This was a year for rain. June was wet and cool for much of the month and I couldn’t even get things planted until much later than I like to. I forwent the walls o’ water this year because laziness and it ended up being a complete blessing. People who planted in May saw their entire gardens washed away by rain and hail. Early June when I finally got everything planted here’s what it looked like:
Compare that to the pictures I took in June a few years ago and you can see how behind things were this year. Nevertheless, like I said things grew as they do and now I again have a small jungle.
Thus far we’ve had good tomatoes, squash, eggplant, broccoli, a few peppers, basil, tomatillos & carrots, but NOTHING like last year where I just didn’t know what to do with all the produce. I’m not sure if I’ll have enough to can this year, but the big Roma plants haven’t ripened yet and as they’re determinant tomatoes they all ripen at the same time so I might be able to make a few batches for sauce over winter.
This year the kids had their own little plot in the front which they were responsible for choosing, planting and caring for over the year. They’ve done a good job with it and it was delightful to see them full of pride when they would wrest carrots from the ground or check on the peppers for just the right redness to eat!
It’s getting colder now and I’m watching temperatures near daily-soon will be a frost where I will have to pick everything or try and use sheets to cover the plants for a night.
I’m sad that next year with the travels I won’t have a garden. It’ll be the first time in several years. I’ve realized that the garden gives me a sense of real seasonality. From the moment I first plant in the ground, usually mid March, winter is over for me and I no longer want to go snowboarding even though there’s plenty of snow in the mountains. And somewhere around October when the mornings are cool with just a bit of bite, I realize that summer’s really over and I stop wanting to do anything with the garden and let it fall into decay. The rhythm of life and seasons which is so settled for me here will be turned upside down starting next summer, and while there’s an excitement to that and a knowledge of growth, there’s also a wistful feeling of missing what is normal and standard and regular and familiar.
It’s time to start really thinking about the trip for next year. I mean really, really thinking about it.
Which induces not only excitement and happiness and gratitude and amazement and also complete paralyzing anxiety and panic. As wonderful as I know the trip will be, it also just feels SO BIG to think about. There’s all the big things to think about–what do we do with the house, the cars, school, safety, money, where we will go–and then when I’m done worrying about that I start to think about all the little things. Things such as what to pack and what we’re going to eat and will we have cell phones and is it okay for me to bring mascara on this trip? Or does that make me a bad traveler? Or just one who looks a bit better in pictures?
Some of the big things-we’d like to rent the house out, though haven’t entirely ruled out selling it, we’ll be selling one of the cars and probably having a friend keep the other. School is a bit trickier but with some combination of online math/science and using the trip itself for social studies, history and reading/writing I think it’ll be manageable.
As far as where we’ll go, I’ve gotten a stack of books from the library to start researching the first leg of the trip, which will be Japan and Southeast Asia. I’m thinking to start in Japan, then fly down to Vietnam and explore the peninsula. I’m not sure about visiting China, but it all depends on how much time we have and how much anyone who’s been there convinces me we HAVE to go. The second leg depends on whether Eric gets the Fulbright Scholarship he’s applied for in Timisoara, Romania or not. If so we’ll be there from perhaps October through December, and likely do some exploring of Eastern Europe at that time. If not then we’ll likely do longer stops in East Asia. December/January ideally we’d spend 3-4 weeks in India, then in February we’d head to Ireland where Eric is teaching a Study Abroad program near Dublin. During or after that time we’ll travel in Western Europe. Nothing of course has been set in stone, and if there’s someplace that you tell me we MUST go to, we can change our trip.
Overall we’re planning a slow travel type of a trip, where we find a rental for 1-2 weeks in a place and then do day trips from there instead of moving every day. I’ve been reading some family travel blogs and this seems to be what works best especially when traveling with kids. It also gives us the ability to have a more relaxing down day in the week where we plan the week, do homework, etc.
I’d like to be better about documenting this trip, so my goal is to start writing on at least a weekly basis to get in the habit of doing so. It’s surprisingly easy to find time NOT to write, as those of you who write well know, and I hope that by making it a priority now it’s easier to continue when we’re on the road.
So here we begin!
After a bit of a hiatus I’m going to try to keep this up again. I was looking through old posts and seeing how much I’d forgotten about the kids and how they were and what we’ve done that I realized it’s so nice to have the archive to look back on. So there’ll be some catch up posts as I try to get back to present day.
In April we went on a camping trip to Fruita to go mountain biking, and it was overall super fun. We went with another family who are all excellent bikers, so for most of the days they were off biking the more challenging runs and I was with the girl going down some of the easier ones. She did amazing for a 7 year old, in my opinion.
The girl scooting down kessel’s run
The next day we went a bit further and went to Loma for the beginner’s trail there, which was also great with some pretty views of the Colorado river.
Ate lots of pizza at the Hot Tomato, which I must say tastes great after riding in the hot sun all day! We were staying at a rustic campsite (read: no running water/showers) and were entirely disgusting for 3 days. I couldn’t wait to get home and wash all the grime off of me. The kids, however, relished in the filth. Shocking.
