Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This is not the traditional sort of New Year’s Eve post.

It also serves as a sad sort of finish to a more stressful than average year, and I am sorry for that.  But I can’t deny that in some ways it seems fitting.
As I’ve touched on before, my maternal grandmother was a huge influence in my life.  Be it gardening, crafting, cooking, or anything creative, she had a hand in.  Her aesthetic has shaped many of my interests and much of my life as a whole.
And I miss that.  I miss her.  Whether it’s a new project idea, or just when the first flowers bloom in spring, I want to talk to her about it.  Always.
Grief is a strange thing, and her absence is like a weird ache that I’ve sort of gotten used to, a hole that I carefully skirt around.  I keep wondering, aren’t these the things that are supposed to get better with time?  It’s been bothering me more…I want to say lately, but I think it’s been this whole year and I’m just now realizing it.
I was musing over my birthday the other day, and yeah, I know “age is just a number” blah blah blah.  But for a multitude of reasons this number is not one I am happy with.  Maybe without further explanation that seems shallow.  Maybe explanation wouldn’t help either.  I don’t know, it’s just how I feel.
The point is, I couldn’t figure out why the two things seemed connected.  They’ll always have a bit of a link—with my birthday being yesterday and the anniversary of her death today—but it’s been that way for years now and it was never that significant.  Then it finally dawned on me.  My number?  It isn’t a “special” one this year.  But it is significant when you do the right math.
Because this year?
She’s been gone more than half my life.
And I can’t even fathom that.  I don’t understand it.  It seems really impossible, and more painful than ever, and I just don’t know what to do with this realization.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Gift Confusion and Belated Yuletide Wishes

My mother’s gift giving habits are a little…odd.  Not necessarily in a bad way, but still.  She tends to be completely stumped on what to get for everyone and comes up with some interesting solutions.  Case in point:  Last year for Yule I received nothing from her but Hello Kitty stuff.  And I couldn’t help but laugh about that because beyond the fact that she still occasionally refers to me as “the baby” of the family, it seems that she apparently also thinks I am five.

This year she gave me a Hello Kitty dog toy.  I don't have a dog.  Now I don't know what to think.
Anyway, here’s hoping you all had a wonderful Yule, a happy Hibernal Solstice, and/or a very merry winter holiday of your choosing.

Friday, October 31, 2014

In which few things turn out the way I expect.

Yeah, about that…

Beyond being one of the basic facts of life, the unexpected has definitely gone a long way toward being the theme for this year.  So, I suppose I should not have been surprised when fate (and a wasp; long story) cancelled my Halloween plans.
Today was to be a short trek across the autumnal decorated countryside, followed by a much anticipated and very much needed visit with friends.  Instead, it has become a quiet day hobbling around at home, windows full of gloom, dreary skies, and a threat of snow.  I can’t say that I am happy about this development, but I am working my way towards content.
Though the air is too cold and damp to carry the essence of crisp fall leaves, the scent of yeasty bread dough and pumpkin roasting in my kitchen sort of make up for it.  I am rounding out the day working with some lovely fiber, maybe a bit of sewing, and then snuggling up in a spooky blanket with my e-reader.
All in all, the day has not been anywhere near as festive as I’d wanted, but it has been good nonetheless.  Here’s hoping your day is/was fun, entertaining, or at the very least, peaceful.
Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain everyone!

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Version of TGIF

TGIF, for me, currently would translate to “Thank Gods It’s Fall”.  And a truer sentiment has never been expressed.  This summer was…challenging, to put it mildly.

