Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It was windy today

And a cold blue-grey. Gusts up to fifty miles per hour knocked over fences and flower pots. Branches littered the dirt roads. Almost like God was sweeping the earth clean of dead wood in preparation for the new year. Ready for a new start.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks a lot

Today I'm thankful for:

Our warm little home and cozy basement;

These beautiful birds: the bald eagle who came back to the farm to roost on the dead tree in the hill field on his way South for the season and the red-tailed hawk who followed us with his eyes until we saw him and then swooped low in front of us, showing off, as we walked this morning;

My husband's good job;

Bittersweet and falling leaves;

My family, and getting to see them for the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow;

A big white dog who will sit! from fifty feet in the face of a bounding deer or a nervous mama cow, but who will go absolutely bananas ("le chien est bananes, b-a-n-a-n-e-s") with a stick in his mouth running down the driveway;

The sweet boy in my belly who kicks when I sing along to Hank Williams on the car radio.

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow!

(Now I have to go listen to the Raffi song that inspired the title of this post or else it will be in my head all day-- we sure did listen to a lot of Raffi in the minivan when I was a kid...)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas Knitting

So, long time no blog. Life has gotten in the way. My days have been filled with long walks in the country and baby shopping. A little baby worrying, too, but only because I'm a worrier by nature. Everything is fine. I've been practicing my yoga breathing (right nostril in, left nostril out, ahhh) and singing my ubi caritas in line at the doctor's office and the grocery store. And the boy is growing and kicking inside.

I've also been doing a little Christmas knitting. If you're expecting a gift from me, don't look too closely! Yarns from left to right, for my reference: Socks That Rock lightweight from 2007 Rockin' Sock Club (it looks a lot like Monsoon), Koigu KPPPM, STR medium XMas Rock, some more Koigu KPPPM, STR mediumweight in what could be Lapis (I'm terrible at keeping up with ball bands), and some Silkie STR, also from the 2007 sock club. I think most of the knitting for people with big feet is out of the way. It's amazing how much sock knitting you can get done in the first trimester if you can't get off the couch!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

For My February Baby

This little sweater goes part of the way toward explaining where I've been all summer, and why there haven't been any foxhunting reports lately. Our first child, a son, is due at the very beginning of February. I couldn't be more excited!

Knitting on this sweater was a way to keep my hands busy and my mind quiet during the tense and sick first trimester, which seemed to last all summer. I seem to finally have gotten the fabled second trimester energy surge, so hopefully there will be more crafting (and email responding-- I've been absolutely terrible about that all summer; sorry friends) on the horizon. I'm disappointed to be missing the hunting season (as I was telling a hunting friend on the phone this morning, there's really nothing like that feeling), but I'm happy to do it to protect my little one.

Anyway, this is Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Sweater on Two Needles (Ravelry link), also known as the February Baby Sweater, from her Knitting Almanac, done up in Rowan Wool Cotton that I had on hand. It was a dream to knit, neither the pattern nor the yarn could have been nicer. I still need to sew on the rest of the buttons, but I can't wait until it helps to keep a little winter-born baby warm in a few months!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Dear Jane

Two new Dear Jane blocks this week. Both blocks came about when I needed to zone out on piecework. Those foundation papers make this so easy to do, and so relaxing. First is L-5 Chattanooga Charlie, another batik block. This block was meant to be brown, but I like the additional color and movement that the wilder batik adds. I'm getting a little sick of all the brown blocks, and my stash is running a little thin.
And this is M-11, Rickshaw. There was a little more lining up to do in this block, which as you can see wasn't as successful as it could have been. But I still like the finished product. This is one of the first fabrics I bought on my own as a quilter, in 2001. I find it kind of somber now.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The winding road

Seems I like to post photos of this peaceful road on this day each year. A sun-dappled space for a deep breath. When I took this picture this morning around 10 am, it was so cool and fresh in this leafy corridor. I wonder what's around the bend.

The summer between eighth grade and the beginning of high school (how old were we then, 13?), my friend Addie came to the farm with me to visit my grandparents, and we took this road to riding camp each morning. One morning she sighed and said, "Oh, this road is so romantic!" She always did remind me of Anne Shirley, red hair and all (although hers would probably be called a distinguished auburn).

I think the romance is part of what is so calming about this place. It is quiet, but so full of possibility. It always reminds me of that Celtic blessing that begins, "May the road rise to meet you." This road always reminds me to breathe.

PS: Corny today? Yes. But if not today, then which day?

