Sunday, May 31, 2020


Thirty days have September, April May and November, all the rest have thirty-one, except February, which has 28 and sometimes 29.

That is the way I learned it.  That is the way I wrote it on Esme's wall when we did homeschool.

But apparently it's June.  June has 30 days.  May has 31.
In this slipped timeline.. it seems. When did I dimension shift?
If you had asked me this morning I would have said June had 31 days and May 30.  Really.  And it is written there on the wall.  I'm a little flabbergasted.  How could that have been there for five years and none of us have caught it?  Or did May really have 30 days until just very recently?  //weird//


Anyway, besides that craziness.
We went to the Homestead and bought some plants, and a pretty needle-felted wool bird Esme liked.  I bought a sedum plant for outdoors and Mark bought a begonia to keep our other one company in the bathroom.  But it is so hard to dig a hole in the floor - it's concrete (and that, badabum was a joke, the other part was not.. I really did think May had 30 days)... that we have decided to put it in a hanger like the other one.

I had a nice video chat with the British (founder is based in UK, but lots of members aren't) mom's group I joined back when Esme was a baby.  My microphone did not work, but Mark might be able to help me out with that this week.

I made chicken rice and chicken egg rolls for Esme for lunch, and then went out in the garden and planted morning glory, moonflower, hopi string bean and nasturtiums.  I weeded a lot.

Then I went up to take the mail to the mailbox and a short walk with Daphne dog.  Then, I saw the wild roses on the side of the road.  Maybe another evidence of the 'dimension shift' (ha) I've been down that road many times in the past fifteen years and today I happen to see wild pink roses blooming on the side of the road.  Esme and I went back up and 'caught a shrubbery' as Mark said - a little bit of the patch to take home and see if it will take root.  They are very fragrant, slightly pink and odd that they don't show their centers - fold in a little on themselves but are single-petal.  And the entire mass of bush up there was about four inches high and spreading by runners.

Good day, ruin mail tomorrow.  I'd better get to bed.  It's June first tomorrow.  And I've heard that June 21st is on a Sunday this year, so maybe I'll get to see the sunrise that morning like I usually do.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

a bit

 Lilies in the pole garden.  I need to plant the morning glories and see if they will grow, and the nasturtiums, as well.

I ordered Cook's Illustrated magazine on a discount site a few months ago, to begin in June.  The first issue arrived and it is wonderful!  I never really knew what was in vindaloo, and now I am quite interested.  It also had some great articles about steam frying and making yeast doughnuts.

Watching Babylon 5 and Seaquest DSV.
I have one week left on the daily mail route, getting a break starting on the 8th. 

I have tomorrow off to work in the garden a little, get some sun, and rest up for that last running week.  I had also taken some photographs of the area in Trezevant I want to try painting again, pictures of the golden wheat fields that were not in the Google Maps pictures.

Ordered a shampoo bar that was highly recommended online, too - jojoba and coconut oil. 

Mark made eggs and sausage tonight and I added tobasco sauce and green olives.  Minerva had stars in her eyes as she begged me for some - and she ate everything, olives and all.  Sweetie spit the olives out and stared at them on the floor like 'what was that?'  Then Minerva ate Sweetie's olives, too.

Monday, May 25, 2020

 a toad at my front door

 The 'Five Glyphs' from the poem The Turning of the June posted on this site yesterday.  I went back and got a photo.  The hawk was still there, but she would not let me photograph her - flew off screeching into the deep woods (below), and did not come back.

 The sunlight was illuminating the backsides of the trees - I cannot capture with the camera what it feels like to be shone through thousands of shadows of leaves the particles of light shimmering in the moving air... all with the dew of morning.  I see light and air currents differently than many - I have deduced over the course of my lifetime. It is like prismatic, but green.

The lespedeza and the feathery seeds of the grasses

Walking in the beauty with Daphne, as the sun rises

Even the red grasses are singing with the light, in their different way.  I love the interplay of the red and the soft mossy sage green, each reflecting differently and shining with the water differently, as well.

 The golden caught so beautifully here

and the very soft feather edges of this grass made me bend down and take a look.  It is wispy and thread-like

hEDS knee

I was thinking this is a very typical story of why hEDS is so annoying, and so inexplicable at times.  I have been running six days straight on the postal route for weeks, and at the beginning of the route several of my muscles were on FIRE from overactive use (compared to usual).  Epsom salt baths and hot compresses were good enough for that - although my steering muscles in my chest were the worst of all because they made me feel like I was having breathing issues at first.  I got through all that - the inexplicable one happened last week.

I had come home from an entire day out on the route, getting in and out of the car, walking up to houses etc.  My knee had been mostly in one awkward position in my right hand drive truck, but it didn't complain much.  After I got home I relaxed a little on the couch, and then I went outside on the porch to make a phone call.  I was walking in circles a bit, as one does, while waiting on hold for the store associate to answer.  And after I talked to her, and got my answer, I hung up the phone and made the step towards the door to come back inside.

And it struck.
My knee was twisted and giving me the worst pain I've had in it for a long time.  I could barely put any weight on it.  I had to catch the doorframe.  It was all of a sudden and with no explanation.  I looked down at it and it didn't look any different from the other knee, to my eyes.  They were the same size, *appeared* to be the same shape and such forth...

But one of them hurt a LOT.
I made it inside and sat down in a chair and took the knee in my hands and tried to massage it.  It didn't hurt any to the touch, and it seemed like maybe it was a momentary strain?  I got back up and took a few steps and BAM, no - it still hurt.

I thought maybe I'd sit down on the bed for a while and watch some TV, see if it got better.  But my better instincts started chiming in my head 'it needs heat - bath will help'.  But the bath is all the way downstairs.....

I made it there, holding onto the wall, and ran myself a hot epsom salt bath.  Again, no pain until the moment I put weight on it, and then it felt like someone was taking the long muscle on the inside of my knee and twanging it the wrong direction with every step, the pain ran up and down that muscle with each oscillation.

Just as the water began to cool in the bathtub I started to get up and I heard an AUDIBLE click from my knee, and then immediately afterward, one from my ankle as well.  Both the clicks were on the outside of my knee, and I could FEEL something sliding 'to the inward track' on both of them.  My knee and ankle had been just ever so slightly out of place.  When I got up the searing ricocheting pain was gone, left by a 'damn you pulled that muscle' feeling on the inside tendon.