Summer and I have something of a love/hate relationship.  I am vampire pale and prone to illness when overheated.  Needless to say, that particular season and I are not besties.  I’ve come to understand that when June is creeping up, the best I can do is know my limitations, pay attention to them, and try to stay upbeat about what I can manage.  For fucks’ sake, I literally can’t take the heat, and yet every year I plan and implement a garden anyway.  If that doesn’t shine a ray of optimism from my pessimistic soul I don’t know what would.
I suppose if I am being completely honest, I can’t dump the blame entirely on summer, as the issues technically began in the spring.  It just snowballed (ha!) from there.  Late spring was all about a continuation of massive car trouble, money worries, plans getting pushed back, rushing to get the garden in, and what I can see now was also the beginning of a major depressive down-swing.
Then summer hit in full force and brought with it:  delays, crop failures, more canceled plans, many arguments, and weeks of constant noise courtesy of my neighbors’ reno/demo.  And then my old buddy full blown clinical depression dropped in for a visit.  And stayed.
I won’t go into detail, because it’s just not a healthy idea, I’ll just say that after weeks of despondency and truly not-good-thoughts things finally took an upswing, and as abruptly as it descends, the depression finally let up.
But summer wasn’t quite done yet.
I had about a week of “Hey, things are pretty okay…” before catastrophe struck.  I got up one morning with the idea of wanting to make preserves.  I left the house that day solely to head to the fruit stand, and proceeded to become involved in the worst accident I’d ever personally witnessed.  So, there I found myself mid-week in the dregs of August, standing by the side of the interstate in 96° heat, bruised, banged up, bleeding, covered in glass and putting the sunglasses—that I’d just found two car lengths behind my car—back on my head.  All the while staring at my utterly totaled car with the 14 lbs. of peaches in the trunk, and wondering what the fuck.
It was memorable to say the least, and somehow summed up the entire season.
Oh, in case you were wondering, I did get my preserves after all.  My nephew, brother, and mom went to the tow yard the next morning to empty the car and rescue the peaches from the wreckage.  I didn’t get to do more that supervise the jam creation, because…well let’s just say that seat belts and airbags are truly awesome for y’know, staying alive, but suuuuuuuuuck as far as soft tissue and musculature is concerned.  Although, the 60 mph impact might’ve had a lot to do with that, too.
Anyway, my summer was finally closed out by doctors’ visits, numerous insurance phone calls, “new” car hunting, and more physical pain than I’d ever before had to contend with.  Truthfully, thanks to a lot of mind-numbing “taking it easy”, time passing, and physical therapy I am just now starting to head towards feeling normal again.
Now, to be clear, I realize that summer likely isn’t actually to blame for all of this angst and stupidity.  Regardless, I am more thankful for autumn’s arrival than ever before.  I figure, at this point, summer and I will just agree to disagree, have a clean break, and try again (please gods with better results) next year.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pushing Seeds Into the Mud

The last five days have been about nothing but dirt, sweat, plants, and exhaustion.  It seems that every year, towards the end of May, all my months of careful garden planning turn to panic and chaos.  This time was only different in that the obstacles have upped their game a bit.
This year's trouble actually began last year with a broken tiller and lack of funds to replace it.  Granted, it was secondhand (to say the least) and a tad over 40 years old…..but still, broken!  Why?!  <---- sarcasm
Non-surprisingly, that issue did not correct itself over the winter.  After much angst and debate over what to do, it finally dawned on me to get in contact with the gentleman I bought the original tiller from.  As luck would have it, he happened to have another one for sale for an extremely reasonable price.   I swear it is even older than the first (and definitely looks it), but it runs like a charm.
In the meantime, we’d also run into trouble with a dramatically broken lawnmower (don’t ask), and I suppose the weedwacker was feeling left out, because it bit it, too.  And let me just say for the record, cutting the grass with a machete is incredibly stupid……but having the grass at such a height that the machete thing actually works?  Yeah, not fun.  Suffice it to say, there was a period of nearly three weeks that I couldn’t even see the garden beds, let alone get them ready for planting.
But now it’s all FINALLY coming together and nearly everything is planted.  I’m mostly going with what has become standard for my garden:  purple beans, black tomatoes, white cucumbers, mini peppers and more herbs than I can actually find room to plant.  I am also trying winter squash and mini watermelons for the first time this year, so *fingers crossed*
All in all, it’s been a fairly normal (well, my normal anyway) start to the gardening season.  Chaos, angst, dirt-stained fingernails, scratches, scrapes, bruises, and insect bites are pretty much always to be expected.  But all of that is eclipsed by the sheer joy of lots and lots of plants, rocks, wildlife, and thoughts of the bounty still to come from all this hard work.
Now, I don’t suppose there’s any possibility I could hibernate until harvest time?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

All is Fleeting

Have you ever had a project turn out exactly as you’d envisioned? 
I had no idea how that felt until now.

Introducing, Fleeting!

