Friday, May 29, 2009

Trees - not Joyce Kilmer

When Sammi's "dad" called us to say that they were losing the house, would we take the dog, he said that we all needed to take out his trees. He had spent a lot of money in trees and drip and once the well was turned off, they would die. Thanks to Tom's backhoe, we neighbors have accomplished the job of reallocating all of the trees. Ian and I only took three and it took us the morning to get them them seated. These Austrian pines are two of probably two dozen trees that needed to be moved. I didn't have clue how heavy they'd be or how much shoveling was involved.
We got the plumb of the collection and I'm not sure why we were so lucky. The impor-
tance of Austrian pines is their quick growth and value as wind break. We have planted a number of trees to the south of the house, but only two are coniferous. We need a year-round wind break.
This tree with it's ten inch candles will be deck shade. The candles are oriented to the left and I'm not sure why. I don't know if that's from where it was planted or wilt. I hope not wilt. It took us hours to put in all three trees and I'm sure this one, the last to go in, was the most stressed. I'll update in a month.

Our valley has another fund raising dinner and silent auction tonight in the fight against the water thiefs. They are going to take us to court to steal our water. We have an attorney that we need to pay. I meant to get a dish at Michael's this week but my pre-retirement time is distorted. I sent Ian with four bars of my soap in one of his used lunch sacks, repurposed like this. It was last minute and I was happy at how it turned out.
I probably will never need a container like this again, and probably couldn't make one if I needed to since I've wrenched my shoulder out of it's socket patting myself on the back. Truly. I need to be retired. Do you know anyone who needs to be retired more than me? Honestly.

Meme. That is the question that Mim posed when I tagged her. So I phished and found that the name is astoundingly and profoundly appropriate.

A meme (pronounced /miːm/ - rhyming with "cream"), is a postulated unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices that gets transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena.

Think about how we click to see who's commenting or who is subscribing. If you haven't already fallen asleep, read on~

The etymology of the term relates to the Greek word mimema for "something imitated".[1]. Supporters of the concept of memes believe that they act as cultural analogues to genes, in that they self-replicate and respond to selective pressures.[2] Memeticists have not definitively empirically proven the existence of discrete memes or their proposed mechanism as they do not form part of the consensus of mainstream social sciences. Meme theory therefore lacks the same degree of influence granted to its counterpart and inspiration, genetics.

Richard Dawkins first introduced the word in The Selfish Gene (1976) to discuss evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. He gave as examples melodies, catch-phrases, and beliefs (notably religious belief), clothing/fashion, and the technology of building arches.[3]

Meme-theorists contend that memes evolve by natural selection (in a manner similar to that of biological evolution) through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance influencing an individual entity's reproductive success. Memes spread through the behaviors that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Theorists point out that memes which replicate the most effectively spread best, and some memes may replicate effectively even when they prove detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.[4]

A field of study called memetics[5] arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model. Criticism from a variety of fronts has challenged the notion that scholarship can examine memes empirically. Some commentators question the idea that one can meaningfully categorize culture in terms of discrete units.

Okay, okay. That was dense and I apoligize - I just love how we bloggers mutate (according to theorists) and spread. It's cool, doncha think.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Knitting Discovery

I got home from work this evening (a phrase that will leave my vocab-
ulary within not-few-enough weeks) and was putting my things away when I noticed activity out of the corner of my eye. Bless their hearts. I cannot imagine what they have found to munch on. It is so arid here and they are totally hay dependent, but I was charmed by their togetherness. That green at the bottom actually is part of our property but without a fence...well, you see how complex it is here.

And speaking of here, as in our place, let me set the record straight. I am just as terrified of snakes as anyone else. If I didn't have a blog, I would never have chased that snake for those pictures. Ian clearly thought I was out of my mind. And as for the State buyback that I just paid for? When I left my job at the University, my ex-husband wanted to withdraw my contribution to pay for a car which he drove for one year and then sold. That should tell you everything you need to know about him. Anyway, what I paid for was my contribution plus the interest. It was an offer I couldn't refuse - really.
I'm having a lot of fun with my fingerless gloves from the Noro sock yarn. It's a single-ply and my color bits are not, but so far it seems to be working.

