Friday, July 17, 2015

Another Day, Another Thunderstorm...

Welcome to the lake district! Or as I like to call it, southwest of Chicago!

Last night, it being a Thursday, of course there were severe storm warnings. Every Thursday, lately. So I'm guiding my class through a sun salutation, and I cue them to fold over and release their necks, "listening to the gentle sounds of the rain and letting your thoughts flow away with it."

And then the skies open and it starts thundering down. So, of course, I say, "face the long side of your mat, toward what I like to call "the river view"..." as the parking lot floods... 

Egret taking off from soybean field
You have to laugh. 

On the way home, I stopped to catch a picture. It's so wet that the egrets are mistaking the soybean fields for small lakes! This guy was standing, but he didn't appreciate my squishy approach. 

And today, again: severe t-storms supposed to happen in about an hour. 

Oh well. We do need the rain. Just not all in 24 hours. 

Sweetpea the Swallowtail...

I think it's a girl and I shall name her Sweetpea! 

Of course, I have no idea. But somehow, this little thing is just capturing my heart. I go out and check on her(?) every day. I'm worried now, because we're under a heat advisory, and I don't want her(?) to get too warm. 

It looks as if she's(?) lifting herself off the stem to either say hello or to get a better tan!

I'm not sure which. 

I haven't seen the monarchs back. And I haven't seen hummingbirds for a few days now. But up till today, the weather had been cold and damp, which isn't all that conducive to hummingbirds. 

The weeds are insane again. I'm not sure when we'll get to them; you'd think the rain would loosen the soil but it only makes the dirt heavier. 

And today, there were two odd "explosions" near the river. I'm not sure what, but they upset the dogs. 

The Garden Rocks...

We have another handful of cherry tomatoes, six decent cucumbers (salad, not pickle, I hope!) and a whole load of peas. 

Sink full of peas
For what it's worth, pea shucking isn't my thing. It's that fused left thumb - I go to grab the pea and pluck off the tip and it just won't work! So Hubby's farm training kicked in and he's plugging away at it. 

I did a bunch, but it started to hurt. And then I kept losing my grip and sending peas flying. That's enough for me, sorry!

Some of the cucumbers are going to live with my mother. I can't eat all of them by the time Kid #2 and I leave for The Faulkner/Vonnegut Pilgrimage, on Sunday, and Hubby dislikes cucumbers. 

I was hoping to juice at least one or two, which may happen tomorrow. 

The larger tomatoes are taking their sweet time, and I'm hoping all this water won't mess with them. Last time it was this wet, everything got root rot and a blossom-end fungus and we got nothing. But since it also seems to be heating up like crazy, that may balance out the damp. 

The lettuce has virtually gone to seed, so this weekend, that comes out and we plant another section. I would love to compost, but as hubby pointed out - it's just the two of us. Unless I can find a spot in the yard (which isn't likely, given the size of the yard) where I can put a decent compost pile, and then sell the excess, we'll have more than we can even consider using. 

Sage leaves
I'm about ready to do more pesto. And the sage? Holy moley!!! I had purchased garden sage, intending to dry it for use in smudging. Seems I should have done more research: you can't use garden sage. But it doesn't matter: our sage is huge. I mean seriously huge. 

I can't get over the size of the leaves. So now I have to figure out just what to do with it. Any ideas?

We planted this in a raised "trug" style planter, which has really nice drainage. We put a cover over it, and even though it's in the shade, it's obviously doing fine. So the foreground is sage, the back left is basil and directly behind the sage is rosemary. 

I'm going to dry the rosemary, and probably freeze a good bit of the sage in those "suck the air out" vacuum bags. That way, it should still be ok and not get mushy when I need to use it. 

The basil here? Seriously, when I stripped it for the first batch of pesto, I thought I'd done a good job. Well, I had - because it's come back almost double what it was before I took it all apart!

I could probably invest in a dehydrator. I dried herbs last time using the oven, but it does take a long time, and it's not the best use of the oven since we've apparently now decided that summer is upon us. I'd rather not jack up the A/C bill with the oven on. 

I might also look into herb jellies. I think that if I can find a decent recipe for sage jelly, I'll make it. That would be kind of cool. Excellent on a pork roast, I think. 

But I'm still trying to figure out how they all got so big!

Random Picture...

"Why yes, I can hang off the couch just like a cat," says Quinn. I'm truly not sure if she's pure canine or part feline! 

All three of them went nuts today when the UPS man came, even though he was dropping off treats for them. 

They didn't care. They just don't like him; and even if I introduced Tippi to him, he doesn't like dogs either. 

They know. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Go Set a Watchman...

