Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Finished and New Beginnings

I finished up the Hermione Socks last week. I made the foot a bit tighter than usual, because the socks were for Dave. The tighter gauge seems to work better with the shoes he wears daily to work.  I finished that pair just in time to start another one. I mentioned last week that I wanted to participate in the Through the Loops mystery sock. I received the first clue and quickly put my empty needles to work. I like how the clue is working up. I am using Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply in the Squash Blossum color way. It is much more yellow than the first photo depicts (it is a bit better in the second one). I am eager for the second clue which will be released tomorrow.
While waiting for the second sock clue to be published, I am working on a Nordic Wind shawl. I chose green and browns for the shawl and plan to use all of the skein in each color. I decided to add a fifth color after I started. I am not sure that was a great idea, because the fifth color is darker than the others. I am hoping the result is still a big, warm, cozy shawl. I am almost done with the third ball of yarn. I hope I can finish this by next week! I feel like my fingers are flying.
Admittedly with all the knitting, there hasn't been much reading. Although it is a good book, I am still working on Nora Webster. Maybe I can finish both the book and the shawl by next week. Then I would have two new things to share on the Yarn Along and the Craft On!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Bridge

The bangle on my wrist vibrated, and I started to laugh. I had achieved my steps despite spending most of the day in the car. I shared the news with Dave and the kiddos as the five of us jostled and banged around in our vehicle like popcorn kernels in the pan. We had been on an adventure. An adventure that took us along miles of unpaved dirt roads in the wilderness ofArizona.
Our road trips have been few lately. So many projects and obligations have kept us closer to home. After much talk about true priorities and the story of our life, Dave and I decided the family needed a car trip. With Jasmine tagging along, we set out for the Sheep Bridge in the Tonto National Forest. 

Although it is only 80 miles from our home, the Sheep Bridge is in a remote area. This amazing suspension bridge is a treat to find. The roads were definitely rough; the majority were unpaved and quite rocky. The uneven terrain and winding roads caused Aine and Eamon to moan about car sickness. We needed to stop a few times to settle all of our bellies. 
In 1943 the original Sheep Bridge was built over the Verde River to aid sheep farmers. Before the bridge many sheep were lost while crossing the river when the farmers ran them from lower Arizona to the Rim. An imposing concrete and wood buttress, remnant of the old bridge, is adjacent the existing structure. There is a plaque detailing the construction and the history of sheep farming in the state. The new bridge was constructed in 1988 after the old one had to be dismantled. It was deteriorating after years of use. Although the area is no longer used for sheep farming, the bridge supports the foot traffic of people exploring the wilderness of the area. The bridge sits high above the Verde River.
The kiddos realized that during our camping trip last spring, they had played in the same river a bit further north. Excited about the connection, we made our way across the bridge and down to the bank of the river. The kiddos immediately started running along the bank exploring the space. Aine spotted tiny bird prints along the shoreline. Benton began building a cairn. Eamon started finding rocks for skipping. We spent a bit of time there on the bank. Dave taught the kiddos his rock skipping technique. Each of them was able to get at least one rock to skip across the smooth water. Benton and I dug in the sand, creating a moat and castle.

It was beautiful along the riverbank with the bridge overhead. The kiddos were very disappointed that we couldn't spend the night. We made plans to return soon to camp overnight. Apparently there are some hot springs nearby that we would like to check out. We climbed back up to the bridge and took a few goofy photos. We piled back into the car and started back home. The return trip seemed a bit easier on our jostled limbs. We crossed a couple areas muddy with water but made it home in one piece vowing to explore again next week.

Friday, January 16, 2015

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Our Girls

Last fall, I decided we needed to buy a few more hens. Rose, Chick, Penguain, Turtley and Dot were not keeping up with our egg needs. We stopped into the feed store, but there was a limited number and breed of chicks. I really like having a variety. The differing personalities and colors are fun for the kiddos to explore. Plus multi-colored eggs are great. We left empty-handed. I decided to try again one evening in November on the way home from Eamon's Code Club. The kiddos had no idea we would be coming home with more chicks, and neither did I.

