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Hitting Restart

Dear Ellen,

My participation in this blog of late seems to be limited only to putting up new episodes of the podcast.  While that in and of itself is a healthy contribution, it seems I’ve not written anything about antics on the farm or within our family for way to long.  As time drags out it is becoming apparent that the massive “catch up” blog post is becoming more and more overwhelming.  So much so that I’ll never do it.  Therefore I am declaring a restart!  I will provide below a photo montage of many things that are happening or have happened in the last three months without much care about chronology or detail.  Once that’s done, then that’s it…the past is behind me.  And maybe my next post will be more manageable!

Love, Jan

2-imag0352.jpg I made gorgeous yarn.

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It became Swagger, an almost published design.

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1-marie-knits-001.jpgMarie not only modeled for me, but she also got bitten by the knitting bug.  (So proud!)

1-img_0690.JPGI designed the perfect gauntlets with which to feed chickens.

1-fiber-factor.jpgI entered designs in the Fiber Factor competition, but will have to try again next year.

1-imag0435-001.jpg Dorito took up tweeting as doritothealpaca.  He seems unable to use capital letters because of his two-toedness.

1-imag0431.jpg The other alpaca are unimpressed.  (Fun to peek over your mom!)

1-imag0392.jpg We got our farm name established legally…and physically.

1-imag0202-001.jpg I scored an amazing quilt at the Bart Township Mud Sale.  (For cheap!)

1-imag0381.jpgCharlie (Allen and Libby’s dog) met the gang…they were alert, but when they figured out that she’d run off if they challenged her, they went back to grazing.

1-imag0488.jpgWe toured a robotic dairy farm where cows choose when to be milked (and queue up nicely for it) and go to the self-service back scratchers whenever they like.

1-imag0528.jpgI finished the second version of my Entrelac Capelet pattern…minus the closure as I can’t seem to lay my hands on that stupid clasp!

1-dsc06547.JPGDale built the gang a little mountain so they can play king of the hill.  (Amelia is hoping neither of the boys will put the other’s eye out.)

6-_sc06481.JPGWe had a visitor to the farm from a 5th grade class in Illinois.  She liked the chickens but could not figure out how to lay an egg.

1-dsc06507-002.JPGNew babies came home to live with us for eight weeks.  Then they’ll live with our frozen food.  Very cute now…good thing they won’t stay cute long and that there are so many I won’t be able to name them. (I did help the the one on his back regain his footing…at a day old he couldn’t handle it himself.)

1-_sc06471-001.JPGWe made a boomerang trip to help mom celebrate her 90th birthday.

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We are thrilled to see everything on the farm wake up with the arrival of spring.

1-imag0419-1.jpgExcept for Ruby that is.

And with that, that’s it!

Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

Dear Ellen,

In further efforts to catch up with blog posting, I give you July…and August…and a bit of September.  My next post will be filled with knitterly goodness as opposed to being a recap of “What I Did During My Summer Vacation.”

Love, Jan

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Fourth of July was celebrated at the ball park with a loss for the Lancaster Barnstormers.

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But there were some great fireworks!

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Much Nature was Admired.

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New York City was wandered about to include Central Park (with it’s Manhattan cityscape and unfortunate goat being devoured by eagles, hopefully not fiber goats), Union Square (in whose locale I discoverd a wedding dress made of teaspoons), a funky bar (where the art immortalizes sheep eating lamb carpaccio) and the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (where I ate one of the best ice cream cones I have ever had!!).

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Vegan food of such delight was consumed at my lovely niece’s culinary school.  So nice to be there in your company as well as that of my daughter and my other niece.  And who knew?…vegan was pretty darned tasty!  (But I was hungry within several hours…note visit to BGIS above.)

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August brought the annual pig roast at Mark and Cheryl’s where much enjoyment was had!

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More natural beauty.

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Visits galore (including Bambi Galore, get it?  Heh!)

