Friday, November 21, 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

Well, the Thanksgiving holiday is almost here. Hubby and I leave tomorrow for a trip north to Whidbey Island to hang with my fabulous (yes really--I am SOOOO lucky!) mother-in-law. We are taking the long way north with a couple stops along the way. We are meeting our pal Q in Newport, Oregon at a yarn store. Yep! That's right! She knits. Even though she came from my Other Half's side of the relationship, Q and I have bonded over our mutual love/addiction to fiber. Out of deference to my husband we have promised not to spend too much time in the yarn store. Uh huh.

So here I am actually packed and ready to go and there's even time for a blog and hot chocolate! This is good as work has been a zoo (deep understatement) and this feels more like a jail break than a vacation.

We have gotten a break in the weather in HumCo so PW and I took a hike last Sunday on the Coastal Trail out of Requa. Man. 75 degrees in mid-November. Wow! We did about 6 miles and it was GORGEOUS! Check out these pics! Here is the trail as it starts out from Requa. It was hard to tell which was bluer, the sea or the sky.

Here is Crescent City through the trees like a little fairytale town:

This was our turn around point/picnic spot and my favorite part of the trail, Hidden Beach:

It's pushing up daisies. It's gone to meet it's maker. It's joined the choir invisible. This is an ex crab!!

The light was just amazing, lighting up the green of the foliage in a last trailing gasp of warm Summer weather:

And here's the Santa Cruz mascot, out for a stroll:

This picture shows the outflow of the Klamath river. even at fairly low water, it flows out to sea with a fair amount of power, hence that arrowhead shaped current.

On the way home, we drove past Big Lagoon and the and a lovely gold setting sun, capping a perfect day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fall in a Big Way

Greetings from Eureka! I have been going nuts taking pictures in the garden over the last week and a half as things transition. Elsewhere there are blizzards, but here a few vestiges of Summer are mixing with Fall. Here is Cappuccino looking suitably cat-grumpy on the damp back lawn during a weather break.

Well, the rainy season has arrived on the North Coast. The storm door doesn't open here; it gets blown off its hinges. We have had about a week of solid wet since the first of November and it is likely to stay that way through March. Eureka is the dry spot in HumCo at 37 inches of rain a year, but there is a reason the redwoods here are so steroidally huge: it is damned wet here. Foggy in Summer, rainy in Winter. You don't have to drive too far either North or South before the precipitation totals get into the 80-120 inches per year range. Yeouch.

Still, that wet is good for my little cottage garden out back. I swear every time I poke about out there, I find some new, funky, weird plant peeking out. We are Sunset Western Garden book zone 17, which is the same as my hometown of Fremont, but the things I can grow here tend to be more Pacific Northwest than Bay Area. Rhododendrons THRIVE here. We have two mondo pink rhodies that explode in Spring. The rhodies hint at a more acid soil than I am used to and this really is a transition zone between the Mediterranean climate of coastal California and the deep wet green climate of the Pacific Northwest.

There are a few things growing here that are more warm-weather based. Despite the foggy coastal climate, we have a thriving lemon tree and a producing grapevine (although we were essentially Summer-less this year and were consequently grape-less.) The centerpiece of the garden is a fairly large Japanese maple that is pretty generic looking when it is green, but it has gone ape this fall, having turned almost radioactively red. Check these pics out:

I took this picture just a couple of days ago using a flash. This is looking out the back door of the Solarium. The greenery on the far right is one of the big pink rhodies in the corner of the yard along the fence.
Here are a few isolated leaves that show how really red the leaves get. This was taken using ambient light, although I tweaked the light levels in Photoshop. The color is pretty true to the leaves.
Another spray backlit by an overcast setting sun. The leaves in that light seem to glow.

Last, but certainly not least, our clematis have continued to bloom, despite the growing cold. (although the recent rain has rather bashed about these blossoms.) We have another lavender clematis blooming as well, see here. The late season bumblebee was quite torpid and so posed for a long time for the picture. It's nice to get a last gasp of blooms before we get our wet green winter. We are rather spoiled here for flowers, but everything needs to rest. Still, we are going out with fireworks. Happy Autumn, everybody!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mental Blocking

Have any of you out there in cyberspace started a project and noticed that as it goes along, you fall into a very comfortable rhythm? With such projects, I find that coming to the end, while yielding a pleasing finished product, I feel a sense of anticlimax. The more pleased I am with the item, the stronger my sense of anticlimax is. I have found that when I come to the end of a project, I tend to hesitate. I have several projects right now that are mostly done.

When the knitting is over, what remains is the blocking and sewing, neither of which are as enjoyable to me as the knitting portion. Part of this is that blocking at least is something that you can't start, pause and then finish later. The process of blocking a garment also requires space and equipment, neither of which are readily accessible to me at the moment. Even after a year and a half in my current house, I am still missing things (in this current instance, the bulk of my straight pins are not in my thread case. Huh. Now where the HECK have they gone?!) and my house is really quite small, so there is no space except the main room floor to spread out in and do my fiber-y thing.

A case in point: I just finished blocking a wrap this afternoon that I have been sitting on for at least a week. I have to say that I definitely think I would have been better off with a decent blocking board, which I don't have. NOt having a board, I tend to use towels or a thick blanket to absorb the moisture that comes with the way I block my sweaters. I also do double duty by washing the pieces in Eucalan woolwash as weeks of handling and even dragging the project around tends to leave it, shall we say, less than fresh. Most of my sweaters don't LOOK dirty, but the handwashing bucket tends to show the unseen dirt. Eucalan is easy to use because it is no-rinse and it freshens and mothproofs the wool as well as cleaning it. Then there comes the laying out, pinning, even steaming if needed (especially for cabled and fairisle all-wool sweaters--the fabric looks much more even if an iron is used to indirectly steam after washing and pinning the damp garment.)

So I made do this time around with a terry cloth bath sheet that was not quite long enough and what pins I had. I got it done, but it was awkward in execution. Having this project done leaves a little void, too. This wrap was my friend for more than a month and I really enjoyed watching it bloom and grow. Now it's done. What I have to face is what to do next.

I have several projects that are staring me in the face: Zarah that has been bugging me for months, the currently unearthed Grant Avenue vest which I plan to rehab, K's blue lace sweater that I have been stuck on literally for 3 years that keeps submerging in moves and distractions (stinking I-cord collar that I just cannot get right--do I try to make it work or rip it and make something else with it? Starting over is either a cop out or the best possible solution and I am hesitating because I am not ready for another disaster). I have two bags I have started (one knitted by me and the other a thrift store felt job) that are at the stage of dragging out my sewing machine to make up linings and add on all the fiddly findings which gets back to the concept of focused and labor-intensive work. Christmas projects that loom--I have done one, two are in progress and and at least 5 more are waiting. I think I must be nuts to have planned so many things, but I have never really made my family things before and it is well past time to do so.

The bottom line is I dawdled over the wrap because it was going well, and it kept me from having to face some knitting demons that are lurking on the periphery of my creative consciousness. It's that fine line between comfort and obligation with my crafting projects. Add to that a desire to get my hands on many things at once and it makes for a little A.D.D. induced catatonia. Still, having something in my hands sure beats the boredom! And lest you all think that all I have done today is block my wrap, I also made putanesca pasta sauce, borscht and green tomato pasta sauce in an attempt to beat some of the vegetables from our CSA farm into edible submission. Now if only the weekend were four days instead of two...