The Saturday Update: Week 41, 2021

Last week brought us some rain and cold weather. Seriously, it got so cold that I had to bring the potted plants into the garage to protect them from a overnight hard freeze. Most of the leaves on the maple tree are already down, but the tree finally got with the program and produced some bright red leaves.

Now, this is what I’ve been looking forward to!

Sadly, it is now too cold and windy for me to sit outside to admire that color in the yard, but every glance out a window makes me happy.

Knitting

The second Snark-O-Meter is finally off the needles. I still haven’t woven in the ends or blocked it, but look at all the great color interactions and stitch patterns in the shawl!

The patterns in the shawl really show off my yarns. I’m so glad that I jumped in and knit a second shawl. Sharon, Sharon, I want a little gold star for this!! (Who’s Sharon? That would be Sharon from Security, Casapinka’s snarky employee who developed this pattern. I’m pretty sure she won’t give me a gold star for finishing my shawl unless I send her some quality sushi first…)

Garden

I’m moving outdoor plants into the house to rebuild the indoor garden for the winter. I really kind of like doing this, but the cats are really happy to see plants come indoors. Mateo is absolutely torturing the large palm plant that was on my porch all summer; wait until he sees the geraniums!! I’m letting the geraniums get a little more outdoor sunshine but some others like the jade plants and the bougainvillea needed to come in now.

The cats are admiring the jade plants from afar…
and that goes double for the bougainvillea that is handing high over their heads in the kitchen!

I may have to rethink the bougainvillea as all of those blooms will be dropping off at some point and landing in my sink, but they make me happy so I’m going to see how it goes. Several of the year-round indoor plants are looking really nice right now so I’ve moved them into the kitchen to join the cheerful color of that bougainvillea. The best of the bunch is my oldest African violet.

Isn’t it looking nice?

Next week I will be focusing on getting most of the potted perennials into the ground outside and moving in more of the ones that can over-winter in the house like the geraniums. I suspect that there may be some leaf raking going on, too.

Books

Since I was spending so much time with plants this week I jumped into this book that I got from the library last month.

Years ago I went to a dinner at my boss’ house in Denver in an older part of town. Okay, this was a pretty swanky house compared to my own. There were back staircases for the servants, a library, breakfast and dining rooms, and a kitchen that was almost as big a my whole apartment at the time. Since this was a summer evening they held the affair outside in their gardens.

Gardens. Right. There were four different yards/gardens on this property. Rather than a large plot of grass with some nice trees and maybe a sad attempt at a veggie garden or a gold fish pond, this property was divided into discrete garden rooms with brick walls dividing them. Each area was planted differently to serve a different purpose and held tables and benches for people in each one. Okay, one actually had a pergola in it. It was cool.

That gardening concept is what this book was about. An old formal house with a series of unique connected gardens that are being restored to their original plantings by a talented gardening specialist. The books entwines the stories of three different generations of women with significant involvement in the history of the house and gardens with some clever parallel events to make it all hang together. It was a quick read, I learned a lot of new things about gardening, and I liked it.

That’s it. Have a great week everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 39 and 40, 2021

The days are still warm, dry and sunny, but the nights are finally getting a little cooler. I spend my afternoons in the swinging garden chair on the deck, reading and knitting in the strange silence that has now descended on the garden: no more crickets, cicadas, migrating geese, or even the pit bull next door. All are now gone, and the only sounds I hear are the squirrels racing through the trees and the occasional drifting fall of leaves. The maple tree out back, usually a blaze of red color by now, is slowly turning a golden brown with a few flashes of red. Seriously? This is how you are going to finish up the year? Figures.

This is as good as it is going to get this year I guess.

The ground is covered with dead leaves as these sorry examples of autumn glory drift off the tree. We never had a freeze, and I think that these brown leaves coming down are the result.

The baby bunny of the summer has found a mate.

Over the last weekend I noticed lots of digging in the yard from the bunny, and then one night the flood lights revealed that there were two bunnies in my yard! My little guy was not all alone any more! Now my bunny, all grown up, is gone.

