Saturday, August 23, 2014

Progress ...

Knitting has taken a funny turn lately. I find myself starting new projects almost left and right.

Taking stock:

There is the lost lace shawl that needs to have it's border completed. It's not the type of knitting that manages well at the Sunday group--conversation interrupts concentration. Is there anything more frustrating than knitting for two hours only to have to frog it all back because it doesn't cut the mustard? This shawl is a project requiring special time slots: Early morning with coffee or late afternoon/early evening quiet time.

There is the new triangular mosaic shawl. This one can be managed in a social setting. I worked on it at last Sunday's get together and may well work on it tomorrow at the same. It's a "go to" piece when I want to feel productive.

Is there more? Well yes there is! Out of the blue I decided to knit up a cowl of my own design this week. Inspiration came from the yarn itself: A gorgeous, scrumptious multi-colored Noro yarn, and it gave me an opportunity to revisit my recent bead purchase. I like this cowl. The pointy end of it is double layered (the diagonal is a mitred corner) so it brings cozy warmth right where one benefits from it in chilly temps. I think I'll be wearing this around the house (even!) come this winter (need I mention that in a little over 2 months from now it may well be snowing? Heeheeheehee! Life goes on.).

This morning I started yet another scarf. This one owes it's genesis to my periodic stash check, whereby I inspect my collection to see whether I remain the one--and only--connoisseur of woolen and silk lovelies. It's a relief and delight to report that the moths and mice have been preoccupied with other life matters and there are very few signs of nursery games in the wool. But I came across a skein of 100% silk in eye-melting purples and magenta's, so a simple lace scarf is in the works. Pics to come.

~ interlude ~

Pleased with progress on the labyrinth. Another trip this afternoon to the nursery where I picked up another 5 bags of "white and tan eggs" they are called. Perhaps you can start to get an idea from this picture taken this evening, with only 2 more rounds to dig and fill. Still a little tricky to see it clearly because I'm not mowing the lawn until it's finished. Don't want to get the twine tangled in the mower! It took an hour to dig the outer-most edge you see in the picture. The remaining two will take just a tad more than that, each, I suspect. And then it will be finished. On to other garden projects, of which there are several.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fruit ...

...from the garden this evening. It's not the first I've picked of either, but it's the most I've picked at once so far. There is still quite a goodly amount of fruit on the vine ripening. Quite exciting, isn't it!?

The past two days have been spent largely travelling across the state in one direction or another to have work done on my cello... I am now at the point of learning what's called "thumb positions" which is where the left hand goes so far up the neck of the instrument that the thumb has to come around and rest (and play) on the strings. These are the really high notes. My cello is an inexpensive, though nice (it has a solid soundboard instead of plywood) beginning instrument, but it's strings have always sat a bit high off the fret board and that makes it difficult to learn these new positions. (Excuses, excuses, eh?)

After consulting with my teacher last week we decided I should have a luthier lower the height of the bridge. One outfit, with whom I had a phone conversation before heading out 50 minutes in one direction, refused to do the work for some assinine reason (I'll never understand businesses that turn away work, honestly) having to do with store policy. My opinion is that they have gotten too big, impersonal, and rigid. Quite a frustrating afternoon yesterday, but not entirely wasted. In an effort to appease my peevishness after that most unpleasant experience, I stopped at a nursery and discovered they sold architectural stones 2"-4" in 50 lb. bags. Perfect for my labyrinth. I bought 5 bags which covered the distance I had so far dug. It'll probably take another 15 or 20 bags to finish but they are reasonably priced.

This afternoon I ventured east and south an hour-and-a-half to a different luthier and the difference was night and day compared to yesterday's fiasco. I spent a lovely half hour chatting with the luthier while he worked on the bridge, lowering it by more than 1/8" and also thinning it because he deemed it was too thick. He also discovered that my A string was in fact a D string that had been stretched up to an A! That excessive tension could not have been good and probably explains why I've always been displeased with the tone of it! He replaced it with a proper A string.

My cello is like a new instrument this evening. Joy all around!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

NYC, Beads, Another Shawl, and a Labyrinth Update ...

