Tag Archives: autumn

Autumn home and away

We finally made it back to Italy.

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New needy house, new needy dog, future uncertainties, and the fluctuating costs of travel kept us away for the last few years. It was all over in a flash though, and I’ve never been less interested in returning to my home country…

I17-monte amaro

But for a few brilliantly sunny days we hiked some familiar and new trails, ate some familiar and new food, and stuck much closer to the familiar little city, but in a new little house.

I like mountains. #italia #appenini #abruzzo #majellanationalpark

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We were oddly thwarted from many planned days – mountain passes closed (since just after we were there last 3 years ago!), restaurants too crowded for lunch, other places inexplicably shuttered – but we found other routes and other places and all was fine in the end.

I17-celano golle-n & tree

Even better than fine – my shredded knees kept their complaining to a minimum and I finally felt their restrictive grip released a bit for the first time in years.

(And Italy is always downright magical in terms of taking away all of my allergies and mild dairy/digestive issues…)

But there’s always one hike that flirts with going very wrong in every trip, right? One new-to-us trail that was supposed to be an easy/lazy couple hour meander suitable for infants and elderly (according to a tourist map) took a turn for the tired, sweaty, and absurd and involved mildly frightening encounters with wild boars, an unavoidable boot-sucking mud pit, and hand over hand scrambling underneath power lines.

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It all went tits up when the trail markers ceased and all signs pointed (inexplicably in english) for endurance in all directions. But the tourist map was still accurate for way finding, though it left the infants and elderly in the dust looking for their broken glasses.

And several hitchhikers joined me for a few excursions – the mantis population seemed to have exploded and grown to monstrous proportions.

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And we sought N’s ancestors and ancestral places – finally finding a house (or what was left), but not graves – most of the town was pointlessly annihilated in WWII.

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I missed visiting with a few fiber folks and buying wool, but I ate the beast from which it comes and sipped from the same fonts.

The weather was entirely perfect, the autumn in full color, and the markets still stocked with the peaks of harvests.

But autumn is still here at home – even a bit slower perhaps – and the white throated sparrows are back, and the garden is still giving us patty pans, carrots, greens, and a few last winter squash…

It's eat or be eaten… #organicgardening #rampicante #squash #vintagependleton #wintersquash #gardening

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But we also returned to a dead boiler, yet more job rejections for me, and my need to re-enter the shitzoo that passes for public healthcare in this (currently really fucked up) country.

I17-gelato

So while my mountain sunshiny vitamin D high wears off, and I’m not making up work hours, I’m getting my nesting game on – clearing out (or at least organizing) the clutter, shaking out the woolens, considering baking a bit, debating yet again if one of those light alarm clocks is worth the clams, and knitting and spinning with more ferocity to keep my hands warm.

And snuggling with the beast.

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Autumn, outdoors

The going has been slow…

What the dog (and man) brought in… #wildflowers #aster #autumnflowers #fiestawarelove #fiestaware

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The yard has improved significantly this year – we’ll see what overwinters and fills out next – hopefully the new “herb hill” will never need to be mowed/wacked again. We keep picking up coreopsis plants on sale too, so I’m gaining an unintended dye garden as well.

And the redistributed cement crumbles from the former sidewalks to nowhere have oddly fruited!

Stinkhorn! #stinkhorn #fungusamongus

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And N built an enclosure for leaf compost out of the biggest pieces. The dog likes to sit in it too.

The garden is a bit of a mess – I’m out of steam for it this time of year, and yet again, I didn’t get the timing right to keep up with some decent lettuces. The tomatoes never got a second wind from their blight (a couple are okay, but they aren’t the tasty ones). And it’s possible we’ll get a few zucchini and patty pans from the second planting of squash that I was hoping was post-squash vine borer, but wasn’t, but I’m not holding my breath.

But this squash, a Zucchino Rampicante is amazing.