The next day I had a round quarter-sized bruise on the outside of my kneecap, very dark, like I had hit it with a hammer.  No explanations.  My body was riding for that short time from the porch to the bathtub in an inexplicable 'second position' for that knee and ankle, that was just barely wrong but not able to be seen or felt.  And that short time wrecked havoc on my inner tendon so much that it was hurting all that night and all the next day - but not in the 'I cannot walk' way, just in the 'man what did you do, don't do that again' way.  That was probably how that thing started last year when my other knee swelled to twice its size and I could barely walk without a brace for months.  Inflammation is the problem there, once it sets in the swelling makes things NOT get back in their positions and grind and stretch and more inflammation.. a cycle of bad reactions.

And the thing about hEDS is that all of my joints have these second, and sometimes even third positions that they can ride in if they get 'just' the right position twisted or turned, and if I am relaxed enough for it to happen.  And because I am used to things being 'not right' in a small way, I just put up with that discomfort - it takes a LOT for it to be 'real' discomfort.  My pain tolerance has been noted as being high, and it is not that I am insensitive - I can be VERY sensitive as it builds up together - but it takes a high threshold of different pains together or one very sharp one to get me into action to do anything about it.  Because, it is 'always something'... if you fall apart over the tiny things you will never get anything done at all.

Getting the joints and connecting tendons back in place sometimes is as easy as just moving the arm or shoulder or leg the usual way, or in a wide circle stretch.  My joints pop and click all the time in just regular life for me.  I will wake up in the middle of  the night and start to turn over and it is a symphony of crackles and pops, almost all of them feeling really good as things go back where they should after a night relaxing in gravity positions.  When you sleep your body has produced the most relaxin hormones and it is the easiest and most vulnerable time for joints to move as you are not consciously holding them in the proper positions as you might have subconsciously learned to do during the daytime with hEDS.  I have a habit of building up my pillows and blankets around me to create support structures to lean on so that I can't get my arms or shoulders or knees so badly out of place.  I didn't know until I read more about hEDS that this is a very common tactic and they even MAKE pillows and things for this as preventative medicine.  It is a habit to wake up and turn over three or four times a night to get things back in place.  It is also a very good 'survival' instinct, probably.. and without it I might wake up with something severely out of place and need to do much more to get it back.

But the knee thing shows that sometimes it can take a while and the right stimuli to get them back where they belong - and it can cause damage the longer it is in the wrong place.  And that will only get worse as I get older.  It took until I was nearly forty for the normal cracks and pops (which have been around since I was like eleven years old, and I was told it was all growing pains and being gangly) to cause me much pain or problems at all. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

a bit of painting

I joined a Zoom art group today for a 'craft together' session... I had already painted the 'first try' at one of the landscapes I like on my postal route (from memory, then with help from Google maps for details), and then during the session I made this little fantastical nature painting // the landscape is 8x10 and the other is 11x14

Esme and I went to the 'duck park' - mulberry park, and we only saw three ducks, and they were occupied with another family the entire time.  But, we did get to see turtles, lots of them (maybe a dozen) swimming lazily around the dock and very interested in us.  There were tiny ones and medium sized ones and a very large one.  We wondered if some of them were hatchlings - if this was a family.. or ?  We saw lots of fish, as well.  Esme can see through the water better than I can.  I can see the air currents much better, which I think is why seeing through the water takes so much concentration for me.  She said she can see the air currents too, as I described them, but it makes her eyes hurt compared to looking through the water.  I know what she means - it is like a 'different channel' of seeing, the air as soup, in 3D instead of 2D... and it can be very distracting to see it all of the time.. so I turn it off a lot, too -- trying to see it for a bit is fun, for longer than that, it feels like your eyeballs are going to twitch and come out of your head *ha*

I had a terrible migraine building even before we went to town - but it has been so long since we spent much time.  We walked around the lake, got some fast food, and got a grocery item Daddy wanted.

The migraine continued to build here at home, and I drank more coffee, took a bath... a sinus pill (with no painkillers in it, just decongestant), and an ice pack to the back of my neck.  It started to calm down some, and the last bit of sun was fading outside - so I went outside for a walk.

Went up the road and came back with a bit of this humming through my brain

Take in the June
red tailed hawk...

I have come again to take in the June
the green spires rising and
the early flowers fading while
the summer ones are just starting
to nod their heads in time.

The Spring has been so late
and the Summer that should be is starting
warm and cold and wet and humid
it is a mixed up bag of weather
but perhaps now, as June perches at the

end of the week, the Summer will come.

With it’s heat I dread, and yet I walk here
in the cool of the evening,
the storm having passed by us for the moment,
and the frogs and the creatures of the air
are singing in the distance,
calling to me, and yet
telling me to stay away,
the hunting is good
do not disturb

The scream of the hawk
reeling again and again 
from the tree on the horizon  
the glorious gleam beginning to seep in at the bottom edges  
like an eye about to open a glimmer of light 
to a blaze  
instead of to close 
the curtain of night

Wings against the blank white canvas of cloud
a profile, a wide circle and display  

I am no mockingbird  
I am no sparrow  
I am the powerful predator of the sky  
‘This place is mine’

He returns to his perch and calls again
proclaiming ownership over 
all that he surveys  
or perhaps it is a she  
and she has a nest there - it is too far to tell
against that pattern of branches
each tree like a runic glyph bending this way and that
in a sentence that says Earth and Growth and Time   

A sentence punctuated by Feather and Wing and Claw  
air and forest, wind and green growing things in profusion 
all around me the love of Nature, Water and the Earth  
the smell of it coming from the forest  
the deep dark holes in between the ivies  
the grapevines, wildflowers and weeds,
 the Oak so massive it could be an Evergreen reaching to the sky, 
its glossy green leaves telling its secrets
and the tiny trees, maples and mimosas, fighting at the edge to
earn their own rights to become giants

The scene calls to the mathematical in me
to measure it’s angles and partitions
to record these shapes as a word for all to see

on paper and pigments
the trees in the line 

five artfully rendered characters  
each its own world of meaning  
strokes bold against the sky

But no one would read this sentence as I do
the red and golden grass in the sunset
the trails of white cloud lit underneath  
the rustle of the wind circling and cycloning  
in the spaces in between the tall trunks
with so many staunch branches  
and delicate twigs and myriad leaves  
and the ripping force of claws  
clinging somewhere there  
ready to pounce on small tails and eyes,  
waiting for the oncoming Night

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Honey, herbs and spices

I use a lot of herbs and spices every day, sometimes just because I crave the taste of that one today, other times because I want a benefit that herb or spice is purported to have.

