It's been a beautiful week, yet chilly weather is on the way. The lilacs are budding pretty well, and I really hope the temps don't get low enough to make them suffer. It's always a dice roll with lilacs around here. Will they make it to full bloom? Or will there be a late freeze that will nix some or all of the flowers? Keeping my fingers crossed.
With a 30 degree dip in the mercury, I am making sure I get a walk in after work, no matter how creaky the knee feels!
I knitted last night at the lys' open knit night. I am making splendid progress on the Alison's scarf. Splendid, I tell you! I was having a discussion about the rate of yarn usage with a fellow knitter. I believe it proceeds much faster, and I am sure this has been proven and published somewhere, when one isn't going to have enough. (See Forest Canopy Frustration!) On the other hand, as is the case with the Alison's scarf, when one is knitting "until the yarn is gone", the skein is never-ending. Try this theorem for yourself and see if it doesn't prove true!
I mailed off a package today to Wisest Sister. (Surprise! Happy Birthday to you!)
Tomorrow, another hair trim. Let's see how much grow out I have now. I bet it is still at four inches, even though I have been taking extra folic acid in an effort to speed up the process. Agh! I would be done with this in between-ness. On the upside, Grandbebe Girl and her momma will come see me while I am under the scissors!
In addition to all the other stuff, and there seemed to be a lot of other stuff, Wonderful Guy and I got a good hike in on Sunday afternoon. We headed to Lory State Park and combined a couple of trails for about three and a quarter miles. Best Dog Ever enjoyed the outing, too.
Wild flowers are coming out. I saw oregon grape, pasque flower, a few wallflower, yellow violets, spring beauties, and some spurge and vetch. Oh, and my first mertensia and clematis hirsutissima (vase flower) of the season! In bloom, of course. I'm a happy camper, or hiker, as the case may be.
Not a bad backyard to play in.
In other news...President Bush is going to speak at the high school commencement in my home town. That is so wierd. I mean, it's been a phenomenal journey of vision and reconstruction since the tornado last May. And I am glad for all the help and encouragement my little hometown has recieved. Oldest Best Friend has cracked me up with some of the stories about the film crews of the Planet Earth series in her home! But to have the president there twice in a year...I am still seeing, in my mind's eye, the town I grew up in, with the 100 year old soda fountain, and old movie theatre, and absolutely terrific swimming pool....with the president...and his helicopter...and the secret service guys with their dark glasses and ear pieces....it's just wierd! Oh, but it gets better. The whacko Phelps family from Topeka are going to be there to stage a protest at the same time. Something about Greensburg recieving the wrath of God for Kansas and the nation in the form of a tornado??? Like I said...weird and whackadoo! In my little hometown!
…Iris. (I knew what this word would be back in January.)
I have had iris in every one of my yards since 1978. That was about the time my mother renewed her interest in iris. Her mother, my grandmother, traded ‘egg money’ for cutting edge iris of the time, through a Capper’s Weekly trading column under the pseudonym Reed Bird. (Her maiden name was Birdie Reed!) Momma took her edification of all things iris above and beyond that.
As a member of the Greater Kansas City Iris Society, she had opportunity to acquire varieties through a number of ways, and acquire them she did. There were member auctions, show garden specimens, sharing and bartering, inheriting (some of her fellow members were quite aged), and sometimes she even outright ordered some! A newly introduced iris was always a good birthday/mother’s day gift. Some of those puppies could run $25.00, and in her frugality, Mom (occasionally!) had a hard time spending that on one rhizome…unless it was a really good one! And actually, she found many ‘good’ ones. Purchasing iris through the society’s auctions was her favorite manner. Dearest Sister told me of her paying $50.00 in 1982 for one named ‘Kansas City’. At that time, only the mayor’s wife had one, and Mom was determined to have one, too.
Momma served in many offices in the society, becoming a judge. She hosted convention gardens for the American Iris Society, and with Dearest Sister, entered many local shows. As she collected specimens, she shared the rhizomes when it came time to dig and divide. Her offspring were the first benefactors of her generosity. However, there came a time when there were just too many. She and Dearest Sister started selling at the Farmer’s Market, and Momma became known as the ‘iris lady’ there.
