A bit excessive

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I’m still spending a lot of time in the garden each day.  I am really loving the spiral vine anchors that the various vegetables are putting out.

But I have learned a lesson about not scouring under every leaf when harvesting. These zucchini grow fast!

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These seem to have grown overnight!  So much for my plan to pick them when they are small.  I only turned my back for a minute!

And the summer squash have started as well.

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We’ve made zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, and breaded zucchini fries.  It didn’t even make a dent.

And now the cucumbers are beginning. . .

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It is smaller than my pinky now, but there are at least 12 plants! I may not have thought out this out carefully enough.  I’m going to have to start sneaking veggies onto my neighbors’ front steps and running away.

When not out watching my vines grow, I managed to finish my caramel/papa sweater. After ripping it out three times, I finally got it right. (Switching to an entirely new pattern helped.)

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The second sleeve went quickly, and I really love the useful new stitch markers I got recently.  Usually I use coil-less safety pins, but they’ve been disappearing over time as all small things do, so I ordered this colorful set of bulb shaped pins.  I like to leave them in the sleeves to show where all the decreases are so that I can make sure I’m matching the sleeves as closely as possible.

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I’ve been auditioning red yarns for the duplicate stitch.

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It looks like a worsted yarn looks the best, so I’ve ordered a skein of dark red Cascade 220 to be sure I will have enough.  All the red I had in quantity were more of a fingering weight.  And I really didn’t want to get 2/3 of the way through the one small ball of worsted I had and run out and not know where to get more.

The duplicate stitching is going to be my evening TV watching project, so it probably won’t finish too quickly.  It is too hot for sweater wearing right now anyway, so no hurry.

Looking closer

The patio knitting continues.  I’ve gotten the first sleeve on my caramel sweater done since the pic below was taken and gotten the double points in for the second.  The yarn is Roslyn from Cascade, a wool/silk blend.  The plan is to duplicate stitch around the bottom in a red design once I’m done with the knitting.

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The knitting would go faster if I wasn’t distracted by the garden.  This time it started with trying to see how close up I could get with my phone and iPad cameras to various surfaces:

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My jeans, the table top, a patio paver, and a slightly blurry zucchini.

Then I went for more zucchini elements.  (Honestly, the zucchini and I are absolutely bonded at this point.)

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From there I was pretty much crawling around on the lawn and patio trying to get as close to various flowers as the camera focus would allow.

8E15DA70-7B3C-4875-8FCE-6517DA4607A0And sharing the scenery with the bees.

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Meanwhile, no-longer-a-puppy Maxx kept watch.

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Well, when she wasn’t messing up my shots by barging in and trying to eat the bees.  That is a lesson soon to be learned.

Bountiful harvest

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The new raised bed soil must be incredibly fertile. The zucchinis have gone mad! They’re about 4 feet tall, and have completely smothered the beans, and the peas behind them have barely managed to escape upward.

And there are a lot of zucchinis starting in there!

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This morning’s harvest beside the bowl – I’ve been trying to pick them when they’re small, but if I let it go a couple of days they don’t wait for me.

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Luckily, my husband likes to bake. So today I’m going sit on the patio and eat chocolate zucchini bread and knit a sleeve on my sweater.

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And figure out a plan for when the late-planted summer squash and the cucumbers catch up!

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Adding shade

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Around 20 years ago, my sister bought a hammock and frame at a garage sale for $25. When they moved she wasn’t able to take it with her, so she “stored” it at my place and I’ve had it ever since.  (I’m still obligated by the terms of the transaction to refer to it at all times as “my sister’s hammock.”)

It has survived four or five moves with me, being left in the rain, being abused by children who used it as a play structure, and it is still going strong. I love my sister’s hammock.

However, lately I haven’t used it as much, because there really isn’t much shade in our current backyard.  It just gets too hot lying there in the sun.

With our new patio area, there was potential for an improved hammock placement. I had a couple of shade sails that we used to use over the old patio. The equilateral triangle I tried first was too small and had the wrong angles for the posts, and the right triangle was way too big. But too big can be solved with scissors.

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A new hem on the longest side, and a pleat to shorten the opposite point, and we now have a hammock in the shade.

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That hexagon area is supposed to be our fire pit seating area, but since we haven’t purchased either the fire pit or the seating yet, it will make a great hammock spot in the meantime.

Life goes random

It’s been a week of great difficulties and a very few random small accomplishments.  Since the big troubles are outside the scope of this blog, here are some of the random things I accomplished this week.

I sewed some fabric masks for my nieces to wear in grocery stores.

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I repotted my window cacti, something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, but I feared the spines.

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I bought the metal pots a while back at IKEA and then drilled a hole in the bottoms for drainage.  A very heavy duty gardening glove saved me from the spines.  And I used a technique I learned on Gardner’s World, where you put the old pot inside the new one and fill dirt around it and then it leaves the perfect sized hole for the plant when you take it out.