This is a bit of a ramble, and not to be taken as medical advice - but as a springboard for studying these things on your own.  I am not a doctor, but I do 'doctor' myself, because with hEDS a lot of medications do not work in my body, or work 'oddly'...incompletely or for reduced time periods.   I've kind of just learned to listen to what my body is saying 'to me' and follow some certain rules.  I got deep into old apothecary books and Foxfire type things to find the things that worked for me.

It is important to eat a balanced natural food diet when you can - and to try to keep your blood pressure and blood sugars balanced naturally and without medications.  There are many vitamins and nutrients that are not present in processed foods or are reduced in their quality by processing.  Many people do not know about the benefits of pairing certain classic foods to improve their effectiveness and usefulness in our body - there are reasons tomatoes and beef and olive oil were used together for sauces in classic Italian recipes  There are reasons for lemon and fish and greens, and for peas and onions and carrots etc etc...

Honey is also a natural substance that has lots of great benefits.  The problem with honey is that a lot of what is sold in stores is processed, mixed with sugar and corn syrup water and nowhere near the actual original substance.  It can be very hard to tell the difference - and price is a good indicator, but not the only one.  You will want to look for a dark golden brown, fluid substance that moves in the bottle in a 'certain way'... and a small jar will probably cost upwards of ten dollars.  The more local you can get - the better.  If you know someone who actually pulls honey from their own hives in your area, get in and get their number - and you will have the very best source that you know is real.

Honey is a natural antibacterial, and contains lots of vitamins as well.  It is a 'drying' agent, so mixing it with teas and broths will help to dry up congestion and mucus that has developed in the body.  It can be applied to wounds or abscesses with a q-tip to draw out infection, but must be washed off the tooth and out of the mouth immediately after the treatment.

Mint is also good for opening up airways, and for settling stomachs.  Ginger is good for inflammation and for settling stomachs.  Turmeric is a bit of an antiviral and good for inflammation, you will find it as the yellow color in curry powder.  Garlic is a great antibacterial, can be applied raw to an infected tooth (but I warn you, it hurts, but it helps as well) and will give many benefits in broths and soups against sinus infections.

A bath with eucalyptus or peppermint oil will also help relax the muscles and open the lungs with the scented steam.  Lavender oil is good for relaxing the muscles and releasing tension.  Almond oil is great for soothing irritated or intermittently dry skin.  Shea butter is a great thing to rub on dry, wrinkled or stretched skin (like a pregnant belly) to help against skin problems.  It is also a great addition in soaps or bath oils.  Oatmeal helps against itch and oatmeal water in the bath can help soften the skin.  A paste of (cooled!) oatmeal can be applied to poison ivy or other skin issues and let to dry to suck out the irritants.  If you have a bee sting though, use baking soda and vinegar paste to do the same thing.

Sinus infections need to be attacked from several directions at once.  Pea soup and lentils offer zinc to help break up the initial cold virus or otherwise that has caused the infection.  Garlic and/or onions help to ease the lungs, expectorate the mucus and reduce inflammation.  Licorice tea can be harmful in large amounts to people with heart conditions - but a bit of it mixed with mint or ginger tea can help expectorate mucus, as well.  Especially when a large tablespoon of honey is stirred into the hot tea, then cooled to taste, and drank down all at once while warm.  You will want to take the honey two to three times a day with this mixture to help fight the bacteria that is causing the sinus infection.  Curry powder with turmeric, garlic and cayenne pepper all help ease inflammation and infection - and can be mixed with chicken broth to make it tasty and easy to drink.  This is best drank warm as a beverage just before a period of rest.

Cinnamon helps with inflammation and also is being studied as helping to break down fats in the body.  Pepper has piperine in it, and it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps with pain from chronic conditions when combined with the proper 'helper' spices, like turmeric and garlic (which, coincidentally, are the key components of curry spice).  There are reasons ancient people went 'ga-ga' over spices and took long ocean voyages to get their hands on them.  

The above type regiment should be mixed with consumption of oranges, strawberries, blueberries, fresh tomatoes or other natural Vitamin C.  You will have to make sure that the Vitamin C is not 'cooked' out of being effective, heat can destroy its properties.  Most vitamin C supplement pills are not as easily absorbed as the foods we eat.  Think about the recipes that include 'the juice of one lemon, squeezed on just before serving', or a diced garnish of fresh tomatoes and onions.

Combine the vitamin C with a dose of iron from peas, beans, beets or meat.  Vitamin C helps the body use iron, zinc and other vitamins to fight inflammation and rebuild tissues if they are available at the same time in your system.

Also some vitamins require a fat source eaten with them in order to be absorbed - fat soluble vitamins, and you will find them in classic pairings like I mentioned above.   Vitamin A should be consumed with a good dose of butter or olive oil or fat like a fish or vitamin E containing things (eggs, nuts) to do its best work in your body. 

Vitamin A is rich in some vegetables like pumpkin and carrot, as well as in egg yolks and sweet potatoes.  Vitamin D can be gotten from eggs, fortified milk, fresh dark green vegetables and fish.   Vitamin B-12 is important for brain and anxiety health - it can be found in breads and meats, liver and some fish, eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese.  B12 is not easily absorbed from supplements.

Vitamin K helps with blood problems, and is from fresh dark green vegetables.  Vitamin E helps with collagen, skin and muscle issues and is present in sunflower seeds, almonds, fresh spinach and some fish and olives, and good olive oil, if you have it.

Fish is also a great source of omega threes, which are important for brain function.  As an American society, we have shunned fish and beans in our diets when they are actually great sources of important nutrients.  The same goes for garlic and onions.  We are losing those benefits by determining that food is 'smelly' to eat or has bad aftereffects with gas - and our bodies are hurting for it.  Beans help regulate blood sugar, provide iron and vitamin A, fiber and folates, which are important for rebuilding tissues.  Their protein is processed slower over the course of the day and keep you from snacking on sugary things and having blood sugar spikes.

