Monday, February 28, 2011

Melting Ice and River Silt

There is a nice pond at one end of our park, but this isn't that pond. This is simply a low spot in the field. We've had so much moisture, rain, hail, sleet and snow, now even the low spots look like ponds.
This is the real pond.
It's not particularly warm here yet and our weather is still unstable. The low spots, ponds and puddles still have ice. We endured a shower of small hail on our walk to the park today.
The river rose about six feet over its bank earlier this month, washing out portions of the trail and leaving a silty layer of mucky river sand. Work crews have repaired portions of the trail and are workng on others.
Looking down river to the Main Street Bridge, a layer of mud stayed behind after the flood waters receeded, covering what was plush grass.
I hope the work crews scatter grass seed soon. Dirt, mud, silt and sand had worked deep into Torrie's fur by the time we were ready to leave the park. Bathed and brushed as soon as we walked back home, river silt is not a good match for the fur of a fluffy golden retriever. Looks like we'll be checking out other parks until grass once again covers this river bank.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sunshine and Garden Books

We broke our previously set record for low temperatures this week. Yesterday as I was out walking the dog in the morning, it was 17 degrees and that cold wind off the Fraser River was blowing. Reports said the wind chill made it feel near zero. I was out there, I believe it. The sun is not shining here. Today it snowed - again, and I've been ill with a persistently stuffy cold all week.

I would like to spend my days out in my garden working the soil and planting seeds - in the sunshine. But I can't when it's this cold outside and the ground is covered with snow. So instead, I made my way to the library and stocked up on gardening books. I walked out with a stack - "Talking Dirt - the Dirt Diva's Down-to-Earth Guide to Organic Gardening", "Incredible Edibles - 43 Fun Things to Grow in the City", "The Beginner's Guide to Edible Herbs - 26 Herbs Everyone Should Grow & Enjoy", "Grow Great Grub - Organic Food from Small Spaces" and "Sugar Snaps and Strawberries - Simple Solutions for Creating a Small-Space Edible Garden". The books are great and so full of inspiration. They contain wonderful photos and absolutely mouth-watering recipes - well, except for "Talking Dirt".I like a how-to-garden type of book to be full of new information and inspiration. I've been hanging out in gardens since I was a young child. I know quite a bit about gardening. I could write my own book on gardening actually, so a gardening book has got to hold my interest. It's got to be exciting for me and if it's about growing stuff, I want to see some nice color photographs of stuff growing.

To me, "Talking Dirt", a catchy title for sure, seemed to have too many words. The print seemed too small as did the pages. I kept trying to read it, but it seemed all I liked about it was the title. Several times I picked the book up and tried to get into it. Each time, I found myself putting it back down. I found it to be rather dull and boring. It contains illustrations rather than photos, and I must admit, even the illustrations bored me. (So sorry Annie Spiegelman, author, and Maggie Agro, illustrator. Your bios sound great, but your book just isn't for me.)Since I wanted to knit myself a new scarf for Spring, after stopping at the library, I headed to the yarn shop. I'm tired of wearing wool scarves, tired of winter actually, so picked out some Lion Brand Recycled Cotton. What I love about this yarn is that it's made from cotton fabric scraps that would have otherwise been discarded as waste when fabric was cut to produce tee-shirts. I like that where the other similar brands of recycled yarns stocked by the yarn store in which I shop are made in either Turkey or China, these Lion Brand recycled yarns are made in the USA and finished in Canada. The Lion Brand recycled yarn is really a pleasure to work with. The spun cotton fibers are soft, yet not so soft that the knitted piece lacks a good drape.

