Category Archives: nature

Summer’s Bounty and French Heritage

In summer, it’s hard to pick up a crochet hook, no matter how many ideas may be lurking in one’s head. I might manage to work a few rows every couple of days, but there’s just so many pressing activities that can only be done during summer that crocheting gets pushed aside or stacked upon. It’s just the way it is.                           

And this is what consumes most of my time during the summer. Because of the heat, I’m out there by 7 a.m. most mornings. I’m always anxious to see what’s taken place during the night. While I was sleeping, the garden was growing (fyi….a watermelon vine can grow 12″ in the night), and it never ceases to amaze me to see the changes that take place overnight. I work until the sun peaks over the treetops and the temperature feels as if it goes up 10 degrees immediately. Then I pick up my basket and hoe to head for the house to begin processing the daily harvest. I try to do this during the morning while the house stays relatively cool, even with the stove on. Later, in the evening, I’ll be back in the garden, weeding and watering, until it’s too dark to see.

My paternal heritage is French, and while I’ll most probably never set foot on French soil, I can feel the tug of my roots in the earth and the fruit it bears. To the French, eating well is very nearly a religion. I’m reading a book now called The French At Table… which accounts the history & reasons for their love of good food. So far, it’s an enjoyable and funny book that I would recommend to other Francophiles.

Traditionally, the French (as well as other Europeans) take a loooong lunch break, which can be as long a 2 hours or more and can even include a short nap. I can relate to that tradition & have taken to insisting that lunchtime is slow time. As I explained to DD, it’s about taking the time to savor the blessings of the earth and the fruits of our labor. We are thankful to have such abundance.

It pleases me to look upon my garden. It also makes my mouth water, thinking of the sweet, golden corn that will soon share my plate with fresh, juicy tomatoes and crispy fried okra. It comforts me knowing that my pantry & freezer will hold most of the bounty, to be enjoyed long after summer has passed and the crochet begins again in earnest.

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Introducing the Loxodrome Hat

As I was saying…….

LOL, I told you I was going to be busy. I didn’t expect to be so busy that I didn’t post for over a month! But a farm in the springtime can be a busy, busy place. During my silent interim here, I’ve canned 37 pints and frozen 2 gallon bags of snap beans and frozen 2 gallons of yellow squash. The tomatoes are beginning to ripen, but we eat them so fast there’s not enough left to can, although I’ve promised DH at least a few cans of salsa. I expect the okra will be the next to be harvested and canned/frozen, followed by the corn. And when that happens, you won’t hear from me again for awhile 🙂

BUT…..there has been crochet!! I did manage to design this hat during those rare times when I wasn’t picking beans or canning or dead asleep from sheer exhaustion. I’m proud to introduce the Loxodrome Hat.

 A loxodrome is a spherical spiral and what better way to translate that than into a hat. The pattern is easy enough for a beginning crocheter and produces a whirling (heh) fashion accessory.

I’ve several more ideas waiting to be worked up as time permits. There’s a bag on one hook and a baby cardi on another. All I need is more time……….

No Yarn But Lots of Spring Fever

As you’ll notice, it’s been a month since my last post. I hesitated writing anything as I’m trying to keep this blog focused on crochet as much as possible. But I’ve been in a crochet rut. Actually, more of a crochet gulley, if you want to know the truth. That’s not due to lacking project ideas….I have a bucketful of those. I guess I’m suffering from crochet burnout…….that, and a healthy dose of Spring Fever.

 If you look closely, in the middle of the pic you’ll see a tiny green gem that, someday, will turn into a globe of juicy, red sweetness. The smell of a tomato plant is one of my earliest memories, I daresay as far back as my infancy. I have a picture of my Mother, standing in a garden of tomato plants. I don’t remember her growing other vegetables in her garden, but I do remember the kitchen windowsill lined with ripening tomatoes. I can just barely remember now…I must have been four years old….Mama showing me which ones were ready to eat and letting me eat all I wanted. Her health began to decline a couple years later and she never gardened again, but to this day, the smell of a tomato plant takes me back to those early, carefree days of my childhood.

