And the Beat Goes On

Right, here's another one for the two people out there who haven't seen this yet. If you haven't you must, because it's sweet. (And not a traditional, saccharine sweet either.)


So today we had a visitor in our office, and luckily I had my handy camera with me! (I actually had my camera with me so that I could take a photo of the tree outside my office because I intended to document its progress through the seasons, but have thus far only taken two photos. Oh, well.)

Excuse me, could I get some directions?

The amazing thing is that not only is there is a railing to the left of the photo, but there is also a long (covered) walk and a left hand turn to get to this point. No idea where she came from or how she got there, but peacocks aren't exactly native, or even established, in northern California (though they are some other places). We assumed it was a she, she was pretty big to be a juvenile male. As big as the wild turkeys we have all over the place here (amazing number of turkeys). She seemed confused, but not overly agitated (possibly distracted by her reflection in the glass). No caterwauling on her part, but I wonder if it's the only males who are so obnoxious? She was out there for a good 2 hours towards the end of the day, while people and animals both (we are a dog-friendly office) came and went. Taking bets if she will still be there in the morning, or if the lack of a shiny reflection once the sun goes down will break the spell.

Since I had my camera in my pocket on my drive home, I couldn't resist taking this shot:

I thought Valero was supposed to be the cheap gas...

There has been knitting, and I did take photos of the TD, but am still hemming and hawing as to what to do. Plus I need to seriously doctor those photos so that I do not look like such the total dork that I am. So in the meantime, take a page from Lily and just chill:

Yeah, this cat leads such a stressful life.


Il Giorno Secondo

First, to all the folks in the beleaguered midwest and east, I apologize in advance.


SPRING IS HERE!! Mid- to upper- 60s all weekend and sun, sun, sun! 

Second, I made the right choice, right?




Benvenuto, Primavera

Week 1:

I am so impressed with her footwork, her frame, her connection... she made it look easy, and really, people, it's not. We will see what happens next week! (Oh, and yes, love Michael Buble.)  :) (But, I must say, what is the deal with changing the rules every single season, huh? Riddle me that.)


The first, but not the last...

There is some TD drama, but I'm pushing that aside until tomorrow  (when maybe, possibly, I can get home before dark). Meantime, I cooked twice in the last 2 days!


Granted, not the best photo ever, but it is Cooking Light's Pumpkin-Black Bean Soup. You see, I had a can of pumpkin puree, left over from Thanksgiving/Christmas-time, and dried black beans I bought last time I was at Berkeley Bowl, so there you have it. Not as weird as you might think, and not as pumpkin-y. Of course, you know I modified the recipe to use what I had on hand: I ended up using about a cup of tomato liquid (from the canned tomatoes) because I didn't have enough broth base (and that was veggie anyway), so it ended up tasting rather like chili. Not that that's a bad thing; I love chili! I also used feta instead of queso fresco, and no green onions, because, you guessed it, I didn't have any! No sherry either (which might have given it a boost). All in all perfectly acceptable. I might be willing to try it again as written.

Tonight I made Pastitsio, another odd combination of ingredients. This is not a recipe I would recommend if you plan on, I don't know, live past your 60s. There is a whole lot of butter in there. And eggs. And milk. And oil. It is not for the faint-hearted, either. There is a roux (or a roux-like thing - I know enough to be a danger to myself) that is not to be screwed around with. Mess up the roux and you end up eating what tastes like flour. (I did not mess up the roux, I am happy to say. I do think, however, that by 1/2 cup flour they actually meant A QUARTER CUP. Something. My sauce ended up as thick as frosting, which I think is not quite the point, and I had to thin it with water so that it would actually retain some liquid properties.  However, I did not scramble the eggs.) You end up with this faintly cinnamon-y smelling casserole that reminded me somewhat of one of my family's stock dinners, Italian Beef and Noodles. (Except that was more cheddar cheese based. And with egg noodles. And beef. Never mind, it is nothing like that.) It was kind of odd. But the topping (the sauce)? OMG heaven. It is light and creamy, like souffle kind of, which makes sense given that it is largely butter and egg yokes. I have about 5 more servings, and I wonder if I will be able to eat it without having a heart attack.

And speaking of yokes:

Behold, the most beautiful egg yokes you have ever seen.

