What to Do With Sixty Four Acres

It was just about a year ago that it dawned on us that we were probably going to have to move down to Texas and take care of the sixty four acres we inherited.  After trying to sell it for three years we had no other option, it needed maintenance.  What I didn’t know then was that I had flowing in my veins an inheritance that was rooted in the soil.  My grandfather was a farmer as the generations before him and my grandmother planted flowers on any bare patch of grass she could find. Zinnias

The first inkling that I had this love of dirt inside of me was when, after throwing out zinnia seeds there were suddenly zinnias popping up out of the earth.  Something was unearthed in me that day.

Pear Tree

Today is the first day of spring and it has most certainly arrived in East Texas.  My pear trees are blooming and my dad tells me that with the amount of blossoms on each I will have an abundant crop.  I will harvest those pears and make some pear preserves as my grandmother used to make.  And, I will spread those preserves on biscuits using my grandfather’s recipe.  He made the best biscuits ever.

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I thought about my grandmother today and her love of planting flowers.  I looked out over the many acres out there at my disposal.  A blank slate so to speak.  I thought about that first packet of zinnia seed I threw in the ground last September and I had an idea flicker through my mind.  What if I planted rows and rows of zinnias out there with my garden.  I pictured it something like this:

Zinnia

Zinnias are supposedly easy to grow.  Growing zinnias is something I can do with part of this sixty-four acres.  A blank slate painted beautiful with colorful zinnias.

farmersmarketflowers5-of-6I will fill blue mason jars with zinnias and they will adorn my tables.  They will adorn the tables of my friends, too.  The idea is growing on me and I like it more and more.8287372143691bc10659717a6bb872c0

Yes, I like this idea and I think it would have made my grandmother smile.

Sleepy Little Texas Town

A courthouse in the middle of a sleepy southern town, not unlike many other town squares in the south, but this one is in my sleepy town.  This is where we are for the time being, at least until we get my father-in-law’s house sold. I walked around the square this morning on well worn brick sidewalks and tried to take it all in with my camera. We don’t know how long we will be down here but enjoying our stay in this small community in East Texas.

My Little Town

I felt a little like I had stepped back into an Andy Griffith from the sixties, the episode where you transition from black-and-white to color.
My Little Town

There was no sign of Andy socializing with male friends in the Main Street barber shop but I half expected barber Floyd Lawson to step out for a smoke.
My Little Town

When I saw this bicycle I remembered Opie’s bicycle. I always pictured that bike painted red. Do you remember how he tested his father’s parenting skills episode after episode?

Antique stores lining the square made me think of the service station attendants and cousins Gomer Pyle and Goober Pyle, what names! I even flashed back to seeing these kind of signs when I was a young girl.
My Little TownDo you remember back this far?  Prince Albert in a can? Anyone?

My Little TownThere was the fu-fu side of the square, you know, the sidewalk with the cute little boutique shops?
My Little Town

with cutesy decorated birdhouse entrances …
My Little Town

And then there was the artsy ghetto down a side street that popped me right back into present time color, no polaroids here.
My Little Town My Little Town
Art matters, yes it does, doesn’t it?

My Little Town//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
 
My Little Town
Coming off the side street I bounced between time zones..
I didn’t see the local Maybury drunkard, Otis Campbell, but I’m pretty sure he will be attending the Haunted House at the Athen’s Brewery on Halloween.
 

Taboo or Not Taboo

The much anticipated annual Boo Knits Mystery Halloween Knitalong has started today, October 1,  and Clue 1 was waiting for me in my Ravelry pattern library when I woke up this morning.

The designer says “Taboo is a top down, crescent shaped, shawl using two colours. It is lacy, beaded, dramatic and magical!”

Taboo

I’m using some beautiful Sundara Silk Lace that was gifted to me years ago.  The color is called Voices of the Sea.  Its been tucked away waiting for the perfect project to come along and I believe Taboo will be that special project.
Taboo Yarn
The pattern calls for 10 grams of variegated yarn and I chose Miss Babs Wild Silk. My color is called Irises and complements the teal nicely.  The size 6 beads are supposed to match that teensy bit of variegated yarn and I think the Dyna-Mites transparent rainbow purple  beads will be just about right.
Taboo Beads

It is not too late to join the fun …. here is a link for more information.

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RELEASE DATES
Clue One – October 1
Clue Two – October 7
Clue Three – October 10
Clue Four – October 14

 

1,600 Beads

It took an eternity to knit and is the designer ironically named it Eternity.  I wonder if she knew it would take an eternity to knit in 1,600 beads.  The first half of it was smooth sailing but the border, well……you can see for yourself.
Eternity Acero, the yarn I knit it with, was 60% Wool, 20% Rayon, 20% Silk and was different from any yarn I had ever used.  I had great concerns about whether or not I could give the shawl a ‘thuggish’ blocking and didn’t know if, once blocked, it would hold its shape.
This was the first time I used a triangular bead and I see why this brand is popular amongst many lace knitters.

