Thursday, June 30, 2011

Promise Unfulfilled, for Skywatch

These days, all eyes look skyward. 

We search for clouds with meaning and substance. 
We look with hope for thunderheads carrying rain. 

We look with anxiety at the fire maps

We make lists of what we would take if we ever had to leave. 

We wait for the monsoons.


To see what other cloud seekers are finding, please visit Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When Knitting Needles Dream

My mother believed in the dreams of flowers and animals. Before we went to bed at night as small children, she would reveal to us in her storytelling voice that salmon dreamed of mountain passes and the brown faces of grizzlies hovering over clear rapids. Copperheads, she would say, dreamed of placing their fangs in the shinbones of hunters. Ospreys slept with their feathered, plummeting dreamselves screaming through deep, slow-motion dives toward herring. There were the brute wings of owls in the nightmares of ermine, the downwind approach of timber wolves in the night stillness of elk. 

~Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

When knitting needles dream, I believe they find themselves sliding through the silky merino wool of Mini Mochi yarn, perfect partners in the making of...

more socks for me!  

Here is the colorway Bodega Bay that I just got in the mail from Jimmy Beans Wool. 

And here is my shot of northern California's Bodega Bay itself. I think you will agree that the Crystal Palace people did a nice job in naming that yarn color. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I've been teaching myself to knit socks. This first one, shown here, was completely knit and re-knit maybe three times until I got it right. There was shrieking; there was hair-pulling. The dogs quickly learned that when the sock came out, they left the room.

However, the second sock (since finished) turned out to be an absolute breeze. All my hard-learned lessons--manipulating all those little poky needles, making heel flaps, turning the heel, working the gusset, and decreasing for the toe--just came together smoothly and the second sock was done practically painlessly. After all, I made all the possible mistakes on the first one!

The design looks a lot more complicated than it actually is, because it is made with self-striping yarn that gives it almost a Fair Isle look, when all along it is just straight knitting, right from the ball of yarn.

Yarn: Heart and Sole by Red Heart. 70% wool superwash, 30% nylon. It has aloe vera added! The pattern called for 2 balls, but there was a lot left over from the second one.

Pattern: LW 1619 Self-Striping Knit Socks (downloadable for free).

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Couple More Things About Bodega Bay

I showed you some photos last week from our recent trip to Bodega Bay. I wanted to share one more with you.

If you ever watched Alfred Hitchcock's thriller movie, The Birds (1963), this sign might make you smile. The movie that left us all so frightened whenever two or more birds gathered together was filmed right in the little town of Bodega Bay.

Apparently, the town has never forgotten. You can read all about the filming and locations on the website for the Inn of the Tides. And Tippi Hedren, star of the movie, still comes back to visit.

One more Bodega Bay note: I've been learning some new knitting techniques (more later on that subject) and have discovered the perfect yarn. I fell in love with Mini Mochi from Crystal Palace and--guess what? There is a beautiful color called Bodega Bay that perfectly captures all the shades of the hills, the skies, and the water there. I've got some on order, and will show you the project as soon as the yarn arrives by mail.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bodega Bay Skies, for Skywatch

I spent some wonderful years growing up in Marin County, California. The hills and trees looked just like this.

My first job was Bookmobile Library Assistant for the Marin County Free Library. Every other Friday we went out to Bodega Bay to bring books to children in one-room schoolhouses.

On our recent trip to California, we took a morning to recreate that journey. Things looked pretty much the same--beautiful green rolling hills, dairy cattle, tiny towns, and lots of water.

And lovely blue skies.

For more skies--some nostalgic, perhaps, like mine--be sure to visit Skywatch Friday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

W is for WORK; ABC Wednesday

The sun wasn't even up yet when I heard the sound of many cars passing our house. I looked out to see a line of vehicles slowly making their way along the edge of the onion fields across the road. 

Everything is so dry here this year that any car passing raises a little dust; this many cars lifted the dry soil high into the air to mix with the smoke we've been getting from the Arizona fires. 

Hastily dressing and grabbing my camera, I took a picture of one of the harvest trucks as it gathered the onions, which were then sorted and crated by the men who worked quickly in the early morning coolness.

