Archive for October, 2006

Happy Halloween

Who needs pumpkins and fake headstones and spider webs and vampires when you have 70 lbs. of snarling, growling, teeth-baring, barking door charging the glass door every time a trick-or-treater dares to knock? Not us, that’s for damn sure.

How much do you want that peanut butter cup anyway, little superhero?


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Ravens Rocks

BF, MarleyQ and I hiked Ravens Rocks yesterday. It was a beautiful, albeit windy, day with temps in the mid 60s and the sun shining brilliantly. The only clouds in the sky looked as if they had been placed there with artistic intent. The hike was as perfect as the day.

We were worried about time. The website said it was a 4-hour hike and we didn’t get started until right around 2. We keep a good pace, especially with Puppergirl blazing ahead, but we’re in no way superstars and with daylight savings yesterday, we wanted to be sure we beat the sunset back down.

The leaves are about as peak as they’re going to get this year. They’re very rusty instead of fiery, but it was beautiful all the same. The color carpeted the trail and laid a glow over the mountains that we would every so often catch sight of through the trees. The trail was rocky—there was quite a bit of scrambling (note: dangerous with excited dog on leash and ankle boots good) and, even in the flatter parts, you had to focus on where your foot should land next to avoid those tricksy rocks barely poking out from the leaves. Oftentimes hikes are a difficult climb up and then you flllllllyyyyyyyyyy back down. White Oak Canyon, one of the more comperable hikes to this one insofar as difficulty, was that way—a steep, sweaty, wheezing (beautiful) climb up the series of falls, and then about a half hour of wheeeeeeeeeeeeee as we charged back down. This one was a really good level of strenuous throughout. I definitely needed to stop and rest after one of the climbs, but I never said, “OH MY GOD MAKE IT END NOW.”

With the man and dog forging ahead (and finding all the tricky spots for me), I was actually able to reach a meditative sort of zone with this hike that I haven’t reached in a long time. My breathing and footsteps formed a rhythm that let my mind open up and wander. I used to only reach that state running or on long bike trips when there were very few other bikes on the trail. But, the insulation of the trees and the need to focus on my footfalls were the perfect combination yesterday and I felt a floodgate opening and a thought process rekindled that I don’t think is stoppable and I really don’t want to end.

When we did stop, look up, look around, catch the mountains through the trees, it was gorgeous. At the top, the view from the rocks was spectacular. The valley just opened up for you, offering miles of golds and oranges, tiny farms speckling the rolling hills, and never-ending mountains that pull you in and set your mind free. That’s one of my favorite things about being in the mountains, the way they can make you feel almost unbearably small and unbearably PRESENT at the same time.

The round trip hike ended up taking us about 2.5 hours. We beat sunset with plenty of time to spare and were able to stop at Tuskies for a pint while MarleyQ passed out in the car. Seriously, when BF did the beep-beep unlock remote thingy, her head popped up all stunned, confused and excited, ears down and eyes wide and droopy. “I was awake! The whole time, I was! Really!” She had no idea we were gone.

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Why all the babies?

Enough with the reproducing already!!! I’ve had 4 friends have 5 babies this year. The last one was born last week, and I thought it was the end of the run. But no. Another friend had to go and get herself knocked up. At least she’s not due until May.

Look people, I understand. I do. And your babies are all very cute and smell good. BUT, I CAN NOT KEEP UP WITH THE KNITTING. I want to. The all deserve fun, cute knitted things to warm their toes and other parts, but I just don’t have the time. The guilt is killing me! So stop! JUST STOP!!!

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Hey! It’s fall back! We all gain an hour! I wish the dog had known, as she was standing on my shoulders licking me from eyebrow to neck at 7:00 this morning.

What is up with the fact that my swatches SO often don’t knit up like my actual knitting? I swatch. I measure and double measure. I think I’ve got guage. I’m happy. I start to knit and things always knit tighter than my swatch. So I had swatched for the Top Down Bonnet. I had my Karabella Aurora and my size 3 dpns and I happily started knitting away…. and it’s too small. A baby would need a freakishy small head to fit this thing. So I cast on again (using the correct cast on this time, thanks to Hello Yarn’s post) and this time I’m going for size 5s. It’s looking promising.

I’m making two of these for my friend’s twins. I made her a black cat hat from Stitch n’ Bitch (minus the ear flaps), and now she wants kitty hats for the babies. She has three cats—one black, one grey, one white and with grey markings. So you guessed it, one baby gets a grey bonnet and one a white and grey. Her husband says he will not go out in public if the three of them are wearing the cat hats at the same time. But she wears the pants in that family, so I think he’s just going to be doing a lot of eye rolling.

She used to have fourth cat named after me, but she had to be put to sleep this summer. How’s that for a little disturbing?

I also got my new Knit Picks Options this week. So very exciting. They are nice and sharp and slick and wonderful. I want to use them for everything. MarleyQ thinks they’re tasty. That dog licks everything. Freak.

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Writing, well…

I remember when writing used to be easy and just flow from me. When rough drafts were my only drafts and they were good. What happened to that mindset?

Everything feels so stilted and formal now. It feels staged. It’s WRITING with fanfare and gongs and horns and canned applause. It has become an Event instead of an extension of thought. I know part of it is just getting back into the mindset. Finding that particular stream of consciousness again and sticking some drano in there or maybe a plumber’s snake. Then jumping up and down for a few hours to get it all moving and frothy. And then doing that daily until it becomes natural again.

