Thursday, April 16, 2015

Weekend Things ~ Spring!

I'm eyeballs deep in a project and I can't concentrate on anything else until I get it done, but I wanted to pop in here to let you know--spring finally came! Like the flip of a switch, the weather went from 20s/40s last week to the high 60s over the weekend. I went for a walk wearing a sweater--no coat!

As you can see, there was still quite a bit of snow in the woods Sunday, but it's been melting fast and furious all week. And the river has opened up (but for the occasional ice flow).

And even the piles of snow in front of the house have shrunk (sort of).

And C finally made his maple syrup--his first boil happened later than his last boil for the last two years, and it only lasted three days (which is fine with me), but yielded five gallons of syrup.

Our gravel pit pond is still frozen over (it doesn't get much snow), but I heard a peeper and a wood frog tonight in the nearby wetlands.

It's official--spring's here!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Documentation Part II ~ Catching Up

One of my  New Year's resolutions was to catch up on getting my digital photos put into albums. I had planned on doing this two years ago as well, at which point I got three albums done, through 2010, but then I didn't do any more and fell behind again. I could easily have ignored the project for another year, falling even further behind, but early in the year I faced what I thought was a storage crisis on my computer hard drive. It turned out that it was actually a problem with my backup drive not recognizing my hard drive due to an operating system upgrade, but before I figured that out, I went wild sorting through the photos from the time I got my computer, deleting the most egregiously blurry or awful images and transferring M's pictures (eight trillion lego photos) onto a memory stick. It took most of a snow day and several evenings, but once I got through all of 2011 I uploaded and ordered an album.

I found I still take photos of the same things I noticed last time--birthdays and camping trips and kids eating ice cream (and oh, my goodness, how could they have been such little guys only four years ago!!)

I also found proof that yes, we always have snow on Easter.

I only got through half of 2012 before my wrists and eyes rebelled and then I resolved my imagined storage problem and the project lost its urgency. I was afraid that I might put off assembling more albums for another few years and lose all hope of ever catching up, but then around St. Patrick's Day, I found myself feeling homesick for Ireland and decided to put together an album from my trip there in 2013.

I added in photos that our instructor took while we were there and actually did some post-processing on my pictures, which is something I've only recently started doing (and which adds more time to the process). This album documenting ten days turned out almost as big as my year-long albums. Going back through all of those images was such a nice way to relive that amazing trip (and make me yearn for another one!).

I love having our photos on the shelf where we can pull them out and look at them anytime, without firing up a screen. I also love how little space they take up compared to traditional photo albums (I have an entire bookshelf at the top of the stairs devoted to my pre-digital albums). Now I just have to figure out how to keep up the momentum and get 2012 through 2015 done before the end of the year.

How do you manage your digital photos?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April Knit ~ Lambykin

I'm not even sure when I started this project. I tried to find evidence on my blog, to no avail I do know that nearly four years ago, I bought a drop spindle kit at The Fiber Frolic. Perhaps I tried it out right away, spinning a small skein of knobbly white wool, or perhaps I put it off for a winter's day later that year. And then, last Christmas, or the Christmas before, when E was showing a lot of interest in knitting, I bought him A First Book of Knitting for Children. He wasn't too interested in trying out any of the projects, but somehow it was decided that I would knit the lamb (aka lambykin) using that knobbly handspun white wool, for Easter last year (or maybe it was the year before). 

But then I ran out of wool halfway through and so the project sat for a year (or maybe two), waiting for me to buy more white roving and spin it and finish the poor lambykin, who we all but forgot about until last week, when E reminded me about him and pulled out the drop spindle and spun some more knobbly not good for much of anything but a lambykin yarn and finished knitting him up Saturday night.

He's pretty silly-looking and can't stand on his own, but he's soft and squishy. I realize now that this is really a baby toy and has no practical purpose in a household where the youngest members are nearly ten years old (of course the first thing E did was hold its front and back legs like a machine gun at the Easter breakfast table. Of course. 

I think I might make more of them for babies I know, using real yarn of a uniform thickness, because the more I look at him, the more he grows on me. As for spinning, I don't think it's going to be a regular hobby for me. It requires too much patience, attention to detail, ahem, skill. I'm more of a slap-dash kind of gal. Or maybe I just need to take a lesson a do a little more practice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Driveway Love

Saturday was a stay inside kind of day--rainy and then snowy--with lots of insides stuff that needed to get done--housework and projects and cooking and a spontaneous closet clean-out triggered by a desire to hide away all of my wool sweaters in the bottom of a deep drawer (they will need to come back out to be washed once the weather is warm enough to dry them, but disappearing them for now felt good). But late in the afternoon the sun came out and since I had dinner all prepped and a few minutes before my mother-in-law was due to arrive, I slipped outside to take a walk to the mailbox. 

Partway up the driveway, I came across this deer track shaped like a heart.

A few steps later, I saw a heart-shaped rock.

Pretty soon every rock I saw looked like a heart.

