Marsha

Photography update

The new Photo 365 project started on 1 August, and this time there are four participants: Heidi, Jean, Deborah, and me. I’m less than thrilled with the latest iteration of Flickr’s iOS app (which I use for most of my uploading), so I’m not always up to date with my posting.

Here are the most recent twenty-five photos I’ve added to the group:

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Last August 1, my friend Heidi and I started a Photo 365 project together. Every day, we each post a photo to our Flickr group. My photos are here,* and Heidi’s pictures are here.

We’ve both missed occasional days here and there, but for the most part we’ve been pretty successful at charting our year in photos. We’ve enjoyed the experience so much that we’ve decided to start another Photo 365 project together when this one winds up at the end of July, and we’re happy to have any interested friends join us.

There are no set themes—we photograph whatever we like. Some photos just document everyday events; others are more composed shots. Occasionally we comment on each other’s pictures, but there’s not a whole lot of chatting going on, so the “active interaction” component is not demanding at all. Mostly we find this project useful as (1) a nudge to take at least one photo each day, and (2) an opportunity to share photos within a small community.

If you’re interested in participating in this project, let me know! The new Photo 365 starts on August 1!

*(As you can see, I’m a bit behind in updating my photostream. I’m busy with work deadlines at the moment, but I’m hopeful that I’ll have time to bring my current photo project up to date before starting a new one!)

Marsha

The answer

Here’s the answer to the mystery posed in my last two posts (1, 2):

Sylvia had a friend over, and the two of them decided to play “spies” with these big boxes. They cut eyeholes so they could see out, then positioned themselves on the sidewalk in front of my house. Whenever a car drove by, they’d “stalk” the car by jumping up and running after it.

I’m sure my neighbors now think we are nuts.

 

 

Marsha

Here’s another view

 

 

(Click on the image.)
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Marsha

Garden update

So far, this year’s garden is doing quite well, even though it was started nearly a month late. We had a delay because Jan rebuilt our four raised beds, which are now 8″ high (instead of 4″) high and contain strategically placed vertical PVC tubes that let us add trellises, hoops, and other PVC structures wherever we like. The rebuilding and having to wait for our garden soil to be delivered (the supplier had a delay because of the extremely wet spring) meant that seeds for my peas, lettuces, and other cold-weather-loving plants didn’t go into the ground on March 17 as they’re supposed to.

But in spite of the late start—and thanks to a pretty cool summer so far—we’ve been enjoying plenty of home-grown produce! In bed #1, the peas and lettuces are nearly spent, but the mizuna, lovage (a perennial), parsley, and pole beans are going strong. This year I set up the bean teepees directly over the lettuce, figuring that (1) lettuce doesn’t mind shade, and (2) by the time the beans started the dominate the space, the lettuces would be ready to come out anyway. I’m pleased to report that this has all turned out according to plan!

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Bed #2 has Swiss chard, carrots (two kinds), basil, cilantro.

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Bed #3 has tatsoi, beets, cherry tomatoes, and basil.

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And bed #4 has cucumbers (slicers and picklers), pattypan squash, basil, cosmos, sunflowers, and zinnias.

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Marsha

Handwriting

I’m glad to see that science is backing up the need to continue teaching handwriting in schools. Happily, my daughter is learning it in school—our district hasn’t yet joined the ranks of those who are ditching handwriting from the curriculum (though I think she may not get more than the bare bones version of this instruction). I know that keyboarding skills are vital these days, but I’m sorry to see handwriting disappear from our schools and much of our daily lives. The two fulfill such different roles that one isn’t a substitute for the other.

I can type pretty quickly and accurately (except on a mobile device, when I become the World’s Worst Thumb Typist), and for my work I spend a lot of time hunched over a keyboard. But when I want to write something thoughtful and really connect with a far-off friend, I will almost always put pen to paper and write something by hand. The deliberateness of the action, the tangibility of the tools—I value their ability to make me pause and slow down.

Marsha

Pottery

Last June I wrote about participating in a wood-kiln firing at the clay studio where I’ve been doing pottery for the past few years. I haven’t done a wood firing since then, but I have been experimenting more with surface treatments for cone 6 firings a regular electric kiln.

Here’s a recent effort that I really like:

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I drew the cheetah freehand onto greenware (brown stoneware), carved in the design, then applied yellow and black slip. After the bisque firing, I painted clear glaze over the cheetah, covered the cheetah with aftosa wax, then dipped the whole thing in Dragon Green glaze. (The wax prevents the Dragon Green from covering the cheetah, and it burns off during the glaze firing.)

I love how this turned out! It is my new favorite mug. I have plans to do a lot more experimentation with this decorative technique!

Marsha

Lucky

No, not this one.

This one:

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Sylvia has inherited her dad’s superpower: they’re both really, really good at finding four-leaf clovers!

 

 

 

Marsha

Knitting for Sylvia

I originally started this blog as a place to talk about knitting. My very first post (from September 2005!) was about knitting for Sylvia, so it seems right to return to that topic.

I knit a February Lady Sweater for myself three years ago, and at the time I mentioned that one for Sylvia was next on my to-knit list. I didn’t have appropriate yarn on hand, though, and she wasn’t clamoring for the sweater, so I put it on the back burner until last fall. Sylvia and I chose yarn together: she’s not a fan of wool, so we settled on KnitPicks Shine Sport in a bright green.

Before I could start that sweater, though, I had to finish the “rainbow cardigan” I started for her last August. I based this pattern on the top-down raglan in Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges.

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I love how this sweater turned out, though I am not a fan of the Mary Maxim sock yarn I used for it. (I’m pretty sure it’s the splittiest yarn I’ve ever encountered!) But Sylvia loves it, so dealing with annoying fiber was worth the effort.

With the rainbow cardigan done, I was able to start her February Lady Sweater in January. Basically, I just took the regular pattern and knit the second-smallest size in sportweight, keeping all the stitch numbers the same. The result has plenty of growing room, so Sylvia should be able to wear it for a couple years (I hope!).

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The body came together in a breeze, but the sleeves took forever to finish. That’s because I had to use DPNs for them (my 9″ circular doesn’t have sharp enough tips for this yarn), so I spent a lot of time and effort on yarn and needle management.

When I was finished, I raided my button box and laid out all the threesomes I had on hand. For fun, I also put out set with one red, one orange, and one yellow button. (They have slightly different textures, but they are the same diameter and all have four holes.) Of course Sylvia beelined for the colorful trio! They are definitely the best choice for this sweater!

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