The beads I chose for this shawl are Miyuki 5/0 Triangles in the color 1139, silver lined crystal…..beautiful!

Since they are slightly bigger than a 6/0 round seed bead they seem heavier although……it may just be that there are simply so many beads on this shawl.  At any rate, I bought these in bulk because this clear silver lined triangle is a generic bead that will work with many colors.  This definitely will not be the last time I use this brand and style.
Eternity It seems I left my blocking wires at my ‘Colorado Mountain Home’ and didn’t pack them when I packed for the now affectionately called ‘Texas Ranch’ (although I’m pretty sure you need to have cows to be a real ranch).  That discovery was a moment of despair because I had just finished casting off umpteen little picots that I knew were going to have to be pinned individually in the absence of wires.  I managed, it took the better part of a morning but I got it done.
Eternity
Eternity
I’m happy with how the shawl named Eternity turned out.  It blocked out fine and the weight of the beads will keep it there.  This is a special shawl to me for a several reasons.  Firstly, the yarn is a Texas yarn that I bought in Estes Park a few years ago and is from a town my parents used to live in.  Second, the shawl was knit in Texas where we are temporarily living while we try to sell the house we inherited. Thirdly, and most important to me, I try to live my life with an eternal perspective ever before me.
Eternity
Hubby and I do not know why it has taken so long to sell this beautiful home but we both know that in light of eternity this little ‘time out’ from our regular lives in Colorado serves a purpose that maybe we don’t need to know.  One thing is for sure, I’m enjoying the time down here with family nearby and the warmer temperatures have been a nice change.

3 Terrific Reasons to Have a Fiber Room

Fiber Cave

Men have their ‘men caves’, right?  Well, I think women fully deserve to have ‘women’ caves.  Here are three reasons why:

1. KNITTING – I started out as knitter, as a sock knitter.  The yarn stash grew, a collection of needles began and all my ‘tools’ were hanging out in every corner of the house.  I broadened my knitting horizons and all so needed more tools and more fiber.  When fiber buddies told me the next step would be spinning I said,  “Nope, not me!  There are too many things I want to knit.”   So, it surprised me a bit when I bought a spinning wheel three years ago at a the Salida Fiber Festival.


2.  SPINNING –  I found I truly love it.  There is just something so very relaxing about having fiber flow through your hands and become, gasp, yarn.  It is exciting to see how the colors play together.

Paper Roses

I started with a Schacht Ladybug but soon after traded her in for what I really wanted, the beautiful Schacht Matchless. I named her Betsy.

Matchless

 

The braids of fiber are so very lovely, too and it is hard not to collect them.  They look so pretty hanging on door knobs but you can’t really do that if you don’t have your own little cave because people will think you are a bit odd.

Fiber Cave

For the past two years I said I would only knit and spin but I absolutely would never have a desire to WEAVE.  My fine group of knitting buddies said it was time I broadened my horizons even further.  I said, “Nope, not for me because there are too many things to knit, too many things to spin.”  Their main fiber passion was weaving.  Each time we got together I saw the beautiful woven pieces in their homes and slowly, slowly I decided I would give it a try and asked Santa for a rigid heddle loom last January.

My Harp

3.  Weaving – I’m a beginner and that is not always a fun place to be.  In the past couple weeks alone I have made a couple rookie mistakes, big rookie mistakes.  I know it will get easier because it was not too long ago that I was confused about how to turn a heel on a sock and I would cry out in frustration and rip the whole sock out because I didn’t know how to fix simple knitting mistakes.

So, if you love fiber as much as I do and own knitting needles, spinning wheels, spindles, looms and lots of stash then carve yourself out a fiber room somewhere in your house.  When your kid heads off to college claim that room!  Because I must confess  – having a place to escape to in the house that you can call your very own space is fabulous-stupendous-awesome.  Having it filled with fiber and fiber toys?  Who needs chocolate?  Who needs a big screen TV?

There is something I must disclose though, if you bring your desktop into your new fiber cave and put it on the floor …… you just may find your dog watching Sherlock with you.

Kenzie and Sherlock

A Dead Wake in Texas

My Daily

My reading these days, notwithstanding the books about Texas horticulture, was nominated last year as the GoodReads Choice for best historical book. It’s called Dead Wake by Erik Larson and is the story of the last crossing of the Lusitania.