This is gonna be a quickie, kids... I have a to-do list that's taller than I am!

Harper Lee...

I read this in exactly 24 hours. I didn't think I'd pre-ordered it, but I had, from Barnes & Noble. 

So Kid #2 gets the copy I just ordered from Amazon... 

OK, here's the thing (no spoilers).

Everyone's up in arms over the revelation that Atticus Finch is a racist. 

"What? Gregory Peck/Atticus Finch a racist?? NOOOOO!"

Hey, folks. 

Gregory Peck was an amazing actor, who also happened to be extraordinarily liberal in his beliefs. When he delivered that famous speech during Tom's trial, of course it felt like it came from his very being. Because it did. 

But he was, folks, ACTING. He played Atticus Finch. A noble character in Mockingbird, to be sure, but a character after all. 

And let's take a breath, get off the fainting couch and stop clutching our pearls. 

Atticus is EXACTLY the man he should be, for the period within which the book was written. I would venture to guess that most men of Atticus' stature in a "real" Southern town in that time period were also racists. 

They didn't want to see their society changed. They truly believed that the North was taking away their very way of life. 

Atticus being a racist is no more surprising than it ought to be. 

Everyone just breathe here. 

Read the book. 

What's probably not as surprising is that there ARE other manuscripts. Think about it. Harper Lee has a transcendent style of writing. Her way with words is unlike other writers. I always found it hard to believe that she had a one-off stunner in "To Kill a Mockingbird." 

The news that there's yet a third manuscript isn't hard to believe. Even if it's not a fully-fleshed-out story, I think it should be published. 

Her voice should not be confined to just one or two books, if indeed there are more of her words out there. 


I have a friend who runs a honey operation. So I was able to hook up with her to get the first harvest of 2015 honey. This will be used for potica this fall, and I'm so excited to have local honey!

If you're in the area, visit their site and contact Jo if you want some lovely, locally sourced honey. 

This is why bees are important. Not because my friend owns this farm. But because for all our sophistication and mechanization - we need bees. 

Bees transport pollen. Plants don't reproduce without pollen. We don't eat if bees don't survive. 

And we really, really need to support local small farmers like Jo. I mean, honestly - when was the last time you looked at your food and truly wondered where it came from? 

If you don't have your own garden, you don't realize that while it's a ton of work, it's also a ton of satisfaction to grow your own lettuce, herbs, and other veggies. 

And if you're a meat-eater, how about contacting a local farmer to see if he or she has the ability to supply you? Yes, you'll likely pay a bit more. But you'll know where your burger or bacon came from. And it won't be Chile or China. 

We're in the breadbasket of the nation and it's time for a cultural revolt to bring us back to the breadbasket instead of the superstore. 

Random Picture...

This little guy will be a black swallowtail some day and I'm happy as can be to see him! I'm still trying to catch up with the Monarch (yay!) who's been flitting around my coneflower and dill. They're notoriously hard to capture, in my mind. Or maybe I'm slow. Which is fine - I'll catch a shot of him one of these days. 

This is last year's dill in the front garden, and we're just using what we can. It'll reseed itself and we'll trim it up for next year. But dill is a butterfly magnet, so go forth and plant, people!

Go below, in the comments, and let me know what's in YOUR garden!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Almost Caught Up...

Well, I'm trying. 

Clouds rolling in
So let's get started on what's going on lately. 

June was horrible. It was wet, it rained almost constantly and the weather activity was frightening. 

And July looks to be the same. Tonight, again (it's always the nights I'm teaching yoga), tornado watches till 11 p.m. Thunderstorm activity this morning was brutal. There was a brief patch of blue, and now it's dark again. 

I'm holding classes; the stuff is to the south of us, and while I don't want to get complacent and think, "Oh, it's not moving," because of course it does, and it moves FAST, I don't want to be all Henny Penny about it...Or Chicken Little, if you roll that way. 

Above is this morning's picture, courtesy of Hubby, who loves storms. I was sitting and drinking my tea. He said to me, "Look out the window." And in ONE minute, it rolled in, and the bucketing started. It moved through fairly quickly, considering. And we knew we were in for it all day off and on. 
Early afternoon sunshine

The storms are just south of us and we don't know if they'll move straight east or wiggle its way north or just fizzle. 

At early afternoon, we had blue sky and sunshine, and the humidity began building. It was getting steamy and the air was getting more "chewy," which is never a good sign. 

Late afternoon
About 3 or 4 p.m., it darkened up again. The weather radio went off. My phone's been pinging all afternoon. And one of my teachers had called me asking if we were holding classes tonight. 