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And our sad farewell to the best dog ever.

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September has brought happier times with a visit to Ohio (where you can attend the Jug Fest and watch barges on the Ohio River with Mom and her companion or have a stare-down with Glenda, the kitty in the sidetable drawer.

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And Allen has transferred from duty in Bahrain and has made it home!  He and his fiancee joined me in perusing the SOLANCO (Southern Lancaster County) Fair where we saw animal friends enjoying fair food.  They love it here, which is good as his next duty station is only about an hour away.  That really helps as they can base out of the farm to look for their next home and are close at hand for wedding planning.

Phew!  I’m tired…that was a full summer!

Love, Jan

What a Difference a Week Makes

Dear Ellen,

1-june-2012-001.jpgThings are really growing around here…the lists of to-do’s before next week’s festivities, the sense of anxiety that I won’t get it all done in time, the worry that it won’t be good enough for you all (oh, wait, I can scratch that one from the anxiety list), the scarf I’m making for the CNO and our tomatoes.  The picture here is the same tomato, 5 days elapsed between shots.  I also have blossoms on my pumpkins, melons and gourds and some grape tomatoes are starting to set.

1-4-star-scarf.jpgAnd as I noted the scarf has really grown too.  Once I got into the rhythm, this stitch pattern moved along much more quickly. At first it seemed to take forever! Truth is, you are knitting 4 rows for length you would normally achieve in 2 rows. The pay off is a wonderful fabric, dense but not too dense and it looks nice on both sides. This would make a fantastic structured jacket.  Now it’s all done except for weaving in a few ends.  The fabric really wanted to curl pretty significantly, so I wet blocked it and pinned it.  I wanted the edges to stay smooth and straight and didn’t really need to go to the extent of blocking wires.  So, I placed the pins a bit in from the edge and on a severe angle so that they were nearly horizontal.  The end product is scallop/point-free.  And the Galway benefited from the bath.  It was a bit stiff/scratchy knitting up, but during its soak it relaxed and softened up .  Dale loves it — is now hinting broadly that one in black and gold (Army colors) would be just the thing.

2-4-star-scarf-001.jpgDo you recall Erica blogging about her woven origami bag? She and I agreed that the strong geometric vibe of this scarf would suit the same kind of treatment. I tried it out just to see what it would look like. I folded it twice — once to see how it would look with the center lined up for the lower left corner (the center of the scarf is where I reversed the diagonal so that when it’s worn it will be symmetrical) and so that the simple diagonal was at the corner. I like them both, but do think the center on the corner adds some extra interest.  This collage also shows how nice the fabric looks on both sides…and the finished scarf folded and ready for wrapping.  (Once those ends are actually taken care of and not just tucked under!)

I’m down to a single work week.  The following week I do check out with the Navy clerks and then we have a few days to finish moving the last of our things to PA.  You’ll be here Wednesday — I’m excited for you to see the farm and hope you’ll love it!  And I’m pretty excited about Thursday too!

Love, Jan

True Colors

Dear Ellen,

dsc04599.JPGDale convinced me that I should have a hand knit thank you gift for the Chief of Naval Operations when he does my retirement.  And he told me it should be a scarf.  And it had to be in navy blue and gold colors for the Navy.  And it needed to be cool looking.  He is convinced that the CNO will never have had anything knit for him by an admiral before.  He is probably right.  So, I agreed.  Then I spent several days searching for a reversible pattern stitch that worked with two colors.  I decided to do slip stitch diagonal stripes.  And I found the yarn at a fantastic little shop in the northern part of Lancaster County.  Since then I’ve been busy on it, but it still has about 40% to go.  I should come in under the deadline without too much fuss.  And I like it well enough that I may modify it and knit another for Dale and to work for a pattern to publish.  I’ll put up a photo of the back side when I think of it.  It is not identical, but is very nice so although the scarf is not truly reversible, it works.

dsc04600-001.JPGHere are some other colors I saw this weekend.  Our ferns are just gorgeous right now.

dsc04603.JPGAnd so are our table scraps.