You can see that the furrows on the right have been cleaned of onions, while the furrows to the left have yet to be harvested. It's a lot of work in a dry, dusty, and blazingly hot climate. The workers have my admiration. Would you take on a job like that?

P.S. For my impression of the onion growing and harvesting process, see my comment, below.

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Industrial California

When we traveled recently through California, much of the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful.

But not all of it, as these photos taken along I-580 show.  After all, industry has to happen somewhere.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Arizona Highway

When I was a little kid our family took a wonderful trip to Arizona (see The Tenderfeet Camp with the Real Cowboys). Afterwards, someone gave our family a subscription to Arizona Highways, which contained the most beautiful photography I had ever seen. 


I spent a lot of time with those magazines and came to believe that Arizona was the true West. It still seems so to me, although I see a lot of what looks like cowboy country here in New Mexico.

These photos are from our recent trip through Arizona on our way to California. They were taken near the Arizona - New Mexico border along I-10.

As the smoke from the Arizona fires drifts over us here in the Mesilla Valley in southern New Mexico, I keep thinking about these areas and their wildlife.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Smoky Sunrise, for Skywatch

Oh, how I grieve for the birds and animals and people of Arizona, with those horrid fires all over. New Mexico has its share this year, too, but nothing like the size of the fires in our neighboring state to the west.

We are experiencing some smoke down here in the southern part of New Mexico, but I understand that the smoke is so heavy in the central part of the state, up around Albuquerque, that it makes it hard to see and breathe.

This was our rather smoky sunrise a couple of days ago. For skies, both clear and otherwise, all around the world, please visit Skywatch Friday.

Monday, June 13, 2011

V is for Vintage (ABC Wednesday)

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Vintage vehicles always catch my eye, and we saw a couple on our recent trip through Arizona and California. 

This faded old fire truck was parked out behind the Amerind Foundation Museum in Dragoon, Arizona. 

We spotted this amazing old homemade wooden trailer at a gas station in central California. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you will see light coming through the boards, which I took to mean that the interior was stripped out and all ready to be refurbished. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Clear Skies: Two Hilltop Views for Skywatch

Looking down on St. David, Arizona
For this week's Skywatch, I thought I'd share two very different hilltop views, both taken on our recent trip through parts of New Mexico, Arizona, and California. 

The first photo, above, was taken from an odd little dirt road that we found ourselves on--one of those roads that looks like it should be paved when you find it on the road map. There we were, out in the sizzling desert on a never-ending and ominously-narrowing bit of empty dustiness. It was hot, it was still, and our car was the only one in sight. When we stopped to appreciate the silence, I took this photo looking back at the little town of St. David. It would be hard to imagine that any hardy traveler might ever be out there on foot. 

A little further on, a huge UPS semi-truck pulled out of a ranch road and left us eating his dust until we finally came to pavement again. We wondered what long-awaited and very large package had been delivered at the ranch house--a nice cool refrigerator, air conditioner, or chest freezer, we hoped. Have I mentioned that it was HOT that day?

Near Petaluma, California

The second shot couldn't have been in more different terrain. We were traveling a winding two lane (paved!) road back from the northern California coast toward the city of Petaluma. This view looked like the perfect definition of gentle and charming countryside to me--almost as if one might spot a hobbit or two, journeying along on some trail under the trees.

For Skywatch photos from all around the world, please visit Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Amerind Foundation; a Little Gem in the Wilderness

This looked like a small house on the grounds, perhaps originally built for staff

One of the most exciting things about our recent trip to California was our new-found ability to take side trips. Being relatively new retirees, the concept of unlimited time is difficult for us. We are used to shooting through states to get where we're going, then shooting back. 

We haven't really mastered the idea of relaxed traveling, but we're working on it. On our way home, we stopped at Texas Canyon in the Little Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, and traveled down some little roads through what looked like desert wilderness to me. And then, there we were, turning onto a dusty track that took us through a beautiful old 1930s hacienda that was built by William Shirley Fulton for his family, and which now houses his private collection of Native American art and artifacts for public viewing.

The Amerind Foundation is an "anthropological and archaeological museum and research center dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Native American cultures and their histories." I am quoting from the Foundation's excellent website, where you can read all about the collections and how they came to be. 