Look at how they stand up on their own! No trickery involved - those are fresh yokes, straight from the shell. And the color was divine (a bit darker than this photo, but very brilliant). The whites were too, but did not photograph well. To the organic nay-sayers, I have never ever seen such perfect conventional eggs. 

Finally, before you continue, it would be best to swallow and put down any liquids. As we learned last week, Mary is fond of going inside things. She is especially fond of burrowing into laundary fresh out of the dryer. Which, of course, led to this:


Yes, she found my jeans, warm from the dryer, on the bed and proceeded to crawl in then from the waist end, and promptly got stuck halfway down the leg. I cannot express how extremely funny this actually was. The piteous crying might have helped. I ended up having to stand on the end of the leg and pulling her out backwards, and she is not overly fond of doing anything backwards, all the while trying not to drop her because I was laughing so hard. It was so funny. Ah well, perhaps you had to be there. :)


Almost... There...

No music today because I am determined to get to bed at a godly hour (instead of an ungodly hour as usual, get it?). Just hum yourself a little tune while you read. Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy. Stuck in your head yet? Glad to be of service.

Exciting times! Yesterday I finished seaming TD:

Happiness is a perfectly seamed sleeve.

Yes, that is indeed the seam side of the sleeve - you can tell by the slight lumpiness of the stockinette (it is fairly thick yarn so the seam inside is somewhat bulky). Look how the ribbing part and stockinette part line up perfectly! This made me so happy - the other sleeve does not look nearly as good.  

Then TD got a little bath... is it just me or does the Eco + wool smell really bad when wet? Like..... wet wool. Anyway, it is not a nice smell. Luckily it only smells when wet (which limits my wearing options, but let's cross that bridge when we get to it, ok?) I laid it out on the bed in the guest room yesterday:


I think I got negative drying ovenight - that's right, the sweater was pulling moisture out of the air in that room. I threw caution to the wind today though, and brazenly moved her onto the patio in full sun. If you recall, there was a warning associated with the yarn to avoid sunlight. How one can do this with an item that one wears out-of-doors I do not know. No disintigrating occurred however, so I think the reports of vampire yarn are greatly exaggerated.

The current state of the TD is as yet still damp. I do, however, have several thoughts/concerns already:
  1. The curling at the bottom edge is going to annoy me to death. I am going to have to do a little crab stitch border (love the crab stitch!) or something to tame the beast.
  2. That set in of the left sleeve (the one I did first, when I suffered from temporary amnesia as how to set in a sleeve) looks terrible and I am afraid I am going to have to do it again. Trouble is, the yarn is a pretty sticky yarn, and I wove those ends in real good. I'm not entirely sure I can undo what has been done.
  3. The collar. Still not sure about it. It would take very little effort to convince me that its sole purpose was to strangle me in my sleep.
Since I have finished (or nearly finished anyway) an outstanding UFO it is only fair I cast on something new, right? Jeanie has jumped to the head of the line, since I need to knit something for my mother in that Huskies yarn (and today was Selection Sunday! I am doomed in the getting-something-to-her-before-the-tourny-is-over area) and this was the prettiest reversible lace pattern I could fine (one of the only, actually). I am going to modify it into a scarf since I only have one skein. Sorry to all the other UFOs and items in my queue! I'm swatching right now to determine how many repeats to do of chart C... but the yarn is a hideously ugly, so I'll spare you a photo.

Off to bed, before I fall down!




Lily pushes her way onto whatever lap space is available, then expands.


For once, Mary does not seem to mind.

(It is hard to take a photo of one's own lap.)


How to Get Your Veggie On

But first, because we have to prepare for the upcoming DWTS, which starts next week, how to get your tango on:


These two have beautiful lines, and the music is fantastic. Just ignore the chatter, if you can. :)

So, I was all rockin' it out on the second sleeve of TD, when this happened:


Yeah, Mary climbed inside and claimed it for her own. Apparently Eco + is warm and cozy. Right now she is trying to apply the principles of felting by taking a bath inside the sweater. Hrm.

Well I following through with my dinner plan and made the Ultimate Veggie Burgers, and... success! You start with some chickpeas:


These were some dried organic ones, but don't they look fresh? I soaked them overnight, drained them in the morning and refrigerated, then simmered over very low heat for about an hour. Note to self: 1/2 cup of dried chickpeas yields about 1 1/2 cups rehydrated.

Then I processed them in the food processor with some other stuff and mixed in a bowl with yet other stuff:

Chickpeas, eggs and salt processed up, with onion, lemon zest, and cilantro added.

