Tag Archives: fall

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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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.

north-blanket

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.)

north-candy

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…

north-rhinebeck

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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Things with wings…

No, this isn’t about sewing menstrual pads…

NH-dragonfly

I like autumn, but mourn the disappearance of my favorite winged summer things like crickets and cicadas and especially katydids and dragonflies and bats and butterflies and even the giant random things that show up on the window screens…

winged-fly

I’m still unpacking things from the basement boxes – I’m sure I’ll be continuing to do that into the new year…

And I found my old monarch butterfly Halloween costume.

winged-monarch

My mother made it out of out black felt and oil paint, and I wore it with a black leotard, black tights, and black ballet shoes (after I quit ballet classes the first time). And I had a black velvet headband with black pipe cleaner antennae bent into curlicues that would flop down and poke me in the eye.

It was my best costume (much better than my gladiator made of a pillowcase tunic and tinfoil over a plastic baseball helmet and cardboard shield) and I’m glad I kept it – the wings, that is, the rest is thankfully long gone.

But I’m conflicted about keeping another winged thing…

winged-front

It’s an Iceland sweater from Rowan 42.

I bought the magazine because of it, even though it scared me with all of its cables and lace – I knew it would be a large commitment for me. Then a friend whipped one up and told me that it was actually quite easy and she thought I’d like it for the coziness factor.

So feeling more confident about the whole thing, I cranked it out relatively fast for me over the first winter when N took a job out of state and I had plenty of time to concentrate and a large public library’s worth of nature program DVDs.

winged-wings

But when I finished, I didn’t love it on me…

Because of the goddamn wings.

But that’s the whole point of it right?

But they catch on or in door handles, hand rails, car doors, house doors, desk drawers; and dip themselves into soups, coffees, cereals, dish soap suds, the compost bowl; and drag themselves through eraser crumbs, dryer lint, almond butter on a slice of toast; and scatter my notes to self…

And if that weren’t irritating enough, it sits on me funny – lists downward from side to side, or hitches up into its own muffin top.

winged-buttons

I even had the perfect vintage buttons (and the perfect amount, which is entirely rare) in my stash to complete it…

The yarn I used, Lamb’s Pride Bulky, has drape, but it’s dense – I should have gone up a needle size or two or used something lighter, and I made the waist ribbing less bulky than the pattern, but those are the least of its faults…

But I’ve only worn it… twice?

So do I frog, or do I find someone in need of warmth who does not mind being a winged creature?

Or do I hang onto it as a testament that I once knitted a giant warm garment during a cold time?

I love the leaf pattern though – if I frog, I might just have enough yarn along with a few leftover skeins to make a nice throw blanket in the pattern…

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Ghosts in the garden, sheep at the fair

Last week saw a day over 100 degrees Fahrenheit here… And it hadn’t rained in nearly a month.

The lawn, which is mostly weeds, was mostly dead, the rain barrels were empty, the well getting low, and my seedling hopes for some fall crops were scorched and disintegrated…

Except for a bit of greens and radishes we managed to save with a pack of very cheap, unused sheer big Swedish store curtains that worked as excellent covers. I love it when having something too late to return and not yet dropped off at the thrift store pays off well – a nice satisfaction and justification for my mild hording habit…

NJwool-ghosts

They still catch my eye at dusk – something phantasmagorical hugging the ground as the bats begin to fly about, but hopefully we’ll still be eating our own fresh things until the frost or just a bit after. The tomatoes are soldiering on despite some still lingering pests and diseases, and it’s finally the time for some of the ugliest but tastiest heirlooms.

NJwool-caterpillars

And our tiny and woefully inadequate parsley plants attracted some munchers I don’t mind. I’m pretty sure they’re Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars, which are quite common around here, but slightly odd since I saw a kaleidoscope of Tiger Swallowtails in the yard this summer instead. I was tempted to mess with mother nature and bring them in to save them from hungry birds and watch them transform, but I don’t know what they do at this time of year – turn quickly, or sleep it out over the winter? I’d hate for someone to hatch in the basement in January and die, so I left them be and they ate every last bit of our parsley and took off (or got chomped). I’d hoped that they would do their pupating thing close by so I could watch and also make sure we don’t mow or turn them under, but they didn’t leave a forwarding address…

So with all of this scorching weather, the last thing on my mind was that it is officially wool festival season around these parts – I had no idea on that 100+ day that in less than a week, I’d be trying not to buy much of anything soft and lovely and watching wooly things on parade… but luckily I saw (and paid attention to) one of those low roadside signs (typically advertising cheap king mattress sets, or sadly fighting against a proposed pipeline) for the Garden State Sheep Breeders festival just in time.

NJwool-jacob

The day was overcast and becoming cool  –  the same seasonally-appropriate weather as the festival in years past. I bought just a tiny bit of roving, though there were more than a few tiny things I’d have liked to buy, especially since I most enjoy meeting the beast (or at least seeing a picture) whom I’ll be spinning or knitting. I get more than a bit turned off at the overtly religious [sheep] breeders though – I don’t want to give someone money who might then use it to support someone or something I don’t. But I guess I prefer being an informed consumer rather than an ignorant one, so jesus fish and bible quotes on your sheep signs are an effective deterrent – I get that whole shepherd reference, but it’s so damn tiresome…

I spent more time watching the sheepdog demonstrations this year, and missed out on the lamb barbecue sandwich because I ran out of cash – always feel a little funny eating those around their living comrades and kin though…

NJwool-herding

These last few days have bright and cool, following a few inches of delicious rain – nothing like the inferno last week. I am once again awakened before dawn by the neighs and purrs of screech owls from the finally opened windows.

But I don’t want to jinx it – the air conditioners will stay in place for at least another month…

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