When I first was getting to know Wonderful Guy in our divorce recovery class, we were sharing about our mutual interest in gardening, and iris specifically. That particular day, I had actually shipped a bunch of freshly divided rhizomes off to Dearest Sister for the market. I mentioned it to Wonderful Guy. Having moved here from the suburbs of KC, he asked me, ‘the Overland Park Farmer’s Market?’ ‘Yes’ He said, ‘I bought iris there.’ ‘When?’ He tells me in the early ‘90’s. I was floored! Dearest Sister and Mom were the only iris ladies there at that time! Could it be possible that Wonderful Guy bought iris from them?
When the community garden at Mother’s apartment building was paved for a parking lot, all of the iris moved to Dearest Sister’s yard. And a couple of years ago, when Dearest Sister relocated to the desert, I became keeper of the iris. I had many varieties already, and the inventory was added to, but most importantly, I was given the responsibility of the family heritage, as it were.
I know I don’t work with my iris without thinking of Mom, and I don’t believe Dearest Sister does either. While Wisest Sister doesn’t grow her own, I know the association is there for her, as well as for most everyone else in the family.
It's been a good week. There's some new stuff to do at work. I made progress on a languishing WIP. While two lunch dates cancelled, one was replaced with Youngest Daughter and the Grandbebe Girl. I consider that a decent trade. My first iris of the season bloomed. (Dearest Sister does not have the name, so it will be called Early Purple.) The weather has been excellent. Wonderful Guy and I got in a motorbike ride. Middle Daughter may be here for a visit end-ish of June.
It appears I didn't ruin the fleece investment, and have progressed on the carding, even having spun some of it. It is slow going, though. The carding, that is, not so much the spinning, even though there is still some VM to pick out even at that step. I told Dearest Sister that I hoped to have it processed before the Estes Park Wool Market, or I will be hard pressed to justify additional purchases. I have me some meanly honed rationalization skilz so not to fear! I won't be leaving Estes in June empty handed. I may have a chance to meet some Ravelers/fellow bloggers there, too.
The handspun scarf will be frogged and restarted on bigger needles. I might be finishing up a stash trade with a fellow Raveler, which is a new experience for me. She has been looking for some exactly like I bought for a good price last Christmas without a real plan for use, down to the correct lot number. I think I might be getting a wool/silk blend she picked up while in China.
Tonight, Wonderful Guy and I are participating in a Game Night with some friends, and tomorrow morning there is a meeting that will take consume us until lunch. After that? Some more yard clean up, and on Sunday maybe some more hiking. I started a log of the hikes over there in the margin, down the page a bit. We'll see how fast it adds up. First year Wonderful Guy and I started spending real time together, we logged over 150 miles. But that is a story for another post.
One other thing I want to do this weekend is to make some birthday cards. Our busy birthday season is going to be hitting hard starting with May. And making cards is a good way to get back in the scrap room. And I want to, too.
Look what greeted me when I came home from work today. I didn't even know there was a bud! This guy is my earliest bloomer, and the name eludes me. Perhaps Dearest Sister will recognize the little fellow and recall it's moniker.
Hand for scale....
He is really an itty bitty one, my smallest, in fact, and was transplanted from a less desirable area last fall. Blooms are generally unexpected the first year after transplanting, so this is a real gift. Especially because it is my first iris bloom of the year! I. Am. So. Excited!
And these ladies have on their best perfume. The fragrance of hyacinths is the smell of spring for me. The neighbors have to pardon me as I get down to enjoy these beauties.
Oh, I know where I live....I know we will probably have more freezing temps! I think it makes it all the sweeter.
I love April! I love the weather. I love seeing the new sprouting/blooming things. I love the promise of the growing season to come. I spied my first iris bud yesterday. And it’s a tall bearded! Be still, my beating heart!
When Wonderful Guy and I were buying the forsythia, on the way to the check out, he asked if I wanted to look around any more at the garden center. I said no…well….yes! I bought tomatoes. Yes I did! Not on sale, not with coupons, just out and out got my choice early in the season. I am moving them in and out, morning and night, and will do so for 3 more weeks. Maybe tomatoes before the end of July this year? I can only hope!