"Sunshine" is the color I selected, and most appropriate I felt for a scarf to be made during such cold and snowy days. I wanted it to be a casual scarf, an infinity scarf, one continuous loop, something like this - Double Loop Infinity Scarf at Bloomingdales - only a bit longer and in cotton for a chic look with tee-shirts and jeans. Here's the super simple pattern I designed for my new scarf:

Sunshine Infinity Scarf
Materials: 2 skeins Lion Brand Recycled Cotton - Sunshine
Bamboo Knitting Needles - US Size 6
Yarn Needle
Instructions: Cast on 25 Stitches.
Knit rows of garter stitch until both skeins have been used up.
Your knitted piece should measure approximately 5" by 72".
Finishing: With yarn needle, sew narrow ends of scarf together to form one continuous loop. Your infinity scarf is now finished and ready to wear.
How easy was that?
Meanwhile, I can hardly wait to put some of the new ideas I gleaned from my stack of library books to practice in my garden, and I certainly look forward to trying some new dishes this summer inspired by the recipes I drooled over in those books. I'm sure, too, that I'll actually get a chance to wear my new recycled cotton Sunshine Infinity Scarf - in the sunshine.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dish Cloths

It's cold outside. With a brutal wind straight out of the Fraser Valley whipping at our faces if we step outside and rattling our windows when we stay in, it's snowing too. It seemed a good day to pull out my favorite bamboo knitting needles and make myself some new dish cloths.
Here's the pattern.

Materials: Any worsted weight natural fiber yarn, like Lily Sugar 'n Cream Cotton. (One 113g/4 oz ball will make 5 dish cloths.)

Needles: Size 5 (US)

Instructions: Cast on 4 stitches.
Row 1: Knit 4.
Row 2: Knit 2, yarn over, knit to end of row.
Repeat Row 2 - until there are 44 stitches on the needle.
Row 3: Knit 1, Knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit to end of row.
Repeat Row 3 - until 4 stitches remain on the needle.
Row 4: Knit 4.
Bind Off.

Finishing: With yarn needle, neatly work in yarn ends.
Block to make dish cloth square.

Perhaps because this pattern has been around so long that the original designer is no longer known, it's quite simply become known as Grandmother's Favorite Dish Cloth. I can see why it became a favorite. When made with a good-quality cotton yarn, it remains soft and holds its shape well, dish washing after dish washing after dish washing. It's my favorite too.

I've often wondered, who that knits does not know how to make these.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Monthly Dances

There's one of my friends giving a "thumbs up" out on the dance floor. He, along with many of my friends had a wonderful time dancing at the church dance.Several years ago, the building was purchased from the Elks Club and remodeled to become the Mount Vernon Christ the King Church. Now, home to regular worship services and ministries, they just happen to be keepers of one of the very best dance floors in all of Skagit County. We call it a fund raiser, but the price of admission is very low. I think we're having more fun than we are raising money. (Perhaps we should call them fun raisers instead.) We simply move the chairs to expose the dance floor, set up a few tables around the perimiter, pull out the stage and hire a band.

If you look closely, you'll see me just about in the middle of the dance floor. I'm the third person back in what's kind of the center row of dancers. First it's the blue plaid shirt guy, then a gal in purple, then me - in the grey, and then the lady in red. See me now?Thanks, Gina, for taking these first two photos. This month it was Jamin' Jeff that entertained us with his classic rock-n-roll songs. Here's Jeff, posing while I took his photo with my cell phone!
Information about our ministry can be found here - Single Connection. Stay tuned, we have more dances coming up.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dirt! The Movie

As an organic gardener, I think about dirt. I think about what might have gone into my dirt before I started gardening there, and what I contribute to it myself. The Sustainable Living Center, located above the RE Store in downtown Bellingham, Washington is offering a free showing of "Dirt! The Movie" as part of the Wonder of Oneness film series sponsored by Re Sources for Sustainable Communities, the Community Food Co-Op and the Center for Local Self-Reliance. Here's the movie trailer.

Gets me thinking a little more about dirt. The movie is also available to watch online at - Note that near the bottom of their web page, this site states -

"Please Excuse The Ads Which Pop Up On First Click. These Have Nothing To Do With Us. They Are Built Into MegaVideos Player & We Do Not Support Popup Ads of Any Kind!"

I was able to watch the entire movie online WITHOUT downloading that software.

Happy gardening!