Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nothin' But Blue Skies

Blue skies
Smiling at me

Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Singing a song

Nothing but bluebirds
All day long...

(Thank you Irving)

We have A/C where I work.

I have a "weather bug" on my computer that tells me the temperature. I watched it climb, bit by bit, all day long - when I left at 5:30, it said 96 degrees.

When I went around the corner where the bank time & temp sign is it said 100 degrees!!!

But it's sure making the garden grow!

Ever see one of these? We've got LOTS of 'em!

More to come -

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sophia's sweater heads to England

Sophia's Sweater is headed to England with her grandma & grandpa. Look at the sweet little heart buttons I found for it.

And look at the cool hat I made for her mama from the yarn I had left over. (if you click on the photo to biggify it, you can see the flower and the detail of the shell stitches) Wendy has promised to email me a picture of Erin in her hat. I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It was the best time.......

A few weeks ago we went out to see our friends Curtis & Felicity for a wonderful luncheon on their deck. They live on the channel between the mainland and Lummi Island.

One of the main reasons we went was to see their son Johnny's vegetable garden - no, this isn't it - somehow, I didn't get a picture of that, but I love how Felicity has grouped all these blue pots with the cheerful geraniums

We also wanted to meet Rufus - their new "dawg" - he's a good dog - still a puppy - and very friendly. He and The Shepherd hit it off immediately.

And we heard all about the family's recent trip to Disneyland and about teen aged daughter Anna's foray's into the world of driving a car.

I worked for Curtis from 1981 - 1991 - he is one of my very best friends.

Felicity is a fantastic cook. We had grilled chicken that had been marinated in spices and soy sauce. It was SO good! A big platter of fruit and a very tasty pasta salad with artichokes and avocado, feta cheese and Genoa salami - all my favorite things!

I was in charge of bringing a green salad - so I made up a chop salad with spring greens topped with chopped celery, cucumber, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, green onion and topped with nasturtiums! Served with Poppy Seed dressing - it was pretty darn good, if I don't say so myself.

I also learned that when you use flowers in your salad you need to wash them REALLY well - If I hadn't found him, a little extra protein in the form of an earwig really would have ruined my day!

We had a special visitor - this blue heron stopped by to see what was happening.

The other special person who joined us for lunch was Felicity's mom - she is such an interesting person and has been on all kinds of adventures -

This is Romeo - coming out to bid us farewell.

Yes, we had just the best time.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A welcoming sight - and the story of "Lila beans"

The Shepherd has planted these bright and cheery zinnias in the front bed by our gate - this picture was teken about a week ago and they are already about 1/2 again bigger and brighter.

He had some left over so he planted them in pots for my planter by the back door.

His corn, sunflowers and pumpkins are all growing on the same row.

Unfortunately, the thieving raccoons have been stripping the ears off his corn this year. He is not a happy camper! Next year? Electro-net!

The green beans are coming on like gangbusters. He picked two of the BIG yellow Tupperware bowls full of beans today - 1 green and 1 purple. I'll snap the green beans tomorrow a.m. to take with us to our church potluck tomorrow. We call them "Lila" beans - here's their story -

The original bean that these came from were found in the crop of a duck that "Lila"'s father shot over 100 years ago up at their home up in Canada. Ever the frugal wife, Lila's mom decided to keep the beans for the next spring and see if they would grow. Turned out they not only grew but they provided very tasty beans - both green and dried. The family kept the seeds from year to year. Lila took some with her when she married Leonard and set up their own farm here in Whatcom County. What they didn't eat fresh or save to dry for seed, Lila would can.

When I first met Lila, she was in her late seventies. Leonard's family was one of the founding families of the little church that we go to, and whenever there was a potluck, Lila always brought a big pan of beans for the dinners - As Lila was getting on in age, she knew she would not be able to keep planting these beans forever, so one year, for our fund-raiser auction, she provided 4 or 5 little jars of seed to auction off. We bought one of the jars, and, since then, Lila has passed on. The Shepherd has now become "The Keeper of the Beans". Unfortunately, they don't freeze well (and I don't do canning) but they are excellent fresh - so I freeze the extra purple pole beans that we have, and for three or four glorious weeks in the summer we have all the Green Beans that one would ever want.

He will save enough seed for ourselves and for about 2 dozen plants to sell at our church's summer plant sale where they are very popular. (although when he's told people what we call them "Lila beans" they often will say, "Oh, I don't like Lima beans" and so the story of the duck beans gets told over and over.

We also have two huge patches of nasturtiums that reseed from year to year. They are bright and cheery too - sometimes I don't think that the digital photo's capture the color as well as they could. I used some in a green salad that I took to some friends last week. It was very pretty.

Across the driveway from the nasturtium bed are the "Turk's cap" lilies - they don't have any fragrance, but they are very cute, don't you think.

I hope you've enjoyed our walk through the garden. Come again soon, you hear?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Men in Skirts!

