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Ending the Merry Month of May

Dear Ellen,

dsc02755.JPGdsc02740.JPGdsc02765.JPGI am relieved to be back in my home…it’s been a whirlwind wind up to this month as I’ve been traveling since we left for Cleveland and the wedding.  That was certainly a fun event with much merriment and romance in the air.   Although blurry, I thought this shot of Craig and Lauren really captured it.  And I did enjoy the reception with my brothers and sisters.  Beth did a great job on the seating chart.  And Patty did a great job tracking our pork and beef orders.  dsc02781.JPGdscf1380.JPGdsc02786.JPGI’m quite sure that you, Patty and I were the hit of the evening entertainment-wise.  We may have pounded a little too hard based on the way Wilson and Patty were holding their heads the next morning.  I wonder if Ken and Kristen will be next?

dsc02838.JPGdsc02832.JPGdsc02833.JPGI left the wedding and headed out to the west coast where I met up with good friends from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for the Combined Communications Electronics Board.  We did much dsc02857.JPGdsc02855.JPGofficial work and also spent a day and a half out on an aircraft carrier.  MUCH fun and good work done as well.  I was glad to have a chance to be underway — and very pleased to know Allen was underway on PROVIDENCE at the same time…likely the only time that will happen in our careers.  As always, our city at sea had lots going on.  Flight operations, combat direction center, radio shack, the bakery, Yoplait!!  What’s not to like?

Check out some flight ops — Here’s a launch and here’s a trap.

dsc02922.JPGOn return I got a few scant hours of sleep and then Dale and I and the doggies headed to Fair Winds for a one night camp out in the shadow of the new house.  Dale did lots of property grooming and I knit the second of my First Flame Socks.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find the original dpns on which I dsc02956.JPGdsc02980.JPGdsc02981.JPGknit the first…found another set the same size, but then, not really.   The second sock is slightly smaller.  As the needles were different materials (carbon fiber vs. metal) they knit at a slightly different gauge.  The socks blocked out to the same size, but I know one will feel looser.  I’ll be sure the recipient knows to wear the smaller one on her smaller foot.

dsc02951.JPGdsc02950.JPGRuby and Max worked very hard too — lots of sniffing and running about and trying to catch squirrels.  They had to get a lot of extra rest to regain their energy.

dsc02945.JPGdsc02939.JPGdscf1426.JPGThe house is all but finished.  It is without doubt the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen.  The interior decorator working the show had most of the furniture in place for the Parade along with many small touches…he said more dscf1419.JPGdscf1430.JPGdscf1418.JPGwere to come before the event. dscf1416.JPGdscf1432.JPGThere is no doubt that his furniture is nicer than ours…but we should have 30-40 years to work on upgrading what we have — some of which has literally been around the world for 3+ decades.  The landscaping was almost dsc02970.JPGdsc02965.JPGdsc02943.JPGall in by the time we left…lots of flowering trees and lovely dsc02947.JPGdsc02948.JPGdsc02813.JPGhot pink roses, bushy bright shrubs and promising perennials.  I’ll not try to list them.  You can identify them for me when you come visit as I’ll undoubtedly have forgotten what they are by then.  I am just thrilled with my own flight deck too.  I picture grandchildren practicing traps and cats for hours at a time!  dsc02936.JPGdsc02933.JPGdsc02978.JPGI also enjoyed the other plants around the farm — from ferns and wild strawberries to the corn that grew about two inches in the 30 hours we were there.  The big VIP opening party is tonight.

dsc02983.JPGDale and I are heading up early in the day.  We’ll drink champagne with the Parade judges and then head to a hotel at BWI from whence we can head to Tampa for the weekend to celebrate Jim’s retirement and Tom’s H.S. graduation.  I hope to finish up a cap and booties to go with the overalls I’ve made for my friend’s baby (yet to be smocked — the overalls, not the baby!)  And I’ll likely get another pair of socks started.

dsc02727.JPGdsc02973.JPGA very busy end to May and beginning of June, but it sure is fun!  Did I mention that we saw a giant rabbit?…and a bear?  (Just in case you were wondering about that expression about bears and their activities in the woods.)

