Monday, December 31, 2012

Reader Favorite: New Year's 2010

Another New Day
Arbitrarily it is the end of a year and the end of a decade. An ancient Roman-based calendar obliges us to consider tomorrow January first as the demarcation of a new year: 2010. For weeks (or months) we will continue to write 2009 on our checks, not ready to give up the old year, not ready to embrace the changing times as the years zoom away from us.

The date marks no change of seasons. We are in the midst of winter and winter will continue into the new year. There is no high holy feast to observe, no pre-calendar pagan rituals harking us back to a holiday mood. There is no reason tomorrow should be anything other than another quotidian sunrise and sunset. Another ordinary day.

Yet offices are closed, tomorrow there will be no post, and everyone goes about today with good wishes and cheerful greetings. The midnight sky will be interrupted by fireworks and dropping pickles, apples, roses, crystal balls.... each timezone will countdown to this one instant, this thin line between two ordinary days on a calendar, a separation between old and new.

We go about with Hope brimming over, Expectations and Good Intentions leading our way...This year we will do better. This is the year. Everything will be different this year. Are we deluding ourselves? I don't think so. Somehow, even though it is just another ordinary day it is still a day of promise.

Anne of Green Gables says "Tomorrow is always new with no mistakes in it -- yet." we are never more aware of this truth than at the new year. Tomorrow the whole year will be New, with no mistakes in it -- yet. Despite our best intentions the coming year will fill up with mistakes big and small. But for right now it lies ahead of us level and clean like the blanket of new fallen snow outside my window. What tracks we will make through that unbroken white! For now the expanse lies clean at our feet.... 10...9...8...7...

When morning comes remember, every day begins fresh and new and blank waiting for us to make something of it. Will it be a holiday? Will it be a day when we wish each other well? Will it be a day when we spread a message of Hope? We get to choose -- all year long.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

From Psalm 85

For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
And give heed to the voice of my supplications!
In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You,
For You will answer me.
There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord,
Nor are there any works like Yours.
All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And they shall glorify Your name.
For You are great and do wondrous deeds;
You alone are God.

Friday, August 31, 2012

What I learned from YouTube

I was assigned the appetizer for a group dinner -- that's easy right?  Or you can make things hard on yourself.  You can google things.  You can have a great veggie dip (take a jar of pesto and a block of cream cheese and add enough milk to make it blend smoothly in the mixer and you get dip that people love and rave about) and you can begin innocently enough thinking you want to make one little vegetable flower to garnish a tray of cut veggies.

Be warned:  YouTube will suck you in with fantastic amazing demonstrations of vegetable (and fruit) carving.  There are some truly talented people doing amazing perishable art.  That's the first thing you learn.  The second thing you learn is that most of these people don't speak English.  Which makes the third thing a little harder to learn -- the third thing you learn is how to make some of those veggie flowers yourself. 

I am particularly fond of the way my carrot flowers look almost good enough to be recognizable as flowers.  By the way, some of the things you learn from actually making those carrot flowers?  Carrots will stain your hands yellow if you work with them for three hours straight.  They really do get stiffer and crisper in a bowl of ice water just like the lady from Thailand says.  And seriously, if it takes three hours to make five sad little carrot flowers like that how amazing must God be to have created real flowers and carrots in the first place!  :)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

August Dye

I have a dented pot I bought intentionally for dying in. It was discounted because of the damage, which damage also makes it easy to spot that this is not one of my cooking pots, and my "spoon" is an old stick so I don't worry about the toxicity levels of my dye ingredients. Natural dyes can be just as toxic as chemical dyes.  So even though I tend to go for natural dyes I still don't want my experiments mixing with my food. 
The vinegar and sumac are both acidic enough to act as the only mordant necessary.  Or so I thought.  I was attempting to dye cotton this time too, but cotton clearly needs more mordanting.  Coming out of they dye pot the cotton lost more than half its color in the first rinse, although the resulting pastel is not unpleasant. 
 The wool on the other hand held its deeper richer color beautifully.  Isn't it pretty?
As you can see there is quite a lot of variation in the resulting wool yarn, lighter bits where the knots of the skein kept the dye from penetrating, darker bits where it oxidized or brushed up against the pot and a few purpler streaks where I didn't get all the plant matter out of the pot before putting the yarn in and it must have been next to a poke berry.  I love the way the color plays and changes with this batch and as you can see it's already being knit up into something.  What kind of something uses such a small batch of hand-dyed yarn to best show it off?  Stay tuned. :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Notes to Self

Working 60+ hours a week does not leave enough time to tend the gardens properly and even less time to blog about it.  Fix that.

