A Rough Start

This week start has not been a smooth one. For some time, we have observed the “newer” of our two vehicles, it is only 13 years old compared to the almost 16 year old one, has been not running well and leaking oil. We wouldn’t drive it farther than town and kept our fingers crossed that if it broke down, that daughter would be available to get us home or to a rental car location. Because it is the larger vehicle, we loaded the trash and recycling in it yesterday morning to take down to the “Convenience Center.” Don’t you love that as a name for the fenced in area with the dumpsters and recycle trailer boxes in it? As soon as hubby put the beast in reverse, I could smell the clutch and suggested we take both cars and leave the Xterra at our local shop for diagnosis and state inspection. The decision was made to take it the next time we had to go out and not yesterday. The garbage was dispatched, the package I had that needed to be dropped off at the USPS was dropped off, we drove into town to get lunch and a birthday card for a grandson, but didn’t make it home. As we started up the first hill, the smell got stronger, the car got slower, and before we got to the top, there were no gears that the car would go in. A call to daughter, but she was an hour away headed home. A call to the local mechanic and he sent a masked driver in their “Shuttle” van and another driver in the tow truck to haul it in. Once we get an estimate, we have to decide if a 13 year old car, leaking oil, with 246,000+ miles on it is worth the repair, leaving us at least for the moment with the 16 year old car with 240,000 miles on it as our sole transportation.

Last night as I prepared to address the birthday card, I realized that one of my favorite pens was missing. I can’t find it anywhere. Usually it is clipped to the small leather notebook cover that I carry in my bag, but it isn’t there. Isn’t in the bag. Isn’t stuck down the cracks of my chair. It has at least temporarily gone missing. I’m sure it will turn up at some point, in a car, a pocket, or some place I normally wouldn’t set it down.

Also yesterday as I continued to knit on my fingerless mitts, I realized that somehow, I had crossed yarn balls and both mitts were knit from one ball, linking them together with a piece of yarn too short to just cut and weave in, so I had to begin tinking (knitting backwards) for a row on one mitt and another row on both. After doing that, I decided I didn’t like the thumb gusset on the fingers down pattern as I tried one on for fit, so I pulled the needle and frogged (ripped out stitches) for many rows to get back to where the thumb stitches were picked up. Then tediously and carefully picked up the stitches again in an order that would still allow me to knit two at a time, knit a couple of rows to make sure there were no missed stitched and all the stitches were turned the right way and decided to work the wrist up vanilla pattern I always use with a classic thumb gusset that will allow me to knit a real thumb. I am probably back about to the total length I was before yesterday’s error.

During this reknit project, the television was on to the news and talking heads that analyze everything going on and I was appalled at how a congresswoman who had been in the Capitol during last week’s siege would throw a toddler tantrum over not being allowed to carry a gun into the chambers, and how dozens of the rioters from last week and people interviewed at Trump’s bazaar charade of a visit to the Alamo and his incendiary speech there yesterday, exactly parrot his language to the exact phraseology. And they call those who don’t agree with them sheep. They call themselves patriots and true Americans, yet they attack our halls of government and threaten our lawmakers.

Next disaster, a relatively minor one today. Lunch was prepared, just grilled cheese sandwiches still sitting on the griddle pan on the stove, the plates with pickles served out beside them and I called hubby down to eat. In reaching up to get a glass for my water, he knocked another to the Silestone counter below the cabinet and it exploded sending glass shooting across the stove top, the adjacent counter where the plates were waiting, and all over the floor. After glass was cleaned up, lunch tossed in the garbage, counter tops and griddle and dishes washed, I started over.

On the positive side, the hydroponic herb garden that Son 2 and family gave me for Christmas has sprouted all 6 herbs. I check each day to see how much growth has occurred. The dill, thyme, and parsley are putting out secondary leaves, The mint and basils are above the rims of their planting baskets. That was such a great gift for a gardener suffering the off season doldrums that houseplants just don’t satisfy.

Back to chores, knitting, and spinning. Hmmm, I wonder where the pen is?

Yes, I am alive and well

A friend reminded me that I had been silent for a few days. Time spent with hubby and via phone and video chat with family, time spent finishing my December spinning challenge, trying to finish a shawl as a finished project for the same challenge, and getting ready for the start of the new year, spinning challenges and mentally preparing for even more isolation as we are seeing about a dozen new cases of COVID in our county each day (56+% of the cases in the county since December 1) and between people travelling and gathering for Christmas and New Years, it will get worse.