Love, Jan

May Flowers

Dear Ellen,

dscf1255.JPGdscf1247.JPGdscf1277.JPGI’ve had the good fortune of seeing my offspring a few times this month.  Allen brought Libby down to Fair Winds so we could meet her and have a picnic together.  We liked her quite a lot.  She fit right in and seemed to enjoy dscf1246.JPGdscf1245.JPGdscf1257.JPGthe hiking about the woods as much as we did.  I love seeing the woods wake up from their winter nap.  Everything is quite green with loads of May Apples and ferns, and if you watch, a few jacks-in-the pulpit.  Lots of violets are out there too…as well as some other creatures.  Allen and Dale had quite a good deal of fun pulling vines out of trees.

dsc02596.JPGbright-eyes.jpgprofile-view.jpgMarie and Heidi made it to Alexandria a few times this month.  One visit was just in time to catch Allen here and to have Mother’s Day breakfast together — on Saturday since I was leaving for Europe in the afternoon.  Marie shared these cute photos of the baby for whom she knit her first “more than a garter stitch scarf” project.  I think she did a great job and the baby seems quite happy to wear her sunny bonnet.

I’ll pop up a few more posts this week…quite the backlog as I’ve been so busy the last few weeks.

Love, Jan

The Land Down Under

Dear Ellen,

dsc01254.JPGI know you have enjoyed Australia in your travels.  I now know why.  My trip down under came up suddenly and I was complaining about how these last minute deals seem to always get dumped on me and then I caught myself…”wait a minute — you’re going to get to go to Australia, for crying out loud!”   I quit my whining and made the trip and have brought back many good memories.

dsc01461.JPGThe conference itself was well worth the long travel and my host, Peter, was quite gracious.  He’s become a good friend over the last couple of years as we’ve been working together on some satellite and communications agreements between the U.S. and Australia.  He does, however, seem part of the international plot to cause me to overeat and to drink far too much fine Shiraz.  dsc01292.JPGdsc01296.JPGPeter took us around town and drove us out to where we could see wild red kangaroos and one of the most intense rainbows I’ve ever seen…and took us to dinner almost every night.  He also saw us off with a farewell lunch at the wardroom mess at dsc01453.JPGdsc01457.JPGHer Majesty’s Australian Station (HMAS) Harman, the home of Australian Signaleering — or communicating — you know, the radio operators.  The wardroom is named for Marion Stevens, one of the first 14 women in the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service.  She got her training at Harman and worked here…and did dsc01458.JPGdsc01454.JPGneedlework.  They’ve preserved some of that heritage by preserving and displaying some of her pieces.  I loved the fact that these were highlighted in wardroom — usually a high testosterone locale. Marion went on to rise to the rank of Chief Petty Officer and then was commissioned.  Eventually she returned to Harman and helped restore it and run it.

dsc01272.JPGI found more needlework at the National War Memorial.  And this time it was knitting!  This sweater was knit by Sister Eileen Callaghan while held prisoner by the Japanese during WWII.  You can see that she made do with what she had available.  I love that she took care to add cabling and do set in sleeves.  I wonder what she used for needles?  It was a great day to visit the memorial…the day before Remembrance Day (we know it as dsc01256.JPGVeteran’s day).  The names of those who died in battle are engraved along the walls.  Poppies are left every year by the people who still keep each name in their memories.  On Remembrance Day we were at the Australian Joint Headquarters in Russell where we were honored to be part of their ceremonies.

dsc01237.JPGdsc01226.JPGdsc01239.JPGI did a good bit of walking about near the hotel — was fortunate that it was close to the Commonwealth Gardens…lots to see and explore while trying to figure out what time zone I was in.  It was really beautiful…saw budgies and swans and beautiful flowers (it’s late spring there, you know!) and got in a stop at the National Museum.  dsc01285.JPGUnfortunately, no picture taking in the museum, but I bought a few postcards of the aboriginal art.  Fascinating stuff.  You could take pictures outside with the sculptures at the National Gallery…don’t we make quite the pear?

dsc01356.JPGOne afternoon we made a quick trip to the small, but very nice, Canberra Zoo.