I cannot ever remember a project that has been this much fun. I just knit and change color or pattern. I made a swatch in the beginning to know how many stitches to cast on for the elbow, and for me that was 63, since my first pattern was a 9 stitch repeat. I have decreased between patterns as I progressed towards the wrist. I still have no serious pattern and obviously don't have the heart of a pattern designer. I'm trying to decide now if I'm going to try to repeat the second fingerless glove, or just keep the shape and color bits and make a compliment. I need to buy anothe skein of this stuff so I can do it again. This is very much fun and I've needed some knitting fun.

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Memorial Day

I finished my second Sonnet sweater, from my repur-
posed yarn. I chose hip length because so much yarn was lost to moth damage. I love the buttons which I got from Earthhues at a conference about four years ago, but I'm just not crazy about the length. I'll have to see how it works in sweater weather, when I'm not wearing shorts.
The sweater is a bit dumpy and I don't need any help on the dumpy score. At least at waist length I can't ask if it makes my butt look fat. I spun this triple-ply yarn from Border Leicester moorit and overdyed it with teal at least ten years ago. I don't know why I didn't put the whole thing in the dumpster way back - it's oh-so-scratchy yarn, but it really looks good with the stitch definition. Success will be determined by my wearing it more than once.
I've lived here for over 20 years and we always get weather on Memorial Day weekend. I stopped thinking of it as a camping opportunity a long time ago. After lunch, the clouds started forming and Eddie, mister tough guy, master dog of all, ran into the house and cowered in his bed.

The clouds with some thunder have rolled through all day, but no rain. That's disap-
pointing. It was a yard-work kind of day for us, which most summer days will be from now on out. It's us against the weeds. Neighbor Tom was doing yard work too and called to see if he could come down for some llama poo.
We traded him composed llama poo for holes. The departed neighbors offered all of us all their trees and I've tagged three of them. In between trips, Tom used his backhoe to give us our hole presents. He had dug two and we were pulling weeds, when he popped into front yard to check on the last hole. It had occurred to him that it might actually be where the water comes to the house from the well. He said he's a dowser and asked me for two wire coat hangers. Then on second thought, he said, never mind - he'd bring his own on the next trip down.
I've never been quite sure how I feel about dowsing, or water witching. When we bought our property, our agent whom we respect and trust, suggested we have it dowsed. His seriousness left me with questions. Ian called to me when Tom returned. I came around to find Tom was standing on the spot, with a brass l-shaped rod in his work-gloved hand, which he had formed into a loose fist, thumb side up. As he walked, the rod moved.
It kept pointing to the spot that we had originally chosen for a tree hole. It was making me crazy. Let me do that, I said. I thought it had to be bogus, but that wire swung around, no matter where I walked, and it pointed to that same spot, i.e, the pipe from the well. I felt like H2O Ouiga Board. Then we used the coat hangers, which I have tried to show you here. When the wires cross, the water is below that point. These are the only two wire coat hangers we have left and I told Ian that we have to put them someplace safe.

At this point, I'm sure you're hitting the unsubscribe button. I don't believe in ghosts or haints, but I've developed a respect for the art of dowsing.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

One Step Closer.

This is my "trip" knitting. It's what I do when I'm in a setting to kill time but can't lose myself in a book. I knitted on it yesterday when Ian drove us to Carson City to sign our retirement papers. I wrote the biggest check I have ever written in my life. I had to pay back the six years I worked for the State. I withdrew my retirement upon severance - short sighted of me. It took two lines to get all the figures in. They took my check, our signatures are notarized and we are officially retired as of June 22nd. Our last days at work are sooner than that even.
This morning was yard work, in between loads of laundry. One of the things I look forward to it not having to do all the laundry in one day, because it does take a whole day. We have planted shrubs in lieu of lawn. Eddie found a bed in the midst of these shrubs and is feeling a little guilty, as you can see.