I tend to look for heart shapes in nature, but this was getting ridiculous. Was I just feeling extra loving toward my driveway?

I mean, who wouldn't love slogging through this mess every evening after a long day at work?

On the way back home, a load of mail under my arm, I didn't see any more heart-shaped rocks, only my shadow.

And our sorry-looking sugar shack. Poor C hasn't been able to boil any sap yet this year, between the weather and working in Bar Harbor for the last five weeks. 

But now that he's done with that and with the sun making an appearance here and there, this part of the driveway will become a very busy place for the next few weekends.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Weekend

Usually I like to go hiking on Easter, but between the weather and familial obligations, we had to make some adjustments and compromises this year.

Saturday we dyed eggs.

And I made Easter dinner my way--

Fresh and green and lemony (Spanikopita, Greek potatoes, asparagus, and a lemon-blueberry yogurt cheese pie)

We "painted" snow with leftover Easter egg dye.

Sunday morning, we had an egg hunt... the wee hours before there's enough light for proper photography.

And we ate fruit parfaits, Easter eggs, and lots of candy for breakfast.

In a sunny patch between snow squalls, we stomped down to the river to see how the breakup of ice is coming along.

Then later headed to a late lunch/early dinner (linner) at the in-laws that left us full and free for a lazy afternoon.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Weekend Things ~ Still Winter

This is what it looks like where I live right now, at the tail-end of March.

Snowy and muddy and very much still winter.

I was supposed to go to Vermont for the weekend to visit a friend and her new(ish) baby, but I came down with a cold and didn't want to go coughing all over my friend's baby.

Vermont wouldn't have been much of an improvement in climate, but it would have been away, which is something I've been needing lately.

As it turned out, the kids were gone for most the weekend, so it was almost like a vacation, at least from other people's needs.

I found myself in a nearly empty house with a lot of free time, which is a state I dream about but rarely experience, yet I couldn't settle down to do anything.

Whatever powers the perpetual motion that propels me through winter seems to have run out of fuel.

I spent a fair amount of time working on my final project for my naturalist class. I was pretty excited by this turtle for about a minute after I finished it, and then my mind spun into the abyss of "my drawings are so flat I don't understand perspective and they have no character and this is going to be the worst project ever."

It was time to get outside. 

A walk to the (starting to break up) river, and some time just lying around doing absolutely nothing, followed by a little reading and daydreaming helped. Funny how hard it is to do nothing.

When E and Z got home Sunday afternoon, we did a little half-hearted Easter decorating.

It's kind of hard to get in the Easter spirit with snow still so deep I sank up over my knees when I went off trail.

We didn't have any wheat berries for starting Easter grass and no one even dressed up in the bunny costume and hid eggs.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Weekend Things ~ Cabin Fever

We had another tough week, last week, with C traveling for work again, this time through the weekend in order to accommodate busy evenings earlier in the week. I had not expected full-on parenting to be so exhausting. It's not just doing all the cooking and cleaning up and getting on the bus and putting to bed and driving to lessons and picking up from practices that's so wearying. It's the coaxing and urging and answering questions and fielding complaints and breaking up fights and enforcing rules and confiscating iPads and enduring temper tantrums from kids who you'd think are far too old for temper tantrums. C and I have our share of disagreements about who shoulders more of the burden in these various departments, but it's clear that 100% is a lot more than usual. I salute anyone out there who is not co-parenting with another person.

And then there's this time of year. March. Not my best month. I try to be good and not complain about winter all winter long, because really, what good would that do? But by the end of March, I'm good and ready to see some green. And get out. I feel restless. I can't read more than a paragraph or two in a book or magazine or knit more than a few rows of stitches before I toss it aside. TV doesn't appeal. Unfinished projects hold no allure. And housework is definitely off the table. But the urge to go do something makes me feel like bursting through my own skin.

By Saturday I needed to get out. In the afternoon I announced that I was going out to run errands--one of the wonders of having a teenager in the house is that you can leave the house all by yourself--and left the only rule of not going on the river. My only goal was to pick up fancy Easter candy (I had lentil mints on my mind), but I found myself buying spring tops (that are far too cold for this weather--a sure sign of spring fever), browsing a book store, window shopping in a natural foods store.

After I got home and fixed a quick dinner we went out again to see the new Cinderella movie. The boys were skeptical at best, and the "Frozen" short feature before the film did nothing to endear the movie to them. "That was pretty lame," was M's assessment when it was over. "There were no brutal killings," was Z's main complaint. But I thought it was cute and funny, and at least we got out of the house, even if we did have to drive home in a mini snowstorm (of course).

Sunday the sun came out and C came home and we all went for a walk in the woods (the same old woods on the same old trail). But this week I'm feeling the cabin fever take over again. Yesterday evening after work I stopped in a Maine crafts store out by the Turnpike to see a friend's gallery show before it closed and I was just a little tiny bit tempted to hop on that highway and head south. To New Mexico perhaps. I understand it's warm in New Mexico this time of year. But I turned around and came home instead.
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