Next week we will finally get colder weather and perhaps some rain. There will be snow in our mountains and all of my leaves will be gone off the tree.

Summer, truly, is finally over.

Knitting

I finished the second Rock It Tee this week!

Can you see how I blended the three skeins of yarn from light to dark as I alternated them through the sweater? The lightest is at the top.

I am now down to only one knitting project left, the second Snark-O-Meter that I am rapidly finishing off with lots of cat help.

I finished up clue 4 last night and will start clue 5 today. This baby should be done in just a few more days of knitting.

Yesterday I cleaned out my little project bags, sorted yarn in the stash, and organized myself for a prolonged sweater knitting campaign. I’m tempted to start the Stephen West MKAL (Shawlography), but as I sorted I realized that I had the yarn to make several sweaters all stocked up and waiting to go. It isn’t all that cold yet, but eventually sweater weather will get here and it is time for me to switch over to sweaters and to start working my way through the stash again.

I also, through great serendipity, located a community knitting group last week that makes hats for patients going through chemo at the infusion center where I used to go to my (old, kicked to the curb) rheumatologist’s office. I know that center, located between oncology and rheumatology, as I used to sit in that waiting room every rheumatologist appointment. Why is the infusion center next to rheumatology? Because, little known fact, many rheumatology patients (along with other people struggling with autoimmune disease), receive chemo and infusions of biologic drugs. I know, only too well, what a struggle it is to control Reynaud’s Phenomenon while hooked up to an IV in air conditioning. I’m joining the knitting group and will be knitting as many little fingerless mitts and arm warmers as I can for drop off to the center along with the chemo hats.

There. Knitting plans for the rest of the year all worked out. 🙂

Garden

This is ridiculous, but all of my mental energy is focused on planting all the potted plants into the gardens (Where should I put them? This is a big decision.) and making an indoor home for the jade plants that have been outdoors all summer.

This plant tripled in size over the summer. I moved it to this large pot, but now it is… large.

I recently discovered that jade plants are poisonous for cats. Oh, no. I have had jade plants in the house for years with my cats, and never had an issue, but now that I know I’m worried about a cat/plant interaction. I have an indoor garden shelf system established to keep the plants indoors over the winter, but this pot won’t fit now. I’ve decided to use chicken wire to keep the cats away from the shelf with the smaller jades, but this one plant is going to be challenging. Ugh. I can move shelves to create more space, or I can build a cage to put over the plant, or… these are the days when I miss the greenhouse I had in my biology classroom.

Books

This is an amazing book!!

I loved, loved, loved All the Light We Cannot See, so when I saw this book was coming out I preordered it right away. When it dropped into my Kindle library I forced myself to take a break from The Murderbot Diaries to read this. Holy, Moly! Best decision ever. Cloud Cuckoo Land is a book to read and savor.

So you probably have already guessed that I am really enjoying this book. It is the tale of a ridiculous comedy written by an ancient Greek author that is preserved over time and that connects people separated by centuries who are caught up in the jaws of history. Sounds improbable when I write it down, but this works and it is really good! I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but the story moves right along at a perfect pace, going back and forth between the characters and the Greek tale in a way that links them together and brings meaning to their lives and the Greek comedy in an unforeseen manner that eerily connects to my life also. Owls are a recurring element of the stories in the book: as I read in the night it is to the sound of booming “who-who’s” from the Great Horned owls in my neighborhood. (Bunnies: make good choices tonight!!) I read on in this book that is essentially about the power and of legacy of books as I consider which of my books to leave in one of the community Little Free Libraries next week. The power of books, the legacy of lives, the preservation of who we are: a big message contained in a book that immerses you in a powerful story.

Have a good week, everyone.

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

Mateo the CoalBear: and hug a cat!

Hannah and the CoalBear: The Snark-O-Meter is done!

Hi. I’m Hannah.

Do you see how big my kitten has gotten? He’s hard to share a platform on the cat tree with now because of that… tail! His tail is absolutely out of control.