It’s currently hardening off like a butternut, and there’s another almost done. It seems that only one fruit can mature per vine, but the babies are good eating like a summer zucchini. And it’s a good thing because we’ve only got four little butternuts. So these two Rampicantes will make up the difference – I’ll wait for the taste test this winter before giving them the green thumbs up – hopefully they’re good, because they beat the pests and diseases the best, and are a constant source of bawdy amusement.

We do have a decent amount of spinach, and we might get some carrots, but the beets are becoming hairy carrots instead of beets – at least the greens are still good – the fall beets never do as well as the spring, so I have to read up on that.

Most of the cayennes are drying out.

Most sewing I've done recently. Note to self: don't rub eyes. #chilipeppers #cayenne #organicgardening #picapica

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And the freezer is overflowing with beans – both the bush and pole had bumper crops this year.

I neglected to pick the fennel – it was a new to me variety that made smaller bulbs, so once I noticed them, they were on their way to becoming too tough.

But maybe we’ll get some seeds. And it’s pretty and the caterpillars like it so it will stay until the bitter end.

N trash-picked the perfect glass/plexi door to make a cold frame, but I’m dubious we’ll get to it this year – the priority right now is to clear and prep a garlic bed.

(And fiber things)

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Woolly start to the new season

Feeling uneven from morning dental work, afternoon flu shot, a cold either minor and lingering, or just slowly beginning, catching up from some brief travel, and pressure systems changing from summery to autumny to a little summery again…

I’m usually ready to say goodbye to summer, but slightly less so this year, or maybe as usual, I’m just not willing to loose the daylight.

My favorite (and only one I attend these days) wool festival happened last weekend.

There was some sheep scratching…

Who doesn't love a good chin scratch? #sheep #jacobsheep #chinscratches #gardenstatesheepbreeders

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And oogling…

And of course, time for the dogs…

(Can you see the dog speck right of center near the top acting as gatekeeper?)

I kept to my strict budget of $30 (including parking) and came home with $3 left – again, took the penny candy approach and bought just a little fiber here and there (seen above).

And got it in mind to finally deal with some of the fiber I’ve been sitting on for years – especially this beast of a fleece (6 pounds I think?) that I’ve threatened to send out to be processed or have made into felt, but both cost money I don’t want to spend. So in the last few sunny days of the year, I’ll be picking and fluffing so I can card a little less messily indoors this winter (or just spin from the fluff and call it rustic and make a big blanket out of the mess…?

 

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Randomly in autumn

It’s been a wonky autumn.

erratic-autumn-moon

Last week’s laundry basket held corduroy pants, thick wool socks, shorts, and a bathing suit.

I didn’t go to Rhinebeck this year and I didn’t really miss it…

My schedule has been a bit erratic, and my making stuff time has been as well, (not to mention my brain), so I’m still sticking to easy mindless things for the moment.

I helped design a functional c. 1959 living room for a museum exhibit and whipped up some pillows with a nice vintage European fabric to match a new but vintage-inspired sofa.

erratic-autumn-vintage-fabric

(I forgot to take pics of the finished pillows…)

And made another pillow for myself out of little upholstery samples.

erratic-autumn-scrappy-pillow

(I don’t give a damn about matching seams – the samples were oddly not quite the same size too – and it’s for one of the various chairs in my work room.)

I’m unraveling as fast as I can since it will soon be too cold to do it outside, though I keep doing it inside, and none of that really makes any sense, but I consider it a cool, not cold, weather activity.

erratic-autumn-perfect-brown

I thought I wanted to use this perfect purply brown for one of my current work-in-progress scarf/shawls, but I’m glad I went with the green – this ended up being more lace than light fingering.