A few weeks before that the boy had asked me to make a sweater for him, which I was happy to do! Eric and I took a birthday trip to Crested Butte in March sans kids where I had purchased some hand dyed green and black yarn that I knew he would love. I made the rookie mistake of thinking I had enough yarn for a sweater, and ended up needing to buy some extra yarn to complete the sweater. This ended up being a good thing-I think the whole sweater in the variegated yarn would have been a mess. The yarn pooled a lot in the lower half of the sweater, but the boy said he liked it and loves his cozy oversized superwarm sweater.
Pattern: Big Kids Bulky Mock Turtleneck
Yarn: Hand dyed from Crested Butte & Black Cascade bulky held double
I finished it in the car on the way to Fruita, and it was an excellent companion for the cold desert nights.
Up next: a skirt I made for the girl, a sweater I’m working on for myself, and a flashback to Christmastime!
Let me start by saying that growing up we never really celebrated the Hindu holidays much. I remember once we went to temple for Holi which was a lot of fun, and one trip to India for Diwali, which was fabulous, lighting firecrackers every night. Some of them I’ve only learned about when my Indian family and friends start wishing each other a happy something-or-other on Facebook, and I’m sent to Google it and figure out what it is I’m supposed to be celebrating. (Case in point: Dussehra, which I only learned of a year or two ago.)
So when, a few days earlier, my new and very cool cousin Shefali posted something about asking what traditions people do for Raksha Bandan, I thought it would be a good place for our family to start celebrating some of these traditions. Raksha Bandan, for those of you who don’t know (or haven’t already gone to Google) is a day to celebrate the bond between sister and brother. In my Googling, I learned that it is to celebrate the chaste bond between brother and sister, so sometimes girls will tie a rakhi (bracelet) onto a boy that they think is getting too interested. It’s like a ritualized friendzoning.
Of course, I didn’t really know how to celebrate other than to tie a bracelet, so back to the internets. I did call my mom the day of, but no one answered the phone. Most of them agreed that you have the sister perform a puja (prayer) to the brother and then tie a bracelet on to him. He is then supposed to say that he will protect her and give her a gift.
Rakhi in India range from simple to very, very elaborate, even with some using gold and diamonds. We opted for the simpler route and I thought it would be more meaningful if the kids made bracelets for each other. One of the advantages of being a mercurial crafter is that you have a lot of random supplies around the house from well-intentioned crafting excursions. From the time that I thought I was going to start making friendship bracelets again and also thought I’d take up embroidery (um, yeah), I had quite a bit of embroidery floss around.
I had the girl make a simple braided bracelet with beads, and the boy made a simple knotted bracelet also with some beads (from that time I thought I’d start making my own jewelery). I figured, it’s 2014 and it seemed to make sense that the brother and sister do puja for each other and give each other bracelets instead of just sisters to brothers. (sorry for the lack of good pictures in this post-I was too involved with actually participating to focus on taking good images.)
On the day of Raksha Bandan, Eric pulled out the puja set that my parents had given me some time ago. I started by lighting the oil lamp, which I learned is supposed to use clarified butter. I didn’t have any on hand so just used vegetable oil. I quickly learned that this burns through fast and had to use tweezers to remove the wicks before they set off the smoke alarms. Then, I needed some incense (“to provide a pleasing aroma for the deity,” says the internet) but we didn’t have any. I leaned over our backyard fence and asked our cigarette-smoking neighbors if they had any, and they did! It takes a village, no?
The puja tray looked a little bare, so I put Ganapati on it for good measure. I figure, what can go wrong if he is watching on? The Girl insisted that he wear his “necklace,” which is the strand of pearls that Eric and I wore around our heads when we got married and that usually live draped around Ganapati on our mantelpiece. Why not?
Then we went outside for the ceremony. First the girl and boy did puja for each other and tied bracelets on each other, saying that they would love and protect each other.
Two of their friends were over and so they participated as well, with the the girl tying a simple cord onto their wrists. It was all very sweet and I’d like to think that it was why they played so nicely for the rest of the evening.
It was really, really lovely to do and to see them with each other, even if the kids didn’t take it quite as seriously as I would have liked. It’s made me think that we should be more intentional about celebrating other Hindu holidays as well. Maybe Diwali this year? Or I’ll get really into things and figure out what Dussehra is and how I’m supposed to celebrate it.
My parents really tried to get me to be a musician. Five years of piano lessons, but the truth is I’m just not that musical and I hated playing.
I can’t believe how different the kids are in that regard-they’ve gotten Eric’s musical talent (thank goodness) and actually enjoy playing. Today the boy disappeared for a while and when I went to check on him, this is what I found him doing:
Not sure how I got so lucky to have such a great and talented kid, but I’m grateful every day.
Summertime has been a blast so far. The boy did his week of mountain bike camp and started doing some small jumps (and making my heart stop), my sister had a beautiful and fun wedding [for which there will be a separate dedicated detailed post, as my sister already called to complain about this], and then we went to Disneyland & the beach!
