Friday, October 12, 2018

Beesong Pattern Winner

Here is the pattern set on offer:

Here are the entrants, listed in chronological order of entry:

1. Teresa (blog comment)
2. Vicki (email)
3. ds (email)
4. Mere (comment)
5. Debbie (comment)
6. cawingcrow (comment)
7. Axta (comment)

And here is the Random Number Generator doing its thing:

Congratulations to cawingcrow! I'll be emailing you for your Ravelry ID.

Many thanks to all who commented and emailed! And thanks to SweetGeorgia yarns for providing the prize.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

One Sunny Day

Maybe it's my state of mind, but it seems that since we got back from California there's been nothing but rain: heavy rain, light rain, misty rain, blowing rain, soft rain, hard rain, unrelenting drizzly rain. Days upon days upon days of it.

I really ought not to complain; my herbs are astonishingly lush and thriving, and our single monster tomato plant, which should be winding down at this time of year, has taken fresh courage and grown another couple of feet.

But dang, it's October. We should be enjoying sparkling days and crisp nights, marvelling at the astonishing blueness of autumn skies, sniffing the winy air to catch whiffs of bonfires. Instead, we've been wrangling umbrellas and living under a damp blanket of cloud.

Except for last Thursday.


Last Thursday was a textbook fall day, with all the sparkle and crispness anyone could desire, and -  lucky me - I was free to take a ride under the (temporarily) glorious October skies.

Maples were just beginning to kindle their autumn torches:

Mushrooms grew by the side of the road:

A local lake rivalled the sky for blueness:

The beguiling road wound uphill and down, while trees smiled benignly on either side:

And a tiny unnamed waterway lay like a sheet of silk under a canopy of fleecy white cloud:

One sunny day. One glorious, north-wind-blowing, blue-sky-blazing, autumn-tinted day. It was wonderful while it lasted.

The next day we were back to this:

And here's our forecast for the next few days:


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In other news, my favourite home-state baseball team will be playing my favourite adopted-state team for the National League championship. It's a win-win situation! :D

Are you a baseball fan? If so, who are you rooting for in the postseason?

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Beesong Hat and Mitts + Pattern Giveaway from SweetGeorgia Yarns

Just in time for cooler weather, I'm happy to present the Beesong Hat and Mitts, a new pattern recently published in SweetGeorgiaYarns's first-ever fall/winter crochet collection:

Photo by Josh Yong for SweetGeorgia Yarns

The Beesong Hat and Mitts are richly textured and beautifully soft, with honeycomb-patterned center panels and slip stitch ribbing bands. The slouchy hat features a fun, flowery-looking chained pompom.

Both hat and mitts were worked in SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash DK, a lovely sproingy yarn that crochets up beautifully. The colorway is called Apple Pie, and was specially dyed for this design; it's a gorgeous gingery shade that reminds me of molasses cookies.

I'm very excited to be part of Crochet Fall with SweetGeorgia, which also features amazing patterns by Elena Fedotova, Kirsten Joel, Nazanin S. Fard, and Jessie Rayot.

To see the entire collection, visit the lookbookRavelry, or SweetGeorgia's pattern page.

SweetGeorgia's dizzyingly delicious array of yarns can be viewed here.


SweetGeorgia Yarns have generously offered to give away a copy of the Beesong Hat & Mitts pattern. The winner will receive a free pattern download to their Ravelry account.

If you'd like a chance to win, leave a comment below that includes the words "bees", OR send me an email (see my profile for the address), with "bees" in the subject line.
~ Winner must have a Ravelry account. If you've never joined Ravelry, click here (it's free!).
~ If you leave a comment below, make sure your online profile is set up to receive replies. If you're a "No-Reply Blogger", or if your online profile does not include an email address, please include a way for me to reach you.
Giveaway closes on Thursday, October 11, at midnight (US Central Daylight Time). The winner will be chosen by random number generator.

The winner will be announced on Friday, October 12.

This giveaway is international and open to anyone with a Ravelry account. Good luck!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Adios, Sarita

One sunny morning earlier this month, the phone rang during breakfast. It was Mr. M's brother, calling to tell us that Sara, Mr. M's mom, was suddenly very sick. He said we'd better hop on a plane as soon as we could.

After a long day of logistical scrambling, we set the alarm for 1 am and lay down for a few hours' rest. (Our flight was scheduled to leave very early the next morning.) But just before the alarm went off, the phone rang again. It was the nursing home calling to tell us that Sara had stopped breathing.

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Sara's life was not an easy one. She was born in Puerto Rico, into conditions of dire poverty; abandoned by both parents, she was raised by a succession of relatives. She attended school, but only through the eighth grade; we never learned why she had to stop at that level.

At 16 she married a man eight years her senior; like her, he had been born on the island and raised in poverty. Not long after the wedding, she followed him to the mainland in search of a better life. So short of money were they that she had to sell her wedding dress to help pay the fare.

Once here, she worked hard, helping her husband save money. They were able to buy a home and a small business, to provide their children with material comforts and send them to parochial schools, and, eventually, to retire in comfort themselves. Their marriage, though unhappy, was lasting; Sara outlived her husband by many years.


Sara was a tiny woman, under 5 feet tall, with a wide-flashing smile and a strong accent. Always well-coiffed and carefully dressed, she was someone to whom appearances mattered greatly. Years after we met, I learned that she, having mostly island blood, often felt inferior to her husband's part-Spanish, more Caucasian-looking family. Living as a minority woman in the US of the 1950s, she must have faced formidable cultural and social challenges. I think she spent most of her life here trying to fit in.