I enjoyed the meerkats (he’s tipping over!!),

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dsc01388.JPGthe peacocks (what a GREAT colorway!),

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dsc01381.JPGthe dingoes* (I think Max must be part dingo),

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dsc01420.JPGthe little penguins (signage noted that they are, indeed, “little penguins”),

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dsc01401.JPGthe lounging grey kangaroos (they spell gray wrong),

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dsc01397.JPGthe Tasmanian Devil (who was not very devilish),

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dsc01426.JPGthe koala (who seemed pretty bored by tourists…can you blame him?),

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dsc01336.JPGdsc01337.JPGdsc01338.JPGand the bears (sniffing each other’s butts, sniffing each other’s scat, sniffing themselves — man they sniff a lot!).  But I have to admit that my biggest kick was getting my picture taken with the wombat.  He was asleep…not dead (we did see him scratch himself).  dsc01418.JPGdsc01442.JPGGiven that I’ve got about a dozen pictures of myself** with the wombat that used to be on display in the Natural History Museum, this was a far more lively photo partner than I usually get out of a wombat.

dsc01287.JPGdsc01288.JPGdsc01489.JPGDuring our travels around the city, we noticed that not only do the Australians drive on the wrong side of the road, but they also boldly rip off U.S. corporate identities don’t get company names and logos quite right.  Actually, they’re as amused by the “similarities” as we are.

dsc01493.JPGWe ended the trip with a night in Sydney so we could be near the airport for our early morning flight.  That was great as it gave us a chance to go downtown and dine with a view of the opera house.  My meal included “skippy” — yes, I had kangaroo.  It was tasty.  Peter presented me with a boomerang before we left…to make sure I’ll return.  That won’t be a hard sell!

Love, Jan

*The dingoes took the baby.
**Since our honeymoon, when Dale took the first picture of me with the wombat, we’ve recreated the picture on every return trip possible.  Sadly that wombat became a bit to threadbare (okay, decomposed, if you must!) and is no longer on display.  I sent Dale an e-mail telling him I saw the wombat at the zoo.  His response?  “Did you get your picture taken with him?”  Aren’t traditions fun!

Woman On Subs

Dear Ellen,

dsc00888.JPGdsc00887.JPGdsc00889.JPGI realize that this post must have had you immediately wondering why I would make mention of my luncheon habits , but actually I was referring to the tour I took last Friday of the mighty warship USS PROVIDENCE (SSN 719).  dsc00936.JPGPROVIDENCE is, of course, Allen’s submarine.  I flew up to the city of Providence* on Thursday evening and on Friday did some business at the Submarine Base and then Allen gave me a tour of his boat. **  I was so proud — mostly of the fact that I didn’t fall down any ladders, but also of how well Allen is obviously doing on board as the Supply Officer.  We spent the rest of the evening walking around New London, having pizza and laughing at funny web sites like Regretsy, The Man Repeller and Texts from Last Night.  Ah, a great mother/son evening.*

dsc00896.JPGdsc00898.JPGThe next morning I drove him up to his mechanic’s house in Hebron so he could pick up his 1973 Innocenti Mini who had been in getting a new fuel pump.  We took pictures with the mechanic’s red minis (larger and smaller!) and then headed out for breakfast and to see me off at the airport.  A very nice visit.

dsc00942.JPGWhile on the flight I started a new scarf.  You may recall that I made a Sparkly Scarf for Ava several months ago — and mom Katie made the comment that she so wanted one too.  She’s not going to get an identical one, but I’m taking the leftover yarn and making her a Lamina with the same beads. It may have to be a pattern repeat or two shorter than the pattern calls for, but it will be plenty long enough to be a nice accessory. And with all the sweaters I’ve been working on, I need some snack knitting!  I’m calling it Katie’s Sparkly Scarf because I am so creative.  dsc00941.JPGIf you look at the cast on edge, you’ll be able to see a bunch of live stitches on a stitch holder.  The instructions called for a provisional cast on so you can knit half in one direction and then return to knit the other direction (after picking up live stitches and unraveling your provisional cast on).  I figured, why not just use a toe-up sock cast on and put one half the stitches on a holder so you don’t have to screw around with any of the silliness of the waste yarn and all.  I expect it will work out perfectly.  Stay tuned.

