Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

We are seeing and feeling very mild symptoms of other’s woes. The smoke from wildfires of the west has extended beyond the east coast, I have read, all the way to Europe. We are a few hundred miles west of the east coast, but this was our sun yesterday early evening.

That is not light cloud cover, it is smoke in the upper atmosphere. We can’t smell it and I don’t think it has affected our air quality but it is devastating to think of the infernos that can produce enough smoke to haze the skies of the east coast and beyond. Today we are getting the very outer bands of what was Hurricane Sally that deluged and flooded the Gulf Coast. We have no wind and mostly light rain which is welcome. After a very wet summer, it turned dry and it hasn’t rained in a couple of weeks, crisping the falling leaves, those ones that drift down before the Autumn colors begin, still a month or so off.

The recommendation is not to leave houseplants out when the temperatures fall below about 45f. It hasn’t gotten there yet, but the next few nights dip into the low 40’s to upper 30’s. The larger plants will be gathered near the door and covered with a sheet or large plastic bag, the succulents have been returned to their winter locations in front of the south facing French doors and the kitchen window sill. They will probably go back outside in a week or so when this hint of fall passes. There are two large hanging planters of Spider Plant. I may cut the babies and root them to restart those pots next year and let the winter cold kill off the parent plants. They are awkward to bring in to the house for the winter and look pretty scraggly now anyway. There is no threat of frost, which would be record breakingly early, so I’m not concerned about the vegetable garden, it should have another month or more of growing time. For our Anniversary last February, hubby gave me a thimble sized rose in a little Lady Bug holder. When it finished blooming, I repotted it into an 8″ ceramic pot and it has lived on the back deck steps all summer and has produced two or three blooms repeatedly. I need to plant it in a garden bed so it has time to produce a good root system before the first frost. I fear if I bring it back in for the winter, I will lose it. The grape vine that was stripped of all of it’s leaves is fighting back and not ready to settle in for the winter.

There are new leaves coming out all over the vines. I’m sure as soon as they get any size on them, the midnight marauders will find them again and strip it bare. It wouldn’t be difficult to run the hot wire out around the plum and grape vines, but would make mowing that area more difficult and I would have to develop a new habit to change my path to the chicken coop and then be careful not to back into it when gathering eggs. Maybe I could use step in posts and turn off the solar battery when I need to mow and just move the wire temporarily, that is if we ever get our mowers back from the repair shop.

After thinking that the winter had killed my fig planted last year, it has grown vigorously and is now about 4 feet tall and full. Before frost, I will shelter it better than last year. Last year I filled a wire ring around it with old hay, but that wasn’t enough. When it loses it’s leaves, I will hammer in 4 T-posts and use the translucent corrugated plastic that is on the failing chicken tractor to build a temporary greenhouse around it then fill that with hay and cover the top with burlap or an empty feed sack. I really want it to produce next year. On the driveway hill, we planted forsythia, lilacs, peonies, a dogwood, and a crepe myrtle at least a dozen years ago. The crepe myrtle has never done anything, looking like a foot tall mass of twigs, until this year. This year it actually grew to about 6 feet and bloomed. If the weather prognosticators are correct, we are going to have a wet, mild winter. If that is true, I should get figs next year, another sign of the climate change that so many deny is occurring. Maybe my grandchildren will be planting olives and citrus in the mountains of Virginia when they are my age.

When walking up to the mailbox yesterday, I saw my first “woolly bear” caterpillar on the driveway. As legend goes, the longer the black band, the colder and snowier the winter and if the tail end is black, the end of winter will be colder. He was less than a quarter black on the head end, so if I were to believe in his prediction, the weather prognosticators are correct.

When I posted yesterday about returning to my beginnings on spinning, I failed to post a photo I had taken.

The top skein is my very first spindle spun yarn. At two ply, it is a gnarly, knobby 2 or 3 wraps per inch. The red skein below is the most recent spindle spun skein I made, it is smooth, even, and 24 wraps per inch. I will never give up that first skein.