Then you add some other things (sprouts and breadcrumbs) and fry them up! I put them in the fridge to flatten them more easily and evenly. I made a half batch too, in case I didn't like them, but boy, I should have done the full amount. The sandwiches they make are petite (two would make a meal, or one with a side) and are really pretty to boot:

Mine is topped with tomato, avocado, and sprouts.

Sprouts, sprouts and more sprouts, because now I have a big bag I have to eat up right quick. But yum, you must try this. I am extremely tempted to buy Heidi's book now (Super Natural Cooking). Ah, the power of a freebie.

One more exciting thing happened on this morning:

I call it "Nasturtium Bud in the Blue Early Morning Light".

Maybe tomorrow there will be a flower? 

That's it for me. DST still sucks, and is sucking the life out of me, and I now have two comfy kitties half on top of me. Actually, I am witnessing kitty history: Lily is half on top of Mary and no biting is happening!


Houston, We Have Pollination

But first, I bet everyone will recognize this piece from a certain chocolatier's recent commercial (beginning about 1:00):


This version* is much better. :)

So! Three things have happened:

1. The TD sees sleevage! 

This took me 2 days and note that this is one sleeve. Yes, it did. I apparently have forgotten how to set in a sleeve. This is the "nice" side of the sleeve set into the shoulder, which unfortunately is the back side. I am really really hoping it will all even out after I wash the finished article. (Heh heh, if you have not watched the series from the beginning it will not be nearly as funny.)

2.  Squee!

Enough said.

3.  Say hello to my little friend:

Brassica spp., Wild Garden Mix

Actually, say goodbye... these were the mustard greens growing in my porch and I sauteed them up with garlic and red pepper flakes and served them with bowtie pasta.  Aren't they pretty? Since one of the plants had bolted I figured the rest were soon to follow, so... addio! It was good while it lasted, and of course that means now there's more room for something else! (One really nice advantage to using there rather than store-bought was that there was virtually no grit or dirt or sand and I only had to wash them once! Normally you might have to wash these puppies four or five times. I actually cut them just above the soil surface (hence the no dirt) because pulling the roots would have disturbed the other things growing in the same planter (nasturtiums and, I think, dill).)

Tonight's dinner was pretty sad - leftover pasta sauteed with onion. What, you never sauteed pasta before? It's good with a little butter and some red pepper flakes thrown in at the end (careful, they get really hot when heated in oil or butter). I like the slightly crunchy texture of the pasta too. This meal came after a disappointing lunchtime meal - I didn't have time to make the tuna, and I didn't eat breakfast, so I was starving by the time lunch rolled around. So, I ran to Trader Joe's where they no longer carry my favorite greek wrap (why, TJ, why?) so I got the 4-cheese quesadilla with green chilis instead. This was not a good idea. Besides having about 1000 calories and a gazillion units (whatever they are) of cholesterol and fat, they royally upset my stomach. So, cheesy. So good, and yet, so bad.

I had actually really wanted to make this delicious looking recipe, but alas, I have no prepared chickpeas. Doesn't it look divine? I'm going for it tomorrow, I have the chickpeas all laid out and soaking already. I did go to Berkeley Bowl as well because I was completely out of milk and I like to buy their local, organic milk in the glass bottles. Yes, I said glass bottles. They are so cool. That, plus the fact that they are local (Horizon, for instance, is all the way in Minnesota or someplace, plus it's a factory farm (I have no idea what kind of operation Straus actually is, but look, they have a website!) are a deal-closer for me. Anyway, Berkeley Bowl is not that far, but I only go once a week, if that (basically when I run out of milk, although sometimes I cave and go to the local grocery). Since I was there I got a few other things as well, so my "eat from the cubbard/fridge plan is a little bit tainted, but all in all I did quite well: delicious variety of olives from their awesome olive bar, dried black beans, onions, avocado, a tomato (greenhouse), rice pudding, eggs (I only have 2 left), and of course the milk. Now I can make scones for breakfast (I have a mix)! And have those delicious veggie burgers for dinner, yum.

I have funny cat pictures to share too, but it will have to wait - it's 2am! DST still sucks. (Except for the whole "still light at 7pm" part.)

*This is the Natalie Dessay and Elsa Maurus singing the famous Flower Duet from Delibes' Lakme.