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Subtitled: Do you stew?

Today I'm making a big pot of Brunswick stew, willing it to be Fall even though I know we're still in for at least another week of hot sticky summer. With its mix of summer and storage vegetables (corn and tomatoes; potatoes and onions), Brunswick stew has always seemed a good bridge meal. The stew used to be made with whatever meat a person had around, squirrel or rabbit being the easiest to rustle up, but now it's mostly made with chicken (except, apparently in Georgia where it's apparently made with *brace yourself* beef).

In our house when I was growing up, we always called this just plain "Brunswick". It was one of the things that we could heat up all by ourselves for Saturday lunch. My grandmother who lived in Houston but was born in Richmond was delighted when my mother brought her a stock of Mrs. Fearnow's in the bright yellow cans with red writing and those old-fashioned looking pen and ink trees.

This is the stew that is often a side dish on North Carolina barbeque restaurant and church buffets, along with the cooked-to-death collard greens and the boiled potatoes. In Raleigh, I used to make it to go along with oysters done under steaming burlap on the grill. And I still remember the first time I made this in the Little House at the farm. I made the biggest mess of that no-dishwasher kitchen, and ended up giving much of the huge potful away to co-workers and my friend Karen who doesn't like lima beans but can pick around them in this stew.

Late last month, my parents (and my parents-in-law) went to a wedding on the North Carolina coast. My mother told me this story. Our childhood friend, who was getting married, is a native North Carolinian, as are her parents and grandparents. Her husband is from the North. At the rehearsal dinner, Brunswick was served as a side dish, and the Northern contingent couldn't quite figure out what it was. Too thick to be vegetable soup, too tomato-y to be meat stew. "What is this?" asked one of the Northern guests.

"Why, it's Brunswick stew," the Southerners explained.

"What's that?" the Northern guest persevered.

"Well," said a long-time Carolinian, "think of it as vegetable stew that a squirrel tripped and fell into." A clattering of spoons on soup bowls. "Although," she added slowly smiling, "now it's mostly made with chicken." Whoops and cackles from the gathered Southerners.

My stew still needs its corn and hot sauce, but then we'll have a favorite dinner. Hurry Fall!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hazy lazy days

So summer's almost over, and I can tell partly because the pastures have been burned to a crisp by the August sun. We did get some rain this week, the remnants of a tropical storm, so hopefully everything will green up again for a bit.

Also signalling the end of summer: A couple of months ago all the weed-flowers in the fields were yellow and white and then last month, some were orange. Now almost all of them are blue and purple. Fall is coming. Hopefully I'll have some more crafty content soon, when I'm spending more time indoors. Happy Labor Day!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Savage River?

Last weekend, we made a quick three day getaway to Savage River State Forest in Western Maryland. We took the dog, and he had a great time frolicking in the not-so-savage headwaters of the river. We hiked and read and talked and generally enjoyed our time without tv and computers.

This photo was actually taken when we were on our way out, pup leashed up and ready to load into the car. I left my camera behind in our cabin when we went hiking, but it's probably for the best. The camera can never capture the dappled sunlight through the trees quite the way I remember it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Just checking in

Well, summer hasn't gotten any less busy, so it's no surprise to me that it's been almost two weeks since I've written here. I present a few (fuzzy) photos to catch up. The progress on my hill-y ripple blanket, started many moons ago. I'm using all Debbie Bliss yarns (Baby Cashmerino, Cashmerino DK mostly) because if you're going to do something that takes this long, you might as well do it right. This will be a really luxurious blanket for our queen-sized bed. As a bonus, it's quite heavy, so it will be nice and cozy in the winter. Here's hoping I can get it finished by then! I've done about 35 rows (each row is two rows of the same color and comes in at about an inch in width, depending on the yarn), and I'm a little over a third of the way done. I'm digging the way the colors are coming together.
Buttermilk batter-fried squash blossoms from a couple of weeks ago. These were phenomenal. We bought a pint of these little gals at the farmers' market for about $3, which seemed expensive at the time, but they were so delicious once I fried them up that I wish I could get them every week. I used a 1:1 buttermilk to regular flour batter and pan fried them in canola oil. A little sprinkle of kosher salt, and yum yum. Not all of them are shown here, because you have to eat them piping hot, don't you know.