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And yet I still got dirt everywhere.

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I also used an egg carton to start some pepper seeds.  I’ve never succeeded at growing peppers, but maybe this year?

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More seeds still to plant.  It needs to be a bit warmer.  I had to put chicken wire around the new raised bed where these seeds will end up because the puppy (who is now 35 pounds!) keeps digging all the nice loose dirt out of it.

.And I did more work on my slippers, which were developing holes around the patched areas.  I don’t know why I don’t just knit new ones, but I’m entertaining myself with different techniques to stretch out their lifespans.  This time I tried needle felting.

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I didn’t have foam or a felting mat so I used my fingernail brush.  Other than the awkwardness of fitting it into the heel it did the job.  I used some of the multitude of fiber I have on hand for the spinning I never seem to do anymore and stabbed away on the inside-out slipper bottoms. It seems to have worked, and it doesn’t show from the outside.  A little more time added to extend their lives.  I’m running out of techniques though, so this might be their last chance and then I will have to pick up the knitting needles.

Other random accomplishments this week:  I ate a lot of cookies, got into zero fights with my housebound teenage sons, and reread a huge number of comfort novels.  All good things.

This is Spring Break week for three of us according to the school calendar.  Kind of meaningless under the circumstances.  My husband is still going to work, but has a furlough week next week as his company cuts back on payroll as orders are drying up.

My high school is going to attempt online school starting next week.  We had an exploratory Zoom session on Monday to see how that would work.  74 of 90 teenagers showed up for it, which was an encouraging sign.  It was so good to see them again, even if only in little squares on my tablet screen!

All but two of the 90 have signed up for the Google Classroom my teaching team has created, so we are hopeful.  We have an integrated project planned that isn’t overwhelming to get started, and a special ed teacher involved to add extra support.  Fingers are crossed.

Hoping you are all safe and healthy, wherever you are.

Well, this changes things

Sometimes the world makes a sudden sharp turn and becomes very bewildering.

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Around here we are all feeling a little like our puppy Maxx right now.  Things are all upset.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I work for a school district. Work is apparently no longer the correct word. The governor of Washington has ordered all schools to be closed, and now we are awaiting guidance from admin about what that means for our students and ourselves.

My particular school is very online. The students all have Chromebooks, and are very used to using Google Classroom on a daily basis. However, that doesn’t mean everybody has access from home, and students who need special services to be academically successful also can’t just open their Chromebook and go for it.

A lot of students also rely on the schools for meals, but I’m happy to report that my district has a plan to continue availability of food. They’re going to run the buses on elementary school routes and at each bus stop people can wait and be handed their food.  They’re also going to have a couple of schools open where students can stop and pick up food.

While what I can only assume are fairly frantic administrative meetings are happening to decide how to deliver education as well as food if (when) this stretches out, the rest of us are at home waiting to hear the plan.  My teaching team and I have been having video meetings and brainstorming possibilities.

And as of now, I’m also self-isolating with two middle school sons, while my husband still has to go into work.

I want to say that I know we are very, very lucky. The state is going to continue to pay my salary while the schools are closed, and so far my husband’s company is not talking about layoffs. Compared to other people, we are going to be just fine. The hair salon my niece works at closed with just 20 minutes notice yesterday, my sister’s second job just laid her off, and with the new notice to close all restaurants and bars and allow only take out, a lot more people are going to suddenly lose their jobs.  So we are grateful for what we have and ready to offer help where we can to others in our community who are less fortunate.

My sister and I visited my mom today.  She lives in one of those active retirement community buildings, where they are highly discouraging visitors. Locked doors and signs everywhere levels of discouraging. So our visit looked like this:

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We’ve told her that we will get her a bucket on a rope so we can keep her supplies of coffee creamer and chocolate topped up.

Luckily, during this sudden downtime, crafters can always come up with things to do.

I’ve started sewing again for the first time in a long time.  Baby quilts must be made!

And then there is the high volume soup making.

And, as long as the sunshine holds out, garden improvements. My new raised bed arrived recently so we put it together today.  It is steel and designed to develop a rusty orange patina very soon.

I also have supplies to make a lot more panels like this wire one that will go up on posts around the yard for vines to grown along.  One down, six more to go.

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And then there is the new puppy.  She is thrilled to have us around all the time!

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So, keeping busy isn’t a real concern. Keeping healthy is, but we’ve got plenty of soap and social distancing.  I know the boys are going to get bored a lot faster than I will, but one likes to play basketball in the street, and the other one sees his friends just as much in video games as he ever did in person, and I’m letting them ride their bikes all around as long as they avoid people. Eventually they’ll get desperate enough to read books and remember they used to like those.

And, as I’ve explained to them, I am certified in this state to assign them homework!

Hoping you all stay safe and healthy out there.