This is no dry history book. Thus far I have learned the following facts that I think are rather interesting:

  • On the morning the Lusitania departed, the German Embassy in Washington placed a notice on the shipping pages of New York’s newspapers reminding readers of the existence of the war zone and cautioned that “vessels flying the flag of Great Britain or of any of her allies, are liable to destruction” and that travelers sailing on such ships “do so at their own risk.”
  • The ship was booked to capacity including an unexpectedly large number of children and babies.
  • President Woodrow Wilson’s wife died just a year and a half into his first term – two days after Britain entered the new war in Europe.  His grief was incapacitating.  He wrote in his diary, “looked forward to the next two and a half years with dread.  He did not see how he could go through with it.”
  • Millions of bales of cotton piled up on southern wharves because the war had brought an acute shortage of ships.  Their owners feared submarine attacks and docked them.
  • May 1 was called ‘Straw Hat Day’, when a man could break out his summer hat.  Men followed this rule.
  • Pacifiers were called ‘sucking tubes’ and were tied around babies necks with a cord.

This is just a sampling of new information I’ve put into my noggin and pass along to your noggin.  And since this is a YARN ALONG and we all love fiber and BOOKS……..

One of the passengers on board the Lusitania was a successful book seller named Charles Lauriat.   He brought two invaluable items on board:

  1. The first was a bit of “Thackerayana”, a term used to describe artifacts of Thackeray’s life coveted by collectors on both sides of the Atlantic.  Laureate had a scrapbook containing drawings done by Thackeray to illustrate his own works.
  2. The second was a copy of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol owned by none other than the author himself.  Within the covers of this copy were notes that had been jotted by Dickens about the legal actions he had brought against “literary pirates” who had republished the story against his permission.

On the needles is a beaded Boo Knits shawl called ETERNITY which is appropriately named for it feels like I’ve been knitting it for an eternity!  I’m on the final chart and as a consequence my motivation to finish is climbing.  Maybe I will have a finished shawl to show you on the next Yarn Along.  So…what are you reading?  Knitting?

Where Did All the Pokeberries Go?

Where did they go? They were here last week, the pokeberries that is.  But now, when I want to pick them, they are gone.

Our move down to the Texas property was without incident.  Of course, the usual moving frustrations happened – like ending up down here with a big box of hand-knit wool socks which will never be worn in this climate.  Several important items that were put aside to go on the truck ended up not fitting on the truck at all.  Like a sewing machine.  Like some really comfy chairs for my new fiber cave and now I’m sitting on deck chairs.  Like a pressure cooker for canning  although all the canning jars made it hereLike a rototiller for tilling a garden – do you mean I have to use a shovel to dig one?  Well, that is what happens when you attempt to divide your house in half and live in two places.  Some stuff just gets left behind.

Mushrooms

Things are different here.  Not bad.  Just different.  Mushrooms grow here as they do in Colorado but their colors are more vibrant.  This one was found hiding under some leaves I raked away.

Self Portrait

Things are green here.  Lots of green to mow.  I take care of everything within the fenced yard and hubby takes care of everything else, all 64 acres ….. except the original road into the property and that is my job because I need a place to walk.  The first time I cut the lawn it took two and a half hours in second gear.  Today it would have been quicker because I moved up to third gear but on my fourth turn around the yard hubby came out and informed me that I forgot to engage the blade.  I’ll learn.

Zinnias

Things grow here, like zinnias.  I threw out some zinnia seeds and three days later they are growing!  That does not happen where I live in Colorado.

Morning Dew
Another thing I am not used to is dew on the ground and on the windows.  Early morning dew every morning.

My Daily

I’ve been researching all the plants on the property and identifying them by consulting with my friend named Google who is one brilliant lady.  My dad had a few books to lend me, too.  My nose is in this book most days and I’m throwing in a few thousand beads for fun.  I am so ready to finish this shawl!

I showed my mother a berry bush with a fuchsia vine and dark purple berries on it.  She told me that she painted her face with those berries when she was but a girl.  She also told me not to eat them because she thought they were poisonous.  They might be elderberry.  They might be Pokeberry.  They resemble each other a lot but elderberry only has a fuchsia stem where the berries are and Pokeberry has a fuchsia stem throughout throughout the plant so it turns out that my berry bush is a Pokeberry.

Pokeberry

I went to bed wondering if I could dye wool with the berries.  Shortly thereafter I decided to get up and do some research and was thrilled to find out that people have been dyeing with pokeberry for hundreds of years.  It produces shades everywhere from garnet to pale pink depending on how long the wool soaks in the pokeberry juice.  I turned the light off purposing to wake up early and pick a gallon bag full of pokeberries.

The next morning most of the ripe berries were gone.  Where did the pokeberries go?  Some critter? I’ll beat them to it next time round.  Pokeberries are supposed to produce fruit through Halloween so there is still time.