Another month, another visit to NY. I drove down in torrential rain last Wednesday; downpours so heavy they created white-out situations--couldn't see a thing! The skies cleared about half way down Connecticut and the rest of the trip was fine, weather wise. Thursday brought a nearly perfect day of clear skies and moderate temperatures, perfect for being in the city.

I sometimes stay down the block from St. John The Divine and on my way back from parking the car Wednesday evening I snapped a pic of the cathedral. Followed it up with a picture the following morning.

Before leaving the city, I managed to visit one of my favorite stores, Beads of Paradise, a place known to be a hazard to my purse. I came away with some new beads from Ghana for future projects, some Tibetan prayer flags which are out front swaying in the breeze sending prayers aloft, some Indian incense, and a beautiful clove soap.

Apparently, one shawl to work on is not enough so I started another one. It's my first triangular shawl ever; the pattern is a mosaic. Liking it very much. It's called "New Caesar Triangular Shawl" and can be found on Ravelry.

Progress is being made on the labyrinth. Once I'm out there digging it goes pretty quickly--although it will take a number of hours to finish. I've about used up all the 3-4" stones I can find about the place and will now have to purchase some. Would like to have it all done before winter, which looks doable. It may be finished in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

From my garden ...

Being that it's my first-year garden, I'd say it's been mostly a success--so far. I had the pleasure of indulging myself on the peas several times last month. Never cooked; I'd simply walk out to the garden and pluck the plumpest pods from the vine, unzip them with that little stringy what keeps them closed, and pop the delicious orbs into my mouth. Oooh, I love them that way, straight from the vine.

My cucumber plants were sporting little cukes last month but I've neglected to check up on them. Good thing I pulled back the leaves for a look-see this afternoon, as there was one big fat Cucumis sativus wanting to be picked, and I snatched it up and had it for lunch!

The tomato plants have produced a good many fruit but are only now beginning to turn red. There will be a small one and a large one looking for an adventure by end of week. I sure hope the rain tomorrow doesn't spoil them as I'm not going to be around to pick them. Fingers crossed they remain viable until the weekend.

Dee, dee, dee, dee, dee ...

I made a scarf to go with the jacket I recently finished. I'm pretty pleased with the outcome as it's my own creation. Obviously I didn't invent the mitred square, but I did choose to put them together in this manner with twining on both long edges. Tickled pink about it.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Vacation ... midweek ...

Wednesday afternoon was spent at Quincy Bog, a natural area in Rumney, next door. If ever there was a perfect word employed in the service of describing an area, it is the word tranquil as applied to Quincy Bog. It's a heavenly place. I can't recall ever feeling such a sense of deep serenity. Depths of water, buffers of forest, the Anura guard, sheltered areas, and all lusciously verdant. Such calm. It will become a place of frequent visits. I'd very much like to visit it in each of the seasons.

There are occasional guided hikes around the bog, educational lectures, and a nature center, which was closed the day I was there. One lecture coming up soon will examine 14,000 years of the bog's history. Won't that be wonderful!? I'm going to try to make it. The bog is also a noted bird watching sight. There are lists on the bulletin board where one can add one's sightings.

Much of the flora is identified with markers. I had no idea there were so many different types of fern--they all look alike at a quick glance. I neglected to take a tree identification sheet--the trees are numbered--so next time.

I was not prepared for the narrow walkways skimming the surface of certain waters, but after the first bridge I relaxed and let my weight set my balance. Enjoyment had crept in by the time I walked my last plank.

(As always, click to enlarge)

Leaving the craft fair behind, late yesterday afternoon, I traveled up I89 to Lebanon where I knew their farmer's market would be open. My wish was to see an old friend who works at one of the local farms. He would have been working the booth. Alas, for some unknown reason they weren't there yesterday. But I did partake of some Pad Thai from one of the booths and it gave me a fleeting reminiscence of my favorite Thai restaurant back in my old Brooklyn neighborhood.

From the farmer's market I decided to head over to White River Junction, VT where I knew a knit-night would be in progress and another acquaintance could be found there. Alas, she couldn't make it last night. It was altogether a lovely evening nonetheless and I made some new knitting friends. The store has a rather nice yarn bomb out front. I'm not generally a fan of yarn bombing but I think this one is quite tastefully done. The store is White River Yarns. A lovely, warm place.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Vacation ... day 2 ...