The kitten and I have been helping the Mother of Cats knit her latest shawl for weeks now. It has been lots of hard work, especially since the kitten forgets to behave himself and starts carrying off the balls of yarn. I have talked to him about this, but he is just too crazy wild to really settle down. The proper etiquette is to sit on top of the knitting, purr like crazy, and to snag any moving yarn in your claws when you can… If the Mother of Cats accidently leaves the knitting downstairs you can drag it up the stairs to return to her, but not the balls of yarn. Especially if you forget what you are doing and leave the yarn balls in some strange place. Sigh. It is so hard to raise a kitten.

Umm… that’s because I’m a little CoalBear.

Anyway, the shawl is called the Snark-O-Meter and it is designed by another cat!!! This cat, Sharon from Security, is the employee of Casapinka and seems to be a little tiny bit hard to work with. She is always complaining and dealing with the misbehavior of her fellow employees and never has enough sushi. Also she keeps losing her squad car… and her subordinate Finn (who has a shady background and multiple passports) is also gone. You wouldn’t believe how she talks to the knitters, too! Talk about snark!!

Oh. I guess that is why it is called the Snark-O-Meter.

The Mother of Cats finished the Snark-O-Meter this week and left me alone with the kitten to go buy some blocking mats and more pins to use. Oh, my goodness, the blocking mats are the most fun ever!! The kitten and I were so excited to see them. The kitten chewed as many corners as he could get his little chompers onto while I rolled around and did a little cat yoga.

Aren’t these the best cat yoga mats ever?

Then the Mother of Cats and we got serious and worked on blocking the shawl. She had made a little test sample to make sure the colors wouldn’t run when wet and tried to lay it out on the mat.

Tried. Yep. The minute the kitten saw the loose strings of that sample he began swapping at them. Then I grabbed the sample to groom it a little… did I mention that I just love wet yarn? Besides, it needs to get smoothed down and dried a little… The Mother of Cats tried to pin it and the kitten pulled out the pins to drag off and play with. The Mother of Cats decided that the yarns weren’t going to run (this is true… I never saw them move at all) and put the sample away in a cupboard. That was okay, because then she started putting the shawl out on the cat yoga mats.

Helping with the shawl. I’m such a good girl!! I only groomed the shawl a little bit while the Mother of Cats was laying it out.

The Mother of Cats didn’t like how saggy the yarns in the sample were when wet so she decided to spray the shawl really well with water and then lightly steam it. This was not funny!!! She put in some pins, sprayed water everywhere, and then put in even more pins all around the shawl. Then she hovered the steam iron all around the shawl to make the lace look nice.

I moved to a safe place and the kitten played with his toys on the floor while all this was going on!
Doesn’t it look nice now?

Then the Mother of Cats layered towels on top of the wet shawl and sprinkled some yoga mats on top of that so we wouldn’t sleep on top of the shawl. I slept on top of everything anyway. Did I mention that I love the smell of wet wool?

The next day the Mother of Cats took all the mats and towels off the shawl and the kitten and I helped her take all of the pins off and the mats apart. You would not believe how fast the kitten can pull out the pins to take away as toys. Sigh. I’m going to have a little talk with him again. I do have to say that the little corners of the mats are fun to chew on, though. The kitten is a lot of work, but he is fun too and sometimes has some really good ideas.

Last night the Mother of Cats took the shawl over to her son’s for a visit and the kitten and I got to chase each other around like crazy all night. The shawl looked really nice as she packed it up to take to the car. Of course. This was a cat written and cat produced knitted item of beauty.

My work here is done. Except for the kitten. He’s still work…

Note from the Mother of Cats:

The kitten Mateo is growing at an alarming clip and is now filling out and growing a longer coat than I expected. He is a really good natured little guy and makes little chirping noises as he runs around the house, and of course he is a great playmate for Hannah. He is now 6 months old and will certainly be a bigger cat than Hannah.

Don’t you think he looks a little like a bear?

Here is the finished shawl modeled by one of my son’s cats.

Jonesy and the Snark-O-Meter.

I have another one of these shawls to finish up. The cats can’t wait for me to pull it out and get going again because blocking the last one was so much fun!!!