And anniversary flowers from my sweet husband. This is our fourth anniversary, so fruit and flowers are the traditional gifts (or, as Wikipedia wants to call them, the "British" gifts). These are huge and beautiful and they smell wonderful. I'll share the (somewhat silly) gift I made for him here tomorrow. Happy Anniversary, Brian! I love you.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rainy summer afternoon

Beautiful, really. Look how saturated those colors are. The rain was still coming down when I took this.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Birthday bean bags

Yesterday there was a pool party birthday for my cousin Sara's little girl. She'll be two later this week. I wanted to make her something active and colorful, and so the idea for these bean bags was born.
My husband had to go to the store for me to get enough dried navy beans to fill all the bags, but I think they turned out really cute. The birthday girl seemed to enjoy pulling them out of the bag one by one.
And here's the bag to put them away when playtime is finished.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another girly baby quilt

So. This quilt is for a friend who's a little more girly than the one for whom I made the first "girl" baby quilt. Pinwheels instead of hourglasses, and all pinks and grays. This one was kind of hard to give away, it turned out so well. But I could make another if I really wanted to; all the fabrics are still in the stash. The quilt is still smaller than the "standard" baby quilt size, but I like them that way-- they can be used as a play mat or drag-along as well as for the wrapping-up in the first few weeks and months. BQ (before quilting) it was 36" by 41", and I forgot to measure after. I was rushing to get it completed for my friend's baby shower today, where it was received very warmly.
A few cobwebs have been forming around the blog here lately. I think summer is getting in the way. Back soon, hopefully!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


So yesterday I had some time to get caught up on some Jane-ing. These were all foundation pieced patterns that I already had printed up and tucked into my book. I thought they were all from the Jane-along, but it looks like only two of them were. I'll have to pay more attention in the future!I always seem to start these multi-block entries with my favorite of the bunch, and this time is no exception. This is F-2: Kaleidoscope, one of the ones that I needed to catch up on. This came together really easily, and I love the way it looks with the red and cream and green and the sprouting sprigs in the center.
E-3: Paddlewheels somehow took waaaay longer than it should have during a recent crafting night with a friend. Also, some of the toner from the paper-printed pattern ended up on one of the light colored triangles in the middle. I know that someone in the Dear Jane group posted (recently?) about a good way to clean blocks-- was it Murphy's oil soap, or is that just crazy? Any ideas out there?
This is E-4: Buffalo Tree Hopper, also not a current block with the group. The inset seams didn't turn out so perfectly here, but I also forgot to do any clipping before I sewed them. I'll remember that next time. I love this fabric, and the opportunity to use some gray in this quilt. I don't know what it is, but I'm still really into gray at the moment.
And BR-1: Rosemary's Rainbow (finally!) one for really catching up. Fissiett commented over on flickr that this looked like Jane was making mushroom soup, and I guess it does! If I had paid attention and remembered that this triangle would be on the bottom of the quilt, it's possible that I would have turned the mushrooms up the other way. Maybe.

I hope everyone's having a great Tuesday! I'm pretty happy today because I'm getting a new stoop out front, and the days of our house being the mailman's least favorite may soon be over.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The fifth of July

Today was a quiet day at the farm, no explosions in the sky (even though the stands in town yelled, "HALF OFF TODAY!"). Today the beauty was in the details. On land:
And "at sea":

I would show you a photo of the 82 mosquito bites on my left calf, which bites were also a detail of my day, but I don't think they're a particularly beautiful detail! I hope everyone enjoyed a great fourth.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

K-11, H-1

K-11, Columbine, and
H-1, Peek-a-boo.
Two new Dear Jane blocks completed over the weekend. Both of these were foundation-piece-and-go! I'm not quite sure about the Joel Dewberry print in the second block, but I think it'll all blend in.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Up in the tree

Friday the thirteenth is probably not the best day to be climbing a ladder, but it's time to pick the sour cherries so up the ladder I went. The cherries are another beautiful thing about summer on the farm. The sour cherry tree seems tiny when you look at it from the ground, and indeed much of it was cut away last fall because it was rotting. But once you climb up between the limbs, there are cherries upon cherries. Too many to pick, and most of the reddest and juiciest ones too high for anyone but the birds to reach.

In fact, the birds squawked and fought while I picked, eager for me to go inside to the pitting machine so they could continue their feast. This pitcher represents about 25 minutes of picking, enough for two sour cherry pies. My grandmother thinks that this might be one of the last years for this tree, as cherry trees only live so long before they give out. I told her she'd better plant another tree right quick! The pies she makes from these cherries have been a part of my summer equation for almost as long as I can remember. Her recipe is simple (and probably originally came from the back of some long-ago box of tapioca), but oh-so-delicious with fruit you've picked yourself.

