sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

August 8, 2014

surprise, carside, and homemade
posted by soe 3:41 am

Three beautiful things from the past week:

1. Jason and his family make an unannounced trip to D.C. It’s been several years since I’ve seen Jason — and at least half their lifetimes since I’ve seen his daughters.

2. I’ve often found that with dear friends, the best parts of the conversations happen just before driving off. Amani and I trade book recommendations on the sidewalk as Marcus waits bemusedly.

3. Coworker Sarah makes a peach cake and brings it in to share. A slice is waiting for me on my desk when I walk in.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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August 7, 2014

yarning along: early-august edition
posted by soe 3:35 am

Wednesdays are for sharing books and knitting projects as I yarn along with Ginny.

As part of my August goals and for a competition in one of the Ravelry groups I belong to, I’m working on finishing up some socks-in-progress. I began the first sock of this pair last summer while watching The Avengers at Canal Park, worked on it as a take-along at events where I wanted easy, focus-free knitting (like concerts and ballgames and the like), and bound off at a showing of Lover Come Back (Rock Hudson and Doris Day play ad execs and hijinks ensue) down on the Mall in July. Sock #2 was cast on at the ballpark last night. I’ve got some bus time coming up soon, so I’m hoping these will be a good project for that when I’m not sleeping (and sometimes even when I am, as Rudi will attest).

yarning along: early-august edition

I just finished a book last night, so I’m mulling over something new to read. I’m 29 pages into The Last Days of California, a coming-of-age story about a teen girl traveling with her family to the West Coast in time for the day their cult predicts will be the end of the world, and haven’t made up my mind yet. The other two are baseball stories: George Will’s is about growing up a Cubs fan. I’m not especially a fan of his (or his politics), but we used to see him and Tim Russert at games when the Nats played at RFK periodically and baseball is a force that unites even the most polar opposite of folks, so I thought I’d give it a shot after seeing him talk about on CBS Sunday Morning. And the other book is a mystery/detective story about a minor league player who starts investigating things for his fellow teammates. It sounded like it might have potential. I have some other books, should none of those stick, but these seemed like the most likely next candidates.

What are you reading and knitting these days?

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August 6, 2014

posted by soe 3:09 am

Tomatoes and four peppers from the garden:

Tomatoes and Four Peppers from the Garden

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August 5, 2014

posted by soe 3:35 am

I’m messy. This comes as a surprise to no one who knows me. A friend’s tween once described our apartment in Middletown as “touching heaven,” filled with a broad array of stuff. Periodically I get fed up with the clutter and the swath of paper threatening to take me down and I go on a recycling/tidying binge, but mostly I’m okay with piles and have a good idea of where in the morass things are.

Except I sometimes like to pretend that I’m not messy. I admit that usually when company comes, large piles of stuff end up in our bedroom, and not just the things like the bathroom towel rack that needs to come off the door if you want it to close properly, which some people want it to do. I spend hours frantically cleaning and throwing things away and running around frazzled before company comes, trying to get a handle on the mess.

It’s never totally successful, but I’ve always assumed it mattered to my guests.

But I’ve realized, now that friends are busy with their lives and spread across the country, that I care way less about what my home looks like and how and with whom time in it is spent. My mother-in-law stopped letting people into her home 20 years ago because she was ashamed of how its cleanliness had gotten away from her as she’d aged. And I just think how sad that must be to want to see friends and to fear that they’d think less of you because of your stuff.

I deliberately asked an old friend and his family back to the Burrow this evening, even though it wasn’t clean for company and even though I knew I hadn’t emptied the cat boxes before leaving for work, but that I had folded our laundry, leaving piles of underwear in the living room to await our return. We’d been having a good time and I’d made excuses on his previous visits and we’ve known each other more than two decades now and he’s seen my college dorm rooms, for god’s sake, even if his family hadn’t.

So they came back and the world didn’t explode and we just moved the piles of laundry and cleared off chairs and entertained them with our cats. Maybe they cared about the mess. Maybe they didn’t. I refuse to consider the matter further. I’m just so glad to have spent time with them at home.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still going to clean the toilet and the bathroom sink and empty the cat boxes before you come over (as long as I know you’re coming ahead of time, anyway). And I expect parties will still send me into a tizzy for days before. But maybe I’ll just say, “The house is a mess, but I don’t care if you don’t. Come anyway if you like,” and mean it. Because I have faith that we are friends and that you also believe a home is made by the people in it.

Sharing with Amanda’s August prompts.