Throw In a Little Juice and You Have a Party

One more hommage to il gran di Stefano:


An early recording of a role for which he was well known.*

Speaking of Manon... have you seen this (Ravelry link)? I think I may have to make it. You know, just because. I think I could pull it off maybe though!

The sun was shining today when I got home, but all my photos of the guest room were less than appealing... so no shots today. It'll come, sooner or later. I do have this shot:

HEY! Back off! It's MY lap!

I have a cat who now believes that it is preferable to be on my lap than any other place in the entire world, or at least, my apartment. She goes to great lengths to push her way up there, even if there really isn't room, and if she she can't fit at all she, after much pawing and making of cute purry noises, gives me a look as if to say "why do you hate me so much?" and then lies half on the lap. As cute and cuddly as this is I sure hope it doesn't continue once the temperature starts to climb!

I made the onions and apples recipe for dinner/desert - it was meh. Not that it was bad per se, but mealy apples are apparently still mealy after baking, and it was far, far too sweet. I would recommend less apples, less sugar, more onions, and some other savory spices in there as well. Oh well, at least the apples didn't go to waste. I also had some of the red quinoa for dinner, spiced up with a bit of orange juice. It's not bad (and combats same-thing-for-dinner-itis). Just microwave some leftover quinoa until hot and then stir in a little bit of orange juice.  I am getting down to the nitty gritty in the food department (between you and me I am so hungry right now that I may start to gnaw on my wrist). I have oranges, and orange juice (poor planning, I agree) and those cranberries. Some porch produce (not much). That's it in the way of fresh stuff. I don't even have any frozen vegetables, though I think I have a tin of bamboo shoots, a tin of diced tomatoes, one of tomatoes sauce, and um, pumpkin puree. And peperoncini peppers. And marinated artichoke hearts. And hey, some tuna (oooh - and I have a couple of flour tortillas left as well - I think I smell wraps...) Do you think I am kidding about the food situation? I am not:


It amazes me that, with so "little" food I actually have quite a bit, and would not starve for 2 or 3 weeks at least... :)

TD Update: I finished the collar! But I am having grave doubts about whether or not it will fit. Not the body part, but the collar seems particularly, I don't know, "choke-y". We'll see what happens after blocking I guess. Still have to set in the sleeves and weave in the rest of the ends. I will wet block for maximum shaping, so it will be a while after it's bath for the final verdict (unless it suddenly gets really really sunny, although this yarn comes with a warning to avoid direct sunlight - vampire yarn?)

Good grief I have to get to bed. DST still sucks.

*The role is Des Grieux, the opera is Manon, the composer is Massenet, and this recording is from 1944.


Three in a Row - She Might be Going for Some Kind of Record...

I am perennially the last to the party and everyone has probably already seen this, but just in case there is one person who hasn't:


Just about the coolest thing ever.

No photo of the room yet because, though amazingly it was still light out when I got home, the afternoon was overcast and grey - not very appealing. I also was a bit frustrated by the time I got home, which took nearly an hour, so I'm not sure if I would have had the patience for it anyway. Kindly remember that I live in the same town in which I work. The reason for the delay... the line at the post office. Now, I am one of those people who always uses the automated postal machines because they are convenient, there hardly ever is a line, and after all, we are in the twenty-first century. But, on this occasion, in addition to mailing some other small packages I also was sending off my tax returns. This was something I did not want to screw up and have sent back to me postage due. The sooner I get my tax return the sooner I can stop thinking that I have to eat ramen for a month to offset the IKEA trip last weekend. Plus, my taxes were done two weeks ago - if I had gotten off my lazy butt and mailed them right away I might have even had my money by now. 

The post office in town is supposedly open until 6, but apparently after 5 everyone goes home and leaves one poor postal worker to deal with tens of irate customers all on her own. The customers are irate because they have been standing in line for a half hour watching their fingernails grow and being forced to endure the escapades of  children who, though cute after 5 minutes, were certainly not after 25.  I felt bad for this girl, but what sort of managerial incompetence schedules the PO to be open until 6 and then doesn't staff it properly to handle the after-work crowd that is sure to descend? Never again. From now on I will only use my beloved automated postal machine because what a ridiculous fiasco. (If there were some reasonable alternative to the USPS I might consider it, but alas, for regular correspondence, there is not.)