Sweater parts waiting to get their kink on… #yarn #recycledyarn #thriftstoreclothes #unraveling #withsparkles

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And I’m still oddly attracted to metallic yarn.

erratic-autumn-unraveling

This was a short-sleeved sweater that I almost kept as-is, but I still can’t find the correct atmospheric conditions to wear heavier-weight wool short sleeve sweaters (and it didn’t look right with a long-sleeved shirt underneath). So I don’t know what this will be yet – it’s a sport-ish/light worsted weight and I like the muddy pink/sometimes dirty lavender color – I’m a little tempted to hold it with the brown above and make a loose-gauge drapey sweater, but I’m also seeing too many other scarf/shawls I’d like to make.

I’m back to spinning again now that the heat and humidity have gone – trying for at least 15 minutes or so a day – and now I’m getting even more good yarn for scarf/shawl things, but I seem to be unraveling and spinning far more than knitting these days…

 

 

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Garden end days

(I’m sick over this election bullshit and low maddening hum of misogyny like a high voltage wire stretching over the continent here, so let’s stick with some light “lunching ladies” garden talk for now…)

The garden broke me this year – there wasn’t a single plant (except the hot peppers) that wasn’t hit with disease, multiple diseases, and pests – even the fresh dirt in the new raised beds now harbors various evils.

garden-end-eflin-thing

There was some balance – some of the new pests attracted some new predators – but not enough, and/or not in time and I’m going to have to be even more proactive next year with using more or other organic interventions.

garden-end-mantis

The fall crops mostly failed from no rain and continued heat through September, but a few sprouts are gamely hanging on, and the poor embattled (nearly zombie) tomatoes are desperately trying to ripen their very last fruit.

garden-end-army-worm

We had a few more butternuts than last year, but not enough for the work we put into them to keep them alive, and my experiments with letting some volunteer plants grow failed miserably since they were a month or more behind and maturing at the height of pest season.

garden-end-squash

Google took new satellite images of our town and our garden can be seen from space! Near space, that is, and luckily it was captured after a fresh batch of straw in the aisles and before the plants got big, so there’s good contrast.

garden-end-satellite

The new garlic is now in, and the old garlic is already half consumed – unfortunately we’re definitely not going to make it until next year’s crop.

garden-end-canned

And the canning is finally wrapped up – just tomatoes in various consistencies, jalapeno salsa, and a tiny batch of overly sweet hot pepper jelly. The rest of the bounty is tucked away in the new chest freezer. I experimented with blanching or not with a few things, so we’ll see what worked best, and anything too mushy to eat is heartily consumed by the canine, so it’s not a total loss.

Now starts the month or two of raking and shredding leaves…

(And a heads up that I agreed to put “a subtle message” urging Americans to register to vote in my posts, so if you see it, it should be there, and please vote unless you like Trump or any of the other election-throwing candidates, then please stay home.)

 

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Closing time…

I won’t add to the legion of voices bitching about this time of year when the light is left behind and we’re slammed into darkness all too soon. I’m not adjusting quickly enough, though I never do, and I’m cranky and mad about falling asleep over my knitting most nights. I’m working more at the moment now too, so the loss feels even greater, but at least my home office has viewing windows to the wild antics in the yard.

closing-buck

The weather has been hinky too as evidenced by the laundry basket which contains woolen base layers and snot smeared gloves as well as sweaty t-shirts and cotton socks (I don’t go to a gym).

And I’m shaking my fist at the rain gods who still haven’t smiled upon us much this year.

Thankfully we packed some tomatoes when we went on vacation because those were the last tasty vine-ripened fresh bits of the garden that we enjoyed.

closing-redtoms

There was a light frost while we were away that took out the green beans, and a heavy one the night we returned, so we were forced to pick everything immediately or cover it and hope for the best.

closing-tomatoes

We opted for the acquisition nearly 20 pounds of green tomatoes which were then promptly pickled and canned. Unfortunately, the additional delicious small batch of crispy refrigerator pickles we also made are already long-consumed… I’m not as much of a fan of the squishier canned ones, but I’ll still take them shoveled onto a cheesy sandwich. The lettuces and greens turned bitter and were cooked in a massive heap with lots of garlic and oil and gamely choked down. I’m nursing the last of the borlotti beans hoping a few will mature in time, and a few carrots decided to finally (quite belatedly) show themselves, but I have little hope for them.