The selection was still a bit limited, but we were able to get five new chicks. Aine picked an Ameraucana and a Rhode Island Red (Brownie and Arizona). Benton wanted a Leghorn(Destiny). Eamon selected another Ameraucana and Leghorn (Brazil and Beauty). Once we arrived home, the kiddos and I set them up in their new home. They spent their first few weeks in a warmer in the garage. A cozy heat lamp kept them warm as they grew quickly. When they outgrew their temporary home, we worked on integrating them into the main flock. First Dave fenced off a portion of the run for the chicks. They could forage and stretch their legs in close proximity to the mature hens, but they were still protected. Eventually I moved the heat lamp into the henhouse and added the young pullets at night. The older hens were not too happy in the morning. We worked on keeping them close but separate for a few days. Now they are sharing the coop and run somewhat amicably. There are a few incidents of bullying, but the young pullets seem to be fairing well. The laying hens are adjusting too. Since the arrival of the pullets, the established hens have taken to laying in the yard rather than the nesting boxes. 
With the shorter daylight hours of late fall and winter, our hens had decreased their egg production. We are averaging three eggs a day right now. Now I no longer only look in the nesting boxes for eggs. I found an egg amid the broccoli and Chinese cabbage as well as a full nest under the basil. The most shocking was discovering an egg behind the washer and dryer, which sit on our back porch! The layers are definitely keeping us on our toes. Dave and I will be building a new coop for the ten hens this weekend. They need a bit more roosting space. We will also be spending some time securing their enclosure. Right now they are exploring the yard a bit too often. My garden is suffering!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Stolen Time Socks

My socks are progressing quite quickly, much faster than my reading. I am hoping to steal a bit of time today to finish them. I only have another inch before the toe decreases. Two weeks for a pair of socks isn't too bad.

As I knit the foot, I have been plotting my next project. I am trying to decide what yarn and pattern I most want to knit. The evidence of this process is currently piled on my desk. I am planning on joining the Nordic Wind KAL a bit late. I really like the subtle shifting colors used in the basic triangular shawl. I also will be casting on for the Through the Loops Mystery Sock beginning tomorrow. I have joined each year and really enjoy the process. I also want to knit a sweater for Aine out of some yarn she selected last month. I am planning on making the new Shirley Temple pattern. And then I want to make a sweater for myself. So many ideas and such a tough time deciding!

I finished All the Light We Cannot See a few weeks ago. It was such a good book. I enjoyed it so much, I even recommended it to a woman at the library who was looking for a new read. When that was done, I picked up Nora Webster. It took a bit to get into it, and I ended up needing to return the book to the library. I promptly put it back on hold and was able to pick it up earlier this week. I find the main character quite interesting. Her emotions and reactions resonant with me in the dealing with my mom and discussions of widowhood. I hope to find a bit more time in the next week to finish it.

Joining back up with Ginny for the Yarn Along.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Theater

Last summer my mom and I hatched a plan to purchase tickets for the 2014-15 Broadway Season. Many years ago, before the arrival of my children, we attended single performances such as Cats, Rent, Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables together. I thought the performances this season would be a nice way to spend time together that didn't involve handling household details after my father's death.

Three shows into the season I am so glad I splurged on these tickets. It has been delightful going to dinner and a musical with my mom. We meet and drive together chatting about our weeks without the interruptions of duty or obligation. In the theater we discuss sets, lighting and the performance as well as the people around us. We craft stories for the other theater goers and laugh at our musings. The evening ends with a laugh as we part to return to our homes, eagerly anticipating the next show and our time together.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Our Library

Years ago I read about the Little Free Libraries and was enchanted. I loved the idea of sharing books and my love of reading with others. We lived in a neighborhood with rules though, so my dream of having a little spot for books was set aside. Fast forward to our current home. We live in a somewhat walkable, historic neighborhood vibrant with personality. When we moved into the house, I took out the mailbox, the only such structure on the street*. It was quite easy as it was brand new and just slid onto a short post. I could not remove the short post, since it was sunk in cement. I decided that would be the spot for our Little Free Library.

When I mentioned my plan to a friend, she told me about her attempt the previous year to get libraries installed throughout our neighborhood. It had fizzled, but our talk gave it new life. Over the course of the last nine months, there have been neighborhood meetings, book donations, supply donations, and build days. Finally our install date is coming closer, and my dream of a library a reality.

On Saturday Aine, Benton, and I joined fellow neighborhood bibliophiles to decorate boxes. The head builder created a very simple design in hopes that it would speed the process. It doesn't snow and rains very little, so we don't need a peaked roof. Using donated paint, the kiddos set to work. Admittedly I had a different vision, but I quickly set that aside. There was paint on clothing, shoes, hands, and hair. I attached scrap wood shapes painted in an array of colors to the side. We painted a chalkboard sign on another. The three of us added paint to our hands and put our prints on the third. It was deemed a masterpiece. After cleaning up with our friends, I brought two cups of paint home to Dave and Eamon. They quickly added their handprints to our library. One more week and we are ready for the big install. I am ridiculously excited!

*A word of caution in case anyone else wants to remove their mailbox: We live in an urban area and have a mail slot into our home. The curbside box seemed redundant. I asked the postal carrier before I removed the mailbox, and he said he thought it would be fine. He was a substitute. I did get a visit from our regular postal carrier a few days later. She agreed with my decision, but said I would need to clear it with the post master. The routes are timed and that would change it.