When America decided that beans were not an 'elite' food somewhere in the fifties we lost a great dietary resource.  Same with the mercury scare on Fish - it became less a part of our diets because of worry, reduced to recommendations of 'once a week at most' by the FDA, and we have lost the important brain and fat regulation qualities that eating fish in your diet can provide.  The vitamins and nutrients in fish is very easily broken down and used by our nervous and tissue rebuilding systems, much easier than many other sources of meat.  It can also help improve mood in the winter with high amounts of Vitamin D, which counteract the lack of sun.

The big scare about fats and sugars was also not a 'complete story'.  We were given only what the big companies wanted us to hear - eat margarine, drink diet soda, avoid fat but sugar is A-OK.  No.  Fat is important to the brain and muscles and helping to create at a cellular level everything in your body.  There are societies that learned to subsist on mostly fat - and their bodies made  evolutionary changes based on this, and worked in healthful ways for millennia, until they met with new societies and began to consume large amounts of sugar again, and then began to have health problems (Arctic peoples like the Inuit, there have been many studies).

There has not been a single society that evolved to only eat mostly sugars - because our bodies cannot work that way.  Our brains are made of FAT.  We were made to eat fat, and to seek sugar where we can find it - because it is supposed to be rare and special, like in the fruit off a tree or berries in the meadow.  If you actively reduce your consumption of sugar for a few weeks, you will begin to taste again the sugar in sweet potatoes, cooked kidney beans, a good ripe tomato.  It will taste just as sweet as the most syrupy drink.  Our taste buds get 'mellowed' though, by constant consumption of high doses of sugar.

It is consuming the healthy fats with large doses of sugar that makes our bodies put on weight.  I've read this again and again recently in new books - and I really think they have something there.   Our bodies see this as a 'once in a lifetime chance' to store this bounty we have found.  But then it happens tomorrow, and the day after that -and the switch in our bodies doesn't just turn off.  Most people's metabolisms do not kick up in this situation, and help them burn more fat.  Even if they increase their exercise they will simply consume more to keep up with the exertion and their bodies will try to hold on to the storage for as long as possible - making them hungrier and hungrier, encouraging them to seek out more food for more stability.

So I am not anti-sugar, but it should be eaten in smaller quantities, and replaced with long-process foods such as beans and vegetables.  The sugary things, including bread and potatoes, should be kept to a minimum beside the meal.  No meal needs pasta, bread, potatoes and rice...(no matter what those combo meals tell you)  those are all high carbohydrate 'easy sugar' things - and should be limited to a few per meal (unlike the food pyramid suggests).. and sugary deserts added on top of that is just compounding the problem.

I'm not talking about fruit, it contains lots of fiber and a natural sugar, but fruit juices are mostly just the sugar and not the fiber, so count them as a treat.   And treats should be just that, once in a while, limited to a few times a day if that.  There was a reason it was 'dessert'... served at the end, and usually a very complicated recipe for a very small item.  Think about that - when we as a culture moved from the small slice of cake or a few tablespoons of fruit cobbler and ice cream as a 'big dessert' to eating half a plate of cake or a huge sundae every day for dessert?  It was an image thing, in magazines.. of opulence and wealth.. but it said nothing about health (or maybe it did.. the kid always had fat cheeks!)

Also, eating smaller amounts through the day and eating what you have cravings for if available will help you deliver what your body needs when it needs it.  I'm not talking about a craving for a candy bar, or a cheeseburger (mostly, although a cheeseburger is fat and iron!)... If you retune your taste buds you will begin 'tasting' cravings for  vitamins and nutrients that your body needs, like suddenly wanting a grapefruit, or spinach, to have fish tonight, or a dessert with berries or a handful of nuts.   And you will begin to eat less in sheer quantity when the quality and 'correctness' of what your body needs is in balance.  Cravings for eating large quantities of food are also a body signal - vacuum in as much as possible hoping that we can get the right amount of the nutrient we need.  When we hit that spot with a concentrated punch of the nutrient, the cravings for more and more food cease.

I am pro-butter, and olive oil, and fish, and eggs (not fed antibiotics).  These are healthful oils and fats and eaten with the rights fruits and vegetables will help rebuild your body every time it needs it.  And if you eat all of the above in variety and moderation AND reduce the sugar it should be actually processed by your body instead of stored in your arteries and excess weight. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

dishcloth yarn comparison sugar and creme vs sugarwheel vs berroco linsey

A little yarn geekery.  I am comparing three different types of dishcloth yarn I used in the past few months.  I used the same basic pattern for three of the cloths, and one of them is my 'seed stitch' variant I use for oven mitts.

They were all knitted with a 5 to 7 size knitting needle.  I prefer my bamboo 5's or my metal 7's for knitting dishcloths.

The Contestants
Yarn A : Hobby Lobby Sugarwheel cotton
Yarn B : Mix of Berroco Linsey and Rowan Creative Linen
Yarn C : 'thick weight' ombre version of Sugar and Creme
Yarn D : 'thin weight' ombre version of Sugar and Creme

The Winner (to me): thin weight ombre version of Sugar and Creme

Yarn A : Hobby Lobby Sugarwheel cotton

The green yarn was the last bit I had left - there are like five other cloths from a previous post wandering around the house.  It was very fun to knit with, especially on smaller needles... and the color shifts were nice, green to purple, blue to grey etc.

HOWEVER... they don't make great washcloths (or dishcloths, whichever you call them).  They are not very scrubby.  Maybe for a baby, they would be nice, or for delicate skin.  But I like to use these washcloths because they are scrubby - and exfoliate.  When we use different ones for the sink, they scrub the dishes well.  I make larger cloths sometimes for 'mop-up' and cleaning, and it is important that they are good scrubbing cloths, too.

This yarn stretches, instead of compressing tightly, even when knitted on the same needles.  So, even though the yarn is very tempting and pretty - I don't think it is a good yarn for making washcloths.  With that stretch, it has a nice drape, and could make pretty shirts or shrugs, if knitted or crocheted to work with the bias.