After the post office debacle I thought I would pop over to Trader Joe's, which is right next door, and stock up on some essentials. But, one turn about the place had me fleeing - there were too many people and I just couldn't deal after having to stand in that line. It's probably for the best, I need to stick to my all-ramen diet anyway, at least until the tax money comes in. 

I'm kidding about the all-ramen diet (kind of), but I am back on my Must Not Waste Food kick. It's going pretty well, though I have now pretty much run out of fresh produce. Today for dinner I had sauteed potatoes and onions, steamed broccoli with celery salt and parmesan cheese, and red quinoa. Not all that balanced, I know (there is no protein), but at least we have vegetables and a grain in there. Although technically I don't think quinoa is a grain, so I'm not sure how it fits into the dietary puzzle. Anyway, it looks like tomorrow's dinner will consist of one white onion, three sad apples, and some cranberries (fresh) that have been in the crisper since Christmas. Hm, I'll have to check those cranberries. I do have some oranges too, and a lemon and limes, but I don't think those will help this situation. Although... look what I just found. It's not so odd, apples and onions are a natural pairing (although I think you usually use yellow or brown onions for this sort of thing). I wonder what I could have it with; pretty much the only thing I have left in the pantry is rice, pasta, more quinoa, bulgar wheat, and lentils. Hm, lentils. Perhaps there's something there.  On the other hand, I could just eat Thin Mints for dinner like I did last Thursday.

So yes, trying to eat everything without letting it go bad has been fairly successful this past month, as evidenced by my nearly-empty refrigerator. (I didn't intend for it to be nearly-empty, it just happened that way.) I do have the porch produce, but it is limited, and I want to make it last. Speaking of which, one tiny basil baby poked its head through the soil today! I'm calling it sixteen days. Now only the parsley has yet to show. I will need to rig up some additional netting for trellis-like support on the peas very soon, within the next few days, or risk being overrun by the vines. One of the mustard greens has bolted, which probably means the rest will soon follow, so there's one more side dish to be eaten in the next few days.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch...


What the bloody hell is this? I'm not sure it is so obvious, but what it actually is is a purl bump smack in the middle of a column of knit stitches. Right next to the button hole too. I don't know how it happened, but luckily I was able to fix it without too much fuss (I was afraid that as soon as I pulled the stitch out the entire collar would collapse like a house of cards.) I should say fix them, since I did whatever I did on the other side as well. It was about this time when I realized that I needed four buttons, not two. Four buttons. 


At any rate, the collar is about 1/2 done - the end is in sight! And speaking of ends, I actually wove in some of the offending ends, cursing myself the entire time for not doing it as I progressed instead of waiting until the end. They aren't all done, but there are many fewer, which is considerably less crazy-making. A dozen more rows on the collar, set in the sleeves, find new buttons (er...) and this one is done. How many more days? Any bets? 


New and Improved! Now with Music!

It is not unreasonable, in this digital age, I think, to have a soundtrack to one's blog posts. YouTube makes it embarrassingly easy to find interesting things to watch and listen to, and I for one would have never found, nor purchased the recordings of, some extraordinary artists but for their presence on YouTube. (Music Industry Execs, are you listening? Free music makes me buy more music, not less.) So, each post I am going to try to link to something I found on YouTube that makes me smile, or laugh, or cry, because I want to share these gems with anyone that will listen. I may or may not write something about them. I know I have linked sporadically in the past, but I would like to be more regular about it. You don't have to watch if you don't want, just listen while you read the rest of my post (though sometimes watching is half the fun). If you have been reading a while you know my predilection. (I can guarantee they won't always be restricted to this one genre, though there just may be a bias...) Whether or not it is your cup of tea I do hope you give it a try, and continue to give it a try, because you never know what you might like or what might inspire you. 


In other news, I would like to report a theft! Late last night, whilst I was sound asleep, someone crept into my apartment and stole an entire hour! I woke up disoriented and groggy, and clocks in different rooms proclaimed different times! Needless to say I am justifiably miffed at the entire ordeal, as I needed that hour to complete the set I was relying upon to get all forty of the winks that I need in order to function. A warning to the thief - tomorrow may not be that pretty. Return the hour now and you will receive amnesty. Otherwise, all bets are off.

(I am reminded of the excellent Terry Pratchett novel, Thief of Time. Hilarious. If you have never read Pratchett do give it a try. His writing is a bit like that of Douglas Adams. Knowledge of Diskworld and a tendency to read sci-fi are not prerequisites, my aunt has neither and thoroughly enjoyed this one.)

