Veggies, Gnomes, and Fascism

I love summer! It’s the vegetables. So many, so colorful, so tasty. At every meal Stephen recites what on the table is from our garden.

At the same time I’m starting to be sad because I know it’s coming to an end. We had an early start this year. Probably has everything to do with the drought. Early start, earlier ending.

There is a wind at times and a little yellowing of the leaves that has nothing to do with nitrogen deficiency. The pile of tomatoes on the counter is getting smaller. We are getting caught up. Eventually there will not be enough.

I’m not a preserver. It’s just not my thing. And, I don’t have enough veggies in the garden to do that.

But I do cook and have a look at dinner the other night before the tomatoes were added.


On the Halloween gnome front, progress has been made. It’s becoming tedious. There must be a lesson in there somewhere.


The flash went off while taking the picture and it turned the purple into blue. I have a long way to go.

Last night we watched a movie on netflix that is still haunting me. The movie is called “Die Welle” or “The Wave” in English. It’s set in modern day Germany and adapted from a real life occurrence at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto in 1967.

Being born in Germany puts lots of history in the baggage I carry around. I want to believe that if by chance I end up in a social experiment I would act in a way that would make me proud. But that is hubris, right?

In the movie last night I could see myself for the first time not necessarily being a hero. The most chilling scene was the students marching in place and in step to disturb the students below. A lesson in how to create an enemy. I highly recommend watching it.


OCD Disguised?

If I would put my energy into other parts of my life like I do with knitting, I would be a smashing success.

Only a fellow knitter would understand the obsession patience it takes to find the right pattern for the next project. Ha, if only. Instead, hundreds of patterns are stashed in  Ravelry or in files on the computer. A search for the next pattern only ends up increasing the pattern stash. I’ve been there way too many times. And surprisingly, it’s just that, stash. Hardly ever looked at, wondering why it’s taking up space.

But the diligence with which patterns are collected and fiber stash increased is incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced. I can only imagine that training for the Olympics or the World Cup would come close. But both lack the aspect of the hunt.

If you believe I only have to taste two more sock yarns and then will die happily, you are caught in my web. Heck, I’m caught in my web. And it’s a very sticky one.

The yarn opens up a whole other world of obsession passion. Three more yarns and I’ll die happy. Yes, we’ve heard that one before. Way too familiar. It’s not even that so many new companies emerge, there are already way too many out there. Just join me at Stitches West and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Don’t believe a word I say about taking a hiatus, it’s the calm before the storm of new yarn acquisition.

I do knit. Lots, even. It just takes less time to buy yarn than to turn it into something useful, and honestly, that’s not my fault. I knit as fast as I can.

I’m no knitting slouch. I repeat knitting motions more often than anyone with OCD washes their hands. I’m not being facetious here, but it has occurred to me that us knitters might have channeled our OCD into knitting, successfully I might add. What other repetitive movement brings this much pleasure? Name one – and crochet does not count, same territory.

Over and over, thousands of stitches, day and night. There are patterns where you’re told how many stitches it takes. You tell me that’s not OCD.

What brought this thought on was last sleepless night. Before closing my eyes, I read a bit, played a game on the iPad a bit, and then thought I could fall asleep. I did in a twilight sort of way. I kept on imagining knitting, then pulling out some stitches and the yarn falling into place in a certain pattern. Over and over and over. It was driving me crazy and kept me from falling asleep. And right then I realized that I’m incorporating knitting into everything I’m doing. Including playing games.

It does not help that I’m making Korknisse for Halloween to give out as favors. So, so many of them. Crochet. Single crochet, over and over and over.


So I’ll keep on hiding under the statements that I’m making hats and gloves and sweaters, and shawls, and withhold the fact I’m doing knit and purl and yarn overs, over and over and over.

Journey to Riverhill Farm

Every Wednesday I’m looking forward to 2 o’clock. That’s when our farm-stand opens.

We pack plastic bags and shopping bags, decide if we want to run any other errands, today it was the library, and head to the farm about 5 miles from us.

It’s never a disappointment. I do get anxious a bit if I see too many cars parked outside the farm gate, but there is always an abundance of vegetables.

I immediately grabbed some basil. Our go-to recipe for basil is vegan pesto. Throw a bunch of basil into the food processor, add lots of garlic, a pinch of salt, some pine nuts and turn the machine on. Slowly add some extra virgin olive oil until it all has reached the right consistency.