Last night at knit night at the lys, I took the Alison’s Scarf. I thought it had been long enough for that one. Turns out almost too long. I had to think long and hard on those directions before they came back to me, but come back they did, and I got 3 repeats done before calling it an evening. I’m glad to get back to work on it. I am not one to have a project, any project, languish.
Once home, there was more carding on the fleece. What I washed has dried very nicely, and what I have carded has worked very well. No felting, no more livestock odor, and the texture is like a cloud! I am thinking I need a special basket to put my little rolags to await spinning. (Hmmm…where can I find such a thing?) I also am thinking that I will start spinning some of what I have carded. It all part of the process, figuring out what I am doing, and if I am doing it right before I do it ALL wrong. I mean, if my little rolags don’t draft, or if I didn’t get enough of the veggie matter out, or if I figure out what I am doing isn’t working, I have the chance to change before I have processed the whole fleece to the unworkable state.
And I had lunch with Youngest Daughter and Grandbebe Girl today. What a treat that was!
Wonderful Guy joined us for lunch, then after work, and a walk with Best Dog Ever, we took a ride on the Bandit. It was a great night for a ride. Yes, I surely do love this time of the year.
One of the important and best things I have learned in the 12 step program I attend for those with general living issues is the idea of sharing what one has learned without being directive. That is, not telling others what they need to do. We call it ‘sharing our experience, strength, and hope’.
Sometimes it’s as simple as using the pronoun ‘I’, instead of the pronoun ‘you’. That may seem very simple for some, but it was a big transition for me. First, I generally meant ‘me’ when I said ‘you’, and would have argued that it made that much difference. (Really, people, picky stuff here! Let’s get to the meat of the matter, which is to get you to think like me!) Then again, sometimes I was telling people what they ought to be doing to fix their problems. I mean, why would they be telling me their stuff if they didn’t want my help?
In addition, it works for me to share what my experience has been, what has worked for me in the past. End of story. The other person may hear something they can relate to, or they may think I am completely out to lunch. It’s their choice to do what they will with the experience I share. I try very hard to not give advice, and that frees the other person from having to tell me why ‘it’ won’t work in their situation.
It’s my experience, unique to my situation and background. I don’t assume anymore I have the answers for anyone else. I am freed up to listen more completely when I don’t feel I am responsible for coming up with a solution to someone’s situation. Often that is all that is required for some…a good listening.
With the Dee-vorce, I learned I have no answers, and I can learn a lot from listening to other’s experiences. My mad listening skilz have increased dramatically, and I am amazed at what ‘just listening’ can do for some people.
Of course, this is all just talk when it comes to my role as a mother! Then I am all about telling those kids what they need to be doing!
I have started a project with my first handspun yarn. It is not the finest, but it is the first, and it is sort of cool looking, too. I am making a ‘Handspun Scarf’ by Monica Gomi (Two Left Needles). I feel a need to knit up some yarn I have spun.
I have one Grown Up Sock complete, and cast on the second with not a problem. I have completed the cuff and am now on the leg. Very exciting stuff, this knitting of socks. (I have heard it is the crack of the knitting world.)
I plied the ‘hot tamale’ wool/silk roving with some orange merino last week, which resulted in this. There is about 3 oz, maybe 4, and some of it is very nice. Parts of it were spun ‘early in my career’ and are more inconsistent. It surely looks pretty in the morning sun. If I was to name my yarns, I might call this on 'Flame On'. Of course, now I am reading about ‘balancing’ the plying and spinning twist. Hmmm….maybe too late for this stuff.
I finished this yarn yesterday. It is an alpaca/silk blend, plied with wool top. I bought the wool top as waste from Brown Sheep Co. I carded it to loosen it up, then spun the single. I plied this with a high twist. No telling what it will look like knitted up!
I started carding some of the cleaned alpaca last night, some little parts that were dry, just to make sure it worked, and I hadn’t felted my investment. I am learning as I go on this, as much as I want to research all I can, knowing all there is to know before starting. I have chosen to jump in and get the feet wet, armed with some knowledge, convinced I will learn more as I practice.
So far, so good, I guess. I mean it’s like just now learning about high twist/low twist and matching it up between the singles and the plying. I suppose I could have waited until I ‘knew’ everything, but then I probably would never have started. Most of what I have learned about gardening, I learned as I went. I will keep reading and learning and practicing and listening.
