement office, my hands ache from the cold.

    It probably goes without saying, but taciturn I am not: it is really hard to take pictures of your own hands when one is using a cell phone.  Do I have a fancy camera that attaches to a tripod and has a timer?  Yes.  It is a DSLR hand-me-down (oh, but we paid for it) from my fancy brother.  I wish I knew how to use it better.  I also wish there were 25 hours in the day, but my tiny tyrant is home in an hour and I need to get this posted, pronto.

    Photo of a fingerless mitt.

    I take breaks from grousing to admire my lovely Pageturner Mitts knit out of Noro Silk Garden.  The yarn was a random lone skein I had and lone skeins, especially those that are beautiful, are so hard to do something with.  Maybe that’s just me.  Now I want to make myself a pair of mitts for every day of the week.  The pattern is the classic and elegant, yet simple Pageturner Mitts by Sarah Jo Burch.  I cast on 40 stitches instead of 30 because I wanted some extra coverage.  I knit each block of garter 6.5″ before sewing up, which gives a nice amount of negative ease.

    Pageturner Mitts would make a great quick gift if you use a beautiful yarn, like Noro Silk Garden, or something tonal or handpainted.

    I finished these on Mother’s Day weekend and haven’t even worn them out of the house, but they are getting noticed.  My five-year-old thinks they’re the bees knees and keeps stealing them so I am making her a pair.  She is normally into pink, as our species demands of these young females, and when I pulled out pink yarn for her she said, “No, I want orange.”  Okay darling, I will make you orange ones.  And I am.

    Matt laughed to see me wandering the house in May, wearing wooly-silky fingerless mitts and all I have to say to that is: polar vortex.  It is still happening, my friends, even if it is only in my mind.  It may not be snowing, but damn this weather continues to be weird.

     


  4. Dressing Up the Holidays

    March 3, 2014 by Carol

    Close-up of Abby's stocking

    My brother, Noah, was the catalyst for the other holiday gift knitting experience.

    Last summer Noah asked me if I could secretly knit a pair of Christmas stockings for himself and his fiancée, Abby.  He likes the set of handknit colorwork stockings I made for my house.

    My family's handknit Christmas stockings

     

    These stockings are knit from Nancy Bush‘s pattern, Christmas in Tallinn, published several places, but the only souce that matters is her excellent book Knitting on the Road.  I made the first one, the red one, in 2005 for my infant son; Matt’s green stocking was made in 2006; my blue one was made in 2007; and then I had a year reprieve until our daughter came along in 2009.  She got a purple stocking.  I substituted the yarn Bush’s pattern calls for, Dalegarn Tiur, for Dalegarn Heilo simply because I liked the Heilo palette better.  (This was, by the way, the first time I was bit in the ass by yarn substitution.  Tiur is 109 yards.  Heilo is 126 yards.)

    E's Christmas stocking

    Noah left me in full creative control, so I of course immediate sought out ways to make this project as difficult as possible.  First, I had to design my own.  Second, if one design was fun, then two new designs were twice as fun!  (Right?!)  Third, the yarn (O!  The yarn!).

    Abby's Christmas stocking, designed by me

    I really enjoyed picking out colorwork patterns for these designs.  I found everything I wanted, and pretty quickly, in Sheila McGregor’s Traditional Scandinavian Knitting.  For the top of Abby’s stocking (green), I chose a boy-and-girl motif; for Noah’s stocking (orange), I chose reindeer.  The body patterns on each of their stockings come from the same 19th-century sweater: one was the pattern on the back and the other was the pattern on the front.

    Noah's Christmas stocking

    Can you imagine knitting that sweater?  Maybe…

    There was some math to work out to make these motifs go together, resulting in Noah’s stocking being noticeably larger.  Noah has no problem with this.

    As for the yarn, Cascade 220 Superwash Sport, it wasn’t my favorite.  Noah and I chose it based on wide color palette and affordable price, but it has just about put me off superwash yarn for the rest of my life.  It did not hold up well to repeated ripping and reknitting, coming un-plied and… for lack of a better descriptor, flacid.

    Of course then my friend pointed out that many of the high-end end yarns, like Mashtosh and Tanis and Plucky Knitter, are superwash now so never say die.


  5. Okay, So the Gift Knitting Wasn’t All Roses

    January 20, 2014 by Carol

    socks of brotherly love

    I didn’t tell you the entire story of my holiday gift knitting in the last post.