On with the knitting, or rather, lack thereof. I made no progress on the TD since yesterday, partially due to the fact that it was about 75 degrees today, and partially due to the fact that I have made another deposit into the college fund of some Swedish kid. That's right, a trip to IKEA left me with a new chair, table, and night table, a lighter wallet, and a severely aching back. Is it really worth it? You can decide. Tomorrow. After I take the photos that I will be able to take now that the sun is setting an entire hour later, resulting in actual sunlight shining in the windows of the back rooms when I get home.

I did manage to take a couple of photos before going off on a quest for Swedish meatballs and unpronounceable housewares. First up, a tiny slip. I had promised myself that I was NOT buying any more yarn until either I had used up a considerable portion of my stash or there were credible reports of a pending yarn shortage. I do not have a huge stash as stashes go (at least, not from what I've seen online), but it does take up three entire under-bed boxes (the kind you normally put things like wrapping paper in), plus three small bins (nearly all sock yarn), plus a big cardboard box of KnitPicks Palette that I kind of rather hate. I have enough sweater yarn to make at least 3 sweaters, plus some cotton and linen for lighter weight garments or what have you, plus yarn for about 15 pairs of socks (you think I am kidding?), plus that damn Palette... But, I was perusing my Bloglines and noticed a new post up on Sock Madness, so I clicked on over.

Disclaimer: I am not participating in Sock Madness this time around. Last time was a fiasco, since I work full time and also am a crazy perfectionist. (I did get a nice pair of Mad Cows out of it though.) I do not know why I am even still subscribed to this feed. In fact, what happened next is a good indication that I should unsubscribe as fast as humanly possible.

I clicked on the Sock Madness feed, and what should my wondering eyes should appear? They are naming the divisions this year after the last four NCAA Division I women's basketball champs. You know what that means, right? And then I saw it. This yarn. From YarnLust. I cruised on over to the Etsy site and bought it in about 17 seconds flat. I am not kidding. All self control flew right out the window.

Go Huskies!

See that adorable stitch marker included with the package? It is gorgeous, it coordinates, and it is the perfect size for sock needles (the ring is a lot smaller than most I've seen). The colors in my photos are a tad washed out, I took them in full sun, but needless to say, they are really pretty. 

Huskies, from YarnLust (100% superwash merino)

How could I not?

My parents are huge Huskies fans (football in addition to both men's and women's basketball), despite having never attended UConn (that was all me, thank you very much), and owing to the fact that Connecticut still has not regained a professional sporting team (we have hopes though) they are avid (or is that rabid?) fans. Much bigger fans than I am (and I want to the school for cryin' out loud). I have offered to make something for my mother using this very special yarn. It remains to seen what she will do with it...

I did catch a photo of the lovely peas that are now in bloom as well:

Pisum sativum

I don't know if it's a snap pea or a snow pea, they were sown in the same spot and it's possible one variety didn't sprout (though I doubt it, those seeds were new last year) and I didn't investigate closely if the flowers were different, but there you have it. Isn't it lovely? Just think, with a little pollination action that little flower will be a delicious pea pod in a short time. I had planned to grow some sweet peas as well this year, but I haven't ordered any seeds yet and I suspect it's getting rather late to start them now (I know, it is only March, but they like the cool weather like "real" peas and most varieties are finished blooming by June.) In other plant news, the chives have started poking their heads out of the soil today! Two weeks and a day from planting. Nothing yet from the basil, delfino (cilantro) , parsley, or dill. 

Musical note: Those of you that follow these sorts of things already know of the passing of Italian tenor Giuseppe di Stefano last week. He was but one more legend from an age of legends that have, over the past few years, been slipping away from this world. Let us hope that he doesn't slip away from out collective memory as well. This clip is the famous tenor aria, Je crois entendre encore, but the Italian version (Mi par d'udir ancora), from Bizet's opera Les Pecheurs de Perles (The Pearlfishers). Much less popular than Bizet's most famous opera, Carmen, and seldom performed today, but full of beautiful and engaging music.

I still believe I hear
hidden beneath the palm trees
your voice tender and deep
like the song of a dove
oh night enchantress
divine rapture
delightful thought
mad intoxication, sweet dream
in the clear starlight
I still believe I see
in between the long sails
of the warm night breeze
oh night...etc.

(Translation not my own.)