dsc00905.JPGdsc00924.JPGdsc00935.JPGI’ve decided to go ahead and post pictures of the sweater I made last year for Allen.  (Remember, I was going to submit the pattern for publications, so couldn’t put pictures up?)  Well, I never submitted it as I decided it needed some tweaking before I would do so. Plus I’m going to knit something similar for Dale, so will use his as the submission…someday.  It will be different enough to qualify as a different pattern.  I learned a lot from making this one for Allen and am quite pleased with most of it, especially things like the applied I-cored neckline, but there are other areas that need adjustment (like shoulder width, scye depths, that kind of stuff).

dsc00944.JPGdsc00945.JPGdsc00949.JPGToday has been a quiet day.  I took the dogs for a nice long walk and enjoyed just being.  We’ve got wild grapes all over everything along the trail that the dogs and I follow.  dsc00951.JPGSome honeysuckle and wild snapdragons too, but mostly wild grapes.  The dogs pretty much ignored the flora and me.  They were far too involved in conversations of their own.  I love how much they like each other.  I could have used more nap time, but the day was pretty good regardless.

Love, Jan

* Sorry for all the bizarre new spam we are sure to get.
** Notice we fully capitalize the names of our naval vessels like PROVIDENCE (in order to make them appear even more powerful).  We do not fully capitalize the names of cities like Providence.  It’s a Navy thing.
**For you landlubbers — NO, not you laplanders! — we call submarines “boats” and we call ships…well, “ships.”

Colors of Nature

Dear Ellen,

dsc00831.JPGdsc00868.JPGLast week I shared some beautiful blues from Fair Winds.  This week we have sunny orange, red and feathery white.  I also found a gal with the most silky golden hair.  Plenty of yellow, dsc00875.JPGdsc00874.JPGdsc00873.JPGdsc00876.JPGgreens and browns, and lacy whites were around to inspire as well.  Also a view of what an aunt must see when strolling through a lawn.  (Max, Ruby and I took a trek through the corn.)

It was a very tough week with some announcements that will radically change my directorate — whether I agree or not, I’ll find a way to support.  The part I am most disgruntled with is the lack of communication that there was between the decision makers and those of us charged with leading the affected groups.  I’m thankful we went to the farm today where I was able to forget it for a while.  Just being in nature was calming.  (Chopping and burning helped too!)

dsc00877.JPGdsc00878.JPGAnd I finished the knitting of sock number two of my Tropical Gorillas.  You can see I’ve got my chimney in place so I can do Lucy’s magic graft tomorrow and have a great new pair of socks.  That makes me smile.

Love, Jan

Perpetual Motion

Dear Ellen,

dsc00802.JPGdsc00826.JPGTimes like the last several weeks make me cherish my knitting. More and more it serves as a means to slow myself down just a bit so that I can process all the activity going on in my life.  And lately that has been a LOT of activity including two trips to three different places (St. Louis, Fayetteville — where I stayed at the Very VIP quarters on post — complete with kitchen staff — and Tampa), weekend visitors 3 weekends in a row, a mid-week visitor, and multiple work crises (some real, some concocted).  While I haven’t been able to knit as much as I’d like to, I have done quite a bit — and I seem to be gaining speed, so I do have some progress on two projects and a new project well underway.