Yarn B : Berroco Linsey and Rowan Creative Linen

Yarn B is something I bought on clearance, and intended to weave with.  It is Berroco 'Linsey', a cotton and linen blend yarn.  It is kind of expensive when not on clearance, and I wouldn't buy it specifically to make washcloths.  But, it is the project that called to me to test it out.  I knitted with two colors (the other was actually Rowan Creative Linen, which is very similar.. so take this with a grain of salt across both brands.  I made two washcloths, one green and yellow even and one mostly yellow with a few stripes of the green (rowan)... and like them both.  My husband says it has a hard core, with a softer outside - and it is scrubby enough, without being rough.  So, yes, I like this one.  It was a little tougher to knit on the smooth needles, but it came out nicely.  It stretches a little, doesn't compress to the tight square as much, but washes up well.

Yarn C : the cheap but heavyweight Sugar and Creme
Yarn D : the slightly more expensive thin weight Sugar and Creme

Yarn C and D are two weights of the same 'cheap' yarn available at Wal-Mart and such... sugar and creme or peaches and creme.  It is the most basic cotton available.  D is a finer grade weight that they had on offer last year, and I snagged about five balls of that ombre (it is usually the ombres that are fine weight) and knit them up into lots of cloths.  I love that yarn.  It knit beautifully (as fun as the sugarwheel) and it actually inspired me to try lighter weight yarns for this purpose.  It is scrubby, and compresses tightly to the square and holds well wash after wash.  The ends I wove in are coming out a little - but it is on several of the others, too.  I throw them in with the towels and other clothing so they are not treated with kid gloves!

The oven mitt is a thicker seed-stitch variant in a slightly thicker-weight ombre Sugar and Creme.

Cloths A, B and D are made with 'Grandmother's Favorite' simple dishcloth pattern - you can find it easily online with a search.  It is one of the very first things I learned how to knit and does a good job of teaching increase, decrease and yarn over.

Pattern for Cloth C
To knit the oven mitt / dishwashing sink variant :

Cast on 36 to 50 stitches, depending on how wide you would like it to be.  My husband likes the 36 for dishwashing, fits the hand better without being too large.  We leave one of these draped over the kitchen sink for washing utensils and other things.  The 50 stitches are better for the oven mitt / mop up type cloth because then you want it bigger than your hand.  It is also important to use a yarn with a good compression, the stitches hold tight to each other, for the oven mitt type.  A yarn like Sugarwheel would not be good at ALL for this use.

Knit three rows of garter stitch.
Switch to this pattern for the rest of the cloth:
Knit three, seed stitch nearly to end, knit three
If you would like, knit every fifth or sixth row throw in three rows of plain garter stitch.  This will give a ripply effect to the cloth and lots of grip.  You can see I have done that in the peach and brown 'C' cloth.
End with three rows of garter stitch then cast off.

The next yarn I would like to try out is Knitpicks Cotlin dishcloth yarn.  I think it would combine a lot of these qualities.  However, I am just using up what I have - because the best part about knitting dishcloths is that it can be done while you are doing anything else, watching tv, reading articles, reading a book, listening to music, sitting in the garden, talking on the phone, waiting for something to timer ding that you are cooking etc etc... 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Joy in the little things

I had a bill to bring to the mailbox.  My dog, Daphne, which is a speck in the road in this picture as she runs up towards Grandma's house, was reluctant to go out in the cold at all.  So, I brought the bill up by myself the first time, and she stayed at home.  When I saw that I had a movie to go out, as well, I remembered the beauty of the frost melting in the grasses, and grabbed the camera.  Daphne came with me that time, and still grumbled about the cold, but was more on board for walkies once I had already been up there once.  In dog language, that means there are more things to sniff.

I was using the little camera, the one that isn't super-sharp and microscopic, but the shimmering still shines through.  And as I walked back home, I was rocking to Great Big Sea's 'till Everything Shines'... one of the songs I listened to a few days ago when I had the migraine.

(lyrics to Great Big Sea 'Everything Shines')

Hey, come this May
We'll be runnin' in the sun again
Your time will come
You're just a young broken heart
And I'm sleepin' in the yard
How could you be so dumb?

All we losers stand in line
Just waiting for our time
Broken angel take that plane
And finger paint the sky till everything shines
Everything shines
Everything shines
Everything shines
well.. not the best of lyrics there in the middle... although the first part is pretty resonant with this year. Check out their video on YouTube, with the melody it kind of sticks like a dart.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

just a sketch

a challenge to sketch 'myself as a map' 
looks like something from a cave wall, heh...

I had someone say that I looked like a butterfly.. and I have to admit, it really does - with the head to the top (which is true in my point of view, too) and my body to the bottom (also true.. but to them the span of time and my thoughts look like wings expanding out from me... it is a very beautiful thought. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

April 13th in the garden - peaches, strawberries and peas

My calico cat hunting in the garden - I think it was a lizard or a bug?

 field peas 'Whippoorwill southern cowpea' germinating

I planted peas 7 days ago, and they have begun to come up.  I also planted corn and other beans, radishes and lettuce at that time and nothing else has come up.  Corn and some beans can be up to 14 days.

My black cherry tree 

 The peach trees with tiny fruit

strawberries beginning to set

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter eggs 2020

Our chickens are laying about five eggs a day,  so we blew the yolks out of these eggs (by piercing both ends with a small hole, and blowing on one end over a cup), and the insides of the eggs can be used for food, while keeping the shells mostly intact for decorating.

We mixed a few colors of craft paint and each of us painted two or three eggs.  The shells would have just gone to compost, but we had a little fun with them :)

Next time I would like to try some of the natural dye methods, using turmeric powder, beets or blueberries, to see what colors the brown eggs will give with the natural dyes.

Friday, April 10, 2020

a Raised Bed garden for vegetables

The raised bed garden I built between yesterday and today for Irene. 
along with her cat and dog helpers :)

It is 16 standard cement blocks, and about 12 bags of different soils, a third of which is 'container gardening mix'   We lined the bottom of the area with cardboard before we put the soil on top, just like I did in my own raised bed garden three years ago.  The next step is to water it down good, and let it drain a little, and plant a few test quick-germinate things to make sure the ph level is good. 