Wonderful Guy and I had a busy one. Only Step-Son and the Grand-Pup joined us on Saturday for hiking. Before we went to Devil's Backbone, though, I asked to stop at a local alpaca breeder that was hosting an open house, with the expressed intent of purchasing a fleece. Look what I got! We hiked about four miles on Saturday along a ridge called Devil's Backbone. Where the name comes from is pretty obvious. It's the formation in the foreground. The snowcovered peak is Long's. Still pretty cold up there, and that is why we are keeping the early season hikes down low. The day was clear and warm, and we were grateful for the breeze. I saw sand lilies and yellow violets! When we returned home, I had a chance to clean out a few more beds from last fall's debris. I have lots of perennials sending up new growth. So exciting! This is my time of year, I tell you.
Both kitties found the brand-new catnip, which is the second year for this little volunteer. I read somewhere that only 25% of cats are affected by catnip. Both of mine love it to nibble and roll in.
After our meeting on Sunday, we decided to stretch out the stiffness in the legs with a shorter hike, about two and a half miles, to Horsetooth Falls. It was very windy, but still sunny and warm. Long's Peak again, but with a multitude of terrain in between us and the mountain. I saw pasque flowers, sand lilies, yellow violets, and oregon grape. Wild flowers! Woohoo!
On our drive home, we picked up a forsythia. It is already planted by Wonderful Guy, and I suspect that gives him trimming rights. I started washing my fleece. Another new and wonderful learning experience! I washed about half of it, in case I totally biffed it and felted the whole thing. I laid it out on the back patio in the breeze and sun for a bit, and it seems to be drying nice and fluffy. I am excited to work my carding majick!
Wisest Sister has gifted me with wondrous generosity. Three books by Elizabeth Zimmerman, with DVD on ‘Assembling the Baby Surprise Jacket’! And cotton yarn, too! When I let her know that the package had arrived, she told me that the box was stuffed with packing peanuts when she rethought. Dumping out the peanuts, she replaced them with Sugar ‘n Cream yarn. Much more useful! The forsythia have opened up all over town this last week. Wonderful Guy and I are discussing, again, putting in our own. We have differing philosophies though. He prefers the trained look while I prefer free-range bushes. He is allowed to trim the mini lilacs and the barberry, but must not...MUST NOT… touch the old-fashioned lilacs. In trimming back a couple of perennials just this winter, in an effort to neat them up, I fear he has done them in. I love the look of wildness and freedom and spilling over the walks. He does not. Wonderful Guy likes the tidiness of trimmed plants. It is one of the few misalignments of philosophies we have. And while we usually do very well in living with the other’s opinions, if he croaks any more of my perennials, we may well have our first real fight!
When I started the ABC-Along, I made a tentative list of words, and right away knew that H would be hankies.
I had a modest collection of hankies, 10 or so, when the Dee-vorce process began. During that time, I was in tears a lot. Well, my heart was broken, after all, and there was nothing for it. I traveled nowhere but with a pack of tissues, even though the lint often wreaked havoc with my contacts. But the day at work, after I had already met with someone at length, when I went to the ladies room and discovered, much to my chagrin, that I had tissue debris all over my face, I knew I needed another strategy. At home that evening, from my lingerie drawer, I brought out my hankies, and ironed them all. I always have a hankie in my bag now, for tears and sneezing. (The blowing of noses still calls for tissues!)
Dearest Sister has had a lifelong obsession with hankies that I did not comprehend until this point in my life. First, she forwarded to me an additional supply. Then she related her finds of hankies at estate sales and auctions, and later how she discovered hankies on Ebay. I was amazed, strangely intrigued, and somehow challenged…
Here we are before a piano recital. Look closely...she is holding a hankie..
THIS hankie...she has it still!
So now I have a more than modest collection of hankies, but not as…vast…as Dearest Sister’s. As I decided how to portray my hankies for this post, I sorted through my collection again. I may be at a loss to describe the feeling. They are like little works of art. Some indeed are, as ‘designer’ hankies. Others are pieces of handiwork, which I consider someone’s craft. They are a link to a less disposable time, a time perhaps a bit more gracious and graceful in some ways.