Five tomato plants is not enough to keep you in tomatoes at the rate I use up tomatoes in season.  Plant more next year.  A lot more.  And more basil.

Heritage everbearing raspberries are the best things ever.  The birds think so too.

Asian tiger mosquitoes are evil evil insects.  They are out biting all DAY, but they seem to be less in the mornings.  They are worst before a storm but if you're willing to garden in a heavy downpour they don't get you. 

Rain water is good for your skin.  It is not quite so good for your wheelbarrow or your bbq grill.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Antique Apple Update

The adorable Yellow Transparent is a good fresh apple and nicely early but evidently not great keepers.  Just 2 weeks in the fridge turned them mealy.  As satisfying as it is to have fresh ripe apples in June I don't think my future orchard will need more than one Yellow Transparent. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

May: Illustrated and not so Abridged

Alum Seed Head
Showy Tickseed
American Scarlet Elder

Rain Drops

Casa Blanca Lily

The Back Yard

(and yes, those are little apples in the apple trees -- don't tell the groundhog)

April: Illustrated and Abridged

Happy First Birthday My Little Fashionista Friend
 Reversible Baby's Back-Wrap Sundress
 With Co-ordinating Puff Pants

Ummm.... They're called GROUNDhogs?
For reference, that's the top of a 6' fence in the background, and that is definitely Not a silkworm in my mulberry tree.


March: Illusustrated and Abridged

One woodpecker
 Two woodpeckers
 Three woodpeckers
 Apple Streussel Pie
 Apple Raspberry Crumb Pie
The End

Tuesday, February 28, 2012



The dogs look good in black and white.  I didn't know that before. Then again, I didn't know my camera had a black and white setting before. 

I finally made time to play and figure out a lot of camera functions this week.  Time to push buttons and see what works and how it works, a little at least. 

When I got the new camera I was happy to have a functional camera again but the newness of it scared me a little.  I left it on the auto setting.  Sometimes that worked, sometimes -- not so much.  Sometimes I just left the camera at home rather than try to figure out how it worked and not get any pictures anyway and miss the scenery for looking at the camera.  But I think those days are over. 

Now if I leave the camera at behind it will be simply because I forgot to re-charge the batteries.  :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jeremiah 17:14-18

Heal me O LORD, and I shall be healed
Save me and I shall be saved
For YOU are my praise
See how they say to me,
"Where is the word of the LORD?
Let it come!"
But I have not run away from being a shepherd in YOUR service,
Nor have I desired the fatal day,
YOU know what came from my lips
It was before YOUR face
Do not become a terror to me,
YOU are my refuge in the day of disaster;
Let my persecutors be shamed
But do not let me be shamed
Let them be dismayed
But do not let me be dismayed...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rough Drafts

One thing you learn as a writer, the rough draft is part and parcel of the final version.  You can refine and polish and chop out old bits, add in new bits, chop out bits of that, and add back in bits of the old cut bits, and you can correct your spelling; but the final version is just a refined version of that first rough draft.  It is a better looking, well-polished version of what you started with but it is not something entirely different. 

Someone recently told me that I should realize that what I heard from her was not always true because when she talked to me it was "just a rough draft"  and she was speaking her own "emotional truths."  This is how it happens that she is not a liar for saying what she said, but I am a liar for believing her.  I'm sorry, but if you say "this is what happened"  I'm going to think you meant to say that is what happened.  I'm going to think that the seventh time you tell me someone said something you really do mean they actually said it.  And I'm going to know that if you begin with a lie for your rough draft, the final story might be quite convincing but it is simply a polished lie. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas Sweater Completed

Quick and chunky green yarn in a corrugated rib knit with purled cuffs and collar. 
Turned out pretty good for a pattern I invented myself.