It turns out that I am not such a museum person. Once I understood that I wouldn't be taking any photos inside, I found that I was rushing to get back outside to look at the buildings and the setting. Inside there was--History! Culture! Anthropology! Archaeology! Oh, look, best of all--a bird's nest with eggs in it just outside the window!

This was part of the museum. I loved the angles.
The bird's nest that so distracted me inside the museum was cleverly built between that arched window and its protective wrought iron.

Outside, there was an improbably shady and peaceful respite from the surrounding desert. I wanted to figure out how they made it so and take those lessons home to my own little desert adobe house.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Field Trip, and a New Rooster

In the few days since this was taken, the girls seem to have doubled in size

I am writing this on Sunday, while we are waiting for the chicken coop man to deliver the new home for our girls. You didn't think we were building it ourselves, did you? Our talents simply do not run in that direction.

As impatient as we are about this delivery, the four chicken girls in the guest room are even more anxious. They have quickly outgrown the large dog crate that is housing them and are longing for another dust bath like the one they all took yesterday while on a field trip to the back yard. 

Pardon the untidiness; Albertina insisted on bringing along the bits of newspaper she was still reading

And they long to be back in the company of the newest member of the flock, Big Peck.
Isn't he a charmer? He's tall, too, nearly up to my hip

Monday, June 6, 2011

Peruvian Motifs

Weaving brought back from a trip

At my knitting group the other day, I was enjoying listening to the various conversations around the room, but my knitting project was almost putting me to sleep. As I have been knitting children's sweaters for Knit for Kids for--gosh, could it really be?--the last five years, I probably could continue knitting them in my sleep. 

And then, it happened--Carol strode into the room, arriving late* as she usually does--and literally pulled this wonderful weaving out of her bag. Don't you find it a lively and inspiring piece? So much life is packed into such a relatively small space!

Looking up at the various sprightly figures, then down again at my (yawn) bazillionth little kid sweater, I found that all kinds of ideas were suddenly percolating around in my head. I am certainly surrounded by talented knitters and crocheters in that group, and they are always coming up with wonderful projects. Perhaps it's time for me to try something new!


*Not that the term "late" has any real significance here in the Land of MaƱana...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

May Sky, Wind, and Snow for Skywatch

Wind power in the Palm Desert, California
I snapped this shot as we drove through southern California last week. We were surprised to see the snow still on the mountains surrounding the Palm Desert, near Palm Springs.

For skies all over the world, be sure to visit Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chicken Coup

Remember those cute little chicks we brought home a few weeks ago?

Here they are now, grown quite a bit. They must be teenagers, I believe, if that expression on Albertina's face is anything to go by. If you have raised kids you will know "the look" and will recognize it here right away.

We get nothing but these blank stares from the girls now. They are in a rebellious state and actually staged a coup yesterday. I didn't get the crate quite latched, apparently, and they took full advantage of the situation. When I popped into the guest room (barefoot) for an afternoon visit, I immediately understood that things were not at all right. The cage door was open, the girls had flown the coop, and I was standing in something distinctly unpleasant.

I'm still trying to get the scene in our guest room out of my mind. Perhaps time (and a rug shampooer) will do the trick. How could four little chickens do so much in so short a time, and why, oh why, did they poop so constantly while doing it?

As the girls would say, and you know the tone of voice: Okay, FINE! After a bit of negotiation, we agreed to all their demands (once we coaxed them out of the closet), and construction has begun on a lovely outdoor coop. Oh, there will be nests, accessible to both them and us; and there will be a human-sized door, and some chicken-sized doors. There will be nice, big girl hen-sized roosts, and they will be nothing like my half-hearted attempt at a roost in the dog/baby chick crate made from half a curtain rod.

We sincerely hope that the thing will be snake-, coati-, coyote-, owl-, and javelina-proof (do javelinas like chicken?). It will have to be Emma-proof as well, as our cockapoo loves to eat things with feathers.

It seems so much wilder here in New Mexico than it was back in New Hampshire, even though we had bears on our deck there. There are so many wild things sniffing/flying/slithering around, looking for chicken dinners.

Those chicken girls might wish they'd never left the guest room.