The Rocky Mountain Penstamon, on both sides of Eddie, has volunteered more than is welcome. I pulled up five tubs for a co-workers and a bag for a neighbor and there's so much more to go - for another day.
Ian called to me to come see what he had just taken out of the garage. Using a lawn rake, he relocated this 2' gopher snake to the bank above our garage. I've gotten over my hysteria of snakes. They are beneficial to our rodent problem, and truth be told, I'm a heck of lot more scared of chickens. There. I've said it.
I was reading on the front porch this afternoon when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Our friend, the gopher snake had returned. Ian once again relocated him, albeit with much angry hissing. The snake, not Ian.
And then a third time, this poor snake came back. Ian asked me if I wanted him to move him and I said no - let's just put the dogs in the house. I followed him - I like to know where they go. It's an "just in case" thing for me. He laboriously worked his way around our house until he found the woodpile, for which he made a bee line.

We realize now that when Ian was stacking wood this morning, he startled our little mouse eater out of the woodpile and through the open garage door. I spent my whole day doing laundry. He spend his whole day trying to get home.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Budding Author

Warning, grandchild heavy content. Tonight was Alexia's book reading at the UNR bookstore. She and four of her preschool classmates have written and illustrated books. Their school has a licensed teacher and a student teacher who, as part of her practicum, has to do a project with the children. For the last three months, Lisa, the student teacher has helped these students create their own first books.
Lisa whispers a phrase and then Alexia repeats it so that she can "read" her own story. Alexia tells me in advance that it a very sad story in which the dogs die - she misses them very much. No dogs die in her story as read. She's four years old and her imagination is well developed.
Eric is telling his story and his classmates cluster to hear it. They are excited for each one of the student readings. If only life could stay this simple. The boys have written of super heroes and the girls of princesses. Interesting isn't it that these themes don't change.

Here are the stars of the show with teacher Lisa. The investment is this project was three months. Alexia says that she liked writing her book but she wants to wait until she's older to write another one.

Monday, May 18, 2009

High Desert Spring

I took my little camera this morning on our dog walk. Desert Peach has passed its bloom and Bitter Brush is now doing its thing. As you look across the landscape, it appears to be lime green. The blossoms are actually yellow, but they're really small so the eye blends the green and yellow at a distance.
I hope this shows the blossom colors better. We should start to see wild flowers soon. May is our month and the wildflower season goes quickly. Like Project Runway - One day you're in, the next you're out.
On our way back, I happened to notice this sneaker lupine between two rabbit-
brush on the road bank. They won't bloom for another couple of months and will be bold gold. It is an awesome dye plant. Lupine are pretty but not dye fodder.

The risk of wildfire is so pernicious with the drying up out here in the West, that we paid to have a break cut on the south side of our house. It's ugly but after a lightening strike scare a couple years ago, this step was overdue. Sagebrush might appear to be a dry shrub but it burns scary hot, especially pushed by wind. Can you guess where the dogs walk?
This is the last detail that we have to address before I will feel better about wildfire risk. The firewood is just too close to the house and it will stay there for this year. We got a great deal last year and it's going to spill over into to next year. We'll move the stack to another place as we acquire it - a wood stash. We heat with wood so this is a love/hate picture. Love to know we'll be warm when we have to start heating again in September, a mere four months from now. Hate the risk of firewood by the house.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's a Happy Meme

Kathleen has tagged me with this Meme. I am supposed to list six unimportant things that make me happy and then tag six other people. They must mean little, not unimportant things. If they make me happy, then they're important - well, to me they are. Just six???