Radishes like pH of 4 to 5.  If they come up purple instead of green - it is WAY too 'hot' of soil.  Komatsuna and mustard greens like 5 to 6 pH, and cabbage likes 6 to 7.  All of these things should show 'signs of life' within 3 to 6 days if the soil mixture is good.  If it is, then put the greenhouse plants in it.  If you see any warning signs, get a pH kit or, in the case of knowing that it is 'hot' - add pelletized lime, water down and let drain again before trying again.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

The garden on April 9th during the COVID-19 lockdown

It is my garden philosophy that I don't have to pull every single weed.  I don't use mulch, and I tend to let the garden lead me where it may... which some years means harvesting the fruits of the greenhouse plants, and the first flush of seeds from the heirloom beans to save - then letting the rest go by the wayside...  Other years I'm out there every other day making soup from every little bit I can scrounge.  Every year is different. I'm thinking this will probably be one of the latter years, with everything going on.

This year I have changed up the infrastructure a little.  That circle of bricks to the right in the bottom picture was there maybe seven years ago?  But the raised bed was not there until three years ago.  The time felt right to put it back, and I even put up a bean fence and put the Mayflower beans next to it.

The pictures do not show the last bit of what I did before sundown.  I was out in the garden at sunrise this morning -- and in the afternoon -- and at sundown, but not a lot of the time in between.  I sat for a while and knitted in the sunshine before noon :)

Before sundown I planted seven hills in the front of the long section.  Each hill has about five Kenearly Yellow Eye beans (bush) and a Zephyr hybrid squash seed or two on the right hand edge.  This is flying by the seat of my pants here.  It was about 6 pm and I looked over at the seed box and said 'ok, this is what is going down right now.'  Up until that very moment I was saying 'yes I will put the Zephyr somewhere' and 'yes I will put some sort of bush bean there, but I don't know what or how, yet.'

I took sixteen of the cement blocks and made Irene the start of a raised garden.

But, we are in the year of COVID-19, and the plan I had made to go back and get dirt at that garden center was upended by a new city ordinance pertaining to 'quarantine lockdown' someone posted about that is 'food, fuel and work only or be arrested'.. I'm sure that is a bit more than the actual law intends - they conveniently did not link to it - but I don't want to be subject to bad interpretations.. so now I'm avoiding that city like they must have wanted everyone to do.. right?  So that business I support doesn't get one of the few orders I might have done this year because of this? And it will probably all change again next week.  Last week they were still saying that garden plants were okay, but don't linger and don't browse.  This week, they've gone Machiavellian... but probably only according to people posting on Facebook who are a bit bored?  I'm not sure.  I'll remember this in a few years.

There is another store in the other town that not only has internet ordering (which the other one didn't - 'in store buy only'), but has curbside pickup without getting out of your car.  So I guess they get the money and we still get an extra vegetable bed for Grandma.

Who knows how 'essential' that is going to be this year, but in almost any year I would call it essential if someone wants to put the work into the soil for fresh food.

((climb down off the soapbox))

I guess I get a little worked up about gardens, and especially because without them, gardens that is, we are stuck buying everything out of a box that may or may not be there when we go to pick it up again.  We found that out a month ago - with all the empty shelves.  It's warm enough now (it wasn't then) so let's grow.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Knit we go in quarantine

Well, except that I am an essential worker.  But, I will remember this as the item I knit during this time.  I have a pink version of this one that I knit a few months ago, and I have worn it as a skirt (belly warmer) and a shawl, and used it simply to cover my legs while I sit and read or type.

It is a size 7 circular needle, and this particular one comfortably fits about 130 to 150 stitches before they want to pop off.  So, that is the size these blankets are.  It works out with the Red Heart acrylic yarn to be about 3 feet wide, and then I knit them about 4 foot long.

They are really handy little things to have around.
Weaving in all the ends of the stripes can be a bit hectic, but they look too plain otherwise, and I use up lots of little balls of scrap yarn in the process.

The nubbly areas are seed-stitch alternated for three to five rows and then back to garter stitch.  The stripe rows are two passes of each color.

Really simple but effective and useful knitting.


I saw a LOT of knitting posts lately, and yarn stashes, and deliveries etc etc... and I'm not doing anything fancy or ordering a lot of special yarn.. but I am glad to have something to work on.

I washed up and finished out the two Simply Soft scarves I had been making - one in magenta garter stitch and one in grey brick stitch.  They are about 10 to 12 inches wide and 5 and 6 foot long. respectively.  They are lovely and useful, as well.  I wore one of them around my neck up to the mailbox when it was cold the other morning, and the other one I had worn when I was wearing the pink shawl as a skirt and kept warm on top and bottom. 

That is a good yarn to hold up, although 3.68 per skein now at the store and what I have is mostly because Mark and Esme have given me them over the years as presents - silky and colorful yarns, they are definitely the type to draw the eye in.  I threw both of the scarves through the wash and they came out very nice - except I also threw in a wool scarf I had forgotten what it was made of and it came out really soft but kind of small - only 6 inches now by about 4 feet - but it is still a good neckwarmer type for tucking into a jacket collar.  I've worn a few of my knit hats, too lately - same reasons.. and making more of those for the 'pile' would be useful, too.

I also finished two net market bags, one book size and the other towel size for the beach.  The towel one is made of the same green yarn as this.

And of course wash cloths, I had stacks of them a few weeks ago - and they are all finished up and put into circulation.

Pink April Moon drawing

It was supposed to be a pink supermoon last night, the pink moon of April.  I went out to take a good look, and knew that everything I was seeing was not going to be captured on a camera.  But, as I watched the orange fireflies rise and blink, and the clouds race across the moon, turning white to grey to indigo blue in places, I said : 'My eyes are my camera right now.'

I looked at what was the most important to capture.  The feathery way the dark black trees appeared in the light.  The blue permeating through the sky beneath and between the branches.. the bits of pink and blue in the sky around the moon and the clear halo of light with edges of yellow permeating out in circles.

Then I tried to capture it with my pencils and pen.

I know not everyone sees all the colors in the first place, or the way the light shimmers and effects.  Some of it is probably my synesthesia.  But, as much as I have tried to capture visually does bring back the scene to me 'physically'... so even if the drawing is just for myself, I like it.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Make sun shades for indoor start seedlings, prevent sunburn!