    My parents and siblings decided this year to scrap the round robin of individual gifts in favor of the secret santa system — which wasn’t even secret, not that any of us heathens cared.  So you can imagine my relief when evil-me went from trying to talk good-me into making a whole bunch of stuff — starting, oh, mid-November — to sane-me realizing I could still crank out a gift knit because I only had to make ONE.

    I got my brother’s name.  Noah is awesome, fashionable, self-reflective, sensitive.  In other words: a great recipient of handknits.

    Noah!

    I started off making Noah Purl Soho’s Shawl Collar Cowl in Malabrigo Chunky — Lettuce on the outside, Natural (white) on the inside.  The yarn came from my stash, the project was working up quickly.  At Thanksgiving, I asked Noah’s fiancée Abby what kind of handknit he would like and she said “a cowl” and told me how he tried to buy one on Etsy and it was too long and girlish.  I felt like a champ!  The Shawl Collar Cowl is so chic and manly and I was going to solve Noah’s problem.  And he was going to look smashing in that lettuce green, if I do say so.

    my beautiful failure

    How does the saying go?  If it’s too good to be true… Well, perfection was far from achieved: I ran out of yarn.  Although I had researched what yarn would be a good substitute and looked up the needle size, I never checked how much yarn I needed.  Why, I cannot say.  This is not my first time at the rodeo.  (This is not the first time I have made this mistake, either, arg!)

    Worse yet, this college town has gone, in five years, from having three yarn stores to having half a yarn store.  The remaining half store is downtown, where no one who doesn’t work downtown wants to go.  But go I went — and on the Saturday before Christmas no less.  I knew it was a long shot, that I might have to start over in a new color rather than just alternate between dye lots, but at least this place specializes in Malabrigo.  I still had hope that this project would be saved.

    (There’s that foreshadowing of doom again, eh?)

    I do believe I gasped out loud when I walked in to this very small shop.  Admittedly I had not been there in a year or more and I knew the owner had been scaling back the yarn portion of her business (she also sells clothing and jewelry). Eyes as wide as saucers, I gaped like a fish for a moment before finally choking out the question, “Where’s all the yarn?” to the owner.  The shelves and walls set aside for yarn were nearly empty — altogether there was only an armful of yarn in that shop.  The needle wall was almost empty.  My stomach sank to the floor as I realized: I have more yarn in my house than this shop now carries.

    You might be tempted to conclude that there was a run on her small stock as people grabbed all the yarntastic gifts, but no.  The owner patiently explained that Malabrigo, the small cooperative, cannot keep up with the demand of her customers, so people are putting themselves on a waitlist and when it comes in, she calls.  A month later and I am still aghast at this… solution?  I am sure I don’t know all of what is going on in her store, but isn’t this the kind of thing that a dozen online businesses are doing, only faster?  And charging less?  And if you can’t keep yarn on the shelf, but still have empty shelves, why wouldn’t you carry another brand?  This used to be the place to go for Reynolds brand yarns, as well, including Lopi.  I didn’t see that at all.

    At this point I could have gone to the big box store and gotten something else so I could forge ahead, but I decided to cash in my chips and cast on a pair of socks.  There was now no way I could finish in time and I used a precious skein of Trekking XXL that I had been saving for myself, but it seemed that some kind of sacrifice was demanded by nature in order to make this vicious cycle of WTF end.

    socks of brotherly love

    Noah was gracious about opening up part of a gift that wasn’t finish and I know he looks forward to these extra special  socks.  I’m still not done with Noah’s holiday socks because I  tried to pull off some other knitting miracle for my husband’s January birthday.  But first, I have one more gift knit to tell you about.  And this one is truly epic (the knitting, not the story).  Here’s a preview:

    IMG_0233


  6. The Gift of Gift Knitting

    January 17, 2014 by Carol

    It’s really no fun to read about how crummy someone’s vacation was so we won’t dwell on it.  I’ve only just recovered, psychologically, this week.  Farewell, 2013!  Don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out!

    The BEST part of winter break, for me, this year was seeing how genuinely happy my husband and children were upon opening their handknit gifts.  Does that sound too cute and saccharine?  It’s true.  There were big Os of surprise, there were smiles, thanks, hugs, and kisses from four through thirty-six.  GO ME!

    boot socks

    (It does help that I have made it clear that the best way to get on the handknit list is to appreciate the things I make, sincerely and loudly.  This elf is making her own kind of list and checking it twice.)

    For the past few years – in my efforts to enjoy the winter holiday season rather than just survive it – I’ve stepped way back from trying to make something for EVERYONE (that’s 11+ people).  It seems like a good idea in the planning stage (I looooove the planning stage), but the execution of the plan goes on too long for my available knitting time.  There’s the amount of knitting time I actually have and what I wish I had or sometimes just think I have.