Granna's Sour Cherry Pie

  • 4 cups sour cherries
  • 2 2/3 Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons kirsch
  • Double pie crust
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons cold butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  • Mix cherries, tapioca, sugar and kirsch together in a large bowl. Let stand 15 minutes.
  • Pierce bottom pie crust and brush with beaten egg white. Bake for five minutes to set.
  • Pour cherry mixture into pie crust and dot with butter.
  • Affix top crust; vent.
Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees and then turn heat back to 350; bake 40 minutes more. This is a very juicy pie. It bakes best on a jelly roll pan covered in foil. For best results, let stand until almost room temperature before serving with vanilla ice cream. Yum!

K-8 Springbrook Park

Trying to catch up on the Dear Jane quilt-along. Here's my latest block, K-8 Springbrook Park. Just a nice foundation-pieced jaunt. I wish that I could find a better way to photograph these so that there wouldn't always be little cut-off corners and such. Oh, well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The berries are coming, the berries are coming! And finally, hay.

Blueberries. This is the third year that these bushes have been at the farm, and each year they make me so excited, even though the three bushes will probably only yield a couple of pints of berries that will all end up on my grandfather's morning cereal. They're just so stunning, and the few berries that will make it into my mouth will be warm from the sun and so sweet.
And raspberries. These bushes produce even fewer berries over the season, and most of these are eaten without a thought by the barn manager. In fact, I had to call my grandmother this afternoon to remind her to go and pick the ripe ones early in the morning tomorrow before the barn manager arrives. I ate one of these today (shh!), and its flavor was tart and bright.

There are also strawberry plants at the farm, left over from a long-gone strawberry pot (imagine!) that I planted five years ago. They spilled out of the pot and took up permanent residence on the south side of the little house. These have been producing ripe fruit for about a month, but they have to be harvested a little before they're ripe or the bunnies and other rodents take little nibbles out of the sides of each berry and the ants polish the wounded berries off. I did get a good-sized handful of very sweet berries earlier this week. The taste of summer.
And finally, we have hay! So exciting to see those big golden rolls dotting the landscape (and to ride on the green lawn-like fields they leave behind).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer strawberry apron

It's strawberry season! This photo doesn't really do it justice, but this is an apron that I made for my cousin Ellenor's bridal shower last weekend. It was an around the house shower, and I had bar and kitchen. This apron came out really fun and flirty with a lot of swing. I started out with the Sew Easy Reversible Apron pattern from Indygo Junction, but I didn't have quite enough fabric, and the instructions got a little fuzzy, so I mostly winged it. That wool felt strawberry pocket was a last-minute addition that I think really made the whole thing. I used the star embroidery on my sewing machine to make the little black seeds on the fruit. This is one time that I'm glad I traced my pattern (and pattern changes!) out on Pattern Ease, so I can make cute little cocktail aprons like this over and over.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bitty baby booties

Today it rained and rained. Thunder and lighting. We lost power for about three and a half hours this afternoon. We used to have a dog who was very very afraid of thunderstorms. She would hide and shake and wear herself out for the duration of the storm. Grady just looks at me in that stupid (but lovable) Labrador way, saying "what happened to the lights?" Then he goes back to sleep.

I took this dark photo of baby booties in the natural light between waves of the storm. I love to have these on hand at all times. Because they're so tiny, they can be tucked into a regular stationery envelope and sent off to friends around the country at a moment's notice when we hear that a baby has been born. It's also fun to use the ends of sock yarn. With the crazy hand-dyes, they come out so cheerful! More information on flickr.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The muumuu that ate Manhattan

So it's been several years since I've tried to sew any serious clothing for myself. I think I define "serious" in my head as "involving zippers and/or facings/linings". There have been improvised lounge pants and night chemises here and there, along with a couple Simplicity 3835 tops, but there has not been any serious sewing since that terrible Hawaiian print dress that I made in one night before beach week at Myrtle Beach senior year of college.

But with the hot weather coming up, and given the fact that I would gladly wear a simple little dress each and every humid day of the summer given the choice, I decided to break out the fusible interfacing and give it another go. This is my muslin of McCall's 5620, made from some just barely acceptable medium-weight apparel cotton from the sale bin at Hancock's. (I'm not a huge fan of flutter-bys...) But there's a reason I'm not letting you see all of it. I made my regular (read: shockingly large-- really, the pattern industry and the wedding gown people...) pattern size. However... this won't really be a "wearable muslin", as it turned out ginormous. As in, "Honey, does the Volvo need a cover against the elements?"-huge. Sure, I noticed that there was a ton of ease listed on the pattern envelope, but I guess I thought that the pleats would make up for that and make it hang okay. Wrong-o.