Are you ready to garden this year?
Our calico cat is, and she swears she's helping.

I am going to show how to make a cheap effective sun shade, to prevent sunburn on your newly transplanted indoor seedlings.

This is very important!  A lot of people will sunburn their seedlings without knowing it, because they forget to harden them off - or they buy them from a hothouse that did not harden off properly.  Sometimes, the sun is just too much for an indoor-raised plant.  It will show by bits of the leaves turning white or pale yellow and flaking away, like brittle paper.

To help prevent it, we are going to try to block some of the noon and afternoon sun from hitting the plants full force.

It is also important that this be a light colored, but not bright white cloth.  Bright white will send too many rays reflecting back off the cloth.

I grabbed this cotton cloth because it is handy.. and I don't care that it will not survive to next year.  The sun will damage the cloth over time and make it brittle, too - but by then, your plant will have grown up healthy, we hope!

Cut a rectangle off your fabric about as wide as your tomato cage and at least as tall, maybe more.  Cut an inward gash on all four corners, but not too far, as you don't want the fabric to tear completely and the strip to come off easily.

Now you will tie the top two strips to the wires above your plant, creating a little 'tent' for it.  I do this on the WEST side of my plants, because I have trees to the EAST that block most of the bright morning sun.  If you pull the fabric a bit over the middle of the cage as well it will block direct noon sun...

If you are out in the open and need protection on both sides - make two shades, one for each side, or tie the rectangle more over the top - we aren't blocking all the sun, just the hottest sun so that the plant can have a rest.

In some years when I only had one or two plants I would set up a few buckets and a board on the west side and be done with it - but this is the way to ensure each plant gets some shade when it needs it most.

Just loop a slip knot around the wire and then pull it shut - but not too tight, as it could tear.

I usually tie the bottom ties as well, positioning the shade so it blocks most of the sun at 2 or 3 o clock in the afternoon, putting them out about this time will ensure you are blocking the light all the way to sundown.  

You can do this with old shirt fabric or an old sheet and protect your time investment in your seedlings.  Sometimes I will tear up some of these shades later to help tie bits of vines loosely to the cage, once the plant is big. 

The other tips I got from my mentor was to bury my tomato seedlings 'all the way to their ears' in the hole, but not with the leaves actually touching the soil!  If the leaves touch the soil that keeps them moist with dew and that can invite viruses and bacteria to the plant etc.  Add a little loose dirt and water at the bottom of the hole, and then put the seedling pot contents into it.  Gently press loose dirt in and around the seedlings pressing the outer corners of the pot soil down into the dirt, while trying not to break the stems of the seedlings.

Sources :

I was taught to do the sun shades by Tom Carpenter, of the University of Minnesota Experiment Station, way back in 1994 when I was at one of my very first employments.  He had also had my father on the farm when I was a small child and he was in the National Guard with Mr. Tom.  I was proud to hear about the gardens, see my father's picture on the wall and learn the different ways to take care of plants.  The plants we made 'much larger' sunshades for were delicate shade plants that were part of experimental seed trials.  But, he explained to me it could be done for even a small plant or with a large sheet for an entire area, as long as it was secured well, and to take it down in a high wind or heavy downpour.

 My 'bury them to their ears' comes from Mr. Harold Cole who I worked with at Lowe's.  It was a long time ago, but once in the breakroom he was talking about planting and gardening and I was all ears. Ha!  He said the plant will grow extra feelers / suckers in the stem to take in more nutrients and be stronger if you bury it all the way up to the leaves delicately and water it in gently.  He said he planted 90+ tomatoes every year from seedlings!

Also be sure to water your plant in and check on it the next day and the day after that.  It is only common sense - but you want to make sure the shade has not been torn or blown away.  And remember if it is going to rain hard you will want to maybe put a 5 gallon bucket over the top of your seedling and 'squidge' it in to the soil (so it doesn't just collect water under the edge)  Remove the bucket as soon as you can - or it will get hot under it the next day.

Enjoy, good gardening!

Rudbeckia weeds loved by chickens, garden in April and hostas

Our Cherokee Rose bush will have white flowers in a few days.  This is what our goat was trying to eat behind the fence the other day.  When it blooms the flowers will be so fragrant.

Our little red chickens have been loving the 'rudbeckia' weed flowers I have been feeding them.  They are giving us four to six eggs per day, little brown ones and once in a while a bigger one.


 This is what they are eating.  I have called it 'white aster' in the past, but the Tennessee weed gallery I found a few weeks ago called it a relative of the black-eyed susan, or rudbeckia plant.

and this is what they look like from a bit back.. they are behind the area I tilled outside, so they are going to stay there and be good chicken fodder when I need a handful of something they can eat.

What the garden looks after my work yesterday

The 'Blue Angel' hosta
we have several of these coming up

The Frances Williams hosta, it will get a lot bigger!  
And Esme's lambs ear plant behind it.

The Blue Angel always 'gets up early' in the Spring.  The Frances Williams starts to come in behind it, about now, and the Aureomarginata won't wake up until the first week of June or so... and I am not sure why but it just is always a late riser.

Esme's dianthus plant from the Amish greenhouse, still strong!

My mom used to call the perennial version of this (biennial, I've actually learned) 'sweet william'.  That was in Minnesota.  We grew them around the side of the house in town, with lilies of the valley, blue grape hyacinth and tiger lilies.  She had bluebells on the other side of the house, and red Appledoorn tulips.  I was always so fascinated by gardens, even back then.

So this is actually a biennial - and then it reseeds itself every year from the first plant, and becomes 'almost a perennial'.  It is a fascinating little plant.  The edges can be fringed, like this one, or smooth - depending on the variety.  It can come in a wide array of pinks, reds, whites and purple combinations.

Friday, April 03, 2020

experimental soup

Cooking is like math, chemistry and art all put together.  And, as long as you don't have someone relying on your mastery of the dish to get them through today - it can be fun to experiment.  And of course, if you actually try to eat your failures.. or have someone who will (I have six hounds).

But, on that point, I also know I'm probably not too far off base when the hounds show up at my feet towards the end of the cooking.  They have expectant eyes and say: 'I smelled that from upstairs.  You're gonna share, right?'

Well, I might.  It really depends on how weird it is.
Their idea that something can be tried to be eaten three times (And come back up) before you count it as failed isn't something I want to trifle with.