While the yarn and hook have been sitting neglected, I’ve been outside planting and mowing and pruning. We planted corn, okra, watermelon, canteloupe (Charentais!!!), cukes, squash, snap beans and shell beans. I was beginning to think it would never quit raining long enough to get the crops in before the temps went to 90+, but we managed to get it planted in the last couple of weeks. New to the garden this year are shell beans. I’m trying to get more beans in our diet….did you know beans help lower cholesterol?…..but wanted more variety than our usual pintos. This year, I planted Black Valentine, Jacob’s Cattle and Vermont Cranberry beans. They’re all heirloom varieties, some dating as far back as the 1700s. I’ve learned that, sometimes, old beats new & improved hands-down. In my veggie garden, only the tomatoes are hybrids because they actually do best in my environment. Everything else is open pollinated.

With warmer weather comes home improvement projects. I can’t decide whether to do the bathroom or kitchen first; DH is anxious to redo the kitchen cabinets but the bathroom is in dire need of a facelift. Maybe I’ll just tackle the bathroom while he works on the kitchen. Or maybe I’ll just sit on the bench under the oak tree and watch the chickadees 🙂

 

 

Sunday Morning Pancakes

My Dad always made pancakes on Sunday mornings. It became a tradition that I carry on to this day. When I was a kid, I had a dog named Lucky who was a medium-sized terrier with boundless energy. Our eat-in kitchen had a picture window that was about 3′ above floor level…meaning that the window was about 4′ from actual ground level. I’m convinced that terriers have springs in their hind legs, because Lucky could jump high enough to look in that kitchen window as we were eating Sunday breakfast. We’d sit there, laughing between bites of pancake, as Lucky’s black and white head would appear just over the bottom of the window about every 15 seconds. This only happened on Sunday mornings, mind you, and the reason is because Daddy always cooked a couple pancakes for Lucky, too. These many decades later, I still smile when I think of that head popping up and down to see what was going on in the kitchen and if his pancakes were coming soon. These days, my dog Pepper sits between our chairs, on his hind legs, begging for his Sunday morning pancakes 🙂

I’m sitting here with the window open to a symphony of birdsong; cardinals, bluejays, sparrows, purple martins, woodpeckers, mockingbirds….all seem to be rejoicing for the return of Spring.  I had to cover the tomato plants Friday night for fear of frost and hopefully that’s the last of the serious cold weather. I’m hoping to plant beans and squash this week; corn, okra and melons will have to wait for warmer temps.

My sweetie is building a kitchen pantry for me….an upright, shallow depth, 2-door, freestanding pantry 🙂  I won’t have to hunt for canned goods or lose a box of crackers that have been hidden under piles of other groceries. We’re planning to start full-blown kitchen remodeling in the coming months and the anticipation is killing me. It’s definitely time for change.

I’ve almost completed the baby project I wrote about in my last post. My crochet time will probably get cut in the next few weeks with gardening and remodeling projects taking more of my time. Even with the days getting longer, there still doesn’t seem to be enough time to do everything.

I’m glad for the time change. My body seems more in tune with daylight saving time, I can’t seem to stay awake past 8 p.m. during standard time….which makes for very short days, indeed. But now,  the clock says it already after 9 a.m., which means it’s time to go cook pancakes.

What’s Blooming?

Living in a semi-tropical climate definitely has it’s advantages, the best being that we can have something blooming in our gardens nearly year-round. November and December can be rather bland months bloom-wise on the gulf coast, but holly berries and rose hips make up for the lack of blooms and add a bit of color to the landscape.

 spring-006-small.jpg We start getting antsy in January when the catalogs begin arriving. By February, we start seeing the first blooms of the new year. Actually, in my garden, I smelled the blooms before I saw them….a fragrance so heavenly as to be nearly intoxicating. I speak of Carolina Jasmine and it catches me by surprise every year. The fragrance can drift for 100′ and lift one’s spirits in an instant.

spring-001-small.jpgWithin a week, the narcissus begin their show. It’s fragrance is more subtle….a few stems in a bud vase will catch your attention as you walk by. I’ve always wanted a field of yellow daffodils like in the movie ‘Dr. Zhivago’, but alas, they don’t like my clay soil and I’m a lazy gardener. The narcissus do quite well here and are less fussy.