dsc00861.JPGdsc00827.JPGdsc00828.JPGTropical Gorillas are about 75% done, having rounded the heel and picked up the gusset on sock  number two.  TGIF is blocked and ready for seaming thanks to Ruby’s fine assistance.  All that remains once seamed will be the extra large button bands and shall collar — picked up along the entire front edge and worked in ribbing.  dsc00858.JPGAnd I cast on Woodland Vines, my version of Ysolda Teague’s Vine Yoke Cardigan in very woodland colors — the Briar Rose yarn I bought at Yarnover (remember?).  I have to say, it is putting the completion of the others at risk because it is such a fun project to knit.  The construction design is brilliant. It is knit side to side in mostly garter with some patterning at the yoke and hem to keep you interested.  And you knit the sleeves as you go round with short row raglans.  It’s crazy I tell you, crazy!  And it knits pretty quickly, so even if the others stall, I should be back to them soon.

dsc00792.JPGSeveral of our visitors were our children.  Allen was here a few weekends ago and I took Allen in to work with me…we snuck a picture outside the Pentagon.  He was down for some interviews and I had fun showing him around and showing him off.   Marie and Heidi were here this weekend…and guess what!  Marie has picked up knitting again!  dsc00862.JPGShe’s working on a cute little baby bonnet and doing pretty well for having not picked up a needle for about 2 and 1/2 years! Hearing she wanted to try knitting again was almost as good as if she had said she was working on a different kind of baby project.  Not really that close, but still.

dsc00852.JPGdsc00834.JPGdsc00831.JPGWe did make it up to Fair Winds yesterday while the girls create-your-own-range-google-chrome-7202010-34933-pmbmp.jpgdsc00853.JPGslept in.  We cleared brush, burned brush, watched fuzzy caterpillars, were amazed by the height of the corn, mused over the possible additions for our future kitchen (wouldn’t that be a GREAT stove!!), and had our eye caught by the colors of the surrounds.  I personally found it very reassuring to know that 24 hours a day we can acquire live bait via vending machine down at the local grocery.  Almost as good as a vend-o-mat for those late night munchies, I should imagine!  We decided we would go a different way for our end of trip treat and headed over to Maplehof’s for ice cream before heading back.

dsc00829.JPGWe’re hoping for a quiet week.  I’d be happy to have an empty guest room for a few days at this point.  Plus we’d love to avoid the excitement nature sent our way this past Tuesday when hurricane force winds hit very suddenly.  We had some minor damage to the townhouse in which we’re living, but the neighborhood was hit much harder.  We lost some really beautiful trees.  The one in the photo (and several others nearby) caused the George  Washington Parkway to be closed for quite a bit until it could be cut up and moved off the road.  Fortunately, no one near us was hurt.  I hope your week is filled with good fortune too!

Love, Jan

Weekend Visitors Part I

Dear Ellen,

dsc00635.JPGdsc00632.JPGAs you know, we’ve got the welcome mat out this weekend.  First up has been a very enjoyable couple of days with Patty and Ken.  We dropped Ken off at a workshop h is attending at Trinity University this week, but only after Patty and I made a trip to the memorials to see the Vietnam Memorial and get a bit wet in the on-again, off-again rain.  We came home, had grilled burgers (ready and waiting for us thanks to Dale!) and then headed out the door with Ken in tow.  We found his check-in point, bid him a great week and then headed across town to the National Cathedral.

dsc00670.JPGdsc00649.JPGdsc00684.JPGI can’t believe it’s taken so long for me to finally visit our cathedral.  It’s dsc00642.JPGdsc00660.JPGdsc00652.JPGa truly stunning piece of architecture.  We wandered through the Bishop’s garden, enjoying roses, sculptures, bees and butterflies.  We strolled through the nave and the apses and took in the ceilings and the visually dsc00664.JPGstriking stained glass windows including one commemorating the Battle of Midway.  And yes, we shopped in the gift shop.  We both found some nice things…Patty got a replica of this stained glass window and I found a lovely silk angels scarf for someone’s birthday later this month.

I’m sure she’ll love it.*

dsc00720.JPGOnce home we had delicious tortilla soup (again, courtesy of Dale) and watched a movie.  I worked on Tropical Gorillas while doing so.  I’ve got one more decrease and the toe grafting left on sock number one.  I would have stayed up to finish, but wanted to burn photos from our day to a CD for Patty to take with her and knock out this post, so I held off the finishing of the first sock till tomorrow.  Patty leaves early in the morning and then early afternoon we should see the arrival of Chris, Jim and Tom — in time for the Netherlands v. Spain finals of the World Cup!

