Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's Crunch Time, People

I'm sorry, but the next three weeks are going to be mostly blog-free. It's finals. Hopefully I'll get a chance to post some pics from my fabulous trip to San Diego. But I'll catch you all up over the winter break when I'm home with the fam, cooking borscht and making peirogies for our Polish Christmas dinner.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Squash THIS

It's almost Turkey Time! I'm driving down to San Diego with a friend tomorrow afternoon (an 8 hour trip, at least). The vacation is much needed. I'm not sure if you could tell by the drop-off in posting, but my time is really running low right now. So, I will leave you with a pretty picture of a squash leaf infected with a mosaic virus. You know, to put you in the mood for pumpkin pie.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Duck, Duck, Duck . . . CRANE!

Last Sunday morning I woke up at the crack of dawn to go see the sandhill cranes at Cosumnes River Preserve with a bunch of friends and bird watchers.

consulting the guide books

The area of the preserve that we visited is rented to farmers for corn in the summer, then flooded for the birds in the winter.

Jill works at the preserve, so we had access to most of it. But it wasn't hard to find the cranes, they make really loud noises, and they have a bright red mark on their head. We got to see some of them dancing, which was really cool.

Birds are cool, but there are just so many I can look at before I lose interest. But there were some hard-core birders there with their fancy binoculars and guide books, and it was good bird- and people-watching.

The cranes are stopping at the preserve on their migration, and there were "a million billion" of them there (to quote Jill). There were also many many many other types of birds there, and I asked one of the birders present to tell me what I was seeing at one point. He pointed at several birds, had me squint my eyes to follow his finger, and said "duck . . . duck . . . goose." I'm still laughing.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

To Everything, Spin, Spin, Spin

I've been trying to document the process of making wool into yarn in a systematic way, but I have to skip a step and get straight to the SPINNING because I just can't wait! My spinning class started a few weeks ago and I've spun my first two skeins of yarn! Here they are:

The top one is just some practice wool we were given, but the bottom one is my own cleaned Suffolk wool that I received from my friends in PA. This type of yarn is lovingly called "novelty yarn" because it's completely non-uniform and lumpy bumpy.

I also learned that Suffolk sheep are bred for their meat and not their wool, so it's not the best wool to use, but that almost makes me love it more. Trial by fire.

Here is the adorable, brand new, New Zealand Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel I get to use. Check out the little kiwi on the right foot pedal.

Spinning is actually an incredibly frustrating skill to learn because you need to coordinate your hands and feet. Some of us aren't so good at that. My friend Kim was teaching the class the day I tried to spin for the first time and I feel horrible for her because I got so angry and frustrated that I almost kicked that stupid wheel across the room.

I didn't expect it to be so hard, I have to admit. But I'm learning. Here's some single-ply yarn on the bobbin. It doesn't look half bad, if I do say so myself.

I'll go back and document the carding process soon, and hopefully I'll be able to spin enough yarn to dye and make into hats for some special people in PA for Christmas.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Vermillion Lies

What an awesome surprise I got when I cut up the "red daikon" from the last CSA box!

I wouldn't call that red at all.

Coincidentally, I have recently become obsessed with a music group from Oakland called Vermillion Lies. Here are some lyrics from one of my favorite songs, "No Good":

"I never promised you anything,
somehow I'm the bad guy in the end.
You wanted of me,
I'm not gonna give you anything,
I'm no good anyway.

I passed my expiration date,
if you look at the ingredients you'll find
you're allergic to me."

And here's "Circus Fish":

"I cook you up some lobster bisque
I want to smoke you like a fish

You smell like kelp, I think it's hot
I want to stick you in my pot

It's true you are my fish filet
I'll fry you up with some frisee"

Thursday, November 8, 2007

M and Me

We went apple picking.

Then, we baked a pie.

"O, morning without warning like a hole,
and I watch you go.
There are some mornings when the sky looks like a road.
There are some dragons who were built to have and hold.
And some machines are dropped from great heights lovingly.
And some bellies ache with many bumblebees. (and they sting so terribly).

I do as I please.
Now I'm on my knees.
Your skin is something that I stir into my tea.
And I am watching you
and you are starry, starry, starry"

- Joanna Newsom

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dump Your Dryer

There's an interesting post over at Simply Green, Danny Seo's blog, about reducing your clothes dryer usage. He suggests putting the washing machine on an extra spin cycle to get as much water out as possible, then hanging clothes over chairs to dry. An obvious solution, yes, but many of us don't take the time to actually do it.

My last house had a big back yard where I had a fabulous clothes line. But this house doesn't have the space for it, plus, the rainy season is fast approaching and I need a new solution. My friend Jill told me about this great fold-able drying rack from IKEA that I will buy as soon as I can get out there. It's cheap, you can hang a ton of stuff on it, and you can put it outside when the weather's nice. Done and DONE.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

I finally designed and ordered those custom-made Pumas I was talking about before.

I absolutely adore how tacky they are, I can't even handle it.

They're horrible, I know this. But I made them, and I love them.