    Full disclosure: I was on the crazy holiday knitting train at times this season.  And then I got off.  Got on. Off.

    red scarf

    I try to have a pair of socks on the needle for one of the four of us at all times.  So when Z’s latest pair came off the needles in mid-November, I decided it was serendipity and tossed it in the gift knits basket.  Then I saw, in that basket, a lovely, drapey, moss stitch scarf in heathered burgundy Paton’s Classic Wool.  Guess who likes burgundy?  Not me.  But Matt does.  (Like me, his favorite color is green, so this really wasn’t obvious to me or him while I was knitting this scarf, off and on, for a couple, um, years.)

    purple mittens

    That only left my four-year-old, who could use a handknit pair of mittens.  Something to balance out all the pink and leopard print.  I finished on Christmas Eve, after tucking my puking children and husband into bed.

    She, by the way, wins at appreciating my work.  She reminds me almost daily how much she loves her mittens. Aw! Her savvy father, in between appreciations, has already put in his request for a Purl Soho Shawl Collar Cowl.

    I wish I had better pictures to share, but here I am, working at home, and my family and all their handknits are out of the house.  The dark purple of those mittens is especially difficult to capture at this gloomy time of year, while attached to a four-year-old.  More information and photos are available on their Ravelry project pages, linked above.  An account on Ravelry is required to view.

    How did your handknit holidays go?


  7. Knitting in the Dark

    November 25, 2013 by Carol

    Matt and I went to see Thor 2 this weekend and I realized I didn’t have any “easy” knitting so I grabbed a ball of sock yarn and 2.50mm DPNs. Matt thinks it’s pretty incredible that socks are what I consider easy knitting — as opposed to a scarf — and I think this is because a scarf requires a lot of forethought for me.  Who is it going to? What color, how soft, can it be in wool, and what stitch pattern?  Which needles and how wide and how many stitches to cast on?  The problem is that I don’t have a scarf recipe.  There are too many variables.

    For socks I just need some fingering wool (blended with about 15% nylon for durability) and size 2.25mm or 2.50mm needles.  I also need to think about how big the recipient’s leg is — and generally I just do 72 stitches for adults, so that thought process doesn’t take long.

    For these I cast on–you guess it–72 stitches and had joined in the round and knit the first round by the time the lights went down.

    Maybe I should name these Bifrost Socks?

    Maybe I should name these Bifrost Socks?

    I had one sticky bit where I dropped a stitch, and then another while I was trying to pick up the first by feel in the dark.  Then the part of the movie where Odin is showing the book to Thor happens and there was some extra light so I could glance at my work and set it to rights.

    The best part?  They’re too loose.  I use a 2.25mm needle for socks these days and I should have stuck with that.

    Have you ever tried knitting in the dark?


  8. Seed starting, maple sugaring, and hope for the end of the season of slush

    March 11, 2013 by Carol

    We tapped out maple tree a week ago.

    IMG_1821

     

    IMG_1827

    It cost us $4 for the tap; the jar and spare wire were found around the house.  Talk about Yankee frugality!  I have done a bit of reading and talked to people who do this more seriously and I know my one little tap is not going to give me much, no matter how much sap this tree pumps out.  In the first four days we collected about 2 gallons, boiled it down to 1/2 quart of complexly flavored, delicious sweet water — it needs to be cooked down further but I have to collect more sap first.  Since Thursday, I’ve collected another 2+ gallons and it’s time for another boil.  It took some 10 hours of hard boiling last time, oy.  If you’ve ever been to a real, outdoor maple syrup-making event, you know how very small scale my venture is.  Nonetheless, we are having fun!

    We are considering a second or third tap.  An experienced maple sugarer assures me that more taps is fine and the sugaring season in Michigan will last for at least another month (nights below freezing, days above freezing).

    IMG_1841

    I’ll share more of what I’ve learned as we progress with the collection and boiling over the next month.  My best source of info — enough to get going and not so much that you’ll be stalled — comes from this University of Maine agricultural extension pamphlet.

    While I am new to maple sugaring, I am old hand at seed starting.  This is my favorite part of gardening and a great relief from winter!