Some of my hankies have been purchased as souvenirs, at antique shops on vacations. Some are gifts from those that know of my penchant for hankies. Some I bought from my ‘hankie pusher’ on Ebay. (Wonderful Guy was more relieved than he will admit when she went on hiatus last year and I was forced into rehab.) Certainly there are pricier ones, but I don’t think any over $8…and some were bargains at less than $1.
I have printed, embroidered, appliquéd, tatted, and crocheted hankies. I have cotton, linen, and silk hankies. I have some with the original sticker, and some that show a lot of wear. I have bridal and mourning and lipstick hankies. I have hankies of all colors, and I love all them all.
This is one of my most unique. Talking flowers, and if you can read the words, they are speaking French! Les fleurs parlent francais! C'est bon! (Maybe I should see what my hankie pusher is offering this week….all this hankie talk has given me the yen!)
My mother’s birthday was April 14th, and this year she would have been 90. She died 3 years ago this year today, at 87.
This is the last part of my little tribute to her memory.
Mom never remarried. There were a couple of fellows she saw for quite a while, and Dearest Sister and I thought we might have to make room for a daddy. Nothing panned out, for unclear reasons to us at the time. Later, when asked, she told me that she never believed anyone would love us girls as much as our daddy did. I also think a big part of it was the fact that she like being independent, as unfortunate as the circumstances were that forced her into that situation. I don’t believe she relished the idea of trading that independence for the role of a wife and the dependence that meant to a woman of her generation.
Before the birth of Grandbebe #3
She was incredibly energetic until the last years of her life. Momma maintained the exercise philosophy that one stayed active and fit and flexible by doing whatever one could. Not one for health clubs, she took the every man's approach. Obviously, she gardened, and was not above the shoveling of manure. And she drove a standard transmission (tightening up the abs whenever that clutch was engaged!). She loved to swim, and I remember her swimming laps, slow and steady, the crawl and sidestroke and backstroke. Momma said the tension just flowed out of her those times. There were some other interesting aspects to this theory, with her flexibility exercises and Barley Green (again with the rolling of the eyes!) but mostly she walked when she could and took care of her health. She remained healthy and full of life, and lived independently until the last few years, when her memory started to fail, and her congestive heart disease slowed her down.
My siblings and the grandchildren, of whom there are 10 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren, have their own memories of Mom. On her last day with us, Dearest Sister, myself, and the Three Daughters were sitting with her. Middle Daughter suggested we share what we each remembered best about Grandma. I don’t recall what I said really, but I remember what the girls said. They remembered that when Grandma came to visit, she always brought Shredded Wheat and ‘Shaklee’ Protein Powder, and she let them have as much as they wanted. “It was like ICING,” all three cried! Dearest Sister and I burst out laughing. Not something indelibly etched in my memory, but it is for them.
(Note: one of them commented yesterday about the shredded wheat before even reading this section!)
With Grandbebe #6
When Momma passed, we all knew how she wanted things done. She had made that plain. And plain was the word for it. Nothing fancy, and as inexpensive as we could make it. As that young widow, with few funds, she was called upon to spend a hefty amount for the transport, funeral, and burial of Daddy. She saw so much money go into flowers when she didn’t know how she was going to support her children. It irked her tremendously. She made it clear to us that was not what she wanted. She was not going to be there. She wouldn’t care, and it was not going to matter. So her wishes were what we adhered to. Cremation without viewing, a memorial service, donations to the church instead of flowers. We bought flowers in bulk from Sam’s, and Youngest Daughter, a floral designer, created some beautiful sprays. When we saw the prices of the urns at the funeral home, we bought Mom’s off EBay. (She would LOVE that.) We worked together very well as siblings during that time, and it occurred to me that is often not the case.
I remember her saying ‘I’m just so proud of you kids’. And her grandkids. And her great-grandkids. And while she may have been a bit stiff-necked in the way she showed it, I know down deep her pride was true. She just was a product of her generation, and had definite ideas of what was right and what was wrong, and how one went about doing things the right way. And by golly, she was not above telling someone when they needed to straighten up and fly right. And how…and why…,and what was going to happen if they didn’t…. I don’t think it ever registered that we were rolling our eyes, and waiting for the end of the lecture. She didn’t do all of it right, and there were mistakes made. But her kids are still talking to each other, know they love each other, and truly enjoy being around each other. She did the best she knew how, and I am feeling that she did a bit better than that, too.
