30 May 2007

naked ladies dancing in the garden

There are naked ladies dancing in the garden! Bulbs, corms, and such are just wonderful additions to a yard or garden. They surprise the viewer with a varied pallet throughout the growing season.

This particular bulb is really not an Amaryllis belladonna, but a Hippeastrum. However, I still love the name of "naked ladies" so I will continue to call them such. Don't you love the horticulture business that just assigns names to plants incorrectly? No wonder so many people are confused about what to plant, why it didn't grow, or grew to twice the size it was supposed to. Grrrr. All I can say is to take that handy plant identification book with you when you are choosing landscaping. Think carefully. Do research.

Enjoy my pictures. Don't they remind you of the plant on "Little Shop of Horrors"?

25 May 2007

learning from children

This week at my knitting group, a fellow knitter (duh!) and friend was lamenting about not being able to knit with a two-year-old close by (ha, I wonder why?!). I gave her an idea to try at home to maybe free up his little fingers from her yarn and into a project of his own...

Her email to me: "Thank you so much for the sewing card idea for my son. I had some scrap mat board and some cloth ribbon in my craft closet so I made a quick card to see if he was interested. At first he just wanted to tie his cars and trucks up with the ribbon, but then he wanted me to show him how to sew and he was hooked. He does a very nice job."

I love the concept of first using the ribbon to tie up cars and trucks. How funny! I find it fascinating how children think and use what's around them. This is why I have a degree in child development. I also have a daily excuse to play in the dirt and mud, roll in the grass, jump up and down like a marionette in public, and...well, you get the idea. Teachers can act crazy and do things that are considered "odd" by the adult-world standards (whatever they are--remember I'm a teacher and I don't subscribe to that rule book most of the time). Oh, the caveat: the teacher must be with children, the younger the better, to do this. Older children, and especially teenagers, are prone to fits of their own upon seeing an adult veer away from what other adults do (even more extreme if it's the parents involved in the behavior). It is not uncommon to have these older children create a distance between the themselves and the "strange acting" adult, which leaves the adult vulnerable to public ridicule and embarrassment. As a teacher, it helps to have the school district i.d. badge prominently displayed around the neck on a lanyard just in case someone has mistaken you for a crazed mother who has had one too many sleepless nights.

There is the same phenomenon of separation and distancing between a knitter and "muggles" (thank you Stephanie Pearl-McPhee for the reference) when the craft is applied in public. Acceptable public venues seem to be: doctor's/dentist's/hospital offices/waiting rooms, tea/coffee shops, airports, Amtrak train stations, standing in long lines, hotel lobbies, hostels, camp grounds, between classes at university, the Rivercats games (there is even an annual "Stitch and Pitch" game)--to name a few. Public venues that appear to cause long, open stares, whispering, and finger-pointing: lunch-time at work, breaks at meetings, movie theater (before the movie begins), anywhere you would like to get a few rows finished while waiting for something to start or finish because it's the only free time you may get.

Children have no issues doing/working on a project in public...it's a learned trait to pull back those "urges" and conform to social standards. This wasn't always the case. I knit in public, always carrying my basket with me just in case I have a moment or two. It might bother me, but I keep focused on my project and if I get those stares and finger-pointing, I don't see them. Remember, I'm a teacher and am used to being "different". Maybe it's different in other countries. Let me know if it's so.

24 May 2007

goodies from across the Atlantic

The word "excited" seems to be used often (I am as guilty as the next person) so I consulted my handy-dandy beat up looking, bloated (no, really--you know what happens to paperbacks when they get wet and expand to two times their normal size?) Bantam Collegiate Roget's Thesaurus (copyright 1987) for words to replace it. I don't throw this tattered book away because I love the format and font. I look. I do. Every time I am in a bookstore, which is often because it contains one of my vices--books, I look but I can't seem to find the "perfect" thesaurus. One should have a thesaurus that feels right. It's your friend and confidante, not just a book that sits idly by during the writing process. So, I search in my yellow-paged thesaurus for "excited". What I find are words not fitting for the occasion of receiving a package all the way from Europe sent by a fellow knitter and coffee addict. Words such as: aroused, animated, evoked, stirred, kindled. Humm. Maybe I should look tomorrow at my neighborhood bookstore one more time.

My coffee/knitting pal was told my package would take possibly up to a month to complete it's journey. It didn't, thankfully. I was given by the postal service almost that same amount of time for her package to arrive from me. We'll see. Customs and international mail!

I was so delighted to open my package. Just like having a birthday half way through the year. Packages in the mail are always exciting (oops, there's that word again) to get. I don't know if it's having it addressed specifically to me, or the anticipation of opening the box for the unknown inside.

My package contained many more items than I expected. A beautiful mug, which I promptly cleaned and used the following day. English Rose Sweets (how did my pal know that I enjoy little hard candies while I read?). French nougat candies with almonds and pistachios (these are so tasty with coffee). Whittard breakfast coffee (smooth and rich...yes, good with the nougats). Fleece Artist merino wool sock yarn, rainforest colorway--this is so yummy. I can't wait to get my needles wrapped around it. Oh, oh, she also sent me two CD's she made of music, some of which are recordings of a live concert she sang in! I have been listening to them every day in the vehicle as I commute in traffic. As an added bonus, my da Vinci cat now has his own fleece to play with, instead of my knitting. Thank you my dear pal!

23 May 2007

constants and notables

Notable: I have been derelict in by duties blogging. Busy. Busy. Looking at a change for next fall makes me crazy. I have been chastised by friends and family...in a nice way but I get the point. Bear with me a couple more weeks.