spring-003-small.jpg This one really surprised me. The bottlebrush started blooming in the middle of February!? As I said, I’m a lazy gardener so my record-keeping traits leave much to be desired, but it seems awfully early for this one to bloom. My tree is 15′ tall and in another week or two, it will look like a 15′ flame of red. An eye-catcher, for sure. I have plans to buy several more to plant along the east property line; they make fine windbreaks and are evergreen to boot 🙂

spring-007-small.jpg Finally, although they’re not colorful or fragrant, these dead leaves are another sign of imminent Spring. Considered an evergreen, live oak trees do shed their leaves, in early spring, right before the new leaves appear in a flush of light green haze. The trees literally rain leaves….buckets of leaves fall overnight. I’ve given up trying to keep the patio cleared. It’s a small inconvenience compared to the pleasure of these magnificent trees.

We spotted the first Purple Martin scout last week. We have to fight off the starlings every year around this time. They’re devilish birds that will lay their eggs in another bird’s nest, their young to be raised by the host birds. Sparrows will nest in the martin house as well, but the martins don’t seem to mind them. Starlings are a different story; the martins will shy away from the house if starlings are present. So, I keep the Red Ryder by the front door for making the starlings understand they’re not welcome here.

spring-009-small.jpg In crochet news, despite a sinus infection and accompanying migraine headache, I’m working the Elann Peruvian Highland Wool. Colors in the pic aren’t quite accurate (a little too bright), but in reality are as beautiful together as I’d hoped they’d be. I have come across a couple of knots which haven’t worried me, and some strange white cat-hair-like fibers which do worry me because it looks like a) I own a cat (which I don’t), or b) a cat got caught in the fiber-spinning process. I’m supposing it’s natural because they’re in every skein, but they but me enough to pick them out as I work. Hmm.

Enough rambling for today. Time to prostrate myself on the couch with more pain medication. Happy Wednesday!

Looking For Some Cheer

After a few days of Spring-tease weather, it turned windy and gloomy again today. The rain was blowing nearly sideways as powerful thunderstorms passed through. I had to bring my little garden seedlings indoors so they wouldn’t get beaten to death. Thankfully, the storm passed quickly and did no harm but it’s put a damper on outdoor activities, at least for today. In the meantime, I’ve been doing some blog browsing and thought I’d share a couple of things that caught my interest.

 Are you getting a little tired of winter gloom and want to see something bright and cheerful? Check out Laura’s Flower Garden motif blanket. She found the pictures buried in her Flickr collection while doing some Spring cleaning. And don’t miss her handy Tutorials page. We love tutorials 🙂

For more bright cheer, check out Alice’s Rainbow Blanket. The colors will surely bring out the kid in you and put a smile on your face.

Don’t miss Kim Guzman’s latest designs in her Kids Collection. She’s offering the patterns at a special pre-publication price through February 20. These designs are done in traditional crochet (rather than Tunisian crochet) and her talent clearly shows in her pieces.

Here’s wishing for sunshine tomorrow and an early Spring, in spite of what a stupid groundhog says.

Storybook Moon

crescent-moon.jpg I love the crescent-shaped moon. It reminds me of the illustrations in the books of my childhood and that’s why I call it ‘the storybook moon’. It’s a beautiful end to a beautiful day. In spite of our brutal summers, our winters on the Texas gulf coast are short and relatively mild. But today was downright Spring-like. It was a day for pruning roses and buying tomato plants at the garden center and cleaning winter’s debris from the flower beds and grilling chicken and making potato salad. But I know I mustn’t get too anxious because I’m sure winter isn’t ready to leave completely…..not just yet. Still, it was a day for being outdoors and soaking up some Vitamin D 🙂

I’m anxiously awaiting an order from Elann for Peruvian Highland Wool in Celadon, Mallard, Chestnut, Spiced Wine and Harvest Heather. The anticipation’s killing me. Like I don’t have piles of yarn already. It’s an addiction I tell ya……a serious addiction.

Yesterday was special….my sweetie turned 62. The man at the Social Security office told him ‘Congratulations’ when we’d completed the application process. We’re so looking forward to indulging in the things we enjoy most; traveling & visiting museums (him) and botanical gardens (me), camping & fishing. It’s a nice reward after years of hard work.

As Tasha Tudor would say, ‘Take joy’. Have a great weekend.