At age 51 (about my age currently...more or less...well...less...)
My mother’s birthday is today, and this year she would have been 90. She died 3 years ago this year tomorrow, at 87.
(This is the 3rd part of my story of my mother.)
Mom and a later roommate, Gladys, started growing iris, like crazy iris ladies…but not really. Well, maybe a little. She served as president of the local chapter of the iris society. Dearest Sister and my mother had quite a hobby business selling iris rhizomes at the local farmer’s market for years. They had a system truly finessed, and I have come to find out Wonderful Guy very likely bought iris from them, but that is a story for another post.
Momma in one of her show gardens...
I believe there were two attractions for Momma about the farmer’s market iris gig, besides the iris. There was, of course, helping people with her wealth of knowledge. And there were PEOPLE. Mother never met a stranger. Ever. She could strike up conversation in check out lines, in parking lots, with people at other tables in restaurants, waiting for a table in restaurants, cashiers, anyone anywhere! Dearest Sister and I often comment on the fact that she and I find ourselves incapable of interacting easily with those we don’t know while Mom didn’t have any problem at all.
KC Star article regaling Mother's efforts...
After Mom moved into the ‘Towers’ (apartments for retired folks), she organized a community garden. The garden, which started small, and under protest and much negativity, grew to triple and quadruple its original size, ending up funded by the apartment management. Gardeners had their own farmer’s market, and those that didn’t grow got a bit of exercise walking out to see what was being grown. It was a tremendous success, but Momma was just glad she could keep gardening after moving to the apartment! I have inherited the grow light set up she used. I cannot convey with words the delight she took each year from perusing the seed catalogs. She was quite progressive in choosing some new variety yearly. She started her seeds in the cleaned, styrofoam cups she would scavenge from the gathering area in the lobby of the ‘Towers’, ever dutiful in her thriftiness.
With the gardening ladies...
Momma loved her grandkids, even if it wasn’t shown in the ‘traditional’ sense. She wasn’t one to indulge them, especially if she could teach them a lesson…like how to transplant tomatoes. Or weed the iris. She really didn’t like unproductive time. At all. Which is why, to this day, it is difficult for me to just sit. I need to ‘be doing something’. So while I watch TV, I knit, or quilt, or read, or spin…always being productive, getting something accomplished.
Being at Grandma's wasn't completely without it's treats, and that usually came in the form of a Dr. Pepper served in a frosty mug. Dr. Pepper was Mom's favorite drink from as early as I can remember. When Dearest Sister and I were young, and money was tight, Momma would occasionally indulge herself, and us, with a carton of six bottles. She would share, but always rationing. The caps of Dr. Pepper back then had the numbers 10, 2, and 4 on them. Mom had Dearest Sister and I convinced that those were the only appropriate times for a Dr. Pepper break, 10AM, 2PM, and 4PM.
With Precious Niece...
I learned to sew and to knit from Momma, two skills I am very grateful for, and upon which I have built. She spent years knitting dishcloths, and that story is here. I have many cooking skills that she taught me as well, but those are more basic. Her skills in the kitchen were not so much of the formal variety, but could she bake some bread! It just wasn’t ever the same twice. I remember her homemade cinnamon rolls especially. Everyone loved her carmel rolls, with all the sticky stuff on the bottom. Everyone except me. So she always made a small pan of non-sticky ones, just a few, special for me. At least that’s the way I remember it. And of course, I do not do anything a thing in my yard without a thought going to Momma.
Always ready to travel, especially to see the grandkids...
She truly valued education, and traveled until she couldn’t, to every graduation of kids and grandkids, be it from high school or college or flight school. Partly, I think, because her love of travel never dimmed, and I think it gave her an excuse to get up and go! Mostly, though, it was a sincere celebration of achievement on her part for her offspring and grandchildren. Growing up without financial resources, we didn’t have much, but we always had books, and as an adult moving often, one of the first things I do upon moving to a new place is to get a library card. Wonderful Guy is often confounded at the amount of money I can spend on books without any justication. Books, and reading, and learning are...productive!