Love, Jan

*Marian has a July birthday too.  😉

Can Internet Connections Drop Stitches?

Dear Ellen,

dsc00611.JPGIn answer to the title question, evidently so.  We had a power outage on 4th of July that certainly messed up our connection.  By the time I got it figured out on Monday, it was already past my bedtime and I was pretty tired, so no post from me.  I have a hunch that with the kitten-induced ecstasy going down at your place, you probably didn’t miss it.  The highlight of our 4th was a nice visit from our favorite daughter and daughter-in-law.  We enjoyed a nice block party with our neighbors, made a trip to Costco and decided to forgo the fireworks in lieu of what may have to become an annual tradition…the “screwing-with-the-security-alarm-because-the-power-loss-signal-(a mild beep every 5 minutes or so)-is-bugging-you-too-much-to-leave-it-alone-with-the-result-of-disrupting-the-whole-neighborhood-when-you-set-off-the-alarm-and-can’t-get-it-shut-off-for-almost-a-half-hour” extravaganza.  I will let you guess who came up with this event…but it wasn’t me.  Oh, and we did play Hand and Foot.  The excitement never stops.

dsc00577.JPGI finally found someone to take some pictures of me in Not So Naive.  I love this sweater!  It fits so very confidently.  You know — the kind of garment that makes you feel like you are looking good and that doesn’t have any “fidget” associated with it. And it is nice and warm too!  Of course, this is a far more attractive feature when the temperature is NOT 102 degrees Fahrenheit. It will be very welcome the next time we get over two feet of snow though.

dsc00620.JPGdsc00622.JPGKniestrümpfe are now finished.  At least the knitting is finished.  I still have to test wash the swatch to see how this mystery yarn handles shrinkage so I know whether or not I need to add elasticizing.  If I do, it will be brain dead hand work for some night when I don’t feel up to even thinking about garter stitch.  I doubt I’m going to want to wear these till the fall Oktoberfest season rolls around so I think I have some time.

dsc00615.JPGdsc00625.JPGI whipped out a quick little hat made out of leftover fleece (as in micro-fleece, not sheep fleece) that somehow landed in my basket one time when I was at an LYS in Colorado Springs.  (Six small balls of micro-fleece for $2…how could I resist such an inexpensive opportunity to try this chunky yarn?)  I love the result.  I just played with making up dsc00627.JPGslip-stitch color work patterns as I went.  Were I to do it over again, I’d probably go up a needle size or two.  The fabric is very dense.  These pictures are pre-blocking.  I’m confident the stitches will even out a bit when I do that — though I’m seriously thinking about just sticking with the fun, bumpy, lumpy results that I have right now.  If I decide to keep it for a barn hat, I’ll not block it.  If it goes to charity, I will — I don’t think bumps have the same charm for everyone.  It is a snug one!  Oh, and I did like using the micro-fleece yarn…quick knit and very cooshy.  You know how I feel about cooshy.

dsc00562.JPGI’m up to the armscye on the back of TGIF, but haven’t taken any new pictures.  I’ll probably wait till it’s off the needles and blocked.  I need a double check on the gauge after blocking before I proceed to the fronts and sleeves, so plan on doing that pretty soon.  I’ve also cast on some new socks out of a cotton fingering weight, the name of which escapes me at the moment, but it’s of the ilk of Trekking.  I’m finally doing the Monkey Socks pattern by Cookie A, but I’ve modified to add an extra repeat of the lace pattern to bring the cuff stitch count up to 80.  If I’d stuck with the 64 stitches she says to cast on, I’d have socks for a skinny 12 year old.  Some shenanigans were required in the heel turn and instep to accommodate the change in the stitch count, but nothing too fancy.  I’m well into the foot of sock number one.  I’m calling them Tropical Gorillas based on the colorway (which looks like pale rainbow sherbet), their “enlarged” status in comparison to normal Monkey Socks and the fact that I cast on during a trip to Tampa Florida.  Extra bonus on the trip was that I got to join Chris, Jim and Tom for dinner…and got to spend some quality Aunt-nephew knitting time!  (Yay, Tom!!)