And There She Goes Again

Fiber equipment, I think I am settled then stumble on to a spindle or distaff that just yells my name. I keep my flock/herd of spindles to 5, 3 that I use regularly and two that live in my living history basket to demonstrate the different types and styles. If I were doing more living history, which is on hold during the virus, I would likely have several other styles that people could handle. The three I use are all Jenkins Turkish spindles. I have had others, but if I find one that I like the wood more, or the weight is in my preferred range, one leaves for the new one to come. They vary in size from tiny to small with one in the middle. The tiny lives in a 4 ounce tea tin in a custom made drawstring bag in my “take it everywhere” tote and gets used when I’m passenger in the car or waiting in the car during dental or doctor’s appointments. The medium small is my go to spindle, used with my first ring distaff holding my fiber. The new small one is the size I ply on and maybe since this one is lighter than the one I sold, I will be able to spin on it as well. The second distaff is because I have learned to use the ring distaff and it takes strain off of my wrists as I spin, so I wanted a second one to put with the tiny spindle in my bag.

This is a return to the beginning as I first learned to spin on a drop spindle, long before I purchased and learned to spin on a wheel. It has become more difficult for me to knit without pain, but spindle spinning doesn’t bother me. Now I just need an outlet for the yarn I am creating.

Sunday, Sunday

Our television is in our loft which has three windows plus two double dormer windows across the vaulted ceiling over the living room, so the large open space can be very bright when the shades are up. As a result, the Roman shades on the loft windows stay closed. Yesterday was the first NFL games of the season and hubby had the TV on from 1 p.m. until long after I left for bed. I’m not much of a football fan, or television at all. I played in the garden for as long as the heat and humidity allowed, weeding and harvesting, bringing in a very full basket and an armload of produce and basil.

I sat at the dining room table and stripped the basil to dry in another basket, sorted out the beans from the peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos. Then brined a quart of Jalapenos, strung the Thai peppers to dry.

Then filling my iced tea cup, I came up to spin or knit while football played on. I mentioned that the shades stay drawn so there is no glare on the TV which makes for poor lighting for knitting, but it was just basic ribbing on for the bottom of a grand daughter’s sweater. I alternated knitting a few rows, then spun some yardage on the spindles. The old wrist break and the arthritis it has caused, prevents me from knitting for very long any more. Spinning on the spindles doesn’t seem to bother it.

After the first game series ended, I went down to make hubby’s favorite meal, homemade enchiladas and tacos which involves frying tortillas into taco shape, shredding cheese, dicing onion, making the enchilada sauce, so a fairly intensive and time consuming meal, as the football games continued above.

After the meal was completed and cleaned up, left over beans, sauce, and taco meat packaged up for the freezer, I returned to the loft. Only I put on my headphones to block the games and continued with my crafts. As it got darker and more difficult to see what I was doing, I realized that three rows back, about half a round in, I made an error, knitting when I should have purled and thus the ribbing was messed up. Too tired to continue with it and not wanting to try to rip back three rows and picking up 134 stitches in the dark room, I tossed it in my basket, spun for a while longer and retired to bed with my book.

This morning in the brighter light, I surveyed the damage.

For some odd reason, it was half a round and only in the row down three rows, so this morning, I dropped each stitch back three rows one at a time and picked them back up correctly. It may have taken longer to do that than to just frog three rows and pick up the stitches, but the yarn is superwash, so slick, the knit not very tight and I didn’t want to risk having to frog all 2 1/2″ and starting over. At any rate, I can continue knitting the rib for another half inch then begin on the body of the sweater. This sweater has a pouch and hood like a hoodie sweatshirt, so the fiddly pouch will have to be picked up soon. I have knit this sweater at least a dozen times in various sizes for daughter and her kiddos, but that pouch always causes me pause, plus I need two needles the same size and only have 1 so I will borrow one from daughter, after all, the sweater is for her daughter.

The eggplant purchased at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday was salted, wept, and brined to ferment on the counter for several days. I had fermented eggplant a few years ago at a fiber retreat, it was made by a friend and I hadn’t thought about it for a while until an online friend made some. Since eggplant is like a sponge and absorbs flavors, I used fresh basil, fresh oregano, minced Thai and serano peppers, and crushed garlic to flavor it. It should be delicious in a salad with Mediterranean food in a few days.