Following Monday's strenuous, but exhilarating, climb up Rattlesnake Mountain it seemed that a quiet, relaxing stroll through Shin-Boku Nursery would be fitting. And it was. Even a calm stroll can be breathtaking.

Shin-Boku is located one town to the west from here. In fact it's just a stone's throw from my favorite Antique store that I mentioned last week. From the write-up, I expected a quaint, down-scaled stroll garden but was surprised to find a rather extensive garden. The scale was much larger than I anticipated, all the more to my delight! It's a beautiful garden and the owner explained that he's not done with it yet. In fact, there are currently new plantings at one end.

The trees are beautiful! There is an extensive nursery of exquisite specimens for sale. I can't imagine the amount of time that goes into training their growth!

Today, I drove down to Sunapee to attend the League of NH Craftsmen's Fair. Oh my word!! It left me as breathless as my hike up Rattlesnake. Exquisite craftsmanship, gorgeous craftworks. Wood, pottery, metal, glass, fiber, jewelry. Wow, oh wow, oh wow! Sublime. I was good and purchased one mixing bowl which, in my opinion, was one of the most beautiful to be had. It caught my eye right away and I fell in love with it:

Tomorrow I'll post about my most tranquil hike around Quincy Bog yesterday, right next door in Rumney.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Vacation week ... the first day ...

I am enjoy vacation this week and taking in the local surroundings, so much of which is gorgeous. Being situated on the verge of the White Mountains with my home in the foothills, puts me within reach of many interesting geological formations and natural areas.

Monday I hiked up Rattlesnake Mountain which is situated at the end of Halls Brook Road, the main artery for my trips into Rumney and Plymouth. Rattlesnake is a rock climbing destination and goes by the name "Rumney Rocks". Apparently people from all over come to climb it's shear cliffs. Not me. I chose the 1.3 mile (one way) hiking trail over on the west side of the mountain.

The trail starts off level but quickly inclines to quite a challenging, steep climb. Quite the workout indeed... and it felt good. It felt better when I finally reached the loop at the top of the mountain. One can choose to walk the loop clockwise or counter-clockwise and I chose counter-clockwise (as that is the direction one spins a prayer wheel). I think descending was just as hard as climbing up if not more so. I had to zig-zag my way down in certain areas because it's just so steep.

Being in the forest was beautiful. The weather this week--so far--has been gorgeous and the sun was shining in through the canopy of leaves. It was peaceful. Some gurgling water. Some bird talk. Quite serene, if one discounts my huffing and puffing--panting by the time I reached the loop.

There was plenty of time to catch my breath at the top and good reason to take my time. The view is fabulous! The whole Baker River Valley opens up in a vertigo inducing expanse. I could see the hills where I live, but my place would be behind the immediate hills so it's not visible.

Tuesday I visited a Japanese garden and nursery in Wentworth, the next town over going west. Today I hiked the trail around Quincy Bog in Rumney, the next town over going north. I'll write about both those adventures during the course of this week.

Some pictures from Monday's hike. As always, click to enlarge.

The start of the trail is very pleasant.

A babbling brook.

Ah. The incline begins.

Deciding to walk the loop counter-clockwise meant Stintson Mountain was the first to come into view.

The Baker River valley down there.

The hills of Groton.

The quaint village of Rumney.

The valley.

Our windmills can be seen on the hills.

Looking in my direction. The vertical white strip in the lower left is Halls Brook Road. It runs four miles in. Turn right at its end and I'm about one mile up (to the right in this picture).

Nice view of the valley, looking towards Plymouth.

Windmills and Halls Brook Road again.

My place is over those hills.

Quite a slide! Yippee!

I'm curious how this smooth flowing surface was formed.

Looking south towards North Groton where I live. (I'm in the woods, I tell ya!)

Wind mills atop the hills.

I liked these rocks enough to snap a picture on the way down the mountain.

A wonderful, wonderful hike. One I will repeat this fall when the foliage turns. It must be spectacular then!