dsc00559.JPGdsc00512.JPGdsc00525.JPGThe weekend before the 4th we made a quick run up to the property.  Dale had great fun whacking weeds and cutting up downed trees.  The doggies and I hiked in the woods and basked in the grass.  dsc00523.JPGdsc00518.JPGdsc00542.JPGRuby loves running through the ferns.  Max thinks the farm is pretty much Nirvana.  dsc00536.JPGdsc00526.JPGdsc00527.JPGI was amused by a funny bug that crawled around on my knee and less amused by some stuff that I am moderately concerned might be poison oak. I am thrown off by the 5 leaves though.  If you can help i.d., I’d greatly appreciate it so I can try to avoid last summer’s itch-fest.  The two panoramas are the view of the house from the curve in the driveway and then the view from the front porch looking out over the farm.  (Use your imagination here — strain your eyes to see if you can make out the re-bar stakes in the ground marking the house outline — there, right there…to the right of the shed in front of that dried brush.)

dsc00574.JPGIn the coming days we will entertain Patty and Ken (yippee!) from Friday to Sunday, Chris, Jim and Tom from Sunday to Monday, and sometime thereafter I will start a page to track Rebecca’s and my progress towards the Level I Master Knitter certification.  (Anyone else want to join in?)  I’m tired (but happy) already.

Love, Jan

Natural Beauty

Dear Ellen,

dsc00154.JPGdsc00157-1.JPGNo, not me…though I can understand your immediate thought that this post must be about me!  😉  Even so, I’m actually talking about our gorgeous marshes through which the walking/biking/running trail passes.  I’m just so thoroughly enjoying this ability to stay tuned in to nature.  I’ve been watching this mallard pair.  dscn2997.JPGdscn2975.JPGdscn2986.JPGHe’s very protective of her.  I suspect a nest is nearby.  The big Blue Heron graces the marshwith his presence on occasion, and dscn2987.JPGdsc00164.JPGdsc00163.JPGdscn2991.JPGFROGS everywhere!  They dsc00159.JPGdsc00160.JPGare my cheering section as I go running passed them.  It looks like a second crop is coming with all the tadpoles that have reappeared.  I spotted my first crayfish of the season earlier this morning.

dscn3006.JPGdscn3004.JPGdscn3001.JPGThe manicured flora in our neighborhood is pretty spectacular too.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a nicer clematis.  Enjoy!

Love, Jan

Biker Babe

Dear Ellen,

dscn2767.JPGdscn2776.JPGdscn2774.JPGDale and I decided to take a quick ride across the river with the intent of walking around the Tidal Basin to admire the cherry blossoms.  The big festival is next weekend, but unfortunately for attendees, the dscn2762.JPGdscn2802.JPGdscn2792.JPGblossoms really peaked early this year.  dscn2809.JPGdscn2808.JPGThey were just stunning Thursday and Friday, but now are losing their brilliance and by the coming weekend will be all but gone.  I actually am rather fond of this point in the cycle when the leaves start to take over.  It’s not as dazzling, true…but I rather like the less boastful and more mature beauty of it.  Funny how when I was younger I was disappointed by the transition.

dscn2819.JPGdscn2797.JPGWe rode the motorcycle hoping to get parking more easily…Ha!  Even on the bike we ended up just taking a circuit and then heading home.  Fortunately I’m fairly good at one-handed photography and got a few nice shots (I think).  Dale’s favorite is the one he took…of me at the end of the ride.  He’s now calling me his  “Biker Babe” though he does acknowledge that the “Hoops ‘n’ Yoyo” jeans jacket takes some of the fierceness out of it.

Check out Sheep Gal’s entry for today for some of the cutest little lambs wishing you a Happy Easter!

Love, Jan