Love, Jan

Remember Me???

Dear Ellen,

Sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted.  As you know, I’ve been a tad busy.  So, here’s your quick catch up!

All the way back in April (as you obviously know) I had a wonderful, wonderful time visiting your workplace and meeting and speaking so many of your colleagues and co-workers.  So many good memories and ideas from that visit!  The Navy let me hang around for a few more days so I could do some outreach for them — speaking to a number of groups in academia and youth development.  (My favorite was the time I spent with about 60 3rd-8th graders talking about women in technology.  Ten year-olds really keep you on your toes!!) 

susannas-beaded-mitts.JPGIt was great that the trip included Yarnover weekend.  Vendors, classes with Chris Bylsma, Mary Scott Huff and Susanna Hansson, and of course, time with you meant for fantastic fun!  (For our readers, no, the picture on the lower left is not one of us.)  I loved the chance to visit StephenBe’s and to enjoy the sensory overload that is his world.

dsc04536.JPGAnd then, right after I returned to the DC area, I had the chance to take a class with Brenda Dayne of the Cast-On podcast.  She is as lovely as you would expect from her podcast.  I thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to get to know her a bit — witty, smart, funny and engaging.  She’d fit right in to any group that you and I put together, that’s for sure.

dsc04587.JPGThe class project was the Mrs. Beeton wristers.  I went against recommendations on my accent yarn choice (purchased at Yarnover!), but I’m very happy with it.  Future versions should include a modification to accomodate the lack of elasticity in the Seduce (rayon, linen, silk and nylon blend).  The minor problem is that without the “sproing” the knitted ruffle works up to a depth that is a bit too long.  It hides the inner ruffle knitted out of the main yarn, a superwash merino sock yarn.  I do love the contrast in texture though…even more so than for the versions of Mrs. Beeton worked with the recommended yarn types.  The simple fix will be to modify the ruffle pattern to lose just a few rows and that will be very easy.

may-20121.JPGThings are definitely popping up all over the farm these days. That gazebo I mentioned is firmly situated across from the house — bedding plants to come.  And I’ve got fairy ring mushrooms, knock out roses, peas, melons, corn, wildflowers, onions and spinach coming along very nicely!

may-2012.JPGOur tenants are doing well too.  I thought the chickadee had abandoned her nest in the birdhouse and opened it to make sure.  Surprise!  She was right there.  I quickly snapped a picture and closed it back up.  She didn’t twitch a bit and the next day was still sitting her clutch.  I was relieved I hadn’t frightened her by the rude intrusion.  The eggs above our front windows have hatched (see the tail sticking out?) and the babies are making a mess of things.  (That’s okay, we know how to use a scrub brush.)  And the purple finch who nested in the holly bush just outside our back door has laid a nice little trio of beautiful blue eggs with little black speckles.  I caught this photo while she was out taking advantage of the bird feeders.

dsc04573.JPGI’ve put some time in at the spinning wheel and now have 3 very full bobbins of alpaca/tussah silk singles.  I’ll be doing some trial plying of these to see how I want to finish them.  I’m hoping two-ply will yield a heavy sock weight or light DK. 

briar-rose.JPGThe alpaca fleece that I ordered from Morro Fleece Works arrived this past Saturday and it is incredibly lush!  I was so glad I had an extra bobbin at the ready and on Sunday I sat down and spun up about 4 1/2 ounces.  Like buttah!  The roving drafted like an absolute dream — the closest to the zen of spinning that I think I’ve experienced.  It’s a semi-worsted spin with a lot of energy.  I want to test out how a highly spun and highly plied alpaca behaves in a fabric.  I love this color and this fleece so much that I’d really like to use it for the Knitmore SPAKAL, but am smart enough to know I need to figure out the lack of elasticity issue before I knit an entire sweater out of it!  (By the way, I’m seriously considering Mishke by Julie Weisenberger.  Yes, she seems to have both of our attentions!

dsc04527.JPGBefore I say goodbye, I want to share the helmet liner I knit for my trusted assistant.  He is heading off to Afghanistan for a year to command an Air Force communications squadron over there.  I wanted him to stay warm, a small token of my appreciation for all the hard work he did for me over the last few years.  He loved it…can you see the smile?  His last day is tomorrow.  We’ll all be sorry to see him go.  Good luck, Mike!