But, until natural happens, it’s kind of painful. Not in the I-can’t-stand-doing-this way, but in the oh-god-this-is-awful-and-only-time-will-make-it-better way. Hopefully, with time moving as fast as it has seemed to move lately, I’ll feel like me again in no time flat. Hopefully.

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I finished one Bigfoot Sock last night!! I’m so excited. It takes a damn long time to knit for those size 13s that BF sports. The pattern is by Jen Showalter/Mean Girl Design but I can’t find the link to the pattern to share. The only thing I’d do differently next time is make the cuff longer. He’s got some long legs to go with those boats (thank god). I used Austermann Step yarn on size 3 dpns. I’m a durn tight knitter, so I almost always have to go up a size to get guage. And let’s face it, tight socks suck.

BF is making risotto with chanterelle mushrooms and tomato as I type. Is it any wonder I love him? I’m just typing and chatting with the roomie and drinking me some Stonehedge Cabernet. It’s amazingly vanilla-y and voilet-y. I like it, but I typically like a little more dark fruits with my oak and earth. Somehow, it’s still highly drinkable… highly drinkable indeed.

I’ve been having those I want to go home type feelings again a lot lately. (Yes, a complete change of subject.) I’ve been in this area for 6 years now and have always known I don’t want to stay. I’ve been back to the place I’ve grown up over and over again, and I’ve considered moving back over and over again. I really want the people from there, not necessarily the town as a whole, though I do like the town too. But it’s the people. And you can’t transplant those. It’s a hard thing to figure out, the whole where do I want to be question. I always felt it was something you stumbled upon or a place you ended up and ended up happily. I never thought it was a place to research and persue. I’ll find it someday, I’m sure. I’m just not sure how.

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Hiking and stocking

I wanted to knit all day today. I haven’t even looked at my yarn. Sigh. It’s still early enough that it could happen, but I also have a glass of wine by the computer and so that diminishes chances that any productive knitting could happen. Knitting could happen, sure, but productive knitting and wine do NOT go hand in hand. Yes, that is the voice of experience, thankyouverymuch.

The good news is that the errands have been run, there is a batch of bread dough rising, and the veggie stock is simmering on the stove, giving off an oh-so-delicious smell. There’s nothing like making veggie stock from farmers’-market-fresh veggies. There’s nothing like making anything using only farmer’ market food. Celery root, herbs, scallions, tomatoes (yes, hothouse, but still market fresh), onion, garlic, carrots, portabellos, all from within 150 miles from here. I can’t tell you how tickled that makes me… and how much more it tickles the tongue. The flavor difference is just amazing. So much more robust and pure. Everything was ripened on the plant. It really does make a difference.

My favorite people at the market this week: A Native American woman who first bought some sage and told me about its medicinal properties and how it was used to cleanse a space of bad energies… and then, after paying, noticed the sweet potatoes. “Oh, these will keep me grounded,” she half muttered and half exclaimed and chose a few to buy. She paid with a very pleased smile. The other was a Russian woman who tried the sweet potatoes that Ellen, the farmer, had baked and set out for samples, and then looked at me with a dour face saying that no matter how many times she tried them, she just didn’t like them. They don’t have them in Russia and she just can’t get used to them. But then she saw the sorrel and completely brightened. “Now sorrel, I know what to do with sorrel. I will buy some sorrel.” And she did.

Yesterday, after I got home from the farmers’ market, we took a nice hike at Bull Run. The leaves are just starting to tease us with color here—mainly yellows and a hint of orange, but the weather was perfect, crisp autumn beautiful, and, most importantly, the grounds of Bull Run has sections of oak tree groves. This time of year, if your eyes are focusing and the mushroom goddesses are smiling on you, you can you can sometimes find hen of the woods mushrooms huddled under the wide, old oaks. BF found one when we were in PA last weekend on one of the trails on Falling Waters’ grounds. It’s was HUGE and delicious and, apparently, freezes well (thank god, because did I mention it’s HUGE?). BF was SO excited at the find. We did some morel hunting this year for the first time and found all of 3 mushrooms, but now he’s a Mushroom Forager. And hen of the woods are in season. So we went to Bull Run.

MarleyQ ran. And ran. And then rolled around on something dead. And then went into Bull Run to try to wash the Dead off. And then went back in to swim. And ran. BF and I, on the way in, poked around under trees and studied the branches above. We circled trees and made wide arcs off the trail to look further in where feet were less likely to have stamped down what was trying to grow. There was little fungus of any kind there though. I think it was kind of dry, for whatever reason. There were no hen of the woods to be seen. We did hike the way out though, and that felt awesome. The blood was pumping, the breath was in unison with the feet, the leaves were crunching and the water was running just beyond our sight. It was beautiful.

We stopped at Old Dominion on the way home for their small-batch Hop Harvest that they have on tap right now. And hot pretzels. Dipped in spicy mustard. WHY are they so good??? And then we went home and cooked big batches of chili with homemade corn bread (mental note: baking+drinking=bad) for a few friends and drank the growlers of beer that we’d had filled (um, plus more). It was a very good day. I’m so sorry for this weekend to be ending.

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