Saturday, January 31, 2015

Shades of Arizona

I finished my Nordic Wind shawl last week. It was late in the day, so I couldn't block it in the usual spot - my bed. I decided to try something different after soaking it. I hung it up on the clothesline to dry. The next morning when I went out to check on my shawl, I was surprised to realize the colors in it were the colors of Arizona. With our recent day trip to the sheep bridge fresh in my mind, I found this photo from that day. The shawl and the Arizona landscape are a perfect complement to one another.
 I was quite pleased with my blocked shawl. So pleased I went inside and changed my shirt so I could wear the shawl immediately. I have yarn to make another one, but firs I have a few other projects in the queue. For now I am enjoying these gorgeous spring days and my Arizona shawl.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Quick Fix

When we moved into this house, I was surprised to find the washer and dryer outside on the back porch. I had never lived anywhere with this type of setup. At first I hated it. I didn't like having to lug all the dirty clothes outside and back again. I hated doing laundry at night in the dark. Eventually I began to like the arrangement. The heat of the dryer doesn't make the house hot in the summer. The noise of both the washer and dryer are muffled out the back door. And now I can reuse the laundry water in my yard.
I have wanted a greywater setup for the yard for over a year. I just couldn't figure out how to run the pipes for the water. I didn't want a hose or pipe running across the porch, and I couldn't figure out how to get it out to the fruit trees in the yard. The other day I noticed KC had run her laundry output hose into a rain barrel.  Perfect!! We had a rain barrel that wasn't being used, so I quickly copied the arrangement.

I was amazed at how much water I collected. I was also a bit appalled. As a desert dweller I am mindful of water, so reusing our laundry rinse water is perfect for me. I use NaturOli Soap Nuts right now for most loads. I do occasionally add a half capful of vaska Laundry Detergent if the load is overly dirty. I have a hose attached to the bottom of the rain barrel spigot. I rotate the water throughout the yard among the fruit trees. So far I have collected enough water for all the fruit trees in our yard, and I have saved quite a bit of water from going down the drain.

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

Exploring Arizona: The Sheep 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.