That’s it — next post will be sooner and shorter.  I promise!

Love, Jan

Finished, Almost Finished and Just Begun

Dear Ellen,

dsc04464.JPGI finished up two projects this weekend.  Pipeliner’s Journey only required weaving in of ends and some final photos.  Dale was my photographer and he usually shoots about 12 shots for every one that meets my peculiar demands that both the project and the model be shown off to their best advantage.  I should have let him keep shooting!  I do suppose it’s fair to say that it is a valid representation of both subjects.

dsc04459.JPGI also finished the i-cord edging and added a two button and loop closure on Ann’s Big Heart.   Alison’s shawl patterns are quite nice as they really do stay put on your shoulders and have a feminine, but not overly frilly look (you know I don’t do well with too girly stuff).  I added the closure as I expect Ann may be wearing this in situations where she may be leaning back against pillows and that could be a challenge for even the most shoulder hugging of shawls.  The other shawls in Wrapped In Comfort are longer– again, I thought this more suitable a length for the purpose.  I wore it for a while while working around the house in just a tee-shirt.  It was the perfect bit of warmth to keep me comfortable.

dsc04467.JPGAnd I have one more project nearing completion.  All I have to do is sew on one last sleeve, finish the side seam, add the crotch snaps, sew on shoulder buttons, add a short ribbed collar and complete some simple backstitched line embroidery on the front.  I’m very pleased with how this came out, it’s for the son of one of my former assistants.  The baby was born in January, but this is the 6-12 month size, so I am confident it will reach him in plenty of time for a lot of wear.  It’s made out of Debbie Bliss Eco Baby,  a predominantly cotton yarn as they live in Hawaii — and ergo the name, Aloha Onesie.  It’s based on the Ducky Onesie pattern in the Vintage Baby Knits book.

march-20123.jpgThe farm kept us busy this weekend.  Our flowering plants are coming along quite nicely and as usual I enjoyed the birds at our feeders.  However, we are now on the hunt for some way to prevent the squirrels from devastating the sunflower seed supply that doesn’t obliterate the possibility for good photos.  A cage around the feeders would work, but the obscuration of view kind of defeats the purpose.  Dale is evaluating the possibility of inverted pie pans.  I am contacting Navy friends to find a supply of discarded rat guards.

dsc04438.JPGI am pleased to report that my raised beds are now populated with brussels sprouts, early cabbage, romaine lettuce, various leaf lettuces, butter lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli and early tomatoes.  We’ll see how many are around after a week of exposure — I’m mostly concerned about the deer, not the temperatures.  These have all been hardened outside for the last two weeks, so the weather should not be a problem.

dsc04447.JPGIf all the deer were willing to leave exchanges, I’d likely be less phased by the prospect of sharing our bounty with them.  We found this little down payment from the buck that lives in our woods.  Dale spent another hour searching for its mate.  (The other antler, not a doe — besides, this guy is polygamist, he’s got three does!)  I had a notion that I’d like to make buttons and toggles from any antlers we might find, but now that we have one, I don’t know if I can bear carving it up.

I’ve got 24 minutes before I’m expected to be ready to pile into the car and head back to Alexandria…at least we are almost down to less than 3 months before I will be here full time.  I can hardly wait!!