When You Fall, You Fall Hard...

...off the knitting wagon. And blogging wagon, for that matter. Some things happened, and some other things, and then some things... no sense rehashing that now though, it's all old news. I'm starting fresh. 

I have an embarrassing number if UFOs (to me), so I picked one that was fairly close to being finished. Remember the Tilted Duster? A little sluthing determined that the last time I mentioned it here was in October. The last photo was back in September (go, search if you must - I'll wait). It was in a holding pattern waiting for a certain book to arrive. It arrived all right, and I even experimented with my fancy-pants plan for the bind-off edge (using tubular BO for double rib!!!) and then... nothing. I did manage to participate in the Knitting Vintage Sock Swap, though I failed miserably at getting my package out even remotely on time (I was about, oh, 6 weeks late or so). I even failed to take a single picture, which is highly uncharacteristic of me, but luckily my swappee, Cherie, both liked the package and posted a few pictures on Flickr. They even fit her!! The pattern is Child's Sock in Miranda Pattern, from Knitting Vintage Socks (duh). The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill in Green Mountain Madness.

Anyway. Tilted Duster. I pulled it out of the closet and decided that if I attempted to bind off in tubular BO for double rib (which actually looked quite good on my test swatches) would take me 23 more months to finish (it's a tad intense). Instead, I finished the last pattern repeat on the skirt, bound off normal (I think it's called one over bind-off?) and picked up the stitches for the collar. This all happened last night. I have since knit about an inch and a half of the collar. I only had about 100 stitches to pick up, since I used a slip stitch edging, instead of 130 (or more) but there was no way I was going to add extra stitches to the picked-up edge. One-hundred stitches (102 actually) it is, and I'll only go back and "fix" it if it looks really bad. The thing that really ticks me off about the whole thing is that if I had just buckled down last fall I would have had another sweater in, like, two days. Seriously. The sleeves are already knitted and I have the buttons for the closure. All I need to do is finish the collar, set in the sleeves, and weave in about a million ends (I have no idea why I did not do this as I went, but TD looks like the FSM right about now).

No photos of TD, but I do have a couple of non-knitting views to share.

Lactuca sativa

Lettuce, my friends. Growing in a window box on my balcony. This was one of the "crops" I planted last November. Surprisingly, everything has survived, and some things have done exceedingly well, including the lettuce. I have planted seeds from 2 different packs, "Pot & Patio Blend" and "Wild Garden Mix". I don't know which are which. I do know that lettuce appears to be one of the easiest things to grow from seed in small containers. What could be better than stepping outside to pull a few fresh leaves of a variety of salad greens to put on your sandwich or to toss with a light vinaigrette! I highly recommend it to everyone. (It is much better than watching sad supermarket heads of lettuce, shipped from who-knows-where (probably Mexico) wilt in your crisper. Cheaper too. And prettier.)

Tropaeolum minus

Nasturtiums, Tip Top Alaska variety, also planted last fall. I had originally planned on having the nasturtiums climb up the rails of the balcony to partially disguise the ugly that is the car park below, but they never got very tall. Upon further research I discovered that, whoops, this variety is a "compact border variety". It only gets to about 8" tall. Hmph. Well, the foliage is very pretty anyway (its variegated - it's supposed to look that way!) and nasturtiums are edible (both the leaves and the flowers). I'm hoping they will bloom in the spring.

You saw the favas last time. They are doing incredibly well, not to mention are really interestingly pretty and fragrant, and my two varieties of peas (snow peas and snap peas) are blooming now too. Peas like cooler weather, so I think it was a good move planting them in the fall to give them plenty of time to grow before the heat sets in. Maybe I'll take some photos next time.

Cheered by my apparent success, two weekends ago I planted some more of the seeds, so as to insure a continuous harvest. Both varieties of lettuce that I planted (I do like my lettuce) sprouted in just under a week, and the ching-chiang after about 10 days. I have hopes for the basil and delfino and parsley, though the seeds are getting a bit old. I still dream of the days when we had 3' tall basil bushes in San Diego (I'm not exaggerating - they were bushes, and they were 3' tall; I should have taken photos, no one believes me). Will 2008 be the year of the basil bush? I've got new chives going as well, and most of the woody-ish herbs from last year (marjorum, thyme, mint, catmint) are still doing well. Next I need to figure out what my design plan will be for the balcony.

Did I mention spring is here?