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August 4, 2014

early august weekending
posted by soe 1:25 am

This weekend there was:

  • Blocking the latest knitting project on the office floor over the weekend. (No doors to keep out cats means all blocking over a certain size gets done at work.)
  • Friday evening at The Yards with friends means eating a salad while lying on the ground listening to covers of pop music (from the last 30 years) and watching pink clouds.
  • Making it back across town in time for cocoa outside at a coffeehouse.
  • Rising early (for me) for a garden work day. We filled water barrels and weeded the pathways and then I harvested a few things.
  • Stopping at the store and finding nearly no line.
  • A yogurt parfait with lots of berries from my fridge.
  • A surprise text from an old friend saying he and his family were on their way to town and was I free to meet up with them in an hour?
  • Seeing Jason, his wife, Essia, and their daughters, who are going into 6th and 8th grade (I remember when they were babies!!) in the fall. Catching up on their lives for a few hours. Parting with the hopes of a follow-up visit later in the week.
  • Discovering a comic book store had moved into the neighborhood and making a few purchases.
  • Chatting with my family.
  • Going to a midnight showing of the ’80s classic, Labyrinth.
  • Sleeping in the middle of the bed, surrounded by cats, while Rudi was out of town.
  • A farmers market stroll.
  • A swim with Rudi after he returned home.
  • Laundry. Clean socks and underwear!
  • Sitting out at the local coffeeshop as the sun broke through the clouds.
  • Pulling up the episode of Endeavour we missed the day before it disappeared from PBS’ website.
  • A thunderstorm.
  • Finishing a book.

How about you? How was your weekend?

Weekending along with Pumpkin Sunrise.

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August 3, 2014

garden report: early august
posted by soe 2:03 am

I spent several hours at the garden this morning weeding the pathways and filling water barrels, so I thought I’d share thoughts about how the plot is going this summer.

Moving my herbs to the back of the plot was my best garden idea ever. We’d moved some herbs to that otherwise wasted, shady space last year, but my gigantic rosemary, the inherited sage plant, and two other larger, spreading herbs were still taking up valuable space in the main section of the plot. When the winter reduced the rosemary to kindling and killed back much of the sage, I took that as a sign it was time to make a move. The herbs are thriving back there. In addition to the sage and a new, smaller rosemary, I’ve also got a bay, lemon verbena, mint, thyme, savory, and oregano. My cilantro and dill have gone to seed already, so I’m hoping to get a second half of the season out of them. The only herbs I wish I’d planted, but didn’t are tarragon and lemon grass.

In addition to the herbs, the back section of the garden also houses a thus-far flowerless volunteer tomato, garlic, leeks, and what I’m pretty sure are shallots (I can’t quite recall and I’m too lazy to go check the garden bag for the packets). Oh, and a nest of ground wasps who moved into an abandoned vole/field mouse hole.

Potato Patch and Herb Garden

The side section of the garden is where most of my violets grow in the spring and where my strawberry plants are. The back of it (next to the herbs) is my potato patch, which are thriving. I’ve got regular potatoes and at least one sweet potato, since I noticed the lengthening vine this morning. I chucked all my seed potatoes and then anything that didn’t get cooked before it started growing over the winter. Because I don’t want to disturb their growth, I admit I don’t usually do a mid-season harvest, but I’m a little curious what would happen if I stuck a spade in there in the next week or two…

Two weeks ago, when Rudi and I were last down filling water barrels and killing time, he dug up some of the strawberries and violets and weeds to give me a little extra space between the two crops. I’d already put a purple bean in and wanted to add a few more beans to the mix. We also wanted to get some onion bulbs in the ground we’d forgotten about before they died. The beans are now about six inches tall and the onions are two.

I also have a tomato plant at the front of that section, since it gets some of the best light. I’ve harvested a couple tomatoes off it thus far, including one that was a crucial part of tonight’s vBLT dinner.

The Side and Main Sections of Our Garden

Speaking of tomatoes, in the main section of my garden I have five plants. Four are bearing fruit, and the fifth is blooming. I also have five pepper plants and four types of basil on six plants (they need more sun than the herb garden can offer). We harvest basil every weekend for our Sunday night Capreses, to which we can now start adding our tomatoes.

In the main section (the soil of which I supplemented and put a lot of work into after I dug out the herbs), we have spinach that grew this spring from seeds I planted too late last fall, a single chard plant that is a volunteer, and a humungous cabbage that I think Rudi doesn’t quite know what to do with, so it’s still in the plot. I also have a single broccoli, that doesn’t seem to have grown since I bought the seedling in May.

I got my peas in too late and only got three pods out of what I planted, which was a shame but unexpected. I also had thee lettuce plants that finally shot up and went to seed and a handful of pak choi that went to seed right after I planted the six pack of seedlings I bought. I dumped all the seeds from all those greens back into the front patch of the garden and added some other lettuce-type seeds two weekends ago. I’m hoping something comes of some of it. The only thing I wish I’d planted in that section of the garden are tomatillos. I’m not sure how they got left off my seedling list this year.

And that’s it. Except for the ground wasps, I’m pretty happy with what’s going on in my garden.

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