Love, Jan

A Fungus Among Us

Dear Ellen,

december-2011-1.jpgChristmas on the farm has been wonderful.  I didn’t get nearly as much done as I would have liked –it seemed like the time just flew by.  We did have a number of day trips during the week, so I’m sure that was a good deal of it.  We did do plenty of wandering about the farm.  Several of the dead trees have started producing a prodigious amount of fungi.  I guess to be accurate, the trees are only playing host to the organism, but still I’m impressed.

dsc04036.JPGWe got out solar power panels completed and laid in some pea gravel underneath.  We think we’ll also close off the sides and ends so we can use it to store all-weather gear like shovels and the wheelbarrow and such.  We’re producing more than we use already (okay, so the sun and the solar panels are producing it, not us actually), so from here on out we can say goodbye to the electric bill.  I’ll figure it out for sure, but I believe we are now carbon footprint negative on the farm.

dsc04060-2.JPGOne of the day trips that I made was back to DC where I sat with about 20 Navy women for Secretary Clinton’s unveiling of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.  She gave a very stirring speech and kindly pointed out that we were in the audience.  We had great seats, 6 rows back from the podium.  If you haven’t checked out the plan, I highly recommend it.  If we want a better world, we really need to encourage more women to be involved in making the decisions about it.

dsc04071.JPGWe also traveled to New York to see the girls and share a meal with them.  This, of course, was the scene of the great Marshall Chess Club caper.  I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of Jenny while we were with her.  She was, as always, a delight to be with.  She even got Dale to try some vegan food after we pulled off the heist.

dsc04062.JPGWith great relief I finished knitting Marie’s Christmas socks just in time to block them and take them on the trip so they could find their way under their tree.  Socks for Heidi were there too.

dsc04073.JPGOn Christmas Eve we made the trek to State College to take Dale’s mom to dinner and share gifts with her.  She got the Foggy Coast cardigan I’ve been working on…and seemed to like it very much.  It fit her great!

dsc04066.JPGdsc04086.JPGTwo of our Santa surrogates (you and Chris) evidently thought we needed a little more of the birds and the bees.  Chris gave us this awesome birdhouse…the copper roof goes so well with our porch roof.  We put it in the side garden right next to the turret.  And you (of course you know this, but someone else might be interested) gave us this very cozy bee house.  We’ll place it out in the treeline where we get some great wildflowers and hopefully we’ll get a little colony going there.

jan-spins-1.jpgDale was a VERY nice Santa too.  He got me some very nice things (like the tee shirt I’m wearing while I type this — “Think Globally.  Act within local variable scope.”  Show it to your favorite programmer.  he will probably love it as much as me.) and I was very, very content.  Then he told me to close my eyes.  When I was allowed to open them a Kromski Sonata was sitting in front of me.  Talk about a surprise!  Picture me (the one without a single wheel spinning lesson) spending the rest of the day figuring it out.  I used pencil roving to do the bobbin full of the purpley-greenish-blue single.  I realize this is the “slice and bake” of spinning, but it gave me a good shot at getting used to treadling.  Then I played with two scraps of roving that a friend had given me when she was trying to get me to try spindling.  The yellow worked out very nicely.  The maroon was thicker, but still pretty even.  It was very sticky and I couldn’t get it to draft for anything.  Can certain dyes affect the slickness of the fiber?  I noticed when spindling the fiber optic fiber that the dark blue was more troublesome than the other colors in that braid.  Of course, I have no clue what the fiber was — may not have been a new spinner’s friend.

imag0052.jpgSo we had a great Christmas.  Especially Ruby who got many extra treats and then snoozed under the tree.  I trust yours was wonderful as well…and that you are enjoying the family and friends who have come to Minneapolis for the holidays.  Wish them all well for me too!