1. The sound of my four-year-old granddaughter's sweet little voice.
2. The sight of my grandson with his face buried in a book, leg draped over the back of the sofa.
3. My grandkids whispering to each other after lights out when they spend the night.
4. The fragrance after a rain, especially wet asphalt.
5. Watching my silly dogs romp when we take morning walks.
6. Listening to the songbirds in our front yard when I sit outside to read.
7. The sound of the breeze blowing through the trees, especially the pines.

And I'm retiring a month from today, but that can't go on the list since that is very important.

So let's see. I'm tagging some of my blog friends whom I haven't heard a peep from in a while.

1. Marie at Funny Farm
2. Vickie at Virginia Purl
3. Cindy at Cindy Knits
4. Mim at Desert Peach Farm
5. Lee at When She was Knitting
6. Sylvia at Beadlizard
7. Robin at For the Love of Fiber

Just six! See I did it - I stuck to the rules.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Weekend

This entire day was taken up with yard work. The basins around our trees had been filled with blowing dirt and grass - both need to go so the drip irrigation on the trees will be effective. I'm about a third of the way there. I came out of the house to find that Sammy decided to make herself an ornament in our only flower bed. I put a watering pot there for now to disabuse of that notion in the future.

I found my St. Francis laying in a lavender with his popped head off. I forgot him when I brought everything in last year, and he wintered over outside - obviously, not well. I weeded, watered, fertilized and the only thing that looked different after I was done were the three California poppies that I found at Costco. I've looked for them as plants for the past three years and no one had any - just as seed. Costco is goofy.
Carolyn took this picture of me at the last guild meeting, modeling my hat and Nancy's fingerless gloves. They go all the way to the elbow and are knitted from Noro sock yarn, plus bits of other sock yarns for color pops. Nancy told us that Jimmy Beans has it on sale and I was suddenly obsessed with making a pair of my own. She made up the pattern as she went which necessitated some ripping out. I've been looking at the Vogue book of colored knitting patterns that I checked out from the library, getting ideas.
I think the Noro is just discon-
tinued color pathways. I bought this skein last weekend when DD Chris and I were shopping. These others are from white sock yarn that I bought from Robin and Russ and dyed a million years ago, at least. I think they're going to work well. I might add some black too, just because I think black makes colors pop. I am anxious to get started but also very close to being able to assemble my Sonnet sweater. I feel like a deer in the headlights.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Mothers Day

The May meeting of the Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers guild was in Chilcoot, California today at Doris's High Plains Woolies Ranch. The weather cooperated - a little too well, in fact. Considering that it usually snows on Memorial Day, I certainly didn't expect this much sun and now have a spectacular farmer's tan, actually farmer's burn.

Doris has been lambing for the last month and this little ten-day old is her newest. Is there an animal sweeter than a new lamb?? All through the meeting we could hear their sweet little bleats and what better soundtrack for us. Being with these wonderful talented women who also happen to be my friends, some for over a decade, is a magic in itself.
Doris raises fine-wool sheep. I have spun and can recom-
mend her fleece. She let the sheep out of the barn after the meeting was over and I couldn't resist this picture, Moms and their young grazing on new grass.
Then there was a frenzied sorting of lambs calling to moms and racing and chasing, so that the group suddenly became lamb-heavy. I wish I could record sound like picture, because half of this image would be auditory. Isn't the leg-to-body ratio of lambs delightful? We had planned a skirting demo, but visiting just got in the way.
I took this picture just because I love our Big Sky Country, and then tonight realized that that's our mountain - Peterson Mountain. It separates our valley from Doris's valley. We live two miles due east of that notch just left of center. This is a migrant trail, with Beckwourth Pass out of the picture to the left. It's easy for us, but we can't imagine how hard it was for the westward-ho folks.
I left the meeting to pick up my daughter and grand-
daughter. Because I have to work tomorrow, we were going to lunch for Mothers Day today. My SIL and grandson were driving separately because they needed to go to a a birthday afterwards and son Matt met us at the restaurant. Lexie is power napping.
You see a re-
energized four-
year-old. We girls went shopping after our late lunch and she held her own, most intertainingly - is that a word? We fit in a visit to Jimmy Beans, but most of our shopping was about pink. I did end up with a killer deal on cotton sheets and towels, not pink. It could not have been a better Mothers Day.