    I began by disinfecting all my pots and trays in bleach water solution in the bath tub (I decided against sharing that grotesque picture!).  I didn’t measure anything – just filled the tub with enough hot water to submerge the trays and dumped in a large glug of bleach (1 cup or less), swirled the bleach into the water and made sure it didn’t have that slimy feeling you get with too much bleach and let the dunking begin.  I did not clean the containers, mind you, just disinfected them.  I have a large collection of pots and trays and — life’s too short.  Mind you, this is the first time in all my years of gardening that I have bothered with disinfecting and that’s because I got these supplies from another gardener.  I’ve never had fungal problems with my seed starting so I never feel the need to disinfect.

    IMG_1852

    Air dry is best when disinfecting, but I rinsed my first set so I could get going right away.  The kids and I filled the first tray of 18 pots with a commercial soil-less seed starting mixture that we had around the house from some other project.

    We planted — about 4 seeds per 3″ pot:

    • Tomatillos (2012) — they are rather carefree in form and easy easy easy; we are going to roast them and make salsa
    • Black Plum tomatoes (2010) — black tomatoes have a nice smokey flavor
    • Oxheart Pink tomatoes (2010) — I am searching for an elusive orange oxheart I grew many years ago and this was the closest I could find last time I ordered online
    • Tiger-like tomatoes (2009) — the earliest maturing variety I’ve ever grown, and they’re cute
    • San Marzano Lampadina plum tomato (2010) — The year I had a newborn and every other gardener got late blight on their tomatoes, these plants pumped out tomatoes under some serious neglect
    • Nicholson’s Yellow Cherry (2007) — The only cherry tomato in my stash, but I also prefer yellow tomatoes for their lower acid content
    • Ground cherry (2009) — a garden curiosity!  The grow in a husk like a tomatillo and taste a bit like pineapple.  They also like to wander all over the garden so I am replanting them this year.  My mother-in-law, who comes from farming stock, told me that this old-fashioned fruit will flourish in a wild patch once it finds the right spot; and that it makes great pie.
    • mini sweet peppers (2012) — seed saving adventure from the grocery store.  I struggle to get sweet peppers to set fruit and to have those fruit mature so I hope a mini variety will help make those problems easier.  And the kids love sweet peppers (and hate tomatoes).
    • Early Jalapeno (2007) — I find hot peppers easier to grow than sweet peppers.  And jalepenos are a crucial ingredient in my homemade refried black beans.
    • Ancho hot pepper (2010) — It’s not always easy to find a good variety of hot peppers where I live so why not grow my own and preserve them!
    • Cayenne pepper (2010) — They’re beautiful and useful in sparing amounts
    • Garden sage (2008) — I need more of this good stuff to tuck around the vegetable garden.  It attracts pollinators and repels pests.
    • Hyssop (2007) — Attracts bees and butterflies
    • Cumin (2008) — I love this spice and cannot resist trying to grow it, again!

    IMG_1854

    Yes I am using “old” seed and yes, I plant sparingly.  It works for me.  If germination rates are too low to be useful, I will know in the next 10 days and can replant with new seed, skip it for this year, or buy a plant at the nursery.  I know the paper towel germination check trick, but I cannot be bothered to do it because I have SO MANY packages of seeds.  How many, you’re wondering?  My spreadsheet shows around 230.  Some are being tossed today as things I refuse to ever grow again (shasta daisy, wormwood), or failed experiments (gerber daisy), or used up (Nicholson’s Yellow Cherry).  I hope to whittle this number down significantly this year and have many new plants growing in the garden instead.

    Today is the new moon and we are trying out some biodynamic gardening methods this year.  The new moon is a good time to plant seeds because it promotes root growth (think tidal pulls, not magic).  Although Jeavons’s tome, How to Grow More Vegetables… is a great source of biodynamic gardening information, for an easy beginning I recommend the seed starting tool at Almanac.com, which gives best planting dates for several popular vegetables, including moon-favorable dates.  That link is set to Detroit, MI; put in your city or zip code to get the dates for your part of the US (sorry Canada!  And everybody else in the world!) .

    Once my seeds are planted, they go on a wire shelf in front of the south-east facing window in my dining room.  It is the perfect plant nursery.  Plenty of sunlight and warmth and air movement (I do use domes until seedlings emerge to make them a littler warmer and moister) without the expense of grow lights or heat mats.  Yes, it makes my husband a little crazy to have this in my dining room but not so much that he wants to invest in a mini greenhouse.  Yet.

    How are you breaking out of winter’s doldrums?  Having any dreams of green things?