Love, Jan

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

dsc03453.JPGdsc03477.JPGDear Ellen,

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dsc03456.JPGdsc03519.JPGdsc03518.JPGIt’s definitely autumn on the farm.  Our second crop of hay was dsc03526.JPGdsc03533.JPGdsc03522.JPGharvested this weekend and it smelled wonderful — sweet and earthy.  Beautiful to see it raked up into deep rows and then fun to watch the baler come through and turn it into giant wheels of hay.  The doggies got their chance (courtesy of Dale) to pose on top of one of the bales.  They loved it up there, but were happy to get down.  I love hay.

dsc03490.JPGdsc03503.JPGdsc03513.JPGHay was the inspiration for my latest small shawl.  It’s the Shaelyn pattern, but I named mine Haylyn since the colors made me think of the hay and straw on the farm.  It’s a simple feather and fan variation dsc03450.JPGdsc03494.JPGdsc03496.JPGbetween rows of stockinette distinguished by single garter ridges.  It was a VERY fast knit and the pattern is memorized in about 2 minutes.  I started it because of the knit along started over on The Knitting Pipeline group.

dsc03433.JPGdsc03429.JPGdsc03438.JPGdsc03504.JPGdsc03510.JPGdsc03477.JPGdsc03467.JPGdsc03462.JPGLots of colorway inspiration around the farm right now.

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dsc03465.JPGAnd I’m still overturning rocks to see what is hiding beneath.  Do you think this is a salamander nymph or some young snake?  He (she?) squiggled off under the leaves pretty quickly, so I’m confident he was okay.

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dsc03445.JPGdsc03419.JPGAnd I reported on Ravelry that I finished  my Saroyan, Virtual Loungewear.  I only had a little yarn leftover which greatly pleased me as it was my first handspun.  And I’ve made a very cute little memento out of the leftover.  I’ll show you one day soon…some more work to do to finish it up.

dsc03517.JPGBusy couple of weekends here — we’ve been working in the woods, the garden and trying to keep making progress on the unpacking.  We also went to a local benefit auction where we both got some great deals.  I’m particularly pleased with this shelf that comes with 5 bins that fit right into the shelf (as shown for the top shelf).  I got it for $35!  A little sanding and stain and it will be a most awesome addition to my studio.  I can’t decide if I’ll use it to hold yarn or to hold WIPs.

beaujeff.JPGdsc03414.JPGA few weekends ago (has it been that long since I posted?) we went to two big events for the Navy.  The first was the Lone Sailor Awards Dinner where the Fabulous Bridges Brothers and several other great Americans were recognized for having served in the Sea Services and then having gone on to do great things for our nation.  The second was the change of command between ADM Gary Roughead and ADM Jon Greenert.  ADM Roughead also retired in the same ceremony.  ADM Greenert is now the Chief of Naval Operations — an incredible guy (as was Roughead) that Dale and I know well and for whom we hold a lot of respect.  He’s the guy I’ll be asking to allow me to retire.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that he says, “yes!”  I want to be put out to pasture…literally!

Love, Jan

Fair Winds Fiber

Dear Ellen,

dsc03282.JPGdsc03289.JPGYou are quite good at keeping a secret.  I don’t know if you put her up to it, but for weeks Erica of DesigKnit has had a surprise up her sleeve.  Inspired by the picture of Argus and Io that I posted to our blog a while back, she did a special dye of some beautiful Polwarth — it’s called Fair Winds Peacock.  And it was waiting for me when we arrived at the farm last week.  dsc03285.JPGAs I told her, you could hear my “SQUEE!” all the way in the next county.  These pictures are taken with some of Argus’ molted tail feathers…amazing how accurately she hit the colors.  In the last picture I did some photo-editing to super-saturate the colors just for fun.  I tell you, no super-saturation needed — it is a stunning braid of fiber and I’m so looking forward to spinning it.  Thank you, Erica!!  XOXOXO!!!