When I went to the Farmers Market on the Saturday before Christmas, part of my goal was to obtain a Christmas roast for our Christmas dinner, we still have Thanksgiving turkey in the freezer. The vendor apologized that his abattoir had not gotten his latest beef back to him, but he expected to pick it up on Monday. He made a stop on his way home and let me buy a 3 pound rib roast. It was a much more expensive cut than I would usually purchase and wanted it to be cooked perfectly. When we have family here or that we can visit with, we usually have Italian food at Daughter’s on Christmas Eve, and Turkey, ham, and all the sides on Christmas day here. As a younger married, I would prepare either Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, my Dad doing the other and extended family gathered. The Christmas dinner was always on Christmas eve and we grazed on left overs and other goodies on Christmas Day. Traditionally, I make Huevos Rancheros for hubby on Christmas and New Years Day mornings. Because it was just the two of us, I did prepare the breakfast then later in the day, prepared the roast that I had seasoned the day before. It was perfect and delicious. We have eaten about half of it over two days, the other half frozen to be pulled out in a week or so and enjoyed again.

We woke to a white Christmas with continued snow showers all day. Gifts had been exchanged with our children and grand children via distanced meetings or mail. We celebrated with just the two of us. My gifts included items lovingly chosen based on my interests, fiber to spin, a Jumbo flyer for my wheel, a travel Lazy Kate, a leather tooled pocket notebook cover, counter top herb garden with grow light, hand made pottery planter made by DIL and bee barn from them as well, wool socks and a wool tee shirt to keep me warm. It was a calm, lazy day filled with too much food, but no in person family except hubby.

My December spinning got side tracked when I started knitting the Peacock shawl, but I still finished with plenty for the challenge.

Yesterday was spent plying yarn, the “Redbud” ended up about 450 yards of light fingering weight and the Jacob (the gray) is this month’s and last month’s plied together to about 115 yards of light fingering weight.

The fiber hubby gave me is the left of this photo and will be the breed I begin my January challenges with, both the “Something New” challenge and a Breed Blanket.

After several frigid icy days, the sun is out and the snow and ice are melting, the temperature finally above 40 degrees, so we ventured out to take a walk, figuring the paved rail grade being the safest path. For the most part it was clear or wet, but there were some areas like this below.

Some of the areas that looked wet were black ice, but it was good to get out and stretch our legs and get some fresh air.

I have about half an ounce of yarn left before I have to use the rest to do the picot bind off. I’m hoping it is enough to finish the repeat I am on.

I’m very pleased with how the gradient blends until it gets to the purples and the gradient isn’t as subtle there, almost like the purples were reversed, but I spun this yarn on spindles and was very careful to keep them in the order they came off the braid. It is still a pretty shawl. Once finished, washed and blocked, it will go in my shop.

I hope you had a safe Christmas and will have a safe New Year.

Late Autumn Walks to Winter Storms

Over the weekend, it was light jacket warm for walks in the National Forest at the Pond and up at the Conservancy.

Our mountain is an alluvial field from the last ice age and there are many boulder fields. Farms that grow hay and corn for their cattle have had to clear rocks and boulders to be able to cultivate. On some trails, you may walk through wooded sections with few visible rocks then go through a boulder field. In the boulder fields you often see a tree that looks like it is eating a rock, a tree that has come up under the edge of a boulder and then grown around it. They fascinate me as a biologist.

After getting home from our hike yesterday, it was warm enough to sit on the back deck and shell the dried beans saved for seed to be used in the spring garden.

Many of the pods were empty or held only a couple of seed, some full with 8 or more seed, plenty for two plantings in our garden and granddaughter’s garden as well.

As the temperature dropped overnight, it rained and rained. The culvert still has not been opened by VDOT, so the driveway took another hit. I refuse to grade the driveway again until the culvert is opened as it will be futile. The high for today occurred just after midnight and has fallen all day. As the rain ended, the wind picked up and has ripped at the house all day. The chickens came out in the rain this morning, looked for scratch and retired back into the coop for the rest of the day. We are facing a frigid night and a winter storm on Wednesday. Winter storm = freezing rain, snow, sleet, ice (they don’t know), it is a safe term to use in winter when it is going to precipitate and be cold. The prediction currently is 2 to 7 inches of snow with several tenths of an inch of ice. We will just hunker down and build fires in the woodstove and fireplace to help keep the house warm and hope the ice doesn’t take the power out. This early in the season, whatever falls won’t last more than a day or so before it is melted. About a dozen years ago, we got 22″ of snow on the last day of school before winter break and it wasn’t gone when we got another 18″ about a week later. That is not typical here, especially that early in the winter.

Hopefully, we are going to have a socially distanced meet up on the weekend with Son 1 and our grandson, maybe DIL if she isn’t working and hand off soap I have made for them to use as gifts and their Christmas gifts as they won’t be spending this Christmas with us.

The seed catalogs have begun to arrive. My go to one, the first to arrive. Granddaughter and daughter have been tasked with deciding what they want to plant this year so that I can begin planning for the two gardens and getting any additional seed that I haven’t saved from last year. Maybe by garden time, we will have been able to get COVID vaccines and I will be able to help or at least visit her garden. Garden catalogs make for great winter reading and dreaming about the goodies that will be grown for the next year. Now it is time to hibernate and listen to the wind howl.