There will always be enough zucchini for the family, neighborhood, co-workers, and beyond.

Notable: My daughter is amazing.

Constant: "Each particle of matter attracts every other particle with a force which is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them." That is Sir Isaac Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. Well, I do know for a fact that gravity works. The particles of matter in my knees and hands were very definitely attracted to other particles on a sidewalk in Chicago. There was force applied. The mass of concrete won the contact sport (me being the soft, squishy one of the two). Surprisingly nothing was majorly damaged (on me...who cares about the sidewalk that wasn't flat to begin with). There is not going to be a picture of this event. No one wants to see the bruise that extends from my right knee to my ankle, the cut toe that bled in a pool inside my sandal, or the scraped up palm.

Notable: The graduation was, well, like most graduations. No one can see well, the speeches are dry (for the most part), people bring infants who won't remember the event anyway but make it unpleasant for everyone around when crying commences (out of boredom and someone holding them all the time when they aren't used to being confined). I do understand that families want to be there...I commend them for the support they give. Maybe consider hiring a nanny or babysitter for the day to help so that you, too, can enjoy the celebration.

09 May 2007

they come as I plan to leave

The invasion has begun. Battle lines drawn. The first wave of soldiers...well, let's say there's carnage everywhere. It's too gruesome to share pictures with you. Many were flattened, most were poisoned with Clorox 2. Food was destroyed down the garbage disposal. Soldiers trying to escape the grizzly death by grinder were not spared, but flushed down the opening with water. The weakness in my defense (where they entered) was poisoned and sealed.

It's ant season...not the big ones that you find on logs and picnic tables in the woods. These ant are very small. Very determined. They create freeways of traffic in a short time. They invade cupboards and cat food. My mom calls them "piss ants" because they piss her off. Cute, huh? What's next? Moths in my wool? I shutter at the thought.

The clorox smell attracts both cats. Have I mentioned that my cats are "chem cats"? They love the smell of clorox. The one cat who is a bit high strung (I haven't been able to take a picture of her for a story yet) has several chemical issues: clorox (she rolls around on the floor where I just wiped up the dead ants, purring, eyes glazed over in ecstasy), tape (it gets chewed on or licked--it's the sticky side she goes for), and fresh rosemary (she regularly chews on fresh sprigs of rosemary). I swear I didn't create these issues. I am good at picking out defective cats. My cat-picking history speaks for itself. I won't give you all the details, but I'm sure my DH or daughter would love to share.

We will be flying off to Chicago Friday. I had planned to not have a friend come over to check up on the cats (they can be left alone for a few days)--then the invasion. I am rethinking the check up part. Our daughter graduates from Northwestern Law School on Mother's Day. What better gift can I possibly get? I don't know a lot of folks that are as driven and focused as she is: eight years out of high school = two bachelor degrees (European history and psychology), and now a JD in law.

Knitting for the plane has been packed. Nothing too big in size. I've included a nice variety of projects since four hours can seem like an eternity if the mind and body are not occupied. No long sharp instruments made out of metal (although I am in love with my Addi turbos, never thought I would knit with metal, but the circulars are so well connected, not kinked, and are sleek). Several projects have been put in a back pack (the easiest way to carry and store for me on a plane, as I have never seemed to outgrow that need to have a back pack and my baskets would get squashed). Double checked the packing of patterns and enough yarn.

08 May 2007

yummy treats

Three Lopi pattern books! I have already started on one using the yarn featured. More to come as the project starts looking like something...I frogged three times (wrong color combo, twisting, and skirmish with the cat where wool was partially digested before being thrown-up) but the number four seems to be working for me. Until I get to the yoke, it's pretty boring with knit, knit, knit in the round. The main body color? The dark green, which is not as shiny as it appears in the photo (early morning lighting and a bit of the wrong angle).

Starting with a few key ingredients--"three crab" fish sauce, rice sticks (noodles), peanut oil, garlic, fresh limes, hot sauce, and fresh cilantro from the garden--(this is not all of them, and of course I made a few adjustments to the original recipe--who cooks directly item by item, word by word from a recipe anyway?) and the wonderful recipe from Ruth Reichl's book, Garlic and Sapphires...




was created and eaten with relish.

Just "warm" from the hot sauce, tangy from the fresh lime juice and fresh cilantro added at the last minute.

05 May 2007

welcome to my world!

I introduce to you: da Vinci with the look of trouble.

Da Vinci's footprints to the right as he makes his great escape through the mud this morning to the up-righted pallet leaning against the fence, which acts like a ramp for just such an occasion. On the other side: paradise--two foot tall green grass to graze. My footprint to the left as I follow in hot pursuit trying in desperation to catch him before he sails over the fence, all the while calling frantically "kitten, kitten" like a crazed woman, still in pajamas and sporting "morning hair". Now, he loves the outdoors but he is not the brightest cat and I'm afraid he would forget where he is and that he has a home. This is the cat who will watch you walk through the room but instead of turning his head, will drop his head back, watching you upside down. This is the cat who climbs ladders like we walk up stairs...yes, ladders. This is the cat who can open the front door (we have a handle that pulls down to open...not a doorknob) by jumping up, tapping, and hanging on the handle. This is the cat who will stop everything to be brushed...and brushed...and brushed. This is the cat who eats my sweaters...eats my wool. I'm afraid to put him with sheep.

The wisteria is taking over the side of the house. Check out the fantastic shade it's providing. (This is directed to my daughter who wished for something green and alive on that side of the house when she was at home.)

Oh, the thrill! Oh, the joy! Tomatoes are growing! Sweet summer is approaching with the taste of fresh produce from the garden.