Were was Ian? Home, waiting for the shearer.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Flap Cap Frustration

I got a commis-
sion for five hats last fall. No problem. I think I could knit them in my sleep. Oh, and by the way, can you make one of them a flap cap? No problem. I'll knit a hat and add flaps. I quickly discovered that a flap cap isn't a conventional hat. The flaps are knitted first, then the cast on - cable cast-on, that is - and then the cap. The problem lies in trying to knit the non-flap parts without ribbing and still get a hat that fits. I couldn't find patterns so knit this hat for Ian as a test. The yarn is handspun from our Shetlands. The commissioned hat I knit was similar.

About a month ago the same person asked me if I would knit a flap cap for a birthday present. By then I had realized there was the flap cap and then there was the Peruvian chullo hat, which I now prefer. I knit this for my son-in-law. DD Chris models it while dropping off the kids for us to babysit. I like it better but it has a band of garter stitch and I would prefer stockinette without the garter running in between the flaps and hat.
So then I made this hat. The band rolls - of course it does. It's stock-
inette. I don't know why I thought it wouldn't. Wishful thinking I guess. Grandson Kiernan says he wants it - doesn't care if the bands roll. He thinks maybe one day they won't - he doesn't care. Bless his heart.

I finished this one tonight. Can you tell we only have sheep in four colors, now three since the black one died of colic last year. This time I knitted the first row after joining the flaps to the body, then one row of purl across the bands only - and then the rest in stockinette. It rolls a little but I'm hoping this hat will be okay. Charlie looks skeptical and I tend to agree. I'll have to wait until it dries to try it on.
I don't know how I find time to knit or do anything else then I'm baby-
sitting. Where are those kids anyway??

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Where I Live

I am so glad to have my camera back because I've wanted to show you where I live. On the map, north of Reno you will see where Hwy 395 in California bows east and touches the Nevada State line. That's where I took this picture after the inkle workshop yesterday, looking north toward Susanville. This is called Long Valley. It's a really very very long valley - very long.
And this is called Long Valley Creek. It really is a trickle, but at this spot, beaver dams have backed up the trickle and created the illusion of abundant water. This is the first time since I've gotten my camera back this Spring that I have not been in a hurry. I could barely hear all the bird calls over the busy highway sounds. I didn't worry about being alone, walking along the highway. People drive too fast to stop.
I've wanted to have an oppor-
tunity forever to get a picture of this tree. It grows right out of that rock. I was at a neighbor's party last night and told him I'd stopped for this photo. He was surprised that it's still alive. It is still alive, but I don't know how.

From where I've parked, turning my camera east I have captured the red rocks that signal our turnoff and our exit from California. One mile inside the turnoff, the road becomes Nevada. I know there are lots of places called Red Rock and we're one of them. We live in Red Rock Valley.
I shot this from my car window, because I could. I'd had enough of the crazy wind.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Inkle Weaving 101

I drove into town today for an inkle weaving workshop. Linda and I shared a table, but since she's had some experience before, she left me in the dust. Once I got the hang of it, I had the same problem as I have on my floor loom - uneven selvedges.

This is Virva's project. She is also new to the inkle loom, but both she and Linda are seasoned weavers and I think that helps in understanding how to plan for your pattern.
Ian was looking at this when I got home and asked me what you get from an inkle loom. I told him bands and straps. He asked me what I was going to do with bands and straps. I said that's the exact same question I've been asking myself. I've got plenty of warp left so lots of learning to go. Maybe I'll have a better idea two feet from now.
The moth traps I ordered were waiting for me in the mailbox when I got home. They came here all the way from Knickerbocker Avenue in Brooklyn. I just saw another moth today, bringing my count up to five. I've set four traps and will let you know if they work.