Maybe with some heavier fabric it would hang a little closer to the body or something, but as it is, I've made myself a fancy swimsuit cover-up with pretty purple facings. Sigh. If I ever get a bee in my bonnet to make this again, it'll be at least one, maybe two sizes smaller. I mean, even the arm hole openings are huge on this thing. And my seam allowances are near-perfect, I promise...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Baby Quilt 2 of 4: For a girl

So I guess I'm rolling right through the "popular" internet quilts right now, huh? This one is an hourglass quilt for the baby of a friend who's due in September. This quilt was made entirely from stashed materials, which feels pretty good. I used the measurements that AmandaJean gave over at crazymomquilts-- seven blocks by seven blocks, and it's finished at about 35 inches square. These quilts are pretty small, but I think they'll be good for wrapping up a little baby, don't you?
The quilting came much easier on this one (practice makes perfect, I guess), but I think the white Kona cotton must be a little stiffer than some of the other colors. The brown and orange and blue quilt came out of the dryer feeling much softer than this one did. Has anyone else had this experience with the white Kona cotton?
This is probably the best photo of the quilt. I just threw it out on top of the tall grass (yet to be made into hay) at the farm and snapped away. Summer certainly can grow up some good photo assistants!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

One Local Summer: Week 1

Eating local all summer? We're going to try. I've joined One Local Summer this year, after following along with others (mainly Jasmine at Knitting 40 Shades of Green, who lives near me, and Pocket Farmer Liz, who lives in a place where I'd love to live) for a couple of summers. In this challenge, we'll prepare one totally local meal each week.

This first week caught me a little off guard, as our CSA hasn't started up yet this year (next week!), so we headed over to the Arlington Farmer's Market yesterday to rustle up some local grub. The results were delicious, but a little mixed on the strictly local front. Let's just say I've found some holes in my pantry that are going to take a little more digging to fill. All distances below are from my door. Without further ado, we ate:

  • Sauteed chard from Wheatland Vegetable Farms (just up the road from my natal home!) in Wheatland, VA (37.95 miles)

  • A pesto-ish sauce made of garlic scapes from Wheatland Vegetable Farms (37.95 miles) and basil and parsley from the backyard (0 miles)

  • Baby lamb loin chops from EcoFriendly Foods, Inc. (Emerald Family Farms) in Moneta, VA (206 miles)

And for dessert:

Everything was really really yummy, so yummy that I can't pick a favorite element of the meal. But I think I may need to find another source for meat. The 206 miles to Moneta and EcoFriendly Foods is too far for the challenge-- I'm going to try to keep to the 100 mile radius rule if I can. I'll have to see if my cousin Sara has any beef left for by-the-cut orders, and I'll have to go to the Loudoun farmers' markets when I'm out that way to see what they have. That, or eat vegetarian for these meals, as we normally do anyway. This sure was a nice celebration meal to kick off the summer, though.

Local items that I need to pick up:

  • Cheese. I should have bought some at the farmers' market; there was much available. It would have made that pesto tastier.
  • Flour. Duh. (This is my family's business. Those of you who know me in real life are probably laughing pretty hard at me over this one...)

Items that I need to find a local source for:

  • Milk, cream and butter. Anyone have any leads on these? There may have been some at the Arlington market, but if so, I missed it. Earlier this year we found a local buying club for raw milk. I'm sure it's fine and delicious, but I'm not sure I'm ready to go that far yet. I'll stick with pasteurization for the time being.
  • Sugar. I don't know enough about this one, either.

I think that with those ingredients I'll be able to make some pretty spectacular things this summer. I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fresh bread in 5 minutes... or so

So the photo is a bit blurry as we made these during a thunder storm, but I'm a complete convert to Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois' Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I made a couple of basic boule loaves last week, with beautiful results. Crusty, cracking outsides and lovely steamy soft insides. But these caramel rolls were the real test of the versatility of the method. I mixed up a second batch of the basic boule recipe and then rolled it out into these beauties the next day. I know they'd be even better with the brioche dough, and that will definitely be the next recipe I try. You can tell how good these were by the blurry picture; they didn't last long enough for me to remember to get a better image!