2009 Skagit Highland Games - Spindrifters Sheep to Shawl - - -

We had front row seats from the spinner tent - the pipers were on the left and the games were on the right with the Celtic stage right in the center. There were some great guitar and fiddle music acts on the stage until 2:30 when the pipers started. We are in range (within 60 miles north) of some of the best pipe bands IN THE WORLD - I didn't go to our Bellingham games this year, so I was glad to hear them -

We were all settled in our "spot" when look who showed up! Our friend and friendly wool mill mistress, Gretchen from Gretchen's Wool Mill in Monroe. It was so fun to sit and visit with her while we were spinning. She even wore her clan sash over her pretty summer dress! Turned out the the woman across from us was a new customer of Gretchen's and another one of her customer's stopped by for a visit (and to sit in the shade of our tent for a while - whew it was hot! - about 85 degrees!) We all forgave her coming to the games and not spending the day in her mill -

They were supposed to use one of our Shetland fleeces that had been provided especially for the event, but after putting together the warp for the loom in blues and purples, the committee decided that it wouldn't look good with the brown fleece - so they will use our fleece for the sheep to shawl that will happen at the NW Washington Fair in August. I suggested that they put out a call for greens and golds for the warp yarn - they would look good with the brown.

So we used a white romney fleece that Deb had purchased at Black Sheep last year.

People were picking and carding this floofy wool into batts that we were spinning from -

I'm mad at myself that I didn't take a picture of the yarn that I spun up - it looked really nice and I got some very nice compliments from some of the other spinners.

They said that it takes five spinners to supply one weaver.

So, while the wool was being picked and carded, spun into singles and plied, other ladies were warping the loom.

There was really a lot of interest in the spinning - both from men and women. I think the men like the "mechanics" of the wheel - lots of questions about why there were so many different types of wheels, etc.

Kids liked feeling the floofy batts - and since I had brought along some Shetland to work with in case things got slow, I'd give them a feel of the Shetland too. Personally, I thought the romney was pretty easy to spin, but very scratchy. The kind of stuff that gives wool a bad name.....

The weavers wove their magic and look at this - a beautiful shawl is taking shape - we sold raffle tickets - the funds will probably to towards speaker fees for our 3rd Annual Spin-In that will happen in the fall.

Even with the heat, it was a beautiful day - there was a bit of a breeze blowing through the tent and that kept things a little cooler.

The Shepherd bought me a steak and mushroom pie for lunch - yum, yum, yum. I don't know how they make those things but they are delectable!

The worst thing was that the breeze brought the enticing smell of Kettle Corn - about every 20 minutes or so! But I'm happy to report that I was a good girl marched right by the Kettle Corn tent and didn't buy any. (although it might have had something to do with the fact that I was headed towards the Porta-Pottie on a very important mission...ha, ha, ha)

I guess I'll just have to make plans to go to the fair so I can work on that pretty brown fleece.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sneak peak -

From this - (pin drafted wool/mohair blend from Dawn's Custom Carding - picked up 4 bumps at BSG)

To this - OMG I can hardly wait to get spinning on this stuff!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I guess I've slipped a cog...I forgot to tell you about Black Sheep!

Well, you've probably read everyone else's stories about their experiences at this year's Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene Oregon, but humor me as I share my favorite things about the event.

#1 Favorite thing - seeing blogger friends -

MIchelle from Boulderneigh and Denise from "In Sheep's Clothing" (who, by the way, both have several splendid posts about their experiences at BSG) Denise kindly helped Michelle show her lambs.

And then there was Yvonne from Lavender Sheep's Fiber Garden. I have been reading her blog for a couple of years and it was nice to finally meet her - she was very busy in her vendor booth. She is one talented lady!

Isn't she pretty? Luckily, she was already sold or she would have had an all expense paid trip back to Bellingham with us!

I loved the markings on this little Jacob's sheep.

These Teesdale sheep have INCREDIBLY long fleeces - sometimes 12 - 15 inches - I don't know how you would even process that? But they seemed to be sweet sheep. (one would hope, 'cause they are ginormous!)

I didn't have a very good view of the ring, as I was sitting on the bottom rung of the bleachers. Going up in bleachers makes me dizzy and since I am not very steady on my feet anyhow, I just stay on the bottom rung - so you see a lot of sheep butts....

If you get tired of looking at sheep behinds, there is always shopping...

and visiting with more friends, like our fellow Shetland breeder, Donna from Schoonover Farmsin Skagit County.

and watching the crowds of people flowing by - these folks were meeting some Shetland lambs.

We went out and had some lunch - sharing a visit with fellow "Bellinghamster" Yvonne

who raises CVM sheep - (that stands for California Variegated Mutant - don't ask me...) but her sheep are very handsome and had just finished winning all kinds of awards at Estes Park. Both she and her sheep were ready to go home -

and there's ALWAYS more shopping..........

And yet more friends from Bellingham - Doug and Roberta from Breezy Meadows Cashmere Farm.

Last but not least, was the Wool Judging on Saturday. We really liked the judge - he was very knowledgeable about fleece - although he needed a little bit of education about the fact that Shetland fleeces are very likely to change colors as the lamb gets older.

We convinced him that this black & white fleece was not the result of dietary deficiency or stress that it was "just Shetland for -

And here is Mary Beth, the proud owner of that blue ribbon lamb fleece. Just wait til next year, MB, we'll be back!

Word on the street is that the North American Shetland Sheep Association Annual General Meeting (that would be the NASSA AGM) will be at next year's BSG.

Yippee - there will be friends from ALL over for that one!