dsc03261.JPGdsc03279.JPGI’ve got to get the BFL finished first though.  I thought I might spin a bit of the Polwarth to try it out this weekend, but I find I’m compulsively monogamous when it comes to this spinning thing.  I’m a little over half way through the braid I bought at Sock Summit, so although it must wait, the Polwarth won’t wait TOO long.  I love the little mongolian yurts that come off of the turkish spindles.  At least that’s what they look like to me.  This one is about 24 grams of single ply.  The picture of the 2-ply is about 250 yards or so.

dsc03249.JPGI don’t think I put up any pictures of the finished Sweater from Down Under, did I?  Here it is and I’m very pleased with it.  Despite the little pook of belly sticking out, the vertical celtic cabling has a pretty nice slimming effect.  And it has a comfortable sweatshirt feel to it so is going to get a lot of wear, of that I’m certain.  I feel “handsome” with it on — very warm too, so the wearing will wait till this fall or winter.

dsc03262.JPGdsc03265.JPGdsc03266.JPGI took the dogs hiking about the property this weekend and as always we found some interesting things.  Here is a delicate little flower growing by it’s lonesome in the corn.  It looked like morning glory to me, but it was mid-afternoon, so must just be a relative.  And here is corn that has been shucked and eaten while still on the stalk.  I’m almost certain it was deer…you can see where there has been some serious tramping in the areas where this corn on a stick buffet has gone.

dsc03268.JPGAs we rounded the corner to come back up the driveway I got a full view of the farmhouse.  I had to catch my breath.  There is not doubt that we have many, many good times ahead of us here.  Makes me realize that I’m really about ready to make a transition.  By this time next year I hope I can finish up my work with the Navy and make myself into a full time farmer and designer.  Happy thoughts.

Happy thoughts to you for the coming week!  Love, Jan

New Residents

Dear Ellen,

dsc03066.JPG  Dale and I spent the first night in our new house last night.  We were very, very happy to do so, even if it meant sleeping on a low quality inflatable mattress.   While the sleep comfort was only a bit better than camping out on the property, there was a distinct advantage in having flush toilets, showers and refrigerators.  No furniture yet, but we start addressing that next weekend when we’ll drive a Penske up with our bed, the wine and our books.  (One must have priorities — yes, stash and needles are already there!)   dsc03081.JPGIt turns out we weren’t the first to take up residence though — seems we have doves nesting over one window, a wasp nest in the back and approximately 2 dozen toads living in the window well.  Lots of visitors too — the peacock showed himself (I saw the peahen too, but didn’t get a picture) as did this little bug (plus many other birds and some chipmunks of whom I did not get photos).

dsc03094-1.JPGI knit for several hours out under the trees — finished this purple hat (now drying after a soak in Soak) and got about half way through the lettuce green scarf.  The hat will be for Warm Hats Not Hot Heads…it’s very nice.  I’m not sure if it’s for a guy or gal though — the purple may be more than most guys would want.

dsc03091.JPGdsc03090.JPGdsc03088.JPGdsc03092.JPGdsc03086.JPGdsc03093.JPGI also spent a lot more time watering our landscaping.  We’re trying our best to make sure the new plants can make it through the hot summer.  We’re soaking them each weekend and a young lady is coming during the week to give additional drinks.  Hopefully we can drop down to weekend soaks later this summer (as long as we don’t do the drought thing).  They’ve rewarded us with some beautiful color.

dsc03070.JPGJust before we left I collected all the window well toads in order to release them into the woods.  I’m torn — do I do this every weekend?  Or do I let them establish Toadville in the window well?  They are safe from larger predators down there, and they have bugs to eat.  If I planted a few plants, maybe they would think of it as toad paradise.  I’m not sure…I kind of think that if we went through a dry spell, they’d dry up into toad jerkey.  Maybe I just need to rig a toad guard or put mesh over the window well so they can’t fall down there anymore.  What do you think?

dsc03065.JPGA long week lies ahead of me…I’ll keep the farm in mind to help me make it through.  Here’s hoping that good toad kharma is on my side!

Love, Jan