Perhaps this is why she was not always easy to be around, and why her character inclined towards discontent. But she also had a sense of humor, and often laughed at herself over her struggles with the English language. She was hospitable, too, and a good cook who greatly enjoyed feeding family and friends.

Like many women of her generation, she was a competent seamstress, sewing her own clothes and home furnishings. By the time I met Mr. M she had a roomful of fabric, patterns, and sewing supplies gathered over many years. When she finally gave up sewing, she generously told me to help myself to anything from her stash.

She was generous in other ways, too. She loved to shop for clothing for her adult children, and to pick up extra groceries as gifts. For years she sent us funny little care packages filled with random assortments of goodies - cookies or granola from Trader Joe's, a few tea bags, a chocolate bar, a packet of guava paste. Sometimes there'd be a package of socks, or a towel and washcloth set. I think, for her, these gifts took the place of the physical and verbal affection she struggled to express. Buying things for people was her way of showing love.


As Sara grew older, dementia set in and steadily worsened. She spent the last several years in a nursing home, gradually losing the ability to speak and respond. The staff there tended her with loving care, speaking Spanish to her and nicknaming her Sarita (which means "little Sara").

Mr. M's brother told us her years there were the happiest ones of her life. Perhaps the dementia played a part in this, but I hope, too, after all she'd been through - poverty, abandonment, instability and change, relentless hard work, lifelong feelings of inadequacy - that at long last her fears and insecurities fell away or were forgotten. If old age and dementia are a kind of second childhood, I am grateful that hers was a good one: speaking and hearing her native tongue, understanding and being understood, nurtured as she never had been in her first childhood, and feeling safe and cared for.

Rest in peace, Sarita.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Flowers of August

For sheer abundance and variety of roadside wildflowers, July and August are probably the best months of the year in my part of Wisconsin.

Here's a sampling of flowers (and a few other things) I've seen on my August rides....

Cloudy Sunday Evening Ride

Hairy vetch, a member of the pea family that deserves a prettier name:

A field of Canada goldenrod:

Delicate flowering spurge:

Hare's-foot clover going to seed:

American Lotus growing on a nearly-hidden backroad lake:

On that same backroad I often spot feathers lying on the ground:

Glowing thistle brightening a cloudy day:

Alien-looking horsemint blooming at the edge of the woods:

A favourite barn under grey skies:

Deer standing in a twilit shade (I passed this deer four times trying to get a good photo, but the light was too poor):

A cheery woodland sunflower shining above dark leaves:


Cloudy Morning Ride to Work

I've been trying to ride to work once a week, as weather permits. Though I don't usually stop for photos, on this particular morning the temptation was too much.

First there was a field of chicory mixed with red clover:

The last two miles of my route to work are along a river trail, where wildflowers sometimes* grow with abandon. In the space of a mile I saw baby coneflowers:

And hoary alyssum:

Large patches of Butter-and-eggs, or yellow toadflax, in the grass beside the trail:

And fleabane:

Ragweed (bane of my existence and the cause of many a sneeze):

And minuscule cinquefoil:

A regal spiderwort stood aloof from the other flowers:

Bright birdsfoot trefoil made spots of gold:

Spotted knapweed waved dainty lavender petals:

Everybody knows the next one, right? I rode past clouds of it nodding in the breeze:

Goldenrod grew on the river side of the trail:

And prairie onion, a new-to-me flower:

A glorious jumble of orange milkweed and late-blooming crown vetch:

At the water's edge, gorgeous swathes of purple loosestrife:

*It's a good thing I photographed the trailside flowers when I did - the next week the city mowers came along and cut them all down. Grrr.


We interrupt this flower-laden post for a brief photo of Lunch from the Garden:

Isn't summer delightful?


Sunny Morning Ride to Work

No flower photos on this day (thanks to those darn mowers), but I did see twin fawns next to the trail:

View of the river:


Partly Cloudy Saturday Evening Ride

This ride was made memorable by the most painful insect bite I've ever received. I don't know what bit me, but it felt very like a jellyfish sting I once got. The pain persisted through the ride and into the night, but (thank God) was gone when I woke up the next morning.

Photos were few that evening, but here's the best of them:


Sunday Late-Afternoon Ride

The next day's ride was much better - no insect bites, and plenty of flowers.

Blue vervain growing next to a marsh:

Joe-Pye weed nearby:

Swallows have been gathering for weeks now. I passed a group of them on a wire, with a single mourning dove in their midst:

Summer-heavy trees lining a favourite bend in the road:

Wild sunflowers and goldenrod supporting a rustic fence:

Gratuitous bike shot, with turtle:

It's been a good year for whorled milkweed, the tiniest of the milkweed species. Here's some I found growing at the edge of a field:

Nearby were some small flowers (fleabane, I think) going beautifully to seed:

And salsify, looking magical and ready to fly:

Around the corner, a huge patch of Pennsylvania smartweed grew in a damp spot:

While wild cucumber tried to take over the road:

A few miles later, I passed a small patch of stiff goldenrod (much rarer around here than the ubiquitous Canada goldenrod seen above):


Sunny Saturday Afternoon Ride

This short ride happened yesterday, and yielded only one photo - a coneflower surrounded by some rather interesting buds:

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August has been mostly cloudy this year, with plenty of rain - in some places, more rain than we could well handle. I wish we could share the surplus water with our friends in the dry west and northwest.

Has your August been cloudy or sunny? Rainy or dry?

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