Happy Anniversary to George and Karen, five years!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rainy day: Flowers inside

It's a bit rainy today, so I've taken photos of the lovely flowers that I've been able to bring inside this spring. Does anyone know what this is? It's rather woody, a little gangly, and was covered in those tiny hot pink buds for almost a month before the star-shaped lighter pink ones opened. The flowers are clustered almost like on a hydrangea. Here's a photo of what the whole plant looked like earlier in the spring. *ETA: Mountain laurel! (Maybe kalmia latifolia) Just stumbled across my own answer by accident today.
These are peonies from my grandmother's garden. The beautiful just-pink and yellow one on the left is called raspberry sundae. Isn't that beautiful? Our house is kind of small and not so well-lit, so the counter top beside the sink is the best place to display fleurs. There, I see them often.

Also, Happy Anniversary to my cousin Krista and her husband Brad!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Baby Quilt 1: For a boy

Several of my friends will be first-time mothers this August and September, so I'm trying to get a jump on baby crafting. This quilt will be for the baby boy of a friend who doesn't read this blog too often, so I think it will still be a surprise.
This quilt was inspired heavily by one that Rebekah at don't call me becky dot com made last month. She used charm squares from Moda's Summer in the City line. I really liked the idea of a quilt for a boy with oranges and blues and this brown. Hers is probably a little more baby-friendly, with its more muted colors, but I really love how this one came out. All the oranges and blues came from my stash.
This quilt is my first meandering machine-quilted finished product. It measures about 36 inches square. I can't wait to start on the two quilts for baby girls! For some reason I think those will be harder than this one. I'm not a very girly girl, but I do want to put some pinks and purples in those quilts-- maybe with spring greens and gray?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Coyote and the Tall Grass Buffet*

We've been watching for coyotes for several weeks now, ever since a rainy ride with my mom was cut short by a mama coyote barking and howling and following us down the mountain. Then last week as I was leaving, a huge specimen cut across the driveway right in front of me all catch-me-if-you-can. This isn't my photo (in fact it's a photo of a coyote in California), but this is how they look when they're slinking around, bouncy with little shocks in their feet. Taller than the dog, and faster. I'm not sure what they would do to me and the horse, but I know what they'd try to do to the dog, so I'm trying to stay clear.

The grass at the farm is very high now, so high that the pup is lost in a field, only visible as that rustling up ahead. Coyotes can get lost in this grass, too, invisible until you spot them and can't look away. Yesterday I rode alone in the only field where cows aren't allowed. We call it the hay field for obvious reasons. Josh and I made a little river in the grass-scape, parting the stalks, and Grady wove a smaller creek beside and around us. Josh loves this season, of the grass buffet, when he can bend over every few strides and strip the grasses of their crunchy heads in the middle of his workout. My friend Gillian always says it would be like walking into a field of french fries, growing wild. Taking all that pollen head on, the dog kept sneezing and scaring the horse, but we were making our way.

In the far corner of the field I saw something soft and brown rustle and stand up stock-still, looking our way. The whole ride I was thinking "coyote, coyote, coyote?" in time with my posting trot, but no, this was a fresh baby deer (what we call a "Bambi"), looking at us with huge ears and wet eyes. No bigger than a coyote. In a moment the deer turned and leap, leap, leapt over the coop at the end of the field and into the next one (the "hill field"), trailing her white tail behind her.

I think all three of us smiled. Grady ran and Joshua picked up on the dog's energy and I let him go, a steady gallop around the end and down the other long side of the field. Happy. Not a coyote but a baby deer.

On the walk back to the barn I saw my first red-winged blackbird of the year. And those are the two crystalline moments from yesterday. Today it's raining, but I hope to get outside this afternoon. I also promise there'll be some crafty content soon!

*Is it just me or does that title sound like it should be a Tony Hillerman novel? Hi, Mom.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What do May showers bring?

This was the scene at the farm yesterday, all bluster and wet.
Down by the water, all of the docks were submerged, along with these plants that are usually at least four feet up the bank. Of course the dog went swimming anyway.
The bottomland behind the house flooded, too. The cows moved upland. And finally, some Mother's Day pillowcases that I sent to my mom via my dad, who was up visiting for the weekend. There's lots of time to sew with so much rain outside. These are made from the softest off-white cotton with tiny red randomly-scattered dots. I got the fabric from superbuzzy sometime late last year. The edging was machine-executed but hand-guided (ie: my machine doesn't do scallops so there was a lot of needle-down fabric turning).

We're spending today drying out and warming up. It'll be 70 degrees here this afternoon. That feels more like May!