Yes we are. At this point in the Summer of 2015 That May Not Really Be Summer, we can't afford to cancel classes on the whim of the National Weather Service. Half the time, the warnings come to naught because the storms break up. It's just being watchful, and that we are. 

So today, I was trying to clean up the office and get some other stuff done. I was hoping to get Hubby to fix my camera. The telephoto lens was getting sticky and I needed to get it fixed before my upcoming trip. 

I was also hoping to get some knitting done. That I managed - at least 2 or 3 rows of the sock. 

I am almost caught up on the Yarn Harlot blog and I still have a sequence to write out for a private student. 

I did get a video of my own version of Surya Namaskara (sun salutation) done for that same student. I just have to put it all together, which will happen tomorrow. 

I got a few things ticked off the list, but not as many as I wanted to. 

The Trip...

Well, Kid #2 and I leave next Sunday for The Great Faulkner/Vonnegut Pilgrimage. 

We have the route confirmed, the hotels booked, and a list of stuff to see in Oxford, courtesy of a friend of mine who loves it down there. 

I'm looking forward to some mother-son bonding, and we both have similar attitudes toward travel: we'll just roll with it. 

Wednesday, I take the car in for the pre-trip check and then I can pack on Saturday. We take off sometime Sunday morning. We should be back Friday-ish, and I'm bringing my journal and the laptop, so blogging may ensue. Not sure yet. 


So here's the second of the Bowties are Cool socks. It's coming along nicely. I don't know when I'll get it done. I may take a vanilla sock along on my trip just for the heck of it. 

The only thing about the trip is that I'm driving, so of course I can't knit! Ha! But I can knit in the evening before bedtime. 

I'm knitting a few rows on this just about every day. I almost feel like it's forced, but I know that I want to get this done. I hate to have the knitting feel like a chore, but for some reason, the second sock of this pair feels a bit chore-like. 

Maybe because I'm not happy with the fit of the first sock, and I'm not anticipating the fit of the second one to be any better. 

But I still love the yarn. It's squishy and gorgeous. So I'm looking forward to the next Lorna's Laces sock; maybe it has to be a plainer pair. This is a ton of K1b - knit one below. And I think it's pulling it together a lot more so even at a 72-stitch cast-on, it's a bit snug. 

The Before and After scarf is coming along; it looks like I'm close to the end of the peacock variegated, but remember - it's lace-weight and it's going to fool the eye. 

I might actually take that one one on the trip. It's certainly mindless enough. 

Friends in Crisis...

I have two separate friends with two separate crises going on. One is an older friend, who's afraid that our other friend is mad at her. I'm pretty sure she's not. She's facing some pretty hefty back surgery, she's in pain and I'm almost 100% certain that she's just fed up with a lot of stuff and doesn't have much patience. So that was this morning's call.

This afternoon's call comes with my oldest friend's son being a royal jerk... He's getting married, and it's like we're looking at the King and Queen. There's some drama about him not including any of his family, and claiming that some family members "hate" his intended, and reminding his mother that it's "HIS" day so he can do what he wants. 

Oh, yeah... He's 4 days older than Kid #1. So don't tell me there's no such thing as a "Groomzilla." Because I've seen it. 

Not that I'm claiming any special privilege, but when I was over at their house this weekend, he didn't even introduce his intended around. 

That's basic manners. I would expect my kids to do that. And they'd better, if they know what's good for them. 

So my friend said she can't, in good conscience, attend the wedding. She wants to know if she's doing the right thing, and I assured her that she was. You can't expect to stand up for things if you don't stand up for things, you know?

If the son is treating everyone in his family like this, then he needs to learn that there are consequences for jerkitude. I just said, "Don't be surprised when he comes to you with his hand out, looking for your help." 

She says she's not intending to offer any, since he's apparently thinking nobody in the family is "worthy" enough to come to his wedding. 


Christmas in July...

This was on television the other day. Yes, it's my favorite Alistair Sims version of "A Christmas Carol" and yes, it was on in the early morning. 

Along with the commercials for Christmas trees. 

And while I haven't been in there since the SCOTUS "birth control battle," I understand that of course Hobby Lobby has its Christmas stuff up and running already. They usually are early, but I think it's still idiotic. 

I haven't even contemplated Christmas knitting. And I ought to, if I'm planning any, since I'm not all that fast. And there's a vague possibility that I might have a full-time job which will cut into my time even more. 

I know. It's still 6 months away. 

But this is nuts. 

Random Picture...

It's confirmed. Huskies breathe through their ears. Raisa was on the couch yesterday. With her nose smooshed into the cushion. Snoring away. 

I can't figure it out. How do they do that? 

She seemed comfortable enough.