Inspired by all the things I love most about the spring season, Fleeting came about from a bit of autumnal reminiscing about fallen spring flower blossoms.

I knew from the very beginning the exact yarn I wanted for this shawl.  Which is an odd occurrence for me, as deciding on a color is often one of my biggest challenges to starting a project.  Usually by the time I’m halfway through with whatever I am creating, I’ve already decided on half a dozen colors that I want to make another one in.

But not with this project.

I was absolutely set on it being a pale cream, with tones of almost grey to create the necessary shadows.  And I still cannot picture it in anything else.

So, tell me, dear reader, what color/shade/fiber would you use for this shawl?

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open until Saturday, May 31st at 11:59pm EST.  Use the Rafflecopter form above to enter.  As the prize is a pdf, please be sure to leave your email address, Ravelry ID, or some way for me to contact you in your comment!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Demands Versatility

I had several sets of plans for today. 
The first was discarded due to the joyous arrival of my brand new niece. 
The second tossed aside by fickle and less than cooperative spring weather.
And the third was completely decimated by vast, vaaaaaaaast oversleeping.

I don’t know about you, but I am sensing a bit of a theme.


Instead of anything at all that I’d even remotely intended for this space, you get a few snapshots from last week’s completely unexpected field trip.  Seems fitting, right?
Tiny pinecones (and a wayward ribbon tie from my bracelet).
A tapped sugar maple.

The waterflow at Clifton Mill (Clifton, Ohio)

A view of the hillside from an ivy embellished stone tomb.
I hope that your first day of spring was lovely, if perhaps a tad less  disordered than mine.  Then again, I suppose we all need a lesson in versatility every so often.  Either way, Blessed Ostara and Happy Spring Equinox!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

On Surviving the Plague*

Ah, February.  It’s that lovely in between sort of time of year; the snow is melting, temps are fluctuating madly with spring’s quick approach, and all around me is the sound of…….coughing.  And sneezing.  And then there is the  general lingering presence of a vast, VAST overabundance of mucus.  Blech.
***An Obligatory Disclaimer and Cautionary Statement***
I am not a healthcare professional, and I hope that you guys know that you should never take the word of some random chick on the interwebz in regards to….well, anything really, but definitely when it comes to your health.  So, do your research, and remember that natural medicine is not without its quirks.  You never know when something will trigger an allergic reaction, a drug interaction, or just generally not agree with you.  Just….be careful, ‘kay?

Anyway, my go to thing for recovering from the plague**, is Elderberry Syrup.  Great for boosting the immune system to avoid becoming sick in the first place (don’t think for a moment I’m not regretting that bit of procrastination right now), and unlike most cold/cough syrups, this one is actually pretty tasty. 

I’ve always had a good result with the various premade store bought syrups, but, holy crap, are they expensive!   Plus, this is a natural medicine that could not be easier  to make at home.  After trying several recipes over the years, I’ve been left generally unsatisfied, mainly because of the insane level of sweetness most of the syrups impart.  So, how do you cut the sweetness and still have the end result be “syrupy”?  Blueberries!  Subtly sweet, and similar to the elderberries in that they are also high in antioxidants and vitamin C, bluerries  also contain enough pectin that it seemed to be the perfect solution to replace a great deal of the honey. 

Oh, one last note, I really like to add whiskey to my syrup, both because it can help to break up mucus and to improve the shelf life.  It is, of course, entirely optional, and you would likely want to leave it out if you are sensitive to that sort of thing, or making this for kids. 
Elderberry Syrup

1/2 c. dried organic elderberries
2/3 c. frozen organic blueberries
3 c. water
1/3 c. raw (preferably local) honey
1 oz. whiskey (optional)
Combine elderberries, blueberries, and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat until gently simmering, and cook until the mixture is reduced by half (20 to 30 minutes).  Remove from heat and carefully strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve, smooshing as much moisture from the berries as possible.  Discard solids (your backyard birds will be incredibly happy with you if this ends up under their feeder).  Set syrup aside, and allow it to cool to room temperature before stirring in the honey and whiskey.  Transfer to a bottle with a tight sealing lid, and store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Approximately 16 oz.
Daily, to boost immune system: 1 tsp.
To help get over cold/flu: up to 3 tbs. over 24 hours
*It’s probably not actually the plague.
**Almost certainly not the plague....