On the other hand, I pretty much know my own taste buds and stomach aren't going to end up in a cleanup crew.

Yesterday's experimental soup was a pretty good success.  It wasn't too weird.  It was just green peas, onions and an addition of zante currants.  I ran it all through the blender after a good long slow boil, and it was pretty normal.  I couldn't really taste the currants.  But, for vitamins and minerals sake, I know it wasn't a bad idea at all.

Today, I got away with myself.

I thought - what else can I do with onions, to make it different?
We're in 'self-isolation' social distancing, so I can't just run to the store - I'm limited to what I find in my cupboards and refrigerator.

The dogs still showed up towards the end, but I think I'll reserve this one for my own eating!

Walnut Cherry onion soup

2 small onions, chopped
1 cube chicken boullion
water to 3/4 of the saucepan full
2 tbsp real buitter

I let that all simmer and boil together for a while - nothing special at all.. onion broth.  Then I  started with the spices.

celery seed, about twice what I normally do
black pepper, a good amount
some ground coriander, a little
some paprika, about 1/8 tsp (covers the opposite end of my actual soup spoon)
A shake of turmeric
some caraway seed (what was I thinking?)

taste it.. well not quite nice but not awful... verging on awful, probably wouldn't eat it on purpose.

So - what to do, what to do.. poke through the rest of the spices.. look at the canned vegetables.. taste the soup again, think about what could counterbalance the caraway seed....

Grab a handful of walnuts from the freezer, grind them up in the little grinder, add some broth, grind again, add to soup.  OK, that helped some, but not enough.  Add a tablespoon of walnut oil from the cupboard.  Still about the same, oilier.. still okay

THINK about everything else that I actually have on hand right now.
And then I found the unopened maraschino cherries in the fridge.  Good through 2021.  Well, it's about time to open them, isn't it?  I took out about seven cherries, de-stemmed them and chopped them up with my knife.  They went in the soup.

Let that all cook for a few minutes, taste the soup.  Getting there.
Take out my cup blender and run the entire soup through it (that is dangerous, btw, you have to do it bit by bit and be careful not to splash yourself with hot soup.. I don't recommend it for anyone who can't take extreme care... it's better than handling chemicals in chemistry class, though.. so I just run with it).

Taste the soup.
Look down at my knee.
Minerva has arrived.  She wants soup.
The smell of blending the last things together brought her trotting down the stairs.  She's still not getting  much...she got to lick the bowl.

there you have it, walnut cherry onion soup

and yes, that is one of the very weirdest things Ive cooked so far
if this social distancing thing goes on for more months, I'll probably even out-do this recipe.

It apparently is not all that abnormal.  Take a look at what other people have done with walnuts, cherries and onions. 

Thursday, April 02, 2020

what is that weird bark? a tree with winged bark in Tennessee

What is that weird bark?

My daughter had a hard time finding it by any description we could come up with.  We tried fractured bark, and corrugated bark, fragmented bark and corrupted bark (all good words, but not quite showing up)  And then we found the terms winged bark and corky bark.

So - what is this tree?
We were pretty sure it is a winged elm.

Ulmus alata

We found this website that had great pictures:

The research:

We did look up that it does grow in West Tennessee, where we are located.  I found some great pictures on another site that show trees of this species in the exact state of 'small pinnate emerging leaves'.

At one point we thought it might be a sweet gum tree, as they have bark like this.  There are also a lot of sweet gums in this area, as evidenced by the small spiky ball seed pods they leave on the ground.  But the difference that assured us this was something else is that they have 'hand shaped' leaves, with five points.  We could tell by carefully examining these emerging leaves that they were pinnate, arrow-shaped or feather-shaped leaves.  Each little leaf had a very clear line down the middle and was relatively smooth-edged.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020


It was a bit colder than I liked out there this morning, but the dewdrops were shining very pretty from the rain last night.  The lemon balm (Above) was such a bright bright green I am glad the camera could catch some of it.

The rose bush is putting out its new leaves, transforming red to green.  I caught a nice close-up of it, too, doing its thing.

and one of our resident herd dogs (Sweetie) behind the fence watching the goat trying her very best to eat a Cherokee rose bush, which is behind another fence! (for just that reason).  She is tied up on a long dog lead string that stretches up and down our driveway, allowing her to eat any greens along that pathway.  And I come out with the camera she gets my attention and says 'I can still eat this.  See?'

In the obscure thought category.. I had this memory come back to me today as I walked up to the mailbox to pop an order for seeds into the mailbox.

I remember when I was a child (probably 9 or 10) kneeling down on the board over the creek at Arbo Road, the one that flowed into the Prairie River, and holding a big flat slate rock in the current.  I remember how cold the water was, as cold as the air this morning, and how strong the flow was, pulling against my grip on the rock like a lever.  I remember thinking how very cold it was, and how much of the water had passed by, and how much was still coming downstream.

It was probably thinking of all of those idioms from the farm yesterday - reliving those moments, feeling the place and the grass, the trees and the road in my mind's eye again... It is something I wish I could take pastels or paints to paper and make visible for everyone - but so much of my good memories are tangible, inexplicable almost memories.  It is a feeling of bounded and boundless space meeting and intersecting, the taste of the air and how it changes between sun and shadow, dry grass and moss, the tangy scent of creeping charlie as it is pulled from creeping up the walls, green painted tarpaper rough under fingers, sundried sheets slightly stiff on the line, big yellow basswood leaves flapping in the wind, yet soft and slick at the same time under your fingers, dried leaves brittle and separating into a thousand fragments in your hand...  It is the change in temperature, the feel of old enamel painted metal and rusted red iron  and big flat stones leading to the house and distance looking down the gravel road. 

This is the Cherokee Rose, (Rosa laevigata) that the goat is trying to eat up above.  It will bloom soon in a fragrant profusion of small white flowers with yellow centers.  Here is the Wikipedia link. It says it is actually an invasive species to North America, but brought so long ago, in the 1700s, that it has naturalized across the Southeastern United States.  My husband's family definitely thinks of them as naturalized.  They are popping up in several places in the woods here, and we have let this one continue to grow where it came up and enjoy it every year.  The bees love them, they gather around the flowers as well when they arrive.