Now the non-work daylight is spent pulling out the dead garden plants, moving the deer-chomped yard plants to safer digs, raking and raking and raking leaves and shredding them a bit to spread and dig and dig and dig into the garden… We’ve probably got another two weeks of this nonsense that felt good at first but now seems like it’s eating up too much of the precious daylight…

But the birds are passing through or setting up their winter digs and I’m happy to hear the white-throated sparrows calling out their Sam Peabodys all over the place and the screech owls are more often purring at early dusk instead of too early dawn.

And I’m hoping that the buck who’s been showing up in the yard is the same young “Bucky” that we’ve seen from the previous year – may he make it through hunting season…

 

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Not a Roman holiday

Autumn gets me itchy for the opposing forces of nesting and travel.

Autumn is my favorite time in Italy because it is the most familiar – I spent the most time there over the years during these months – and the tourist season calms down a bit. When the leaves begin to crunch, I automatically sniff for roasting chestnuts, but alas, for most of the United States, I’ve got to settle for woodsmoke and cider, which I love too. But we decided not to go again this year for a number of reasons, and headed back north to the White Mountains, then the sea, instead.

north-dawn

Only we headed straight into the belly of American tourism, or more specifically, an army of leaf peepers. We thought we’d be ahead of them, but instead we hit at the peak – don’t get me wrong, it was a glorious multi-hued autumn bomb – but the more accessible trails were like Fiumicino airport. But luckily, we were tucked away again in our now very familiar rough and tumble-down rental cabin on the lake in near solitude, and I’m finally getting back to slightly more moderate trails.

The cabin owners left some knitted and crocheted afghans for us that we haven’t seen in the summer.

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But I brought our big guns – vintage wool bed blankets that kept us perfectly warm sitting outside watching birds, otters, beavers, and this time, a mink, although several mornings had frost.

north-blankie

I did just a little knitting – started a gift hat that is identical in color, but hopefully sized down, to the selbu modern I made last year – and the second sock of the pair I’ve occasionally worked on since June, some sewing, and this time I also had work work, which wasn’t really unpleasant to do while away – in fact, I felt more focused.

(And was well-fueled by my favorite licorice allsorts and chocolate nonpareils snagged on the way up.)

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After a week in entirely non-internet ignorant bliss (though marred by a knife through N’s finger (I didn’t do it), a septic issue that further confirmed my certainty of never wanting to live with one, and a bizarre key issue on our way out that took half the day to not resolve and led to the elderly cabin owners having to shimmy through a window several days later) we headed further north and east to a comfortable seaside cottage near Acadia National Park.

north-acadia

We knew we’d hit crowds there, and with gorgeous weather and colors, everyone should be out, but we happily managed to have several choice trail lunch spots to ourselves and a few excursions without road noises or children screaming for ice cream in the middle of a lovely quiet forest.

We hiked, we biked, we ate a shit-ton of fried clams, chowder, and lobster rolls. The season officially ended at Columbus day, so many of the lobster pounds were closed after that much to our dismay, but the island noticeably got a bit less tourist-peopled.

I saw more sunrises in two weeks than I have for at least two years – it either comes too early or I’m not paying attention – and I shot most of them…

north-maine dawn

I’d been wanting to go to Acadia for a bit – I love moss and the juxtapositions of forest and sea and got just that – more kinds of moss than I’d ever seen before, squirrels on the beach, seaweed smells in the trees, the sounds of the surf in the pines, and chickadees and forest birds at the water’s edge.

north-teaberry

I figured we’d be annoyed with the over populated trails and cruise ships and it would be a once and done trip, but I’d come back – and definitely in the autumn…

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And Rhinebeck just happened to be on the way home… maybe more on that later…

north-frost

We left the frosty north just in time, but unfortunately, it hit at home too… more on that next time, or later…

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