  9. “The Weed” by Elizabeth Bishop

    February 2, 2013 by Carol

    It’s Imbolc or Brigid’s Day and Brigid was, among so many other things–saint or goddess, depending on who you ask–a patron of poets.  I love poetry so very much!  My future sister-in-law just finished a master’s degree in English Lit and for her thesis studied Elizabeth Bishop.  So I have been reading Bishop of late.  I am tickled that Bishop translated a bunch of Octavio Paz, of whom I am a big fan.  In fact, last year at this time I posted an excerpt from his seminal work, “Sunstone.”

     

    “The Weed”

    by Elizabeth Bishop

     

    I dreamed that dead, and meditating,

    I lay upon a grave, or bed,

    (at least, some cold and close-built bower).

    In the cold heart, its final thought

    stood frozen, drawn immense and clear,

    stiff and idle as I was there;

    and we remained unchanged together

    for a year, a minute, an hour.

    Suddenly there was a motion,

    as startling, there, to every sense

    as an explosion. Then it dropped

    to insistent, cautious creeping

    in the region of the heart,

    prodding me from desperate sleep.

    I raised my head. A slight young weed

    had pushed up through the heart and its

    green head was nodding on the breast.

    (All this was in the dark.)

    It grew an inch like a blade of grass;

    next, one leaf shot out of its side

    a twisting, waving flag, and then

    two leaves moved like a semaphore.

    The stem grew thick.  The nervous roots

    reached to each side; the graceful head

    changed its position mysteriously,

    since there was neither sun nor moon

    to catch its young attention.

    The rooted heart began to change

    (not beat) and then it split apart

    and from it broke a flood of water.

    Two rivers glanced off from the sides,

    one to the right, one to the left,

    two rushing, half-clear streams,

    (the ribs made of them two cascades)

    which assuredly, smooth as glass,

    went off through the fine black grains of earth.

    The weed was almost swept away;

    it struggled with its leaves,

    lifting them fringed with heavy drops.

    A few drops fell upon my face

    and in my eyes, so I could see

    (or, in that black place, thought I saw)

    that each drop contained a light,

    a small, illuminated scene;

    the weed-deflected stream was made

    itself of racing images.

    (As if a river should carry all

    the scenes that it had once reflected

    shut in its waters, and not floating

    on momentary surfaces.)

    The weed stood in the severed heart.

    “What are you doing there?” I asked.

    It lifted its head all dripping wet

    (with my own thoughts?)

    and answered then: “I grow,” it said,

    “but to divide your heart again.”

     

    From Poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011, p. 22-23.  Originally published in Bishop’s first collection, North & South, 1946.


  10. Proof that Dr. G’s Memory Vest Makes People Happy

    January 21, 2013 by Carol

    Mission accomplished!

    Being a goal-oriented person, I am pleased to have not only finished my husband’s Dr G’s Memory Vest (pattern by Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops), but also to have accomplished my goal of knitting a sweater for each person in my immediate family this season.

    Except myself.  I am not neglecting myself.  I do not buy into the Martyr Mother role!  And winter is not over yet.  I will cast on for my new sweater any day now.  I just have to make a decision on which pattern…  Isn’t sifting Ravelry for a pattern the best part anyway?

    Back to the vest.  On a friend’s suggestion, I went with Aslan Trends Del Cerro yarn.  It was one of those yarns that seemed like it would work, but so did not – at first.  I wanted to make a medium, which would have given Matt some negative ease in the fit, but after casting on and knitting for a few inches, it was clear that it was coming out way too small.  So I threw my naughty knitting into the corner for a few days ripped it out and knit the vest in the extra-large size.

     

    Well hallelujah and all that jazz because it ended being a great fit!  It’s approximately 43” around the chest, which is about what size the medium was supposed to be.  I’d like to claim awesome knitting ninja powers, but I suspect I just got lucky.  The false start made for a good gauge swatch as well.  The one tricky spot was the v-neck; I had to rewrite the decreases because of the difference in my row gauge.  Row gauge didn’t give me a problem in the other parts of the sweater.

    Don’t get me wrong about the Del Cerro, either.  It’s a great yarn.  It is comprised of many small plies and it is very bouncy and squishy.  It was just a bit splitty in the knitting up, but not so much that I am put off using it in the future.  The important feature of this yarn: It has GREAT stitch definition for all those cables.  I hope down the road that it doesn’t fuzz over so much that the cables become blurred, but if it does, oh well – there are more vests to be knit and there is a life-cycle to all these knitted goods.

    Coincidentally, Matt’s first opportunity to wear this was on his birthday last week.  We had to go out and get a new white button down and everything.

     

    Donut Mondae at Zingerman’s Roadhouse ~ what more could a person ask for?!

    Dah-ling, you look mah-velous!  Happy Birthday!