Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Where to start? – ah, with ChinaDoll’s question. We had a spectacularly wonderful week, as sometimes happens, blue skies, sunshine all day, both of us outdoors all day. No cloud of ash overhead, no smell of sulphur, no smarting eyes, no spectacular sunsets, even. It is hard not to veer towards the conclusion that the Snark is a Boojum. My sister and her husband were meant to fly from Boston to Nice on Sunday evening for a meeting connected with their recent work in Africa, to be followed by some long-awaited family visiting.

At the moment, they are still in CT, re-booked to fly from Boston to Paris tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

There had been a great storm in Strathardle in our absence. We lost a venerable and beloved tree. It was a gean, prunus avium, and we will replace it this fall. It comes under the heading of native woodland, and my husband is anxious not to get something from a garden centre, grown in Holland. I think that won’t be difficult.

From our west lawn -- it fell rather neatly outwards:

From outside. Everything beyond that gate is our neighbours' land:

After scrambling through the tree, looking back towards our bit:

I got a lot of preparatory work done for the ’10 vegetables. The ground was very workable, but it was still cool to the touch, and there is no sign yet of this year’s seedling weeds. Both of these symptoms mean not to press ahead too fast with one’s own seeds, but I put in some radishes and spring onions and spinach and beetroot, just because the sun was shining. And a few potatoes. Plenty of seed left to re-do it all next month.

When we were there in February and March, you will remember, the ground was literally frozen solid. For the February visit, I had taken along some newly-purchased sea kale thongs and also some luscious-looking Jerusalem artichokes given me by the Fishwife. (And if you want to see what a vegetable plot should look like in April, just go have a look at hers.)

All I could do was collect earth from the many molehills – for some reason, not frozen – and store the things in two big flowerpots. The sea kale, last week, turned out to have turned to mush – a rather expensive failure with which to kick off the vegetable-growing year. I’ll put peas in the spot prepared last autumn for sea kale. But the artichokes, in their pot, were happy as Larry, perhaps happier, with roots and sprouts. So I planted them.

Yesterday morning, we woke up to this.


As for knitting, I pressed on, but not very hard, with the Araucania sweater. I’m now an inch and a half short of the shoulder in the back.

And last night, I started casting on for the VK Chevron Scarf, 411 stitches. Most of the experience of knitting it – if I persevere; no guarantees at this stage -- is going to consist of casting on and binding off, so I might as well try to enjoy it.

I got a look at this year’s Games Programme while we were in Strathardle. The knitting classes are “knitted toy” and “article for a premature baby, to be donated”. I won a Knitted Toy class with Sam the Ram in ’07 – it’s far too soon to have that again, and there’s no point in my entering. The thing for the baby is worth doing, and will be quick, and do-able from stash. So I’ll do that. My husband’s sister, who had the bad luck to be present in Sam’s year, thinks I am fiercely competitive. I think I am entering because the Games are more fun if one participates, and so that I can set the grandchildren an example of grace in defeat. Who is right?


  1. You will never kill off these artichokes. It's just not possible!

    I am off to plant a new asparagus bed today. :)

  2. Oh, the poor tree. If it was here (and the right sort) my father could make you some buttons so you could retain some of it!

  3. I greatly enjoyed following Sam's progress in 2007. You may want to look at the Itty Bitty Toys book. The "inside out" toys are wonderful, and would be great fun to knit.

  4. Dawn in NL12:39 PM

    Oh definitely worth participating and being part of a long tradition. I second Phyllis, you should knit a toy too. Your loyal readers will enjoy watching your progress.

  5. Isn't that why such games were established, for competition? Of a friendly sort of course. Enter both categories, and then when the judges decide that Mrs Miles has won too often you can do the gracious in defeat lesson. I don't consider myself really competitive, but that's self delusion.

  6. Alan Dart has some wonderful toy patterns which would be fun to knit.

  7. It's always fun to follow your Games knitting, and I enjoy your gardening adventures also. Welcome back!

  8. Maureen in Fargo8:29 PM

    Part of the justification I always use for entering something in our regional fair is that I want to support them. You know, just in case no one else does. LOL I'm somewhat competitive but I know many people who are much more so. Your attitude doesn't strike me as fiercely competitive, just sort of competitive like me....

    As the others have said, I always enjoy following your progress with your entry but if knitting another toy doesn't thrill then don't. At least knitting something preemie to be donated will be charity knitting, certainly a good justification for any critic.

  9. I agree you will enjoy knitting the baby sweater.
    The photo of snow was quite a shock!

  10. The Games are far more fun if you have skin in the game. I certainly won't quit until I actually win at Musical Cars.

    Alas it seems that our attendance this year is unlikely since our new home is taking up the lion's share of our budget.