Disney was so fun. It’s been interesting to me that when I told people we were going to Disneyland, the reaction was one of a polar pair. Either people looked at me with pity, and said something about how brave I was and how they could never do it, or their eyes gleamed with excitement and they started telling me about inside tips and how much they love it. To the former, I was like, really? I’m going to DISNEYLAND, not having chemotherapy. I actually feel sorry for people who can’t have fun there or hate it. Quite a few, though, I suspect, say that because they think it would just be too commercial and anti-intellectual to say that they could possibly have fun there. My husband falls into this category. To the latter, I say, you are my people. Let’s go ride.
There’s a gazillion blogs about ways to do Disneyland, and I read most of them, which meant that while I was somewhat maniacal about getting FastPasses and checking wait times on my phone, also meant that we waited in no line longer than 25 minutes and had so much fun.The best was the pin trading, which the kids got super into! The kids and I are looking forward to a trip to Orlando at some point in the future. Eric says that he’ll stay home and revel in being a curmudgeon instead.
After getting back, I was honestly depressed for a while. It was 8 total days of fun, and getting back to work and routine was hard. Especially when the rest of my family came back from vacation to…more summer vacation.
It was nice to get back to the garden this year. We’ve moved some things around, so that where we had had herbs in the central circle area we’ve now moved them back to be next to the bean screen. There’s less sun there so it’s a better fit for those plants and we have more room for vegetables. New this year: cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, different types of squash, and different types of tomatoes. I got new tomato cages on the recommendation of my neighbor, and while not cheap have been fantastic. For the first time the plants are happily supported and I’m not spending a bunch of time trying to make the flimsy little triangle cages stay upright by bolstering them with garden stakes.
My vision for the teepee in the middle was to have vines growing up it, and I left an opening to create a little hiding space for the kids. Sadly, the beans just haven’t grown well there. Maybe it’s the variety I chose, maybe it’s because we’ve grown corn there for the past few years and the soil is depleted. I do fertilize with a natural fertilizer but, well, not everything grows well every year.
The other thing different this year is that I’ve been spraying with neem oil, a natural pesticide. According to the bottle, it doesn’t harm ladybugs but prevents bad bugs from eating or laying eggs on your plants. I will say that the aphid population has been near zero. The potato beetles don’t seem to care too much and nibble away, but don’t seem to be doing too much damage.
Another fun thing with all this rain has been all of the volunteer plants we’ve gotten! Two volunteer tomato plants, a bunch of dill, parsley, lettuce, cilantro. Some of these I just let go to seed so we keep getting more. The overall effect of this is somewhat jungle like given that there are plants popping up all over. I feel like if these plants are tough and determined enough to grow without actual irrigation, they deserve to live.
I have forgotten what kinds of squash I planted, unfortunately. I can’t remember if these are winter or summer squash. I have one that is giant, and am waiting to see if the shell hardens or not. This year again we have practically no squirrels chomping on the squash-two years of a late frost killing the blooms on my neighbors fruit trees has meant a large die off in the population. Thank you, Thomas Malthus.
We’ve already harvested our first tomato, kale, chard, basil, and of course plenty of other herbs. Should be a great rest of the growing year!
Dear Friends, I have done that which I promised never to do.
I have knit something truly ugly.
This is not really the first time I’ve ever knitted something hideous, but the last time was really more because I didn’t know what I was doing. That time I was knitting a little hat with berries on it, and I used a variegated yarn thinking that each berry would be a separate color and oh how cute that would be and really, it was a splotchy mess. That hat was undone and became some washcloths.
That hat is one of the reasons I’m leery of variegated yarns anyway. I’ve done some other projects with them but have learned only to use variegated yarns that are tonal variations so it’s a subtle color shift, otherwise you end up with a piece that looks like clown vomit.
So for this piece, the intent was there, I used a tonal variegated yarn with a solid yarn to knit with it for strength and thinking that it would add consistency of color. Instead what I ended up with was this:
What is that thing, you might ask. Well, it is meant to be a fetching little shoulder capelet thing to wear over tanks or sundresses, or flipped around as a scarf.
See how cute it is on the pattern page?
by Hillary Smith Callis
Yarns used: Habu A-60 Linen Paper Shoseni, 1 skein
Habu A-1 Tsumugi Silk
Maybe, I thought, maybe it will look better ON. You never know.
I’m too embarrassed to even spend time with it on to take better pictures. It doesn’t help.
Here it is worn as a “scarf”
I was especially excited since it’s with my beloved Habu yarns, a linen paper yarn and a silk held together, which I thought, hey, linen and silk! perfect for summer. But the linen is a paper linen and I thought it would soften with washing and it’s like wearing raffia.
Eric says I look like I’m wearing a bib. And he’s right.
I’ve shown a few people this and said, testing, “This is so ugly!” Hoping that they would disagree with me and say something like “No! It’s beautiful!”
That hasn’t happened yet. Usually I just get a face and a sucking through the teeth and a slow, knowing, nod.
So it’ll be unraveled and made into something else. Maybe. Or I might just have some knitters PTSD with it and it will languish in my stash, forever.