Stephen went for the pluots, he loves his fruit. And so do I.


The peppers were exquisite and we bought three kinds. The nardellos are the red beauties below. I already bought some seeds to grow my own next year. Their colors are so vibrant, from a dark purple to a bright red.


Of course gypsy peppers are a must, a staple while the farm sells them. Ranging in color from mostly yellow to orange and a bit of red.


And then there were poblano/ancho peppers, and jalapeno peppers, and serrano peppers, and padron peppers. We grow our own Thai peppers so no need to add more spicy peppers. And one pepper we grow promises to be the hottest there is though I forgot its name. Padron is also growing in our garden, but this year I forgot about the ancho peppers. And with a prefect Chile Rellenos recipe I hardly can wait to taste them.


Though I’m not going to take pictures, my favorite are the lettuces. That’s also a staple for us and something we eat every day. They did sell kale but I already bought some at the store yesterday, grown by the same farmer.

Stephen wanted an eggplant and they were so plump and dense, I’m happy with the tactile experience alone. But it can’t hurt adding another sense to the mix, like taste.


A big part of the farm are tomatoes, but we have these in abundance this year in our garden. The same with zucchini. Of course our tomato plants don’t even come close to the size of theirs. I had Stephen stand in front of them to give you an idea. And can you see the huge tomatoes? I believe they are heirlooms.


My favorite tomatoes and I might as well not grow any others are the sungold tomatoes. I might have 7 or 8 plants growing. There are little cherry type tomatoes in yellow/orange. There is no better taste. I grow bigger red tomatoes for slicers on a caprese salad and such. I don’t have to worry about my plants giving up because they have had an early season, because I’m sure our farmer can keep me in sungolds.


A nice visual treat is the amaranth growing right next to the sungolds. Doesn’t it look like they are giving someone the finger?


This makes for very delicious Wednesdays I always look forward to.

Now on to cooking and processing. But most of it we eat raw in a salad.

But kale chips and pesto are in my near future. I have been a bit lazy after having hurt my back and have taken it easy. But all this wonderful food makes me want to get back into the swing of food. Hello stove, hello dehydrator, hello!



Feeling Low

It’s that time again. Just finished a knitting project, a thick pair of socks. What’s next? Usually it flows. But there are times it doesn’t, it doesn’t even trickle, drought time.


Yes, they’re huge size 14/15 and yes, if you want to argue that not having woven in the ends does not count as finished, go live in that world. In mine they’re done.

It’s not that I have no ideas. But either I don’t have the right yarn, the right mood, the right pattern, the right needles, the right anything. It’s all wrong, wrong, and wrong. And that’s when I start feeling real, real low.

Wanting to learn another knitting skill, I checked out Knitting One Below from the library. I love the cool columns that technique makes. A simple scarf is my goal, nothing complicated.

First of all, it takes slow color changing yarn, actually that’s a “check” for me. And it takes figuring out the stitch, check, that was a super easy check. The right size needles: lots of searching, since I never have the right size needles.Why not? After all, I have tons of needles and in every size and make. But, they are all on WIPs (Works In Progress) somewhere on the yarn shelves. I settled for what I thought was the right size in wood. I’m not a big crazy fan of wood or bamboo needles anymore. Give me my Signature needles or my Addis.

But now the problem: I hate the yarn, especially with the needles. The gauge is wrong, I knit wrong, not tight enough, I cast on too many stitches. Yes, what could go wrong, went wrong. Why could I not follow the pattern? It said to cast on 19 and that it was enough. It did not look enough to me, but 25 are certainly way too many.

I love what the yarn does, and at this point if I don’t unravel I’m hoping there’s enough for the length of the scarf. I could do some math with my scale to be sure.


I then took from the shelves about every slow color changing yarn I had 2 skeins of and cast on. That’s depressing, nothing seemed as right as the one above. I have an easier time unraveling after I put a project aside for a while and get some distance from the work I put in it. Sort of the principle of giving birth. If the birth memory stayed too long, there might never be second babies.

Frustrated, huffing, and puffing, I wove in the ends to a stack of dishcloths.


I have no plan yet to lift me up. But I’m working on it. Dealing with lows and downs makes me think of the recent suicide of one of America’s idols. Robin Williams. I got me thinking. Paying so much tribute to someone who took his own life scares me. It’s sort of a validation of suicide. I wonder if the suicide numbers go up after a famous person commits suicide.

Corporations use famous people to market their brands. They know consumers want to be like famous people. And using the same brand brings the consumer a little closer.

I’m not trying to judge here. Robin Williams must have been in lots of pain, I get that. It’s what we make out of it now. Some call it celebrating his life, but some might have a darker view on this. Just saying….

Stop Right Here!

It used to be that I had bad days. As I get older these days draw out and it’s more like bad weeks. I’m in the middle of such a period right now.

The latest happened exactly two weeks ago when I reached into our cooler and ended up in agony on the floor with lower back spasms.

I know from experience that if I don’t break the spasm cycle I’ll be out for weeks. So instead of heading to San Francisco, we head to the hospital. A couple of shots later, I barely make it out to the car. For everyone who’s had that, you know. For the rest of you, light a candle to the higher being of your choice.

Self-medicated me then heads from San Jose to San Francisco, where we had arranged a house exchange for a few days.

If you saw a woman the next day bent over like a 110-year-old or someone who’d lost their contact lenses, walking toward Imagiknit, you guessed right, that was me. But it also was the last time you saw me on the streets of San Francisco. Though Imagiknit is only a few blocks away from our house exchange gig, I never made it back as I promised. Instead, I tested out the comfort of their couch. All 5 days.

As any knitter will know, I had along so many knitting projects and yarn, I could have stayed there the rest of the year. Also, it’s no fun knitting on your back. I have no idea how the time washed over me, mostly in a daze or asleep from the medication.

Totally in awe of myself, we somehow made it back home. And exactly two weeks after the cooler incident I’m still in pain, on heavy-duty doctor-approved pain medication and in my chair in front of the computer for the first time today.

You’re caught up. I wish we could catch up with our tomato abundance. At the time I took the photo I was delusional, thinking this was a lot of tomatoes. We have at least three times as much now, and they keep on ripening at a pace I can’t even walk at.


The tomato below is a deep purple-red, fleshy and exquisite.


When something happens, something unexpected, I usually find out that I’m not alone. Thanks to the interwebs I find my experiences duplicated over and over.

A few weeks ago a friend and I were chatting in our living room when we heard the strangest of noises. To be honest, neither of us had any idea what it was nor had ever heard such a sound before. We did eventually figure out it came from outside. And this is what we found:


It turns out that exploding patio tables are not all that rare. We’ve had this one long enough I don’t mind having to get a new one. In wood, please. Imagine sitting at the table eating when this happens.

In other news, I put in a drip system in the garden, probably contributing to the back issue. It would have been so much easier to do with starter plants, but always going for the hard way, I was digging around mature plants trying to find their stems and the right placing of the drip in 100-plus degree heat.

No pictures of knitting today? I finished a hitchhiker shawl made with Wollmeise yarn, ok, the ends need weaving in, but who’s looking right now. I finished a pair of socks, again, I have to close up the toes. There just might be 5 pairs of socks needing a similar finish. I feel the holidays starting to breathe down my neck.

This pony is also learning a new trick, toe-up socks. Got some Socks That Rock heavyweight yarn. The problem is that the pattern Spice Man from Yarnissima I’m using doesn’t accommodate the thick yarn. I’m making it up as I go. And I’ve reached a point of stuckness. I have no idea what the pattern is talking about. Where do I do the decreases? The solution is making another pair of socks in thin sock yarn and following exact directions so I can tell where the decrease happens. For sure not where I tried to put it. As my friend Meg says, there’s got to be someone out there who is contorted enough that it will fit. Meg, I don’t think that holds true. At least not with anyone I know.

Someone recently asked about a baby sock pattern. I just scale down my go-to sock pattern. I love the littleness and cuteness. And did I mention they are super-quick to make?!


Confession time. I got more fiber to spin. But I have a good excuse, really. I love Inglenook Fibers. And my first ever hand-spun hand-knit item left me a few yards short. Probably because I can’t spin exquisitely thin yarn yet. I’ve been looking for months to find a fiber that I could finish the cowl with and finally: success!



Time to get off this chair and into something more comfortable.